Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was weird this year. Usually school coordinates a Mother’s Day art project or something, and we couldn’t go anywhere for the kids to try to do something else. Chloe surprised me with a cereal breakfast in bed, and I ordered us cakes and let the kids type in the message for the card. I can explain their names on the card: A substitute once pronounced Chase’s name “Kahsay” when calling roll (made me think of the Key & Peele substitute teacher video!) and Chole is a common misspelling of Chloe’s name (for reasons none of us understand)!

Hoppy Easter!

I had to order all of the Easter treats this year. Sometimes it’s hard to estimate sizes. I ordered 2 bags of candy and didn’t realize I ordered two GINORMOUS bags of candy. Then I decided to get a couple little bags of jelly beans and they apparently didn’t have any left and substituted it for 2 bags of more assorted candy. We have more candy than we know what to do with. Not. Cool.

At any rate, Chase wanted to be in charge of the egg hunt this year and it was awesome. He put a lot of effort into color coding each egg and tying it to different levels of difficulty.

Hoppy Easter!

Spring Break!

The kids and I had different spring break weeks this year, so we decided to take a long weekend away between the two breaks so we could have some fun! We decided to fly to………..

New Orleans!

None of us had ever been so it was fun exploring together for the first time. Right before we left we started hearing more and more about the Coronavirus coming to the U.S. We brought hand sanitizer as a precaution but it wasn’t until we got there we realized the concern was growing bigger and bigger. The New Orleans schools shut down while we were there. We had to work to distance ourselves from people at the hotel as much as we could (especially at breakfast, where we all watched the constantly playing news reports on TV), some things started shutting down, crowds were small, etc.

Nonetheless, we were excited to explore together, as none of us had been before! Our first stop was Mardi Gras World. It was so cool to watch artists work on the floats for the next parade…

…and see some of the float pieces from past parades!

Next we checked out the Audubon Aquarium:

We wandered around Jackson Square, where we tried beignets for the first time (yummmm)….

…and where Chase was asked to help a street performer in front of the St. Louis Cathedral!

We went on a ghost tour through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1:

OMG it was hot.

One of the cool parts of that tour was the walk to and from the cemetery. Such cool buildings (and of course we had to stop for a souvenir)!

We checked out the National World War II Museum, which was amazing! At this point we really started to notice that the virus was becoming more of a big deal. They turned off all the interactive iPads, and we could no longer get the equipment for guided tours. We started using hand sanitizer more often and kept our hands off railings, etc.

My favorite exhibit was the Ghost Army exhibit, where I learned about how theatre played a part in the war! How cool is that?!? I wish I had known that while I was teaching!

And all the old planes “flying” over our heads were pretty unbelievable, too:

And then we got to ride a streetcar! This was at the top of Chloe’s list. And we didn’t pick just any streetcar. We rode the St. Charles Streetcar, the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world (in operation since 1835):

We ended our trip at City Park, which was really quiet. They usually have an amusement park but they closed it due to the virus, so we just explored the rest of the park:

We were able to play mini golf there, but we had to wipe down our balls and clubs when we were done, and contact with the workers was limited. I loved the course, though. It was beautiful and you got some history along the way!

We covered a lot of ground in our few days there!

By the time we left they had closed schools back home and we were extra careful in the airport. Hand sanitizer is now our friend! We are glad we made it back before they really started shutting things down!

Chase’s Birthday Party

We had Chase’s birthday party late this year. With his birthday falling around Christmas break it’s always an awkward time to plan a party. This year he had his party at Austin’s Park N Pizza. The boys pretty much did everything: food, rides, laser tag, mini golf, bumper boats, go carts, arcade games….

Chloe and I had our own fun while the boys ran around!

And of course I had to make his birthday treat! He didn’t want a big cake so I made brownies:

Happy birthday (again) to my TEENAGER!!!! (OMG)

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We are definitely ready for a fresh new year. We had a low-key party at home. Chloe took it upon herself to be the party planner, picking out the decorations, food and activities. She also had to arrange the food herself. Apparently she loves to do this! Who knew?

During the day we played a lot of ping pong. The kids brought paddles and balls from their dad’s house and I got them a net for Christmas.

