Sunday, September 22, 2019

Celebrating JP

Yesterday we started off the day with JP's birthday party. We had a bounce house nd a few of his friends over and just let them play! At one point some of the kids wanted to come inside so I pulled out the trains and blocks and they had the best time cooling off inside and building castles and train tracks! We had pizza, goldfish and oranges for lunch and doughnuts to celebrate the birthday boy! It was lots of fun and JP loved having so many of his friends over to play.

After everyone left he opened his presents and was thrilled with all his new toys! His friends all apparently know him quite well!
After the party everyone needed some down time so JP picked to watch Pete the Cat on TV. Pete is one of his current favorites.
Later in the afternoon the kids jumped in the bounce house some more and then he opened his presents from us and his sisters and the Novak family and his cards from family (we had done birthday with family earlier in the summer so they had already given him their presents).

He was able to fend off his sisters long enough to play with his toys for a few minutes and then we headed to dinner. JP picked Rush's for dinner and he thoroughly enjoyed his hamburger.

After Rush's we went to Marble Slab.

When we got home everyone got ready for bed and once the girls were in bed JP got some special mommy and daddy time. He wanted to play one of his new games and we had SO much fun. It was the Paw Patrol version of Don't Break the Ice and our 4 year old boy thought it was great to have a game where the goal is to smash things with a hammer!

We loved our day celebrating the birthday boy!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Happy Birthday JP!

Dear JP,

Happy 4th birthday sweet boy! Four years ago you had me up at 5am and this year I guess you were taking a walk down memory lane because I woke up at 6:30am to the sounds of you playing upstairs. Next year let's celebrate your birthday by sleeping in, ok?
This past year was kind of a hard one for you. Your best buddy Ruthie was in preschool 5 days a week and because she was in preschool and the big girls were in elementary school you and I spent a LOT of time driving around. I know that was probably the pits for you. However, this year you get to go to preschool 2 days a week! It is finally YOUR turn! I've been trying to get my errands run while you're at school so that we can do fun things on the days you're not in school. Speaking of school, you have the BEST teachers! I am so excited about this year. You are going to learn so much and make lots of new friends. Your class is almost all boys and I love that you finally get the chance to hang out with other boys! So far you seem to like school, although between hurricanes and illness you haven't gotten to go much. Your one complaint about school is that you don't get to play in the kitchen the whole time. (The kitchen is your favorite center.)
You love to be around other guys. If there is a guy around you will glue yourself to his side. You love to help your daddy and will even give up fun activities (like going to the pool) to stay home and help daddy do things like cut the grass or other work around the house. Many times in the evenings you will consult with daddy about what color shirt he is wearing to work the next day so that y'all can coordinate your outfits. It makes me so happy to see how much you adore your dad!
You are not only your daddy's helper but you love to help me too. If I'm in the kitchen you will often come help me cook dinner. You really don't like to play by yourself so if it's just the two of us at home you would much rather come help me with whatever I'm doing than play by yourself. I've learned that if I'm cleaning I can just give you your own cleaning job and you are happy as can be!
JP you are ALL boy. I keep telling people I'm a really good girl mom. I don't know about all this boy stuff. I'm learning though. If it involves bodily functions it's funny, every action must have an accompanying noise, and if you can hit, kick, or throw the toy it's a keeper. Also, swords (you have an obsession with knights) and water guns are fun. Oh, and you are ALWAYS hungry. Always.
I think your biggest accomplishment this year was in the pool. You suffered through swim lessons in May but still HATED to put your face in the water. Even bath time was torture because you didn't want water in your face. I did convince you to sign up for mini team with swim team since you had to be there everyday with your sisters. The first week you were very reluctant. Then we were at the beach the next week and at the pool you said "look at me do swim team" and you happily stuck your face in the water! I was pretty excited that maybe you wouldn't go to college still wearing your puddle jumper! Sometime in July you wanted to see if you could touch the bottom in the shallow end without your float. So we took it off. You haven't really put it back on since! You are swimming so happily now! You still can't touch the bottom and haven't mastered taking a breath while swimming but you can jump in and swim to either an adult or the side and I love it! I have really loved seeing how proud you are of your accomplishment! It helps that your sisters heap praise on you for your swimming. They are your best cheerleaders for sure! In other big accomplishments you have become a bike riding pro (with training wheels). You are super fast and love to ride!
Speaking of your sisters I think you might not be scared of them anymore...and it only took 4 years for you to get there! Last summer you and Ruthie started sharing a room and I have loved watching how close y'all are. She is definitely your best buddy. Emmie is the one you go to when you have a problem and need help with something. Ellie is the one you hang with when want something a little quieter. You are such a sweet brother JP and I think often your sweetness gets overlooked because you're so quiet about it. There are many times I have seen you share something special with them because they were sad. If we are at the store and you see something they would really like you always point it out and want to get it for them. I love to listen to y'all play and giggle. I love to watch your sisters teach you a new game. I hope y'all will always be as close as you are now!
I think one of my memories from this year that always makes me smile is you and your robe and slippers. GiGi's friend, Debbie Baker, sent you a plaid robe that her grandsons had outgrown. You were obsessed with that robe from the moment you saw it. You will walk around the house happy as a lark in your robe. This year I told you if you were a big boy from swim lessons I would let you pick out something from Target. So all week you talked about wanting slippers. So when swim lessons were over  you got to go pick out slippers at Target. Every time I see you with your robe and slippers on I am reminded that there is a little old man inside of that 4 year old body!
I just had to share a pic of JP in his robe! I couldn't find one with the slippers on too but just take my word...he's adorable!

