July 21, 2014

Grandma's 80th Birthday Party

My grandma is one very special lady.  She gives of herself so selflessly, makes the best Italian desserts and homemade strawberry jam, and is the very definition of hospitality. She truly has never met a stranger and she makes everyone feel like a treasured family member the moment they set foot into her home, a house that you can't leave without eating seconds.  She finds the best deals when we go shopping and she always has a coupon handy.  With grandchildren scattered hundreds of miles away, she keeps up with all of us and knows what's going on in our lives so seamlessly.  She sends thoughtful cards just because and she never misses out on an opportunity to sneak her grandkids a handful of cash, and no amount of persuading can get her to take it back. She's a woman of faith and prayer, and I'll be forever grateful that her Catholic faith was passed down to us.  She has the most giving heart of anyone I know and she is just full of spunk - your would never guess her age from the way she lives her life! 

My grandma is such a cherished member of our family, so it was only fitting for our family to get together to throw her a big party to celebrate 80 years of her life.  Everyone wanted to make her feel special for a few hours the same way that she constantly makes all of us feel so special.

Thomas, Oliver, and I made the 10 hour trek (well, 13.5 with a baby) up to see her and it was wonderful getting to see all of my family who we don't get to see on a regular basis! We drove into town late on Friday night and were welcomed into my grandma's house by some of my cousins, aunts, and uncles.  

We woke up on Saturday and headed to the mall to see some of my mom's cousins and my great aunts, my grandma's typical Saturday morning routine.  

We went to my uncle's house in the afternoon to see some of my cousins and their kids from my dad's side of the family. They are sooo cute and it was fun seeing them so excited to see Oliver! :) 

In the evening we went to another uncle's house with most of my immediate family to have pizza and wings because that's our tradition! 

On Sunday, we went to mass and then we brought my grandma to the restaurant for the party.  It was at an absolutely gorgeous 5 star Italian restaurant and everything went very smoothly.  She was so surprised to see all of her friends and family, and it was beautiful seeing her so loved by all who were there. 

The afternoon was filled with delicious food, 

lots of love,  

and, of course, cookies (we are Italian, after all!) 

Toasts were made, happy birthday was sung, and all of the grandkids made short speeches and presented her with roses. 

Oliver, thankfully, was a delight.  He was passed around from person to person throughout the entire weekend, but was perfectly content and full of smiles for anyone who gave him a little attention.  He is such a happy baby, and I loved seeing him bring so much joy to our family! 

I was filled with such nostalgia Sunday night when we hung out with all of my cousins in grandma's basement, playing pool and laughing away.  I have so many memories of all the games we used to play together and the plays we used to practice down there while our parents were upstairs. 

The weekend was jam-packed and exhausting, but worth every second of our long drive. God has given me a tremendous blessing, my beautiful grandma, who's taught me to love selflessly and to put my faith and family first.  Happy birthday, grandma! You deserve nothing but the best. 

June 30, 2014

Mountain Adventure

There's a mountain I've heard about that's supposed to be gorgeous and completely covered in flowers in June.  I have been wanting to go for the past few years, but we've always had something else going on.  We were so gung ho about going this year that neither of us remembered to check the weather or if the flowers were still in bloom before we left...

We drove the four hour drive to my parent's house Friday night and embarked on our three hour trip to the mountains Saturday morning.  As we got closer, the sky became grayer and grayer, and I'm telling you, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down.  That should have been our sign to turn around and go home, but we were determined to make it up that mountain after all the time in the car.  It was still raining when we reached the visitor's center, so we ate our lunch picnic in the car and waited, hoping it would stop.  
We got a map and directions and drove up to the top of the mountain on a winding eight mile road.  The higher we got, the more foggy it was and the rain was coming and going. When we finally got to the top, there was a booth where we had to pay a parking fee.  "Are you sure you want to go?" the park ranger asked with a look on his face that was less than reassuring, and he further explained that you could hardly see anything and that the flowers were just past their peak.  

