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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Thursday, January 26

Good all around

So, tonight, we had conferences for both F and K. To say I was not looking forward to them is an understatement. I never know how things will go with K and for F, I was frustrated by how "bad" beahviors are being communicated and the lack of any communication on things like his progress or current levels. I talked to a few parents with kids in his class and the consensus was that others were feeling the same way, so at least if I was overreacting, we all were! And another friend reminded me that at the end of the day, as long as F is doing well and learning, that is all that matters. Good perspective.

So F's conference was first. She started by saying that he is doing amazingly well. Oh, okay! And that she normally starts out with behavior issues but he doesn't have any. Oh, really? Because I feel like that is ALL you have for him...is notes about his bad behavior. So I talked about how I was a little frustrated by that and tried to be clear about expectation. She seemed to agree with me and I do feel better. At least she knows I don't put any weight into the notes she sends home and if there IS an issue that needs our attention at home, she will call or email. This was really my biggest issue going into the conference.

As for academics...Finn has improved incredibly since the beginning of the year. Which is amazing and a blessing since I feel like I haven't done much at home to help him along! For math, he started out with a score of 397 in Sept and tested at 551 at the beginning of Jan! That is over 150 point improvement. And while they don't put as much weight in this number any more, he is testing at third grade, fourth month (he is currently at second grade, fifth month). I'll take it.

And reading is even better! His reading range was up to 3.2 (third grade, second month) in Sept and it skyrocketed to 5.1 (fifth grade, first month!!!) at the beginning of January! She said that he was SO proud of himself when he could pick BROWN level books in the library! That must be fifth grade level. I'm just glad to hear (for both math and reading) that the classes are set up to meet the kids at the level they at (so they push the advanced and help the struggling). This was one of our greatest concerned with Finn...would he be challenged enough in school. And it sure seems like it!

While I couldn't be happier with his testing, the social part of school is just as important (if not more important!) than the academic. She basically said what we already know that he is diligent and gets things done...as long as others don't distract or influence him. So, I'll continue to stress the point about staying on task and removing yourself from situations that will lead you to making bad decisions. While I think this can be hard for an 8 year old to figure out, it is a life skill that will take him far, if he CAN master it. Here's hoping!

K was second (and we were even on time!). Her teacher can tell that she loves to learn and she has a good attitude about whatever is put before her. There is an issue with chapstick with several of the girls, K included. I guess some of the girls are being disruptive and taking and/or sharing each others! So, her teacher just asked that we address it at home and remind her what is appropriate. I mean, chapstick, really?!?! Argh.

Academically she is doing great on the things she should be doing and even starting to figure out things that are a reach. She knows all of her letters (obviously) but can identify almost all of the sounds associated with the letters (long and short vowels can be challenging). They also started testing CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words and she got a few of them, too! Which is pretty amazing since she is just starting to read! She is currently at the "transitional reader" level and well on her way to a "probable reader," which is the goal for the end of the year. Also, she tested and passed the "B" level books (which means she can pick "C" books to bring home every night) and was SO proud of herself. She knows all thirteen of her sight words for the second quarter but her teacher said they start to ramp them up and by the end of the year, she will know forty! Crazy.

I felt better about things when I was leaving then I did when I arrived. I guess that is a good thing. At the end of the day, my kids are kind, well-adjusted, doing well academically and have friends. You really can't ask for more than that. Here's hoping the rest of the year continues to go well and the "little" things continue to sort themselves out!

Oh and this was on Finn's locker:


"I have a dream...

  • For my community: I want street cleaners
  • For my country: I want peace
  • For the world: not to have wars
So there you have it! Clean streets, peace and no war. Maybe he should run for President. I think everybody would get behind this platform!

Tuesday, January 24

Its All Him

As of yesterday, Mac is full-on potty training. Well, with Pull-Ups anyway (I'm not brave enough to go right to underwear!). And it is all his doing. I mean, it wasn't even on my radar two weeks ago. I have nothing vested in the outcome so if he is trained or goes back to diapers or wears Pull-Ups for months, I don't care. It wasn't on my radar because Finn was almost 3 1/2 before he was fully potty trained and I figured Mac would be closer to that (he just "turned" 2 1/2 last week!).


But a few things happened. First, I was running out of size 5 diapers and I was debating whether or not he should move up to a size 6 or not (and having a hard time with it because F and K never made it to that big of a size!). Second, he started showing interest in wearing underwear. Third, he started TELLING ME when he had to go potty! Well, if that doesn't scream "I'm ready!" I don't know what does.

