Wednesday, March 25, 2015


3.25.15: My view from my bathroom, as I was getting ready this morning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


3.24.15: "Mom, will you come in and lay down with me for a bit, and maybe cuddle?" Zola said.

I hightailed it over to her, and we snuggled and watched Chopped.

Best evening ever.

Monday, March 23, 2015


3.23.15: Good morning, Spring!

Or not.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


3.22.15: Sweet tumbler... this was our FIRST gymnastics/tumbling meet with Mary Danielle. She was so nervous to perform and be judged by all of these people.

I mean, who wouldn't?!?

But no fear was going to get to her Sunday morning.

I'm so proud of her willingness and ability to get out there on the mat, and do what she has been practicing for months. And then be ready to see the score the judges give her.

My Mary Danielle... a girl with so many talents :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

video

3.21.15: This was my morning... silence is for the weak.

Friday, March 20, 2015


3.20.15: How long do you think I'll be able to hold her like this?

Another 10-15 years?

Good.

That's what I'm going with...

Thursday, March 19, 2015


3.19.15: Time to head home... driving back from the airport, and the girls are already missing warm Florida.

Next stop, Iowa!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


3.18.15: Spring Training game with the Orioles!

I'm going to let you in on a secret... I had no idea this kind of thing existed. 

We had tickets for an Orioles vs. Twins game, which I knew. But I don't know what exactly I was expecting.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I shrieked "Oh my goodness! Look at all of these Orioles fans! And the whole stadium is decked out with cute Orioles decorations! SO CUTE!"

Mitch was all... "Ummm, you know this is the Orioles Spring training facility, right?"

Ummm, no. I did not know that. Thank you for that information.

But it was FUN! And the girls had fun, which is most important.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


3.17.15: A day full of tennis for these girls!

Sadly, Zola is in the hotel sick with the stomach flu, so Mitch took MD and Elsie to the courts for some fun.

Monday, March 16, 2015


3.16.15: OK, FINE! IT WAS AN EXPERIMENT!

I decided, very last minute (I'm on vacation, for Heaven's sake), to change up my hairdo.

Short hair is awesome, but I look the same when I go to the gym every morning and when I go to a fancy schmancy event in the the evening.

I wanted to try something different.

So sue me.

Zola said, "What in the world happened to your hair? Do we not have a functioning hair dryer in this hotel?"

MD said, "MOM! I didn't know you were trying to look like Elvis!"

Elsie just poked at it. Over and over and over.

We were at dinner and I literally had to say, "Elsie, quit poking my hair with your finger."

#stylefail

Sunday, March 15, 2015


3.15.15: Pool day for these mermaids... and that's all we did. For the entire day.


Well, unless you count participating in a belly flop contest. You're looking at the face of the first place finisher.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


3.14.15: So we made it to Florida... this kind greeter was waiting for us upon hotel check-in.

Mitch slept with one eye open the entire night. 

Friday, March 13, 2015


3.13.15: A visit with our friends in Milwaukee... no photos of the parents, but Dez took one of our kids being silly. In times like this, I wish we were neighbors. Shoot, even before times like this, I wish we were neighbors. A very long road of healing awaits, and I hope he knows that we'll be with him every step of the way... if not in person, in spirit.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


3.12.15: Finally a warm-ish day... maybe time to take down the Halloween and Christmas decorations?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


3.11.15: A day full of sadness.

We found out early this morning that our friend, Jacque, passed away during the night. Exactly four months ago today, she was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer. Three weeks ago she hosted a Valentine’s party at her house.

Nothing about this is right.

Jacque’s fiancĂ©e and our dear friend, Dez, is heartbroken. Which, really... breaks our hearts, Mitch's and mine. They met and immediately fell in love, and built a beautiful life together with their boys. They had big plans together – a wedding in July, raising Jacque’s two boys and Dez’s two boys under one roof. A mash-up family at its finest.

"All who have been touched by beauty are touched by sorrow at its passing." —Louise Cordana

Death may be able to end a life, but it cannot end a love.

I looked up at the moon very early this morning; its brightness actually woke me. I believe the warmth of the sun and stars tell us that Jacque is at peace, living a life cancer-free. Whether she was pouring "the world's worse pour" of a beer, or playing tag on a beautiful Iowa fall day, she was a happy woman, living a full life. 

I just wish she could have stayed longer.

3.10.15: One (AND ONLY ONE) thing I will miss about winter are the bald eagle sightings around town. There are days I will see 10-15 soaring above, or perched by the river. Truly majestic animals.

Monday, March 9, 2015


3.9.15: There was a moment at the end of Zola's basketball tournament that I left out of my earlier post.

It was my first experience with an out-of-control, angry and inappropriate parent/coach.

She really doesn't deserve any more of my energy (we were pretty drained afterwards), but I cannot ignore the mark she left on my kids.

This woman came unglued during the game - screaming at the refs and stomping around, making angry gestures and causing quite the scene. After the game, as we were all filing out of the gym, the referee (fairly quietly) said to her, "You really ought to be ashamed of yourself and your behavior."

I froze.

You can probably imagine her reaction.

