Summmmer!

When the kids brought home all their school supplies and I went through them I found this little note in Jack’s pencil box…


When asked about it he said it was from a little girl in his class named Mila. Judd said Mila has good taste in men. ūüėä




Two kids lost teeth in this house yesterday and they were both so pleased. 


We swam in the pool yesterday despite the freeeeezing temp of 70 degrees! They lasted about ten minutes…


Then we set up the tent and had a picnic outside with chicken, strawberries, toast and root beer.




We were having the best time. Relaxing on a beautiful evening on the comfort of air mattresses in the backyard, reading books and cuddling. 

It got darker, we turned on our battery lantern and were about to go to bed and it started sprinkling! We always leave the roof uncovered,  it’s just a screen to see the stars. So I yelled, “Let’s go! Teamwork! Let’s bring this stuff in!” The kids were giggling and by 10:00 the tent was emptied and taken down. There were some tears later when Natalie was sad and told me how much she loves sleeping in the tent, but I explained to them that when we have lemons we make lemonade (plus, there may have been some chocolate involved). 

On island time

As you leave Ft. Myers you go over a very high bridge and then you look out over a three mile bridge… with the blue sky and blue water all around you and two islands in the distance, this picture does not do it justice. It’s stunning. 

The island is quiet and relaxed and so much of it is preserved for wildlife. As Jack said, “This is a jungle!” Sometimes all you see around you is the beautiful vegetation. After seeing all the palm trees Charlie took a sudden interest in coconuts and we found them at the grocery store for $1.39 each.


Natalie dropped her coconut on the way to the car, which was fortunate because it cracked a little and after a couple more attempts at hitting it on our deck, it opened! We drank a little of the coconut water and Judd started scooping out bites.





Jack was not too pleased with his bite of coconut!



Charlie’s been into drawing lately and even included thought bubbles for Superman!


And yesterday he used a broken shell to draw our family in the sand!


The kids have spent three days in the pool and at the beach and they show it with their little red cheeks. Every night they are hungry and exhausted and sleep very well!




I love Jack’s little smirk here. The plants and trees here are so unique when you come from good ole Nebraska. A lot of trees have large colorful flowers on them or are mangled and gnarly like this one. 


We enjoyed our last morning on a sparkling beach… 




Yes, this island is hard not to like. 

Sanibel Island

We are enjoying beautiful Sanibel Island as Judd recovers from his hernia surgery. It’s paradise!


Judd had his surgery on Tuesday and I traveled with the three kids by myself on Friday. They were so good and it was just a lot of fun.

Some fun memories so far:

As our first flight was taking off, the plane began to speed up and Jack looked at me and said, “Final boarding call!”

Charlie acted scared during takeoff then finally relaxed and exclaimed, “God’s holding up the plane!”

Natalie sat with two strangers across the aisle from me and they were laughing and giving her so much heck. They called her George the whole flight. I heard the man say to her, “You’re pretty scrawny for a 16 year old.” And when she told them she wasn’t 16, they asked her how she got to the airport and on and on the questions came at her. They kept pestering her about why she didn’t have a job. And then when the stewardess came by to tell Natalie to push her backpack all the way under the seat, the man said, “Oh thanks! You’re already getting us into trouble!”

The panels on the wings went up when we were slowing down during landing and you could see a lot of gears and gadgets. Charlie yelled, “That’s where the batteries are!”



We get to spend time at the ocean and there’s a pool hotel as well. One morning Charlie was running and jumping into the pool. One time he grabbed his legs, tucked them into his arms (doing a cannon ball) and yelled, “Bowling ball!”

Judd is recovering and getting better every day. He takes walks and ices down his incisions and we have a follow up appointment on Monday.


And the shelling is really good here. Jack found some great shells this morning. 

Those random days

Some of the best moments are on those ordinary days… when you’re not on vacation and you don’t have company and life reveals a glimpse of heavenly joy.

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Like these spring evenings when homework is done, supper has been eaten, and there is another hour before the sun goes down.

