Home Makeover

After my dad passed away, my brother and I sold his house “as is.” It was in really bad shape, which made my brother and I very sad because my grandma used to take a lot of pride in her home. Well, the people that bought it flipped it and did an incredible job. It was so nice to see the house with “life” in it again. Here are some before and after shots….

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Happy New Year!

We rang in 2019 with Grandma and Grandpa this year!  We decided if we were going to make our own party, we needed decorations and fun accessories (even for their dog!), so we headed to Party City!

We watched a movie and played Skip-Bo to keep ourselves occupied until midnight:

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And then it was time for the big countdown!

Cheers to a fabulous 2019!

Winter Wonderland

My parents came to town a couple days after Christmas, and we went to the “Winter Wonderland” festival at Circuit of the Americas!  It was pretty cool….  They had an awesome Chinese lantern display…

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There were opportunities to take group photos…

We rode the carousel…

…and at one point the kids decided to get up close and personal with a light display, hanging out on the steps and running around on the lawn:

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We ended the night by giving the kids a chance to ride carnival rides!

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It was cold, but we had a great time!

 

Loss

I was in Las Vegas this weekend, but not for vacation. I found out on August 8th that my biological father died, and I haven’t said anything because it’s a little awkward to talk about. We haven’t had a relationship for a long time so I’ve been experiencing a lot of different emotions. My brother and I are left to deal with all of the logistics and we’re doing the best we can, with the little information we have.

This weekend we were in Vegas to work on cleaning out the house where he lived with my grandparents and uncle until they died. Mom came along, too, which proves (as if anyone actually needed proof) she has the biggest heart of anyone I know. 

We uncovered a lot of memories in that house. We had fun looking through old pictures of us with our dad and grandparents…

…and getting a glimpse into our family history, reading love letter exchanges between my grandparents during the war, seeing our grandparents as a young couple, digging through old newspapers and artifacts….

We also learned more about my dad’s talents.  He used to sell jokes to Joan Rivers!  He was a great poker player and dealer, as well as writer:

We turned the loose change we found into an opportunity to gamble a little one night. (Stress relief, you know.)

I haven’t dealt with a lot of death in my lifetime but one thing I have noticed in my few experiences is that death has a way of bringing people together. My brother and I have talked more in the last month than we have in the past year. And even though the work we did this weekend wasn’t fun, we all managed to laugh together a lot. Because sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.

It was a long and exhausting weekend but I’m so grateful for the family I do have that is always by my side, and I’m glad my dad is finally free of the inner demons he battled his whole life.

Thanks to all for the support. Let’s all honor him by living our best lives every day!

Michigan Vacation!

The kids and I flew to Michigan for our summer vacation this year!  The kids were really excited, especially because we normally drive.

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It was a bit of an adventure flying there, as our original flight was cancelled while we waited at the gate, and we had to book a new flight on a different airline.  We eventually made it, though!

It was a really nice, relaxing vacation.  The kids loved swimming with Kacee in the lake (while I “sunned” lol):

My mom took us to the “Ribbit Exhibit” at Dow Gardens, which sent us on a fun scavenger hunt!

And we helped Grandma with her puzzles.  (We became slightly obsessed, actually, and had to buy her more!)

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At the end of the week, the kids got to stay with Grandma and Grandpa while I drove to Chicago for the weekend!  (See next post!)

Visit from Jeff & Julia!

My “baby” brother Jeff and his wife Julia were in Austin for a few days so Jeff could do a Spartan race.  Because he’s crazy.

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But while he was in town we were able to see a bit of Austin… eating out, going to Graffiti Park and checking out the bats on the Congress Ave. bridge:

I also managed to steal the kids from their dad for a bit Sunday morning so we could hang out.  Of course they had to take their Uncle Jeff and Aunt Julia to a Texas-sized donut at Round Rock Donuts.  Then we walked around downtown Round Rock for a bit and came back to play board games.

It was awesome seeing them again.  It was their first time coming to visit!  So exciting!

London Adventure: New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year! My cousin Jamianne took us to breakfast at Wolseley to start the day.  Apparently there are lots of celebrity sightings there, but we had no such luck. From there we headed to the Tower of London for the Beefeater Tour! Very cool.

Things were crazy around our hotel today because it’s located right across from Trafalgar Square, which is a really popular place for New Year’s Eve partying. Because of this we headed back to do some shopping in the area (Covent Gardens). On the way we swung by Buckingham Palace, which is literally right down the road from our hotel!

While out shopping, we asked someone to take our pic at the cool phone booths here, which I’ve been trying to do all week!

The New Year’s Eve party was a bust but it was great people watching and it was nice to ring in the new year together. We left after the fireworks and are currently enjoying our sandwiches in bed (thanks to Katie for thinking ahead and ordering them to go earlier)!

This is unfortunately the end of our journey, as we head back to the states tomorrow.

Cheers to 2018!

London Adventure: Day 3

We started our day today at Westminster Abbey. We couldn’t take pictures inside but it was spectacular! When we walked up the guide said, “Let me guess… Americans?” We asked how he knew and he said, “I watch a lot of Cops. Whatcha gonna do?” (which sounds way cooler in a British accent). Of course we joined in and sang the rest of the song. Yes… in Westminster Abbey. Because we’re classy like that.

Katie is upholding her local status wherever we go, as today a Londoner asked her if he was on the right platform. Of course out came a resounding, confident, “Yes!” and then I said… “Are you sure?”

After Westminster we met my cousin Jamianne Trerice for lunch at the Victoria and Albert museum, which was great! I hadn’t seen her since I was a kid, and I got to meet 2 of her daughters! Katie and I explored some of the museum, which had some really cool displays. We had some fun in the theatre section and even found some New Year’s Eve hats!

Finally, we ended the day with a BANG. Hamilton.

Omigod…. Hamilton.

Absolutely, unbelievably amazing. We can’t stop talking about it. We laughed, we cried (I ugly cried)…. Katie gave it 5 stars because, “Not once did I think, ‘Is it over yet?’”

God I’m glad she has me to culture her.

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