Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Can It Be?

How can it be that the time is here for college visits for our oldest child? This weekend she will be going on her first "official" college visit. And my mind is just wondering how can it already be that time in our lives?

When our kids were younger, people would tell us how fast the time would go and that before we knew it we would be looking at colleges rather than pre-schools. It seems those people really knew what they were talking about. I am glad that I listened to a lot of the "sidewalk/grocery store advice" about raising kids because they were right. The young years go fast. The junior high and high school years have speeded up even more.

I am happy with the fun ages of our kids and the ability for us to enjoy conversation together. Most of our conversations take place around the dinner table. I enjoy cooking for our family. Like most families, we juggle evening commitments to sports and music and meetings and projects. It is pretty difficult to get all of us together to eat at the same time. We try to eat together, as often as possible.  I like trying new recipes and making each person's favorite meal for their birthday. As time goes on, I am curious to see what the kids remember, as they get older about the conversations and food we shared together. A meal brings out prayers and conversations and allows us to share in each other's lives.
"The oldest form of theater is the dinner table. It's got five or six people, new show every night, same players. Good ensemble; the people have worked together a lot." Michael J. Fox  I couldn't agree with you more, Michael!

I would love to hear about your dinner table and your thoughts about family time.

Feeling blessed,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Final Re-Cap of 2013 & My Word for 2014

My Word for 2014: BALANCE
Today I unrolled my yoga mat and did a series of poses. Just kinda went with it and as I was practicing familiar poses to my brain, yet somewhat unfamiliar to my body (as I haven't practiced regularly in 8 or more years), I came to some pretty interesting thoughts. And I decided that I need yoga again. I need BALANCE and that is something pretty difficult to achieve in our world. As soon as we accomplish one goal, we are setting another...pushing farther and harder. But we need time to just be without all the  grasping for more, more, more. And the truth is that if we can find an inner stillness, we can see things so much more clearly. We can see that the path we are on and that we are on that path for a reason. Sometimes it is hard to see why we are on a particular path, but if we are able to see it a bit more clearly, we can have fun and be adventurous and embrace the path and thereby gaining more happiness to spread into the world. Ahhh yoga. And the bonus of feeling better physically is worth it. The mind body balance. So perhaps you have guessed my word for 2014...BALANCE. It only took me one month to find that word!

I have decided that I still really enjoy blogging. I love reading others blogs and I love to share my perspective on things...my writer side, if you will. So I AM BACK to BLOGGING and you will see more posts from me. I am still trying to find my authentic voice in blogging. So this will be another exploration this year. As a mom, so many things are changing at warp speed. Things that I thought were far off in the future are right here, right now. Things like college visits. For my girl who never left my side for 3 years and would just hug my leg and never let go. She would grab my face and kiss my cheek for as long as she could. That girl is ready to explore colleges in different states and areas that are fairly far from home to see what they have to offer her. It kinda hit me hard when I realized that most of her college visits need to be scheduled in the next 3 months...so we have a calendar filled with dates and times of visits...probably around 10 colleges. And I am trying to catch my head up with my heart. And so far, I am doing ok. I am sure the watery eyes I have had this week are from a head cold and {not} the emotions of letting go of that sweet 3 year old hugging my leg.

It has been bitterly cold here in Ohio. The changing temps have left me with a cold this week. The kids had 5 days in a row off due to our winter weather. It all went well when I put things in perspective and let the kids sleep in every day. I realized that this was an opportunity to be together without the added pressure of homework. We didn't do anything that was super fun or  blogworthy. We just hung out and tried to keep warm. I think they needed the extra rest and relaxation time. We celebrated hubby's birthday with some shopping & good food. We ate out. One got a haircut.  We kept an appointment for the son with the broken arm. We all went together. Nothing spectacular, but perhaps that is what we needed to make it through January this year.

Summer 2013
So let's take a look back at summer in 2013. I am a summer girl and I love the sun and the heat. Summer always goes too fast for me. We had an awesome summer despite all of the rainy weather. Of course we had a lot of TOW...Time on the Water...which as a newer slalom skier, I love. It is a pure adrenaline rush for me and I always feel fantastic after a ski run around the lake.

The kids rarely tube but when they do, it is always interesting to see how they jockey for the best part on the tube:

This is Ana having fun on her wakeboard after a new trick:

And at the end of a great lap around the lake:

My hubby, Rich, tried a new sport this year...I may have influenced him just a little with my enthusiasm:

As either my hubby or I am driving the boat, we hand the camera off to one of the kids and they still haven't figured out how to capture us just at the right time...but we will take whatever pics we can get from them and we have something to work toward next summer.

