Whew! What a week! In the mornings, after I've taken the kids to school...there is this sweet spot of silence. It's amazing. God gave me this blip of time in order to allow me to handle the hail storms of the afternoons and weekends. This week in particular, I reveled in those quiet moments. I played some tennis and had a tennis party at Jennifer's gorgeous house. I played golf and had lunch with Sunny to discuss The Sellout. It rained almost every afternoon during the week, so Ellie lucked out for swim practice. We had the Village Dance studio rehearsals all week. Cutlip saved me all week...especially Wednesday when I was there for 3 hours....she gave me wine and pizza and even sheltered us during the rain. Phil's parents came in town on Thursday evening for the weekend festivities. I took them to adoration then lunch with my parents on Friday. The afternoon was going smoothly until I waited for the train on the way to pick up Ellie from school early. Ugh! We were able to check in early in my SIL, Vane's hotel room across the street from the theater. Getting ready right across the street was the way to go! I got food for the room for when we had breaks. It worked out well. Boy, was our group tired when we finally got out of there around 10pm! I loved sitting with Cutlip, drinking wine and watching the dress rehearsal. Check the video page for all the girls' dances. I took all of those that night. Saturday morning, Phil and Ellie got up early to head to the Cecil Aquatic center for the middle school city championship meet. Ellie placed 3rd in a 25m butterfly and 9th in freestyle. JWJ ranked 3 overall. Wow! He dropped her off at John's river Birthday bash for a few hours. Meanwhile, the rest of us had a lazy morning with pancakes, bike rides/dog walks, hair cuts, me reading and later Phil napping. All of a sudden it was a mad dash to get out the door for the recital. Vane came over to do make up. Marly lost her costume (which in hindsight it was good that she waited to figure that out as we were walking out the door, because had we noticed that earlier, we would have been freaking out looking all over the house for it). We found it balled up under the dressing room table. Phew! I finally chilled out when I poured my first bootleg cold red and all 11 of us were sitting in our seats. The girls danced so well. Voss was a great little brother watching the show. My parents and sister, Phil's parents and sister and the VanWie ladies were an amazing fan club. We went out for late night pizza at my favorite Moon River after. What a night! Sunday we were able to sleep in a bit. We had to be at the church at 9:45 for Abby's First Communion. Good thing we had so much time because Ellie and I had practiced the wrong version of Sunday's readings! Marly and Ellie did a great job altar serving. Ellie and I were lectors. They even had Abby bring up the gifts with some of her class mates. It was cool to have all the Bravo ladies participating. I was in awe that we had such a family support group for the first communion photo. I can't wait to see how it turned out. After we all headed to the TCC pool for an after party. The Nixons and VanWie's met us up there. It was a gorgeous spring day (too cold to swim, but perfect to sip and sit) visiting with family and friends. The cherry on top was Dane (and Jeff) Facetiming Abby on the way home to congratulate her! Just, wow! We had leftover pizza, charcuterie and salad, got more hair cuts and did the rosary together (with some new rosaries). Then an early bedtime for all! We were wiped out! Today was calm once I got everyone where they needed to be. Kids off the school, the Bravos headed back after breakfast. Vane decided to stay an extra day and spent the morning "lounging like a lizard" at her hotel pool. I met a new JWJ PTA friend for coffee and talked about my new role as VP of membership. I had a zoom Stockton PTA meeting discussing the end of the year and the kickoff of the school supply fundraiser. Now Vane and Marly are playing checkers, Voss is doing homework. Ellie is getting ready to watch her buddy, Charlotte swim in the first river rats swim meet (odd not being there this year!) while Phil plays tennis. Abby is doing gymnastics in the front yard. It's a delightful Monday afternoon! Check out the pics from the week.
