Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pre-Christmas 2013

I often reflect upon how different Christmas is as an adult compared to how it was as a child. Being a kid at Christmastime is amazing - just show up and reap all the blessings! Being an adult at Christmastime is also amazing - but boy is it also exhausting. It's wonderful to be busy, because we're celebrating with many family and friends... but it's also nice knowing there's a whole other week off of work following all these celebrations! :)

Here's a disclaimer it sure seems like I always make: I did not take enough pictures at all of the events I'll be sharing. UGH! It makes me crazy, but I guess my hands are full in the moments, too.

Because school went until December 20, there wasn't much time to prepare for the big day. The bad weather earlier in the month meant that our Eubanks Christmas in Caldwell fell on December 21. While Jeremy stayed at home to get the playroom ready, my brother Chris generously piled in the car with Luke, Kate, and I and headed south on 35 (on a VERY rainy morning - he chivalrously drove) to see the family! And, in a very special treat, my sister Megan and nephew Parker made the trip from Illinois! Kate was so excited to meet everyone. :D

I wish there was some magical way for Caldwell and Dallas to be 15 minutes away or so. It's always so wonderful to see Dad's family, and for them to see Luke and Kate. And good Lord is the food just amazing. Our visit was far too brief, as we were out the door by 3:30 or so to head back home. Nevertheless, seeing the Eubankses, Rowlands, Foltermanns, and Featherstons was good for the soul, as always!

We spent the 23rd at Mary and Steve's celebrating with the Calvert clan. I can explain very succinctly why I don't have pictures from that night: IT. IS. MADNESS. It's wonderful madness, and I adore growing up so close to many aunts, uncles, cousins, and their babies. We ate wonderful Mexican food and did a white elephant gift exchange with 50 people there (not a typo there) and children sprinting all over. New babies Harper, Carson, Kate, Hallie, and Claire joined the fold this year. Calvert Christmas is crowded - but every person in the crowd is a blessing to the other. Ceaselessly thankful.

December 24 was spent at church first, and then at Mom and Dad's, where my Texas siblings and our kiddos did our annual exchange. I'm just going to let the pictures tell the tale. :)

It's not a party for Luke without wafer cookies.

JD added Santa to the countdown calendar. (This has always been one of my favorite things about Christmas. I still get a kick out of putting an ornament on the tree.)
Sweet Hallie
 Luke retreating to the office when things get over-stimulating

When the "big rip" was over, everyone got in their Christmas jammies (the boys' were provided by Honey, of course) before heading back to our houses.

So many reasons to celebrate - and the best was yet to come!

Monday, December 16, 2013

SANTA! I know him!

Once again, we hit North East Mall for their special needs Santa event. This time, Kate joined us for the first time!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Days

We had some snow days this season, and it was fun to chill (no pun intended) around the house! The highlights...

We spent lots of time in our jammies!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Break

I am so fortunate to work in a district where students and teachers have THE WHOLE WEEK of Thanksgiving off. What a blessing! We made the most of it! 

The 20th of November marked our ninth wedding anniversary - can you believe it? Mom was amazing as usual and stayed overnight with the kids so Jeremy and I could have an overnight date. (Let's just keep it real: we met our family deductive and out if pocket max by October 11, so we had more than enough Marriott Rewards accrued thanks to all of our credit card use. Ugh...) We went to a Mavs game - exciting and fun for us, though not a conventional anniversary celebration by any means. We had a great time! 

Seeing this will NEVER get old...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Saturday in Aggieland

Jeremy and I took a trip to College Station last weekend to watch A&M play Mississippi State. It was a whirlwind trip - just down for the game and back home - but we had a great time hanging out together!

We sat in the Zone Club - amazing view! 

At least most of the time. ;)

We got to see what was likely Johnny Football's last home game, and the last game at Kyle Field before its remodel. To commemorate this, the Aggie Band and Corps formed a huge block T on the field: very cool! 

Meanwhile, Luke (who was a little under the weather and kept to himself) and Kate stayed with Honey and Grand and played with their cousins. 

I hear JD was quite taken with Kate. I can't wait to see him with her! 

When we returned, we got to briefly see my sister Megan and her friend Chris. Though I wish we could have visited longer (and that I had taken a picture... Ugh!), it was wonderful to see her even if just for a little while. 

What a great day... And I didn't even mention the glorious kettle corn. ;) 

Gooooo, Luke!

I am thankful for Luke's sweet teacher who emailed me this today: "Luke was drawing on a marker board today and made a face independently! He then added the arms, legs, and hair with a verbal prompt, and we think he made ears. He knew where to put all the parts. No tactile or visual prompts given. We were very proud! He's doing well writing his name too!" 

Then, in a second email: "he got the idea to draw this from another child sitting across from him who was drawing a face. I didn't suggest to him what to draw, he observed what another child was doing and then he did it too! So happy!" 

Imitating a peer, drawing on his own, and following prompts? SCORE!!! I was grinning ear-to-ear and tearing up when I got the email and saw the sweet picture...


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Luke Rocks

Luke's Pre-K year has had its ups and downs. One of his teachers at BWF said we are reaching a point where his progress may slow a bit since his vocabulary has increased so much that his speech processing time must increase, too. Throw in the poor kid having cavities filled under anesthesia, an EEG, and a ton of different appointments, and well, you can't blame the guy for not making huge strides. 

That said, we have learned three years into this autism odyssey that small strides ARE huge strides. We are always happy with and proud of Luke for his sweet spirit and hard work! 

Why Luke Rocks #1: he has gotten a sticker for doing a good job and having good behavior EVERY SINGLE DAY he's been at school this year. He is so awesome! 

