Thursday, March 30, 2017


The kids have just wrapped up two sports seasons: Lorelei's basketball, and Gryffin's indoor soccer. We threw parties for both teams at our house, with kids running all over the house and yards and roasting s'mores. Both went late into the night!

Here's a pic of Gryffin's indoor soccer team, who won medals for 2nd in their division!
Doing the Dab.
And here's Lorelei with Coach Neva and her dad. This was her basketball team's first year together, so they didn't win a lot of games, but these coaches were incredible, and that under-dog team sure had bonded and went out there to have fun. I was so proud of their attitude!
More pics from the party.
Roasting s'mores. Always our tradition.
And Bunny, who suffered through both parties. Does he look a bit frazzled?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mission SPY-cycle!

This summer we're taking a big trip overseas (which I feel very blessed to be able to pull off - we found some bargains). As part of our grand adventure, we're taking the kids back to Salzburg, Austria and have booked the famous 8-mile, 3 1/2 hour Fraulein Maria (Sound of Music) bike tour.
Photo credit: Getty Images
I'm crazy-excited about this little family adventure, but our bikes have been in storage all winter, and we can hardly go a single mile with the kids on bikes without them groaning (my legs hurt!) and complaining (I can't go on; it's just toooooo faaaaaar!).

So I thought I'd "Solve A Problem Like Maria" and help the family whip ourselves into shape NOW so that in a few months we can "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and pedal through the land of Mozart. How? I call this little rear-into-gear operation: Mission SPY-cycle. (Because after all our kids are obsessed with spying.)

I created little laminated maps of various bike routes to places like McD's, the pool, Sonic... with little clues and treats at the end. I think the kids will love it!
Let's hope they're beaming about their bikes as much as these happy Von Trapp children! 
Here we are on Mission "I SPY FISH FRY" at the local Catholic Church for Lent.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring Break with Cousins

Because I'm a full-time student, the kids just miss out on Spring Break.
Every year.
Let's not pretend they're deprived of travel, but still... in an ideal world, Spring Break should conjure fun memories, some actually away from home.

So this year I decided to skip classes (Mark still had to work) and take the kids on a road trip east. On our first leg, we stayed overnight in St. Louis. We stopped by the St Louis Zoo:
I was wowed by this incredible work of art!
Meanwhile the kids were wowed by the monkeys, who put on quite a show. One even tried to jump on my head but hit the glass and toppled to the ground. The kids thought it was hilarious (poor monkey)!

They also thought the brawling (mating!) sea lions were a hit.
Next leg of the trip: a drive to Indiana, where we stayed two nights with my cousin Stephanie and her husband, Chris. They were amazing hosts and kept us all so cozy and well-fed. I can't believe that Stephanie and I didn't get a photo together (go figure; we're moms)! But look at these darling cousins: Paxton, Gryffy, Lorelei & Grayson. Paxton doesn't look too thrilled in this pic, but he is the happiest baby!
We visited the family farm in Kentucky. I have memories here from when I was a child, chasing kittens and playing in the barn. Uncle Paul gave the kids a special tractor ride while Aunt Cindy fixed us dinner. Wild times!

My kiddos (left) and my "little" cousin, Earl (right, who I still picture as my kids' age even though he's all grown up and married to his beautiful bride, Megan).
More fun on the farm. Gryffy's helping cousin Earl feed the cows.
Lorelei, Zachary, Gryffy, Grayson and Aunt Cindy.
The next day, I took a winding road trip out to Gethsemani to tour Thomas Merton's hermitage and interview Br. Paul Quenon, who graciously loaded me up with his home-made fudge (just in time for Lent - ha!).
More about that part of the trip HERE.
On our way home we went back through St. Louis, and though I had dreams of stopping by the Art Museum, I was outvoted. So back to the zoo we went, along with City Museum (incredible and incredibly crowded!) and the Basilica of St. Louis. Gryffy declared that it was more beautiful than the Hagia Sophia. I have to admit, it looked like a perfect marriage between the Hagia Sophia and St. Peter's on the inside, complete with its own Pieta.
Gryffin said that he "touched every wound" on the Pieta.
Let's compare. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul:
And Basilica of St. Louis:

Both spectacular.

