Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Quick Kinder update.

Kindergarten is going well.

Most days Charlotte wakes up, super excited to go to school. She has had good days as well as a handful of not-so-good days.

She comes home starving and exhausted, but surprisingly in pretty good spirits.

More to come in the days ahead.

Happy Fall!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Kindergarten Eve

Tomorrow, Charlotte starts Kindergarten. To say I am a bit nervous is an understatement. I remember similar feelings four years ago when Katherine started Kindergarten, and two years ago when Will stepped on that bus. However, this time it is a little different, and the feelings are much more intensified.

I could list all my worries and concerns, many of which I hope will become completely unfounded, but really, what good will that do?

What I have tried to remind myself during the past week is the number of times in Charlotte's five short years on this earth I have laid awake worrying about her; whether is be surgeries or her health, meeting milestones, or her first day of preschool...and guess what? Most of my worrying, was completely unnecessary.

I also remind myself of what I know. She has a team of a spec ed teacher, three therapists, and an aide who are absolutely amazing and know her from 4K. A couple weeks ago, we met her new Kindergarten teacher who is equally awesome and I know is going to be a great fit for Charlotte. And while I worry about her be accepted by and fitting in with her peers, I remind myself how lucky Charlotte is to have older siblings, because we already know so many families in our community, and there will not be a shortage of familiar faces in the halls of her new school.

And then there is that dang bus. Oh, the bus, the source of most of my anxiety. From the day Charlotte was born, I vowed I would never limit her. I would never say she couldn't do something, until she let us know in some way it wasn't working. Charlotte will get on the regular ed bus tomorrow morning with her siblings. My head is racing with all the crazy things that can happen in her ten minute ride to and from school, but honestly, I need to let her try. Because, oh my goodness is she excited. All day today, and yesterday, and heck, all last week, she would randomly blurt out, "I'm so excited ride the bus!" And frankly, if worse comes to worse, I had a nice talk with Katherine tonight at bedtime about bribery... "if Charlotte refuses to sit in her seat, or lays on the floor and won't get up, just whisper in her ear that if she sits nice, she can have a BIG butter cup when she gets home" ...yep, I'm an awesome mom who not only resorts to bribery, but is teaching my almost 10-year-old my methods.

This afternoon, I was in the kitchen with the kids' backpacks lined up on the kitchen table, putting in last minute items. Charlotte was sitting in the living room playing her iPad. As I picked up the backpacks to bring them back to the mudroom, Charlotte looked up, did a little hip shimmy in her seat, and yelled "I'm so excited about school!" ...and then looked right back down and continued her game.

School ID makes it official ;-)

Lately, every time I tell Charlotte to "be careful!" or "watch what you are doing!" she answers with "I'll be fine, mom." ....Maybe I should listen to her...I am sure she is going to be fine...and I will too.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rosemary for Remembrance

I often write blog entries that I never publish. For varies reasons, but usually just because I know that when I hit that "publish" button, the post is out there for the whole world to read, critique, criticize, assume, in order for a post to get to that point, it has to be perfect. No spelling or grammatical errors (or at least very few...I am human after all!), no incomplete thoughts, or anything too controversial or assuming.

Last year, almost to the day, I wrote a post that I never posted. I wrote with tear-filled eyes and a heart so heavy it was hard to breathe at times. When I was done, I reread it, and decided it felt incomplete and unfinished. During the days that followed, I tried to go back to it, but couldn't, and so that post has sat untouched for the past year.

My grandma died a year ago today. Charlotte's great-grandma, the one she affectionately referred to as "Peg!" has been gone for a year. As the old saying goes, gone but not forgotten. I am reminded of grams often, and many times over the last year have had to stop and remind myself she is no longer here. When the Price and Princess named their new daughter, Charlotte, I immediately thought that I needed to tells Grams. She loved the royal family and would think that it is the perfect name. While reading Katherine's newest piece of writing, I have caught myself thinking that I needed to have Katherine share this with Peg; Peg always loved that Katherine has a large interest in reading and writing. Or man, how I wished she could have been there to see Charlotte singing "Rainbow Connection" at her 5th birthday party.

Today, we had breakfast to celebrate Grams. Breakfasts with grams became such a big part of her last year on this earth, so it only seemed right to celebrate her that way. Kate made an almond cake for dessert; no meal for Grams was every complete without a good dessert, and she would have loved this cake.

Here is the post I wrote a year ago; it is untouched, unedited, and incomplete in parts, but encompasses so much of who she was and will always be.


