This week began with some sad news: my Uncle Freddie passed away. The week was a whirlwind as I spun off to Natchez to be with family and celebrate his life. It was pretty stressful, but well worth the trip. I brought Abigail and Marly with me and left Ellie here with Phil (didn't want her missing school). We left Monday afternoon and drove to Navarre to meet up with my parents (who happened to be there after spending a weekend with Katie & Zach). Tuesday we rallied with some FL cousins and caravanned to MS. That worked out really well! That evening was the viewing. The girls loved running around with their cousins. I wish I was able to take a super cousin picture, but it all just went by so fast. We spent that night up on the lake. We had a relaxing morning then headed back into Natchez for the funeral. I left right from the cemetery to drive back to FL. Suzanne came with me, which was nice to have another driver and extra help with the girls. I was home at 2am on Thursday morning so you know that day was rough. After taking the big girls to school, Abigail and I just vegged then we all took a nice afternoon nap. Ellie's open house was that night so a babysitter came to watch the younger girls while Ellie and I had a "date night". It was neat seeing her classroom and she loved giving me a tour of her school. Friday was pretty relaxed as well. A new friend from MOPS gave me all her baby boy clothes! I picked up my dress for Chrissy's wedding next weekend and took the girls to story time. We had a very low key night, ate dinner in (a take away meal!), put the girls down, then Phil went on a guy's night while I went to bed early. Saturday was Ellie's first soccer game! She did pretty well. I think she was most excited about Dunkin Donuts afterward. I was able to dip out for Lauren's Birthday lunch at Bb's. That evening we went to the Nixons for brats. This morning we went to mass then a super play date at the Suters. Now, we're just taking it easy prepping for the week. I'd like you all to raise a glass for my Uncle Freddie, a great man. Cheers!
I've been dropping hints for a while (potty training Abigail, moving Ellie into a new room, appointments, feeling tired), and you know it's this time of year where I have an announcement...well really earlier but I've been waiting a while to announce. Sadly, you don't get the same kind of response when you tell folks the 4th is growing in your belly. The assumption is that it's a "surprise", we didn't mean to do this...or we're trying to get a boy. No, none of those. I just like the feeling of a bustling household full of laughter (and chaos). Children are a blessing, why not have lots? So, this was an exciting week because I finally had an ultrasound! Phil and Abigail came for support. The sonographer wrote the gender on a paper and put it in a sealed envelope. Later in the week, I gave the envelope to the Winn Dixie cake decorator, Meghan. Meanwhile, Phil searched the house for the envelope. We take turns with these things: it's his turn so we find out the gender...and I was unfair to make him wait- but if you're going to find out the gender ahead of time, you better do it up right. So, we had a gender reveal party! Friday night, we cut into the cake...and the frosting inside was BLUE! I was so shocked! I just assumed it was another girl, because that's all we've done before. So, wow! Way to shake things up! All weekend I've been trying it out- new vocab words- son, boy, not "let's go girls" but "let's go children, or Bravos". The girls are thrilled (Abigail doesn't quite get it), but the older two are psyked! In fact, I was nervous of dealing with the temper tantrum that would have happened (while they were wearing their blue dresses) if the frosting had been pink. A little brother! Amazing! It's that law of statistics! So, we have lots to do to prepare for baby boy's arrival! So, this sort of thing occupied most of our week. We also had our first MOPS leadership meeting and an open house. I'm excited to get it started, especially because I feel like it's gotta be easier when it's up and running. I'm not the coordinator this year, but in charge of the nursery. That's turned into being a lot of work. And I know I add to it quite a bit (as Phil likes to point out) but I can't walk away without giving it the Lucy touch! Two Birthday parties on Saturday means the girls have been hyped up on blue cake, cupcakes, lolly pops and don't forget the donuts after church this morning! Don't worry, I made a healthy brown rice & chicken dinner tonight. Another quiet (rainy) Sunday to help us re-group. So, keep reading to check in with this party of SIX!
