Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Time

It's early here and everyone is still asleep. I decided to steal some time to update this old blog and drink my coffee. We are in the mist of summer around here. Kids are home, Riley's work schedule changed from 6:30-3:30 (love love love), swimming, karate, art class, library time and just plain crazy relaxing. So much to tell.... So I'll back up a little. :)

My twin-a-roos turned the big TWO in May. I don't even know how this is possible but it is. I love them from the top of their golden heads to the bottom of their adorable little toes. It amazes me how they can be so alike but so VERY different. Brennen has a constant smile and is the life of the party. He prob puts miles and miles a day on my floors racing all over. He never messes with anything but he knows this house inside and out. He is also my blanket boy. Always has to know where it is and love on it. He isn't much for toys. He loves chew toys and rattles but he is way to busy for toys right now. His favorite show is Tek the Tracker on BabyFirst TV as well as he likes Harry the Bunny. For some reason this adorable show with three mice scare him crazy. We are talking full on screaming, panic and tears. As soon as that comes on we turn it real fast so he doesn't get so upset. The guide doesn't tell us when it comes on so it's hard to judge it sometimes. At his last well visit he weighed 24lbs 11oz and was 35" tall. We FINALLY made it to the 10th percentile and kicked the 5th percentile to the curb. That was a hard feat because they are very picky eaters and would rather just throw stuff overboard than actually try it. I have to add either butter/olive oil/avocado to just about everything or give them really high fat Greek God Yogurt because they are so active they need all the fat I can get into them. A week before his well visit he had woken up at 4am for some mama snuggles and while sitting on the couch I was watching him with his blanket. He has this certain way he "hooks" the silk around it. Then as I peered closer I realized the reason why is he has a locked thumb. I instantly googled Trigger Thumb and felt bad because as many times as I've caressed those tiny hands this was the first time I had noticed. I messaged Granny later that morning and she came over to see for herself and also felt bad because she to never noticed. At his well visit our pedi suggested we take him to a pediatric orthopedic hand surgeon to have it looked it. I made the appt with her but we can't get in until Sept 2nd. It isn't painful to him so I was ok waiting but I never realized that there were so few pediatric hand surgeons. We will go see what she has to say and if we need to we can go to Dallas for a second opinion although I would prefer to stay local and I have always been happy with Cooks. The other thing is they aren't talking. They babble a lot but I have tried everything I learned with Brady and Ben on speech. Including giving them chewy tubes to strengthen their jaws, brushing the insides of their cheeks lightly to stimulate/strengthen their tongue (if you brush one side the tongue moves to that side and it's like exercise and using bubbles to get them to sign/talk. No nada, nothing. They just smile and giggle. So after talking to our pedi I made a referral to ECI to get an evaluation to see if they need some extra help. I really think being a preemie is most of it but our pedi says that stops at two, although on many levels because I am around them all day I beg to differ. They have always done things on their own time table. Now for Barrett Buglet. Barrett would be content all day if he could just lounge in your lap. He LOVES to be held and is very mello. He has got the best grin and giggle when he is tickled. He LOVES Brady and I often overhear Brady say, "How is my Bear Cub?" Just melt me! Now Bear loves toys! He will play and figure things out. He loves to open drawers and cabinets. He never pulls anything out, he just opens them, closes it and leaves. I don't have anything down low that could hurt him and I only use Shaklee Non-Toxic cleaners. Barrett is NOT a blanket boy. He likes them in his bed when its time to sleep and that's it. He doesn't need to carry one around the house because he would rather play with his toys. He was 24lbs 9oz and 35 1/2" at his well visit. They are neck and neck with each other. Thankfully he doesn't have a trigger thumb. ECI will evaluate him too because him and Brennen are exactly alike on the speech issue. I am a little down about this because we have just tried so hard and I didn't want to go through another speak adventure..... 5+ years with Ben and while we aren't doing private anymore he is still getting school services. More on Ben in a minute. For the twins birthday we decided to keep things simple simple this year. Riley took off the day and while all the kids were in school we had our own little celebration with them. We had planned to go the Botanical Gardens to let them run and play but unfortunately the rain foiled our plans. So we went to Blue Mesa Grill and had some lunch, picked up a cake at the bundt place, and stopped at the Dollar Tree for some birthday decorations. Riley took me to Kendra Scott and I picked out some Blue Lace Agate earrings to mark their 2nd birthday!! Then later that night we had dinner and cake/icecream with all the kids and Riley's parents. We gave the twins the cutest fisher price learning chairs. Barrett is in love and Brennen is like SIT? I'm to busy for that! lol

