Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Something I learned about Trish when she was visiting, she loves trees, and every night she feels Called to go out and watch the sunset.  
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time for us to gear up for Christmas. 
But God has sent us some beautiful weather this week, and beautiful sunsets. 
I like watching the sun set from my front porch. 

Meanwhile, inside, Eric got the big family tree up and lit this past weekend. 
But it's a little hard to get the kids all together, and behaving enough to put on the ornaments. 

So Mommy gets to play with her phone, with bokeh, background lights.  

I'm happy to break out the big guns this holiday. 
I love my Christmas Spirit, it's a wonderful combination of Orange, Cinnamon, and Black Spruce. 

This is my new favorite picture from this week. 
My phone wasn't focusing on the Christmas tree, so I got a screen full of bokeh lights, and I hit Snap, and got this beautiful shot!  I have no idea how it happened.  But I like it!

I did get the upstairs snowflake tree decorated today. 
I was rather proud of myself, since I had a bunch of other kid drama (one kid to orthodontist, and the other requires daily visits to the school to give him eye drops.) I haven't been able to get much done this week.  Still, I love this blue and silver tree. 

And I unpacked our Disney tree decorations after Eric set it up. 
It seems to me, there could be more room on this tree for Disney ornaments. 
On this day, in 2009, we took the kids on their first trip to Walt Disney World, to celebrate all Christopher's tube and ostomy triumphs. It doesn't seem like it's been 8 years, but it has. 

It must be time to go back.  

Thanksgiving, Part Deux, at Nana's House.

It's the Shirts! 
There's a story.  My sister bought this shirt from Old Navy. My Mom liked it so much, she decided to get herself one.  They accidently sent her two, so she gave the extra to me.  Now we're all cute and crazy and have matching fall-ish shirts.  
I think it's hysterical. 
We've not done this since a few decades ago, when Mom got us all matching jammies when we went to Michigan with my Grandparents and Uncle Bob.  

Mommy had a pretty bouquet on her table too! 

I loved these happy fall daisies. 

The spread all laid out in the dining room at my Mom's new house! 

All the grownups actually getting ready to eat! 
*Picture by Christopher

My Sister and Mom decided that dinner would be in two shifts.  The kids were having such a fine time that they completely missed dinner as it was being set up.  Rather than interrupt their happy play, we just let them play.  We got to eat our entire dinner, and chat, sentences and all.  Take note, that was TWO Days in a Row!  Dogs and Cats! 

The kids having their Thanksgiving dinner. 
Note that Sam was not present. 
Sam woke up with Pink Eye on Friday morning.  His eye was cemented shut.  So I ran him over to CVS Minute Clinic and they gave him some eye drops.  But they said he was communicable for 24 hours.  So Eric and I split up. Divide and Conquer.   Eric stayed home with Sam, and I took the other boys to my Mom's for dinner.  We were able to also stay the night, since we didn't have to worry about Daddy's allergies.  Slumber Party!  
The kids were so stoked, totally beside themselves. 

After dinner, Uncle Rick broke out the big guns. 
He always brings the niftiest drinkies.  He brought margarita mix, but he made mine with the glass dipped in watermelon sugar.  Watermelon sugar?!  Have you ever tried this?  It was great!  Normally, tequila and I are not friends.  But on this day yes please!   That sugar made the margarita perfect.  By the end I was licking it up like a lollipop, I swear it was so yummy.  And I only had the one, so tequila and I stayed sympatico. 

Meanwhile, after the kids ate, Uncle James had a gift for Chris. 
It's his old Compass.  
This thing has been all over the world, doing an Army job of direction. 
And now it belongs to the next generation.  Chris was so excited, and I got teary. 
I tried to record James explaining some of it.  Apparently, this thing is Old, like Grenada era old, maybe Vietnam, and he grabbed it from the supply closet in TX, and took it to Ethiopia and Jordan, and elsewhere that he might be able to tell us in 50 years or so.  

Uncle James gives Chris the Army Compass. 
Not only does it give directions, but it will do this fancy triangle thing, to tell triangulate position by degrees.  It was fascinating.  I hope Chris understood, because I didn't. 
Chris put that thing on his belt immediately, and didn't take it off for three days!

