I just love celebrating my Birthday! It's been a fun week- and with the holidays upon us, the parties just keep coming! I love it! The first party of the week was the MOPS Breakfast with Santa on Monday morning. Crafts, movies, treats, and chatting with Santa. I think the kids loved it. It's nice to have our own private, Santa. There's no waiting in line at the mall for us. We met the Browns and Nixons at the park that afternoon to catch up. Lots of fun! I really like those pm playdates! Phil had a board meeting until late so I enjoyed a distraction. Tuesday we played at Kathleen's. I was nervous of a "working playdate" but it turned out super nice. Since her kids were in school, my kids got to play with all the toys. They are in love with the electric jeep! Meanwhile, Jan, Kathleen, Anna and I did some serious cooking and made lots of take away meals (I already bought 4!). I squeezed in a little run before picking up Ellie. Wednesday we took William to the park in the morning and went to check out manatees in the afternoon. There aren't as many out there but followed a few for a while and I even pet one! Awesome! That night I made the most amazing dinner: shrimp linguine (using leftover pasta from Tues) and lobster tails! I did a long run that night- but I think I need to increase my distance. Thursday was my Birthday. I hired a sitter and went to FSCJ for a facial. Turns out it was customer appreciation week so it was free! Then, I stopped by Moe's and got a burrito. The girls and I walked up to a new, neighborhood cupcake place and got hyped with sugar, then went to look for more manatees. We popped in a pizza and I fell asleep by 8:30. Phil had his work Christmas party that night and didn't get home until late. Friday we got up and went to Disney World! We spent the first half of the day in the Magic Kingdom, tried out the new Little Mermaid ride. The happiest place on earth! Ellie and I rode Thunder Mountain- she's finally tall enough. It was so much fun! Then, we headed to Epcot and had dinner in Mexico. Phil surprised me with a chocolate cake. The girls colored their Duffy fans, we did a bit of drinking around the world. My 10pm we were exhausted! We stayed at the Hilton, which was really nice. I was excited about the closet in the bathroom for Abigail to sleep. But that didn't work. I think I slept for a total of 3 hours between Phil's snoring and Abby's crying. Saturday was tough. We had a nice breakfast and went swimming and then to downtown Disney for a bit. Then, we drove back. My friend, Katherine and I threw ourselves a Birthday party. We rented a van and got her brother in laws to drive. We picked up a bunch of friends and went bar hopping! We started at Aardwolf then had dinner at Salty Fig, dancing at Loft, tried to ring a bottle at Rogue then finished at Dahlia's. Lots of fun! Sunday was also tough! I took the girls to mass and then tried to clean up our hurricane of a house! Last night, the Napoleon's hosted an amazing sit down dinner for 36 of us (Phil's breakfast club). They cooked an amazing lasagna paired with fantastic wine and even had plates of desserts...like peanut butter balls! Wow! What a wonderful Birthday week! I feel so loved!
