Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kauai Part 1

We thought our vacation to celebrate our 20 anniversary together was wonderful, AMAZING and so very memorable. Sure there were things that didn't work out exactly as we had hoped, but overall it was the trip of a lifetime. I took over 1100 pics in Kauai, plus Steve made many short video clips. I also tried to keep a daily journal of the activities/events/moments, but I have to say, it is difficult to express and share how wonderful it was. The one thing I do know is that the visual snip-its from our vacation invoke feelings of bubbly laughter, warmth, relaxation and love for me.
We landed in Kauai in the late afternoon on Saturday, May 14th. The airport in Lihue was basically open air, so the heavy warm air was the first thing we noticed. Then the wonderful smells tickled my senses because there were beautiful flowers everywhere. On the tops of trees, on the shrubs, simply all over! Steve bought me a flower lei while were were waiting for our checked bag (I'll have to explain more later about our LEARNS on how to pack light). Having the lei wrapped around my neck made the flower fragrance almost too overpowering for me. The beauty of the landscape was surreal. It looked like a movie set and we were still at the airport!
I have always been captivated by flowers and I tried to photograph the amazing varieties. It is no surprise that Kauai is called the garden Isle. On the second day, we toured part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens called the McBryde gardens. The curator told us that during the month of May, there are more flowers blooming on Kauai than at any other time. I gave a silent prayer of thanks to God for leading us here for our anniversary vacation because there were so many other locations we were originally trying to go to. My heart literally swells when I look at the intricate beauty of a flower. I had originally told Steve that we didn't have to go to the botanical gardens together, he could just drop me off and do something else. Steve said, "I want to go with you. It makes me happy to see how excited you get about flowers." Really?? Made me fall even more in love with him.
Since were were staying on the south side of the island (Kiahuna Plantation Resort Condominiums in Po'ipu), we were able to take in every sunset. Some sunsets were more spectacular than others because it depended upon the cloud cover. We also were able to experience the full moon and enjoyed the impact of it on the tide. The beach was ever changing and we made a point to walk the beach together every evening. Nothing is more romantic to us than the sound, smell, feel and beauty of walking along the beautiful beach barefoot, listening to the waves crash, while holding hands with each other.

(Tip: If you click on the collage, it will open up larger to enable better viewing of the photos.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Makenzie's a GRADUATE today!

Giving a great big shout-out to Mak, who graduates from Oakes High School today! We are very proud of our niece and so very happy to attend her graduation ceremony this afternoon.

Congratulations on all your academic and athletic accomplishments, Mak! We couldn't be happier for you or prouder. Looking forward to watching you succeed at Jamestown College and cheering you on all the way. Love you much!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fourteen & Fabulous

We wanted to make the day special for Abby when she turned 14 on Friday, May 13th. Since Abby was scheduled to be in a track meet after school that day and her little sister, Kippy, was in a performance of Wizard of Oz that evening, we didn't have much time to devote to celebrating Abby's birthday.
Steve and I decided to surprise her during her lunch hour at Kennedy Secondary school with a balloon bouquet tied to Starbursts and serenaded her. She insisted that she wasn't embarrassed, but her red face told a slightly different story.

That evening we took her out to supper at Cafe 116, where Grandma Rose was able to join us and enjoyed a special red velvet birthday cake made by Aunt Claire after Kippy's Wizard of Oz play.
The cake with cream cheese frosting was decorated with a saxophone and it was delicious.

Can't believe my little girl is a young woman now! {sniff, sniff}
Hope your birthday was as wonderful as YOU, Abby Rose!!

Here is a little clip of her lunch time surprise.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Birthday girl in the house!

In honor of Abby's 14th birthday, here are 14 fun facts about our beautiful birthday girl, Abby Rose!

1) Abby takes super long showers (just like her dad) and sings beautifully while showering.
2) Abby is a big fan of bright colors and would probably pick "rainbow" as her favorite color.
3) Abby loves all kinds of music (except Country - good girl) & plays the saxophone in band & also the piano.
4) Abby has had a cell phone for 5 months and is already a text-aholic, although she doesn't want to admit it, which probably means she won't be recovering any time soon.
5) Abby has no fear of public speaking and loved being the emcee for the talent show in November, participating in speech competitions & being a narrator in the Aladdin Musical this spring.
6) Kids love having Abby as their babysitter. She is patient and easily wins kids over while entertaining them.
7) Abby has the ability to sleep past noon on any available day that she can. Summer should be tons of fun for her!
8) Abby is very slow at getting ready in the morning, but super speedy on the track in the 100 dash.
9) Abby is an awkward speller (gets that from her mom) but a very accomplished writer.
10) Abby is officially the 2nd tallest person in our family since she is now an inch taller than her mom. She also has the same size feet as her mom which means she is always borrowing my shoes!
11) Abby is my fashion consultant and definitely the person to take shopping because she has lots of great advise.
12) Abby is looking forward to summer because she gets to go to Seattle, WA with the FF Marching Band and to the Steubenville High School Youth retreat with the Edge team from OLV.
13) Abby is soon to officially be a Freshman in High School, with just 2 1/2 short weeks of 8th grade to finish up.
14) Abby is a beautiful, fun-lovin', generous, friend, sister, cousin, grand-daughter, niece & daughter. She is a blessing to us all.

