Sunday, November 1, 2015

Last days of Summer.

The Swanson kids had a great summer.  Days were spent playing with the neighbors, Harry and Cal.  Fishing, fort building, biking, hiking, swimming, etc.  One of the last 90 degree days brought the perfect opportunity for a lemonaid stand with Jameson and Quinn.  We also had to say goodbye to our nanny, Abby.  She is still around, but super busy at UWL.  Abby became an honorary member of Team Swanson and we hope to have her back next summer!

Door County Tri

Put it in the books.  I completed my first sprint tri (quite the feat for someone who hasn't taken a swim lesson since the 2nd grade!).  Dirk rocked the 70.3 half-ironman and Cullen creamed the competition in the kids tri.  We had a great time in Door County and the athletic competition made it a memorable one! 

La Crosse Tri Weekend

Simone competed in her first tri and showed the boys how it's done!  All three did great in the La Crosse YMCA races.  The family that tris together sticks together - right?!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Another season of BGC baseball is in the book.  Cullen had a great year.  He hit a few HRs, made some dazzling plays in the field (including a long line drive in left field) and had an all around good time.  He ended the season being asked to play up on a kid pitch team for their season ending tourney.  During the tourney he even threw on the catchers gear for an inning.  It was great!  Next year it is on to kid pitch full time. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

School's Out For the Summer!


Summer is finally here.  Time for fun late nights (bedtime later than 7:30!), fun with friends and outdoor activities:
- The kids have been spending lots of time in the "fort" at the end of the street.  "Fort" may be an exaggerated description for the wooded lowlands.  Some Crayola paint, a rope tied to a tree and some fallen trees make up a paradise for kids.  The fort is also home to tons of bugs, worms and frogs.  And now our yard is full of various habitats crawling with said creatures!
- Every Mother's Day, Dirk and the kids buy me a strawberry plant.  Not only are the flowers beautiful, but we also love picking the fruits. 
- Cullen and Simone have been introduced to Jenga.  Hours and hours of fun have been had.  We are hoping they are experts by the time they get to college :).
- Summer also means fishing off the dock.  Bob's Bait Shop better keep stocked up on worms!

Jab Punch: Another Belt

Cullen and Simone have advanced belt colors.  Cullen is now a gold belt in the big kids class rank.  Simone is a green belt in the little warriors group.  Both kids were very nervous for testing.  In fact the word testing makes it seem as if it's a pass/fail.  To be honest, only those students who are ready to advance are asked to test.  Therefore, everyone passes.  The kids are required to run into a gym full of spectators and show their stuff in front of the crowd.  Simone said she was mostly nervous for the grand entrance.  Cullen was just plain nervous about it all.  When he arrived, he walked up to one of his instructors and began asking a few questions.  Mr. Meyer assured Cullen that even he gets nervous before testing.  After all of the talk about nerves, both kids did awesome and truly earned their next belts. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Big Graduate, Big Talker

Simone Swanson is now a preschool graduate.  The graduation day came and I really thought I would be in tears throughout the entire ceremony.  Not only is my baby now a big kid, but we have been part of the YMCA daycare family since 2008.  This place has helped us raise our children.  The Swanson family has met so many extraordinary individuals at our daycare who have helped to develop the minds, bodies and character of our sweet kids.  It was very bittersweet to say goodbye to the amazing place with amazing people.

Simone was very excited about her graduation day.  She knew that she had a large fan base attending the ceremony: Mom, Dad, Cullen, Mimi, Grandma Liz, Jameson and Quinn.  She told us she was practicing some songs, but when asked what they were, she said "you will have to come to the program and see!".  On the drive to school on the morning of graduation, Simone had a lot to say.  "Mom, make sure Grandma Liz gets there early."  "Mom, have Cullen go to the bathroom before he gets there. He's not going to want to miss a second of the program."  "If you sit behind someone tall, please move so that you can see me."    So many words of advice for a preschool graduation!

As the pomp and circumstance music started, we watched the sweet 5-year-olds enter the gymnasium. Then, I started to tear up.  We saw Simone enter, wearing her red graduation cap and she looked so confident.  That is, until she saw Dirk.  She walked right over to her dad, put her head in his lap and started bawling.  I am pretty sure it was nerves/stage fright and whatever else a 5-year-old preschooler would worry about.  We tried to console her as her class performed its first song.  By song #2, I was able to walk her over to her teacher, Miss Amy.  She sat in the front row next to Miss Amy and watched her class perform the songs she had been practicing for weeks.  Then, the third and final song came on.  Little did we know, this was her favorite song:  "What does the Fox say?".  She walked up on stage owned the dance moves and sang every word.  We have very few pictures and no video of this performance because we were all so worried that if we made eye contact, she would lose it again.

