Friday, April 30, 2010

We've Arrived!

We're in Orlando! We're actually quite lucky that we aren't still in Minneapolis as we felt like the family edition of "Amazing Race" trying to catch our connecting flight. "Excuse us, we're trying to catch a flight", we yelled, as we ran down the escalator-style pathways while the overhead announcer called out "last call" for our flight. We are feeling quite blessed that not only did we make it, but so did our luggage.

The Whites should show up at any second - the last of the four sets of us who all flew on different flights, with different connections from Oregon. The Schillings are the room next door, with my parents on the other side of them. The Whites (unfortunately for them), get to share our two bedroom suite. =)

Tomorrow, we'll embark upon Animal Kingdom. The forecast calls for 92 degrees. That's a shocker from our 52 degrees back home. I think I've already gained half of that weight back with all of the indulgences on our flight (so much sweet and salty goodness!) - and I would covet your prayers for this cold I have. The cold and its typical symptoms I can handle, but the way it settles in on the right side of my face....with a dull thud landing at the base of my skull to a headache that doesn't abate - that's not so fun. Fortunately, I found a pretty comfy way to nod off on the plane with an ice pack - and at this current moment, I'm feeling good. I would just really love to not have this be an issue as we are touring the parks - as it really zaps my energy and playful spirit.

On to some pics - taken at the Portland Airport:

This picture was taken after John and Brayden played a game throwing the key card (accidentally taken from the hotel) to a target and scoring their points based on where it landed. I was laying down trying to kill the headache.....

This was taken right before we landed in Orlando - I was killing time by putting a small amount of make-up on Mikayla....we were having fun. =)

Finally, the shot of our baggage cart, right before we unloaded it into the rental car. Only one suitcase per person and 6 total carry-ons......but it sure looks like more!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Managing Expectations

We are here in the Portland Airport hotel, watching "Survivor" - set to take the shuttle at 6:30 in the morning for the airport. Life is good.

The last two nights prior to today - John and I have both ended up awake in the wee hours....... Wednesday our "party" went from about 2:30 to 4:00. John worked on his computer while I did the final packing into the actual suitcases. We watched "Chuck" together, it was super cozy.

Last night, I went to bed very early - quite certain my body would want to sleep all the way through. Nope, 1:30am, I'm wide awake.

The fact that it was past midnight was very significant for me though. You see, I've been on the Atkins Diet for 31 days....and officially, today, it is done for the duration of the vacation. For the record - I lost 12 pounds - and anticipate gaining at least 2/3rds of that back in the next 10 days! =) That's the way the cookie crumbles.....and oh, how I've missed cookies, and cereal, and Russian Tea, and the zucchini bread that I ended up baking around 2am today. =)

Once again, John joined me in our "middle of the night" preparations. In fact, he never went back to bed - and instead took care of work issues so he'd be able to leave around 2pm today.

Getting back to that title - the concept of expectations, and setting our hopes on things we can't control has really been big on my heart lately. Whether it's the weather, how well the scales (don't) reflect the efforts I've been making, or the fact that I woke up today with Mikayla's cold (and sound like Phoebe in that "Friends" episode where she had the husky voice singing "Smelly Cat")- I'm really trying to pray in alignment with First Thessalonians 5:16 exulting us to rejoice always, praying without ceasing, and give thanks for everything.

Today, as I was drumming through my "to-do" list, actually wondering what I might do with the extra hour I might have, I set to begin vacuuming my car at the car wash only to realize the door just shut, locking my keys, purse and cell phone inside. Hmmmmm...... Fortunately, I was able to get a hold of John and he was my "knight in shining armor" within about 30 minutes. But, in the meantime, it gave me a chance to think. I found myself rejoicing that, in a day of wild weather, it did not rain until after John returned with my keys. It gave me time to pray - to stop and sit for a while. And, I found myself thankful that if indeed this cold affects my sinuses, which led to such bad headaches last time around - that, given I've had a couple great weeks of VERY minimal headaches, my body should be responsive to painkillers if necessary on this vacation.

