Father’s Day

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We love our dads!  I don’t know about you but it’s always a bit of a struggle for me to pick out a Father’s Day gift that says, “We love and appreciate you, dad.”

I started doing photo books several years ago because I know Adam loves them and I certainly enjoy making and having them.  They’re really great for multiple dads (like grandpas, uncles, etc.) because you make one and order several copies.

Each year is a little different but now I seem to focus on more event-based books.  Like this year’s week at the beach book.  Sometimes I wish I had planned things a little better (colors/sizes/etc.) so the bookshelf looked a little more cohesive, but all in all, I’m happy that pictures are printed out where we can see them rather than just stuck in the computer🙂

 

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This year Adam bought himself an early Father’s Day present (Yeti soft cooler) but I’m still giving him a copy of this book – mainly created for my dad.  This year, I wrote a letter to my dad in the opening page.

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What are your favorite Father’s Day gift ideas??

 

 

Playing Hooky

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We had a family wedding in the Outer Banks this past weekend so my parents asked us to join them for a week at the beach, making it a little vacation.  Having kids still in school makes me pause, but as a kid, I remember loving it when my parents took us out for special occasions.

Each fall, our family would fly to Florida (St. Petersburg, Sanibel Island, Orlando, etc.) and we would miss a week of school.  It felt special:)  My sisters and I would load up our backpacks with schoolwork and baby dolls- usually never opening a notebook.

However, my kids are not so enthusiastic??  They are a bit nervous about missing school work.

The highlights of the week for me include:

playing tennis with my parents and my two monkeys

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walking on the beach (and even jogging with Mary Fowler!)

my dad’s daily bloody marys and perfect soft-shell crabs

playing cards (500 Rummy)

laughing so hard as Davis tells us his secrets to great hair:) “A lot of shampoo and conditioner… I’m talking a crap-ton.”

Mary Fowler doing my hair and nails for the wedding- I looked great!  So proud of her!

going to my cousin David’s house for dinner and the kids playing with their cousins just like I used to do!

both kids loving all over their dad while throwing the football on the beach

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and definitely spending time with my aunts and uncles- Anne, Kerry, MaryAnn, and Danny… I cannot get enough of their stories growing up.

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I hope that one day my kids treasure these moments like I do🙂

Sparkle

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I have a file on my desktop that I call INSPIRATION where I put little things like this above.  I actually used this quote for Mary Fowler’s 12th birthday party, printed them out, and tied them to all the party favors- some of her favorite treats!

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But today this quote makes me think of someone else.  My dad called me yesterday to tell me that one of the families I babysat for lost their mother to cancer over the weekend.  The Saturday before Mother’s Day.  Her name is Cassidy, mother of FIVE children, and I am in shock.

I met this sweet family when I worked at the athletic club in high school.  I worked in the nursery and they brought their oldest daughter (at the time their only child) in and Cassidy stayed to chat while the dad played racquetball.

Cassidy was such a bright, energetic, and happy mother.  Her eyes were luminous, her smile infectious,  and she spoke with such excitement!  We talked a lot and she loved my name- I found out later they named their second daughter Olivia🙂

One time, years later, I was working in the bakery during college and without even seeing Cassidy, I heard her booming, excited voice happily chatting with her clan of kids somewhere else in the store.  For whatever reason at that particular moment, I decided to BE HAPPY.  And by that I think I mean project happy.  That’s what she was doing.  Projecting happy energy.

I don’t even know if I ever spoke to her that day but we must have stayed in touch somehow because they came to my wedding and my photographer took many photos of their sweet family:)  I sent them the photographs in a thank you note but I’m going to resend with my condolences.

I feel compelled to let her children (daughters and son) know how inspiring I found their mother to be and how her radiance reflected onto, enhancing my personality.  How amazing.  She really did leave a sparkling impression on me.

Mother’s Day

Mday_2016_final.jpgThis year my mother-in-law came to stay with us for Mother’s Day weekend and it was very relaxing.  Saturday night Adam and I went out to dinner with friends and grandma took the kids to her favorite restaurant.  Then Sunday we all just hung out around the house.  After looking at all our Italy pictures, Davis and grandma were dying to make homemade pizzas so we did that for lunch and then Adam grilled out for dinner.

I made a salad and grandma made her wonderful baked beans.  The dinner took me back to when Adam and I were dating and I would go to his house for dinner.  His dad always grilled on Saturday and Sunday.  It is still hard to believe sometimes he’s gone.

If I’m completely honest, I would love to have a family photo each Mother’s Day of my sweet family in our Sunday best.  I love all of those beautiful, Spring photos I see shared on Facebook.  What a treasure!  But that does not happen each year (and even when it does, Adam really resists so I try to save my battles for the Christmas card photo:) so I really started thinking about something I could do to get some of my reflections down on paper.

A couple of years I wrote each of the kids letters and stuck them away to read later.  This time I thought about one of my favorite photos.  I actually have it in a frame on my bedside table.  It was taken when Davis was born and I love that it shows me eating him up!  I love it.  So I used one of my digital scrapbooking layouts and journaled a little bit.

