Hammond Family

Moving forward, one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


So I know I haven't posted in awhile, and it could stay like that for a bit. Things are just crazy busy, and I know they're not even as busy as they have been in years past. We had a good Thanksgiving going out to League City to see our friends (more like family) Austin and Amy. Their daughter Avonlea is the same age as Emily, and it was interesting to see Lily and her play together. I had one of those "could have been" moments-if Emily would have been born without her different challenges, this would have been their age difference. But it didn't make me super sad or cry or anything, it was just an interesting thought! Lily is in a hitting faze, so we're trying to work on that. I remember with my little sister the three's were way worse than the two's, so I was somewhat prepared, but they really are worse! I think it's because when they are two, they are still learning things, but when they are three, they know better! I decided not to do Christmas cards this year. Something had to give, so that was what gave. I'll try to post something on here and maybe send out an email, but I'm sorry that we won't be sending them out! I still love getting them from people, and I will plan better for next year. I'm going home Dec. 14th with the kids, so my month is kind of cut in half, plus with church stuff I just am quickly running out of time! I'll try to post pictures, too. We got smartphones for an early Christmas present and I haven't really figured out how to upload pictures from my camera phone all at once onto my computer. Can you do that?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sea World

The weekend of Halloween we went to Seaworld with Robby's work. He's been at the city 5 years, and every five years they do something to celebrate; usually it's a free day at the zoo, but this year it was a free day at Seaworld! We haven't gone since Lily was about Lance's age, so it was really fun to go. This picture was at the end of the day, in front of the dolphin zone that splashed us.
So we actually fed the dolphins, which I was so excited about. The dolphins were excited, too. They jumped up and splashed us, with the kids taking the brunt of it. They weren't so happy about feeding the dolphins after that!
Lance did like watching the Sea Lions, though.
Lily and Robby watching the whales. Lance slept through it.
Lily and I actually went on this. We're in the second row on the left. She was very brave. She cried a little bit afterwards because she got wet, but she wasn't too traumatized! Probably not our best parenting decision to take her on it, but oh well!
The front part of the ride. You go backward down that roller coaster part.
The kids got to wear their Halloween costumes for part of the day. Lance, as you can see, was thrilled about it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Morgan's Wonderland

Lily with her best friend.

Last Friday I had the chance to take Lily and Lance and go with a friend to Morgan's Wonderland. I have wanted to go there since it opened last year, and on Friday everyone got in for $5, so it was the perfect time to go. Morgan's Wonderland is the first park of it's kind that was designed and built with people of all abilities in mind. It was amazing! When Emily was here we knew it was being built, but it wasn't completed before she passed away. I really didn't take very good pictures, but every aspect of it was created so that individuals in wheelchairs or with other special needs can experience everything. They have swings that you can place and buckle your child in, or, for bigger kids/adults, you can actually wheel the wheelchair into place, fasten it in, and then let push the entire wheelchair so it swings! It's the same thing with the carousel. You can wheel a wheelchair into place, and then the entire spot moves up and down, just like if they were on a horse. The playgrounds were so much fun, and were all ramps. They have cars you can drive, a sensory village-basically a mini children's museum, a minature train that goes around the park, a full sized gym, and the list goes on.
When we entered the park I just started crying. I was totally caught off guard by the emotions that hit. It was just amazing to me that one man's vision created this park, and that children and adults like Emily could go and enjoy it side by side with their families. What a blessing! I loved seeing all of the kids and adults walking around and being pushed around in their strollers/wheelchairs. And I loved that it was just so natural. Lily and Lance absolutely loved it, too. They could have stayed all day. I'm just really grateful for people like Gordon Hartman.
I was talking with one of my friends about my last blog post, and what do you say to someone who has a child with differences/special needs other than, "What's wrong with them?" I think for me the thing I appreciated was when people didn't say anything! Not that I got offended when they asked what was wrong, because I know that's natural, but when people would say things like, "She had beautiful eyes." Or, "Tell me about Emily." Or who just treated her like she was a typically developing kid, and would talk to her and acknowledge her. Because "what's wrong?" just seems like you're focusing on the negative and not the positive, and who the person is not, or what they can't do, instead of who they are and what they can do. I guess it just puts me on the defensive. I think we can all be a bit "mother bear" about our kids! And for the most part people were great about really trying to see Emily and understand her.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Funny Things

There are some funny things people say that have been brought to my mind the last few weeks. I've been guilty of doing/saying each one of these at some time or another. I think it's human nature. So I'm really sorry!


If there is something your child is struggling with, or they have a disability, and someone says, "What's wrong with them?"

When someone is going through something really tough another person says, "I just can't imagine." Doesn't help me.

