Monday, March 8, 2010

Photographers In The Making

For Christmas, John and I typically buy a dual gift for the both of us. This past Christmas was no different and we purchased a new camera. We had been using a digital point and shoot camera, which worked out wonderful for the past several years. However, when we began having issues with it that gave us the idea to buy a new camera. Since we take so many pictures, we decided to invest in very nice, high tech camera.

We chose to upgrade to the Sony DSLR-A330. The camera included one lens, but we also purchased the next size lens. This will give us the option to take pictures from a further distance. We are very happy with our choice...especially the picture quality and the speed at which you can take pictures. Speed was a very important decision in our purchase since Kyle is constantly on the move, we need to move fast! The size and convenience did take some getting used to since we were used to a small hand held camera.

John and I are having fun experimenting with our photography skills. We still have a long way to go before we are considered experts, but with as much as we use it we will be gaining plenty of experience.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lone Elk Park

Today was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Planning an outdoor activity seemed to be our only option...can't waste time indoors when it's so pretty! Believe it or not, The Spence Family chose to head to a park, but this isn't our typical kind of park. Lone Elk Park is a nature, scenic, hiking, wildlife area where elk, bison, deer, waterfowl, and wild turkey call home. We located all these animals during our tour except for the deer and the wild turkey...maybe next time! Lone Elk Park is 546 acres so it is impossible to take in everything in one visit. Also, The World Bird Sanctuary is located next door which we also plan to take Kyle too one day in the future. It's always so fun and exciting heading on new adventures with Kyle and watching him enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors!

There were plenty of bison in view...
aren't they such pretty animals? Ha!
Just a couple of scenic pictures. I can only imagine how
pretty the area is once the leaves are on the trees and
especially during the fall once the leaves change colors.
It was such a refreshing treat to spend quality time enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures with my boys this weekend. We can finally see light at the end of the tunnel that spring is on it's way...Hooray!! Hope everyone had a fun-filled weekend!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Playground Safety At Its Finest

While we were at the park this afternoon there was a little girl younger than Kyle playing in the same area. After watching her a few minutes, we looked around to locate her parents because she was performing some pretty dangerous moves. Well, the parents were no where in sight, but later we realized who her mom was and she was sitting on a bench across the park smoking a cigarette. I couldn't resist and had to snap a couple of pictures because I couldn't believe my eyes. She was climbing up a twisty pole and once she reached the top she would jump in mid-air to a platform. She was also climbing on top of a tube slide. John thought we should leave so we wouldn't be responsible in case she fell and hurt herself. I felt as though we should stay and make sure she was going to be alright. John had to help her a few times before she fell and injured herself. The pictures below will show the dangerous tricks she was performing.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I have witnessed a child being left unsupervised. I feel as though I have to watch Kyle's every move while we are in public and I don't understand how some parents can be so negligent, especially with a child this young. I feel it's part of being a responsible parent to keep an eye on your child because accidents can occur in the blink of an eye.

Warmest Day in 2010

Today was the warmest day St. Louis has seen in 2010 and it seemed everyone was out to enjoy the first taste of spring! If only it would last, but I'm sure Mother Nature is just teasing us! We can't be picky and take each beautiful day to head outside and soak up the sun and warmer temperatures. We took Kyle to one of our favorite parks, which is typically not very crowded, but today was a different story...plenty of other people stole our wonderful idea!

As usual, Kyle loves the freedom of being outdoors. This year, he is really enjoying the slides more than usual....I should have counted, but I'm sure he went down the slide at least 50 times today. The park has a sand volleyball court and Kyle was determined to play in the sand. He must be trying to tell us he wants to go on a beach vacation this year. Also, in a recent post I mentioned our spring/summer goal for Kyle...transitioning him to the big boy swing. Well, yesterday he actually got on one, mainly because he was following his friend and today he also got on one, but wasn't such a fan. It really depends on the swing and how low it is to the ground. I'm sure once we find the perfect swing he will become a pro! But, we are making progress!!

Tomorrow is going to be another warmer day, so we are making plans to head outside once again. Hope you had nice weather in your neck of the woods!
Kyle had his eye on the prize...
the playground
One of his fifty trips down the slide Not so sure about this swing
Kyle the tree hugger What a beautiful day Waterfall

Friday, March 5, 2010

Productive Date Night

Thursday evening, John and I attended a workshop seminar entitled "Managing Challenging Behaviors" sponsored by the Early Childhood Center where Kyle attends preschool. The seminar focused on techniques for managing challenging behaviors, learning the functions of problem behavior, how to identify the function of behavior, and how to teach a replacement behavior which achieves the same function.

