Sensational Six

In 6 short days our little lady will turn 6. How is that even possible? It seems like just yesterday we were spending our Thanksgiving in the hospital, holding the thing that had made us more thankful than we ever knew possible.


And at the same time, we’ve accomplished so much. For starters, she’s still alive and let’s be serious – that’s all that matters. But really, in a limited amount of time she’s learned to:

I know I’m biased but she is truly an amazing little human. Since she was born I’ve worried about what type of person she might become and whether or not we could instill the right values & morals to be proud of. I’ve joked that we’re prepared to struggle until she turns 26, but after that she would make an amazing adult. While there are definitely days that we struggle – it’s not necessary to wait until 26 because she’s already a pretty sensational 6 year-old.



Embarrassment is an interesting and uncomfortable thing. The bad news is that I endured enough of it as a kid, but the good news is that it was so long ago that I can only remember it from photos. It also strengthened me to a point that I rarely let those types of things bother me. While I’m grateful that it now takes a lot to turn my cheeks pink, I still don’t want my kids to have to feel embarrassed by anything – especially things that are out of their control.

I worried about Ella starting school. It’s been a month now & when I ask how things are going, she barely says a thing. One night she mentioned that some kids were mean to her & my heart sunk. After some conversation I learned that some of the older kids were picking on her after school. I try not to jump to the worst-case scenario & instead ask open-ended questions. As I prodded for more information I realized that they were just taunting her for being the “little kid.” Whew – we dodged a bullet! While I was relieved, I also knew it would only be a matter of time.

That time came last week. Just like usual at bedtime I asked if things were going okay, but instead of the normal silence she said, “mom can I tell you something?” Again my heart sunk. I think I stopped breathing. She went on, “some of the kids ask me what happened to my lip.” I replied, “well, what do you tell them?” She went on, “I told one girl that I was born with a cleft lip & palate and my lip used to be open (as she tugs her lip up) and this mark is from my surgery.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 9.45.36 PMMy heart swelled with pride and then it just as quickly filled with sadness. She then said, “but i just tell the other kids that I don’t want to talk about it.” I asked her why not and she said the words that crushed me. “Because it’s embarrassing!”

Embarrassed. My little spitfire child! With a larger than life personality and more spunk than I even thought humanly possible. All this time I had hoped that all those characteristics that sometime drive me mad, would also be her life vest and keep her afloat during a time that is critical in shaping who she becomes. And yet here we are, only one month into starting school and she has already withered and caved.

I tried to explain that she has nothing to be embarrassed about and that when asked, she could use the same response she shared with her friend – but she said she’d rather just ignore it. I’m okay with that approach, but only if she’s truly able to block it out with impact, which is definitely not the case. I offered to come and talk to the school but I think the thought of that embarrasses her even more.

At this point, I don’t know how to help her and that damn near kills me. I hope that if we keep instilling confidence and reassure her that she is perfect in every way (we’re not talking about behavior) that she will be able to work her way through this and come out stronger – making these moments a distant memory. If not, I’ll have to go to school and kick some ass!


Summer Wrap

We’ve had a busy summer with working on many house & outdoor projects, but still finding time to have some fun! As a family we’ve stayed active by participating in a 5K run and an 8K bike ride, both for honorable causes. We visited two county fairs and much to our surprise, they both loved riding all of the rides. We won two new fish again, but luckily they only lasted two days (ain’t nobody got time for that)! We’ve collected all the parade candy our little hands could hold at both of our hometown festivals. We made some waves at the lake, caught some rays at the pool, smelled the sunflowers at the park and watched the fireworks over the 4th. We even stood in line for over an hour to see Bucky Badger at the annual Badger Family Day event, which was worth every single second! As you could guess from our Bucky themed birthday party, Will loves Bucky however when it came time to get up close & personal, he got a bit nervous. Of course Ella plopped right in he/she’s lap and the entire time Will kept trying to high-five with him.

Last past weekend we wrapped up our summer fun by going to the Dells for our anual trip. Once again we stayed at Cedar Lodge and the kids loved playing on the beach, swimming in the river and enjoying the campfire. On Sunday we went to Chula Vista to give Ella the opportunity to ride the slides and swim in the pool. The skies were pretty grey the entire time, but at least it was still warm and all in all, it was a great weekend!

What great summer and let’s hope for an even better school year!



Turning Two

During my writer’s block I neglected to document a lot of important things worth remembering. At the top of the list was Will turning 2! As the second child we didn’t make a large production or really even have a party, but I think he enjoyed himself nonetheless. We celebrated by going to the zoo to see the animals, ate Bucky Badger cake and rode on his new tricycle. Up until now when Ella rode her bike, he always had to be pulled behind in the wagon. His first ride was so amazing and he really enjoyed his new found freedom. As Ella rode ahead of him he yelled, “wait for me Ella, I coming too!”









