June 29, 2013

A Link Up: It was the Best of Vacations, it was the Worst of Vacations...

Wow... so all this reminiscing of our vacations has made me really want to take one!  We were a bit amiss in making summer plans this year!  Between intensely focusing on our Girlie and her Graduation in early June... and looking ahead to October, where I will be attending #Allume (and my Honey is coming along - making it an Empty Nester Vacation too!) - we just didn't think about -or budget for- a 'real' vacation!  

I hope in all this talking of trips and hitting the road and making memories - you have realized that it really IS more doable than we often think! A family vacation doesn't HAVE to require passports and plane tickets... honestly - the whole idea of Staycations is really quite intriguing! Those are the types of things we like to do all the time... pick somewhere within a days' driving distance and do something fun... find free things to do around your city and get creative!  It's amazing what you can find to do if you act like a tourist in your own town - big or small!

Today is the Link Up - and after all my story telling - I hope to read some of yours!  

In the spirit of a Link Up - I will share just one more Vacation with you... 

This one was taken circa 2007 - and it was the first vacation that we had gone on - just the three of us - for quite some time! We had found a rhythm in vacationing with our best friends.  Our kids were best friends too - and we ALL loved the beach - so that had become our destination and we all loved it!  But between that, and just inviting a friend of our daughters' (or of ours!) to come along with us on trips, it had been too long since we had connected as a threesome.

We are blessed to live smack in the center of a beautiful State!  We are in the desert - but we don't have to drive for long in any direction and we can find rural communities, lakes, mountains, rivers, big cities, beaches... you name it!  One area that none of us had really ventured into was the Olympic Peninsula where we have a rain forest, beaches, - just beauty ALL around! We built a huge chunk of living into one long weekend and we hit the road!

We rented a house in the outskirts of Port Angeles... gorgeous... secluded... relaxing! We went in to town and walked the pier, enjoyed downtown, ate out and played on the beach... 

We hiked up around Hurricane Ridge, and we walked around in the Hoh Nat'l Rain Forest... 

We hung out at Lake Crescent and Rialto Beach and enjoyed the adventure of the Olympic Game Farm (with waving bears... and Bison that sort of want IN our car!) and roamed around the endless Beauty of Lavender Fields...

We came home exhausted but more in love with our gorgeous State - and with our gorgeous family - and really - isn't that the ultimate goal of Family Vacations?

I'm sure some of you may have had more Worst than Best... I think that happens if you happened to take Vacations more often - the chances increase, right?  But I hope like me - you find in reflecting back - that maybe there was a little bad in even the Bests... and that there is a little good even in the Worsts!

Now it is your turn to share... invite us along to remember the highs and lows of cramming in a moving vehicle in search of making memories and bonding (and not killing each other!) Share a story of a vacation when you were a kid... or one you've taken as an adult... 

For fun - add a Dream Destination at the end of your post or in the comments below - somewhere you would LOVE to go if money was no object! Me? Easy peasy... I would go for at least 3 months in Italy! (Yes please! One day!)

It was the Best of Vacations, it was the Worst of Vacations...  
(Now you go...)

Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.

All photographs copyrighted by Karrilee @ Blessed Memories

To read the complete series, Click HERE...
each post is linked at the bottom!

June 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday & Friendly Get Aways

Whether it's the kids with Church Camp or Sleep-Overs, or it's the grown-ups with Weekend Concerts or Events out of town - traveling with friends feeds the soul! This week I have been writing a series on Vacations and I would miss out if I didn't touch on the importance of get-aways with friends! So - I am hoping to combine my series post today with this Five Minute Friday word prompt... here goes...

But - first - the fine print: if you don't know what FMF is!  Five Minute Fridays are hosted by Lisa Jo Baker.  It is open to anyone, so to learn more about it - and to jump in yourself (the more the merrier!) or just to find a linky to see what everyone is writing about today - click HERE!  The idea is to simply write... for Five Minutes flat... no editing, no deep thinking - or at least REthinking, no spell check - just write! Let it flow! We all write using a prompt that Lisa posts at one minute past midnight Friday morning (EST.)  I'm loving the community of amazing bloggers and the creativity that flows from these magical Five Minutes!

So - here goes: Five Minute Friday - In Between ...


There are all kinds of Family Vacations... and some of our most favorite ones have been with Friends who are like Family to us!  While we love going just us three... and we love going with extended family... and we love going on our own from time to time... we also LOVE to Vacation with friends! These are the 'mini' Vacations that we take In Between...

Whether it is to attend a conference,

or we rent a cabin up in the woods for a Winter weekend...

Or we get away to our favorite beach
(yes - this is a path that leads down to the gorgeous Pacific!)...

