Gratitude ~ Day 26

Their eyes wide with excitement, they ask if we’re really staying here.  I see my husband’s tense shoulders from hours driving through the dark and snow.

“Yes, we’re really staying here.”

Peals of laughter and squeals erupt from their little bodies.  Once in our room, they tear out of their clothes and into swimsuits in record time.

Tonight – I’m thankful for well-planned surprises and whispers of “Thanks, Mommy – this was the bestest surprise.”

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Summer Fun and Change on the Horizon

I always do this.  I start a project, or restart one, with every sort of good intention.  I think the biggest lesson I’m learning in life right now is simply to do what I can, when I can.  So, I’m not going to stress, or apologize, or back-blog the thousand and one small moments that I’ve taken note of since my last post in February.  There were some great (and not-so-great) moments.

Instead, I’m going to start here.  Start now.  Sitting in the early morning in a quiet house in southern California.  Months of planning, saving and anticipating our trip are finally unfolding into an amazing experience for our family.

We’re here visiting Uncle Luke and Aunt Ann, and hoped we’d get an early surprise ~ Baby Ewing’s arrival, but it seems she’s quiet comfortable and will make her debut in a few more weeks as scheduled!  Nonetheless, we’ve had clear sunny skies, relaxing afternoons, and magical days at Disney.  As we cross the half-way point of our vacation, we’re about to embark on a journey to Sea World which is sure to thrill everyone, especially my little marine biologist in the making.  He’s been talking about this ever since we Skyped with L and A back last summer! 🙂

As with any trip we’ve taken, we’ve done what we could to plan and prepare, both ourselves and the kids.  We’ve fully expected periodic meltdowns, and I suppose we’ve had a few.  But the bigger picture seems much brighter than I could have ever hoped for.  There have been belly laughs and wide-eyed awe, hand-holding and morning snuggles, unprompted pleases and thank-yous, and seeing the kids grow before my eyes has been one of the greatest parts of this trip for me.

Stay tuned for what’s sure to be a lengthy picture post indeed! 🙂

As for the change, it still seems so far away because we went right from school, to packing, to vacation and there hardly seems to have been time to really think about the upcoming fall.  And yet, it’s there, on the horizon.  This year, after much consideration, I’ll be taking the year off to spend focused on home and health.  I’m not sick, but given all the various ups and downs I’ve experienced with teaching, I truly felt that if I didn’t do something drastic and get my head back on straight, I wouldn’t last another year, let alone another 15 until retirement.

So, I’m going to read, write, pray, learn, cook, clean, organize, purge, budget, encourage, prepare, volunteer, counsel, and cherish the time I have this upcoming school year.  I welcome any advice and covet each prayer.

Gotta remember…

…when we have truly terrific days like today!  When there were more small successes than failures.  When “pleases” and “thank yous” were offered almost without need of reminder.  Days that mark rites of passage like being tough when it’s your turn to have blood drawn.  No tears, no nothing, just awesomeness and bravery.  Surviving a trip to a fine china shop with two small children and not. breaking. anything.  Surprising kids with an awesome indoor play place where they can run wild and free.  Watching your daughter’s world turn upside down as you climb through the play structure with her and let her be the one in charge for a while.  Enjoying a delicious and altogether over-the-top lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  Soothing bruised egos when embarrassing things happen to little ones.  Impromptu trips to Mom and Dad’s where it’s totally OK if we all ended up sacked out on various couches for an afternoon snooze.  Enjoying family sing-alongs on dark drives home, and averting potential crises by making molehills out of potential take-your-medicine mountains.

Yup.  It’s days like this that I need to keep fresh and ready in my mind to realize just how absolutely, positively blessed I truly am.  

Perfect Picnic

So, it’s been a couple of weeks and I haven’t written much about our trip…it’s not for lack of desire, believe me.  Here I thought summer would offer some time to rest, relax and recuperate!  I think I have most of the pictures I snapped ready to share, so you can expect to be bored riveted for the next few days as I give an account of our first cross-country (well, sorta) road trip.

Knowing our kiddos are accustomed to at least 4-5 hour trips to the upper peninsula we figured that getting in an 8-hour driving day would be just about right.  That meant we hoped to stop for the night in St. Louis, MO.  We choreographed our departure just perfectly and were on the road by 2:40 am (yes, a.m.) and made it a good 4 hours before the kids woke up!  Even though we’d left on only one dim light as we carried the kids out of the house, there was a minor moment of panic as Calder began announcing “It’s dark, Mom!  Look at the lights!  It’s dark outside.  Where we goin’?”  We sat in silence for several miles and he soon fell back to sleep!

Here’s a couple shots at one of our pit-stops where Seneca enjoyed some lunch while Calder wandered around playing with his slinky!  I wish I remember where it was – all I know is it was H-O-T and H-U-M-I-D!!

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We finally arrived in St. Louis where we enjoyed a picnic under the arch…because after all is was only 11am!!  That’s right.  There we were at our destination for the night before noon!  

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(He dropped his sandwich and was pretty upset that he couldn’t finish it!)

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Crazy perspective – but I love that I captured her kissy face!  She did this non-stop all week! 

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The first of many family pictures on our vacation adventures!

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 This one is my best shotfor today!  I’m ga-ga for the sunflare!

As we headed back to the car, we heard heavy sighs from our full-bellied babes.  Exchanging a knowing glance, we loaded up and continued on our journey as they settled in for their afternoon naps. 

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While the entire journey was better than we could have ever imagined, those moments of peaceful sleeping were priceless!  We weren’t retrieving thrown toys from the furthest nooks of the backseat, singing “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” or “Oh Susanna!” for the umpteenth time.  Turning our anticipated 8-hour day into 14 hours (well 13 with the time change) was impressive to say the least. 

I’m quite sure the kids were in need of some space to run around, so we encouraged them to do just that.  Of course, the pool was fun and refreshing, dinner was delicious, but of all the things they enjoyed the most – the air conditioner provided the greatest entertainment for the night!