Never Quit

163701_702013547656_5719756_nAround Christmas time my grandpa became ill. He collapsed early in the morning and was rushed to the hospital. They found out his body was full of infection and while we were worried, he’s a tough guy who’s battled many things in his life so we didn’t think it was too serious.

A few days went by and he was still in the hospital. They couldn’t get his blood cell counts within normal range and at the same time we learned his lung cancer was back. There was a chance he wasn’t going to be coming home for the holidays which meant no Christmas Eve at my grandparents, for the first time in our lives. Things were serious!

Luckily the meds he was taking improved conditions enough that he could come home for Christmas. I was relieved, but also worried that it might be too soon and our large, overwhelming family would be too much for him to handle. When we got there he was visibly ill and I worried that we shouldn’t be there, but then I remembered how important his family is to him. No matter the conditions, he was going to be there with us that night!

Our entire family is very close, so I’m sure each one of us feels that we have a special connection with grandpa, but I feel like he & I have always understood each other. He comes off as a stern man, but if you truly know him, you know he’s soft. You can tell by looking into his soft brown eyes. He is also the pillar of our family. The one who is strong and bull headed and taught us all many things, including to never quit.

At one point in the night I sat with him to talk. It was just the two of us and I knew the conversation we were about to have was going to be an important one. As I held his hand he looked at me and said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. I’ve been battling for so long, I don’t have any fight left in me.”

I’m a lot like my grandpa when it comes to being stubborn and never willing to quit, so I think he thought I was going to argue and lecture him on all the reasons he needed to keep pushing. I could have said all of those things, but instead I put aside my selfish need for him in my life and told him the choice was his. It almost killed me to say those words, but I knew it wasn’t my decision to make and that only he could decide to continue on.

Here we are almost 4 months later and he’s still here! Shortly after our talk, he made the choice to not quit and underwent an aggressive round of radiation for his cancer! He recently welcomed two more great-grand babies (twins) and he’ll watch another granddaughter walk down the aisle in a few months. I’m grateful for many things he’s given our family, but right now I’m most thankful for his fight and the choice he made to keep going for our family. I’m sure he is too!16018_10100279013398559_6624051771182122952_n

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Mexican Minute

We always rave about our trip to Costa Rica and find ourselves comparing every trip since then to it, only to find they all fall short…until now!

We’re pretty lucky since we stumbled upon this trip by chance. We were hoping to go to Punta Cana or Puerto Rico, but during our travel dates the prices were pretty high and the resorts weren’t as nice as we were hoping for. With the only requirement of warm weather, we decided to look for the nicest resort at the lowest price.

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That’s when we found Secrets in Huatulco, Mexico. I knew Secrets had a great reputation but I had never heard of Huatulco. The resort was rated 5 stars and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It was leaps & bounds nicer than the other all-inclusive chains (RIU & Grand Bahia) we’ve stayed at in the past.

We flew into Huatulco so the trip to the resort was a short 30 minute bus ride. We were surprised and impressed with the quality of the roads – we learned that they had just finished paving two months prior. Once again, we visited during their dry season so the surrounding vegetation was pretty brown. Like all other trips though, it rained a few sprinkles on our first day there but at this point we view it as a sign of good luck!

Normally we jam pack as many activities as possible in the short time we are there. This time we wanted a blend with some relaxation too and the resort was the perfect setting to do so. At all times, no matter where you were at the resort you had a beautiful view of the ocean. You could see and hear the ocean from the bed and shower! It was awesome to wake up to that every single day.

The weather was phenomenal with every day being full sun and temperatures in the 90’s. The endless pools were nestled right on the beach and the water temps were perfect. The resort was smaller than those we’ve stayed at in the past, kid-free and located in the middle of nowhere so it wasn’t overcrowded. At certain times we had the upper pool all to ourselves and even had the entire beach one day for snorkeling on our own. Note: the ocean was pretty rough so if your goal is to lounge in the ocean, it might not be the trip for you.

On our past trips the food was just okay and we lived off the buffet most of the time since all restaurants required dinner reservations. That was not the case this trip! The food was amazing and there were no reservations required for any of the 7 different restaurants, plus all drinks were individually hand mixed and you could actually taste the alcohol!

