I tried.  I really did.

I tried to be 'in the moment' and have everything done ahead of time so we could enjoy every second of the week before Christmas together as a family.

I decorated the entire house, created a plan for all the fun things we'd do over the break (and shopped for supplies), made ornaments with the kids, shopped and bought presents, ran lots of errands (including purchasing and decorating our tree and three trips to Publix for groceries and stamps), attended a couple of Christmas parties, made my Christmas cards (and mom's too) and all out went crazy trying to do everything that needed to be done in the weeks before Christmas. 

I worked up until the week before Christmas and on my last day at work I went out with a bang -- got peed on, stepped in poop *(yes, my job is glamorous), and had Logan get in trouble at school.  I also managed to have a very precious snowglobe broken into a million pieces (I bought it at a fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation the first Christmas Ryan and I celebrated together. I honestly didn't realize just how priceless it was to me until I found it shattered all over the tile).
But it didn't get any better the week of Christmas.  Ryan had the week off work and I had lots of things planned for us to do...one of which was not 'buy a new car' but we kind of reached a place where our 12 year old Nissan Pathfinder was either going to cost a lot to repair or had to be replaced.  This meant we spent a lot of time talking and researching and using up precious free time as a family deciding what to do and trying to figure out how we'd make that happen. On top of that, Lauren got a stomach bug - one which was totally random and like nothing I had ever seen.  Once she had not been sick for two days and we decided to go out to dinner she ended up throwing up all over me as we walked outside - we had just run into an old friend and there we were talking and Lauren is throwing up over my shoulder as we tried to dash into the bushes (my only saving grace was that we were indeed outside).  One day later Ryan threw out his back and was in a lot of pain - and as you might have guessed, I got the stomach bug.   Despite this, on Wednesday we left the kids at Mimi and Poppy's and drove all the way out to Starke to look at a Jeep and then to another local dealership where we decided we were officially tired, stressed and too broke to by a new vehicle (when you haven't had a car payment in at least three years it's hard to accept that the 'average' car payment will cost you about $450 a month).  Thursday we attempted to cram in seeing Santa and finishing up our present-shopping but the line to see him was a mile long.  So we tried to convince the kids it would be a good idea to just ride the little train they have that drives around the mall and they seemed to like that idea.  We walked over there only to discover it was cash-only and of course we had no cash.  so we went home and tried to be productive -- Lauren and I went to a local produce store to buy what we needed for Christmas Eve dinner (only to once again discover it was cash-only.  Lesson learned:  I really need to start carrying cash).  Ryan and Logan went to get estimates on the Pathfinder and purchase a couple of last-minute gifts.  I think we might have managed to look at Christmas lights that night but it's kind of a blur to be honest.  On Friday morning we ran out to try to see Santa and ride the train (this time it was a success) and then off to Oakleaf to snap pictures of Logan, Lauren and Camryn.  Five minutes into shooting we realized Logan had the stomach bug.  Fortunately we made it home before he got sick but it was about that same time that I realized we had really not finished Christmas shopping for Lauren.  So Ryan ran out to the store while I stayed home with Logan (who got sick four times and is the most dramatic child you've ever seen when he throws up).  Two hours later Ryan got home and I locked myself in the bedroom for the next five hours wrapping gifts.
I'll admit that somewhere in there I had a little meltdown. I was physically and emotionally drained.  And yes, I'll admit I have inherited my mother's 'holiday perfection syndrome' which is really cruel because back before I had kids I used to make fun of her for it.
But despite all this chaos, I really believe God answered my prayers for a peaceful, healthy, happy Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  I prayed for His mercy, for His answers, for His peace, and not only did I receive those things but also the reminder that I needed to slow down and remember this other stuff was just that -- 'stuff'.

I talk about remembering the true meaning of Christmas but get so caught up in all there is to do and we have going on that I forgot the basics.  The most precious gifts truly are those simple things that don't fit under a tree:  health, family, and most importantly, the love and of a God who sent His son to save us.
Unfortunately it just took a lot of things that went wrong to remind me of the way I should have been thinking all along.

So without further adieu, if you've made it this far I'll reward you with some photos (the few that I have) from our Christmas 'vacation'... 

(you can really tell just how bad he was feeling here)

Hope your Christmas was beautiful, peaceful, healthy and blessed with the true spirit of Christmas.



Dear God,

For all I take for granted,
For all I don't deserve (which is pretty much everything),

Thank You. 

For all you have blessed me with and continue to bless me with. 
For all you do to protect me, guide me, teach me, improve me and build me,

Thank You.

For saving me.
For giving me family that knows Your love,
that teaches it and lives it,

Thank You.
For continued good health,
 for a roof over my head. 
For food to eat and water to drink,
for simple yet beautiful things,

Thank You.

For hard times when I need to learn from You and for stability in unstable times. 
For teaching me time and time again the difference between wants and needs. 
For being patient with me as I grow into the woman You want me to be.
For strength when I am weak, comfort in my sorrow, a promise for tomorrow,

Thank You.

For keeping me a work-in-progress,
humbling me when I need it most,
for showing me You are the only way.
For holding my hand
and loving me despite all my faults,

Thank You.

