Friday, July 10, 2009

We made it to Big Sister Dawns and Washington DC

There is so much to say and yet I don't have the time to write alot, we have been busy busy busy. We have spent two days in Washington D.C. taking in the sights. I have been totally awe struck by the massive size of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial was absolutely breathe taking and Joel could not get over the size of the White House and Hope fell in love with each flower, bird and squirrel. B etween, the three of us we have over 500 pictures and of course I can't even post that many photos. It is about 11pm and we leave in the morning around 6am for New York City and again I am like a kid in a Candy Store, all my life I have wanted to go to NYC and of course Joel is so excited about going to the World's largest toy store FSO and Hope thinks it's Santa's Toy Store.

These are Hope's Photos from her own personal Camera, a black squirrel we feed goldfish crackers, The Washington Monument looking from the Lincoln Memorial and the flags surrounding the Washington Monument.

Here is some of Joel's photos he personally took with his camera...Hope at the National Aquarium, Andrew Hamilton Statue at the Treasury Building and of course the White House.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fist Part of Summer Vacation

Okay, So I said I was going to post more and I just haven't done it. My heart is always in the right place I promise, my fingers just aren't. Yes, that's an excuse and I do apologize. This year has been hard health wise for me. I have not been one that has been sick a lot but this year I have been sick for about six or seven months out of a year and that's a lot, I do believe I am finally on the upswing and we are all rejoicing and the vacation Part 1 has been a tremendous help.

I wish I could just post all of the wonderful pictures and I will post a few from each segment and tell you just a bit about our journey and as you can see this was just Part One. We left home on June 12th for Texas to visit family and returned on June 26th. My family and John's family had never met Joel and Hope and it was an adventure for both the children and family and we left many heartbreaks in the trail and there are many photos I wasn't able to caputre.

Our little Hope has turned out to be the best photographer of all of us and I do hope to post some of her photos for you, but it maybe when we return from Vacation Part 2. Please enjoy Vacation Part 1's Journey. God Bless.

We had planned on pulling out of our driveway at 5am, but for the three nights prior to leaving, I had jut not been able to sleep, so as usual I woke up at 2am after only going to bed at midnight. I knew I wasn't going to be able to fall back to sleep, so I got up got dressed and woke up John and said why don't you go ahead and sleep in the car and I will drive the first 4 or 5 hours and then we can stop for breakfast. So, we loaded the kids up in their pj's and out we started by 3am. I sipped coffee and enjoyed such quiet and peace in the driving and communing with the Lord, it was a beautiful start to the vacation. We had breakfast somewhere around Gainesville, FL and then drove on into MS and it was hard to find roadside parks for us to have lunch. We packed a picnic lunch for that day and all the parks were closed due to Hurricane Katrina devistation. We were on beautiful back roads, we finally found a small campsite and asked them if we could just come in and eat our lunch, they had a beautiful pavillon down by the river and it was so cool. Here's some of the photos from lunch.

Reached Texas and Grandpa John's

We did stop and spend the night in Jackson, MS. However, after being up since 2am after eating dinner, John and the kids went for a swim and I went for a tub soak and then crawled in bed thinking it must be about 10pm and fell asleep only to find out that when I woke up and thought it was about 11am the next morning it was only 11pm. John said you went to bed at 730pm. We had reached Jackson, MS with the time difference about 4pm and then had dinner by and back to the hotel by 5pm and I was out. So no photos of Jackson. We got up the next morning had waffles in the hotel and drove on into Grandpa Johns around 2:30pm and it didn't take the kids an hour to get their swimsuits on and get in the pool. We stayed there for about 3 1/2 days and the kids lived in the pool the entire time. John has like 8 brothers and sisters and just about all of them where there with children and grandchildren there where about 35 to 40 people over most of the time and John's sister and her children and grandchildren from Oklahoma where there. John's son Darren stationed in Washington State in the Army got leave because he is going to Iraq again August 2nd and he came down with his girlfriend from Oklahoma and John's daughter and her baby came down from Oklahoma and they all stayed at Grandpa Johns as well. Then John's niece Lexi stayed there. Totally spending the entire time in the house with us was 16 people and Grandma Earline cooked breakfast for us each morning and wouldn't even hear of any help, what a WOMAN. She was wonderful! Talk about a Proverbs 31 woman.....

Crystal & Rylee (Rylee is our 8th Grandchild) She is precious.

We did get photos of Joel going off the dive board but he always did belly flops and he was in the water so fast all we got was waves.

On we traveled deeper or should I say further out West....

Yes, we are still in Texas, but we are on the way to Weatherford to Grandpa Dixon and Nanny Parl's. No, Swimming Pool, but there are SHEEP! Hope took countless pictures of sheep and as I said if I can get her photos posted later, it might be about 25 photos she took. We gave her Joel's camera he got for Christmas, because I bought a new digital for me and gave Joel our other one that is really better than the one we gave him for Christmas. We probably should have given Hope our other one and left Joel with the one he had for Christmas. He wants to take photos but he took about 35 our entire trip and Hope took over 400 and about 350 of them really great and some very abstract. Anyone know of a gallery that would support a 6 year old photograher? Anyway heres a few photos at my Dad's. Yep, we had brothers and sisters here as well. I didn't get as many photos because we helped my Dad and Pearl move and settle into their new home, but at night after 9:30pm sister and brother in laws met in the old home and we drank coffee and played games. It was a family reunion and then on Father's Day I cooked, Steph and Kelly and Larry brought Dessert and Turkey to add to the dinner and we had a great feast for Dad, the first gatherin of Dad's kids for Father's Day in over 15 years. We stayed there until our trip back home which was for 5 1/2 days.

