Picture Update of my Brother's Wedding in Alaska

The first week in August I got to spend a week in Alaska to celebrate my brother's wedding. It was such a wonderful time of getting to know my new sister-in-law better, bonding with all of my siblings, and getting to explore a little bit more of Alaska (all photos of exploration were on my Snapchat and Instagram). 

I enjoyed every minute of my trip and am so grateful I was given the opportunity to go. It was a refreshing, relaxing time thanks to my awesome hosts (my big brother and his wife) with a lot of fun and excitement mixed in too. 

This was from the sister initiation - a ritual we Mangione girls do to welcome a new sister to the family.

This was my rehearsal dinner outfit - most comfy pants ever and my new favorite shoes.

My sister Jo wrote a song for the bride-to-be and groom-to-be. She had all the sisters perform it at the rehearsal dinner.

The bride and groom listening to our little performance. 

Everyone from my family who came to the wedding (except the bride and groom) at the rehearsal dinner!

The wedding was outdoors overlooking the Cook Inlet.

 My older brother and his wife who hosted me for the week.

A few brothers and a groomsmen looking dapper.

Somehow I convinced my sis to dress like me for the wedding - something she used to never do once she was old enough to overpower me. Somehow I won this time! ha!

 Where the couple said their vows was breathtakingly beautiful.

A little too cold without our trench coats, but we managed just for the picture.

Different shoes, though, of course. :-)

My baby sis played the processional. It was perfect. 

Pretty maids all in a row.

My brother and my new sis!

Had to snap a pic with the bride!

It has been a while since the original four sisters have been together. So good to spend time with my favorite girls!

Mom had to get in on all the love!

Can't wait to go back and get more pictures of the mountains and the forests of Alaska. Such a beautiful place.

First Day of School

This post comes to you in the midst of calm. There is definitely adventure on the horizon with an accepted offer on a house (we bought a foreclosed farmhouse on five acres...more on that later), but for the past two weeks, everything has slowed way down and I feel like I can breathe again. A welcome change after the crunch of the past couple of months. In the past two weeks no one has gotten sick, I had no looming exams, no trips, nothing but a bit of a tornado scare last night. This is the perfect way to start a new school year. Refreshed, at ease, and ready to tackle what lies ahead.

My kids could not wait to start school. I had planned on starting late but since they begged, we had a practice run yesterday, and our first official day started today. CJ started 4th grade and Cassi started kindergarten. They both couldn't be more excited.

I can honestly say I still love homeschooling and all that comes with it. Getting to stay at home with my children to not only take care of them, but also teach them--making sure these two get one-on-one instruction from someone who cares more about them than anyone else possibly could, is a privilege I don't take lightly. We started our school year as we will do every school day after--with lots of prayers. We know there will be a lot of bumps along the road, but being together and working through those bumps will be the even greater lessons than our actual academic work.

Here's to school year 2016-2017--God bless!


That Moment When You Think You Can't Do it Anymore

The first semester of law school I tried to do it all - not miss out on any event, any social engagement, any opportunity for the kids, teach classes at both of the kids' co-ops, and show Chris that meals and cleaning would never be any different once I started studying. That semester was so hard. I shudder thinking about it. The semester after that I had no choice but to hit the ground running, and still figured I could keep up with a few of the things I was doing before. But then we had a baby, remodeled the house, sold our house, moved, and it seemed that yet again I had to keep up at the same speed, but cram in more on top of having a harder semester than the one before. And by semester, I mean six months - no summer or winter breaks in between semesters.

This year I've been desperately trying to pull back, but I still had commitments at the beginning of the year with homeschooling, teaching at co-ops, and a few other things. My finals for the first semester this year were done at the end of June and as usual, I got pretty stressed out. And the fact is, I still haven't pulled back enough, because I just can't do it all anymore. 

I don't regret going back to school. It drives me and excites me. It gives me time to focus on thinking instead of changing diapers, and I truly enjoy what I'm learning (for the most part--some classes can get dry). But that doesn't change the fact that it's hard. Sometimes I just don't want to get up at 4:45AM. Sometimes I don't want to stay up past midnight to finish homework. Sometimes opening up that textbook seems impossible when the kids are all asking for me at once. Sometimes I think I'm just one big failure or joke. 

Who did I think I was trying to go back to law school with four kids and homeschooling? Sometimes I wish all of it would come naturally and easy to me. I get so mad at myself that I'm not brilliant or athletic. Why did it hurt so much to train for that half marathon? Why did I work my butt off and only pull a B+? 

So in an effort to pull back more. I quit one of our co-ops. I won't be teaching in any co-op until January of 2017. I don't see friends as often as I used to. What little free time I have I spend with my family. I don't blog anymore. I never play the piano or sing like I used to. My flower beds look atrocious. I haven't sewn in a year. I haven't drawn or painted much at all. My hobbies include studying and studying. 

This is my last semester of law school. I graduate at the end of December. I'm so glad to be so close to accomplishing this. It has been my dream since elementary school, and after I got married, I thought I'd never have this opportunity. Now here I am. I couldn't be more grateful! I think I'm just getting burnt out and don't have anything left to give right now. I don't know what next year will be like studying for the bar. It may be even worse. But either way, I'm on the home stretch. I'll make it. I just need the world to be patient with me. This is the path I chose, and right now the kids and law school is all I can do. 

And with that said...here are all the things we have gotten to do, burnt out momma and all (or perhaps why momma is burnt out)!

 Cassi got a haircut! 

 She was so proud of her ponytail!

 She loves her hair short!

 Capri insisted on letting her hair grow long. I love her for that. 

 I had a couple days off of school between finals and my last semester. Chris had a work trip in Dayton, OH, so my sister and brother came and met us out there. We did fun things and turned a work trip into a vacation day!

 After Dayton, we drove out to southeast Ohio and stayed at a lodge where they had some rolling hills, a golf course, and a pool. I brought my textbooks and started off the semester studying on the balcony of our hotel room or in a lawn chair by the pool!

After our southeast trip, we planned a staycation for the rest of the week, so Chris got all cleaned up, shaved his beard, and took me out on a date!

 We thought we were so cool being out during the daytime without kids! I took these photos using my watch as a remote to take the pics on my phone. How cool is that? 

The end of our staycation found us at Chris's Uncle's pond for a family party. 

 We got the annual cousins pic on the dock at the pond.

And then we spent the Fourth of July at my parents' in Michigan where the kids got to hang out with their newest little cousin, Hannaniah.

PeeWee Baseball for CJ ends tomorrow night - he's done so well. I'm so proud of him! 

CJ's fans at one of his games (Capri and her cousin Chloe).

And that brings us to Cecily's Birthday weekend when my parents and brother, Travis came out. We took them to an outdoor museum place where everyone learned a lot, but also had a lot of fun.

The day of Cecily's Birthday we had a family reunion - the girls loved being with their cousins to play!

We've been doing some homeschooling throughout the summer - we're doing math, language arts, and reading. Some days he whizzes through it all. And some days I just get so frustrated because he shuts down on me. I know I expect a lot out of him to do school through the summer, but he tends to lose so much on summer vacation, I'm determined to make sure we stay caught up for when school starts!

And that's it. Running the race with everyone else. It's tough for us all sometimes and for all kinds of reasons. I don't have it any harder or easier than anyone else. It is what it is and while I'm stressed and a little burnt out, I also love it all - love the challenge and the thrill of it all. But here's to being honest about where I'm at right now.