Armed and Ready

Well it is here…Graduation Day! We are house full with family and hearts full with love and appreciation for all of the support and love that has surrounded our family through the boyz first 18 years. We are full of excitement for all that is to come for them.

But let’s get down to basics here…when thinking about graduation, I knew I needed one thing…

 

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Note the words highlighted in blue ;)….I am not one for much makeup (save for my high school eye shadow days -eek!)…I pretty much only wear mascara and clear lip gloss type stuff.  But the mascara I had recently kept smudging if I rubbed my eyes at all so I knew I would need to make this investment before the big day.  😉

 

Tears just may be a part of the day…but they will be tears of joy, of nostagia, of love and of appreciation. They will be tears that feed the love.

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne

Compression Shorts

Who would think one could obsess about this men’s sport underwear as much as I have in the past week.  With 3 boyz, we have bought many pairs of compression shorts through the years, and I have never thought twice about what we were buying. If they were compression shorts and a good price, we were all set. Well the one thing we have been told Seamus will need at the Naval Academy is compression shorts as they do not provide as many as he will need.  You would think I was trying to find him the perfect wife with how I went about searching for compression shorts.

What do I get …there are climalite, climacool, microfiber performance, sport underwear, blah blah blah….Suddenly this simple task became overwhelming. Add to that mixed reports about the colors and lengths that plebes are allowed to wear – white?blue?black?…they cannot go below their shorts? (3 inch)  they can go below the shorts? (6 inch) Yikes. So this led to  quite a post on FB, started by my, what I thought to be simple, question about compression shorts.

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In the end, we were shopping at Dick’s Sports for  yard games for the graduation party and Seamus found these – a quick glance and great price – just as we always have done in past when buying compression shorts- little thought and the purchase was just fine. Required no research believe it or not 😉

When the post went on and on, it begged the question as to why we – or maybe just I, was obsessing about underwear. Two thoughts emerged…

1- Seamus will be allowed to bring one small bag with him to Induction Day and likely most of the contents of said bag will be taken away and locked in storage or sent back home with us. Having a child about to embark on the hardest thing they have ever done as well as leaving home for the first time in a more permanent way, causes a mom to feel the need to make any small comfort he is allowed, just perfect. So compression shorts were not just compression shorts ….they are the only thing I can send him with that is from home, and given the amount of physical activity and heat he will be enduring, comfort and durability is key.

2-The second and more significant reason I am sure that we/I was obsessing…is because it is much easier to think about underwear and strain my brain online in search of the perfect kind…than it is to think about the elephant in the room…the fact that my ‘baby’ is about to leave home and with that, his life, and our lives, will change in indescribable ways I am sure.  The mix of sadness, grief, joy, excitement and hope is overwhelming at times and underwear brings me down to earth in a very simple, grounding way.

I guess you could say…compression shorts fed the love for me 😉

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Last Day and Rugby Banquet

Monday was the last day of school…it sounds so cliche – but truly…how can it be that these little guys are now ready to go off on their own?

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September 2003..first day of Cheerful Crickets 🙂

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June 2018…last day at JCS 

It was a fairly anti-climatic day…they came home saying it did not feel like the last day…nothing celebratory…no free feeling…like it did not feel real in some ways.

But I cannot speak to the last day of school without addressing that which has been a chore much of the time but I will miss now that it is over….Lunch making duty!!!

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Simple notes in their lunch on any type of special day

Lunch making is fairly simple…so why do we abhor it so much? Of course with different appetites and tastes, it is not so simple as slapping together 4 PB&J sandwiches (actually my guys never ate PB&J!)..and in all of the time they were in school full days…13 years…they ate school lunch once.  It was in 4th grade I believe when their class planned the lunch for the cafeteria – veggie lasagna because my guys were always vegetarian – though none of them liked lasagna! So suffice it to say that in the last 13 years I have made 91,260 lunches for the boyz (not including Steve or myself) give or take for a sick day or two…yikes – that is a lot of lunches!

