May 31, 2017

Our Trip to Colorado

My cousin, who is 9 years younger than me, got married over the weekend. Her and her husband (so weird saying that!) live in Colorado so that's where the wedding was. We've always been really close and I was thrilled to be her matron of honor. Just for fun, here she was as my maid of honor almost 11 years ago! :)

We left right after school last Tuesday and drove an hour to my mom's house where we met my aunt and Grandma. We then drove another six hours, which got us on the other side of Omaha around 10:30 pm. We stopped and slept at a hotel for the night.

Wednesday morning we got up at 7:30, ate some breakfast and headed out for the day. It took us about seven more hours to get to Boulder. My aunt has a DVD player in her van so we watched three movies in the two days of traveling. I also had printed out a fun travel scavenger hunt and a map to keep track of all the states we saw on license plates. Kyla loved that!

We stayed in a five bedroom air b&b, which was really nice. After we got there we ordered some pizza and had it delivered and got all our stuff unpacked. Later that night we went over to the church to drop some things off. We didn't end up getting to bed until about 10:30, which was actually 11:30 our time.

Thursday morning was spent at the church getting things ready. Then in the afternoon the bridal party went and got our nails done. Kyla came with us and thought she was so special getting her fingernails and toenails painted. :)

My mom and step dad had gotten into town that day so they took Kyla for the night because we were having a bachelorette party for my cousin. It was pretty low key - dinner, drinks and back to her apartment. The food was awesome and it was nice to be able to visit with everyone. We all had to travel to get to Colorado so everyone was pretty tired so a low key night was perfect!

How gorgeous is she?! Kyla gets her love of unicorns from Kirsten! :)

Friday was a busy day. The wedding was outdoors so we had tents set up and spent most of Friday getting tables and chairs set up and then getting all the other little details finalized. Friday night was the rehearsal and then dinner.

Saturday was wedding day! It ended up raining during the ceremony so we moved it under the tent, which we were expecting and planning for anyway. But shortly after the ceremony was over it stopped raining and it was beautiful out so we got some awesome pictures with the mountains in the background. There was karaoke and yard games. It was the perfect day!

I didn't get many pictures of the wedding day, but I had to share this one of the bride and groom heading off on their honeymoon. She was seriously the most gorgeous bride I've ever seen!

(Picture credit to another bridesmaid, Bekah.)
We headed out for home bright and early Sunday morning at 6:00 am. We drove the entire way that day and got home at 10:00 pm (lost an hour on the way). I did not sleep well at all while we were gone so I was excited to be in my own bed!

All that driving and Kyla did not complain once. Not one time! She handled all the traveling, the late nights, all the time spent getting things ready for the wedding, like a champ. Oh, and she rocked the whole flower girl thing. She took the whole "throw the flowers" thing literally. She threw those flowers and it was the cutest thing I've ever seen. Then she sat through the entire ceremony like this...

I need to take her out and get her something special because she was awesome the entire trip!

We're very happy to be home, but we miss Kirsten and Brad (and those beautiful mountains) already. We hope to go back and visit as a family soon!

May 16, 2017

Life Lately

It's been almost two weeks since my last post and ironically, that post was about how I'm handling my anxiety. Now here I am in some kind of funk. I hate taking blog breaks, but I just didn't have anything worth posting.

Please forgive me as today is just going to be a completely random life update with no order to it whatsoever.

Let's start with Mother's Day because I feel like there's some blogger rule that you have to share about your Mother's Day. Mine was low key and pretty much like any other Sunday. While I was getting Kase dressed in the morning he said, "No school today? I stay home?" It kind of broke my heart, but I was really happy I could tell him yes, you get to stay home with mommy and daddy today. He loves his "school" and his therapists, but the sweet boy needed a day off. I can't blame him! Kyla and I went out and did some shopping, which was really nice. After dinner we all hopped in the van and went out for some ice cream. It was the first time Kenley got her own ice cream and not just a bite of her brother or sister's so she thought she was pretty cool. And in true #bloggerfail fashion, I didn't take a picture of this momentous occasion.

Although I'm not proud to admit it, it was one of those weekends where I felt really, really sad. I was wishing we could do something, go somewhere, get a family picture like everyone else in social media world. Don't get me wrong, we could have done something or gone somewhere. But it would have been really hard. And a hard, stressful time wasn't really what I was hoping for. Remember how I told you once in awhile that jealousy comes creeping back? Yeah, that happened.

Like I said, I'm not proud of having those feelings, but it's reality. We all have bad days, right? I've snapped out of it and am having a great week so far!

