Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week 3 - #52weekchallenge Vacations...

It is hard to post about my best vacation. 
We have been fortunate to go on many of them. Mostly to the same place, a lot! 
Disney World is a place we have been to many times. Sometimes twice a year. Not recently, but it has been known to happen. 
We have been to Disneyland in California as well. Most recently to Vero Beach. Coming up though we have our first return Disney World since August of 2011. 

So, how do we get to go so often, and how have we not needed to remortgage our home to do so? 

Well, we plan way ahead. 
The best way to visit Disney at a lower cost to you is to prepare ahead. One of the best things we ever did was purchase points in the Disney Vacation Club. 
We pay monthly for this. Our payments will last  approximately 10 years for 50 years of vacations. This is huge because we can stay at any Disney hotel on Disney property, and use our points. Each hotel has a different point value, but we get a vacation no matter where we stay! 

Tickets!!!! Disney theme park tickets are expensive. There is no easy way around paying to go into the parks. Remember, those tickets pay for ride repairs, employees, and much else in the park. (And I know, it is not nearly their only source of revenue...). When we were going every year we would purchase 10 day park hoppers with no expiration. This meant we would have 10 total days to go into the parks, but normally we would us 5 a trip. They are good forever, so it didn't matter when our next trip was. We still have 1-2 days in a few tickets. This is the least "cost per day" option, but it is a huge investment up front. When we went twice a year, or close to it with our annual trips, we would buy annual passes! About the same cost as the ten day, but it is unlimited for one year of access. I believe one year our marathon trip overlapped and we got three trips on one annual pass! With the annual pass you get discounts as well on shopping. It varies by year. 

But the plane costs more than the tickets!?!? This is the part where you are going to tell me how crazy I am...
We don't fly
We travel from Rhode Island to Florida by car. We drive our family to Florida and probably crazy, but we drive. As a child, my parents would take us cross country in the car. I learned to drive in a road trip. 
So we drive. We pay for gas, and three meals on the road, and we get there at the cost of less than one plane ticket. And I love it because flying is horrible for me. The anxiety of packing to fit in a plane and not having an exit plan...too much! So we drive! 

Now food, food in the park can be expensive, but head out for a night at the movies and you will pay close to the same. And why do you pay that much? Because they have employees to pay. But, you don't have to eat every meal in the park. We drive, and stay in a room with a kitchen. So we get the benefit of prepping breakfast, packing snacks and refrigeration. All very important. So we buy supplies at a local Target and out cost is lower. 

To relax, well, we ride rides, swim, and go window shopping. We try to pack a few board games and talk ahead of time about what is important and what we should skip. We askake it a point to spend time just sitting in the park for even a few minutes and taking in the fact that we are there! You CAN NOT see everything at WDW in one trip. EVER! So don't try. Know you will miss things, plan to go again, and just enjoy the people you are with! 

I know this was a detour from my assignment, but the last family vacation I took was not a pleasant one for reason I won't mention here.  I pray that the one coming up will be something  to write about! In fact I know it will!

So what is your favorite vacation? 
And would you recommend it to others?

And it is never too late to join the 52 week challenge from

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I don't wanna!

In December I had a physical. I knew what the doc was going to say, but I hated hearing it. 
"Change this and this, and do more this"

Not really a quote, but the reality is, in the six years I have been seeing this doctor I have gained 50 pounds. Truth is I have gained and lost that same 50 pounds several more times than 6 over those six years. 

I have been on a trend of yo-yo dieting for years. But this time, I heard what he said as something more than that. This week I will turn 35. Not old, but not 18 either. I have had three kids and a hysterectomy. My body doesn't act the way it did when I was 20, but something had to change. 6 more years and 50 more pounds would be devastating. 

The week following Christmas I started using the Loseit app and tracking my food intake. I did only this for the first week. This was huge in helping me realize how much I eat. 

The second week, I started running. Now when I say run, don't think gazelle, think limping tortoise. I am by no means a runner. I enjoy the feeling of being outside, headphones in and just going nowhere. That does not mean I get there fast. 

One week later Chelley very innocently sent me this Facebook post saying
Hey we are practically neighbors, when are we running together? 

That was it. I figured she would run once with me, discover how slow I am, and then never do it again. 

That didn't happen.

Here we are two or three weeks in and  we have gone out almost every day. She definitely goes more than me, but we go together and we keep a decently fast pace. I am so grateful that she reached out, and I am so glad to have a friend that gets me. She doesn't let me quit, and she also holds me accountable. 

So for the last few really cold days, and even today in the snow, I said "I don't wanna!!" About going outside, but the truth is, I haven't regretted a step. The conversations we have and the friendship that has blossomed are worth every cold step! I really have no excuses not to spend time with this lovely lady! Thanks Chelley! 

Support Chelley by visiting her blog 

Week 3 - the reading spot

Well, here we are, week three, and I must say, I have thought about week three all week. You see, I love to read. I am picky about what I read, but I love to read. 
This spot on my couch is where I have done a lot of reading. Actually on a couch I no longer own I laid and read every Harry Potter available in August of 2003 while resting during the last week of my first pregnancy. A couch is comfortable. And when the boys are sleeping and I have time, it is nice to curl up and read. 

Unfortunately, this hasn't been as possible lately. 

