Friday, February 24, 2017

Fantastic Fourteen

Joey turned 14 years old today.

This guy. This guy right here is now fourteen. This silly little weirdo is still making me laugh daily and making me smile.

I have spent much of my motherhood dreading my babies growing up. And to a point, I still do. I can't imagine a day when this little man leaves my home. I honestly can't even think about it. But I have also gained new perspective on what it means to have older children. There are certainly new struggles but there are so many more joys. And with Joey being my first teenager he is definitely making "teenager" a fun, pleasant, and enjoyable experience. 

It wasn't the greatest birthday for him. We barely had time to celebrate. There was school, a basketball bust up party, and then rehearsal for the school musical. It was jam packed. But we managed to sneak in a little bit of birthday fun.

Joe brought glazed donuts in for his classmates today for his birthday treat. And because he hasn't gotten any demerits at school he was able to pick a special incentive and he chose to wear jeans on his birthday. Being a uniform kid and being able to be the only kid in school wearing jeans for a day was actually pretty fun for him.  It turned out to be a fun day of school.

After school we opened his presents (lots of model planes, a Nerf gun, and some Nike stuff), sang "Happy Birthday", and Joe ate his birthday turnovers. Joe is not a fan of cake and didn't want brownies. I had to think of something and knew he loved cherry turnovers and he was pretty happy with that. I got cupcakes for his siblings (they were pretty disappointed about the no cake thing so I had to get them a little something to celebrate with) and Joey scarfed his turnovers down in approximately two minutes. Both of them. Egad. 

Before we knew it it was time to go. Joe had to get to his basketball bust up party. He had a great time eating pizza with his teammates and coaches and watching Hoosers. And I brought in a bunch of cookies for everyone as a birthday treat. Joey had a great time.

From there (luckily this was all at school) Joey had to go straight to the musical rehearsal. He had a pretty good time there too and I also brought cookies as a birthday treat for the whole cast as well. This was the most sweets (and junk food) Joey has had in, I don't know, EVER.  That always makes for a good day in a kid's mind.

We got home pretty late and yet Joe and I stayed up even later laughing and talking and having a blast. I showed him the Facebook post I wrote about his birthday and all of the comments from family and friends. He loved it. And when he saw a Pusheen the Cat emoji from one of our friends he couldn't stop laughing. We spent the next half hour looking up Pusheen the cat pictures. We were laughing so hard and being so ridiculous that when we saw mugs and stuffed animals of the cat we decided to order one for him and one for me. Todd thought we were crazy but I was eating it up. It was a silly little purchase but it will always remind me of Joe's 14th birthday party and how much fun he and I had together late that night.

You see, I have no idea how long this lasts. How much longer do I have with this boy like this? How much longer will he want to stay up laughing and goofing around with his mom? How much longer will he want to have inside jokes with me, or want me to be in a play with him, or confide in me, or even like the same things as me? I'm sure there will come a time when this will not be the norm. I know it is probably coming soon. But for now, I am soaking it all up as much as I can. 

Tomorrow Joe has a Young Eagles meeting at the airport (for kids interesting in planes and flying- they eventually take him up in a plane and then teach him to fly) and then we will visit the EAA Museum (per Joe's request- he is SUPER obsessed with planes) in Oshkosh and visit with his godfather (and Todd's best friend). It will be a fun day for Joe. And he deserves it. 

This kid works really hard. He tries hard. He wants to be good. He wants to do good things. This world is a better place because he is in it. I am so proud to call this young man my son. I love him so very much.

Happy 14th Birthday, Joe!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


It brings me such joy to watch the lovely shades of pink and red creeping into my kids' faces when I yell their personalized messages of love out my car window as they enter school. I know Joe thinks that he will be getting a ride to school from his older cousin next year but I really think he will miss my public declarations of love. "JOE!!!! Hey, Joey!! I LOVE YOU!!!!! Have a great day, honey!" I think he would really enjoy letting his new high school friends see how much his mommy loves him.
Something he should keep in mind.

Today, since it was Valentine's Day I had to up my game. Along with special chocolates and little gifts that I gave them this morning I really wanted to "personalize" my love for them even more. As I dropped them off for school this morning they tried their best to outrun my pronouncements but I would not be deterred.  I was actually able to drive after them a little ways as I shouted out my personalized "I love you!"s.

