Monday, July 25, 2016

she

She saw me take my first breath, heard my first word, saw my first steps. 

She read me stories, made me giggle and baked my birthday cakes. 
She helped me grow my gift of writing, encouraged my creativity and urged me to color outside the lines.

She fought for me when friends tossed me aside, teachers wrote me off and the world was not kind.

She kissed my boo-boos when I fell down...and later, when boys broke my heart.

She made homemade meals, sewed Halloween costumes and created holidays that were simply magical. 

She drove me to playdates, rehearsals, practices, appointments and sat through countless band and choir concerts, school plays and sports games, always with a smile and encouraging word.
She did all this while creating a business, working full time and traveling the globe.

She helped create my dream wedding... 

Was one of the first to welcome Katherine into this world...

And later, Emily....

Where she is, will always be home to me. 
Today, we celebrate her 70th birthday with the four original Butlers.

A day away from reality where we can just appreciate this woman who has made our lives so beautiful and blessed in countless ways.

Mom, I wish you incredible journeys, picture-perfect moments and the love of your family through it all. Thank you for leading me, for loving me and making me into the mom I am today. My daughters are lucky, because I was so lucky. You were nothing short of heaven sent and I am grateful for every day we have together.  May you always be healthy, may you always be happy and may you always feel my love. Happy Birthday! I love you! ❤️


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

keeping them busy

Even though my girls are jumping into a lake all summer long, there are days that we need something different to do. Sometimes we are back at our house because the girls have camp in the morning or sometimes the weather is blah.

I do try to keep them "media free" for as much as I can. There are plenty of things to do in our house or our town but I knew if I wanted them away from the TV I had to give some guidance.

I found a few printables on Pinterest (I mean, of course!) and I am using them this summer, loosely, as a guide to keep away the "can I watch a show, please? please? please, can I?" by 9:30am.

1. For both girls, I am doing a Summer Food Passport Journal. Click HERE for more info. Basically my kids stink at trying new foods, so I thought this would be a creative way to get them to try new things. Their reaction was not one of overwhelming joy and I should have set up better guidelines like you need to take a bite of something bigger than a speck of dust and try it 3 times to make it count....live and learn. So far they have each tried one new thing, which they, of course, hated.

2. Katherine needs NO incentives to read but I saw this Summer Reading Bingo game and thought it was cute. Because she reads so much, she actually has to fill out the entire page before she gets a prize (kindle book $1.99) and some of the activities require a second person so Emily has been recruited. Click HERE.

3. I searched for premade Summer Bucket Lists and lists with 300+ ideas would pop up. Um, no thank you. But I found this one HERE which was a handful of ideas and place to check them off. I don't think we will do everything on this list but it gave us some fun ideas of stuff I would not have thought of.

4. For those who like to make their own Summer bucket lists from scratch, click HERE.

5. I have so many friends with kids who are obsessed with Legos, so when I stumbled upon this Lego Challenge I knew I had to add it. Click HERE.

Happy Summer!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

sunday seven

Happy July!

1. This is hard to believe, but in the (almost) 43 years of my life here at the lake, I have never watched fireworks from our boat. How is that possible???? For years, the best fireworks were on our side of the lake, but slowly in the last 10 years, that title has shifted over the other side, around the corner. And during that time I have had babies and little children who need to go to bed and bringing a baby monitor to the end of the dock was the best I could do. But this year my dad offered to take us out and my mom graciously offered to stay with a sleeping Emily (too little, too tired) so we could go out with the other kids. iPhone photos can't do justice to the beauty of these fireworks so just take my word for it...unbelievable and unforgettable.
The next morning we were up and dressed in our red, white and blue for the Fourth of July parade!
It was incredibly hot but thanks to firetrucks with water soaker hoses we managed! 
After a few hours of swimming, the big girls went skiing and then we participated in the lake boat parade. Kyleigh was dressed up as the statue of liberty and I called Emily a sparkler, Katherine a firework and Gavin a cannonball (to give them something to be!). We got the lead the parade because, well, no one else wanted to...and it was spectacular! 
This was one of my most favorite 4th of July days ever!

2. The day after the 4th the girls started camp. They were actually really excited about it and it was the only thing that motivated them to get out of bed at the ungodly hour (ha) of 8am. Emily is attending a camp at Parks and Rec which is just fun games, activities and crafts and Katherine is doing an art camp. 