The start and end of the process

Lunches always included carrots too – until this year when they kept coming back uneaten..I started only putting them in here and there. I used to go to Fresh Market and load up on carrots – loved their organic ones and they are a great price – and the cashier would question if I had rabbits at home 😉

Baked goods became a staple in lunches when the boyz hit high school and needed more food midday…it was a way to fill them up and less expensive than buying bars. Plus I could make things with ingredients I felt good about giving them daily. I will miss baking for them so will need to send lots of care packages 🙂

Ready to go

Despite no celebratory feel on the last day during school, there was a celebratory feel that night at the end of season rugby banquet. This has been a great group for us to become involved with. Brendan started off playing in the Fall of 2016..Seamus and Casey played some in the Spring of 2017 and more last summer. Seamus bowed out this Spring to work on his own fitness for USNA and avoid potential injury- though he was still on the roster and was water and tee boy :)… while Brendan and Casey stayed in it and truly loved it. They always come home enthusiastic and laughing about their interactions with teammates and have loved getting to know each of these kids who are new to them since most are from other schools.

 

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The Foothills Rangers Rugby Team

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An incredible coaching team

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Coach Claudia and her son Reid – adorable!

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Fellow moms 🙂

Brendan was honored with an award for best forward of the year. We all laughed at the height differential here 😉

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Coach Alex in the middle

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The award winners

We were a little disappointed that Casey did not receive any honor as the highest scorer on the team He is their kicker and did very well which was exciting for him given that he was so new to the sport.  But these kids all deserve kudos for a job incredibly well done !

This team is made up greatly of seniors as you can see here….they will need to do some major recruiting for next year…

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Senior Rangers (along with Coach Claudia’s daughter…the spitting image of her!)

And we could not have an end of the year party without their signature Thingy ma jig (as Brendan instructed me to call it…cannot be called a Haka as that is New Zealand’s tradition..but it sounds a bit the same)

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The boyz will have a low key summer 7s season and then be off to play in college….

Rugby has definitely fed the love for Brendan and Casey…

 

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Honors Night, Senior Prank and Steve’s 49th!

Well it is that time of year…lots happening and even more so with senior year….Last Wednesday was Honors Night and Mr Devries, Seamus’ Blue and Gold officer presented Seamus with his appointment and spoke about the process of applying to the Naval Academy. We truly appreciated him driving up to spend this time for Seamus and agreed with his comments that it takes lots of support of teachers, family, and community, in addition to dedication to academics and athletics, to be successful in your application.

 

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The boyz all received some awards but my camera angle was not great…so just posting this one because it cracks me up how Steve now has to look up to Brendan!

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Brendan enjoys looking down on his Pop too 😉

Gran, Granddad and Gram always come up for Honors Night. Sadly Gran had to go to the hospital after they arrived at their friend’s house on their way up. She had pneumonia and was absolutely not in shape to be discharged, much less come to the event.  We are glad she is back home safe and feeling a bit better.

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Capturing a nice photo op -maybe we should have split up the colors a bit! 🙂

After honors  night there was much commotion in our house. The boyz had planned a senior prank a few months ago…they asked a couple of friends who they could trust to keep it top secret, to join them. Then Steve came home from school 2 weeks ago with a note about a security meeting they are going to have at school, about how they will be tightening security in response to so much school violence in our nation. Very sad and a whole other post.  So their innocent prank suddenly became something they may get in trouble for…so they went to the superintendent and asked for his support on this and he agreed – as did the principle! Yay!

This prank…or ‘Senior Remembrance’ as it has been called…has a story behind it. When we were in India, one of the other teachers, became  close with Ajay, our exchange teacher who lived in our house while we were over in his city of Ahmedabad. We returned to our house to find photos of Ajay all over – under the toilet seat lid, in cabinets, covering our family photos….we kept discovering these for months.  So this prompted the idea for the boyz senior prank.

They had a photo of their senior class printed -1400 of them! – in 3/5 size and then had large 10×14 or so photos of each individual student printed as well.  Then they took their teacher, Mr Ordway (who had done the Ajay pics) and had life size photos of his face and made masks out of them. They made signs to put up all over the school, hid the small pics in every classroom and all over…and put ‘Remember ’18’ up in the front school windows with each students photo underneath.

working diligently on the signs

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All dressed up as Mr Ordway 🙂

The Mr Ordway piece was even more clever because he is Dean of Discipline as well as Science teacher so he is the one reviewing the security cameras but will only see himself running thru the school posting things! 😉

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The crew

I loved this prank because it was personal in the history of it…it included all of their classmates in the photos…it was well meaning with no destruction of property or negativity to it…and it was full of school spirit.  The response from the faculty and students was enthusiastic and they are keeping the front signs up through graduation.

