Thursday, June 30, 2016


As you all know I frequently lament how quickly my children are growing. I will always miss my kids as babies and toddlers but there sure are benefits as the kids age. They are definitely easier to travel with now as opposed to when they were babies. Far less stuff has be dragged here and there. As my kids grow their humor has certainly kept me laughing. I can reason with them. They help me carry in the groceries. Heck, the benefits are endless! 

Today we discovered one more benefit. We are much more mobile now. This afternoon we went on our first family bike ride. Well, I suppose we've had them before but this was the first time that everyone rode his/her own two wheeler. No carriers, no carts, no training wheels. It was awesome!

We ended up riding to the cemetery to water my sister's and dad's flowers. The ride was a little over two miles round trip. We took it pretty easy as there were many hills and we didn't want to wear Gracie out on her first family bike ride. 
It was so much fun! I know we will be doing much more biking as a family in the future.

Yep, This having "older" kids thing is feeling pretty good.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Little Break

Last week I was in Mexico. Beautiful, gorgeous, sunny, hot Mexico. It was fabulous. A great little break. 

The trip was a Christmas present to LaVerne (my mother in law) from her children. Vernie loves hot weather and had never been to Mexico. Her kids thought it would be fun to give her this trip with her daughters as her travel mates. I am so fortunate that I have always been fully included in this family and treated as family from the moment I met these wonderful people. So many people dread being with their in laws but I just love mine. I am so lucky. The four of us had such a blast on this trip. Four women traveling together for 6 days and there were zero issues. So good.

We drove down to Chicago on Saturday and stayed overnight so that we didn't have to wake up so early on Sunday morning to make our 10 o'clock flight. It also gave us the opportunity to meet up with my nephew (my sister in law Kris' son) Nick and his girlfriend and have dinner with them. It was great to be able to catch up with Nick before he moved to Boston for an internship. Such a good, smart "kid".  It was a great way to being our trip.

The next day we caught our shuttle to the airport and hopped on our flight to Mexico. It was an uneventful flight (thank goodness) and we arrived at our resort just before 3 in the afternoon. We had two ladies to a room and the rooms were right next to each other. This was the view from the balcony.

We quickly dumped our luggage off and hightailed it down to the beach to check out a bit of the resort. This was our first stop. The first drink was a nutty monkey.  Yum!

We were VERY excited to be among the hot weather, palm trees, beach, and ocean. We had arrived!

A short time later we were sitting by the pool with more fruity drinks in our hands. We were at the pool again bright and early the next morning as well. This was our happy place.  

Michele and I had fun making friends with all the lizards and birds. They weren't quite as fond of us but they let me snap a few pics anyway.
We even got our pics with them. The sassy little bird next to me kept trying to take a bite out of me but I'm sure they were just love bites.  :) 

 We actually did make friends with quite a few other guests. Everyone was so friendly. Here were are having a little fun with our new friends (although they aren't in this pic with us) at one of the resort's nightclubs. Fun!

More swimming the next day. I think at this point I was sticking mostly to water.  :)

The infinity pool! It was gorgeous!

Playing around in the ocean. These ladies crack me up.

One of my favorite pictures from the whole vacation.

On our last night at the resort we went out to dinner and when the waiter found out that this trip was a Christmas present to Vernie he brought her a special dessert that said, "Merry Christmas!".  It was very thoughtful and the dessert was delicious.

It was a great way to end our wonderful vacation.
It was an amazing getaway. The resort was fantastic. Todd and I had stayed at this resort a couple of years ago and I knew we would all enjoy it. It is a great place. However, staying at the resort did make me miss Todd. It was odd being there without him. This was the first time I had been on a vacation without him and at a place we had enjoyed together previously. It felt very strange. And it felt like a LONG time being away from my family. I missed them terribly. WAY more than I thought I would. I knew I would miss them but it was much more than that.

Todd sent me pictures and updates of what he and the kids were up to.

Todd took the kids to the free zoo close to our house.

They had a Top Chef cooking competition at home. Points were given for nutrition, presentation, sportsmanship, and cleanup. A genius way to get the kids to make their own lunches and then clean up the kitchen.

They even went to Green Bay and toured Lambeau Field. I have to admit, I was jealous. I never had a tour of Lambeau!

I know it sounds ridiculous but I was a little sad. I hate missing out on family fun. I really, really missed my family.
And I think that is a good thing. My little break was a good way for all of us to remember how lucky we are. I came home so thankful to be with my family again. And they had missed me too. The kids said it just wasn't the same without me and Todd was very grateful to have me home again.

It was a fantastic little break and I'm happy to be back.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let's Hear It For The Dads

A good father is immeasurable. I had a great father. He was a constant strong, loving force in my life. He was the person who gave me confidence and taught me to trust myself. He made me feel valuable. Priceless. He showed me that I deserved love. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a father. It is something I will carry with me throughout my whole life even though my father is no longer with me. I can still feel his love. I always will.
It is no wonder that I married an incredible man, eerily similar to my father, who is an amazing father to our children. I am so blessed to have these men in my life. My children are blessed. They too know the strong, unconditional love of a great father (Todd learned from an amazing father as well). I am so so grateful for the loving fathers in my life.
It was a great day to celebrate fathers. A little melancholy, as always, but wonderful nonetheless. 