Simone ended up getting her preschool diploma and finishing the rest of the ceremony without incident.  She continues to be very proud and does not speak of the stagefright issue.  We are very proud of our preschool graduate and big talker!  And I learned that once you have to step into "parent mode" any emotions or tears have to take a backseat.

Our newest blessing: Carter James

The LaVigne family has been blessed with another baby.  Welcome Carter James.  Brigette, Mason and Doug welcomed Carter on May 24th.  He is absolutely handsome and practically perfect in every way! Mason is a very proud big brother and Brigette and Doug are so happy.  Carter has more hair than Simone did on her first birthday.  I think Brigette actually needs to style and comb his hair on a regular basis.  Cullen and Simone loved meeting their newest cousin.  Welcome to the family Carter.  We are so excited to watch you grow!

School's Out for the Summer!

Monday, June 8, 2015

With a skip and a smile, she turns 5.

Simone Elizabeth is now 5 years old.  She celebrated her birthday with 6 friends at a dance studio.  The dance instructor was great - she lead the girls through stretches, a dance routine and a few fun play songs.  The little ones loved shaking their booties to "Shake it Off".  The girls were also joined by Simone's friend Reese's little brother Ivan.  He kept up with the big kids and literally didn't miss a beat!

Simone still continues to love girly things but she can also play in the dirt with the boys!  She is feisty and not afraid to tell you what she wants or how she feels.  Simone is also a rule follower and is continually points out when anyone is not doing what they are supposed to.  She loves her brother (most of the time), her dog and bossing her boy cousins around.  Simone has a wonderful imagination and often plays school or doctor.  Simone's best friends are Macie and Stella and her favorite TV show is Full House (80's/90's sitcoms are making a comeback!).  She has stated that she is going to be a doctor who helps children when she grows up!  Dream big sweet girl.  You can do anything you set your mind to!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Of Thee I Sing.

Cathedral Elementary school held its spring music concert on May 14th.  The 3 kindergarten classes performed "Home on the Range", "Git Along, Little Dogies" and "She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain".  The Americana/cowboy theme was a huge success.  The finale featured K - 2nd grade singing "You're a grand old flag" and "God Bless America".  To see the 6, 7, 8 and 9 year olds singing songs from the turn of the century was very cool.  And our cowboy did not disappoint!

Outdoor Fun.

Warmer weather brings out the good moods.  As the temps rise, we find ourselves spending more and more time outdoors. We are loving spring and looking forward to a great summer!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Shenanigans

Spring time brings old pastimes and new ones.  Simone's new pastime is riding her flashy new fairy bike.  What four-year-old wouldn't want a sparkly fairy bike complete with streamers and flowers?!  Springtime also brings baseball in the street with pitcher extraordinaire Terry Erickson.    Last weekend we visited the LaVigne clan in MPLS.  Cousin time was highlighted by a visit to Drew's fire station.  The kids loved climbing on the rigs.  But the true highlight was hearing the fire call go out and seeing Drew and the guys get into the rig and drive away to a call.  We all thought it was pretty cool to see the heroic firefighters respond to a call.

Easter Fun

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A spring concert.

We were lucky enough to attend the most fabulous spring music concert last weekend.  Simone and her friends from the YMCA daycare put on a top-notch performance.  Simone's class stated with the Color Song, then went into Little Bunny Foo Foo and ended the concert with I Love My Little Dinosaur Pet (sung to the tune of I Love My Little Calendar Girl).  Simone kept telling us that she was nervous, but when the songs started she was up there singing and dancing and didn't skip a beat.  Jameson noticed that "Simone knew every word to all of the songs".  My personal favorite was the little hand on the hip dance move that she perfected.  Simone was lucky enough to have a large fan base: Dad, Mom, Cullen, Tracy, Jameson and Quinn.  And she made her fans very proud.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lucky 7.

I feel like we write the same post every year.  Time flies when you are having fun!  Cullen is now 7 years old!  We've had 7 of the greatest years navigating parenthood with this great kid.  Cullen is sporty, smart, sweet, empathetic, caring, energetic, imaginative and cool.  We are biased, but he's an absolutely awesome kid and we are lucky to be his parents.