I just hit the ground running this week. It took me a day to get the house back in order after being gone all week. My dad and I went to open my sister's house so her new dishwasher could be delivered. Spot and Vader got a play date. I listened in on the parent zoom patrol meeting. Marly's training starts soon. She's selling Dreamette gift cards. It's going to be good. That night I went to Steph's for a girls night. I ended up staying too late and didn't set myself up for success for the week. The TCC Bad moms hosted a baby shower for Claire at lunch on Tuesday. Ellie was blowing up my phone asking me to pick her up (trying to get out of swim). Wednesday was cinco de mayo. Rosie hosted coffee club to discuss a Podcast on gentrification. It was a great talk in her gorgeous house. Rachael and I had lunch at High Tide. That evening we had a fundraiser for Lauren's new gig with Episcopal Children Services. Another fun night out. Thursday was our last MOPS meeting. Sherry sent me a text at midnight saying she had to bail due to her daughter being sick. So, no massages. We did have mimosas, did nails and facials and talked about plans for the summer. The morning flew by. Cutlip was out of town all week so I had to find walking partners this week. Jess came to walk one day and so did Tracy. It was teacher appreciation week so we showed lots of love for the teachers- gift baskets, gift cards, coupon books and handmade cards. Phil celebrated all week, too...with basketball and tennis. On Friday Dad and I went to adoration (mom was out of town visiting her sister and my sister) and then Phil met us for a seafood lunch. I met the bad moms at the pool then picked up the kids from school. We had some Kona ice. Ellie went to Harley's after school...probably to evade my wrath upon getting a call from her teacher/coach regarding her attitude. We are working on that this weekend, please send any tips my way. Phil and I met some couples at O'rsay happy hour to celebrate his Birthday. The party continued to TCC. It was a fun night. Saturday was rough for him. Our flooring has been delayed a week so I decided to move the kids back into their bedrooms. We did a lot of shifting of stuff. The Nixon twins received their first communion on Saturday. We went to the after party at FYC. I met up with some MOPS moms to attend Cobb's funeral. That night we went to the Owen's ocho de mayo party. Sunday was both Mother's Day and Phil's Birthday. Marly was an altar server at mass. The other kids passed out flowers and prayer cards to the moms. It was sweet but made me think about all the women there not being honored. Phil and I my dad made breakfast at my parents house. My dad took the kids tubing. It was nice to spend the day with my mom and sister. We spent the afternoon cleaning and shifting more stuff. Phil and I went on a dinner date to TCC. Early bedtimes for all! Here are the pics of the week.
I started to get anxious thinking of May. It's about to get busy with wrapping up the end of school. We had painters come every day this week. They finished on Friday and the rooms look great! I listened to Jane Eyre, polished silver and organized kids clothes while they removed popcorn and painted. Next is flooring. Let's hope that happens this week. Tuesday we went to the new member mixer with the Hollands. They are now on the waitlist for TCC. Turned into a fun night out. Ellie's swim schedule is picking up. She's going to have to choose between that and dance. Tough as recital week approaches. I raced downtown on Monday morning to buy recital tickets, a new trend this year. Click here to see pics of the girls in their recital costumes. After Ellie's meet on Thursday I took her to her first concert, Sugar Ray. We just stayed for a bit but it was a perfect night. On Friday morning I headed to Amelia Island after I rode bikes with the kids to school. We had a C Team tennis weekend. We stayed in two villas at the Omni. Our villa did a round robin that morning then had lunch. We spent the afternoon in the pool and hot tub and then had the whole group to our villa for charcuterie. It was Kerri's Birthday and her husband had brought up a Biscotti's cake and champagne to celebrate her. It was so sweet. The next morning we walked on the beach then played another round robin and did a clinic with coach Jen. After we sat on the beach then back to the pool and hot tub. The second night was much calmer yet even more belly laughs. What a great group! This morning I got up and met my sister at the Ritz Carlton spa for her Birthday. It was a wonderful weekend of fun and relaxation to kick off a busy month! Here we go! Here are the pics of the week.
