Ayden’s update

I figured this was kinda long for a Facebook update 🙂
Some of our friends and family know that we’ve had some behavior issues with Ayden. Some people have shrugged it off as just him being a boy and others just disagree with how we’ve decided to handle his behavior. I’ve noticed ADHD tendencies with him, but we were doing ok with controlling it some with diet and making sure he gets outside or has ways to get his energy out. In the last few months though, his behavior has gotten worse and to the point that we were at a complete loss as to what to do. I finally made the hard call to the behavioral health clinic and asked to have him evaluated. That was our appointment we had for him last week.

We sat down with a social worker to go over the pages and pages of paper work I had to fill out for him. She automatically saw the ADHD tendencies and said that with just a glance over the paper work and going over our notes at the end, that she is thinking that there will be 2 or 3 other diagnoses added to that. I’m not a huge fan of having him “labeled” but the entire reason we went is because we know there is a problem and that we need to figure out a way to help him. This appointment was more of a “pre evaluation” and after talking with the social worker for almost an hour, she agreed he definitely needs the referral to be fully evaluated. So now we are on the waiting list to see a child psychiatrist and should be about 6-8 weeks; in the meantime, we’ll have sit downs with her every other week, unless he’s having a bad week, we can call and get an appointment to be seen sooner.

I have a feeling our family has some major changes coming up. We are choosing to NOT medicate him at all and we will work with diet changes, counseling and Ryan and I’s approach to his behavior to try to help him adjust. At this point, I’m not sure if his recent downhill slide with his behavior is the fact that he knows things are about to change with a new baby coming so soon, if it’s because of a growth spurt/ age/ maturity or just a stage he’s going through. Any thoughts, prayers or words of encouragement are greatly appreciated ❤


Landyn’s update

Here’s an update on Landyn:

I’m not sure I ever posted our entire story with him. About 2 years ago, Ryan was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Around the same time, we noticed that Landyn started having belly aches an awful lot. We were on a gluten free diet for 3 months, and our dr. over seas decided to test him for a gluten intolerance. We did the blood work, then I went home and researched. After doing a bit of reading, I realized that if we were going to test for a gluten intolerance, he had to have gluten in his system. The test came back in the normal range, but almost 4 times higher than Ayden’s low number. So I asked about the validity of the test, seeing as how he was on a gluten free diet for a few months. The first dr. assured us that the test was valid, but after pressing, another dr. looked into it and agreed that he needed to actually have gluten in his system in order for a valid test. So we gave him gluten for a month and had him retested, number was higher and borderline high (something like 15+ was high and his number was 14. Something). The dr. assured us he did not have a gluten intolerance, and his test was completely normal. As a mom, I went with my gut instinct and we pulled gluten from his diet anyway. And he felt better.
This was about 2 years ago. He was good for a year. About a year ago from today, he started having belly aches again. The first time it ever happened, we were eating ice cream and he started crying and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I had no idea what triggered it and thought nothing of it. After 3 or 4 months, I noticed it happening more often, he would be eating and just stop and be in tears because his stomach hurt. So we started to play with ideas and looking at what it could be. Asked his family dr. at his 6 year check up and she had no answers, but was going to look into what other food allergies could be associated with gluten intolerance. Then we moved. His belly aches were hit and miss and I could find no pattern. But they were increasingly getting worse and happening more frequently. We made a sick call visit to our new family dr. here about 2 months ago and they sent us immediately for an ultrasound. There was quite a bit of inflammation and fluid built up around his organs, but no obvious issues. The family dr. thought maybe a virus since his lympth nodes were swollen, but all blood counts came back good. So we got a referral to a specialist. She asked that we put him back on gluten for a month, do some blood work, urine sample and an endoscopy.
I was so unbelievably torn. I did NOT want to give him food that I knew would upset his belly. But he was already eating gluten free and still in pain. So we did. I wanted to start pro biotics, but again, the dr. asked me to hold off on changing anything that would help him, only until all the blood work was done, endoscopy and biopsies were done. So for a month, we indulged him in all things gluten. And he didn’t seem to have an upset stomach quite as much. I was a little surprised and started to wonder if maybe he didn’t have a gluten insensitivity after all. We really didn’t change anything else in our diet, except that I started giving the kids raw milk from a local farm.
Last night he was in pain again. I let him eat an English muffin for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and a donut. I thought for sure, that it must be the gluten. We also stopped at the store yesterday to pick up milk and the kids drank almost ½ a gallon yesterday.
We had his follow up appointment today- All biopsies came back negative and gluten intolerance test came back ok. He does have chronic inflammation in 2 places in his intestinal tract. No reason for it except that it’s there. And the huge surprise to us- he’s lactose intolerant!!! We had no idea. Over this last month, he was feeling some what better, we had switched to raw milk. So he was still drinking milk regulararly and eating smoothies that I made, but it was all raw milk. After some looking, I found that raw milk might actually be ok for him to drink. The dr. explained to use that LACTOSE (ending in OSE) is the milk enzyme that our body needs to break down. And LACTASE (ending in ASE) is the enzyme we need. Since raw milk naturally has lactASE in it and lactaASE is the enzyme that helps to break down the lactOSE, it is easier to digest. In the pasteurization/homogenization process, this lactASE enzyme is killed off. So the milk we buy in stores does not have the lactase to help break down the lactose in the milk and that’s why Landyn was in so much pain last night after drinking milk.

