Caelan Vaughn, 4 1/2 Years

January 14, 2016

This is the first time I’ve been late on one of these reflections posts. It’s been a really crazy past few months and I just didn’t get it together to write this post by December 1st, when Caelan turned 4 1/2. But he’s still 4 1/2 now in January and things have settled down some and taken a good turn, so let’s see about this recap 🙂

The most significant part of the last 6 (or 7) months for Caelan has been his experience in school. He finished out the summer in the 3’s classroom. At the end of August, he moved up to the pre-K classroom. Leah also started in the 2’s classroom at the same time and Caelan seemed happy to have Leah there and was also very protective of her!


Caelan and his 3’s teacher

In October, I went with the kids on a field trip to a local farm. It was a lot of fun for the kids to go together and I always enjoy getting to spend time with the teachers and other parents.


Farm Field Trip

In November, we had a conference with Caelan’s teacher. She (and he) showed us all of the things he had been learning, and we were blown away. His writing had improved dramatically. He was learning to skip count by 2’s and 10’s. He was even sounding out letters and constructing words. The following week, he started reading to us from his Level 1 readers. I was so proud!! My 4 year old was reading!!



It was around that same time that we started hearing about problems at school. It’s a terribly long story that is difficult to tell because it’s made up of so many incidents that eventually led us to pull Caelan and Leah out of their school and find a new place for them. We felt that Caelan’s environment had become unfriendly and that those responsible for him there did not have his best interests at heart. I’m purposely being extremely vague, but suffice it to say out of a class of 12 children, Caelan became the 6th to leave since the beginning of the school year.


Christmas Show

It was a really difficult situation, and we struggled with the decision to move both kids to a new school. We had trouble finding a school with mid-year openings for our kids, but we lucked out and managed to move them to a new school just 3 days after pulling them from their old school. I worried about the transition. Caelan would miss his friends, especially one little boy to whom he had become very close over the past year.

It’s only been a week, but they are doing wonderfully!!! Caelan LOVES his new school and teacher. He was even reunited with another child who also left his old school earlier this year. He doesn’t seem to miss his old school at all (which has been very telling) though he does ask about his friend and I really hope I can arrange a playdate for them. But overall, I think this was the best thing we could have done for Caelan. It’s only been a week, but I’m really hopeful that this change in environment is exactly what he needed.


Mommy and Caelan

This past holiday season, we spent lots of time with family! First there was Halloween. This may have been the only year where Caelan and Leah were willing to get on board with my suggestion of coordinating costumes. Although, I’m still holding out a little hope for next year 🙂 This year, they went as Batman and Robin.


Batman and Robin

There was Thanksgiving with both sides of the family at Grammy and Pappy’s house this year.



We made cookies with both Grandma (and Aunt Jen) and Grammy (and Aunts Rachel and Nancy) and the kids really participated this year!! Caelan has been asking more frequently now to help me prepare meals, so I need to start getting him involved in that.


Making cookies

We went and saw Santa this year and both kids sat with him for the first time. Caelan asked for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, which he did receive 🙂


Visiting with Santa

Caelan also did some of his own Christmas shopping this year. Bill took him shopping and they picked out gifts for me and Leah. Caelan did a great job keeping his purchases a secret! Last year, he had no concept of keeping a secret.

Caelan and Leah are best friends. Since Leah has moved out of her crib, these two wake up in the morning and go into each other’s rooms to play. There’s plenty of fighting too, but overall, they get along really well. They make up games to play together, they scheme together, and they beg to have a sleepover. I will sometimes sit and watch them play and I’m SO glad they have each other.



Caelan stopped gymnastics class at the beginning of the summer and started up with swimming lessons. It was the first time he’d been in a swim class without me, and he did get off to a rough start. But he improved greatly over the course of 2 sessions. He is willing to swim on his own (with flotation) now. We took a break from swim lessons over the holidays, but hopefully we will start up again this Spring.



Back in August, Caelan started karate. He goes to class once a week and he seems to enjoy it. I can’t tell if he LOVES it or not, but he certainly likes it. He was very excited to earn his first new belt back in November.