This past Sunday, I said goodbye to the smartest lady I know. My grams.

Grandma had been dealt a pretty rough hand these past few years; a laundry list of diseases and conditions that slowly took away her ability to be independent. And despite knowing she is now at peace and no longer in pain, her death has hit my family hard. You see, even when you know it is coming at some point in the near future, when you lose someone like my grams, everyone who knew her suffers.

My grams wasn't your typical grandma. She truly was a brilliant woman; a librarian by trade, and a lover of books and poetry. She could answer any question on Jeopardy, and taught me more over my lifetime then I think she ever knew. A few years back, after being amazed by my "little black phone that could answer anything I asked it to," I convinced her to buy an iPad. We spent time together, practicing how to use it, and me assuring her that she would not break it no matter what she did. We nicknamed the home button the "oh shit" button. With grams, and occasional curse word was okay, as was discussing some of the taboo topics that most would never dream of discussing with their grandmother.

My grams was incredibly generous. We always kidded her that she printed "$20's" at her house. When Katherine was a baby, we would go and visit and take her to lunch every Friday, often stopping at the grocery store on our way home. She would have me pay for her groceries, always insisting I take a $20 for myself. She liked having a bunch of cash on hand just in case she needed it; once she left a few workmen painting while we went for our weekly lunch, and told me to remind her she hid her $20's in Sherlock Holmes in case she forgot.

She was generous in not only what she gave, but praise as well. She told me frequently what a great mom I am, and what a kind man I married.

My grandma's sense of humor is was what I will miss the most. This past week, it seems as every time I sit and think about her, I close my eyes and hear her laugh. Her chuckle as I would read her Katherine's newest piece of writing or share Charlotte's latest antics, or as she would listen to Jack's jibber jabber.

She spent the last days of her life at a hospice facility, surrounded by those who love her most. It was a hard, hard week as we prayed for her to leave us peacefully, and shared some of our fondest memories. We listened to her favorite songs; everything from "Scotland the Brave" to "Rainbow Connection" by Kermit the Frog to Rod Stewart. I took both Jack and Charlotte to visit during her final days; some of her last laughs were at Jack as he sat next to her in bed and babbled away. During the past few years as she slowly lost her ability to live independently, read the newspaper, walk, care for herself, enjoy a good book, and finally after her last stroke her ability to fully communicate with us what she was thinking, we would visit often and she would get a kick out of watching the kids play.


Tonight of my way home from work, I promised the kids I would stop and get 49ers (a.k.a. McDonald's 49 cent ice cream cones) to celebrate great grams. Katherine asked if I thought it would be okay if she had a McFlurry instead. I told her I was positive Peg would approve, the bigger the treat the better, especially if it meant making my kids happy.

Keep calm and carry on.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


My dear Charlotte, 

Five. A whole hand. A half a decade. However you say it, I still can't believe it. FIVE years old? It feels as I blinked and time has flown by; like just yesterday you came into our world and changed it for the better. 

It has been a fun couple days. As usual, the combination of your birthday and my birthday, plus a big ol' party means 4 days of straight celebration; and I wouldn't have it any other way. Your birthday party this year was themed "Tutu Dance Party"...we made 20 tutus for our closest friends and relatives, and we put together a grand party for a grand little girl. You had an absolute blast and it was so fun to watch, as the joy that radiated from your little body was infectious. 

This morning you woke up and came downstairs to your birthday present from your daddy & I; a new bike, a 2-wheeler like Katherine and Will's. Daddy was hesitant when we picked this present for you, as we weren't sure if you were ready for a big bike. We were wrong, and once again we underestimated what you are made of...we should really learn, my dear, not to underestimate you. You rode that bike today all over the driveway, and then tonight you decided you needed to ride along with us for part of our nightly walk instead of taking your usual spot in the stroller next to Jack.

This year you loved when we sang "happy birthday"...and requested it at least four times today. We did candles twice; in your pancakes this morning and then tonight in your birthday cake. You shimmied in your seat with excitement and then blew out those candles. Leading up to today, we tried to prepare you for turning five, by prompting you when someone would ask how old you were to say "five" instead of "four." Every time, you still answered "four" when we asked...until this morning, when sitting on your new bike, I asked you how old you were and without thinking, you said very calmly, "I'm five." There was no tricking you into telling us you were five before you actually were. 

