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Weekly Photo Challenge (A Week Belated): On Top

27 Apr

Last weeks weekly photo challenge was to share a photo that says “On Top.”  I know that I usually share photos of my kids and things that are going on in my life at the moment, but as soon as I saw this challenge I knew what picture I wanted to share.  The reason I am a week late is because the picture was taken over 6 years ago, and it took me awhile to find where I had stored it.

Jason took this picture of me in 2008 when we traveled to Italy.  We rode the train from Rome into the mountains to a smaller town called Orvieto, and spent the day walking around exploring.  It was a really great day for us.

We thought it would be fun to climb to the top of this really old bell tower.  It was TONS of steps to make it to the top, and we had already spent almost the entire day walking, so it seemed like we would never make it, but we did and it was totally worth it so see this ancient town from up high.

Here’s the picture that I have always loved so much.  I don’t know why I like it so much, but I do!



While we were up there, the bell actually began to ring, and it was deafening!

Here’s another picture of the actual view from the top:



Jason and I have seen lots of views from the top of different places all over the world, but I will always remember this as one of my favorites!


Monday Praises Link-Up: Thanks to the Lord for Rest!

2 Sep

It’s time for our Monday Praises Link-up!  Many thanks to for hosting!


I have been relating to this cartoon a little bit lately:


Having a 2 and 4 year-old is hard work.  So is being a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a church member, and the list goes on and on and on.  I get tired sometimes!

So today I am going to praise the Lord for a much-needed, much-deserved vacation with my family!  Whew, it is easy to get caught up in the business of life, isn’t it?  I have definitely been leading more of a Martha, instead of Mary, life.

As I am writing this post, I am sitting in my bed in Bonlee after a long day of cleaning and packing and child-rearing, but as you are reading it, I will have this view in front of me:

This pic is from our last beach trip-my toes are now neon orange!

This pic is from our last beach trip-my toes are now neon orange!

I am taking this vacation so seriously that I am packing no computer or Kindle, and I hope to go days without my phone!  It will be awesome!

Read these words of Jesus himself:

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.” For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Mark 6:31

God means for us to take some time to rest, to reflect, and to spend some time with Him.  I can just imagine him sitting in Heaven waiting to hear from me!  He created us to spend time with him, after all. He doesn’t want us to be lazy, but He also wants us to rest and restore our bodies and our minds.

I want to thank God today for giving us the means to take a vacation, to rest our bodies and restore our souls.  I thank Him for a wonderful family who we get to spend time with and enjoy on our vacation.  I thank Him for giving me permission to rest from the world for a few days.

*Hopefully I can link-up to Monday Praises from my phone!  If not, I will link-up when we get home.


Some New Creations…

29 Aug

Casey, Julie, and I have kind of been on the fence as to whether or not we want to continue with our Mommy in Bonlee business this holiday season.  We have taken the summer off and are feeling re-energized now, so have decided to make a few things for the fall and Halloween season.

I spent all day yesterday making some wreaths, and I must say I really enjoyed myself!  I really like making them, and love seeing them on my door (and other people’s doors) even more!

I love this one for fall, and it looks great on my red front door:


I really like this one for football season.  Go pirates!


Casey is busy with some tutus for Halloween, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.  I think a mummy costume is in the works!

If you are interested in seeing more of our creations or buying anything, just click the Facebook link on the right.  You can order through that page, or you can click on the link to our Storenvy shop and order that way.

I need to get focused now on packing for our Labor Day beach trip-so excited that we are staying at a hotel and someone else will be vacuuming and cooking and making our bed!

Have a great day, everyone!

Some Funny Vacation Pics

30 Jun

I was just going through some of our vacation pics and found a few terrible pictures of the kids caught mid-whine or mid-cry.  Looking back on the pictures now, they are hilarious.  Probably at the time, though, it wasn’t!

I am sorry to say this is a common expression for Maddie!  It really makes me second-guess myself!

I am sorry to say this is a common expression for Maddie! It really makes me second-guess myself!

What I love here is Emma's expression.

What I love here is Emma’s expression.