A MOPS Monday was a great kickstart to the week. We had Dr. Emma Blackmore of UF Health talk about mood disorder during pregnancy and postpartum and other helpful mental health information. I loved the atmosphere of the meeting: like we were sitting around a living room talking. I spent that afternoon packing and prepping for our trip to Blue Ridge, GA. My dad rented cabins up there for all of us for Thanksgiving! Tuesday was busy. Abigail had her 9 month appointment. She's 27.5 inches long and 17.4lbs! So, she's beefing up, which is nice! The other girls got their flu shots so hopefully the good health fairy stays with us. Then, we headed over to story time with Ms. Bell- and our friend William came too on his visit from South FL. Then, we met mom, Suzanne and Alex at the Yacht Club for lunch. The rest of the afternoon I spent doing laundry and packing up the car. Phil was stressed with a big closing at work. We were thrilled when everything went though and he even came home earlier than I thought. We got on the road at 6pm headed to Atlanta. I thought driving at night would be easier with the kids. We stayed in Aunt Susan's condo downtown to break up the drive a bit and maybe do something fun on Wednesday morning before heading up to Blue Ridge. Well, the kids were AWFUL in the car. Abigail seemed to be uncomfortable after her shots that morning (although she was fine when we left) so we stopped to get her meds. Marly threw a few tantrums and finally unbuckled herself and walked around the van. Lots of screaming and crying. I was about the loose it. Luckily, Phil drove for almost all the of it. We arrived at the condo at midnight with 3 wide awake girls. It took us another 2 hours to get everyone to sleep since they were so excited to be there. After a brief 'nap'- (the big girls were up at 6am!) we hit the road again. We decided to go to Ikea, since they have childcare while you shop. We really needed a break! We got back on the road and headed up to the cabins in Blue Ridge. The Kerkezi's were already up there, so was Aunt Susan, Bill and their friends, Suzanne and Tim, the librarian. Mom and Dad drove up that day and picked up Katie and Erik from the airport. We thought Katie could use some love so I made shirts with her picture for everyone in the family. I think she loved it! It snowed on our way in. The kids loved it, but it was COLD! We took turns hosting dinner. Wednesday night was Aunt Susan. We went up to their cabin for beef tenderloin and shrimp- YUM! Thanksgiving was at my parent's cabin. My pal, Elizabeth gave me this recipe for mashed potatoes that were awesome. Lots of eating, drinking and merriment! We stayed up and had a hilarious game night playing, What. Friday we went into town and rode the Blue Ridge Express and met Santa. We went to this feed store that my dad contrived as a fun pet store for the kids, then had lunch in town. Then, we went to the Mercier Orchards and tried their famous fried apple pie! We were in charge of dinner that night so Phil grilled burgers and dogs then we roasted s'mores. The kids loved the s'mores (so did I :-) Later, the ladies got in the hot tub then we went back for a game of poker. Phil put me all in, real quick. Saturday we packed up and watched the first half of the FSU-UF game. Then, we did the long drive home. It took us 10 hours! Not as bad as the drive up, though. We needed a day to recover. Yesterday we went to mass, then got our Christmas tree. The girls helped me decorate the house. Lots of unpacking, laundry and cleaning. So, we had a great trip. I loved catching up with my siblings and seeing the cousins play together. Blue Ridge was a nice change from our usual T-day. We are so thankful for the wonderful friends and family in our lives! And now the partying begins!
I usually sit and reflect on the week before coming up with a title for the latest blog posting. Sometimes it's easy or I came up with it during the week. Other times I have to write the post before filling in a title. This one can or cannot be mutually exclusive. Marly, the middle monkey is usually who throws the tantrums. I know its mainly her age (loving those terrible twos) but I think we're getting a late resistance to her status as a middle child and older sister. I am not a morning person (understatement for sure). So beginning each morning with a temper tantrum (Marly must hold my hand while walking down the steps) Then, I'm forced to morph into a Waffle House girl whipping up different breakfasts and courses for this starving family BEFORE 6am. And then ending in tantrums for bedtime (locking her into a room and going through a series of threats and punishments when she PICKS THE LOCK. I think Ellie did all of this, I just can't remember. So, we had an action-packed week. Monday I went to a work-out playdate in Oakleaf. Gina's wonderful! I wasn't as sore this time. I did a pretty long run that night, an hour's worth- however long that was. Tuesday we brought William with us to the park and storytime. I'm just not used to a boy. I couldn't tell if he was freaking out or having a blast. Whew! The girls have been singing the "I don't want to eat the turkey" song all week. Cute! That night was our last NFP class. It's tough hiring a sitter for something like that. Although, I counted it as a "business date". Wednesday we spent the day at the park. No one came to the morning park from Ellie's class. But the Browns met us in the afternoon. It got chilly and rainy and we still played! We went to the OG for a family dinner that night. Thursday we went to the zoo. We got there nice and early and were able to see so much. Ellie loves the lemurs! That night mom, Suzanne and I went out for a girls night. We went for aps and drinks then to see Catching Fire. It followed the book pretty well. Fun to get out! Friday we had coffee club at the Deerwood Rotary park to discuss e-Verify. It was a short conversation but still good to catch up with everyone. That night we got a sitter again to go out with the Harbesons to Black Sheep. We had a great time and then brought ice cream home to the older girls as a treat since we weren't out too late. So here we were trying to be nice/ cool parents...BAD news. Saturday was nasty. First, I noticed hair on the floor in the kitchen. Ellie decided to give herself a haircut while the babysitter was watching TV on Friday night. Luckily, the bangs actually look pretty good! We worked hard to get our Christmas card pictures done. The plan was to do them on the boat but it decided to break. Awesome! Everyone was in a crabby mood. I was happy to get out for Lauren's baby shower that afternoon! Post nap and shower everything was a little improved so we went out for pizza. We ran into the Stanelle's, which was pretty cool. We put the kids to bed and watched lots of Breaking Bad! Today we went to mass, then Phil played golf this afternoon. The girls and I went for a run and found some pinecones to make turkeys. It got cold! We're ready for a fun Thanksgiving week ahead!
