Exploring the Land of the Midnight Sun

This past week I vacationed in Alaska with my husband, my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, my three nieces, and my nephew.

Here’s a photo of the squad.

This trip has been in the works for almost two years! My mom traveled to Alaska two summers ago with a group of her friends, and she had the absolute time of her life. When she came home, she couldn’t stop talking about the adventures she’d had and her desire for all of us to make the same trip.

(Here’s just a glimpse of the beauty we witnessed in AK)

But you and I know vacations are never as glamorous as they appear in the photos we capture, and this trip was no different. Traveling with ten humans is no joke. Some of us are introverts; others are extroverts. Some of us like to sleep in; others like to stay up late. You have shower schedules and people with varying appetites. Not everyone likes mustard on their sandwiches.

We also came to realize that even though we’re blood, we’re not always the best communicators.

Still, this trip was special. Being a long distance Auntie, it really meant a lot to be with my kiddos, to ride with them in the bed of a truck, to play cards with them on a ferry, to cheer them on as they reeled in fish, and to listen to their riddles.

Here they are, from oldest to youngest!

      

     

They each have wildly different personalities and from each of these precious young humans I gleaned something special this week.

In no particular order, here are some of the bits of wisdom I collected from these kids.

  1. Don’t be afraid to somersault when everyone else is walking
  2. Never give up, even if you continually reel in seaweed
  3. Share your talents, even among strangers
  4. Make friends wherever you go

There ya have it. In keeping with my Gratitude Series, this week I’m most thankful for the opportunity to vacation with my family, even if we are a crazy bunch.

What are you most grateful for this week?

XO

T. Shaw

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Happy Father’s Day

Today, I’d like to wish all you dads a Happy Father’s Day! Yesterday, we spent time in San Diego, CA, to honor my dad. We didn’t take any pictures, but I’d like to add an oldie but a goodie of my parents.

He is an incredibly selfless, hardworking man. When I picture him, he’s outside working in the yard, wearing a white T-shirt, jeans, and a bucket hat to block out the sun.

He is loyal and loving, and I am extremely blessed to have him as my own.

XO

T. Shaw

Her Pen Pal

For my nephew

Her Pen Pal

Through the bay window
One eye may spy
Six humans, a chattering of chicks,
A Doberman duo, a duckling duet,
And one cat with a gimp.

Their lives orchestrated by
Slap shots, take downs, touch
Downs, layups, yellow cards,
Major scales, call times, and
Camping trips.

Still the boy finds time for
Dear Auntie,
To share about his day,
What’s keeping him busy,
How he celebrated Easter, and
That he relly enjoys when
She writes back.

Monday Night Bible Study

I’m rarely plagued by loneliness. I can spend hours alone in my home and be perfectly content. In fact, the only time I ever experience loneliness is when I’m in a crowded room. It can be difficult for me to build connections with new people and even more difficult to sustain those connections.

As a person who enjoys lounging in my comfort zone, I’m tempted to avoid large group settings. Even so, I’ve always enjoyed attending the women’s Bible study at my church. There I am able to worship alongside a large group of women, and then we break up into small groups for discussion.

However, for almost two years, Monday night Bible study has conflicted with my school schedule. Even though I wasn’t able to attend the study, I continued to do the Bible study by myself. I believe time spent in the word of God will always be fruitful. I can say the Lord ministered to me in the comfort of my own room and that it was a necessary season.

This semester I no longer have class on Mondays, and I have been able to officially rejoin the group. This past Monday, we met in someone’s home to belatedly celebrate Valentine’s day. While eating spaghetti and lasagna, I witnessed the love of Christ in these women. We vary in age; some could be my sisters, mothers, or grandmothers. Some are single; others are married. Our group is composed of a stay at home mom, a surgical tech, a teacher, a nurse, an executive, a student, among many other occupations. God has also empowered each of these ladies with unique spiritual gifts. Some are listeners. Some serve.

For this reason, I wholeheartedly praise God for the diversity within the body of Christ.

Upon opening a valentine,  Colossians 3:14 was taped inside.

“Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Colossians 3:14-16

Happy 62 Years

I remember calling my mom from Italy to tell her I was going to take a semester off from college. She cried, fearing I’d probably never go back. The whole time I talked to her on the phone she used the pronoun “we.” We don’t want you to take a break. We don’t think it’s a good idea. However, she told me to call my dad after he got off work. This suggestion terrified me. I’ve always been a mama’s girl, and my dad can be difficult to read. Plus, my mom had already established it was going to be two against one.

Still, I bit the bullet and picked up the phone. I expressed to my dad that I needed time, time out of school to work on me. I can picture myself giving my speech, making those pinkie promises to return to college, and that moment of silence where I anxiously waited for his reply.

He surprised me by speaking about his time in the military, how he traveled the world, living in Hawaii and Guam or the time he visited the White House in Washington D.C. He told me it was important not to rush life, and that it was okay to take the time I needed.

I’ve been blessed with two incredible parents. Both of them supported my short detour and so many more after that.

But, today I want to wish my dad a very happy birthday. I love you so much.

xoxo

 

Reliving 2017’s Highlights

So, my husband started his very own blog a few days ago, and I’m already stealing his cool ideas. (Feel free to stalk)

Let’s look at my 2017 “top nine!”

1) These pictures were taken by my personal photographer, my mom. She’s not an actual photographer, but I’m really awkward in front of a camera, so I need someone who can lovingly force me to smile.

2) This picture is special, because it’s the day our best friends, Kevin and Shadie, got married, and my husband and I both got to be in the wedding and walk down the aisle together.

3) My hubby and I spent Christmas Eve with my very cute parents. We actually live with them right now, but it’s a blessing, because they’re wonderful and we have ZERO student loans!

4) This one time my husband and I threatened to throw a potluck vowel renewal for our dear friends, and lo and behold, our friends basically ended up planning wedding #2. We definitely feel responsible.

5) Christmas with the Shamus! These peeps are my dear in-laws, and I loved them even before I loved my husband. My father-in-law was even my boss well before Danny and I started dating.

6) More pics from Shadie’s and Kevin’s wedding. Our anniversaries are three days apart, so one year we’ll have to celebrate together!

7) My husband won a contest at work, and the prize was Disneyland passes! This means I get to spend a lot more time with the beloved KaylaAnn, because she and her FIANCÉ have passed too. (They just got engaged) 😉

8) Kamie and I’s friendship blossomed this year after I found out she was a fellow book lover! We even started our own book club. 🙂

9) My brand new nephew is the cutest little guy! I wish I wasn’t a long distance auntie!

Happy New Year, everyone! Stay safe, and see ya in 2018!

ALSO, I now have 50 followers and on New Year’s Eve! Thank you all sooo much for making today all the more special. ❤️

Xoxo

T. Shaw

Christmas Cold

Did Christmas make anyone else sick?! I consider myself a healthy person, but then I stray from routine, stay up a little later, and bam I’m in bed with a box of tissues. Oh well.

I had a very merry Christmas. My husband and I spent Christmas Eve with my side of the family, and then we drove to Nevada that night to spend Christmas with Danny’s parents, his sister and her husband, and our baby nephew Elijah. The time we have together is extremely valuable, because we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like.

Here’s a picture of the lovely bunch!

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Now that we all have Instagram, we get to share glimpses of our lives with those we love. However, as we all know, pictures never tell the full story, which is why the good Lord made captions. Just kidding. I think this is something we are all aware of by now, but what does that mean? How does that translate?

On Christmas Eve, I was at church and ran into one of my friend’s mom. She shared with me that this was the first Christmas all her children were married. Her home would be empty for the first time. However, she said this with a smile, because all of them would return to celebrate Christmas at her house.

I was immediately taken back to the year my brother got married to Rachel. I was twelve. They wed in October, and I can clearly visualize him coming home one day to collect his Christmas ornaments to take to his new apartment to put on his own tree. One that didn’t include me. I can’t express how hurtful that day was. I was still a kid, and I think that was the first time I realized my Christmases, my life, would look very different from then on.

As I was telling this story to my friend’s mom, she asked, “Is that the only sibling you have?”

