Sunday is here and I find myself running on empty. Daddy has been away since Monday morning, so I have been flying solo with both kids for the longest time yet in the last 5 months. I tried very hard to make it through this week with my sanity but it wasn't always easy. 
I thought I'd share some confessions from this week. 

1. I drank an absurd amount of coffee. Not even to be a high performing supermom. Literally mass amounts simply to function & not pass out when I sat down for a minute. It only sort of worked. I got the bare minimum done most days, frequently leaving the house a disaster to sneak a celebratory "we're still alive for the day" cookie before heading to bed to watch Netflix. 
2. I used food to entertain Greyson a couple of times. Like put the container of strawberries on the counter because I knew he'd eat them & let me have a few minutes to wash dishes or get Olivia's bottles ready for the morning. 
3. We played with Snapchat - a lot! Greyson is obsessed with the "dog one" so we would take pictures & make silly faces. And then send the creepy ones to daddy to let him know we miss him (he is lame & doesn't have Snapchat). 
4. I let the kids sleep in our bed. Olivia basically slept with me every night, which isn't all that different from a normal night since she is still in our room. But at least twice, Greyson woke up to go potty & instead of putting forth the effort to get him back to sleep in his own bed, I got him to crawl into our bed to cuddle. 
5. Dinner was almost non-existent. Greyson barely eats any night & I was so exhausted with no motivation to cook. So dinner consisted of lots of toast, quesadillas, chicken fries, and Mac & Cheese. #noshame 
6. We are crazy excited for daddy to be home tonight! We are anxiously counting down the hours and minutes until we can get him from the airport. We went to Target & it totally felt so late - I was less than thrilled to realize it was only 2 PM! 

There ya have it! My shameless confessions of how I managed to keep the kids alive and the house [mostly] in order! 
Now if you need us, we will be over here bouncing with excitement awaiting daddy's plane! 

July 4th

I'm We like to keep July 4th a bit on the low key side over here. Not because we aren't patriotic, but it's hot & people like to get crazy. With little kids, we just try to be smart. 

Colorado Springs has lots of places that set off fireworks on the 4th of July. We missed watching them last year because Greyson spiked a fever, keeping us home. (Spoiler alert - similar situation occurred this year). 
Even though there's lots of places to go, they're super crowded & require sometimes miles worth of walking just from where parking is available. 
Kids + extra walking + huge crowds = not for us! 

Every year, Fort Carson does their 4th of July event on the 3rd. I had been itching to have a BBQ all summer so my boss offered to host at her house. The girls I work with & our families all headed over & had a fun little potluck BBQ. We hung out, the kids played with chalk & bubbles, & we ate (of course!) 

Then we walked to the event on base since it was close to her house. Kids played in the bouncy houses a bit before they decided to kick 2-4 year olds out because there were too many. So some in the group grabbed treats & we headed back to find a spot to watch fireworks. 

Greyson loves my boss' son & finally warmed up to my boss, after months of breakdowns because he said Hi to him.  He also was obsessed with the stuffed alien her son won & carried him back, after naming him Aneen! His imagination is a wild one! 

Olivia was chill her first 4th. She was admired & passed around a lot. She mostly just hung out since she's really too young to partake in much of the fun . 

Fireworks are infinitely better when watched through your kids' eyes. I have Grey a light stick that was like gold to him. And the amazement on his face with each flash & boom. #swoon 
Olivia slept in the carrier of course, just like Greyson slept through his first 4th of July fireworks. 

And in typical Greyson + holiday fashion he ended up with bacterial conjunctivitis. We spent our 4th of July in urgent care before we came home to hangout, play with chalk, & cherish the joy of putting eye ointment on our 3 year old. 

Happy Independence Day!! 

Parenting Through Struggles// ADHD

When I imagined my family & what parenting would look like, I imagined many things. I saw hugs & kisses. I saw stories at bedtime. I saw lazy days when we never change out of PJs & watch movies all day. I saw adventures to the zoo. I never envisioned navigating how to parent with a toddler that has ADHD. 

My mom always put the mothers curse on me. 

"I hope your kids are just like you." 

Well he is in some ways, but in a lot of ways, he isn't. I was prepared for Greyson to have my demeanor. And at the same time, didn't really consider how much he could be like my husband. 

ADHD is very genetic. It flows through family members like blood type. And just like his inheritance of my husband's blood type, he also gained the ADHD that exists in a long line of his family. 

The internet is full of parenting advice, ranging from how to feed your child to how to where to send them to school. But in the throes of ADHD fun with a toddler, I haven't found much advice or many tips that have really helped for his specific kind of challenges. 

Patience. Unending patience. This is the hardest but probably the most important thing we've had to learn. When your toddler is just pushing to the very ends of your limits, take a minute & breathe. Working yourself up will work them up even more. Kids feed off of your energy. 

