Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Vacation In Pictures

Our family vacation last week to the Oregon Coast was exactly what I needed. The weather was perfect, the company was excellent, and I had a chance to relax and do some self-evaluation.  My husband and I spent a lot of time talking about the future, and where we're headed.

There's so much to think about, and lots more to be decided, but for the first time in a long while I'm excited about what's ahead of me.  I plan to blog about all of it eventually.  For now though, I'm going to take the month of August to regroup and make plans.  I'll only be posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday until Labor Day, but after that I'll be back to five days a week, so stay tuned.

Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite pictures from our vacation.  It was dang near close to perfect.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Motivational Monday XVIII

I'm back from a wonderful vacation at the beach, and I feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.  At least I think so.  I might change my mind by the end of the day. 

In any case, have a wonderful week!

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Gratitude In Numbers

I'm linking up again with my blogging bestie Deena at Shoes To Shiraz.  Here's what I'm grateful for in July, in numbers...

--29 Schafers, all gathered together.  I wrote about my family reunion last week, but I'm so grateful that we all take the time once a year to visit and catch up.  There's nothing as important as family.

--1 successful wisdom tooth extraction.  Poor T.  His jawbone was so strong (thanks to lots of exercise, according to the surgeon), that getting his teeth out was extra difficult.  T was very swollen and sore for a week, but he's all better now.  Sadly, he's no longer wise, but at least his remaining teeth will stay straight!

--3 amazing doctors, 2 types of insurance, and several treatment plans. When my mom broke her arm while camping, we were in Oregon.  She lives in Arizona, and now is staying with me in Washington while she heals.  Sort of tricky for the medical people who have been treating her. But all three doctors have been kind, informative, and very helpful. It's been a little confusing, but we're all on the same page now.  And the best news....no surgery.

A funny side story:  my 97 year old Grandpa Ed was the person to find my mom after she fell, fifteen minutes later.  Instead of immediately heading off to get help, he looked down at her and said "and everyone thought it would be me". Very helpful, grandpa.

--1 best friend, who has rescued a gazillion dogs.  I love this lady, and I'm so grateful to call her a friend.  Her non-profit organization has found homes for hundreds of puppies and old dogs.  She's a true hero in the animal rescue world.

--10 members of my family, one beach house, and all ten of my toes in the sand.  I'm probably looking at this right now, and I couldn't be more grateful.

I hope you find what you are grateful for this month.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Disney World With Older Kids - Part 2

This is one of my most viewed posts - so I thought I'd share it again!


My hubby and I took the boys to Walt Disney World in December.  It was our third visit, but the first one with teenagers.  Even though nothing beats the magic of Disney with younger kids, this was our favorite trip by far.  

Nobody got cranky (well, except my husband, but I was prepared for that :), I didn't have to worry about losing anybody, and if someone wanted to do something else, they could go off on their own.  My only complaint?  The boys wore me out.  One night C talked me into staying until 2am - I am definitely getting too old for almost-all nighters!

Here are my top five tips for enjoying Disney with older kids:

--Get to the parks early.  I'm talking an hour before they open early. I can't say this enough, and it applies no matter how old your kids are.  Even though it means dragging yourself out of bed at a ridiculous hour, it's worth it.  By arriving before rope drop, you will save HOURS of waiting in line later.  Crowds really start to build about two hours after opening, and you can get so much done before the masses get there.

7am our first morning, waiting for the park to open.  It was so cold!
--Make a plan, but be flexible.  Have a general idea of what your must see's are, and try to hit them first. Unfortunately, Disney has become very schedule oriented - you have to make dining and fast pass reservations months ahead of time, which takes away a lot of the spontaneity.  So do those things when you have to, but leave room for the unexpected, and don't be afraid to change your mind.  There are so many things to see!

--Stop to eat.  My boys' lives pretty much revolve around food, and gone are the days when I can give them yogurt or crackers to appease them.  To avoid major grumpiness, plan to sit down and eat a full meal at least once a day.  There are plenty of quick service restaurants for the rest of your meals and snacks, but taking an hour to relax and get a good lunch or dinner is so important.  This was my husband's one request for this trip, and I'm so glad we did it. There are some really good restaurants at Disney, and except on the busiest days, you can get a seat without a reservation. 

