THE OWENS’ GO TO DISNEY WORLD

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*****SPOILER ALERT: MANY CUTE PICTURES!*****

We talked for over a year and we planned for several months and carefully made reservations.  We read and studied and knew just what we wanted to do…or so we thought!  We waited until we thought Levi was old enough to really enjoy it…we got that part right!  We filled our gas tanks and headed south...DISNEY, HERE WE COME!  Early on the morning of Nov.9, 2016 we began our trip.  A couple of stops along the way…and we were there….in the land of the mouse!

ears  Quickly we checked into our room around lunch time…we had passes for the first ride at 1:45!  And we made it!  Oh! it felt good to walk those streets of the Magic Kingdom again!  All the happy people, the music, the quaint buildings and more smiles than you could count!  Two more passes during the afternoon and then we made our way to dinner!

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Pirate beds in our rooms…

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New ‘BB8’ pajamas…

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The next morning we slept a little longer cause the big Mickey’s Christmas Party was tonight!  We had a nice breakfast and then hit the Magic Kingdom again!

Levi found these funky glasses at breakfast…

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Many were the times his feet didn’t touch the ground…

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The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast…then headed to the Magic Kingdom!.  Tonight is Mickey’s Christmas Party, so we want to pace ourselves through the day!  HA!  Pace ourselves?  With a 5 year old?  Didn’t happen!

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All decorated for Christmas…

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Even Levi…

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At the Christmas parade was where I saw our Levi the most animated.  With snow falling overhead and a cool chill in the air, it was perfect weather for a parade.  Once it began, it was a continual feast of lights and sounds and singing and lovable characters.  One after the other they came!  Levi would push his little body outside the edge of the crowd to keep us informed.  “Y’all its Goofy and Pluto!  Y’all it’s dancing girls!  Look it’s tin soldiers marching!  Hey!  It’s Mickey and Minnie”  First he climbed up Don’s shoulders, then a while in my lap (the wheelchair raised me up) then on Adam’s shoulders, to finally collapse in Suzanne’s lap when they were all gone!  What a glorious parade!  What Christmas joy it brought to those watching!  Delightful!dw127

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  “It is God who has given us these times of joy!”  Psalm 81:4

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Day 3 was our big day at Hollywood Studios.  Levi was looking most forward to this!  He is a big StarWars fan (along with his daddy and uncles) and he wanted to do the Jedi training!  They had to be in line at 8:00 to try and get a spot.  But Don and I didn’t.  We rested a while, then ate breakfast and joined them at the park about 11.  Levi was able to meet several of the characters and see so much of the Star Wars paraphernalia they used in the movies.  He was beside himself with excitement!

Levi with Chewbacca… dw37

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And a Jawa…

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Then the time came for the show and he was picked to participate!  What fun!  He was a ‘young padawan’…boys who will eventually learn to be a Jedi Knight.  He got to fight Darth Vader with his lightsaber!

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Oh, what a special treat!  Afterwards he went to the store and got his own costume and made his own lightsaber!  It seems young padawans are exhausted after a fierce battle with the Dark Side!

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Day 4 was Epcot Day.  This was not as much fun to any of us because there was a food and wine festival going on and the crowd was shoulder to shoulder…literally.  We couldn’t stop to see anything much in the countries area…we just got swept along with the crowds.

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A highlight here was our dinner where the characters come by and speak to all the children.  This made Levi even more excited~

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And, we came to Day 5, our last day…back at Magic Kingdom.  We rode lots of rides today.  I had promised Levi that he and I would do “It’s a Small World and “Dumbo” together and we did!    Sweet memories of riding these same rides with my boys 28 years ago on their first Disney trip…and a couple of other times since then.  He rode a few others as well.  One of his favorite seemed to be riding on my electric scooter, though!

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 Little boys and their little toys…tiny droids he made…

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On the monorail…

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With Mama and Daddy…

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With Lulu and Pa…

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We also rode over to see the cars from the movie “CARS” and “CARS2”.  He loved being able to see these in person…we have about 100 of the small ones in the Studio and at his house…

Good ole Mater…Lightning McQueen…..and Fillmore…

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And the end came on Day 6, as we packed up the cars and headed back north to Dothan.  It was a trip full of good times…one Levi and his parents will long remember…as will Don and I.  We talked of the sweetness of having a grandchild as kind and loving as Levi.  He was a trooper…never whined…never complained…even took it with a smile if we could not ride something.  However, he did not like one of the little roller coasters even though his parents were with him.  Don’t blame him a bit!

