My Sizzlin’ Summer Vacation

Thanks for linking up everyone! I hope you had as much fun as I did!  The door prize winners can be viewed below…if you see your name, please email me your address (  Thank you also to the companies who donated something! And if you have a chance this weekend, please blog hop and read everyone’s awesome posts!  Happy Labor Day.

Welcome!  I’m so excited you’re here.  I’ve been looking forward to this Sizzlin’ Summer Vacation Spectacle for a long time.  I’m excited to read and see photos of your sizzlin’ or fizzlin’ trips.  

Don’t forget to link up your story at the end of this post.  I will be announcing door prize winners all day long, from 7 a.m until 10 p.m. Friday night (CST). Door prizes are only for Linky participants. (I am giving away 4 prizes for commenters on this post…keep reading).  You only need to link up your vacation post ONE TIME to be eligible to win one of the door prizes. And your post doesn’t have to be a current post, just one from this summer’s vacation (day trip), but I would appreciate a link back here.
Here is the list of 21 door prizes (not in a specific order) that total around $800.00!  I will update winners every couple of hours, so please check back as often as you can. Some of the prizes were donated locally and do not have links and these will be given away first, so Please take time to visit each donator that has a link. These business/blogs have been so kind to donate the following:
Prize #1. Travel Scrapbook ($25 value) Winner: Tonggu Momma
Prize #2. $25 Gift Certificate to Ultra Beauty-4-You Boutique
Prize #3. Two Beautiful Wooden Frames for your vacation snapshots ($25 value) Winner: Craft Junky Creations
Prize #4. Huggable Kid’s Digital Photo Frame ($30 value) 

Prize #5. Personalized Set of Cards from Creative Blessings by Stacey ($20 value)
Prize #6. A Kid’s Travel Activity Lot ($25 value) Winner: Forty b4 Forty

Prize #7. Shawn is offering a $15 Gift Certificate w/free shipping to Shawnsbidness Collectibles (ebay store) Winner:  Lisa@ Stop and Smell the Chocolates!
Prize #8. Travel Disney Scene It: To Go ($15 value) Winner: My 3 Wisemens 

Prize #9.$25 Gift Certificate to Me Oh My Paper Boutique
Winner: Rohal Call
And three companies have offered grand prizes:
 Prize #10. Pine Cove Family Camp is donating a Prize Gift Box (over $50 value) consisting of: 3 Pine Cove T-Shirts (1 Adult, 2 Children’s), 2 Pine Cove Outback Car Decals, an Outback Boomerang and stuffed kangaroo and Pine Cove’s Newest Worship CD:  Second Life of Mattresses. Winner- Life at the Circus
Keylime Cove Logo

Prize #11. One free night plus 4 all-day waterpark admissions to the amazing Key Lime Cove Indoor Water Park and Resort  in Illinois!  Go check out this amazing place. (Value $150; in your comment please mention if you’d like to win this and would be able to use it, expires December 2009).
Lonely Planet Logo
Prizes #12-21 Lonely Planet is offering 10 Travel Guides (up to $30 value each). Winners have can pick the travel guide of their choice! You can view the choices here. !
Winner –Kelly’s Krazy Kids, (pick a book here!)

Winner- Frantically Simple (pick a book here!)

Winner- Sandra (pick a book here!)

Winner- AgSoccer Mom(pick a book here!)

Winner- PS He Loves You (pick a book here!)

Winner-Neurotically Yours (pick a book here!)

Winner-Carolina Mama (pick a book here!)

Winner-Rockin Mama (pick a book here!)

Winner-Little Toes & Cheerios (pick a book here!)

Winner-Demos (pick a book here!)

