What a year! I planned a quick update to review the year, but you know from following me, nothing I write is quick. Lol. Buckle up… Here’s a bit of our year!
Current ages, Elijah 8, Moses 6, Solomon 4, Gideon 2
We took the whole family out to breakfast! We felt like we were finally getting our feet under us with taking all 4 kids out and about without it being such a huge ordeal. Then…. Covid!
We participate in 2 different co-ops. Rooted Christian Co-op met on Mondays, though, decided to temporarily stop meeting for the rest of winter. Classical Conversations switched to Zoom meeting and I’m so thankful they did! We figured it out as we went with multiple tutors and classrooms online all at the same time but our director, tutors, moms & kids all did fantastic and made the best of it. We were still able to participate in science experiments and art and met up to receive all supplies needed for us to do it at home. Gideon loves participating in school now.
This isn’t exactly how it’s supposed to look participating in school, but we do our best!
Bo and I had 1 date in July to celebrate our 12 year anniversary. I realized when looking at the calendar and our photos for the year, we hadn’t had a date during the year. Looking back at 2019, we had a babysitter and went out once. 2 dates in 2 years does not create a happy marriage. Clearly, we have some work to do on quality time together in 2021 to try to improve our marriage. So how are we? We are doing ok! Bo has been working from home full time since February’ish which has its pros and cons. His hours were cut a bit and he had an extra day off every other week which was great for scheduling appointments and getting things done since he was around more to help out with the kids. His work schedule is back to normal now but he’s not sure when he will return to the office part time and split his work time between home and the office. He has enjoyed collecting tools this year and working on various projects that interest him. He is also enjoying using his 3-D printer to make some pretty cool stuff, currently he is printing all new, custom foosball players for our table we were just gifted that the kids love. I am still volunteering with the fire department serving as a chaplain, EMT & instructor. I am also enjoying my little home based biz and the community of friends/family joining in that to learn more about health & wellness for our homes and families and look forward to pursuing that with more passion and intentionality this year. I teamed up with a couple close friends to work through some marriage books together and focus on improving ourselves and getting healthy mentally. emotionally & spiritually so that’s helped me/us a lot. As you may know, we had decided to sell our house and move to Enumclaw where we could be more in the country, have some land and woods for the kids to have a yard to play in. We have since changed our mind and are now researching out of state options for a variety of reasons. We don’t know the timeline yet but our house is still all packed up, painted and has all new flooring, we are ready to go! We just need to find a place to go. Prayers appreciated for Gods direction in that.
With quarantine and lockdown, I got much more comfortable taking the kids out on my own. Our backyard is not large enough for the kids to really have a ton of fun out there and they are 4 little boys. They NEED to move their bodies, a lot. So I tried to take them out regularly to different parks and places to explore, run & play.
That also helped me get a start on my own weight loss journey. Taking the kids for walks, rollerblading, bicycling (they did all that fun stuff, I walked/jogged).
We spent most of the summer in our backyard which was awesome this year. We got a little inflatable pool and were gifted a swing set from my parents neighbor who was giving one away. Bo worked hard to ‘bradshaw-fy’ it, making it stable and secure for our 4 boys and installing it safely into the ground. What an amazing blessing that has been. We are so grateful for the ‘park’ we were gifted which allowed us a lot more outside time having fun and moving their bodies. It’s great for school recess when we need to get up from the table and move our bodies. It’s not getting as much use now that it’s so cold and wet. When Bo installed it, he was going to build a barrier around the edge so we could fill it in with wood chips, etc to protect the yard because he said the yard would get destroyed from the swing set on grass. I balked and asked him not to. I regret that now because he was right, I was wrong and our back yard is just a big mud pit now. Shucks.
All 4 boys playing together in the backyard on the ‘park’.
We went to local parks & rivers and enjoyed exploring outdoors together.
Our tiny pool, a little small for the big 3, perfect for the little but they all played together with glee and the big 3 really enjoyed having Gideon out there with them this year.
We found some beautiful local places to play and made sure to stay extra safe around the rivers!
We were able to attend a VBS online this year due to quarantine. I’m so thankful for how the churches and community have worked so hard to best support residents and how the community has come together to try to support those businesses as well. Our church also opened up STEM & PE classes for kids this year which we attended while they were available and the kids loved them. They had 1 hour away from home, away from me each week which all of us enjoyed. I look forward to both of those starting up again so the kids can have that time to learn and play and be with friends again.
I was also gifted some time at a dear friends beach house at Ocean Shores. I was able to take the kids twice this year and I think that was the highlight of my year. Packing up, getting away and having time outside of our 4 walls.. The beach was empty. The kids could run & play, chase birds, chase the beach ball all over the beach and just go. It really makes me see how much physical space can free them to just let go and play.
Our first day of school for the 2020-2021 year with Classical Conversations co-op.
