Sunday, July 23, 2017

Another Month. Another Lake Trip

We were making the trek back to the lake house for another weekend on the water but this time, we had some pretty special friends coming with us. The Shafers!

The Shafers actually have a lake house too but somehow we convinced them to come check out ours---but in return, we promised a weekend at theirs too.

Saturday was hot. The water was warm but thankfully it was still refreshing. The boys were up and ready to be on the water by 8 but Jenn and I had a different idea--we told the kids that we were taking the paddle boards out for a quiet spin and then would be back for them. The wind was strong but the water was still fairly calm & our time on the water was well spent.

When we returned the boys were ready. They flipped. They dived. They twisted and turned. They each got their shot at the paddle boards--with and without an adult. It was a solid 8 hours of sun and fun.

Even Stoli got to enjoy the lake this time around. It's one of her favorite places to be--she loves the hot, hot dock and watching the boys play. Not a big fan of the water but every once in a while she'll dip her toes in. 

Sunday morning was a little bit later of a start but nonetheless still begun with a mom paddle boarding outing before turning the kids lose. I mean, look at these knuckleheads. 

More paddle boarding was done, followed by more jumping and diving. They went as hard as they could for as long as we allowed them to ensuring there would be long naps taken on the way home but they had something different in mind & were still going strong when we arrived back in KC and wanted to head to the pool. So we obliged. It was a wonderful quality family weekend, spent with some very wonderful friends. Friends that seem like we have known them forever and a day but truth be told, really only for about a year. Funny how God does that. Strategically places friends in your life when you need them most.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Starting Point

We'll be the first to tell anyone that Kaden has always had more energy than most kiddos his age. He's always been a little more impulsive. What we have spent the last year and some change trying to figure out is, how much of this can be chalked up to him being a 7 year old. A 7 year old boy. 

We've done our research. We've met with our pediatrician and discussed his behavior and energy. We've implemented a few things here and there but at the end of the day, we were just seeing more and more symptoms of a child who may have ADHD. So we continued conversing with his pediatrician and she suggested that we take the Vanderbuilt assessment & see what comes of it. Now, the first time we took this assessment he was in kindergarten & in the end, he showed a little elevation in hyperactivity and inattention but nothing that would consider him "clinically significant" but she said that we could repeat the test in 6 months once he's into 1st grade. 

We did. & the results were a little different, showed him clinically significant at school but neither Justin or I had him clinically significant at home & if you've been through the process then you know it needs to be present in two separate settings--it wasn't. We kept pressing the issue, not because we felt the test were wrong but because we wanted to ensure that Kaden was set up for success & there had to be something we could for him. That's when our pediatrician introduced us to a behavior therapist at KU Behavioral Pediatrics. We set up and visited on a regular basis. Justin and I were given some "light" reading to gain a better understanding of what might be going on in Kaden's head. We took another series of assessments, the Connors, and once again, he wasn't clinically significant in two settings---one, yes. Two, no. We continued to work with his teacher on figuring out a system at school and how to carry it over at home. 

Somethings we have implemented in the last few months---a daily report card at school in which both his teacher and Kaden worked together to assess his days. We had a marble system at home and offered a tiny (he thought it was big) root beer or sprite for good behavior days. We implemented a shower system for the boys---Kaden was born on an odd day, Logan on an even day so the date determines which boy goes first. 

Even with these modifications we still saw struggle but now we knew, from our research and speaking with professionals, this wasn't Kaden's fault. He wasn't choosing to misbehave or make poor choices, his little brain just wasn't working the way that it should. This broke our heart. We want the best for Kaden, in all things and it was tough watching our son struggle no matter how HARD he was trying. We kept pushing for answers.

