Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day 2015

Every year the girls receive their big presents with some kind of puzzle to be solved. Last year their gifts were at the end of an entire skein of yarn wound through out the house and even outside. Each girl had their own color and sometimes they were even intertwined with their sister's color. This year Melvin the Moose stopped by and hid ornaments describing each girl. When they figured out and FOUND their ornament it would lead them to their gift. Fun family tradition!  

Christmas Eve means we drag mattresses from the other rooms and elves mysteriously decorate a bedroom (usually Blondie's) to the hilt. The girls sleep together (saying that sleep word very loosely) and are up at the crack of dawn ready to go! This....is what the crack of dawn looks like. 

So excited to welcome Baby Lylah this spring. She will be named after my grandmother Lylah and my mom, Jo. 

The Wubbanator enjoying being two....and monkey jammies. 

Both Cade and Nature Girl received camera drones. Future CIA agents:)

She already has a balance beam but wanted a floor beam as well. We haven't seen her face up since.

This was the first Christmas without my mom. So hard not to turn around expecting her to shuffle through the door. This was her family Bible she kept on her foyer table. This was a Christmas of remembering.

With lots of help, later in the day we had dinner at our house for 20+ of our family. I LOVE having a big family and everyone close. I pray each of you experienced the wonder and love of celebrating our savior's birth. Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas from the Fam-i-lee!

It's nothing short of a miracle that we actually have family Christmas pictures of us NOT completely in pajamas this year. Not sure how we pulled off this feat but here they are. Can I just say that ONCE this year we all had clean hair, clothes and matching shoes on. Score!
Christmas Eve services at our church. Left to right Nature Girl, The Mom :), Wubba, The Doc, Blondie and Mei Mei down in front. Jon and Julie play and sing in the worship band so we were on Wubba duty for the night. It's rare for us not to have a house full.

Wubba technically belongs to these two. Daughter Julie and husband Jon. They are expecting a baby girl (!!!!!) this spring.

Son Jason, daughter in law Mel and the amazing Cade, Mollie and Caroline.

Our Christmas Eve service was incredible as we celebrated the birth of our savior. Look close and you will see Julie on vocals, second from left with Jon camo'd in the tree on electric guitar in the middle.

We hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Six Kids and ONE Gingerbread House

Mollie, Caroline and Cade stayed with us for a couple of days this week. I love having no school....and time for them just to be. This year there's more of a distinct difference between the big kids and the littles. The bigs just want to play Jedi and Minecraft....constantly. The littles still love all things Christmassy like baking, decorating and being plain cute. I had bought ONE gingerbread house thinking the little girls would like to do this with me because when I had asked, no one else had wanted to participate.  Guess what happened? Yep, all of them decided that building a gingerbread house was the coolest thing ever. I was waiting for the giant debacle that can only happen when six kids argue over one toy.....but it never came. These six TOGETHER without a single negative peep built and decorated. Wish I could say it remained this neat....but who cares. They had so much fun!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas is Coming! And some changes!

I again feel the need to confess that I will never, ever, ever win any blogging awards. I apologize for the consistent inconsistency. In the last four months my mom passed away suddenly, another school year began (I work at the girls school as well), I had a cancer scare, and in October had a major car accident with Mei Mei in the car.  I am VERY grateful at how God has mercifully walked us through each of these scenarios.....yet we have been reeling.

This first semester of school has been a blur considering all of the above. The girls have done GREAT so far this school year, in large part due to our friend and tutor who comes to our house two days a week and helps keep school crazy sane. I couldn't have done it without her. We've had some huge adjustments with having two middle schoolers and Mei Mei requiring extra therapy this year for a learning issue we found at the end of last year. Did you know adopted children have a 50% higher likelihood of having some kind of learning difference? Yea, well, we are 3/3. We make it work and do what's necessary but it does take a ton of extra energy and effort both on the teachers part and the child's part. I am VERY grateful for patient teachers! Blondie played volleyball and basketball for our school this fall.  In January she begins club volleyball season for the first time. Nature Girl continues to volunteer at our local Science Center and LOVES being able to show her knowledge to the young kids that come through each week. Mei Mei is still training gymnastics and whenever she happens to have a day off guess where you can find her? Yep! Upside down. It's in her blood. Her birth family must have been a traveling acrobat group or something. Heh.

