April Fools day, Ellie turned 10! Wow! Ten years old! I can believe it, though. It really feels like I've been parenting for 10 years. She is really a responsible and helpful girl. I'm so proud of her! We had Krispy Kreme for breakfast as part of the Birthday tradition. Voss and I sorta bummed around and took Spot for a walk and watched the neighborhood construction. We picked up CFA for lunch (with veggies from home) then hotdogs for dinner. After bedtime, Phil, Ellie and I went to Sonic for Birthday milkshakes. She loves that kind of attention. I ran, donated blood and met with Fr. Jose on Tuesday about starting the new MOPS group. Things are moving and shaking now! I officially started the group, set up a Facebook page, email and blog. I'm just waiting on St. Matts to see if we can do online payment for registration. Aside from eating a lot of junk this week with Birthday festivities, I did do some healthy things. I made a vegetable soup with panini for dinner one night. It was a huge hit and then I had great healthy lunch leftovers. Ellie brought in a class treat for her Birthday and she and Marly had their annual check up. Everyone is happy and healthy. Phil took the girls to the Penance Service. I brought Voss and Spot home and finished a great book this week, The Hate U Give. We are going to have a lot to talk about at book club. I'm happy to have finally read a good book! Thursday I went walking with Lauren to talk about my PTA involvement for next year. Friday morning Matt came by for a visit. He was in town for an eye appointment. I went running with Spot. Marly went to Brooklyn's Birthday party at Disney on Ice. Ellie had friends over for her own sleepover Birthday party. Phil took them tubing on the boat (I think that was the highlight). Pizza and ice cream cake then movie time. We rented Soul Surfer. There was some drama with Spot trying to eat baby geese, but the girls saved them and everything turned out okay. It was a late night. I fell asleep at midnight but I think they kept going. Things started bright and early Saturday morning. Honey buns and grapes for the kids then Phil and I had a real breakfast later. All the girls were picked up pretty early. My mom took Ellie on a Birthday shopping spree. We did yard work then took the kids tubing. Later we went to Disney on Ice. Phil and I got Chinese Food and watched SNL. Sunday we went to mass then breakfast with a fun crowd. We invited ourselves with the Smith to a Sunday Funday at FYC. It feels like summer just about! McDs and a family rosary then I went to a quick dance practice. A fun party week for sure!
Phil and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary! I wonder if this is also the 15th anniversary of bravofam.com. I'll have to double check the history. We didn't do too much on our actual anniversary (March 27th). It was smack in the middle of a busy week. The girls had religion class so Phil, Voss and I went out for sushi. Something we do sometimes anyway. It was actually perfect. It's also nice that Phil and I are getting along and doing well. That hasn't always been the case when an anniversary rolls around. But, it makes it more special when we can happily reminisce and discuss our marriage. We watched our wedding DVD, which I finally found at my parent's house and put on youtube (see the videos page). I watched our engagement party and showers. It doesn't seem like much has changed with Phil and I. My parents watched the kids (with some help from my sister, Suzanne) and Phil and I spent the weekend eating and drinking and exploring Charleston. We got a last minute hotel deal and lucked out with this amazing room facing the beach and the bay looking into Charleston (from Mt. Pleasant). We got another last minute dinner reservation for 82 Queen on the way in. We were so tired, there were no late nights. It seems like Charleston is a brunch town so we were the first ones up and ready waiting for breakfast places to open, which means we didn't have to wait. We rode a horse drawn carriage around town for a tour. Hopped in on a garden tour then a whiskey tour. So relaxing and fun. The pollen bothered Phil a bunch. I made friends in the hot tub with my red wine. It was a great trip. We got up and headed back Sunday morning. We also lucked out with one of Phil's friends staying at our house to watch Spot while we were gone. I needed a break from that guy. He's a good dog but I'm getting used to having to worry about him, too. He follows me around with those stinky toots! No problem getting in my steps! Oh and I had 2 fun girls nights that set me back for the rest of the week. I went to Claire's baby sprinkle then met up with the late night book club pals for a recap. Then on Tuesday I went to this Vibe 1 hip hop dance class that kicked my booty! We're still practicing! Always a party around here!
