Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Winter Public Apology Letter

Dear everyone we love, care about, and spend time with:

We, the Hundts, are sorry.  So very sorry.  We're sorry we haven't seen you in person.  We're sorry we haven't sat around a dinner table with you, or made a play-date.  We're sorry we never took that sledding trip, Impression 5 meet up, or invited you to come over and play in our basement.  We're sorry that we went weekends without stopping by.  We're sorry, especially to Nolan and Judah's cousins, Silesia and Harvie, that we missed milestones in your growth.  You are little and time is precious and goes quickly.  We are sorry, to all the people we love, we haven't been in your presence and that you haven't been in ours. 

We, the Hundts, have been sick.... a lot. 

It is the end of March- the first day of spring has come and gone, and less than a week ago, I was still reading a thermometer that said 103.5 from yet another battle in our house with the flu.

This winter gave us germs CONSTANTLY.  We had fevers, sinus infections, pink eye, upset stomachs, upper respiratory infections, more snot than I could have ever imagined was possible, and flus galore... over and over and over. 

When you have five people in your house, it takes a LOOOOONG time for germs to make their way around and then exit.  We would FINALLY get all healthy just in time for something else to come.  

Because of this, we weren't out and about much and we certainly were not trying to give our gems to anyone else.  It was a bit of an isolating winter. 

We were sick the entire month of January, seriously.  Carter even threw up on the way to the airport on January 31st to go to Cancun, Mexico. 

We were healthy in Mexico, go figure, and then all got sick when we got home.  Also, go figure.    

I know a lot of you knew how sick we were because we would constantly be having to apologize for it being so long since we'd seen you.  We would text- I haven't forgotten about us hanging out, we've just had a round of pink eye or I would call and say- It's been forever! I am thinking about you guys all the time, I was just in bed for two days with a gnarly fever.  You knew our situation, but that doesn't change how sad we were to be inside and at home instead of having fun with you.

We are not sorry we tried to keep our germs away from you, but we sure are sorry we haven't been there.  

We hope you can forgive us.  

We also hope that in the near future, we can be germ-free enough to make it up to you if you'll give us the chance...

Please give us the chance.  

Sincerely, with so much love,
The Hundt Family- Josh, Kristin, Nolan, Judah, and Carter 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One-on-One Time With Each Kid

I am one of five kids.

My parents, God bless them, had five children in 10.5 years- four girls, one boy.  Being the oldest, I remember so much of when my younger siblings were little and so much of what it was like to be one of five.  It was loud, crazy, and ridiculously loving.  We had more than enough people to keep us occupied, enough people to play games, enough people to play sports, enough people to play pretend about everything, and plenty of people to conjure up ideas and adventures.  What was tricky, was being able to stand on your own in a family like that- to take time for yourself, to find respite, to be alone if you wanted.  Yes, every kid is different, but you can imagine how easily a brain might be jumbled to try to keep track of five special unique humans. My parents had be so intentional in order to keep up and keep track of our individual talents, our likes and dislikes, our favorite meals, our good friends, and our individual personality traits.

They also had to be intentional to spend time with each of us alone.  Do you know how hard it was for one child to be with one parent for a length of time?  We couldn't even use the restroom without someone barging in let alone being able to spend some quality time with Mom and/or Dad.  

Having three kids of my own, with only two years between them, makes it challenging for Josh and I to continue to let each boys' crown shine brightly on their own.  I want my children to feel part of a cohesive family unit and feel confident and self-aware of their individuality too.  I want them to feel loved, individually by me and individually by Josh and feel like we give each of them quality one-on-one time.  Whew- just reading that back makes me feel overwhelmed.   

I paused to think about this because today, March 22nd, is my half birthday.  To some people, that is no big deal, but in my family, this day matters ;) 

Even though I am 33.5 years old, I still received this text from my mom at 6:34am:

Happy half birthday to you, love you so much, let me know when it's  good day for dessert! Accompanied by a few emoji's of course ;) 

One way my  parents deliberately fit in some alone time with each of their kids was for our birthdays and half birthdays.  For as long as I can remember, my dad would take us out to a special dinner on our birthday alone and my mom would take us out for a dessert on our half birthday alone. Sometimes it would happen a couple of weeks after one of those days and sometimes (in the case of my two sisters who have birthdays in March), it might not have always been one-on-one, but that was always the goal.  Guaranteed quality time.   

