Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Not your average Thanksgiving

With about 5 inches of snow on the ground in Ashtabula, it felt a bit more like Christmas than Thanksgiving.  We arrived Wednesday afternoon and were followed shortly by our cousins from Michigan.  It was a loud, wild and crazy and super fun holiday.  There is never a shortage on energy when the 5 cousins are together. 

 Natalie and Olivia are 9 months apart.  Turner and Quinn are 3 months apart and Carter and Turner are 9 months apart.  Needless to say, although we don't see each other but a few times a year, there are declarations of, "You are my best friend" while we are together and rivers of tears shed as we leave.
 Thanksgiving 2013 could be declared, Year of the Horse.  As we arrived in Ashtabula, the kids were greeted by various new horse playthings.  The girls even discovered that Grandma totally splurged and bought them "Saige's Horse" (if you don't know what that means, you probably don't have a girl at home who is totally into American Girl stuff.)
 After we stuffed ourselves full of turkey and creamed onions (confession... I skipped the cream onions!) Grandma and Papa had another surprise for the kids on Friday.  While everyone else was shopping their fool heads off, we bundled up and headed to the stables.  (Honestly, I should have bundled a touch more, I had to go and sit in the van to warm up mid-way through.  I'm tough like that.)
 Grandma and Papa had arranged a riding lesson for the kids.  (A few of the grown ups *might* have saddled up as well.)  Not this cowgirl.  I was too busy warming up in the van. I knew it would be a dream come true for Olivia, but I had no idea how the boys were going to do on a horse.  None of us could believe that all 5 kids had the time of their lives.
By the end of the hour and a half lesson, all 5 of them were comfortable with their horse and even trotted around the arena.  I wish I had a video to post  because each one of my kids reacted in their own special way.  Here were the statements made at the end of the day:

Turner: "I want to help kids learn to ride horses when I'm a grown up."

Quinn: "I want to take more lessons and win lots of stuff."

Olivia: "I'm going pro!"

There you have it.  The year Grandma and Papa created three horse-loving monsters.

Me?  I'm just trying to get the feeling back in my toes!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Caution: deep waters ahead

Over the river and through the woods... in an hour we are headed to Grandma and Papa's house for Koproski Thanksgiving.  To say we are excited is definitely an understatement.  I thought I would make good use of these last few precious moments to sit with a cup of coffee in front of Good Morning America and blog.  Usually I run around like an idiot trying to clean my house.  Not today.  I'll do it when we get back.

It had been a few weeks since Steve and I had gone out on a date, so we called in the troops for babysitting and we headed out to dinner and a movie.  Vietnamese was our taste of the night.  9/10 spicy for me.  I could have used it a touch hotter to be honest. 

We then put on our big kid pants, passed the throngs of crowds waiting for Catching Fire and headed down the road less traveled.  We ducked into theatre 12 and saw 12 Years A Slave.  I'm not even sure how to describe this *based on a true story* film.

A free black man living in New York was kidnapped and taken down to New Orleans where he was sold into slavery.  It was brutal, graphic, gut wrenching.  There were certain flaws and critiques I have of the film, but over all it is a story our nation needs to see.  We need to sit in our seats and be forced to watch the sins of our country.  Feel the pain. Make internal adjustments.  I need to repent of my own sins of prejudice... daily.  I am deeply grieved by the depths of depravity that exist in the human soul. 

I found myself having a hard time falling asleep last night because my mind kept going back to the images.  Some may say it is Hollywood.  I say it is history.  I can't imagine how my African American seatmates experienced this movie so much more deeply than I, and for different reasons. 

I want to search my heart and my life and our country to see where am I (and the Church) are turning a blind eye to injustice?  To sin?  To racism?  I have some ideas.  I need to make some adjustments.  Deep thoughts heading into this week of *Thanksgiving.*  I have a lot to be thankful for, and although they do include comforts, they far exceed those.  At the top of the list is a Savior who has forgiven.  I need this forgiveness at the deepest fiber of my soul.  He has offered redemption.  Hope for change. 

And although I am thankful for my life, I want to make sure I am not resting in comfort.  I want to stay on a course of change for my heart and direction for my life and the life of my family in regard to hard things including issues of diversity, prejudice and racism. 

I am thankful for those who have gone before me and were brave to confront these issues.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Have a great holiday and count your blessings.  They abound!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

6 degrees of separation from Jenny Rapson

Two posts in two days, I know...it's basically a miracle. This morning our family got up early and headed to the mall to walk in a shoeless 5k to help raise money for one of my favorite organizations, Shoes4theshoeless. (They have come two years in a row to my kids' school and given away over 300 pairs of shoes each time.  It's an amazing group founded and directed by a dear friend of mine.)

At the walk, I ran into several people I know.  One of them is a dear friend whom I've known since before Quinn came home from China.  Jenny and her cousin, Emily, are the authors of Mommin' It Up! and they are basically famous!  In addition to being famous and funny, they are some of the most generous, big hearted people I know.
Jenny and her family were part of our small group from church for many years.  When I received my cancer diagnosis, Jenny and Emily went into high gear.  They used their blogger fame to help our family raise the money we needed to hire a nanny while I was in treatment.  We were amazed and humbled by God's use of Mommin' It Up! and their readers to bless us and provide for us.
They are at it again, using their bloggy fame and influence to raise awareness for cancer with the help of Master Card. Check out this post, she was even kind enough to feature my cancer story on her famous blog!  Find out  how you can use your Master Card and as you spend this holiday season, you can kill two birds (or kill a bird and potentially save a cancer patient) with one stone.
It's good to know good people!  And Jenny and Emily are two of them. It would be awesome if you would click over and meet them too and when your done, take your Master Card and tell yourself (or your husband) it's all in the name of giving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blood is not thicker than... blood

This week has been eventful.  I guess every week is eventful in its own way.  Lately, we've been experiencing some unique challenges that may or may not be related to adoption.  These are the weeks I feel incredibly ill-equipped to be a parent.  Frankly, I don't know what the heck I'm doing.  Who let me be in charge?

Most days, Turner and Quinn are two peas in a pod.  Frick and Frack.  Oil and Water?

Quinn has been experiencing some misplaced anger.  (I have responded in turn.  Not some of my finer moments.)