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 As I observed the crowds of folks around me at any given time…I noticed how lovely it really was.  Not just the surroundings, which were exquisite.  But, families spending times together…each making sure the others were happy.  Little ones having their parents full attention.  And parents doting on their kids…each thinking their child is the cutest in the park.  Grandparents tagging along or sitting out while the kids all rode….but remembering when these parents were the little ones  and they were the parents.  It was only a few years ago.  Why, we were all together in this same place…doing the same thing…riding the same rides…and eating mouse shaped ice cream.  Falling into bed exhausted in the evening and bright eyed and bushy tailed by morning…ready to go again!  This time our pace is slower…and some resort to wheelchair and electric scooter.  We try to placate our big children when they get weary and cross with the little ones. Cause we finally learned the secret.  That a child can’t help but be a child.  God built into them a sense of excitement and wonder and joy.  Add that natural exuberance to a place created for just such things…and you have “The Happiest Place on Earth!”  There is so much to see and so much to do (and eat and buy)…that it can be overwhelming!  But such a glorious overwhelm!  Don’t you wonder what is running through their little minds when they finally lay their heads down on their pillows?  What will they remember about such a time when they return to their homes?  (For myself and Levi…I will document our trip with this blog post, and a scrapbook for him to look at and remember)  Its been said that ‘we don’t remember days…we remember moments.’  And I, for sure, saw many moments well worth tucking away and pulling out again and again!  “Thank you, God, for blessing us with this trip!  We acknowledge that “every good and perfect gift comes from you.”  James 1:17

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EXPLORING

There was just the teeniest touch of fall in the air…still hot, but with a smell of the cooler temps to come.  Don and I picked Levi up from school and went out to eat.  Then, per Levi’s direction, we headed to Landmark Park.  He loves this place.  Don and I have not been in quite a while…but Suzanne and Adam take Levi there quite often.

We visited all the little buildings and then headed to the fabulous playground.  Just an ordinary day…nothing to cause it to stand out any more than any other day.  But, it was a beautiful day…a God-given respite in the middle of the stress of everyday life.  Actually, it is well worth remembering…so enjoy some pics I managed to snap!

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Are you as happy as I am when I have an ordinary day.  So many of our days have a moment when something startles us…we have an accident… we get bad news…we have to do something we really are not comfortable with…someone is unkind to us…someone doesn’t behave in a way that we agree with.  And, from that point on, the day goes down hill.  Nothing can rescue it and turn it back into an ordinary day.  It is marred by circumstances.

But, all along there are also plain, ordinary days.  The sun still shines, or the rain pours…but it doesn’t matter.  Nothing is ruffling our feathers.  No bad news…no accidents, we can do whatever makes us happy, everyone one we meet either ignores us or is kind…but no one gets in our way or causes us one bit of stress.  These are the days that generally come and go and we think them unremarkable.

But, oh! what joy there is hidden inside those days.  There is time…there is fun…there is play…there are smiles and there is laughter.  There is room to explore and time to stop and give thanks for the days when ‘nothing happens’.  And, when you lay your head down on your pillow at night, you think to yourself, “What a great day!”

And, those are the days you treasure and keep in a safe place.  It was one of those days.

LIGHT IT UP !

I don’t like spiders, or snakes, or bugs.  I do not feel I have authority over even the tiniest of creatures.  I just want to flee.  I hate to kill them…but I will stomp on a spider.  Roaches…I don’t even think I can stand to talk about them…so let’s not.  I do, however, have a fondness for two of the tiniest of God’s handiwork…ladybugs and fireflies.  I can get along with these…and let them live and be at peace.

 

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But, I recently heard a sad tale abut the firefly.  Actually, we used to call them lightning bugs.  I remember Joy and I catching them in an old glass jar….and Mama making us let them go before we came inside for the night.  (That was when you could play outside and with neighborhood kids with out your parents worrying to death!)  I’m glad she had us let them go.  If you think you don’t see them much anymore, you’re right.  Their population is on the decline.  This is because of  (according to Mother Nature Network.com)  light pollution, pesticide use, and habitat destruction.  And, this is the sad part…if a field where fireflies have lived is paved over or built on..the firefly family doesn’t just move over to another field…..they just disappear forever.