Marissa is improving so much with her skiing that she will be on the slalom ski soon. I wish I had learned to slalom earlier! Here she is enjoying herself on the lake after overcoming fear issues of other boats and going around the island. So proud of her!
Foster is always having fun on the water and trying new things from surfing to new tricks on the wakeboard. He has always loved the water. I didn't do a good job of photographing him this year as I have (like many) relied on my iPhone way too much. Here are a few shots of him having fun:

Wakeskating...no bindings to hold your feet onto the board:
 Wakeskating...look ma, one foot, one hand:
 He totally rips on the slalom ski...I think this could be his sport but he just gets on the ski a few times a summer and rips through a lap and is done all the while making it look easy:
And a wakeboard photo from early in the summer...he was using his Dad's board (which was too big) and was just having fun:

The kids have permission from this dock owner to use the dock if they knock on the door and let the owner know they are jumping off...it is cute to watch them run up the sidewalk and knock on the door and then run back to the dock to jump off...again and again...while we wait in the boat and take pictures (mostly for Instagram posts)
Sisterly love...
Or some throw in a dock flip:

We love it when my sister and her girls come to visit...it may involve a little arm wrestling:

Or some time on the boat:
Or all of the girls just spending time on the deck and chilling:
The best part of being at the lake is spending time with loved ones.

Our youngest, Marissa, had her 11th birthday which we celebrated in style, here with a rare parent picture:
And with her sister and brother:

She had an awesome birthday with family and friends. Part of her present included a Carly Rae Jepsen concert which was really good. Me with my two girls:

Fall 2013
Summer seems to morph into fall so quickly. We had two in high school sports and one playing travel soccer. I don't know how we made it through the grueling schedule, but we did and I was super grateful to have Ana help with the driving to/from all the sporting events.

This was Ana's third year of tennis. We have an awesome team and our school has made many trips to the state playoffs. Ana played both Junior Varsity and Varsity. She got in a ton of playing time and really progressed with her game this year. I was frequently bopping from tennis, to high school soccer to my other daughter's soccer practices and games. I did not get one single photo of Ana on my real camera. This photo is courtesy of another tennis mom...I love this:

Our girls placed 3rd in the Ohio State Coaches Tennis Tournament...Ana (in purple hat....it was so cold that day in October!) did not play in this match but she was there to support her team. She did play in a match earlier in the season to help advance her team. I am proud of what a team player she is and how she has grown in her tennis skills. She is lucky to have these girls as friends and teammates. I know that when she is older she will be able to draw on a lot of lessons learned through high school tennis. I hope she will continue to play beyond high school for fun, social, and fitness.

High School soccer started for my son on the last day of 8th grade. The team had open field all summer long and my son was at every one that he could possibly make. Our school fielded a 100% freshman team, a junior varsity team and a Varsity team. We are a smaller district and it was awesome to have the opportunity for my son and other freshman to play on the same team. Some of the freshman players were also asked to play up for JV and Varsity, as the coaches requested them. This was a bit of a different season for my son as he has played goalie almost 100% of the time in the past 7 years. This year he was on the field and played forward and midfielder. Most of the teams we played were a mix of older (and much bigger) players and in fact we did not play one team that was purely compromised of freshman like our team. The one time that my son did play goalie, he was kicked in the head (when he had possession of the ball and a penalty should have been called, but it was not), which resulted in a very scary 24 hours of watching him and a dr. visit...and that is how the season ended. I am proud of him for taking on new positions and putting forth an awesome effort and being a team player. This pics is of him entering the game when his name was caled by the announcer. I must say it was nice for all of the parents to hear all of the boys names announced before the game and during the game.

This is Marissa playing soccer..she is in the white jersey with the long blonde ponytail. She played on two travel teams in the fall. Our travel is different than some other areas. We are pretty far from the other teams that we compete against and usually have to travel 45 minutes up to 1.5 hours each way. I have some thoughts on that but will save them for another day. Marissa is a developing player and has amazed me with some of her soccer skills. If she continues to develop skills at her current rate, I think she will be a tough competitor. I will say that sometimes I am disappointed at the poor sportsmanship and overly aggressive play by some teams at this level (she plays on the U12 team, but is a true U11 player due to her bday so she can play on both teams) I am thankful that she is on a team that emphasizes skill rather than brute force. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see the blatant pushing, shoving, and tripping. I am working on being less vocal in 2014.

You may have noticed that I updated a few pics along the sidebar. We skipped family pictures this year and instead I hired a talented photographer to take pictures of the kids. It was very low key and I am glad that I went that route. Here is one my favorite photos by Aemee Ellis

Ana went to two homecomings this year. This was the first one...we opted for a long dress as this school had a lot of rules about the dress and I thought it would be really hard to find a dress that met the length requirements with her long legs. I ordered it online and then she had to scurry to get it approved by the school and thankfully it passed! Rich and I were headed to an Ohio State game.

