I was planning to type out an "I hate valentines day" rant. But decided against it.
I've spent enough of the day bumming around. My poor family is probably planning to exile me to an Alaskan island.
In retrospect it's been a pretty good day for this girl. My parents and siblings are too kind to me, walking on eggshells (I need to work on being nicer to them) and knowing that it's not my favorite day. My brother dropped off roses for all seven of us girls. It was so sweet and unexpected. Dad handed out more roses at dinner along with a thoughtful speech for each of us. Brooke made a fabulous dinner and my girlies made valentine's notes.
I'm so blessed. Why do I forget that?
And then I had an epiphany. Stop being selfish. What if this was my last year of moping around and next year I take the time to invest in and love on all the people who surround me? What if I send the valentines, make the treats and throw the party. I'll bet it would be pretty fun. At least more fun than a pity party. I'm such a slow learner sometimes.
This fact makes me so very thankful for grace. Spurgeon's Morning & Evening this morning was inspiring "never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy". Let that be the thought of the day. It reminds me of the verse that says "where sin did abound, there, did grace abound all the more".
17-ish states, 3500-ish miles and 58-ish hours in the car and we're finally home.
There's a reason why we coined it "hot mess".
I'm so happy to be back, in my own room with my own pillow etc. I'm unpacked and my last load of laundry is in the washer. Bliss!
I made chili and a huge salad for dinner. We were all craving fresh food after two weeks on the road and we came home to a bunch of snow. I love a good chili, it's so perfect for days when you can't get warm.
Still missing everyone, even if I'm looking forward to getting back to life tomorrow.
The Sunday after the festival is always one of my favorite days. After church, friends of ours throw a huge party and we stay up until the last minute possible. It's bittersweet for me because it signifies the end and because I hate to say goodbye.
After hours of talking, laughing, slipping out with a friend to go to sbx for a few hours (they never missed us!) and still catching up with friends, somebody walked in with two dozen hot Krispy Kremes. That was it! Those babies disappeared in three seconds flat! Naturally somebody needed to make another doughnut run. Brooke, me and bunch of others piled into somebody's van (and you're now thinking that this sounds rather sketchy...) and journeyed off into the night.
Someone has got to be the hero.
Walking back in the door with eight dozen hot glazed doughnuts and Krispy Kreme hats made us instant celebs. And then the mob almost trampled past us to get them. Ah, fame is fleeting.
And sadly all things must end. We started the painful process of saying goodbye to about fifty thousand people and headed back to the city for four hours of sleep before hitting the road.
We pulled out of San Antonio around 4:50am just in time for sbx to open at 5am and to avoid traffic in Austin. The kids slept for hours and I got a chance to enjoy the quiet. I've got enough of my mom in me to be able to keep up with extroverts but I need the alone time to process. Haha! Alone time. In a van with ten other people. Hey, you take what you can get!
Our plan was to hit St. Louis, but we actually made it even farther, all the way to Springfield, IL! Goodness! 17 hours straight in the car. I think we all deserve medals.
The movies I wanted to see didn't start until later in the afternoon so I spent the morning catching up with friends from California. We covered some important topics like, hair, theology, hair theology, grey sweatshirts and such. Clearly we're group were a diverse crowd.
Lunch was something like popcorn, m&ms and a bottle of Aquafina. Because what's a vacation if you can't eat balanced meals while on the run. Seriously, I'm so looking forward to being home with a fridge full of organic veggies.
I caught the first half of "The Lost Medallion" which was a great film that my younger siblings loved. It was like a funny, family friendly, young Indian Jones flick. I had to leave early and head to a different theater to see a documentary produced by friends of ours. "The Birth Control Movie" I was so proud of the amazing job they did on this controversial film. Google it to stay up to date on their next installment.
That was the last movie on my hit list for the festival and I was able to spend a good long time having coffee with a friend before dinner. Sweet times!
Dinner was hilarious! We went to Fogo de Chao, one of those gut busting Brazilian steakhouses, with about 30 friends. The guys were thrilled. They give each guest a double sided coaster, one side is green which means "BRING ON THE MEATS!" and the other, red, which means "STOPPP!!!" Me, not exactly being a carnivore, was a little apprehensive. I asked one of the "gauchos" when they'd be bringing the fish out and said "ma'am, this is a steakhouse, we have beef, chicken, lamb and pork". Well then. I opted for lamb and some more salad bar.
The highlight of my day was the awards ceremony that night. I wore a floor length black sequin skirt. It's not every day I get to do that. It fits amazingly and makes a great swishing noise! I paired it with a grey crew neck sweater, silver flats and a bun. A pretty good outfit if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, the only photo I got of it was in the elevator before heading up to bed and I look a little more than exhausted. The awards ceremony was INCREDIBLE! I told Mr. Philips that it was my favorite one yet. He loved that. Every film that won was absolutely deserving of it. My friends won "Best Commercial" for the promo of their kids history app called "Founding Fathers". It was so fun to watch them win!
