Friday, May 30, 2014


After last weekends craziness and excitement, I'm looking forward to a quieter weekend!  Well, mostly quieter anyway....Jon has a Baccalaureate Mass on Saturday night and graduation on Sunday afternoon!  I still can't believe we have a 3rd child graduating from high school and heading off to college! Sniff!

For 7 Quick Take Friday, I'm sharing my 7 favorite pictures from Jon's prom last week!

#1:  The Classic Shot
Jon and his date, (and one of his closest friends), Amy.
They have known each other since 1st grade.
Many of Jon's friends went to prom together as friends:)
 #2:  Photo Bomb

I love this pic!
The guys are most of Jon's closest friends.
Amber, also a super close friend that Jon has known since 1st grade,
photo bombed:)
So much fun:)
#3:  Swag Pose
I'm cheating...this is a group of pics:)
Jack trying to figure out how to get his jacket on his thumb and over his back:)

Look to the right....

Look to the left.....
 #4:  Fun Pose
This pose was a suggestion of Isaac's sister(in the green).
Everyone looked at one person and Jon's naturally goofy nature took care of the rest!
 #5:  Jon and Amy being Jon and Amy
Such goofballs!
#6:  Poor Mom 
Amy is laughing in this shot because she noticed her mom crying!
These kids just don't understand how hard it is for us that they are growing up!
 #7:  Strike a Pose
I love this shot!
The guys were such good sports:)
They all had a great time at the prom and at the incredible after prom party that their school puts on!(Love that they have somewhere safe to go and can keep having fun together!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I'm keeping my promise!  I've been going back and forth in my head, but I think I'm just going to jump into Jay's surprise 40th!

So, months ago I had it in my head to throw Jay a surprise 40th birthday party.  Actually, about 5 years ago I had thought about how we should celebrate our 40th birthdays....we will both be turning 40 in June.  That was pre Luke and Kate.  I had thought that I would get a few of our closest couple friends and surprise Jay with a weekend away.

And then we had more babies....neither of whom sleep through the night!  So, I improvised, and a surprise party at our house made more sense!

I created the invitations, booked a bouncy house, and worked on a menu.  I was keeping things more simple than I would have in the past because of my struggles with panic attacks in the last month.  I am not the 'plow through anything, queen multitasker that I have been in the past.  Right now I have very obvious limits....and taking care of me by not taking on more than I can handle is important.

Anyway...I had a hefty guest list so I prayed for good weather from the get-go because if it rained I was in big trouble!  A large number of Jay's relatives that live 2-3 hours away all said they were coming.  Lots of our friends were able to make it.  The countdown was on to the big day!

It was a herculean effort to keep the party a secret!  Jay and I talk about everything!  I always bounce ideas off of him.  I found myself constantly ready to blurt out things like "Do you think we will have enough food?" or "Do you think it will rain?"....and stopping myself at the last minute!

Then, there was the whole issue of trying to get the house and yard ready for the party without being obvious that we were getting the house/yard ready for the party!

Since we were supposed to have house guests with us for the 2 nights leading up to the party, they were a great excuse to get the house "company ready"!  So, basically I tricked Jay into fixing lots of those little things that have needed to get done for a while but have been buried on the 'to-do' list!

My older kids were HUGE heroes in the 2 weeks leading up to the party!  Mike was especially helpful getting some of the bigger projects done.  He cleaned up the yard, cut and cleaned up all the overgrown brush around the fence, kept the grass cut, and even helped me get a fresh coat of paint in the main areas of the house!

Andrew and Jon helped with projects too...painting the deck, indoor clean up, and just about anything I asked was done without complaining!  I so appreciated that!

Things got a little ugly in the days leading up to the party!  I ended up getting really sick with bronchitis!  From Tuesday to Thursday I was on the couch unable to do anything!  Talk about panic!  That's when the kids and our families stepped up big time!  (Andrew even went grocery shopping for me!)

