Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Monday, April 30, 2018

We're Back! Bahamas Cruise Highlights Part One

Hey hey hey, we're back! And for the record, let me say that I cannot believe that this is the last day of April. What in the what?! I'm feeling the pressure of graduation looming on the not so distant horizon so I'm going to have to focus all my energies into that this month. But first things first. Vacation. Our very first cruise. Very first trip to the Bahamas. There were highs and lows, of course, but overall, it was the wonderful adventure with our children that we'd hoped it would be.

I'm just going to let the pictures do the talking because it's getting late, I just settled Levi back to sleep in my room, and I've decided to give early morning workouts another chance. We'll see how it all goes. :)

I was thrilled that there were no inhumane pre-dawn departures for this trip. We drove to Logan in Boston right after lunch. Lots of nervous but mostly excited energy on this drive, ha ha.

Goofballs :)

Love the sight of the Tobin Bridge!

But the tunnels freak me out royally!!
Of course everyone around me is sensitive and does not harass or make fun of me in any way. Of course. Yeah, right.

We grabbed a few snacks at the airport before boarding. We haven't flown from Logan in a while, and while I'm thankful for the extreme safety measures, they do seem pretty extreme. We got held up for several minutes after one of the security checks because of... Levi's three board books. What? I mean really.

He was excited and nervous and curious all at the same time, but he LOVED take off and landing. Weirdo, ha ha

One of the suspect books right there. Better watch out for those mouse cookies!

 He had so much to say. About everything!! :)
We learned something important on this flight: Levi was not gonna sleep. Good to know.

And then we made it to Orlando! I love the international airport. It's gorgeous, mainly because it's in the south and something is always in bloom. A real treat for us northerners. We opted to stay near the airport since it would be well after dinner time by the time we landed and got our rental. (It was cheaper to rent a dumb van for the week than to just get rides to Port Canaveral for all of us. Crazy. Plus, we could come and go as we pleased and not have to wait for shuttles and such, which was SO nice.)

By the time we found dinner- thank you, Wendy's, ha ha- and came back to the hotel, it was about 9 pm. The perfect time for a swim!!! We haven't been swimming since early September!
I should've just changed and brought Levi in with me, but I wasn't sure he would even want to go in the water. The other kids usually had some sort of adjustment period getting used to the water after fall and winter. Well, not this one! He was going to jump right in! It totally surprised me because he is not generally a risk taker. Cute little stinker. :) I let him play around on the steps in the pool and in the hot tub- here he was pretty annoyed with me that I was trying to take a picture when he wanted to be in the water, ha ha. He was plunging to the ground...and he's getting hard to hold when he wriggles like that!

Okay, so the night in the hotel stunk. Just was bad bad bad. I can't get into it here, but someone who may or may not be in the next picture was just making things miserable. That part is so hard. I don't handle that well as a Mom, either, meaning I'm not super compassionate in this area. I guess I'm more in the camp of  "get over it because it's not all about you." So there's that.

But the next morning was a fresh start to a brand new day. We didn't have to rush, which was really nice. She was drawing here, with her feet in the pool. Living her best life. :)

Meanwhile someone was still trying to get in that pool!

Since we had never cruised before, I was slightly anxious about what to expect. The thing that stressed me out the most? How to handle tipping people! I had read so many different things from seasoned cruisers, and lots of it was so conflicting! Funny the things that occupy our thoughts sometimes. I knew we'd have a mandatory safety drill- which literally took over an hour and a half...seriously??!!- and I knew the cabins would be tight, and all these other things. But. I get stressed out when I just don't know what exactly to expect. I try to keep a go with the flow kind of mentality, and most times, that works just fine.

Here we were, heading to the ship! We were driving a new Sienna, which I absolutely loved, by the way. I drive a Town and Country at home, and it grinds way too much for my liking. This van was so smooth!
 Poor Levi is hidden, but I love Ethan's smile here, so it stays. :)

See? Smooth. ha ha (And let's just not talk about my hair in severe humidity. I learned too late that if I add about four times as much product than I normally do, then maaaaybe I can keep it from flying away. Maybe. What you see is what had escaped being pulled back, ugh.)

We made it on board and explored for a while. The weather was crazy! Huge storm clouds rolled in, though it didn't rain until the middle of the night. We checked out our room and then headed to the pools. Levi was smitten with his private indoor deck, ha ha. It was the perfect size for him.

Look at that sky! I grew up on water, and I felt terrible and nauseous the entire night- it was rough, choppy sailing for sure. Everyone around us commented on how it had never been that bad for any of their other cruises. I would not have anticipated having a problem out on the sea, but I did. It got better finally...the next day. That was a long night.

