Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Yesterday, a truck came and took it all away.
Eight years in the making, in piles in my front yard.
It took a whole day to clean out our playroom...
A day that I was determined to part with "things".
"Things" that held so many memories for me.
I did my best to convince myself that I wasn't
tossing out the memories, just making room for more.
I am really not good with change
and even sometimes sit and think of moments that I would hit
the freeze button.
I like routine.
I don't mind same ole, same ole.
Sometimes, it's just time though...
Even for me.
So, I turned up the country music and got to work.
My goal was just to clean it out...
sort and sift through it all.
What I ended up doing though
was emptying the whole entire room
until there was nothing left.
And some how, I was okay with that.
I was okay with parting with the Little People,
the Little Tykes tool bench,
the toy kitchen, the Backyardigans stuff, the little scooters,
and everything else that filled up a notebook page.
I am ready for a change.
I am ready for a basement remodel...
to get it ready for the next stage of our lives.
There were, however, three things that I intended
to donate that never ended up making it to the pile:
The crib, the stroller, and the pony, Sal.
Maybe when all my children hit double digits
I will be able to say goodbye to them too
but for now, I am okay that I could not give up those three
I did pretty good, for me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goodbye Macy Girl...

Everyone is asleep...finally.  Everyone but me.  The rain hitting my bedroom window doesn't help...It doesn't help the incredible sadness I am feeling right now.

Today we said goodbye to our Macy Girl.  Five weeks ago, she was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia.  The odds weren't good...I was doubtful that she would even make it two weeks.  She was giving an oral steroid and sent home.  During the first week, I set my alarm and would get up with her for nightly feedings.  She was spoiled rotten.  After almost 7 days, she made a wonderful recovery.  She was full of energy, eating well, and walking on her own.  I was so very thankful for the miracle and extra time we were given.

Thursday I noticed her energy level dropping and by Friday I was incredibly worried about her.  I had to leave for a race in Chicago and left her in the hands of my wonderful hubby and three kids.  I returned home to find that she had gotten worse.  I could hardly stand to watch my beautiful pitt mix stumble and fall when trying to get up to greet me when I walked in the door.  I could hardly bring myself to carry her outside because she was no longer capable of holding her own weight.  I knew I could not put her through this again.  I prayed that the decision would be clear and I would have peace in whatever it was.

I set my alarm for early in the morning on Sunday.  I made her some hamburger and was hoping to get another dose of steroid down her.  When she wouldn't eat the hamburger my heart dropped...and then when she was clenching her jaws shut so I couldn't even give her the steroid I knew what she was telling me.  She was done...and I had to let her go.

Loss is so hard...watching your own babies deal with such a huge thing is even harder.

My husband and I sat down with each of the kids and gave them a choice if they wanted to go with us or not when we took Macy in to be put down.  My Princess said yes with no hesitation.  My Middle Man had a harder time making up his mind and decided yes at the very last minute.  My Little Man was a no right from the get go.  So, we dropped Little Man off to play with Grandpa and the four of us plus Macy Girl made the emotional trip in.

We arrived and my husband went in to let them know we were there.  They brought a little stretcher out to the car to get her...and we all sobbed as she was wheeled away.  We were set on being there with her when she passed and so we waited for them to get her ready.

All four of us were taken back to a room and Macy was brought in to us.  They told us that we could take as long as we wanted.  So we held her, pet her, took pictures, and just took everything in.  Then, when we were ready, we cracked the door to let them know that it was time.

The vet came in and was wonderful.  One thing that she said while she was leaving is that we fought the good fight...and that right there was probably the most encouraging thing she could have said at that moment.  I didn't want to give up on Macy...I didn't want to feel like I failed her...that I didn't do everything I could do for her...and with those words, I felt like this was the right thing to do and she was the messenger sent to tell me.  She left with tears in her eyes and the four of us held eachother and just cried.  We took as long as we needed to and then I took off her collar and we walked out.