Poor Charlie (with sarcasm).

Poor Charlie (with sarcasm).

Classic Madster

Classic Madster

Pitiful Emma.  Maddie is teaching her everything she knows!

Pitiful Emma. Maddie is teaching her everything she knows!

I hope you all get a laugh from these this evening!

A Vacation from my Vacation

29 Jun

Whew!  We made it home from the beach, and man do I need a vacation!  Being at the beach for a week with the family is wonderful, but it is hard work for the mommies involved.  Thank goodness Mama and Casey were there to share in the burden!

I know Jason is exhausted.  He hauled all of our things back and forth from the beach every day and afternoon with hardly any help, not to mention all of the time he spent trying to catch some fish for our dinner.  He is snoring on the couch as I type this up!

While I, of course, love being on vacation, I really love coming home from vacation.  I enjoy our home and my bed and our pets. It is always fun this time of year to return home and see how our garden and flowers have grown.

I spent some time cutting flowers from my cutting garden where I have zinnias, cosmos, mexican sunflowers, and some other random wildflowers growing.  I also was happy to see that all of my hydrangeas are blooming.  They range in color from bright pink to dark purple to a really bright, almost electric blue.  I cut a bunch of the blue for my bedroom.

I love hydrangeas!

I love hydrangeas!

I am going to definitely have to do some work in our garden this week, but it is totally worth it.  Our squash has finally begun to come in so we had some to pick when we got home today.

I went to Mama’s to help her pick green beans, and also lucked out and got some tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots!


Charlie and I snapped the beans while he watched his Superman cartoon tonight, and I can’t wait to cook them tomorrow!

We had a wonderful vacation, but I am glad to be home so I can get some rest!


Fun Things for Kids on the Beach

27 Jun

Tomorrow is our last full day of vacation!  As usual, time has just flown by.  We have been having a great time, but like any mother on vacation, I feel like I am going to need a vacation to recover from this vacation!

Last week as I was preparing for our beach trip, I spent a little time on Pinterest looking for some new ideas of things to bring to the beach for the kids to play with during our long days on the beach.  I was a little disappointed that every article said basically the same things:  buckets and shovels with a reminder to take plenty of juice so the kids stay hydrated.  Duh!

We take long beach trips since houses on the coast rent for a week at a time during the summer season.  We usually spend all day on the beach, so we need lots of things for the kids to do.

The beach in itself is its own entertainment.  You can jump in the waves, hunt for shells and sharks teeth (which have been in abundance in front of our house), dig holes, and build sandcastles.  However, with a 1-year old, 2-year old, 4-year old, and 2 11-year olds, you need to have a wide variety of entertainment options available to keep whining and complaining to a minimum.

Here are a few things we bring along to the beach to make our trip a little more enjoyable:

1.  A five-gallon bucket.  Sure, it is nice to have some smaller buckets for sand castles, but the bigger buckets are like little swimming pools for children.  You can dig them into piles of sand to make them secure, fill them with water, and the kids have a place to lounge when they get hot or to wash off their hands if they need to.  We actually brought 2 this time!


2.  Different sizes of shovels.  This is really important for digging huge holes and tunnels in the sand.  This year, Jason even brought our huge garden shovel, and it has been a lifesaver!  If all you have are the little plastic shovels, you won’t be able to do too much digging, and the bigger the hole the better!  The kids spend hours playing in these holes, and you can actually SIT at the edge of the hole.

3. A tarp or some sort of plastic sheeting.  I know this sounds crazy, but with this simple thing you can make an oceanfront pool!  Dig a hole, line it with the tarp, and fill it up with water!  If you have very small kids and don’t want them right at the water’s edge, this is great for them to have to play in! If you wanted to get really fancy, you could bring a little kiddie pool and take it on the beach.

4. Little fishing poles.  You can buy these for just a few dollars and the kids love “fishing” in the surf with them.  Of course, you don’t really put a hook on the line!


5. Toy dump trucks, tractors, and bulldozers.  I didn’t get a pic of this, but it’s fun to move the sand around on the beach with these.

