Saturday, September 30, 2017

~Fall Break This Year~

I barely have the patience for a blog post these days. 

I'm better with periodic little word vomits via instagram. 

Nevertheless, here goes.

It's no secret that fall break is my favorite and that in the last couple years, we've made a habit of getting out of town this particular week. The first six weeks of school is a near fatal shock to my system and I'm so happy to have survived it, that this week off feels like heaven. 

I've decided that while rest is a necessity, vacation certainly is not. The opportunity to vacate, whether for two days or seven, is a blessing...cream...and maybe even a little indulgent.  
{grateful}

That being said, there's something magical and miraculously rejuvenating about leaving the laundry, the yard, the emails, the closet that needs to be organized, the schedule, and the practices, so that your little nucleus...your little band of people that sometimes get on your last nerve, can go away together and cram into a little place somewhere and be your happy, dis-functional selves somewhere else. 
I also, don't think it really matters where or how far you go...it's sure to be crazy and most likely fun in some degree. 

We scooted over just past Charleston, South Carolina, a stones throw from Mt. Pleasant, to Isle of Palms. 

It took us nearly  six hours because my kids have stomachs and bladders which really cramp my, "let's drive straight and never stop" style, but whatever. Why can't we wait to eat and urinate when we get there?!

So, in bullet points, here are the "big ideas":

  • Something I have carried over from my parents and our own long ago family vacations, is the idea that on vacation, Brad and I do our best to consider each child's likes and desires, and do our utmost to hit "their 10". Jake likes history and all things war related, so we visited Patriot's Point to explore an aircraft carrier, battleship, submarine, etc. Reese and Avery each wanted to body surf at high tide, so we made a point to do that several times, Emma wanted to find shells, go to the pool, and eat ice-cream, so those things were wins for her. It really isn't hard and it's a great way to pour out a little specialized love to each kiddo. All that to say, I vividly remember how special it was for me, when on our annual vacation, we always did a horse trail ride, and I knew that it was primarily for me. <--that stuff means a LOT to us middle kids.
  • above was a LONG bullet point. sorry.
  • If you ever have the chance to hop over to the coast of South Carolina, if you appreciate history AT ALL, and if your kids are above the age of 6ish...maybe 7, do these things:
  • Take a MORNING 2 hour walking history tour with Charleston Sole Walking. For heaven's sake, don't go at 2:00 in the afternoon...you're sure to die of heat exhaustion. You will see buildings George Washington stood in, cobblestone streets that date back to the 1600's, church steeples that served as look outs during the revolutionary and civil war, the sea where Blackbeard ransacked ships for a week or more, Rainbow Row, Live Oaks that are 200+ years old (which means they are toddlers), and Sweet Grass Basket weavers at every turn. Not to mention, you can visit multiple filming locations from The Notebook. {I swoon}
  • Visit Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant. DO NOT LEAVE without listening to the 30 minute or so presentation on the Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor. I've seen it twice now, it makes me tear up every time, and is my favorite thing. This year, our historian was a woman. Her face was beautiful, her voice was strong, her knowledge more extensive than my own, her humor endearing, and her message life changing. We got to witness present day crop rotation on our wagon ride through the plantation....which, to my knowledge, is accredited to the brilliant George Washington Carver. If you don't know his story, you must. Buy A Pocketful of Goobers and read it to your kids. You'll learn as much as they will. What a man. 
  • GO TO PATRIOT'S POINT. If your heart doesn't swell a little, then I don't know what to tell you. Every single man that served on that ship, and many more like it, did so for the single cause of defending the freedom you enjoy today. Be grateful. 
  • Eat seafood everywhere you go. Have the TellTale burger at Poe's. Get used to sweating. Look for shells at low tide. Watch the sunrise over the water. 
  • If your little-ish kid tells you they need to go to the bathroom, just believe them and take them.
  • Never eat more than one meal out on any given day. That is a sure fire way to break the bank. Pop tarts, eggs, or toast for breakfast, sandwiches and salads for lunch or dinner, and one meal out, tops. 
  • Don't be glued to your phone. Breathe, look around you, slow down. Be AWAY. vacate. If you hate history, want to stay up till midnight, sleep till 10, eat out 3x a day, and read a book, do it. Whatever you do, do you. I love the unique quirkiness of people. Thank the Lord we aren't all alike.

