Thursday, February 08, 2018

Wintertime Blessings

I have been meaning to put pictures up from this winter for a while now. I realize that these pics are in no particular order, but they do highlight different events from our winter thus far. We have had two, good snows, for which I have been very thankful. I have missed snow since moving back from Minnesota. I haven't missed snow in April and May, but I have missed the snow. The previous two years we did not receive much (if any) snow, so this year it was a double blessing to get it twice! The kids enjoyed sledding in the first snow along with snow man building and throwing snow balls. The second snow was a very dry snow that was really only good for snow angels. We managed to build a somewhat pitiful looking snowman in it though. Another big event from our winter has been bringing a puppy dog home. The kids named him Ryder, and he is a mini goldendoodle. He's been a lot of work (as most puppies are), but the kids have had a lot of fun with him. Finally, the rest of the pictures are from Christmas time. This past Christmas was very sweet. We were home in SC for a number of days, and we had a great time celebrating with family. The picture of the kids with my Daddy is especially poignant. Of course we had no idea at the time, but this Christmas turned out to be my Dad's last Christmas. We lost him on January 4th. I have grieved for him in ways that I have never grieved before. Yet, I am not grieving as one who has no hope. I do have hope that he is whole and with the Lord. I am so thankful to have this last picture of him with my kids, but man it hurts every time I see it. It is hard to believe he is gone. I hate to end on a somber note, but it really has been a hard winter. But, even amidst the hard, I don't want to fail to see God's blessings.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Natalie's Birthday and our Disney Extravaganza!

Natalie turned 3! I can't believe it. I really feel like she is no longer a baby at all. It's bittersweet! We had a very small (just the 5 of us) celebration on her actual birthday. I ordered cookies, we sang happy birthday, and she opened a few presents. We kept it simple because the next morning we were leaving for Disney World with Papa and Bebe. She enjoyed getting phone calls from family members on her birthday as well.

Our first stop at Disney was Magic Kingdom. I can think of no better way to begin! Y'all, we powered through a wonderful (but very long day). We spent 15 hours straight in the Magic Kingdom. We got there early to ride seven dwarves mine train. Charlie and the big kids and I did that one while Natalie rode Dumbo about 3 times in a row with Papa and Bebe. By midday it was sweltering (actual temp of 94 with a heat index of 105), but that didn't stop us from sitting in the blazing sun to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade. We rode Peter Pan's flight (all of us) in the late afternoon, and did a number of other rides, character meetings, and shows all in the midst of that. We powered through to the fireworks which were amazing!

Somehow after our insanely long first day at Magic Kingdom, we still managed to get up by 6:30 to arrive early at Animal Kingdom to hop on some popular rides. Bebe decided to splurge for Animal Kingdom, and she signed us up for a VIP tour! We used Stone VIP tours (for anyone that is interested). Basically, having a VIP tour meant that we had a wonderful guide assigned to us for our day. Her name was Salina, and she was awesome! She totally structured our day (constantly working on our fast passes) in a way that allowed us to walk onto every single ride! We got to do everything in Animal Kingdom and we were done by 4:30. She never made us feel rushed, she helped entertain the kids, pushed our stroller, helped Bebe navigate her ECV rental, went in search for lost water bottles, helped us get food etc etc. We loved the kilamenjaro safari ride and the Kali river rapid ride, and Charlie and I rode Expedition Everest just the two of us, but hands down my, Charlie's, and Callie's (I think Coleman was a bit scared) favorite ride was Avatar Flight of Passage! This was not just our favorite ride at Animal Kingdom, it was our favorite ride in all of Disney! Thanks to Salina's expertise, we walked right on this ride as well! Can I just say it was the best ride of my life?! Seriously! Amaaazing simulator ride. It takes simulator rides to a whole new level. We decided by 4:30 that it was time to leave. We had literally done everything in the park and we just didn't have energy to stay much longer. We needed a slower evening because we still had Epcot/Hollywood Studios to do the next day.

Finally, our 3rd morning, we headed to Epcot. It was yet again an early morning. We needed to arrive at Epcot by 8 to be at the front of the line for Frozen Ever After. Natalie wanted more than anything to meet Elsa and Anna and do the Frozen ride. We all loved the Frozen ride and right after the ride, we went next door to meet Anna and Elsa. We probably waited 40 minutes, but it was worth it for Natalie (and I think Callie liked it too!) After that, we rode the Nemo and Friends ride and then did Soarin'. Coleman loved Soarin. I think it was his favorite ride. He and I rode it twice back to back because we had enough fast passes. We walked around world showcase a bit in the afternoon. We got ice cream in France and saw a mime giving a show in Italy. We sampled some caribbean food from the food and wine festival, and then hopped on a boat to head from Epcot to Hollywood Studios. We had managed to secure a popular fast pass at Hollywood studios (we had learned a thing or two from Salina!) called toy story mania. We wanted to make sure we had time to ride that ride before we went to see Fantasmic (the evening light show at Hollywood Studios). After Fantasmic, it was back to the hotel. We left the next morning for the airport. Hats off to Papa and Bebe for treating us to a fabulous vacation!!!