We left Winter Haven, which is a little south of Orlando, Tuesday evening and headed west to spend the next two days with family and friends in the Tampa area! We made a quick stop at Chick-fil-a for dinner, because Mommy and Daddy needed some real sweet tea, and then quickly and safely made it to our friends’ new home! We were all so excited to see Brandi, Kevin, Lynsie and Kyle! The kids always pick up right where they left off and immediately get to playing! It was a fun but late night, and we finally got the kids to settle down and go to sleep around 11pm, and then all the parents crashed too!
The boys woke up pretty early the next morning and spent the morning playing superheroes, spies, building with legos, and playing outside! The girls were a little more laid back and played two fun games of “Life,” but they had a blast catching up and being together! We went to lunch at a fun restaurant on the water and then spent the afternoon at their club house area feeding the fish at the lake, swimming, and playing on the playground! Before heading back to their house, the girls took a fun trip to a local donut shop to try out some of the unique and creative donuts, and the boys spent more time playing outside and chasing each other around the house! Kyle started not feeling very well that evening, so we ate dinner at home and then all settled down to have a movie night. We ate lots of popcorn and watched “The Star!” The kids fell asleep very quickly Wednesday night, and the adults stayed up to watch a movie, talk more, and apparently plan a trip to Bora Bora! Ha! We are so very thankful for such a sweet time with some of our dear friends in their new home! It’s always so fun to be able to see where someone does life, especially when it’s in a new place! And we can’t wait to visit again!
Thursday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, packed up our stuff again, and let the kids play together a bit more before leaving and going to visit my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Karen! They lived about 30 minutes away from Brandi and Kevin, towards the gulf. We spent the rest of the morning catching up, looking at all of Aunt Karen’s shells, and enjoying a delicious lunch by the pool! After lunch we packed our beach bag and supplies and headed to the beach! We drove over to Honeymoon Island State Park, and it was beautiful! Oh, I was so very happy to put my toes back in the sand! And I grew up going to the Gulf of Mexico, so the soft white sand and clear, calm water was so very sweet to see! This was the kids’ first trip to the Gulf, and they enjoyed collecting shells and sponges, playing in the sand, and getting a sweet treat from the Beach Cafe’ with their cousin, Taylor! Before heading back home, we visited the nature center and completed a scavenger hunt and learned more about the area. The kids also got to pick a prize for finishing their scavenger hunt! We spent the rest of the evening swimming in the cold pool, warming up in the hot tub, snacking on some sweet treats, coloring, and eating a delicious dinner around the table together! It was such a fun and relaxing day, and we so enjoyed getting to spend time with our family! We all went to sleep on Thursday night very sleepy and very, very thankful!
Since finding out at Christmas that we were going to Legoland, and after surviving the cold Janaury here in South Carolina, we were so excited to wake up last Sunday to head even more south for the week and do a little road trippin’ around the central Florida!
Our first stop was a two night stay at the Legoland hotel and a two day visit to the Legoland park right next door!
As always, a big thank you to Jeffrey for doing all of the driving! And the kids did awesome on the way down! We left around 9am and didn’t stop until Jacksonville for lunch around 1pm. They played with their toys, watched Home Alone, read some of “Wonder,” and ate lots of snacks! We stopped once more for gas, and then headed straight onto Legoland! It rained pretty much the whole way down, but it was a fun drive nonetheless. Legoland also had a special app with games to play as we made our way down and shared lots of interesting facts about cities and places that we passed by on our way to Winter Haven! It definitely helped pass the time!
The kids were so very excited when we arrived at the hotel! They couldn’t wait to get inside and explore! We stayed in a pirate themed room–the kids had their own area with bunk beds and a trundle, and there was even a scavenger hunt for them to do in our room. They found the treasure in the safe–legos and snacks! After a bit more exploring and settling in, we played with lots of legos in the lobby area and then ordered dinner from the Skyline Lounge and watched some of the Superbowl! They had set up the conference room with team decorations, lots of legos to build with, games to play, and of course, the game! During half time, we got changed into our pajamas and headed back to the castle for the pajama dance party and story time! The kids had so much fun dancing all around, and Sarah Ann got to participate in the story time. Finally, it was time to get some sleep, finish watching the Superbowl, and then cry myself through This is Us while everyone else was sleeping!
