Wednesday, January 28, 2015

He's different.

Every parent has a moment or two in their life that was defining, or changed them somehow. I have a list of things I'll never forget, for those reasons. But, there is one that stands out in my life that completely changed me, both as a person and as a mom.
At the time, I had 5 year old and 2.5 year old boys. My 5 year old seemed completely "normal" as far as development, interests, etc. But there was something different about my 2.5 year old. Don't get me wrong, he was the cutest thing on the planet....smiley, happy, sociable, etc, But,he had these crazy obsessions with things that seemed beyond normal.
I was taking my boys to Target, and we were getting ready to walk through the automatic double doors, when Brett started to have an absolute melt down because other people were triggering the door to open, and he liked to do it himself. Not only did he like to cause the doors to open, but he liked to stand back and tweak, as we affectionately called it. We had to stand and wait for people to go through, so he'd have an opportunity to stand there and trigger the doors without anyone else doing it before him. Although we'd been through this scenario several times, it was this particular moment where I knew we were dealing with an issue beyond the realm of normal. I remember climbing into the car, and I could feel the tears burning in my eyes. I didn't want to have a kid that was different. It was embarrassing, it was hard to explain, it made me ache for him. Even though he wasn't quite three, I was already picturing a life time of him being teased by people, of having to explain to strangers, and of him not fitting in.
As the months went by, these problems escalated and we were dealing with doors, fans, and anything else with a swinging, rocking or shutting motion. Our lives were dramatically impacted because it's all he wanted to do. Once we were at a birthday party at a jumpy house place. You know, where kids love to jump on inflatables. All of them except mine. We spent the entire two hour party, watching him open and shut a door that led to the lobby. Every single second of that party, he opened and shut a door. I knew my kid was different.
Finally, I sucked it up and realized that we were going to seek advice, help, whatever we could get. So, I contacted the birth-three program at our local county. They sent someone out to evaluate him and go through a lengthy list of questions. Brett's smile and charm seemed to throw them off from the beginning...typically the kids they are dealing with for issues similar to his, are lacking many of those skills. They were stumped as well. His third birthday was just around the corner, where he'd be eligible for a district developmental preschool program, if he qualified. Oh, I prayed he qualified.
After about an hour of being put through many tests, we sat down to meet with the psychologist. It seemed that he was just on the border between qualifying and not. He was extremely bright, but had these "issues" that prohibited him from learning in a typical classroom setting. They agreed to put him in the program and I could not have been more thrilled!
Over the years, I wanted so badly to have a diagnosis for him. It's not that I wanted him labeled, but I wanted to have answers. Sadly, no one could provide that. We even met specialists at the children's hospital, thinking they'd be able to tell us. We thought he might have signs of autism, but they continued to rule it out. Finally, we saw a psychiatrist who met with Brett in a room with one sided glass. She interacted and played with him, for several different visits, and was wonderful. Her best explanation was that he has a sensory processing disorder. It's not a diagnosis, but something that helped to explain what was going on and why he acted and reacted the way that he did. His body processes things differently and he has a heightened awareness in different situations. She explained the tweaking as something similar to an itch being scratched. It's soothing to him.
Somehow, her words made me feel better.
The years went by and he did really well in the developmental preschool program and went on to be a star in Kindergarten. At that time, he no longer qualified for an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and would enter back into the reality of general education. As a parent, I felt torn with this idea. I liked having the IEP because I knew he'd get the support and services he needed, but I was so proud of him for working through a lot of his issues, to the point that they were no longer impacting his learning.
Here's what we know now. Our boy is different, but that's okay. He's pretty amazing, too. I'm not ashamed to tell people my story. In fact, getting him the services we did, at such a young age, was what has made him so successful. I encourage parents everywhere to get help if you sense something is wrong. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Now, Brett is a super star in his first grade class. He's excelling in all subjects and far surpassing our expectations. As far as his SPD, he's improved a ton! We sometimes joke about him tweaking out and he giggles. "Mom, I don't tweak in front of my friends!", but we sure do love him.
I remember sitting down with his kindergarten teacher, last year, and telling her that we were concerned about him fitting in. What was going to be his thing? Jake is really into sports, what would it be for Brett? She smiled at us said, "I think you are looking too hard". She went on to explain that Brett's thing is school. And instead of looking for all of the outside things for him to excel in, to notice how great he's doing in the classroom. Just because he may not be a super star at sports, doesn't make him any less than his brother. He is a different kid. He is lovable and silly. He is friendly, and kind. He is funny, outgoing, inquisitive and sensitive. He has the biggest heart and even thinking about where we were 5 years ago, brings tears to my eyes. I know he's going to do great in life.
Sometimes we have to look past the differences, and realize the potential.

