Monday, December 11, 2017

Summer Vacation 2017: Day Three

While I realize that these posts are so, so late.. I wanted to write about them so I can remember these trips. I want these little (and big) vacations documented with my little family so I can remember them forever.

If you missed my other Summer Vacation posts you can see day one here and day two here.

And because these are so hard to write so many months later, I'm going to try to start writing them as soon after vacation as possible.

Sunday morning we headed to Islands of Adventure in our superhero tshirts. While we absolutely loved Universal for their ET ride, IOA definitely won out as our favorite. 


We started off at Seussland which was super cute. This train we rode on gives you an awesome view of the park. 


We then headed to Jurassic Park, which ended up being one of our favorites. We rode it several times. Got soaked, several times.



Linc got this dinsoaur for his souvenir from Jurassic Park and sadly it broke last month. 


Skull Island was a ride Linc was really looking forward to, but the wait inside scared him pretty badly. It's super dark in line, people jump out trying to scare you, and there was this creepy animated person that we were super excited to get away from.


We took turns holding him and the ride ended up being good. He especially loved the guts of the spider going everywhere. Typical boy.


Lincoln LOVED the water rides. He is such a dare devil and I love it! This is him seeing the second water ride we went on.  


We ate lunch at Mythos, which I highly recommend if you ever find yourself at IOA. It is amazing.


 

They even had Universal Studios engraved into their butter, which is amazing if you're fascinated by little things like I am.



Our waiter gave us the best advice.. take the uneaten bread outside behind the restaurant and feed the fish. There are hundreds. It was a really cool moment.


We then headed to Hogsmeaded, which, like Harry Potter world at Universal was fantastic. They have done such a great job with this. 

We also drank more Butterbeer. Act surprised.
 

Lincoln looks ridiculously unhappy here, but he wasn't. 


We went on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (about five times) and loved it. We weren't sure Lincoln would make the height requirement but he just made it. 

The cool thing about this day: When we were standing in line the second or third time one of the employees asked us to go up front because Lincoln's height was questionable for the ride. While we were up there a man behind us shouted, "Come on! Let him on!" which just started a bunch of people into shouting for Lincoln to be able to ride. 

It was such a simple moment, but it reminded me that there is so much good in this world. People can surprise you and make you smile and just add so much to your day, in the simplest ways.

With some encouragement from the other riders, they let Lincoln on, and we actually got to skip to the front of the line because they had taken us out of line to measure him! How cool!

We also rode the Hippogriff ride which is a small roller coaster. When we went down the ride Lincoln started busting out laughing and then screaming "Yeah!!!!! Let's do it again!!! Yeah!!!!" And then he went back to laughing. It went on like that for the entire ride. Absolutely made my whole day.


We also rode the IOA equivalent to the teacups at Disney and Lincoln attempted to find out if he could make me puke.


This may be an unattractive pictures of me, but there's a story behind it.

At IOA, they have three water rides. We rode all three, several times. I didn't think about bringing flip flops to change into to let my socks and shoes dry. Well, by the end of the day our wet feet had been in our wet socks and shoes ALL day, and they hurt SO bad.

(When I googled it I was sure I'd have to get a toe amputated. Never google anything relating to your health.)

This was the last ride we rode and I was still soaking wet from the water rides. Linc begged me to go on it and because I'm a pushover I did. Well he controlled that stinking fish and made us go through the water over and over. He was SO happy we were getting wet again and I was just praying my feet would fall off.


When we were almost to the car Michael tried to find the keys to the car and they were missing. We were absolutely panicked. The park was closing. We couldn't imagine where they'd be. We had no other way to get home. Finally, after about 20 minutes of searching through his backpack we found them.. covered in Tums. Melted tums. Yes. The heartburn medicine.

Y'all. It was so bad. It was late at night. Our feet hurt SO bad. We had no paper towels to clean the key off to use it to start the car. We started using clean socks from our luggage. I wish I was kidding.

After using every clean sock we could find we finished and headed home. 

Despite the ending to the night, it was the sweetest time away before school started with our boy.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

25

Happy Friday, friends! 

This weekend is extra special because Sunday is my birthday!

Ever since I was little, I've always loved birthdays. Mine, my family's, a random strangers.. doesn't matter. Birthdays are awesome.

In high school I had a friend who was a culinary genius, and I would always convince once of my teachers to let us celebrate my birthday (never mind that we didn't celebrate anyone else's birthday) with homemade cookie cake. I'm not sure how I managed it, but every single year we did that.