On May 15th, 2008 we welcomed our sweet Macy girl in to our home.  She was five and we knew she had been through a lot just from the little that the shelter told us about.  This was her second chance and our goal was to spoil her as much as we could to make up for her first five years.  She napped all day on the couch, ate scraps from the table, spent time laying in the sun on the deck, played with her (one and only) neighbor friend, and even (ssshhhh) spent some lazy days laying in bed with me.  We really lucked out with her...she was such a sweetie from the get go.  She was so patient and wonderful to the kids and got along great with the cat.  These past two years she has had a blast with her little sister Zoey...who is so lost without her right now.  There will never be another like her.

Its all so new and fresh and is going to take some getting used to.  Watching the kids hurt is the hardest part of all.  We miss her terribly...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Your Eyes

I rarely use the ESV app on my phone...my good old trusty Bible with real paper pages is what I love.  Today, though, I wanted to read a few things and decided it would be more convenient to just use my phone.

I just love, love how God works.

I pulled up the app.  I don't think it was just a coincidence or mistake at what text popped up:

  "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:35-46

Back in July, we (insert happy dance) celebrated two years of employment.  Those twenty two months that Dan was out of work were the most grueling, painful, special, amazing almost two years of my life.  It's easy to forget those times when things are good now that they are in our rear view mirror.

Last week, Dan's hours were cut, which we are still extremely thankful for the hours he does have.  It's easy to have a freak out moment.  It's easy to allow all of the painful memories and feelings of anxiety creep back in and not trust God for my daily bread...even when he carried us so graciously and tenderly through that time in my life.  It's easy to turn inward and start worrying about me, me, me and only think about my little family and our needs.

I was given these verses and an ever so small opportunity to look outward today and give...and I just wanted to share these verses that your eyes may be focused outward and your thoughts focused on Him and what He would have you to do for the least of these.

Friday, September 21, 2012

In Her Eyes

At the beginning of this week, during one of our before bedtime chats, my Princess said something that went like this:

"Momma, I think we need another baby around here.  You can't just sit around all day paying bills and talking to the animals.  It makes you seem like kind of a desperate lady."

In the moment, I wanted to laugh out loud...but I didn't.  What she thinks I do all day is so funny to me.  Little does she know that these past few weeks, as I adjust to my new normal, I have been going out with friends, getting some nice long runs in, relaxing, shopping, catching up on household things, and just enjoying myself.  The first two weeks were rough, but all of the kids have adjusted quiet well now.  My Littlest Man has had a few bumps in the road, but this week has been fabulous for him.

So, I am thankful for my "desperate lady" kind of life right now...well, all except for the paying bills all day part.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Gym Ruined Me

Two weeks ago, I went in a cancelled my gym membership.  I have belonged to the gym for about two and a half years.  All good things must come to an end...but then I got to thinking...

I am pretty sure that the gym ruined me.

It's always in the 70s
It's never raining, snowing
It's never too hot, or too cold.
There's only tough hills if you want them there
and you can always decide when they start
and when the finish.
You can start out with a distance in mind
but if you are not feeling it
you can always cut it short
and move on to something a bit easier.
You can watch TV and get lost in a show
to take your mind off of what your body is doing
and how you feel.
There's always a bathroom a few feet away...
wait...okay, that's a good thing...
a very good thing.

I guess when I have looked over my past two and a half years, I am just not a gym person.

I need the heat (even though I hate it) and the cold temps.
I need to run in the rain.
To push myself in the snow.
I need those hills that sneak up on me
and the ones that are right there staring me in the eyes...
the ones that I see coming,
that I have to get my game face on for
and that I keep saying in my mind:
You WILL NOT beat me today.
I need those routes that give me no short cuts,
no choice but to go the distance.
I need the time to think,
to sing out loud on a back road,
to run with all I have.

Time to get back what I have lost.
Time to toughen up
and move this show outside.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I could use up all my fingers and all my toes to count up all of the animals I had growing up and still need extras to count with.  I have loved animals since I was a little girl.  I have a picture of me, I can't be older than two or three, walking a "pet" frog on a string.  We had dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, fish, rabbits...I can remember my Dad catching chipmunks for us and he once brought home a goose (it didn't stay long)...and no, we never lived on a farm.

