Monday, July 21, 2014 begin the first day

...of our move.

SPOILER ALERT:  I videotaped thirty-seconds of Audrey having a fit this morning.  Replay this video sixty-five times and you will have an idea of how the movers felt this morning.  Please do not watch if screaming and crying give you a queasy stomach.  

Audrey sums up my feelings of our day perfectly with this performance:

As you might guess the first day of the pack out did-not-go-so-well.  In fact I anticipate this performance is a preview of what I may sound like tomorrow afternoon.

You know how the saying goes:

 "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Sunday, July 20, 2014 enjoy the baptism

...of our godson

As you can see it was a very solemn event...

But precious nonetheless...

I love this photo of the proud parents...

The boys were very cooperative "Batman(s)" in their photo op.

The crew finally settled down...

For the baptism.

Can I get a collective "aww...isn't he precious?"

Afterward...we enjoyed the most GENIUS idea!  A Tin Pan Galley picnic on the Sackets Harbor Battlefield.

Oh.  Yum.

No waiting in line.  No fidgeting kids at the tables.  But perfectly delicious food and beautiful sights.

Sailboat in the harbor
Isabella taking a walk.
unscripted GQ poses
Daddy Daughter #1
Lil' C. 
Paddy playing catch with Will
"Catch me if you can!"
What a beautiful day for our families' to celebrate Declan's baptism!  

So many memories were made.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 enjoy the last day

...with the Amy and the LaCrow kids (as they were dubbed by the staff at Augustinian).

What a day we had!

Lunch at Panera.

A trip to the Thompson Park Zoo.

And an evening dinner together.

A day gathering a few more memories of this crew spending time together.

They've sure grown up together over these past three years.  They've endured car pools and wine nights, sleepovers and swimming time, ice cream parlor trips and zoo adventures, and of course deployments. 

Can you believe how small they once were?  

Drive-In Movie
Soccer game
Isabella's birthday party
They sure have grown.

So.  Big.

Over the years we have had many fun adventures...

White water rafting 
But what sticks in my mind most are the simple times.  The soccer games.  Pedicures.  The sitting on the bench at the park.  Our weekly lunch dates.  The morning scheduling debriefs (e.g., Who's driving where?  Where are we meeting for lunch? etc...) at the bus-stop.  Wine nights.  

I am going to miss these every day things the most.

Our last 'fun day' at Fort Drum was memorable.

It was so great to see the kids get so excited about little things today...

Feeding time for the rattlesnakes
An impromptu zoology class...

And slurpees...

We all enjoyed a great day together.

While it breaks my heart these two won't be in class together next year...

And that Amy won't be around to cuddle with my little girls...

And it is just. so. hard. to say goodbye...

I know these two families have a very special lifelong bond.  I love you all.  And I'll miss you so.

Monday, July 14, 2014 begin to tie up

...loose ends.

10 more days.

The closets are cleaned out.

I think I am in denial.

The toys have been donated.

It's hard to believe our time here at Fort Drum is nearly over.

The food in the freezer is nearly all gone.

I have lists.  I have sub lists.  I have things in my mind that I haven't written down to do.  I have checked one or two things off each day.

I have even finished both of my library card catalogs.

But I am most definitely procrastinating...

I've been baking though!  Cookies...cakes...

Maybe if I don't check all things off of my list we won't have to leave?

Every now and then I'll look around and just begin to tackle a new task.  This afternoon, after I finished work, I took down all the curtains in the living room.

To me this task especially final.

It's not that I am not excited about moving back to Michigan for a few years.  I am looking forward to setting up our first home and living close to our families...

It's just...hard to leave.  It's hard to leave this cozy home of ours.  It's hard to leave this neighborhood.   It's hard to quit my job.  It's hard to leave Meghan.  It's hard to leave Amy.  It's hard to bear the thought of my kids leaving behind their friends.  It's hard to think of their friends not having my kids to play with.

Did I mention it is hard to say goodbye?

Instead, I'll try not to think about it.