Earning his Camo belt

Caelan has had a growth spurt these past few months! He was sort of stalled out for a couple years there but in the past year, he has shot up! I’m starting to shop for him some in the Boys’ section now 😮 He’s very, very independent at this point. There is little he needs help with in terms of self-care, though he does still ask for help often.

In just a couple months we will register Caelan for kindergarten!!!! I can’t believe it, but at the same time, I’m excited for him!! We drive through the crowded bus stop most mornings and Caelan talks about when he will get to ride the school bus with our neighbor, McKenzie. It will be a whole new world for all of us.

The last couple of months have been busy and difficult. I’m hopeful that Caelan’s new school environment will help him finish out his pre-K year on a good note!


Caelan’s 4 1/2 Year Stats

  • Wearing 5T and XS tops, 4T pants, size 11 shoes
  • Weight: 36.5 lbs
  • Height: 41 inches (3′ 6″)
  • Loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Heroes, Legos, trains, cars, watching movies, playing board/card games


Caelan Conversations, Part 19

August 11, 2015


CAELAN [in a tone of awe]: Guess what, Mommy? Yesterday, Pappy watched a no-hitter. And a guy fell when he was catching a ball!

SARAH: Wow, sounds exciting! You know that was a baseball game. That’s the same game we were playing in the yard the other day.

CAELAN: No, Mommy, it was a no-hitter.


One morning I made a smoothie and poured it into my travel mug.

CAELAN: Are you making a new Alexa?

For reference, Alexa (Amazon Echo) on the right, my mug on the left 🙂



On the way to a timeout…

CAELAN: I’m gonna poke a hole in the wall and hope the house falls down.

Um, okay. Not sure he thought that one through!


SARAH: Caelan, please drink your milk.

CAELAN: Did you say “shake your booty butt”?

BILL: No! Not at the dinner table!


On our way to the beach, we passed many farms and saw lots of farm equipment including huge sprinklers on wheels.

CAELAN: Are you kidding me with that sprinkler?!


SARAH: What’s your favorite color today?

CAELAN [who knows all his colors and numbers perfectly well]: Seven.


SARAH: Do you want me to hold your cake pop while you climb out of the car seat?

CAELAN: No, I’m magic. I can hold it AND climb out.


When I get home from work, Caelan runs to meet me in the mudroom…

CAELAN: Mommy, we’re having a face!

SARAH: What?

CAELAN: A feece….[looks confused, and runs away calling] Daddy, what is it again?

After a few seconds, he returns to the mud room…

CAELAN: A feast!! A picnic feast! You want to join us??

Caelan Conversations, Part 18

June 15, 2015


I am standing in front of the full length mirror in my closet after getting dressed…

CAELAN: Why are you looking in there, Mommy?

SARAH: I am looking to see if my clothes look okay.

CAELAN: You look beautiful, Mommy.

SARAH: Thanks baby.


I gave Caelan and Leah each a bowl of grapes. Caelan’s bowl was orange…

CAELAN [whining]: I didn’t want the orange bowl, I wanted the red bowl.

SARAH: Well don’t look at the bowl then, just eat your grapes.

After a minute or so…

CAELAN [whining]: Mommy, the orange bowl is letting me look at it!!


Caelan and Leah love to play with empty Tic Tac containers in the car. Caelan can open them on his own, but Leah needs help. After Caelan has opened it for her twice…

LEAH [to Caelan]: Open?

CAELAN [exasperatedly]: Ugh!! Again, Leah?! Mommy, Leah asked me to open hers and then she asked me again!!

Annoying, isn’t it… 🙂


SARAH: What should we get Grandma for her birthday?

CAELAN: A train! From Target!


Caelan is singing a made up song…

CAELAN: ♫♪ Oh I wish I was a little baby squirrel, baby squirrel! ♫♪ — Daddy, this part will be so funny, you will, like, freak out — ♫♪ I’ll poop on your head! ♫♪


I hand Caelan a cup of milk.

CAELAN: Thanks, from my teeth.


A conversation with our Amazon Echo, Alexa…

SARAH: Alexa, how are you?

ALEXA: I’m great. I hope you are too.

CAELAN: “I hope you are too”?…But you’re not.

SARAH: I’m not? Sure I am!

