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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Goodbye 2014

It is Christmas Eve.  
One more week left of this year.
And I can honestly say I am ready for 2015.  

What has 2014 brought us:
Not one niece, but two adorable nieces to spoil.
I am godmother to one of those adorable nieces. 

I got to go to Nashville, TN with some of the best friends a girl could ask for.
I went to Nauvoo for Halloween.
I went to Chicago 15 times this year.  
3 long weekends with the family.  Countless trips alone.  A few with both kids.  
Twice without Xander and once without Serena.  
We saw the Mag Mile parade of lights. 
Celebrated Serena's 13th birthday there. 
I got to be there for my dad's birthday
Not to mention being able to be there every weekend before he passed for a month
I got to see my Naylor family a lot this year and I hope that continues.
I spent a couple weekends with the Harmans.

My dad lost his battle to his cancer.  
He fought hard but it really was his time to go.  
His battle lasted 18 months and a few weeks. 
He had countless surgeries.
Had a trach, a feeding tube and no tongue. 
His communication was down to a red and black dry erase marker with a white board.
Along with hand gestures (some good some bad), clapping and smacking things.
I miss him but glad his suffering is over.

Melanie introduced me to Zumba.
I liked it but quit going. 
I joined the gym and don't go near as much as I should
I have lost 8 pounds and 10 inches in 2 months.
I had another surgery this year because my gallbladder died and was becoming necrotic. 
I am one year post hysterectomy which I wouldn't change for anything. 
Except, I am now on Estrogen (weaning off).
I am Vitamin D deficient and on a weekly supplement
I have signs of osteoporosis
I take a multivitamin for women 50+
I take a Vitamin B complex 
So my hysterectomy solved one problem but I picked up a few more. 

I started a new job in May. 
Love it here.  
My time is flexible.  
I am 6 blocks from home.
I also took my IL Producers test for Life and Health insurance
and passed.

We now have a kindergartner and 7th grader. 
Xander is still full of spunk.
Serena has changed so much over the last year.  
Really over the last six months. 
We are very proud of her.
Serena raised over $2000 for Relay for Life.
Our fundraiser this year (mark your calendars) is March 14th.
We are doing a quarter auction.  

Merry Christmas!
And Happy New Year.
Here's to a better 2015. 

Friday, December 19, 2014


What is Christmas to you?
Aside from the obvious answer:  Christ.
What does it mean to you?
I love my family.
And I have a lot of family.  
I have blood family, step family, family by marriage and VERY close friends that are like family.
I love each and every one of them.  

I love getting to go to mom's on Christmas Eve to see my Aunt and cousins.

I cannot wait to give people their gifts.  
I only have a few to shop for and that's for gift cards 
(don't hate on me they requested giftcards)

I love getting to shop for presents.
I love doing Black Friday with my mom and sister. 
Then some shopping with Ryan
And finishing up with Jessica.  Though that has not happened this year (yet). 

I love getting to see my nieces and nephews open presents.
I love playing games (the Woltering side is huge on games)
I love the family time.
I love our inside jokes.  
Spilled Milk and Cookie Cutter is funny to no one....except us. 
Say it and we will seriously crack up.  
People probably think we are crazy (and we probably are to an extent...)

I absolutely cannot wait to see my kids open their presents.
Every year we get our kids the bigger, most expensive gift from us.
Because not every parent can afford to buy their kids the most expensive item 
and I don't want my kid to be the one to make another child feel bad 
because that kid's parents can't afford to have santa give their kid the most expensive toy.
May sound stupid or over the top but it's the truth.  
Be that kid'd understand.
or be that parent once....and you will understand.  

This weekend starts our family Christmas.  
A week of Christmases.  
5 of them!

Tomorrow we have Naylor Christmas.  
2nd one I have ever had with them.
First one without my dad. 
I have to do it alone.  
well with the kids. 
But without the support of the person I will probably need the most this weekend...
because his work schedule is crazy 
he is working every day of the week 
they are not accepting time off requests. 
I am very thankful he has a job and they are working. 
Just this timing blows.  
I need my husband.  
I am looking forward to Christmas. 
As much as I will miss Dad.  
We have to move forward.  
So instead we will set new traditions and do new things 
and do as much as we can with Dad's family when we can.  

