Friday, August 30, 2013

First Day Of School

Things I want to remember....

You were so excited when I woke you up for've been ready for a 
couple of weeks now!

You were so PROUD to wear your safety patrol belt to school.

After school your first words were, "Mrs. Girvin is amazing!"

Your safety patrol position is in the front lobby.  You are the first patrol person that
students see upon entering the building.  On the 3rd day of school, I was coming out
of the office and I saw how you were greeting the younger students as they made their way
into school.  My heart was so full.  What a big responsibility you have in helping
to make it a great start to someone's day.  I think it's the perfect job for you.

Everyday after school this week when I ask you how your day was, you first want to hear
all about mine.

You were the first person to volunteer to present your "getting to know you" assignment you had this week in front of your class.  You are so confident.  I hope
we can keep that going.

At the end of the first day, Mrs. Girvin moved Brandon's desk next to yours.  Brandon is so lucky to have you for a friend.
He counts on you and you help him throughout the day.  Whenever I see you in the cafeteria,
he is always right next to you.   You do this all on your own and Dad and I are so proud of you.

I quick made you a cake after school that first day.  It's not easy working and doing
special things like this last minute & there wasn't any frosting in the pantry...
but it's important to me.
When you walked in the door after tennis practice
and saw the cake on the table, you came running to give me a hug.
It sure makes it worth the effort when I see how appreciative you are.
And, you didn't even say anything about not having frosting on the cake!

I have loved listening to your stories about school this week and hearing the
excitement in your voice.  I have a feeling it's going to be a great year!

Our first week is over and we are a little tired!
We're looking forward to a four day weekend!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Steffi had a birthday yesterday!  We showered her with lots of hugs and kisses and attention...just like any other day!   Brady got her a new toy and a new bone.  She obsesses anytime she gets something she was preoccupied most of the day.  We also 
made homemade dog treats.  Our neighbor makes her dog treats and she gave one to Steffi to try and she loved it.  So, Brady got the recipe and asked if we could make them for Steffi on her birthday.  

It's hard to believe she has been a part of our family for 9 months now.  She is just so sweet, and loving and feisty and I can't imagine not having her.  (Yes, I was the one who didn't want a dog!)  We love her...and she loves us back.  

I love how crazy excited she gets when we walk in the door after we've been gone.  She even
gets excited when we come out of the bathroom!

I love how much she loves Brady and how she absolutely cannot wait to wake him up in the 
mornings.  One of these days I'm going to video tape her when I ask her, "is it time?"  She
stands on her back two legs and hops all the way to Brady's bedroom door!

I love how much Eric loves her and I appreciate that he takes on the bulk of the responsibility
with her.  He drives home everyday on his lunch just to let her out and break up her day when Brady and I are at school.

I love that she loves to go bye bye and will sit at the side of the van door hoping she gets
to come along.  It's also sad when we pull out of the drive way and we see her sitting on Brady's bed looking out the window at us as we leave.

The transition for us having a dog went smoother than I could have ever hoped.
I think we lucked out with our girlie.
We love her bunches!

4 ingredient dog treats

Mix 2 cups whole wheat flour with 1 cup oats.
Heat 1 1/4 cup water in microwave.
Add 1/3 cup peanut butter to hot water; stir
Stir peanut butter mixture into flour mixture.

Knead well.  Cover with plastic for 15 minutes.

Roll out to 1/4 inch and cut with cookie cutters or whatever.
Bake 20-30 minutes @ 350.  Let treats cool.

*We made hearts and 1's (1's were a bit smaller than the hearts) and we
ended up with 60 treats!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finally, Doing It!

Yep, two weeks before school starts and I decide to dive into a kitchen makeover!
What was I thinking? 
I've been painting for over a week now now...and I still have a ways to go.  The cabinets
are done and hung back up.  I am now working on the trim, doors and baseboards.
Back to work and school starts one week from today.

I'm really excited about the changes.  Eric's brother helped us install the floor last weekend and
we ordered new counter tops a few days ago.  

Our week is filled with school shopping, appointments, meetings, haircuts, I won't get much
done this week.  It probably wasn't the best time to start a big project...but when my hubby gave
me the green light...I ran with it!

I can't wait until it's finished...I had researched quite a bit before tackling this...but, you just have
no idea until you get started what you're really getting into!  I never want to paint cabinets again!
  Hopefully we will get it done before Thanksgiving too long.

I will be so excited to show you before and afters!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Little Mo Tournament- Chicago

I think Brady would prefer that I didn't talk about this part of our Chicago trip...but, it is 
what it is and I will make it short and sweet.

