May 17, 2014

All will be well

Dan Lyons, a dear friend of ours, has lost his 5 year battle to cancer this morning. I have no doubt that he shot straight like an arrow to Heaven with Mary holding him and presenting him to Jesus. My heart is full of sadness and my eyes tears for his family and beloved wife at their loss of their amazing Dan. 

I had the honor of working with Dan at Ave Maria University in the department of Student Life. And whenever, and I mean every. single. time, Dan walked into a room it would automatically light up. His presence, bright smile, kind words, or funny joke always left me and anyone who was around feeling better about themselves. 

When I close my eyes and remember the many times I had conversations with Dan in my office or at a staff meeting my heart smiles with joy. As his friend he made me feel special, feel loved-- a feeling that I have never forgotten and continues to this very day each and every time I think of him. The thing is, though, I am one of thousands who feel this way about Dan and have been touched so deeply by his friendship. He is one of the truest testaments of being God's smile, God's love, and God's joy that I have ever encountered.  

My heart has been crying for weeks now as I have followed his story and fight with cancer. My friend Ann and I have been leaning on each other through texting and she put it so well this morning when she wrote to me: "So tragic and beautiful all mixed together." 

Dan has suffered so greatly with and through Jesus for over 5 years now and he has been such an inspiration to so, so many of us. But not only did Dan suffer, I have witnessed his wife Hanna (through her writings on their blog) fight and suffer with him. Though I have never met Hanna, she has selflessly made so many feel apart of Dan's battle through her words and pictures. Her example of true love and self sacrifice is one that I will never forget.  
Hanna and Dan Lyons
Dan and Hanna's motto throughout the last 5 years of their battle with his cancer has been "All Will Be Well". And now as the fight is over and Dan is with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints and angels, all is truly well.

Dan Lyons, please pray for us.

May 15, 2014

Tea Time with Gracie Girl

It is with many pink and sparkly smiley faces that I have the pleasure of announcing that our Gracie girl is now 4 years of age! Our lil' chatter box has been talking about her birthday for the past 365 days, give or take a few, so we were all more than ready to celebrate when the day came. 

Da Gracie girl woke up to a decorated breakfast nook, then breakfast of her choice- Matt's famous egg n' a holes, affirmations from all of us, and a treasure hunt of gifts to find and open. 

*Sigh* The sleepy eyed look gets me every time. 

After her morning bliss it was on to her Princess Tea Party that I have been thinking about doing since ~oh I dunno know~ she was practically born! Four of her lil' friends and their moms joined us for this special tea party, in which I happily googled, planned, and shopped for weeks in order to create a most perfectly pink and girly atmosphere. When Grace walked in the doors to her party she was left speechless (*ahem* an extremely rare occasion) and just walked around looking and gawking at everything. In that moment the short 4 hours of sleep that I got the night before made it all worth it. 

A huge thanks to my mom who hosted the party at her beautiful home, cooked and decorated with me until 1 am and then was up and at em' an hour and half before all the girls and moms got there. Thanks mom!

Now onto an overload of photos, because I don't want to forget anything and because I have no sense of restraint when it comes to posting pics. 
Some Grammy love. 
Cooking decorating. 
Necklace Making.
Tea Cup Painting. 
Cousin Mia
Dress Up Relay. 
Happy birthday, sweet Grace. 
Our family would not be the same without you. Your laughter, never ending talking, and dancing brighten all of our lives every single day!

May 1, 2014

Still celebrating Easter over here!

Oh Naples how we have missed thee!
Our lil' family had just the best time in our old stomping grounds for Easter break and I am not going to lie some (or a lot) of tears were shed when we had to come back home. 

I shared some of these pictures in my fav social media outlet, da Instagram, but just had to share here as well since we are still celebrating Easter! 
My happy place...
Really does it get any better than hanging out at the beach. Nope, I didn't think so.
Babe on the beach!
After she got over her fear of the sand for the 100th time, her favorite thing to do was to give me the gift of sand, which was the gift that kept on giving and giving...and giving. 
My other babe on the beach!
The three biggers and I took a long mile walk on the shore and Gracie carefully found and picked up each and every shell that is in this here starfish sand toy. The shells now still remain one of her most dearest treasures. 
Surfer dudes. 
Love this view...
Her cuteness, it gets me every time. 
Me and my #4 chick. 
Crazy's on the beach. 
Nothing better than when he is happy. 
Da boys. 
Isaiah loves to be styling and this hat hit just the right spot for him. 
The Easter bunny generiously spent 5 dollars in what turned out to make me curse over and over under my breath. $1 kites from Target. Don't buy one. Out of the 5 kites only one took flight. And thank God we got that one to fly without directions (thanks to YouTube and my patient husband).   
Hopie girl was a complete natural at the kite flying :). 
Seriously, this sea creature they found was CraZy.
Hope had her first French braids done by Aunt Katrin for Easter Mass.

I fought hard for a girls pic and totally lost. 
The before Easter Mass Family picture, if only I had an after mass pic to follow up with-- I am sure it wouldn't have been quite as pretty!