Tag Archives: kids

Profile in Awesome: Aimie Eckelberg

One of the most popular Under the Tapestry posts to date was the Profile in Awesome featuring Aimee Rathbun.  And I can see why– Aimee really is  awesome!  And she makes for an absolutely riveting read!

Aimee Rathbun is actually one of only FOUR really awesome (Aimee/Aimie/Amy)s that I know. (That, by the way, is the plural of the name A-ME in all its different spellings. You’re welcome.) And for my second profile in awesome, I’d like to tell you about my co-worker, my friend, and all around awesome.com person Aimie Eckelberg.

Aimie started working in the Office of Scientific Writing and Publication shortly after I did in 2011 and good grief am I glad she did. For two reasons: 1) I don’t think I could survive in my job without her, but more importantly, 2) SHE’S AWESOME! She has since moved on to greener pastures as part of the Clinical Medicine and Research staff, but (fortunately for me) her office didn’t move. YAY!

Aimie on the far right-- pretty in pink, adored by her office-mates :)
Aimie on the far right– pretty in pink, adored by her office-mates 🙂

So I asked my friend Aimie Eckelberg to be my second profile in awesome. I was totally anticipating an uphill battle to convince her to participate, but was pleasantly surprised when she quickly said yes. (YES!) However, I perhaps was a bit too coercive and pressure-y (so sorry, Aimie, dear!) and she ended up asking not to write about herself. Although, it wasn’t so much her concern about writing about herself that did her in. Rather, it was her concern about writing about her family and not doing them justice that truly concerned her. Which of course, made my heart swell with pride for being able to call Aimie my friend and made me want to profile her all the more. Considering that this is only the second-ish installment in this series, I think you can probably forgive the departure from the norm.

There are so many things I adore about Aimie! She’s crazy nice, super cute, undeniably stylish, bright (like really bright), 100% mom-spirational, and the type of person who just knows who she is and what she’s doing and does all of it (and more!) in such an admirable way. It’s impossible not to just love her. (Or at least I assume it is, I’d like to see someone try!) To be honest, I loved Aimie from the moment she came in to interview. So much, that I creepily pointed out her perfect and flawless skin as a good reason to hire her. We did. But I’m pretty sure her skin was only part of the reason why.

Aimie grew up with her brother and parents in Spencer, Wisconsin… a town even smaller than Marshfield (believe it or not) just to the northwest of where we are now. Aimie truly embodies what it means (to me, anyway) to be from the Midwest. She is unassuming and hard working. Soft spoken, for the most part, but loyal to the core and unwilling to let something wrong go without taking action.

I absolutely love that Aimie is a local girl through and through. Every day, she demonstrates how much she believes in this community and truly makes me look forward to having lived here longer than not– to have roots in this town like she does. Last night, Aimie invited me to a campaign for Spread the Word to End the Word at her kiddos’ school and I went intending to take a couple pictures of Aimie doing her thang and to talk to Emma and Noah about what it is that, in their opinion, make their mom so dang awesome. I got way more than I bargained for. Of course. Because she’s Aimie. And I plan to tell you all about Spread the Word to End the Word and the awesome Harry and Company puppet show I saw later this week– it’s totally worthy of it’s own post and only goes to prove more and more why the things that Aimie are involved in are good things, for her family and for this community.

In fact, motherhood and kid stuff are the things that seem, at least in my opinion, to make Aimie tick and that’s what I really want to highlight about her.  Aimie is, as I mentioned, 100% mom-spirational and her kids are 1) awesome (likely due to good parenting) and 2) special in a lot of ways.  First off, Aimie’s two little bebes are quintessentially boy and girl and oh so different from each other.  I’m so impressed with how Aimie and her husband parent two such incredibly unique children. Unique and adorable children.

Do you see how adorable these kiddos are?! (Plus, Aimie's skin, right? Cover Girl-style flawless!)
Do you see how adorable these kiddos are?! (Plus, Aimie’s skin, right? Cover Girl-style flawless!)

One of the most amazing things I see about Aimie as a parent is her crazy perseverance.  I’ve only known her for a little over two years, and even in that short time, I have seen her find herself constantly in the position to have to fight, fight, fight for what her children need.  And she does.  She never gives up.