We've all got runny noses and girgly coughs...but we're powering through. I feel like I'm running at 50%. But, we're still going: story time, park play dates, a work out play date, an oil change and a visit to Tree Hill nature center. The weather got real cold for a few days and then warmed back up. Phil had a few fun nights out with the guys on Thursday and then with co-workers on Friday. Tracy and I did a painful power hour on Friday. Saturday morning Phil made us pancakes and then the older girls and I went on a paddle boat ride to see the manatees. They're back! I will never get tired of watching them. So awesome! We visited a friend's lemonade stand benefitting the Philippine Red Cross and UN World Food Program. Then we checked out the Pinegrove Deli for lunch. We got 'green lighted' by the Nixons during naptime. It's fun having visitors by boat. Later a babysitter came and Phil and I went on a dinner date to bb's. Then we met up to celebrate Emma's Birthday at Aardwolf, a new brewery in San Marco. Fun night! The older girls and I went to mass while Phil stayed home with Abigail so she could take a nice, long nap. It got nasty for a bit but we decided to just go to the Jags game (only in Jacksonville). We scapled some tickets and watched the Jags play the Cardinals. Crazy, I know. We are a little bit. We got a pizza and put the girls to bed early. Now, we're catching up on TV. We've been watching lots of Breaking Bad all week. It's good stuff!
This happens every once in a while: I am forced to s l o w d o w n. I got a nasty head cold at some point this week...maybe Tuesday. I don't have any sick leave with this job so I had to suffer through. The weather was rainy and crummy so the kids were stuck inside with me- the grizzly bear. Monday we met the Browns at Tillie Fowler and had a nice picnic (before it hit). Tuesday we did story time at Willowbranch. We were able to check out our Thanksgiving favorite: Run, Turkey, Run! (Favorite because we like to use a super nasally tone that annoys Phil when repeating, "Run, turkey, run!" ;-) Good thing we got that in, because it was down hill from there. I couldn't even take any of the good stuff because I'm still nursing. So it was lots of vapor rub and tissues! The crock pot became my good pal. Monday I tossed a pork tenderloin in there. And that was it. And it was amazing! Tuesday I did pork chops and sauerkraut. Wednesday I did crock pot spaghetti. I love spaghetti (I think because it's hard to mess up) but this was amazing! And then Thursday I did a chicken Marsala. Incredibly, I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. I went to bed right after I put the kids down each night to catch up. Abby is still waking up a few times each night. One night I had to put her in the room off the garage so she wouldn't wake up the others. The lock on Marly's door has been helping! I did squeeze in a few more park playdates; Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. Friday was a MOPS Leadership meeting. That night the Freemans had us over for meatloaf. It was great to catch up with the neighbors! Saturday we got up and went straight to the new Metro Diner that opened near our house. If you arrive at 7:30am, there's no wait! We did some shopping then came home for lunch and nap. That night was the Festival d'Vine, a fundraiser for Catholic Charities. We had a great time- so many restaurant and wine vendors! The next morning we went to 7:30 mass, had breakfast with Fr. Vic, then went to a practice run for the Zooma race I'm doing in Jan. Phil pushed the older girls in one stroller, I pushed Abigail in another. It was fun! We went to the Suter's for chicken and beer and then later went on a double date with the Mitchell's on our boat to the Landing. That was the first time I've been on our boat without the kids. It was a really nice night to be out (I was worried about the green algae). I also loved catching up with the Mitchells. Today is Veterans Day. We had a layed back MOPS meeting- making an advent craft and putting together boxes for Operation Christmas child. Nice to have a break. Phil played golf with some guys at Cimarron and played pretty well. We went out to Lola's for a fun, family dinner. Thank you to all the veterans out there! We're enjoying our freedom!
