Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Something to End the Year

As I sat closing everything out for the official year end, I came across a gift I had been given from one of my dear clients in Chicago.  It's an "inspirational" book that has quotes, ancient proverbs and just thoughts by many famous people.  There is a thought a day and the truth is that I've had it on my desk for nearly a year and today was the first time I opened it.  I randomly turned to a section with a quote by Oprah, "You can't live your life to please other people." I realized that this gave me all of the inspiration I needed to end my year.

I know that there are more people that don't agree, respect or understand what I do.  Some see it as selfish, some see it as greedy, some think I take vacations for a living (I WISH!).  I've spent so much time trying to justify my life to other people that it's made me question myself a million times a day ... until today.  And as much as I question myself, I struggle with balancing it all even more.  I've always said that when my job effects my family in a negative way I'd be done.  These last 2 months have been especially difficult for me.  Last night I went home and told Steve, "I'm done. I just want to be done." He looked at me and said, "Okay. If that's what you want but don't do it for us.  We are proud of you.  We miss you when you're gone but we love what you do and that you do it for us.  If you really want to quit, quit but do it for you and not us or because of what other people think.  None of that matters."  So, I was up all night thinking, "what if what I do means more to them than me just being gone."  I've never thought that before. 

So, here's my New Year's Resolution.  One day at a time.  Live every day like I won't be here tomorrow.  Take a deep breath, give myself a break and not analyze every second of every day.  Love my husband and my children a little more each day not because I have something to make up, but just because I can.  And above all else, not live my life to please everyone else.

Holiday Fun!

I think it's safe to say that everyone in our house had the best Christmas yet!  We packed as much in as we possibly could which was exhausting but I'm so glad we did it! 

Christmas Eve we woke up, had brunch with Steve's family and then he and I took the girls and their cousins, Josh & Sydney sledding.  We had a BLAST!  Maggie went snowboarding for the first time and loved it - and she did a really good job too!!!  Then we got ready and had a great time with Steve's whole family.  It wasn't long and we were off on our way to spend the holiday with my Dad and Vicki which was great!  Emma was so tired by the time that we got there that she wasn't really all about it but she snapped out of it pretty quickly.

Christmas morning we woke up bright and early and opened gifts that Santa brought and the girls couldn't have been happier.  They each got a Nintendo DSi which has been a major hit (although Emma's had her's taken away twice now...), an iPad, games, clothes, barbies, puzzles and art supplies.  Santa was very good to Mommy and Daddy too ... Steve got a food processor and I got a beautiful bracelet from Tiffany & Co.  Life was good, right?  Right!  Next we were hustling to get ready to go to Carla's for Christmas Day.  Once again, the girls had so much fun playing with their cousins and it was just a wonderful day. 

And now, life as we know it can get back to normal.  Monday morning school starts, everyone is back to work and by Wednesday I'm back on the road. 

2010 has been pretty good to us ... I can only hope that 2011 is just as good, if not better!

Sydney, Emma & I went down together to pick up speed ... Josh met us at the bottom with a snowball!

Think Emma liked the iPad?

Cousins: Lola, Maggie, Carley, Emma

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cupcakes and Christmas Celebrations!

As you may know, I've been making cupcakes for about a year now.  Occasionally I do them for birthday parties or just for fun but I was really excited to get my first "BIG" order earlier this week.  Lakeview's PTO needed 400 of them for the holiday parties that happened yesterday and I'm thrilled to say that I delivered!  I've got it down to a science now, I think.  If I do mini-cupcakes I can bake 4 dozen at a time which means that I can bang out 32 dozen cupcakes in one hour, approximately and I can do 16 dozen regular sized cupcakes in one hour.  I had cupcakes EVERYWHERE but they looked great and tasted pretty good too!  The kids were excited and the teachers were even more excited since they've been stripped of all "unhealthy treats" including their soda and coffee machines.  That's a topic I won't get on though because I will rant for hours.  Anyway, after we delivered the goods, Steve and I were off to enjoy the holiday party with Maggie.  She was so excited that we came - it was a great day!  Now, CHRISTMAS, here we come!!  Merry Christmas to everyone from the Mantel's!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzard Aiden

