TRUST me, there will NOT be an encore of this one! Although, I think the training is doing me a world of good physically and even mentally, I might keep up the switching from biking to swimming to running. BUT, after today's venture (into the Gulf for my very first try at swimming the distance without a pool...oh, how I love chlorinated water, *sigh, a side to hold onto for a few seconds to catch my breath, and lines to follow so that I know that I am swimming straight), I am sure that I will be so glad to survive this and will not be excited to do this ever again. I was most frustrated with the onslaught of salt water that accompanied EVERY LITTLE BREATH I tried to take. Just some air without salt water is all I was asking for...is that so much to ask???? Kristin somehow put up with my whining and we managed to finish without drowning or heading out to sea, though I tried multiple times to escape to Texas while backstroking. Kristin has permanently banned me from the backstroke. Thankfully, there were no pictures of any of this training in my camera! To get my confidence back, I went home and got the kids and went to our pool (in our development) and knocked out the 400 meters in about 10 minutes in the pool. No backstroke, crawl or breast stroke needed, all freestyle the entire way (with a few rests against the LOVELY walls of the pool!) AND the pool was crowded with people trying to enjoy the water and escape the heat! The race is one month away, so we can relax soon!
Speaking of relaxing, one evening, the band 10th Ave North was in the area for a concert and put on a quick concert at Siesta Key beach (about 20 min from our house and voted the #2 beach in the nation). After I got off work, and we all ate dinner, we decided we would try to make it. We got there in time for the last 2 songs, my favorites of theirs anyway, and enjoyed these GREAT seats in the back. Anyone see the band?
Her friend Mary Katelyn was also there and just as proud of her medal!
I have had some time also over the past few weeks to get more decorating done. Here is Holden's room with its improvements. I finally got to use the Uppercase Living expressions that I bought almost 2 1/2 years ago. I got them and knew we were likely moving, so never put them up at our house in Iowa and have been dying to get them up here!
Holden's airplanes made a comeback now that we are back to having 4 bedrooms. I was thrilled to find a box that still had a few of the airplane decor pieces. I hadn't remembered saving them. His bedding is for a full or queen size bed, but we are making it work! Its just a duvet cover, and we tucked it in on one side. It just needs a few more things to be complete!
Alayna's room also got some attention. Her canopy is back up after a long absence. She is thrilled with her "princess bed".
She has also acquired a new lamp since the last picture and I painted the lampshade to match and added the trim too:
And I had fun making her a valance...just don't look too closely because I didn't make sure I had the pattern on the fabric straight with the world when I was making it. Oh well, I am not starting over, so I just try not to look at it for very long and it doesn't bother me! You can just barely make out that it has the same trim as the lamp. SO fun! Now that I really look at this picture, the blinds are very crooked, and it makes the fabric look straighter...may have to leave them that way!
Another Uppercase Living expression found its way into the bathroom...which is now known as the land of liberty at our house! As you can see, I didn't put a lot of thought into this when I put it up. We have always had an Americana theme bathroom, and I didn't think a thing of putting the expression on the wall in there. Now its a hoot!
Gabe and Riley's room is back to the Nascar theme from the Iowa house too. Its nice to feel familiar again!
Their stars got put up too.
Alayna's birthday snuck up on us this year. There was total craziness at school as it was winding down, and we were planning our trip to Iowa as well as working full time. Alas, we were able to do some fun things for her. Her request was for a dolphin cake. JoDee helped me by making the cake and all I had to do was frost and decorate it. Good thing, because it may not have happened. I had made her the traditional birthday cupcakes (which she was very disappointed with because they were cream cheese/chocolate chip filled chocolate cupcakes and not blueberry muffins or frosted cupcakes), and I was about baked out!
At least she was happy with her dolphin cake! She shared with everyone after gymnastics and blowing out the candles:
Also, on her birthday, at school, there was a reward trip for the kids who had done well selling cookie dough for a fundraiser in the fall. They all got to go bowling during school! Riley, Holden and Alayna each got to go. Gabe got a week's worth of Civies passes instead (valuable stuff!).
Because we had planned to drive to Iowa starting that day, I had asked for the day off work and couldn't get it back, so I went along to chaperon! It was wild and loud, but the kids were so good! We had 10 lanes worth of K-5th graders!
Thank God for bumpers!
After bowling, I whisked Alayna off for a birthday lunch out with Daddy and Aunt JoJo. Riley and Holden didn't quite see the fairness in that, she after all got to skip school and go bowling on her birthday already! I explained their birthdays would be special too...its hard when you have a summer birthday! I will have to make an extra effort this year!
