Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy 8th Johnny!

Dear Johnny,

Today you are 8.

7 was totally your  year wasn't it?

I smile just thinking about much you've really blossomed this year.

For a while there you had a tough time. You were my baby for so long. My buddy. I think it was hard for you to let that go. But now I think you finally get it.

My sweet middle boy---you've found yourself this year and life is good. There's so much to celebrate about you!

You're my lover of bugs and critters and everything outdoors. You're my inventor with a vivid imagination. You're my engineer---a self-proclaimed "nerd". My creative problem solver. You love discovering how things work, and you just have a completely unique way of looking at the world. You're silly and funny. You love to laugh and make everyone else laugh too.

You are a people pleaser and stellar student. You've had the most amazing second grade teacher who just seems to "get" you. And I think she may have captured your heart.

Because you are my lover. You always have been. Not many other boys your age would spend their own $16 on a necklace for their teacher.

You are so generous with your love and you're never afraid to show it. You're my expert hugger and super cuddler. You write me letters and poems and buy me jewelry and make me crafts.

The way you look after your little sister truly warms my heart. Who would have guessed my son, my middle child, would be the one to care for his baby sister as if she were his very own? You change her and feed her. Play with her and read her books. She refuses to take a bath without you and you're the first one she wakes up in the morning. You show her so much love that she can't help but adore you.

I told you being in the middle isn't so bad.

You will forever be my favorite boy in the entire world. My buddy. My partner in crime. You are still the best snuggler and I will never ever turn down your hugs.

You may be stuck in the middle, but you're right where you're meant to be.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sore Winner

If your team wins, you win. Right?

Well, Julie hasn't quite grasped that concept yet. She's so hard on herself and so competitive, that if she doesn't feel she performs her very best, it's a loss. Even if it's a win.

A couple weekends ago Julie competed in a karate team sparring tournament. The fact that she made the team before earning her black belt was pretty impressive in and of itself. But, she's a tough girl and she enjoys sparring.

Side note: It's still so strange and nerve-wracking to watch your little girl throw punches, kick people and sometimes get kicked in the head.

This was the first team sparring tournament ever, and it was such a fun experience. Teams of five compete against each other tournament style. So if you lose one round, your knocked out of the tournament. Competitors go one at a time into the ring to spar the opposite team, and points are given for punches, kicks, jump kicks, etc. Then the points from each team member are combined to determine the winning team.

Julie's team came in first for the sparring competition. But she didn't feel like a winner. During her rounds, she didn't spar as well as she wanted, and didn't earn as many points as she hoped.

Though she cheered on her team members, at the end of the tournament she was bummed. She sulked, pouted and asked to go straight home instead of to a restaurant to celebrate.

Scott and I knew she was upset, but we didn't let her mope. This was a lesson in teamwork, sportsmanship and qualities that are so much important than winning.

We tried to explain that we didn't care whether she won or lost or how many points she scored. When you're on a team, it's so much more important to support your fellow team members and be a gracious loser and winner---even if  in your heart,  you were disappointed.

I think we finally got through to her a bit. I guess we never thought we'd have to teach our kids how to win, but sports are all about life lessons.

Friday, March 24, 2017

She's worth it

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week and Johnny was determined to make his teacher, Miss Sumner feel special. He wrote her notes every day, and insisted on spending his own $16 on this starfish necklace he thought would look perfect on her.

I offered to pay for the necklace but Johnny said "I want to. She's worth my money because I love her."

It says a lot when a 7-year-old boy, who happens to also love money, spends $16 on a necklace for his teacher. How special she must make him feel for him to want to give back to her. Not every year do our kids have teachers that truly care about them, that know them so well, and want more than anything for them to succeed and feel loved.

In the beginning of the year, Miss Sumner introduced herself in a letter to parents explaining that she doesn't have any children of her own, but that the kids in her class are like her children.

I think she was right on when she wrote that, and she's lived up to that statement in so many ways.

