We finished off the last week of January and now we're into February. I think it's the coldest, darkest month in town. We are doing all sorts of things to brighten things up. It was the last week of Dryanuary for me. I finished strong. I went to my friend, Katie's investiture and watched her officially become a judge. It was a really neat ceremony; I'm proud to know her! I even drank water at her reception. I lost a total of 11 pounds in January so the running, eating better and drinking less has truly paid off. I just have to keep it going. I didn't do so well this weekend. We played glow in the dark golf on Friday and then a Birthday party and girls night Saturday and the super bowl on Sunday. But I have been walking, Phil and I even did a "date" walk on Saturday afternoon. We went roller skating as a family yesterday. An awesome thing to do on a gloomy, rainy day. I channeled my skate n space 80's self. The week was good with a few fun things. Ellie, Phil and I went to a new dentist- my friend, Brittany. I love having good insurance! My friend, Jessica started a breakfast club to help with self growth. I think that's going to be a neat thing. It was literacy week at school with a vocabulary parade and reading at lunch. We celebrated Abby's 6th Birthday on Tuesday with breakfast donuts and dinner out to Panera. The Cochrans were there, too so we sorta took over the room! We brought cupcakes in for her class treat on Friday. It was also Marly's teacher's Birthday so with my room mom duties we got her gift cards and a fun coffee. Lots of fun things! Last night we all stayed up too late eating and watching the Patriots win the super bowl (again). The Cochrans invited us all over to the Smiths for a Super Bowl party. Ha! It was a fun night.
It was a week of ranges. The weather has been all over the place. Monday was MLK day. I got the kids in for a piano lesson then headed downtown for the parade. I met up with my friend, Chrissy and her boys. Lots of candy and a skyway ride (all over since I missed the stop). We had a tense afternoon and many more hot moments this week. Phil and I had a political standoff this week. It got hot. The good news is that we made up. We still don't agree, but we are working through it. I got out a lot this week, too. We finally discussed John Galt from Atlas Shrugged! It was so good. Heather was a wonderful host. It would have gone longer had I been drinking but dryanuary is still going strong. Tuesday was Voss's Birthday. I now have a 4 year old! We went to Krispy Kreme for donuts. My mom met me at school for a morning of awards ceremonies. In between we dashed back to Voss's school for his class Birthday party. We brought in cookies and ice cream for the morning snack! I made spaghetti for Voss's Birthday dinner. Phil went out for poker. Wednesday we went to Trinity for story time and to prep for the Birthday party this weekend. My friend, Laurie helped me that afternoon so I could sneak out and meet Rachael and the Centola sisters for dinner and Les Miserables. We stayed out late discussing the show and friend therapy for my political woes. It's amazing how a night out like that gives me so much energy! I did a 10 mile run on Thursday morning. It felt great; an awesome run to the Landing and back. I even got in a trip to Costco. Phil's parents came in that afternoon. I grilled some salmon burgers then headed out for a kindergarten moms night out. We had a good conversation about teaching our kids about finances. Then, I met some TCC friends out for Tiffany's Birthday. Friday, we went to Ellie's awards ceremony. Then, we went to a Birthday party play date then shoe shopping to no avail. We went to Latin House grill for dinner and dancing. Phil and I went out with my brother that night. It was nice to catch up with him. Saturday morning we woke up to smell of pancakes and bacon, thanks to my MIL. A few Cutlip kids came over to play while I cleaned out the garage. That afternoon we threw a Birthday party for Abby and Voss at the Trinity Indoor playground. It was maybe one of the easiest parties I've thrown! The best part is that the kids had an awesome time! Yay! We opened gifts once we got home. I was wiped out by then. Phil and his parents went back out to Latin House! This morning, Ellie got us all ready for mass again. It's been raining and cold all day! We did TCC for breakfast then headed to the boat show. The kids got fishing poles and we bought a boat! It's going to be a great summer! Woooo whooo! We've been organizing drawers, snuggling by the TV and playing with new toys all afternoon. Chili for dinner and a bilingual family rosary. I'm feeling very thankful for all the Birthday blessings!
Rainy Monday morning with flag raising and MOPS. The breakfasts have become so healthy with whole wheat muffins and power balls- I love it. I even grabbed a few fun snacks for later. They brought back the white elephant gift exchange. This time with dice and more gift swapping and stealing. The cat book came back which means lots of awesome belly laughs! Afternoon walk during dance and we got a sneak peek of the dance costumes! Tuesday was chilly again. I ran to coffee club for a great discussion on the government shut down. Always so good for the soul! More park fun that afternoon. Savannah, Jess and I went to see "On the Basis of Sex" that night. It was an awesome girl power movie. The girls got report cards. Not all A's this time- we added some B's, but still proud of the girls. I finished reading Atlas Shrugged. The library didn't charge me for turning it in a week late. I guess they understand it takes a long time to read that sucker. I loved it, though. I can't wait for the book club discussion tomorrow. I even made a shirt! Wednesday I helped watch one of Voss's pals. Too bad he was a little off and they didn't get along half the time. I walked again with Jess and Anne and it was super cold! I followed Anne to Aldi for a new shopping experience. It was interesting. I'll go back maybe without kids. First week back to religion class. Phil and I did a sushi date with Voss. Thursday I ran home after dropping off Voss. It was a great run- still only 7 miles, though. Tiffany gave me a ride back to school. We checked on our neighbor's cats and babysat a friend's hamster this week. Great entertainment for the kids. I'm so glad we returned Wonder alive. I got to go to a MOPS clothing swap and picked up a few fun dresses. Ellie got some shoes and all the girls got picture frames. Friday was an errand day. Not exciting for Voss. He finally fell asleep on a walk from my parent's house. After school we went to Kassie's farm and I helped her put nose rings in 3 calves so the mothers can keep their fat for the winter. That was a neat afternoon. Phil and I did a Married People Night out that night. We did another sushi date then went back for the marriage enrichment. Andy Stanley gave a great talk about assuming the best. Saturday morning started off nice with a great family breakfast. It went downhill quickly with a wardrobe disagreement. Ellie played a great basketball game then we attempted a family tennis afternoon. I wish our attitude matched the gorgeous weather. I was very happy to sneak out for a girls night. We got all dressed up and met at the rooftop of River and Post. We didn't end up having dinner until almost 10pm! It was nice to catch up with the whole Rotaract crew, though. This morning Ellie got us all up and ready for mass. We got to meet baby Fox and snuggle our Godson, Huck. We had breakfast with the Smiths. It was super cold again today. We spent most of the day snuggled on the coach watching Liminy Snicket. We met the Bentons for a Latin dinner. I had to do some Sanibel laps to improve upon my 3K steps. This cold makes everyone sleepy!
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!