CAELAN: You’re not 2….

SARAH: Ohhhh…


Caelan opens a birthday gift from Leah. It’s a green Chick Hicks car that he’s been wanting for ages.

CAELAN: Ohhhh Leah! I’m so proud of you!!!


CAELAN: Okay, this is how it is. [points to Bill] You’re wrong. [points to Sarah] You’re right.

Caelan’s Cars Birthday Party

June 8, 2015

I’m going to do a whole post on Caelan’s birthday party this year! This party was THE party I have been wanting to do for years – super theme-y! And honestly what made it so cool was that Caelan loved it so much!! In the weeks leading up to the party, he watched me buy all the supplies and do all the prep and he was just loving every bit of it. I could have done a super theme-y party for his first birthday and it would have been cool, but at age 1, he would have had no clue. At age 4, he was really into it!

We had good weather on the day of the party which was great because everything was outside. It didn’t rain and it wasn’t unbearably hot, so that was great. However, it was SUPER windy. Unfortunately that made getting everything set up a little difficult and I ended up skipping a few of the decorations because they would have blown away. #fwp

Here’s how we put our Disney Cars themed party together!!

EDIT: I forgot to include the invitations!!!

The Invitations

I combined a few ideas I saw online and designed these invites!


The Cake

I almost chickened out of making this cake. I almost did a regular sheet cake with Lightning McQueen drawn on it, and that would have been cool. But I’m so glad I went for it and made this Lightning McQueen *shaped* cake!

For the cake, I used this recipe which I have used before and I knew it was very sturdy and easy to carve. I made 2 batches, in 2 9×13 pans. I also made 2 batches of my favorite vanilla buttercream icing. I reserved about 1 cup for details and tinted the rest red with Wilton gel color. Red is notoriously hard to make REALLY red but I managed to do it this time by adding half a bottle of the red gel color and then letting it sit in the fridge for about a day before using it.

I looked up a few tutorials online and printed out some pictures of Lightning from a few different angles and then used all that info to free-hand carve the cake into the shape of a car. I frosted it with the red buttercream. Most of the shaped Lightning cakes I saw online were covered in fondant. To be honest, fondant cakes are not my thing so I knew I wanted to stick with buttercream. I did make the detail decorations with fondant.


The Games

I grabbed a Pin-The-Headlight-On-Mater game from the party store. It came with 8 headlight stickers, but since we had more than 8 kids, I just color-copied the stickers to make more.


Ramone’s House of Body Art wasn’t really a “game” so much as it was a station, I guess. In the movie, Ramone does paint jobs at his House of Body Art, so a temporary tattoo station seemed like a good fit. Unfortunately, this was one of the things that got skipped due to the wind 😦

The major game for this party was the Piston Cup race! We had stacks and stacks of boxes leftover from our move last year so, over the course of several weeks, I picked out 6 boxes and made them into cars! I chose to do Lightning McQueen, The King, Chick Hicks (Caelan’s favorite), Doc, Francesco, and Mater. I used scrap pieces of cardboard, styrofoam, and a ton of hot glue to make the cars a little more stable. I spray painted them their main colors and then used acrylic paint and a foam brush for the eyes and any details. The rest of the details I printed out and glued to the cars.

We kept the cars out of sight until it was time for the race, which was a stroke of genius on my husband’s part. Once those cars were out, only the mention of cake tore the kids away from them!




This is the race track my husband drew in the yard with spray paint! We also stuck little checkered flags in the ground to help the kids see where the track was. They still sort of took a few short cuts 😉


The Favors

I can’t really take credit for anything but the execution of these ideas! I found everything via Pinterest and Google searches. These Pit Passes looked really cute and the kids could wear them during the party, but also keep them as a favor. I got the lanyards from Party City and the plastic holders from Amazon. I designed and printed the passes myself.

I also grabbed some little trophies so that each kid could take home their own Piston Cup. They are really, really small so I couldn’t even fill them with treats. As it turned out, we weren’t able to set the Pit Passes and Piston Cups out on a table as I had planned (wind!!) so Caelan handed out the Pit Passes and we just forgot to give out the Piston Cups.


