Yes, this title is morbid. But, we really should be talking about it and preparing for it. It's been on my mind all week. Yes, Phil almost killed me on Monday when he saw the cc bill. By Wednesday we were talking again. He's not excited about my Birthday trip, but he knows he's going. He doesn't want to discuss it. Maybe it's because I applied for a job, Visiting Angels. I have an interview tomorrow and will tell you all about it. I finished reading Being Mortal. I highly recommend it. It makes you think about what happens right before you die. Lots of interesting conversations about that this week. I played tennis and had lunch with my friend, Rachael. Her step dad died the night after we were together. He'd been on Hospice. Her brother is on Hospice, too. So, she's in the middle of all of it now. I rode bikes to the park with my friend, April. She keeps an eye on her aging mom and soon her dad. Even the homily at mass was about planning your funeral. I took a pic of a funeral program I saw to start that. Phil and I hung out a lot at the church this weekend. We gave a pulit talk about doing online giving with Faith Direct after all the masses! We got a lot of compliments- it was fun. I tried to work on my sleep quality this week. I went to bed early every night to no avail. I gave up by Friday and did a girls nightcap. Four hours and I felt the same as I did with 8! At least this time I had fun and got a new, fun fall pedi with Tracy's stamps. We had a MOPS fashion meeting. I rode with Anne to Arlington for a STEM story time that was pretty cool. It was a low key weekend. We went to the boy scout spaghetti dinner on Friday night (before I met the girls). Saturday morning was slow with a family breakfast. Phil and I went to TCC to watch some tennis. The girls worked on science projects. Marly needed lots of guidance. I took Ellie to Nutcracker. The littles and I caught the end of Alex's soccer game. Then we went to Porchfest- live bands playing on people's porches in Springfield. It was fun, with great, chilly weather! Phil took Marly to a Birthday party. We brought pizza home after our church talk. Sunday, we finally got to mass early enough for Marly to altar serve! It was her first time! Ellie helped her a bunch and she did great! I'm so proud of her! We went to dinner at my parents. Ellie said she had the most fun with her cousins. They played outside the whole time. When we got back from our talk we watched Home Alone together. Today is Veterans Day. We spent the day at the beach. I had plenty of time to think about Veterans Day and what it means to me. I don't like the idea of war and think we often fought in unnecessary ones. But, I am grateful to be an American. I feel very lucky to have been born here where we can disagree and have so many choices. It was such a nice day out there. The kids had a ball. I read my book. I'm reading a Danish thriller to complete the 2019 challenge called Chestnut Man. I'm also listening to an American Marriage for book club. We stopped at my favorite Thrift Store on the way home. Ellie got a few new things. I had put on a crockpot pot roast before we left so it was nice to come home to that. Yes, we are so lucky!
I saved up a bunch of Orange Park-ish errands for Monday. Spot and I ran then headed to my ole friend Courtney's to borrow her soup bowls of my china pattern. I even got some duck eggs (which are just as good, by the way). I returned Owen's Halloween costume to my sister and picked up more thread. I hosted book club on Monday night to discuss The Good Daughter. It was still so hot but I made this pumpkin soup, which I ate all week long until it got cold, ironically. Book club turned into a rager. I invited 2 new people who finally showed. We stayed up until 2am talking books and life. It was good. I finished off fall fest by helping Lauren comb through silent auction prizes. I delivered a bunch and it felt good to close that chapter. It was early release on Wednesday. Meghan saved me from the horror by hosting a pumpkin painting play date. Still so hot, it turned into a river play date. Phil was helpful and picked up Ellie from pointe so it wasn't so bad of an evening. On Halloween morning I was voluntold to be a face painter for Voss' Halloween party at school. It was easy and I made a new friend. I scrambled to finish a few last minute costumes. Sticking with the theme to re-use dance recital costumes- we went with the Little Mermaid. The kids really came up with it all; I just made it happen. Next year, remind me to go with something easier. Or maybe I should have done less DIY? I don't know but it sure started out rocky. Temper tantrums over costumes. Ellie decided Ursala was ugly and she didn't want to look ugly. I think she looked great. Maybe it was the heat? We were sweating. Arial lost her fork. Do we bring Spot? No. Did I mention it was hot? Ugh. Woow. Our generous neighbors were wonderful and took pictures and gave