About Me

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I am a Mom of two young lads, a fitness fanatic and wife to a die-hard Packers/Brewers fan. I worked in corporate america for 12 years. Now I am on a new adventure - raising my sons and working part-time in the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor. I hope you stop by and read my updates- family, fitness, or life related!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Braden John: 2 years 11 months

 My train loving guy!
 Vacation smile.
 Fun at the zoo.
He "lights" up when he gets to play with his flashlight.

Braden is very, very close to turning three! On Liam's birthday, he turned 2.11. I like to do these monthly updates so I can keep track of what my boys are up to at all ages and stages. Of course it's a great way to share pictures to relatives and friends who don't get to see them often. Double whammy!

What is Braden up to at 2.11? He is quite the young man. He knows his directions- where people live, where we go to the dentist, where to turn to get to the YMCA, etc. If you take the wrong way, he will let you know. I often get told, "You are going the wrong way" or "We need to go this way".  Braden is starting pre-school next week, just on Wednesdays. I figure starting him with one day will be good since he is eager, social and learns fast. He will have three years of pre-school with his fall birthday, so this year he can do one day, next year two and the following three. Today we went to the orientation. He got to see where he is going to hang his backpack, he met his new friends, got to play trains and eat a snack there. Needless to say, he didn't want to leave. I think he is going to love it! I am so proud of this guy- wearing his backpack that's as big as his body almost. :)

Braden is still as active as ever. He spends a lot of time riding his bike (the kind with training wheels), playing baseball and running the bases. He still loves anything to do with water- swimming, splashing, fishing, etc... He had a blast on our vacation in early August- running around with cousins, swimming in the lake, fishing with grandpa, and the list goes on. We are still working on potty training with him, it has it's up and downs. Maybe around his birthday we will have more progress.

His favorite toys are Thomas the Trains, cars, and his baseball and bat of course. He loves movies and building forts. We go to Skyzone and he jumps until he is blue in the face (so does mom). He is really into imaginary play. He still takes a 3 hour nap- woo-hoo! He isn't the best eater- he eats a good breakfast and lunch but he doesn't eat much for dinner. This has been a real struggle lately, but I am learning to just give him a couple of things I know he will eat and then chalk it up to a lost cause. If someone isn't hungry, you can't force them. Braden is still my laid-back little dude, up for whatever, whenever- but is also starting to show a little attitude and sass at times. There are a lot of "No, I will do it myself'" being yelled at me too. Terrible three's are approaching, so I figured this is inevitable. He still is very sweet- jumping up and down for me when I pick him up at the YMCA daycare with a big grin and saying "Hi Mom". He told me that my hair looked pretty the other day and that my shirt looked nice- it melted my heart. He is always full of energy. He loves playing with other kids and has no problems going to people's houses or trying new things (well, besides new foods). He took his first roller coaster ride and loved it. He is getting taller and taller- growing out of his clothes. His questions are getting harder for me to answer. He never misses a beat, he has a steel trap memory and he is constantly keeping me on my toes. Just like his Dad, he will notice if you move something in the house or if you got a haircut. He's my detail-oriented boy!

This year will be an exciting one for Braden- he starts school, he will meet new friends and he turns three in just a couple of weeks! We are so lucky and proud to have this guy in our lives everyday. It's crazy to think he's only been in our family for three years (meaning I don't remember life without him hardly) and at the same time I can't believe three years has flown so fast and how much he has grown! He makes us smile constantly and we laugh every night at the things he says. Life with Braden is never dull, and always fun.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer is rolling by.....

Big bad B got to ride his first roller coaster this weekend. My in-laws were here this weekend so we headed up to our town's annual festival to hit the rides and walk around for a couple of hours. Braden also took his first Ferris Wheel ride. I sat across from him wondering if he would like it or not, but he said he wanted to try it. His face turned a bit white when he realize how high we were going. He held onto the rails behind his head. He told me he didn't like it as soon as we got to the top. I tried distracting him by pointing out things we could see like a fire engine parked below. The ride happened to stop when we were at the way tip top. Our bucket was rocking back and forth. He nervously asked me why we stopped. I was praying it was to drop off another rider at the bottom. Thank goodness it was, and we started up again. Then when he got off he said it was fun but it made his belly drop. I am not sure he will choose to go on it again! :)  How fun when kids are able to go on their first "big" rides (somewhat). Liam had fun on the merry-go-round sitting on a horse for the first time. Braden seems to like rides, but Liam may be our thrill-seeker. We'll see.

We are trying to fit as much fun into this summer before the cooler weather arrives. Braden starts preschool next week- just one day a week. Where does the time go (days and years fly by)?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's the little things...

New running shoes make me very happy. My feet feel so cushioned, so fast and so comfortable. I feel like I am floating when I hit the pavement. Because of my high arches, I need extra support in my running shoes so I  get the same brand every time. The nice part is I can order online since I know what I need. The bad part is they happen to be pretty spendy (of course). I can usually find older models that are less expensive, but this year I had to splurge and get some fun colors. Afterall, I am partaking in some races and need to feel and look "fast". Ha.