Tommy was kind enough to hold the door for a bunch of people behind him and I seized the opportunity to shout, "Bye Tommy!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!"  He handled it well. Especially considering there was a mom walking her children into school and she turned around laughing and gave me a thumbs up.

Ahh, good times.

Ya gotta love Valentine's Day.

Special shout out to this guy:
I don't much believe in made up holidays but I certainly believe in us.

Happy Valentine's Day, all! I hope you all have a lovely day and are able to announce your love to all those who are special to you.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Big Ten, Big Ben

Last week my Benny Bear turned 10. Double digits. My baby boy.

It was such a busy day that we had to wake everyone up early so that Ben had a chance to open presents. After school it was homework, three different basketball practices, and then play rehearsal. There wasn't even time for a special birthday dinner or cake! What a crazy birthday!
However, being that it is his big 10, Ben knew he had a special party to look forward to. Ben was very happy and excited about his present on his birthday morning but he was even more excited for his birthday party at the local waterpark the following weekend. 

Ben has an extra large class (it is broken into two classes) and he decided to just invite a handful of friends. And no girls (except for his sister). It was a very nice group of kids and everyone had a great time. Especially Ben!

Ben was so excited to finally get his big 10 birthday party. Unfortunately, it all went by so quickly. He said it was the best birthday EVER and he was a little sad when it was all over.

Ten years of loving this kind, funny, compassionate, silly kid. My gentle Ben. I'm so proud of this boy. Always trying so hard to be good, to do the right thing, to do his best. I'm so lucky to have him in my life. So lucky I get to be his mama.  What a gift.

Happy Birthday, my dear Benny Bear! I am so proud to be your mama.
I love you!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Happy To Serve

It seems like just yesterday when Joe and Tommy would insist on escorting Father Ed out of church after mass every Sunday. It started when Joe was only two years old. Father Ed was a good friend of ours and when he walked down the aisle past us on the way out of church Joe reached his arms out. Father grabbed him and carried him out. And a tradition was born. Every Sunday Joe would stretch his arms out and Father would carry Joe out of church. The congregation really got a kick out of it. The minute Tommy was old enough to reach out to Father he did. He saw big brother and Father and wanted to join in. Father would walk out carrying Tommy and holding Joey's hand. 

When we heard that Father was retiring we were very sad. He was a wonderful priest and a great friend. This picture is from his last mass at our church. Father had just baptized a baby and was holding the baby on the way out but that didn't deter my boys. Of course, Joe and Tommy had to escort him out of church one last time. 

Today Joe and Tommy served at mass for the very first time. As I glanced up at them I couldn't help but think of those two little boys who would escort our priest out of church. My how time flies.
The boys were happy to have their friend, and Joey's classmate, serve with them. Aiden is an old pro and was very helpful. Every time the boys did something right Aiden would give them a supportive head nod. Made me smile.

It was also a very memorable first time serving as a bat came out of hiding and flew freely about church. It caused quite a commotion but the boys did a good job staying focused.

Ben had a little bit of a hard time watching his brothers serve. He was super disappointed to learn he had to wait until 5th grade, not 4th grade as he thought, to be a server. One more year to go. Before you know it all three of my boys will be serving at mass together.  

I was very proud of these boys today. God bless you, Joe and Tommy!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Another year gone. Another year beginning. It is difficult to grasp. I feel like I was finally getting used to writing 2016 and now it is 2017.

I know that 2016 was a pretty crazy year for our world and our country but it was a pretty great year for our family. For me personally, I think it was one of my best years ever. I was able to do more traveling this year than I have done collectively over the last 5-10 years. As a family we took an RV 4000 miles through Vail, to The Grand Canyon, over to Las Vegas, and back home again. It was a trip of a lifetime. I was also able to go with my lady in laws to Mexico and we had a blast! Then I had yet another fabulous trip to Las Vegas for a few days with my bff. I was so lucky with all the traveling I was able to do this year.

I turned 40 this past year, which I didn't think would end up being on my "good" list but I'm loving 40. I feel like I am at a point where I am more accepting of myself and less concerned with what other people think of me. I finally got my nose pierced like I've always wanted because I stopped being worried about what people would think. I am also more able to accept others' differing opinions and let go of things I can't change. I just feel more peaceful, really.

