Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Doctorate in Youth Sleep Studies OR I am Tired

This post is honestly embarrassing for me to write.

The last day of 2017 began, for me, at 5:24am.  I wish I could say that was atypical, abnormal, a fluke, but alas- it is my new normal for about the last six months.

I need to start by complimenting my boys on the things, sleep related, that they do SO well. My boys have never fought going to bed- our bedtime routines have been consistent, positive, and a well-oiled machines since they were very very small.  They go to bed, fairly early, willingly.  They do not come into our room to sleep with us in our bed... ever.  They do not wake up in the middle of the night.  They have never fought taking a nap.  I'm knocking on wood as I write all these things... 

Nolan and Judah have always been earlier risers- they've never slept past 7:00am... like ever.  But, something happened to Nolan and Judah where they began waking up about an hour earlier than they had previously done for at least the last two years.  Their 6:30-6:45 wake up times have now turned in 5:30am wake ups.

I said I was embarrassed writing this post because if I truly admit the amount of articles I've read on sleep, the amount of data I've collected, the statistics I've analyzed, the hypothesis I've gathered, and the amount of case studies I've ran to try to "fix" this problem to get us all more sleep, you, my reader, would start looking at my funny and I won't blame you if you do.  I seriously have done enough field related work and research to have earned me, I believe, a doctorate in youth sleep studies.  I may only currently have two patients: Nolan and Judah, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who knew more about youth sleep patterns and the latest research, findings, and studies than I would.  You'd also be hard pressed to find anyone who's tried as many things as I've tried to learn about and analyze sleep.

I happen to firmly believe that starting your day in the 5s for anything other than leaving for a vacation is ridiculous.  I'm sorry.  I'm not asking for my small humans to wake up at 8:00am or anything- I'm merely asking for my day to start with a 6 in front of it.  I used to want the start time to be 6:30 or later for my boys, but now, I'll take 6:01 and be perfectly content.  Is that too much to ask?!   

I'd be a lot better at accepting that this early wake-up time is my new normal if Nolan and Judah could prove that it's all the sleep they needed.  However, when Judah is having meltdowns at 7:15 in the morning and Nolan is falling asleep on the way home from school at 2:45pm begging for a nap, and they both are disastrously cranky at dinnertime, I know what they are getting is not enough.  Period.  They show, often, that they are tired.  

I also know that Josh and I cannot parent to our best ability when our day starts before 5:30am most days.  My fuse is short, my patience is thin, my energy is low.  Every time Carter goes down for a nap, the struggle in my head of whether I should be productive or just take a freaking nap has turned into a moral dilemma, which has lowered my productivity for both my professional work life and my home work life.  On the weekends, one of Josh and my biggest priorities is how to squeak in extra opportunities to get each other some extra sleep.  We, he and I, have not handled this well.  No matter how early you try to go to bed (after tidying up for the day and trying to spend a little time together after people go to bed), 5:30am is early- let's be real. Josh and me are not getting enough sleep.  We also show, often, that we are tired. 

When this first began, we thought it had something to do with the nicer weather coming in spring/summer especially the freaking birds chirping VERY early in the morning.  We already had blackout curtains, but invested in sound machines hoping we could get back on track. Nope.  Summer does offer so much more daylight so we rolled with it a little bit keeping our fingers crossed that more darkness would trigger more sleep.  Then the time change happened in the fall, making our wake up times more like 4:30am and that's when I really started to lose it.  I also happened to be in my first trimester of pregnancy and was in desparate need of extra sleep and wasn't getting it.   

I did what any researcher would do: I collected data... a lot of it.  I studied naps, bedtime times, first wake up times, moods, locations of sleep, bathroom patterns, etc.  Then I hypothesized like crazy making all kinds of conjectures about what was causing this change.  After making these, of course, I needed to change some things up and see if it helped any. 
Just one example of data I collected
 I messed with naps: no naps, shorter naps, longer naps, different nap time start, different nap time end, quiet boxes.  

I messed with bedtime: later bedtime, earlier bedtime, yoga before bed, essential oils, classical music, deep breathing exercises, no drinks, extra potty trips, Nolan and Judah sleeping in separate bedrooms.

I messed with wake ups: alarms set, post it notes, non verbal communication, quiet morning choices, morning walks, morning rest time. 

I read article after article on toddler and preschool sleep written by doctors, pediatricians, other moms.  I offered rewards, punishments, praise, constructive criticism. 

Do you want to look at me funny yet?  Again, I don't blame you. 

Here we are, on the last day of 2017, still tired... all of us.  Well, except Carter... somehow he sleeps blissfully unaware of our struggle until at least 7:30 in the morning. 

My sleeping Bing, blissfully unaware of our sleep woes
I can't say that I'm also not worried about how this early wake up factors with a new baby in the house.  Nolan and Judah yelling that they have to go poop at 5:40am will certainly wake a sleeping baby.  I.Will.Loose.It. Starting my day before 6:00am when I've been up every 2-3 hours feeding a new baby will certainly make Josh and I deliriously sleep deprived. I.Will.Loose.It.  

