Oh Hey, 2014!

I have no idea how it happened, but a new year is upon us. That’s right, goodbye 2013 and hello 2014. Not only is it a new year, but we’re already more than halfway through January!

I haven’t wrote in a while, for a lot of reasons really. A lot of it has been due to writer’s block, some of it has been a lack of time, but it’s definitely not because I have nothing to say (cue the sarcastic comments). I could write a 2013 review or a positive, goal-filled outlook for 2014. I could share the story of Ella opening her Christmas gifts early or her amazing opportunity to be on television for Cleft Awareness. I could write about the fact that Will is no longer a baby and has an insane ability to repeat everything we say – I’m telling you, the kid’s a parrot! Let’s not forget our annual Packer outing, New Years Eve festivities and of course there are always a lot of home improvement projects happening.

For the sake of keeping it interesting, I’m going to talk about the most important things – our kids. We’ll start with Will first. For some reason from the time he was born, Will was nicknamed by everyone as “Baby Will.” Although the nickname has held, sadly he is no longer a baby. Almost 18 months already, he is doing new things daily. As I mentioned above, he talks all the time – it’s crazy. His vocabulary probably consists of 40 words and while it’s not always clear, he really has no limits. He says the usual things like, momma, dadda, ball, puppy, no-no, etc. He also says things less typical like, football, touchdown, cheese, adios, etc. The more impressive thing is that he says things in context – “thank you” when he’s given something he’s asked for, or “get down” as he’s climbing on all the furniture in the house.

1512597_10100634258613046_1604147836_nHis actions are no longer by chance, but definitely intentional. He’s a lot like Ella, but even more devious. He knows the difference from right and wrong, but that doesn’t mean he makes the right choice. I might be biased, but he’s extremely talented. It’s made me think a lot about gender differences, but he somehow has this natural ability to pick up a ball and accurately whip it at your head. He is still a picky little eater and definitely needs to work on his short temper!

Now onto Ella. I already spoiled the end of the story, but it’s still a worthy of documenting (to share with her when she has kids of her own someday)! We always set up our tree in early December and place the wrapped presents underneath as they are purchased. We’ve never had a problem in the past and it shouldn’t be all that tempting since we don’t even wait until Christmas to open (due to traveling to our families). This year should have been even easier since I didn’t wrap and place the presents until later than normal. Almost everyday after daycare she would ask to open, “just one” gift from the under the tree. Each time she got the same answer, “absolutely not” or “don’t even think about it!”

Regardless of all of those things, the temptation was far too much for her and she caved. On December 14th, we woke to find that not only had she had opened EVERY.SINGLE.GIFT from under the tree, she also found the stocking stuffers I had hidden in our spare bedroom. The scene was shocking and surreal! I was honestly surprised because behavior-wise, she was on a good run, she had been a really good girl. Just a few days prior during our bedtime conversations she said, “it’s ok if Santa can’t bring me what I asked for, maybe he’ll just bring me something small. I just cannot believe I’m on the nice list!”

Thank goodness she can read, that at least prevented her from unwrapping all of Will’s gift too. Her actions required a punishment that would hopefully set the tone for years to come. I thought about re-wrapping the gifts, but she was excited to help with that task and I didn’t want to do it again. We ended up settling on her gifts sitting under the tree, unwrapped to see everyday, but she wasn’t allowed to play with them. I also took her to Build-a-Bear to make an animal that we then donated to Toys for Tots. She did a pretty good job with both of those punishments, but the hardest part was when Will opened his gifts. She had to sit patiently and not help or touch a thing the entire time he opened. It took him about 30 minutes and drove her (and us) a little insane! The final punishment was in her stocking, which we opened after we returned home from the holiday travel. Will’s was full of gifts from Santa, he even had a gift under the tree. Ella’s stocking was empty – except for a note in the shape of a heart. It read, “Dear Ella, try harder next year and remember, don’t open your gifts until Christmas! Love, Santa.” She was sad, but I think the point was made. If she opens her gifts ahead of time again, she’s moving in with grandma & grandpa.

Now onto better things from Ella. Our friend Emmy Fink presented us with an amazing opportunity to share Ella’s story of Cleft Awareness on the CW Network here in Madison. When I first asked Ella if she was interested she was a bit hesitant, but then quickly turned into a diva – “I don’t want you to go on t.v. with me, I want to go myself – just like my last surgery!” I had to explain that it was important for a parent to tell their story too, so she said, “okay mom, just the girls will go this time. The next time I’m on t.v. I’ll pick dad!” That kid.

When people started to hear about it, I think they expected her performance to be loud and full of personality, just like her. In reality she was a little nervous and pretty reserved, but I couldn’t be prouder of her and the outcome! Hopefully as she gets older she realize what an opportunity it was.