Thursday, August 15, 2013

We've Moved

That's right! After I broke my blog header I decided it was time to transition to Wordpress so this will be my last blog post via Blogger. If you're interested in following me, hop on over to

Here's a sneak peek of the new look! Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Boggling Bravery

Ella went into surgery around 7:45 a.m. this morning and as I sit here patiently (ha!) waiting for the next few hours, I cannot get over how brave that little girl is. It's honestly mind boggling.

For those of you who have ever experienced surgery, especially for little kids, it's typical for one parent to accompany them into the OR as they are put under. We have always chose to not go in because we felt it would be easier for both the kiddo's and quite honestly, easier on us. Regardless of that decision, it's normal for you to walk with the team down to the OR and then pass off your precious bundles to the medical staff.

Even though we've let Ella go in alone in the past, I thought today might be different since she's older now and more aware of the situation. When the children's coordinator (which is genius might I add) came in, I asked if she would like either Joe or myself to go with her into surgery. She quickly replied that she wanted to go alone. I wasn't surprised but I thought she might change her mind. As it became time to make the trek to the OR we all prepared to walk together and she promptly said she wanted to go alone. I explained that she could go into surgery by herself but we'd like to walk with her. She caved and let us all go with.

As we walked down she was pretty quiet so I thought she might be starting to second guess her decisions. When we got to the dreaded double doors she met her nurses and it was time for us to part ways. As I went to give her a hug I could have sworn she was going to freak out at the last minute and instead she pushed me away mid-hug and was ready to go!

While I'm so proud of her and impressed by her courage, I just can't believe there wasn't a second in her mind that she might have wanted some support from her parents. Joe says it's because she doesn't fully know what's going on, but I completely disagree. We have talked about this surgery for the last 6 months. She knows in depth everything that's going to happen, right down to the scalpel. Even IF she didn't realize the extent of what was happening, she doesn't know a single person in that terrifying room. As someone who's never personally experienced surgery, the OR is intimidating space for me and I'm an adult.

I started this blog to document our lives and I hope when Ella is big enough to read this she will look back a this post and know that she is my hero. She is by far the bravest, most courageous little person I have ever met. She is going to do great things and conquer the world!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Surgery Sucks

Sorry for the pessimistic title, but it  really does. Surgery is the worst! While we successfully made it through Will's surgery last week, it hasn't changed my outlook on surgery as a whole.

Ella's surgery is Thursday morning.  Due to her cleft lip & palate, she'll have lip & nose revision, palate fistula repair, dental work and ear tubes. Her surgeon estimates she'll be under anesthesia for around 5 hours and recovery could take up to 2 weeks! We'll get the call tomorrow night to inform us of what time we need to report to the hospital and when she needs to stop eating/drinking. It's been such a long time since she's undergone a major surgery, that I'm out of practice.

The bigger issue is that she's now big enough to be aware of what's going on, which means she asks a ton of questions. We are extremely open and honest with her so when she asks things like, "will they cut my face?" the answers become very challenging. I'm happy she's talking about it and I think Will's surgery has helped her to be better prepared, but it breaks my heart to know she's so little and has to face surgeries like this for a large portion of her life.

When we went through her lip repair at 4 months we worried, but at that time she hadn't had the opportunity to fully showcase her enormous personality and we were lucky that she bounced back quickly. By the time she was 10 months and undergoing her palate repair, we really worried that the surgery might change her personality. We worried that it might change who she was, it might dim her light. For a week after the surgery, she didn't smile, she didn't giggle and she was a defeated little girl.

I do not want to go through that ever again. That was the worst feeling in the world. Luckily her bright, shining star returned, but the thought of losing a piece of the child we love so much is terrifying. The risk of surgery is a very dangerous thing, but as a mother, watching your little one in pain during recovery is the most helpless feeling. If only we could trade places!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Time Stand Still

Yesterday my baby turned 1. While it's an amazing thing to watch your children grow - it was a tough day for me. I wish I could find a way to make time stand still. I love this age.

Will learns something new every day. He smiles, laughs and squeals all the time - just to get a bit of attention. He's on the move, crawling everywhere - even up the steps (all the time)!

He still eats like a beast, but now it includes solids too! He loves pretty much everything, especially blueberries. He thinks it's hilarious to throw his food on the floor whenever he feels like it. The dogs don't seem to mind, but I'm not a huge fan of the ants he's attracting as well.

I'm currently his favorite person on Earth. I wish that would last forever. He loves to play with me, tackle me, snuggle with me - really just anything that involves me. I'm sure I'll want to pay great amounts of money for that attention in 12 years.

While his birthday was a bit sad, we had a great time at the zoo. The weather was beautiful and the animals were at their finest. We were able to see the chimps playing up close and personal, the sea lions preparing to be fed and the tiger bathing himself. While checking out the giraffes the zookeeper randomly chose us to go back to feed them. It was the coolest experience and both kiddo's loved it. I knew they had long black tongues, but I did not know they were that soft. I was expecting something much more coarse!