As I write this it feels like Halloween was so long ago! Our decorations are down, turkeys are out. Buckets of candy up high in the pantry, sugar coma is still twitching! But I still have to call this week "This is Halloween" because we're still talking about it. Monday was a MOPS Monday where we learned some CPR. Here's a recap. Thinking of doing CPR on one of my girls always gives me the willies. Monday night I ran to book club. I signed up for 2 1/2 marathons this week: Zooma and the Breast Cancer one. So, I've got lots of miles to log before I'm ready for those winter runs! We had a decent discussion on The Killing Floor. Tuesday was a costume party at story time. I bribed Ellie to dress as Cinderella instead of a ballet dancer. Is that wrong? It just fit better with the family princess theme (and she has 2 Cinderella dresses!) That evening Phil and I went out on a romantic date! We got last minute tickets to Michael Bublé at the Arena! We had an amazing dinner at the Salty Fig then ended up in a suite to watch Bublé! It was awesome! He's such a great performer! And Phil and I really needed a date night. Wednesday I pulled Ellie out of school and went to the MOPS playdate at the corn maze. We picked up the Leens and headed down to St. Augustine for a full day of fun. I was exhausted when we returned! Corn maze, bounce area, hayride, slides, pumpkin patch, animals, corn pit- wow! Thursday was Halloween! We had an "in house" morning...yes, even I have to do that sometimes! Ellie had some Halloween fun at school (wore her Cinderella dress and paraded around the 'big school'). We went trick or treating when Phil got home. This time Ellie wore her light up Cinderella dress! First we went to Mimi & Papa's and then we went down our street. The girls ended up with LOTS of goodies- flashlights, sippy cups, stuffed animals, bags and loads of candy! Friday we undid Halloween and prepped for T-day. We even did a Winn-Dixie run. I went running during naptime (my new Friday routine). Man, that double stroller is heavy at noon up the bridge! We went on a paddle boat ride that afternoon- still no manatees. The Halloween candy has been very useful for bribes...eating veges, cleaning the house, good behavior. I'm scared to think it might be worth the calories! Abigail has started waving, which is so cute. She waves for hello and good-bye. Not crawling, no teeth, not much hair. She turned 9 months this week and also loves the Halloween candy- especially the chocolate! Friday night we went to Buffalo's for wings. I think we were all asleep by 9pm! Saturday morning we dropped the older two at Kids Park and went to the Kennelly's Eggs & Kegs GA-FL party. It was nice to have just Abigail. The Centola-Suter party came over for power hour and brought this delicious Blue Moon gingerbread beer. We did thai for dinner..mmmm! This morning, everyone fell back an hour for Daylight Savings. It doesn't do much for those of us with young kids except remind us how bad we have it. As if 6am wasn't early enough...now it's 5am (if I'm lucky!) I did a breakfast casserole for breakfast. Today has lasted SO LONG! Marly decided she didn't want to go to the nursery so she came with us to mass and was pretty good. She even went with Ellie to the class. We hung out with the cousins at Mimi & Papa's. Suzanne and Jason are in Costa Rica this weekend (LUCKY!) Then we went to the Suter's for a BBQ and taught them how to play 7-11-or doubles. Then we went to the Nixons to celebrate the twins first year with cake and cocktails. Whew! After a few temper tantrums we made it to Sunday night! Here! Here!
