Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Big Jackie and Little Jackie

We chose the name Jacqueline for a couple reasons. I have love big names that have nicknames. I just do. Plus...I have never met a Jackie who I didn't like.

Our little Jackie has had trips to Ethan's work ever since she was teeny tiny. Ethan works for NetApp a computer engineering company in Wichita. They have had various family events that we have attended and she was able to go with him to the latest "take your kid to work day." She loves it.

And she also loves Jackie.  Ethan's manager, whom our "little Jackie" has met multiple times in her trips to NetApp. Even though "big Jackie" is no longer his direct manager, they still bump into each other in the hallways. The conversation almost always ends up talking about kids. The most recent chance meeting involved talking about "little Jackie" enjoying school and even still asking her daddy if he still gets to see "big Jackie."

The next thing we knew, "big Jackie" had written a sweet little note to our little Kindergartner about working hard in school and becoming a smart woman so she can make a difference.

Now...I'm not an over-sentimental person. I don't typically get teary-eyed at the different milestones my kids go through (yet). But this made me want to cry.

Here is a woman, working in a managerial type of position, who probably had a plateful of work to attend to, and she took time out of her day to encourage and mentor my little 5 (almost 6 year old). To me...this was powerful.

I have no idea if our little Jackie will want to be a computer engineer like her daddy or a teacher like her mommy, or a lawyer at a powerful firm, or a refrigerator repair-woman, but I know that I want her working for someone like "big Jackie" at a place like NetApp that values family and encourages young girls to become strong women and make a positive difference.

My heart melts and it makes me smile every time I think about it.

Thank you, "big Jackie" for more than you know. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

New Year Brings a Change

Happy New Year!

Before you get all "it's not January" on me, remember, I am a teacher. August is my New Year. More resolutions/goals are made (and actually kept) during this new year than the January one.  So I like to celebrate it in style.

By going to bed by 8:00.

This year, I have someone to share the new year with. Jackie started Kindergarten! She went shopping for her supplies and picked out the biggest backpack that she could find. She was literally counting down the days to the first day of school.

Part of me was a little worried about her transition into full-day Kindergarten. She never went to preschool. This would be a big change.

Other than not enjoying the early wake-up call, she has thoroughly enjoyed everything about school. After the second day of school I asked her what her favorite thing was and she replied "EVERYTHING is my favorite...we do AMAZING things there."

However, there is one person not liking this "Jackie-going-to-school" thing.


This little girl has had Jackie has her playmate for the last three years. More than ever, this summer they spent all their time together. Playing, eating, sleeping, bathing, and arguing. And now, all of a sudden that's gone. It's just Kit Kat and baby Billy left at home, and Bill's just not the same.

This weekend, the girls have been inseparable. At the Block Party Jackie made sure her little sister was well taken care of and they both had their faces painted with princess crowns. I didn't even want to break up the playtime to send them to bed on Friday night.

Katerina has two school years before she'll join her big sister as a little Kinder-Cardinal, and I'm sure she'll be ready to go! Until then she'll have to get used to bossing her little brother around the house!

Thursday, August 3, 2017


A quote I have actually said:

"I sure hope none of my kids sign me up for any of those 5k-with-mom things...I don't run."

Wait for it...

This summer I have been running.

When I really sit down and think about it, one thing seems to come to mind.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

You see, I don't like to run. My exercise of choice is to swim. I LOVE to swim laps. I get going in the cool water and feel like a million bucks when I'm done. My mind gets a chance to just think and escape while I'm pulling myself through the water, I am physically tired (the good kind) when I'm done, and nothing hurts.

But... Swimming takes time. By the time I gather my stuff, get to the Y and into the water, swim, get out, shower, change and head home...it's an hour and a half of my day (and that's a short workout...). PLUS...the YMCA has swim teams that use the lap pool certain times of the day, which limits when I can and can't get into the pool.

I just don't have that kind of time, at this time in my life.

The only days I can consistently get to the pool are days that Ethan is home and I don't have to worry about what to do with the kids. That means weekends.

Back to running... After baby #3, I struggled to lose the last 10 lbs. and this summer, I knew I needed to add in some exercise to my life. I HAD to fit back into my clothes by August.