We thought this would be beneficial to attend, to assist us with managing some of Kyle's not so "wonderful" behaviors. What we have learned is that Kyle's behavior issues are attention seeking. He tends to "act out" when he isn't getting the attention he wants (or thinks he deserves) from us. Most of the time, he wants our undivided attention and will go to great lengths in order to achieve his goal. Honestly, we didn't come home with as much knowledge on the subject as we were hoping, but we did learn one important fact. Based on the attendance at the workshop, we certainly are not the only parents struggling with some difficult behaviors. We were able to speak with another couple who has a son about the same age, and it was helpful to hear what they have experienced with their son. It was a small world because their son was also born prematurely and spent time in the same NICU where Kyle was for eighty six days.

After the workshop, we did eat dinner at a great Italian restaurant...Rich and Charlie's. Kyle was with a sitter while we were away and they seemed to have a great time together...doing crafts, reading, playing with trains, etc. It's always comforting to know that he is comfortable with babysitters and doesn't have a tough time with the separation....this proves he is growing up!!

What Is Your Typical Day Like????

Today, I am participating in Kelly's weekly blog event..."Show Us Your Life". This weeks topic is "What is Your Typical Day Like?" For those who aren't regular readers of my blog, I am a SAHM to a four year old preschooler named Kyle. My typical day is absolutely glamorous and I know many of you will be anxious to jump into my shoes and live out my typical day....Ha Ha :)

6:45a.m. - 7:30a.m. The alarm rings, which is way to early for this mommy, so the alarm is snoozed a minimum of two times. Once I finally crawl out of bed, I take a shower and get dressed. I like to get myself ready before getting Kyle up and ready for his day. During this time, if I hear Kyle waking up, I know the morning routine will run much smoother

7:30a.m. -7:45a.m. Head upstairs to get Kyle out of bed. This is somewhat of a challenge if I need to wake him from a deep sleep. I've always attempted to live by the rule of "never wake a sleeping baby", but when he has preschool this is a neccessary evil! Once he is fully awake I get Kyle dressed and ready for school.

7:45a.m. -8:15a.m. Time for Kyle to eat breakfast and have a little down time before heading out the door. During this time, I finish getting dressed if this didn't take place the way it should have earlier.

8:15a.m. - 8:30a.m. Leave the house and drop Kyle off to preschool.

8:30a.m. - 11:30a.m. Since Kyle is in school for these three hours, I attempt to get as much accomplished as I possibly, errands, appointments, or meeting friends for hot chocolate (since I don't drink coffee). It is amazing how much you can get done when you are alone! This may seem like a long time, but this three hours flies by so fast and before I know it I'm heading to pick him up.

11:30am. Pick Kyle up at school.

11:45a.m. - 2:00p.m. Arrive home, eat lunch, read books, do puzzles, and play, play, and play some more. During this time we also have some down time...usually Kyle will watch an episode of Thomas the Train and I will "try" to get on the computer. "Try" is the key word because Kyle isn't a big fan of me being on the computer when he is awake. I like to clean as we go so the house and playroom isn't a complete disaster zone once the day is done, but I've found that this is much easier said than done...on most days!

2:00p.m. - 4:00p.m. Kyle and I head out and about for an afternoon activity. This activity changes from day to day, but we go to the carousel, children's museum, local science center, play dates with friends...just to name a few. We are looking forward to the spring/summer when we will be able to plan outside activites!! Spring can't get here quick enough!!

4:00p.m. Arrive home, plan dinner, and prepare for John's arrival.>

5:o0p.m. John arrives home, I begin to prepare dinner. and the "witching hour" begins. Since Kyle no longer is napping in the afternoon, by this time he is about "done", so his behavior can be very say the least.

5:30p.m. We sit down as a family at the kitchen table and eat dinner. Unfortunatley, dinner time isn't very relaxing because Kyle is melting down, along with the fact he isn't a very big eater so John and I are up and down during our's a very good thing we both are fast eaters!

6:00p.m. Wash/dry dishes, and clean the kitchen. I don't like to have this chore looming too late in the evening, if at all possbile.

6:30p.m. -7:00p.m. Take Kyle upstairs for his bath, brush teeth, and read a book or two before going to sleep.

7:00p.m. - 11:00p.m. Time to spend with John, do laundry, pick up any debris left from the day, watch our many reality television shows, read, and play on the computer.

11:00p.m. Bedtime...time to rest up and do it all again!!

This is a breakdown of the fun times of a SAHM. It may not be the most glamorous life one could lead, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to stay at home with Kyle in his early years. If you are interested, head over to Kelly's blog to read about the "typical days" of many other wonderful bloggers!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Until next time...take care!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is It Spring?

