Monday began as a fairly normal day with flag raising, a HIIT class then tennis clinic. Everything was derailed with a freak thunderstorm and tornado that blew through the neighborhood. My neighbor had a lanai roof blow off. We went to check on my parents (and enjoy their generator) and caught my mom melting. Taking care of my dad is taking a toll on her. That launched me into a week of afternoon Dementia daughter chores. I got to play a lot of tennis this week. We had matches Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I did a HIIT class Friday then played a USTA match on Saturday. Kerri and I won on Tues and Thurs. Simmons and I lost on Wednesday and Meredith and I lost at San Jose against my friend, Anna on Saturday. I took my parents to a doctor appointment on Thursday, trying to get things streamlined and on track while supporting my mom. The girls all had company auditions this week...with Marly changing her mind and deciding to audition last minute. Happy to report they all made it. Much more dance in our future. Ellie joined a club where they meet with city officials around town. I listened to Summer Sisters while walking with Spot downtown while she went to her meeting. Friday I went to adoration with my parents, a board meeting for Nutcracker then a quick drink with Steph for her Birthday then bon bon rehearsal with Abby. She had an epic sleepover after with her pal, Michelle. It went until 6pm the next day because I just couldn't go pick her up. We met the Parks for dinner which escalated to a nightcap with the McEvneys. Phil got beat in singles. Ellie went to a football game then sleepover on Friday. She got picked up for angel rehearsal. Phil and I took Voss to party boy rehearsal. We recruited two more party boys. We got a lunch date at Publix then went to our dance rehearsal. I loved it. Marly got a ride to her first sprite rehearsal. I'm happy to say all the girls got in the same cast! My neighbor saved me by taking Marly to a Birthday party. A friend brought her home for me. I am absolutely relying on the village this season! We ubered with a bunch of friends to a fundraiser for the First Tee. Silent and live auction for a good cause. This morning Ellie and I lectored (I almost walked up there with my skirt on inside out!) Marly and Ellie altar served. We had CCD then spent the day at TCC...breakfast, liquid lunch and dinner. We watched the Jags loose and celebrated Steph's Birthday. A Sunday Funday! Here are the pics of the week.
With the storm canceling a bunch, we had a week of postponed things...like PTSA board meeting and general meeting and the open house for middle school. There were a few days where I looked at my phone and took a deep breath and said, yeah, that's going to be a hard one. Amazing how much can be packed in one day. I don't know how to step back. I'm just in it. I did a few classes at the gym to keep my zen. I got to sub into the B team and we won after a bit of a fight. We had our kickoff MOPS meeting...where I spent most of the time taking crying kids outside to watch the geese. I tagged my parents as they left adoration and I arrived, then met my friend, Kasey for lunch. I loved finishing Beartown on my drive! Phil went to Palm Coast for a guys tennis weekend. A much needed break for him. Abby had her first bon bon rehearsal for Nutcracker. I did a quick Walmart run while she was in there. We had taquitos for dinner and I found myself home alone on a Friday night. Abby and Voss had a sleepover next door. Marly was across the street. Ellie was babysitting. I was lonely for about 5 minutes. Then, I read The Secret Garden on 81st Street, my graphic novel for the book challenge. Saturday, I took Ellie to babysit another family. Voss and Abby to a neighbor's Birthday party then Abby went to be on Papa duty while Voss and I went to rehearsal. Ellie got picked up for her rehearsal. Marly's doesn't start until week. I spent a lot of time this weekend coordinating the google spreadsheets for these carpools. Phil, Voss and I are on one side of town the same time that Ellie and Marly are on the other side of town (not back to back). My sister is saving me taking my turns with the carpools. Yeah, it's a lot. That evening we went to the pool for dinner. Rachael and Tracy came to meet us and we closed the Grove down. It was a nice catch up sesh with a perfect night. This morning we went to 8:30 mass. The kids all brought up the gifts. Ellie subbed in Phil's CCD class. I've got a great 5th and 6th grade combo class. Phil came home and we went to the Engaged Encounter pool party. Well, Marly stayed home as a punishment because two nights in a row of sleeping out means epic disaster when she gets home. It was nice to catch up with the CEE crew and have Publix fried chicken! Here are the photos of the week.