Or just an impromptu weekend at a friends' house out of town...

...we LOVE connecting with the friends who are Family to us... The friends who have lived life with us - the ups and the downs... who know us beyond any Mask we may be holding up... who will call us on our stuff, and love us through our issues... friends who know when to press and when to pray, friends who pour into us - and we pour into!

We have friends that we go to the Beach with, and friends that we go to a small touristy town with; friends that we go to concerts and Jazz festivals with, and friends that we like to explore somewhere new with... 

Vacationing with friends - no matter which couple, family, or group we go with - always includes a lot of relaxing and catching up, great food, lots (and LOTS) of laughing (Laughings my favorite!), games, walks, prayers, and worship... we always come home refreshed and revived... ready for the Every Day to Be Bossy with us again... we LOVE the going... and we LIVE in the In Between! 

The Going feeds our souls - it helps us to know that we are - in fact - not alone! That we matter... and not just because we're related and we 'have' to... but that we are investing now in friendships that we will get to spend eternity growing deeper and deeper! 

And in the feeding of our souls, it makes the LIVING in between fuller, better, more with purpose! 


Five Minute Fridays gives us the chance to dive right in and share what He puts on our hearts! Click here to read what others have to say about "In Between"  

Join me tomorrow morning for a Link Up as I wrap up my series on Vacations... I'd love for you to share your Best (and/or your Worst) Vacation ever!

Five Minute Friday

Red Eyes, Metros, and Rental Cars

Yes... I have had my coffee
and yes - that was a clever rendition of
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!
(Good Morning, and you're welcome!)

So - today we come to my literal BEST Vacation! We have had several great vacations... and if you have been around here for any length of time - you will know that picking Favorites is not my thing. I'm just no good at it!  But - honestly - hands down... this was it!

Not just because of the destination and what we did and saw... but who we met (online friends who I had been talking with on a weekly basis for a year!) and mostly - because again - after a lot of vacationing with friends or family - it was just us three, and our girlie was sheer traveling perfection! (Well - other than the unexplainable melt down and ugly crying that happened the day - and yes, she can still probably tell you the exact day - which was yesterday btw - that Michael Jackson died.)  Yeah - other than THOSE several hours - she was a joy!  She drank it all in and knew how much it meant to me to see all of these places in person - in real life - and she let my excitement be contagious.  She was nearing teendom where a lot of girlies her age don't really want to hang out with their parents - but it seemed she was still really enjoying us - and us her - on this trip... and the whole thing was just Such. A. Gift.

So- the whole thing came about because I had made some incredible friends online at a weight loss website and we would chat at least a couple of times a week - every week - for nearly 8 months.  All of a sudden, during one of our online chats, several of the ladies realized that they lived somewhat close to each other.  Others said it would be a road trip - but they were within driving distance too - and that is when the planning of the first annual Scrapbook Retreat began.  Now - they are mostly over on the East Coast... at the time, the only other non-East Coaster in our group was in Oklahoma... but the majority of them are clustered up in the East and with all the excitement and possibilities of meeting - I let myself get caught up in it before I realized that for me - it was gonna take a lot more than gas money!

Now - I can't really fully explain to you WHY this is true - but it is true nonetheless... I had always ALWAYS wanted to go to Washington D.C.  I don't come from an overly politically active family - nor were we really oober patriotic - but I have memories of being in elementary school, and dreaming of going to the Washington Monument and the Capitol.. touring the White House... seeing the Smithsonian... I don't know that I ever really told anyone. I mean - honestly... I had no hopes that it would ever happen.  I do not come from a long line of travelers.  But in my nine year old heart, I thought it would just be somehow Magical to see these sites in person! (Who needed Disneyland?)

My Honey - because he is AWESOME... and super smart and not geographically challenged like me, pointed out that Pennsylvania is really actually pretty close to D.C.

"What?  What's this you say?" I am confused - not so much in picturing a map (although a little) but because why would he mentioned Washington D.C. when I am talking about a Scrapbook retreat for ladies?

"Well - we could all go... and we could make it a Family Vacation and..."

Who even cares what he said next.  Honestly - I have no idea. He kept saying stuff, but the magic was already happening in my head! Possibility was already seeping in to my heart!

We flew the Red Eye out of Seattle - which even though we didn't sleep - thanks to all the Mommies who thought for SURE the babies would sleep on the flight.. still - this idea turned out to be BRILLIANT and we will do it again and again!  We had a layover or two and arrived in Baltimore around 8am.  We took a Metro to - somewhere? - and we wandered around the streets downtown looking for our hotel... with all of our luggage... Nothing like looking like a tourist right off the bat!  We found our hotel and they had a room for us even though check in was not for hours and hours and I am just saying that it was a good thing that my Honey was doing the talking or I may have kissed that nice lady at the check in!  We found our room, dropped the luggage on the floor, and we Passed. Out.