It was a busy week with nights out. Fun for me but now I am looking forward to a week of sleep catch up. I feel off after my 2nd COVID vaccination. This week I will be fully vaccinated (since it takes 2 weeks after my second shot). I've had periods of chills, fatigue and maybe a low grade fever (if I took my temperature). But maybe it's just because I have been going out every night this week and not staying hydrated. Phil and I went and picked out flooring for the kids bedrooms. That project starts tomorrow. It's been a weekend of clearing out the 3 bedrooms. So. Much. Stuff. It will be nice to start from scratch in the kids rooms. New paint, no more popcorn, new floor and new furniture (thank you to Abu!) The next month will be rough living in chaos but I'm excited to have the rooms cleaned out! Ugh, the dust! Monday I rushed to finish the book club book, End of Life Book Club. It was an interesting discussion. Of course I stayed way too late and then Tuesday I was totally off. The tooth fairy failed on the job that night. Both Marly and Abby lost teeth that day. Her note on Wednesday morning said she was recovering from her 2nd COVID shot. I showed up wearing red when the whole team was wearing white at our tennis match on Tuesday morning. I was so embarrassed. Thank God Jane and I won. Melanie brought champagne to toast our winning season. I got fingerprinted so I can teach CCD in the fall. I still need to sign up for the safeguarding class and convince Phil to do the same. Ellie had a swim meet at Westside High twice this week. She skipped Thursdays meet to go to dance instead. That's going to be a balancing act. Kate hosted Meghan and I for a movie night to watch What Lies Beneath. Pretty creepy. I got in for a fun match on Wednesday with Christian, Christy and Patti. I finished listening to Lassoing the Sun. It's getting me excited for the summertime! Thursday I spent Earth Day with April. We walked then she took me to this fun French Bistro for lunch. It was nice to catch up and I was able to run errands on that side of town (wine and chocolate for Laurie and Catholic store shopping for Owen). That night I took my eldest Godson and nephew to his Confirmation rehearsal. We went for ice cream after, even though it was a pretty chilly night). Friday I ran and went to adoration alone. My parents were visiting my cousin, Dane and checking on the condos. Dane is doing better. She's awake and responding by smiling and squeezing hands. Please keep praying as she has a long road to recovery. I played a fun match with Ann Marie, Christian and Abby. Ellie ended up going to the Quinn boys house after school with the youth group gang. Voss went to Luka's Birthday after school. The middle two got Kona Ice and helped with room clean out. I picked up the Birthday party kids then Phil and I took a sunset boat cruise to the Osborns for their Sip & Savor night. It was a gorgeous night! Saturday was Owen's Confirmation mass. They had almost 100 candidates! It was huge! Suzanne had us over after for a party. It was nice to catch up with the family. An afternoon of clearing out rooms then Marly and I got pizza for dinner. Phil and I went to the VanWie's to compare the wine we got in North Carolina. We did a blind taste test and of course the wine we thought wasn't that great when we were there was WAY better than the case we bought! I read in the parking lot while the kids went to CCD this morning. We went to Olivia Cochran's mermaid Birthday at TCC. The girls and I left for their recital dance photos. I got them in for pictures together this year. I really hope they turn out nice. We went back to the party for cake. We finished cleaning out the rooms so they are all ready for the popcorn ceilings to come down tomorrow morning. Whew! We went to Tijuana Flats for dinner and then did a rosary walk. We've got 4 kids sleeping in the living room tonight. We'll have to see how this goes! Here are the pics for the week.
It was a country club week with tennis and golf. I went to clinic on Monday and did a reject match on Tuesday (since we didn't get into the match). I played golf with Allison and Christine on Wednesday. We even did a Reels. Ellie had her first swim meet at Lakeshore middle. It was very different from the country club league of the summer. I don't mind the short and sweet part. Her Thursday meet was rained out, which was a blessing because she preferred dance that afternoon since they were learning the rest of their recital dance. We have been praying really hard for my cousin Dane. She's doing better but not out of the clear yet. She's still in the ICU. I zoomed with family members and her church friends to do a rosary this week. That was really neat, but very emotional. We've been listening to a lot of Michael W. Smith. My dad fell and broke a few ribs so I've been checking in on him a bunch this week, too. I brought him lunch one afternoon and visited a few times. I met the Left Gaggle out at Tracy's one night. It was good to catch up. Thursday we had a MOPS meeting with a mental health counselor. There were only 4 of us so it was more of a personal session, which was nice. We even walked and talked so that was cool. I got my 2nd COVID shot that afternoon. Way easier than the first. No line, in and out. My arm was much less sore. I did feel off almost exactly 24 hours after. I stayed hydrated and powered through and was fine. I finished reading Commonwealth and am hoping to finish the book club in time for tomorrow night. Mom and I went to adoration and lunch at FYC together on Friday. Dad was still feeling sore so we brought him lunch to go. When I picked up the kids from school I got the biggest surprise: Marly made patrols! I am still in shock! I thought not making honor roll all year would have cut her but apparently not. She pulled it out. We are so proud of her! I headed out to Amelia Island for a girls weekend with my friend, Kerri and her pals (mostly women from wine club). We got caught up over wine and charcuterie and learned to play Euchre. We did cartwheels on the beach and had a dance party before bed. The next morning we did a rotating tennis match then lunch. We walked to the Ritz for the hot tub then I had to head back to town to pick up Ellie and friends from CISV camp. We were supposed to go to a friend's sip and savor bourbon tasting but rain canceled that. We ended up having dinner with the VanWie's at TCC. We saw the fireworks barge out and got the kids so we could watch the fireworks from a wedding. It was fun to watch the fanfare from afar. Ellie spent the night at Harley's. This morning was lazy. The kids were late for religion class. Lots of reading and saying "I'm bored". It's been raining all day. Phil, Spot and I were able to sneak out for a walk. We went to mass this evening then I grilled burgers for dinner. Here are the pics from the week!
