Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Starting Back To School

Sunday night we celebrated the start of school by making homemade pizzas and hanging out as a family.  In my mind this night went a whole lot differently then it actually played out.   In my mind, there would have been a lively discussion between all the kids talking about the cool things they were looking forward to doing in their new classrooms, which friends they would like to sit beside and what they thought their teacher would be like.  But to be brutally honest, this night was pretty much not enjoyable at all.  There was a lot of prepping of food (by Adam), I was wrapping cute "back to school gifts", the littles were arguing, the bigs were talking super loud trying to get up over the volume of Theodore and Ava Jane's fussing, and the longer it went on, the more frazzled my nerves became.  We did make the best of it, and the evening settled down a bit, but let me just say, having prepped for the back to school dinner, making breakfast casseroles and blueberry muffins for the next mornings big breakfast and making lunches too, my poor feet were killing me after having stood for five hours straight (except for the twenty minutes that I sat down to eat!)

I decided to try and do a table-scape that would get everyone in the spirit of "back to school" and thought it'd be fun to have a few little gifts at each persons seat.  I thought everything turned out pretty cute--I just wish that pictures could tell you what was really happening, it was not a dreamy, idyllic experience.  My sweet nephew was having a good melt down because he didn't want to look at my cute centerpiece, he wanted to use the items--specifically the water color paints, which made Ava Jane want to use the glue and crayons which led to quite a bit of fussing and screaming by the two youngest little ones which caused the older boys to continue talking extra loud to be heard above all the noise!  To say my nerves were shot would not even come close.




Monday morning was a first in our house, everyone started school on the same day and everyone was excited to go into their classrooms. The big boys both were excited to get into their classes and see and meet their new friends.  Even Ava Jane and Emerson went right into their classes with no tears shed, I didn't even cry, though I was not ready for summer to end.  I would have liked it to last a few more weeks.



A big "thank you" goes out to our wonderful, new Assistant Principal, Mr. Helmick, who was outside greeting kids as they arrived yesterday!  He gave high fives and good wishes to my boys and many others as we entered the building and even offered to take this family picture for us.  There are so many things that I'm thankful for about Roberts Elementary, the teachers that we have are amazingly seasoned teachers who seem to be organized and kind; the administration is caring and attentive to kids needs and the families that attend are awesome!  We are so grateful to be apart of this school.



How cute are these two little preschoolers?  I can't believe that Emerson is in the 4's and Ava Jane is in the 2's!  Where did my babies go?  (I joked with a friend yesterday that it feels like a huge step in the right direction now that I only have one child that regularly needs help when buckling her seatbelt!)


That afternoon I hosted Popsicles in the Park. It originally started out as a small group of Mommas that I know who go to my kids elementary school, but it grew to be quite a large crowd. I originally only got four boxes of twenty-four popsicles and thanks to a few other ladies who also brought some, we ended up with some 240 of those sugary sweet treats and only had six remaining when the afternoon was over and done.  I decided to host this little event because I knew there were lots of new families at Roberts who might enjoy the opportunity to let their kids play so that the Mommas could put faces with names and visit a little bit.  I'd say it was a hit and a complete successs, I know that my kiddos enjoyed their popsicles for sure!  We might just have to make this an annual event!







These two are so cute! They were together in Kindergarten and are together again in first grade!  Lucy and Lawson are pretty adorable, don't you think?!  We had a good first day of school!  I hope today has gone as well!  I look forward to seeing them in just a few minutes!

Friday, August 14, 2015

12th Anniversary: Trip to NYC Part 2

One night we did an open air bus tour of Time Square, the Empire State Building, the New York skyline and other famous landmarks.  It was fun to see everything from up in the air away from the crowds on the streets.  I was amazed at the throngs of people.





Thursday afternoon we did a ferry boat over to Ellis Island and saw the Statue of Liberty.  The scene was very pretty and I thought about what it must have been like for all those immigrants years ago who first set their eyes on Lady Liberty; it must have been an amazing moment each time it occurred.






You can see the One World Trade Center from Battery Park, where the ferry left and there's a great view of the skyline from the Hudson River.


That evening we had dinner at The View Restaurant (the only revolving restaurant in NYC).  High atop the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis, we savored excellent contemporary American cuisine with spectacular views of many iconic landmarks.  Here we were in the elevator headed to the top.



My handsome date, who "posed" for this pic with my strawberry cheesecake that I DID in fact share with him.

We went to see The Lion King and were thoroughly impressed with the show, the music and above all the costumes.   It's a definite must see!



And no trip to NYC would be complete without a ride or two on the subway.  I must say it was quite the experience and I grew to tremendously love the fact that I can park my car right inside my garage, get in, pull out, park up close to a restaurant or any store, jump out and go in….but not in New York.  No, it is literally a shoulder to shoulder, almost chest to chest riding situation, at least when we were on it.  To say there's no personal space is a complete and total understatement.  Also another thing that stood out was the "me" centered mentality of those we encountered.  Almost everyone had head phones or ear buds in their ears and/or was on their phone.  There was little to no interaction with people while confined within those small subway cars.

(This picture shows how close I was standing to Adam at one point…thankfully I know him--if he was a stranger, I'm pretty sure I'd have just gotten off as quickly as possible!)