3. As predicted, Katherine finished her summer reading a week after she started. She collected all her prizes and put her name in the raffles. She also earned some fun stuff like bowling passes, ice cream, free happy meal and a local baseball game ticket. Emily is still plugging away but did earn a sticker with her name on it that they had her put on some random wall in the library. Really not sure why. But she thought it was fun.
4. On Friday we had my dear friend Renee and her kiddos come out for a day of fun in the sun, er...clouds.
 UGH. The first three hours of their visit was cool, windy and cloudy...but it didn't stop the kids from having a blast
and they were rewarded with an afternoon of warm sunshine (thank God!!)

5. On Saturday, with the weather totally sucking, we went to a storytime at Barnes and Noble. I am pretty sure that they have storytimes at all Barnes and Noble stores on Saturday mornings so if you live near one, check out the website. A staff member read a book and then the kids got to color afterward. Perfect way to kill some time on a cloudy, cold morning!

6. My nephew Gavin pretty much wins the "best week ever" award. On Friday. my sister and her family went to a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway. Now, going to a Red Sox game is pretty amazing in itself.
The energy, the stadium, the city of Boston...it's all amazing. But they had awesome seats right near the home plate....AND Gavin (who brings his glove to every game he goes to) got a fly ball from Big Papi himself!
I mean, WHAT?! Now technically, the man in front of Gavin got the ball even though Gavin was ready and waiting, but the man did the right thing and gave it to Gavin.

This man, giving Gavin the ball, proved that amongst all the horrible we have seen this week, there is still honest, good, loving people in this world. He could have easily kept that ball but he didn't. So mystery man out there, thank you. Thank you for making the day of a little 6 year old and for putting some good karma out into the world.

Love wins!  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

all about the boys

I could not let MORE time pass by (ugh, I know it's July!) without mentioning the recent celebration of the boys in our lives.

First of all, Father's Day.

There is no one like my dad. Go ahead, try to argue that. You won't win. This man is simply amazing. There is pretty much nothing he can't do (build a house out of matchsticks and gum? Sure!) or wouldn't do for us (drive the kids around on the tube for 30 hours straight without blinking, yup).
I have always had a special connection with my dad and I check myself to make sure I don't take it for granted.

While iPhones get a bad rap for keeping people glued to the screen, it has made it so much easier to keep my dad in the loop of whats going on with me or the kids, send some cute pictures or funny quotes...we text at least once a day and while it should not replace actual conversations, often its hard to connect when he is busy and I am busy and we don't seem to be free at the same time.

We got to spend the afternoon at my parents on Father's Day and spoil him with a few goodies he would never buy on his own (like new sneakers!)

My girls love their Grampy. When he is not making their time at the lake paradise, he is showing them how he fixes something or how something works.  Katherine once called him our "tinkerbell" because "he tinkers and fixes things".

"Grampy will fix it, don't worry" is an over-used phrase in our house! We are very grateful.

Mark knows and understands how important my family is to me and seeing my parents on Mother's Day or Father's Day is a given. He hit the lottery with inlaws and he knows it.

The girls were so excited to show him what they made him for Father's Day. There is really nothing like handmade cards from school....it tops the list of some of our all time favorite gifts!
My girls are mommy-girls. I am sure being home with them all these years and being their everything is why. Mark loves them dearly and is super dad when it comes to pretend play so I give him big props for that. When I am burnt out at the end of the day he happily takes them to the playroom to play some silly game....I can hear the giggles two floors up.

And the littlest boy of our family, Gavin, had a great Father's Day for a totally different reason. He was selected to play on an all-stars team for t-ball and his big game was the evening of Father's Day. He looked so cute out there on the field and was such a hustler! He had great hits and ALWAYS went after the ball. 

The girls were so excited to see him play, they even made him good luck signs!
We were so proud of him for not only making this team but really giving it his all. He has such talent and I can't wait to be sitting in box seats at Fenway watching him one day! 

These three are all incredible in their own ways and so dearly loved by us all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

a million things in June


School is OVER!!!!!!

I can't even explain my joy.

Actually I can...WOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I was pretty sure having to pack one more lunch at 7:30am was going to send me over the deep end.

We need some "no-routine" routine for a while.

