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.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It Finally Happened...

Issa is over magicians.

We went to library for one of their summer programs, Fish the Magish, today. Last year, Issa loved the magician at the library. This year, well...

I thought he was hilarious. The magic was not amazing, but I was entertained. At the end of the program, Evan turned around, his face alight, "That was awesome!"

Issa turned around and rolled her eyes. 

And there it is. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Blueberries for Days

This summer, the kids and I are trying to do one fun thing a day. Twice, that fun thing has been venturing out to Hawk Hill Blueberry Patch. We love climbing through their 500 pushes to find the best berries:

 The bushes were prolific this year, and in our two trips we have picked 10 quarts without really having to search. Picking is really fun when there are berries everywhere you turn!

They are so good, too! We have made muffins, oatmeal jars, and a pie:
 But the best part has been the jam:
I finished batch three last night for a grand total of 10 pints! Evan took two little jars to the dojo today, we took one to Nana Sunday, and we are already a half pint down at our house! It made lovely thumbprint cookies and protein bars.

I think we will try to go picking one more time, but I think we might be finished with the blueberry jam!

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Return Home

I don't even know how it came up, but somehow on the way to Grandma Judy's party we started talking about Wittenberg. Before I knew what was happening, Brad was insisting we go to Wittenberg on our way home Wednesday. 

I haven't been back since before the kids were born, and it was a very different experience for me now. With some distance, I'm even more grateful for all that Wittenberg gave me and how it shaped me. And although this isn't the most flattering picture, I think this about sums up how I felt:
 Our first stop was 110 West Northern, where Tay and I spent our last year. I'm not gonna lie: it needs some love:
 Mom insists it needed love when I lived there, but the kids were a bit shocked I love that house so much.

From there, I realized the main street is now a pedestrian walk way. We found our way behind the student center and made our way through the main gates:
 We parked on the hill, and I loved showing the kids which room had been my window in Meyers Hall:
 We walked to the seal, careful not to walk on it:
 And we wandered into Blair Hall, the education building. I checked the listing, and only one faculty member from my time there is still at Witt, and they have completely gutted the inside of the building! Dr. T.'s old office is now all glass and is the department office. I couldn't even walk down the hallways. I want to remember the building that made me a teacher.

From there, we introduced the kids to Wally Witt:
The Student Center felt exactly the same, and the library is unchanged. I pointed out the old honors house, and we wandered Hollenbeck Hall, where seven of my professors are still in the same offices. No one was on campus, but it felt good just to touch their doors and remember with the kiddos.
We ended our tour at Mike and Rosie's, which is still just as yummy as ever.

I've been trying to find the words since we left. Maybe it's because I work with college students every day that I'm more aware of the impact those years have on a person. Maybe I've grown enough to be truly grateful for every experience I had on that campus. Maybe it's having my children there with me, telling them all the reasons they should be Tigers. I don't know.  What I do know is I still get teary everytime I think about that morning. I do know I will be forever grateful to the people who touched my life at Witt--professors and friends. And I do know I pray my children find a place that makes them feel the same way...

Friday, July 7, 2017


We spent a wonderful five days in Ohio this week. The main event was this lovely lady's 90th:
 In classic Judy form, her only large group remarks were, "I'll see you all at my 100th."

It was such a lovely evening with family:
 And her friends. I hope I have half as much energy when I'm 90. They all drove themselves, and one was lamenting her best score was a 42 on 9 holes of golf last week--she golfs every day.

Sunday, we all gathered at Carol and Todd's for swimming and a "family fun day." The kids actually spent the nights there; we stayed at Tyler's place across the street. They loved every minute of being spoiled and being with cousins. Aunt Carol and Uncle Todd did pull out all the stops, including silly string:

 And poppers:
 Issa took to her role as eldest beautifully:
 While the littlest just couldn't handle so much fun:
 We don't get to spend whole days together like that often, and I loved having the time with the whole crew.

On Monday, we headed to Brad's side and spent some time with Papa Don and Grandma Nancy. The kids love having their own space there with plenty of craft supplies and a candy stash.

On the fourth, we headed to Uncle Brian's camper with Grandma Pat. Hadley wanted festive hair like Issa:
 And Evan wanted to wrestle Alec:

 And we all went looking for ducks to feed:
We don't see this crew often enough, and it was so nice to have an afternoon to be together.

The end of the deserves a separate post.