Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday - 1994

20 years ago.
10 years before we even got married.
Living on opposite coasts.
Him with a military career & me off at college.
Our lives would go in very different directions & down different paths
until we finally met in 2003 & fell in love.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Small & Sassy

X-ray & Surgery Talk

Never did I see this conversation coming... at least not at age 6.

Thomas told me tonight that he would really like to get an x-ray done, preferable of his arm or foot.
I asked why and logically he shared how "cool" and interesting it would be to see inside his body.{I'm thinking at this point that they must have discussed something in Health or Science class that prompted this topic}.

As he was getting his PJs on, the topic of x-rays came up again and he asked me if I have ever had one taken.  I told him that I had indeed had many x-rays taken over my years - foot bones, chest & lungs, and even had fancy pictures taken of my knees and my brain.
Boy did this discussion turn a different direction after I offered up that last detail... the one about my brain.

T: "Mom, why on earth would the doctors need to take pictures or x-rays of your brain?"

What followed was a series of Q&As for about 20 minutes as we just sat alone in the bedroom.  He asked questions that were thoughtful and critical.  He wanted to grasp details as well as understand the scope of my "brain" problem and what the doctors did to fix it inside my head.  As I tried to offer simple answers and explanations, he would chime in with more complex wordage that I hadn't used yet with him... like the term, "brain stem" and "vertebrae." What 6 year old has heard of that or for that matter, uses that term in conversation?  Crazy and strange for him to understand what I was saying.

In the end, as he gently touched his finger along the 3" scar on the base of my head where my neck meets my hairline, he asked me softly, "Mom, you don't hurt anymore, do you?  Was it scary to go through a brain surgery like you had to?"

He's intrigued.  He's curious.  He's fascinated.  He really wants to understand how the pieces of any "puzzle" work - including the human body.  Once again, Thomas is stopping me in my tracks with his thirst for knowledge and comprehension.  And in this case, his interest in x-rays & surgeries.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let me count the ways

It's easy to love our kids.
It's even easy to love ON our kids.
And it is most certainly fun to spoil our kids.
But...when it's time to UN-spoil the kids, well... that's not so fun. 
As parents, we ache to give our kids every possible advantage.  But in the end so much of preparing to launch them into the world is about withholding stuff. 
It is necessary & part of our job as mommies & daddies.
Here are some of the so-not-fun ways my hubby and I have shown our love
to our children over the years.
1. We went through the essential but painful (for us) process of sleep-training our kids.  Each of the kids was different, but I'm thankful that we started early and that we hung in there... despite the many, many nights we slept on their floor so that they got comfortable in their bed or that they learned what the bedtime routine was.  The reward (for everyone) is we have some serious rock star sleepers!
2. We took away bottles & NUKS when the time was right.  I'm not sure who found it harder to let go, but I do know that for dental health and speech development, it was key.
3. We set bedtimes.  Pretty reasonable ones at that, despite the fact that they hear their friends get to stay up much later.  We also have a bedtime routine - bath/shower, snack, brushing teeth and reading books together.  They know what to expect... and so do we.
4. We still have quiet and/or nap time.  And whether people believe it or not, a little bit of quiet & alone time in their room is tremendous for their energy & attitude.  And I won't even mention how great it is for Mommies & Daddies.
5. We said no.  Over and over again.  To all manner of requests.  To whining & begging and sad eyes.  Not 100% of the time - but enough for the kids to realize there are limits to their powers of persuasion.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend Photo Dump

Heading off to gymnastics class together!


Our 1st 3D movie - Walking with Dinosaurs - with the kids at BearTooth TheatrePub!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

This is to us, the military wife

As Brian's impending Air Force retirement looms closer, many emotions are swimming in my head & in my heart about this life changing milestone for our family.  I'm sure I will post many things in the coming months to describe those feelings, to look back on those years, and to document for our kiddos the unbelievable Air Force career their Daddy has had and our plans for the future.
Meanwhile, I thought I would post this personalized version of "The Military Wife" - a peek at what things were like standing in my shoes.

To all my military mommy & wifey friends, including my own mom and my mother-in-law, who did it, are doing it, and will continue to do it. I'm proud to be a part of this club, despite it being one of the most mentally and emotionally difficult things I could ask for in my life. 
But the reward is the love of my sweet husband, Brian and my 3 beautiful children.

