Thankful For

With November being the month of Thanksgiving, I see a lot of people on Facebook posting what
they’re thankful for each day. In past years I’ve tried to partake but always fell short by missing too many days.

That doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for all the amazing things in my life. I could likely post something every day of the month but when I really look at it there’s one day in November that I’m especially thankful for.

November 26th. The start of my life. On that day we welcomed our beautiful little girl into the world. Sure I’d done many things before that, but none that could measure up to that experience.

Already almost five years ago, that day set the stage for the rest of our lives. We didn’t plan Ella, but she had plans for us. She pushed us to buy our first home, to get married, to have another baby (our second blessing), to move to a better school (our second home), etc.

She has shown us there is more to life & has taught us to be selfless. Sure, if we didn’t have kids we might have enjoyed many other experiences. Traveled the world, purchased nicer things, paid more bills – but who would provide us with daily entertainment like this?

She has allowed us to be a part of something bigger. While we wish she didn’t have to endure struggles due to her cleft, as founders of Cleft Awareness, we’ve built a cleft community and made many new friends we never anticipated.

In a few short days we’ll celebrate her fifth birthday. I can’t believe it’s been five years already! Those five years have been rewarding, but definitely not easy. I suppose that’s all a part of her larger than life personality. Besides, nothing in life worth doing is easy.

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Furious 4 Months

The last four months have been a blur! We moved into our new house at the end of June and we haven’t even lived here 4 months yet, but a lot has happened in that short amount of time. We’ve crossed a ton of home improvement projects off the list, attended a few weddings, got both children through surgery, celebrated some birthdays, tried to enjoy a bit of summer, caught up with some old friends and even threw our first bash!

In a previous post I promised some before & after shots of our house projects. Since the weather has been nice, our primary focus has been outdoors, but I don’t have any great shots to show off the new fence, deck or landscaping – so that will have to wait. We’ve not done a ton inside and we’re not even close to being done, but here is a photo update of our progress so far:

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There is still a ton to be done in the kitchen. We plan to strip, stain and refinish the floors, but the bigger project will be the cabinets, as we plan to paint them white. We’ll also be replacing the light over the table and hanging pendants over the island.

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While the living room looks almost complete, we’ve got a long way to go. We plan to replace the incredibly dated and uncomfortable berber carpet, but I keep waiting for Will to stop throwing ravioli on it. I think the better solution is to move his high chair out of reach, although he has a pretty good arm.. We’ve also made the decision to replace all the base board in the house and paint all trim and molding white.  If we still have energy, we’ve talked about adding built in benches against the windows too.

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I’m really happy with how Ella’s room turned out. We had planned to focus on the downstairs first, but in true fashion, our little diva kept asking when her room would be painted, so she moved up on the priority list. The remaining items in this room include painting all the trim and replacing the base board. Even though we don’t love it, we’ve decided to keep the carpet in both kiddo’s rooms so when they trash it, we won’t care as much! To see another angle of Ella’s room click here.

I’ve updated the spare bedroom, twice actually. I first decided that I would paint the accent wall the same color as I chose for my fireplace wall, but after I had finished – I realized I hated it in that room. So I painted it again. I’ve also updated the dining room, entryway and lower bath. Those photos will have to wait for another update. My next project is Will’s room. Unfortunately he’s been pushed aside since he can’t talk yet. Even though it was a huge pain, I plan to do something similar as his last room.

Speaking of Will – he’s getting so big. In fact it was as I was sitting down to update his baby book when I realized just how fast the past few months have gone. We’ve been so furious that I had almost not recognized all the new things he is doing. He is talking up a storm and showing off his large personality more and more everyday. He says mama, dada, Ella, dog, truck, ball, no, uh-oh and woah. He loves fruit and refuses to eat almost any food that could be considered real. He throws everything (refer to ravioli mention above) and think it’s hilarious when he’s being naughty. He recently broke two more teeth, making a total of 10 chompers in that little mouth. He & Ella love each other and play really well together. We are finally having his baptism this coming weekend & I’m excited to have some of our friends and family here to visit.


Jack of all Trades

Master of none.

Work, home, parenting, friendship, etc. – I’m juggling a lot of different roles, but none all that well. I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions that it’s a struggle to be great at any one role.

At work I’m responsible for solving all the problems. Just the other day we joked that my title should be CTO, Chief Troubleshooting Officer – and I think I do a pretty good job of it. While it may make my co-workers & clients lives better, it causes a lot of problems in the other aspects of my life.

Will spent all last week without diapers at daycare. L1208916_10100527134081466_1759146518_nuckily he has friends that were willing to share until I found the time to stock back up. Then they sent home a note that he had no extra clothes for those inconvenient times he might pee on himself (like today). Not to mention the fact that neither kiddo is fully prepared for the impending weather changes – no appropriately sized pants, long sleeves, boots or jacket. Let’s hope this summer-like weather lasts a bit longer so I have some time to find some fall attire.