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The kids twist up their swing and jump on and grab hold. ¬†And they giggle and scream…

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Those days when they all try to take on their dad in a wrestling match and just can’t quite seem to keep him down! ¬†Judd was having a great time…

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When they roll around with you on the grass and laugh with their silly pup…

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When you find this little paper man taped up on the wall in your piano room. ¬†And you don’t know who made it or put it there and you realize two months later, it’s become a permanent decoration.

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When you walk outside to get in the car and realize your kids had time to make some chalk pictures before school.

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And when your preschool son suddenly takes a real interest in drawing.

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When you look back on those pictures taken one fall afternoon playing in the leaves and realize how thankful you are for the change of seasons!

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Birthday parties by the firepit after a Saturday of eating…

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And those relaxed days when you have enough time to beat your daughter at UNO.

Yes, those random days are quite the best.

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This particular day I was having a rough evening and Natalie made me so proud. ¬†I can’t even remember the circumstances but she just rolled up her sleeves and helped me. ¬†And then, when all the work in the kitchen was done she went out rollerblading with Charlie in the rain with her raincoat on. ¬†And I had to take a picture. ¬†She’s a treasure.

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Judd and the kids and I went for a hike up C Hill in Chadron over Easter.  It was beautiful and it makes me look forward to our weeks spent in western Nebraska over the summer.  IMG_2785

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And let’s finish with a look into our everyday life here in the Norman household. ¬†Civilized, not really. ¬†Calm, most of the time: no. ¬†But there’s no shortage of excitement and hopefully lots of kindness… and love. ¬† ¬†Here’s one of my favorite pictures of Jack with his puffy vest on and only underwear and socks. ¬†Yelling. ¬†And flexing his muscles. ¬†This is what you will find on almost any random day in our house. ¬†And I like it a lot.

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We did it!

After training for eight months (it would have only been five months but our first race got canceled) I have ran over 300 miles and completed my first half marathon! ¬†I have always wanted to run a half marathon and yet I never signed up for one. ¬†That’s a big goal and unless someone really wants to run with me, how could I find the time?

Enter: Samantha.  Since Samantha was hired to work at Disney World for a semester she wanted to stay active and stay in shape and we were going to end her time there with a half marathon.  The race in January ended up being canceled due to lightning and Samantha ended up staying to work at Disney for another semester.  And so on the morning of April 23, 2017 we woke up at 3:45 am, drank lots of water, ate some breakfast (bread and peanut butter) and walked to the start line.

The first group of racers (the fast ones) left the start line at 5:30 am. ¬†There were fireworks as each group of runners left the start line and there were runners in costumes and emcee’s telling jokes, it was quite fun. ¬†Finally around 6:00 am our group was up to the start line and they let us begin!

It was still dark out and there were street lights to show the way but oh- the crowds of people!  There must have been 10 to 20,000 people running.  And we were already dripping sweat at mile one since it was 70 degrees and very humid.  We stopped at every mile to drink a half cup of water which was recommended because of the heat.

Finally, around mile 4 the sun started coming up and at mile 5 we ran through Animal Kingdom, a Disney park.

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We look so happy at mile 5!  I love this picture because we were having so much fun and our legs are at the same position!  Samantha and I have about the same pace and run well together.

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This next picture is around mile 10 in Hollywood Studios. ¬†Before we entered this park, I said, “Samantha, I really want to walk!” And she agreed she was tired too, but we pushed through and kept running. ¬†It’s funny because in a long run there are moments when you get sooo tired and then a half mile or a mile later you realize you feel pretty good. ¬†There are a lot of ups and downs in your energy level.

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This picture was sometime during mile 11 and we were doing relatively well.  This race was Star Wars themed and there were even storm troopers along the way that we gave high fives to!  When we saw a photographer waiting, we would of course pose and laugh, and we were excited to be near the end.

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And this is me at about 12.5 miles. ¬†Clearly, I was dying! ¬†At this point Samantha kept the same pace and didn’t realize I was falling further and further behind as my legs quietly whispered to me, “Please walk… it’s time… to walk… please!” ¬†I was watching Samantha about 20 yards ahead of me and when she realized I was slowing down she started jogging in place and waiting for me. ¬†I tried to wave her on and say, “Just keep going!” ¬†She was so sweet and waited for me. ¬†I walked for about a minute three different times and then we’d start running again. ¬†And finally, finally, we saw the finish line. ¬†I got the chills ¬†when I laid eyes on the finish line and then started running without effort. ¬†It’s funny how the mind works.

