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Name: Lauren         Location: Middle Tennessee, USA

Welcome to my blog! I am a Christian, wife, and mother who enjoys reading, running, and all things Disney. Stop by regularly for a glimpse into my life!
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Monday, August 27, 2012
First Day of School
After we returned home from vacation, we had less than two weeks until the start of school.  We crammed in a few more trips to the pool, playdates with friends, and a movie in that small amount of time, and Andrew and Emily got to visit Fall Creek Falls State Park with Grammy and Papa as well (I wish I could have gone with them, but I was working our school's supply sale).

Too quickly, the first day arrived.  Before heading to school, we stopped for the annual photo with our beloved neighbors.  Unfortunately, the kids keep growing, and we've lost two girls to middle school.  They left for school an hour earlier, so they weren't around for our photo. 


To give you a comparison, this is the first shot taken four years ago!


Emily is very excited about her second grade teacher.  Mrs. R was Andrew's teacher three years ago, so we already know how wonderful she is.


Andrew is now at top of the elementary school food chain.  He has a very sweet fifth grade teacher, and I think his final year will be a great one. This will be my last year taking his picture with his teacher on the first day.  I promised him I won't walk into middle school with him. :)


The first day of school was a half-day, so we spent the afternoon at Nashville Shores (a water park) pretending it was still summer.  It was fun for all!

Several weeks later, we are fully into the swing of things at school.  It is still hot outside, but summer break is a distant memory!

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  posted at 4:37 PM  
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Friday, August 24, 2012
Summer Vacation, The Final Chapter
On Thursday, we left Flagstaff and headed to Phoenix.  On the way, we stopped at Montezuma Castle, a National Park that highlights a cliff-dwelling. This was a nice stop during our drive to Phoenix--fascinating to think about the people who once lived in these rocks!


We got back on the road for Phoenix, and we were all very excited when we started to see Saguaro cactii along the side of the road.  The kids had been looking for them all over Arizona, but you don't see them in northern part of the state.

 
Our next stop was a stadium tour at the University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play (NFL team--not college as the name of the stadium would suggest).  The stadium is supposed to look like a snake (with a cardinal's head) wrapped around something (I don't remember what).
 


As we walked in, Andrew enjoyed checking out the Hall of Fame.


The coolest thing about this stadium was the grass.  This is a dome, but they have real grass.  They roll the grass outside on metal tracks for sun and water, and then they roll it back in for the games.  Very neat.


We didn't get to visit the Cardinals' locker room, and the visitors' locker room wasn't anything exciting.

The one exception was that Andrew stood in the locker that Eli Manning used in his first Super Bowl victory.


He also liked the view from the press box.


On Thursday evening, we went to Chase Field to see a Diamondbacks game.  This stadium has a retractable roof, so we enjoyed watching a game on real grass with the roof closed.  Considering the fact that it was 108 degrees outside, the air conditioning was a welcome part of this experience!


Emily didn't care too much about the game, but she did like the gecko.

 
And the snow cones...
 


Both kids were happy to get rally towels.


And both kids wished we could watch the game from the seats in the pool...


Adam and Andrew were happy to check another stadium off their list!


The game started around 7:00.  With the two hour time difference, Emily was really ready for bed by the time the game was over!


Look who we ran into on the way out of the stadium!

 
On Friday morning, we headed to the airport to return home. We weren't ready for our trip to come to an end, but we were glad to get home to Oreo.
 
Coming soon...I'll try to finish catching up with posts about the end of summer and start of school!

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  posted at 5:25 PM  
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Summer Vacation, Part Three
On Wednesday, we woke up ready to head to the Grand Canyon.  It took a little over an hour to get there, but it was such a beautiful day that we didn't mind the drive.


We entered the park from the east side, which is less crowded.  This entrance is further from the Visitor Center, but it allows the opportunity to make several stops on Desert View Drive before meeting up with all the summer crowds. Our first stop was at the watchtower.  The kids were excited to go to the top and get their first views of the canyon.  Before we left Tennessee, Emily asked if the hole in the ground was going to be big.  Now she could see that yes, it is really big!

Desert Watchtower

Yes, it is a VERY big hole!

Along Desert View Drive, there are several overlooks.  We randomly selected one, called Grandview Point.  It was a grand view!


Little Girl, Big World

After Grandview Point, we headed to the Visitors Center where we parked and rode the shuttle to Canyon Village. Before lunch, we decided to hike a short way down the Bright Angel Trail.



We knew we wanted to do the South Kaibab trail after lunch, so we only hiked down for about 20 minutes.  Of course, once you go down, you have to go up!  Our plan of action was to walk up for five minutes and rest for two.  This worked very well, and the kids were troopers.


Throughout the day, I found several interesting signs.  I was surprised to find many Bible verses displayed throughout the parks.  Of course, I was thrilled to see them, but surprised that their presence hasn't been attacked by some groups.  For me, they just reinforced the thoughts I experienced as I considered God's handiwork!


