Day 1 Denver

Once the kids knew the trip plans -- flying into Denver and then driving all over Colorado and Wyoming -- I sent them their packing list. Technology is sometimes my friend! I texted them all the list of what they needed to bring. 

To say they were excited is really not doing it justice. They have never been any further West than TN/KY/IL. That's partly why I was so excited to take them out West. They had no idea what the Rockies really would look like. We have the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, but that is such a different landscape. 

We flew out Saturday morning and they were incredibly excited about that too! 

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I packed everyone a little snack bag for the flight -- as I looked through all our pics, it made me laugh that Jackson took a picture of his spread. (That boy LOVES food!)

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While our flight was uneventful, our rental car pickup was nothing but eventful. The computers were down at the rental car place and they lacked all customer service skills, so they didn't give customers a heads up at all. In fact, it took 3 hours for us to get our rental car. 3 hours. I get that things happen, but the lack of customer service was what did them in. The kids entertained themselves better than the adults. 

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Although I did crack myself up with my clever travel things -- my Road trip t-shirt and Rocky Road trail mix! (The kids were not amused by either!)

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We spent the afternoon/evening driving around Denver. They were shocked when they saw how huge the mountains were! 

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After sightseeing in Denver, we headed south an hour to Colorado Springs and checked into our hotel. As we drove, the moon started to appear and they said it looked like it was sitting on the ground. It is amazing because you can see for so much distance, so the sky looks huge!


2016 McCarthy Wild West Adventure

I started thinking about a big family trip earlier in the Spring. There are about a hundred fun trips that I would love to take the kids on, so I had to do some sleuthing. If we were going on a car trip, then I had to look at how far we could go in 9 days (a week off and two weekends). But, if we could fly then we could go even further from home. 

We had a lot of frequent flier miles accrued, so I started looking at places we could fly to and get the most for our miles. I found one awesome city that was 15,000 round trip, per ticket. We had enough to get all six tickets, so that was my destination. In fact, I booked our September trip all the way back in April. 

And, as always, I like to surprise my children. By about June, I told them we had a great trip planned for Fall Break in September. They enjoyed the clues that I gave for the Keys last year, so they wanted me to do it again. In July, they asked for clues and I said no -- too early (I mean they do have Google at their fingertips, which makes my clue making even harder. Ugh!) In August, they asked for a clue and I said, "Well, we will be leaving the state of Georgia." Ha -- no info!

About a week before the trip, I sent them this as a pre-clue and told them this is why we do it!

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The next day, the clues started.

Clue#1
Like last year's trip, pack lightly because we are adventuring! 8 nights, 7 hotels and 3000+ miles!

That didn't really give them anything to go on. That was my plan!

Clue #2 They were not amused by this one!

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Shhhh...don't tell them they are learning anything by figuring out my clues!

Clue #3 We will primarily be spending time in two states. Every state has its own flag . These two states fly their flags next to each other and only have 4 colors on each of them.

They are all busy researching flags now!

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Johnny was definitely the one who was most diligent about figuring it out. By the time he had looked up distances between Atlanta and lots of cities and then temperatures and lastly, flag colors, he narrowed it to Massachusetts/Rhode Island and Colorado/Wyoming. 

Clue #4 Consult your friends. One of your friends has a little sister who was born in one of the states that we are going to.

I knew that would do it -- they started texting and in minutes, knew we were heading to Colorado and Wyoming!

 


Halloween 2016

As the kids get older, Halloween gets different. This year, Jackson and Leah wanted to go Trick or Treating with friends, instead of us. Johnny didn't really want to go at all, until the day before and realized that he did. But one thing that hasn't changed is our McCarthy Annual Pumpkin Carving Competition!

This was the 10th Annual and the teams were comprised of:

 Joe, Johnny and Owen who did Skeletor

Skeletor

Leah, Jackson, Elizabeth who did ET

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And it was a landslide victory this year for the winning team!

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ET won something like 57 to 4. Oh well -- there's always next year for the losing team! 

Leah and Jackson did end up going out to Trick or Treat with friends and had a great time. She was a giraffe and he was . . . well, not sure he was anything, but he had fun. 

