Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A lovely fall here in KC...

Wowza - how the heck is it already October 20th?? I really don't know, it seems like October was just starting!! I found myself almost craving a minute to slow-down and reflect on all we have been doing and capturing these sweet times.

We have all fallen into our routine pretty nicely - now that 1/4 of Will's school year is done, things are going very smoothly.  The first couple weeks were a bit bumpy- just some lack of communication from the school and frustration on my part- but Will has always enjoyed it and it seems his teacher, Ms. Straeter really enjoys having Will in class, his eagerness to learn and his attitude.  I love to hear all the things we learns about - it's interesting how so many of the things they do involve coloring in certain letters or pictures -and he has gotten SO good at coloring, he is reading words, doing addition (he loves us to quiz him on this!) and singing certain worship/praise songs and surprising me with how he knows all the words :)  I couldn't be a more proud kindergarten mom.  Only thing he doesnt like is when I can't pick him up at the Adoration line (where parents pick up right after school lets out) typically he goes to Y-Care, the after school care program, which I think he likes, but he would just prefer one of us pick him up right after school like most of his friends get to do ;(  Ugh, talk about mommy guilt.  However, I am very lucky that usually my job is flexible enough that if my schedule allows, I am able to leave work at 2:45 and pick him up, maybe once a week and the delight on his face is so sweet and genuine.  So it's sort of a fun treat..... but i know we are going to need that after school care over the years, so i don't want him to get too used to it.....

Will is just our sweet boy and loves tricking us - he is such a joker and get both Patrick and I to fall for his tricks!  He loves snuggling with Mom at bedtime, and I SOAK it up-- every. single. time.

Ellie has adjusted well to the J - and is starting T-ball on Mondays, she takes Dance on Tuesdays, and all of them go swim on Wednesdays.  Her class is pretty small - so huge adjustment from St. Luke's - and a lot of boys in her class, but she seems to like it and has adapted pretty well.  Still likes to cling to her Mom quite a bit in the mornings, which is hard, but some days are easier than others :)  She loves to help around the house - with laundry, she loves to hang up her clothes- and watch me put on my 'make-ups', she likes to help with dishes, etc.  She has always been really great at picking up her toys also, so I really hope this is something that sticks!  She is also in the fun 'threenager' year, and challenges us many times with her fiercely independent mood, her strong opinions, and tantrums. 

We have had a really beautiful fall in KC.  Here are some of our September highlights:

  • Lake trip!! Our last of the year for Labor Day - had some awesome, perfect lake weather, always hard to be done for the year, but i love all the sweet memories we make there
  • Patrick and Will went camping the first weekend of September, so Ellie and I had a fun girls day.  Love that sweet 1:1 time.... now i need some with Will
  • The following weekend was supposed to be a shopping/girls day with my mom and sister, and I got hit with a HORRIBLE flu.  I could barely move or get out of bed.  I would get SO hot and cold, my bones would ache and had zero energy - lasted a full 4 days before I felt better.  Whew, so glad that is over and that no one else in the house got it.  Ended that weekend with Disney on Ice, which the kids loved and I kind of suckered through.
  • Plaza Art Fair (my 10th annual), Phi Mu friend get together, OP fall festival parade (all a SUPER hot weekend, but still fun!
  • A few Rose trips - all made up a really fun September