Wednesday night we invited Steve's work team over for dinner.  15 people for dinner.  No big deal.  After 13 of the guests had arrived, Turner and Quinn went from Ninja moves to full out war.  I was not in the room (since I was preparing to serve dinner to 15 people) when I heard *the scream*.  Not the "I'm mad at you and I'm telling" scream but the "I'm bleeding from my face because you just knocked my tooth out of my face" kind of scream. 

Tables were turned and instead of Turner knocking the snot out of Quinn, Quinn had knocked a tooth out of Turner with a Nerf gun.  Nothing says, "Welcome to our house.  C'mon in and relax" like a quart of blood and a tooth on the floor.

If you have kids close in age (or not close in age because perhaps age does not matter) you've probably spent time as a referee rather than parent.  It's just hard to know how to sort out behaviors and emotions with an adopted child. 

There are other particular things going on that make me say, "*HELP*.  I am in deep waters here." It's nothing that screams emergency but a few things do say... "Lady... get yourself some help here!"  Yesterday, I put in an email to the Dr. that helped us out at the International Adoption department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital when Q first came home.  I'm hoping she can direct us to someone who specializes in talking to kids (or maybe more importantly, parents) about their feelings/behaviors.  I can't imagine the deep wounds consciously or unconsciously swirling around.

We have much to be thankful for.  There is lots of hope in our future. We just need to call in some re-enforcements because Mama doesn't know what the heck to do next.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Finding treasure, losing our minds

Our family spent Saturday afternoon doing something fun that we've never tried before.

Geo caching.

Have you heard of it?  It is basically a world-wide treasure hunt.  It was really fun, if not a bit of a crazy maker.

I downloaded the app several months ago, but we had never gotten around to taking an afternoon to try it out.  The idea is that you type in where you are and the app will give you coordinates to a *hidden treasure.*  People have hidden containers (literally) all over the world.  Now with smart phones it is very easy to do with kids, the app will give you where to go to find the treasure.

There are hard to find ones, easy to find ones, some in the city, lots hidden in metro parks etc.  We stuck to easy ones (although we only found 2 of the 4 we were looking for) and ones in the city.  In fact we found one 3 blocks from our house and one at the end of O's friend L's house.  Sometimes in the cache you will find trinkets.  There is usually a paper log where you are suppose to sign in and leave your name and the date of the find.  If there is a treasure in the container, you may take it, as long as you replace it with something at least the worth of the treasure you find.

My kids were in LOVE with this.  In fact they loved it so much they kept wanting to do "just one more."  Which would have been good, except we had already walked about 5 miles hunting around the city for the other four. We took O's good friend from school and it was a really fun activity for all of us to do.  It was extra fun because it was a beautiful day and got us out of the house and walking around our city. 

I have to say, the kids were pretty bummed that we couldn't find the other two.   Sometimes people don't put them back where they are suppose to be, others may find them not knowing they are cache or an animal may move it from where it is suppose to be.  So, my disclaimer is that you may lose your mind with this outing. Sometimes they are just plain hard to find.  (In fact, we are about to go back and try and find one of the two unfound treasures because I'm pretty sure we just over looked it.) 

Something else really fun about Geo caching, you can do it wherever you go.  If you are out of town, you just check in with the app and it will tell you where the nearest find is.  What is crazy is, all of a sudden there is this hidden world that is opened up to us that we never knew existed.  It's kind of fun to drive past the hidden cache in our neighborhood and feel like I'm an insider to a secret.

So, if you are looking for something fun to do on a date night, with your kids or in a new town that you're visiting, I would suggest downloading this fun activity; just be prepared to leave a little part of your mind with each hunt.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A genius idea

Two Ninjas and Albert Einstein in the house! 
What a fun year of trick or treating it was.  Our cousin, Nick, drove down from Columbus to join in the festivities and our good friends, Kristina and A.J. walked around with us too. 

Trick or treat was soggy but fun this year.  Lots of talk about postponing trick or treat around here. 


 Are you kidding me?  Back when I was little, we had to earn our candy!  I remember several years wearing a snow suit over my costume.  Not that it actually every snowed enough to warrant wearing a snow suit, but it was cold!  And no one ever dared mention a trick or treat postponement.

 And oh my word, I can't even imagine the bigger storm that would have hit my house if my sugar addicts had been asked to wait another day to collect their loot.  Have mercy! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

seasons change

You  know it's been way too long since your last blog post when you can't exactly remember your password to get into your account.

Obviously, I remembered it. 

Summer has turned to fall. 

One month (plus).  Oops.  Things around here have been hopping.  We finished up soccer season.  The Diamond Back Sneaky Snakes (aka known as "Go Red!"- because, honestly, the other team has scored a point by the time you get "Go, Diamond Back Sneaky Snakes!" out of your mouth) won the league championships.

I had my chemo port removed.

Grandma and Papa came and went, we've been to their house and back and I spent 4 nights in Atlanta, Ga for work while Steve held down the fort.  I heard they may have gone out to eat a *few* times.

All is well here.  We are gearing up for Trick or Treat in a few days and I have 2 Ninjas and an Albert Einstein.  Pictures to follow later in the week.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Clowns scare me

Quinn had his six week post-op appointment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  There is a smaller satellite campus that is only about 40 minutes from our house (opposed to the one hour + main campus.)  Its a really nice little hospital.

This is the appointment where the surgeon gives Quinn the all clear to start up his normal activities like soccer... (oops, he's been playing since 2 weeks after surgery) and swimming (didn't even last a week after surgery for that one) and a removal from his meds (which he was caught pouring down the drain 3 weeks ago.)  So pretty much, this appointment was more to reveal how bad I stink at this whole care giver/parenting thing.  AS IF I need another reminder.

Our appointment was at 10:15.  So after dropping the other two off at school we busted our tails down to the hospital to check in *15 minutes before the scheduled appointment.*  The paper work said we were suppose to.  And I follow the rules.

Quinn was really happy to watch Doc McStuffins and meet Ronald McDonald, who apparently does rounds at the Children's Hospital.  Clever Mickey D's! Guess who got badgered into buying a Happy Meal after our visit?  Yep, this mom, that's who.

