Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Forward Conference 2011

We're back in the land of scheduled nap times and regular bath and bed times, where a meal means something on a plate without a side of fries and we can speak to one another without yelling to be heard.

We are back from Forward Conference.

Last year I wrote about our trip to Forward - it was my first year and I was really pleased with the overall trip and the conference itself. This year a few of the same speakers were in the lineup and I felt like I went into the trip more prepared, knowing what to expect. We had another great trip but I'm pretty certain I came back to Wewa more tired this year than I did last year.

Discovering Addie had an ear infection the day before we left wasn't necessarily a setback, but it wasn't good news, either. Knowing how jam packed the weekend is, and losing an hour on top of that, I had a feeling the trip might be a little rough. While she did pretty great, we did have our sticky moments. She sat well through some sessions, not so great through one (resulting in letting her stretch her legs all around the convention center) and we skipped two evening sessions. I had planned on skipping one, recognizing that my girl just needed some down time, and decided later to stay back the last night, too, as it was apparent she needed a nap and some time to just be Addie.

Judah Smith was back in full force, as was Christine Caine. I really enjoyed their sessions and I heard the other sessions with Jentezen Franklin and Carl Lentz were great, too. Simply put, I felt encouraged and challenged by what they had to say. We spent Sunday morning at Free Chapel, which, again, pleasantly surprised me in the way they make their large church seem small. Addie spent the service in the awesome children's church program (run like a well-oiled machine) and the message we heard was painfully applicable. I don't see the message on their website yet but I'll try to remember to post it when I do.

I think one of the things that strikes me the most about being at Free Chapel is that it is obvious from outward appearances that they are a "successful" church in the areas of growth, etc. As a result, what they do, they do well, partly because they have the means to do things excellently. But, it's not just about having the money to do what they do - I see the humility beneath all that is done there, the sincerity and the total reliance on God and then giving it back to Him. That is obvious, and that is what shines through the slick videos, beautiful buildings and awesome music.

Forward Conference is much the same. Everything is run with excellence, professionalism and is extremely attractive. But through all of that there is a genuine quality to all of it.

But, after four days of fast food for every meal and existing on little sleep, it was nice to be on the road home. To be honest, I didn't feel great most of the trip. Between the migraine that unexpectedly popped up late the night before we were to leave, the food we were eating and the general go, go, go of the trip, I just felt a little yucky the whole time. One night when Addie and I were hanging out at the hotel, since we had no transportation, I loaded her up in the stroller and we took a walk to one of the little shopping/restaurant areas near the hotel. I (hallelujah!) found a Panera where I could get something other than fries and with our salads and sandwiches we headed back to the hotel. As soon as we got back, before I could dive into my food, my stomach let it be known there would be no eating of any kind taking place. Rather, it seems my Five Guys burger at lunch, loaded with grilled onions and mushrooms, instead took over. But, by the time 11 p.m. rolled around and Sabian came back to the room with my Waffle House waffle, I was good to go.

Happy Birthday Destiny!

Toby Mac - we got there late and had to sit BEHIND the stage. That's what happens when you're running late and there are 12,000 people in the arena.

Playin' it cool.

Either listening intently or waiting for the session to start or...sleeping with their eyes open.

On a "break" from the session going on inside the arena.
While we were in Atlanta we also celebrated the 13th birthday of one of our girls, Destiny. Her mom was also on the trip and surprised her with a cake and our **sad** rendition of Happy Birthday.

Oh, and did I mention Toby Mac was the opening concert of the conference? Toby Mac and I go way back to his DC Talk days. Still reigns as one of my most fun concert experiences (1994?) and brings back good memories of good times. Toby, you still got it.

It was a good trip but it is good to be back in our own beds and on our own schedule. The house got cleaned yesterday, the laundry got done and today Addie and I made it to our local library to stock up on some new books for the next week or so.

I am thankful for a good trip, safe travels there and back and to be readjusting to our normal everyday activities. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day festivities

I've been meaning to get this post out since yesterday...then life intervened in the form of an unplanned trip to Panama City yesterday (at least a two hour ordeal, one hour alone in driving) which was also the day I'd planned to pack for our trip, a fun dinner with friends (lots of preparation for the meal but it was good!), another unplanned trip to Panama City today (resulting in the unfortunate cancellation of a play date for Addie) to determine that Addie has one ear infection and an almost ear infection in the other ear, which meant an hour waiting for meds, a really late lunch (early dinner?) and a sleepy girl in for a late nap.

Despite her diagnosis Addie has been in great spirits. As today was my back up packing day, I am behind. But, I couldn't leave a stale blog at hand...