I am not the type of person to give up on things I want to be different, which is why I'm tackling this thing six months later.  Feel free to offer suggestions to me- I've probably already tried them, but maybe there's something I've missed.  You will be my hero.  I'll also take suggestions on how to function, happily, productively, positively, and patiently on a day that starts at 5:30am.  Please send help.  

Don't worry, I may be exhausted and very perturbed, but I haven't lost all my perspective- I'd much rather be waking up at 5:30am hearing Judah call down the hall that he can't sleep anymore than be waking up at 5:30am to drive to Ann Arbor for yet another doctor's appointment at U of M Center for Reproductive Medicine.  I am tired and I would like more sleep, but I will take this any day.  However, I will keep pushing, trying new things, reading, and researching on this topic because that is my way.  

2017: I leave you grateful and tired, my belly a lot bigger, circles under my eyes a lot darker.  I'm about to walk down the stairs after hearing Judah's second or third meltdown of the day- it's 8:48am.  We have already showered, folded laundry, cleaned bathrooms, built train tracks, ate breakfast, read books, and I've wrote this blog.  I will likely not make it to midnight tonight to see 2018 start, after all, 5:30am comes early...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Are you sure you're not having twins?" and other questions for #HundtBaby4

Since being "out" with the pregnancy of our fourth child, I've received all kinds of questions, comments, and reactions.  Some of them have seemed typical things people say such as as wondering when I was due.  Others have seemed a little more specific to this particular pregnancy.  Either way, because of "My Crazy," I always feel a bit awkward talking about a pregnancy out loud as if I'm jinxing it in someway.  

Please don't misunderstand, I am SO over the moon excited, grateful, and completely in awe of the honor of being pregnant.  There have been many moments where I didn't think I'd ever get pregnant, even more still where I didn't think I'd ever stay pregnant, and just as many where I didn't feel like Josh and I could ever do this pregnancy thing on our own without lots of medical interventions.  You don't go through all the infertility and miscarriage heartache without being one of the most appreciative pregnant people on Earth.  I can tell you, being on my fourth baby, that stays with you- that fall-to-your-knees in praise type of gratitude.

BUT---> my fear... oh the fear...that really stays with you too and it does cripple my experience of being a pregnant person and makes me uncomfortable to talk and plan for a baby that isn't in my arms yet.

I explain all this just to help people understand me and know that I am grateful of how many people care to talk to me about this baby even if that conversation is hard for me to have.  Please don't stop asking me questions or inquiring about this baby; I appreciate you. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anyway... here are some typical questions I've been asked with some answers for all who might be on the edge of their seat wondering..

- When are you due? I know I look like I'm due tomorrow, but am not until May 8th.  And yes, if you're doing some numbers in your head, Nolan and Judah's birthday is May 7th and Carter's birthday is May 3rd. NO, WE DIDN'T PLAN THAT.  See below... ;)  

- Are you finding out what you're having? Nope- we've enjoyed not finding out with any pregnancies.  It's worked for us and if it ain't broke, don't fix it :) Having Josh see the baby first and be able to tell me who this beautiful miracle is has been a wonderful experience.  

- How have you been feeling? Mentally, exactly the same as the others- mostly a complete basketcase ;) Physically, first trimester wasn't easy... I didn't want a single food.  Yuck.  But now I'm kicking it and feeling just great.  Very winded this time (I can barely walk up the stairs without breathing hard.  I am so out of shape).

- Are the boys excited to be big brothers? Yes! Especially Nolan and Judah.  Carter isn't totally there- I think he likes being the baby.  All the boys would love a sister- they can't imagine having FIVE boys in the house with just me as the only girl. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here are some additional questions that seem specific to this particular pregnancy...

- Is this baby 'planned'? Yes! We've always hoped to have four kids. 

- Are you trying for that girl? The short answer to that one is no.  In fact, absolutely not.  I'll be so clear that Josh and I are not trying for a girl.. we will not have five or nine or twelve kids until the baby girl pops out.  We've always wanted a bigger family- always talked about having four kids.  I am at such peace no matter what gender pops out!  If it's a boy- that's incredible! I know what to do with boys, I'll also have three other boys born in May, which means I'll want or need for nothing for this baby.  If somehow we squeak a girl out- what a wonderful surprise.

- Are you sure you're not having twins this time? Don't you think me, a mom of twins, would know if I was having another set?! They do check for that.  And look, I know I'm huge.  I popped right out with this one- that'll happen when your abdominal muscles are near your hips... I've got NOTHING to hold anything in people! My skin is the opposite of firm and tight, thank you, kindly, for pointing that out to me.  And another thing, if you think I've got a big belly now, you should've seen how huge I got with ACTUAL twins ;)  I've been asked this question several times, can you tell? 