huge candy bars. We visited my parents then headed to the Forest. We missed the crew and went on our own lap. Ellie went out on her own and met up with friends. We all just sorta sweat together. Jess made this awesome chicken chili, which I still ate in the heat. Oh Halloween. Friday morning we got up early- well some people got up really early to organize and start eating it all. Voss and I picked up my mom and went All Saints Day mass at St. Joes to see my nephews. Alex dressed up at St. George, the patron saint of the boy scouts. It was a nice mass. Voss and I just sorta hung out all day. Over night it turned into fall. It's crazy how much the temperature dropped! We are candy all day. I went ahead and booked my Birthday trip. I am so excited about it. I think it definitely put some pep in my step. Phil must not have seen the charge hit, because he's about to loose his mind. Friday night was Gourmet on the Green, one of the best parties at TCC. The weather was perfectly fall, great people, food and wine. Another rager- dancing to a great band until 1am on the golf course! Of course Lillians followed. Saturday morning I woke up with 5,000 steps- it was that good! I took the kids to Walmart to pick out their Switch Witch item. Now we need to get rid of all this candy! I played in a tennis match. Sarah and I got whipped. I don't think we should have. There was a lot of crappy tennis being played. We went to the park while Ellie had Nutcracker then headed to St. Augustine to meet up with Phil's parents and aunt and uncle visiting from Ecuador. It was still chilly. We walked around the city for a bit then had apps and kids dinner at an outdoor place with live music. I practiced lots of Spanish because Tia Maria Elena doesn't speak much English. It was good! I drove their car back up to Jax and caught up with Pops while the tios rested. We put the kids to bed then went to TCC for a late dinner. This morning we fell back in time. It was nice to get some extra sleep (although the quality wasn't as good according to my FitBit app. How do I work on quality?!) Abu made pancakes then we went on a morning boat ride. It was chilly but sunny. We had a really nice visit. I'm so flattered Rodrigo and Maria Elena came all the way up here to see us. They headed out to Ocala for more visiting. I took the girls to religion class. We had a low key afternoon. Science projects, took down Halloween decorations and put up Thanksgiving decor. We had an early dinner of pork tenderloin then went to mass tonight. Great music, crummy behavior. Early bedtime for all! It finally feels like fall, y'all!
My week began with me having jury duty! I've been waiting YEARS for this opportunity! I had a great time! My friend, Tracy helped me out taking Voss to and from school. I could have gotten out of it because Voss is under 6, but luckily the village stepped in. My friend, Lori was able to pick up the girls from school. I wasn't released until around 3! Yeah, I didn't get chosen. I was bummed- I would have liked to see how that went down. It was crazy. I man allegedly raped a little girl. The real crazy part was that he was representing himself! It felt like I was on a TV show. It didn't make me feel too good about humanity, though. Still, an awesome experience and I got a $15 check in the mail a few days later! Meghan hosted a MOPS girls night in her hot tub on Monday night. I really like our new group. It was a rainy afternoon, but misty by the time we got in the hot tub. So nice! Tuesday and Wednesday were down days. Trying to work through my to do list. I've been working on this online silent auction for the school fall fest. Lots of prep work, but I think it paid off. I had a silhouette order and the MOPS blog to catch up on. I still need to do the CEE one. Thursday, Tracy helped me again taking Voss to school. I headed out to Ponte Vedra with my coffee and NPR (making money just driving with this new app Meghan told me about) to play in a tennis tournament. Somehow I'm on the C team sub list and am always flattered when they ask me to play. I was finally able to make it happen. I played with Cat, another C team sub who I actually met in the suite at the Jags game (typical Jacksonville). We totally won, which was so cool! It took us a game to figure it out, but I'm glad we made it happen. I even got to take a quick walk to the beach before having to grab Voss. We celebrated Spot's first Birthday in the park that afternoon. We got ice cream and dog bones. Fun for all! I crashed my new friend, Alison's book club that night to discuss the Bluest Eye. She has a neat group. I don't know that I can handle two book clubs but I might try. I didn't stay out late, I had to get back to get ready for Friday. Friday was one of those nutty days that didn't stop. The Fall Fest was finally upon us! The morning started with a costume parade with MOPS in the nursing home- which is a great way to start any day. I picked