Oh, Brett. On the eve-eve-eve-even of your SEVENTH birthday, we couldn't be prouder to call you our son.

: Linked up with Joy Dare :

Monday, January 26, 2015

Black & White

I'm linking up for a fun fashion post all about black and white in the wardrobe. Check out the linkup by clicking on the image.
 To be honest, at first this seemed like an easy task, but then I realized, I'm not much of a black and white girl. I love color and I love creamy neutrals.
After going through my closet, I found my favorite black and white outfit to highlight. And then, just for funnsies, I thought I'd throw a few of my favorite Pinterest outfits on here.
I LOVE this sweater! It was a Target find this fall (and sadly, not online anymore) and a staple in my closet. It's hard to tell from a distance, but it's actually a black and white knit print. Not grey. It's really comfortable and not too thick. Read: I don't get too hot while teaching.
The leggings were a total score from....Coscto! Say what?! I told you, Costco is the best! What can't you find there??? They were $14.99 and super fun for wearing around the house, or out. The leather look makes them a little more sleek than a plain legging.

And finally, the boots! These were a Black Friday find from Macy's and I totally love them! Not only are they comfortable, but they are a little unique, with the zipper on the inside and outside. They are the perfect amount of shine and I love the place where they hit my leg. I recently donated a pair of black boots that weren't quite tall enough, but these are perfecto!

The great thing about black and white is that you can dress up any outfit with color. I wore this outfit with dangly yellow earrings, and I could have easily done a bracelet, fun rings or bring nail polish. Black and white provide the perfect neutral backdrop for you to have fun with color.
For details on my outfits check out the links:
Boots --HERE
Leggings -- HERE
And a couple inspiration pics from Pinterest. The one on the left makes me SUPER DUPER excited for summer!!! I can almost feel the heat!
And that polka dot dress! I mean!!!!
Okay, so you've convinced me. I might be able to do a bit more black and white. As long as I can add pops of color, okay?! Perfect.

$10 favorites!!

Today, I sat down to do a blog post, and couldn't decide what I wanted to write about. It's been happening a lot, lately! I thought that maybe I could find some inspiration from other blogs, so I started doing some blog-stalking and came across one of the blogs I love to read. Not only was today a fun post, but it was a link-up! Score!!

Sometimes the blog world is a funny one. You follow people on their life journey and almost feel like you are their friend, even though they have NO idea who you are!! ;-) Well, Erika and Andrea are mommy bloggers like me, who happen to have pretty fun blogs. And lives! They both live in Texas, and even though we've never met, I feel like we would be friends. Ha! See? Weird, right?

Today, I'm linking up with the two of them to share a few of my favorite items under $10. Anything under $10 makes me happy!
I want to start with this awesome tank from Target. It's $9, to be exact. And I wear one pretty much every day. To order the tank click HERE. It comes in grey, black and white....and I have all of them! They are really thin, but not see through. They are also LONG, which I appreciate. I like the tank to show underneath the bottom of my shirt. I wore it on it's own in Hawaii, but won't be doing that anytime soon, around here! Really, if you don't have this tank, or if you are looking for a good layering tank, this one is pretty great!

