Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Earlier this month, Nedy and Kam decided they wanted to be mummies for Halloween.  Nana even cut up old white sheets into strips for the occasion. 

And then the Sunday of Trick-or-Treat both announced, "We don't want to be mummies anymore."  Yeah.  So, apparently they discussed among themselves that being wrapped up from head to toe might inhibit movement and make going to the bathroom a challenge. (I do love the fact that the 4 and 6 year olds were the ones who identified this flaw in the costume design...)

They had new ideas.  Nedy wanted to be a witch and Kam a pirate.  In ten minutes I scrambled around the house gathering anything remotely witch or pirate-like.  And here you have it:

Yep, I'm sort of proud of myself.  They got to be what they wanted and I showed them some super speedy Mama resourcefulness...with pretty cute results.  :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Nedy begged long enough that we finally gave in. 

We now have two kids who are encouraged to practice kicking, punching and yelling.  I'm so proud.  :)


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nedy's First Day of First Grade

Nedy is officially a first grader!  After a few run-throughs last night of how to greet new people and introduce herself, she marched into the classroom like a pro this morning.  (Of course, it helps that her friend Ellena and neighbor Jack are friendly faces in the classroom crowd.) 

Nedy is in the MAC (Multi-Age Classroom) program, which means she is in a class of 42 first and second graders with two teachers.  She will be in that class again next year (as an "older") and will then move with the other kids her age to the next round of MAC for third and fourth graders, followed by MAC for fifth and sixth graders.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  ;) 

Ready to go!

Nedy and Ellena

The MAC classrooms are quite large and the kids work at tables, not at desks.
This photo is of morning "line time"--Mrs. French is sitting on the stool and
Mrs. Cassidy is on the floor. They seem like a dynamic duo! 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dad's Memorial (June 14, 2014)

Dad was very specific before his passing that he didn't want a "funeral"; i.e. people sitting around crying, wallowing in sadness.  He would say, "I've lived a life second to none.  I know you think I'm exaggerating when I say it, but I did."  His instructions were to "get together for a little thing with the family" and remember him.  "Your mother says you can do it at the church--but I mean it, Jenny, I don't want you all sitting around sad.  I've lived a life second to none."

We decided shortly after his passing to wait a few weeks and have his memorial on Saturday, June 14, so that we could prepare for the day and be in a place emotionally to honor Dad's request.  The day was beautiful--a perfect 70 degrees with pure sunshine and no wind, just as Dad loved it.  The service began at 10:00 at a very packed (no seats to spare!) New Life Church in Cedarburg.  Family friend, Paula, sang Amazing Grace acappella--no pun intended, but it was amazing. Josiah, Samuel and John Thomas delivered beautiful readings and Nedy played 'Twinkle' on her violin.  Jackie and I delivered a eulogy that was "half tear-jerking, half Saturday Night Live skit," according to Dan.  It was perfect in my book, as I imagine Dad absolutely loved it for its focus on family...and humor.  Dan, Aunt Janet, Josiah, Mary Anne and Reagan all added stories and thoughts.  The service ended with a beautiful rendition of "I'll Fly Away" (one of Dad's Branson, MO favorites) by Reagan and Mary Anne.  The service was personal, meaningful, uplifting, and reflective of who Dad was--and is as he lives on in all of us.  In accordance with our instructions, I think we knocked it out of the park.  ;)
Afterward, everyone went across the street to Dad's favorite walking spot, Cedar Creek Park.  At 11:30, the U.S. Air Force and local American Legion post bestowed Military Honors in a moving, formal ceremony.  (Am I the only person who cries every time I hear Taps?)  Mom stood at center, us kids behind her in a row.  After the flag folding and rifle salute, the flag was brought to Mom by the Air Force representatives.  And sincerely and quietly, on behalf of the President of the United States and the United States Air Force, he thanked my Mom for my Dad's service to our country and made note that it's not often that he has had the chance to perform this ceremony for someone who went through what Dad did at war, and that it was his absolute honor and privilege to do so.  Unbeknownst to us, but captured by a few folks watching the ceremony, an eagle was circling high overhead.  Amazing.
And then there was delicious lunch catered by Out-and-Out and fellowship of friends old and new.  So many people shared such wonderful memories, usually about Dad's fun-loving spirit and his adoration of his kids, which apparently was slightly irritating to a few people when we were younger. ;)  Funny.
The day closed with a coin hunt in the park.  Dad had always been on the lookout for coins as he walked.  He used to say that it got harder over the years because people didn't carry cash so much anymore.  So as a special tribute, we threw lots and lots of pocket change into the area behind the pavilion--right where Dad walked every day and fed the ducks--and set the children loose.  It was delightful to see their excitement as they hunted for coins in the grass; I know Dad absolutely loved it. 
Person after person has told me it was the most wonderful of life celebrations because they felt his spirit there, that the day truly reflected him.  I look at a memorial as a final gift you give a person; a marking of their legacy.  As my friend Aleece said, "You guys did an amazing job."  I agree.  :)  The day was beautiful, almost perfect, but that he wasn't there to enjoy it with us.
Special thanks to my friend Elisabeth for taking this gorgeous photo for us that afternoon:


Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Dad.

John Vincent de Montmollin of Cedarburg peacefully transitioned to Heaven on May 20, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. at the age of 90 years and 9 months.  Beloved husband of Elizabeth (nee Kochanski) for 46 years.  Loving Dad of Lisa (Tim) Tamsen of Grafton, Jackie (Aaron Layman) de Montmollin of Katy, TX, John (Alyssa Stephenson) de Montmollin of Fond du Lac, and Jennifer (Dan Merkel) de Montmollin of Shorewood.  Proud Papa of Josiah, Samuel, John, Aidan, Julia, Tommy, Nedy, Yubin, Vivian, and Kamron.  Brother-in-law of Janet Stamper of Grafton.  Dancing in Heaven with his much-missed granddaughter, Libby.
Born August 8, 1923 in Milwaukee to Mabel (Peterson) and John Samuel de Montmollin.  An adventurous character always, his childhood stories include having leapt off his third story apartment fire escape to three feet of freshly fallen snow below.  He would always add, “And I thought mid-air, ‘I shouldn’t have done this’ — but it was too late!”  In what would become typical form for his life, he landed unscathed.  At age 11, with nothing more than six soda crackers and 37 cents in his pocket, he hitchhiked from Milwaukee to Van Nuys, California to visit his Grandma “Big Mama” and his Aunt Vivian.  From sleeping in straw piles, riding box cars and catching rides with truckers, many of whom bought him meals along the way, he eventually made his way.  He stayed a week and rode the Greyhound bus back, as insisted upon by his aunt who also gave him $2.00 for his trip home. “A fortune back then; hamburgers were a nickel,” he often recalled.
In September of 1942, de Montmollin enlisted in the army to serve in World War II.  He was placed in the Army Air Corps, the forerunner to the United States Air Force.  On his 18th mission on May 14, 1943 over Kiel, Germany, his B-17 was shot down and he and the rest of the crew parachuted to capture.  He spent the next two years of his life as a prisoner of war, first in Germany for a few months, and then at Stalag XVII B prison camp in Austria until the end of the war.
Home from the war in 1945 and reenlisted as a reservist, he worked hard day to day to go about a carefree civilian existence of work and play, with memories of his P.O.W. days ever-present.  Twenty years after returning from the war while working as a photofinisher at L.L. Cook Company in Milwaukee, he met a delightful young woman who immediately caught his eye for her tremendous work ethic, and also, perhaps, her smashing good looks.  In 1967, de Montmollin married Elizabeth (Liz) and insisted that her five-year-old daughter, Lisa, join them as they tied the knot in Las Vegas and honeymooned at Disneyland.  A year later, as soon as the law permitted him to do so, he formally adopted Lisa, though he had made her his daughter from the start.
From that point on, his life was about his family.  Shortly after marriage, the family built a home in Grafton, back when Grafton was “way out there” and mostly corn fields.  He and Liz went on to have three more children.  He was the kind of dad who took his family to Harrington Beach on random summer days, who played “pop fly” catch in the backyard for hours at a time, who got up at 4:00 a.m. to help his kids with their paper route (and didn’t even wake them up on the super cold days, but did the route himself), who sat bedside with a flu-stricken kid giving them sip at a time of 7-Up all the while telling them, “I wish it was me who was sick, not you.”  Simply put, he was there.  He gave the very best of himself to his children.
He was blessed to see each child grow up happy and healthy, get married, and have children — like him, both by birth and adoption.  He was blessed to experience tremendously good health his whole life, allowing him to experience many family trips later in life, to places such as Hawaii, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, and annual family trips to Door County.  He loved nothing more than being all together with his children and grandchildren.  At the age of 87, he walked three miles each day at Cedar Creek Park in Cedarburg, one of his favorite places.  He always said, “I think better when I walk — but not when I walk on concrete, it has to be a squishy path.”  Though his body started to slow at 87, he still walked at least a mile each day until 89 when his health became more challenged.  In the end, though he battled aggressive lymphoma, he did so with his trademark strength, selflessness, and humor.  His children are blessed and honored to have spent so much of the week of his passing together with him and Liz at their Cedarburg home.
“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” -C. B. Kelland

