Monday, May 30, 2016

Nate Proposed to Anna!

On a very happy Saturday, my Anna's beloved sweetheart dropped to his knees, declared his love, and asked our Anna to be his wife. 
And because Nate is a good, kind man who loves her with all of his heart and she is a smart girl who recognizes this and loves him as much, she said yes. 
It helps to have a fantastic younger sister to help organize the timing of things and Mary was on it. She alerted the party guests of exciting developments to come so that when the exact right moment arrived, everyone who loves these two most was there to see it happen. Every future groom should have as someone fabulous and organized as Mary on their side.
It takes courage and a huge leap of faith to propose to the woman that you love in front of her family and I am incredibly honored that Nate made the choice to include both families to be a part of the very first moments of their bright future together. 
Every year on Memorial Day Saturday, my parents host a big picnic at the farm in Lebanon and invite all of their friends and family. Nate decided to use this occasion to propose and I am so glad that he did. His own dear parents came too...driving many hours from Alabama, and his sweet sister Kathleen traveled from Phoenix to be here for the big moment. And while I know that Anna is cool and understanding of the quirks and quarks of her big family, I'm thrilled that we didn't scare Nate as much as we could have. 
He is strong man with an excellent sense of humor.

Here are Anna and Nate surrounded by amazing sisters and their goofy and their adorable hound one day post engagement as they prepare to head back to Charlotte and start planning a wedding. 
And I am so very happy for these two young ones... happy that they found each other and realize that they are both better people when they are together. 
Blessings to them both as they move together torward a bright shiny future of love, hope and unity.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Rosie's very own Personal Teenage Superhero... Hemen Aklilu!

Rosie has a new personal hero and her name is Hemen.
Hemen is 17 and moved to the United Sates from Ethiopia when she was eight. She is brilliant and gorgeous and has big plans that include college next year and medical school after that.
She enjoys working with children and sees her future self as a pediatrician....and even after speaking to her for just a short time, I can definitely see her future doctor self. 
Hemen is a senior at Mother of Mercy High School right here in Cincinnati with a heart of gold. As a young child she remembers asking her grandmother about the impoverished children and the orphans who were in so much need...she worried about them and wanted to help. This need to give back to Ethiopia stayed with Hemen, even after she moved to the U.S. and eventually led her to Emmebeth Micshel. Emma now lives in New Jersey, but grew up in the Abune Andreas Orphanage in Ethiopia and founded an organization called Ethiopia's Tomorrow to help support the very same orphanage where she lived as a child.
When Rosie saw the article about Hemen in the paper, she looked at the photo of the four girls and immediately knew they were in Ethiopia. She read the article and wanted to help... but she had big strong feelings about how she was going to do this- she very much wanted to ownership of this connection...she reminded me that it was a "personal Ethiopian thing mom... you wouldn't really understand."
She had two ideas about how she wanted to help.
She wanted to give her own money from her own savings and she wanted to meet Hemen in person to give her the donation.
Meeting Hemen was her idea and her plan, but even the most independent 7 year olds need help in handling the details of such a great idea/plan, so I became the meeting arranger/driver. 
Rosie was very excited about the meeting her own personal superhero in person. but while we waited in the hall of her school, she became very serious and quiet.

Rosie was still pensive when Hemen arrived on the scene but was immediately put to ease by her warmth, kindess great big bear hug. Hemen shared a little bit of what her life was like in Ethiopia and her hopes and dreams for the future. She was charming and gracious and extremely appreciative to Rosie for helping her with her project... and I was more than grateful for Hemen for being such a lovely connection to her homeland.
For more information about Ethiopia's Tomorrow...
For the entire incredible story about Emmebeth Mischel the founder and director of Ethiopia's Tomorrow...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Girl Squad takes Broadway!

Lucky me!  
                         I got to spend the weekend in the big apple with some of my favorite girls!
And this is what happens when you ask a bunch of theater peeps to pose for a pic... "lets pretend like we are in the poster...everyone pick a person and be them!"
As a bonus to our girls on Broadway weekend, my favorite group Naytronix was in town to kick off their tour. Here goes the incredibly talented Josh Fink on synthesizer kicking off the tour at Winter Jazziest.  Josh learned quickly that maybe he can run three states away, but not hide from his super fan club.
Mary took this photo of myself with Josh and Nate Brenner after the show... she pointed out that it  looks more like I'm dropping my sons off at college than hanging out with the band which is very true....once a mom, always a mom- even while chillin' with very coolio musicians. 
Tess, Lilly, Lilli, Mary and Kia  before seeing Hamilton

