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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In the Beginning... Day one

Awwww.....  they really do love each other.... when they are asleep and not aware they are touching each other.... 
Our trip to Disney started at the ugly hour of 4:30am.  We headed to the airport, made it through all security checks with ease, and awaited our 7:05am flight.
Jake and Holly did amazing on their first time flying.  They weren't scared, no complaints about their ears, nothing.  Holly was so chill about flying that she managed to fall sleep during take-off on our second flight!  Pretty. Awesome.  4.5 hours after take off, we set foot on our resort.
As it does so often in Florida, it was raining when we arrived.  And not just the soft gentle rain that will quickly clear, but a heavy, soaking, down-pour type of rain.  So what do you do if you're going to be soaked anyways?  Put on your suit and dance in the rain.

(The view from our room is the pool and laundry area.  First floor rooms rock!)

Since we didn't have park passes for our first day, we spent our time touring our resort and meandering to nearby connecting resorts.  Then it was time to head to the Grand Floridian for dinner.
The Grand Floridian is a Victorian style resort with plush carpets, elegant seating areas, and a live serenading pianist that knows every Disney tune by heart.  It is also home to the 1900 Park Fare buffet style restaurant which, very suiting, hosts....

...character dining of the most royal Disney members.

Prince Charming


Lady Tremaine


The last bit of excitement, even for the kids too, was watching a live band play even more upbeat Disney songs.   We danced and danced and played name that tune.  

What a great ending to the day!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Its GO Time!

The house has been cleaned.  The dishes are done.  The fridge has been purged of all perishable items.  The kitty sitter has been given instructions.  The lawn has been mowed one last time.  And, most importantly, the bags have been packed.  That can only mean one thing....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Loving This

In order to avoid doing things I really should be doing this evening, I planted myself upon the couch with a bowl of popcorn and one of the many, many books I want to read. (There is always time for cleaning later, right?)  The current book I'm reading is The Year without a Purchase by Scott Dannemiller.  And I'm. In. Love.

The premise of the story is Scott and his wife, Gabby, were unhappy in a life that is the American Dream - a house, two cars, successful jobs, vacations...  They wanted a change and God provided them one.  A mission trip that could last as little as a one month commitment but were moved enough to stay for a year.  After living, surviving, and, better yet, thriving on next to nothing, they came back to America only to have our fast paced, busy, buy-buy-buy culture chip away that new found fulfillment, leading them back to square one.  On every page I'm moved and inspired by their insight.  If I tried to type up everything that tugged at my heartstrings, I'd be in danger of plagiarizing the entire book! I did manage to narrow down one excerpt that I wanted to share with you, but to also remember for myself. 

Recently, our Sunday school class began studying the book Firstfruits Living by Lynn A. Miller.  In the book, Miller talks about how faithful people put God first in their lives by giving away the best of what they have.  Their firstfruits.

Yes, the man is crazy.

But reading this book, I notice that I am doing the exact opposite of what it suggests is the path to fulfillment.  I am essentially hoarding the best of what I have for myself and giving away the leftovers.  If a Boy Scout comes to the door collecting canned food for a fundraiser, I am the guy who reaches into the very back of the pantry, pushing the chicken noodle soup out of the way so that I can snag that three-year-old can of hominy.

Because poor people love hominy.

Its ridiculous.  And when I do give away something of real value, I don't part with it easily.  Instead, I give it with the stipulation that the person must thank me profusely for the gift, acknowledge my awesomeness, preferably in public, and then proceed to use the gift in the exact manner I intended.  Its an unspoken selfishness constantly lurking beneath the surface.

And I don't like it.

Been there.  Done that.  Felt those feelings.  I want to change, to be better, and can do so for a little while.  And then there comes the Boss telling us we need this and that to be successful, happy, complete.  Protect ourselves first and let everyone else struggle in the meantime - the 'they've probably done something and made poor choices to deserve it anyways' mindset.  And in the very next paragraph there is more wince worthy, hitting the nail on the head, painful truth:

One evening, Gabby and I are discussing our general dissatisfaction with getting further and further away from the joy and fulfillment we felt ten years ago.  Its one of those wonderful reflective conversations where you feel that you are really accomplishing something by examining the trajectory of your life with the added satisfaction of making no real commitment to change anything for the better.
Oh snap.  I have had those conversations.  Many times.  There is something about them that does make you feel very accomplished.  And yet that feeling wears off and you are back in the same rut with the same arguments all too soon.  Talk is good.  Action is better.
That is, until Gabby asks a hypothetical question.

"What if we didn't buy anything for a year?"
Shaken from the comfort of my own inaction, I respond as any good husband would.
"Wait.  Are you saying that I buy too much stuff?"  I bark at her, ready to challenge every frivolous purchase she has made in the past six months.  A new dress.  An art set for Audrey.  Incredibly soft toilet paper.
"No.  I'm just saying it would be interesting to see if we could do it.  If we could get back to a simpler lifestyle.  A life more connected to God.  And one another."
Challenge accepted.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Holly's Big Day

Wait a minute...
Holly is old enough to go to school?  How is this possible?!?  I'm not sure either but never the less - the time has come and off she goes!
Holly Jacquelynne
Preschool 2016-2017
3 year old class

Don't be fooled by that cute smile.  As she realized that I really was going to leave her there, the flood gates opened and I heard her crying all the way down the hallway as I headed off to work in the school library.

