Thursday, June 25, 2015

Picture of the Week - 6/25/2015

Did you hear that shwooshing sound?  That was another week flying by.

Let's see...  not a whole lot of stuff to share this week.

Quinn is doing much better.  He got his stitches out and his jaw doesn't seem to be causing him much grief.  Phew!

Bob and I decided that we should do something productive with our downtime this summer.  (OK, it may not have exactly been Bob's idea, but he's being a good sport!)  We've cleaned out the garage (so my new, to me, car will fit in it) and started tackling the basement.  The basement...  oy vey!  There were boxes down there that hadn't been opened since we moved - 8 years ago.  And the back room has been waiting for a coat of paint for 5 years.  How embarrassing!  We still have lots of work to do, but the storage area is looking great and we have a giant pile of stuff for the charity van pick up on Tuesday.

Speaking of Tuesday, that's my last day of work at this job.  I start the new one on July 6th - which gives me 5 whole days next week for painting and cleaning.  Woo Hoo!

The last little update is that Zane got to pick up his football equipment last weekend.  He's so excited!  He has the cutest little helmet and the nicest pair of shoulder pads we've ever gotten from a football program!  Here's a picture of him playing with our Football Guys the day he got his stuff.  We can't wait to see him all suited up.  I think they are doing evaluations the second week of July.  So it won't be long now!  (The hardest part of this fall is going to be trying to get Beck to understand why he's not allowed to be out on the field hitting kids too!)

This weekend I will be packing the big boys for their week at camp.  They leave Monday.  And if we have time, there will be painting or cleaning or organizing too.  If you're bored, come on over!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Picture of the Week - 6/18/2015


We've all made them.  If you say you haven't, you are either lying or you are not actually living.  I have made lots of mistakes.  Normally they are pretty innocent and don't have a big impact on the big picture.  Every once in a while though...

Parenting has brought me an opportunity to make ALL KINDS of mistakes.  I'm sure you are all sitting behind your screens reading this and thinking about things that Bob and I have shared that you think are giant missteps.  I may even agree with a few of them. :)

I think, in general, parents today try too hard to prevent their kids from making any mistakes.  (Hello helicopter parents...)  I get it.  As parents we have lots of experience (and WAY more common sense) than our kids.  It's normal to want to help them avoid major pitfalls.  It's reasonable to want to prevent heartache and challenges.  But really, is there any better way to learn than from making a mistake?  I don't think so.

Tuesday, as many of you read on Facebook, Quinn made a big mistake.  He wrecked his bike going too fast down a hill and around a corner in our neighborhood.  He's going to be fine, thank goodness.  (For anyone not on FB, he broke his jaw, needed about 14 stitches in his chin, busted his upper lip and both elbows.)  He was a mess - but at the end of the day, very lucky.  Do I wish he hadn't be out there in "harm's way"?  No, I do not.  I'm glad he was speeding down the road with his friends on a joyful summer afternoon.  Do I wish he had been more careful?  Of course!  But now he knows...  he knows where his limit is and he knows what can go wrong if he pushes too hard.  There's no way I could have taught him that lesson using words alone.  Experiences are important.  Mistakes are powerful.

I make lots of mistakes.  And I think they all have taught me something - about something.  Recently I made a pretty big mistake and I'm trying to correct it now.  You may remember that I recently switched jobs.  It was a mistake.  The mistake was not that I left the old place - it was time to leave - but this job is not a good fit to my abilities or my personality.  I knew pretty fast that it was a mistake.  And it's pretty hard to swallow a mistake this big.  Work is important because it allows me to take care of my family.  It also allows me to use my mind and abilities.  And it's a HUGE time investment.  Doing something that isn't "right" just doesn't work for very long.

So I'm fixing this mistake.  I'm switching jobs again - after only 4 months.  I seriously HATE the idea that I will be job hopping.  I hate the idea that I joined this company with people I know and respect and will be walking away from them.  I hate the risk involved with trying something new (even though by all accounts the new job is a much better fit for me - and is also working with people I know and respect.  I start my new job on July 6th.

At the end of the day, all will be fine.  I screwed up.  I'm fixing it.  I learned some valuable lessons along the way.

