Friday, April 22, 2016

Casual Fridays

So remember way back when Cody and I were going to Busch Gardens like, every two seconds and hanging out in the Animal Care Center 'cause we're major nerds and love stuff like that, and I told you that Busch Gardens had two pregnant sloths and we got to see them do an ultrasound on one of them? Oh you don't remember? Click here.

Ok, now that you're caught up: we went back to Busch Gardens on Wednesday after not going at all in the months of February and March (because moving, duh), and we found out that both sloths had their babies! 

And not only that, they brought Grizzly's baby into the Animal Care Center for a little check-up because apparently he's been gassy and starting to reject some of his food. TMI? Sorry, but I find this stuff fascinating, and I'm about to tell you all about it. So here's a collage of our latest visit:
I think if you click on the collage, you might be able to make it bigger and be able to see just how stinkin' cute that teeny tiny baby sloth is. 

Okay, now stay with me. Busch Gardens had two pregnant sloths: Daisy and Grizzly. Back in January, we got to watch the vets do an ultrasound on Grizzly. Now Grizzly's pregnancy was kind of a surprise so they had not been training her to do these ultrasounds so she wasn't particularly cooperative. They HAD been training Daisy and monitoring her pregnancy very closely because apparently sloth pregnancies are kind of rare and not a lot is known about the gestation period of a sloth and yada, yada, yada. Anyway, Grizzly had her baby March 24th, and Daisy had her baby April 2nd (while I was in Miami). When we got to Busch Gardens on Wednesday, we went immediately to the Animal Care Center (where they were checking up on the swollen knee of a muntjac) and found out they were about to bring Grizzly's baby in for a check-up. Turns out, Grizzly rejected him so now they are hand-raising him. If you look up to that collage, you can see pictures of baby Kota in the top left and top right corners. They keep him on a fuzzy stuffed toy sloth to simulate him clinging to his mother. Now, I don't particularly care for adult sloths or think they're in any way attractive, but that tiny little guy was adorable. The middle picture at the top of the collage was the announcement for Daisy's baby. We tried to get a peek at her, but apparently, Daisy is Little Miss Perfect Sloth Mama and had her offspring all wrapped up tight out of view. They haven't named Daisy's baby yet, but apparently she is thriving and was born weighing twice as much as Grizzly's baby, and she's already starting to eat leaves which I guess is a big deal. I'm #teamkota just because come on, we got to see an ultrasound of him before he was born and then we got to see him! (Not to mention, I kindof have a soft spot in my heart--read: my whole heart--for the orphaned and abandoned, and apparently, that extends to animal babies as well.) Are you so bored with all this? Well, I just think it's amazingly cool, and Cody and I hung out in the Animal Care Center for like an hour and a half before we even went to do anything else in the park. It's just too crazy that we saw Grizzly's ultrasound and then more than two months later, got to see her baby totally coincidentally! We weren't even sure if the baby sloths would be born while we still had our passes. So cool.

Moving on.

It was time for another round of haircuts for the four-legged members of our family, and this time around, they did a much better job with Colonel. (Probably because I got a bit obsessively specific when they asked how I wanted things done.)
Here's a photo I snapped of them being sweet and snuggly with each other on Tuesday night. Don't they look like a couple of rugs?
And here's their after picture from yesterday afternoon. Aren't they the best? (The answer to that is, of course they are!) As you can see, Major isn't quite as filled out as Colonel, but he is every bit as tall and will probably keep getting taller. We finally upgraded him to a big-boy crate because he could barely fit in his puppy one anymore. 

And if you've kept reading all the way to this point and you're wondering why in the world you did and you were hoping to get to something more interesting or at least something about a book for crying out loud....I'm sorry. This is the end. Here's another picture of my cute, freshly-groomed dogs:
I know my brothers and sister will appreciate this post even if no one else does. And if you're really here to read something about books, check out yesterday's post where I recapped Sense & Sensibility by my favorite authoress Miss Jane Austen. 