We stepped back into our examination room 20 minutes after our scheduled appointment time.  45 minutes after THAT I finally poked my head out the door to find out how much longer they thought it would be.  "Oh, we have not forgotten about you.  The doctor is running a bit behind."  Oh, DO YOU THINK??!!  15 Minutes after THAT another nurse popped her head in to tell us that she was really sorry and that we *should be* next.  Either we are or we are not.  I managed not to get huffy, but I did ask if there was any way we could get a book or a game or SOMETHING.  (You can only do so much thumb wrestling before your hand goes numb.) 

Seriously, there was a dang circus (literally!  There was a clown for goodness sakes) going on 30 feet from where we are sitting with the door closed for over an hour, but inside our room- not a book, not a game, not a TV... nothing.  My blood started to boil.  Not necessarily because we were waiting for so long (seriously, Quinn was not in a rush to get his school day going and I had cleared my schedule) but it was more the principle of the thing.  I busted my buns to be there early, we waited patiently, I paid a $50 co-pay.  The least they could have done was let us know on the front end we would be waiting.  Or had us sit in the lobby.  Or allowed us to get a snack.  Or let me ram my head into a brick wall.  Whatever.

Then, I found out the doctor was held up because of a procedure and it dawned on me.  There was a kid down the hall, scared, in pain, parents potentially afraid and here I am whining about ME.  Ugh.  I prayed for the child, his/her family.  People I won't ever meet.  My selfishness can drag me down sometimes.

An hour and a half later (after a 5 minute visit with the surgeon) we were sent on our happy way.  All is well.  Surgery was a success.  Quinn is healthy, beautiful and has a bright future in orthodontics ahead of him.  We are one Happy Meal toy richer and an hour and a half poorer.  But a trip to Children's Hospital always reminds you, it could be worse, so be thankful for what you have!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Good for the soul

It was a sweltering week here.  I loved every sweat-dripping-down-the-middle-of-my-back-moment.  I'm trying to soak it up, because before I know it, I'm going to have a chill in my bones that I won't be able to shake until May. 

We are enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning at home.  It is a rare occasion.  Really rare.  At 11:15 we begin the craziness, though.  Drop Turner at a friend's house for a play date, arrive at soccer field for Olivia's noon game, chase down Quinn's buddy who is also hanging around the field for his brother's game.  Make sure the two of them don't beat each other while trying to NOT make a fool out of myself while cheering for the Sneaky Snakes.  Easy Peasy.

We are still recovering from last weekend's three ring circus.  Maybe even a four ringer, since  my aunt and uncle (from Arizona) were in town.  We get to see them about twice a year, although we went a really long year and half stretch before seeing them last weekend.  So, naturally, we had to cram their visit full of our madness.  Soccer games, festivals, food truck rally, Buckeye game, laughing, crying, snuggling etc.  It was a magical weekend.

A particular highlight for me was late Saturday afternoon.  After all the crazy running around and fun having that we did Friday night and Saturday morning, my Aunt, Olivia and I spent time snuggling on the couch talking.  We spent nearly an hour telling Olivia stories about when I was little and when my aunt and my mom were little.  It was so special.  O was so dialed in and hanging on my aunt's words.  They are stories we don't discuss often enough.  With my mom passing when Olivia was three and a half, she has vague memories of Bebe but it is so important to me that she gets to know her through stories.

It also unleashed a part of me that I rarely realize needs unleashing.  Being an only child and having both parents gone, there is NO ONE to talk childhood with.  I know that having siblings does not guarantee reminiscing.  Siblings to not guarantee laughs, tears or history sharing.  I imagine they would, at least, provide a sense of connection to a part of life that perhaps no one else knows.  I could be wrong.  But I don't not have that.  If I stop long enough and dwell hard enough, it could be a very lonely, very sad place.  So I don't stop there. 

However, on the rare occasion of visiting with my aunt, I find that piece of history that I need accessed.  Places in my mind and heart I have not gone in years.  My grandmother's candy dish, her freezer full of ice cream sandwiches, my mom's sense of humor, her homemade mac 'n cheese, what she was like before her illnesses and her amputation.  Family.  History.  Me.

My heart was beyond full as we three generations sat on the couch.  A mixed kind of fullness- full of joy for a visit from my mom's sister- an extension of my mother's love, full of gratefulness as she loved me and my daughter and gave of her time, love and stories, full of sadness and grief as I would give anything to have my mom snuggled next to the three of us giving her version of the stories.  Full of family and love and emotion, full of openness to those things that I sometimes find myself closing off to in order to avoid, in order to *move on*, in order to live. 

Full.  Its a good place to be.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Save the Whoo-Haas

Is it really September 3rd already?  We had a great Labor Day weekend around here.  It was filled with lots of swimming and outdoor fun.  It was super hot and muggy which made for a great way to *close out* summer.  I find Labor Day to be a bit of a depressing holiday.  Mostly because I'm sad to see summer go. 

Here is another fact about September that snuck up on me... it is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  This is something in the past two Septembers I have distanced myself from.  Largely due to the fact that most cancer-related things make me hyperventilate.  I'm not super fond of calling myself a *survivor*.  It is an odd identity.  Ovarian Cancer doesn't generate the cute bumper stickers (Save the Tatas and Fight Like a Girl come to my mind.)  Save the Whoo-Haas doesn't have the same ring, and teal isn't nearly as flattering for everyone as pink. 
 However, I did think it fitting that September will be the month that my port will be removed.  National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month...

My port is a little bumpy triangular thing that sticks out just to the right of my left armpit.  It was surgically implanted in February of 2010.  It will be surgically removed September 2013.  It doesn't hurt (although Turner rammed it with his head just last week and I have to say, it knocked the wind out of me) and unless you were looking, you may not even notice it.  But I know it is there.  It is the place where they took blood, infused poison and hooked up I.V's for several years.  Now I'll have to *get stuck* like a normal person.  I am thankful to have had a port during the worst of the worst, but I will not shed a tear as it is removed!

As September arrives, I'm not sure what my part as a *survivor* would be.  To re-tell my story of how I came upon my diagnosis?  Maybe.  And perhaps over the next few weeks I will.  I am not convinced that will help anyone else.  I don't love talking about my chemo, my diagnosis, my baldness, my weakness.  But I do LOVE to remember God's healing power, the generosity of others, the way my neighbors surrounded me with love and care.  I MUST remember how I needed to cling to God with every fiber of my being, how good my friends were to me, how amazing my husband's sacrifices were for me.  I am humbled and grateful for the amazing care of my oncologist, Dr. Tom Reid and the nurses that were gentle and caring.  It is a time of my life I would prefer to forget, but a time in my life that MUST be reflected on.  It changed my life... forever.