- All your babies born within a week of each other? How did you plan that? My answer to that is that you must not know me very well.  Someone who's had as much trouble as we have getting pregnant and staying pregnant cannot plan things like this.  This is an incredible coincidence.  God, you do make me giggle.     

Regardless of what else I might be asked as this pregnancy continues, #HundtBaby4 needs to know nothing else except that he/she is incredibly loved, was incredibly planned for and prayed about, and will be a perfect addition to our family. 
20 week ultrasound

#21weeks 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Nolan and Judah: 4.5 years

The minutes can sure feel slow, but wow does time ever flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

I have two four and a half year olds- two kids who are closer to being in kindergarten with each passing minute and I can't even.  I've really enjoyed every stage and this one is no different.  Here's what been up with Nolan and Judah.

What Nolan is Into:
Nolan continues to be extremely aware of his surroundings and the people in them.  He has a very deep mind and the capacity to have real understandings of empathy and compassion.  Although he wants others to be happy, healthy, and be taken care of, he also prefers if everything is done the way HE wants it :)  I truly think Nolan was lucky to be born into our family with Josh and me as his parents because his intense emotions, his need for control and order, and his "occasional" bossiness are fully understood by his parents.  We can help him label his feelings, patiently let him talk through whatever he needs to digest, and can recognize when his control freak-ness is really out and help him deal with it.

He is still obsessed with building things- he wants his Magnitiles out first thing in the morning and will build and build and build and build.  The things he makes are incredible- his imagination and creativity rock.

Recycling has been a fairly new thing for Nolan to love.  He loves taking out the recycling, making sure our recycling bin is full, and correcting us if we put something in the trash that we shouldn't.  He also talks about recycling a lot and was a recycling man for Halloween.

I think reading is really close on the horizon for Nolan. He's been sounding out letter sounds and recognizing a lot of sight words, which is just wild to me.  I know this next year or two is going to absolutely blow me away with what our twins are going to be able to do, read, recognize.

Nolan also loves to rake leaves... like so much.  This is fantastic for us because our yard is insane in the fall.  He will chose raking leaves over just about any other method of outside play.



What Judah is Into:
I think partially because Nolan likes to control things so much, Judah does like to seek out areas that he too can control.  He likes to lead the way when we are walking out the door or going up the stairs.  He really like to pick which dump truck he pushes around and has also been exercising his right to control on food.  We've had lots of struggles lately with him and food- getting him to eat, getting him to eat in a timely manner, having to make deals for every single meal on what he will or won't finish.  It's been a bit exhausting I will admit and definitely frustrating especially when he decides not to eat something HE ASKED FOR.  With his wheat allergy, we already have to do enough battles with him trying to limit the intake of things he LOVES- carbs, gluten-packed carbs.  So the extra food battles have not been a welcome addition.  We're working through it though ;)

Judah is a fantastic playmate and friend and his positive attitude lights up any room.

Cars have been one of Judah's favorite activities lately- he loves to dump them, organize them, park them, and have Nolan build elaborate garages and houses for them.

Judah has always had a love for cooking, but lately, he's been a bit more independent to the point where he pretty much cooked us an entire dinner (with Josh supervising ;) )



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now although both of these boys are completely and totally their own human, their love and support for one another also continues to grow as they grow.  When Nolan is scared to get bounced on the trampoline during gymnastics class, Judah sits off to the side with him so he won't be alone.  When Judah isn't feeling well, Nolan makes up a blanket and pillow area on the couch and brings a trash can over... just in case ;)  They were even wiseman #1 and wiseman #2 in the Christmas play at school but got separated because they were hugging each other too much so now they are wiseman #1 and wiseman #3.

Because they are the oldest, as THEY go through new stages, so too do I.  Even though Carter is very much is own person, I at least know some things to expect with him.  With Nolan and Judah, things are truly brand new.  So, as a mom, I've also noticed some slight changes in them that bring with it the bitter sweetness of children getting older.

My boys are becoming so much more independent.  That is such a love/hate word for me.  When they can write their name on their own, I leap for joy as my heart swells with pride.  When they learn something new, I wanna call everyone and brag all about it because I am just in awe of them and truly cannot believe how cool it is when they can build on their own, cook on their own, even dress themselves on their own. 

Then, when they walk up to school by themselves leaving me in the dust on the driveway or ask for me NOT to sing them to sleep, I want to sob uncontrollably and my heart yearns for the time when their entire hand was holding my finger.  I get that choking feeling in my throat until they turn around with a huge smile on their face feeling so proud they walked up the sidewalk alone or ask me to pray with them instead of sing before bed and it makes those changes more okay and more bearable.  Tears are rolling down my cheeks as I even write this.  Being big is so cool and being big also breaks my heart a little.

I know I will blink and they'll be graduating high school- oh.my.heart.

Ah, being a parent.  What a gift- a heart wrenching, heart swelling gift.   

