Monday, October 22, 2012

Time Flies

Today we went pumpkin picking and after we took our family picture I joked with Joe that if we looked back at the previous years, he probably would be wearing the same flannel. As I went back to gather the proof I was surprised, not only to see he wasn't wearing his trusty flannel - but how much we have grown over the years.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Going back to 2007, I would never have given the answer of, married with two children - that's for sure! It's crazy to see all the beautiful things we have brought into our lives.

Tomorrow the little man starts daycare. I can't believe that our time at home is over and I'm sad that our baby days are going by so quickly. I know he'll be in good hands, I just wish they were mine. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sweet and Sour

Tonight as I put Ella to bed we laid talking and telling stories just like every other night. In the midst of conversation I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. She replied, "I just want to be a mom like you." Cute, right? She went on to say, "I want to be just like you. I want to dress like you, talk like you and be pretty like you," all while gently stroking my face. Talk about sweet!

It's not surprising, Ella is sweet. Everyone she meets instantly falls in love with her, even complete strangers. I was in a good friends wedding a few weeks ago and we let Ella attend the ceremony so she could see the bride in her dress. It was an hour long ceremony which required her to be silent for the most part. Afterwards a woman I had never met approached me at the reception to tell me just how great our little girl is and how much they enjoyed her during the ceremony. She was silent (with the exception of a drawn out Aaaamen)! How, in that short amount of time, could she have enough impact for this woman to take the time and seek me out to tell me about it? Her magic is crazy.

As much as she is sweet, she's just as sour! In the past, when thinking about my hypothetical children, I assumed I'd have more than 3 years before I heard my child say they didn't like me. I was wrong. I can't begin to count how many times I have heard "I don't like you and I'm not your friend anymore."

True to everything she does, Ella is the extreme on both ends of spectrum. When she's sweet she is very gentile, compassionate and complimentary. When she's sour she is aggressive, controlling and full of attitude. For now I will just remind mysef that even after all the sour times we have, she's still a sweet little girl!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Get What You Deserve

What comes around goes around. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Good deed brings fortune; bad deed brings misfortune. Karma's a bitch. The sayings go on and on and sadly they all apply to our life right now.

They say opposites attract but weirdly Joe & I are pretty darn similar, both as adults and especially as children. We are both outgoing, hard workers who grew up in small towns surrounded by family, loved sports & the outdoors and most importantly weren't the greatest of kids.

I never shut up; he was a loud mouth. He craved attention; I found a way to be the center of it. I hated to miss out on things; he was nosy. He had a hard time focusing; I was constantly on the move. I try to remind myself of these things every time I'm frustrated with came from somewhere! I have said a million times over, "I have never seen a little girl act like this!" To which my mother responds, "I!"

To this day we struggle to go out for dinner because Ella can barely sit down long enough for us to be greeted by the server. She's immediately standing in the booth to see what else is going on. I found myself asking, "who stands in the booth?!" Please see exhibit A--->

Ella gets excited about everything and I mean everything. I prefer this over the alternative of her caring about nothing however her jumping, screaming and shouting over the smallest things makes it a little challenging for Will's sleep schedule. As a child I was the same way and like Ella my excitement usually clouded my ability to make good decisions. I remember going to a friends birthday celebration once and I was so overcome with excitement that I sat on the cake when we got in the car! So embarrassing.

I'm still looking for photos of me misbehaving as a child, and I'm sure there are many to choose from but the moral of the story is - Ella is our kid. She has taken the "best" of both of us and blended it into one "special" little package. She is everything we deserve!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In Good Hands

As I sit here today I am a mess of mixed emotions. My maternity leave has come to an end which means back to work and no more snuggle time with my little Will. The past 9.5 weeks flew by!

I love the people I work with so it's not that I'm not excited to see them but I'm sad because this was the last time I'll ever get to stay home with my babies.

Before my leave I worried that I'd be bored, but unemployment was quite enjoyable! We had visitors almost every day, lunch dates, play dates, quality snuggle time.. you name it! Who says your social life suffers when you have a baby?

At least I know he's in good hands. We have a great daycare that we've sent Ella to since she was 6 weeks old. I don't have to worry about that yet though. Joe is lucky enough to be staying home the rest of this week and all of next. I'm excited that they'll have this time to bond, but more importantly it means I have a week and a half full of lunchtime snuggles!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Minimalist Mamma

I suspect this post will not make me popular or be received with open arms. When I first started this blog, the idea of sharing my candid thoughts was an exciting and freeing thought. They say you should blog like no one is reading it. Two+ years later, the reality is that I still have to filter myself because people do read it and some things are better left unsaid. I started this entry over a week ago. I have read it and re-read it. This morning my daughter missed her highly valuable speech session because she threw a tantrum over a "thing" that I made her leave in the car. This blog is long overdue and is going to be a bit different so hold on...

As you know we have been struggling with Ella's behavior for quite some time now and continue to try various tactics to get it under control. The uphill battles are so numerous it feels like we are climbing a mountain and the longer the issues continue, the more creative the solutions we drum up become. In a recent post I mentioned we have; changed her diet to eliminate excessive sugar intake; been diligent about getting to bed on time; purchased teething jewelry to keep her mouth occupied; let her chew gum to help her focus; and purchased a potty watch and training undies. In addition we have tried almost EVERY parenting tactic known to man; punishment, reward, ignoring it, talking it out, praising her, etc. Despite all of our efforts, NONE of it has successfully crossed a single issue off the list.

