The Pontow Family Blog

The Pontow Family Blog

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

20 years how can it be....

It is hard for me to put into words how I am feeling these days. I have very mixed emotions. I am so blessed this year to have had new friendships born and an AMAZING support system around me who have cheered me on as I have ventured down a path I never thought I would be going down 20 years ago.

As I sit here thinking about where I was 20 years ago today it is all very clear. I was sitting at Lutheran General Hospital with my sister, Meggan and her friends. Hoping and praying and praying and hoping that my sister would not die. Asking myself why why WHY?? I do not sit here dwelling on what I could have done or what could have been. But, I reminisce on what we had as sisters. It is not something that can ever be replaced. My heart aches for a chance to talk to her and just hug her. I cherished my time with her even if sometimes we were fighting over clothes or the phone.

I cherish watching my daughters together with each other when they are playing or even fighting.
I cherish listening to Ally talk about her Aunt she has never personally known, but acts as if she just played with her yesterday.
I cherish the excitement my son, Jack, shows when we see our caterpillars turn into butterflies...
I cherish my talks with my Meggan about her aunt who she is named after.
I cherish hearing my kids saying they wished they had known their Aunt Meggan.
I cherish having my Meggan tell me that she would like her own picture of her aunt in a frame for by her bed.
I cherish listening to my sister's friends continue to keep the girls memories alive!
I cherish my friends who have encouraged me to speak from my heart and who have supported me and been my own personal cheerleaders as I embark on a mission to change at least 1 person's life every day.
I cherish every person that tells me that my speeches or stories have touched their lives.

And yet with all of this positive energy around me I can't help but still be sad over each of these things. It is sad that 2 people could affect so many people's lives for so many years. And that is why I know the mission I am on with speaking to DUI offenders and to schools is what I need to be doing. I know you can't save everyone but touching one life is well worth it.

Below is a link to the video of my 1st High School speech I gave to a group of 200 students and their parents in September at Kimberly High School in Kimberly, WI.

I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. - by Diane Ackerman

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PHS KUNI to be applauded

The Prospect High School Knights Under No Influence (KUNI) are to be commended for the video that they shared with the entire school on Wednesday, 11/9. My family is truly touched by them not forgetting about our girls. To view the video click here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Papa!

Happy birthday to my dad or Papa/Grandpa as the kids call him. What a great day we had celebrating his youth. :) All the grandkids got to spend time with him laughing and playing together.
Oh these cousins sure are smiley!!
All the girls and Jack and Sox. :)
Yep I could photograph my nephew Patrick all day. So sweet...
I think this is a great shot of my niece Erin. I really caught her off guard when I took this, but such a beautiful young lady!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pictures Pictures Pictures....

So, those that know me know I have a real thing about a pictures. I am always taking my camera wherever I go so I can take pictures at any time. So, a year or so ago it was suggested that maybe I should go to school and learn how to use my camera and start taking pictures for family and friends. Chad bought me an amazing camera (Canon EOS 7D). And now I am in school to learn how to use it the right way without having to photoshop or use aperture to fix the pictures. :)

I also have created a photo website for my future business (I HOPE). :) I am currently taking pictures of friends kids and family for free while I get myself comfortable with this new adventure. Check out that site for more details or to book a sitting with me. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Let her shine....

On Saturday, Meggan danced in her first feis the Pat Roche Feis in Rosemont, IL. We drove down on Friday to my parents house in Mt. Prospect and took Meggan to the pre-feis workshop that the Trinity Irish Dancers put on. It was an amazing experience for Meg. The workshop was exactly what she needed to help alleviate her nerves of what exactly was going to happen at the feis. We told her all she needed to do was keep smiling because her smile could light up a city!

So Saturday morning we got up bright and early (I don't know if all of us were really bright at that time) and headed off to the feis. The nice thing about the feis world is that they have a special competition that is for 1st time "feisers". They give out medals to everyone in that category. But, what we did not know was that the adjudicator (judge) actually picks 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. So, Meg was done dancing her Jig and Reel around 9am. We then had to wait until 10:30 for the results.