After dinner it was time to get everyone ready! And I do mean everyone:

We played games (Alexia helped)…

…and watched Star Wars. Before we see the new one I need to get caught up, because sadly I have not seen all of them. This was next on our list:

And of course at midnight we counted down, tossed some streamers and said cheers to a new year!

Every year I do a New Year’s “mantra” versus a list of resolutions. A list of all of my mantras is on the “Christine” tab if you’re interested. This year my mantra is….

Reboot.

I looked up the definition and it said, “to start (something) anew: to refresh (something) by making a new start or creating a new version”. I think that pretty much sums up where I am in my life, and I’m looking forward to creating a new “version” of our family in 2020.

Merry Christmas!

My parents came for Christmas this year, which was awesome. It was nice to have a distraction, especially on Christmas morning, which had the potential to be a little sad. On Christmas Eve we made cookies for Santa, and everyone helped decorate!

After the kids went to bed I had a lot of last-minute wrapping to do, so my mom helped!

When it was all said and done, everyone had overflowing stockings, and the tree was well stocked. Every year the sight of the tree lighting all the gifts in the darkened living room takes my breath away.

The next morning the kids had to find the pickle ornament. I’ve always had a pickle ornament on my tree because it was a gift from someone, but we never really did the whole “find the pickle” tradition. This year the kids told me to make sure I hid it for them to find in the morning, because they used to do that at their dad’s. Apparently I did a good job because they had to bust out the flashlights! Chase found the pickle so he got to play “Santa” and pass out the gifts. (But he eventually let Chloe take over, because he’s sweet like that.)

The kids got what they asked for from Santa. Well, Chloe did. Chase had no idea what he wanted this year so Santa just guessed. Chloe asked for a Fitbit, and Chase got a wifi projector so he could project his games/videos from his phone onto the wall for better viewing.

And of course we couldn’t forget the fur babies! They got new blankets, bones, and toys… and of course I had to dress them up a little, too.

Oh, and the old folks got some stuff too:

The framed artwork was from my brother and his family in Idaho. We knew we were getting a framed something (just by feeling the packages), but had no idea what. We opened them at the same time and my mom and I both started bawling. It is such a meaningful gift to me. I honestly don’t have the right words to describe how it makes me feel. It’s hard having my family so spread apart, especially right now. But my brother flew in when I needed his help with the dogs and such, my mom was begging to come for whatever I needed after Brian died. My parents weren’t planning on coming down for Christmas this year, but those plans quickly changed. Family truly knows no distance. I love them all so much.

My kids got me very thoughtful gifts this year, too, and my parents helped them pull that off. About a week before Christmas Chloe got a little panicked because she said she knew what she wanted to get me but had no idea how she was going to do it because their dad always took them to do that stuff. I told her to text Grandma, and they worked it out from there. Chloe found the item online and sent her the link to order it for her, and then paid her back when she got in town. Then on Christmas Eve my parents took Chase to Target to make sure he had a chance to get me something, too. Chloe got me a set of new cell phone cases (because mine was cracking and she took note of that… how sweet!), and Chase got me a pair of fuzzy slippers with hard soles so I could wear them outside when I take the dogs out in the morning. So thoughtful. I love these kiddos so much, and I am thankful that my mom stepped in to help them get me something I would use and love.

Of course while my parents were in town we had some other adventures as well. We decided to hit up “Christmas Towne” at Old Settlers in Round Rock. There was a carnival set up that Chloe saw one night while we were driving by that she got really excited about, so we went on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately the carnival was closed then and Chloe was super bummed… but it was just kind of “open” so we got sneaky and explored it anyway. (Shhhhhhhh…. We are so bad!) lol

Even though the carnival was closed, we were still able to explore the rest of Christmas Towne:

The adventure actually inspired us to take some pictures there for our New Years card photo shoot with my mom a couple days later. This time there was a worker at the carnival who actually let us get on some of the rides so it wasn’t so illegal.

The photos turned out so nice, but this one has to be my personal favorite. It just says everything:

Man, I’m tired.

My dad wanted to help me with something at the house so I asked him to replace my exterior lights that I have hated with a PASSION since I moved in, and I am so thankful he did that for me. What a difference! Every time I look at them they make me happy. It’s the little things!

