Thursday, August 30, 2012

Money Makes Memories?

I have probably watched more television during my maternity leave than I have in the past five years put together. Today on The View (which I don't actually like all that much) a topic of conversation was whether it's better to have kids young when you have the energy to keep up or wait until you're older and have the money to raise them. The ladies were split in their opinions - Whoopi had a baby at 18 and was happy with her decision, while Elisabeth felt it was important to wait and have the money to provide a proper upbringing.

It's no secret that we didn't plan Ella's arrival and even though I was 26 years old, I felt very young at the time. That being said, I wouldn't change a single thing and tend to agree more with Whoopi than Elisabeth. If we would have waited until we actually had the money to raise children - we would still be childless and dwindling our earnings on dinner and drinks.

We try our best to give Ella as many new experiences possible, but the most expensive doesn't necessarily translate to the most memorable. Some of the best times are moments like last night - as our neighbors watched us playing "Bears" outside after dinner. To paint the picture - Joe was up in a tree, I was hiding behind our fence and Ella was chasing us, roaring as loud as she could. She didn't care how much money we have - our house, our cars, our "things" - did not matter. All she needed was our time and attention - to play and to love.

However, while I typically disagree with most things Elisabeth says - she has a point. Having kids is something that you'll never be fully prepared for. They change every aspect of your life; your relationship with your significant other/spouse, your friendships, your career, your social life, etc. So the more steps you can take to try and prepare yourself - especially financially - the easier the transition might be.

And while I don't think kids care how much money you have - especially when little - I do think that as adults we stress most about finances. If you don't have to think about those issues, your relationship with your significant other/spouse won't be nearly as strained - and your kids will notice and appreciate that.

We definitely need the extra energy to be able to keep up with Ella, but having enough money makes it easier to be stress free, give 100% of our attention and climb the tree!

*Make sure to check out our super talented photographer,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shine vs. Shadow

This past Friday I was lucky enough to spend some time with an old friend who came to meet Will. I was happy he could make the trip since he's been a big part of Ella's life from the start - I'm convinced our weekly lunches are one of the few things that kept me alive during my maternity leave.

While in one of our many conversations that twists and turns into tangents, we talked about how grateful I am that Will is such a chill baby. I stated I was going to soak it all up because I was sure he wouldn't always be this way, especially since he'll grow up with Ella.

My friend replied with something that really got me thinking. He said, "Unless he just gives up." He went on to explain that as the younger brother of a sister and a mother who never stopped talking - sometimes he just gave up because he got sick of fighting to get a word in.

I can easily see how Will could be overshadowed by Ella's large personality and while I greatly value this time where he's quiet and calm - I want him to have the chance to shine too.

While I was home this weekend and surrounded by family, I was comforted to know that Will should have no problem. Even though there are tons of large personalities within our tight knit group, we all find a way to shine. None of us give up. Family gatherings consist of all of us shouting over one another to be able to speak our piece and while that may seem overwhelming to most, I'd like to believe we're all stars.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mamma Bird

When I named this blog I didn't intend for my children to actually act like little birds, but it seems that is what's happened.

My maternity leave has been pretty smooth sailing thus far but as of the past few days my little man has become a bit fussy. We try to console him with his nuk, but from the time he was born he's been kind of weird with his pacifier and acts like a little bird when we try to give it to him.
Pinpointing the issue has of course not been that easy! It's no secret that I have struggled with breast feeding, both due to excruciating pain and lack of production. Why don't people tell you how hard that beautiful, natural bonding might be? Perhaps they realize there is no way you will try if you know going in that your nipples might just fall off (if you're lucky) during the process.

Since it was so painful to let him feed directly I have been trying to pump and bottle feed exclusively. Initially it was going well but now I'm unable to produce the 4 oz. I need for each feeding. A few feedings I gave him 3 oz. and he acted as if he might eat his own arm. Maybe he's hungry?

This morning I supplemented with formula for the first time and while it was only 1.5 oz - maybe he's gassy? I can't remember the last poopy diaper I changed and typically he's always dirty. That being said, as I'm writing this - I heard a few toots so maybe the bicycle legs we did earlier helped him to finally work it out.

Parenting is hard, but we must be doing something right because when we went to the two week check up, Will had gained one pound and two inches in a week - weighing in at 9 lb. 3 oz. and 21" long!

Lets not forget about our other little birdy, Ella - she's really more of a turkey though! She's currently with Gma & Gpa Stevenson and her cousins camping. We thought she might miss her little brother too much to go, but she got over that quickly. While we miss her when she's gone we are also looking forward to the break from her 13-year-old attitude. Lately she has been so sassy that she has completely defeated both of us and our parenting skills.
This past weekend we went to Badger Family Fun Day so she could finally meet one of her favorites - Bucky Badger. She was naughty beforehand and probably shouldn't have been allowed to go at all, but when we got there she was a pretty good little girl - especially considering we stood in line for an hour and a half to meet Bucky. As soon as we got back to the car to go home, she went right back to being her diva self and when asked if she had a good time responded, "I did not have a good time and I want a new mom and dad."