Aside from my Friday Five (that posted on Monday, because, well, it did) I last updated life in May, so this is my sad and pathetic attempt to record (and redeem myself) the last few weeks of our crazy lives!

1. Katherine got a special cheering section at one of her last games. Grammy and Grampy came down to watch her and she really had a great game. She was so excited to show them how well she was hitting and fielding. She has really come a long way in three years. AND to top off the night, she received the game ball for an incredible play she made plus her at-bats! YAY!

2. Memorial Day Weekend in these parts has typically been wet, soggy, cloudy, depressing and all around depressing...so be still our hearts when it was not only sunny, but in the 90's! 

The kids spend the entire weekend in the lake- which was WAY toooo cold for anyone over the age of 12 but they had no problem.
3. Katherine lost another tooth. I honestly don't know what number this is? 8? 10? It was just hanging there but wasn't coming out so Mommy gave a little tug and out it came. GAAAAH. The whole teeth falling thing out is a bit much...and Emily still has a whole mouth of them to lose!

4. Emily had her gymnastics show in June to showcase a variety of skills including walking the balance beam (which until today she thought it was a balance BEAN) and floor work including a cartwheel, forward roll, handstand (attempt) and a cute little twirl.


OMG. She was so cute!! And she medaled! (OK everyone who attended all sessions this year got one, but shhhhhh)

5. Katherine had her annual Fun Day for Softball and competed in some activities such as farthest throw and accuracy, as well as hitting. She liked doing that but most of all enjoyed the dunk tank.
They had such an incredible team of girls with equally wonderful parents- we were very lucky this year! As CRAZY as the schedule was, it is one of my favorite activities. Next year, Emily will play and Katherine will progress to Juniors if she wishes- which is competitive play so she is not sure if she is game for that or not.  But it's an entire year away so we're just going to focus on swimming and Popsicles right now.

6. Katherine had two field trips this year that I was not able to go on because I had Emily home with me and had to get her to her 15 preschools etc. Katherine was bummed but I have gone to so many of her events and make every in-school program, so I was still in good graces. One of the moms, who had a daughter in Katherine's class, was amazing and took Katherine under her wing and would text me photo updates throughout the day.
Oh look. My child has a bow and arrow. lovely!
7. Emily's second field trip of the year was to a local park. This sounds like a silly trip but the kids LOVE it. It had a bunch of amazing playscapes and the best part- it's all fenced in! No escapees!

8. Katherine had her field day first this year- I volunteered in the afternoon so I got to be part of her class activities for a while. They had bounce houses and then there were a lot of "games" like pass the ball with toilet plungers and dunk, dunk, splash (instead of goose you dump a small cup of water on the persons head). Say what?! Kinda strange but the kids loved it. 

9. Emily's field day was next and it was pretty much a free-for-all in the preschool play area outside that is fenced in. They had a huge bouncy with a slide and a Caterpillar bouncy, some water games, and then the playground equipment. Emily primarily wanted me to push her on the swings for most of the time which is bizarre since she always goes on the swings but she is learning to pump herself so I think she was trying to score so extra practice time.

10. My niece had her annual dance recital and was once again the most smiley and cutest dancer up there. They made their usual announcement about no photos or videos...but that does not pertain to me at all, I have that "auntie" pass. What? It's a thing. (No?) 

What I love most about watching her is that she just has fun. Even if she misses a step she just keeps smiling and dancing. She truly finds joy in the experience of doing something she loves...and if we all approached life like that, this world would be a better place. 

11. In 3rd grade the students are all given a recorder. If you are not privy to this, do not panic. It's the most brutal instrument ever. I don't even know if you can call it an instrument. The sounds that come out of it are just dreadful- and that's when they are playing it correctly!! But I will have to say, Katherine has come a long way in a year. It started out in the fall as just painful to listen to but now you can actually recognize the songs. 

The purpose of giving them this instrument (from Satan) is to introduce them to music, reading notes, learning how to play something, remembering to bring your instrument to school... Katherine was very good at that except the last part about remembering it (grrrr!) Next year, they can choose to play a real instrument- flute, cello, clarinet, etc. Katherine has chosen the flute, because it is what I played and I am thrilled because not only do I have a flute, but it does not weigh more than she does, so she will be able to actually carry it.