At the end of school we received a call from his teacher and she wanted to give me a heads up that we will see a drop in his reading grade. I challenged portions of her reasoning, he's been at grade level or above for most of the year, in the top reading group and yet this was the first we were hearing that there was an "issue". & frankly, we had never heard from the reading teacher herself so we were very confused & a little disappointed as he wasn't tested for 3rd quarter because he was above reading level and testing isn't done on students who are above reading level. The system failed him. We failed him. So we continued to push. I pushed the teachers for more information, more details on why they felt Kaden's grade dropped. They stated more of what we already knew, he does just enough. Doesn't give he full effort. & when the report cards came home, it showed what they said it would show but it was still a pretty great overall report. Most parents would look at it and say, "whatever, this doesn't mean squat." We couldn't do that. This was an indicator that more was going on. That his behavior was starting to impede on his work which meant, we needed to push even harder to ensure we were doing everything we could. I had another call with his pediatrician and she referred us to the ADHD Clinic at Children's Mercy. She was certain we would be well taken care of here so I called that day. They told me that as soon as I got the paperwork filled out and the assessments taken (his 1st grade teacher kindly filled them out again for us) that we could schedule an appointment and that typically they are scheduling 2 weeks out but that they had received so many referrals since school had let out that we were looking at August, late August. I was bummed. Justin was bummed. We had hoped for some direction and advice before school started so we could hopefully start off on the right foot. But we would wait. This was where we needed to be.

& then one Friday in July I got a call from the clinic, they had a cancellation for the following Monday and the appointment was ours if we could make it. I would have moved Heaven and Earth to make that appointment so we took it. After 2 hours of meeting with a child psychologist and a MD, we had our answer. He still wasn't showing clinical significance when it came to life at home but being able to talk things through with the psychologist and explaining that even with what we have already been doing we are starting to see more and more symptoms. Honestly, it was making life at home a little more difficult too. Kaden was getting frustrated with himself, with us. We caught ourselves getting frustrated multiple times with him, with the situation in general. With everything taken into account his doctors felt comfortable diagnosing Kaden with a mild to moderate form of ADHD. I cried. But not for the reason most would think, I cried because we finally had an answer. It wasn't Kaden's fault for some of the behavior he was showing, for the impulsiveness. He wasn't conscientiously choosing to make the wrong choices. He honestly had no control over it.

Now we had a starting point. We could come together with a team of doctors and build a plan for him, to set him up for success. To help him, be the best version of himself that he can be.

Our starting point consisted of three options--behavior management, medication and then what they referred to as the gold standard, behavior management with medication. We discussed all three options in pretty good detail and then they asked what I was thinking and I was honest. I had to be. We've been doing the behavior management for awhile now and it just wasn't helping, at least not enough on it's own so I wanted to discuss the medication route in conjunction with our continued behavior management routines. I had worries though. I didn't want him to lose his sweet, loving personality & what do we say to him when he asks why he has to take this medicine. We talked about the side effects--he would be taking a stimulate and it would take effect immediately versus needing a few weeks in order to start working. He would also be on the lowest dose. They felt pretty confident that it wouldn't change how big his heart is and they gave us some great advice on how to talk to him about it. To be honest but keep it simple. To let him know his brain runs like a Ferrari but that he has brakes like a bike, so when he tries to slow down, his bike breaks just aren't enough & this will help give the power he needs to slowdown.

So this weekend we are going to give medication a go. I am hopeful that this will give Kaden what he needs to be more successful. To help him build relationships that he may not even realize are missing & for him to be able to take more control of his life. Honestly, it's exciting to be at this point, to have hope that your kid will spread his wings and soar, really soar.

I'm not naive, this is a process, we will have a number of follow up appointments to ensure that everything is tracking and working in the most effective way. We could have set backs where he experiences more side effects than the average person does and we will have to work through those but again, we are now moving forward and forward is so much better than being stalled out.

