I asked for cold weather and it came! Wow! It's cold! It actually almost snowed here last week. Maybe it did and we just didn't see it. Now it's teetering above freezing but the sky is bright, no rain. The day after the Ritz we spent the day inside, doing laundry, unpacking and re-packing. Phil and I went to John Benton's dad's funeral. I had never been to the Jacksonville National Cemetery but it was really nice and incredibly cold. We had lunch after at Kickbacks, his dad's favorite hang out. Wednesday the city pretty much shut down due to the cold and possible snow. We did a green light play date at the Pratts, then hit up the dentist. We switched dentists. Voss had his first appointment! Right from there, I drove to Miami with the kids to visit Phil's family. As I drove down I95, I watched the temperature gauge in my car go up each exit I passed! Using my overdrive app I listened to the Nest, which was awesome for the drive. It was a pretty good trip. We went to the Coral Castle on Thursday. It was actually pretty cold in Miami, too! The castle was not very kid friendly. The tour guide told me to watch my children at some point. Eventually I took Voss and Abby out to a nearby field. After we went to Knausberry Farm to pick strawberries and eat yummy cinnamon rolls and milkshakes. That made the day much better! I took a nap with Voss then later the kids and Phil's sister, Vane and I went to the park down the street with the kids. Michelle and Tati came for dinner. We even did some Latin dancing after dinner. Friday had a rough start with spilled hot chocolate and guys coming early to fix some hurricane damaged doors. It got better with a visit to the train museum. We were bummed some parts were closed and we want to go back for a train ride, but we loved walking in all the trains. I went on an afternoon run by myself. Phil's cousins from Ecuador came in that night on a layover back home. It was so fun catching up with them! Saturday we packed up and said out good-byes and drove back to Jax- watching the temp drop as we drove! We picked up Phil and headed to BINGO night at TCC. We got 2 bottles of wine and Marly won a engineer set. It was fun! Dry-anuary is going well for me- Phil has already given up. This morning we went to mass then TCC for breakfast. The kids and I took down most of our Christmas ornaments. We went back to TCC and had a little party inside to watch the Jags beat the Bills in the playoffs! Yay! The Hershorins came back to our house for a pizza dinner. Sunday Funday!
Happy New Year! The week after Christmas is always so hard. It's sad watching everyone leave to go home. The kids are out of school and out of whack. I was about to loose it this week. After a few days in a row of Phil hunting with my family and playing golf with my brother, I checked out. Just in time. I had coffee club at the park Wednesday morning while Katie took Ellie for a morning together. Friend therapy is always so good! We did a late night at Lillians with my brother and sister. Everyone left on Thursday. Phil was so sweet and took the kids to Jump Street while I went to get a massage. It was one of the nicest things he's ever done for me! I truly needed a day off! He even took them to lunch and the mall afterwards. I watched Netflix and ate ice cream on the couch! That night we went to the Hollands for dinner. It was so nice to catch up with them! I ran Friday morning then took the kids back to the Hollands for a play date. It was chilly and rainy- an awesome coffee date! That night we went to the Livingstons for a front yard snow party. They actually brought a snow blower in to make snow! After a few snowballs in the face, my kids were done with the snow. We headed to the Hershorins for a holiday party. Always an excellent spread! The next morning began our New Years vacation! Phil won 2 nights at the Ritz Carlton a few months ago. We were able to use it for this weekend and that gave us the chance to go to their NYE ball! We headed up to Amelia Island first thing on Saturday for an early check in. The Ritz is surprisingly super kid friendly with face painting, game rooms, balloon animals, pirate parties, the beach and the heated pools! We had such a nice weekend! Phil and I even got a few date nights out- appetizers at Salt and then the ball last night. We even had time to relax with movie nights together, mass in downtown Fernandina in time for the feast of the holy family. Today is cold and rainy. We spent the morning in the hot tub and the afternoon snuggled watching movies. It was an awesome way to kick off 2018!