up 3 extra kids to give my friend, Jess the morning off. I was happy to see the residents wearing costumes as well as the staff. The place looks better than last year. I'm still reading Being Mortal so I was looking closely. We played at the park after. It was a good turn out for our group. It was a combo play date with St. Marks so we got to see some old friends, too. I went right from there to school to help set up for fall fest. I wasn't much help- instead I was rushing to enter last minute silent auction items, which was not cool at all. I'm so grateful Phil showed up to help. With 3 kids and a patrol, I was signed up to work booths from 3pm-6pm straight! Lots of drama with the online auction- mostly because we decided to extend it, then not, then again so that meant I had to go into each item and keep changing dates! Whew! From there we went to Yappy hour at TCC so Spot could run around. Ellie had FC spend the night. We were zonked! Saturday morning came early. I took the kids (and the friend and the dog) to UNF to run in the race to end Pancreatic Cancer. I like to support my friend, Tracy whose dad died a few years ago. I also just found out another friend's mom was recently diagnosed so we thought about and prayed for her a bunch, too. It was a great race! We visited my sister next and caught up with the cousins and even did a cousin dog play date. Vader was a bit aggressive. We had lunch together, took Ellie to Nutcracker practice and played at a park. A little afternoon relaxation. Marly and I worked on making floating Harry Potter candles. Still cleaning up silent auction stuff! Phil and I went to the Camps Halloween party last night. I'm so proud of our costumed! Phil borrowed Owen's Ghillie suit to be the Creature from the Haunted Sea (the theme was 1960s classic horror). I wore my bathing suit with a life jacket. So fun but the signature cocktail got me and today was rough. We went to mass and CCD and breakfast. We got to bring up the gifts. The Spencers showed up at breakfast and took Voss for a play date while we ate. That was so nice. Marly had altar server training. This afternoon was low key with laundry, floating candles and science fair projects. I started a monogramming job. We did an early hibachi dinner then rosary, books and bedtime. Long walk with Spot and caught up with my brother. Ellie has already received 2 compliments! I'm still praying! I'm thankful for this down time, I know it won't last!
Oh MC Hammer and your words of wisdom. Praying was the theme of mass today and I think it's a good theme for this week. Not that I did it a lot, but a reminder that I need to pray more. It was another calm week mostly. I read a lot. I was reading 3 books at the same time and maybe that was too much. I finished 2 this weekend so now it's smooth sailing. I read the Good Daughter for book club and finished listening to I Am Malala. Monday was Columbus Day. All the kids had school but banks were closed so Phil and I had a very rare day date! We played tennis then went to lunch at Moon River pizza. It was nice! My mom and I went to lunch on Tuesday. I drove to St. Augustine to have a lunch date with one of my favorite priests, Fr. Tim on Wednesday. We had MOPS on Thursday. Onie gave an amazing talk about spirituality and challenged us to raise the bar. I'll do her review here. It got me thinking. Ellie got her 3rd strike that afternoon. So, we did some room switches this weekend. I needed to go through Abby's clothes anyway. I let Abby pick if she wanted her own room or to be with Ellie and she chose Ellie ("So her room could always be clean and organized" -smart!) So, Voss is back to having his own room. I told Ellie she has to have 3 compliments from other people in order to get her room back. I got some chicken soup for the soul on Thursday night with a dance practice celebration and late night $1 wine to toast my friend, Rachael on her Birthday. Friday the kids had off for a teacher planning day. We crashed a home school play date and tried out our Halloween costumes. I squeezed in a piano lesson. That night we went to movie night in the pumpkin patch. The first movie was the classic Charlie Brown movie. The second was Halloweentown. It was cheesy but the kids liked it. Saturday morning was dramatic with breakfast. Phil and I literally fought over eggs. It was a rainy day so Spot was sorta crazy. Phil took some kids to Costco and Ellie's Nutcracker practice. I took the other half to pick up my brother from the airport. He visited a friend in Chile. We did a family night in with pumpkin carving, chicken soup and pumpkin muffin making. We went out for milkshakes and watched the Square pumpkin movie. It was nice. This morning my sister joined us for mass and breakfast, which was so nice! I took the kids to the St. Matts carnival while Phil played tennis. We met up at the pool for a swim and dinner. The Jags won, too! I'm enjoying the calm, that's for sure!
