April 28, 2013

all in one weekend.

George turned 8 on Saturday, April 13th and celebrated his First Holy Communion the very next day.  The weekend was all about George, George, George!  He had a sleepover with a few of his buddies from school that Friday night.  I picked up the boys after school and brought them home.  They played hockey in the backyard (of course), watched the Pirates game on TV, ordered pizza and played Minecraft for maybe two hours before we all fell asleep watching the movie Life of Pi

The Minecraft (or Mind Crap, as I like to call it) was pretty funny.  It started out with just a couple kids playing each other with the boys' iPads, then one kid pulled out his phone and joined in, then I gave another boy my iPad, and then there was another phone that appeared, and before I knew it I was downloading the game onto my phone so that last remaining child had a device with which to play.  Ridiculousness.  But man, to have 6 boys in one room all fairly quiet was amazing.  All I heard was stuff like, "The zombies are coming!" and "Hey, that's my house, don't wreck it!" and "Let's go to the Nether World!"  I have no idea what any of this means, but they seem to understand it like second nature.

And the next morning . . .

 On Sunday, George celebrated his First Holy Communion.  I didn't think I would be as emotional as I was about it, but it's such a special milestone and it made me realize how fast he is growing up.  Turning 8 (which sounds so BIG) and receiving a Sacrament all in one weekend is alot for a mom's heart to bare (dad's too)!  He looked so handsome and grown up in his new suit, and he was very excited for the day.  He wore this necklace under his shirt which we bought during our visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Rheims in Reims, France: 

I will always remember seeing him walk up the aisle in church with all of his classmates with their wide, proud grins (and it goes without saying how adorable the girls looked in their dresses!).  He was just so proud and excited!  They all were!

During Mass he turned around a couple times to get a peek at us with that smile. 

 Bishop Zubik celebrated the Mass with us, which made the day even more special for George to receive his first Communion from him.  George is a very confident little boy, and this moment was no exception.  It was just pure joy.

Walking back down the aisle after Mass:
Afterwards we snapped a few family pictures at the house.

 Caroline loved it.  She loves being told what to do.  She loves being confined.  She loves it when she's outside, but being held back from running free like a bird.  She is very attached to people and just wants to be held.  She never wants to draw attention to herself either.

 Oh, no wait . . . sorry, I have that backwards.  Nevermind.

And more attempts at taking pictures of children:

George with his Godfather, Uncle Tim:

And George couldn't wait to just get out of his fancy clothes and into his play clothes, and CELEBRATE!

April 11, 2013

the acklin army's european invasion.

We bravely ventured with the young ones to Europe for a week recently.  Our travels included a drive to DC, short flight to Philly, long flight to Paris, a drive to Reims, France, followed by visits to Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium, then back to Paris, a long flight to Charlotte, short flight to DC and the drive back to Pittsburgh.  Tired yet?  I'm exhausted!  Don't ask me how we managed.  I couldn't tell you.  But man, am I GLAD we did!  Funny thing is, despite all the time, planning, energy and money, the kids were most excited to see their cousins.  There were lots and lots of tears when we had to leave to come back home.  I'm most grateful for those memories the boys will always have.  Caroline wasn't too interested.  I don't understand this.  I told her on our last night, as she was crying at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, that the next time she visits that spot will probably be with a boyfriend, and how romantic!  She just looked at me and started crying again.  Kevin told her that she better cry.  I don't understand.  Anyway, as I look through the iPhone pictures I managed to take, I realize that I didn't take nearly enough, and also, the ones I did take are quite random!  Here they are:
Ah, there she is.
This pretty much sums up the trip - too many of us, and we're confused.
This is literally the next picture on my phone.
A carousel in Reims, France.
I'm trying to convince the boys to ride with me in the upper level.
Reims, France
Cathedral of Our Lady of Rheims
13th Century cathedral
King Charles VII was crowned here in the presence of Joan of Arc.
Then we drove to Kollweiler, Germany to visit Matt, Ida and kids.  Matt took us to see a castle in Heidelberg.  Caroline became overwhelmed by other tourists.  Both were equally fascinating.
Roaming the streets of Heidelberg, Germany
Later that day we went to an Easter egg shoot in Kollweiler.  The boys shot lazer guns and did very well!  They loved this.  Teddy says it was the highlight of the trip.  Ha!
Ted's score card.  5 out of 5!
Then we enjoyed some schnitzel with Matt and Ida's friends.
Another highlight for Teddy (and his Flat Teddy) - visiting Ramstein Air Base.
Matt took us to the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial.
The only woman to be buried here.
The grave of General Patton.
Then we drove to Belgium and stayed with Lesley and family.  Here is George checking out the hockey standings.  See what I mean?  RANDOM pictures!!!
My brother and my sister!
Love these people!
And the next photo on my phone is . . .
This is across the street from Lesley's house!
Pretty girls in drindls.
Not-so-pretty people in sunglasses.
Easter morning!
Brussels, Belgium
Teddy enjoying a Belgian hot chocolate.
I don't know . . . a famous fountain of a little boy peeing or something.
Lesley and I exploring.  Caroline screaming.
I imagine the conversation will go something like this:
Caroline:  Mom, I want to spend the summer with Aunt Lesley.
Me:  Okay, but don't you want to hang out with me?
Caroline:  Not really.
Me:  Fine. Go. Don't let the door hit you in . . .
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Paris.  The bridge in the background is the one with all the love locks.
Our last meal in Europe - red awning.
Then we went around the corner and ate fresh crepes with Nutella, for dessert.
George tried to take our picture. 
He took 127.  This was the best one.
The last picture.
Right before we left for the airport in Paris.
We had such a great time.  Lots of experiences, and memories made, and we can't wait to get back.  Soon!