Christmas is in FOUR DAYS!! So hard to believe! We are knee deep in preparations and some much needed FUN! Cleaning up my mom's estate during all this has been something not so pleasant yet necessary. Much of my time this semester has gone to decisions, lawyers, more decisions and yes....grieving. This Christmas is definitely not going to be the same without her presence or her 1000 questions about what to get everyone for Christmas. Not gonna lie....this year is hard.

By far the biggest adjustment in the last two months is my recovery from the car accident. It is a SLOW process...and is cramping my style. Although Mei Mei and I walked away from the accident (the other driver was cited for negligence and taken to the hospital with injuries sustained from the accident).... we both had concussions and I have ongoing back/neck chronic pain issues. My car was totaled (a Suburban), with the bright spot being I am now driving a brand-spanking new one. Again....grateful. I am currently in rehab working to regain use caused muscle/tendon/ligament damage of my entire back. Because my job at the school required much physical strength, I will not be returning this year. This makes me really sad....but at the same time to be honest just getting through the days now requires a fortitude I have never had to rely upon. Everyday I am realizing how God protected both Mei Mei and I and how I can choose joy in spite of constant pain and what is not turning out to be a quick recovery. Joy is a choice. I will even go on to say that it can be used as a weapon to fight against despair when your body just wants to quit. This mom will not give up. This mom is grateful to be able to fight knowing the accident could've been so much worse.

Mei Mei is FINALLY doing better. This was hard y'all. It was hard watching her struggle with concussion issues, mental and physical fatigue and almost a depression. She is back now full force and for that we give thanks. The Doc has been my hero through all of this. He has stepped up to the plate when I just couldn't. In fact....just yesterday he pushed me through DisneyWorld in a wheelchair so we could continue our traditions knowing I would be unable to hold up an entire day walking.

Here are a few pics of our last few days. Fighting for joy....and WINNING the battle!
Cinderella's Castle during Christmas. Disney is truly a magical place and the nighttime shows are not to be missed during the season. The girls had fun seeing Anna and Elsa turn the castle into a frozen fairytale!

We were able to go to the beach an entire week during Thanksgiving. This was a turning point for me for my recovery. The beach has a way of doing that. 

We took Wubba to his first day at Disney yesterday! We stayed out way past his bedtime to see Playhouse Disney and all his favorites! Hollywood Studios was overrun with Star Wars fans. There are fans and then there are overzealous crazy people. Whichever you are.....BB8 reigns supreme at our house. Smile.

She can't sit still. Ever. Here we are waiting in line. This is Mei Mei 's first year competing as an optional gymnast with a trip to Las Vegas to compete in January. 

Tonight's fun isn't shopping or wrapping (or cleaning....haha.)We are celebrating Christmas and NO SCHOOL by having a sleepover for six. They get along so well. Right now they are into Jedi swords and Minecraft. And food. Lots and lots of food.

Friday, September 11, 2015

That Moment You Find Out.....

.....that you don't have cancer....yet you know someone else that very same day likely got news that was the opposite of yours. It's sobering, humbling and a constant reminder that this life is short.
     I had a mammogram. Have to admit, it had been a while which was entirely my bad. Still, when they call you back again and again for more X-rays, and a sonogram/ultrasound,  it puts you in a mode of 'let's see how high we can get your blood pressure today'. I was told I needed a biopsy because the mammogram revealed a suspicious area, so it was scheduled....11 days later. Waiting stinks. I could've had it a few days sooner but we opted to wait for the doctor we wanted, since it required exact precision to remove the section of tissue in question.  So, with biopsy done (YES, it hurt...mostly when the anesthesia wears off cause there's a hole now in your ****), there was more waiting.....something no one in their right mind wants, yet it comes with the territory.

     There is an upside to the wait God calls you to. You:  A. Get to do a lot of research and B. Get to pray....alot. With both of those done, I remained strangely calm. I felt like I was ready to face the giants should God call me to face cancer. I had made the decision and I truly believe that it is a constant decision to face the outcome without changing my lifestyle or my joy. When you know God and meet with him daily, I believe He enables you to you steadily, pray unceasingly, and have a peace with unwavering, grateful joy that remains unchanged despite circumstance.