It was a slow week for me. I had lots of down time, it felt. Lots of things I could be doing but nothing really pressing. Monday was rainy all day (Spot was going nuts). I went to a new friend's house to help plan another new friend's blessing way. I watched all of season 9 of The Walking Dead so I'm all caught up (to wait another year since I don't have AMC). I donated blood one morning, went running, went to an amazing coffee club to discuss the Impeachment Process. Spot and I went to a dog park then walked a trail at Tillie Fowler park. The afternoons had a nice, fall breeze. Voss had a play date with Nico on Friday at his grandmother's house. The kids hung at my parent's house on Friday. Phil and I went to Amelia Island with his bank friends for dinner. Saturday we went to the Amazing Acres farm for the morning. It was a MOPS play date and there was a decent turn out. Cooler than it has been, but still hot! It was a great family day! We took the boat to TCC and swam in the pool. We tried to watch the FSU game but it was terrible. The kids went to bed early. Phil and I did a Winn Dixie date then he made linguine Alfredo. We watched this alleged horror movie called Would You Rather. It wasn't really horror, but it was weird. This morning we went to mass then the girls had CCD. The guys and I went to breakfast. Phil and I went to the Jags game with my parents. The seats were amazing! We were in the 2nd row on the 50 yard line! We could smell the grass and see the facial expressions of the players! It was hot, though. And a real bummer that the Jags lost. This afternoon we worked on science projects and got ready for the week. Ellie and I have had some tough conversations this week. It began on Monday when I got a text from a mom saying Ellie was being mean to her daughter. I sent her over to talk it out that evening. We've been working through it this week. I went on Friday for a spy lunch so I could observe the mean girls table. Yes, my daughter might be the ringleader of the mean girls. I'm thinking of having her watch the movie so she can see what she looks like- but I don't want her to get any ideas! Lots of conversations about being kind and shutting your mouth if you can't say something nice. This afternoon I received another message from another parent saying how Ellie was mean to her son on Friday. So, we reiterated the kindness conversation. She might be loosing her own room this week if the kindness conversation doesn't seep in. Please send some prayers.
Another fun filled week with the Bravos. Lots of moving pieces and you know sometimes a ball drops. I have this issue where I don't always look far enough ahead. I go day by day and maybe just look ahead a week. So, October kina snuck up on me. I barely got my background check updated in time to go on Marly's field trip. Of course her trip had to be the same time as Ellie's. My mom agreed to go on Ellie's with her. I was late in sending her the link so her background check didn't come back until too late and she missed the field trip. Ellie was bummed. The good news is there are many more fun trips for her this year. But that's how the week began. I went Thrift Shopping and out to lunch with friends on Monday. Caught up with my friend, Katherine. Marly's recycling center field trip was neat and has me double checking what I'm tossing in the trash. We had our 2nd MOPS meeting with my friend, Mae giving us parenting behavior tips. We rode bikes to school on Friday, which was quite the feat! Friday I drove to St. Simon's Island and met up for a book summit. My friend, April organized it all. Check out the agenda in the pics. It was amazing! Plenty of time discussing books, recommending books, working on a puzzle, chatting and just relaxing. It was such a nice weekend! Meanwhile, Phil and the kids did a little camp out in the back yard- but it was too hot to sleep out there. I came back early this morning to get them moving for mass. Ellie served. They went to religion while we went to bfast. We took the boat to TCC to watch the Jags game. Pizza for dinner, most of the rosary. Everyone is tired and ready for bed!
