Friday, May 27, 2011

The Flag Guardian and Princess of the Mulch Pile

Well, we braved it - camping in the rain - and I have to say that we survived! The good news is that not ONE child complained or even noticed that the weather was drab - even saying things such as (and I quote) "This is a great place to go camp!" (I'm not sure any adult agreed on that one) and "This weather? What? It's called camping people!" (another actual quote from a second source). The great thing I think we all agreed on was that it was fun to be out there together - far enough removed from our everyday - and to play games like kickball & volleyball. A little competition didn't hurt us (well.........actually, no - never mind).
Behold: The Flag Guardian and Princess of the Mulch Pile

When we returned the boys finished up their last week of the school year. So fast! I know summer is going to fly by too - and I just can't say how excited I am to spend it with them! I feel as if the days, weeks, months, & years are now fleeting - like we are on some kind of downward slope to them flying the nest. Well, probably because it's true. I want to enjoy this summer with my three children still hanging out (in and around) our family nest. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed and frustrated with the chaos, the reminders, the clean ups - that I forget that this is supposed to be enjoyable! This is our family time - a fleeting time - that I hope we all recall with great thoughts,memories, and an overwhelming nostalgia of happiness.
God, help me to remember this throughout each and every day of this summer. Help me to recognize oppurtunities to teach and guide my children and give me the tools and wisdom for each specific moment. I know each child you have given us is uniquely designed by You. Help us to let each be themselves, to encourage them, and to provide them a place where they feel comfortable and can grow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Handmade Portraits: Greg Beauchamp

Random acts of God, most likely, led me to this video this morning. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did.

Handmade Portraits: Greg Beauchamp a.k.a. Beauchamping from Etsy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our first Carnival Cruise!

Well, we are off the boat, but that doesn't seem to cure the sense of rocking that won't go away! I hope I stop trying to balance out soon enough because it's weird to feel like you are rocking on a ship - when you aren't. It was weird enough on the ship! lol

The ship was pretty much what I expected it to be: rocky, crowded, and loud. And a few things I didn't expect: tasty food, cleanliness, and helpful workers everywhere.
*Please note that this the ship and the excursion adventures were free to us, so I'm looking at the whole thing through that lens. Will's employer's monitoring station SentryNet offered a promotion that involved earning points to take this cruise, so that is how it came to be.

Every evening the cruisers aboard would scurry back to their cabins around 5p or 6p to get dressed up and make their way to fine dining (which I could only affirm the coffee on - after our first night dining there in casual attire). We never returned, partly because we weren't ever really that hungry, and partly because (as you see above) this was the time to be relaxing on the deck in peace and quiet watching the sunset! I seriously felt like we (and a few others) were privy to some special knowledge that a salad and sunset in our regular clothes on the deck outside was a far better way to spend the evening than the fine dining on the other end of the ship. But some people liked it the other way, and I was grateful for that too, because it gave us more space to b r e a t h e! :)

If you know me and my love for the ocean, you know I was LOVING this! If I had one word tattooed on my mind it was "E S C A P E." No cell phone. No email. No chores. No other people to have to tend to. Just me. It was crazy! I just had to think about me (and occasionally Will). After 15 years of being a mom, this was the first time I'd ever experienced this (in this way). Will can testify that I didn't worry about our kids at all (likely because I knew they were in my mom's capable care!). I just relaxed and escaped for a few days. Thank you big boat sailing far away. Thank you God!!!!

Will didn't really like going to the high parts of the ship or near the edge anywhere, but I loved those places. At night there were certain places that I could see the stars perfectly. It felt so close to the Creator of it all. I often wondered why He chose to create so much water! I just wanted to dive into it! (not in the way that would end my life)

The Carnival Elation: when it ported in Cozumel, Mexico

Shore Excursion below: Playa Maya Beach Break Deluxe, where we did actually get to swim in the ocean - it was beautiful. There were fish and it was clear and refreshing!

On the last day of our cruise while we waited for disembarkation:

I am still swaying as I try to recall the feelings and thoughts I had while aboard. What I most loved about it was the "no technology" thing. Being connected, of course, has its many benefits. But getting away (with no signals) and forced to be disconnected, was something I hadn't expected to be such a blessing.

I got up one morning to run on the treadmill in the gym (which has windows looking out over the ocean) and then another morning to walk on the outdoor track (which is on the highest deck) and literally thought, "God, this is beautiful! Thank You for creating all of this and giving me an opportunity to soak it in!"

I did have to work hard to keep my balance, and I did fall off the treadmill. I had wondered why so many people were holding on while running! But the joy of being able to do things I wanted to do and put music in my ears that reminded me of the gifts of God, far exceeded the rocking feeling that I am unsure will disappear. hahaha When asked if I would do it again? For free...Yes! :) I might pay for one too, the jury is still out on that one though. I'm just thankful we got to go!