It's no wonder that my kids, my little girl especially, love animals.

My husband and I tried giving a dog a go before we had kids...didn't last long...and the story always gets a laugh when told.  We tried having a cat and that didn't last long either.   It wasn't until Kait's green eyed, creepy, fanged black friend found his way in to our garage (and eventually our hearts) that things just clicked.  About a year after that, we went to a local shelter and picked out our (now elderly) brown eyed Macy girl.  She was five or six when we brought her home and she has been such a wonderful pet.  A year and a half ago, we decided Macy needed a little sister to liven her up and that's when we brought home her spunky, blue eyed companion...also from a shelter...that drives us nuts with her puppy energy.

Our house is full.  But, I really wouldn't change it for a minute.

I vacuum, sweep, and wash floors way more than I normally would.  But, they add so much more than just extra house work to our family.

Just last week, my Princess finally got her wish and was surprised with this pretty girl:

Meet Latte...my princess is in love...and I am happy to nurture her animal loving spirit.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just that way...

I am always missing someone.
It's just the way life has been for the past ten years.
There are just times where I miss
my family more than others
and these past few days
have been some of those times.

I don't really feel the hundreds of miles
until days like these.
Phone calls, email, and facebook
make the distance more bearable.
But sometimes, the hundreds of miles
feel more like thousands
and the heartache literally makes
eating and even breathing
more difficult.

Just when I think that I have come to accept
that this is just the way things have to be
Something creeps up inside of me.
my mind starts racing.
things could be different.
but then I am back to square one
and reminded that
I would still be missing someone.

It's just that way...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Empty Nest

From the time I had my first child, I have always known that we are raising our children to, little by little, become more independent...little by little, they will go off on their own and before we know it, they will be gone.  That's what kids do.  There have been times over these past eight years, when I have wished that I could blink and things could be put on fast forward a day a head, a week a head, even a few months ahead.  This was my wish especially in the beginning months when things were always so tough.

I am finding, as the years go by, that I am wanting more and more for there to be a rewind button.  Where as in the beginning things seemed to crawl by so slowly, everything is zooming by too fast now.

I think I have blinked too many times.

Yesterday, my three little chicks all left the nest for their first day of school.  All three of them...all day.  I am tearing up as I type this.  I never expected it would be this hard.

The morning went incredibly well.  Everyone got dressed, ate, brushed their teeth, and put on shoes and sock with no complaints at all.  They were all so excited.

We loaded in the van and made the short drive to school.  I was getting teary and my Princess looked at me and said, "Momma, I think you're a little old to cry on the first day of school."  It lightened the moment and I managed to hold it together.

The three of them skipped in to school.  My Middle Man shot off like a bullet.  He looked back to tell me that he knew they way and didn't need me to take him to his class.  My Princess stayed back with me and asked if I could take her.  I told her that I would be happy to, but I just needed to get my Little Man off to his class.  He was charging a head and told me that he knew the way...he could go to his class all by himself.  He is such a big boy and there were no tears.  I turned around and my Princess was gone.  I felt kind of lost.  All of my kids had left...all of them were big enough, brave enough to find their own way, to do it themselves.  I stood in the hallway for what felt like forever just looking around.  And so it began.  I was alone.  I put on my shades to hide the tears that were welling up and quickly walked out the front door of the school to the van...where I then fell apart and sobbed...and sobbed...and sobbed.

I really don't know what to think about this.  It's only day two.  I know I will get used to this, but I feel kind of lost.  My identity has never been in my kids...even though my heart beats for them.  I have built life around them, but have made sure to not loose myself in the process.

My 3rd grader, my 2nd grader, and my kindergartener!!

I. just. miss. them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Whole Hand

My youngest is five.  Five just seems so much older than four.  Maybe because it's halfway to ten.  Maybe because five is a whole hand.  Or maybe it's because he's my youngest...and for being my youngest, that's pretty old.