 

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Does that make you a little wistful?  It does me.  I think of the absolute delight my sister and I, barefooted and dirty, had running after that elusive light to try to catch one in our hands.  I don’t think I ever did.  To get them into the jar, you had to be real sneaky and creep up behind them and bring that bottle down over them quickly!  It’s not a skill I use anymore, sad to say.  I don’t know when I’ve seen a firefly.

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We lived in town on a busy road, but had lots of friends out in the country. And, once you got away from the light around town…right at dusk…you would begin seeing them. We also went to a church out in the country.  I can remember when Memphis Baptist was just 2 small buildings.  And when we would get out of church on Sunday night, it would just be getting dark.  At that time, there were fields all around and a cemetery across the street.  They would all be filled with the tiny lights!  Of course, we couldn’t go chase them…cause it was still the Lord’s Day, and that was not befitting behavior for 2 young ladies, Daddy said.  And besides, we still had on our Sunday dresses and sox and shoes.  Mama was not happy if those white patent leather shoes got marks on them!   But on Wednesday night, those bugs better beware!  We had on school clothes and there weren’t as many rules about them!  Even that far back, I remember what a sight it was to see a field all of a sudden light up.  Wow. God makes so many wonderful things for a kid to marvel at!

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Let me tell you a little about these little creatures.  First of all, they are beetles…not flies.  They have a chemical called luciferin  inside their tails.  When this combines with oxygen, calcium, and adenosine triphosphate….a chemical reaction occurs to create their spectacular light!  Now, they carry the luciferin in their tail…and I know where the oxygen is…but where do they get the calcium and adenosine stuff from.  Does it float in on the air, or is it in the ground.  Do they get it from the food they eat?  I could not find out.  But, isn’t it wonderful to know that every little firefly that’s burned their beautiful light had to have help from the Master Creator to get the job done!  And, it’s even more wonderful to think that Almighty, Heavenly Creator that He is, cares about his little firefly family on the earth enough to make sure they have the things they need to shine their light…attract a mate…and make more fireflies!

 

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And, get this…they are light geniuses.!  Their light is 100 % usable light where as the incandescent light bulbs that we humans manufacture lose 90% of their energy as heat…only 10% is usable light!  Anything God makes is right from the start!

A very wise friend of mine told me once that God is just as magnificent in the tiniest of details we may ever not see, as He is in the large things we notice every day!  It’s true!

There are over 2000 species of fire fly, but they don’t all light up.  Each species that does light up, however,, has their own specific pattern of flashing.  Some can even synchronize their flashes.  Now, the whole’ light up thing’ is just a ploy to find a mate!  The male flashes one pattern…the female flashes back another. I don’t really know the deciding factor on who they choose…but their lights can come in yellow, light red, green and orange.  Perhaps the female has a favorite color!

 

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And should some other creature be attracted to this light and decide it looks appetizing….a firefly also has something in his blood called LUCIBUFAGINS (love that word!)  which makes them taste really gross!

Now friends…if you’ve even kept reading this far,  I know this is not on the list of information that you would find useful or even interesting.  But, when I got to thinking of the fact that I would so hope my little grandson has the chance to see  and  experience the wonder of ‘fairy lights’…I wanted to know more about them.  I want to know where they are.  Cause I’m gonna take him.  I’m gonna watch it once more through his eyes!  And, then I’ll hold that memory as close as I do the ones of my sister and I.  Have you seen any in this area?

 

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There are so many wonders in the animal world…but none that I know of as enchanting as watching the yard ‘fill up with little fairy lights’.  It’s an experience similar to seeing stars race across the sky.  It’s something you never forget…even if you’re 63.  It’s just a little ‘magical respite’ from long days and hot work in the sun.  It’s in those few minutes between being out working and going into the house for the evening.  It’s where you think, “Man, I’m tired, But got a lot  of good stuff done today.”  But, you just don’t quite want to go in and call it a day.  You just stand and survey the world.  Maybe hear God say, “Sit back.  Put your feet up and watch!  I’m have some friends who want to do a show…just for you!”  And, He calls His fireflies to perform…just to delight you!  Isn’t He a good God!  I am remembering my days on the farms in NC with my aunts and Uncles.  I can see my Uncle Arthur Lee drive up in his truck and come up under the carport….stomping the mud off his feet as he comes.  Then he’d sit down on a chair and take his shoes off and then his cap, and run his fingers through his hair.   And, just sit there for a few minutes.  I’ve seen my uncle Charles and Uncle Jefferson do the same thing.