My message for you today...  don't be afraid of mistakes.  Don't allow fear of screwing something up to stop you from making decisions and taking chances.  Don't stop living!  Fly down that hill as fast as you can.  Have fun!  And if you wipe out, learn how to do it better next time and then try again.  We all wipe out from time to time!

This week is another in our lovely "quiet" summer.  (I am laughing out loud here because this past week was far from quiet!)  One highlight for the week is that we get to go have Zane fitted for his football uniform.  He's starting at Midway in the fall.  Yay!  Have a great week!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Picture of the Week - 6/11/2015

We have found our summer groove.  And it's swell!!

Post school we had our awesome vacation, which was followed by a week of minor mourning.  Now we've moved on to the "enjoy summer" phase of 2015.  I like it!

This is the first year we haven't scheduled a bunch of camps for Spencer and Quinn.  Spence has a kind of odd schedule this summer with his football obligations.  They schedule these practices either in the evenings or EARLY in the mornings.  So he could do local camps if we wanted, but I didn't want to over schedule him for this short period of relative downtime.  Quinn has even fewer plans.  We looked at a couple of camps for him, but nothing really fit our interests and/or schedule.  So he's livin' free and clear for the month of June.  (Both boys are doing a sleep away camp over 4th of July week and we have a couple of other camps booked for July, so June is definitely the more laid back month!)

This novel down time has been pretty fascinating to watch.  We decided that we would request the boys spend 30 minutes a day doing something productive around the house.  Spencer has taken over almost all outside lawn care chores.  It's amazing how much you can get done in 30 minutes if you want to move on to something fun.  Quinn has cleaned walls and scrubbed doors and organized all sorts of stuff.  These little chores are a great way to keep the house mostly clean and help the boys understand that they are expected to be contributing members of the family - at least for 3.5 hours a week!

After the daily chores are done, Spencer does one of 2 things.  He either disappears to his room with his music or he disappears out back to his tree fort.  The tree fort is pretty awesome - in a thrown together with stuff laying around kind of way.  He seems to enjoy some solitude (with classic rock music company) and has worked very hard to build a spot that he can call his own.  He's constantly dirty and stinky.  Quinn is, as always, a social butterfly and is almost never home alone.  He has a little pack of friends and they spend hours and hours together every day.  They roam the streets like a little biker gang.  They take turns going from one house to another to play games and drink sodas.  They have epic (and loud) air hockey tournaments in our basement.  Recently they found a set of walkie-talkies in our basement and they split them up so they can be in constant contact with each other.  It's so refreshing and so SUMMER!!

The little guys' schedule really hasn't changed much.  They are both still at Goddard every day, but Zane is now in their summer camp group, which means he can go on the field trips.  Oh My Goodness does he love that!  They have been bowling and miniature golfing.  They have had the Kona Ice truck visit and have enjoyed a much more laid back, fun agenda.  There are MANY more fun things plans for the rest of the summer for them.  Summer is pretty awesome!!

This week we have more of the same.  A very few evening events, a whole lot of food from the grill, a couple of visits to the pool (which the LBs are really loving this year), and maybe a special summer fun something thrown in for good measure.  It's pretty amazing how enjoyable a simple relaxed visit to Chill Hill for froyo can be when your normal routing just doesn't have space for stuff like that!

Enjoy summer everyone!  Hopefully you are also able to find some time to relax a little more and enjoy the people around you a little more.  It's good to reconnect!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Picture of the Week - 6/4/2015

This time last week we were enjoying a day at sea on our way from St. Thomas to Castaway Cay.  How is it possible that it's only been a week, but feels like it's been months?  I miss vacation.  I especially miss this particular vacation filled with delicious food and fun activities and many, many laughs.

So here's a recap of our Disney Cruise on the Fantasy.  (It's a wordy one...)

Friday 5/22
We started the day dropping off the dogs and heading to the 5th grade graduation ceremony celebrating Quinn's completion of elementary school.  Hard to believe he's heading off to middle school next year!

After that was over we packed everyone van and headed south.  We had a nice, uneventful drive and arrived in Ocala in time for dinner.  After dinner we hit the pool and the boys all swam like little fish until well past dark.  Zane and Beckett both decided that this was the week they were going to learn to put their faces underwater.  I think this means we are going to have LOTS of fun at the pool this year!