It's taken all week to get back into the swing of things after being gone. I've gone room by room to clean up, clear out and throw away. I've pumped these kids full of fruits and veges and smoothies with "green powder"...just in time for Halloween candy! It's already here! Wednesdays are now our outside days (as long as the weather stays nice). We tried the morning park playdate with Ellie's classmates but no one came. The afternoon playdate was with MOPS friends and lots of people were there so that was nice. We did a mid-week boat ride, hadn't done that in a while! Thursday we went to Tabby's for a playdate and Friday we had coffee club to discuss the government shutdown. It was all the way at April's house so we couldn't stay long. That evening we went to Ellie's school for the Trunk or Treat. So cute! It was a big deal, I wasn't expecting this much. One class did a dance to Thriller. There was a huge haunted house! Hotdogs, snow cones and lots of fun trunks passing out candy. The girls were a little overwhelmed at first, but pretty soon Marly was yelling "Look at all my candy!" Abigail got lots of attention as Tinker Bell. Adorable! Saturday was a laid back day- finally! Phil worked on the lawn. I did more cleaning. We got in another boat ride. We went to a kids Halloween party that evening. I carved our pumpkin into an FSU football helmet. It didn't win, but I think it was cool, especially with our winning streak! Today we went to mass. It's nice to sorta have a break while the younger two are in the nursery. Phil's turned into a celebrity after his speech last weekend at church! This afternoon I hosted (along with Tracy and Mercedes), Gara's baby shower. We did an afternoon tea. I'm always happy to put my nice china to use! It was a beautiful afternoon out on the porch. Now, my house is back to normal. Ready to take on another week!
This week was full of MOPS. Monday we had a meeting where we learned about stain removal and basic sewing repairs. This went well with our Beautiful Mess theme...I think we all had piles of stained and ripped clothes about to get thrown away. I sure do spend a lot of time in front of the washer and dryer! We did Willowbranch story time and a full day at the park one day. We've been having William tag along so his mom can rest (since she's on bed rest). It's wild having a little buy join our pack. The girls love it! Mrs. Gremer came to watch the girls while Phil and I went to our 2nd NFP class. She brought fun Halloween treats for the kids. They loved it! Thursday morning I headed out to Kansas City, MO for the International MOPS Convention, also known as MomCon. I had a spreadsheet for childcare on Thursday...a neighbor coming over at 7:30, then a babysitter, then my sister. Even found Ellie a ride home from school both days. Whew! It was exhausting. It might take Phil a week or so to get over it. I don't think he had a restful weekend. Some may say it's crazy for me to leave my kids at home (one being a nursing baby)...but those folks would be floored to see 3500 other moms, just like me...at this conference! One of the speakers nailed it when she joked about how many people it took to take over for what we do in just one day! It was a wonderful break for me! I was able to get a full night of sleep each night, hear amazing speakers like Ken Davis, Kathi Lipp, Jen Hatmaker, Alexandra Kuykendall, Beth Moore, Elisa Morgan and Lysa TerKeurst and awesome music and dancing. We got to go out to some fun restaurants including an amazing BBQ place in Kansas- Oklahoma Joe's! I went to workshops on how to cut my grocery bill, marriage, getting organized and finding energy. Lots of prayer, lots of team building and just enough wine. I'm feeling renewed and rested- what a great combo :-) Meanwhile, my kids are still alive, Phil is slowly loving me again and I am back to being super mom. MOPS had a Halloween party yesterday. We hadn't talked too much about costumes so we sorta threw a few things together. Guess I better round some of the edges there. It was fun being in a chaotic room with a bunch of beautiful kids in costumes! We're working on getting back into a routine. Today we went to storytime for more Halloween fun (and brought William, too). The weather should be getting cooler (I enjoyed the blast of winter up in MO!) Halloween is right around the corner, this mama is happy!