Now, some will question why I would write about this. Why I would let everyone know that Kaden had been diagnosed with ADHD. & therein lies the problem, education---there is a lack of REAL education around ADHD. The stigma that our son is anything but a good kid is completely disheartening. That Justin and I just let our son get away with anything, because we have to, I mean when he acts the way he does at times, must mean he has ZERO discipline and he walks all over his parents. & this couldn't be further from the truth. I know the kind heart he has. I have seen the struggle with controlling his actions and emotions. I can see the regret set in. This is a disorder. One that can thankfully be managed with the help of a team of doctors & the village that loves and surrounds Kaden. He's destined to do GREAT things, I am most certain of that & now, thanks to being in tune with his needs and being open-minded, we can help set him up in the best possible way to achieve success in whatever it is that he sets his mind to.

It's okay to talk about these things, it's important to.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Happiest of 5th Birthdays Madison

It had been a few months since we had last been to Papa Tom's and Grandma Sara's house, Easter actually. We were long overdue & what better reason to head home than to celebrate a special little girl who was turning five---still not sure how that happened. 

We arrived after dinner on Friday & the boys were dying to get out of the car, you'd have thought it was like a 10 hour drive--it was 2. The first thing the boys wanted to do was check out Papa's new shed--he and grandma had decided to build a new shed next to the house and they were on the final stages of completion. Logan was having a little bit of an identity crisis as he decided the doggie door wasn't just for Jade and Samson but was just the right size for him too. & later, we found him in Samson's kennel--please don't fret, he crawled in there all on his own, I had zero to do with this. 

Since it was relatively late when we arrived we made plans to see Madison and Trenton the following morning. And although 3 months doesn't seem too long, it was long enough for this little dude to more than double in size & to begin crawling. 

We were planning a celebration a little later for the lady of the day but first we were off to spend some time at the pool. Aunt Kelly and Uncle Scott graciously let us take over their pool for a few hours. The boys, Blake and Leah jumped, flipped and dove until their heart was content. There are few things that make my heart as happy as seeing these kiddos together. 

After swimming we took a little break & then met back at Grandma Sara's and Papa Tom's to celebrate one special birthday girl. She was finally turning five and back to only be one year younger than Logan. She wasn't so happy when he turned six and she was still four so turning five was a big deal to her. It was, after all, a WHOLE hand. 

We were sad that we would be missing her birthday party but we were so happy that we still got to celebrate with her & stretch her birthday out as long as we could. & of course, that meant she needed a special cake too, so Leah and I got to work. We knew she was having a Trolls birthday party the following weekend and we also knew she loved Wonder Woman and all things Superhero girls so that's what we did. So our Supergirl, well she got a purple ombre cake decorated with pink frosting and sprinkles topped with her very own Wonder Woman. Happy 5th Birthday sweet girl. 
You are so very loved. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

Tournament Champs

What a fun three days of baseball the Aces had! Hot? Extremely, but so much fun.

As the Aces season was coming to an end, their coach sent out an email to the team to see if everyone would be interested in playing in the leagues end-of-the-season tournament and everyone was. The boys had finished strong in the regular season and we were just hoping that momentum would continue.

It was a single elimination tournament and when the brackets were released, we were one of only 4 teams that would have to win 3 game to win it all but the boys were up for the challenge.

The first of the games was against the Jags and took place on a Sunday at 4:45, talk about scorching hot---it was miserable, at least for me. The boys though, they handled it like pros and at the end of 4 innings came out on top--by a pretty good margin too. Kaden had a bases clearing double but he wasn't the only one knocking in runs though, they each took full advantage of their at bats. By winning game one, it meant the possibility of a double-header the following day beginning at 5:30--in 95 degree weather.

Game two was scheduled for 5:30 against the Firebirds---we had not played any of the teams in our division's bracket and all we knew was that our records were about the same during league play. This game was even a little hotter than the day before but we also got a little smarter. Parents brought pop up tents to ensure there was plenty of shade, coolers full of water for the boys to stay hydrated and we packed Royals' rally towels that were soaked in water and then placed in the freezer for a few hours to allow the boys a quick cool down. They came in handy too, after 3.5 innings Aces were up 16-7 and the Firebirds were out of options since they could only score 7 runs in any one inning so the game was called. The boys shook hands with the other team and then immediately sat down to cool off and to rest a little.

