Saturday, November 23, 2013

Almost a month late, but here is Halloween with the Shark Tank!

The Fall season has become one of my favorites with the kids.  They absolutely love the pumpkin patches (and we have quite a few good ones in this area) and picking out the Halloween costume is always a fun time!

We started the season by going to our local favorite farm, Rombach's.  I waited until a late afternoon on a Sunday and it was a success.  The place had very few lines and parking was for once not insane!  We brought along one of my cousin's kiddos (Matthew's BFF) and they had a blast.  After seeing the animals, funnel cakes, fresh squeezed lemonade, picking out their pumpkin, playing tag in the "pick you own pumpkin field," and playing on the playground it was dark and time to go.  I always love bringing along a friend for the kids to make the pumpkin patch even more fun for them!  We also visited Pumpkins Galore with one of my in home daycare kiddos and we just may have found our new place for Fall.  Not only were they cheaper, but they still had a ton to do and was not too far from the house!

Matthew with his cousin!  They loved the firetruck this year!

Natalie was only content if she was pulling the wagon into the field towards the end of our time there.  Such an independent child!

This year it took Matthew three tips to Walmart to finally decide what he wanted to be for Halloween.  He went back and forth between a Transformer, to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, to Captain America, and to a pirate.  He finally decided on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and it worked out well since his neighbor also chose to be one!  

We lucked out with Natalie this year.  She loves dressing up and all things sparkly (she is very into the princess theme these days), so when Mr. Sharktank's mom brought back an outfit from Turkey when they visited we knew she would love to wear it.  Covered in bells, gold, and bright pink, Natalie loved calling herself a "Tur Tur princess" on Halloween (we could not think of a name for her costume, so we told he should was going to be a Turkish Princess).  Almost everyone's door we arrived at that night called her a gypsy or a genie, but we didn't care because she looked cute and loved the costume!  

It was a bit rainy that night, but the kids enjoyed the time with the neighbors and Natalie's godmother.  Nothing like a great kid friendly holiday to spend time with friends and neighbors!

Going to end this post with our most recent family photo.  I have a friend from college who regularly takes our pictures and once again we had a great session. My kids love her, and so do we.  Happy holidays!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Busy family!

Yes, every family is busy!  How can you not be busy when you have a family?  I somehow let this blog slip my mind and the documenting of our lives stopped for a couple months.  I must make a mental note to do a better job!

The past couple months have been emotional, exciting, and full of energy.

As a couple, Mr. Sharktank and I have never had to deal with a death in the family until recently.  Our beloved Grandma Irene passed away August 22, and although it was expected, it was not any easier.  Mr. Sharktank's grandma was a fabulous cook, a great mom, loved her grandkids, and could always make a joke without even trying. I had the pleasure of knowing her for almost nine years and would not trade a moment of it.  The number of people who showed up at her funeral in such a small town showed what kind of woman she was!  Although she is gone and in a better place, we will make sure our kids never forget her name, what kind of person she was, and the legacy she has. "Amen!" (which is what she always said at church at the perfect moments lol).

We love you, Grandma!  Hope you are teaching everyone how to cook Cajun style in heaven!

We tried soccer with Matthew this Fall.  Things started off so great! He really loves to kick around the ball and can even bounce it on his head!  His first game he was thrown into the goalie position for the first time ever (without any practice) and only let one goal in!  A couple of weeks later he even scored a goal!  

After his first game!

He loves to play soccer on his own time, but practices and games put him into such an anxiety attack that he refused to practice or play in the games after a couple of sessions.  After over a month, we decided to pull him from the team.  He still loves the sport, but playing as a team is not for him right now.

Natalie is still our spitfire of the Sharktank clan.  I hate to say it, but her new favorite thing is to take her clothes and diaper off and run around naked.  God help me!  She is also very brave and it seems like nothing scares her.  Natalie has no problem opening any door and running outside.  I am about to lose my mind as a parent and daycare provider because of this, but we love her :)

In Decatur visiting K and K!  The kids had so much fun that weekend!

Mr. Sharktank and I took our official last vacation without the kids at the end of September.  Leave it to our family to have the Mr. puking the evening before hours before our flight to the Dominican Republic left.  I begged neighbors for Zofran (to help him stop throwing up), made multiple trips to the local Walmart for Sprite, anti nausea meds, Pepto Bismol, and anything else I could think of!  I ended up having to pack for him while he layed in bed trying to focus on what was needed for a trip for a week.  

