Thursday, May 30, 2013

Throwback Thursday: One Year Ago This Week

I hate that we had to be at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley one year ago this week, but I'm so thankful they are here. Thankful that I was able to stay with Sammy the whole time. Thankful that the hospital is close enough that Karl could be home with AJ when he was needed there. Thankful that our stay was short, and even more thankful that we haven't been back since those first few days of Sammy's life. That was our third visit, the first two in AJ's first year. While two years had past, many of the faces we saw were familiar ones, doctors and nurses who had helped us deal with AJ's seizures and ITP were now talking us through what it would take to get Sammy home again. It sucks to have a baby who is sick, but it's so reassuring to be greeted over and over with friendly compassionate faces, to know that our whole family was in good hands.

Since AJ's first Christmas, we've used the holidays and birthdays as a chance to give back to Children's. We'll do it again this year, collecting board books and teethers at the boys' birthday party, and then making a trip up to the pediatric unit to deliver the loot. Our boys don't need more clothes and toys. We are very blessed and our house isn't big enough to hold much more. So, we'll use this birthday as another chance to talk about how we can "make the sick friends happy." Sammy won't understand for a few more years, but AJ is getting there. I can't wait to see where this tradition takes our little family of four in the coming years.

(And I silently pray that the only time we're ever back at the hospital is for those happy gift drop offs!)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ventage Tuesday: Long Weekend Hangover Remedies

This weekend. Wow. Epic. But really, how can a weekend with its own hashtag NOT be epic? We ate. We drank. We laughed. We ate some more. We spent time getting "glamorous" together. We answered a 3.5 year olds repeated question, "What are you guys doing out here?" Most of all we just enjoyed the fact that we were all together.

Now? The party is over. The hashtag is being retired. And while Sunday morning my girls and I sipped cocktails out of mason jars at a table decorated with burlap and fresh flowers:

 this morning my boys took 5 minutes to turn my living room into this:

From epic fun to epic mess. And a long weekend hangover of epic proportions. So, what does one do to recover from the post long weekend blues? Here are some things I plan to try this week:

1. Coffee: This morning I traded my mason jar for the big smiley face mug. It's part of my fake it until you make it mantra. I am feeling neither energetic nor smiley. Coffee will help.

2. Water: While most of my post weekend blues are mental, my body is definitely feeling the effects of this weekend of indulgences. I'm drinking lots of water today and working on a meal plan heavy on the fresh fruits and veggies and a little light on the cheese and alcoholic beverages.

3. Dance Party: We danced it up in the car this morning. A little Thrift Shop. A little Pitbull. A little Neon Trees. My boys are excellent dancers and head bobbers. It's hard to be in a bad mood when there is an almost 4 year old in the back shouting the only lyrics he remembers "It started with a WHISPER!!!"

4. Emails: Katrina wasn't even at the airport before the Ventage girls emails had resumed. It is what we do, after all. We can nurse our long weekend hangovers together, virtually.

5. Planning the next adventure: I'm a "What's next?" kind of girl. It's a character trait that I struggle with sometimes because I need a reminder to enjoy the moment I'm in. But when I'm bumming after a weekend of fun, it's handy to have something to look forward to. We're less than a month away from the Thing One and Thing Two party for my little dudes. So, my attention turns from brunch recipes and bloody mary bar pins to Cat in the Hat quotes and kid friendly snacks.

So there you have it. My long weekend recovery plan. Be sure to check in with the other ventage girls for their tips, though it might take a while for us all to get back into the swing of things.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

And Then I Turned 34

I'm not sure I can even explain HOW amazing my birthday weekend has been. I feel like this has been one of those weekends I will look back on during the days when running away to join the circus with Angie sounds like my only viable option. I will think about this weekend when I've seen 3am on the clock for the millionth straight day and I'm fairly certain I can and will die of sleep deprivation. I will think about this weekend when I'm wondering if there is anyone in this world listens to me because my kids sure as heck don't. I will think of this weekend and fill myself up with the memories of "getting glamorous" at Angies, or discovering Gin and Ginger ale and fried brussel sprouts. I will remember instagramming an obscene amount of pictures, showing off my ability to rap with the Fresh Prince of Belair, and almost losing my eyebrows in an unexpected bar fireplace lighting incident. I'll get through the not so fun days by remembering how awesome it was to hang out with friends old and new and laugh...a lot.

The past few weeks I've been compiling a list of things I'd like to do in this 34th year of mine. There's something big to me about turning 35 next year. Mid 30s. I don't feel old. I don't think a number can define you. But I do remember not too long ago feeling like 35 sounded like an age where one has their crap together. 35 is grown up. I still feel so very far from grown up. Maybe that's why getting into the habit of making my bed is on this list. 35 year olds make their bed, don't they? I'll need a year to practice that.

So here's my list, in no particular order. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to document at least a few of these things as I cross them off the list. And I hope when I'm looking back on my 35th birthday this time next year I'll feel like I really enjoyed this crazy ride.

