Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy Anniversary

Can you believe we've been married 11 years?

11 years since I stared into these green eyes and pledged my forever "I love you's". 

You still leave me speechless.

Sometimes I watch you deep in thought and wonder..

I wish there was someway I could tell how you really feel about our lives together..

I guess I'll just have to assume I still make you feel like flying.

or falling..


Seriously though.. 

I really love our lives together. 

 As these boys get older I'm so thankful they have a dad like you to look up to.

A dad who takes them hunting.

And fishing.

And fishing.

And fishing.

And fishing..


 And water sliding.



and boating.

I'm so glad I get to wake up to a quiet house and find notes like this. 

Our daughter is so lucky to have you. (Even if she looks a little unsure here..)

We all are. 
(Lucky to have you. Not unsure. Mostly..)

You coach us.

You teach us the value of hard work.

You love life with us.

Most importantly you love us well.

And we love you back.

More than you know.

 Even if you do tip our swing set over flat on its face 
(And my garden shed too, but who's keeping track, really?)
Oh- and thank you for remembering to make me sweet homemade Valentine's so I can cross out your name and regift them back to you since I'm not the greatest gift giver..)

Here's to a lifetime of memories that's only just begun!

 Happy Anniversary!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Potties and Big Girl Beds and Sleeping all night.. OH MY!

In addition to all the big changes and successes at school, Ella has been doing some pretty awesome things here at home too. A few months ago (it actually might have been before Christmas time.. I'm not really sure) Hudson started climbing out of his crib. It wasn't a big deal, but when Daddy got home and I told him what happened he promptly said to him "You need a big boy bed! Let's go get it out of the attic." And proceeded to spend the next hour disassembling his crib, moving it to our room for Levi, and getting out the toddler bed while I simply stared with my mouth gaping open. I was not prepared for that. Well, when Ella saw all the excitement over Hudson's new bed, she decided she wanted one too. Since we had an extra at Grandma & Papa's house, Daddy and Ella drove and got her bed (which made it all the more exciting for her) and put hers up too. (Me, standing with mouth still gaping open) And then of course that same Daddy left for the rest of the evening, leaving me to put 2 toddlers (and 3 other children) to sleep in brand new beds for the very first time. Thanks.

We had tried Ella in a big girl bed a few years ago, but she just wasn't ready. She wouldn't stay in it, wouldn't nap as long and only if I laid next to her until she fell asleep. This time she was ready though. She did pop out a few times, but I put her back in and she eventually stayed put. Now she pretty much always stays in her bed after we lay her down and goes right to sleep (maybe after a few rounds of singing "Twinkle Twinkle" so sweetly to herself).

That being said, Ella has pretty much always come to our bed sometime in the middle of the night. We've tried putting her back to her bed, but she immediately pops out and comes back to ours. This has gone on for hours on end before we finally gave up. We've tried laying by her in her room to get her back to sleep, but usually wakes up again anyways. We've found out she can outwit, outlast, and outplay us any day of the week. It's generally just easier to let her come sleep in our bed, especially if its 3-4am. BUT the past 2-3 weeks she's decided to sleep in her own bed every single night, ALL night long. (I hope I'm not cursing it by writing about it..) Whether it was because we decided to sleep train Levi that week and let him cry for a few minutes a couple nights and she just decided she didn't want to come in and have anything to do with that, or what.. I don't know. And I'm still fully aware that it could change at a moment's notice, but for now all five children have actually slept through the entire night multiple times during the last few weeks for the first time in... ever.

And perhaps one of the very most exciting things to happen is ELLA IS POTTY TRAINED!! Yes, I just said that. For the most part at least.. During the school year Ella would follow the same potty schedule as the rest of her class. She would go in the potty at the same time with her aide. Sometimes they would just go in and just look at the potty and turn back around, sometimes she would sit for a few seconds, and then wash their hands and go back out. We really let her set the pace. But for the last 2-3 weeks of school there started to be a few times she actually went potty, then it built up to a few times a day! About the 2nd week into summer break I decided to see what would happen if I just put her in big girl pants, and she did AMAZING! She didn't have an accident the entire first day. What did the trick you ask? M&M's. That's it. Every time she goes potty she gets 2 M&M's and gets to give 2 to her brothers and they all cheer and give her high fives and thumbs up and tell her good job. We're already almost through a 3 lb bag. I'm hoping to phase it out over the next few weeks, but I'm not sure she'll let me or not..

It's been about 3 weeks now that's Ella's been in big girl pants I think and she does have accidents occasionally, but for the most part she is doing so so good. Needless to say I'm a little nervous about flying across the country with her, but she has been wearing big girl pants everywhere for a few weeks now.. to the store, church, camping, and the girl even peed off the side of the boat for Heaven's sake, so I'm hoping we're good! We are so so proud of her!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Preschool Year

Last year at this time I was worried sick about Ella starting preschool. Who would her aide be? Would she be nice? Be able to understand Ella's speech and sign language? How would Ella handle being away from me so long? Would she be exhausted? Would she nap? Would she fit in? Have friends? Learn anything? I was excited for her to start, but terrified of letting her go.

I had no idea how amazing the year would be for all of us. Ella started off attending school just 2 mornings a week and by the end of the year she had built her way up to 4 full days of school a week. She can recognize and say most all her letters (and points them out EVERYWHERE we go). She knows most of her colors, some numbers, and can write her name. (!!!) Her speech has accelerated so much, and she has become SO social. Her aide was amazing and I feel so confident that she is spending her days surrounded by people who truly care for her and want the best for her.

She had such a wonderful preschool experience and we are so excited that next year she will be moving on to... Kindergarten!! There are a lot of factors that went into our decision to move her on instead of spending another year in preschool and a lot of pros and cons both ways, so we're praying this is the best decision for her.

Ella's teacher sent me this video shortly after school got out and I wanted to share it with you all. Sorry for the terrible quality--I couldn't get it to upload directly from the disc, so I had to record it with my video camera from it playing on the tv. But you get the idea! She has grown so much and we are so proud of her.