Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My husband's Grandpa

Jason called me from work this morning to tell me some sad news. His grandfather, who lives in Missouri with an aunt and a cousin, passed away very early this morning.

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with him and Grandma a few times over the years that Jason and I have been married, mostly at my in-laws home around the holidays. However, they had stopped coming up several years ago. In fact, I think Ethan may have been only a couple of years old at the time. We did make a trip out their way when E was about 5 and Alex about 2. That was just a year or two before Grandma passed away, I believe. Sadly that was the last time we actually saw Grandpa as a family, and the last time Jason saw him was at his grandmother's funeral, when his dad, brother and he drove to MO.

Of course, we talked to him over the years on the phone, but no where near often enough. Time and family life always seems to get in the way, doesn't it?

I may not have known him very well, or had the chance to really spend a lot of time with him, but he was always kind to our boys and me, and Jason has always spoken highly of him. In fact, Jason tells stories of summers spent at their grandparents with his brother and cousin, and all the fun times they had.

Our boys and I won't be going with Jason as he travels to MO but our hearts, thoughts and prayers will be with him, and the rest of our family as they lay Grandpa to rest.

In honor of Grandpa and Grandma:
Grandpa and Grandma, Jas and his brother Jeff

Our agenda for May... and beyond

As it's the last day of April (!), I thought it would be a good time to look at all we've got planned for the next month, and a little of our summer plans that are pretty solid.

Tonight is Alex's second to last cub scout pack meeting for the year! This is the last one we are attending though, as the next is Sunday, May 18th. They are having a bake sale to raise funds for the VFW that charters our pack, as the hall needs a new roof. After awards and whatnot, they are hoping to take the boys and siblings outside to do an obstacle course and get some exercise. I sure hope it's not raining so we can!

Monday brings the start of swim lessons for all three boys. It's a 5 week session on Mon/Wed, ending the first Wed of June. The older two will be in the same group/level this time, and it will be J's FIRST session ever!

Jas only has the rest of this week and 2 more till semester's end. Then he's taking a summer break, but before then he has to decide and register for Fall classes and it's crunch time for the next few classes with tests and exams to finish strong. Did I mention he got a letter a few week's ago telling him he made the Dean's List for Fall 2013 semester?!? I'm so proud of him and all the hard work he's putting in going to school 4 days a week, working full time, plus he was pinewood derby chairman which makes for a busy Jan-Mar, and was working that second job on occasion. He sure does deserve to have the summer off with the rest of us!

On May 10th, we have a wedding to go to for my cousin's daughter.

The weekend after his very last class, Jas and I are going out of town to Rock on The Range in Columbus. The boys are spending the weekend with my parents.

June brings our vacation, and July is busy with a week-long trip for the boys to their other grandparents' house, Alex's cub scout day camp, and possibly Ethan's social skills camp. August is full of reunions: 2 for family and 1 for high school!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vacation update

It's been a lot longer than I intended (again!) but here we are. HELLO AGAIN! Miss me? Ha!

We are still planning our family vacation for the summer. It's gone from a road trip down south to Florida and WDW to just heading east to PA - well, southeast for us ;).

After researching and taking our time, really thinking about our choices and budget, Jas and I both felt we can get more bang for our buck as well as a more relaxing, enjoyable vacation skipping WDW this year. J is still pretty young and I'm not sure waiting in line with 3 boys at one of the biggest, busiest amusement parks (I know, it's more than an "amusement park" but for lack of a better description) during the hottest and busiest season is an ideal situation for us. That's not to say we won't decide to go there down the road, maybe even during the school year, or something like that. Maybe we can even make it a trip with his parents, siblings, and niece, also!

Right now, on the table, is a little over a week spent in PA.

Decisions yet to be made 100%:
Hotel or cabin.

