Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, James!

     So how did we celebrate?  We went to Grandma Anna and Pappa's, of course.  They're at their new house now so it accommodated the whole family, the Fishes, the Pankos, and the Adams's.

     We had hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni salad, and baked beans.  It was very scrumptious.  After we ate the kids went swimming (the pool is heated) and then they went on an Easter Egg hunt. James had his private hunt with no candy inside the tiny cars, of course.

     He got to demolish his cake and he got a ton of presents.  Then three days later we celebrated his birthday on his actual birthday and invited Grandma Anna, Uncle Bobby, and Pappa over for lasagna, cake, and ice cream.  This time James fell asleep before we could sing to him and give him a piece of cake.  Today he had a slice and enjoyed it just the same.

     What can I say, I love my baby boy.  Now he is officially a year old! And I gotta tell you this year flew by quicker than the nine months I was pregnant!

     I love my little guys! I'm so thankful for them.  My favorite part of the day is when we're together as a family and I know Jim feels the same way! Love you, Baby James! Happy Birthday! So glad you're a part of our family. <3 Even Kevin said, "I didn't know I was going to love baby James this much!" You truly are a blessing, a miracle. You and Kevin both are <3

Kevin - 9 years

Grandma Anna made it <3

Jim decorated it, of course

Oliver egg hunting

Ethan and Kevin are recovering eggs

Kennedy - 12 years

James needed assistance

He LOVED his cake!

Stuffing his face

The cake has been destroyed

Family <3

Mother and birthday boy

Table full of presents

Surfer dude!

His private Easter Egg Hunt

Kennedy and James,
The oldest and youngest grandchild

Our Second Miracle Is A Year Old!!!!!

     A year ago today our baby was in the NICU.  Jim and I were unsure what was going to happen to our miracle.  We each cried, prayed, and watched the videos over and over again that Jim had taken of James on his phone...

     However, now our miracle is healthy and thriving! He is 32 inches long and 26 pounds! Which puts him in the ninety-seventh percentile for height and the seventy-fifth percentile for weight.  Yep, I think both of our boys will be taller than Jim and I.

     James's first word was "Dada" and his second word was "mama".  Now we're waiting to hear "bubba" for Kevin or maybe "kitty", as we have two cats.

     James loves to watch cartoons, his favorite movie is Turbo and he loves playing with his brother.  Seriously Kevin just has to look at him and James will smile. James loves toys that light up and make noise, he loves bath time, being read to, being sung to, tickles, kisses, and snuggled.

     He has grown so much in a year! It's wonderful and sad at the same time. It's wonderful because I love watching him grow, but sad because part of me misses him being my little baby.  I know I'm such a mom. :p

     I'm thankful for our second miracle.  He and his brother are my heart. I hope I am always worthy of being their mother.  <3

Shortly after baby James was born

James at 12 months old

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kevin's Birthday

     My little man is now nine years old!  We've had our share of ups and downs but I wouldn't trade being his mom for anything!  He has taught me so much in his nine years :)

     I always heard that at eight years of age that boys stop being cuddly with their mothers.  However, Kevin still gives me "sneak" hugs and loves to snuggle as we watch a movie together.

     Last year Kevin became a big brother and I was afraid how he would react to a younger sibling when he was the only child for eight years.  He accepted this challenge with grace. He loves helping out, playing with James, holding James, and loves how much James loves him. Kevin only has to smile at his little brother to make him erupt with laughter.

     With Kevin getting older and being the kind person he is, we decided to do something nice for Kevin.  We had his 9th Birthday party at Family Fun Town in Orange City.  The staff provided everything. The only thing we needed to bring was his cake; which, of course, Grandma Anna made.

     Kevin and his cousins all got cards with $8 on them to play the arcade games.  They got to ride in the go-carts and play miniature golf.  The only downside was that Kevin, as well as some of his cousins, were unable to drive the go-carts because you had to be ten or older. However, despite that, Kevin had a great Birthday party and enjoyed himself.

     I love my boy and am so proud of who he is. He gives me strength when I feel mine deteriorating. He is the smile that I wear and the happiness I feel on my good days. And when I'm upset he is the arms around me and the good advice whispered in my ear. He has such wisdom and compassion that goes beyond his nine years. I am so proud to be his mother. With all that I've done wrong I must've done something right to be blessed with Kevin as my little guy <3

Waiting for our guests

Birthday boy

Ethan - 6 years

Amina - 10 years

Hayley - 7 years

Boys racing

Kalib won the stuffed animal

My boys racing each other

Alani and James

Kevin's Birthday cake

"Happy birthday to you!"

     Kevin's Birthday party was a huge success!  Everyone had a great time and had plenty to eat :)  Thank you to the family members who came out to celebrate with us. Happy birthday, Kevin. We all love you and are blessed to have you in our lives <3

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Autism Awareness

     So April is autism awareness month so it seems only appropriate that I talk about Kevin: his strengths and challenges.

     Kevin is my oldest and I didn't really know any different.  I thought his sense of loud noises was strange...  He hated fireworks, he hated when we saw Thomas the Train in Tavares and he'd blow his whistle, and hated when I'd argue with his dad.  He hated these things so much he'd cry until he was removed from these situations.  I thought maybe he had a ringing in his ears much like his grandfather does when noises are too loud.  However, the pediatrician said it was unlikely.

