Summer Wrap

We’ve had a busy summer with working on many house & outdoor projects, but still finding time to have some fun! As a family we’ve stayed active by participating in a 5K run and an 8K bike ride, both for honorable causes. We visited two county fairs and much to our surprise, they both loved riding all of the rides. We won two new fish again, but luckily they only lasted two days (ain’t nobody got time for that)! We’ve collected all the parade candy our little hands could hold at both of our hometown festivals. We made some waves at the lake, caught some rays at the pool, smelled the sunflowers at the park and watched the fireworks over the 4th. We even stood in line for over an hour to see Bucky Badger at the annual Badger Family Day event, which was worth every single second! As you could guess from our Bucky themed birthday party, Will loves Bucky however when it came time to get up close & personal, he got a bit nervous. Of course Ella plopped right in he/she’s lap and the entire time Will kept trying to high-five with him.

Last past weekend we wrapped up our summer fun by going to the Dells for our anual trip. Once again we stayed at Cedar Lodge and the kids loved playing on the beach, swimming in the river and enjoying the campfire. On Sunday we went to Chula Vista to give Ella the opportunity to ride the slides and swim in the pool. The skies were pretty grey the entire time, but at least it was still warm and all in all, it was a great weekend!

What great summer and let’s hope for an even better school year!

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Turning Two

During my writer’s block I neglected to document a lot of important things worth remembering. At the top of the list was Will turning 2! As the second child we didn’t make a large production or really even have a party, but I think he enjoyed himself nonetheless. We celebrated by going to the zoo to see the animals, ate Bucky Badger cake and rode on his new tricycle. Up until now when Ella rode her bike, he always had to be pulled behind in the wagon. His first ride was so amazing and he really enjoyed his new found freedom. As Ella rode ahead of him he yelled, “wait for me Ella, I coming too!”

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I cannot believe he is already 2 and yet he is so mature for his age, that it seems like he could be older. With our only parenting knowledge coming from our experiences with Ella, he has definitely offered a different perspective. They are a lot alike, but he’s his own kid too. Unlike Ella, he is a rational 2 year old who, for the most part, listens. Last week he didn’t take a nap at daycare so they forewarned me that our night might be a bit rough. When we got home to eat dinner, he wasn’t cooperating. Typically when that happens I threaten bedtime and it always works to get him to sit down. That night though when I made my threat he responded with, “yeah, I tired.” So I took him upstairs, laid him down and he went to sleep an hour early. That would never happen with Ella, even to this day. On the other hand, he’s way more sensitive than she ever will be. If you look at him wrong or even think about telling him no, his lower lip sticks out, he huffs & he puffs and throws himself to the ground crying.

He’s super smart & has an impressive vocabulary. He’s extremely independent, always insisting that, “Will do!” everything on his own. From, “going to the garbage” to putting on his own shoes, he has to do everything by himself. He loves ALL big vehicles & shouts every time we see one -semis, dump trucks, garbage trucks, excavators. He loves motorcycles, Bucky Badger (obviously) and dinosaurs and loves to eat all fruit, ice cream, cupcakes, noodles, pancakes, muffins and pizza.

School S_ _ _S

As August comes to a close I finally realize that we need to mentally prepare ourselves for school. Yes, that’s right – one week from today Ella will start school. Today we met her kindergarten teacher and went through what to expect for our first day. I guess I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since we’ve been dropping her off at daycare since she was 6 weeks old. Nothing changes, right? Wrong!

Ella has been pumped for this new adventure. She is excited to make new friends and really excited that there is no more nap time. However, after we left her new classroom this morning she asked me why the play areas were so small and there weren’t many toys. Even though we go to a curriculum-based daycare full of tons of opportunities, I had to explain that school is all about learning and that there would be far less time to play.

ellaShe wasn’t thrilled with my answer and I think it’s safe to say her level of enthusiasm diminished a bit, which is not great. You see – school is either going to fall into the S U C K S or S A V E S category and I was really banking on the latter. At this point, those three tiny letters hold the only hope we have for sanity.

Once again, we’ve ran into behavioral issues (I’m currently reading: Raising Your Spirited Child) at daycare and that typically means she’s bored or not challenged and is ready for something new. We have tried almost every parenting tactic and employed negotiation skills that even the best salesperson would be envious of and …nothing! Seriously. Not a single thing works on this kid. There is no reward system, positive reinforcement or threat that has an impact.

I’m hoping that her new school setting will SAVE us and provide a lot of things, really. I’d love a classroom full of kids where just one might have a larger personality than her. It would be good for her to not always be the ring leader and at the same time it would be nice for her to befriend someone with as much energy & enthusiasm as her. I hope that learning to read & write, amongst a ton of other new opportunities, will challenge her and keep her attention focused. My last request is a selfish one – I hope public school allows us to meet more parents like us. Not only would it be nice to meet some parents in our age bracket, but we’d also love to know more that share our parenting style. Very simply said, we don’t coddle our kids. If they fall, we expect them to get up. We don’t talk to them like they’re babies and helicopter moms would gasp at my lack of sensitivity. Don’t get me wrong – I am not judging other parents and their styles, but instead simply stating that it would be nice to know we’re not alone.