Welp, we got two days in this week of school...Monday and Friday. The middle of the week was stolen by Idalia. We got lucky and dodged the storm so we had a nice 3 days in the middle of the week with gym time, reading, movies and a puzzle. Monday I went to tennis clinic then met Onie for lunch. I went to Ellie's school open house. It was super weird walking around my alma mater. In some ways it's the same and others it's even better! I went to book club at Katherine's to discuss Still Life (even though I haven't finished it yet). I did finish listening to Forever on my way over and The Vagina Monologues and the awful Things my Son Needs to Know About the World this week. Tuesday I brought the older girls to the gym with me while I did a pilates class. Later, Tracy and I walked in the park while Marly and Ellie had dance. We're back in that mode again! It did rain all day on Wednesday. We met a crowd up for tacos, happy hour and trivia for dinner. Thursday we did a round robin since our match was canceled. The girls had a dance. Matt drove in to town for the long weekend. We took it to the base at Lillians that night. Friday the kids all went back to school. I enjoyed a quiet house and went back to the gym. I went to adoration and lunch with my brother and parents. Ellie went to a high school football game (not even her own HS) while we met friends for dinner at Mellow. Saturday, Ellie and I went for a run. The other kids did a garage work out with sister trainer, Abby. Phil and Voss went fishing. The girls and I went to volunteer at the Nutcracker table at a taco fest downtown. Idalia cooled things off a bit. Marly was excited to wear the Nutcracker head, wave and take pictures with kids. We all went to 5pm mass with my parents and brother. Child #2 had a knock down drag out over "not getting to do anything". Phil and I dropped Ellie off at Cora's for a sleepover then had martinis on the back porch of TCC. It was perfect. Matt came and met us later which turned into a night of debauchery with a rooftop bar and poutine at Kickbacks. Sunday morning was a rough one. Vanessa and I played singles at high noon. I was lucky to beat her, barely. More fishing off the dock at my parent's house. Voss caught the bug and is loving it. We went to the pool via boat at TCC and the water was actually chilly. Abby went home with the Nixons for a sleepover. Voss went to Zachary's for a sleepover. Ellie and Marly came with us to watch the FSU opener game vs LSU. We began at a brewery owned by FSU alumni but it was so crowded that we went to the local hang out in time for kickoff. Chris came up with the cutest garnet & gold (grenadine & goldschlager) shot for each touchdown in the second half. Loved cheering on that win! I was happy to get a fabulous 8 hour sleep then head to the gym for a HIIT class. Abby went from a sleepover to a rock climbing Birthday party. The other girls went with the guys to shrimp for bait. We went back to TCC for Labor Day festivities while Phil took a nap after a grueling morning of tennis. Owen grilled hamburgers for dinner at my parent's. Matt caught another red right off the dock. It was a great official end of summer. Here are the pics of the week.
I'm still going to the classes at the gym to get in some HIIT workouts and weights. April hosted Kim and I for lunch on Monday to get us psyked for the summit and voluntell us for some fun roles. I'm cramming in all the Judy Blume I can to prepare for my session. The mobile bike mechanic came and fixed up all our bikes and took Ellie's (RIP) so the gang is back on wheels. I had to pick up Ellie early from a bus stop to be in time for her ortho appointment and bribe Marly to take another bus so that I can pick up both of them at the same location going forward. We had our first SAC meeting of the year and then I raced downtown for the first DCCPTA meeting. I got to go on a field trip with Abby to the marine center and then walk on the beach in Hannah Park. We had a MOPS open house and then got my teeth cleaned. Friday I lingered in a parking lot waiting on pointe shoes that never arrived. We did our PTSA audit (deep sigh) and then Jamie and I had a fab lunch at French Pantry. I picked up Ellie from the early bus stop again and then off to the first round of Nutcracker auditions! Friday was all the pointe auditions so it was calmer with the older girls. Lots of waiting around and finding odd jobs to do to stay out of dance mom drama. We were there until 9pm and knew Ellie got a pointe role since she wasn't called back for the next day. So, that was exciting. Saturday morning, Voss and Phil left first. Ellie tagged along to make sure they actually went to auditions. Next, Phil and I had our auditions. It took me a year of convincing him to audition and he walked in knowing half the people in there! Joking and laughing the whole time! Next, Abby went in for her audition. She hitched a ride home with neighbors. Phil, Voss and Ellie left earlier. Marly was last finishing up around 3pm. We stopped for a CFA treat since she was there for so long. We all took a breather and then went back up for the 5pm reveal. They never called my number so it was super awkward but I was grateful it was me and not a child. The whole BravoFam will be dancing in the Nutcracker December 7-9! It's going to be amazing! Ellie is an angel. Marly is a sprite. Abby is a bon bon. Voss is a party boy. Phil and I are party adults. Phil took Ellie to a party at Audry's then the littles home. I took Marly to the first Cotillion dance then met Phil at wine club. I was proud I left right after the Freemans. Phil not so much. Ellie and I read in mass the next morning. The other girls and Phil didn't make it. They did make it for the first religion class of the year. I'm teaching a combo 5-6th grade class so I'll have Abby this year. We paddleboarded to the Hollands for the boys Birthday party. Their pool was nice and chill and the only place to be in the extreme heat with a rita. It was a fun afternoon catching up with friends. We ended up capping off the busy weekend with the Bentons at LaNap. Here are the pics of the week.
