Sunday, April 30, 2017

God Bless Grace

It seems like just yesterday we were having Grace baptized. Today she received her First Holy Communion. It was a special day.

It was a very windy, cold, and rainy day. No outdoor pictures in front of colorful flowers. I was disappointed but I think it actually worked out for the best. I got a few very nice pictures of Grace sitting in front of the window in our dining room. They turned out really well.
I must admit that I was teary for the majority of the day. I tried mightily to hold back the tears as Grace lined up in the back of church. I just can't believe how quickly she is growing up. And she just looked so precious. My heart was overflowing.
Grace took the ceremony very seriously. When she saw this picture she wondered why she looked mad. I told her she has the same downturned mouth that her mama does so if we aren't smiling we either look sad or mad. Really, I think she was just concentrating.
When Grace was up at the altar with her baptismal candle she took a deep cleansing breath and exhaled. She accidentally blew out her candle. The man with the lighter was close by but she refused to speak up to get it lit again. The girl can be very shy. I could tell she was a little miffed that she had no flame.
Other than that very tiny little problem with the candle everything else went off without a hitch.

It was a beautiful ceremony.
Afterwards we had to get a few pictures of Grace with the family and the grandmas.
I just love this one of Grace. So sweet.
Ben, my little photographer, took a picture of Todd and I with Grace. I think he did a nice job!
When we got home I realized I had forgotten to get a picture of Grace with her banner. She was happy to pose for me again.
The boys were so proud of their little sister, and they were so sweet to her. They were lavishing her with love and praise, telling her that she was beautiful and looked like a princess. Joey even told her how proud he was of her and that he loved her very much. It was enough to make this mama cry.
Of course I had to get a picture of me and my girl too. Ben did a great job taking this picture as well.
We celebrated with cake and pizza and a few presents too.
As the day wore on and our guests left Grace still did not want to change out of her fancy dress. Not that I can blame her. It is too pretty of a dress to only get to wear one time. I wouldn't be surprised if she wanted to wear it to bed tonight.
It was a beautiful and holy day for my sweet girl.
Congratulations on your First Holy Communion, Grace! May God be with you and bless you today and always.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

They Know Me So Well... Kind of

I am not a morning person. I need a good amount of coffee to get myself moving in the morning. And I'm still not particularly chatty even after I've had my coffee. Because I am not a morning person I do not really enjoy eating breakfast. It just seems to sit in my stomach like a rock so early in the morning. As a matter of fact, I very rarely eat breakfast at all. If I have to eat something, maybe before a run, I will have a banana. I love breakfast foods, just not for breakfast. I am a conundrum.

Last weekend for my birthday the kids burst into my bedroom, at some ungodly hour, with a big tray of breakfast that they just made me. There was singing, and lights, and cameras, and all kinds of craziness while I was still only half conscious. It was quite the scene. I had all I could do to keep from laughing.

While it wasn't exactly how I pictured my birthday morning it turned out to be one of the most memorable birthdays I've ever had. The kids knew just how I liked my eggs, how light I prefer my toast, and how to prepare my coffee. Heck, they even brought me the crossword puzzle from the morning paper. They just temporarily forgot how much I liked my sleep in their haste to spoil me. And who could be upset about that? It was precious.

The rest of the day was more relaxing. I sat outside ALL DAY enjoying the unseasonally lovely weather. It was sunny and warm and my back patio was the perfect spot to sit and read my book. I barely moved all day. Every half hour or so one of the kids would come sit by me and ask me if they could get me anything. More coffee? Some ice water? A sandwich? They really were trying to make me feel special. It worked.

That evening Todd and I got spiffed up and went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. The food was amazing, as usual, and my chocolate martini was perfection. It was a fantastic birthday dinner. We finished the night at fundraising gala for our kids' school. I swear I am at some school event every year for my birthday (last year I was onstage with the boys for the school musical). It is becoming a habit. Not that I mind.

It was a very memorable birthday.
I hadn't asked for anything for my birthday but I received quite a bit. Lots of love and lots of spoiling. I am a lucky lady.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easter Rejuvenation

Life has not gotten any less busy around here regardless of the fact that we have just wrapped up a big time commitment with the school musical. We are still running from one meeting to the next, still busy with school commitments, and still dealing with a few very big changes for our family (which I will eventually get to revealing here, when the time is right). Life has been hectic.

Easter came at the perfect time. We definitely needed that renewal. Both emotionally and spiritually.