After lots of trial & error, plus a plenty of collaboration with Greyson's teachers, I've come up with the top 5 tips that have worked for us & help us manage our day to day activities, including school, dinner & bedtime. 
1. Count to 10 & breathe. This seems fairly simple yet it's the easiest thing to not do. Greyson has been a very good counter for awhile so he does this himself with our guidance. Just getting him to stop - whether he is running around like crazy or throwing a fit in the store - this helps so much. We count to 10 (or down from 10 to 1 - whichever he decides he prefers that day) and have him take 3 deep breaths when he is done. This helps to calm his mind so he can hear us or articulate what he wants/needs. It does wonders for patience on our part so we don't snap to frustration. 

2. Set rules & schedule. All children thrive having a schedule, which I know. But my research & experience has highlighted the necessity for children with ADHD to have set boundaries that they know & can follow consistently. We set all of our rules with Greyson. We ask him what they should be, he determines the "order" and it has become a ritual of sorts for him to tell us them. 

3. Use favorite toys/items to channel behavior. Greyson has just a mass amount of energy at all times and sometimes he doesn't pick the greatest ways to expel it. By chance, we stumbled upon encouraging him to use to toy or book to guide the energy into something to focus on that fits the situation. For example, we found Grey a Lightning McQueen backpack at Target that he just loves. When he has energy he wants to get out, we have him put on the backpack so he can be a race car like Lightning & then he has to be Greyson, aka calmer, when he takes the backpack off.

4. Set designated areas for energy outlets. This sort of goes along similar lines as the last point. This is more to teach him that some places are okay to let loose & others we need to keep it reigned in a bit. He has a hoodie that is from Where the Wild Things Are that he likes to wear & pretend he's a monster. We were having problems with him being wild & screaming in other kids' faces. So to help with it, his teachers came up with a few isolated areas in the classroom where he could be a monster. After awhile, he knew that if he wanted to be wild & yell a bit, he went to those areas and came back out ready to chill. 

5. Get on their level & make eye contact. This is a hard, but important one. When you're standing over your child talking to them, even in a calm or nice tone, it can easily seem like you're scolding them. A trick I learned working in childcare was to talk to the child at their own level. Keep the same calm tone and make eye contact. Greyson has a tendency to drift his eyes around the room while talking to him. Getting him to look at our eyes helps to keep him focused since he is only really listening when he's looking at us.

6. Parent out of love, not punishment. Every child and family is different and only you know what is best for your situation. We are far from perfect parents, but we know that Greyson is a unique little person who has different needs than other kids, even different than I'm sure Olivia will need when she's older. But when we work with him, we keep in mind that we are molding a little person and want to provide him with the best tools to manage his energy and attention throughout his entire life in order to allow him to succeed in the best way he can.

I know that what works for us, may not work for everyone. But I do hope that some of these tips can help and guide others to a point where they find what is best for their child. I've learned that it takes a village & hopefully realizing that the village is a bit bigger than expected will bring some reassurance to those who are gifted with raising a little ball of energy like we have been.

Adventures// Nana Deb

More visits from family & adventures to share. 
Nana Deb, my lovely mom, came to visit us in Colorado a couple of weeks ago. She was only here for a few days, but we managed to get plenty of fun packed into those days. 

 This was her first time meeting Olivia in person, which was super special. Greyson was 8 months old before we were able to make a trip home after he was born for her to meet him, so for her to be able to meet Olivia when she wasn't yet 4 months old was pretty awesome! Grey loves Nana Deb & we call her all the time, even when she isn't available to chat he'll have pretend conversations with her! And quickly became obsessed with her camera. 

First up - the pool! It was blazing hot while she was here so a trip to the pool seemed necessary. We all hung out & played in the water. Until the kids napped & Greyson woke up sick. 
 Next we walked around & looked at the outside planes that are on display as a part of the Peterson Air & Space Museum. Grey is obsessed with planes so he was pretty excited to show them to Nana. And of course assign one to everyone he knows! 

And we visited the Penrose Heritage Museum. They have a bunch of old carriages and race cars on display, so to say Greyson loved it would be an understatement. The green racecar was daddy's, even though he wasn't able to go with us. The red racecar was Lightning McQueen, of course. It was such a cute little museum to explore with our little car lover. 

Of course we couldn't skip the zoo, as you know we are pretty much obsessed! It was our first time trying out the double stroller. I always swore I'd never have a double stroller, but bought it thinking I would use it to jog (haha, yeah right). And it turned out to be handy at the zoo. We saw all of Greyson's favorite animals, he showed Nana how to be a tiger & elephant, and got to explore the plane by the African exhibit. 

And last but not least was the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. They are a museum that works to restore and recreate dinosaur fossils and bones. They have a bunch on display that have been found all over the world. We saw Triceratops, Grey's favorite, and managed to get a sort of family picture! 

 We love when family comes to visit but are always sad when they have to leave! It's definitely hard having kids & living so far from everyone. But we are grateful that we live much closer now & are able to go back & forth a little easier. 

We look forward to our next visitors & are hoping we can find some time to make it back to Ohio sometime soon. 