Foster celebrated his 15th birthday with an unofficial concussion and cherry pie. And an annual pic with his Mom & Dad:

One thing I have found out the hard way is that when there are special events like birthdays or homecomings, you have to make an effort to get a picture with your child or in this case children. These pictures are the most important to me, but I haven't always gotten them due to distraction. This is Ana's junior year of homecoming (only one more year!) and Foster's freshman year.

My brother and his wife were here for the Homecoming festivities, and also to celebrate a birthday. This is Marissa helping Uncle Dan with his birthday cake. Who do you think is more excited about the birthday?

Hubby and I dress in black tie twice a year for a club that we belong to. I had a hard time finding something this year, but it was comfortable. And we had a good time out on the town: cocktails, dinner, and dancing!

Thanksgiving 2013
We changed things up a bit for Thanksgiving this year. Since our youngest is now over her fear of elevators, we thought it was a great opportunity to head to Chicago. We had a blast and thanks to the CityPass we were able to see everything on our list and more. This is one of my favorite memories while on our way to the Field Museum. We had awesome weather, pizza every night, incredible shopping, sightseeing, cab rides, views of Lake Michigan, and lots of good memories!

Another of my fave Chicago pics was of the kids just before we left. This was taken outside at Pizano's Pizza....yummy...love the red checked table cloths!

Christmas 2013
I missed taking our picture on Christmas Eve, so instead I created a collage of what we were doing that week. Ana is now a ski instructor, the kids with their new Christmas ski gear, hubby and I on the lift and Marissa taking a ski break in the lodge:
And that is the end of the picture Re-Cap 2013. I hope to be more of a frequent blogger so that these mega posts are few and far between. Also if you want to follow me on Instagram, you can find me at cathymskier

My words for 2013: Small Changes
I loved my words for 2013... I was able to make a lot of small changes that added up to a whole lot of big changes. Organized areas of my home including drawers and closets. What an awesome feeling to make small changes, and to feel progress!!! I blogged about my choice of words here and then went on to make to outline my goals here. I stayed active with tennis, skiing, water skiing, training with a personal trainer, and barre classes.

I will blog soon about BALANCE. Until then.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Recap 2013, Part 2 and the Lull

I love this time of year...the little lull between Christmas and New Year's. It is when we can nap most easily and yet we are getting motivated for a new year, with the flip of the calendar.  A bit of relaxation mingled with a bit of excitement. And as I reflect on 2013, I can honestly say it was one of my very best years. Certainly there were new challenges in every facet of my life, but it was all tempered by a stronger and deeper faith in God. A God who is faithful and loving and will direct us where we are needed. Wow. Amazing to realize that I am finally letting go of some control in my life. Letting go and letting God work. I am looking forward to 2014 and seeing where God leads me, in my faith journey and how that will be exemplified in my life.

In my last post I found I had nothing to blog about and then 3 months of thoughts and pictures spilled out onto the blog. I enjoyed going back through my pictures and really thinking about those memories. I know these type of posts can get a little long winded, so I really appreciate you letting me pour it all out on this little old blog!

The girls got a wonderful Christmas present but had to wait an agonizing 4+ months to get their gift. We went with friends to the Taylor Swift concert. Wow. She was simply amazing. A phenomenal artist! Worth every penny of the tickets and the months of waiting until she came to town!

We haven't been to a wedding in a few years. This was one of the sweetest weddings I have ever been to. The bride was gorgeous and we had a blast!

And we finally installed a new basketball hoop...this is my little nerd who was dressed up for Nerd Day at school...trying out the new hoop before school:

Friend Time
A friend hosted a very sweet luncheon at the end of the school year. Me with two of my closest friends:

Father's Day
I love Father's Day because it is such fun to celebrate those that you love when it is warm and sunny weather. We celebrated with my hubby on the lake (for the record I took a pic of my kids and hubby, but the sun was so bright we couldn't get a pic of everyone with their eyes open! So I am posting this one, so I don't embarrass the ones that can't keep their eyes open) Just a little blurry:

And with my Dad (and Mom) and kids, a week after the designated day with a cake at the lake.:

I am lucky to have such great parents. Here is a post I wrote about my Dad, a few years ago: Why Valentine's Day is Special To Me.