It's still so hot, but they are calling this fall. We had a good, busy week. Not much down time for me. After dropping off all kids on Monday, I went to the zoo. I know that's a little bizarre. My MOPS group was having a play date so I went and hung out with them for a while then walked around on my own. Got in some steps and saw the sights. It was kina neat. I'm so proud of Abby and Voss. They both learned how to ride a bike without training wheels this week! I took off Abby's training wheels months ago- she wore through 2 sets! I've been trying to force her. It was actually on our summer list, but it was just too hot to practice. Monday afternoon was nice so we gave it another try. She and Voss just took off! Abby's still a little cautious and can't start on her own. Voss has been riding his bike before school in the morning and all afternoon just around and around. He's fast! He figured out how to start himself, too! A run and trip to the grocery store on Tuesday. Wednesday I hosted a back to school brunch- moms with no children at home! I pulled out all my crystal and china, even polished some silver! It was nice! It forced me to do some organizing and cleaning, too. That was an early release day, which is tough. Voss and the girls get out at the same time so I have to be 2 places at once. There was a spirit day at Whits so we went there for frozen custard. Even Spot got some! Then those are our long days at the park. I didn't do well packing dinner because I ended up with all these extra kids. Marly and Ellie were fighting and Marly fell and scraped up her leg. Luckily, Phil came home early and was able to come grab her so she didn't have to be at the park with a bloody knee all evening. It was a doozie of a day! Thursday was a morning of meetings. Voss had his VPK assessment. There was a PTA meeting- I'm hitting all sorts of people up for sponsorships for the fall fest. Let me know if you'd like to help! I met my parents and sister for breakfast to celebrate my Dad's 72nd Birthday! That was fun! Then, I met Phil to sign some papers on the other side of town. Whew! Tues & Thurs afternoons are always so therapeutic with a walk in the park with friends. Friday, my pal Anne took Voss and I to a gymnastics play date then to CFA for a late breakfast. The boys had so much fun together! Ellie spent the night at a friends house. I took the rest of the kids and Spot to Yappy Hour at TCC. It was a dog play date. It was kina crazy at first, but ended up being really nice. Phil came later after playing in a golf tournament. We went back and had dinner with a bunch of people after they played in the wine and 9. We even met some new friends. Saturday we tried to sleep in. I dropped off Phil and the kids to pick up our boat (it's been in storage for hurricane prep). Marly went to see Toy Story 4 with her friend, Lily. That was a sweet play date. I played in a tennis tournament. I casually joined a league. I'm all over the place and thought the match was right down the street at TCC. No, I had to drive to Fleming Island and barely made it in time! Luckily we won after having to go into a 3rd set tie breaker! It was hot and I even got sun burnt! Blah! I took Marly to Sophie's house for a sleepover. Phil grilled burgers then we hosted a mafia night. I was bummed 2 couples bailed so we didn't have a full 10 to play for real. We still had a good time with the mix of people! There were some great players! This morning was rough getting to mass. Pancake breakfast after for the kids. The Hershorins joined us at Cool Moose after. Laurie is so sweet! We put up our Halloween decorations. The kids are so excited! Phil played tennis. I took the kids to the Halloween store while Ellie was fitted for her Nutcracker costume. Then we all took the boat to TCC for dinner and to watch the Jags game. Another win! We cleaned up and said the rosary and did an early bedtime. I'm hoping to head that way soon.
Now that everyone is in school and things are getting back to normal, I'm having to figure out my new life as a free woman. It's really nice. It feels amazing to drop them all off at school and skid out of the parking lot. It turns out there is a whole lot to do and the school day goes by so quickly. By the time I clean up from breakfast and clear off the counter to prepare for the afternoon chaos, walk the dog and answer my email- it's time to go pick them all up again! I've worked out some carpool systems so I only have to spend 3 afternoons at the park by the dance studio. Dave takes the middle two to school every morning so I can take a breather. I'm thankful! I had planned on reading Whistle Stop cafe all day Monday in preparation for book club that evening. I realized I got the date wrong and was a week off. I've been casually reading. We had the MOPS Meet & Greet on Tuesday. It's finally here! The long awaited kick off week! I sorta threw together the M&G just bc I'm a visual learner and like to know where I'm going before the first day. We had a decent turn out and kina did a run through. It is more work than I was thinking. Since I'm kid-less, I pick up a lot of the slack. It is nice to not have to worry about kids during the meeting, though. I've never had that before. I met Fr. Donal for lunch and a beer in honor of "buy your