I'm back in the full swing for tennis. I played almost every day this week. Monday was clinic, I got in for the Tuesday match when Jane's boys got sick. Jennifer and I pulled it out with an unnecessary tie breaker at the Yacht Club. Kerri, Ashley, Jennifer and I played a fun match on Wednesday. I gave up my spot for the Thursday match (since I am a part timer and already got to play Tuesday), but I did come out to watch the match then stayed for a team lunch. Friday, Phil and I did the reggae tennis social. So, lots of playing time! It was great. I also got a few fun nights out (which included too many McDonalds runs). Monday, I went to Stephanie's for an after dinner drink, except she hadn't eaten dinner yet so I got a round two of clams. It was nice to catch up with her. Wednesday I watched Phil's match then went to Kate's for a MOPS GNO doing an Escape room. Thursday was a night at VDub's Pub and we ended up there on Friday after the tennis party. Saturday we celebrated Ellie's Birthday party on the river. She invited 4 friends to come with us on the boat to Ft. George Island. The water was cold, but the weather was perfect. It was a great day. It ended a little dramatically with a storm rolling in, but the kids loved it. The stars aligned for the other kids, too. We dropped Marly and Abby off at a dock on the way out. My friend, Angela took them to Sophia's Birthday party. We picked them up from her dock as the storm was coming on the way home. My saintly neighbor, Linda took Voss and her great grandson to lunch and a movie. So, everyone had a great day. Phil and I met the Napoleons for an early dinner then early bed for all. Sunday, Ellie and I were lectors at mass. Ellie and Marly were altar servers. I forgot to turn on the microphone for Ellie. Lesson learned. They had religion class so we got a Panera date. It rained most of the day. We snuggled on the couch, ordered pizza and watched Aladdin. We went on a rosary walk when the rain cleared, this time in honor of my cousin Dane. Please pray hard for her today. She had a heart attack on Saturday night. Thank God her husband, Jeff was there to get her help and start CPR until the paramedics arrived. She's still fighting and not yet in the clear. Prayer warriors unite! We started bedtime early and headed to Biscotti's to celebrate Meghan's 40th. It was a nice dinner. Ilya (my friend the site host and tech guru) told me BravoFam is so slow because of all my photos. So, I'm going to try something different for weekly photos. Click on this link to see photos from the week. Let's see if that helps the site load faster on your phone.