The morning of he woke and pushed on, so that we could enjoy our trip with our great friends who just got married.  We boarded the plan with the new Peggs family and I prayed he would recover fast!  Not our luck... he got sick again and we ended up at a Dominican "farmacia" (pharmacy) hoping for help!  We got it and thank goodness!

We spent the rest of the week taking a catamaran cruise to Saona Island for a day of fun, drinking, eating, and relaxing.  SLEEP was the most important part of the trip!  I do not think either couple stayed up past eleven eastern time.  We definitely left well rested and loved our time with the newlyweds.  What a great couple to go on a trip with.  We are close enough to spend lots of time with them, but had no problem when we all needed time alone!  Here are some pics from the "honeymoon" lol.

Matthew is in the middle of diagnostic testing at our school district's early childhood center these next two weeks.  We are hoping (and not hoping at the same time) that he qualifies for some services within their program.  If he qualifies for educational services he would get free bus transportation and education until kindergarten.  We are seeing what our tax dollars are paying for and we can honestly say that we are very impressed with the staff and educators that we have met thus far!  Matthew seems to enjoy the program he is trying, but we will find out later in November whether or not he is a candidate for services.  I just hope all this will help us and point us in the right direction for him and his future!  He is such a loving and smart child (I know that every parent says that, but he scares me with what he picks up on ha) and we only hope that he succeeds in his school years.

We have a lot of great things coming up... HOLIDAYS, so I am sure the blog posts will be more frequent!  Celebrating with kids is almost as exciting as being a kid yourself!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Big news in this house... no we are not pregnant!

Yesterday was a day we were waiting for!  On June 1 of this year (his birthday) Mr. Sharktank took the level three exam of the CFA.  He has been trying to reach his goal of becoming a CFA charter holder for seven years now.  I know in my heart that he could have passed the test one, two, three in a row if we did not get married, did not get pregnant, then decide to move to St. Louis, then decide to move again, and then get pregnant again.  All those life changes and moves do not provide a good environment with ample amounts of study time for someone taking these tests.

Every Winter and Spring, since Mr. Sharktank and I lived in Chicago, he would spend countless hours studying at work (or the library on the weekends).  During the Spring months it was rare if he would come home from work before 7:30 (and keep in mind he leaves for work at 5:45 am).  He also spent every Saturday at work and half of his Sundays at the library.  He had to pass on important weddings, events, birthday parties, family get togethers, and pretty much anything that did not focus on work or this test.

So, yesterday morning we both were a nervous wreck waiting for the results.  If anyone does not know about the CFA just google "CFA pass rates."  So many people give up, but not the man I married... he kept going.  No matter how frustrated or challenged he was, he knew he had to keep trying for his job, for us, and because he knew he wanted this charter!  Eight o'clock approached (when results are emailed to all test takers) and I turned my phone ringer on.

At 8:02 I got the call.  Not only did I interrupt a mom of a new toddler being dropped off at my house for the first time ever (in home daycare), but I almost started crying in front of her due to my overwhelming nerves.  I answered the phone knowing it was Mr. Sharktank and cannot remember what I said.  All I heard was, "I am done, I am so done," followed by a ton of yelling.  Not only did my heart sink, but my eyes filled with tears.  No!!!  Not another year of this exam!  My husband needs to enjoy life and not be glued to his books is what I kept saying to myself!

Well, then Mr. Sharktank was more clear with his words, "I passed!  I did it!"  Wait, what?  Yes, he passed!  In a matter of weeks (after all the formalities within the society are done) he will be a CFA charter holder!  All these years of struggle, effort, and faith paid off.  This will open so many doors for him and we could not be more proud of him!

We celebrated by taking the kids to our favorite family friendly restaurant for some terrible Mexican food and drinks.  For those of you in the area... El Maguey.  The waiters know us, know our drink orders before we speak, and recognize our kids, so of course it would be our dining spot of choice lol.

Things are looking up for us!  With so much heartache and sad things going on in the world and in our families' worlds right now this was news we needed to hear!  Congrats to Mr. Sharktank!  You have a ton of people very happy for you! We love you so much!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How is it already July?

We have been BUSY! Our calendar is so full these days that we passed through the month of June in the blink of an eye!  We attended two of the four weddings we have this summer and enjoyed every minute of them!  There is something so wonderful about watching two people who are meant to be together say "I do" in front of all of their loved ones!  Both weddings were beautiful and the brides looked gorgeous!  I also successfully gave my first (and probably only) maid of honor speech without bawling like a baby or passing out.  Congrats to both couples and we cannot wait to see what is in store for them... bring on the babies!