She's 3! If we're already experiencing her tantrums and slamming doors, what are we in for when she's actually 13? Pray for us.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Full House

August 4th, 2012 marks the day that our family changed forever - as we were blessed to welcome our little boy into the world. At 5:15 a.m. William Robert Leschisin joined our family, weighing in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 19 inches long. We are officially a full house; 2 boys, 2 girls, 2 dogs, 1 cat and a fish.

We feel so blessed to be given this new little bundle of joy and more importantly the chance to really enjoy a new baby. Although my labor and delivery was similar to Ella's, the overall experience has been very different.

I didn't realize just how different the experiences could be until the moment they laid him on my chest. Everyone tells you about the immediate connection you have and how you're overcome with sheer joy and sadly we didn't have that with Ella.

Looking back I think we were just so scared - about becoming parents, an unplanned pregnancy, a baby with special circumstances, etc - that we weren't able to focus on the beauty of childbirth. They whisked her away to the NICU so fast that we barely had time to even hold her!

With Will there were no worries. For the most part, I didn't have a pregnancy filled with 3D ultrasounds and stress tests. I didn't spend 9 months wondering what people would think of my baby and the number of surgeries he'd require.

When they laid him on my chest - I was proud. Proud of myself, proud of our new little man and more importantly proud of the family we had built. I was overcome with emotion. We were lucky enough to get to just lay there with him. No doctors rushing in and out, no whisking away our baby - just us bonding with our little boy and no thoughts of anything else.

To no fault of her own, Ella was a very challenging baby - the cards were stacked against her. She was colicky and her cleft caused her to take in even more air. She cried for 6 straight hours every day. We had a million doctors appointments. I was doing it alone (Joe started a new job 6 days before she was born). We said numerous times that we weren't sure if we'd be able to handle having more kids. Everyone reassured us that things would be just fine and that children typically are very different from one another and that the second one could be our "easy one."

Even though Joe & I were convinced we weren't capable of producing a calm and quiet child - it turns out, so far those people were right. Will has been amazing. He rarely cries, eats well, sleeps well - the model of a perfect baby. Don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative (that's an understatement) but I also feel like I'm somehow cheating on Ella.

At the time I thought maybe our experience with Ella was normal (I had just pushed out a watermelon with no drugs) but, now that I have something to compare it to, I feel like both Ella and I were cheated. I love her just the same and have even more respect for all the things she has gone through but I wish that we had that immediate, worry-free time with her. I wish that my maternity leave could have been anything but painful for both of us.
Speaking of Ella, she couldn't be more proud of her baby brother. We have been pleasantly surprised by her reaction to him! She wants to hold him all the time and help in anyway that she can. Last week she wanted to take him to Show & Tell at daycare, so despite all the germs we obliged. She was so proud and beaming with joy, which made it all worth it for us!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Seneca, WI = population 893

There are so many things that I appreciate and value about where I grew up, but it all comes down to the family that I was fortunate enough to be born into. My cousins were like my siblings and since we all lived within 5 minutes of each other we were best of friends. We made so many memories growing up and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. 

While Madison is full of endless opportunities for Ella, small town life allowed me to do things that Ella will never understand or experience in the big city. A large part of that is that she isn't 5 minutes away from the rest of her family. I wish we lived closer to everyone, but we're 2 hours from Seneca, 4.5 from Clayton (where Joe grew up) and 2 + from La Crosse, where her only cousins live. Joe & I are continuously trying to find a balance between providing her with as many opportunities possible but also offering a taste of how we grew up. 

That's why this week is not only an exciting time for Ella, but for me too. With our next addition set to arrive any day, my brother and sister-in-law were nice enough to offer to take Ella for the week. They have three little girls of their own already so I was hesitant to ship her off - I wanted to make sure they knew what they were getting themselves into. After they assured me that they wanted the extra addition, we drove to meet them this past Sunday. With the car packed with her swimming suit, bicycle and endless dress up clothes - Ella's excitement could not be described. She was pumped and I was grateful that she would get the chance to build memories with her family like I did. 

We decided to meet midway at a park, which was nice because then we were able to see everyone for a bit. The girls all played on the playground and when it was time to pack up Ella ran to their van and was settled in without even considering giving us a hug and kiss goodbye. 

When Joe and I got back home it was eerily quiet and at one point I found him laying in Ella's bed. Typically we go to bed super late, but at 9:20 p.m. he decided he could no longer handle the boredom and was off to bed. Turns out Ella might be the only excitement in our lives!

So it's been almost 4 days together and after just checking in, I'm happy to report - they're all still alive! I can barely believe it. I knew this before but, my sister-in-law Heidi has the patience of a saint and has yet to ditch them all for a bottle of tequila and a trip Mexico. Not only are they alive-but they have had a week full of activities; swimming, red light/green light, duck duck goose, barbies, runway/dance party, walk, ice cream, feeding the ducks, baths...the list goes on and on.

She is having the time of her life and I feel extremely appreciative. Appreciative to have some adult only time before the baby arrives but more importantly, appreciative that Ella can strengthen her relationships with my brother and his family. Hopefully the experience will be just as positive for them!