Sunday, January 20, 2019

Super Rowan, Outside and "Camping"

This is what Heidi sees every afternoon. All four of us just waiting to see her. We wait by the neighborhood park now, still, the same 4 people excited to see her. Don't worry, the breaks are engaged and Anastasia is buckled in, she just likes to test her limits.  
The Rain returns! Whoa! The rain was gone for a few days. Everything started to dry out for a second there. I must say the local DJ's here are really funny. For example, when a real heavy fog or all the rain dissipates one will play "Here Comes the Sun." When it starts to downpour you'll hear songs like "Africa", "Umbrella" or "I'm Only Happy When it Rains". 
Recently, Rowan has fallen in love with superheroes. He really likes Lego Batman and Spiderman. He's had this Superman shirt for the longest time but would never wear it because it didn't involve vehicles or airplanes. Now it's become one of his favorites. 

He enjoys "flying" around the house in his cape with his arms outstretched. Sometimes Rowan will run up to me and request, "Mom, say help me?" He'll even correct me if it's not done in a very high pitch, damsel in distress kind of way. This is Rowan's first time trying to do pretend on his own. If I'm very lucky, he even stops and does photo ops. Giving me little gems like the above pose.  
Anastasia likes to get in photo sessions but only when Rowan is in the mood. However, she still hasn't grasped the concept that she needs to wait to see her picture. She'll run in circles to see her "cheese" before I even take a shot. Here is a rare photo of Anastasia being silly and (mostly) still. 
Rowan received these dinosaur rain boots for Christmas from one of his Aunts. He loves to put them on, stomp around the house and say "Rowan dinosaur. Rrrooooaaarrr!"  

We meet his new special needs pre-school teacher this week. Rowan returns to pre-school on Tuesday (Tuesday/Thursday) in a mixed classroom. His Utah IEP was Rejected. I keep trying to write out everything that happened and what we discovered but it's so long it could be its own post. In a nutshell, we got screwed by Utah. A new IEP will be coming out within 30 days. That way they have time to observe him and measure his needs.  
Anastasia let me do her hair! She LOVES her rain boots but HATES her hair being done. Here is a rare picture of her having me complete her hair. Normally, she puts up a massive fight just for me to brush it each morning. I'm trying to prep her for pre-school and her hair needs to start the day a tad tidier. Wish me luck.    
Shout out to Cas for being a wonderful pup! He can sit on command and pay attention to just me, even if there are other dogs barking or kids coming out of nowhere to pet him. I keep treats on hand and sometimes I have the random strangers give him one. Most people see how big he is and assume he'll lunge or jump at them and keep their distance. He's really just a big goofball and everyone in the family adores him. 
I didn't know how long the rain-free weather would truly last. Despite the wind chill I would bundle up the Littles and let them play in the backyard a little.

Or I would take them to the neighborhood park to really let them burn off all their energy. I'd even pack some snacks, a sandwich and some water. (It's taken over 10 years but I think I'm learning some mom tricks!). 
While the rain was gone I basically shot myself in the foot. In the afternoon we'd either go in the back yard or walk down to the park and get out the wiggles. When the rain returned the Littles had gotten used to going out and playing after lunch time. While the break was brief, this had set precedence. 
I broke out the power's out in cold weather/camping gear. I got out their fox sleeping bags. Which occupied them for some time. (I think Anastasia had completely forgotten we had them).  

Later I unpacked their kid-sized camping chairs. Then they had me take photos of them doing different poses. My favorite was when they were "sleeping". They were also snoring during this picture. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Charlie's Back (-ish)

Here is Rowan when we told him that Dad was coming back home that morning and we had to go to an airport to get Daddy. Rowan misinterpreted to mean that everyone was going on an airplane. He kept chanting "The babies [Rowan and Anastasia-Naturally] are going on airplane!" He was excited at the thought of seeing airplanes again. (I think he misses the F-35's that flew around our old house near Hill.)     