After we finished the zoo, we returned home for some cake. I thought Will loved blueberries, but it stands no chance in comparison to cake. He ate every last bite and was so full of sugar that he was up til 10 p.m.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Will Update

Will's surgery was a success! 

We were dreading the morning of because he wasn't able to eat after midnight, but I woke him to feed at 11:30 p.m. and he went right back to sleep. He slept all the way through the night and the morning went surprisingly smooth. We took Ella with us to the hospital and even she cooperated! We arrived at the Children's Hospital (Tuesday, July 23) at 6:15 a.m. We were able to play with all the new toys and before we knew it, it was 7:45 a.m. and they were coming to take him in. 

I chose to not go back to put him under. I felt it would be too hard on both of us; him wanting me to hold him and me not being able to see him cry. As the anesthesiologist walked down the hall, his big blue eyes looked back to see Ella & I peeking around the corner. It was heartbreaking. I hate those double doors! As they opened up, I was fighting back tears so that Ella didn't see me cry. 

We used this experience as an opportunity to prep her for her next surgery too. While I'm not happy that Will had to go through surgery, it does help for her to see that she's not the only one to endure it. 

We were told the surgery would take 2 + hours and that there were a few different scenarios that could play out. As I mentioned in my previous post - we were prepped for 3 different outcomes. Around 9:25 a.m. the anesthesiologist came to let us know that the surgery was over, ensured us that he did great and the surgeon would be in to debrief us. 

The surgeon then came out and informed us that much to his surprise, the testicle was there. It was very high and half the size of the other, but it was still there. They were able to remove it and place it in it's rightful place. He indicated that it could move up & out again and if that happened we'd remove it entirely. He also stated that there was a hernia associated with the issue as well, and they removed it. We now wait to see if it grows and functions as he grows older and goes through puberty. 

We were told that someone from recovery would come and get us once he woke up. We waited for about a half hour and no one came for us. Finally a nurse came to say he was still sleeping, but she could take us back. When we got back there his nurse indicated she was worried about his airway because he was pretty full of mucus. We tried over and over again to get him to wake up and cough it out and he just wouldn't do it. 

As time went on you could see the concern grow in the nurses faces. We had been in recovery for over an hour and could not get him to wake up, no matter how much we tickled his feet, pinched his cheeks or rubbed his head. The anesthesiologist was coming back and forth and decided it was time to give him some anesthesia reversal meds to try to get him out of it. After three separate doses, nothing was working. I was getting very worried because it was almost two hours and we could not get him to respond to us and he couldn't go without the oxygen mask without his levels dropping.

We had two options left - 1)stick a tube down his nose into his throat to get him to cough up the congestion or 2) get a cold wet washcloth and rub it all over him. Obviously, we opted for the latter and after two long hours we were finally able to get him to open his eyes. After he was able to breath without oxygen for 15 minutes, we were released to our room.

Will remained pretty sleepy and not very hungry for the majority of the time, but was able to eat right before it was time for us to pack up and go home. They estimated his recovery time to take one full week and that he could move around based on his comfort level.

We assumed he would be immobile for a few days and when we got home he was a bit whiney and definitely slow moving, but shortly there after returned to his old, crazy self. He began to eat like normal (a lot), nap like normal (2+hours) and move like normal (all over the place).

Even though his bandages are bloody & he's bruised and swollen, he acts like it doesn't bother him. He even slept through the night!

I continue to be amazed by the strength of my children. They are by far the toughest, most amazing little humans I know. They're also sweet. Don't believe me, check out the picture Ella made for Will the day of his surgery!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Out of Practice

Almost 4.5 years ago, I reluctantly put my first baby in the hands of a surgeon that I had only met a few times. At the time Ella was only 4 months old and too tiny to know what was going on. As first time parents, things happened so quickly in her first year of life (two major surgeries & a ton of doctor appointments) that we barely had the time to think of the danger she was undergoing.

Tomorrow I will have to watch my second baby be rolled down the long hallway. Will was born with an undescended testicle and tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. will go under the knife to see exactly what that means. Back in May we had an ultrasound that indicated that the testicle was there, but it had not dropped on it's own. Since then we met the surgeon who will perform the procedure, who indicated that ultrasounds can't be trusted. That means that we are facing three scenarios; 1) the testicle is not there at all, 2) the testicle is there, but not "good" or 3) the testicle is there and good, which means that it most likely didn't descend due to a lack of blood flow. While I'd like Will to have two testicles, especially through his teen years, option #3 involves re-routing of veins/arteries, so I'm not quite on board with that scenario yet.

I am the person who is frequently heard saying, "Don't worry. Everything is going to be fantastic! There's no sense of worrying, it doesn't change the outcome." Typically I can handle these types of situations. This time feels different though. 

I don't know if it's simply the fact that I'm out of practice (4.5 years is a long time) or if it's because I'm older & wiser, but I have been feeling very anxious with the thoughts of these upcoming surgeries. 