These two keep me busy and guessing and learning and growing right alongside them.  Five years old will be here before I know it... oh.my.heart.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Carter: 2.5 years

The Bing has turned two and a half years old recently!  It's insane to me how old he is, how big he is, how much he can do, and how many things he thinks he can do (that maybe he can't yet ;) ) 

Here's what up with Carter...

Things Carter is Into:
Carter loves destroying things- much to the chagrin of his brothers who are often the victim of this.  I know that dumping, running into, and knocking down are super age appropriate for Carter right now, but it's definitely been a bit more challenging this time around since there are older brothers.  When N and J were Carter's age, the only stuff they messed with was mine.  Not that I enjoyed that or anything, but I'd much rather me get frustrated or sad than anyone else.  It's hard to try to help N and J understand they may need to build in a different place or that pretty much any time they are working on a creation, they are taking a large risk that Hurricane Carter may reek havoc.  Carter does seem to feel bad if he's upset his big brothers, but this act is still very much a well-loved hobby.  

Carter is also into books with sounds and flaps and especially books that you press the button and a voice reads the words on the page.  He wants to read the same books over and over and over and over and over again.  He is a lover of reading.

Being outside might be his favorite thing- he loves stoller rides, playgrounds, riding his balance bike (he FLIES on that thing), pushing strollers around, and generally walking around and exploring.  He will chose to go outside as opposed to any other choice of something to do.  He often cries when it's time to go in and don't ever promise to go outside and then not deliver.  You will regret it oh so much.    

I am lucky to have an extremely verbal child.  His vocabulary is just insane.  However, he's been into only making noises and whines especially first thing in the morning, after naps, or just when he really wants to bug people.  I can't even with that. He sounds EXACTLY like how Curious George sounds.  This kid is so lucky to have the words at his lips to say pretty much whatever he wants and when he doesn't use his voice, it infuriates me.  

He loves playing a game, particularly with Grammy, called 'Jumping and Sleeping.'  It is pretty much just how it sounds- he jumps around like crazy and then goes to sleep for about three seconds.  Then he wakes up and does it all over again.  He also likes puppets, puzzles, making people laugh, and playing anything his brothers are playing.  

Things Carter isn't Into:
Potty training is certainly the thing Carter is most NOT into.  Seriously, no interest.  He loves reading about potty training, but wants NOTHING to do with toilets, potty seats, big boy fancy pants, getting out of diapers, etc.  Nada. I learned a lot from potty training N and J and fully believe the child needs to drive this bus, not the parent, so I am trying to be patient.  I keep thinking to myself "oh surely by the end of the summer, he will have gone in the potty a few times" (nope). Or, "He'll be in such a different place by Christmas" (don't think so).  Maybe by three years old we'll have some progress?!?!?

Carter is not into sitting still... at all.  He wants out of his high chair, out of his stroller, out of his car seat, out of the shopping cart, etc.  He is on the move constantly.  I'm a seasoned veteran at that because big brothers are and were EXACTLY the same but sheesh... it is freaking hard to keep up with all three of these constant movers.  We've definitely had some scares with him- he can exit our newly fenced-in backyard in a second, he will take off at stores and museums, and will flee the scene if you're trying to get him to sit still to put on shoes and coats to leave the house.  You've gotta hang on to this kid tightly, I tell you what. 

I'm so thankful he's growing into such a caring, smart, and funny little mover and shaker and can't wait to see what the next sixth months has in store for him.   



 

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Letter to the Bride, Myself, 10 Years Ago

Dear Kristin Pavona (2007 addition),

Today is your wedding day!  You are about to become Kristin Hundt.  This is a day that you have been planning in your mind for as long as you can remember.  It's here! 

Today, you choose a man, Josh Hundt, to walk along side you as your partner, your equal, your biggest cheerleader, supporter, your knight in shining armor.

As you patiently wait for Grandma Ort to arrive in the post-tornado/curfew traffic that is the thriving metropolis of Williamston, Michigan, you are certainly thinking about your husband, how much you love him today, and all the reasons WHY you feel in love with him.

Now that I've been married to Josh for ten years, which I think gives me the ability to be pretty legit on the subject, let me drop some knowledge...

First of all, you will love Josh more in the years to come than you do right now... like a lot more.

I hope that gives you some peace.

Second, I know that you fell in love with Josh because of how different he was from you.  He was everything you were not.  Ever since you met him, his care-free attitude, sense of humor, radiant positivity, and his laid-back personality and zest for life made him quite appealing to you. 

Josh        is         not         that         person. 


 He is not the ying to your yang, but instead the yang to your yang.  He is an anxious worrier JUST.LIKE.YOU.

BAM. Mic drop.

