Kids Update

A few of you long-time readers may be wondering how Nathan and Carissa have been doing during my long absence from blogging.

Nathan is doing great! He's coming up on twelve this summer (and I'm trying to practice admitting I have a twelve year old!), and 6th grade has been his best so far. He attends a great school with two of the best teachers on earth, and loves participating in adapted sports such as volleyball, bowling and basketball. He has been quite healthy and his CMS is in a very stable phase. He constantly entertains us all with his sense of humor and has really been working on making sounds and vocalizing recently.

Carissa is a wonder. She has finally finished potty-training and is smarter than her Daddy and I combined, although we are fighting hard to keep her from figuring that out yet! I must admit that I loooove having a three-year old-I never know what she will say next, and her observations on life force me to look at things through brand new eyes. She has become Mommy's buddy lately, and loves helping with any type of housework or chore (which I'm sure she will completely outgrow long before the teen years start!) She has a cadre of about six imaginary friends that she "leads/bosses" all around the house, and is convinced that all girls are princesses.

Spectacular Seattle!!

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Since I have already shared some of our pics from Orlando in earlier posts I thought you might enjoy some snapshots of our time in Seattle, Tacoma and Gig Harbor. I really think this part of the country is pretty close to heaven on earth!

Farewell, Sabbatical!

I can't believe that our five-week sabbatical is over already! This time away from our responsibilities of caring and planning for our congregation has been more restful, more enriching, and more restoring than I had dared to hope. I now have a better perspective on just how close to total burnout Chris and I both were. That noted, I must say that after this month I am more relaxed, centered, healthy and happy than I remember being in years. But the really good news is that I feel we have laid the ground work for both of us to remain on this track of better health and perspective for the foreseeable future.

One of the main highlights of our month for me was seeing United at Team Church '07. That concert was one of those transcendent experiences you remember your whole life. And it wasn't just the concert, it was the time that we got to spend hearing the members of United talk about their music and their heart for worship and justice that made this a memorable experience.

I freely admit that I am a United junkie. I have loved their music since I heard my first United CD, and if I were a twenty-one year old, I think I would just travel the world going to all of their concerts! (In fact, it is quite possible that I have a crush on Joel Houston! He's like a modern day David. He's really tall, he has a ruddy complexion and he's pretty cute to look upon, if a middle-ish-aged preacher's wife may observe. Add in his deeply moving song lyrics, and all I can say is "Ahhh!" I have always had a thing for musicians-Chris was a drummer when we fell in love. I told Chris that if I were a teenaged girl I think I'd have his poster on my wall!) Okay, back to reality now...

I came away from their sessions during the conference deeply impressed with the spiritual maturity of these young men and women-their naked hunger for God and His presence, and their undeniable commitment to seek justice for the poor and downtrodden. There was a passion and a driving purpose in these young people that I have not seen even in career ministers of the gospel! And to hear their hearts and then to go see them in action, using their phenomenal talents for the glory of God and seeing hundreds of youth worshipping with abandon after waiting in line for hours to get in to the venue was truly a life-changing experience.

Not only did I enjoy this from a music and worship standpoint-their example has spurred me on to work on discover what I am passionate about in this world and to find a way to do it! Motherhood and ministry remain the things I care most deeply about, but I also believe that there is a unique purpose within me and over the next few months I intend to search for it. During our sabbatical I was challenged to come up with an action plan of things to do to keep burnout and fatigue from reoccurring once we came back, and this is one of the items on my plan. I plan to spend more time exploring things outside of my normal realm of church and home, such as the great museums and galleries in our metro area, and maybe even take a class or two at the community college. So we'll see what develops from there!

So Sorry, SeaWorld!

I owe Sea World an apology. In 2004, during our Make-A-Wish trip, we spent a morning there, and it was just not on par with Disney for their disability support. We experienced a long, frustrating time, fighting crowds and long lines with a wheelchair and seeing staff just shrug their shoulders over and over because there was no policy or training in place for them to know how to help us to help Nathan experience things. (As a special-needs mom, I must give a shout out to Disney because I have never seen a staff more well-trained about how to help families navigate their park and experiences!!) After that, I swore I would never go back.