This is to you, the one who married the uniformed man. To you, the one who stands beside him. You, the one with whom he links arms, but not hands, because, of course, intertwined fingers aren’t authorized while in uniform.

This is to you, the one who planned your wedding alone while he was across the globe. To you, the girl who met him at the airport and drove straight to the rehearsal. To you, who spent one week with your new husband before he boarded a plane and flew away for the first six months of your marriage.

This is to you, the one who plans your career around being transient, knowing you won’t stay anywhere long. To you, the one whose resume is a mile long, but not because you can’t hold a job. You, the one who works at the bank, the salon, the retailer, the clinic, the studio, logging long hours to supplement military earnings.

This is to you, the base housing goddess. The one who reuses curtains, rearranges furniture, and transfers the pictures from one faded white wall to another. The one who hopes for an address in the good neighborhood, prays for quiet neighbors and crosses your fingers for appliances constructed during your lifetime.

This is to you, the off-base dweller. The one who dreams of paying a mortgage instead of rent. The one who forms community with people who don’t always understand the demands on your life, people who have family nearby, people who don’t plan to move away in three years. You, the one who ensures the military clause in your lease, ever prepared to break the contract if you’re ordered to move in less than a month.

This is to you, the one who hasn’t been home in two years, because your parents are thirty hours away and plane tickets are expensive. To you, the one who sends photos and plans Skype dates when new babies are born. You, the one who spends Thanksgiving with friends you’ve met at church.

This is to you, for when you felt yourself slipping, darkness pressing close, and everyone told you to buck up, told you it was just stress. To you, the one who heard that weakness is failure and that admitting it would harm his mission. To you, for when you went to the clinic doctor anyway and were strong enough to ask for help.

This is to you, the one who stands in the dining room, wiping the table with a rag the night he comes home and announces he has orders. To you, whose heart drops to your feet as your eyes lock with his. To you, the one who breathes in sharply, who feels your throat tighten. You, the one who wipes tears and stands taller and feels ill and immediately begins to compose a mental checklist.

This is to you, the one who wakes at 3am and bundles the little ones in blankets. To you, the one who drives him to an empty blackened parking lot. You, the one who waits in the cold while he loads his sea bags, gathers his weapons.
This is to you, the one who clings to his neck, who kisses his lips, who waves your hand high while he drives away on a full white bus.
This is to you, the one who waits for a call, who keeps your cell phone glued to your hand. To you, the one who checks the mailbox incessantly and refreshes your inbox ten times an hour. You, the one who quells the ever present pit in your stomach and refuses to listen to the news.
This is to you, the one who holds your little ones when they don’t understand. The one who explains why Daddy is gone again, or why he’s working so late each night, or why it’s time to say goodbye to their friends yet again. This is to you, the one who steels yourself, for them, when your own heart breaks.

This is to you, the one who maintains the routine, who moves through the days, who sits in the quiet of the evenings. To you, the one who pays the bills, mows the lawn and takes the car for its tune up. You, the one who falls asleep on the couch, who tries to fill the bed by sleeping diagonally.
This is to you, brave military wife, the one who counts the days and then the hours and then the minutes until he returns.
And then he does.
This is to you.
This is to you, the one who makes it to ten years, and then to fifteen, and then to two or three decades. To you, the one who thought he’d be out by now. To you, the one who remains as he reenlists, as he pins on rank, as he earns medals. You, the one who holds him close, knowing he’s yours, but sharing him every day.

This is to you, Marine wives, Army wives, Navy wives, Air Force wives, Coast Guard wives. I raise my glass to you, the brave and proud ones, strong and valiant ones, veterans in your own right.
This is to you.
This is to us.
Originally posted by Ashleigh Baker

Neighborhood Visitors

As I pulled into the driveway after work the other evening,
I found these guys visiting out neighborhood... and enjoying a little snack in our side yard.
I don't care how many times you have seen moose up close, it never gets old.  Never.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Homework Center

1st grade math homework.
Every night... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday.
Addition & Subtraction.
He knows his stuff.
As long as he is not distracted by his sisters, his toys or the TV,
Thomas sits at the kitchen table & confidently works through his packet.
Each page is checked by Mom or Dad.
And each page earns a thumbs up!
It really is so neat to see him work - he says each problem aloud, reasons through how to set up the number problem and then just like the little mathematician he is,
solves them one by one.
I'm a little bias, but we have a super smart cookie on our hand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