It was a tough week assimilating back to reality. Running was hard, eating healthy was hard, it was cold- especially in the morning. The kids were not excited about school. Village Dance was closed for spring break as was religion class. Marly had a retreat for her First Communion. That was a neat thing for the two of us to go, too. She got to taste the bread and wine and learn what happens on the altar. I got to sneak out for a fun girls night on Monday, right in the hood. Mrs. Mann's house is the perfect evening oasis! I even walked there and back. We got to go to TCC for dinner on Wednesday. We had a big crew with us; the Bentons, some Smiths and the Shads have joined now, too! Two exciting things happened this week, that made us snap out of it. First, my baby sister had a baby! I coached Katie on drinking castor oil on Tuesday and on Wednesday her water broke and she went into labor! Henry Dane was born on March 19th around noon and a little over 6 lbs! It's so awesome seeing my sister as a mom! I can't wait to meet him. They are doing great! On Friday we got picked up by boat by the Smiths and went to TCC for a girls night and guys night. Lots of fun! On Saturday we had a laid back morning. Phil had an allergic reaction to an avocado. We went to Abigail Cutlip's Birthday party at the indoor playground. After we headed to the city animal shelter. We ended up adopting a little brother! Meet Spot, our new 6 month old dog! We finally did it! The kids are ecstatic! So far, he's a pretty good dog. He seems well mannered and potty trained. I'll keep you posted! This morning we went to mass and breakfast then played with Spot. We had another Birthday party at Trinity. This time our neighbor, Zachary. We were the only kids there other than him! More fun and sugar! We did an afternoon boat ride and visited the Nixons and Mimi and Papa. Then home for a fish dinner and family rosary. Lots of happy sleepers tonight!
Wow! What a trip! We got up early on Sunday morning. My super nice brother, Matt drove us to the airport at 5:30am (and of course daylight savings happened that morning). We took a flight from Jax to Ft. Lauderdale. I took advantage of one of those Southwest "Let's Fly Away" deals. I counted this as Abby and Voss's Birthday gift, too. The first family flight! It was easy peasy. We got right on, took up a whole row across and off we went. It was a quick 45min flight. Ellie and Marly got to watch the sunrise. Voss stared out the window the whole time. Abby played with her sticker book. A few complaints from Voss about his ears, but by then it was time to descend. We landed and I went to get my checked luggage (everyone else did carry ons but someone had to pack all the sunscreen!) We waited and waited and my suitcase never appeared. Turns out they took it off before we even arrived. Not sure what happened there. The only other snafu was that our uber driver refused to pick us up because we didn't have carseats. We ended up getting a taxi the whopping 5 minute drive to the port and we were good to go. Check in was quick but the ship had delays in boarding. So, we and maybe 200 other people had to sit real close together and wait to board. It was hairy. I made friends with some Canadians that we then saw throughout the trip. We finally got on and then it was great. We had lunch and got to try out the water slides and boogie boarding before the lines got too long. It was like we had a whole extra day! My brother and parents arrived and we caught up with the Hershorins. Let the party begin! My brother, Matt came with us to dinner the first night. We had the early seating and my parents had the late seating. The service was so slow. That might be my only complaint. Everyone was so nice but it just took forever. We went to the welcome aboard show and then the kids went to bed. We met up with my parents in the piano bar. Matt and Phil could only take so much but my parents and I sang away. I can't believe my mom know the words to Baby got Back! The following day was a day at sea. We started WAY too early! We had to wait for the grab and go dining to open and then were the first ones in the hot tub (until the pool opened). We got to see another sunrise. Adventure Ocean (kid camp) to the rescue! We ran some laps until I saw a random cardio dance happening at the pool deck. I jumped in while Matt and Phil hit the gym. We met up after to try the rock climbing wall. More breakfast then time to get the kids for lunch. Ha! Marly stormed out of lunch. We had Ellie bring her burger to the room. Then we lost them for the next hour. Guest services ended up finding Phil and he had an embarrassing conversation. Behavior was better after that! Phil, Brian and Matt did a quick 3 on 3 basketball tournament. Too bad they were up against a pro! We did a family dinner that night for formal night. Too bad it was still so slow. We met my brother and parents for the captains toast. We put the younger 3 down then Ellie and I went to see a dancing show. I was so tired! I had to crash. Phil and my brother kept going. The following day came bright and early for the tendor to Grand Cayman. From there we got on a shuttle ride to a dock then took