Harriet’s Surprise 90th Birthday Party

In September, my mom, my grandma and I road-tripped it to Seneca Falls, New York for one of the most amazing birthday parties I’ve ever been to.  My Great Aunt Harriet (my Gram’s sister) turned 90 and we were all so grateful to be there to help her celebrate.  It was a day of hugs, smiles and lots of stories.

Here is Harriet in the car as they approached the street lined with family and close friends…harriet90-1harriet90-2


It poured the entire day, but it didn’t matter a bit.  As a matter of fact, it kept us all in one spot and the memories and stories were flowing.  Here is Harriet when she first saw my sweet Gram. harriet90-3

harriet90-4harriet90-5She was surprised. harriet90-6

This woman is truly amazing.  For as long as I can remember, Aunt Harriet has always been full of such joy.  She is a one-of-a-kind, no doubt. harriet90-7

My gram and her 4 (of 8) siblings. harriet90-8

Genetics are amazing.  These are Aunt Harriet’s 3 children. harriet90-9

The sweet woman standing to the left was the host of this amazing party. She, her husband and their beautiful family were the nicest, most welcoming folks I’ve ever met.

Great Aunt Nancy saying a few words…and Harriet’s daughters with that same spark as their Mama.

harriet90-10Cheers, indeed. harriet90-11harriet90-12harriet90-13Harriet, Sue, Betsy, Barrie and Nancy. harriet90-14Sisters…harriet90-15

This was a weekend that I’ll never forget.  The stories that I heard, the family history that I learned, the love that was shared…I was so grateful to have been witness to it all.

Happy 90th Birthday, Aunt Harriet! x


October 11, 2015 - 11:58 am

Debra Stratton - Thanks Jaime, for making us all feel famous and fabulous!
You captured such moments of joy, I am forever grateful.

To all the Gwin and Ruffo Clan members, thank you so much for
coming and embracing my mom and one another.

Hey Sandy and Sam- Can we do this again for her 100th?

Big hug,

October 14, 2015 - 7:27 pm

Leanne (Gwinn) Jenkins - What an amazing day! I was so glad to be a part of it! I got to see many family members I haven’t seen in years and met a few for the first time!


meet the team night…go bears…jackson silver

the girls…C and A cheer at the varsity game…on the field

goofballs…with mckenzie…love these three


♥front row seats♥sept15-16

cousins selfie…girl cousins and a polar bear…smile mommy and daddy!

pre-luke…luke bryan(t) concert…so much fun

can i write on your face…still summer…sprinkler fun


♥hanging on to summer♥


full bloom…kindergarten makes him hungry…girls trip

my gram and me…gram and her sisters…the birthday girl

gwin family…classroom selfie…homework help in the car


♥Love this pic of my Gram and I from my Aunt Harriet’s 90th birthday party♥sept15-17

gum chewer…homework doer…piano player

cute little polar bears…love my co-workers…best teachers ever

red shoes…please stay little…study buddiessept15-13

he’s writing! on his own!…spirit day selfie…best buddies

go eagles 🙂 …polar bear-eagle friends…these two

saturday morning…saturday afternoon…cheersept15-14

♥our littlest cheerleader ♥sept15-18

sisters…captain anna…captain ryan

golden sunset…sam likes the boat…beauty

fun kids…the dock at night…saying good-bye for the summersept15-15

♥last sunset on the lake, for this year♥sept15-19


first cheer practice…for both girls…anna and sof practicing

our captain…daddy’s office…family day

kids summer homework spot…HOF parade…will and uncle j


browns fans…loves the balloons…JHS marching band

big panda…getting ready for kinder…school hair cuts

they loved this part…will and his best buddy play…bike ride


cheerleader…last day of summer break…yahoo


first day of school…so cute…my babies


one more lemonade stand…race night…with the wilsons

fun times…open house…he’s excited

my view in the AM…they love that big guy…girls on a tubeaugust15-12august15-1

first day of kinder!!!…lunchroom…1st day success!

he goes by himself…on my birthday…spirit day

my new classroom…watching cate…another cheerleaderaugust15-14

jean jacket buddies…polar bear growl…friends

anna’s squad…they are too cute for words…go bears

corey’s birthday…sunset…nighttime at the lake



some fun comparisons…

Anna-K and 2nd 🙂


Cate-2nd and 4th


Will-3/4 preschool and Kindergartenaugust15-4


Ocean Isle Beach::2015

Oh the beach vacation.  We consider this one week of the year, at the beach, sacred.  It’s a week of relaxation, fun, sand and sun.  The kids get to be kids and the grown-ups get to have a little fun too.

