Monday, November 29, 2010

take a bite of my heart tonight....

On our way up to our last stop we decided to FINALLY find a Sonic and get some lunch.  

The last stop on our trip was to our good friends, the Shortsleeve's.  One of Sarah's very best friends, Hannah, and her Mom and Dad.  We got to experience Moe's for dinner and Panera bread co. for breakfast and in between we had a great time visiting and hanging out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

it took a long, long, long time - Now I'm so happy I found you....

After leaving Florida we headed back up to BWI to try and catch a hop back to Germany.  We drove about 9 hours the first day making it up to North Carolina and to our friends house, the Long family.  We got to their house just as the last of their Thanksgiving company was headed out the door - we're so grateful that they were up for even more company after hosting so many people over the whole weekend.  We arrived just as they were about to take their family Christmas pictures, so I was able to grab this lovely photo of the whole family all prettied up!
 Analise loves to ride horses and boards a horse in a stable adjacent to their backyard, so she took Sarah out to meet her horse and let Sarah ride.
 Karsey was busy studying for college exams, but we got to meet her boyfriend David.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

got a good reason for taking the easy way out....

 Saturday.  Our last day in Florida.  We were packing boxes to mail back, washing and folding laundry, packing suitcases, renting cars, ect.... but who wants to do THAT on the last day of vacation?  So, even though it was chilly with possible rain in the forecast we headed back to the beach.  Only the boys were brave enough to put on their suits and jump in the waves, but the rest of us played in the sand, ate at the beach shack, watched the wildlife, and soaked up the intermittent rays.  It was a good day.  Our trip is ending too soon. Noah had his camera along and so a lot of the pictures in this post were taken BY Noah.

This wave crashing taken by Noah

Mom's sandcastle (drizzle method) and the boys sand castle - photos by Noah.
After a couple hours Micah was chilled through - the sun came out so we stayed soaking up the rays and soon afterward headed back home.

  Bye, Beach. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nobody said it was easy, It's such a shame for us to part

 On Friday afternoon we went over to hang out at the McQuades for the last time during this trip.  It was a bittersweet because we had the whole afternoon/evening to be there, but we knew it was goodbye and that kind of hung over us.  They were great hosts and we had a lovely visit.  We so enjoyed our time with them, especially the kids.
   (left) Rylan drove with Sarah and Curran to pick up frosty's at Wendy's for all the kids.
The Backyard - to the left is the pool and to the right is the garage.

The Chicken pen.  The McQuades have egg-laying chickens that they will use as part of a co-op and chickens for meat that they will raise and sell to help pay for the adoption of their newest addition from China, Liam Patrick.

The Tree house in the backyard, site of many good times.

Hope, the youngest McQuade joined the family 2 years ago.  Grace, now 5, was adopted while they were still living in Germany.

Eamon and Haydn.

Curran and Rylan

hanging out in the kitchen, snacking with Jenn's paretns.
Playing in the backyard... Noah and Haydn were making a movie with Legos... so you can see Noah's eyes are actually watching what Haydn's doing (out of the picture) 

 Sarah (left) fixing Curran's coat and (right) being silly and playing the drums while Curran plays guitar.
Watching a movie toward the end of the night you can see Sarah is getting worn out, but does not want to say goodbye so willing herself to not be tired.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I just got lost, every river that I tried to cross.....

Wednesday was a pretty low-key day as we all needed to recuperate from our HUGE day at Universal Studios the day before.  We got a few things ready for the Thanksgiving dinner my Mom and Dad were hosting the next day, caught up on laundry and even found time to post a couple of pictures on Facebook.  Later in the evening we headed down to Clearwater to pick up our T shirts and partake in the festivities for the St. Petersburg Times Turkey Trot we were participating in on Thanksgiving morning.  There was a tent at the far end of the stadium for people to meet each other if they got separated, I got a funny picture of my kids there..... read on to see the foreshadowing this picture was.....