It was a shorter "me time" week since the kids were out of school for Thursday and Friday. But don't worry, you know I made the most of it. I went to tennis clinic on Monday. Lots of laughs and running, just what I needed! I've been catching up on This is Us, listening to Naked Singularity (still) and reading Commonwealth. Mondays are so nice because I get a carpool break. Whomever comes home with me, comes right home, plenty of time to work on homework and make dinner. Ellie gets a ride home from swim team, Marly gets a ride home from dance. It's nice. Tuesday, I did a fasting day. Those are never fun, but it makes me feel like a rockstar when I do it. Our tennis match was rained out. I got caught up on family videos so make sure to check out that page for updates. Swim was rained out but we still walked. Tracy joined us, too and Laurie had cupcakes to celebrate her Abigail's Birthday. Wednesday, I tried to get a tennis game going to no avail. One last day to hang out at home in a quiet house. There was one morning where I didn't change out of my nightgown until noon. I even watched the Today Show. It was nice. Then I picked up lots of kids from school and chaos ensued. Afternoon rain meant more cancellations for swim and tennis (Phil). I went to the Southside for a MOPS girls night clothing swap. I got rid of a few bags of clothes, which was nice. I was the only one who showed up, but got quality time getting to know Khristi. Thursday was Ellie's 12th Birthday! All the rain brought a chill so we had to postpone Ellie's grand plan for a boating Birthday party. After donuts, we left her home alone to watch Vampire Diaries while the other 3 and I headed to St. Matts for a MOPS Easter egg hunt. It was chilly, but a sweet party. It was well attended and I got to catch up with some moms I hadn't seen in a while. After, Ellie and I went to lunch at Firehouse then to WD to shop for the weekend. The girls had dance that afternoon so back to the park. We took Laurie's idea and brought ice cream for a little park party. That night after dance, Phil picked up Chinese food and the 3 of us watched The Hunger Games. Ellie and I stayed up watching her baby videos. It was a sweet day with her. Friday was a lazy day. I ran with Spot and then we did the Stations of the Cross on our street. Tug and one of his friends made stations this year to add to our eggs from last year. The Applegates set them up. It was chilly, but a gorgeous day. We had some attitude issues, but got through it. Abby spent the night at the Cutlip's for Abigail's Birthday. Charlotte spent the night with us (since she can't do the boat day next weekend). We were having major tude problems by 5pm. I dropped #s 2 and 4 off at the VanWie's and did an adult dinner at TCC. It was a great way to brighten the day. Too late and too much wine, but sleeping in was fabulous, especially with 3/4 kids out! We went to TCC for breakfast with the Easter bunny. As usual, they did such a nice job! I love how the parties are split up in smaller group these days. The egg hunt was a bummer for the older kids but they didn't seem to notice. The Easter Bunny came last night with help from a youth group who likes to egg houses. This morning started very early with an egg hunt in the yard in the dark. Making it to 8:30 mass was no problem. It was squishy, with a few mishaps, but still very nice. We had lunch at my parents with my sister, nephews and Fr. James. It was really a perfect day. We all have so much to be grateful for. Happy Easter!
When I left off last week, it was a low key day that picked up pace. I took the younger two bowling for a MOPS play date. They both liked it. It was a great turn out for MOPS. I picked up Ellie from Cora's and took the kids to the park. It's been a while since we had an afternoon park date. Ellie and I walked laps while the other kids played. We took Marly to dance. After bowling, I rode my bike to book club and did a quick change at the Hollands into a Mexican Gothic dress (SQ's bridemaids dress was perfect). Too bad I ripped the back trying to get into it. BC was nice. It was a perfect night with a great discussion. I didn't like a racial tone it went into at one point. We all have work to do on that conversation. Tuesday I booked it out to Queens Harbor for a tennis match with Julie on line 2. And we killed it! We made some mistakes and will do better next time, but we beat them 6-3, 6-0. From there I headed to CVS (in line behind Kerri) to get a COVID shot! At BC, they helped me figure out how to get in with an online appointment. I said I was a self employed child care worker. They didn't ask for any verification at CVS, just my ID and insurance card. I waited an hour and BOOM. I'm half way vaccinated! My arm was a little sore the following day but it wasn't bad at all. On Wednesday, I went to SSI with April to look at a possible new summit location. It was a delightful day trip. I think this new location will meet the needs of the group better. We had oysters and a yummy cocktail for lunch and got back in time to pick up kids. That night was the Penance Service. Phil played in a tennis tournament so we were a little late because I had to wait on Ellie to get out of dance. She made the JWJ swim team so now we are juggling those practices with dance. I'm very grateful to be included in a carpool! The service was nice but went late. Phil Bravo snoring meant I was grumpy on Thursday. It was a home day for me. I didn't get into the tennis match and no MOPS. I did laundry, cleaned lots of pollen (it just keeps coming!), listened to A Naked Singularity (rocky start but I think it's very good) and worked on the Spring Break video. Phil is now home on Thursday nights so it's nice to have help. I also got 2 dozen roses, which was nice. The weather got hot again. So chilli for dinner wasn't great when it's 90 outside. Typical North FL spring! Friday I went to adoration with my parents and then to lunch at High Tide for Aubree's Birthday. Voss had a play date with his friend, Grant. Ellie went to youth group. We did pool and dinner at the Grove. Now we are planning a wine tasting trip in Chile with the Napoleons! Saturday was Phil and my 17th wedding anniversary. Phil made breakfast. We went on a family run/walk. Lots of screen time. Phil and I went to a quick lunch at Chipotle and then massages by Sherry. She is so amazing. I went first then took a walk listening to my book during Phil's turn. It was hot! I took the younger three to the pool. It was cold but felt great. We got the kids situated with Mandalorean and pizza then headed to Enzas for our anniversary dinner. The piano bar was nice then we ate and drank. We got a text saying Jason had won PowWow, the big golf tournament at TCC (again). So we crashed that party on the way home...dancing and drinking until the wee hours. We got up early for mass since the girls were serving. We brought up the gifts with the littles. The Freemans sat with us and then came to breakfast after. Our neighbors threw a sweet party for their great grandson. We spent the afternoon with them. We took the boat out that evening and headed back to TCC. We made the mistake of not covering it from last weekend so we had to run it to get all the pollen out. It's covered now. We did a rosary walk and sent the kids to bed. Then, we crashed my parent's steak dinner. I'll tell you what, my dad makes the BEST steaks on the grill. It was a nice night catching up with them.
