In March we squeezed a crazy trip smack-dab in the middle of our booked lives! We really wanted to visit all the relatives, but we knew that once we hit April, our schedule would be packed... so we had to take the trip in March. It was a amazing vacation that was slightly insane! I will be doing an "official" blog post soon, but for now, I'm going to share the Vlog Updates I did while on the road.
Elder Gary wearing his jester hat while giving the message from the book of Esther.
Ready to cheer for Esther, yay for Mordecai, and boo for Haman. I found that when Mordecai's name comes right after Haman, it's just easier to say "Booyah!" ;)
Jordan up in the sound booth with Cecily.
Judah dressed up as a guard and wore his kilt, and Benjamin dressed up as a knight!
Men protect the ladies!
Eden and I did a duo costume. She dressed up as the Mona Lisa and I dressed up as a French painter. French because the Mona Lisa is owned by the French government (and maybe just because I had a better French costume).
Lindsey is Haman's wife and Shiloh is Abigail. And the cookie is Haman's hat.
So we started posing for some group pictures... and then the craziness began!
Some very strange looking people joined our group...
Gotta love that wig!
All the girls...
And everyone who dressed up... (you couldn't be in the picture unless you had a costume!)
All these crazy characters!
After all those giggles, we decided to burn off the cookies with some fun dancing!
Back in January, some of our wonderful cousins came up to visit us for the weekend. It was one crazy, awesome, hilarious, way too much fun, and way too short weekend. We had a blast together! We cousins grew up together and are very close-knit; even though we might be separated by many miles, we will always remain best friends! It's called cousin love. And it's special. Very special.
Reunited after three years!
Honestly, this was such a packed weekend and we took so many pictures, I'm not sure which ones to post!
With eight girls in one room, there were lots of giggles and late night talks.
Grace and I sharing a laugh at the dinner table. Love her!
Havilah with Hope, Audrey, Grace, and Cassidy. These are such lovely girls!
Studio C with the cousins. It's a tradition now!
This is one full van on the way to church!
I've been told the naughty kids always sit in the very back... hm...
We only had two open seats!
Poor Hope always gets her phone hacked by some mischievous cousins who will remain nameless...
Dollar store shopping fun!
Oh, and when there are cousins around, there is ice cream around! Tillamook Mudslide is da bomb!
Audrey shows us how you really should eat ice cream--right out of the container!
But you have to burn off that ice cream, right?
Hope and I went on a morning run and were so excited to see that we both have Asics as our favorite running shoes.
Cassidy learned to chop wood on the farm!
Shiloh made a great dinner for Erev Shabbat.
Celebrating Shabbat with the family.
We had such a special time worshiping with the cousins!
Worship dance is so special and doing it with your cousins makes it even more special.
Talking about dancing... the majority of the weekend had something to do with dancing.
Teaching Audrey how to waltz.
Shiloh, Grace, and Eden. Everyone looks so much alike!
No comment needed. ;)
Our big finale consisted of a family folk dance!
I had a blast dancing and calling. :)
We had such a great group of people who came to dance with us!
Spreading out for the Bonfire.
Video from the dance!
And then this lovely weekend had to come to an end. :( Sadness.
The Awkward Family Photo.
Shiloh, Hope, and I pranked the younger cousins as a goodbye surprise with silly string. :) You can see their reaction in the first part of our Cousin Happy Dance recap of the weekend video:
Oh, goodness I miss them all! It was such a special time together and I am so grateful to the Lord for blessing us with such wonderful cousins! And I am so thankful to my parents who made this all possible by having such a generous heart and an open home. :)
...And home again. Because vacations don't last for ever. ;)
If you are part of our family, the beach is in your blood! We will always be Californians at heart, not matter where we go. It's a special thing, really. :) Anyway, when we saw that the beach was only an hour away, we made sure to leave plenty of time open for some beach days.
Apparently this was the "world famous" (I'm not making this up!) Cocoa Beach pier. For being so world famous, it sure looked like it was overdue for repairs! ;)
Anyway, the beach was absolutely beautiful! It felt so good to be back on the sand with the waves, seagulls, and palm trees. Palm trees! I love palm trees. We found out two interesting things about the Atlantic vs. the Pacific: 1) The Atlantic is much saltier than the Pacific! That took some getting used to, actually. We found out that Cocoa Beach is also the place of the world famous Chip Lips. (Inside joke.) 2) It looks so different to see the sun set behind the beach instead of into the ocean.
The next day we drove up to Jacksonville for Paul Wilbur's First Fridays Erev Shabbat. The Lord totally worked this out without us evening planning it! We had been watching the First Friday livestreams and next thing we knew, last year when I had booked the trip, it had "somehow" ended up right on November's first Friday! God just put everything together in His perfect timing!
Let me tell you, it was an incredible feeling to be here! I grew up listening to Paul Wilbur before I knew it was Paul Wilbur (I mean, he didn't know he was Paul Wilbur until he became Paul Wilbur--inside joke, sorry, I digress), so hearing him play live was awesome!
It was an amazing and glorious evening of worship!!!
The night's topic was about Yom Kippur.
This man had a wonderful sermon on what the priests used to do to atone the children of Israel's sin, and how know we have a great High Priest who has given His blood to wash our sins away.
Meeting and a picture with Paul Wilbur.
That night we drove back to our hotel in Orlando. It was a night to remember, let me tell you. The drive was long and dark, and we were running low on gas. We kept searching on the phone for a gas station, only to find one of those "Buck's Peach-barrel Gas Stations" that closes at about 9:30pm. After prayer, thankfully we were able to find something before running out!
We were in bed at about 4:30 in the morning. Only after deciding that we wanted to wake up and go surfing in four hours! The next morning Daddy took us big kids back to the beach to teach us how to surf. This has always been something I've wanted to learn, and it was so exciting to be able to do it together with my dad teaching. And he is such a great coach!
If you can see him, Daddy is paddling out to catch a wave!
Riding the wave out.
We started with a soul session and then quickly moved to a power session.
I got the hand of it! What a great feeling. :)
Shiloh coming in under a beautiful sky!
Eden trying to hang ten.
Ending our vacation enjoying God's creation was surely the best way to finish it off!
And then we said goodbye to Florida after a blessed and wonderful ten days of family fun.
Looking sunburned (and not so attractive) while trying to finish all our leftover food before boarding the plane. I will refrain from enlightening you on my travel manners, but I must say, no matter how hard it is to eat yogurt out of a cup and without a spoon, I do not get my fingers messy. Because I hate sticky fingers.
This little guy has traveling down!
The setting sun leaves a vivid sky...
It's almost like the sun setting on this marvelous story of wonder. :)
We can truly echo the Psalmist as we say, "Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Psalm 40:5 From start to finish, this was such an amazing trip that the Lord orchestrated and blessed us beyond what we could ask or think. We are so grateful and humbled! May His Name be praised.