Congrats, Mr. and Mrs B!  Loved being a part of your special day!

Congrats, K and K!  Your wedding was beautiful!

Now that Natalie is bigger, we can go to the pool more often. As of today she finally put her entire body in the water!  It took her two years, but I think she has finally discovered that the pool is more fun if you get in the water (instead of sitting on the edge with your toes in the water).  Matthew just loves going and would go every day if we had the time!  Most of the kiddos that I watch are older these days, so I am able to do water days at the pool when my numbers are low!  I really enjoy loading up the wagon and letting the children have fun with each other in a new environment.  Watching them play reminds you of how long Summer used to last when you were little and how much you looked forward to it.

Right now life is good.  Mr. Sharktank is not studying as much, and he has more time to spend with us.  The summer may be flying by, but I am pretty sure we are enjoying it as much as we can.  We are looking forward to the weekend, as it is the Fourth of July and we will be spending with our neighbors ("The A Team" and "The Bushwacks").  Our kids will surely have a good time together and we cannot beat temperatures in the low 80's for Missouri weather this time of year!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Natalie is 2!

Our precious baby, Natalie, turned two on the 25th!  These past two years have flown by!  I feel like I was just in the hospital recovering from my c-section and getting to know our little girl, but here she is growing up right before our eyes!

Our first family picture two hours after she was born.  She was born at 9:41 am on May 25, 2011 and weighed 8 lbs. 8 oz.

Adding Natalie to our family has been exciting, exhausting, and so very enjoyable!  She has been feisty from day one and has always kept us on our toes (especially since she did not consistently sleep through the night until 15 months, no matter what we tried).  She is very stubborn and always wants her way, yet can manage to be so lovable and turn on her smile when she knows we need it.

We spent her birthday weekend attending a family baptism, which is always fun in our family, since the kiddos can all play together.  The next night I took the kids to meet some new children their age and to have some fun outside and by staying up late.  Overall, the weekend did not consist of any extravagant parties, but I know both kids had fun together and enjoyed the holiday weekend, which is all the matters.

Natalie is becoming a little lady these days (unless she is being her tomboy self ha).  She loves to take care of her baby dolls by feeding them, changing their diapers, walking them in her strollers, and putting them to bed.  Natalie also loves to help me with whatever I am doing.  She helps me clean, unload the dishwasher, fold unfold the laundry, and take care of the babies I watch on a daily basis.  Our little girl is quite the animal watcher.  She will sit and stare out our windows looking for the "Bushwack's" dog, Winston, squirrels, birds, and bunnies.  If Natalie is ever upset we know that taking her to look for animals will make her happy no matter what.

I cannot believe our baby of the family is already two.  She has changed our lives in more ways than we can count, and we cannot wait to see what she grows up to be like.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Oops... I neglected the blog! Happy Mother's Day!

Well, here we are well into Spring.  I think we are finally getting into the warmer days of this season and will be permanently seeing warmer temperatures (thank goodness)!  We are halfway through Spring and I feel like we haven't even been able to enjoy it that much.  Guess we better get ready for the hotness of Missouri Summers soon!

Things have been super busy here these days and the weekends have been packed with activities!  My two best friends are getting married in June, so there have been showers, parties, and so on!  Not only is one of my best friends getting married, but she is marrying one of my other dearest friends.  I do have to say that I played a vital role in them getting together and could not be happier for the both of them.  I am looking forward to their special day and am honored that I will be standing up there with them as they profess their love in front of family, friends, and God. The weekend after that my maid of honor from our wedding is getting married to a wonderful man and their wedding will be beautiful and exciting as well.  June is going to be a great month filled with lots of love!

Future Bride and her Maid of Honor 

Me and my Maid of Honor

Here at the Sharktank we are winding down with Matthew's first official year in preschool.  He has loved every minute of it!  The social aspect of it has been wonderful for our first born and we have seen him grow so much thanks to the part time program he attended. The teachers always made sure to recognize important holidays, like Mother's Day.  Matthew came home with this project today.

I could not be more proud of him lol.  He got my age correct (thankful he didn't say I was 70) and I do love pizza, apples, and olives.  I have been on a cupcake making binge lately for parties and showers (and I am loving it), so I am assuming that is why he thinks I like them so much.  And... we do go to Walmart ALOT!  I hate to say it, but we go there at least three times a week.  I could not run my own business and have two kids if it was not for that store!

