Around Here: Week 46

Celebrating... my 34th Birthday today! Wyatt and I made a cake this afternoon and Josh and I will celebrate with date night after the kids are in bed.  Homemade pizza & a movie are calling my name.
I enjoyed reading this post that I wrote on my birthday last year.  I ended it saying: "For my 33rd year, I am hoping for: a healthy baby to join our family; our family to be reunited and living together somewhere that is the perfect fit for us; and for me to remember that everyday I'm here on earth is a gift.  Especially if that day is spent with the ones I love."  Talk about dreams coming true!

Feeling... proud of my boys.  This week I had my first parent/teacher conferences, and they are doing amazing.  They are working hard and learning and making progress.  Socially, they are listening to their teachers, showing respect to all the staff and making lots of friends.  Their transition from homeschool to public school could not have been smoother. I'm so grateful.

Reading... My Side of the Mountain to the twins at bedtime (psst-- don't tell Jack, but I bought him books 2 & 3 for Christmas!) and Bird by Bird, and Flight Behavior for book club.

Watching... Carly sign "more" and say "mama" and learn to crawl! She is doing it!!! She can also pull up on the couch and sit on her knees so she can reach more easily into her toy box.  The boys are AMAZED at her pulling up and Logan busted out the camera himself to capture it the other evening.
Speaking of capturing moments, when Jack saw Logan all snuggled up with Carly the other night, he grabbed by real camera, too and took some pictures. I love that they want to capture the moment when a certain feeling comes over them, just like their mama.

Wincing... as Carly tries standing (and falling) more.  She's got bruises all over and lets out the saddest, most offended cry when she crashes down. Poor baby!

Crying... cause we burned through every season of Blue Bloods and are now left show-less.  Suggestions?

Awaiting... results from Logan's EEG.  I'd sure like to hear some good news!

Loving... reflecting on all my blessings, and posting on Instagram/Facebook the things that I'm grateful for.

Doing... a fall puzzle that I ordered myself for my birthday. I do so love puzzles!

Laughing... when Wyatt saw one of his teachers outside school this week.  His mind was blown.  He stopped dead in his tracks, turned beet red and was speechless for some time.

Looking forward... to enjoying Thanksgiving with family over the long weekend!  It will be a nice reprieve from our normal weekends and I'm so looking forward to a giant piece of pumpkin pie!


I managed to bake cookies for Logan's school this week, but I didn't get to my Christmas letter or cards.  The boys had early release all week and it was all I could do just to get my regular errands done with them in tow. Mostly I just wanted to get them home and playing outside in the gorgeous weather we've been having. So I feel good even though I didn't meet my goals.

Next week I just want to stay on top of the laundry & work on my puzzle.  Every now & then, mama needs a break!



Around Here: Week 45

Our Ramona Girl

Our House

Reading... Flight Behavior and getting ready for our new book club discussion that starts Monday.

Organizing... the boys' room, Carly & Wyatt's room, and the closet in the bathroom.  It feels great! It's like I'm spring cleaning in reverse.  In preparation for winter setting in, we cleaned up the yard and tidied the garage as well last weekend.  It is fantastic. Now this weekend I just need to clean these organized rooms and we will be all set.

Preparing... for Logan's EEG that is out of town this afternoon.  Josh and I will be lugging all four kids with us because one of us has to drive, and the other has to help keep Logan awake on that long drive.  Poor kid was only allowed to sleep from midnight to 4am, which means in addition to a tired kid, we've got some tired parents as well.  Prayers for a quick trip (minus Carly crying) and good results on the EEG are welcome!

Counting... Carly's teeth-- we are up to six already!  Holy teething, Batman!  She went from none to six in a little over two months.

Hanging up... Wyatt's first hand-written pictures for Josh and me. "For dad" and "For mom" written in adorable kindergarten writing under a picture drawn of us, in stick figure, holding hands with Wyatt.  So sweet.  We are also enjoying his creativity.  When I received a puzzle in the mail, Wyatt begged me to keep the shipping box so he could do a project. Yesterday afternoon (100% independently) he turned it into this armor/robot thing he can put on. It's hilarious and adorable.

Encouraging... Carly to crawl.  Her hands know what to do, and she's in the right position, but we haven't yet got her legs doing what they should.

