A New Direction

In several recent posts I have mentioned my life possibly heading in a new direction in the future. Well, the future is now. I am officially going back to work. Yes, that's right. After more than 3 years of being home full-time, I am going back into the workforce. But this is not going to be just your ordinary transition. Far from it! I am going to do something I have never done before and I am thrilled.

I was hired this week to be a preschool teacher for our church's school. I will work from 5 days a week from 8-12. The BEST part about the job is that both of my girls will be with me at all times. I mean, who could ask for anything better? Erik and I had already decided to enroll Lucy in the 5 day a week program and Ella will be starting Kindergarten there as well. So we will ride in together each morning and they can hang out in my "classroom" (he he! It feels funny saying that) until school starts and then most days Lucy will leave with me when school is out. We can go home, nap, or run errands and then pick up big sister. Its a perfect scenario--one fully orchestrated by God.

This decision has been bathed in prayer by not only me and Erik, but also by my parents and close friends. I appreciate everyone's support through this whole event. I would be lying if I said I was not apprehensive. I mean, i've never had to get myself and 2 girls completely ready to walk out of the door by 7:20ish every day--on a consistent basis. Most days last year, I did not even wake Ella up until 7! Then I usually took her to school while still in my pajamas. It's going to be a rude awakening to this momma. But Erik will be great to help out and Ella is fairly self-sufficient at this point. The list of apprehension could go on and on, but I am going to focus on the positive. God is in control and I will fully rely on Him to get me through!

So, here's to the future..here's to now!

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Lots of Pictures from Day 5

Day 5 of our beach trip started in the same fashion as the other 4. Wake up, play on beach, swim at pool, eat, play on beach..well, you get the idea. We decided to let this be another "no nap" day since we were leaving the next day. Lucy did well, except for a brief period of time on the boat. The boat in which we rode upon to view this magnificent site:

As you can tell from Ella's expressions, this trip was well worth it!

There are no pictures of Lucy's delight at seeing the dolphin jumping by our boat because she was too busy pouting and pitching a fit. She missed the whole thing! I hated it for her, but that's what happens when Mommy decides to let her miss a nap. I felt bad, but she didn't seem to care one way or the other about that dolphin.

The rest of the boat ride was fun, too. Here are some pictures I wanted to remember:

After the boat ride we ate dinner at the marina.

The girls are delirious by now

What a way to end the night:

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Happy Father's Day

I could never let the day pass too far behind without paying tribute to the men in my life. As I think about growing up with my Dad, I can't say that every memory is a great one. To be real honest, some of my memories are down right ugly. There were times when we would butt heads so badly I would just cry my eyes out. We are just SO much alike. We quite literally would have what they call "a battle of wills." I can't say that they were so much battles, because I never stood even a fighting chance. He was going to win. No question about it. And for good reason.

You see, my father was raised by Godly parents who taught him right from wrong. His parents, my grandparents, made it their life goal to raise their sons in the way of the Lord. My father grew up knowing how to work hard for what he had, how to respect his elders and how to keep his eyes focused on the ultimate prize. So, why would he falter from that teaching when it came down to his own children? He wouldn't.

There were times when I wanted to yell, kick and scream at my father. Really. There were. But I NEVER doubted that he loved me. Oh, the Sunday afternoons that we spent together riding 4-wheelers, shooting the pistol, playing ball in the yard, skiing on the river. The good times far outweighed the bad. Boy, that man loved (and still does) me. I knew that he actually wanted to spend time with me. It wasn't that he was trying to get in his "dad" time or do my mom a favor. He really, truly wanted to spend time with me.

Looking back on all those "bad" times, I realize that if I had just been acting right we would never have had to have those "battles." If I had only obeyed the rules or used my brain a little more logically. My father was just not willing to let me settle. He knew what potential I had. He was NOT going to sit by and let me screw up. Some lessons I had to learn the hard way. Some lessons he was happy to teach me before I got into trouble. Either way, there was never a time when he did not have my best interest at heart. He knew it was his responsibilty to train me in the way I should live. He wanted to ensure that when I was older I would never stray.