Being a mom has been one of the most rewarding, yet challenging jobs I've ever had.  There are some days I cry tears of joy by watching them discover, learn, and grow, but I am not going to lie... I have cried a lot tears of frustration (I mean who doesn't as a parent?).  Like I said in this previous post, parents are not given a manual at birth and making decisions, disciplining, and getting judged by others can brutal.  But, all of it is so worth it.  The smiles, hugs, "I love you"s, and experiences with my children can never be replaced.  I always say I used to think I knew what love was, until I had my children.  Having a child of my own taught me what unconditional love really is.  I know Mr. Sharktank and I would do anything for our kids.  They are our life and we are complete because of them.

I look forward to spending Mother's Day this year with the kiddos and soaking up the beautiful weather (as I cross my fingers that the forecast stays the same).  We have so many fantastic mothers in our lives!  We would not be where we are today if it were not for my mom, Mr. Sharktank's mom, and the other motherly influences we have.  I am lucky to have so many friends who are fabulous mothers as well.  I can honestly say that most of the moms we know are caring, loving, responsible, and provide their children with wonderful environments.  We take pride in keeping positive influences in our lives and I think it shows with the circle of friends we have who are also good parents.  So, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  I hope you enjoy your special day with your babies no matter how old they are!

Friday, April 5, 2013


I try not to let this blog be a source of venting for me, but well, sometimes I need to write out my thoughts to make myself feel better.  I have been working on this post for a while now, but never had the guts to make it public.  Well, I guess I am considering myself brave now.

I always wanted to be a parent.  I knew it was something I needed to do.  Whether I had my own children, adopted, or fostered children I knew I needed kids in my home.  My degree in child development helped me with the psychology of children, how they learn, creating an educational environment, and keeping them healthy, but it did not prepare me for the choices I would have to make as a parent and the judgement from others.

When I got pregnant with Matthew it was a surprise, but I felt I was ready.  I mean I had a background in child development and educating children, so I was excited and ready for him to arrive.  Whoah!  I was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I would go through.

The moment he was born I knew he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  He arrived perfectly with amazing eyes, glowing skin, and a head full of dark hair.  I knew he was mine and I had to do anything to protect him.  Although I knew I loved him with everything of my being, my emotions were a mess and my anxiety did not subside.  Every choice I made was agonizing and I worried if I was making the right decision for him.  It was like I almost resented him and wanted my old life back because of how I felt (I wondered, "How can I feel like this with such a perfect child in my life now?").  Quite often, people would tell me how wonderful my life was and I needed to chill out.  Suggestions were to take a bath, have a glass of wine, or eat some chocolate... ummm okay?  Clearly, those people never had to deal with the anxiety I was experiencing.  Needless to say, I could barely function and I had to call my doctor.  I am thankful we live in an age where postpartum depression and anxiety is not hid under a rug, but doctors are willing to treat and help their patients who suffer from it.

When I became pregnant with Natalie I was worried about going through the same thing with her after her birth.  I am on medication daily to help me with my anxiety and it has helped me tremendously.  I was warned that if I stayed on the medication Natalie could be a little slow to start taking her first breaths at her birth.  That freaked me out, so I got off the medication.  Well, that was a horrible choice.  Within two weeks I was not sleeping, my worrying was through the roof, and I was on edge all the time.  I made the decision with my doctor to get back on my medication and be prepared at her birth with a pediatric nurse in the room. Making this decision was hard for me, but what made it harder was when people would ask why I chose to put my child at a risk like that.  I was assured by my doctor that it was safe and would put less stress on Natalie in the womb if I stayed on my meds, but it still bothered me that others would judge my decision.

Fast forward to a little while after Natalie was born.  We had to really focus on Mathew and control his behavior. See this previous blog post.  We looked into many reasons for why he had such horrible anxiety and particular tendencies.  After lots of discussions with his doctor we came up with a plan of action and she prescribed a medication for him.  Yes, I said medication.  It is not the only thing we are doing to help him, but we felt it was important to try several things to help get over this hurdle.  We had to inform the people close to him about our plan, so that everyone could be on board with us and help him.  Well, a handful of people were shocked and quite upset that we put him on medicine.  I am still getting comments about the choice we made and how we need to look into other options.  No one lives in our house, except for our family of four, therefore no one saw the daily struggle of living with a child with severe anxiety.  Our poor three (almost four) year old could barely even go to the bathroom alone without freaking out.

