Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Biggest Loser

I'm facilitating a Biggest Loser Club for NACCers. $10 gets you in, biggest loser takes all (% of weight lost, not pounds. And your actual weight will not be displayed anywhere except in my inbox. %'s are fair game though). Initial weigh in will be by Tuesday, and the final weigh in will co-inside with the Biggest Loser finale in May. Anyone in?

So much for unblogging!

My laptop died once again. I'm not sure yet if we'll try to replace just the battery or the whole computer. Either way, I don't know how long that will be yet. I'm hoping I can borrow a battery to at least get my pictures off it the lap-top before I throw it off a bridge (if you're a new reader, I've had nothing but trouble with that thing!). I haven't backed up my Christmas or Disneyland pictures yet, I really hope I don't lose those.

Anyway, I'm at work now, but just wanted to let you know that my updates might be fewer further between for a short period of time. Though Rob's getting his laptop back from the dead today so at least I should have a little bit of internet access at home at some point in the near future. We'll see I guess!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Unblogged Moments of 2009--March, April and May

Looking back through my pictures I realize I have several unblogged moments over the last year.

Here are March, April and May's--

Just a day at the park.

3 of my favorite people!

The inside of our van. Loading 4 kids in and out of the van all the time tops my crazy list.

We took these pictures to sell it, though we didn't end up selling it until the Fall.
It was a great van and I'm thankful for it, but I'm super grateful for our new Freestyle.

And with that, June through December will have to wait. Rob and Leeann just got home from a date, Titus needs to wake up and we all need fed. I best be going...

Unblogged Moments of 2009--February

Looking back through my pictures I realize I have several unblogged moments over the last year.

Here are February's--

This was the kids bed set-up until just recently. Titus had a toddler bed underneath of Leeann's half loft. I thought it was cute, and I want to remember it. So here it is.

This is some of Titus's John Deere stuff. I was taking pictures to list our Condo and thought it would be cute to set it all up. I intended to blog it, but obviously never did.

Here are some more of his tractors. And books.

And I took this one to make some wise-crack on my blog about cleaning the entire house today and rearranging every room from top to bottom. I suppose the umpf is lost a year later?

I would have erased this one since I realize there's a picture of his bed already in this post, but blogger isn't letting me. Odd.

My sweet, sweet little girl!

Unblogged Moments of 2009--January

Looking back through my pictures I realize I have several unblogged moments over the last year.

Here are January's--

I don't know what was going on here, but the picture is cute!

This is my kiddos with my brother. Come to think of it, this was Christmas, so it was December, not January.
Nerf Gun!
This is a collage from Logan and Weston's Birthday party. I didn't realize I hadn't blogged this. Whoops!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Christmas Letter

Every year I intend to write a Christmas letter. I think we actually did this one year out of our 8 years of marriage. I really enjoy reading other people's Christmas letters, and I feel I ought to do the same. Or, at least send out a cute little card with our family picture on it.

Then, when Christmas gets close I think, "I'm going to do a New Year's letter, or a Valentine's letter, or a 4th of July letter." I don't know, some sort of letter that isn't crammed into an impossibly busy time of year already. Then those other seasons roll around and then I just think I'll make sure to do it next year. That's the procrastinator in me!

But this year. I'm admitting defeat and telling you, there's no way I'm going to write a Christmas letter, and all of the rest of the holiday's aren't looking promising either. If I know myself well (and I feel like I do), I'm just never going to get around to it.

One of the reasons that I decided to let myself off the hook this year and not feel guilty for it, is the fact that I blog. Those who want to know about our family read this blog and already know everything I would put in a Christmas letter anyway... yet in far more detail and with pictures!

Plus, you get to read about all sorts of exciting stuff that normally gets left out of Christmas letters. Like funny kid quotes and updates from our regular ole day-to-day lives. And instead of reading a one-liner in a Christmas letter like, "We went to Disneyland this year."... you get to experience it with us day-by-day in excruciating detail with 873 pictures just in case you felt like you needed more details!

2009 in a nutshell is this: Rob began a transition to the Senior Pastor position--a year full of transitions at the church. Rob's mom passed away--we were all very saddened. Logan and Hope came to live with us. Those 6 months were crazy, busy, exhausting, stressful and delightful all wrapped into one. Leeann lost some teeth and started school. Titus decided to go from being a baby to a boy before I even knew what happened. And, we went to Disneyland!

