Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Surprises

 This year was the year of trip-giving, rather than "gift" giving.  
Ali had been wanting to go to Michigan to visit a friend...

We bought a ticket for her and made arrangements with her friend's family. To give her the trip, we printed out a note with a picture of each trip telling them exactly what they were "entitled" to.  
See her surprise on the above picture?  And the sheer excitement on the one below?!?!

Syd's trip was more of a gift-trip.  She'd been wanting an American Girl doll for a couple years - so she got to piggy-back her sister's trip to the airport and stop at the American Girl store in D.C.  
I don't think she understood exactly what was happening the same way her sister did.  
Stay tuned to meet the American Girl...

Friday, December 20, 2013

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
inspired by soulemama

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Surprise Outing

Sydney especially loves horses...

...she's getting a horse... 

but we thought it might be fun for the girls to see an actual horse show, so we surprised them with a trip to the local horse show - with jumping just like Syd wants to do.

And of course with every outing comes a geo-cache to find...

And a snapshot of the girls after finding the geo-cache.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ms. Spider

Sydney found this gorgeous spider just outside our front door today and decided to catch it to share with her mother and [unsuspecting sister].  Just a plain 'ol orb spider that are common around here late October - kind of appears as though she's carrying some sort of a tiny autumn squash on her back.

She caught it with her daddy's wit... glass upside down over it, sliding a paper under the glass, and then slowly turning the glass to it's rightful position slowly as to not allow the spidey to hang on the paper.  Ingenious really...

Welcome Autumn

Friday, September 13, 2013

First Adventure Via Air

They went to see some friends that live in Colorado - 
which meant their very first plane ride.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Disney In Summary

Ok.  We did the WHOLE Disney experience, folks.  And when I say the whole thing, I mean the WHOLE shebang.  We've decided if we were to do it again we wouldn't do a five day pass again.  We would do a three day pass and rest during those off days - sight seeing and making use of the pool and hot tub at the house we rented.

We did the princess meet and greet.  Our Their favorite was Rapunzel.

Let me just say... if anyone tells you that Disney can't be done under $5000 - they're wrong.  As long as you're willing to give a little.  We did the entire experience for just over $2000.  Each day we packed lunch and dinner.  Part of our renting a house was so that I could prepare the meals and use our normal food budget (from home) for our eating budget in the sunshine state!  We found shelter from the heat in the back of the locker area because (1) it wasn't peak season and there weren't that many people in the park to be using all the lockers (2) it was air conditioned.  I can't begin to tell you how welcomed those COLD [hard] floors were after hours of walking the streets of the park.  Getting up off those floors?   Another story entirely....  We even enjoyed very tame lunch-time guests!

He liked the homemade bread, but didn't like the organic dill pickle slices.

I did the Disney experience twice while I was growing up.  I vividly remember loving the Hall of Presidents and Carousel of Progress.  My memory did not deceive me - I still hold them as my favorites!!!  As so do my girls... gotta love that!

They just look SO real...

One of the reasons we decided on doing the Magic Kingdom twice was because two attractions were closed certain days and we really wanted the girls to say they'd done it all.  The electric light parade was not running (remember we didn't go during peak season) the first day we were there and Space Mountain was not running the other day - so we went twice.  Besides - when you buy four day passes... buying an extra day, making it a five day pass only cost us an extra four dollars!

Of course we did the Chevy test track experience (a couple of times).  Pretty neat!

Mickey and Minnie were most gracious hosts when we went to see them.  We were the first ones there that morning so so had a few extra minutes to share with them.

Can you tell she likes that water ride?

We were all suppose to put our hands up, but I was only one that couldn't get myself to.  We went on it one more time and decided that was enough - it went backwards and we were all sick to our stomachs when we got off the ride.   

What's this guy's name again - I remember he's from Lion King.  Oh! And see that green bottle Sydney is holding?  We learned the first day that the water was NOT good so we stopped at Target on the way in and bought four Brita filter bottles.  Magic Kingdom water was AWFUL!  Can you say sulfur...

