Monday, January 16, 2017

Disneyland 2016

2 days before Christmas while mingling at my work Christmas party with Jeff and my boss, my boss mentioned that he had a few tickets left of his 2016 allotment of 1-day Disneyland Park Hopper Passes. (He's a Club 33 member which gives him some pretty amazing Disneyland perks!) 
He proceeded to tell us we should take the kids before the end of the year with his tickets!
What?! Seriously? You wanna GIVE us FIVE tickets to Disneyland?! right?!
Well, for's a no-brainer.
Jeff...well he's much more of a planner...
"What are we going to do with the dogs?"
"Where are we going to stay?"
(This is why I keep him around.)

So we figured out all the details and the Wednesday after Christmas we surprised the kids with a little trip...
I really couldn't tell you of the 3 who was the most excited!
Here's our first pic of the trip. Poor Dominic wasn't feeling so well that morning.

The plan:
Wednesday: Drive down.
Thursday: Spend as much time at the parks as possible.
Friday: Drive home.

Wednesday after checking into our hotel, The Marriot Embassy Suites Maingate, we took a shuttle to Downtown Disney for dinner and some pre-Disney shopping.
Btw...This hotel was pretty good. I would stay there again.
It's no Disney hotel but it included continental breakfast every morning and it was super clean. 
They also provided a shuttle to and from the parks but at a price. *Ergh*

Here's Emma Kate and Emma at the Lego store...

This was Emmy's first time at Disneyland and I was a little disappointed that she wasn't going to be able to do all the fun princess-y stuff that she would've been able to do if we had planned ahead and gotten reservations for certain events, etc... but something is better than NOTHING right?!

The boys playing around in the Rain Forest Cafe gift shop...

We ate at Tortilla Joe's. Yum!! It was such a fun time together!

And we were feeling very silly waiting for the shuttle to take us back to our hotel!
We thought it was hilarious that we had so much energy and were bouncing around laughing while the others around us were WIPED OUT from being at the parks all day.
We joked, "That's totally us tomorrow!"
*And it was. lol*

We were at the park by 7:15 to pick up our tickets and my boss met me in the lobby of the Grand California Hotel to give me his 24 restriction-free-Fast Passes to help navigate the CRAZY CROWDS that we would encounter that day. The crowds were pretty insane but we ended up riding quite a few rides, the first of which was It's a Small World.
We made the mistake when Connor was 5 of taking him on some pretty major rides right away and freaking him out. So we started easy with Emmers.

I've never been to the park at Christmas time...
The tree on Main Street and all the Christmas decor was so pretty!

We had a private meet and greet with Chewy!

And Connor finally overcame his fears of the rides!
When we asked him at the end of the day what his favorite thing was, 
he responded, "I overcame all my fears today."
Be still my heart!

(Hyper Space Mountain.)

My poor hubby has "Plantar" something something...(I have no idea how to spell his condition!) going on with his foot and he was in so much pain being on his feet all day. 
But when on the rides...

Emma Kate got her first set of Mickey ears!

And met Daisy Duck.

1st time for Connor and Emmy in Cars Land. 

Family picture....!

Did I mention how pretty the park is at Christmas time?!

We usually don't watch parades and shows but we took a break for a parade in the evening.
The kids sat down below us in the front and we got to enjoy watching them watch the parade.

Disney never disappoints!
(Except for the fact that they're closing The Tower of Terror to replace it with Guardians of the Galaxy. THAT is disappointing! But we did get to ride it before it closed.)

Here's little Emmy as she watched the princesses in lights...

And at about 9:00 she we all (except Dominic) were pretty much toast!
We gave Dominic the rest of our Fast Passes and we called it a night.
Dom closed the park down at midnight.
In that time he rode Indiana Jones twice, Haunted Mansion twice, and Pirates again.
Not too bad!

It was definitely a magical day! It was so awesome to take off as a family, ALL FIVE OF US, without the distractions of home or Christmas or holiday cleanup. The kids have finally reached the ages where they have become awesome travelers and the long hours in the car were even pleasant!
This trip was definitely the highlight of our holiday time together!

*Already trying to plan our next adventure to Disneyland. 
Maybe we'll even go back to Disneyworld instead!*

Monday, January 9, 2017

Christmas 2016

Back in true form with tons of pictures! I love Christmas time and all that comes with it.
These days, with Dominic being away at college, I love Christmas even more because it means all my people are under one roof!
This year my brother and his family were traveling for Christmas so we celebrated a little early with them. P.S. This put all our kids in full present mode a week early!

