Laresa Watkins

So…We Had to Take a Break from #WatkinsVacay2016 and What I Have Learned About Rest

Jul 15, 2016
mommyinbonlee

I know it sounds ridiculous.  I mean, who actually has to take a break from their vacation?  But it’s true.

I (along with Charlie and Maddie) began our summer vacation as soon as VBS at our church was over in June.  We wrapped up (for the most part) our school year that week.  We finished up MOPS, gymnastics, and T-ball.  I turned down any and every offer to fill our calendar for the next two months, using Meghan Trainor’s “NO” as my inspiration. I know she had different intentions, but I still feel it gets my point across:

We were good to go.

We went to the beach for a week, then we followed that up with 2 weeks of pool time, naps, more VBS, time with friends, a visit to Mt. Airy, and an ideally fabulous July 4th weekend.  We have been going to the movies and eating out and using paper plates. The house has been a mess and we barely have clean clothes to wear, but it has been wonderful.  My mind has been gloriously empty.

I have to interrupt myself here and say that I felt a tremendous wave of guilt wash over me as I wrote that last paragraph.  How ridiculous is it that I am allowed to spend whole weeks like this when there is so much suffering going on? After beginning a paragraph explaining how hard I have worked for the past 10 months, how my family has been grieving, I stopped and deleted it.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people, because you all know how hard life is.

This week, we had to get back to real life.  We spent last Friday cleaning, doing laundry, and buying groceries in preparation for playdates and meetings at our house.  We got haircuts and went to the post office and paid bills and taxes.  We’re having a workweek, which is necessary to a busy life.

But beginning today at 12 we are back on vacation. We’ve got another few weeks and we’re going to enjoy them.

This summer, I’ve learned some things about rest and celebration and making memories in general.  Our theme over the last year of MOPS has dealt with real rest (not scrolling-through-Facebook rest), but I will be honest and say that I ignored what they were trying to teach me and what I was trying to teach the women in my group.  Who has time for rest, right? And how are we supposed to have clean houses and clothes, well-rounded children, husbands who aren’t hungry, and fit bodies if we’re resting all of the time?

But now that I have had real rest, I see the desperate need that I have for it. I don’t forget so much.  I feel like doing things for other people.  I don’t feel stressed when I think of the summer being over.  I am kinder to my children and husband.  I notice little things that my children do that I know I will want to remember. I say yes to things I would have said no to before. I read actual books and I feel like writing!!!

I also see the need that my family has for rest.  I have found that, because we have taken some time to just be, we laugh more. We talk over longer dinners without worrying about time.  The kids get along better.  We all sleep sounder.

This was my theme verse for the summer:

“So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life God gives him under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 8:15.

I didn’t get it at first.  I thought perhaps God just wanted us to have a nice dinner every once in awhile.  I could definitely pull that off.  But now I really understand.  I overheard Jason explaining the verse to Charlie last week, telling him that God wants us to have fun times, to relax and have great memories.  He told him that those memories are what keeps us going during times when life is hard, when we’re working  and maybe weary.  Those times of rest are a gift from God.

So I understand now, God.  I’ll take advantage of this summer that you’ve blessed me and my family with. Then I’ll take the memories and the energy and I’ll keep on running the race, and I hope that, when you have the opportunity, you’ll do the same.

#WatkinsVacay2015 AKA National Lampoons Outer Banks Vacation

Jul 12, 2015
mommyinbonlee

We returned from our family beach vacation yesterday.  I wasn’t going to write about it, but Mama told me that I had to because if she didn’t laugh about it she would cry! So here goes…

We have been planning and anticipating this beach trip for months.  Jason and I have been slowly but surely moving our family vacations (by family, I am referring to our large family vacations with our parents and brothers and sisters) up the NC coast, and this year we finally reached our ultimate destination: the NC Outer Banks.

This isn’t an easy feat for people who have grown up going to Myrtle Beach, SC, where there are tons of restaurants, lots of shopping, putt-putt courses, movie theaters, huge theatrical productions, and lots more.  Our families love those things, but Jason and I are more drawn to the secluded NC beaches, where Jason can fish and I can be on the beach with no one around.   We don’t mind eating at hole-in-the-wall restaurants and having nothing to do but play on the beach all day long.

We were so excited to get a house named the Moon Palace in Salvo, NC for a week this year.  The first few days of our vacation were excellent, even though the house wasn’t quite up to par.

Charlie, Maddie, Sam, and Aaron on the beach.

Charlie, Maddie, Sam, and Aaron on the beach.

 

Jason catching some fish. They were delicious!

Jason catching some fish. They were delicious!

 

Another one of the kids on the beach, with Macy (who is an official beach bum) in this one.  Too cute, right?

Another one of the kids on the beach, with Macy (who is an official beach bum) in this one. Too cute, right?  (There are some beach bums in the background, too! 🙂

 

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This is what I love doing on the beach-sitting at the edge of the surf while the kids play around me and Jason fishes. I could do this all day.