And just like that...poof...summer is gone. Not that it will feel much different: weather-wise for a while. But the long days where I could make all the plans are gone. I already miss that part of it. This was a special week for Miss Marly! Her first week of preschool! She was super excited and ready to go to school on her own. It helped that she went to vacation bible school earlier this summer there and she may remember when Ellie went to school there 2 years ago. Driving by all summer we always referred to it as "Marly's new school" so that got her excited as well. The Open House was Monday- a water play date. I was happy to see that she's in the same class with the same teachers that Ellie had. They said they saw her name on the list and snatched her up. Also, her tennis coach's mom teaches there, too. She already has a few little friends that we knew before. It's going to be a great experience for all of us...it already is! Someone in the class has a peanut allergy and another child has a nut allergy. So, I'm having a ball with figuring out lunch packing. The girls love to make and pack their own lunches. It took me a while to learn to do all this the night before, as it can be quite a process! Being in school makes the days super fly by. We're trying to work into a new schedule- with naps getting left behind and pushed back. Poor Abigail tries so hard to snooze when she can...too bad it's not always when I need her to. On Marly's first day of school, we had a quick visit from Tia Vane. She was in town for work and came by with super cookies and spent the afternoon with the younger girls. We had a cooking play date on Wednesday where we made meals to sell for a convention fundraiser while the kids played. Marly ended up using shaving cream to clean/decorate her bathroom. I'm figuring out the behind the scenes with Ellie's school. We worked a lot this week on her sight words. I'm really feeling the decrease in time spent with her. The long weekend helped! Phil was here for her soccer practice this week and that made a huge difference- Abigail and I went home to make dinner. Abigail's personality is coming out. She says so many new words or at least sounds that we recognize such as "ahhh ohhh" which is "I do!" <Who's ready for lunch?!> She loves to throw these huge tantrums at dinnertime where she gets between me and the counter and tries to push me away so I can pick her "up" <new word>. Abby is pretty independent, though. She doesn't mind going out on the porch to play by herself or you may find her in Ellie's room "reading" books. The sweet pea! I've been working a lot on MOPS stuff- prepping for the first meeting and getting the nursery all set up. Crossing my fingers it all works out! I rode my bike to book club at Regan's Monday night. It was a nice, breezy night...but that 6 mile ride still has me sore! Coffee club was Friday at Anna's. We discussed the race issues surrounding the shooting in Ferguson. Afterwards we met Phil for lunch, which was fun- haven't done that during the week in a while! Friday night Ellie was invited to a sleepover! I know! Another first! The deal originally was her friend's big sister was having a sleepover so the little sister was allowed to invite a friend, too. We were anticipating a late night phone call and she did get a little homesick...but she made it! I think they had a great time, too. Luckily we were invited to the Browns for dinner so Marly hardly noticed and was thrilled to get Anna Grace to herself! Saturday we took the boat to the arts market and the whole family took a nice, much-needed nap! That evening we took the boat back out to the Freemans for dinner. They had 2 extra kids that we helped entertain...really I felt like it was more of a treat for us! Sunday was packed! We got up early for mass then headed to a lunchtime BBQ with the Leens, Suters and Hinkles then an evening low country boil with the Applegates. It was a weekend of guesting! We are blessed with some wonderful friends...who are still okay having the whole, over-whelming Bravo family over! Today was low-key: swimming at TCC with the Labor Day festivities, family nap time and an evening of getting back on track. Farewell summertime! Hello Fall!
