Thursday, May 26, 2016

Zeke's Early Birthday!

This year the present we got Zeke for his birthday was actually going to be used for his party. I knew that if we gave it to him at his actual party without letting him play with it first he would be quite possessive of it. So we decided to have an early birthday the day before his party. We didn't do cake or anything...just presents. We let the kids decide if they wanted Zeke to open his presents from them or wait until the next day at his actual party. Owen and Jack wanted him to open their presents, but Ella wanted him to wait to open hers. 

All ready to open his gifts! 

The siblings are pretty excited too! 

What's in there??

Owen got Zeke two things from The Dollar Tree....a Paw Patrol Chalkboard...

and a Lightning McQueen bubble set. 

At first Jack wrapped up one of our electric cars, but since it can only go on the track and not be driven just anywhere we figured that wasn't the best choice. So Jack quickly drew Zeke a picture for was so sweet! 

On to the big bag!

I found this Hot Wheels Elimination Track on Amazon a few months back and knew it would be perfect for the party. I was thinking about having Michael build a homemade version, but he pretty much straight up told me that wasn't gonna happen. I think I've worked him a little too hard this year! Anyways on Amazon they wanted $98 for this puppy! Uh...yeah not that's not happenin'. So I headed to Target and lo and behold I found it for $19.99. Take that Amazon!

He was excited even though he really had no clue what it actually did! 

The track has 4 lanes which was perfect since we have 4 kiddos! Yeah for no fighting....oh wait it still happened! 

The elimination part of the track is genius and so simple! Even though it's connected it's really like 2 tracks stuck together. The two cars on the left compete against each other as do the two cars on the right. See the first bit of yellow down the track. Well which ever car on the left side gets to that part first it flips a switch that opens the yellow part for the other car so it either can't get through or literally gets thrown from the's super cool! After that there is only one car from the left and one car from the right competing against each other. Then the second bit of yellow does the same thing thus eliminating the second car and winning the race. Like I said super genius and super simple My personal favorite part about this track is that it folds up! No taking a ton of pieces apart and then putting them back together 10 minutes later when a certain now 4 year old decided he really wasn't done playing! 

The kids had a great time playing on Saturday and then again on Sunday prior to the party. As for whether or not it work in regards to Zeke not getting jealous of other kids playing with his new'll just have to wait until this actually birthday post to find out! :)  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ella's Schooling!

This cute girl is going to Kindergarten again!!!!! I'm so excited for her! I'm calling it Kindergarten 2.0!

Time is what she needs and time is what she is getting. More time to learn and process. More time to let the information she's learning fully set in. Time to grow physically and time to grow emotionally. Ella is a good 2 to 3 inches shorter than the other Kindergarteners and she's also a bit more emotional as well. I think this extra time with help with both those things and also it's just going to give her that firm foundation that she needs before moving on to 1st grade.

I was a little worried in regards to telling her the news. I didn't want her to feel less in any way, shape or form. She is not less! She is learning and she will continue to learn at her own pace. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and there is nothing wrong with how fast she learns or how she learns. She is perfect just the way she is. I had been praying about how to tell her so I would make her feel good and not bad. She had already told me a few times before that she didn't want to leave Ms. Asselin's class, but she's also talked about how she's going to be a 1st grader soon. I knew it was time to tell her once she started talking about that. So one night while she was saying her prayers she thanked God for Ms. Asselin and I knew it was the right time. I just felt God leading me to tell her. I actually interrupted her prayer and said, "Ella what would you say if I said you could stay with Ms. Asselin?" Oh my word her mouth opened to be so wide. She was so shocked and happy! Then I said, "You get get to stay with Ms. Asselin!" That's when she hugged and kissed me! We talked a little about it and then she said something about being a first grader and I said, "Actually that's the thing you get to be a Kindergartener again" She was completely fine with that! 

I know more questions will come, but I want her to come to me with them. I didn't want to get all technical and overwhelm her with details. Afterwards I felt like this huge weight had been lifted off my was so freeing! She is truly so happy. In fact later that week when I was volunteering I was eating lunch with her and she leaned over and whispered...." need to tell Ms. Asselin that I'm staying with her!" She's so cute! I told her that she already knew! It was so funny that she whispered....not because she was ashamed, but because she didn't want the other kids to hear because she see this as a special privilege that only she is getting and she doesn't want the other kids to be jealous!!!  

