So we made it to Italy!  Yikes!!  The most kid {un}friendly flight crew in history!  My fault for not flying the friendly skies ... although we do have United on the way home, and also my advocate husband who told me he would’ve kicked some stewardess {booty}!!

After an hour or so delay on the runway, and a “can’t you keep those kids quiet” remark from large, tourist lady with inflatable pillow around her neck {okay, I just cracked myself up at that remark, but it’s true!}, and a baby that would NOT go to sleep ... “no sleep, no sleep” is all she’s saying as she looks like a drunken sailor ready to pass out.  Mama needs her sleep baby ... please go to sleep!!!  She finally fell asleep with 2 hours of the flight left.  Giving me a total of 6 hours of sleep 2 nights running!  We finally made it into Rome.

Awesome hotel!  Awesome weather {if you like it hot and you like hot, sweaty, crabby kids!}.  But seriously, you can’t go wrong in Rome.

Skye, the girls and I headed to our room, ordered some lunch and took a much needed nap.  When we woke up, we headed to the pool and Curt and Odinn arrived shortly after that.

We headed to the Spanish Steps area for dinner and a look around ... the weather had cooled down enough to enjoy.

This morning we overslept and ended up delaying our scheduled tour by an hour or so.  Then we headed to the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain.  If I get some time, I’ll try to put some photos up within the next few days.  I’ve added a post to my Broadway Paper blog, it’s got a crazy photo on it.  The kids were pretty hot and crabby and so done with touring.  We spent the afternoon at the pool and had a really nice dinner.

Tomorrow we’re visiting the Vatican and the day after that we’re looking at some Catacombs ... not sure what to expect there, but Curt’s all over it!


wooden spoon

Curt, Odinn, and Jon {Dudley} are over surviving over 1,000 miles of driving and climbing 4 of the tallest peaks in the UK, Scotland and Wales done in 3 days.  The challenge is called the Wooden Spoon and supports disadvantaged children in the UK.  Read more about the organization and event here.

Following are a few notes Curt’s sent me:

June 24 - Thank you guys for your support.. I really appreciate it ... the children of Britain thank you as well! We all arrived this afternoon and so got a first hand view of the tallest mountain in scotland... we are going to die.

June 24 - we had a flawless trip. 90 minute plane  to Glasgow and 3 hours by car up into the scottish highlands..man its gorgeous up here. However, cold and rainy. snow on the tops of the mountains..which are  much steeper and higher (and more slippery) than I ever thought....  OH MY ..THIS IS GOING TO BE TOUGH 

June 25 - We had a classic Scottish meal last night  and did a 3 1/2 hour practice hike halfway up the back side of Ben Nevis (the largest mountain in the UK) with the JD Engineering team this morning.. got rained on for the last 30.. tomorrow the frontal assault for leg one of the race.... 

Click here for more photos.

new bed partner

No, not Wynter and her carryon ...

Curt’s traveling and Piper had a sleepover at Julia’s house last night, so I invited Wynter to sleep with me.  OMGoodness, you would’ve thought it was Christmas!

She brought every stuffed animal she owns and jumped into bed.

I didn’t sleep well {hmm, wonder why?} and woke a few times.  Once had me staring eye-to-eye with teddy {freaked me out til I remembered what was going on}.  And another was when Wynter, sitting up and all scratchy voiced says “Maaama? Can I have a big hug?”

24/7 Wynt ... 24/7 ...


she made the swim team!!

I was at work, so couldn’t be at the swim team try-outs...here’s an email Curt sent me:

They joined the team for the opening exercises and introductions... they wouldn’t talk...too shy..  With Christina swimming along side piper (wouldn’t do it on her own)  made the free style length (its LONG!) with flying colors and then barely passed the back stroke..so SHE IS ON THE TEAM! and the youngest member! there is one 7 year old.    10:30 tomorrow is her first practice. 