(Not) Wordless Wednesday: Perfectly-sized Package

So help me God if I'm lying...
The other day, Marilyn asked me if I could mail her home to Florida in this box.
No, I'm not kidding.
Not only did I fall off of my chair laughing, I'm pretty sure I might have pee'd my pants also.
And yes, she attempted to squeeze herself into the box.
This girl is one big clown.  She is so freakin' funny.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Her name

She has always preferred "Abby."
Until just weeks ago, she wrote her "Bs" backwards.
Writing her last name has never been a priority for her.
All of these things have been true... until recently.
Look at what our wannabe-Kindergartner is doing now!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tubing Party

When you have a summer birthday (like this boy), you just don't get to do something like this.
When you are from Florida (like this boy), this is just not something you think of.
But when you have a friend having her birthday right smack in the middle of an Alaskan winter, what better way to celebrate than a Birthday Tubing Party.

 This facial expression says it all!
Someone had a BLAST with all of his buddies out on the tubing hills today!

Friday Night Leftovers (Sunday edition)

Happy weekend, folks.  I realize that Christmas vacation was just a few short weeks ago, but I am extremely grateful for our Monday holiday.  Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr. - not only for the injustices that you fought but also for your fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples.  Did I also mention I'm way grateful for a day off from work?
  • In the last 2 weeks, Marilyn has seemingly grown by leaps & bounds.  She looks taller, more slender (both face & body), & her hair longer.  It's like she is growing up right before our eyes.  Please stop this... I didn't authorize this to happen to my baby.
  • We had a YouTube night with the kids this weekend - we have a wireless connection from my iPhone to our TV that allows us to watch any and all videos that I've ever uploaded to my YouTube account.  It took us 1.5 hours and we watched every. last. video. and the kids LOVED it.  They were just fascinated to see themselves and each other doing all kinds of hilarious & adorable things that dated all the way back to when Thomas was just 1.5 years old. 
  • We are up to 6 hours & 45 minutes of daylight, peeps, and gaining 4.5 minutes each day!  Whoop-Whoop!  You have no idea how big of a deal this is until you have lived through an Alaskan Winter.
  • Speaking of Alaskan Winter, we are one big mess up here.  Temperatures have been climbing into the mid- to upper-30s which is just causing all kinds of a melting mess.  One day we even reached 48 degrees.  To top that off, we have seen quite a bit of rain, not snow, these last 2 weeks.  What in the world is going on?
  • As Thomas & I were driving home today, he says from the back seat, "Did you know that Heaven & Hell are opposite places and really bad people go to Hell, Mom?" {short silence as this Mama tries to figure out where this even came from & what to respond with}  I ask him where he heard this from.  He tells me one of his friends in his class.  And just as casually as he brought it up, he casually tells me, "Don't worry, Mom, I'm never going there" and then asks what's for dinner tonight.
  • If I could figure out how to make it fit into an already busy-enough schedule, I would gladly heed to Abby's continual requests to join ballet.  The girl really wants to dance. 
  • It just occurred to me today that when we travel to Florida over Spring Break, it will have been a year since our friends & family down there have seen us.  That is a lot of missed time, especially for the kids. To make matters worse, we haven't seen some family in more than 2.5 years.  They won't even know the kids the next time they see them.
  • I hope none of my mommy friends hate me when I say this - Brian and I got to sleep in until 9AM on Saturday morning & then 8:30AM on Sunday morning.  And yes, we have a 6, 4, & 2-year old.  Life is crazy, right now.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Disco Dancing

Here's a mommy moment I didn't see coming...

Thomas got off the bus today and confidently told me he was signing up for his school's talent show that is to be held at the end of next month.

Surprised, amused, & quite curious, "Really?" I said with a big smile on my face.  Compelled to know what talent Thomas wanted to share with the public, I finally asked.

His response cracked me up & horrified me both at the same time.
"MOM, disco dancing... of course!"

Oh. My. Gosh!
Lord help me face this parenting challenge. I don't even know where to begin to explain what I mean by that, but I do know that I need to support him because this is what he wants to do.  I'm so proud of him for just wanting to get out there and do it, regardless of the fact that he is a 1st grader.  AND that he wants to showcase his "talent" in public. You go, boy!