Where that puts us now- the dr. gave him a prescription to help the inflammation. We’re not going to use it yet though. We will adjust his diet, limit the gluten (even though tests were normal, gluten still seems to upset his tummy and it’s just something we don’t need in our diet anyway) and use only raw milk and almond milk. He’s also been taking pro biotics, which his dr. was happy with today. Now that we know what it is causing his upset stomach, we can avoid it and hopefully that will also help to eliminate the inflammation in his intestinal tract.

Shrek Musical- Dutch Apple Dinner Theater

Our kids love seeing live shows and performances. I love taking them to shows because I love them too! We have a dinner theater that’s local to us now, Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, and I was excited to see Shrek the Musical for this summer. This is something I have been really looking forward to with the kids and took consideration when we bought tickets; we did a weekend afternoon. Our kids go to bed pretty early and I didn’t want to risk a 7:30pm show and have them not enjoy themselves. In the end, we ended up going twice!! Our first show, we bought tickets for and picked a 12:30 afternoon show. A few days after the show, I noticed Dutch Apple Diner posted a Facebook coloring contest for a family pack of tickets. I asked the boys and of course they wanted to go again so we printed the pictures and turned them in. The 2nd show we went to ended up being a 7:30 evening show.


Both shows were fun! For the 7:30 show, I made sure to have them nap since I knew we’d be out pretty late. You go about 1 ½ hours before the show for lunch or dinner. The buffet was good; the kids raved about the home style mac n cheese. The Turkey Hill ice cream bar and the large variety of baked from scratch cakes to choose from were also favorites.

The show itself was a musical, but we were expecting digital musical effects. Ryan was impressed when he noticed there was seating for a small band “in” the stage area and sure enough, it was all live music. The show itself  was fantastic. At first, I had my eyes on the kids and was making sure they were having fun and enjoying themselves- of course they were! Being Shrek, there was some burping and farting humor and the boys couldn’t quit laughing. This was our first time in the theater so we weren’t sure what to expect as far as etiquette- I did not want to be the only one in there with kids laughing hysterically and thankfully we weren’t. Everyone was so friendly from the people sitting around us to the people who worked there. We had a short intermission where Ayden, while standing in line for the bathroom, informed the sweet old lady who was talking to him that his favorite part so far was the “burp and fart song” and again, thankfully, I heard the other people around us giggle and a few other kids agree.

All in all, the show was above and beyond what I would have expected. The entire experience, dinner, the theater, the staff, was a very enjoyable time and we will be doing it again. It was about 4 hours from the time we sat down to eat until we left and the kids sat through the entire thing and had fun. Bryson took a nap right before intermission and slept until it was over. The only one thing that could have made it more enjoyable for us was if we would have had access to a high chair. For both shows, we were the only family with a baby so I’m going to guess they don’t get many babies in to see shows. But a high chair, at least to use during the dinner portion, would have been a big plus.


Shrek was one of the characters that didn’t come out after the show so we improvised


Bryson enjoying some dinner before the show


After the first show, they knew what to expect for the 2nd one and Ayden was excited for it to start.


As thrilled as they look, the kids did truly enjoy themselves. This was about 11:00 at night so they were a bit tired.


Same thing. Ayden loved the gingerbread man (as you can see by his puppet he got), but they were pretty tired at this point.


