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Monday, May 22, 2017

The End of an Era

In two days we will be done with preschool forever! Leo started preschool when he was three in 2011 so we have been in preschool for six years. In total, we have participated in seven preschool classes. They have pretty much all been fantastic. And I have a special place in my heart for Leo's "Doves" class he did in Frisco cause I just loved those teachers.

But this class--the Young 5's--that Gus is in this year, is my FAVORITE preschool class ever. If you can be in love with a class, then that is what I am.

There is one amazing teacher, Ms. Morgan, nine awesome kids and eight fabulous moms. (One mom has twins so that is why there are only eight. I'm not saying there is one non-fabulous mom.) Oh, and the dads are pretty cool too!

All of the kids are such sweet friends; they even say "I love you" to each other on a regular basis. And the hugging. Oh, the hugging! They embrace at the end of every school day. They were actually kissing each other too (with Gus being the kissing ring leader), but we had to squash that.

A small class has been SO beneficial for Gus. He isn't overwhelmed; he is able to focus; he has learned a ton. And even better, they rarely just have one teacher. There are two volunteer retired teachers who come in to help. One comes in on Mondays and one comes in Tues-Thursday. They are angels! So the kids get lots of one-on-one attention.

I am excited for the kids to be in elementary school together. I am excited for Gus to go to kindergarten. I am excited to not have to pay for preschool anymore. He is excited to for all of this too, especially "seeing Leo on the bus." But oh, how we are both going to miss THIS class. It has just been one of those rare times where everything comes together perfectly. And to think, I almost kept Gus home with me this year!!

Not one of these kids will be at Gus' elementary school next year which is such a bummer. Not only for Gus but for me, cause I adore their moms!

Here, I leave you with a few pics of these cute, sweet, silly "Young Fives."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gus--OT Graduate!

After a little over a year of Occupational Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder, Gus was discharged! He really has come a long way in that time. I was looking at some notes from last school year (in the 4's class) and he was a hot mess--very distracted, playing too rough, running into things...

But after a year of bear crawls, yoga and fine motor skilled crafts, he is so much better. It is hard to explain the shift (and I saw it in Leo too since he did OT for SPD a few years ago), but it's like these kids become more comfortable in their own skin. 

Here is Gus with his Occupational Therapist on the left and the OT intern on the right. 

During the last eight weeks, they worked with him on a program about "the engine." They helped Gus understand how to make his engine "just right." Kids with SPD have trouble with regulation so sometimes his engine is too high (hyper, too silly, squeezing people and things too hard, running into things) or too low (walking really slow, dragging...) There are all sorts of ways to change your engine: doing yoga poses, hugging yourself, fidgeting with something, sucking through a straw, listening to music and even different types of food affect your engine. 

And everybody is different. Eating pretzels might make one person's engine get higher and another person's engine lower. Spinning makes Gus' engine high but might make another kid's low. 

So now we say to Gus, "It seems like your engine is a little high. What can you do to make it just right?" Even Leo and Gus' teacher have started saying it! 

Here is Gus in action on his last day. They usually do an obstacle course (starting with the bouncy), yoga poses and then move into a little room where they do writing and a craft. It sounds pretty basic but it is all very scientific and believe me, it works! 

He still doesn't always know where he is in space and has motor planning issues but I feel like, at this point, I have at least a community college degree in Occupational Therapy and can take it from here. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kitchen Evolution

I love some good before and after photos. I just hate the "during" part. That's why I don't really watch those home improvement shows on HGTV. But if I happen to catch the end of "Fixer Upper" or "Property Brothers" or even "Flip or Flop" (which is hard to watch now knowing that those two aren't going to make it), I consider it a victory. Then I ONLY have to see the before and after shots. Watching them do all that work just makes me feel tired and inadequate.

Well, I have some before and after shots to share with you! We have lived in five houses since we got married fourteen years ago. (I'm including the rented duplex we lived in that had a kitchen from the 70s. It had so much potential! But alas, we didn't own it. Nor did we have any money or time to renovate it.) I have LIKED all of our kitchens. But none of them were my dream kitchen. And even though my actual dream kitchen is farmhouse style, and this is not, I do think it is pretty dreamy.

I always thought this one had a lot of potential too. Here it is when it was listed.



I loved the layout of the kitchen but I hated the cabinets. They looked like they were from Ikea! The counters were functional but they were corian. The stove was black and electric.

So to improve it a little bit (well, a lot!), we had the cabinets painted white and the island painted grey. The cabinet guys put extra pieces on the particle board areas so it looked less Ikea-chic.

Island painted grey (Thanks, Popsy!) 

