2013 Recap

I haven’t been the best blogger as 2013 came to a close.  I’m determined to do better in 2014.  But here’s a quick recap of everything that has kept me off the blog for the past three months. 2013 was a great year!

First of all, Tony and I climbed a mountain.  For real.   Nothing makes you feel like you can accomplish great things like climbing a mountain.  I actually did manage a blog post about that in July.

Here are the other reasons 2013 was amazing:

We went to Disney World over Fall Break in October with my parents and Tony’s mom.

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We also went to Universal Studios and met a minion!

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The second half of Fall Break we discovered that we were expecting baby #4 in June 2014.  Although we didn’t share the news until Thanksgiving, we were so excited.  My holidays consisted of celebrating with this stuff:

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Andrew turned 10.

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Halloween 2013:

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Aidan turned 9.

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Thanksgiving happened:

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Sophie participated in her first DanceWorks Holiday Extravaganza as a Company Member.

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The Christmas season started and stayed busy.  We went to see the Grinch, played in the snow, and had our school’s annual Christmas program.

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Aidan had his piano recital.

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After 6.5 long years, I finally graduated!  I defended my dissertation in October and although I could technically be called “doctor”, my degree wasn’t conferred until December 17th.  I’m having a hard time convincing my children to call me Dr. Mom.

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Tony and my mom threw a party for me:

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For the first time since ever, I enjoyed the holidays with no school work hanging over my head.  With the exception of one summer between my Masters and Ph.D., I have gone to school continuously since high school.

We spent the night before Christmas Eve making our traditional gingerbread house.

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We cleaned up pretty well for Christmas celebrations.

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We attended Midnight Mass and Aidan was honored with the job of placing baby Jesus in the manager.  He was so proud, and the only one of my kids awake to do it.

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Especially exciting over Christmas was the chance to meet my niece, Gracelyn!  We’re so glad they were able to make it home for a visit.

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Much to the disappointment of my children, we didn’t do anything for New Year’s eve.  We had plans, but I was sick the biggest part of the week so I just stayed in bed.  However, they are making up for it by getting two extra days of Christmas break.  That’s right – due to the extremely cold temperatures, the schools in Indiana have today and tomorrow off.  We’re making the most of it by doing nothing.  Today, we had chocolate chip waffles, blew frozen bubbles, and made hot cocoa and cookies.

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Happy New Year!

Fall break photos

In an effort to get caught up, here’s the link to a few of our Fall Break photos.  We had a wonderful time at Disney World and also during our visit with Erin, Matt and Hunter in Alabama.  I’ll find time to narrate all these pictures later, but I know I’ve been a horrible blogger lately!

Labor Day and Scouts

Several weeks ago, we held our Secular Franciscan meeting at Patoka Lake on one of the member’s houseboats.  It’s one the things we look forward each summer.  I didn’t take any pictures myself, but Gary shared some with us and I wanted to pass them on as well.  It’s such a great event of prayer, fellowship, food, family, and fun!

The boys enjoyed tubing:

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And kayaking:

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And taking the slide off the back of the boat:

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And eating:

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Sophie wanted nothing to do with getting in the water where she couldn’t touch (surprise, surprise) and instead made herself the monitor and dog watcher.  She enjoyed throwing the tennis ball off the back of the boat and watching the dog swim to retrieve it.

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We are so grateful for the Boice’s hospitality and the friendship of the entire group of Franciscans!

On Labor Day weekend, we celebrated with a parade in Clarksville.  Sophie and her friend were not fans of the sirens!

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The Scouts participated by carrying the “ginormous” flag.

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Speaking of Scouts, today was a very special day.  Our former preschool building was dedicated as the new Scout Lodge.  When the preschool moved into their new facility, there was question of what to do with the “little apple building”.  I’m so glad the Scouts will be occupying the little house where I went to Kindergarten!  We were very blessed today because Bishop Gettlefinger, retired bishop of Evansville and retired National Liason to the National Catholic Committee on scouting.  What an honor to have him dedicated our little lodge.

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I’m so glad our family has been involved in Scouting and I’m thrilled for the troop to have a new home!

On another exciting note, I applied to graduate in December!!!!!

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Of course, there’s still the minor matter of editing and defending my dissertation – but who’s counting?

