Life & Balance by Carolyn Serpe

Life & Balance by Carolyn Serpe

Carolyn Serpe is a Kenosha native who’s family owns The Lettering Machine in Downtown Kenosha. She has been manager for the shop since her parents purchased it from the previous owners back in 2002. Carolyn is a Mom to 3 beautiful girls and a wife for 10 years to her handsome husband Chris.

Welcome to her crazy journey in life and read all about how she tries to balance it all.

Our Quarantine Puppy

“In April near the beginning of the pandemic, it (Shelter Animals Count) saw the national pet adoption rate jump 34 percent over the same time a year earlier, according to the group’s ‘Covid-19 Impact Report.’” – The Washington Post. Yes…we were one of those families that adopted a puppy amidst the lock down…even though it took a while to find one.

Chris and I have both grown up with dogs and it was no doubt we would have one added to our family eventually. I was the one that kept putting off the addition for many years, till I came across our little cutie, Chase! Why were we looking now? Well the same reason everyone else was, someone was home all the time and it was a great opportunity to get a puppy aquatinted and trained. We were looking for a specific breed/s of puppy, but every time we found one through the shelters, they were gone in a heart beat. An application would go in and the waiting game would start. Every single one we requested was taken, and it was heart breaking. NEVER did we think that we could get attached to a puppy by looking at their photo online! But we did…many times.

Finally, June came around and we decided to reach out to the coordinator, Stephanie, at Hoovers Hause All Dog Rescue. We were inquiring about a couple puppies from a litter and, once again, they were already adopted. But there was one more male from the litter that was available, so she suggested our Chase. We jumped on the opportunity to take this spunky little guy home with us. Working with this rescue was super easy and a great experience. We got to meet the foster family and learn as much as we could about the puppy and get all the tips and tricks from them. They even gave him a going away gift!


As much as we love him, raising a puppy is never easy, no matter the breed. Thankfully, my parents got us the best Christmas gift ever…dog training! LOL! They hooked us up with Sarah, owner of Brainy K9 Dog Training. She was a amazing! She coached us on how to get Chase to stop jumping on everyone (except for our buddy Roy), how to follow simple commands (sit, stay, leave it) and how to walk better on the leash, just to name a few. Sarah also did a great job working with our girls and teaching them how to train Chase. If you ever need help or guidance with your furry one, look her up!

This month Chase turns 1. We can’t believe that he has been with us for almost a year already! He is such a good pup, except when he gets bored and eats the couch :(. He is such a big lover and lets Mommy snuggle and give him way too many kisses. He even deals with the torture from 3 little girls on the daily! He loves his walks with Daddy and playing with his doggy bestie Emmit. We couldn’t imagine our lives without him in it. He is one of the positive things that came out of this pandemic.

Did you add a 4 legged family member? We would love to hear about it!

Shoot us an email and share your story! (cserpe.blogger@gmail.com)

Thanks for reading – Carolyn 🙂

Please check out

Brainy K9 Dog Training: http://www.brainyk9dogtraining.com/

Like Hoovers Hause All Dog Rescue on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HooversHauseAllDogRescue

Hoovershausealldogrescue.com

The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!
(This article first appeared in the 4/08/21 issue of the Smart Reader)

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Cookies, Cookies & More Cookies

It is that time of the year that we all get super excited for…Girl Scout Cookies!! That is right…those cute little girls that sit outside of the grocery stores and ask you, “would you like to buy any Girl Scout cookies?” are back. You feel obligated to purchase to help support the troop and show them that the hard work they are doing pays off. Either you are the type of person where you take a box and throw it in the freezer or the back of the cabinet, to only find it STILL there a year later when you go to add to the collection. Or, you are the eat-them-all-in-one-sitting type of person. Me, I am both!

I am actually one of the lucky ones that gets to help with not 1, but 2 little troops. Our youngest Charlie is not quite of age yet, but Clara (9) is a Brownie and Callie (7) is a Daisy.

Now, running a Girl Scout troop is not an easy feat and would be beyond hard if you had to do it on your own, but I have the absolute privilege of leading with some lovely Ladies. Tiffany Vasquez, Jennifer Limbach and Stephanie Maack. On top of leading the troops, all of us work full time and have 0-4 kids at home, so balancing can get tricky and leaning on each other is a MUST!

Cookie sales in the past have been something that the troops really look forward to. We gear up the ladies and teach them how to talk to customers, how to work with money, how to goal set, how to manage the money afterwards and what to do with what we raise. For our troop we get to use some of the profits towards signing each of the girls up for the next year, so the fee isn’t a burden on our families and can keep the girls active with our troop. It also goes toward supplies for the meetings and the girls get to decide what community activity they would like to do the following year. For instance, one of our troops earned their money patches by “shopping” our pretend store for school supplies. They each filled a small backpack with supplies and brought them to the the K.H.D.S office for the kiddos in foster/respite care. Not only did they learn about how to handle money, but also about how fortunate they are.

