Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day of School

Today was an amazing day!

Cayman is officially a Kindergartener!! A real school kid!  Over 3 years of preschool has helped prepare I have to say us, her parents, just as much if not more than her for this day.  It's huge!  This is quite a milestone!  She's ready, I know it.  I have been excited for this day! (Nervous too.) For her to finally take that next step and eager to see what this year will bring to her.

I didn't cry when the day finally arrived. 

Shocked by this I questioned denial?

No.  I don't believe that is it. 

I don't feel the normal sadness like I have watched many mom's experience when they send their "baby" off to Kindergarten.  I recall reading a sentence once that said, "A special needs parent doesn't lament over their child growing up."  That feels true.  Either I am on cloud 9 too high on celebration over the growing up milestones that I thought she'd never achieve, or so emotionally exhausted from the lagging behavioral milestones that leave me earnestly longing to move onto the next phase of growing up, needing a break.

As Cayman has grown it's never felt fast.  This is both a wonderful thing and a hard thing. 

Contemplative is a good word for this state I feel.

There is a tightness in my chest that I know is normal and will dissolve with time, I'm certain of it.  I have learned the things I worry over either won't come to be or if they do there is always a way to surmount the challenge.  So don't let it subtract from the gift of what is right now!

I worry about my 6 year old Kindergartener not being potty trained yet.  I think, if only I would have worked harder with her.  But I have!  Oh man have I tried!

It's a new teacher that doesn't know her.  What if they ask her to do things that she can't, or worse, not realize what she can do and expect too little?

Her balance is weak and she has to take her time on steps or curbs.  What if they rush her?

Will she drink enough?

Will they be patient through her anxieties?  Or will they view her as a hassle and not see her place in the mainstream classroom?

Will the other kids understand her?  Will she have friends?  Will they be nice to her?

What is my role? What is best for her?  What are the realistic expectations of where she fits in?  What academic goals do we fight for and which do we let go and rewrite? 

But today, when the big day arrived, those worries settled beneath something magical.  The strength of loving her and letting her go.  I can't explain it but I felt ready for this.

The first time I "saw" Cayman was a picture the hospital had taken of her after she was born.  I was out cold under anesthesia.  When I woke up this is the photo I saw of her...  

The most absolute worst photo ever taken of her, hands down!!  She looked terrible.  I posed a smile next to that picture of my baby.  It wasn't a forced smile, it was real. I did feel a tightening in my chest for the unknown but a deep confidence took seat within me that I was made for this! 

And that is what I felt today! 

Waiting for the school bus to arrive.  Photo taken by Kobe.

When you have your picture taken by a 3 year old occasionally you'll get a finger covering the lens.

Or you'll get a shot of the feet.

Photos of sisters make me go "awwwww".

The bus was running behind, very behind, and Cayman decided to take a rest in the grass.

She was giggling and acting silly.

Then out of nowhere became whiny and moody.  That's our Cayman.  Very typical of her when she's nervous.  Or tired.  Or jealous.  Or hungry.  Or not getting her way.  Or....well I think you get the picture. 

Her Kindergarten days consist of half days, everyday.  The morning went by quick and she was back home with us!

I was happy to see a note in her folder written by her Intervention Specialist telling us about her first day of Kindergarten:

Hi Mike & Kristen,

Great first day of Kindergarten! Cayman was a little apprehensive at first but she was very excited when she walked in Mrs. E's class and saw a friend she knew from last year.  Cayman did great during the practice fire drill.  She had PT today and Music.  Cayman had leaked through her shorts after Music.  We will have her take a bathroom break before her special class tomorrow.  A few reminders needed to listen to teacher directions.  Very happy with how well Cayman did today.

Looking forward to a great year!

Mrs. R.

Today was also a big day for Kobe.

His first day of Preschool!!

Again, I was filled with more elated excitement for this kid to feel any remorse for his growing up milestone of starting preschool.  Maybe that'll come later.  I tend to be a deal-with-one-emotion-at-a-time kind of gal. So depending on what day ya catch me on and see me again later don't be surprised to learn I'm kind of fickle that way.

Having a special needs older sister hasn't been easy for Kobe.  We call him our second-hand special needs kid.  He picks up on Cayman's behavioral delays and mixes them into his strong-willed personality and wow, that's a hot mess fast!

Playgroups, children's church, story time at the library...all of these types of things I have perused to help him progress but he needs more and I think preschool is going to be that exact 'more' that we're looking for.

I'm thrilled to watch what this next year brings for him!

Attempting to take a Daddy, Mommy picture with Kobe.  Cayman was taking the pictures and was very hyper and loud.  Kobe was being uncooperative.