Zoo Membership

We are frequent visitors of the zoo here in Colorado Springs. It was one of the first things we did when we moved here. And we have gone back several times over the last year, including Boo at the Zoo and the Holiday Lights. Greyson loves the animals and it makes for a great weekend family day. 
Since we go sooo often, we decided it would be the best use of our money to get a membership this year since we now have to pay for Greyson. 2.5 visits & the membership has paid for itself! Greyson has been going to various zoos since he was 4 months old & now Olivia will have the same experiences! 
We love how hands on the Cheyenna Mountain Zoo is. Greyson loves to feed the giant herd of giraffes everytime we go and has discovered his love for petting "kangaroos," which are actually wallaby although he refuses to acknowledge that! 
And he even makes new friends each time. He is not even a little shy when it comes to other kids. He will revel in the sights of his favorite animals & bond with them instantly. If the other kid is lucky, he will ask their name. Otherwise, he says things like "hey, boy! Look at the fish!" 
Of course Olivia has little interest in the zoo currently. But she loves watching Greyson do almost anything, especially his acting like animals. Her favorite is when he pretends to be a leopard! And of course love from mom & dad is pretty cool too!  
We are so excited for all of the zoo visits we get to look forward to this year. It's nice to know we can go & have already paid, making them essentially free days for us. We love picnic lunches & how every visit is different. 

Bring on the summer fun! 

Olivia// 4 Months

Little Miss Olivia is 4, four, months old!?

We are seriously loving watching her grow into her own little person. And the interactions between the kids. Which is mostly love, a little "Olibia took my truck!" Those eyes?! She's going to melt hearts one of these days! 
 We had her check-up a week early & she weighed in at 12lb 5oz and was about 23.6 inches long. She's wearing mostly 6 month clothes, with a couple smaller sized onesies that are brands that run a tad on the bigger side. 
 She started rolling over from both her belly to back & back to belly. This week she also discovered she can roll multiple times to take her places she want to go, usually to get a toy she sees. She is even moving her little legs like she is wanting to scoot. #slowdown 
 She is a hardcore thumb sucker. Usually she only has it in her mouth when she is trying to sleep. Since she started rolling & can lay on her tummy, with that & her thumb, she goes to sleep great all on her own. She is sleeping basically through the night, only sometimes waking up once or occasionally twice. 
She loves watching us, especially Greyson, do just about anything. Loves flying in the air & tickles on her tummy. Her favorite toys are animals & make the crinkle noises. She is definitely interested in food & I just know she will be ecstatic in 2 months when we start solids! 
She is seriously an amazing baby! Pretty laid back & chill almost all of the time. You know, the opposite of Greyson! Ha 

Can't wait to keep seeing the new things she does & try to not compare her to Greyson toooo much! 

My Biggest Distractions & Best Motivations

It's sort of funny how life, goals, expectations evolve throughout our lives. I always knew I wanted kids. I also knew I wanted to go to graduate school and find my way into a career. But I also thought that I would've taken a different path to get to where I am today. 

I imagined jumping right into Grad school once I graduated with my Bachelor's degree. But low & behold, I moved to Charleston, got married and found a job to, you know, figure out what I wanted to do. Just 6 months after graduating, we found out we were moving to Germany. Job & school halted, just like that. And I was content with that. 

We had Greyson in Germany and made the decision to stay home with him instead of returning to work. I barely made enough for the expensive childcare & it simply wasn't worth it at the time. 

Fast-forward to 2015 - big changes were in store for us. We moved back stateside to Colorado, I got a new job & started Grad school. Then found out I was pregnant again! While we were ecstatic, I was also sort of nervous about what that would do to my plans. 

I continued to work throughout my pregnancy, up until the week before my due date (since my boss was convinced I'd have her there if I kept going). I also still took classes and worked on training to be a teaching assistant. I was sitting in recitation the morning I had Olivia, ignoring the contractions to grade student speeches. #dedication 

Somehow, I managed to take several more classes and return to work since she was born. I wake up early to take care of her and Greyson, spend my days running around usually busy, rushing home for dinner & to spend as much time with my little family before squeezing in some school work at night (when I'm in class) before passing out to repeat the same thing the next day. 

I say my family is my biggest distraction because at any given time, I would 100% rather be doing anything with them. To hand off the baby to my husband in order to have 2 hands to type a paper, not the easiest thing for me. To sacrifice doing bedtime and reading books with Greyson in order to post on discussion boards, fills me with regret. 

Then I look at them. I watch them sleeping in a little pile as I sit at the dining room table, typing away and see why I do it. They are my motivation. Of course I want it all. I want my Masters. I want a career. But I want it for them. 

I want to show my kids how to work hard. Push through the struggles. Set goals for themselves and not let anything get in the way. Strive for what seems like is the impossible. I want to help support our family in the best ways I can. I want a job I enjoy so I can come home and not be in a bad mood from it. 

I had the best role models growing up, mostly my amazing mom. And I want to be that for my kids. For my husband. For us. 

So even though the days are long, I keep trucking on and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am just about half way done with my program and am getting eager to graduate (hopefully) in the Spring.