This was Anastasia being reunited with her panda bear named Baby.  There's a big back story to this picture. You see Anastasia needs the following in order to even contemplate falling asleep; 
-Baby the panda bear
-Maggie. Maggie is really a Minnie Mouse stuffed doll, but Anastasia calls it Maggie. She stole Maggie from Heidi Anne. 
-Her premie baby blanket, super soft and given to Anastasia by a co-worker of Char's, Diana, if I remember right. This lovely woman basically provided Anastasia with the whole premie wardrobe.   
-Her flower quilt. Another item Anastasia has usurped from Heidi. 

During the shuffle of moving, EVERYONE of those above items was accidentally left in an upstairs bedroom at Grandma's house. We learned our mistake the first night we moved. We were at the hotel room trying to settle everybody down. I go to tuck in Anastasia and she politely asked for Baby. Yeap, I didn't realize they were missing until 400 miles away from the items that help her sleep.     

We found a small, cheap Maggie that was discounted due to the holiday purge on the 3rd night. We dug through the stuffed animal box and found a small panda puppet. They helped reduce the tears but we were still missing the blankets. I put different types of blankets on her until she settled for 2 temporary blankets. 

Fast forward to the moment Char was off the plane. I'm looking around for Char and Anastasia shouts "BABY, BABY, BABY!!"
-insert happy giggles-. She was more thrilled at the sight of Baby she ignored Char's return. Once Baby was given to her she kissed it, hugged it, tucked it in for bed. 
We've been having a little battle over, Rowan's placement in special needs pre-school. First off, we weren't able to register him until moved out here. Then it was winter break. Then his old schools' had a longer winter break than here. It's been a big mess. Basically, they are trying to determine; what class containment he'll need, if he goes regular preschool hours of 4 days a week at 3 hours a day or if he qualifies for their Level 2-Level 3 autism class of 5 hours a day at 4 days a week. No preschool on Wednesdays here since it's a half day.

Char got back Monday morning and that afternoon he began his classes for his Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Psychiatric Mental Health. In many states, a DNP has to work under the supervision of a medical doctor.  However, in Washington State and most of the west (minus Utah and California) DNP's have the ability to work for themselves with full practice abilities. We won't see much of him due to coursework, clinicals, study groups, lectures. Yeah, he might be in the home but his workspace is far removed of the daily chaos. I send him the occasional text or a picture of what the kids are up to. Along with food offerings at lunch and snack time. Most of our upcoming adventures won't feature him due to grad school. It's not because we secretly divorced ;-). 
Rowan was begging to color with me and just me. I waited until Anastasia went down for a rare nap and broke out the crayons. Before we could color Rowan had to line up all the crayons in a nice and neat row. Once you used a crayon to color, it had to be returned to that exact same spot in the row. 

Here's Anastasia in her beloved "purple corn" (purple unicorn) dress that she got for Christmas. She shouts "pictures!" whenever she sees my camera and then demands to see ones of her. The main problem is the kid is always on the move! So her pictures come out as a blur or she smiles at the wrong time. Thus we end up with some funny Anastasia faces. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

It's Been 2 Weeks Since..

Char flew back to Utah to wrap up loose ends. I can now marvel at how single moms do this full time AND work. Just WOW! If you are or were ever a single mom, even for a short amount of time, You're amazing. 

To be honest getting out and exploring a new environment as a solo adult with 3 kids in tow. Well, I wasn't filled with warm and fuzzy feelings. However, we did quite a few things on our own. We didn't accomplish everything I wanted to complete every single day but we at least survived it.
Rowan got a black "Batman" cape and mask and Anastasia got a pink and purple cape for Christmas. They run around the house with glee shouting at the top of their lungs how they're superheroes. Sometimes Rowan will stop mid-run and with a serious, yet puppy-ish growl, say "Rowan Batman!" Every time they'd start running upstairs I am happy with our choice of a house. That way we won't be bothering anyone with screams, running, jumping, etc. (Wait a sec, I'm just describing the toddler/preschool stage). 

One of the first mornings here everyone woke up ridiculously early. I mean around 4:00 am. I know there would be some adjustment period for the kids to get used to the new time zone-but seriously, 4:00 AM!! I briefly thought about putting everyone back to bed but realized it would be futile.  

