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Friday, May 22, 2015

Beach Vacation 2015 (Part 2)

More vacation pictures. We took alot...with our phones only.
Holden's happy place
Abe loved the sand
Pax would have stayed in the sand all day and completely skipped the water.
Pax dug himself a hole.
Last year, every night of vacation Jeremy and I sat peacefully on our oceanview balcony sipping wine and watching everyone go crab hunting in the dark with their flashlights. All the while our boys were crashed out from pure exhaustion of their day in the sun. We kept saying, "one day when we come back here, we'll need to do this with our boys." Well, this year we did it. They could have easily crashed at 7:30pm. But two different nights they went crab hunting. The first time it was just Jeremy and the big boys. I stayed back with Abe.
And the very last night of our stay, we all 5 went. And Abe LOVED it!
Some other people stopped to show the boys the big crab they had caught. We didn't catch any this size. We just snagged the little one. And by "we", I mean the boys. I watched. :)
One last dinner out on our last night in Orange Beach. The boys each got an alligator on their plate and thought it was the coolest thing. It's the little things sometimes.
The next morning we loaded up on sugar before hitting the road for home. We made one last stop in Alabama, which I'll post on it's own. Again, way too many pictures.
It was such a fun week. I wasn't really ready for it to end. I'm never ready for vacations like these to end. I was ready to NOT be walking on tile with gritty sand under my feet (despite my daily sweeping!). But I still wasn't ready to end the whole trip and get back into our normal routine. Vacation is SO much more fun than normal routine!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beach Vacation 2015 (Part 1)

I could make this a yearly tradition. My boys sure wouldn't mind. I get torn between starting a vacation tradition, like heading to the Emerald Coast each summer. Something expected each year, where memories of a specific place with our family are burned forever into our hearts and minds. And then the other option, of seeing new places in the United States (since traveling internationally or really flying in general is very expensive for a family of 5) and doing a different vacation, seeing a new state or area each year. But at this stage, this beach vacation has just felt ideal. It's easy and relaxing and fun. And this area of Alabama is one that we have fallen in love with. I was thankful Jeremy was up for repeating the trip after last year's wonderful experience.
Last year we went to Gulf Shores and this year we were minutes down the road at Orange Beach. It's such a cute area. Typical laid-back, coastal town. Beautiful soft, white sand and emerald waters. Amazing restaurants with fresh seafood. Friendly people, both the locals and all the tourists, typically the southerners with the sweet accents that make it their vacation stop year after year. It's not crowded at all, especially when we've gone in early to mid-May. Obviously in two years it has become one of our favorite places.
We left the evening before Holden's birthday. The minivan was loaded down. Jeremy drove until after midnight and then we stopped somewhere in Louisiana at a hotel to sleep. That was a rough night of sleep due to Mister Abe. He's not one to just roll with the punches. :) We got back up on Friday morning (Holden's birthday!!) to finish our drive. We unloaded into our condo around 4pm. As soon as we were a tiny bit settled, we let Holden open the last of his birthday presents. Then we quickly headed out onto the beach to enjoy a couple of hours of the sunshine and stretch those legs that had been sitting for several hours.
After a little fun, Jeremy ran to grab a pizza. That had been Holden's request for his birthday dinner. Pizza on the beach. So it was a little messy and sandy. And we attracted every seagull in town, but we ate pizza right there in the sand. It was great!
And for the following 5 days, we enjoyed beautiful clear blue skies out on the beach. With some time at the pool mixed in.
Apparently it was raining like crazy back home. And at our location there was rarely a cloud in the sky.
Both of the big boy just loved playing in the sand. We had brought a lot of sand toys and they would sit and play and dig in the sand for hours. The ocean was a little chilly. You definitely had to ease your way in. 
 But this baby boy wanted to be in the chilly waters most of the time. It was pretty windy on a few days, which made for some big waves. He loved the crashing waves. And typically he was dragging Jeremy or I out there to hold him in the waves. I very gracefully (haha) got knocked down once by the waves while holding Abe. Which he found hilarious.
 We brought boogie boards for Holden and Pax. But surprisingly they were a little timid to try them out. So daddy had to show them how it was done. Pax never had a whole lot of interest. Holden found it fun once Jeremy got him started.
 Our only family picture from the trip. I'm really bad about asking others to take a picture for us.
 playing games with daddy
And then one day we met this nice family. There son was a legit soccer coach that played with our boys for a couple of hours.
 Out to dinner one night at a favorite restaurant, Cosmo's. Two of our boys were the entertainment, dancing to the live music. :)
This was the entrance to a fun souvenir shop that we visited.
This is Lulu's. Another fun restaurant that we went to last year. It is so family friendly with the sand to play in and water features. Abe left here drenched and road back to the condo in a diaper only.
We ate breakfast each morning at the condo. And all but one lunch at the condo also. Then about half of our dinners we ate out. When we ate dinner in, it was something like this. I sent this picture to a friend that hates hot dogs. Fancy stuff! :)
I still have more pictures to was a great getaway!