We went to a tea room in Venice, on the main tourist drag. The food was great and besides the cook, Paul was the only male in there until we were about to leave. It was comical! He was a good sport and enjoyed eating everything we couldn't finish. Alayna surprised us all and passed up all the kids' menu items and chose to have quiche instead...quite grown up! Her desert was a sugar cookie with sprinkles and they put a candle in it for her. She thought she was special! She even shared a bit with each of us.
And, finally we come to our family pictures in Iowa! We had such a great trip and SO enjoyed seeing so many of you and enjoyed staying at the Gee's house (the kids have renamed "The Castle"), all things I didn't manage to get any pictures of. I finally came to my senses and got out my camera when we went to Paul's sister's house and had all the cousins together on Sunday evening. We were celebrating Paul and Alayna's birthdays since they missed out on the celebrations last year and they are only 3 days apart. We lined up all the cousins for a picture last summer when we were there too...I'll have to try to track down that picture. Kayla took over as the tallest this year. And I got to meet my newest niece Chloe (at the very end trying to escape while her mom tries to hold her in her place at the end of the line!), who lives in Nebraska, but was there for the family reunion too. It was great to see all the cousins and see how they have grown. The best thing was that these kids are finally getting old enough to play together and enjoy each other. It was so fun to see them organizing foot races, soccer games and playing together on the swing set. None of them wanted to leave with their parents that night, they wanted to stay and play with each other! Heart warming!
It was a full house with 13 kids running around! It was so much fun though. One that stays in their memories forever I hope.
Chloe was so funny. She was very quiet and so well behaved until it came time for a picture as you can see above, she just wanted to run out of it! She warmed right up to me and grabbed a book and crawled into my lap. I obliged her and read it to her several times. She went and got another. She wanted to take a picture with my camera, but I tricked her and turned it around before she could get away. She was lots of fun. SOOO cute with all her little piggy tails! I found out later that the blanket I made for her when she was born has turned into her lovey. She takes it everywhere and loves to pet it! Hilarious! I agree with her, I love that fabric!
Here is Alayna with her second dolphin cake. Now, the funny thing was that Grammy Sharon didn't know she had specifically requested a dolphin cake! She wanted something "Florida" and this is what they had. It was an ice cream cake (Paul's favorite) and was fabulous! So funny, could have saved my efforts! This one was much more professional!
You might notice some "honorary Prachars" in the picture. We didn't get to visit with our friends the Cihas enough, so they came and met the family and blended right in! Ciha is after all a very Czech name! Our kids became quite close when we were in Iowa since Marcie watched Alayna for me for a while and they were so glad to have some time together. They fit right in with the cousins as you can see!
And the girls were so happy to be together!
Monday night, friends John and Kim Williams hosted a few more of our friends so we could catch up with several people at once. We had such a great time visiting with the Simpsons, Millers, and Widmers! Thanks so much Kim and John for your legendary hospitality! We were thrilled to get to see as many of our friends as we did, but there were more of you we didn't get to spend time with. We will have to double our efforts next time we are in town, or you are always welcome to come to us!
As the whirlwind trip was winding down, we discovered our friends son was just released from the hospital on the day we were heading back home, so we were grateful for some time to spend with them before we went to Moline for our flight home. The McIlraveys have kids very close to all of our kids' ages and also have 3 boys and a girl, and our kids have missed theirs tons. Poor Sterling (2nd oldest) had to have surgery on a hip injury and will spend the majority of the summer in a cast. He has a great attitude about it, very impressive! Oh, the time was too short!
So, we headed to the airport (thanks for the ride Grammy and Papa) only to find our flight delayed due to thunderstorms in Atlanta. We had over 1 1/2 hours in the Atlanta airport, so we were not worried. Then, we were blessed to be bumped to business class due to an "accident" in our row on the previous flight. We didn't ask for any details, we just took our places in the very front row! We didn't get a meal or anything, but we had all the snacks we wanted! Holden and I played cards for the entire trip. Paul sat with Alayna and the big boys were just behind us. Very nifty.
Just after we boarded, they had us get off again, telling us that the Atlanta airport had officially shut down and we would be waiting at least another 30 minutes. Back out to the airport. More card games. It went fast, back to the plane.