Without even thinking, I said, “No. I have a sister, but she’s never lived with me. So, she’s didn’t have ornaments on our tree.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wished I could take them back. As if somehow, that would make them less true.

But I was immediately comforted by her response, “I understand; we have a blended family too.”

Truly, my family is blended so well that I don’t even remember we have different parents most of the time, but then I run into those small moments that remind me that I do. Christmas is a magical time, but it’s also a season that heightens our expectations and emotions. As friends post pictures of their Christmases, we can start to believe all sorts of different things.

This Christmas, I’m grateful for the family God gave me. He has blessed us through love, marriage, and even divorce. How great that I serve a God who “works all things together for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose” – Romans 8:28.

Now that Christmas (Blogmas) is over, I’m not totally sure where this blog is headed, but stay tuned. I’ll be brainstorming the next couple of days and deciding which days of the week I’ll be posting.

Thank you to all of my readers! I so appreciate your encouragement and support.

xoxo

Blogmas Day 17: Games for the Fam this Holiday Season

Happy Blogmas Day 17! I’m going to step outside of my norm and do something a little different today. We’ll see how it goes!

I don’t normally play board games, because the instructions are too complicated or the game has one too many rules.

But, I married a guy who loves games, and it does give our family something to do together.

Therefore, this post is for the non-gamer like me, who thinks Sorry and Uno are where it’s at. Maybe you can choose one of these games to play with your family this holiday season. 🙂

  1. Wits & Wagers: Party Edition

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Players: 4+
Ages: 8+

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This is a trivia game, and every question will be answered with a number.

Here are sample questions & answers:

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The great thing about these trivia questions is that it is rare that anyone knows the exact answer (or number). So, it’s anyone’s game. Also, it is not about guessing the right (or closest) answer, but about betting on the right answer (which may not be the answer you provided).

This is a quick game, approx. 30 min and that might even include two rounds (another reason why I like it).

2. Dicecapades

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Players: 2-6
Ages: 12+

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Basically, this game is about playing with as many dice as you can.

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This game consists of three categories, Actionland, Thinkingtown, and Triviaville. Here are examples of each.

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I like this game, because it’s simple, it occasionally gets you out of your seat, and it has a little something for everyone.

The only downfall of this game is that, if small children are anywhere in a 30 mile radius, some of those dice will go missing.

3. Loaded Questions: The Classic Game of ‘Who Said What’

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Players: 4-6
Ages: Teen-Adult
(I have played with my nieces and nephew while they were in elementary school, and they had no problems answering the game’s questions.)

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During each player’s turn, he or she will read a question that corresponds to the space he or she has landed on.

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These questions are broken into four categories, Hypotheticals, Anything Goes, No-Brainers, and Personals.

After reading the question aloud, the other players will write down their answers in secret. The player will then have to guess who wrote each answer.

I love this game, because it sparks conversation and many times the answers will surprise you! Do you really know who you live with?

This game can be long. The last time I played with my family it took 2 1/2 hours to complete, but the time honestly flies. Plus, you can always take a brief intermission to eat some pie!

4. Monopoly Empire

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If you hate Monopoly like me, this game is for you! If you love Monopoly like my husband, this game is also for you!

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This game only takes 30 minutes at the most!

It is pretty similar to the original Monopoly, except instead of trying to be the last one standing, you win by being the first person to build your tower. You build your tower by buying properties. Notice, the properties’ sizes depend on how expensive they are. This game also involves a great deal of luck. You might get a “chance” card that changes everything. 😉

5. Coup

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Players: 2-6
Ages: 13+

This is a game of deception. Unless, you’re not a good liar like me, and you just tell the truth the whole time, but I’ve won that way too!

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Each player is given two character cards and a cheat sheet, which explains the action and counteraction specific to each character. This is so handy for people like me! No way to get lost.

The point of this game is to kill everyone (either by assassination or a coup).

Each player keeps their characters secret, which means they can pretend to be characters they aren’t (as long as they don’t get caught!).

Coup reminds me of the game Mafia. However, unlike Mafia, there are no teams. It’s every man for himself.

 

Those are my five suggestions, folks! Let me know if you have played any of the games mentioned or if you have found one you’d like to try!

xoxo