Those were the biggies, if you want more detail, read below. And keep reading and reading and reading until you've sifted through my 170+ posts for the year and your eyes start to bleed. I still sometimes awe at the fact that anyone reads this :0)

So, I've decided that as much as I procrastinate and leave things undone that I have the best intentions of doing... I should not feel bad. I've been writing a Christmas letter all year long. See, I've accomplished something! Now I feel like I ought to make a to-do list and include 'write my Christmas letter' so I can cross it off and feel like I did something. Nah, maybe tomorrow I'll get around to that...

The Best Disney Memories of All...

Before the memories of our last Disneyland trip get too far behind us, perhaps I ought to take a few moments to reflect on one of the biggest reasons for our love of Disneyland.

But first, let me give you a little bit of background. My first trip to Disneyland was a few days after I graduated high school. I went with 3 girlfriends and we had a blast. You're never too old to experience Disneyland for the first time!

My second trip was just after I graduated college. Rob and I were going to be headed down to a conference for the church in Southern California and decided that we should save for a mini-trip to Disneyland and leave a few days before the rest of the group. So, we took our first long road trip and first 'real' vacation since our honeymoon and headed down the Magic Kingdom. We had hoped that we would soon be starting a family and wanted to have one last adventure before we 'settled' down. So, we spent 3 amazing days in Disneyland, and thanks to the generosity and gracious hosting of some family and friends (and two days worth of free park tickets!) I believe we did that whole trip in less than $600!

My third trip was a one day surprise trip as part of a small children's ministry conference in February of 2007. Rob drove down with me (and brave Suzy kept our 1 and 3 year-old kids for almost a whole week!), and we enjoyed a date night at Midieval times together. Though when I signed up for the conference I had NO idea how I would pay for it, we stepped out in faith and because of some further generosity and hosting from family and friends I think we did that whole trip with just a couple hundered dollars. (That is, if you don't count the speeding ticket we incurred just a few hours from home. If you count that, the trip was... um, more than that!)

Our fourth trip was the one that solidified Disneyland as an incredibly special place for our family. Early in the year Rob was asked to be a part of the wedding of a really good friend from his younger days. The wedding was going to be in Southern California in August. We didn't have much in the way of money, but knew it was important enough that we'd be able to scrape up a few hundered dollars to get him a plane ticket down there.

At some point we started wondering if we could drive and get our whole family down there within the same price as a one plane ticket. Then, the details are a little fuzzy but before too long, we had also decided to see if we could swing a day at Disneyland and if Rob's mom, Janice could come with us. When we invited her, she was quite excited and said we could drive her car and she would pay for gas and split the hotel costs if that would help. Of course, it helped a ton and we were able to squeeze in two days at the park (especially because we scored a couple more free tickets!). Before long we were making plans together and counting down the days until Disneyland!

Janice was, to say the least, extremely excited! She was thrilled beyond measure to get to experience Disneyland with some of her grandkids. She was especially excited to be a part of watching Leeann meet her favorite person in the whole world--Cinderella! I'm really not sure who was more excited to experience that moment, Leeann or Janice! Throughout the trip Janice never had an opinion about what we should do, she just wanted to watch her grandkids experience Disneyland. Watching her watch them was priceless!

She and I got to go to Downtown Disney together the night before our first day in the park. That was a precious time for me to get to spend with her. We had fun shopping away!

The next day we headed to the park and made a bee-line for Princess Fantasy Faire so Leeann could meet Cinderella. No sooner did we get in the park however, than Janice stopped at the first kiosk to get her a princess autograph book and princess pen. We were on a super-tight budget and when she inquired the day before about whether or not we were going to get Leeann an autograph book, I told her we weren't going to. I think she tried really hard not to step in and get one since we decided she didn't need one. But, ultimately her grandmotherly desire (and wisdom) won out and she quickly snagged a book for her before she went to meet the princesses. Everything else she bought for our kids she asked before hand, but there going to be no stopping her from buying that book! It turned out to be the greatest keep-sake ever, I'm so glad she did!

She later bought Titus a Mickey hat and Leeann some princess Minnie ears. She also purchased matching bracelets for herself, Leeann and me with our names inscribed in them. Leeann bought another one in a different color on our recent trip.

As I try to recount that trip in words there really is no way to describe how magical and wonderful it was. We not only got to experience Disneyland with young kids, but also with their Mee Maw. That trip was priceless, absolutely priceless! Every penny spent and every moment together was worth more than any of us ever could have imaged at the time. None of us would have ever thought that we would have been at her funeral 18 months later.