Summer vacation, unpacking and minimizing

Landyn’s school year is “done”. Because we had him in a charter school and pulled him out to home school, we now have to file the affidavit and do a portfolio to be evaluated each year. I was anxious since this was our first year doing it and we had our portfolio review and interview last week. Our evaluator was really nice and easy going. She took the time to look through it and explain some of the sections to me and what the school would/ would not be looking at. I was adding stuff to our portfolio up until the hour before we walked out the door. I had no idea what to expect or what was expected of us. Thankfully, I over did it J Our evaluator was happy with the amount of work we showed, the extra’s we added and assured me our 3 page books list was more than extensive for 1st grade. We are “done” with home school stuff for the summer. Kind of. I promised Landyn we’d go 2 weeks with no school work at all. And we probably won’t do much work book work this summer, unless they ask (which happens sometimes). Some things that we do are considered as “school” even though we don’t always count it that way- we did a garden this year and have talked a lot about seeds, plants, what they need to grow, why some bugs are good… it’s an entire science unit in one of their books but we haven’t approached it that way.

One rule I made was that they can each watch one cartoon in the morning then the tv is off. After some fussing this morning, they are both sitting at the table making mine craft books. As much as we love this weather, we love to swim and the pool doesn’t open until noon. What are some rules at your house for summer vacation? What do you fill your mornings with (besides just telling them to go play in their toy room all morning)?

We’ve been in our new house now for all of 2 ½ months. And still have boxes to unpack. This entire move has been exhausting and more so than last year. We still have boxes that have managed to make it from storage to storage without being unpacked. Boxes from Germany that were only partially unpacked when we were in the Azores, made it to Huntingdon and sat in that house unpacked. And now we’re going through EVERTYHING. Every single box. Every single item. We have a 2 car garage and right now, it’s ½ full of stuff that is our “yard sale” stuff. And more boxes to go through and unpack. So comes the minimizing!

We know that we won’t be here forever. Likely, we’ll only be in this house for a year before we start looking for a new house. While it has some major advantages (the location, the neighborhood, having a park in our yard, smaller so less utility costs), we have learned a valuable lesson that we will never ever again live in an HOA. Never. But our next move will also go a lot smoother. Our next move, we will not have boxes and boxes to go through because what we pack will be what we are using, not stuff that has been in storage or not used. I’ve started the minimizing with some small stuff; the kids have gotten rid of 3 boxes from their bedroom- clothes and stuffed animals. Ryan and I have gone through clothes and gotten rid of a lot. The boys have gone through toys and gotten rid of 2 boxes of toys. And we will continue to go through and minimize.

What are guidelines for downsizing? How do you decide which toys to get rid of? How do you decide how many pieces of clothing you need? How do you decide what season stuff/ decorations do you keep?

It’s been a year …

And the third time is a charm! I know I keep starting this blog, writing a bit and then life happens and I never update. But the busier we get, the more I find that I want to have one place to post things, recipes, pictures, tidbits… something I can look back on when I want and remember things. One place for it all. 

Since I have last updated, we have since moved, moved and moved again 🙂 

When we came back to the states, we were staying with mom near Lancaster. Ryan went back to WalMart as an asset protection associate in July and we moved to Huntingdon. In November he started interviewing for asset protection manager and in December got a promotion to the store in Lancaster (the original store he actually wanted when we knew we would be moving back to the states). So back to Lancaster area it was. We also added a new member to the family, Bryson was born on August 1st last year (yikes, it’s been that long since I’ve updated!). 

So here we are now, bout a house in Millersville, PA. Ryan is the Asset Protection manager for Walmart. Landyn is finishing up his first year of first grade, Ayden is getting ready for Kindergarten. And Bryson is just watching and learning all day long. He’s almost 10 months and can get around on his own pretty well, is pulling up on and walking with everything and has started to stand on his own. No steps yet though. His brothers like to quiz him during the day; they’ll stand in different areas and I’ll ask him where “Landyn” is or where “Ayden is” and he always looks to find the right brother. WIth 2 big brothers to follow around all day, I don’t think Bryson will have a problem with learning to keep up 🙂 

Landyn’s new obsession is Mine Craft. And like any little brother, Ayden is obsessed with whatever Landyn is. Landyn has also started reading his first chapter books so we are making our way through the magic tree house series. It’s so nice that there is a website to go along with the book so he can get on and take the quizzes and earn passport stamps to put in his little passport book. We’re currently working on his home school portfolio so we can be done with the school year. We’ve already done quite a bit this month and have lots more planned! 