An update on Ben: I can't remember how much I shared in the past on Ben but he truly is my special boy. Him and I have walked many roads together to overcome being exposed to Risperadol in utero. We have always known that he was on the spectrum but we had no idea where. We hated to have him formally diagnosed with anything at such a young age so we just always kept that in mind that he was on the spectrum. We also did countless hours of OT, PT and Speech to help him be successful. This year we hit a rough patch because school has such higher standards for lower grades. He would just physically shut down and refuse to do work. So after much discussion with his teacher we requested many formal testings through the school while we waited for a private child physiologist to become available. It was a long school year waiting but we FINALLY have our testing appointment on June 29th and this means we will be able to get him more help at school. The school physiologist and our private doctor both think he has high functioning autism. On one hand I am sad for him and on another I am so happy we finally have an answer to help and understand him better. He is the most amazing beautiful child and I can't imagine not having my Benny. He has taught me so many things and because of him I have developed patience/empathy like you can't believe. Such a relief really to be at this crossroads. He is loving summer! This is the first summer he is really into reading too and my reading reward system helps. They earn money for every 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes read and they make sure I sign their log afterwards. I have a big sign up that we keep their running totals to see who is going to win first prize (that person gets an extra $5.00). We use their tablet timers for accountability. At the end of the summer they get to go spend their unspent gift cards, granny money, chore money and reading money. They love end of summer toy shopping!

Brady's turn: Never in my life have a met a more tender hearted giving sweet child. He loves and tries to mother everyone in this house. He worries when Ben is upset over something. He worries if the babies are sleeping longer than normal. He soothes others if they are hurt or can't find something. He tells me all the time how much he loves me and his dad. He always says, "Mom I love our babies so much." His actions speak far volumes above his words though. He can be reading and a baby will be right there with him. This school year was a rough one for him too because the amount of work was insane! We can thank the stupid STAAR testing and them testing two grades above grade level. Our kids would learn so much more if they weren't teaching to a test. Ya, can you tell I don't like this test. I have written so many letters our representatives about this and I was thrilled that Pearson was let go! Lots of changes for school coming ahead for the Stewart household (more on that in Brit's update). Brady is entering the fifth grade and this is his last year in Elementary. I am so sad about this because that means my son is growing up. We have to do open enrollment at their current school so I am happy he will finish in one place. He won't be going into a school district though for 6th grade and one hand I'm petrified and on the other relieved that he can learn at his own pace and not to a TEK standard. Brady is LOVING Karate. I found place nearby that is for homeschoolers and all the kids can take it together for a very reasonable price. Well, all the kids were in it but Ben decided he couldn't do it. Too much touching and it stressed him out. So he stays with his granny/babies during their karate lessons.