a boat to stingray sandbar. They threw out squid and the stingrays came up. I even kissed one! It was so amazing. The water was beautiful. The kids were nervous at first but eventually got the hang of it. We took the boat back then the shuttle to Panama Jack's for lunch and beach time. Then, back to the ship. We got icecream and went swimming then got in line for ice skating. Abby hung out with my parents. She wasn't up for it. We did an adult dinner while the kids headed to Adventure Ocean. Wednesday was more adult time- dance class, ping pong tournament (Matt was 3rd and Phil was 2nd!) Then we headed out to explore Costa Maya, Mexico. Phil got us a taxi and went to this private beach. I was very skeptical at first. After a massage on the beach (for $15) I felt much better. It was an amazing massage!!! We ate cerviche and drank Corona. Gorgeous! More ice cream at the pool. We all went to another show then I went to dinner with my parents. Late night bar hopping. That sky bar is my favorite! Thursday we were in Cozumel. We went to a water park beach. They had all these inflatables out in the ocean that you could swim to. The older girls loved this. We spent a lot of time out there! I was wiped out and swam back to check on Phil and the littles at the splash park/water slide. We were supposed to check in from the dock. It got close to time to go and I couldn't get there attention from the dock/they were ignoring me. I ended up having to swim out to get them and we almost missed the bus back to port. While we're swimming back a boat comes super close to the inflatables and starts yelling that there's a shark in the water! Woo! That was close. Luckily we made it back! It was another formal night. Phil and I had a date night. Matt went to bed early and I did, too soon after. Phil and my mom stayed out late with the Hershorins. The last day was at sea. We took it easy at the pool. Aubree made this amazing expresso milkshake. Phil and I spent lots of time people watching from the sky bar. Pizza dinner and Adventure Ocean for the kids. Ellie watched the final show with us then headed there, too. She made a Canadian friend. I made a cheese plate then we sat in the prominade with the Hershorins drinking (me wine and the guys tequila shots!) Late night for the last night! Saturday morning came quick. Getting off the ship and through customs was easy then getting a rental car was good to go. We drove back to Jax and spent the afternoon unpacking and doing laundry. It was an early night. This morning was rough. Ellie got us all up in time for mass so she could serve. She even got to carry the cross. Phil spent the day at TPC. The Applegates came with us to breakfast. Back to reality! We just sorta bummed around all day on this soggy, rainy St. Patty's Day. It was nice! What an awesome spring break!
It was a full week! I was grumpy in the beginning then all of a sudden a last minute girls night totally changed the week for me. I really wanted to go to the P!nk concert. So many friends bailed/wouldn't commit. Tuesday was the MOPS fundraiser, Shrove Tuesday. I even volunteered for the early shift so I could sneak out. When I walked into the pancake dinner I was not going to the concert because I had no one to go with. By the time I left, I had a date and even a ride. It was awesome! My soul sister (this MOPS thing), Jolley and I had been trying to get together forever but our schedules just never aligned. She made the night happen. She picked me up, we scalped tickets and got amazing seats. Claire even scalped her own ticket and met us inside. It was such an awesome show! What a night! It's amazing how spontaneous fun can change your mood and energize you! I loved it! Wednesday was Ash Wednesday- the start of Lent. My pal, Tracy stamped me up for spring break. We did the fish fry at church then got some ashes. I'm listening to Matthew Kelly's Lent devotional as my thing for Lent. I know it's not much. I'll try to come up with something else as we get going. I just hate to go big right as we go into spring break. Thursday was Marly's Birthday. We continued our tradition of Krispy Kreme for breakfast. I brought CFA for dinner and we got Sonic milkshakes after dinner. She got lots of calls/texts and FB messages from family and friends. It was really sweet. Friday after school I picked up a van full of her friends and the party began. Marly picked out a bunch of old school party games- bobbing for apples, egg and spoon race, charades, balloon toss- lots of screaming girls, oh my! I was grateful my friend, Theresa ended up staying and helping. Pop ins from Mimi and Papa and Aunt Suzanne were great, too. Most of the girls were picked up after the movie around 9:30. A few spent the night. That part was actually calmer. I finished Where the Crawdaddies Sing and all the kids were asleep by 11. Pancakes with sprinkles for breakfast. The bacon was a huge hit! More bobbing for apples and outside play that morning. I was very happy when all the party people left. I made myself a bloody mary and began the laundry and packing for our spring break trip. The older girls and I went to confession then we all did 5:30 mass. Spring Break- Here we go!