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 Johnny and Owen were Napoleon and Pedro from one of our favorite movies "Napoleon Dynamite!"

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Napoleon and Pedro

 We also participated in Trunk or Treat at church again. This year, our theme was the children's game, I Spy -- Halloween style.

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In the end, it was a great Halloween. . . as you can see, from their spoils!

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Life Reset

I first started my blog when John and Owen were born in 2006. 10 years of this blog. In the beginning, even with four small kids, I still made time to blog. It served a few different purposes.

It allowed me to continue writing creatively. I have always been a journaler. . . a writer of various sorts.

It also allowed me to keep my family up to date with stories and pictures, in a simple way.

Over the years, I continued to keep up with my blog. But, as I moved further and further back into the workforce, I had less and less time to write.  And, honestly, I missed it a lot.

I have always been the type of person who LOVES taking pictures and I am a tad on the obsessive side with keeping my pictures organized and stored safely in a variety of ways. (I have close to 25,000 pictures since 2001 stored on one photo site)

Pictures are awesome, but they don't tell the whole story. They can't convey the funny things that were happening when the picture was taken or the sad feelings that you were feeling when the photo was snapped. I have always liked journaling, blogging and scrapbooking because I tell the story that goes with the picture.

Like this picture:

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That is the first time that Leah and Owen ever met. As they both stared at one another, I was a crying mess behind the camera, but remember just how sweet that very special moment was. 

I often will pull up the blog from years ago and read the stories to the kids. It allows me to remember the details of those special LIFE MOMENTS.

Anyway, it's time for me to reset. I recently stepped out of the work force and am really, really very happy. Blogging is just one of the things that got set to the side and I am happy to begin again on this and many other things as I reset a little.


Finally, the teens!

It took them 13 years, but they finally made it to their teenage years. I wish I had a great long term memory, because I would love to know if I was as excited as they were leading up to this big day -- 13!

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They requested a doughnut cake . .and so I obliged. (What, you don't want me to bake a cake from scratch? I just have to drive to Dunkin Donuts and make 12 difficult choices? Okay!) It was a fun day, at school, with all their friends and then we threw a big party that weekend.

There were about 20 kids altogether and we sent them on a neighborhood scavenger hunt to start. 

I had emailed my whole neighborhood beforehand and asked who would be game for a bunch of loud, obnoxious teenagers knocking on their door and asking for random stuff. I gave the kids the list and the list of approved addresses and a time limit of 40 minutes. 

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They had a great time and I got to see my neighbors doing a lot of stuff -- dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, etc. In the end, the girls won! 

After that, we fed them, played kickball and then did a chalk powder fight. 

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They also all brought their eno hammocks and had them spread out everywhere.

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A campfire,s'mores and tag in the dark rounded out the night. 

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Happy Teenagers!


Can I hit the pause button?

Isn't that so many of us feel? Like we just want life to slow down some -- months, seasons, years, kids going grade to grade, weekends? 

 

i feel like Halloween was just a few weeks ago, but then I am sitting down and looking at the February calendar and filling in important dates. How does that happen? Joe says it's because we do too much. Maybe. . . but how do you not do so much? 

Scheduled things. . . 

4 kids

2 parents who work full-time

3 boys who play 1 sport

1 daughter who takes 1 dance class a week

2 kids who take music lessons once a week

2 parents and 2 kids who volunteer at church a few times a month

2 parents who volunteer with sports, school and neighborhood stuff

 

Unscheduled things. . . 

School clubs -- Beta, NJHS, student council

Playing

Getting together with family and friends

 

On paper, I don't think it's too much, 

We have lots of friends whose kids play in 4 sports a year, do travel ball all year around, compete in sports tournaments every month and I think, "Wow, my life is much less busy than theirs."

And then I have friends who spend time every weekend going to the movies, going to museums and shows, hanging out with friends and I think, "How do they have so much free time?" I want to be more like those people! 

 

When I talk with older moms, they always say don't worry about it. . . that it all passes by so quickly and then they are staring at an empty calendar. I don't doubt them, but I want to make sure I enjoy some more of the months, seasons, years, kids going grade to grade and weekends.