Friday, June 24, 2016

Bella's first blog on her own


Mom's note: These are Bella's words, she wrote the whole thing! She also picked which pictures were included. She wanted the pregnant mama of the baby girl to see her hand and not be afraid. *melt my heart, I'm so glad she's mine!*

Monday, June 20, 2016

Take a step back

As I keep reading Facebook and struggle with whether to keep reading or take a step back. I took a step back. I hugged my children tighter, I snuggled them on an evening when we literally had no time and they should have been in bed an hour before. I giggled with them until my face hurt. I kissed their faces until my cheeks hurt. I held them tightly in my arms.

I thought about the parents of little Lane, the boy that got drug into the water by an alligator at Disney. I pondered the what-if's that I know they were pondering. What if we would have went to bed instead of went to watch the movie on the beach? What if we had chosen not to wade in the water? What if the signs had said there were alligators in the water? What if... I thought about my children and how I would want to end my own life if I lost one of them. I'm sure the pain would be too severe to go on.

 I thought about his sister, just a few years older. I thought about my baby (33 year old) brother and how my heart would be shattered if I lost him. I thought about the way he makes me laugh, his personality, the way he throws my kids into the air, the way he's so thoughtful, the way that he comforts me when I need it.

My cry to you is to give these parents a break. They did the very best they could. THEY are playing the what-if's a thousand times over. Don't judge them. Do you believe in God? Don't you think HE will judge them when the time comes? Put yourself in their shoes, don't you think they are judging their every moment and action? Does it help for all of us, complete strangers, to judge them too? Don't you think they are going through enough? Please, I beg of you, stop judging and start loving.

I'm a mother of a lightening fast 3 year old. I cut his thumb on my razor last night. It was minor. There was blood. He screamed, tears rolled down his cheeks. "No touch it!" "I dot it!" He screamed at me and Ryan. My eyes filled with with tears as he cried. What if I hadn't shaved my legs that morning? What if I put my razor up high like I usually do? What if I hadn't turned my back for a split second? A bandaid, some cuddling, some ABCD's (as he calls them) and some bushel and a peck cured his tiny thumb. I apologized to him time and time again. "It's otay mama, you no do that adin" My heart felt like it needed a bandaid. He didn't die. It was minor.... but what if?

Please, please, please. Stop judging, start loving. People are doing the very best they can.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Keepin' it real

At a gathering of friend's the other day, I was told "thanks for keeping it real". I said "what do you mean?" I had no idea what this chic was talking about. Turns out, she was talking about my Facebook updates. She said that I made her feel real and that life could be a struggle instead of roses and sunshine daily. We both got a good laugh when talking about our kids and the things they say or do. I joked that our youngest may have a page in his baby book that says "Stuff I broke"!

Honestly, I never have had much of a filter... that can be bad... or good. In this case, it was good for her. I see lots of people's profiles painted with happiness and love. Often times I wonder how on God's green earth everything comes up daisies for them when there are days I'm wondering if I should add vodka to the lemonade I made out of the lemons I was handed. While I still enjoy their posts and updates, I wonder why we all don't just keep it real. I like hearing about real life stuff, reading about people's struggles and triumphs. I honestly believe that many of my happiest and saddest moments are what truly define me.

Why do we feel that we must paint the happiest of pictures? When I read about their super happy life I wonder if they are trying to put on a show or if that really is their life. (Can I just say, if it's the second, I may have the urge to punch them.) I also wonder why people feel that they need to put on a show. What's the point? Can't we just embrace being who and what we are? I don't drive a corvette or live in a fancy house. I drive a minivan (yay mom of 3) and live in an older ranch. Our house is home because we've made it home, we've filled it with love and laughter. We've also at times filled it with heartache and tears. I am me and we are us. There's no reason for me to paint you a picture of what I think we should be. There is every reason for me to tell and show you that we embrace our life and who we are as individuals.