I know that everything will work out fine and he is in fantastic hands, but that doesn't remove the risk of anesthetics. It also doesn't address his recovery time and trying to keep him immobile, all while he's on the move 24/7, learning to walk. It doesn't factor in how hard it is to see your baby hurting and crying out in pain. 

On the bright side, Will's surgery can get me back in the game and prepped for Ella's next surgery in August. It also helps Ella see that she's not the only one who has to endures these unfortunate circumstances. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Turning the Page

Tomorrow's the big day. That's right, we close on both houses bright and early in the morning. I'm not sure where the time has gone and I don't just mean the months leading up to the closing. This was our first home. It was a huge milestone to be able to buy a house at all and an amazing feeling to move in with our already 10 month old baby. That was 4 years ago!

Ella was just learning to scoot (she didn't crawl) and no where near the sassy little girl she is today. This is where she learned to ride her bike (including wrecking in the driveway), terrorized her first neighbors and camped in her first lawn. We watched her move out of her crib and into her first big girl bed, sing and dance the nights away and chase her pets through the hallways. It's hard for me to even write this without tearing up. We've gone through so many things in this house that it's hard to leave!

We planned a wedding, experienced a pregnancy (in the middle of summer with no AC) and brought home our new baby boy here. I've rocked him to sleep, wiped his tears (and butt) and had bath time fun all in this house. 

We've poured blood, sweat and tears into this place to make it our own. We spent countless hours pulling weeds, setting posts and breaking our backs to create an outdoor space we could enjoy. We've been through more paint samples and frog tape than most contractors, just so we could give our kids childhood bedrooms worth remembering! 

We've tackled almost every DIY project in the book (fence, deck, finished basement, added bathroom) and just when things were perfect, made the decision to move on. While I'm sad to leave and feel nostalgic looking back at the things we've accomplished here, I'm excited for the next chapter of our lives. 

One thing I can always be sure of - with the turning of each page is another story, another memory made and another new adventures waiting to happen!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bigger Closets

With less than two weeks to go, I need to find a way to kick it into gear. As I mentioned in my last post (a million years ago) we sold our house and bought a new one. We close on June 26th and need to be packing since we have a ton of stuff and no free weekends in June.

The excitement of having a bigger closet should be enough to motivate me, but I can't seem to bring myself to get anything accomplished. We've started downstairs, but now our house just looks like a disheveled mess. Instead of organizing, my head is spinning with all the things left to do - it doesn't help that I have a lot of other balls floating in the air (Ella's surgery, Ella's speech, Will's surgery, summer weddings, my grandpas health, family pictures, ahhhh the list goes on and on and on...)

Deep breath! Back to the original thought - once we're cleared to close and I can line up movers and someone to shampoo the carpets - I think I can just focus on packing. 

I shouldn't be stressed, we had multiple offers and were lucky enough to sell our home within 1 day. While we'll greatly miss the home we raised our babies in and our extremely kind neighbors, we were able to sell to someone we know will be a great addition to the neighborhood. Lets hope our new neighbors feel the same about us. If not I'll just hide in my new closet!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


It's been over a month since I last wrote (not counting work related posts like this one). Typically I fall into dry spells because there's nothing to write about, but in this case - life has been so hectic that I just haven't had the time. Now I feel like my brain is overflowing with things that are worth documenting that one post won't be enough! Between selling our house, buying a new one, going on a honeymoon, scheduling surgeries for both kids, family photos, participating in the March of Dimes Walk - the list of things goes on and on and on.

As I sat down though the most important & ironic thing is the fact that my last post was about the loss of a dear family friend and the importance of spending times with the ones you love. Since then I sadly lost another family member due to failing health and my grandfather was rushed to the emergency room with internal bleeding. He has since been released from the ICU but the scare it created is something my family was not prepared for. Hopefully as we go through many other tests, everything will come back in the clear and we can stop worrying.

Since we're discussing medical ailments, I'll use this post to update on what's going on with the kiddo's and upcoming surgeries. We'll start with Will since he's easier. Will was born with a condition called cryptorchidism, more commonly known as undescended testicle, which affects 6% of all newborn boys and it either means that the testicle just didn't drop or it doesn't exist at all. Most of the time, if it's there, the testicle drops on it's own within the first year of life. In our case, that hadn't happened - which made me worry that he may not have two at all.

We finally had the much anticipated ultrasound and were able to locate it within his abdomen. I feel very relieved for his sake, however that now means we have to have surgery to bring it down.  Nothing is on the books yet, but we meet the surgeon tomorrow to get things in order.

So now for a regular update on Will:
He's already 9 months old! It makes me sad that he's growing so quickly, I wish I could freeze him exactly as he is right now. We had our 9 month check up last week and he weighs 21 lbs. 9 ozs. and is 29" long. He is the most mobile kid I have ever seen, considering he hasn't figured out crawling or scooting yet. He rolls all over to get to where he needs to be. That doesn't mean he isn't trying to crawl though and I think any day now he'll be on the move. He's still not in love with solid foods, but he loves the Gerber Puffs.