The Food

Despite the fact that all the food was themed, it was actually less food than we would usually have for a party and it was easier to put together. (I was still running around like a crazy person minutes before the party though. Isn’t that always how it is??) We ordered pizza for delivery (we had WAY too much!!), had sodas, water and juice boxes to drink, the cake, and the rest was just snacks – most requiring zero prep! I made the little signs and uploaded them to Shutterfly for printing. Easier and faster than messing with my printer (which I did do for other things). The plan was for the signs to be held with place card holders, but again…wind…so they ended up taped to the tables and I think a lot of people didn’t get it. #fwpagain Here are the foods we had:

Francesco’s Pizzeria (pizzas)

Sheriff’s Stop Lights (fruit skewers)


Sally’s Cozy Cones (Bugles)


Sarge’s Surplus Snacks (pretzels, Goldfish, Teddy Grahams)


Mater’s Taters (potato chips and dip)


Luigi’s Casa Della Tires (chocolate donuts)

These were supposed to be stacked into a tower, but I skipped that because of the wind (it was REALLY windy!) but these got demolished so quickly it didn’t matter!


The Decorations and Paper Supplies

We had several folding tables set up with red and black plastic table cloths. I ordered plates and napkins from Amazon (because it was cheaper than the party store, which is not usually the case for party supplies!) and got the rest from the party store. We had checkered flag banners, a race banner, and little mini checkered flags. I don’t have a lot of good pictures of these things because – you guessed it – wind!


The Birthday Boy

The most important part of the party!!! This was all for him and he loved it 🙂


Caelan Vaughn, 4 Years

June 1, 2015

Somehow, we blinked and Caelan turned into a kid. He looks older. He acts older. We need to be careful what we say around him now because he is always listening! In the past couple months, we’ve tried to help him navigate some new social situations. He’s developed new friendships and been on all sides of the hurt feelings wheel (hurter, hurtee, witness). We are wandering into new territory where Caelan has more control over a lot of situations than we do. Parenting is hard, man! I want Caelan to be happy and have friends that he enjoys playing with. I also want him to be kind and compassionate, which he generally is, but 4 year olds have no filter and sometimes that leads to drama.


Caelan seems to be friendly with all of his classmates, but Joshua and Julia are the two that we’ve heard the most about in the last 6 months. Who is best friends with who changes on an almost daily basis, but it definitely seems like he’s having a good time at school!

We met with Caelan’s teacher back in April and discussed his progress in her class. We are so unbelievably proud of how well he’s doing! Academically, he’s well ahead. His teacher even said it’s a shame he’s so young because he’d do well in kindergarten THIS year. He knows all of his letters and can write most of them as well. We are working on sounding out words and that is exceedingly frustrating for Bill and me but Caelan is making progress. He can count past 100 now and he can also do some basic addition and subtraction. I was happy to hear from his teacher that Caelan actively participates in class and seems interested in learning. It is always fun for us to hear about what he’s learned that day, whether it’s a silly song or that “zombie” starts with the letter Z.

This Fall, Caelan will move to the pre-K (4’s) classroom for his last year of preschool before kindergarten (!!!!). We’ve heard that the pre-K teacher has a less traditional style of teaching so we’re curious to see how Caelan does in her class.


Caelan’s handwriting has gotten much better, but some of his letters need a little tweaking!

In May, Caelan’s class took a field trip to a local farm/petting zoo. I was very excited that I was able to go with him on this trip – it was my first time accompanying him on a field trip. It was great to spend some one-on-one time with him, see him with his friends, and get to spend some time with his teachers and a couple of the other moms and dads.

Jumping around here a little (6 months is a long time to cover!) but back in February, we took Caelan to his first live sporting event – a pro hockey game. It was also Bill’s and my first hockey game! We rode the Metro (another first for Caelan) to get to the stadium and watched the game from a suite that Bill’s company had rented. It was the perfect situation for Caelan’s first event. The suite allowed him to get up and walk around, rather than sitting in the seat the entire time, although he did sit and watch quite a bit. He loved chanting “Let’s go Caps!” and hearing the songs and sounds over the sound system.


