Tuesday, January 9, 2018

15th Anniversary

We decided that after skipping a 10 year anniversary trip (due to Avery only being 5 months old) that we were due for a 15 year get away.  We planned a trip to Nashville, mostly because I had always wanted to visit and it was close enough that we could drive there.  We had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into, but it turned out to be a great trip!  It seemed that each day just got better.  When we look back on the week, I can't believe all of the good music we listened to and fun we had. 
Some highlights included:
The day of our anniversary was spent at Puckett's Grocery for breakfast, a tour of the Belmont Mansion, and dinner at 3rd and Lindsley.  The tour was the highlight of the day.  It was fun to hear about this wealthy lady and all of her misfortune.  Our dinner was not as great.  It was really just a restaurant that was more for shows.  The guy we saw wasn't great, even though he was well-known.  He was part of the Allman Brothers at one point.  He was old and barely sang.

The next day Rich and Kelly arrived. We saw the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, did some shopping, went to Nudie's (dirty minds!  don't you know a Nudie is a sparkly cowboy outfit?!) and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.  Basically hit Broadway Street.  We heard two great bands that did cover songs.  It was a lot of fun!

We also made it Andrew Jackson's Hermitage.  This tour was less impressive than the Belmont Mansion.  However, we learned about dueling and saw cotton plants still growing on the plantation.  That night we got tickets to go to the Bluebird CafĂ©.  This was probably the highlight of our trip.  The Bluebird is an intimate setting with only 90 guests and is a songwriters venue.  The tickets are very hard to snatch, but Kelly got them.  Going into it, we were a little disappointed that we got the late show, which had a cover charge.  But it was worth every penny!  When they got started, all we knew was that there some older men and one girl.  And then they started playing some of their songs.  And we knew a lot of them!  They were all Grammy winners.  And the girl is an up and coming artist/songwriter.  Her husband happens to be from the group The Brothers Osborne.  His brother, the other half of that duo, was also there.  They were asked to do some of their songs as well.  It was totally on the spot and they just performed!  It was a very fun night!  They were all just excellent!

Cotton from Andrew Jackson's Plantation

After that late night, we had to visit the Grand Ole' Opry, Cooter's Museum, and we saw another late show at the Ryman.  At the Ryman we heard Old Crow Medicine Band.  These guys are just crazy.  They were playing a cover of a Bob Dylan album.  I didn't know any of the music until the end when they did a couple of recognizable songs.  Their tune is a little blue grass sound, but really they are just jumping and dancing all over, playing crazy instruments and tap dancing.  Another late night, but fun!

Finally, we finished the week with the outdoor NYE party on the street.  It just so happened to be the coldest night ever.  Colder than they usually see.  We did get to see Maren Morris, Cheap Trick, and my favorite - Keith Urban all perform!  It was a fun night.  Just WAY too cold.  At midnight they did a music note drop and fireworks.  We took off right after that.  We couldn't feel our toes, fingers, noses, legs...one thing crossed off my bucket list though!  No need to ever visit NYC for New Year's now.  I've had my fill!

And a few other fun pics of the Parthenon and a hot chicken restaurant.

Overall, it was a great trip!  Super excited to be back with the kiddos, but overall a great time away to get caught up, refreshed, and a full night's sleep! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Lookback

When I look at this past year, I struggle with how to share the ups and downs.  We saw first hand the pain caused by divorce, but we are thankful that we are allowed to remain in the lives of those most closely impacted.  We are both in jobs that leave us either unfulfilled or create constant stress and pressure.  However, they pay the bills, with enough excess to allow us to play together as a family.  We have a kiddo struggling both at school and with physical issues, but it's not life-threatening and we are learning how to help him.  Our dishwasher broke, but thankfully I wasn't hosting Thanksgiving that weekend.  There are positives in everything.

As I look back, I am reminded that in our struggles, we must learn to rely on God more.  I know I don't always do that well, but there are many good things that took place this past year and I know that God is in control.  Here's our Top 10 (in no particular order):
  • Ben found a really good job and was able to move in to an apartment
  • Avery is really LOVING school this fall and learning a ton
  • Our summer was spent together as a family - at the cottage, at camp, fishing
  • We had a really fun long weekend in Chicago over Memorial Day and the kids LOVED it!  I think riding the city bus was their favorite part.
  • I trained for and ran in two 5K's (and improved my time in the second race)
  • We celebrated our 15th anniversary in Nashville
  • We went to 3 Tigers baseball games
  • CAMP...need I say more?
  • We finally have living room furniture after 18 months with nothing
  • We got a new mattress and I think it's helping my back...fingers crossed!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 2017

This Christmas was busy, as usual.  However, due to some illness, we were also forced to slow down.  For me, the season started in November when we went to see the Grinch being performed in Detroit.  It was a fun, ladies day! 

