Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Last Days

The last days of October have gone in a blur and now we find ourselves in November. Wow. How did that happen? 

Well, it happened in a rush. 

I finally got all the kids to the pumpkin farm last weekend, although we didn't get our typical family picture because Todd was up north for the weekend. Instead, I just snuck a quick shot of the kids. Nothing too exciting this time but at least I got the picture. I was happy we even made it to the pumpkin farm that day since both Joey and Tommy had their last football games of the year that morning. 
Ben had just finished his undefeated season on Wednesday, Saturday morning Tommy's team tied the toughest team in his league to end with a winning season, and Joey had the breakout game of his last two years. The kid was a tackling machine. I've honestly never seen anything like it from him. Joey has always been so much in his head, thinking, thinking, thinking, and worried about getting injured. We've told him over and over again that he doesn't have to play football but every year when football season rolls around he signs up again. Joey's coaches were always very sensitive to his timidity and put him in positions where he could build up his confidence without having to worry. Well, Joey used the last game of the season to come out of his shell. On kickoff Joey ran down the field at top speed and tackled the receiver way in the backfield. It was a perfect tackle. Then a few plays later Joey stopped a huge running back on third down. He made a few other tackles as well and always put himself in the middle of the plays. It was crazy. I was astounded. Go figure that Joey goes football crazy on the ONE game that his dad couldn't make it to. It was quite a football morning. When I asked Joey after the game where the change had come from he told me that he was wearing his scapular that I gave him for 1st communion and it made him feel stronger and safer. Awesome. 

To celebrate the last football games of the season (and Ben's and Grace's tireless support running to their brothers' games the last few months) I was more than happy to treat the kids to the pumpkin farm and even more fun later on.  
The pumpkin farm was a little sad compared to last years. The remaining pumpkins weren't in the best shape and the weather was iffy. It was a drizzly, windy day so we didn't even get much time to play with the animals or climb in the hay maze. But, we did get plenty of apples, cider, honey, and pumpkins. Luckily, the kids were plenty happy with that. Afterwards I decided to treat them to Goosebumps at the movie theater and then to dinner. It was a fun day. 

The next day after church we had to hand in all the boys' football uniforms and then they attended their award ceremonies. It was a gorgeous day and the boys had fun playing catch with all of their football friends one last time while Grace and I sat and read before the ceremonies began. When all of that was over we went down to the lake to take our fall Packer picture. Sure the above picture could have been used but it was such a gorgeous day and the lake was so blue and beautiful that I thought we'd get a snazzier one. I'm glad we did. This pic is one of my favorites. 
That was last weekend. 

This weekend was just as busy, of course. 

The whole week was filled with craziness. From finding last minute costumes and props to getting treats and prizes for class parties, to helping with the Halloween party at school. It was busy! I thought I had just signed up to help set up decorations for the party but apparently I got signed up to head up the decorations. When Friday rolled around and I it was time to decorate I discovered that I was the ONLY person signed up for decorations so I had to decorate the entire cafeteria by myself. That was interesting. Add to that the fact that the maintenance man has been out for weeks (he broke his arm? shoulder? something like that) and the principal and I were the ones hauling all the tables around and setting everything up. It was madness. Luckily, I finished the decorations in time and everyone loved it. I fear I will now be stuck with this job until the end of time.  Ah well.

I had just enough time to rush home and help the kids into their costumes. Joey was the wizard from Clash of Clans, Tommy was a whiny Bears fan, Ben was Minecraft Steve, and Grace was Anna from Frozen. I just threw together some clothes and went as a vampire. 
It was a great party and fun was had by all.

That brings us to Halloween, of course!

The day didn't start out well as I began it with a migraine. Not great. But I haven't had a migraine in a long time and it wasn't very bad so I won't complain. I'm chalking it up to the crazy weather (big rain storm) and too much stress. Regardless, the day ticked on with shopping for basketball shoes and errands we had to run. When we finally got back from the stores I realized we hadn't carved pumpkins yet. Egad!!!!  Why do we always forget to carve pumpkins!
Last minute pumpkin carving ensued (though Grace just used our stick on faces) and the kids were happy with the results. Job done. And just in the nick of time. Trick or treating was about to begin.

