Cate {Four}

­­­­­­­“Though she be but little, she is fierce” “Though she be but little, she is fierce”

cate4Dear Cate,
I thought it might be time to write you a quick letter- to hash some things out.  Someday talking to you might be dicey with the whole teenage thing so hopefully these letters will be something you can hang on to.  You are turning four today.  Four years old and yet as cliché as it sounds it feels more like fourteen- with the sass, emotion, opinions and expressions.  I’ve watched you grow from being in the toddler world in to a little girl that idolizes her daddy, can hold her own with the boys, smiles bigger than ever in a ballet leotard and tights and is so attached to her mommy it is gratifying and terrifying all at once.

You celebrated your birthday for the first time with friends this year…you wanted a party and we tried to deliver.  You declared it, “the best day ever”.  You just want to be big.  To have a connection to your brother and have some attention.  You have blossomed in to an articulate, crazy polite, confident little girl who still makes me question my parenting on a daily basis when you cry.

4 Things I Love About You

  1. I love your deep, pure belly laugh when you’re daddy or I do something funny. You have an innocence when you laugh that reminds me your troubles are oh so small in this world.
  1. I love your intensity. Rarely do I praise this quality that you have because it is impossible to not loathe it when you are negotiating, interrupting or insisting on something.  Any other time, I praise it because I know some day this trait will be the foundation of you doing great things.
  1. I love how truly funny you are… not silly. Witty and funny. You’re humor is on point and funny. And you know that you are funny.  That’s the best part.  You learned this silly game from your daddy that can cut the tension any time.    “Look over there…” and we usually fall for it and look or do it anyways and then you plant the biggest, wettest, kiss on our cheek.   It melts your daddy and I every single time.
  2. I love your sense of adventure and your complete lack of fear.  You will ride any ride.  Climb any slide.  Jump in to any pool.  And you don’t think twice about doing it.  While your brother analyzes everything, you jump in feet first with no hesitation.  Not going to lie, it terrifies us and usually gets you in trouble but I think it’s awesome that you really think you can do anything.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to tell you four things little girl that you   should think about as you get older.  Things I wish I would have listened to my own mama about when she tried telling me when I was younger.

  1. You are you. Don’t ever try to be someone else.  People see right thru it.  Be you.  Be proud of you.  We are and always will be proud of who you are. Don’t ever stop being you- people don’t like you it’s their loss.
  1. Being nice and taking the high road is always the better choice. I’m not proud of it, but there are times that I have been the one saying hurtful things and it never ever made me feel better. Not one time.  Maybe in the moment in did but in the end, I felt worse. Remember that words hurt and are rarely forgotten so think. Think before you speak.
  1. Confidence is a good thing. As my dear friend Kristen tells me constantly, “I’ve never met a strong girl I didn’t like”.  Know what you stand for at your core and never compromise. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.  You can do anything love bug. If you think you can, you will.  Your daddy and I will be there to cheer you or catch you if you fall.
  1. More isn’t always better. For so long, I thought the more friends I had, the better off I was. But, you know what I have learned in the past few years- a couple really great friends is better than 100 okay ones.  Don’t be afraid to cut the dead weight and focus on the ones you love.  Keep your family first.  Defend them, love them, prioritize them and find some true, genuine friends. Trust me.

I love you little girl.  Keep being you… with your messy hair in your face.  Your fifteen blankets over your head in your bed.  Your long legs that go for days.  Your imagination and inclination to make a mess whenever we turn an eye.  With your requests for juice the first words out of your mouth in the morning.  And your big grin with those raised eyebrows when you need to lighten the mood.  That little girl has a piece of my heart.  And I love her “the best and the most”.  Happy Birthday Caterade!

cate41

 

 

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Those Baby Blue Eyes (Or Green)

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I meant to publish this a million times and never did.  Better late than nevery right? 

A few months ago, around the holidays, my mother in law pointed out that she thought Cate had a lazy eye. If I am being totally honest, I didn’t give much thought to it and didn’t really want to.  Then, her daycare teacher who is a mom of five grown boys said something about it.  Again, I heard it but didn’t give it much thought.  Next, the daycare director pointed it out to us.  At that point, I said something to Glenn and we decided we probably need to do something.

