Tuesday, June 23, 2015

THESE are the days!

Every phase that my kids have gone through since they were born, with the exception of the "attached to my hip 24/7 phase", has been so much fun!
I try to enjoy every single moment as it comes and I try to keep it ALL in perspective, even during "the worst of times", because I always know that just around the corner will be "the best of times".
This past weekend was one of those. We took a last minute Father's Day trip to Ross Bridge, our favorite weekend getaway spot. It was one of those weekend that I just really enjoyed being with my family.
As we were at the swimming pool on Friday, the thought occurred to me that THESE are my most favorite times. THIS is my favorite "phase" of life that my kids have been in so far. Their current ages/stages are so much fun.
What I love the most is that they are still young. They still technically need me for a lot of things. So, I still get to perform the job I love the most, which is being their mom. They still love to do things like jump 452 times off the side of the pool! Yet, I don't necessarily have to be IN the pool with them during all 452 jumps! I can actually sit on the side of the pool or sit in my chair and just keep my eyes on them. That's why I think that this is my favorite stage of life. I am getting to experience the best of both worlds.
This was the first time that Dennis and I were able to sit by the pool while they swam at night, without one of us having to be in the pool with them. It was a wonderful weekend that we got to spend as #TeamPhillips!

We also got to celebrate this amazing dude in the pics above. He deserves to be celebrated. He is the opposite of a "sideline dad". He is quite the contrary. He is involved in every aspect of their lives and he is the reason we celebrated on Sunday. If every dad was like him, kids these days wouldn't have the issues that they do! He is simply amazing and despite the fact that he didn't grow up with a perfect father to model after, he has broken the mold and blows my mind with the kind of dad that he is. Sadie and Sawyer are so lucky to have him! He does everything for them and works so hard to make sure that they are well taken care of. He never ceases to amaze me and I am so thankful for him!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Hard Good-bye

Just a little over a month ago, I had to say good-bye to my Memaw. After a year long battle with pancreatic cancer, it finally took its toll on her body and took her down...quickly. It was so strange because she had done so well for the whole year. She had not only been living with pancreatic cancer for a year...she had been thriving with pancreatic cancer for year. Its hard to look back over this past year and really remember all that she was going through. I remember many times being at her house and watching her walk out the door for numerous doctor appt's, procedures, tests, etc. But, she was always the strong one. We would all fall apart, but she always seemed so "ok".
I never thought I would be so thankful that a few years ago she asked me and Rachel to start cleaning her house. In the busyness of lives, it's hard to make that time to go and just "visit". But, with us cleaning every other week, it allowed us so much time to go and be with her and Pepaw. My kids were able to spend lots of time there and they too became closer to Memaw because of it.
The last few weeks with her were H-A-R-D. It didn't really become evident what was happening until probably the very last 2 weeks. There were days that we thought she'd stay around for many more months, and then there were days that we thought she wouldn't make it through the day. It was hard for me to know when she was in her "right" mind. I always wonder when her mind took her from wondering why we were all there so much to knowing why we were all there so much. It was really hard when she was finally reduced to only being in the bed. I remember watching mom, Barbara, and Bethie take care of her at her bedside. There were many moments of laughter when Memaw would "wake up" and start trying to figure out who was cooking dinner and getting Pepaw where he needed to be, etc. She was worrying and planning literally up to the VERY end! One day, mom and I were sitting with her, and mom told her that it was ALL taken care of and that she didn't need to worry about anything at all. Memaw did a huge SIGH, and said "oh, thank you" and shut her eyes again. It was like the weight of the world had been taken off of her shoulders. Her 87 years of worrying were finally released. LOL
Being with the family was the best part of the whole situation. There were many times that we would laugh until we cried.
The very last days were the hardest. I had done lots of research on what all happens to a body in the last days of pancreatic cancer. Sure enough, each time I went by there, it seemed as though another "sign" was pointing her to the end. I woke up on Sunday morning, April 26th, and felt a horrible gut feeling of overwhelming anxiety. I texted my mom before church and wondered if that day would be "the day". We all went over there after church and then I went back over there that afternoon. She was in bad shape. She didn't wake up at all and the sound of "death rattles" filled her room. Pepaw sat sweetly by her and held her hand. He sang to her and fulfilled his vow of "til death do us part".
I've never been more thankful to be able to have that "closure" with her. When my other Grandma died almost 2 years ago, I had no idea until after it happened, and I never got that opportunity with her. Closure is so important; especially when it comes to death.
So many came to her visitation and funeral. It was wonderful to see so many faces of people from our past. We became reconnected with friends that we haven't seen in years, and my mom was even able to go on a girls trip with 3 sisters that she has known most of her life, but had lost touch with.
It was hard to walk up to the casket and say that final "goodbye". Oh, what a wonderful Memaw she was. I have nothing but good memories of her and I will miss her forever.
What brought me to write this blog was when I was cleaning her house yesterday. That's what she would've wanted me to keep on doing. Even though it doesn't get too dirty anymore, she always loved a clean house! Every time I clean now, her voice follows me into every room. Each room brings me happiness and sadness. I can still hear her voice and her presence is still all over that house. I took a few pictures to remind me of things about her.
There was a bird that built a nest and had babies right after Memaw passed away. Pepaw enjoyed watching them every day until they flew away. Even though the nest is now empty, we know that the memories will remain forever!