Emma Kate has started going through her room at Christmas and gathering things of hers to give as gifts to everyone. This is what Uncle Scott got this year....

And how I've wrapped my gifts the past couple years...

While Scott and Shawna were busy packing for the FOREVER trip, we swooped up Harley and Abby and took the kids to the Living Nativity.
This is our second time and we love it so much!
They have tons of activities for the kids and every 1/2 hour they re-enact the Christmas story.

*I have no idea who that little girl is on the left or how she got in our picture. lol*

I like to take each of my kiddos out for a Christmas date, complete with Christmas shopping and dessert every year. This year Connor was the only one who got to go. I don't know HOW I ran out of time. We seemed to be cramming everything in the last few days before.

Including going to see Santa! At least this year we made it on the 23rd!
I see everyone's "Crying Baby Santa Pics" and I'm not gonna lie...I'm a little's been YEARS since any of my kids were scared of Santa. 
So this year Dominic hammed it up a little...
I love this pic better than the professional one taken...
(Thank you Dominic!!)

Connor and Emma Kate sang in the kids' Christmas Eve choir again.
Definitely a highlight of this service!

And my picture of the kids in front of the Christmas tree.
(These days not much of the tree shows! Maybe next year we'll sit.)

Dominic and Missy were both home for 3 full weeks! It's always a little difficult when he comes home so early because we wanna just hang with him all the time but we still had work and school up until Christmas so I felt a little robbed of our time with him:(

Christmas Eve Jeff's parents go to church with us and then come back to the house to exchange gifts and hangout a bit.

Dominic set up Emmy's new mini iPad...

And we ate lots of cookies!
(Dominic was a rockstar and led the kids in most of the cookie baking this year. Did I mention I ran out of time already?!)

After Jeff's parents leave my family moves in for the night. Usually this includes Scott and fam but this year was quiet with just Mom and Dad. We watch The Polar Express and get breakfast ready for the morning.

We go to bed WAY TOO late and the kids wake us up WAY TOO early!

And no matter how often I threaten the kids in the weeks prior that Santa is watching...
he always comes!

After my parents take off we head over to Jeff's parents to have Christmas dinner with them and his sister's family.

I think this was Dominic's favorite gift this year...
He LOVES Ronald Reagan and will wear this shirt proudly!

Jeff's parents always think of something clever and this was our family gift this year...
a blanket with a picture of the two of them on it!

It was a wonderful Christmas and we are so blessed to have one another and the many gifts that are provided. It was a season of mixed emotions though. We missed my brother and his family. 
And the Monday before we had to have our sweet Libby put down. She was such a gift to all of us.

We miss her so much.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season celebrating our Lord's birth and spending lots of time with your loved ones!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

One Year Later

Yes, it's been almost an entire year since I've posted.
Does anyone even read blogs anymore?!
I'm not sure, but when I came across this pic of my littles today my heart broke at the thought of not recording our daily adventures and ultimately this blog is a gift to them.
So here I am!
And here they are now-a-days... 
A lot's happened in the last year.
Dominic is about to head back up to Seattle for his 2nd year of college.
Connor has begun the fourth grade.
My little Emmy is now in Kindergarten.
We have sold the home we lived in for almost 10 years.
We've all been living with my parents for most of the summer.
We've purchased another home and are about to begin a major renovation there before moving in.

Through it all we continue to follow what God is telling us.
As I wrap up a really tumultuous summer, I am grateful for what I've learned in trusting Him and relinquishing the control that I am so comfortable maintaining.

I am so thankful for my husband and children.
For my parents who have taken us in.
For Jeff's parents who have taken in our furry family members.
And all those people who have prayed for us and supported us in so many different ways this summer.

Until next time...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seattle Send-Off

It's so hard to believe it's been almost two months since we got back from Seattle!
Now that we've returned to something of a new "normal" around our house and all my pictures have been downloaded and I can talk about the trip without tears streaming down my face...

