A spring break trip to Texas

March turned out to be a busy month with us spending a week in Texas visiting Mimi & Popaw.  Before we left, however, we managed to get in school and find ways to entertain ourselves when it was too cold to play outside.  This is a “game” they came up with on their own.  (Don’t worry…. Momma hid the “ammo”.)

Keeping it "gangster"

Keeping it “gangster”

We have discovered LOTS of advantages of homeschooling, one of which is that we can do school literally anywhere… like Starbucks!  By March we were starting to find our “groove” with our schoolwork, and it was nice to see Liam’s smile return.  During the first half of first grade, he lost that “spark”.  Learning became about frustration, not about fun.  He lost confidence in himself.

For spring break, we traveled to Texas to see Mimi and Popaw for a much-needed break from housework and homework!

Liam has started to show a lot of interest in who his great-grandparents were and the history of our family.  Time to pull out the old scrapbooks!  Popaw even pulled out pictures and more from his days as a professional race car driver.  (Why, yes!  I came by my driving abilities naturally!  Haha!)

Not too shabby, huh?

Not too shabby, huh?

 

I love visiting some of the local stores in Eastland and Comanche when I get a chance.  As they say, “Junk makes her soul happy“.

Priceless antique?

Priceless antique?

Our trip to Texas gave each of us some much-needed down time to unwind and just do nothing.  For Rocky and Gracie, it meant lots of snuggles and belly rubs.  Turns out they love it when the boys visit!

Someone's tired!

Someone’s tired!

Mimi took us for a little retail therapy, and as usual, she made sure the boys had some new clothes and shoes for spring.  When it was time to pack up the car and head home to Texas, there was no room to spare in the car.  It reminded me of the days when I would return to Texas Tech after a visit home.

With Liam no longer in public school, my days of having some time to clean and organize the house without a helper (distraction) are gone.  It’s not often that I get a chance to reorganize a cabinet, but when I do, it makes me happy to pull out my trusty label-maker and have at least one small little part of my life organized and alphabetized while the rest of it is messy and topsy-turvy.

They found the hidden pacifiers I forgot about.

They found the hidden pacifiers I forgot about.

Cullen has his own system when digging through drawers and cabinets: to find something he’s not supposed to have and make a mess with it.  Such as Desitin!!!  Unfortunately, I did not get a pic of what he looked like when we discovered him covered in Desitin but let’s just say it was VERY MESSY.  He’s watched his brother style his hair with hair gel, so Cullen decided to do it too when no one was looking.  Only he grabbed the Desitin instead of the hair gel.  I didn’t think we would ever get it all out of his hair, and we still have a spot on the wall in the bathroom where it took off some of the paint.  But, boy…. was he sure proud of himself!

We love getting to visit one of the special families from our church.  One of the brothers has a cow that he has leash-trained, and the cow will even let kids ride on him.

Giddy up??

Giddy up??

I got to put on my “artist hat” and make some new signage for our church.  A team of us ladies accessorized the Welcome Center and coffee bar.  We also added some new directional signage to help visitors find their way around.  For me, it was just nice to finally put some of my Pinterest discoveries to good use.  😉

Don’t let Grumpy’s expression fool you.  The Easter Bunny visited our house, and both of the boys loved their Easter baskets full of goodies.  No pictures of an outdoor egg hunt though.  It was a cold, rainy Easter morning in Green Country.  Thankfully, the Easter Bunny was able to hide eggs throughout the house.

 

This is what a happy boy with new sneakers looks like:

Gingham & Grace Signature

Time marches on

Wow.  How did the first half of 2016 fly by so quickly?  Between homeschooling, housekeeping and “momming”, I felt like I could hardly catch my breath.  I kept meaning to update the blog with new pictures but it just didn’t happen.  Learning to re-prioritize my priorities has probably been the biggest lesson I’ve learned now that I’m in my forties.  It’s funny how life’s experiences change you without you really realizing it.  I used to be a sympathetic puker.  If anyone around me made the slightest gagging sound, I would throw up.  Being a mom toughens you up, whether you like it or not.  I’ve been puked on twice in the past few months and it doesn’t phase me now (thankfully).  And those days of making a plan and sticking to it come hell or high water?  Well, those days are gone too.  I first had to learn about being more flexible when I left my job to be a full-time mom.  My day was no longer predictable.  By the time I got to drink my coffee, I was lucky if it was still hot.  Now that I’m homeschooling, plans are great but I’ve learned to accept that some days we might only accomplish one or two things on my “plan” and if it’s 5:00 PM and I’m still in PJ’s with no make-up on, well…. that’s okay too.  Unless I have to go to Walmart.  I haven’t reached that point in my life where I can comfortably wear my PJ’s to Walmart, and let’s just say if I ever do, someone please smack some sense into me.