And all of a sudden, it's the day after Christmas! Poof! Monday was a quiet day with no plans so I decided to offer help to a friend who seemed overwhelmed. Helping makes me feel better. I picked up her girls and had a play date for Voss and Abby that morning. It worked out great. No after school activities so it was so nice to not have places to rush to or even homework to push. Voss and I had a little play date with his friendemey, Parker. Then, we went to MOSH to see the train exhibit. He loved it- even though the museum was crazy busy with field trips. Abigail had her Christmas play at school. She did a great job as a STAR. I picked up McDonalds treats for Voss and I (Mmmm peppermint mocha!) then went to the girl's school for their class parties and watching Polar Express. Afternoon play ground and kids night at TCC. My brother, Erik and his girlfriend Kelley came in town. I had big plans to haze and grill Kelley. Other than not liking shrimp, I really had nothing to make fun of her for unfortunately. I enjoyed talking with her; she fit along quite nicely into the Voss-chaos. Marly adores her! Suzanne and I met them out to watch them perform Improv. We had a few drinks later- a great way to kick off the family fun! Thursday we did a girls run after dropping Abby off at school. We played at the park then did a boat ride to FYC for lunch. We raced Ellie to golf then back to my parent's for a steak dinner and welcome Matt home. Friday morning we all went caroling at the nursing home, one of my favorite traditions! We had a great turn out this year! We did a park play date after. Phil took the girls bowling. Voss and I rode bikes to visit with my parents and ended up on another boat ride. The weather has been really warm, which is great for outdoor play- but kina bums me out at Christmas. That night we went to a neighbor's open house then to an ugly sweater party at the McGraths. Saturday was a lazy morning with a big breakfast then a Target run with the girls and a run to my parents with me and Voss. The guys went hunting. I made a gingerbread. We just sorta hung out. That evening we went to the Napoleon's open house then met my family at the zoo for the Zoo Lights. It was a great idea, but way too crowded as usual. Maybe we'll go back in 10 years when the kids are older and can stay up later. We were saved after bedtime with Peppermint bark ice cream. pizza and a White Christmas! I'm loving this Barenaked Ladies Christmas radio on Pandora. I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday- but my children's fighting and entitled attitude is about to push me over the edge. I must be doing something wrong. I truly thought about giving them goose poop. Has anyone ever done that for real? Did it work? Well instead Christmas magic happened with some blood, sweat and tears! The pictures make it look so golden and happy- but please know there was some nastiness involved- me yelling at my kids and my #5thchild. We did mass 2 times on Christmas Eve. Once in the morning with the Applegates then bfast at TCC. Then, we did the whole Voss family Christmas with all my siblings. Katie and Steve flew in that morning. It turned into a great day. We all went to mass that evening. My dad read. The insense about did me in. We got Chinese food and drove around to see lights. I almost threw out 2 kids from the car. We had dinner and I read The Night Before Christmas- stopped to scream only a few times. They all went to sleep early, including the #5thchild. I wanted to join in (oh my that insense- God really was permeating!) Woooosh- the magic! Nightcap with Miss Katie while watching the beautiful scene of Santa's presence. Christmas morning started at 7, which isn't so bad at all! It was fun and load and chaotic. Having Katie and Steve here was neat. I made the crack potatoes. Phil made eggs and bacon. They were great at playing with the kids. We said good-bye to Erik and Kelley as they headed to the airport to see her family. We made our way to my parent's house. Bloody Mary's and raw oysters! Suzanne got the boys back from Jason after 2 weeks. She welcomed them home with a new puppy, Blizzard! All the kids had a ball with him! We ended the night coming back over for mich ultras and It's a Wonderful Life. I mean it really is: the good and the bad! Today Phil is playing golf. I've thrown all the kids out of the house bc I need a parenting break. I am drinking a diet dr. Pepper and blogging therapy! I did get to go on a quick run this morning, which was nice. In a bit we'll go back over to my parent's house for a cousin visit with Natalie and the Hickses!