      It's interesting. Our adult kids knew what was going on but the littles didn't. We didn't want to frighten them nor give them cause for worry when we had no diagnosis. After the fact we shared what had been going on and they had NO idea I had even been to the hospital....or had mini-surgery. The joy of the Lord REALLY is my strength!

     It's back to normal around here now.....except two hamsters died the same day I found out I am Cancer free. Like I said....back to normal. Heh.

     Know anyone with cancer? Pray for them, encourage them, take them chocolate and send them notes. Please, don't send them a hamster.

     I had a lot of time to think about what would I do.....if it were me in those shoes. I sat in the waiting room with many, many valiant soldiers who are fighting the fight. I learned more than ever,  it's a time for faith, friendship and family. This Mom is grateful this week.....this mom is whipped, nae'd nae'd, the Doc and I are tired... and for the record...... there will be no more hamsters here for a while. My heart can't handle it! Oh and for the LOVE.....go get yourself a mammo!!!!!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Nature Girl!!

     Happy Birthday to this miracle today! Pardon my sappy reflections for a moment. You see, she by all statistics should not be where she is today. If statistics were our benchmark, she should be checked off the list as 'non-viable.' It's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life that you forget to see the big picture of what God has and is doing. Markedly transforming a life. Making the broken whole. God delights in the business of restoration day in and day out. We humans continuously rely and work on a 24 hour system....but not our God. While we count in seconds, minutes, hours, days, even years HE knits together time and substance in such a way that one day we suddenly go, "Wow! Look what God did."
     Today, we are celebrating. Just a few years ago this one was so sick she couldn't hold her head up to think....much less do school. Jehovah Rapha, God our healer has made her strong enough. Just a few years ago she struggled to read. Today, that same God has enabled her and she is reading at grade level. Just a few years ago her muscle condition said she couldn't be strong enough to write and be in a classroom. Today, she's there writing along side her peers. Just a few years ago her sleep disorder kept her (and us) so disoriented that learning was almost non-existent. Today, it's under control and no longer a constant disruption to our days and schedules. Just a few year ago the normal seemed impossible. Today, God has made the impossible POSSIBLE.
     Don't get me wrong. It is HARD. Doing the impossible means putting your head down and plowing through hours and hours beyond most norms, to achieve what easily comes to you and me.    I am reminded every time I look at this girl the words of Winston Churchill, "Never, ever, ever give up." So true when you are dealing with people. Through prayer, discerning, and plain old work the impossible is being made possible. This girl toils harder than most at the normal in life.....yet as God touched her, we noticed something.
      It's really interesting because once the healing began.....once this girl began to learn.....once the layers were peeled back.....we discovered a gift. A brilliant scientific mind full of ideas, facts, and ability. Future biological scientist here people. Mark my words. She sees things no one else sees.....almost eerily so. I'll even bet she discovers a yet unknown species one day. It would not surprise me one bit.
     Happy Birthday Nature Girl! As we continue the day in and day out....loving you with all our being....we can't wait to see what God does next!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

And It Begins.....

School. Is. Here. I'm not sure if we ever feel ready Moms, right? I mean the epic mountains we climb as parents just to get these little people ready for the year is overwhelming. Sports forms, schedules, driving (oh the ever loving traffic!), teacher forms, physicals, shopping, shopping, shopping, shoes, uniforms, textbooks (making sure you got the right ones ...cause if you don't....oy!).....it's insane. Send in the caffeine.

I'm one of these people that after having multiple children for multiple years I like to be prepared. I order their books for the next school year the minute school is out in May. Prepared. No surprises that way and I can relax and enjoy the summer.  I try to get all the school supplies we will need for the year when they are the cheapest in July/August. I tote home bags and bags of what we will need at home for a fraction of the cost of what it would be if spread out throughout the year. Like any good mom I hide a lot of it from my 'crafters' who could and would blow through it in a matter of days.....and threaten their very existence if they touch what they can see. Great parenting. Our storehouses are brimming with markers, post-it's, tabs, folders, sharpies and the like.

We are ready. Even with a funeral and consequent ongoing closing of my mom's estate, we are ready. That is most of us. Here's to another year of successful brain input, encouragement and knowledge. Teachers you are amazing, remarkable and lifesavers of the best kind. We got this.....together.
5th, 6th and 7th grades. Sweet girls. They are doing so well. See the hugs? Genuine.