(left - lining up at the start of the 5K fun run)  Thursday morning, THANKSGIVING.  We all had to be up at 4:30 AM to leave for the run.  We had to get there so early to make sure we could get a parking space. (it is about an hour drive from my parents house).  It was a good plan, but it meant having to be VERY sleepy AND waiting around for quite a while before the races started.  The races started on time: first was the  5K competitive run (which none of us were running in) and after those runners were off they began lining up the 5K fun-run - so Grandpa, Grandma, Sarah, Noah, and Micah headed off to the start while Rob and Krissie waited in the stadium stands for their line up time (about an hour later, they were running in the 10K competitive race).  
   The 5K fun run started off great, but towards the end of the race the boys started to get that competitive itch and wanted to go faster and faster - Grandma was doing her best to keep up with them, but they were getting further and further away.  She told them to wait for her at the finish line and those boys took off....... then Noah decides he wanted to run the last quarter mile or so, leaving Micah walking by himself.  Micah decided to stop and wait for Grandma, but they missed each other......
  So, 10 minutes before Rob and Krissie are supposed to go line up for their 10K race they see Grandma cross the finish line by herself and she calls, "Did you see the boys?' - so we begin to madly scan the stadium near the finish line and  Noah was at there, but there was no sign of Micah.  About 10 minutes later Sarah and Grandpa cross the line, yet we still couldn't see Micah.  Rob left to begin walking the race backwards, Krissie found a police officer and alerted him, Grandma went back to the point where she and the boys were separated, and Noah and Grandpa headed to the Lost People tent hoping Micah would head there.  
  There were over 16,000 people registered to run in the 4 different races that morning, and that doesn't count spectators, vendors, family, etc.... so it was mass chaos trying to even walk around let alone locate a small 8-year old boy.  As more time wore on the police enlisted more help since it seemed likely that he wasn't at the finish line.  The took a description from an increasingly panicked Krissie - Rob, Grandma, and Sarah were all out looking in different places, they were making announcements over the loudspeaker.... it was a VERY stressful time.  
  THEN - finally - about an hour after my mom crossed the finish line and we started looking a nice couple crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with Micah, whose Daddy just happened to be making yet another pass in that area and spotted him.  After regaining HIS composure he headed to the lost people tent where the police were making Krissie stay-put and soon everyone had hugged, cried, and kissed Micah.  
  Micah's story - After Noah had taken off, Micah had decided to stop and wait for Grandma - and after a time he started walking backwards to find Grandma  - after that didn't work out he began walking the race and found - what he thought - was the ending, where he began to wander around hollering for Noah.  This turned out not to be the ending, but the crowd waiting for the 10 K to start (which Rob and Krissie were not in because they were frantically searching for Micah).  When the horns blew to signal the start of that race the crowd began running and Micah realized he was in the wrong place and began, once again, to walk the right path.  Shortly after a couple asked him if he was lost.  Micah told them that he was lost and he needed to find his Grandma and brother.  They said that they would walk him to the end of the race and help him find his Mom and Dad, whom Micah thought might still be in the stadium bleachers (because that's where he last saw him).  
  a note from the author:  You all know the happy ending to this story, and I am sure after reading this you can see the potential for disaster.  God was sure with all of us that day.  Each of us had our own lessons that we learned.  Looking back now it's not that hard to write about (I am writing this blog post about 3 weeks later) because I know the ending... although, writing about it from this perspective really makes me grasp at how God's hand was in even the tiniest detail because of how it all worked out...and if even just one thing would have been different.... Well, I won't let myself go down THAT road because I do serve a sovereign and almighty King who was in every tiny detail that day working it out for His glory and to our tremendous relief.  That is why I wanted to type the whole story out - though everyone would like to just put that unpleasantness behind us (especially Noah whose punishment was great) - it is important to record stories like this - for all of us - but especially me to have a tangible example of God's grace and presence in every day life.  What a Thanksgiving lesson to learn.  Amen.
Once we were all in the car and headed towards home Krissie and Rob (who had missed their race) decided they needed some "time" - so Grandpa dropped them off at a nearby park where they ran for about an hour - still getting their 10 K in, but one their own instead.  Grandma and the kids went home to start preparing for the dinner.  After everyone was home, showered, and nerves were calmed we agreed to just focus on the blessing of everything turning out okay and just prepare a wonderful dinner for the guests we were expecting in a couple hours.  As the turkeys were cooking and the sides were being prepared company started arriving.  Grandma's sister and her husband (Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Ron) and Grandma and Grandpas neighbors, Joe and Judy Harris, all came over a bit early to hang out while dinner finished. Just as dinner was getting ready to be served Scott came over to join us (he is Grandpa's son from his first marriage).  We had a WONDERFUL dinner with truly tasty food.  The Sangria was awesome, Aunt Carolyn brought champagne; Joe (who is a baker by trade) made some fantastic desserts.  It was a really fantastic feast and we all went to bed very, very, very tired and extremely full!

 can you tell we're related?

The Feast - the kids at their table and the rest of us......

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

Island of Adventure in Universal Studios, Orlando Florida here we come!
 As the Florida trip started to take shape we began to plan some of our time in the states.  We had several things we "wanted" to do, but whether time or finances would allow them was going to take some fancy balancing acts.  Some of the things (eating at Sonic at least once, visit the beach) were a given - but a few of the other things (theme parks mainly) really had to be weighed out.  The kids really, really, really wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but as we began to price out tickets it seemed like it was going to be way outside our budget.  The kids were determined, though, and saved all their money for months to pay for the tickets and some shopping.  Their tenacity paid off and we had to find a way to make it happen.  We also borrowed Curran for the day because it's always better to visit theme parks with an even number. 
   The park was crowded.  SO CROWDED that when we first got there we weren't even allowed into that section of the park!  We had to get a ticket and come back in an hour.  THAT was frustrating.  
  Once we got into the park we spent the rest of the day in just that section.  There are really only 4 rides, 3 stores, and 2 restaurants but it took about 10 hours to fit all those in.  The lines for the rides were insane, there were also lines to get into the stores to shop, and lines to get into the restaurants to eat.  We were in good spirits, though, and just so happy to really be there that it didn't seem that the waits didn't  seem that tedious. 
   It's hard to describe how neat it was, how fun the rides were, and all the cool stuff in the shops - but we took 1,000 pictures so I will let them do the talking and caption some of them with things we think you HAVE to know!

The Boys try butter beer inside the Three Broomsticks restaurant

Standing outside the Three Broomsticks.


Inside the restaurant.

Honeydukes sweet shoppe.

The Hogwarts express and Hogsmede station
Hogwarts castle

Hogsmede in Twilight and the Hogwarts castle at night
The $6.25 pumpkin juice... I wish I was kidding.

On our way out of the park we passed through the Jurrasic Park section and were briefly chased by a rampant T-rex... The kids were exhausted by the end of the night... standing in line for hours takes a lot out of you!