Then we followed it with a Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant Christmas concert, celebrating my mom's birthday.  It was a really awesome concert!!

The kids did their annual Christmas program at church and we had a church Christmas party.

We had to miss the Hughes family Christmas because most of the family was throwing up.  Then Avery ended up with strep throat as well.  It seemed to be a long couple of weeks. 
But we all were healthy enough to have fun at class parties and enjoy the rest of December.

We had a few family parties, a nice relaxing Christmas day, and then we took off for our anniversary trip to Nashville!

Overall, it was a great Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Superhero Mom and Halloween

This Halloween was busy and fun!  We kicked things off on the Saturday before with neighborhood trick-or-treating and a pizza party.  The kids had a blast!  Then we had my work party on Monday, 3 schools parties, and more trick-or-treating on Tuesday night.  Whew!  It was crazy.  And we have SO.MUCH.CANDY!  And this mom made it to all of the events this year.  That never happens!  So here is a fun picture of Batman, Flash, and our little witch.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fast Fall!

This fall has been whizzing by!  The kids are all pretty adjusted to being back in school and seem to be doing ok.  With the exception of Avery who is loving school, learning a lot, and happy to be there, the boys are both not enjoying this year as much as past years.  It's tough to see them not looking forward to school, but I know it also takes time to become friends with different kids.

I spent a few days in Orlando for work.  It was warm and nice to be away.  However, the weekend that we left it was hotter in MI than FL, so it wasn't as much of a treat to lay by the pool as I was hoping.

All three kids have been on three different soccer teams this fall.  It's been really busy just going to practices and games.  The boys are also both taking piano lessons.  To sum it up: busy, busy, busy.  We are looking forward to some much needed down time that will come at the end of Oct!

Stay tuned...the kids Halloween costumes have arrived (I'm early right?!?!) and soon enough I'll have fun pictures to share!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

School Started!

So I may be a few weeks late, but wanted to document our first days of school.  To be honest, I started a book series while at camp and finally finished book 6...now I need to get back to my life!  So here we are, a few weeks late, but better than nothing!

Jake started 4th grade this fall.  Unfortunately he's off to a tough start.  None of his good friends are in his class or even in the half of the 4th grade that eats lunch together!  So, he's felt on his own a bit.  To make matters worse, his teacher was only in school for 2 weeks and now is on maternity leave.  So, I'm bummed for the kiddo.  He seems to be making the best of it though.

Joel is in 1st grade this year.  What do I even say about Joel?  He's finally tried hot lunch and liked it?!  That's a win in my book!  We'll ignore the fact that he's already had the iPad taken away for a week at school because he was playing on it rather than doing his reading work.  It didn't surprise me one bit.

Avery is finally in Young 5's this year.  She has been talking about school every day for the past year and she FINALLY gets to ride the bus and have a lunch box!  Both of the boys also had her teacher for Young 5's, and we LOVE her!  Avery is really loving school!  She only gets to go on MWF, but she can't wait for it every day!

Here are a few pictures of our first days and of the neighborhood bus stop.  Hard to remember the time that is was just Jake getting on the bus!
Showing off the Super Mario Brothers backpack!

The boys first day!

Ave started a day later, since the first day of school was on a Tuesday.

Moana everything!

Our neighbor, Katelyn is also in Young 5's with Avery.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

PLCBC 2017

Wow.  Camp.  Wow.  This past week has been intense, amazing, awesome, and full of growth.  It was emotional and challenging.  It was filled with family time and fun.  Our speaker this year was Matt Ness.  He spoke straight to the heart and we left changed people.  I'm still filled with wonder at what's next, and how do I bring this change home, and keep growing, and I just keep contemplating what I learned.  The rest of the week was also really fun!  The kids are finally old enough that we were on the go all week.
Ya know the card game spoons?  We played a giant version, thus the helmet.  We had to run to the center and dive to get an inter-tube.  Super fun.  We came in 3rd.

Jake's first time down the zip line!  He said it was his favorite part of the week!

Joel did the Flying Squirrel - and was scared.

Then Ave did the Flying Squirrel too!

The boys got to play some pick up ball.

Ave painted her name on the wall in Arts and Crafts and spent a lot of time there!

She climbed the indoor wall.

We tried another year at the Portager...and lost again.  That darn pop corn, final event!

We spent an evening watching the sunset on Lake Michigan and playing on the dunes with friends.

And were blessed with more sunsets at camp.  If you don't already know, sunsets are my FAVORITE!

Joel tried Crate Stacking.

Lots of beach time.  I even read an entire book!!

This crazy family includes the loves of my life!