Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our Wedding

To Mike,

I'm forever grateful for the years you and I have spent together and am so excited to see where this life takes us as husband and wife. How wonderful to think that God gave me you.  He let us cross paths right when I needed you the most, right when I felt least deserving of anyone like you- someone who is noble, stable, giving and trustworthy when it comes to a relationship.

I vow to never take you for granted, to always appreciate the way you live your life dedicated to Keegan and me, to always make sure your needs are cared for in the same, selfless way you care for mine, and to never fail to love you unconditionally. 

You are quite simply, my rock, my biggest fan and my number one supporter.  You believe in me and my wishes and goals, you strive to always make me feel happy and important and you are the reason I feel safe, secure and loved.  You are the definition of loyal, loving, dedicated and hardworking, everything a man, husband and father should be.  The effort you put into making your family your top priority is one of the most special qualities you have. 

I don't tell you enough how much I appreciate you.  You are the best partner I could have ever imagined and I'm beyond blessed that we get to do this married life together. Thank you for being the love of my life.  

P.S. I've never seen you look more handsome 

.. ( well,  except for maybe softball uniform season ;) ) I love you!

Beautiful Pictures by: Stesha Whitney Photography

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Preschool for the Win!

Honestly, all my worries and reservations about preschool seem so pointless and miniscule now that the first two weeks have passed us without tears.  I am so pleased with this outcome and could not be any more thankful.. fingers crossed for a wonderful year!
We made these cookies the day before preschool started,  as a snack for after the day was done.. A fool proof way to get him excited!
Keegan's first day went very well, and by that, I mean no tears when I left ;)  There were tears from Mommy as I was driving away but, hey, that is just a given.  The only time Keegan became upset was on the first day when it was time to put the toys away and join circle time.  Poor guy just loved all the new toys to play with! Lol Since that day though, there has been no trouble transitioning from activity to activity, and I even got a report today that transition to circle time was independent after clean up, meaning no coercing from the teachers to get him to come over.  

When I picked him up the first day, the only question he answered was what he ate for snack... "Cheese and Milk".. I acted excited but..... yuck.  Supposedly there were options of watermelon, cookies and cheese, but he only wanted cheese and milk, soooo... ;)

Keegan's therapist shortened her days coming to the house to a half hour a week, but she also spends a half hour or so at school on Thursdays to help bridge any gaps the teachers have with his speech and to help him with speaking to other kids (repeats what she believes he's saying.)  At this age, it is mainly parallel play but a lot of these kids are chatterboxes!  I cried happy tears while reading the first report I got back from his therapist about him interacting and speaking and playing with the other kids because that's what I was worried about the most!  Sometimes he is so reserved around new children and people and will often put his head down when people ask him a question.  I couldn't be more happy that it doesn't seem to be the case in school.
I've watched his every beat these past three years, I wish I could just peek through the window and watch him all morning.  *Crazy Mom*  I so love that our therapist is now my fly on the wall and reports back with what he played with, how he played, with whom he played with and my favorite, how he sang along and interacted during circle time!!!  Couldn't be more proud of him and I'm so excited to see where this school year takes his speech and confidence!!  

Some exciting speech realated things: Keegan's stutter has subsided for now (that was probably due to an abundance of new words into his speaking vocabulary and he just couldn't keep up fast enough .. pretty common with speech-kids like himself) and he has spoken his first sentence.. A question-sentence at that!!! He does a lot of "where" questions like "Where my 'pu-er' at?"  (computer, aka leap pad) "Where Bear go?" etc. Small but HUGE steps for my big boy!!

Thanks for everyone's reassuring and helpful words during the stressful days leading up to pre-school.  It was much needed and appreciated at that time.

Last minute laugh: I try to make an exciting breakfast for him on school days to make the day extra fun, and since I made this..
..he wants pancakes for every meal!  Fine by me ;)

Have an awesome weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2015

To My Baby- On Your First Day of Preschool

Well, here we go.  Your first day of preschool is upon us.  I’m not quite sure how this happened, since just the other day I was accepting your tiny body into my arms for the first time.
I was scared, then.  Were you?