I cannot believe he is already 2 and yet he is so mature for his age, that it seems like he could be older. With our only parenting knowledge coming from our experiences with Ella, he has definitely offered a different perspective. They are a lot alike, but he’s his own kid too. Unlike Ella, he is a rational 2 year old who, for the most part, listens. Last week he didn’t take a nap at daycare so they forewarned me that our night might be a bit rough. When we got home to eat dinner, he wasn’t cooperating. Typically when that happens I threaten bedtime and it always works to get him to sit down. That night though when I made my threat he responded with, “yeah, I tired.” So I took him upstairs, laid him down and he went to sleep an hour early. That would never happen with Ella, even to this day. On the other hand, he’s way more sensitive than she ever will be. If you look at him wrong or even think about telling him no, his lower lip sticks out, he huffs & he puffs and throws himself to the ground crying.

He’s super smart & has an impressive vocabulary. He’s extremely independent, always insisting that, “Will do!” everything on his own. From, “going to the garbage” to putting on his own shoes, he has to do everything by himself. He loves ALL big vehicles & shouts every time we see one -semis, dump trucks, garbage trucks, excavators. He loves motorcycles, Bucky Badger (obviously) and dinosaurs and loves to eat all fruit, ice cream, cupcakes, noodles, pancakes, muffins and pizza.


School S_ _ _S

As August comes to a close I finally realize that we need to mentally prepare ourselves for school. Yes, that’s right – one week from today Ella will start school. Today we met her kindergarten teacher and went through what to expect for our first day. I guess I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since we’ve been dropping her off at daycare since she was 6 weeks old. Nothing changes, right? Wrong!

Ella has been pumped for this new adventure. She is excited to make new friends and really excited that there is no more nap time. However, after we left her new classroom this morning she asked me why the play areas were so small and there weren’t many toys. Even though we go to a curriculum-based daycare full of tons of opportunities, I had to explain that school is all about learning and that there would be far less time to play.

ellaShe wasn’t thrilled with my answer and I think it’s safe to say her level of enthusiasm diminished a bit, which is not great. You see – school is either going to fall into the S U C K S or S A V E S category and I was really banking on the latter. At this point, those three tiny letters hold the only hope we have for sanity.

Once again, we’ve ran into behavioral issues (I’m currently reading: Raising Your Spirited Child) at daycare and that typically means she’s bored or not challenged and is ready for something new. We have tried almost every parenting tactic and employed negotiation skills that even the best salesperson would be envious of and …nothing! Seriously. Not a single thing works on this kid. There is no reward system, positive reinforcement or threat that has an impact.

I’m hoping that her new school setting will SAVE us and provide a lot of things, really. I’d love a classroom full of kids where just one might have a larger personality than her. It would be good for her to not always be the ring leader and at the same time it would be nice for her to befriend someone with as much energy & enthusiasm as her. I hope that learning to read & write, amongst a ton of other new opportunities, will challenge her and keep her attention focused. My last request is a selfish one – I hope public school allows us to meet more parents like us. Not only would it be nice to meet some parents in our age bracket, but we’d also love to know more that share our parenting style. Very simply said, we don’t coddle our kids. If they fall, we expect them to get up. We don’t talk to them like they’re babies and helicopter moms would gasp at my lack of sensitivity. Don’t get me wrong – I am not judging other parents and their styles, but instead simply stating that it would be nice to know we’re not alone.

While I’m unsure if my wishes will come true, one thing I can guarantee – school will change our lives! Drop-off, pick-up, vacations, daily routines, free time, etc. Those things aren’t a big deal and I’m confident that we can adjust, but my bigger concern is that school will inevitably change Ella. Right now, even though she acts like she’s 15, she still thinks I’m super cool and wants to hang out with me. It’s only a matter of time before she thinks I’m lame and will opt out of our girl time to hang with her friends. She’s also been in the same, safe, monitored, controlled environment her whole life. This will be her first exposure to the big, imperfect world in which we live. This is where we enter the very real possibility of bullying, especially considering her cleft.

It’s true that she challenges me daily and while I want her to behave, I never want her to change. Her large, confident personality is a part of what makes her so special & I will do my damnedest to protect her from possible insecurities that can so easily creep in. For now I can only hope that we have instilled enough strength & bravery to allow her to take on this new adventure and if possible, come out an even stronger kid. Wish us luck and happy school year!