Archive for 2013

Looking back on 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

1.) What did you do in 2013 that you had never done before?
Went whitewater rafting

2.) Did you keep any New Year's resolutions and will you make more this year?
Last year's was to be kind to myself.  I think I did an okay job at that but there is definitely room for improvement in the coming year.

3.) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, my cousin Kristin (she was my flowergirl)and her husband Jon, welcomed their first child, Carter Henry.

4.) Did anyone close to you die?

5.) What places did you visit?
Leavenworth, Washington; Wenatchee, Washington; Amelia Island, Florida; Gainesville, Florida; Boulder, Colorado; Littleton, Colorado; Los Angeles, California.

6.) What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
family time

7.) What date from 2012 will remain etched in your memory and why?
February 19th-the day my oldest became a licensed driver

8.) What was your biggest achievement this year and why?
Student teaching and submitting my teacher performance assessement--both of these required an immense amount of discipline, time and energy. I honestly didn't think I would be able to pull it off but I did. 

9.) Did you suffer illness or injury?

10.) What was the best thing you bought?
a weekly housekeeper

11.) Where did most of your money go?
Food and gasoline

12.) What song will always remind you of 2013?
Stronger by Kelly Clarkson

13.) What do you wish you would have done more of?
hiked and camped

14.) What do you wish you would have done less of?
Looked for things that were lost or misplaced

15.) What was your favorite TV program?
Dancing with the Stars

16.) What was the best book you read?
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

17.) What was your favorite film of the year?
Pitch Perfect-I know it came out in 2012 but I saw it for the first time this summer.  Hilarious, heartwarming and memorable.

18.) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
Went to Boomers Burgers with my family.  Came back home and opened four wonderful cards with words of affirmation from my sons and husband along with a few presents.

19.) What national/world event stirred you the most?
The Boston Marathon bombings.

20.) Who was the best new person you met?
Maddie Neumann-a fellow classmate and student teacher who is half my age but twice as mature.  She is fun, positive, hilarious and just a wonderful human being.


My life has not been my own

Friday, December 20, 2013

So I just logged on to discover it has been almost two months since I last posted.  TWO MONTHS!  My lack of communication on here has probably hammered the nail in my blogger coffin and the 2 or 3 followers I did have, are probably long gone.  But, if there's anyone still out there, I'm back for a brief update....

A two month hiatus is definitely an indication that my life has been overtaken by not only the demands of full-time teaching and a family but then add to the equation a 30+ page paper justifying my teaching practices replete with video clips and research to prove my worthiness--all due on December 19th at midnight.  Oh, and for good measure, let's also throw in major shoulder surgery for my husband, whom I have heavily relied upon to hold down the fort for the last 4 months.  Naturally, a blog post of any sort sinks to the bottom of the t-do list.

I honestly can't remember a time in my life where I have had so many balls to juggle. As a senior in college (the first time) I took a 20 credit load my final quarter before graduation, while working 20 hrs. a week.  At the time, I thought I would never survive--and I was a mere 22 years old!  A couple weeks ago I had one of my many meltdowns on the eve of Trey's impending surgery. While sitting in the driveway, dreading the thought of entering my house and transitioning to my second job, I phoned that friend who just absolutely "gets me."  When she answered, I began sobbing before I could utter "hello".  Her simple but profound response was exactly what I needed to hear.  "It's one thing to pursue your goals and dreams when you're in your 20's and it's only you.  It's quite another to reinvent yourself when you have a 21-year marriage to maintain and a 16, 15 and 12-year-old whose well-being you are responsible for, not to mention all the other demands for your time and attention.  It is an amazing feat and you need to cut yourself some slack."  Just having her verbalize and acknowledge my reality was a huge gift.  So why is that so difficult?  Why does it take reaching the breaking point before I can nurture myself?  It's a question I continue to ask throughout this journey.