They put on an incredible show that night with the climax being the grand prize winner. I have never heard a more incredible acceptance speech in my life than that of Brian Ivie. I need to upload the video later, but My Word, there wasn't a dry eye in the room as he shared his testimony and cried at the goodness of GOD. I was so sorry to have missed seeing his film "Dropbox" about a pastor in South Korea who puts a Dropbox on the side of his house for parents to leave their severely disabled children that they don't want anymore. Talk about mind blowing. Because of his love and selflessness, over 24 children have been saved from death and are being cared for every day. An unbelievable example of the love of CHRIST.
I'm a lone morning bird among my extreme night owl friends, which sometimes means that you end up kicking off a film festival by sobbing your way through a documentary. Solo.
My family was busy socializing and I was hoping to hit a short film promoting www.lamplighterguild.com and then slip out before the next documentary started. That plan doesn't work when you're one of ten people in the theater! I ended up watching the Lamplighter Guild short (which was great and won an award!) and then staying to watch a documentary by Samaritans Purse Ministries. I'm so glad I stayed. It followed Mongolian children who were brough to America to be given life saving heart surgeries. If you get the chance check out "Three Hearts". Like I said, it made me cry. A lot.
Then we stocked up some popcorn (mandatory for movie watching) and headed into a crowded theater for the amazing true life story of Hans Poley portrayed in the film "The Return to the Hiding Place". It was so packed out that I ended up sitting on the floor, watching for over two hours. This was my favorite movie of the year! I was blown away by the story line, with the resistance movement in Nazi Germany, the sovereignty of GOD in dark times and the faith of the characters. I believe this film will be premiering later this spring. It got my audience choice vote and I was thrilled to find out that it won by a landslide! Keep and eye out for it and support it!
The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with friends from all over the place. These events are so special to me because of the friendships that have come out of them. Some of the dearest people to me in the world. It was exceptionally fun to head out to a special dinner with huge group of people before the big premier of "Alone Yet Not Alone"! I'd read the book when i was much younger and know quite a few people who worked on set and was looking forward to finally seeing it. The best part was watching my three year old brother's reactions! So funny!
One of the most amazing and beautiful states in America!
We left our hotel early-early that morning. Which usually means my winged eyeliner is a little more than off. It's so hard to get them to match when I'm half asleep.
The last leg of the trip was relatively short, only about four hours until we pulled into San Antonio. I was delighted to finally be done traveling, at least for a few days. Old San Antone feels more and more familiar to me and has become such a special city filled with my favorite people.
Our afternoon was spent at a fabulous Italian restaurant downtown were we helped to host a baby shower for dear friends. It was the best baby shower I've been to yet! Bunches of our family's friends showed up, and it was a beautiful venue with great food. Everyone had such a good time chatting that the restaurant had to kick us all out onto the patio before the evening rush! That never happens...
Thursday night was opening ceremonies to the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival! This is an event that my family has attended for the past four years and look forward to every time. Several thousand people gather to watch and support films that honor the Lord. It's always exciting to see the films that come through that end up making a huge impacts in people's lives. We heard some great introductions to the films and lectures an would start tomorrow. We're looking forward to it!
Every trip has a breaking point. The day when grace has seemingly run out. I'll admit, my sanctification is not complete, I still get so frustrated with my family. It's a firstborn thing. I just have this deep desire to make things perfect. It doesn't always work. Okay, it rarely works.
So, we made it to the beach and had just a short window of time to spend there. It was cold and grey. After stopping to let the littles run on the beach and then doing lunch at some seafood dive we decided to drive on. To Texas.
Have you ever held a six year old while alligator tears silently fall onto her chunky cheeks. Oh my heart. It broke. She was so disappointed to not be able to play in the sand. I couldn't really even do anything for her, but hold her and tell her that GOD is still good, even when we can't see it. It was such a lesson in the Providence of GOD. I was reminded of how some thing's never change. How we must deal with disappointments at every age. I quietly told her that GOD knew how the weather would be and that HE chose it for us. We don't know why, but HE does.
GOD is always good and I am always loved, Ann Voskamp once wrote.
As I write this, she's completely forgotten the whole episode. Six year olds don't have the greatest recall. A fresh copy of The Fox and the Hound and organic gummy bears seem to cover a multitude. She's back to her perky, pesky self. I love that Miss Grace!
I was so excited about our hotel. A historic property used during several wars as a hospital and also army training base. It had neat little features like a cannon that's fired off everyday at 4pm into the bay (very cool and very loud!), afternoon tea in the lobby and The Food Network on the TV!
