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!


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.



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


Overdue Update

A new year is supposed to bring new resolution’s and a renewed energy towards the things that matter. Apparently that did not apply to this blog…as it’s now March and I haven’t wrote since November ’15 :( It’s not that this doesn’t matter to me, because it does (a lot), but so much has happened since I last wrote that it hasn’t allowed for the focus necessary to write anything meaningful.

My last post came from a place of sadness. We had just lost my grandpa and our dog all within the same week. That alone is excuse enough to take a break from writing (in my opinion), but there have been many other things that have prevented me from writing.

The largest distraction has been our business, Kella Design. Earlier in 2015 I had made up my mind that I was going to dive into our business full-time. On top of our other career commitments we had been juggling Kella at the same time for far too long. While it’s been the best decision we’ve made in a long time, it’s also taken a lot of time & energy.

We celebrated several special events, including Ella turning 7! It seems like each year we have the same number of parties as her years on this earth. In addition to her family bashes, this year she was able to plan a friend party that was complete with hand painting pottery. We’ve attended several other birthday parties too. One for 3 of our 5 nieces – in the beginning of February the twins turned 1 already (I bet their parents don’t think it went as fast) and Paige turned 10 at the end of the month (how did that happen?) It was nice to spend time with family and we had a blast sledding.

Of course Christmas was in there as well and Santa even decided to bring our kiddo’s a new puppy. He’s been a fantastic addition, minus the fact that he almost died shortly after joining us. After a several days at the emergency vet and a whole bunch of money later, we think he’s on the mend.

The kids have been busy as well. Ella is still in gymnastics, but also participated in poms and recently finished her first basketball camp. For the first time she actually showed some interest and practiced to improve her skills. That’s a major improvement for her, so we’re pretty proud! I was also able to talk her into chopping her hair off (finally). There really was no other option, as her long hair was impossible to take care of and it had to go – however, I was only able to push her past a trim by convincing her to donate it to Locks of Love. We just attended her Spring Music Recital at school and she was very happy to have us there.

Will has fully committed to making the year of 3 his own. He is still a very sweet little boy, but not necessarily to us! If I counted how many times he tells me that “he’s not my best buddy” each day, I would have to focus on nothing else. Despite that, he’s been great at daycare and has even been recognized for his kindness to his friends! Let’s hope this threenager phase is over soon. He’ll soon finish up swimming lessons and we just signed him up for soccer. He still loves building with his blocks and has really embraced music. He & Ella sing and entertain us with their guitar’s more than most pro’s.


Small Packages

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I’ve wanted to but couldn’t bring myself to put words on “paper.” The pressure of writing something perfect enough to encapsulate my feelings is next to impossible.

On Saturday, September 19th, I lost my grandpa Jim. It’s been well over a month since he left us and yet I still haven’t processed the magnitude of our family’s loss. He played such a critical role in my life, it seemed required that he would always be there.

My grandpa was a strong man, in fact one of the strongest I have ever met – so when we got the call that it was time for his family to come, I was skeptical. He had fought and conquered so many times before, I was sure that this was just another of those times.

My grandma & grandpa have 4 children and amongst them, there are 11 grandchildren and amongst us we’ve provided 13 great-grandchildren. When we got to the hospital almost the entire family was there, surrounding the man who had started it all and unlike what I was told on the phone, he was in great spirits. Obviously tired, but alert & aware, cracking jokes and telling us stories from the good ‘ole days. He made sure he saw & talked to every last one of us and specifically asked to see each of his great-grandkids, taking his oxygen mask off so that they weren’t afraid and he could see their smile one last time. If it wasn’t for his stubbly, unshaven face, it would have felt almost like any other Friday night growing up.

That’s right – almost every Friday night (and a lot of other days & nights of the week) of my entire life was spent with my extended family. It likely started off with a sporting event, to which my grandparents were in the stands cheering us on. They never missed a single event that any of their 11 grandchildren competed in – and let me tell you, we competed in almost everything a small school has to offer.

He was always there supporting us and yet after much reflection I’ve realized – he NEVER asked us for anything. He gave us everything he had and dedicated his life to his family and in return, all he wanted was our love. Even that night as he shared his final words, he didn’t ask any of us to do anything for him. He worried who would care for grandma, about the house and some of his remaining projects yet to be finished – but he didn’t ask a single person to do something for him. Ever.

The conversation I had that night with my grandpa would be the last. I’m so grateful for that time and I know how fortunate our family was to receive that gift. On Saturday, grandpa was still with us – but no longer awake or responsive and passed away peacefully that afternoon. We planned a beautiful memorial service and a record setting number of people showed up to pay their respects. It’s no surprise though, my grandpa impacted everyone he met and even though I grew up in a small community, the impression he left was unmeasurable. My brother gave the eulogy and couldn’t have delivered a more perfect tribute. I’m including it here because I want to preserve it for anytime I need to come back to remember.

They say when it rains, it pours. We returned home and the very next day our chihuahua of 11 years, Narley passed away. Similar to grandpa, I luckily spent some extra time with him that morning before heading to work. Like every other day, I put him in his dog bed when I left. Unlike other days though, when we returned home he didn’t greet us with his wagging tail & snorts. Narley was not just a dog, he was our family. He was our baby before kids and there is no way we’ll ever be able to replace him.

It seems crazy, but Grandpa Jim and Narley had more similarities than one might think. If good things come in small packages, they were the best gift possible. Both were small in stature, Grandpa weighing around 150 lbs. on his best day and Narley topping out at 9 lbs. Despite their small size, they were extremely protective & loyal to the ones they loved. They were always excited to see me and their most important shared trait – they loved me, for me.

I’m not sure how we’re supposed to move on, but I do know we’ll be forced to do so. Already this past weekend we had to take our kids first Halloween photo without Grandpa Jim. Although I was strong at the time, I needed some air so I stepped outside grandma’s house. Blowing in the wind, I was comforted by the sound of the beautiful chimes from grandpa’s funeral.

For now we’ll take one day at a time and be sure to count our lucky stars for all of our blessings and remember that we are Jim Boylen’s legacy.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 10.23.09 PM297512_858946852056_401662845_n11696308_10101172414374586_916636918221162181_o