I woke him up bright and early to get his big day started.  Landon was pretty excited for Collin and helped him open all of his gifts...Collin didn't mind a bit, as you can see. 

Legos, M&M's, Star Wars, and beef jerky pretty much sums it all up.  He's pretty easy to please.  And yes, he requested the beef jerky.

My Littlest Man and Me...love this little guy! 

With the help of some awesome people who gave us free tickets to cover all the kids but one, we were able to plan a super secret surprise for the three birthday boys (my nephew and my two boys) to Six Flags.  They didn't know where we were going until about 5 minutes before we got there.  It was great.

Collin was so happy to have his best buddy (and cousin) there to share the day with him.

We had a great time celebrating.  He said it was his best day ever and that's really all that matters.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Too Quickly

I don't know when it happened, but it happened...
...my babies aren't babies any more.
They can all walk unassisted.
They can entertain themselves.
They can all pronounce their "r"s.
They can all speak and be understood.
They can feed themselves.
They can dress themselves.
It has become even more apparent
these past couple of days.
We pulled out our old home videos
and although I love the stage that we are at,
I have to admit, it left me feeling
a tad

I sat there watching my little girl sing silly songs,
dressed up in her princess dress,
with her high heels,
and her head full of ringlets.

I sat there watching my toe headed Middle Man jump off of anything and everything,
adding a "g" sound to all of his words,
being ever so polite,
at the so long ago age of three.

I sat there watching my Littlest Man with trouble that sparkled in his eyes,
with no fear,
jumping in to the pool and swimming around before he was even two.

I watched birthday after birthday
just pass by.

And in the blink of an eye, it's all gone.
There were days, when I had three little ones under three,
that I wished for simpler days,
easier days
that they could all be a little more independent.
I wished for more sleep,
I wished that they days wouldn't seem so long.
And poof.
I am here.
I am loving it but at the same time
I am a little weepy.
I am thankful, though, for the reminder
to enjoy this
because I know
it will all be over too

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our 4th in Photos

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bits and Pieces

On May 25th, my Princess turned eight.  We celebrated from the time I woke her up singing "Happy Birthday" (a tradition) until her and her cousin finally fell asleep late that night.

On the very same day, both of the kids went and finished up their last day of school.  Upon Landon's request, they both carried in flowers for their teachers as their way of saying "thank you".

That weekend, Dan helped his brother in a cook off competition.  Last year I was working, so it was nice to be able to make it this year.

On June 1st, I flew to New York City and spent the day with a friend from high school.  It was my first time in the city and I had a blast sight seeing.
My friend of 15 years and I on our way to New Jersey on the ferry.  He was a great tour guide and I enjoyed the full day we had together.

Next, I headed over and stayed the rest of the time with my sister and her family in New York.  It was the first time I had ever visited her...and she had just had her 4th little guy.  On Sunday, my brother, his wife, and my neice drove up from PA and we were all able to spend the day together.  It was such a wonderful trip...the only thing missing was my little family.


On June 7th, I took the kids strawberry picking for the very first time.  The kids enjoyed each having their own little basket to fill.

The very next day, we found Landon a new bike on craigslist.  He was thrilled!  His old bike (that he's had since his third birthday) was passed down to Collin and everyone was happy.

During the school year, both Kaitlyn and Landon earned a ticket to Six Flags.  For the second year in a row, I was given a season pass by Dan's parents.  So, on June 14th, we spent the day at Six Flags for free.  It was Landon and Collin's first time.  They aren't as daring as Kaitlyn...so she went back again with Dan's Mom a week later and rode the coasters and faced her fears and went on the Giant Drop.

Those are a few bits and pieces from the past month and a half.  The summer is flying by too fast.  I can't believe that July is right around the corner!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Two Wheels...

Every mile stone that my Little Man hits, I am reminded that it's our last...it's the last time one of our children will take their first steps, it's the last time one of our children will say their first word.  I had Dan actually take a picture of me with the last breast milk bottle I pumped for my Littlest Man.  The lasts just keep coming...and unfortunately there is no pause button.