Dad was all about the seafood for dinner. Oh gracious. After extensive Yelping and reading a couple thousand reviews we decided on some place called Felix's. Y'all it was extremely fetching from the highway, with it's 50 foot red plastic fish out in front. The food must've been great because the place was packed out and they sent us down the road to their sister restaurant, Bluegills.
Which featured oyster half shells stacked up in the parking lot, flashing lights and sombreros stapled to the ceiling. I also heard a rumor that the little boys room had a rusty minnow bucket for a sink. AND the food was awesome! I tried raw oysters for the first time. They were so delicious! I'm an adventurous eater, I'll try anything once. Even the alligator bites that Mim ordered. We had a great time eating all that fried junk dipping it in ranch dressing the whole time!
Thankfully we had a little drive to get back to the hotel, you know, an hour to give the grease a chance to settle before the kiddos went swimming.
That was a good call.
After that we were all so worn out that we just laid on our beds and watched Chopped. Have you ever watched that show? Four chefs are given "mystery baskets" that contain random ingredients, such as, salmon, soy sauce, graham crackers and gummy bears. Then they have twenty minutes to come up with an edible appetizer. The judges (who are celebrity chefs) then tastes the dishes and say witty things like "I like how you diced the gummy bears and blended them into the remoulade sauce that you drizzled onto the teriyaki salmon patty, but I was really looking for more creativity and hoping that the "gummy" flavors would come through cleaner". Then they "chop" someone out and move onto entree and dessert.
Yeah. It's very entertaining.
Brooke, Dan and I were in different rooms watching the same show so we kept a running text commentary. I love doing that! Sometimes, I'll watch movies with my friend who lives in TX, we start it at the same time and text goofball comments for two hours. It keeps us connected. Anyway, I was giggling so hard at their hilariousness, and when my brother really got into it and started sweating over the timers. "Oh no! Times up and she forgot to put the lima bean sprouts on the plate!!!".
You'd better believe they chopped her for that one.
My family loves to host guests for dinner, weekends, holidays, etc. it's been quite the change to be someone's houseguest during this trip. But so much fun to be able to see how and where our friends live. My favorite thing has been seeing how they decorate! I'm telling y'all, our friends such have fabulous taste!
Today we traveled from SC to Bham. The weather got increasingly warmer, which was amazing! But the sky is still so grey. It was such a quick stopover in AL, but we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I'm hoping next time to be able to explore the cool restaurants and shopping in the area. Oh well.
No actual road tripping today. Unless you count driving to church. Oh, and a quick journey to Whole Foods for Nutella and other staples (like chocolate... and stuff).
Sweet nectar of life.
Apparently yesterday was National Crepe Day (what???) and since we got in late last night and Aunt Robin was out of Nutella, we postponed it until today. Better late than never! Right? Anyway, they turned out great! I grabbed a basic crepe recipe off my epicurious app, super blended the batter, let it sit and then proceeded to make about 47,000 of the little delicacies. They went over kinda well. Who doesn't love tiny pancakes with magical hazelnut spread? I'm not sure. It's so fun to cook in someone else's kitchen, especially when they give you free reign. And Aunt Robin's is pretty spectacular!
We had the best super bowl party ever! No football and no tv! Just some quality kitchen time, roasted marshmallows in the fireplace, and crepes with the funniest people you've ever met.
The hotel Starbucks opened the day we arrived. Opened, as in, it's very first day, as in, yesterday it was closed. It's what I like to refer to as a "traveling mercy".
Our group headed to the CM for one more tour and another visit to the planetarium which we decided was better the second time around. I can't wait to visit during the summer when the gardens are in full bloom and the telescopes are out.
Then we headed south in a caravan to our dear friend's home. Because we were traveling together we were able to switch seats around so that Brooke and I could hang with Aunt Robin and her "boys". We laughed so hard! About guys, past travels and restroom stops at the Bass Pro Shop. I'm thrilled that we get to spend even more time with these dear people.
Such a fun day hanging out at the Creation Museum! We've spent the day touring, checking things out, meeting new people and a hilarious dinner at a Hibachi restaurant!
I experienced a planetarium show for the very first time. Oh my! It was the best thing since sliced bread! So incredible! The one at the CM is narrated by Whit (Paul Herlinger)! As a lifelong Adventures in Odyssey fan, that delighted me to the very core.
It's snowed nonstop during our visit, the roads have been a mess. We're used to snow and ice, but the locals here are another story! It's been freezing too! I'm excited to head south!
We ended the day down at the pool with the kiddos. Getting to know our new friends and chatting about work, Veggie Tales, organic farming and gummy bears.