just another day in paradise


This past week has left me wondering if being here is paradise - hanging with my guys, enjoying an extra week and a half off, all things Christmas, wiping hineys and tears, sleeping in, and birthday party planning -

or being here.

Our vacation was amazing.  First-time plane rides went great other than a few tears from pressure in their ears.  We spent an extra two hours in the airport than we expected to because of a mechanical error (they finally swapped us to a whole new plane and departure gate), but even that was bearable thanks to a little foam football throwing and angry birds on the iPad. 

We made it to Nassau safe and sound and cruised right through customs.  We caught our bus, had a ride to remember (Wow!  Besides driving in the opposite lane than we do here in the U.S., they honk at everyone for every.little.thing.  Definitely an experience.) and arrived at the place we wouldn't leave for the next five days.

The resort was stunning inside and out.  

I still don't think we saw it all.  And I know we didn't do it all...like the casino (we needed every penny we took, so there was none to gamble away) or the movie (even though they had great ones playing, we just never made it in from the pool on time), and I missed a slide or two...intentionally (Jim and I took turns riding the big ones that the boys weren't tall enough to do.).  But Jake, Parker, and I did play a few games in the arcade, and we all painted a Christmas ornament - a dolphin that says Atlantis.  As for the rest, we walked and walked, taking it all in.

We spent our days wiping the sand off our feet, watching the manta rays and feeding seagulls and pigeons from our balcony, looking for seashells, and riding waterslides over and over and over again.

Jim snorkeled and played the round of golf that was complimentary with our booking.  Jake and I did a dolphin encounter - we hugged and kissed Echo (one of the dolphins rescued after Hurricane Katrina), and Jake gave him two high-fives (The coolest part about it was the command he had to give him...a karate chop and a "Hiiiyah!"  He lept right out of the water with his flippers stretched out for Jake to slap.). 

And Parker took his nightly walks through The Dig so he could see the "ish! ish!"

We ate breakfast in our room - granola bars and Dunkin' Donuts.  We ate lunch by the pool (the warm pretzels were out of this world).  And we ate dinner every night at one of the restaurants along the water where the cruise ships and yachts dock.

We danced.  Music was everywhere.  They had a band that played every afternoon at two o'clock as they walked all the way around the water park area.  They had musicians that played at night around the waterfront restaurants, and when they weren't playing, there was always Christmas music coming through the speakers. 

We relaxed.  Naps were optional, but we took them on most days whether they were by the pool or in our room with the balcony door cracked so we could hear the seagulls.  We never had the time unless we asked for it, and we used my phone just one day to capture some video.  Even my camera stayed in our room off and on.  

Our time really lingered on, but we still hated to go.  In fact, Jake shed a tear or two while we waited to catch our bus back to the airport.  I think that says a little bit about how we all felt.  We left wishing we had at least one more day.  Perfection!

And definitely paradise!

Wishing you the Wonders of His Love


Wow!  It's hard to believe Christmas Day is almost gone.

Somehow this year it seems like it came and went even quicker than ever.  Maybe it's the week we spent vacationing - not seeing our own Christmas trees at home (even though they had several throughout the towers' lobbies and Christmas music playing) or thinking about what still needed to be done to get ready for today.

But even after spending almost a week away, we got right back into Christmas mode and packed everything we needed to into the last four days - our official Santa photo, last-minute shopping, and an overnight stay at my parent's so we could wake up there yesterday and let them experience a "Christmas morning" with the boys and Emily.  So, so fun!

There is one thing, though, I did do before we left and that's send out Christmas cards.  It's the first one Parker has been on.  I gave it one shot last year on a dry day, and it was just a complete no for him.  He cried and cried, Jake wasn't looking anywhere in my direction at all, and he may have cried too if I had asked him to sit out in the cold for one more minute.  I took exactly two frames and called it quits.  This year has a totally different story - instead of tears, there were smiles and laughs.  Here are the ones that made it to the card...

with thanks due to Daddy who blew up balloons, clapped, smiled, and Lord-knows-what-else behind me and my camera.

I hope your Christmas Day has been as great as ours has been - filled with gifts that money can't buy - because they are the best kind there is.

Home...for Christmas


We are home.  We are a little bit tan.

We are anxiously waiting for two little boys to wake up to the gifts that "Santa" has left for them under our Christmas tree.

We are wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

And for more than anything, we are thankful for the Baby that was born in a stable. He is the reason for this season. He is the reason for our everything.

To all of you...Good Night!

We made it!...


and with just minor "bumps" in the air.  With the exception of two hours longer in the airport than we expected to wait due to a mechanical error our airplane had, a whole new flight, and a few tears while we descended (must teach him how to swallow before tomorrow), we really had a good trip.  It's eighty-something degrees, relaxing, huuuuuuge, sunny, sandy, and so incredibly fun here.  Lots more later...internet access here is limited to fifteen minutes per day, so I just wanted to stop in and say Hi, we're here, and we're having the most amazing stay at Atlantis!             

Going somewhere?


Yes, we are. We'll be here for the next six days. We finished packing yesterday and stayed overnight close to the airport we'll be leaving out of. We got here in the late afternoon, and even though we haven't even made it to our destination, we've had a great time so far.

We found a Chuck E. Cheese just ten minutes away. We ate pizza, spent 265 winning tickets, and left with sore backs from playing waaaaay too many games of skee ball. After we left Chuck E. Cheese, we killed some more time in PetSmart and bought what we forgot in Target.

Last night Parker decided the crib the hotel loaned us wasn't happening, so for the first time since he was small enough to take a nap on my chest, I slept with the baby of our family. It actually went pretty well - maybe that's because I prayed before I went to sleep and took some time to thank the One who made him for the toes in my spine and the sippy cup I was sure would hit my face once or twice (After yesterday's news all I could be was thankful. What kind of world are we living in? My heart just breaks.).

We've now checked our baggage and made it through security, so we're just waiting for our flight to leave. Our cell phone plans do not include international calls nor does our data package, so I have no idea if and when I'll be able to update. They do have an Apple center, so I'm hopeful to at least say we made it. I just don't know if I'll be able to download or share pictures (what a bummer if I can't - fingers crossed).

Until then...

I hope y'all have a great week!

full swing


Christmas has definitely hit the fan here - earlier than usual for us.  While Jake and Parker were at their grands the weekend before Thanksgiving, Jim and I got crackin'.  We put up our trees (My thought process was that it would be much less tempting for Parker to grab and throw ornaments if he didn't watch the rest of us handling all of those shiny balls...because hey, that's what every ball - aka round object - is for.), we crossed the majority of gifts off of our "To Buy" list, and Oscar our elf arrived just in time to be waiting for Jake when we all got back home Thanksgiving Day.

When we took him to see Santa that Thursday before, he dropped a letter into his mailbox at the mall and asked him in person (backup, you know) if Oscar could come back again this year to bring us all a little Christmas magic.

As usual, he's up to no good.  A few of his shenanigans to date...

So far, he's emptied all of Jake's bookshelves and helped himself to a stack of books to read.

He popped a bag of popcorn and broke into our movie cabinet.  We found him sitting on the couch, remote in hand, with Toy Story in the DVD player.

He made a snow angel out of a bag of self-rising flour. Thank goodness I never bake or I might have needed it.

He's gotten stuck upside down in a box of Frosted Flakes.

And most recently, he hosted a "Christmas with the Troops" special event where he pretended to be Santa Claus himself.

I wonder what he'll do next, and Jake does too.  It all makes this time of year my favorite - hands down.