Then Sunday we have Christmas with Connie. 
Which is going to be probably a bigger struggle.  

Wednesday we have Woltering Christmas. 
I am looking forward to this.  
Games. Food and Presents

Then Thursday we have Christmas with my parents and siblings. 
That's the hope anyway.  I cannot wait to see my niece.  
Her first Christmas.  
And my other niece is going to be over the top excited about her gifts I think.  
I know I am.  

Saturday is Christmas with my husband's dad and brothers. 
The last Christmas of the year.
And guess what.....
I get to do that one alone too.  
He has to work til 5.  
Good thing I love my in laws. 

Monday, December 8, 2014


13!  Yikes It's a scary number.  
Not because I am superstitious but 
because our oldest is now 13 in less than 24 hours.  
Where has the time gone.  
Earlier this year I did this for Xander's birthday.

I am going to take a stab at something similar for Serena. 

She has no real nicknames.  
Some friends use to call her SeSe.  
Her dad still calls her Bob.  
^That one just kind of stuck and is an inside joke. 

She wants to be an eye doctor when she gets bigger....
this has been her goal for going on about 5 years now.  
I am really curious to see if she sticks with that or decides something else.

Her favorite colors are blue, pink and purple. 
She loves fingernail polish, eyeshadow, lip gloss and body stuff.
She loves to do crafty things and draw. 

She has her father's brains, my gracefulness.  
She is a pretty good combination of both Voss and Naylor.  
Some days I am like..holy crap she is mine and not just on days she trips over her own feet. 
Then other days I see our niece Amanda or Ryan's cousin Valerie.   

Serena has a heart of gold.  She thinks of others. 
We are so proud of her involvement in Relay for Life.  
This is something that is near and dear to her heart
and let's face it there are far worse things for her to be involved in or care about. 

She is a special girl.  
She was the first grandchild in my family. 
She was the first baby in the group (and only for nearly 7 years).

This year has not worked out how we had planned.  
I missed her first concert but I was where I needed to be, 
and the best part, Serena understood that.  
Did she want me with her?  Of Course!
Did she complaint?  No. 
She made the best of it. 

Serena, we are proud of you.  
We are proud of your grades and honor roll.
Proud of your interest in band. 
Proud of your creativity. 
Proud of your heart. 
Proud of your willingness to give to something bigger than you. 
Proud that you tried something new. 

Xander can be mean to you but he loves you. 
One thing I hear from everybody is how much Xander adores his big sister. 
He can be mean but that's what brothers do.  
Trust me.  I pray that when you are older, you and your brother have a close relationship and are always there for each other. 

We love you!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

13 Days of Serena

So Serena is turning 13 on December 9th. We tossed around having a huge party for her with friends and family then the more I thought about it we decided instead of having a huge party or sleepover with friends or finding some insanely expensive place to go to with 3-4 friends we would plan a trip to Chicago.  One thing Serena wants more than anything is to be able to show a friend Chicago.  So this weekend we are heading north with one of her friends. She does not know this.  We have a weekend of fun planned at the Pier, the Bean, the German Christmas market, the zoo, some awesome dinner with awesome friends.  She is going to be surprised.

We are still having cake and ice cream with my parents and Roger on her birthday after Xander's Christmas concert but not having everyone and their brother over.  I messaged the people interested and we are doing 13 days of Serena.  It started on Thanksgiving and she will get her 13th and final gift from us.

People have asked why we're doing this.  Some have said it's cool.  Others seem confused .  Here's why.  Over the next 13 days Serena will either get something or get to do something with some of the top people in her life.  It doesn't have to be extravagant.  Just something special.  I don't want her birthday to be all about people just giving her a gift.  I think she will enjoy the time spent with people just as much as getting a gift from them.  Plus she's a pretty spectacular kid so I thought this was a cool way to recognize her over the next two weeks.

