Escalated Plans

Joe & I are notorious for a simple idea turning into a grand plan. Let me give you an example;

This past Christmas Will planned to ask Santa for a turtle, so we visited the pet store to learn more about this potential new family member. If you aren’t aware turtles can live a long time and I definitely didn’t want to be caring for a Christmas gift for the next 50 years. So we started to think of alternatives options. We checked out the lizards, hamsters and at one point decided that it might be best to get a guinea pig, but of course they are social pets – so we’d need two, not one! Did I mention we have a cat that might eat them both? Quickly the plan escalated from a little turtle living in a 10 gallon tank to two guinea pigs, needing a very large (and smelly) caged area. Luckily I realized what was happening and put my foot down. Santa ended up bringing Will a small aquarium with a few fish & a frog. I didn’t like that idea either but it was the lesser of evils.

Fast forward to last week when it all happened again. Spring Break was quickly approaching and of course Ella really wanted to go (fly) somewhere. Joe & I had just gone on our solo vacation to Punta Cana so we didn’t really have the time to take off of work, nor the money to plan a big trip. We discussed driving to Florida so the kids could see the ocean, and we’d break up the long drive by visiting Nashville. Don’t get me wrong, typically I love road trips, but the thought of being trapped in the car with my two children, fighting non-stop for 32+ hours just wasn’t doing it for me.

So I started to look for cheap flights near the beach and stumbled upon a non-stop flight to Orlando & even better, it was in & out of Madison. That literally NEVER happens, so I had to show Joe. Since the change of plans was new, he needed some time to think about it. By the time he had decided, those flights were gone, but we had already set our minds to Orlando so we looked for another option. Luckily we found another cheap flight in & out of Milwaukee that was also non-stop – and we booked!

Of course we couldn’t fly into Orlando and NOT take our kids to Disney, so we started to look at tickets to Magic Kingdom. We told ourselves that we’d do just one day at Disney and we’d find the cheapest hotel since we’d barely be there. But then a Disney Resort seemed to offer so many great options. Long story short, when we land (we’re currently in the air) we’ll be picked up by the Magical Express and delivered to the Disney Pop Century Resort. As originally planned, we do want to show the kids the ocean so we are only doing one day at Disney and then we’ll head to Clearwater Beach for a few days.

I saw this plan escalate as well, but surprising our kids with their first flight, first trip to Disney and first time in the ocean is completely worth it. We kept it a secret until two days ago. We told them we couldn’t do a full vacation because of work, but that we could take a few days and head to Milwaukee to see the Brewers play & visit the zoo. Unveiling the surprise was almost as fun for us, as it was for them. Take a peek for yourself!

Obviously I was very anxious about the trip, especially since Will worries about most things (see: his response to flying in the video), but so far I have been so proud of them & delightfully surprised. They both were amazing at the airport & so far have been fantastic on the flight. They are currently coloring & watching a movie on the phones (thank the powers above for technology)!

I really hope this doesn’t jinx the rest of the trip!

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Love So Hard

IMG_6563Somehow it’s that time of year again…we are en route to our annual vacation, this time to Punta Cana. This year we decided to mix it up a bit – Ella’s spring break isn’t until April 10th & we didn’t want to leave for someplace warm just as it’s starting to get nice (ignore the 70 day in February) in Wisconsin.

That means she still needs to get to school though, so for the first time we hired a nanny to stay with the kids for a few days. We feel very fortunate to have someone who 1) is willing, 2) we trust and 3) the kids like. Ms. Krissy works at our daycare and Will loves her, so it’s nice that our timid one will be comfortable.

That doesn’t mean it comes without worry & a whole lot of planning. I HATE asking people for things – even if I pay them, so IF I do so, I want to make it as convenient as possible for them. That means a whole lot of meal planning, cleaning & list making ahead of time.

Planning for Will was quite easy, just lay out clothes for each day & Krissy can take him to & from work with her. Ella on the other hand was a different story. Yes, there was laying out her clothes, but there were also check lists to make sure she packed her lunch, remembered her helmet (they’re rollerblading in gym class), got to Drew’s on-time and a list of responsibilities too – mostly all dealing with the pets. Feed the fish, let the dogs out, kennel the dogs, leave the basement door open for Mac, feed the animals, etc. You never realize how much goes into a daily routine until you have to write it all down – and that’s a lot to remember for an 8 year old!

By the time the planning was nearly complete, I was more than ready for this vacation. The kids were feeling a mix of emotions too – a bit or nerves, some sadness and a lot of excitement! They were so wound up yesterday afternoon that we wanted to murder them. They were driving us crazy! We couldn’t wait to get in the car and out of that house.