I just rolled with it and started handing out cereals and yogurts to the littles. Figured that some of them were bound to take a nap later and maybe I could sneak in one as well. (Spoiler-nobody took a nap that day.) Around 9:00 they started to say they were hungry, I did some math and figured 5 hours after breakfast would be lunchtime or at the very least snack time. 

Heidi has developed a love of cooking. Her desire is to do Master Chief level cooking, with the raw ingredients. Like making a cake from scratch. We had a tiny kitchen in Utah and most of the prep work was on the kitchen table - very little workspace. Also, she has to clean up her baking messes. Due to all those issues listed above has kept her from branching out more.
She's been making the boxed baking items, it's cheaper, for now, less cleanup and if she burns her brownies or muffins she didn't slave for hours over it. Another thing, her target audience at this point just want their food ASAP. 

This particular morning she made a batch of chocolate chip muffins. IN the Kitchen! She LOVED prepping on the island. She told me "Mom, I feel like I can do real prep and cooking in this place!" The littles love to watch her make things and sometimes they even "help" her out. The muffins were a big hit, as predicted. 
Some cute things about Anastasia! When one asks a question to the group someone will always answer, "Me, Too!" Anastasia will then respond with "Me, Three!! She also made up a phrase "Whoopies Doodle!" for when she; falls, spills, drops something. She also says "Yippie Skippie!" which translates to "I'm feeling Happy!" or "I got my way!"  

Rowan has determined that Super Wal-Marts are the only "real supermarket". Meanwhile, Winco or other groceries only are "baby" stores. He likes to go shopping but it has to be at a real supermarket. We head into Winco and he pouts.  
It was hard but we survived our first meeting at our church. Why did I use the word survive?  Well, Rowan and Anastasia wandered up and down the pews the whole time, in opposite directions. They asked for snacks in their outside voices. Anastasia proudly declared "Goldfish Crackers!!" during prayer when people were being dead silent. Furthermore, they screamed "NO!" whenever it was time for the hymns and had to be taken to the halls. I think we'll hide in the hallways from now on. (At least until they go in the same direction when wandering.) Everyone did great during the Sunday School portion. So..YEAH, we survived it. 
Here's Heidi Anne on her first day of school in Washington. We went early to get a tour of the school. We then meet with her teacher who seems very nice. Heidi Anne makes the class an even 24 kids-12 boys & 12 girls exactly. Lastly, we had a meeting with her new principal, mainly to give her a heads up on Heidi's recent history.  
We were out grocery shopping at a "real supermarket" when I found these rain boots on sale. Anastasia fell in love with them right away. They are pretty much the only shoes she willingly wears. She adores how pink the shoes are and have purple soles. She's been practicing how to run in tall, knee-high galoshes. Anastasia is going to become a Washington State native in no time.  

Another day we ventured into the local mall. (I can't keep track of what day was what, it's all a blur). We went to get Heidi Anne some new winter/spring clothes since she'd outgrown nearly all her shirts but hadn't told us because she feels bad about her current weight. (I pretty much just guessed that was the issue and my mommy-instincts were right.)
We had to pass up a few stores we really wanted to go in, alas, they were not double stroller friendly. We got her a few long sleeve shirts she'd seen other kids on the playground wear. She's really trying to fit in and reintegrate herself. I got everyone some ice cream as a reward for being super well behaved during this LONG adventure. 
Rowan loved his ice cream! He would take a huge bite of ice cream, get a brain freeze, making this funny face as he would have full body shivers. Then repeat the process all over again.  

One day there was a big storm predicted in the forecast. The news kept reviewing what to do during power outages, around downed power lines and how to safely use the fireplace. I figured we should at least get some flashlights.  I got $1 flashlights for Rowan and Anastasia. The storm didn't really come through, however, the flashlights turned out to be a big hit!
Rowan and Anastasia had sword fights, pretend they had magic wands and made up a "fix it" game. In this game, one person would set their flashlight to the strobe setting. The other person would reply "I fix it!" Then reset the flashlight. This game kept them laughing and playing for over 30 minutes. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

We Moved to Washington State

Well, it's been a hot minute since I posted. A LOT has happened since October. Do you like our professional family photos? This one all the kids are sort of looking toward the camera. 
Most turned out something like this. I think it's my favorite, to be honest. It captures my day to day life. Seriously! 