These are just a few things that sit around her room and haven't changed. I can't bring myself to unplug her toothbrush, file her books away on a shelf, hang up her purse, or put her slippers up.

And lastly, she always wanted me to keep this clean. She wanted this window clean and her little hummingbird to be hanging right there. :)

Our promise to Memaw remains...we WILL take care of Peeps! We will make sure he is ok until the Lord is ready to reunite them. I will never forget hearing him say to her as he said his final goodbye at her casket: "Jump for Joy because I will be there soon!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Take me out to the ballgame...

Just a quick post to brag on my little buddy. He got his very first homerun at his game the other night! It was a LEGIT homerun too! He hit it HARD into the outfield and ran every base and slid into Home plate. It was precious! He has a lot of humility, so he acted like it wasn't a big deal, but we were so proud of him. Dennis had to hold back the tears for sure. Such a proud moment for all of us!
His little buddy, Stockton, also got a homerun that night, so we had to get their cute picture!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Disney World: Take 2!

We left for Disney last Saturday around lunchtime. Traveling in the car for long distances is sooooooo much easier than it used to be! The kids literally watched a few movies and played on their IPads the whole entire time. I remember a few years ago when we would travel, I wouldn't be able to sit still for more than 5 minutes without having to open a new snack, hand them something they'd dropped on the floor, or digging through a whole "travel fun bag" of stuff to bust out once an hour. We hadn't originally planned on driving all the way to Orlando on Saturday, but we ended up doing just that. We stayed just outside of Kissimmee, so we would only have about 30 minutes to drive to our condo the next morning. We arrived at our hotel, promptly around 2:00 a.m., just after driving through the shadiest neighborhood outside of Orlando, and encountering a scene that I can only compare to Boyz In Tha Hood, at a gas station.
We arrived at our condo on Sunday and checked in and got unpacked. We met Daren, Rachel, McHaney, and Alba and we all went to Downtown Disney. Apparently DD is undergoing a major renovation, so the traffic to get in was horrible. The boys dropped us off at a sidewalk and we did some fast shopping!
After DD, we went to eat dinner at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. It was delicious!!! It was even better than I had remembered it being last time. Y-U-M! I also must add that we were up until about 2:00 a.m. (again) because our air conditioner wasn't working.
No air + record heat in Orlando = not happy vacationers (on a side note...they never really fixed it)
Monday morning, we got up and started out at Magic Kingdom. My tears started as soon as we walked up to Cinderella's Castle and watched a Mickey Mouse show that had just begun on the front steps. I wish there were words to explain what I feel when I see the look in my kids' eyes as they watch things like that. It leaves me speechless. There is a reason they call it Magic Kingdom. Everything is MAGIC! I even find myself at times screaming out (loudly) Mickey and Minnie's names and waving for them to please look my way and blow me a kiss. (what is wrong with me?) I mean, everyone called Sadie "princess" and called Sawyer "prince Charming". Everyone. Even the policeman that checks your bag as you come into the park. All of the employees WANT to talk to you and carry on a conversation. There's no way that they get paid enough to actually be THAT happy. They just love what they do in that magical place. I can't say that I blame them. Daren and I, in a matter of about 3 minutes during a parade one night, literally planned out both of our family's futures if we lived at DisneyWorld, complete with Deb being the Fairy godmother!! (side note: we made sure to point out that she would only be available to do the 9:00 p.m. parade, but not the 11:00 p.m. parade, because she goes to bed too early...LOL)
Anyways, we spent the better part of the day at Magic Kingdom riding all of our favorites! We started with Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We did Mickey's PhilharMagic Show, which is one of my favorites! We watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade, which quickly became one of my favorite parades EVER. We just happened upon it as we were walking, and it was amazing! It had several of the princesses in it, and Sadie got to see Elsa and Anna for the first time. It also had Maleficent's fire-breathing dragon, which was so neat! We went to the condo for a little while and then came back for dinner at the Beast's castle. It was gorgeous!!! We got to meet the Beast! It was such a neat atmosphere (the red napkins were folded into the shape of a rose) and the food was delicious! We finished off the night by riding the new Little Mermaid ride, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. We of course watched the Electric Parade at 11:00, and then Sadie and I went right before midnight and luckily got in line to meet Elsa and Anna. It was so neat! She was speechless and it was so cute to watch her get nervous to meet them. It was a great first day, even though we didn't get home until about 1:30 in the morning! (side note: this was the 3rd night in a row to go to bed close to 2 a.m....keep on pushin!)
