Monday, March 31, 2014

A Good Ending

We managed to sneak in one more fun activity before our spring break officially ended.  After mass on Sunday Todd and I surprised the kids by taking them bowling.
It may not sound that exciting but my kids were plenty excited. We hardly ever go bowling and the kiddos just LOVE it. We really need to go more often.
Notice there are no pictures of me bowling. Can I let you in on a little secret? I stink at bowling. Really badly. All of my kids beat me in both games. Sure, they had bumpers on their lane, but still. No one will be asking me to join a bowling league anytime soon.

The first game I got a 78 and the second game I got a 112. I was shocked that I made it over 100 but my kids still beat me. I really stink. It doesn't stop me from playing though. We had a blast!

A little bowling, a little junk food, a little playing outside, a little Frozen, and a little snuggling in front of the fire. A fantastic way to end a fabulous spring break.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


We are back. Back from one of the best trips we've ever taken. Back to real life after experiencing a bit of heaven. 
Honestly, this trip could not have come at a better time. We needed this, Todd and I. Not just the warm weather and the relaxation but the alone time. The reconnection.
The resort (Live Aqua) was the perfect place to recoup from our winter. I can not recommend it enough. Todd and I have been to a number of all inclusive resorts and this one is definitely at the top of the list. It is currently ranked #2 of all hotels in Cancun on Tripadvisor. If you have the opportunity to go to Cancun then there really is only one place to worth staying. Live Aqua
The weather was hot, the drinks were cold, the service was outstanding, the food was unparalleled, the rooms were beautiful, the pools were gorgeous, and the beach was breathtaking. It felt like the trip of a lifetime.
I don't remember the last time Todd and I laughed together as much as we did on this trip. 
It was difficult to say goodbye to this perfect place but we are grateful we got to go for the few days we were there. It was worth every penny, in more ways than one.
Now we are back. The welcome home we got from the kids, the snuggles, hugs, and smiles, made me happy that our trip was a short one. We had missed them. And really, there is no place like home.

Today Todd is nursing a nasty cold, the kids are putting together LEGO sets they just bought with their birthday money, and I'm trying to think up one more fun day trip to take the kids on before we wrap up our spring break and real life truly hits.

But for now we will soak up these last couple of days and hopefully our warm memories will keep us cozy until the warm weather finally catches up with the calendar.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Freak Out Time

We are back from our fun filled mini vacation in Wisconsin Dells. 

It was wet, wild, and super fun. And very exhausting. 

Here you see the kids raring to go the minute we got to the hotel. Five hours later we were all jammed into the pull out bed in the living room trying to summon the energy to go out to dinner. Eventually, with Todd's pleading, we did indeed make it out for dinner. 
We accidentally walked into a very fancy restaurant and then the hostess insisted we stay. The kids were weirded out by the fanciness of it all. The live singing/piano playing, the water features, the three different forks and knives, the warm towelette after dinner, the prices. It completely freaked them out. It was kind of funny. But the food was delicious and the kids were fairly well behaved.

When we got back to the hotel room we all crashed. Then it was up bright and early again the next morning for more waterpark fun. Another water filled fun day and a delicious dinner (and Culver's custard too!) and we were extra exhausted when we got back to our room.
Somehow we managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to clean up and get to church this morning. Now we are back home. Time to unpack all the bags, clean the house, repack our bags, leave instructions for the grandmas, plan little goodbye gifts for the kiddos, and organize dinners and activities for the kids while we are gone.

In other words, it's freak out time.

I'm not good with leaving my kids. Never have been. I suspect I never will be. It really hasn't gotten easier. Good thing we hardly ever do it. And this will most likely be our last vacation without the kids for a long time so we had to jump at the chance. Still, I can't help the internal freak out.

On the long ride home from WI Dells today Todd turned to me and said, "By this time tomorrow we will be relaxing on the beach!"  I replied in a whisper, "If we're not dead." I was only half teasing.

Morbid, I know. But I can't help it. I'm paranoid something is going to happen to us (plane crash) leaving our kids parentless. I'm also paranoid something will happen to my kids and I won't be there.
In short, I'm paranoid. Freaking out. 

I'm sure everything will be just fine. I am really trying my best to ignore the nagging little voices in my head. I'm sure it will be a lovely trip. 

