Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Night to Remember

A night to remember and a chance of lifetime. The kids' very first Packer game and Ben was chosen to play with his 6th grade team on Lambeau Field at halftime. How amazing is that? Ben's team was fantastic and scored 14-0. Two of his teammates even got to do a Lambeau Leap!!! What a fabulous night!!

We were able to tailgate with the team before the game.

We took a ton of photos. And of course, being Catholic Packer fans we had to get our picture taken with the pope.  ;)

Before we knew it it was time for Ben and his team to take their places and for us to get to our seats.
Ben was full of excited nerves as he lined up to enter Lambeau and wait for his big entrance out of the tunnel.

We had amazing seats on the 50 yard line and I was able to snap quite a few pics of Ben and his team on the field. The boys were allowed to line up on the field for the national anthem and then they went back to the tunnel and got high fives and "good luck"s from the Packer players as they entered the stadium. Pretty amazing.

The boys took the field at halftime and they played like pros.

Our boys scored two touchdowns in 5 plays for a final score of 14-0. It was so fun to watch.

Two of Ben's teammates even got to do a Lambeau Leap.

Of course they had a little help from the fans and a coach who gave them a boost. It was a blast to watch.

It was just such a perfect experience. The weather was great and the rain held off. We had great seats. The coaches, heads of the Youth Football program, and volunteer helpers did an amazing job organizing everything and preparing the players. The Packers organization did a tremendous job making this something the kids (and coaches and families) will never forget. The kids came out the Packers tunnel, were on the field for the national anthem, stood in the tunnel when the players ran out, got high fives and "good luck!"s from many of the players, and had a really supportive crowd to cheer them on as they played. AMAZING!!!! Not to mention that the Packers gave us a win too. Kudos goes out to Tommy who has been nothing but supportive and happy for Ben even though I know he was dying to be out there on that field playing with his team. All my kids (and myself) just had the most fabulous time at their first Packers game and were so grateful to be there. So good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


"The days are long but the years are short."

Truer words were never spoken. I have ALL of my kids together, in my care, under my roof, for only a few more years. Already I can feel a slight pulling away as friends and schedules and classes and practices take up more and more of our precious family time. I long for summers past when nothing was more exciting than a day, together, swimming at the lake.

At least I can still bribe them with the promise of a malt cup.

Monday, July 30, 2018

My Little Piece of Heaven

When I'm searching for a little peace there is nothing better than a gorgeous morning on my patio with a cup of coffee, the birds singing, and my dog.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rhubarb Jam

Everyone knows that certain foods can transport you right back to your childhood. For me, rhubarb jam is one of those foods. It was always an absolute favorite of mine. A special treat. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water.

I've always talked about rhubarb jam to my kids but they had never had a chance to try it. A couple of years ago I decided to remedy that and I planted rhubarb in my garden. You can't harvest the rhubarb for the first couple of seasons so this was the first year I could actually harvest and use the rhubarb.

I made the jam, and as predicted, it was a hit. A new favorite. Thank goodness I planted a lot of rhubarb. I will be making this all summer long.

The recipe is my grandmother's and it is ridiculously easy.

8 cups of rhubarb
4 cups of sugar (I try to cut the amount of sugar down if possible)
6 oz strawberry jell-o

Peel and destring the rhubarb and cut into small chunks.

Boil rhubarb and sugar on the stove (I add about a cup of water- just enough to coat bottom of kettle) for approximately 3-4 minutes until the rhubarb is tender.
Turn off heat and add jell-o.
Pour jam into jars and allow to cool.
Jelly can be refrigerated or frozen.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Summer's Start

The kids last day of school was June 8 and I took the traditional "last day of school" photo. I was not going to do the side by side comparison photo because I honestly didn't want to see it. This year has gone by faster than any year of my life and I did not want to see proof of time's passage in pictures. But I did it anyway. I don't know why. And, once again, I was shocked at the kids' growth in one short school year. It is pretty amazing. And sad. 
They are all growing up far too quickly. I can't even begin to explain how melancholy these two photos, side by side, make me feel.  Ugh.