Now you see what they're really made of. I asked them to show me with their body language and facial expressions their opinion of the first day of school. Mei Mei is like, "I got this....no worries." Blondie is excited, scared and ready to see her friends. She would go to school all year long. Then there's Nature Girl.....who would be content stay home and study science books all year. Forget that other stuff like math, reading and literature. Real life.

Itty Bitty 5th grader. This year we're also training gymnastics several hours a day. Fitting all of it in is going to take some flexing. You can pray for us. Oh and please excuse the weeds and bad grass. We're working on it. Or not. 

6th grade. Ready to see her friends, volleyball player, excellent student. ADORES school. LOVES schoolwork (except math). Artist in the making.

7th grade. All legs (try finding pants for this one!). Brilliant when she wants to be (said every mom ever!) Will work REALLY hard in science and history and tolerate everything else. Just being honest. She makes us laugh so much. Love this kid! Oh, and those feet? Size 10.

Happy Back to School 2015!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hard Summer

Today is Saturday. We go back to school this coming Monday.  Boy summer, you went by way too fast and frankly if we split it up....June you were great,  July you were not.

As hard as this was....this is a treasured, treasured moment.
We were supposed to go to Canada, meeting up with friends and having a reunion with the families that adopted girls from China the same time we did. We all traveled together those 9 years ago and we get together every few years to keep the relationships going. The night before our trip my mom, whom we affectionally call Mom Jo, texted me to ask if she could come over and say good-bye and bring the girls treats for the plane. She literally lived around the corner so her popping over was completely normal. Because it was late and one girl was already in bed I asked her to wait until morning....and come before we left for the airport. She agreed and that was that. She would be at our house at 9am.

About an hour later, as she was sitting at her kitchen table her aorta suddenly tore. Yes, an aorta can do that. (Remember John Ritter's sudden death? Same thing.) Mom Jo was able to call 911 and was taken by ambulance to our main hospital with them still not knowing what the real issue was. Until the next morning during emergency surgery did they find the torn aorta. Up until that point it was assumed she had an aneurysm that had possibly burst. An aortic rupture can be much worse.

God rewrote the story
Needless to say we did not get on that airplane (thank God we weren't en route when this happened!), and were immediately thrown into discussions about emergent surgery, hospice, aftercare, rehab and the like. My dad had died 20 years ago so Mom was dependent on us for help.She was awake in the morning and coherent. She asked for the surgery knowing it was going to be a really rough recovery and rehab, but she was all for it. We said our goodbyes and all prayed together before she went in.

Six hours later she was out of surgery and the proud owner of a new, mesh aorta. It was nighttime at this point and we were told she would wake up in 2-12 hours. We all went home to sleep and returned in the morning to find she hadn't woken up properly. In fact she never would. Six days later as we all gathered around, we sang every hymn she held dear. We prayed. We laughed and told stories.  My mom was completely surrounded by the people she loved the most and lived her days for. We held her hands as she passed from this earth into the glorious heaven that awaited her. She had fought her fight....run her race and her time here on earth was complete.

This was not how summer was supposed to be. We are grieving but ok. All the littles are doing well. Death is a part of life and as Christians we are surrounded by this truth on a daily basis. Because my mom knew Jesus we were and are comforted with the hope that surpasses all understanding and teaching this hope to all our littles has been an honor. We miss her terribly. The girls miss seeing her almost daily. She was such an integral part of all we do. The new normal is still being established but we are so very grateful for all our family and friends who walked this with us. Are we ready for the school year to start and the crazy to begin? No. Not at all. However I do know that there will be the same grace for this school year that our entire family felt throughout this ordeal. God is real friends.....and his presence has been keeping us. Thank you for your prayers!

I will treasure this picture. So many memories.

Good bye Mom Jo. We love you.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's A Wrap!

The First Day of School 2015

And......the last day of school 2015. Pretty much one mess of party all day long.
  This week brought the conclusion of what consumes us from August till the end of May each year. School with a capital S. This Mama has taught school in some capacity for some 24 years now.....yep.... only 8 more to go until Mei Mei graduates. No wonder by the end of May I'm feeling like, well, burnt toast. This year was no exception but I do believe this was the best year of school yet. This was my first year working full-time at the school. It brought some household changes....mostly a giant woot-woot for the Doc who chipped in on clean up duty. Our house during the school year is rarely ever clean. About halfway through the year I decided impossible is a better description but we did it..... albeit crazily most of the time. The girls are headed into 5th, 6th and 7th grades in August and we are planning on milking this summer for all it's worth. We have several trips planned (travel is one of my love languages for sure) and this Mama needs some major downtime to think and reflect.

