Wednesday, November 27, 2013 celebrate Abbey's special day

...celebrating six splendid years!

Her last morning as a five-year-old was fantastic!  Mimi made her chocolate chip pancakes and sausage.   Clearly, I should have slapped a filter on this photo for prosperities sake!

But I'm keepin' it real folks...besides this post is about Abbey and not how I look first thing in the morning.

I just adore this sweet spirited little girl.

Her blue eyes sparkle...

just like her personality.

We had a great day surrounded by family and filled with lots of fun.

We started with our morning at the bounce house place...

Which was so much fun for everyone!

 At least for most of the time we were there...

so beautifully pitiful.
Look at my happy crew!

In the afternoon we got to see Frozen.  What a great movie!  

Finally, Abigail got to open her presents.  

This was fun for everyone too!

silly girl.
LOVING his fedora.
sweet girl.
birthday girl!
 Happy Birthday, to our sweet, kind-spirited, bright, and happy six-year-old girl.

We love you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 enjoy my time with

...with our family.

The kids and I have made a trip down to Midlothian, VA to spend some time with family over the holidays.

These past four weeks (since Mark left) have been a mix of craze and crazier with little sense of routine.  The time has left me frazzled and feeling as if there is so much to do and less time to do it.  And even I was doing so much, all the time, but it seems as if I am doing nothing well.

Consequently, the introvert in me wanted to curl up and let this first holiday without Mark pass with little fanfare, lots of rest, a bit of self-pity, and plenty of downtime.  While this scenario sounds quite peaceful to me, I thought it would be a bit too quiet and lonely for the kids.

What a great decision.

The chaos has been good for my early winter blues.

It is so fun to watch the kids play together.  And sleep together...

All but Isabella and William were fast asleep after a morning at Barnes & Nobles.  My mom and I really knew how to tire them out I guess!  Or it could be that it was a crappy, cold, rainy morning and they have all been staying up way-too-late and getting up way-too-early?

Coloring, wrestling, dolls, games, chase, reading books...I love that all of them have so much fun being together.

Abbey can't stop carrying this little guy around...

Obviously he doesn't mind.

We have played many memory and Uno games with the little girls...

And nightly game time with Isabella and Will has been great 'big kid' fun for them too.  They have been allowed to stay up late with the us and we played a new game that Kyle & Taylor have called, Flippin' Out.  This quality time has provided plenty of laughs!

I haven't taken as many photos as I would like but we all are having so much fun.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 watch a few basketball games

...the first two of the season!

Isabella is playing basketball this season!  I may have coaxed prodded insisted she play but she has really put her whole heart into it.  I was so impressed by how hard she tried and by how much she has  already improved.

I think, if you asked her, Isabella is actually surprised at how much she is really enjoying playing and being on the team.

Having said that, for her the evening was rather disappointing.

I think I have mentioned before that she attends a very small school and the basketball teams they play around the area are a mix of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade girls.  There are only 25 total students in our school of these three combined can imagine that means we don't have a very large basketball team.  In fact, there are only seven girls on the team.

I wish I had the ability to describe eloquently the size difference (both in numbers and in physique) between our girls and the two teams we played.  Just to give you an idea...One of the girls on the other team was taller than Donnie (Amy's husband).  For real.

And the other teams more than double the number of girls we had.  Which of course makes it easier to substitute players...combat fatigue...give the other girls rest.

As for the games, they lost both of them.  The first game was a better match of skill between the two teams.  But we lost.  I believe the score was 4-8.

Isabella barely reaches this girl's shoulder.

On the drive home I was trying to talk to Isabella about the positive's of the evening....

In Isabella's words, "It's hard to be glad about the score of 48-6."

True.  True my sweet girl.  I can understand your point of view.  I really do.  You are right, it isn't fun to lose.  It isn't fun to be out-played.  In fact it stinks.

But what I wish you could see was that the adoring parents of each of you seven girls were so proud.  So very proud each time one of you were able to complete a pass,

when you made rebounds,

and when you girls continued to defend those 'other' girls time and again.

You girls played hard.  The.  Whole.  Game.

That is impressive.

That is what teamwork is all about.

It's called....Perseverance.

And in the long run, with will win.


Monday, November 18, 2013 go on a little (business) trip Chicago for several days.

The professional organization that I belong to holds an annual conference.  It is an opportunity for speech language pathologists and audiologists form all over the United States (and even other countries are represented) to meet to earn continuing education credits, to network, and learn about new developments in our field.

The wheels in my head started spinning as zoo as I realized the event was being held in Chicago this year.  After coordinating first with my Dad (head babysitter-extrordinaire) and my cousin Eliina & her family my plans were set into place.

**Note:  Eliina held dual roles:  head hostess and chief of directions & logistics (It is no joke navigating around Chicago!)

The girls were very excited when my Dad walked in!  Audrey asked all day..."When is Papa coming?"  "When is Papa coming?"

Lots of hugging and snuggling!