The Spences are ready for spring...along with everyone else!! Today was such a beautiful felt and looked like spring. The temperature was about fifty degrees which is technically a little too chilly for spring like temperatures. After such a long winter with such cold temperatures fifty degrees feels wonderful!

Of course, the three of us took advantage and headed out to enjoy the afternoon. Where else would we go to do this? A park of course and needless to say Kyle enjoyed his time outdoors...climbing the equipement, going down the slides, going around and around on the merry go round, and his all time favorite...swinging! One goal we have for the summer is to get Kyle comfortable on a "big"boy" swing. He has been on the big swing in the past, but isn't a huge fan and much prefers the enclosed bucket swing. At four years old, Kyle is a bit big for this type of swing, but it makes him so very happy as you can see in the photo below. I need to find a strategy to assist him in getting over his fear of the big swing.

So happy on the bucket swing
So happy to be outside Here he comes, down the slide
We have been to this park a number of times, but today we discovered a creek located behind the park. We walked closer, only to see there was absolutely no water, so we used it as an opportunity to explore nature. We will need to check back after a heavy rain to see the creek filled with water. Today, it was a neat experience to walk in it...without getting wet!

The empty creek turned into our playground
This was just a neat picture I took of an airplane
and the pretty blue sky
Hope everyone had a great weekend, as well as a great February. Tomorrow is the first day of March...where does the time go! See you next month!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Loving His Veggies

As I have mentioned in the past, getting Kyle to eat is a bit of a challenge. I am always in search of new things for him to try in an attempt for him to get the proper amount of nutrition. As I was browsing through a magazine recently, I noticed an advertisement for V8 V-Fusion. V-Fusion is a juice drink which is fruit flavored, but includes the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Kyle is a big "drinker" so I immediately went to the store so Kyle could have a taste test. Well, needless to say Kyle is addicted to the new drink! The drink comes in a variety of flavors, but Kyle's favorite is the strawberry/bananna combination. Of course, I would love if he ate veggies, but at least with this new drink he is getting some veggie nutrition. So, if you know of anyone who is lacking the proper amount of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet this is a great alternative.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Preschool Changes

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, 2010 has been a year of change for The Spence Family. Along with the big changes in John's work, Kyle also was transferred to a new school/classroom after the holiday break. Since Kyle turned three, he has been enrolled in the Early Childhood Preschool offered by the school district. When Kyle began the program, the only morning openings available were at an elementary school location. Kyle has really enjoyed his time at this school setting and became comfortable with the teachers, therapists, and classroom assistants. In the fall, it was decided between John, me, and the early childhood staff that it would in Kyle's best interest to transfer to a classroom at the actual Early Childhood Center. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone who was working with Kyle, but know that we need to do what is best for Kyle and his developmental success. The staff feels they will be able to keep a closer eye on Kyle to assist in particular areas he is having a more difficult time with.

Kyle has been attending his new school since the beginning of January, but I feel as though he hasn't been in a consistent, normal routine due to snow days, holidays, and teacher developmental days. Kyle (and I) had a rough time for several weeks with the adjustment, with tears at drop off. At his old school, I would drop Kyle off in a car pool line, and at his new school, I need to walk him into the building, to the classroom. Honestly, this was a hard adjustment for me as well, especially on very cold, snowy, rainy days and not to mention the craziness which goes along with finding a parking place. I'm leaning towards letting Kyle ride the school bus beginning next year. The preschool buses are smaller than a regular bus and there is a helper who rides on the bus to straps the children in so I do feel it would be a safe option. We also really like Kyle's new teacher...she is great with the children and is so easy going and laid back. It was also comforting to know that his new teacher had worked with Kyle a little during summer school, so she was familiar with him and glad to have him join her classroom.

Kyle is making so much progress in school, especially in the speech and language area, which is so very exciting for us. It's so much fun to actually be able to have a "little" conversation with Kyle! He is still receiving speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. He has recently started music therapy and according to the therapist notes he seems to be doing very well during his sessions. We have a parent/teacher conference scheduled in a couple of weeks and we are anxious to hear all the good things they will have to say about Kyle's progress. Although, Kyle is making great strides in many areas, he still has plenty of "catching up" to do, but have complete faith he will catch up to his peers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010 - Year of Change

I hope everyone has had a great start to 2010! The new year brought a couple of big changes to The Spence house. John and I are creatures of habit, so change can be difficult. Kyle is a little more "go with the flow" so it isn't as difficult for him. Hopefully, for his sake he will stay this way and not take after his Mommy and Daddy...LOL! In this post, I will only discuss one of the changes so the post won't be too long and hopefully discuss the other in a post tomorrow.