It was a lesson in humility for sure!

It took a village to put this party together!  Not being able to control and multi-task everything made it extra special!  I kept praying and asking God to bless the day and He did!  The weather was absolutely perfect, I had lots of help from my family and Jay's family to set everything up, and it was just a great day!  The bouncy house was a huge hit and kept all the kids occupied and having fun!

You know it's from God when you can not feel 100% and have 110 people in your house and have everything go so well!
Jon went to buy balloons at the dollar store that morning and they were out of
"Happy Birthday" balloons!  So he got a 'Feliz Compleanos" balloon instead!
His spanish teacher would be so proud!lol

The dessert table and a "40" picture collage!

Jay's mom made the rubics cube cake.
 I cut out 80's quotes and taped them to cardstock and a lollipop stick and put them in the cupcakes:)
Sarah, Andrew and I made a Pacman wall:)
I wanted to do a few special things, but not go overboard!  I'm happy with the way everything turned out!

The best part is that Jay actually had no idea at all!  Our friend, Corey, kept him out of the house on Sunday morning.(thank-you, thank-you!)  We even got away with telling  Jay that our neighbor was having a party and we stuck a balloon on their mailbox to make it look authentic!  It was so great so see Jay's look of shock when he walked in the house and everyone yelled 'surprise'!

Laughing at something Corey said as he walked in the door.

Confusion....Why are all these people yelling surprise?

Really confused face

The "you got me" face

Mike hugging Jay

Peter joining in!(Peter was so happy there was cake!)

Jay and his mom

Add caption

Luke and other kids having fun in the bouncy house:)

Kate, Sarah, and Jay's sisters, Julie and Jackie!
They dressed up 80's style:)

The party started at 12 and our last guests stayed until almost 6!  It was great!  The kids all had so much fun:)  There was plenty of food!  The weather was perfect!  The company and conversation was wonderful!  

Jay kept saying, "I can't believe you threw me a surprise party!"  "I can't believe that this many people came!"  "I can't believe I actually know this many people!"

It was truly a blessed day!

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Had A Secret!

What a whirlwind the last week has been!

Most days last week were spent on the couch not doing what I had planned because I was so sick with bronchitis!  I missed Luke's field trip on Tuesday, Ellie's field trip on Wednesday, and then I had to cancel our house guests on Thursday!

I have not been that sick in a while....and it just lasted so long!  Friday was the first day that I was able to spend some time off the couch!  Thank-you, God, because Friday was Jon's prom and I was able to take pictures of him and his friends at promenade and at a local gazebo.

We were also able to have our friends from Tennessee over for a simple cookout Friday night.  I was disappointed that we weren't able to spend all the time with them that we originally planned, but I was very happy to at least be able to see them for a couple of hours!

They left early on Friday night-around 8:30- and I was exhausted!

Saturday was a little better, but I still had to do some couch time and take a nap!  But I needed to get better because there was something very special that I had planned for Sunday and I absolutely needed to function!

It has been sooooo hard to keep quiet about what I have been planning!  There have been so many times I wanted to write about what I was thinking...or stressing about...but I couldn't because the surprise was for Jay and he reads my blog!:)

Jay has a big birthday coming up in 2 weeks and I wanted to throw him a surprise party.  It was an incredible day and a huge surprise for Jay!  I am so happy the way it turned out and so grateful for all the ways that God blessed the day!  From the weather to the help from my family and friends, the party went so smoothly!  I am so grateful!  Because after being sick on the couch all week, having the party could have been ugly!

It totally wasn't, though!

I can't wait to share all about it but I don't have time tonight!

Not sure I will have time tomorrow either.  Tomorrow is jam-packed with Peter's IEP, a doctor's appointment and Senior Awards Night for Jon.  (I'm pretty sure I will need to fit a nap in there somewhere, too!  I'm getting better but still not 100%!)