The hotel would include a king size bed and sofa-bed (J would be in the pack and play), a pool, and complimentary breakfast. We would have to eat out for lunch and/or dinner for 9 days, which is obviously not cheap for 5 people. Fast food is definitely not our favorite thing to eat but would most likely be our fall-back most days. There is a mini-fridge available but it's unlikely we would buy things to pack lunches due to the inconvenience of not having a fully-equipped kitchen.

The cabin would be a "deluxe" and include a kitchen, queen bed, sleeping loft for the older boys, and a pool. We would have the option to cook all of our own meals, including packing lunches and snacks. This option is more expensive up-front, but the savings on food could potentially be tremendous, as we would cook dinner most nights there. Also it's a cabin at a campground, so it's separate housing, quiet, and has a playground, pool, etc for any downtime we might want to take.

*Update!!* We found a lovely hotel that has suites and includes a king-size bed, sleeper sofa, sitting area w/tv, and a full kitchen! Full-size fridge, stovetop, microwave and it sounds like it has dishes, utensils and at least a pot and pan. Plus free breakfast and an INDOOR pool! So if it's raining or cool, we can still enjoy a few hours of swimming. The cost? Less than the campground if we stay 8 nights - the cabin is only available for 8 of the 9 nights we are planning - and if we stay the full 9 nights, it's only about $30 more than the cabin is for 8! That's the option we are going with.

On the itinerary:

Hershey Park for 1 (or 2 days?)
Dutch Wonderland for 1 day

There are so many things and places to go see in those 3 locales, and as a history lover myself, I'm intrigued! As soon as I mentioned Philadelphia, the older boys asked about seeing the Liberty Bell. Of course, that's not the only thing we would go see but that's top on their list.

Gettysburg is very high on my list, as I just recently learned my 3rd great grandfather on my paternal grandmother's side (Let's see if I can make that any more confusing, LOL. My dad's mom's great grandfather. That's important to my extended family, such as my aunts, as to which of their parents' ancestor it was.) fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, as well as several others. He did not die there, but was injured in the Civil War, as well as had the measles and pneumonia, all of which contributed to his death a few years later. When he died, he left behind a young widow and 8 young children, the youngest only a couple of years old and my direct ancestor! has been amazing.

If you've been to or lived in any of these places or nearby, do you have any MUST DO activities? Or is there anywhere you would avoid like the plague, either because it's too costly/not worth the money, boring, super-crowded or whatever other reason?

June will be here quicker than we realize, and as we wait for the last day of school so we can leave for our trip, I hope that we have lots of ideas. I even ordered the free guides for Philly, Lancaster County and Gettysburg, so we can look at the calendar of events, in case there is anything super interesting going on during our time there.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 Goals - Where are we now?

Turning 33 isn't really a milestone birthday by any means, but I do feel like I'm getting older, and at the same time, I know I am still young and have (God willing!) a long, long life ahead of me. Many years to enjoy my husband and marriage, to watch my children grow up and go to college, get married, start their own families. Then I think about the fact that it's already April... and it doesn't feel like we have accomplished much this year in terms of our goals.

So today is as good a day as any to sit down and reevaluate. To see where we are, what we have done, and what isn't working or we want to add to the goals.

When it comes to my personal get fit goals, I've been failing miserably. I'm going to give myself a pass on the past. I can't change what I did or didn't do yesterday. I can only move forward and GET MOVING! I will spare you the details of my weight in numbers, but know this: I have not lost any more weight and *may* have packed on a few extra pounds. With it being spring now, I think being able to get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful weather should help. Bike rides and walks during the day with Jack, park trips with the older boys, etc.

Switching back to organic has been slow going. We've been changing some things over, but for the most part we are stuck. I don't want to raise our grocery budget and we feel comfortable with what we can purchase with that amount but only if we buy a majority of "conventional" foods in terms of the expensive items, like meat, dairy and even some produce. I'd rather my kids get more conventional fresh fruit than less organic fresh fruit, and at this time, it just doesn't feel feasible to add $100 or more each week to our budget. We are saving for our first long-distance family vacation so we can pay cash vs using credit, and trying to slowly pay down credit cards. I know I don't need to justify myself but I want to explain.