 Now before you lose it and question the decision you have made to spend your life with him- don't worry!  You will find this out very quickly and it will be quite alright.  Different than you thought, yes, but completely okay.  The deep and profound way that you will understand each other will be incredibly helpful through crisis, through stress, and through joy as well.  Opposites don't have the be the only ones that attract :)  You will also be pleasantly surprised at the way one of you always steps up to be the calm, collected, rational thinker when the other one can't.  It works, fear not. 

As a seasoned married person to Josh Hundt, I want to give you, the almost bride, some extreme reassurance of what you are about to do by asking you to remember what makes Josh and you so special and so unique...

You can admit to yourself that you loved this man, in some form, since you were fourteen years old.  For those ten years up until now, your wedding day, Josh has been a huge part of your life- the person you kept going back to again and again and again.  When you were in your early teenage years, you chose him.  When you were in the weeds of teenage angst, you chose him.  When you were deciding what to do with the rest of your life, leaving high school to go on to college, you chose him.  When you graduated college, starting adulthood, you chose him.

A lot of changing and growing went on during those stages of your life and both you and him kept coming back to each other.  This is the key to what makes Josh and Kristin so special.

That will continue to be one of the best parts of your relationship- as you grow and change, you will still come back to each other, you will still choose each other. 

You don't know this yet, but from your wedding day until your ten year anniversary, life is going to get legit real quick and you and him will both grow and change... like a lot.  You will endure deaths in the family, cancer in the family, drug addiction in the family.  You both will never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

You will change a tremendous amount again as you maneuver the world of infertility, bad news, countless doctors appointments, countless tests, countless medications, countless pokes and prodding.  Romance will die during this time- schedules and timing will be all that matter.  Shuffling appointments will run your life.  You both will never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

Josh and you will love two babies, make plans for two babies, dream of two babies, and never hold those two babies.  Your grief will be immense and crippling.  It will forever change the way you look at pregnancy and add extreme worry and extreme stress and extreme fear to the beautiful baby-carrying experience.  You will both never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

When you hold your babies after full term pregnancies for the first time, you will both sob in gratitude, overcome with a new deep love for other human beings.  First smiles and laughs will make you want to explode.  Going from crawling to walking will make you smile and cry all at the same time.  When you accomplish something you'd waited for, hoped for, prayed for, worked damn hard for, and didn't know would ever happen, your both will never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

The reality of work, grading papers, catching up on emails, balancing schedules, sleepless nights, potty training, preschool, shuffling people around from one activity to the next, and ALL that comes with parenting and adulting will sometimes make you feel like you are a completely different human.  You will barely recognize yourself some days.  You will have very little time or energy left to do much of anything else including pumping time into your relationship.  You will both never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

Time will fly.  There will be more joy than you imagined and more sorrow than you imagined, but never EVER forget how often you've chosen each other.  It is what makes you special, strong, unique and one of the reasons I know you are so sure about what you are about to do.

Your wedding day will be fabulous- soak it all in and take time to enjoy it.  And every time that you look at that groom's face throughout the ceremony, the picture taking, the reception, know with all of you heart, you made the absolute right decision.

With so much love,
The ten-year older, hopefully ten-year wiser, Kristin Hundt (2017 addition) 



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

COLORADO VACAY Part 2: Breckenridge & Mountain Adventures

After four days in Denver and waving a sad goodbye to my mom and Aunt Doreen, we were headed west to Breckenridge.  

Neither Josh or I have actually seen mountains bigger than the brown ones you see driving between Las Vegas and Los Angeles and we couldn't WAIT to get actually IN to the rocky mountains.  Although the drive contained a lot of winding roads, steep hills and a few areas where the wrong move would've sent you flying down thousands of feet, it was GORGEOUS.  Breathtaking actually.  Thankfully, we were in no rush to get to Breckenridge so we stopped several times along the way so I could do what I do- take pictures.  

Here are some nuggets from our time in Breckenridge and mountains majesty: 

1.) Georgetown Lake- FINALLY, a lake with mountains in the background! That's the dream!  We stopped here, literally on the side of the road, ate our lunch and basked in the beauty.  


Boys taking in Lake Georgetown 
2.) Georgetown Loop Railroad: We saw billboards for this gem in Denver and had to learn more about.  Taking a train would be something the boys would love, doing it with mountains and babbling brooks, and bridges would be something I would love.  I also learned that Josh had always wanted to take an old fashioned train ride like this since he was a little kid.  It was a win, win, win for the whole Hundt clan.  The train ride was stunningly beautiful and breathing in such crisp, fresh air was quite something.  The ride was about 75 minutes, which was probably about 30 minutes too long for the little people I was with, but overall, we are SO glad we did that!  The little town of Georgetown is ADORABLE too. 



3.) Lake Dillion: Enter the place I would move to if living in Colorado.  The town of Dillon is cute with shops and restaurants while also having a Target and Office Max and THE LAKE! Oh my goodness.  I made Josh pull over in at least three different places so I could take photos (boys were sleeping after the railroad trip in the back).  I am obsessed. 