I promise that I will catch up at some point this week!  I have some great pics from the prom shots and of course lots from the party!

I hope you had a great long weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Today, I'm feeling a little better.  No more fever!  I am still hacking and really wiped out though, so Jay stepped in and went to Ellie's field trip.  It is a big sacrifice for him because his boss could only give him permission to go if he could still see all his patients.(They are short staffed this week.....but special thanks to his supervisor for being flexible!)

 So, Jay squeezed in 2 extra patients yesterday into an already busy day because he had to get home early for Sarah's Confirmation.  When he gets home from the field trip around 2:15, he has to see 3 or 4 patients.  It will be a long day for him!  Even tomorrow, he will be playing a little bit of catch up!

Jay hasn't complained at all about it.  He knows how important it was to Ellie to have one of us chaperone her field trip!  After hearing me coughing so much this morning, he knew I wasn't up for the trip.

As Jay was leaving this morning, I asked him if he had his "Super Dad" cape with him!  He's certainly earned it today!

Love you, honey!  Thanks for taking such good care of all of us!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Too Busy to Be Sick!

So, it's only Tuesday and already we are on plan 'b'!

Today was supposed to be Luke's field trip that I was going to help chaperone.  I wrote "supposed to" because I woke up losing the battle with the bronchial cough/cold that I have been fighting.  I just didn't have the energy....and I was "hacking up a lung".

I went to the doctor's this morning and was told I had bronchitis.  They did a chest x-ray to make sure I didn't have pneumonia.  I haven't heard anything yet so, hopefully, no news is good news!  I did get some antibiotics and then came home and rested with Kate while she napped.

This is not the week to get sick!  Sarah is getting Confirmed tonight and I was afraid that I wasn't going to feel up to going after how awful I felt this morning.  After my early afternoon siesta, I feel a little better.  

I'm hoping to feel up to chaperoning Ellie's field trip tomorrow!  We have house guests arriving on Thursday and I still have quite a bit of cleaning to do before they get here, too!


Today would have been my Grandmother's 94th birthday.  It's the first birthday that she is spending in Heaven and it still feels strange that she is gone.

Today also would have been our daughter, Therese's, 16th birthday.  It always amazes me how much time has gone by since her brief stay with us in this life!  It's always such a tough transition to go from celebrating Sarah's birthday on the 19th to grieving Therese's birthday on the 20th.  Such a yo-yo of emotions!

I think that it's special that Sarah is being confirmed on Therese's birthday.  It gives them a special spiritual connection.

It's a little tough for me because on May 20th my instinct is to turtle emotionally.  Turtle-ing doesn't work on a day that holds a special Sacrament for Sarah, though!

One of these days, it will stop being quite so crazy! least I hope it will!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Today is a special day in the Hamel Household!  Our very own, Sarah B-Darah turns 15!

I am at a loss as to how 15 years could have possibly gone by since we first met her....yet, here we are!

Sarah was my easiest non-medicated (i.e. no epidural) delivery.(I delivered my first 7 naturally then chose to have medicated births for Luke and Kate.)

During the day that would become her birthday, I remember sitting on our deck under the awning, reading a book as the three boys(6,4, &3) played in the sandbox.  I was having regular, non-painful contractions every 10-15 minutes.  It was a beautiful spring day...not too hot and very sunny!

At 7:00pm, when I laid down next to Jon to snuggle as he went to sleep, I figured that the contractions would taper off.  Well, after 10 minutes and 4 contractions later, Jay and I headed out to the hospital.  Sarah was born at 9:55pm and stole our hearts from the moment they placed her in my arms!

Sarah is easy going, creative and super helpful.  She loves to cook-especially chocolate chip cookies and lemon meringue pies.  She is a great big sister!  She snuggles with Luke and plays dolls with Kate, goes for scooter rides with Peter, and sings lots of song with Ellie(especially songs from Frozen!).