The first day of school, I ended up in an empty house by 7:30am! Ellie is getting a ride with a high school senior. Marly's carpool took the first week. Abby and Voss rode bikes. So yeah, that was odd...in a good way. I went for a run then went to hang with my dad so my mom could volunteer at the church. We went swimming and piddled around the yard. I met the Left Gaggle for lunch. I was stressing about how everyone was getting home from school. That part has been a cluster. The first 3 days of school the middle school bus forgot to pick up the middle schoolers so Marly caught rides back to the neighborhood. It finally came on day 4 but I felt bad for the elementary schoolers because they had to wait an hour in the heat for Marly to get there. Abby popped a bike tire that morning so I picked them all up. Ellie's bus doesn't get to our area elementary school until 4:30 so that child has to ride around Jax for an hour each afternoon. I was on the phone holding for the transportation office for over an hour for them to tell me they didn't know what I was supposed to do for the first two weeks of school until the alternate bus routes come out. So yeah. Still figuring all that out. I enjoyed my time sitting in a clean, quiet house. I played tennis, went to HITT classes, lunch with Jess and Steph and even baked cookies from scratch. I had to take the van in for a recall and another day in for an oil change and bath (after that road trip!) I think everyone is liking school so far. Ellie has a ton of homework but seems to be fine managing it all. So far, so good. I filled out a ton of paperwork. We had a tennis meeting on Thursday night and Nutcracker on Friday afternoon. Phil got in some tennis but a lot was rained out, too. That rain is our saving grace from the heat...it's like a sauna down here! We met the Bentons for happy hour on Friday. Ellie babysat Thursday and Friday night. I played in a match on Saturday morning. I got to play with an A teamer! We barely lost in a tie breaker in the first set, then got spanked in the second set. It was still fun to play. From there I took Marly to a Birthday party at Dave & Busters (great idea in this heat!) then chilled at home with the littles (still very happy to not go anywhere), catching up with Abu and washing the couches- ugh. Phil took Ellie to a pool party and hung with Marly at D&Bs. That night the kids (and Marly had Addy) hung at the pool and had dinner while Phil and I enjoyed the AC in the bar again. We hung the moon listening to live music and celebrating Jenny with a nightcap. This morning Phil and I were both up playing tennis again. We went to Firehouse for lunch while Marly and Sophie walked Target. Abby and Voss had their soccer assesments (in that heat!). Now we are chilling before going to evening mass. Ready for an early night to prepare for week two! Here are our pics of the week.