Planning Father's Day for Sabian is always kind of fun.

I made a photo book for him last year and made another this year, thinking it might be fun to start that as a tradition, making a new one for him each year with pictures from the last year. I also gave him a gift of my own, which I will write about later, and had planned a little outing for us.

Earlier in the weekend we took our free and leftover tickets from Addie's birthday and visited the butterflies once again and took another spin on the ferris wheel. I think I forgot to mention in her birthday post that while we were in the butterfly pavilion someone approached us and offered us a few free tickets to come back. There were more butterflies this time around and we were able to see all of the cocoons waiting to release new butterflies. One even hatched while we were there.

As for the ferris wheel, what a difference three months makes. Last year we took Addie on the ride and she was really too little to know to be scared or excited. On her birthday she resisted a little when we got on and then was quiet the entire time. This time, she jumped up and down, squealed and pointed to the ferris wheel and when I asked her if she wanted to ride she immediately said, "Yes!" 

She loved it. She talked and pointed things out and at one point said something we finally figured out was, "Slow down!" over and over again.

Later in the weekend we were invited to the family reunion of some friends from church so we joined them for lunch and some pickin' and grinnin' (to be explained later - remind me!). Addie enjoyed some face painting (her first time) some games for the kids and the little trinkets and toys they gave out to all the kids there. Alas, no photos, but I assure you she had fun. After a good nap and some dinner, we headed to the beach for sunset.

Sunday, finally, Father's  Day! Or, as Addie likes to say, "Happy Daddy!" She is still wishing Sabian "Happy Daddy" all this week. With no evening church service planned, after the morning service the day was ours. I made Sabian a favorite meal of his for lunch, we took naps and later headed for a secret (to Sabian) location.

We ended up at St. Andrews State Park. We'd seen the park from the boat when we took the dolphin cruise for Sabian's birthday and knew we wanted to head back at some point to check it out.

Side note: To me, state parks in Florida are interesting. They're mostly all just another beach, but do have some differences. I guess the same could be said for other places, but replacing beach with forest. But, it's not bad to check out another beach!

St. Andrews was pretty cool. On one side you can launch your boats, do some fishing from the water or the pier and clean your catch all right there. In fact, we saw some guys come in with some huge fish. On the other side is the beach where you'd hang out, including a couple of huge rock jetties. That was what I really wanted to see because that's what caught our eyes from our dolphin excursion.

Addie loved climbing on the rocks, of course, but it was pretty precarious so, much to her dismay, we had to have hands on her at all times. When we were done dodging fishermen and their hooks and pointy rocks and deep crevices, we played in the shallow, still water, made this way because of the jetty separating the still pool from the rest of the gulf. That part was great. Addie could wade into the water without it being too deep and there were little to no waves. She even started mimicking the kids who were snorkeling in the water, getting on her hands and "Wookin' for shish." Never mind she was wearing clothes and no swimsuit. 

We let her play in the water for a while but as it was getting close to sunset we got out, cleaned her up and got her into some dry clothes so we could get some dinner.

I am so thankful for a relaxing, go-at-our-own-pace kind of weekend. It was so nice, especially considering the coming weeks will be busy, in and out of town.

Oops, almost forgot photos!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Short & sweet

I know it's Father's Day, so I should be blogging about how awesome my husband is at being a dad...that post is coming.

For now, I will quickly mention what a great husband he is and how thoughtful he was on our anniversary last month. He bought me this:

This necklace has been on my etsy favorites list for as long as I can remember. I think I found it shortly after I discovered etsy (about five years ago!) and have followed it since. For our anniversary Sabian wanted to stick to the traditional gift for five years, which is wood. Several months before our anniversary he announced that he had the perfect gift for me and was really excited. I was a little nervous, since we don't usually exchange anniversary gifts and, as great as it was that he had planned so far in advance, I had no idea what I was going to get him. I wanted it to be as special as it seemed his gift to me would be.

It was kind of a big deal when I opened the small, black box and found this necklace in it. It meant he had remembered the necklace from forever ago. And it just so happened to fit right in with the theme of the five year anniversary gift.

I love the necklace and so appreciate the sentiment behind it.

Side note: the designer, Lauren Haupt, is super nice and her shop is full of some other really cool pieces. I'd take one of each!

I am thankful for a thoughtful husband.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shooting with the Chaneys

I almost titled this post, "Shooting the Chaneys," but I thought that might not be as funny as it first was when it crossed my mind.