We LOVE you, Abby! Have a very hApPy BIrtDaY!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A special Mother's day

My little chicks were so creative with their gifts to me for Mother's day. I am one lucky mom! There are no pics of me with my little chick-lets for Mother's day because we ended up not being picture worthy. Let me explain.... we did look fantastic all dressed up for church, but by the time church was over it was raining very hard, so we scrapped doing a photo shoot. My only request for Mother's day was to have the family help me outside cleaning out the flower beds and putting down mulch. Despite the pouring rain, I was still determined to do some yard work (yes, I have a hard time changing my plans) and the family headed to Fleetfarm with our jackets, rain boots and hats to get the mulch. By the time we got back to the house, we were soaked to the bone, cold and it was still raining hard. I finally relented and said we would have to move on to plan B. Except I didn't really have a plan B.

So, after eating leftovers for lunch, I did some reading and took LONG 2 hour nap which was a perfect plan B. And by 3:00 PM, guess what? The rain had stopped and we were able to spend 3 hours working together outside. I was so happy to have help clearing the dead foliage and discover all of the perennials that were making their appearance. We got most of the mulch put down and I was able to move some perennials that had gotten out of control.

Best of all, my daffodils were putting on a beautiful show for us!

Hurray for flowers!

For supper, Steve grilled some juicy pork loin w/ asparagus. The girls then gave me their amazing creations, but after being out in the rain and working in the yard, I called no pictures because I looked like a rag-a-muffin!

Kippy framed a poem she wrote and illustrated called "I Am." I love that it tells the story about who Angelique is at this moment in time.

She also painted this dry brush flower basket that is just so beautiful.
My Abby Rose wrote this poem that just touched my heart and made me forget all about the teenage attitude we have been experiencing intermittently.

Abby also designed a coupon book filled with 24 Abby Bucks. She said I can use them to ask her to do any type of chore and she would do it without complaint. WOW - these are magic coupons!

And just tonight, I turned in my first coupon to have Abby vacuum out my car. And true to her word, no complaints.

Loved my Mother's day and I love my girls beyond words. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Count down to Kauai = 1 week

Officially beginning to pack. Steve & I are hoping to fit our stuff into one carry-on each and checking one bag with our dive gear. Not sure if we can be as efficient as the Matherns, but at least we have something to aspire towards!
I talked Steve into letting me get a new wide-angle lens for my Nikon today. I am so excited to try my best to capture the beauty of Kauai.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A day with my youngest daughter

Easter Monday (April 25) has traditionally been a no school day; however, the public school had to make up a snow day, so Abby had to go to school. Since Kippy attends private school (Our Lady of Victory) she got to have the day off. Steve had to work, so I decided to take a vacation day and spend it with my youngest daughter.

I told Kippy that Monday was going to be a Mommy/Daughter day and said she would get to pick our activities. She made some wise choices and even let me suggest a few things along the way. Kippy brought her own camera with to document our day, so be prepared because there are a lot of pics in this blog post.

Our first activity: Bike to the library

We enjoyed the beautiful spring day by biking to the library. It was 65 degrees out and our first bike ride of 2011.
Reading is a favorite activity for both of us. Here are our book choices. After selecting books, we stayed and read for a little while until until I suggested another activity.

Activity #2: Go to Somethings Brewing.
We ordered our hot beverages (Caramel steamer for Kippy & Almond Joy Latte for me) and went up into the loft area to enjoy with our books.
After some reading, we decided should go ahead and order lunch.
Taco in a bag for Kippy and
a chicken Caesar for me.

Activity #3: Go for a walk with Bella and the Hubert girls around Lake Alice.
We spied a beautiful crocus peeping out of the ground.
Dani, Madi and Kippy were very busy exploring the newly uncovered areas of Lake Alice due to the partial draining of the lake. Kami was very helpful in doggie sitting so Heather and I could get some much needed visiting in.

Activity #4: Baking banana bread
We use my Grandma Nita's recipe with the addition of some brown sugar sprinkled on top. I turns out perfectly every time.