On Saturday morning we made our way to the Richards Rogers Theater to see the play that Mary and Lilly are quite obsessed with... Hamilton.
It's a musical based on the life and times of our Alexander Hamilton, yes that Alexander Hamilton, founder of our financial system and the very first United States Secretary of the Treasury. Which doesn't really sound like inspiration for a hit rap musical... but it was AWESOME!
Lilly and Mary have been listening to the soundtrack on repeat pretty much since October, have memorized every lyric, and both have developed huge crushes on Alexander Hamilton who most definitely is the "Foxiest of the Federalists" 
And they have also declared Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the musical, some kind of intense genius...and I completely agree.   
Lilly, and her pals, Lilli and Tess waiting for the show to begin... I have never seen three girls more excited to see a show... their excitement was infectious and we all had to hold hands and take deep calming breaths so we wouldn't faint.
 It was really the most fun I have ever had getting ready to watch anything.
And post show... happily exhausted from the emotional roller coaster that was their beloved A. Hamilton's life...and super angry at Aaron Burr for killing him in that fateful 1804 duel....  
"dueling is the dumbest way to die!"
Here is Mary after the show with the immensely talented actor Daveed Diggs who played Marquis de Lafayette in the first part of the show and Thomas Jefferson in the second. 
You meet the most amazing people when you patiently wait by the stage door post show.  
Christopher Jackson aka the very tall and handsome president George Washington came out and visited his fans too... he signed autographs and posed with these two very happy girls. 
To my theater girls, meeting Christopher and some of the the cast of Hamilton was like meeting a Beatle and they were a bit beside themselves. 
I loved it.
Mary also had her chance to get all wound up and star struck when she got to meet Anthony Ramos... her very most favorite broadway actor who happens to have a very most gorgeous smile.
I think they make an adorable couple in this photo and she thought I was absolutely right.   
To calm down after all of that celebrity excitement we took a little walk to Rockefeller center and I got a photo with my two girlies in front of Radio City Music Hall. 
I was thrilled to get to meet the fabulous daughter of one of my very first friends from way back when. Emma lives close by and very graciously agreed for her and her sweetie to join us for a delicious Italian meal... I am still in happy disbelief that I got to spend a Saturday night in New York having dinner with super cool 20 somethings. 
I have Tess's mom Maureen to thank for such a great restaurant recommendation...Forlinis on Baxter Street was the perfect place for my girls squad. 
And as an aside, I enjoyed calling my girls my squad again and again...they probably didn't think it was as cool of a nickname as I did,   
The next morning we climbed to the top of the Empire State Building...well, took an elevator up- but still it was exhilarating. The view! And because we were still all jazzed up from our patriotic Hamilton afternoon... we couldn't help but channel the Schuyler sisters (the women in Alexanders life) and sing our praises to New York City... the Greatest City in the World!

Then I calmed down a bit and had to reminisce about the last time I was at the top of the Empire State Building when we were visiting my bro Charlie and sis in law Christine... Mary was five years old  and loved the wind of being up so high. Mary has no memory of her windy early visit, this but did indulge me in a selfie. 
Lilly, who was only a twinkle in my eye the last time I was atop the building, also indulged her mom with a quick pic.
Just when I thought that my weekend couldn't get any more dear friend since our Buckeye days, Terry, and her gorgeous daughter Christa, came down from Philadelphia and met us at our lunch spot.
(The Cowgirl Hall of Fame- thanks Christine!) 
Then it was time for our even bigger and better girl squad to go to another show... here are the youngers waiting to see Finding Neverland. 
Which was beautiful and incredibly moving and made all of the mothers in the audience weep and some of the kids too. Matthew Morrison played the part of J.M. Barrie, a playwright and author of Peter Pan- he was excellent in the part, but I could help but remember his years as Mr. Schuester in Glee. 
And afterwards we waited by the stage door and Mr Schuster/J.M Barrie/ Matthew Morrison came out to sign playbills and was very gracious and kind in meeting his fans. 
The older daughters of the girl squad... Kiah, Mary and Christa on Times Square in the snow. 

The younger daughters... Lilly, Tess and Lilli channeling their own Peter Pan after Finding Neverland. 
Thanks to a fantastic hotel recommendation, (thanks again Christine!), 
this was our evening view, by telescope from our hotel.
Lady Liberty is indeed glorious.
To keep things classy, I had them pose with with a far more peculiar, and a lot less glorious Lady Liberty in Times Square.
The entire trip was a blast... we had no problems and a really fantastic experience. The only hiccup in the trip happened during the very last hours of the trip when I learned that our flight La Guardia flight  to Cincinnati was cancelled and the next one out was in 8 hours... which ended up being delayed. So while Mary and Kiah happily boarded their on time flight to Chicago, we waited and waited some more. Which gave the girls plenty of time to study for their midterms and giggle and study some more. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Turkey the Dog the Band... Christmas Morning.