Friday, May 1, 2015

7 year old Holden

This day 7 years ago was a life changing day for us and we didn't even know it at the time. One week later Jeremy and I would finally hold the title of mommy and daddy as we held our baby boy for the first time. Something we had desired for a while...a baby to love. What a blessed day in the history of our family. If you question the power and presence of our great God, read Holden's story here. It still baffles me that God did that for me. Many years later, I'm still so honored and thankful for his story and how God worked on my heart during that time.
I can not believe that we have a seven year old in our house. A seven year old that just finished 1st grade.That's right. We are officially done for the year and moving on to summer! Hallelujah! If Holden had to choose his favorite season, it would most definitely be summer. He is a kid that can stand the heat. He would play outside all day, no matter the hot, humid Texas temps. He also prefers to be playing in the water outdoors. He's content with a sprinkler, a baby pool, a play water table, a garden hose or of course something big like an swimming pool or water park. He just loves to play in the water. So we will be finding some way to do that this summer, I'm just not exactly sure on the details yet. He loves riding his bike and riding his new scooter. He loves running, playing tag and racing others. He's a very fast runner, which is to his advantage in most sports. He loves playing soccer and basketball. With his height, people assume he'll be a basketball player. So far, he has much better skill in soccer. But he's also had 4 seasons of exposure to soccer and only 1 season in basketball. So who knows. He loves swimming, jumping on the trampoline and going to parks. Clearly, he loves being active. He also loves cars, race cars and monster trucks. He loves to watch movies and play video games, which I work hard to limit. He loves reading books and even listening to books on CD when we change things up.
Holden learned alot this past semester in the class he took away from home. He especially grew in the subjects of math and history. He would come home telling me lots of cool facts about famous people like Abraham Lincoln and Anne Sullivan. I have always loved reading, but was more particular in what I enjoyed reading. So I didn't enjoy history and some other subjects when I was young. Right now, everything he reads he is soaking up. I hope that continues. I think that reading is the best building block to learning. So I personally think he has a great start.
We always tell people that Holden is the extrovert of the family. He loves being around friends and making new friends. This past year he has gotten to be great friends with our next door neighbor who is 1 year older. He is constantly asking me if Sophie is home from school. She doesn't get off of the school bus until 3:30 so it makes for a long day of asking. He is always so ready to play with her each day. When we go to a park or a play place, he immediately makes new friends and normally starts a game of chase or tag. He is not shy around other kids. And kids really seem to like being around him. He has a fun and playful personality. I hope and pray that he'll be a devoted and loving friend one day. 
Parenting this son of mine has never been the easiest task. God is constantly stretching me, teaching me and refining me. But loving this boy has always been easy. Always. From the moment she placed that tiny 8 day old baby in my arms, I was overcome with the amount of love I immediately had for my child. Looking at these picture above of my growing boy gets me a little teary. I see this huge, long legged handsome boy. I think he is just beautiful! And I still hear God telling me, be patient. I've got this. And honestly, we have very few guarantees in this earthly life. But trusting God should come easy for me. He's always been faithful. Not just in my life, but in Holden's too. So I choose to trust and continue to be patient as I wait to see God's plan unfold further. Happy 7th birthday, buddy! You are a dream come true!