funnymeme1

Homeschooling got off to a good start.  For a few days.  And then we quickly spiraled into the depths of purgatory where it’s a toss up over who cried the most each day – Liam or me.  It was awful.  It was painful.  It was eye-opening.  We know Liam has Sensory Processing Disorder; he was diagnosed with that back in 2014 following a year of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.  In the first few weeks of homeschooling it became clear to me that there was more going on.  Some kids have layers like an onion.  You peel back the first layer, after identifying it as SPD only to realize there’s another layer there – for us, it was legal blindness in one eye that is “lazy”.  Years later, we’ve corrected the lazy eye to within ten degrees and he’s wearing bifocal contacts seeing much better.  But there was another layer underneath that we had not identified.  Fast-forward eight months, and here we are in September.  Liam started second grade homeschool last month, and it’s so much better for both of us.  We’ve added in counseling and professional tutoring.  We’ve also received the formal diagnosis of ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  I don’t believe in letting a label like SPD/ADHD/ODD define a kid, but for our family we had to know what we are dealing with so that we could seek out the best professionals, resources and techniques to get us through the struggles so that we can have more good days than bad.

Before filling you in on what we’re up to this fall, I’ll catch you up on things that happened throughout the first part of 2016!  (This will take several posts – we were super, duper busy!)

 

Getting in some school work!

Getting in some school work!

 

Who doesn't need a Cookie Monster donut every now and then??

Who doesn’t need a Cookie Monster donut every now and then??

At the Tulsa Children's Museum Discovery Lab, the kids get to enjoy a rotating interactive exhibit.

At the Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab, the kids get to enjoy a rotating interactive exhibit.

Balls + Dinosaurs = Happy Toddlers

The highlight of our visits to the Discovery Lab is the giant slide made out of plastic.  It's HUGE and so much fun!!

The giant plastic slide is AWESOME!!

Liam began taekwondo in February.  Not only is it a lot of fun, but it's good for his muscles and for learning self-control and discipline.  He has an awesome coach.

Guess who started taekwondo in February!

Candy!  Cullen had a happy Valentine's Day.

Candy! Cullen had a happy Valentine’s Day.

Liam and I enjoy celebrating little milestones in his homeschooling.

Celebrating a homeschool achievement.  🙂

The boys love sitting in their camo recliners and watching a special movie.  They really enjoy the original Lone Ranger.

A little down time with the original Lone Ranger.

Liam turned seven in February and was excited to get the Bumblebee Transformer he had been wanting for a long time.

A special Bumblebee Transformer for Liam’s 7th birthday!

We have a special 4-legged friend at our nearby Ace Hardware store.  One of Liam's special birthday treats was to stop by and play with Aspen.

Aspen, our special friend at the nearby Ace Hardware 🙂

A special dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant was the perfect end to his birthday.

A special dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant was the perfect end to his birthday.

 

Stay tuned!!!

 

Gingham & Grace Signature

When life throws you curve balls

Curveballs.  Lemons.  Jeff and I have had a “few” of those since our marriage in 2004.  But that’s life, isn’t it?

During my pregnancy with Cullen in late 2012, Jeff learned that the job he had at Lockheed Martin was in danger of being cut.  It wasn’t imminent, but it was coming so he began putting out feelers around DFW for other job opportunities.  He had such a unique position at Lockheed that we soon discovered would be hard to find elsewhere – at least not in North Texas which would allow us to continue living in Arlington.  In early-2014 a job opportunity out of Tulsa came available.  Everything seemed to click seamlessly, and the wheels were put in motion for our family to leave our Arlington home behind for a new beginning in Oklahoma.  I left behind my job as Director of Interior Design for a healthcare architecture firm, not to mention our family and friends back in Texas.  The first few months were spent at his parents’ while we waited for the house to sell, and we began exploring new cities and towns around the area of Oklahoma called Green Country.  Again, it was like God directing us to our little farmhouse in Skiatook – everything moved along relatively smoothly and here we are well over a year later still building our life in our new home among new friends, our new church and this community.

Suddenly, I was a full-time wife and mom.  In Oklahoma.  What?!?!  While Jeff and I had began having thoughts of me becoming a full-time mom, it seemed to happen pretty quickly.  So, I rolled with it putting my trust and faith in God, and I honestly have never looked back.  My kids need me.  When they’re sick, they need me.  When Liam was in kindergarten, he needed me to drop him off each morning telling him to have a great day, and when he got out of school, he needed me to pick him up and ask all about school.  Cullen has really blossomed into a funny, loving, precocious toddler who is soon to be three.

Most importantly (at least in my mind) are Liam’s needs regarding his Sensory Processing Disorder and what was legal blindness at one point.  He needed a parent who could take him to and from physical therapy, occupational therapy and vision therapy.  And let me tell you, it’s felt like a full-time job being chauffeur!

I have a confession to make though.  Sometimes I wonder how much better Liam could be doing now if I hadn’t been working all of those hours back in Arlington.  Would I have discovered his issues sooner, making it easier for him to correct the vision problems and address the PT/OT issues?  He’s a great kid – please, don’t get me wrong – but we have struggles, and I can’t help but look at Cullen and how he freely hugs me and shows affection, and I wonder if Liam could have been that way too if I had been devoting my time and attention to him rather than my job.  I know what they say about Mommy Guilt Trips, and I try not to let these doubts and thoughts creep up very often.  Still though…. if Liam had spent most of his time with me rather than at a day care, where would he be today socially, physically, mentally and emotionally?

