Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Memorial Day

We awoke on Memorial Day with no plans and quickly decided we should go do something. For Christmas, my parents got us a year long pass to the South Carolina State Park system. So, we decided to go to a state park that is nearby, have a picnic and go fishing. We had hot dogs and chips, but no buns, but since we had to stop and buy a fishing license at K-Mart, we figured we'd get buns there. We decided to go to Lansford Canal State Park because it was close by, but also because there are some water lilies on the canal that only bloom each year from mid-May to mid-June- perfect timing!

So, we loaded up the car with all of our picnic gear and fishing gear and went to K-Mart for fishing licenses. It took forever to get them, but then we were on the road to the canal, planning to stop at a gas station on the way to get bait. Well, we got to the canal without passing any gas stations, but hoped that the ranger station in the park would have bait. As we entered the park, we quickly realized we were not the only people with the same Memorial Day plans! The place was packed!

But we were able to find a grill next to the playground and some very nice people offered us the picnic table that was right by theirs saying they didn't need it. As the charcoal was heating up, Jack and Caleb walked to the ranger station to get bait. Uh oh.... no bait. And the closest gas station was a 20 minute drive. Also about that time I realized that we forgot to get the hot dog buns! So, we were having hot dogs with no buns and fishing with no bait! Way to go us! Jack and I just laughed. We ate our bunless hotdogs and told the boys that  instead of fishing we were going to walk down to the canal to see the very special lilies. At this point we did not realize the lilies only grow on a certain section of the canal and you had to walk a .75 mile trail to see them. Keep in mind it is very hot and I am 8 months pregnant! But not one to disappoint my kids, down the trail we trekked! The boys did great (we had a stroller for Josiah). It was very hot and I had seen lots of people wading in the shallow section of the canal. I told the boys that when we got back, I'd let them get in the water. Jack looked at me like I was crazy seeing as they weren't wearing bathing suits and we didn't have a change of clothes. But we had packed a few towels, just in case, and they were so excited, I just couldn't say no!

About halfway down the trail, we saw lots of people stopped and looking up. Turns out there was a bald eagle nest way up in the trees with a male and female bald eagle and their babies. We couldn't see it really well with our eyes, but a man had a camera with a super huge lens and he let the boys look through it to see. It was really neat.

Finally we reached the lilies. They really were beautiful and they covered the canal. We looked at the flowers for a few minutes and the boys chased a few lizards around the observation deck before heading back .75 miles. Yes, this momma walked 1.5 miles in the heat of the day 8 months pregnant just to make memories with her kids! It was so worth it!!

When we got back Jack and the boys waded in the canal- which they all absolutely loved. All in all, it was a great day- no buns, no bait and all!

End of the School Year and Preschool Graduation

In May the big boys had their end of the year performance at school and Caleb had his graduation. We took some really sweet video of both and hopefully Jack can get it edited so it can fit on here. (On a side note, I need to get a video editing software on my computer and learn to use it so Jack doesn't have to do it all!!)

They did great in their performance. Caleb actually sang and so did Noah. It was Noah's first performance. He seemed very scared at first but then spotted us and waved lots of times. And it helped that he was just two rows in front of Caleb so he kept turning around making sure Caleb was still there with him! When you see the video, you are going to love how Noah did the motions to the songs- he was very deliberate with them. Very cute!

Caleb's graduation was very sweet. He looked adorable. I'll admit, I did tear up as he marched in with his class. I just can't believe how big he has gotten. I am so proud of him. 

Here are some sweet pictures from the two events.

Noah spotted us!

Caleb waving to Daddy (I had moved with the camera for a better angle)

Noah waving to Daddy

Friday, June 10, 2011

Then and Now

Ten years ago, Jack and I got married and moved to Wake Forest, NC for Jack to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Some of the first people we met were Phud and Christie Chambers. For many months, Jack and I spent just about every weekend with Phud and Christie and our other very good friends Jason and Karen Wilson. Our first married couple friends! At the time, none of us had kids. Over the years, God led our families apart- to different churches, small groups and eventually different states and places of ministry.

Back in October when Jack was interviewing for the position here, he found out the opening he was interviewing for was at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. And right away we both remembered that Phud and Christie live in Rock Hill. When Jack got the job, all four of us were thrilled! God allowed us to be together again. We have so enjoyed being with Phud and Christie here in Rock Hill. And as I shared in the Vacation post, we were excited to find that we ended up planning family vacations to the same place the same week. What an amazing God we serve! That He would provide this job for Jack that he loves so much, a town that we simply adore living in and good friends from the past! Wow, we must praise Him!