In a lot of really hard ways, but in so many ways that could have only happened through cancer.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing me today.  I am grateful for another September.  I hope I really am living out "Taste and see that the Lord is good." 
 Because He is.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The re-invention of me

I started this blog just about 5 years ago.  Weird.  We had just started the adoption process for Quinn, Turner was a baby, Olivia wasn't in school yet.  My parents' health wasn't great but both were stable. I worked on campus at the University of Dayton in a most part-time yet fulfilling way. 

A few short years, LIFE happened.  The storm came out of nowhere.  It engulfed my life.  It nearly overwhelmed me.  One blow after another after another.  Relentless.  Consuming.  It chewed me up and spit me out. 

Life changes; sometime in an instant, sometimes gradually, sometimes both at the same time.

Today, Quinn has been home for 4 years, all three of my kids are in school for 8 hours a day.  My parents (whom inspired me to start the blog) are gone.  I volunteer at the kids' school 8 hours a week and am on the PTA officer team.  I am on the verge of finding my place within ministering outside of my home once again with our employing organization, Athletes in Action. 

My kids on the soccer team, involved in gymnastics, about to start theatre class and stalling to do their home work. 

I feel as though I am entering a new stage of life.  A stage where my kids begin to have their own lives.  Their own identities.

My identity seems to be re-shaping once again, as well.  Have I mentioned that I don't care too much for change? However, strangely enough, I do believe I am embracing the new and different.

I am enjoying where life is leading these days.  I am trying to choose carefully where I am headed.  What I say "yes" to, what I say "no" to.  So far these days, my "yeses" are life giving. 

I am in a season where I am trying to focus on all that I have to be grateful for.  It is SO MUCH.  Aside from the obvious: a great family, a home to live in, a head of hair, clean water to drink, another day to live etc.  I have been overwhelmed lately with the EXTRAS that seem to be overflowing.

My port comes out on Sept. 20th (FYI I have continued to live with my chest port that was used to infuse my chemo drugs.  I guess in some ways I've been viewing it as a *lucky rabbits foot*)  It is time to trust God in a tangible way.  A nurse called this a *celebratory* surgery.  She indicated that this is a surgery they don't get to do all that often.  I am grateful.

I am grateful for how the Lord is exciting my heart about life; about making an impact where He has me.  At my kids' school, in our organization, in the lives of friends and neighbors.  It is time to get my eyes off myself and begin to serve again.  Not just serve with my time but with my talents and my heart.  Gratitude brings joy which enables me to ENJOY my life.  I am grateful.

I have much be thankful for.  It's crazy (and probably good) how we have no idea what the future holds.  If I would have known all that would go on 5 years ago when I started up this blog, I may have run away from my life.

But God is good. 
He has carried me.  He IS carrying me. 
I am grateful.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The night I became a soccer mom

Last night Steve was working and Olivia had her second soccer game of the season.  This is her first soccer season where I feel like she is actually playing soccer.  As in they are playing on a full size field, have refs, full length quarters, follow actual rules and keep score.  (Up until now it's basically been semi-organized chaos that sometimes involves kicking a ball, but usually not.)

We've had practices for a few weeks now.  I'll be honest, the practices did not leave me with a lot of hope for my daughter's future in soccer.  Too many bugs.  Too hot.  Too much running.  Headache.  Cramp in the side.  Coach yelling.  Liking to be goalie because there's not much running.  Stuff like that.

Until last night.  It happened.  My daughter became a machine.  She scored the first goal of the game.  And it wasn't on accident.  It was because she dribbled it down the field.  She was aggressive and unafraid.  By the end of the game she was a sweat ball.  Her face was beet red because she ran her guts out.  She wasn't afraid to go after the biggest  most aggressive kid on the other team.  She saw openings and played them.  She talked with her teammates about strategy.  I was like, "What the???"  I know everyone thinks their kid is amazing.  Mine actually was!  And she looked like a dang college student out there.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

Something snapped in me too.  I was hooting and hollering and yelling things like, "Go, Red!"  And "Alright, Juan, turn it around now."  Even, "Take it to the goal, Esteban."  Seriously, before last night I didn't even know you were suppose to "take it to the goal." 

I actually said out loud- to nobody- "This is so much FUN."  All the while, my two boys were off playing with sticks in a sketchy wooded area near a running river and I didn't even worry about it.  I was focused on the game.  I used to judge parents who just focused on their kids' sporting events while the little ones hot wired cars in the parking lot and ran wild through the woods with sharp sticks.  (For real, I need to keep a list of the *I'll nevers* that I've broken in the past 7+ years.)  Now all I can say is, "Turn it around, Juan!"

I was super sad that Steve was working and missed his daughter's first goal.  But something tells me there will be a *few more* sporting events in our future. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Unusual co-operation

We had our first day back to school last Thursday. 

It was a good day.  Although it was August 15th (which in the *olden days* was still summer vacation) my internal body clock said it was time to go back.  And so did the weather.  The dog days forgot to come this year.  And I'm sad about that.  I really love those dogs.  I know, I'm weird.

It was so chilly, my kids wore jackets.  Which was probably good, since I wasn't ready to wage the war of, "But you HAVE to wear this on your first day of Kindergarten, boys."  So I didn't.  And they went off to their first full day of school looking like ragamuffins.

But they did agree to hold a sign. 

And in the age of blogs and Pinterest, I'm pretty sure holding a sign declaring it is your first/last day of any significant milestone in life is a requirement.  Check.

She agreed to hold the sign too.

Which is a good thing, because uh, oh!  Look what I'm in for:

I'm having a flash to a bit of teenage sas!  Are these shots the cutest?!  I love the beautiful, confident smile of my second grader.  I want to hold tight of this sweet thing as long as I can.  - As long as it's after 3:35 M-F and most hours on the weekend.

I have to say, I was able to get more accomplished Thursday and Friday while they were in school than I have since May 31.  We had a magical summer and I can't think of any way I would have rather spent our summer months.  But the magic was beginning to sour (knives, people!  They were armed and dangerous just the other day.)