Dairy is still pretty prevalent in our home, though I feel I'm eating significantly less. We have been trying new recipes consistently, including the delicious sloppy joe one I shared on Facebook.

Our doctor and dentist goals haven't had much progress, but I did hear about a doctor for Jason and I. It's just a matter of calling and scheduling an appointment. Dentist appointments will be scheduled very soon. I am considering not worrying about my wisdom teeth as they are not causing any issues.

Jackson's thumb surgery has been done and his thumb is finally almost fully healed. Keeping it clean is not the easiest with a two year old, but luckily he loves his Lightning McQueen bandaids! We took the final one off last night before bed, and surprisingly he was upset that we didn't put a new one on. To the point of tears! We felt since it looks completely healed (it had a small bump a few days ago still) and since the last bandaid actually irritated a small patch on the other side of his thumb that it was time to let it just breathe.

I haven't made much headway with reading 50 books this year. I thought I would have more done but haven't finished a single book since my last update! I did borrow 6 books from the library on Friday that I hope to read by the end of April, and purchased 6 new books from the book fair (The Hunger Games trilogy, and three ghost story books by Mary Downing Hahn - although those are definitely kids' books, I loved the one I read by her as a child and thought the boys could also read them). So my current count is still at 1.

I restarted my knitting project for the 3rd time, and I've decided it's going to be a scarf. I think. Haha. I haven't even started thinking about learning to crochet, and my Spanish and German have taken a backseat. Mostly because I've just kind of forgotten to use the duolingo app.

Having added Genealogy and making our family trees to my personal goals for the year, I've been working on Ancestry diligently and love using the Ancestry app on my tablet and phone. We've seen some really neat old documents like census records and war records, as well as yearbook photos and other family photos from distant relatives. Sharing this leads me to another goal for the year: stepping outside my comfort zone! I recently contacted a relative I never knew about: a cousin of my dad's! I learned that my grandmother's biological father had remarried and while he died very young in the early 50's, he and his 2nd wife had two children. My grandma knew about them but had only met them once. I had some details my aunt had shared with me and without revealing too much, I contacted a woman who had a picture attached to the man I thought was my great-grandfather and asked if he had been married before or had any other children, etc. She responded and confirmed the information I had from my aunt about his death and remarriage prior to that. I found out that she is the child of one of his other children, and we are planning to meet soon. There is more to share, but I want to share with my grandmother first as it is very special and I am hoping to see her sometime this week to tell her all of this exciting stuff!

Obviously posting 2-3 times a week on here has NOT been happening but now that I have the laptop, I seriously hope that I actually spend some time writing more often. All the other personal goals haven't had any progress as of yet.

Finished first session of Level 2 in swimming and was *this close* to moving to the next level.
Participated in Annie, Jr at school (play).
Considering starting a Minecraft club at school with mom's help.
Has read the following books and is currently at 15 books for the year: Little House on the Prairie, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, Big Nate in the zone, Big Nate flips out, Big Nate goes for broke, Big Nate in a class by himself, Big Nate on a roll, Big Nate strikes again, Korea book (can't remember the title), The Jacket, Essential guide to Minecraft.

Finished Level 1 of swimming and moved up to Level 2 for next session.
Participated in Annie, Jr at school and really enjoyed it. Contemplating theater day camp in August.
Fractions are mostly mastered and he's working on the harder problems at school.
Has read the following books and is currently at 17 books for the year: Little House on the Prairie, Little House in the Big Woods, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, Little House in Brookfield, Little Town at the Crossroads, Big Nate in the zone, Big Nate flips out, Big Nate goes for broke, Big Nate in a class by himself, Big Nate on a roll, Big Nate strikes again, Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events no. 9 and Super Fudge.