PLUS, these amazing guides (Florida, USA, (2)Blue List: Best in Travel in 2008) will go to 4 lucky commenters on this post (that’s a total of 14 Travel Guides from Lonely Planet. This is a total value of approximately $400!
Winner- World’s Greatest Mommy-Travel Guide- USA
Winner- Simple Things-Travel Guide-Florida

Before you link up, indulge me and check out my Sizzlin’ Summer Vacation.  We went to Pine Cove Family Camp in Tyler, Texas and had an incredible week.
It was simply amazing.   Here are some other highlights:
Redneck Hubby with a Gun, Shooting some Skeet.
One little boy conquering his fear and flying down a zip line for the first time.
A fearless girl who lived on the giant water slide and Blob!
Our first family boat trip was awesome.  

Oh. And the water balloon fight was pretty spectacular.

Watching my family fly off the Water Rocket was hilarious!
Falling into the water, upside down & backwards was  cool!
Swinging with Daddy was the best!
The Breakfast Trailride with my hubby was awesome!

But most of all, the best part of our vacation was reconnecting with my hubby, my kids and God.  That was the greatest!

Just a Pleasant Reminder from Your Friendly Blogger…

Don’t forget that the Sizzling Summer Vacation Spectacle is THIS Friday!  There will be more than $600 in door prizes! Yes, you read that right!  

You are only eligible if you link up your vacation story, so get busy!  I will be throwing up Mr. Linky Thursday night at exactly 10 pm (CST) because I just realized that this weekend is Labor Day weekend. I will start announcing door prizes all day long on Friday!
You can link to an older post or write a new one…just as long as it’s about a vacation/or a fun summer day!

A Crazy Wonderful Week

Well. Family Camp.  It was amazing.  And not just because I had low expectations.  I just didn’t

 expect this  all week long!

And while I would love to delight you with all 400 photos, I must save some of my vacation splendor for the little Sizzlin’ Summer Vacation Spectacle that I’m hosting on August 29th.  You can read all about the giveaway-linky-frenzy, here.  You don’t want to miss it!

I will say, it was one high  after another

While the kids ran amuck with their counselors at Family Camp, the parents participated in an amazing parenting conference, focusing on raising great kids.

Umm, yeah . . . we completely needed it! (I’ll be sharing some of the fabulous parenting tips I learned later next month)!

I thought I would share the two parts of Family Camp I mentioned the other day: the  theme nights and the talent show.

Theme Nights:

It’s a Mystery

THAT family disguised themselves into various characters for the evening.

It was scary.

This woman looks familiar, but she’s a real enigma.

Sixties Night (I’m so glad we didn’t listen to my son who thought it was sexy night!)

Aren’t we groovy?

I’m at Peace!
Fiesta Night was muy caliente! 

I fell desperately in love with these two Latinos on Fiesta night!
The Talent Show

THAT family entered the talent show, but we forgot the peanut butter (much to hubby’s relief) for our family’s disgusting skit.

God is good.

So, we created a magic ‘enlarging machine’ thanks to reader, Wendy M. for the idea.

What happens when you throw a rag in? . . . . you get a towel!

What happens when you put in some coins? . . . . you get a $5 bill!

What happens when you spit into the machine?  Ask the front row, who were doused with a water gun!

And this is what happens when you throw a toy baby doll in the machine hidden behind the curtain! You get a live one . . . 

Who discovered a new love for all things sticky! Hey, it was her vacation too!

THAT family came home dirty, tired and committed to one another.

We even had time to be alone and reconnect! (My new favorite picture because we were on a boat, watching the sun set!  I’m telling ya’ll this camp was something else!) Notice how many times I’ve used !!! in this post?

Check out this Pine Cove button  .  If you want to experience a trip of a lifetime and grow closer to God as a family, this is for you! I don’t think I’ve ever been served in a greater capacity, laughed more or challenged greater.  We also met some amazing families. 

Make plans to link up at the Sizzlin Summer Vacation Spectacle and you’ll see what other kind of fun was had by THAT family!

P.S.  I’m happy to report that we did not make ONE visit to the ER during our week at Family Camp. We only had to seek out the camp nurse for bug bites, a blister, a sore throat and my son’s bleeding gums from the tooth he lost. We did map out the nearest major medical center, because I like to be prepared.  I’m just sayin’.