Todd came home from up north this morning and the kids were super excited to give Todd his Father's Day gifts that they had thoughtfully and carefully picked out and paid for. Todd received peanuts, a beer bottle cozy, a non-leaky travel mug, his favorite lemon cookies, and many packs of gum. I gave him a watch with the kids' picture as the background on the face. It's pretty cool. The kids were pleased to see how much Todd liked his gifts and they insisted that he begin using them immediately. So, it was peanuts and beer for Todd at 9 o'clock this morning.  

Yay for Father's Day!

I hope all of the wonderful fathers in your life had a special Father's Day too!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Growth Spurts

Todd and the kids are currently up north. I am alone in the house. Even Molly has gone up north. The house is silent.

I am packing my bags for Mexico. In a little over an hour I will pick up Todd's mom and his two sisters and the four of us will drive down to Chicago and stay overnight so we can catch our early flight the next morning.  I am really looking forward to this trip.

And yet, I miss them already. Actually, the minute they pulled out of the driveway I missed them. Well, if I'm honest, I missed them even before they left.

Looking at the photos from the first and last day of school has really hit me. These kids are growing up. It is all going so fast. Seeing the physical evidence of their growth makes me want to enjoy every single second I have with them. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous. Yes, my kids make me crazy more often than I care to admit. The fighting and complaining and not listening, it is enough to make me lose my marbles. But when all is said and done I can't get enough of them.

A couple of weeks ago Joey and I were standing back to back to see how close he is to catching me in height. He was at least an inch or so away. Standing next to him yesterday we discovered he is no my same height. A couple of weeks, people! That's all it took.

Joe is going into eighth grade now. Eighth grade. I just don't see how that is possible.  He came home from the last day of school excited about summer and about his new crush (who not only went to school with him-she was a graduating 8th grader- but is also our neighbor). Feelings were confessed to each other and Joey's heart was bursting. Of course, he understands he is too young for dating but just knowing that his feelings are reciprocated put him on cloud nine. I suggested he ask her if she wanted to ask her to go for a bike ride and his nerves as he awaited her answer are something I will never forget. It was a precious moment. And that 20 minute bike ride was a moment I'm sure he will never forget.

Even as I write this I wonder if it is really mine to tell. He is growing old enough that his stories are his own and I'm just fortunate enough that he still confides in me. I don't want to break his trust and at the same time I don't want to forget these precious moments with him.

Tommy is moving on to middle school. Of course he will be at the same school he is now but it is still a big deal for him. A big change. He is nervous about the multiple teachers and the added responsibilities and homework that comes with middle school but I have absolutely no doubt he will handle it all beautifully. This year in 5th grade has really been a year of growth for Tommy too, and he has become such a diligent student, working hard and earning good grades.

Ben's class is so large that it is broken into two different classes (unusual for a parochial school but our school is growing quickly under our new fabulous principal). The teacher Ben had this year will be moving with the third graders to fourth grade. Ben was desperate to have his same teacher next year instead of being switched to the other teacher (who is also fabulous). I told him I would put in a request with the principal and when I did she told me that his teacher actually requested that Ben be in her class again as well. The love is mutual. This is the first year Ben has ever enjoyed school and the teacher has made all the difference. She acknowledges all his efforts and good behavior (almost every day he was "off the chart" on the good behavior chart) and Ben could not be more thrilled to see her again in 4th grade.

I can't even sum up how well Grace did her first year in full time school. All of the kids in her class went to kindergarten all day but Grace was only in half a day. I was slightly concerned she would be at the same academic level as all the other kids but my concerns were immediately wiped away when she started 1st grade. Grace's reading just took off and halfway through the year she began reading chapter books. She is a girl after my own heart and is always walking around with a book in her hand. Just precious. And math! The girl is a super genius! Amazing.

Grace is a mama's girl. She was not happy about leaving me behind nor was she happy that I will be gone when they get back. Tears were shed. Hers. I kept mine in. Barely.

So here I sit. Simultaneously excited and melancholy. I am ridiculous.

I really am looking forward to this trip. I have never taken a vacation without Todd or my kids. It is a new adventure for me. And I am excited.

I just pray that God keeps my precious kids safe and happy until I return. And hopefully they won't grow too much while I'm gone.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The First and The Last

This year has been quite a year of growth for my kiddos. And nothing drives that point home more than seeing the physical evidence. 

The kiddos on the first and last day of this school year.

It has been a wonderful year, with amazing teachers, first time experiences, great memories, sports and plays and musicals, hard work yielding good grades, and yes, much growth.  

It puts a pretty big lump in my throat to see my kids growing so quickly but I sure am proud of the people they are becoming.  And I am so grateful I get this summer to spend as much time with them as possible. Let's hope the time doesn't fly quite so quickly.

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