So I realize that I might three weeks behind in posting Christmas pics of the family... but I will anyway, because our Christmas pjs this year are my total favorites. 
Every year we do our best to sport matching jammies at Christmas, which is getting more difficult to do without force and angst as the kids get older. Believe it or not, teenage guys are not super excited about wearing the same pjs as mom. But this year everyone in the whole family was very happy with the 2015 version of Christmas Jammies of 2015...the amazing shirts created by Cincinnati artist Lizzy DuQuette for the band that Lilly is s part of.
So here we are on Christmas morning...the whole team sporting our very stylish and original Turkey the Dog the Band t shirts.
 Jamie flanked by a couple of smiley big sisters...
And Turkey the dog the original inspiration for the band that bears his name.
And he is the original inspiration Turkey himself catching a Christmas snooze.
It's super hard work being so inspirational on Christmas.
Wishing you all the very merriest of times together.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Who-dey Heart.

At about midnight last night one AJ threw a pass and another AJ caught it in the end zone and the Bengals had tied up their playoff game against the Steelers.
Then with an extra point from dear Nugent we were winning. 
Beating the Steelers in a PLAY OFF GAME!
There was a minute and a half left on the game clock and we were all shaky and screamy and deliriously happy and in a state of shock and disbelief.
And I even got a bit injured by an earring when, in all of the excitement, my head got hugged a little too hard by a worked up friend. I think a face injury from being overhugged was by far the best and most fun injury ever.
It was awesome. 
But then some stuff happened... a fumble, a penalty.... and our big win didn't happen after all. 
I have been going to Bengal games for about 40 years- Erika has gone to many of those games with's been awhile since we won a playoff game and we were ready.
And while I am saddened that their season is over, I am more bummed that my parents who make my fanship look like small potatoes in comparison, won't be able to cheer for their favorite team in the Super Bowl this season.
But I'm not worried, because the great thing about being a football fan is that there is always a next season.
The Bengals played their guts out last night in the most exciting and emotional game ever and I thank them for that from the bottom of my orange and black Who-dey heart.

Friday, January 8, 2016

My Happy Birthday Angry Speech.

Karl and his kids, "demonstrating kindness" at his birthday dinner. 

Karl is a really great father...he has a ton of solid parenting instincts that I am forever impressed by. When it comes to raising kids, he seems to know exactly when to hold em, when to fold em, when to walk away and and when to run.
(thank you Kenny Rogers)
Yesterday was his birthday and his gift from me was to divert some of the more unpleasant and emotional tasks generated by a bunch of kids with big feelings who all seemed to want immediate answers on the same day.
Which was of course, far more challenging than I anticipated.
But I was pleased to learn that I had crafted a sort of one size fits all angry speech to most of their unreasonable and extremely melodramatic neediness.
As follows...
YOU can just go ahead and be really MAD at me for whatever lame reason you feel like coming up with but you have a really GREAT DAD who does a lot of really great stuff for you and LOVES you like crazy. And today is his BIRTHDAY! So be mad at me if you want but you need to demonstrate some kindness to you father now and today....MAN!
I put the "man" at the end so that I say what I really wanted to.. which would have been super uncool and inappropriate.

I delivered this speech more than a couple times throughout the course of the day to almost all of my kids and got pretty good at it. And weirdly, my angry speech worked...turns out yelling at my kids to be nice to their dad and mean to me was an acceptable kid compromise... effective too-  at least for a day.
This morning, when I shared the behind the scenes view of our kids bad behavior on his birthday Karl  was thrilled that I spared him of some of the more intense kid drama on his day. And also appreciative of my reenactment of the hostile, but effective, birthday speech that I had loudly shared and perfected without him knowing it.
So yeah... Happy Birthday, Man.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Revolutions

Karl and I happily spent the first 20 mins of 2016 at a friends house a half a block from the rest of our posse, but hurried home quickly afterwards to make sure that our kids behaved themselves and went to bed. Instead what we discovered that they had stood in the kitchen with raised glasses of eggnog and counted down the final 10 seconds of 2015. 
The knowledge that our 4 youngest kids were able to stand together for 10 seconds and toast a new year year without arguing about it made Karl and I deliriously happy it seems that all of the family holiday togetherness has intensified the sibling bickering to a whole new level... and we saw this act of egg nog solidarity as a miraculous event. 
And while they had all scattered to their rooms when we arrived home, we managed to pull them together again for a few photos... here are our guys at on January 1st, at 12:27.
And the girls with their ancient sleepy mascot Turkey... a few minutes later.  
Please note that we were careful to photograph Turkey's "good side" in his happy new year photo. 

As far as new year's resolutions...while I tried to suggest some means of low key self improvement to my beloved family, mostly in terms of homework and general tidiness, I was told that it was not my place to do so. 
In fact...Rosie was quick to fill me in with her personal feelings on new years resolutions...
"new years revolutions can only be decided on by the person who is doing the revolution-ing and if I'm going to start a revolution, it won't be with my mom's ideas"
Ok...fair point, and I really do respect the notion of starting out the new year with a few more interesting personal revolutions instead of some boring, clean your room kind of mom imposed resolutions. 

Wishing you all a very happy shiny new 2016 full of 
 faith in the future 
and maybe, if so desired, your own personal revolution or two.