Sunday, December 30, 2012

Its the holiday season

Happy Holidays!!!  We just finished our second Christmas and have one more to go.  Festivities began on Christmas Eve at my parents house.  We had our traditional meal of appetizers and played games.  This year Matt and I had an extra special game for the kids.  They had to solve dozens of clues using only a map and a computer.  Each revealed destinations they would be visiting on a surprise 2 week Europe trip we have planned for spring. 

Christmas Day was spent at home.  The kids were itching to open presents all morning but we opted to wait until my sister & David could join us.  They were visiting David's family on Christmas morning.  By noon Angie & David had arrived, thank goodness.  I don't think the kids could have waited a moment longer.  Sydney was very pleased with her American Girl accessories, new TV and riding boots.  Andrew with his Star Wars DVDs, Legos and Angry Birds.   Both kids were most excited about the IPad Minis from Grandpa Bud & Grandma Fran.

This weekend we traveled to Sandusky to meet up with Matt's mom, Pam & her husband Jim to celebrate Christmas once again.  They live in Florida but Jim was in Sandusky for business.  We enjoyed a lovely weekend together topped off with more presents.  Sydney was over the moon about her new American Girl Doll.  Andrew was equally happy with his Star Wars Angry Bird Set and Pokemon Cards. 

To think we still have another Christmas to go.  Oh my!   I am already embarrassed to answer when people ask what the kids got for Christmas.  Nevertheless, we are very grateful for all the gifts we have received and all the family we have in our lives.  We are looking forward to our final Christmas in Chicago with Matt's dad and sisters. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sir Aspen Lavelle

Today, I lost my friend. Aspen was our first child and join our family as a rambunctious 6 week old puppy.  Ironically, it was exactly 13 years ago today that we picked him up at the breeder.

 Always a retriever, he loved to carry around anything he could find in his mouth; toys, shoes and especially couch throw pillows. We will surely miss his sweet gentle soul.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we decided to once again give back to our community.  Andrew and Matt prepared and delivered meals to needy families in Canton area.  Matt was so proud of how well Andrew did.  He was very humble and kind to all the recipients. 

Sydney and Heather also served meals in a sense :)   They volunteered at Camp YNoah Equestrian Center.  They served meals and tended to over 30 horses, a few donkeys, goats, and a pig.

We followed up a great morning with a delicious meal at Fieldcrest Inn.

On Friday, I took Sydney out for her first Black Friday experience.  We left on Thanksgiving night about 10:30 PM with David & Angie.  I didnt buy a whole lot but we found a few bargains at Walmart & Target.  About 1:30 AM we were standing in a very very long check out line and I Sydney looked like a zombie.  I asked her if it was everything she imagined it would be, she said no. :)  About 2 am we were headed back home and Sydney was fast asleep in the pile of pillows we purchased. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Hurricane Sandy gave us a very cold, wet and windy Trick or Treat this year.   The kids went out of about an hour with their friends before retreating back to the safety of the house.

Andrew who is still embracing the Star Wars phase went as a jedi and Sydney dressed as an equestrian. 
Matt and I also decided to get into the act and threw a Halloween Bash. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Surprise! We're going on a Disney Cruise.

We decided last minute to book a 4 night Disney cruise aboard their brand new ship Disney Dream.  Call it a vacation or "conducting field research".  :)    

To add to the excitement we decided not to tell the kids.  We fooled them into thinking we were tagging along with Matt on a business trip to Florida.  Andrew even begged grandma to stay home with her.  He didn't want to go on any boring business trip.  They were convinced they would be spending long hours in a hotel room.

We flew into Orlando on Saturday night and spent the night in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  The next morning we had a casual breakfast and took the rental car for a leisurely drive around town to see what we could spend our time doing.  We pointed out the convention center, putt putt courses, surf shops, beaches, etc.  At exactly 10:30 AM we came over the bridge towards the pier.  The kids saw the ships and squealed with delight.  But, it was quickly over as they knew we were here on business and soon the ships were behind us out of sight........  But wait!!!!!  Ring ring ring........ We had made prior arrangements for Mickey Mouse to call our cell phone at 10:30 AM telling the kids how Disney Cruise Line was looking forward to welcoming them onboard.  Matt and I pulled out the Minnie & Mickey ears we had hidden away and placed them on our heads.  The car erupted in screams.  :)  I wish I could have caught the moment on tape but they may have figured it out. 

The ship is spectacular! Disney managed to strike a perfect balance between state of the art and timeless elegance.From the gorgeous chandelier in the atrium to the elegant dining rooms and the classic colors used throughout the ship, the impression it leaves is one that is reminiscent of a classic ocean liner. There are countless Disney touches around the ship, but they are understated. The theme of Mickey and friends is whispered quietly throughout the ship but it doesn’t scream Mickey Mouse.