Anastasia-She is most likely screaming at the top of her lungs in this picture. For being born with lung disease she has a great set of pipes. Anastasia has been officially diagnosed with Moderate (Level 2) Autism. She has to have purple / pink or butterflies on. We got her a pink & purple cape for Christmas which works if those colors aren't on her. Here we see bright pink shoes and butterfly leggings.

Heidi Anne-For being the oldest, she winds up in the middle of these two the most. Often to help me out with them. Her face is the perfect, touch of humor with a tad of "Come on people!" 

Rowan-He is just doing his own thing, being his happy little self. He was wearing an airplane shirt, Rowan LOVES airplanes and will only keep shirts with airplanes on. (My Granddad would be so proud). He still likes anything construction related and dinosaurs. 

Back to the main story:

We made a big leap and moved from Utah out to Washington State. Char got a job offer out west that we just couldn't refuse. After much thought and deliberation, we accepted. 

In early December, Char's parents were kind enough to watch all 3 kids for roughly 3 days while we apartment/house rental hunted. (We're not buying a house yet, we want to get a lay of the land first.) We found one that fit all our needs and our family on the very last day.

We moved the day after Christmas, we had my father in law, and a brother in law come help us move. 
Another sister in law was brave and volunteered to watch 5 kiddos (our 3 plus my B-I-L's 2).  She made me think of Katniss Everdeen. She watched all 5 children at Grandma's house for hours. Then drove our 3 kids an hour up to our now empty house. 
Here is the last photo of the kids at our house in Utah.

We rolled out around 1:00 pm caravan style. Char drove the U-Haul, while the kids and Cass the dog rode with me. The littles screamed nearly the whole way. We broke the journey into 2 parts. We drove until 9:30 that night. 

Heidi took lots of pictures along the way. Photography is becoming one of her coping skills. For Christmas, one of her Aunts, (who also likes photography) gave her an Instapix camera and some film to go with it. 

 This is on the way out of Utah, just past Willard Bay area.
This is just outside Malta, Idaho. Heidi had noticed at that point there were just lots of hills and brush. With the silhouette of a mountain far in the distance.  
Funny story-we drove through a nasty snow storm on the Oregon / Idaho border. The snowflakes were big and falling fast. Visibility was maybe, 500 feet. Oh, accompanied by high wind speeds. You can't tell from this picture but we're in a very wooded area. However, you can only see about 3 trees deep. 

There were lines of Semi-Trucks with regular vehicles pulled to the shoulders on both directions of the interstate. Since there were other cars on the road I figured it must be due to the high winds and truckers didn't want to tip or jackknife their semi. We just kept plugging along, slowly and very cautiously. 

After we got through the snowstorm we stopped to get fuel and stretch out our legs a little. I mentioned to the cashier about the rough drive and she said "Didn't you listen to the radio? They closed that section down unless you have chains or 4x4." I explained we were from Utah and that was a regular snowy day comute. She looked at me like we were crazy. 

Once we hit the Oregon / Washington area Heidi exclaimed "It's soo green here it looks fake! Like in a movie!!" We found it amazing that at 8:00 am in the morning we were nearly snowbound but by 1:00 pm we were in "spring to us" weather.
We found lots of waterfalls on the drive, which everyone loved seeing. I thought of my friend Valerie and how much her kids would love these waterfalls, too. 
We headed out around 6:30 on the 27th and arrived at our new home around 3:00 pm. Internet was the first thing we hooked up and the kids played on their Kindles while we began unloading. We finished clearing the moving truck around 11:00pm that night.   

Char flew back out at 1:00 pm on the 28th. Mainly to wrap up cleaning and repairing the house to be sold. (Things we couldn't do very easily with little feet running around.) Also, to wrap up his shifts at the hospital. 

P.S-I've made a slight discovery, while we are a small to average size family in Utah we are HUGE here.