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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Victoria's REAL Birthday

Victoria's real birthday was Sunday, April 14th.
She woke to the kitchen decorated by the Birthday Bird and gifts in the living room.
All of her cards had animals dressed up for a birthday party.  Such a hamster wearing a party hat.
I picked those cards because she LOVES any and all animals and I was right.  She cracked up over each and every one of them.

We headed to her favorite spot for lunch:
Rainforest Cafe at Mall of America.
She got the best seat in the house, right next to a gorgeous aquarium and we all shared a HUGE dessert after half a dozen waiters sang Happy Birthday to her.
She loved every second of it!!

Throwing coins in and making a wish.

Showing some Birthday Attitude while waiting to get back on the swings at 
Nickolodeon Universe.

After everything we told the kids we were heading home, but really we headed over to the hermit crab kiosk.  Victoria had been asking for a hermit crab for a looong time now.  She received one for her 2nd birthday when I was on maternity leave with Christian, so I thought it was only fitting to get her another one while on maternity leave with Brecken.  She was so happy when she realized what was happening, but then poor Christian said, "WHAT?!  She gets a crab!!!!???" and proceeded to bawl hysterically.
Typically, crying doesn't get you anywhere with me, but I really did feel for him since the entire week was All About Victoria.

So, they both got a crab.
And they were both thrilled.

Dear Victoria,
Today you turned seven years old.
Parents always say I can't believe you're ____ old already.
However, I can believe you're seven because you act as if you're easily ten years old.
You are very mature.  Your vocabulary is amazing.  People often tell us how smart you are and how you have such nice manners.  This year you and I are both in first grade.  I have so loved experiencing it right along side of you.  I've loved getting to  know your classmates and your curriculum but I've really loved getting to know that side of you.  I love to spot you washing your hands at the bathroom and I stop to say hi and you immediately start in with a story that usually starts with, "Mom, guess what!"  You are such a social butterfly and are well liked by all your classmates.
You have loved first grade this year.  You especially love your teacher Mrs. Elias.  
I must admit, I think she loves you too;-)  
You continue to have a love for animals.  You love to catch bugs, dig for worms and you love to care for your hermit crab.  You true love in life is your stuffies.  You have over 140.  You count them often. Each has a name.  Each has a special spot in your room.  You call them your children and you love all of them.  It's so cute.  
We continue to enjoy G.N.O.s together.  I love that you love to spend time with me, because I sure love to spend time with you.  You and I could spend all night in a book store together!
I couldn't dream of a more well rounded and simply adorable daughter than you.  
Love you to pieces my sweet angel,

Friday, May 31, 2013

One Last Time

Today I went to school for an hour in the morning to do class placement for next year.  As I was leaving Amanda approached me and I looked into her eyes and knew something was wrong.  She proceeded to tell me that one of my past students killed himself last night.

Many things have crossed my mind today in regards to this tragedy.

First, I thought, Oh my God, I just saw him last week at preschool graduation and I didn't even say hi.
I also thought I don't know how his sister is going to deal with this.  She was in my second grade class the year after him and she was much more shy and introverted than he was.
As I was driving home I couldn't stop crying and all I wanted to do was get my hands on my own two sons and pray they would never so such a thing.
I thought about his parents and prayed they have the strength to get through this for themselves and their other children.
I sat on my couch looking outside this afternoon. It was a gorgeous bright sunny day.  I thought, All you had to do was go to sleep, you'd feel better when you woke up this morning.
I also thought, If I knew... I would have done anything to help him.
But this one thought kept coming back to me over and over and over today:
Every single time I've seen him since second grade, whether is was at our school carnival, a gas station, wherever he would always say, "Do you remember my name?"  I would look up at him and say Of course and his first and last name and then ask how his sister is by name.  I did it on purpose so he knew I not only remember him but was invested in his family.

You have no idea how much I wish I could go back to last Wednesday and walk over to him and say hi and make him feel special.  I don't know why I didn't.  Too wrapped up in my own family, maybe.  Too caught up in the moment.  I don't know.  I made eye contact with him and thought about going over there and didn't.  I'll always regret it.

Next week I will have to go to a wake for my student.  It makes my heart sink, my throat tight and my stomach hurt when I think of it.

Every year on the last day I make this long speech about how once you're in Team 214 you're always in Team 214.  Hopefully he remembered that even if I didn't get to talk to him one last time.

Christian's Preschool Graduation

Last Wednesday Christian graduated from preschool.  I'm not sure there's much cuter in the world than a preschool graduation.  The shy smiles.  The tiny cap and gowns.  
The tears from every adult in the room.  Simply adorable.

They sang some songs.  This is Christian's favorite: I Want to Be a Sheep.  
They put up little horns and say Baa Baa Baa.

Ms. Joy put together a nice slideshow and even sent home a copy for each family.
(I've done this for years for my classes so I really appreciated it!!)

