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 go....so, 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 home...in 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. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I have a couple posts planned for this week, however, we are in the midst of 5 days of Christmas celebrations and I am beat (thanks to our 1AM bedtime last night due to our Santa duties!).

So instead, I am stopping by to wish you a Merry Christmas with a promise of more to come.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Miss me?

Hellllloooo out there! Anyone still there? My poor, neglected blog...eek, it has been over two months since I have written anything. Last month, on September 30th, I posted a quick picture in order to avoid a month where I posted absolutely nothing. In the 4+ years since Charlotte's birth, a month hasn't gone by in which I didn't post at least once entry...I couldn't start now!

Whenever I think life couldn't get crazier, it always does. I had a job opportunity kind of fall into my lap; so far, it has worked out well for my family; it has freed up my nights at home (where I used to work outside of the home multiple nights a week), as this new job allows me to work from home, mostly after the kids have gone to bed or in the early morning hours before they get up. However, it also robs me of any time I used to have to myself at night (hence the absence of blog entries)....the sacrifices we make for our children! 

In an effort to catch you up with the happenings of our lives these past two months, here is a visual (with a few captions) of what you missed. My job allows me to have "off" when the kids have off of school, so maybe look for my next blog entry around Thanksgiving?! 

Will turned 7 in September, and invited a few friends to enjoy his favorite past time to celebrate! 

"I did it Mommy, I did it!"
Getting ready to meet her new 4K teachers.  

Enjoying the waning days of summer with a zoo trip. 
Another job of mine...entertaining "B" while his mom heads back to school this year. Jack likes it :)
When did these two get so old?
Loves black beans as much as his big sister. 
Celebrating "7" with Will and his 1st grade class. 
Flower girls. 
Aunt Keri's wedding. 

Baby boy in a bow tie. 'Nough said. 

Road trip!
Biggest birthday ice cream sundae. Ever.
This kid turned 9 in October. 
This kid is where all my gray hair is going to come from....the cause of many sleepless nights and much of my days stresses. Wouldn't trade him for the world. 
Saturday morning soccer selfie. 

The fun that can be had at Target is endless. 
"9" looks good on her. 
Birthday dinner....hotdogs ("the real ones mom, like the ones from Miller park...not those turkey ones you usually buy!"), white rice, and broccoli. 
Bus ride to the pumpkin farm! 

4K field trip with her friends. 
Charlotte has been really into games lately...good thing she has good teachers (ignore the no pants, she isn't a fan of those). 
The "More brothers" asking for more food, of course.
A much welcomed night out. 
Chipotle with friends.  

We may have to try t-ball next summer...this kiddo wants to be just like her big brother. 

Daily morning walks with the "More brothers"

Happy Halloween everyone!