Running Man

Matt casually went out the other weekend and ran a half marathon. I think he's what you'd call a "runner" now. I got periodic updates on his progress as I sat around leisurely eating breakfast and getting the girls ready for church. It was fun to follow along... he was done before we even made it to church! By the time we got home, he was back, showered, and cooking up a post-race feast of bacon and eggs, none of which I had earned but all of which I gladly partook.

Picking up the race number.

Look at that pace!

Annie made him the medal at the bottom... she made it a first, second and third place medal, just in case. But who are we kidding, Daddy totally won.

Then Matt casually announced he was entering me into the Peachtree Road Race lottery. He gets an automatic in now that he's part of the Atlanta Track Club, but I had to cross my fingers (I didn't) and hope to get a spot (I wasn't holding my asthmatic breath).

Then Friday morning I woke up to this:

Um, yay?
So now I have to learn how to run!

Fun fact: I've actually run the fabled Peachtree Road Race before. It was... difficult. Sweltering. Uphill. Crowded. I was quite nervous, truth be told. I'm not a runner. I really don't like running. Partly because my exercise-induced asthma tends to flair up when I, um, exercise.  But that fated July 4, 2009, Matt and my dad and I took our places on the starting line, despite my distinct lack of training. Matt eventually abandoned us slowpokes, and even my dad edged past me as I huffed and puffed and churned my way along at what amounted to a walk masquerading as a jog. To be fair, I don't begrudge either man for leaving me in the dust. (And to be even more fair, around Mile 5 I realized that something was quite different about this run, the difference being that I was pregnant - whoops!) I will NOT be running pregnant this time.

But I do need to figure out how this whole running thing works again. So I've designated our resident Running Man to be my trainer. He's put me on the run/walk/run method, in hopes of keeping me below my asthma threshold. I headed out today with instructions to run for a minute, walk for a minute, and repeat for 30 minutes total. Somehow every walking period was downhill and every running round hit during an uphill stint, but whatever, I managed to keep it up for all 30 minutes and "closed my circle" as my slightly pretentious but honestly very helpful Apple Watch would say. I think the plan is to eventually run for two minutes for every one of walking, then three running minutes, etc until I can make it a whole 10k.

So after my first successful day of training, I'm going to go eat some Five Guys and feel good about myself. T minus three months to go.


Marching On

My Little Leprechauns! 
We survived St. Patrick's Day around these parts. It's always a weird day... not really our holiday (not being Irish or anything), not really an official "holiday" (what, exactly, are we celebrating?) but always a day full of craziness. I made a big deal at school of telling my kids the leprechaun doesn't get in. We made sure to lock the door every time we left the room, and I tried to keep it as low-key as possible. No pinching here! I did incorporate a little scientific method experiment using static electricity and "leaping leprechauns" but that was about it, until the very end of the day. Finally that sneaky leprechaun got in (under the door? through the vents?) and left a trail of glitter all the way to a gift of magic green pudding. Thank goodness he waited until the last 30 minutes of the day, because things rapidly went downhill after that! Haha! 

Spring... is just around the corner?
After days and weeks and months of what seems like unseasonably warm weather, Old Man Winter made one last attempt, leading to several days of indoor recess (if those aren't words that strike fear and dread into your heart!) we manned up, grabbed our blankets, and headed back to the playground. Oh March, you've flipfloped on us more than any politician in power, but perhaps Spring really is just around the corner? March also brings us the official start of Quarter 4, so hold on to your hats, people, the finish line is in sight!

In a lovely spur of the moment surprise, I scored tickets to The Head and the Heart along with one of my favorite friends. Such a fun show! We watched the sunset from the rooftop of the Tabernacle (didn't even know they had rooftop access) and then enjoyed our perfect balcony seats (as Emily pointed out, we are too old to stand through concerts). It was such a good show. The sound! The energy! It's a little hard to recreate the experience here, but rest assured, it was well worth the mere four hours of sleep I ran off of the next day.

The Head and the Heart

Grey-Out for the Gretos
Finally, our school nurse had the unbelievable tragedy of having her teenage son diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor (this news coming just weeks after she had a new baby. I can't even imagine). We had a fundraiser at the school to support the family, and there is more info here if you are so inclined to help #justisforall.


Happy Birthday Violet!

In what is quickly becoming a new tradition, I didn't manage to get Violet's birthday party scheduled until March! But nonetheless, it happened and it was awesome and I'm getting smart enough to outsource the entire thing. Last year we took a small group out to the movies and ice cream, which was great, but turned out to be rather like chaperoning a field trip. 