You may agree, by the end of summer this is how we all feel:

And we will do it all over again tomorrow morning.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Why my life is NOT a reality TV show

Everyone has a double-edged sword in their life. 

Ours is the apartment that is the rental unit attached to our house.  When we bought this house, the only way we could afford the house was the fact that the back 1/4 of the house is a one and a half bedroom apartment that we are able to rent out.  The rent pays for 1/2 of the mortgage.  When we bought the house it came with an existing tenant.  It was no big deal when we were newly married and had no kids of our own.

However, one slight hiccup is that home renovations are not our *thing.*  Well, smooth move X-lax, for buying a house in an Historic District where the houses are a little bit old.  Thus the Historic part of the District.  And when you buy a house that also has an historic apartment under the same roof, renovations soon become your *thing.* 

Over the years we have had great tenants and not such great tenants.  I won't go into the details because they involve things like legal eviction, 200 nail holes in the walls, chicken bones down the garbage disposal, scorched ovens and 2 dogs and 3 cats at one time by a lady who was only allowed one dog (she may have also been the one that was evicted... just sayin').

We mostly enjoyed our last tenant and we were really thankful for him.  He paid the rent on time and had a slight hearing loss, which was nice since his bedroom wall shared a bedroom wall with the boys' bedroom.  They are occasionally noisy.

Unfortunately, he moved out at the end of July.  It was especially unfortunate because upon his departure we were left with some major renovations (and cleaning) on our hands.  My sweet and hard working husband has been burning the candle at both ends trying to turn this apartment around.  I've helped here and there but honestly while the kids were still home from school, I could barely tinkle in private, let alone get major work done next door.  We were also able to hire our good friend who is very talented in the work of construction.  I don't know what we would have done without his help.

Thankfully, with the kids being back in school, I was able to spend some time yesterday and today cleaning and clearing the last of the stuff out of the way in order to begin showing it to interested renters. 

We have had a shop vac for years but it has kind of always been on its last leg.  I would get it out for the quarterly vacuum of the car when I could no longer stand wading through gold fish and French fries in the back seat.  With the onset of this apartment turn over, Steve bit the bullet and went out and bought a new one.

I'm telling you, this shop vac has changed my life.  It is so fresh and new and full of power and suck, I'm practically giddy.  I was shop vacing everything that got in my way today.  The back porch had tons of saw dust from where our friend was doing work for the flooring.  I got the vac out and the porch was tidier than I've ever seen it.  I did not stop there, no sir!  There are some cracks and crevices on our bricks and walkway that tend to collect debris that I can't seem to get up with the broom. Yep, I was literally vacuuming the sidewalk.  I was in a shop vac frenzy.  If it was in my way, I was sucking it up.  At one point, I was actually laughing at myself because I had gone crazy.  I may never bend my lazy buns over to pick up another thing in my life.  I don't have to, now I can just shop vac it away. 

So, that's how I've been spending my first two days of freedom.  Not exactly the plans I had dreamed of a few weeks ago, but that's OK.  Sometimes life just sucks.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What a way to go out

The grand finale of our summer travels.  We went to Pure Michigan.  I have to say, Tim Allen's voice ran through my mind pretty much the whole time we were visiting. 
Steve's brother and his family live in Northern Michigan, so we thought the perfect way to end our magical summer would be with one more, really long car trip. Grandma and Papa met us up there too.  The only ones missing were Steve's sister and her finance (but don't feel too bad for her, she couldn't come because she was on a girls' getaway down in Key West.)
 I have to say, it was worth it.  We started off at their house for two nights.  The biggest blast was watching the 5 cousins play and run and laugh and fight (but just a little.) 
Friday morning, we hopped in cars and headed about an hour and a half to Mackinac City. Uncle's Scott's friend's parents have a vacation house that they graciously allowed us to stay in.  From there we had a view of the Lake and of the Mackinac Bridge (the 4th largest suspension bridge in the world, btw.)
Saturday morning we grabbed a ferry over to Mackinac Island.  We shopped, ate, had a horse and carriage tour of the island, sampled fudge and enjoyed the most gorgeous day you have ever seen.  Seriously, if the wind had been just a tad less, it would have been utter perfection.  I wanted to hit pause on the day.
Yesterday morning we packed up our van (hopefully for the last time for a while) and headed home.  What should have taken about 7 hours took 11.  The traffic was bad, but we also decided "what difference does it make?" to get home at 7:30 or 10:30.  That is not how we normally operate.  So, we stopped and saw some dear friends in Ann Arbor, stopped for a more leisurely dinner and just didn't get all crazy about getting home.  It was nice. 
Now it is Monday  morning.  It is nearly 10, my kids are still in jammies.  We have stuff to do.  And we will get it done.  But the writing is on the wall.  Thursday it's back to business.  (I keep calling it the day of reckoning.)  I'm not ready for summer's freedom to end.  I do invite the structure of school and the other opportunities that the school year brings.  So my emotions are mixed as we begin our week. 
But first, laundry.  Mountains and mountains of laundry.  Vacation over!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's like 10,00 spoons

School starts for my three in 8 days.  Perhaps not a day too soon. 

Yesterday I had some business to do on the phone.  Real business, not just the,"I want to talk to Susie/Sally/Amy/my Aunt/Steve's mom on the phone" kind of business.  And since my kids have this weird radar/sixth sense/evil plot to ruin my life while I'm on the phone thing going on, I quietly snuck up to my bedroom and locked the door.  (Mature moment of the day #1)

As I was on hold with the electric company (don't ask) I began hearing blood curdling screams- which are basically white noise to me these days. I heard a door slam.  Then I heard the hysterics change from indoor shrieks to outdoor shrieks.  Still locked in my bedroom but finally actually conducting business, I was trapped.

Vectren finally finished being oh so helpful and when I got downstairs, Olivia was in high drama and she and Turner ran inside with the screen door slamming behind them.  Each one armed with  KNIVES.  (OK, so they were butter knives, but STILL.)  What, are they insane??? 

There are a lot of bad habits that I know they get from me:  Rolling of the eyes.  Mine.  Sighing.  Mine.  Even an occasional "Stop it." But I can assure you- chasing people with butter knives is not one of them.  What did they think was going to happen anyway?  Were they going to butter each other up and have breakfast?