You can’t sail on this ship without acknowledging that Disney is first and foremost and entertainment company. It shows in countless ways on the Dream. This is a big part of what sets Disney apart from competing lines.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I am blown away by the children’s programming on Disney Cruise Lines.  I think its what hands down separates DCL from every other cruise lines.  Sydney & Andrew are 10 and 7 so they were able to access the Oceaneer Club & Lab areas which are accessible to potty trained children between ages 3-10.   There is no age separation between the two clubs; however, I found that younger children stayed within the Oceaneer Club, while older stayed in the Oceaneer Lab. Children are free to roam from Club to Lab at their discretion.

At first, this concerned me as it was different than how the Disney Magic operated. The Oceaneer Club & Lab covers a large amount of space. I couldn’t possibly imagine that the counselors could keep an eye on every child at every second. This is unlike other cruise lines where the kids club is a small enclosed space. However, I know Disney always delivers a product that works and I trusted the system in place to track all the children. It turned out they do have a system, and it’s state of the art. Each child wears a GPS wristband at all times during the length of the cruise. While in the kids club, the wristband can pinpoint the exact location of your child when you go to pick them up. This really gives children the freedom to explore whatever area they choose. There are also ongoing activities with counselors throughout the day if your child wishes to participate. Clearly, the system works because my kids did not want to leave the kids club at any point on our cruise. 

The shows onboard are magnificent and Broadway caliber, you won’t find anything like it on another cruise lines. Entertainment doesn’t stop at the shows. The character interactions are unlike those at Disney World. Andrew played a scavenger game with Stitch.  Seeing all the Disney princesses standing together at one time.  I even passed Minnie in the hallway on morning.  Even the art on the ship gets on to the act. Many of the pictures on board are what they refer to as “interactive art.” what appears to be a regular picture comes to life when you stop to look at it.

Let’s not forget the AquaDuck! This is 765’ water coaster topped the kids list. This water jet powered coaster propellers guests through transparent tubes high above the decks and even cantilevers out over the ocean.
Another highlight of the week was Andrew's lost tooth.  We got a call from the Lab one morning that Andrew had lost a tooth.  When we arrived he was sporting a badge that says I LOST A TOOTH with a picture of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. The youth counselors had told him the tooth fairy doesn't travel out to sea so Tinkerbell handles lost teeth onboard.  Later that evening Andrew spoke with Tinkerbell who assured him she was tight with the tooth fairy and would hook him up.  :)  After much hype the tooth fairy delivered some chocolate coins and $5.00.   Andrew was very pleased.  He was quick to point out that he only received $1.00 for his last big front tooth but this one got $5.00.  It must be Disney magic.  :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sydney's First Jump

After much heartache we decided to switch Sydney to a different riding barn.  She is now at Firestone Equestrian which is based out of Camp YNoah where she went to summer camp.  She is riding with a small group of six girls in the English Trot, Canter, Jump.   I was very proud to see her engaging this new group of girls and speaking up for herself.  She had no trouble expressing to her teacher her strengths and weaknesses.  To my surprise she even took on her very first jump.  Granted it was only about a half foot off the ground but she and her horse successfully cleared it with decent form.  She still has sooo much to learn but the glowing smile on her face the whole way home was priceless. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Disney Vacation

Our Disney homing beacon must have gone off a few months ago calling us back to the mother ship.  :)   Over the Labor Day Holiday we found ourselves back at Disney World for the opening of its newest resort, Art of Animation.  We could not pass up the opportunity to experience the new family suites.   We opted for the Cars building and no detail was left unturned.  It was like walking into film. 

On day one we hit Hollywood Studios.  We raced back towards Star Tours in hopes securing Andrew a spot in the Jedi Training School.  A couple times each day they will offer fifteen younglings the opportunity to train with a Jedi Master and take on Darth Vader.  I didn't give Andrew all the details so he was quite surprised when the storm troopers rushed in.  All in all he did alright taking on the dark side and earned himself a diploma and the title of padawan.  Afterwards he headed straight for the gift shop and built himself a lightsaber. 

Sydney who is quite adventures eater was not so adventurous when it came to the rides.  Although we made her try everything once she was definitely not going to ride twice. 

I had to snap this picture of Andrew, our Pokey Little Puppy.  He is always walking along 10+ feet behind everyone.  Its no wonder we didnt lose him.  And the sun is always in his eyes.   (Inside joke)

All the walking in the sun and high temperatures had us beat by 9:00 PM most nights but we did manage to stay up one night and enjoy the Extra Magic Hours.  Sydney and I took a spin on the teacups at midnight.  I will say my body just can take the spinning like it used to.  :)

As always we had a magical Disney vacation and look forward to next time. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

School In Session

School is back in session!!!!   Mommy is looking forward to a break from all the sibling rivalry.  :)

This school year came with many new changes.  Grades 3-5 were moved out of the Northwood building and over to Greentown, a much older building.  However, for the first time ever, Sydney was excited about school starting.  This was mainly because she was thrilled with her homeroom teacher assignment, Mrs Yocum. 