Onto Ella. As most of you know Ella was born with a unilateral cleft lip & palate. That means we have undergone many surgeries already, with an unforeseen amount remaining. Overall we have been happy with Ella's surgical path, however as she's grown - things have stretched and shifted, making us feel like she could benefit from another surgery. Our surgeon is conservative and prefers to wait until they are absolutely necessary so we have held off.

In the beginning of April I took her to a routine dental cleaning and learned that she had cavities within a few of her bottom teeth and the teeth in her cleft line could benefit from some work as well. The front teeth are extremely important to keep in a healthy state. If we were to pull them out (after all they are baby teeth) it would allow her bone to shrink even more than it already is, thus making a bone graft down the road more complicated. So, within a matter of seconds the appointment went from conversations of what prize she would get, to when we could schedule surgery.

I quickly got on the phone with our surgeon and was lucky enough to get into Cleft Clinic that same week. After our meeting the plan was set in motion; in addition to the dental work, we'll have a lip & nose revision, fistula repair and the tubes replaced in her ears. As you can imagine, speech development is also affected by cleft lip & palate, so we've been in speech therapy since Ella was 2 years old. Recently it seems like her progression is at a stand still and I have yet to see an improvement in the air escape or hyper-nasality. Therefore, in addition to the other procedures, we are exploring the possibility of a pharyngeal flap (P Flap) surgery to create a seal between the nasal & oral cavity. I have about 1,000,000 questions and have yet to decide the best way to move forward but the only real way of knowing is to undergo a nasal endoscopy again. We have done that once before and it was terrible. It consists of a rubber hose with a camera on the end being inserted into her nostril and down into her throat. She then has to be cooperative enough to follow their prompts to say certain sounds, all while we watch to see if the closure is happening. At this point we're leaning on having the scope again so that we'll know for sure and then get something on the calendar.

I had wanted to get both kids surgeries handled before the end of June, so that they could recover in a home that is familiar and comfortable to them (more on the house selling/buying in a future post), but as this continues to drag out - it doesn't seem realistic to accomplish it all. Wish me luck!

So now for a regular update on Ella:
She continues to be the most rambunctious, crazy kid I know. She ceases to amaze me with the witty things she says. Tonight at bedtime I was asking her to act like "my big girl" (we're having potty issues again randomly). She replied with, "Well dad wants me to stay just like I am, but I can't help getting bigger. I didn't make that choice! God did! Silly God." We had a great turnout at our 2nd March of Dimes Walk on behalf of Cleft Awareness (more on the walk in a future post) this past weekend. She loved spending time with her cousins and couldn't believe that we all had shirts with her face on them!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Count your Lucky Stars

Every 365 days I get one year older. It's happened for the past 30 years, and yet each year I can't believe how old I am and wonder how it happened so quickly.

It's not unique to me, we all get older. However while I acknowledge my increased age every December, I somehow never remember that my elders continue to age also. In my mind, my grandparents remain 70 years old no matter how many birthdays they celebrate.

Sadly this past week I was reminded of this as a great family friend passed away. Once again, in my mind Howdy was 70 years old but the reality is, Howdy celebrated 85 years on this beautiful earth.

It makes sense. I've known Howdy my whole life and have tons of childhood memories that include his contagious belly laugh, his swimming pool that I swam in almost every summer and his always constant nickname for me, "Kelly with the green neck tie." He was a great man and will be greatly missed by his family and community.

I've said before that I don't love birthdays but not because of the aging. Do I love the growing amount of wrinkles each year? Of course not, but more than that I hate the reminder that my life and the lives of those who are so important to me, continues to shorten. In reality, my grandparents are not 70 but closer to 80 years old. I feel blessed to have them in my life and the lives of my children -most people aren't so lucky.

Growing older can be sad sometimes and while I wish there was something that could be said to comfort Howdy's family right now, there is only time. However it's important to remember to count your lucky stars every single day. Go out and live life with the goal of making as many memories possible & experiencing all the opportunities you can. At the end of the road it's what you'll look back on to determine the quality of your life.

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Vacation" Day

I do a lot of nice things for Ella. I play games with her, color with her, read to her, take her places, pick up after her, (etc. etc. etc.) and somehow, even after all of those things - we still manage to fight like crazy. Maybe we're too similar, but I'm definitely not her favorite, no matter how many things I do for her. Today I decided that I would take the day off of work to spend some quality time together, just the two of us. Typically when you do something nice for her though, it ends up backfiring - so I knew going in that this would be no "vacation" day.

The morning started off pretty good. She took a bath while I cleaned up the house and afterwards we sat down to eat breakfast and watch Cars. Mornings are usually a good time for her, since she's not overtired and watching television makes her happy almost any time of the day.

I then gave her a makeover, which included curling her hair and putting on makeup so that we could head out to buy our Easter goodies. On the way to the store there was an argument of course. She didn't want to go to Target but to the mall instead. I tried to explain that we couldn't buy eggs to dye at the mall, but she didn't care. I finally was able to talk some sense into her and we continued on.