As we slip into March, I find myself doing lots of must do's this week. Ellie has been fighting something this week, she just seemed off. She came home early from school with a slight fever on Monday. She got her spacers in this week, too. Hopefully she (and all of us can stay healthy). We had a stylist come to MOPS this week. Not sure I agree with it all (do I really need a black blazer) but it did make me re-think a few outfits and try harder. And I rocked a few things from my closet I hadn't worn in a while (cheetah pumps to book club and purple silk to a party). Book club was good Monday night discussing The Red Notebook (I read it on the way back from NC). We met at Whole Foods, which ended up being pretty neat. Tracy came over for a nightcap after. That made for a slow Tuesday. I had a dentist appointment and got FOUR cavities filled! How the heck did that happen?! I was miserable after! So sore! I was supposed to play tennis with my friend, Renee to prep for our weekend but she had an ER visit with her son. It was all I could do to deliver a meal to the Websters. I was a wreck. Wednesday was better. I took the car in for an oil change and check up and got a chance to play with Renee. Abby and Voss had their 4 and 6 year check ups. They are nice and healthy. Although, Voss could hardly move his leg that evening after getting his shots. We did a rainy night sushi date during religion class. Katherine and I had a nice catch up morning at the beach. It was a perfect morning out there, complete with a free mojito. That evening I went to Deerwood to kick off their member guest tournament with Renee. We hit around and had some dinner and drinks. I was nervous, but it worked out fine. Friday morning she was back in the ER with her son. So, the pro found someone for me to play with. That was pretty awkward but I made a new friend; Holly. I visited with my parents and brother that morning. Voss had a circus program at school. We raced back over to Deerwood for our first match. Holly and I did well, but lost in the tie breaker to these scary chicks. Luckily, Emily helped grab the kids for me from school. It was First Friday with a fun, yet rainy night out. The next morning was my tennis match. We won that won but the afternoon was rained out. It was nice to have a low key afternoon at home. That night was Aubree's surprise 40th Birthday. Brian did such a great job pulling it off. He even flew in her sister. Fun party catching up with lots of fun people! This morning I got up early to play again. This time the final match, with a quick win! Renee and family came to cheer us on in the end. I came home in time for a TCC omelet. Then we did a boat day today. I feel a little guilty about skipping Abby's tap spring recital. She didn't seem to notice. We went to Whiteys then TCC for dinner. It turned out to be a gorgeous day. Spring is here for sure!
Um, hello? Is this February? It's more like April! The weather is gorgeous...maybe even hot! This week I spent unpacking and re-assimilating. Family drama and some therapy and maybe we are back on track. Feeling some sibling unity. Lots of afternoons on the boat and this evening at the beach. It's hard to believe this time last week we were dealing with snow! It's been rainy but that doesn't slow us down. I watched RBG at my pal, April's house. Trying to save money so no grocery shopping- just waiting for the fridge to be cleaned out. A bit of running then the Ortega River Run this weekend. Why is it so hard on actual running day? Bloody Mary's at the Freemans after was nice and then an evening at the beer fest. This morning was Fox's Baptism. It was nice to catch up with the Applegates. I finished Matthew Kelly's Biggest Lie. I'm excited to pass it along to keep the conversation going. And is it spring already? Was that it for winter?
Monday was the sex therapist meeting at MOPS. I was super bummed to leave early (although, sounds like I left at a good time). Ellie had 2 teeth pulled. Those cavities finally caught up to us and she isn't in anymore pain. She had another one filled yesterday. One more appointment for spacers and we'll be good to go! The tooth fairy brought her an electric tooth brush so now she should be keeping it clean! That night I went to a dinner for my friend, Jessica's Birthday. Her mom hosted a dinner party for some of her friends. It was such a great night with amazing food and wonderful conversations! I truly filled my cup! I was supposed to play tennis with my friend, Renee on Tuesday. We even signed up for a tournament together. But her son was sick. So, I went paddleboarding instead. The weather was gorgeous. It was just me. It was nice. That evening Marly had a communion prep class. After, I met the TCC moms for a sushi Birthday dinner for Melanie and Allison. Wednesday, Voss and I brought Valentines to the nursing home with some MOPS friends. Emily hosted a sweet after party. Great conversations with new friends. I had a TCC membership meeting that night. Three nights out in a row! Valentines day was atypical. I spent the morning packing up. We rented a suburban, picked up the kids from school and drove to North Carolina for our first ever ski adventure! The only rough part of the ride was that there was no DVD player in the rental. I was not prepared for that. I think the kids were pretty good considering they spent more time than usual being bored. I drove the last bit in to