Around Here: Week 29 {2018}


Celebrating... Josh's 35th birthday (he's finally the same age at me, at least for the next four months!) with cake and ice cream this week since he was out of town on his actual birthday.  Carly was thrilled to pick out a box cake & frosting for me to make, plus monster candles for daddy and to have ice cream after dinner.  We sang and she was so proud of him for blowing out his candles.  Her enthusiasm for life is my favorite and I try to let it be contagious.

Watching... our flowers out front bloom and our garden in the backyard grow.  We have a bright pink dinner-plate hibiscus that is our yard's pride & joy.  It's absolutely stunning while in bloom, and the very first flower opened today.  We are so happy to see it thriving another year.  Meanwhile, our garden is bursting with life!  We've got two corn husks on each stalk of corn; pumpkin plants coming in nicely; cucumber being harvested on the daily; peppers being harvested weekly; and the cutest tiny watermelons trying to grow that you ever did see!  The next thing we are watching for is tomatoes.  We're hoping that harvest will start soon! I never imagined I'd be a gardener, but Wyatt has such a keen interest, and Josh's parents are avid gardeners, so I'm learning right alongside him.  It's been really fun!

 Suffering... through my last dental appointment, finally.  I broke a tooth a while back, eating an orange (of all things!) and now that it's fixed, I am done with the dentist (at least for a while).  Hallelujah!

Visiting... my sister and her kids while Josh had the three boys out of town for Grandma's camp.  I was the "fun aunt" and brought a box of Transformers and my sprinkler so they could have some fun even though I didn't bring my usual van full of playmates.  While I was there I did about five loads of laundry since my washing machine has been out for almost four weeks.  It was awesome to get all the laundry done while the boys were gone (and Josh did the laundry they traveled with at his mom's house, so for a while we had all clean laundry when they got home!)
My sister's baby girl is nine months old and is crawling like crazy and pulling up on everything.  She's crazy mobile and so adorable.  Carly isn't quite sure what to make of her, since she's never around anyone younger than her. She's always like, 'Eww! Why's she putting that in her mouth?!?" We have to explain that's what babies do. Haha!

Reading... and finishing Disappeared and Four Seasons in Rome Disappeared was so good to listen to (I have loved all of Francisco Stork's books that I've read!) and Four Seasons in Rome was okay.  There were some gems of quotes in it, and I very much identified with his parenting newborn twins, but other parts felt very slow, and I'm not in a "slow read" part of my life.  I want a PAGE TURNER!
When I finished Four Seasons in Rome started This Is How It Always Is and finished it in two days.  Two days!  It was so, so good.  Absolutely the top book I've read so far this year.  Right up there with The Nightingale.  They are currently #1 & #2.  When I finished that, I started Ghosted, which came this week, from Book of the Month.  I am seriously loving my Book of the Month books!  It's so fun to choose which one I want, and you can get additional books for only $9.99! 

Cleaning... the van and making it "mine" even though it's not the coolest "mom car".  I am working on "owning it".  This is the phase of life I am in.  I have four kids and that necessitates a "mom van".  So I stuck my absolute gem of a sticker that Ashley sent me on there ("Book Babe"- see above) and hung a sparkly diamond from my rear view mirror.  Both make me smile when I load my clan into the van each day to go to the pool, and that alone makes it worth the effort it took to clean her up and make her mine.  What I love most is that each of my boys individually came to me and told me they loved my "Book Babe" sticker and that they thought it fit me perfectly. So sweet!  (And thanks Ashley, that one tiny sticker makes me oh-so-happy!)

Swimming... with the kids at the water park three times this week.  Even with Josh there, I felt spread thin trying to keep an eye on all of them, and it was hard to come down in the evening after feeling like I had spent two or three hours on high alert, counting to four repeatedly. (one, two, three, four. one, two, three, four.)
It was so hot on Tuesday, 102 degrees I think, but by Thursday it had cooled to only 87 and boy can you tell the difference!  Especially if there is even a slight breeze when you're getting out of the pool!
For the most part, we all six hang out in the regular pool together, jumping in, diving after diving toys and horsing around.  But we also hang out in the lazy river,  let the boys go on the big slide and the diving boards, and sometimes follow Carly over to the little kid slides.

Anticipating... Logan's seizure the entire time we were at the pool Tuesday.  I just had a feeling, starting before we even left the house, that he would have a seizure that day while we were there.  Sure enough, I saw him on the pool deck with Jack, and I could tell by his body language that he was having a seizure, so I swam over and took him to our spot to sit down for a bit.  Other than a headache, he recovered super quick and was fine the rest of the day, but that was the first time I've ever had a premonition that he was going to have a seizure.  I'm glad I listened to it and stuck extra close.
I had to remind myself after that day that while I am always trying my best with the kids, I am not, in fact, Super Mom.  I am only human.  And I can only do so much. 

