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...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bottomless Pig

It is the Science Fair time of year again. A dreaded time in my house. I usually have to help run two projects, which equals approximately 8 experiments, at a time. Let's be honest, the parents really do help out a lot with these projects. 

However, this year was a little different. This year the science teacher announced that siblings can work together even if they are in different grades. Hallelujah! AMEN! So very exciting. Saves me so much time and energy, let me tell you.

Joey and Tommy, thankfully, decided to work together and they chose their guinea pig as their subject. I have to say, this was the easiest, and cutest, experiment we've ever done. It was actually fun working on the project. And having older children once again paid off because they really did the majority of the work. 

Not only that but the boys ended up taking home 2nd place! Way to go, boys! I must admit I was a little surprised. It was a fairly simple experiment (Which food does a guinea pig prefer?). Perhaps the cuteness of the pig helped. 
Stanley is a very cute pig. I'm sure that Stanley loved his part in the experiment as well. Tons of food for days on end. I guess it turned out well for everyone.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Golden Dozen

Still as cheeky, and kissable, and huggable, and squeezable as he was back then. Now he is 12. He is one sassy charmer, this kid. Always the Goldensbear.

Tommy is always one to come home and ask how my day was. He is the one who will crazy dance with me for every song at a wedding. He is the one who can tell when I am upset and is quick to give me a hug and tell me he loves me. He is a good listener. He is a good son and friend. He goes out of his way to play with Grace when he thinks she is being left out. He always shares with Ben and Joe and is quick with a compliment and encouragement. He is a good brother.

He is also dramatic and emotional and moody. He can be demanding and impatient and persistent to annoyance. I kid him often and say, "You're lucky you're cute." He is lucky he is so charming too because it is easy to quickly forgive this kid. Especially since he gets his dramatic, emotional moodiness from me. I get it. I get him.

He is quick witted and fun. He is always making us laugh with his weird made up characters with goofy facial expressions and odd voices. He likes the spotlight but he doesn't steal the spotlight from others. He is generous and kind.

There are so many things to love about this kid. He is hard working and determined. He is naturally talented in many different areas. He is just as comfortable talking with adults as he is with kids and he puts people at ease. I know this kid will go far in life not only because of his gifts and hard work but with his charm as well.

This boy wears his heart on his sleeve. He is one big walking heart. I am so proud to be his mama. I love him so very much.

Happy Birthday, Thomas! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


I've been fighting off a bit of the blues lately. The down in the dumps. A general blah. 

It has been going on for a few weeks (months?) and I just can't seem to shake it. I have been short tempered, cranky, and a bit depressed. I can't really put my finger on it. I don't think it is just a seasonal thing. I'm thinking that the state of our country and world is a big part of it. You just can't escape the anger and meanness of people these days. It is hard for me to deal with all the negativity. 

And, too, my personal life has been hectic. There is the usual but there are also some possible big changes on the horizon which are both exciting and nerve wracking.  Add to that the usual parenting dilemmas and uncertainty and growing pains and I am just a bit of a mess lately.  

For lent I decided to dedicate a bit of my day to prayer and reflection. It has become a rejuvenating part of my day. Like meditation. It brings a peaceful element to my day. I am really enjoying it.  

Today the sun made an appearance. It was much welcome from the snowstorms and gloom we'd been having.  It wasn't terribly warm but it was getting close to the 50s and my back patio had warmed up enough for me to venture outside.  The 40-50 mph winds were muted in my backyard by the house and the trees. It was a little haven. 

I made myself a cup of coffee, sat down on my patio, and began my prayers. I listened to the birds singing and fighting over the bird feeders a few feet from me, and Molly lay at my feet soaking up the sun with me.  I stayed there for quite a while. It seemed the meditation, prayers, coffee, vitamin D, little critters, my dog, and nature were just what I needed. 
As I finally got up to go back inside I really had to chuckle to myself. My mind recalled all the times when I was growing up that I would come home from school and find my mother doing the same thing I had just done. Sitting in the backyard on her swing, dogs at her feet, watching the birds, with a rosary in her hand and a book at her side my mom always looked so peaceful. And now I know why.

I guess it's official. The transformation into my mother has begun.

Monday, March 6, 2017

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Parenting success: When your 10 year old zings you with sarcasm.  😊

So, I'm pitching a proper fit about having to run out to the grocery store at the last minute before dinner for a missing ingredient (regardless of the fact that I was just at the store that morning- and the day before-twice)...

Me: "Gah!!!!! I can't believe I have to go to the store AGAIN!!! Ahhhhh!!! Stupid store. I am ALWAYS at the dumb store. Bah!!! Crap!!! NOOooooo!!!!! Dang it!!!!! Dang!!! DANG!!!! AHH!!!!!"

Ben, completely straight faced: "But at least you're being a good sport about it."

It honestly made me laugh so hard that it turned my mood right around. It was so perfectly delivered. So spot on. I laughed all the way to the store and back again. I tell you laughter really is the best medicine.

Looking at the picture above makes me laugh too. I wanted to capture Ben's straightfaced delivery but he was so pleased with how much he made me laugh that he couldn't stop smiling. I think he had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep himself from smiling and laughing.  Funny kid.

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