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Mysteries, polka dots, California Rolls, TJ Maxx, cozy blankets, rainy days and getting the first spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar make me smile. Spiders, rude people, cold fingers and toes, baby leashes, people that don't wrap their packages before going to the Post Office, poison ivy and Math (pretty much all of it) make me want to scream. My perfect day would be spent with my wonderful husband and sweet girls- watching movies in our jammies! Of course, having the movie theater to ourselves would be great, too. Please pass the popcorn and M&M's.:) I am saved by the grace of God. He is my constant companion and hears my every prayer. What a blessing! I'd love to hear from you! Lori at toosillysisters@cox.net

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the ferry to tofino and a gloriously rainy drive

Years ago, when Katie was about 3, we told her we were going to be riding a ferry.  She was so excited!  I mean *really* excited.  She almost couldn't sleep the night before the event.

Bless her heart, when we arrived at the ferry she was extremely disappointed.  She thought we were going to be riding a "fairy"!  Sweet pea.

Years later, she was pretty excited to be riding the Queen of Alberni.  We all were!  It was large, with lots to explore, comfortable seating, a gift shop and a cafeteria that offered, among other things, hot tea, ice cream and french fries served with vinegar and ketchup.  Giddy up!

Before we embarked, we visited the gift shops and refreshments off board.  There was a bit of everything- tempting baked goods...

and even Bubble Tea!  The tapioca balls at the bottom of the drink are such fun.

I got a kick out of the top of the Happy Planet drinks.  Very happy!:)  The Cherry Raspberry sounds yummy- a bit of tart and sweet.

There was creamy gelato, too, but the cool temperatures had me heading straight to the Starbucks.  (The Salted Caramel was calling my name.)

Once we got on board we headed straight outside.  It was cold and so very windy- but exhilarating!  I decided that I wanted to ride the ferry every day.  It's over a 2 hour trip but think of all the dreaming and reading you could do on the way.  

Even a trip to the restroom was fun.  We were on vacation!

Back outside for more pictures.  You certainly can't miss my tennis shoes, can you?

It began to rain a bit so we ventured inside.  More pictures were taken and french fries were nibbled on.  (Check out my sister on the right.  Sorry sis!  lol)

Time to get back in the car and head to Tofino!  It's about a 4 hour drive.  Just enough time to grab a sandwich at Subway and stop for a few pictures along the highway.  It was just too gorgeous not to stop.  Lush green everywhere you looked.  And rain, glorious rain, that made us don our coats and winter hats.  I was deliriously happy.

Snow in the distance and low clouds as we climbed higher through the mountains.

Waterfalls were a common sight.  See the one in the picture (below) on the mountain?

I was intrigued by the tree that had fallen below.  It was enormous!  I wonder what the story is...

The sound of the water as it tumbled along was a rumbling roar.  Almost like the ocean, but angrier.  

In my opinion, God spent a bit more time decorating the Pacific Northwest.  It's almost too lovely to be real.

Mandy has declared Canada to be her second home.

I'm right there with you, sweetie.

Monday, April 14, 2014

No Greatness without Goodness by Randy Lewis- A Book That Will Change Your Life

My Thoughts:

"Will all those in the audience who have a son or daughter, a relative, or a neighbor with a disability- anyone who holds someone with a disability in his or her heart- please stand up?"

I'm standing straight up.  Are you?

"1 out of every 5 Americans has some disability.  Only 16% of people with a severe disability such as deafness, legal blindness, intellectual disability, autism, or an inability to walk are employed." We all have limits to a certain degree.  I fear public speaking, flying, spiders and roller coasters!  But when it comes down to it our options for the future are unlimited.  I want you to consider for a minute that we all have dreams and one common aspiration is to feel needed, independent and productive.  For much too long people with disabilities have been severely limited in their options for a productive life.  It's heartbreaking.  Randy Lewis, retired Senior Vice President of Walgreens, saw an opportunity for change and stepped up to the challenge.  He's a modern day hero and his story, No Greatness Without Goodness, is a shining example of what can be done to better the world as long as you don't let fear stop you.  After reading this book I want to do ALL my shopping at Walgreens.

The book begins with Randy Lewis telling us about his family.  He has three wonderful children and his son, Austin, just happens to have autism.  A curve ball that parents never see coming.  Through their family's journey Mr. Lewis began to explore options for Austin's future and he wasn't satisfied with what he discovered.  The world tends to view the disabled as "them" and we need to start seeing all people as "us."

