Friday, May 29, 2015

Quick Take Friday!

Peter likes to use my phone a lot and takes lots (hundreds!) of random pictures! I was deleting some yesterday.....and realized there are lots of pics that I've taken and then they just live in my phone forever!

So today, I'm sharing a bunch!  Photos are they fit right into Quick Take Friday!

#1: Peter pics
a pic of Peter holding his ipad with a bus pic

Peter is obsessed with pics of St. Anthony's Church

Randon Donkey

Pic of a bus...another obsession

A pic of a pic of himself

Tractors...another Peter obsession
 #2: Sarah

This was taken in a store during her surprise bday trip to Newport!
 I ended up going back before we left and got her the hat to surprise her with on her actual birthday!
 I should have gotten the glasses, too!

 #3: Jon
This was Jon's last day of his first year of college!
His face tells you how thrilled he is that I took it!
 #4:  Generations
This is a pic Kate and I took with my grandfather at a cookout over Memorial Day weekend!
Pepere is 92 and still going strong!
He was in the Navy during WWII and was on one of the supply ships at D-Day.
 His ship was on the way to Japan when the war ended.
He has lots of stories...some very funny and many horribly tragic!
Even at 92, talking about the friends he lost and seeing people die makes him all choked up!
Veterans never forget!
 #4: Legos!
Luke is still obsessed with Legos!  The benefit of being the younger brother with older brothers that also had/have a Lego obsession is that they let him play with things they have kept over the years! In typical boy fashion,one of them had/made an outhouse.  Luke thought it was hysterical to line all the Lego guys up like they were waiting for a turn!

#5:  The Graduation

I took most of the graduation shots with my good camera...but here's a phone pic of my very happy graduate!

Cutie pie Kate who did awesome during the long rides and the 2.5 hour graduation ceremony!

Even a couple shot...a proud dad and mom!
  I still can't believe that we are parents to a college gratuate!?!
Mike gave Jay this sweatshirt at Christmas,
but Jay didn't want to wear it until Mike officially made it through successfully!

#6:  Mulch Man!

Luke LOVES mulch!
 He was psyched when my parents had a giant pile of  mulch delivered!
He got right outside to help!

#7:  Kate

 These 2 pics sum up Kate perfectly!  She's like the gummy bear commercial..."First they're sour, then they're sweet!"  I think she's pouting in the pic bc she didn't want Jay to take it! Lol

She's cute when she wants to be!  Which is most of the time, thankfully!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Awesome Memorial Day

We had a totally awesome Memorial Day Weekend! Three day weekends don't happen very often so they are a treat....but this weekend just took the cake!

The previous two weekends had been jam packed between Sarah's Surprise Sweet 16 and Mike's Graduation from college!  So a 3 day weekend with no big committments felt sooooo good!  Having perfect weather just made it that.much.better!

We FINALLY had a chance to get to some items on our long-neglected to-do list on Saturday!  On Sunday, we went to Mass and had the whole day to just relax and spend time as a family before a cookout with my parents at night....and make desserts! An apple crisp, chocolate chip cheesecake, and a red, white, and blue Flag Cake were all created....and devoured by the end of Monday night at the cookouts we were invited to!

THE best feeling is on Sunday night of a long weekend when you know you get to spend another day together as a family on Monday!

On Monday, Jay and I took our younger half to a local parade.  Our good friends happen to live on the parade route, and invited us to come watch!  Family time AND time with friends...yes, please! It was a lot of fun!
Luke...festive and excited!

Our awesome hosts, Phil and Colleen...and their cutie pie, Declan! (their youngest..for now;)
I get to watch Declan a couple of days each week...he is such a good little guy!
We all love having him here!

Kate and Luke

The kids ready and waiting!

Peter came with us...which is always an adventure!
We are blessed to have so many friends that are so accepting of Peter!

The Girl Scouts were throwing candy and Kate couldn't manage to snag any bc the older kids were so much quicker!
One of the girls noticed what happened and came back and handed Kate a lollipop!
So Sweet!

This is how Colleen and I look most of the time!
Keepers of the memories....avoiders of the camera.....
(I'm going to be in trouble for this shot!;)

Ellie is very Patriotic...even with her eyes closed!

Daddy and his little girl!

A little later on in the day we went to another friend's house for a cookout!  It was so exciting to be invited out to 2 different places on the same day! I was giddy! I am so blessed to have lots of great friends!

