Sunday, November 4, 2018

Picture Recap

Here I am! I'm still alive! I've been wanting to post for a while now but I just couldn't find the time. Now that I have an extra hour this morning I figured I'd better take the opportunity to post while I can.

We've had a busy few months. Of course the kids started back to school in September. They continue to grow and now two of my children are taller than me and the third is quickly gaining on me.

Molly and I often walk down to the end of the street to meet up with the kids getting off the bus when they come home from school. It's Molly's favorite part of the day.
I am back in school again as well. Although, I took a summer class so it wasn't like I was gone very long anyway. This semester's course load is pretty heavy. I guess they all will be for the next two years. It can be pretty overwhelming but I continue to do well. I don't know how. I feel like I can barely keep track of what is due when but I somehow get it done. My biggest struggle is to try and be the mom I want to be while being in school. It's tough. The kids were so used to their stay at home mom and I know I can't do everything the same way I used to. I don't like that. There is nothing more important to me than my family. I don't like how much time school sucks away from them. I'm still working on finding a good balance to make it all work.

The boys were in fall sports again. Tommy and Ben played football and Joe was in cross country.

Tommy's team was amazing and only lost one game all season. They even went to the playoffs. A great way to end their youth football "careers". Next time Tommy plays football it will be in high school. Oh my. Where does time go? Tommy is a defensive back but also played on special teams and a bit of wide receiver on offense.

Ben's team had a winning season as well. Ben was in for almost every single play of every game. He plays on offense (sometimes wide receiver, sometimes quarterback), defense, kick off, and special teams.

Joe had a tough cross country season. He really did a great job of working out year round and during summer his run times were amazing. Then, right before the first time trial he got a nasty cold. It hung on for weeks (we all got it and suffered through it for weeks as well). How he ran at all is a mystery to me, but his times definitely suffered. Finally he kicked the cold. His times started coming down. For four meets in a row he PR'd finally getting his time into the teens as he planned. Then he got another cold for the last meet. He ran anyway. Shortly after this pic was taken at the last meet he started shaking uncontrollably and was kind of breaking down. Really freaked out his coach and teammates. I came back and picked him up, gave him some food, and he was fine. But I guess he pushed himself a bit too much. All in all, I think it is a season he can be proud of.

Grace went to the Heritage School with her fourth grade class. It is something she has been looking forward to for a very long time. I ordered a "Laura Ingalls Wilder" outfit for her and it turned out pretty well. She definitely looked the part.

After waiting years to be an altar server Ben finally finished his training and was able to serve for the very first time. And, he was able to serve with his brothers! It was so wonderful sitting in the pew watching all three of my boys up at the altar together. It was a proud mama moment. 

Todd and I went to his best friend's wedding a few weeks back. It was the first time he and I have gotten away alone together for a long time. We missed the boys' last football games of the season (which was really difficult for us because Todd is the coach and it was against the cross-town rivals; but both of our boys' teams won). Luckily, Joe was texting me updates on the games. Todd's sister and mom drove the kids around all day but it was the first time the kids stayed alone overnight. They did great. And Todd and I had an amazing time.

The wedding was beautiful and it was a fabulous day. It was so much fun hanging out with the whole gang again. It had been too long.

I just recently started clinicals (on top of my regular classes as well) for nursing school. I now have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get out to the long term facility by 5:45. I am not a morning person. It's not easy getting up that early. And my nerves kind of kick my butt. Hopefully that will ease as I gain more confidence.

Luckily, I have two of my good school friends in my clinical group and we even carpool together in the morning. It is so good to have them there with me. 

Life sounds all rosy and lovely from the recap but there is sadness and stress as well. My mom has stopped her cancer meds. Last year the meds she was on (that worked for 13 years) stopped working. Her cancer cell counts had gone back up. The doctor tried a few other meds (there are not too many options) and this last one was making her completely miserable. She can barely walk a few steps without having to heave for breath. She feels like she can barely move. She can't sleep at night because she can't breath. Her immune system is way down so she can't leave the house. She has no energy to leave even if she wanted to. It is no way to live. She has had to quit choir, she can't even go to church, she can't take her dog for walks, she can barely get up to go to the bathroom. Last week she told the doctor that she was done with the meds. Now the doctor just wants to make her as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. I was hopeful that her quality of life would return when she went off the meds but so far she still feels awful.

Of course, if you've read my blog for any length of time you know how important my mom has always been to me. We are incredibly close. I've always considered her my best friend. This news has been tough on me, to say the least. But I respect her decision. I get it. She has been fighting this cancer for 13 years. And through it all she was always able to remain her. Five mile walks through the woods every day, always at church/choir, volunteering at the hospital, hanging out with her friends, doing yardwork, running errands, and being independent. It hasn't been like that for a long time. Even if the new meds would have work (which they weren't doing a great job anyway) this is no way for her to live. When she finally told her doctor that she was stopping treatment she was so relieved. She was so happy with the decision. Thirteen years ago when her diagnosis first came she was very ill in the hospital. We didn't think she would make it a few months. While she was unconscious she had an experience with Jesus. She talks about it often. She didn't want to stay on earth but Jesus wanted her to. She wasn't done here. So she agreed to come back. She took care of my dad through his Alzheimer's, saw the birth of two more of her grandbabies, witnessed First Communions, many holidays, birthdays, her son's wedding, and many celebrations. We are blessed and lucky that we received another 13 years with her. But she's had a good talk with God again and she feels this is the right thing to do. I hope we have her for a few more years (if her quality of life returns) but I doubt it. I have no idea how this is going to go. It could go quickly. I have no idea. Honestly, I try not to think about it too much.

So, this is heavy on my heart. I don't really know what to do with it all right now so I just put it to the side and carry on. Life happens as it should, I suppose. I just pray I can be there for my mom as she needs me to be. I pray I can be there for everyone I love. Life gets so crazy, and I have so much on my plate, but nothing is more important to me than loving my family. I just want to be there.

I hope all is well with you, my lovely friends. I hope life is treating you well and that health and happiness surround your lives and your families. Please keep my mom in your prayers (if you are the praying kind), and I will continue to pray for you all, my friends.

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.

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