On Saturday, I went out grocery shopping by myself while Dan kept the kids entertained at home. I wasn't gone for that long...nor did I expect a last first to happen while I was away.

When I came home, my Littlest Man was on two wheels. His training wheels were tossed to the side. My Littlest Man is little for his age, but I could have sworn that he grew a couple inches while I was away. I was so excited for him, and frankly, I was thrilled that now I won't have him lagging behind on bike rides...bikes are much faster without those training wheels! It did however, remind me that we will be hitting another big, huge milestone in just a few months...my Littlest Man is going off to kindergarten in the fall...but for now, I like sitting in the driveway and watching him speed around on his two wheeled bike, his little bony legs peddling so fast, asking me to watch him...and I do because, afterall, there is no pause button.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Question

Last night, the house was quiet.  All the children were snug in their beds and Dan and I were getting ready to watch The Deadliest Catch together.  I was summoned in to Kait's room.  She was wide awake and ready to chat.

My sister is due to have her fourth boy.  There's been a lot of talk about it around here.  Kait has been asking every morning and every night for the past few days if Aunt Calist has had her baby yet.  I guess it got her thinking.

I walked in to her room and she asked if Aunt Calist was in labor.  I told her that it didn't look like there was going to be a baby tonight.  I could see the wheels turning...and I braced for the question.  I didn't know exactly what question it would be, but I knew what direction this conversation was going:

"Mama, where do babies come out of exactly?"

It was in that instant, that her life flashed before my eyes.  In that split second, I imagined my little Kait, not even an hour old, wide eyed and curious, looking around at the big world...I imagined the nights walking her around the house to get her to sleep...I imagined her strong willed little spunk before she could even talk, her obsession with elmo, her saying her first words, taking her first steps, going off to school.  Where have the years gone?

I now have an almost eight year old asking me questions that I have to answer with words like, "vagina", "uterus", "placenta", "dilate", "hormones", and "hysterectomy"...yes, it was a pretty in depth conversation and she had a whole lot of questions...and some of my answers caused her eyes to get as big as saucers.  Never once did she get embarrassed.  Never once did she act uncomfortable.  It was as if we were talking about the weather or her day at school.

So when our conversation came to an end (it was way past her bed time and Daddy was getting a little antsy), I made sure to tell her that what we just talked about was something so special and private...not to be talked about with friends or joked about.  I let her know that she can come to me with any questions that she has and I will always be willing to sit down with her and talk about anything.  She looked at me with her big brown eyes...the same big eyes that I stared in to after she made her entrance in to this world...she had a big smile on her face and she said, "Do you think that tomorrow night we can talk about more stuff like this?  I have a few more questions."  And so, I made a date with my little girl, who is becoming not so little anymore, to talk about things that I can't believe I am talking about with her already.

I turned off her light, told her I loved her so much, and I fought back tears as I walked out of her room.  She's growing up...and there's not much I can do about it.  The thing is, people have warned me about this kinda thing...that they grow up way to quickly...and I don't know why it shocks me still.

Tonight, I am fully prepared for the question, "Mama, now that I know how babies come out, how exactly do they get in there?"

Friday, May 4, 2012

We've Ruined Her

...depending on how you look at it.

Back in March, when we went to Florida, the kids all spent a week sleeping on the floor in their sleeping bags.  They enjoyed it.  I assumed that they all missed their beds and would resume sleeping in them once we got home.

I was wrong.

Every night, but one, since then, Kaitlyn has made herself a bed on the floor.  After three weeks of sleeping on the floor, she informed me that I could sell her bed...she didn't need it anymore.

Maybe I have readied her for a third world country.

Or, maybe I have ruined her to a life of back problems and sleeping separately from her husband.

I really don't know.

But, I do know that last night she really freaked me out.

I was coming out of our bathroom and looked in the hall way to find this:

It reminded me a bit of a scene from a certain movie that gave me nightmares as a child.  Can you take a guess?  All that is missing is the house and the ruby red slippers, but you get the idea.