     The next thing I found odd was that Kevin had extreme anxiety.  Often it was due to his father.  So I thought it was because of the divorce.  Kevin didn't want his father to touch him, help him into the car, and sometimes would hide from his dad.  A number of times we would put him into counseling to help but Kevin would always have a relapse that would require more counseling.

     Things that set off his anxiety: changes to his routine, having to take pills, being in the dark, being away from home, being away from me, and going to school.  He wants to be homeschooled but I believe being around other kids is very beneficial to him. Last year he went to North Carolina with my parents and he cried and wanted to come home because I was not there.  We bought mouthwash for him to use at night and he cried because it was not in his routine.  It was new.  It was something he would have to try and it made him uncomfortable.

     Kevin also gets uncomfortable in large crowds.  He has meltdowns at Disney because it's a lot to take in, he has meltdowns at family get togethers, and any other place where there are a lot of people he doesn't know.  His meltdowns from this range from crying and refusing to talk or he hides in confined places such as tight corners.  Other times he will hide in a private place and refuse to talk to anyone.

     Kevin is also very sensitive.  He doesn't do well with criticism.  If he gets criticized by other students he will cry and refuse to talk to anyone for an extended amount of time.  However, he is also intuitive and picks up on another's emotion very easily.  He is also very touchy feely with me but standoffish to a great number of people.  Another thing I have noticed about Kevin is that he either likes you or hates you.  There is no in between.

     Kevin flaps his hands when he's excited or anxious.  He walks on his tip toes.  He stands with his feet together, instead of having them hip width apart, making him clumsier than other kids.  He also writes from the bottom up, instead of from the top down.

     When Kevin was diagnosed with Aspergers last June I felt like it was my fault.  I should have known that something was wrong because I'm his mother.  However, I read that children with high functioning autism often it is overlooked because it's so mild that only a professional would notice it... And that's what happened.

     The diagnosis was a lot to take in at first but I quickly realized that Kevin being autistic doesn't take away anything from him.  He is still my son, my Kevinator, and I love him just as much as I did before the diagnosis.  We of course, have our bad days but what parent doesn't?  What child doesn't have challenges?  Kevin excels in school, has a great memory, but cries when his routine is changed.  I've learned that with his meltdowns you just have to give Kevin his space.  You have to wait for him to talk to you.  If you try to force it out of him it just makes matters worse.

     Kevin knows there's something that makes him different than all the other kids.  But he sees it as "why do I have more bad days than other kids?".  He also gets frustrated at himself when he knows what he wants to say but doesn't know how to communicate his thought process.  He is like any other child though; he just wants to be loved and accepted.

     Being in Kevin's life means patience, unconditional love, understanding, and never assuming.  When Kevin withdraws himself into his shell I try to use humor as a icebreaker.  Once you get him to laugh it's easier to get him to open up.

     I know there's parents out there whose child's autism is much greater than Kevin's so I try to remind myself of this when Kevin's meltdowns last over 30 minutes and I can't get him to talk to, let alone look at me.  However, I am grateful for Kevin.  He has taught me a lot about patience, understanding, and looking at the world through his eyes.

     I couldn't imagine my life without him and wouldn't want him to behave differently.  He makes my life whole.  He is a wonderful blessing.  I'm so grateful that he has been entrusted to me to love, to guide, to teach.  In return I know that kevin is also guiding and teaching me.

Kevin has always loved his step-dad

Kevin loves animals

He was the only kid not afraid to jump in the water

He has a goofy sense of humor

He loves his family & Disney World

He looks out for his little brother and loves playing with him <3

Spring Break!

     So with my grandpa dying this year hasn't been easy.  I was expecting to have a lazy, stay at home spring break.  However, my parents try to visit our family in North Carolina once a year, at least.  They didn't want to stop the tradition because Big Daddy died.  Family has always been important to them, to us.

     James, Kevin, and I went with my parents to stay with Uncle Larry.  While we were up there we got to see my Aunt Ramona, cousin Jackie, and cousin Ally.  We loved every minute of it!  My dad went golfing with Uncle Larry almost every day we were there, my mom made hot dinners at night, and afterwards we would hang out.  A couple of nights we played games with the kids or we'd wait for them to sleep so the adults could play a game.

     We actually got James to sleep in a play pen by himself! At home he sleeps in the bed with Jim and I so it was a nice change :). Also, while we were in North Carolina James turned eleven months!

     Time always goes by so fast while you're on vacation. This trip was no different.  I'm glad that the three of us got the chance to go.  I love making memories with my boys, parents, niece, and nephew.  As well as the relatives that we visit.

     North Carolina is such a beautiful place and a nice break from Florida's landscape.  The weather is refreshing as well.  The high while we were there was the upper 50's.  Absolutely beautiful.

     Anyway, here are a few pictures from our trip.

James stretching his legs at a SC rest stop

Boys playing at the Shelby park

Alyssa and Hayley.

We got to see Ramona's horses...

James at 11 months

Kevin - 8 years

Penelope hanging out with the girls

The kids waiting for 'smores

Beautiful brother moment

Hayley and James on the back porch

Playing at the Eastridge Mall. They also played miniature golf on the 3rd floor.

Feeding baby James
(We tied him in the chair)

We met my cousin Ally and Greg at Cracker Barrel for lunch.

Kevin ate shrimp.

Hayley had Mac N Cheese

Kalib had pancakes

James didn't like their Mac N Cheese