I'm not sure if my next pick is considered cheating because the actual price was more than $10, but I couldn't help but share my awesome deal. I found this super cute knit hat at Ross. I've been looking for something similar, but hadn't found one I loved. In our wet, cold Washington winters, it's nice to have a few hats on hand, to keep the head looking normal, instead of like a wet dog. Ha!

See how cute it is!!?? And check out the tag below. Can't beat $6.99. Practically, free, right? I mean, how could I not??

Anyone who spends any significant time at my house, can attest to my love for this product. I actually love anything Meyer's brand....but especially this soap. It comes in many scents, but the basil scent is my favorite. Sometimes I'll wash my hands, just so they can smell like this. I have the apple scent in my kitchen, and it's a close second.

The final item I will leave you with is this cleaning product I discovered about a month ago. It's called Bar Keeper's Friend, it's SUPER cheap and it works like a charm!! I think it's been around for decades, and maybe I'm the last to know about it, but if you need a good kitchen or bathroom cleaner, get it! Now. I have the powder form to get soap scum and residue off our travertine tile in the bathrooms, but I've heard it's great in kitchens, too.

Click HERE to order it.
What are great items, under $10, that you love and would like to share??!! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A new 28-day challenge for YOU!

Alright friends, listen up! I have a great opportunity for you! I'm serious. Remember back in the fall when I did the Style Me Pretty challenge? (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE) Well, Alison has created a new 28 day challenge, that you totally need to sign up for.

It's called Rediscover Me
She'll be doing a deep dive into defining what matters and regaining confidence while focusing on key areas for women such as self-care and appearance, health and wellness and personal growth and relationships.
Alison is so supportive and was an active participant throughout the entire process, in the last challenge. Registration opened today and will stay open until the 30th, at midnight. There will be no late registrations available, so make sure you sign up quickly. If you want to read more about it, click HERE.

Copied directly from her website:

This challenge might be for you if:

  • You’re ready to regain your confidence and a sense of who you really are.
  • You’re stuck in a rut and not sure how to get out of it.
  • You’re wanting to rediscover a sense of your identity outside of your typical roles of mom and wife.
  • You’re an empty nester ready to reinvent yourself.  You may have a vague sense of what’s next but aren’t really sure.
  • Most importantly, you’re ready to dig deep and DO THE WORK.  This course is called a challenge for a reason.  It’s intensive and life changing.  I only want women who are 100% committed to it

C'mon what do you have to lose?! This will be a fantastic opportunity!
Let me know if you sign up so I can check in with you! =)

Friday, January 23, 2015

{Blue} Friday Favorites: SEAHAWK edtion!

Are you so pumped for the SuperBowl next weekend?!? Eeeeek!! In all honesty, I'm still a little shocked after last Sunday's win. In fact, the whole season was shocking. We started out a little shaky and lost a few games....but they never gave up hope. They got "hot" at the right time and it's hard to doubt a team that shows when the going gets tough.
I'm going to start with my favorite....
Russell Wilson.
{image from}
He's a star. He's changed Seattle sports, and in my opinion, is the most generous, humble and giving athlete that's been a part of this community. Every Tuesday, he spends time at Seattle Children's hospital, visiting patients, making them smile and giving them a reason to find joy. Some may argue that sports figures aren't heroes. And I certainly won't compare them to military personel, firefighters and police officers, who put their lives on the line, daily. But, Wilson is a public figure who makes a difference in our community, and sets a positive example for people of all ages. For that reason, I think he makes a fantastic role model.
So, in thinking about the upcoming SuperBowl and the last "blue" Friday of the year, what kind of gear will you be sporting? I have a variety of things to choose from in my closet (see an example in THIS post), but I'm wondering what YOU are wearing??
My hubby will be sporting this jersey.
I just made my girls these adorable tutus. Brylie will wear a brown onesie that has been taped to look like a football, while Molly will sport her Seahawks long sleeved shirt.

