Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Our Party of Five Christmas

After an action-packed November, Thanksgiving, and all of the various holiday events surrounding school and social lives, we have fully relished a quiet Christmas with our nuclear family. As Tim and I discussed over one of our leisurely dinners of late, such a holiday is quite rare for us, which is probably why we were able to enjoy it so much. I don’t think any of us would choose it year after year, but as a nice pause in the usual action? Yes.

We stayed with tradition, with evening mass (Tim sang again), our usual dinner of fried shrimp and twice-baked potatoes, and the rituals of stockings and placing Baby Jesus in the manger.

Christmas Day itself was gloriously lazy, with everyone fully enjoying their gifts (ok, Danny’s soccer equipment made for a less-lazy day for him!). The photo I snuck of Laura reading one of her new books might be my favorite image from the day.

Christmas comes with so much anticipation, and we are blessed that it never fails us. A “thrill of hope” indeed.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Delightful Lights

I’ve lost track of exactly how many years it’s been, but once again we ventured to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s annual holiday lights experience with the Francos (this year minus an ailing Isabella, sadly). It never disappoints - even if the majority of our crew was unimpressed with the special glasses that “enhanced” the view. Each year the garden adds more lights, and it’s always breathtaking.

We lucked out, too, as a rainy afternoon face way to a cool but pleasant evening. Laura was instantly smitten by the light-up necklace she saw on others and happily forked over some of her allowance for one. I feared it would quickly break, but she’s turning out to get her money’s worth, as evidenced by her ensemble the following day (complete with bed head):

It was a fun evening that reinforces how we are surrounded by light and love.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Laura the Songbird

Laura’s lovely piano teacher invited her to join a couple of fellow students and play Christmas carols at a nearby nursing home. I wasn’t really sure how Laura would react to this idea, because she does have her try moments. But from the get go she was enthusiastic about it, and was even willing to sing! This came about after she rather spontaneously sang “Silent Night” during one of her lessons, impressing her teacher - and me!

She really did a nice job, and clearly enjoyed herself. Best of all, the residents were clearly very appreciative. A lovely event that I hope becomes an annual tradition.
Here’s the link to her singing: https://vimeo.com/248081968

Saturday, December 16, 2017


One of the highlights of first grade at Christ the King is the nativity play. To Laura’s great joy, she was cast in one of the six coveted angel roles.She was also given a fairly extensive wine, which I am happy to say she knocked out of the park.

This was the third rendition of The First Christmas for our family, and it was every bit as special!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Snow Daze

We were treated to a snowy surprise yesterday, with a significant snowfall that led to a bit of a hectic dismissal from school and work, but overall went much more smoothly than the Snowpocalypse of 2014. 

It truly has been a beautiful sight, and with various activities cancelled, a welcome opportunity to stay home and enjoy the season. Laura and I had fun making making a snowgal, while Danny opted to do what he always does outside: play soccer.

It was also the perfect occasion to decorate the gingerbread house I bought at Costco! 

It's been such a seasonal weekend, it almost feels as though Christmas has already arrived. With one glaring exception: Clare is not with us! She's in Iowa, competing (very well) in a debate tournament. So even though it'll be disappointing to not have snow at Christmas, it will be lovely to have ALL of us here.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

O Twelve-Foot Tree

Given the soaring ceilings in our house, I have been hankering for a *really* tall tree for years. Tim has resisted, fearing a standard tree stand would not be up to the task. This year, though, a lovely tree both tall in stature and slim in width satisfied us both!

We ran our usual playbook of a buffet feast, with chocolate fondue once the tree met our collective satisfaction. It was an all-around solid evening for all, capped off with Clare reading Christmas stories to Laura:

Our tree is tall, and my heart is full.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our Furry Heartbreak

With heavy hearts, we made an unexpected farewell to Quincy yesterday. After five visits to the vet and animal hospital in five days, he passed peacefully overnight. It was a seemingly sudden end to us, but I remain grateful that it ended quietly and at home.

Quincy was the best cat we could have asked for, and truly a member of our family. We are blessed to have had nine years of warm memories with him. I like to think the heavens are relishing his company now.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Halloween 2017

I don't know if it was all the rain the weekend of our mountain trip, or the general busyness of life these days, but we never got around to buying pumpkins this year. And with Halloween falling on a Tuesday, and high school students for whom activities do not halt for this holiday, our plans were a bit haphazard. Yet, the Francos managed to pull off another stellar evening of fellowship - and BBQ!