"Shooting," in this case, refers to the photo session we had when we were in Illinois last month. Last year for Mother's Day I asked for family pictures and we had a really good experience with a local photographer. This year I wanted to update our photos and thought it would work out well for us to do a session at home.

A friend of mine suggested her friend, Jessica, who was really flexible with my indecisiveness and flip flopping on dates and times. Then the task was to decide on a location. Jessica mentioned downtown Belleville, which I thought was somehow funny since it was one of the first places that popped into my mind. I used to live in the historic district, right off of Main Street, and it seemed appropriate to take pictures in that area since it is so recognizably Belleville. 

Jessica was super sweet and fun to work with. She was amazing at keeping up with Addie, who was running and exploring all over the place. Taking photos of an energetic, busy two year old on the sidewalks of downtown was a bit challenging, but she did a great job. I am glad we chose that location but I do think next time we'll choose a more laid back setting where Addie can really run around and do her thing. 

There are a few more photos on my Facebook profile.

I am thankful for a fun photo shoot!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm ready to get out of town! I think because we've decided not to take a vacation this year (which wouldn't normally be until October, anyway) I'm feeling even more ready to get out of town. Go figure.

But, we do have a short trip coming up next week to anticipate. We're taking a group of kids, plus a few adults, to the Forward conference in Atlanta. Last year was my first year but it's an annual trip for our kids, even before we came to Wewa. It is a great conference, good speakers, music and fun. We have our afternoons free so we can do what we want and this year we'll have a pool at the hotel we can take advantage of. It's a busy weekend but at least we'll be out and about!

So far this week we've had some fun hanging out with Addie's friend Carson.

Pacifier king and queen, working on puzzles.

Carson has been so sweet and lots of fun. Addie has had a few issues here and there with my attention being divided, but I noticed today she'd get over it a little faster than she did yesterday. It's been good lesson learning for her, although it is a little tough seeing her upset. But, she got over it and I think she had fun having him around. We've just had him two days, so tomorrow starts the rest of the week for us to plan Father's Day festivities and to get a few other things done. 

Today I am thankful for my husband, who helped get Addie down for naps these two days while Carson visited. That was a huge help!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Storm cloud

We need rain. I know some of you reading this are wishing for the rain to stop in your area, so send it on our way. Since we're not getting it, we headed for the beach yesterday. I braced myself for a hot, sticky couple of hours but it was actually really nice, breezy and totally bearable. The added plus was that the three of us spent a lot of time in the water, which we don't normally do. Addie is usually content to dig in the sand and run along the beach and Sabian is the one who gets in the water. As I am on a quest to get Addie comfortable in the water this summer I was really glad she was so happy among the waves. It helped that we had a ton of fish around us, jumping out of the water. Beach entertainment.

By the looks of the above photo I quickly snapped while we were out, there's no storm cloud in sight. Rather, the cloud is hanging over my head. It's been there all week. A bit of a drag, but just the way it is right now. Hoping for a better week next week.

I am thankful to get out with Sabian tonight!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Back up with me, if you will, to May. You know, that crazy month of graduations, the end of school, the beginning of really nice weather, birthdays, anniversaries and so much more.

On the subject of anniversaries, while we do celebrate our wedding anniversary in May, I realized I forgot to mention one other important anniversary - that of our move to Wewa. This year made it three years since we took the plunge and came to this little corner of Florida's panhandle. Three years!

I'll be honest, this week has not been quite an I'm-loving-Wewa type of week, but I read what I wrote last year about our move to Wewa and realize it all stands true.

In some ways, things have changed. Some relationships have grown, some situations have matured. In other ways, some things have not changed, which, depending on what it is, is frustrating, but I suppose if I was looking beyond the surface level it reveals room for growth.

Either way, we continue to plug along and learn more about this little place and the people in it. I pray God continues to teach us more.

I am thankful for God's provisions and the mercy and grace He offers to me!

5 a.m. wake up call

We're not morning people in our house but apparently, Addie was today.

Every now and then she'll exhibit some weird sleep pattern - waking up during the night and tossing and turning for a couple of hours or, waking up waaaay early, like this morning. I thought for sure, at 5 a.m., she'd fall back asleep. Not so. She did stay in bed until around 7, when Sabian got up with her and let me sleep, but that only lasted for about 20 more minutes.

Sheesh. I see an early nap time in our future.

This has been a week lacking in a lot of things. Namely, motivation. An earlier than normal wake up call doesn't help, either.

One thing I can say is that this week has been a good behavior week. Addie has been sweet and pretty obedient. It dawned on me yesterday that we've had few hairy moments, much unlike the previous couple of weeks.