Tiffany and I had moms that were leaders as well, and those were moments we will always remember. We couldn’t wait to spend that time with our girls and hopefully embarrass them to the fullest! But, scouts is way more involved than we remember it being when we were younger. It is not just arts and crafts anymore. Each petal or badge or patch, has many components to earn them. We work hard to make sure our meetings are fun and they learn as much as possible.

But it all boils down the to the cookies. They have always been the symbol for the Girl Scouts. This year we thought that selling would be too hard with the COVID restrictions, but our community came out to support and the response was overwhelming.

Thank you so much for your continued support in helping these young girls…and keep eating those cookies!

Our girls would love to know…What is your favorite cookie? Shoot me an email and let us know (cserpe.blogger@gmail.com)

Thanks for reading – Carolyn 🙂

The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!
(This article first appeared in the 3/25/21 issue of the Smart Reader)

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COMING UP ON A YEAR

March 13, 2020 is when our world came to a halt. We received the dreaded email from our school, SJCA, stating that they were closing the doors, due to the pandemic, immediately. I remember EXACTLY where I was and what I was doing when I received this message, very much like how I remember 9/11. My heart sank and fear set in. I had to pull my “mom van” over to compose myself. I must state, that I am an extremely emotional person to start with. They do say that motherhood can make you that way, but honestly, I think it just boosted an emotion factory that was already in overdrive! I called my husband in tears as we tried to figure out how on Earth we were going to explain to an 8 and 6 year old that they were going to be in lockdown for God knows how long. That they wouldn’t be able to see their extended family and friends in person.

This flipped their worlds upside down. But, Chris and I saw first hand, just how resilient children can be.

Let me tell you, these Teachers, ALL TEACHERS, truly stepped up for our children. In the drop of a dime, they had to change everything they knew and try to navigate uncharted waters. They even had to put their own children aside at times to make sure that ours were taken care of. They tried to keep as much normalcy as they could. From 3K-12th grade SJCA, specifically, rocked virtual teaching! Yes, there were some hiccups, but they put their hearts and souls into making this the best experience they could. We could not have asked for a better school to be a part of during this historical time.

I would not do this blog justice without citing the 2 most important teachers in my life. My sister, Jessica Bednarek (Kindergarten Teacher at Berlin Elementary-Berlin, WI), and my Aunt, Kelly Maack (Second grade Teacher at Jane Vernon-Kenosha, WI). I saw first hand how difficult this past year has been for teachers and how they took it with grace and understanding. They dove right in, learned what they needed to do, focused on the kids and truly dominated! Both of these teachers are very high risk for COVID, but that didn’t stop them from delivering school supplies to families’ doorsteps and keeping themselves safe so they could be there for their students. I couldn’t be prouder to call them family.

 

The first person our kiddos got to see in person, outside of Chris and I, was their Aunt Sammy. She, and her Husband Josh Vaughn, own Bird of Paradox Studios. As a small, non-essential business, they were shut down. Not knowing how long this was going to last, they got creative. While Josh took to commissioning his drawing talent, Sammy thought of the idea of “Quarantine Photo Sessions” and we were her guinea pigs! Getting to document a time that is bound for history books, was very cool, and we couldn’t thank her enough for capturing how that point in time looked for us.

There is so much more to the story of this past year, and I hope to share more with you in the future. But for now…how did you handle the pandemic? How did your kids take the news? Did you do anything special to document the historic times?

Shoot me an email and tell me all about it (cserpe.blogger@gmail.com)

Thanks for reading – Carolyn 🙂

P.S. Those of you who know me well, YES, I did cry through this whole writing lol

The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!
(This article first appeared in the 3/11/21 issue of the Smart Reader)

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We LOVE to travel… don’t you?

Traveling is one of our favorite things to do. We want to see the world and all that it has to offer. We want to educate our children while we experience it. How wonderful would it be to jump on a plane right now and fly somewhere else? Take a break from the cold, snow and stress that may encompass our lives and rest for once.

Well, if you travel with young kiddos, you and I both know that relaxing isn’t quite the right description of a trip with them. Rewarding, exciting and memorable are better words. We have had the pleasure of traveling a little bit with our girls. In their young life so far, they have been to the Dells, “up north” to Redgranite area to visit family/stay at a friend’s cabin, as well as some fun camping trips. These trips are filled with the joy of swimming, hiking, exploring, eating and snuggling with loved ones. These are our favorite low key trips. Those that don’t take a ton of planning and provide a quick release from the everyday grind. Do you have somewhere that you can escape to like that?