Day 2 started at Animal Kingdom. We began with the Safari. It wasn't as good as last time we went, but we still saw some neat animals. We had fun watching the Gorillas play around afterwards. One of them kept bending all the way over and showing his rear end. It was quite comical to watch and the kids thought that part was hilarious. We rode Dinosaur (beware of whiplash) and then rode Expedition Everest. It was awesome, although when it started going backwards, I felt like I was going to hurl! The kids really loved all of the big roller coasters this year, which made it so much fun! We left Animal Kingdom and rested shortly at the condo before heading to Epcot for dinner. We met the other Phillips fam and we all went to a restaurant in Mexico so that we would have fabulous seats for "Wishes", the water/light/fireworks show on the water in Epcot. It was gorgeous!
Day 3, we surprised the kids and went to LEGOLAND. It was only about a 40 minute drive, so we slept in a little bit and headed that way. Our opinion on LEGOLAND is that it was a bit of a let-down. After riding amazing roller coasters and rides for the past 2 days, all of the rides at this park left a lot to be desired. Plus, nobody calls you "princess" at LEGOLAND. Just sayin...
There were some really neat things there, especially the whole Lego Town, but the rides were extremely short and it just seemed more like a "Fair", than a theme park. The shows were a bit silly (ok, they were stupid), and the whole park was definitely geared more towards a younger crowd. The kids had a blast and they loved it, but Dennis and I thought it was going to be a lot better than it was.
We headed back to the condo and got ready for dinner the the House of Blues at Downtown Disney. It was very good!!!! Its one of our favorite restaurants, so we had to go back! We walked around Downtown Disney and shut down the World Of Disney store. (and by "shut down", I mean that we had a certain child who couldn't make a decision on what he wanted to buy, so walked from room to room over and over again while the employees ever-so-kindly kept asking us if we needed any help, when actually, we know they were just wanting us to hurry the heck up and get outta there!) We enjoyed delicious treats from Ghiradelli and just had fun walking around and listening to all of the different music and seeing all there is to see down there.
Thursday morning, we got up early and opened up Hollywood Studios. We wanted to get there early so that we could get on Tower of Terror! And, we had a Fast Pass mix-up that we needed to get sorted out. The Tower of Terror was just that. Terrorizing!!!! Rides don't normally scare me, but this ride literally made me almost pass out. It totally freaked me out, beyond anything I've ever done! Everytime the ride would "drop", I would almost black out! It was awful!!! My kids both loved it, but I definitely did NOT! We got our Fast Pass situation fixed, and the nice guy even gave us 3 free Fast Passes to use at any time during the day. Yay! We rode the Great Movie Ride, went on the Honey I Shrunk the Kids movie set, saw the gold Cinderella Carriage from the new Cinderella movie, and did Toy Story Mania. We also did the Rockin Roller Coaster, and it was probably my favorite ride of the whole week! It was sooooooo fast and so neat! We could've ridden it a hundred times!!!
We rode the ferry boat over to Epcot so that Sadie and I could have lunch at Akershus in Norway with the Princesses. It was so much fun. I was so incredibly thankful that even at 8 years old, she was still completely fascinated by all of the Princesses. She got her picture made with Belle as soon as we walked in. We got to see Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel while we were eating. I had a delicious Butternut Squash ravioli. It was sooooooo good!!! I had the best time with Sadie. It was just the 2 of us. Dennis and Sawyer had gone to do Test Track while we were eating. I realized during lunch how incredibly blessed I am to have her as my daughter. She is growing into such a precious young lady, and I am completely smitten by her. We laughed more together this week than we probably have in our whole lives. I feel like I "get" her and she "gets" me. I can reason with her. I can be honest with her. I love to sit back and just watch her. Her face lights up all of the time. I could cry just thinking about it. That girl is filled with more love and joy than any other little girl I know. She still has the tendency to be nervous or anxious about trying new things, which totally preserves her innocence. But, she's also showing me that she's ready for a little independence. And, I know I can trust her. For now. She cares from deep inside her heart and she still has that desire to please, but she's also learning to express her opinion...with love; not with attitude. I love her more than life and I was so lucky to be able to steal these few moments with her, where it was just the 2 of us! I laughed at how she would rock back and forth in her chair as soon as any princess would come up to our table. She would fidgit with her hands and get so nervous the whole time she would talk to them. She was speechless and I loved it!
