Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Alaska: Day ONE

Well yesterday’s post was a cliff hanger.
I get it. You saw pics posted on this blog coming… 
Sometimes when I sit down to write I cant type fast enough and BAM… Somethings just come out!
Thanks for trying to follow along!
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for not judging me.
Thanks for all who LOVE me despite my crazy rants.

Where did I leave off?
That’s right…. Tickets, Manicures and feeding His sheep. That’s a lot to chew on.
So to answer the question you all walked away with… YES. I was able to get a manicure before my cruise. YES. I felt guilty doing it.

I said yesterday that I wanted to go back to come forward so that is what I plan to do. My next several posts will hopefully quickly bring you to present day…. These posts will include A LOT of photos from our trip.
Seriously we have a lot of catching up to do and I have a lot of photos to share. 

This leaves me with one option. Its time to share Mason's Make - A - Wish Trip with you.

Excuse my mood – or mindset – or whatever you want to label it as but I am only good for the cliff notes which also means I wont make it through all 8 days of our trip. 
This might take one - two - three days! Be patient. I will be timely. I promise.
After I am done with my edited cliffnote version there is still hope you will hear more about this trip! It really was a trip of a lifetime and I will surely be speaking about it and writing about it for years to come!

That being said here is my abbreviated cliff note version of Mason’s Make-A-Wish: Pictures included.
Sunday, August 31,2014      
This was the day of TRAVEL.
Seriously. No joke a LONG day of travel.
Sounded easy. Head to Vancouver Canada. Board the boat. Set sail.
What we failed to understand is that in one day (literally a few hours) we would be exiting and re-entering the United States.
Getting into Canada. Easy.
Getting ready to board the board to go back to America – SUCKY!
We literally went from ONE line to the NEXT LINE to the third line only to be seated to wait to get into the last line…. SERIOUSLY.
That process in itself is painful. Now add two tired and excited children! NIGHTMARE!

 All aboard. 
NO JUDGEMENT. It was an early morning, I was on vacation and on this day I wore ZERO makeup.

 Nana helped see us off. 
Thankful she woke up extra early to escort us to the train station.
(She even got us coffee)

 Mason's Wish Grantors.... 
He even brought them flowers from our garden to say THANK YOU!!!!

My kids do not tend to like loud noises... So as the train arrived she quickly covered her ears!

 Easiest part of the day... The train ride. It was relaxing, entertaining and had excellent views!

Mason was on cloud NINE!

 Nana both Mason and Kendall cards with a nice treat!

 We finally arrived and Mason got to exit the train first!
Which also meant we were the first inline for customs

 Train ride. NICE VIEW. 
Cab Ride. Not so much!

 Waiting in one of the many lines... Seriously they felt like they went on forever!

The time then came... We get to go onto the boat!!!

It was LOVE at first sight!

Mason wanted to celebrate so we bought him a Kid "cocktail"
Moments later that full $12 drink was spilled across the deck floor. In fact I am not even sure he had one sip of that Kid cocktail?!?!?

Party on the boat!

Finally it is dinner time!
Yes. I am still wear ZERO makeup. 

Bunk beds! Mason was in heaven that he finally got bunk beds and he was able to sleep on top!
Just goes to show it sometimes really is the little things that make someones day!

There is a highlighted version of day one.
I did post more details before I ran out of internet options. You can read that HERE.

I am flying home tonight from Eugene. If I can muster up the energy I will post about day 2 tonight. If not. You will have to wait until tomorrow!

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, September 29, 2014

First we go back....

Where to begin.

Things within my life are beginning to change and the feeling of unsettlement cannot be escaped or dismissed. 
The natural question you are probably asking me through your screen is “WHAT is changing”. 
That’s the million dollar question. It is almost like a "shift."
I can't put my finger on it. But it is changing.
What am I supposed to do about this - I don't know.

Thankfully today just when I needed it I came across this scripture: Psalm 27:14
“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart…”

I am not sure there could be a more fitting verse for me today.
Today. In this moment it brings me a feeling of peace and I remember that all within His time will His plan be revealed. My job remains. Wait on the Lord.

I know that you have all been anxiety awaiting a lot of photos from our make a wish trip and I assure you there are thousands (yes thousands) to share but with the events that have unfolded in my family I don’t find it appropriate to share today. If you find yourself asking what happened or how you can help - Click here

Because you have all been checking in often waiting on the photos I promised I will share a few.

I promise more photos and stories to come!

I feel like before I can go forward I first need to go back.
I would like to share a post that I wrote prior to Mason’s Make – A – Wish trip.
It was written the week before we left on August 28th.
Hopefully by sharing this post you will be able to better understand this change within me that I am still working through....

As written on August 28, 2014:

I was having a bad day.
Traffic was horrible and I thought I was going to miss my flight. This would be a first since I was in highschool! 
Just when I thought things couldn't get any more frustrating… I get pulled over.
Was I speeding (natural question with my driving record) – NO! I was going less than 5 mph on the freeway; remember traffic was horrible. 
So why did I get pulled over – EXPIRED TABS.

Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!

Where is Ashton. I literally thought I was being punk’d except yes my tabs were expired and NO this lady cop was not joking around!
I mean I didn’t even stand a chance – not even with my “fireman” sticker glaring at her from my back window got her to bat an eye.
So here is the light in my grim morning… I made my flight! However it was delayed due to a MISSING SCREW! (Seriously?!?! – I can’t make this up)
That missing screw gave me 60 additional minutes to sit in silence on the plane. (YES silence because naturally this would be the morning I would forget my ear buds)!
But sometimes things like this turn out to be weird blessings.

I feel compelled to tell you (just for a second) about a few things I FULLY believe…
  •  I believe with EVERY fiber in my being that ONE person can make a difference in this BIG & CRAZY world we live in.
  •  You know the saying “BLESSED to be a BLESSING”. Well that about wraps up everything I strive to do. The belief that I can make a difference (No matter how little or big) is what motives me to do everything that I take on! It is what makes me set aside time to tell our story over and over and over again, it is what pushes me to write and hit send on those e-mails to the families that feel lost and heartbroken due to a recent CHD diagnosis, it is why we fundraise for Seattle Children’s and The American Heart Association and it is why I helped play a role in organizing the Oso Strong 5k. (Insert shameless plug www.osostrong5k.com – SERIOUSLY check it out).
  • I want to make a small ripple in the LARGE ocean because if we all make small ripples it would turn into a massive wave that could be unstoppable.

Since that is now out of the way. 
That missing screw combined with my left at home earbuds gave me the opportunity to do something I had been meaning to do for months… Pick up this book I had been carrying around!

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker… (Seriously Jen – Can we be friends?!?!?!)

I have always felt blessed in all aspects of our life… Family, friends, career, kids, home, health (yes even with a kid with ½ a heart I feel blessed), love.

Really at the end of the day we have EVERYTHING we need and then some! We live in a world of excessive and my family fully participates. 

I hit page 25 of interrupted and suddenly my view on how blessed we were shifted.
Jen shared some eye opening statics to give her readers some perceptive. I would say for me it worked.

  • Of the 6 billion people on earth 1.2 billion live on TWENTY THREE CENTS a day
  • HALF of the WORLD lives on less than $2.50 a day. (Hello. We can’t even get out of the starbucks drive thru for less than that?!?!?)
  • The wealthiest 1 billion people average $70 a day
    • If you make $35,000 annually you are in the top 4% (wait what?)
    • If you make $50,000 annually you are in the top 1% (Have you figured out where this puts you?!?!?!)
  • Someone dies of HUNGER every 3.6 seconds
  •  Roughly 40 MILLION people (the equivalent of 7 Jewish holocaust) die annually from starvation, disease and mal-nutrition
    • 69% of adult Americans are overweight or obese
    • 18% of children are overweight or obese    
  •            780 Million people lack basic water sanitation which results in disease, death, wastewater for drinking and loss of immunity
    • Americans consume 26 BILLION liters of bottled water a year
  • Americans spend more annually on trash bags than nearly ½ the world spends on all good combined (YES you read that correctly)
  • 57 Million children work world wide instead of go to school
    • 4 out of 5 Americans are high school graduates
That makes my measly problem of when I am going to fit in my pedicure before my cruise into perceptive. In fact it is a laughable problem that literally has me in tears.
It pales in comparison.
I feel dirty. 
I feel greedy.
I am indulged, entitled and oblivious!

“What seems like basic freedom to us feels like vast consumption to someone else”
Yes you can dispute what I shared… I get it, a pancake no matter how flat always has another side. I will be the first to say that I have seen the works of amazing generosity in my life, the other side of the pancake– I have also seen acts of greed.

When this book and these passages entered into my life I suddenly started listing all of the things I have recently done to give back – shoot I even did it in this blog post (sigh). Not going to lie it makes me feel better thinking about you my reader currently listing your list of recent do goods, its normal. Do not panic.

-         Maybe you tithe to a church, sponsor a child, or give of your time to other local charities. I am confident the list could go on.

But after today I am left asking myself more questions.
I just think the majority of us (ME INCLUDED) have no concept of our own prosperity and we don’t have an actual understanding on what is happening to the rest of the world.
Not sure what else to muster up for today.
So I leave you with this scripture. I found it the most fitting!
“Feed my Sheep”

John 21:17

More questions. Does this mean with physical food or is this a metaphor for something deeper than food?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day TWO: Make A Wish

Day TWO: Make a Wish

Today is our first of three at sea days. What is a family to do?

We woke up had breakfast together and then the kids wanted nothing to do with us. They had things to do.
So off Mason and Kendall went to their respective play area’s which left Greg and I on our own.