Sarah is very easy going.  She does need some regular quiet time to decompress...but is almost always pretty happy.  I did find one picture a few weeks ago that shows her a little grumpy....but it's a rare find!

She didn't like sharing her newborn baby sister, Ellie!
(Kate has a very similar pouty face, but she uses it much more often!)

Sarah is very smart and a very hard worker!  Actually, she often works too hard and we have to remind her that getting a "B" every once in a while isn't a bad thing!

I don't know what I would do without my extra set of hands!  Having her help and brainstorm along side me is a lot of fun!

 Happy Birthday, Sarah!
You are a very special...and very loved...young lady!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Oh How The Time Flies!

I can't believe I haven't blogged all week!  It has been so crazy around here....and the crazy amps up to double the intensity next week!  Bear with me please!

#1:  Company Countdown
Our friends are coming for a visit from Tennessee.  They moved down south about 7 years ago and have only been up once about 5 years ago.  They are staying with us for 2 nights so getting our house company ready...and figuring out the logistics of fitting 6 extra people in the house(!) taking up quite a bit of energy!

#2:  Prep Work
Two weeks ago I made a list of things that I felt needed to get done before our visitors come.  Jay has crossed off a couple.  With Mike's help...and some help from Jon and Andrew...we have crossed off a few more this week!  

Wednesday was paint day around here!  Mike and I teamed together to put a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen, dining room, and living room.  The house so needed it!  Jon and Andrew both put a coat of paint on the deck and Mike painted the picnic table.  I painted some trellis for around the deck.  Then, I punted and ordered pizza because it was 5:30 and we were exhausted and trying to put the house back together!

#3:  Rash Boy
Luke broke out with an all-over body rash Wednesday night.  At first I thought it was just from the sunscreen I put on him on Monday because that gave him a small rash just on his arms.  But, after a Google search, I thought it looked like Fifth's Disease.  A trip to the doctors on Thursday morning confirmed my thought.  Thankfully, it's just a virus.  Once they get the rash it isn't contagious anymore.  Oh the joys!

#4:  Cough, Cough
Most of our house has a sinus cold/bronchial cough.  I have been coughing for over a month!  It's only bad for about an hour in the morning, but I just want it to go away!  Now that I'm almost "middle age", I have brought the ability to multi-task to a whole new level!  Who knew that kegels and coughing would be so important to me!

#5:  Cough, Cough, cont.
Kate and Luke have the wonderful cough, too!  Last night, Luke woke up at 9:30 and coughed/whined off and on until close to 11.  When he finally settled down, Kate joined in the fun and coughed for another hour!  Today I can't stop yawning! 

#6:  Tux
Today, Jon and I went to pick out his tux for next week's prom.  I can't believe that he is graduating!  I'm so proud of him but so sad that he's taking another big step in his life.  I'm not ready for them to grow up!  Feeling a little like the dad in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"...."Why do you want to leave me?"

#7:  Busy, Busy, Busy
So, it's not just preparing for house guests that has things feeling crazy around here!  Tonight is Ellie's spring concert and a young adult group event(which Jay is running...well, running the group not the event but he is taking them to the event) at the same time.  Tomorrow is the Baptism of our friend's new baby(if we are all healthy!).  Sunday is Sarah's Confirmation rehearsal and celebrating Sarah's birthday with our families at dinner.  Monday is Sarah's actual birthday.  Tuesday is a field trip with Luke's class during the day(which I'm chaperoning)  and Sarah's Confirmation at night.  Wednesday is Ellie's field trip during the day(which I'm chaperoning) and Sarah's CCD end of year show' at night.  Then.....Thursday our house guests arrive and stay until Saturday.  Oh...and Friday is Jon's prom!

Lots of good things that happen to be piled into the same week! Yikes!