So, thank you Miss Sumner for making my little middle boy feel so special and loved every day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A new leprechaun

Since Julie was in preschool, a leprechaun has visited our house every March. He makes a mess. Leaves green pee in the toilets. And sometimes leaves St. Patrick's-sy treats like Lucky Charms or pistachio muffins.

This is something the kids get a kick out of every year, and Johnny, especially enjoys trying to catch the little mischief maker. He started designing his trap around Christmas time, and kept the plans on his desk since then.

This year, however, the leprechaun was played by Julie. Read back a few blogs about our Christmas drama when she discovered the truth about Santa and all our fantasy characters who visit our house. Well, after her Christmas breakdown, she begged to be the leprechaun.

So she did.

And she was a darn good leprechaun. She faithfully waited until Johnny fell asleep every night, then made messes and left little messages. Scott called her "AIT" for Agent in Training". She just ate it up, and loved watching Johnny's reactions every morning.

Though it's kind of sad she no longer believes, it's fun to start a new chapter with her as our secret helper.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Memphis with the Girls

Two decades have passed since I graduated high school, but I can say my high school buddies are still my closest friends. Maybe there's just a connection we share because we grew up together. We understand our roots and we have countless memories we shared. We've been there through the awkward stages, the celebrations, the hard times. Pretty much every milestone since 14 years old, we've been there for it.

And though we've remained friends through the years--we've all changed so much--marriages, kids, moves, jobs, and all of life's ups and downs. We've been there for each other.

After high school, we tried to do annual girls trips. Though they took a hiatus after we started getting married and career or family-focused, we've restarted our annual trips in the last five years.
These are trips we all look forward to, and we all agree it's something we pretty much need. We bond, laugh, vent, cry, and act completely goofy and don't care.

We just got back from our most recent trip--this time to Memphis.  We were celebrating our friend Sophie who turned 40. It was an absolute blast and the city which made rock n roll famous--completely surprised us. The culture. The food. The nightlife. The history. It was all amazing and I, personally can't wait to come back with the family. We ended our trip by brainstorming possibilities for next year---the year most of us turn 40!! Can't wait to see what next year holds.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Our Annie

There's not a more iconic a role than Annie, in my opinion, at least. So, when Julie auditioned for the local "Annie" production and scored the lead role, we were all ecstatic.

Because of conflicting times, Julie had to give up basketball (her favorite sport), to be in the play. But, we figured being "Annie" was worth it.

For two months, Julie worked hard to memorize her lines and dance numbers, and Saturday was the big day.

Seeing her up on stage wearing a red wig and singing "Maybe", I couldn't help but get choked up. How awesome to see your little girl shine on stage! Though the production was much smaller than we initially assumed, and there were some hiccups along the way, our Annie was amazing.

Scott and I, both can't help but live vicariously through Julie, as she seems to literally light up on stage. It's definitely where she belongs...for now at least.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Some of my favorite memories include my cousins.
I'm a bit younger (five to 10 years) than most of my cousins, but I loved every moment spent with them. Whether it was ping pong tournaments at Thanksgiving, tubing at Deep Creek Lake in the summers, hunting eggs in my aunt's backyard or kickball tournaments in New York, there were so many moments I look back on and smile.

Cousins were a big part of growing up, and I think it's that way for my kids too. Though they don't have any cousins who live close, when they spend time with them it's always so fun.

Last week, we had a visit from Scott's brother and his family Todd, Melinda and their 2 1/2 year old son Matthew. Though Matt's quite younger than the older 2, he's the size of a 4 year old, he has a great vocabulary and he can do stuff that some 5 year olds can't--like ride a bike, hit a ball with a bat and whiz around on a two-wheel razor scooter. Julie and Johnny loved having him around. Josie too, though she couldn't quite keep up with her big (literally) cousin.

We loved showing them around---to the aquarium, zoo, a gold mine, and the local parks. Because we live far from family, these moments don't come very often, so when they do, we're sure to savor them.