Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Step Up For Down Syndrome

I think as moms we all tend to worry about our kids.  Are they where they need to be academically, socially, athletically, etc.  I am no different and was kinda hyper-concerned about these things with the kids transitioning into a new school.

However, one of the first things I heard from Ellie's teacher was a comment about her kindness. I can't image a parent being any more proud. This past weekend, I saw that on full display as my sweet girl and her friends attended the Step Up For Down Syndrome walk in honor of one of their classmates. 

I am so proud of Ellie and the precious friendships she is making.  Nothing is more important in life than kindness and strong relationships, and she is cultivating both.  I was so proud of her classmates, teachers, and principal as they spent a busy Saturday supporting an amazing organization.

I was involved in the National Down Syndrome Society and Special Olympics throughout my high school and college years and several of my former athletes were at this year's walk.  It did my heart so much good getting to see them.

It is so humbling to be a part of something bigger than yourself.  The lessons I learned about perseverance, kindness, respect, and joy have stayed with me into adulthood.  I pray that Eli and her friends will walk away with the same experiences and wisdom.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Fal Festival

Friday was our First Fall Festival at the new school.  We obviously had never been before but were warned that parking can get a little crazy.  We decided to leave my car at the office and have Eric pick us up for dinner so that he could park his truck in the grass if it was crowded when we got back. 

As we were walking out to meet him, we noticed the fun signs and decided to snap a few pictures before heading out to eat.  We decided on Mexican and enjoyed a delicious meal before making it back to the school for all the fun!

Eli pretty much ditched us as soon as we got there so that he could run around with his buddies, but Ellie wasn't afraid to be seen with us. We had a blast walking through the school, playing games, getting her face painted, selecting the perfect nail color and eventually a hair dye to compliment the look.

We were super excited to find out that she has excellent aim and we could possibly have another littler baller on our hands.  Doubtful, but I will say that we were impressed with her "underhanded skills."  

When we had all the fun that we could enjoy, we met up with Eli and headed home for the night.  Even though the daytime temperatures here still feel like summer, the overnight temperatures are very fall-like, so we took full advantage and watched a movie out on our back porch.

It made us all ready to enjoy the cooler temperatures!

Monday, September 23, 2019

An Update

I realize that I haven't done a very good job of updating this little space, especially considering all of the changes for our little family.  I owe everyone a MAJOR update on the house among lots of other things, but let's start with the biggest change to our family...the new school for the kids.

In case you missed my last post, this year  we made the decision to move both kids to the school that shares a parking lot with my work building. It was something that we discussed and prayed about for months leading up to the beginning of the year. We talked at length about the pros and cons of transitioning them to the new school and ultimately decided that it is the best choice for our family.

The thing is, no matter how sure you are about something, there's always a level of uncertainty that comes with a major change.  But ya'll, the kids have blown me away.  They have been so brave!

I wasn't much worried about Ellie because she is so young and just hasn't built the kind of relationships with her peers that Eli has. Other than a few little girls from daycare (who we know the families well), she didn't have very many tight friendships.

Eli on the other hand, has been deeply rooted in our community since he was born.  From daycare and church to baseball, basketball, and school, he has found a lot of security in our little "Mayberry." I worried so much about his transition but knew that no matter how difficult the immediate change might be, in the long run, it was ultimately in his best interest.

 Ellie has landed herself an amazing group of friends who have already welcomed her to birthday parties and included her in other activities. She's shown tremendous academic growth and has an amazing teacher.

Eli has mastered "changing classes" and has come to appreciate all of his buddies who spend recess playing basketball, baseball, football and talking sports. His behavior has been excellent, even rewarded, and he joined choir because they get to go on field trips.