Lest you be misled, this season has been filled with many blessings in the midst of the challenges.  I have learned to admit I can't do it all and, not only ask for but accept help from others. For the first time in 17 years, I hired a weekly cleaning lady.  I never felt like I could justify it before but the boys' cleanliness standards and mine just didn't match. Go figure.  I was tired of spending what little time I had with them nagging and using my Sundays trying to stay on top of it all.  Some may say I let them off the hook but it's money well spent.  I am beyond grateful for the friends and family who have jumped in and lightened my load by giving the boys rides, running errands for me, visiting and taking care of Trey post-surgery, bringing dinner when I've been flying solo with Trey out of town.  It has made all the difference.

Right now, I am sitting here enjoying the best gift of the season: a snow day and an early start to the Christmas break.  I love the slowdown effect a snowfall has on us all.

When we return to school on January 6th, I will have just 3 weeks until I am an official teacher--and hopefully get some of that life back that has been missing since September 4th.  When January 24th arrives, this is what I'll be doing.

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On the heels of the teen years

Monday, October 28, 2013

As I was about to head to bed, I realized that I didn't write a post about Ben's 12th birthday.  Probably because this birthDAY was preceded by a birthday WEEKEND.  I think this year will rank right up there as probably the best and most memorable one so far.  Even though the actual day was a bit uneventful and his dinner guests consisted of just his mom and dad, the two days prior were nothing short of spectacular.  And filled with the kinds of things that are uber important to a 12-year-old boy like Ben. 

The previous Saturday's football game was a heartbreaker.  Their team had practiced field goals the previous week and agreed to let Ben give it a shot to kick any extra point opportunities.  Both times they scored a touchdown, Ben ran out to have his shining moment only to have his teammates fumble the snap.  He stood on the sidelines dejected and as soon as we saw him post-game, he burst into tears.  He was still upset two hours later.  Two days ago was their last game and even though they practiced once again during the week, there were no guarantees he'd have a chance to try again.  Two minutes into the game, they scored and out ran all 73 pounds of Ben.  Darn if he didn't nail it through the posts.  On the last play of the game, he played running back, ran it in for a touchdown and promptly returned to attempt the kick once again.  "It's up.  And it's good!"  I don't think he stopped smiling for the rest of the day and into the evening.  

Even though this was a huge birthday present, the next day he got an even bigger one.  Knowing we were looking for tickets to the Seattle Sounders soccer game, as it's tradition for Trey and Ben to go to a game together for his birthday, a good friend gave us 4 tickets to Sunday's game versus L.A. Galaxy.  These tickets also included a parking pass, dinner and ice cream at halftime.  That alone was present enough but then a soccer game with (cushioned) seats on the 50 yard line and two players' autographs on top of that?  

Happy 12th birthday, Benjamin Davis! You are a kind, considerate, loving and patient young man who gives so much to others and asks for so little for yourself.  You deserved the amazing birthday spoiling you had this year and are so worth celebrating!


Homecoming 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Remember back in the "olden days" when a boy asked a girl to the high school Homecoming dance?  If they weren't dating, the young man simply asked the young lady, "would you like to go to Homecoming with me?" The answer was a simple "yes" or "no." End of story.  Not today.  No one would ever do something so SIMPLE. Everything has to be not only complicated but a competition as well.  I personally think it's a response to the Disney movie "Prom" that came out a few years ago.  Although it was a well-intentioned script, the many different scenarios that played out within the story lines lent itself to a new fad.  Not only does the girl get warned by her girlfriends that she's going to get asked, but then she also expects an original proposal.  It's so over the top.  But then I'm sure our parents categorized our behavior the same way back in the 80's. All this to say, that my poor little freshman was feeling some of the pressure when all he wanted to do was go to the dance and have fun with a group of friends--and a date.