Word to your mother.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Sense & Sensibility

Ah, Sense & Sensibility. My first love in the wonderful world of Austen. The novel that drew me in and gave me an insatiable appetite for the rest of Miss Jane's fabulous fiction. Sense & Sensibility was the first Jane Austen novel I ever read, and (in case you couldn't tell), I've been in love with Jane Austen ever since. If you caught the most recent Casual Friday around here, you know that I just finished re-reading it last week so let's recap.

Jane Austen began writing Sense & Sensibility when she was 19. She had it published on commission (meaning she ran the risk of having to pay for any losses the publisher might incur if it didn't sell) in 1811 when she was 36 years old. It was published without an author's name attached because at that time, female authors were shunned by their own sex and despised by the other. Pretty rough. But Sense & Sensibility turned out to be a success and sold out its first printing in 2 to 3 years.

Sense & Sensibility centers around two of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. After the death of Henry Dashwood, his wife and three daughters have to leave their beloved Norwood due to a legal technicality which bequeathed the estate to Henry's only son from a different marriage. Even though this son, John Dashwood, is already wealthy before coming into this new inheritance, and even though John promises his father on his father's deathbed that he will take care of his sisters and stepmother, his selfish wife Fanny talks him out of any good deeds he contrives to complete on behalf of them.

The Dashwood women end up at a cottage in Barton Park and become close to such characters as the Middletons, Mrs. Jennings, Colonel Brandon, and Mr. Willoughby. Throughout the novel, we see the practical, even-keeled, sensible Elinor (the sense in Sense & Sensibility) facing disappointment in love sharply contrasted by the dramatic, over-emotional, self-indulgent Marianne (the sensibility) also dealing with romantic disappointments of her own.

Elinor Dashwood is my very favorite of all of Austen's leading ladies. She's smart, self-sufficient, commander of her emotions, polite, and strong. She cares about her family and loves them through their flaws while still gently correcting poor conduct in her sisters and even her mother. She is a model woman, and we girls could all take a page from her book

Marianne, on the other hand, is a bit cray-cray. But we can forgive her because she's only 17, and, in the end, she does take a page from her sister's book and strives to be more like her. The way that Marianne learns from and grows because of her sister Elinor's example is commendable especially because she does so in spite of the fact that her natural behavior is so similar to and encouraged by her mother.

As for the leading men in Sense & Sensibility, Colonel Brandon, Willoughby, and Edward Ferrars, (I won't tell you who ends up with whom) I have to admit that they're among my least favorite of Austen's literary men. I wouldn't personally want to marry any of them. That being said, I love this novel, and I love the way it turns out.

Sense & Sensibility is such a well-developed story, and I would highly recommend it. The characters are complex and the plot takes some twists along the way that you might not expect. Jane Austen writes with such wit and sarcasm which is one of the reasons she's one of my favorite authors of all time. If you haven't read anything by her, Sense & Sensibility is a great place to start, in my opinion.

My favorite quote from Sense & Sensibility, almost at the very end of the book, is this:
"...for though a very few hours spent in the hard labour of incessant talking will dispatch more subjects than can really be in common between any two rational creatures, yet with lovers it is different. Between them no subject is finished, no communication is even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over."
I mean, can you relate? Don't you just love that? I do.

Have you read anything by Jane Austen? What is your favorite Jane Austen novel? Any Austen haters out there? Why don't you like her? (I promise I won't burn you at the stake as long as you have a genuine opinion based on an actual knowledge of her work.) For anyone who has read Sense & Sensibility, would you agree that it's a good starting place to wade into the world of Austen or would you recommend something else?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Tuesday Confession

My husband and I listen to episodes of Adventures in Odyssey every night when we go to bed.
We've done this pretty much ever since we got married. 
He usually falls asleep less than 4 minutes into the first episode we turn on. 
But I sometimes am up past midnight listening and playing Solitaire.
Does this mean I'm 10? 
Will I ever grow up? 
Do you have any strange night-time rituals?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Casual Fridays

Well, I stayed up till almost 1 AM last night finishing Sense & Sensibility. Once I get to a certain point in that book (namely, Willoughby's big confession to Elinor), I just can't stop reading until I've finished it. It's always bittersweet coming to the end of such a friendly novel. 

