Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Room assignments.

We spent some time this weekend starting the preparation for room changes in our house. With the new boy coming in a few months, we need to shift some things around to get ready for his arrival and to ensure he has a (physical) place in our home. We have a four bedroom house, and up until this point no one has had to share a room. However, in a month or two that is going to change.

The fun pattern (girl, boy, girl, boy) we have created with our children make for hard choices in deciding who is going to share a room. To many, the most logical decision is to have our two girls share a room. The baby will need his own room for at least a year or two, and it would make the most sense to move Charlotte into Katherine's room (which is the biggest room, and plenty large enough to share).

However, what is logical might not always be best. When Mike and I first starting discussing this, we too, decided to put the girls together. However, as time went on and we really started to talk about what personalities would work best together, and disregard gender at this point (since they are still young and we can do that), we have come to the conclusion that Charlotte and Will may be better fitted to share a room.

When we broke this news to Katherine, she was devastated.  I felt bad at first, and was tempted to change our plan. I reminded myself of the reasons why we made this decision. Katherine is a typical oldest child. She is very independent, head strong, and maternal. She likes to take care of her siblings and direct their play. She carries Charlotte around and has a great time dressing her up. Katherine is also very particular; she likes things a certain way. Her room is full of little boxes full of trinkets and things she finds important. Her stuffed animals are always set up in a certain way on her bed, and she gets mad if I try to help her clean her room because I don't know where things go. She has a short fuse, and thrives on structure; she is a kid who requires 11 hours of sleep at night--at least--or watch out. She can get frustrated easily, and often the best way for her to simmer down is to spend some time by herself; which she does often (she loves spending time in her room playing with her toys or reading her books). Oh, and she is the world's lightest sleeper, any noise wakes her up and interrupts that precious sleep her body requires.

Will is pretty laid back. When he gets upset, he is easy to calm down. He likes being with other people and spends very little time in his room. He is really sensitive and caring with his sisters, and plays well with them. Will is also the world's heaviest sleeper; in fact during our recent Dells trip, a midnight fire alarm woke everyone up, except for Will, Charlotte, & cousin Tucker. He is super excited about sharing a room with his brother someday, but knows that it will be a while before that can happen. When we told him he could share a room with Charlotte until then, he was pretty excited because he thought that is meant he could get the bunk beds Aunt Kate had told him would be neat to have someday when he shared a room. He is currently trying to convince Kate that he needs those bunk beds soon.

So, the decision is made, now we just have to make it happen. Stay tuned for some room makeover pictures when we finish the transition.  In the near future Charlotte will have to be evicted from her crib and moved to a toddler bed. Lets keep our fingers crossed that she likes her new bed so much she wants to stay in it at night and not roam the house!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Still here.

I know it has been a couple weeks since my last entry. No worries, we are all well and things here are status quo. This "growing a human" thing is hard work when you already have three kids. I am beat by the end of the day and usually fighting to keep my eyes open by 8pm.

We had a great time in the Dells with both my family and the Neuharths. We didn't get a whole ton of great pictures, but I can assure you the kids had a great time. All three of my kids are love the water and would swim daily if they could!

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The older kids both attempted a ropes course. Katherine *says* she liked it, but didn't crack a smile the entire time she was up there. Will made it through the first couple obstacles and decided he needed to wait until his legs were a bit longer before trying again.

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Now that we have returned from our mini-vacation, we enjoying (note sarcasm here) the freezing cold temperatures of winter in Wisconsin (Tuesday the temperature in my car read -13 degrees).

Will started a new preschool at the beginning of January and he is doing really well. His 4K class is held at a local elementary school, and drop off/pick up involves a loooong walk through the school, all the way to the back. I fight the urge to put Charlotte in the stroller on a daily basis, as I know her PT thinks the long daily walk/runs are great at building Charlotte's strength. Problem is, her endurance isn't quite there yet and she usually ends up sitting down halfway through, and I am stuck lugging a 30-pound toddler (with low-tone...making her feel heavier!) through the school a couple times a day. But, we will keep trying, and hopefully she will master this walk before I can no longer physically lug her through the school!

Speech for Charlotte is still exploding; one of her newest words is an attempt at Katherine's name...though, it comes out "Ka-kee," which sounds exactly like cocky. Mike and I still chuckle every time she says it, especially because Katherine thinks it is the coolest thing ever and has no idea what the word "cocky" means. Other favorite words of  Charlotte's: color (and all color words to go with it, she is getting really good at identifying her colors), doggy, Missy ("sissy"), up please! (while patting my lap with a book in one hand, and the other one pointed at the ceiling), backpack (she has become a huge Dora the Explorer fan), and Papa.

Mom-duty is calling. My 5 year-old is bugging me to play a game. Hopefully my next blog post will be before spring ;-)!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Swim suits, thyroid, dentist, baby beds, oh my!