  • Went to the NW Bearcat football game with my Dad, Amy, Cody and the kids.  Had a nice lunch at A&G, and was awesome to see a good game and the weather/rain cleared up right in time for the game to start.  We had a little (or a lot) of a scare with my dad that evening and him having a diabetic reaction.  He was not acting like himself at all, acting confused and almost silly - so we took him in to theR and his blood sugar was at 20. Typical is 90-110.... he is so lucky he didn't go into a coma or worse.  We are so thankful he got there in time and was a huge wake up call for all he deals with and educational to say the least for Amy and I.
  • We took advantage of a beautiful Sunday and went out to Johnson Farms pumpkin patch.  That place is HUGE!! Farm animals (pig races), a huge play area for the kids, a hayride to get pumpkins, and much more.  Ellie got stung by a bee, but was a trooper and loves her ice pack she got to keep.
  • This week Patrick and I are getting ready to head to NE to see Garth Brooks (AGAIN) and spend an adult only weekend with my best friend Lindsay and her husband Chad.  Also going to a walk in Omaha for my friends Lauren and Emily for a walk for their brother Colin, who passed a few years ago with leukemia. 
  • Also, survived my 11th Cerner Health Conference!! How nuts!! It's always exciting to get to interact with our clients and to feel the energy. We had 14,000 clients in town, and of course, cap it all off with the Bash at Power and Light with a fun band that plays - always exhausting week but fun as well.
We also found out earlier this month some devastating news from some friends of ours - The Akins.  Dave was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, as a 33 year old with 4 young kids.  Claire and Dave went to St. Ann's and lived in Prairie Village, we would get together with the kids, went to our church festivals together and some playdates.  It is so terrible they have to go through this, to such fantastic, faithful and wonderful people - and easily our lives could have been substituted.  Life 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One door closes, another one opens....

Well, here I am on the eve of my baby boy's first day of Kindergarten.  What a roller coaster of emotions.  What I day/moment I have anticipated for quite a while and here we are.  Ready or not- here we come!  I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts and feelings... I know I will still have them the second time, but it feels slightly uncomfortable for my this time, b/c I also don't know what to expect, we don't know a ton of people at Ascension yet, and it's our first time with this whole 'school-aged' kid thing.

So, first of all - I never really understood why people made it such a big deal- that whole first day of kindergarten thing.  I thought, I mean, I send my kids to 'school' (what we have always called St. Lukes daycare center) and I'm used to dropping them off and being without me through the day.  But this definitely is different. It truly feels like the end of an era I suppose...

The end of the freedom to hang out with the kids all day on a Friday if I want to take off work, or take a vacation - everything is really dictated by the school schedule.

The end of an era at St. Luke's....last Thursday was the kids' last day at school.  I had written a few cards to Will and Ellie's teachers and the Director, Miss Jenny.... right when I walked in with the kids, I saw Miss Jenny, gave her her card and hugged her, and I just lost it.  Like, ugly crying on her shoulder, in front of the kids.  Ellie said - Mommy, why you crying? And I tried to explain they were happy tears... mostly tears of ... change maybe?  We had spent over 5 years sending our kids there, and now I will never walk through those doors or see those people again.... so that was definitely emotional for me.

The end of my boy being my baby, and I fear that soon (or sooner than I want) losing some of that child-like innocence, and realizing the world can be evil, full of hate, and it just breaks my heart to realize that that may come soon.  He is just so soft-hearted - and the sweetest thing was when we went to take school pictures last Thursday, I walked in through church and we went down the stairs, only to see the social area FULL of noise, students, parents of all ages/grades.  Lines of people waiting to get pictures taken, another area to buy spirit wear - it was a bit overwhelming.  Will was great and when we were waiting in line for pictures, he said - you know when I was walking down the stairs, I was a little scared.  I said - you know what, I was too.  I totally get it.  You and me both Will - we can do this.  Also, then when we were leaving, and driving in the car- he said, but Mommy, I didn't get to make a best friend today.  Heart melted.  As my friend Julie mentioned...he really is my son - based on all of the above.

But, with all of those ends, I really, really (maybe one more really, and I REALLY will convince myself to believe) am trying to have peace with the new beginning, the excitement of starting school, making new friends, LEARNING (I mean, I was a kid that seriously really liked school - I hope he does also!) and I know we have done our absolute best to raise him to be brave and kind.  I wanted to copy over a blog post by Glennon Doyle, a blogger and writer I follow, on the night before the first day of school: (she says some parents have used this and changed the names, love this idea - so here I am posting it, so I can remember to find it and hopefully share it one day myself, or perhaps this is just for me to continue to read...

Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.
Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.
Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.
And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.
I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.
I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.
Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.
Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’ team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.
When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.
Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.
We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.
Kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd. 
Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.
Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.
Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.
I love you so much that my heart might explode.
Enjoy and cherish your gifts.
And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.

I love you William Joseph, and I am so proud of you, and so proud to be your Mom.  As Glennon says so accurately above, I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Dear Lord, please watch over Will as he starts this new journey into school.  Please guide him as he walks this new road, and that always remains brave and kind.  That he is the kid that works hard, listens to his teachers, is kind to friends, and always tries his best.  Lord, I ask that you please walk with me tomorrow also, as Patrick and I walk him into school, and mostly on the walk out.  Please remind me of your loving grace and help provide me with a spirit of peace and calm (even if I want or need to cry...a lot or a little).  Thank you for taking care of my precious boy.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sunshine and Summertime

Now that it is officially summer - I thought I would summarize what we have been up to!

Really fun month that was very busy with lots of fun things!  I will do a separate post on Disney trip, but that was from May 15-20, and was more magical than I could have even imagined - I fell in love hard with Disney.

May was also fun with an adult night out to see Garth Brooks in concert with our friends Brad and Kristen, and Erin Groopman.  He puts on SUCH a great show, it's fun when you know the words to every song, everyone is singing and he is so talented.  VERY good show - and we all had a blast!  Then, I was able to go see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in Lincoln with my mom and sister - we were able to meet up with my best friend since 5th grade, Lindsay and her mom, sister and sister in law.  We had lots of fun laughing and giggling before the concert - the concert was pretty good, but hard when I had just seen Garth.  The girl time was by far the highlight!! Loved the 3 hour drive in the car with my sister too!!

Then, we had Mother's Day, which was very special and always nice.  The kids and Patrick spoiled me- and we got to celebrate Mimi too!

After Disney, we were able to go down to the lake for Memorial Day - it's always so nice to get to spend our long weekends at the lake.  Will is ALL about fishing!! That kid could fish all day long!!! He is also getting more and more brave, jumping in the water and swimming off the dock on his own.  He still wants to go very slow on the jetski and boat, but hey - he has come a long way!  Ellie loves to play at the water table and in the pool, she likes fishing with all the older cousins for a little bit, and is a little hesitant to get in the water unless mom or dad are holding her.  It's really fun to see the kids grow and play together at the lake for those weekends.  We are so blessed.

We got to celebrate Grandpa D and Cody's birthday at my Dad's in Atchison.  We got a slip and slide and the kids had a great time playing and splashing!! Grandpa has a perfect backyard and we love our visits to his house, and playing with his tractors.  Patrick had his guy's trip that weekend to Colorado - and they all had a great time.  So fun they do these trips every summer.  We miss him though - and were SO excited to see him when he got home (on my way to Atchison, I may have gotten a speeding ticket.... I had pulled over on the side of the road and the kids were asking what happened.  I said Mommy was going a bit too fast, etc.  So, right when Patrick gets home, Will rats me out and tells Daddy that mommy was in the grass, b/c she was driving too fast.  Patrick put two and two together and I was busted. Come on Will, give me a few minutes to tell Daddy myself!)

Next weekend, I went to Winston-Salem, NC to visit one of my best friends from college, Caitlin Harness.  I flew out with her twin sister Carlie - and we had a blast!! Was so fun to see where she lives, meet her friends, go to her pool, and have lots of fun (and drinks :))  It was a nice, long weekend trip!! So thankful for good friends that feel like home.

The following weekend was my cousin Spencer's wedding in Lincoln.  Spencer and Sidney have been dating for 7 years, so Sidney has been part of the family for awhile.  It was so very fun to see all of my cousins, aunts and uncles - and I love a good wedding and dance party!!  The kids enjoyed the donut wall, dancing (although Will was more inclined to sit at Grandpa Don's feet and watch - but Daniel and Gwynnie were dancing away, and Ellie loved dancing with Daddy)  Patrick was so nice to take the kids home and my sister, Mom and I stayed until the dance was over, and got home around 1:30am!! Late night for us old-timers :)  I love, love my family and when we all get together!!
Father's Day was the next morning and we got Daddy an experience to go deep sea fishing with his brothers and dad when we are in Gulf Shores (in late July)  We also go to spend the afternoon at Mimi and Grandpa's and was a fun day celebrating Patrick, and all the wonderful Dad's.

