The first week back to real life of 2019. Monday morning we got up and drove out to the beach for a MOPS play date. Caitlyn even had smoothies ready for us- what a pal! It was a nice morning with the moms. The kids had a ball. A bit chilly for swimming (my polar bear kids did anyway). Lots of fun with jellyfish! We still had dance that afternoon so a catch up walk with my park pals. Tuesday was brutal with Take Over Tuesday. I didn't realize how time consuming it is to document everything. I ran and playing some golf with my mom. Gorgeous weather all week! I even did a live video of carpool pick up. I got a Sprout Kitchen delivery this week. It's like having a personal chef- healthy, tasty and delivered right to my door. Not stuff I would ever make, but that beet fennel soup was perfect for a chilly afternoon lunch. I walked with Jess on Wednesday morning then met the boy crew at the train park. We did kids eat free and caught up with the Smiths. Another run then cards with the girls. We played gin; I came in last! Friday morning Voss and I rode the bus with the Spencer boys. We went to story time with Mrs. Owl downtown. It was neat. That evening was the St. Matthews date night. We ended up having a date with Phil's boss at Wine Cellar. It was nice to visit with them and they were very complimentary of Phil. It made me proud. Saturday morning came early. Phil and I played in my first ever tennis tournament! It was a long day of tennis, but I had a lot of fun! We lost our first match; but it was close! We won the 2nd. In the middle was Ellie's basketball game. Both older girls spent the night out. The younger kids and I went to check out Tracy's new house and had a fire pit dinner. Great night for it! This morning we grabbed Ellie and went to mass then back to TCC for another match. We won again and even got a plaque! We stayed and ate lunch and dinner on the back porch enjoying the weather and Sunday Funday. Dryanuary is kicking my butt- but I still think this is a good thing.
The morning of New Years Eve, Phil played tennis while the kids and I met the Spencers at MOSH. The train exhibit was back- one of our favs! There was also the super hero exhibit, which the kids liked. Later, Phil met us for lunch at La Nap. Ritas for lunch! I tried to do a sweet family thing for NYE. For MOPS, I got one of those Rapunzel lanterns where you light it and let us float away. My Christmas book has this sweet prayer to read before you go to bed. I even put chocolate milk in champagne flutes. It was sort of a fail. Phil freaked out because he thought I was going to set the house on fire. The lantern didn't rise. It was stressful to say the least. We did watch The Star as a family, an awesome movie about the story of Christmas. It gave a great visual for the week of mass readings this week! Weeks ago I had emailed the GM of TCC and asked if we could have an NYE party. He pretty much made it happen but it was chaotic on our end. There was a magic number we needed to have to make the party happen and I'm not sure we hit it. We'll find out on our bill. Still, it was a fabulous party. We drank and danced the night away and even got to see the fireworks across the city. It was good! The next morning was not so good. My neighbor saved me by having all the kids over for pancakes. I was able to sip my coffee in peace. If that isn't a New Years Day gift, I don't know what is! I took the kids to mass for the holy day of obligation- Solemnity of Mary. It was a bit of a cluster. Ellie was able to altar serve, Voss joined us for mass and we got the front row in a very crowded mass! It kind of went downhill from there. I walked up to the corner store for some Gatorade and redeemed myself. We did a family bike ride to visit my parents and a basketball game and thank God an early bedtime! The next morning we got up and drove to Miami to start round II of Christmas with Phil's family. We helped Michelle with the dogs she's taking care of. Abu made a Christmas feast and we did more gift exchanges. Vanessa invited us to Miami Beach the following day to see her stomping grounds. She has a place a few blocks from the beach. The weather was perfect! We even swam in the ocean. A delicious Cuban lunch then back to the Abus. Another Christmas feast, more dog walking. We googled "live music near me" on Thursday night and ended up at this bar like our local hangout, Lillians. They had an open mic night. Some people were amazing, others not so much. Other than me doing DRYanuary and Phil not, it was a great night. Waking up to the smell of bacon is the BEST. The next morning we walked dogs and waited for Tio Edgar & Tia Norma to arrive. More fun gifts and a great visit and update of the family tree. We attempted to pick strawberries but we drank milkshakes and ate cinnabuns instead. I didn't do so well with the no desserts part of my DRYanuary in Miami. For Christmas, Vanessa got us tickets to see Swan Lake. We got dressed up and went Friday night. It was an amazing ballet! The Odessa dancers blew me away. The girls got a little restless, but all in all, they were very good. What a great show! The following morning we packed up and drove back to Jacksonville. It was a great visit! This morning, Ellie was officially on the schedule for altar serving. Trying to get back into the routine again! I spent all day taking down Christmas decorations. Voss took a spill in the wagon (being pulled by Ellie's bike). He and Phil stayed back at naptime while the girls and I went on a boat ride with Mimi and Papa. I got in an afternoon run then we did a family grocery store trip. Basketball then make your own pizza night. We watched It Takes Two then did the family rosary. I am feeling very grateful for all the chaos around me! Happy New Year!