Because our community is so small, I want to be clear that the school we left was a high performing, community school with amazing student opportunities, and we are so proud of our time there. The decision to move the kids had many, many factors and was a deeply personal choice.  Again, we are so grateful for our time at our former school and all of the friendships we made along the way, and we can't wait to see what new adventures lie ahead.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

New Beginnings

The first day of school brought some changes for our family as our kids transitioned into a new school.  In full transparency, even though I've known in my heart for a long time that this was the right thing to do, it didn't make it any easier as I walked them across the parking lot to their school.  Wait, did I mention that I quite literally share a parking lot with them now, so that was reason number one for the move.

I knew Ellie would be fine.  She's so young and really hasn't made the kind of friendships that Eli has. Plus, she's a momma's girl so being much closer would make her feel more secure. The "easy" factor was appealing too. I mean, I can eat lunch with her, participate in class parties, and I cut more than an hour out of my daily commute.

When you factor in their before and after school care along with their commute and homework time, they are picking up more than TWO HOURS a day.  That's huge, especially since they both have extra curricular activities.  

Did I mention that I won't have childcare costs?  To clarify, I DO NOT mind paying the wonderful people who love on my babies so well at daycare, camp and the after school programs but let's be's like getting a small raise. 

All perks aside, I worried so much about this kid.  He loved his old school and he truly values the friendships he's made there.  From daycare through fourth grade, he's really been secure in comfort that living in a small community brings.  Daycare, school, church, and sports in a small town means we pretty much always hang out with the same friends. I wasn't sure how he would do being uprooted, especially as he enters FIFTH grade.

Kids always have a way of surprising us, and my kids kinda flopped roles leading into the big day.  Eli realized he knew a few buddies from summer camp, so he was fine after learning that little tidbit of information at Open House.  Ellie had been the most excited but got really nervous and shed a few tears at bedtime.

Thankfully, they are familiar with a few other kids who hang around my work.  That broke the ice on the first day as we all met and let them hang out before dropping them off.  We walked Ellie to class first and she hugged her teacher before jumping right into the swing of things.

Eli and I dropper her off before walking to the other side of the school where is classroom us located.  He was so brave, but I could tell he was nervous.  I was sad to see that his buddies were there yet when I dropped him off.  To make it more conflicting, he's at the age where I'm never sure if he wants a hug awkward.  

The first day is BUSY for me.  Like, really busy.  I went to 28 schools in 6 hours, so I didn't have a lot of time to dwell on the big change.  Whenever the kids crossed my mind, I said a little prayer for their nerves and before I knew it, it was time to pick them up.  It was sweet music to my ears hearing about their amazing day!

Our Back To School tradition is dinner at a Mexican restaurant before church, so we headed to eat and I got to hear all about their amazing new journey.  It was an emotional first step, but I know it's the right thing for our family. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Dynamic Dental Duo

Ya'll, I have a confession.  I had a major "mom fail" and allowed my children to eat gummies before bed EVERY NIGHT until about a year ago.  I thought I was treating them to an easy snack after baths, but it turns out that it's the worst thing you can feed your kids because it gets stuck in their teeth and can cause major cavities.  As a result, both Eli and Ellie had to have crowns.  Bless Ellie's prissy little heart, she was thrilled about getting a "crown" until she realized it wasn't the kind you wear on your head. 

There are two kind of people in the world. They call them Type A and Type B, and I have somehow managed to birthed one of each.  Ellie pulled her crown out eating taffy so she had to have it replaced on the same day Eli was getting his.  He was near tears in the waiting room and asked about 30-million questions.  Meanwhile, Ellie sang to herself in the car.

When it was time for the actual procedure, Ellie hopped up in the chair and had hers replaced without gas or even being numbed.  Yes, I realize this was because the hard part had already been done but she was so, so brave.

Eli not so much!  I thought they would have to sedate him.  Every time someone came into the room, he gave them the third degree wanting to know what they were doing and whether or not it would work.  It was pitiful! When we got home, Ellie played all day but the trauma was too much for Eli.  He had to rest on the couch in an upright position. 