I ordered custom bows for them, but they haven't arrived yet. When they do, I'll be sure to post a pic! Cannot wait!!
Here are some other ideas to keep you up with the Seahawks spirit.
These leggings are adorable! If you search on Etsy, you will find hundreds. I may need to rush order some before next week!!
Click HERE to order these adorable knit hat. I've seen many students wearing it and it's my favorite!!
If you aren't super into logo gear, this is a great alternative for something you could wear all winter with a pair of grey leggings. How cute and cozy!! Click HERE to order.
And I'm pretty much loving this infinity braided scarf!! So many choices!
Oh, and I'm also pretty excited about some custom Seahawks jamberry nails that I'm getting this week. I've never used them before and am interested to see how they hold up, for me. If you aren't into Jamberry, there are a ton of great polishes out there that would be perfect to support the Hawks.
Essie: Aruba Blue or Mojito Madness are both awesome choices!

 And one last pic of three of my kids with their adorable cousins...supporting their Seahawks, last week!
Let me know what you'll be wearing to the parties!
Have a great weekend, rest up, because next weekend  gonna be CRAZY!!!! Oh, and did I mention the SuperBowl is also my Brett's 7th birthday. See what I mean?! So much to celebrate.
This post is linked up with Andrea, Narci and Erika for Friday Favorites.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

House update

It's January. And each year, around this time, I get the itch to clean, re-organize, de-clutter and make changes.
When we moved into our house six years ago, I knew that I wanted to update the kitchen, and do it soon! Amazing how quickly six years passes and we still have done nothing. Well, except rip down the hideous ivy wallpaper, but that was prior to moving in. I love the space of our kitchen, but I absolutely loathe my cabinets. Our house was built in the late 90's when honey oak was "in". Well, honey oak is very OUT, so change needs to happen, ASAP.
Also, when we moved in, I painted the entire interior a mocha color. The décor has been very Starbucks-y {dark reds, browns, teals and golds} and I'm just plain tired of it. I'm ready for something new, fresh and different. Last year, our plan was to have our cabinets painted, countertops installed and new appliances put in. Instead, we took that money and cut down about 6 cedars in our backyard, bought a batting cage, a new big toy and did some major  in our yard. We blew the budget and knew we'd have to save up for another year, in order for any new projects to happen.
But, hello, the time is now. I've been browsing Pinterest looking for ideas and am going to include pictures of my dream. I *think* I have the wall color selected. It's "Dolphin Fin" by Behr. I had hubby paint a wall in the kitchen so I can sit on it for a few days.
Yesterday, I got a wild hair and posted about 20 décor items to a local buy/sell site. I sold our area rug in about 10 minutes and have a woman coming to get 3 sets of curtains. No turning back, now!!
Our biggest decision is going to be with the darn cabinets. We had it all figured out, we wanted white with a white granite or marble, countertop (with some grey and brown swirly accents). Then, my parents built their new home and have these gorgeous, espresso colored cabinets, and now I'm torn. Ahhh!! I'd still go with white countertops, but am not sure on cabinet colors. I love light and airy, so I'm not sure how espresso would do in our house. But with the light grey wall color, white trim and medium/dark flooring, will white look too clinical. I'm stuck.

What colors are you loving right now?? I need help! Who wants to come and design it all?? =)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What's for dinner?? Quick and EASY!!!

If you are anything like me, Mondays mean the start to a busy week and the last thing I like to think about is what's for dinner. Last week, I made this super easy and yummy dinner. Everyone devoured it. In fact, I thought we'd have a ton of leftovers, but we ended up with just a small Tupperware container by the end of the night. And of course, hubby took it for lunch, so I had none. I'm going to take that as a good sign.
But promise me you'll try this soon. It's really good!!!
What you need:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 bell peppers
1 red onion
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup cheddar cheese (I just used enough to cover the entire meal...might have been a little more than a cup)
Defrost chicken breast and lay flat in a 9 X 13 pan.
Sprinkle with taco seasoning and water mixture.