We boarded and knew we could still make our connection in time and were not worried. In fact, they reassured us our connections would be behind due to the shut down as well. We were supposed to board our last leg at 11:15 pm and were relieved when we landed at 10:35. We got bored and dozed off a bit when we had to wait for a gate. I started getting worried when we were still sitting still at 11:15, but didn't say anything to the flight attendants because they had reassured us everything would be behind. We finally got into the gate at 11:35 and raced off the plane (leaving behind multiple things including Holden and Alayna's suitcase). There is a lot of pressure in the front row not to hold everyone up! Wow, didn't like that much! We were THRILLED to realize we were just a few steps from our departing gate and ran around the corner to find it already pulled away from the gate. I just stared at it in disbelief. A couple minutes later, it left. Then, the pilot walked up and handed me Holden's mp3 player that we had left behind as well as 4 cards from our deck. They had been found in our seats apparently. Paul then discovered the missing suitcase and sure enough, it was brought to us. We couldn't believe they stranded our entire family! We have never flown together the six of us and when we finally do, we get stranded! AirTran did their best to help us. Paul went and got in line and amongst the choruses of "How are you going to compensate me?"s, and came back with a discounted hotel that was just minutes from the airport, meal vouchers and a credit toward future travel with them. We headed to the tram:
We got to the hotel by 2 am. But we had a quandary. They couldn't book us back to Tampa until 3pm the next day and Alayna had Kindergarten graduation at 1pm. They told us we could try to get on the first flight standby (right, six people are going to get on standby!), or just wait for the 3 pm flight. It was very tempting to just sleep in and not try to hustle back for the graduation. But, Alayna was very distraught about missing it and my heart broke. We went to sleep before we could make a decision. Paul's alarm went off as usual at 6:15 am (I don't think anyone had even turned over yet) and we hit the ground running. We got dressed, brushed teeth and raced down to breakfast. Paul warned us if the bus was there, we would have to get right on it or we would have to miss the first flight because the next bus wasn't for 30 minutes. As we were rounding the corner, the bus was pulling in. They all went straight out and I went and filled my purse with cereal, milk, yogurt, muffins and anything else that looked portable! We got there in time, but shockingly enough, there was not room for us. We talked about splitting up, but that would be really hard on the person who had to come to the airport to pick us up. It didn't really make sense. So, Paul went back to customer service and came back with the best news possible. He had gotten us on a flight to Sarasota and we would be landing at 12:00. JUST enough time to get to the graduation if we hustled. Waaay too much drama for me!
She made it just a few minutes late because we had to swing by the house to change into school clothes. I was mortified when they stopped and asked the teacher's aid to help her get dressed and then resumed. I was glad she only missed one song in their performance. They did an hour long performance recanting all they had learned that year with songs, dances, reciting poetry and counting to 10 in several languages. It was really entertaining!
Then, they each got to walk across the stage and get their diploma from the principal. Her teacher, Mrs. Koch has the microphone and the teacher's aid, Ms. Shipps is on the right. They were each also given a graduation dog for their classmates to sign. Very nice touch. I was very relieved when they called Alayna's name, that the teacher took the time to explain to everyone that we had flight problems and that was why we were late! Why would that bother me??? I don't know!
She made it for the recessional anyway!
And, I am finally wrapping this thing up! Last weekend, we spent 12 hours painting! We got the back and front hallways and the kitchen/living room done! That just leaves the living/dining room left to go. WOW, I will be glad to have it all behind me! We took all the things out of the kitchen and stacked them on the dining room table and moved all the living room furniture to the middle of the room.
Holden and Gabe had a great time writing everyone's initials on the last wall before we painted it.
As you can see, we chose green again for the walls, but had picked out a browner/darker color. The paint store was out of the right base for that color and asked me if a lighter shade would work. I said sure because I just wanted to get some paint while Paul was in the mood to paint!! We got in on the walls and started to laugh because it is just almost imperceptible that it is darker than the paint from our house in Iowa! I had painted a canvas for an Uppercase Living expression with the Iowa wall color so it would travel with me when we moved, so I dragged it out for comparison. See what you think:
One room to go, the end is in site! Now I can start putting things up on the walls more! The kids were great help and have been so patient with all the work to be done around here. They have been to Vacation Bible School all last week and really enjoyed that, I am sure they will be attending all of them around here since that is the time Paul has to get his work done without interruptions! He is still taking on the work of the executive pastor at The Bridge and still absolutely loves it, but has had to move into a volunteer role as the support we bring in is not enough for him to receive a steady pay check. He will take a paycheck only when the support is high enough, otherwise we will do without and live by faith that God is the provider of our every need alone. God has not called Paul to any other work at this time. This is a difficult position for Paul, so please keep him in your prayers. I am grateful for the work that he does, for the impact he is able to make, and for the time he has with the kids this summer. This is precious time that we can't ever get back with them and he is planning to make it as fun for all of them as he can while still attending to his duties. He will be preaching his first sermon in the morning. He is very honored to preach about dads on Father's Day! Pray for that too if you think of it! God is not bound by time, so if you read this after the fact (as most of you will), say a prayer anyway! Please know we love each of you and are encouraged by you daily! Your faith to walk beside us, your friendship to keep up with us via this blog and your love that we feel keeps us going!