We decided to go with different costumes than the Halloween party costumes we wore because it was cold and rainy outside. The boys all went as football players and Grace was a bumblebee. Joey's friend was bacon. Everybody loves bacon!!!
Of course Molly had to get right in the middle of the pic again. I even tried to call her out of the pic but she wouldn't listen. Little camera hog.

The kids went around the neighborhood and then we drove them to our old neighborhood. I think I have just as much (if not more) fun than they do and when Grace decided she was done I was sad to take her home and let the boys trick or treat on their own. I could have stayed out there all night!
Todd and Grace stayed back at home and made a fire while I hopped back in the car to go check on the boys, all incognito like. I searched the area and found them less than a mile from our house. They were looking pretty tired so I pulled over to ask if they wanted to rest for a while and they said they were done. Their buckets were too full for any more candy and they were ready to go home. They loaded into the car and I drove them to a really cool house that had set up a corn maze in their yard and then I drove them over to a amazingly decorated house as well. After that I drove them home where they proceeded to gorge themselves on pizza and candy. Success!

I even got to watch a few scary movies. Tommy watched Poltergeist with me while the other kids watched Beetlejuice in the basement. I definitely don't have scary movie loving kids. By the time I was Joey's age I had seen every awful scary movie there was. It probably wasn't wise. I much prefer my kids' innocent brains to my warped and creeped out kid brain.
It was a late night and we were happy to use the extra hour from Daylight Savings Time for sleep. After this past week we can definitely use the extra hour. 

Monday, October 19, 2015


What an absolutely gorgeous fall we have been having. The weather has been unusually mild and dry. My morning runs have been fantastic, running through the leaves in a t-shirt and running capris. It is pretty amazing for me to be able to still do that this late in the year. As a matter of fact, I just turned on the furnace for the first time this past weekend. Usually I've got that baby fired up mid-September. It really has been an amazing fall.

Amazingly busy, as well. We still haven't made it to the pumpkin farm as a family yet. And I haven't had any time to get our traditional annual Packer picture of the kids or our annual fall family pic either. Could it be that I'll have to skip a year?  Yikes! Good thing I like our last year's family pic so much. I'd hate to cover it up with another picture anyway.

I've already talked about how busy we are with football but that isn't all. Last weekend was the youth hunt. This year Tommy got to join in on the fun for the very first time. To say he was excited would be a massive understatement. He talked about it for months and finally his time was here. 
This was Joey's last year on the youth hunt and Tommy was happy to have his big brother along. I think it made it much more fun. Unfortunately, Tommy did not see any deer. However, Joey did manage to get another deer for us. Good thing too, because our freezer has been bare for months. It was a bit of a bummer for Tommy but I had to remind him that Joey didn't see anything on his first youth hunt either. Perhaps it is good luck, because Joey is the only one in our family to have gotten a deer for the last two years.
Tommy kept a good attitude and a wonderful time was had by all. They had fairly mild weather and stayed warm in their hunting blinds the entire time. Tommy was with Todd and Joey sat with his uncle, but on Sunday morning Todd took both of his boys out together for a few hours. Proud papa had to snap a quick pic. I think the hunting blind will be a smidge tight when Ben joins the hunt.

While they were up north hunting I tried to give Ben (who was a little heartbroken at not being able to go off with the older boys just yet) and Grace a good time as well.  We jammed our weekend full of goodness. We went to their favorite children's museum, we went to the movies, we went out to dinner and picked out a small toy at Target. But mostly, we spent our time outside. 