I sat there thinking by golly, we've driven seven hours to see this mountain, of course we are getting out of this stinking car to look around! 

So, we pulled in and parked. The rain stopped, but the fog just didn't disappear.  We got onto the path, and this was our view.    
We looked at each other and just started laughing, wondering why we were so dumb to forget to check the weather before we did all that driving.  We hiked around for a while to look at all the scenery.  It was not what we were hoping and planning on seeing, but it was still beautiful! 
The flowers were only 30% in bloom, but hey, we saw them! ;) 
Oliver was a little trooper, and we had so much fun taking him on a day trip for the first time.  We're soaking up this time where he's so small and easygoing that we can plop him in the Ergo and take him anywhere. 

 Once we drove back down the mountain, the sun started to make it's appearance for the day.  We stopped at a couple of overlooks to take it all in and the views were breathtaking.  
We had seen signs for a waterfall on the way to the mountain, so we decided to stop there on the way back to make the drive worth it.  We did a mini-hike to see the falls, and it was amazing!    
I never cease to be in awe of God's creation.  

While it wasn't the trip we had planned, it still ended up being a special day.  I loved hiking with my boys, and I can't complain about hours of uninterrupted chatting and hand holding in the car while the little man slept.  

However, when we got in the car to head back home, Thomas looked at me and said "That was fun, but we are not going next year."  I laughed and completely agreed...well, unless we check the weather first! ;) 

April 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1  7 Quick Takes about the big day, a trailer for a trailer, and a dare to come up with a better prize than a Segway vacuum
Hi friends! It's been two months without blogging, and they have certainly been two busy, busy months.  I'm not sure how often I will blog, but I think I will still try to continue, although it will likely be infrequently.  I value my family time so much more now that I'm working, so I'm only going to be blogging if Oliver is sleeping and Thomas is at work. 

Work is going well!  The first week was really, really tough.  I think it was much harder on me than it was on Oliver, but now we've gotten into a groove.  I'm really thankful to be working with such cute kids all day, to have my caseload at safe schools, to have great hours, and to have the time and ability to pump.  

Another reason why I haven't been blogging is because we bought a house!!! We have been super busy packing, moving, and now painting, unpacking everything, and getting settled.

  We moved into a brand new neighborhood with mostly small, three bedroom houses, and we love it!! It was important to us to find a neighborhood with young kids and enough streets to go for walks/runs everyday and we are so thankful to have found that.  Our neighborhood consists of mostly young couples and families, and there are lots of little kids and babies! :)  Our backyard backs right onto a farm, so it makes for a good view when the sky is blue and the sun is out! 

We still have a lot to do, but we're making progress! It's so exciting turning a house into a home! We are feeling so thankful and in awe that God has made it possible for us to own a home. It doesn't seem real yet!

Our little sweet pea turned four months old.  He is such a happy baby and we fall more and more in love with him everyday (cliche, I know).  He has started laughing now, and it melts our hearts every time.  He's absolutely delighted by his daddy, which make me melt even more. He rolls from his back to his side and occasionally from his belly to his back. He's so observant, loves books and baths, and puts anything he can find straight into his mouth. His hair is getting a reddish tint now, his eyes are still a beautiful shade of blue, and he's more chunky than ever. We're so blessed and thankful to be his mom and dad.  Even though most babies go through the same pattern of development, it's so special getting to witness and celebrate all of our own child's milestones. 

Easter was quiet and simple - our first one celebrating as a family of three!  We had just moved on Saturday, so we we spent a lot of the day unpacking and we ended the night eating fondue on the couch.

We went to my parent's house one weekend to celebrate mine, my mom’s, and my sister’s April birthdays with a picnic at the park and some homemade chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake made by my awesome mama! 

Back at home, Thomas gave me two birthday celebrations - an evening picnic during the week and then a night out for Indian food and a festival on the weekend. Love, love, love my boys.

This book. Oh man, it's good. Really good.  I loved it and I'm pretty sure I'm going to re-read it soon.  If I ever have time I'll write about it, but for now I'll just say that I highly recommend it!