We, inadvertently, got to see the daytime parade too, but we didn't mean to - it just happened that way when they shut the street off while we were inside a shop and we couldn't cross.  Drat...

My mother felt so sorry for us because we were "so tight" and didn't allow ourselves any eating out money that she sent us $100 via Paypal and explicitly instructed to use it to go out to eat one time - AND ENJOY.  She further explained that it would make that day a happier day.  So we chose to go to the Rainforest Cafe.  A cheeseburger, fries, and soft drink for each of us - and then this dessert to share.  
Our final bill (with gratuity) $115.36.

The experience was one of a kind though... wouldn't do it again, but glad we did it once. 

All in all, the vacation was a hit for all of us.  Only three blisters developed and nobody got hurt.  We will never forget our time together.  One of the most memorable times was ON the way... we stopped at a local Dollar General and picked up some shoe polish and let people know what our plan was...

Everyone got to decorate their own window including labels of their birth order (child #1, child #2).  From that point on we were NOTICED.  We had folks honking at us, waving, giving us the thumbs up...

We even found a couple from the UK trying to get a picture of themselves with our van in the picture!  We politely offered to take their sought-after picture for them, which made their evening.  Ours too, really.  We laughed about that for the rest of the night.  

Have you been to Disney?  World or Land?  Is there a real difference between the two Magic Kingdoms?
Do share....

Monday, September 02, 2013

We're Not At Home

Can you guess where we are?

Monday = Magic Kingdom (Fantasy Land & Tomorrow Land)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
inspired by soulemama

a picnic lunch date with my honey

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ali-ism; About Gracefulness

The meaning of her middle name may be "grace", but she's never been very graceful....
As a matter of fact - we were betting how long it would be before she fell in.

It didn't take too long...

She's such a good sport - always able to laugh at herself.
A quality I hope she never looses... makes life bearable!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Snippets From Syd; Triple-Dog-Dare

... you're triple-dog-dared, by your big sister, to lick a slug?
Ponder the expectations, pause for a deep breath, prepare yourself...

...and DO IT?

Then regret you did it...

Regardless of how brave your big sister thinks you are!!!

FYI - I left out all of the, incredibly feminine, spitting pictures from afterwards.
Yes, just in case you're wondering - it is times like this that make me SO proud of my young ladies!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Visitors

For a long while now, we've been hearing sweet little sounds from our fireplace.  The sounds have made for a very curious household (dad, mom, daughters, dog, and cat).  Daniel and Sydney mustered up the courage to climb on the roof and look down the chimney to see if we had a family of bats living with us.  He was quite relieved to find out it's just a family of swallows.  He captured some pictures (as good as he could looking down an old, dirty chimney).  Not sure who is who, but we know there are four birds living with us.

a picture of either Momma or Daddy
 Did you know swallows are monogamous birds?

A picture of the other adult
Glad to have learned that - we don't approve of living together outside of marriage...

baby 1 of 2
... people or otherwise!!!

baby 2 of 2
 Just sayin' :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Unity In Christ

It has been a very long time since I've posted something "spiritual" in nature.  I cannot tell you why exactly as I don't know myself.  I used to get on [my other] blog and step upon my soap box telling the world (or whom ever would read/listen) exactly what I felt.  Maybe the Lord has simply done a work to show me that only the fool displays that behavior :o)

However, I have recently been led to ponder something that I want to write out.  Not to preach at you dear friend, but more at myself.  I seem to grasp things better when I write them out in clear, concise thoughts.  

So here goes....

What, exactly, does this phrase "unity in Christ" mean?

Does it mean the exact sameness?  a copycat?  a replica? 
When a photographer prints multiple copies of a picture, does that make them unified?

Let me give you an example of what I've been told I've seen unity in...