Getting into the store was okay. She wanted to head straight to the clothing section first because I had promised that Target not only carried eggs, but beautiful Easter dresses too! I bet we pulled up almost every dress in the girls section that she "really, really had to have!" After 20 minutes she finally settled on one and we were able to move on to look for Will's outfit.

That's when things went downhill. I should have known better - that activity wasn't focused on her and therefore she got bored and moved on. She was running back and forth looking for things, climbing in and out of the cart, trying to escape to the toy department, pushing the cart into things, etc. I ended up cutting it short, threw a shirt in for Will and headed to grab the supplies we needed to color eggs and get out of there.

We got up to the front, unloaded the goods, paid, were walking towards the door and then I remembered.....eggs! The main reason we were there and due to all the ruckus - I forgot them. I parked the cart and we walked (read: I drug her) back to get the eggs. We paid again and were about to leave and of course this time, she HAD to have a hot dog. It was lunch time so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone - fill her belly and close her mouth!

We sat down to eat the hot dog, the worlds easiest food to consume (after pudding) and somehow it was dismantled in two seconds. Ketchup & mustard everywhere and the bun was shred to pieces. Only Ella. I ended up having to piece it back together and hold it as she tried to eat the rest.
I wiped up her face (she had ketchup on her forehead) and it was finally time to go. As we went to leave the food area was like Grand Central Station and we were stuck behind a large group, preventing us from getting to the doors. We finally got outside and were heading home when I reached in my pockets to determine....there were no keys. I then went to reach for my purse to grab them from their usual spot and ...nothing!

Yep, sure enough - in the middle of fighting, I had left my entire purse behind. SO - back in we went. Thank goodness the purse was still there when we got back inside. As I grabbed the purse and was about to leave, again - Ella asked if we went back in so she could have another hot dog. I think she was trying to be funny, but I almost choked her!

We finally got back home where things improved. The sun was out today, making it the first really nice day of spring so we were able to go on a bike ride and we finally colored our eggs! After it was all said and done - I'm tired and it was definitely no vacation day, but spending time with Ella, even when it is frustrating - is well worth it and the most entertaining thing a mom could ask for!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ella Chronicles

The path of this blog has twisted and turned so many times over the past few years that I have somehow deviated from why I started it in the first place. Initially it was meant to be an online journal that I could look back on to remember the hilarious stories of our life. While those stories are sometimes intertwined within my posts, most have become big picture, deep thought, analysis-type writing. While I enjoy writing of all styles, there are some journalistic posts that are pretty hilarious and require documentation.

It seems our 4-year-old has turned into a teenager overnight. I always say 4 going on 14, but lately she has taken it to a whole new level. Now, not only is she naughty, but she's devious too. Every night at bedtime she fills her water, grabs a snack (no judgement) and picks out about ten different books she'd like to read. The other night we got into bed, but she didn't get a snack - which immediately alerted me that something was up. As I went to pull up her covers she panicked and reached towards her legs to retrieve a crumpled kleenex. I asked her what it was and as she gripped it close to her chest she responded with, "just a kleenex. You know how my nose runs!" I then asked to see it and she said, "mom - it's time for bed." The flag was up, she has NEVER said something to effect of wanting to go to bed. I demanded that she hand over the goods and as I unwrapped it I discovered she had snuck a chocolate snack from the pantry. Not only had she lied, but she also was smart enough to unwrap it so that it wouldn't make noise as she tried to eat it.

We then spent the next 30 minutes talking about why it's so important to tell the truth and not hide things from our parents. She promised to never do it again and fell fast asleep. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

Two days ago she was given Starbursts for being a good girl while running errands. She had eaten three when I said she could have one more & we'd to save the rest for after lunch. Without a fight, she went to the kitchen and put them up on the counter. Again, red flag. In disbelief, I snuck around the corner to watch and she jumped as if I had startled her. I asked what she was doing and with a Starburst in mouth she said, "nothing!" I asked how many she had taken and she replied, "you said I could have one more." Still doubtful, I followed up with, "well why do you look like you're lying then?" At that same time one of the dogs needed to go outside so I had to turn and open the door. As I did I saw her grab something and then quickly place it on the counter and she said again, "I'm not lying." I walked over to the counter to find an unwrapped Starburst that she had snuck down her tights for later. In her tights!

As I yelled at her once again, she stomped away screaming, "it's not fair. I hate you mom!" I have always known that this day would come but I thought I had longer than 4 and a half years. I shouldn't be surprised, I did the same thing to my mom, but I feel like I never pulled the HATE card until I was at least a teenager.

What am I going to do with this girl? While these stories are comical now, what's it going to be like when she's actually a teen? If she hates me now I can only imagine how bad it might get. Please pray for us!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Worth the Wait

Most people follow life's path - find the perfect person, get married, go on a honeymoon, buy a home, have babies and live happily ever after. We aren't most people. Our life order is a bit different - we managed to get step one right by finding each other, but the remaining steps didn't go quite as planned. As most of you know, we went on to have a baby, bought a home, got married, had another baby and now we're finally taking the time to go on our honeymoon.