Here are a few other ideas that were used when I was growing up, some ideas Josh and I have used with our boys, or some ideas I've read or heard of that I'd like to incorporate into our family:

One-on-One Walks- For us, they are often on the beach at my parents cottage, but could easily be around a neighborhood or in a park.  Spending time individually with each child where there is nothing to do but just talk is a beautiful thing.  

"Raisins"- These are individual small dates (get it?! HA!) with your children.  I must give credit to my mom's friend, Karen, for coining the name.  It can be as grandeur as a planetarium visit or as small as an errand to go pick up library books.  It's great to get a son or a daughter out of the house with just Mom or just Dad.  Josh and I continue to try to make these happen on purpose throughout our year.  Josh got me little "raisins" with each boy for a mother's day present and we've also thought about them as we plan Christmas or birthday gifts.  It's a great way to explore people's individual likes and talents.  For example, Nolan got to go to a special weather day at Impression 5 Science Museum with Josh (the kid is OBSESSED with weather) and Judah got to go play on a playground with Mom (playing outside is his number 1 most favorite thing). 

Cook a Meal Together- My boys do really like to cook, but even when they're not into actually helping me, the illusion that they are making the meal with me keeps them engaged and it's so much fun to mix things, pour/dump things, and play music and do some dancing in the kitchen.  

Play with just Mom or just Dad-  This year, as Nolan and Judah have started preschool, Carter and I get to be totally alone a couple of times a week together and it is obvious how much he appreciates that time with just me.  This individual playtime has been built into our schedule naturally.  We also try to do it on purpose when w are all home together. Josh or I might take Judah downstairs to play a game by himself, Nolan might get to go build something on his own with one of us, or Carter might go upstairs in his room and read some books with Josh or me.  In these moments, each kid can play with what THEY want without worrying if the other two wanted to play with that or not.  

Special Helper- At school, the kids get elected to be the special helper for the day.  I've thought recently how cool that would be to do that at home as well.  Have one kid who is your go-to guy or gal for the day! A kid could also be picked to be your assistant on a home project or chore. 

Birthday Day- I read recently about a family who celebrates the number day of each child's birth each month.  So I was born on the 22nd- the 22nd of each month would be a special day for me.  Stay up a little later?  Maybe get a little treat?  Some one-on-one time?  I dig it... cool idea! Read more about it here

I look forward to continue building things like this into our life so that whether we end up with three kids or eleven, they will know my love and appreciation for each of them.

Thanks for making me feel important as Kristin Marie Pavona not just one of those Pavona kids, mom and dad.  I know it wasn't easy!!!!  I hope my kids will look back on their childhood and feel the same. 

What do you do in your families to help kids get some quality one-on-one time?  I'd love more tools in my toolbox!   

Monday, March 13, 2017

To Amy Krouse Rosenthal- Your Mark On The World & My World

Today our world lost someone important- a beautiful author, filmmaker, do-gooder, joy spreader...

To me, her impact was oh so great- both in my teaching and in the growing and cultivating of life-long readers in my sons.  They- my students and my boys- LOVE her books. 
See her books here . Check them out!

You may have read the dating profile she wrote about  her husband that was posted in the New York Times ten days ago.  If not, read it here.

I read it myself ten days ago and was immediately filled with great sadness and regret.  Here I was, being a huge fan of hers, and I no idea she was even sick- certainly no idea she was dying.  I had also always wanted to thank her for the amazing impact her work has made on me and especially our son, Judah.  I meant to write her a letter or try to send her an email, but I never did.  Tears rolled down my face for most of that morning- out of grief, out of sadness, connecting the love she clearly has for her husband to the love I have for Josh.  

I cried for how much cancer sucks, for how beautifully Amy always lived out her passions and dreams and I cried tears wondering if I was doing the same.  Are my priorities in line?  Do I give enough of my energy, time, and love to causes and people that matter most?  Am I doing enough?  Am I spreading enough joy, hope, love, kindness, compassion?  

I also decided that I need to reach out to her in case there was still time!  I composed a letter and sent it out that very day.  I wanted to share it...