Guess Who Will Love Riding in the Car Now? $200 value

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

Okay, I’m done counting!  Whew!  Quite the workout.  The Tinkerbell Mix Max goes to D!  And the SpongeBob set goes to Shane!

Congratulations. Look for an email from me.
I don’t know how my parents did it.
Our summer vacations were dominated by road trips.  
One of my first memories is of a very long car ride to Disney World, back in the 1970’s.  It must have been in the winter because our little Ford Pinto didn’t have a heater and we kept warm with quilts. 
That worked out great until my twin sister and I decided to ‘play horsey’ with our older brother. We used his belt for the reigns.  
Around his neck.  Great fun, until he puked chocolate milk.  All over the blankets. That were keeping us warm.  My next memories are of a cold car ride to Disney World.
Because we entertained ourselves.
Not something my kids excel at on our road trips these days. We’ve got the whole audiovisual thing going on in our minivan and a plethora of travel paraphernalia. 
And I’m not about to change it. Because I like progression.
Call me a sissy.  A weenie.  Just don’t take it away. M’kay?
And because my Momma taught me to play nice and share, I want your last traveling summer getaway or trip to Wal Mart to go well.
I’m giving away TWO amazing prizes at a $100 value each!
I will choose two random winners.  One will receive a brand new Disney MixMax Video MP3 Digital Media Player.  Tinkerbell edition.  It holds 240 songs and plays 16 hours of video.  It’s rechargeable and comes with software, earbuds, and a wrist strap! Value $100. Perfect for those long car rides!
The other random winner will receive two $50 prizes, for a total value of $100.  Both of these items are brand new and made by Npower’s Nickelodeon line, Sponge Bob edition:  A digital music player (MP3) that holds 250 songs, comes with software, ear buds and is rechargeable AND a flash digital camera that holds approx. 79 photos.  It has sound effects, an LCD screen, software, adhesive skins, a wrist strap, cables and much more! Perfect for busy hands on a road trip. US shipping only.
So, leave a comment (ONE, Please) with your choice (tinkerbell or sponge bob) and you can get double entries if you add this button to your blog (because I’m not above bribery) or subscribe to my feed (let me know in your comment if you do this or already have):
Subscribe in a reader andGrab the button for your blog!

This giveaway will close on Friday morning 9 am (CST)

My Life is a Theme Night

So next week is Family Camp.

I have low expectations, for several reasons: 1. We can only go up from there;  2. We will be spending a considerable amount of time out-of-doors with the nearest major medical center miles away; and 3. We are THAT family.
Enough said about that.
Even with low expectations, we are excited about getting away and making memories.  
Every night there is a theme.  Families are to dress accordingly.  Fun, right? 
Well.  After scouring Party City, I decided we needed to do more in-depth shopping for our 60’s outfits and Fiesta wear.  
In the parking lot of the Goodwill store, I explained to my kids that we were looking for Mexican dresses (you know the touristy kind with the embroidered flowers?) and Mexican dress shirts (the kind waiters wear at my favorite restaurant).
Now, let me start by saying, I love second-hand stores.  I have found some great treasures in my day and while in Bible college, most of my clothes came from Salvation Army.  It’s in my blood and I can sniff out a great find.
My kids?  Oh, they did plenty of sniffing.  As soon as we walked in the store they gasped and covered their noses, bemoaning the smell of used items.  
I gave them the evil eye.  Like this?
Oh, did I scare you?  Good.  I do apologize.
And then my daughter said loudly, “Where are the Mexican clothes?”
Every eye was on us, including several Hispanic shoppers.
For Pete’s sake.
I whispered, “It’s a Fiesta!  We’re looking for Fiesta wear!”
We made our way around the store and my son exclaimed loudly and hurried us to the pre-worn lingerie and underwear department, saying, “I found outfits for ‘sexy night!'”
Uh, that would be sixties night.
At Family Camp. 
Because I’m pretty sure they aren’t bringing sexy back this year.
About that time, I realized our toddler was hiding behind a clothes rack and I stepped over a child’s nasty diaper laying in the middle of the aisle.
Yuck. Exactly what kind of mother . . .  uh, hang on.