The championship game was against the Surge & by the looks of their previous game, we were going to have our hands full. Coach kept the same line up and the boys went to work.

After two innings of play it was 11-4 Aces & we were back up to start the 3rd inning with the top of our line up due up. As the Royals' commentators would say---Keep the Line Movin'---and that is exactly what the boys did. One after another they moved their teammates around the bases scoring their limit of 7 more runs making the score 18-4. We were nearing the time limit and worst case scenario they would have been able to tie us but that would have meant they had to score their limit each inning and keep us from scoring any more runs because one additional run would have put the game out of reach. Forgive me, I'm a number cruncher...

We played on though. The game was not over so the Aces took the field again. The Surge, did exactly what their name suggested, they Surged and put 6 runs on the board that inning making the score 18-10. Before our first batter could reach the plate, time was called. The boys were excited. The coaches were excited. The parents were excited.

& then the kids saw the trophy they were getting & I didn't think their smiles could get any bigger but man, did they!

And if you had asked me at the beginning of the season if this group of boys would be holding up a trophy at the end of the season I would have said, "not going to happen". However, if they were giving out a trophy for most improved, this team would have won that too. By the end of the season, everyone was getting hits, the boys were catching popups & at times, getting that double play associated with catching a popup. They were hitting their cutoff man & holding teams to mostly singles with the occasional double which in the beginning would have been easily triples. They were throwing runners out at first and at second--multiple times during an inning/game. Now, did they continue to make some silly mistakes, of course but they quickly learned for them and the next time around, they killed it. So when I say the parents were proud---we were but it wasn't about the "trophy", it was about how far they had come as a team. We were proud about their journey. 

Way to go Aces! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Birthday America

This may have been my favorite 4th of July holiday in recent years, mostly because the celebrations just kept going. We kicked off the weekend with our neighborhood celebration & it just rolled from there. 

Late Monday afternoon we headed to the Walshes. We've been going to the Walshes for years now since they live in Lees Summit and fireworks are legal there---in Lenexa, we can't shoot them off. I get it I do but having a childhood without fireworks is just wrong. Plain. Wrong. It doesn't hurt that the 4th of July happens to be one of Jake and Jennifer's favorite holidays & they don't skimp when it comes to fireworks both big or small. 

The boys were another year older and a little more brave this year. Kaden actually tends to be our hesitant child and there were times where that certainly showed but for the most part it was one firework after another...while I sat back and held Miss Kendall. 

They ran down parachute after parachute. They lit off fountain after fountain, threw snappers after snappers. And after all that they had a water balloon fight. 

We ended the night on the Walshes back deck watching Jake's finale---it was worth the wait. His wife even FBLived it so friends & family who weren't able to make it could watch along. Each year he keeps upping the bar so I can't wait to see what he does next year---maybe he will add music to it! 

The kids were beat & didn't wake until almost 9 the next morning---too many nights in a row being up way too late but man, they were having sooo much fun. First on the agenda, we needed to whip some cupcakes together for America's birthday---it's our tradition. We pick out a fun USA cupcake recipe & we go to work in the kitchen. Each year they get better and better at helping. 

We had the cupcakes baked but the icing would have to wait as we were headed to lunch with the fam bam. Last year we came home from Cabo on the 3rd to no power so on the 4th we had lunch at BRGR with the fam, this year we continued the lunch tradition and met at Johnny's. As the boys walked in Grammy handed them their 4th of July shirts & off to the bathroom they headed to put them on. Grammy gets them a shirt each year to celebrate the 4th of July and in the past they have been the Old Navy flag shirts, this year she had to go a different route and the boys were all about it. 

We had hoped to spend the day at the pool but the weather had something else in mind so we headed to Top Golf where Justin and I enjoyed an afternoon beverage & the boys worked on their form. 