I can't say that I never strayed, but I sure knew my way back home. Both to my earthly Father and my heavenly Father. And isn't that what parents are put here for? To make sure that our kids are taught right from wrong and that they are led in the proper direction? My father never took this responsibility lightly. And although it took me many years and 2 children of my own to appreciate him, I am eternally grateful to my father for being the man he has always been. I love you Dad, so very much.

Another thing I thank my father for is teaching me what I was to expect from a man. He taught me how I was to be treated by a boyfriend and then eventually a husband. He showed me by example how a real husband treated his wife and how a man can cheerfully be the spiritual leader of his home. I thank him often as I look at my own husband. In many ways Erik and my Dad are very different people. But in many ways they are similar.

Erik is by far the most amazing man in my life. He is the best husband and an even more incredible father. He is understanding, supportive, wise and honest. He is funny, emotional, caring and loving. He has treated me with respect from the day we met and easily won me over with his charm. He can lay it on smooth, let me tell you. But I love it. He makes me smile and my stomach still does butterflies when he kisses me. I pray that that feeling never goes away. It is as real as the very first kiss, way back in 1995.

Unlike a lot of people, I knew that I was going to marry Erik before I even knew his name. Well, I at least knew I was going to date him before I knew his name. I guess the marriage thing came later, but it did not take long. Let me tell you. It was a more real feeing than anything else I had ever felt. I was so sure that we were meant to be together that I never thought of leaving ---even when it did take him 5 years to propose :)

And speaking of fathers....have I mentioned what a wonderful dad he is? Just like my own father, Erik loves spending time with Ella and Lucy. When he gets home from work, his time and energy is totally focused on his girls. As tired as he might be, he puts on his "home clothes" and then is at their mercy. Outside, inside, rain, shine. It does not matter. He gives them a bath every night and somehow makes bathtime one of the most anticipated events of the day. They hate it when I have to step in. I'm such a bore!

I love the way he loves me and I love the way he loves the girls. I love it when they all curl up in the new leather chair that he hates and that is too small for all three of them. But they get in there all the same and just become one big bundle of love. I love it when Ella wakes up in the morning and if Erik has already gone to work she sobs tears of sadness because she is heartbroken not to see him. I love it when Ella and Lucy run to give him hugs when he comes home from work. I love it when the girls are thrilled on Friday night that their Daddy will be home all day Saturday. I love the way Erik loves his girls.

I am comforted to know that Erik will do whatever it takes to make sure that his girls have every advantage they need to succeed in life. He will never let them settle. Just like my father did for me, Erik will fight the good fight to ensure that Ella and Lucy reach their full potential.

I love you Erik, and I thank God daily for sending you to me. How a boy from Iron Mountain, Michigan and a girl from rural West Tennessee could ever come together can only be accrediated to God. And to Him, I am thankful.

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Day 4 Beach Trip

Day 4 started with a bang; mainly because Erik and my Dad joined us. It's always fun when they join in the vacation. They are both great to play with the girls and, selfishly, it gives my mom and I a wee-bit of a break. By day 4 the girls are usually tired of me and mom and they just hang on Erik. My Dad, Pops, is great at building sand castles---although I promise that mom and I saw him doing "site work" on the sand before he and Ella started building.

I like this picture of Lucy. You can tell how utterly tired she is from all the sun and fun.
Dad trying to catch fish with the orange nets. I have to give Erik total props because he is the only one who actually caught the little minnow. He caught MANY little fish, to be honest. The girls thought he was near heroic.

See, 3 little fish....

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Day 3 - June Beach Trip

On our third day at the beach we had to take a break. We were all drained from the sun and needed a change of scenery (although thinking about it from my living room I wonder why in the world I needed a break from the BEACH!!??) We decided to run over to Foley and stroll around the outlet mall. I can say that we covered that mall from top to bottom and got some good exercise, but didn't spend hardly a dime. (If you remember from previous posts, contentment is something I have been praying over for a long time. Thankfully, God is answering that prayer.)

