Florida Travels Part 1 | Vacation Woes

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My family recently returned from a 7-day trip to Orlando, Florida.  Expect the unexpected because I am starting with the negatives of the trip.  Prepare yourself for ranting and venting.

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1.  I have always wanted to travel the world, but I am having second thoughts.  On the way to Florida, the layover in Dallas lasted four hours instead of one hour; sleeping in an airport is definitely not comfortable.  Despite not having problems in the past, I got extremely sick during the flights.  In a nutshell, I am no longer a fan of flying.

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2.  I lived in Texas for 13 years, and the humidity was unbearable.  Visiting Florida was like reliving a nightmare.  Non-stop sweating, irritability, and face breakouts.  Fun stuff!!

3.  I have heard tales of the hissing cockroaches in the sunshine state.  I believed they were big but thought the size was exaggerated.  NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!  Me and my brother, while exploring the resort grounds, discovered the dead body of a cockroach.  Believe me when I tell you the stories are not an exaggeration.  Hissing cockroaches are BIG.

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4.  Hotel prices are ridiculous.  I paid $14 for SPF 15 sunscreen.  Seriously???

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5.  Where are all the kids coming from??  Is there a fall break from grade school that I have never heard of??  Either that or everyone in Florida is home-schooled.

6.  Sports highs are amazing.  Sports lows, not so much.  Unfortunately, during the trip, the Anaheim Angels came up one game short of the playoffs, and the USC Trojans were upset by Washington.  My heart is still recovering.

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7.  I had a blast at Disney World, but the crowds were both unexpected and annoying.  My family purposefully went during October because it is supposed to be a slow month.  If that is a slow month, I cannot even fathom what summertime is like.  The crowds were massive, and the people were, more often than not, rude.  I had a lot of fun, but I would be lying if I said the amount of people didn’t make me miserable more than once.

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8.  Never EVER wear converse to a theme park.  For the first two out of three days at Disney World, I wore Converse.  NEVER AGAIN!!  I cannot even begin to explain the excruciating pain, limping, and blisters I endured.  Thankfully, my family lifted my spirits by making me laugh and allowing me to sit and rest every now and then.

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9.  Vacation is exhausting!  I know that might sound snobby and/or ungrateful, but I am being dead serious.  I need a post-vacation vacation.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.  The theme is Disney World versus Disneyland.  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Sweater Weather

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My 2014 – 2015 winter is complete.  I have now experienced snow on the west coast and in the south.  Despite a week’s worth of winter weather, today is the first authentic snow day.  REAL snow has been falling since early morning.  I am currently sitting in the TV room on the second story of my house watching snow fall outside the window, sipping a caramel latte, blogging, and watching “Ghost Whisperer.”  I am quite possibly experiencing a piece of Heaven right now.  Here is a picture of my backyard to help you imagine what I am experiencing today:

Sweater Weather

No hate intended, but the incessant amount of social media posts regarding a longing for spring and summer to hurry up and arrive sadden me.  I am absolutely obsessed with fall and winter.  I love dark clouds and rain and snow and wind.  Perhaps it’s my inner poet, but I find much more inspiration in seeing chaos (falling snow, rainstorms, etc) outside my window rather than clear skies and sun.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I love nature in all forms.  I chose landscape photography as a focus in college!  But, my heart will always belong to the colder months.  I am, after all, an autumn baby.

I hope all of you have a pleasant day, snow or not.  Stay cozy readers!

– Lauren Michele :)

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No Place Like Home

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During the holidays, there is much to see: Christmas lights, family and friends, holiday shows, store displays, etc.  But, in my mind and heart, there is nowhere better to be than safe and snug within one’s own home.  Here is my December 20th favorite:

Where is your favorite place to be at Christmastime?  I could say my house and be done, but that is not my full answer.  I told my tale of Christmases past involving a Christmas tree farm, but this post revolves around the results.  It feels good to complete the process of cutting down a tree, driving it all the way home, grooming it, maneuvering it into the house, setting it up, watering it, and decorating it.  Why not take a step back and admire the finished product, a question that brings me back to my main point.  My favorite place to be at Christmastime is snuggled up on my living room couch admiring the glow of the Christmas tree lights, preferably at night.  Another positive side effect is how beautiful the other decorations look bathed in the glow of the colorful lights.  In the case that my family does not purchase a tree, I am satisfied with laying on the living room couch and staring at the nativity scene.  Each character has a unique, meaningful story, and each story centers around one being: Jesus, the Reason for the season.  What a way to spend the day!