We met back up with up Dennis and Sawyer and the other Phillips', and we went and met Jasmine and Aladdin. They were precious!
The 4 of us rode the ferry back over to Hollywood Studios to meet the other Phillips' for dinner at Hollywood & Vine. We left from dinner and went to the Frozen Sing a Long. It started off a little slow because it was all on video, but then as it went on, it became magical. At the end, Elsa came out and sang "Let it Go". It started "snowing", and the girls got SO excited. They jumped up from their seats and started reaching for the snow and singing...and of course my tears started to F-L-O-W!!!! Dennis started hysterically laughing because he didn't realize that I was crying. It was quite funny. It was a magical moment for sure. I will never forget!
After that, we jetted to the amphitheater to see Fantasmic. Holy cow! It was unbelievable!!!!!! I've never seen a show like that in my entire life! It was crazy GOOD!
We ran as fast as we could to go and get on the Tower of Terror with all of them. I was still scared to death, but I ended up laughing so hard at McHaney's face, so it made it a little easier to handle. We went and rode the Rockin Roller Coaster one more time to finish off the night. We went to the bakery afterwards to get some treats and the bottom fell out of the sky! It was pouring down rain. We couldn't find our car in the parking lot! Looking back, it was kind of funny, but at the time, it was frustrating, because we were all soaking wet! We had no ponchos and we were walking through huge puddles! Finally, we found it!!! (thanks to my red, white, and blue glittery Mickey Mouse antenna head! Ok, not really, because we couldn't see it in the dark, but I really want to believe that I purchased that thing for a good reason!)
Our last morning began with breakfast at Chef Mickey's. Sawyer was so excited!!!! We had a great time getting to see all of the characters!
We headed straight over to Magic Kingdom to finish off our day. I was so sad that it was our last day. We went right when we got there over to AdventureLand and I was able to have my first Dole Whip. There are no words. It was better than I had imagined! We met the other Phillips' for our Pirate Adventure that Rachel had planned. It was soooooo neat!!! They each got a pirate name and each got to sit in a chair and be made up to be a pirate. They all looked SO cute! They got to go in a secret pirate room and have their pictures made, etc. It was really, really neat. Disney doesn't hold back on anything!!! We left after that to go home and rest for just a minute because we knew that we would want to shut the park down that night. We came back in time for our Fast Passes to start. We went to Tales with Belle first. It was ok. I think its geared more towards the younger crowd, but it was still neat, because it's new, so it's all done very cool! After that, we walked over to Belle's village and did a little shopping. Dennis went and got a cinnamon roll and an apple drink from Gaston's Tavern and he said it was delicious! We went and rode Space Mountain and met the other Phillips' to get a spot for the Electric Parade, the Light Show on the castle, and the fireworks. All of the shows were so amazing!!! I cried during the fireworks, as I figured I would. When you hear "When You Wish Upon a Star", there's just nothing like it! Once it was over, we went to get another Dole Whip (ha ha) and then we went to ride Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. We also used our last Fast Pass to ride the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and I loved it!!!! We rode Splash Mountain again and then Sadie and I went to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel before the park closed. Dennis and Sawyer literally ran to ride Space Mountain one more time. We did one last Team Phillips huddle before leaving the castle and headed out. It was by far a magical trip. I wouldn't change a thing!
I think it is so incredibly important to do family vacations with just your immediate family. I want my kids to grow up with memories of having fun TOGETHER on vacations. I don't want all of their memories to be with friends! Of course, I know that its important to make those memories with friends as well, but I want vacation memories to be with my family. I will always remember hearing Beth Moore say one time that one of her biggest regrets was always letting her 2 daughters take friends with them on their family vacations. She said that all of their memories were of their friends, instead of each other. My kids have so much fun together. They get along wonderfully and they love each other more than anything. They don't "need" anyone else in order to have fun. They have just as much fun with each other as they do with any other friend. Probably more! We laughed more as a family than we ever have before. We laughed several times to the point of crying. We made lots of inside jokes and we grew a million times closer as a family. I cherish those things more than anything else. We walked through the parks waving our glowing/blinking/light-up Light Sabers, singing, shouting, and couldn't care less who stared at us!
I couldn't be more thankful to God for allowing us to take this vacation together as a family. We were blessed, both big and small, and I am thankful for each one.