A Weekend with Friends!

posted on: Sunday, September 25, 2016

We just had the best weekend with Julie, Jordyn and baby Scout! Julie brought the girls up Saturday morning so we could all spend the day/night together. The kids spent the day playing in the creek, playing at the park and playing in the back yard. Making face paint out of wet chalk and forming a secret hideout behind the shed. Doing exactly the things kids should be doing on a beautiful September day. Julie and I played with the babies all day and watched as they explored together, both the same age for a few more weeks when Ever graduates to year two. Abby and Jeff came over and we made our own pizzas for dinner and then caramel sauce for homemade caramel apples for dessert. The kids hitched a tent in Oren's room and told ghost stories until we made them finally go to sleep. It was a slow, rejuvenating weekend at home with good friends that I hope leaves a few lasting memories for our kids of a childhood well spent.

hope your weekend was as sweet at ours.

Arlo The Blue, Blue Whale

posted on: Sunday, September 4, 2016

You know what's amazing? When an old (and also brilliant) friend from high school emails you up to let you know she and her sisters have started their own creative agency and that agency has published a children's book written by her mother and illustrated by her sister, and she wants you to have a copy!

Soooo... an all women's creative agency start up that's family run and a children's book inspired by Andy Warhol with a positive message? 

Um, yeah, sign me up. Immediately.

Arlo The blue, blue whale was inspired by the Warhol quote, "I think everybody should like everybody." A message on kindness, acceptance and friendship that I was thrilled to share with my kids. 

The book is very fun and the illustrations are darling. My kids all really liked it, but especially Oren. Arlo's earned himself some prime real estate right at the front of this kid's bookshelf, so I know he's serious. Oren's been bringing it to me every night since it arrived as his first choice for a bedtime story. And for a kid who has just entered kindergarten and is just beginning to navigate a world of new faces and new friendships - this book could not be more appropriate. 

I wanted to give a big thank you to Katy for sharing Arlo with us and let you know that if you'd like to pick up a copy for yourself you can order it here. There's also a super fun app you can download as well to go along with the book and lots of other fun goodies on the website.

And Arlo, we like you buddy. Keep on spreading that message of kindness.

To Leo

posted on: Thursday, September 1, 2016

I am sitting here late on a Thursday night, unable to sleep. Unable to sleep because tomorrow I have to attend the calling hours for my grandfather who passed away on Sunday night. I can't sleep because memories of him keep washing over me and I feel like I need to write them down. So here I am. 

My grandparents have 11 children. An Irish catholic family through and through. My mom and her siblings tell me that my grandfather was strict with them growing up. He had a lot of rules and was a what-I-say-goes kinda guy. My grandmother never worked outside the home and so I can imagine being the sole provider for 11 children on a carpenter's salary could not have been easy. It could not have been easy at all. Being a working parent to only three children myself, I can only begin to imagine the stress and sense of responsibility he must have shouldered all those years. His tough exterior bore not out of unkindness, but necessity.

But aging must have softened those rough edges of his personality because, as his grandchild, I never saw that side of him. The man I knew was easy going, incredibly funny, a little bit ornery and adored by every single person who knew him. 

Being only one of many, many grandchildren it was not easy to get a lot of one on one time with either of my grandparents, so I'd be exaggerating if I said we were exceptionally close. But even so, he was a constant in my life that I don't think I ever fully appreciated until now. During my life growing up my mom, sister and brother and I never lived more than a two minute drive from my grandparent's house. An easy walk on a nice summer day. My grandma used to babysit us kids while my mom was at work, and my grandpa was never more than a phone call away when the washing machine stopped working or a bat got into the house and needed catching. One middle of the night phone call and there he was, 10 minutes later on our doorstep with a broom in his hand ready to rescue us from the nocturnal nuisance. 

I remember he liked apple pie and milk. He liked swordfish steaks. Coffee with a splash of irish cream in the morning and wild turkey - no ice - in the afternoon were his drinks of choice. I remember big brunches at my grandparent's house on Eastland Avenue, Leo in the kitchen at the helm. Polachintas with cottage cheese and cherries, omelets with bacon and mushrooms. On thanksgiving he always carved the turkey. His homemade stuffing was my favorite. I remember him always joking, always smiling. I never heard him raise his voice. I never saw him truly angry. 