Beck is ready for some swimming and the boys having fun.  Someday Spencer will regret the goofy faces he made this whole trip

Saturday 5/23
We drove the remaining couple of hours to the port, got parked, and headed to the Fantasy in the little shuttle van.  The boys were almost as excited as I was!

Did I mention we brought Berber and Pappy?

We only waited a short time (during which Beck was a crazy man and kinda made us want to leave him behind) before boarding the ship.  We headed to lunch and had a nice introduction to Cabanas.

After lunch we headed to the kids club to look around and get the boys all registered for the week.  They had a blast exploring the different rooms in the club.  The Disney touch was everywhere!!!  You aren't allowed into the kids areas unless it's an open house.  It was fun to check out the space while we were in there!  The Oceaneers areas for kids ages 3-12 were SOOOO cool!!!

How adorable is this bathroom?  I love the Mickey mirrors

Quinn supervising Beck in the submarine
Beck playing in the Toy Story room - that structure in the front is a giant slinky dog the kids can climb through!

I love this picture - partly because I happen to know I had exactly a tenth of a second to take it before he took off running again

After leaving the Oceaneers areas we went to check out the Edge.  This is an area just for kids ages 11-14.  It would soon be known as Quinn's home away from home.  I don't have any pictures of the Edge, but it was a really nice area up high on the ship with a great view of the pools.  Think Techno-cool and you probably have a good idea of this area.  

Around this time we were able to get into our rooms.  I'm kicking myself for not taking any pictures of the rooms because they were pretty cool.  We had 2 connecting Deluxe Family Oceanview rooms with verandas.  They were bigger than other rooms I'd been in - by a noticeable difference - and with the door opened between the rooms, it was a really nice retreat from the busy ship.  We were also able to open the partition between the 2 verandas, making a VERY nice place to hang out in the early morning, afternoons, evenings, etc.  We loved our veranda!

Sunrise from the veranda - nice!

After checking out the rooms we quickly changed the little boys into bathing suits and they hit the Mickey pool.  It was CRAZY busy, but they had a blast!

 After the swimming break we had to go to the mandatory safety drill.  This was mostly just boring...  they always are.  But it did give me a chance to grab a picture that I NEEDED to recreate on this trip.  Check this out!

This is Spencer and Quinn in 2007
And then Zane and Beckett in 2015 :)

Here are some more pictures from the safety drill.

Beckett was very sleepy and ended up napping on Bob.  Yep, Spence wore those aviators all the time

Me and my big boys - yes, Spencer is that much taller than me now

Zane making a funny face


After the safety drill we spent some time unpacking and relaxing before we headed to our first dinner.  The first dinner was at the Enchanted Garden.  The food on this cruise was SO good.  It was markedly better than other cruises we've been on.  There were, of course, favorites throughout the week and meals that weren't as awesome, but overall Disney wins the food comparison.

Phew!  Saturday was a big day!!!

Sunday 5/24
This was a Sea Day for us.  We had awesome weather!!  And the whole day to hang out and play.  We started the day with some breakfast at Cabanas and then my mom and I took the little boys to the kids club for an open house activity.  It was nearly deserted!  They ran around and played a bit and then got to solve some puzzles with Donald, Minnie and Mickey.  It was literally just my 2 kids and 1 other little girl.  Pretty cool!!  (Even if the boys got super shy - especially with Mickey.  I could NOT convince them to get a picture with Mickey.  Goofy kids!)

After some lunch, the big boys and I went to a vegetable race.  LOL  Only on a cruise would I spend free time carving up a potato and carrot to make a car.  We had lots of fun - and came in 3rd.  :)

Spencer and Quinn relaxing after our big race in the Tube

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pools and slides enjoying the beautiful weather.  Being on vacation is AWESOME!

Beautiful Zane

We got to celebrate our anniversary during the trip.  What a great way to celebrate 18 crazy years together!!

Monday 5/25
Monday was another at Sea day.  

Not a bad place to have some breakfast!

We played some mini golf

Beckett was in a MOOD and wouldn't pose for pictures.  Being off his schedule and not getting enough sleep really got to him from time to time.  He slept through one dinner and was pretty difficult to handle through several of them.  3 and a half is a tough age.  It's good he's cute (which you can't even see because he wouldn't take a picture...  sigh...)

Hey - there's my cute parents again!