Whew! What a week! This was a big week for us! Monday was Elizabeth's first day of kindergarten. The school did a Million Father March deal to encourage men to be involved with the children at school so my brother and Phil came with us for drop off. We went to her classroom, found her seat, took some pictures and said good-bye and then I lost it. I didn't expect to be so emotional but I certainly was. It just hit me that she's going to be gone all day and our lives will never be close like this. I went to the Boo-Who/Yahoo PTA breakfast and got some hugs and calmed down quite a bit. Phil went back to work and I went to my parents house to veg. That worked out well- we all went to lunch at the Brick as Katie's farewell before flying back. It was a fun thing to do to keep me occupied. And you know Ellie loved it! She has a few friends from pre-school 2 years ago in her class and a friend from the party a few weeks ago. Reading is a big deal, nightly homework of recording what we read. The days fly more than usual. It took me a few days to get it together behind the scenes- we already were tardy one day, missed a day of signing off on her daily conduct, forgot to pack a snack...but by Friday we were good to go. Wow, I have a kindergartener! Some more firsts: we signed Ellie up for soccer and she had her first practice on Thursday afternoon. Good thing we scheduled a playdate with Marly's bestie, KK (remember it's Marly last week of summer so we had to do fun things for her, too)- they came with us to the soccer field so Marly and her buddy could play on the playground while I went back and forth to watch Ellie. A little intimidating- the field was already packed and these 5-6 year olds have already been playing soccer for a few years! If nothing else, I'm excited for her to get great exercise and learn teambuilding skills. Also, I've been seeking reading suggestions for kindergarteners (what exactly should we be reading her?). We learned about the Bob books and Ellie read her first book! That was pretty cool to hear her sound out words and get excited to do it! So wow, yeah! We're here doing this...pretty crazy! In addition this week we had a play date with the Boozers (shout out to a fab fan!)- loved catching up and loving on them. Looking forward to some play dates with Abigail's buddies this fall! I was able to spend some quality time with my brother, Erik. He came over and we stayed up late chatting one night. We went swimming over there one afternoon. And then I got to be a grown up and go to Rotary to see him get a Paul Harris Fellow award. A shout out from Cole Pepper, chatting with the big wigs of the Westside and a lunch that was not PB&J! Uncle Bill and Aunt Jean came in town one night so mom and dad had everyone over that evening. UE and Aunt Jean were there, too. It was great catching up with everyone. I went back over on Thursday morning to visit more before they left. Friday we did story time. Phil had back to back guys nights on Thursday and Friday so I had lots of time to catch up on monogramming and MOPS duties. I even had a friend, Emily come over one night to drop off monogramming and have a night cap. Saturday we had a big family breakfast then swam at TCC. It's that lovely time of year- August in FL- where it feels like you're in an oven. The pool was about all we could do and it was still hot! Fun night out with a MOPS Kick-Off party! Stephanie came up with a great fundraiser idea, where we go out as we normally would but then ask them to give MOPS a cut. We made an easy $150! Nice! Got to meet lots of new moms and catch up with the oldies. Obviously we had fun, since we got in at 1am! Today was slow and relaxing. We rallied for mass then lunch with the Bentons. The girls and I did more work in Ellie's room- painting picture frames and doing some wall décor. I also touched up Marly's room. Pizza for dinner now Phil is ready to watch the Wire. Tomorrow is Marly's Open House for school. Another big week ahead!