--Take a break at mid day.  Disney is expensive - like, really expensive.  It's tempting to stay in the parks from open to close just to get your money's worth out of that ticket. But around noon it gets REALLY busy. There's no point in fighting the crowds just to stand in a long line and be irritated with your family.  Every day we would head to our room and go for a swim or take a nap.  Then we went back to the parks, refreshed and ready to party.

--Let them go.  This was the first time that I felt comfortable letting the boys take off and do the things they wanted to do.  At this age, all they care about are the rides, and hubby and I were starting to get nauseous! Many times we sent them on their way. One day they rode Splash Mountain nine times in a row - they were soaked but happy. Meanwhile, we strolled around and saw things we'd never experienced before.

Above all else, be in the moment and have fun!  About halfway through our trip I realized this was probably the last time our family of four would be together at Disney World. Which made me sad, but then I thought about how lucky I was to be there with them, and I needed to make the most of all the memories.  This may or may not be why I agreed to stay up with C until 2am.  I was dragging the next day, but it was worth every second.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How To Pack For Vacation - Part 2

It's a year later and I'm still not any better at packing!


Normally I write a fashion post on Wednesdays.  However, since I'm on vacation this week, my wardrobe consists of bathing suits and flip flops.  Nobody wants to see that.

I am terrible at packing.  I always bring too much, forget something important, and vow to do better next time. So, I found some bloggers who are great at packing, and I thought I'd share their ideas with you today.

Alison from Get Your Pretty On made a Ten Day Summer Vacation Packing List that is genius. She took fourteen pieces and combined them into different outfits for a ten day summer vacation.  Alison also shared that she puts outfits together and takes pictures of them with her phone before she packs them, so she can easily pull together what she wants to wear each day.  If only I were that organized!

If you're heading to Disney or another destination that requires lots of walking, you'll want to read What To Wear To Disney World from Jo-Lynne at Musings of A Housewife.  Not only does she have great packing tips, she shares some footwear finds that are both comfortable and stylish.

Finally, Connie from Refinery 29 has the best article to help you Travel Like A Minimalist. She shares seven tips to fit everything you need on a vacation into a carry-on size suitcase.  I would love to have her help me pack for my next trip that requires air travel.

The only thing that keeps my suitcase from looking like a wrinkled mess are these little gems that I found at Ikea.  I wrote about them a few months ago, and they are so helpful for keeping things organized.  I bought one set but I think I might need more.

Confession time....I didn't use a single one of these tips.  As usual, I had too much to do, wasn't organized, and ended up throwing everything into suitcases and bins for my husband to pack into the car.  However, I'm going to pin my own post, and I vow to do better next time....

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Puzzle For Gran - Part 2

Last year during our beach vacation, we put this puzzle together in memory of my mother in law, Elizabeth...


My younger son has loved to do puzzles since he was a very small boy.  It was an activity that he often did with his Grandmother.  The two of them would sit quietly, working for hours, passing pieces back and forth until the picture emerged.  

The last puzzle Gran bought sat unopened in her room for three years.  Her dementia had reached a point where she was no longer able to focus on the task at hand, and T didn't want to do it without her.  

Sadly, my mother-in-law passed away in February.  As we were packing up her home, my boys were very stoic, helping where they could, but not saying much.  When T discovered the unopened puzzle, the tears finally came, and he asked if he could take it home.

I had completely forgotten about that puzzle until T brought it with us on vacation this year. He asked if we could put it together as a family, as a special tribute to Gran.  We spread the pieces out on the coffee table, and throughout the week everyone spent time making the picture come alive.  

If you are a puzzle person, you will know that the prize at the end is putting the final piece into the picture. As it was nearing completion, we realized that we were missing two pieces. We searched but could not find them.  Finally, my niece pulled one of them from her sleeve, telling us that she had hidden it there so she could finish the puzzle.  My husband replied that he liked her thought process, but he was way ahead of her. He then pulled the final piece from his pocket and handed it to T.  It seemed only fitting that he should complete this puzzle.

I like to think that she was watching over us as we put together the puzzle, pleased that she had passed her love on to T.  This one was for you, Gran.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Motivational Monday XVII

I'm taking a little "blog pause" this week to enjoy a much needed beach vacation with my family.  Each day I'll be re-running some posts from last year, and be sure to come back Friday for my monthly gratitude/July in numbers. You can also check out what we're up to by following me on instagram.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!
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