Because I'm super emotional always, every year before my birthday I think back on the year. What big things happened while I was (insert age), what heartaches I experienced, what made the year good, what was different. 

This year has been mundane as far as events go. I finished school/got married/became a nurse when I was 23, so nothing like that happened. I didn't change jobs. I didn't have a baby, move, or do anything noteworthy.

24 was filled with a lot of heartache and emotion. We sat in a fertility office this year. I came to the conclusion that we'll (most likely) never have another child. We've walked through financial issues. My car died. I experienced my first loss of a patient - a patient that was very special to me. We thought we were going to lose Copper. Michael changed jobs unexpectedly and I had a lot of anger for a previous company and boss he worked for.

But this year has also held so many fantastic memories. 

We got to move into a house, instead of staying in an apartment. I got to watch my favorite boy play baseball and soccer. I watched as Lincoln has become proficient in reading, and my heart could burst with how proud of him I am. I got to watch my husband's character shine through as he faced an awful situation, and stood by as he watched him hold his head up and take on a new job that he never thought he'd have. God has provided for us in unimaginable ways. I got to go PRN, work less and be home with Lincoln more. I got to buy a new (to me) car for the first time in my life. We were able to take our first "real" family vacation and I fell in love with the mountains. I also fell in love with reading again. I played countless games of soccer, baseball, and football in the backyard. I've been greeted by my favorite dogs and my favorite humans every time I've come home.

So while 24 held some sad moments, it also held so much more joy than I deserve. And though the hard roads have been plenty, I've never walked them alone. Jesus hasn't given me all I asked for this year, nor has He taken away all my pain, but He has surely given me joy like I never could have imagined. 

In John 1:16, it says "For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace." Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." He has fulfilled those promises to me every single day.

So as 24 comes to a close, I'm excited for what 25 will bring.

Here's to spending all weekend with family, eating way too much cookie cake, and feeling celebrated all weekend long.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What I Read: November

Last month I asked for book recommendations that were different from my norm. You people did a terrible job helping because no one recommended anything. Come. On. People. 

But alas, I did it! I found some books different from my usual haul. This month I read NINE books. Most of them mystery/suspense, but some not. So here are my books this month!


Play Dirty - Sandra Brown

Griff Burkett is an ex-Cowboys football star just out of prison. The Speakman's are the ideal couple, other than the infertility they can't get past. They are highly well off, and hire Burkett. The job Burkett agrees to do for them is top secret, but soon he's a suspect in a murder.

It was a good book, with so many twists and turns. Sandra Brown's novels are always full of endings you don't see coming and this one was no different. Not my favorite of hers, but still great.



If I Stay - Gayle Forman

17 year old Mia and her family are in a tragic accident. Laying in the ICU she watches days pass as she has to make the decision between staying or leaving. The book goes from the present to past to give you a background on Mia and her family.

I can't say a lot because this is a series and I don't want to ruin it. But you want to read this and the next one! So good! 



Where She Went - Gayle Forman

The sequel. I can't give a synopsis because I'll give so much away, but really.. Pick up both of these books! Definitely worth it. 



Into the Water - Paula Hawkins

"A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return."

My take: Once you get the characters straight in your head this book is amazing. I read this one in the car on vacation so I think I was distracted and it took me a while to catch up on the characters. Such a good book - the kind where you can't guess the ending even if you try.  



The Ready-Made Thief - Augustus Rose

"Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the fa├žade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. And they believe Lee holds the key to it all.

Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families. But the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why."

My take: GO READ THIS BOOK. It is phenomenal. The details. The plot. So so good. 



If You Only Knew - Kristan Higgins

 Wedding dress designer Jenny Tate moves back to her hometown after a divorce to be closer to her sister and nieces. She starts to fall for her superintendent, Leo, but he's distant and she can't figure out why. Her sister, Rachel, is going through her own marital problems and Jenny desperately wants to share a family secret to help her.

It's a happy-go-lucky (mostly) story and much different from what I usually read but I actually liked it. I really liked the part of the story with Jenny and Leo. It was sweet, a little Hallmark, but sweet.



Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

Comedian Trevor Noah writes a beautiful memoir about his life. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I loved it even more than I thought I would. It was easily my favorite book I read this month. An eye opener to the things we never realize people deal with. Go grab it for sure. 