My last weekend in June was celebrating my friend Julie Lawson's bachelorette party.  We took a bus to 3 wineries north of KC - and had fun celebrating her and getting to hang with my pal, Erica.

Exactly 7 years apart

Ellie - loves doing her gymnastics, calls me out when I wear a 'silly dress' (one with some fun patterns/design), she loves to wear dresses, her new big girl bed, and her swim lessons

Will - graduated from pre-school with Miss Mary at St. Luke's, we are so lucky Will had such an amazing teacher to get him ready for Kindergarten, and we will miss all the great teachers there and Will's buddies.  I may have shed a few tears at his graduation.  He loves to play anything competitve, did t-ball at the J this summer (not the best experience, but oh well) and hasn't met a stranger - he is Mr. Social.  He loves to watch racing cars or boats on the iPad, and has also gotten an obsession with Monster Trucks/monster jam.  He is such a fun kid, with a big heart - shows a lot of empathy - and I love the snuggles he still likes to give his mom at nights and in the morning.  I soak it up.

Whew - we have been busy!!! But it's all so fun, and I love these experiences and memories we are creating.  Life has treated us kind, and I don't take for granted the love we have, our health, our good fortune, and I pray that we are raising our kids to be good humans, to be respectable young kids, to have kind hears, to be hard workers, and most of all - that they love Jesus.  This is my Mother's prayer - we are all doing our best to raise these littles right, and I'm so lucky to have the best partner to do that with.

Now, back to work I go (a good, brief pause in my working day is good and healthy!)

Blessings to you all!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Laughter is the best medicine....

I'm sitting here on a Monday at work, missing the warm weather we got this weekend and playing outside with the kids (I call this Monday withdrawals)  I was reflecting on how much fun we had together this weekend - just laughing at the kids.  I always wish I could take pictures and videos to easily remember these days and sweet memories, but most of the time, they stop doing whatever cute thing they were just doing, right when i get my phone out to record.... so some stories will have to do:

  • Ellie told us this weekend her name was not Ellie, it was Elizabeth.  Elizabeth Ellie to be exact... I love this, obviously Elizabeth is her actual name, but we never call her that!  So i'm not sure where she heard it, but was so funny.
  • Ellie also started singing really loudly in the car last night after dinner... the I love you Ellie, Will, Mommy, and Daddy song.... although this time she just busted out with I love you Sarrree-wahhh, oh yes I dooooo, and then I love you Paaa-trick.  We were laughing so hard that she just started using our first names
  • Friday was St. Patrick's Day... as we were talking about it earlier in the week, Will kept saying that Father's Day was Friday.  I said, no buddy St. Patrick's Day.  I overhead him again in the week, calling it Father's Day... I'm thinking why does he keep getting confused with that, only to realize a few minutes later - duh! Of course he is confused with his dad's name being Patrick - he can't decide if that's a real holiday or if he is just celebrating his dad :)  Funny!
  • Sunday - the kids were playing outside on the swingset by themselves.  Patrick and I could watch/observe them from our living room windows - and we saw Ellie fall down and she was crying and upset.... Will went over to help make her feel better you could tell... he bent down to hug her, then was bending his knees down to talk to her on her level, and then just started busting out some dance moves! It was so funny to see him just start randomly dancing.  
  • Will can be found either playing basketball, as MUCH as possible, but also decided to play soccer at the park.... with his soft baseball that we brought :)  I love his competitive spirit and we can't watch a March Madness game without Will asking us about 10 times who we are cheering for, and about 20-30 times per game who is winning :)  He is SO focused and zoned in during Jayhawk games and is fun to see the love of KU basketball passed down from Altenhofen generation to generation.  (Birthday shout out to Grandpa Joe--- hope you are having a great birthday today!!! Lots of love we are sending to you in Seneca.... and I know you are always a regular reader of my blog :))  

I can't believe we have Will's Kindergarten screening tomorrow... what?? And Ellie will be turning 3 in less than 2 weeks.  NOOOO!!!! My babies are getting so big.  Love their sweet personalities, and the fun we have (even when that 'fun' includes that almost 3 year old throwing major temper tantrums in the morning when she can't wear her pretty dresses to school, or her Minnie Mouse dresses.  Sigh.  It's a battle.... that most times I don't fight, and as long as weather appropriate, no biggie.