If posts are a little scant in the next week or so.....that's why!  Please don't give up on me!  I will be back into the swing of things before long.(I hope!)  And I'm sure I'll have lots of great pics/stories to share!  Really:)

Like this one.....
Luke is so excited that Mike is home from college!  Luke loves spending time with him.  Earlier this week, Luke told Jay....
Luke:  Daddy, I love all my big brothers!
Jay:  That's really sweet, Luke.
Luke:  Yeah, and my big brothers are really big!  Especially, Michael!  He's the biggest!  He's like a Rescue Bot!

Happy Weekend:)

Friday, May 9, 2014

It's the Weekend!

.....and it's Friday again!  Let's jump into Quick Take Friday!

1. May?
The fact that it is May is just blowing my mind!  Starting next week, we are in for a roller coaster ride of a very busy schedule!  I'm trying to enjoy the lull!

2. Night Out
Sarah joined the drama club for their spring musical.  The did Godspell. I went with Ellie on Friday night.  It was interesting...a couple parts that "made me go hmm"...but the cast did a great job.  It was hard work, but Sarah loved it.  (I love that it is over and I have my daughter back!)

crazy costume

Sarah, Ellie and Sarah's friend, Gladys

3.  Who's Watching Who?
Jay stayed home with the littles while I was at the play.  I made sure Kate had a good nap so she wasn't melting down at 7:30 because I wasn't there and she was ready for bed.

When I got home, this was the scene!  Jay and Luke asleep sitting up and Kate laying across Jay's feet watching Umizoomi.  Kate saw me before I could take the pic so she's already scooting off the ottoman saying, "Mommy, you home!"  

(Jon was asleep on the other couch in the room, too, but I didn't take a picture of that!)

4.  Finals Frenzy
Mike and Andrew have been in the midst of finals all week.  Andrew had his last 2 finals yesterday and Mike has his last final today.  They have both worked really hard and we are really proud of them.  Boy, that school year went by fast!

5.  More Lasts
Jon's high school years are winding down quickly!  He took the AP Calculus test yesterday and takes the AP US history test next week.  Finals are the week after for him.....then prom and done until graduation on June 1st!  Another child moving on, growing up, and taking a big step in their lives!  Sniff!

6.  He Said/She Said
We were in church on Sunday and Luke and Kate were having less than stellar days...(i.e. Can you sell children on Ebay?...kidding)
Anyway...At one point I tried to distract Luke...
Me:  Luke, can you pray for Mike that God helps him to get a girlfriend?
Luke:  No
Me:  Why
Luke:  Because girls are stinky!

All right know this story will be repeated to Luke's first girlfriend someday!

7.  Sunday

To all mothers who have birthed babies, adopted babies, or spend their lives mothering nieces, nephews and anyone that God places in their lives......
I hope that God blesses each and every one of you and that you can feel in your heart how much the love you have given over the years has been cherished and multiplied!
...and that you get a nap!:)

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

Throw Back Thursday!  This week I put together a poster board of pictures for Jon to decorate a "wall of fame" that his school has at their afterprom party.  I'm sharing one of my favorites!  Look at that cute little face!  And, yes, this is where his addiction to Smartfood started!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How is it Wednesday already?

Wow!  How did it get to be Wednesday already!

Thankfully, my anxiety levels are much better this week.  I have moments that aren't so pleasant, but I have more moments that are "normal".  I'm still moving forward with being nice to myself and getting help that will hopefully help the panic attacks go away completely!

So...Mother's Day is coming up this weekend!  Originally, I had this big brunch idea in my head with a strawberry theme and recipes already picked out......

.....But, with the panic attack/migraine issue, I have decided to punt because I just don't think I'm up for that.  My parents very generously invited us out to a local restaurant for brunch.(My sister and I always fill all my mom's planters for Mother's Day.)  I talked to my sisters-in-law, and they are going to the brunch, too, and we will take my mother-in-law as well.

Which is great because that means, once lunch is done, we can have the rest of the day to just relax!