But anyway, a couple minutes after I finished reading and was about to actually get some sleep, my phone started ringing. At 1:00 in the morning. It was a facetime call from my little brother who is currently in Hawaii and sending me pictures like this:
Oh and my other brother is in Thailand right now with his wife sending me pictures like this:
Yes. Those are for real tigers. 

Did I mention that my little sister is an Air Force PILOT and was also just named Cadet of the Year for the second year in a row? 

My family is so bomb. 

And even though I'm a little jealous of those Hawaii photos and the knowledge that Oak and Caroline will be (if they haven't already) riding elephants, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than snuggled up to my man in bed, eating Ben & Jerry's straight out of the carton, and watching Bones at 2 AM because we just finished talking to Reagan on the facetime and were wide awake. Life is sweet.

Link Love
Your Blog Post Wasn't About Me : This is so true. If you don't like something you read, then for the love just move on and read something else, people! Is it really necessary to leave hateful, ugly comments on every single little thing you disagree with?! If you can't contribute to the conversation in a healthy way, it's time to leave the internet and never come back.

Florida News : You guys. This is just too hilarious. Only in Florida. I died.

What The Cross Has Meant To Me : And this one made me cry. Thank you, Jesus!

How I Spend Money : I can't even. This chick totally gets me. 

Thank You, Mom : My husband just showed me this, and I'm having a lot of feelings. P&G. #nailedit

Well, that's about it for today. Oh, except, here's this:
That first link I shared could have had this picture in it. I don't know who thinks of this stuff, but right?!

I hope your weekend is spectacular and whine-free. And if you're a praying person, send a few up for me tonight because I'm going to be rocking an All-Nighter with a bunch of 5th and 6th grade girls and guess what showed up this morning....hint.

Seen or read anything good on the internet lately? What's awesome about your family? Any big plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy Birthday to the Best Mother-in-Law!

Happy Birthday, Mommy Trina! I love you forever!
Easter 2011
Brock Wedding ~ May 2014