Hoping our Jayhawks keep wining, as they are in the Sweet Sixteen and playing in KC.  Love March weather, and it's getting close to April!  We are on a Disney high right now and SOOO excited for our trip May 15th!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 Updates

I should probably do more of an attempt to summarize the last several months - let's start with October 2016 - most notably - we went to San Diego (Patrick had a work conference, so the kids and I joined in!!) It was SOO fun!  I just love San Diego - great weather, nice people, and lots of fun things to do.  Most of all - was the San Diego Zoo!!! I just really loved it - the animals are SO close, it's so clean and it's really close together.  Just a really, really awesome zoo.  We loved going to see the seals in La Jolla, and Coronando Beach area and the famous hotel.  Really great trip!!

Then, of course, was Halloween.  Will was our superhero, Captain America, and Ellie was an 80's workout girl :)  Super fun, and Ellie was the queen of social media posts for her outfit (thank you Pinterest for the idea, and to Ellie for making the picture super cute)

Will's 5th birthday at Pump It Up.  We had lots of fun celebrating with our cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents - and they were really great at assisting in all party needs!! He loved turning 5 and was so cute when he would get this shy smile and blush when he was the center of attention!!

Santa pics, Pinnocoho the elf on the shelf fun, and the magical Christmas season.  I just love this time of year and was so sweet to celebrate with friends and family.  Patrick and I hosted several parties - from my work Christmas party (where we got a white elephant gift of a beta fist, that Will immediately named Mark (no idea where this name came from!!)), and had Patrick's group of friends over, and then had my group of college friends over for New Years.  It was a really really great holiday season.
Ellie got a dollhouse from Santa, and Will got a new racetrack, and an animal bucket, which is what he kept asking Santa for (?!)

Hmmmm.... what is fun about January?! Not too much, except I celebrated my 33rd birthday - and had a really really nice dinner with my sister, Cody and Patrick at Bluestem.  We did wine pairings - and the food, wine and company was all excellent.  Lots of laugh and delicious food.

Will started basketball through the Jewish Community Center (the J) and it's been a lot of fun watching him play.  He had his first game and had a sort of deer in the headlights experience, as he mostly was found on the court twirling his hair, and then flailing about when he got the ball and shooting it underhand and not even close to the basket..... it was hard to watch!! Then, after watching some Jayhawks and some focus on his part - I guess this last Sunday at his game - he was ballin'!! Patrick told me he scored about 20 points!! He was running up and down the court, shooting lights out and was playing defense.  Pretty fun- I'm looking forward to seeing him play this Sunday.

Ellie - started Gymnastics and has really enjoyed going to do 'somersalts' as she calls the class.  It's been fun seeing her in a little leotard and just enjoying having her own 'thing'.

Some words to describe the kids at this stage:
Will: competitive, driven, hair-twirler, loving, sweet, dazed when he is tired, loves praise

Ellie: social butterfly (all her friends at school get so excited when she walks in), good listener, great at picking up toys and following directions, she loves books, loves to play Zingo, independent (goes downstairs and just plays on her own), silly, eye-roller (just started this to get laughs from us) and overall sweet girl.

If I haven't said yet - we are truly blessed by these sweet kids - and Patrick and I are so lucky.  I couldn't ask for a better partner in crime to raise these babies either.  Thank you God for your gift of family, your loving presence in our lives, and to continue to stay as the center of our lives and our family throughout the years.  Amen.