So, the next week we were at the pediatrician for ear and sinus infections she looked at Cate and saw the same thing.  Except she didn’t think it was in her left eye.  She insisted she saw it in both eyes.  I saw her radar go up- I feel like I know her really well and while she was calm, it was obvious she had concerns.

So, two Fridays ago we saw a pediatric ophthalmologist.  Here’s the thing. Glenn and I don’t know a damn thing about eyes because we both have 20/20 vision.  We knew that the appointment was serious and would take at least an hour so we both went.

Cate was a trooper.  It was determined that our sweet girl is cross eyed and moderately far sighted.  The good news is there are no tumors which are what our worst case scenario could have been.  The news is that this little girl will now be wearing glasses indefinitely.  We need to monitor her progress at six weeks and then six months.  There is a chance that she can grow out of it.  There is a chance it will get worse and need surgery.  But, all of that considered I can’t get over this.

Why? Because girls are mean.  They are cruel and see their own imperfections and their friends.  They judge each other for things on the outside which I know because I was one of those girls.  And at this age she will be one of two kids in our entire daycare with glasses.  My head asked questions about sports, swimming, contacts and lasik.  I was worried that her life was going to be harder and different out of the gates going in to school.

AN UPDATE ONE YEAR LATER

I never hit publish on this post but I finally did because this is a place for memories and happenings.  One year later our sweet girl is happily wearing glasses. She tells us when we forget them as we get her ready in the morning.  She wants them and has been really great with them. A year ago,  we were living at the eye glasses store have them fixed and adjusted but I am proud to say that we made it a year without a major disaster.  And even better news is that her eyes are getting better.  She could care less that she is the only kid with glasses and it doesn’t faze her. She proudly puts them away at nap time and keeps them on all day.  Kids are intrigued. Some want to try to them and others want her to take them off but if you know Cate, she doesn’t listen to anyone.  Only herself. And I couldn’t imagine her without them now.

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Project 52 Week 2

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Cate {2.5 Years}

Dear Bug,

I was putting you to bed last night when I remembered for the second short moment yesterday that it was your ½ birthday.  You are officially on your way to three which is unbelievable to me.

For some reason, out of nowhere bedtime has become hard and you wake up even more upset.  Milestones may be the reason but last night you just couldn’t settle in. So, I came up and you said “wrock peas for a minute” and I happily sat down with you.  And before I could even settle in the slow, rhythmic motion our glider provides, you had burrowed your hands under your belly against my chest and you were sleeping.  The shallow breaths allowed me to smell you and take you in yet when I placed you in your crib you awoke and said “good night” and I remembered just how big you are getting even though you felt so small in that moment before.  I think it ‘s because I know your sleeping in a crib is the last piece of baby left and I just want to hang on for a bit.

What you lack in physical size you have in personality.  You are bigger than life sweet girl and it is incredible to watch.  Like I said, you are oh so little.  Eating like crazy and gaining nothing. People comment on it and your dad and I just laugh.  Your little bird legs are adorable now but I’m guessing a few years from now they will make your daddy gray quicker than ever.  You are fiesty and fierce.  And you know exactly how to get what you want.  And just a few weeks ago you got glasses.  I guess we should have known since your eyes profusely water at night but we in true fashion, thought it was just you being different, unique as I call it.  But, no, you actually have some real difficulty seeing and so glasses it is for now to help.  I was terrified as your mama- worried that you would be teased, kids would laugh knowing how cruel girls are but everyone including your daddy and your teachers knew you would be great.  And you have been. We put them “night-night” when we sing before bed and “wake them up” in the morning.  And just recently, we convinced you that big girls not only wear glasses but ponytails and those two things might just be the cutest combination ever. And undies. But well, we haven’t tackled that yet.
Bug1

Your vocabulary is incredible and your voice is always heard. I am amazed at your memory.  What I am in awe of the most is your love for your brother.  He sees it as an annoyance, but your daddy and I watch you so frequently and smile at the little girl you are becoming.  Deeply worried about him, always offering and asking to play and conceding to cook with me when he says no.  Keep trying bug.  Keep taking care of him okay Cate? He needs it.  He’s sensitive, shy and passive.  He’s going to need you as much as you want him right now.  He is your gentle in the fury.  And you are his protector.  You are so differnt yet so similar and I think you have already taught him a lot. Your fearlessness is teaching him it’s okay to try and his rule following keeps you aware of what dangers are around.