When someone says,"You look so tired." Or, "You look beat." I can read between the lines and know what you're really saying! Again, I know I've said this to someone before. I'm sorry!

When people don't think before talking about a sensitive subject (today when I told someone who asked how many children I have that I have a daughter who passed away he said, "Oh. Did she drown?" Say, what?) I know I've been guilty of this, even this week, so once again, I'm sorry!

When people ask you how many more children you're planning on having, or when you're planning on having another one. Again, totally guilty-I've done this way too many times.
When people ask you, "Is that a baby bump or are you just standing funny?"
you're walking around with your newborn/3 month old/six month old, etc, and someone asks you when you're due!

I try to remember that people mean well when they say things like this. I don't always succeed. And if my best friend asks me how many more kids I'm planning on having, or tells me I look like ____ it's a bit different that coming from someone I met yesterday!

This last one isn't a bad thing, I just think it's kind of funny. It's when someone says"Congratulations" when you're asked to do something at church. I understand the sentiment, and I really appreciate it. I guess to me saying congratulations is more something you say when someone has aspired to something and then accomplished it. Like all of these wonderful ladies I know who have been losing weight. They have worked hard! Or when you get accepted into some kind of program/school you've tried hard to get into. However, if I'm ever called to be Primary Chorister at church again, you may congratulate me, because I do aspire to that!

Friday, September 30, 2011

What are Mountains?

A few weeks ago I flew to Colorado alone with the kids for a week. We really had a great trip-I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it went! Lance enjoyed having a seat to himself on the plane ride there.
The day we got there Kathie picked us up and we played with Kyle and CJ. This log behind them I carried Lily across-I was quite proud of myself, as was Kyle, who told me I was the first grown up to ever go across it!
The next day we rented a car and drove from Denver (stopping at Cafe Rio on the way!) over to Sterling, where Parker and Jessie live. Lily really hasn't spent much time with these girls-they saw each other at the family reunion in July and that was the first time in over 2 years. But they became quick friends. We did have a few fights-we knew it was time to leave when Lily and Kylee were laying on the floor with their legs wrapped around each other hitting each other over a doll house. But we had a great time!
Jess had arranged for us to go to her friend's house and ride horses. Kylee and McKinley both rode by themselves all around-I was very impressed. Not Lily, though.
She rode with Kylee, and then she and I rode. I hadn't been on a horse for probably at least 10 years, but it was so much fun! I can see why people love it so much.
Lance wasn't that impressed with the horses but he LOVED this dog. It made me feel quite bad that we live in the city.
John and Coya came from Nebraska for Jessie's birthday BBQ. It was so fun to see both my married brothers and their families! I will hopefully go again next year.
Mady had fun (I think). I know my kids had fun with Mady.
We stopped at my good friend Anna's house in Greeley, and then went back to Kathie's. I love these boys' faces.
My last full day there we drove to Colorado Springs and met up with my dear friend Terrie. She left me in Texas and moved to greener pastures, but it was great to visit her and her family.
This is up above Colorado Springs. It was such a beautiful day-I could live there so easily!

Love these girls!
We went to Garden of the Gods, which we had also gone to last year. We didn't make it too far around, but it was a lot of fun to see again.

The plane ride home was a bit rough, but no layovers, so we survived. Thanks to all those people we saw-now come and visit us please!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ode to San Antonio

I've been thinking a lot lately, I don't know why, about what makes San Antonio, San Antonio. Now, I want anyone who reads this to remember, I didn't grow up here, and I've only been here six years. But there are a few things I've noticed. I'll start with the things I noticed pretty quickly after we moved here.

1. The grass should not legally be able to be called grass. I had never lived anyplace that didn't have soft grass. I didn't know non-soft grass existed. The first time I walked around our apartment complex I think I cried.

2. Texans really are nice people. It's always nice going to the grocery store here (other than Wal-mart, which doesn't count), and receiving help out to the car, balloons given to the kids, smiley faces when your kids are throwing fits. Whenever we move, I think this is one of the things I will miss the most.

3. The whole freeway system is a bit confusing.
a. You have highways that become freeway-like at certain points, so you think they're a freeway, only you don't see freeway signs, just highway signs. 281 and 1604 the biggest offenders. Similarly, you'll be driving on what you think is a freeway and all of a sudden come to a stoplight.

b. We have access roads with turn-arounds. But, sometimes the frontage/access road ends with no warning (usually because there's train tracks in the way) or, you get off the freeway, (or what you think is a freeway), looking for turn around, because the store you want is on the other side, and there is no turn around. So you're stuck at the light forever waiting to go left.