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Remember ’18 project…

Saturday was Steve’s birthday…and true to being a parent…it was not about him. Brendan had a rugby practice several hours away (thankfully got a ride from another parent), Casey stayed home to work on finals (ha – not sure how much ‘work’ was happening!), and Steve Seamus and I went to an ‘All Academies Picnic’. This was for all of the students entering services academies this summer –  several alumni were there and some of our local representatives. It was a nice chance for the kids to be together and for us to build some local support.

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Mr Witte (local mentor for USNA plebes to be), Conners, Jake and Seamus

We were sitting at a table when an  old friend from college came up to us…she graduated from LeMoyne with Steve and we have not seen her since then – 27 years!!! Her daughter is going  to West Point – her husband is a graduate and her son is also there now. It was great to catch up and to have some Army/Navy busting going on!

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DiNallos and Tombs

We were all beat by the time we got home (picked Brendan up on way back from picnic, errands and such)…had low key throw together dinner and reheated some Noonmark blackberry crumb pie for pop 🙂

 

 

Sunday Smitty came back up to help finish painting – THANK YOU AGAIN!!! We had a birthday celebration after they worked and Pete came over again – without Ellen as she was with family in Boston.

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Teaching Brendan how to grill since he will be cooking for himself next year.

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Grilling and trying to do pull ups 😉

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A lopsided but still tasty PB/chocolate ice cream cake

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Thanks for making a fun birthday celebration Pete and Smitty

 

 

 

 

Illusions

Have you seen the optical illusions that are photos which you may see as 2 very different images depending upon how you look at it? The vase or 2 faces…the bunny or the duck…you get the idea. Well I recently heard someone use this analogy (sorry but I cannot remember who – it was on a podcast) for our lives.  This morning, as I was having a little obsession session about the things I wish I did differently as a mom, I talked with Steve about my sadness and regret. In his usual positive manner, he told me all the reasons he thinks differently  – the things we did well, that we definitely made mistakes but overall the boyz seem to be thriving, happy, respectful young adults.

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Sometimes I just want to be able to go back to these days and start over so I can skip all the mistakes I made….but I realize I would just make other ones instead:(

I will admit, part of me wanted to yell – “but you don’t get I see so clearly how I screwed up…it is so clear that at times they needed one thing and I gave them another…that I should have done_____, that I should not have done______’…that is the curse of being hyperaware of psychology and the human spirit. This analogy then came back to me though and helped me to hear what Steve was saying with a more open heart.

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A reminder that the boyz were happy and generally had a good childhood 🙂

The idea is that both images are always there and we get to choose what we want to look at and focus on. It seems so simple, but often analogies and metaphors can help us shift more than words along because they use both words and images. So I recognized that while the mistakes are there and are real, so are the positive things I did as a mom. I can look at the mistakes so that I can choose a different way in the future, and then focus on the positive which will help me create more of that – since we create what we put our attention to.  I guess it helped to know I do not need to prove that yes, I indeed did screw up.  It is just there…but it is also OK.

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Oh how I will miss these guys…

So I will allow the grief when it comes…but then let it slide and look at the picture of the boyz childhood thru that other perspective. The one that sees the brightness…..the one that feeds the love.

 

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Party Prep Progress!

Seamus, Brendan and Casey started planning their graduation party 2 years ago when we were on our way home from a friend’s graduation party in Albany.  It was then that they came up with ‘Tombfest’ and the idea has grown from there. We are not sure how many people will be here but there will be lots of family staying with us and we have a LOT to do before we are ready for June 23rd!

This was our only full weekend home in a long time and before graduation so we took the opportunity to get started on some house projects. Steve’s oldest and best friend, Smitty, was SO generous to give up his weekend for us. Thank you to his wife Laura and his girls, Raegan and Kierra who gave the A-OK as well 🙂

 

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Smitty came up to paint – he is a pro- but we put him to work on a few other things first…he is an amazing worker!

Steve and Smitty had a painting company during college summers. It was a lucrative business but they have each gone a different way with it. Steve seems to detest painting now while Smitty is so good at it and has lots of painting jobs over the summer since he is a teacher. I am beyond grateful for all he did.  Smitty is an incredibly hard worker – does not take a break all day – just drinks water all day and says if he sits down, he would not get back up so he is better off not breaking! I felt so bad though!

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Steve and boyz did tons of yard work

We had these stones lining our gardens – they worked for a few years but it has been about 13 years now and the grass is growing in between them, getting into the gardens making for tons of weeding -yuck!  They pulled all the stones, edged the gardens with a spade, and  pulled up the patio as that is all uneven now (made of flagstones).