When we got home the girls took a nap and then we went out to the beach for about 3 hours. We decided that we had not tortured ourselves enough, so we got the girls ready and headed out to The Wharf to ride the big Ferris wheel. We had seen the "big wheel" as we came in on the bypass to Orange Beach. If you have never been to The Wharf, I highly recommend it! We will spend a half-day there instead of Foley next time. And there is a fantastic movie theatre if you are stuck at the beach on a rainy day---which we were NOT.

Here are a couple of the pictures I took before we left for the Ferris wheel:

Here is a picture of the HUGE Ferris wheel. It was so much fun. I was a nervous wreck, but the girls and mom really had a nice time. Being a mother has turned me into a bit of a phobic about some things and heights happens to be one of them. I couldn't even enjoy the ride for being absolutely stricken with fear that we were going to fall out of the bucket. (when i have time one day, I should really get some help.....)

Look, I did go on vacation. I asked my mom to take at least one picture of me so that I had proof I actually went to the beach.

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Day Two at the Beach

So much for my plan to post every day at the beach. Who knew this year would be so different from last year? Although the girls were much more independant this year, they were much more active. We went from sun up to sun down. You know how I posted about sitting back and reading a magazine the first day? Let's just say its a good thing I finished it in one sitting because I never had the chance to pick it up again.

We had a wonderful week and I look forward to posting more pictures as I go. Right now I am trying to survive VBS and still somehow get caught up with everything else that got put on hold while we were away. And I thought this summer was going to be easy-going.....

On the second day of our beach trip, the girls decided they wanted to try body boards (they had seen other kids with them). So off we go to Alvin's Island to buy 2 body boards. Mission accomplished!

Don't they look like little surfer girls?

After a day in the sun, Mom and I took my sun-kissed girls to The Crab Trap for dinner.
They had a great time eating crab claws (who would have thought it?)

and then they played on the playground for almost an hour while Mom and I enjoyed a slice of keylime pie and coffee. It was such a relaxing evening!

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Simple Luxuries

Being away from home can sometimes surprise you with a few simple, unexpected luxuries. For example, yesterday the girls were taking a nap and instead of doing 2 loads of laundry, unloading and loading the dishwasher, starting dinner and paying bills, I grabbed the newest copy of US Weekly and read all about the gossip unfolding around Jon and Kate Plus 8. How could I justify such a selfish act you might ask? Well......

This is what I woke up to Monday morning. My mom, the girls and I left Sunday for a week at the beach! Just as it is every time we come, it is so relaxing and really just does something to your spirit. We spent the whole day in the sun, swimming and building sand castles. We spent a great deal of time gathering sea shells and both girls have completely acclimated to swimming in the ocean. They love it! I can't get over how comfortable they are. I have to admit that it is still rather intimidating to me.

I love the week that the girls and I spend with my mom. We always have such a fun time and we make memories that we laugh about for years to come. I just love my mom. She's the best!

Simple pleasures, right?

These girls enjoyed it, too:

For a special treat, we took the girls to get ice cream after we had dinner in the condo. Quick back story....last year we stumbled across a great little ice cream parlor in Perdido. Mom, Ella and I went in a got a cone with special toppings. Lucy, being allergic to milk, had never even noticed ice cream before. I had always just made sure to get her a kids cone filled with M&Ms. Well, this time she noticed. She screamed and screamed for ice cream. I felt like a dog and swore I would never go get ice cream in front of her again. Over the past year, Lucy has outgrown her allergy and can now eat ice cream. So last night we went to find that same ice cream parlor and wouldn't you know it was not there! We did find Bruster's though.

Placing their order for strawberry ice cream with sprinkles

Sweet Lucy finally enjoying ice cream at the beach!

This is my ice cream sundae. It is only 1 scoop--I promise!!!!

Apparently if we go back Thursday, we can get a banana split for half price.

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First Swim of 09

I love these action shots of Ella. You can really tell how much fun she is having!
Our Summer fun started with an early swim at Nanny and Pops' pool. The heater was turned on, but it was still SOOOO cold. Needless to say neither Mommy nor Nanny got in with the girls. Lucy was in typical form at first, only interested in the water hose.

But she warmed up to the idea of swimming and soon was floating away in this yellow float that she called "Duckie."