What a week preparing for school! On Monday, Ellie got up early with me and we went to the middle school to host the welcome back teacher breakfast. We had a decent team of volunteers. Low on the casseroles (I need to remember to do more for next year...and get the coffee going even earlier!) I had the great idea to do 2 breakfast casseroles in crock pots so I didn't have to wake up at 5am to get a casserole in the oven. The bummer is that they were both a little overdone. They still tasted delicious, though. I was a walking mess of sickness...spreading my funk to all. I did TheraFlu each night and then crashed on the couch in the afternoon binging on Lincoln Lawyer. Tuesday, I worked the high school welcome back teacher breakfast then went to the middle school to do the faculty lunch. The high school PTA is off the chain! So many volunteers and that breakfast buffet made my Monday one look so sad. I only had one other parent help me for the lunch but the teachers stepped up and helped me set up their lunch. I bought everything that wasn't donated so there was plenty (even a last minute scramble for cheese). It was nice to see all the teachers again and meet some new ones. We are so lucky to have kids in such wonderful learning environments. Wednesday was my day off from volunteering at school. I did go to tennis bootcamp. It wasn't as beneficial as I remember last year's being. I took the kids and my dad out for ice cream that afternoon. A last ditch effort for summer fun their last week. There has been a sick amount of screen time happening. Ellie led the charge to clean out rooms and get organized, which is nice. Marly and Abby got new planners. Marly babysat on Friday and used that money to buy herself a Stanley...which she's been coveting all summer. Thursday was the middle school orientation. Marly ran around and did her thing while Ellie worked the PTSA and Friends of Table. I talked to teachers and worked the lines trying to get new PTSA members. My mom took the kids to the base pool that afternoon while I went back to the school to work the afternoon orientation session. There has been heat advisories all week. It's too hot to do anything! Friday was the elementary school meet the teacher. Abby was excited to rock her patrol gig. Voss was a nervous wreck, holding my hand the whole time. I raced in to sign up to be Abby's room parent. Phil and I ended up on a Cuban lunch break. The older girls were both babysitting. We met the Johnson-Hardisons out for pizza that night for dinner. It was nice to catch up but hot everywhere and we set in the crying kids section. Ellie had Addison spend the night. I drove them to RAM the next morning after going on a run with Spot. Marly and her pal, Addy went on a Target shopping date. Abby and Voss were happy to chill in a quiet house, a lazy Saturday Abby kept saying. They all went to the pool that afternoon while Phil and I enjoyed the AC from the inside bar to watch the Jags win their first pre-season game. This morning we went to mass. Abby altar served. Ellie, Abby and I went back to the middle school to help spruce up flower beds. Ellie and I went to the pool to read but it was just too hot. Even with a chiller it felt like bath water. We are going to do an early dinner to get everyone ready for the first day of school tomorrow! Four kids in 3 different schools! This is going to be a fun one! Here are our photos of the week.
This was our last week of official summer because next week will be packed with school prep so not as much time for summer fun. We hopped into another vacation: scalloping in Steinhatchee! A family favorite for sure, the kids were all excited and a total swap from the chilly past month. Bring on the Florida arm pit humidity! And this time we vacationed with friends. We shared a house with the Nixons and VanWies and the Gilbos were a short walk away. We did 3 fulls days out on the water and thanks to my girls, we maxed out each day (meaning a full 5 gallon bucket of scallops)! The sound of your breath in your ears and admiring the gorgeous, clear floor of the gulf never gets old. Now, this trip took a toll on my body. Water in my ear, salty skin everywhere, congestion for days as a party favor and vacation overload. I’m actually ready to just be home…alone. As soon as we unpacked from that trip, Phil and I packed up for Marywood. We’re on an Engaged Encounter weekend working with NINETEEN couples preparing for a sacramental marriage. There’s definitely been some snafus with a late start thanks to supply shortage, malfunctioning AC and my dang congestion but all in all it’s so nice to be out here at this beautiful retreat center. These couples are so vibrant and inspiring. I love hearing their stories and all the hope. I love working with the senior couple and Fr. Philip. Lots of laughs for sure! It’s been a great conclusion to the summer. Here are our pics of the week.
