Friday, May 8, 2015

Everyday I'm hustling

I found this mug on Etsy the other day and it seems to describe my life perfectly.

Photo Source
Life has been coming at us hard and fast these past few weeks. Jon and I were talking, on one of the many road trips we've been on this month, about how it feels like we just can't catch a break. But if there's one thing we've learned as parents of 4 little ones, it's how to roll with the punches. And although Jon has to work for part of it, this coming weekend is wide open. So assuming no more surprises creep up, we're planning on doing a whole lotta nothin' these next few days!

The new and improved stick fort!

We had some sad news this month. Jon's sweet Grammie T. has been battling cancer for many months now. We were so honored and blessed that she was able to join our family for Christmas this past year, knowing it would probably be her last. She had asked to see us one more time, and so when things took a turn for the worst back in April, we pulled some quick maneuvers and made the 5-hour drive to upstate New York with our kids for a final visit with Grammie.

It was so special to be with her one last time in her home--the home that she and grandpa raised their three kids in over 63 years of marriage! My boys loved running through the backyard, listening to the crickets, and throwing rocks into the creek. In fact, I'm amazed there are any rocks left to throw there after 3 kids, 6 grandkids, and 10 great-grandkids!

I love old family pictures!
Two weeks later we were back again to celebrate her life at the funeral. We spent two beautiful spring days in New York and finished at the cemetery overlooking Keuka Lake. While we're sad to lose Grammie and will miss her very, very much, I know the whole family is at peace knowing she's no longer suffering and is now in heaven with her Lord and Savior. But what a beautiful legacy she's left behind!

The 10 great-grandkids!

5 of the 6 grandkids

Grandpa with his "greats!"

It seems fitting that in between those events marking the end of a life, we were able to fit in some moments to celebrate some new beginnings in life. A few days after returning to Maryland, I was back on the road with Aunt Kylee and the kids to welcome a new sister-in-law to our family with a bridal shower!

I loved how each centerpiece was a little symbol of Carrie.

 We are thrilled that Uncle Micah is going to marry Miss Carrie in just a few short weeks! Both Jon and I and the three older kids are in the wedding, so we've been busy putting together all our wedding day attire. But our preparations for the big day have been nothing compared to what the bride- and groom-to-be have been up to. Needless to say, I'm positively giddy about celebrating wedded bliss Central Pennsylvania mountains style!

To help them get ready for their new life together, the bridesmaids held a shower at one of my favorite Pennsylvania locations--Alabaster Coffee in Williamsport, PA. You may remember this from my other sister-in-law's shower, although now they've expanded, leaving room for even more celebrants!

These two little flower girls rocked the cake decorating competition!
If you're ever in Little League territory, I highly recommend making a stop at Alabaster! The handcrafted beverages are delicious, the staff delightful, and the atmosphere inspiring!

You may be wondering what all the gentlemen were up to during this auspicious occasion. Prior to making the mad dash to PA that weekend, I was busy cleaning and prepping our home to host 11 GUYS! A few people asked if I was worried about the condition of the house upon my return. Considering I currently live with 4 kids 6 and under, I don't think anything could shock me.

Photo Credit: Uncle Jared

Photo Credit: Uncle Jared
Future groom right there!
While the girls were busy ooing and awwing over dishes and home decor and eating cupcakes and fruit kabobs, the men were fishing, go-cart racing, and shooting and eating steak and fresh caught rock bass.

Photo Credit: Uncle Jared

Photo Credit: Uncle Jared

Photo Credit: I have no idea

The timing of the shower weekend coincided perfectly with Jude's birthday, so we got to celebrate our favorite 5-year-old with most of our Pennsylvania family and some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday cake!

I just love this kid! He's so cute and fun. Jude's a hard worker, too, and one of his favorite things to do is help either Jon or I around the house. He truly likes to serve and it's so special to see that gift working in him at such a young age!

Close your eyes for a big surprise!

The face of a boy who just got his first "real" bike!
As much as I've enjoyed watching him grow this past year, I'm a little sad that my youngest boy is now school-age. I was sorting through yard sale clothes last week and, of course, the baby boy clothes really got to me. Has it really been 5 years since we brought home a second son?

 Since he's a spring birthday, I was all set on keeping Jude home with me one more year before sending him off to all-day Kindergarten, especially after the frustrating time we've had with our current Kindergarten experience. I had the "maturity waiver" all ready to go on my desk when I noticed a letter his preschool had sent home a few weeks before. Not sure how I missed it, but apparently our current preschool is raising their rates by 25%!

First day of trout season in PA and the boys caught ... nothing!
This is kinda a huge blow to our already tight budget. We spent a few days praying about our options, and in the end, decided to enroll him in Kindergarten this fall. I was a hot mess for a little while, but now that it's done, I'm feeling a lot more peace about our decision. I know I can be very dogmatic in my opinions, and this is just another instance where I feel that God is teaching me that not everything is black and white. Jude, I'm just sorry you have to be my guinea pig.

So not only is Jude going to be climbing on that bus right behind his big brother in September, but now Julia will get to go to a new preschool. I was able to finally, after trying and failing twice with Jack, secure a spot for her in the fun school across the street for two afternoons a week. It will be much cheaper than our old school and I KNOW she's going to love getting to spend time with new friends. It will be nice for her to actually have some friends of her own instead of attaching herself to every random person that happens to, literally, walk through our life.

Finally, a few days after the wedding shower/birthday/mancation weekend we had a wonderful visit with our beloved Aunt Juliann, Uncle Bob and Cousin Caleb, who was in town for a swim meet. Gosh, we love this family! And although we were sad to leave them behind when we left Virginia, they just found out they will be moving even further away! Iowa, I hope you're ready for this family! And now I can say for the first time ever that I hope to visit Iowa soon!

We like having guests that offer to take our picture every once in a blue moon!

Aunt Julie is known to come bearing gifts!

Juliann and Julia!

This is me trying to contain a 21-month-old on a balcony overlooking a gigantic swimming pool!

This is Jon and I trying to contain our brood at the end of a long swim meet!

And this is Jude with our favorite swimmer, Caleb!
So yeah, in case it hasn't been obvious, everyday I'm hustling. Jon started back to 12-hour shifts the day after we got back from New York. And early the next morning, I woke up to a phone call at 3:30am saying he'd hit a deer on his way in to work and things did not look good. He ended up sitting along the highway for almost 2 hours waiting for a tow truck. We were so grateful when one of his co-workers stopped by and brought him home so I didn't have to drag four kids out at zero-dark-thirty.

I must say, I so enjoyed this car, because the only time I got to ride in it was for date nights and the occasional night off to run errands by myself!
Thankfully, Jon is perfectly fine. The deer definitely was not. We heard reports that there were deer "pieces" strewn a good 60 yards down the highway. And the car ... well, we're still waiting to get the official word from our insurance company, but Jon's fairly certain his beloved Audi has seen it's last commute.

Nonnie, the only person willing to braid my girls' hair!

I gotta admit, it's weeks like this where I just want to throw up my hands and say, "What's next, Lord?!?" Car shopping, Kindergarten orientation, finishing painting our house (that we started weeks ago!), wedding celebrations, our family beach vacation, a camping trip, and then ... putting in our choices for next year's job change! No, the hustle just doesn't stop. And neither does the coffee or the prayers!

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