I came home from work one night and Ian told me he wanted to ask a certain girl to Homecoming but it felt awkward because this certain girl happened to be the younger sister of his older brother's girlfriend.  Are you following?  I told him he should do it if he wants to and not let that fact deter him.  Being that Ian's a simple guy, I thought he would just ask her and be on his merry way.  Silly me.  He got an idea from an older guy and decided to run with it.  This particular creative idea also meant that we had to drive all over town to find a goldfish bowl and a small, plastic fishing rod,  He was so cute and excited, and he rarely asks for anything, so I  had to indulge him.  The next day, with the help of his prospective date's friend, he filled the fish bowl with Goldfish crackers and put it on her desk in her first period class.  Alongside the bowl was the fishing pole with a note that said, "Of all the fishes in the deep blue sea, will you go to Homecoming with me?"  I have to admit it was pretty darn slick.  She loved it.  He texted me after class with a simple message, "she said yes."

I made the suggestion that the two couples double date.  Bad idea.  The older couple would have none of it. Going with Freshmen could potentially damage their social status or so it seemed.  The best I could do was insist on a picture of all 4 of them at the girls' house before they went their separate ways.


We have kittens!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Since the beginning of September doesn't have enough chaos, we thought we'd add a little more to the mix.  Not that we had any control over our cat's heat cycle.  You remember those kittens who joined our family less than a year ago?  The ones we thought were boys.  Ummmmmmm...yeah...we were duped.  Once we made the discovery--with the help of a $213 vet bill to help confirm what we already suspected--we thought we'd let them each have one litter then spay.  Poor Nacho started at a mere 5 months old and just finished her 8th unsuccessful cycles.  We're not sure why she can't seem to get a man but her sister took care of business lickety split back in June.  In mid-August, she came in one day and as I went to pet her, that abdomen was jutting out both sides.  Based on my research, pinning down an actual due date was next to impossible but we had a general idea that it would be within 3-4 weeks once the abdomen swelled. 

We went to work preparing a birthing box and looked for signs of "nesting."   We had some suspicions as to who the "baby daddy" was but his owner "thought" he was fixed but wasn't sure.  The owner (who lives behind us and apparently had been feeding Ollie when she came to visit "Mr. Kowalski" )  isn't exactly playing with a full deck so wouldn't it just be our luck that Ollie would start labor in his house??  He knocked on our door at 9:00 a.m on the 8th to inform us that one kitten had been born under his bed.  Trey hightailed it over there while I woke up the boys.  By the time we all arrived, kitten #3 had made its way into the world. We took turns going inside to see if any more were coming and, after 30 minutes, decided to pack up mama and her babies and take them home.  About 20 minutes later, while Ben and I were watching, Ollie had a contraction and I ran to get the other boys.  Within a minute, baby #4 came out before we could all get back upstairs.  However, I did pull on some latex gloves and cut the cord.  I guess you could call me "the cat midwife." I have always said I wanted to be in the room during a delivery.  I was hoping for the human kind but I'll settle for the feline species because they are so stinkin cute.  

Now I realize I'm not qualified to determine gender but I do know that two look the same on the backside and the other two looked markedly different from them.  Therefore, we do have 2 boys and 2 girls and I'm pretty sure the calico and the gray striped ones are the females. I'm not going to put any money on that though.

So before you chastise me for not spaying and tell me how the kitten population is out of control, rest assured that all 4 are spoken for and we even have a waiting list.  If Nacho doesn't get her act together here soon, we may have let Ollie fraternize with the neighbor again.  After watching these little fur balls grow and change everyday, it is mighty tempting.

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A Golden Birthday

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'm not sure when I was first introduced to the term, but I do remember hearing that when you turn the age of the day your birthday falls on, it's called your "golden birthday."  I still remember turning 23 on the 23rd.  Trey and I had been dating less than a month when he spoiled me rotten with gifts, flowers and a romantic dinner on top of The Space Needle. I can picture the photograph--the first real official snapshot of our courtship.  Ben has to wait until he is (hopefully) out of our house and close to 30 for his.  Quinn was the ripe old age of 6 and a little Kindergartener.  Ian couldn't be at a more perfect age: 15 on the 15th.