(Yeah - we are not travelers!)

But when we woke up - it was literally lunch time... and we walked around Inner Harbor and fell in love with Baltimore.

The next day we took the train in to D.C.

We could have spent DAYS in Union Station. DAYS I tell you! (We know... we are easy to please!)

That moment when we turned the corner and the Capitol building came in to view... breathtaking magic happening there... and not just me - we all felt it!

I could go on and on... but I won't... We spent just a couple of days going in to D.C. - we saw as much as we could squeeze in which was almost everything.  Our favorites - (again - me with Favorites?) the Lincoln Memorial... just Wow! You can't know until you are standing in it... you just can't know.  Also - the World War II Memorial.  So Much Yes.  and lastly - the most holy place I have ever EVER stood: The Hall of Remembrance inside the Holocaust Museum. I didn't even take any photo's in there. I don't think that it said not to - but I just couldn't.

After our time in Baltimore and D.C. - we rented a car
and headed to Pennsylvania when my family was planning on
dropping me off with a bunch of strangers whom I had 'met' online
and ditching me to go to New York. (Whatever.)

It was our agreement even though I was torn... 
I so wanted to be with them and take in the sights... 

But I had a crazy gathering of Awesome happening
at a Scrapbook Retreat house outside of Hershey
(and yes... we went there - how could we not?)... 
these Sisters are what brought me across the country...
and to meet face to face, 
and put voices to 'voices' that I had come to love
over chatrooms and emails 
- it was So Much Fun!

This trip was in 2009, and I still chat with these ladies from time to time...
they continue to meet up for Retreats each year, but as I said,
many of them are not too far away from each other...
and, well, I can Skype in... it's not the same as being there... 
but I will always always remember our first gathering!

Oh and another fun thing my girlie and I did throughout this entire trip:

There was this post (Operation Beautiful) that I had come across right before packing our bags... so I added a couple of Post It Notepads and some pens and read it to my girlie... we decided then and there - to leave a few notes in EVERY place we went... every public restroom, in every menu, or table top, every hotel room, or rental car... we were gonna spread the love, baby!

Now - I would be less than honest if I didn't share a little of the WORST in this post... because while this was hands down the BEST... a little worst can just sneak right on in now, can't it?  

So - three negatives about this trip:

1. New Shoes... I know, right? I knew this would be a walking vacation so I bought brand new shoes a couple of days before leaving town... and I wore them a couple of days before leaving town... you can guess - I paid the big bucks for these because we would be doing A LOT of walking - and I was in need of new workout shoes anyway - so I bought a 'fancy' name brand running shoe for WAY more money than I would normally spend... and my feet were not just blistered after day one of wearing them - they were bloody, ya'll.  As in painful and sad... I didn't have time (or money left) to buy anything different but I was not so sure they would not make me want to die... I packed a different pair of shoes as back up and lots and lots (and BOXES) of BandAids.  (Now - the less than Worst part: it was a Vacation Miracle!  My feet did not hurt ONCE... I wore my 'back up' shoes and not once where they sore or anything... honestly - it was a God thing, so full of Mercy and - ya know... just mercy!)

2. As I mentioned above, Michael Jackson died.  As a true 80s teen - I had my fair share of love for MJ... but to be honest, it had weened over time and you know, over some of his - well... you know.  However - my daughter fell in LOVE with him - even before he was starting to be cool again - way before there was talk of a comeback... and I cannot explain it other than to say it must have been some sort of spiritual something - because my girlie had A. Melt. DOWN. - right there in the Baltimore Mall.  Her Daddy - apparently not realizing the depth of her love for all things Michael Jackson - filled us in on the gossip he had just overheard in the Food Court... He even gave an impression of the gal upon hearing the news which I will say two things about that: 1) Her reaction paled in comparison to our daughters, and 2) We were afraid that his - uh - accurate impersonation would only be used to point out that we were in fact a minority in that Mall at the moment and we wanted him to STOP SAYING STUFF... We returned to our hotel room to watch hours and hours of news reports and watched despair and sadness attempt to take over our child. Seriously ya'll... no explanation as to why she would take it so hard... she was a fan - but it was not bordering obsession and even she seemed scared at the intensity of it! (She recovered... and went on to love New York and New Jersey and get some much needed one on one Daddy time while I was at my Retreat!)

