Facing Fears- Six Flags Magic Mountain

ColossusLuke had never been to Magic Mountain and I did not want his first time there to be on a field trip with his school, I wanted to be there the first time he faced his fears to ride a roller coaster, so when he asked to go this Summer, I consented, even though my roller coaster riding days had long since ended. I remember my first time going to Magic Mountain, when the mascot was a red headed troll character, but all I remember was how long it took us to drive there. The first time I remember being really afraid of a roller coaster was when I rode the stand-up roller coaster, Shockwave, with my Dad at King’s Dominion in Virginia. As soon as we got on the ride, I started to cry as the clicks took us up the first hill, and I wanted off desperately. My Dad said it was too late, I’d just have to make it through. When the ride was over I was begging to go again.   Luke’s turn came with a roller coaster called Revolution.  Luckily he had his cousin there to egg him on when he wanted to wimp out and he faced his fears to ride Revolution even though the loop scared him to death and just like my experience, it left him wanting to go again.

Flash

Scrambler

Batman Car

Lampoons Vacation

{I can’t even count the number of times we watched National Lampoon’s Vacation growing up, so this photo with the station wagon was epic for my brother and I}

Lampoon's Vacation

{As was this photo opportunity to pose as the Griswalds}

Colossus

{We ended our day with a ride on Colossus and just in time, since it will be closing down on 8.16.14}

Anniversary Getaway St. Regis

St Regis Monarch BeachFriday afternoon we headed down to the [St. Regis in Monarch Beach] for an anniversary getaway. Despite the traffic that took us 3 hours to get there, it was a really pleasant trip. They upgraded us to an executive suite and got us into the Monarch Bay Resort Club for dinner, even though reservations were full. I would say the best part about the trip was the deep conversations we were able to have with each other, once we decided to stop answering our phones. It’s quite astonishing how much you can say when you aren’t being interrupted every three minutes. We were still happy to come home to our little boy whom we missed madly but being away for one night near the beach was the perfect recharge.

St Regis Monarch Beach

11 years

Fountain

{Gorgeous fountain by the pool}

DSC_0076

DSC_0007 St Regis Monarch Beach

DSC_0003

{They upgraded us to an executive suite at no extra charge, which was nice}

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Executive Suite

Monarch Bay Club

{Last minute dinner plans at the Monarch Bay Club overlooking the Pacific}

Monarch Beach Sunset

{We strolled the beach after dinner to catch the sunset}

11 Lovely Years

Our First DanceThis weekend Jeff and I will celebrate 11 lovely years of marriage. When I think back on our wedding I am amazed at how far we’ve come in these 11 years together. We were really starting out our lives together from scratch but we started out on a strong foundation. Our faith and our values unite us.  Our friendship carries us.  Our love encourages us.   Our commitment to Christ reconciles us.  God has blessed us in these years.  I could not have imagined a better life.  My husband is a walking reminder to me of God’s grace.  I do not deserve a man this good. I am so blessed to love him. Happy Anniversary my Prince!

Wedding Cake{Our Wedding Day}

Lovers Point 2003{Our Courtship}

Gladstones 2002Myrtle Beach 2002DisneylandBranson Missouri 2006Trip to Maine 2006{Lobster in Maine on our trip to New England – 2006}

Dead Sea Float{Floating together in The Dead Sea 2012}

Marriage Guidepost{Our Marriage Guidepost}

US Capitol

US CapitolIt is always a thrill to tour historical sites, but there is something especially exciting to me about touring our National Monuments and places of government. My soul floods with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy whenever I am near them. I’m strange that way.  I tried to pass that excitement on to my son on this month’s trip to DC, but I’m not sure it was the same level of fun for him. Here are a few pictures from our tour inside the US Capitol building.

US Capitol

{The dome from the inside. That mural was painted entirely by hand. Crazy}

US Capitol

{these carvings are actually paintings made to look like carvings. very cool}

Ronald Reagan

{Each state contributes a statue to display.  CA gifted Ronald Reagan}

US Capitol

Alexander Hamilton

{Family portrait…Alexander Hamilton is an ancestor of Jeff’s on his Mom’s side}

Library of Congress

{See, he’s having fun! I’m almost certain I threatened him to get that smile}

Jefferson Library

{Jefferson Library}

Library of Congress

Capitol

{Outside the Library of Congress}

US Capitol

{Luke was ready for an ice cream by this time}

US Capitol

Lady Gaga

Lady GagaI have always been really lame when it comes to music. Growing up I basically just listened to whatever my parents listened to, which included a wide range of 8 tracks from Billy Joel to the Eagles to Bruce Springsteen to The Big Bopper. I liked music, but for me, it was never a passion. I didn’t play an instrument. I couldn’t sing to save my life and I could remember every word to a given song but never remember who sang it. Not much has changed in my adult life. I still don’t know who sings what, so when I ended up at Lady Gaga for a work event this week I was surprised to learn that she was responsible for some of the songs I had heard many times before, like ["Just Dance"].  Her show was quite the spectacle. Famous for her costumes, she wore lots of those. I wouldn’t recommend her show to anyone under the age of 21 because some of it was a bit scandalous, but she has quite a voice. I was touched by her song ["Born This Way"].  It says that “God makes no mistakes…I was born this way” and that is so true.  We are all born with unique talents and gifts that help us make our mark on the world.  On the other hand, we are also born with a human nature that comes with selfish desire.  Whether that be lying to get our way, or wanting what someone else has, or never being content, our selfish desires fuel our human nature toward lust, greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, strife.  We are all born this way, but God loves us too much to leave us this way.  There is hope for all of us because He offers to transform us by the renewing of our mind.  He offers His Spirit to fill us up and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  Freedom from the desires that plague us in our human nature. Freedom to truly live the abundant life He has created us for.  We were born this way but there is a rebirth available to all of us.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Lady GagaLady Gaga