Being a mom is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs I have ever had.  I look back at when I was a preschool and daycare teacher and am appalled at the way I judged some of the parents.  Not all of the kids were easy to control, some of the parents were distant and uninvolved, and I sometimes felt certain parents did not understand how to discipline their children.  I had no right to judge their parenting style or skills.  No one is given a manual or a handbook on how to handle every situation when it comes to their child.  We dive into it blindly and try to go with our gut instincts and hope pray we are doing a good job.

There are so many parents out there and we all need to support each other.  Everyone may have different parenting styles, but what is important is what works for their family.  As of now, I desperately try to keep my judgements at bay.  Whether it comes to the parent of the child who is running around hitting kids at the playground, or the parent who is ignoring their toddler throwing a massive tantrum at a restaurant, I will try to not assume anything.  I have no idea what they are going through or what kind of day they had.  I think it would be so much better if we all just respected each others choices we make for our kids and support each other when we need it.  Our job would be so much better and may even be a little less scary.

Matthew's Fourth Birthday Celebration! 

Easter Weekend... Mr. Sharktank is taking the picture.

Friday, March 15, 2013

We must be doing something right!

Being married to a die hard Cubs fan has its up and downs.  We love going to the games in Chicago (if you have never been there is nothing like it) and the excitement of the games can be fun.  He is so very passionate about his love for the team, but having family connections to the Cardinals adds to the family dynamic.

From day one, Mr. Sharktank has told Matthew how great the Chicago Cubs are (even with their struggles over the years :)   Every baseball season we are sure to deck him out in Cubs gear and take pictures.  But, now that Matthew is four he knows that we live in St. Louis and his uncle plays for the Cardinals.  This causes quite the dilemma for him.  We have his father who tells him the Cubs are the best team to root for, but then he watches his uncle play on television and at the games.  I often hear Mr. Sharktank telling Matthew that "the Cardinals are mean, the Cubs are nice, but you can cheer for your uncle."  I repeatedly tell Matthew he can make his own decisions, but at his age I have no clue if he understands that.

Well, I walk into the kitchen on Thursday afternoon.  I see Matthew sitting at the table eating snack.  He looks up at the ceiling and I hear him say, "Dear Jesus can you please talk to my daddy and tell him to like the Cardinals?  Can you tell him that he can like the Cubs and Cardinals?"  He then saw me and asked me if I could pray to Jesus and God to help daddy like both teams.

Now, I know the goal of prayer is not to ask God for things, but this is not the first time Matthew has prayed or told me to pray to God.  If anytime he hears of someone who is sick, he immediately tells me that I need to "talk to God and tell him that you are scared or sick."  Every time he says something like this my heart melts.  We are not a super religious family, but we do say prayers every night, read bible stories, go to Mass, and Matthew attends a Lutheran preschool program.  When we go to church he recognizes some of the readings that are read and he gets excited and tells us about them in his own words. I am proud that he is catching on to everything in church, his teachers, and what we teach and read to him.

As parents, Mr. Shartank and I feel that faith and religion need to be a part of our children's lives.  The expectations of going to church, saying prayers, and respecting our religion is a must.  While they are children we will make sure they are raised in our faith, but when they are older I hope that they continue to follow religion and let their faith help them find their way.  Whether that takes them to a different religion or not, that is up to them, but I am glad that Matthew is showing us that he is listening now and trusting in the Lord above at this young of an age (even if it is just to pray that daddy will grow to love both rivaling baseball teams).

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ready for Spring!

I am a little late posting, but two weekends ago we celebrated Matthew's 4th birthday.  We had cake two days in a row and he got a lot of wonderful gifts from people we love.  That Saturday night he had three cupcakes and blew out candles each time (he has a hard time blowing them out, but we are doing daily exercises to improve his speech and ability to control his breath).  He was so excited to turn four and cannot wait until he is five now.  Overall, it was a great weekend.  He received a scooter that he rides in the house a lot these days (due to the snow we had and colder temps), a camera (so he can catch us at our best worst moments), Angry Birds everything (from swim trunks, to pajamas, to games), and bath toys that make it so much more fun for Matthew and Natalie.

Seeing four candles on his cake just put me into shock lol. 