priest a beer day". Not sure that's an actual thing, but I figured what the heck. He loved it, too! That night I dipped out to have drinks and apps and an evening with Amor Towles, the author of Rules of Civility. He mainly talked about his other book, which I hadn't read. So, that was kinda a bummer. I still enjoyed being there in that packed crowd! April and I went out for wine and cake after which is always a bonus! I finally got back out there to run this week. It felt good and no hip pain. I met friends for Steph and Molly's Birthday lunch. I had to sew Ellie's elastic and ribbons for her first pointe class! Thursday was the first MOPS meeting. I am so impressed with the turn out and how well it went! I went over the basics, we did introductions and talked about upcoming meetings. Then we played my favorite ice breaker, the chair game. It was so fun! The conversation got real and authentic- already! We have a great group! It was a whirlwind of a day! I made dinner for some friends who just had a baby and raced to a PTA meeting. I need to get some sponsors for the fall fest! That night, Phil and I went to the Jags game. The weather was actually chilly! Hello fall! We met up with the Applegates and had lots of fun! Friday, I watched the youngest Applegate boys. Voss and I took them and met up with the Spencers at MOSH. The space exhibit is so good right now! We rode the skyway and had such a nice day together with all the boys! That afternoon we had dinner at the pool and took it easy. Saturday we took Spot for a family walk. Then, Marly and Abby went on a girls retreat with the nuns at Assumption. Ellie had Nutcracker practice. Voss took a nap and Phil and I had a golf date. It was a gorgeous afternoon! Last night I got picked up by boat and went to a Stockton moms night out. It was too much fun. I stayed up late on a swing on the dock with some moms. Today I was so tired! I tried to sleep in. We took the kids to religion class and had a delicious Cool Moose bfast. We got a new smart TV and I'm trying to sync it with all our other google devices. Blah! We put up the lights in our backyard finally. We went to 5:30 mass then McDs for a quick dinner. Rosary, baths and bed! We're all ready!
I was stressed a bit this week getting into a new routine. Voss had his first week of preschool (finally)! That first day was a doozie. I got the start time of school wrong, didn't realize there was a school supplies list for the free state wide preschool and of course he threw a fit when I dropped him off. I went home to detox for a bit. I didn't even do anything amazing. Checked email, walked to dog, I don't even know. Tuesday I did better. Rachael and I went to the gym then sat in the pool. Wednesday I went to brunch with Laurie to brainstorm fundraising ideas to support a charity her mom loved to honor to her mom. Thursday I met Tracy for donuts and coffee. The girls had dance every afternoon. I worked out a carpool with Marly's dance so that's one less day I have to be up there. It was almost like the first week figuring out a new routine- how to figure out dinner, pack bags and get organized. Wednesdays we have to eat dinner in the park due to dance classes. Ellie and Marly did some babysitting for a friend who just moved into a new house so she could do some unpacking. I even got to go home and watch Ellen one afternoon alone! I'm going to like this new routine! Trexler and I went out to poetry night on Wednesday. It got started late but was pretty good. Friday we pulled the kids out of school early and headed over to Panama City for my brother's promotion ceremony. Congratulations to the newest Commander! We picked up Aunt Susan from the airport. My parents and sister met us there, too. Matt had a whole fan club. It was a neat ceremony with my parents pinning him. He gave a great speech, I am so proud of him! After we did a "wetting down" at a bar at the beach. We got to meet his work friends. I had some amazing baked flounder. Later, Matt and I walked on the beach and caught up (barely got in my 10K steps)! We got up super early the next morning and drove back to Jax. The drive was fast but tough. No one but Phil napped so everyone was crabby that afternoon. Phil took Ellie to Nutcracker rehearsal. I unpacked, washed the dog and the car, did some laundry and a Birthday gift for Ellie's friend. MOPS had a playdate at a brewery. There were some authors that did a story time. We checked it out but it was kind of a bust. Just so crowded! Phil played some tennis. I got the kids all to bed early. Phil and I met the Bentons out and sorta did around the world. We started at the German speakeasy then margaritas and queso at a Mexican place, El Jefe then French wine at the Brick. It was nice to catch up with them. This morning we went to mass then stayed for donuts (part of our new routine) and socialized. Then we took the kids to religion class and had breakfast at Cool Moose. My plan is to try everything on the menu! This afternoon we went to a surprise Birthday party for Stephanie. I was so impressed with Carl for pulling it off! They even had an awesome jazz band! Ellie left for a bit for a Sweet Pete's Birthday party for her pal. It was certainly a Funday Sunday! Happy to be back into a routine and lots to be thankful for!