So I talked with Jim about it and we agreed that we'd go down the Pull-Up route to see what happens. Yesterday, Monday, was Day 1 of Pull-Ups. It did not go well. We weren't at home, which didn't help, and he pooped FOUR TIMES! I mean, seriously, that is a lot. So we switched back to diapers for the rest of the day. No big deal (like I said, I'm not vested or hung up on the outcome...yet!). But today, he's done GREAT! I try to remember to ask him or just remind him that he has a Pull-Up on, but he peeped in the toilet at class/school today and pooped two times in his potty after we got home (he's regular, if nothing else!!).

While I would LOVE to be done (FOREVER!) with diapers, they do have their advantages...like not having to stop everything you're doing every 20 minutes to sit in the bathroom for 10 minutes! And if there is an accident, it is contained and therefore usually easy to clean up. I can't wait to be done with diapers, but I'm not looking forward to the transition. Argh! Finn may have taken his sweet time potty training, but it was literally like he flipped a switch and was just trained one day (and Korri being a girl, was trained without me even knowing it...daycare helped with that!). I'm thinking that won't be the case with Mac, but he's willing and able and momma is on board...at least for now!

Now if only Mac could figure out the anatomy of it all and pee into the potty instead of all over! Maybe standing up?

We'll see!!

Thursday, January 19

Stitch Fix

Have you heard of Stitch Fix? It is a company that basically is your personal shopper. You fill out your Stitch Fix Syle Profile that addresses size, fit, cut, style, price and details about you (like I'm a stay-at-home mom so I don't need business casual clothes!). Then you set up how often you want your fix to arrive (usually once a month). You get five things in each package.

I've had an account for over a year but couldn't justify the expense (I never justify the expense when it comes to things for me!). But now that I've lost some weight, I thought "a new year, a new me, a new look!" Plus, it has been a LONG journey to look like I do now and I deserve some new, cute things.

I scheduled my first one to arrive when Jim would be home because you have three days to try everything on and return or exchange what you don't want. BUT it came a day early and Jim is in Michigan. The best-laid plans!!

It was a lot smaller than I was expecting:

But I couldn't wait to open it. I received a pair of skinny jeans, two blouses, a cardigan and a necklace.




I loved the jeans but the waist was too big. I loved the color of the green shirt but not the fit (plus, where would I wear it?). I loved the blue tank top blouse but it was too big. I was on the fence about the cardigan...useful but a little frumpy. I didn't even try the necklace on. I have a few necklaces that I wear maybe three times a year. I don't need more!

So...after sending Jim the above pics, I decided to exchange the jeans and the blue shirt for smaller sizes and return the necklace, green shirt and cardigan (Jim agreed that he didn't love it either...that's what I need him for!). I'm bummed I can't keep anything and wear it right away but am looking forward to getting the smaller sizes! I just hope the jeans fit because the legs were a little snug...but they ARE skinny jeans. I just need to get used to clothes actually fitting me, I think!

So it "costs" $20 for each order BUT as long as you keep one thing, the $20 goes toward your purchase. And there is free shipping both ways! It is kind of a win/win. And you have one personal stylist that handpicks your selections every month! I put a note on mine about recently losing weight and this is what she wrote to me:

And they give you a style guide so you know what to wear with your pieces, which I find very helpful:

When you’re done trying things on, you just pop the items you don’t want into the prepaid envelope they included in the shipment and drop it off at any USPS mailbox or pickup location. Then you go online to say what you are keeping or not and explain why so they get a better sense of your style! Easy peasy. I am very happy with my first Stitch Fix and can't wait for my next one! I almost scheduled it sooner, but then figured the anticipation is half the fun!

If you want to try it, here is my referral link: stitchfix.com/referral/5801918

Wednesday, January 18

Don't say never!

I swore I would NEVER make my kids have a joint birthday party. It helps that their birthdays are three and a half weeks apart but could still be tempting and much easier for our family and friends...but NO! My sister Kristine and I always shared our birthdays. Like, every single year. But they are one day apart and it was what it was. But my mom always made us our own cakes, which was special because who needs that much cake? Right? It was especially important to me because Kristine picked Angel Food...yuck! I picked marble. Yum!