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading ListIn high school I remember combing through the AP Honors Summer Reading list with eager anticipation to decide which three books I would choose to read before school was back in session. Books like [Jane Eyre], [To Kill a Mockingbird] and [Anna Karenina] are just a few that I remember really escaping into. I confess I had not looked at reading with such anticipation since those days. I’d often list “read at least one book” as a New Year’s Resolution and my best friend, who is an avid reader, used to tease me that I’d never make it through that one book. Something is different this Summer though. At this moment I am reading four books at once, and I read three last month. I am reading more than I ever have and for all different reasons. Some books I’m reading with Luke, some for my own spiritual guidance, some for help in business, and some for pure pleasure. I’m having fun learning, and discovering what it means to escape to other worlds again through books. It’s a fun season and I am hoping to make Summer reading lists a yearly tradition with my son. Here’s a clickable list of what’s on my nightstand this Summer:

2nd Grade Reading Books:

1) The Giver

2) The Trojan Horse

3) The Little Prince

4) Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

Spiritual Inspiration

1) Dreaming of More For the Next Generation

2) First Steps Out

3) The Power of a Praying Wife

Business

1) Leaders Eat Last

Fun

1) Divergent

2) Insurgent

3) Allegiant

4) Four

America: Imagine the World Without Her

Jeff and I had the rare privilege of going to the movies this weekend and saw Dinesh D’Souza’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her“.  Every American should see this movie because it’s a beautiful return to our nation’s roots and an amazing outsider’s perspective on the extent of freedom that America has brought to the world.  I admire Dinesh D’Souza’s courage to bring an alternative perspective to the one-sided-tale being spun to this generation that we are a nation to be ashamed of. America is the great experiment.  Let us be steadfast in passing on the legacy of freedom she has given to all of us.

Capital Ferris Wheel

Capital WheelDeep breaths. That is all I could think as I stepped into the air conditioned gondola to embark on our ride of the [Capital Wheel] at National Harbor. The ride operator smiled at us and closed the sliding doors shut. Immediately my heart began to race and I had to close my eyes to keep from feeling like I was going to run out of air in this little space that was circling around to heights of 180 feet above the Potomac.  I am always telling Luke to face his fears. For the past four years I have struggled with fear that strikes at random and paralyzes me, sometimes making me feel faint or short of breath and other times like I just have to run away as fast as I can.  It usually happens in tight or overcrowded spaces like elevators, amusement parks or airplanes, but I didn’t always used to be this way. My doctors told me I have autonomic neuropathy which essentially translates to a sensitive nervous system. As I sat on the ferries wheel, I reminded myself to be brave.  I learned a long time ago that the opposite of fear is faith. Someone once told me that fear stands for false evidence that appears real.  I reminded myself, “this isn’t real”.  I prayed that God would slow my heartbeat and I forced myself to open my eyes.  After a few more deep breaths and banning Luke from rocking the gondola, I was able to relax and enjoy the ride.  It made it easier to have the love of my life to hold onto.

Luke Ferris Wheel

Capital Wheel

Capital Wheel

Capital WheelNational Harbor

National Harbor

Breakfast at the White House

Breakfast at the White HouseWe stayed two blocks away from the White House on our trip to DC, so we decided one morning to grab coffee and pastries and walk down to the White House to enjoy our breakfast. My Dad arranged for me the privilege of touring the inside when I was about 10, but I was unsuccessful in passing the tradition on to my son this trip. You need to request tickets from your Congressman at least six weeks in advance.  My five-and-a-half-week-advance-request for tickets was denied unfortunately, so we had to settle for the [online tour] and breakfast out front.  It was still fun to soak in the idea of how many great men lived in this very house throughout our Nation’s history.

The White House

Breakfast at the White House

Breakfast at the White House

The White HOuse

The White House

The White House

Old Ebbit Grill

Old Ebbit GrillWe discovered the most amazing place for brunch in DC. It’s called Old Ebbit Grill. The food is fantastic, the ambiance is casual enough to bring little ones (they have a kids menu), yet grown up enough to feel like you’re out on a date (the velour booths add an extra element of sophistication) and the service is impeccable. We were so impressed with the peach and blackberry french toast that we came back for it twice within our five-day vacation.  If you are looking for a great place to take the family for brunch in DC, add Old Ebbit Grill to your itinerary.

Peach & Blackberry French Toast

{Peach and Blackberry French Toast}

Old Ebbit Grill

{Casual Elegance}

Revolutionary Artwork

{Inspiring artwork}

Old Ebbit Grill