The silver lining in this whole thing is that they are now super motivated to practice good oral hygiene. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Ride of Her Life

This summer, Ellie is participating in Summer Literacy Academy.  It's an incredible resource provided by our school district to help students grow their reading capacity.  I was a struggling reader as child and I can remember being so intimated by my slow progression.  I was tutored through second grade and truly despised reading.  Then when I was in eighth grade, I found a book series I loved and to this day, I ready constantly.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I rarely watch TV but my nose is almost always stuck in a book.  Because I know what it feels like to struggle reading and the lack of confidence that comes with it, I want to make sure that I stay on top of my kids' growth.  Ellie is on grade-level but I felt like she could benefit from some additional intervention to make her stronger and most importantly, more confident. With that in mind, she started Summer Literacy Academy  on Monday.

She will ride the bus to and from daycare each day, which is another major blessing! For some reason, I had a weird feeling on Monday even though I took her and all she had to do was ride back.  I completely trust the faculty and staff, but it was just maternal intuition.  The whole way there, we practiced telling teachers her name and the name of her daycare...just in case.  She had it down, but that feeling was still nagging me all day.  After lunch I texted daycare to make sure the had gotten off the bus ok.  Assuming I was overthinking it, I didn't really expected the response that I got back.  Luckily, I left my phone on my desk while I was elsewhere in the building so I didn't see the texts until it was all resolved.

Text One: said the bus hadn't arrived.

Text Two: said the bus had just gotten there but Ellie wasn't on it.

Text Three: said they found her and she had boarded the wrong bus.

Bless her heart, she was headed to the other side of the county.  The driver was gracious enough to take her back to daycare at the completion of her route, and I am so grateful!  Bless her little heart, she had no idea she was even lost.  She just thought it was a really long bus ride.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Holiday World 2019

This past weekend, Eric's work hosted its annual company picnic and we were treated to Holiday World!!  One of my little "goals" for the summer is to camp once a month.  It's fun, relaxing, and a great way to unplug and enjoy some family time.   For a few years now, we have been talking about camping at Lake Rudolph right next to Holiday World, so this was a great opportunity to go ahead and book our site.

If you ever find yourself in the middle of a drought and in need of some rain, just have me book a camping trip or baseball tournament because it never fails to pour.  Of course, this weekend was no different.  We left work early, picked up the kids, ate a quick lunch and hit the road.  We were lucky to get there between rain showers and quickly set up camp before the next round arrived.  

Typically, we cook when we camp but knew it would be a hassle since it was such a quick trip.  Instead, we trusted online reviews and found ourselves at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant a few towns over. I'm proud to say that it more than lived up to its hype.

After dinner, we went back to the camper and settled the kids in for bed.  Our normal routine is to bring some movies for them to watch while Eric and I sit outside and read, play games or talk.  There was supposed to be Wifi at the campground so we we skipped the movies with plans to stream something.  Turns out you can't stream videos!  Luckily, they were tired so after a few minutes of Netflix on the phone data, they were out!

Saturday was supposed to be a total washout, but it was dry in the morning so we headed straight to Holiday World after a quick breakfast.  The campground had a complimentary shuttle, but we opted to drive and were lucky enough to get second row parking.  We walked right in and were created by a charming little village with Santa waving from the balcony.

This was only my second trip to Holiday World and the first one was nine years ago.  I barely remember it, but it is quaint, clean and very well themed with attractions centered around holidays.

Disney has really spoiled our kids, but they loved the theming so much and kept saying it reminded them of certain aspects of Magic Kingdom such as the walk into the park.  It was also similar to rope-dropping at Disney, only much less crowd.  Similarly, we started by hitting up as many rides as possible.  Before noon we had enjoyed:

Old Fashioned Cars 
Star Spangled Carousel (Merry-Go-Round)
Frightful Falls (Log Flume)
Raging Rapids (Water Rapids)
Holidog Express (Kiddie Coaster)
Rough Riders (Bumper Cars)
Tippie Canoe (Kiddie Ride)
and the Eagle's Nest. (Adult Swing)

This also included several breaks to enjoy the free drinks and time to play and explore the children's area.  This is where Disney could learn from visiting other parks.  They have a fairly secluded area in the back of the park called Holidog's Fun Town.  The area boasts a large playground with a soft, rubber landing area underneath.  There is also a splash pad area, several small riders, a kiddie coaster, family restrooms, character meet and greets and benches for parents to rest. Because it was so secluded, it was easy to escape the heat and rest while the kiddos played.