So, without further ado, here is our 2015 OIB Top 10 list (in no particular order):


10. Charlotte. We started off our vacay with 2 days in Charoltte.  Our BBFFs welcomed us into their home and made us dinner, it was so nice.  We also enjoyed Anna’s birthday celebration in the city and a trip to the kids museum.  For her special birthday dinner, we got Mexican carry-out (her fave) and ate together on the beds of the hotel.  It was a ‘moment’, ya know.



9. Reading on the beach (enough said). Running on the beach (I always take my running shoes, but this time I actually used them…and it was so delightful!)OIB15-3

OIB15-27OIB15-48. Our kids were so good and so fun…and seemed so big and grown up. Bittersweet, I tell ya.

OIB15-5OIB15-26OIB15-67. The kids (all 5 of them) entertained themselves for hoooooouuuuuurs every day.  These 5 kiddos only see each other once a year. They have SO much fun together. My dad started calling them the “Taco Bell” of the beach.  It was amazing how much fun they could come up with, using only the same things (ingredients) sand and water, day after day.




6.Enjoying our sweet boy in the weeks before Kindergarten. It was also at this week at OIB that I got called for an interview for a teaching job that was the dream for me (I got it, by the way). 🙂  OIB15-8


5. As I said, we meet up with our Beach Best Friends each year and it really makes for a fun vacation.  One morning, when our friends weren’t down to the beach yet, our kids were sitting under our umbrella “totally board” without them, Anna said, “Is this what it was like before we went on vacation with the Schmidts?”OIB15-94. The house that built me.  Many times this year, I’ve heard the song “The House That Built Me” and while this song is about a physical house from the singer’s childhood, it always makes me think of my parents.  They are the house that built me. I am beyond grateful for them and the childhood that they gave me.  Seeing them spending the week with our kids and eating up every moment, made me remember how lucky I am to have their guidance as we work diligently building these little houses of our own.   OIB15-10OIB15-11


3. OMG. We took our kids out to eat this year! At a restaurant! And it turned out just fine! Craziness.

2. Not getting eaten by a shark.  Our kids played in the water, we watched them closely and yay! No sharks!


1. How far we’ve come…I feel like the beach week gives me the pause I need to reflect on the past year. In 2014, just before we left for our beach vacation, we had to say good-bye to a dear friend.  Dealing with that loss this year hasn’t been easy, but it has inspired so many good conversations and moments in our family.  Living each day, being grateful for the ups and the downs, and loving deeply proved to be some of our most important accomplishments this year.



We took a few extra days this year on our way to vacation and stopped for a few nights in Charlotte, North Carolina. It just happened to be Anna’s birthday on one of the days we were there. We stayed in a hotel, got to see our BBFF’s (beach best friends forever) house, explore Charlotte and have a fun visit to the Children’s Museum. Here are a few snaps from my phone while we were there…

almost 8…birthday celebration with bbffs…presents

cool creature…animals…wild wall cate

waiting for the imax…rain-forest…first imax experience


birthday girl…the family…exploring

love him…pulley systems…learning

music exhibit…rock star…made it to the beach!vacay15-2morning run…happy grandma…beach babies

happy place…dad’s new hat…anna’s spot

pop’s buddy…morning routine…just breathvacay15-3

mason and will…the girls…my beach and my girl

handsome kids…the fam…tired boy

time to go home…sad faces…car rides are boringvacay15-4Posting this one again, because it was one of my most favorite beach pics of our whole crew.