Typically in the past because our school is SOOOOO academic and a couple of the girls have learning issues we haven't over scheduled our summers with activities in order to allow their brains to 'rest.' If you have kids with learning differences and or academic challenges I'm sure you can relate. This summer though the girls are all clamoring to be involved in all sorts of no-way-time-wise-possible classes, camps, sports and well.....stuff. We're going to have to pick and choose mightily. Nature Girl will continue her job at the local Science Center on a more upgraded schedule. Blondie will be taking culinary classes among others to keep her claim as the artistic, crafty queen of the family and Mei Mei will continue to be upside down as she trains for this year's gymnastics competition season. There will be the usual orthodontic, dentist and tutoring appointments mixed in with playdates and cousin time. Finding the balance of all this is a tightly choreographed dance that keeps me up at night.  As for me, I need summer to be a much needed break mentally and physically,  but at the same time they need to use the opportunity to do things they wouldn't ordinarily get to do during the school year......me included. I 'mostly' have the summer off from work but like anyone in academia land there is much, much planning done during the summer. The dance continues. Oh and yea, The Doc and I are training to run not one....but two half-marathons this year. Dancing on.

Nature Girl finished off this school year at 5'6". She's a long, tall, all legs and a tall drink of water right now AND she's not near done growing. Good thing we live in Florida cause buying clothes for this chick is a challenge. Blondie stands eye to eye with me at 5'3" which means 'hey Mom, your closet should be my closet and all your shoes should be my shoes' in her language. I never can find anything. Ever. Makes me want to stick myself with a fork sometimes......but in the nature of y'all would think that disgusting....I don't. I just think about it and go hunt down my stuff.

Mei Mei is a whopping 49 3/4 " at almost 10. She just grew out of toddler shoes (TODDLER shoes people),  but for this girlfriend buying clothes is not so much a fit problem but a "just because I'm small I don't want to dress like a baby" kind of problem. Yea, there are no Hollister shirts in her size. She has learned to deal and this Mom knows that when you take her shopping you better budget a lot of time. Very opinionated this one. Clothing problems of the smallish kind....maketh this Mommy cray.

I pray all of you have a blessed summer. I'm sure we'll have some nutty stories when this one's over....probably involving some type of animal I'm sure. There will be some perfunctory vacay pics real, real soon. You never know where we'll show up:)

oh....and volleyball camp. Forgot about volleyball camp.....sigh.

......and I really should update our cover and sidebar photos....everyone's older now.....(see how my brain works? Never, ever stops.....)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Don't Mess With This Mama. You Won't Win.

     I'm calmer now but still livid over a situation that happened earlier today.  If you want to offend and bear the wrath of an adoptive parent here's how.

     Nature Girl, Blondie, Mei Mei, Cade and Caroline all had a sleepover last night. We have been trying to get this on the calendar for a while and this weekend worked. (The Doc is away, traveling on business.) This morning as promised we all went to the new trampoline bounce place that just opened around the corner.  Another promise made good to these awesome kiddos who have been waiting a while for the perfect day to do this. They were so excited they were trembling in the car on the way over. I'm debating wether or not to use the facility name here ....right now I'm saying no, but may change my mind sooner or later. Anyway, here's what happened.....and how you just don't want to mess with this Mama Bear.

     We walk in.....to an almost empty facility but clearly staffed for the day. I walk up to the counter with all 5 kids. The young (key word....infantile) girl behind the counter smiled and greeted us. I told her we were here to bounce for our first time at this facility. (We had been to a competitor site several times before.) Instead of directing me to fill out wavers, or even giving me directions on how their facility works......she looks at me.... then at the kids and says in a loud, clear manner, "Are they all yours? Are they all adopted??? Because if they are I need proof that they are really yours. Did you bring their papers?" (Oh dumb, dumb girl. You are so totally stupid.)