I am stumped.  I don't know how on earth this could be more comfortable than a bed, but whatever floats her boat. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Collinisms (Funny things Little Man says)

My Middle Man stayed home from school today.  While I was waiting for the pediatrician's office to call me back to tell me when they would be able to fit us in, the boys were having a nice time playing together.  For the most part, they get along great.  My Little Man runs the show, while my Middle Man follows his lead, but makes suggestions along the way.  It's funny to sit back and listen to their conversations.  Little Man always has his head in the clouds...he's a dreamer...marches to the beat of a different drum...almost always his own.  Middle Man, however, is a thinker...he's a realist...a bit of a pessimist...a black and white sort of guy.

Middle Man was talking to Little Man about the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)...a topic that is way over any four year olds head.  It was a cute conversation and Middle Man was trying so hard to explain it.  Little Man has had a bit of an obsession with talking about Satan lately, so the conversation automatically turned to how bad Satan is and how we should not follow him or pray to him.  Middle Man confirmed what Little Man was saying and told him that, indeed, we should only pray to Jesus.  I heard a bit of a gasp escape from Little Man and he quickly said, "Awww, you know what?  Aunt S is not being good.  She always tells us to pray to ourselves!  We should never pray to ourselves.  That's so bad, right?"  Which then turned in to a conversation about what "Praying to yourself" means and how it's not at all wrong.


On the way to the pediatrician's office, Little Man kept insisting that we were going the wrong way.  It's been a good winter and the kids have hardly been sick at all...it's nice that he has forgotten the way to the doctor.  I kept telling him that I knew where I was going and that he could just sit back and relax and before long he would be able to see that I knew what I was talking about.  Not long after that, it clicked for him that we were headed in the right direction and he burst out, "Mama, you are a genius!  You do know the way!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My 30th

The days leading up to my big day, I was anticipating it with a healthy respect...that kinda verged a little on dread.  It wasn't so much the thought of being older as it was the thought of saying goodbye to my 20s...I hate goodbyes.

I wanted to celebrate in a big way...a day I would remember for the rest of my life...celebrate in a way that was me.  So, months in advance, I looked up races that were going to be held right on my 30th birthday...exactly how I wanted to ring in my thirties.

I ended up settling on The Illinois Marathon.  So, Friday afternoon, my family and I packed up and made the trek to Champaign-Urbana to check in to a hotel.  I was so happy to be able to get away with them...and even happier to wake up on my birthday with all of them sleeping around me.

My husband is not a morning person.  He is a talker, but not when he first wakes up...so it meant so much to me that he got up and spent time with me before I had to leave for my race.

I left my babies sleeping, kissed my husband goodbye, and snuck quietly out of the room to catch the shuttle to the starting line.

I walked in to the bathroom and found a little gift and cards from the kids waiting for me. 

Sitting in the bathroom talking with Dan before I had to go (the kids were all sleeping)...he wanted to get a shot of my new birthday socks. 

I had a great race. I won't go in to a mile by mile play by play that might bore you to death...I'll save that for my running blog. But, I will say that it was a different kind of run for me. I don't like racing alone. I had only done it once prior to this race and it was awful. I was nervous about this race and running 13.1 miles without a running buddy beside me. This race, I proved to myself that it's not so bad and I can do it. I can run my own race, motivate myself when I feel like walking, and have fun in a sea full of strangers. It was my two hours of worship,prayer, and thanksgiving. I crossed the finish line at the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium and fought back tears of joy and thankfulness. After getting my medal and a bottle of water, I stood there looking around and taking it all in.

I met my family and made the quick drive back to the hotel to get showered. Dan caught me crying in the bathroom and asked what was wrong. Even though it was only 10:30 in the morning, my birthday was all I wanted it to be...with the exception of Jimmy Johns and cake (which came later).

My Princess with the sign she made to cheer me on. 

My Little Man with his sign he made. 

My Middle Man and the sign that he made. 