Now my only daughters turn, Miss Brit......  I need to back up a little. When we did open enrollment for her to the feeder school we knew there was a GREAT chance they would have no room for her. So that meant after much looking and decision making that she would need to go to our district middle school if she didn't get accepted. She didn't get accepted so we had enrolled her in our middle school. There were good and bad things about this school. The good was it was across the street from our house and it was easy for me to get to her with babies and such. That was the ONLY good thing about this school.We had so many problems. It took them two plus months to get her education plan in place and only finally did when we told them get it going or we're calling our attorney because LEGALLY have to give her this. They had to erase all her test and quiz grades for two months because they weren't given to her by the parameters her dad and I set up for her with the diagnostician. Things were finally moving along and sometime after Christmas we hit another snag. Just a little back information. Britney has static encephalopathy which in a nut shell is an unspecified brain injury. She was diagnosed with this around the age of 6. It is from all the abuse she sustained as a baby from her birth family.  Which means that even though she is 13 sometimes she isn't and she still has a bunch of catching up to to. To give you an example, when she was 6/7 her doctor told us that she was only coming in at a medium age of 3 yrs 8 months old and that it would take years for her to catch up to her actual age. She also has a hard time advocating for herself and is very literal. She also has a hard time with long term memory. So if you were to ask her if she had a good Christmas she would smile and say yes but if you asked her to give you details she can't. She also has a hard time with size perception. We have a big fridge and a bigger dorm type fridge for extra milk or cold drinks. If I said, "Hey go put this in the little fridge" she would stand between the two fridges trying to figure out which one is which. So now I tell her to go put it in the black or white fridge. Unfortunately, the kids at school took of advantage of this and bullied her to no end. We noticed a few things but then I got a call in April that changed everything. I'm not going to give major specifics but I will say that those little punks were not classy kids in the least little bit. They talked to my daughter with the filthiest of language and torturing her with sex questions. When she came home and told me everything that was said to her you just have no idea how angry we were. I'm so thankful her and I are so close for her to tell me these things. Besides the language and nastiness (for example asking her if she wants to be raped or how many ***** does she think she wants at one time) they talked in Spanish to her as she changed and used the word "peto" many times. You can look up peto, it's not nice. She was having a really hard time so we talked to the school counselor and got her enrolled in art therapy to work through everything that was said Plus this summer she is doing an all girl art enrichment activity for 8 weeks. She had such a hard time because she is used to being liked by everyone but being called "white girl" and all the other things took a toll. The last straw was when she came home and told us that a friend of hers said that a group of kids planned to beat her up after school the last day as she walked to our car. I don't know if that would have happened but after the year we have had why chance it. We tried to make lemonade out of lemons but we were done! Thankfully there were only two days of school left and we withdrew her immediately! We joined the Texas Homeschool Colliation Association to cover us legally and sent certified letters to the school. I still haven't figured out all the specifics but I am now a homeschooling mom to a 7th grader. I joined a homeschool local group and went to their yearly planning meeting for the entire fall/spring semesters. We have field trips planned to museums, theaters both in Dallas and Fort Worth, aquariums, book clubs, and holiday parties. I also enrolled her in a private fine arts academy for choir because I didn't want her to have to give up the one part of school she loves. She should continue with Karate in the fall after this summer course as well. Riley and I are attending a Home School workshop in July too. The plan right now is to learn doing this with Brit this coming year and then Brady can slide into homeschool too because my sweet blond tender boy is NOT going to that middle school. He will be an instant target and we are not going through this heartache again. She is excited about being at home and I am too. I think it will give us lots of time together and she will still have social interaction with other kids. I won't lie I'm terrified but the great thing is I think she will learn more this way without all the fluff. Also, here therapist thinks its a great idea for her. We are also waiting for an appointment with a neuro phychologist to get some further testing on her now that she is older so that we can know the full extent of her brain injuries so we can help her even more. Just a little bit about her, she is loving karate and is a girly girl who loves makeup, jewelry and clothes! She is so excited that she no longer has to wear uniforms!

So as you can tell this is why my absence from writing and updating has been great! My life is so busy trying to make sure all the kids needs are met and shuffling them from appt to appt. Despite all the craziness life is so good and we are all so happy. We have some fun things planned with the kids coming up. Monday is Riley's birthday so of course there is a small party. Then we have a trip planned to the Dallas Aquarium and a trip to Great Wolf Lodge! We decided to do local trips because with small toddlers it's a little difficult.

Here's some pictures:











Full house, full arms, full happy heart! -Kriss :)


Monday, March 9, 2015

Anniversary

Seventeen years ago I married the person I know God created just for me. There are so many ways to describe how I love him. He is the calm to my type A personality. He is my own personal comedian. He is my comfort and person I love to spend all my time with. I think sometimes he knows me better than I know myself. When I think about the last 17 yrs I think about all the different roads we have walked together, adoption and the birth of our twins being the two biggest. These two events brought us even closer. To stand there with him when a judge granted our petition to adopt or to have him by my head when our babies were born made me love him more than I can put into words. Sometimes I'll be thinking something and he will say it outloud. It's a joke for me to say, "Get out of my head!" when he does that. I feel so blessed to call him mine!! 

Saturday: 
We had a full date day planned!! Riley was so excited because he had made us plans to go to a four hour cooking class. Then it got cancelled and he was so disappointed!! I was too! We decided to just spend the day hanging out until our dinner reservations. We love overnight trips but we felt that leaving the grandparents with all five kids might be a little overwhelming for them right now. Plus we never sleep well other places and our bed is pretty hard to beat! We started the day at a place called Brewed. It was so cute and very urban chic! We decided to each get a plate and share it. We had bacon, eggs, biscuits, jalapeƱo grits, and chicken n waffles with maple thyme syrup. We also had there pot of pressed coffee with fresh cream. It was amazing!! I loved he decor! 


After breakfast we ran some errands. Riley ran in someplace for a few minutes and I stayed in the car. I entertained myself taking selfies lol

There was a Carters in the vicinity and Riley said we should go look at some summer clothes for the twins. Twist my arm!! He knew I had just sold their last summers wardrobe and needed some things before the heat hits. 

My one request for the day was to grab icecream. I have been counting calories, working out and eating a really lean diet. I hadn't had any icecream in three months. He said, "Ok but first I want us to run into another store so I can show you something. I had no idea where or what we were doing! He drove up to Busy Body's. It still didn't click. Then he said, "I picked out a new elliptical but I want to make sure you like it." I think I squealed!!