our cabin. It was in a town called Vilas and pretty easy to get to. My brother, Matt arrived soon after we got the kids settled in bed. The Smiths arrived after that. We kicked it off with a late night welcoming everyone in. Friday morning, we got up with my breakfast casserole and headed to Beech mountain. For the kids Christmas gift, we gave them ski school. Talk about a win-win! It was an all day thing, including lunch. Marly and Ellie were ready for a green by the time we left. It was awesome! I think Voss and Abby were ready to go back to the cabin- but they enjoyed playing in the snow in the end. We were all wiped by the time we came back. I had a turkey stroganoff in the crock pot for dinner. Perfect! The kids went in the hot tub while I did the last touches and we had a great dinner. The next morning was relaxing with a lazy morning. Matt made eggs ranchero and sausage. More hot tub time. We found a tubing place, drove up to Hawks nest to find it sold out, then drove to Sugar mountain and got tickets just in time. Tubing was so fun! We met the Smiths for a BBQ lunch then tried to go back to Sugar (bad idea) but childcare was already sold out for Sunday. After a frustrating hour, we finally secured and made a plan to hit Appalachian mountain the following day. We stopped by a place to rent our ski gear. Matt's Mississippi mudroast was amazing for dinner. We were all ready for bed! Sunday morning we got up early to make it to Appalachian on time. Marly, Matt and Phil made bacon and pancakes and we headed out. It was raining and cold and the outlook was not good. The Smiths stayed back and weren't feeling well. Phil took Voss to the childcare and I checked Abby into ski school. Matt got the older girls set up and we headed out. It was wet and icy at first. Matt stuck with Marly and I stuck with Ellie while Phil tried to figure things out. We took a break and sat by the fire to warm up and dry out. Hot chocolate and protein bars and we were back to normal. The afternoon was much better. The layer of ice was mostly gone, everyone cheered up. Abby even had fun, too. It turned out to be a great day! The younger two played in the snow while we went on one last run. The only bummer is that my helmet got swapped and now we're being charged for it. I'm hoping it turns up. Claire made Cincinnati chili for dinner. More hot tub time and heads up game night. We packed up and headed out early, early Monday morning, The rental had to be back by 2! The good news is that we had plenty of time that night to unpack and re-organize for the school week. What a great winter break! I'm so appreciative of my brother, Matt who helped so much with the kids. They love spending time with him. He was an awesome ski instructor, mountain driver and little brother. Phil did so well with uncharted territory! I think we'll be ready to head back up next year!
Right after I talked about the cold and darkness, it turned into a beautiful week. We wore shorts like a spring day. Ha! It was warm for a run and I was tapering so I did 2 short runs. We had a marriage challenge at MOPS. It was really good for Phil and I. Dares, shares, and had me going through and posting all our wedding videos. So neat to look back at all of those! I Kon-Mari-ed all my nooks looking for the DVD the videographer made but can't find it! Now I'm tempted to make another one. Phil and I visited with our new therapy pal, Al for a marriage tune up. The rules for fighting are back on our fridge. And we did a CEE weekend. Those are always good for re-kindling our love. Perfect timing for us! We got to stay in the big house which is like a B&B. It was so nice! Marywood is really looking good with all their improvements. We had a huge group- 19 couples! And quite the dream team! I dipped out to run the breast cancer half marathon this morning. Dude, it was rough. I thought I was more prepared, but I was dieing. I ran it in 2:40, which is my norm I think. Maybe it was the slow podcast I was listening to (Oprah's New Earth series) or running through neighborhoods for most of the race. I'm not sure, but I'm wiped out this evening. Hopefully a good night of sleep will bring me back to normal. Emily had the kids all weekend and did a great job keeping them busy. Major shout out to my friend Chrissy who came all the way to my house to get my FitBit charger I left! Ellie had lots of friend time. She had 2 championship basketball games this week. Phil brought her to one and the Snowden family to another. That was a good season, but I know she's ready for it to be over. Marly had her First Reconciliation on Tuesday. Phil and I went to her ceremony and took her our for a special dinner at Biscotti's. I'm so proud of all that hard work she's done to prepare for her 2nd Sacrament! Admitting sins is a tough one! Ellie and I got a date the following night at WEE Trade. She was so excited to pick out lots of outfits and even some bathing suits. Milkshakes for the ride home! I got to do some fun things, too- bloodies and tennis with some old and new friends and a MOPS girls night at Black Sheep. I spent one whole morning organizing all of my sewing and crafting supplies. That feels great! Oh! And our boat was delivered this week! We've gotten to take it out for a few spins. I need to beef up our bumper system on the dock! It was a good week! Ready for Valentine's week!
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.