When we decided to change her diet I worried it was going to be really hard on our lifestyle but it turned out to be a pretty smooth transition. Our newest idea though will most definitely be the most challenging - and not on our end. This is where my popularity diminishes..

This new change might be a bit hard on Ella at first, but the truth is - the grandparents will have the toughest time adjusting. I have felt this way for a very long time, but after a lot of research we plan to focus on Ella living a minimal lifestyle.

In our research process this article aligned with the things I have been saying all along, but did nothing about because I felt like I couldn't get the message across and it was easier to continue as-is. Growing up my brother and I didn't have a lot of "things." Did we have toys? Absolutely, but it wasn't to an excessive degree and what we did have-we played with. Otherwise we were outside; riding our bikes, catching night crawlers, exploring nature, making up games. It sounds ridiculous at the ripe old age of 29 to be reminiscing about the "good ole days," but it's true-it was a simpler time.

Ella has SOOO many toys that it not only lowers her quality of life, but mine too. Seem dramatic? I spend at least two hours every single day picking up her things that have been scattered throughout every room in our house. That's 13,140 hours over her lifetime that I could and should be spending with her. Yes, I like a tidy house, but this has become more about safety these days. If I didn't pick it all up we wouldn't be able to get around without the risk of tripping on something. I can't tell you how many times she has been hurt already and I say, "that's why it's important to pick up our things!"

Not only has she collected a million "things," she is also very possessive of them and not in the way of sharing (yet). Even if she never plays with the item she has to know where it is at all times making it another full-time job for me to keep it all organized and accessible upon command. We spend 10-15 minutes every morning helping her find and gather at least ten different items that have to accompany her on the five minute car ride. As you can imagine long road trips require even more preparation.

We joke about her undiagnosed ADD but she moves like a tornado from one activity to the next, because she can - never fully dedicating her attention to any of it. She wants to read and before we can finish a book she says, "actually I don't want this anymore" and is off. I ask her to color me a picture and I get a few scribbles and she's done. Dress up consists of more time changing in and out of costumes than the actual time role playing.

It has gotten out of control and as her mother and the one who is supposed to be laying a solid foundation it's going to stop. No more! The amount of "things" she has is going to be drastically reduced and strict rules on acquiring more will be put in place (popularity drops again).

Unless her toys meet the following guidelines, they will be donated or tossed:
1) Inspire Ella to use her imagination.
Colors/art, dress up, kitchen set-will make the cut, but the junky Mc Donalds kids meal collection is gone.

2) Aid in her development.
Books, puzzles, blocks, music-but the blinking lights and noise makers are out the door.

3) Played with on a regular basis and in good shape.
The baby dolls are a staple toy, but the dirty ones must go and maybe she'll learn to take better care of them.

4) Be original.
I don't mean that it needs to be some grand gesture or unique item. I just mean she doesn't need to have backup items of every single thing she owns. She doesn't need 38 pairs of sunglasses or 30 purses (I'm not exaggerating). This might help her understand that she needs to take care of her things because when they break she can't just swap it out.

I know that the gifts come from a place of love but she gets so many things at the same time she doesn't appreciate or utilize any of it. She has been trained to think its normal to receive numerous gifts every time she sees someone. More importantly she values attention much more than gifts. I'm sure she'd give it all up for some one-on-one time!

So this is serving as my public plea. Please stop giving Ella "things." We're doing our best to raise a stand up kid and like the article states, this change will help her take care of her things, become more resourceful, increase her attention span and build her creativity.

Let the purging begin!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wedded Bliss

This past weekend I was fortunate to stand up in one of our dear friends weddings. Their event was absolutely beautiful and they couldn't have asked for better day!

As I was driving home alone in silence (never happens) from their rehearsal on Friday night I realized, just over one year ago this was me - as Joe & I celebrated our anniversary on the 17th of September! Our wedding day was amazing and I couldn't have hoped for it to have turned out any better. Leading up to the day felt like a ton of work and lots of stress, but now looking back it was so worth it and I'd do it all again. To be surrounded by all of the people who love & support you is an indescribable and humbling feeling. As a guest at many weddings I never realized just how important my attendance was until I looked out over the crowd that day and saw all of the most important faces of our lives smiling back at me!

While we only celebrated our one year anniversary, the past seven years have been the best of my life. I never thought that day in the Chippewa Valley airport that we'd be blessed with such a beautiful life together! Two dogs, one cat, a fish and two amazing kids later-we've surrounded ourselves with things only some can hope for.

There is no way I'd ever be able to survive this crazy life without Joe, for I truly did find my best friend. He's the one person I love to spend every day doing absolutely nothing with. Whether it's our countless drives through the countryside, our endless conversations scheming up the next big dream or watching football on Sundays-he's the perfect fit! Through all of our trials and tribulations, I'm happier and more in love today than when we first met.

We are a team. We work hard. We are good people. We raise beautiful children. We are lucky. We make each other better.

I can't wait to see all the things we accomplish together. Here's to 50 more years babe!