I love you sweet girl.  I love you so stinkin much.  Stay little big girl.

Bug2

Love,

Mama

 

 

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Cate {18 Months}

Hey Cate,

You’re growing up before our eyes. Seriously, stop it. Stop growing up. Stop it with the sass. Stop it with the snuggles and the kisses that make us fall madly in love with you two seconds after we are exasperated with you.

There is not a meal that you don’t ask for a “bi” asking for what is on our plate. You walk in to the kitchen going to the pantry and say “dat” for anything you see that you can put in your belly.   You eat more than your brother does. You try anything. You want your own plate on your tray.  You want to be a big girl.  Yet, somehow you seem to still give us fits on the growth chart. Weighing in at a small 23 pounds you are in the 20th percentile for weight… barely. Yet, those long legs are already giving your daddy gray hairs. 80thpercentile for height my sweet Cate.    Long and lean, huge blue eyes and long lashes spell trouble for us. 

You are so verbal and so capable of understanding. We ask you if you want to take and bath and you respond with “bubbes”.  Yes, you can have bubbles baby girl. “Pa Pa” you say as you try to pop the bubbles away!

I ask you where your eyes are and you blink. I ask about your teeth and you smile and point. But best of all, when I ask where your nose is, you stick your finger high up in your nostril.  Oh Cate, you are silly! 
You continue to have your share of germs. First RSV, then whooping cough to the latest diagnosis of double ear infection, sinus infection and molluscum contagiosum.  Lovely, really.  You are smart enough to know when we are trying to give you medicine and say no and run away. 

Your fearlessness has given you a fair share of bumps and bruises.  You hoard like your mother. Filling up anything with “stuff” dumping it out and doing it all over again. 

You used to be all daddy all the time but lately it’s me. It’s about mama… to feed you, brush your teeth and put you to sleep. You whine for me. And the whining grates on me after a long day but I know you just need me to love you for a while as your explore the big world. 

At the end of every night, when I lay you in your crib, I tell you “nigh nigh” you say it back to me.   I feel my stomach knot knowing that you are becoming a big girl and the baby in you is all but gone.  Try to stay little and need me a bit longer okay? 

Love,
Mama
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Cate 15 Months

{I started writing this a few days after your fifteen month day and it kept getting pushed to my drafts folder.And here I am over a month late finally publishing this post.}

Dear Cate,

Rarely do I make these letters public for everyone to read because I find myself writing deeply, purposefully and truly to you when you hit these milestones in life.  But, today I wanted to share with the world you and why I love you unconditionally.    
Fifteen months ago you completed our family.  Most people would classify you as a toddler, but I don’t. You are still my baby girl.   Maybe because I know in the depths of my heart you are my last I am trying to hang on to the baby in you just a little bit longer. Or maybe because you are so small and your features are so delicate although your hair and temperament tell a different story. 

Fifteen months later I am on a roller coaster with you either exasperated by your screaming for “ju” or so clearly amazed by your ability to follow simple directions “go get your shoes” or “throw that in the garbage”  that I am speechless.   At some point every day I catch myself staring in awe of how busy you are just doing.  Busy defines you. You never stop moving and always want to be in the middle of everything. The center of attention at all times. 

You are spunky and loud and emotional.  You love completely and hug and kiss with sound and all and your absolute favorite place to be is in your daddy’s or my arms.  You want to be in the mix and close.  You love to read books on your daddy’s lap and there is not a day that you don’t beg me to pick you up and usually I oblige.  You love to be snuggled and you snuggle back.  You let us rock you willing- resting your head on our shoulders and usually dozing to sleep the minute we rock.    

You hang on to toys and do not relent when your brother wants them.  And when he reaches, you scream.  You really let us know.  But, then you usually give it to him reminding your daddy and me just how innocent and sweet you can be.  You love your brother… man do you love him. Usually going up to his feet and saying “ticka ticka” trying to get him to laugh. Most days, he politely tells you he is not interested and to go away please. But those days when he does want to play your day is made.  

You are aggressive and stubborn. You laugh when we tell you no, you smile at us when you get what you want and shake your head yes and no with such emotion it is hard not to laugh.  Sometimes, you remind us you are still so young when we ask “Cate, do you want to jump off a cliff?” and you shake your head with emotion yes and we know that you are still so small and still needing us. 

