Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Road Trip

Over the river and through the woods...
...And through the Western Slope 
...And through boring Utah
...And through a little corner of Arizona
...And through Las Vegas
...And through Southern California...
To Grandmother's house we went!


We piled in suitcases and strollers and DVDs and coloring books and snacks and Dr. Peppers and Pillow Pets and four kids and we drove straight through, 
all the way to California for Thanksgiving.

It took 16 hours.

Sixteen.

Hours.

I helped Gary with the driving. I drove for one hour.  


(Brody's special road trip glasses make time go faster.)

But we got there and hit the ground running!
(After a nap.)

Our week was rich with family and friends.  It was a lot of fun to go and just be together and visit with some of the people we love most in this world.  

Some highlights:

We went to the CU vs. UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl!  So fun.  
The girls made us a sign to hold up.  
We certainly brought it with us... but then OOPS!  
We accidentally left it in the car...

Even though it was an AWFUL game, we had a blast with our friends 
Thomas and Kristen (and Aubrey!).  

We went to visit Granny and took an entire family picture 
while everyone was there together!  Pretty rare these days.

And then...we got to celebrate Thanksgiving TWICE!  

Once with Gary's Mom's side of the family:

And again with Gary's Dad's side of the family:

In between all the fun, we had fun going to the park, taking bike rides, playing games and horsing around with Aunt Heidi and "Uncle" LV.

 

 

And then we piled back in the car for the 
very
long
drive
home.

It seemed to take three times as long to get home.

But we passed the time with car dance parties, 
the Toy Story movies and lots of good talks.
Is it crazy that I won't mind when we have to do it again?

 

And then we were home.
Brody kept telling us the whole time that he wanted to be home.  
It's a pretty good feeling when your kids look forward 
to going home because it's a place they like.
And I'm glad to be home too.  I've been away a LOT lately, and I'm homesick! 

I got up the next morning and tackled all of the 
laundry non-stop until it was done.  I love getting settled back into home.  

Home.

That's something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What the Shell?!

Okay, you guys.  Brace yourself for something totally mind blowing.

Well, maybe not mind blowing.  Amazing?  We'll go with amazing.

We were in Florida last week.  
We went at the same time last year and had a fun time walking the beach and finding a seashell here and there.  But this year?  Word on the street (er, poolside) was that Tropical Storm Sean churned up the ocean enough to cover the beaches with seashells.  



And I mean, COVER.




There were stretches of beach where sand wasn't even visible.  It was all shells.  
This land locked Colorado girl has never seen anything like it.  I was so tickled!  
I began exclaiming my excitement to Gary and squealing with delight.  
(I'm not exaggerating.)  The more I saw the thousands of shells on the beach 
and studied each one I picked up, I couldn't help but wonder...


Why aren't people 
talking about shells?!?


Shells are amazing!  They're beautiful!  
I was giddy at the thought that Gary and I were the first humans EVER 
to lay our eyes on some of these shells.  We were modern day explorers!!!  
Move over, Ponce de Leon!  
I half-expected to see news helicopters hovering overhead.


Can you sense my excitement?

I turned to Gary and said, 
"Isn't this AMAZING?!"  

He shrugged and said, "Yeah."  

Yeah?  Flat, monotone, YEAH.  
I guess he just couldn't match my level of excitement.

"This is EXCITING, Gar-Bear!  Get excited!"  
And with that, he did a cartwheel.


I laughed so hard.


But seriously, let's talk about seashells.
I had lots of questions and I needed answers.


Did you know shells are a creature's exoskeleton?  
I didn't know that.  I mean, I knew crabs walked around finding shells to occupy, 
but I didn't know they were actually once part of a snail's body.
The shell is what remains after the snail dies.  
My friends and I conjectured that maybe shells were made of their poop.  
They're not.


Did you know that those really big, beautiful shells you find in gift shops 
and airports are actually harvested, which means that the creature inside is killed?  
By the time most naturally abandoned shells make it to the shore, 
they're usually broken in pieces.


Did you know it's not illegal to take shells from Florida beaches 
unless they're still "alive?"  It's true.  
But one shell I brought home had a little stowaway inside.  Oops.  And yuck.


Sanibel Island is known as the seashell capital of the world.  
It's on the gulf side of Florida.  I'd love to go there sometime. 


Like all the beachcombers I spied on the beach, I was taken by these little beauties and couldn't resist.  I came home with quite a seashell bounty.  Wanna see?

First I'll show you the largest and smallest shells I found, 
in comparison with a penny that I also found on the beach:


I KNOW!!!  Can you believe it?  That sucker is HUGE!  The pointy part in the bottom left side of the picture was sticking out of the sand next to a little reef that was exposed at low tide.  I wiggled it a little and pulled out this enormous shell!  I was shocked!


This little cutie is about the size of my entire palm and literally washed up on my feet.  
I'm pretty much the Shell Whisperer.


I love that spiral!


I was curious how that spiral forms so I googled it.  
Basically... 
Seashells are created by snails. When snails are first born, their skins are soft, then they harden and calcify and detach from the rest of the body. They continuously grow around their own shells more and more, which is where the spiral comes from. When the snails die, the soft portion decays and the hard shell remains.