I also finished up our chairs for our new table this week.  Who knew painting pine chairs black would take so much work?!!  I wanted to do it right, since we have an in home daycare, so I lightly sanded, primed, sanded again, painted three to four coats of black paint, and then two coats of polyurethane.  I also waited a day in between each coat of paint and sealer.  Needless to say, they took a lot longer than expected, but I am so happy I distressed the chairs and took the time to do it right.  I think the whole set looks great and the kiddos love sitting on the bench together.  Who knew lunch time with the daycare kids could be so easy.  We successfully had lunch with no runners from the table for 20 minutes the first day!

I ordered the table by chance when I came across a relatively new company on Craigslist.  They linked me to their facebook page and I fell in love. Mr. Shartank was pretty much confused as to why I wanted a new table so bad, but now he loves it too!

J & K Custom Tables and More

I love how we can all sit at the table together now!  Matthew picks a new seat every time!  Also, I truly fell in love with the table the first night when I took this picture!  They did this on their own!  I mean how cute are they? The kids love sitting together when they eat and I could not be happier!

I used the products below to finish the chairs.  I was very surprised by the quality of the Rustoleum paint.  For under nine bucks a can I was weary, but the reviews were fabulous.  It had great coverage and was not too thick or thin.  Oh, and Purdy brushes are wonderful.  I have used a number of brands to paint and seal products, but they are by far the best!

Oh, and last week Mr. Sharktank booked our next relaxing vacation.  This will only be our second vacation together in seven years, but will also probably be the last vacation we will take without the kids for a while.  So, we wanted to do a tropical destination with another couple.  Dominican Republic here we come!  We cannot wait go to Melia Caribe Tropical and be with one of our favorite couples! Mr. Sharktank and I have never taken a big vacation with a couple before, so we are really looking forward to this trip!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Catch up...

Things have been pretty busy around here, so my time to reflect on what I want to blog about has been limited.  We do have a few family members struggling to hang on to life right now, so they are in our prayers and on our minds constantly. Life seems to be all about the up and downs and being able to either jump over hurdles or roll with the punches.  Every time something does not go the way we planned we try to use that as a learning experience and remind ourselves that God has a master plan and we have to work with it (no matter how difficult it is to deal with).  We are blessed with two beautiful children, have a comfortable house, and lot of love to give, so we know life is good!

The current home project includes redoing the kitchen table chairs as I wait for our new table to be built.  Our current chairs are a light wood color, and the table I am having made will have a black base and a warm brown stain on top.  The table will have a matching bench, so we needed four chairs to go with it.  I could not part with the chairs we currently use, for they were given to me by a very dear friend and have traveled with us to all of our homes.  I decided to paint the chairs black and then sand them a bit to give them more of a rustic look.  Thanks to Pinterest I got lots of helpful tips about primers, sanding, brushes (Purdy brushes are the best!), and paint.  I feel I was prepared, but I forgot to check the weather.  The past few weeks we had very mild weather and great temperatures for the season.  When I started the project the temperature was about 53 degrees.  By the next day they were down to the thirties.  Smart Dumb move on my part, since the paint takes forever to dry in cooler temperatures, but I think they will look nice.  This is what our chairs looked like before and how they look with one coat of paint.  I am thinking they will need three coats to get the look I want.

Also, coming up on Sunday is Matthew's fourth birthday.  Where has the time gone?  I still remember spending the first couple days in the hospital with him and then bringing him home to our apartment.  Time has flown by, but I cherish every moment with him.  He is our first born and was the first to steal our hearts.  I love the big boy he has grown to be and am looking forward to celebrating his day as a family.  These are the years that he will remember, so I want to make them the best they can be.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Finally, some SNOW!

Back in December, I bought Matthew snow pants and boots in hopes that we would get some snow soon.  As luck would have it, we got snow a few days later.  Unfortunately, we all were in the house until dark with a full house of kiddos (and Natalie was not feeling the best).  Matthew I missed the first day of snow to play in, and was bummed.

Fast forward to the beginning of February... Mr. Sharktank and I lost all hope for a decent fall of snow.  We for sure thought that Matthew would outgrow the boots and not be able to use them this year.  The both of us watch the news daily, and there was no report about a major snow fall in the near future.  To our surprise, we woke up on Superbowl Sunday to enough snow to go sledding!  When I went to go and wake up Matthew to tell him the good news he was sitting on his bed, looking out his window, and had his camouflage boots next to his bed all ready to go.