It was an added bonus that we actually had some lovely weather on Easter. Something that doesn't often happen in Wisconsin.

Easter mass was beautiful. And packed. Even though we arrived 20 minutes early the church was nearly full and we had to sit in the overflow seats up on the side of the altar. It was really where the kids had wanted to sit anyway so it all worked out. You really can't beat the view from those seats. The music was beautiful and the sermon was moving and motivating. It was a great way to begin our Easter.

Immediately after mass we met my side of the family at a golf course for a brunch buffet. Though it was a beautiful day it was also very windy. I definitely wore the wrong dress for such a windy day and I accidentally flashed a number of people throughout the day (even right out in front of church). I walked around with my hands and purse wrapped around my dress but it wasn't helping much. Good thing I had a slip on.  

We still managed to get a few nice family photos. And I didn't flash the camera, so that's good.

After brunch we went home and changed, the kids gorged themselves on more candy from their Easter baskets, and then we headed over to Todd's mom's house for more food. It was a food kind of day. I'm full just thinking about it

To try and wear off the affects of the food we all went outside for a game of catch.

Catch quickly turned into dodgeball.  And it got pretty aggressive and competitive.

And of course, my brother in law ended up on the ground. I swear that guy ends up on the ground at every family gathering. Don't worry. He was fine.

It was a wonderful rejuvenating Easter spent with family. It was just what we needed. And luckily, the kids had off of school the next day. It was a wonderful extended Easter weekend.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fiddler on the Roof

This past weekend was a Fiddler on the Roof weekend. Our school once again put on an impressive production. This time I got to be on stage with all three of my boys. I do not imagine that I will ever have this opportunity again. Fiddler will be Joe's last musical at this school as he will be graduating in a couple months. 

I can't tell you what being a part of these productions has done for him. I have seen him grow in confidence and embrace a part of himself, a talent, that he may not have otherwise known he possessed. I will forever be grateful and indebted to our two directors/producers, Tracy and Wally, for giving this opportunity to our school and our kids, and for sharing their passion and talent and love with all of us. What they have given to our school is immeasurable. What they have given to my family is immeasurable. What they have given to me personally, the memories I'll always cherish, is immeasurable. "Thank you" just doesn't seem to be sufficient.
(Joe as Motel, Tommy was a son/villager/bottle dancer, and Ben was a son/villager)

Our school has been so incredibly blessed with such professionals who are willing to give so much of their time and talents to give our students these opportunities. Giving these kids a chance to be a part of such an amazing production is something they will always remember.
Time and again I am approached by people who have seen a show at our school and they always want to tell me how amazed they are that such a show came out of an elementary school. It just doesn't seem possible.  And this year we had almost three weeks less than we normally do to prepare. We were cutting it pretty close and yet somehow we pulled it off.

Yes, it was another amazing show. But more important than that is the memories we made. The experience and courage that these kids are gaining and the love of theater, it is priceless. I can not express what it means to me to be able to share in this experience with my boys. What parent gets this opportunity? These memories? I am just so incredibly grateful. There really are no words.

Joe is feeling a bit melancholy. He has really enjoyed being in these shows. From the Tinman, to Simba, and now Motel, Joey worked hard, sang his heart out, and learned how to connect with the audience through his characters. Joey has been a big part of the last three shows. I honestly can't imagine doing the show without him next year. It makes me a bit choked up just to think of it. 

(Me and all my boys in our first, and probably last, musical all together)

I'm not crying. You're crying!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spring Break- Florida Style

I tell you, it really pays to have good friends. Last year Todd's friend offered up his RV for us to use on our spring break extravaganza to the Grand Canyon. This year another of Todd's friends (the brother of RV owner, actually) offered up his condo in Florida for us to use. My oh my, Todd's got some amazingly generous friends.

With the free lodging we decided that this year we would splurge and fly the kids down to Florida so that we could use the two extra days we'd have used driving for relaxation instead. This would be the very first time any of our kids had flown. Tommy had a mini meltdown when we told him that we were flying. He told us he was gonna stay home. He did NOT want to fly. After a few lessons on the science of flying and a book or two about flying (plus talking with all of his friends who have flown) he started to feel better about it.

When the big day arrived Tommy was nervous but he put on a brave face. Joey, who has forever been obsessed with flying and all things planes and wants to be a pilot, was beyond excited. Grace and Ben were both nervous and excited. And me? Well, I used to love flying until I had kids. Then I became a nervous wreck. But having my kids with me made flying so much fun again. Of course, I still had to have my ritual cocktail before the flight took off.
The kids were so excited to be at the airport watching all the planes. And, of course, Joey had to school us all on the types of planes and engines, etc.  The flight was extremely smooth and the kids loved it. Even Tommy!

