Sunday, May 28, 2017


Natalie Jane
4yrs 22mos

doesn't like walking for long periods of time (read: gets "tired" after 8 steps)
loves playing games on electronic devices
generous - wants to give her toys away to friends
loves having FUN - very busy, likes to have planned activities and adventures
gets bored easily
very helpful
highly observant - doesn't miss a beat
loves bandaids, regardless of if she actually has an owie
materialistic - loves getting new things and gets pouty when she doesn't get to buy something
wakes up in the middle of the night and comes in "just to be with you, mommy"

Stockton Luke
3yrs 20mos

joins in if others around him are laughing
spends a lot of time looking out the front window
loves playing chase with his brother and sister
has to have his clothes off when he's pooping
still loves opening/closing doors
easily entertained
hates restrictions
loves big slides
sweet boy - loves being cozy and looking you in the eye nose-to-nose
pounds his fists into my back as a way of saying "hi, I haven't seen you in a while"

Jack Atticus
2yrs 1mo

momma's boy
speaks earnestly no matter what he's saying
loves books
drags multiple blankets around the house and gets frustrated when they get stuck on something
thrives at play dates (as long as I'm near)
cries in nursery for the first few minutes and then is fine
gives the best hugs
shakes his head dramatically when he says "no"
loves drawing


I'm texting my friend Lauren Borgolthaus right now and it occurred to me that if she had a blog she should call it SmorgasBORG. Ha.

Another busy weekend is almost done (although tomorrow is Memorial Day, and I've got a big ol' NAP planned since naps are my favorite and it might actually be plausible tomorrow). I LOVE when Austin is home from work. It's always such a treat!

our meadow of a backyard when we
delay mowing

Friday was productive but stressful. Stockton was up all night Thursday with an ear infection so I had to take him to the doctor Friday morning (which thank goodness we got in, now he's totally fine) and that sort of messed with my grand plans for the day. I did some other stuff, played with the kids, mowed the horribly long lawn, and made dinner for a family in our ward. I didn't leave enough time for the dinner though and had to head off to work, so Austin had to take the dinner to the family with the kids in the car while I took his car to work. He told me to "drive slow, it's acting weird." Eddy has never been the most reliable, smooth car so I didn't think that much of it, but I only made it a couple minutes from our house before it stalled completely, in the middle of rush hour traffic on the busiest street in Lincoln. It was really stressful. I got out, opened the hood and tried to hit the battery (a typical action to restart Eddy) but nothing was working. The insurance card wasn't in the glovebox, I was going to be late for work, I was getting mean glares from cars that I was blocking, and I didn't know what to do because Austin was driving dinner towards the other side of town and I know nothing about cars and blah it was panic-inducing.

Right as I was frantically calling Austin's parents to see if they could help me, my good friend Erika pulled up behind me. It was such a tender mercy! Now I had moral support, and someone to talk things through with. I was calm again and able to handle everything appropriately. Blah car stuff is the worst. My friend's husband came over and towed me to the car place (that was the most stressful experience of my life - I had to steer and brake while being towed and I thought I was going to crash into everything and blow stuff up and ugh it was so stressful. I practically jumped out of the car when we got there.) Turns out we need to replace the distributor, whatever the heck that is, and also some other expensive repairs, and now we're in limbo wondering if it's worth it to fix a crappy car but not having money to buy a newer one. Blah.

But! Then we spent a fun day in Omaha on Saturday and took our mind off the car. My dad took me and Natalie to P.F. Changs where we feasted - Natalie ordered "brown chicken" and ate every bite and then asked the waitress for more haha. My dad and I had good conversation and it was nice to go out and have Austin hold down the fort at home. We rewarded him with some takeout mongolian beef.

Natalie pilfering my leftovers
(she ate all my chicken!!)

my first time making goobars! my parents have made
this treat to share in bed late every Sunday night for
their entire marriage and we kids only ever got to have the
crusty outside leftovers the next morning. it felt
extravagant to eat more than a forkful.

creepy ghost Jack at the park haha
We went to the park (Jack got wet so he wore Annie's cut-off shirt and looked like a vagrant and a ghost), Target, park again, and watched Penguins of Madagascar twice. Stockton and Jack both took naps on the couch, Austin and my dad helped a family move a piano, we had homemade mac and cheese for dinner with Austin's friend Fluff and his wife Anna, and then the three of them took off for South Dakota to attend their friend's baby blessing the next day. I went home with three tired kids and then got a text from Renetta saying I should stop by to see their new baby - obviously I had to make that happen so Makae bailed me out and came over to be the adult at the house while I got to go meet Camille. (Thanks Makae....I continually owe you.)

 aren't his brown eyes luscious!?


sandy Natsby
 Babies are miracles. I love having my babies, but I feel almost as happy when my friends bring home their babies. Camille is perfect and teeny and lovely and WARM and it was so nice to meet her. Renetta has been the most wonderful friend all these years in Trendwood Ward and I am so happy for her and Dan.