Posing with my race shirt and my new medal to add to my collection. 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing.  Before the kids went to bed, they came to me for thier goodnight hugs and kisses.  I kissed each one and thanked them for making my birthday so special.  My Middle Man asked me who helped make my birthday the most special.  The simple answer I gave him : Jesus, with Daddy being number two.  So much has changed and happened in these last ten years, but my Jesus has remained constant.  In my 20s, He gave me Dan, blessed me with three beautiful children, carried me through a miscarriage and a 22 month unemployment, brought healing, filled me with joy, brought wonderful friends in to my life, and cared for me so tenderly.  I spent my twentieth birthday with my Dan...which doesn't seem like so long ago, but in a lot of ways it does.  We have been through so much together these past ten years and I am looking forward to bringing in many more decades with him.

Tonight, I am just simply thankful.

Bring on my thirties!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Week in Florida

Our week in Florida was much needed and such a good time.  Not only was it our first week long family vacation, it was the first time any of our kids had been down to visit Dan's grandparents.  We spent the week shooting, riding around grandpa's property, fishing, going to the beach, going out to eat, and just relaxing.

We left at around 2:30AM on Saturday morning and drove straight through to Pensacola.  The last few hours were rough...Dan and I wanted to pull our hair out and the kids were (of course) restless, but we made it.

Sunday morning Dan loaded the kids up in the RTV and drove in front of me around his grandparent's property while I got a run in.  I was a little afraid of snakes, but luckily I didn't see any and so that gave me the confidence to go out a couple more times that week by myself.  Grandpa and Grandma took us out for Sunday dinner and then we had a relaxing evening at home.

Monday we decided to take a trip to the beach.  It was the kids first time at the ocean and they had a blast.  They were able to swim, collect a lot of shells, and soak up the Florida sun.

Tuesday we headed to The National Museum of Naval Aviation with Dan's grandparents.  It was an enjoyable time...but the kids lost interest quicker than Dan and I did.  After we spent a few hours there, they took us to McDonalds for lunch and even treated all of us to ice cream cones.  It seemed like we no sooner were finished there that they were taking us out to a place called Firehouse for dinner.  The kids were in Heaven.

Wednesday, we decided that since the weather was gorgeous again that we would head back to the beach for one last time.  It didn't seem like any of us got too much Sun on Monday, but when it was time to pack up and head home this time, we were all burnt.  The waves were huge and the kids enjoyed body surfing...my Middle Man especially.  It was a hard good bye.  I think the kids would have stayed at the beach a lot longer if we would have given them the option.  All of them loved it.  We came back home and Dan, the kids, and Grandpa spent the rest of the day fishing.  Dan was in his element and Kaitlyn is quite a natural little fisher girl.

Thursday was a sad day.  I found myself walking around with a little bit of dread.  It was our last day and the week just flew by way too fast.  It was so nice being together, eating together, sleeping together, doing everything together...that I hated to see it end.  Dan's grandparents took us to breakfast at Crackle Barrel...it was the kids' first time.  They were amazed that there was a store in a restaurant...and for a few days after that, Collin was begging to go back to "The Chipped Barrel".  We had a relaxing rest of the day exploring the property and looking for snakes to shoot.  That evening, Grandma put in a couple of Elvis movies and the kids loved them.

The next morning, we headed for home around five.  It was a sad goodbye.  I really hate that my kids' lives are filled with so many of them...more than I think there should be for their little hearts.  It crushes this Mama's heart when I hear a little voice from the back seat say how much they miss Great Grandpa, Great Grandma, Gammy, Poppy, or whoever we are leaving after an extended visit.  What's even worse is when I hear a tiny whimper or sob escape...my heart just aches for them.

We ended up getting home a little after 11 that night.  We were all sore, tired, and ready to fall in to our own beds.  While it was so nice to be home, I have to say, I missed our togetherness already...knowing that in the morning, there would be places we would have to be...a schedule to keep.  I loved every minute...every second, really...of our little get-away.  This past week, when the stresses of life crept back, the sleepless nights started again, the busyness took over, it was nice to sit down and flip through the pictures...close my eyes and be back there...and that will have to do for at least another year.

Thankful for the time away.