Anyway, I digress. Rewind to about a year ago. Korri and I had a mommy/daughter sleepover at the new hotel in Delano. It was really nice and it is walking distance to everything that Delano has to offer (hey, there isn't much, but it is nice to walk around!). And while we were there, there was a birthday party (complete with a party room right next to the pool)! Hmmm...it got the wheels turning. I asked Korri if she'd want her birthday party here. Which of course she did. Hmmm...maybe a joint birthday party wouldn't be a bad thing. Something to think about.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I told Finn and Korri that if they wanted to have a swimming party at the hotel, they would have to share the party. Without hesitation, they both said, "YES!" So, the sharing a birthday party is only my hang up, I guess, which is a good thing! One party, don't have to clean my house and everybody only has to trek out once in January to celebrate with my kiddos. Perfect.

I knew I wanted it between their birthday, which left us with two weekends, one of which my sister Renae would be gone...so January 14 it is! Easy. I called to reserve the space and it was available so we were set. Until at the end of the call she mentioned the room can hold 15 to 20 people. Gulp! We usually have 40! I did a quick calculation in my head and if we only invited immediate family, that would be 25 people. Well, we can't not invite family, so I figured we'd eat in shifts to accommodate the space and maybe celebrate a different time with friends. So difficult not to invite everybody, but what can you do?

The party was this past Saturday and everything went perfectly! I was very nervous about doing two cakes for one day (I clearly didn't think about THAT when agreeing to a joint party!!) but other than a few small hiccups, the cakes went together well and turned out great. Jim ordered Pizza Hut pizza and chicken, potatoes and gravy from Unhinged Pizza. We did have to eat in shifts a little, but the kiddos didn't seem to mind when the alternative to eating was SWIMMING! LOL If we do it again, I'll ask for another side table so all the food can go on there and leave more space to sit and eat. Minor problem, though. Also, you don't think about all the things you need to bring when it isn't at your house. Like a cake knife, ice cream scoop, lighter, scissors for opening presents, etc.

Last minute, I thought I'd better get some pool toys to play with too. Well, guess what? Stores don't really have summer pool toys in the middle of the winter in Minnesota! Weird, I know. But alas, that is what Amazon is for, right? I spent more than I would have had it been summer, but the toys were a HUGE hit and everything got played with. I even ordered beach balls and squishy balls to play with and then gave them as favors...which I think was a pretty darn fabulous idea, if I say so myself!

Finn and Korri (and Mac because he was pretty sure it was his birthday, too!) had a blast. I think they ended up swimming for over 5 hours on Saturday (in addition to Friday night and Sunday morning!). I think we may be doing a joint party again in the future! Maybe try to find a different hotel with a bigger party room...although the smaller number of people was kind of nice. If there'd been more kids, I think I would have been stressed out about keeping them all from drowning!

Thank you everybody for making Finn and Korri feel so special. Everybody was so generous with their gifts and time. I think this one will be a party to remember for sure!!






We sang to Finn first, so Korri got to open presents first. I may need to refer back to this next year, so I'm writing it here!

Tuesday, January 17

A Frozen Race Track?

What do Frozen and a Race Track have in common? Finn and Korri's birthday cakes, of course! However a Frozen themed race track cake would have been very interesting! I am definitely going to try to convince them to have a joint cake next year (however, Finn told a friend today that he's having a BB8 cake for his ninth birthday...so there's that! Maybe Korri will go for it if its a pink BB8?).

Anyway, Finn knew right away what he wanted for this birthday cake (I think he firmly decided early this fall!). He wanted a figure "8" race track, which is fitting since it is his eighth birthday! Since I'd done a very similar cake for his third birthday, I knew I would be able to do it fairly easily (until I opened my big mouth and suggested adding a bridge!).

Korri, however, changed her mind almost every day since her last birthday party! And considering she HATED the cake I did for her last year (I did an illusion cake with Skittles falling instead of a rainbow, duh!), I knew I had to get her to commit to one design/idea. So I came across a tutorial for a Frozen cake and while it looked ambitious, I thought I could do it (before I realized we'd be having a joint party and therefore making two at the same time!!). Honestly, it didn't take that much work to convince her.

So fast forward to this past week. I altered my normal cake-making time line to adjust for having to make two. I knew I'd have to stick to it or be in a world of hurt come Saturday morning! And it really went well! I, of course, ran into a few bumps along the way, but that is normal whenever making a cake. So without further ado, here are the final products!


Here are the birthday kiddos with their cakes:


Finn LOVED everything about his cake. Korri, in true Korri fashion, had some critical comments but in the end, also loved her cake. Here's hoping for ONE cake next year, but probably not a Frozen race track, me thinks :)

Terrible Twos?