This past year I had the pleasure of being in a musical with Joey and Tommy again. I went skiing and swimming and biking with the kids. We took multiple trips up north. We have had a very fun and active year. The kids played a ton of sports (baseball, basketball, dance, football) and it was fun watching them too.

This past year I finally updated my wedding ring. Todd has been wanting me to do this for 10 years but I am so sentimental I just couldn't bring myself to it. It wasn't a big change. We just changed the band from gold to white gold (I had been wanting to do that for a long time but I just didn't like the thought of changing my wedding ring) and added very thin anniversary bands. It looks amazing. I was VERY nervous about the whole thing but it really turned out lovely.

I know this seems silly but I started getting my nails done this past year. It may not sound like a big deal but it has been for me. For the past two years my nails had been awful. I don't know what happened but they were always cracked and peeling. Not only does it look awful but it was painful as well. I finally decided to have fiberglass put over my nail bed and have them done every month. I can't tell you what a difference that has made. I had tried everything to get my nails healthy (vitamins, oils, lotions, nail strengtheners, etc) but they never got any better. Getting my nails done has taken so much time away from me trying to fix them myself. And it has been fun too! I am never one to indulge myself in unnecessary expenses (the woman I go to is crazy inexpensive and she is fantastic!) but this one has been well worth it. 

Again, I know this sounds like a silly thing but I have struggled with bad skin all my life. Since I was a teenager I have had acne. I always thought it would clear up as an adult. It actually got worse. I have literally tried everything. Diet, dermatologists, Proactive, old wives tails, coconut oils, facial scrubs, etc. Seriously. Everything. This past year I finally have found something that has worked for my skin. I'll probably do another post on it some other time in case anyone else is looking for help with their skin. But let's just say that it has been a dramatic change for me. Unless you've struggled with skin problems you really can't know how it can affect you. My skin isn't perfect but it has been so much better that I would almost call it life changing. It has only been about 4 months so far but it has been fantastic!

I got a new cell phone (finally a smartphone instead of my dumbphone) for my birthday, which was really more exciting for my family than it was for me. I must admit, I have enjoyed having it much more than I thought I would. Very convenient. Now I'm finally not living in the dark ages.  😉
Again, silly little thing to even mention but little things sometimes feel like big things to me. 

It really seemed to be a year of trying new things. 

That's not to say that this past year wasn't without problems. It certainly was. My mom, once again, had some very serious health problems and I wasn't certain she would be able to pull through this time. Another very scary trip to the ER and an ambulance ride to a bigger hospital an hour away. Another surgery and another stay in the hospital an hour away from us. It was very worrisome, to say the least. Her health continues to be a worry for me. 

There were other troubles and trials too (many heartbreaking family problems and struggles) but in looking back they are not what I remember most. Mostly, I remember that it was a good year.

This morning in church our priest was saying that whatever this new year holds we have to embrace it all with open arms. The good and the bad. We have to accept it all and put our faith in God. It really spoke to me because I am a well known clinger. I do not like change. Looking back on the past wonderful year it makes me sad to leave it in the past. Could this next year possibly compete? Maybe not. But whatever it has in store for us I will try to embrace it all.

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

That's A Wrap

Christmas was a whirlwind. Just when you think you've got everything done and it is time to relax a wrench is thrown into the plans. 

On the last day of school before Christmas break Grace was in a nativity play. Every year the second grade class presents the play to the school and this was the last time our kids would get to be a part of it. Grace was an angel. She read her lines very well and she definitely looked like an angel.
She had fun directing her choir of angles too. The angels were adorable and the nativity play was precious.

This year I busted my butt so that by the time the kids were out of school I was done with all the Christmas prep.  All the presents had been wrapped, all the treats had been made, all the last minute errands had been run. It was great! I actually felt fairly calm.

Enter the wrench. On Christmas Eve we went over to Todd's mom's house and Ben's godmother got him the exact present that he asked for from Santa (a big Nerf gun).  Panic!!!!  It just would not do to have Ben get such an anticlimactic gift from Santa. This is the last year Ben will have the fun of Santa (I'm sure he is already privy to Santa but didn't want to give up the act before the big day). I had to figure out something, and quick.