Wynter did great.. chuck actually thought she was 6 ...  She made the crawl (I didn’t think she would be able to do it) length but then didn’t want to do the back stroke... chuck said her back stroke would have had to have been pretty good for her to make the team because she barely made the crawl.

Piper, I am SO proud of you!! {and Wynt, you too for trying}  I truly wish I could’ve been there.

So, Piper had practice yesterday and when I got home last night from work {Curt’s traveling and granny was with them for the day}, Piper was so excited to tell me she won a breathing contest.  She had to do handstands and see who could stay under the water the longest and she won!

I asked her if she knew whose lungs she had.  Whose?  And what are lungs?  {after a quick lung function explanation} I told her she had daddy’s lungs ... he can stay underwater forever.  “You’ve got my eyes and daddy’s lungs” ... she was so proud of that!

And without missing a beat, Wynter says, “And I’ve got daddy’s eyes and your lungs.”

Ahhh ... I love my children!


the last best place

So awesome!!  And just what the doctor ordered!  We left Racine on Wednesday afternoon with the Dudley’s and headed for Montana.  Four full days without my iPhone, email, or “connections” had me freaking out a little, but in hindsight ... it done me some real good!

We landed in Missoula and drove north to Greenough, for some of the best “gl-amping” known to man at the Paws Up resort.  {glamourous camping = spoiled!} We stayed in luxury platform tents, complete with real beds and electric blankets; a short walk had us in 5 star private bathrooms; we had a beautiful dining area; and an awesome fire pit area.

We christened the never-before-stayed-in ‘River Camp,’ which was located directly on the Blackfoot River {think ‘A River Runs Through It’ ... Brad Pitt}.  We had a private butler who rose at the crack of dawn to get coffee and the fire ready.  A chef came to make breakfast and dinners ... gourmet food {elk, buffalo ... I had the kids mac & cheese!  although, I did love the goat cheese omelets ...}.

When we arrived Wednesday evening, we got settled and headed right to the fire for s’mores, a beautiful cheese platter, and then it was time for nighty-night!  Man, the temps sure drop at night in Montana!  brrrrrr ...

Thursday morning we headed to the Wilderness Outpost to see what activities were in store for the weekend, and then headed Garnet to see the area’s famous ‘ghost town.’  It was pretty cool!  Someone lived there as recently as 1960!  Pretty freaky to think about if you look at the photos.  After touring the town, we noshed on a picnic lunch the resort sent us with.  The kids had like 3 desserts each in their lunches and were basically wired the rest of the day!

After we finished with lunch, we headed back to camp for Hunter’s nap and some adventure time for the rest of the kids.  Piper and Wynter spent a great deal of time setting up their ‘store’ in between some brush and bushes.  They offered everything from pine cones, rocks to cookies {hand sanitizer recommended after purchasing, as it turns out these ‘cookies’ were actually made out of moose poop ... true story!}.

The kids were way too excited to find centipede alley and Mr. Snakie.  And then spent much of their time finding insects to feed Snakie!

Friday morning we went on a hike near camp and found a baby fawn, a neat old cabin, and a crazy ant hill.  Curt had the kids dipping their hands into it and as they pulled their hands out, they were covered {and I mean covered} in ants!

The kids spent Friday afternoon at adventure camps, while the adults used Hunter’s nap time to do a little napping too!  Friday night we went to the manager’s bbq social {can’t you just picture curt loving this?}.  The kids learned how to rope a calf, which ended in Curt roping the kids.  People thought we were insane!

Saturday we went canoeing on a quiet, pristine river and followed that up with a picnic lunch on shore.

We all had an absolutely fabulous time and I’d love to go back next year!  You know it’s a good time when miss teenage, professional IM’er, bored at family events tells you she’s having a good time!

Two sad events to note:  Snakie found his final resting place; Wynter had to close down the store.

Click here for photos {warning ... many photos!}


thank you!