To one of my family’s favorite authors:
I wanted to hand-write this as a hand-written letter is so underrated, but I just have too much to say…

My name is Kristin Hundt and I live and teach in Michigan.  I am a sixth grade educator and my teaching partner Katie (you actually got to meet her and her two sons as you were signing books in Chicago a year ago), have been reading picture books to our students almost every day.  We stumbled upon the Global Read Aloud in 2015 and joined being SO excited for to do the author study, which was you J Studying picture books had already been a part of what we do so it fit perfectly. 

We fell in love with your books right away!  Having our students write about things that aren’t fair or having a deeply globally connected discussion about perspective after reading Duck! Rabbit! added so much value to our classroom.  Our eleven and twelve-year-olds LOVED your books.  Although this experience was important and worth mentioning, that’s actually not why I’m writing to you.

Because we shared your work in our classroom, I also shared your picture books at home with my three little boys.  I have twins, Nolan and Judah, that are now 3.5 years old and another little guy, Carter, who’s 1.5 years old.  They- with their wild imagination, wonderment of the world, and love for reading, also fell in love with your books.  We have basically read your entire library!  Yes Day is a favorite as well as Plant a Kiss, Little Pea, Spoon, and Exclamation Mark

One of my twins, Judah, struggles with his speech.  When we were doing the Global Read Aloud in the fall of 2015 (my twins were a little over two years old at the time), it was one of the most difficult parts his journey- we were talking to his pediatrician about concerns and at home, he was reluctant to try new words.  He was getting angry and frustrated not being able to communicate the way he wanted to. 

One night, we were reading Exclamation Mark.  It was affectionately known in my house as the “yellow book” because Judah loves the color yellow so much.  As I was reading, we came to the page where the exclamation mark is trying out all these new words like “Wow!” or “Boo!” or “Congratulations!”  As usual, I paused hoping the twins would try out those words.  To my surprise and delight, Judah began attempting each and every word.  My eyes filled with tears.  After putting the twins to bed, I walked down the stairs where my husband was doing dishes and the tears continued as I shared with him what had happened. 

I’ve always known that books are amazing and powerful; I’ve loved them all my life.  That day, though, through your words, books took on an entirely different meaning for me as a mother.  I will never, ever forget the moment when my son stepped out of his comfort zone and took some courageous risks with words because he loved a book… your book.  Exclamation Mark will always be so special to me.

Thank you for the work that you do.  Your words have made a mark on this world and a mark on our family and I needed you to know that.

Sending you prayers, hugs, and peace,

The Hundt Family- Josh, Kristin, Nolan, Judah, and Carter

Maybe she was able to get this letter in time and read these words herself.... maybe her husband will see it to know how her spirit will live on and what a great impact her work has had on our world.  

I am so reminded of how precious life is, how precious time is, how important books and written words are, and how important it is to find what you love and do what you love.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Cancun, Colleen's Wedding, and Traveling With Three Little Boys

My whole adult life, I'd always wanted someone I was close with to decide to do a destination wedding.  How incredible to travel to somewhere awesome and celebrate together.  When my sister Colleen announced that her and her finance were going to plan a wedding in Cancun, Josh and I were thrilled.... FINALLY!  Then we remembered... we're parents now.  Now just parents, but parents to three kids under four.  Hmmm.... this was not exactly the destination wedding scenario I had in my mind all those years ago ;) 

However, Cancun is a special place for Josh and I.  We have visited two other times- both at some of the lowest, saddest, and most hopeless points in my life.  We first visited in the midst of our early go-rounds with fertility medicine and doctors appointments; it was a spring break get-a-way escape and was much needed.  Our second visit was the winter after losing my brother and our first miscarriage.  We were so grateful to be showing up again...with a family.

So here's the gist of how everything went down...

We packed as freaking little as possible.  Partially because we flew Spirit who charges just for wearing shoes on the plane it feels like, but mostly because Josh and I only had four hands and four arms to carry every piece of luggage and hold on to three kids in the airport.  That doesn't leave a whole lot of room for things.  Between the five of us, we checked one large suitcase, one small suitcase, and a gym bag (gym bags can be put across your shoulders and leave your hands free... score!). We also had three bags to take with us on the plane- one bag that had toys and snacks to keep us busy, one that had shoes, chargers, technology, books, etc, and one that was basically full of diapers.  Thank goodness Nolan and Judah are at least mostly potty trained, because bringing enough diapers for three kids for a week is legit.  I also brought a small thing of laundry detergent and I washed underwear, shorts, pajamas, and socks in the sink, which helped save some space in our luggage.  