Saying Good-Bye

On Tuesday afternoon, the world lost one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known.  Our precious friend Bryce lost his battle with brain cancer.  I know many of you already know his story, but I cope with emotions through writing so I feel compelled to put my feelings into words.

Aidan and I first met Bryce almost five years ago.  The YMCA was starting a new Arts program, including children’s theatre, and Bryce was in charge.  He was only 21 when I met him.  Aidan was one of only four kids who auditioned for “Lullaby for a Lonely Child”, so Bryce put out a plea looking for adults to help fill the roles.  Since I was going to be at practice with Aidan anyway, I volunteered to be in it as well and the rest is history.

Bryce convinced our entire family to get involved in theatre again.  The boys and I did “Wizard of Oz” with Bryce, and Tony ran the lights.  Then, Tony and I had the amazing experience of being cast as two of ten people in the production of “Godspell” that Bryce was directing.  Last summer, all five of us were on stage for “Cinderella”.  Our family was brought together in a way we might not have otherwise been, and we have amazing memories together. We’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.  This summer, Bryce got sick a week before our rehearsals for “Seussical” were supposed to start.

Anyone who has been in theatre can tell you that your fellow cast members and crew quickly become your family.  You spend late nights and weekends together.  In our case, it was three entire summers and one winter.  We were lucky enough to spend time with Bryce outside of  the YMCA productions, too.  When we were trying to share memories with Aidan on Tuesday evening, it struck me that I had lots of occasions of laughter with Bryce that were maybe not “child appropriate”.

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We sent Bryce flowers when he first went into the hospital.  This is the last time I “spoke” with him – it’s one text I’ll never delete because it makes me smile.

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Bryce was so many things to so many people, and his life was cut much, much too short.  I still can’t wrap my brain around what his loss means to me or to my kids.  Aidan loved Bryce with his whole heart and he slept with me on Tuesday evening – we cried ourselves to sleep.  We will both miss Bryce’s hugs.  Bryce was always ready with a word of encouragement or joke to keep you from taking yourself too seriously.  He encouraged me to sing solo – loud and proud – and always told me that my voice was just fine (even though we ALL know that’s not true!)  I selfishly wonder how I will stay close to my newest theatre friends without a summer performance – and how Aidan and I will manage to step on to a stage again without crying.

Bryce was an amazing person with a huge heart.  I know that I will carry his courage and spirit with me every time I step on a stage –  whether it’s in front of a committee, my students, or an audience.  I hope that I can channel his love, patience, and humor when I work with kids on the stage and off.  I hope that Aidan (and Andrew and Sophie) carry a little piece of Bryce with them as they grow up.

Bryce leaves behind a legacy of friends and children whose lives he touched and didn’t even know it.  At his memorial this evening, it was standing room only in the theatre.  As I struggle with losing my friend, I know his family and those who have loved him far longer than I are struggling even more.   Say some prayers for heaven’s newest angel – and for those of us mourning him.  He leaves behind big shoes to fill, but many people to help fill them.

“When words fail, music speaks”

This has been an emotional, crazy, busy week.  I’m saving the emotional part for it’s own post, but here’s the crazy busy part:Tony starts law school this week at UofL.  On Thursday, he signed his oath.  On Friday, we attended a couple of parties hosted by the law school.  I was old enough to have taught the majority of the first year students in junior high.  I felt like the chaperone.  We were home before 11:00.  I’m old.IMG_0838

Saturday night, we took the kids to the drive-in.  Besides the arguing about who was going to sit where in the back of the van, we had a pretty good time.

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Today marked the first football game of the fall.  The 3rd and 4th graders got new uniforms this year (loving the Notre Dame look!)  Andrew played a great game and had the first four tackles.

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And, I’m caught up again for a day or two.

First Day of School!

We’re off to a great start!  4th grade, 3rd grade, and preschool – and 3rd grade for me this year, as well!  I’ll try to be a better blogger now that our schedule is a little more “normal”.  We are looking forward to lots of wonderful things this year – Tony starting law school, my graduation (fingers crossed), a trip to Disney…all in all a busy year.  Hope your “back to school” is great, too!

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We’ve been absent from the blogging world for a month or more now, but it’s because we’ve just been so darn busy!  School starts back up next week, but we’ve had a wonderful summer.  In the interest of getting caught up, I’m going to share a couple of pictures from everything we’ve done together since June…get ready for a whirlwind tour of our summer vacation!