Whenever I think of her I think about how grateful I am that we got to experience that time with her, and that she got to experience it with our kids. We spent (I think) 10 days together. Since she lived 4 hours away, the kids and I got to know her better during that time then we ever had before. We made amazing memories that will last a lifetime. That trip was undoubtedly blessed by God and a blessing from God! Oh, how we miss her!

On our way home from that trip we already started planning our next trip. That was August of 2007. We decided that being in Disneyland with kids for 2 days simply wasn't anywhere near long enough! So we started planning and saving and dreaming. We originally set out to do 5 days in the park (we ended up getting 7... more free tickets!) We also decided that it was so much fun with Janice that we wanted to experience it with other friends and family members too. We probably invited close to 100 different people, many who initially planned to come, but then the economy tanked and most people bailed.

Still, though, we did get to experience Disneyland with family. It was so great to get to experience the magic with Rob's sister and our nephew's! I'm telling you, it's magical for kids of all ages. Whether you are a kid, acting like a kid, or watching kids experience it, it's priceless! I love making memories and I can't think of a better place to make them :0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happily Ever After!

My happily ever after began 8 years ago today! I'm so grateful to be married to a wonderful man whom I respect and admire. Disney's best fairy tales aren't even this good!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our Final Day

Our final day in Disneyland was on Wednesday. It was a beautiful sunny day and was darn near perfect day in my opinion!

I'd always wanted to go on Mark Twain's boat, and finally got my chance!

Leeann got yet another chance to be 'on stage' if you will. She jumped right up to play bells for this man who was singing jingle bells. She did a great job!

All 8 of us with Mickey behind his house. I think he was filming a movie out back :0)

Leeann was steering Donald's boat.

A little family picture in front of a really, really tall beautiful tree in the middle of Main Street.
Another family picture.

And one more just for fun!

Okay, I lied. One more...

This is Leeann practicing taking pictures. She, once again, asked us to kiss for the picture! The following pictures are also some of her handywork.

This is an area just outside of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. It's right beside Snow White's wishing well and just might be (in my opinion) the most beautiful place in all of Disneyland.

It's a calm, peaceful place and one we'll make a point to visit on any future trips to Disneyland.

And this particular spot is also very special to our family. This was the first place we headed to on our first day at Disneyland in 2007. We have a couple of pictures of our family in this very spot, as we prepared to meet Cinderella for the first time. Most notably, this is the exact spot where our first and favorite pictures were taken with Rob's mom, whom we affectionately refer to as Mee Maw in our family.

So much has changed in the 2.5 years since our amazing trip together. And so much has changed in our lives since her death last February. I wish more than anything that we could have shared these magical memories with her!

She loved her grandkids, and she loved Disneyland. Most of all, she loved getting to see her grandkids in Disneyland. I wouldn't trade those moments or those memories for anything in the world! Perhaps I'll have to dig up some of our favorite Disney pictures with her for my next post.

This is Leeann on Dumbo. It was our first ride and one of our last. Titus begged us to go on this one.

We ended the night by watching Fantasmic followed by the fireworks show. The fireworks ended with 'snow' falling from the sky. Magical! Rob was looking forward to this special moment for a looooong time.

I'd say it was the perfect ending to a perfect vacation!

And just for fun I had to snap this picture. One of my favorite pictures from our previous trip was of these two sleeping side by side. Sure enough, I still love pictures of these cute kiddos sleeping. It's the mom in me!

Daily Recap (as best as I can remember anyway):

Matterhorn (2x)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

It's automatically double spacing and driving me bonkers...

Mark Twain's Riverboat

Splash Mountain

Haunted Mansion (2x for the non-Splash Mountain folks)

Small World

Mickey's House

Donald's Boat

Shopping on Mainstreet

Ice Cream in the parlor

Picture Time (see above)


Peter Pan's Flight

King Arther's Carousel

Innoventions Dream Home



16 rides/attractions and 17,308 steps!

Ariel's Grotto

We enjoyed lunch at Ariel's Grotto on Sunday. This time it was just our family. It was fun, and great to meet all of the main princess, but I'm not sure that we'd do this one again. The food was very yummy and the atmosphere was nice, but I'm not sure the experience was worth the price.
I say this for two reasons. First, we'd already met most of these princesses on our last trip. Second, you actually get more time with them, and get better pictures with them at Fantasy Faire. I didn't particularly like that they all came to our table right at the beginning of our meal. I think it would have been a little more magical if they'd shown up throughout lunch.
Don't get me wrong, it was a great experience, just not quite worth the amount of money the experience cost. Still, it was something that I really wanted to do with Leeann... it had been on my Disney "list" for some time, so I'm glad we got to do it!