I suppose a little back story is in order. Aimie’s oldest child, Noah, is 10 years old and was born with spina bifida, the most common permanently disabling congenital condition in the United States, which results from failure of the spinal column to close completely. I’d love to say that Noah is completely normal despite his condition, but that wouldn’t be true. Because honestly, nothing about Noah is normal. He is an unbelievably bright and articulate kid. He is fascinating to talk to. (He challenged me to a magical dual last night, by the way. He also schooled me in HP trivia. Awesome kid!)

Noah is hilarious and independent and thoughtful and kind and, not only all of that, but he’s crazy athletic too. Under the tutelage of paralympian Tony Iniguez (like real deal was in the olympics in Beijing, coached in London, for seriously), Noah recently took up wheelchair racing and plans to someday attend the University of Illinois to continue his racing career. And it’s not just racing either! Noah plays sled hockey and basketball and loves just about every active thing he can get himself into– which is legitimately pretty much everything.

And Emma is just as special! It’s incredible the way her shy smile can light up a room. She absolutely beams. Although, the sparkly letters on the back of her Universal Academy of Dance jacket certainly help the case in that respect. Emma is super into dance, and really, really good at it– ballet, jazz, tap, you name it. And she got so into cheerleading this fall that Aimie dusted off her pompoms and practiced her cheers until she ended up as the coach! So fun! Go Tigers! All the little girls adored Aimie (what’s not to adore, right?)… especially when she was “weird”– and that’s a direct quote from one of the girls 🙂

So because her kids are so amazing and because it hurt Aimie to see them struggle at certain things, Aimie opened her big old heart and wrote a book about it. A children’s book.

In 2010, Aimie Eckelberg added author to her resume when she wrote a children’s book called Walk the Walk.

Walk the Walk. Available on Amazon.com.
Walk the Walk. Available on Amazon.

Walk the Walk tells the story of Jon, a little boy with special needs who turns a bit of bullying at the start of a new school year into an opportunity to teach other kids about differences and understanding. And this book has done just that over and over and over again. Noah and Emma’s classes have read the book, Aimie has brought it in and discussed it, Noah has used it as an opportunity to show off his braces and talk about his differences and pretty much always, his peers are fascinated. Aimie has spoken about her book and been an activist for children with special needs through the Children’s Miracle Network and Spina Bifida Association. Her name is passed around by obstetricians here at Marshfield Clinic looking to help families facing new challenges find a mentor. She inspired me to adopt a family this Christmas through the Pediatric Angel Fund. And she is a well-respected and admired member of this community.

The only thing is, despite all of this awesome, Aimie has eaten a large slice of humble pie and any and all of this is dragged out of her or made public knowledge in some other way… otherwise, you’d truly never know. (For example, another coworker, Deb, said to a physician lamenting Aimie’s absence from work one day, “Aimie has a child with special needs AND wrote and published a book about it for other children!” He was floored… and impressed!) But I want you to know how awesome Aimie is and for Aimie to recognize all of the good that she’s done.

To round out this profile in awesome, I really wanted to know what Noah and Emma thought about their mom’s awesome qualities. I’ve got to tell you, though, to them– she’s just mom.

I asked Emma first. Her response: She gives us candy!

To which Noah immediately replied, “Emma! Are you kidding?! She drives you to dance! And pays for your dance!”

So I asked Noah. His response: She pretty much drives me everywhere.

Good point Noah, much better than Emma’s. (sarcasm)

Although, they thought about it on the way home and came up with a lot more reasons. So many reasons that they made me a list and had Aimie bring it to me this morning.

So much awesome!
So much awesome!

Love it! Love it so much! She is a mom through and through, and that’s what her kids see– she loves them and cares for them, she feeds them, clothes them, houses them, she is smart, funny, patient, and giving. Normal mom stuff. And what kind of a testament is that?

A huge one, if you know about the behind-the-scenes. About Aimie’s struggle to get her children the care and support they need in various local school systems. About Aimie’s necessity to fill in and coach cheerleading at the last minute because someone else was going to let the girls down. About Aimie’s ongoing fight to make sure Noah and Emma have every single opportunity they could possibly want– be it educational assistance or wheelchair sports. And the two of them will likely never be the wiser… at least not for a while. Until they are grown up and truly capable of appreciating all of the good and amazing things their mom does. She’s certainly appreciated for it all elsewhere! She is certainly awesome.