     I was stunned......which quickly escalated to mad....madder....and maddest. In my best sweet teacher voice I asked the kids to go look around for a moment and then let idiot-girl-behind-the-counter-have it. "Why would you even ask me that and IN FRONT of them?" I asked, clearly taking her off guard and this Mama was clearly ready to do battle.

     "Because they all look different and we have to know for our waivers. Do you have their papers? Do you have proof that they are yours?" she replied like this was common, everyday conversation.....instead of some dumb blunder she was clearly committing.

     "They are not dogs," I said. I am their parent. Do you have a sign posted or does it say on your website to bring PROOF of PARENTHOOD?? These are my children and grandkids. They have names, faces and heartbeats.....and more importantly....THEY CAN HEAR YOU. They speak English."

     "No, Ma'm. But the parent/legal guardian has to sign the waiver." (She was so stupid.....she had no idea how offensive she was being.)

     "Uhm, I was prepared and going to do that anyway I said.  I have ID (handed her said item.) We are familiar with bounce venues and requirements but not with the socially unacceptable offensive way this was handled today in hearing range of my kids. Can I see a manager please?......RIGHT NOW!" She looked completely surprised that I would even ask that.

      I went on to ask the 20 something manager (whom I spoke to in private.....)....is it policy here to ask every single family who look different from each other if they are indeed a family? Or to single out the one(s) who looks different and in front of them make them so UNCOMFORTABLE  by asking FOR THEIR ADOPTION PAPERS (that are kept under lock and key) that they are squirming because they ALREADY feel like they don't fit in in some sort of fashion? Could you have made our visit any more distasteful? And I'm pretty sure that what you are asking for isn't even legal. Don't push me kid-manager. You will not win.

    She went on and on (blah, blah, blah....about how they have liabilities and people try and get around those....blah, blah, blah. I made it clear that they need to change their policy on how they handle adoption and questioning the parents for proof for their waivers. Oh. my. word. Girl you have a lot to learn.....and I let her know it.

     Then I went after the owner. Yes, I found her......was very 'nice' yet firm and let her know that what happened in her front area was atrocious and she needs to upgrade her training of employees.  She was nice, polite and ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS. She told me she loves all people of all races (insert hand flourish) and she has friends that have adopted.........(my jaw is hanging open at this point because you just can't train untrainable human beings.) This owner was more interested in the birthday parties she had going on than fixing the issue right in front of her. Oy vey.

     All that to say.....(and there was plenty more said) we got our day there for free. The kids jumped and had a great time. They were sheltered from most of the ruckus.....and seemed mostly nonchalant about the issue at hand. I on the other hand am writing corporate a nice wordy letter asking them if they have green cards and proof of their citizenship they can show me before I enter their establishment again. How would you have handled this? Cause.....I am not going to forget this one for a while.



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!! He is Risen!

 Wubba made our Easter morning photo this year (and pretty much every Sunday) because he spends Saturday nights with us. Both Jon and Julie play/sing on our church's worship team and because of the zerodarkthirtyishness of their call times it's easier if we have Wubba duty from here. Everyone looks great don't they? Yea, we want major kudos for getting 4 kids up, in Easter gear (after they had eaten  mountains of chocolate and other well.....crap), 4 heads washed, pictures taken and at church ON TIME. You parents will understand what that we all need to stand together and demand Olympic Gold Medals for this one. Oh....and please notice the barbie photobombing from the porch. Look closer and you will see the dog nose press from the window. Now onward to hunt us some eggs. This was the first year the Princess Collection didn't want to dress even similar. Their personalities really show in their choices of outfits this year which is fun to watch as they grow and develop their own (albeit sometimes terribly, terribly scary) styles. So many stories that I won't bore you with went into this pic. Let's just say.....they are dressed...... and adorable. So grateful for our Savior and the celebration of His death and resurrection! Happy Easter!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Break Shenanigans