Your entire life you have done things on your own time. We keep willing you to meet milestones when you are “supposed to” and yet you don’t. At one year no one was worried that you weren’t walking but we were told that if you weren’t by 15 months that was another story and an issue. And in your true form, you walked at 14.5 months. On your own time.   

I look at your daddy when you are being you and I tell him he is your daughter.  But, really Cate, fifteen months later, you are mine. You are me in every way, shape and form and the truth is that maybe that is why I love you fiercely yet you drive me crazy.  You are me.  I am not sure that is a good thing. Heck, it scares the hell out of me if I am being honest.  Meeting my match some would say.  I worry you got the worst of me. The bad things…the stubborn temperament, the need to be busy and the pure emotional way you respond to everything.   

You wore your first dress this month complete with tights. And your brother kept asking how you put them on and why you were wearing them.  And I was lost in my own thoughts seeing leotards and ballet flats, homecoming dresses and wedding dresses. You dressed up and you were beautiful…and you are mine.

And then I think about you and how much I want you to stay young, be little and keep your innocence as long as you can.  And I tell you with raw honesty that you growing up scares the hell out of me because the world little girl has changed so much. So much that some days I don’t think I am equipped to guide you or your brother through it.  The innocence that I grew up with is gone somehow.  We live in a world where technology and violence dominate the news and yet I want you to know none of it.  I want your worries to be my responsibility so that you can be carefree.   Run with your shoes off, try to something new without fear of failure and live.  Just live with innocence, explore with recklessness and le me guide you as you navigate life.

I love you baby girl.  Stay young and innocent a bit longer okay?

Love,
Mama
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Home

I am sitting on the front porch of my parent’s home writing this listening to the faint sound of cars on one of the main streets in their town. There are insects buzzing, leaves rustling but other than that it is pretty quiet at their home, in my hometown. 

Home is a funny word if you think about it. Some people talk about it literally as the place where they dwell, that they drive to at the end of the day or a place to keep things they buy.  Others say it abstractly and define home as if it is synonymous with family.  Me, well I sit somewhere in the middle I guess.

Home is where I can take my shoes off and stay awhile.  Home is where I can be myself not worried about others’ opinions or to do lists that always seem to be a mile long.  Home is just simply that place where I am a mama, wife and daughter. Home is with my family regardless of town and I am happy to be home. 

This girl gives the best hugs and when she does you don’t want to ever let go. 
We are settling in for the week at my parent’s home.  It is not the home that I grew up in, where the memories are deep in the walls, the basketball hoop on the uphill driveway has rust from one to many games of horse and my old room was covered in cork boards with pictures but it is home simply because it’s where my parents live, they welcome us with open arms and that is enough.  Every time I leave my home and to go to their home, this anxiety creeps in my body making me wonder if I am capable of making the trip, doing the majority of the parenting while I am gone and if I should even leave my own home where routines are familiar, there is a second parent and I am completely comfortable. 

Then I get here, I settle in and so do my kids.  We fall back in to routines that are similar to home, paw paw and mimi become their favorite playmates and I remember why I miss this home.  
Life stops or at least slows down dramatically.  And I finally feel like summer vacation has begun.  Maybe it’s escaping the fast pace of the city that wears you on you eventually or the fact that I can hear crickets chirp when I go to bed.  Either way, I am relaxed, reflecting and content at this moment. 

The biggest dilemmas each day surround how we will get to Starbucks, where to swim and eat ice cream and who is going to push Cate or water the flowers. 
My kids sleep better, my mind is more at ease and I am better at reflecting and being grateful for all the things I have instead of what I want.  I miss my husband when I am home remembering why he is my partner but know knowing he deserves a break and that he misses us.  I also appreciate my parents.  I appreciate them as parents knowing they fought the same battles I do- “No do not throw the blocks.  It is nap time. We have read two books and now it is nigh-nigh time.  We do not spit out our food after we jam twenty crackers in our tiny mouth.” And I appreciated them as grandparents.  Seeing them with my kids is fierce reminder why our kids need their grandparents in their lives. 

 They are best buddies. 