Cut up all the veggies and lay them all over the top of the chicken. Then drizzle olive oil over the top.
Bake at 375 for about 35-45 minutes.
I cooked rice on the side and served the dish over rice. My boys actually put it in a tortilla and ate it like a burrito, which they loved! However you do it, it's good! And really, one of the easiest recipes!

And as an added bonus, I'm going to share with you the world's best peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm not sure what got into me, but I caved and let my kids bake at 6pm at night. What was I thinking??!
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp sugar
1 package chocolate chips
Heat oven to 375. In a large bowl combine sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter, vanilla and egg, blend well.
Add flour, baking soda and salt, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 for 6-9 minutes or until golden brown. Personally, I recommend closer to 6 minutes for a gooey-er, yummier cookie. But that's just me.

These cookies are low fat and low calorie.
Well, not really, but if I tell myself that, I enjoy them more.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Go Seahawks!!!!

We are HUGE Seahawks fans around here and are super excited about today's playoff game. Even better, it's during nap time! This morning, we decided to take the kids up to the McDonald's play place, so we could get them good and worn out. Don't judge. The game will be much more enjoyable if the little girls are asleep!!


Off to watch the game!

Who are you rooting for today??


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tips for traveling with (many) young children

One of the things we love most is traveling! Some people say we are crazy to travel with four kids. Or any kids, for that matter. But, I think that making memories is important enough that we are willing to go for it! Some of the vacations our kids have done....a cruise to Mexico, Disneyland (5x), Las Vegas, Texas, Hawaii (2x), San Diego, Silverwood (5x), Montana, the Oregon Coast (4x) and then many, many road trips throughout Washington and Oregon. Whether traveling by boat, airplane or car, there are so many great ideas that I've used to help make things easier.
Let's start with packing. I get suitcases out about a week in advance. Planning ahead will make you less stressed!