Despite my mid-verbal correction of reminding Cayman to use an inside voice, this is still kind of a cute photo.  Kobe was very happy, although he did tell me only once and briefly his tummy hurt. I think it was nerves but his happiness shined the brightest. 

Hahahaha, now it's Daddy telling Cayman to be "QUIET!"  Goodness that kid can be loud! And look at that little pig-tailed cutie standing in the front!  Cassady melts me with her adorableness.

Still attempting to get a great picture together.

It didn't happen.

Kobe's preschool days are half days as well but in the afternoon.

Naturally, down one child, this momma took advantage of the lighter load to run errands because going out with two kids is way easier than 3!

Popping in for a Quick Blog Visit

I just put my oldest, the beautiful Cayman Cindy, on the bus for her first day of Kindergarten!  That is a huge blog worthy moment!!

Blogging. Does anybody read these anymore?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cassady's One Year Slideshow

Cassady is a year old!

Actually, a year old and almost 3 months.

Time is doing its notorious thing - flying by.  I've said it before contented normalcy and routine have a way of speeding up time even more, moving through the days without noticing its passing until surprise, a whole year has gone by!  After our last move (February 2013) normalcy was reinstated into our family, and I love it!  It's been a beautiful year getting settled and feeling HOME.


That sweet baby girl of mine got jipped on being spotlighted on the 'ol blog space.  That's alright isn't it, the other two did as well this past year.  My three kids have taken all the extra energy I would usually give to maintaining the blog.  I've heard that with each kid you take less pictures.  I can definitely understand how easily that happens.  Different times while Cassady was laying on a blanket achieving her first milestones I was in the bathroom changing another kid's diaper, missing the debut. While not all the first time milestones were recorded so much else was.  As I put Cassady's one year slideshow together I saw how much attention, love, and stimulation she was given by her siblings and cousins.  It has been an entirely different babyhood experience this time around.  Even though Kobe was my second born in many things he was my first.  Cayman, although older, wasn't a teacher in Kobe's baby world of observing, she was still so "young" in milestones herself.  Indeed Kobe became Cayman's teacher and challenged her plateaued milestones.  Now those two ride the rails of competitive achievements and create a busy environment filled with preschool playfulness, tons of talking, and dreadful sibling rivalry.  Cassady was the most contented baby.  The only time she became restless was during Cayman and Kobe's nap hour, when the house was still.  I would call it peace and relaxing.  Cassady seemed to think it was dull and boring.

We are so crazy about this little ceaseless grin-smiling girl. It's slightly terrifying how fast everything seems to be moving these days, but we're excited for all of the moments ahead.  

Because it's always so difficult for me to choose which pictures and videos over an entire year, Cassady's montage is long (trust me, this is the shortened version)!  So if you're so inclined to sit for 22 minutes here ya go...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Carving of 2013

I love pumpkins and carving them into jack 'o lanterns.  My Grandpa was a retired farmer and carpenter by trade.  Although retired he kept busy, not a sitting still kind of man.  He kept gardens, two specifically.  And really there must be another term for his rows in the dirt of planted vegetables because they were more like mini fields than any garden I have ever seen.  His gardens were beautiful and I can appreciate that beauty because of the way he shared his love for growing things. 

Every Fall he brought us kids our pumpkins that he grew from his garden.  It was always a happy time when Grandpa and Grandma came bringing them.  Ever since pumpkins make me happy.

The first year Mike and I were married I wanted us to get pumpkins to carve.  He found the very thought of it humorous, silly.  That was for kids and "we don't have kids yet" he said.  But he loves me so he threw me the bone.  Little did he know this was just the start. 

2004, married 6 months, Mike was in college.

2005, Mike's last year at The Ohio State University, his first block "O" jack 'o lantern.

2006, our cat Lucy got in on the pumpkin picture tradition that year.  We were living in Indiana, 3 hours from home where our families were.

2007, we were absent from our picture.  Horrible nausea, pregnant with Cayman (just a week away from finding out her diagnosis) I was horribly sick therefore I didn't want my picture taken. But I disagree with that decision.  Makeup or none, showered or grungy, be present in the picture or it's gone forever.

2008, Cayman was 7 months old.  We were living in an apartment near our home town happy to be with our families again. But Mike was suddenly put out of work and we were exploring the option of moving away again to find employment but thankfully we didn't have to move too far.

2009, our first Halloween in our new house.  I felt like I had it all.  Loving husband, a beautiful baby girl, a house, stable job, living near our families.  My dream.

2010, pregnant with Kobe and loving the normalcy of life.

2011, Cayman 3 years old, Kobe 10 months.  Mike had taken a new job and we painfully put our beloved house up for sale.

