Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Bucket List :: June Catch Up

June went by in such a blur, but I forgot to post all the fun things we did!

I blogged about Tutti Fruitti, our visit with Grandpa in Tucker, Pawleys Island, and our dance recital, but that wasn't all we did!

We had a generous MOMS Club member invite us all to parent's lake house in King's Mountain, NC. We had a blast!

Then we celebrated the upcoming wedding of our good friends Sara and Hal! We can't wait for their wedding in August!

At the end of the month, we attended the End of Year MOMS Club celebration to thank all the executive officers that have worked so hard all year. I am SO glad I joined again!

June was filled with ups and downs, but we'll choose to remember the good things :)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Bucket List :: Carowinds

I am so far behind on my blog so expect a bunch of catch up posts coming soon. However, I wanted to start with our most recent adventure: Carowinds. We love this place but only go once a year. It's 80 minutes away and pretty darn expensive if you count 5 tickets plus food all day for everyone.

Poor Jayce has been sick all week and was such a trooper. He felt okay in spurts so he did ride a few things throughout the day, but the majority of the time you could find him sitting on a bench.

Jocelyn is our resident thrill seeker. She was *just* tall enough to get a 40 inch tall bracelet (according to the Bruster's sign, she's only 39 inches!) so she could ride the Woodstock Express. It's a real roller coaster in Planet Snoopy. She rode it 3 times before one of the workers questioned whether or not she was actually tall enough. She pitched a royal fit when she was asked to leave on the 4th attempt.

As for Jaina and myself, we rode The Cyclone, The Hurler, The Ricochet, The Mine Train, and the Vortex. The Afterburn and Night Hawk's lines were too long. I made Brian go on the Intimidator with her because I'm a chicken and I hate big drops. (But I don't mind going upside down. I know... I'm weird!)

All in all, we had a good time.

All pictures from my phone:

We get a picture of Jayce every year. He's finally over 54" and he was too sick to ride any of the good roller coasters! He totally needs a do-over.

Jayce did feel well enough to go on two coasters: The Woodstock Express and the Flying Ace Aerial Chase. And I think he went on the Crabby Cabby.

He started feeling sick after the pirate ships, though.  So we went to have lunch with Snoopy.

We love Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang!

I have a picture of Brian holding Jaina at age 4 in line for this very ride :)

Guess who won at Boo Blasters? Yep... that would be MOMMY! I totally blew everyone out of the water. Brian thinks his blaster may have been broken... a likely story :)

Jocelyn wasn't tall enough for the Plants Vs. Zombies 3D ride. So I sat outside with her and let her splash in puddles. The kids said the ride was lame but I would have liked it because I absolutely LOVE PvZ. It's the only game I have on my phone.

The weather cleared up so we hit the water park. Jayce was feeling really sick by this point so he just sat in the shade. I finally convinced him to put his swimsuit on and cool off in the water. He felt better and rode on two water slides with Jocelyn. Jaina and I rode on some big ones.

Then it was Dippin' Dots time! It's a tradition. 

Brian and Jocelyn went back to Planet Snoopy while Jaina and I rode roller coasters and Jayce sat on a bench.

Jaina has been dying to do the Drop Zone, but no one would ride it with her. So she bravely went by herself.

She loved it. She is totally not my child. I don't do big drops.

Then we all met back at Planet Snoopy to ride the carousel.

We stayed for 10 hours straight and not a single kid complained about walking or not feeling well. Despite Jayce not feeling well, we did end up all having a great time.

But next year will be even better!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This Summer

This summer has been hard.

We entered the start of the season with lofty goals and sunny dreams. We were free from school, free from schedules and commitments, ready to sleep in and do only what *we* want to do all day.


Instead, I've found myself counting down the days until school starts again; which is something I never do.

It's been hard, y'all.

 My entire family knew my dad would not live to see the beginning of Autumn. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, terminal brain cancer, just a few days after Christmas. We've watched and waited all Spring long... watched while he had the tumor removed, went to rehab, started chemo, had a lifetime dose of radiation, and saw the tumor regrow just two weeks after treatment ended. The doctors said he may have 18 months left, but my neurosurgeon predicted just a mere 6 months based on his age. Unfortunately, she was more accurate.

We all went down to see my dad in April after we had been given the news that his tumor had regrown again. My two brothers flew up from South Florida to be with my other brother and sister who live in Atlanta.

We didn't do much while visiting my dad. Walking and talking were getting a bit hard for him due to the swelling in his brain, so we mainly just sat downstairs with him and chatted.

He didn't want any pictures of his shaved head and scar and I respected those wishes, as hard as it was for me.

We made plans to come back to visit as soon as school got out, but it became apparent that bringing three kids might be a little too much chaos. Yet, Kim admitted that she needed help. My dad was no longer able to care for himself during the day and she still needed to work. So, I brought Jocelyn down with me and left the big kids with my mom and Brian.

I was not prepared emotionally for seeing my dad so physically weak. He fell 3 times while I was there. He went from being able to use a walker to completely bedridden in a span of 3 days.

Jocelyn was definitely a bright part in his last days, though. He smiled, through the pain, when he heard her voice. She climbed up into his bed and gave him kisses. But most of the time she spent upstairs in the living room because even at 4 years old, she could figure out that Grandpa was very sick :(

And it was all downhill from there.

My dad passed away on July 7th, with his wife Kim by his side.

We celebrated his life on Saturday, July 16th with a small service at the church he had attended for the last 30 years.

They served Dr. Pepper and ice cream (along with various other foods) because they were my dad's favorite.

The weekend was definitely bittersweet. We were all relieved that he wasn't in pain any longer. It's been a rough 7 months imagining what the end would be like and wondering when it would happen.

But it was wonderful that we all came together this weekend. My uncles and aunt from out west came. All my brothers and their kids were there. It was great being together.

We all sure loved my dad, whether or not he was your husband, dad, brother, father-in-law, ex-husband, or Grandpa. Especially if he was your Grandpa. He was really good at that role.

When I think of my dad, I won't remember the cancer or his last days. I'll remember climbing up into his lap at the end of the day. I'll remember him playing "Puff the Magic Dragon" on his guitar. I'll remember him listening to Rush Limbaugh on 640 AM radio in the mornings. I'll remember him training his German Short Hair Pointers before taking them to the gun club. I'll remember how he used to flirt a little bit with pretty waitresses at restaurants and how he loved debating religion and politics with people he just met. 

And even though I like Coke, and am a Liberal, and not active in church, I know my dad loved me despite our differences. Or maybe, because of them :)

LeRoy "Lee" Frank Staska, Jr. 
January 13th, 1944- July 7th, 2016