Talking... to my counselor on Friday about how to be more confident and feel more capable as an adult.  And do you want to know his advice? Know my limits
Okay, universe. Or God. Or whatever.
Message received:  Shelly is not invincible.  Shelly is not all powerful.  Shelly cannot DO ALL and BE ALL.  I am a finite being who is not, in fact, responsible for protecting my offspring from all of life's experiences and/or harm, despite my insane desire to do so. 
As my anxiety has revved up this week, my thoughts have been swirling around inside me.  Mom guilt mixed with anxiety for next school year mixed with worry for the future mixed with some sadness about the past... And as I continue to work through those emotions (by journaling) I am going to see where his advice ("knowing my limits") can apply to help me feel more capable and confident in my life.

Grateful... for the washing machine being fixed (finally!) after four weeks without it.  I'm so happy to be doing laundry at home, as opposed to the laundromat or my neighbors or my sister's house.  It's just so much more convenient here!  I've never been so happy to stand in front of the couch at 10:00pm folding laundry in my life!

Giggling... at nap and bedtime with Carly.  Remembering to "Linger Longer" with her.  Read more books, have more snuggles.  Also just enjoying her.  Dressing her, doing her hair, talking to her.  When we snuggle, she often rubs my back, and it's just the sweetest.  She also tells me she's "So proud of me!" when I do things like wipe her off or put things away.  It's adorable.   I am also loving how she talks.  She says "swim soup" for swim suit and  "fanks" for thanks.  My sister and I tried out a new hair-do she found on Pinterest (that I am loving!) and Josh is working with her on her ABC's.  (He's such a teacher at heart!)  Thanks to Team UmiZoomi she already knows most of  her numbers.  She has warmed up to Josh putting her to bed at night, which is a huge relief to me (phew!) and would love if we would read her ten books at bedtime.  She loves books just like her mama!

Being... visited by the tooth fairy twice this week as both Logan & Wyatt lost teeth.  For Logan, he lost the same tooth Jack lost two weeks ago, one of his last baby teeth.  But for Wyatt, it was his very first lost tooth, and I have to admit, I cried.  I am so sad to see his sweet, perfect smile go.  He, however, is ecstatic that he is finally losing teeth after seven years (many kids he knows have been losing teeth since before kindergarten, and he's about to start second grade!) so luckily his enthusiasm made it easier to bear this bit of "growing up before my eyes".

Seeing... the doctor to get the stitch removed from the back of Wyatt's head that was put in there a week ago in the ER after a "pillow fight gone wrong" accident with the twins.  He fell during said pillow fight and hit his head on the rocking chair, splitting the back of his head open, requiring one little stitch to hold the skin together.  It healed beautifully and Wyatt was very brave getting the stitch out.

Walking... everyday, even when I don't feel like it, because I know it's good for my mental health, and my anxiety has been a bit high as I have been adding meeting dates and school start dates to my August calendar for Josh (he's a teacher).  Suddenly I'm aware that summer is going to end someday and school is approaching and I am feeling unprepared when it comes to planning the school year for both Wyatt and Logan medically.


"This is how it always is.  You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what's good and right and then to be able to make that happen.  

You never have enough in formation.  You don't get to see the future.  And if you screw up, if with your incomplete, contradictory in formation  you make the wrong call, well, nothing less than your child's entire future and happiness is at stake.  It's impossible.  It's heartbreaking.  It's maddening.  But there's no alternative."

by Laurie Frankel



Around Here: Week 28 {2018}


Reading... and finishing The Book of Essie, The Stranger in the Woods and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.  I started Disappeared on audio and am finishing Four Seasons in Rome.  Then I plan to start This Is How It Always Is.  I got to choose my Book of the Month book for July and I chose Ghosted.  I also chose a bonus book, Goodbye, Vitamin, which I have heard good things about.  I can't wait to get my hands on them!

Feeling... so proud of my boys for forming a book club together with me.  It was all their idea, and they are hoping to read 600 minutes total by the end of summer.  They named it The Cunningham Book Club, or "CBC" for short.  We aren't reading the same books, we just get together to read at 7:00pm (bedtime) every night in the boys' room.  I bring whatever I'm reading and they bring what they're reading and we snuggle together and read.  It's so enjoyable. 

