NYC, a dream come true.

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I have had this dream for as long as I can remember to go to New York City.  In my mind it was the most magical place in the world, full of romance and colorful fall leaves.  Hand holding, book reading while laying under the swaying trees in Central Park, dogs running, nannies pushing prams.  New York City has it all.

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Then 9/11 happened and the desire in my heart went up another notch.  You see, I directly relate that day with the last day I held my baby, 9/14.  The two will always be forever mingled in my mind.  The week that truly rocked my world.

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Cam, in all his awesome husband-ness, booked us a trip to this city full of music and lights to celebrate our 17th anniversary.  Seventeen years with the boy I dreamed about, hoped for, and prayed to marry.

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The smile never left my face.  As we walked hand-in-hand, more in love today than we were all those years ago, everything seemed new and shiny.  We had pizza every single day.  This girl was in heaven!  We walked through Central Park, kissed under the bridge, rode the ferry to see Lady Liberty.  We spotted the golden balls of the big bull on Wall Street.  I drew the line at posing with them.  Gross.  We saw that naked cowboy that everyone talks about.

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We rented bikes and rode from one side of the city to the other.  In a skirt.  We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and stood on top of Rockefeller Center.  We went to the History museum and saw all the things made famous in the movie.   We went to the largest Macy’s ever in search of flip flops because all my shoes rubbed blisters on my feet despite being broken in.  New Yorkers apparently don’t wear flip flops, so we went into every shoe store we saw in hopes of spying the elusive rubber shoes. Those silver sandals I finally paid an arm and a leg for will forever be my most memorable pair of shoes.

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We went and saw Jersey Boys as a reminder of all the songs my daddy sang while I was growing up (beware of language for anyone thinking about seeing this show.  I was shocked at the bad language!)  We had a hot dog and ice cream from street vendors. We found a bagel shop and ate bagels and coffee every morning with the locals.  We soaked in the moments.  We made new memories that I will forever cherish.

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But I will never cherish them as much as I do this man.  I adore him with everything in me. I feel honored to call him husband.  He puts Jesus first, above us all.  He leads us into uncharted territory (while all his girls cry) because he is brave and obedient. Because we aren’t the most important.  And for this I am ever so thankful.

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I am also so very grateful that the Lord looked down at me with favor when I was a 14 year old girl asking Him to allow me to marry Cameron.  What a good, good Father!

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Why Chiangmai is worth your vacation days

CM1We love Chiangmai, Thailand!  Every chance we get to go visit, we are filled with excitement and anticipation for all the wonderful things we have found to love in this city.CM2Last May, we spent a few weeks in Chiangmai and visited the zoo.  Somehow, we missed half of it, so this year we went back with some friends who actually know how to see all the animals.  You’d think it was a no-brainer, but we somehow managed to miss most of them last time.  She let me hold her baby any time I wanted to, so I practically stole him for the week.  I think he was my favorite part of Chiangmai this time!CM3There are a ton of really odd things in Thailand, but we have learned that a lot of them are worth checking out.  This trip we went to the PooPoo Paper factory.  They turn elephant poop into paper and you get to participate.  Ellie stirred the poop soup, and we watched how the poop is cleaned, dyed, and turned into paper.  CM4It was a super fascinating process, and worth the $3 entrance fee to learn about.  Of course, they rob your wallet at craft time and in the adorable souvenir shop.  CM5Being a part of the paper making process in such a green way is something I hope my girls remember forever.  Most things can be recycled into something new if you use a little creativity.CM6Next up on the tour of Chiangmai was an Umbrella factory that makes paper umbrellas.  This was a different place than the one we went to last year.  This place was visited by Princess Diana, and we got to see the umbrella made to honor her.  We learned about Princess Diana in school this year, so the girls were able to make some connections, which made my teacher heart jump in excitement.  We also went to another Celadon factory (different than the one last year as well).  Celadon is a beautiful pottery handmade on site.  They are mostly pale green or bright blue unless they have been hand-painted.  I love it!CM7Sticky Falls is a place that was on our list of places we wanted to visit at some point, but hadn’t had the opportunity to go yet.  This year, we went with another mom and her kids (the same friend we went to the zoo with, so I had lots of baby holding time!).  The rock is limestone, so it is naturally gripping.  Unlike most waterfalls, you can climb right up the white rock without slipping.  It was gorgeous day of being in the outdoors that reminded us of how creative Father is!  I left feeling filled with thanksgiving at His perfect gifts.CM8Visiting Chiangmai without repeating the 3d museum wasn’t going to happen, so we took an afternoon and went back to immerse ourselves in the eye-catching illusions.CM9Faith’s personality shines through every image we captured.  She is turning into quite the comedian, always doing something that makes us giggle.  She isn’t afraid to be goofy, and it blesses my heart every time she does!CM10I played around this year so that I could text Cam pictures of all he was missing out on by being the studious student that he is.  As a sidenote, I am so proud of Cameron.  He will be graduating with a Master’s degree from Southwestern in December.  He will get to walk the stage while we are home, and it is a true testament to his ability to multitask and work hard.  So proud.CM11I love how one picture can capture every single girl perfectly.  Gracie is happy to sit all day reading or drawing.  Ellie can’t sit still for long at all, and Faith wants to be an actress.   One picture, three personalities, posed without any thought at all.  I love it.CM12I can’t get over how real the red platform in the sky looks.  It makes my belly tickle just looking at it!  And the pandas.  Pandas are so Chinese that we can’t pass by anything panda related without stopping and saying “awwwww”.  I love my long legged dangling girls in this one.CM13I am not a cat lover.  I appreciate their cuteness and the softness of their fur, but their attitudes are so unpredictable!  If they didn’t shed or turn on you without notice, I would love them.  The 3d cat was so much better than last year’s Catmosphere.   CM14Our friend from China joined us in Thailand for a few days of vacation, and my girls were on cloud 9!  They love being with friends, especially hip, single friends who make them feel like they could rule the world.  I was thinking of going on a magic carpet ride back to the beach, but I think I’d hate the beach without my Prince Charming, so I just went to the next really awesome piece of art instead.Cm15More cats.  I told you.  UN-PRE-DICT-ABLE.  You just never know about these sneaky creatures.

In the midst of all our activities, we ate.  A lot.  If you know us well, you know we love to eat.  We had bagels, hot dogs, pancakes, Auntie Annes, donuts, banoffee drinks (think banana Laffy Taffy married to iced coffee.  SO good!), root beer and Manao, burgers, Mexican food…I could keep listing, but I am starting to feel like a glutton.  And the need to go run.

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