As Abby has told you, we had a great time on our road trip. There were good times and bad times and all in between. I think the kids appreciated it more this year. It was long. By Iowa, they were done. What was supposed to be 5 hour drives in 5 days turned into 3 days of 9 hour drives. I was wiped out when we got home. It was quite the homecoming with Spot and Phil greeting us on the street! Phil made us a welcome home meal of steak, potatoes and salad. We popped over to visit my parents (and Uncle Matt in town) after dinner. And then I crashed! I think I slept 9 hours that night. I was toast. On Saturday we took the boat out and went to the TCC pool. We took my parents for a spin on the boat and brought Matt with us to the pool. Later we met the Freemans for dinner at TCC that night. So much fun catching up! Sophie spent the night. Phil and I went back out and met up with my brother hung the moon ending at Kickbacks in the basement. We met the Freemans at mass the next morning and took it easy getting the house back together. We went to my parents for a fish dinner cooked by me brother. My sister and her kids were there, too. Matt caught all this fish and was so nice to fry for the kids and bake for the adults. I don’t even know what we did this week. I feel like I drove all over Jacksonville. Birthday parties, play dates, doctors appointments, it’s a blur. I weeded the flower beds, did laundry, unpacked and now re-packed. I got to see the Barbie movie and had a few nights out with my brother. It’s been so nice having him here to take care of my parents when I was gone, fix projects up around their house and then recaps at night. So nice to have him back on the east coast! Marly got 4 teeth removed (to make room for her adult teeth coming in). Voss got some sealants. Ellie and Marly both had their wellness appointments. Marly had a meeting with a life coach. Backpacks have been cleaned out. I posted a bunch of sign up geniuses and signed up on some prepping for the next few weeks. We did a clean up morning at Stockton. Lots of fun boat rides on our boat and my parents. Abby and Ellie have done a little babysitting. Way too much screen time. Here are our photos of the week
This is Abby again and I will be doing the blog again.
We went to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and got the badges. Then we had a picnic lunch at a park that had a cool jump thing, a zip line, and a little thing where you sit in a chair and it brings you up and back down a power line sort of thing. I called it a sit line. Then we went to the Knife River Indian Village. Then we did the packet and got those badges and also went on a trail to an Indian house and instead of a door, it was animal skin. Voss and I walked through real bison hanging to dry! For dinner, we had McDonald’s and we pitched a tent for Ellie, Marly, and Voss. Me and mom slept in the minivan. The next day we drove to the Hannasch’s house for two nights and the first day, we went to the Mall of America and me, Voss, and Declan, one of the Hannasch’s, went on a roller coaster. It was so much fun, but Declan got dizzy. The next day, we went to a waterfall in Wisconsin. So we did a trail there and when we got there, I went behind the waterfall, because it had a cave behind it. That night we had steak taco bowls for dinner, (my favorite!) Marly, mom and I made pottery on Mrs. Hannasch's mud spinner. The next day we went to my great, great grandmother’s old house, however, the new owners weren’t home and so we just played in the yard for about five minutes. Then we left and did a big total of eight hours today and got to Missouri when it was dark and raining. It was so hot and we slept in the car. No one slept at all. I slept in the car the next day when my mom drove to Alabama to my moms friend, Liz’s house for one night. We had Dominos pizza and watched a movie. Now we are driving back home! Here are the pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/xcMvuQ37nc4QDuPL8
Hi, it's Abby again. We drove to Yellowstone National Park. That night we car camped in Yellowstone. That morning we went on the Storm Point hike along Yellowstone Lake to a pretty scenery. We also saw a little family of marmots, they look like prairie dogs cousins. There was a part of the trail where I thought I was going to see a bear but luckily I didn’t. Then we had a picnic for lunch in Hayden Valley. Including tuna fish on crackers and apples. Then Ellie spotted bear foot prints going into the water. Then we went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Witch had tons of waterfalls. Then we went to our hotel room and realized how hungry we were so we went out for pizza. We got a delicious fat crust pizza and buttered garlic bread. That night we slept in our hotel. The next morning we got up and went to the Mammoth hot springs. Then we had a picnic in the trunk right next to a big patch of flowers. Then we started a trail called Mount Washburn trail. It was six miles up a mountain for a beautiful view. There was even snow on the side of the trail. Then we got back in the car and slept in the same hotel and I had mac-N-cheese for dinner that night. The next day we went to the Norris Geyser Basin. It was really foggy and we saw tons of geysers and it was really cool. Then we went to a giant geyser called Old Faithful which first started steaming and then we called dad and like three minutes later it burst and a giant wave of water splashed up and out of the geyser but it didn’t splash us and dad on the phone saw it too!