I've always thought age spacing between children was important. Since we shook things up by having a baby first, after we got married I wanted to try for our second as soon as possible. If that meant we'd have to wait for our honeymoon, than so be it!

The day we were finally going to book I thought it would be a good idea to take a pregnancy test just to be safe. Sure enough, it was positive and our trip was postponed. While I was looking forward to sand, sun and a screwdriver - it was worth the wait.

Not only have we booked our trip to Costa Rica for April but we now have a complete family with two beautiful children - who allow us to appreciate our upcoming vacation even more. While we might not have followed the typical plan, we're sure to live happily ever after - at least in Costa Rica where the drinks are free!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

All Things to All People

I'm a people pleaser - always have been, always will be. I almost always take on too much, plan too many things and stress myself to the max - but somehow find a way to keep going. Outside of yoga, I've never been great at balancing it all but recently I feel I've become exceptionally bad. I try my hardest to be the best mother, career woman, wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, etc - that I can be but unfortunately right now I'm not sure that I've given 100% to any of those roles.

How do people do it all? More importantly, how do working mothers do it all? How can I be a contributing team member at work and still attend my daughters field trip? How do I make the time to visit my family & friends when I'm traveling around the world to meet with clients.

I'd love to the opportunity to stay home with my babies, but that's not everyone and we also need to eat & have a roof over our head. Luckily I have a fantastic husband who understands what it means to be a father. He's an equal contributor. He makes dinner, he helps clean the house, he drops the kids at daycare, he takes them to the doctor. He's the best and I can't imagine our days without him.

I will most likely continue to take on too much but I have learned the old saying, "you can't be all things to all people" is true. Now that traveling has slowed for a bit, I'm going to give my all to my husband & children - because that's all I can do right now. Thank goodness I have the most understanding friends & family - I promise I'll see you all soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Work Traveler

Growing up in an unincorporated town, I always hoped I could someday claim that I was a world traveler and while I have been up, up & away quite a lot - it seems my claim would have to be more of a work traveler than world.

If I sat down to make a list, I've probably "visited" the majority of the United States. Heck in the last month I've been to Seattle, Orlando, San Fran and their surrounding areas. Tomorrow I'm off to Phoenix for the remainder of the week. I can rattle off every work trip I've taken and I'd need at least all my fingers and toes to keep track, yet I couldn't tell you the last time I took a vacation and I'd be lucky if the list filled my hands.

When we got married we opted to try for a baby and if we were lucky enough to succeed, our Costa Rican honeymoon would be delayed. A year and a half later, we are the proud parents to a beautiful baby boy and I've seen no sign of the sun, sand or a screwdriver since!

Mark my words, I will put my passport to good use - even if it means I travel alone. Before springtime I will be kicked back on a beach, sipping a margarita and zipping through the rainforest. Until then, I guess the warmth of the Arizona sun will do.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

High Expectations

On this Valentine's night it only seems fitting to post a tribute to the man who has changed my life. My best friend. My soul mate. The father of my children. The love of my life. My husband.

Growing up it was the norm to see the woman/mom doing all the work related to the home and raising children. Dinner, laundry, cleaning, diapers, bath time, doctor appointments - all handled by good 'ole mom. The man went to work, made the money and kicked his feet up when dinner was set. My whole life I watched this and thought, "no way!" No way was I ever going to let my mate get away with not contributing towards something he was 50% responsible for.

Now that I'm married I am happy to say I have realized this dream. I feel very lucky to have found a man who helps me in every sense of the word. Making dinner, picking up the house, dropping off the kids, sewing buttons - he does it all. Don't get me wrong, it's not always perfect and in times that I'm frustrated my mom is quick to remind me that Joe does way more than my father ever did for her.

They say a girl looks for characteristics of her father when choosing a husband, and while there are so many things I value about my father, I have very different expectations when it comes to being an equal partner. Times have changed and I set high expectations for Joe and I think he does the same for me. We aren't allowed to each give 50%. We give 100% of who we are, every single day - to our relationship, to our kids, to our home, to the life we are building together.

Happy Valentine's Day to the one I love! Thank you for all you do for our family - you don't know how much I appreciate it. I can't imagine spending the simple ordinary days with anyone else.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Power of Technology

A while back I contemplated writing a post about whether or not social media was ruining lives, but decided against it since it wasn't exactly relevant to the general nature of the blog. At the time I felt like everything was so overly publicized and because they were protected behind the keyboard, people left their manners behind. Political debates, religious views and complaints from here to the moon & back - things most wouldn't dare talk about in an open setting - are now broadcasted in a public forum (and usually with misspellings).

Technology may hinder face to face communication but it definitely makes it easier to stay in touch and keep relationships going strong. While I wish life was simple enough that I had time to see all the people that matter on a regular basis, it's just not possible. 