 

We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool.

We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool.

 

And Charlie and Maddie spent too much time in the hot tub!  This was Charlie's one request when we were looking for a house-that it have a hot tub!

And Charlie and Maddie spent too much time in the hot tub! This was Charlie’s one request when we were looking for a house-that it have a hot tub!

 

Kitten feeding the birds on the back deck.

Kitten feeding the birds on the back deck.  The birds, as usual, loved him!

 

The kids playing Twister.

The kids playing Twister.

 

And reading some stories.

And reading some stories.

 

I was super-excited to find a selfie-stick at a Wings. I looked and looked at stores around home, but they were sold out!  Apparently everyone wants one.  Here’s the first picture I took:

Me and Mama on our way back from the store.

Me and Mama on our way back from the store.

 

And here's one of me, Julie, and Macy (she is hidden behind the blanket).

And here’s one of me, Julie, and Macy (she is hidden behind the blanket).

 

We spent some time exploring the Outer Banks.  There is some great history on the islands.

Charlie and Maddie at the aquarium.  Behind them is an actual shipwreck that has been moved into their saltwater tank.  There were huge sharks swimming in there!

Charlie and Maddie at the aquarium. Behind them is an actual shipwreck that has been moved into their saltwater tank. There were huge sharks swimming in there!

 

Now, I’m sure you noticed earlier that I said the first few days of our vacation were great?  Here’s what the pictures above aren’t telling you.

First of all, there has been a strange outbreak of shark attacks on the NC coast.  We couldn’t go in the ocean!

Scoping out the situation on our first day there.

Scoping out the situation on our first day there.

 

Speaking of the ocean, to get to the ocean we had to cross this huge sand dune.  It looks beautiful, I know, but it was a nightmare.   The sand was burning hot and full of sand spurs and cactus.  We were constantly picking spikes and spurs out of our feet.  And do you know how hard it is to climb those hills of sand with children, umbrellas, chairs, coolers, beach bags, and fishing gear? Some of us only made it to the beach a couple of times, just because they couldn’t make it over.

A few days in, we were all jokingly referring to this dune as “Heartbreak Ridge.” Kitten and Mack would sit on the deck and watch us as we struggled over.  One time, Mack cheered me on as I pulled the beach cart behind me by screaming, “Ya, Mule!” over and over.  I am laughing about it now, but at the time didn’t find it all that funny.

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And the picture of me and Mama, where we look so happy about or selfie-stick find?  Mama had just finished crying as she told me that she had blown her good hip walking up and down the stairs (we had 4 floors and no elevator) at the Moon Palace.  This means that she is in a lot of pain, can hardly walk, and will have to have another hip replacement very soon.  This put a serious damper on her vacation, to say the least.

Also, did you notice that Charlie doesn’t look too excited in the picture of him and Maddie at the aquarium?  That’s because he was on day 2 of a terrible stomach virus.  I mean terrible.  He spent the last half of his vacation laying in bed or on the couch.

So, this vacation was full of the most emotional ups and downs ever!  We had a great time cooking and playing games and putting together our puzzle and swimming and just being together. And Jason and I loved the Outer Banks and the atmosphere there.

But a lot of not-so-good things happened, too.

Goodbye, Moon Palace!

Goodbye, Moon Palace!

 

This was the last picture that I took.  On our way to of town, my little family stopped at the Urgent Care in Nags Head.  Charlie needed to be looked at (turns out he had a bad virus that is going around) and Jason needed 3 stitches.  He cut his finger open while he was packing up the car.  Boy do we know how to go out with a bang!

I think I was embarrassing them.  And obviously I don't have the selfie-stick quite figured out yet.

I think I was embarrassing them. And obviously I don’t have the selfie-stick quite figured out yet.

 

We decided that we are definitely going to have a do-over for the OBX.  The four of us are thinking of going back on October for a few nights.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to talk our extended family into the Outer Banks for our big vacation next summer, though.

 

Summer Reading

Jun 8, 2015
mommyinbonlee

Summer Reading Pic

Even though it’s not officially summer, we are in full-swing summer mode in our home.  We’re doing all the summer things we love so much: swimming, grilling out, fishing, walking at the park, and staying up late to catch lightning bugs.  Vacation Bible School planning is in high gear, and we’re looking forward to that next week.

To me, a big part of summer is reading.  I guess this is something I developed when I was teaching, when I would have summers off all to myself and was able to spend lots of time reading.

Now that I have children, I don’t have too much time to read (and I certainly don’t get to read by the pool or laying on the beach like I once did), but I do like to read for a few minutes at night, until I can’t hold my eyes open any longer.  Or, on a stormy summer day the kids will watch a movie while I read.

Here’s what I am reading this summer:

1-The summer Bible study from She Reads Truth.  It is called Women in the Word and it is 9 weeks of learning all about women in the Bible.  I love reading about real women with real struggles and how God helped them through, and I am also loving the pictures of modern-day women in the word that are sprinkled throughout the book.