We have had a busy few weeks around here. It seems like January is the month of lots of annual appointments. I took all three kids to the dentist early last week, which was actually easier than it sounds! We were in and out in 25 minutes, all three kids with clean teeth and no cavities, and Charlotte didn't even scream this time! Her favorite part? The fish tank.

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We also visited the GI doc for the first follow-up after Charlotte's celiac diagnosis. It was a pretty boring and pointless appointment (in the words of Will, "Why are we even here, mom? They didn't even do anything!"...hah!), just the way I like them. Nothing new to report; Charlotte is doing great, the diet is working like a charm and she is gaining weight and growing like a weed.

We did start Charlotte on thyroid meds recently. Her thyroid levels have been slowly creeping up (they have never been in the normal range, always high) and are now to the point of needing to be treated. We weren't too surprised by this; kids with Down syndrome are super susceptible to hypothyroidism  and the way I understand it is that it isn't really even "if" they will need to be treated for it, but rather "when," which is why we have been following her thyroid levels since birth. Hypothyroidism can effect kids in numerous ways, namely cognition and energy level. She has been doing really well on the medication, and her PT swears she can tell a difference. She has observed Charlotte being much more focused during therapy.

Tomorrow is the eye doctor. We haven't visited the ophthalmologist since Charlotte was 6 months old. I am thinking this appointment at 2.5 years old will be a bit more challenging then when she was an infant. I'll keep you updated.


In other Charlotte news, her new favorite toy is the Magnadoodle. She drags the thing around like Linus and his blanket, saying "ca-cal-rrr"(color), over and over again.

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We are headed up to the Dells for a 4-day waterpark trip with first my family, and then the Neuharths. We combined the two trips to make for an extended weekend and the kids are going crazy with anticipation. I dug through some bins of Katherine's old clothes in attempt to find a swimming suit for my crazy growing toddler. We tried a bunch on last night to see what would fit...

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This was suit #1...Charlotte was happy to try it on, but got mad when I took a picture. Anyway, Katherine was helping and remembered the suit and swore that it still fits her...

Here is a picture of Katherine at age 3 wearing the same suit:


and here she is now.

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...yes, that is my 7 year-old wearing a size 3. Hah!

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Charlotte was more than happy to help with trying things on. She just wanted to put all five suits on at the same time.

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Will wanted to get in on the picture taking even though he wasn't trying suits on!

And finally, yesterday I was in the kitchen and Charlotte was playing in the living room. I hear her yelling "uck, uck!" (stuck). I walk in the living room to find her like this:

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And of course, I leave her there long enough to go and get the camera to take a picture.

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Funny thing is, she climbed right back in as soon as I took her out. 

Have a good weekend everyone, be sure to check back next week for "waterpark fun" pictures! 

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hello 2013!

I meant to get this blog post done a couple days ago, but the best laid plans never seem to work out. Older kids are back at school today, Mike is back to work, and our schedule seems to have returned to normal. Amazing how a couple weeks of no routine, late bedtimes, sleeping in, and eating lots of rich, yummy food throws everyone off for awhile!

We had a great Christmas and New Years. We visited with family and friends, enjoyed each other's company, and spent a lot of time at home watching movies, reading books, and playing new games. Not sure if it is my increasing age or the fact that we live farther out in the "country" but these days I would much rather stay home then attend lots of activities, etc.

Monday we rang in the New Year with the Neuharths--an annual tradition we love. All the kids made it up until midnight (this was easy for Charlotte, my little night owl), but are still recovering a few days later! We have lots to look forward to in 2013; the arrival of the last member of our quartet in May, Charlotte's first IEP and starting school, and Will's first day of Kindergarten next fall just to name a few....throw in a few birthday parties and a couple vacations and 2013 should be a year to remember.

However, before we move to 2013, I want to review 2012. I did this last year and have really enjoyed looking back at that post over the year. I also picked one picture from each month that represents what I thought was the best part of the that time period.

So without further adieu, 2012....


2012 started with some very unseasonable warm weather for a Wisconsin winter. Snow pants and boots were forgotten for a few weeks as we broke out the light coats and took frequent walks. Charlotte continued to work hard at her goal of independent walking, learning how to stand from a sitting position during this month.



Our annual dells trip with the Neuharths was in early February. As usual, the kids had a blast, and Katherine was able to forget the fact that she had to miss her 100th day of school celebration. My water-loving children have gotten quite brave in the wave pool and water slides, and Charlotte loved the kiddie areas. Charlotte's expressive language took a giant jump around this time and she impressed us daily with new signs.



Our only large snowstorm of the winter happened in early March, followed by a week of freakishly warm temperatures...topping out in the mid-80's! All the outside play time helped Charlotte decide it was time to give up crawling for good, and our baby girl officially became a fulltime walker in March. We couldn't have been more proud of her. Katherine and Will also added a new skill; riding 2-wheel bike sans training wheels. Katherine also lost her first tooth this month (though the dentist had to give her a hand and "wiggle" it out).