Sunday (today) was good and bad. Going to church by yourself with three kids is not for the faint of heart. It worked out well enough though and I was proud of myself, but also super relieved when it was time to go home. Makae and Aaron came over for dinner since the rest of our family is out of town and we had yummy meatballs, mashed potatoes, and corn. Then we lounged around for the rest of the night very companionably.

Now I'm blogging and waiting for my devilishly handsome husband to get home from his quick trip. Isn't it wonderful to wait for someone you love? I love missing him and then being reunited. He fills in all the cracks in my life and is always there for me, even if I'm being annoying. He's loyal and steady and funny and my favorite person to come home to forever and ever.

And that's our weekend!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kitchen Sink

One time my mom accused my dad of "kitchen sinking" her and I misinterpreted it for years as "setting one up for failure" until recently Austin was like, "um, do you know what that means for real?" and we googled it and clarified that it was bringing up a bunch of old random grievances all at the same time during an argument. Now we (and you!) know.

The title of this post is "kitchen sink" not because I had an argument with my husband but because my kitchen sink was out of commission for a few days and I hated it. Do you realize how many times a day you use your kitchen sink? Dishes, water to drink and cook and clean with, grinding food in the disposal, washing hands, dumping out unwanted's in near constant use! Saturday night the sink randomly wouldn't drain and then got worse on Sunday. I texted our awesome landlord, Larry, this picture that afternoon and he suggested plunging it and told us he'd stop by Monday morning.

It smelled bad and the plunger didn't work. The garbage disposal was replaced last year so we knew the problem was further down the plumbing.

The plumber came Monday, checked out the leak through the valve in the basement where the kitchen sink flows, and it burst out as soon as he opened it, drenching the floor, the poor plumber, and spraying black grease/oil water onto the walls. It smelled so bad! He said the pipes were old (wrought iron) and had two cracks where mud from all the Nebraska rain had settled in, creating the sink blockage. The pipes needed to be replaced and the mud needed to be removed. He came back today (the next day) to jackhammer the floor, dig out the broken pipe, sludge through the mud, and replace the pipe with new PVC. He put in new cement where he dug the old out and it's drying for 24 hours before we can move the (gross) carpet back over the spot.

I took this picture when he left for lunch - the rectangle in the wall is where the valve was, and the black mud hole is where he removed the cement. I should go take an after picture downstairs buuuuut that would require me going downstairs so...not happening. 

The smell is gradually diminishing but I advised my dad who was sleeping over to sleep on the couch instead of the stinky basement. Hopefully it will fade away completely! (Also, do you see the white dust over the bookshelves? That's from cutting the's coating EVERYTHING down there!)

So he left and we started our full-to-BURSTING dishwasher and put in the first of four loads of laundry, taking full advantage of working plumbing again and feeling grateful that we don't have to pay for these kinds of issues. (Renting does have its perks!)

I had to keep the kids upstairs and out of his way so we tried various activities:

walking to HyVee with PopPop

enjoying donut from HyVee 

 taking lots of selfies

 I brought the lego tub up from downstairs and let the boys dump it out as they pleased. They were very interested in stepping on the legos and rolling around in the big pile. We had fun building towers and, of course, destroying them.
 same tub, different babies! Jack sitting in the tub made me remember this picture of baby Natalie

 Jack fell asleep - he plays hard and sleeps hard! (We had a successful transfer to his crib and he slept for almost 3 hours. It was glorious.)

 I built a pyramid and Stockton thought it was hilarious to take the farmer person from a different toy set and walk him up and down the steps. It was cute to watch, and it kept him from destroying my hard work. Until he got bored of the farmer and destroyed it anyway.

it was "summer birthday" day at school, so Natalie felt celebrated!

 We whipped out the shaving cream (and that smell mixed with the mud smell from downstairs was making me gag, not a good combo!)

 ^^Stockton is so funny about getting wet - he was making sure his elbow didn't have any shaving cream on it

I took this picture to document that Jack was mad about something but I can't remember what he was mad about lol...

cream gloves!
 So I didn't think about the fact that I didn't have access to my kitchen sink for shaving cream clean-up until it was time to clean up and I regretted my choices immediately. It was hard to deal with the mess without the sink! I had to keep going to the bathroom and using way too many wipes.

the aftermath
 We also went to the park, even with dark gray storm clouds rolling in. As soon as we got there it started to rain, so we hid in the little slide tower. Natalie was racing down the steep steps to come hide with us and slipped and fell down, so that's why she looks so traumatized in this picture, poor thing.
 Stockton LOVES selfies.

And then we came home and had delicious pulled pork enchiladas for dinner, complete with a fully functional sink to help us clean up afterwards. I won't take my sink for granted anymore, that's for sure!

Friday, May 19, 2017

ACT clinic

I've neglected to do an official ACT clinic post so here it is, better late than never!