Breathing... deeply everyday on my walk to and from school with the boys. The weather has been lovely, the skies blue and sunny, and the trees have still been putting on a fabulous show for me.  I am feeling so blessed by this time of year, by our neighborhood, by my stay-at-home mom status and by this routine we have of walking to school together each morning.

Craving... more down time with my family.  I am taking time every morning to snuggle with Wyatt on the couch and read him a book, and I started reading My Side of the Mountain aloud with the twins.  That time with those sweet boys of mine who attend school all day is priceless.

Feeling... Exhausted. Just utterly exhausted. Teething, the time change and worry for Logan and life in general has me feeling so tired all.the.time.  Maybe next week I'll get some sleep!  In the mean time, coffee and Dr. Pepper alternated are keeping me going.

Happy... with accomplishing more this week thanks to my weekly goals.  I did more blogging than normal (even if it wasn't every day like I'd hoped), helped Josh label his donated classroom books, opened the kids' individual bank accounts and still have the weekend to finish organizing all my journals and write my pen pals.

This Week's Goals:

  • Write yearly Christmas card letter
  • Address Christmas cards
  • Bake "Thank you" cookies for the boys' school



Not Who I Want to Be

Last night I was replaying a terrible fight I had with Jack.  He did something he shouldn't have done, that really upset me, and I lost my temper. I yelled, said mean things, and walked away wishing I could take it all back and handle it like a grown up, not like a four year old.

It got me thinking back on all the things I regret as a parent, and the crazy thing is that they all have one thing in common.


It's never the kids acting out or embarrassing me that hangs over my head at night. Their misbehavior is to be expected and doesn't generally bother me longer than the incident itself. It's when I act out or embarrass myself that it lingers in my mind, hurting my heart.

I realized, with some significant clarity yesterday, that that's not who I want to be. I don't want to be the mom who yells, who loses her temper, who is mean or uncaring when the kids mess up, act out or make mistakes.  It doesn't make me feel better, this reacting... in fact in the end, it makes me feel worse.

Instead I want to be the mom who keeps her calm. Who is the eye of the storm. When we're running late, I want to be the general who gives calm orders to the troops to get back on track. When the kids spill milk, I want to be the mature mom who says, "Solve the problem," and carries on with the morning routine, not the one berating their child for a small mess.  When the boys lie or hurt each other, I want to calmly dole out a consequence, set clear expectations for future behavior and move on. I don't want to hurt my children's feelings or make them feel terrible about themselves because of something they did perhaps without a thought.

Monday this week was really hard on me.  My most recent post was started Monday.  I had a lot hanging over my head-- the election, the effects of the time change, Logan's upcoming EEG appointment and Wyatt crying at morning drop off.  I was emotional and longing for a change.

I am tired of fighting the same struggle.  I am tired of always trying to not yell.  I do know I've made progress from when I started in Alaska three years ago.  For the first three months living here, I hardly yelled at all.  It's just been the last two weeks where it was escalating. I think living in a house with a yard, sending the boys to school and being able to coparent with Josh has helped, but I want it to be a thing of the past permanently. When I'm frustrated with the kids I want my first reaction to be breathing, not hollering.


So using this post from September of 2013, I am going to focus on #5--controlling myself-- and using a sticker chart on my calendar to track progress.  I am going to talk quietly, kneeling if I need to, in order to get eye to eye, and use as few words as possible, not go on and on.  With the big boys hearing more swears and disrespectful talk from fellow students, I need more than ever to be the example they need of someone who speaks respectfully, positively and without swearing or yelling. So I am committing to being that example.

I feel hopeful that I can nip this bit of yelling in the bud and finally be rid of that negative part of my parenting.  It's been a long journey, and I'm ready to see the finish line.

"I will breathe.  
I will think of solutions.  
I will not let my worry control me.  
I will not let my stress level break me.  
I will simply breathe.  
And it will be okay. 
Because I don't quit."

-Shayne McClendon


Accepting It Is What It Is

The last few days I have felt aggravated. On edge. Bitchy. Unkind. Not to anyone in particular, but just inside. I haven't felt like myself.  As I reflected on these feelings, I found a few instances where I was feeling frustrated and out of control. 

1) Daylight Savings:
-I'm not getting any sleep.
-The kids are up at 5:30am now instead of 6:30am.
-We are all tired & cranky.
-And the kids are emotional.  Jack nearly refused his flu shot, which is totally out of character, and Wyatt cried at school drop off for the first time in a month and a half.