4. Texas wildflowers are largely a myth. We've lived here 6 years and seen them twice. And when they were out, they were spectacular. But in order for there to be wildflowers we have to have a rainy winter, which doesn't happen too often.

5. When it rains, it floods. I think there are several reasons for this. #1, it is usually a downpour when it rains, not the steady Washington drizzle/rain I am used to. #2. There are no ditches. #3 You have about 1 inch of soil and then you hit rock. There is no place for the rain to go! And don't try to drive over a low water crossing. And Texans don't know how to drive in rain. Four wheel drive and big trucks will not help you.

6. If it snows or their is a chance of ice, nothing will help you, because the entire city shuts down. They literally shut down the bridges, schools, freeways, stores, gyms. It's like driving through a ghost town.

7. Remember the Alamo! The Alamo is actually in the middle of downtown San Antonio. If you want a taste of what it used to be like, I'd suggest also visiting one of the missions. But The Alamo really is a great place to visit.

8. The Riverwalk really does live up to it's hype, and is very pretty with good places to eat.

9. Sea World and Six Flags are great! The fireworks there, and anyplace else that I've seen, are awful. It's not worth the crowds or the sweating at night. They say Everything's Bigger in Texas, but not so for the 4th of July. I'd go to a movie that night (which we've done before).

10. The BBQ here is EXCELLENT! If you like BBQ, which I now do, Texas is a great place to be. Salt Lick BBQ is my favorite, but you can never go wrong with Rudy's. Lean Brisket and creamed corn. yum.

11. The birds are REALLY loud. The day after we moved in Robby took us down to the Riverwalk for dinner. I thought there was a sound recording of the birds, and he informed it was the real thing. As a friend told me, when someone asked where the birds go in the winter, the answer is...HERE. We ARE South.

12. We have two seasons, summer, and crazy hot summer. Summer is from mid-October through March. The temperatures change from the 80's-60's, sometimes dipping down into the 50's and 40's, though rarely. April-September is crazy hot summer. I wouldn't recommend it. It was over 100 today.

13. High school football really is a big deal here. It cracks me up when I'm at the gym with a bunch of people my age to their 40's, 50's and 60's, and on Monday's they are all talking about who won the high school games Friday night.

14. You can never tell what season it is. It all looks the same.

15. The roads are always changing their name. We live near Wetmore, where it turns into Bulverde. And by Naccodochess, which turns into Perin Biedel. And Warzbach Parkway begins and ends several different times. Bitters turns into something that turns into something else.

I'm sure I'll think of more things to add, but I wanted to remember for whenever we move away. Please let me know what I'm missing!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Beach!

Last weekend for Robby's birthday (which was Monday) we went down to Corpus Christi to go to the beach. We'd done the beach in South Padre, about 5 hours away, but not Corpus and Mustang Island, which is 2 hours. We had such a great time! Friday night we just went to the beach at Corpus Christi. It's a bay so the water was super warm. It was fine because it was 7:30 at night, but I think during the day it would have been too hot to feel like a break from the heat.
We had promised the kids ice cream on the way back to the hotel, so we stopped at Denny's (Robby's idea) and got a breakfast platter to share and milkshakes. It brought back so many memories! In high school after church dances we'd always go to Denny's and a strawberry milkshake is what I would get. Does anyone else remember that? I have to say, Chick-fil-a's strawberry milkshakes are better. Lily, as you can see, very much enjoyed it.
Lance was a bit tired. I laughed very hard after seeing this picture.
She knows what to do at hotels.
The next morning we went to Mustang Island, which I would reccomend to anyone who lives near here. It was so much fun, and you could drive your car right onto the beach and just park it where you wanted to play, which was great!
Lily was quite helpful. At least tried to be.

I was experimenting with photoshop. Here's Lance.
And this picture we put on the back of our cooler in the van and set the timer. You can see that Lance has had it, but it turned out pretty good!
It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive home. Hopefully sometime during football season we can make it down there again, maybe when the BYU game is on a Friday? In case you didn't know, they play next Saturday against Ol Miss and our life will be on hold until December (assuming they make it to a bowl game).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to school! Oh wait, never mind...

That's been my thought process this week. Back to school time has always been a bit strange for me. I know I've commented on it before, but it's been on my mind a lot this past week, as school starts for most of Texas tomorrow. Emily started school when she was one. Yes, one. She went for a few months in the spring/summer before she turned two (her birthday is in July) and then from when she was two-three she went three days a week for 3 hours a day-7:30-10:30. And the teacher wanted her there all five days! But that was too much for me (and Em, I think) Three days was a lot, especially with how far I had to drive. It's kind of crazy going to back-to-school night when your kid is two. I loved that program though. It was for kids with vision problems. They're the ones who got Emily potty trained, taught her sign language, and just really, really believed in her.

