Three Kids and a Dog

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Peyton Learns to Ride a Two Wheeler - By Herself

So this happened the other day...

I was getting all of the kids and their gear out of the car after school and in my peripheral vision I noticed Peyton had jumped on an old bike of Austen's - one without training wheels.  It took my brain a second to comprehend that she was riding around the driveway on it all by herself. What was amazing was that we hadn't even really practiced with her. I mean we had filled that old bike with air in the tires and gave her a few pointers here and there but really taking the time to teach her - we didn't.

I guess she grew tired of waiting and figured it would be quicker to learn how on her own. I guess this means we owe her a new bike!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

This is What I Signed Up For

When I decided to stop working a little over 1.5 years ago, it wasn't because my youngest had turned 1 and needed me at home. It was because of my oldest.  He was starting to get more involved with after school activities, needed more help with a growing pile of homework and I was beginning to resent having to miss his games for work meetings.

Well, this is what I signed up for. I quit my job so I could drive car pool; become more involved in school volunteering my time and lending my knowledge; making sure all homework got done in between games and practices every night; and keeping up with the piles upon piles of laundry that just seemed to multiply while trying to schedule any work or errand needing to get done in a few spare hours of free time that mostly happened at night. 

I see more and more divide and conquer going on in our household because surely the girls don't want to sit through more than one game a day no matter what sport it is, and we need to be home for Sadie too. So we switch off most days/weekends. I usually take the soccer games and a few baseball while Tom sits through most of the never ending travel and little league baseball games (is it too late to switch him to lacrosse?!).

Just this past weekend, Austen and his travel baseball team had the opportunity to play at Miller Park in Milwaukee at the little league stadium. What a great opportunity for him and his teammates.

I had opportunities like these growing up. My parents made sure I had them. So now I'm paying that forward for my kids. Are they lucky? Yes. But I see parents just like me every day running their kids to a baseball game only to rush them to their soccer game right afterwards. Is it too much? For them - probably not. Austen for one thrives on being busy. For me - maybe. But this is what I signed up for. And, I'm grateful that I did. I know I will blink and he'll be graduating from high school. I can always work again, but I can't ever have these years back of being there for my kids in this way.

I know I am exactly where I should be. After all, this is what I signed up for.   

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Austen's Big Presentation

Every year, each grade at our school puts on some big performance about something. In first grade, Austen and his classmates learned about Washington, DC, and built monuments for their big project. In second grade, they did a whole unit on their family's heritage. So now for third grade they are each researching a hero of our very own heartland - the USA.

Austen was given Orville Wright. How great is it that when he was 2 1/2 we went to the Outerbanks on vacation and visited the site where Orville had made his first official flight? So we had pictures of Austen at this age around the museum-like visiting area that they have constructed there. Perfect for his presentation!

We got to work. Austen read books, then I had to read the books to make sure he accumulated the correct facts and information for his timeline. Then we needed to layout how his presentation would look. We traveled to the local craft store to buy his poster board complete with a header. Then it was decided that we would sketch out on paper how his presentation would look. I ordered the pictures from the Outerbanks that we needed while Tom got creative with the timeline and helped Austen build a model of one of Orville's glider planes.

The board looked great...until last night as we were trying to get all the kids into bed, he kept asking me if he should write his name on his poster board. I said I don't know, maybe on the back as I was distracted putting the other two to bed.

Later when I walked into his room, I saw right away that in fact he had not waited for me and with a big blue marker, on the header of his presentation board he had written in big blue letters - By Austen. Right Smack in the middle of our title. I could've killed him. Well, at least it makes his presentation look authentic Tom and I said through clenched teeth. Oh well. It's his project, we reminded ourselves.