I know it will take up a little extra space in the car to drag all of these things to the beach, but if you’re getting a house for a week like us, it is totally worth it!




Our Winter Getaway

4 Mar

Whew, life has been busy for us lately!  Between Jason’s work, turning over the duplex, family obligations, and many, many other things, I have been feeling like our little family has just not been quite together.  I decided a few weeks ago that we needed to get away for a quick weekend at the beach to just enjoy each other without all of the distractions of everyday life.  Since it is still technically winter and pretty cold, I found a great resort at Myrtle Beach that features 2 indoor water parks.  While it was a little strange for us to be at the beach this time of year, we had an absolutely wonderful weekend!


Charlie and Maddie were so excited!  We have been telling them for a couple of weeks that were were going to the beach, so they were happy that the day had finally arrived.

Charlie and Maddie were so excited! We have been telling them for a couple of weeks that were were going to the beach, so they were happy that the day had finally arrived.

It was cold but still sunny and gorgeous.  We were very cold running back and forth between the two water parks!  Luckily, all of the water was heated.

It was cold but still sunny and gorgeous. We were very cold running back and forth between the two water parks! Luckily, all of the water was heated.

There were tons of birds on the beach and floating in the water.

There were tons of birds on the beach and floating in the water.

Jason and Maddie-Jason is always so photogenic.

Jason and Maddie-Jason is always so photogenic.

We went to Broadway at the Beach Saturday night and had dinner at the Key West Grill.  There were pirates everywhere so Charlie loved it!

We went to Broadway at the Beach Saturday night and had dinner at the Key West Grill. There were pirates everywhere so Charlie loved it!

After playing at the water parks all day on Saturday, we went to Broadway at the Beach for an early dinner.  We had a wonderful meal at the Key West Grill.  Because of the time of year and the odd hour that we were eating, we were almost alone in the restaurant!  For anyone who has been out to dinner with a 2-year old and a 3-year old, you will understand that this was ideal.  My only regret is that I ordered a cup instead of a bowl of she-crab soup.  It was so good and Maddie ate half of mine!

Feeding the fish and ducks.

Feeding the fish and ducks.

Maddie was afraid of all of the seagulls that were walking around us. She refused to walk by them, so Charlie scared them all off.

Maddie was afraid of all of the seagulls that were walking around us. She refused to walk by them, so Charlie scared them all off.


Charlie on a T-Rex.

Charlie on a T-Rex.

Riding the cars at the "Pavilion."

Riding the cars at the “Pavilion.”

A few of the rides from the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion have been moved here.  Charlie and Maddie loved riding the cars.  Jason and I kept telling the kids, “When we were little the Pavilion…….” and finally it hit us that we were old!  Myrtle Beach has changed a lot since were were little kids.

Charlie in his new bed that Jason created for him.

Charlie in his new bed that Jason created for him.

We had such a great time this weekend.  I started to get the after-vacation blues when we got home today, then realized that I don’t technically have to go to work tomorrow and I got over it!  I am so blessed to have the husband and kids that I do, and we live a really great life.  I am so thankful for that.  Sometimes it just takes a weekend to get over life!











Beach Bums

21 Aug

 Here we go for Summer Update #2!  I decided to dedicate this one to vacations that we have taken over the past couple of months.  We spent the first week in June at Atlantic Beach.  Usually we go with Jason’s side of the family to Myrtle Beach, but decided to switch it up this year and stick to NC beaches.  We really love Myrtle Beach since that is the beach that we all grew up going to, but it has become very crowded and commercialized.  One thing I love about North Carolina beaches is that you really feel like you are at the beach!   The little restaurants in shacks and lack of Wings and Eagles really appeal to me.  Plus, Jason and Alvin loved fishing on the beach (even though they caught nothing but sharks-made me stay out of the water:)).  The kids are old enough now to stay out on the beach all day without any problems. 

I came to terms with the fact that I just am not going to get to relax on the beach with a good book at this time in my life!  It was a constant job to keep Maddie from drowning herself in the ocean.  If I looked in the other direction she would take off like a rocket towards the waves.  It was exhausting!