Moved to own room.
In a toddler bed and sleeps well at night, most nights.
Knows blue, purple, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, and black. Gets confused on white and pink.
Can count to two most times, and 3 sometimes. Skips numbers but tries to count higher.
Recognizes most letters and sings the majority of the Alphabet song correctly.
Knows circle, triangle, square, diamond.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First update in quite a while!

Finally! It feels so nice to be typing on the laptop and actually writing! I'm pleased with the work the computer repair place did. It was a great price too. While we had to wait almost 3 weeks because the screen was backordered, they replaced it within about 3 hours this past Saturday. We were using the laptop hooked up to our desktop monitor. Not very convenient. The only time we were even bothering was to pay bills or for Jason to do his homework.

It's been a very busy couple of months around here. Ethan and Alex finished swim lessons for this session just a couple of weeks ago, Catechism is wrapping up for the year this next weekend (I believe) and all the hard work they put in to play rehearsal paid off. Saturday was spent at Catechism in the morning followed by "call" at 5pm and the show at 7pm. I went alone to watch that night, while Jason stayed home with Jackson. It turned out so great! The director did a great job casting the parts. The actress who played Annie has an amazing singing voice! As well as many of the other actors and actresses. Ethan and Alex did good in their parts. I wish I would have gotten some pictures or video but no luck. On Sunday, Jason's parents came up for a visit and to go to the show. The boys had to be there at 1, and the show started at 3pm. Jackson slept for about half of it and near the end he got antsy so we stepped out. It worked out nicely since I had gone the previous night. Everyone else was able to enjoy the show.

We had the Blue and Gold banquet a few weeks ago for cub scouts and my parents came up for it. It was really nice.

My dad's SMILING!! For a PICTURE!!
My beautiful momma and handsome daddy! They just celebrated 41 years of marriage!

My dad showing the boys his Eagle Scout card!
Daddy and Jack-Jack <3

Our Pinewood Derby was March 23rd and Jason's family came to watch and to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. It was great to see Jason's dad, sisters, brother and niece. We missed having his mom come up but were glad his mom and dad made it to the play. Alex's car did really well coming in 2nd and 3rd for each race. While he didn't win a trophy OR a spot in the regional races, he had so much fun and loved making his car this year. We all got to see Jason in action emceeing the race. He's such a ham...

Last week, Jackson and I spent the whole week volunteering at the Scholastic book fair. It was crazy busy for a lot of the time, but we had a good time. He keeps begging to go to the "library" - where we held the fair - and to school, since he got to hang out in the preschool classrooms on and off throughout the week. I am so thankful to the preschool teachers and the other 2 moms who were also working at the fair, including the fair chairperson. She did an amazing job with it, while also working in the preschool in the mornings. She was always right there when I had a question or needed a hand and I hope I did as good a job as she says I did. She even bought pizza Friday night for my boys and I and her family! And took Alex to the spring carnival while E, Jack and I kept the fair open late that night! Talk about awesome teamwork. I would work with her again in a heartbeat. Plus she's such a nice lady! Shout out to CINDY!!

I wanted to write a quick update on our winter fun list so here goes.

We dropped a few more things: sledding; snowman/snowfamily; ice bubbles; s'mores; origami; coloring contest.

We did the following but mostly without pictures: paint a picture - just mom and Jackson; make a fort; play payday - just the boys.

Also I decided to move a few things to our Spring activities. It will be an "unofficial" bucket list and will most likely blend over into Summer. Just things we still want to do but haven't yet. No pressure. Those items are: Lego movie; bonfire; ice skating - indoor arenas are plentiful; go for a hike; video game contest; Detroit Institute of Art; Detroit Historical museum; library event.

The family portrait is being added to our 2014 goals.

Unfortunately, we fell very far behind on our "Saint studies". The nice thing about it not being required is that we can do it at our own pace and will catch up and keep going throughout the year :)

Tomorrow I'll share a 2014 goals update since it's somewhat long!

By the way, April is Autism awareness month! In fact, today is World Autism Awareness! Let's not just promote awareness, but acceptance.