For now I'm freaking out. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Birthday Wishes

An early celebration filled with LEGOs, grandmas, and cake makes for one very happy birthday boy.
Today Tommy took cupcakes to school for his birthday treat and when school is released early for spring break we will be off to the Wilderness Territory in WI Dells. Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday.

Dearest Tommy. I hope your birthday is everything you hoped and dreamed it would be. I hope the day is filled with fun and love and all your wishes come true. I hope that you know just how special you are to us and what joy you add to our lives.
From the moment you were born you were our lovable, sweet, kind, considerate, energetic, silly, fun-loving little Goldensbear. Still with those darling pinchable cheeks and tender heart. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. My nine year old Tommy.
I love you more than you will ever know. I am so proud to be your mama. Happy Birthday, my precious Tommy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Little Things

It's the little things that always help to snap me out of a foul mood. 

Little things like:

-Having an older choir member tell me that my children are beautiful and wonderfully behaved. And when I tell her the ages of my children after she asks and she says, "they're halfway to grown!" it tugs at my heart in such a way that I once again want to savor every moment I get with them.

-Walking into the living room and seeing Ben helping Grace learn to read.

-Going to Joey's athletic banquet and watching him receive the "most improved" award and listen to the coaches talk about his hard work and positive attitude.

-Listening to Ben read a very difficult reading in front of the whole school for mass.

-Tommy's complete and total excitement at his upcoming birthday. Even though we won't be going out to dinner he is more than willing to open his presents a day early so that we can leave for WI Dells immediately after school tomorrow.

-Joey staying up a little later than the other kids now that he is getting older. Even just fifteen minutes reading in his room is enough to make him feel mature and happy.

-Tommy telling me that the best gift for him is just having his family. Such a little schmoozer. Although he did finally admit that he is looking forward to a few presents as well.

-Sneaking up on the oblivious Joey and Tommy as they read their books after school.

-Being just as excited to go to WI Dells with my kids as I am to go to Mexico with my hubby.

-The first day of spring is here! It may not feel like spring just yet but I have hope that the warmer weather is just around the corner.

-Joey SCREAMING this morning when he saw the time, "MOM!!!! We're gonna be late!!!! I don't want a tardy!!! I've never gotten a tardy mark!!!" It makes me laugh so that my kids are such straight little arrows that the thought of a tardy mark absolutely freaks them out. I think I laughed the entire way to school as Joey panicked in the back seat. Thank goodness we got to school with time to spare or I fear his day would have been ruined.

-A warm bath in the middle of the day.

-Grace and I watching Beauty and the Beast and when Gaston tries to bribe Belle into marrying him I say, "Boy, that Gaston is nasty!"
Grace responds, "Yeah. I wouldn't marry him! I'd just go back in my house and get my shotgun!" 
Ha! That a girl, Gracie!

-Homework free days.

-The first cup of coffee in the morning.

-The birds at my feeders growing more and more colorful as the weeks go on.

-Snuggles with littles.

Tonight we will have pizza and cake with the grandmas to celebrate Tommy's birthday and tomorrow our spring break will be in full swing.

Life is good.

There are so many little things to be thankful for and I'm always grateful for reminders. What are you thankful for?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fun Busy

It seems this blog is becoming nothing more than "my week in review" lately. I guess the weeks are just flying by and before I know it another week has past. This coming week is no exception to the "busy" rule. It is packed full of St. Patrick's Day festivities at school, choir rehearsal, swim classes, Ben reading for the school mass, an athletic banquet for Joey, a birthday for Tommy, and the start of our spring break which will see us taking the kids to Wisconsin Dells (must pack) for a couple of days and then Todd and I will be off to Mexico for a few days (must unpack from WI Dells and then repack).

Busy. But a good kind of busy. Fun busy.

This past weekend was fun busy too. Friday night was our free night. We didn't have anything scheduled. I love nights like those. With the weather being back to the 20s (a good 25 degrees below the average for this time of year) we had a nice fire in the fireplace and snuggled together to watch movies.