I am rather new to tennis and have only played sporadically. But in the spring of 2013, I was invited to play on a league. We were all new to league play, so we had a lot to learn in our first few matches. In the end, the other teams learned that we were the nicest and most gracious hosts. It ended up being a really great experience. I am not sure if we will play in the league in 2014, but it was a great experience trying something that is so far out of my comfort zone! I am in the back row in the middle in white shirt/skirt. I remember it was super hot that night and I thought I was going to die, but was glad that I had my Frog Tog to keep me cool:

Another tennis photo of a "bloody match" that was played with my daughter,(in pink) sis in law(in yellow) and bro in law(only brave guy around to take us on!)...so much fun! Part of our family reunion fun in Florida:

Our family reunion (on my husband's side) in Florida involved a photo shoot of all the families...16 grandkids under the age of 16...I snapped this pic as they were positioning the kids...this was so much fun to watch...and we were awaiting one more little one in this photo...love the behind the scenes photos! And by the way there are 11 girls to 5 boys! Girls rule:

And another one for fun, with the two youngest cousins, who are sisters, kissing...so so sweet:

And then one of my bro in laws snapped this for us outside by the water with an iPhone:

Nothing prepares you for when your oldest turns 16...it is just so shocking that it has gone by so quickly...but we still had a blast celebrating from the moment she woke up until she went to sleep:

If you haven't noticed that most of my pictures involve family and friends. But in between these fun photos there is a lot of work that goes on. The mundane duties like laundry and driving to/from kid's commitments for lessons and practices. There are a lot of grocery store trips and cleaning of the house. Lots of bill paying and balancing of the checkbook. Honestly, I am a little behind on the tasks that keep the house running smoothly. So I am going to take care of those duties and I will come back with a final recap of 2013 and some thoughts about 2014. See you soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nothing to Blog About

I don't have anything to blog about. I have started this post many times and then stopped. It seems useless to keep a blog if I am only going to blog a few times a year. But, still I can't stop blogging. I love reading others blogs and have enjoyed finding new blogs through Instagram. I just don't know where this blog fits in cyberspace and in my life. I remember when I first started blogging and the feeling. If you don't know what I am talking about, then surely you aren't a blogger. There is something magical about creating a blog post. I love how the writing and photos and comments all interact. The interaction. And I guess it is because I don't have the patience to focus on just writing, or just photography. Through blogging, I can mix the two and find that the blend of the two works for me.

Bloggy Friend
So I do have one fun thing to report! This summer while making a quick stop at the tennis club, I met a bloggy friend...purely by chance!! It was so weird and fun and surreal! I wasn't even supposed to be at the tennis club that day but stopped to drop off something to one of my kids. And walking down the hallway I hear "cathymskier" (my instagram name! that was the first time anyone called me by that name!!) and looked up to find my bloggy friend Kerri! Kerri grew up in my town and was visiting family while on her way to a big tennis tournament in Chicago for her son! Her son was getting in some practice at our tennis club. We spent a few minutes talking and getting to know each other in "real" life. It was so cool!

My youngest snapped this candid of us. Me on left and Kerri on right:

And the posed shot, don't judge the way we look, as this was a serendipitous moment (meaning: lucky in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries, courtesy of Siri)

I also met Kerri's hubby (the tennis coach) and her son, who I have been following on her blog for a few years. So much fun!! And such a sweet surprise for both of us!

A Random Rant
Here is one other reason I love blogging...the feeling of accomplishment! As a stay at home mom, it never really seems like you get that feeling. Whatever progress you may make, gets undone within an hour of the kids being home. And we won't talk about the lack of the paycheck...which leads me to a little rant about working vs nonworking moms. I choose not to work for a variety of reasons. I have worked. I was successful and I worked hard for a very long time. When the time came to be able to stay at home,  I was burned out. Fried. Too much travel and responsibility for too long. I was burned out from being a workaholic. Truly. Ask my husband because he lived it. I digress. I have chosen to stay home with my kids and continue to do so. I am not a slacker. I have had my own business while raising 3 kids. So when working moms tell me how busy they are, I get it. But I will not feel guilty for making my choice, because it was the right choice for me. And I rarely point out to the complaining working moms, that my bank account reads zero and my 401K reads zero in the past 16.5 years. So yeah, I get it. And if you choose to stay home and raise your kids, realize that the accomplishment, pay and retirement are zero, but it still may be the right choice for you.

 Re-Cap 2013
As I have been going through photos on my phone , I have decided to share a re-cap of some things that happened in 2013. And yes there was PROGRESS!! Woot woot! In my last post I was eating right and working out. And of course skiing!

