Thursday, November 22, 2012

2012 Gratitude

I begin this year's Thanksgiving post tired from recent projects, but looking forward to a family-filled, sparkling holiday season.  Gratitude is so important, so here's what I'm thankful for this year (and of course, in no particular order):

  • a comfortable, safe house for my sweet little family
  • Libby, aka Mama Beagle, she runs the house and is always there for us
  • Moo, my little shadow
  • Barak Obama
  • having the opportunity to stay home and take care of my kids-it is, by far, the most rewarding, but challenging job I've ever done
  • Alton-I love living in my hometown, with so much beauty and history
  • health-so grateful that, for the most part, our families are healthy
  • my momma, thanks for continuing to teach me the ropes of life
  • beginning to learn of sign language to communicate with a new friend
  • my first nephew that will be joining this world very soon
  • Patrick, my beautiful, blue-eyed baby boy
  • Eva, sassy and sweet, beautiful and hilarious
  • my iPhone, seems silly, but I use it for so much
  • having enough money to pay the bills and have a little fun
  • Gwen, my mil, works hard, cares hard for her family
  • that my city increased its recycling 85% this year - AWESOME!
  • a school that my kids love and that challenges them to do their very best
  • those that serve our country, our states, our cities, and the people of this world-they do work that most cannot even imagine
  • yoga
  • that a good friend has started in a new direction this year and seems to be happier than ever-yay for being so brave and following your bliss!
  • my whole family
  • Sam-he works hard, is a funny guy, and cares so much for his family
I'm grateful for so much more, but these are the highlights.  I'm heading off to spend the day watching the Thanksgiving Day parades with my children, cooking with my mom, eating some seriously awesome food, visiting with family, and generally relaxing. 
Below is a poem from that I found.  Love it.

This year, give thanks, for everything.

Let the tingle of gratitude move into the bones of your body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. With each beat of your heart,”Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Dance for the joy, for the love, for the freedom, for the food in your belly, for the beating hearts of the beings that surround you.

Sing for the sorrows, for the heartbreak, for the sadness you can’t seem to shake, for the losses, for all those faces that no longer exist in this realm.

Speak with words that come straight from your heart, be honest, be kind, be love.

When you wrap your arms around your friends, lovers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cats, dogs or hamsters, pause for a moment and allow your hearts to beat, together, for that moment, just once (maybe twice).

Pause, when you can, to listen to the laughter that surrounds you (even if you are alone and it’s your own); listen and hear it, as gospel, as truth.

Know that everything you are, everything you have, everything that you are supposed to be, is you.

And you are enough.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween 2012

We had a great Halloween this year!  Patrick was a vampire.  He wouldn't let us do any hair or makeup, but he was super cute anyway.  Eva was a princess pirate-perfect for her personality. 

Aunt Emily and Uncle Steve came over and we carved pumpkins.  Eva did a cat, Patrick did a skeleton. Eva had a parade and program at school.  Patrick had a parade and party at school.  So cute to see the little guys and gals all dressed up.  We went trick or treating and got a ridiculous amount of candy.  We also had lots of fun a the Alton Halloween Parade.

Halloween Pics

Eva's 4th Birthday

 Eva's 4th Birthday was lovely.  We were at The Farm.  She insisted on wearing her cowgirl boots.  She was all tuckered out on the way home.  :)

Eva's Cowgirl/My Little Pony/Hello Kitty/Brave/Strawberry Shortcake Birthday

First Day of School, 2012

Patrick's first day of school, 1st grade this year.

First Day of School Pics

Eva's first day of 3 year old pre-school.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sweet Vacation Alabama

Sam and I took the kids to Gulf Shores in July for vacation.  It's a 13 hour drive, so on the way down, we split the drive into two days.  We stopped on the way out of Illinois in Metropolis to see Superman.  Once we arrived, we found our condo: a cozy one-bedroom across the street from the beach.  I was super excited to take the kids to see the beach for the first time.  We made our way over and they thought it was cool, but were a little hesitant at first.  By the end of the week, we had to literally drag them off the beach crying.

While we were there, we also went go-cart driving.  The track was wooden and circled up and up and up.  Sam even rescued a dolphin (stuffed) that someone had lost on the track.  Speaking of dolphins, we took a boat ride around the bay and saw real dolphins.  You can see the fins in the photos (near a small fishing boat).  It was nearly impossible to get a good pic of them. 