We couldn’t lay around the entire time so we took a boat from Santa Cruz to view the 7 Bays of Huatulco and enjoyed more snorkeling. The water was very blue and we were able to see some beautiful fish & coral. On our boat ride back we were even lucky enough to see two humpback whales and a sea turtle!

We spent another day traveling into the city of La Crucecita. The town square was very nice and housed a million local shops for souvenirs. One of the main attractions was the Iglesias Church which features the largest mural painting of Mother Mary in North America. We were able to grab an authentic lunch & sip on Dos Equis.

Costa Rica will always hold a special place in our hearts and still outranks in some categories, but when it comes to kid-free relaxation, Secrets in Huatulco definitely moves to the top of the list!

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Look for the Good

imageEarly wake up call, lugging heavy bags, standing in line and cramped quarters. That’s how I started my day, so you wouldn’t expect me to say, “man, do I love flying!” And for the most part that’s true, but there is good in everything, you just have to look for it.

Starting with our seats on the plane. Joe & I didn’t get to sit with each other but we were both near a little boy who was experiencing his first flight. Watching his excitement & joy (and a bit of nervousness) as the wings left the ground was awesome! Our view of the morning sunset over the Chicago skyline was the cherry on top. Will would have loved all the beautiful colors.

I also love the time to reflect in silence and write. Between the kids, the hubby, the animals and work – I’m never alone, not even to shower or go to the bathroom – so moments like this are non-existent and I appreciate them!

The thing to be most grateful for is our final destination, as we are on our way to Huatulco, Mexico for the next 5 days. Once again my parents (mom, really) are keeping the kids so that we can spend some quality time together. Some might say we are selfish & don’t prioritize family, but I completely disagree. Sure, I’ll miss the kids and know they would love to come with, but I think the best thing we can give them is two parents who love each other & take time to focus on just us. We’ll take them on trips when they are bigger and besides, who doesn’t love Grandma Camp?

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Winter Block

Unlike my last invigorated post about Funemployment, lately I have found myself feeling blocked in all aspects of my life. I don’t have the energy or motivation to move anything forward – including this blog. I hate missing an entire month without posting and yet somehow that’s exactly what happened in February. Granted, I’ve been busier than normal, but when it comes right down to it – I just had nothing to say.

So, tonight as I sat here trying to figure out how to turn things around, I looked back to my February 2014 blog post. While I managed to at least write something, the parts that were related to me (and not the kids) were definitely lacking – which leads me to think, maybe it’s the season.

One year later, I’m once again sick of the wicked winter temperatures and could definitely use an escape. So just like then, today we booked our next adventura (see what I did there?). In just a few weeks we’ll be sipping cocktails in Huatulco, Mexico. I’m so excited to spend some kid-free quality time with the hubby and see another part of the world we’ve yet to explore.

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Other life updates -
Babies! At the beginning of the month our life was filled with lots of tiny baby bundles. Our great friends welcomed their second son Everett. We spend a lot of time with them, so we are pretty pumped to get in some quality snuggling in the very near future!

On top of that, I’m an aunt again and this time to identical TWIN girls. My brother is now the only male member of his house full of 6 women (7 counting the dog). Pray for him! In all seriousness, the day of delivery and their entire pregnancy could not have gone any better. The girls were born happy & healthy and weighed around 7 lbs. each, can you imagine? My sister-in-law is an amazing and beautiful person and this process just further highlights that.

Speaking of their family – my niece (their first born) turned 9 this past week. How that is even possible, I’m not sure! It feels like just yesterday that I was driving to La Crosse to meet her. She was such a beautiful baby and somehow she has managed to turn into an even more beautiful little lady. She is sweet, kind and considerate and we are grateful to have her in our lives.

Our little family has had some fun adventures too. A few weeks ago, we took the kids to FullSizeRenderanother men’s Badger basketball game. For the most part, they both did a great job and per the usual, were ecstatic to see Bucky – Will screamed his name every single time we caught even a glimpse of him (even during a free throw, in which the rest of the arena was silent). We also took them to the Overture to see a live production of Sid the Science Kid. I thought it might be too young for Ella to enjoy, but she surprised me and when I asked her what her favorite part was- she responded, “the entire thing.” Joe and I even got a date night, as we attended the annual American Advertising Federation 2015 Addy’s. In addition to having some kid-free time, Kella took home a few different awards – so overall it was a great night.