This is my favorite picture of 2020. At Ocean Shores, while we were visiting at my friends beach house. The kids love it here. We eat simply (canned chili, cereal, sandwiches, etc), have no agenda, watch shows, color pictures, play board games, take walks and play on the beach. I would love to bring this more simple lifestyle home to adopt everyday for us, but I’m not sure how to do that with a much larger house, homeschool to do and a lot more stuff. The simplicity of the beach house appeals to me so much and we just enjoy it, though it is a priority for me to feed the kids nutritiously and we have a budget so maybe more good insta pot recipes for me this year. Hit me up with your favorites! I need new quick, easy, healthy ideas that my family will love. One of my new favorites is pesto zuppa toscana.
Gideon is doing great! This is from his annual cardiology visit where we get an echo each visit and an EKG every other. Gideon’s heart is considered fully repaired and he is on no cardiac medications. He has no cardiac restrictions for anything. He can run, jump, play and do anything his brothers do and his cardiologist encourages him to participate fully with physical activities. I spoke with his cardiologist about Covid concerns as well as anesthesia concerns and from a cardiac standpoint, he has none. He does from a respiratory and immune perspective due to Down Syndrome but I’m thankful his heart is so healthy there are no concerns for that. More of his medical considerations posted below under his other picture.
Since we are now attending church online, all 6 of us pile on the couch on Sunday morning and watch church together as a family which I love. It also gives the kids an opportunity to watch the kids programs they would see in the kids classrooms at a later time which I usually save for an evening during the week when I let them stay up late and watch kids church on the IPad together. It’s a win, win, except I really miss the community of church and people in person.
We also started playing a lot more family games. The kids love mouse trap. We have potion explosion, parcheesi, bugs in the kitchen, dice of crowns and 5000 (10,000) we play with dice. We each have our own favorite, ,I would love to find a couple more board games that the whole family loves that only take 10-15 min to play together. Solomon seems to be able to keep up with games that are marked for ages 8 and up so I appreciate your recommendations!
This kids are ridiculous with our dice game we play. They are so risky and either epically fail or get so lucky they double or triple the score. It’s quite entertaining to see the way they reason and play and how their strategies have changed over time.
Gideon still works hard at therapy every week even though we’ve switched to zoom meetings. He meets with his physical therapist once per week and his occupational & speech therapist together once per week. He does much better as the year has gone on at actually participating in therapeutic activities rather than just trying to crawl IN the IPad to socialize with his friends (therapists). Lol. He got a new SPIO suit this year that doesn’t quite fit him yet but he should wear it during all awake hours for core support. He also got new orthotics and medical shoes this year. The orthotics are a bit different with less overall support so he can use his toes to balance more which is great. Other than that, he doesn’t really have any other medical equipment. We are learning to be very specific about his toys. I’ve received things that I thought would be perfect for therapy work for him that have ended up not working out because he just has no interest in them. So I’m trying to stick with the recommendations we get from his 3 therapists who have never led us wrong and only recommend things he completely loves and plays with over and over again, that also have therapeutic and educational benefits for him.
Elijah – he turned 9 in November. He is doing great in school though he doesn’t enjoy doing school work and is always in a rush and often makes mistakes from that. He loves legos and rube goldberg machines, roller blading, sports, and Gideon. His relationship with Gideon is the most precious thing I’ve ever seen. Elijah is Gideons best friend, protector and warrior, and Gideon is Elijahs most loved friend. Elijah prides himself on being able to play with him in a way Gideon enjoys, helping me out with him, doing therapy work with him and since they share a room, Elijah loves reading books to Gideon at night with his reading light until Gideon falls asleep. It is so sweet. Elijah is quite athletic and does well at sports and physical activities. He is also becoming quite mature and has more enjoyable conversations, yet will still manipulate his brothers to get his way. Medically, Elijah is doing great.
Moses turned 7 this year. Moses is just a big ball of energy and excitement on two left feet. I’m not sure if it’s due to his eyesight or just plain clumsiness but he stubs his toes every day. Moses will do his schoolwork independently without grumbling which I appreciate. His only struggle with school work is his eyesight. He gets his eyes checked every 6 months and is ready for surgery to remove his cataracts, medically. Emotionally, we’re not quite there yet. We’ve told him he is going to have surgery soon so that he can see better but he is 1000% against it and doesn’t seem to be budging. Yet. We practice eye drops at home but not enough so we certainly need to do that a lot more and continue talking about his upcoming surgery so he will be more comfortable with it. Moses loves playing cards, riding his bike, playing tag & he enjoys reading but only if it’s super large font that he can see well, which I haven’t found him any books of interest that fit that description yet. We still call Moses ‘Preacher Mos’ as he is often found correcting someone and speaking Gods truths to people. His memory is a steel trap and he excels at our memory work we do for school, beating out the whole school as winner of our end of year challenge for memory work for all kids ages 4-12. He remembers bible verses and stories and will often relate them to everyday life and practical application to what’s going on around him.