You know, I have a song playing in my head…sorta in the background…while I’ve been writing this post.  Seems I remember that once upon a time I did a musical with a bunch of kids at school.  It goes..“Angels and Lambs, Lady Bugs and Fire Flies told every person in sight that Jesus was born in Bethlehem  on that Christmas night”  I can even see the book I used.  Hmm!  Now that was not even in my head when I started this post.  Funny, isn’t it, how thinking about fire flies leads to thinking about old summer time memories as a child and then to children and music I taught at school!   Yeah, memory is a funny thing.  And songs seem to really stay with me.

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I hope you see some fire flies soon!  Reckon what memories they will lead you to?  I’d love to hear about it, if you’ll share.  Just leave  a comment at the end of the blog.  I’ll see it!

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PS.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has firefly tours!

 

 

 

 

BOOGALOO CAMP *****Part 3*****

One of the first things I planned for this year’s Boogaloo Camp was a cruise on the Sea Dragon.  The ship is based at the St Andrews Marina, in Panama City Beach, Florida.  I had run across it online and every single review was glowing.

The cruise is geared totally for the kids.There are places for adults to sit…but other than that…all activity is for the little ones.  Every single minute, is planned.  There is no time to sit around and get bored.  They do all sorts of pirate stuff.  ..water gun fights, shooting the cannon, dancing and singing and a conga line, swabbing the deck, face painting, sword fights, discovering treasure in the ocean and helping to pull it to the boat, then opening and sharing the loot!

Following are some pics of the day.   BTW…this was a surprise for the boys…they didn’t know about it till we got there!  They were so excited!  Shirts courtesy of Lulu.

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Pulling the treasure chest up from the bottom of the sea!

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Every day we had a time for some arts and crafts…both of the boys are quite artistic and love to paint and cut and create!

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Protecting the walls from flying paint!

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Now we are all back home in Dothan and Abbeville.  We are going about our daily routines…going to PT, seeing about Pop, getting ready for VBS at church, going back to our work with the sick.  Boogaloo 2016 is over…but the memories linger on. John Thomas taking the test at the pool and going the distance well.  He got to do the obstacle course and the tall slide.  Levi taking the swimming test, but struggling a little…he only got to do the slide.  And, once on the slide was plenty for him..while JT did it about a dozen times!  ***Levi saying to us all, out of the blue, “Im a good talker and a chicken eater!”  ***  John Thomas working slowly and surely on  painting his anchor.***Levi chasing about 10 chickens down the road trying to catch one.  He didn’t. John Thomas taking it upon himself to be sure I had my waker every time I needed it! *** The look on the boy’s faces when they realized they were going to ride on that big pirate ship! *** Sitting between the boys on the couch and reading to them…acting out the voices and being silly. ***

Friends, life is so sweet.  Family is so important.  God is so good.  Amen!

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BOOGALOO CAMP *****Part 2*****

It so nice to have all the girls in the same room.  Talking, acting silly, eating, talking about eating, talking about shopping, eating, interacting with the little boys…just doing life.  We don’t have the chance to do that much during the year.  Oh, we spend time together for a meal…but everybody has to talk to everybody else and there’s no time for real interaction.  And, so as we gather together away for a few days, we focus on each other.

Not a whole lot of seriousness, mind you…but a whole lot of bonding!

Let’s start these pics off with a ‘breakfast of champions’!!!  (Good ole Thomas Doughnuts)

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“Rock me, Aunt Tara.”

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Chasing the chickens…no luck!

 

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What a fun aunt Lori is to these guys!  John Thomas calls her “Ree”…….Levi calls her “Lorly”……I call her “Loopy”…we all call her “Special”!

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Shirts by Lulu…

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My dear daughter in love!

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No room for me on the couch!

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Even if we don’t always act like it!  Fun with ribbon wands!

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The boys think my walker is a perfect place to sit!

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Crazy hair!

 

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The boys bring their favorite books and we have story time together before bed!

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Gigi and Lulu and their boys!

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More to come in Part 3…..