Christmas season is in full swing with parties, sweets, gift buying and monogramming (for me). We had a great MOPS meeting on Monday. Here's the recap. That night we had our book club dinner at the new restaurant, Barrique. We did an ornament exchange and dessert at Biscotti's. We decided the best book of 2017 was The Nightingale. It was a good night! Tuesday we did carwash and story time. It was the most calm day of this week! Wednesday was crazy! We had a Favorite Things Gift exchange at Meghan's. I had trouble coming up with a favorite thing. I ended up doing pashminas including monogramming. It was a nice brunch with friends. Voss tore apart the play room. It was early release then dance then the girls went to religion class. Phil and I took the little kids to the Penance service. We all had dinner at TCC after for kids night. I completely forgot to bring dinner to a friend who just had a baby! So I brought it to them a day late. That was a first for me- I felt like a schmuck! Thursday Voss and I played at the train park then picked up race packets for the Ameris Bank half marathon for me, 5K for Phil and marathon for his work friend. That began the week of Ameris! We had a bank dinner that night on the rooftop of Blacksheep. It's always so nice! We ended up progressing to the rooftop of Hoptinger after that, then dancing at Birdies! Friday was the MOPS breakfast with Santa. We switched it up this year and combined it with the art, music and movement class at the Riverside Christian church. I think it worked really well. It warmed up this week and was so nice outside for Santa. There was also the playground. Way better than being crammed in a room that wasn't very kid-friendly! I love this MOPS family- how we all help each other- holding each other's kids. Kim even stitched up Finley's face on the playground after a nasty fall! What a village! That afternoon we had dinner with some more bank friends. The guys played golf then the ladies did happy hour then we all sat down for dinner. I had a great political and religious conversation with one of Phil's bank pals. Saturday morning was the race. Luckily we went to bed early and I hydrated all day Friday so I felt great. It was a chilly, overcast morning. Perfect! We even parked in my friend, April's driveway. I had only peaked at 8 miles, but I think I did pretty well. It was a flat, boring course. I'm so happy it's over! I took a quick shower and took Voss to his friendemy, Parker's dinosaur Birthday party. Emily did a great job with the theme! We got a 2 hour break then we headed out to the Harmon's luau Christmas party. Of course their parties are always super nice! Passed apps, catered by Biscotti's. Signature mai tais, Hawaiian dancers, awesome fire pit. I could have fallen asleep out there! We got a ride with the Thivierges to the MOPS party at the Kasper's- a last hurrah! We met the Bentons at the awful waffle to cap off the night. This morning was mass and TCC breakfast with the Hershorins. My mom, sister, daughters and I went to the symphony's Nutcracker. The symphony was a first for us this time. We did lunch at Juliet's first and caught up. It was nice. Then tonight we started at the Hershorins for the Avondale luminaries. We walked to see the live nativity scene and Santa then joined a progressive dinner with the Wagners for chili and ended at the Cummings for dessert. It was such a fun night, it was a good weekend, heck it was a good week! Hopefully we'll have a bit of down time before Christmas?