I realize it’s been a while since y’all in blog-land have seen the boys. They’re shaving nowaways.

I’ve had curve balls before in life, but they take on a whole new meaning when your children are involved.  I am forever grateful for the job opportunity Jeff was given that has allowed my focus to become my children, our family and home.   Just when I felt like I was getting the hang of being a “SAHM”, another curve ball was thrown our way.

Liam was blessed to have one of the most incredible kindergarten teachers imaginable.  She was perfect for him and his unique strengths and weaknesses.  She “got” him, and over the course of the school year she nurtured him and worked with him, growing him into a confident kiddo who loved going to school and loved learning.  Our experience in first grade has been very different, and Jeff and I felt helpless watching Liam struggle.  It was like watching him swim against the current.  Every once in a while he would make some headway only to hit a stronger current and get carried backwards even further.  He was so frustrated and so exhausted and so beaten down.  Not only was he losing ground in school, he was losing ground in vision therapy.  We were upset.  He was upset.  In general, our house was very stressed out and emotional much of the time.

Liam reached a milestone at vision therapy in January and earned a special reward.

Liam reached a milestone at vision therapy and earned a special reward.

And then God showed me what I believe is a little glimpse into His plan.

In Arlington, I was working like crazy.  When I was at work, I felt guilty for not being there for my family.  When I was with my family, I felt guilty that I might be perceived as not pulling my weight at work or being devoted enough to the company.  And then came this new job of Jeff’s that gave us a fresh start with me becoming a full-time mom and wife.  Why Skiatook, God?  Why here?  God led us to a great little house with some very sweet neighbors, one of which invited us to her church.  So we went, and we found a wonderful family of believers who welcomed us with open arms and helped provide a family, a base here in Skiatook where we have no relatives and knew no one.  This sweet little church is filled with amazing people including some who homeschool.  We weren’t new to homeschooling but we were pretty ignorant about it.  Since moving here I watched and observed these kids in our church who are homeschooled and saw how intelligent, capable and confident they are.  And then I looked at our son who was struggling every single day in first grade.  He wasn’t learning.  He was becoming more and more discouraged and stressed out.  He was losing confidence in himself because he felt like a failure.  Going forward on the same path was no longer an option, and over the Christmas holiday we withdrew him from public school.  We were going to be homeschoolers!

Our homeschooling started this month, and it’s going pretty well.  We have our ups and downs.  I’ve got so much to learn, but I’m committed to making this work.  The temperament of our house has changed a lot.  Things aren’t nearly as stressful, and we’re starting to see Liam relax and become confident in himself again.  We’re making progress with vision therapy and have one last hurdle to get through (depth perception), but our homeschool schedule allows us to get our therapy done early in the day while he is physically and mentally alert.  We, as a family, are being more intentional about finding educational opportunities in everything while making sure we have plenty of fun while we learn.

The boys loved our field trip to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks earlier this month.

The boys loved our field trip to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks earlier this month.

Last week we studied Mexico, so Liam baked a cake with red and green sprinkles in honor of the Mexican flag.  (Thankfully, he didn't question the Christmas tree-shaped sprinkles!)

Last week we studied Mexico, so Liam baked a cake with red and green sprinkles in honor of the Mexican flag. (Thankfully, he didn’t question the Christmas tree-shaped sprinkles!)

I hope to update our blog as I’m able.  I once had dreams of having an awesome DIY/design-inspired blog like some of the bloggers I admire, but I’ve come to realize that’s not what God created me for.  At least not during this season of my life.

Yesterday marked our first pinewood derby.  Liam had a blast making this OSU-themed truck with his daddy.

Yesterday marked our first pinewood derby. Liam had a blast making this OSU-themed truck with his daddy.

Instead of creating Pinterest-worthy dishes or DIY projects, I’m teaching phonics and running kids to gymnastics.  Instead of attending blogger conferences, I’m happy to socialize in my circle from church and from my MOPS group.  I’d love to make a quilt, create a sourdough starter and repaint my bedroom furniture.  Someday.  Today, I’m in the throes of being full-time mom and teacher.  I’m making lesson plans and looking up activities for Ground Hog day.  I’m saving pinewood derby designs to a new Pinterest board.  I’m looking at never-ending piles of dirty laundry and a dishwasher that seems to always need unloading.  Those fancy layer cakes covered in fondant icing I pinned last week?  Yeah… I’m dreaming!  Today I’m just excited to try out the new elephant-shaped sandwich cutters on Cullen’s PB&J sandwiches for preschool.  I’ve had to reevaluate my priorities in life, and I’m learning a hard lesson: I can’t control everything and sometimes I have to “go with the flow”.  Oh, and coffee helps.  Lots and lots of coffee.

(Click picture for source.)