Friday, April 8, 2016

Casual Fridays

Another Friday, another casual post. And how about making this one a Photo-Prompted Post since it's been a couple weeks and lots of stuff has been going on, ok? Good. 
First up: the Major. I feel like I haven't put up as many pictures of him as I have of the Colonel because he always just looks like a big black shadow whenever I try to snap a photo. But he's just the sweetest most lovable puppy in the world. He's every bit as big as Colonel now, and I think he's still got some growing left to do yet. He'd eat everything (including my ChapStick--remember when Colonel did that? what is it with puppies and ChapStick?!) and then keep going if we'd let him. He's the best. You should meet him.
This was back from St. Patrick's Day a.k.a (and more importantly) Danette's birthday! We surprised her with a little party at Manny's, and y'all, you've never seen true joy if you haven't seen this chick being surprised by her two nieces coming all the way from Tallahassee a day early and showing up at her school. I only saw a video of it myself, but it was too. good. Think green mullet and two cute blondes. Anyway, I love these ladies and I love this picture. iPhones for the win, amiright?!
Thought you were going to make it out of here without a photo collage or two? Think again. Collages are a game changer for our Photo-Prompted Posts in a fabulous way. Instead of posting 11 individual pictures for a specific event: voila! Collage it and now maybe you'll actually make it to the end of this post without quitting or hating me. Anyway, this is Gatorland! We took our Guard girls there on March 19th, and yes, those are real gators, you guys. And they were everywhere. This was actually my very first visit to Gatorland, and I can't believe I've never been before. Even though we got rained on, the girls had a fabulous time, and I have to admit, I want to go back and try out their (apparently) world-famous zipline. Cody thinks I'm totally crazy 'cause ain't no way brother's gonna' be suspended by a string over a multitude of hungry gators. But I'm down to try it. As long as I'm not suspended over any snakes which, as you can see if you look to the bottom right of our collage, ain't got nothin' on Miss Mary. Those same guys tried to put two gigantic, hairy, disgusting tarantulas on me (and no, I'm not kidding), but they picked the wrong girl for that trick. I was back to my seat in about 6 seconds flat and they got some willing sucker to hold those nasty things. #notthiswhitegirl  #notever
Y'all. Apparently, Colonel is just as big of an Austen fan as I am. I had been lying (laying?) on the floor reading with Colonel nearby (like he always is), and I got up to get a tissue because allergies, and when I turn around, this is what I see. I can't even. How sweet is he?!
Speaking of allergies, it rained a whole bunch last week, and I haven't been suffering very much at all anymore. All the praise hands! And the weather this week has been perfect. Cool in the mornings and evenings and sunny with a breeze during the day. It's what I like to call Be Out In It Weather and believe me, I have. I've pretty much just been coming in to sleep. #floridagirlforeverrrr
Umm...the most recent bag of carrots I bought has been a little funky. As in: every handful I've grabbed has included 2 or 3 of these mutant, siamese carrots. Should I be concerned? 
So I've instituted a monthly Girls Movie Night at my house, and I can always count on these two to stay till they have to wake me up and tell me they're leaving. It's been so fun, and I hope we can keep it up because every girl needs girl time, and really, how am I ever supposed to break in to the twenty-first century without girlfriends to teach me how to snapchat?
Am I doing it right?
This past weekend was Living Proof Live in Miami. I've been looking forward to this since they posted the schedule for this year, and I bought my early-bird ticket about as soon as they went on sale. Up till just a couple weeks ago, I thought I'd be going all by my lonesome, but I finally convinced this girl that she needed to come with me, and I'm so glad she did. I can honestly echo the same words I used last year when I told you about Living Proof Live in Tampa: it was a powerful, Spirit-filled weekend of edification and worship. This time around, Ms. Beth brought us some lessons from the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 and challenged us to pray for GIANT DEFIANT faith. I'm so thankful for special pockets of focused time geared specifically toward worshipping our Mighty God, and I'm also thankful for sweet sisters in Christ, especially Amy. The recap video for this particular event can be found here, and did you notice our little secret Siesta photo? There were only 6 of us this year! We each got to hug Ms. Beth's sweet neck and chat with her for a couple minutes. How fun! #becausecheese #insidejoke #1samuel17:18
Because can you get enough of my dogs? I can't. This is a new favorite picture of them. Since our new house is almost completely carpeted, they love to lie (lay?) on the little square of tiles at the front door or in one of the bathrooms to keep cool while we're all just relaxing inside, but I caught them like this on the linoleum in the kitchen the other night. I think this picture might give me diabetes it's just so stinkin' sweet. 

Have you had just about enough yet? We're almost done, I promise.

Speaking of precious sisters in Christ, one of mine just handed my husband and me an envelope on Sunday completely out of the blue, and inside was my new favorite thing. An American flag ChapStick keychain. Which I can only assume she made. And it even had a brand new tube of lip balm in it. Y'all. Remember how excited I was when I found this one? It doesn't even compare to this new one, mostly because it wasn't made especially for me by such a thoughtful, praying lady. Thank you, Miss Rhonda! I absolutely love it!
I started a new Bible study this week, and I'm really excited about the study and the group of women I'll be studying alongside of. This is the first Bible study I've ever done by Jennifer Rothschild, and she is just as sweet as sugar. I can tell I'm going to love it. The very first day of homework already had me crying some tender tears. What a blessing to have God's Word in my own two hands and to see His unfailing love for His own on every page! Hallelujah!
Alright. Last one. Just me and my boys soaking up that gorgeous Florida sunshine this week. Lookin' a hot mess per usual. If you made it all the way down to this, I congratulate you. Tell me what's going on with you! And if you can figure out how to leave your own photo in the comments, all the better. Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"Is there nothing to sing about today? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be."

~Charles Haddon Spurgeon~