The next morning, I got up with Jacob at a reasonable hour, because we had to go to Gymnastics.  
Turns out Gymnastics is a quick hop from my Mom's house.  I like walking around the track while the kids do their thing.  Jacob was quite well behaved, and his class size was extra small because of the holiday weekend.  So that all went well.  
After that, we had brunch. Eric and Sam came up (by 11, Sam was non-communicable) and joined us.
My Mom and Lisa had made this casserole, and Aunt Debbie brunch casserole, with layers of potatoes, cheese, cream of mushroom, sausage, topped with bacon and cheese.  My children all ate some, and I couldn't believe it.  I ate well, and drank coffee.  Turns out I'd broken into my Christmas present, a bag of Thanksgiving blend coffee from Starbucks.  I've been dying to try it, and James gets one free bag a week.  Apparently, he's been acquiring.  So, I opened it, made a pot, and Loved it!  
It's a nice gently spiced coffee.  So what if I got it early, now I'm all set with coffee for the Season!  

So then we sat around for like two hours and chatted while the kids all played.  
It was nice. 
Uncle Rick and Trish wanted to 'do something'.  It took us forever to figure out what to do. 
Much research was done. 
Eventually we decided to go check out the new Carmel Christkindlmarkt on the lawn by the Palladium. It's kind of like a European fair, with a new ice skating rink.  
The going was free, but none of the stuff was. 

We did NOT avoid the crowds.  

Nana and all her Grandkids
We found the ice rink was hopping. The line for it was crazy.  
Luckily, the kids were ok with us not spending a bunch of money on it. 
Actually, my reply when they said I want to skate, was Oh, did you bring money for that? 
I didn't.  I came for hot cheese.

All the grandkids, proving they are a bunch of turkeys. 

Uncle Rick and Trish turn out to be a couple turkeys. 

Eric's leg was giving him fits, and he couldn't stand long, so anywhere he could sit, he did.  
The boys curled up with him, while I was taking photos of Rick and Trish. 
They are cute together, it reminds me of the days way back when  Eric and I were dating.

It was a little chilly outside, but not bad, high 40s. 
They had these firestops along the journey up and down aisles.  
But it was so crowded, there was no room for all of us to sit and get toasty. 
We liked walking all around and checking out all the various shops and seeing what they were selling. If I had $, I could've gotten pretty crazy. 

OK, the real reason we went to this thing. 
I'd seen a video of hot cheese.  
They serve up this cheese on a loaf of bread and spread it like butter.  
I wanted to try it.  
And not surprisingly at all, so did my entire family! 

I mean come on, this is how they cook the cheese.  
By heating a half a wheel of cheese! 
Oh man! 

Mommy and the girls want Hot Cheese too! 
We waited in line almost an hour for this hot cheese.  
I was impressed the kids didn't lose it entirely.  But my Mom and I were hot stressed messes by the time we got to the front of the line.  Did I mention we did NOT avoid the crowds on Thanksgiving Saturday at the Kindlmarket?!  Oy.  

Our crew orders their sandwiches.  Turns out you don't have to just eat cheese and bread, you can get ham and cheese, or salami and cheese, with cheese, German mustard and gherkins.  It sounded weird, but then I tasted, and Oh Mama! 

Sam in a happy place. 
He has cheese. 

That would be mine.  Cooking. 
Hot Cheese. 

Eat your heart out! 
This is a man happy to have a hot cheese baguette.  So Good!

Trish had hoped to see some snow coming North. 
We found some. 
But I suspect these were the droppings of the zamboni from the ice rink.  
No proof though. 
The bit of snow made Rick and Trish smile. 

It was a good visit, just an hour or two outside the house.  
That was enough for me.  
I was so stressed out by the crowds.  I'd kept Chris close so he didn't get too crazy, but I did. I get so frazzled when I anticipate a situation that could go  bad. And there wouldn't have been an easy out, it took us 15 minutes just to get into the parking garage. Oh well, we had our cheese sandwiches, and headed back to Mom's.  Shortly after the sun set, the boys and I all went home.  I was exhausted. 
It doesn't look like we did much, but I can tell you, I didn't gain any weight over those couple days. 
That's a Thanksgiving miracle too!  

Thanksgiving Day Festivities

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I hope that wherever you are, this finds you well. 
It's been a while since I blogged.  