In the past, I have had success with consistently walking, but for some reason, that wasn't just enough...I wanted to get my heart-rate up and feel out of breath.

So, I started slow. Very slow. On the treadmill one day, I just decided to run for 30 seconds, walk for a minute. I would alternate that pattern for my 20 minute walk that I normally do.  And surprise as I was...I didn't die.

AND...doing this allowed me to watch the clock and not go crazy.  You see, I'm a clock watcher. I look at the clock 100 times a day. I even used to get in trouble during volleyball practices..."Why are you looking at the clock, practice is over when it's over..." Seriously. I just wanted to know what time it was.

Eventually I was able to work my way up to running for a full minute, and then two, and finally one day, I ran for 10 minutes straight when I was outside running around our neighborhood.

To many of you, who run seriously, this may not seem like much, but for someone who hasn't done that in well-over 10 years...I was pumped!

I still have no desire to do those 5k-with-mom-things, but I am definitely closer that I ever thought I would be.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer Plans

I had big plans for this summer.

Plans that included organizing various rooms of our house, tossing out toys (we have WAY too many), and working on organizing things for my classroom.  I brought home three boxes from school.

I haven't even opened them.

I haven't organized one room.

We still have WAY too many toys.

I will admit, I may have been a little ambitious with all the things I wanted to accomplish. Considering we just added baby #3 last November.  I had reason to think I would have a chance to get things done.  You see...for the first 6 months of his life, little Billy was the DREAM baby.  He slept 8-10 hours straight, would go to anyone and not fuss, and love to lay on the floor and watch TV with his sisters.  He was a low-maintenance baby, and I figured I could get some work done.

HA! Little Bill had different plans. Plans that started with his first set of teeth...to be quickly followed by FIVE MORE. Long story short, those pesky bits of enamel cost me my dream baby. He now is waking up 4 times a night, cranky, and not happy when he's away from mama (AKA...KidZone at the YMCA).

This means that I have 3 precious hours of the day to get anything accomplished at home when baby naps. This means, many times I am cleaning up the kitchen or folding a load of laundry. It hasn't left much time to get the "BIG" things done that I wanted to this summer.

And now here we are, in less than two weeks I'll be starting back to work again and I have to sprint to finish at least part of my list.

With a baby who is still getting up 3-5 times a night.

I will need some prayers.  And coffee.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Special Weekend with Daddy!

I just recently returned from our 9th annual Mystery Weekend girls' trip, that my awesome mother plans for us each summer. I have written about my AMAZING mother's AWESOME idea before...here. Basically, she's a rock star and plans a secret trip for us girls each summer. We get to slip away to a mystery destination and relax.

This year was another fantastic trip, combined with my sister's bachelorette party, and officially adding our sister-in-law to the Mystery Weekend festivities. We spent the weekend at my brother's lake house on the Ozarks, shopped until we dropped, got too much sun, and had a margarita or two (or three...). It was perfect.

However, this post is not about my weekend. This post is about the weekend that the rest of my family had. Because, let's face it. Mystery Weekend wouldn't be the weekend that it is without Super-Dad taking on the role of "single parent" for four days and nights.

And Super-Dad he is.

Ethan has rocked out each Mystery Weekend as single-Dad for the last 5 years, but this year was different. There are now three kids, ages 5, 3, and 7 months. While some may run in fear, call up grandma and grandpa, or grumble and moan about having to do everything solo, my husband planned something special to do with the kids each day.  Special time with Daddy he calls it. This is their time.  Here's just a few things that happened.

A trip to the zoo. All three. The girls walked the entire way, and were SOOOOO tired when they got home. But they had a snack with the tigers, watched fish jump out of the water, and found all of the lizards and snakes.

Special Ice Cream with Daddy...this is a Mystery Weekend tradition. Sonic shakes after 8:00 PM. Last year the girls thought it was so fun to share a shake and stay up late. This year, thanks to little brother needing to go to bed, they got the shakes to go. This is the first thing they told me about when I got home. They even got TWO cherries on their shake (thanks to some quick moves by dad and giving up his cherry when they weren't looking.)  Next year they may have to have their own shakes!