We did a great job cramming in lots of last minute summer fun this week. I asked Ellie what she wanted to do and she said, "Play in the sprinklers!". So, Monday we had the Browns over to run in the sprinklers. It was nice to catch up with them. I all of a sudden decided Ellie should be in her new room before starting school. I may have pushed it too much a few days. We cleaned out her new room, painted and moved her over. Marly was sad to not have a new room, but Ellie was sweet and lay down with her one night and thanked her for helping to paint. Oh, paint! I think that's the bravest thing I've ever done. Yes, taking the girls to Disney was pretty awesome. And our spring break in DC was amazing. But, letting the girls paint for real, that was mighty brave. Ellie picked out the colors. We still have some finishing touches, but she's in! We had a few, fun playdates. We got to meet baby Mabel. And Tracy was brave too in having us and the Leens over one morning. Ellie had kindergarten orientation one morning. We got to meet her teacher and see the classroom. Getting excited! On Friday we played at the Freemans and then hit up the library. I had two girls nights this week. Monday was with Lauren, Kat and Regan at Mellow Mushroom. Thursday was with Shirin and Elizabeth at Flats 101. Lots of great gal convos! Thursday was a little too late- Shirin's battery in her car died so I stayed as support until we got it jumped. Friday afternoon, Erik and Katie arrived! We went over with the kids for a quick visit, then met up with them later after Emily came to babysit. We did the King Street crawl, lots of fun! Saturday came fast. I raced around prepping for Tracy and Mabel's Sip & See. It was very sweet. I just love those things. I was happy to have Katie, Gara and Mercedes on my team. We threw a great party! We had a good weekend with the fam boating and tubing. The girls just love the tube! Saturday night we had a Birthday party for Dave. Popeye's chicken and chocolate cake- yum! Today we went to mass, out to lunch and then took naps. I was out for 4 hours! Tonight we crammed in one more bit of summer fun- the Suns game! Ellie's first day of school is tomorrow! I think she's ready, and I am, too...but I'm still going to miss her during the day. It's been a good summer! We're trying to hold onto this time.
I last left you from the beach. Oh, I already miss that view! We spent 4-ish days relaxing on the Gulf. We went back and forth between the pool and beach, took long naps, ate out a bunch and had a few fun visits. One with my cousin, Dane and her family- Abigail's Godparents. The other with our friends, the Hilley's who just moved to Pensacola. We visited the Gulfarium and enjoyed lots of quality family time- just what we all needed! We came back Wednesday night, my sister Suzanne and her family took over for the rest of the week. It worked out well. Thursday we had a picnic park lunch with some new friends of Ellie's Stockton class. The party last week was for girls. This play date was all boys. The moms had a great chance to chat and learn about the new school. We're getting excited! Friday we did the pool and story time. Ellie went to play at the neighbor's during nap. That afternoon we brought the girls to my parent's house for the weekend while Phil and I went to Marywood for a CEE weekend. I was excited for the weekend because my friend, Chrissy and her fiancé were going. I hope they got a lot out of it. Obviously, this ministry means a lot to us. There was some heat on Saturday night- controversy over NFP. Specially who should use it and when. That led to some negative feedback and Phil and I having to re-write some of our talks. That was a tough note to end on. We put so much time and energy into this, so it hurts when we're not fully appreciated/judged. I'm trying to see the majority take-away, though: hopefully that we inspired many couples to work towards a happy marriage. We're back to the routine today. A family trip to Target tonight and everyone to bed early!
This week we had the older girls in camp. Marly did a pee wee tennis camp, just for an hour. Ellie did a tennis & golf camp which was pretty much all day. I think it was a neat experience for both of them. It also gave me a bit of a break and a taste of what the school year may feel like. The afternoons were a bit wacky because Ellie was picked up at 2. One day went skipped nap and had lunch and went swimming at my parents with the cousins. Another day we took an early nap, and one day a late nap. One day my friend Allison helped by collecting Ellie then we spent the afternoon at the pool. We had coffee club on Thursday morning. My mom took Marly for me so I just had Abigail. We had an interesting conversation about the legality of marijuana. I'm slowly working on moving the office part of the guest room upstairs into our room. So, Ellie will get her own room for a while. Abigail turned 18 months this week! The potty training has begun! Maybe I'll get serious about it next week. Monday we ran some errands but it was one of those days where the first errand took way too long so not all the errands were done. The day was saved with a play date at the FYC pool with the Freeman's. Marly's bestie, KK joined us at the pool on Friday morning. That night we had the Cower's and Suter's over for some fun while the kids wrecked the house. Saturday morning Ellie had a party to meet some of her new friends. Emma hosted a party for a bunch of moms and daughters starting kindergarten at Stockton to mix and mingle. Such a cute idea! We're excited! After the party we headed over here to Navarre for a bravocation. We arrived in time to catch a sunset on the beach and take a quick dip in the pool before heading next door to a local beach shack for dinner. This morning we got out early for more play had lunch and took a long nap. Our cousins came to visit for the afternoon/evening. What a great visit! I actually feel refreshed after catching up and getting a break (Michael and Rachel are wonderful babysitters!) Now we're just listening to the rolling waves of the Gulf of Mexico. Such a soothing sound!