{warning: grab a cup of coffee ...}

I have been a major miss whiner lately and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  I’m in my office {at work} at 6:30 yesterday morning, complaining in my head about all my ‘poor me’s.’

I used to feel like I needed to list out all the things I had piling up on me and all the things that stress me out {insert dramatic eye roll}.  Then I saw Soledad O’Brien speak at a women’s conference thingy and my perspective was completely changed {well ... not completely, completely to those of you who have still endured my occasional whining}. But what she said hit me at the core ... it was a realization she made while in the midst of trying to one-up on the stress level when talking with friends.  Ready?

“It’s not a competition.”

We all have stresses and it truly isn’t a competition.  From then on, I’ve tried {insert humble smile} to be very cautious when talking to friends and complaining about my life and all my stresses.  I try very hard not to go into my lists of what I’ve got piled up.

The past couple of years have brought me much pain.  I didn’t know how to handle it at first and so it brought me more pain {all of course while I was smiling to the world, except to an unfortunate few of you ...}.  I was at a ‘hands up in the air, I have no idea what to do here point,’ when I finally figured it out ... I needed to let go and give it to God.  When I think back on that time {I don’t let myself go too deeply too often} I have no idea how I got through it.  It’s then that I’m reminded, it really wasn’t me who got through it ... it was God who got me through it.

Do you know the footprints saying?  I won’t list it all out here ... but the jist has a man talking to God asking about the footprints he sees in the sand.  And the man says to God “look here, when I was going through the hardest times in my life, there are no footprints.  Where were you?”  And God replies {major tears}, “That my child is when I carried you.”

My God carried me through the last couple of years, I have no doubt.

{kleenex thrown away}

So this brings me to my entry ... I feel like I’ve been writing it in my head for the last week.  Only it was much different before ... it was a list, to list out all of the stresses going on in my life right now.  And I need to apologize to a few of you who have been the brunt of my complaining lately.  I can’t tell you how guilty I felt after those conversations.  Did it help me feel better to vent?  No, I felt convicted.

My thoughts keep returning to the question, why I can’t seem to get over the things that have me buried right now.  When it pretty much hits me over the head and knocks me over ... I have been trying to deal with this turmoil myself.  I have not turned it over to God.  I’ve been praying every morning for wisdom and guidance {and a few extra hours in my day!} and then I’d go about my day a frazzled mess!

When I realized this morning that I had been asking God to speak to me, and then turned and pretty much ran ... how in the world am I supposed to hear anything when I’m going at warp speed?  Fortunately, my God speaks to me loudly at times and this morning I finally figured it out.

“Trust in me,” he said.  And I did.  And I got more accomplished {tears of thankfulness and joy starting} today, then I usually accomplish ever.  Bonus for being obedient? I interviewed a candidate for office manager {pickin’s were so slim I can’t even begin to tell you!} today and hired her on the spot!  I never do that!  It was a God thing.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you turn it over to God ... and for that my Lord, I thank you.  {I feel a song coming on!}:

What if in morning when I wake up

Even before I fill my coffee cup

I said thank You

Thank You

What if I look at the day and the hours ahead

And before I move forward I bowed my head

And said thank You

Oh I said thank You

What if I looked at my life in a different way

Took a little more time to stop and pray

I know it would change all the moments in between

So here I go

Thank You for everything

Thank You for loving me

It don’t even matter what tomorrow brings

Well I will sing my

Thank You for sun and rain

For what You give and take away

For all Your goodness I will always say

Thank You

Oh I’ll say thank You

What if I lost everything that I had

I could smile and somehow still be glad

And say thank You

Thank you

Cause life is joy, life is pain

But the prayer on my heart will never change

I say thank You

Oh I’ll say thank You

{Thank you by 33 Miles. I strongly urge you to purchase.  It’s a catchy little ditty!}


still the one

Hey buddy ... this one’s for you. {what is with all my crazy waterworks these days ... they’re flowin’ now!}  How awesome are you that you saw my need and without question, took the girls away for a few days so I could get my work done.  So as I sit here missing you, adoring you, and crying ...