(and focus on me:)

I have read multiple bloggers talk about just telling your spouse/kids what it is that you really want for Mother's Day.  They almost never guess right, anyway, even when you drop lots of hints.  It takes the pressure off the guys!  Maybe your guy is different, but most of the guys I know feel lost when it comes to really knowing what's in our heads!

So I did.  I told Jay that for Mother's Day I wanted pizza for dinner and homemade strawberry cupcakes for dessert.  As for a "present", I really want the deck painted and for lattice to be put up around the edges of it.  I have 2 hanging planters and one pot that need to be filled.  Because of the weather, the painting probably won't happen this weekend.  Hopefully, at some point next week, it will be dry enough that the older boys,(Mike and Andrew are done with school this week), can get it done!

Then, the backyard will be ready for our lawn furniture/awning that has been stored away over this looooonnnng winter and for all the friends and family cookouts I hope we will be having!

What's hiding in your head as a Mother's Day wish?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday, Friday, Friday

Joining in with Jen....let's hop to it!

1.  Feeling Better
I am happy to say that I am feeling a lot better than I did earlier in the week.  I'm still not "normal"...(not that I ever really am!)...but functional is a plus!(At least most of the day!)

2.  New Saints
This past Sunday was a special day for the Catholic Church.  Popes John XXIII and John-Paul II became saints.  I feel kind of bad for St. John XXIII having to share the day with JPII, who is well known!

3 &4.  Polish Power
I think that I can go out on a limb and say that JPII is Jay's favorite saint.  Jay has always loved reading about John Paul II and his teachings.  (Just ask the teenagers how many JPII tangents Jay has spun...especially over the last few years!)

Jay feels a special connection to JPII because they both share a Polish heritage.  So, since Sunday was such an exciting celebration and a special day for anyone that is Polish, Jay decided to make potato and cheese perogis with the kids using his Polish grandmother's recipe.

Kate sneaking candy out of the Easter basket while everyone was occupied:)

Sarah getting fancy

Timeout for a little love

#5: Ellie Dressed for the Occasion!

#6:  Divine Mercy 
It was completely fitting that JPII's canonization occurred on Divine Mercy Sunday!  It is one of our family's favorite days!  St. Faustina is one of our favorite saints...and, what a coincidence, she is Polish, too!:)

What better way to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday then with Divine Mercy sundaes!?!

#7:  Still Not Completely Healthy
The winter illnesses continue to follow us into Spring!  Jon was down for the count 2 days this week with a fever virus.:(  He was sleeping on the couch on Thursday afternoon, and Kate put her kitty next to him, stood in the basket of clean, folded laundry, and was singing him 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'.  It was so sweet!
 Then she rubbed his head.(Jon is a sound sleeper.)

Here's hoping for a healthy weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

He Said/She Said with a side of TBT

I read my friend, Colleen's, post today and realized I haven't done and He said/she said's in a while.  So I searched on my phone and found a few that were buried in my inbox.(I email them to myself so that I don't forget before I post them!)

Jay and I brought all the kids sans Andrew and Mike to an outlet mall about a month ago.
Jon:  "All day" and "shopping" should never be next to each other!  One of the levels of hell is just one big outlet mall!

Jon had a bunch of friends over.  They had all been hanging outside.  Jon, Mike and Andrew walked in alone after they left.
Me:  Is it just my biological children left?
Mike and Jon:(who like to tease Andrew that he was adopted because he is the only one with glasses)
Well, except Andrew.
Andrew:(teasing) I hate all of you.

Sarah:  Remember when we found out that Luke liked lasagna and to eat sticks of butter...I was so proud!

Jon(to me):  You have to cool it with the throwback Thursday.
Me:  Why?
Jon:  Because it's 'in' right now so you can't do it. know what that means!  Here's 2 pics for Throw Back Thursday!
Sarah and Jon at the playground on a Vineyard trip:)
I think Jon is  6 and Sarah is 3.

Peter on the same Vineyard trip:)
He is one.

Take that, Jon!