This year Violet insisted on a party at our local trampoline park. For one lovely price, all I had to do is show up with a cake. Everything else was taken care of - we had our own party room, our own hostess who served the pizza, cut the cake, cleaned everything up... it was a steal. Instead of goody bags full of cheap crap just begging to be thrown away, I went to Walmart and bought each guest their own giant bouncing ball. Everyone jumped until they were dizzy, gobbled up lunch and cake, and went home happy. Plus it happened to be an absolutely gorgeous day, which means that most people were playing outside and home, and we had the place practically to ourselves (as opposed to rainy days when desperate parents with cranky kids flood the place).

Here's to my seven-year-old. She's reading chapter books now, can tie her shoes, showers instead of taking baths, but still wants to snuggle in bed with me and play with her little sister. She has mastered the cartwheel and handstand in gymnastics, insists on hugging me when we run into each other in the school hallways, and holds Friday night movie night sacred above all other family traditions. It's good to be Violet. It's good to be her mom.

Girl Scouts

Violet has been having a great year in Girl Scouts. I'm glad we elected to keep her in the same Daisy troop even though we changed schools. Our early-start schedule allows us to still make it to the meetings (although it means I sacrifice my Friday afternoons of prepping for the next week). I got "promoted" to assistant troop leader this year, which basically means I lend my moral support to whatever our fabulous troop leader decides to do. She's amazing and I'm just here to watch!

We participated in World Thinking Day a couple weekends ago. There were various countries represented, set up with booths and food samples and interesting facts, all designed and led by older Girl Scouts. Did you know that Scotland's national animal is the unicorn?! Yep, fun fact brought to you by World Thinking Day. The girls had a great time on their tour of the world, tasting food, getting their passports stamped, goofing off with each other.

We also had our first cookie booth this year! The girls rocked it, singing songs about cookies and hawking their wares to the Walmart crowds. Violet did a great job selling cookies this year, more than doubling her total from last year! It helped that I slapped a notice on social media on January 1, the first day cookies are available for purchase. Of course, that means I'm still trying to deliver cookies to everyone that ordered. If you haven't gotten yours yet - I'm so sorry! Just look at it this way - when everyone else has long eaten theirs, you'll still have some and everyone will be jealous!


Oops, January is over

Snow day!

So when I said my word of the year was going to be "intentional" that clearly didn't apply to keeping this place updated regularly, since I've posted all of one time in January and we're already into February. Oh well. Fail. Thing is, I don't actually feel that guilty about it. I guess I'm just not feeling the writing juice these days. But since I had to hope on the laptop to finish something for school before the work week kicks off again, I figured I'd mosey on over to this little space and show you what happened earlier this month.

We had a snow day.

Hahahahaha! The picture above looks fairly legit, but if I zoom out, you quickly see the "snow" is rather paltry. All the promise of the Blizzard of 2017 quickly turned into a rain-freeze scenario that left a crunchy layer of ice over the grass, rather than the fluffy whiteout the entire state was hoping for. Oh well. It was a day to stay home and snuggle in our pajamas.

Just kidding. It's not really snow.

Of course, we don't actually get snow days anymore. Anytime our county closes due to weather, we have an online learning day. We teachers post lessons, the kids have assignments, I even have to hold "office hours" where parents can get in touch with me. We've had an online learning day or two every year since we adopted this new policy, and it gets smoother every time. I had a grand total of one parent email me.
Gus helps out with online learning day.
Other January highlights include... Our country getting a new president and the general sense of unease that has pervaded ever since, me getting to the point of probably needing to get off social media for a while and deciding I should probably only get my news from the BBC from now on, and the sense of disbelief and just about every headline I read these days.

Oh, and I turned 36. And Violet had her first grade school concert, featuring songs about the ocean. That little noodle (top row, third from left) was so cute during rehearsals, but then completely clammed up in front of a cafeteria's worth of parents watching. Sweet thing.

First Grade Concert!
Now we're just waiting for the Superbowl to start, ready to cheer on our Atlanta Falcons! 


Happy New Year!

Hello 2017! 
We had a pretty tame New Year's Eve around here, which given the way 2016 has rapidly gone downhill (barring a significant upturn in December brought on by the holidays and my brother's wedding), seemed just fine with me. We drove in from said wedding around 5:30 on NYE, unpacked the car and our bags and headed over to our neighbor's house for a low-key hang out until midnight. Keeping it simple! Both girls, after being cooped up in the car for six-plus hours, were ready to run around and have some fun but quickly crashed. Violet made it to midnight, barely, and Annie found herself a nice spot on the couch and called it a night.