Stay tuned for my favorite ornament and favorite decoration.  Yes, those are two different things.

Stay merry readers!  Only 5 more days until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele  :)

“Let there be light.”  – Genesis 1:3

Seasonal Smells

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It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!!!  Today’s post is all about the senses, specifically smell.  Here is my December 19th favorite:

What is your favorite holiday scent?  This is an easy answer: Evergreen (a.k.a Christmas trees).  I don’t think it has to do with the fact that Christmas trees are a common family tradition.  When I think of Christmas, I think of winter and walking through snow therefore I like the the scent of evergreen because it reminds me of the picturesque outdoor scene in my head.

Discussing Christmas trees has reminded me of a childhood memory, and I have decided to share that memory with you as a bonus.  My family did not participate in the Christmas tree tradition until we moved to Texas.  A few years after our move, a couple from our church invited us to accompany them on their annual Christmas tree farm trip.  The drive took 1-2 hours, but it was well worth it.  The entire day consisted of riding in a trailer, picking and cutting down a Christmas tree, spinning on a tire swing hung from a tree, eating hot dogs cooked over an open flame, and drinking hot cocoa.  Even though we only repeated the experience twice, it is something I will never forget.  I am holding those memories especially close this year because my family does not have a tree.

Stay merry readers!  Only 6 more days until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele  :)

“Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when it’s cold and drear.
Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
Thy leaves are so unchanging!”  – “O Christmas Tree”

Mary & Joseph

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If you are not a hopeless romantic, this blog post may not be for you.  If you are a hopeless romantic or just plain curious, read on.  Here is my December 18th favorite:

What is your favorite part of the Christmas story?  I will stop here and inform you that it is your choice what Christmas story you pick.  In my mind, the Christmas story is the story of Jesus’ birth.  My favorite part of the Christmas story is the relationship between Mary and Joseph.  Many christian authors write about love stories from the Bible, but Mary and Joseph are left alone, most likely out of respect for Jesus.  Not a lot is said about either of them, but I can clearly see a love story in what is unsaid.  Back in those times, Jewish marriages were arranged by the parents.  The marriages were not based on what we would call “true love” or “love at first sight”, but that does not mean love did not exist.  I see love in Joseph’s faith to obey God and marry a girl who was seemingly pregnant out of wedlock.  I see love in Mary’s willingness to accompany her husband to Bethlehem despite her circumstance.  The story of Mary and Joseph is not a romance novel full of public affection but rather a story of love quietly developed over time through unity and virtue.  Intimate details are not required to create an attractive love story.  Love is a powerful thing; in pure, genuine form, it’s beauty should speak for itself, no words required.

I am sorry to those of you who aren’t really into romance.  Please stay tuned for the next blog post tomorrow.

Also, the most important part of the Christmas story is Jesus.  My choice was made based on all options apart from Jesus’ birth because that is an obvious choice for any believer.

Stay merry readers!  Only 7 days left until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele  :)

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yetdid not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”               – Matthew 1:19-20

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledthe Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:28-38

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world(This was the first census that took place whileQuirinius was governor of Syria.).  And everyone went to their own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  Luke 2:1-7

 

 

Faith in the Unseen

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This post is all about faith.  Leave now if you are not ready to receive such a message.  Here is my December 17th favorite:

What is your favorite holiday quote?  My favorite holiday quote is from the movie “Polar Express”: “…sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”  Based on personal observation, people today put more emphasis on believing in what can be seen than what cannot be seen.  Why is that so?  I can answer this because it is true for myself: It is easier to mentally process something that can be seen and physically touched.  Putting faith in something invisible means giving up control, and that is not something our human nature takes to easily.  This world is not giving me much to put my faith in.  Why not give up control and believe there is something beyond the physical and visible?