And, even though it was Mother's Day today we spent a bit of time going over Austen's presentation with him as well as watching his morning soccer game and having him take a few swings at the batting cages. Maybe we should have relabeled today, Austen's Day?! We did, however, squeeze in a fabulous brunch with my three kiddos, and our new puppy Sadie spent a lot of time with us today too. Welcome to the family Sadie and I'm glad I'm your mom too!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

"Addie Died, Now We Have Sadie"

Week one with Sadie went surprisingly well. Maybe we did a good job of picking out the best puppy or maybe all Bernese Mountain Dogs are just good dogs because I remember Adler being pretty easy too. Probably a little bit of both.

The kids have quickly adjusted to having a dog in the house again. At the beginning of the week, Hailey was alternating between calling Sadie, "Addie," so I once again explained to her that Adler was no longer with us anymore, that she died, but now we have Sadie. Well, who knew that she would understand that statement so completely and all the right emotions that went along with it.  I wasn't really expecting that she would get it. But now she says it to me a couple of times a day. "Addie died" (with a sad face), "but now we have Sadie" (with a happy face).

Hailey clearly delights in having a dog in the house again especially a puppy. She isn't even afraid anymore if it chases her and nips her a bit. Peyton on the other hand is still a little stand offish (part of her "I'm afraid of everything" stage), and Austen is great with Sadie - playing with her, petting her as well as telling her no and ignoring her when she jumps.

Sadie has also had two training sessions which have gone pretty well. Her trainer advised us to keep her in a pen or crate to train her initially which makes my life easier since I don't have to follow around two toddlers now. But the pen has helped the kids become more comfortable with her too since Sadie can't chase them and nip at them anymore. Her sleeping at night has gone pretty well too. She sleeps about six hours or so before waking us up to go out. In fact, sometimes Hailey is the first one to wake up and we're like "Shhh...or you'll wake up Sadie!"

It's nice you know, having our Berners as the bookends to our family. Adler came first before our kids and Sadie nicely fits in as the baby of our family.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Introducing Sadie!

Almost six months to the day we lost Adler, we added our second Bernese Mountain Dog, Sadie, to our family. She's a lucky girl our Sadie but we feel lucky too. Lucky to have had such a great first Berner girl and lucky to be able to do this again and just six months later  (especially with the rising popularity of the breed and breeders fielding 40-50 emails a month from wanna be Berner owners).

So off we went on Saturday morning, our whole family, to pick up our sweet Sadie girl. A blessing sent from Adler for sure. We know she had a hand in sending Sadie to us and Adler must've told her she has big "paws" to fill because so far Sadie has been great. Of course she's had a few accidents in the house but that's to be expected but she's gone outside more than inside and she's even ringing the bell that we put on the door less than 48 hours ago. Smart girl.

She's also a curious and social girl for sure. She loves to be near us at all times. Cuddling. Laying on our feet or pretending she's a cat weaving in and around our legs as we stand there talking. She nips a lot which Peyton and Hailey don't really appreciate, but hopefully that will wind down some as we train her. Right now she likes to sleep under things like the table, the air conditioner units out back and our deck steps. We're always dragging her out of somewhere. She also sleeps with her head in her water or food dish! Hilarious! And, yes, sometimes she flips them hitting herself in the head.

The first night actually went pretty well. She cried for a minute or two then settled into her crate and slept from about 12:30am until about 6:10am.  Easier than a newborn baby - that's for sure!

She has had a lot of visitors in her 36 hours of being home and tomorrow begins her puppy school training. Off to bed now so she gets her rest but first here are some pictures of her first weekend with us. 

Coming home with Sadie!

I will not be this size for very long as I am expected to gain 2-3 lbs per week!

I like sleeping in my dish. It's very comfortable. Kind of like a pillow.

Hey, this isn't Adler. Amazingly Hailey has adjusted to calling the puppy Sadie although she still gets a bit confused at times and reverts back to Addie.

I think I am going to like it here!

I learned how to flip my dish all on my own.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Tribute to Adler

"Take whatever time you need to grieve...Notice the love and gratitude that's behind the pain. Remember all the fond memories that are buried in your heart. Let the joy of those memories become part of your life again, and share that joy with others who need it." --

It's been almost 6 months since we lost Adler. I still think about her and miss her every day. I finally donated her left over dog food just last week but her bed still sits by mine. Her leash still hangs in the garage and her photos now adorn our walls and bookshelves. She is so very missed. Every day.