Caelan has continued with his gymnastics class once a week. He’s really improved a lot in the past 6 months. Classes stop over the summer so we’ll think about whether or not to continue with gymnastics in the Fall or try another activity. At home, Caelan loves to play outside now that the weather is warm. He helps us with gardening and he rides with Bill on the tractor. Now that we have so much more yard space than we did at the townhouse, the kids have plenty of room to play. Luckily, our road is a dead end and gets very little traffic, but we spent last Fall drilling it into Caelan that he cannot run into the street. By now, he’s very good at following that rule. We don’t let him play outside unsupervised but we don’t need to hover over him and that is wonderful for all 🙂

Watering the garden.

We went to see the Easter Bunny this year, and to my surprise, Caelan didn’t seem afraid at all! Our first 2 attempts to sit on Santa’s lap were failures, but after this success with the bunny, I’m looking forward to another Santa visit this Christmas.


After spending 2 years in size 18 month pants/shorts, Caelan finally had a growth spurt and grew out of those this year. I got him some 2T pants, but he almost immediately outgrew those as well! Now he’s in 3T for pants, but in 4T/5T for shirts. It’s tricky to dress this kid!

Caelan and Leah are still great playmates, but as Leah gets older and more able to assert herself, there are more arguments. However, Caelan regularly tells me “Mommy, I really really really really really really  really really really really really really love Leah! She’s sooooooooooooooooo cute!” I know he loves her and the feeling is definitely mutual but they are brother and sister so fights are inevitable. Caelan has started trying to manipulate her by whispering to her and telling her to do something that he knows will get her in trouble. On the one hand, I get it. I used to do the same thing to my sister (sorry Ray!). But on the other hand…quit telling her to run in the street! Luckily I have been able to squash any dangerous suggestions so far.


Caelan is very independent now and he can dress and undress himself with minimal help (buttons, snaps). He can brush his teeth, go to the bathroom, wash his hands, get a drink from the fridge, clear his place at the table, go up and down the stairs, etc. It’s wonderful that he can do all those things by himself and doesn’t need our constant supervision anymore. In some ways, that makes him, as a 4 year old, much easier than a toddler. But all of those things he CAN do without supervision are also all the things that tend to cause fights and tantrums. He CAN put his shoes on in less than 30 seconds if he feels like it, but it normally takes 5 minutes or so of rounding him up, counting to 3, pushing past the “I-can’t-do-it” whining and other such craziness.


Caelan has been favoring me over Bill a fair amount lately. It’s odd because for the first 2-3 years of his life, he definitely favored Bill. But now, possibly he’s identified me as the less strict parent and that’s the reason for his preference lately. He and Bill have definitely been butting heads a lot lately. I hope it’s a phase and it will shift soon.

Why have they been butting heads? They don’t call it the horrible 3’s for nothing. See my comments above about putting on shoes. And it’s not just Bill and Caelan – I have plenty of run-ins with the 3/4 year old behavior as well. This whole year has been REALLY hard on that front. Everything is a fight – dinner (he claims to hate whatever we’re eating, even if he likes it, then argues with us over how many bites to eat), the bathroom (he will literally sob and wail “But I don’t have to pee!!” while peeing), putting on his shoes, brushing his teeth, getting ready for bed…He fights us every single step of the way. We have tried various tactics and some have worked better than others but we haven’t settled into anything consistent (I know we should). I know it’s all developmentally appropriate, but it’s exhausting. He’s also had more potty accidents than ever before, despite having been potty-trained for over a year now. It’s usually due to stubbornly waiting till the last second. We’ve heard from some other parents that 4 is slightly better behavior-wise, so I’m holding on to that shred of hope.


I’ve commiserated a lot with my friends who have kids the same age. They get it. I’m pretty sure I’ve scared my sister-in-law because my nephew is only 11 months and hasn’t hit the screamy-2’s or the defiant-3’s yet and she doesn’t want to lose her sweet baby to those phases. But she won’t, not completely. Sure, Leah is an expert screamer now, but then she climbs up in my lap, puts her face inches from mine, cocks her head to the side and sweetly asks “popcorn pwees?” and then she is the cutest child that ever existed. Or Caelan will say something that is so funny or clever or full of personality and I am in awe of how sweet and smart he is and how much I love him completely even though I was ready to lose my #$%^ 3 seconds ago. It’s a constant up and down, back and forth…love them, lose it, love them, lose it.