Saturday Grace had a birthday party to attend and Ben had his Boy Scout pinewood derby. He was super excited to show off his storm chaser truck. Yes, while most boys are asking for race cars, sports cars, or even SpongeBob, Ben asked his daddy to make him a storm chasing truck. Ben and Todd scoured the internet and Ben chose a truck with his hero "Josh" standing in front of it. I tell ya, this kid is destined for meteorology school.
All the kids and parents alike were impressed by the truck and Ben (or let's be honest, Todd) took home a trophy for design. It wasn't the most aerodynamic car there but it still managed to win a race or two. Ben was a happy camper. And Todd was just happy to be done with it.  ;)
Still, the excitement was not over for the day. I had to sing in a concert that evening and because there would be a very special guest that the kids would enjoy I decided this was a good concert for them to attend. Tony Memmel (a pretty amazing guy, not to mention talented) and his band would be performing with the Symphony and Choir and I knew the kids would get a kick out of hearing rock/pop music being performed with a full orchestra. 
It always cracks me up to watch people's reaction to the kids as we walk into the theater to take our seats. You can tell that those who are seated near us are wary of such young kids in an adult venue. It almost feels similar to what you might experience when you bring a baby on a plane. No one wants to sit by the baby on a plane and no one wants to sit next to four young kids at a symphony concert either apparently.

The first half of the concert was the Scheherazade performed by the orchestra. Because I didn't have to sing until the second half I was able to sit with Todd and the kids. Even though this was not the kids' first symphony concert I was still a little nervous as to how they would behave (they were SO HYPER right before the concert) for the formal orchestra music when three minutes into the first song Grace turned to me and said, "I'm bored." Oh dear. The first half did prove to feel a little long for them but they still sat nicely and quietly. They were happy when intermission came and they could get up and walk around a bit. I assured them that the second half would wake them up a bit and hold their attention.

Sure enough, after the concert the kids ran up to me full of excitement and told me how fabulous it was. They loved it. And stranger after stranger came up to Todd and I to congratulate us on what wonderful and well behaved children we have. Todd told me that the kids sat perfectly and were enthralled all throughout the second half.  And apparently all the people sitting around them were not only appreciative of such well behaved kids they all had to tell Todd and I how much they enjoyed sitting near them.

Todd and I took the kids home and even though it was already far past their bedtimes we rewarded their good behavior with popcorn and ice cream and a little bit of a movie. By the time they got to bed is was about 10:30 and they were exhausted. Pretty much all of Sunday (after church) consisted of us trying to catch up on missed sleep. Everyone was overtired, a bit cranky, and grumpy from yet more cold weather.

Now we are back to our regularly scheduled program with a bit of prebirthday/preSpring Break rushing around thrown in there. It will be a hectic week but I console myself knowing that in one week, after all the madness and rushing around, Todd and I will be headed to Mexico for a few days of bliss on the beach.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What Warm Weather Can Do

It's happening. It has begun. Signs of life are emerging. The deep thaw has begun. 

The temperatures rose to 54 degrees today. Heatwave!!!! People were taking walks and smiling at passing cars and driving around with their windows open. Picnics were being had in the snowbanks and kids played on the swings in slushy parks. Birds sang, kids rode bikes, and people waved. Who would ever think that 54 degrees would make people so darn happy? It was adorable.

Molly and I ventured outside for a run even though I haven't run in weeks because of a heel injury.  The weather was so beautiful I didn't care about the possibility of further injury. We ran anyway. And it was awesome.

Okay, so the temperatures drop again tomorrow and by Wednesday we are back to a high of 12. But, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. This long, dark, dreary, cold, miserable tunnel that was winter. And the light was beautiful. 

This past weekend wasn't quite as warm as today but it wasn't that bad. We did manage to go skiing for one last time this season. We couldn't get over how much snow there was up north. At least four feet. I had to take a picture of the kiddos standing in front of the snow just to show exactly how much it was. The boys could stand on top of the bank and touch the roof of the house. Crazy. But it did make for good skiing.

Once again Todd and the boys ventured off on the hill for the afternoon while Grace and I tackled the bunny hill. By the last hour of skiing Grace really got the hang of it. I tell ya, she can ski!
(please note the ginormous snowman we saw on the way home from up north-bottom right. Those little dots next to it are people. Those are truck tires for eyes, too. That is a big snowman!)

The weather really held up and was pretty perfect for skiing. Sunny and 28 degrees. Grace and I even had our lunch on the decks outside. That's how we do it in Wisconsin, people! Picnics at 28 degrees!