This is the first time in a while where I did not plan a Birthday party for myself. It ended up being okay. My friend Aubree offered to host a scavenger hunt party for me; but we just couldn't find a date that worked. Then it occurred to me that I didn't need to do anything. Instead of making more work, just enjoy all the parties I was invited to! On Monday I watched the Applegate children, including my Godson, Huck. That evening, my pal Amy picked me up and we did a MOPS girls night out to see the movie, Bad Moms Christmas. It was a pretty horrible movie. They all seemed to like it; but I thought it was awful. However, I enjoyed the gal pal time at TGIFs before and after the movie! Tuesday was my Birthday. I'm now 38! I had a conference with Marly's teacher to kick off the day. All is well. My friend, Laurie took Voss for me for the morning. I went to Kim Skinner's house with my friend, April for a holiday brunch and hear her speak, complete with a lamb walking around the house in a diaper! My friend, Aubree made me an amazing s'more cake! Kim brought me a cupcake and champagne at pick-up. That night was the Holiday Open House at Timuquana. It was nice of TCC to host a party for me ;-) Wednesday we had a MOPS Leadership meeting then I went to Stephanie's house to help stuff luminary bags for a school fundraiser. Poinsettias, Steph's Caesar salad and lots of mom convos! TCC did a gingerbread house party in the afternoon. The younger two were running laps through the club high on sugar! It worked out great between the girl's activities- dance and golf and then religion class. We ended up staying for dinner. Thursday my friend, Trexler watched Voss for me while my parents took me to lunch at the Wine Cellar. It was a cold, rainy day- beginning to feel like Christmas! My mom got me all this new make-up! I'm excited to try it out! Phil took Ellie to basketball so it was super nice to have the evening off. Friday I got up early and ran. It was probably the only 2 hours of the day that it wasn't raining! We went to mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Cry room baby! It was a great day for a white mocha at the Trinity indoor playground. I spent the afternoon getting ready for my neighborhood party. The Progressive dinner ended up not progressing- just staying at my house. I made a bunch of turkey stroganoff. It only lasted a few hours, but it was a pretty stressful party. Saturday morning we got up and went to Ellie's basketball game then to TCC for breakfast with Santa. I'm so proud of my coordinating plaid outfits! I made a dress for Abby, skirt and hairband for Marly, shorts for Voss, bowtie for Phil, scarf for myself and then I spruced up one of Ellie's dresses. I think it all turned out so well! TCC always does so well with the breakfast. It was a great party! Phil had the festive idea to go see a family movie- another cold, wet day! So we saw Coco. It was a great movie for our first family movie! We played monopoly and went on a family bike ride. It was a great day! That night the Applegates picked us up and we went to the CEE Christmas party. That sangria! Wow! We went to the Kuder's for a nightcap- petting their sweet dog, drinking wine by the fire was an awesome way to close out my Birthday week! This morning we did mass then breakfast. I'm loving this cold weather! Tag on the lawn. Chores then Tracy's Birthday party with a PH, cake & ice cream and pepperoni rolls! My mom, daughters and I went to a Christmas concert by a local chorus, the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit!
This week has been a slow scramble. I just can't get it together. My house is a wreck. It's taken all week to decorate for Christmas- and we started on Monday. I had this sweet vision of family decorating that was quickly destroyed by Marly opening Christmas gifts that had come in the mail and Ellie breaking a wine glass that I wasn't even using. There was lot of fighting and crying and screaming. Tacky Christmas Pandora blaring. Not what I was hoping for. So, I had to do it in pieces. I ran a lot this week. I watched a lot of Blacklist- trying to take a breather. We had MOPS on Monday. Bunny read from the Unplug the Christmas Machine book. It actually made me a bit more stressed! It reminded me of all the things I needed to do! I ordered more Christmas gifts online. I am working on sewing Christmas outfits for the family. We got 2 new ac units this week. The Irma damage is officially cleaned up! I'm still putting the guest room back together. Maybe next week I'll get a good before and after pic! The kids are all into the Christmas spirit. They do make it more fun! Voss and I went to the zoo. Abby, Voss and I went to open gymnastics and the train park. We did first Friday this weekend and met some new friends. Phil played in a tennis tournament. I single mom'd it to Ellie's first basketball game. They lost but she played so well! We went to Christmas in Avondale then wine club last night. Tonight we had the first mass of Advent in the refurbished church. It was great to get back in there! I got a massage from a gift certificate my brother gave me last Christmas. It was wonderful! We watched the Jags game at TCC (they won!) then went to Mellow for dinner. Ready for another party week!