Then, when Emily turned three, it was on to PPCD (preschool for children with disabilities). So once again we had back-to-school night, etc. I was the room mom that year! And we once again were blessed with a wonderful teacher who loved Emily. They also wanted Emily to go five days a week, from 8:00-10:45, and I had her go four. She really loved it, though.

And when Emily turned four, I had just had Lily, and knew Emily wouldn't be getting all the attention she needed, so I let her go five days a week to Pre-K, from 12:00-2:45. She had the same teacher as the year before. That was the year our sweet little pal, Cael, would push her in her wheelchair every day to class and make comments like, "I love your bow, Emily!" And the year she was invited to a friend's house to play. The same friend who explained to her class that Emily just didn't like bright lights, and that's why her eyes were closed most of the time-it's NOT because she was sleeping. (which was actually mostly true)
Emily only went half the year to school that year; she got sick in December and never went back, and then passed away in January.

So, after having a kid in school for 3 years, it's very strange for me to not be getting ready for school. I love that Lily and Lance are home; I never got to have that "at home" time with Emily. But, I feel like most of my friends have kids in school, and I'm a bit behind! Which is fine, but I went backwards, and not by choice. I don't know if that makes any sense. I'm ready to get into a routine-piano lessons, preschool with Lily here at home, etc. I was the busiest mom I knew with Emily. And I know I will be busy like that again, and like I said, I love the fact that I've got these two cute little kids at home. I don't miss not being crazy busy all the time. And I don't miss the overwhelming, indescribable anxiety I know I'd have about Emily going to school. And I know that Emily is perfectly happy to be where she is, and does not care at all that she's not starting 2nd grade! But my heart aches. It just does.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Friday was Lily's 3rd birthday. I know she was more excited than me, for the last month she's woken up saying, "My birthday's in August!" and we had to make a paper chain so that she wouldn't drive me crazy. But I was also super excited. She understood last year a bit about birthdays, but this year she really got it, and it was so much fun. She wanted a Dora party, so Dora we did. Here she is playing Swiper with the mask I made the day before her birthday.
Friday morning we had snowman and heart shaped pancakes. I think I need more cookie cutters. Lance loved eating at the table with Lily!
Lance didn't so much love the Kiddie Park. It's this park near downtown San Antonio with rides, and Friday they were only 50 cents! I tried having Lance go on one; they had to stop the ride to let him get off! This was about the happiest he got. I will say, to his credit, it was very hot and humid!
Lily loved it though. The rides all went around and around, but it was perfect for her.
Afterwards we went downtown and had a picnic with Daddy in his office. Which we were glad we did, because he didn't make it home for her party! He felt awful about it. But to Lily, she will remember going to Daddy's office, not that he missed her party.
The cake turned out! I bought the cake topping at cakesforcures.com, for $7! It was so much better and easier than decorating a cake, which I am TERRIBLE at (see Lance's birthday entry for proof). When Lily saw it she gasped and said, "Mommy, I love it!" It was so worth it for that!
We had yummy Mexican food-cheese quesadillas, toquitoes from Costco, chips, etc. And a mango juice with sprite in it. The kids all actually ate. It's so much easier just feeding 2 and 3 year olds than it is adults! The simpler the better!
We played Pin the Tail on Swiper.
The kids danced and then had to freeze when the music stopped, and whoever froze the fastest got a sticker. They LOVED this game and would have played it all night I think. It was highly entertaining to watch them all dance. We had 5 kids over, and then my two.
The highlight of the evening, a Dora treasure hunt, complete with Map. Robby made a great map. Lily was Dora. She's wearing a dress my neighbor got her. Never mind it's black velvet and 100 degrees outside. The had just gone down the slide and now needed to go to the bedroom. The highlight for Lily was "walking up the mountain" (my treadmill).
The kids did the Chicken Dance while I played the piano, which was hilarious, and then found their goodie bags in the piano bench. Two parents were there by then, which was perfect, because I needed a Swiper! So here's Swiper trying to get their treats on the way in to cake and ice cream. The kids had just got done yelling, "Swiper, No swiping!" For Lily this was the highlight. She's watched it over and over on video since then.
Blowing out the candles on the cupcake-we saved the cake for when Robby got home.
After everyone left we did our family presents. Her two big presents were a Dora backpack and a leapfrog laptop. She did not want to go to bed that night, but she had to, because her mommy was one tired lady! My hat goes out to all you single mom's out there-I don't think I would have done it if I'd known Robby wasn't going to be there! But it was great fun, and when she turns five I'll think about doing it again!