Then we drove to Grand Teton National Park and became junior rangers and rented a boat to drive over Lake Jackson and then we jumped in. However it was freezing cold! Though it was worth it! Then we drove to our hotel that was really far from here, it was in Idaho! Once we got to the hotel, we swam in the pool and hot tub and then I made myself some Mac-N-cheese for dinner. The next day we had breakfast that was really good and I had a muffin and Greek yogurt for breakfast. Then we went to Old Morman Row which was a pioneer settlement and we got to not only dress as pioneers but also make dolls and keychains out of braided rope. Then we had lunch right by Snake River that we would later be doing a trail by. Then we went to an original Homestead house. Afterwords, we went to a little church and did the rosary. And then we went to Jenny Lake and dipped our feet in for like five minutes and then we were told to leave because of a Bear sighting but I didn’t have too much time to get my shoes on so I took off my socks. Then mom realized that she had left her backpack with her keys in it. So she had to walk back with a ranger and when I was running my sock fell out of my hand but I didn’t have enough time to get it so I just left it there and then mom came back with her backpack. On our way back mom was joking and said,”Abby don’t leave your sock!” She said. My sock was picked up and put on a little fence and I grabbed it saying that it was my sock. Everyone probably thought I was playing along when I pulled out my other sock that matched it! And then everyone started laughing at me and asking me questions!
Then we went to a chill restaurant called The Bird. We ordered chips and queso and a burger and some salad. It was so good but then I got so full! Then we slept in the hotel and had a great breakfast in the morning. Then we drove to see the Mesa waterfall with a beautiful rainbow over it. Afterwords we visited the visitor center and went to a little kids craft area and played with stamps and I took home some paper. Then we had a long drive to Crater of the Moon. Mom got lost because she couldn’t get a WiFi signal for
Map. Finally, we got there and did the packet to become junior rangers. Then we did the Orchid trail and the Inferno Cone mountain trail up a super windy mountain that we did a TikTok on. Then we drove a long distance to a grocery store and got lunchables and car camped right by Grant Khors Ranch. We took a quick picture by the ranch in the cold that morning. Then we went to a gas station and I convinced my mom to let me get hot chips for breakfast as long as I shared. Then we drove to Glacier National Park and then got our Junior Ranger packets and checked out a hotel right by Lake McDonald. Then we went to Avalanche lake trail. Marly was wearing flip flops and it was 6 1/2 miles long to a little secret lake however when we got there it started raining but it felt good because we were hot. There was also a beautiful blue stream that had giant rocks over the water and we sat on them for a good view. Then we checked into a cabin for the night. It was dainty but big enough for us. We had Ramen noodles for dinner and took showers then we went to bed and I had five star sleep. We had to get up early because we needed to get on a tour boat and then we took a tiny three minute walk to another boat that took us to a 7 1/2 mile trail that took us to a real life glacier! It was so cold though. However, some boys were jumping in to a the cold water to a glacier. It was called Grinnell Glacier. On our way back, it started raining. However, once again, it felt good because we were hot. Afterwords, we went to The Two Sisters for dinner. I got a little pizza and then we played cards while we waited for our dessert which was a Huckleberry sundae and a chocolate mousse parfait. Then we checked into a last minute camp site and this time we set up a tent and a little dog came around every once and a while. His name was Joe. Apparently a pipe in the shower broke so we got to use the one in the lodge and it was so nice, I didn’t even need shower shoes. That night was great however it rained, but I didn’t mind because we had a cover. When I woke up the tent was a little damp and there was some condensation, but it didn’t bother me. The lodge had hot chocolate and tea packets. So I brought some tea packets with me and made myself some hot chocolate. Then we went to the Two Medicine entrance and turned in our packet and did the hike to a waterfall that me, Marly, and Ellie all jumped in. It was super cold , it was something like sixty degrees in there! We hiked up to a good view on the Alpine trail and then we went to the Two Medicine Lake. That we played in for a while. That night we slept in a Tipi and we counted like twenty spiders. Me and Voss slept on the air mattress and Ellie, Marly, and mom slept on a different mattress that was already there. The next morning we drove seven and a half hours and we were on our way back home! That’s where we are now! On our way to North Dakota. Here are the pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/k5Q7Dp42GrK8azEA8