I knew their week was going to be just fine when I saw them building together.  Audrey loves to build.

I left my Dad a LONG, long, long list of activities for and flew to Chicago to be met by this adorable little gal when I got there!

Alice was just as sweet as I knew she would be and so smart too.  My, oh, my can she talk!  Just what the speech pathologist in me likes to see!

My cousin and her husband Josh were excellent hosts!  

And have a lovely home...Eliina's succulents were my favorite!  

I wish I had gotten more photos.

I was able to snap this photo of my dreary last day in the city...not exactly the kind of shopping weather I was hoping for!

 My week was an extraordinary success.  Many, many thanks especially to my Dad and Eliina.

Monday, November 11, 2013 be appreciative of Veterans (my Veteran in particular)

...and especially of those so supportive to them (our children)

This day provides the opportunity for Americans to be reflective and appreciative to those who serve our country.  And on days like today, especially today, it seems the general public is very supportive of those who serve.

For that I am grateful.  It is touching to see the many words of thanks, and praise, and comfort on Facebook.

I loved seeing all the photos posted today of pictures long past (grandparents, great-grandparents), past (like the one I posted of Abbey and Mark), and other photos that were taken much more recently....

But its not the public who makes today special in my eyes...

Its watching how brave our children are and have been these past few weeks.

Can you imagine being only 10, or 9, or 5, or 4 and being expected to say goodbye to the one guy who brings all the fun to you home?  The guy who does the wrestling and the tickling and the throwing-you-up-in-the-air stuff?  The guy who swoops in just before you fall asleep to give you the best bear hug ever?  The guy who never loses his cool (like mom does)?

You have to say good-bye to this amazing guy, your Dad, for a super long, really long time.

You also have to carry-on by doing your best at home, in school, and in your activities.  You have to be good and helpful to your mom...and most importantly, you must never, ever, wish it were someone else's  Daddy that had to leave.

Because this time, it is your Daddy's turn.

Oh yea, by the way Will, it is also your Godfather's turn.

Our children understand taking turns.  They haven't questioned this logic.

Since Mark has left...

They are excelling and trying new things...

Isabella joined the basketball team...well out-of-her comfort zone!
Working hard on homework and in school...

He's improving on his diligence...
Trying to be a little more independent...

Abbey built this entirely by herself.  
And by trying to be very respectful...

Audrey's Pilgrim's are having a Veterans Day celebration.

Complete with a parade (the lady riding on the elephant) thanking Veterans for their service.

I am thankful for the four that support Mark the most...

(And for the fact that they think our life is normal....They have no idea how unconventional our lifestyle is.)

And I am thankful for Mark's sacrifices for our family...but mostly I just miss him and wish for his safe return.

Thursday, November 7, 2013 share a few tidbits

...from Week #2.

1.  Trampolines are not supposed to fly.  They will fly if the winds reach 40-50 mph and they have safety nets that act as parachutes.  What goes up must come down.  If the object coming down from the sky is a trampoline...well, that is not good news for the trampoline.

2.  Children get sick.  My children never get sick when their dad is home.  Never.  Ever.  Mark has been gone just over a week and already Audrey was punky.

3.    Audrey can have spunk too...She said she was ready.  For what?  That's anybody's guess.

4.  Abbey is very helpful in the kitchen.  The girl is going to be a chef.  She loves to whip, chop, sear, bake...all of it.  Flipping pancakes is a new favorite.   She made these pancakes all by herself.  I taught her how to tell when they were ready and she didn't even burn a single one.  She even warmed the maple syrup in the microwave.

5.  It's a good thing she enjoys helping out in the kitchen because we spend a lot of time in it!  Especially when I am stressed.  When I am stressed I bake.  When I have too many things on my plate.  I bake some more.  

cookie dough brownie bites
and fitting for the season...

pumpkin roll

Sunday, November 3, 2013 enjoy an outing the Children's Museum in Rochester.

While the drive was a little farther than I would have liked it to be, the kids had a great time!

I had planned this outing for the kids earlier in the week, with the thought it would be a good idea to have a day trip on our first weekend by ourselves.

It was.

This place was amazing...and we didn't even get to explore the whole facility.

There was a beautiful salt water fish aquarium right at the entrance.  The kids were mesmerized.

William was immediately drawn to these magnetic tiles.

The best area by far was the supermarket.  The kids spent a really, very, very, long time in here!

Look how real it is!

Carts are lined at the entrance...

Isabella was already blazing through the store!

A cafe...

A deli...


Groceries...lots of groceries!

 Of course they each remembered to pick up some ice-cream.

The check-out was amazing!

Complete with a receipt!

We were in this section of the museum for-EVER.  Over and over they would pick out their five items, check them out, and then re-stock them.  After we spent some time enjoying the rest of the museum the kids begged to go back to the 'commissary' just one more time.

Funny...I am quite certain I never-ever, beg to go grocery shopping!

While the museum had many other fantastic activities and displays...the grocery store was still being talking about today.

I am glad we were able to enjoy the day together.