family

It’s funny how our New Years Eve festivities have changed through the years.  Scott and I have never been big party animals, but we did go to downtown Pittsburgh on Dec 31, 1999 to ring in the new millennium with a kiss on the Roberto Clemente bridge.   For several years we would watch the fireworks in Annapolis at midnight.

Then we had kids.

And New Years became a stay at home night.  Some years we’d have friends over, some years we’d do an in home date night of dinner and a movie after the kids were in bed. 

The past few years New Years has been a Family Fun Night. 

Last night we sat around the table and talked through the year… we broke it into quarters and talked about some of the highlights of those months.

2013 was an epic year for the circus family. 

We went on a mega vacation.  Without a doubt that was one of the major highlights of our year.  6 months later and when the kids recall our trip, their highlights were Mt Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, prairie dogs, and the choo choo trains.  When we are out driving and see the sunset our three year old will exclaim, “Look a sunset just like on vacation!”  As I recall my blessings in 2013, that trip is  without a doubt one of my greatest blessings.  I am so thankful for the opportunity we had to spend 3 weeks together away from home, as a family seeing our beautiful country.  I don’t know if any trip could top it ever. 

We also grew our family… TWICE this summer with the addition of our beloved pup Wendy and our patient and slightly bipolar cat Cartwheel.  I am grateful for both of them and the joy they bring our family. 

Other highlights as we recounted the year was our Labor Day tradition, our 6 year olds first lost tooth, our son starting Jui Jitsu and even competing in his first tournament, our 6 year old joining the gymnastics team, our 7 year old scoring her very first 9 in a gymnastics meet, our sons 1st NFL game, , getting to spend time with their cousins, and swimming in the summer.  Honestly, it was a ridiculously good year for us.

After recounting our blessings, we headed downstairs for some family fun. We watched Monsters University, then dived into some chocolate fondue at 11:00 PM and started pulling out the party supplies… IMG_9840IMG_9834

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Our girls know how to party hardy… Our seven year old is most def the night owl of the bunch… I think she could have held on past 1 am if I had let her.  She was in a fantastic mood.  I gotta tell you my boys battled some illness all day… with temperatures over 100 they were downing ibuprofen every 6 hours and the 3 year old was taking his nebulizer every 4 hours.  It def wasn’t their happiest of New Years for them, but they hung in their like troopers till midnight. 

This year we added confetti to the New Years festivities… which was super fun (and super messy).  new years eve collage 1

Today marks a new month and a new year.  As I look back on 2013 I am very grateful for the memories and good times that our family had.    I am mindful though that not everyone had such a banner year.    Some people that I know, some people that I love dearly, had a very difficult 2013.   I don’t know what 2014 will hold for us.   But, I do know that God is the same, unchanging good God in the good years and in the bad and my prayer is that our family will praise His name ALWAYS in any and every situation. 

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A Relaxing Christmas

December 29, 2013

in Christmas,family

It has been a very relaxing Christmas vacation at the circus house.  My sister in law and her family came in to town the evening of the 23rd.  We had too much fun making cupcakes for the kids for baby Jesus’ bday party on Christmas night.  She is an awesome trooper.  She happily obliged my request to roll out 19 baby Jesus figurines out of marshmallow fondant at 10:00pm.  Seriously, worlds best sister in law.   IMG_9448

Christmas Eve was low key.  We did a gingerbread house with the kiddos.  Which was a mess.  I think it remained standing for all of 2 hours before it collapsed on itself.  But, we had fun and that was the idea. 

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Scott and I took our nephews to the playground for a little while so we could have some time alone with them.  Then the girls went with my sister in law to Nana’s to do a little cooking, while I grabbed a shower and tidied up the house.

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Then it was church in evening and Scott and I started wrapping Christmas presents at 9pm on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day we lived in our PJs.  My parents, Scott’s parents and Scott’s sister and her family came for the day.  We opened presents in the morning.  And then spent the day in our pjs hanging out and playing.  In the evening we enjoyed lasagna for dinner and Jesus’ birthday cupcakes for dessert.

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My brother and his kids were supposed to come for dinner and to spend the night, but the kids got sick and weren’t up to traveling.  I missed them immensely

Since Christmas, the low key easy going status quo has continued.  I can’t believe Scott only has 3 days left of vacation and the kids and I only have a week.  I am loving the break. 

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Nothing like a back seat driver. 

Especially a 3 year old back seat driver.

At 1 am.  On a Snow covered back country road.

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As we slip slided around the roads approaching my parents the other night, I seriously thought we might end up in a ditch and all the while my 3 year old was WIDE awake and chattering non stop about all the snow.  He kept saying, “Dad, don’t get in an accident.  We wouldn’t want to get in an accident and die dad.” 

Over and over. 

Truthfully, it provided a little comic relief to Scott and I as the conditions were less than ideal.

Thankfully, we made it safely.  And my dad greeted us with his plow and tractor.  At 2 am.  He was out plowing the driveway.  My three old thought he was out to give him a tractor ride.  We figured, “Why not.  It wasn’t like he was asleep.”  Besides, how often do you get the opportunity for a 2 am tractor ride in the snow. 

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The snow was gorgeous and we had a wonderful day on Wednesday.  My poor mom had to work, so I offered to bake the pies.  I baked while my Dad and Scott played in the snow with the kids.  All day. 