Traditional family photo.

I was talking with these lovely ladies about the new year. I've decided one of my resolutions will be to start wearing lipstick. Not changing the world over here by any means, but since I've graduated to washing my face everyday and wearing real makeup, I might as well add lipstick as the final touch. I just need to find an expert who can tell me what type/shade/brand of lipstick I need. And how to apply it. And when to wear it. But I can do hard things!

We were also talking about our words for the year. Last year I picked "abide." I wanted to make sure I was abiding in, living in, God's will for my life. I wanted to make sure I was where He wanted me. I wanted to be saturated with His will, His plan. Lo and behold, I followed the call straight over to a new school, a bigger commitment at church, I even agreed to be Violet's Daisy troop co-leader! I can't say I feel saturated, but I certainly feel like I've waded up past my knees.

This year, I'm going with "intentional". I want to be very intentional about how I spend my time, my money, what words I use, my attitude. What is important? What actually needs my "yes"? Intentional, present, aware, all those things. I haven't quite figured out what tools I'm going to need to help me on this journey. Is there a good book out there? Do I need an alarm on my phone to beep my head out of the clouds and back onto the moment at hand? Do you have a word of the year? (The above ladies picked "peace" and "simplify"...)

Let's get this year started!

Sweet girl couldn't make it to midnight, and this mama wasn't far behind her!


The Wedding! Part 2

The bridal par-tay! 
Then it was wedding time! We took so. many. pictures. before the ceremony. (Note to all brides, please take your pictures ahead of time. You can have a romantic "first look" and all that, but for the love of your bridal party, guests, and anyone under the age of six, get those pictures out of the way!) Virginia asked all her bridesmaid to choose a black dress that made them feel beautiful to wear in the wedding, and the boys all wore silly socks under those austere suits of theirs. The pictures will be beautiful but man, was it chilly! The temperature dropped 20 degrees overnight, into the low 50s. We would huddle in our hoodies, then throw everything off to smile for the cameras. Matt surprised me with a cup of coffee when we all reunited at the photo site - it's true love, people. We finally wrapped things up and boarded the trolley back to the church for more pictures, followed by a very special blessing from both fathers, before the guests finally arrived and it was showtime!

My beautiful mother and I, waiting backstage.

Funny story. In the room where we were waiting for go time, we had thoughtfully been provided with a basket of snacks. Annie picked a bag of popcorn and wandered around the room, munching. At this point it was about quarter to five on a no-nap day where she had spent the majority of her time being told to alternately get in the picture and smile or get out of the way. The other flower girl had a total meltdown and I was worried it would set my girls off but neither of them seemed to notice. Annie just kept munching that popcorn. Well, it was finally time to line up for the processional, and still Annie has that darned bag of popcorn! I tried taking it from her, only to have my fingers nearly bitten off. I tried getting her to eat faster. I tried asking if I could eat some for her. Even Virginia tried her best, to no avail. Well, the music started and as I took my turn to march into the church, I had to leave it all in Grandma's hands.

I reached the front of the sanctuary and turned just as the maid and matron of honor are also taking their places. The previously crying flower girl made her way with no tears in sight. Now all that was left was my girls, carrying their signs that read "Uncle Lukas..." and "here comes your bride!" From the foyer I hear a loud and insistent "No! MY popcorn!" I see Lee Anne throw her hands up and send them on their way, Annie clutching her sign in one hand and that bag of popcorn in the other! (Hey, at least the black and white bag color-coordinated!)

The ceremony proceeded without a hitch until there was just one last thing to do. After the pronouncement of husband and wife, the girls were supposed to flip around their signs to now read "Mr. Fortunato" and "Mrs. Fortunato" and follow the bride and groom out of the church. As the final blessing is being given, I glance to the pew where they have been parked with Grandma and Grandpa and Matt's dad points at Annie... totally and completely asleep, Minnie Mouse underwear flashing the world, practically snoring in her exhaustion! But not to fear, Grandpa also motions to Violet, who grins and holds up both signs, one in each hand. Perfectly on cue, she hopped into the aisle just when she was supposed to. We walked out of the church, straight onto the trolley, and hightailed it to the reception. (I did have Matt text his parents to confirm that they would bring Sleeping Beauty to the reception since she missed her trolley ride!) Then we just partied the night away!

Look who I bumped into in the lighthouse!

What a great place for a party!

The view from the top (and the spot of the proposal).

She finally woke up!

Wedding selfie!

You know it's a party when the Chick-fil-a cow shows up!

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