Stay merry readers!  Only 8 more days until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele  :)

“…sometime the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”  – “Polar Express”

Festive Attire

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Today’s post is all about looking festive for the holiday season.  This time of the year should cause all of us to look at the condition of our heart.  Once the results are what they should be, the exterior should match the interior.  If we feel joyous on the inside, why not look composed and confident on the outside?  Here is my December 16th favorite:

What is your favorite holiday article of clothing or accessory?  My favorite holiday accessory is my snowflake earrings.  They are beautiful and put me in the Christmas spirit.  Their clean silver and white color combo matches any outfit I wear and adds a hint of sparkle.

I have not gotten into ugly Christmas sweaters, but it is a universal Christmas tradition.  Beware!  I am going to get deep for a minute.  What a way to bring the world together!  Wearing Christmas sweaters that are labeled as “ugly”.  Most of the time, people would avoid wearing anything described as ugly.  Is the time of year and the fact that everyone does it really all it takes to make it acceptable?  Food for thought.

Stay merry readers!  Only 9 more days until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele  :)

“A piece of clothing is a way to express your real identity, a way to show everybody else your values and convictions.”

Family Ties

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Due to my lack of creativity at the present moment, I am sticking to the gift theme.  I will first give an explanation of my favorite for this week.  Have you ever received an unexpected gift?  For example, maybe you have been given a coffee mug, and the box was equally as nice and useful.  Or perhaps the unexpected gift is a memory associated with the actual gift.  I hope my explanation is helpful.  Here is my December 15th favorite:

What is your favorite unexpected gift?  In 2004, American Girl came out with a Samantha DVD.  I really wanted it, and my younger brother obliged.  His thoughtfulness meant a lot to me, as did a small unexpected gift that was unintentional: The DVD came with a locket, the same one pictured above.  I outgrew the DVD but still have the locket as a reminder of my brother, whom I love very much.  Treasure your family while you have them close to you!!!

Stay merry readers!

– Lauren Michele  :)

“Ohana means family.  Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”  – Stitch, “Lilo & Stitch”

From Me to You

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My previous post explored the feelings of receiving a gift that leaves a lasting impression.  What about giving?    Here is my December 14th Favorite:

What is your favorite gift that you have given?  This is a hard question to answer, and I’m the one who came up with the idea.  I think the perfect answer to express my thoughts is happiness.  Seeing happiness on the face of the person receiving my gift(s) makes spending time and money worth it no matter the amount.  An even better experience is watching the receiver use that gift.  It feels good to know that the receiver is not only happy but also appreciates your efforts.  Gift-giving should be a selfless act, but everyone wants to feel appreciated in some way.  For me, seeing the gift put to use is enough.

What is your favorite gift that you have given?

Stay merry readers!

– Lauren Michele  :)

“May no gift be too small to give, nor too simple to receive, which is wrapped in thoughtfulness, and tied with love.”  – L.O. Baird

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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The moment when the ornate paper is gently unwrapped, the box opened with anticipation, and the contents revealed to genuine surprise.  I hope all of you have had the pleasure of experiencing such a special moment.  Christmas lists are made, and Christmas gifts are given, the same routine year in and year out.  But, there is always at least one present that leaves a lasting impression.  Here is my December 13th favorite:

What is your favorite Christmas gift?  I cannot recall the exact date, but several years ago, my parents gave me and my brother iPod Nanos.  I already had a love for music, but being able to carry my music everywhere in a compact way boosted my obsession.  That small music player has been with me through dance performances, late night vocal sessions, road trips, and college classes; it created memory after memory therefore it truly was a gift that kept on giving.

Do you have a favorite Christmas gift?

Stay merry readers!

– Lauren Michele  :)

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”                 – Sigrid Undset