The boys really enjoy seeing shows so we took them to Disney on Ice and The Apple Dutch Diner this last month. The things we have to look forward to this summer are;  the swimming pool, fishing, camping, the summer reading program at the library, family reunion (which will also include a trip to Delgrosso), a trip to Six Flags and maybe topping off the summer with a camping trip to Assateague Island. Going to hopefully be a fun summer 🙂 

Although our island is small

we have met some AMAZING people here!! The whole time we’ve been here, I’ve said that I can just feel like we were meant to be here for this period of time. The people we’ve met, the things we’ve done, the ways we’ve grown and the church that we found have had such an affect on our family over the last 18 months. At times we’re ready to just go home, back to the United States but we’re so thankful for our time here and know there is a reason for it.

We were talking about the fact that we’ll be leaving soon and haven’t really gotten any “souvenier” type things to remember the island by. In Germany, we traveled everywhere and had all kinds of post cards and things we bought to remember the places we’ve been. Here, there is no where to travel so we haven’t really done the whole souvenir thing. We were trying to think of just one or two things that we could get to really remember our time here and Ryan mentioned having a painting done by a wonderful lady (Carly Swenson-http://nakedcarlyart.wordpress.com/) who is stationed here at our base.

We sat down to meet with her and I felt like we were crazy to try to tell her what kind of painting we wanted because we just wanted so much on it. We wanted an island theme, but also music for Ryan, something to personalize it with our family, lyrics to some of our favorite songs, a cross for how much the church here has menat… I felt like it would just be too much for one painting. As we were telling her our ideas, she was all for it and assured us it wasn’t crazy. We picked up the painting today and LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! Even Landyn (5) and Ayden (3) kept looking at it and picking out pieces of it that they enjoy. Landyn can’t get over the fact there are real sea shells on it. His reaction “mom, are those sea shells? Like real ones? Like, ones from the beach here? Wow….”. Ayden loves how the waves at the bottom are textured (he says it’s like 3D) and he could touch them to feel them. Ryan and I just love how it feels like there is so much going on, but it all goes together so well. I really didn’t think we’d be able to get one painting that would have EVERYTHING in it that we wanted and come together so well for us. We’ve posted pictures of it and everyone likes it, but it means so much more to us because of how personalized everything is in it.


Lyrics to one of our favorite songs


Picture of Ryan’s bass


Another song we love


One of the parts I wanted on the piece was an island theme. Something to remember our time here by and the kids and I LOVE the little seashells, wave and little beach scene. So perfect for us!


Sheets of music in some of the background, and love the heart shape with the map in it.


Top corner of our piece. Love the palm tree/ beachy scene, our family picture with our last name and the beach, the cross and those song lyrics.


The piece as a whole. Love it so much. There was a glare and I used the Ipad for pictures but I’m sure Ryan will be getting out the good camera here soon. And our family will get to see it in person soon.


It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything going on with our family. Again. I seem to do good for 5 or 6 months and then inadvertently, end up taking a break. 

The biggest change for us since the last blog is that we’re welcoming boy number three to our family in August! Baby Bryson is due August 16th and his 2 big brothers (and mom and dad) are more than excited. 

Besides that, we’re just hanging out here in the middle of the Atlantic ocean waiting on others to do paper work so that we can get back home to Pennsylvania. The boys are excited to be back near family and do all the fun things we have planned for when we get there, and the Ryan and I are more than ready to get back, figure out job situations, find a house to rent and hopefully get all of our household goods to us and house organized before the baby gets here. The more we’re here on the island, the more evident it is that we may very well be welcoming a new baby AND organizing a new house all at the same time but we’ll make it work. 

In being back in the states and expanding our family, we’ve been talking a lot about holidays, traditions and what we want for our kids growing up. One tradition/ change we decided to make this year (although we’ve talked about it for a while) is to not do Christmas gifts with the kids, but instead take a family trip and make memories with them. I’m sure that I will start to make digital scrapbooks of each of our family trips as small gifts for them since they loved that so much with our Paris books they have. As our first family Christmas trip this year, we’ll be heading to Disney for a week 🙂 The more I look at it, the more I realize it really could be a 2 weeks trip and that’s what we’ll do in a few years when they are older. For now, it’s a week trip and although it’s 8 months away, I’m ready to sit down and plan every last minute of it. Any tips or recommendations from families who have been there are appreciated. Image