Cheers

Last week included sitting around the table surrounded by good food and even better people multiple times.

On Wednesday we toasted to my friend and co-worker Erica who is moving at the end of the semester. Erica and I started teaching at Xavier the same year. As an alumna, she helped me find my way. I’ll miss her inside scoop on absolutely everything, but I’m happy to see her support her husband as they move their family to Tennessee. We can’t wait to visit you in Music City, friend!

Friday night took John and me to Waterloo for a triple sibling date. We tried out Single Speed Brewery, and I will be back. The atmosphere is awesome, the food was delicious, and the beer was fantastic. This place is HUGE! It was a great opportunity to hang out with some of my favorite people before the busy holiday schedule kicks into gear next week.

As hectic as life feels in December, I’m thankful for these people who remind me to slow down and enjoy the moments around the table.

Magnolia Market

No, I didn’t find Chip or Joanna.

I did find Lindsay and Andy. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with the content in this post, I suggest you watch Fixer Upper on HGTV. Chip and Joanna take rundown houses in Waco, Texas and remodel them into absolutely stunning yet functional homes for families.

In one of their episodes, they build Magnolia Market at the Silos. This touristy spot includes the Market, food trucks, a garden center, and a bakery. It’s designed to be a place to shop but also bring families and friends together. The yard includes tables, lounge chairs, yard games, and room to spread out and relax.

If you can’t make it to Magnolia Market, read their book. I blogged about, The Magnolia Story, earlier this year, and I stand by my recommendation.

Thanks to my Loras housemate, Lindsay, and her husband, Andy, for welcoming us to Woodway and Waco. Lindsay is a professor at Baylor, and we had the opportunity to take in the campus following our Magnolia visit. Who knew there were real bears on campus?

Catching up with these two was even more magical than Magnolia.

Pumpkin Patch 2017

Thanks to Paige, Tony, and Harlow for inviting us on their family pumpkin patch date over the weekend. We went to the Blank Park Zoo with these three back in July, and it’s so fun to have kids similar in age.

Harlow and Elijah didn’t mind running around in the rain, but thankfully it stopped about 30 minutes after we arrived. Harlow wasn’t walking the last time we were together, so it was fun to witness her independence.

Speaking of independence, check out these two riding in the train all by themselves! They screamed in delight the entire time, and the man driving said it was his favorite ride. They absolutely loved it.

If you follow me on snapchat, you know Elijah loves to “CrossFit”. He literally pushes everything he can find. From our real lawn mower to tables and chairs, this kid is weight training. He’s strong. We let him use his strength to pick out and load pumpkins. John’s promise to Elijah was that if Elijah could lift it into the wagon, John would buy it. Thankfully Elijah got distracted after two pumpkins, which now sit on our front porch. I’m looking forward to painting these with him later this week.

Old McDonald’s Farm

Fall weather has arrived and it’s perfect.

Fall festivals have started everywhere, and we took part in Saturday’s celebration of the season at Old McDonald’s Farm. The free petting zoo was a hit, but seeing the Gaffney family was the highlight.

Peter is used to farm animals, and he helped city-boy Elijah work up his courage to pet the pig. The cow lost his chance at a friend when he licked Elijah in their first greeting.

We followed up the festival with some adult fun including Oktoberfest and sweet potato fries at Parlor City. Saturdays were made for simple luxuries.

Mr. and Mrs. Augustine

Jenny was one of my students my first year teaching. She eventually moved into the yearbook editor role and we spent countless hours working side by side.

Jenny and I would often have conversations long after the final bells for the day rang. We would discuss anything and everything, and she spoke freely about her best friend- God. (What sophomore in high school knows Jesus in this way?) She spoke about God like she really knew him, and I soon realized she did.

Jenny inspires me to speak the words my heart is really feeling, even if it sounds cheesy or makes other people uncomfortable. She reminds me that a relationship with God is so important you shouldn’t be able to keep it out of every day conversations.

This revelation has allowed me to be a better daughter of God and a better disciple. I can’t spread God’s message to others if I avoid speaking about how He has moved me each day.

As fortunate as I was to have Jenny as a student, I’m blessed to work side by side with her again as my colleague. She is an incredible teacher and an even better Catholic role model. She makes me want to be better, too.