At the end of December the company John worked at for 14 years was purchased by another company. The company he worked for was a rather small company and the new company is a much larger company, based in Helsinki, Finland. With this change, has come travel. Since we have been married, John has only traveled once for an overnight trip, which was pre-Kyle, so travel is definitely not something our family is accustomed to. His first trip was to Boulder, Colorado for a week in the beginning of January. Kyle and I managed just fine except for one stressful situation, but in the end everything was fine.

John's second trip was to Helsinki, Finland. This was a seven day trip and quite a a snowy, cold adventure for him. Unfortunately, the week consisted of work, work, and more work so he wasn't able to sight see as much as he would have liked. I do have to say they have some absolutely delicious chocolate so I did get something good from his trip...LOL. My parents came to spend the week with Kyle and me which certainly made me feel more comfortable since John was out of the country. He already has another trip planned in March, but it is within the United States and only for three days. I have a new found respect for families who deal with plenty of travel on a regular basis. It isn't easy, but with many jobs these days it is a necessity.

Through John's work travels we have a new best friend named Skype. It is totally awesome that we can video chat with each other...makes it a little easier and best of all it is FREE!! Kyle isn't quite sure what to think of seeing Daddy on the computer screen, but it is so cute when he kisses and hugs the computer is priceless!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Round and Round He Goes

Kyle has discovered a way to beat the winter blues and cabin fever....the carousel. There is a very nice, two story carousel at a local mall which Kyle LOVES! He could literally ride it all day, everyday! At one point several weeks ago, whenever he would get dressed he thought he was going to ride on the carousel. Kyle has become a "regular" with the workers since he is there at least five times per week. We have also been using this as a "reward" for doing well using the potty. Typically, he has it set in his head which animal he would like to ride...his favorites in no particular order are the elephant, lion, tiger, zebra, deer, dragon, and the horse. We didn't make it to the mall today, so I'm certain that will be on our agenda tomorrow! Enjoy the's easy to get a picture of Kyle smiling since he is always so happy when going round and round!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kyle's Magical Day

One of the most popular attractions in our area for children is The Magic House, St. Louis Children's Museum. John and I have been very excited to bring Kyle to experience the "magical excitement" of the museum. We have been waiting for the perfect time, so he could enjoy what it has to offer and today was the day we chose to visit for the first time.

Kyle absolutely LOVED The Magic House!! It is filled with activities for children to explore, pretend, discover, play, construct, and create. Kyle was able to pretend to be working in a bank, a restaurant, grocery store, as well as being a mechanic. He also enjoyed the "construction zone" pretending to be a construction worker, wearing a tool belt, painting, etc. One of the cutest areas is the "Star-Spangled Center" where children can sit at the President's desk and play in a jury room. "Once Upon A Time...Exploring The World of Fairy Tales" is a limited time exhibit which Kyle enjoyed. He was able to have a hands on, interactive experience from several of the most popular fairy tales, including Jack and The Bean Stalk.

This is just a small sampling of what there is to see and is impossible to explore the entire Magic House in one visit. Kyle had such a great time, we decided to purchase a yearly membership. With the membership we have free admission for an entire year, as well as a few other perks. We look forward to our next visit in the very near future!!

Kyle, the mechanic, filling up the windshield washer fluid. Our future Mozart.
This place is electrifying!
Kyle serving Mommy and Daddy some pizza. Kyle also enjoyed the museum gift shop.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spence Saturday Snip Its

I love Saturdays, which means my boys and I have some family fun! This morning, John and I took Kyle to a "Planes, Trains, and Things That Go" workshop sponsored by the Parents As Teachers group through our local school district. The event was advertised for ages 2-5 so we figured it would be a perfect outing that Kyle would love, since he is all about "things that go". The majority of the children there were younger than Kyle, but it certainly didn't stop him from having a good 'ole time. By far, Kyle's favorite part of the morning was "driving" the fire truck...he has seen a fire truck up close and personal on many occasions, but it's always fun and exciting each and every time.

Kyle, The Fire Chief, driving the fire truck
We were experiencing a "heat wave" in the St. Louis area today with temperatures reaching into the 5o's. We couldn't pass up the awesome opportunity, so this afternoon we headed to the park to soak up the "warmer" temperatures. Kyle has been antsy to get outside and has been asking to go to the park practically everyday....unfortunately everday the answer is no, but today his wish came true! Kyle was so happy to be set free and was able to run off some much needed energy. John and I enjoyed the fresh air as well....The Spence Family is ready for spring!

So happy to be on the playground. I come!
Ready, Set, Go!!!!!! Can you catch me???
My two favorite "boys".