A Stranger in the House - Shari Lapena 

Karen Krupp was in a terrible car accident, but has no memory of the events. A man is dead at an abandoned restaurant that Karen was fleeing from. Karen's husband, Tom, doesn't know what to think. Evidence starts piling up to convict Karen. Does Tom know his wife at all? Is the creepy neighbor the killer? Is Karen? 

I initially was going to return this book because the writing was somewhat choppy, but I'm so glad I didn't. It seemed really predictable until it suddenly wasn't what I thought at all. Pick this one up if you like a good suspense novel.



The Bridge - Karen Kingsbury

Summary (taken from the publisher because my summary didn't seem to cut it): Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, but she left her heart back in Tennessee with a man she walked away from five years ago. Ryan Kelly lives in Nashville after a broken engagement and several years on the road touring with a country music duo. At least he can visit The Bridge—the oldest bookstore in historic downtown Franklin—and remember the hours he and Molly once spent there.

For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of middle Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books—even through dismal book sales and the rise of digital books. Then in May, the hundred-year flood swept through Franklin and destroyed nearly every book in the store.

Now the bank is pulling the lease on The Bridge. Despondent and without answers, Charlie considers the unthinkable. Then tragedy strikes, and suddenly, everything changes.
This is the classic Hallmark movie and you will love it! Easily one of my new favorites that I plan on rereading every Christmas. Go get it for yourself!

So there are my books this month! If you want to see past months you can see them here:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Summer Vacation 2017: Day Two

Happy Monday after Thanksgiving friends. I'm dragging over here and so glad I didn't have to go back to work today. I'm so excited to share our mountain vacation with y'all but first I have to finish our vacation from the end of Summer. I know.. I'm really late. Too bad.

If you missed Day One of vacation you can click here. When we started talking about taking Lincoln to a theme park this Summer, we were stumped on where to take him. We've been to Legoland and Disney World and Lincoln LOVED them, so we thought about taking him back to one of those. But then there are so many more we haven't been to, so we decided to let him choose which park he wanted to visit. 

In the end his excitement for Universal Studios was better than anything else, so we chose there. Lucky for us, we found a deal where we could do Universal and Islands of Adventure for only $20 more total. SCORE. 

We knew if we were going to take Linc to Universal we had to show him ET. I mean. You can't go to Universal and not know about ET. So we let him see the movie and he FELL. IN. LOVE.

We ended up deciding to wear ET shirts to Universal, so Sunday morning we woke up and got ready for the park. We had breakfast at the hotel and headed out. 

This boy was PUMPED.


We attempted to ride ET first, but it didn't open until 10 so we rode a couple different rides to pass the time. 


Then (bless it) came the ET ride and it was by far all of our favorites. I mean. They haven't changed it since we were kids and it's just such a classic. 

We rode it a coulpe times, Lincoln got an ET souvenir (of course he did) and we decided to come back later for more.

In the gift shop there are two options for pictures.. one in the closet from the movie, and one on the bicycle. We chose the closet so all three of us could be in the picture. 





Harry Potter world came next, and it was a big hit for all of us.


It was amazing how similar it looked to the movies, and the Harry Potter ride 'Escape from Gringotts' was incredible. 




We stopped at The Leaky Cauldron for lunch and had our first taste of butterbeer.


Later we had more butterbeer.


Then we headed out to find more fun rides. 





When we were all hot and ready for a break we headed to the Chocolate Emporium. If you ever find yourself at Universal City Walk I highly recommend it. I had a milkshake that I believe was about 8,000 calories and totally worth it.



Michael had some sort of delicious something that was probably around 2,200 calories. Lincoln had plain ice cream because he's low maintanance.


 Then it was back to more rides, more gift shops, and more fun. 



About an hour before the park closed we headed to ET to ride it a few more times. We were walking through the gift shop when an employee stopped us and said "I love your shirts! Come with me." Y'all. In what was the best part of the day, she walked us through a back entrance, straight to the front of the line, and let us sit in the very front of the ride (which we hadn't gotten to do all day). I wish I had caught her name and could tell some sort of upper management because that made our family's (and especially Lincoln's) day more than she will ever know.


The best part about it? WE GOT STUCK. And we got stuck in the fun part of the ride when ET's home! We took the opportunity to get a group picture and to enjoy staying on our favorite ride a little longer. It was absolutely a memory I'll never forget.



After an awesome day at Universal we headed back to the hotel, super excited to experience another park in the morning. And of course Linc man fell asleep with his ET and new Minion laser gun.