Here's what I do know for certain at this moment...
There is no way that he's my kid if he wants to dance in public.  Period.
This kind of public disco dancing that he is speaking of just isn't a Sullivan or Brennan trait.  Clearly this music passion is rooted on Daddy's side of the family... deep down in the roots of the family tree.

Yet, I digress.  Folks, we have a disco dancer on our hands.  Enough said.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Back Seat Drivers

For the record, I'm a good driver.
However, I've noticed recently that there are a few backseat drivers riding along with me.
One sits all the way in the back and says things like, "Mom, that car just passed us - you need to speed up!  You're going to slow!"
Another one sits right behind me and often exclaims, "Mom, why are we stopped?  Is there a stop sign or something?  Are we at a red light?  Why in the world are we slowing down?"
And if it isn't bad enough that I have a few pint-sized backseat drivers, the smallest one constantly has something to say about how fast/slow she feels like we're going, the song playing on the radio, or what a green/yellow/red light means.
Gheez!  Who in the world do they all think they are?
Just wait till they each turn 16... I'm gonna raise some hell when I'm in their car for sure.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Yes, sometimes I say these things.

I'm fairly certain that I'm not winning Mom O' the Year Award here because
sometimes I say these things...

"I don't like what we're having for dinner!"
Me: "Suck it up, buttercup!  This is what's on the dinner menu tonight."

"I'm bored!  Can I go play on my iPad again"
Me: "Nope, sorry Charlie!  You already had your time today.  Instead, go play with one of your gazillion toys you have in the playroom.  That, or I can get rid of all of them!"

"I want to go buy a new toy today at the store!"
Me: "Do I look like the ATM at the bank?  Besides, you just got a ton of new toys at Christmas.  Don't you have enough?  Wait... don't answer that."

Me: "I'm not talking to you until you are wearing underwear!"

Me: (As we are putting groceries away) "Please don't lick the frozen pea bag, or the frozen apple juice, or the milk container!"

Me: "We do NOT use the "F" word in our house... do you all hear me?"
"Well, can we say "Fart" when we are playing outside of the house, Mom? 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Preschool Update: Speech Update & Progress

Abby is doing awesome. I mean really... with a capital "A!"
Each day she amazes Brian and me - with her word articulation, with her pronunciation, with her understanding of simple addition & subtraction, with her improvement of writing her letters, numbers and shapes.

Friday, I had the rare opportunity to pick up Abby from her afternoon preschool class.  When I arrived, Ms. Tiffany greeted me with a smile and said she had some exciting news to share.  Abby had been retested (which is done in the Fall, Winter, & Spring each year) using the Hodson Assessment of Phonological Patters (HAPP-3) that they have been using with her since she entered her speech communication class.  The HAPP-3 is a test where the higher the score, the more severe the impairment so it is a score that we want to see going DOWN over time.  The HAPP-3 assesses articulation for single words, not connected speech.  None the less, it is a very important gage to see where Abby started and where she is today.

As a reminder, when Abby turned 2-years old (the same time we arrived here in AK) she could barely utter 10 small words.  To anyone other than Brian and me, she was not understandable.  To review things from her preschool, her initial testing in September 2012 (age 3 years, 1 month) she was found to be "profoundly" delayed in her speech with a score of 161.  At the end of last school year in May 2013, her assessment revealed a score of 74 with a rating of "moderate" expressive language delay.  She had made excellent progress just in her first school year - an 87 point improvement!  Abby returned back to Ms. Tiffany's class this Fall and her August score was a 66 which still has a rating of "moderate" delay. 

HOWEVER, Friday, Abby was retested again with the HAPP-3 and the news that Ms. Tiffany shared with me brought tears to my eyes.  She said that Abby's score was incredible & truly amazing.  She earned a score of 14!  Yes.......... only 14 points!  This girl has worked so hard with in school Ms. Tiffany, with her speech homework, and also with her private speech therapist, Ms. Lindsey.  We are so proud of you, Abbigail Grace!

Take a listen... here she is with "Old MacDonald!"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Inqusitive Reader Award

Thomas was selected by his teacher, Ms. Mahoney, to receive an award at the 2nd quarter Soaring Eagle Award Assembly this last week.
Can you tell he is super excited?
 Ms. Mahoney presenting Thomas his "Most Inquisitive Reader" Award in front of the entire school.
 Thomas & Sky proudly displaying his award!
Way to go bud!