Our old elliptical has 13 yrs of miles on it and it squeaks so terrible that it drives me bonkers. We've tried to oil it a few times and it still doesn't work. I was so happy!! I loved it and it will be here in two weeks!! Talk about a wonderful surprise! I actually sold our old one today to the most adorable older lady. I told her it squeaked and she told me that once she took her hearing aids out she wouldn't hear it anyway. Lol!!! After we left the store for exercise equipment we headed straight for yogurt land!! It was our lunch so we had room for dinner! 

After icecream we walked around downtown, enjoyed the shops and each other's company until dinner time. We ate at Texas de Brazil for dinner! It's our favorite place! Although I had to pace myself because I can't eat like I used too and I didn't want to leave miserable. It was all so good!!!! Afterwards we headed home to put our kids to bed and watch recorded family feud episodes lol! We love that show!! Happy 17 years with my best friend and love!! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Emile Henry Bread Cloche

This Christmas my husband bought me the best gift....An Emile Henry Bread Cloche!!! It's been on my wish list awhile! He originally ordered it on Amazon but it delivered shattered. Then he ordered it at William Sonoma and it to delivered shattered. So then he went to the William Sonoma store and had it delivered directly to them. This one was a keeper! He said that he was panicked that it wouldn't arrive in time. They called him on Christmas Eve day that they had it!! I wondered what special errand he had that day! 

The bread cloche is amazing and worth every penny! It mimics a steam injector oven. Making hand made bread is so fun and tastes so good! No bread machines for me! The bread comes out with a beautiful flaky crust but tender inside. The way it works is you made your normal dough and let it do a 20 minute rise. Then you do the second rise in the bread cloche 45 minutes. Be sure to flour the bottom platter of the cloche well so the bread doesn't stick. Using a bread lame (much better than a knife) cut an X in the top and bake in the cloche. 



Mixing the dough with a bread wisk. 

Second rise (the lid goes on for 45 mins) 

Bread lame

Once baked!! Beautiful and perfect!! 


Monday, March 2, 2015

Texas hurry and bring Spring!!

Just when we thought we weren't going to have a bad winter or any school days to make up Texas went and threw us for a loop!! Last week we got freezing rain and the schools were able to make the call the night before. Let me tell you we had some happy children who got two excused days off from school (hello four day weekend)! I kept the boys home a third day (unexcused) because it was snowing and if it continued I really didn't want to get the babies out in it. I gave Brit the choice since we can walk to her school. She didn't want to lose her perfect attendance and her district had a two hour delay (11:20 start). So I threw the babies in their play area and let Brady babysit for the five minutes it took to walk her to the stop sign and watch her walk the rest. Her first period is a portable so I could see her walk in. Then I raced back. Brady is an amazing big brother and most his morning looked like this. 

On Thursday everyone went back to school! I was so happy my hair appointment didn't get cancelled!! I didn't want to have roots for my upcoming anniversary weekend! During my appointment though I started to feel really bad. I got hit with a sore throat and chills. I knew we had another storm system moving in but I also knew I had had strep at the beginning of the month. My ear acted like it was draining so I thought well it prob is this weather moving in and upped my normal dose of allergy meds when I got home. 
Here is my car selfie after my hair appointment. Be gone roots! 

Thursday night was a little rough because I was running fever and my throat killed. Friday morning I knew I better go to the doctor. Riley took the boys to school and ended up coming back home instead of going into work. He felt bad and decided working from home sounded better since he had no conferences or meetings. I was able to get ahold of our doctor as I was taking Brit to school (my doctor even answered the phone) and she said come at 10:30. When I got home I told Riley I had made an appt. At this point it had started to snow outside. Riley decided he better go to the dr too and was able to call and go in with me. My MIL was at my house with the twins and I was so happy because the day turned into one crazy mess!! We left around 9:45 and I'm glad we did because what normally takes 10 mins took all 45 minutes. The snow was falling like crazy. We got to our doctors office and sure enough both of us had strep. We snapped this fast selfie of us on our way out the door of the office. The picture does not convey how bad we felt. I didn't have on any makeup either which you know I'm sick if that happens. 
We had no idea that it would take almost THREE hours to get home (4-5 miles to our house). The snow was coming down and in downtown Ft Worth it was stacked! The schools started calling saying the boys would have a 1pm dismissal and Brit a 2pm dismissal. 
 
My FIL had managed to get out of downtown before it got this congested and went to my house to help with the twins. At 12:30 we called him and said can you go get the boys we are so stuck and won't make it across town in time. Thankfully he could get them. We literally pulled into Brits school right before the bell rung. We took a gamble and turned down a street that I knew would take us to a Main Street to get us home. We are pretty sure that one street saved us an HOUR of sitting time or my FIL would have been getting her too. By the time we got home we were sick and frazzled with five kids to care for. Thankfully the older kids occupied themselves with Wii and we tag teamed the babies. 