This is just about enough to make me cry.
Not only has Christian gone there for the past two years, but Victoria went there the two before.
Four years of getting to know these ladies.
On the bright side, only three more until Brecken goes there:-)

Christian receiving his diploma.
Ms. Joy actually turned toward us for the perfect photo op just for the Humphreys.
There's a chance the teachers sitting on the floor in the background are laughing at me.
Just a small chance....
Maybe since we arrived 35 minutes early to ensure front row only to see my parents already in front row waiting for us.
We're serious about these special events!

They had a photo room set up.
Right up my alley!!

See?!  Tiny cap and gown!

These two cuties!
It seems like yesterday we were there for her.

Our family of FIVE!
(I still love saying that!)

Mama Jeanne and the Proud Graduate!

Papa and Mama and the Proud Graduate

Big and Baby Brother.
(Good grief, Brecky looks huge there!)

Mark my words....
This photo will be poster size at his high school graduation party. 
And I bet I will wish for these days back with tears in my eyes.

Mommy and my super cute graduate!

Love love this picture!

Christian and his BFF Rosie.
They went to preschool together for the two years.
Rosie is going to a different district next year.
Therefore, this is an end of an era.
(I've always loved that phrase...but it's so true.)

Burnsie and me with our cutie pies!

Gotta LOVE grandparents who just grab a baby and don't let go:-)
Who can blame her?
Thank you Mama Jeanne!!

Can you tell that's Rosie's brother?

Classic 5 year old shot.
All dressed up in his little suit...
with chocolate all over his face.
I didn't even remind him to use a napkin.
If you can't have chocolate on your face at your preschool graduation,
when can you?!

Can you feel the love?

Christian and his teacher Ms. Joy.
That is so darn sweet!!

Victoria speaking with a previous preschool para who she just loved.
These teachers have a way of making these kids feel like they're made of gold.

That means....
He's Off to Kindergarten!!

In His Crib

Brecken slept in his crib for the first time last night.  He woke at 1:00 to eat.  It was earlier than usual, possibly because he went to bed half and hour earlier.  But then he woke again at 3:00.  Very unusual.  He hasn't woke at that time in weeks.  Then again at 5:30, which is normal.  I fed him all three times and he went right back to sleep.  At 5:30 he was all smiles with those bright blues eyes staring up at me while I changed his diaper.  Then, as quick as he woke he was back to sleep.  I'd love for him to start napping in his crib.  We'll see how that goes today.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Good Sleeper

If there's one thing I'm obsessed with as a Mom it's sleeping.  Not for me, but for the kids.  I am a firm believer in the power of sleep for children.  There's tons of research stating children who don't get enough sleep have academic and/or behavioral problems.  Just because they are in bed for 10 hours doesn't mean they are actually sleeping soundly for 10 hours.  Naps.  Crucial.  Consistency in sleep habits - mandatory in this family.  I will admit it.  It's something I'm a huge stickler about.  For years our days lives revolved around the kids' sleep schedule.  Sometimes it's embarrassing that we need to leave places or show up late or even skip an event due to the sleep schedule.  

However, over the years, many people have said what 'good sleepers' we have.

It is/was no accident.  A lot of thought and planning in the early weeks/months/years went into making our kids such 'good sleepers.'  

A few weeks ago I came across an blog about this lady's thoughts behind sleep training.  It got me thinking....I need to get going on Brecken.  Those first six weeks are I Just Want to Live Through This mode.  But then it's Holy Crap I Can't Rock This Kid to Sleep Every Single Time He Needs to Sleep Again for the Rest of His Life.  Sounds dramatic.  I agree.  But everything is dramatic when you want a baby to go to sleep and it won't.  So I went to the library.  I got four books about getting kids to be good sleepers.  I began reading Sleeping Through the Night.  I already knew and agreed with everything I was reading.  Put the baby down drowsy but now sleeping.  Sooooo easier said than done!  However, I realized I do, do that in the middle of the night because I pump after I nurse and he fusses for a bit but by the time I'm done pumping he's sleeping again.  The difference I realized between my thoughts and beliefs on the subject is: do it all much much earlier.  The book doesn't recommend a bassinet.  The book also isn't getting up at night to hand my baby to me at 1:30am.  However, when I first started reading the book it stressed the importance of not having the baby sleep in the same room as the parents because babies are such noisy sleepers.  I couldn't agree more and we moved the bassinet to Brecken's room, just inside the door.  It helped me sleep deeper while the baby was sleeping.  Yesterday I read that a baby should sleep in the crib from day 1 BUT if it was in a bassinet it needs to be in the crib by week 12 or the bassinet will become more of a habit.  

That gives me a whopping two weeks for the transition.  As he was drowsy but awake in my arms tonight I was telling Mark how I've been watching his sleep cues and how he had a perfect day because I'm focusing on reading him and giving him the sleep he needs before he's overtired (which can happen in less than five minutes.  It's a small small window when they're this little.).  He had a perfect day today.  Another thing the book said, which I couldn't agree with more is, a well-rested child sleeps well.  An over tired child has a hard time sleeping.  While I was talking to Mark about all this I confessed he should be sleeping in his crib.  "Well, go put him there then," he said.  Just like that.  