Friday, February 19, 2010

Micro Preemie Miracle

Today at Kelly's Korner, she is hosting a "Show Us Your Life - Ministry". These posts can be on a wide variety of topics to help encourage others through something you have experienced. I chose to participate and introduce you to my micro-preemie miracle.

My micro-preemie miracle son, Kyle, was born on October 5, 2005 at 25 weeks gestation. Kyle was 1 lb. 10 oz., was 12 inches long and spent 86 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He has shown us that he can make it through anything...from his respiratory/breathing issues, infection, laser eye surgery due to ROP, many hours of therapy, wearing a helmet due to plagiocephaly, and his many doctors appointments. I am so thankful that Kyle is such a healthy and happy (most of the time...LOL) preschooler. Kyle's main challenge from being born a micro-preemie is his developmental delays. He has received therapy services since he was eight months old and continues to receive services through our local school district at preschool. I have come to realize that Kyle is on his own little time line to meet milestones and age appropriate skills. I will probably always worry a little more about things since he had such a rough start in life, but with his zest and love for life, I know he will be just fine as he grows up...just may be a little more challenging at times.

My main purpose to share this blog post today, was to encourage other parents who may experience prematurity...preemies are strong, little fighters who will never give up! With the wonderful assistance of a top notch NICU staff, therapists, teachers, and a very determined little guy we have come such a long way on our micro-preemie journey. It isn't something I wish upon anyone, but the outcome can be very rewarding if you are ever faced with this challenge in life.

Kyle in the NICU
Kyle - Age 4

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friendship Day Party!

This morning Kyle had his Friendship Day Party at preschool. The school district doesn't use the term Valentine's Day for religious reasons, so hence the name Friendship Day. The party was during the last hour of school...complete with a card exchange, crafts, games, and of course party food! The children decorated shoe boxes with pictures and hearts to put their cards and other goodies in. Kyle brought a fun, festive, holiday bag for each of his classmates. Inside the bag was two boxes of sweetheart candy and two small size play-doh containers. It seems the majority of preschool age children love candy and play-doh, so I figured it was a good combination. He also gave his classmates a picture search Valentines card. I'm sure a good time was had by all celebrating the true meaning of Valentine's Day...Friendship!

Kyle is all set and ready to head to his Friendship Day Party!

Goodie bags for his classmates.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!!


The Spence Family would like to wish everyone a Happy Mardi Gras! Once again, we are wishing we were in New Orleans for the celebration, but we are there in spirit...especially Kyle! He was sporting his purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras shirt to school this morning and last week he brought king cake to share with his classmates during snack. I would love for Kyle to have the Mardi Gras experience as he is growing up, but it seems to be a difficult time of year for our family to travel. St. Louis does celebrate Mardi Gras, but on a much smaller scale. We haven't attended the local parades, but hope to in the years to come. Being from New Orleans, I'm sure I would be very disappointed with the parades, since New Orleans is the true Mardi Gras, but I'm certain Kyle would enjoy the festivities that STL Mardi Gras has to offer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


The Spence Family would like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day! We had a wonderful day spending quality time with one another. John and Kyle brought me a dozen beautiful roses and gave me the sweetest cards showing their love and appreciation! Kyle also brought home special artwork he made at preschool, especially for Mommy, which I will always treasure!

John and I celebrated Saturday evening with a special Valentine's date night! We began the evening with dinner at Candicci's, a local Italian restaurant. The meal was delicious and we enjoyed every single bite! After dinner we enjoyed a drink, relaxing by a fire, enjoying our time alone, having an adult conversation! To end the evening, we went to The Sky Music Lounge to listen to a local cover band...extremely loud, but we enjoyed the music and people watching! John and I always have a great time on our "dates" no matter what we decide to do. As much as we love Kyle, it's nice to get out and about with each other. Hope everyone had a special day with their loved ones!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who Dat!!!


Super Bowl Sunday was a very exciting day for anyone who LOVES the Saints, as well as the city of New Orleans. The Saints won their very first Super Bowl in history! I was thrilled the Saints went all the way...not only for the fans, but for the city itself. I'm sure this brought some much needed energy to the city after what everyone experienced in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. It was a great game, which had everyone sitting on the edge of their seats until the end when "Who Dat" nation was standing on their feet celebrating the win! Of course, we watched the game in St. Louis, cheering for the Saints all the way, dressed in our black and gold. Kyle was so proud he even wore his Saints jersey to school to show his New Orleans Saints spirit!

Kyle, the cutest Saints fan! He was holding a football that was signed by
Ricky Jackson, who was recently elected into the Hall of Fame.