Tuesday we had our last day of school. Phil played golf. I went to the dentist to get a cavity filled. Abby and Voss went to play with the Cutlips. We got all packed up. Wednesday morning we got up and headed out to Blue Ridge, Georgia. My parents rented cabins. We stayed with Suzanne and the boys. Katie and Steve drove in from DC/VA. Aunt Susan, Bill and her friend Candy came in from Atlanta. Candy made this amazing lasagna for us that first night. Aunt Susan made a scallop appetizer. We played charades. The first night is always so fun getting together! Thanksgiving morning, Phil made breakfast. We had a lazy morning watching the Macy's Day parade. Mom and Dad got a take out Thanksgiving lunch from a local restaurant. It was a beautiful day in the mountains! Aunt Susan brought all these fun toys/books for the kids to play with. Steve played the guitar that night around the fire pit with s'mores. We watched Fried Green Tomatoes. The big kids got to stay up and watch Descendents. It was a great day! Friday morning the guys got up and played golf. Suzanne and I took the kids into town, which was a bit of a cluster. Everyone was moody and we got the date wrong for the parade. We decided to hit up the orchard instead. The day got better when Voss took a nap, Suzanne took all the kids by the river and I drank a beer on the balcony and did some Black Friday shopping online. Steve made us crabcakes for dinner that night. We watched Love Actually and Phil took the kids back to our cabin. Saturday we did putt putt and then sifted dirt for gems. It was super hoaky, but the kids loved it! We did this quick waterfall hike on the Appalachian trail. I thought that was super neat. We dropped all the kids off at Aunt Susan's cabin. She did this super sweet cookie tree decorating with them! The rest of us went for a kid-free lunch in town. Then, Suzanne, Phil and I checked out a winery. That was super neat! We hosted chili that night for dinner. Katie and Steve drove back to get a head start on the drive. Family can be crazy and frustrating...but we really have so much to be thankful for! Check out this awesome video I just made- here. This morning we packed up and headed out. Now we are on the hellish drive home! Ugh!
This week, I took a much needed break from my normal routine. I gathered a few friends and went to Orlando to see Enrique and PitBull. It was awesome! We got a hotel and got ready- which might be the best part! Tracy did nails, Jessica did make-up, Jacy got the room, I poured the wine! We went to a tapas dinner downtown then walked to the arena. We danced until midnight- literally! PitBulls dancers were a bit much for me, but we had a great time! We slept in a bit, got breakfast and headed back to Jax by lunch. So many people helped me to make this happen- with the kids. Phil is still making me pay for it. But, I really needed a break. #worthit! The next few days I came down with a nasty head cold. It forced me to go to bed early, which is what I really needed. Voss (and sometimes Abby) still wake up every night but going to bed when they do allows me to get in more hours. I also really appreciate the ability to take real cold medicine now that I'm not nursing or pregnant. Monday was a MOPS Monday, with the recap here. That encouraged me to have "the talk" with Ellie this weekend. We went on a 2 mile walk together and I think it was really good. My Ellie Belly is growing up! Thursday was a marathon day. When I finally got in bed I was so proud of myself for making it the whole day. The girls had Thanksgiving lunch at school. The thing is, Ellie has lunch at 11 and Marly has lunch at 1. So, I stayed the whole day chasing Voss around the school. We even went back after dance and golf to see the science fair projects. We went to a quick TF dinner then took Ellie to her first basketball practice. The other kids and I went to the library- which turned out to be a great deal! Friday Kim hosted us for a morning backyard play date. The littles and I took the van in for an oil change. That night we went to the OPS Married People Night Out. It was just what we needed that night! Phil and I had a date at Bread & Board then did the ministry gathering. The theme was support. We talked about "back up singers" in our marriage. Who supports us. It was a great way to think about it. Saturday Phil took Abby to a Birthday party. I took the other kids to play with the Newtons at the park. That night we went to the Kuders for a dinner party. They were so hospitable- it was a great night! Sunday was mass and breakfast then a Birthday party in SSI. A bit far for a party! I stayed up reading the Handmaid's Tale for book club last night. It turned out to be a good one, but it took me a while to get into it. Elizabeth hosted an amazing meeting last night- complete with a 4 course meal! I hosted a manatee play date that morning and was totally wiped out. I don't know what it was. Normally I can handle a crazy play date, but that nearly did me in. I pushed the party further by doing a double header last night. After book club, I went to the MOPS girls night at Tiffany's. Right down the street so it was a late night cap. I'm just waiting to crash now. But another #worthit for those awesome conversations and connections with my gal pals!