I also found a sign in the bathroom. This one didn't seem very necessary. (It says: CAUTION,  Reclaimed Water, Do Not Drink)


After a light lunch at the Bright Angel Fountain, we boarded another bus for the South Kaibab Trail.  Again, going down was smooth sailing.


After hiking down for .9 of a mile, we reached Ooh Aah Point.  Breathtaking.




Then, we had to go back up!  It was very tiring, but we made it to the top.  After this hike, we called it a day and headed back to Flagstaff, worn out but thankful for the chance to enjoy God's beautiful creation!


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  posted at 5:56 PM  
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Monday, August 20, 2012
Summer Vacation, Part Two
After driving from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, Arizona on Monday afternoon, we woke up on Tuesday ready for the Grand Canyon. We changed our plans, however, because there was a 60 percent chance of rain.  So, we changed gears and headed to Sedona instead.  The drive from Flagstaff to Sedona was amazing.  There is a drop in altitude of several thousand feet, and as we drove down the mountains on highway 89A, the beauty was stunning.  Of course, the hairpin turns on the mountain roads also led to a few nauseous stomachs, so we were happy to arrive at Cathedral Rock in Sedona for a morning hike.

We were so fortunate with the temperatures!  It was in the low 80's, which is about 15 degrees cooler than normal.  Although we still worked up a sweat on our hikes, it was much more pleasant than we expected in late July.  As we pulled into the parking lot at Cathedral Rock, both kids looked up and said, "We can't climb that!" We assured them that they could, and we started up.  This turned out to be their favorite activity of the entire trip! It was more like bouldering than hiking, and the kids loved climbing.  Even though it was strenuous at times, they toughed it out and made it to the top.  It really struck me during this vacation how much they have grown up.  Although it makes me sad that time is passing so quickly, it was wonderful that we could just go and enjoy without huge bags, strollers, and all the other necessities that young children require.  I wish we could freeze time at this stage before we get to the serious issues of the teenage years! 

Family Photo before Heading Up

Ready for the Climb

Going up with a smile.

My Boys

The view from the top was stunning.

Fun with the Camera

Enjoying the View

Heading Back Down

After leaving Cathedral Rock, we were ready for lunch.  We wanted some pizza, so I used my iPhone to find something.  We were surprised when we pulled into a hole-in-the wall place called Moon Dogs.  We almost left, but the pizza turned out to be good, so we were glad we stuck it out!


Our next stop was Slide Rock State Park.  Our friends had enjoyed this park the year before, so we were very excited to check it out.  There is a natural water slide and swimming hole, so the kids changed into their suits.  Unfortunately, as we pulled in, so did the storm clouds.  It ended up raining all afternoon.


We stuck it out for a little over an hour, and then there was a break in the storms.  Even though it was still drizzling, we headed to the slide because we didn't want the kids to miss out completely.  What we didn't expect was that the rain had turned the fun water slide into a raging flow of water.  Each kid took one turn and decided that was enough.  They were struggling to stay above the rapids, and none of us felt very comfortable with that.

Andrew barely kept his head above the water.

Emily got pulled under more than once.

Even with the rain, we enjoyed our day in Sedona. After heading back up the mountains into Flagstaff, we were shocked by the 59 degree temperatures. We weren't prepared for that in July! After a family dinner at Chili's, we headed back to the hotel, found some blankets, and curled up to watch some television.

Coming Up...The Grand Canyon

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  posted at 12:51 PM  
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Friday, August 17, 2012
Summer Vacation, Part One
We had an amazing vacation at the end of July. The first portion of our trip was to visit my brother Ryan and his family. We flew out of Nashville on a Friday afternoon and landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico at 5:45.  Ryan picked us up at the airport, and we headed to Chick-fil-a to meet Aunt Rucha, Matt, Carly Ann, and Will. The kids were so excited to see each other!

Emily greeted Will with a big hug.
Emily and Matthew were excited to see the cow.
Carly Ann is not a fan of the cow, so she sat with Mom until he went away.
Happy Cousins

On Saturday morning, Uncle Ryan made pancakes. Then, we filled the day with all kinds of fun.

Yum!
Andrew and Carly Ann enjoyed the trampoline.
Matthew was ready to swim!
Emily braved the high dive.
Andrew and Uncle Ryan relaxed together for a bit.
Hanging out at home.
Aunt Rucha had cookie decorating goodies!
Andrew gave baseball lessons.

On Sunday, we went to church together, spent the afternoon playing, ate dinner at Jason's deli, and then made S'mores on the patio.

Emily learned that you shouldn't touch a cactus.
iPhone Fun
I let Will have a sucker when he woke up from his nap.  Aunts get to do things like that.
Uncle Adam made friends with Gromit.  Having him around made us miss Oreo.
Making S'mores
Love this sweet boy!

Tucking Will into Bed

We stayed until mid-day Monday and then loaded up a rental to head to Arizona.  It was a wonderful weekend and a great start to our trip!


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  posted at 5:23 PM  
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Previous Posts
  • A Disney December, The Final Chapter
  • A Disney December, Part Five
  • A Disney December, Part Four
  • A Disney December, Part Three
  • A Disney December, Part Two
  • A Disney December, Part One
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