But our most memorable, so far, was our first trip to Disney World. Boy oh boy! To see the faces on these little girls…our hearts exploded and we felt so proud that we could provide this experience for them. In 2018 we took Clara and Callie to see the Castle. At that time they were 6 and 4 and the magic just radiated from them. Even though our trip was nothing short of amazing, we completely missed the opportunity to work with an experienced travel agent. This was a concept that we knew nothing about. But we learned, and wished we had known.

Companies like Looking Glass Travel and LaMacchia Travel are right in our backyards! Just before COVID hit our continent at the start of 2020, the use of agents was on the rise and already up 18% from 2019. Then, travel, came to a screeching halt. All our dreams of becoming tourists, were put on hold while the world worked hard to stop a pandemic. But our travel agents never stopped. They were busier than ever working to salvage travel plans by re-booking or even re-funding. Watching the world news and guidelines non-stop for their clients.

Personally, I LOVE to plan events and trips. I felt that I didn’t need an agent to help nor did I want them to take the joy away from the planning process. But what I didn’t realize, was how beneficial they truly are. They don’t take the fun away! They help guide and do all the hard work! Searching for, not only some of the same deals that we can get on our own, but they know EXACTLY where to find the best ones, or even the secret ones only they can snag. One of my besties, Katherine Hill, is a local agent with Looking Glass Travel. She states that “the ‘deal’ you get by using a Travel Agent, is not having to worry about your vacation! We plan everything, and make sure your trip is everything you want, while you count down the days till you take off.”

Whether it is another family trip to Disney to introduce Charlie to her favorite character, Minnie Mouse, for the first time, or Chris and I going on a 10 year anniversary trip to Europe, we can not wait to get back in the sky

and out on the road. And you can bet your bottom dollar that we will use an agent from here on out!

What was your most memorable trip? Did you use a Travel Agent/ Agency? Shoot me an email and tell me all about it (cserpe.blogger@gmail.com)

Thanks for reading – Carolyn 🙂

https://www.lookingglasstravel.com/katherine-hill.html

https://www.lamacchiatravel.com/

Carolyn Serpe
The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!
(This article first appeared in the 2/25/21 issue of the Smart Reader)
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Do you believe in fate?

February is considered the month of love, so for this post I thought I would share our love story. I’ll try to keep this “mush” free…but I can’t guarantee it!

Our story starts when we were both young, Chris was 8 and I was 6. My Dad, Dave, was the coach of a boys team for Kenosha Small Fry. Now, if you are not familiar with this organization, you should be! Small Fry is an international organization with a franchise right here in Kenosha! It provides an opportunity for shorter boys and girls to excel in the game of basketball competitively, while making life long friends at the same time. My Dad was a player back in the “dinosaur times”, and when I was 6 he was asked to return and coach a team for the organization. He jumped at the chance to make a difference in the community and be a part of the game once again.

The first practice came around and I decided to join my Dad to see what this was all about. That is when I met my future Husband. From the moment I saw him, I was crushing! Because I was only 6, I had no clue that was what I was feeling, but it was brought to my attention quickly by Chris’ sisters Jenni and Sarah. Those two teased me that whole season and he had no clue that I even existed. Girls were still “yucky” at his ripe age of 8! So the only thing I could do was sit on the sidelines and swoon!

After that season, Chris and I never saw each other.

Time passed and we both grew up. I went to St. Marks for grade school, St. Joes for jr. high and Tremper for high school. Chris attended Holy Rosary, Lance and then Tremper. What is odd, is that we NEVER ran into each other. We grew to have many of the same friends, and I still guarantee that we were at some of the same events, but we happened to miss each other every time we could have had an interaction. The only “sign” that I got was my sophomore year. Every February, the student council put together a fundraiser for Valentine’s Day. You had to pay a dollar and you filled out a survey of likes and dislikes. Later, you received

a print out that showed you who in the school you were most and least compatible with. That was the year the #1 most compatible person listed for me was…Chris Serpe. I couldn’t believe it! All the feels came running back! That was the only slip I kept during the 4 years I played that game (I am known as a hoarder, so that is impressive for me).

Our lives grew apart even further the years after that. Chris went off to college in MN and I went to Milwaukee. We lived, grew, made mistakes and had victories. But I truly feel that God, and fate, put us on different paths so we could grow to the point where we could meet once again.

In 2008, our family friend lost her Grandfather, and after the funeral, her and I went for some drinks. We chose a place that, we thought, wouldn’t be busy and we could sit and wallow together. Denny’s Sports Den on Washington Road, seemed like a good cozy place to go. So we arrived in jeans and hoodies and looking like a mess from crying all day. One drink in and…BOOM! A large group of Tremper grads (class of 2000) came barreling in. Amongst those was…him…Chris Serpe. I was shocked and butterflies entered the tummy!

As I was explaining to my friend who this handsome man was, I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned and it was him! “Weren’t you going to say hi to me?” he asked. “You know who I am?” I responded sheepishly. “Of course I do! How could I ever forget you.” From that short, but amazing conversation, we were inseparable. A week later Chris told me he loved me, 3 years later we were married, and this year, 2021, we are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary with 3 little girls and a puppy in tow!