There is no greater way to honor her than to talk about her. We do it often if not daily, with the kids. We say hi to her whenever we see a Bernese Mountain Dog (we think it's her way of saying hi to us), and it's usually followed by an "I love and miss you Adler!"

When I had notified our breeder about Adler's passing she put it so well - "No one will ever take Adler's place that's for sure. But having another Berner to love is a tribute to her and how wonderful she was." Yes, that's exactly how I felt at that moment and still do. Thus, we began the process of bringing home another Bernese Mountain Dog.

She was born on Feb. 28, 2016, in a litter of 12 puppies which is huge litter for the breed. (Adler was from a litter of six and that was big.) This is the biggest litter our breeder has had in their more than 30 years of raising Bernese Mountain Dogs. So last week we made the trek out to our breeder's place to pick out our new pup. They were all adorable so how do you pick? We didn't have the opportunity to pick Adler but now we had this opportunity. The kids loved seeing all the puppies and I think it made it that much more real to them that we were getting another dog.

Adler was the pink puppy (as they used nail polish on their fur to tell them apart) and this time we chose the purple one. I had asked Adler to give us some type of sign to let us know which one she thought would be a great addition to our family. The "purple" pup was the one that picked us from the moment we walked in and then climbed up on me and ever so gently kissed my chin. Thank you Adler.

So next Saturday, we will once again be parents to three kids and a dog. I ordered her food and bought new toys. When they arrived, Austen and Peyton were very excited. We told Hailey these new things were for our new puppy. "No," she said, "they are for Addie!" She was adamant and mad that we kept insisting they were not for Adler and that Adler does not live here anymore that she lives in the stars and moon. Finally, we gave up. Hopefully she figures it out next week when the puppy comes home but I can see how this can be super confusing for a 2.5 year old!

Anyway, we believe there's no better way to honor our Addie girl. She will always be a part of us and live on through our new Berner girl. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Break 2016

We're officially Spring Breakers now. Us, who used to be the people that would vacation at off season times and therefore enjoy less crowded locales and great rental rates. Gone are those days now that we have two in public school. Now, we take vacations with the rest of the masses...unless you hit up a locale like the Cayman Islands!

Seriously, probably one of the easiest vacations that I've been on with the kids. Yes, they are getting older but an uncrowded international terminal at the airport on Easter morning coupled with a quick direct 4 hour flight and a 20 minute ride to our accommodations ensured that we were on the beach by 2pm, and all were happy. This year, we lugged no car seat, no pack and play, no diapers or makeshift high chair. The only semblance of babyhood we brought was a stroller and that was mostly because we didn't rent a car and we walked to a lot of places.

So what can I say about Grand Cayman. Beautiful. Great weather although we did have a bit of rain one day but it wasn't enough to get the kids out of the ocean or the pool. The water was the kind of blue you don't see unless you travel to the Caribbean. The condo we rented was amazing. It had enough room to keep us all happy that we weren't on top of each other and a beautiful screened in balcony as well as an outdoor one. We ate many a meals (grocery store was right across the street) staring out at the ocean. Why go out when you have the best view right there?

We did leave our condo though to sample the local seafood fare, visit the turtle farm, swim with the stingrays and snorkel. It was Austen's first time snorkeling so he was a bit hesitant but with a little encouragement he dove right in!

Great vacation. Great Island. Great Memories. Can't wait to go back.

Stingray City Sandbar - Hailey's not so sure about this animal!
Hold it like a pizza box, they said.
Kissing the stingray!

Look at that water!

Crystal clear...instead of walking, we went swimming down the beach.

This is the view from our balcony...every day. Amazing.

So much fun!

Dinner out with a low of 79 every night. We never needed coats!

Austen and Tom snorkeling.

How can life get much better than this?