Her wonderful teacher stopped by my room to inform me it didn't take long for her to calm down and she was happily playing with the other kids.  A short time after that, her day was done.  She joined me in the library and kept me company until my day was done.

We moved books, prettied up the shelves, had a snack, and chatted while we worked.  She is definitely a Momma's little helper.  And with the older two siblings at school and no younger siblings coming up, I think its safe to say, and might as well admit it now, she is going to be spoiled with quality time... and probably more. 
Its good to be the youngest. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What I'm reading this week

I think this post would be more aptly titled

'What I don't have time to read this week'

The stack on my nightstand gets taller and taller but the days keep getting fuller and fuller. 

Here is what I'm attempting to read:

This is the book that the movie 'Everest' is based on.  I saw the movie but, as we all know, way too many details tend to be left out of movies and I'd just like to know more.

This is the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series.  Although I wasn't very impressed with the first book (which has already been made into a motion picture and hits theatres at the end of September), I am pressing forward in the series and am pleasantly surprised how much I am enjoying this book than the first.

The concept of this book is simple:  "The difference between needs and wants had grown very fuzzy, and making that distinction clear again would require drastic action: no nonessential purchases for a whole year."  Well...  you've got my attention.  Lets read further. 
I'm not planning on reading both of these books.  The topic of both are on the 2010 Gulf oil blowout that is also coming to a theatre near you in September.  I would like to get a little back story, a little more knowledge before seeing the action, drama, thriller Deepwater Horizon
Again, I probably won't read both of these.  I'll probably just scan 'Junk' for interesting and useless facts.  'Unstuffed' though...  I think that one may help in the mental stress of this season of life that I am in. 
Truth be told, I'm not sure why I have this one.  Concept wise, it doesn't sound too bad, but to carve time out to read a so-so book when there are so many others out there calling my name?  I don't know.  Good thing is - I have it as an audio book too.  Here's to "reading" on the road.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Rachel's Big Day

Remember back in June I mentioned a new adventure I was on but didn't tell you what it was?
Today is the day.  The time has come to reveal.......
I have a new job!
I am now the librarian for St. John's Lutheran School. 
Don't worry - I still have my old job at the public library.  This school position popped up and presented itself with great challenges (and even greater rewards) and I seized the opportunity.  Its only a few hours a week and the school was so kind as to schedule library for the students on the same day I take Holly to preschool - at the same school!!  How could I pass this up??
This is the before picture of the library:

The first unit (far left) with the Charlotte's Web poster on it is NOT part of the library. That is teacher storage.  Overall, it is not very big but there is much work to be done.   The school is going to go through accreditation in a few years and having a current, up to date library is vital.  That's where the work comes in....

Ripped spines, out dated books, no classification system, and minimal budget are just a few of the hurdles in front of me.  The school also started an accelerated reader program last year that needs help getting on its feet.  These are some pretty major obstacles to overcome but I am excited and oh so ready to get started!!
But before tackling anything too big, today on my first day, I started with the basics.  
The ambiance.
  Down went the old school posters and up went Star Wars, Batman, and whimsical pictures about books. 

In came colorful, organizational baskets and chalkboard written quotes about reading. 

Out went the cassettes so very coated in dust and still in their wrappers....
Out went VHS tapes when the school doesn't even own a VHS player......
Up went any current series of books for the ease of students to find.

And finally, up went silly reminders to please return your library books in a timely manner.

There is so much more I would love to do and I will.  But today was only day one.  There is greatness yet to come and I'll be sure to tell you about it. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rough Days - Take 2

4 years ago - wow, can that be true?!? - I wrote about Jacob's Rough Days when trying adjust a new morning school routine. 

And now, 4 years later with two children going off to school, someone else is facing that same early morning problem.   

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gabrielle's Big Day

Ah, third grade.
No longer one of the big fish of the 'Primary' school, this year Gabrielle starts as the youngest grade at the 'Elementary' school. 
This year also brings more homework, vital and pivotal testing, switching classes, and (most important to her) better lunch choices.  Its going to be a tough year with lots of focus and dedication needed from both us and her.   

 And if we make it out alive, next summer will be all that more sweet.
THIRD GRADE 2016-2017

SECOND GRADE 2015-2016
FIRST GRADE 2014-2015
PRESCHOOL 2012-2013
PRESCHOOL 2011-2012

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jacob's Big Day

 After making the choice to keep Jacob in preschool an extra year, the time has finally come for him to start KINDERGARTEN!
I wasn't sad seeing him walk into that big school with his oversized book bag.... or maybe its a normal sized book bag on my child that falls in the 34% category for his height. 

I'm more worried about him struggling and how will I be able to help him without making his frustrations worse. 

Maybe that is a natural reaction for parents of boys.  The stigma is that boys struggle, they don't like to read, they don't catch on as quickly, etc.  But maybe instead of pigeon-holing him and worrying, I need to have faith in my child that he will do great.   

He may not excel in reading or math like his sister and that's okay.  He is not his sister.  He may surprise us with some uncanny academic talent.   

With as much encouragement and excitement towards school as we can muster, I know my baby boy will do just fine. 

Preschool 2015-2016

Preschool 2014-2015

Preschool 2013-2014