Since Gabrielle invited a friend to join her this year, Danny (dressed as soccer star Ronaldo) did as well, which expanded our merry band. Laura, the fierce black kitty, fairly graciously conceded to accept Daddy as her partner, fortunately. 

Lastly, Clare and Isabella dressed up as Wonder Woman and Cat Woman, but proceeded to spend the evening doing homework, like the diligent students they are. Never fear, there was *plenty* of candy to go around!

We can't help wondering what next Halloween will look like, as the kids get older. But for now, we'll treasure these sweet gatherings!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Clare's 9th Grade Homecoming

Turns out going to Homecoming in 9th grade is a bigger deal than I originally thought. Whether or not you have a date, you go! Which, upon reflection, is exactly as it should be. Clare joined forces with several other girls and had an absolutely marvelous time!

Starting early in the afternoon, several of them gathered at a friend's house to get ready, do each other's hair, etc. - so fun! Later more joined them for dinner and a picture party.

After the dance itself, Abby's sister Maggie (home for the weekend from college) picked them up and took them to dessert at The Cheesecake Factory, where they happily debriefed each other on their evenings. 

A glowing success from start to finish!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mountain Weekend VII

Our seventh escape to the mountains with the Francos has come and gone in a flash! It feels as though each get-away goes by even more quickly, which I suppose is a measure of how much we enjoy it. 

This year found us back at Trout Trap, as last year's house was already booked. While we prefer last year's house, and its amazing vistas, it was fun to be back directly on the river. Danny, in particular, relished this - and managed to catch an actual trout!

We crammed in quite a bit of outdoors time on Saturday, from hiking (both on and off the trails) to fishing and lunch in downtown Ellijay.

We did this by design, knowing that Tropical Storm Nate was bringing quite a bit of rain our way on Sunday. As in, Danny and Laura were the only ones to venture outdoors that day! Fortunately we had books, board games, a satellite dish and wifi to pass the day pleasantly.
Until next year!

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's All About Laura

Over the near-decade that we have been at Christ the King School, a LOT of things have changed. But one constant in the First Grade curriculum is to start the year off with the "It's All About Me Tee" poster. This glimpse of Clare's is a bit poignant on this, her first full day of high school - but it also shows me that at 14, she's really not so different from her 6-year-old self, which is truly heart-warming. This look at Danny's (and an updated look at fifth-grade Clare) made me chuckle, both because Danny is also pretty consistent but mostly because of my comment about wondering what Laura's project would look like. In the blink of an eye, we found out.

Favorite subjects:
(In other words, not a ton of overlap with her siblings.)

Places I like to go:
(Note the recurrence of places that involve action.)

Things I like to do:
At home: Playdates (preferably with Meghan)
At school: Be with friends
In the community: Play soccer

This is my favorite:
Food: CAKE!
Song: Ways to be Wicked (from Descendants 2; biting my tongue from making comments here...)
Movie: Descendants 2
Book: Isle of the Lost (Which is the first Descendants novel. Herein lies the one flaw with this project - these types of answers easily vary from month to month or even week to week. Oh well!)

In summary, Laura is very much her own person, and her own Seymour - and we like that just fine!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

First Day of 5th and 1st Grades

Incredibly, yet another new school year has rolled around! Laura is off to First Grade with Ms. Bradshaw, while Danny heads into Fifth Grade with Mrs. Nagle. Should be a good one for both!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Laura the Pianist

Laura has been asking about piano lessons for a while. I'm guessing it's a combination of having seen her older siblings attend lessons, as well as her continued attraction to music. Based on our neighbor's glowing recommendation, and the wonderful convenience of the teacher's location (five minutes from the house!), I made an inquiry and secured her a slot for this year. She was thrilled. I would say the first lesson was a great success, too, and hope it's the beginning of a long career!

Monday, August 7, 2017

California Dreamin', Summer 2017

I suspect the days of our lengthy summer travels to visit grandparents are numbered, but for now I happily report on our 14th summertime tour to Fallbrook/San Diego. As usual, it did not disappoint! In fact, if there is any trade-off for managing some teenagers, it's outweighed by the adults' ability to relax and steer the agenda.

Over the course of our 12 days, we did a LOT. This included 5 trips to the beach; a day at Disneyland; a day at the Del Mar horse races; a day in San Diego with Parlin where we visited Old Town and USD; shopping; eating, and time at the Morlan compound. 

I also spent a blissful day with my Uni girls, learning to surf with Terri and then hanging at the spa with everyone.

Quality time with so many quality people. I don't necessarily love summer, but I do relish times and trips like these!