Like I said in the beginning, Aimie has introduced me to a lot… and she’s awesome. I can’t wait to tell you about the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign later this week, it’s too cool!

The Most Loved Little Girl in All the World

Being an adult is really interesting because it makes you see your own childhood in a whole different way.  It really makes you think.

And when I say you and your, I suppose what I mean is actually me and my… I can’t expect you to feel the same way, after all.  (Validate meeeeee….)

Until relatively recently, I’ve had very little occasion to actually interact with little kids.  But I’ve had more and more chances lately, especially now that my sister and many of my friends have little ones of their own.  (My baby sister has a baby!  It’s insane, you guys!  Insane!!!)

Being around all these kids, like I said, has been interesting.  Especially because I feel like it’s made me a lot less selfish.  Because I adore these kids!  Adore them!!!  All of them!

Emily and Christian… seriously.  Dreams come true.  Emily is a mini-me, as we’ve discussed before.  And Christian is a comedic genius– A B C D E F… PANTS!

My friend Aimie (that awesome Aimie I told you about the other day) has two little ones as well and the way her son talks and the way her daughter smiles– it just kills me!  Love them!

And of course, I have to mention my sweet little niece– she’s going to be TWO already in a couple of weeks!  What?!  She’s got this crazy little independent spirit and I just love that baby girl!

And then there’s the little sweetheart who got me a ticket on this thought train at her first birthday party last weekend.  Little Lotti (sorry Krystal, names changed to protect the confidentiality of minors) turned one this weekend.

Look at this picture for a moment: All the Cameras

Do you see all those cameras?!  Yep, that’s 6 separate camera screens pointed at that sweet little girl all at once… not to mention mine, which took the picture, and the several other people behind and to the side of me.  As I scrolled through the pictures after the fact trying to find one without a hundred other cameras in it I thought, wow.  Just wow.  There are a lot of people who love this little girl.

And then I thought about her future husband, who was sitting on my lap (another baby I just adore!), and I almost got weepy thinking about the two of them walking down the aisle and dang.  Just dang.

I have a lot of freakishly distinct memories about my early childhood stored up in my big fat brain, and yet, I can only recall feeling loved from the perspective of a small child… and that just doesn’t do it justice.  If I was loved even half as much as these kids are loved by me and all the other adults in their life, then dang.  Just dang.  That’s a lot of love!

So on Saturday, without a doubt, little Lotti was the most loved little girl in all the world.  But I think it’s pretty safe to say that at some point, we all were.  That’s pretty nice, right?

The morning I cast a spell to open the milk.

This morning in Mexico, I was preparing a breakfast of Froot Loops and Zucaritas! (Frosted Flakes) for my two favorite niños, Emily and Christian.  In my very, very limited Spanish, I asked Emily, “Con leche?” With milk? To which she answered, “Si, por favor.”  Yes, please.  (Emily is very polite, even in Spanish… must be good parenting.)

So, I retrieved the carton of milk from the fridge, which was packaged in a very European-style box.  (Except obviously, this is also Mexican-style packaging.  I just didn’t realize it until now.)  Until this point, I had done everything with a flourish to entertain Christian and Emily.  Good morning, darlings, can I pour you a bowl of cereal for breakfast?  And which one would you like– we have honey nut cheerios, froot loops, and zu-ca-RI-tas!

But then I had to open the milk.


Ok, self, you are a PhD-educated adult.  This carton of milk with NOT defeat you.  Use your super-sized problem-solving skills and big, fat, human brain to open this carton.  And while you’re doing it, turn your back to the kids so they don’t see you struggle.

But then I noticed it– LEVANTE!  Lev… lev… lev… wingardium LEViosa?  LIFT?!

Oh, I’m sorry, are you unfamiliar with Harry Potter?  There is a great scene in the first book/movie (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) where Hermione schools Ron on this levitation spell.  It’s wingardium leviOsa not wingardium leviosA!

And yes, I thought of wingardium LEVisosa before I thought of LEVitate.  But think about that for kids… and the incredible impact that reading can have on a child’s capacity to understand words.  Words through context, words through roots, words through association.  That’s awesome!

I went to school for over 20 years and studied lots of different things, but I really think I learned most of the important life-kind-of-things that I know by reading books.  Good books and not-so-good books, I learn something from every single one…

Even spells!


(Whose the nerd now, Tom?!)