It sure is a special privilege!!! I'm so happy for my girl. I know that some people see this as such a bad thing and I honestly think that is just the stigma that being "held back" has gotten. It is not bad and we need to stop thinking about it like that. Each child learns at a different pace...even kids that don't have a traumatic brain injury! That's normal and we need to stop pushing kids to learn at the schools pace and let them succeed at their own pace! I have told a few people about Ella and her situation and the look that immediately comes over their face is pity! This is NOT...I repeat NOT a bad thing! There is no reason to pity my little girl! All she is being given is time....the necessary time to learn and grow so she is truly ready for the next step. That is so exciting! Maybe we can all start to think of retention in a different light. It's not a child being held back because they've's a child being given the time they need to truly succeed!!!! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Zeke's 4 Year Pictures!

For the last few years we've gotten the kids birthday pictures taken at JCPenny's I love that JCPenny's now emails their pictures. I used to have to wait days to get them, but now I usually have them in my inbox within hours! I also always buy a Groupon for the kids pictures. It's $29.99 and you get 3 digital images and 1 photo sheet. I hadn't seen that Groupon in a while so I was getting nervous, but then a few weeks ago it came up again. I bought 2 one for Zeke and one for Jack. I really fits our needs perfectly since the IKEA frames I use for the kids pictures only have space for 3 shots. I print those pictures out for the frame and then the 1 photo sheet I always get wallets and I use those as thank you notes for the people that came to the party. 

The last few times we've had pictures taken the photographer hasn't been that great. Thankfully my kids don't throw fits about picture taking so it usually isn't a big deal. Zeke though is always super shy and it's hard to get him to come out of his shell. I knew the minute the lady introduced herself that she was not going to be one of those people to get him to open up. She didn't have many "tricks" up her sleeves that she used to get him look at her. He kept wanting to look at me and the only thing she would do was say, "boop" to try to get him to look at her. Also she had this horrible habit of asking him questions. For example...."I'm gonna have you sit on this that okay?" What do you think his answer was?!?! I actually in a polite way explained that as a mom I've learned I should never ask my kids questions like that in hopes that maybe she'll realize the error of her ways. Thankfully all I needed were 4 good pictures and that's what I got! 

For one of our past photo shoots the studio called to remind me of our appointment they said that we could bring along anything that we might want in the pictures. Jack has brought a puppy dog and Pluto and Ella has brought along her dolly. Since Zeke's party this year is Hot Wheels I thought it would be fun to bring along some cars. He's SO into them right now so it just captures a bit more of him in the pictures. 

Side note.....that adorable sweater is from Gymboree and I got it at the Mill Creek Garage Sales for $2!!! Ga-Ga also got his cute loafer shoes at the garage sales, but I don't remember how much they were. They are from Oshkosh. 

The lady did suggest that she take a pictures of him just playing with his cars. He was busy positioning his cars in an 'X' shape. 

When I originally thought to bring the cars this is what I really wanted them for. I have seen baby boy pictures where they use the cars to form a heart around the baby so I thought it would be cute to use them to make the number 4. This picture was so hard to get! She wanted him to lean over and put his hands on the floor some how. She was explaining it to me and I didn't even know what she wanted. She didn't even try to get down and help or show us what she wanted him to do. Finally he sat like this and I said, "don't move!" I'm still not sure if this is exactly how she wanted him to sit, but it turned out super cute. 

Anyways not our best experience at JCPenny's, but for the price and the fact that we did get 4 nice pictures.....I always use a different picture for the wallets and those haven't come in yet....we will continue going. The guy that used to take our pictures was amazing. I need to call and ask if he still works there and schedule our sessions for those times in the future. 

All that complaining aside I love having these pictures. We never buy school pictures for our kids so it's going to be so nice to have these yearly shots to see how much they change! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happy 4th Birthday Zeke Russell!

Zeke Russell is 4 years old! 

My boy who tells me he's a big boy, but then still talks in a baby voice. 

My boy that is a goofball that likes to give himself double bunny ears! 

My boy who likes the idea of something, but then once it's set up he loses interest! 

My boy who is getting better and better at being around other kids. Slowly, but surely. 

My boy who is old enough to have jobs that he does around the house. 

My boy who wants to like cold things, but still has a hard time finishing them before they melt.

My boy who does not have a hard time letting you know if he doesn't like something!

My boy who one day might need glasses like his mama and who will most definitely look adorable in them! 

My boy who plays on the playground with his bike helmet first! 

My boy who is getting better and better at trying new foods...he likes pasta now...praise the Lord! 