You know, the 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas day. So, we still have quite a bit of Christmas to go here. The 3rd day of Christmas is where I left off. The sleepover went well. Phil had enough about 10min in and went for a guys night. We attempted a fire pit but the marshmallows were eaten before the fire got hot enough. We did a movie night and then off to bed. The next morning came early- no thanks to Voss who hit his lip in the middle of the night and Mr. Snores. On the 4th day of Christmas, Marly and her pal, Brooklyn made pancakes for breakfast with a giant mess for me to clean up. I kicked all the kids outside so I could get the house back to normal. I packed up everyone and brought them home then headed to the Hollands for a pool party. What good friends I have- who save me on a morning when I needed an out. Warm weather came out of nowhere. Vanessa, Meghan, Jen and I caught up over prosecco and pizza. It was glorious! An afternoon of reading and basketball. My mom and I went on base to look at Macs. This Dell is so slow and our Chromebook died. I'm still trying to get the girls watches activated. Not a great tech time for me! That evening we had Emily babysit and went to a Christmas party at the Napoleons. They sure know how to host! A delicious sit down dinner and a fun gift exchange. We even came home at a decent hour. On the 5th day of Christmas, we met the Shannons at the zoo. It was hazy and rainy but at least the zoo wasn't crowded. My kids acted awful. I could hardly catch up with my pal, KTK. I'm thankful she was so understanding. So what do you do when your kids are melting? Take them out for a pizza lunch then to Costco (said no good parent ever!) The only good thing to come from that was that we bought Google minis. The girls are having a ball with speakers in their rooms and we just figured out the intercom system. I love it! Tech world is coming back! I went out for a girls night and even clubbing later that night. This 6th day of Christmas came early thanks so my google alarm clock blasting and making me feel like I was still clubbing (thanks, Ellie!) We went to mass and was surprised by our pal, Kristy who had moved away. Front row fun! Family breakfast and movie date- perfect for the fest of the Holy Family. We saw Marry Poppins. I loved it! This evening was our neighborhood party. No longer a progressive dinner. The Kelley's were so sweet to host us. It makes me sad to see our aging neighbors. But I do feel more connected to everyone after our party. I'm ready for an early night as the Christmas magic keeps going.