12. Katherine is officially a Junior Girl Scout! I am happy it's something she wants to stick with and I am even happier that I am not a leader. The leaders they have are great and are always up for adventures and nature things...which I am so not. Emily will start Daisies in the fall which Katherine thinks is very cool, until she realizes she will have to share selling cookies with her sister.

13.  Emily had an adorable pre-school graduation from her morning program complete with a graduation cap (handmade) and more songs than you can imagine. 

I did of course tear up as her leaving preschool really starts a new chapter for her, and for me. I have been a stay at home mom for 9 years. But now all my children will no longer be "at home" all day with me...very bittersweet.

14. Katherine celebrated the end of school with a class ice cream party. My rooms moms all brought in items and we took the kids outside to enjoy. 

Her teacher presented me with a beautiful necklace to thank me for all I did for her and the class this year and I will honestly really miss her. She was so kind and sweet and incredible to Katherine. We had so many doctors appointments that meant she came late to school or left early and I am sure it was disruptive but her teacher was always understanding about that which I greatly appreciated...and when we had some issues at the end of the year she took care of it immediately and really was a huge support for Katherine. I am of course very nervous about who she will be with next year for a teacher but I have done what I can do on my end so now we just need to wait and see.

15. Emily also celebrated the end of school with a class ice cream party... 
(and more time on the swings!) 

She has had the same teacher for the last two years of preschool so it will be quite the adjustment to have someone new, though Emily really just goes with the flow with most everything. I have my fingers crossed for who I WANT her to have but just have to hope she gets the right person for her.

16. I am happy to have the school year end. It was wonderful in many ways, challenging in some ways and frustrating at some times...but at the end of the day my girls learned a lot, they grew as students and as people, they were faced with issues and problems and managed to come through it. I know one of my biggest faults as a mom is that I am afraid to let my kids fall. I basically walk around with this safety net 24/7 and really go out of my way to make things OK. I want to fix everything- it's just in my nature. (I completely blame my parents for this quality...I come from a family of fixers!)  I am trying to step back...baby steps, juuuuust in case they need me. It's a work in progress.


Summer is here and we are ready to just "be". Lake time, friends, cousins, ice cream, flip flops...it's going to be phenomenal!

Monday, June 27, 2016

friday five #116

The whoops-forgot-to-post-Monday-version of Friday Five...

1. We visited my inlaws at the beach...
I LOVE the beach and the ocean but I am a not a fan of swimming in it...or really much more than putting my feet in it. All the gunk and seaweed and hermit crabs...blah. I am a lake girl. But it was nice to sit in the sunshine (for about 3 minutes before I was needed to get snacks, build a sandcastle, find missing flip flops, get water bottles, etc)

2. We have also been lakeside (OF COURSE!). There was jumping, jumping and more jumping...

AND thanks to Grampy...Tubing!!! The kids were so excited to tube again. And look who has joined them? 
Emily has gone a few times with Mark but never just with the kids...she is like one of the big kids now! 

3. As if 3 days in the water was not enough, we were also invited to a friends pool for the day. It's so strange to be in 80 degree water (but nice!!) The kids play so great with their friends and we made sure to break for popsicles often. And photos, of course!
We also squeezed in some strawberry picking! 

It was insanely hot in the field with the shade at 0%. But we got some good berries...most of which Emily ate before we got to the car.

4. My scrapbook-bestie and I met up at an ice cream/cupcake place in my town on Wednesday so we could fill our children up with sugar before dinner get everyone to get together and catch up. This place is part candy, part toy, part cupcake heaven and part ice cream store. I mean, you really can't go wrong here. And I am pretty sure I left smelling like chocolate, which is not a bad problem to have. We have a lake date coming up soon so stay tuned for jumping, jumping and more jumping photos soon featuring these four again!

5. Summer Reading!!! This is my most favorite time of year for books because all my favorite authors break out with a new book Right now, my list of books to get for my to-be-read is at 38 books and that is not counting the 10 I already have on my nightstand.

I took the girls to get a pile of books for their own summer reading program through the library. Emily is not "reading" all on her own but recognizes sight words and she will easily flip through the pages and tell the story as she sees it. 

Katherine fills up her bag with no less than 20 books and has them half read by bedtime (or by the time we leave the library)!
The summer program reading for Katherine is almost a joke because she will hit the max before July. It's a good problem to have!

The fact that all this has happened, we have been so busy and it's only JUNE makes me a happy girl!! 

Happy Monday!