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The blue and red strip is the finish line. ¬†Samantha is beaming and I’m looking around for Judd and Sophie and the kids to wave to them! ¬†Ahh, victory!

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I don’t care for medals that much but when¬†a volunteer put that medal around my neck I felt like I had earned it. ¬†It was a happy moment! ¬†They had water and powerade at the finish line, bananas and cold rags to put on your face. ¬†It was heavenly. ¬†Harrison had finished the race long before us and we met up with Judd, Sophie and the kids. ¬†We had breakfast at the hotel when we returned and I drank the best latte and ate the most delicious Mickey Mouse shaped waffle I’d ever eaten. ¬†Everything tasted amazing. ¬†What’s funny is that during my training, oftentimes after a ten mile run my stomach would be upset the rest of the day. ¬†But after the half marathon my stomach felt great. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I thought I was going to throw up during mile 12, but after we finished the race my stomach was fine. ¬†And I ate almost a whole pizza that afternoon in downtown Disney. ¬†And even after that pizza, my stomach felt amazing!

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The kids had been so patient while we spent two and half days traveling and preparing for the race.  So after breakfast and a shower we went to Magic Kingdom!  We watched a singing show at the castle, we rode Splash Mountain, Peter Pan ride, Dumbo ride, and more.  It was hot and humid and very fun.

I am so thankful Samantha asked me to run this race with her. ¬†Would I run another? ¬†Maybe next year. ¬†Maybe. ¬†And I’ll post more pictures of our trip and some recent pictures from home soon. ¬†YAY Samantha!!!!

 

A bike ride

Grandma came down to visit and Judd and I got some needed time away. ¬†And…. Grandma brought a bike for Charlie! ¬†He hopped on and started riding! ¬†So today Charlie, Lucy and I took our first bike ride, just the three of us.

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Riding with these two in this beautiful spring weather was the best.

Judd and I really enjoyed New York City!  What a place.  It smells like cement and car fumes and wafts of stale water and halal food.  But its full of people bustling and working their tails off, no end of good food or different cuisines to try, musicians in the park, and museums to stroll through.

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In Times Square, the crossroads of the world.

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Judd and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I couldn’t get enough of these paintings. ¬†Some of them look like a window you could open and be able to crawl right into their world. ¬†This sunset was striking.

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And then there were Monet’s and Picasso’s and my favorite- Van Gogh. ¬†The painting above is a Van Gogh.

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This is another Van Gogh and my favorite in all the museum. ¬†I love the white flecks in the sky and the trees, the purple in the dirt, the red flecks in the clouds. ¬†I don’t think the picture really does it justice but he has the most unique way and it is fun to see a pictures with so many different lines and colors all come together.

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Judd and I bought tickets to ride a boat out to the Statue of Liberty.  However, it was raining and the boat was overcrowded.  We took one look inside and got back off the boat.  We walked through the wind and rain (my umbrella turned inside out) and we stopped to warm up at a little Cuban restaurant.  We were so cold at this point!  And we ordered a real cuban sandwich, Spanish coffee, empanadas, plantains, and yucca.  It was all really good.

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The yucca.  It was like a potato.

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The plantains are the dark brown, they are like a banana that isn’t very sweet. ¬†And the empanadas had chicken in them. ¬†We also tried an empanada with guava and cheese in it for dessert. ¬†It was unbelievably good!

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It’s funny how a change of plans can turn out to be a great memory. ¬†I loved this meal with Judd. ¬†Here he is with a three-milk cake and the empanada with guava and cheese.

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On our last morning Judd and I met some friends and ate at The Loeb Boathouse, overlooking the lake in central park.  Our breakfast was delicious and we so enjoyed visiting with Greg and Kimberly!  Kimberly is a stewardess for American Airlines and Greg works at Fox News so they had lots of interesting stories.