By the time we got back to the cabin Todd and I were exhausted. The kids, not surprisingly, were still ready to play in the snow. It is safe to say that we all slept well that night. Unfortunately for us daylight savings time had to come knocking the next day and kick the crap out of us. Boo.

But who can complain after such a gloriously warm day as today? Not I! I am too high on vitamin D and running endorphins to worry about the loss of one hour.

(Hehe! See? I'm giddy!)

Tomorrow Joey has to dress up and give a speech to his class on his book report subject, Thomas Jefferson. I had him try on his outfit and I really CAN'T STAND how cute he looks. But don't tell him that. He thinks he looks super cool.

I am just so proud of this kid. He has had such an amazing year of growth. He is really becoming so incredibly responsible. He is always on top of his homework, his projects (the speech he wrote was great!), his assignments, and I hardly ever have to ask. I check his work and he has become so diligent and wants to do well. It is such a switch from the struggles we used to go through with him over schoolwork and working hard. He is just really blowing me away this year. Really coming into his own. It is amazing to watch.

The last of the snowmen decorations came down today. I felt it was time. Har-har. Taking place of the snowmen were the spring and Easter decorations. I suppose I should venture outside and try to take the Christmas decorations down. I was afraid that with all this cold and snow the Nativity would be up until Easter. With the thaw today I may be able to yank it out of the frozen ground and snow bank. I guess that is my project for tomorrow. That and I can continue the poop reconnaissance. You know, search through the melting snow for piles of emerging dog poo that has lain dormant all winter. I try and do it in stages so that when all the snow is gone I'm not left with 30,000 piles of dog poo to pick up. Sometimes I feel like it would just be easier to move.

Let's hope the weather is nice enough tomorrow that even dozens of piles of dog poo won't get me down.

Monday, March 3, 2014


It is now March. The temperatures remain a good (bad) 30 degrees below normal. I'm sick of hearing myself complain about it so I think I'll just pretend it is still January. That way I won't be quite so stunned when I wake up every morning to discover that it is -6 degrees outside. 

There has been a fair amount of pretending around here. And not just weather related.

This past weekend my kids' school had their annual fundraising gala and it was a Great Gatsby theme. I was more than happy to pretend it was the roaring 20s again. I always thought I should have been born in a different era (20s or 50s preferably) so this was right up my alley.

Luckily, I had a dress that I bought for a wedding a few years ago that would pass for a 20s style. All I had to do was purchase some long black gloves and a black hat on Amazon and I was set. Todd bought a white tie and borrowed a hat and we were good to go.

It is always so fun for me to dress up. I really don't get to do it often but I sure have fun with it. My kids' faces when they see me all dressed up is just priceless. They are so used to me in jeans and t-shirts that it shock on their faces is hilarious. Mom can be fancy!

The gala was loads of fun and raised a good chunk of change for our school. Afterwards a bunch of us went out (in full 20s garb) to a local watering hole to play darts, have a couple of drinks, and chat until far too late. It was a good night.

The next morning Todd and I struggled to pretend we weren't absolutely EXHAUSTED. We managed to wrangle all the kids to mass on time where we saw some of the other parents we had been out late with. They were all pretending to be wide awake as well.

Somehow we made it through the entire day (complete with a trip to Cabela's, and hour away, and dinner at the kids' favorite restaurant). I was so tired by the time the Oscars came on and yet I still made it through until the end.

I'm sorry to say I can't pretend to be that impressed with the show. The dresses were all very hohum. There were only a very few that stood out. The singers were very pitchy. I wondered if they were having major sound problems. Pink rarely sings flat and she did so a number of times. Idina Menzel (SHAME on John Travolta for slaughtering her name so badly! It is not THAT difficult! CRIPES!) had a very shakey performance. It even appeared she had forgotten the words in the beginning and the orchestral arrangement was so loud that I thought she was going to pop a chord at the end there. She was really straining. I blame the less than flawless performance on John Travolta.

Best speeches were Lupita Nyong'o (loved that dress on her too) and Matthew McConaughy.  They both made me cry. Maybe I was just overtired.

I think I am still overtired today. I guess I'll just pretend I'm not as long as I'm already pretending not to be freezing. And I'll pretend to be excited for an extra long choir rehearsal tonight. And another one tomorrow night (as well as an important meeting at the kids' school). Ugh

Anyone else pretending today?

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