Prior to embarking on such a "BIG VACATION" - the anticipation is such fun - because the sky is the limit as to the fun you can imagine having. But, once we're on the road, officially on our way- I recognize just how crucial it is to keep the expectations in check - because it doesn't take much to feel like I'm wasting time during the very experience I have hoped and wished for for so long. Brayden has so much energy right now - so OTTER-like, so playful - and theoretically this is the time I should be engaging with him instead of asking for the 18th time for him to "tone it down". (Seriously, even as I'm typing!)

I think I'm due for a really good night's sleep.....glad our flight is at 9am versus any earlier. Hopefully, now that we are really at the hotel, the whole "I'm just too excited to sleep" syndrome will abate! Cuz, we're here. Ready or not, Orlando - here we come!!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us!

I have to be honest. Sometimes it's really hard to decide what to put in my blog posts - knowing (and especially not knowing!) who all reads it. Sometimes, I think it's just TMI, sometimes, I worry about offending, and often I worry that it will be perceived that I'm using this blog just to brag. I think that's my biggest worry - as I would never want people to think that. I really try my hardest to use this blog to be very honest about our lives - the goods and the bads - so that when this blog is transformed each year into our keepsake books, it becomes somewhat of a journal of our lives along with all of the pictures included.

So, I have hesitated in my mind whether or not to include parts of John's surprise anniversary letter to me this morning in this blog post. But, last night, I attended the Trinity House's meeting and listened to Lisa Q. share her "Quig's List to Being Single", and then the talk turned into a bit of a panel about dating with all sorts of questions about waiting, settling, and standards vs. expectations. In light of all that - and in hopes that each of those beautiful girls will wait for the ABSOLUTE BEST.....I decided to go ahead and include John's words. I want them to know, if they happen to read this blog - that waiting for the right man is SO WORTH IT.

I'm sharing just some of the portions of John's letter - it was left for me this morning, a full page typed. =)

"I wanted to take the time as I was awake at O'Dark:30 this morning and say how much I love you.

When I went to bed last night, I was thinking of all the things you do for me, help me, remind me, serve me, make for me, love me -- oh, I already said that :) teach and guide our kids, love on them, laugh with all of us, make our house a home, plan wonderful vacations -- like Disneyworld in just THREE DAYS, seeking the Lord together, live life dreaming together, loving on college students together, looking over at you (at the retreat) and seeing 5-6 girls wrapped around you at the lunch table, their eyes wide open and ears attentive to every word you have to say -- me smile -- "that's my honey", I say to myself quietly as I admire the one God gave me for my life.

I need you more than ever. You make my life whole, complete lacking nothing because of what Christ does through you. He surely knew what I needed in a wife, confidant, vacation buddy, parenting partner and best friend. He knew the exact person I could cry with, laugh with, do God-sized things with, watch our kids become something great with, minister with and live eternity with -- that is you, my everything.............

I pray that I could be a fraction of a spouse that you are to me. Thank you for choosing me on April 27, 1996. I am forever grateful."

That's only about half of it, but you get the picture. Obviously, the man sees me through rose-colored glasses (and about those girls hanging on every word, it was probably because - once again - I was bordering in TMI childbirth stories). But, I think the picture of his love for me - and likewise, my identical feelings towards him is pretty apparent.

And, the fact that all this lovey-dovey stuff is being communicated 14 years into marriage. Wow, pretty awesome. Hang on, you wonderful college girls - the ride with the "right one" can be more incredible than you can imagine!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Winema 2010

There are so many pictures that I wanted to include that there is no way I can label and identify them all. (Actually, given Kaela not only took most of these pictures, but had the patience to upload over 1000 images and TAG them on Facebook, I have no excuses....but packing for Orlando is a better use of my time right now). Anyway, I'll give a grand summary....

Fun times, beach times, friend times, baptism times, kid times with all sorts of different college students....even a few shots showing some couple time. Most of all a magnificent time where the presence of God was experienced loud and clear!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Life

What follows is taken from an index card put in our "envelope" this weekend. At the college retreats, ever since we've started attending, they have put up an envelope for each person in attendance and people can place index cards in them to be used to offer words of encouragement.