I took Ben and Grace to one of our favorite places to walk in the fall. We haven't actually been there in a few years. I had missed it. It was a lovely day to take a walk in the woods and enjoy the smells and sounds of fall.
And though we haven't been able to get there with the whole family yet I took Ben and Grace to the pumpkin farm/apple orchard too. This may have been their favorite activity from the whole weekend. They spent a loooong time petting all the sweet animals. The donkeys and chickens became overly attached to Ben. It was kind of funny. The chickens would follow him all over the property and the donkeys just sat by the fence waiting for him to come back.  One goat took a particular liking to Grace as well. My kids are such little animal whisperers. 
Of course, before we left, we had to stop in at the store and get a big bag of apples, apple cider, raw honey, and a few little gourds. Ben had seen this cute little picture of dressed up gourds on one of my magazines and wanted to do the same. So, when we got home we dressed our gourds too. 
It was a great weekend. I forgot how easy it is with only two children. But we sure did miss having our whole family with us and we were SO excited when they got home. Together again.

This past weekend we finally all got a chance to go up north. With all the football games and crazy activities going on I didn't think I'd be able to get up north and enjoy the most beautiful time of year. The leaves were a little past peak but it was still gorgeous. There were far more leaves on the trees than I had expected for this time of year. It was a cold weekend (high of 45) but beautiful.

Molly and I took off into the 40 acres across the road a number of times. It was just so golden and glowy in there that it was difficult to leave. It almost felt like a fairyland.

Todd took Ben to the 80 acres for the day as they harvested some dead trees for firewood and prepped a few more deer stands for next month's hunt. It was nice for Ben to have a little one on one daddy time and we all had fun hanging back at the cabin. Todd finally showed me how to use the four wheeler (I think that thing is older than I am!) and I had fun tooling around while the kids fished off the pier.
When Grace and I needed a warm up we went inside for a bit. Grace washed the dishes for me and I read a little bit of my book.
Then it was back outside to enjoy more fall beauty.
I am trying to enjoy every second of these last beautiful weeks of fall. The colors and sounds and smells and adventures. It is such a beautiful time of year.

I hope you are able to enjoy this beautiful fall too.

Monday, September 28, 2015


It was a rare night last night. A lunar eclipse and a blood moon. 

At eight o'clock the sky was completely cloud covered and I resigned myself to having to watch the event through people's pictures on Facebook. Then, fifteen minutes later, the clouds parted and I got a beautiful and unobstructed view from my back patio.

I must say, I turned into a complete spazz as I watch the event unfold. I was so excited I was really geeking out. It was hypnotizing. I have never seen an eclipse that clearly, and definitely in such a beautiful color. It was amazing! Just what I needed to get me out of my weird funky mood that I had been simmering in all day.
By ten o'clock the entire moon was shadowed and a beautiful reddish orange. Todd practically had to restrain me from running upstairs and waking the kids. I really wanted to wake them up to see it. 
However, this morning I was pretty thankful I let them sleep. They were so tired even with a good night's rest. They have been pretty sleep deprived lately and the last thing they needed was me waking them up late at night to show them the moon. Besides, they were pretty happy with the pictures I took for them. A win all around.

As I said, the kids have been sleep deprived. This is why:
Football. And lots of it. We have football pretty much every night but Sunday. Ben plays flag football on Monday and Wednesday. Joey has practice on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and games on Saturdays. Tommy has football practice on Monday and Thursday and games on Saturday. The last couple of Fridays they have been high school football games where their teams were introduced. Football, football, football. It makes dinner times and bedtimes a difficult thing around here, but I must admit, I do enjoy watching them. Still, it will be nice when life slows down a bit and sleep isn't quite to rare.

Grace has been a super sport about trekking to her brothers' games and practices. The other night, while we were at yet another football practice, she mentioned to me that she doesn't know how to do a cartwheel so we decided that we should work on that. That is one determined little girl. For almost two hours Grace watched me turn cartwheels, practiced her own, listened to my instructions, and did her best. By the end of the night she actually landed a few cartwheels. It was very proud moment for her.
And it was a little surreal for me. When I learned that I was having a little girl that was one of the things that ran through my head. I don't really know why, but I pictured us practicing cartwheels in the backyard together. I always loved tumbling as a kid and I knew that would be something I wanted to show my kids. The boys never really had that much interest (although when Grace showed them her cartwheels they all begged me to teach them as well, and now we have a family of cartwheelers) and teaching my little girl how to do cartwheels just seemed really momentous. And it was so much fun!