Mr. Lewis painstakingly put into motion an inclusive model for a Walgreens distribution center.  Other companies, such as Lowe's and Best Buy, were inspired by this and followed suit.  (I know where I'm going to be doing my shopping!)  Not only do they provide jobs and a paycheck, they give hope and a future to those who had none.  They pay the employees "the same as people without disabilities, have them perform the same jobs, and hold them to the same standards.  They offer full benefits and full-time employment."  I read parts of this inspiring story to my husband and he immediately purchased the book to read on his iPad.  I guarantee you'll feel the same way.  The author is even willing to donate all his proceeds from this book.  It's thrilling to see how passionate he is about this cause.  Everyone should read No Greatness without Goodness.  Every one of us.

If there is one book you need to read this year, this is it.  No Greatness Without Goodness is life changing, inspiring, and beautiful.  It will make you think, help you view people in a different and very beautiful way and perhaps even make you cry.  It will definitely make you cheer!

About the Book, No Greatness Without Goodness:

Randy Lewis bet his career that he could create an inclusive workplace at one of America’s biggest corporations where people with disabilities could not just succeed, but thrive. No Greatness without Goodness is the powerful story of a corporate executive who, after watching the world through the eyes of his own child with autism, Austin, realized that we all have a greater responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone, including those with disabilities.

As the Senior Vice President of Walgreens, Randy Lewis has created thousands of full-time jobs for people with disabilities. No Greatness without Goodness offers a firsthand account of what it takes to lead with courage in order to change people’s lives for the better. Randy’s motto is “What’s the use of having power if you don’t use it to do good.” In this book, you’ll learn how to start working for good no matter where you are or how much power you hold. 

About the author, Randy Lewis:

Randy Lewis, former Vice President of Walgreens, Peace Corps volunteer, Fortune 50 executive and accidental advocate, led Walgreens' logistics division for sixteen years as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores. Randy introduced an inclusive model in Walgreens distribution centers that resulted in ten percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities who are held to the same standards as those without disabilities. Its success has changed the lives of thousands with and without disabilities and is serving as a model for other employers in the U.S and abroad. 

*I was given a copy of this wonderful book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Saturday, April 12, 2014

first class and the fairmont

Let me take a teeny step back to the day before we left for Canada.
We boarded Snookie (The ladies there LOVE him and call him Mr. Snookie.  They even come running out when he arrives.  No joke.  They have no idea what our names are.)

Ruby doesn't do well with being boarded.  She gets terribly stressed and sheds like Pigpen.  Fresh air and lots of love is more her style so off we went to grandma's house.:)

A peek at our attempts to travel lightly.  We're getting better.
Kind of.

Above the clouds with blissfully smooth air.  Thank you, Lord.

My parents were more than generous and booked us seats in First Class!  (They know I have a fear of flying.)  I felt a bit guilty, well, a lot guilty (my husband and Katie were in coach), but blessed at the same time.  They were stuck in the back next to a lady with a terrible cough and extreme dandruff. (When I first saw her I thought it was LICE and started fiercely praying.)  Oh, my.  
When we landed Katie told me she saw the lady making a list of why she hated her life.  Poor thing.  Would you please join me in saying a little prayer for her?

On the other side of the curtain, we were treated to a Mediterannean snack tray and other goodies.  (Have any of you enjoyed the hot towels?  Oh my goodness.  Heaven.) Airplane food is never fabulous, but being treated like queens made us feel incredible.  I sampled a bit of everything.  Who knows if we'll ever sit in first class again?

The flight attendant, who was amazingly friendly, asked if I'd like some wine with my meal.  (Notice I'm enjoying Coke in the above picture.)  Anyone who knows me well knows I don't enjoy wine, but let me tell you- I sipped some anyway!  I asked him to surprise me with white or red and he brought me BOTH!  (I drank the white but couldn't handle the red. Bleh.)  Then he asked if I'd like some more.  I felt so spoiled and enjoyed every second.

After surviving customs we walked to the Fairmont hotel as it's located IN the airport.  Nice.  We enjoyed room service and felt like we were certainly living la dolce vita!

A little peek at the Fairmont's darling chocolate dipped shortbread cookies. In the shape of airplanes!

Each room has a pair of binoculars so you can watch the planes landing/taking off.  My parent's suite had a telescope.

The view from our room.  You couldn't hear the planes at all.  We had a delightful night's sleep.

I wish there had been more time to sit and watch but breakfast (as well as my parents and sister) awaited us on the club level.

Bagels with lox and cream cheese, pastries, a delightful variety of beverages and other breakfast delights graced our plates.