It was a whole new world for both of us:  a world full of selflessness and exhaustion for me, a world full of uncertainties and helplessness for you, yet, that world we were scared of soon became a world full of life and vibrancy and smiles and giggles…
We made it through, didn’t we?
We figured things out and made it through together.  It was my job to comfort you, to love you, to sing softly and hum songs in your ear, to cradle you in my arms and assure you everything would be okay.  It was your job to giggle and smile and squeal with delight to assure me that we were doing just fine…

And… we made it through.

Now you and I are about to venture into a whole new world just as we did that day you felt my embrace for the very first time.  We were in that adventure together, weren’t we?  But, this is one adventure we will have to take separately, at least for a little while. 
You are about to enter a whole new world of school. 
A world where you will probably feel the same kind of uncertainty you felt your first day on earth, but I’m quite positive that your world of school will soon be filled with the same life and vibrancy and smiles and giggles that filled your world with me. 
I will still be there at the end of your day to hug you, to whisper comforting words and hum in your ear when things seem uncertain or you feel vulnerable.
And you know what?
I might need those hugs as well.  This is new for me, too.
You’re my first child and we’ve learned a lot in the three short years we’ve been together.  But, what I haven’t learned, is how to leave you in the care of someone new.  I don’t know how I feel about not being your only teacher.  I don’t know how I feel about not being available to be your voice when you can’t seem to find it yourself… 

But, we’ll both be okay, won’t we? 

You’ll make friends who will love your giggle and your mischievous grin and I’ll be happy to see you learn and thrive with others.  This is just one stepping-stone into the many new worlds you will face, and just so you know, as long as you need me, I’ll be there.  Maybe not at the exact moment you call or the very second uncertainties arise, but I’ll be there.  And although I won’t be showing it, I’ll probably be needing you, too. 
           Stesha Whitney Photography

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If I Could Keep You Little..

So, I’ve been second-guessing my decision to send Keegan to preschool this year, like extreme, hard-core second-guessing: thinking about it all day, praying about it all night kind of thing.  This book, “If I Could Keep You Little” by Marianne Richmond, brought on an epiphany, one that I think I needed.
I had bought this book on a whim: cute illustrations, short n’ sweet, and it seemed to have a cute message, but what I didn’t realize until I finished reading with Keegan, was that it probably wasn’t made as much for children as it was made for mommy’s, just like me.  …Mommy’s who are sending their babies out into a different world for the first time, mommy’s who have a hard time wondering how their child’s going to do in the care of an unfamiliar teacher in an unfamiliar setting surrounded by unfamiliar children, or, Mommy’s who simply have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that their children are growing up!  It’s really a good encouragement for all the in-denial or worrywart moms ;) Ugh, SO. ME. 

Just wanted to share this book and how it seemed to make its way into my life when I needed it to the most!
It was the kind of reassurance I needed, that I can’t keep him little, he needs to blossom himself, and a few hours a week away from me isn’t going to harm him………. 
It isn’t.
He’ll be okay.
 I’ll be okay.
BRB going to read the book again….

To my Keegan:

If I could keep you little, I’d keep you close to me.  But then I’d miss you growing into who you’re meant to be!
-“If I Could Keep You Little” by Marianne Richmond

-I can’t wait to see you become YOU!  Although you may still be “little” for a short while, bit by bit you will need me less and less, and that will be a bittersweet time for Mommy.   I can’t keep you little or close to me forever, but, I’ll always be there for the times you to decide you need to stay close to me.    

Love you, Mommy

Friday, August 7, 2015

Creamsicle Cookies

If you're craving a sweet, and creamy summer cookie, look no further!  This morning we made one of our favorite sweets, Creamsicle Cookies- all the flavor of the ice cream treat, packed inside a cookie.  
So easy and quick to prepare, the only thing you have to worry about is not eating the whole batch.  Seriously.

What you'll need:
1 box Duncan Hines Orange Supreme cake mix
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
6 Tbsp orange juice
white chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Mix the first four ingredients together
-Fold in the chips (I don't use a whole bag, probably 2/3)
-Bake 10-12 minutes and ENJOY! ;)

These are one of Keegan's favorite to help with because the steps are so simple.  We have, for the most part, been eating healthy and making wise food choices, but you have to indulge every once in awhile.  Why not treat yourselves!!