We celebrated his birthday with a burger BBQ with the Swanson family.  The next day, he hosted 10 friends at South Lanes bowling center for pizza and pins.  The highlight may have actually been the mustaches and the crane "try to win a stuffed animal" game.  The boys loved anything competitive and had a blast.

Happy 7th birthday Cullen!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


In February, we experienced Paridisus.  The Swanson family was lucky enough to take a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  The resort where we stayed was the perfect blend of relaxation and family fun.  The kids learned the value of a swim-up-bar.  The vacation almost started out on the wrong foot when we found toy guns that Cullen had stashed in the carry on.  After the gun was discarded, the vacation commenced!  Cullen and Simone did great on the flights and when we arrived at the resort, their sights were set on the pool.  The resort offered a personal concierge to make dinner reservations and most importantly, put personal touches in our hotel room.  After returning to our room from the pool or beach, Allan (the concierge) would fill the tub with bubbles and balloons.  Cullen and Simone were in heaven.  Paradisus Esmeralda also hosted a waterslide and three pools.  Every afternoon, there were nachos and cotton candy next to the pool.  Cullen ate so many, we thought he would turn orange.  Simone was partial to the cotton candy machine.   Overall, Dirk and I were able to relax by the pool with some fruity cocktails and just enjoy being with the kids.  Sure, there were moments when the kids were crabby (see the photo of Cullen at Xcaret).  But overall, we had a great time.  Truly relaxing.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

BGC Basketball

Wooden, Krzyzewski, Ryan,.....Swanson!?  Yes, I now consider myself in this hallowed group of coaches.  Why is this you ask?  Well, we just closed out an undefeated season in Youth Developmental Basketball.   Although, my coaching was essentially making sure the kids remembered what number sub they were.  I want to think that my little contribution went a long way in helping these Kindergartners, 1st and 2nd graders stay focused on the game.  In all honesty, I'm not really even sure about the undefeated part.  Our sharp shooter, Brent, informed us before every game that we were 15-0, I was a bit skeptical being that we had only played 10 games.  I did know that we won those 10 games though.  This was because our player/coach Talon would always inform me that we were up 10.  Funny thing was that, according to him, we were always up 10, even right after the opening tip.  The MVP in this coach's eyes, and they are a bit biased eyes, was one Cullen Swanson.  This was Cullen's first year playing basketball.  Which is odd because I've been watching him shoot baskets since he was 2yrs old.  Typical of Cullen, he jumped in with both feet.   If we played at 4, he wanted me to pick him up early so he could shoot around before the game.  If we played at 5, we wouldn't leave the Boys and Girls Club until 6:30.    It was a fun year all around, it's such a wonderful thing, watching these little kids and the excitement when a shot went in or a good pass was made.  The season ended on a perfect note.  Our big guy, William, got the ball with 5 seconds left, turned around and threw up a long jump shot and in it went as the buzzer sounded.  It was for the win, by 10.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Both Cullen and Simone have advanced belt levels.  Cullen is now a cammo gold belt and Simone is a gold belt.  Simone was both nervous and excited for her first testing.  They were quizzed on their belt colors and mastered their 7 curriculum moves.  Watch out bullies and bad guys.  The Swanson kids are fierce!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Little rippers

Ski season is here again!  We bought season passes to Mt. La Crosse (which I affectionately refer to as MOUNTAIN La Crosse).  We need to ski 5 times in order to be ahead of the ski pass price.  So far this season, we have been to the mountain 6 times.  Mission accomplished.  Cullen and Simone are both little rippers - tearing down the hill and carving turns.  Simone is no longer using the edgie-wedgie (the device keeping the toes of the skis together to help beginners).  She likes the shorter skis from last year because they are easier for her to control.  Cullen has discovered a love of tree runs and jumps (all age appropriate of course)!  We took a trip to Wausau, WI  with our neighbors over new years to ski at Granite Peak.  We may have spent more time in the water park because of cold temps, but it was still fun!  Next ski trip:  Big Sky or bust!

Shiny II

I regret to inform our readers that Cullen's beloved pet fish, Shiny, was murdered.  Negligent homicide to be precise.

Three years ago, Shiny joined our family.  Dirk actually won him at the bottle-toss game during La Cross'e Octoberfest celebration.  We expected Shiny to live 1 week tops.  We believe he may have been the longest living carnie fish ever.