We went to a place called The Hangout.  Super fun place!  Other than it being a little pricey, I highly recommend it for kids and/or adults.  We went one morning for the pirates and princess breakfast.  Eva declared she'd be a Pirate Princess-that's my girl, maybe she can have it both ways.  We was rocking the eye patch and head wrap, along with a wand.  She and Patrick went on a treasure hunt and came back with gold and lots of fun memories.  On another night, we went back to The Hangout for a late dinner.  We had a 45 minute wait, so we went out to the beach in the dark with glow bracelets.  It was fun for the kids to run around and fling those bracelets hither and yon.  We went back in for dinner and dancing at the table.  Fun fun!

Another highlight was the pier.  Gulf Shores Pier goes about a quarter mile in to the ocean and was very cool.  It was my favorite part of the trip.  Despite a LOT of fisherman and fish guts, the walk was beautiful.  We went at sunset and got some great photos of the family.

I can't forget to mention that on the way down, we drove through Huntsville, Alabama.  In case you didn't know, like me, this is where NASA Space Camp is located.  We found it and Sam was in heaven.  We even took a photo of him to show that he finally made after 25 years of dreaming about it!  We tried to show the kids the cool space ships and rockets, but they were wholly uninterested.

We made the trip in one day; we left at 10a and arrived home around 11:30p.  Phew!  The kids were really great in the car.  All in all, we had a great trip!  To see all of the pics of our trip, follow me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break 2012

This past week, Sam, Patrick, Eva, and I went on a wild and crazy Spring Break. 
We went to Chicago (Oswego) first.  We stayed at Jaime and Rob's home there.  The kids had SO much fun playing together: Patrick and Eva, along with Sophia (7) and William (2).   Izzy, the dog, was also tons of fun (I really wanted to steal her!).  On Tuesday, we all went to LegoLand.  The kids had a blast...and the grown up boys had a good time too!  There are some pretty cool builds there (check out the pics).  Then we went to Rain Forest Cafe.  All the kids had a good time exploring the animals and special effects. Eva and William did NOT like the storm effects that happend from time to time.

From there, Sam, Patrick, Eva and I met up with the Hatfield crew for a visit.  We met at Portillo's (shocker-Sam's fav place).  We saw Peggy, Rob, Michael, Teri and baby Lexi!  She is beautiful and growing up so fast. Eva was in love with Rob-they played magic games for at least 30 minutes.  Patrick thought Michael was pretty cool since he let him play with him iPhone and showed him a new app.

We had lots of fun staying up late with Jaime and Rob Z. catching up on everything and discussing the dirty/fun details of current events and politics.  ;)

We packed up on Wednesday morning and headed north to Wisconsin Dells/Great Wolf Lodge.  On the way, we stopped at an A&W for lunch and they had cheese curds!  Only in Wisconsin baby!  Once we arrived, we changed into our swim gear and headed down for a swoosh down the water park slides.  The kids LOVED the ginormous indoor water park there.  It was very little kid centric.  On Thursday, after several hours at the water park, we had lunch and a nap and then went to Knuckleheads Indoor Amusement Park.  We all got wristbands and proceeded to have a great time!  Sam and I, along with the kids, were totally exhausted after much climbing, jumping, sliding, bouncing, flying, riding, eating, bowling, playing, etc.  Friday morning, we squeezed in an few more hours at the water park and hit the road for home.  Eva and Patrick literally had to be dragged out crying from the water park...because you know 10 hours just wasn't enough.

Overall, we had a great time.  It was nice to be able to spend time with the kids that wasn't running errands, doing homework, or other chores.  Just lots of fun!  Check out all 183 of our pics here!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter 2012

ad brWe had a great Easter this year!  The kids looked great!  Patrick wore a green sweater vest with brown argyle over a white polo shirt, with brown, green, yellow and white plaid shorts, by Gymboree.  Eva wore a blue and yellow butterflies and daisies, from The Grapvine.  Ha! 

Anyway, we had brunch with Gwen, Tom, Gigi, Emily and Steve at Mac's.  It was tasty and great to get together with everyone!  Aftewards, the kids hunted for Easter eggs at Nana's house.  Man, if those kids could clean their rooms as fast as they picked up all those eggs...!

The kids and I went up to my mom and dad's for a visit.  Grandma Colleen and PawPaw Fordy were there too.  The kids changed out of their fancy clothes, then played and ran around like crazy people most of the afternoon.  They were exhausted, dirty and happy at the end of the day.

The kids got WAY, WAY too much candy...but are so loved and everyone wanted to give them an Easter basket.  Enjoy the pics of our day!