I just need to tell you how much I love you.  I need to tell you Happy Father’s Day ... do you have any idea what an incredible father you are?  I need to tell you how much those kids love you, treasure you really.  I need to tell you how much I treasure you.  I need to tell you that I am so glad I didn’t give up when things got rough.  I need to tell you that we were put together for a purpose.  I need to tell you we are *better* today than we used to be.

We have been through it all really {and because I’m up to 6 regular readers, for our privacy, I won’t list it all}, but truly, we have been through more than a couple, or family should endure.

You are an amazing man.  Do you realize that?  And do you realize how proud I am to call you husband?

There’s a song I used to hear and I would think, “10 years from now, that will be our song ...”  Well lover, amazingly, it has been 10 years ... and here is our song:

They said, “I’ll bet they’ll never make it.  But just look at us holding on.  We’re still together still going strong.

You’re still the one I run to.  The one that I belong to.  You’re still the one I want for life.  You’re still the one that I love.  The only one I dream of.  You’re still the one I kiss good night.

Ain’t nothing better.  We beat the odds together.  I’m glad we didn’t listen.  Look at what we would be missing.

They said, “I’ll bet they’ll never make it.  But just look at us holding on.  We’re still together still going strong.

You’re still the one ...


my friend marta

The strongest person you will *ever* meet!  Marta was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a month ago.  She’s undergone a double mastectomy, then when she found out a week later the skin on one side died, she needed to have that side redone.

She has been amazing ... a shining star really.  She laughs about being lopsided and how their toilet paper bill has risen since she’s taken to stuffing her bra.  She is not fearful of losing her hair or undergoing chemo.  She proudly wears dipping sweaters {note the cleavage!} and isn’t afraid to be in a swimsuit this summer.  I honestly think the only thing I’ve heard her complain about is missing her Canada trip {think Exuma in November Marta!!}

Her good friend Sharese had an excellent idea to throw a ‘hattitude’ party for her and I was all over it.  Tracie = Party!  We had about 50ish women celebrating this amazing person we call friend.

I’m constantly amazed at her positive attitude, her smile and her grace.  I love you friend!

Click here to see photos from her party.  And visit this link to follow Marta’s story.

I *just* received a note from a friend about Marta as I’m working on this and I have to share {Amy, I hope you don’t mind}:

“Marta has such a wonderful shine in her eyes that seems to be filled with strength and love.  She is an inspiration.”

OH!  and P.S., thank you Brigitte for helping me take photos!!


it's time to pot-Tay

Um, yeah ... that’s Hunter ... and it’s that time!  Not time to comb her crazy morning hair.  Not time to take away the multitude of nukies.  Time to pot-Tay on a big girl potty!

I seriously, seriously {I can’t stress enough how serious I am about this} wanted to wait until we got back from our trip to Europe this summer.  Who wants to drag a potty-training kid to the public toilets of Europe?  I’ve been in ‘em and they ain’t pretty {not to mention sanitary!}.

Or should I admit that I just don’t want to give up diapers yet.  Giving up diapers means I’m one step further out of ‘baby’ land ... and while I {seriously} know I don’t want to go into baby land {again} ... I’m not 100% certain I want to leave it quite yet ...

{P.S.  if she’s the one asking to go potty ... I suppose I shouldn’t fight it?}



This is my dear, sweet friend Lori Dykstra.  Lori is struggling right now and I don’t know what I can do for her.  I am feeling so helpless.

All I can think to do is pray, and ask for prayer.  For any of you that are reading this note, I desperately ask you to get on your knees and pray ... like you never have before ... like your life depends on it ... because Lori’s life does depend on it.