Well, that's a little bit of what we did on our recent trip.  We enjoyed the time together and certainly the opportunity to have quality time away (a big thanks goes out to our parents!)  I'm more and more thankful for the man that God gave me twelve years ago this month, the man I chose and the one who chooses me every day, with my good, bad and ugly parts.  We have had many good times as well as some really hard times.  There's been a year long deployment--time spent in a war zone where we got to have Instant Message "dates" before Skype or Face Time became a thing, there have been six moves to three states, four precious children, one shocking Congenital Heart Defect and our baby girls heart surgery where we spent eighteen long days in CVICU at Children's Hospital.  There have been and will continue to be disagreements as well as the day to day, moment to moments of working together to make a loving family and a healthy marriage.  It all takes work and intentionality but he is so worth it, and I'm so grateful for the way he loves me well.  We've had the chance to make many memories and gotten to go a lot of places, so I look forward to what these next twelve years will hold.  I love you Adam today and always!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

12th Anniversary: Trip to NYC Part 1

Each year Adam has to do an American College of Healthcare Executives conference to get his CEU's so usually I tag along and sight see or shop. When he finishes we enjoy the afternoons and evenings together.  Originally we were going to attend the one in Orlando in December but due to scheduling conflicts we needed to make other arrangements so as we looked at the next few options that were coming up.  There happened to be one in August, right around our 12 year anniversary, in NYC no less!  So we booked it about a week and a half before we left, it was by far the least planned out or thought about trip EVER, but ya know what, we still had a blast!

Honestly, getting the kids stuff prepped and split between the two grandparents houses along with bikes, trikes and helmets and then packing myself---it was just a relief to finally sit down on the plane and know "what's done is done and what's not, will just have to ok!" I told Adam, I didn't really care where we were going, anywhere sounded awesome! Its always fun traveling together.

In the seven days leading up to our trip I finally sat down and tried to get a few things planned.  When I asked Adam what was one thing that he wanted to see or do, it was bike through Central Park. We've done this in several big cities and its a great way to see the lay of the land so to speak.  I wasn't as keen on the idea but truly that afternoon, our first one in NYC, is one of my favorite things that we did in our four days there.  It is beautiful, so picturesque and really romantic with couples having picnic meals on blankets laid out in the grass, strolling along all the many walkways, etc. The architecture and beauty of the park was spectacular.  It was fun to see different scenes from where movies have been made, to walk down near the fountain and look out across the pond. We had perfect weather (albeit very hot) but with blue skies that were gorgeous, it made it easy to navigate around the city.






Because we were celebrating our anniversary, when we arrived home from the park, we found this lovely little bottle and yummy assortment of cheeses waiting on us---our complements to the hotel!

I had not made a reservation for that first night, I just thought we could find a little place to eat at and not be rushing anywhere in particular. We asked one of the valets at the hotel where he thought the best  pizza was near the hotel (which was The Grand Hyatt, right by Grand Central Station).  He suggested a small Italian pizza place just around the corner.  Adam and I have recently decided that we are pizza snobs (I've written about that here), so I was a little hesitant, but I was starving so I was good to try anything that was in close proximity.  We headed down 42nd Street to Patsy's Pizzeria (it happens to be the most delicious pizza we've ever had!)  If you're going to NYC, you should definitely check it out!

That next morning I debated about getting up and going over to watch GMA live, but I decided to just take it easy and sleep in since that NEVER happens! So I hung out and had a leisure morning as I waited for Adam's first day to wrap up. We had tickets to go see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was by far the highlight of the sight-seeing things that we saw. The Museum is so well done and is tremendously honoring to the men and women who helped save others as well as to the almost 3,000 lives that were tragically lost that day.  As Adam and I walked through the Museum I couldn't help but be moved to tears as I listened to survivors family members share their last moments with their loved ones.  As a wife talked about her husband and a daughter remembered her dad, tears flowed as I relived that horrifying day when I walked across campus at the U of A, into the Student Union, and saw the big screen TV's sharing the devastation; I watched in horror.

This is the new One World Trade Center. The memorial is the exact foot print of where the World Trade Center building used to stand and is quite somber as you stare down into the the bottom of it.  As you see the water run off into the unknown, where people suffered, lives were buried and where lives were forever changed.   It was sobering as I reflected on what that must have been like to live through. The devastation was unimaginable!!


Upon entering the Museum, you are plunged into an underground world of somber horror.  Twisted pieces of beams face you as you descend a staircase.  Projected images and recordings recount the day's events.  There are projections of handmade "Missing Persons" posters.  Descending further, into the museum, you pass the Vesey Street stair remnant, the so-called "Survivors' Stairs"--the only viable exit from the building and there are still blood stains on them.  Listening to one woman recount her nightmare as she realized she and those around her were some of the last to get out before the building collapsed, was emotional to hear.

The last beam to be removed from the rubble stands tall in the museum with graffiti, missing person's posters and pictures all over it.



The "In Memoriam" exhibit honors 2,983 victims with biographies and profiles, portraits, spoken remembrances and mementoes from family members.  Photos, many of them portrait-style college or employee ID photos, line the walls, (the youngest victim was 2.5 and the oldest was 85 years old.) There is a quote by Virgil that says it all: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time." This wall, one of the most deeply personal aspects of the entire museum separates the public area from a repository of nearly 8,000 unidentified human remains.  As I stood there in the cool, dimly lit area, I got chill bumps just thinking about those families who suffered such unthinkable loss.

This is the antennae from the North Tower that now sits in the same room as the repository's wall.

Seeing the Ladder 3 fire truck whose front tires literally melted off the truck because of the intense heat along with parts of the plane wings, fire fighter masks, exhibits filled with peoples glasses that were found strewn about the streets along with backpacks and other personal belongs, was a little bit eerie to observe.


That evening we did dinner at The Boathouse in Central Park.  It was a definite repeater!  The scene was perfect, we were seated right next to the water, it was an ideal setting and I had perfect company topped off with a little breeze and the sun going down on the beautiful New York Skyline.  (Oh, I really enjoyed the sea scallops too!)



I'll finish up our trip in my next post.

Lake Day With Friends

Back in March, Adam and I began setting aside weekends on our calendar to go to the lake this summer with friends and family.  It felt a lit...