I remember as a little girl standing beside him in church at his brother's funeral and seeing him cry for the very first time. I remember my stomach sinking and the sight of my grandfather in tears shaking me to my bones. I remember looking straight ahead, unable to watch him cry for one second longer. I remember slipping my hand into his and his fingers squeezing me tight as we held on to each other for the rest of the service. I know I'll be thinking about this moment on Saturday when I'm standing in that same church, in those same pews, listening to his funeral mass.

As a teenager, before I had a car, I used to take the bus to work. And as a typical teenager with poor time management skills I would often find myself running to the bus stop, breathless, just in time to see the back of the bus disappear down the road without me on it. On those days I would curse myself, run the two or three blocks back home, dial my grandpa's number and there he would be, five minutes later, in the driveway. My savior. My ride to work. 

As an adult I remember Josh and I buying our first house, having him over and showing him all the things I needed done that I, frankly, had no skills to do or money to do it with. I remember him coming over with wood floor boards that he just happened to have as well as some base board and quarter round and fixing up my living room floor. I remember watching him set up a table saw on my deck and go to town cutting and installing. He was 70 some years old and strong as a horse, I remember watching him work and thinking how toned his calf muscles were in his work shorts and tennis shoes. Nothing ever stopped him, nothing ever slowed him down.

Until now, at 83 years old cancer finally got the best of my old grandpa. Watching him deteriorate over those last months and weeks and final days was heartbreaking. Seeing him whittled so far down from the man he once was - it wasn't right. 

That's not who he was. 

So I will choose to remember him with the broom, with the tool box and the truck. With the glass of whiskey and the strong legs and the warm hand that held mine when we both needed it most. 

I love you grandpa. I already miss you so much.

An Eighth Birthday Party!

posted on: Monday, August 22, 2016

Watching your first born kid grow from a baby into a person has got to be one of the most fascinating things there is in life. Seeing how his life unfolds each day is the most enlightening process. With Oren and Ever, I dare say I kind of know what to expect with each new age and phase, but with Wes everything is the first time and it's always new. We've been doing family birthday parties at home for all the kids for the last seven years and I never really knew how long that would go on. But when we asked Wes about his birthday this year all he wanted was a party at Chuck-E-Cheese and to invite all his friends. 

I was all for friends at the party but I have to admit I tried my hardest to waylay his chuck-e-cheese fantasy (to no avail as you can clearly see). I love having personalized parties at home surrounded by our nearest and dearest, so the idea of celebrating in a public place alongside strangers is not exactly my ideal. But he wanted in that ticket blaster and there was no convincing him otherwise. 

Cheryl made this AMAZING Minecraft block cake per Weston's request. There are over 1000 individual squares of fondant applied to the outside! Her talents are unbelievable! And do you see that number 8 she has hidden on there?

Our family and friends all came together to celebrate our little guy on his birthday. It actually turned out to be a pretty fun time after all and I know the kids especially loved every second. 

I. Love. Calvin. Price.

The cake was delicious, by the way, and Wes could not wipe the smile off his face all day.

And then finally, the whole reason for the season - the TICKET BLASTER!

This is basically all he cared about doing and was so pumped about his chance to catch the "golden ticket" that was floating around in there. (It's a scratch off ticket with a surprise value and there's only one in the mix). He caught handfuls of tickets during his whirlwind minute in the spotlight but, alas, not The Golden Ticket

So, when our Chuck-E-Cheese party helper slyly slipped it to him after he exited the booth crestfallen - well, that's what birthday dreams are made of, folks. WOULD YOU LOOK AT THIS KID'S FACE?! 

(Haha, obviously she was tipped handsomely at the end of this party ;)

p.s. the surprise value of the ticket was 1000 tickets! Wes chose a gum ball machine from the prize counter and could not have been more happy about life. 

At the end of the night Abby came back to our house and brought Wes his annual, personal birthday pie. So even though this year has already brought a lot of new changes along with it, it's nice to know we still have lots of other sweet traditions to hang on to.

eight year olds, man.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this birthday boy's day the best it could possibly be. We love you Wes, and we can't wait to see what other surprises year eight has in store for us.

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