I've been partying so hard I lost track of the days! Last I left off was starting the week with caroling at the nursing home. We had a good group this year. I took my friend, Anne's boys so she could go to an OB appointment in peace. Too bad Aedan cried through most of it! We had a play date at the indoor playground after. It was nice to catch up with Katie and a new friend, Lisa. I went with Marly on Tuesday to her field trip to the zoo. There were so many parents helping that it was just Marly and I together. How nice! Voss had a Happy Birthday Jesus party at school that was so sweet. We helped stuff luminary bags for a school fundraiser. Stephanie makes every party better with prosecco! Not as much partying at night this week which was good. Instead I spent a lot of time watching cheesy Netflix Christmas specials. I loved them all! I even watched my favorite movie, Love Actually. Perfect for enjoying the season! The girls had a winter sing along at school. It was crowded and Abby and Ellie didn't participate. My last morning off before all the kids are out of school for a long break- was foiled by rain! Running on the treadmill is just not the same. I got in a good grocery run and officially ready for Christmas. Lots of wrapping and cutting. (Too bad I lost the project I was working on! Blah!) Friday morning started stressful. I stayed up late trying to prepare as much as I could but with 3 class parties I was sorta nuts. Luckily coffee club was the first stop. After a great conversation with wonderful people, I was put back on track. Marly's class party went well thanks so all the amazing parents at the school. It was a great day. I even brought a friend dinner who just had a baby girl. Yay, Chrissy! After school we went to my parents for a chili dinner with cousins. Natalie and her kids came up from Winter Park. UE and AS made the party with their humor. Matt was in town, too. It was fun seeing everyone. Saturday was another relaxing morning. Mom, Dad and Matt met us at Ellie's basketball game. A great win! A healthy lunch after at Vale. Phil and the girls sold luminaries at school then we had a park play date with the Cowgills to say goodbye before they move to Tampa. That night I had wine and dessert with my pal, Tracy. Sunday was a slow start. We all slept in and went to 10:30 mass so Ellie could altar serve but they were full! That evening we went to Riverside to walk around and see the luminaries. We saw the live nativity. Phil picked up Tijuana Flats and we did a family movie night. On Christmas Eve we kicked things off with donuts at Krispy Kreme! Phil and my brother played golf. I made a neat scavenger hunt for the kids. It was pretty cool. I was crabby at first but I got over it. The kids did a Cajun gift exchange and then the adults did one. Rob brought a ham. We did sandwiches and chips and lots of cookies! We left around 5 and picked up some Chinese Food for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We opened all our gifts under the tree. We watched another Netflix Christmas movie, tracked Santa on the app and 4 super excited Bravos headed to bed. It was such a special night with the family. I loved it. It was a busy night for Santa. He and a bunch of helpers put together a basketball hoop! Our elf, Jingles even caught him on camera before she went back with him! Christmas morning came early. We had time to play with new toys, make a yummy crack casserole and eggs benedict all before mass. We went back to my parents for an awesome beef tenderloin and Caesar salad lunch. We drank Champaign and watched Christmas movies- White Christmas and Christmas Story. I even came back after bedtime for a nightcap with my dad and brother on the dock with the firepit. It really was a wonderful Christmas. On the 2nd day of Christmas we moved rooms over. What a job! It took pretty much ALL day but I am so glad it's finished. We filled 2 trash bags and 2 give away bags! The older girls now have their own rooms. Abby and Voss are sharing the bunk bed. I'm hoping this arrangement lasts a while. We went to TCC for kids eat free last night-staying until MIDNIGHT having way too much fun! Today has been relaxing, too. The older girls and I did a Walmart run. I'm trying to figure out how to activate these tracker watches Santa brought. Too bad they are from some crazy company at the North Pole. Ellie is ice skating with Charlotte. Both the older girls get a sleepover tonight. Pizza and popcorn movie night is in our future. Yay!