Well, I am eating those words as I sit here typing. After weighing the pros and cons of Sea World vs. Universal with a toddler, Sea World won. And we had a great day! The temps here were 96 with a heat index over 105, but SW seemed much cooler than Epcot because of all the shade trees over the walkways. We fed the dolphins again, which was the highlight of our last trip, but we found so much more to do. The shark tank was amazing and the sea lions were hilarious! Carissa thoroughly enjoyed the Elmo Rocks show-she (and we!) got to see all of our beloved Sesame Street characters, from Cookie Monster to Bert & Ernie.

I humbly apologize to you, Sea World! Thanks for the great day!

Streams in our desert

We spent yesterday at the poolS! Yes, I said pools-PLURAL! We had intended to go to an area church we wanted to visit, but didn't make it, since we all woke up at 11:45 am!!! I have never slept that late without waking up at all in my entire life. Normally our nurse comes in each day at 6 am, so my bladder is conditioned to wake me at that time. Well, even it slept in! So we ate lunch, explored the resort and headed to the pool. It was the most relaxing Sunday we have had in quite a while!

Today we headed out for our first day at Disney. First up, Epcot. Big props to KT, friend of Moriah's brother Daniel, who works at Disney and got us in for free! Not only that, she served as our personal tour guide and photographer. Carissa was all ready to see Nemo in the Living Seas ride, but KT noticed that the line to meet characters was really short so we went there first. It was truly magical seeing Carissa meet Mickey & Minnie in person. At first she was hesitant, but by the end of the line, after we had seen all of the characters, she would hardly let go after hugging each one! (Mommy was quite relieved that she wasn't screaming like many of the other toddlers!) And we got plenty of autographs:

After that it was on to Nemo and Talking with Crush. They were as amazing as we had expected! And, since we are not fish (who are "friends, NOT FOOD!") Bruce the shark obligingly ate us for a photo op:

Then we headed over to Germany in the World Showcase, where Chris obligingly ate a bratwurst with sauerkraut!

We left around 2 pm, once the heat was really getting miserable, but we are heading back tonight for some of the Magic Kingdom once it's cooler.

Well, we are finally in Florida, and this is the first time so far that I really feel like we are on sabbatical. We had a fantastic flight down yesterday with only two hours of airtime to get here (versus the 16 hour drive!!!), during which our adorable toddler slept the entire time!

During our trip to Seattle last week, I kept seeing things and having random thoughts and thinking, "I have to blog about that!" But then when we got home I couldn't remember a one of them! (I know, I know, many of you are not surprised at that!) I do still hope to write about all that we experienced during that week here in MomMusings, but I have made a resolution that I will blog in little increments during this trip so that it won't escape me. And this way, you all get to come along with us!

So, that said, I have to share that our villa is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!! We are staying at Cypress Harbour in Orlando. We have a two bedroom villa with a direct view of the pool and lake. I took some pictures so you guys could settle right in with us:

Our view from the patio:

Miss Sunshine State:

We're off in a bit to explore the resort. It has a boat ride across the lake, an activity center and three different pool areas! Tomorrow we hit Disney, and I can't wait to see it through Carissa's eyes!

Caring for the Pastor's Wife

Wow! My cyber-friend Julie over at the accidental pastor's wife posted a link to this amazing blog post by Pastor Erik over at his Bright Wings blog about how to care for the pastor's wife. I am especially glad someone has spoken up on the point of praying for her and fighting for her. The blog post speaks for itself. Enjoy!

World's Most Beautiful Women's Restroom View

After years of visiting many a woman's restroom I have found it. Dirty ones, smelly ones, ones you wouldn't make your hamster use-each time you have to go it seems to get more dingy and disgusting, am I right ladies? Well, that's just not the way they do things down in this little spot of heaven on earth that we discovered during our all-too-brief time in Gig Harbor, Washington.

We stopped for lunch at a fantastic place called the Tides Tavern. It sits right on the waterfront, and also happens to have the best fish and chips you've ever wrapped your lips around. During our meal, I begrudgingly got up from the amazing view to run to the ladies room, when "Surprise! Surprise!" (to quote Gomer Pyle) THIS is what I found:I wanted to sit there all day! As you can see, they even provided a comfy window seat, which you can see but probably not believe in the right hand side of the picture, from which to soak in this magnificent view. Instead of flickering fluorescent lighting and the sound of flushing toilets, there was a flood of natural light and the sound of the seagulls outside. It just goes to show you that you never know what you'll find behind each ladies room swinging door!

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