So I thought I'd start with what we did over Thanksgiving, before backtracking to finish our vacation stories and what has happened since then.  I keep starting blog stories and not finishing them.  Oh well, at least I'm all caught up on Game of Thrones and working on my yarny Christmas gift.

We had such a wonderful day, it was so good, I was Thankful for all the high points.  But there are so many.  

Thanksgiving morning was Thursday, and the boys blessedly slept in. 
That right there is a Gift!
Eric made breakfast of a great cheesy potato casserole, pumpkin cinnamon rolls and grilled ham. 
Too bad the pumpkin rolls had Red 40.  Sam did ok without, he was happy to have a cinnamon poptart I'd found at Costco the other day.  
Eric was working outside, since the weather was in the low 50s, and there was a ton of yard work to do.  He hasn't been feeling well, so he was outside most of the day, while he had energy. 

Meanwhile, the boys had to clean their rooms. 
That took all morning.  Ugh. 

For lunch, we didn't want to do much, so we curled up to watch Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving.

This was our lunch. 
Sliced Hawaiian bread toast (the greatest thing since sliced bread, as it turns out is Sliced Hawaiian bread!), jelly beans and popcorn, just like Snoopy makes! ;)

I needed a nap, and the boys had some work to do.  
But just before we curled up to rest, I took a selfie.  
We're all in shades of brown and orange.  
It turned out to be the only picture of me and the boys all day.
 After naps we headed to Oma and Opa's house. 
They always put on the most amazing spread!  
We got to eat in the dining room, with the fancy dishware and everything.  

The view upward from the dining room table. 

You'd think I'd get a picture of the food.  But no, this light intrigued me. 

Lisa had brought MB the happiest bouquet, I love happy flowers! 

The Kids table. 
Annie wasn't feeling well, so we didn't get any group pictures. 
But about halfway through dinner, she opted to join the other kids. 
Her energy didn't last, but the boys energy sure did.  
After some outdoor laps, the kids opted to watch a movie downstairs. 
They were so well behaved we were able to stay and chat like grownups with Dan and Kaye, Daddy and MBs best friends.  We told great stories like how we met, and the kids actually behaved so we could have dessert together and coffee, and it was fantastic.  
It was a late night, but it was so good to be with such great company. 
I had Plenty to Thankful For!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Epic Florida Vacation, Day 3 - Ocala

 All right friends, now we got to Florida late Sunday night.  It was late, it was dark, we couldn't see anything of where we were, so we really didn't get to enjoy it until Monday morning.  But we did enjoy it!  The boys slept in until 8. And we didn't have to pack up Anything.  That was worth it, right there, that made it ok that we drove so late the night before, and Jacob had pooped 1/2 hour before arrival. Ugh.  But it was a New Day! 

Grandma told me there was bread in the fridge and peanut butter in the cabinet, so the kids were perfectly content with Toast and Peanut Butter for breakfast. 

We were looking at all the various bug traps in the daylight.  The boys didn't believe that Grandma's house would have bugs.  But I had to explain, the bugs don't die here in Florida in the winter, they just get bigger.  Chris was shocked.  "What do you mean bugs don't die here?! There's no Winter in Florida?"  Yeah, imagine if he remembered how they light up the palm trees with Christmas lights.  They have no idea how good they have it! 

Sam and I took the table, while the other boys ate in the kitchen.
I had a leftover yogurt and Ningxia Red for all.  I packed it so no one would get sick on our trip. 
I really don't want anyone getting sick!

The one thing that we had on the docket was to meet my friend in Ocala at the Discovery Center at 1 pm.  It was about 2 hours away. But the decision the boys and I came to the night before, was that having a free place to stay, and NOT having to pack up was Worth driving the extra few hours.  So we did it.  And we did it again. 

It was worth it.  
As we drove out for the day, we caught this amazing view of Tampa Bay as we crossed it from Clearwater, to head back to the major highway.  The night before, all we saw was darkness.  
This was Gorgeous. 

The kids are hypnotized by the view of the water as we cross the Bay to Beach bridge.

We stopped for lunch at a Wendy's on the road.  Jacob had gotten a happy meal while we were on the road, but it didn't come with a toy.  He was sad, so we tried again.  This time, loved the Transformer toy Optimus Prime, and he played with it while we hit the road.  

