Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Miss You, Brett Weller

Yesterday, Leah and I were cleaning out her closet and I was going through a box of her mementos when I found the button in the photo above.  As most of you know, I'm an ovarian cancer survivor (12 years now, woo hoo!) and so for years we were active with the Relay For Life (American Cancer Society fundraiser).

When I found the button I started to cry.  You see, the buttons were made in my honor by my friend, Brett Weller, who is no longer with us.  Brett was taken from us in a tragic plane accident almost three years ago and for those who knew him, we feel his loss keenly.  He was an amazing friend, son, husband, brother, uncle and neighbor.  Someone who lit up a room when he entered and genuinely cared about those around him.  He always had a ready smile, joke or hug and an encouraging word for me when I saw him.

Today would have been his birthday and while I grieve his untimely passing, I know that I am a better person for knowing him.  Thanks Brett.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daniel's Big Changes

After being homeschooled his for his first six and a half years of school, we enrolled Daniel at
a private parochial school in town and he started after Christmas break.  He is my first child to enter
the school system, unless you count Emily attending college.
One of the draws was being able to join the basketball team.  He's played a few games now, his first experience
with playing basketball.  We're still waiting for his first basket!
We just celebrated his twelfth birthday about two weeks ago. 
It's hard to believe my "baby" is twelve years old!

After eating some ice cream cake and opening gifts, we played a fun game:
"Would You Rather".  What a hoot!  I think Daniel is feeling the effects of the cake
here and showing an abundance of energy!
 My darling son is growing up and is going through a lot of changes this month:  He turned twelve years old, started at a school in town after being homeschooled for his entire schooling career and he joined his first basketball team.  Whew! 

It's the first time I've had a child get on the big yellow bus and I have to admit, it's a little strange.  I'm a big believer in homeschooling but education is not one-size-fits-all.  What worked for my girls was not working for Daniel.  We made a committment for the remainder of the year and will decide if we want to enroll him in 7th grade at the end of the school year. 

It's a wonderful school with small class sizes.  The entire school only has 116 students, PreK through 8th grade.  So far, Daniel seems to be fitting right in.  He is making new friends and learning how to organize himself.  If he leaves his math paper in his locker, he cannot leave the classroom to retrieve it and his grade suffers.  That happened to him last week.  After homeschooling it's definitely an adjustment but that's not necessarily a bad thing!

So now it's just Leah and I at home.  She's a sophomore this year and I can't believe after our chaotic schooling schedule of three students last year that within less than a year it's just her and I!  I'm enjoying this time together and I know she is, too. 

So, this is my ode to change.  It took me a while to embrace it, but I'm feeling good about it now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Catching Up...

It has been a busy fall and so, inadvertantly, I took a break from blogging.  It wasn't deliberate.  Each week I'd think, "This week I'll sit down and do a blog post."  And you know how it goes...  The week would come and go and it didn't happen.  In my absence, Blogger did an update and wouldn't you know, I have NO IDEA what I'm doing!  (Shocking, I know.)
I went to Chicago for a long weekend with three wonderful friends:  Sandy, Kim and Teri.  We pampered ourselves and had a fabulous time shopping, eating, visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, laughing at the comedy club, shopping, laughing and eating some more.  I want to return with my family ASAP! 

Mike and I took a whirlwind trip to the coast in North Carolina.  We stayed at a beautiful beach house on Topsail Island and had fun relaxing, walking on the beach, touring a beautiful old southern mansion in nearby Wilmington and spending time together.  It was great.

The rest of my photos did not appear in the proper order and I'm having a heck of a time moving them around so I finally just waved the white flag in surrender. 

Leah snapped a few photos of Lacey and I on a fall walk.  It was a lovely evening and I think Lacey looks adorable!

Our family rang the bells for the Salvation Army with the Carters.  We always enjoy doing that every year.  It wasn't even that cold this time!  Some years are brutal!
As the holidays approach, my girls and I host a fun holiday extravaganza cookie exchange.  Much fun was had and food was consumed by all.  Best of all, at the end of the night we each had a sampling of many varieties of delicious cookies and treats to share with our families.
My friend Heidi is setting hers out on a table crowded with sweet, sugary goodness.  It makes my mouth water just remembering...

Even before we had the cookie exchange, there was the Christmas tree party with Tony and Brenda.  Mike's sister and husband graciously host a party for family and friends every year in the great north woods of Wisconsin where we gather 'round the fire, eat delicious food, drink hot drinks and wander into the forest to pick and cut our Christmas tree.  Tony and Brett (who is no longer with us and we miss terribly) planted these trees many years ago and we are blessed to have our pick!  That's Leah between Amy (a cousin) and Aunt Brenda above.
Here's Emily on Christmas day, above with Lacey and below showing off some of her gifts.  Happy pup, happy girl!
Our Christmas tree with all the trimmings.  We purposely picked a narrow tree that would fit nicely in the corner windows in the library.  It glowed at night with the lights on.  Mmmmm, I love Christmas trees!
Emily and Leah posing in their Christmas outfits before we headed down to Grandmas to spend the day with family.

Gathering around the table.  Being together through the years on Christmas is one of the best gifts of all.

Mike was up at the cabin on New Year's Eve and the girls had plans with their friend, Jessie, so it was just Daniel and I at dinner.  We first went to the Tintin movie and then returned home to a special meal of Spicy Orange Chicken and Rice with Izzie.  Daniel put the candles out on the table, a nice touch.

The girls before they went out to dinner.  They were all dressed up and looked lovely!  Don't worry, they were home in plenty of time to ring in the new year with Daniel and I. 

Here are two of my favorite women:  my Mom and Emily on Christmas day.  We gave mom a framed photo of Emily for Christmas and they posed together for me.  I love them both so much.

That's my fall and holiday season wrapped up in one goofy post.  Thanks for putting up with the quirks of Blogger and my lack of experience in putting it all in order. 

2011 was an amazing year.  We had highs and lows, sadness and joy but we came through it all together as a family and that is what counts.  May your 2012 be filled with love, joy and excitement too!