The Hardest Heart Day

I wanted to take the kids out to see where my Mom was buried, Joel is always asking me about my Mom and for me to tell him stories about when I was little and about my Mom. I showed him pictures of her when I was little and then I took them out to the cemetry. Crystal and Rylee went with us and Crystal brought flowers, (buried next to my Mom is my sister Debbie).

What, made this the hardest heart day? After we got there and we placed the flowers on the grave and took a photo of the kids and I had never taken a photo of the headstone and I just wanted one, because I rarely get back to Texas anymore and Dad will be 83 in two weeks and perhaps not that many more trips left for me to take and I just want something to remember.

Well anyway back to the story. Joel, said "Mom are you going to introduce us to your Mom?" UH! I had to catch my breath and I looked at Crystal and I said Joel give me just a minute and yes I will introduce you to your Grandmother. Tears and all, I couldn't help it, even as I type this the tears flow. I told my Mom, she would love Joel and Hope and how precious her Grandchildren where and I knew she was watching from above. Then Joel said "can we talk with her too"? So, Joel said just a short hello and glad that he was able to come and sorry that he really never got to see her alive and only her pictures and again my tears flowed.

Then Hope, she talked for 10 minutes and it was 100degress in the hot Texas sun, no breeze and no trees. She talked about bringing her flowers and if they died it was okay, and she loved her, and then she went into Hope language and I have no idea what she was saying to her.

We then got in the car and went and got something cold to drink and headed back to Dad's.

I found John and cried on his shoulder for a long time. My Mom died 3 days before John and I were married and that was 15 years ago. I don't think you ever lose that void of losing your Mom, the pain eases but a Mom is someone so very precious, someone that shares in your joys, your sorrows, your pains, does not judge you bad decisions and rejoices with you when good comes your way, she is your confidant and in life you may friend a very close friend to share with and your husband like mine maybe your very special special friend but there is NO ONE LIKE MOM!

Leaving Texas and back to Jackson, MS

We returned to Jackson, MS and spent two nights. Took the kids to the Museum and the Planetarium. Want to know how to relax on a vacation? Make sure it's really hot outside and you can't do anything outdoors, go buy 4 expensive tickets to see the planetarum wjere it's really dark and cool and all 4 of you will fall asleep for the 45 minute showing.

The kids loved the museum and what they saw of the planetarium.

From MS to GA

We are really finalizing our trip we are leaving MS and normally you head back down towards FL, we decided lets take I-20 and just see where it leads throughout Alabama and GA. As we got into GA we thought this will go through Atlanta and our son Jim is just north of Atlanta why not call him and have dinner with him and if it's too late we will just find a hotel and stay the night and head back to FL the next day. So we called and had dinner with them and ended up spending the night with them. It was great, we haven't seen Jim for a couple of years and haven't seen his wife and step sons in about 6 years and I haven't seen my oldest granddaughter Alicia in about 7 years and she was with her Dad for the summer. This will be her 2nd year in college and she is enrolled in Forensic Science I am so proud of her, actually I am proud of all of them. The boys have grown so much and such gentlemen.

GA to FL

UGH! The Atlanta traffic was terrible going to Jim's and I was not about to get into that traffic on Friday morning, so we followed every back road in GA to get home and yes, it took an addition 3 hours, but no traffic no lights and it was gorgeous. However, when we got to Jacksonville, FL this is what was waiting for us.


This one is easy and hard. We left Taj with the foster mom that had him when we adopted him, she always keeps him when we go away or the kids have had surgery. While in Texas and at John's Aunts while visiting John's Grandma, Hope fell in love with the Chihuahas and she was determined we were not getting Taj's back.

Now, I guess finding out I was the only one that was fond of Taj and he had never really fit in like Trax. He was obedient and a good dog, but he was not a normal couch potato greyhound either. Joel was afraid of him because he was always like a puppy and wanting to run and jump at you and lately he had been doing that with Hope and knocked her down a couple of times. So when she saw the small dogs and played with them for a day she decided the small dogs where for her.

So when we got home I called the greyhound adoption society we got Taj from and talked with them and they have found a new home for him in NY and they thanked us for teaching him to be a pet and the foster mom told them how different he was and that he really had learned to be a pet and was better dog. My heart hurts, but it was best for him. He needed more than what we could give him as far as playing, our children just couldn't give him that. Our experience with greyhounds have been as I said a couch potato and Taj was not that...

So, we were hoping to find Hope her little dog after our Part Two Vacation Journey, but that just didn't happen. The nice gentleman we bought him from though is going to keep him until we get back. We have had him since Thursday morning and you would not believe how attached ChenChen and Hope have become. If Hope goes out of the room for longer than 10 minutes and he is asleep and wakes up he cries for her. When he wakes up she carries him around. We had to go get John's car yesterday from the AT&T yard because John is on call while we are gone and that means he has to have the AT&T truck in our drive, but cannot use it for personal use. ChenChen had to go with us. He slept in Hope's lap the entire way and on the way back Hope had to ride back with Dad and she feel asleep, dog and daughter both asleep in the back seat. John took a picture with his phone the little tail is caught in the seat belt and Hope's head is back.

It is a good match. The dog already goes to the backdoor to go out for potty, he is adorable and Hope picked him out or he picked Hope out not sure which... (yes, Dawn we did call him Chip, but John thought since Hope's middle name is Chen and this dog has a whit chin we should call him Chen and so thus comes ChenChen)