But I must say.... my how things have changed in 10 years!!

Then: 2001
 Phud and Jack playing in the snow

Phud and Christie- New Year's Eve 2001

Jack and Carrie- New Year's Eve 2001

Christie and Carrie- New Year's Eve 2001

Now: 2011
 Jack and Phud- Myrtle Beach 2011

The Blankenships and the Chambers
Where did all those kids come from?!?! :)

P.S.- Our other good friends, Jason and Karen Wilson have 5 kids now. So, if we were to all get together again (after Eden is born), there will be between us 6 adults (just like in 2001) and 13 kids!!!! 
Well, the Bible does say we are to be fruitful and multiply! 
I keep saying we need to take a trip down to Florida where the Wilsons live and all go do Disney World. Phud thinks I am crazy! :)


After all of the college students are gone for the summer, Jack's schedule really gets freed up. So we decided May would be a great time to take our family vacation this year. We found out about a condo in Myrtle Beach that offered a very deep discount to families in ministry! We got to stay for an entire week this year for the first time because of the great discount. We had never been to Myrtle Beach before. We were thankful to be able to go before the crowds. Although, we did find out after we got there that it was Bike Week... oh no! But our condo was just far enough from the main strip that we never even knew the bikers were there.

Our condo was two bedroom, two bath on a golf course. We were right by the pool and a lake. It was perfect. It was about a mile from the beach, but just a straight shot to free public parking right on the beach. We went to the beach every morning. The boys loved playing in the sand for hours. Josiah did not like the waves- at all! Even the little teeny waves that came up on the beach. But by the end of the week, Caleb and Noah were playing in the waves with Jack. After spending a few hours at the beach, we'd head back to the pool for about an hour, then to the condo for lunch and naps. After naps we usually went back to the pool until dinner. And after dinner we walked along the beach looking for shells. On Tuesday, it rained all afternoon, we we decided to take in the aquarium. The boys loved it.

Before we left for vacation, we were surprised and excited to discover our friends, the Chambers, were also going to be at Myrtle Beach the same week. So, of course we made plans to get together! On Wednesday, after naps, we met up for a game of putt-putt and dinner out. The kids played putt-putt at a neat course with a castle, dragon and volcano! And then we had dinner at a restaurant right on the beach. Thursday we enjoyed the beach all morning, but after lunch we headed to the Chamber's hotel which had seven pools and a lazy river. The kids loved it. The one bad part of our vacation happened as we left the hotel after swimming. My sweet husband forgot that we parked right by a pole in the parking garage... at least he forgot until we hit it with our side view mirror! Uh oh! Yep, knocked the whole mirror off. It hung on the van by the wires. But, we decided not to sweat the small stuff! It's just a mirror- not worth getting upset about. We were determined not to let it ruin vacation. And I believe God honored our decision as the repair (all new mirror!) ended up costing less than $150!

On Friday we so enjoyed our last day on the beach and in our condo pool. We had to be out of our condo by 10:00 Saturday morning, but the Chambers didn't have to be out of their hotel until late. So, we prolonged our vacation by heading to their hotel for a few hours before we left on Saturday. And by the way, we had to duct tape the mirror to the van for our drive home- can you say redneck?? :)

We had such a wonderful, relaxing vacation with lots of quality family time. My husband is my hero as these boys wanted him to play with them constantly- on the beach, in the pool, in the condo- it didn't matter- they just wanted daddy. And he happily obliged while I sat in my chair! What a blessing this condo was for us. We were so starved for family time, we love the beach and were able to do it thanks to some amazing people using their condo to minister to families in ministry.

Here are lots of pictures from our week!

Caleb posing with the moon

Typical Noah- (and Jack's favorite picture from the week!)

 This is what usually happens when we try to get a picture of all three!
 Caleb and Noah in the shark tank at the aquarium.

Checking out a horse-shoe crab at the aquarium

Check out Josiah- a wave came in!!!

Whew, it went back out. I'm Ok now.

Oh no! Another one!!

My favorite picture from the week!

The big kids playing putt-putt.

All of the kids

Noah flying a kite

The duct taped mirror!! It held all the way home!