We are crossing things off that summer bucket list while we are down here  including the pool, the farm, the splash pad, the museum and fire station,  But we are also just slowing down and I need it. It’s good to be home. 
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Tidbits of Talk {Volume 21}

Tidbits of Talk

Happy Friday Friends! I am back with Tidbits of Talk because it is probably my favorite post of the week and I feel like I have so much to say and haven’t been doing it lately.   We are headed to TWO weddings this weekend and then are essentially off for three weeks of vacation. Lots of pool, beach and other adventure time coming our way so I am sure I will have plenty to share on this blog and pictures overload.

~ I got a message from a college friend on Fb letting me know she reads this little blog and asking my advice about something. For me that was all I need to keep writing for a while. We were friends in college, lost touch, and yet 10 years later I find myself reconnecting with her as we discuss motherhood instead of what bar to start drinking at on a Saturday night.

~I am obsessed with Coke right now. Not Diet Coke. Real sugary coke. From McDonald’s. It is $1.10 with tax.   Someone stop me please. This is going nowhere good. I am staying up later, sleeping worse and the calories and sugar can’t be good for me. I drink very little pop but right now it is my daily obsession.

~I took Brady to the beach on Tuesday. I was trying to figure out how to get sunscreen on my back. I asked him to spray his on me since he knows how to do it and loves to make is spray.  I figured some of it would end up on my back. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Zero. So, I have one bright red back to show for it.

~I have been selling stuff like crazy on Craigslist. I am on a tear right now and my husband is pleased because we are getting rid of things from our house.  I would love to do something fun with the cash but I am thinking it will go to buying Cate’s nanny a nice double stroller if we are in the city or to buy  Brady a strider bike. Any recommendations for a double stroller? Hard to justify $600 when Brady is not totally interested in riding in one daily. 

~I took Brady to Trader Joe’s this week. Weird place. I still just don’t get the obsession some people have about it but he loved being able to push his own cart and put things in it. The employees were great but I am still not sold on the food. I couldn’t find much that I thought my family would eat so I am not sure I can work it in to my groceries.

~One minute my mama tells me my flowers are “too wet” and now I am pretty sure they are dead. The summer heat is making me look incompetent in the gardening arena.  I am terrified to even try to grow basil at this point. What gives? I have never had issues keeping flowers alive like this before.

~Cate is so close to crawling. Watch out everything. I fear for Brady and his toys the most.

~Cate has all these crazy teeth and she is getting more. So many more that must be so painful that she is biting her own wrist leaving bite marks and bruises to show for it. Breaks my mama heart…

Photo: My favorite girl and I.  http://instagr.am/p/MHUfFzhNXv/
~ We spent some unplanned and planned time with one of Brady’s oldest friends and his mama yesterday. It’s weird. She and I are both so busy with our lives, jobs, families etc…yet yesterday I was reminded quickly why I see her as such a good friend, enjoy any time I spend with her and look forward to our kids growing up together.

Photo: My best boy http://instagr.am/p/MJqTD3hNQJ/
Happy weekend! The pride parade is in town here which means traffic jams and people everywhere! See you next week!

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Present- Mother’s Day

I want to remember this weekend. I want to place the stories, the smiles and the small moments somewhere deep inside my long term memory so that when sad, dark times are consuming me I will have this weekend to pull out from my secret hiding place deep in my memory and I will smile. I will remember how good and full I feel and how easy it was.  It was that good of a weekend because I was present.
There is something about a girl and her mama. I am talking about my own mama. Thanks to my husband (with help from his parents) I spent 24 glorious hours with my mama on Michigan Avenue. I have never been away from my kids alone since I had them. I have only spent one night away from Cate and four from Brady.  We shopped ’til we dropped but really when we returned to our hotel room we had very little in the way of purchases. We were cold and wet because that is Chicago in May.  But we conversations that never staled.  I am not sure we ever stopped talking.  We talked about simple things like what to wear to the three wedding Glenn and I have in June to big life things like wills and death, marriage, and life with kids and how much it changes your views. And when the time came for us to part this Sunday morning,  we realized we forgot to talk about things like calendars and wedding dates and vacations.  We ate pizza, drank wine, and fell back in to this easy routine. As I pulled away in a cab, I was lost in my own thoughts about how we became so close and how she is me, my better half and I am her and only hoping to be half the mother she is to me.  And it dawned on me that between the naps and bottles and drool that I have a special little girl and I am her mama, nothing more and nothing less.  And there is not much more you can want. 

