Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer 2014 is Nearly Gone

There's been lots of ideas in my head over the summer that I wanted to blog about, but thankfully it's been a fun summer, and there wasn't much time left over to do any of that.

(And I can't go any further talking about this summer until I make a quick mention about last summer, which I've thought back to often the past couple of months.  It was undoubtedly my worst summer ever, being spent in and out of hospitals, helping care for my sick mom who I miss terribly.  I had several people tell me when she passed away that it wouldn't get easier.  I'm not sure what they meant by that, but some things have gotten easier.  The great mental exhaustion and dreadful heartbreaking pain at the time of losing her have gotten better.  The God of my heart has done a marvelous job at healing those wounds.  The missing her - not so much.  I only see that getting worse as time goes on, but that's normal, right?  And because of Jesus, I have the blessed hope of seeing her again one day.  That brings comfort but doesn't keep me from wishing I could still see her right here and right now, but how sad it would be if I didn't feel that way.)

So here we are today, approaching the end of summer 2014, and this is how it's all gone down.....

It's August, and we've had quite a summer.  We've spent most of it in the water.  Brad's aunt came back to the United States after spending the past year in Germany with her military daughter.  She is beyond generous and has graciously opened up her home {and pool} to us whenever we like.  Her backyard is an oasis and has been the perfect getaway for us.  Our sweet neighbor, who is likewise generous and gracious, has done the same, and we are beyond grateful.  Those two pools have provided ample entertainment for our family.

Aunt Dana plus my crew plus cousin Shandon who we miss as he is now back in Germany

We did make a trip to the Atlanta Zoo at some point, and we picked the perfect day to go and had a great time with our friends.  I love the zoo!

The gorillas might be my favorite

Look what hatched!

This just makes me smile

How awesome is a zoo that offers a water park at the end of the trail!?!

Madison played her last travel ball game with the Mystics - her team she started playing with at the age of 12 I think?  The other parents and I were feeling a little emotional as the last game came to an end, and when the coach was unable to find the words to start his speech, the tears started rolling.  I'm sure if any of the other teams were looking on, they must have thought that we didn't take too well to losing.

And I just had to insert a video of one of her last at bats as a Mystic.  (You might want to turn your volume down as I get a little loud at the end.)  ;>)

The week after that, she had her tonsils taken out, and the next two weeks were a little bump in the road, but it's all good now.

Now she's started college and has started practicing with her new team.  She seems to be enjoying it pretty well so far.  I'm looking forward to seeing some games!

Matthew and Amelia both made the All-Star teams in rec ball.  That involved a little chunk of our summer, but it was fun for them.  Fall ball has now started, and we're back at it again.

Amelia celebrated her 9th birthday with a Frozen party - how's that to help you cool off in July?

Brad was officially diagnosed with CIDP, which basically causes neuropathy among a few other issues.  After prednisone failed to help with all that, this past week he began a series of IVIG infusions, so we're hoping to see some improvement soon.  We're very thankful that it has basically not interfered with his daily activities.

Our house is still for sale.  Since October.  Enough said.

We started back to school in August, and I'm now teaching a 10th grader, 4th grader, and 1st grader.  The first week stressed me out terribly, but each week is getting better as they adjust to their new books.  So far, I am very pleased with our choices of curriculum this year.

Last Saturday night was probably the highlight of Brad's summer.  See photo below....

And right now, I'm actually home alone, and that's why I'm getting to do this. :)  Brad has taken most of the crew to a Rome Braves game.....

Matthew and Matt Kimbrel (brother of Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel!)

And I stayed home to get things ready for a little trip we're taking this week. Three weeks of school is enough - these students have earned a FIELD TRIP!!!!!

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 ------------>>>


Here's the "more about that" I mentioned in the previous post... I was around 6 years old the first time I realized I nee...