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Then, the only thing that could make playing in 8 inches of snow at your grandparents EVEN MORE FUN, was the addition of 4 cousins and an uncle.  IMG_8300

Thanksgiving was a low key relaxing day.  We did a photo opp for Grandma’s Christmas card.  They went sledding again.  They did crafts and my grandparents came for a visit.   Then we ate our feast, enjoyed those pies and ended it all with watching the Steelers/Ravens game.  It was an ALMOST perfect day.  (darn that painful loss to our rival)

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It was a wonderful visit.  Full of family and fun and snuggles, beautiful snow and yummy food.  I am grateful, so very grateful for my family and the opportunity to spend a few days with them.

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Since the passing of our beloved dog Maggie, there has been a void in our home.  I missed her immensely more than I ever anticipated.   And while no dog could ever replace her or what she meant to our family, we felt it time to once again hear the pitter patter of doggie feet in the circus home. 

But, we needed to wait until we were home from our grand adventure before welcoming a new pup to the family.  So, at about South Dakota, I started searching the internet hard for Corgi puppies in our area.  We wanted a pup as soon as possible after we got home.  The timing would be ideal as it would give us 2 months to fully focus on training her before school starts again.  I was growing discouraged as I wasn’t finding ANY Corgi puppies (even after extending the search far beyond our area).  The window of opportunity would be lost and our void would continue.

Then the crazy thing happened.  When we were driving to my parents, we were about 10 miles from their house on a small, sparsely populated country road we had no business being on (google maps is not always the most direct path if you know the area… but we followed it the whole trip… why stop now)  when I saw a sign small white sign in someone’s yard that read “Pembrooke Welsh Corgi Puppies” and listed a phone number.  It seemed far to weird and random to be true but we quickly turned around for a closer look.  You know how discouraged people in the desert see things they want to see even when they aren’t real?  It felt kinda like that… but this was real!  We got the number and began calling right away.  Unfortunately, it worked out that we could not establish contact until we were all the way home (5 hours away).  But when we did we learned she really did have puppies available and at the right age to be picked up!!  Praise God!

But of course now we had the problem of picking out, and picking up, a dog that we were 5 hours away from.

Picking one out turned out to be surprisingly easy and affirming. When I spoke with the breeder I asked if any of the puppies were particularly snuggly… liked to be held and sit on your lap.  “Oh, yes, I know just the one,” she said.  “Baby girl… we bottle fed her and she loves to snuggle on your lap and be held.”   I asked her for a picture and she sent me one with 4 puppies in it.  I had no idea which one was the one she described, but I found myself hoping it was the one with the cute white marking on her face.  The marking is not traditional corgi but I told Scott we were going to have a real problem if the one she described wasn’t the one with the cute white mark on her face.  “How will we decide because that one is SO CUTE?”

Turns out we didn’t have to decide as it was one in the same dog.  We were instantly sold and smitten and now just had to solve the dilemma of how to get this puppy which was 5 hours away.

Mom and Dad to the rescue.  My parents graciously picked up the puppy for us, foster cared her for a few days, and met us at a Wendy’s parking lot half way between their house and ours so we could bring her home. (THANKS MOM AND DAD!!)

Today we brought home the newest member of the Circus Family!

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She loves to snuggle on your lap and be held.  She’s mellow and easy going in the house… and playful outside. 

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In a word, she’s perfect.  And no, I am not at all biased.  We all agree.

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It has sort-of evolved such that we have always named our dogs after a location of significance to the circus family.  We tried to contrive a name that worked with our new street address / community but nothing really fit.  We were all ready to branch out into a new unrelated name as we drove away from the rendezvous point.  That’s when it hit me…

Meet Wendy.  The newest member to the circus crew.

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We celebrated my Dad’s 60th Birthday this week with a party at Hershey park.  Dad, Mom, their kids, and their 8 grandkids. 

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We had a blast riding the rides, but truly the best part was being together as a family and enjoying watching relationships grow. 

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When you’re the oldest cousin sometimes you have to do time in the kiddy rides.  He was quite the sport… and was rewarded with roller coaster time in the evening.

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My mom prepared tons of food for lunch and dinner.  We tailgated in the parking lot for lunch before we went into the park and again in the evening with cupcakes and party horns.

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My youngest niece is def a future thrill seeker.  She had her hands in the air before the ride even took off. IMG_0841

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Thanks Dad for sharing your special day with all of us… it was a fun day filled with sweet, sweet memories.

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I recall seeing something on Facebook before I went to bed about possible flash freezing or snow.  But, I didn’t give it much thought.

When I woke up I peeked behind the curtain to see if anything came of it and I gasped. 

It was that big white puffy snow that sticks to the branches of trees.  My most favorite kind of snowfall.  And I laid in bed and watched it fall snuggling with my hubby and kids. 

Hello February 1st. 

Photo: Hooray for my fav kind of white puffy snow sticking to branches!!!

The kids ate a quick breakfast and made a bee line for their snow gear.  Scott headed to work with promise of coming home for an early and long lunch and hopes of a sledding excursion. 

After an hour delay to our school day, I threw the kids winter clothes in the dryer, and we set out to tackle their least favorite and most time consuming subjects.  (with promise of sledding dangling in front of them)

Scott came home 2 hours later and the sun was already putting a dent in the snow, but not in our fun.IMG_9094

Going back up the hill was much harder than coming down.

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We were the only ones on the hill.  I think this partly due to the fact that public schools did not get out or get a delay and partly because it was equal parts mud and snow on the hill this afternoon.

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But, we were able to scout out some snow paths and a good time was had by all.

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WIPE OUT!

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We don’t often get out sledding and this was the first time I remember sledding in years… as in my entire adult life.  (last time we took them to the hill I was preggo with baby number 4)

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I had such a fun, fun time today.  It was a totally unexpected, beautiful treat and surprise and a wonderful way to end the week!

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