Billy’s birthday is always a double whammy holiday falling on Valentine’s Day…but this it was a triple celebration: Birthday, Valentine’s Day, and Ash Wednesday!
Don’t worry, Billy wasn’t an after thought, he was the main event! We had friends over for beef tenderloin two days before his birthday. We celebrated him on his actual birthday and went out with a group of friends two days after his birthday. We also did another dinner for all February birthday friends the following week. I think this is a record for celebrating Billy’s birthday. He’s learning from me 🙂
My mom surprised me on Valentine’s Day by bringing me flowers, candy, AND she serenaded me! It totally made my day. All the kids at Religious Ed got a kick out of it.
The kids and I started sending love notes to Billy at work. He had a few rough weeks at work so we decided to turn that frown upside down. We all like mail, but a love note at work seemed to do just the trick!
There’s no snow on the ground, there hasn’t been any at all yet this winter! It feels so strange to be a week away from Christmas and no snow!
We’ve had a busy December and it’s been a lot of fun too. I feel like every age we say this is the best year yet, and as this year comes to a close…I’m feeling like our kids are at the best age and this is the best year yet! Here’s some of the fun we’ve done this month so far:
- I took Josie and Ben to Katy Perry with some friends. It was Ben’s first big concert. He was nervous for the loud noises. Especially since Josie told him that at Paul McCartney, there were fireworks. The usher saw he had his ears plugged on the way to the bathroom, so she gave us earplugs. By the end of the show, he didn’t need them in. We danced, sang, and rocked out. It was great. (Billy and Will did an indoor golf simulator with friends. Livi was on a date with her boyfriend).
- Ben was in his first performance of The Nutcracker. I say first, because it won’t be his last. The kid was beaming. He’s feet never touched the ground, Ben was on cloud 9. He was in the Infantry. His part was very small, but he has a ball. We had two full rows of friends and family that came to support him. My heart felt full the whole day, we are lucky to have so many special people in our lives.
- The kids had their piano recital at school last week. They did fantastic.
- I had a birthday!
- Livi turned 16 two days ago. We currently have a house full of teenagers. It’s our first time with a teen birthday party. I think we pulled it off pretty good. They are all nice kids, but we hid the alcohol just to be safe. 🙂
We have one week left of school then holiday break begins. Ready or not, here we come!
Will, Ben, and Josie.
This year marks 6 years of doing our month of give thanks. Here are some of the highlights:
- We donated to the school library for the first time. We gave over 100 books so students could enjoy them.
- Josie and I wrapped presents for Amanda the Panda (They support families that are grieving the loss of a loved one)
- We wrote thank you cards to farmers to show them a little love.
- We donated a buddy bench to the school in memory of our neighbor and buddy we lost earlier this year.
This year was also the first year we let the kids select a charity to donate to. They researched and we made the donation. Josie selected Children’s Cancer Connection in memory of Aunt Meredith’s mom, Lynn. Will selected JDRF for his buddy Luke. Ben wanted to donated to research, originally he said wikipedia. But thanks to a good friend we were connected with the Drake Library and got a behind the scenes tour of the archives. It was really cool!
We are getting closer to the end of summer and I don’t think any of us want it to be over! We are having a blast. Here are our July highlights:
- 4th of July weekend, we went to our friend’s lake house. They have all the fun lake toys: boat, tube, kayak, stand up paddle board…the kids were entertained (and so were the parents). We got to watch fireworks from the boat in the middle of the lake. Wendy and I did early morning walks. It was a perfect get-a-way.
- On the 4th of July, Ben had his debut show of synchronized swimming. He rocked it! He had a solo to the Lion King’s “I just can’t wait to be King”, duet to “Anything you can do, I can do better”, and a group dance to “Cuban Pete”. The team welcomed him with open arms and Ben had the time of his life! At the end of the season, he ended up getting first in all of the above for his age division against the other country clubs.
- The boys finished up their swim team season. They had so much fun. I loved having something to do everyday at the start of summer, now I am looking forward to more down time and hanging at home.