We arrived at our condo pretty late and by the time we checked in it was way past bedtimes. We pretty much went straight to bed. But the next day was all about swimming and lying by the pool. The weather was perfect all week, right around 90 degrees and sunny. We basically hung out at the pool swimming and playing football the entire week. It made for a nice relaxing vacation. As much as a family vacation can be relaxing, that is.  😉

I have learned over the years not to pack any workout clothes when I go on vacation because they never get used and end up taking up needed space in my suitcase. Go figure that the first time I don't pack the workout clothes I wake up really wanting to go for a run. Joe suggested I wear his shorts, Todd lent me his sunglasses, and I used my regular non-running shoes. It made for a very odd outfit but it worked. I got in a great run and can now say that I have gone for a run (on vacation!) in which I had to keep an eye out for gators.  That was a little spooky, if I'm honest. Definitely a first.

We did take one day out of the week to visit our favorite, Universal Studios. We much prefer Universal to Disney. It fits our family perfectly. And everyone there is so amazing friendly and happy. The workers are amazing. As we were entering Universal we were trying to get a selfie in front of the sign and were struggling a bit. I had to lift Grace up a bit so we could see her in the pic.
There were workers standing there with their cameras to take pictures and one of them came up and asked if she would like us to take a picture of us. With MY camera! I was shocked! Here these people are put there to try and make money taking photos and she offered to take our family's pic for free on my phone! So nice! And we got a great pic!

Once again we had to visit Harry Potter's world at Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. So much fun. We drank frozen butterbeers and ate delicious fish and chips. We even had amazing dessert. So good. And this time we actually got to see the dragon spew his fire AND we caught it on camera! Score!

Ben also went on a huge rollar coaster (The Hulk) that he has been talking about for 2 years. Last time he wasn't quite tall enough. We also got to see an adorable animal show. It showcased famous animal actors like the pug from Men In Black, the bird from Ace Ventura, and quite a few other amazing animals. It was a highlight of my day.  We spent all day and into the night at the park (and really only left slightly early because Ben began to have a very upset tummy). We were exhausted after our exciting day. Good thing we had another relaxing day sitting at the pool the following day.

We decided that we'd had plenty of time by the pool during the week and we took one more trip down to Clearwater to see the Clearwater Aquarium and Rescue where Winter, the dolphin, resides. My kids are animal (and dolphin) lovers (like myself) and we love the movie Dolphin Tale. When I told them that we could see Winter and Hope (the dolphin that inspired Dolphin Tale 2) they really freaked out. I was just as excited as they were.
It was so amazing to see these two wonderful creatures playing with each other. AND I had a really special moment with Winter. I was standing at an observation window watching Winter swim and I caught her eye and she came swimming over to me RIGHT UP NEXT TO THE WINDOW. I put my hand up on the glass and she put her nose right on my hand. I open and closed my hand (like I was making a mouth) and she open and closed her mouth along with it. It was amazing. I feel like we bonded. She actually did that twice. She swam away for a while and then came back over to play with me some more. When other people saw Winter coming up to me they all rushed to my window and then she didn't do it again. But I was seriously excited. We had bonded.

After that high we took a little stroll along Clearwater's beach. It is a beautiful beach with incredibly soft sand. It was a bit too windy (which made it feel cooler than it was) and the water was too chilly for swimming but Grace and I had fun finding shells.  We didn't stay long but long enough for me to snap some pics.
The trip back to our condo took twice as long as it did on the way down. It was crazy traffic but it was still worth it to me. I flipping love dolphins and it had been a great day regardless of the three hour drive home.

Our last day of the trip was spent relaxing (again) and doing laundry and packing for our 6 a.m. flight the next morning. A VERY early flight for a family (had to get the kids up just before 3 a.m. so that we could leave by 3:30) but it got us back home by noon on Saturday. Just enough time to get everything unpacked, buy groceries, make dinner and relax a bit. Sunday the boys and I had rehearsal (for Fiddler on the Roof) at school all day so there wasn't too much time to unwind. And school and rehearsal have been crazy manic this week as the play is this weekend. Rush, rush, rush.  Back to the grind.

Good thing our vacation had so much relaxing time.

I wish we were back there right now...

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