Witnessing Jenny exchange vows with Andrew was a moment I felt the Holy Spirit. All of those conversations we had about who she was dating and decisions she was struggling with brought her to her most perfect match. Who would have guessed that while Jenny was living “a year of single life” in college that God knew all along about His plans for her to find Andrew- a man so perfect for her that he would propose in front of an altar at church on Christmas Eve. God reveals our story a little at a time, and Jenny’s wedding reminded me that God’s plan is always so much bigger and more amazing than our own.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him YOUR plans,” right?

Congratulations, Jenny. It’s obvious you and Andrew have been busy planning not just a wedding, but a marriage. God bless you!

Baby Andrew

An answered prayer. A true blessing. An absolute miracle.

Baby Andrew.

Congratulations to my best friend, Katie and her husband, Bob. The newest addition to your family is perfect, and Peter is already an incredible older brother.

I can’t wait to continue watching your boys grow up together, and I know Elijah looks forward to many more playdates full of cars, trucks, and balls.

Is it too much of a prayer request to ask God to make us neighbors?

The Markket

A group of English teachers didn’t let the fact that The Markket is spelled “wrong” bother us once we were blown away by its beauty and charm.

The Markket in Edgewood, IA, a new destination to all of us, was just one stop during our day trip. This home decorating store opened a couple of months ago and displays gorgeous home furnishings, full kitchens, and stunning woodwork. The gray/blue kitchen cabinet model gave me some serious home envy. The store also features paint, decorations, rugs, curtains…etc. from the Joanna Gaines collection in Waco, Texas. If you watch Fixer Upper, this store is her style of modern meets rustic. Is that a style?

Another highlight of the trip was time outside at Franklin Street Brewery. Even though we work together every day during the school year, a lot of our conversations revolve around our students. Time away from school and out of town was a breath of fresh air. It put a limit on the “teacher talk” and allowed us to just catch up with each other as friends.

If you want to join us next year, let’s get a date on the calendar NOW. Summers fill up too fast. Destination TBD.

The last two years we’ve spent a summer day at the White Water Park and a couple of days soaking up Life at the Lodge.

Summer Sister Time

Sushi.

Summer Shandy.

Sunshine.

Sisters.

Need I say more?

Ashley, Meredith, and I all work in schools with the perk of summers off. Our schedules finally aligned for a sister’s day by the pool. Even though the 70 degree day kept us from diving in, I will never be upset with a day that includes drinks outside and fruitful conversations.

Meredith was sweet enough to ask Ashley and me to be included in her and Matt’s wedding. As if we weren’t excited enough!

I think there will be many more summer sister dates in our future.

Blank Park Zoo

Introducing Elijah to his first zoo was on this year’s summer bucket list. Even though I’m convinced he thought every animal was a “pup-pup”, he loved it. Side note, he gets very distracted on walks when a puppy goes by, and I absolutely love his excitement and curiosity. He can also hear a dog barking long before I hear it. Little ears but a lot of love for animals.

Our friends Paige and Tony joined us with their little girl, Harlow. Watching Harlow and Elijah interact was a joy in itself. Even though we live a couple hours apart, more playdates for these two are a must!

The Gift of Summer

The first week of summer reminded me time and time again what a gift it is to have a chunk of time “off”. Here is a bulleted list of what we’ve been doing with our gift of time.

  • Splash pad dates with Elijah. We also bought him a little pool for our back patio. He uses it more as a water table, but it’s serving the purpose of cooling down while exploring.
  • Too many walks/jogs to count with the jogging stroller. We even figured out the Dunkin’ Donuts is less than two miles from our house. This distance is just enough to make me work for my large iced coffee with hazelnut swirl.
  • Book Club with my coworkers. We picked A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman for our June read. We’ll discuss in mid July. The highlight of this meeting was the company, the weather, and the Summer Shandy.
  • Professional Development Planning. A group of teachers has been given the green light to take over the PD for next year, and we’re not messing around. We met at the public library for a few hours and came up with some awesome proposals.
  • Date night for the Pork Tornados concert at The McGrath Amphitheater. The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert, and they broke the Uptown record of just under 4,000 people.
  • A visit to Matt’s office in Waterloo. Matt might be the busiest person we know, so Elijah and I had to take advantage of a day he was available. Thanks for letting us crash you office for lunch, Matt.
  • A playdate for Peter and Elijah while Katie, Sara, and I sat in the shade sipping Starbucks. Does summer get sweeter than those moments?