Labor Day was Monday but it didn't really feel like it. Everyone was anxiously watching Hurricane Dorian turtle crawl up the east coast. Time was spent making and changing hotel evacuation plans as the storm kept slowing down. Steph invited us all to the FYC pool and we spent the whole day on a overcast, windy and sunny day. We met some TCC friends at Lillians for dinner. Claire and I snuck out for dance practice. Tuesday we hurricane proofed the house (moved all outdoor and porch items into the garage, put towels and tarps and things against doors and windows facing the water and moved important things up high, gassed up cars, packed bags and filled up on wine and snacks to go). We checked into the Holiday Inn in Orange Park (the same place we stayed for Irma. This time Spot came, too. The best news is that he was allowed to be there (during a mandatory evacuation). We hunkered down, went swimming, had the buffet and watched Americas got Talent. The next day we had the awesome bfast buffet and took turns taking Spot out. We read, watched TV, played games and had some close family time. It wasn't long before cabin fever set in. We decided to check out that evening when light wind and drizzle happened. I think we moved all our stuff back out during the worse time of the storm. I unpacked and re-packed for MomCon. Hell or high water, I was going! My parents saved me by coming back from Pensacola in time to watch all the kids for me (since school was canceled). They helped with Voss all day Friday, too. Lori Ann finally picked me up Thursday morning and we were on our way! We checked into the Swan & Dolphin as VIPs! Pina Coladas at the pool as we waited for the first session to kick off. The first session was a welcome and got us all excited. We went out for sushi and karaoke. On the way back to our room we saw the CEO of MOPS and took some selfies. Facials, wine and chit chat before bed. We had to get up super early the following morning for our dress rehearsal so it was a long day! Coffee in the green room as we did make up, practiced, prayed and took pics with Mickey Mouse! It was surreal. Our moment of fame finally came as we lined up and went on stage. It felt awesome to be up there! I was able to pull off my cartwheel and jump off the front of the stage like some kind of rockstar. Incredible! I'm so proud of our group for pulling it off! The theme for this year in MOPS is TO THE FULL and this is the best example of that! The rest of the day was pretty good. I went to a mentor mom meet up (since that's what I hope to eventually do for St. Matts) and then a session for new groups (which put me in a bad mood because they wouldn't retroactivate the half off discount offer even though I started ours a few months ago and were not very helpful). The purposful parenting was okay and I felt like the life balance had me ask myself some good questions but was meh. I didn't have time for lunch so ate a RX bar in one of the sessions. The main gathering was okay but ran late thanks to a long winded (semi-anoying) lady for Operation Christmas Child. It was feeling a little too salesy and we were late for the dinner reservation in my name. Luckily, dinner was great! We rode the water taxi around Hollywood Studious then had a girls night pool party. I was wiped out and in bed by 10:30. We got to sleep in on Saturday and the sessions blew me away. They did a Ted Talk format and had the 4 best speakers. The first talked about Anger and I was sitting in the front row with the big lights right on me (sitting next to Mandy's sister-in-law) and crying my eyes out. It was just so powerful! Then, there was a talk on promoting peace, JJ Heller (we listen to her CD all the time!) and spiritual yoga! What a way to start the day! Cheese platter thanks to Emily for lunch. Then, I went to a session on Serenity. She was a fantastic speaker. I even subscribed to her Podcast to keep listening. Next a session on marriage that was nothing new but a great reminder. The final session was with Bob Goff who is just amazing (talking about authentic conversations- YES!) and some Christian rock. Crazy! Phil is blowing up my phone to come home, which was lame. But we got back on the road and didn't even stop for dinner! Great processing conversations! This morning we got up for mass and then headed to religion class. Gotta work out the schedule for that with my #5thchild. We met the Freemans and Hershorins at the pool to watch the Jags loose. It was so hot we had to be in the pool! We came home and had quesadillas for dinner, said the rosary and went to bed. Everyone was tired! Me too!