Why Luke Rocks #2: he loves counting. Right now he can count to 100. Woo hoo! 

Why Luke Rocks #3: he does great work, like this graph his teacher sent me a picture of: 

Why Luke Rocks #4: he is gaining confidence with his fine motor skills, and his writing and drawing are getting better every day! When Luke doesn't feel confident about something, he seeks support. For a while he would only write if you were holding his hand (never mind that you aren't doing anything; he knows exactly how to write the letters, numbers, etc.). We got this message a couple of weeks ago: 

It's so light that it's hard to see, but he wrote his name by himself! Here's some other work he's done at home (all prompted): 

LUKE ROCKS!!!! We couldn't love him more! :D

Seven Months Old

Big goings on in the life of our seven month old, Katherine Anne: 

-You can sit up all by yourself! Your strength amazes me!
-You have two teeth! Your bottom teeth came in just before you turned seven months old. (Left on October 25; right onOctober  28.)
-Your left eye is doing great after your second surgery! You're really tracking well. 
-You are a flirt! You just smile and smile at everyone. 
-You are a GINORMOUS mommy's girl. You want me all the time. It is mostly very sweet, though your big brother probably doesn't think so. 
-You had your first contact lens emergency at day care last Thursday. I got a call that they found your contact on the floor. I came by during lunch to clean it off and put it back in, which was slightly nerve-wracking with an audience! It's pretty miraculous that it's the first time your contact has come out in five months...! 
-You mostly have the sweetest disposition ever... Except when you don't. Consider this group portrait attempt by your teachers. Picture 1.... 

Picture 2... Notice that someone (*cough cough* you) gets grumpy... 

....and takes your buddies right into the abyss of despair with you (picture 3):

It's a good thing that you are so sweet the rest of the time, because I bet you wear your teachers out! 
(Except for when you eat anyway. One of them told me they fight over who gets to feed you because you eat everything and quickly. Kate, you love your food!) 

Here are your monthly pics: 

I'm going to have to start working more quickly; you're starting to enjoy tugging on the onesie stickers. 

Kate, you are a pure joy. We adore you! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What day is it? GAME DAY!

If it weren't for opponents from Alabama, A&M would be undefeated! Oh well. At least I've seen them win, I've seen them lose, but I've never seen them quit.

Kate the Brave

We took Kate to see her ophthalmologist in mid-August because we thought her eye was wandering more than it should be. Dr. Wang confirmed this, and we came back to see her October 1. At that appointment, she set up Kate's second eye surgery to correct the lazy muscles for the 11th, just ten days later (and in the same week as two big procedures for Luke. Yikes!). We geared up for what wound up being one of the most tiring weeks of our lives...!

Tough Guy Luke

I am in awe of my kids. There's really no other way to put it. Even at just 5 years and 6 months old, Luke and Kate show more resilience and strength of people many times their ages. I'm so proud to be their mommy! 

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013 is in the books! Thanks to my friend Izzy, I got into the spirit a little early at GHS Goblin Day. How creative is this costume? I'm very thankful for my sweet snow buddy. She's a new and dear friend!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Six Months Old

Everyone but Hannah and I has been born on the third of a month. Observe: 

Jeremy: October 3
Lisa: March 5
Hannah: November 2
Luke: September 3
Kate: April 3

Kate and her daddy will always have a half birthday when the other celebrates a whole one. How cute is that? 

It is so hard to believe, but Kate is 6 months old (and her daddy is 39 years old... It's going to get REAL in another 12 months)! 

Here is the sweet half-year old: 

Here's a sweet candid shot with her big brother: 

One of the biggest developments this month is that you've started real foods! So far you haven't met a food you haven't liked. You've sampled rice cereal, carrots, squash, green beans, peas, and sweet potatoes. You were unsure about peas but came around in the end. You'll eat all of these, but your first love is definitely your bottle. 

Sometimes, I just don't serve you quickly enough. 

At your six month checkup, you weighed 17 lbs and 14 oz and were 27 inches long. You are our big, healthy, happy girl! We love you so! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Where a Kid Can Be a Kid!

Apparently, Luke is five years old...! I always knew that time was flying by, but I am much more aware of how quickly the years pass since Kate has arrived. It really does feel like I blinked and Luke went from being baby Kate's size to being his tall, gangly, and handsome Pre-K self. 

To celebrate, we invited our cousins and friends to join us at Chuck E. Cheese's. Luke was GIDDY as soon as he saw the sign from the highway as we drove in. Over and over again: "Chuck E. Cheese's. Chuck E. Cheese's." =D So darling! We love to make his day any time we can! 

Many of Luke's guests were the new babies that have joined the extended Calvert clan. We missed baby Claire, but we enjoyed seeing cousin Hallie (2 months old)

Miracle baby cousins Carson and Harper (just over 7 months old)... 

And even that pesky baby sister, Kate (5 months old).

I think/hope everyone had a blast! We were so thankful for all of our friends and family who made the trip, including quite a few of my friends I've found online who have children on the autism spectrum. Many traveled a long way to attend, and their attendance meant more to Jeremy and me than we can ever express! Look at the turnout! 

Cousin JD had a great time.

Here's our sweet birthday prince. :)

He was VERY excited to see Chuck E. Cheese. 

Though his facial expression doesn't suggest it, the car was Luke's FAVORITE.
This horse wasn't so bad either though...
You can tell that sweet Avery Brooke has big brothers - she drove that car like a boss!
Luke managed to fit in some Deal or No Deal. (As some of you may recall, he is QUITE a fan of the game shows. Let's just say we have DoND episodes on DVR and we have the Wii game.)

Lucas James, you're the best deal we ever got! You are so loved and treasured, sweet monkey. Happy, happy birthday!