Monday, July 14, 2014

In Memory of Annabelle

The entire week of our cruise vacation, Amelia was a little homesick and missing her best friend, Annabelle - her big, clumsy, Australian Shepherd-looking best friend that we rescued from the local animal shelter two years ago.  On Friday evening, before we were to begin the return home on Saturday, she and Matthew were giving us all the scoop about their plans for Annabelle when we got home.  They were going to be playing cruise, and Annabelle would be given the role of passenger.  Amelia was so happy the cruise was almost over so she could get home to her.

Saturday morning, we had arrived back in port several hours earlier but were not allowed to leave the boat until our regularly scheduled time.  During that time, Brad had turned his phone on to see what he had missed for the week, and it was at that point that he saw the message from Layne - Cari's boyfriend who had been caring for our animals all week.

He had gone to feed Annabelle on Thursday and had noticed that she was not moving.  As he got closer, he realized that she was not alive.

(She had seemed lazy and wasn't eating as much before we left, but we really didn't think that much about it.  We just assumed the warmer outside temperature was to blame for that.)

We both immediately thought about Amelia and Matthew and the conversation from the night before.  We decided to not tell everyone until we got to the van, but when we saw our visibly upset teenagers, it was clear they already knew.  We were able to keep with the plan for Amelia and Matthew, and it was quite a sad ride home for all of us.

When we arrived home, we saw where Layne and his mom had buried her for us and had made it a special area for her and her things.  What a sweet blessing that was.

I didn't realize how much I liked Annabelle until that point.  I had assumed she would be the dog that would be driving me crazy for years to come!  If you've ever seen the movie Marley and Me, she was our Marley.  Clumsy and always getting into trouble but full of life and personality.  (In fact, we've wondered if she may have had the same stomach issue that Marley had.)

Amelia and Matthew still haven't quit talking about her, and we all miss her, including Missy, our other rescued, long-haired, Dachshund-looking little dog.  It's been an adjustment for her as well.  But, we're thankful she was a part of our family for the past two years.  Before we got her, I had prayed for God to send the perfect dog for our family.  I often questioned if that prayer was answered as I had prayed it (LOL!), but now I can see that it was - even if she was only to be with us for a short time.  And of course, I know she'll always be a fond childhood memory that all my children will keep in their hearts and minds for years to come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Graduation Celebration Cruise

The day after Madison graduated, we hopped in the van and headed south!  All six of us.  First, we went to Orlando to stay at our Wyndham timeshare - thanks to the GREAT deal we got on Ebay several years ago.  We stayed there for a couple of days and then on Monday morning drove three more hours down to Ft. Lauderdale where we would board the Caribbean Princess.  It was a fabulous five days.  Being our first cruise, we really didn't know what to expect, but I'm pretty sure it went above our expectations.  I sort of felt like royalty - royalty that lives in a walk-in closet.  Yes, the cabins were small, but we really didn't have a problem with that.  Our cabin steward was Enrico, and I would have loved to bring Enrico home with us.  It was quite nice to come back to a clean room twice a day and have our beds turned down and pillows fluffed in the evening - not to mention the chocolates left on the bed along with the cute animals created out of towels.

And of course I have to mention the food, which was fabulous and plentiful.

During the five days, we stopped in Grand Cayman.  While here, we spent the afternoon at the beach, and the water was beautiful.

A couple of days later, we were in Cozumel, Mexico.  We decided to tour the Mayan ruins but didn't make it all the way through after encountering the giant Mexican mosquitoes and dodging the iguanas. (On the ride there and back, I was saddened by the appearance of poverty.  I just expected a huge tourist location like that to not be that way, but within five minutes away from where the ship was docked, that's the majority of what was seen.)

After grabbing a few souvenirs, we headed back to board the ship, and then spent the rest of the evening and the next day at sea, arriving back in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday morning.  Lots of wonderful memories - and here's a few of them ------------>>>

Friday, June 6, 2014

And just like that.....she graduated!

The last week of school was full.  There were final tests, a powder puff game, graduation parties with friends, graduation practice, packing for graduation celebration cruise, preparing for our own graduation party.....

Just like the past four years, it went by fast.  And here we are two weeks later.  Already.  Unbelievable. 

It was an emotional event of course, as all major milestones usually are.  But I did find some positives.  Although I don't really believe that public school is the evil of all evils, I would be lying if I said I was going to miss being part of that institution.  We've had some bright spots in the past four years, but I often find myself wondering what things would be like had we not taken that route. 

Several events in our lives at that time are what led us to the decision to place her in school, and whether that was the right or wrong decision, I don't believe God's plan for her will be changed.  Our choices do not change God's plan - although, we might make the process harder than it has to be.

I'm excited for her as she has closed that chapter of her life and is now starting a new one.  She thankfully has found a summer job, and since earning her own money, I am amazed to discover what a generous child she is!  She's already had a meeting with her college softball coach and is excited about that, as we all are.  So much to look forward to, yet even more vital and beyond important, so much to pray about and seek God's plan through. 

Now, of course, here comes the week in pictures ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They didn't win - at all.  Somehow, I think there's more motivation for the lower
classmen to beat the Seniors than it is for the Seniors to beat them. 

We had a graduation party with family and a few friends the afternoon of graduation.
We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and made homemade ice cream
and enjoyed my daddy's strawberry cake and my sister's CUTE graduation cupcakes
that I know I made a picture of but I'm not sure what happened....?

There's a glimpse of the cupcakes  Can you see them?  They were so cute!

We got there at 6:00 - two hours early - in order to get a decent parking space
and a good seat.
 It was a HOT wait!