December 11 & 12, 2010: First Blizzard of the Season

This wonderful storm only dropped about 10 inches on us here in Neenah but just north of us saw anywhere between 10-22 inches of snow.  We had significant blowing and drifting and then the part where our snow stopped but the ice started was a really great bonus ... yeah right!  Steve headed out with the girls to snowblow the 3 foot drift at the end of our driveway from when the plow went through and the snowblower died.  I don't mean, "let's take it in to get serviced",  I mean DIED.  I'm not sure if it's a sign or something telling us to move out of this horrible climate or what.  Anyway, then lunch rolls around and I noticed that Emma was burning up with a fever and 5 minutes later she was throwing up.  Poor baby!  I hate it when they get sick ... and I'm sure that Blizzard Aiden brought the nasty little virus her way.  Finally, this morning, here we are.  Just about every school in the state is delayed 2 hours because of windchills (except for Neenah of course) ... did I mention that the blizzard brought arctic temperatures and today we are forecasted for a high of 0?  Ugh ... only one thing I can think of to say at this point.  I'd much rather have a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard from DQ than this kind!!!  Note: photos below are of the windows that we were looking out of yesterday - snow and ice filled.  Not much of a view!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Snow Angels

Last night we got about 4 inches of the fluffy white "stuff" (nicer word than what I would normally call it).  The girls got up this morning and wanted to know if they could go out and shovel the driveway ... it didn't take me but a second to agree.  They did a great job and finished off with a few angels!  Lucky for them, tomorrow we're expecting 12 more inches....somewhere in a warm and sunny location there is a home calling my name!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


One word that describes one of my least favorite things.....cold, snow, ice, wind chills, YUCK!  But, one thing that I love about winter is some of the pictures I've gotten of the girls over the past few years.  Perhaps its the color that pops but I just love it ... that and their chubby little baby cheeks!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Daughter, the Star

Last night Miss Maggie had her first stage debut as Mrs. Claus!  She was so nervous but she did a fantastic job!  I thought I was video taping the entire thing until the end when I realized that I never pushed the "record" button ... I'm such an idiot sometimes.  So, not only do I not have any photos of it, I don't have video either.  :(  She sure looked beautiful though ... on our way home last night she informed us that she was pretty sure that Miley Cyrus started out as Mrs. Claus too ... ah the mind of a 7 year old.  At least she has goals and dreams, right???  And after we got home she decided to pose for a few final photos ... in her PJ's and a pair of my boots.  What a girl!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All in a day's work

Sunday I arrived here in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a program.  I've never been here before and was told that I'd love it which is a stretch for me because rarely do I land somewhere that I "love".  It really is very beautiful here.  The weather is wonderful - it's been mid 80s all week, the people are amazing, resort is great, food is good, client is happy so life is good.  I'd rather be home of course but I'm here til Friday so I might as well enjoy while I'm here, right? Right.  So, today was a big day.  It started busy with lots of our guests signing up for activities.  Then, I noticed someone walking through the lobby and thought to myself, boy that woman looks like Jennifer Aniston.  So, I immediately jumped into what my friend Lindsay and I refer to as "Celebrity Stalking Mode", I followed her and low and behold ... Jennifer Aniston it was.  I can't say that I spoke with her because I didn't.  I was within feet of her, in awe of her perfect figure and the only thing I could think of was "I loved you on Friends" and the tune of "I'll be there for you" ... both of which would have been completely idiotic to bring up so "Good Morning" was all I had in my bank of things to say.  After that deviation, I had to get back on track.  It was a busy day today with people booking tours from fishing and golfing to zip lines and ATV's.  My focus though is that Friday, I go home and I couldn't be more thrilled with the thought of that.  I can't wait to grab my babes and kiss their little faces.  In the mean time though, for my family, here is a photo and map of where Mama is this week.  See you Friday!  Mommy loves you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's the Holiday Season...

When you think of the holiday's, what's the first thing that you think of?  For me, it's the tree and certain songs and of course Buddy the Elf!  Our holiday was kicked off with our tradition this week ... dinner with Santa at the Paper Valley and then the Appleton Christmas parade.  It was a bit chilly - only about 20 degrees but we bundled up and had a blast! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Little Angel

I remember how excited we were to tell our families that there we were having our first baby.  First we told my family and then the next weekend, Steve's.  His grandma, my grandpa and several others guessed "twins" rather than girl or boy and who knew ... they were right.  November 19th marks the 8 year anniversary of the day that I was no longer having twins.  I remember that day as if it was yesterday - everything about it from the weather to what I wore to the room when we were in when we heard the words "twin to twin transfusion".  I remember the phone calls and visits and how numb I was.  That night getting in to bed all I kept thinking about was how alone I felt, even though there was one healthy baby thriving and wanting to make her way into this world.  After Maggie was born we opted for testing and found out that the baby would have been a girl.  Randomly, Maggie calls her "Ruby" and we talk about her often.  She is our little angel and she'll be with us forever.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her or wonder what our home would be like.  I wonder how the girls would all play, what her voice would sound like and if she'd love to sing the way Maggie does.  I know Mags wonders too and although a part of me went to heaven that November day, I think that there is a part of Maggie that will always feel as if something is missing. When something like this happens, it changes you.  I'm not sure how or in what way but it just does.  No one understands what it feels like unless they have had personal experience.  So, today, to my cousin and her precious angel baby, you are in our heart's and our thoughts. We love you very much!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Life Just Happens

