SKANK Book Club - Meeting 1 - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Easter weekend us girls, the SKANKs, finally got to get together to discuss our first book for the Book Club that we started. All Booked Up. We all have busy lives these days and 2 of the girls live in Pittsburgh, so it's quite the feat to get us all together . . . but we finally found a day and time and place (The Cove), that worked!

I wasn't sure how the first meeting would go since none of us have really done a book club before, but I think it went rather well! It was quite the crazy book and had lots of things to discuss. Plus, we Googled questions before hand as well.

I think we were all in agreement that the book was sick, but good. And in the end we decided we are going to take a break from the rest of the series so we can read Water for Elephants and then go watch the movie that just came out!

We thought the day was going to be cold and rainy, but it ended up being beautiful, so we hung out on the dock and caught up on everyone's lives!

I love these girls!

Question is . . how long until we get together again to discuss Book 2 - Water for Elephants? Will we really all be done by the end of June?

Mommy & Me QUAD : 100 Yard Swim

April 10th, Mommy and I continued our annual tradition (2nd year) of the QUAD by completing the 100 yard swim.

Last year we swam twice before the actual event (aka - went to the Y and talked in the pool). This year the QUAD had a swim program at the Y where you could go 4 times before the event and an instructor would help you out with what you needed to work on. We had such a blast and it really was helpful!

I learned how to go off the starting blocks (even though the instructor swear I already knew).

And I was able to swim the front crawl the entire 100 yards, where as last year I had to resort to the backstroke for about half (I couldn't breathe! I realize that 100 yards sounds like nothing, but you should try it!)

I finished first in my heat.

And I dropped a honkin 14 seconds off my time from last year! (1:27 to 1:13)
Not to make excuses, but I also just started doing Insanity that week too, so I'm pretty happy with my time!

Mommy getting ready!

And she's done! She's a quick one!

Mom dropped almost 30 seconds off her time from last year! I was so proud of her!

Mom trying to catch her breath, but me saying "smile"! She's such a great sport and I'm so blessed that we are able to do this together!

If you are interested, here is the website to sign up! It really is such a great program! You don't have to do all 4 events . . . . you can choose between swim, bike, run, and ski/snowshoe! And it's all different ages and fitness levels!


Life Lessons

My mother-in-law forwarded this to me and I love it.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer,
Cleveland , Ohio .

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a
special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."


Birthday Mase! 27th on the 27th!

March 27th was Mase's 27th birthday! Fun, right?!

Mase is one of my BFF's. We go way back (one of these days I'm gonna go through all my non-digital pics and scan them all in so I can post embarrassing pics of all my friends).

She's the A to the SKANKs.

Believe it or not, she does enjoy hanging out with us . . . . .

She's always the life of the party . . .

And is the woman of a million faces . . .

But seriously, she's one of my best friends. She is one of the most beautiful people I know. Both inside and out. She makes me laugh so hard and her heart is just as emotional as mine. She loves kitties. And she is an amazzzzzing cooker/baker. We always try to have her make the food when we all get together because it's always so good. Her chicken enchiladas . . . delish! She's there for you when you need her, and there for you when you need someone to bring you back down to earth. Without her, I probably wouldn't have learned about one of my favorite sports . . . volleyball. I tried out for the team my senior year of high school because of her, and ever since then we've been great friends and have been playing volleyball together. Mase is also an amazing interior designer with a great fashion sense all the way around. Her voice . . . awesome. Her love for Jesus. . . awesome. Her love for her family and for her friends . . . amazing.

Thanks for being one awesome, amazing person Amy Grace! So blessed to have you in my life!


Orlando Vacation!

Hey, remember when we were going to go to Florida for our "Happy Birthday to Us We Need a Vacation - Orlando Sun & Fun" trip?

Well, we finally went! (back at the beginning of March) . .

We got into Orlando 15 minutes early at 10:10pm-ish. We got our rental car (just wait until you see it. It's pretty sweet . . ), and headed on our 30 minute drive to our resort. . .oh what's that?! There are toll roads where you HAVE to use cash. . and we don't have any.

Shane : "Do you take credit or debit card?"
Toll guy: "no. we don't. cash only."
Shane: "we don't have any cash"
Toll guy: " . . .. "
Shane: "we don't have any cash"
Toll guy: ". . . . "
Shane to me: "What do we do?"
Me : " i don't know . . i don't have any cash. they don't take debit card?"
Shane: "No. just cash."

. .. after about 5 minutes of us just sitting there and them not doing or saying anything, i finally remembered that i brought emergency cash in case we needed it. Gosh. Don't forget there are toll roads like every 1/2 mile from each other in Florida and you need CASH. (but do forget that I was an idiot who almost didn't have any cash on me).

And now for our swagger wagon . . .

err. . I mean . . granny car! Shane was holding his walker in this pic. I was so bummed. I'm never doing "special car" again. "Pick special car and get a mid-size car or greater at an economy price!"

Universal Orlando has two parks. . . Islands of Adventure and the one we went to on our first day, Universal Studios.

Kwik E Mart! They had this right by the Simpsons ride.