The weekend after school let out Grace had her dance recital. This was Grace's first year with Dollhouse Dance Company and she really enjoyed it. And let me tell you, they go all out for the end of the year dance recital. It is HUGE. This dance company only started four years ago and already they have made a national (and world) name for themselves. They have won nationals for the last three years and placed, 2nd and 3rd at worlds this year and last. That is for their competitive hip hop group. Grace is currently taking contemporary dance and she loves it. It is her thing. I must say, she is a natural.
A couple friends of mine were at the recital and sent me a few photos. I was actually in the moment and didn't take any photos or videos (I did order the video, however). I love this photo!!!
In the photo above Grace is 2nd from the left and in the picture below she is in the center.
The girl is a natural dancer. Everyone was saying how she stood out. I must agree. She did a great job! She was so proud to have her brothers there cheering her on. She is so often at their football/basketball games that it is nice to have them there for her. The grandmas really enjoyed the show too. It was so much fun!

As for the rest of our summer (so far), I am trying to get in as much fun and relaxation as possible. It is difficult because I am taking a class this summer as well. It is a CNA course and I am in clinicals at a nursing home. I start at 5:45 in the morning and I'm done at 2:30. Long, hard day but it is just a few times a week. And I will be done in a few weeks.

In the meantime we are soaking in all of the summer goodness. The kids and I have been trying to do all of our favorites like walks out to the lighthouse, the farmers market, and swimming at our favorite little lake when the temperatures finally got hot enough. 
Todd and the boys have gone up to the cabin a number of times. Grace and I have gone up as well but last two weekends we stayed home and had some quality ladies time. Last weekend we went to Strawberry Fest in Cedarburg. It is one of my favorites and I hadn't been there in years. I used to live there so it is always fun for me to visit and show the kids my old apartment and stomping grounds.
This weekend Grace and I had time to ourselves again. The temperature was close to 100 all weekend so we bought a pool and set it up in the backyard. It was fabulous! We also went to the farmer's market, swam all day at the lake, and ate at our favorite restaurants. It was a fabulous weekend. Tomorrow we will drive up north to join the boys at the cabin for the entire week. It is a perfect summer break.

After this week it will be back to the grind of school and work. But I will continue to try and make this summer fun and memorable for us all. I only have these kids all together for a few more summers. I have to make the most of it.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Making Up For Lost Time

I think I've forgotten how to blog.

I haven't posted about Christmas,

or Easter (when I couldn't get a decent pic),

or any of the major holidays.

I didn't post about the kids' school musical this year (Aladdin),

or Joey's first season on the trap team at his high school (and being named Rookie of the Year),

or about Ben getting his braces on.

There are so many things that I never posted about. Our sweet little guinea pig died, which may sound silly but Stanley was more like a tiny dog than a pig.

So much of my life has been consumed with school that I have not had any spare time to do much of anything else. When I do have spare time I use it trying to do something fun with the kids. I have so much guilt about not being the kind of mom that they have become accustomed to. This year in school has been so taxing on me, emotionally and physically. I haven't been volunteering at their school, baking treats, or been quite as focused as I normally am. It has been a real struggle. 

We didn't even get a spring break together this year. The kids had spring break for one week and I had my spring break from school the week before. It was such a bummer. Todd was able to take the kids up north to the cabin for spring break while I was in school, but I missed it all. As many of you know, I hate to miss out on ANYTHING with the kids. That was hard. I know I only have all of my kids together for a few more years. And those years are whizzing by. I don't want to miss any of it.

But here we are now. I finished my first year of school. I got a 4.0 for the entire year. Something I didn't think was possible. I'm proud of myself. And my family is proud of me too. Still, I question my timing. I have a couple of weeks off and then I start my summer class. Just as the kids are getting out of school I will be starting again. It stinks. And then when school starts in fall it will really be tough. In fall I will be starting all my core nursing classes plus clinicals. It is going to be rough. And I just pray that this will all be worth it. 

This extended weekend has helped a bit. We took the kids up north and had a great time. It was quite the all American redneck weekend. I wouldn't necessarily consider us rednecks but we certainly look like it from the pictures. We were shooting, riding four wheelers, playing cornhole, fishing, kayaking, swimming, boating, and having bonfires and s'mores. It was a grand old time. The weather was supposed to be rainy all weekend but instead it was hot and humid and sunny. It was perfect!