Wow! What a moment. What a feeling. Thank you for sharing that time with me. Completely incredible and overwhelming. Knowing that someone prayed for me was so heart warming and comforting. To piece together the past few weeks and be able to recognize God in my heart and on my mind is a truly epic moment/feeling. Last light I had the perma-smile while sleeping..... I am truly blessed in all aspects of my life. As I embark on my walk with Christ I will always remember April 24, 2010 and the mountain we moved with the arms of God wrapped around us. It has a been a true blessing spending time with you and your family this weekend. I look forward to spending time with you all in the future.

May we all know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The love of God who creates us and the fire of the Holy Spirit both now and in all the days to come.

With Love.....

This little gal is a new believer as of around 11:45 pm last night. New life in Christ - Hallelujah! I challenged a close friend of mine (who's face you'll see all over my blog) to see if this friend of mine would invite this "little gal" to come to the retreat as she's recently started attending church and CCF with her. I won't go into a lot of details, but despite her upbringing in church, she had never asked Jesus Christ to take residence in her life. So, after Mikayla and I went to bed, John stayed up with her and our friend that brought her - and led her through the prayer, and answered a ton of questions. Wow, wow, wow!!!! So, amazingly cool. I wish I could have been right there, but I think God used each one of us just the way He wanted to. This morning, it was so exciting to greet her with tears in our eyes. Mikayla and I gave her a whole sand dollar I had found on the beach, representing her wholeness in Christ - and to keep to memorialize the weekend. PRAISE GOD.......

Once Kaela gets all of the pictures uploaded (many taken with our camera, so I won't hesitate to use the images!) - I will put up a picture-laden post of the weekend retreat and all of the great experiences we had. In the meantime, I will end this post with some cell phone pictures taken of Mikayla and I this morning on our traditional "special morning walk" on retreats. This time, we ended the walk praying together - specifically for her future husband and staying strong in this life ahead of her. Very, very special!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not-So-Distant Relative

My parents are both only children. That means Michele and I have no aunts, no uncles, and no cousins. Sad, huh? We try to make up for it by insuring our children are super tight so their perspective of aunts, uncles, and cousins is positive.

Growing up, the closest thing I had to a cousin- at least in way you would think of a cousin being close to your age, was "Jason". Jason is the son of my dad's cousin. Which makes us third cousins, or something like that.

The last time I saw Jason was over eight years ago, at the funeral of my grandma. I was two days away from having Mikayla (already overdue with her) and he looked at me constantly with anxiety, quite worried I'd break into labor at any moment. (Not to worry, Jason, I'm still not sure my body is even capable of going into labor on its own as both times I had to be induced). It was funny though - and it had been such a long time since I'd seen him before then - even on such a somber occasion we were able to quickly catch up.

Jason spent two summers at our house. The first one was the summer after my freshman year in college - a year I was particularly lost. His presence made the summer fun - he introduced us to Ben and Jerry's "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough" ice cream (when that flavor had just been introduced) and the joy of the "Terminator" movies. The second summer was the summer in which I started dating John, so unfortunately, the bonding time with Jason was a bit less at that point. (Jason worked for my dad those summers). Jason is one fun dude - that's just a great way to describe him.

Currently, Jason resides in Jackson Hole with his longtime girlfriend, Katie. While on vacation together, they decided to make a visit out to my parents house. The 45 minutes we had together, was way too short. But, right before the picture of him and I was taken together, I asked him how he was really doing - and his eyes lit up as he told me that there's nothing like living life with your best friend. I told how much I agreed - and still agree 14 years later. It was quite sweet.

Unable to resist being the center of attention, this last picture shows Mackie taking off with Mikayla's flip flop. Oh, how he loves to play -

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting the Issues Out of the Way BEFORE We Leave This Time

The last major travel vacation we took was in 2008 when we went to Maui. It was glorious - but not without its share of hardships. While we were on the trip, Mikayla had strep throat, two very serious ear infections, while Brayden and I both suffered from Pink Eye. (And, that's not even counting the throwing up from sea sickness on the day we sailed around Lanai). We've had a bit of a history with "issues" happening while on our vacations - from Brayden having a stroke in Oahu, to hitting Lake Tahoe at exactly the same time the Angora Fires occurred.