Okay, here are a few iPhone pictures...because along with history and old streets, pictures are my 10. 
























my computer makes me angry...it's either too old or over full so I can't upload or at least find the rest of my phone pics so these will have to do for now. 
{insert mad face, eye roll face, tongue out face, and fist}


~stacey







Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Broken Me and Ireland (totally unrelated topics)

i am a bit of a broken record these days...i just say the same thing over and over...hoping it's focus and not senility setting in.

my theme this year has been "less is more"

and it's not like I'm consciously thinking, Stacey, do less, be less, have less. 

i just honestly find myself wanting less rather than more.


i shop less
buy less
care less about frivolities
write less
take fewer pictures, even
worry less


maybe it's a bonus of being 40ish.
i don't know but
these are the "mores" of my life of late:

the people immediately around me mean more to me than ever before. i can't believe that i have friends that i consider family. it's a perk i never counted on or expected.

i'm more grateful for Brad than I ever have been

i trust more that God's hand is in and over my life no matter the circumstance

i think my kids are more awesome than is even right. 
i love them more every day.

i am more aware of the fact that people are quick to make judgements on
degrees of sin and sinners,
and love to subconsciously measure the distance of exactly how far fallen from grace various people are based upon the offense.

over the last few months, i've been face to face with some exceptionally needy women.
addicts, victims, prostitutes, thieves, con artists, all the above.

one particular night, as i sat across from a gal...once a beautiful, vivacious, young woman, now with  evidence of extensive drug use up and down both arms, her eyes dark as night, tears falling uncontrollably from the years of abuse, mistreatment, and bad choices, all i could see were the words:

BROKEN and USED UP

i'm so past caring about
who did what first
who's fault it is
why people get stuck in such horrid places
can they change their life trajectory
and even
will they ever get better

because....all i see is

BROKEN and USED UP

being near broken people reminds me how broken I am without the grace of Jesus.

i don't have answers for why i was born into the family i was and why this girl was born into complete hell on earth.

i just know that if i've sinned once, and she 1,000 times, we are both in equal need of a Savior.

1 sin separates you from God in the same way that 1,000 would.

i asked the Lord on behalf of this young woman, out of sheer mercy, to help her find Him before she breathes her last breath on this earth.
whether she ever cleans up her act or continues a lifetime of self-destruction, that God would make a way for her to spend eternity with Him. 
it would be sweet redemption.
if the thief on the cross can find salvation in the last moment, then that is my hope for her.

the offer of salvation is GOOD NEWS and something you can hang your hat on.

this was SO not what i was intending to write but i've gone and done it now.
so the point is...
don't get on a high horse.
be quick to love
quick to forgive
quick to admit wrong
quick to stand strong on the truth of God's Word
quick to pray for humility
and quick to look for chances to express God's love to needy people.


********************************************************************


my Brad took me to Ireland to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. I can't believe I've spent over half my life with him. it's crazy and i feel so fortunate to be partnered up with him.

people have asked me, "so why Ireland?"

my answer is

because they speak English
there is more natural beauty than city madness
it's only an 8 hour flight
i love old structures
it's not a volatile place
my maiden name is Fitzgerald
and it just seems magical (and i can say to you now it absolutely is)


let me just tell you, it was unreal in so many ways.

i can't even explain how good the food was.

we drank coffee every morning and it was always served in a cup with a saucer.
and all but twice, it was mismatched china. 
it was the quaintest thing you've ever seen.

the country side was breathtaking, the people kind, and the speed of life noticeably slower.

we got off the beaten path, drove on impossibly narrow roads, ate in spots where we were the only non-Irish customers, and learned first hand how what we call old here, is relatively new there. 



























  
















i loved 
the painted sheep
the older men who dress just like you imagine they would...tweed hats, sweaters and slacks. 
the roads with no divider lines
the time with brad
the tinkering of cups and saucers
NOT being on a tour bus ( i couldn't deal with the claustrophobia it would cause me)
the thick accent that i had to strain 
to understand in some cases
all of it. 

thank you, bradford...i love you.
happy 20 years to us. 
i'm fortunate to have you.

~stacey













Tuesday, December 27, 2016

~Aim Small Miss Small~

I'm sitting here at 7:00 in the morning, enjoying the peace and calm that Christmas break affords me.
Kids are sleeping and Brad just left...full day of surgery. He also, as of a few minutes ago, is OFF CALL. ...always a good thing.

I'm sitting here with my coffee, mulling over New Year's Resolutions. Historically, I have had a love/hate relationship with resolutions aligned with a certain day of the year.

The love part is that I'm a firm believer in
fresh starts
new beginnings
and the idea of "keep on keepin' on."

The hate part is that I have this weird fear of commitment combined with a deep rooted loathing of failure. <--See what I mean? It's a bit of a conundrum for me.

That being said, I've got a few things I want to work on,
some new points of focus
some things I want more of
some things I want less of

So...I've decided that 2017 and I are going to have some new agreements, a couple fresh goals.















One of the reasons I love a picture is because it freezes a moment.

It allows me time to memorize expressions, to actually feel the warmth in an ordinary moment.

Ordinary where it's at.

It's not glamorous but it's where the real you is revealed, exposed, and uncovered. Behind closed doors, with your family, with "nobody"watching, that's the real you.

That truth can be exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time, right?

I love it.

"Aim small, miss small."

This is something I've been pondering for a few months.

Something the Lord's been branding on my heart.

The more finely tuned I'm focused, the less likely I am to miss.

The circle of things that really matter to me continues to get smaller and smaller.
There is such freedom and simplicity that comes with
releasing things that aren't important,
eliminating distractions,
and being all in right where you are.