Some shells are also those of clams, scallops, or oysters. Depending on the location, any of these might be more numerous than the shells of snails. In any case, the process of formation is similar: A soft-bodied mollusk secretes calcium carbonate which accumulates as the shell as the animal grows, then the empty shell remains when the animal dies.


Source

You might know that there's a mathematical explanation too... 
about the golden ratio and logarithmic spirals and the 
Fibonacci sequence and all that mumbo jumbo.  
But quite frankly, I'm afraid of attracting the wrong kind of crowd - 
there are those who might stumble upon this blog by doing a 
Google search for those kinds of things.  ;)  

In the end, I can't help but look at those gorgeous spirals 
and think that our Creator does a magnificent job.


Doesn't this one look like a prop right out of 
Pirates of the Caribbean?



I learned that all of these type of shells are called "olive" shells.  
They're the South Carolina state shell.
Do you know what Colorado's state shell is?



Here's the loot... well, about 3/4 of it.  
My kids are LOVING all of these shells.


 Aren't they GORGEOUS?

 

Maybe I should've majored in conchology in college.
It'd be an excuse to visit tropical places, right?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Florida Highlights

We got home last night from a week in Florida.
Ahhhhhh.
Yes, we were in Hawaii a few weeks ago.  We're spoiled!
This time, Gary was facilitating a conference for EFCA student ministry
pastors and leaders.  Along with a few other wives, I got to tag along!

Some Florida highlights:
 A spontaneous harmonica performance from a cute little old man
in MeMaw's BBQ restaurant.
(You've got to try their hushpuppies!)

 Lots of seashells.

Some dear friends:  Heather, Jessica & Heidi
(And Brooke.  Brooke!  You were never around when my camera was out!)
We spent countless hours confiding in and laughing with one another.

 The view from our room.

 A hilarious moment at Coldstone when I turned around after being the last 
to get my ice cream, only to find that my friends were mocking me 
What a fun husband I have to set that one up!  
(I still laugh thinking about it!)

Beautiful smiles! 

 And finally...
 YES!  THIS is the car we drove!!!!!
We were bracing ourselves for, well, worse.
We could hardly believe it.
Thanks to Gary's patience as he waited in a long line
and the fact that he didn't gripe with each snafu once he was at the counter,
the rental car company upgraded us for free to this Mustang convertible!  
He looks goooood driving a convertible!
What a fun way to cruise the coast.
We were pretty psyched. 
 I'll take a bad hair day any day if it means feeling the sun on my
shoulders while we drive!
Our view when we looked up.  :)
Not that we're ungrateful for the upgrade, but a word of advice:
NEVER use Payless Car Rental.  
And that's about all I'll say about that!

More tomorrow about one of these highlights...
It will leave you amazed.  No!  Shell shocked.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

wiww {7}

A while back, I joined in with Lindsay at The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday:  a weekly post where hundreds of bloggers check-in and keep each other accountable for getting out of sweats and jammies and actually putting some effort into what we wear.  

pleated poppy

I stopped doing it because I felt so silly taking pictures of myself and posting them for all the world to see.  It's not like I think I'm fashion savvy or anything.  But you know what? It helped!  It was fun to find pieces in my closet I hadn't put together before and try new things.  

But then...

I got into a slump.  In the last few months, sweats and sloppy outfits were becoming too frequent.  And the truth is, I feel so much better and get so much more accomplished when I take the time to put an outfit together!  It doesn't have to be fancy.  I'd rather be comfy than fancy.  It's just about the effort!

Join in the fun!

Saturday
Top:  Downeast Basics (on clearance!)
Sweater:  Old Navy
Jeans:  Kohl's
Flats:  Target

Sunday
Gray top:  super old, no tag!
Tunic sweater:  Goodwill!
Leggings:  Walmart
Boots:  DSW
Scarf:  Boutique in Minnesota
You know, I'm not in love with this outfit.  
I thought I'd try the tan/gray combo and I'm not a fan.  
What do you think?

 Monday
Top:  Goodwill
Cardi:  Kohl's
Jeans:  Kohl's
Moccasins:  Garage Sale!
Necklace:  Boutique in Minnesota
Earrings:  Bajalia  
 I'm a big fan of these earrings.  Not only are they pretty and unique, they support a great cause.  From the website:
Asian Coin Earrings inspired and designed by women who have been rescued from human trafficking in Asia. While working in their jewelry businesses, they are receiving literacy training and counseling to bring dignity, hope and a future. 
How cool is that?  Go check out Bajalia.  They sell jewelry, stationary, home decor, and more.  You could do some Christmas shopping and help women around the world at the same time!

 Tuesday
Tank:  Target
Sweater:  Forever 21
Jeans:  Gap (these have about seen their day...)
Converse:  Target
Scarf:  Boutique in... Minnesota!

Like I said before, I always feel goofy doing this.  But it's really motivating me to shower (shower?! DAILY?!) and get dressed purposefully and thoughtfully each day.  Whatever it takes, right?  But I also feel silly because more important than what I wear is this:

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
1 Peter 3:3-4

So just remember that when you're stressing out over which shoes to wear or whether or not grey and tan go together!  Like I tell my girls:  it's the INSIDE that counts!

Now go!  Get showered, get dressed and take a picture.  
I want to see YOU do this next week!  It's fun!
And go over to Lindsay's blog to see who else linked up to wiww.
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