Saturday, March 26, 2016

Honeymoon Highlights, part 2

Love is unselfishly choosing for another's highest good. 
- CS Lewis

I think it's fair to say that if we had taken our honeymoon 7.5 years ago - back before the days of midnight feedings, stinky diapers, kitchen table school and "date nights" that consist of Chinese delivery after the kids are in bed - we wouldn't have so thoroughly enjoyed it.

We wouldn't have waited at the front of the line - literally at the gates as they were opening them - or have discovered that Disney employs a team of people whose entire job it is to carry an "entrance ribbon" through the park at open, walking the crowds back at a leisurely pace. We know this because... well, we were there.  We were the ones those ribbons were designed for, to keep us from all-out sprinting down Main Street and plowing people down in our excitement.

You see, we know now just how important our time together as husband and wife is.  

We understand the pressures that can creep in from all sides, even the ones that are a blessing, and draw our attention, focus, time and energy away from our relationship as the foundation of all that we do.  We understand that the best marriages are polished in the midst of an endless barrage of seemingly insignificant decisions, all of which must add up to grace, service, laughter, respect and intentional, imperfect and unrelenting love.  

From the beginning, God created us to belong together, to provide joy, stability, security, comfort, purpose and love.  Marriage brings that life together.  Marriage is a blessed design; God's idea of how to organize and enrich one another, to build a legacy that is greater than the sum of our individual parts.  

To be a good partner calls upon the all the best that we can possibly be - our wisdom, creativity, perseverance, character, intellect, friendship, selflessness, artistry and simple willingness to do better again, day after day.  

So we were grateful to celebrate. 

To giggle. 

To be together.

Not as newlyweds, but as a couple who, two houses and three kids and nearly 8 years later were happy to declare, "WE STILL DO!!!"

And we always will. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

On the Honeymoon that wasn't, 8 years later

Despite the fact that we were married not once, 


but twice,

one of the things we never quite managed to fit in was a honeymoon. 

In 2008, I was student teaching and was asked to take over as the primary classroom teacher after another teacher left.  Unfortunately, that position began on Monday following the Friday we'd planned to elope.  So we put it off, anticipating that a honeymoon would naturally follow our "real" wedding the next year. 

Of course, a year later I was already 16 weeks pregnant with Leah and our priorities had shifted rather enormously.  

And so our honeymoon got back-burnered, and has continued to sit, out of sight-out of mind, for the past 7.5 years.  

Until, that is...


Casey was already scheduled to be working in Orlando, and he had the brilliant idea that I should fly out and join him, and we could spend a few days together - without the kids - at Disney World.

What I didn't know was that he was already plotting to turn our special weekend into the honeymoon we had never taken.

We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside, and I arrived to find that our room had been prepared with the most wonderful surprises!

The room was alight with candles, and Casey had decorated and worked to make it a beautiful and memorable celebration, the kind we might have had if our wedding rings were freshly in place.

It was the most magical surprise - and that takes into account that we were already in the most magical place on earth!

I so love that husband of mine.  For oh so many reasons, but to walk into a room that had been specially prepared, with such love and time and effort, was just a phenomenal gift that brought me to tears.

It was almost too much to leave, but we got changed, hopped a river taxi and headed to Disney Springs.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal at Morimoto Asia where we sat and talked, ate delicious food, and marveled at what a gift it was to get to spend time together, one on one.

We got up early the next morning and went for a run, and the grounds of the Riverside are just spectacular in the early morning light. 

It was so quiet on the grounds, and so breathtakingly beautiful.  There was a large part of me that wanted to stay there all day.

But, we had a very busy schedule to get to, so we wasted no time.

Our first stop was Animal Kingdom, which is the park that I've had my eye on visiting since before we were married.  It didn't disappoint!

We had a wonderful time wandering through the park at our own pace - which usually included running from site to site - and riding all the rides we knew would have terrified our children.

We sat in the back for a thrilling, bumpy safari where we enjoyed up close and personal views of some amazing animals. 

It was every bit as awesome as I had imagined!

We were able to score some fast passes, which we used to zip through Animal Kingdom and were able to see the park before lunch time, so from there we went on to Hollywood Studios. 

We had a ball walking around, but weren't willing to commit to the hour-plus line-standing it would have taken to ride the rides.  Instead, we took in the sights in the name of our children:

Darth in honor of Logan

Elsa for Leah and Livvy (plus, a much-needed opportunity to sit out of the sun and enjoy a snack!)

and Storm Troopers for Logan.

After that, we took a quick detour back to our room for a nap and to change, and then it was on to Epcot!

Epcot is so cool.  Not exactly heavy on the rides, although we did enjoy a few,

but the park itself is impressive to take in.

The best part of the visit was sitting down to dinner at 9:30 at night in the Disneyfied version of Morroco (at the Spice Road Table - YUM!!!!).  We had a delicious meal, and so enjoyed the fireworks show.

We began walking back to the front of the park, and had it almost entirely to ourselves.  It was so much fun to stroll leisurely through the park, hand in hand with my husband, taking our time and enjoying each other's company - way past our children's bed time!  It was midnight when we got back to our hotel, and we were exhausted in the best way after our busy day.

The next day, we were on to the main event: the Magic Kingdom!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A birthday skating party

One of the best parts about having a big girl is watching her do big kid things.

I know, that sounds a little hokey, right?  But it's true.  She'll always be the first, so each and every phase will be a new and amazing step for both her and our family. 

She chose roller skating for her birthday this year.  And it was totally new, and totally amazing. 

And, because it was at the skating rink, it was also a little hot, sweaty, sticky and smelly... but mostly, it was amazing. 

We did something of an early 90's theme, with bright neon colors and accessories straight out of a Wham! video.  

The cake, per birthday girl request, was Oreo through and through.

Just like with ice skating last year, I was worried that the kids would have a miserable time.  This was Leah's first time roller skating, and I was very unsure about how things would go. 

Luckily, everybody had a wonderful time, whether they skated or not! 

Strike a pose was definitely on the agenda that day for our birthday girl.  She's got a little Madonna in "Vogue" on the brain!

I can't imagine why.

What can I say?  I'm a sucker for that happy face.   

She had a wonderful time at her party.  We love the opportunity to make these moments special.

Happy birthday to our wonderful, wild and lovely six year old.  We love you!

And, because it's always fun to remember what brought us here: 

I changed my font at