 This summer we buzzed your hair and all of a sudden you looked like a big boy instead of a little boy. I am a little sad that I don't have a baby anymore but really I love all the big things you are accomplishing. But then you open your mouth and ask for a "tup" of water or want to go visit our next door neighbor Mrs. "Wobbie" (Robbie) and for that brief moment you are my little boy again. I can't wait to see what wonderful adventures you have this year JP! Four is going to be a GREAT year!





Wednesday, August 21, 2019

First Day of School!

I didn't realize just how much taller Emmie was than Ellie until I looked at this picture! Poor Ellie, Ruthie is about to catch up to her!

Today the big kids headed back to school. Ruthie is a big Kindergartener, Ellie is in 3rd and Emmie is in 4th! Emmie and Ellie were nervous and excited but Ruthie was so excited!
We had Back to School night last week and they were able to meet their teachers and see their classrooms.

I wasn't sure how Ruthie would do this morning but she did awesome. We got to her classroom door and she gave all her siblings a hug and gave her teacher a hug and then started walking on in. I was like "Hello! Mom over here. Could I get a hug?" I finally managed to snag a quick hug and then she was off!

Then we dropped Ellie off. She was nervous because her closest friends are in other classes this year but she was a Rockstar and went right on in her class!

Then I took Emmie. About 2 days ago Emmie asked me if I would walk her to her classroom on the first day. I know the day is rapidly approaching where she won't want me to even be close enough by to be identified as her mom so I was more than willing to walk her to the classroom! She was really nervous but once we got to her room she went right in with no problems.

I know these girls are going to have a great day and I'm so looking forward to hearing all about it when they get home!

P.S. Little brother is not amused that they all went to school and left him behind but he's managed to survive the first few hours alone with me. ;)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Chore Chart

This week I started a chore chart for the kiddos. They will also start getting an allowance. Here's how it will work.
They have a list of their daily routine that they must follow. It's mostly pretty simple things like get dressed, brush teeth, etc. I laminated these lists and they can check each task off with a dry erase marker when they are done. (I ordered ultra fine point dry erase markers off of Amazon.)
Side Note: Kids with ADHD (like Emmie) generally have problems with executive functioning skills. Executive Function skills are mental processes that help with things such as remembering instructions, completing a task, multi tasking and being able to organize to achieve goals. We found last year with Emmie that things ran much smoother when she had a list of tasks for the morning and bedtime. She liked being able to check off her list and I liked that I wasn't constantly telling her the same thing over and over which only served to frustrate her and me.
Then each kid, depending on age, is assigned a few chores or the week. We have some chores that are daily (like setting the table) and some that are weekly (like cleaning the bathroom). For the big kids I tried to give them a combination of daily and weekly chores. Emmie and Ellie got 3 chores each and Ruthie and JP each have 2. These chores will be switched out each week. I put Velcro on the backs of the chores so that they could easily be changed.
Ellie's task list and assigned chores for the week. She later added some "high value" extra chores because she's all about earning money! You can also see how her allowance is split between the 3 categories. 