It was a good week to get back into the swing of things. It was so nice having a quiet house with kids back in school and Phil back in the office. I went running (dragged by) with the dog and to tennis clinic. Tuesday was my mom's Birthday. We played golf then met my dad for lunch. The Freemans finally decided to join TCC so we did a quick member mixer with them that night which turned into a late night of dinner and copious amounts of wine...on a Tuesday. Wednesday was St. Patty's Day. The kids made a cute leprechaun trap. They didn't catch anything but someone left a few ones and a box of Lucky Charms for breakfast. I hosted coffee club at Kickbacks to discuss slander in the media, particularly women (inspired by the Brittney Spears documentary). It was a depressing conversation but I did enjoy a lukewarm Guinness and catching up with some gal pals. It makes me sad when women don't support women. Thursday we had a financial advisor talk to us at MOPS. I was thankful she wasn't too salesy and we ended up having a great conversation afterwards about college savings plans and life insurance. It was another gorgeous day to sit outside. The wind picked up a bit but it wasn't until Thursday when the rain and cold came. Stephanie, Jessica and I had lunch together to celebrate Jess' Birthday. It was nice getting together the 3 of us. A boozy afternoon lunch with the gals at River & Post. We rode bikes to school on Friday and the rain had stopped but it was chilly. My parent's were out of town visiting my sister so I went to adoration alone, which was nice, too. I started back up watching This is Us. Always good for a good cry. I finished listening to Mexican Gothic this week. It was maybe the scariest book I've ever read (listened to). I could only listen during the day! I'm excited to discuss it at book club tonight. Trying to figure out how to ride my bike there in costume. I also finished reading Maid this weekend. I really want to discuss it. I feel like a horrible person for not liking it. I feel better after reading the reviews but just ugh. We had the youth group gang over after school. I just love that we are helping to make it cool. I loved my time in youth group and I want Ellie (and all my kids) to like it, too. Charlotte ended up spending the night after. Phil and I went up to TCC for a nightcap. Saturday morning was slow. Phil made breakfast. Charlotte got picked up by her sister, Blythe learning to drive! I was supposed to talk to the confirmation kids about my Peace Corps experience but I got the location wrong so we will have to reschedule. Our friends the Howards came over and we went on the boat to the Tiny Dock series. It was a last minute call. The weather was iffy. It turned out to be nice, although not many boats attended. We stopped by the VanWie's for the fire pit, drinks and to meet Paul's sister and brother-in-law. We brought Ava Mae back with us for a surprise Bravo sleepover. We went to TCC for dinner, which of course ended up with us watching a band and doing shots at Lillians. What. We were late on a rainy Sunday for mass and had to sit in the way back. The kids did a cute egg hunt in religion class. Phil made us brunch when we got home. Marly and Abby went back to play at the VanWie's that afternoon. Regan and I went to a nail party at Kim's house to try Colorstreet. Pizza and a rosary walk then we watched Yes Day as a family movie night. Today is a planning day so no school. We are moving onto the 4th quarter! It's been a lazy day. Ellie is playing at Cora's. Spot dragged me on another run. We are going to maybe go to a park and bowling before I sneak off to book club in Suzanne's bridesmaids dress.