Mr. Sharktank had to go to work to study for class and his very important test that is coming up this Summer, so I joined the neighbors for the morning of fun.  The "Bushwacks" and "The A Team" families joined The Shark Tank family on the Shark Bush hill (in between our houses).  The kids had a blast and I am pretty sure the parents did too.

The past few years Matthew was a bit apprehensive about the snow.  This year he was diving, shoveling, and sledding in it with no problems.  I was so proud of my little boy and how adventurous he was being.  Even though, the snow was up his sleeves, in his gloves, and inside his boots he kept playing and loved every minute.

Natalie, on the other hand, was not a fan.  She sat in the wagon most of the time watching, and the one time I took her sledding down the hill she said, "All done done done," as soon as we stopped moving.  She was a trooper though.  She was well behaved and let her big brother have some fun before we went inside.  I am looking forward to next year in hopes that Natalie will enjoy it as much as everyone else did.

Here is Matthew ready to go!

Mr. and Mrs. Bushwack making their way down the Shark Bush hill!

All smiles!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Anxiety, Autism, Asperger's What?

As a parent, you think your child is perfect.  I love every thing about each of my children. They both have their quirks, own personalities, and looks that separate them from each other, but there are plenty of things that show me they are related.  Matthew and Natalie love music!  We have dance parties daily and our house is rarely quiet (their favorites are Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Kids Bop 23 right now).  They also both love their beds (they get that from Mama :)  Getting them to go to bed is fairly easy.  They love their sleep and will lay in bed and talk about their days each night as they fall asleep.

From about a year old we noticed that Mathew was very particular about certain things.  When it came to his food, the way his bed was, his socks, his diaper, etc. they all had to be the "right way."  Granted, the right way took some time for us to figure out, but we eventually figured him out.  He rarely eats things with strong smells, has a chunky consistency, or  is not cut perfectly.  His pants can never touch the floor and his sleeves cannot go past his wrists. Loud sounds can spiral him into fits and he cannot stand the wind in his face. This is also the child who was not potty trained until 3 1/2, because he held his poop for days and refused to go.

Matthew also has an extremely sensitive side that sometimes makes dealing with him difficult.  He is always worried about me leaving him, missing something important, or not being able to complete a task. If something doesn't go his way, then it is almost like his world falls apart and he loses control.  His tantrums usually entail him throwing himself on the floor, hitting himself (or hitting himself with something else), screaming, then rocking back and forth while hyperventilating.  Now, I know all children have tantrums, but the fact that his can go on for more than minutes (the longest one was an hour and 45 minutes) is stressful and hard to watch.   

Over the past year we noticed that Matthew's particular tendencies were interfering with daily functions.  Going to the bathroom, going to bed, or just getting ready in the morning for preschool could take forever, because of his anxiety and the way he likes things done. Traveling to Indiana for a wedding this month was a wake up call that told us we needed to get a grasp on what was going on.  We had to stay in a hotel for one of the nights, which hasn't happened since Matthew was 9 months old.  The wedding was fabulous and the kids had a great time, but the night was interrupted when Matthew woke up.

Mr. Shark Tank and Matthew shared a bed that night.  Going to bed was easy, of course, but when he woke up in the middle of the night upset because his Dream Lite was not working things became intense.  Not only was he crying, but he was hyperventilating and throwing himself around.  Because we all were sharing a room, the entire family woke up.  We tried everything to get him to calm down, but nothing was working.  He was upset at first because his light wasn't working, but then that led to him getting upset because he couldn't control his breathing or tears.  This led us all to tears.  Seeing your child suffer and so emotional and not being able to do anything about it is extremely heartbreaking.

I made an appointment with his pediatrician the next week.  The meeting with her was great and she spent a ton of time talking with me.  She was aware of his anxiety, but she started asking questions and I knew where she was going with them.  Working with children for all the years that I have, I know the signs of Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.  So, when she asked if I had ever thought of maybe Matthew being Autistic or having Asperger's  I was not surprised (it had crossed my mind several times).  Matthew is a very sympathetic child when it comes to others and their feelings, so I made sure to mention that to his doctor, since I know that some children with Autism have a hard time with that.