Andrew remains at the Northwood School building which now houses kindergarten through 2nd grade.  He was assigned a former Greentown teacher, Mrs Tornero.  We don't know much about her yet but the first day seemed to go alright. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Camp

There is nothing online or in the handbook that tells you how to deal with withdrawal from camp. There is plenty of advice on what to do if your child is homesick, but nothing about the child who wants to spend the entire summer at camp. She cried all the way home.

Sydney & her friend MacKenzie spent 6 days at Camp YNoah Ranch Camp.  I knew she would love spending so much time with horses but I was nervous she wouldnt get through the drop off to enjoy it.  Sydney has suffered quite some time with separation anxiety and tends to be more introverted. However, the girl I picked up at camp was not. Camp YNoah really forced her to become more independent and find her voice. I was very pleased by all the compliments I received from the teenagers in her riding group

We don’t often see Sydney so excited about anything. I had a feeling things were going well when we didnt receive any letters home begging us to pick her up.   I arrived at the equestrian center on the final day ready to watch their horse show.   Sydney and her bunkmates were bouncing down the trail.  She was glowing and shared the details of her week in about 5 seconds flat.  :) 

They put on a great show and I was very pleased with how much her riding skills improved in just one week.  She was trotting, posting and cantering like a pro.  :) 

She continues to talk about all the fun activities, good food, Snowy, and her favorite counselor, Justin. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekend Run

Andrew and Sydney both took on running challenges this weekend.   Andrew was the first member of the family to participate in a triathlon.  The North Canton Junion Triathlon took place at Dogwood Park.  His age bracket (5-7 years) completed a ... swim, 1 mile bike and 1 mile run.  As expected our little fish performed well in the swim and made a clean transition to the bike.  I was very pleased to see a smile on his face as he rolled back in for the run.  Reason being, Andrew hates having wet clothes on and that goes for even the tinyest dropplet on his shirt. As you know a triathalon requires running in wet clothes.  :) 

Thankfully, he dried off a bit before the final running leg.  This section posed the biggest challenge for him.  I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to Zach and Trent Napholz for running along with him and all your encouragment. 

Sydney, Grandma Fran, Angie & David spent the weekend in Columbus where they ran the Color Run.  A 5K run where each kilometer of the event is associated with a designated color. 1k is yellow, 2k is blue, 3k is green, 4k is pink, and the 5k finish is a “Color Extravaganza.” As the runners hit the color zone they are blitzed by our volunteers with COLOR. 

Key West Wedding

If you want to escape reality Key West is the place for you.  Angie & David couldn't have picked a better local for their destination wedding.  A wedding party of 50 arrived throughout the week overlapping the big day, Thursday June 28th. 

Just as in years past we stayed at the Truman Annex a serene oasis tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street.   My grandparents called the Florida Keys home for more than a decade. So our family has been traveling to Key West for as long as I can remember.  The invasion of cruiseships has certainly changed the island but I can still appreciate its mellow vibe.  The island is only 2 miles by 4 miles so there is no need for a car; foot, bicycle and moped are the preferred modes of transportation.

The bachelorette party was Tuesday so we partook in one of Key West's must see drag shows.  We were greeted at the door by three enormous ladies who advised Aunt Lyne that she didnt meet the height restriction to enter  (boob height).  For the next two hours I laughed and smiled so hard my face hurt.  The gals, I mean guys of Aqua sure know how to put on a show and no one left unscathed. Our bachelorette was an easy target and Inga dedicated her song "Itty Bitty Titties" to her.    The girls in our group raved about it all week and many returned the last night with husbands in tow.

Thursday was wedding day.  The Key West Trolley delivered guests to a beautiful beach location within Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.  Everyone looked great even in the scorching 95 degree temperatures. Matt, our newly ordained minister performed a great ceremony.  Sydney and I were honored to be Angie's bridesmaids.  And, Andrew read a selection from "I Like You".  A great little book that gives a child's perspective on life and love.

We are still awaiting the professional wedding pictures so I will post those as soon as possible. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Youngling Was Born

This was a banner week for us. Andrew finally agreed to watch Star Wars for the very first time! You see, we have been gently working on him to watch it with us for quite some time.

We exposed him to a few Star Wars books, the Star Tours ride and the Legos, of course.  So, I thought he would be jazzed about watching the movies but no; he turned down our offer time and time again.