4.) Views, views, views: I'm certain you must be sick of hearing me talk about how obsessed I am with taking photos and how important pretty nature is to me, but let me just go on and on a tiny bit more.  When we were researching and trying to figure out where in Colorado we actually wanted to stay, we decided we totally wanted to have a city experience and also wanted something IN the mountains.  I was very hard to please with this second one.  I didn't want to be too far away and only see them in the distance and I didn't want to be at the bottom of a mountain making my view compromised because of other structures.  We looked at a LOT of cities and a LOT of places to stay and then found this condo in Breckenridge that was about 11,000 feet in the air.  SCORE. This was our view.  I can't get enough of pretty nature to stare it.  
Family pic from our balcony
5.) Altitude is legit- Because of my need to have this type of view, we were up, way up in the air a lot, which was nothing we had ever done.  I know people warn you about altitude and what it can do to you and I don't think we took that very seriously.  From being extra winded while dancing at Amy's wedding, to having to rest after climbing a bunch of stairs at Red Rocks, to Josh completely succumbing to altitude sickness (dizziness, nausea, headache, throwing up... like a lot), being high up is nothing to mess with.  We loved all these high up cities, don't get me wrong, but as we got back into the Midwest and sea level, we were grateful.     

6.) Swimming Fun: While in Breckenridge, we were able to have access to hot tub and rec center where we could fill some of our days having fun swimming.  We love to swim so it was awesome to do it on vacation, awesome to have the mountains out your window while you did it, and awesome to have a super warm kiddie pool to enjoy.  Swimming also helped Josh feel a little better during his altitude sickness.  My little guppies rock out pools.   



My boys in the hot tub 
7.)  Halloween Party: Nolan decided, on our second day in Breckenridge, that he wanted to throw a Halloween Party.  I'm not sure where that came from, but we were game.  They made a little sign, set up the family room how they wanted it, and we rocked out to some Halloween jams.  Halfway in, we decided to dress up too and used the only costumes we has with us: Josh and my clothes.  So Nolan and Judah dressed up as us and then decided to talk and act like us too, which was hilarious.  We ended the party, not with candy, but with ice cream ;) 


Sign so people knew where the party was and who was throwing it
Judah dressed as Josh, Nolan dressed as me- this is how they think we take pictures together ;) 
8.) Playgrounds: We can't go anywhere without seeking out all kinds of playground-going excursions.  These three boys could "playground" all day, every day.  Thankfully, Breckenridge has a couple of small play areas right in their main downtown area.  There was also an awesome train museum place with a playground at the bottom of the roads we took from our condo to get down to the actual town of Breckenridge.  There was also a park named Carter Park.  We HAD to check that out ;) 
Carter at Carter Park

9.) Sawmill Reservoir: As we were looking for some fun things to do in Breckenridge, this place came up and was not too far away so we decided to check it out.  It offered beautiful water, beautiful mountain views, and very, very easy hiking, which was a huge bonus.  You have to hike while in Colorado, right?!  We had a great time exploring and were able to get one family picture before my camera's battery died (WHEW).



10.) A week altogether as a family: That is incredible no matter where we are.

Yes, driving there wasn't all super.  Yes, it was often hard to entertain three very busy humans when we weren't familiar with our surroundings.  Yes, it is difficult to feed people or go out to dinner as a whole clan.  Yes, packing and unpacking to go to different locations was tiring.  And yes, not adjusting to the time change made mornings VERY long (what in the world does anyone do at 4:30 or 5:00am?! 

But giving these boys experiences of mountains, seeing foxes walking around a parking lot, hiking with walking sticks, going to a new children's museum, seeing a fantastic zoo, driving THROUGH a mountain tunnel, and being together for an extended period of time with no other commitments is so worth it.  I am grateful to have had a fall break this year so we could really make Amy's wedding turn into a trip!  What a trip it was!  Colorado, we will see you again for sure!!

















Monday, October 16, 2017

COLORADO VACAY Part 1: Denver

After 18+ hours in the car with three adults, three kids, and two seasons worth of clothes, we finally arrived in Denver! Here are some of our favorite nuggets in our four days there...

1.) Denver is very gluten free: There are a lot of good gluten-free options for Judah in the Lansing area and at grocery stores, but they all get boring after a while.  We see the same food, the same snacks, the same mixes, and sample the same pizza crust (no matter what restaurant we buy from- thin crust, small, flat).  Denver opened up a new window for us because restaurants, in particular, had SO many more options.  Muffins, cookies, DETROIT-STYLE pizza, cheesy breadsticks, etc.  At one coffee shop, Josh asked where the gluten-free choices were thinking the barista would point to a small window or a few choices on a shelf.  Instead, he said, "Everything in here is gluten free except that small little area right there."  We had arrived at gluten free heaven. 

