Monday, March 6, 2017

A Sweet Hike

For unclear reasons, Danny and Laura had today off from school. It was a lovely day, so I mentioned heading to Sweetwater Creek State Park, a place I've been eager to visit for years. Miraculously they were up for it (okay, especially when bribed with the prospect of an afternoon sweet treat), so after a leisurely morning we headed out. And I'm happy to say that it lived up to my expectations, and they both thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well! Danny particularly reveled in trekking out to the middle of the creek on some of the larger boulders, showing how far he's come from his more tentative days. For her part, Laura has actually become a little less of a daredevil than she used to be, but that's not a bad thing at all.

The ruins of an old manufacturing plant.
Score one for Mother Nature, and some unscheduled time on a Monday! But now back to our regularly scheduled sports practices...

Monday, January 23, 2017

SHINE 2017

With Cherry
My Noonday venture began back in the spring of 2016, very eagerly supported by Clare but certainly by Tim, too. Actually, all of them - Laura has modeled pieces and drawn Noonday art, Danny has willingly made product videos. I'm a lucky gal. Still, I wasn't sure what kind of feat it would take for me to attend the annual conference, SHINE, in January - but I knew I really wanted to go.
With Jalia, Noonday's first Artisan Partner
Fortunately, I have incredibly supportive and helpful in-laws who were more than willing to trek up here and help Tim with the kids in order for me to go. I had been told by fellow ambassadors that it would be an amazing weekend (a word that is way overused, in my book), something definitely not to be missed. I was really looking forward to it, but I did wonder if it would live up to the hype? Then again, having a hotel room to myself for three days was probably going to make the trip worthwhile regardless.

I headed to SHINE in Austin, TX not knowing a soul, at least beyond being Facebook friends. Honestly, this didn't really bother me. It was very clear from the get-go that this was a group of women it would be extremely easy to merge with. In fact, I met my first friend before I boarded the plane. (We were easily identifiable to each other, what with ALL the Noonday.) Bev had recently moved to Atlanta from Chicago (!), AND was meeting up with her daughter who is also an ambassador - something that I was SO excited to share with Clare. I can absolutely imagine that for us in the future.
Bev and Kaley, the awesome mother-daughter duo
In truth, I just loved everyone I met. By the time we headed to the hotel from the Austin airport, we were a merry bunch of maybe a dozen, and it was clear that every time I turned around I would make a new friend. And occasionally brush shoulders with Noonday royalty - I shook founder Jessica Honegger's hand in the elevator (after SHE introduced herself to ME), and as I turned around I realized I was standing next to Cherry, the unbelievably inspiring artisan from Ethiopia. I had barely checked in, and the weekend was already a success as far as I was concerned.
This was a truly impressive conference, blending emotion, inspiration, and nitty-gritty content that left us feeling pumped up and ready to change the world.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Stellar Sixth Birthday

"My birthday is my favorite holiday!" exclaimed Laura, both in anticipation of and at the conclusion of her big day. Coming on the heels of the traditional holidays, it makes sense that she would consider her birthday to be one of them. Probably also true for the rest of the family, given that it typically marks the final hurrah as far as eating goes.
Once again, Laura opted to celebrate not with a party, but with an all-day play date with Meghan, beginning with breakfast from Dunkin Donuts.
From there they played at our house until it was time to head to the American Girl Cafe for a celebratory lunch. The experience echoed Clare's 7th birthday, and it was so fun to watch the girls delight in it all. (It was also very helpful to have Clare with me when it came time to hit the restroom, stand in line to pay at the store, etc.)
Naturally we couldn't escape the mall without a ride on the carousel, at least not when it's your birthday!
From here it was time to go home, change clothes, frost her cake and then head to Catch Air for some play time. It was a zoo due to the rainy weather and day off from school and work, but the girls managed to have a terrific time and played for two solid hours.
This proved to be the perfect way to work up an appetite for more cake and ice cream. I loved that as we left Catch Air, going on about nine hours together, they were trying to negotiate MORE time together - a testimony to a successful day!
It really was a happy birthday, which was evident from Laura's beaming face. Sweet girls, sweet day!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve, a.k.a. Patatas Bravas Night

Once again, the Francos agreed to join us in ringing in the New Year (and celebrating Isabella's birthday). And once again, the adults opted to cook a series of "small plates" that are never really that small, but always delicious.

Determined to recreate the fabulous Patatas Bravas that we've enjoyed at a few Tapas restaurants, and undaunted by less-than-successful attempts in previous years, Tim persevered with a new recipe -and knocked it out of the park!

It was a fun night characterized by food, wine, laughter, and VICTORY at cards. The kids had a wonderful time together, too, and we couldn't have asked for a better way to usher out the old year and welcome in the new.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Morlan-Needham-Seymour Christmas in Atlanta

This year we were honored, and delighted, to host the Morlans and Needhams for Christmas. After our magical holiday in London, it felt a bit daunting to be the hosts for such a highly-anticipated occasion, but our guests soon set us at ease and proved that time together is the easy recipe for a merry Christmas.
A few seasonal outings heighten the enjoyment, of course, like the lights at the Botanical Gardens and shopping at the mall.
We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Eve mass in the cathedral, at which Tim and the Cathedral Ensemble sang beautifully.

Mass was followed by the traditional meal, hanging of stockings and placing of Baby Jesus in the manger.
The scene just before the present-opening chaos.
It was a lovely, fun, beautiful time together that reinforced our blessings and reminded me that the gift of family is by far the most precious of all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kindergarten Christmas Celebrations

 It really is the most wonderful time of the year, but probably more so when you're a child. And when you're in Kindergarten, there are several fun celebrations. Take, for example, Grinch Day - an occasion that Laura was suprisingly gung-ho about. It tapped right into her inner 'tude, I guess.
On the sweeter side of things was the annual Advent liturgy, during which the sweet Kindergarten classes sing several songs that they have sung since Clare was that age (and probably much longer than that). They wear their little capes with great pride and channel their inner angels, at least for a bit. A marvelous way to kick off the Christmas break!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Kings' Christmas Party: Ugly Attire Edition

There was debate (via text, of course) about how many years this party has gone on, or at least how many we have attended - but suffice to say, the Kings' annual Christmas party has been a highlight (or occasionally low, depending on how you look at it) of our season for many years. I will be the first to admit that when they added the twist of ugly sweaters/general attire this year, I was less than thrilled. We don't get all that many opportunities to dress up throughout the year, so I tend to look forward to doing so for this soiree. However, not only was it fun to shop for our pieces, it was *really* fun to observe as people rolled into the party! (You can see by Tim's face how he felt about the wardrobe. But come on - sharks in Santa hats? Pretty awesome.)
This also marked the fifth year in a row that I managed to work a photo of Tim into our gift for the white elephant exchange. While it is generally something that only the Kings and Bergstroms are interested in, this year's pillow became hotly contested among several attendees, including someone who has never met any of these men. Fortunately, if not legally according to the rules of the swap, Amy ultimately prevailed.

How awesome are these suits?

A very fun night with a very fun group. Tim can hardly wait to hear what next year's theme is!