To all those thoughtful, caring, supportive, selfless, unconditionally loving moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Reading

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Now that my kids are older (7th grade and 4th grade) book choices are SO MUCH more enjoyable for me! I volunteered at Mary Fowler’s book fair and bought several that looked yummy, planning to read them to the kids.

Davis, especially, loves to be read to. It is really a quality time activity for us. Right now we are reading Counting by 7s which is about a fabulously-interesting 6th grade girl who suddenly, tragically loses both her parents on the same day.

The story is about how she deals with this great loss and the motley crew of people she surrounds herself with. We were about halfway through the other night and I just had to finish it myself after Davis went to bed. Oh how I cried!!!!! I mean, sobbing. And it has a good ending, I just think it touched on one of my all-time greatest worries in life… how kids make it when they don’t have the family network so many of us do. It really touched a chord with me.

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Mary Fowler and I are reading I Am Malala- the young adult version (for my sake:). We are only a couple of chapters in because she has less free time available in the evening. I am hoping that the book will show Mary Fowler that to some children education is a privilege. I am SO proud of how she is doing in middle school but it never hurts to get a little world-perspective:).
I have found that my favorite place to volunteer in the kids’ schools is the LIBRARY! I love it! I love being around all those books and I love discussing books with the librarians! So much better than the cafeteria😦  And I love how the teachers at our elementary school read so many books in class to the kids. For example, I’ve always felt that a book (fiction or non-fiction) written from one child’s perspective during the Depression can teach so much more than just remembering facts of the Depression.

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And for me, I am loving The War of Art and You are a Badass! One a friend gave me and one I  heard about it from one of my scrapbooking blogs.  They are SO, SO good! I usually try to get books from the library but I’m so happy I own these because I’m going to refer back often!!

Little Things

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Lately we have been having some TRUE spring days and the weather is just invigorating!  I LOVE it!  My favorite climate is around 72 degrees (although I also love a good rainy day for staying inside and making soup:)

I’ve taken several walks and the blue skies make me feel all bubbly inside.  This morning I took my big camera outside because my Irises are blooming!  I’m sure my neighbors thought I had lost it outside, still in my pajamas.  But Irises are my mom’s favorite flower so I always think of her when I see them.  She loves their sweet scent and we can’t believe someone hasn’t invented Iris-smelling perfume or candles?!?

They are so delicate and it had just rained.  I have tried cutting them to vase indoors but it never works out for me- they kind of wither- so I snapped away and will have the photos to enjoy instead!

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The Spring blooms and clear, blue skies are two of my favorite things this week and here are some others:

 

 

  • This article from Parade Magazine (in the Sunday newspaper): Exceptional Minds Movie Magic It makes me so happy to know that society is learning about how different we all are and instead of focusing on what we can’t do, focusing on what our gifts are!

 

 

Venice

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My daughter and I traveled with a tour group through her school to Italy.  I had never been, but always wanted to go so I think I may have been more excited than her! Our first stop was Venice.

We arrived in time to make our dinner reservation – I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was in a kind of trendy industrial, re-done warehouse.  The parents ordered  wine and beer, and we had a set menu of first course: pasta (this was pretty typical of each dinner), second course: lemon chicken and salad.  And then dessert, which here I believe was tiramisu.

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We were told there are some snow-capped mountains and some marble-topped ones.
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I thought it might be neat to have a picture of perhaps where my Carrara marble came from:)

 

The next morning we were up early to beat the crowds to the ferry.  As you probably know, there are absolutely NO cars or trucks in Venice.  It’s really neat to not have that normal automobile background noise.  This particular day was overcast which made for great pictures with my big camera:)  But it was a little bit chilly.

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We started off in St. Mark’s Square ( 12th Century ) and our teacher told us about the architecture and then we had some free time.  We were told to go exploring- that Venice is full of mystery and intrique with all the canals and stone walkways.  He just suggested we keep coming back St. Mark’s cathedral that to keep our bearings and not get lost.  We also managed to find the Venice Hard Rock Cafe:) but just for a Tshirt.

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This mosaic is amazing!

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The girls found gelato and just had to have it before lunch:)

After we were on our own for lunch, we met up to have a glass-blowing demonstration on the “real” way Murano glass is blown.

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Besides glass, Venice is also known for their lace-making and masks.

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Hindsight, I wish we had spent more time exploring.  And I do think I would go the same time of year- not hot! And we were told it was not busy at all!  Usually it is packed.

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The Moorish architectural influence.

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We were told usually there are no gondolas parked like this🙂  Usually they are all in use.
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So beautiful.  I’m so curious about those who live here- would love to see how they do their daily life of work, grocery getting, etc.

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My overall thoughts… I do think I would like to go back to Venice.  I do think I would go in the Spring again, not summer or winter.  And I would plan to stay there and have some kind of water transportation lined up so I could explore more than just the St. Mark’s Square area.

My daughter said she does not feel the need to go back to Venice.  My guess is that, because it was our first stop, the kids were a little uncertain and nervous about all the warnings and preparations we gave on pick-pocketing, getting lost, etc.  The kids got WAY more comfortable as the trip went on… really by our next stop in Florence.  So I wonder if her feelings would have been different if it wasn’t our first stop.

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