2- Make It Happen by Lara Casey.  This was the winter book club selection for The Influence Network and, while I am REALLY, REALLY behind on this book (the book club is over, for goodness sakes), I am enjoying it so much.  It is very inspiring and motivating.

3.  More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena Miller and Paul Stutzman.  I believe in a simple, peaceful life, which is what this book is about.  This is the book I am looking forward to reading every night.

4.  Frommer’s The Carolina’s and Georgia.  I always keep this travel guide in my nightstand just in case we’re going somewhere close by, but I have it out this summer since we’re traveling to The Outer Banks for our beach vacation next month.

5.  Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Homeschooling by Kelly Crawford.  Since I am homeschooling my children, I think this is pretty self-explanatory!:)

Charlie and I are also reading the first book in the Harry Potter series, which is so exciting to a book nerd like me.  We are spending a little time each night reading it, so it will probably take us the good part of the summer to complete it, but I sure am enjoying it.  It’s been awhile since I read the first book, so it’s like reading it for the first time all over again.

What are you reading this summer?

 

Kids Doing What Kids Do at the Beach

Aug 10, 2014
mommyinbonlee

We had a great vacation at Ocean Isle last week with the entire (and I mean ENTIRE) family.  Everyone was there to celebrate the marriage of my brother-in-law and his wonderful new wife.  They are two very special people and I am so excited and happy for them.

Despite a few rainy days, the kids had such a good time with all of their cousins and grandparents there.  They played hard, that’s for sure! We spent every minute that we could on the beach or at the pool, ate lots of big breakfasts and dinners, and just enjoyed being around everyone.

After the wedding, which was on our first full day there, I didn’t pull the camera back out until our last day.

Here are a few of the shots I got.  I am not posting too many, because kids basically do the same few things over and over again while playing on the beach!

Charlie running...

Charlie running…

 

Emma running...

Emma running…

 

Maddie running...

Maddie running…

 

...and Addison running.

…and Addison running.

 

Just one more of Addison running, because she is just the cutest runner ever!

Just one more of Addison running, because she is just the cutest runner ever!

 

Another favorite pastime of kids on the beach...digging.  Here's Maddie digging...

Another favorite pastime of kids on the beach…digging. Here’s Maddie digging…

 

...and Addison digging...

…and Addison digging…

 

...and Charlie really doing some digging!

…and Charlie really doing some digging!

 

They really worked hard digging this trench.  Well, really I did it!

They really worked hard digging this trench. Well, really I did it!

 

...but here's why.  It kept them occupied for quite awhile!

…but here’s why. It kept them occupied for quite awhile!

 

Kids also spend a lot of time on the beach getting sand onto every part of their body imaginable.  Here's Emma busy at work getting sandy...

Kids also spend a lot of time on the beach getting sand onto every part of their body imaginable. Here’s Emma busy at work getting sandy…

 

...and no better way to get completely covered in sand than to jump into a hole and sit!

…and no better way to get completely covered in sand than to jump into a hole and sit!

 

They also spent a while playing in a bucket of water.  Here's Addison trying to get out...

They also spent a while playing in a bucket of water, which, according to the warning label on the side of the bucket, was probably not a good idea!  Here’s Addison trying to get out…

 

...and Charlie attempting to bury Maddie in the bucket.

…and Charlie attempting to bury Maddie in the bucket.

As you can see, the kids worked really hard and had a great time!  They slept really well at night, and so did all of the adults!

Now that we’re back from this vacation, it’s a busy time for us.  We have VBS at church next weekend, then Charlie starts school the very next day and Maddie starts dance classes.  I’m looking forward to getting into a routine, and for fall, football, and pumpkin-flavored and scented everything!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge (A Week Belated): On Top

Apr 27, 2014
mommyinbonlee

Last weeks weekly photo challenge was to share a photo that says “On Top.”  I know that I usually share photos of my kids and things that are going on in my life at the moment, but as soon as I saw this challenge I knew what picture I wanted to share.  The reason I am a week late is because the picture was taken over 6 years ago, and it took me awhile to find where I had stored it.

Jason took this picture of me in 2008 when we traveled to Italy.  We rode the train from Rome into the mountains to a smaller town called Orvieto, and spent the day walking around exploring.  It was a really great day for us.

We thought it would be fun to climb to the top of this really old bell tower.  It was TONS of steps to make it to the top, and we had already spent almost the entire day walking, so it seemed like we would never make it, but we did and it was totally worth it so see this ancient town from up high.

Here’s the picture that I have always loved so much.  I don’t know why I like it so much, but I do!

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While we were up there, the bell actually began to ring, and it was deafening!

Here’s another picture of the actual view from the top:

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Jason and I have seen lots of views from the top of different places all over the world, but I will always remember this as one of my favorites!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/on-top/

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