Besides the obvious like family, friends, etc...some other things that make me happy are: chai tea in the morning, getting my haircut, the pitter patter of little feet down the hallway, my boys' smiles, baby feet, McDonald's cones, a good workout, going out of the way to help someone out or make their day, when my US Weekly arrives in the mail (yes, lame I know), taking a jog to explore a new city, a good song on the radio, a clean house, a made bed, Gerber daisies, butterflies and cardinals, boat rides on my Dad's pontoon, date night, a glass of wine out to dinner, a hug from my hubby when he gets home from work, pumpkin spice lattes (speaking of this, fall season is approaching), and the list goes on. What little things make you happy? It's always fun to learn what little things make someone happy. Sometimes life gets heavy and stressful and we need to take a step back and look at the little things that make us happy and get our fill of them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Liam Jude: One Year Celebration

Today was a big day. Our little man, Liam Jude, turned one. The day started off with filling his crib with balloons and singing "Happy Birthday". We then had donuts and blew out a candle. We played outside with Liam's new water table (he was shaking he was so excited). We headed to Como Zoo- Mom, Braden and Liam. We are sorry that Dad had to work and miss out on the fun. We took in rides and animals. Liam rode his first ride, and then he took in a total of four. Braden rode about six total, going on a few big rides solo. We watched the polar bear swim, the monkeys swing, and the sea lions jump and dive. We ended the adventure with a ride on the carousel. We piled in the car, and before we pulled away our birthday boy was out cold. Big brother didn't make it all the way home either, zonked. Both boys woke when the car pulled in the garage. We said the heck with naps and played with the water table again and chased balloons around the house. The rain came down, so we started a movie. Then it was dinner and cake smashing time. Dad was home to join in the festivities. Liam dug right in. He may be the first one year old to eat the most cake. :) Oh what fun turning one is! . To end it, Liam took his first THREE steps alone. What a memorable day.

Liam, as you turn one I want to write you a letter straight from the heart. I want to take a step back and capture this past year and all that it has meant to me.

A year ago today, you joined our family of three and we became a family of four. As soon as you were there, it felt like you had always been there. You seem to balance us out. Yes, we are all family but we are all different in our own ways. You bring energy, spunk, emotion and silliness to our family. You are very expressive. One minute you have the biggest smile I have ever seen on a one-year-old and it melts my heart. The next minute your pouty lip, crocodile tears and loud shriek show me that you have a sensitive side too. I have learned what makes you belly laugh - tickle spots, games that you think are funny. I also know what makes you mad or sad - getting a toy taken away from you, or me leaving the room where you can't see me. I know what makes you happy- your bottle, seeing your stuffed puppy when you are tired. I love that special time with you each night I put you to bed- we sing, rock and snuggle. I give you butterfly kisses and you laugh and put your head closer for more.

I love the excitement you show when you see dogs or animals at the zoo. I love the fuzzy, wispy hair on the top of your head. I love your cute feet and the folds in your thighs. I love watching you push cars around the house or chase balls. I adore the way you look at your big brother- staring at him in your car seat to see what he's doing. I love your babble talk, always chatting away or pointing at things. I can't wait to show you more things and make more fun memories with you and our family of four.

You are the piece of the puzzle that makes our family whole. You are so loved and I hope you always know that. I want you to grow up always feeling loved, appreciated and special. I know the time will go so fast and you will grow up right before our eyes. I am trying to appreciate your every stage of growth and soak it all up since it's already going quickly. I relish my time with you, and the nights where I can put you to sleep and give you butterfly kisses (I am sure there will be a day where you refuse butterfly kisses- ha). I am proud of what you have become already at one, I can't imagine how proud I will be at your high school graduation. :) Just in the last two weeks I have watched you change and grow. Our days are busy and go quickly, but I want to make sure I relish all of your milestones.

You are so fun at one, and I can't wait to see what you surprise us with each day from here on out. Your smile and energy are contagious. You make me feel young. I am going to have to stay young to keep up with you as you grow. You are our baby, our youngest son, our Liam Jude. You are amazing. We are so lucky to have you in our family. We are blessed to have you as ours. Happy Birthday.
Love you more each and every day, your Momma.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Annual letter to Mom - 16 years

Dear Mom (a.k.a Juts, Nana Judy),

Today is the 16th anniversary of your journey to Heaven. As I type that, 16 feels like forever. Other times, I feel like you were just taking me school shopping, calling me your “Pina Colada” or singing “Wake up, wake up” as you entered my room in the morning.