Lori is battling an incurable cancer, thymic cancer.  She was diagnosed just over two years ago and never {none of us in fact} believed she would still be battling this.  We knew without a shadow of doubt that the Lord would heal her.  She looked her diagnosis straight on and did what she had to do.  And we all did what we had to do ... pray.

But we are still praying, when we want to see an end to our prayers.  We want to see that the Lord has listened and answered our prayer.  What a testimony to him would come with Lori’s miraculous healing.

Lori was in the hospital Thursday night with excruciating pain.  They filled her full of morphine and increased the dosage of her 24/7 morphine patch to give her comfort.  They also found her cancer has spread and continues to spread rapidly.

Please Father God, I am begging of you to rid Lori ofevery cancer cell in her body!  She is a faithful servant and much is yet to be done in her life, through you.  We know you have the power to heal her.  Make her strong Dear Lord ... in faith and in body.  By your stripes Lord, we are healed.  We stand firm in this belief.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. {Hebrews 11:1}

www.caringbridge.org/visit/loridykstra to read her story.


a rolls royce saturday

Curt’s been having a blast driving his dad’s old 1922 Rolls around town!  He’s picked the girls up from school the last couple of days, and this morning we took it over to Armstrong park to meet up with Marta and her family.

The girls love driving it around, and I think some of the people in Racine get a kick out of it too!  Curt’s assistant got a call the other day asking if it was Curt out with his girls ... that it reminded her of when Sam used to drive it around town, and it was a sweet sight for her to see.  The horn even goes ... ArUgah!!

The girls were getting hot at the picnic {read crabby!}, so we brought them home to go swimming.  We took Bailee with us too and they all had a great time.  It was a great day for it ... until the storms set in!  :(

Click here for more photos from the day.

a boy grows up

This image brings tears to my eyes.  This is a mom who spent the last 19 years devoted to this boy, this man.  This is a mom who’s spent the last three or four years completely torn up over who this boy would become.  This is a mom who spent the last six weeks, sleepless, lonely and full of wondering.  This is a mom who is ecstatic to finally see her son, her soldier.  This mom is my sister.  The boy?  My hero.

Brett graduated from his Army basic training on Thursday, June 5 at Fort Knox, KY.  On Friday morning, he took a bus {with many other soldiers} to Aberdeen, MD where he’ll spend the next 11 weeks being trained in Utilities Repair.  At this point, we don’t know where he will go after that, but he does have a three year commitment.

We flew out at 4:15 am, for his ceremony in Kentucky at 8:00.  Then we had the whole day to spend with him.  We went to lunch, shopping, a movie.  We hung out.  We visited the Patton Military museum.

I can’t explain the overwhelming feelings of joy and pride I had while watching this boy I knew, suddenly become a man.  A well mannered, polite and loving man.

Trish?  You’ve done good.  Your perseverance with this teenage boy paid off.  Your unconditional love paid off.  Your faith in this boy you call son, paid off.  Your sleepless nights, paid off.  Years of worry, paid off.  You have much to be proud of.  I have no doubt Brett will do great things.

Click here to see photos from the day.

Click here to see a movie I put together for Trisha when Brett left for basic training.



I have no idea what I’m doing writing this at 10:30 at night when I am throughly exhausted and really no end in sight to get some much needed rest!  I’m tempted to hit Martaup for some vicodin!  :)

I don’t know ... I’ve had a doozy of events the last couple of days and I guess I wanted to write about some of my feelings.  Write as best I can with toothpicks in my eyes.

I’m trying to train for a triathlon right now and have kind of fallen off the wagon.  I *really* need to get motivated as I want to do this for Marta.  In fact, I want to put a “Team Marta” together.  And I think ... “if she can go through all she’s going through, how can I not get on my bike, or get in the pool?”  So that’s one thing that’s got me down.

Somehow the piles in my office have accumulated to overflowing ... in fact, I took a photo of my desk and was going to use that for this entry.  Then I thought, geez ... everyone has an overflowing desk ... why is mine any different?  I’m up late widdleing down those piles.  {feeling some weight being lifted off the shoulders ... clean desk, light shoulders}.