 In case you are wondering, I'm currently telling my 3 year old to go to sleep as I have been for the last 30 minutes. I'm wondering why he can't just close his tired little eyes. In case you are wondering about the stuff he's broke, it's a lot! A flooded bathroom, a broken hammer, broken trucks, ripped books, ripped art, peeing on the floor (just last night!), peeing ON his brother, a blowup pool, a blowup toy... the list goes on! Our life is crazy but it's ours. Stop painting a picture, embrace who you are! There is only one you and lots of people love and adore you I'm sure.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Disabled? Not my girl!

It's summer break. With break comes exploring and soaking in life every second we can. Weather has been HOT. The kids have been begging to get in the water and "go to the beach". Last year, we explored tons of different areas throughout Milwaukee and nearby cities so we became more familar with with our community has to offer. Let me tell you, there's a ton of stuff to do in summer! Stay tuned for our adventures and we'll post all of our favorites throughout the summer.

Saturday afternoon we opted to explore Fox Brook Beach once again. It was insanely busy! Tons of families had the same idea. We paid for our year pass at the booth and off we went. I've gotten smart and sunscreened the kids at home and put them in their suits, that way once we get there, they are free to go!

We found a spot near the water on the beach and sat up. Towels layed out, sand toys dumped in the sand, snacks in our bag, the sun on our face, a perfect day to relax and explore. We all got in the water and were playing around. Bella made an instant friend, a cute 9 year old Hispanic girl. We'll call her Lily. She was as chatty as Bella and welcomed playing with another girl.Grayson took up a spot in the sand, digging and building. Luca flopped in the water like a fish.

After playing for a few minutes, Lily came up and said to me with Bella standing near by "I learned all about disabilities in school."

"Oh really, that's great that your school teaches about that! Are you having fun here?" I replied.

"Yeah I like it here. I'm here with my cousins. Did you know that you should always treat people nicely because just because people are different doesn't mean they can't play or do things. It just means they are different. Disabilities are really no big deal. We are ALL different and do things different"

"You are so right! Your school sure told you some good stuff about that!" Bella watching and soaking in each and every word. I was honestly a little surprised she didn't say anything, my little outgoing girl just had me take the reins on this one.

"Yeah so I noticed her hand and just because she has a disability doesn't mean anything at all."

"Yep she was born different. She was born with her hand like that and she does all sorts of things kids her age do" and off Lily went to play with Bella.

They played and giggled. They acted just like little girls, carefree in the water, making friends and welcoming others into their group. Luca continued to drink lake water- ew! Grayson was perfectly content sitting in the sand, digging, building, creating, discovering. Hours later we said goodbye and went on our way. McDonalds, ice cream cones, baths, reading, snuggles and bed.

As we were brushing teeth and Bella was looking at herself in the mirror, she stopped. "Mom I'm not disabled you know."

"I know Boo" I said back, wanting to let her take over on this one.

"Mom I'm perfect just the way I am. I'm not disabled at all. I can do ANYTHING I want, I just have to try. That's just like all kids. Kids have to try. I'm not disabled"

"Boo Bear, you are so right! You are not disabled. You are perfect just the way you are. You ARE able to do anything, you just have to try. Just like everyone who wants to do something that's challenging." My heart smiled. I know my girl had been thinking about this. I had wondered what she would say, IF she would say anything. Some things are better left for her to explore. This was one of them in my eyes.

"Mom, I'm totally NOT disabled. I can just do ANYTHING I want. I'm just born different"

"You are so right, love. You CAN do anything" and just like that, I kissed her head and the conversation was over. That's all she wanted to say about it. Just some clarification in case this mama was wondering. She was educating me on who SHE is and her abilities.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Creepy creeperson

A few weeks ago we were camping in Dubuque, Iowa. We met my mom and stepdad for the Memorial Day weekend. Talk about a great time! Tutu and Papa hanging out, buying ice cream from the ice cream truck, hiking, running wild, digging in the mud, laughing and giggling until far too late in the night. It was right on the river and the campground was full to the brim.