I couldn't pick just one picture to for April. Mike and I left the kids with Missy and got away for a night by ourselves in early April, only to return to a very sick little girl. Charlotte ended up with a bad case of croup, though she recovered really quickly. We took an impromptu trip to Madison over the kid's spring break and visited the zoo. At the end of the month we welcomed Tucker, my brother and sister-in-law's little boy, and much to Katherine's delight we went to see him when he was just one day old.




May reminded me how lucky I am to be the mom of my three kids; they truly bring me so much joy on a daily basis and I am so grateful for that. We had a get together for mother's day in early May to celebrate just that, and I enjoyed time with my own mother and grandmother. May also brought some great weather, lots of time outdoors, and the installation of a new garden and lots of new trees (we are attempting to fill our large, mostly vacant, yard!).



June! Probably my favorite month of the year, as it marks the beginning summer. I welcomed the change in routine and thoroughly enjoyed the first entire summer in our new house. The kids started summer school and swim lessons, as well as a soccer camp and t-ball for Will. Missy was off for the summer, and frankly nothing beats having your best friend 5 minutes away! We spent many mornings sipping coffee and chatting, helping each other out with the kids, and enjoying each other's company. Charlotte turned two in early June and we celebrated with another big bash out at Kate and Bill's.



We extended our summer fun into July with plenty of beach time, to the delight of all involved. The older kids were kept busy with all of their activities and Missy was able to help me out with them during Charlotte's weekly therapy sessions. The fourth of July was HOT, and we decided to take a trip south to visit Mike's grandparents with a stop for a round of mini-golf and dinner at the Rainforest Cafe on the way home. It was during July when Mike and I started discussing the possibility of expanding our family.



August came too soon in my opinion. I always wish summer could last a bit longer, however, we did our best to make the best of what time we had left. As summer activities wound down for the kids, we made sure to do all the things we had not yet done before school started in early September; we hit the beach a few more times, the zoo, a weekend trip to visit Mike's family, State Fair, and planned many play dates with friends. At the end of the month, right after "meet the teacher" night for both kiddos, we drove up north and spent a few days on the beach with my family. Little did anyone else know (and wouldn't know until November!), right before we left for vacation we found out that baby #4 was on its way...coming in May.



Katherine started 1st grade at the beginning of September, and Will started 4K a few days later. Both kids were happy to be back at school with their friends, and excited to get to know their new teachers! Charlotte's therapy continued with her once a week schedule of PT/OT/Speech. It was during the beginning of September that we started to notice subtle changes in Charlotte's behavior. She seemed tired a lot, battled some icky intestinal junk, and was hard to engage in play. At first, we didn't think much of it, but towards the end of September it started to become worrisome. I thought maybe it was a food allergy and started by cutting out dairy, though it didn't seem to help much. Will turned 5 in mid-September and was thrilled with his gift--a new basketball hoop, though a bit disappointed because he thought after he saw the pole installed it was going to be a zipline. At the end of the month the kids celebrated turning 5 and 7 with a bash out at the farm.



Well, if there was one month I do not want to re-live this year it would be October. Charlotte's funky behavior progressed to being incredibly worrisome, and by mid-October after two trips to the pediatrician, her blood work came back abnormal. Long story short, almost 2 years to the day of her open heart surgery (which was the same day as Katherine's 7th birthday!), we ended up in the hospital for a few days and after a bone marrow biopsy to rule out the ever so scary leukemia, we came away with a diagnosis of Celiac disease. Over the next 6 weeks, she slowly got better as gluten was now eliminated from her diet, and an improvement in all areas of her development was seen. I really don't know what else happened in October, as it seems like such a blur now. All I know is that we could not have made it through those few weeks without the incredible support of our family and friends.



Things were looking up come November as Charlotte's health improved as did the morale of the rest of us! Mike and I got away for the night in early November to celebrate his birthday, and a few days later finally shared the news of baby number four with family and friends. By this point I was feeling much better, and a lot of the worrisome days of early pregnancy were behind us. The kids were super excited to be gaining one more brother or sister and both agreed they wanted the baby to be a boy so Will would have a brother. Thanksgiving at Kate & Bill's towards the end of the month, as well as a quick trip to Mike's parent's house was a great way to end the month.



Christmas concerts, visits to see Santa, birthday parties, and holiday preparations filled our December days. Charlotte continued to amaze us with her crazy amount of energy and growth in all areas (her speech is really taking off these days!), and the older kids were patiently awaiting the arrival of Santa. Mid-December brought our anxiously awaited anatomy ultrasound where we found out that the baby in my belly has a healthy heart, lungs, kidneys,  brain, umbilical cord, spine, and everything else, as well as a...penis. Yes, we were shocked as the tech told us she was 1000% sure that this baby is a boy, and we all could not have been more thrilled. Christmas this year was a blast, the kids are all at such fun ages and it is always nice to see relatives and friends.


And there you have it. 2012 in a nutshell. It was a good year, all things considered. We are incredibly grateful and blessed by all we have been given this year and look forward to all 2013 holds!

Happy New Year everyone!