Have an extra sweet day ;)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Chores for Toddlers

While I don't have a set schedule for our days, I wanted to have something set in stone to help with Keegan's responsibility, helpfulness and independence, so I decided to assign him some CHORES.  What a dreadful word for me growing up but so far so good for our three-year-old.  With that being said, a three-year-old's skill level can only go so far, so the chores are limited and still quite fun for them, but I think it's important to learn responsibility at this young age.  
There are currently three chores on his chart every morning, sometimes two, all supervised, of course:  Feed the dog- Bear, water plants, and clean the door windows where Bear rests his nose :)  The last one is a favorite, because what kid doesn't love a squirt bottle full of liquid?!  For this, we use The Honest Company window cleaner, a safer alternative to the chemical based cleaner, or you can find a similar recipe to make your own, here.  As he finishes a task, he "checks" the box off next to the list of pictures I draw for him on our chore chart.  I bought a cheap white erase board and made it more fun with some washi tape, can't beat an opportunity to craft! ;)  After breakfast and teeth brushing, we complete the chores before the fun can start, except for on the weekends.  Weekends, there are no chores!

Amongst other things Keegan volunteers himself for doggy duty quite often.  Don't ask me why but he seriously loves helping and hey, I'm not about to complain about that, but this chore in particular needs extreme supervision...... LOL! Occasionally he will help with the wash, dishes, and preparing meals (pulling grapes off the stems, washing fruits and veggies, tearing lettuce, etc.)  and everyday he must help pick up toys, make bed and put dirty clothes where they belong.  Believe me, the three chores on his chart don't always get done with a huge smile but for the most part, Keegan is a great helper and I'm thankful for that. 

These are just some ideas and I don't ever MAKE Keegan do the helpful things like supper and dishes, but he knows that it is his job to complete the chore list and that's wonderful enough for me.  You can't make a child want to help, you just have to guide them to find it in themselves to want to be a helper.  

What kind of chores did your children have at this age?
Have a wonderful day :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Counting and Number Recognition

We have recently gotten to the point where Keegan is confident in counting out loud, so I really wanted to start focusing on number recognition to give him a face to the name..  (is that the saying?! Lol)  He gets frustrated or loses interest when he has to count those little dots, etc, so I’ve been trying to come up with a bunch of activities to help us along in the process.   

We have had this Melissa and Doug puzzle since he was two, but at that age, it lost his interest quite quickly since it is a bit more difficult.  We have started breaking it out again and I know it is helping! Puzzles and books- Keegan’s favorite way to learn!

I also took a chance at this book and we love it! It has numbers on each page, lots of options to count and .. trucks/construction for Keegan, win-win!  This Little Quack book is very simple and is one that we’ve been reading for a long time.  The counting only goes up to five, then counts backwards to one, so it’s not too overwhelming. Keegan also received these Dr. Seuss number flash cards this past Easter, and although they aren’t his favorite activity, the characters keep his interest long enough to do a little learning. 

How can I forget these counting bugs?  In school we used to have small bears that were similar to these and I was obsessed!  The bugs turned out to be a big hit with Keegan as well, because they aren't just limited to counting- they can be used for any type of play!

There has also been an extreme mixture of rainy days and way too hot days this summer so we’ve been seeing a lot of our felt board!  I have a few counting-out-loud activities for it and quickly threw together some rinky-dink number blocks to help with recognition..  The lady bug is really a hit! Here's a couple ideas and you can find some other counting/fun felt board activities here.

-For the birthday cake, we always decide how many candles we're going to put up, count them and then sing the Happy Birthday song, which is good repetition for his speech.

-Here's the number blocks I threw together with felt scraps.  :) First we put them all up and count them then I will leave a few on the board and ask him to point to a given number.

-And the lady bug, which has 20 spots. We can put on or take off however many we want to but we must always count the spots as we go!

What were some of your tricks for number recognition? Keegan is always observing and always absorbing even when I think he isn’t so I don’t like to dwell on how much or how little we worked on each day, but I always would love some ideas as to what has helped others! 

Have a great day!