Also, we decided to purchase a small stroller for the trip and I am SO GLAD we did. We would not have survived without it. I think it's WalMart, but we saw it on Amazon as well - it's a Jeep something and it was great.
We all got ready for our first dinner in the main dining room...and Levi was not having it. We took turns taking him out, and finally Bill just brought him back to the room for a shower and story. I wish I had a nice picture of us all but things were so chaotic and crazy this day...

We chose not to purchase wifi, so the only thing our phones were good for were taking pictures. Everyone took pics of their entrees- they were delicious!! 
Okay, and the menus, because clearly he has no food here in front of him, ha ha ha

We woke up to sunshine and smoother seas. It felt terrific! My adorable cabin mate kicked me to the curb, ha! See that little corner at the foot of the bed with the pillow wedged up against the desk? Yeah. That was lots of fun. What we do for our kiddos. (I'll explain the room situation in a bit.)

Perfect way to start Day Two on the sea! After breakfast, we strolled and explored some more.

See what I mean with the hair? Yikes. No really. YIKES. It needed its own zip code by 9 am. I finally figured out that if I slathered it in both cream, gel and then twice as much Argan oil, then it was okay. Not great, but okay. I was jealous of other ladies' gorgeous manes out there. Truly.

Okay, I've already put in fifteen minutes of cardio whilst getting breakfast and lunches ready...cuz I'm just that good. ;) I'm ending here because this feels pretty long, but tomorrow's post will probably be even longer, ha ha. Hope you have the best day!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Trading in Our Colder Temps...

...for a little fun in the sun!! 

We head out later this week for our first cruise! I'm nervous, I'm excited, I'm worried, I'm hopeful....I'm all over the place! What I'm looking forward to more than anything else is making memories together. It's our first big trip with Levi, and I'm praying it's all smooth sailing! See what I did there? ha ha ha

Have a great week! I'm sure I'll be back with a million photos to post. :)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Favorites...Packing Edition!!

It's Friday morning and I can see the sun for the first time in a looong time! Hooray! I could hardly sleep last night- this whole week, really- because my stomach aches when I start to think about our trip. I'm so excited, I am. BUT. Just lots of details and unknowns and this and that and I think my nerves are shot, ha ha. I should also add that my poor husband is probably going to cancel our Prime membership because of this trip...I think he was annoyed by the first "emergency" extra order the other day, and then another one came yesterday, sooo I'm assuming he's going to be pretty irritated with me when he sees the next two, currently on their way. #oops #helpme

Okay, so now it's two hours later, my mind is a jumbled mess and Levi is having a colossal fit over I don't even know what. So I'm calling it a day for this post and leaving you with just this one picture. Have a fabulous weekend! 

This is typical us, ha ha, and they're all my favorites. Just makes me smile.

Linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites today..

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Week in the Life of Us

Sometimes I like to post a Day in the Life, but then I got thinking that one day I would love to be able to look back and have some more specific details about our family life as a whole at this stage of life. You know, before BIG changes happen later this year. #idontwannatalkaboutit

Our mornings are fairly routine. When Caleb was around four months old, and still not sleeping, Bill started leaving for work around 4:20 AM. It allows him to avoid most traffic delays for the commute, and he is always available to watch a game after school. And help out with dinner! That's huge. I admit, this schedule is wearing on us both now, but it still works. Especially since this little guy still wakes up between 4 and 5 most mornings before I put him back to sleep.

So anyway, I'm used to tackling the morning routine solo. Lots of times, monkey boy is hollering (in the funny "come get me!" way) by 6:30, and one of the boys runs upstairs to get him. I think they really like that, too.

Three out of four boys are usually in a good mood early in the morning. Any guesses? ha ha ha

One or two school mornings each week, I make pancakes. Other mornings are toast and eggs or something quick, but it's usually hot. We love our big carb-fest breakfasts over the weekend, too. Which, when coupled with the cruddy weather, that makes me want to eat comfort food and NOT go for a run in the freezing cold, has proven detrimental to my swimsuit shopping endeavors for our big trip. Yikes!!!

Wednesday mornings are busy- everyone except Ethan piles in the van for the various drop-offs. Isabelle goes in early to help out in the elementary school on Wednesdays. I bring the younger boys in on Fridays, too.

Then it's play time. Or destroy the house time. I throw in another load of laundry, clean up (yeah, that doesn't usually go far with the tornado running loose), and get ready for the day. Honestly, once or twice a week, we aren't dressed before ten. I'm okay with it. :) If Levi is still playing happily at this point, then I get some sewing done.

Most Tuesdays, we're getting groceries. I just noticed that he's in pajamas, so this must have been coming home from drop-offs because I have never brought him out in jammies. I know some Mamas do, and that's fine, but it isn't for me.

Thursday mornings are for Story Time at the library. Love our Thursday mornings!

Handsome boy finally figured out the rocking chair hoist, ha ha
It's so fun up here, Mom!!