Every year, when this kid's birthday comes around, it seems like he always gets the short end of the stick.  School has just started, everyone's schedule is crazy busy and he's not one to speak up and ask for what he wants.  And he absolutely hates to be fussed over.  In fact, because of this, it seems like everyone overlooks just how special he is. He marches to his own drum.  He's not a super social guy.  He prefers one-on-one to a big group.  He doesn't buy into what the world is selling and isn't afraid to say so.  In a word, he is completely different from the brother above him and the one below and I'm sure he is reminded of it everywhere he goes.  Although he doesn't let on that it bothers him, I know it has to be getting old. 

  This year, I have been determined to make this his best birthday yet and he will go to sleep tonight feeling utterly and completed loved and treasured for the unique, witty, wonderful person that he is.  We have been talking about his special day all summer long.  Plus, he's official to get his learner's permit today so there's even more anticipation than normal.  

Right now, he is up in "The Shire"--his own private bike jump facility as an undisclosed location.  He's invited a few fellow bikers to "hit the jumps" with him, grill burgers, overindulge in Mountain Dew and just be guys. I have 15 awesome presents to wrap, so I'll end here.

Ian Joseph, you remind me of myself in so many ways with your independent streak, deep thinking soul and low maintenance ways.  My wish for you this birthday is that you will ontinue to embrace who God made you to be and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love you a ton and feel honored to be your mom. 


2013-14 School Year: Week One is in the record books

Sunday, September 8, 2013

And so the new chapter begins.  As I've said before, this school year represents all of us turning a page to a story that has had many twists and turns; the characters have endured many changes; a little mystery has been thrown in there and now the plot thickens.  The English teacher in me would describe this as "the climax of my personal narrative."  The protagonist (me) has finally reached the place in the book where the action heads into high gear.  I have successfully completed my first full week as a middle school student teacher. 

Several  friends and family members texted or emailed the night before and after the first day asking for an update.  As I suspected, I barely had time to respond to anyone because my second full time job was waiting for me when I walked in the door every night.  After what felt like 100 runs to Office Max, we finally have all the needed (and not so necessary) supplies for my 6th grader, Freshman and Junior students. Dinner didn't make it to the table before 7:30 and I was ready to crash by 9:30.  I knew I was not in "working full time" shape after a 16.5 year hiatus from the grind.  But what I didn't expect was how exhilirating my days would be.  Although I am physically exhausted, the joy I have from spending my days in the classroom, buoys me into my evening responsibilities with an energy I wasn't anticipating.  Because I simply didn't have time to update anyone, on Thursday night I wrote this on Facebook: "For several years post-college, I wandered from job to job in many failed attempts to 'find my calling.' In the moment when I became a mom, I declared: "I was born to do this!".  After my first full week as a middle school student teacher, I am uttering this powerful phrase once again.  It has been quite a journey to get here, but this feeling is indescribable."   

As for the boys.............Quinn left the house saying: "Great.  Back to hell." He is pretty overwhelmed with football practice, followed by 4-5 hours of homework but he'll adjust.   Ian acted like he wasn't excited but all week, he has seemed to enjoy doing his homework, bounced out of bed at 6:30 a.m. without any prodding and was talkative every night.  The highlight of his day is 4th period English as the teacher resembles a contestant from America's Top Model.  All the freshman boys pay attention in that class. Ben loves being back in the public school scene and the halls of middle school.  Although he did say the lunch lady was mean to him when she couldn't find his account due to him being a transfer student.  Little does he know this will be the least of his worries come 8th grade. 

I realize we are all in the "honeymoon phase" right now but I can't wait to watch this story unfold!

Junior Year: Positively thrilled.


He's the only one who would indulge me and display the sign.

Ready for my 6th graders.