So far, day one included a heart cookie from Grandma and Grandpa Wellen telling her that she will get surprises over the next 13 days.  Day 2 she was allowed to go Black Friday shopping for the first time ever.  Day 3 she got a crossbody purse from her Godmother.  Did I mention its purple chevron.  Over the next 10 days she is getting a movie and dinner with her dad, shopping and dinner with her godfather (good luck Uncle Scott you get to see what you have to look forward to in 12-14 years.), a surprise from Grandma Connie, a surprise from Aunt Sandy, a surprise from a very good friend, a gift from us, a special dinner, a special delivery from her Aunt Tanya and then a final gift from us, plus cake and ice cream with grandparents.  I am beyond excited and I hope she is too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sister Weekend Recap

First, I realized I never came here and gave my review on the sister's weekend festivities.  First, the Toy and Game Fair was eh.  Okay probably at best.  Glad it was a groupon and we didn't pay full price.  Saw some new toys but mainly ones that were already popular and known.  And now my son wants Hexbugs (remote control ones) added to his list and he tested positive for Flu within a day of being at the germ fest, I mean toy fair (not smart planning on this mom's part).  Oops.

The hotel we stayed at was AMAZING.  We stayed at the Millennium Knickerbocker hotel (hotwire deal) and for being a very nice hotel and more upscale than the holiday inns I typically go for, EVERYBODY was very nice and welcoming to the kids from the bell hop, to concierge and front desk.  They were so accommodating and just nice.  So I do recommend them.

The parade was great again.  However, PSA to parents.  If YOU wants YOUR kid to have a front row seat then YOU need to stand out there an hour before and get them a good visual.  It's not my responsibility to make sure your kid can see the parade.  Now before people get their panties in a twist, I am all for kids getting to see the parade.  However, when I stand out there with my kids for an hour beforehand and you walk up 10 min or even 30 min before, it's not my job to make sure your kid can see.  Don't tell me it's for the kids and it's all about the kids.  I know.  I was here an hour early to make sure my kids can see.  The last time we waited over an hour for the same spot, we were nice and let a kid come up and then that kid's mother felt the need to invite every kid up and my kids were squished out of their front row seats.  So I apologize that your kid cannot see.  However I mad sure my kid could see.

We ended up getting take out pizza from Lou Malnati's (by the way the one at State and Rush, the person who answered the phone needs an attitude adjustment--Rude!).  Had pizza, chips and Oreos (with milk) in our hotel room.  The kids played Disney Headbands and had fun.  So overall it was a great weekend.  Hope we get to do something like this again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holy Batman...where has the year gone.

It is November.  
Usually by now I have done the whole thankful days.  
This year it has gotten away from me.  

We have had our share of ups and downs.

In the last year, Ryan had surgery.  
His gallbladder tried to explode.  
I had surgery (shocker huh). 
My gallbladder died.
because of a cyst (another shocker)

We've gained two nieces. 
One on my side and one on Ryan's side.

I changed jobs.  
This was the highlight of my year.  
I have more time at home.  
I had more time with my dad.  
I come home happy.  

Was captain of our first ever Relay for Life team. 
Had a successful fundraiser.  Raised over $600 at a skate party.
By the end of the Relay for Life, we raised nearly $2000. 
This was a good experience for Serena. 

I lost a parent.  
This was hard.  
Harder than I could ever imagine.  
Nothing can prepare you for that loss.  
I don't think it matters whether you get to see the person every day, every week or 
every month or whether they were there 100% of the time.  
It's still a relationship that is gone.  
I miss him more than I could have ever prepared myself.   

Passed my insurance producer's exam. 
This was hard.  
But I am glad that I pushed myself to get over this hurdle.  
I was so nervous the day of.  
Worried how stupid I would look if I failed the Life exam.  
I didn't want to fail either one but at least health is not something 
I have been doing for the last several months. 

The rest of the year is packed.  

I have 3 more Chicago trips planned.  
Festival of Lights and attending a Toy & Game Fair
Winter Wonderfest, Christkindl Market, Zoo Lights
Family time.  Fun times ahead. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

I did it!

I have joined the biggest loser in Clinton County.  This will end January 21, 2015.  12 weeks.