Holy moly, Mac is officially 2 and a half today! Seriously, where does the time go? Now that he is older, I don't usually stop to see how far he's come or what is coming next, so here is my assessment of his development at 30 months.

Toddler Development: 30 months

SPEECH
Still trying to decipher some of your toddler’s talk? Not to worry — most two-and-a-half-year-olds speak unintelligibly some of the time, as they continue to work at coordinating the thoughts in their brains with the movements of their lips and tongues. (By age three, you should understand him clearly at least half the time.) What’s important now: Your toddler should be adding words rapidly — he’ll likely have a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words by the time he hits his third birthday. Overall, if he seems to be making monthly progress and you’re confident that he understands you when you speak (for example, he can follow a two-step command such as “pick up the ball and give it to me”), then he’s right on track.
NO concerns here. Mac is very verbal and while it is difficult to understand what he is saying some of the time (because he still doesn't pronounce all of his sounds correctly) after being with him a short period, you can understand him (I call it learning to speak "Mac"). Almost every day I find myself saying, "where did you learn that word?"

LEARNING
At this age and stage, your curious little guy may begin to show interest in numbers and letters (most love the alphabet song!) and be able to identify shapes and colors. He can probably point to pictures of people and name them (Grandma!) or to objects and describe what they do. Again, what’s most important is his interest in learning and ability to do so, not how many facts he has stored up.
He LOVES this kind of stuff (probably helps having two older siblings to keep up to!). He knows all of his colors, he can count to 10 (mostly!), he is interested in the alphabet, but doesn't really know letters yet other than "M." Every time he sees and "M" he says, "Look, momma, Mac!" So cute. I don't think he knows the shapes but he does understand big, small, etc.

MOTOR SKILLS
Your energizer bunny should certainly be walking, running, and climbing by now, but there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to other large and small motor skills. For instance, “early” bloomers may be able to balance on one foot, jump forward (broad jump), and throw a ball now. And while your child might not be doing all of these, do check in with your doctor if he still can’t coordinate his movements to stack blocks or if he falls frequently (especially by age three).
Thankfully, we are on track in this area! He LOVES to jump. I wouldn't say he is good at climbing but he climbs onto the couch and stuff like that. He still hasn't tried to climb out of his crib, so my fingers are crossed it stays that way for as long as possible!! Momma loves the crib!! I don't know if he can balance on one foot. I'll have to check.

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL SKILLS
No surprise here: Tantrums, frustration, and separation anxiety are very common and totally normal. After all, with so many changes and challenges, it’s easy for a toddler to feel overwhelmed. Socially, you may have a busy butterfly on your hands — or a solo operator; again, both are typical, so celebrate your tot’s individuality without comparing him with his peers. Some toddlers begin to play more cooperatively now, but parallel (side-by-side) play is still pretty common at this age, especially for kids who aren’t in child care or haven’t logged a lot of time in group settings.
I hate to write it down because tomorrow he'll make me a liar, but Mac's tantrums and typical "terrible two" behavior hasn't been very bad! Maybe it is my perspective that I know 3 is coming and 3 is so much harder than 2! LOL Or maybe he is just my "easy" one. Who knows?!?! He does good with separation as long as he gets a kiss and a hug every time, which I happily oblige.

Overall, Mac is a very happy, easy going boy. He recently started showing interest in potty training and does fairly well at it. I wasn't expecting this for a while yet so I'm cautiously optimistic. Hey, nobody would be happier to get rid of diapers than me, but I also know diapers can have their benefits until the child is truly ready to be done with them (like being able to "hold it" if needed). He LOVES to wear his pajamas all day and I often have a hard time getting him into clothes. Oh, well. Most days I don't care. A benefit of being a stay-at-home mom, I guess. He is obsessed with Hot Wheels and Finn's Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage. As mentioned above, he can't pronounce all of his sounds yet (which is normal for this age and will be corrected before he turns 4 according to my friend Jess, who is a speech therapist!). He switches "t" for "k" so he says his name is "Mat." "D" for "g" so dog is "dod." And then some of the blends associated with those sounds like "tr" "cl" "cr" etc. It is actually really cute but makes it difficult to understand him sometimes. He loves to snuggle with mommy and daddy, especially while watching "egg surprise" on YouTube. If up to him, he'd eat all day long, literally! While it is frustrating for me, I'm thankful he is a good eater. Now we just talk about things that are "healthy for your body" which he seems to understand. Salmon is one of his favorite foods! Go figure.