Since I have no relevant current pictures for this post, here is one from exactly a year ago, doing what she should have been doing at 5 a.m.

 I think we were on our way back to Wewa from Missouri after attending the wedding of one of Sabian's friends. We were just out of town a couple of weeks ago, but this makes me want to go on another trip!

Today I am thankful for a pretty smooth week with Addie. Her sweetness has been a lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ahoy, mateys! Addie's water park debut

Yesterday we beat the heat at a water park in Panama City Beach with some of our youth group. With no fear of rain (we haven't had any substantial rain in weeks) we took off, armed with our waaaay discounted tickets thanks to a friend from church.

I camped out most of the day at the Tadpole Hole with Addie, which was fine with me, but did get a couple of breaks to run off and have fun on some of the rides. Addie was fairly content to wander through the water and went down a few of the slides, but primarily hung out in the shallow pools and climbing up and down some of the kiddie amusements rather than really riding them. We did practice some kicking and she wore her water wings for a bit so she could float.

I was really interested to see her reaction to being there. My intention was to get her into swimming lessons this summer, something I really wanted her to do last summer and was determined to do this year. But, the more I thought about it and the more I observed her I felt like we'd push it off just a little longer. She doesn't seem quite ready. Granted, I could probably take her and at some point she might get used to it, but for us, taking on the commitment for swimming lessons is kind of a big deal. Our nearest option is close to an hour away, every day for two weeks. As much as I wanted to do it and thought we could manage that just for the two weeks, I finally opted to wait until I saw more signs of readiness. My goal now is to have her in the water more this summer and get her into lessons later.

We had a great time yesterday and enjoyed a sunny day and I'm really glad Addie had as much fun as she did. No doubt she was worn out by the time we left, having missed a nap and played all day. Since one of us was always in the water with Addie while the other was fitting in some water slide time I dropped the ball a little on taking pictures but I snapped a couple before we left for the day.

Our summer adventures have begun. Along with conjuring up ideas for what to do on hot summer days we have Father's Day to think about, a youth trip to Atlanta for a conference, family visits to the area, youth camp (for Sabian), VBS and everything that pops up in between. Personally, I'm hoping soon for a date night with my husband!

Today I am thankful for a little rain we've had this afternoon. It wasn't as much as we need but I kind of like the cloudy day!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Are you really fond of me yet? Seems I keep saying how much I dislike leaving my blog dormant and then I leave it, well, dormant.

But, all for good reasons. Yes, we've been busy, but who isn't? Since I last posted we celebrated an anniversary, a sweet friend's first birthday, Wewa's graduation and then took a 12 hour ride to Illinois to celebrate some more. This time, it was my oldest nephew's high school graduation and a wedding that Sabian officiated.

Our time home flew by, as usual. It was good to be there, super busy, but we got to see our families and Addie showed her moves on the dance floor at the wedding. All night. Seriously, she was on the dance floor the entire time - except for a cupcake and water break!

A few photos from our adventures:

Horse & buggy ride with Ivory & Jason at Micah's birthday party.

Goose egg! Glad it's in her hand and not on her head :)

Playing with the bunnies & goats at Wewa's Tupelo Honey Festival.

I'm pretty sure these bunnies were doing their best to hide from all of the curious hands in this pen!

Sweet goats. Almost wanted to take one home. Almost.

Sandwiched by goats!

A member of our youth group, Jacob, praying at graduation.

What Addie did to occupy herself during part of the graduation ceremony.

Monkeys at the zoo!

Probably one of Addie's zoo favorites.

Up close and personal.

Counting monkeys.

A little cool and rainy but fun nonetheless!

So close we could've probably reached out and touched him.

Now counting zebras.

Ew. Creeped me out.

Getting a better view.

Enjoying an uncrowded zoo.

Despite the misty day, we had a lot of fun!

Giving The Look.

Feeding a mommy & baby otter.

High speed!

The cousins arrive for fun at the zoo.

Searching for more monkeys.

Sabian pulling double duty.


Waiting for the wedding to begin.

Father daughter dance.

"All of these people are dancing for ME?!"

Addie, Stephen & the Cha Cha Slide.

Chillin' with Dodah & Eden.

Stretching out our legs in Alabama on the way back to Wewa.
Hanging with Daddy on the long way back.

And here we are, back in Wewa, settling back into everyday life. We've been experiencing the not so fun parts of being two the last couple of weeks but all in all we're just working on getting back into routine. Here in the panhandle, routine means hot and the heat is coming out in full force. Makes me miss the cooler temps we had while we were home.

I am thankful for a safe, good trip! Hope we can make it again soon.