At the end of the day, I sit on the floor in Caelan’s room next to his bed and we play rock-paper-scissors for a few minutes and then talk about what we did that day or what we will do the next day. It’s one of my favorite parts of everyday. I am constantly in awe of his curiosity and his imagination. He makes up stories and names and draws on conversations we’ve had or things he’s learned at school to create his little world. As always, I’m excited for what’s ahead for him – new friendships, moving more and more towards being a kid and not a baby. This time next year, we’ll be registering him for kindergarten 😮 It’s so hard to believe that he’s been in our life for 4 wonderful years now!! I can’t imagine our world without him.


Happy 4th Birthday Caelan!! Love you forever and ever!!


Caelan’s 4 Year Stats

  • Wearing 4T and 5T tops, 3T pants, size 9W shoes
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • Height: 39.5 inches (3′ 3.5″)
  • Loves playing Cars, racing, listening to music, climbing, running

Caelan Conversations, Part 17

March 23, 2015


CAELAN: Be quiet, Mommy. I’m going to make us a pigeon.


Talking about what to have for dinner…

CAELAN: I want Chick Fil A.


CAELAN: Glory Days?


CAELAN: Lettuce?

SARAH: What?!


At the dentist, the receptionist notices Caelan’s blue and green gloves…

RECEPTIONIST: Those are Seahawks colors you know!

SARAH: Oh we’ll have to throw them away then! What’s your team, Caelan?

CAELAN: Peyton.


Caelan and Leah are fighting over two of Leah’s toys…

CAELAN: Leah can’t have both toys!

BILL: Yes she can, they’re hers.

CAELAN [sternly and loudly]: I’m going to keep an eye on you!!


CAELAN: Do you want to play chocolate potato?

SARAH: How do we play that?

CAELAN: We pass it till the music stops.

SARAH: Oh, HOT potato?



SARAH: Oh, we forgot your dinosaur paintings at school. We’ll have to get them tomorrow.

CAELAN: Oh man!…..Who’s the “man”?


CAELAN: Something smells.

SARAH: What does it smell like?

CAELAN: I don’t know. It smells like a smell.

SARAH: Okay then.

CAELAN: It smells like a leprechaun!


CAELAN: Mommy, guess who was at school today? It was Mickey Mouse and he was 40 and tall!


CAELAN: Mommy, you have to take the sneaky way to school.

SARAH: I don’t know the sneaky way. I’ll have to ask Daddy.

CAELAN: You go through the bushes, and then you’ll see school.

SARAH [continuing on the normal route]: Okay.

After a minute or two…

CAELAN: Mommy, you have to take the sneaky way.

SARAH: But I don’t know the sneaky way.

CAELAN: I told you, you go through the bushes and then you might see school.

SARAH: What bushes?

CAELAN [annoyed sigh]

Caelan Conversations, Part 16

February 19, 2015


CAELAN: You packed me an eyeball for lunch.

SARAH: I did not! You’re so random.

CAELAN: No YOU’RE random! Your name is Random.


Caelan is arranging his chair and Leah’s with a blanket over top…

SARAH: Are you making a fort?

CAELAN: No, I’m making a cage. For us to live in.


CAELAN: What’s Valentine’s Day?

SARAH: It’s a day when we say how much we love each other.

CAELAN: And there’s candy! And cupcakes! And treats!


As Caelan climbs into the bathtub he complains about the water temperature, which is a regular thing with him…

CAELAN: It’s hot!!

SARAH: It’s not hot, it’s warm….[quietly to Bill] *luke* warm, even.

CAELAN: It’s not luke warm! Luke warm has sparkles.


Caelan leans over and whispers to Leah…

CAELAN: Come on Leah, we’re going to turn Mommy into a pancake!


This one is hard to explain, but imagine the SNL “Really??” bit and that’s how he said this…

I was sweeping crumbs from the kitchen table onto Leah’s placemat so that I could then carry it to the trash can…

CAELAN: Onto Leah’s placemat?…Really??