We decided to start by dealing with Matthew's anxiety and his "sensory awareness" (as I like to call it) and go from there if necessary.  I made an appointment with our school district to have an assessment done to see if they can pinpoint any issues.  We also found a place that does sensory therapy and decided on a plan to get his anxiety in control.  So far, what we are doing seems to be a step in the right direction, for Matthew has not had a tantrum or fit in days.  I cannot remember the last time this has happened and we are so happy that things seem to be improving.   He is such a loving child that we hope when he goes to school his teachers will be able to see his caring and smart side and not see his anxiety and fear that we see so often.  We as parents want to make sure that our child is happy, content, and will be able to succeed in school.  So, for now we just pray that we are doing what is best and our son will continue to be able be strong and enjoy his carefree days.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Favorite things and germs go away!

Because kids grow and change so fast, I want to keep track of Matthew and Natalie's favorite things every now and then.  I cannot believe our first born will soon be four and that our second surprise, Natalie, is over a year and a half old.  Parents always say that time flies when you have kids, but I did not believe it until I had children of my own.  I love how they grow and develop new skills, but I will miss these days when they are older.

Matthew's favorite things these days include Batman (we had to special order his Halloween costume this year, because he had to have the original Batman costume and not the Dark Knight one), dancing his "booty dance,"  puzzles (he can put together one faster than I can), and trains of any kind.  He has been a picky eater since about one, but he will always eat yogurt, applesauce, cereal, and granola bars,  Thank goodness for yogurt and the ability to hide small amounts of pureed vegetables in it, or else he would never eat them.

Here are pics of Matthew in his special order costume and doing his "booty dance."

Natalie's favorite things are changing a lot, but she consistently has to have her "entourage", as we call it, of her pink blanket with her name on it, a ribbon tagged lovey, her sock monkey, a stuffed cat, and a giraffe she got as a Christmas gift.  How we let her start taking all these items with her to bed and around the house I have no idea, but she sleeps great with them and they always calm her down, so we will take it.  Natalie also just discovered her love for baby dolls and plays "mommy" all day.  Her appetite is great when she is healthy, so I cannot complain, except for when she climbs on the table to go steal someone else's food if she runs out.  The only thing we are trying to stop her from eating is dog food... yes dog food.  She loves it.  She is not picky with the brand and will shovel it in as fast as she can before I can catch her.  Gross I know, but this is the child who kills flies with her bare hands and eats them (barf).
Caught eating Payton's dog food
Sneaking over to get Matthew's dinner

 Now, I consider myself a bit of a clean freak when it comes to germs and keeping the house sanitized. So, I don't know what is going on, but it seems as if everyone is sick!  Natalie is getting over RSV, I have had a cold off and on for over 3 months, Matthew has a constant stuffy nose and one of our little friends is stuck in the hospital trying to hurdle over a bad case of RSV and pneumonia.  We are praying this cold air that came into STL can freeze and kill all these nasty germs, so we can all stay healthy for more than a few days.  Spring is just around the corner and I am ready :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

So, here we go... this is my attempt at starting a blog.  After trying to keep up with the scrapbooks I used to be so diligent about updating, I realized that I would never be able to finish what I wanted to do with them.  I wanted my kids to have a place to look at photos and memories from when they were little, so here I am... blogging (or trying to).

Today, Matthew is 3 1/2 and coming up on his fourth birthday, He is an extremely loving, caring, and sensitive child, which can lead to some vicious tantrums and meltdowns, but the hugs and "I love you's" from him are the best.  Natalie is 20 months and is our adorable, bossy, wild child.  She is still a momma's girl and constantly wants attention.

We live the typical crazy normal life that a lot of our friends, who are parents, live as well.  Mr. Shark Tank works full time outside of the house doing what he does best (finance, business valuation, huh?  After all these years I still have a hard time explaining what he does).  All I know is that he works really hard for us and I am able to stay at home with the kids.  I don't just care for my kids, but I care for a few of my friends and family's kids during the day too.  My days can be stressful and lead to many nights that I indulge in a a glass of wine, but I love every minute.  Watching my kids and their little friends grow up right before my eyes is amazing and I would not trade it for anything.

This past weekend the kids attended their first wedding together.  Natalie is not the best road trip companion, which led to HOURS of screaming in the car on the way to Indianapolis and on the way home from Northwest Indiana.  While riding in the car was not so much fun, the wedding itself was fabulous and seeing our kids have so much fun with the family was priceless.  They danced the night away and loved the attention. Natalie thought it was necessary to dance by the DJ booth most of the night, but I just think she knew who was playing the music and wanted to show them she needed a good beat to dance to.

Here are a few pics:

Here is to hoping I can keep up with this and record the great memories our little family creates every day.