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The Summer Bucket List that was in my head

Friday, August 23, 2013

As last summer began, I jotted down a bucket list for June, July & August.  I managed to cross off 4 out of 11.  In teacher speak that's not even close to a passing grade.  I think I got a little overzealous last year so I never actually committed to completing a list this summer and yet I still remembered the "biggies" that didn't happen in 2012.  In the back of my mind, I still wanted to accomplish at least one or two.  Well, as it turns out, I did do #4, 9 and 10--and all 3 were a disappointment but I did bring my grade up to a C-.  See below for the details.

Dana’s Summer Bucket List 2012

1.      Pick all three berries: Strawberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries.
2.      Hike a medium elevation mountain.
3.      Make a rope swing with my kids.
4.      Early morning run on the Northshore Trail.
5.      Go to a Drive-In movie theater.
6.      Go crabbing in the Puget Sound or Bellingham Bay.
7.      Sleep under the stars.
8.      Fish in the lake and eat my catch for dinner.
9.      Make a batch of homemade ice cream.
10.  Visit a local farm for fresh produce.
11.  Take a family road trip down the California coastal highway.

S    #4: Since day breaks around here starting at 4:45 a.m. in June, getting out of bed early isn't usually a problem. The Northshore Trail is at the end the lake and is 3 miles out and 3 miles back.  I propositioned one of my die hard/hard core running buddies to join me at 6:30 a.m.  Unfortunately, it happened to also be a morning that was overcast and humid.  Unbeknownst to both of us, just because the trail runs along the lake, doesn't necessarily mean a breeze is guaranteed.  There was none to speak of for the entire 6 miles.  It was brutal, we were dehydrated and exhausted by mile 3 and definitely did not feel refreshed as we returned to my car.  

$   #9:  This one was a comedy of errors.  While on the previously mentioned trail, Sue asked what else was on my bucket list that hadn't been completed last year.  The drive-in theater and making a batch of homemade ice cream were the only 2 I could remember.  She told me about the "roll and freeze." that she owned by had never used.  This contraption looks like a hamster wheel with a metal insert.  I had completely forgotten about it when she stopped by a couple nights ago and dropped it off.  Ben and I had the best time rolling and tossing the ball full of ice and rock salt while it worked its magic.  After the first 10 minutes, you open it up, scrape the sides of the metal portion with the half and half, sugar and vanilla in it and drain the melted ice and add some more.  Ian and his friend walked in while we were prepping for round 2 and decided they wanted to make the finishing touch.  10 minutes later, we opened the ball, scooped out a taste and spit it out.  It tasted like a salt lick for a horse with a touch of vanilla.  YUCK!  

#  #10:  For all the years we've lived in Bellingham, I've heard so many people brag on Joe's Gardens.  I've driven by the place a few times but its not anywhere near my normal route.  One day I was over on that side of town after a hike and decided to stop.  5 minutes later I was back in my car empty handed.  Yes, it was pretty and everything was fresh and/or organic but the prices were easily double that of a produce stand just down the road that was surely supplied by a farm also.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  It's "local" enough for me.

     As summer comes to a close, I might be able to pull off one more but most likely they will make their way to 2014's list.  Even if the outcomes weren't perfect, it was still fun trying.


21 Years!

Monday, August 5, 2013

After returning from our trip to Florida, our summer went into overdrive and before we knew it, August was just around the corner.  Being that our anniversary falls on the first day of the month, it sneaks up on us at the time of summer when we both just want to stay home.  So when Trey said he wanted to go on an overnight like we have managed to pull off for 19 of the last 20 years, I sighed.  Really?  Can we just go to dinner in town?  I could tell by his response that this was important to him and needed to be equally as important to me.  