2012, renting a small ranch house on a horse farm, I was sickly pregnant with Cassady but as you can see very much present in the photo for the moment to be remembered.  Lesson learned.

2013, present day. Blessed beyond my wildest imagination.  Living in our new house, 3 children, with the man that once put up a small battle to purchase our first pumpkin 9 years ago has carved one with me every single year and I love him for it!  And he has been heard saying that carving pumpkins before there were kids was way more relaxing. :)
The tradition has stayed alive!

Cayman has never liked touching the goopy insides of a pumpkin and this year was no different.  Her persistence to keep those hands clean cracks me up.  I'm pretty certain she thinks this tradition was created to torture her.

Hand over hand I draw the jack 'o lantern faces with the kids, letting them pick out the shape of the eyes and the nose, and the emotion of the mouth.  Cayman took the above picture of the face we drew for her pumpkin.  I love the "CAY", the start of her writing her name on the paper as if it was a school assignment.  She wanted round eyes, a triangle nose, with a sad mouth.  Kobe wanted a scary face with no nose.

I think Cayman was influencing little brother to loathe the pumpkin guts.
Cayman LOVED the actual carving part.  Hand over hand we sawed each piece from the transferred pattern of the face we drew together.  She giggled and giggled, she was so happy.
Kobe liked the carving part as well. He sat on my lap completely enthralled as we cut through his pumpkin.

The kids' jack 'o lanterns were complete.  We put candles inside and brought them to life with the glow of a flame.  They felt an attachment and knew that pumpkin was theirs.  It only deepen their sorrow when they were next told it was time for bed.  And Daddy and I finished up our jack 'o lanterns in peace. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dusting off the 'ol blog to post an update

Busy days with 3 kids, that are like having 3 under the age of 3, all in diapers. It's a fun, crazy time. I don't sit down much at the computer anymore and the 'ol blog takes a hit because of that. My instagram has taken over the place of blogging and I forget that this little corner of mine still exists. 

Cayman is out of preschool for the summer. She'll do one more year of preschool before kindergarten, to better improve her writing skills, social skills, and hopefully conquer being potty trained as well. She's enrolled in her first T-ball this summer, that'll be cute especially since she'll playing on the same team as her cousin Ty and Uncle Mark is the coach. 

The best part about summer for Kobe will be the water. The kid loves to play in the water. I'm thinking about getting him one of those water/sand tables, the kind with an umbrella as I know shade will be desired as he'd stand there by the hours playing.

 And cassady is the sweetest baby ever. So laid back and happy. Most nights she's sleeping 5-6 hour stretches already. I can't believe she'll soon be 3 months old. Cayman is completely infatuated with her baby sister. Gives her lots of attention. Sometimes cayman will sit at Cassady's feet and play her guitar while singing Cassady a song. It is heart melting sweet. Cayman can also be quite ornery and forgets to be gentle with Cassady. She likes to get right up in Cassady's face by bridging herself atop of baby sister. Kobe likes her too but he gets jealous quickly some days. He's a rough boy and comes running fast when cassady is laying on the floor. You have to watch them constantly, this consumes a lot of my days. 

We love our new house. Living here and the quality time spent together has been ridiculously good. It's been a huge blessing to our family. Currently I'm working on Kobe's big boy room and putting together a nursery for Cassady. I get so excited for this kind of stuff. Making a lovely place for my family is my favorite "me" time. 

Near the end of summer will mark 2 years since Mike took this new job. He's doing great and loves what he is doing. We're close to his work and some days he gets to come home for lunch. That has always been a favorite, living a 1950's dream in the 21st century. I'm so glad we didn't lose that little blessing when we moved. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cassady Ileen..the Story Behind Her Name

We get asked a lot what is the story of how we picked the name Cayman for our first daughter.  The answer is really rather boring and uninteresting.  Simply, we liked the name.  It's unique and pretty and not commonly used, yet simple and easy to recall and spell. Far as my research has found it does not exist in Baby Name books.  But it does have a meaning, "alligator" for which the Cayman Islands were named after.  So obviously we didn't choose the name for its description.

And same goes for the story behind Kobe's name.  We just liked it.

We tend to be drawn to the less trendy names.  To find something creatively different but not so different a person still hasn't a clue what the name is after it's spoken.  Something in the middle between trendy and 'far out there' is what we shoot for.  Unique but memorable.  A name that is common and well known but not thought to be used.  That's the criteria.

For Cayman - it's like the Cayman Islands.

For Kobe - it's like Kobe Bryant.  It also happens to be a geographical location, a city in Japan (but most don't know that or remember the name because of that fact). Mike thinks mostly of steak (Kobe beef).