So while they were playing with Mickey and Goofy we went to the gym. 
Thankfully the gym was huge with a lot of equipment because there was at least 30 people getting their workout on. 
My favorite part of the gym – besides when Greg said done was the view. It was incredible. It was at the very front of the boat. Absolutely breath taking.

From there we sat outside bundled up and enjoyed our coffee and the cool air.

Around lunch time we wrangled up our kids and headed to lunch. When asked what they wanted to do after lunch they naturally yelled “POOL”.

Really? Did they not know how cold it was outside?

This is their trip so if they want to go in the pool. The pool we shall go!
The kids had a blast (the pool is more like a hot tub temperature) and Greg took one for the team and got in (sort of). You see he had on his swim shorts and a sweatshirt (yes in the pool). Me. I was bundled up pool side with a blanket.
The lifeguards looked like they were getting ready to go skiing in Stevens… Hopefully this gives you a visual to the temps we are taking about here…

Every good swimming session needs an appropriate snack afterwards so ice-cream we had!

Tonight was “formal” night. This sounded like WAY to much work so we opted to go see the movie Planes: fire and rescue and have a more casual dinner (like in our sweats).

To finish off the night we went to the show: The Mickey Awards. I wasn't sure if my kids would make it but it captivated them both. This worked perfectly. When we got back to our room they were both out within 5 minutes!

Tomorrow’s agenda is going to be another packed day.
·         - Character breakfast in the morning
·         - Tracy Arms around 12pm
·        -  Kendall's special meet and greet with the princesses.

Thanks for checking in!

Day ONE: Make a wish

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

What a day.
It started early and ended late!

Mason’s perspective when asked his favorite part of the entire day:
- Seeing Nana at the train station
- Riding the fast train
- Meeting a new friend (Jackson from Alabama)
- Getting on the BIG boat

It was a magical day to say the least but I guess I should not have thought it would have been anything else. After all we are on a Disney Cruise.

Like I mentioned earlier the day started EARLY. Mason and Kendall were up at 6am and ready to rock and roll by 6:30am.
Greg did the honors of waking Mason up and when he asked “do you know what today is” Mason simply answered in his sleepy voice “wish day”.
The morning after that was pretty smooth. Nana (my mom) picked us up and off to the train station we went where we were greeted by our wish grantors!
Mason – brought our Make-A-Wish wish grantors some roses from our garden. Of course! He is the sweetest little boy ever!

Train arrived and off we went!

Kids enjoyed the train ride. They colored in their new coloring books, we played iSpy, they looked for boats and we enjoyed a nice breakfast!

Once we arrived we were shuttled off to the boat. On our 15 minute ride we saw the good, the bad and the ugly of Vancouver. At one point Mason asked why people were laying their clothes out on the side of the street… That might give you some sort of visual.

The crazy part about going on an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver BC is you have to go through customs twice within a few hours.
-          Once when you enter Canada but then before you can take a breath – you are heading back into the United States! So let me be more clear. It only is a few hours because that is about how long you stand inline J
-          IT IS A PROCESS. Stand in this line – only to go to the next. Once we arrived to where we load the boat it only took a few hours before we could actually load the boat! I could have done without this part with two (tired) children!

WE FINALLY MAKE IT ON THE BOAT and guess what it is time for…. Our safety meeting.
We meet at muster station G (that will be easy to remember) and are briefed. Have no fears in the unlikely event of an emergency the Garka’s will know what to do!

From there it is time to head up to get ready for the departure party. I wasn't sure how either kid would manage to make it through this event (they are beyond exhausted at this point) but then something magical happened and they rallied!
Maybe it was the kids pina colada but you would have thought they had just woken up from a nap. Now that I think about it Mason did spill his after like one sip. So maybe there was just magic in the air!
The “welcome party” was everything you would expect from Disney and my kids (especially Kendall) got into and they had a blast DANCING the afternoon away! (video coming soon)

Just when they thought things were winding down – off to our room we went. Quick bath and a change of clothes and we were off again!
This time it was for our 5:45pm dinner reservation at Tritions Grill! (Seriously it felt like it was 10pm)
Food was amazing (no we did not cheat – ZERO grains for us) and the kids were happy. Once we left we were greeted by goofy and waited in line to meet Mickey – Kendall was beside herself excited until it was her turn to actually say hi – then all of a sudden our outgoing, ferrous little girl got shy. We couldn’t stop laughing. Mason – well he handled it like a champ and got cheesy for the camera. He is trained well!
Now I am back in our room – Kendall is “making an effort” to go to sleep, Greg is working out and Mason; He is at the kids lounge hanging with I am sure tons of new friends. I can’t lie. It feels weird that he is not with either Greg or I.

Since this is his wish we gave him only one rule this week – DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!

He decided to go meet new friends. We couldn't say no! I just hope he chooses to hang out with us at some point!

On another note: Internet is limited this is why no photos have been shared. It is also why this post is three days late. 
We will do what we can when we are in ports :)
Thanks for checking in.