- Josie and Will wrapped up golf lessons. They both got 2nd place in their age division in the final competition.
- I rode my bike across Iowa, well part of Iowa. RAGBRAI was fantastic.
- Billy got in as much golf as he could.
What an amazing trip to the Gulf Shore. We would definitely go back again. It was the kind of trip you don’t need a vacation from your vacation when you get home, so relaxing! The ocean was so peaceful and spending time with our extended family was just what we needed. Even Josie said her favorite thing was spending time with everyone outside of the holidays.
- Billy kayaked in the ocean a TON. He took out the kids (especially the boys) and the two of us got out there twice.
- Josie officially turned 10 in Alabama, how cool is that?
- Joanne and Ben put on a tap dance to Elvis Presley’s “Teddy Bear”. It may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
- We had a fun parents night out while Grandma, Grandpa, and Josie watched the kids.
- Lots of fun on the beach! We took a sand castle class, we played soccer, raced, walked, and so much more.
- Uncle Johnny knocked his tooth out when a big wave hit his Stand Up Paddle Board. Luckily, the tooth stuck in the board!
- The boys had a peanut scare that involved me having to stab them in the thigh with EPI Pens as we drove down the highway to the ER. Will unbuckled his seat belt and later told us he was going to jump in the trunk. I stabbed him about 4 times before realizing I was using the one I already did on Ben. Ben’s entered above his knee cap versus on his thigh (he kept guarding his thigh) so his knee was sore for a day. The check in nurse said, “You’ll hurting anywhere besides where mama stabbed you?!” The doctor said I saved their lives and I cried.
Billy had a work trip to Hawaii the week before our anniversary, which fell on Easter this year. I pretty much assumed this was a sign that I was meant to go on this trip. What spells 12 year anniversary like HAWAII?!
We flew out a few days early and checked out Kauai. It was so green. Chickens were everywhere. We stayed in the northern part of the island and hiked up to Hanakapiai falls. It was worth 9.5 miles of muddy, rocky, “unmaintained” paths for the amazing view. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Hemingway’s cafe, pool time, dinner and drinks at the resort, and before our flight left we checked out the southern part of the island. Drinks and lunch at the Beach house and a drive through Waimea Canyon was the perfect way to say goodbye to Kauai.
We went to Oahu for the board meetings and had fun re-creating scenes from our last visit there when the kids were 16months and 3 years. Thanks to Billy’s work we got a private tour of the Bishop Museum and tour the U.S.S. Missouri. We also had two fun nights of Hawaiian cuisine with the board members and co-workers. Billy got a little golf time in and I did lots of reading by the pool and beach, ran 7 miles, and checked out the mall while he was working.
Our final stop was the Big Island. We loved checking out the volcanoes! We landed and immediately drove to Volcano National Park. It was neat to see the rain forrest that grew on top of an un-active lava tube.
My favorite waterfall on this island was the Rainbow falls. It was an easy hike then rock jumping to get to the waterfall, so fun. Billy did NOT like how close I got to the edge of the waterfall, but I seriously think I could have gone a little further!
The black sand beaches at Richardson ocean park were cool to see. We ventured across the hardened lava rocks to enjoy the ocean waves up close. I was inches away from a huge beautiful sea turtle as I crossed the thigh high water…I nearly peed my shorts! It was amazing.
My favorite spot to eat on the Big Island was Hilo Bay Cafe….which was a nice little stroll down from our hotel. We liked it so much, we decided to play a game of stalling as long as we could. They had good music, fun dishes, delicious sushi, and they gave you peppered popcorn in truffle oil while you wait for your food. I may have asked for a refill…a couple of times.
The final day we were on the Big Island, we did a 4:45am boat tour ride out to the active volcanoes. We sat in the second row of seats, which was considered the “hold on to the handle or get a bloody nose from hitting your head” section. The water by the volcano is over 100 degrees warm. The view was something I never will forget. Watching the volcano lava pour into the ocean while the sun rise was surreal.