It was escalated so quickly that some of our team parents had to escort the referee to his car. I did a headcount on my kids, making sure they were close enough that I could usher them away from the craziness quickly if needed.

In case anyone wonders if adult behaviors leave an impression on kids, this photo is an excerpt from Mary Danielle's journal entry from today:

"And then the mom was like 'excuse me' and at the end of it got real nasty I can't even right it down, I'll just say that she wanted the owner of the game, got in a fight with the referee and said real bad words."

And then MD drew a picture of the moment. 

So, nasty-mom-that-said-bad-words, my kid saw you and heard you. She wasn't even that close to you when you had your immature outburst. I hope you had a moment of reflection afterwards, and realized that this is a 4th grade basketball tournament. I hope you've been forgiven by your team and their parents. I hope that your players don't assume this is acceptable behavior, because those players will learn that it is OK to talk to teachers that way, to parents, to bosses.

And most importantly, I hope you don't do it again.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


3.8.15: Wait, so you are telling me... the "wine and spirits" store is now connected to the rest of the grocery store? I don't have to get the kids out of the car, walk with the kids into the grocery store, shop, walk back to the car, put my groceries in the car, walk with kids to the "wine and spirits" store, shop, go back to the car, load said spirits and kids into the car and then go home?

Brilliant, Hyvee, brilliant.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


3.7.15: Rank this with the other things I never expected to experience as a parent... becoming COMPLETELY ENTHRALLED by a 4th grade girl's basketball tournament.

This whole season has been amazing - Zola has improved so much as a player, she's made the sweetest and most wonderful friends, and all of the girls' parents were such a joy to cheer alongside.

Number 5... I'm so proud of you. You joined a team mid-season, didn't know anyone, and you've pushed yourself and worked so hard with these girls AS A TEAM. I honestly believe that you will remember this team, this season, this tournament WIN for the rest of your life.

You might have a number 5 on the back of your jersey, but you are Number ONE to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

11.2.14: Major door-knocking operation running out of Chez Gross this weekend (and the weekend before that, and then weekend before that)... T-minus 2 days and way more outstanding ballots that we should have right now. Don't forget to GET OUT AND VOTE on Tuesday, November 4th!

Friday, October 31, 2014

10.31.14: Celebrating another year of dressing up... Happy Halloween from Ally Disterhoft (Go Hawks!), an enchanted princess (her description, not mine) and a samurai power ranger (her description, not mine).

Friday, October 3, 2014

10.3.14:  Today's Orioles win is celebrated with the bobbleheads...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

7.17.14: Yes, we also took a serious family photo. But this one pretty much captures everything awesome about my family. This was the first time in 5 years that we've ALL been together... as crazy as we can be, there is something so special about these people. I'm so lucky to have grown up with wonderful parents and rad siblings, all made better by the even radder (it's a word) spouses in our lives - Mitch, Greg and Breigh. And then even more super rad by our offspring. The Cloud Family, together. Peace out, Idaho.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7.16.14: A dinner out at the Squeeze Inn in Clark Fork... possibly one of the most quaint dinner venues in the country. Local food and local beer, hand-written receipts, homemade art, al fresco dining, opera songs by our waitress and more stellar family time. Wow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

7.15.14: Family berry-picking contest! Les and Greg own a berry farm, and the fruit is just getting ripe enough to start picking. We paired into teams of two, one adult with one kid. Who can pick the most berries in 15 minutes? MD and Bubba won - brought in almost 2 pints. Darren and Zola were a close second. Breigh and Warren would have done better if Warren hadn't eaten half of the pint before the 15 minutes were up. I'll take a repeat of this night anytime...

Monday, July 14, 2014

7.14.14: A day on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, quite possibly one of the most beautiful lakes I've ever visited. We boated over to a remote beach only accessible by water, ate lunch and spent the afternoon under the warm sun and in the cool, glacier water. The daredevils spent time competing for the fastest speed on the waverunner... Leslie is claiming the title at 49 mph. Mitch was up to 48. I stopped at 27, my perfect speed. Apparently, I'm more pontoon than waverunner.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

7.13.14: We've arrived in Clark Fork, Idaho. Home to my brother (Darren) and Breigh, and also now my sister (Leslie) and Greg and kids. Our first evening was spent on Darren and Breigh's farm, with the plants, animals and family. We grilled on the campfire and watched the kids fall in love with the farm pets. After last night's Full Moon, Darren and his neighbor built a sweat lodge, where we celebrated the super moon and the howling coyotes. There are not enough hours in the day...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

7.12.14: The WORST part about Capitola... leaving. However, more fun times are planned. Up next, Idaho!

Friday, July 11, 2014

7.11.14: Sisters, together at long last :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

7.10.14: Probably the best moment of the week... Elsie had a very loose tooth when we arrived in Capitola. All week, family has been offering to pull it out for her. Finally, today, she marched into our friend's condo and very confidently told Mike and Bob - "I'm ready for you to pull out my tooth. BUT, I want you to pull up, and not forward." So they attached some kite string, pulled up, and out came the tooth. Rumor has it that the Capitola Tooth Fairy is very generous :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

7.9.14: A candy store jaw breaker... one of the most iconic treats in Capitola. Bets are on who can get to the center first. Warren gets my vote!