And now how does Cassady fall into this mixing pot our minds stirred up during baby naming?

With her name there is a little more of a story to be told than just "we liked it".

Starting way back before we had children but wanted a baby, and the journey to parenthood was taking way too long, Mike and I loved dreaming of it together.  With our heads on our pillows at night lying face to face discussing baby names, he would always try to waggle into our list of favorites Ohio State referencing names like  - Scarlet Ann, Woodrow, Brutus, Buck Isaac so when spelled out with only the middle initial it'd be Buck I. (get it?).  And on and on he'd go.

"No." I'd always say, quite seriously.

The man tried hard.  For 9 years he has told me names he thought would be "good" for our children, always a name rooting back to his beloved alma mater. 

It actually makes me happy to say he finally got his dream.   

When picking a name for our third child the selection felt large to wade through.

We decided to set up a specific 'box' to work within - the letter C.

Cayman and Kobe, although they start with different letters, have the same beginning sound.  Unplanned it was but became a link between the sibling names. 

So our girls have a C and our boy a K, but a similar letter sound between them all.

Have I bored you yet??  My stream of consciousness can get quite painful to listen to in its detailed conceptions.  Leaves my husband countless of times staring at me with wide eyes, bewilderment over how the woman's mind works.  So many thoughts.  Digging at the details.  Does all that really matter that much?

"Yes, dear.  And the answer will be yes again the next time you ask and for every topic we are discussing."  *wink*

But knowing we wanted a unique name beginning with the letter C, still where to begin?  And how?

Should it be a geographical location?  Something tropical island, perhaps?

A two syllable since the others are?

On and on we searched the possibilities.

Anything I'd like, Mike wouldn't.  Anything he liked, I didn't.  Marriage is fun like that. :)

Baby naming was becoming exhausting. 

My mother in law was drawn into the entertainment and would randomly send me name choices, keeping her ears keenly aware of anything that might be uniquely suitable to us.  

One particular day reading the newspaper Sue came across the name Cassadee and text it to me.  I liked it!  I told her I would run it by Mike but I was doubtful the name would make our favorite list, he had become adverse toward every name possibility it seemed.

I text Mike at work: "Do you like the name Cassadee?" 

Mike replied: "Yes! But it has to be spelled Cassady."

"Really, you like it??" I asked, my turn for marital bewilderment.

We both actually like a name??  And he's the one being detail oriented for a drastic change, wanting a specific spelling?

"Really, you like it???"

Mike replied with a single picture text and one line "Yup!"

Hanging in the Horseshoe, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, is the names of the Heisman winners including Hopalong (Howard) Cassady, a former football running back in the 1950's. 

Thus, a new Cassady was born.

And the story behind Ileen, Cassady's middle name?

Mike wanted it to be Griffin (see above picture, as exhibit A).

But in honor of Sue, who led us to the name choice for our third child we gave Cassady Grandma Sue's middle name - Ileen.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cayman and Kobe Meet Cassady

Afternoon hours arrived, I became very aware of the clock then.  Cassady in my arms, only a few hours old.  A portion of my mind traveled back home to the older kids' world. 

12:20 - Cayman's probably on the bus by now.

2:30 - the Easter party at preschool is starting.  Grandma and Grandpa with Kobe are there.  I wonder if the weather turned out nice enough for the egg hunt to be outside. I bet Cayman will love it!  Hopefully she'll handle walking in the grass well.

3:30 - school is out.  OMG(!) I can't wait to hear they're on the road on the way here!!

It's an exciting anticipation when the older siblings meet the newest member of the family.  What will they think, how will they react?

Cayman has seemed 'excited' about a baby, best as I can tell limited in her world of expressive language.  Things like her randomly kissing my pregnant belly when she'd sit next to me, patting my stomach she'd say "This is baby."  Or when asked where is Cassady and she'd point to my giant tummy.  She seemed like she understood.  We spent a lot of time hyping up the subject of a baby sister.

Kobe wasn't ever too attentive to the extensive publicity we gave to the baby growing in my belly.  He seemed apathetic one way or another.
The kids arriving with the grandparents. 

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Cayman was happy when she saw Cassady and knew her by name! Lots of touches and kisses, not intimidated by her baby sister one bit!

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Kobe had big smiles looking at Cassady and kept saying "baby" in that sweet voice of his.

signing baby

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In their "Big Sis" and "Big Bro" shirts.  And totally not in the mood for having their picture taken.

The first family picture.  Kobe didn't want to stay put for it.  Mike had to tickle and hold him down, but at least there's a smile.

Much better than this...

Better than words or even pictures themselves is perhaps the moments captured in action...