Monday morning the kids woke up so excited and ready to go! We got dressed, met a couple Lego characters, went downstairs to the breakfast buffet at “Bricks” restaurant, and then walked right out of the lobby and into the Legoland park! The kids had an absolute blast the entire day! We got to ride all of the rides, play in the two playground areas, build with legos, watch a 4D Ninjago movie, and explore Miniland USA! The park was set up with several different areas, and of course, the kids all had different favorite ones! Sarah Ann loved Heartlake City, with lots of her favorite legos, and her favorite ride was Mia’s Riding Adventure! And let me just tell you that that girl was a rockstar! She is so kind and patient with her brothers, always willing to ride with Carson on some of the rides, and she was such a trooper when she needed to ride alone so that we could ride with the boys! She also proudly wore her new Kavu and carried her own stuff all day at the park! She is quickly growing up, but we absolutely could not be more proud of the beautiful, caring, helpful, and sweet young lady that he is becoming! Reece’s favorite ride was probably the Chima water ride or the Ninjago 3D ride! He loved getting to use his ninja skills to defeat the bad guys! But really he just loved it all because he loves Legos! He just had so much fun riding everything, and especially walking all through Miniland USA and seeing all of the cities, places, and Star Wars scenes that they built with millions of Legos! He could have stayed in Miniland forever! He was also a big helper with Carson, riding several smaller with him. I sure do love how they love each other! And Carson was such a trooper too! He was so very brave riding lots of new rides and trying new things. He also did a great job walking most of the day and was just so happy and go with the flow. He really like Duplo Valley, Merlin’s Magic ride in Lego Kingdom, and he absolutely loved the Beetle Bounce ride in the Land of Adventure, where you go up and down and up and down! The kids also got to go to Driving school, Boating school, Pilot School, and the Rescue Academy in the Lego City area. They were so proud of the driver’s licenses that they received for obeying all the rules of the road! That afternoon we also got to see the Pirate’s Cove Water Ski Show with Captain Blackbeard, and they had so much fun splashing the pirates and getting wet too! Because of the winter hours, the park is only open from 10-5, but we definitely made the most of those 7 hours and even got to ride a couple rides more than once! We stayed until the park closed, but the kids were already ready and planning for one more day!
We walked back to the hotel and got changed to go swimming in the heated pool! We had absolutely wonderful weather the whole week, and the kids were so happy to wear shorts again, but it still cooled down in the evenings, so it was nice that the pool was heated! . The kids enjoyed swimming with Jeffrey, and the pool even had big bricks to build with while in the water! Reece made himself a nice little chair to sit in! After about an hour and a half of swimming, we went inside to warm up and get changed for dinner. We went back to the “Bricks” buffet for dinner since it was in the hotel, and the kids enjoyed getting to get so many different food and lots of ice cream for dessert too! We spent the rest of the evening building with legos in the lobby, going to the evening dance party at the castle, and then crashing into our pirate beds for one more night!
We were a little bit slower moving on Tuesday morning, but there was one more day of Legoland fun to be had! We got ready, went downstairs to eat breakfast, packed up and loaded the car, and then said goodbye to our pirate room and the Legoland resort! Because we got to do most everything on our first day, we were able to spend the 2nd day doing some of our most favorite rides, which was a lot of them, again! We also spent a good bit of time in the Imagination area, which we didn’t do on Monday. They had a room with Lego video games and a big room to race Lego cars and gliders that you created. And the boys certainly enjoyed that! Carson has a pizza truck Lego set that he really likes, so we just had to have the pizza from the same restaurant for lunch on Tuesday. It even had the same motorcycle and pizza delivery guy! We went to the 4D Lego movie adventure, and they just had to ride Chima and get wet one more time! We also did some minifigure trading all throughout the day! The kids bought a minifigure when we got to the park on Tuesday morning, and all day long they would ask the Legoland employees to trade minifigures with them! Reece only traded a couple of times because he got a knight that he really liked and wanted to keep, but Sarah Ann and Carson traded theirs out all day long! The kids were determined to stay until Legoland closed again, and we definitely did! They rode and rode some more, and explored and played some more too! Before we left Daddy treated them all to a new big Lego set! There were so many choices, but they all are very happy with they picked, and it didn’t take them long to get them put together once we got home!
As the sun was setting we said goodbye to Winter Haven and made our way towards Tampa for a couple of days with family and friends, which I’ll post about soon! But here’s the best part–all the pictures of all the fun!
After a wonderful three week Christmas break, we started school back on January 8. And we had four weeks of school to accomplish before we took a whole week off for vacation! So, we made the most of those four weeks, learned a lot, and had lots of fun too!