As for lunch, Eric's company was hosted in a shelter area where we were treated to hotdogs, hamburgers, veggies, beans, mac n'cheese, and dessert.  Holidog also made an appearance but we were a little late catching him and didn't get a picture.  It was nice catching up with Eric's co-workers and getting recharged for our afternoon at the waterpark.  I am so grateful that we quite literally spent no money inside the park.  His company took care of all the details so that we were able to just enjoy being together as a family.  

After lunch we headed to Slashin' Safari, and as luck would have it, the sun decided to make a brief appearance.  I left my camera in the locker, so I don't have pictures to prove our fun, but it was a blast! We started with the Racer Slides at which point Eli somehow let his mat go down the slide.  He had to walk down the steps by himself while the rest of us rode down. He was not a bit happy about, and I think it will be a point of contention for years to come.  You see, Eli is a little hesitant to ride things while Ellie jumps in head first...both literally and figuratively. Anyway, he doesn't want to be outdone by a girl, so he makes excuses for bailing.  In this case, he "accidentally" let his mat go. Or so he says.

In any case, we headed to some kiddie slides after that fiasco.  The kids had a blast while Eric and I propped out feet up to relax and people watch.  After a good deal of time had passed, we headed to the wave pool and eventually made our way to ride the Wildebeast and the Mammoth.  They were amazing and each had relatively short lines, which I'm sure can be attributed to the weather.

After getting off of the Mammoth we were in route to another kid area when a major storm blew up.  It was torrential downpours, cloud to ground lightening and lots of thunder.  We took shelter under a picnic area and enjoyed talking with people from Bowling Green who we kept bumping into.  Thankfully, Eric had the foresight to look up the raincheck policy before leaving and saw that if operations suspend for more than 90 minutes prior to 4:00, all guests would receive a free ticket.

As luck would have it, the first storm rolled out about an hour after operations first shutdown and another storm was right on it's heels.  We could tell the staff was slowly closing things down, so we took our time changing into dry clothes and and browsing the gift shops.  We asked an employee in guest relations about the raincheck and she directed us to the front gates. On the way out, we stopped to pose for pictures and meet Santa.  We were thrilled when we spotted someone handing out tickets and even more thrilled to learn that the raincheck was good for any day this season! We contemplated going back the next day but decided against it once we saw the weather.  We play a baseball tournament in the area next month and decided to hold on to them until then. 

After leaving the park, we were famished and decided to head back into town for dinner. First we stopped to check on the camper and make sure there was no damage from the storm.  Finding everything well, we trusted the online reviews and headed to The Chateau.  Once again, the reviews were spot on the the buffet was delicious!  The kids particularly enjoyed the dessert and made multiple trips back through the line.

Back at the campsite, we let the kids play for a bit while we relaxed. Honestly, we did not get to enjoy the campground amenities as much as we would have liked because of the rain. There was a pool, two playgrounds, and putt-putt.  Thankfully, the smaller playground was right across from our site, so the kids could run around it a bit. Ellie and I were more than ready to shower when night finally came and found the facilities to be both warm and clean. We were so worn out that once the kids were asleep, Eric and I were right behind them.

On Sunday morning we slept as late as possible before packing up and hitting the road.  Again, we dodged the rain and made it home in enough time to enjoy a quiet Sunday.  It really was a nice trip despite the rain.  I mean, how can we complain after we put in a full-day at the park and still got a raincheck.  We can't wait to go back!