Yesterday the weather was beautiful and Kenley and I had so much fun together. It was another reminder of how lucky I am to be home with her every day.

Let's see, what else is going on...

We are (not so) patiently waiting to hear if Kase gets accepted into the school district that Kyla is in. We should find out in a couple weeks. I really hope it's just an easy "yes" because if not, we're in for some big decisions.

Kyla and I leave next week for my cousin's wedding in Colorado. I've been busy getting everything ready and making way too many to-do lists. Tyler will be staying home with Kase and Kenley. It was going to be way too stressful (and expensive) for us all to go. I'm the matron of honor and Kyla is a flower girl. I want to be able to focus on my cousin and being there for her, which means I wouldn't be much help to Tyler with the kids. Plus Kase would miss several days of therapy, which would have had a big impact on his awesome progress lately. We all agreed that this was best. Plus they're having a reception back here in September so we can all go to that.

Speaking of Kase and his progress, he is doing so well right now. Transitions in and out of both clinics are going well, he's cruising through different programs they are working on with him, he's compliant, interacting with peers (although this continues to be one of his biggest weaknesses), and doing great with his feeding program. His team has been digging deeper into his feeding issues and found that he's definitely lacking some oral skills that kids have at this age. He doesn't know how to move food around in his mouth correctly. Also, he has some real sensory issues with certain foods and textures. It's been hard to know what is attention seeking and what is truly hard for him. It's nice to get some professional advice and have a plan on how we can help him.

Some new foods that he's eating - grapes, strawberries, pretzels, goldfish, yogurt & applesauce in cups with a spoon (he used to only eat them out of the pouches), string cheese, chicken nuggets, toast, apples, fruit snacks, graham crackers. All of these things he would not touch a couple weeks ago. He's doing awesome at the clinic so now we are working on getting him to eat these foods at home too. He thinks at home he can still always have his pop tarts and chips. We will give him a choice of two things that we know he's been eating at therapy and he will choose one. We don't deprive him of pop tarts and chips, but he doesn't get them for every meal/snack like he would prefer. We document everything, like they do at therapy, so we can start to see which items are preferred. Eventually we will be able to tell what things he doesn't like because it's okay to not like foods. This week they are starting carrots, summer sausage, hot dogs and waffles. Yesterday he did awesome. Tyler picked him up at the end of the day and he said Kase's therapist was so excited to share how he did. For lunch he ate a whole piece of toast with butter, applesauce in a cup (he's had a hard time using a spoon, but is doing great with it!), grapes and chips. During the actual feeding therapy he ate 6 bites of string cheese, 8 bites of carrots, 1 whole chicken nugget and 2 bites of the sausage. She said he seemed to really like the carrots. Yay!

We're trying to get a few things in different food groups, but keeping them pretty kid friendly. He has a hard time when foods have different textures. For example, he has had some oranges, but they noticed that he had a really hard time with the chewy stuff, the stringy stuff and the juice that all come with one bite of an orange. He also has a hard time with apple slices that have the skin on them. He will chew the skin for several minutes and just not know what to do with it. All of this just takes more practice and therapy, but for now, they want to focus on foods that, for the most part, just have one texture and taste.

Kyla only has a couple weeks left of school. She is sad because she LOVES her teacher, but she's excited for summer and I'm excited to have her home! Kenley is going to love having her here every day too! She is starting softball soon and has a volleyball camp with the Badgers in a couple weeks. She's also doing two summer school classes for a couple weeks, just for fun. I'm sure the summer is going to fly by and soon we will have a 1st grader!

Kenley continues to make us laugh on a daily basis. She reminds me so much of Kyla when she was this age. So sweet, but so much sass and a little temper for good measure. She's still a great eater. She loves to sing in the van and knows way too many words to the Trolls songs. She knows her basic colors and is starting to sing her abc's a little bit. She still loves to color and take baths. I'm excited to see how she will like Uncle Mark's pool this summer.

This ended up being way longer than I anticipated so thanks for reading until the end. We're supposed to have a high of 86 today so we're going to get outside this morning before it gets too hot!

May 3, 2017

Dealing With Anxiety

Disclaimer - This post is a little personal, but it's part of my journey and I am not ashamed of it. Since I started sharing our story on this blog and on Facebook, I have had so many people reach out to me and thank me for being open and honest. I get messages on a weekly basis from people telling me that they can relate to something I wrote. It was one specific message I got last week that helped me decide to share this.