I think I'm usually pretty good at living in the moment. I get my hands dirty, let the kids destroy the house and get hurt- all to feel it. We go barefoot (when Phil's at work) to be close to the earth. This week I caught myself reaching beyond a few times, though. I longingly watched the "cool moms" at the pool reading a good book in the shade while their kids were swimming on their own. I thought about what it would be like if all my kids were at camp and I had the house to myself. Or waking by the sun without that feeling of terror that the girls were messing with the temperature gauge in the freezer again. And then we watched a few of our family videos. And it brought me right back to this moment. I have a FIVE year old starting kindergarten really soon. I have an idea of how time just disappears. Too fast. I just love those baby snuggles from Abigail. And Marly loves to hold my hand. Elizabeth runs right to me screaming my name when she falls off her bike. It feels so good to be loved. Let me relish! By comparison, this was a quiet week. Monday seems to be our day for adventure since the pool is closed. This time we went to the zoo. It was hot, but where isn't these days. It was a fun day, complete with ice cream on the way home (using their "allowance" money). Tuesday we went to the pool and were the only ones there until the camp kids showed up. Where is everyone this summer? The pools are empty. The river is empty. The zoo was even pretty sparse. I almost feel like we got left behind. I hosted a playdate with the Leens and Suters on Wednesday. I grilled hotdogs and we tagged JNJ items. A working play date really. Suzanne watched the girls for me Thursday morning for a appointment and they had a ball with the cousins! Friday we went to the FYC pool and saw lots of friends. We dipped out, though and headed to story time and then lunch at Whataburger with out reading prizes. I'm still loving the afternoon thunderstorms, and the break from the heat afterwards. I had book club Monday to discuss Cuckoo's Calling. Chrissy came over wine and wedding talk one night. We did Kids Night and swimming at TCC one night and another night just swimming and dinner by the pool. We even made some new friends, which is always nice. Saturday we had a lazy morning with bacon & eggs then took the boat downtown to the Landing for this water festival thing. We got there early but it soon became crowded and we melted. Ellie and I went to Anna Grace's Birthday at Gyminators. So simple, yet so fantastic! We got a last minute sitter and went to dinner with the Vogts Saturday night. This morning we went to Ft. Victor's last mass at Sacred Heart. He's retiring and moving back to India. It will be so weird not having him around at family gatherings! Hopefully, he'll keep up on Facebook! The older girls played tennis with Phil while Abby and I hit up the baby pool. We had lunch then a great nap time. Later we went to the Suter's for swimming and burgers. I'll post some pictures to help me slow down the time.