Swimming... at the pool with the kids twice this week before they headed out of town for Grandma's Camp.  I just love the relaxed vibe at the pool.  They play music over the loudspeakers, and the warmth of the sun makes the water so inviting... it's just my favorite place to be with the kids in the summer.

Laughing... hysterically as I tried to get Jack into my lap so I could hold him like a baby after bedtime stories one night when he was pretending to be asleep.  Carly thought it was hilarious and later Josh and I commented how we really can't believe it's been a decade since we rocked him and Logan with bottles in their mouths to sleep, and now they're both nearly as tall as I am. 

Enjoying... ten days seizure-free for Logan.  He went from Sunday July 1st until yesterday, July 12th, without a seizure.  Unfortunately, he had a seizure at Grandma's camp.  He called out that he was going to have one, Jack helped him sit down, and then he began having it.  It lasted two to three minutes and he recovered quickly. 
The good news is that he was having seizures every two or three days in June.  So going ten days is a huge improvement.  And today is the last day he will take his Trileptal (the old medication he was on after his first seizures back in early 2017), so hopefully the seizures will cease after this.  The Trileptal is not a good match for the new kind of seizures he's experiencing.

Grateful... for neighbors who let us do laundry (and even fold it for us!) at their house.  What a blessing as we wait for our washer to be fixed.  The part arrived last week, but the appliance place didn't have an appointment available until Monday. sigh.  I'm sure Josh could fix it, but we have appliance insurance, so we have to go through the company.  I am trying to remain optimistic... but nearly a month without a washer is a long time for a family of six!!!

Hitting... 169 pounds on the scale and feeling amazing about being in the 160's.  I have now lost 31 pounds since January and am very proud of myself.  Walking everyday and working hard to not emotional eat is the key! 

Fixing... up little areas around my house to bring me joy as I finally work through week three of Ordinary Magic, which my sister-in-law gifted me back in June.  I started by putting my rock collection in mason jars, instead of the old wipes container they had been in.  Now every time I walk past them, they make me smile.  I also cleared a shelf in my bedroom for putting my finished books this year onto.  Next on the agenda is clearing off my nightstand and hanging some photographs in my bathroom.  Just creating little spaces of joy throughout my home.

Reading... stories to Carly from the regular bookshelves, not just her bookshelf.  It's so exciting to read her new books.  I love watching her face take in the pictures. She often asks questions, or will choose the same book a night or two in a row, so she can get familiar with the new story.  Her current favorites are We're Going on a Bear Hunt and Big Smelly Bear.

Letting... Carly try using her potty when she asked this week.  She even actually peed in it!  I gave her m&m's and she was so excited to tell her brothers about it when we Facetimed them.  I'm not sure she's ready to try potty training full time, but I was proud of her for wanting to try it, and relieved she's not scared of it.

Loving... watching my children sleep.  Something about seeing them all curled up with their sweet little heads on their pillows, clutching their favorite stuffed animals, snuggled in their blankets, just sets my heart at ease and makes my mama heart beat a little slower.



Around Here: Week 27 {2018}

Reading... The Book of Essie (and really wondering what is going to happen!) and listening to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (and wondering how she is going to turn out!).  I am really enjoying both.  I also wrote two blog posts this week about books: One is a mid-year check in for my 2018 reading goals; and the other is my June Books post with mini-reviews of the eight books I read last month.

Sleep training... Carly again after getting home from vacation where she slept in bed with us.  She has been having nightmares (in one there were bears that she accidentally set free when she touched their paws through the cages and when they escaped, they wanted to snuggle her.  Then they were in her crib.  By the time I got in her room, she was straddling her crib like it was a horse and screaming, "Get me outta here!"  It was totally traumatizing! In the other, a little girl was putting wasps on her eyes and she couldn't see because of them.), not wanting to go to sleep and not wanting us to shut her bedroom door.  Needless to say, there have been some sleepless nights and looong bedtime routines in the Cunningham household as of late, but I think we have finally turned a corner and she's back to falling asleep quickly, thank the Lord!

Enjoying... being job free.  I honestly had no idea how much stress my job was adding to my life until Josh told me I could quit.  And now, just being a mom, I feel like I won the lottery.  I am so much more carefree and less stressed about time and sleep and everything!  It's ridiculous! I am able to read bedtime stories and linger longer with the boys at bedtime to talk and have heart to hearts (my favorite) instead of rushing them to sleep so I can go to sleep so I can be awake at 4:00 in the morning.  We can all feel the difference.

Playing... in our backyard.  The weather has been far more mellow this year than usual, only in the low eighties, so we've been mostly hanging at the house, not heading to the pool, each afternoon.  The kids put the sprinkler under the trampoline and fill up water balloons, they have squirt gun fights and I set up a "water table" of sorts for Carly with camp wash basins.  I read while they play.  It rocks.  Tons of fun, but with all the comforts of home.  It's just the best.