It was such a great weekend!  I felt so relaxed and recharged on Monday night.  I was sad to see it end, but grateful for all of the blessings!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Graduate

Welcome to 7 Quick Take Friday!  I CANNOT wait for this three day weekend to start!  It's such a needed rest around here!  The last two weekends were c.r.a.z.y.(!) between Sarah's birthday, Mother's Day, and Mike's graduation and graduation party!  I'm looking forward to some nice family time, actually getting some cleaning and projects off the to do list, and just having lots of unplanned, care free timelessness!

Jay and I are so proud of our firstborn!  Mike graduated from high school 4 years ago unsure of what he wanted to pursue as a career.  So he decided to go to our local community college, BCC.  He spent 2 years there taking classes and playing on their basketball team.  He did exceptionally well....graduated with a 3.9 GPA and received a great scholarship to go to Assumption College where he planned to major in history and education.

Assumption has been super helpful since Mike applied there!  It was very important that he graduate in two years because he did not want to bury himself in student loans! There's so much to learn in the world of college admissions, financial aid, transferring, and core requirements!  All of his BCC credits transferred, but not all of them "fit" into the core requirements needed for graduation at Assumption. #firstbornproblems #he'stheguineapig

Thankfully, we sat down with someone before Mike even sent in his final acceptance and she showed us what exactly he would need for graduation!  (did I mention they were super helpful!)

So, Mike took 3 summer classes before he entered Assumption in the Fall of 2013.  Then, he moved away from home for the first time and started as a Junior at Assumption!  There was a lot of transition!  Thankfully, Mike ended up with an awesome roommate who was also a transfer student.  Mike loved living on such a beautiful campus.

It was not all smooth sailing!  Transferring in as a junior meant that the classes were more intense and difficult.  Because he was a transfer student, his GPA did not transfer over with him so he had no cushion to rely on.  He did 'ok' the first semester...but finished with a 2.9 GPA.  He needed to be above a 3.0 for his scholarship and, thankfully, he brought up his grades by the end of the school year!

In the Fall of 2014, Mike headed back as a senior and all the classes he needed had to be taken in a certain order if he was going to graduate this year!  Jay and I did lots of praying...there was no wiggle room for any sort of error!  He hit a huge snag when one of the classes he needed wasn't offered in the fall....but he was able to take it at a neighboring college!  Phew!  He had to keep up his GPA in order to student teach in the spring...again, lots of prayers and holding our breath.  But he did it!

Even the Spring of 2015 was stressful bc he had to student teach AND find a religion course later in the school day that would fit in his schedule.  The first one he found got cancelled!  The ONLY other course he could possibly take had a pre-requisite. So emails were sent and phone calls made and in the end, the professor allowed him to sign into the course!

 It was a crazy ride that we weren't sure would end the way it was originally planned!  By God's Grace, everything fell into place and Mike is now a Graduate of Assumption College with a double major in History and Education.  He is now spending his time sleeping in and submitting applications and his resume to various school systems in the area in his quest for a teaching job in the middle school or high school levels!

So where the heck are the 7 quick takes?!? Here are my 7 favorite pics from Mike's graduation day!

Mike and his buddy, Luke!

Mike with Jay's Mom

Mike with my parents

Luke wanted to be in every pic!

The 'Sibs" sans Peter, who hung out with my sister for the day!

the graduate

Congrats, Mike!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Quiet Celebration

It's funny how just a few hours makes such a big difference in what we remember and celebrate!

Yesterday, my attention was on making Sarah's 16th birthday celebration with our families special for her.  I ran to the grocery store for ingredients, made homemade chowder, cod, and mashed a little takeout for her favorite Gold Fever Wings from 99!  (Strange combo I know, but it's what she asked for!) Cake was provided by Jay's mom special a little ice cream including Sarah's favorite flavor, cookie dough. (Or as Kate calls it, Cooooooo-kie Dough!) There were gifts from family and some surprise gifts: from me, (a hat she had eyed in Newport during her surprise birthday celebration) and from dad(Which he picked out all on his own! The Soup Bible..bc she loves soup...and a gift card to JoAnn Fabrics..bc she loves to sew...and a gift card to Panera...bc she loves soup and bread(!)...and her favorite chocolates...just bc.)  Sarah had a good birthday!

Today is another birthday in the Hamel house.  The celebration looks much different, though.  There is no shopping for gifts or ingredients for a favorite meal.  There is no family cake or presents.

Therese would have been 17 today.

I've found myself contemplating a lot today about how to honor the memory of someone that lived such a short time but will forever hold a piece of my heart.  When Therese first died, it was so important to me that everyone that asked how many kids I had knew that she counted, too.  After a while, though, it was just too painful, (for me), and too awkward, (for people that asked), to include her in the number when people asked how many children we had.  At least out loud.  Even now, after 17 years, when people ask how many children I have, I may say 8 out loud, but in my head and heart I say 9.

