Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tidbits from our Road Trip


Travel!  Adventure!  Words I long to fully embrace...  Every summer, Marty takes at least one week to go to camp or on a mission trip with our youth ministry.  This year instead of staying home, I contacted some friends from high school and went road trippin' south.  It was a blast!   


Besides our potty/change out of jammies stop at Sheetz and our "Ooh, there's Ikea!" stop, our first real destination was outside of Greenville, South Carolina at my sweet friend, Chelle's.  Getting to meet her husband and newborn daughter for the first time was so special, not to mention how thrilled Sophie was to get to play with another 4 year old (since in her mind they are a rarity.)  Eating a late lunch, snuggling with such sweet newborn cuteness, picking the last of their blackberries, and making antique ornaments made this a perfect rest stop before moving on to Atlanta.

Driving to Atlanta was not nearly as stressful as I had thought it would be.  I had already discovered which essential oil helps to relieve the tension in the back of my neck on the way to South Carolina through pouring rain, Charlotte traffic, a broken DVD player, traffic jam on I-85 (thank you, Google Maps for the side route!) and the constant need to use the bathroom. (It's a blend called Past Tense, in case you were interested.)  Rush hour was over and thanks to a bag of chips and Ella Enchanted on audio book, we made it to Atlanta before nightfall. 


You never know how your children will react to new friends and you pray they will at least be cordial, but last week, it was so precious to see my three get along so well with my friend, Steph's three little girls.  It was honestly better than I could have imagined. Spending time at their pool, playing My Little Ponies, eating amazingly yummy food, and catching up on life in general were a few of our highlights.



Anyone who knows my family well can attest to our love for the zoo, so imagine our excitement in visiting a new zoo! Steph had a season's pass allowing our family in free too, which was such a blessing!  We squished our six girlies into Steph's vehicle (which Chloe thought was amazing... the car, not the squishing) and thank goodness Steph was driving because I would have had a heart attack driving through Atlanta to get there.


We tried to feed the birds.



Our growing animals...



Chloe and Elise, best buddies.




The highlight of the zoo for my girls!  Baby Pandas!  I think I was just as excited as they were.  They were so rolly-polly and squishable!



Speaking of rolly-pollies...



The time in Atlanta ended well and I'm so thankful for friends that can pick up where we left off, spend hours talking, and simply enjoy each other's company (and children).  



Greenville, Greenville, where have you been and why haven't I visited you before?  With time to spare before arriving at camp, the girls and I parked in Greenville with the mission to explore!  I loved every inch of this place and wish to return sooner than later. Everything from the coffee shop (Spill the Beans) to the falls running through the middle of town, we enjoyed it all!  Picnicking on a family-size swing over looking the river ended our time well before getting to see Daddy at camp.










The best travelers I could have asked for!





Our trip ended with a dance party (seriously!) by joining Marty and several hundred students at North Greenville College where they had been at camp that week.  This was definitely a highlight for Chloe who is now counting the months till she can go to M-Fuge as well.  




On Friday, the girls and I spent a few hours in Ikea again, which is always a treat for us.  The ice cream melting all over our hands on the way out may not have been as thrilling as expected, but soggy ice cream is still ice cream.  An hour later, we concluded our trip with a stop at my sister, Kristi's, house.  Naomi and Sophie adore Ava, and Chloe loves caring for Zeke any chance she gets.  It was the perfect rest stop before our last leg home.

Lessons learned...
- Audio books are great for entertaining older children and putting younger ones to sleep.  Win, win!
- Opening gifts every hour or so is still a favorite, even when you're ten.
- Google Maps can be so helpful in traffic!  Am I the last person to discover this?
- Trader Joe's Edamame crackers and Dark chocolate Raisinettes are amazing for keeping drivers awake.  Probably not simultaneously though.  
- Road trips are always a good idea, no matter how far you travel...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Focusing on Freedom


July is usually one of my least favorite months of the year due to the intense heat of the south and the absurd amount of insects attacking my face.  My focus on what is important can so quickly grow dim, while the thorns and worries of life seem to stare me in the face.  Even with those distractions, this month has begun with rest in my soul and a desire for freedom from the thoughts that fill my mind with anxiety.  


The summer months resonate with community coming together. Friends and neighbors keeping it simple with lawn chairs, popcorn, and a last minute movie in the back yard.









Family becomes more precious.  Spending time with my nephews and niece has become more intentional knowing that our family will spread even farther in the near future. Even short phone calls with my sisters seem more precious.






Glancing back on Independence day causes me to breathe deeply, longing for more days like it.  When one side of me wanted to fill the day with plans and people, God gave me such peace in reminding me of the people He has put right in front of me:  my sweet little family.  That day in which we remember the freedom given to us years ago, also brought freedom to my soul, allowing me to choose to rest, to choose the simple, and to choose my family above the busyness that seemed enticing.  

A relaxed breakfast with one of my sister's and our families, weeding the front flower bed, baking a blackberry cobbler, turning off the social media and lounging in the backyard pool, Friday night movie and pizza...  All of those things gave such freedom, freedom to rest and give thanks for the blessings God's placed right in front of me. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Oh, Spring, where have you gone?






From celebrating 10 years with this amazing girl...



To the dreams of flying again... 


 

Treasuring every moment with these girls...

 

Yet, taking the time to rest...




Trying new things...



Memories made with Nana...


Rekindling the past fourteen years...


Yet thrilled to see what the future holds.