And when Thank You never seems to be enough,
Thank You for understanding.
Thank you for loving me anyway,
for wrapping Your arms around me and protecting me, 
letting me wake up each and every day
to those same blessings I took for granted yesterday.

Thank you God for blessing me much, much more than I deserve.



I tried really hard to get our costume photos to post yesterday....

so that Stormtrooper Rex and his sister Rapunzel could tell you to have a happy, fun and exciting Halloween
but for some reason my pictures kept posting like this:

...but here I am again,
even today - it's still not rotating
sorry about that
and I hope you actually did have
a happy, fun and exciting Halloween!



one year ago...

Looking at these pictures I cannot believe how much my kids have changed {grown} in the past year.

Look at that baby girl with hardly any hair!
She now thinks she's 18, Rapunzel's twin and a know-it- all (her favorite word is "because").

Ah, they used to be so sweet to each other.

(now that she can really fight back -- er, scream and take his toys -- they argue quite a bit more than they used to).

They still have their sweet moments though...for being a boy and a girl and two and a half years apart I do think they do a pretty good job of playing well together most of the time.
This one cracks me up.  She can be the messiest kid but randomly cries over getting 'dirty' (things you wouldn't think would bother her, like sitting in corn or getting her hands painted at pre-school).

One thing hasn't changed -- she still blows me lots and lots of kisses.

I dont think I ever posted these pictures but this is from an evening the kids camped out in the family room watching Aristocats...

A part of me misses that little pacifier. I know that sounds crazy but as you may remember because of her feeding issues as an infant we worked with a therapist - first to get her to get her to take a paci, and then to take a 'real' bottle, and then eventually solid foods.  It was a real struggle for us when she was little and I didn't want to forget about that.  So when the time came for the Paci Fairy to visit, I saved one in my dresser because I just couldn't stand to throw it away. 

About a month ago Lauren found the hidden pacifier, brought it to me and said "MAMA! OH NO! DA PACI FAIWY FOGOT DIS WON! WE NEED TO FROW IT AWAY!" and before I could stop her, she threw it in the kitchen trash can.

I guess maybe if she isn't going to be sentimental about it I shouldn't either.

Sometimes I wish I could put them in a little box and stop the clock for a while (of course I'd be climbing in that box too, let's not forget I am in no hurry for my 30th this year). 

They grow up so fast I can't stand it.

The thing is, looking at these pictures makes them seem so big to me right now but this time next year I'll be saying the same thing about them at two and five.


Happy Fall!

I just can't get enough of this time of year, (even though honestly, we don't have a real changing of the seasons here in Florida like people do in other parts of the country). 

As soon as October arrives I feel like digging out a scarf and boots and grabbing a pumpkin spice latte. 

[In case you're not really feeling it yet, here's something to get you going...]

Pinned Image

Pinned Image 

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

 Pinned Image 

Pinned Image  
[source unknown, found via Pinterest via tumblr.com]

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

I see things like this, start to feel like I should be packing away my summer clothes and then step outside and remember it's still 80 degrees.  Last week we had beautiful, perfect 70-degree weather that let us open the windows and really appreciate fall's arrival. It was amazing. We are now back to high's in the 80's but in the coming weeks that should change and we will get to enjoy cooler temps again. 

The kids have a pumpkin patch at the pre-school and they got to take a 'field trip' there last week and have pictures taken.  This week all the classes will visit again for story time there.  Logan loves any kind of holiday decorations so I finally gave in on Thursday and let him pick out pumpkins for us to take home and put on the porch.  The next morning I took some pictures just before we left the house for pre-school.

[I got two good ones out of about fourty five.]



Logan's 5th

This year we let Logan pick if he wanted to have a birthday party with his friends or a trip to Disney World (we did have a small family celebration the weekend before) - this time around the trip to Disney won (last year ALL he wanted was a party).

We left early Wednesday morning and came home Friday night.  We stayed at the Disney All Star Movies Resort in the Toy Story section (which was obviously a hit for our Toy Story-loving kids).  We didn't take a camera but did get lots of blurry shots with our cell phones, which is better than nothing I guess :)

I had some trouble with Blogger when I was loading these so I finally gave up on putting them in order...

(Opening his new birthday shirt that arrived just in time)

Checking out animals on the safari at Animal Kingdom

He wanted his picture taken here but I told him it was too dark to see his face...he said "well, I think you're gonna know that it's me"

Excited to ride Toy Story Mania

Lauren actually asked to have her picture taken with this Stormtrooper.
She was also very proud of that outfit - she picked it out on a quick run to Target just before we left.  She also picked out a matching headband and nail polish too.  I am such a sucker for this girl :)

Sad that her goldfish were all gone.
completely wiped out.

About to ride Star Tours again for the fourth or fifth time...
(at the aquarium after riding Nemo)

Birthday dinner for Logan at T-Rex...

at the Lego Land play area (Logan was racing a car he had just built)
on the monorail

playing in the splash area and pool at the hotel...
again, completely wiped out (she slept through most of dinner in Ryan's arms)

I think it's safe to say he had a pretty great birthday.