My boy who still looks like such a baby when he sleeps. 

My boy who loved his puppy muddy boots until they had holes in them! 

My boy who loves the Seahawks! 

My boy who asks to play with Play-doh all the time, but what that really means is he wants me to make him stuff! 

My boy who LOVES his vehicles....Cars cars, hot wheel cars, trains, fire trucks you name it if it has wheels he's a happy boy! 

My boy who wants to be included in crafty stuff, but just doesn't want to get messy doing it! 

My boy who is a pro at his scooter, but has no interest in riding a bike. 

My boy who is all boy and has the scars....

goose eggs, bruises....

and hospital records to prove it! 

My boy who still sucks his thumb at night! 

My boy who can still fall asleep in the van! 

My boy who keeps me company all day long while the older kiddos are at school! 

My boy who will still put himself to bed sometimes! 

My boy who would still probably be wearing his heavy winter coat if I hadn't given it away. 

My boy who loves candy! 

My boy who wants to be helpful, but more often than not says...."It's too heavy"...even if it's just a bag of chips! 

My boy who loves going to the park. 

My boy who know how to shop til he drops! 

My boy who can at times be a little monster! 

My boy who is getting bigger way to fast! 

My boy who I see so much of my personality in....the baby of the family that wants attention and will do silly things to get it and expects to get his way all of the time! 

My boy who loves the outdoors! 

My boy who loves to have mama built him a train track! 

My boy who is getting more adventurous when it comes to playing in water! 

My super duper handsome boy that has a smile that will melt your heart! 

My boy who loves to drive around in McQueen and is quite good at making him skid! 

My boy who sometimes need to watch a movie in mama and daddy's bed just so he can fall asleep! 

My boy who loves to still be rocked after his bath wrapped in his towel! 

My boy who still after months and months talks about the star fish at the water park and can't wait to go back later this year! 

My boy who loves to go somewhere fun! 

My boy who has had stitches on his eyebrow, glue on his chin and a broken collar bone! 

My boy who did so good for hours on the raft in the river last year! 

My boy who thought it was super fun to sit in his car seat at Ga-Ga's to watch cartoons! 

My boy who loves to run ahead on the trails! 

My boy who was almost not big enough to bowl! 

My boy who loved going up and down on the carousel!

My boy with his black took him almost a year, but he loves driving it now! 

My boy who finally enjoyed the pool with his siblings last summer! 

My boy who could spend hours and hours playing in the sand! 

My boy who could eat his weight in cereal! 

My boy who still loves to be carried home from the bus stop!

My boy who just last year out grew his 12 month swim trunks! 

My boy who knows how to fall down the easement just prior to his birthday party so his face looks super gnarly! 

My boy who's is most definitely not a baby anymore! 

My boy who loves chocolate! 

My boy who loves to help mama in the kitchen! 

Zeke Russell 4 years have gone by since I was laying on that bed in the OR going back and forth in my head saying...I hope it's a I hope it's a I hope it's a I hope it's a boy. At the last second before they pulled you out my heart truly was set when I at last said.....I really hope it's a boy! When Daddy said, "It's a boy!" I was so overjoyed! You were meant to be the baby of our family! You are the cherry on top buddy! You are so loved! 

I can't believe 4 years have gone by. It was a flash really! I still get emotional every time I hear the song Hero by Abandon  it was the song that was playing the last time I nursed you! That's the part I miss the most about my babies....nursing. Providing for you in a way that God meant for me to do. The closeness that came from that time. I still can't believe that you've been potty trained for almost 2 years! I remember it actually took me about two months after you were trained for it to kick in that I would never again change a diaper on any of my kids! 

You are my keep me company and drive me crazy at the same time. You are hilarious in how sometimes it can take you forever to get out what you are trying to say all the while sucking in all the air in the room when you talk! You make us laugh, you make us frustrated, you bring us joy and you complete our family. 

I love you so much buddy and even though I say I can't wait until you're in school I know that I will be emotional when that day comes. It will be easier knowing that I'll probably see you throughout the day since I plan to work at the school. I want to be with all you kids....helping the teachers, getting to know your friends, always being there when you need me and the best part...getting all the same vacation days off as you do! 

Zeke Russell I pray that as you grow you will know just how much you are loved by not only your family, but by God. He loves you more than we ever could! He has a plan for your life. He has you here for a purpose. You are a wonder and a joy and you bring that to each and every person you encounter. 

Happy 4th Birthday Bo Bee!