They were each sent to their rooms.  Quinn was *for once* asked to do what he does best, tattle.  I got the scoop from the only sane person in the house at that time.  Cool as a cucumber, he rattled through the account.  Seems it really does take two to tango (and to go all Freddy Kruger on your sibling.)

After I semi-calmly lectured each of them individually (like the mature adult that I am) about how if someone driving through the neighborhood would have seen them doing what they were doing they would have called the police.  Not only would both of them be in trouble but so would daddy and I.  Turner's big question was what would happen to Quinn if we were all in jail?  Olivia just looked at me like a deer in headlights.  A fine parenting moment; I'm not proud.

So if for no other reason, we need school to begin so that Quinn doesn't have to hold down the fort by himself, with no clean knives left to butter his bread with.  THAT would be tragic.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Florence Nightengale, at your service

All is well.  Quinn came through with flying colors.  It was suppose to be a 3 hour surgery and it only took about 2 hours.  They were able to *pop* the new bone right in the gap in his gum line (sounds gross to me.)  The surgeon was pleased because the cadaver bone worked and they didn't need to remove any of Quinn's own hip bone (which honestly, I didn't know was plan b.  I'm glad I didn't know that... it would have caused me increased stress yesterday.)

I was able to be with him in the recovery room as he woke up from the anesthesia.  Steve stayed out in the waiting room with the other two.  Thankfully, Children's  Hospital caters to children.  The other two were fully entertained while we were waiting.  Because everything went so well, we ended up being discharged straight away.  We were home and pumping Quinn full of Popsicles by 2:00.

Poor guy really took a beating.  All was so smooth until it was time for him to take his medicine.  He will be on penicillin for the next 6 weeks.  (4 times a day for six weeks is a really long time.)  He put up the biggest fight you've ever seen.  He REFUSED to take his medicine.  Boy, there was a year's worth of sermon illustrations in our evening last night.

He protested so hard and so long he finally threw up all the medicine we eventually got in him.  It was unbelievable.  It was such a horrible scene, even Olivia and Turner made themselves scarce.  The evening ended with Steve and I fighting, Quinn screaming, crying and barfing.  We ARE the epitome of grace under pressure.  Except that we are not.

Surprisingly, in spite of having his face ripped open and new bone shoved in a gap in his face, the kid slept soundly through the night.  Not a peep until 7:30 this morning.  He was definitely blessed with the gift of sleep.  And, apparently, pain tolerance.  Because in addition to his penicillin, he also refused to take any kind of Tylenol.  Crazy!

Because I don't use my brain, I hadn't really put two and two together to realize that this six week recovery means no soccer season for him.  Which is a bummer.  Especially since we just went out and bought him cleats.  But I guess a ball to the face right after reconstruction surgery would not be wise. It wouldn't probably be so sad if the other two kids weren't playing, or if Steve wasn't already signed up to be the coach.  Oops. 

So this is how we will round out our summer vacation.

At least it will be full of Popsicles.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Two is better than four

Friday was an exciting day.  I received a demotion.

It was my quarterly Oncologist appointment. It was also the first time that I didn't drive myself crazy imagining stuff growing in my body.  A small victory in and of itself.  Scans were all clear, cancer numbers were awesome and they let me know that I am now switching to an every six month check up schedule.  Twice a year.  Only going in to that office two times a year seems like such a treat.  I'll get a scan each time and blood drawn and that will be that.  Demotion? Yes, please!

I also made an appointment today to see the surgeon regarding the removal of my port.  My port was installed (is that the right term?) February of 2011.  It doesn't bother me, but it also doesn't always work and is no longer necessary.  So... it's coming out.  Hurray.

Also on the medical front, tomorrow,  Quinn will go in first thing in the morning for surgery.  This is the last stop (as far as we know) on the surgical train for his cleft lip situation.  His lip has been repaired but there is a small cleft in his gum line that will be fixed tomorrow.  The doctor will take some bone from a cadaver and fill in the gap.  It is suppose to be a shorter surgery and hopefully he will come home tomorrow night... depending how recovery goes.

He will need to be on an anti-biotic for the next six weeks.  This is the part that both he and I are least looking forward to.  It's a fight to get Tylenol in him, this is going to be a six week fight.  He's already begun the protests.

It's crazy that four years ago last week we met him.  Now (hopefully) the final step in his medical journey will be complete.  I'm thankful for his cleft lip.  I'm guessing if it hadn't been for that, we would not have him in our family.  And life would just not be the same.

Here is a Quinn quote to close us out for the day :

Turner : "How many Siri's are there?"  (The lady on my iphone who tells me all I need to know in life.)

Quinn: "There is only one Siri.  But she is EVERYWHERE!!!"


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Time flies when you're never home

My kids go back to school three weeks from today.  WHAT?!?! 

I know I talk a big game about having a break from the kiddos, but around here, we have not had nearly enough family home time for me to even be sick of them yet.

We just got home Tuesday evening from a two week road trip to Colorado.  (Six of those days were spent in the car getting to and from Ft. Collins, CO.)  I know, and I'm STILL sad they have to go back to school in two weeks.

40 total hours in the van with the family and I'm still speaking to all of them.  Although it was touch and go for about 2 hours on the way there with Steve.  And at that point we were only 70 miles into the trip.  We, however, rallied.

Colorado was amazing.  It was a conference for work.  Therefore, it was work.  But the kids spent six days in a kids camp and they had a ball.  The weather was close to perfect.  We stayed in a VBRO house that was perfect for our family.  I ate all kinds of deliciousness. I saw some old and very dear friends.  It was a fabulous trip.

In the next three weeks we have a lot coming up.  In addition to the back to school nuttiness, Quinn has a small surgery a week from today.  He will have a small cleft in his gum line fused with some bone from a cadaver.  It should be a *simple* surgery and will be crucial in his dental future.  It was now or later.  We choose now.

Several days after surgery we will pack the care one more time and head to Northern Michigan.  Steve's brother, sister in law and their 2 kids are up there.  We need some cousin fun (and another 7 hour van ride) to round out our summer.  Three days after that, all three of my kids will begin a full day of school.  The boys in kindergarten and Olivia in 2nd grade. 

Whew.  Summer, you go too fast!  Take a cue from Winter and stay around a little longer, please!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The gift that keeps on giving

Sometimes I feel so blessed I'm almost embarrassed.  Such is true with these three friends.