2.) The Denver Zoo was amazing: We've only done a couple of zoos in our life and sorry, Potter Park, but this zoo kicked your butt.  We saw mountain sheep actually climbing on a huge mountainish habitat.  We saw giraffes, multiple giraffes right up close!  There were also elephants and an incredible underwater display to compliment the "normal" things you might see at a zoo like tigers, otters, camels, etc.  Plus, for whatever reason, we went on a day that was completely deserted so we essentially had this ENORMOUS zoo all to ourselves.

3.) Red Rocks rocked: Even though the actual amphitheater was closed for a race, the paths around it were stunning.  It was also easy walking with little people and they loved how red their butts got when they inevitably took a spill. 

4.) Food was great: Did I mention the Detroit-style gluten free pizza already?! Denver Biscuit Company did not disappoint, and we had a great Italian meal at Tratoria .

This is a cinnamon roll.  It was everything.
Awesome pasta, awesome bread, awesome Italian beer
5.) Amy's wedding was worth the drive: There would never have been a Colorado vacation without Amy Sparling getting married! The bride was gorgeous, wedding was intimate, personal, and at a beautiful location over 7,000 feet in the air.  The food was even wonderful!  Also, I have become a semi-professional wedding reader so please inquire about your future wedding reader needs ;)

 
6.) Seeing my aunt and uncle was a special added bonus: We've always wanted to travel to Denver to see my Aunt Doreen, Uncle Paul, and cousin Kaity and finally got to see their stomping grounds.  It was wonderful spending time with them. 

7.) Weather was crazy and we dug it: Saturday and Sunday it was beautifully sunny and in the 70s only to be followed by a winter storm warning on Monday bring several inches of snow.  While the packing for the trip was ridiculous to accommodate all that, experiencing lots of kinds of weather brought a new adventure each day!

8.) Apparently my boys do not adjust to time change:  Yes, friends, that meant my children were sometimes awake in the 4s.  There's not much to do at 4:30 in the morning to keep people occupied.  Josh and I made sure to be in bed by 9pm to have any chance to keep up with them without being zombies. 

9.) Traveling with my mom: I've decided that when traveling with small children, there needs to be AS MANY HELPFUL ADULTS AS POSSIBLE ;)  From making up a game to play in the car, to insisting Josh and I have a dinner out alone to babysitting the boys so we could go to Amy's wedding, she did NOT disappoint.  I have no idea why she agreed to be in the car with us for 18 hours, and hang out with us while we were there, but we are SO grateful she traveled with our circus.  We were ALL hurting when we dropped her off at my aunt's to fly home. THANK YOU THANK YOU!

10.) Denver was a great city for kids:  There are many things to do and explore.  People are nice. The city is walkable, safe, and clean.  I've already mentioned how great the zoo was, but they also had an awesome children's museum we went to the day it snowed, several parks, playgrounds, cute neighborhoods, and other activities we did not partake in like the botanical gardens, an aquarium, and amusement park right in the city. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Power of "Thoughts and Prayers."

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the same news as most of you- hearing about the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.  As the news kept pouring in, so did people's opinions of it on social media.  I scrolled through seeing a lot of similar statuses and postings.  A couple, however caught my attention and have stuck with me.  I saw two different statuses on Facebook and a couple on Instagram putting down the use of people saying their "thoughts and prayers" were with Las Vegas.  

These people were presumably well intentioned- calling for more action than that and I understand- I sincerely do.  They must certainly be as frustrated and disheartened with the bad news that keeps coming and the lack of empathy and compassion we have in our leadership right now as I am.  They were certainly not coming from a bad place and, I'm hoping, not wanting to make anyone feel worse.

However, I was disappointed to see people use their social media platforms to put down or degrade ANY way people cope with a tragedy and as I scrolled through the comments on those posts there were lots of 'Amens,' (which I found a very interesting response), and many harsh insults talking about how "thoughts and prayers" were useless, a waste of time, and made no difference.  

Is that REALLY what we need right now? More insulting? More harsh judgments?  More division?  

Whether you are a praying person or not, it's important to note that pray is a verb.  AN ACTION.  It's also important you know that I am a do-er.

Is praying the only thing we as global citizens should be doing to make a positive impact on our world?! Certainly not.  But is it something? Oh yes in deed. YES.IN.DEED. 

When I've been pregnant, I've done all kinds of things, action things, to take care of myself.  I don't drink, I don't smoke, I eat the right foods, listen to my body, and read an immense amount of literature and research on how to grow nice healthy big babies....

I also prayed, every single night, over my belly.  Thanking God for the opportunity to carry this unborn child.  Trying to give all my worries and fears over to God.  Letting Him know how grateful I was and promising to be loving parent who would reflect His love.  

Each of these are actions.  Each of these are important.

In raising my children, I am doing all kinds of things, action things, to support them in becoming compassionate, kind, intelligent, contributing global citizens of our world.  I read with them, talk nicely to them, help them label feelings, condemn all acts of violence, insults, or rough housing, expose them to art, music, and support them in helping others.