Everytime I think there is nothing to say, I look back on the time and realize there is always something worth writing down to remember!

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Funemployment

JUP-SpaWomanAAs my last post vaguely mentioned, I decided that there was no better time to quit my job. I wasn’t in love with the role and life is too short to spend every day doing something you’re not happy with. That means I have been enjoying some funemployment for the last two weeks. Going in I envisioned my time off looking something like this ——->

I have a hard time doing nothing, so of course I have been keeping a journal of the things I’m accomplishing each day. On Day #1, I allowed myself to just sit on the couch, to drink my coffee and fill my brain with a ton of things I wanted to do with my time.  I made a list (duh) and felt energized to get things done!

Day #2 Will was running a fever so we stayed home together. While we were playing in the office (read, Toy Room) I decided I could no longer take the chaos and decided to purge and reorganize. Man did that feel good after it was done. Day #3 I was lucky enough to grab lunch with a dear friend at my favorite pizza joint, Porta Alba. This is no joke – if you live in, around or near Madison, you MUST go there. (Side note: I always order the Vegitariana pizza and it’s to die for!) This sounds so cheesy, but it was nice to spend time as just the two of us. Normally we have our kiddo’s & husbands in tow, making conversation more challenging.

Day #4 started with a visit to my hair stylist, who is one of the most talented & caring people I know. I love visiting her and this time was extra special because I learned she is expecting her first baby! I was then off to another great lunch date with three very close friends. I’ve decided that I’m never finding a job and will become a lady who lunches.  I haven’t figured out how to pay for those lunches but that’s not of importance! I spent the rest of the afternoon evaluating insurance plans (yuck)! Since that was no fun (understatement of the century) I decided to pick Ella up from school early and finally make our closed terrariums. Let’s hope they are as low-maintenance as they say!

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Day #5 I decided it was time to get down to business. Yes, I still had a lunch date with an old coworker, but I also cleaned and purged more of the house. Day #6 we had no school or daycare so it was me & the kiddo’s again. Ella was invited to a friends house for a playdate and had a blast. Will and I decided we would go for donuts, visit the pet store and grab lunch with dad. Day # 7 started out with some pampering, as I decided to give myself a manicure I saw on Pinterest. I then spent the rest of the day doing some real “work” for Kella Design.

Day #8 yet again included a lunch date with a great new friend. It was so much fun to chat with her and it turns out we both have something in common, we’re raising an extremely challenging and spirited 6 year old little lady! I can’t tell you how nice it is to find someone who can totally relate to what it’s like to parent someone like Ella. The constant struggle to “get her under control” all while trying to not squash her “spirit.” Day #9 was originally jam packed with meetings, but of course my OCD-self was starting to feel stressed that I hadn’t accomplished enough of the projects from my list, so I cleared my schedule. The morning started with some baby shower planning (my brother & SIL are expecting twins!!) and then quickly moved to house projects. We have been in a process of painting ALL of the trim in our house and had yet to tackle the trim in Ella’s room. This is when I was quickly reminded why I don’t normally paint my nails. So much for the manicure! I then did laundry, cleaned and purged the kids bedrooms and made an amazing dinner (again).

That brings me to Day #10, today! Ella has early release and she’s decided that she wants to spend it with mom. Turns out that no matter how much fun she had at her playdate, she’s extremely jealous of Will’s one-on-one time with mom. So we’re repeating the same day that Will & I had.

The days haven’t gone exactly as I planned and they definitely do not look like the peaceful spa image, but I have enjoyed them nonetheless. After looking at the journal, I feel like I have done a good job at balancing my time with a little pampering, a lot of productivity, projects crossed off the list, some great homemade meals and quality time spent with family & friends. I’m not entirely sure how much funemployment time I have left, but yesterday we got a healthcare bill in the mail and as Ella opened it she said, “wow, that’s a lot – mom, you better get back to work and make some money!” So I plan to continue to fill the days with as much as I possibly can because I’ll likely not get a chance like this again.

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