Another week of parties! Monday we had maybe the most amazing speaker at MOPS, a behavior specialist, Dr. Brian. He was witty, direct and super helpful! The afternoon of ballet. We had our book club ornament exchange that night. I loved discussing our year of reading along with so many other "cup filling topics". We even rang in Tracy's Birthday at midnight. Tuesday was a bit rough. We did a "my favorite" things brunch. My gift of the diva cup went over well, I think. Definitely my fav thing of 2018! I walked away with candles and lotions- you know. I was glad to finally have a few nights in. I'd love to say I caught up on sleep but there's just always so much to do! I'm really proud that our Christmas cards are all out! 150 of them with notes written from me on the back (that's the tough part). I loved that I received 2 cards in the mail this week with hand written notes. That means so much to me! Voss and I spent Wednesday morning at my parent's house helping get their Christmas poem in line. I'll put a picture of it below. My dad always does such a nice job on that! I finally cooked up the Front Porch turnips we had gotten- it looked like a garden in our fridge. That and pork chops with sauerkraut upped my cooking game this week. Phil, Voss and I went to the Penance Service while the kids were in religion class. It always feels so good to hit up Confession before a holiday. Part of the journey to prepare for Christmas. Thursday I hosted a brunch. I used all my china and crystal and nice linens. Yes, it was a lot of work. And yes, I'm still tired from last week- but I really loved doing it! My favorite part was the last hour, with a few of my favorite people- sitting around sipping a bloody mary and having real conversations. Wow, I love that stuff! And somehow, I still ended up with 8 bottles of prosecco! Ready for another party! Friday we did a quick play date with the Spencer brothers then it was Voss's Christmas program at school. Erik was in town for the weekend so he came, too. We all went to lunch at TCC after. That night was the MOPS & POPS Christmas party at the Smith's. They are such amazing hosts! We did a power hour facing the gorgeous river and Taylor walks in with pepperoni rolls right on point! It was awesome! We stayed out way too late, but it was probably worth it. Saturday morning was nice and relaxing- in my nightgown playing Imagine If with the girls. Ellie had a basketball game. Not a win, but she's playing better! Still so fun to watch. My sister and her boys came, too. We all went to St. Augustine after to see the Night of Lights. My brothers came together, Suzanne and her crew. We all met for drinks/early dinner then headed to the trolley. I waited in line for TWO HOURS. It sounds horrible (some may say that it was) but I was okay. Rob (Suzanne's fiancé) brought me a huge cup of wine. The guys went bar hopping. The kids all played together. It wasn't bad at all. We finally got on the trolley and sang carols and rode around the city to see the lights. It was a late night, but I'm glad we did it. I went out with my brother later for a pizza and nightcap. Now I really am wiped out! This morning Ellie did an awesome job of getting everyone up and out- too bad they were full with altar servers. We took a break after then went to the Nutcracker ballet. I love this tradition. I love that I get to share it with my daughters now. I thought it was especially neat having the symphony play right in front of the dancers. We even saw the sugar plum fairy get engaged on stage at the end! So awesome! Dinner at TCC tonight to kick off the week. We are getting ready for Christmas!
My Birthday week! One of my favorite times of year! I did lots of things for me this week. It was the week of parties, too. It began with the MOPS breakfast with Santa. Easy peasy with just one child who was excited to tell Santa he wants an aircraft carrier for Christmas. A rainy day, perfect for reading my new book, Atlas Shrugged. Playing in the muddy park and getting steps with my pal, Tracy that afternoon. I got an amazing massage by Sherry (she truly has the gift of touch!) and a facial by Travis. My friend, Heather hosted a luncheon for the St. Vincents Foundation. We heard this amazing cancer doctor tell us all the great things happening in that world. I got to see so many friends in one room- one hell of a Birthday party! TCC hosted lots of fun things this week. Their open house was fabulous as always! We were even serenaded as we walked in the door! We did first Friday seafood dinner with friends while the kids did tennis. We also went to the breakfast with Santa. Crowded, but still a great party. I loved that Santa told Marly she didn't need a phone and told all of them to be kind to each other! We went to Phil's work party and the Engaged Encounter party. The night of my Birthday we met friends at a brewery for their cookie and beer pairing. I already got my Christmas cards printed. You can see the new look for Bravofam. Andrea is amazing!! Lots of card writing, wrapping, monogramming and cutting this weekend! We did the Birthday party shuffle today- Phil taking the older two to Velocity. Me taking the younger two to a ballet party. We met at the Jingle Jam to see Marly and Abby perform. Whew! I'm wiped out! But so happy to be alive!