2) Feeling nervous about Logan's upcoming EEG:
-It's in another city, two hours from here.
-With no family in town, we have to haul all four kids with us there cause I don't want to drive alone.
-Even if I could leave the kids here with someone, I can't leave Carly that long since she doesn't take a bottle.
-Logan is only allowed four hours of sleep the night before, which means I am only going to get four hours of sleep the night before.  And one of us adults has to make sure he stays awake on the long drive to the test.
-I don't want the results unless they are good news, which is ridiculous, but that's how I feel.

3) The election:
-I wasn't fully happy with either candidate.
-It feels scary and beyond my control.
-I wish things were different regarding the electoral college but feel like there's nothing I can do to change that.

4) Wyatt crying at school:
-My heart wants to scoop him up and take him home.
-But my head knows that leaving him there assures him he's safe and that I trust everyone who cares for him there.
-I hate that he started crying again, all because of daylight savings stealing his normal sleep routine.

And from there, we loop back to #1 again.

As I looked at all the issues that were causing me stress and angst, I realized that truly there is not a thing I can do about any of them. I can't change daylight savings unless I want to show up an hour late to everything until spring. I can't take Logan's seizure away, and I can't in good conscience avoid this necessary doctor appointment.  I can't change who was chosen as our candidates and I can't change how the votes went down in America last night.  And lastly, I can't control Wyatt crying at school.  Some days are harder than others, and crying is how he deals with that. 

Basically, it's all out of my control and my resistance to accepting that it is what it is, is only making everything harder. Daylight savings exists.  Logan had a seizure. Trump is president elect.  Wyatt cries at school sometimes. Those are facts. Resisting those facts, wishing things were different than they are, is a waste of energy.  I can't control a lot of those outcomes.  The future looks daunting because of some of them. But that doesn't mean we've lost all hope. And I certainly don't need to borrow trouble imagining all the what-if's.  

Instead I need to remember this perfect, succinct quote from Anne Lamott:

"Whoever is present
are the right people.

Whenever it begins
is the right time.

Whatever happens is the only
thing that could have happened."
-Anne Lamott

My calm acceptance and the choice to respond in the best way I know how is the only way to get through these rough times.  I can't take away the fact that Logan needs an EEG and is going to be sleep deprived and maybe scared, but I can make sure he has his bubba and the comfort of a parent who loves him.  I can't change that Trump is going to be president, but I can pray for him and hope that he has exciting plans for America that may surprise me. I can't change daylight savings (unless it shows up on my ballot! in which case I am voting to throw it out!) but I can make sure those kids are in bed on time and encourage them to sleep a little longer each morning so they can adjust their internal clocks and stop waking me up!  I can also choose to take it one step further by noticing the good things in the same way I am noticing the annoying/concerning things.

Ending on a positive note, here are a few of those good things:

  • Wyatt reading his first full book (hooray for BOB books!)
  • Ramona curling up in my lap (I love a purring kitty!)
  • Carly clapping with her brothers (she seriously lights up!)
  • Morning snuggles with Wyatt (he couldn't be sweeter!)
  • Reading My Side of the Mountain with the twins at night (this book is right up their alley!)

Here's to having faith & accepting that it is what it is.


Good Daddy

This month of Thanksgiving, I am finding myself especially grateful for Josh and the amazing Dad that he is to our kids.  Last weekend he took the twins shooting (with the bb guns they got for their birthdays) and they had so much fun. Logan said it was his Triple Best day ever cause they got to go out to eat and shoot and spend time with Josh.

Around the house, he's always willing to play a game, throw the ball around or play catch. It makes me feel so blessed and happy.  Our kids are so lucky to have him as their dad.

Not only does he participate in life with them, he also sets an amazing example, working hard everyday to provide for us.  I hope that when they grow up, they can recognize how lucky they are!

(I also have to say, it still feels surreal --and magical-- to be living together, parenting our four beautiful children side by side.  Boy I missed him last year!)


Carly // Nine Months

Baby Shelly at 11 months
(with my brother, dressed as He Man)

Baby Shelly
Playing Peek A Boo with my mom
Wyatt at 9 months
Jack & Logan, 9 months
Jack, 9 months
Logan, 9 months

While home for a visit I got to look through my mom's photo albums of my infancy.  It was so fun to look and compare.  While looking I snapped pictures of a few that really reminded me of Carly.  Then once I got home, I looked at pictures of the twins and Wyatt at 9 months for more comparisons.  In my opinion, she still looks like the twins' triplet.  In some pictures, it was hard to tell which twin was which because honestly they both just looked like Carly to me! (Especially in sleeping pictures!)