Sally- someone I have known for going on 18 years.  Our lives have mostly intersected for the past 11, though.  She is kind, funny, gracious, honest, loyal, generous and long-suffering. We have walked through most of the significant life-stages together.  Engagement, newlywed, motherhood and soon we will share adoption as they prepare to bring home their son from China.

Amy- I met her when Steve and I were dating.  Her husband and Steve have been friends since college.  She is one of the most roll-with-it people I know.  She is such a good mom and an example to me of how to love your husband and kids well.  She has been there for me during all of my crisis over the past few years.  I can be 100% real with her.

Susie- we've known each other for a long time, but we started being really good friends about 5 years ago.  We had just brought Quinn home from China and they were getting ready to bring their son home from Rwanda  She is my spontaneous friend.  I have been able to count on her for any spur of the moment social/kid/mom emergency needs.  She makes me laugh.  We have supported each other through our bouts with cancer.  (There are not a lot of friends you can say that about.  I would have rather supported each other through something else...)  She and her family of six are getting ready to move to Brazil for three years.  I can't even talk about it because it hurts too much.  The only silver lining I can see in this deal is a potential trip to Brazil?

These are girls, that for this only child, I would seriously call sisters.

When you are 41 years old it feels weird talking about your *best friends* (isn't that so 3rd grade?) but they are. 

Being moms of 13 kids between us (with # 14 on the way from China) there are not nearly enough uninterrupted conversations, (coincidentally, our kids have all known each other from birth and in a way they are each others *cousins.*) not enough time to see movies together and we certainly don't go shopping together.  So for my birthday, Steve sent the 4 of us to a bed & breakfast for a night.

We sat on a porch and talked, we went to lunch - and talked, we went shopping - and talked, we stayed up until 1 am - and talked.  We caught a movie ( we only talked a touch during) but we talked all the way home from our trip.

My friendship with these women is magical.  We are all very different.  I'm sure I bug them to no end and we've had to work through some conflict here and there.  I know that their friendship is a gift.  I don't take it for granted.  I hope we grow old together.  My husband did an amazing job arranging the perfect birthday gift for me. 

Good luck topping this one, buddy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

summer dreamin'

Yesterday we were driving to the YMCA.  Here was the conversation:

Olivia: "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be on Wipeout."

Quinn: "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a babysitter."

Me to both of them: "Wow.  That's cool." (Sheesh, every parent's dream.)

Quinn: "Olivia, being a babysitter is waaaay safer than being on Wipeout.  Plus it would hurt less."

Olivia: "Yeah.  Except this arm is practically double jointed.  So I don't think Wipeout would hurt THAT much."

And this is what summer vacation is doing to my family.  I guess this was a good reminder not to put all your retirement eggs and dreams in your children's future.  (Unless of course Olivia goes on to win the $50,000 grand prize.) 

As for Quinn, I'm sure he'd make an excellent babysitter- as long as the kids do exactly what he says, when he says it and they follow the rules 100%.  (He's a touch controlling, that one.)

Turner's silence from the discussion was duly noted. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home again, home again,

We're baaack!

We arrived back in Dayton Saturday night.  After a long and nearly perfect travel day (we had one barfer.  Quinn got airsick on our decent into Denver at the end of our first leg.  Poor guy, he may never eat another Cheez-it again in his life.  Which, if you know him, would be tragic.)  We were happy to sleep in our own beds last night.

It was a bittersweet leaving of LA.  The kids had grown attached to friends, we had grown attached to the kids we worked with at our ministry sight.  Our family had grown attached to the others we shared our unique experience with over the past three weeks.  The FIJI house had also grown attached to the bottom of Turner's feet (which were permanently and disgustingly black over the last three weeks.)  This leads me to assume that the FIJI's do NOT regularly clean their house.  Which also leads me to want to vomit if I think too long on that.  Therefore, my own home has never looked, smelled or been cleaner to me in my life.  I am thankful!

There are more pictures, stories and reflections to come.  Our schedule (which most days began at 6 am and ended at 10 pm) ended up being much more grueling than I had anticipated.  I hoped to have more frequent updates here, but I was literally burning the candle at both ends.  We now have about 2 and a half weeks before we load up the van and head back out west. This time to Colorado for about 2 weeks of training for work.  It's just *one of those summers.*  I know, poor us, right?!

But for the next 2 weeks we are going to squeeze some good 'ole summer fun out of life!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Sweet Steve began his Father's Day with a 7:00 wake up call.  When you are all five on air mattresses in a dorm room, the wake up calls come fast and furious.  

We had a fun evening out last night.  We had our first evening off in a few days.  So we loaded up in our van and headed to the Universal Studio City Walk.  We enjoyed some shopping, street entertainment and a delicious meal.  It was nice to be with just the five of us.

Although life at the Fiji house is a ton of fun.  The kids are having a blast with the college students.  

 During our days we join the college students at their ministry sites.  Our family spent the day at three different locations around the city, trying to find the best fit for us.  One day we were at a church that serves the homeless on Skid Row.  We spent several hours sorting a donations closet.  Olivia had tons of fun, but it was a bit *challenging* to focus the boys.  So we thought we would try our hand at a different site.

The next day we ended up at a community center for a housing project called Ramona Gardens.  It is largely an Hispanic population.  There we spent time in a gym that was populated mostly by young adults and some teens.  It still didn't feel like a perfect fit.  However, we did visit this ice cream truck on steroids!!!  It was Quinn's dream come true.  I'm thinking he now has vision for his future.

The third day we found a place that was *just right*.  We will be spending this week in Pasadena at a community center for a housing project called Community Arms.  It is one of the most beautiful housing projects I've ever seen.  We will be running some day camps where there will be crafts, games and even swimming.  Our kids will be able to hop in with the other kids.  I am truly thankful that our kids are so adaptable.  They were able to make some friends with the kids on the playground and are looking forward to going back tomorrow.

I am thankful for the school experience they have back in Dayton.  I feel like my kids are able to hop into friendships and play well with kids from all different kinds of back grounds because that is what they do on a daily basis at River's Edge Montessori.  

And this is what it looks like at the end of the day around here.  We have been going long and hard!  

I have to say, these are not the first people to pass out in the Fiji house, and the probably won't be the last!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Post cards from LA

 The other day our group split up into teams and we had a scavenger hunt around LA.  Olivia and I, along with a few others in our group, raced against Steve and the boys.  There were about 10 places on the list to hit and the team with the most amount of places visited won.