So, Meg got 3rd place in her Reel and then 1st place in her Jig. The excitement she had when she realized she was getting medals for her place and got to stand on a podium was pretty exciting! Of course given this was her 1st feis we had to go and get the lanyard for her to put her medals on so she could wear them around. She would not take them off. In fact this morning she got up and went right for her medals.

What an amazing experience this was for Meggan. Her smile was priceless as she danced. Her bow to the judge and the musician was precious too. She kept practicing how she bowed to them. So sweet. So, it looks like we will be joining the world of feising. We are so proud of Meg and all the nerves and fear she overcame to do the feis! No matter what place she would have gotten she will always be a winner in our eyes!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where are we going?

WOW. October is upon us. Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I just love looking at the trees as they change color. I love that sweatshirt wearing kind of weather... It is also the time of year when we start new activities, whether it be school activities or extra curricular.
Not only are the kids starting new activities, like Ally starting Irish Dance, Jack starting Cub Scouts and Meg competing in her first Irish Dance feis, but I too am trying new things. I have started my photography classes which I am soo very excited about! I am also taking a knitting class. And come November I might even get to do a cake decorating class! How about that!
I think this year has really been a year of new beginnings for my family. We have all started to do so many new things in order to continue to grow. We are really finding our way this year. We look forward to all that the school year will bring for our kids this year. We have already received our 1st talk from Ally's teacher about her listening and chatty skills. Yep, I have been talking about it for years. And she has the perfect teacher to nip it in the butt that is for sure!!
My hope is that I will be able to get back to blogging on a regular basis. I have also created a photography website, where I will be posting pictures that I take, etc. So, check it out! My photo website.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hear it loud and hear it clear...

It seems that this year I have really come into my own. I have truly stood up for myself and the things that I believe in and as a result have once again let people go from my life or have improved relationships with others. Doesn't that seem odd as a 39 year old mom of 3 I am just now coming into my own? I have finally had the courage to speak publicly about my sister. I think my biggest fear dates back to 15 years ago when my parents and I went to a Compassionate Friends convention and I was asked to read a poem I had written for my sister to everyone at the convention. I pretty much cried thru the entire poem. My emotions were very raw as it had only been 5 years since Meg had died. My fear with speaking was that I did not want people to see a weak side of me. But, I have realized that is what makes my experience so real and maybe something that some people can't handle or don't want to be a part of.
The opportunity was one that I just stumbled upon. I was talking to some of the Irish Dance mom's on St. Patrick's day and my friend, Leah, commented about how moved she was by my sister's story on my blog. One of the mom's, Janine, wanted to know the story so I gave a brief explanation. She then said would you come speak for me. I was a little taken aback, because I had never thought I could speak. This is just my low self esteem on speaking or acting in the public. I thought about and said sure I think I could do this. She explained that she teaches a mandatory class for our county for 1st DUI offenders. Of course we all know that these are probably not really 1st time offenders, just 1st time caught...
Anyway, from there I started writing my speech. I had never in the 20 years since my sis died actually wrote "the story" of what our family went thru. No one had ever really heard what it was like for us in our community. A great amount of tears came with writing my speech, but it was good tears. Ones that I probably had held back for many years. I was able to take my anger and put it to use in a positive way. I then gave my speech to Chad to read. I couldn't even read it to him, because of how vulnerable I felt. It took me many times reading it on my own before I was able to read it out loud. I gave the speech to my friend and we setup the 1st class I would come to speak for.
It was an amazing feeling telling the story to these individuals. I walked away feeling like so much weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Over a year ago I had contacted the local high school where we live and asked about coming to talk. But they had said they did not have a need for something like that. It was a heart breaking. But, when this opportunity arose I decided to send that individual my speech. I did not hear back from that individual so then another friend told me to contact the principal and assistant principal. And that is what I did. They were totally on board to have me come in. They put me with the individual that runs the Promisemaker group. This is a group where the kids promise to stay away from drugs and alcohol. She and I talked in May and we setup to have me be their speaker for the open house meeting they have right after school starts. So, on September 18th I will speak to a room full of kids that were my sister's age and their parents. It will take a lot of strength for me to be able to do this because I think the story of Meg will hit home with the parents and teens. Or at least I hope it will. I am also meeting on October 11th with our counties DA department and one of the judges to talk about me joining their Victims Impact Panel board. This would be the chance to give my speech to 2nd time (or greater) DUI offenders who have to attend this panel.
I know my family and friends have supported me thru this process and cheered me on. I could not do this if I did not have the encouragement from all of you. For that I am very grateful of what 2011 has brought me already. I look forward to continuing to share Meg's story and have made it my mission to tell it.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Whirlwind weekend...