Solomon turned 5 this year. He too, is a ball full of energy and spunk. He is also a massive personality stuffed in that tiny little 5 year old body, with a large side of stubborn. He does well at his school work and loves most things.. Cards, games, sports, outdoors, helping me cook, he is both easygoing and super strong willed all at the same time. He loves to snuggle and has the best giggle ever. Solomon is all full of silly and sentiment. His feelings can get hurt pretty easily but he is quick to bounce back and get back to his jolly self again. We found out this year that Solomon has pretty severe allergies to dogs and moderate allergies to cats which means our house is now the hosting house for most things as all the cousins homes have pets. I have always wanted to be a better host, but it’s one of my big weaknesses so I’m hoping this will force me to get better at hosting so it’s more enjoyable for all to visit since we are the go to home now for things. Tips/tricks appreciated for that as well!
Gideon, the star of the show. He is doing very well. We have just started participating in Solomons class at Classical Conversations co-op which I think is going to be very good for him. He is supposed to start developmental preschool in 2 weeks in the special needs program locally, but, due to Covid, they are shut down for now. We can join via zoom but that doesn’t seem to be a viable option to try to have Gideon participate in 3 hour zoom meetings 4 days per week while also homeschooling his 3 big brothers and attending our weekly co-op so I think that’s just not going to work out for us until after the school physically opens and he can ride the bus to school. That’s a crazy thought! Medically, he is doing excellent. We have some concerns about his eyesight but we know that he can see and can even see across the room so the ophthalmologist isn’t too concerned about it. We are still trying to figure out what’s going on with his ears as he has confirmed hearing loss. We haven’t been able to determine which ear and how severe it is yet. He is on the waiting list to schedule a sedated hearing test as soon as they can get us in which will give us definitive answers about how severe his hearing loss really is then we will schedule more sedated tests after that to see if we can figure out why he has the hearing loss which is a bit frustrating for me. If we know he will need to have 2 sedated tests, why can’t we just do them both at once so he only needs to go under general anesthesia once? But that’s hospital policy so we have to follow the rules. His case is going through their cardiac anesthesia team right now to see who he needs to be in the room with for safe anesthesia as he is a cardiac patient so it’s a specialized team that will be with him to stay extra safe. We will also probably be scheduling a sleep study for him in the near future too. We have labs coming up next week before we see his Pediatric Specialist in 2 weeks for his well child check and will review his whole health history then. He’s made great gains this year, saying mama and dada audibly, those are his only intelligible words so he is still deemed non verbal. He got a new AAC (talk box, we call it) but we still aren’t using it as much as we should. He is picking up signs left and right and doing very well with that and will even put 3-4 signs together on his own now, I just need to teach him to call out for someone before he starts signing because I’ll often find him sitting silently at the kitchen signing furiously for water with no one around. “water please, water please, WATER PLEASE” Lol. He started walking this year and walks pretty much everywhere now. He quit the scoot and just this last week, Elijah had him crawling properly chasing him around the house, it was fantastic. He is mostly safe going up and down the stairs alone (we don’t have a baby gate anymore) but still scares me daily because he likes to stand at the top and one of his favorite things to do is drag his toys up the stairs then throw them down. If they don’t make it all the way down, he scoots down to them, leans over head first to pick them up, nearly toppling over, and throwing them down again. I do not enjoy this play but he thinks it’s hysterical and is quite please with the commotion he will cause. He is showing signs of readiness with potty training asking for a diaper when he has pooped or even bringing me one sometimes. I need to get on that. He is so happy, He loves to have conversations now with his baby babble and talking back and forth with someone. He loves BIG hugs, playing balloon catch, swinging, and all things brothers are doing.
We enjoyed Thanksgiving at home this year eating traditional food from my side of the family. We did get a chance to spend some time with Bos family as well so he got some of his traditional food as well. It’s fun to bring the 2 sides together and both of us have some favorites to enjoy.
I’m trying to be more intentional to get pictures of all of us together as I realized I don’t do that often enough. I’ve been spending a lot of time going through my pictures lately which is my happy place and brings me so much joy and makes me realize just how blessed we really are, even during this crazy time of Covid and quarantine. I look forward to 2021 with some hopes, dreams and goals and praying Gods will over our family.
Thanks for sticking with me for this blog! I also hope to blog more regularly in 2021 for those of you who don’t follow us on FB. We appreciate your prayers and I am happy to add your requests to my journal that I update and start over each month so please, feel free to commend or DM me with a prayer request and I’ll be praying specifically for that request in January. Feel free to ask any questions as well, I’m basically an open book so I’m usually happy to share.
The Bradshaw Crew