Tuesday 5/26
Tuesday was our first port day.  We arrived at St. Maarten with a rainbow in the background.  Gorgeous!  We had already decided that we weren't going to get off the boat at this port.  We, instead, enjoyed a VERY quiet boat for the day.  Heaven!  


The boys rode the Mickey slide and swam in the Mickey pool all day.  They had a blast.  

As you can probably tell, they were the only ones riding for a long time.  Beckett wore himself OUT on this slide.  They probably rode it a hundred times!

Cool guy

For dinner this day, the adults indulged in an adults-only dinner at Palo.  Delish!  It was really fun to get to "go out" knowing that my kids were having a good time.  Spencer ate dinner by himself with our wait team in Enchanted Garden.  He said his favorite thing about the cruise was the food.  

We started our meal with fancy drinks.  The yellow one is maybe my all time favorite drink!  It was just like I remembered it from our last Disney Cruise in 2008.

Berber and Pappy

Kara and Bob

Tuesday night was also pirate night.  The little guys had fun dressing up and got to do some fun pirate activities at the kids club.  You can tell that Beck didn't have any fun at all.

Wednesday 5/27
On Wednesday we got off the boat at St. Thomas and went to Magen's Bay.  If you ever get a chance to go to Magen's Bay, do it!  Gorgeous!!!  We chose it because I had read that it was very calm waters and was a big bay.  Both were accurate.  When I asked the boys what was their favorite part of the trip, Beckett says it was playing at the beach.  It's hard to argue with him!
Another sunrise from our veranda.  Sitting out there with coffee (room service rocks) before the boys woke up was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

This is Magen's Bay.  So peaceful - and we had the place practically to ourselves for the first couple of hours.


The water was so clear you could see all the way to the bottom!

Playing in the sun and sand and sea all day is exhausting!

After returning back to the boat and relaxing some, we decided to head out to explore the ship a bit before dinner.  There was a very pretty view out the port holes along deck 4 and we had a blast just chilling out in this quiet spot on ship.  I also took advantage of a relatively cooperative group of kids and took a bunch of pictures.

This is the view from the top of the ship at St. Thomas

This picture pretty much cracks me up

For dinner this day we decided we were just going to go to Cabanas for a more relaxing meal.  We aren't used to eating 4 course meals every day and we needed a break!  Also, no one wanted to force the little boys to go sit through another long dinner.  So Bob volunteered for some Bucky time and ate from the counter service places - which are actually quite good themselves.  

Mom and Quinn at a really chill dinner at Cabanas

Thursday 5/28
This was another sea day for us.  It appears that I didn't take a single picture all day long.  How does that happen???  I guess we were too busy relaxing and enjoying ourselves!  

That evening was our dinner show at Animator's Palette.  This was SO cool!  At the beginning of the meal we all had to color in these stick-figure guys.  We could do whatever we wanted to this little men, then we turned them in.  During dinner there were all kinds of cartoons on the big screens to keep the kids entertained.  And then at the end of dinner they had turned all the stick guys into a cartoon.  It was SO cool!  Hard to explain, but VERY fun!  

Fun at dinner in Animator's Palate

Beckett in mom's sweater after a brief nap.  He was just as ornery as he looks!

And this ???

Friday 5/29
The last day of our cruise was our Castaway Cay day.  Castaway Cay is the Disney private island.  It's so pretty there.  It's nice because since it's a Disney island, there aren't any other people around.  Everyone there is either part of the cruise or there to serve the guests.  Like I said, Disney does a really good job taking care of the guests.

This is the view of Castaway Cay from our veranda

We had a nice day at the beach, but it's wasn't nearly as relaxing as the day at Magen's Bay.  We floated a bit, played in the sand a bit, drank some frozen beach drinks, had a really good BBQ lunch, and then headed back to the ship.  

As we were leaving, the clouds rolled in which was a fitting end to a wonderful week.

Saturday 5/30
We got up, had breakfast, left the ship, found our luggage, caught the shuttle back to the cars, and were on the road by 9:00.  Not too shabby.  We were all exhausted and a bit grouchy on the way home.  It may have also been a little bit of depression.  It's hard to be at the end of a great vacation that you've been looking forward to for a long time.

Sigh...  I guess we'll just have to plan another one!!!

Sleeping on the way home