Wednesday, September 24 we awoke at 2:45 am to begin our adventure to Seattle.
We rented this monstrosity of a vehicle! We had it loaded and were driving away by 3:45.
(Dom's friends, the twins, came to say good-bye. So sweet!)
We had hoped that leaving so early would increase our chances of The Littles going back to sleep for a while.
Those kids didn't sleep a wink the whole 36 hours we were on the road over the course of the trip.
It was pretty amazing though...we all (except Dom who was smart and DID sleep) got to watch the sunrise together.
And experience some amazingly beautiful views.
Here they are...jammies and all. We put The Littles in the second seat, within arms reach.
Dominic got his own row to spread out and sleep comfortably ;)
I had spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the long car ride and had put together a box of things/activities the kids had never seen before. We pulled from the box regularly to keep them busy, in addition to hours of movie watching.
Here they are with "special detective glasses" on to help them find everything on their travel Bingo pages. Dominic played too and I was surprised when he asked, "How come I don't get glasses?"
P.S. I'm doing a separate post on car activities sometime soon.
That Wednesday we arrived at our planned destination in Portland at 4:30 pm.
That was a LONG 14 hours on the road!
I do have to say though that everyone was in really good moods and excited for the journey.
The most complaining we heard was from The Littles in regards to when we could pull another activity from "the special box."
After checking into our hotel I took Connor and Emma to the pool for a swim, we all went to dinner, and were asleep by 8:30. I'm surprised we lasted that long! (However Emmy did fall asleep in the booth at dinner. Poor girl was wiped out!)
We were up early the next morning and made it to SPU by 11:30 am. (Only 4 hours of driving!!)
Seattle welcomed us with rain, to Dominic's delight.
We immediately found his dorm and started moving him in.
Let me tell you...old narrow streets, lots of hills, a van the size of a small bus, 1 excited college student, 2 rambunctious kids, 2 numb parents, and rain...make for an interesting combination!

But we were welcomed by a community ready to help and excited for us to be there!
Dominic's roommate was just finishing unpacking when we arrived.
After getting everything from the van to Dominic's room, Jeff took the kids to release some energy while Dominic and I unpacked.
I never lived in a dorm myself and regardless of everyone else's experiences (good or bad), it was one of which I had always wished I could have had.
So exciting that Dominic gets this experience!
Jeff and the kids returned for some pictures before we ventured off to find lunch. 
The hallway...
and kitchen on his floor...
Main floor lobby...
And let's take just a minute to appreciate how beautiful the campus is...

We stopped at this one particular spot on campus where if you stand right in the middle of the bricks on the ground and clap, you hear a squeak.
I know it sounds weird but it's actually kinda cool.
And every time we walked through here the kids had to stop and clap. So funny!
The next few hours we juggled energetic Littles and getting Dominic all settled in with things like his student ID, figuring out the best way to get all his textbooks and trying to get his mailbox open!
We did have some time to kill before an official welcome so Dominic walked us down to the canal close to the school. It was so pretty! It was here that I started to love Seattle.
(Side note: This is the one school that Dominic had visited alone.
Neither Jeff or I had ever been.)

There was a lot of "killing time" while waiting for this or that.
There was really only so much exploring that could be done.

Jeff, Emmy and I were fighting colds so Jeff and I started chugging Airborne in between engagements. No time for sickness!
There were a lot of events for parents and families on Thursday and Friday, most of which were speeches done by administrators or faculty on topics such as campus security, "Empty Nesting," etc...
This particular one was a formal indoctrination. It was such a nice welcome!
At the end, all of the faculty formed a circle around the perimeter of the floor and the students were asked to fill in the middle.

 We prayed over the students and then each of them were handed a pin.
"SPU*Engaging the Culture*Changing the World"
I was doing alright emotionally at this point, until Emma Kate, standing in front of me, looked up and said through teary eyes, "Mommy, I'm going to miss him!"
I lost it. Tears streamed down my face. That lump formed in my throat that had been there every time over the past year in which I had envisioned this event. And for a moment, time stood still. The craziness of all of the traveling paused. Dominic was all moved in. The parent programs were done. We would leave this building and say good-bye  see you soon. 
I was excited.
I was sad.
And I realized my Littles were feeling the same way.
(Here 2 months later, it still makes me teary.)

*It helped to know that we would be back one more time Sunday morning to go to church with him before leaving Seattle.*

We took a few minutes to get some family photos before we left.
And Sunday after church it was a little rough saying good-bye.
Dominic, you are SO prepared for this. It's not always going to be easy and you may get a little home sick. But we will always be here to be your support and sounding board. 
Go forth.
Make a difference.
Develop relationships.
Give thanks.
And every once in a while, stop and really soak it all in.
The time goes really fast!

-Love your biggest cheerleader,