Monday, August 21, 2017

Fun Family Weekend

We had such a fun weekend! For the very first time, Grandma Judy and Aunt Carol came down to visit! Aunt Shannon joined the fun, and we truly had a fabulous weekend!

They arrived Friday, but we just stopped in for a glass of wine after Issa's boot camp performace. The real fun started Saturday!

We decided to celebrate Issa's birthday with them this weekend, and for the first time she and Shannon went shopping together for her birthday clothes. Saturday morning, we girls all set off for the mall:
 The youngins headed off their own direction while Carol and I did some shopping of our own!

Judy and Mom joined us mid-morning for a little shopping before all we girls met up for lunch:
 Issa and Shannon shopped well into the afternoon. We returned home just long enough for Issa to give us a birthday fashion show, although those pictures will have to wait as to not ruin the first day of school reveal.

We attempted dinner at the Nickel, but even at five we couldn't get in, so barbeque it was:
 We went back to Nana's for birthday cupcakes:
 And discovered Nana doesn't own a lighter. Thank goodness for gas stoves:

 Sometimes I worry she'll never come out of her shell:
 Sunday, everyone came to our house for coffee:
And we finally made it to the Nickel for lunch!

All in all, it was a weekend of great food, laughter, and memories. Judy brought some old letters and one of Granddad's college papers. It truly was lovely to just have the time, and I loved having them see our home--even our crazy. There really is no greater gift.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mountain Quest

The boys spent last weekend being ninjas on the mountain--literally! They participated in their first Mountain Quest. They spent Friday morning packing a tent, packs, and enough food for the weekend, and then they were off. I was so grateful to see this picture on Facebook Friday night:
 There was no cell service up there, and it was good to see that they were there, training, and basically dry since the forecast was for rain all weekend.

It was a little surreal. I realized Brad and I had never gone 24 hours without communicating--at least via email--since we started dating in 1998. I'm not a fan. But...they had a fabulous time training. The highlight, though, was the hike to and through the waterfall.

Evan was barely big enough:
 His feet couldn't actually touch, and I'm so grateful to know that Mr. Hardee had a death grip on my little guy:
 Evan said it was really cool to go from being held by Mr. Hardee to being passed to Mr. Bryan and then a whole team of ninjas:
 Brad was up next:

 And if I was still teaching symbolism I would totally use this pic for a Christ symbol:
They said it really is something you just have to experience.

They are still adjusting to life off of the mountain, but they are already talking about next year. I'm so very grateful they were able to experience it together, and I'm awfully glad to have them back home, too.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Cinderella

Right before Nana Camp, Issa spent two weeks at the studio in Production Camp. In two short weeks, this group of girls and two teachers created sets, sewed costumes, assembled props, and choreographed Cinderella, and our dancer was Cinderella! We all went to see the show, and I was so, so proud of the whole group. 

Issa was most nervous to open the show alone on stage, but she shined (zoom in on the pics):
Two of her very good friends were the step-sisters, and I loved watching the three of them interact on stage:
 This was her proudest moment:
 All of the magic happened on stage, which meant her dress transformed. They worked and worked to get it done before the music ran out, and they did it when it counted most!

I also loved the scene when she entered the ball:
 And her dancing the pas de deux with Mrs. Lauren A., her solo teacher:
 The curtain call:
I was so, so proud of Issa. She has had a block about learning a lot of choreography quickly, and she got over it! She also let go a little bit and had fun on stage--and her face showed it!

Now we are in boot camp and starting a new competition year, and I can't wait to watch her keep growing!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Staycation Miracles

Last week, Brad and I enjoyed every moment of a staycation. The kids went to Nana Camp, and Brad and I spent the week binging House of Cards, eating what and when we wanted, and most importantly redoing the kitchen.

We dropped the kids off Satuday and went to Home Depot for all the supplies we would need. We got this far before we called it a day:
 Yep...we dumped the entire contents of our kitchen into the family room. It was a mess. Making coffee Sunday morning was an adventure.

Sunday, though, Brad started patching walls while I taped:
 And by Monday night we were putting paint on the walls:
 We also spent a couple days without doors so they could be painted:
 Thankfully, I have a very handy husband who installed new outlets, hinges, and lights:
 We finished moving everything back in just a few hours before the kids came home, but their homework station is all ready for school to begin:
 And the new cabinet hardware and clear counters make a huge difference:
 I love the brighter doors and archway:

 And we redid the stove area to make it more functional:
 But this is the best:
We switched tables around at the house, and I reapholstered these chairs to match.

We are loving our new space, which feels a million times bigger.

Most importantly, I'm so very grateful for the week spent just being together. The fall hustle is starting, so I'm clinging to the feels from last week with everything I've got!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

This Guy

I took this picture right after I finished fussing at him for lifting those shelves into place by himself:
The truth is, though, I was awfully glad to see him up on that ladder reorganizing his garage and building a bench for Issa's dance production.

It's been a bumpy summer. In June, Brad started feeling not so hot. It started with fatigue and then anemia, which was enough to send us to the doctor. Long story short: two weeks ago we got the official diagnosis of Celiac's.

We've been learning how to do the whole gluten-free thing. Thank goodness for Pinterest for the recipe wins. I'm learning which brands are safe and where gluten hides--like everywhere. We also got a deep freeze to make meal prepping easier and to hold some gluten-free go-to meals for when we are up against the clock. There have been some hard moments, but we're finding our rhythm.

And this guy...well...I can't believe the difference. And I'm just so very glad he is on the mend...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Italian Friends at a North Carolina Lake

Last Thursday and Friday, the kids and I spent two wonderful days at the lake home of one of my colleagues. While a trip to the lake with her family is always fabulous, this one was particularly special because Laura, a teacher friend from Italy, and Michele, her husband, joined us! 

We had so much fun showing them a typical lake experience! The kids were pretty sure that they thought we were crazy if this was our idea of fun:
 When you think about it, pulling kids around behind a very fast boat is a bit odd.

I think everyone's favorite part was our boat ride to watch the sunset:
After such a lovely time in their home when I was in Italy, I was so grateful for the opportunity to return some of the love...and I don't think the kids minded one bit either.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We are ready!

It may only be July 18, but we are ready for school to begin:
Well...we are still very much enjoying summer, but we are now officially supplied and packed for the first day on August 28!

It sounds so ridiculous, but ever since the year I ended up a complete sobbing mess in the Wal-mart aisle, we just get this finished early. There is a sweet spot right after the year-round kids go back. The stores think they over-purchased and cut prices, and no one else is even thinking about backpacks yet.

We ordered backpacks online last week, and they were here and waiting for the supplies we purchased this morning. We had the entire section to ourselves. We found everything we needed, and it is already packed and waiting for the next year of adventures. My August-self will be so happy.