For my first weigh in, I weighed 196.6.

i hope to have lost at least 2 pounds by weigh in.  Not sure how much is typical in losing weight.  But I have quit ski and now have a gym membership that I use.  I have been three 3 days.  Taking a break the next few nights though.

So here's to hoping I can lose a lot of weight.  20 would be great!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I lose everything and can find nothing....except weight.  I don't lose it and when I do, I find it back!

I need to TRY HARDER.  I like ski WAY TO MUCH.  but I need to quit.  I need to lose weight.  I am getting way to close to that 200 mark than I would like to be and weigh more than I did pregnant with both of my kids.  

I need to quit drinking ski (I did for a short period of time but got discouraged when the weight wasn't coming off and starting drinking it again).  Quit eating fried foods.  Start exercising and making better choices.  I need to stop be too self conscious to go to the gym and start doing something about my weight.  It doesn't bother anyone else but me.  No one has complained or ever commented that I need to lose weight.  But I am not happy about what I way or the way I look so I need to do this.  For me.  

I have more time now.  Though I don't seem to use it wisely.  So by doing the Clinton County Biggest Loser I am going to set a few goals for myself:
1) lose 20 pounds 
2) quit drinking soda/drink more water
3) eat less fried foods and stop skipping meals. 
4) get in a routine. 

I have a long term goal of losing 50 pounds.  Need to start out smaller though.  

So I know what I need to do and hopefully having some accountability with the Biggest Loser I will do it.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It'll get better....right?

I started this last Friday.........It has been 4 weeks.  4 weeks and 1 day.  Still does not feel or seem real to me that he has been gone that long.  I still wait for updates from Connie or want to text a random I love you to dad.  I still want to figure out the next weekend I can get away to see him.  It doesn’t seem fair.  I know it’s not fair.  I know life is not fair and I know I am not the only one to lose a parent or loved one to cancer.  I know this.  It doesn’t make it any better.  I would give just about anything right now to hear him say bite me or to hear stories about his job.  He loved his job.  He loved Hawthorne.  And I loved the happiness it gave him.  I loved knowing that despite the crappy circumstances dad was happy to see me when I came and looked forward to my visits.  1 Year ago this weekend I was in Chicago visiting him at Illinois Masonic because he had pneumonia.  I remember being so afraid that weekend that we would lose him.  Then a month later being there for his surgery and being terrified whether he would make it but he did.  And he knew I was there.   He still joked and you knew what he was feeling or thinking.  It is so crazy to me how much has changed in a year.  Heck not even a year.  I remember going up there in May and having a conversation (via the whiteboard) about my decision to change jobs and how supportive he was about it and his thoughts on why I shouldn't stay at my old one.  A real conversation (as real as it could be with him, his board and a marker). 

During his 18 month long battle, I had the ability to see him often.  I saw him every month for the first year and then every weekend for the last month of his life.  I am thankful for the people who afforded me that opportunity.  My husband, work, friends.  Time with him is something I will never have again and something I cannot make up.  Time is something I can regret not having enough of but honestly I do not regret the time I had or didn't have.  He knew I made it up there when I could and he knew I would have been up there more if I could.  He never had expectations for me to come (perhaps because I was never gone long enough for him to expect my return).  I just went.  It’s where I felt I was needed.  I didn't want to regret not having time.  Not seeing him.  Not being there for Connie.

Our relationship was far from perfect.  But the last 17 years our relationship was pretty good.  That's what I will hold on to and that's what I have decided to remember him.  The man he was the last 17 years.  The man he was to my kids and the man who wholeheartedly accepted Ryan.  A man who respected my decisions and a man who I could talk to and figure out my problems without him trying to coach me or tell me what to do.  We had our differences, our difference of opinions but we were also very much a like.

So for random fun these are memories I have been thinking about a lot lately.  

Him and Kruse arguing over who is going to pay for an 84 cent ice cream cone.  both stubborn men.  This, while at the time wasn't funny, makes me giggle when I think about it. 

The week I spent with Dad and Connie after I graduated high school and I had gotten a ton of shirts from old navy, hard rock cafe, random chicago shirts and on my last night there I had 9 shirts.  We went to Lone Star for dinner and he decided to make it an even 10.  