And then of course I have photos of us just being goofy. Because that’s who we are:

This holiday was weird. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster… in ways I hadn’t anticipated. It wasn’t like I sat around feeling sad about the kids not having their dad around or anything like that… it was more like I was totally fine until something happened and I lost my cool, and/or broke down and cried. My parents were so understanding. We had some fun, but we had some tears and frustrations. It’s OK, though…. They came because they knew I needed them… not because they thought it would be a party. That’s what family is all about, after all.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Lots of love to you all.

Chloe’s Special Christmas Experience

Chloe’s school counselor chose her (along with 15 other kids) to be a part of their feeder high school (Hendrickson)’s “Adopt a Child” program because “she needed a little sparkle”. Chloe got to fill out a Christmas wish list (which included a skateboard, stuffed puppy dog, and a neck pillow), the high school students fundraised to get gifts, and she got to go on a field trip over there this morning for a special Christmas party. I expected her to come home with a handful of gifts but instead I picked up TWO FULL TRASH BAGS of stuff. She definitely got some sparkle today. Her school counselor has been AMAZING and I am so grateful for her!

Happy 13th Birthday, Chase!

I officially have a teenager, y’all!! We had a busy birthday night. Chloe had a soccer party while Chase had his school Karate (KickStart) belt ceremony. He’s now an orange belt in Karate in addition to his almost-black belt in Tae Kwon Do… so he’s officially my bodyguard. Oh, and his old belt makes a great scarf, doesn’t it? (Chase wasn’t amused.)

After his belt ceremony he needed food so I told him I’d get him whatever he wanted for dinner. That meant Chick-fil-A (a place I refuse to go because I’m way too liberal)! *sigh* The things you’ll do for your kid sometimes lol!

Afterwards we grabbed a cake at Baskin Robbins and met Chloe back at the house for candles and presents!

Happy 13th Birthday to my “little” goofball, who underneath all the crazy has a heart of PURE GOLD.

Brian’s Memorial Service

We went to St. Louis over the weekend for Brian’s memorial service. He died almost two months ago, so it was hard living it all over again… harder than I had anticipated. In no way did I think the experience was going to be fun, but I did not anticipate just how emotional I was going to be. I started crying the moment I entered the building.

His sister, Jen, did a phenomenal job putting the service together. I remember years ago Brian saying he wanted his service to be more of a “party”, and though we were definitely not partying, there were fun, upbeat activities around the room for people to participate in, including a photo booth area of things Brian liked (Clark Kent glasses because he loved Superman, Mizzou tiger ears, and unicorn headbands).

At another station people could write a memory of him on a piece of paper and toss it in a bowl. At the end of the service, Jen pulled a few of them out of the bowl to read aloud. She managed to pull both of my kids’ memories. Chloe’s card read:

“We went to a drive-in this summer and watched a new movie and now I love the movie so much, it is a good memory. Love, Chloe”

As Jen pulled Chase’s out of the bowl he said, “Oh no oh no oh no oh no….” Ready for it? Here goes:

“We were in the car and he kept farting. I can still smell it from here.”

Lol! It was a great tension breaker, for sure!

The kids were also asked to create a memory board to display at the service, which was right up Chloe’s alley. Originally Chase didn’t want to participate at all, but he did end up helping her a little. Side note: Right after she wrote “freinds” she said, “Oh no! I switched the e and the i!” I assured her no one would care. She did a beautiful job:

After the service we all met up for pizza, and Jen surprised Chase with a birthday cake, since his birthday was 2 days later:

The morning of the service I woke up and checked Facebook, only to see this pop up on my memories from exactly 2 years ago:

Obviously as exes we had our differences, but for the majority of our divorced years we had the type of relationship all divorced people wished they could have. I miss that.

We drove to St. Louis instead of flying, since flying would have cost us about $1,000 in airline tickets for the weekend. Driving was the fiscally responsible choice, but after 15 hours in the car Friday I thought to myself, “Oh man…. I have to turn around and do this again 33 hours from now.” Yeah. We should have flown. I was exhausted. We got a hotel with a pool so we’d have a chance to do a little unwinding and of course the kids wanted to hit the water as soon as we got there. They swam, and I just tried to stay awake:

You know, loss has a way of bringing people together. When I lost my dad last year it brought my brother and I back together. This loss has brought Brian’s family back into my life and I am so grateful for that. I look forward to keeping that connection through the years, for the kids’ sake… and for mine.