It was great. The lines were so short! Most every ride (except a few) you could either walk right on or have a short 5-10 minute wait. It's the way every amusement park should be.

View of the park. I wasn't too impressed with the "atmosphere" and landscaping of this park. It was nice, but it didn't have that "magical" feel that Disney World gives you.

The shows were awesome. This is from the animal actors show. I'll talk more in detail in the separate post I'm going to do about which rides/shows are worth doing/seeing.

From the parking lot to the actual park was quite a hike (I didn't mind it too much but I can't imagine having lots of kiddos and gramps and grams walking that much). But you get to walk through City Walk, the "entertainment hotspot". Lots of clubs. Restaurants. A Movie Theater. A Surf board. (We asked a little kid if he would take our picture, and he went and asked his mom first. I thought that was cute).

Day 1 ends (Man, walking around parks is exhausting! When did I get so old!?)

Here are some pics of our resort:

It was nice. Shane's awesome mommy let us share her timeshare with them. We wish we could have actually had some overlap of our vacations, but we got there late Tuesday night and they left early Wednesday morning.

Day 2 . . BIG day! One of the biggest reasons we (I) wanted to go to Florida . . . The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! . . wait for it . . .

We pretty much got there right when they opened and high stepped it right over to the WWOHP because we knew it would just get busier as the day went on. Of course we had to stop and get a couple pictures on the way though . . .

Let's pretend this is where I didn't almost cry . . .

It was just amazing to see everything you read about and all the movies you watched come to life. Shane almost left me when I started to cry. I said, "don't you think it's awesome?!" And his reply was . . "yeah, but I'm not going to cry about it." Ha!

Ugh. Just incredible.

We went to this first because the ride was already a 30 minute wait and we knew it would just get worse as the day went on. I had to lock my purse in a locker for this ride, so unfortunately I didn't get many pictures. The inside was a line to the ride, but you got to see different parts from the books/movies . . like the hour glasses that showed which house was winning, it showed the triwizard cup, it had holograms of Ron, Harry, and Hermoine, and of Dumbledore. I really can't remember all the real names for all of these things, but it had the lady that you needed to give the password to in order to get into the Gryffindor wing. It had the pictures of all the old wizards on the wall and they were all talking to each other and moving around. It was pretty sweet. They called you muggles throughout the entire castle, and when you were getting on the ride they called you a muggle again, so i said "I'M A WIZARD!" and the guy said "no you're not! if anything you'd be a WITCH!" Ohhhhh snap.


The butterbeer was amazing! Tasted like butterscotch!

The Hulk! One of my favorite rides at Universal. Very smooth!

I was surprised how quick we went through this park. I thought we would've spent more time at this park than Universal Studios, but we were done by like 2pm! So we ended up going back to WWOHP to check it out again.

View from the top of the Hippogriff ride! (I'm still planning on doing a separate post that reviews the rides/shows).

You could pick from two different kinds of butterbeer . . . frozen (slushy) and cold (just liquid). You could also pay $7 extra for the souvenir glass (yes. I'm a sucker . . and it's not even dishwasher or microwave safe!)! I recommend trying both. If you are more thirsty, get the cold (and drink it fast b/c it doesn't taste as good when warmer).

After we had our last butter beer, we decided to call it a day. Two days walking around at parks is exhausting! (I seriously feel so old).

Day 3 . . . relaxing day at the resort!
I went outside that morning to take a picture of the pool and turned around and Shane locked me out . .

We decided to play some tennis:

Shane kept hitting the balls out of the court too much, so we got tired of chasing and decided to start jumping around instead (we were jumpers in high school and in college):

Then we played some games:

Shane kicked my butt!

Then the resort had a free lunch barbeque so we headed over to the pool area a little early to get a good spot and relax:

Food time!

Then pool time:

It felt soooooooo good to swim!

Later that day we went to Walmart for some things and saw this:

No one seemed to care though . . . they must get these every day. . but we were pretty excited about it!

Then I showed Shane my juggling skills:

Our last day we went to Gatorland!

They had several shows during the day:

And I don't know why I find birds so fun, but this was my favorite part of Gatorland (until we go next time and their zip line course is open):

We then went on a "swamp walk":

Then we got to sit on a gator (I felt bad for the poor thing though . . so I sat gently):

Then we got to feed the crocs (hotdogs), but the birds kept trying to steal the food!!

Then we headed to our hotel (our resort was a time share only good until Saturday, so we got a nice hotel on priceline for Saturday night).

This was funny because when we went in to explore the rest of the hotel, a guy came up to us and said "could you see me?" and we said "what?" apparently he was smiling and waving from the inside when I took this picture.

View from the top floor (needed special access)!

Shane and I usually keep it safe with chain restaurants but we saw this place online and saw it had good reviews, so we decided to try it out for ourselves:

It was delicious!

After that we headed back to our hotel . . . we needed to get up bright and early to catch our 6am flight.

Here we are waiting at 4am for our shuttle to the airport:

Beautiful morning sky we got to see from the plane:

And back to dreary Erie (Pittsburgh actually).

It was a great trip though! We really are so blessed and so thankful we were able to go on this vacation!