I'm really enjoying this phase of life where Voss takes an early nap and the girls are at school. I get a break! Of course I should be doing useful things like chores, phone calls, cleaning or at least some yoga but all week long I am so obsessed with this show, Black List and I eat Halloween candy. It's been great! Monday was a MOPS leadership meeting, Tuesday was a play date at April Rice's. It was so nice to catch up with her! Wednesday we had a lip stick play date then lunch at Lola's. That night Phil and I got to go to the Florida Forum. We saw Tom Brokaw! It was so neat to hear him speak! Thursday was coffee club at April Norris's to discuss Gender Equality in the Classroom and Boardroom. It was a small group but I think we had a great discussion! The afternoons are crazy with dance and golf, but fun at the parks! Thursday, Abigail's school did a family fun night with a science lab theme that was pretty cute. The girls didn't have school on Friday (thank you to our VETERANS!) so we went to the zoo. Another gorgeous day! We went to the Rattigans for lunch after. Lots of time to run around. That afternoon I packed up and headed out. I dropped the kids at my parents for the weekend. Phil and I headed to Marywood for an Engaged Encounter weekend. Perfect time for tweaking our marriage, right before the holidays when things get super stressful and out of whack! It's always tough to get down there, but once we do, it's so nice! I think I had the best sleep I've had in a long time! In reading our talks to the couples we are reminded of what we should be doing and how we should be living. We had 2 masses in 2 days and I even got in a confession with my favorite, Fr. Tim. Only 8 couples but such a nice weekend! I even got a jump start on Christmas cards! Today was low key, unpacking. Ellie finished her science project- yay! Marly and I played monopoly. Ellie and Phil played a little golf. Voss and Abby played in the dirt at TCC where we sat outside for a nice dinner and watched the Jags win! This November weather is making me smile!
We started the week with a MOPS Halloween party! We did a costume parade at the nursing home then party at the park. I did "take over Tuesday" for the MOPS Instagram page. It was more exhausting than I thought! It was fun, though! Halloween was Tuesday. Abigail had a costume parade at school. Voss wore a semi-costume for story time Halloween fun. I was stressed that evening. Getting the kids ready, we ran late, it took longer for our street- touring all the Hurricane damage, pictures with neighbors, a canceled babysitter for the weekend, my parent's house, then to the forest. We did a hayride, chilli at the Nixons. It was a great, chilly night! The day after was a sugar coma. We had a nice dinner at TCC for kids night then the big girls and I went to mass for All Saints Day. Thursday, Voss and I rode the train at the zoo. The cooler weather was really nice. Friday we went to the air show. It was a gorgeous day! Long gone is the cool weather, but the sky was clear and it was neat to get close to the planes and helicopters. We didn't stay long, though. We watched the Blue Angels from the front yard after school. So awesome! We visited with the Kuklas then went to a spaghetti dinner then came home in time for the babysitter. We picked up the Hollands and headed to Gourmet on the Green, a super fun wine tasting on the golf course. Gorgeous night! Ended at Lillians, of course. Saturday the kids and I ran in the Purple Stride 5K to support Tracy's dad's "Guy's Gang". I'm so proud of the kids! They ran so well! The after party was super fun, too with face painting, balloon artists, snow cones and a slide! Phil played golf. We met up with him after and watched the Blue Angels at TCC. We came home in time for another babysitter and ubered with the Kuders to the Cowford Ball. Super fun, western event! After party at the Creels with pepperoni rolls! Saved by day light savings! Mass and breakfast with the Masseys after a marathon weekend! Today was more relaxing. Laundry, science project and Blue Angels by boat. Another gorgeous day!