Can you believe summer is so close to being over? It really feels like it has flown by. I know for me I am ready for the kids to go back to school. The past couple weeks have been a bit rough with the fighting going on. I guess they have had a wee bit too much together time. :)

This past weekend was a very busy one down by my parents house. We had our annual Pontow kids birthday party with all of my family. Originally this has been scheduled for June but the Mt. Prospect tornado hit and my folks were without power for many days... It was a great night on Friday with all of the cousins playing together. I don't think we could have asked for more perfect weather that night. And we all got to enjoy yummy catering from my all time favorite place, Portillo's! Take a look at the photo album to the right of all of the great pics from the party.

The party time was not over after Friday night. We then celebrated my cousin Mike and his beautifully pregnant wife, Stef's, baby shower. We are all so very excited for them. They are going to be AMAZING parents and that little baby is going to be so loved! Ally has told her godfather lots of names that she thinks would work for the baby. And every time Ally sees Stef she rubs her belly and kisses it. So, sweet to see her like that. 

We ended the weekend by having a cousin outing to see Cars 2. The kids had a blast and yes we took up an entire row at the movie theatre. Next movie we will all see together is the Muppet Movie in November. My Aunt Eileen really got us kids hooked on the Muppets when we were kids, so we look forward to all going to see this one and even Aunt Eileen will go with. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Precious Meggan!

Yesterday marked Meg's 6th birthday. And it was quite a day! She started her day off with her favorite breakfast of french toast. Homemade by mom because that is her favorite version of them! Then off to baseball we went where they actually got to play a game!

Later in the day Renee, our babysitter, took Meggan to Kim's place for some ice cream. What a special treat that was for her! And what a sweet girl Renee is to do something like that with just Meg.

Once Chad arrived home she was anxiously awaiting opening her birthday presents. She got her 1st set of rollerblades, not sure she is quite ready for this, but we have them to start trying out. And she got some books from the Junie B. Jones series. She was very excited. We had swimming lessons last night then and so we decided to go out to dinner for her birthday. All in all it was a great day! We are so glad Meg was born. She is such an amazing little girl. So, good to her brother and sister and such a great helper to me!!

Next up: Tea Party on Sunday with some of Meg's friends....

Friday, May 13, 2011

May already??

I am not sure where the time has gone. It feels like we were just shoveling snow (oh wait we were only a few weeks ago). This has been one of the longer winters I have experienced in WI. Not sure why that is. It is not like we had a great deal of snow this year, but it seemed like it just dragged on. Maybe the getting snow in April is what did us in. But, we are so grateful to now have some nice weather in between the rainy days.

In the next couple weeks the kids will finish up yet another year of school. WOAH! Can't believe Jack is going to be in 2nd grade and Meg in 1st. Today, Ally graduated from her preschool class at the YMCA and her speech school will finish up in 2 weeks. She was pretty excited about the graduation! All week she has been practicing her graduation song. She is even more excited to be at the same school as her big brother and big sister next year. WOW all 3 at the same school. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my brothers and I were at Fairview together. We even had some of the same teachers which was cool. She even asked the "grandma" like 4K teacher that Meg had if she would teach her next year. We wish that was the case, but Mrs. Olds is retiring this year. But, there will be many more years for her to follow in their footsteps with the same teachers.