Brady played some of his best tennis in Chicago.  Little Mo is a tournament for 8-11 year olds...and you only play against kids your age.  There were kids there from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Missouri, Massachucettes, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.  Those are the ones I remember.  The best 10 year olds in those states.

Brady lost his 3rd round match.  The match before he would have qualified to go to
Nationals in Texas in October.  It would have been easier to handle had Brady played his best.
He won the first set 6-3 and I felt myself take a big breath and relax.  Brady was the stronger player.  He controlled every point and the boy was slowly having a breakdown/meltdown out on the court.

 Then, at the start of the second set, the boy walked up to Brady and said something.  (Usually players never talk once the match starts.)  I knew immediately something wasn't right.  I could see the look on Brady's face, his shoulders came down and he didn't look himself out there.  Nor did he play like himself either.  He ended up losing that set 1-6.  Because they each won a set, they had a 10 point tie break.  I knew Brady would lose the tie breaker, and he did.  I think the score was 10 to 6.  
When Brady came off the court, we took him off to an area away from the crowd.  He cried and cried...harder than he has in years.  I think when you play your best and lose...then there's nothing to be sad about.  It's when you don't play your best that it hurts the most.

At the start of the second set, the boy called Brady a name.  Brady has yet to tell us what the boy said...but it obviously hurt him and he couldn't move past it.   He said the boy made him feel terrible.  I think even the spectators watching were surprised that Brady lost and were questioning some of the boys actions out there.  Unfortunately in junior tennis, the players make their own line calls and are taught to handle things on their own.   It's the only sport I know of where there aren't officials or least until you get to the pro level. :(

While Eric consoled Brady, I walked over to the boy's mother who was standing alone and said,  "I don't know what your son said to my son, but your son is a bully."  
Yes, I did. And, I regretted it as soon as I walked away.
Brady always conducts himself with such class and character out on the court...and there I went
 in a weak moment and made a fool of myself...which could have reflected poorly on  my son.
For that, I am so sorry.  I hopefully will never do that again.

It was not the way he wanted to end the tournament.  He was devastated he let this kid
beat him like he did and was so sad that he didn't make it to Texas.
It was a learning experience for sure...and one we're still working on.
He learned that some kids will do whatever it takes to win.  He learned that not everyone
plays fairly or is a good sport and he cannot let that affect his game.  He also learned that
he needs to work on his mental toughness. 

Being a parent is so hard...I hope we say the right things in the right moment.
Brady has so much to be proud of.  Right before we left for Chicago, Brady moved to
#1 in the ranking in Central Pennsylvania.  He has made quite a name for himself...and 
more importantly, there is rarely a tournament when someone doesn't comment on what a nice boy he is.  Nothing makes me more proud.

I hope Brady remembers the good stuff about his friend Dylan who was able
to cheer him up after his loss...

(Dylan is a year older than Brady & played in the next age group)

Dylan and his family stayed at the same hotel and the boys had so much fun 
swimming together, going out to eat and hanging out.  Lots of laughs between these
two...and it makes me so happy that Brady has a tennis friend that he can relate to and be
crazy with.  He needs that.

So, that's how the tournament went down.  Not pretty...but we take the good with the 
bad around here and we pick ourselves up, learn from it, and move on.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


We arrived in Chicago with two days to do the tourist thing before Brady's tournament started.
We were actually about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago...but I like to say we were in Chicago...
cause that is one happening place! 

We were in awe of just how beautiful the city was.

This path runs alongside the entire lake.  So many people were out walking, running, biking, pushing strollers, etc.along this beautiful trail.  I love how active and alive Chicago feels.

I used my camera phone instead of lugging my big camera around the city.

We started the day off at  Navy Pier.
Navy Pier is a 3300 sq foot long pier that was built in 1916 primarily to be used
as a cargo facility.  Today it is Chicago's #1 tourist attraction.
We had the place to ourselves for about an hour before things really started hopping.
So many little shops and fun restaurants and boat tours and things to do along the pier.

I love all the flags against the sky.

Chicago was so much more beautiful than I imagined it would be.

Checking out the lighthouse way out there.

We walked many blocks in the city to find the best pizza in all of 
Chicago- Giordanos.  My friend Deanne told us about this place...and just
to be sure it was the best, I asked a couple of locals who also confirmed it to be true.
Brady had lasagna and Eric and I each got our own personal pizza and salad. 
IT WAS SO GOOD!  I wish we could have eaten there one more time before leaving Chicago!

These sculptures were everywhere and each one had a different plant/flower
in the top of it that gave them all a fun look.  