Many argue that the internet makes it easier to say & do mean things to one another, but at the same time it makes it easier to do nice things too. As I have found recently people you'd never expect can reach out through the web to share compliments and nice thoughts. Sending a card can be cumbersome - you have go to the store, find the right card, buy a stamp and stick it in the mail. As a mom of two, a phone call takes time. After the day is complete and the kiddo's are finally asleep I just want to sit down for a second, before I have to do laundry, cleanup and prep for the next day. Most of the time, that one second on the couch turns into me falling asleep and never getting the chance to pick up the phone at all.
Not only are friendships still alive, that might have otherwise died, but crazy enough I have new friendships with people I've never even met. When we first found out about Ella's cleft we searched high and low to find resources to make us feel at ease. While we could find the basic information, we couldn't find things that mattered. We wanted to talk to people who had gone through it. We wanted to see pictures of before & after to prepare ourselves for what to expect. The internet made it possible for us to make it happen on our own. In 2010 we took to Facebook and created a network for the Cleft Awareness Foundation, with hopes of building a local support group. Less than three years later we have a group of almost 3,000 people spanning throughout the entire world! 

Love it or hate it, technology has become the way of life. Like most things, it's not perfect but for the most part I personally feel it's bettered my life and am grateful for all the ways it's help me stay connected and build relationships.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guilty as Charged

I wrote this post this morning, before I was called by daycare to inform me Will would need to be picked up. I've since been at the doctors office for 3 hours and counting. I guess it's ironic that the chain of events seem to support everything I was writing in the first place--as parents we do whatever it takes to make sure our babies are happy & healthy and while its hard to take a step back, it's also important to remember it can always be worse. After chest X-rays, nebulizers and labored breathing-it looks like the common cold, that was costing me sleep - has turned to pneumonia and RSV & likely earned us a hospital stay.

The last two nights have been miserable. Poor little Will has been sick, coughing nonstop and so congested he can barely breath. His chest rattles all day long and his sleep schedule is no more. Our house is functioning on zero sleep and just trying to survive without killing each other. This morning as I was up trying to get Ella to speech by 7:30 a.m. I thought, man this sucks!

Will is never hard. He's always happy, eats like a champ and sleeps for 12 hours straight. It's not sucky. On the other hand, when Ella was a baby it was hard & sucky! I'm not sure if all of our struggles were due to her cleft lip & palate or if it was because she is a pistol, but nonetheless it wasn't easy. On top of surgeries, she cried all day long and hated sleeping.

As first time parents we were so overwhelmed that other challenging things most parents experience went unnoticed. If she had a cough, it was no big deal. Dry skin, constipation, diaper choice? Who cares! We were just lucky she was alive.

A friend of mine has a child born with spina bifida and while a cleft is not nearly as serious, it was nice to have a mom who could relate to raising a child who wasn't "normal." We used to share stories of "other" parents ridiculous complaints and laugh. One day a woman, we'll call her Dorothy, went on and on about her child's dry skin and how embarrassing it was to take them out in public. Embarrassing in public? I wanted to say, "imagine the stares at a child with a gaping hole in their face or one in a wheelchair!"

I tried to remind myself that we all have our own problems and if dry skin was the worst thing that happened to Dorothy, it just might seem terrible but regardless, choose your audience wisely.

And yet here I am, guilty as charged! A parent to a semi-normal (I'm convinced there is no such thing as normal) child, complaining and feeling sorry for myself because for two nights I haven't gotten any sleep because he's sick. I have had worse, I've dealt with more but because my current reality is much easier, these past two days seem like a big deal.

The fact is-no matter what your circumstances are-every parent wants their baby to be happy & healthy and when things go wrong, no matter how serious-it's a big deal. We want things to be perfect, but that's not life. At the end of the day, all you can do is what you think is best!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


SAHM: Stay At Home Mom, more commonly known as the hardest job on earth! I have always had the utmost respect for these women and often wonder how they accomplish everything with kids at home; laundry, a clean house, art projects, baking, educational activities, etc. etc. etc.

This past Monday I got a taste of what it would be like if I didn't drop my kiddo's at daycare everyday. I have always said that I would kill myself, or my children and it was for the best that I went to work each day.

We started the day by creating our art/baking project - ice cream cupcakes. Whenever we bake I let Ella take control and the goodies are never intended for consumption, with the exception of me of course. I am never exempt - I always have to taste, she insists! They turned out pretty cute but unfortunately didn't taste as cute as they looked. There was so much frosting and the consistency of the cone and the cupcake wasn't my thing.

We then moved onto reading stories, coloring pictures and playing games. After that I successfully put them both down for a nap and proceeded to clean the house, do the dishes and prep for the next day. For a moment I thought to myself, maybe I could do this. Just maybe I could be a SAHM. Ella is a bit more self-sufficient now and has gotten past her absolutely rotten stage. Will is the best baby a mom could ask for. Maybe I could stay home with both of them. Then I stopped myself and remembered, it was only 1 DAY!