I don't know about anyone else, but I am actually excited for school to be done this year. Of course I am sure 1 week into summer I will be wishing they were back in school. :) But, it will be nice to not have so much back forth between schools. The summer calendar is already filling up fast for us. Jack and Meg will be going to their 1st away camp for 3 days. It is up near Aunt Stacy/Uncle Dan and Grandma/Grandpa cottages. So we will take them there and then go stay at Jean/Tim's cottage with Ally. We will make a little vacation out of it. I think they are really going to love it, especially when they saw all the stuff they will get to do there. And of course it wouldn't be summer without baseball for Jack (and even Meg this year)!

So, we hope everyone has great end to the school year and a great start to summer. Let there be good weather, good times and best of all good memories!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The life of an Irish Dancer...

What a couple of weeks we have had. Meg started her 2nd year of Irish Dance in the fall and it is amazing to see what she has accomplished in that short amount of time. I have a lot of sentimental thoughts when watching Meg dance. It reminds me of when I was a kid. I still remember the Chicago St. Patrick's Day parades that I walked in. Probably because I was scared to death of walking over the bridges as a kid in my ghillies. I thought for sure my foot would get stuck.

Anyway, 2 weeks ago Meg's group (Trinity Irish Dancers) began the busiest time of year. One of the many wonderful things about Trinity is that they have an Outreach day where we go and give back to the community. The girls dance at nursing homes and fundraisers and there is no charge. This year the girls danced for the St. Baldrick Foundation in Green Bay. It was a bit chilly in the tent where they danced, but the girls did awesome and you never would have known they were as cold as they were.

After that they danced at 2 nursing homes in Appleton. It is always so nice to see how happy the residents are when the girls come through to dance. It is their smiles that really make the running around all worth it!

On St. Patrick's Day we then went around to 5 different schools and also did a big show at night at the New "Dublin" London high school. As exhausting as it was spending the day running around it is truly a great organization to be a part of. The mom's and dad's I have come to know are an amazing bunch! And it is so incredible to watch the girls together. The older girls have been raised to be such great role models to the younger ones. And I know Meg looks up to these girls and inspires to be like them! It is always nice when you can be a part of something with people that have the same values as you do and will look out for your children if you are not there every second.

And this is how some days end....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Toothless wonder...

There he is all smiles over the missing tooth. Of course we weren't so happy when it happened, but by morning he was pretty happy. And the tooth fairy left him a gold dollar. WOO HOO!! He seemed pretty happy by that.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tornado Ally turns 4!!

On Tuesday, Ally turned 4. It was a very exciting day as she woke up and realized it was her birthday. She sang to herself throughout the day as I am sure many 4 year old may do. She brought cupcakes to school with princesses on top of them. It was all very exciting. She continually announced to everyone that it was her birthday and even tried to guilt a few family members (Nama, Papa, Stef, Jimmy, Molly and Erin) into coming to see her on her birthday.

The night ended with a trip to the local restaurant for some ice cream. This Saturday we will have a birthday cake and little party with Chad's family and my parents. It should be a nice gathering to close out the birthday season. It has been quite a year with Ally. We are hoping her 4th year of life will be fabulous and that it brings a new personality that is a bit "quieter". We love the humor she brings to the family and know that will never leave her little body. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday sweet redhead Jack!

It is hard for me to believe that 7 years ago I became a mom for the 1st time. I remember that day as if it happened yesterday. I don't remember the pain, but I remember thinking I wet myself during the night and then taking my time showering and eating because I did not know how long it would be before I could have food again. When we got to the hospital around 6am I found out I was about 7 centimeters dilated. And I was not feeling that much pain. Some discomfort but not at all what I thought I was going to feel. I went in saying I wanted all the drugs so I wouldn't feel anything. And ended up only having a little bit of pain medicine.

He arrived 2 weeks early and with a full head of red hair. I still remember the denial Chad was in on that day and several days (maybe even months) after Jack's birth that his hair was not really red. Poor Chad did not want a redhead because he thought it meant he would be a wild devil child. But, you know what he is an amazing little boy. He has the biggest heart and is so funny! I am so blessed to have this boy in my life and don't know what I would do without him. Jack we are so glad you were born and we love all your red hair and every last freckle!!