At the same time, saying goodbye is always hard. You’re re-running all of the lists in your head to make sure you told the nanny everything and checking to make sure you’ve packed everything you’ll need. We said our goodbyes & got into the car and immediately I felt…guilt & sadness. #momlife. How could I feel bad two seconds into the trip. I didn’t express my feelings but instead called my mom to make sure she had everything she needed for the second part of the trip. Continuing to plan kept my mind off of it, plus Ella & I were texting the whole time. We got to our hotel and as we laid down for bed I finally said out loud, “how can I miss the kids already?” It had been less than 4 hours. They were driving us crazy. We couldn’t wait to go. And yet here I was missing them.

How can you both love & strongly dislike someone so hard?!

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Lay A Little Longer

Will is 4, Ella is almost 8 and yet…we still put each of them to bed each night. When I say put them to bed, I don’t mean read them a brief story, kiss their head and say goodnight. I mean an hour + routine of agony. Struggling to brush teeth, go to the bathroom, reading stories, watching videos, talking about the day, listening to music, snuggling, requesting quiet, requesting quiet again and again and again. You get the point.

Ella has always been pretty easy. As soon as we get to the requesting quiet stage, she goes right to sleep. It’s the best part of our day. We talk about things, we giggle, we relax and all is great! Will on the other hand is a different story. He’s the reason we have multiple stages of requesting quiet. He just doesn’t give up!

14642069_10101641969711926_5390678529526965122_nFor that reason, we felt it was time for some tough love and a new bedtime routine. Of course, the first night of the new schedule fell on my shoulders (we rotate turns between kids). Going in I had the best of intentions and I know I’m stronger than him. As we went through the entire routine, it felt like we quickly got to the requesting quiet stage. As soon as I said it was time for me to leave the room, he asked me in the sweetest little voice to lay with him for a little while. I knew I should stick to my guns and leave the room, but how much longer do I have? He’s only little for so long!

So for now, I’m not going to worry about it and instead I’m going to lay a little longer. I’ve got no where to be and I’m going to miss that sweet little voice before I know it.

*This happened in a blink of an eye.

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Sealed by the Sunflowers

13652651_10101531827867066_354295257_nWhat do you see when you look at this photo? A perfect, smiling, happy family? Me too… somedays, but in this particular photo I see the backstory that forced us all to fake the smiles just to get the shot. #memories

For the past two years I have seriously contemplated whether or not we should have a third child. I have never felt like our family was complete and my desire to add another little one has grown more & more recently. At the same time, I’m an honest person who also realize that making that leap from 2 to 3 would be insane, for so many reasons.

Our current children aren’t what you’d call “easy” so the thought of adding another into the chaos, seems overwhelming. When I say that to most people, their response is – “no kids are easy.” While that’s true, after doing some soul searching I realized that every part of our daily routine is a struggle. Things that we have asked our kids to do every single day of their waking life, are just damn hard! Experts promise that if you set expectations, provide routine and remain consistent that you’ll see the results you’re hoping for. In our case, that’s just not the case. Getting ready for school, getting out of the house, going anywhere, dinner time, teeth brushing….all things that happen on a regular basis and yet no matter what, they’re still a struggle!

Why does adult life need to be so hard? Decisions like these should be easier! At this point all I can I hope is that our family fate wasn’t sealed by the sunflowers.

Back to the story – on this particular day I had to carry Will to the car, kicking & screaming, spitting snot at me for 1 mile – all while the other smiling families passed by on their happy hike to the sunflowers. #kids

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Cleft Lip & Palate Books

It’s hard to keep track of all the helpful & supportive cleft lip & palate books for both children and parents. Therefore we compiled a brief list. Which are your favorites?

Top – From left to right.
1. Wonder – R.J. Palacio
2. Lippy the Lion – Joanne Green
3. Your Cleft-Affected Child – Carrie Gruman-Trinkner

Bottom – From left to right.
4. Cleft Talk for Kids – Melissa Johnston-Burnham
5. Totally Normal – Paul Little
6. A Special Smile – Julie Graham

Top – From left to right.
1. Children with Cleft Lip and PalateMary A. Hardin-Jones, Kathy L. Chapman, Nancy J. Scherer 
2. First Place – Kate Gaynor
3. I Love You Now, I Loved You Then – Kate Isles

Bottom – From left to right.
4. Katie’s Dream – Mariette Vermeylen-Nuyts
5. Words in the Dust – Trent Reedy
6. Comprehensive Cleft Care, Family Edition – Joseph Losee

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