We settled back into our routine easily and got right to work! After reading “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in December, Reece requested that we read “The Best School Year Ever” in January. It was great! We also listened to another audiobook about Humphrey the Hamster and his wild adventures, and we also had a birthday themed poetry tea time! Our crew just can’t get enough of going to the library! I am so thankful that they all love to read so much. We switched up our library day to Thursday now that J only goes to speech for one hour. It’s worked out really well, so I guess that sometimes change is good! We also continued on with our spelling, writing, and first language lessons. Sarah Ann is continuing through his cursive book and doing so well, and Reece started a new Draw, Write, Now handwriting book about American exploration. In spelling, Sarah Ann had a week about Harriet Tubman and became really interested in her life and story, so we did some research and read several other books about her. Reece also had a week of lessons in Writing with Ease about Paul Revere, so we found some more biographies at the library too!
January was a pretty cold month, but we enjoyed getting outside and spending time with friends when we could! We had some fun play dates at the park, of course, and ventured out a park we don’t visit very often for one of our field trip Fridays! The kids love the merry go round! We also got to have a lunch date at Moe’s and play with Ella Ray and Addison one day when they got out of school early, and we spent a cool, but sunny Friday at he zoo! We were so excited to visit again! The last Friday before vacation, we had the whole movie theater to ourselves when we went to see Coco!
We cleaned out and organized our rooms in January, so for our monthly act of kindness, we donated our toys that we don’t play with anymore and prayed for the kids who would get to enjoy them next. Awana also started back, and the kids have been working very diligently on their verses. The big kids were also so happy to get back to co-op and begin their new classes! This semester they have three classes together–Think! Games and Challenges, Science, and Art. Then Sarah Ann is also taking Legos, and Reece is taking an animal class! In science at co-op, we spent the month learning about motion and Newton’s Three laws of Motion. In our South Carolina studies this month, we learned all about the six regions of South Carolina. We studied Spanish in the fall, and since they are taking art at co-op and Lexington Paint and Pour, we decided to dive into some classical musical studies this semester! We are using Maestro Classics, and we started off with “Peter and the Wolf.” We learned about the composer, listened to the composition, studied the instruments, and watched a movie with the music as well. We all really enjoyed it and are looking forward to next month too!
We certainly had a great time celebrating Carson’s birthday with lots of friends and family! He is one loved, not so little, boy anymore, and he had the best time celebrating this year!
All week long leading up to his birthday party, we prayed for no rain and no emergencies, because we had a very special visit planned to the fire station with his sweet friends to take a tour and climb on their big, new firetruck! All of the kids had a blast, and the firemen did such a great job explaining their job, showing them around, and answering lots of questions! Carson was so very happy to get to go to the fire station, and he can’t wait to be a fireman when he grows up! After our visit to the fire station, everyone came back to our house for an evening of food, fellowship, cake, presents, and lots of playing outside (which is why we were praying for no rain). With all of the cold weather we had in January, we absolutely could not have had better weather for Carson’s party. Praise the Lord! We are so thankful for all of our friends and family that came to celebrate our sweet boy!
Carson was so excited that Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Melanie, and Annalee came to SC for the weekend to celebrate! We got to have lunch with them (and Nanny and Pops) on Sunday afternoon before they went back to Atlanta. Carson chose San Jose, mostly because I think he wanted to wear the big sombrero! He loved being the center of attention while everyone sang to him! And he loved getting to spend some time with his favorite cousin too!
Tuesday was a big day for Carson because not only was he celebrating his birthday with his classmates at school, it was also Circus Day! He dressed up as a lion tamer, and they played all sorts of circus games, like walking the tight robe and having their stuffed animals jump through the ring of fire! They also got to go on a circus parade around the preschool halls. His sweet classmates made him a birthday book, and we got to bring in a special birthday snack! Carson had so much fun celebrating his birthday with his teachers and friends at school!
Carson chose Outback for his birthday dinner (just like his Daddy would), so after karate and dance, we got to celebrate our birthday once more with a delicious dinner and an ice cream treat at Outback! And sweet Carson patiently (or not so patiently) waited all day to open his presents for Momma and Daddy, once we were finally all home together after dinner. He was so excited to get his new Stormtrooper bike and helmet and the Paw Patrol lookout! And because you only turn five once, you immediately get to help your Daddy put your new bike together and take a quick ride around the cul-de-sac, even if it is it way past your bedtime! Oh, sweet Carson, you sure are loved, and we sure did love getting to celebrate our favorite five year old!
january flew by, and it was a fun month from beginning to end… new year’s at the peach bowl, getting back into our regular routine, lots of cold days, a few warm days where we spent lots of time outside, a “snow” day, basketball games, and a very special 5th birthday for our car-man… and here’s a few more sweet moments from our january 2018…
Today you turned five years old! Oh, I just can’t believe it. You were suppose to stay a baby forever. But, just as a remind you often, you will always be Mommy’s baby no matter how old you get!
Sweet Carson, you are strong, silly, athletic, kind, and happy! You love to play all sorts of instruments and all sports! You are creative, determined, loyal, and hard-headed! You love being outside as much as possible, sleeping in socks, changing clothes multiple times a day, eating at Moe’s and Chick-fil-a, wearing your rain boots all the time, watching “Fireman Sam” and “Fixer Upper,” drinking sweet tea, and singing praise songs! You are stubborn and passionate; you know what you want and how to get it! You love to play with Daddy and cuddle with Mommy! You love going to preschool, especially when you get to go to the art center, and Cubbies is also a big favorite! You have worked so hard this year memorizing all your verses. You love to help me in the kitchen and help Daddy do work in the yard, but you don’t really like to clean your room. You like to sleep with lots of blankets, and you like to snuggle up in Mommy and Daddy’s bed when you wake up in the mornings. You go and go and go all day long, and then crash into bed at night!
Today, and everyday, I am so very thankful that God gave us you! You are a most precious gift, and we love you so very much! Happy, happy birthday sweet Car-Man!
Tonight we got to celebrate the end of a fun first season of Upward Basketball for these two crazy brothers! They both had an absolute blast, and they both learned so much about the game and how to play too! Reece was definitely our defense man! He always stayed on his guy and kept his hands up! He had a few games where he made several baskets and was such a great teammate! And Carson liked to take the ball all the way down the court and shoot! Once he got into his groove, he was a little scoring dude! He also learned a lot about passing and getting open and shooting near the goal. It was so neat to see how much both teams improved as the season went on! The boys definitely loved playing, and we are so proud of how hard they worked this season! Go Owls and Penguins!
Our caseworker came for her visit last week, and she reminded me that we’ve officially been a foster family for one full year now. And while it seemed like the process to get licensed took absolutely forever, this past year has completely flown by! I have never in my life gone to bed at night more tired or more grateful for this journey our family is on together! Our table is full, our house if full, our van is full, and above all else, our hearts are full!
I got to see Jordan in his classroom today and explore with him during centers, and all of his teachers talked so highly about his progress! He has come so far over the past year, and for that we are so very thankful! He met most of his original IEP goals, so we recently had a meeting to make more goals and he moved into a new class! He also graduated from occupational therapy and is doing very well in speech. Now if we could just get past this “finally experiencing the terrible twos” stage, I think we’ll be good to go…
“Foster care is a beautiful expression of the gospel… As we labor to love with the love we ourselves have received from Jesus, we do so in a cloud of uncertainties and unknowns, but with the confidence of one guarantee–its always worth it. Always.” –Jason Johnson
Here’s five random thoughts on this Friday night, and a cute picture of my babies….
1. I’ve been on the warpath since the new year began cleaning up and cleaning out. We have gone room by room, closet by closet, throughout the whole house! Four full trash bags later, and lots to donate too, Sarah Ann’s room is finally done! And now I’ve just got the boys’ room left to do! Oh, the Legos!
2. My babies love them some “Fixer Upper” just like their Momma. Tonight they got to watch a show before bed, and they all quickly agreed on a recent episode of “Fixer Upper.” Sarah Ann said, “It’s the only show we always agree on!” Very true, sweet girl, and I don’t mind one bit!
3. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily big on New Year’s resolutions, but it’s always a good time to reflect and evaluate, and maybe set some new goals for the year too. One small goal I set was to always put the laundry away each day before I go to bed. With six people, I usually do a load a day, but I had gotten a bit lazy about getting it put away the same day. So, here we are almost three weeks in, and I’ve stuck to it so far! It’s not always fun putting laundry away at 11pm, but it always feels nice once it’s done!
4. After a rough morning, we spent a much need, absolutely beautiful afternoon at the zoo! We’ve missed visiting the zoo, and it definitely put us all in much better spirits! Y’all, this parenting gig, this teaching and loving and disciplining and guiding, is not for the faint of heart, but it’s so, so, so good too!
5. And now I must sleep! It hasn’t been easy getting in 10 miles a week with all this cold weather, but I haven’t missed it yet, and tomorrow morning I’ve got my first race of the year! It’s always fun to run for a good cause, even if it’s going to be cold! Aaah! Goodnight!