I'll think of happy watching these two scoot around together on a beautiful evening after dinner.

Think of me and my weepy self this next week & a few days...please send lots of happy thoughts my way.

Friday, July 11, 2014 celebrate 16 years...

...of wedded bliss.

A cup of coffee.

A run.

A nice breakfast.

More coffee.

And all that before our children even woke up!

Our 16th anniversary started out perfect.

Then, the day got even better...

An afternoon at the beach...(with Amy + 11 kids)


Well...maybe not.

But I love the crazy, and love even more that Mark tolerates it for/with me.

Then, the day had even the. very. bestest. ending...

Our godson was born just before dinner!

Meghan and Sean are the proud parents of Declan Maloney...and we couldn't be happier for them.  

So happy Sean made it home in time, so happy Meghan and the baby are healthy, and so happy we were still here to share this day with them.

Mark and I are so lucky.

Lucky to have each other and to be building this crazy life together with these four kids...

Happy 16th to us!  I can't wait to see what's next...


Wednesday, July 9, 2014 celebrate Audrey's

...five years!

Who can believe this little lady is five?

How do you make the day special for a five-year-old without going crazy?  Or make it special by keeping it simple?

If you have read anything I have written in the past month, year, or even couple of years, it is clearly evident that this little gal can be a little demanding. 

One might politely say Audrey has vision.

Her 5th birthday party has been planned by her for her with gusto since the day after she turned 4. 

She had visions of a mermaid party at the beach.  Meghan was supposed to provide the watermelon, and I was supposed to make a blueberry cake (who has ever heard of a blueberry cake?!?).

Then, last week, out-of-the-blue she asked me:
Audrey;  Mom who is going to be my distraction?
Me:  Huh?
Audrey:  You know, my distractor!  For my surprise birthday party!!
Oh.  Dear.  The bar was being set pretty high.

Especially since:

The forecast for July 9 was a high of 70 degrees.  With winds gusting from 10-20mph.

For the record, that's not exactly beach weather.

And...Wednesday's are a work day for me.  Given I'm about to take a two month job hiatus, I couldn't exactly call in sick.

The beach was out.

Oh, yes...and parents of the year that Mark and I are, we had no Mermaid birthday themed items.  Purchasing these said items would have taken some pre-planning skills on our part.

No matter.  We thought we could pull off the surprise element she had talked about.

After I finished work, the kids and I decorated the 'surprise room' while Mark distracted Audrey and took her on an errand.

As a side note:  While they were on this errand, Audrey informed Mark that next year, she would like to at least have some streamers!  

We put up signs, balloons, confetti, princess paper products and more balloons...and streamers.  Lots of streamers.

When they returned, we left as a family for dinner at Audrey's choice restaurant...the McDonald's in Watertown, with a big-giant-playhouse.


On our trip home, to her surprise, I distracted Audrey by explaining the LaGrange and Morrow kids would not be coming over for cake.  We would only be celebrating as a family.

Awww.  She seemed sad about this information.

Then we arrived home.

Mark and I distracted her again and had her walk into the front door of our home (we usually enter in the side door).

When she walked in, out popped all the Morrow's and the LaGrange's.


And Audrey...well...she nearly jumped out-of-her-skin.

And jumped into her Dad's arms.  

It took her awhile to recover.


Finally, back to her charming self (she's plugging her ears while we sing to her).  

I think Audrey's birthday party was a success.  It may not have been the party she's been dreaming about all year, but it's one that she'll remember.  She'll remember being surrounded by three families who love and adore her.

She already started planning her sixth birthday party about a month ago.  In case you are wondering, it's an ice skating birthday party (in the middle of July).  

I bet she stipulates there are to be NO surprises.  

I think she may be like her momma with respect to this one quality...

Monday, July 7, 2014 attend a welcome

...home ceremony.

There is a family...

And two little boys...

And a wife...

And a best friend...

And a whole cheering section...

And a silly girl...

Who are all pretty happy...

That this guy is home.

Welcome Home Sean!

You've been missed.