A new movie and another special treat...the girls enjoyed their first Root Beer Floats and watched Toy Story 2 on Saturday! Let me just clarify...so you can see the true awesomeness here....Ethan took all three kids to three different stores (Academy Sports for goggles which were needed for swim lessons, Best Buy for the sale of the movie, and Dillon's for the ingredients for the Root Beer Floats). Just the thought of that exhausts me.

The reason my weekend away was perfect wasn't just because of the peaceful lake and more than one alcoholic drink a night...it was because of how things went at home. I just love that Ethan has plans for making this weekend special for him and the kids. They look forward to the weekend that "mommy goes on vacation" and get to spend some quality fun-time with just daddy!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

And Just Like That.

This girl is 5.

I have a confession.  So far in my "motherhood journey" I have often felt that I am missing that "emotional" gene.  I didn't cry when she grew out of newborn diapers, when I stopped nursing her, or when she first started walking.  The milestones so far haven't made me yearn for a time when she was smaller.

And then two days ago...after only a month of being five.  She finally reached a milestone I'm ready to celebrate.  One that I have been waiting for her to reach.

It was Friday evening and the girls were outside playing, daddy was off on a bike ride, and I was just getting ready to pop the leftovers into the microwave to warm up for dinner.  Jackie comes storming into the house.

"MOM! Can I go on a bike ride with E?  PLEASE he rode his bike here and wants to know if I can go with him. PLEASE!"

This is it.  I have been waiting for her to want to go out on her own and play with the neighbor kids. I have been so hoping that her childhood would include bike rides, tag games, and making dirt castles in the road.  Up until this point, she hasn't really had that yet.

And just like that we're here.  I had to drag her and her sister away from the neighbor's driveway an hour after I stuck the leftovers in the microwave, and they still wanted to go back outside after dinner.

We are just getting to the stuff I've been waiting for.  The intellectual and social growth.  I just can't wait to see what she learns, where her interests grow, and the questions she asks.  She is SO EXCITED for school.  She has been a rock star big sister, playing with her brother (sometimes too much...) and learning to help more around the house.

I may be emotional on her first day of school, but the emotion I'll be filled with is excitement.  I am so excited for her to enter this next stage of life, I don't have time to morn the passing of the last stage.  I will always look back fondly on her baby pictures and remember how cute she was when she first smiled, but the joy of watching her move forward will always be the emotion I celebrate.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Thumb.

For about four-and-a-half years we have had a thumb-sucker in our lives.  Little Jackie found that thumb by the time she was three months old and never let go.  And for almost as long we have heard people tell us how long and hard it will be to break her of that habit.

We planned for the worst.  Knowing (as a past long-time thumb-sucker myself) that this could be a long and difficult battle, we pretty much just waited until we thought she might be ready.

That doesn't mean we didn't try some things along the way.  We started with "you can only suck your thumb in your bedroom."  Smart little girl would go and sit at the very edge of the doorway into her room and suck her thumb.  She was two.

Then we made a rule that there would be no thumb sucking at dinner.  She understood that one and we didn't have to reminder her too much.

When we started taking her to the dentist I asked him (in front of Jackie, hoping for some help) if she should quit doing that.  He didn't help.  He said told us that it doesn't do any good to try to stop the thumb sucking if the kid isn't ready to try to stop.  "You'll be fighting a losing battle."  Great.

And then, shortly before Christmas this year we stumbled onto something that might work.  Jackie has been fascinated with taking pictures "just like daddy."  She was asking any chance she could get to use our phones to take photos.  This gave Ethan an idea.  He went into the bedroom and dug out one of our old cameras that still worked.  He put it on the counter and made a deal.

"If you go the rest of the day today without sucking your thumb, you can play with this camera all day tomorrow."

It worked.

And it continued to work from day to day with only one "relapse" when she was sick for a couple days.

And that's it.  That simple.  I expected to have to have a conversation with her about going off to Kindergarten sucking her thumb would mean kids might tease her.  Instead, we will be celebrating her 5th birthday this weekend and almost 4 months "thumb sober."

And don't think I'm just glancing over that "5th birthday" part.  That's a post all it's own. Coming soon.  Very soon.