Tonight is a very exciting night- the season premier of the Walking Dead! Sorta nutty that we are so into this show. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's how I feel like there are some similarities between the Walking Dead and my kids. While we're waiting for it to begin, I'll recap our week. Monday, I took the girls (and an extra, William...because what's one more?!) to the zoo. A few MOPS moms went so I had some help. It wasn't bad leaving at 11 and getting Ellie to school, I was kina nervous about how that would work. But, we were able to see plenty and got there right at 9. Tuesday we did story time at Willowbranch. They love the "Stirring my brew" song. We made some more pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and Ellie had dance class. The Freemans came over for a playdate that afternoon. Wednesday was rainy and cold so we stayed in and I spent the morning organizing Abigail's closet- getting out all the fall and winter clothes and putting away all the summer clothes. The day got much nicer so after school we met lots of friends at the park- Freemans, Thakkars, Nixons and Browns. Hoping to make that a regular thing. Lots of fun! Thursday we did a MOPS work out play date. I was great at working out this week. I ran Monday night and then met Shea for a long run Wed night. My legs are still sore from Thursdays work out, though. Phil played golf on Thursday evening and my pal, Chrissy came over and we got caught up over a few bottles of wine. Friday we attempted the Westconnet story time. We had to leave before art, which was a bummer but I think they still liked it. Marly and I put together a family Halloween dance video. Very funny! Back to the regular power hour Friday with pizza, which made my Color Me Rad 5K a little rough on Saturday morning. Regan got me in, which was sweet. Awesome course through the stadium! We attempted a swim at my parents that afternoon. Ellie didn't seem to mind the cold! We went to Elisa's first Birthday. It was so cute with a perfect ladybug theme! I love watching the one year olds smash the cake! They did a great job! We raced home to get there before the babysitter...and on the way, I got a text that she was CANCELLING! We've been so lucky that's never happened before, but it was crummy. Also lucky that I have a great list and was able to get another sitter by the time we got home! So, we were still able to head out to St. Augustine for Phil's breakfast club social at the Lairds beach house! It was so nice watching the sunset over the ocean while enjoying ceviche and sangria. This morning we relaxed and went to mass. Phil played Frisbee. We went to the Boozers for dinner tonight. Lots of fun things this week! Happy October to you!
I waited a week to post our pumpkin pics- I know it's kina crazy that I carved one so early but I needed the insides to make lots of pumpkin things this week (need, or really wanted). I know I'm biased but they are really adorable. If you are a relative, there's a good chance you'll get a Halloween card from us any day now.
I mentioned last week that I am working to get Ellie more "big kid" play dates. On Monday we met up with the Letcher's at a park. Gwen and Ellie had a great time together (so did Hank and Marly). We also met up with her pal, Kenedie from school at a park on Wednesday. We did a pm play date with the Thakkar's at a park one afternoon and then Anna Grace came over to play for a few hours on Thursday afternoon so her mom could unpack. Lots of parks- lots of "big kids" so that made Elizabeth very happy! Yay! In the afternoons we've been playing outside a bunch. I even took all 3 on a paddleboat ride one afternoon. No manatees yet, but we did have a huge alligator spy on us as we raced to get ready for church this morning! We've made lots of pumpkin treats! First was pumpkin raisin muffins- and we even shared with a few neighbors. We made chocolate chip pumpkin cookies during a play date with Tabby, although they didn't last long! We did pumpkin pancakes and even pumpkin coffee (just added some spice to the coffee grains) and of course roasted the pumpkin seeds. I tried to get to bed early and catch up on some sleep but we still did some fun things. We crashed a dinner with the Freemans and Nixons at Taverna. Scary, with kids, but they were pretty good. We also took the girls to Maggianos on Friday night, another scary thing with kids, but they were good again. Phil loves that place. I'm always nervous headed to the Town Center. But, it was fine. Saturday we cheered on the Kerkezi boys in their soccer games and watched FSU cream MD! We had wine club at Bernie's Wine Stop then dinner at Terra's. This afternoon we celebrated my Godson, Owen's 7th Birthday at Dave & Busters! Here are more pictures from our week...