This is also the sixth year that I have written an anniversary letter to you- to keep your spirit alive and to help me feel close to you. Each year I had new news to tell you- meeting Joe, getting engaged, getting married, being pregnant, having our first son, moving and becoming pregnant for the second time…well this year is yet another big one- our second son was born last August just a few weeks after my last letter. I know you were with me the day Liam was born, helping me once again welcome him into the world. His middle name is Jude, after you. He is full of spunk and personality. He is an amazing addition to our family. This is your tenth grandchild! I see traits of you in both my sons- Braden is fun, sensitive, laid-back and excited about everything. Liam is full of spunk, energy and loves to laugh.

In my last letter, I expressed concern for becoming a Mom of two- how would I spread out my love and give both kids my heart equally? Well, once Liam was born it really wasn’t a question. There’s always room in a Mom’s heart for her children and you never feel that you are slighting the other one. You were an amazing role model to me in our 21 years together. There are days where Shawn and I talk about what our lives would be like if you were here. We talk about how unfair it is, but we also try to guess what you would be doing- retired (but still volunteering in the medical world), living somewhere fun and close to us with maybe another place on the lake or somewhere warm for us to visit. You would travel and spend a lot of time with our families. Nana Judy would be the top of everyone’s minds and hearts. Even though my kids haven’t met you in the physical sense they talk about you and know you. I make sure to show them lots of pictures, talk about memories and visit your gravesite with them. Nobody can replace you, but I am thankful for the relationship that Dad (Bapa) has with the grandkids, and for amazing in-laws who are very involved in Braden and Liam’s lives just like you would have been.

Although I still feel your void significantly, I do feel your presence daily. My next door neighbor’s name is Judy, the only other Judy I have known. I think perhaps you chose this house so that I could know another Judy. J Now, for your love of running- I remember you going for your six mile runs and thinking that you were gone a “really long time.” Now if the boys are on a jog in the stroller with me Braden sometimes says, “Mom this takes a really long time (even if it’s a 3-miler).” That makes me laugh. I feel close to you when I am out jogging. I can see why you liked it so much. It is very peaceful in the morning when I go. It is time for me to clear my head, not be interrupted with modern technology and I can lose myself in nature and my breathing. Many people practice yoga to feel centered, but running really helps me feel centered. Thank you for showing me that running is a great healthy hobby. It makes me feel refreshed and focused!

Not only have I learned so much from you as a Mother, but I learned a ton about being a strong and independent woman. I learned that although family is the most important thing, you also need to have goals, hobbies and friends to be an even better Mom. Well, this fall I will do my first Duathlon. I also started teaching a new class at the Y the beginning of this year. I went on a girls’ trip to Chicago to visit a friend. I make plans to see my old friends. I also try to meet new friends who I have similar interests with. I know you would be so proud that although family is my first priority, I also try to make time for outside interests and goals. I am sure once the kids get a little older, I will come up with a new set of goals for myself. It’s fun being able to pick some things to focus on each year and work towards accomplishing them. I know I get that motivation and strength from you! Thank you.

In last year’s letter, I also told you that we moved closer to Stillwater. I also said that living closer to where I grew up, makes you feel closer. It’s strange because the first couple of years after you were taken from us, I didn’t want to go back because it brought back so many hard and painful memories of when you were sick. I am sure this was partially because I was only 21. All of my memories of home were of you. I was in my last year of college, so a very pivotal time in life. After graduation, I felt a bit lost without you there to give me advice, wisdom and most of all a Mother’s love. Well, after a couple of years the bad memories faded to the back of my memory, and moved to the front of my memory were all the happy memories. I really like returning to Stillwater now, showing Joe and the boys all the fun things that I did growing up. I know that you helped me to move on from the more painful memories. Thank you again.

I’d like to share one final thing in my letter this year- a bittersweet memory. There was a surgery you had around Easter time 16 ½ years ago. I was in the recovery room by myself waiting for you to wake up from the anesthesia and rubbing your hand. Before you opened your eyes you said, “I knew that was you”. This moment comes to my mind so often. I think it’s because I now understand how powerful and comforting a child’s touch is to a Mom. (So, that is the sweet part of the memory.) The bitter part is the actual surgery itself. This final surgery was the one that would tell us the true direction your cancer was heading and how much time you had left with us. It was the surgery that forced me to come to terms with your illness because I knew how bad it had gotten. Prior to that, I stayed on the positive route (with you) and didn’t let one bad thought enter my mind. I try to put this memory to the very back of my mind, but I recently had some friends experience a hard time (involving a surgery) and this memory has come flooding back. When we go through hard times we are so mad, and in time we realize maybe why we had to go through them. Well, now I know why this memory comes flooding back so easily- so I can stay sensitive to others going through hard times. I am able to sympathize in a deeper way now. I know you would want me to turn this memory into something good, so thank you for that!

Ok, I think that is my longest letter to date so far. I never know what I am going to say when I first sit down to write this annual letter, but when I start the words just flow. 16 years later, you are never far from my mind and I continue to learn and grow from you. I am blessed.   

Love, Your Pina Colada