Life Celebration on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at New Life Church, N56W6093 Portland Road in Cedarburg at 10:00am.  Picnic lunch and Military Honors to follow at Cedar Creek Park Pavilion, located across the street from the church.  In lieu of flowers, a fund has been established at Associated Bank in memory of John for a legacy gift to Cedar Creek Park.  Donations to the John V. de Montmollin Cedar Creek Park Memorial Fund can be made in person at any Associated Bank branch, or can be mailed to Associated Bank at 1930 Wisconsin Avenue, Grafton, WI 53024.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shocked, Mom?

I've been putting off making blog posts because I am years behind with no time to catch up.  So apparently my solution has been to get further behind with absolutely, positively no fathomable way to catch up...yeah.

So, this is no attempt at meaningful catch-up, but rather a post simply to shock my Mom who still faithfully checks this blog and, as faithful as she is, I am quite sure never actually expects to see a post.  This one's for you, Mom.  (And the pics are off my phone--sorry.  Dan's new computer should have the "no decent pics!" issue remedied, soon.) 

Okay, a bit of cursory catch up.  Kamron is 3, turning 4 (gasp!) in June.  He is a man of extremes, either 100% delightful or 100% pain, with very little in between.  He is husky, hard-headed (figuratively and literally), task-oriented, and plans to drive the truck that empties portable toilets when he gets bigger.  (Not kidding.)  He might just be the best helper I've ever met.  He sets the table, pours milk and serves food at dinner, vacuums, scrubs toilets, rakes, and loves helping Grandpa fix his new skid loader.  He loves reading books, playing instruments, all Jason Aldeen songs and is working on his rapping skills.  (See what I mean?  Country and rap?  Man of extremes.)  He is quick-witted and very articulate, except when things don't go his way and then he erupts into a fit that I'm pretty sure can be heard in Korea.  Thankfully, those fits are not as common as they once were, though still more common than I'd like.  He recently learned to write his name, but not without bribes of chocolate--academics are not his area of interest at present.  Machines, chocolate, Monsters, Inc., iPhones/iPads, playing in dirt/sludge/mud, riding his bike, and the general adoration of his sister rank high.  To some extent, Kam seems afraid to try new things initially because he instantly wants to be as good as his sister at everything, but we're working on that.  From his perspective, she is the proverbial "tough act to follow".  Kam will start school later this summer at MorningStar Montessori and I'm pretty sure having his "own school" will help him bloom.  He is not destined for wallflowerdom.  Not on my watch.  ;)

Kam and Nedy "fishing" in one of the ponds at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.
Blurry, I know, but stinkin' cute nonetheless.  :) 
(And yes, Dan is building our cabinet doors soon. Ahem.)
Kennedy (Nedy) is 6.  For the record, I have no idea how that happened.  Wasn't she just 4?  Nedy is in kindergarten at MorningStar Montessori in Cedarburg.  She has such a love of learning--forever asking how things work, why things are as they are, etc.  She is fascinated by what is happening in the world and has information processing abilities beyond her years.  I can't even count the number of times people have referred to her as an "old soul."  Last week, after Nedy's near-constant urging, Dan and I took her to the BodyWorlds exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  In typical Nedy fashion, after 6 hours at the museum she complained that we had to go, "But we just got here!  There's so much more to see!"  Nedy is hooked on the joy of reading and was so excited to get her very own library card a few weeks ago--she signed the back of it in her beautiful cursive and said, "This is so OFFICIAL!"  She has lost 2 teeth with several others loose.   Her great joys in life are reading Beverly Cleary books, cooking/baking, playing in the dirt, bugs, jungle gyms/ monkey bars, pogo-sticking, bike riding, olives and potato chips.  She takes individual and group violin, dance, and recently she and Kamron started swimming lessons.

Kamron's swimming class.
Kam (center) getting ready to jump in.  Can you see his smile in his cheeks?
Nedy (red suit) getting ready for her jump.
More hours in the day, please.  :)