Well, our group didn't quite win.  We got a bit hung up on Rodeo Drive.  (Olivia decided she would like to have this as her wedding dress.  Duh.  Vera Wang!)

What was really crazy was the fact that 5 hours earlier we were at church on Skid Row.  And by Skid Row, I mean actual Skid Row.  (Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles and all concerned family and friends... we were PERFECTLY safe.)  

Our family was also able to head to Chinatown for a few hours the other day.  It was a good time.  The kids were thrilled to have a chance to spend their cash.  The boys bought Num Chucks.  Awesome.  That was a daddy-approved decision.

The weather has been picture perfect.  The kids are having a blast.  I'm exhausted.  Pretty much, our family is having the time of our lives!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Which came first... the chicken or the ...waffle??

My morning began at 5:50.  I hit the shower by 6:00 and Quinn and I were out the door at 6:35 for a Starbucks run.  When we are at home Quinn is an early riser.  But the rule at our house is that you're not allowed out of bed until the clock reads seven zero zero.  Well... when you're all crammed in a room together - it does NOT matter what time the clock says!  This mama is getting up.  The other three managed to sleep a touch longer.

We had meetings again today while the kids (all 10 of them) played well together.  I took the kids out to play around 3:00 and there was not a cloud in the sky.  The weather was a perfect 72 degrees.  And I may have wondered out loud why the heck I live in Ohio!

Our group piled into some vans this evening and headed to a place called Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.  Apparently the thing to do out here is eat your waffle with a big 'ole piece of fried chicken on top.  Honestly, that just didn't sound too appealing to me.  However, the rice and beans with a half a bottle of hot sauce sure did.  And that's what I ate.  I tried a taste of the waffle with chicken.  Meh.  I'll stick with my super spicy rice and beans.

We have one more day until nearly 30 college athletes from all over the country arrive.  Many preparations are going into their arrival.  I am so excited for them.

It was 19 years ago almost to the day that I was a fresh college graduate heading into New York City for a very similar experience.  It changed my life.  And I'm not even being dramatic.  It is fun to imagine which students' lives are about to be changed forever.  They have no idea!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Totally awesome, dude

 I think it is fair to say that our family is having an AMAZING time so far.  This week is a time for the people staffing this missions trip to get things ready.  It is super busy and there is a lot of work to do, but there has also been a good deal of family time too. (The kids look super busy, don't they?)

Our family had a few hours of free time this afternoon so we hopped in the van and headed over to the Santa Monica Pier.  The kids had a super fun time running around and playing.  It was rather quiet on the beach, but we were able to do some fun people watching.

After studying the older guys very carefully, Turner figured out how to do some amazing stunts on the rings at the beach.  
 He was actually quite impressive.  I could people watch all day over there.

Life at the frat house is a zoo.  Once all of the college students arrive on Saturday there will be over 50 people living here.  This is a picture of the kids table at lunch.  My kids are in heaven.  The three other families here with us are great.  They play hide and seek, have dance parties and play a few video games.  I know it's only been two days and there is serious potential for some historic meltdowns; but there are some glorious memories being made as well.

One of my favorite parts of life so far have been some cut throat UNO games between Quinn and a few of the 20 something staff guys.  One of his favorite challenge lines has been, "I'm gonna take you down.  Down to losing town!  Population... ONE."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Flying the friendly skies

Here I am. Laying on an air mattress in the Fiji house.  My kids are 2 feet away from me.  Good times.

The trip went well.  Except when Olivia spilled ketchup all over her dress.  Before we even reached our gate.  In Dayton.  And except when we didn't have seats next to each other on the big flight from Chicago to L.A.  And no one wanted to switch with us.  Except one nice guy.

Which is okay, since the other guy who didn't want to switch seats had to endure 40 minutes of Turner explaining every in and out of Temple Run.  And Temple Run 2.  And Temple Run Brave.  And a game of Uno.  And when Turner spilled his Sprite on the guys lap.  Oops.  Sorry sir.  guess you should have given your seat to one of his parents.

Served him right.

But all is well.  We are trying to adjust to the time change.  Pictures and stories to come.  I just wanted to check in and report in that we are safe and sound.

I'm off to enjoy a *hopefully* better rest than last nights.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

t-minus 13 hours

Here we are, L.A. eve.  This should definitely be a declared holiday.  Our bags are packed.  My house is *clean*.  (Clean enough for the dog sitter to live in.  Which is actually cleaner than what we live in.) My kids are bonkers.  It must be time to go.

Our flight leaves at 1:00 pm, Ohio time.  I'm still debating whether or not I should try to squeak in a Pilates class in morning.  That would be really stupid, wouldn't it?!

In the scheme of life, 20 nights in a fraternity house bedroom is not that big of a deal.  But for our family, it could be life changing.  And not just because Quinn snores.  But more because this is the first time our family is going, all together, on a missions trip.  It's gonna be life changing.

We are very excited about what God is going to do in us, in our family and through us.  I love cities.  I don't love L.A. YET.  Only because I have not lived there.  I can't wait to experience it.  Especially though the eyes of my kids.

I hope you'll join us though though this experience.

Here we go!

Friday, May 31, 2013

That's a wrap

As of 1:30 this afternoon we are ALL on summer vacation 2013!  Yippee.  I always talk a big game about how I'm not ready to be on *full-time* duty.  Having school aged kids is really nice.  And I enjoy a little me time each day.  So I like to whine and complain starting about May 1st.  But can you keep a secret?
I LOVE summer vacation.  Not that we sleep in.  Or relax.  But we swim.  We play.  We enjoy the parks and the sun.  It is so fun to be together.  Except for when it's not.
I'm not going to pretend like this year has *flown* by.  Parts of it have.  Other parts (like the winter, cold, dreary and depressing parts) did not.  However, I can't believe that I as of 1:30 today I have a 2nd grader and two Kindergartners. 
August 2012
May 31st 2013
1st day of 1st grade
August 2012

 last day of 1st grade
May 31, 2013
 Last day of Pre-School
May 23rd, 2013
Me?  I'm just trying to hold on to my sweet kids just as long as they'll let me.
Now, who is ready for some summer fun?
Let's go to Los Angeles!!!!