You have spent some time at your new school these past two weeks, in preparation for Kindergarten this fall. I would pick you up after an hour of hanging with your teachers and the other kids, and you wouldn't make eye contact with me, but rather just file into line with the kids and walk down to the cafeteria. I am pretty sure you would have stayed all day if possible. Sometimes it floors me how independent and grown-up you have become this past year. I am so proud of the little lady you have become and excited to see what this next year brings. 

I love you more than you can imagine, my dear Charlotte. 


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Celebrate Difference.

A few weeks ago, I overheard Katherine talking with one of her friends about Down syndrome. She was explaining the science behind it; I heard her talk about chromosomes, what they are, and how Charlotte has 47 and they have 46. She also explained what Down syndrome means for her little sister, and how Ds is the reason Charlotte is sometimes hard to understand. Her friend was very receptive, nodding her head and asking questions in all the right places; because at age nine, a candid discussion like this is no big deal.

My heart swelled as I listened to the two girls talk. Katherine, spreading awareness and acceptance for her sister without knowing the magnitude of what she was doing; her friend listening, understanding, and asking questions about something that was unfamiliar to her.

Today is World Down syndrome Day (March 21st each year ....3/21, which represents the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome). Six million people across the world have Down syndrome, but that is just a fraction of the people who have some sort of disability which makes them different. Something I have come to understand with more clarity since Charlotte's birth; disability is much, much bigger than Down syndrome. And difference is much, much bigger than disability. And though today the focus is on Down syndrome, I urge you to think bigger.

Acceptance comes from understanding. Understanding comes from being educated. Education comes from asking questions and learning. We all need to take a lesson from 9-year-olds, and know that it is okay to ask questions and learn more about what makes each of us unique.

No two people in this world are the same; difference is what makes life interesting. Today, don't just celebrate Down syndrome, celebrate difference.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

My blog entries may be few and far between this past year, but I couldn't let my annual tradition of our year in review, like 2011, 2012, and 2013, here is our 2014 at a glance.


Two words defined January of 2014: Polar Vortex. Which really just meant that it was really, freakin' cold. So cold that during two different times that month, schools were closed and we spent our days stuck in the house, entertaining ourselves with movies, books, crafts, and games. It was during this month that Charlotte started to give up her nap for good; some days not sleeping at all, and other days after destroying her room we would find her sleeping in the most peculiar places.

The weather in February proved to be just as cold as January, meaning more time inside. Charlotte's preschool has a policy, where they keep the 3-year-olds inside if it is below 20 degrees...I am pretty sure she went out maybe once during January and February. We spent a lot of time at Kate and Bill's; my grams was now living there, and they all appreciated the visits from the kids. We tried to have Charlotte's tonsillectomy at the end of February but sickness delayed it.


Baby Aria, Erin & Paul's 2nd child, was born in early March. Baby whisperer, aka Katherine, was thrilled, as she can't resist snuggling a newborn. Meanwhile at home, Jack was becoming quite the mobile little one. For the first ten months of his life, he preferred to sit in one place (and scream, usually). But over the period of only a few days he learned how to crawl, pull himself up & cruise around furniture, and climb stairs.


Charlotte's tonsils came out in early April, and after 8,000 showings of Frozen and Wreck it Ralph, as well as 40 tons of tater tots (no ice cream and popsicles for this kid!), she was back to her old self. We also took a very impromptu spring break trip to St. Louis with the kids. Mike and I were both surprised at how much fun we had and how easy of a trip it was (anytime you shove 6 people in one small hotel room, especially when one of those people is Jack, you never know what will result).


My little man had his golden birthday on the first day of May. We felt it was a milestone, as we it meant we survived probably the hardest year of our lives. Jack decided to celebrate his birthday by learning how to walk and showing off his new skills at his first birthday party. 

A few days after Jack's birthday party, we said goodbye to my grandfather after he lost his fight with cancer. A situation we are becoming all too used to as our grandparents age, though never is easy. 

Charlotte wrapped up her first year of school on a high note; she truly had an amazing first year and grew so much in every area. Her teachers were phenomenal and we couldn't have asked for a better start to her formal education.


June = birthdays in our house. Sophie (our 8-year-old black lab), Charlotte, and I all share a birthday week in early June. We celebrated with a party at our house, and Charlotte declared it the "best day ever." The older kids finished school for the year, and our summer routine commenced.  Summer school, swim lessons, sports camps, and more, all while enjoying the laid back days and nice weather. 


In early July, we spent a weekend up north at Mike's parents celebrating the 4th of July. The kids all loved the small "firework stand" fireworks this year, as well as time outdoors with family. 

