Halloween is happening! Anna arrived in the mail just in time. We've been playing Frozen all week. We've also been feeding the neighbor's cats, reading lots of books, enjoying the cooler weather and having some fun. Monday was a MOPS meeting with the behavior specialist who did that potty training seminar I went to a few months ago. Tuesday Abigail had a play date with her buddy, Sam. Wednesday we went to the beach. Timuquana has this new reciprocal membership with Sawgrass so I thought I'd check it out. The younger girls and I headed out right after dropping Ellie off and WOW! This is going to rock my world. A great place to go right on the beach. Amazing! We even went back today with Phil and Ellie. So nice! We got into the Halloween spirit- paining pumpkin nails and heading to the pumpkin patch on Saturday morning. Last minute we got to go to Halloween Doors & More that night (thanks to Regan!). That was a crazy day because Ellie's game was smack in the middle of the day then we raced home for naps before getting Frozen for the party. Phil and I used to volunteer at Halloween Doors & More back in the day, but this was our first time going as parents. It was super cool, just how I remembered. The girls had a ball. Getting them bathed and in bed after was a nightmare (meltdowns when I took their make up off). Still worth it, though. Chrissy and Tripp came over for a night cap while Phil watched FSU beat Notre Dame. We did an Engaged Encounter gathering on Friday night. It was nice to catch up, we hadn't been in a few months. We discussed the NFP chat from the last weekend we did. Today we slept in a bit then had breakfast and went to mass. After the beach we went to the Sleeth's pumpkin carving party. I did a Spiderman pumpkin. It just looked cool and do-able. We didn't win, yet again. But, it was still pretty good. We finally got the girls down for bed after a wild evening. Now we're eating Halloween candy. Dangerous!
In the effort to enrich our marriage, brighten our children and save some cash, we decided to get rid of cable. This is something we've discussed doing for some time, just didn't have the guts. Our bill went up recently (whatever promotion we were on ended) so we bit the bullet and went brave. It's been a tough week, not gonna lie. One rough afternoon when I needed some Ellen, I discovered that when you cut cable that means you have no channels at all. Today we bought some "rabbit ears" and now we have 30 channels, but clearly we have more like 20. After a week of this, it's not too bad. Most shows we love are still available for free online and thanks to Katie we have HBO-Go, which is endless entertainment as it is. The only thing we're really missing is the Walking Dead, which of course premieres tonight. Meaning the Bravos must get creative. Thank you Thoresens for saving us tonight! Another fun thing this week is that we're participating in a Local Fare fundraiser for MOPS. This is forcing me to add lots of vegggies to our diet and try new recipes. We're feeding our neighbor's cats for a few weeks, which the girls are loving. Why get a pet when you can just go next door and play for a bit, teach responsibility then head out? More fun things; we had a MOPS leadership meeting on Monday, which saved me because you know I was exhausted after driving back from Miami. We did a fun lunch playdate at McDonalds afterwards. Tuesday I had an appointment to listen to baby boy Bravo. He's growing great and has a nice heart beat in the 140-150s. My due date window has grown from perhaps Jan20-Feb2. I'm hoping it's the latter so Abigail can have a Birthday party. Abby-cadaby had a playdate before the appointment with her buddy, Willow then after the appointment we had ice cream for lunch. That afternoon we had a quick play date with the Cower boys before dinner. Wednesday was a big day. We went to the Sykes & Cooper Corn Maze for a MOPS play date. It was so HOT! Other than that, the girls had a great time. Carpooling made it even more fun. Thursday I stayed in with Abigail to work on potty training. No M&Ms were given. It's a slow process. The thought of potty training 2 more children just overwhelms me. Abigail seems to want to go- she tries to take off her diaper and tells me when its dirty, but I can get her to go on the potty once to see how to do it. I just need some one on one time with her. Ha. That night my dad came over for a Birthday dinner (a week late, I know). The girls went nuts and loved having him there. I think he enjoyed it, too. My mom's been out of town on a European Viking cruise with her sister, so I think he enjoyed a distraction. Friday was nice and low key- a morning walk/bike ride then story time. We put the girls to bed early and got burgers and watched Up in the Air. Saturday began with pancakes and a dance party then Ellie's soccer game. Phil took the girls to Leo's 2nd Birthday with a train while I went to Metro Diner to celebrate baby Mitchell #3 with Katherine and some sweet friends. After nap we went to Elisa's 2nd super sweet rainbow party. Abigail went nuts (well, we all did) at the candy table. The sugar high is still going thanks to the party favors! This morning was mass, quick visit with my parents then Dunkin donuts (clearly we needed more sugar!) Target (for those rabbit ears) then some pizza for lunch. This afternoon we went to Losco park for the FFC family fun day. Good thing we could run out some of that sugar high! Phil made tacos for dinner. Now we're just waiting for the WD kick off!