So, as Brayden woke up this morning - near tears - at 5:20, telling me his ear hurt really bad - I'm making a very conscientious decision to NOT procrastinate. As soon as 8am hits, I'll be calling his doctor to get him in. (Brayden's had a cold that has hung on for some time, so it wouldn't surprise me if indeed he is dealing with something - not to mention both kids seem to have a pretty high pain threshold, so when they are near tears (particularly our little man) - it's time to act). While I'm at it, I'll take Mikayla too. She said one of her ears feels a bit like that - and, once again, no need to take chances.

And, speaking of Mikayla - she got whacked in the forehead yesterday with an aluminum bat. Purty little goose-egg near her hairline. Because Jonna acted so quickly (she was at Kenady's and her little brother accidentally swung his bat too close to Mikayla) - I think the swelling could have been much worse. I googled "head injuries/goose-eggs" last night and am quite assured it's just the telltale swelling and bump as a result of the external head injury - due to all those blood vessels underneath the scalp. As of this morning, you really don't notice it - but, like I said, let's get this out of the way BEFORE we leave.

So, wish us luck as we head to the doc. And let's hope this is it as far as problems go!!!!

Postscript: Went to the doctor, "Raging Ear Infection". So, he's on the "Gold Standard" of antibiotics - to get it healed up before we hit the plane ride. Theoretically, he should have 14 days before traveling, but I think we caught it early enough to not be an issue. No wonder the kid was in so much pain.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bringing Your "A" Game

With only 8 days left before we depart, emotions are high around here. However, as we all know, hanging on to the "happy high" for extended periods of time is very, very difficult. So, as a result, occasionally those emotions take a nose dive -

That happened yesterday morning. I feel like I've been working overtime trying to keep the house clean, get organized, and oh yes, lose those last five pounds. When, the kids, the tasks, and the scales sabotaged me, for sure, my attitude stunk. There's no point for it when I look at the big picture, but these are the things that sink that happy spirit.

That is, until.....I found "It's a Small World" recorded on a Disney Mania album (on I-Tunes) - and listened to it for the first time while working out. It's a rap version and it literally had me breaking into smile in the workout room. "Everybody get your smile going on" is one of the recurring lyrics - and I just couldn't help but follow their advice.

Attitude - what a daily battle. We are finding Brayden is really struggling with this too - hence the title of this post. He has a "Muscle Systems" report due - along with a 3D project and poster. Technically, it is due the week after we return, but there is no way I'm going to return from Florida only to deal with that depressing deadline. Brayden is also participating in a 5th grade musical next Tuesday. Surprisingly, he has one of the lead roles - so once again, "A Game" needed. So, instead, when I discover yesterday morning he not only hadn't completed his homework but left a sheet at school (which he was able to complete before school started) - we had a bit of a "Pep Talk" on the way to school. (And, of course, that pep talk included the way the kids treat each other and how I CAN'T STAND their arguing, and won't waste all of my enthusiasm prior to this trip listening to their negativity to each other....broken record.......)

So, eight more days. We can do it. And, if, in a week - the scales still aren't nice, the house isn't spotless, and perhaps I've forgotten something in packing (that can purchased easily enough at the Target in Orlando) - we will still be leaving for our dream vacation. And, if that alone isn't enough to keep me positively focused, I'm not sure what would ever do it! =)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mikayla's First Spring Soccer Game

On Saturday, Mikayla had her first spring soccer game. It is a seven game season, and wouldn't you know it, but because of our trip to the coast next weekend and our trip to Orlando, Mikayla's missing four of the games. Oh well, watching her play any games is a lot of fun - and just getting her out of the house exercising three times a week is a plus too.

In addition, we have had an added bonus this year in that Brayden requested that he be able to help out the coach for her team. As he's not playing a spring sport, that works for us - and keeps him busy too. After he asked the coach to help for that first practice, we received a phone call from the coach who praised all of Brayden's efforts and his character for being so willing as a fifth grader to help a group of second grade girls (including his own sister). Way to go Brayden - and certainly a departure from their constant arguing.

Despite Brayden's extra expertise assistance, the girls ended up losing. As it's pretty much the same team as the fall team, these girls are just too nice, and not nearly aggressive enough to be winning.....But, I'll take it any day, as Mikayla's smile just keeps on shining.

Thanks again, Kaela, for the pics - and even more, for coming with Walt to support the kids - Between you guys and Mom, Dad, Michele and the kiddos - what a fan club!