When I had Serena connie and I had gotten an umbrella stroller.  Dad called it the pinto.  Then one shopping trip we decided we needed a bigger size so we got a normal size stroller which he called the cadillac.  We joked that next up was the limousine (double stroller).  

When I had it in my head that I was going to make my own bouquets.  I bought all the flowers while in chicago and dad sat there and tried to help me make them.  We made one successfully before I said screw it, I am hiring a florist. 

The first time he met Ryan and liked him. 

Our first visit to Chicago in 1997 when they had a welcoming party for us.  All the people that came to see us.  I was amazed.  

Waiting on the metra train one of our first visits by the race track and someone reported two girls with spray cans.....the cops came...we had water bottles.  Someone was bored that day. 

In 2011 when I arranged to have Connie surprise serena at school for grandparents day in April.  The surprise was on me when I came home from work and dad was standing in my living room to hand me my 30 days of Pam surprise from him (a starbucks gift card, hand delivered). 

Dad giving me away and our first dace to Tough Little Boys.  That song now makes me cry. 

And me getting to stand up for him and Connie 7 months later. 

Five weeks have now passed.  It took me a week to get this out.  I miss him.  bad.  I knew it would hurt and suck but honestly I didn't expect it to be this hard.  We knew it was coming.  That definitely didn't make it any easier.  Even after they told us that he had a week left, I thought I was going to get one more weekend with him.  I was wrong.  I don't regret it because I had been there as often as I could but right now I would give anything to see him one more time.  To read him the letter I wrote.  To give him one more hug.  anything.  Part of me is angry.  They were supposed to fix him.  He had the best doctors and was at the best hospital.  I know it's not their fault.  They did what they could.  And he had 18 months with us.  I just wanted more time.  I always took for grant it he would be here for Serena's confirmation, graduation and Xander's first communion.  Serena's 13th birthday.  That he would get to come see more parades and soccer games.  That serena would get another summer with him.  

okay I am done feeling sorry for myself.  I know I am not the only one to lose a parent but right now that doesn't help the way I feel.  

On a side note, today is my mother in law's birthday.  Happy birthday to Phyllis.  I miss you too. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Farewell Dad.

This is probably going to be long and rambly.  But here it goes.  

My dad passed away yesterday.  How ironic the most patriotic man I know dies on Patriot Day.  

We have known this day was going to come sooner than later for a while now.  
But nothing can prepare you for the loss of a parent.  

I will miss our conversations that we would have after everyone went to bed when I visited.  
I will miss him saying "bite me" to everyone.  I will miss his smirk.  I will miss reminiscing with him.  

I am proud of the man that he became.

I am proud of how hard he fought and never complained.

Dad has battled this disease for 18 plus months.  He fought til the very last day and never gave up.  

He was worried about Connie.  
And I am sure worried about his kids and grandkids.  
We will be okay.  

I will miss him but I am glad he is not suffering anymore.  It was getting hard to see someone that you saw as unbeatable so tired and worn and just exhausted.  

I  am in awe at the support we have here.  Connie will be fine.  People here at so awesome, kind and caring.  They have treated us like family and gone above and beyond anything any employer would normally do.  So to the people at Hawthorne.  Thank you.  

I may have lost my dad but I have gained an angel.  I truly believe in guardian angels.  

I have also gained a family.  Like I told one of the Harmans, they have me as long as they will let me stick around.  Connie has been a part of my life for 18 years.  That's a long time to know someone.  The Harmans have treated me like family.  Not step family.  Like true honest to god family.  They have been amazing and I am grateful for that.  So thank you to the Harman Family.  

Thank you for all of the support and love to everyone.  Everyone who has helped us in any way the last several months so I could be here where I needed to be.  

As far as arrangements go, there will be private services at a later date.  Thank you for the continued support and love.  It means more than I can ever say.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

what to say?