This new season of life gives me time to sit and think. I don't know if I've ever had time like this to just take some deep breaths. Oh well, back in the day I had lots of time like this but I didn't realize it was so precious. I really am grateful for all that I have. It feels good. I love when the weather gets cool this time of year. It was actually cold for a little while there. I even brought the plants inside. We had a MOPS craft day making bath bombs. I got to meet some new members. There was a girls night that night, bowling. I really like meeting new people. I'm hoping the wild goose chase of dentists has ended. I took Ellie to Arlington for yet another appointment. The consensus is that we are not going to touch her baby teeth with cavities. I'm hoping that's the right call. Mom came with me to see a poetry reading in San Marco. I don't think I'd ever been to one. It was pretty neat. We had coffee club to discuss the fires in CA. It was a great conversation. I'm sad that it feels like coffee club is dying. There isn't interest like there once was. Maybe I need to look in a different crowd. The afternoon craze of driving kids places and playing in the park is real. I'm grateful for the park walks with my pal, Tracy. One afternoon is was raining so we just walked back and forth across the front walkway of the dance studio. I'm sure we look like nuts, but I've been hitting my 10K steps every day. Many nights you can find me walking up and down my street! Friday we went back to the park. We did the St. Matthews family movie night on Friday night. I finished the 2018 book challenge. I finished listening to the book that was published the year I was born, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. It was odd. Now, I've started Atlas Shrugged. It was a cold, rainy weekend- perfect for reading! On Saturday I stayed in my nightgown until about 10am! Ellie had her first basketball game. Later we went to Christmas in Avondale. The rain scared many people away. Not us! This morning we did mass then another St. Matthews Date Day. Phil and I ubered to the Jags game for our date. It was fun- we even won! We headed to the beach for our family photo session. It was perfect! We ended with dinner on the beach in Sawgrass- what a great weekend!
The week began nice and easy. Voss and I spent the morning at the park. We saw friends come and go. Even my high school friend, Petra's kids! After, we did a loop downtown to buy Nutcracker tickets. I did an afternoon park walk with my pal, Tracy to walk off some stress during ballet. Perfect! That night was book club to discuss Radium Girls. It was a tough book to read, not sure I'd recommend it. But still an important topic for us to know about and appreciate the sacrifice. Rachael and I went to Tracy's for an after party. Tuesday I ran, went to the Thrift store and the grocery store. A little something for everyone. I helped make talking turkeys in Marly's class. We had a dinner in St. Augustine with Phil's work friends. I finally got to see all the lights. So much fun! I like his work friends so far. The kids were off on Wednesday. We took the skyway to MOCA. Phil met us for lunch then we all went to a piano class. That night we went to TCC for kids eat free. Later, we went to a fish dinner to welcome home Matt, Aunt Susan and Bill. Late night fire pit on the dock was nice. Thursday morning we got up early and ran the Thanksgiving Classic 5K. It was early, but a good family activity. We came home, Marly made pancakes then we went to the Harmon football game in the park. Then, we went to Thanksgiving lunch at my parent's house. We had recorded the parade and all sat together watching it after lunch. It was such a nice day. Crummy weather towards the end, but that made it even better. Black Friday started slow. We finally decided to do a family run to get moving. Phil went hunting with my dad and brother. Ellie and I put up decorations. Later, mom and I got a pedi. We ended up going to TCC for salads for dinner. SO much eating!! Saturday we did a family day of golf. The weather was perfect. I think everyone had a great time. The only bummer was FSU's loss to Florida. Ugh. I hate losing. We celebrated Mark's Birthday with an oyster roast, then went to see the boat parade downtown. That's one of my favorite things to do! We went out later with Matt to Latin House Grill and discussed future travel fantasies. This morning we went to mass then breakfast. It was a low key day, which we all needed. Early bedtime with the rosary was perfect. I enjoyed spending so much time with my brother, Matt. He's really been through a rough time with Hurricane damage. There wasn't too much drama this Thanksgiving. Just enough to keep it interesting. Another reminder of how lucky we are- so much to be thankful for!