This week I went all the way to Kentucky for some soul candy. Have you read Chicken Soup for the soul? That's what I'm thinking...lots of that, inside and out. What I mean is, a conference for moms. Picture 3,000 mainly kids-less moms, it was pretty sweet. Sleeping in, a comfy bed all to myself, sessions on managing anger, sex, mothering daughters, family values, friendships and faith all going with the "Be You Bravely" theme. I even was able to have a few fun nights out, one meeting up with an ole pal, Deborah who recently moved to Louisville. The week began like many others- an oil change, last minute play dates (one with Abigail at Willow's house and another with 6 crabby kids walking through the hood), a canceled midwife appointment and book club with a fantastic adoption discussion on Orphan Train. Wednesday after Ellie's religion class, the girls and I drove down to Miami. I got in at 1am then turned around and left their house for the airport around 6:30am- a crazy start for my vacation- but hey, that's what you gotta do sometimes. It turned out to be a win-win. I got a much needed break, the girls had a fun weekend with their grandparents and Phil had a weekend to miss us ;-) I met up with some Jacksonville friends in Atlanta then we all flew into Louisville together. I think the break out sessions were much better than last year but the main sessions weren't as powerful. The one workshop on anger was totally worth the trip out there. I'll try to do a re-cap with my notes for MOPS and post it again here. It was good stuff. I flew back early Sunday morning, made it to Miami that afternoon then drove back to Jax late last night. In all my travel time I was able to catch up with my siblings and a few friends on the phone, which is always nice. Now I'm renewed and re-energized- a happy mama!
I'm finally getting into the swing of things with the girls in school. We are reading lots (even me on my Kindle, thanks Ali!) and Ellie got 100% on her sight words quiz this week- yea! I ran around like a nut at MOPS getting the nursery in order, but I was still able to relax at the meeting. It was almost a chilly, rainy week- overcast mostly so it maybe felt like fall? We even had the first day of fall...not that it matters much here in FL, our fall is more like December...but it was a nice feeling to have a break from the sauna of August. So we played at the park a few times. Once we met Jean up there with her boys since she's in town still. We had coffee club at Suzanne's to discuss the latest with the Jacksonville Landing. I had a lunch date sans kids mostly for Stephanie's Birthday. She hosted a rockin' play date at her house on Friday. I feel like we were outside the whole day. Our weekend was super low key...finally! We went to Moon River for pizza on Friday night. Saturday Ellie had an early soccer game. We dipped into Maple Street for brunch afterwards before heading to RPDS for a Parenting with Purpose seminar. We sat in this great session that was discipline vs. punishment and picked up a few tips. We took a wonderful family nap then went to TCC to watch the FSU game. This turned out to be a great idea. They have flat screens set up on the patio facing the river with comfy couches and chairs. So, Phil and I sat and ate and watched while the girls ran all over the lawn. We had the place to ourselves, too. To top it off, the 'Noles pulled out a win- whew! So, it was a good night! This morning we went to mass and saw a bunch of friends. We snagged the Applegates and hit up Metro Diner for a crazy-kid breakfast. So, a lot of eating out this weekend. Not really in our plan, but it sure makes my job easy. Some of us did a super early naptime so we squeezed in a trip to the park and now we're back working on sight words and pseudo potty training (that means Abigail is diaper-less and the older girls are in it only for the M&Ms <Lucy cleaning up lots of messes>) Happy Sunday to you! I keep seeing this: Happy Fall, Y'all!
This week my good friend, Chrissy got married. I was privileged enough to be her bridesmaid, a roll I wasn't quite used to. I finally got with the program this week and started beefing up my maid-duties. I had to tap into Chrissy's mom to get a steady stream of to-do's. It worked out well because Phil's parents came to visit this week, too. So, I was able to sneak off to perform my duties without being missed too much. I got in a few fun things, too like late lunch with my mom and a pedicure. The theme of the wedding was Steampunk, which has baffled me this whole time...but the best man gave a great speech last night where he talked about it being the perfect combination of both of them; her creativity/artistic syle- his mechanical/cars/tools style. Now it makes more sense. It was crazy and outlandish and not something I'd do...but perfect for them and I got teary quite a few times this weekend: the groom's mom's speech at the rehearsal dinner (I get the mom's perspective these days), helping Chrissy into her gorgeous wedding dress and hearing them exchange their written vows. I even got in a cardio workout- helping to bustle the dress and sprinting back to the hotel suite to grab the forgotten bouquet! I didn't take any pictures to post here, though. I've read too many posts about iPhone photo-bombs from professional photographers. So, I'll post a link here later when they come out. Other things we did this week: a play date at a splash park with MOPS, convention fundraiser cooking/catering with MOPS, Ellie's open house for religious education (her teacher will be a friend I knew back in high school who ran this awesome camp for teenagers so I'm so excited for this!), Ellie's soccer game in the rain (a WIN!), play date with the Thompsons who are visiting, walk to Starbucks with my friend Katherine, lunch with Ellie at school, an awesome FSU win, a great visit with my in-laws and a quick visit with my brother, Erik today while Phil was at the Jags game. So, we're exhausted but happy this Sunday-funday.
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.