So wherever you find yourself, be all there. Doesn't get any better.
~stacey



Thursday, October 13, 2016

~TurksRecap~

I am chronically behind these days.
("behind" as in not caught up. I am not a chronic "behind" in the noun sense of the word.....at least I hope not..maybe I should ask my family to be sure) :-)


Lately I've felt like every waking hour is spent moving, teaching, emailing, working, thinking, doing...to the point of feeling like I'm accidentally missing parts of life in all the madness.

So. I've become more conscious of stopping for short little bursts throughout the day.

Taking the time to
look at the sky,
to water my mums a little slower,
to watch my kids.
Avery, Emma, and I ate our lunch on the side stoop Wednesday and walked around the neighborhood without.....
wait for it.....
WITHOUT my phone.
You heard it here first. I left my phone on the counter for a 30 minute walk out in the wild.
Though I did text Brad where I was going in the off-chance that someone kidnapped us or we succumbed to a wild dog. It was freeing and not at all dangerous.

Blogging has been an outlet for me, a place to get things off my chest, and a way to record a little of our life for the last 8 years or so. But...as this season would have it, I find myself at my computer less and less.

I have had books made out of a years worth of posts, but guess what?!
I'm like four years behind. Shocking, I know. Will get around to it. maybe.

So, here I am, about to recap our recent family trip to the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands.

Emma kept saying we were going to England.
TCI being an English territory (God save the queen) was apparently very confusing for her.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I learned a few things.


-) Sometimes last minute plans are the very best plans.

-) A beach trip is the most...and possibly the only truly restful vacation there is.
you go
you sit
you read
you eat
you sit
you sleep
you swim
you smile
you eat
(unless you have little bitty ones, then everything is work no matter where you are...which is why when mine were little bitty, I happily stayed home...no trip could tempt me)


-) An all inclusive ( at least at Beaches Turks and Caicos) is pretty awesome. It exceeded my expectations in every possible way.
Being there in the off season definitely helped....the Walls don't care for crowds, so getting there only to find out that we were there at a time that the resort was only about 25% occupied was an unexpected bonus.


-) The people there who took care of us (mostly Islanders, Jamaicans, and Haitians) were incredible.
Lifeguards sang as they walked,
our server at Kimonos danced to the songs the chefs sang
"Roof", the chef at Neptunes, laughed with us as he prepared the best swordfish I've ever eaten
Malissa and I are now facebook friends. She's 17, is absolutely beautiful, smart, and attentive
The jovial security officer insisted that the girls sit on his four wheeler
The scuba instructor was built like Mr. Incredible
Their smiles were easy and I would like to go back just to people watch

Everyone there made us feel like we were at home. I don't know how they did it.

-) Almost 15 year old boys think they are big enough to just take off whenever they get the notion to, and roam the place like they owned it. They don't care if they miss all the photo ops, they prefer it that way, actually. I got to practice letting go a little. ...definitely was a learning experience.

-) Not having to carry beach towels was huge....considering that we used 5, 287 while we were there.

-) I saw a Mom in a pool chair, completely lost in her phone for at least 15 minutes.
Her little ones came up to her twice, and she barely looked up.
Her husband came over with a gentle appeal, "Honey, you've been on that phone forever."
She was a little disgusted as she put it away with a huff.
"I was just reading!" she said.

***DON'T BE THAT PERSON. ***
Whatever you are "reading" is so not worth it and you miss so much.

-) I could've left my big camera at home. I think I used it twice.
Make allowance for some sort of portable, quick, easy, waterproof way to take pictures if you are headed to a water-full getaway. Sometimes blurry 12 megapixels instead of "perfect" 18 megapixels is a better way to document a trip.

-) Snorkeling makes me sea sick. Can you believe that?! I tried for five minutes, thought I was going to loose my lunch, so I headed back to the boat to wait with the big islanders who were keeping an eye on the snorkelers.
Pathetic but true.

-) Wearing Orphan Aid Liberia shirts are great conversation starters. We had no less than 12 people ask us about them. One guy was from Liberia...so cool.
Spreading some LOVE. was fun.

-) Apparently diving is peaceful.
I wouldn't know because I didn't do it.
Jake and Brad are fans, though.

-) Reese had an orthodontic appliance malfunction that resulted in a HUGE ulcer and swollen cheek. Dr. Cline and his staff are awesome. We face timed and they walked Brad through how to fix it. Being in need of medical care and NOT being in the States is an unnerving situation.
We were able to scrounge up some Orajel and she was better in no time flat.
This was one thankful Mama.

-) I was under the impression that hurricanes never hit the Caribbean.
Yeah, well apparently, that's not true.
Was happy to be there and back before Matthew showed up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
































































video


...and as I sit here, cozy in my bed, listening to Brad go over physical science with my 9th grader in the kitchen... 
I am SO incredibly thankful I married a math/science guy.
because otherwise, my kids would be hosed in this department.
Thank you, Bradford.

~stacey