Tons of people surrounded us. People in tents, RV's, people riding bikes, walking dogs, exploring, having camp fires, talking, laughing, people playing games, letting loose and enjoying the scenery, blood sucking mosquitos, the cool river air on your face, the wind in our hair. We hiked, we walked, we played, we explored. We all went to the weekend Farmers market. The kids, Ryan and I went on a hike and did some exploring. Mom and Mark went gambling. Memories were made and will kept close to our hearts.

Our last afternoon, we went to a park to explore. It was set high on a hill overlooking the river. There were kids everywhere, cookouts filled the air, adults letting loose while kids climbed on the play ground. My mom and Mark watched the kids while Ryan and I took off on a walk. We came back to find Luca running with a stick (per usual for that kid no matter how many times you tell him not to), Grayson running wild around the play ground and Bella making friends with anyone she came in contact with. All normal kid stuff.

As Ryan and I were coming back, we stayed close to the kids and watched as they all did their own thing. Bella came to meet a little boy who was climbing on the outside of a tunnel slide. The boy looked at me and said "I don't mean this in a mean way but she's a creepy kid. I watch tons of horror movies and she's really creepy. I don't mean to sound rude but for real."

I think my face turned 50 shades of red and my stink eye was in full force. It took everything I had not to knock that kid out. I mean really, where on God's green earth were his parents? Here he was talking to me, a complete and total stranger, looking a real hot mess and no one came to see what he was up too.

Bella replied "That's not real nice you know, that doesn't make people feel good".

"I mean it's true you are a creepy kid"

She looked at me, her right hand holding and covering her left hand. I smiled at her and looked that rotten kid straight in the face. "Well that's not nice at all, calling someone creepy isn't nice even if you don't mean to sound rude. It is rude and watching horror movies as a kid is not cool at all, that's really creepy!"

He looked at me and said "well it's true"

I looked straight at my daughter and ignored that kid. "Bella let's go. That kid is not nice, he's being rude and calling names and he's not the kind of kid you want to play with at all. You don't want to play with kids like him. He's not a nice boy. Let's go grab some pizza"

Off we went... Not my proudest mom moment but I did the best I could given the situation. Was he saying it because of her hand? No clue. Do I care? Not really. I did the best I could given the situation, that's all we really can do as parents. We do the best we can with what we have. In all honesty, I should've done better. I bit my tongue as much as I could. I wanted to find his parents but I didn't. It wasn't worth my time.

Weeks later, she mentioned it again. I reminded her that we don't want to talk to kids like that. I also reminded her that kids that call names are not the kinds of kids we want to be around. We want to be around people that give us positive energy. We want to be around kids that don't treat other people poorly and make people feel bad. Those people that make us feel bad, those people aren't worth our time. I hope in that moment, I did the best I could in her eyes. That's what really matters!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Be still my heart

Friday was Bella's last day of first grade. When did my first born get so big? When did her eyes get so green? How did her legs grow SOOOOO long? When did she become so aware of the environment around her? How on earth can I have a child going into second grade? When did my baby become so aware of other people's thoughts and feelings?
Silly girl!
The boys and I took her to school, gave her teacher a gift and then walked down the hall to see the Kindergarten rooms. G-man will be starting next year- insert sad mommy face here- We left then came back for lunch and recess. 

I watched at recess how Bella interacted with her friends. Most of all, I watched how she looked out for a sweet girl in her class. S has autism. Bella has said multiple times how you have to talk a certain way so that she'll understand. She even packed up some Dora stuff in her backpack for S because she LOVES Dora. Bella helped S on some of the playground equipment and gave her very simple one word instructions to follow. S followed along. When recess was over, Bella ran over to S and made sure she came in. Bella told me "Well she doesn't know what they are saying when they yell in that thing and I don't want her to be left out here"... My heart melted. 

Bella has said many times that she wants to grow up and be "Ms. C". Ms. C is S's aide in the class. She's the one that's with her most days all day. Bella really admires that Ms. C takes her time and listens to S's needs and helps the other kids if they need it too. Bella has voiced time and time again how she wants her job. Ms. C tells Bella she's saving it for her. She talks about it constantly at home. I love that her heart is so kind and gentle. She genuinely cares about S and how people treat her. 