Speaking of momentous. Joey got braces. Tommy will also be getting braces but for now he has headgear. Both kids have been super good sports about their new dental work. The first day their teeth were a bit sore but it has gone fairly smoothly. Joey even let me get a picture of his brace face.
He chose hunting colors for the rubber bands, orange and green. Whatever makes him happy. Tommy is being a great sport about having to wear his headgear to bed. I think he is just thankful that he doesn't have to wear the headgear to school. I snapped a really sweet picture of Tommy with his headgear on but he asked me not to post it, so I will honor his wishes. It is rare that that kid doesn't want his picture shown so I know he is a little self conscious.

Time has been scooting along at laser speed and it is rare that I can find the time to blog. But, I have been following the Pope's visit fairly closely. Just love that man. He is exactly what I hoped for in a Pope. I pray all religious leaders can spread the message of love as Pope Francis is doing. He is quite the inspiration. What are your thoughts? Are you a fan or are you sick of all the media attention? Of course, to some, I'm sure the hoopla seems excessive. I realize he is just a man. But it is exciting to see a man filled with so much love and compassion. I would much rather hear about him than the Kardashians or some other garbage. It is rare to find such a clear example of Christ's love. It is very exciting for me.

So tell me, what are you excited about these days? What is rare in your world?

Sunday, September 13, 2015


This past weekend I got to do something I've always wanted to do. I got to run in a color run. And it was a blast!
Thanks to the ladies I worked out with this summer I finally had some women who were game to get a little colorful. And boy, did we get colorful!

The run was held at the EAA in Oshkosh and it was a beautiful and easy 5k course on a gorgeous day.
We took full advantage of the crazy dj, the music, the powder, and the energetic crowd. 
We all had way more fun than we anticipated. We had so much energy after the run that we decided to go shopping for the rest of the day. In full color! What a fun bunch of ladies!

Thanks for the great time, ladies! We definitely have to do that again!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Weekend

I sit in the same spot on the porch where he used to sit. I can understand his fondness for this spot now. The sun's warmth pools in this exact location and it is a clear view straight down to the water's edge. 
I watch as the kids swim and splash and play around in the water. I think of how spoiled these kids of mine are. How spoiled I am. Spoiled by this little bit of heaven we get to enjoy whenever out schedules allow. 
Here it is, Labor Day weekend, and it is one of the only weekends we will be able to enjoy the cabin until football season is over and we are able to make our escape up north again. It is hot and humid but there is a strong wind that keeps it comfortably hot instead of stifling. It is the perfect weekend and once again I am so grateful I have the opportunity to be here. This eden.

Sitting in his spot on the porch I can't help but remember a conversation I'd had with him. It was a special conversation because the Alzheimer's had progressed and already had Jerry in it's grasp. Real conversations were hard to come by. 

We had all decided to go up to the cabin together, maybe for the last time with Jerry since he had become increasingly uncomfortable outside of his everyday environment. Even his pride and joy, his cabin, was no longer familiar to him. We stopped for dinner at The Long Bar and Jerry and I were sitting at the bar waiting for our Friday fish fry to be served at our table. Todd was talking to LaVerne at the table and the kids were preoccupied by the music in the jukebox. Jerry and I were the only ones at the bar. And in a moment of clarity Jerry told me how proud he was of Todd. How he couldn't have asked for more in a son. How he thought Todd and I were a good match and made such a nice couple. A good team. I sat stunned. Speechless. Afraid to say anything and break his train of thought. Jerry went on to tell me how he loved his cabin up north and always hoped his kids and grandkids would someday enjoy it as well. He told me how happy it made him to see us all up here making memories and having fun. It was what he had always envisioned and dreamed of. 

I think we made him proud this weekend. Early morning fishing, swimming and tubing in the afternoon, hunting and hiking, and bonfires at night. We did it all. I know he is smiling down on us as he watches his dream fulfilled.

My kids often talk about how they will take care of the cabin when we are older. They love it there. They know how good they have it. And so do I. Thank you, Jerry and LaVerne, for allowing us to experience this life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WW- The Return

It's good to have them home again.

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