We got up on Sunday and headed to North Carolina. We caravanned with the VanWies and had Ava Mae ride with us, a little Birthday fun for Marly. I listened to Shoe Dog and was very happy to make it up there. Phil drove most of the way and I got the fun high country part. We checked into our hotel and found a place to rent skis, right across from the entrance to Sugar mountain. Many places charged for that day but this guy went to FSU and wanted to close early so he hooked us up. We went to a Mexican restaurant down the street for dinner. We sang to Marly and she got her face smacked with whipped cream. All the calls and sweet texts made her a happy ten year old! Yay, Marly! Monday morning we were up and ready to go. The grab and go breakfast at the hotel was perfect. We actually made it to App Ski so early we had time to do a Reels dance before the lifts opened! We were ready! Aside from achy legs in ski boots when we walked, it was an awesome day on the slopes. I like the idea of starting with App Ski because it's easy and small. Ellie had conquered the place by lunch. Everyone felt comfortable and remembered how to ski. It was a beautiful day. We shed our coats in the afternoon. The VanWies did ski school. Phil and Marly were done by 4. I begrudgingly convinced the rest of the kids to pack up, although we could ski until 6pm. I was good with that choice when we found a fun dinner spot and inhaled my fried chicken sandwich and flight of beer. We were wiped out! Marly spent the night with the VanWies in their condo that night. Phil and I took a dip in their swanky hot tub before heading back to our hotel. A hot tub is key for this experience going forward! Tuesday was a breather day. We found a pseudo hiking trail before hitting up some snow tubing at Sugar Mountain. Of course everyone loved the tubing! We went to a BBQ lunch in downtown Banner Elk. Then, we hit up Banner Elk winery after for a relaxing afternoon of sipping and swirling and splitting a case of cab. We picked up a pizza on the way home then back to the VanWies hot tub! Wednesday was another ski day, this time at Beech Mountain. My shins were so sore and almost felt bruised when we began. Wow, is this normal?! I powered through and got used to it. The kids did so awesome. They all ended up doing a black diamond together! That was just so cool! Ava Mae flew off the starter green slope and ended up in the ER for x-rays. She's okay but freaked us out. No more skiing on this trip for them. I'm proud of Phil for making it to the top of Beech Mountain (highest slope in eastern America) for a beer before heading down. That sky bar is so cool up there! That night we did a parent's night out at a nice steak house. Ellie spent the night at the VanWies. We were all wiped out. By this point, the one hotel room for the fam was getting old. We had an air mattress but it was a lot. Thursday was another day off. We slept in and finally found the Linville Falls hiking trail (the road was closed so that took a while). We played on the trail and did a waterfall Reels then found a country diner for lunch. Next stop, Linville Falls winery. It was another gorgeous, spring day with a beautiful farm. We did another parent's dinner out with a kids popcorn party in the hotel. We tried this Cuban place and then a fun bar. It ended in turmoil with too much booze. Friday was our final ski day at Sugar mountain. It was misty and rainy and almost looked like snow (according to Abby). The kids loved it. Sugar is the largest resort in the area with so many lifts. We skied until close and we were all wiped out! We went to the Hennings for dinner- they had a cabin not far away. We played poker and grilled out with yummy southern veggies. It was a nice ending to the vacation! Saturday morning we got up, packed up and headed out. Phil and I finished listening to Shoe Dog on the way home, it was such a great book! It was a long drive home but we made it. We picked up Spot and I walked him home. Lots of laundry and washing the car. Phil and I went out for a sushi dinner to recap the week. This morning we sprang ahead an hour and barely made it to mass on time. Ellie and I did the readings and Marly altar served. It was so neat to have half the family participate (Phil said that was his high at dinner tonight). The kids went to confession at religion class. Phil and I went to Panera. I walked Spot down to visit my parents but they were out boating with friends. We went to the TCC pool for a bit but it was too cold. I made BLTs for dinner. We went on a walk and said the rosary. Reading and bedtime and ready for school tomorrow! I'm thinking of this time last year which began the longest spring break ever. I'm so grateful to have them back in school!