This was the last week of River Rats. It was sad because the girls have really enjoyed the swim team and I can't get over how much they've learned! Now I'm going to have to go back to planning fun things to do every day instead of just showing up and having our little morning gatherings of mom chat at the baby pool. But it will be nice to get to do some other things that we haven't really had a chance to do since the pool has been calling us every morning. We still have some fun to have this summer. Monday my sister and I drove out to St. Mary's, GA to the Aquatic Center water park. It was such a great day- perfect park for the kids. As I was driving back, eating my ice cream cone I was thinking about what a wonderful life I have. What a wonderful way to spend my summer. I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing. It's a great way to live. I hope I can pay it forward- all my blessings. I don't want to paint a picture of perfection here, though. We all have our hang ups- Marly went into my closet at naptime with my sewing scissors and attacked my wedding dress (well, really the box I had it preserved in <so she could see it better>), my jewelry box was also taken down with all the contents riffled through. Another fun thing Marly did at naptime this week was take my deodorant and smear it all over my dresser. Oh, I have my freak out moments. Just ask babysitter, Emily as I practically threw Marly at her when she walked in the door Tuesday night. But you know how those nights out always seem to happen at the perfect time! Tuesday was extra special. Dave Matthews finally came to Jacksonville! Yes, it was the middle of the week- but like I said, the perfect time. Phil's all-time favorite! Seeing him go nuts over Dave is enough to make me get excited, too. Fantastic night that even ended at Krystals. I had another fun night on Thursday- MOPS girls night at Rebecca's. Watching the sunset on the river, so relaxing. Phil and I have been watching lots of nighttime TV- The Wire is our new addiction. In addition to river rats, we threw in a few more play dates and things. Played with Tabby one afternoon, the cousins with story time another afternoon. We went to the Applegates for swimming, BBQ & power hour and then another power hour with the Stevensons and Suters. We took the boat out on Saturday afternoon and did family swimming at TCC. Secretly, I'm enjoying these afternoon thunderstorms. Perfect for a nice, long nap- which we all did a few times this week. Saturday night we celebrated our buddy, Renee's Birthday with a good 'ole house party- complete with flip cup! I love that game. So, we're having a good time. To be continued next week!
Again we started the week at the beach, this time in Crescent Beach. Bunny, one of our MOPS mentor moms invited the whole group down for the day to her condo. The weather was a bit overcast, perfect! Then, Bunny was an extra set of hands to carry stuff, watch kids, hold babies- she even offered us her dryer so we didn't have to drive home with wet stuff! Amazing day! Rebecca and her boys rode with us so we even had extra fun in the car trip. River Rats started back up on Tuesday so that's a for sure fun thing every day. We threw in a few extras, as usual. We did the Cummer that afternoon. I helped mom and SQ with the cousins on Wednesday. We all went to Owen's practice (senior river rats) then to the youngers kids (junior river rats). Thursday afternoon we went to a play date at the Hinkle's. It turned into a huge neighborhood party with the Letcher's and Cower's and then the guys joined us for power hour! Fun night! Friday mom watched the girls for me while I went to the dermatologist about my itchy skin. Turns out the heat/sun/pool is giving me some fun eczema-like goodness. And of course the topical steroid cream won't be ready til Monday. The crazy part is the nurse practitioner who saw me was in my drama class at Forrest back in the day. That's not usually where I run into former classmates! That night we met up with my old work husband from the arena, his wife and 4 boys at Sneakers. The kids ran loose while we caught up. Saturday we went to my friend, Gina's daughter's 1st Birthday. It was a nice blast from the past from my Sacred Heart days. Lots of flash backs this week! It rained all afternoon. Not much naps so it was rough. We finally got out and went to Moon River for pizza then everyone went to bed early. This morning we went to the early service at St. Matthew's. Their nursery is nice. I've been trying to come up with something for Ellie to do in mass to help her follow along. I made a few worksheets with pictures to color corresponding to the readings and Gospel. Then I make her count the altar servers, choir people and color the garments of the priest. I asked around for suggestions on some of my catholic facebook groups but haven't gotten anything. Then, I found this website which did all the work for me. Success! This coupled with a prize donut should keep Ellie from rolling around on the floor during mass! We headed up to TCC for lunch and a swim then came home for nap. I snuck out for a hot stone massage that I had bid on at one of Phil's Rotary events last year. Very relaxing, yet hot. Perfect for a cold winter day. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, though! Now we're watching the World Cup. Go Germany! Just a few updates on the girls: Abigail is chatting away. She can say hotdog, ball, cookie, cracker, pool, ball, and go! Still working on Marly's bed wetting. Latest bribe: strawberry ice cream and "junk cereal" for breakfast. Ellie has been winning 1st in her Friday swim meets! We're so proud of our girls!