We got some rain early in the week and it finally brought that cold front we've been waiting for. And then fall and winter showed up together! I liked it. It was nice to finally be cold and not sweating all the time! I helped in the book fair at school this week and then spent lots of money on books. It's nice to see them excited to read, though. I got in a few good runs and I've been really trying to get in my 10K step goal. You may see me walking up and down my street at night trying to get it in! Marly and I went to her reconciliation class and even had a round table discussion about examining our consciences. Voss and I went to the Little Learners program at MOSH. It was okay. He loved riding the sky way the best. Ha! It was Thanksgiving lunch at one school and a Thanksgiving program at preschool. Lots of turkeys! We had a nice TCC lunch after Voss's program to celebrate. We got a married people night out date night on Friday. We ended up getting sushi then walking on our street. We had a lot of down time this weekend. It was pretty nice. Abby and I watched this Halmark-ish movie on Saturday afternoon. We did family zoo day that morning and the wine fest for Emma's Birthday that night. Today we went to mass, early thanks to our altar server who needs to be on time. We had breakfast at TCC then a visit with Mimi and Papa. Phil helped the girls build a treehouse, which makes me nervous to watch. It was good to see them spending the day outside, though! I finally finished my book club book and am onto another one. We had a Sunday Funday in the hood- shucking oysters at the Weisses. You know that's my favorite thing! It was such a nice night, with a dangerous bike ride home. Excited for Thanksgiving week!
After that last week, when I was feeling depleted, I needed to do something to get out of my funk. I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling down, helping someone or doing something nice for someone makes me feel better. On Monday, I offered up to watch a bunch of people's kids. You'd think it would be super stressful, but it wasn't bad at all. Maybe the only con is that Voss came out with a little cold. Luckily, it's already cleared up. But I was feeling guilty giving him a few breathing treatments. But seeing these worn out moms dropping off their kids really made me feel better! On Tuesday I did a Costco run and dropped off a few items for the farms girls and made a few meals for moms with new babies. Those chicken enchiladas are always a good one (for us, too). Phil did a jalapeno challenge that night. The girls earned some cash and everyone ate veggies. Yay! I got to go on a few girls nights. We did a movie night Monday for Indivisible. I should have looked it up before, I don't think I would have opted to go. But still a good movie to see- especially this week of Veterans Day. Election night was hard to watch. I'm thankful I had good wine to drink and great group texts happening. I'm proud of duval turning blue and taking over the house! Wednesday we played at the park, helped a friend pack. The afternoon was stressful. Phil went to a Friends of Stockton fundraiser while I went with the kids to the teaching mass. I ended up meeting the "TCC bad moms" out for Abby's Birthday. I was just in time for the nightcap. Thursday I was supposed to meet Kat for lunch but she bailed on me. Instead I brought a bottle of wine to April and went thrift shopping- the best retail therapy for me! I spent about $150 and got 12 dresses and 5 pairs of shoes! Don't worry, I pulled out 12 dresses to give away. Not much closet space! That night we did a girls night helping a friend put Ikea furniture together. The kids were off on Friday. Phil took off, too. We had a relaxing morning with a big breakfast. We did a family movie day to see the Nutcracker in 3D. It was so good! I loved it! We did a pizza lunch after. We were supposed to play glow in the dark golf that night but the rain ruined that plan. It finally cleared up. We sat on the back porch of TCC while the kids ran with glow sticks. Not too bad. I even walked home. Saturday Ellie had altar server training. I worked on some silhouetting. We did a family day in St. Augustine and toured the Castillo de San Marco. It was a nice afternoon. Phil and I went on a date that night to Ruth's Chris then an evening with Ira Glass. It wasn't as amazing as I was hoping but I'm still so glad we went. Sunday was mass- with Ellie altar serving! I am so proud of her! We did TCC breakfast with the Applegates then just sorta hung out all day. We ran/rode bikes to my parents to hug our favorite veteran. Marly went to a Birthday party. We ended up going to TCC with the Bentons- more running on the lawn with glow sticks. This time Memorial park did fireworks for us! Fried chicken night! Today the kids were off of school again. They all came to MOPS with me. Mae did her behavior specialist talk. It's neat how MOPS has changed her speech! We did lunch with the Smiths then an afternoon of dance, basketball practice, science project finishing touches and more silhoutetting. Trying to ease into the holidays with some peace and zen and lots of giving!