& then it was time to sing happy birthday to America and make a wish for her---may this year bring a little more love, peace and understanding for her. 

We finished the evening off with a wonderful dinner with some very sweet and dear neighbors which included a melting pot of food, just like America & then a quiet walk home followed by the Macy's Firework Extravaganza. It was a great four days. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Red, White and BBQ

We moved into our home about 5 years ago. We weren't the first in the neighborhood but we certainly were one of the early arrivals. After moving in we saw home after home going up. The bus stops started to grow a little more with kids, a few additional stops were added & the pool became the spot to be on the weekend. It was wonderful seeing so many families move into the neighborhood but it was also hard to really get to know anyone at the same time.

Thankfully we have met some wonderful people who we have really become great friends with & she was feeling the same way so we decided to take it into our own hands and plan a little gathering.

We called it---Red, White and BBQ.

It would consist of a children's parade which would start on one side of the neighborhood and finish on the other and then followed by a street BBQ. We printed cute little invitations to hand out to each house in the neighborhood and requested that neighbors bring a side dish or dessert to share & we would take care of the burgers and dogs. And by we, Justin would.

We were hoping for 50 people. We got 120!! Over 40 homes from the neighborhood RSVP'd on a holiday weekend, we were so pumped with the turnout. Now it came down to the execution....& of course I didn't think the whole bike decorating thing through. It took way more time than I thought it would and when I was finished with the first, I did not even want to look at the 2nd bike. But that wouldn't have been fair & I would have had one sad boy on my hand so I got 'er done. 

We weren't sure how many kiddos would show up to the parade & we were a little worried their bikes or scooters wouldn't be decorated but once again, we were presently surprised. We had about 25 kids & every. single. bike. was decorated. I even noticed on a friend's fb post that someone commented on how they hadn't seen this done in years and just loved that our neighborhood did it. Now, I know we aren't the only neighborhood that does this but it's still nice knowing that people moved to our neighborhood to belong to a community and although it took a few years to get there, we're finally getting it. 

& let me just say, those big kids were moving on their bikes--we may have to figure out a way in which we can keep all the kids together so it looks more like a parade and less like a free for all--ha! 

The parade ended at our cul-de-sac where the street BBQ was taking place. I had cleared it with all of my neighbors before sending out the invite and everyone was on board with the idea so we just sat our chairs down and blocked the street. The only vehicle that would need to get through would be the mailman but we were okay waiting until Monday for those bills. 

Although the weather was gorgeous, it was HOT and since we live in a newer subdivision there aren't many trees to provide shade & everyone was melting. Thankfully a few dads left and came back with a couple pop up tents which provided some much needed relief.

We had bubbles, tattoos, sidewalk chalk and glow sticks to entertain the kids. We have drinks to entertain the adults. For the next 4 hours or so everyone just mingled & put names to faces. Yard games were pulled out. Tag and hide and seek were played. Bomb Pops were had. And even though the heat was something fierce that day since there was no wind, everyone was smiling, relaxing and having a great time.

& clean up was super easy--easier than any party I have thrown. We had cardboard boxes with trashcans stationed around the street & whatever the neighbors brought to share, they took home with them or we chucked it in the trash. & since we said no fireworks--city of Lenexa doesn't allow anyways--we didn't have a ton of trash on the ground either. Plus tons of neighbors stayed and asked how they could help,we really do live in a great community.

I won't lie, when we first came up with this idea, I was a little intimidated but thanks to my dear friend, Jenn, a few other ladies, & Justin manning the grill, we pulled it off & a 2nd annual Red, White and BBQ has already been requested by so many neighbors. 

When we moved into this neighborhood we were praying for a good mix of young families and older couples & we couldn't be more blessed with how the neighborhood has filled in. Our street is filled with empty nesters who just adore the boys and on the other side of the neighborhood--loads of kids and the majority are under the age of 10 which means fun for the boys and maybe a few new friends for mom and dad too.