This was a fun pic with my youngest on the slopes in March 2013:

And what our ski locker looks like with some of the gear:

Spring Break 2013
We enjoyed a fun family trip to the gulf coast of Florida and spent some time connecting with my parents (snowbirds who winter in Florida). And I love using the collage apps on my phone to tell a story:

These two (my youngest and my Dad) are always playing cards...ever since she was a toddler, so I adore this pic:

We rented a house on Anna Maria Island that had the cutest beachy interior and the most lovely HEATED pool (20 steps from the kitchen).  I found it on VRBO.  The VRBO # is 207751.

Our trip ended at McCormick's. Not the restaurant. The water ski and wakeboard park. Oh my. My first ever water ski lesson from an Australian pro water ski jumper. I was so so nervous!! A new driver, a different boat and a totally different ski! Also,  I remember being very nervous about my start. As I am older (late 40's) and have only been a slalom skier for a few years, I sometimes have troubles with my start. I need a long slow drag to get up...but I got up the first try and tried to take in everything the instructor was teaching me and tried really hard to relax. A pre-lesson pic:

During the lesson, wearing a skirted suit...looks weird in this pic:

And hubby's got mad wakeboarding skills...this is after a long winter of no wakeboarding:

And my sweet boy...notice his thumb protector on that grab?...this is a few months post surgery:

And after all that excitement we relaxed! And I sniped this photo of the kids from the hotel balcony. My mom tells me that I need to take more candids, so this was an attempt:
An interesting side note to the above picture is that there was a couple to the right of the kids, that were tanning poolside all day. The couple, we thought, were married to each other, as they were all over each other. After awhile we figured out that they were not married (to one another) and were hooking up in Florida...not sure where they were from, maybe Great Britain? It was a strange day, as we were having family fun while the "couple" was away on a getaway. Both were wearing rings.

The only family photo from our vacation taken with an iPhone and seriously edited on Instagram. Photo credit to the cheating husband from the paragraph above:

Spring 2013
After we returned from Spring Break, we had planned a surprise event for my bestie friend!!! I called her on her birthday and told her to put a date on her calendar. We ended up meeting bestie and her hubster at a restaurant and treated them to a concert...Tristan Prettyman, one of my all time fave singers! Our car was broken into that night...for the second time in two years in a city that we no longer live in, but frequent. So this is before the broken glass and the cold, loud car ride home. My other post about being broken into is here.

This pic was taken when my daughter went to another school's prom in the Spring. I must really love that tshirt as I am wearing it in the above pic, too! My daughter looked so beautiful that night. I was stunned to see her growing up before my eyes. It was so stressful taking pictures because I literally had 50 people show up and they ended up parking in my friend, who did my daughter's hair. My friend could not get out and had to have someone pick her up at my house. I was there trying to be gracious when I was freaking out because I only knew my daughter and her date and his family and one other friend and her parents. Literally there were so many people and all I wanted was a pic with my girl.
We are learning a lot about being parents to teenagers. Let me just give you a small piece of advice...before letting your children go out on a date or to a formal...make sure you have their date's phone number in case your child's phone goes dead. You can never have enough phone numbers nor re-inforce the curfew time enough. I know this from experience and although that night did not play out the way that I thought it would, everyone was safe and had good clean fun...even though it did go into the early morning hours. Funny how we think sleepless nights are reserved for the parents of infants and toddlers. Add teens to that list.

We had a busy spring filled with soccer my youngest slapping five on the left with her teammate. She earned Most Improved player from her coach who is on the left below:

And more soccer...last game with this rec team after many, many seasons with the same coach and many of the same players and years of being in the goalbox...a successful season for all as we won the championship...such great friends and great families...we hosted the end of the year party after the game with temps in the 90's in May!

And we had spring musical events.
The youngest had a strings concert where she played cello but I couldn't get a good pic of her playing. So we ended with this fun photo of my youngest and her friends that are also soccer buddies. Mine is second from left in the blue headband (she came from a soccer game):

My oldest daughter and one of her close friends were asked to sing the National Anthem at a high school baseball game. It was the first time they sang it together even though they have been friends since second grade. The mic didn't work and I had a horrible time getting a picture but was happy to snap this:

All of a sudden school was out and we were onto summer events. I was taking a picture of something and these two photobombed the picture. A rare moment where brother and sis are getting along:

Christmas 2013
I will finish my re-cap in another post...have to get out and find two more Christmas gifts. I wanted to remind you that all of the holiday stress can be shelved. Just remember to enjoy the lights and laughter. I found this pic on my phone. It is the baby of one of my dear friends. The baby is almost five and has changed so much! I sent this pic to her and she said I can use it on my blog. So enjoy!!!

I hope you check back for another post and I enjoyed catching you up on my life at Checkitoff. Thanks for stopping by!
hugs, Cathy