The story goes:  Simone and Quinn were playing in Cullen's room and proceeded to dump a whole can of fish food into his tank.  Cullen knew right away that his best fish was in trouble.  He and Dirk promptly cleaned the tank, but later that evening. Cullen noticed that Shiny was swimming upside down.  Dirk and I had a long talk with Cullen explaining that Shiny was sick and not actually doing tricks.  We went on to say that he might not make it through the night.  This set Cullen over the edge.  He cried and cried and cried himself to sleep that night,  "I am so worried about Shiny".  "I love Shiny so much".   Dirk and I laid in his bed and hugged our sweet boy as a cried into his pillow.  The next morning, Shiny was discovered dead in his tank.  Dirk asked Cullen if he wanted to help flush him and Cullen said that he couldn't bear to watch.

We then promised him that he could get a new pet fish.  Cullen picked out a beautiful goldfish whom he appropriately named Shiny II.  We are delighted to welcome another fish into the family and hope that Shiny II lives a long, prosperous life.

P.S.  You may be wondering if Simone paid the consequence for murdering Shiny I.  We did have a strong talk with her about taking care of pets and the fact that she should have known better.  We also told her that she was not responsible enough to have a pet fish of her own.  She has since been very nice to Shiny II.


The excitement of Christmas Morn.

This year, we had a very quiet and laid-back Christmas day.  The kiddos woke up to full stockings and Santa-wrapped gifts.  Dirk made a ham on the green egg (no pun intended).  Camp chewed on a new Christmas bone.  And we didn't leave the house!  The quiet day was a welcome change from the hectic school days/work days.   It was wonderful to sit around and enjoy of all our Christmas blessings.

Christmas with cousins.

Nothing beats hanging out with your cousins.  They are quite simply the best of both friends and family.  Cullen and Simone are blessed to have Mason, Dane, Jameson and Quinn in their lives.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

This year's tree decorating commenced with a tree straight from Nelson's.  No, we did not cut down our own tree this year.  It was too cold - so we opted for the pretty store-bought variety.  Cullen picked out a great tree and both kids helped to decorate it.  Well, they kind of helped.  They actually became enthralled with the beads and ribbon that I use to decorate and started playing snake and jump rope as I made the tree festive.  However, Simone was adamant that she put the star on top.  This is the first year that she has gotten into the tree decorating and it was fun to have her help.

Cullen's elementary school put on an amazing Christmas show.  He was dressed as a Shepard and sang his little heart out.  The Cathedral Elementary School Christmas Pageant was quite the "to-do".  Dirk actually arrived 30 min. early just to secure seats in the gymnasium.  And as it turns out, we were still craning our necks to see our sweet shepherd boy.  Simone and I ended up moving up to the floor in front just so we could see.  Cullen was absolutely thrilled that Grandpa Mark and Grandma Liz came down to see his show.

Simone and I had a double-date with her friend Macie and Macie's mom Rachel.  We saw the La Crosse Community Theater's production of Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.  Simone and Macie loved it.  Oddly enough, her favorite character was Sally Brown (Charlie's sister).  Personally, I liked Snoopy!

Finally, we also paid a visit to the La Crosse Rotary Lights display.  The lights were great as always, but the best part was seeing the kids in awe of the reindeer.  They studied each one making guesses at each reindeer's name and whether or not they looked ready for Christmas.

Cullen and Simone have given Dirk and I reason to believe in the magic of Christmas.  Seeing everything through their eyes is truly a joy!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The cold sets in....

As the cold sets in, we start to think of Christmas. The kids kicked off the season at a brunch with Santa.  They both pined over toy catalogs all morning writing a rather lengthy list.  I had to let them know that the list only serves as a guide for Santa.  Kids never receive every toy that they ask for....  Simone is also starting to enjoy cooking.  On a cold Sunday we decided to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  And they actually turned out!....  Cullen also had his buddy Jerzey over to play.  Cullen and Jerzey went to the YMCA daycare together and have been best buds since they were infants.  It's fun to see these two get together and pick up right where they left off....  And finally, as the mornings are getting colder the kids seem to need more time for cuddles.  No matter what your age, it's hard to get out of bed when it's cold outside.

Thanksgiving 2014

We were fortunate to gather together with the Moore family for Thanksgiving.  It meant a lot to everyone to be able to come together again for our first holiday without Wowee.  The entire family (except for the Ramstacks) were able to congregate at Mark and Liz's new pad.  Turkey was gobbled, jokes were told and toddlers learned to gamble.  Just a typical family gathering!  I know we made Wowee proud.