This is his "cheese" face:


Tuesday, January 10

Twenty Questions - Finn 8

Starting at age three, I've asked Finn 20 questions around the time of his birthday. I chose NOT to direct or influence his initial answers. Here are his responses:

20 questions: answered by Finnegan on 1/10/2017

1. What is your favorite color? Red
2. What is your favorite toy? Monster trucks
3. What is your favorite fruit? berries
4. What is your favorite TV show/movie? Transformers/Lego Movie
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mashed potatoes, gravy and chicken
6. What is your favorite outfit/thing to wear? My green “Lucky Dude” shirt and comfy pants
7. What is your favorite game? Monopoly Jr.
8. What is your favorite snack? GoGo Squeeze
9. What is your favorite animal? Painted turtle, because I like their shells
10. What is your favorite song? Kidz Bop Kids “Summer”
11. What is your favorite book? Versus books
12. Who is your best friend? I have seven! Ben E
13. What is your favorite cereal? I don’t have one
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Ride my bike
15. What is your favorite drink? 7-Up
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas, because you celebrate with your family and friends
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? My Kiki
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Mini-Cini’s
19. If you could pick anything, what you would eat for dinner on your birthday? Chicken wings
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t know yet...Race car driver

Bonus Questions:
21. What is your favorite sport to play? Basketball
22. What is your best/least favorite part of school? Best: 1. Music 2. Art 3. Recess Least: Math

After five years of doing this exercise, somehow he still manages to surprise me. This year, I was surprised by his lack of enthusiasm. He just kept saying "pass" or "I don't have one." I was able to get him to answer all the questions, but some took awhile or took "suggestions" by me (which I don't like to do!).

Here are my thoughts/comments on his answers.

1. He continues to hold steady with Red without hesitation.

2. He just bought a set of Monster Trucks with some of his Christmas money, so I think they are top of mind. If I had to answer for him, I'd say Pokemon cards or HotWheels.

3. Same for this answer; always the same without hesitation.

4. He really struggled with picking a favorite movie. Eventually he picked The Lego Movie upon my suggestion. He doesn't watch a ton of movies, so maybe that is the problem.

5. Ha! Doesn't seem like a "lunch" menu but it is one of his favorites at school lunch!

6. He didn't have an immediate answer for this and then picked the one he was wearing. Ha! But he knows I really like his "Lucky Dude" shirt and he ALWAYS wears comfy pants, so I guess it is fitting.

7. Again, not sure if it truly is his favorite but he knows it is my favorite to play with him and asked, "you, too, mommy?" when he answered.

8. This is what he had today for snack, so take it with a grain of salt, I guess, but he DOES like apple pouches!

11. He really struggled with this answer because he has so many favorites! I guess that is a good problem to have. I helped him figure out which ones were his top ones and then he picked the "Versus" series. Basically they take two animals and compare facts about each of them and then play out a scenario where they fight and ask, "Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear - Who will Win?" They are very informative!

12. Again, a good problem to have. He had a hard time picking just one but when I pushed him, he picked Ben E, the boy whom he picked to go to Chuck E Cheese with us on his birthday. But the other "best" friends were two Jacksons, Jacob, Camdon, Landon and Nolan! But I'm sure there are others! LOL

13. He really doesn't eat cereal any more, so I told him it was fine to answer that way.

18. Mini-Cini's are a breakfast at school that are mini cinnamon rolls, I think.

20. He really didn't have an answer for this right away; almost like he felt too much pressure! Ha, I'll hold him to whatever he picks, so pick well! Then I told him to think of what sounded like the funnest thing to do and he picked Race car driver. I will NOT hold him to that!

22. I had to clarify after asking the question that he could include recess. We normally say he can't say that when people ask him his favorite subject at school. Also, sad that Math is his least favorite. I think he does well, though, so I guess there's that.

Here is the last picture of my seven year old before he turned 8:


Man, I love that face and the kid that goes along with it. Eight is going to be a great year, I can just feel it! The best part? In our county, he can now "legally" stay home for a short period of time!! So if I have to pick Korri up from gymnastics or something, he doesn't have to come with. This is HUGE for us since it ended in a fight and fit every time. Does that mean we need to get him a phone? Argh! Maybe time to get a land line. We haven't had one since we lived in Hopkins, like over 15 years ago!!

If you are curious as to what his responses were last year, click here to link to that post!