Be thankful.  Appreciate everyone in your life.  You never know when that person won't be there.  Some of us have a fairy tale life of growing up with two parents.  Some of us don't.  I didn't.  Before anyone gets pissy. Keep reading.  I am thankful for the way my life turned out.  My mother did an awesome job of raising us.  Providing for us.  That included providing a wonderful father figure.  Growing up I used to think there was something wrong. Now looking back everything was perfect.  I have wonderful parents.a mom...two dads and stepmom.  I love them all.  Sure I have had a rocky relationship with them all at some point. But I wouldn't change anything.  As much as all the heartache hurts all of that happened and all of that shaped who I am.  Without my parents meeting...there would be no me.  There would be no tanya.   If my parents didn't get a divorce god only knows what our lives would be like but I know it wouldn't be as good as it is now.  We would have been raised the way we were.  We wouldn't have the extra love and support we have.  We wouldn't be us.'. Everything happens for a reason.  We may not u derstand it....we may not agree with it but does.
Now I have to remind myself of that the next few weeks or whatever it is we have with my dad.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Life, Friends and Family

It seems lately I have a lot to be thankful for.
Ryan - for being a huge support when I am gone and a huge support when he comes with me.  And for just putting up with my lack of motivation when I am home.

Mom - for taking care of Xander this weekend.  Taking him to his soccer game (despite him trying to lead you to the wrong park), feeding him breakfast (despite him trying to con a cheeseburger out of you), and nursing his sore back with ice in the form of a popsicle.

Tanya - for coming with me this weekend.  I am glad you are here.

Kris - for being someone my daughter can go to and is comfortable around when I am not around for things.  And for raising an amazing young lady who is a great friend and support to serena when she needs it most.

Jessica - for bringing serena to her first concert.

Sarah - for taking Xander on occasion for us.

Andrea, Katie and Jenni for the occasional dogsitting.

my employer - the time I have been allowed to take during the last few months means the world to me.  I know I made the right choice about my employment.

The rest of my friends who check in on me and offer their assistance.  I have not been able to take you all up on it but I appreciate it.

Melanie B. - just being you and being someone I can lean on .

Jenny F.  - another person who is just there.  Knowing you are there to listen or talk means the world to me.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Well I failed my 100 days of happiness.  Day 100 was Friday, August 22.  Not saying that I didn't have 100 things to make me happy.  I am sure if I looked I could find some.  It's just been a little rough to be happy lately.  But I decided to look through my phone for some reminders....So here is some things to be happy about.

Being able to take a girls trip and getting to see the Grand Ole Opry!
 Friends like this.....
 and this.....
 that after my accident....
 this is the worst of my injuries.  
 Getting pedicures with mom and a few others for the wedding. 
 having fun with this girl.....
 and watching these two.  
 my random child with spunk.
 Xander trying to be a mini Ryan....
 my mom's extraordinary creativity
 watching fireworks with the kids.  
 dot candy...
 these two not fighting...
 our city excursions on the bus (and that he knows we need the 146)
 That after my accident my car looks as good as new
 that he LOVES the fair rides. 
 and swimming.....
 and even THESE rides. 
 My 31 obsession makes me happy...the hubby not so much.
 this guy.  He's my little Chicago buddy.
 spending a day downtown with serena. 
 making hundred bracelets with serena and connie
 random gifts from friends and family.
 seeing serena this happy just over a stuffed character. 
 Serena donating her hair. 
 and being involved in such a great cause. 
 working on this banner with my mom. 
 xander making new friends and baking

 and showing off. 
 xander sitting for his first caricature. 
 petting goats. 
 rooftop swimming. 
 the finished caricature.
 xander has improved with soccer. 
 we have a 7th grader
 and kindergartner.
 her smile. 
 xander playing with his cousin.
 new doggy coming into our family
 xander's family portrait
 visiting this city
 and this girl.  
 my dad's birthday gift and that he got to see it and it made him smiled. 
 serena had a wonderful skate party
 family reunion

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Not just happy

I am thrilled!  
Tomorrow is Nashville day.  
Tomorrow is the start of girls' weekend.  
Tomorrow is going to rock.  
The whole weekend will.  
To kick it off, I got my toes done.....
hey it's a fun color and makes me happy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

oh so happy...

I was thrilled when I realized Xander was quiet for 30 minutes.  Playing alone.  

Here he is.... playing with polly pockets. lol