Each week the big girls will get $5, Ruthie $3, and JP $2. Now I know someone is saying why does JP only get $2 when he and Ruthie have the same number of chores? However, Ruthie has more things on her task list. Things like making her lunch for school, packing up her backpack, etc so that's why there is a difference in their allowance amounts. On their task list the kids have listed how much their allowance is each week and how it is to be divided up. Following Dave Ramsey's method we have 3 categories: Give (church offering), Spend, Save. The kids will put their save money in their piggybanks and they have envelopes for spend and give.
In order to get all of their allowance the kids must check all their boxes each week. If they have a reason they think they can't do a chore that day they can be excused from it but they have to first talk to "management" about their reasoning.  If they are missing chores and not discussing problems then their allowance will be docked.
There are also extra chores each week. These are each assigned a monetary value and the kids can opt to do extra chores in order to make some money over and above their allowance. These chores are totally optional and it is totally ok for them to choose not to do any extra chores.
Some of the extra chores and their values. There are a few missing because Emmie and Ruthie had already claimed them. This is also my holding paper for all the chores so I can see what options there are when I'm assigning chores for the week. 

We just started doing the chore chart this week and I think we will need to make some adjustments once school starts and after school activities pick up but for right now it's working and we're willing to be flexible and figure out what works best!
Ellie HAPPILY doing kid laundry! I had to provide a fair amount of guidance this week but I know that over time she will remember all the steps and so each time she does it she will need less and less help from me. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Little Fish

Today I am SO proud of JP! This has been a huge summer of growth for him in the pool. When summer started JP was HIGHLY resistant to putting his face in the water. Well a week of swim team got him to where he would put his face in the water. Then he would NOT jump in. He just started really jumping in about 2 weeks ago. He has been wearing his puddle jumper all summer (other than during swim team of course) and had no desire to even practice swimming with me. Today he wanted to see if he could touch in the 3ft. Then all of a sudden instead of trying to touch the bottom he was swimming to me. Then he wanted to jump in and swim to me. He jumped in, swam to me, and swam back to the side for an HOUR today. He had the biggest grin on his face the whole time and of course he had his own personal cheering section while he was doing it. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

OIT Graduate!!!!

After 11 months, ~3,450 miles driven, 92+ hours in the car, and 29 hours in the doctor's office we have an official OIT graduate! Today the child who would react if you had peanut on you and touched her ate the nutter butter equivalent of 24 peanuts! Every single minute of time and every mile driven has been 100% worth it!

I think Paul and I both had some happy tears when the doctor came in to do his final check and said she was good to go. This process has been absolutely amazing. We were so glad that she didn't really have any bumps in the road so she was able to finish before kindergarten started.

Ruthie's shirt today said "Be Fearless" and this kid has been an absolute trooper throughout the whole process. She was definitely nervous at the beginning of OIT because she knew that she was eating peanut and that contradicted everything we had always told her! There were days, especially toward the end when she was eating a LOT of peanuts every morning, that she would get upset about having to eat the peanuts but she powered through. We now have things (like peanut butter and nutter butters) that we can substitute for actual peanuts which makes her much happier!

After her appointment we stopped and celebrated with some Cold Stone (her doctor had given her a gift card at our last appointment and she still had some to use). The best moment was when Ruthie was deciding what topping she wanted and she asked if she could have Reese's cups. I paused for a moment and realized YES! She ended up choosing Oreos but I think for me that was the moment when everything really sunk in. Not only do we not have to fear peanuts but now we can say YES to peanuts.

So what does life look like now? Ruthie will eat 8 peanuts (or the equivalent of 8 peanuts) every day, most likely for forever although that could change with future research. After she eats her peanuts she has a 2 hour rest period. We've learned that she can do lots of things during this rest period and it's really not a big deal at all. We don't have to worry about cross contamination. Ruthie can "freely" eat peanuts outside of her daily dose. She does have to observe the 2 hour rest period after eating them so we will have to be selective about when she eats peanut but it can be done! We will now see her OIT doctor once a year just for a little check up.

We can't say enough good things about Ruthie's allergist. He has been amazing throughout the whole process. I knew when we went for Ruthie's consult 2 years ago that he was the doctor we wanted taking care of our daughter. He has a true passion for his patients and loves helping people. He has been available anytime we have questions or problems...even on Christmas Day when she was sick! He has contacted us to check on her after she had some small reactions at the beginning. He helped settle our anxiety when the whole process started and he has celebrated each new milestone with us.  I will be forever thankful that we found him!

PS. Dr. Williams gave Ruthie this fabulous picture today! She loves it and has already found a special spot for it in her room.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

JP's Summerville Trips

JP has been making up for when he was too little to go and stay with the grandparents by himself so this year he went to GiGi and PaPa's twice! He went once in the spring and once at the end of May. He had a wonderful time (of course)!
Throughout his two visits he went to visit PaPa at football practice, the aquarium,

the fire museum,

the park,

the fountain at the Battery,

out to eat,

and lots of other fun things!

I'm so thankful that my kids get this one on one time with their grandparents and JP is so glad that it he's finally old enough to go!