I love my children, they are my biggest priority. I love and cherish my time with them. However, I still believe that me going to work is the best thing for my family. It's best to send my kids to daycare, where they learn so many things I could never teach them. They make friends. They socialize. They have field trips.

And more importantly, it's best for me. Obviously work can sometimes be frustrating, but it challenges me every day. It forces me to learn new things and continuously grow. I love my work family. They are more than co-workers, they are my friends.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lately it seems I'm always posting things that require deep thought and over analysis, which usually revolves around Ella and somehow what's going on with Will gets put on the back burner.

It's pretty fitting I suppose, after all he's kind of a second thought kid. I don't mean that in a sense that he's not as special as Ella, I just mean he's perfectly content to wait around until we have the time to devote to him. He looks at us as if he's saying, "you look like you have a lot going on, so I'll be over here when you can get to me!" It's pretty amazing. Maybe that's what all second children are like, but nonetheless - we're extremely grateful!

So an update on Will....
He's 5 months old already and has earned the nickname, Moose. He's huge! At our 4 month appointment in December he weighed almost 17 lbs. and was in the 76th percentile for height (26" long). He has mastered rolling over and is working on sitting up on his own - which can be challenging with a head that size!

We started baby food and rice cereal, which has gone really well. He loves the fruit and tolerates all the veggies too. He's such a little pig, that he practically dive bombs the spoon as I'm trying to feed him.

He began drooling pretty badly about a month ago and sure enough a little tooth is starting to make it's way through on the bottom. If it weren't for the drool and the way he aggressively shoves everything in his mouth, we may never have known he was teething though since it hasn't seem to phase him.

He remains one of the most happy, smiling baby's we have ever seen! He sleeps fantastically well, only getting up once per night usually - even if he has soaked his diaper full.

When Will first entered our lives I worried that he might be overshadowed by his sister, but those fears have since passed. He may have started out much quieter than Ella, but he has quickly caught up and is extremely talkative. He is constantly giggling, squealing, yelling, babbling and entertaining us all.

His sister loves him very much! She talks about how she can't wait for him to get bigger so she can share her toys with him and is constantly giving him her toys when he shows the slightest bit of interest.

Will has been the best addition to our family and we are extremely blessed to have two beautiful children that fill our house full of so much love and entertainment. We have enjoyed watching Ella grow and can't wait to see Will do the same!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Chicken or The Egg

Happy 2013! Like every other year, we spent New Years Day at my grandparents for lutefisk, lefse and meatballs (and many other side dishes & desserts). The trip back home is a two hour drive, but well worth it - even without factoring in the amazing food. One of my cousins lives another hour East of Madison and couldn't make the trip, but needed to pick up her daughter (Kael), who was back home for the annual dinner. We had plenty of room in our car, so I offered to bring her back as far as Madison.
Of course Ella was very excited to have a new rider in the car with us. She planned what movies they'd watch and how long Kael could stay at our house to play. After we loaded up all of our stuff and packed three kids and carseats into the middle of our vehicle, we were off.

Before every trip I make sure I am prepared for almost any scenario that may arise. For Ella alone I have snacks, a water bottle, games, things to entertain her, sunglasses (in case the sun gets in her eyes), a blanket in case she's cold, her favorite snuggle buddy...and the list goes on and on. This trip, for the most part was no different. The toys were all packed, the DVD player was queued up and I had cut up a bag of apples and had some snack mix. The problem was that I couldn't locate her water cup before we left, so I decided to just skip it.

Right away Ella wanted to watch her new movie, SnowPaws 2, while Kael sat quiet and patiently waited. I asked Kael if she had seen the movie and she shook her head no and then proceeded to say, "I want to watch the movie, but I'll probably fall asleep." Sleep! What is sleep? You can imagine my confusion because in all of Ella's four years - she has never done that willingly.

The movie started and I could see Kael was getting tired and looking for a place to lay her head. Ella on the other hand was busy making her usual demands. "I'm hungry." "Can you get my backpack." "I'm cold." "The sun is in my eyes." For every complaint, I had a solution and thus, we avoided a meltdown.

I handed the bag of apples back and told Ella she needed to share with Kael, who replied that she didn't want any. I gave some snack mix and asked Kael if she was hungry, and again she was not. I would have asked if she needed anything else, but when I looked back she was sleeping. She looked so peaceful. I went to get my camera and of course, stinker Ella thought it would be funny to pretend like she was sleeping.

You'll notice from the picture that Ella is all set up - snack bag to her left, headphones and a water bottle. Sitting beneath her is a bag of toys, books, baby doll, blanket, etc. As I mentioned earlier, I couldn't locate the normal water cup, so of course we had to stop to buy something to drink when she was thirsty.

As I sat there and watched just how different the two girls were, I began to wonder - what came first? The chicken or the egg? I pack all those things to make our lives easier and hopefully avoid tantrums. But maybe it's the fact that I do supply those things that has made Ella come to expect them all the time and act like a demanding little diva. For now I will continue to pack up the house for our travel adventures because reaching backwards every ten minutes to grab something for her is worth not listening to her kick and scream and cry.