I bought a Nim Nik baby carrier to wear Carter in the airport.  This carrier can hold big kids too, which was just what I needed.  

On the way there, we flew with my two sisters and their boyfriends- thank God.  On the way home, we flew with my parents- again, thank God.  Wearing Carter in the airport was a huge help.  Nolan and Judah were great on the flight.  We didn't even have to get out any technology until the very end of the trip.  They played with games, stickers, and puzzles, and read books and enjoyed being up in the airplane and looking at the clouds.  Nolan's ears bothered him quite a bit.  We gave Carter Benedryl hoping that would help him nap (yes, that's right), but he didn't all asleep.  He did not like being confined to the seat when the seat belt signs were on and Josh spent a good chunk of the plane ride walking him up and down the aisle over and over.  He was in pretty good spirits though.  One of the things that kept him busy was that I put Cheerios or puffs in a pill dispenser thingy and then he had to open all the compartments to find the treats.    

On the way home, the stars were aligned and ALL THREE KIDS SLEPT for some of the flight!  Carter slept almost an hour and a half on me- I did not dare move or breath or talk to anyone. 

With the travel time to the airport, the flight, waiting in the all the lines and such- we traveled for almost 11 hours.  Whew. 
At the Detroit Airport- they have little play areas! 

We stayed at the Royalton Riveria Cancun.  It was incredibly nice, incredibly clean, and although it wasn't geared towards families and kids, they had some awesome things for kids.  Their kiddie pool was great- it was shallow, had a jungle gym in it, and water slides.  Each night from 7-8 there was entertainment for kids like a pirate show or a kid talent show.  

They were also great at having some things that were gluten free for Judah.  At every restaurant, the first question they would ask us was if any people had allergies so they could accommodate.

Our room will probably be the nicest room we will ever stay at.  It was a two-bedroom family suite with a separate master bedroom with a bathroom and then a pull-out couch living room with a wet bar and another bathroom in the other half of the hotel room.  Josh and I slept in the bedroom, Nolan and Judah shared the pull out couch, and Carter slept in a crib that we put in our bathroom.  
Room service?!?! Yes please :)

Tired Twins
The pièce de ré·sis·tance was the swim-up pool we had outside our room.  I never knew I needed that as a part of my travel, but I do. I really do.  This little pool was where we spent more of our time.  So easy to be able to go back and forth between the pool and our room to eat or use the bathroom.  Plus, it was bath-water warm.  
Our room withe swim-up pool <3


Hours and hours of play here

Everyone had a blast and with the exception of Carter pretty much not sleeping the first night, everyone napped and slept great.

We spent our mornings walking around the complex, and playing in the sand by the ocean.  
Good morning!

At the Kiddie pool


Our afternoons were primarily spent at the kiddie pool or our swim up pool and our evenings were spent exploring and swimming some more.  

Josh and I would spend our evenings reading, swimming in our pool, or taking turns going to meet up with my family.  My parents also came over a couple of nights while the boys were sleeping so we could go have a nice dinner just the two of us. 

Dinner at Grazie Italian Restaurant 

Colleen was the most beautiful, calm, serene bride.  The weather was spectacular, the view amazing, and having a smaller wedding made everything feel so intimate. 
Rooftop Wedding Ceremony

Getting ready!

My three boys were ring bearers, but Josh ended up walking down the aisle carrying Judah and a screaming Carter while Nolan walked by himself carrying a pillow with fake rings.  My precious little men were quite the hit, though, especially later on the dance floor at the reception.  
Ring bearers 

Being cute is tiring


Colleen, you were GORGEOUS
Family travel isn't easy, but when my boys are still talking about what they saw and what they did almost a month later, I know it was so worth it.  Taking the time away from work and life was worth it too.  And, having the time where all my sisters and my parents were in the same place at the same time, well there aren't even words to describe how awesome THAT is.  Cancun will always be special to us; coming back, three kids in tow, was surreal. Hasta pronto...

I love you, Cancun.... really.