But last week, I was telling him about the Jedi Training Center at Walt Disney World.  We will be traveling there later in the summer perhaps he might want to take part?????

A spark!!!!! 

During our weekly visit to the library Andrew made his way to the Star Wars section.  Despite my explanation that the series starts with Episode IV Andrew insisted we start with Episode I.  I was too excited to argue.  Watching Star Wars with your child is rite of passage, isn’t it?  An opportunity to bridge the gap between our generations?   OK…too extreme?  Maybe so … maybe not?

It has been many a year since I last saw it and had forgotten some details.  Nevertheless, Matt and I enjoyed every minute of it; answering his barrage of questions along the way.  So, in three days we have watched three episodes.  Lucky for Andrew he doesn’t have to wait 28 years to see the next one.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sydney's headed to Florida

Sydney started her Florida vacation early this year. She opted to drive down with Grandma & Grandpa a week early. Matt, Andrew and I will join her next week. Until then she is getting the royal treatment. Today Grandma treated her to a manicure and a high tea.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Schools Out For Summer

Schools out for summer!!! It was bitter sweet.  The kids were happy that school was ending but sadden that this will be their last year together.  The school board has decided to restructure the district causing Sydney to move over to Greentown for one year before moving up to the middle school.  She is going to miss seeing all her old teachers and the opportunity to be book buddies & field day partners with the younger grades. With all the teachers & buildings being reorganized learning wrapped up early and packing began.  The kids sure didnt mind the last week of school being filled with fun and exciting events; field day, inflatable day, Jungle Terry, yearbook signing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Angie & David's Send Off Reception

Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Angie & David.  This past weekend we celebrated with a send off reception at Sable Creek Golf Course.  It was a beautiful summer day with 90 degree temps.  The guys enjoyed a golf scramble in the morning while Mom, Lauren and I set up the tented venue overlooking the fairway. 

The food was delicious and the desserts were even better.  :)   Lauren created classy versions of shower games; WedLibs & Keys to a Happy Marriage.  Later on Matt hosted the Not So Newlywed Game, where David's parents took home first place beating out Mom & Dad and the wedding couple.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Soccer Season Again

Sydney decided to sit this soccer season out but Andrew joined up once again.  He is playing in the 1st & 2nd grade league at Diamond Fields. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sydney Turns Double Digits

Sydney was on cloud nine following her 10th birthday party. She hosted seven friends for a horseback riding party at Solid Rock. She has been talking about introducing her friends to "her" horses for weeks now. Grandma & Grandpa made the experience even better by presenting her with a 50 pound bag of carrots. Thanks to John, we wrapped up the evening with an extra suprise ride on her favorite horse, Bubba.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Spring Break 2012

Joined by Grandma Franny & our neighbors, the Napholz's we set sail aboard the Carnival Dream for a 7 night spring break adventure. The kids had a blast, as always, spending their days on the waterslides, putt putt golf, and 24 hour self serve ice cream. Sydney was old enough to sign herself in and out of Camp Carnival so she enjoyed her independence and quickly made friends with a group of girls.

Our favorite port this trip was St Maarten. We took a cab over the Sunset Beach Bar on Maho Beach. This beach is certainly not for someone looking to get a tan or enjoying a good book. The beach is only steps away from the runway of the Caribbean’s 2nd busiest airport. The island’s short runway requires aircraft to make their final approach at minimal altitude. Everything from island hoppers to jumbo jets take off and land within an arm’s reach. Giving beachgoers a thrill and jet blast spa treatment.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday!

Happy 7th birthday Andrew!!! To celebrate being 7 we took Andrew and a few friends bowling & Menche's Frozen Yogurt.

Monday, March 19, 2012


For the past 4 years Andrew has been side by side with his best friend, Claire. She is very smart and as sweet as a Georgia Peach. A perfect pairing. Its quite remarkable how well they can play together dispite the gender difference. I couldnt truely have a family blog without including Claire.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Orchestra Concert

Sydney rocked out Old Macdonald & Twinkle Twinkle on the violin last night at the North Canton Orchestra Concert. She has been playing for 5 months and we are seeing much progress. At the Christmas concert we were playing name that tune!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


After nearly seven years David & Angie are finally engaged. Hooray, another wedding!! David proposed on Christmas Eve and wedding planning went into high gear. They are planning to wed this July in an old family favorite; Key West.

Angie in her traditional creative style found the perfect way to surprise Sydney with the news. A jar full of ring pops along with a note asking her to be a junior bridesmaid. Sydney was elated. She has been dreaming of this moment for years.

Angie, David, Dad and fellow maid of honor Lauren and I hit the road a few days later for a impromptu wedding planning mission. In 5 hours we managed to find both a wedding & reception site. Its shaping up to be a great time!

Congratulations David & Angie!