Leavenworth is a place that we both love and as Ben and I passed through there on our way to Wenatchee the previous week, I was reminded of how much I have missed visiting there.  I also noticed a sign for one of the local river rafting companies and knew that would speak to my adventurous husband's heart.  I'm not really a rapids kind of gal but I figured why not?  I'm certainly not getting any younger--and how many people die on a rafting trip in eastern Washington?  After counting out the anniversary coin jar and a monetary gift from our parents and finding someone to stay overnight with the kids, I made the reservations for the white water rafting trip and a room at The Alpen Rose Inn.  Trey had a conference call at 10 a.m. that day so we got in the car at 5:30 a.m, yes A.M, to get on the other side of the pass where he would have cell reception.  I shopped around while he did his business from the back seat of the minivan.  Afterwards, we found River Riders and enjoyed an amazing chicken barbecue lunch and met some great peeps that would soon join us for our big adventure. The website neglected to mention that by August, the river is so low that what should be a Class 3-4 rafting experience was really more of a nice, long float trip down the Wenatchee River.  We had a great guide, fun boat mates and the weather was perfect.  A good way to "get my feet wet."  No pun intended.  After checking into the B & B and showering, I really wanted to go to our favorite drive-in burger place but Trey just couldn't accept that as our anniversary dinner.  So we compromised and went to a nice place for mojitos which was perfect followed by a greasy burger and fries at The Heidelburger.  It was a perfect celebration.  Maybe we'll get fancy for the 25th but somehow I doubt it.  And what was my anniversary gift this year?  A new set of tires for the minivan.  Practical always seems to trump romantic.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  

This was AFTER the trip.  We didn't even get wet.

Enjoying a tropical mojito.

21 years and still smiling.


Family, Fun & Sun: Fully Present

Thursday, July 11, 2013

There are many perks to being on Facebook but with all social media, there are some features that do get under my skin.  One of those is the constant posting of vacation pictures which one can easily interpret as "look how much fun I'm having while you're living your mundane life perusing my pictures and seething with jealousy."  I realize this is not the motive of every member of the social media world but there are a select few where you do want to say: "Enough already.  No one's life is that glamorous.  No one's."  That being said, I know there are some family members and friends that actually do want to see photos of our recent time in Florida. (And the irony is that I'll probably put a link on FB to this post.)  But before I do that, I have to say that so many feelings hit me during this visit that the pictures don't show.

Amelia Island holds a very special place in my heart.  It's by far my favorite place on the eastern seaboard.  Trey's parents began building their retirement home there the year Quinn was born (1997).  From the minute the house was completed until we moved out west (2001) we spent many a long weekend there making memories while trying to wear out our tireless babies and toddlers on the beach, in the pool and on the golf course.  It was our "go to" place and the only way we got a vacation during those early years.  I can still envision trudging out to the beach with an enormous supply of paraphenelia to dig in the sand, play in the water, protect the kids from the scorching sun and feed their hungry stomachs and thirsty mouths.  Even though it was a gargantuan effort, when I look at the pictures, the fondness I feel reminds me it was always worth the effort.

When we landed at Jacksonville airport 17 days ago at 11:30 p.m., it was 82 degrees and glorious.  After retrieving our luggage and the rental car, we hit I-95 then A1A, crossed the causeway and turned on the Parkway.  The entire time filled with boys commenting incessantly with the "Remember When...." stories.  It was music to my ears--especially when the teenagers moaned and groaned beforehand about not being able to see their friends for two whole weeks.  The walk down memory lane was punctuated by all they had planned for the long summer days ahead of us.  "We need to call Uncle Mike and see if we can borrow his surfboard."  "I'm going to eat at Chick-fil-A every day."  "When do we get to see Baby Wynn and the rest of our cousins?"   We arrived at the house close to 1:00 a.m. and Mimi & Papa Jim were on the porch to greet us.  That porch was also covered in bikes, boogie boards, a surf board, beach toys and beach chairs.  We were well on our way to making some new memories.

The next 14 days were filled with constant activity and family visits--and lots of Chick-fil-A of course.  While we were playing in the pool with the younger kids, I had flashbacks of Quinn, Ian & Ben at those tender ages of 3 & 6 when life was in continuous movement and sitting poolside for more than 5 minutes wasn't an option. It was nostalgic but also very sobering.  On July 1st, Trey, Quinn & I took off for the day and headed to Gainesville.  Trey had a customer to see so we took advantage of the timing and scheduled a tour of the University of Florida.(one of Quinn's top 5 on the college wish list.) The possibility that the campus could one day be home to my firstborn was surreal but exciting. After returning from UF, I was privvy to a conversation between Trey & Quinn that hit me like a ton of bricks.