These canoes were all strung together by heavy wire.  We tried to 
move it but it wouldn't budge!

Brady asked if we could go on the double decker bus tour.  It was a 2 hour
bus tour through the city.  You could get off at different tour stops or stay on the 
bus all day long.   Brady loved listening to the tour guide tell stories about
Chicago's history, interesting facts about the buildings and architecture and seeing all the sights.  I am so glad we did was definitely one of our favorite things we did on our trip. I highly recommend taking the tour especially if you have limited time and want to see all of downtown Chicago.

We got off the bus at the old Sears Tower building which is now called the Sky Deck.
It's the tallest building in Chicago and I believe the second tallest in the world.
  Brady really wanted to go all the way to the top and stand out on the ledge.  Our ears were popping in the elevator as we went up 103 floors to the top.

The view from the top was amazing.  They say on a clear day you can see five miles
in all four directions and all four walls on the top floor were windows that you could look out
at the view.

 Eric and Brady stepped out on the glass edge.  I didn't plan on doing it, but wanted to impress a certain ten year old who thought there was no way I would do it!  I stepped onto the ledge for about three seconds and literally felt sick to my stomach.  Brady thinks they should replace
the glass everyday up there so there aren't scuff marks on it...and it will be super clear when you
stand on it. :)

My cell phone died shortly after we got back on the tour bus.  I'm thinking that
was probably a good thing...although I wish I had more pictures.  Without my camera,
I was able to sit back and enjoy the ride.  It was a gorgeous day.

I sure hope we get back to Chicago again time for a little longer!
Plus, I need to go back because I forgot to get a picture of the BEST hot dog EVER! :)  

Next up, Brady's tournament.  I think enough time has passed that I will be able 
to finally talk about it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Smith Family Reunion

On our way to Chicago, we stopped in Ohio to visit family and 
attend a family reunion on my mom's side.  The timing worked out perfectly.
It was actually Eric's idea to add a few extra days to our trip to visit my family.
It has been over 20 years since I've attended a Smith reunion...and I'm so glad we went.

I didn't take a lot of pictures...I guess I was busy visiting!
I'm happy with the ones I did get though.

Meghan & Laura

I love this picture I took of my sisters.  When we are together it is non-stop laughing and
giggling and joking.  After the reunion, my mom, sisters, aunt and I went to get frozen yogurt and
we sat and chatted and laughed for over two hours.  I thought they were going to kick us out!
I miss these times living so far away from my family.

Brady took his snow cone machine to the reunion and it was a big hit.
He asked Grandma if she wanted to help him...I think that made her week!
He and my mom must have made snow cones for all the kids for over an hour.
I love watching them together.  They are proof that even when grandparents live far away...
you can still have a special bond.  Brady's not a big phone talker...but when Grandma calls, 
sometimes he's on the phone chatting away with her for half an hour. They are also pen pals.
I know it doesn't make up for the distance...but my mom tries really hard....and I love her for that.

My grandpa was one of 12 siblings.  Growing up the family reunion was so big...and over the last 20's slowly dwindling down.  Dorothy (top left corner) is the youngest of the family and is the only one left of all her brothers and sisters.  Dorothy has alzheimers and her husband Ed takes great care of her everyday.  

Brady and Grandma spending some time alone.
Can you see the smile on Brady's face?  
My mom tried to go across the monkey bars and fell right down on both knees.  That didn't
stop her though.   I thought she would be sore the next day...but she said she wasn't.  I was sore!  I tried those monkey bars a few times and couldn't make it past two bars!  I could fly across those bars back in elementary school!

The highlight for me during this trip was giving my mom and aunt each a scrapbook
of their parents' story.  My grandpa died at the age of 41 and my grandma was 51 years old when she passed.  I never met my grandpa and I was 9 when my grandma died.  My grandma had started a scrapbook but never finished it.  My aunt found the book in her attic (she bought the house her and my mom grew up in).  The book had some water damage and my mom and aunt asked if I could try and fix/redo it.  I won't tell you how long I had those pictures before I got around to putting the book together...cause I'm
a little embarrassed about that!

I picked my mom up and we went over to my aunt's house for coffee early the morning of our
 family reunion.  While we were having coffee, I gave them each a wrapped book.
  I will never forget how I felt watching them open their scrapbooks.  They reminisced and cried
and were giddy with excitement as two school girls. 
 My heart ached for them for having lost both their parents at such young ages but 
also thankful in getting to share in their special memories.

My mom and aunt and me.

It was a great trip to Ohio and I'm so glad we were able to make it work.

Next up....Chicago!

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