Unfortunately, when as we were arriving in Ocala, I received a note from Melissa, the friend we were meeting.  The Discovery Center was Closed on Mondays!  Oh no!  
I had her hang tight until we arrived.  I hadn't seen much civilization on my way in, however, as we pulled in to the parking lot across from the Discovery Center, we parked next to a park/playground. 
So we set the kids loose to play, while we came up with a plan. 

It turns out letting the kids play in the 90 degree heat in mid-Florida was great.  
After two solid days in the car, the boys needed some free play.
It was hot, they played hard, and they kind of let us talk.   

We did manage to hold them still all together for a moment to get a picture. 

It's clear as they get above age 10 that boys and girls are Different. 
Alexis didn't really play with the boys for much longer than a few minutes. 
Talking to the grownups was more cool.  
But the boys played hard.

I loved looking around at this park. 
Check out this Spanish Moss!
Melissa was apologetic, in her mind, this wasn't anything exciting.  
She'd offered to go to a Jump-n-Play sort of place, or SkyZone. 
I was like Nope.  Chris can't hear in there, and tends to go into his own world, and it's hard to pull him out.  He ends up quick to anger.  I didn't want that today. 
I walked around and took a few pictures of the trees. 
They are so different than what we have in the midwest.  
I think Melissa forgets what it's like in Fall in Indiana.  They've lived down here for 4 1/2 years, they moved just after Jacob was born.

Spanish Moss is not a parasite, living off its host until eventually it kills them.  But it does stunt the tree's growth.  It just lives off nutrients in the air and rain. Cool.

Meanwhile, the kids were not cool. 
They were hot. 

We were all so hot, that when the Kona Ice truck showed up, I caved. 
I bought all the kids their own small Shaved Ice snack. 
This truck was cool, and the kids could build their own flavors. 
Red 40 wary Sam of course, chose the green flavor, which was a Lemon Lime.  He liked it ok, but not enough to finish it. Jacob chose two flavors, Tiger's Blood (which was kind of like Pina Colada) and Strawberry.  Lots of Red, and it was Yummy, because he didn't eat much. Chris ate Blue Raspberry, and held on to it, until it pretty much melted and he could just drink it. 

These two met when they were toddlers.  They were in Kindermusik together for probably about 4 years, and graduated that class together! 

I went to find a photo of the two of them together, but they weren't alone.  
Then I found this.  They both used to love to dance!

Next to the park was a creek/river, and I saw some strange birds nearby. 
I decided to go in for a closer look. 
They definitely were not like birds in Indiana. 

They look so strange, like some kind of African bird.  
I didn't know what it was.

Upon closer examination since I've been home, and a bit of Google, we find it was a Wood Stork. 

Three Wood Storks take off.
Only after I come chasing. 

So Neat watching him fly off. 

After much heat, we decide to leave the park and go to Chick Fil-A. 
It will be cool and have a Playplace for the littles. 
Alexis was too tall to play, but she gladly sat in our Oily Discussion. 

Melissa joined my Oily Team back in 2015 from a Facebook class I held, but this was my first opportunity to be able to share oils and knowledge with her in person.
I had brought Cindi's Zyto Scanner, and I went ahead and scanned them both. 
We discussed oils for pregnancy and discussion, and both of them scanned for Aroma Life, a calming blend good for your heart.  

Alexis took our picture together.  
Melissa has the cutest Baby Bump.  She's didn't think children were possible, then God laughed, and Surprise! 
 I gifted her with a bottle of Gentle Baby, a Perfect Oil blend since she's going to be having her own little sweetboy soon. Hooray for Miracles!

I cropped Alexis' photo of us, and it turned out very cute!

On our drive home, we hit one of those famous Floridian afternoon popups.  
But as we stopped for gas, we discovered this one left us with a Rainbow!

During these long drives, I figured it would be a great opportunity for the boys to share deep things that are on their hearts.   So I often turn off the screens, turn down the Hamilton, and ask them for their thoughts.  Chris asks me his deep thoughts, "Mommy, do you think the Flash drives when he goes on vacation, or does he just run carrying his luggage? Does he need to make more than one trip?" The things that occur to this kid, they never occur to me. 

The boys begged us to stop for Panera on the way home for dinner, so finding one (not as easy while on the road) delayed us.  Still, we made it through the city just as it starts to get dark.  
I've decided I don't much like driving at night anymore.

The sun sets as we cross the long bridge to get back home.