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Greg took us inside Fox News to see some of the studios! ¬†It was so fun! ¬†We couldn’t take many pictures inside unfortunately but we did get a couple.

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Here’s Judd sitting in an anchor’s chair and watching himself on TV! ¬†He looks like a natural doesn’t he? ¬†“This just in…”

And then we flew home. ¬†It’s always so good to be back home.

Mom helped me in the yard before our trip and she did so many things to help me around the house. ¬†It is so refreshing to go on a trip and then come home to everything in ship-shape!! ¬†Of course I helped her on the yard work but she did so much and took care of the kids too. ¬†We had considered taking the kids with us to New York but they were much, much more excited to hang out with Grandma. ¬†You really take care of us mom! ¬†(How’s your tennis elbow?!)

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Don’t worry, I did help her. ¬†ūüôā

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Charlie driving on the driveway after church on Sunday.

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Look at those beautiful eyes.  Natalie made a little science experiment and made a ring out of pipe cleaners and crystals.

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Will the tree climbing never end? ¬†I used to think it was so good for them, but since Charlie has fallen out of two trees I question my judgement at this point. ¬†Can you see them way up above the five foot fence and in the top of the tree? ¬†They were having a great time! ¬†I gotta say, if you’re gonna climb trees, this is a great one.

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Just hanging out.

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Sophie took Roma to Zesto, an ice cream shop, over the weekend and I think it is the most beautiful picture I’ve ever seen of her. ¬†Oh, Roma, life sure is sweet.

This is Disney…

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Do you see the look of fear??

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Imagine floating along Splash Mountain and enjoying the scenery and story line when suddenly you are lifted up to a view of all of Magic Kingdom and for a split second you enjoy it until being pulled down at tremendous speed to a pool of water 52 feet below. ¬†It’s almost fun.

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The kids loved it!!  Natalie is sitting between Sophie and Harrison, you can see her mop of blonde hair.

We had so much fun!

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Jack got a joke book at the Omaha airport and read us jokes while we waited.  His comedic timing was a little off!

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Look how happy those girls are!

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Two things that I won’t forget about our plane flights to Orlando- Roma screaming progressively louder as the plane took off for the first time, and the oxygen masks dropping down in Harrison and Charlie’s seat. ¬†Good times.

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Our time there was such a blur.  But I do remember this was our first morning in Magic Kingdom and our first time (of many!) up Splash Mountain.

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Pool time was such a blast.  They would play music and games in the afternoons.  There was a slide that the kids went down at least 100 times.  And they even had activities- Natalie made her own tie-dye shirt with a mickey mouse on it. The picture above is after I realized Charlie was missing and I found him at a different pool participating in a hula hoop contest.

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Samantha, Judd and I had to pick up our racing packets the day before the race.  We were so excited!  16,000 people were entered to run in the half marathon.

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The night before the race we all went out for pizza.

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Some of my favorite pictures were riding the bus, boats, and monorail to our next destination.  Just being together and having almost everyone with us was a lot of fun!

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The next day our race was cancelled. ¬†But we ended up doing guys’ night and girls’ night. ¬†The boys (pictured above) went to Hollywood Studios and the girls headed to Magic Kingdom.

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Natalie got the surprise of her life when we got to go inside Cinderella’s castle and Natalie’s own fairy godmother got her all dressed up!

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Then we took Roma and Natalie to see some princesses.

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Natalie said this was the best night of her life.

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How sweet is this?? ¬†You can’t see her eyes, but you can sure see her smile.

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Meanwhile Jack and Charlie caught site of Princess Sophia and had to meet her!

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Although I wasn’t there, I was told Charlie ran the gamut of emotions with Princess Sophia: excitement, joy, regret, embarrassment and then promptly told me that he never wanted to see Princess Sophia again. ¬†Poor kid.

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Two good daddies and their girls.

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One of my favorite parts is when the kids get to meet a character and they run up for a big hug!

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A lot of magic for these lucky kids.

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They even got to train to be a jedi and fight Darth Vader!

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It was a wonderful trip.

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Judd, thanks for a lovely trip and for supporting me and helping me train for this race… ¬†I love our family and look forward to more Disney trips!

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