Yesterday was a day!  Started with an accident ... I was sitting at a green light, waiting for oncoming traffic so I could turn left, when a guy {admittedly} looked down and when he looked up again, I was stopped there.  He hit me at about 40 mph.  I have a sore back and neck, but truly it’s hard to tell if it’s from the accident or life!  When I got to work five employees gave notice they were leaving.  One friend asked me if it was a coo!  ???? !  Three are management and key positions, two are sales associates.  I know all things work out for the best and I’ll rally around it, but it was a bit much to take all in a matter of an hour.

Tuesday’s are my days home with Hunter.  Kindermusik is over for the semester, so we find other things to do.  Today we met Heather and EJ at the children’s museum and had a fun time.  When Hunter’s down for her nap, I usually spend those couple of hours getting caught up on email, mail and other things that get neglected between Tuesday nap times.  But today, Hunter had a speech appointment at Children’s during her nap time, so I knew I wasn’t going to get any work done today.  I could feel my stress level completely rising as I watched over 100 emails come in {via my iphone} throughout the day and knowing I couldn’t get to them.

Anyway, after we left the museum, Hunter and I checked out a new kitchen & bath store in the Third Ward.  Total excitement!!  Great customer service and great products.  Our builders recently informed us they are a month *ahead* of schedule {when does that happen?!?} and I need to get them my selection stuff asap.  Needless to say, I’m about a month *behind* on my selections!  So I was super excited to find this place and will definitely be giving them all my business ... they’ll even do the flooring in my new office!  OH! and get this ... I’m carrying Hunter to look at some selections and the lady I’m working with goes “would she like to watch a movie?”  Ummm, YES!  So she puts Shrek on for Hunter ... fills her snack cup with fresh Cheerios and I’m off to the races!

We met Curt for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory for lunch {photos here} and then went to Hunter’s speech appointment.  We learned Hunter is pretty much on target with her speech.  When we initially filled out all the paperwork, she pretty much wasn’t talking.  Over our spring break vacation she became a ‘word machine!’  We really weren’t as concerned anymore, but since we had filled out the paperwork, we figured we’d take her in anyway.  Bottom line is pretty much that since she was ‘under water’ for most of her life {before last set of tubes this past October} she was just really behind in hearing things clearly and being able to talk.  Anyway, during her appointment today, she was using words that I didn’t even know she had!  I’m watching my little girl interact with this lady and I’m falling in love with her all over again ... how does that happen?

Okay, and now the reason for my post ... I’m stressing all day about the ‘tons’ of things I have to do, about all the emails I need to answer and about all the piles of work I have to get through.  And what do I see at Children’s?  I see really sick kids.  I see really sad parents.  I see families that may not know where a meal is going to come from.  Things immediately get put into perspective, don’t they?  Or do they?

I get home from picking the girls up from school and Curt gives me an hour in the office to get some things done.  An hour didn’t cut it.  We have a little tradition where we have movie nights.  For some reason the girls *love* movie nights.  I do too actually.  It’s one of my favorite times to have all the girls together munching on our popcorn.  Everyone is quiet and absorbed in the movie.  I usually have a kid or two tangled up on my lap.  I really love it.  But tonight, I’m figuring out how I can bring my laptop or some work to movie night.  And then I remember some of the images from the day.  I think about what my girls might remember when they get older ... was mom *really* with us, or was she with her work.  What was more important to me?  I chose to spend some quality time with the blessings the Lord gave me.

I am constantly struggling with trying to balance life.  I want to do right by my children, my husband, my God.  What are the answers?  I don’t know ...

I do know that I’ll probably never know.  I do know that I need to accept that.  I do know that I need to enjoy the journey.  I do know I need to count my blessings ... name them one by one.  I do know I need to put things into perspective.  I do know that I *am* blessed.