Such a treat and we wanted to sample it all.

The English/French writing on packaging is always so fun to see.  You know you're not in the U.S. anymore!

We enjoyed our yummy breakfast and then headed out to our next adventure-

the ferry to Victoria, B.C.!

The day had just begun and we still had ferries to ride and miles to drive.  My kind of Amazing Race.  No million dollars at the end but even better- memories to make, pictures to take and lots of meals that I don't have to bake.:)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tofino, Canada and the lovely Wickaninnish Inn

Tofino, Canada.
Never heard of it?  Well, it's my pleasure to take you there today.  It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

I'll start with the glorious Wickaninnish Inn.  It's a member of Relais & Chateaux which signifies how truly special it is.  We were spoiled the whole time with stormy ocean views, fabulous guest rooms, and the pleasantly friendly staff.  I can't wait to take you on the beach to explore!

The day we arrived it was raining and the waves were crashing.  Talk about atmosphere!  Made me want to sit by the fire and try my hand at writing a thrilling mystery.  It was beyond perfect for you stormy weather girls.

Below is the entryway of the inn.  The welcoming staff met us at the door then proceeded to escort us to our rooms.  Polished driftwood and lush bouquets were all a part of the poshly rustic decor. A cozy fireplace blazed against the far wall.

The rooms were beyond lovely.  Cozy fireplaces, heated floors in the bathrooms, and the view!  It was so fabulous that it appeared to be a movie we were watching.  I could've taken pictures from our balcony all day long.

It was amazing how the driftwood had been crafted into tables, chairs- even rockers.  Rustic and elegant at the same time.

The Wickaninnish Inn provides wellies for their guests as well as rain slickers.  They're especially helpful for beach exploring during high tide.;)

The library offered books, movies, puzzles and a telescope, for your viewing pleasure.  And again that view.  Breathtaking.  

(View from the library)

The inn is pet friendly so we met all sorts of lovely little furry friends.  Cashew, a precious little pug, was turning 1 on her stay and the staff provided her with specially wrapped doggie treats.  So fun!  (Cashew's owner just received her graduate degree, which was the real reason for the visit.(: )

Another peek at the library...

and a selfie, because-
why not?;)

We truly were only there for a few minutes, but I was able to capture (almost) everyone in one place. Sorry for the crazy number of pics!

My Mom and the girls working on a puzzle.  We wanted to do everything and nothing at the same time.  (I was so jealous of the surfers on the beach.  They looked like they were having the best time, even though it was freezing outside. I like to believe that I'm a way better reader than they are so we're even... Right?)

A wall carving of the Wickaninnish Inn.

This is the inn's cafe.  The piece of driftwood made into a bar was magnificent.  

So beautiful how they incorporated lush nature everywhere.  Someone knew exactly what they were doing.  Masterful.

Any Twilight fans?  Portions of the movie were filmed in Tofino.  I'm going to have to watch it again to see if anything looks familiar.

See the little cups on a chain on the right (above)?  They fill up with water when it rains and the trickle down effect is completely relaxing.

We spent part of one day exploring the town of Tofino.  It runs on "Tofino time" and no one appears to rush or be worried.  The people are really friendly, the shops are quaint, and everyone. surfs.:)  (It's the surfing capitol of Canada, after all!)

Seaplanes are frequently sighted and boats are docked everywhere just waiting for an adventure.  Reminded me a bit of Harper's Island.  Good thing I wasn't attending a wedding...

The main color is green and it's glorious.  This sweet church is tucked away behind the trees and I wished that I couldn't attended church there, just once.  Such charm.

These buoys called my name.  I mean, look at that sign!  And the gate was hiding something even more delightful...

More buoys, a path covered in petals, a stunning tree and a walk to the water.  Lovely, just lovely.

The oyster shells at the bottom of the B&B sign.  Just too fun.

This pretty much sums it up.

A local coffee shop- Tuff Beans.  Amazing Caramel Macchiato and Hot Chocolate.  Free wifi.  I wanted to go back but there just wasn't enough time.

I wanted to try surfing.  I really did.  But the rocky coast, the threat of sharks and the cold temps held me back.  

It sure looked like fun, though.  Robin, maybe you'll take me someday?

Just couldn't get the right angle on this church.  It's glorious how the cross stands out against the dark mountain, though.  How comforting to see reminders of God even when far from home.

A little video from our room.  We kept our balcony door open a bit at night so the ocean could lull us to sleep.  

Next post I'll take you on the beach!