After Stockton was diagnosed with autism last May, we went to Omaha each week to have sessions with Leslie, the speech therapist that we met during the diagnosing process. We totally clicked with her and she taught me how to teach Stockton and we made some big strides over the summer. We worked with her while we waited to get a call from one of the more time-intensive autism resources - everything has a wait list and it can take months to years for your name to come up. Leslie knew about the ACT clinic (Autism Care for Toddlers) because they are a satellite office of Munroe-Meyer (where she works) and she has consulted with them in the past, and she said that out of all the potential services in Nebraska we should try for that one because she thought it would be a really good fit for Stockton. I think she may have pulled a few strings because we got a call in early September that there was a spot open for Stockton if we wanted to start coming and on Leslie's recommendation I jumped for it immediately.

I took Stockton to the ACT clinic for his first intake appointment and I was nervous. Stockton screamed and cried when I left him in the big playroom so I could go talk to the head of the program. We talked about Stockton's behaviors and personality, my concerns and goals, and he told me more specifically what ACT clinic is like. It was to be 4 mornings a week, 8:30-12:30 (in Omaha, yikes). I would drop Stockton off, he would work with a therapist one-on-one in a room with other children his age with autism who were working on their own goals with other therapists. Informal play was an important facet of the program - they operate on a work/play/work/play rotation so there's a lot of flexibility. Every hour they have circle time where they all come together and sing songs, eat a snack, do a craft or activity, and then at the end they have a lunch that we pack for them. Periodically we meet with the head therapist to go over progress and future goals.

It sounded good to me, and I got good vibes from all the people and the general setting. Stockton cried a little bit each morning for three days, but got acclimated quickly and started running into the room excitedly to play. I became more comfortable with the setup and started to get to know the therapists and had faith that this was going to be good for us.

You guys. I can't even BEGIN to describe our past seven months at ACT. It is hard to put into words how wonderful it has been. These adults, mostly students at UNMC studying to make this their life's work, care deeply about Stockton and the other children there. They are proud of them, excited to share their progress, and passionately committed to helping these children grow and learn. They celebrate the individuality of each child and each family and are flexible but firm when it counts. Stockton has positively BLOSSOMED under their care. He is crushing the goals they set for him much faster than anyone expected, and his retention is 100% which is incredible. Periodically they go back and test things he learned months ago and he remembers it all. He learned his ABCs (he can identify all the letters), went from labeling only 5 things in a book when he started (car, ball, dog, cat, banana) to being able to label everything, and is working on drawing zigzag lines. His goal in September was to use one word he speaks in full sentences. He can ask for anything he wants, identify people around him, and often narrates what is going on in real time ("Natalie go to school. Jack read a book.") He loves sharing his excitement with us, and he is potty trained.

He works with different therapists every day and loves them all. Alex, Claire, Logan, Libby ("Liffy"), Marissa ("Rissa"), and more. They all love him and it means so much to us. They don't want to change these kids and make them "less autistic;" they want to bring out what's lovely about them and encourage their personalities and knowledge to grow and develop in their own ways. They don't "treat" autism, they teach children, and it is an absolutely amazing program. Here's their website: ACT Clinic

This week I got this picture from one of the therapists:

THEY BROUGHT A THERAPY CAMEL TO ACT CLINIC. Yes, there is such a thing as a therapy camel, apparently! Stockton wasn't too interested but Jack liked him. Stockton is with "Liffy" in the picture, by the way. Also, this camel only travels on Wednesdays since it's Hump Day hahaha.

Thank you THANK YOU, ACT clinic. You are changing our lives!

Preschool Graduation!

 Natalie "graduated" preschool today! They had a whole dance program and got a diploma and it was exactly what you would expect out of such an event. Natalie took everything very seriously during the program and then had fun being silly with her friends afterwards.

she was looking around worriedly and broke into a huge relieved grin
when she saw us 

 Isn't this an awesome picture of the three of them?! Makae and Aaron also came but somehow I didn't get any pictures of them. Natalie was VERY excited that Grandma and Grandpa could come! (Shout-out to my dad for staying home with the boys so we didn't have to wrangle them the whole time - thanks for taking one for the team!)

she LOVED the photo props

Miss Kaycee! She has been MOST wonderful and I'm so grateful for her.

Natalie's best friend Willow is coming to Kindergarten with her at Eastridge Elementary next year, yay! And Natalie didn't eat ALL DAY because she was so excited for the pizza promised after graduation haha.

I hope she knows how MUCH I love her
August 2016 vs May 2017:

 Natalie is bright, curious, kind, and observant. She loves knowing what's going on. She loves knowing how people feel and she loves feeling special. Her birthday is the day after the cutoff for official kindergarten so we have to test her in...assuming she passes, she'll be a kindergartner this fall! She is almost always in a good mood, almost always wanting me to participate in any activity she's doing at home, almost always being nice to her brothers. She is a complete JOY and I hope I always remember her cute little Natalie-voice, the way she likes to be cozy with me wherever we are, her enthusiasm when she's teaching me how to do something or giving me directions, and how she lights up any room that she enters. I don't do a good job writing down all the things that she says or does that make me smile but she impresses me, makes me laugh, and loves me every single day and I am so grateful that she is mine.