It's no secret that 2016 was a hard year for me. I'm not going to go into a ton of detail because it's honestly really hard to explain. I guess it's just that the autism diagnosis was still very new, the in-home therapy was extremely stressful, we were dealing with insurance headaches and I often just felt extremely overwhelmed. I worried about everything (still do). I worried about the future. I had an insane amount of guilt. Guilt about the autism. Guilt that our family couldn't go out and do a lot of things that we'd like to. Guilt for my girls and what they were missing out on. I was having a hard time with the day to day struggles that come along with autism - the behaviors, the extreme food issues that made mealtimes stressful for everyone. It all consumed me.

In August of 2016, after fighting it for too long, I decided to go to my doctor and talk to her about it. She prescribed me with an anxiety medication that I could take just when I felt like I needed it because we agreed that I didn't need something every day. For the first few months I would take it once or twice a week on the days when I felt like I was drowning from the worry and stress. There were days when I'd get home from picking the kids up after school and therapy and we'd still have a couple hours before Tyler would be home from work and I would think to myself, "How am I going to make it until bedtime?" I would feel myself losing patience with my kids and I hated that. Although I didn't feel a dramatic difference after taking the medication, I would make it to bedtime and think to myself, "I did it!" So although I didn't really feel different after taking it, I believe it helped me get through those tough few hours.

After the holidays, I found myself taking it less, maybe twice a month. I track in my planner which days I take it so I can look back and see exactly when I took it and what was going on those days. Looking back now, I didn't take it at all in April (or May so far). I got thinking about it and I have to believe the fact that I'm exercising more and completed the 30 miles in 30 days with Erin isn't just a coincidence. I mean it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that exercising is good for you, not only physically but mentally as well. I didn't realize it as the month was going on, but now looking back, I think it played a big role. I'm also going to the gym once in awhile (hopefully will start to be more now that my wrist is feeling better).

There are a couple other things that I think are contributing to me feeling better lately. Kase is doing well at therapy and his team is amazing. I don't have to stress every day and worry if we're doing what's best for him. I am 100% certain that where he's at now is the absolute best thing for him.

Erin and I decided to take a break from our Etsy shop. We are both busy moms and it was going from being a fun outlet for us both to being too stressful.

My brother recently started his second new business and I am helping him part time. I'm really excited about this. Being a stay at home mom is a huge blessing for our family. When Kyla was 2 1/2 and Kase was 1, I went back to teaching 3rd grade because I thought it was time. It didn't take long for me to realize that my kids needed me at home and this is where I'm meant to be right now. With that being said, being home every day is hard in a totally different way. I love it and I'm grateful, but having this part time work with my brother is having a very positive effect on my life. It's hard to explain and may sound silly, but I feel part of something, part of a team. I feel like I'm contributing (in a small way right now). It also gives my mind a break from all the worries that go along with being a special needs mom. I'm very thankful for my brother for trusting me and giving me this opportunity.

I don't like taking medications, which is why I fought going to the doctor for so long. But there came a point where I had to admit that I needed some help. And that was okay.

I'm not saying I won't ever need the medication again because I just don't know. I have good days and bad days. However, I do feel like I have turned a huge corner in 2017. I feel like I spent last year grieving and feeling sad that our life may not be exactly what I had planned. I definitely still have my moments where I let jealousy or guilt or worry take over, but it's MUCH less than it used to be.

I apologize if this post was all over the place. I started writing this last week and finally decided to hit the publish button this morning. This blog is like therapy for me a lot of times. I'm not sure who reads it, but I always feel better after I publish a post. Dealing with anxiety is just a small part of my journey and talking about it is one way that helps me keep it under control.

Thanks for reading!

May 2, 2017

Boy's Summer Clothing Haul {Carter's}

I recently bought Kase some clothes for this summer and thought I'd share what I got. All the shorts and shirts were either $6 or $7 and then I had a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase.

I only buy shorts and pants with the elastic band. With him being newly potty trained, we like for him to be able to be completely independent going to the bathroom. We will tackle buckles and zippers later!

He is in size 5 right now. Carter's has 5T, 5 and then 6. He can still wear some 5T stuff and other stuff he has outgrown. There isn't a huge difference between 5T and 5, but 6 would be too big so I went with 5 for this stuff, which should fit him through the summer.

I love little tank tops in the summer. This was the only one they had, but I will be getting a few more because I just love seeing his cute little arms! :)

I usually shop at Target, Old Navy and Carter's for my kids. Sometimes Gymboree when they have sales and I have coupons. Where do you all shop for kids clothes? Leave me a comment and let me know! :)