As I’ve mentioned before, the house is full of projects but we’ve been so busy running each weekend that I haven’t even been able to keep up with the basics. Thank goodness I was able to find my motivation the other night and in return was able to finish all the laundry, clean the house, paint the remaining stairwell spindles, swap out the spare room bedding and put together our new barstools. While it seems like a lot of productivity, there is still so much to do.

This past weekend we were finally able to spend a weekend at home. Who knew home improvement projects were easier to do when at home? We were so productive! Not only did we paint the spare bath, spare bedroom and dining room, we also built a deck!

It wasn’t all good news though! Poor Will woke with a rash on Saturday morning. I assumed it was due to teething (his molars just popped through, making 10 teeth in that tiny little mouth already) so I gave him an oatmeal bath and hoped for the best. On Sunday it was worse so I took him into the doctor. After a lot of questions she determined that he has scarlet fever. So random! All I could think of was that episode of Little House on the Prairie (I’m sure there was one & whomever had it, died) but turns out it’s an infectious aftermath of strep and apparently it’s very rare for infants, since they don’t typically get strep. We started meds right away but I kept him home from daycare today just to be sure he wasn’t contagious.

Today felt good. It was nice to refocus on my most important role and spend a lot of quality time with my little man. Besides, he was able to practice his newly acquired skill of walking and I was able to get a few more projects (Ella’s room art, mowed the lawn, cleaned the house) handled while he napped :D



What Summer?

It’s September. Not May, June, July or even August – but September (12th to be exact). I have no idea where the summer went, but I’m pretty sure we missed it. With two surgeries and moving to a new home full of projects, we’ve somehow fast forwarded right past that beautiful time of year in which you bask in the glow of the warm sun!

As a last minute attempt to enjoy any type of summer vacation, we went on our annual trip to the Dells this past weekend. When I say the Dells, most parents wouldn’t envision a relaxing time, but we do it a bit different & always have a great time. No overly-crowded water parks or long lines, but instead a stay at a cabin on the river with very few other guests. The weather was beautiful and would have been considered “scorching hot” if we weren’t in the water the entire day. It’s crazy to think last year I was super pregnant with Will and this year he was independently sitting on the beach, drinking a beer (I kid) with his buddy Bex!

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We’ve lived in our home just over 2 months and we’ve accomplished a ton (even if it doesn’t feel like it). In that time we’ve built a fence, painted the kitchen, hall, living room, Ella’s room, landscaped (planted & removed) and tackled some small craft projects (stairwell, front door, etc). In addition to all the other things we do – Joe thinks we should try to blog the before & after’s of each project. I agree, but currently I don’t have a ton of time to do it well, so you’ll have to stay tuned for a photo update soon!



Downplay Dilemma

Joe & I are notoriously bad at downplaying pretty much all things in life – the seriousness of our kids surgeries, the responsibility of our jobs, the amount of juggling it requires to keep things moving. This means that we typically talk less about the “things” in our life; we’d never want anyone to think we were tooting our own horn! While this approach has worked for us in the past, recently I have given it a bit more thought and the negative impact it might have.

As most of you know, both of our kiddo’s just went through major surgery. Leading up to the big events, we didn’t talk about it all that much and when asked we simply responded, “they’ll be fine.” Now that we’re past both surgeries, the kids are in fact, fine! However, due to the lack of details shared, those who don’t experience major events such as these just might start to think that it’s easy. I’m okay with people thinking it’s easy on us, but I don’t want to discredit what our kids have endured!

The other day a friend asked if this would be Ella’s last surgery.  The simple answer is no, but the real answer is that a cleft lip & palate means the possibility of numerous surgeries as she continues to grow. Most people thought that we would have the first two surgeries in infancy and then move onto living our “normal” life. They don’t realize all of the other things impacted by her defect – speech, hearing, eating, dental, emotional – and that’s the best case scenario!

For this reason, we started the Cleft Awareness Foundation to create a support network for Ella and ourselves and to educate those around us about what a cleft lip and palate means. We’ve done a great job at the first portion of that goal. We’ve built a network of 3,500 + like-minded people across the world to share stories, get advice and lean on. However our natural desire to downplay things has caused a dilemma and forced us to fall short in our second goal.

A lot of important people in our life don’t even know about Cleft Awareness! Over the past few years I have shared a lot of helpful things to better educate the cleft community, but I forgot to share that same information with the people closest to Ella! For that reason, I am going to go against the grain and get in a shameless plug —if you are interested in learning more about cleft lip & palate, please follow us on Facebook by clicking here! As a bonus, you’ll get to see a lot of pictures of other strong & beautiful kiddo’s who experience the same things everyday!