Since Halloween weekend, our lives have been turned inside out and upside down!  I've had 2 trips in the past 2 weeks.  The girls have both had illnesses - Maggie had the flu and Emma a stomach bug with a sore throat.  Yesterday I was packing for my trip this week to Vancouver when I got a call to go to the hospital because my dad was in the ER.  His appendix ruptured so Vicki and I sat there all day ... well, almost.  We ran out for a quick lunch at Mihm's but then back to business.  This morning I cancelled my Vancouver trip for this week so I can stay close to home which might be a blessing in disguise.  Anyway, that's the cliff notes version for the past 2 weeks AND I just realized that Halloween pictures were never posted so here you go!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins!

I have to admit it ... I haven't carved a pumpkin since I was a kid.  I've avoided it like the plague for 7 years with my own girls and this is the year that it came to be.  Maggie asked me last week why we didn't do it and frankly, telling her that we don't do it because I can't deal with the thought of the pumpkin insides or the mess that it makes, just wasn't in the cards.  Let's face it.  I was gone for 9 days, home for 3, gone for 1, home for 2, gone for 2, home for 5 and leaving for 6 again next week so the last thing that I really want to do is keep them from doing something like this.  So, here it is!  Pumpkin carving fun at the Mantel's!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Art of Writing a Letter

The school system is no longer teaching kids how to write in cursive.  They are, however, teaching kids how to write letters.  Good old fashioned get your pen and paper out letters.  So, every week Maggie has to write a letter to her teacher.  After her teacher, Mrs. Kubiak, reads the letter it gets sent home.  I hope you can read these because if you can, they are pretty funny ... the honestly and innocence of children. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Glimpse of Her

Have you ever had those moments where you think you hear a voice from your past or you see someone that makes you do a double take because you thought that it was someone that you once knew.  Sometimes I hear a song that makes me laugh because it has a fond memory behind it.  Sometimes it's just seeing a photo of a baby and thinking "wow, she really looks like ... ".  It happens to me.  Maggie has a way of posing for a photo almost every time I pull out my camera.  Its a stance, a specific hand placement, turning of the foot and hips.  I remember the first time I took a photo that came out like this - it took my breath away.  Since Maggie was born I've thought that I wish my Grandma could see her - what would she say?  Then I saw the picture.  Only my Grandma would pose this way for any and every photo op that she could.  And now Maggie does.  She's never seen these photos of Grandma - it's just something she was born with.  And every time I see one of these photos, I laugh.  It makes me smile that I'm looking at my little girl who is so much like the one of the best people I ever knew ... and they have never even met.

Hello World, I'm Back!

I wish I knew where to begin but I don't.  Life has been crazy and a week long trip to Connecticut just complicated things.  However, as crazy as it may be, it is our life. 

I don't know if its that I'm getting older or if it's that I'm becoming more aware of how fast time really does go.  Every trip I take, my heart aches more and more.  But yet, it's just the way it is.  I know that I could quit tomorrow but there are just too many things that I want my kids to see and experience and have ... I'm just not ready yet.  As hard as it is, the thought of not giving them the world weighs more on my mind than the feeling of heading to the airport.  I know that they don't like it but I also know that hearing the word "no" isn't a popular answer in our house and it would be a fact of life if I decided to stay home.  I also know that working makes me a better mom.  Traveling is teaching my daughters that women can be strong and that there is a big world out there and you shouldn't be afraid to jump off the high dive every once in a while.  I give stay at home mom's all the credit in the world - I couldn't do it.  And at the end of the day, if I didn't do what I do, I wouldn't come home to greetings like this!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fieldtrip: Take 1!

Two weeks ago I brought Emma to school and was handed a permission slip for her to go on her first fieldtrip.  GULP!  Do you think I could let her get on a bus, go all the way to Little Farmer and pick a pumpkin without her Mama?  YEAH RIGHT!  Not happening.  No matter how much work is on my desk there is nothing more important!  We had a blast.  Weather was beautiful and she was beaming from ear to ear from the moment she stepped on that bus!  What a great day ... what a big girl!

Every Girl Wants to be a Princess

Or does every girl?  My kids ask me if I'm a Princess and I tell them "No, I'm the Queen and YOU are the Princess."  Maggie went through a phase where it was all things Disney Princess.  It lasted a few months and then fizzled - like Dora and Hannah Montana.  Emma on the other hand, L-O-V-E-S the idea of being a Princess in every way to everyone.  She knows that she has her beloved Grandma & Grandpa wrapped!  :)  She loves all thinks sparkly, pink and shiny.  What a girl!   Without further ado ... Princess Emma!