She is currently rolling all around, can go from sitting up to laying down and back again.  She is awake usually twice a night with a 6:00pm bedtime and a 10pm and 3am wake up to nurse.  Her two naps are at 9am and 1pm and I can't wait for her to transition to only one nap because currently taking the boys to school and picking them up from school interrupts her sleep.

Her top teeth are coming in-- she's got both top front teeth, one front side tooth, and two bottom teeth.  She loves to eat food from my plate and has baby food mastered.  She loves cheerios and picks up garbage off the carpet to eat as well.  It's hard!

Other than eating stuff off the carpet and a few cranky days teething here & there, Carly is really a delight. She adores her brothers and lights up when she sees them.  She loves our cats, and will squeal when they pass her and cry when we scold them.  Josh and I both can't wait for her to start talking. In the mean time I think I'm going to get started teaching her some basic signs.  We taught the twins at this age and they really took to it!



Around Here: Week 44

Breathing... a sigh of relief after seeing Logan's pediatrician.  He's been released to regular activity and we will follow up with an EEG to monitor his brain activity, but we are thinking that his seizure was a one time event caused by a concussion from a head injury.  Praise the Lord.

Loving... everyone's reaction to Carly's Cabbage Patch costume. Oh man she was scrumptious!

Hating... Carly's teething attitude. Poor baby is GRUMPY!

Reading... Bird by Bird (still) and Believing God by Beth Moore and getting ready to start Flight Behavior, our new book club book, this weekend! Please join us on Facebook!

Laughing... that one of Josh's students dressed up as him for Halloween.  They look just alike and I think it was my favorite costume of the year!

Using... the Fiesta ware my mom sent home with us and smiling every time. It's so nice to have more plates and it's a bonus that they were my mom's, so they mean a lot to me.

Checking out... new blogs thanks to a post from my friend Ashley.  It's always refreshing to find new inspiration and I'm grateful for some coming my way this week.

Enjoying... a quick weekend trip to see my parents & everyone else back home.  It was such a great trip, even the ten hours (total) in the car were fine.  It was my first trip home since we moved in August, and I think I'm going to love living so close!!!  Sure beats four planes over twelve hours!!!

Starting... a daily gratitude post on Instagram (& Facebook) for the entire month of November.  It's so good for my soul to remember to be thankful and the daily posts are a perfect way to do just that.

Decorating... for Thanksgiving. I love November (it's my birthday month!) and the fall colors thrill me.

Impressed... with Wyatt's learning.  He is a sponge and everyday he just soaks up more knowledge. I am so proud of him, and so grateful for the amazing school he is at.

Remembering... the baby I lost two years ago.  I feel like I have finally come to peace about losing that baby, in that I no longer blame my body for the loss.  It's just part of life, and for whatever reason, that baby wasn't meant to join our family.  I am okay with that, and feel so blessed to be where I am today.


In addition to my weekly update, filling you in on life at the Cunningham ranch, I'm also going to be adding new weekly goals for the following week.  As I'm sure many of you moms can relate, the hours my kids are in school seem to pass in the blink of an eye and I'm not getting nearly as much done as I would like to be. I think being specific about what I want to accomplish each week, as well as specifying to myself what day I am going to accomplish each goal will help me not waste my precious time alone.

Next week I want to:
Blog every day
Organize my journals
Label Josh's classroom books
Open kids' bank accounts
Write back to penpals/Send pictures


Quote I'm loving:

is the root 
of all heartache."


Halloween 2016

Jack the SWAT cop, Wyatt the Minion, Logan as Finn from Star Wars
and Carly the Cabbage Patch doll

This Halloween was really fun for our boys-- they got to wear their costumes to school and all had class parties.  Then after dinner they got to go trick or treating all over the neighborhood.  As we were leaving the house, this crazy collection of crows circled over our house. It was really creepy & the perfect start to our Halloween night.

 The boys had fantastic manners and made me so proud out trick or treating.  

Carly didn't last the whole time, so her and I headed home early to put her to bed, but I was happy that at least for a while we all got to go together.


A few days before Halloween we carved pumpkins.  It was the first time the twins did the whole thing themselves.  They were so proud!  Wyatt dug most of his guts out, too!

It was a great Halloween!!!