Allowing... the boys (and even Carly) to make their own pizzas for movie night last weekend while Josh was out of town helping his parents work on their house to prepare it for sale so they can move here (!!!).  They had so much fun choosing what they wanted to make (I'll be doing a post with pictures soon) and I felt like a fantastic mom for saying "yes" to fun.

Solo-momming... it while Josh was out of town for a few days helping his parents.  I worked really hard before he left to make sure that I could be a fun mom while he was gone, and we ended up having a great time!  Each night one of the boys got to stay up late with me and watch a movie and have a special treat.  They also got to sleep with me in my room.  I love that they still like spending extra time with me, and I cherish those memories.

Helping... our in-laws with their land and their new "tiny house" as they are preparing to move here.  We're hopeful they'll be here full time before summer is over (I cannot WAIT to have grandparents in town!) and it's been so amazing to witness all the work they have done both to their old house, to their new land and to their new temporary "tiny house" that will be "home sweet home" while they wait for their dream house to be built.  Josh and his brother, along with their nephews and sister, spent the week helping his parents build the shop, seen above with the picture of Logan who fell in the pit while playing on the land when Grandma and I were at the laundromat doing load after load of laundry.  The shop is huge, and the work they're doing is monumental.  They are such hard workers!

Washing... all our laundry at the laundromat on Thursday this week when Josh volunteered to take the boys with him to the land so Carol (his mom) and I could take just Carly with us to get all the laundry done.  I have been without a washing machine for three weeks now and I am just about to lose my mind.  I told Josh that I am going to be so grateful to do laundry in my own house, whenever I want, once the washer is fixed!!!  In the meantime, I am so grateful for the laundromat, and also for our neighbors who let us do emergency loads there (at least three a week) when something pops up between visits to the laundromat.

Walking... everyday this week with the kids.  It's been so good for my body & soul to walk (it's nearly two miles) each day, and the kids seem to enjoy it as well.  I am more patient, more kind and have more energy when we go after breakfast each morning.  I walk, pushing Carly in her stroller, and the boys ride roller blades, scooters or bikes, circling back and always beating me home.  They're so speedy!

Witnessing & recording... Logan having a seizure last Sunday.  Apparently as it began he was able to say, "Get her!" to Wyatt who yelled to me that Logan was having a seizure. So I ran into the room and began videoing so I can show the seizure to his neurologist who hopes to be better able to diagnose the location where these newer, absent seizures are beginning.  He has now been five days seizure free, and is down to only 300mg 2x a day of the Trileptal (read all about his recent neurology visit and medication change here) so we are hopeful that weaning him off the Trileptal is exactly what he needs now that he's on the right dose of Lamictal. 

Celebrating... the fourth of July with family, family, family!  Josh's parents, brother & nephew, as well as my parents, sister and nephews and niece were all here to help us enjoy the day, and what a fun day it was! Good food, water balloons, a game of Uno, Pop Its for the kids... just so much fun!!!

Taking... Wyatt to the emergency room at 7:00am Friday morning after waking up to him screaming in the living room and the twins running into the room yelling, "Mom! Wyatt's bleeding! Turns out he and the twins were having a really fun pillow fight until he fell and hit his head against the rocking chair.  The force of it split the back of his head open, and it was bleeding quite a bit.  Josh cleaned it (I couldn't do it because it was hurting him) as Wyatt nearly hyperventilated and asked repeatedly, "Am I going to be okay?" and as we got it cleaned up, I just couldn't tell how deep it was, so I told Josh I thought I better take him in.  The ER doc said we could have left it, and it probably would have been fine, but with all the summer activities (sweating, swimming, helmets) it will have a lower chance of getting infected with that one little stitch in there.  So she numbed it with some gel, and then stitched him up.  He was scared, and there were lots of tears, but he was also so very brave.  I was a very proud mama. 

Going... to the pool Friday with my parents and sister, along with her three kids.  Oh boy did we have a lot of fun!  All seven of our combined kids are fish, and they had a blast!  With four adults, we were easily able to divide and conquer and keep all the kids (mainly Logan, Carly & Roxanne's baby) safe.  The kids all listened really well and stayed close to their designated adults, which made me grateful, and we all ended up having a lot of fun.  I'll have more pictures coming in a post soon.  I LOVE taking pictures at the pool.  All the water and bright swim suits and smiling kids- what's not to like?!?

"There's two of them?! Are you kidding me?"  ;)