Turns Out I Already Found the Most Wonderful Place on Earth

Warning: I’m going to condense 7 days into 1 tiny little living space blog post (Can you name that Disney Movie line?)

In true THAT family fashion, we pulled over on the side of the road, stopping traffic in the process, to take a picture of the ship we were about to board:

This pretty much sums up the week:

We are big Disney fans (we lived in Florida for awhile and visited often). Our favorite part of the cruise was the slower-pace. It was nice to enjoy the amenities, but we didn’t feel rushed. Several times, my kid’s noticed some of the other passengers had perks we didn’t, much bigger rooms, free gifts, etc. (My kids were over-the-top thankful, but they have no idea about the value of money, although this trip taught them a lot!)
And that’s when I taught them all about Last-Minute Deals that ships offer sometimes to sell the last couple of rooms. “We paid about 1/4 of what all the other passengers did,” I explained.
My older daughter summed it up, “We’re just lucky to be on the boat. Who cares about a window in the cabin or a free keychain!”
Exactly.
We did get a little seasick and partook of little white pills offered to those with our shade of coloring. It didn’t stop us though:

There were Disney characters all over the ship! I just knew that would be my toddler’s favorite part (this was her first Disney experience). But she has the same forlorn (freaked out, maybe?) look in all the pictures. She enjoyed the ice cream a lot more!

The ship docked in the Bahamas and we were free to spend the day how we pleased. My kids were really nervous about being in a different country. (If you’ve ever visited, you know that there are many helpful people who would like to be paid for their assistance. It can be a little overwhelming. 
A lady asked if my girls wanted to be Bahaman princesses (she was very smart and coercive) and have their hair braided.
I asked, “How much?” (I kept catching myself talking in a loud voice, very slowly. It was purely for my benefit, because their English was perfect).
“$3″ she said as she led us to an open market.
I’m thinking Oh, this is going to be fun! What a deal!

I couldn’t believe my toddler was willing to sit so still. 
At some point, my hubby (he’s the one with the common sense) asked “What will the total be?”
“$80″ one of the ladies said, never looking up.
“Each.”
And that’s when I HAD A HOT FLASH.
We’d only been in The Bahamas fifteen minutes and we’d have to leave one of our kids AS COLLATERAL to pay for HAIR BRAIDS.
“Okay. I think we have enough braids now,” I said, trying to get their nimble fingers to STOP.
Because y’all, that’s ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SIXTY-DOLLARS!!
“Oh, but don’t you want your girls to be princesses?” the lady questioned.
Nope, not really. It’s totally overrated and OUT OF OUR BUDGET, I think to myself and give my hubby a look that screams DO SOMETHING!
He negotiated, paused a lot, and bargained a reasonable price. But we did tip the ladies well (they both had 7 kids, each!)
The Bahaman Princesses

Of course, if I had known HOW EASY it was to wash and go braided hair, I probably would have paid a little more. Just avoiding brushing out tangled hair was WORTH GOLD. GOLD, I tell you. [Funny little detail: One of the beads on toddler’s head (unknown to us) was a glow in the dark bead. It was hilarious in the middle of the night to catch a glimpse of that lone bead in the darkness!]

A Day at the Beach 
(our cruise ship and The Flying Dutchman pirate ship from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean in the background).
We had a wonderful DREAM vacation and a Thanksgiving we’ll never forget.

I kept telling my kids, savor this, I can’t imagine we’ll do this again. But I did remember that I don’t have to travel all the way to DisneyWorld to find the most wonderful place on earth. 
I already found it.
It’s called home.


p.s. I have a VERY FUN giveaway planned for Tuesday!



Advent

Advent is defined as the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus that has begun.
Want to know what we’ve tucked away in our calendar? Download & print the list here.
{We just returned from our trip, I can’t wait to share some highlights with you, but while I wash everything we own, I wanted to share The Coming, my favorite time of the year.}



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DIYP-CheeseCloth Rosette Pins

I have a new love. 