And when I did return home, my babies were there with the man I adore.  There is something so raw when you watch the man you love with the children your created together.  He softens when they need him. We did the simple things like eat lunch and change diapers, all the cliché things that you do on Mother’s Day like plant flowers, exchange cards and play outside and some pretty special things.

I wanted to plant in the wagon…that did not go over well.
“I want to hug you.”

“Brady, you want to hug Cate?”

“Yes please. I want to hug Cate.”

“You can hug her anytime you want.”

And as his arms wrapped around her, I was present watching them interact. I watched him kiss her unprompted. Later, as I pushed er stroller, I caught myself imagining the future they have together as brother and sister.  I wonder if they realize that in that one simple moment, I was present and felt so full and yet moments later consumed with hope for what’s to come.

He’s not a baby or toddler any more. He is a a little boy who just loves all three of us like it is his job. 

And as the day wound down we landed in a familiar place…our bed.  Tonight as Brady was being his silly self and Cate was laughing at him while Glenn and I protected heads from taking shots from flying feet and knees, I caught myself as the breeze came in our windows thinking that today I was present.  I was present with my husband and my kids all day.  I never told my kids to wait a minute, the whining didn’t bother me and when I put both kids to bed I watched both of them for an extra minute to remember what they looked like today on a day when I present. Today, I was just a mama. 
A day where I didn’t worry about the teaching assignments I need to confirm for next year or the closets that have not been changed out for summer or that groceries and laundry were left for a day. 

And even as life got more interesting tonight (a secret for later), I found myself just thinking about today and how lucky I feel my mama and I got some much needed girl time and my sweet girl and I did too. Doesn’t hurt that these two guys were around all day either.

So this Mother’s Day weekend may have come to an end but I took some conversations, some looks, moments and pictures to make sure I remember. Happy Tuesday Friends!

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Tidbits of Talk {Volume 16}

Tidbits of Talk

Okay, so another week of me not blogging.  I want to and then I don’t.  I am just trying to be a mama right now and a wife.  Those two things are my priority right now…even if I am not always the best at either.  But, the delicate balance of being something to everyone gets hard.  And at the end of every night I look at my computer and I just don’t even open it because I find myself grading, lesson planning, or trying to get ready for the next day or just not thinking for a few minutes.  Lots of things going on in my head and life but I never get them written for you all to read about. Anyways, I digress…

~Brady officially is 2.5.  I posted about it last week but this weekend we are taking his pictures and I am just so excited because he is at a great age. I got the nicest note from a friend’s mom on facebook about the post I wrote about last week about him 2.5 and I can tell you that this blog is what I want it to be right now. A place for memories, a place to share my thoughts and connect with others who have had an impact on me in my lifetime. 

My first attempt at PicMonkey. Not to bad right? 
~ This little thing above turned 8 months old earlier this week. How did it happen? I don’t honestly know. She tests us daily. I have a huge post coming about her but for now I will tell you that there is nothing cuter than a baby in a romper. God, I love a baby in a romper. You will see her in one every day this summer. And, no I don’t know why her hair is so crazy. I will take any tips on how to do girl hair. 

~ I had a skype date with this lady Sunday night. She humored my unshowered Sunday self and it was so good to chat with her. Whoever says internet friends aren’t real friends are crazy.  No awkwardness, no nerves, just me, her and a cup of tea for both of us.  Just what I needed…

~ The weather is one of two things that continually perplex me about Chicago. It has been as warm as 87 and as cold as 40 this week. Seriously, what the heck?  We have had our heat and A/C on this week.  Even more is that we had these UNBELIEVABLE storms all week.  And again last night. The hail was huge, the wind whipping, and the rain was coming down in sheets. And of course, my car was on the street…so I ran out to move my car in the garage and go soaked. Someone actually told me today that you get less wet if you walk instead of run in the rain. Is that true? 

~ I am thinking that I may attempt to do some planting this weekend. I am itching to get flowers in the ground and to see the pops of color in our yard.

Happy Friday friends! We have pictures, a trip to the zoo, and maybe an art festival and street festival calling us this weekend. Sounds like a perfect May weekend if you ask me. 

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