I also pray over them, every single night.  Thanking God for their presence in our family, their importance on this Earth.  I ask Him to help my children know Him, talk to Him, love Him, follow Him.  I also pray for all the future people who will become their friends and loved ones- that each of them cherish my sons and bring out the best in them.  

Each of these are actions.  Each of these are important.  

Josh's cousin is fighting cancer.  He's been doing all sorts of things to rid his body of this-treatments, seen all kinds of doctors, and has been taking care of himself as his body fights and heals.

In addition, in just a few hours, Josh's extended family will gather together at his grandma's house to pray the rosary, together, in honor of his cousin and his fight.  I am honored to know these people and grateful to be a part of a family who knows that praying is doing something.

Again, each of these things are actions.  Each of these things are important.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When you look at recent events-

Should I praying AND giving blood to the Red Cross helping victims recovering in the hospitals in Nevada? Absolutely!

Should I be praying AND having difficult conversations with people who may not agree with me on the need in our country for tighter gun control? Certainly!

Should I be praying AND writing my senators BEGGING them to focus their time, talent, and money on mental health issues? Without a doubt!

Should I be praying AND donating to charities I support?  You betcha!

But I will never EVER doubt the power of prayer and what a powerful action that actually is.    

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer 2017- Highlights

"Summertime is always the best of what might be." 
-Charles Bowden

Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, which often symbolizes the end of summer.  Although I am still in denial about this and although the actual end of summer isn't until Friday September 22nd, (also known as my BIRTHDAY), summer as I know it is over. 

The air has been cooler, my dad is in the midst of closing the pool, and people are spending more time talking about football, pumpkin-flavored things, and tailgates than they are talking about trips the beach, BBQs, and running through sprinklers.  

When I wrote about last summer, I called it the best one yet!  I meant it; I really did.  This summer, 2017, upped the ante.  WOW, was it good! 

My Hundt boys and I had SO.MUCH.FUN. 

Here are some highlights...


  •  SWIMMING: We swam a lot in my parent's pool and a TON in Lake Huron.  All three boys can swim independently with swimmies on now.  Even Carter, which I can't believe.  Nolan has been recently experimenting with holding his breath underwater and swimming while doing that.  Carter was the most expertise at jumping off the side, especially when we went and visited Josh's parents on School Section Lake.  Judah wins the prize for usually being the first one in. 

Lake Huron Swimming

    Grammy and Papa's Pool Swimming
  • INDEPENDENT PLAY: One of my favorite things I witnessed this summer was when Nolan, Judah, and Carter played independently together.  The imagination was flowing this summer!
  • COTTAGING IN CANADA: We spent two different weeks and some long weekends at my parent's cottage this year.  Boys played and played and played and played.  They couldn't get enough and we couldn't get enough watching them.  Building sandcastles, playing with trucks, feeding fish, swimming, going down to the public beach to swim in the "river," playing board games, taking walks, going to the library and playgrounds.  Pure magic.   

Inner-tubing 

Trucks, trucks, more trucks

<3

Feeding fish
  • READING: This year we joined the summer reading program as a family.  We always read a lot, but we were intentional at adding some additional reading time into our day.  We went to the library constantly to check out new books.  In fact, I think I had at least twenty books checked out at any given moment during the summer.  Also, Josh read Nolan and Judah their first chapter book.  We went to a couple of kid events at the library too, which were great. I finished about fifteen books this summer and was trying to read an eclectic mix.  Finally read some adult fiction, was still reading parenting books and teaching books with some mystery, historical and fantasy books thrown in too (all young adult ;) )   
  • PRACTICE MAKES PROGRESS: The boys went to a soccer camp in the spring, had some tennis lessons, and did an art camp in the summer.  Watching them try new things and get better has been fun to watch.  Seeing their joy is even better.  
  • BIKE RIDING: Our favorite activity as a family has always been to take stroller rides.  I am sorry to say those days are a bit over because my guys want to be moving on their balance bikes now!  Those have been such a great purchase- I can't believe how fast they go! 
  • OUR YARD: A blog for another time, but our main focus, as far as house work, was our yard.  We dug up a TON of things, laid some new mulch, and fenced the place in.  Whew! A lot of work, but it's shaping up to be pretty great.
  • HUMAN TIME: Spending time with people is also a huge highlight.  The boys spending time with our cousins, playing with neighbors, seeing old friends and new friends, going out to dinners, watching parades, seeing extended family, having all my family up at the cottage, trips to the zoo or the District 5 trampoline park, or Impression 5, celebrating birthdays, holidays, and bachelorettes.  Those are all the absolute best. 

4th of July Parade

Papa, Grammy, and boys

Grandpa, Grandma, and boys
Playing at a playground 

Thank you, to all we love, who helped make this summer so fun and so special.  Thank you, especially, to my four boys. There is nowhere I'd rather be and no one I'd rather be with than all of you.