Her name is cheesecloth (no cheese involved, sorry).
We’re exclusive.
Well. Except that you can buy it at WalMart and all craft stores, especially this time of year with all the fruitcakes. You know what I mean.
I made a cheesecloth rosette on this burlap pillow, remember?
Well. I think they look pretty cute grouped on a plain pillow:

Or as a pin for a shirt.
Wouldn’t these make great teacher gifts? So easy and inexpensive!

Here’s a slideshow showing how to make them: 


Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Rosette Tutorial
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

Check out Kimba’s for more great ideas!
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Some other gift ideas I love:
Gift jars-cute idea!
Paper flowers-Last-minute, inexpensive
Cupcake Bath Bombs- this is on my Christmas wish list!

Thanksgiving

On this special day, where we pause to offer thanksgiving, there is one who sums up the words in my heart. If you aren’t already reading Ann VosKamp, A Holy Experience, you must. She is God’s mouthpiece to me on so many mornings. With her permission, I share her thoughts on being thankful. Truly life-changing.


The Real Joy Secret

I wake wanting to die.

Scarlet light bleeds over the horizon, another day aching in. I lie in bed. Pull covers up over my head. I’m withered dry and even the tears won’t fall: a heart drought. I lay listening to taunt of the namesLoser. Mess. Failure. Can I shrivel up invisible?

Mothers of six aren’t supposed to think this way. Not the happily-married, not the financially solvent.

Not the Christ-followers.

A year of mornings, I wake to the name calling, force feet to the floor anyways. I do pray.But self-hatred is a soul-eating disease and I’ve cut off parts off myself to survive.

I look in the mirror, into those eyes, and I know. It’s time for medication, some happiness from The Healer. Is that even a real possibility? My bones are brittle, dryness of the broken spirit; where on earth – in heaven — do I get some of that joy medicine?

I’m standing in the kitchen, a morning in early November, sky weeping too, colors of the world draining away with the rain, when Jesus hands me the word that He stabbed into the slimy underbelly of the enemy.

There’s a good medicine word.

To continue this beautiful poetic road, click here.


To my dearest readers and friends, may God abundantly bless your thankful heart.



When Dreams Come True {Giveaway}

*UPDATED* Congratulations to Cheryl! (Her dream is to “Relax” -she must be a Mom!) I corrected the bad link to Mela’s site, please make sure you visit, enjoy her music and follow your dream!
What is your dream?
I think everyone has one. Some are pursued with vigor and confidence, some hidden deep within, while others are buried under the ashes of regret and disappointment.
But everyone has one. A dream.
Lean in close and I’ll whisper mine in your ear: I want to author a book. I’ve faced a lot, A LOT of rejections, but it’s still there. My dream.

Well. I want to introduce you to someone who made their dream come true: Mela Kamin.
I’ll let her tell you in her own words: 
This is my debut CD. I co-wrote all the songs, recorded in Nashville with some

amazing musicians, after just a year of making the decision to step out in faith
and use my gifts in this way. I didn’t grow up going to church or singing in choirs.
I never sang a song in front of an audience (besides at my grandparents’ funerals)
until last year. All this happened because I overcame fear, watched God open
BIG doors and I walked boldly through, trusting Him to lead the way.

I now travel and share my stories and songs about how big God’s plans are for us.
My husband, Greg & I started 4:10 Ministries based on 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one
should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering
God’s grace in its various forms.” We work to encourage people to discover, accept,
use and celebrate their unique gifts.”



Mela sent me a copy of her CD to listen to and a couple of her cute t-shirts.

And do you know how I felt after I listened to it? Inspired.  

I’m not about to give up on my dream. Neither should you.

Would you like to win a copy of Mela’s new CD and a cute shirt for you and your child ($55 value)? Visit her site, come back here and whisper your dream if you dare (or just leave a comment) and that will be your entry!

This giveaway ends on Saturday.