3. WORST part ever... while we were stellar and brilliant in taking the Red Eye to the East Coast... we planned for a late afternoon arrival back in Seattle - thinking we could take our time back home and pull in early evening - right when any possible time change would want to kick us in the arse... this would have worked out PERFECTLY if only our car would have wanted to get home as badly as we did!  For some reason - our car didn't want to start when we went to pick it up from the parking garage... when we got a jump and kept it running - it seemed fine... so - after spending too much time packing and jumping and charging the car - we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back over the mountains toward home.  We were less than an hour from home when we decided food for us and gas for the car may be vital... we pulled in to a sleepy college town only to find that our car was done.  I believe it took us 3 hours to get home rather than that mere 40 minutes.  We'd been up and at the airport by 7:30am EST that morning... and it was apx 3:45am (EST) when we flung our sad, tired selves onto our comforters... and collapsed in a heap.

...but those parts, I usually don't think about!
No - I mostly remember that this was

What about you? What is the BEST trip you have ever taken?
Where did you go and what made it so special?
I'd love for you to share your story in the Comments below!
(I will be hosting a Link Up on Saturday
- so maybe this will spark a post of your own!)

Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.

All photographs copyrighted by Karrilee @ Blessed Memories

To read the complete series, Click HERE...
each post is linked at the bottom!

June 26, 2013

Family near & far

A great way to take a Family Vacation is to go somewhere to actually SEE Family.  The bonus is hopefully you get a free place to stay that helps to cut down on expenses... and it gives you what vacations are always really looking for: Time!

As I mentioned in the beginning of this series... this was really the only type of 'vacation' that I remember going on as a child.  And - I will admit that my memory is fuzzy and I am sure many things were lost on me - but what I remember is the (unfun) drive to get there - and then that was it.  That was plenty of driving around.  So - it seemed as if we had a homebase at Grandma's and all the other relatives would stop in when they could and we would be there... unless the kids took off on foot. Which we did... and I'm pretty sure that at least one of us must have known where we were going and how far away the Circle K really was.  I have vague memories of cousins' houses and a park or two - so I know that we did GO some places... but these kinds of vacations are really more about connecting with actual PEOPLE and not so much about seeing stuff - or, in some cases, doing anything!

My Honey and I are blessed in that we have both sets of parents here in town. In fact, one set lives right next door, and the other is just a mile-ish away!  Two out of his three sisters live in town now, while neither of mine are local anymore. Still - with all this family in town - we get opportunities to plan weekends and spring breaks away. One time, we went to stay with his sister in Franklin, TN but usually it is not quite so far.  Sometimes it is just over the mountains to Seattle or Whidbey Island; sometimes we head south and go to Portland; and sometimes it's even closer, to Walla Walla!

                                                  Our trip to Nashville/Franklin TN circa 2001

                                     (Misc trips to Whidbey Island)

                                                                             (Fun trips to Portlandia!)

                                                          (Misc Wanderings around in Walla Walla)

                                                                       (Misc trips to Seattle, WA)

When we plan these Family Vacations, our goal is to simply relax and reconnect with family... share life and tell stories and make memories together... so a lot of these kinds of vacations are more in line with what I remember: the grown ups constantly talking and the kids goofing off and nervously getting reacquainted.  However - we try to plan outings and things that the kids look forward to as well... a picnic at the beach, going shopping or out to eat, going to a zoo or an aquarium, etc.

This is where I can tell you - having an Only - can be nice (no sibling bickering and less expense) but it can also be trickier (no sibling bickering/distractions/entertainment and - well - they can think that they are a grown up... if you don't get this - well, then chances are good you don't have an Only!)

We have placed a high value on family... in our heritage and we are leaving a legacy on purpose... so connecting with those whom we share family stories and memories - this is vital! Especially because we have an Only - we wanted her to really KNOW her extended family... to feel like she is a part of something that is bigger than just us three!

I realize that some families (like my Honey's sister - on the other side of the country) are farther away and as much as we'd love to get to plan a Vaca- and see them once a year, that is just not reality.  Thankfully - they have been able to come home on a fairly consistent basis but for some - it's just not an option.  Whether it be distance, or expense, or work/time, etc - sometimes traveling to stay with family is just not going to happen.  When that is the case, we thank God for Skype and Facebook and Hangouts! We only were able to get to Tennessee once - but we talked of our time there often, to remind our girlie of our trip and what we did and what we saw and who was there... we'd look through the scrapbook or play a game that we played when on vacation there, and we would remember...

The beauty of any kind of vacation is that once it is over... you can 'go back' if you will, whenever you want - because you took the time to make some memories and it's in the reminding that you can rebuild and strengthen the connection - even across all those miles!

So - where do you go when staying with family?  Do you find those vacations are more for the adults or the kids or have you found a happy medium?

Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.

All photographs copyrighted by Karrilee @ Blessed Memories

To read the complete series, Click HERE...
each post is linked at the bottom!

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