Yeah. I checked under my toddler’s sun dress and stopped judging that poor mother immediately.  Because she looked strangely like me.
We scooped up the diaper and the baby, paid for our maracas and flower-print shirts and left a bewildered audience at The Goodwill Store.
Like we really need a theme.
The Talent Show
Yes, there is a talent show at Family Camp.  We have wracked our brain and decided we don’t have a family talent. (Because, no dear daughter and son, people do not want to hear us make funny noises with our hand cupped under our arms).  But we must participate, according to my kids. Or family camp won’t be any fun. No. Fun. At all.
Food for the Soul:
Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”

My Little Garden Party

Welcome to my perfectly imperfect world.  
I’m having a little garden party.  Sit back and enjoy the sweet tea, m’kay?
I do not have a green thumb.
It’s actually sorta skin-colored.
Oh, wait, yes, definitely a peachy tone.
And that’s why, my flowers look like this:
Yes, the word dead comes to mind, thank you.
I have gardening issues.
But to my defense, some of them are inherited from previous black-thumbed home owners.  We’ve lived in our house for nearly 4 years. And our backyard has been a nightmare since the day we moved in.
We’ve tried to add a few improvements here and there, but seriously, we are not skilled.  
Yeah, we did that piece of work ourselves.  Lovely path, huh?  I think the black weed guard adds a nice touch.
I mean, I can seriously match a swatch of paint color and refinish an old door, but garden?  Ahem.
And my hubby, he can tile a floor and build wooden structures, but make a plant grow?  Uh, no.
So, we left it.  But during rainy season, which is random and often, this is what our yard looks like:
That would be a flood.  Of water.  And mosquitos.  Yeah, because we are lucky like that.
And the aftermath of rain in a yard that can’t absorb it?  Every mother’s best friend:  Mud.
I grew weary of keeping mud-caked boots by the back door for my kids to play in the swamp backyard.  I got tired of drinking Off bug spray and sick of the whole muddy mess.  I knew we needed professional help.
Well, I mean, professional gardening help.
And this is what they did for us:
I know, it makes me want to break out into the Hallelujah chorus too!
I love those guys.
And I LOVE my new yard!
Too bad we live in Texas, where it is now too hot to enjoy it!  Oh, I kid.  I make the whole family play out there every day.  A little sweat never hurt anybody.
We paid for it, we’re gonna use it (said with my eye twitching and in my best Carol Burnett voice).
And now, I’d like to invite you all back here on August 29th for this:

Note to self:  Door Prizes all day long for linky participants!

Grab the button for your blog!

Sizzling Summer Vacation Spectacle Blog Carnival

Summer is just around the corner.  And I’m ready!  I can’t wait to don my swimming suit large coverup and get wet.  I’m also looking forward to our summer vacation:  7 days at Family Camp!  
I thought it would be fun to link up at the end of summer and share our Vacation adventures, blog carnival-style! Some of my best vacation memories are the unplanned, unexpected moments that had me pulling my hair out.  So, don’t be afraid to bare it all, well, keep the swim suit on, please, this is a family blog.  
If you have a 14 day World Tour planned, we want to turn green with envy.  If you aren’t planning a big vacation this summer, link up with a day trip post and pictures.  Whatever it is, share it!
Join the fun on Friday, August 29th.  (Mr. Linky will probably go up late, the night before).  
And, oh, I forgot to mention, every hour I will draw a random door prize winner from the Mr. Linky participants.  The door prizes will have a ‘vacation/travel’ theme to help you capture your memories or plan for your next trip (like a vacation journal, digital photo frame, picture frames, jewelry and more!  (If you’d like to get a little advertisement to your online store, contact me about donating a door prize.  I will link to all the donations.  Just email me if you’re interested.)