Watching Bella takes me back to the days of elementary school. Students like S were in a special room. All of the kids that were "different" were in that room. Some had feeding tubes, wheelchairs, autism, diapers... a variety of needs that they didn't think could be met in the classroom. I was constantly volunteering to spend recess in there or help in that room. I was drawn to those kids and Bella is too. Her heart is one of kindness and sincerity. I am beyond honored that she wants to be Ms. C. I wonder if she'll someday be a nurse or some sort of aide in a room like this... or if they will continue to "mainstream" these kiddos into the classroom. 

I honestly love that they are mainstreamed and have their own aides. It teaches our children to be kind, to be accepting and to be considerate of the needs of others. It shows them that there are people there giving all of them to help these kids, like Ms. C. This allows teachers, like Bella's, to continue to teach the class while the aide can meet the needs of the child who needs him/her. I love what Bella has learned this year from watching Ms. C and S. Most of all, I love that she's my daughter and she has a heart of gold!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"Mom, you need privacy"

I hung my work badge from my rearview mirror. I used to do this years ago then stopped... then this semester, I'm at three different locations. I work for one place but at two different hospitals and one campus. This means, I have three different badges. Yay me! Most days, I'm doing well to pack a lunch so I needed a no-brainer place to keep my badge.

Bella got into my van yesterday and said "Mom, you really need privacy. People can see that there. It has your picture and your last name. Someone could google you and find you. You shouldn't keep that there, for real."

Is she six or sixteen? I mean "for real" who has time to "google" me? Why on earth would someone care enough to google me. Hell, I don't even google me! (OK I lied, I just did for fun and half of the pictures on there aren't even me... go figure) Anyhow, this kid may be on to something. I mean really, what if?

So where's the best place to hang my badge so I don't lose it, forget it? Clearly, I'm not organized enough!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

How I got my $hit together...kind of

I'd be lying if I said I had it all together. With two parents working outside the home, 3 little kids, a dog, a house to maintain, $hit hits the fan daily. Laundry... never ending. Messes...constant. Laughter.... mostly. Tears... yeah those too. Losing my mind trying to keep it all together... always.

I recently went on a girl's trip and my best friend tried to convince me to go mobile with my planner. As if! I'm a paper planner girl. You'd think after 15 years of friendship that she'd know that :) Really, she was trying to make my life easier, a tiny bit less stressful, a way to get it together for once and for all... kind of. At least a way for my husband and I to know where I was working that day (pretty important in case of emergency), what appointments we had as a family, who's birthday was coming up, the normal day to day stuff.  I've mentioned that I teach nursing, which means I'm at three different locations weekly and sometimes four. We were so NOT on the same page. Every morning "Where are you working today? What time will you be home? What time do you go in?" This way he has full access to anything I put on my calendar. *Cue the chorus of the Gods!* Maybe we had been friends for so long for a reason after all. She KNEW I needed to get something in order.

Since coming home, I worked to find a system that worked for us. So far, we're using google calendar at the recommendation of several friends. He can access it on his laptop, I can access on my laptop or at work, he has access on his Samsung and me on my iPhone. It's working pretty well. I haven't looked at my paper planner in weeks! *can we shed a tear for the pretty paper planner?* I even printed a copy for daycare so she knew where I was and what time we'd drop off. To say it's working well seems like an understatement. I haven't had to answer daily questions about my whereabouts and  we are on the same page. It's a pretty cool thing.

My suggestion to parents, try it! As two working parents, being on the same page is ultra important. This helped smooth out one wrinkle in our life. Now, back to grading tests for me! If you want to smooth out the laundry wrinkle let me know! :)

CAMP NO LIMITS all booked!

This picture was taken just last weekend while we were camping. Bella and I were walking around the camp ground just the girls. Dirty from...