One thing we LOVED doing on a rainy day was visiting the aquarium. 

Me, Maddie, Charlie, and Aunt Jill checking out the shark tank.

Jill, Sandra, Charlie, Maddie, and Jason petting an alligator!

The first week of July we went to Amelia Island off the coast of Florida.  It was wonderful!  We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton and by the end of that trip I was so relaxed I could barely move!  Fernandina Beach is a wonderful little town and the hotel is known for catering to children.  Everyone had a great time.  There were wonderful tidal pools on the beach, so that helped with Maddie’s tendency to run into the ocean quite a bit.  Another thing that helped a lot is that Charlie took swimming lessons the week before this trip, so with a puddle jumper on he was safe in the swimming pools.  He had a great time with Sam and Aaron.

Charlie got to sleep in a bed with me and Jason, which was a little treat for all of us since we don’t do that at home.  Luckily we had a king size bed!  Also during this trip we got to introduce Charlie and Maddie to what I consider to be one of life’s greatest pleasures-room service.  They loved sitting on the floor eating pancakes and bacon,and I loved not having to cook those pancakes and bacon.  I loved that so much. We had such a great time that we decided to stay an extra night!


Summer is almost over, but we do have one more beach trip planned for the first week of September.  Can’t wait!!!



Summer Update

7 Aug

Wow, this summer is flying by!  We are having a great time so far.  Charlie is 3, yes 3!  Just saying that I have a 3-year old sounds strange to me.  He had a fire truck birthday party, which turned into a naked fireman party by the end.  We had a blast, and Charlie got his first bike!


On Charlie’s actual birthday, May 20th, we went with our church youth group to the Aloha Safari Zoo, a zoo in Sanford that rescues exotic animals.  It was so cool.  Charlie and Maddie got to feed and pet a giraffe, and we rode on a “safari” (really a few trailors being pulled by a tractor) on a path through fields of zebras, llamas, camels, pigs, peacocks, and lots of other animals that I can’t remember.  There was a pit full of alligators (I’m sure I wasn’t the only mother who played through an entire scene in her mind of her children falling into that pit.) and turtles who educated our innocent youth group about turtle mating habits.




In all seriousness, this was an excellent hands-on experience that you couldn’t have at any large state zoo, so check out their website.




Vacation, Or Business Trip?

22 Jul

It has been a week since we returned from our family vacation to the beach for the 4th of July, and I finally feel able to relive it.  I have spent the past week doing laundry, wrestling the kids back into their schedules, and eating salads to lose the weight I gained snacking all day long. 

The thing that I have discovered about vacationing with my children is that it really isn’t a vacation for me at all.  You see, when a stay at home mom takes her children on vacation, she is technically just taking her work with her.  There are still mouths to feed, diapers to change, naps to take, discipline to dole out, and the added stress of sunburn, sand in the sheets, and a huge ocean just waiting to drown an unsuspecting 2-year old. What kind of vacation is this, exactly?

Not to say I didn’t have a few hours of relaxation (thank you, Gramma), but I can see that the days of lounging by the pool with my ipod and a good book are over, for now at least.  I managed to take the kids out on the beach for a couple of hours each morning, where Charlie dug holes in the sand, built sandcastles with his dad and Aunt Jill, and after a few timid days raced towards the ocean like a madman. Maddie and I sat under the tent playing for as long as she would tolerate the sand and wind.  After lunch and naps we returned to the beach for a few more minutes. 

We used to go out for dinner every night that we were at the beach, but our family was willing to cook and eat at our condo several nights.  The long waits at restaurants and inevitable late dinners just aren’t conducive to babies.  We did have wonderful meals at home, though, so no one seemed to mind!

Charlie got to have his first real beach experience, so I can’t call the vacation a total wash.  It was really fun to see him running through the sand and water to pick up seashells and jump over waves.  And I didn’t have to do any ironing, so that is always a plus.  Maybe after Christmas Jason and I can go on a real vacation, somewhere that doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 18!