Towards the end of the month, my grandma fell ill, rather suddenly. She had been fighting a progressive disease for the past three years, and it finally became too much. After an emotionally exhausting week of sitting with Kate and my mom at her bedside in the hospice, my grams left us. There isn't a day that has gone by since that I haven't thought of her. The reminders of her are everywhere, and I have struggled a lot with her passing; as have my kids. She was truly the smartest lady I knew, and we miss her so, so much. 

Mike and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on the last day of July. It is amazing to think about what we have been through in our decade of marriage, and I can't imagine surviving it without him by my side. We were able to get away for a night, with hopes of a longer vacation somewhere in the future when Jack isn't quite so needy and dependent on us. 


In August, summer school wrapped up and our routine became more relaxed. Mike, Katherine, and Will attended quite a few Brewers baseball games, and we made a few trips to the zoo. We prepared to say goodbye to my grandma in the middle of August with a "Remembering Peg"memorial service. It ended up being a perfect day, and a perfect way to celebrate her life. Our month ended with what I consider probably one of the most laid back days of summer; a trip to a local kiddie theme park with good friends and family.


September always marks the beginning of a new school year; this year Katherine is in 3rd grade, Will is in first, and Charlotte in 4K. They all are having good years thus far, and have a group of amazing teachers which I always appreciate more than you can imagine. Charlotte is in a typical preschool class, at the school she attended last year. She has support from an aide and a special ed teacher at times, and all of her therapy is done in the classroom. She is the only kiddo with a disability in her class, and being surrounded by her typical peers has done wonders for her speech, as well as emotional/social growth.

Will turned seven in early September, the same day we left for a weekend in Minneapolis to celebrate Mike's sister's wedding. Katherine and Charlotte made cute flower girls, and we all had a lot of fun visiting with family. At the end of the month, we had a combined family birthday party for Katherine and Will, as they both choose to have fun friend birthday parties at different times.


Katherine turned nine in mid-October, and the cool weather of fall was quickly upon us. We celebrated in the usual ways; a trip to the pumpkin farm, a corn maze, and other fall traditions. Will spent his weekends playing soccer, and Katherine officially made the decision to take a hiatus from piano and give the swim team a try. Halloween marked the end of October, and for once in all the years we have had children, it was actually mild & nice weather for trick-or-treating (as opposed to rainy, cold, and hail!).


November seemed to go by quickly; our days are filled with the busyness of life. School, homework, and after school activities fill up the days of the kids, while Mike and I are constantly trying to figure out ways to best juggle our own jobs with the needs of our kids. Right before Thanksgiving, for the first time in 4 years, my mom, Kate, Missy, and I were able to get away for a girl's shopping weekend...exactly what we all needed. Thanksgiving rounded our November with celebrations with both sides of the family, and a trip up north.


Oh December, where did you go? I am not sure why, but this year the Christmas season was a blur. For me personally, as well as those closest to me, the Christmas spirit seemed to be missing this year. Maybe because it felt rushed due to Thanksgiving being so late, or because of the craziness of work travel for Mike coupled with lots of activities for kids, and a busy/stressful few weeks of work for me, as well as some illness? Or maybe it is the sadness of spending the first holidays without those we lost this year.

Whatever the reason, I can honestly say, I was happy to take the tree down today. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the Christmas celebrations with family, but after our string of 5 days of Christmas events and travel to various houses (none of them childproofed, mind you!), we. were. exhausted. I tried, I really tried, to enjoy the "magic of Christmas" through the eyes of our children, but it was hard to sit back and relax when Jack was pulling glass balls off of trees and whipping them across the room. Maybe next year it will be easier?!

Last night, we spent our New Year's Eve as we do every year, with our good friends. Seven kids make things crazy, though, it never feels that crazy. The kids had a great time, as did the adults. I swear I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time, and it felt good. The older three kids made it up to ring in the New Year with us, and even though Jack isn't feeling the best and was up a ton last night, we are enjoying a quiet New Year's day at a childproofed house ;-).

And that is a wrap. 2014 is now behind us, and the anticipation of 2015 and all it has to bring is strong. A few family trips I am sure will be on the horizon (our annual Dells trip is next week already!), the hope that winter isn't nearly as cruel to us this year so we can get out and enjoy the snow at times, a summer filled with the usually friends and fun, and come September I will put THREE kids on the school bus for full day school, as Charlotte starts Kindergarten. Where does the time go?

Happy New Year everyone!


Edited to add a link to more pictures from our 2014 Flipgram.