For my birthday this year, my husband helped me create a new reading space. He purchased this couch for me. 

It sits on my porch where it is too cold to sit on now. In the spring this will be where you can find me with a book or my pencils and sketchbook. When we bought this house I feel in love with the porch. Enclosed, but still "outside " it is a great retreat space for me. 
This porch is now the space that I have always wanted, and the couch completes the atmosphere!

But there are two other places I read. My bed. Is a sanctuary that I can sit and rest in, and it has become one of my favorite reading places. It is quiet, and comfortable, and a place I can fall asleep while reading and not worry about what time it is! 

And one other place is my husbands car. When we take long car rides I either watch a sappy movie on Netflix or read a good book. 

Now not all of my books are paper. This device has been a source of many great books:

This is my iPad (I think iPad 2?) with the kindle app. Best way to carry many books! I love that I can switch from phone to iPad and keep my place! 

But my reading isn't just for me. It has grown to my children. I could spend hours at Barnes and Noble. They could spent days. My physical books are one shelf, theirs are more like 10! 

And their favorite place to read? 

And in the car! Just like their mother! 
And when my children's worst clutter is  this:

And this:
You know you have made an influence as a parent. 

And to see Aaron at six have a collection like this he can read, I know they will have no problem succeeding because they love their books! 

I am so grateful that my children have found places that work for them to read, and I am glad that they love the adventures a book can take them on! 

Off to crack open a new book! 

For more about the #52weekchallenge go visit my friend Chelley here:

And watch here for more every week!
(Photo credit to Chelley for this, but captured on my iPhone.) 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Week 2 - Marriage

I write a lot here about the boys, but I don't think I often share about Stephen or myself. So here I go in response to the 52 week challenge as week 2 is "relationships" and I am choosing my marriage.

Steve and I started talking to each other in February of 1998. Our first official date was June 22, 1998, and it wasn't an ordinary date. We lost a mutual friend to tragedy, and had agreed to that night for a date before this tragedy. We went to her wake, and then headed to see a movie. At that wake, I fell for him. As I cried, he placed his arm around my shoulder and kissed my forehead gently. Apparently that was all it took! 

We were "boyfriend and girlfriend" for several years. It was never perfect, and at times it seemed as though it wouldn't work. We were at a place where faith was not a friend to either of us, and we spent our days picking each other apart instead of building each other up. And once again someone else's tragedy changed our course. Steve tells it that on September 11, 2001 he realized that life could end in a moment, and he didn't want to wait to ask me and possibly lose me. So on October 13, 2001 he proposed, at a lighthouse in Jamestown, Rhode Island where we often went to go hiking. 

A year later we were married on November 16, 2002. 

The rest as they say, is History. But I am not so sure you believe that is all there was. Steve and I have faced trials, health issues, family "drama", losing of jobs, loss of health care right before a child was born, and at times uncertainty if we were even willing to be a team anymore. 

All of this created something between us that for me, is wonderful. 

We discovered we spent more time talking at each other and not to each other. We had conversations, but we didn't listen. We were two parallel roads never intersecting. 

We learned in our darkest place that we loved each other, and needed each other.  Our children needed us to find a way to merge lanes and be on the same road. 

Ever since then we have found a way to communicate that is amazing. We talk, not about our day or any non sense. We talk about our family, where we are, where we want to be, what we need, what we want, and the we gameplan together to make it work. 

We aren't perfect. No couple is. We still need work. We have committed to each other, to our love, and we have discovered we can do many things when we work together and remember we don't do it for us, or even our boys, but to be beacons of Gods love in this world.

When I think of my husband, I think of the unconditional love he has for me, that I try every day to repay. 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Long time no type...

While I know not many of you read this, for those that do, I am sorry for not posting sooner!
It has been an amazing year. I am currently a second grade teacher at a Christian school about 45 minutes from our house. The boys are able to attend school there, and honestly, it has been more amazing than I ever imagined! 

Caleb is doing really well. He has made new friends, and really found himself. He is on the worship team, and was even asked to write a piece for the school "newspaper". He has grown so much.

Logan has grown as well. He has really focused on his faith, and how he can help others. He has a friend in class who is struggling to stay on task and Logan has really stepped up to help this friend and to pray for this friend. He is doing amazing academically. He is also on the worship team and was the pick for best summer story from his grade. He gave the cash prize back to the missions we donate to. His verbal question of should I be a pastor has already been spoken by his actions. 

Aaron is not just thriving, he is living in this environment. He is reading and writing and is helping his classmates. His teacher is tough but I know that it is the best thing for him. He is expected to perform well, and he does it! He is also on the worship team and is so excited to do it! 

The blessings this new opportunity have provided me are many. For the first time I am doing something that is so much more than me. I have 13 students and I am so in love with these little angels. I have had my trials, but overall, I have grown so much as a teacher and as a person. I have seen prayer in action and I have realized my faults and how exposed they are for my students. I have made mistakes and have owned them. I truly believe this has helped my students. 

Stephen and I have found a rhythm to both being full time employees while at the same time remembering that what we do is for these boys. 

Right now, I am at a place  where I need to do for me a little. So I am going to take the next 52 weeks and use this blog as a place to answer a challenge posted by my friend Chelley. So forgive me for stepping away from the norm and posting about myself and the boys, which I have never done before!