And as if God herself hadn't winked at me enough in the glistening beauty of that space, lo and behold - the Tallis Scholars, full of serendipitous meaning! (Including a pic of my friend, Patrick, who retired from the Scholars last year.)
We were going to stay the night in St. Louis but decided last minute to cancel the hotel, and drive all the way home to surprise Mark. Little did we know that meanwhile Mark was planning to take a train to St. Louis to surprise us at the hotel! I love the grand gesture, but he would have been stranded in St. Louis, and we would have had yet another full day of driving to go all the way back to get him! 

Fortunately, Mark's sweet plans were foiled when the train schedules didn't align, and that night we were back home, all full on memories of our Spring Break road trip and cozy in our own beds!

Sunday, March 12, 2017


The boy just keeps losing teeth!

Fortunately, the Tooth Fairy keeps coming through with a chunk of change and some shark teeth replacements.

And let's not forget how handy tooth loss is when perfecting the talent of blowing bubbles!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lorelei's 11!

Lorelei turned 11, which conjures all the cliche phrases about how time flies with kids - and truly, I can't believe she's this old! 
Mark and I surprised her with lunch at school from Chick-Fil-A.
Lorelei wanted to celebrate her birthday with a slumber party, as per tradition. I made some bunting as a celebration banner for the fireplace and bedecked the kitchen in blue, twirly crepe ribbons for when she arrived downstairs, a year older.
Some pics from her slumber party:
Opening presents:
Lulu's guests included Lillian, Gryffy, Aria, Reece, Christina and Ava.
Her favorite cookie cake, the one she asks for every year.
Two of the girls fell asleep at a reasonable hour. The others were up all night - ha! Fortunately I'm a light sleeper, because three of them tried to sneak onto the trampoline at around 3am. :) Not so fast...

But my favorite part of Lorelei's birthday? Bringing gifts to a family in need. Lorelei picked out this bike for a little girl, along with an adorable helmet that looked like a peacock. When we delivered the bike, that precious little girl would not get off of it! I was steering her around the wood floors of their house until my back was sore.
To add to the magic, it began to snow outside, and for this family of refugees who had just arrived in America, it was their very first snowfall. When we got home, the kids were rolling snowballs all over the yard.
Eleven things we love about Lorelei (random order):
11 - She is the world's best big sister. She and Gryffin adore each other and have an incredible bond, always have. They rarely ever argue (except about where to sit in the backseat of the car during carpool - ha).
10 - Lorelei is kind through and through. She treats others with love and compassion, and sticks up for people who are left out or need a friend.
9 - She's deeply intuitive. She listens to the soul of the world through dreams and her extraordinary perception.
8 - She works hard to be a great student; she's smart, excels in school and often represents her class for special events (math competitions, spelling bees, musical solo, etc.)
7 - She still snuggles with me. When Mark has band gigs, we have slumber parties and stay up watching movies or reading Harry Potter (we're midway through Book 4)...
6 - ... Which calls to mind that Lorelei is a voracious reader. She cannot stop carrying her Kindle everywhere. The other day, she even brought it on our family bike rides to Zaxby's and also to the Fish Fry.
5 - She doesn't start drama. She just does her thing and (usually, with a small hiccup this week) tries to avoid all the drama around her at this age.
4 - She knows who she is and what she's about. Without imposing her wants on others, she stands her ground and does things her way. (Much to my chagrin sometimes, like when I have a particular outfit in mind for church.) :)
3 - She has a spirit of adventure and chooses to be courageous. 
2 - The girl can write and draw. Stories and comic sketches, poems, research projects, debates and other creations, just flow creatively from her hands. I'm amazed at her writing and research skills, and how she comes to me all the time asking for more ideas to write about. She's always conjuring up something creative, often entrepreneurial (like Baking Club).
1 - She's exuberant about life and soaks in its beauty. She notices and appreciates, and helps me to appreciate it too (like last night, when she just wanted to sit on the porch step with me and stare into the starry sky on a mild spring night, or how she frequently wants to drive extra loops through the neighborhood to appreciate a song on the radio - music lover, she).
Lorelei, we love you something fierce! Happy 11th Birthday!