Now, weather or not you believe in fate, this story, to me is God working through fate. He joined us so we could create a wonderful life together at just the right time.

How did you meet “the one”? Did fate play a factor for you?

Thanks for reading – Carolyn 🙂

Denny’s Sports Den
Smallfrybasketball.com

 

Carolyn Serpe
The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!
(This article first appeared in the 2/11/21 issue of the Smart Reader)

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How much is too much?

In my first entry with The Reader, I mentioned that I am all over the place. And this is a reason why. How much is too much? This is a question that I ask myself, and get asked, almost on a daily basis. I could sit and list everything that I do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, but I won’t. Like every other person I know, there is always lot on my plate. I TRY not to put things in my schedule, and life, that I don’t enjoy or that are not family related. But how do we fit everything in?

Thankfully I was blessed with great work ethic. My parents and grandparents worked their tails off for everything that they have/had, and accomplished so much. They taught me that there is a difference between being a workaholic and someone that does what they love and takes pride in their work. The definition of a workaholic, is a person who works compulsively. This is NOT to be confused with a hard worker… as long as there is balance.

Now, as we start a new year, it is a great time to re-set our lives. Re- organize. Purge. Re-evaluate. Take a look at our calendars and see what truly needs to be in there. Take a gander at what we want our priorities to be and if we are living a life that reflects those. What do you value the most in your life? Where do you want to spend most of your time? Make your activities revolve around that!

Sometimes this is hard to do on our own. Sometimes we need to call in reinforcements and ask for guidance on how to balance everything out. I have a few friends that help in this field.

As a family of 5, we have a TON of STUFF in our home. Not going to lie, most is from me…mini hoarder…ugh. How much is too much…stuff? My husband and I banter on this topic frequently. He is a minimalist, and finding a happy medium between that and my “mini hoarding” can be difficult. If you follow Earnest Organizing on facebook, you can get tons of ideas on how to reorganize your life. Elizabeth focuses on the physical reorganization of your life. She will come in, take your clutter and put it in its place and teach you how to continue the process. Not only does she work with individuals, but she also offers these services up to businesses.

How much is too much…in your calendar? Recently I took a webinar through the YLINK, that the local company Boldly & Co. presented. It was extremely informational and helpful. Nina Ferraro and Mary Manthei have devised a system that will help dissect, guide and organize your life, business, goals and dreams. They teach you to truly balance your time, so that what used to be “too much” is now just right and manageable

Needless to say…in my mind…as long as you can keep your life organized to the point that it is manageable, and your priorities are in line with your life goals, you are right on track. This is something that I personally am always educating my self on and working on daily. What have you done so far in this new year to reorganize your life so that you don’t have “too much”

Learn more about Earnest Organizing at www.earnestorganizing.com
and Boldly & Co.

Carolyn Serpe
The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!

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Excited to Join the Team!

Happy New Year Kenosha!! I am super excited to be joining this great group of bloggers for the year. Hope you find some entertainment, and maybe comfort, in the randomness that you will find here as I am literally all over the place 🙂

Where do I even begin…

I am Carolyn (Chatmon) Serpe. Mother to Clara (9), Callie (7), Charlie (3) and our puppy, Chase (1). I have a wonderful Husband, Chris, and we have been married for 10 years, this year!

I have always loved Kenosha, but like many of us, didn’t realize it till I went away for a while. After high school, I moved to Milwaukee for 6 years, went to College and worked. Once I re-met Chris (that is a super cute story for another post), I moved back to my roots and fell in love with my hometown.

Here in Kenosha, I work for The Lettering Machine. My parents, Dave & Tina Chatmon, have owned the shop since 2002, and I started full time with them back in 2007. My time with the shop has put me through all types of responsibilities and roles. Right now as manager, I get to be a part of everything. Even though I love being involved, working with my Mom and Dad is by far the best part of my job.

Our shop has grown so much over the past 19 years and continues to grow with each year. It amazes us how the shop can bring people together and help in so many ways. We have met a variety of different people, some of which have become our closest friends. Kenosha is such a place of belonging, family, community and love.

Throughout my blog posts, expect to be thrown all over the place. I am interested in such a plethora of things and I can’t wait to spew thoughts and stories and photos! From sports, to camping, to family time and work, oh yea…don’t forget fitting that friend time in there. My family supports

local and loves local, so some of our favorite places in town will pop up as well.

So sit down with a glass of wine and lets see what 2021 brings us!

– Carolyn Serpe
The Lettering Machine is located at 720 – 56th Street in Kenosha, WI
262-652-4177
tlmonlineorders@gmail.com
See more on their website theletteringmachine.com
Check out their Facebook Click Here!

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