Thursday, May 11, 2017

Flying High

Last week was a week that Joe will never forget. 

At this time last week Joe was on his 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C. All year round his class held car washes, bake sales, a massive rummage sale, and a few cookouts to help raise money to go on their trip. It was a ton of work. And it all paid off. The trip was something I'm sure none of those kids will forget. 

Joe was fortunate enough to be picked to represent his school and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Joe has been a history buff and interested in the military for as long as he can remember so this was a huge honor for him. He took it extremely seriously.

I have a amazing video of the whole thing but I couldn't get it to upload to my blog for some reason. I think the file was just too big. I'll try again later.  Listening to Taps being played as the kids stood with their hands on their hearts makes me emotional every time. 
In order to place a wreath you need to sign up at least a year in advance. Luckily, Joe's teacher has been taking kids on this trip for the last 7 years or so and she has it down to a science. 
Joe was so thankful to be able to participate in such an honor. 
The kids were able to visit just about every major monument and museum in DC and they were only there for three days.

It was nonstop walking. In those three days they walked almost 50 miles.
Todd was more than happy to be the group navigator.

On Wisconsin!
They visited and took tours of the White House, the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, Arlington Cemetery,

 all the veteran memorial walls,

saw many veterans tear up at the memorials,

shook hands with veterans visiting on honor flights and thanked them for their service,
and helped them when their wheelchairs got stuck on the cobblestone.

They visited Ford's Theater, Union Station, and the Library of Congress,

the Holocaust Museum,

 the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument,

 the Lincoln Monument,

they went to the zoo,

they went to mass at the Basilica,
and posed by the statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the namesake of their school.
They even went on a ghost tour.
It was an absolutely amazing trip for all the kids, and the chaperones as well. Todd was lucky enough to be able to go on the trip with Joe and they both had an fantastic time. 

Joe even got to room with his best friends! 

I am so grateful that so many chaperones took a ton of pictures (far too many to show here) and sent them to me because Todd didn't take ANY. Can you believe that? I am a photo freak and the dude doesn't take any pictures. So glad I have all of these fantastic pics. I even have pics of them eating (and praying) at The Hard Rock Cafe and Gadsby's Tavern Museum.

It was a fabulous and also an exhausting trip. They walked until almost 10 o'clock every night and they would get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to start walking again. They got home at midnight on Friday, happy and exhausted.

Of course there is no rest for the weary. Saturday morning Todd was up bright and early to head up north and plant 200 trees across the road from the cabin with Ben and Tommy. Joey was also up bright and early for his Young Eagles meeting at the airport.

To Joe's pleasant surprise it was a meeting in which the kids would be able to actually go up in a plane with an instructor. Joe was super excited, to say the least.

Joe was even more excited that he got to sit up front. AND he was BEYOND excited when he got to FLY THE PLANE. That's RIGHT! JOE FLEW THE PLANE. And he flew for a good 15 minutes, up the Lake Michigan coast, over our house, and back to the airport. He wasn't expecting it at all but the instructor handed the plane over to Joe with complete confidence. 

I wasn't expecting it either and when the pilot told me that Joe did a great job flying the plane my jaw dropped. Amazing. 

The Young Eagles club is such an incredible program. It only costs $5 per meeting (they meet once a month) and going up in the plane is FREE. Can you believe that? What these kids are learning is invaluable. They get flight experience and log hours for free. Incredible! 

Joe earned his Young Eagles certificate and is officially logged in to the EAA logbook in Oshkosh, WI. So very exciting.

It is definitely a day Joe will never forget. He bought an aviation hat to remember his first flight ever and I wrote the date and time on the back of the hat in permanent marker.

It was a completely amazing and wonderful few days for Joey. He is so grateful for that week of his life. I know it is something he will never forget.

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.

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