The first few years after she died, we would get roses and go as a family to put them on her grave.  It was emotionally wrenching for most of us, especially Michael, whenever we went....and just dragged up a lot of grief and sadness for everyone that it was something that faded away over time.  It didn't mean we didn't acknowledge her short life....just not always in a very visible way.  We certainly never forgot!

There were small, joyful moments in her very short 16 day life.  I am very grateful for every one of them. I'm grateful for the Sacraments she received, the day I got to dress my very first daughter in a little girl's preemie outfit, (so different from all the boys clothes I was used to!) that had been donated to the hospital by parents who had navigated the long road of the NICU before us, being able to bring her home and have her sleep in the brand new crib we had bought just for her, even if it was for only one night......

There was also a lot of grief that filled us when she died. It shattered our hearts when she took her last breath.  For a long time our hearts were held together with duct tape and the need to put one foot in front of the other to care for the 3 little boys that needed us!  I can say with great conviction that God's grace was very visible and tangible to us during that difficult time:  the family and friends that supported us, the God-incidences that shined through even the darkest moments of our grief to remind us that He was there and somehow, even if we couldn't see it or feel it, everything would be ok!

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

When she had first died, a very good priest had told us, "You are closest to your loved ones that have passed away at Mass in the moment of consecration.  Because, as the priest holds up the Eucharist and we worship Him, there is just a thin veil that separates all of our loved ones.  They are just on the other side of that veil worshiping Him at the very same time."

So today, Andrew, Jon, and Kate came to Mass with me.  It was a way for me to thank God for her short life. I am so grateful that I never have to worry about Therese.  I know that she is eternally happy with Him.

I just wanted her to know that she will always be a part of us....and that I would never, ever forget.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sweet Sixteen!

Today is a special day!  Our Sarah is 16!  16 is a big year for girls, especially!  All my kids have looked forward to getting their permit, (shudder, shudder!), but Sarah has really looked forward to this birthday!

Sarah mentioned months ago that she wanted to have a party.  She's been disappointed that all of her close friends have chosen to turn 16 without any "fanfare"!  I wanted to do SOMETHING to surprise her....but I really agonized over what!  I was working on a very limited budget!

April sped by so fast that I had to hurry and plan something!  Sarah's friend, Francesca, was my liaison to the girls I was inviting from her class.  I decided on a sleepover from Friday into Saturday...and then on Saturday I took the girls to Newport for high tea and shopping.

I wasn't sure I could keep it a secret....but somehow it worked out!  At one point, Sarah even asked me if she could plan a sleepover birthday party....which was perfect because it kept her focus on planning and I got some inside details of ideas she had without fear of making her suspicious!

It all went smoothly and Sarah had so much fun with her friends!  The goal was to make her feel as special as she is to us....and I think we succeeded!

Here are a bunch of pics!
Table set for the special occasion!  I was going for a sophisticated princess look!

Jay's mom made the beautiful centerpieces.  Lanterns were $1 each from The Christmas Tree shop!
 I got some fun, fancy "looks like glass" plastic cups with a matching pitcher with a gift card I had to Marshall's.

coming into the surprise

happy and surprised

Sarah with Grandma

Peter is very excited, too!(mostly for cake!)

Jay's mom made the beautiful cakes and cupcakes, too!

Singing Happy Birthday!

After Friday night fun, Saturday am started with pancakes, bacon, and fruit....and then getting all dressed up for our adventure!
Ready to go!

Playing dress-up in a vintage consignment shop while we waited for our reservation!

just for fun!

All the girls got to pick their own tea cup from the owner's collection!

The girls were so excited and chatty!  They had fun doing something "fancy".
They are such a good group of girls...all very positive and happy!
They even all prayed grace on their own before they ate!
I'm so grateful for good friends for Sarah!

Walking around Newport...the tulips were amazing!

fun pics..."wafting"

Strike a pose!

The Birthday Girl!

Sarah filled our empty arms and brought so much healing to our family when she was born 16 years ago today!  She was always a laid back, happy baby!  I don't think we ever brought her to the "cry room" in church because she was always content to sit on Daddy's lap and snuggle!(and,yes, all of our girls have him wrapped around their matter what he says!) Sarah is spiritual, smart, driven, creative and such a joy to be around!  She is best known around here for her chocolate chip cookies, singing princess songs with her sisters, and enduring our teasing for her nerd side and her love of all things math, physics (which she is teaching herself for fun), and her brain book(which she reads for fun)!  We can't imagine life without her!

Happy 16th Birthday, Sarah!