Activity #6: Poop picking after Bella in the yard. Kippy was not happy about that one because she thought the whole day should just be fun. She insisted NO PICTURES.

Activity #7: Packing up the Easter decor. Another not fun activity with no pics, per Kippy.

And we wrapped up the day with Activity #8: Piano lessons for Kippy and house cleaning/laundry for me.

All in all, were able to do mostly fun activities, and got some necessary work done as well. Best of all was just spending time together and I hope Kippy remembers that part.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

She makes a difference!

Angelique has had a wonderful teacher this past year for 4th grade who has made a difference in her life. Angelique always loved to read, but her teacher this past year has turned a love of reading into a passion for reading. Her teacher is generous with her time as well as having a spectacular ability to ignite the desire to learn in her students.  Kippy ended her 4th grade year with an award for the 2nd highest number of AR reading points for the entire school.  So glad OLV has Mrs. Pawlowski on our staff!  I also love that she let us know about this particular act of kindness that Angelique extended to her on National Teacher's Day otherwise, we wouldn't have known about it at all.  It truly shows how special Mrs. Pawlowski is to Angelique.

E-MAIL from Mrs. Pawlowski on May 3rd:
Hi Renae! I just wanted to let you and Steve know how much I appreciated the thoughtful and creative card Angelique gave me today on National Teacher's Day. (I wasn't even aware of this. Ha!) Your daughter is amazing in so many ways and has been such a pleasure to teach. I wish I could a find a way to keep her in fourth grade, but she is far too talented! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to teach both of your wonderful daughters!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hollywood Nights

Saturday, April 30th was OLV's 2nd annual Steak & Wine Dinner fundraiser and the theme was Hollywood Nights. We were so excited to be able to share our table of 8 with my parents, as well as the Lance & Denise, and David & Kelly. We had so much fun visiting, laughing & talking each other into bidding on things during the live auction.
At one point, my mom grabbed Steve's bidding card and that is how I got my Mother's day present...
a rose a month for a year and a gift certificate to the a local jewelry store. Apparently she didn't think Steve had time to shop. Hahaha!

Mom & dad make a stunning red carpet couple. Don't you just love Mom's gold dress?

Lance & Denise look fabulous as always. Plus they gave us a ton of insider information about our upcoming trip to Kauai, HI since they had just been there 6 months ago. Brac, who just turned 5, had a great time with Kippy & Abby at our house and didn't want to leave on Sunday. He is such a charmer!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of David & Kelly, but if I did, I would have inserted it right here. We had such a great time, that our table bid on next years VIP table for 2012. So, we get to do it all again, but with special VIP status, including a limo ride. We will be large & in charge next year, for sure!

I love to have the opportunity to dress up at least once a year with my sweetheart. Getting to dance with him is a rare treat & bonus!
My fancy hair was compliments of Carla at Attitudes for Hair, because truth be told, I can't fix my own hair AT ALL. As my daughters would say, I have depithia (a.k.a. issues).
It was a great evening, although the low was it was snowing heavily by the time we left at midnight. Boo for snow on May 1st!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A pleasing piano performance

On Friday day night (April 29th) the girls participated in their Spring Recital. It was the 7th recital for Abby and the 3rd for Angelique. And the end of their second year being instructed by Betty Bermel. True to their natures, Abby was relaxed about it and Kippy was nervous and stressed. {I'll let you decide which daughter takes after her dad and which one takes after me.}
In the audience were a few special guests. Grandma Rose & Grandpa Rod were able to come for the event, which I believe is the first recital they have been able to attend where both granddaughters played.
Angelique played two pieces. The first one was Overture by Rossini and the second piece was a memorized piece called Scat Boogie by Bastien. She did a great job. After the performance she confided to us that she had made a mistake in Scat Boogie and said, "I should have done ba-da-ba, but instead I played ba-dom. Never mind, I'll just show you when I get home."

Abby tackled two difficult pieces and played them both with a lot of emotion and dynamics. Tarantella by Beaumont was light and playful, while Fur Elise was both familiar and dramatic.
So proud of both of them and as you can see, so are the grandparents!
Such a fun night listening to all the students perform, enjoying the fruits of all their practice time!
Another special guest was in the audience... Ms Lori Reader, who had driven all the way from Omaha, NE for the performance... well, actually, for the Prom which her daughter was attending... but she got in on listening to the 2 Lindgren girls and 4 Hubert girls play their hearts out. Free entertainment, how great is that?
Since we had neglected to take any pics of the three of us when we were last together in February, I made Abby take pics of us on Friday night. Unfortunately, Abby wasn't happy with how squinty my eyes were and kept saying, "Open up your eyes!" So, we all three gave Abby our best open-eyes. Rather freaking, huh? But I love my PEEPS!