While I’m unsure if my wishes will come true, one thing I can guarantee – school will change our lives! Drop-off, pick-up, vacations, daily routines, free time, etc. Those things aren’t a big deal and I’m confident that we can adjust, but my bigger concern is that school will inevitably change Ella. Right now, even though she acts like she’s 15, she still thinks I’m super cool and wants to hang out with me. It’s only a matter of time before she thinks I’m lame and will opt out of our girl time to hang with her friends. She’s also been in the same, safe, monitored, controlled environment her whole life. This will be her first exposure to the big, imperfect world in which we live. This is where we enter the very real possibility of bullying, especially considering her cleft.

It’s true that she challenges me daily and while I want her to behave, I never want her to change. Her large, confident personality is a part of what makes her so special & I will do my damnedest to protect her from possible insecurities that can so easily creep in. For now I can only hope that we have instilled enough strength & bravery to allow her to take on this new adventure and if possible, come out an even stronger kid. Wish us luck and happy school year!

Will Weekend

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This weekend Joe’s cousin Luke married his longtime girlfriend Miranda at the Enchanted Barn. Obviously I wanted to be there, but as I wrote last – I started a new job two weeks ago and spent the majority of last week traveling. So when the weekend rolled around the last thing I wanted to do was to get back in a car for another 10+ hours. Joe & Ella decided that they would make the trip alone and Will & I would stay behind. I was sad to miss the event, but it also offered me the chance to spend some rare one-on-one time with Will.

He’ll turn 2 in a month and I’m pretty sure rare doesn’t accurately describe our time, since it’s probably the first time he and I have ever been able to do something just the two of us. We’re always together but it’s usually with Ella and he never gets 100% of my attention.

We had such a great time! We spent the morning at the pool with our friends Theresa & Bex. We thought we were crazy to go since it was pretty cloudy all morning long but as soon as we arrived at the pool, the clouds parted and the day was packed with sunshine. I later learned that we should likely thank Ella for our good fortune, as she asked Mother Nature for some sunshine at that exact same time.

We played with squirt guns, practiced counting while jumping into the pool and ate our weight in snacks from concessions. After a long nap, we then headed to our friends Emmy & Seth’s for dinner and drinks. The sangria was almost as good as the company and Will loved playing with their visiting golden retriever, Barney. We came home late and snuggled until we both fell asleep!

When we decided we wanted a second child, I told myself I would never let Ella feel like she was being replaced by a new, younger model. I have been adamant about ensuring she and I get our “girl time”  but I have neglected to make sure Will gets the same treatment. After our enjoyable weekend, I have decided that from now on I will make sure to set aside some one-on-one time with Will too.
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P.S. Ella & Joe had a great time too!

My Second Family

Today is my first day of unemployment, but don’t worry it won’t last long as I start my new gig on Monday as the Corporate Director of Marketing & Sales at First Supply!

Almost 7 years ago, Joe & I were still living in Eau Claire when he randomly said he wanted to move to a bigger market. Obviously we weren’t going to choose Minneapolis – we’re Badger/Brewer/Packer fans and there was no way we could live amongst the Gopher/Twins/Vikings. So we set our sights on Madison and started searching for jobs. Luckily I came across a random Craigslist posting for an entry-level Project Coordinator role at a little place called Kennedy Communication’s.

I got a call for an interview, but  since it was a Craigslist ad I wasn’t quite sure if the agency was legitimate or not.  At that time there was no website to learn more, but I figured – why not? I had a great interview where we talked a lot about my prior experience at a web firm and I got a call the very next day. The offer was surprising though – they wanted me to help build a web department to service their current clients. I asked what the role entailed and the response was, “we have no idea – but if you can let us know your decision this week, I’ll throw in free Badger tickets.”  Obviously, the choice was clear (see: Badger fan comment above). I packed up my stuff and moved to the big city. Unfortunately Joe hadn’t lined something up yet so I went alone!

It was a risk but it was the best one I have ever taken and I can’t believe how lucky I am for finding that role! We did build a department, in fact we were so successful that we formed our own company – Kennedy Convergence, solely dedicated to the web initiatives for our clients. It started as a team of 2 and grew to almost 10!

The entire agency has grown. I was the 12th employee hired and today there are 25 awesome people… I can’t say enough about great things about the people. When we moved here, we knew very few people and had our family several hours away. We’ve made so many very close friends because of Kennedy. Some have come and gone but I will have a special place in my heart for every.single.one. Yesterday I left behind my second family, but only on Mondays-Fridays from 8 to 5!

This hasn’t been just a job for me – we really are a family. That means so many things including respect, loyalty, laughter, FUN and being extremely honest with each other. I experienced all of those things while at Kennedy. Those people truly know who I am. They’ve stood by and supported me through so many major life events (“she had a baby, got married and had ANOTHER baby!”) They’re always welcome in my home and I would do anything for them – I owe them!

Photo (8)Last week they threw me a going away party and kindly brought a cake that included a sentiment only they could come up with, “If you’re going to reach for the stars, reach for the lowest one!” They also left me with the absolute best parting gift a girl could ask for – a photo album full of memories that we’ve all made together. Happy hours, Badger bashes, weddings, Brewer outings, travel trips, charity events, work celebrations, Halloween costumes, volleyball nights and “normal” days in the office. It might be the best, most thoughtful gift I have ever been given.

They also gave me a card that read, “Work Hard. Be Honest. Have Fun. Dream Big. Laugh Often. Be True to Yourself.” I  promise to always do those things and hope the same for everyone at Kennedy!