We took a road trip recently to hear some preaching. Upon arrival I saw something I had never seen before (in real life). I saw a sanctuary full of people that looked exactly the same. I don't mean exactly the same in feature, but in outward adornment (dress, jewelry, make-up). Every woman had the same hairstyle. Every woman was wearing the same 'type' of jewelry. They even wore the same manner of clothing and spoke in the same high(er) pitched voice. Every man was wearing a suit of very similar fashion. Even the little girls and boys were dressed in the same manner as their parental counterparts. And not that I was disapproving of what was worn or the way these people dressed - no to the contrary, it was very modest and classy, but when I made mention of all the replicas in the church, I was told  "what you saw was unity...".

Websters 1828 dictionary defines unity as:
The state of being one; oneness. Unity may consist of a simple substance or existing being, as the soul; but usually it consists in a close junction of particles or parts, constituting a body detached from other bodies. Unity is a thing undivided itself, but separate from every other thing.

Now the Bible:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Psalm 133:1-3  (UNITY OF FELLOWSHIP)

Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (UNITY OF SPIRIT)
Ephesians 4:2-4

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:  (UNITY OF FAITH)
Ephesians 4:12-14

Nowhere do I see in any of the above verbiage indication of looking exactly the same to be unified.  On the other hand something I read in my little devotional just yesterday is brought to mind...

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest stated "Active work (to be spiritual) can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity (the work of the Holy Spirit)." words in parenthesis are my own

Unity in Christ is the individual expression of who He made us to be, with a heart knit together by Him; in Him.  It is not the pencil that defines our lips and eyes so boldly that we can no longer perceive their natural shape.  Or the length or brand of our necklaces.  It is knowing and believing we are good/beautiful because He first said we were is what makes us truly beautiful - and having the heart and mind to walk out THAT belief through the power of Jesus Christ our risen savior is what unifies us.

I wear make-up (very little, but I still wear make-up).
I wear jewelry (it's a new thing for me).
I wear modest, feminine clothing (it's a strong conviction for me).

Everything I do is because I am called to do it according to the Holy Scriptures.  Everything I do is to give Glory to the God of Abraham.

Unity in Christ is (as a group) believing that He died for you and living your life each day, walking in the Spirit; separate, but together.  And coming together (as a group) to magnify His name because He alone is worthy of our praise.

I am not moved, compelled, or persuaded to believe that I have to look like someone else to be unified.  God made me to look like ME for a reason.  If He wanted us all to look alike, dress alike, adorn ourselves just the same He wouldn't have made us so drastically different and then stated in His love letter to us that we are all different in beautifully different ways.  The unknown author wouldn't have admonished us to " with patience the race that is set before us."

We all need to be secure in who we are.  We need not place our security in man or man-made traditions, but the shed blood on that hill so long ago.  The security I have is in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The one that died on the cross to purchase my soul with his blood as ransom and then rose again in three days to make Himself known as alive before He was taken up to be seated at the right hand of Father God in Heaven.  He did this for everyone of us.  And if you believe the same as me in this - we are unified.  You may not go to the same church as me.  You may not wear skirts/dresses.  You may not like jewelry....

We are unified in Christ.

Monday, July 08, 2013

My Birthday

My husband surprised me on my birthday and took all of us toward the coast - VA Beach to be exact.  He had thought the experience through quite well and had a list on hand for me to choose from dependent on what mood I was in; nature, history, shopping....

We had a wonderful weekend.... 

We went to the Virginia Nature Museum that acquainted us to everything native to Virginia....

Having a little game of hide-and-seek long the way...

I was so excited to go through the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel


Because it actually goes under the Atlantic Ocean...

We went to the beach

And found treasures to make Pintrest inspired crafts

Ok.  Maybe not that with THAT treasure, honey.

This fish will keep me out of the ocean waters.  Not suppose to be here in the US, but brought over from another country and introduced to our shallow waters.  His barbs are deadly.

We stayed on the beach until the sun showed up its beautiful majesty

The next day we went to the Jamestown Settlement

Walked through all three ships: Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery

Went shopping for some new clothes

...and the most amazing pancakes ever...
If you ever have the chance to go to the Astronomical Pancake House

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