Our life consists of lots of appointments, too. Levi's well check was early last week, and Caleb's was this week. Everyone says Caleb looks like me, my Dad especially. This was a no make-up, pull my hair back, rush out the door morning for me, and it was pouring...I think it shows, ha

We try to get outside every morning, but the weather lately has been so bad. Sometimes we just play chase around the house to get wiggles out. Then it's lunch time around noon, a quick change into pajama pants, two stories, and hopefully a good long nap. Levi generally always chooses the same few stories, and they're mostly the same ones from this post. :)

Nap time = work time for me

Bill usually gets the boys from school. Ethan comes home early, works on his last homeschool class, and heads to work on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Jonah usually rushes upstairs as soon as he hears Levi waking up. :)

Tuesday afternoon is our only true nightmarish day in terms of schedule conflicts and such. Usually it looks a little different each week in terms of who's picking up who, waiting around, bringing this one there, etc... We need to get the boys at the high school, then drive over to Isabelle's school- just two minutes up the road- and wait for her, then drop her off at piano lessons, drive Jonah over to his work, and then pick Isabelle up at four. This past week, Bill brought the boys home and then Jonah and I picked up Isabelle, I did the drop-offs, and headed to JoAnn's to get buttons for the vest I'm making for Ethan. And since I was close to the grocery store, I grabbed a couple things I couldn't find at WalMart from earlier in the day (getting stuff for the trip). Momlife, right?? Lots of times, Ethan is able to bring Jonah home from work because their schedules align. Hooray!!! But not this past week. It was me. HA

We try to get outside again after nap, or at least in the sun room because it almost feels like being outside. The problem with that is, when there's no sun, that room stays quite cold. So again, the weather lately... :(

These pics are from last year. This boy is still obsessed with rocks. And water! ha ha ha

The day that teased us into thinking spring had finally sprung. It snowed for the next two days after. Levi, still obsessed with rocks and water :)

I start dinner around four- or Bill does! He is a great cook!- and usually there is quite a show going on outside my kitchen window. I never get tired of watching them!

We eat dinner around 5:15. I cannot wait until we can go outside and play after dinner, too, but not yet. Soon I hope!! Once or twice, we need to go pick up Jonah from driver's ed around this time. His class times are different, so we get four more drop offs and pick ups each week. We are SO lucky. :)

I'm a planner. We were going through a trial run of what to pack after dinner and someone really wanted to help. He spotted these sandals and was OBSESSED. I couldn't get over how cute those little feet looked!! He also noticed that clothes were new to him- he didn't recognize them and wanted to try them on. Exhibit A: this romper. I was pretty impressed that he even noticed!

Then it's bath time. Every single night. I cannot remember the last time he didn't take a bath, it's such an integral part of our routine.

Telling stories :)
 He looks so little in that big tub, but I know he's changing so much every day!

Isabelle asks to read a story to him often. It doesn't always happen, but many times it does. Look at them, all snuggly and draped over each other. All the heart eyes! (This was from that one really nice afternoon we had, ha ha! Levi wears fleece jammies every night, though Isabelle has been obsessed with this set I got her for the trip, haha.)

Levi does a great job at night now. He likes to say goodnight to the kitties when they're around, on our way to his room, and he insists on giving Isabelle a kiss on one cheek, then saying "uh side" and kissing her other cheek. I do not know where he gets this stuff from!! Then he waves like crazy, saying "bye bye bye bye bye" fifty times. I lay him down and he acts all crazy like he's too wired to calm down, but as soon as I blow him a kiss and say "Goodnight, llama llama," he gets quiet. So funny.

There was a 5th and 6th grade school dance for this one on Friday night, and she really wanted to go with some of her best friends, and it was only an hour and a half, so we let her go. Isn't her hair gorgeous?! I admit, I was a little worried about it when she was younger- so lightweight and uncontrollable, but now it's just beautiful. She asked me to curl it.
See? She was happy.
I thought she was going to wear a different dress, but she wanted to wear her Easter one, the one I made for her. So sweet. I have some cute pictures of her and her friends, but you know me, I don't share those ones.

After Isabelle was picked up, I had to drop off the last packages for Rose and Ruffle before putting the shop in vacation mode afterwards, and I brought Jonah and Caleb with me. We checked out some stuff at TJMaxx and then I realized the van needed gas, so I took advantage of having someone else to pump for me. I told them I'd get them a cold drink or something for tagging along- apparently boys can't handle shopping in more than five minute sprints, and then they act ALL kinds of bored while waiting to be done in the store. Why did I even reward them, ha ha

Saturday mornings are nice. Jonah and Ethan leave for work pretty early, but it's a slow start to the weekend.

Of course there's lots of fun with all these siblings around!

An ice storm and feeling yucky kept us at home on Sunday. Daddy made homemade play dough and Levi was happy for a full hour!

These are older pics, but this it what you'll find Isabelle doing at any given time of day: reading

 Or drawing :)

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