1) When picking clothes, select outfits, rather than separate tops and bottoms. I do this on the floor of each bedroom first and then once I have enough stacks, I use half the suitcase for the clothes. Sometimes, I'll be okay with reusing a pair of shorts, so I'll stack two shirts on top of one pair of shorts. If you have access to laundry while on your trip, you may not even need outfits to match the number of days. For example, we were in Hawaii for 14 days and I only packed my boys about 9 days of clothes. We did laundry almost every day we were there. If you won't have access to laundry, pack at least 2-3 extra outfits. Kids are messy, dirty people! And throw a plastic garbage bag into your suitcase, so you can keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones.
2) My sister uses this tip, and someday I may try it...although it seems like a lot of work for 4 kids! She puts each outfit in a Ziploc bag in order to save space and stay organized. I don't think my boys' clothes would even fit in Ziplocs, but it would be good, especially for babies. Keeping all of the parts of the outfit together is definitely helpful.
3) Pack your child's toiletries separate from yours. I do a gallon Ziploc and put it on the counter to put together the morning we leave. Somehow, it seems that our flights are almost always at the crack of dawn! Toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, lotion, etc, it all goes in! I roll a towel around these incase something busts open in flight. Then, shoes, coats and any extras go in the side. Super easy!
4) The night before you leave, make sure everything is packed, lay the outfit and shoes on top of the suitcase. Wake your child up at the LAST minute. I'm serious. It's so much easier to get ready and packed without kids running around. You can do their hair later, but to not have them in the way is worth the last minute rush.
5) Pack a travel bag or carry on for each child. We do backpacks because they don't require hands. I don't know what your thoughts are on electronics, but for travel, they are my best friend. Each child has a kindle (make sure it's charged and the chargers are packed), coloring books with crayons, books, a small toy and a book or two to read. My boys have chapter books and I threw in hardback books for the girls. Finally, and most importantly, SNACKS. I do a gallon Ziploc in each child's carry-on that includes a granola bar, squeezy applesauce, trail-mix, a box of raisins, nutri-grain bar and bag of cereal. I know it sounds like a lot, but food seems to help in almost every situation--including a flight delay, an antsy toddler in a car ride, etc. If were are on a road trip, I make sure to stock the center console with DVD's, so the kids can watch movies while we drive. They do get tired of this, so we'll do a movie, then take an hour break and then go back to a new movie.
6) Once you're on the road, plane, whatever, get the kids settled. The first thing I do on the airplane is to make sure everyone is organized, has their immediate needs met, blankets tucked over laps, everyone has gone potty, backpacks tucked under seats, headphones out, etc. Then, it seems to be more relaxing as we take off. If we wait to organize until we are in the air, it's frustrating and there isn't a whole lot of space.
7) Allow them to stretch their legs. On a road trip, we don't go more than 2-3 hours without a stop. Anywhere we stop, we make the kids get out of the car. I remember driving to Montana with our boys (a 13 hour trip) and stopping at a random rest-stop on the side of the highway to play chase. Even 5 minutes of running around will be enough to get a little energy out. On an airplane, walking to the bathroom is pretty much the only option. Whatever they can do to get their little legs moving for a few minutes.
8) When arriving at your destination, get settled! We have a little routine going where my hubby will take the kids to play (or walk around the lobby, a park, or wherever) while I unpack. Putting clothes in dressers and hanging clothes will help you to stay organized on your entire trip. When we arrived in Maui, this included going to the grocery store and Costco, and really taking most of our first day to make sure we had everything we needed for a great trip. Having someone take the kids away will make this process much faster and less frustrating. Trust me!
9) Bring baby monitors! Nap time and bed time are when a parent has their real vacation. If you are stuck somewhere just so you can hear the baby, that's no fun! Some monitors will even work through hotel walls. When we were in Disneyland in September, we were able to go to a different room to hang out while the kids slept. In Hawaii, we could lay by the pool, or go to the other side of the house and still hear the baby if she woke up.
10) Enjoy the trip and keep expectations low! Traveling with kids is different from traveling with adults. They need naps, they need more frequent stops, but they sure make it fun! Don't attempt eating out for every meal. Breakfast is super easy to eat in a hotel room and lunch can be at a quick stop. I prefer not to do a lot of restaurant-ing because it means a lot of sitting and waiting for the kids. Theme parks are great because everything is quick and easy! If you can stay in a house, like we did in Maui, that makes meal time a breeze! Cook at home and you don't have to deal with that.
11) Before leaving, be as organized with your packing as you were on the way there. If you have laundry, wash it all, and fold, so you can come home and just put it away. If you don't, make sure all the dirties are in the plastic bag, so it can go straight to the wash at home. Oh, and bring a spot cleaner with you! You don't want nasty stains sitting for a week. The more organized you are, the quicker it will be to settle back into normalcy when you return.
12) When you arrive home, PUT IT ALL AWAY. I can't tell you what a difference this makes. I'm sure you'll be exhausted and tired, but the sooner you get the clothes put away and everything cleaned up, the better you will feel. Even if you don't get in until late at night, throw that first load in the laundry so you can switch it over in the morning. My goal is to get suitcases out of the house within 24 hours. Kids can help, too. I have them un-pack their carry-ons and put things away.
The bottom can do it! Relax, have fun and enjoy creating memories with your kids. =) What other creative or awesome travel tips do you have?? I'd love to hear!

I'll leave you with pics from our 10th day in Maui. We spent another day on the beach and in the pool. Paradise, I tell ya!

The kids discovered a crab and it was the source of entertainment for a looooong time. I almost felt like I owed the crab money for babysitting. ;-)

Molly loved having her "Mimi" (my sister) around for 2 weeks. She's pretty much the master hair-doer and each day, styled Molly's hair in the cutest ways. They were twinsies with their matching curls.

The adults headed for an evening out, so we actually got dressed up a bit!

Dinner and drinks at Moose McGillicuddy's. Yum.