In June, we had our annual church picnic.  As always, the food was good and visiting friends while helping our parish was priceless.  Each year, the kids and I make several cakes for the cake wheel booth.  Usually, we make a bunch of easy things and then one “masterpiece”.  This year, the main event was a gold fish.  It turned out great, but started melting as soon as we left the house.

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The day after the picnic, we packed up and headed to Tunnel Mill for Cub Scout day camp.  It seems strange to say “pack up” for day camp, but Tony and I were both on staff so our family had the option to camp for the week.  Unfortunately, the weather was quite rainy and stormy, so Sophie and I headed home each night after dinner and returned EARLY each day rather than sleeping in the tent with the guys.  We are blessed to have an awesome camp program in Southern Indiana, including a day camp cabin for siblings who are not scouts, which is where Sophie spent her days.

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Tony and I were in charge of the scientist station for the Webelos, or 4th and 5th graders.  We covered a lot of info so those boys could get many of their requirements knocked out.  One day, we worked on their astronomer requirement and brought in the StarLab.  We put it up in the old dining hall (which we had to clean the ENORMOUS spiders out of first).  It was huge – and a huge hit with the boys.

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At the end of day camp week, I headed out for my annual week volunteering at Hoosier Girls’ State.  This year, we moved from Terre Haute to Angola, Indiana, which is about 4.5 hours from home.  I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as usual, but it was another good session and I received my certificate for 15 years on staff.

By the time I returned from HGS, it was July.  Andrew was selected for the 10 and under All-Star team from Clarksville.  They didn’t win (at all) but I was proud of all of them for their effort and especially proud of Andrew for playing up one age level.

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The fourth of July was rainy and nasty, so we watched Jeffersonville’s annual parade from the back of the van.

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The cub scouts and their ginormous flag were featured on not only the local news, but also picked up by the national news.  It was pretty exciting to see my boys on the CBS evening news!

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Sophie is super excited that our school has opened a new preschool building.  The building is beautiful and offers all sort of great opportunities for our littlest learners.  Best of all, they moved the apple from the old building to the new one!

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The old little apple building looks kind of forlorn, but I’m sure it will be put to good use.  I went to Kindergarten there, and all three kids had the chance to attend at least one year of preschool, so it’s a pretty special building.

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Tony and I went to Gatlinburg this past week for our anniversary.  We had planned to take the trip last year for our 10th anniversary and got on the waiting list for LeCont Lodge, but couldn’t go when our date came up.  Thus, we celebrated our 10th anniversary for our 11th anniversary!  LeConte Lodge is a very special place.  It’s the only lodging in the Smoky Mountain National Park, and it exists because it actually predates the park.  The only way to get there is on foot, and the trails range from 5 miles to 9 miles.  Did I mention the lodge is at the top of Mt. LeConte – elevation 6,593 feet?  There is no electricity at the top of the mountain, so each cabin has kerosene lamps.  Dinner and breakfast are served, and the crew packed us a lunch for the hike down.  I have so much I could write about this trip, but it would take days.  Suffice it to say that we had an amazing time and I’m so proud of both of us for climbing a mountain!  We definitely plan to return and take the kiddos next year (well, maybe not Sophie).  For more information, visit the LeConte Lodge website at http://www.lecontelodge.com.    I’m just posting a few of my very favorite pictures.  If you live nearby, I have printed a photo book that should arrive next week!

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You would think that our trip was the peak of the summer, but there was still some fun left to come.  This weekend, Tony’s sister Erin and our nephew Hunter drove home to visit from Ft. Mitchell, Alabama.  I got to host a baby shower for Erin while they were here, and we were thrilled to spend some time with them since they haven’t been home since Christmas.

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My niece, Gracelyn, should be born in October!  We are so excited!

Andrew played his first travel baseball tournament this weekend as well.  I promised him a mohawk for the occasion, although I personally can’t stand the haircut.  I was going to turn around and buzz it off the same day, but I gave in and let him keep it for scout camp as well.

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That’s right, Andrew and Tony had one more scout camp to attend.  Since Andrew is now a 4th grade Webelos scout, he and his den were able to attend resident camp for 4 days in Clermont, Kentucky.  They just returned today and had a wonderful time!

So, now we’re all caught up – until next week when I need to start posting back to school pictures!

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