Now it's Monday and the boys/hubby are off to school and work. I still feel bad but hoping to get a few things done because this weekend is my 17th wedding anniversary and the start of spring break! Riley is home all next week and we need to sit down and plan our "stay-cation". I'm hoping the weather is nice so we can do several outings! 

Ok, I'm off. I hear the babies waking and I need to go see if Brit is ready for school (her school starts an hour and 20 mins later than the boys). 
-Kriss 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentines

Valentines weekend was so fun!! Riley surprised me by taking off on Friday and arranging a sitter for the twins!!! After the older kids went to school we headed to Waffle House and Costco. It was so nice to shop and just think about food choices lol! I know one thing... We must think about getting a second full size fridge. We currently have a French style fridge and the largest cubic mini fridge they make. It just isn't big enough for a family of seven and all the fresh product/yogurt/milk/eggs I buy. Must start thinking like a big family!! We also hit Sprouts so I could get strawberries and other fresh produce. I also picked up some Halo Top Creamery Lemon Cake a Icecream.... It's amazing and only 70 calories per 1/2 cup!! We were able to grab lunch too before our crazy Friday ballet evening started. I'm looking forward to next year when ballet is on another evening! 

Saturday morning Ben ran in first thing to our room to say Happy Valentines. Riley and I exchanged our small gifts. We usually only do small gifts because our anniversary is 21 days later. I fixed the kids cute heart shaped valentine cinnamon rolls and high protein yogurt parfaits. We had invited Riley's parents over for Valentines Dinner. His mom was charge of pies (chocolate and coconut cream) and I was in charge of everything chocolate. We just grilled out hamburgers but these burgers beat any burger we've ever had out.... Lightly toasted bun, patty, muenster cheese, bacon and Sweet Fire Relish we get from the farmers market.... Yum!!!! I set up the table all cute! We gave the kids an assortment of valentines candy. His mom gave the kids each a bag of after school treats and candy!! The kids crashed hard by bedtime! 

Sunday Riley took the older boys for a "man date" as my boys call it to the movies. Then to go buy running shoe because their feet won't stop growing! Brit and I had a date with this horrible thing called laundry! Both of us tackled it and had time to spare to watch a movie together before they got home. I sent Riley to the store for salad/spinach for the week and he came home with tulips for my kitchen window sill. He is always so thoughtful! I love him for it and much much more! 



Riley's gift to me!! It's perfect! 









The twins were so cute in their valentine pajamas but I gave up trying to photograph them! They move to much!! 



Ps: I don't blog as often as I'd like but I do Instagram daily! I've been working on fitness, healthy lunches/meals, motivation for me and my followers. Follow me! Say hi! Look me up under krissriley 
-Kriss :))












Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thirteen TEEN Birthday

had the hardest time deciding what I wanted to do for Brit's birthday!! Brits only requests were that it have aqua or teal colors thrown in amd that there be cake! I actually left it all a surprise until the day I put it out! I had to work on most of it during the week and put it away before she came home from school. I decided to go with a more grown up theme and do "blooms" because all I could think about is the young lady she is blossoming into. Making the tissue paper flowers was so fun and really added a huge pop of color! I was able to use a lot of items I already owned (yellow sheet, aqua fabric runner, some tissue paper, dishes). Only things I purchased for decorations was tissue paper, silver glitter paper, butterfly paper punch, poster board, candles and some scrap booking flowers to put on the cake. We ordered the cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes and I was so happy I didn't make it this year! The sign I channeled my inner painter...... I haven't painted with watercolors since elementary! 

Party Details: 
Cake : Nothing Bundt Cake 10in White Chocolate Raspberry
13 sign: Crayola Watercolor paint, poster board and gold acrylic paint 
13 glitter numbers & flower: glitter paper and tissue paper dahlia 
Flowers: tissue paper
Bottles: Sidral Mundet Green Apple soda (so refreshing!!) and a steal at .66cents (Hispanic Market)
Paper Goods: Hobby Lobby spring collection at 40% off
Aqua backdrop for sign: plastic table cloth to cover existing art
Butterfly's: Martha Stewart paper punch





I found these lemon cookies at Family Dollar and they were delicious! Loved the swirl detail! Added a raspberry for that extra touch. 

Scrap booking flowers really added to the cake

Granny's birthday is four days after Brits so we always celebrate her too! She got a mini bundlet to take home for later! 







The apple soda was a huge hit! 


I LOVED the pop of color from the paper goods!