He's not ready I wanted to say.  But I knew it's me who's not ready to put him in his huge crib.  We went in and Mark removed the few stuffed animals he's received and stood there staring at me waiting for me to put Brecken in it.  I shed a few tears before gently lying him down.  His arms flew straight out and he woke up.  "I knew it!  Now I really messed up his schedule!"  I said.  "Just leave him alone and he'll go to sleep," Mark responded without even looking away from the TWINS again.  

Sure as shit, the kid went right to sleep.  He's been sleeping for an hour and a half so far.  He usually wakes around 1:30 to eat.  I'm so curious to see how long he'll sleep in the crib tonight.  

Either way I can say, confidently, we're on track to raising another good sleeper:-)  

A Brotherly Incident

The most often asked question I get these days is: How are the kids with the baby?  My responses vary from 'awesome,' 'unbelievable,' 'wonderful,' 'amazing,' and I follow up with: the transition has been 'smooth as silk!' and I mean every word.  Both of the kids ADORE Brecken.  Every single morning is like the first time they've ever seen him.  They hug and kiss and tickle and read and make him laugh each and every morning the first thing when he wakes up.  It's amazing to me that 10 weeks later they still get so excited just to be around him.  They both love to hold him and especially love to make him laugh.  It's been so much easier than I imagined when I was pregnant.  People (especially old ladies) comment almost on a daily basis what a good boy Christian is and they even ask if he's always such a good helper as he's holding a door for me to get the stroller though or carrying the diaper bag for a minute for me.  

But then...we had an incident this morning.

I put Brecken in his little Bumbo seat for just a few minutes while I was finishing getting ready.  That was only the second time he'd ever been in it so the kids were so excited.  They were trying to get him to hold blocks and were all over in his face so I explained that he just wanted to watch them play.  So they started stacking large plush blocks in front of him on the floor and knocked them over.  I was watching and loving it and I went to my closet for about 1.5 minute.  When I came around the corner I couldn't believe my eyes.  Literally, could not believe what I was seeing.  Christian was throwing block after block at the baby's head and they were bouncing off.  Christian was singing a song and casually throwing one after another gently at his head.  They were bouncing off his little baby head.  Victoria was sitting right next to him stacking blocks.

I was furious.  I yelled, "What in the world are you doing?"  I wanted to scare him.  I startled him so bad he threw a block in the air and the look in his face was something I've never seen.  Straight up fear.  

"That is your baby brother who loves you and expects you to protect him!  Get to your room now!"

Christian began crying (the baby was perfectly fine through all of this) and ran to his room saying, "I'm sorry Brecky.  I'm sorry!"  

He stood in his doorway apologizing over and over and over.  I left him there for about 2 minutes while I talked to Victoria.  I told her she needs to look out for her brother and she said she told him he was throwing them 'too hard at him.'  What the hell kind of children am I raising around here?!?!  I explained ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is too hard to hit his head.  She started crying and I sent her to get ready for school.  

I walked into Christian's room with Brecken in my arms.  Christian was pretty close to hysterical with tears and snot everywhere.  He had the saddest look on his face.  I settled him down and laid the baby on his bed.  We talked about how much we love him and how important it is to take care of him and protect him.  I had him run his finger over Brecken's soft spot and reminded him how fragile his little head is.  Then we looked at his fingers and toes and talked about how fragile they are.  Then we talked about how much we love him and what a big responsibility we all have to teach him and love him and keep him safe.  Next, I got very serious about how I need to be able to trust Christian with his little brother.  Christian started crying and said, "I love him so much mommy.  Don't take Brecky away from me," and buried his head in my lap.  

I had him tell Brecken he was sorry and gave him and kiss and then he gave him a super long hug saying, "I love you," over and over again.

I asked Christian if he'd like to help me get Brecken ready for the day.  So we picked out his outfit, changed his diaper and got him dressed.  I felt I made my point and we needed to move on towards a positive day.

However, I couldn't shake it.  I was so upset and disappointed with him.  I was driving and the thought of him throwing those blocks popped into my head and I almost started crying.  I was so embarrassed and shocked he'd do such a thing.  It was on my mind all day.  

Hopefully it was just a bad choice and lack of judgement for one instance.  But it really got me thinking.  When a child makes a bad choice there's something behind it.  Boredom, over tired, not consistent discipline, etc there's a lot of reasons.  Christian is a sweet gently little boy.  So this really threw me off.  I've never seen him be anything but gentle to all babies, even all children (excluding his sister).  The more I thought about it today the more I realized how much the way I treat him has changed since March 17th.   There's no question he's matured a lot since the arrival of his little brother.  As I was thinking today I realized some phrases I often say now that I wouldn't say before:  Hold on.  Not right now.  In a minute. Go play. Act like a 5 year old.  I raise my voice more often than ever before.  I have less patience since I am most likely holding a baby when he needs me.  

Whether these things have anything to do with the incident or not, it was good for me to realize he needs some extra love, patience and attention right now.  

There's no excuse for him doing that.  I'm hoping it was a wake up call for him to pay attention to his behaviors and be a good role model for his little brother.  It was also a wake up call to me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Family Photo

Officially my favorite picture from Johnny's wedding.
The only thing that would make it better is if Brecken would be in it.