Cute part of the story is how my two older boys, Joe and Tommy, (who have been helping me figure out what Santa should get for Grace and Ben) reacted when they saw the Nerf gun Ben had gotten from his godmother. They tried to hide it but they were so upset. They both pulled me aside and told me how upset they were. There were actually worried for me. Tommy told me that he was just sick about it. It was actually kind of sweet, them being so worried about me having to figure something out. I kept telling them it was not a big deal but they were stressed. Made me giggle and definitely helped me to keep my calm over the silly little situation.

I ended up running out to the store on Christmas Eve and getting Ben something that he had asked for last minute (a camera). When we got home I unwrapped the original present and wrapped the replacement present. It was all a little crazy but it did work out in the end.

The stage was set and now we were truly ready for Christmas.
(I swear I did not make the dog sit there. The minute she saw my camera and me focused on the tree she went and sat down in front of it. This crazy dog LOVES the camera!)

Christmas morning was a lot of fun. There were fun surprises all around. I love surprising the kids with things they think they could never have. It worked last year with the Kindles and I actually managed to find some stuff for this year too. Not as exciting as Kindles, but the kids loved it. I even managed a surprise for Todd. He is usually the worst to shop for because all he really wants is hunting stuff or tractor stuff. Nothing I can pick out or get for him. This year I blew up a gorgeous pic (my current header pic) of the kids up north in front of the lake and put it on a canvas for him to hang in his office. Honestly, I think I was more excited to give this gift than anything else. It was a lot of fun. He loved it.
Christmas morning we went to mass, came home to relax a little bit, and then went over to my mom's house for another lovely get together. Overall, Christmas was pretty darn nice.

The day after Christmas we packed everything up and went up north to the cabin. I haven't been there in a couple months and I was really looking forward to getting away. I took 4 books up with me and finished them all. Okay, I was mostly done with the first one and when I began reading the next I figured out that I had already read it. But still. Lots of good reading.

The highlight of the week was our ski trip to Ski Brule. It was so much fun. It was the most relaxed I've ever been skiing since we've had kids. It is really all falling into place now. Grace and I spent the morning on the bunny hill, working on turning and stopping, and Todd and the boys hit the hill. We met for lunch and then all went on the big hill together. Grace was having a little bit of trouble on the bigger hills so after we had some hot chocolate she and Todd went back to the bunny hill and the boys and I skied together. Joe actually asked to ride up the lift with me. Yay! My teenager wants to hang with me! 💗
With some prodding I convinced the boys to run some tougher trails with me. This is the first time in a long time that I've been able to ski something other than a green. I forgot how much fun skiing (actual skiing, not just the bunny hill) can be. Especially with my boys! They did really well. I was so proud of all my kids and how brave they were and how much they pushed themselves. It was a great day.

A couple more days to relax, a little party with our up north neighbors, and before we knew it it was time to come home. When I told Grace it was time to go home she yelled, "WHAT? I thought you said we were gonna stay up here all week?"  I explained that Monday through Friday was a full week. Time flies when you're having fun!

When we got home it was a flurry of unpacking and putting everything in its place, laundry, grocery shopping, and a million errands (library, bank, 4 different stores to return things that weren't working). I was glad that we had decided to just hang at the house for a very laid back New Year's Eve.

Unfortunately for Todd he came down with a peach of a cold. Luckily, we had enough food to temporarily distract him.  Yum!

We all made it to midnight (except for Todd- poor guy) and welcomed the New Year in properly. I am so happy to be able to start another year with these amazing people in my life. I am so grateful.  
It was the perfect way to wrap up a beautiful holiday and a wonderful year.

Hope you all have a blessed, healthy, and happy 2017!

Friday, December 23, 2016


Here we are. The golden "hour". The craziness of the holidays has subsided. The presents are wrapped and treats have been made. Snow is falling, fire in the fireplace, and a cocktail in hand. Now we sit back and soak in all the Christmas goodness. 🎄

Hoping you can find a little quiet time to bask in the goodness of the season amid all the hustle and bustle.

From our family to all of you, we wish you a blessed, peaceful, and Merry Christmas, a very Happy Hanukkah, and a lovely and Happy Holidays!

**Photobomber, Molly, would also like to wish you Seasons Greetings! **

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