Cabinets painted white

But still, I yearned for new countertops. This year I finally convinced Frank to do it. What happened next is a classic case of "scope creep" as we used to say in the advertising biz. Feel free to say "ca-ching" to yourself after each line item.

--Went to get new countertops, learned there would be a gap between new counters and backsplash so had to also get a new backsplash.

--Chose white counters then realized a black cooktop wouldn't look great with that but they don't make stainless steel electric cooktops. Had to have gas guys come out and run a line from basement to kitchen (luckily did not have to cut through sheet rock) so we could have a gas cooktop. Purchased new gas cooktop from Sears.

--When deciding what surface to put on the island (went with soapstone which I love), a friend suggested extending the island to accommodate bar stools. We thought, if not now, when? Paid more to extend island and add supports. Oh, and had to purchase these bar stools she spoke of (which I adore!!)

--When you get new countertops, apparently you have to get a new sink. Chose to change divided sink to single sink. Plumber came out to replumb the sink for one drain instead of two. He also connected the gas stove. He talked me into a new garbage disposal and...wait for it...a new WATER HEATER!!!  (You're remembering to say "ca-ching," right? Cause this part really deserves it).

--And by pure coincidence, our dishwasher died during this process. Apparently it had been recalled since 2009. So we got a new one at 40% off for our trouble. But still, ca-ching!

So today the backsplash guys finished grouting and my kitchen is DONE!!! Well, now we think we might need to repaint the green walls to a soft blue or gray but will wait until Popsy comes in town for that. Until then, I will just LOVE my kitchen, which I present to you now. (Or did you already peek? If so, I can't blame you!)

After! Soapstone Island 
After! (Oh, new table added 2016) 
How 'bout those bar stools?! 

New backsplash! 

New Stove! 

New garbage disposal and water heater not pictured. Will send pictures by request ;)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Well, Smitty isn't exactly an OLD dog--a little over a year. But since we are unsure of his whereabouts for the first year of his life, it seems he picked up some not so socially acceptable habits out there on the streets. (Hey, if you didn't have any food, you might eat poop too!)

We have had Smitty for five months now and it has been full of ups and downs. More downs than ups. There was the time I tried to find him a new home; he chewed up a rug or two; then chewed up some shoes, then chewed up a cat toy and had explosive you-know-what in his crate and I had to take him to the vet ER on a Saturday night. There was a lot of chasing after him to get things out of his mouth. And the barking. Oh, the barking.

Every day I asked myself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

It's kind of like skiing. If you have never skied your entire life, then age 40 is not the time to start.

But then, a miracle. I went away to Savannah on a girls' weekend and came back to a brand new dog! Well, he looked the same. And I DO like the way he looks. But he acted like the dog I had always dreamed of!

And it is all thanks to the e-collar. Fine, it's a shock collar. But I felt the shock and it's nothing. But it was enough to completely transform our dog! At least I hope this is for keeps. It's been about three weeks so I figure I am not jinxing it by sharing it with my dozens of readers.

Anyway, life with Smitty is so much better now. He is a pleasure to take on walks. He lays around when he's in the house. He only barks when necessary. And if he does start to chew on something, we just say, "No" and he drops it. HE. DROPS. IT.

Oh, and we only had to use the e-collar for a little bit. He still wears it just in case but we rarely need it. He is totally my favorite kid.

Here are some pictures and a video of Smitty. In the video, Gus is trying to show how well trained he is. Now if we could only get him to stop eating his poop...

After playing at the dog park and after his post-dog-park bath (which I gave him all by myself!)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

And the Mystery Reader is...


Gus was SO excited when the mystery reader was revealed at school today and it was his big brother! He shrieked, "LEO!" and ran over and gave him a hug. (It worked out to have Leo do this because Gus started back to school two days earlier than Leo after winter break.)

I won't get into the long journey it has been to get Leo to a place where he could read a whole book, especially in front of a group of five year olds! But let's just say it was a journey and it was long. Which I guess I already said. And now Leo is an amazing reader!

Was he completely appropriate during his mystery reading time? No.
Did he stick to the script? No.
Did he read awesomely? Yes.
Is awesomely a word? Probably not.
Is Gus wearing a pajama top at school? Yes. Have to pick your battles.
Am I doing that annoying thing where I ask myself questions and then answer them? Yes, but I plan to stop after this one.

Leo was so impressed with himself: "Let's talk about what a good job I did being the mystery reader." That discussion turned into a business idea: Leo plans to have a store where he reads to kids all the time. And he will give them treats too. I said he will have to charge enough to cover the cost of the store. He changed his plan and said he will read to the kids in the woods.

So when he is a grown man luring kids into the woods with books and candy, we can say this is where it all began!