     Oh my word do I ever love Spring Break!! It's not just about the break y'all.....but what it signifies. For us that homeschool, Spring Break is a sign from above.....a beautiful break in routine yes, but oh so much more. Let me explain in plain English. It means 'You survived the 3rd nine weeks of school,' (man, oh man the hardest by far!!)........and only ONE more 9 weeks ahead of us! We can do this! We got this girls! I can FEEL the momentum going forward!
     The Doc was able to take the entire week off with us this year. Can't remember the last time that happened. We wanted to take a family vacation that was as fun for the parents as it would be for the kids. We didn't want to travel far (to have more time to play) and didn't want it to be a lot of work for us....the parents because we REALLY needed a break too. Our schedules have been insanely crazy the past few months and we were looking to chill as much as we could. The theme for me this Spring Break was 'perspective.' I needed to get that back. I needed time to think, read, process and be. Renewal was calling. We needed to do nothing......(like our kids would let us really do that....silly us....but you get the point, right?)
     So where'd we go? We hopped in our SUV and invaded Disney World's Fort Wilderness Campground for the week. We usually make it here at least once per year. Not the camping type? Well, camping at Fort Wilderness is not exactly camping. Being Disney, everything is first class from the acres and acres of wooded campsites to the pristine bathrooms to the magnificent pool and grounds. You can rent 'cabins' (fully equipped motor homes made to look like log cabins), bring your own RV or tent camp. The programs for kids are incredible and you really never need to use your car the entire time as the bus system is fantastic, and/ or you can ride your bikes everywhere. What is amazing to us is that you feel like you are in the middle of the quiet woods yet you are just minutes away from the theme parks if you want to hop over and back during the day. We have been coming here for well over 20 years and it just doesn't get old. There is something for everyone for sure. For the last 5+ years we have alternated staying in the cabins with tent camping with the cousins. This year though we tried something different .....which turned out to be the best yet.
     This year we located a company that rents RV's and trailers at Fort Wilderness. When you arrive at your campsite you find it completely set up for you (read.....the Dad has to do NO set up....sweet!) and they even 'theme' it out for you according to your family's tastes. We rented a pop-up trailer for the week.....with hot/cold indoor plumbing, refrigerator, stove, queen, king beds and cable TV. The girls love "Frozen" so when we arrived the entire trailer was decorated with Anna and Elsa.....and gifts awaited each girl upon her bed. So cool. All we brought was clothing and our food. Some of the Doc's favorite memories from his childhood are of the camping trips he and his two brothers shared. Since we have 3 girls at home we want them to experience the same close-knit family connections, and we work really hard to make sure that happens.....all while managing and loving jobs, friends, church, etc.
     Even though we were very active all week this was one of the most restful vacations we've ever had. A very needed break without a lot of the work.....and a lot of bang for your buck. Check out Fort Wilderness if you are ever in the Disney area. You won't be disappointed. Commercial done. Enjoy the pics:)

This is before we settled in and dirtied it up a little:)

Huge pool, water slides, fun activites, craft classes, arcade.....all while the parents got some much needed R&R. 

We hit the MK with our friends visiting from Maryland.

Had so much fun catching up with friends we hadn't seen in a while. The kids just picked back up and had a blast!

Outdoor pancake breakfasts:)

Lots of early morning snuggles:)

The girls had a blast playing with kids from all over the country.....doing what kids do. This was street graffiti day:)

Every night at Fort Wilderness there is a bonfire and outdoor movie. Such awesome memories made while making s'mores and hanging out as a family. A little flashlight tag on the way back to camp is a must too!

Blondie is our reader. I think she read this one in less than 2 hours. Yep, the whole thing.

I love that they had time.....lots of time to just be. And not have to wear shoes. Or be anywhere except in the moment.

This girl looked like this the whole time. Net over shoulder.....being drawn into the nature world around her. She sees things the rest of us don't. Mark my words.....she's going to be a brilliant biologist one day.

She always finds something. This trip she found bats......and bunnies.

There's a story here. Always a story.

Love this pic of our Blondie. Great kids. 

Many of the Disney horses are kept here.....so of course....there is where Nature Girl could be found.

The Wubbanator conquers the Fort!

Everywhere we go (we are waiting for our name to be called for dinner) she finds a way to fit in gymnastics. Every.where.

She sat for hours and caught/released fish. Hours. See how gorgeous it is??

Preferred method of transportation when in camp.....by foot, bike or golf cart. We put some miles on this baby.

See the deer? 

The Doc and I made it a point to have some together time each day....mostly by running the trails through the campground. We love the quiet woods....running into a deer or two along the way. Our kind of awesome.

Until next time! Only one more 9 weeks until the next adventure!!