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Casey gets on the job helping Smitty paint..Smitty is entertaining and hysterically funny so it is not a bad gig for Casey 🙂

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Hmmm- this door is on back of garage…we need to remember to paint that!

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The shed needs some major TLC….Steve tries to give it a boost as it has become a little off kilter

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Finally sitting and eating dinner….Pete joins us too

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Bear and Gram …Gram came up to watch all the goings on…she loves to see home improvement!

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Casey and Senior (Pete is the boyz Spanish teacher)

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Gram and Seamus

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Day 2- Painting the shed

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And each other!

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Since losing her mom, Drew is sticking close by us

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Went to get flowers with my mom and she bought me 2 hanging baskets :)…I usually buy the flowers and pot them myself so this felt SO easy! Thanks Mom!

DSC_7216Finally done for the day…after some leftovers and a beer, Smitty got to head home to his family

 

I so appreciate all the hard work that went into the weekend to get things moving on the house. We still have lots more to do but it feels great to be going in the right direction! Have to keep up the momentum for the next few weeks.

Making progress definitely feeds the love!

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Lily Girl

We lost a part of our family on Thursday. Lily was 12 years old and has had cancer for a few months. We had the tumor removed initially and she did quite well, but several months later it returned with a vengence and there was nothing that could be done except to give her prednisone which made it shrink and benadryl helped her feel more comfortable. She began losing weight rapidly and slowly lost her ability to stand. She was happy, ate and wagged her tail until the last day. Thursday she was noticeably worse and could not move at all.  We were blessed in that we were all able to say goodbye to her and she died very peacefully here at home.

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Lily and Sampson bond…he was a trooper!

 

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Lovin up their pup

When Lily was 2 we bred her with another local Yellow Lab. Oh my that was interesting. Sandy, the sire’s owner, and I did not really know what we were doing. They did their thing and he stayed in her – we were so confused and since he was a lot bigger than Lily, we thought maybe he was stuck. Sandy sprayed the hose on them – the boyz were asking what was happening. They got a precursor lesson in reproduction at 8.  We later found out that this is how it works – the male stays inside the female for a bit. Our ignorance was scary but fortunately all went well and 10 adorable pups were born on September 18, 2008.

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Not the most beautiful shot but it is the real deal….

Lily was a sneaky girl who knew just where she wanted to have her pups. A friend brought over a whelping box for her to give birth in. We put it in the sunroom and blockaded her in there when we left for work. I came home at lunch to check on her and she was not in the sunroom. I heard a tiny noise from upstairs and followed the sound up to the boyz room. There Lily was giving birth on Casey’s bed! It was magical, beautiful, disgusting and unbelievable all at once. About 6 of them were born by the time I got there and she was getting tired. I called our friend, Jerry, and he came over in case there were any issues. I called Steve and he and the boyz came home as well.  It was such an amazing experience for me. I felt like it must feel to watch your sister give birth or something (OK, not quite the same) – in the way that you can fully embrace the magic that is birthing….in a way you cannot fully take in when you are the one delivering your baby/ies.

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Poor picture quality but ……oh my cuteness!

Lily was a calm and gentle mother…she was a trooper feeding all 10 pups and just letting them on her as much as they wanted/needed.

Some outside time for the pups….

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Checking on her pups

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I fell in love with Pippen…he was the runt and sadly, did not make it. I don’t remember the last time I cried that hard 😦

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Casey had a special bond with Lily…after all, she gave birth on his bed!

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Chillin by the fire

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Lily and Drew sniffing around while we ski out back

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At the vet a few weeks ago

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Lily with 2 of her pups – Drew (left) and Bella (right)…so blessed to have had a ‘pup family reunion’ at Erin and Tim’s over Memorial Day weekend 🙂

At 12 years old, Lily had led a great life…full of play, love and lots of tolerance for the chaos that is our home!  So on Thursday we all said our goodbyes and then the boyz had to go to a National Honor Society dinner. They knew it would not be long and she ended up passing about 20 minutes after they left. Steve and I were right with her and it was very calm for her.

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She started lying like this in the last month of so….

We are so grateful for what you brought to our lives Lily….for your gentle ways, your soft fur and your loving nature. We will miss you and always love you Lily girl 🙂

Lily fed the love for sure…

 

Many blessings,

Suzanne