  1. Drink Bloody Marys with my ventage girls for my birthday
  2. completely potty train AJ 
  3. complete a 1/2 marathon
  4. Go to the Neenah Pool
  5. have a fun kiddo day with my two, Emily's 2.5, and Angie's 3.
  6. Go on a Trader Joes/PF Changs/Make up shopping adventure with Angie
  7. Visit Barb in Madison
  8. Visit Emily in Chicago
  9. Epcot Food and Wine Festival with Karl
  10. Go to the farmer's market
  11. get a pedicure (or 10!)
  12. go to the drive in 
  13. get in the habit of making the bed
  14. 20 dates with Karl
  15. See Wicked! again 
  16. Send 12 cards to friends and family "just because"
  17. Try 34 new recipes
  18. Play mini golf
  19. See a football game at Lambeau Field
  20. Spend a night in a hotel by myself and SLEEP
  21. try a new class at the Y
  22. have a weight that starts with a 1
  23. find a new cocktail 
  24. bake bread from scratch
  25. Plan a girls weekend
  26. find a way to volunteer for Honor Flight
  27. take a brothers photo every month
  28. frame and hang the art for AJ and Sam's room
  29. start converting family slides to digital media
  30. introduce my boys to their Great Grandma Ellie
  31. blog more frequently
  32. take pictures of some of my favorite people
  33. go to a concert in the park
  34. Have fun on Project Life (even if I'm a year behind by this time next year)
  35. Master eye liner! 
Stand by for many many more pictures from this weekend. It was epic. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

And then you were one

Dear Sammy,

I knew who you were long before May 23, 2012. I knew from the moment I saw that first positive pregnancy test that you were a little baby boy growing inside me, and I even knew your name would be Samuel Frederick (though it took me a good 9 months to convince your daddy that I was right.)

Being pregnant with you wasn't the easiest thing. You made me sick a lot, and because of the hard times we had before you came to us, I worried a lot. A LOT. There was diabetes and blood pressure and bed rest. And worrying. Lots and lots of worrying.

But we made it. You grew big and strong and I managed not to lose my mind. Those nine months were good practice for this first year. You growing big and strong and me working daily not to lose my mind. You are such a happy guy, capable of smiles at 4 in the morning on very little sleep. You are teaching me daily just how much I can do on minimal rest.

I love watching you with your brother. You love him so much, and the feeling is mutual. He brought out your first real smile and he makes you giggle like nobody else. I watch you two play together and can imagine what the next 15 years will be like with you two under our roof. We have so many adventures ahead.

I love you littler dude.
Here's to many many more birthdays

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: 8 days

How is it possible we will celebrate your birthday in a week?

Ventage Tuesday: Ask Google Anything

This post was my idea. Actually, I think it was Angie's idea initially, but when I took a look at my own personal search history I KNEW it would be something fun for each of us to share. I turn to Google for *everything*. It's almost embarrassing. But Google never calls me stupid. Google is always patient, and mostly right. Except if you Google anything medical. DO NOT TRUST DR GOOGLE. He will tell you you have Cancer. Or worse, that your KID has Cancer. Even if you have a hang nail. Just don't do it.

Here's a little Who/What/When/Where/Why look at my recent Googling.

1. WHO: Who is Billy Chambers? (Scandal, anyone?) Who rents bounce houses? (my old bounce house source is out of business!) Who sells sunscreen for sensitive skin? Who teaches gymnastics in Appleton?
2. WHAT: What is whatever craft weekend? (answer: something I want to go to!) What is Whole 30? What time is it in Scotland? (having international friends is hard on my brain)What keeps wasps away? What is the Powerball Jackpot? ( a girl can dream!)
3. WHEN: When is teacher appreciation week? (Snuck up on me this year) When is Epcot Food and Wine Festival? (Anniversary trip for Karl and I, mayhaps?) When does Despicable Me 2 come out? (AJ's first non dollar theatre movie trip this summer?)
4. WHERE: Where did John King start in TV? Where to have brunch in Appleton (when I started panicking about my birthday plans) Where to buy modest swimsuits
5. WHY: Why is coconut oil good for you? Why won't 11 month old sleep? (Yes, I really went there!) Why is soy in everything? (A little frustration after Sam's Soy protein intolerance diagnosis) Why is my Keurig so slow? (also: how to clean Keurig)

Be sure to check in with the other girls (links to the right). Who knows, maybe you'll find we're all bugging Google with the same questions!

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 11, 2008

I don't have a picture of myself on May 11th, 2008. I can't tell you what I did. But I can tell you I was sad. Heartbreakingly, hopelessly sad. The kind of sad that comes with cycles of unsuccessful infertility treatments. Many days were hard that year, but May 11th, Mother's Day, was definitely one of the hardest. I felt alone and frustrated and confused. I had a lot of questions about what the future would hold. I just wanted to be a Mom.

One year later I was 34 weeks pregnant on Mother's Day. A fertility treatment success story, just one month from meeting our first little dude. It didn't feel real then. I was blessed, but not ready to celebrate. I was thinking of, and praying for, the women who were still waiting for their babies to find them.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010 was my first real Mother's Day. And on that day we began a tradition of taking pictures after dinner.

with A.J. 2 days shy of 11 months old
May 2010

with A.J. almost 2 years old
May 2011
with AJ almost 3, and on bedrest to keep Sammy baking at 35 weeks
May 2012
And yesterday, just as sleep deprived as that first Mother's Day photo but this time doubly blessed
with AJ, almost 4, and Sammy, almost 1

Becoming a mother wasn't easy for me, and being a mother isn't easy either. 
But it's worth it.