It poured the day of our tour, the day before and the day after.  Not just your typical southern summertime afternoon thunderstorms but all day long rainfall.  While listening to our 16-year-old grumble about how bored he was, how the weather wasn't supposed to be like this, how he missed driving his car, etc. Trey had a stern talking to with him and reminded him that since we only visit every other summer, this could be the very last time our whole family is together in his grandparents home for the rest of their lives.  No one knows what the future holds and where he'll be at this time post high school graduation.  Although his grandparents are in good health now, none of us can predict how quickly that could change.  I'm not entirely sure how much of an impact these words had on my son (teens can rarely see beyond today) but they were not lost on me.  It made me think about the brevity of life and the importance of being fully present in the here and now.  I am guilty of "waiting for someday". I have put off so many tasks, dreams and adventures waiting for the right circumstances.  "When I'm done with school."  "When I have a teaching job".   "When the kids are gone."  "When the house is paid off."

Even today, I found myself starting to do that as I looked at the suitcases on the floor; the mound of laundry in the basket; the pile of papers on my desk;  and the projects pinned to my boards on Pinterest.  I found excuses to put them off telling myself they would still be there tomorrow.  And then I remembered the promise I made to myself while being unplugged from technology and the normal demands of family life.  I want to be present and try to do one new thing every day.  It can be as small as unpacking the suitcase within 24 hours (which I actually did and this is a first) or trying a new recipe.  It's time for the summer bucket list to resurface from last year (I did 5 out of 10) and start crossing items off and adding new ones.

My father-in-law said the sweetest thing to me during their visit for Ian's 8th grade graduation and I want to continue to live it out.  He told me, "When the boys are gone, you and Trey aren't going to look back with any regrets.  You have made the most of every single moment with your kids."  Thanks to him, we have had the privilege of enjoying many of those moments at the place he & Mimi call home.    

Back to my original reason for this post....................(a lot of) pictures from our vacation below.

Everyone loved playing with "Baby Wynn"

Amelia Jane making Quinn laugh.

Cousin Chris taking it easy while we played with his kids--ask him what he was doing when we had kids and he didn't.   Probably the same thing as in this picture.  

Wynn trying to shoot his big cousin

The tour ended with a visit to the infamous football stadium "The Swamp."

Wouldn't it be cool of he could stand here wearing one of their uniforms one day?  It's a long shot but we were dreaming anyway.

Ben doing his magic trick for Aunt Nancy and Uncle Jim.  He's a wizard, that Benny.

Elizabeth is such a good big cousin to Amelia Jane and Wynn

After Trey let him go under the wave, Wynn announced: "He drownded me."

A game of Corn Hole before the fireworks.

All the Sturgeon cousins.

Aunt Nancy & Uncle Jim take a break from the stress of checking on their house being built on the island.

Amelia Jane told me she loves her "big cousins."

Everyone rushed to take a picture of our 4th of July visitor.

We affectionately named him "Uncle Sam" because of his Independence Day visit.

Quinn patiently taking his little cousin on the water slide for the 50th time. "Do it again" was all Wynn said to him that day.

Re-enacting a photo taken of these two when Ben was a toddler.  

Another thing we miss about the South.

Chasing the waves.

My beach boys.


Each visit his head gets closer to the stop sign.

Circa 2004

Striking the same pose 9 years later.

We did feel welcome.

This is where you could find Ben most days.

Yes, that is a Chick-fil-A cup.

A double "selfie."

Have soccer ball, will play.

More pool antics.

One last game of Mexican Train.

Getting crazy with Uncle Mike.

Not sure what this was but they were laughing a lot.
Quinn got to drive the Miata.

Yes, Ben, the street was named after you.