We were definitely trying to make up for lost time. 

As summer approaches that will be my goal. I will concentrate on school when I can and spend as much time soaking up my family as possible.  These kids just keep growing and getting older and I don't want to miss a single minute.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Time Gone By

It's almost the beginning of December. Months have gone by and I haven't written at all. It's not that I didn't want to, or that I didn't have anything to write, but spare time has been in short supply these days.

Football season ended and the boys moved on to basketball. Joe tried something new this year and ran with the cross country team. He loved it. I think he found a new passion, and a great way to make good friends at a new school. Grace has been enjoying her contemporary dance classes and has been kicking butt in school. They all are, actually. The parent teacher conferences were so much fun. The teachers couldn't think of anything negative to say about my kids. All positive. Meeting all of Joe's high school teachers was fun too. They all had to tell me how hard working, polite, happy, and funny Joe is. "He's one of my favorites." a few of the teachers whispered to me.  

Good stuff all around.

School is going well for me as well. I am getting grades I only dreamed of when I was a kid. And I really look forward to going to class every day. I am enjoying it all far more than I thought I would. Of course the work load is extensive and I really don't have any spare time but that's okay. It is working out fairly well.

And time marches on. My kids are just growing up so quickly. This year was the first year that all three of my boys went up to deer camp. It was an amazing experience for all of them, including Todd. All of them just treasured their time together. And it was a successful hunt as well. All three boys got a deer. It was a first for both Tommy and Ben. Very exciting stuff. And our freezer is finally stocked again. 

While the boys were gone Grace and I had some quality one on one time too. We went to the library, the movies, shopping, out to dinner. We snuggled in for a day and watched movies and hung out. It was fantastic.  I'm all for equal opportunity but if Todd ever talks Grace into hunting I think I'll be pretty sad.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving. I normally host two Thanksgivings for each side of the family, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. This year Todd's sister volunteered to host on Saturday so I was only hosting my side of the family on Thanksgiving. I did a bit of cooking the day before but left most of the work for Thursday. However, it was the most relaxing and fun Thanksgiving I have had in ages. Tommy cleaned the whole house for me. Ben made the stuffing. Grace peeled all the potatoes, prepped the green bean salad, and set the tables. Todd, of course, is always a big help too. He likes cooking so we both have our hands in on the turkey but he makes the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Anyway, the kids were such a huge help that the whole day just felt easy. And then after dinner Joey, without asking, began clearing up all the dishes and helping me put everything away. It was all done so quickly. My kids are awesome.

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving. And the next day was absolutely gorgeous. It was a lovely 60 degrees and Joe wanted me to take a run with him. I warned him that it would be more like a slow jog for him if I came along but he was all for it. We ran from our house to a nearby quarry where he showed me his favorite running route. He took me through the woods and around the quarry. The whole time he was pointing out roots and stones and branches he wanted me to be careful for. I was overwhelmed by his encouragement, his chivalry, and his sweetness. It did not escape my attention how lucky I am that my teenager not only wants to do these things with me but it such a gentleman and a cheerleader for me as well. Dang. It gets me all choked up.
It was a lovely Thanksgiving break. Two wonderful get-togethers with both sides of the family. Lots of fresh air and exercise. Plenty of relaxing. And for some crazy reason I even got some Christmas decorations up. That is so NOT like me. I am a stickler for waiting on the decorations until at least the first week of December. However, the weather was so warm, the kids were so helpful, and I finally had time to spare, that I decided to go for it. Having the kids help me take all the fall decorations down and haul up all the Christmas decorations made it so easy. The outside decorations are completely up. I didn't do the inside decorations as yet. I had Todd bring up the Christmas trees but we haven't decorated them. Right now we are just enjoying the glow of the lights. But, I am certainly in the Christmas spirit early this year. It seems to me that the warmer the weather the more jolly, and festive, I feel. I know it doesn't make any sense but, oh well. I'm silly that way.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you have more blessings than you can count and I hope this holiday season fills you with unending joy!

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson