Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Thursday, June 29, 2017


It's 4 am.  When I woke up, God was in my ear again, just like the days of Laynie.

I have struggled and struggled with the "WHY" of Hallie breaking her toe.   Why God, WHY? and this morning he brought me the answers I was seeking.

Hallie was in full out beast mode, bad ass training.  She was going to go roaring into WP, in top condition, and kick some serious butt, knowing God, but forgetting she could trust in in ALL things.

Now she's limping in, broken, solely leaning on God's strength.

I have blogged more over the last few days, and felt God front and center again.

I wasn't there anymore.  Oh sure, I still loved God and knew where my future will be, but a relationship?  A minute to minute, restore my soul, and make me whole relationship?   I was sliding away from Him.  Distracted, busy, blow and go all the live long day.

Friends, don't let your trials define you.  Let your trials lead you to the ONLY one who can restore you.

Jesus Loves Me This I know.  For the BIBLE tells me so.  Little ones TO HIM BELONG...
        THEY ARE WEAK..............but HE is Strong.

That song isn't talking about little ones being children only, In this big ole GIANT universe, we ARE the little ones, and only with HIM are we made strong.

Lean into Jesus.  He will get you through whatever you are struggling with.

I was so caught up in the honor of going to WP that I forgot the only way she and I will get through this deal is on our knees, letting HIM lead us through.

One broken toe and a million prayers from my friends on my behalf later, clarity.

Hallie will do this deal.  But now she will do it in God's pocket, all the way.  And so will her Momma.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Even When it Rains, He Reigns

Hallie called me when she and Corey landed in New York City.  "Doing good, can't wait to get to Chaurley's!"

Text:  "Got to Chaurley's on UBER"

Remember when not only did you NOT GET IN CARS WITH STRANGERS, you also didn't ever TALK TO PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW ON THE INTERNET.

Somewhere along the line between the beginning of my parenting to now, we've learned to get in cars we don't know, with people we meet on the internet.

Anyway, I finally slept some last night.  Fell asleep about midnight and woke up in a cold sweat at 4 am.

Did I pack enough socks for her?  Will she remember to ........ (fill in the blank).  Should she get some stuff out of her 38 pound backpack?  

I mean.

And about 5:30 am I just was as frustrated as heck, and grabbed my phone and started scrolling through my stuff.

I remember at the lunch I had had with the Dewey's on Monday after Hallie's doctor appointment, asking Greg Dewey, "You think this broken toe is a sign?  I'm terrible at signs.  If God is sending me a sign, I need it to be a BILLBOARD.  a big ole freaking, fraking BILLBOARD."   He assured me, "He will."

So fast forward through the torture that was yesterday, and this morning.  I'm reading all the INCREDIBLE comments from my friends, encouraging us, and loving us and thinking to myself, "This is why I held it together so well, because of all my prayer warriors, standing in the gap for me, holding me up, while I was weak".

Then a notification popped up on my facebook.  My friend, Melba Pulliam (my bestie from Georgia, who has a very UNCANNY knack of knowing $hI& is going down with me, posted this video from Elevation Church (Steven Furtick's church in North Carolina)

He Never Saw it Coming    Please spend the next 25 minutes with me and watch this.  It will leave you speechless.

Now hang on to your hats, because it's about to get REALLY REALLY GOOD.

I'm watching this, and tears are rolling down my face, a message pops up at the top of my phone (interrupting my VIEWING!) and it's Lacey.  Sharing her post from this day 4 years ago.


I got my billboard.

As I went on through the day, and started to think..."Man I need to get her this..." or "Man I need to tell her this...", I just thought about what the message said  "Even when it Rains, He REIGNS".


The peace that passeth understanding that only having Jesus Christ securely in your heart, flooded my soul today.

That Broken Toe doesn't define Hallie's future.  God Does.  If that toe is broken for a reason, God's plan is perfect.  We will look back in a few years and be able to say,  "OOOOOHHHHH, that's why that happened."

If she ends up coming home in a few weeks, it's OK, because it's part of HIS PLAN.

H.I.S. Plan.  Not OURS.  HIS.

So, back in His pocket I'm sitting.  Exactly the same place I sat during Laynie's precious months with us.  Trusting Him in all things, and just along for the ride of my life.

It's so much easier to hand the wheel to Jesus and let him Drive Drive Drive, than navigating a road I'm not even familiar with.  He loves Hallie more than I can even imagine, and He will give her the strength she needs, when she needs it.

Peace that passeth understanding, because EVEN WHEN IT RAINS, He REIGNS.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Be at Peace

As I walked into my house this evening, I was so surprised to look around and see nothing had changed.

But everything has changed.

I dropped a piece of my heart off at the airport today at 2:00.

She left on a plane, with her brother Corey, and a piece of my heart went with her.

Here they were getting ready to leave at the airport.
but all I could see was this...

Back after Hallie had committed to going and we were researching all the times parents actually come to West Point, I knew that "R" (reception) day would be a booger for me and my girl.

For one, she's leaving.  For two, you have 90 seconds and they walk away.

No, thank you, please.  

So we devised a plan.  Chaurley (her oldest sister from her dad) lives in NYC.  She would go early and "wean" off us, and Chaurley and Danny (her hubs) would go with her for all that.  Come to find out her super smart brother, Corey, needed to take the MCAT, and there is one in NYC on Thursday.  "Hey I will go with her".  

Everything about this part seemed brilliant.

Until the day she was to go.  

It started last night.  Actually it started the night before that with her best friends, Kassidy and Brad.  That goodbye took like 4 hours in one driveway.  Exhaustion, no sleep and on to Monday we go.  Hallie has decided Lacey has to come over Monday night and so does Matt & Jessi Sutterfield and their tiny female humans.   Lacey did great until she didn't.  She was entertaining at it's finest.  Until she wasn't.   Coach Stephanie Kane and Miranda Schreiner ran by and said adieu as well.  Just a tough, tough night.

We went to the doctor earlier in the day, and he said everything we didn't want to hear.  No weight bearing for 3-4 more weeks, if she went, she would end up breaking it through and through...blah blah blah blah blah.   

I remember hearing doctor after doctor telling us all the horrible things Laynie was going to experience.  All. The. Appointments.   Until the end, NONE of the crap they said would happen, happened.  It was all conjecture on their parts!  DO YOU KNOW WHY?

God Had Her Plan.

As we were despairing all the doctor's news, we took lunch in with Greg and Kadie Dewey.  If you have spent time with Greg Dewey, you know you are close as you can get to hearing "What Would Jesus Do" in a human walking this earth.  As we despaired to him about the doc visit, he leaned in and asked, "Wonder what God is up to with this change of plans?  If you have to go a different route, where is HE Leading you? As long as you follow HIM, He is going to lead you where you are suppose to be."   (INSERT GIANT SIGH OF SPIRITUAL RELIEF RIGHT HERE).

We had the world's shortest goodbye hug (Greg, "Quick goodbyes work best") and I made a rash decision in the car, "You NEED NEW SHOES.  If we are going to try and do this thing, you have to have a right shoe that your giant swolled up mess of a toe will fit in."  

One phone call to Jim Woolly, a pass onto Tinker Air Force Base later, he guides us into the military shoe buying area and about 45 minutes later we are leaving the base with two GIANT pair of WIDE SHOES (low quarter, and running shoes).  Her boots fit fine with her toe (they are massively tall in the toe area, so she has plenty of room for some reason.  She meandered around the house in them.  We decided the left foot would have to suck up all the extra space with moleskin and 9 pairs of socks and liners, but by golly, we have a right foot that doesn't make her fall to the floor in excruciating pain now.  

I wish I had taken a picture of her backpack.  How many kids go to college and take a 35 pound backpack with all their worldly belongings??  It was one heavy, stupid heavy, pack.  But hopefully, she will have enough underwear, sports bras, SOCKS (omg, SOCKS), etc. to get her through the next 6 weeks.

West Point Coach told her that she had to get through at least 2 weeks of basic training.  I'm guessing this crazy girl, will tape the toe to her leg if she has to and just power through.  I love her teammates already, one of them, Monica, told her mom that she was going to run the 2 miles with Hallie and make sure she gets it done.  She already has a family that has her back.

So when she crawled into bed with me this morning at 5 am, and we cried together for about an hour, I sat up and told her that God did NOT put a spirit of fear in our hearts.  That we were letting SATAN take our joy.  I pulled up YouVersion on my phone (Best Bible APP ever)  Verse of the day...1 Peter 5:8-9 said  "Be Alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings".     WOW.  KAPOW right between the eyes.  

and then I pulled up my facebook and it shows all my old posts and I had posted this 4 YEARS AGO today.  

June 27, 2013
"Today I was reading my bible and Psalm 138, which I've read a thousand times, 
but, today I read it different.  It doesn't say, As soon as I pray, God will give me everything I asked for on a silver says, He will give me the strength I need to face it, and get it done. "

How's that for some KLOVE encouragement, Hallie Pooh?  She liked it.

Then we read this from June 27, 2011....(conversation in car with Kip)
Hallie: "I want to NOT live in OK when I grow up."
Me:  "Cool"
Kip: "Where will you live?"
Hallie:  "In California"
Me:  "Well, maybe you can live with Chaurley"
Hallie:  "Wouldn't it be weird to live with my sister when I'm old and she's old?  (pauses,..thinks) "Wait, that's what Kip is doing"   (Kip who was just back from World Race, living with Lacey)
Kip:  "uhm, Thanks, Hal."

That set us off to laughing, and the morning got better.  

We dropped by Norman North and picked up her diploma, and inside the envelope was a letter the 8th grade Hallie had written to "Older Hallie" 

It was a 2 1/2 page handwritten letter, and I have to tell you, we laughed and cried.  

She talked quite a bit about her friends, (Clearly egging her on to include them as she wrote the letter), but parts that stuck out to me, " I really hope you stuck with volleyball and are really good, but not cocky".   "I hope you did good in school, and kept good grades."  "I hope you stayed pure, I hope you stayed tough".  "Have a best friend I have yet to meet".  "Kept playing music!!"  "I hope you don't think young me was lame, because right now I feel like I am trying as hard as I can to make something of myself.  I can't wait to be you because I know I am privileged and stuff but I just feel like you are gonna be really awesome."  "Do you remember Gina, Steven and Zachary?"  I wonder how they will be in 4 years?? Has Brandon proposed to Kip? Did Chaurley come back from New York? (She just left Last Saturday?)  Did you get into college on a full scholarship to play volleyball?  PLEASE SAY YES.   "Did Vampire Diaries and Glee end?"   And she ended it "If you haven't done things right, just remember you can always fix them even if you don't feel like you can.  I hope you got close to your brothers and sisters. Be your best and Never Give Up".  

You guys.  She is a dandy.  Her 8th grade self was just as cool and clever as her West Point bound self.  
Don't mind my puffy face in this picture.  I had cried in spurts for hours.  

My heart left on a jet plane today.  Prayers for her toe.  Prayers for her spirit.  Prayers for her peace

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Weekend of Goodbyes

Hallie decided she wanted to have a small gathering of close friends for her final Saturday in Oklahoma, and I was happy to oblige her.

Even typing "Last Saturday", I'm starting to have tears on my face.

I mean, seriously, if you know me well, I've been talking about Hallie leaving since she was a kid.  My friend Janis was over visiting one day, and we were talking about wood floors.  I was all, "I want to put in wood floors and get rid of this nasty carpet."  to which the always present Hallie laments, "I hate wood floors."  to my, "You don't get a say, you will be gone in like 4 years."  to her disgusted reply, "Mom, I'm 11".

Hallie & Janis

I said that what seems like yesterday, and that day has come.   Still have the grody carpet, too.  But my girl played some volleyball instead, and all those big wishes for my life, have come true, in the form of her going to the most incredible opportunity on earth for college.   So I will live on carpet, in my little tiny mansion, and keep on keeping on, and this kid will get to go achieve some big stuff.

And maybe have a home someday with wood floors, so I can come live with her.

We had all her favorite things today, cake, ice cream, popcorn, m&m's and friends.  Lots of friends.  We took down addresses and hugged necks and Laughed and Laughed.

We recalled good times and memories made, and all the time that was happening, I smiled and smiled, when my heart felt like it might just explode into a zillion pieces.

As I looked around at the variety of friends that came to bid Hal adieu today, I marveled at the wonderfulness that is Hallie.

She had her very first friend she made when we moved to Norman here.  And her volleyball friends from High School.  And volleyball friends from Club.  And Club coaches and  volleyball moms.

It was special, and oh so sosososososososososososo bittersweet for me.  Lacey wouldn't sit near me today, because if we got close to each other, we set each other off in an onslaught of tears.

I just keep telling myself, she's going to college.  Everyone goes to college.  It's not a big deal.  She's going to college.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

 Hal and Marissa Lane.  Friends since 3rd grade. 
 Hallie and Ana were in prenursing classes together this year.  Ana also was one of our friends in Alabama.  
 Kassidy Miller, Hallie, Stormy Moffitt and Maddy Hawley.  
More friends since 3rd grade.  I have some stories with Hallie and Maddy, but that will be for another time.  I love these girls and will miss them so much.
Caleb McCourrey, Bailey Hall, Hallie, Gage Dyer and a new guy Jordan.
Hallie has been friends with these guys for awhile, except for Jordan who just showed up for the first time today.  LOL.  Just in time to say goodbye.  
I thought it would be really fun to show everyone the shoes Hallie will be sporting most of the time she is at WP.  They are just really attractive. 
 April Kaaiohelo came by to get a hug, both to say bye to Hallie and tell me I would be ok.  Her oldest Hayden plays football in Texas, so she knows all about sending a kid out of state to go play a sport and never really see them.  Her middle kid, Malia, played club with Hallie for the last 3 years, and Kason is Steven's favorite 6 foot tall 13 year old.  

 Hallie's first year playing for Peak Performance was with this guy, Will Ethridge as her coach.  Will was so great with Hallie.  He shares the love of beach volleyball with her, and played a lot of Sand volleyball in the summers with her.  He is also the coach that took them to Florida their 16's year and made it on ESPN.  National Runner-ups that year.  He also helped Hallie with her Candidate Fitness Assessment getting her accepted, and man, do I appreciate this guy.  He's gearing up to take his club team to Nationals this next weekend, and I bet they do terrific.  He's a great coach.
The Evans family came by to bid adieu, and I'm not sure why we didn't get Lynn (Jon's mom) in this picture.  She came too, and I'm glad because she is one of my hands down, favorite people.  I was a bit scattered today, so I didn't get to spend much time visiting with her, but I will.  Alli is still sporting her knee brace, after tearing her ACL and all the supporting joints in her knee, but she is heading to University of Tulsa on Sunday, and starting classes.  She will redshirt this season, but will be back full and strong next year.  I didn't say bye to any of them, because it will take a blowtorch to get rid of me.  This family and I are going to be Lifer's.  
Abbey Woodrow ran by, and I'm so glad, because she is about to start her adventure at Texas Women's University, playing volleyball down there.  Hallie and Abbey became friends in 9th grade when they both found themselves on the JV team.  They were seriously a great team, with Abbey's perfect sets and Hallie's hitting, they could seriously put the hurt on the competition.  We will miss us a whole bunch of Abbey.
And it wouldn't be a party without Maggie Davis and Rachel Krutz (holding the flag).  Hallie played HS volleyball with Maggie and Rachel, and of course, Rachel was her beach partner too.  Seriously love these girls, and their mamas came by to give me some hugs too.  
I do have these giant heads of Hallie.  I could use them and tape them around the house.  
Of course, my mama, Brian and JoAnn, and my "niece/cousin" Megan stopped by.  Little Major thought he should make most of the pics when he was there.  :)
Coach Jim Zepp.  Coach Zepp has not missed one season of watching Hallie at least once or twice.  He coached her first year of club (14's) and has been an avid supporter since then.  
 We were reminiscing about how this time last year, Lindsay was OH SO PREGNANT with Major (he arrived July 5) and how time just flies so fast. 
Tyler and Deaton
And because it's not a gathering without the token "Picture with grammie", here it is.  We have grown again!!!  She is surrounded with grands.  Only missing Kip and Sam in this pic.
 Gina, Makayla and Major
Makenna and Maleah
Growing like weeds!!!!!!
And it's not a party if we don't embarrass the guest of honor.  Janis shows off the "low quarters".  Hard to believe these shoes are worn with gym shorts, tshirt and Black crew socks.  Seems like something your grandpa would wear to mow the yard in.  
Hallie modeled her back pack (all 40 pounds of it) for everyone to see.  I think we have a few more things to stuff in there, but for the most part, this kid is ready.

All but the good bye at the airport on Tuesday part.  

If I have any advice for young moms, I would just tell you to write down the fun stuff.  Write it all down.  I wish I had started my blog back before there were blogs.  I wish I had written everything down from the time Lacey was born until today.  I love reading back on our old blogs and reliving all those ridiculously embarrassing times that we always seem to find ourselves in.  

And I know that she is going to KICK West Point in the face.  She is going to do the dang thing, even with a broken toe.  We go Monday for her xray to see how the healing has progressed.  We are praying for a "You are good to be weight bearing" from the doc.  She is anxious to be rid of the boot, and get in her army boots for good.  

And I know that I am going to be ok.  I really don't have a choice, as I have 3 more kids to raise.  More blogs to write about insane adventures, that will include Hallie, just in a different, cool way.  

God's got her plan, and those of you that I have called the last week at random times, because I was perilously close to the edge, THANK YOU.   You all talked me off the ledge and got me breathing, which in turn, helped me pull her back from the ledge and helped Her Breathe.

Norman Transcript wrote a really nice piece on her this past week.
Norman Transcript article

I think it's the NOT Knowing that is the hardest.  Oh sure, you can watch videos and see what it "looks like" from a video view, but really living it?  I will let you know if I get any letters and tell you how it's going.

I belong on a facebook page and one mom, in all seriousness, now, straight up posted, "I just stamped 80 envelopes for my cadet to write us at home,  do you think that's enough?"  After I recovered from choking on my sweet tea, I chuckled over and over as I read all the comments.  My favorite was, "I think that's about 79 too many" (as they are all required to write one).  No communication except in writing until August 19.  Lord, give me strength.

No news is good news, and that's what I'm believing.  

She leaves on Tuesday with Corey, heading to New York to spend a few days in New York with Chaurley and Danny (these are all sibs on her dad's side), and then heading up to WP on Sunday to a volleyball picnic, where she will meet up with fellow teammate Monica Eckford and her Mom, Gretchen Denk.  She will spend the night with them, and I'm sure SLEEP SO GREAT and report at 6 am on July 3.  I hope she remembers to eat before she goes, because that is going to be one long dang day.  If I don't hear from them on July 3 to come and get her because her dang toe is broken (!) then I believe with all my heart, this girl will show them how it's done.  

Lord, let this be true.  

Lord, comfort my anxious daughter and wrap her in your protection.  You gave her to me to raise for 18 years and I have done my best.  Now it's time for her to go into the world and shine and be the glorious human that I know she is.  Take care of her, Lord.  

She is yours.  Thank you for letting me have the funnest 18 years.  You are one good God.  

Drop her a line of encouragement, just make sure you don't send anything bigger than an envelope until August 19, then after that, boodle boxes are welcome! 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

West Point Bound 21 days and counting...

This past week, I have been an emotional rollercoaster.

One second, I am thinking "OMG, just let that day get here already!" (after she rolls her eyes at me, and tells me how ridiculous I am) and then I will be in the car and just start bawling (after she tells me she is "ready" for West Point, just not "ready" for the reality of not being here anymore).

First off, the whole toe thing is just a big pain in the rear end.  Rolling on her scooter, loping around in that big ole boot....just not the best way to train for the most grueling intensive 6 weeks of your life.

So, it's been tough.  Thankfully, Oklahoma has a West Point Parent's club that is going to rock my face off.  Today they had a picnic for the Cadet Candidates and had current cadets and graduated cadets there (along with oodles of parents) and answered about half a million of my non ending questions, and I met several of the other moms that are.....crying every other second, and ready to pull their hair out also.   It was a great day of fellowship and answered prayers.

One family is having their 4th FOURTH kid enter this year.  FOURTH KID.   If this place was a torture chamber, I'm thinking that the 4th kid wouldn't be heading there!  Proud of them.

I can't help but be sad that Hallie won't be going in 100% for Beast (that's the sweet term they use for basic training).  She had been rucking (carrying a weighted backpack, hiking in her boots) for 4 miles at a time, and sweating and training and really getting it together, and now we are resting and watching netflix.

We were gifted with a bone growth stimulator (AN ENTIRE GOD SToRY ON IT'S OWN) and are praying with all our hearts that it works like a champ, and gets that toe healed in 3 weeks.  It's already SO much better than this time last week, so I think in 2 weeks, she should be able to bear weight and get 'er done.   That is our prayer, and our plan, and we are nothing if not planners.

Moore Norman Technology Center did an excellent story on her for their website.  If you haven't seen it, here is the link.

MNTC's nice write up

It was a blessing getting to meet the other mom's today.  It's nice to know that I'm not the only one stressing over socks (! YOU HAVE NO IDEA!) and ziploc bags and  multi-tools that I know my girl will lose first rattle out of the box.  I Am Not Alone.  Everyone of these moms have the same anxiety, and we are going to be a great support for one another as our kids head off to New York.

I am going to have Hallie's address pretty soon and I will post it on here for you.  If you have a minute, please send her a card, or write her a letter of encouragement and send it to her during July.  She is GOING to Need all the HOME loving she can get.  No phones, no contact, sore toe, homesickness, overwhelming tasks..... I'm so proud of the path she has chosen, and spend a lot of time in prayer, asking God to take away my anxiety.

My kid has multi tasked like a big dog this year.  She not only took physics at Norman North (she had to take something there to keep enrollment), she concurrently took college classes (her government, English and Anatomy) at OCCC, along with Pre-Nursing 3 hours in the morning at the Vo-Tech.  And just for fun, she decided she needed a job this year and worked about 20 hours a week at HeyDay Entertainment, buckling up little kids for the ropes course, and on occasion, breaking up a fight between 2 grown men !!!!! in the laser tag area.  (That's my girl) She also never missed a beat with volleyball practice 6 hours a week, plus multiple tournaments and working out an hour a day, preparing for West Point.    Did all this and maintained her 4.0.

She Wore Me Out.

Can anyone say overachiever?

I'm so proud of her.  Even with this toe thing, she is staying confident, and working out her upper body, and memorizing all her stuff she has to know.  All this stuff isn't for the faint of heart, and I fear her mom, may be the faint-iest of all.

Everyone keep praying that bone heals, and she is good to go on July 3.

I'm just glad she is going in with friends from Oklahoma.  They are already bonding, and I like that.  It's always a better day with a friend in your corner.

Look out West Point, Hallie Hembree is heading your way.  I hope you're ready for her.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Life's a Beach

I have been blessed with some pretty amazing trips, through my companies, the last few years.  I changed companies this year, and was slightly worried I wouldn't get to go, since I didn't have an enormous amount of time to get the job done.  Four months and almost half a million dollars worth of sales later, I found myself anticipating going to Hawaii!


Let that sink in.  Lacey was back up in the kid roulette wheel of "Who goes with mom?", but it happened to fall on Deaton's birthday, so she declined (OH SO VERY RELUCTANTLY), and it rolled back to Kip, who knew she already had over a week scheduled coming for Hallie's graduation, so, once again, the spoiled rotten baby, Miss Hallie got to travel with her madre.

Thank goodness this year, on that trip, no wallet incidents, no near flight misses, no drama to be seen.  The flight over was 150 hours, but it took place during the day, so there were movies to watch, cards to play, netflix to view, anticipation was high.  I'm kidding it was a 14 hour day, but in the end, we were in paradise, so it worked out.
That long flight had us making duck lips out of pringles, and putting gummies on our teeth. 

But then we arrived and we were like HEY! ALOHA!
I celebrated my 40th birthday while I was there! (Cough) and as I paddled around through the pool, (through the lazy river, up the slide and down about 10 times, and through all the nooks and crannies of this amazing pool) I told every single person I paddled by, saying it very brightly, "It's my BIRTHDAY!", so yeah, I was THAT person that day.  I didn't care.  I was celebrating my 40th birthday AGAIN, in paradise.  Hallie and I had massages that afternoon, and people, it was heaven on earth.  

The resort (Grand Hyatt Kauai) was immaculate.  The room had a king size bed, and a queen size bed in it!  LOL.  They must have seen Hallie on the bus over, and knew we would need more room.  It was supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.   For reals. 

If you find yourself with a whole lot of extra money, you should treat yourself and come stay at this little slice of heaven.  It was glorious.   The only caveat was food prices were RIDICULOUS.  Hallie and I had a cheese pizza and one salad and it cost $60.  FOR THE LOVE.  So we hit up the grocery store, and stocked our room with food things and lived like queens.  :)  (Grow up with a single mom, your kids know how to be scavengers, fo sho.)

The highlight of the trip for Hallie was the zip lining excursion we went on.  I was skeptical since I am 40 and horrendously out of shape, when on the brochure it says, "Slight steep incline to get to ziplines".   Hmm.  Surely I can do that.  I've ran through airports, killed spiders,  lived through a colonoscopy prep, what's a "Slight Steep Incline".  

First of all, I did NOT rock the zip line look.  My short hair in those little helmets made me look even  more special than I really am. 
Plus, they make that "Slightly sleep" incline look like little innocent steps.  I was so winded by the time I got to the top of the stairs, (after needing to make 4 or 5 stops just to live !) I told Hallie (waiting for me at the top for 5 minutes) "I must have some sort of heart blockage, there is no way I should be this winded".  Her rolling on the ground and laughing at me didn't help.  

This kid was born to be in zip line equipment.  She is a natural.

I, however, look like one of those helmeted kids that wear them for protection (which even typing this, might not be such a bad idea, since I've taken to falling every week or so).

 Hey, it's not exciting enough to just throw yourself off a ledge, let's hang upsidedown (For the everloving love)
 It was way gorgeous up there though!  Jurassic World was filmed there and I could totally believe that.  Just gorgeous upon gorgeous.
 Our zipline guides were the best.  They were tolerant of old ladies that were a tiny bit stressed.
 I hoped I looked like Iron Man flying in, but it was such a long zip line,by the time I "Zipped" in,  I feel it was more like that cow being lowered into the velociraptor cage in Jurassic World.  All limbs hanging straight down.  I almost knocked our guide down coming in for the landing.

But it was a fun experience that we got to share together, and the next day was even better...when we took to the seas.  Now this was WAY more like it!!!!  A catamaran tour, which I loved and my adventurous daughter got sea sick!  (WHAT!?) 

 Dolphins swimming beside the boat.  Saw two separate pods.  They were so fun!

Absolutely stunning.  DO NOT GO TO HAWAII and not get on a boat tour!  YOU WILL miss most of the beautiful things.  If you don't go on a boat tour, take a helicopter tour (which we missed out on).  You must see this coast and you can only do that on a boat!   Mercy.

We got a car (A bright yellow camaro, oh heck yes) and drove all over the island our last day.  We saw villages, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, souvenir shops and starbucks bathrooms.  All in all a stellar day.  Flew 100 hours (all night) home, and I have to tell you, home looked pretty good to me.  What an adventure.

The next week, Hallie and her friends took to Orange Beach in Alabama, for her "senior friend trip" and went to the Hangout to the music festival.  Another mom was going to go and be "chaperone", but ended up needing to work, so I told Hallie I would NOT drive there (12 hours plus!) but they could pick me up in New Orleans and I would fly back from pensacola.   I spent 3 days with 6 of the funniest kids and just hung out with myself, by the pool, on the pretty beach, and enjoyed those few days.  They drove home and I flew it, and that was not a bad little jaunt.  Barely even yawned and was already home.

Then, the day I have dreaded and looked forward to since the day the kid was born, rolled around.  Graduation of my Hallie.   But that's another blog.  We are talking Beaches in this one. 

Back around Christmas, we knew Kip and Brandon would be coming for graduation so I thought it would be a delightful idea to go to Disney World as a family, one last big hurrah before Hallie went to West Point.   After researching and realized we would have to sell a kidney and maybe a kid on the black market, to be able to afford to go to Disney, we opted for a beach house in Destin, where we could all go and play and have a merry old time together for one week.  We decided to drive at night, so everyone could sleep.  Except the driver.  And the driver's helper.  And every one in the car.  When you are a kid, you can sleep standing up.  When you are an adult, sleep eludes you.  Trying to sleep in a packed car full of people, and snacks and boogie boards, and feet.....that's just funny talk right there.  I think the only one that slept with any consistency was Zachary, because he is 7.   Even DD, at our 12:30 am gas stop, roused and looked out the window, and said to his mama, "Dere's Brannon right dere" (there's Brandon right there).  and then proceeded to watch netflix on my ipad and eat chips for the next hour.  We rolled into Florida about 8 am (thank You Jesus and all the holy angels) and stopped to eat at Waffle House somewhere.  I was just happy to be alive at this point.  

Everyone was excited for beaches.  EVERY ONE.  and all our butts had taken on a new form of no feeling, and when we rolled through Pensacola, I remembered back in the day, the beaches being beautiful and lots of public beaches, and thought..."Our house isn't ready for a while, let's STOP and play on this beach and get OUT OF THIS CAR before I lose my crap."   So, here we are, pulling into the beach, pretty much stripping down the kids and changing them in the parking lot, rubbing on sunscreen, really getting ready for an adventure.  I knew on Memorial day it would crowded, but nothing prepared me for the SEA of pop up tents and brightly colored windsocks lining the pensacola beaches.  The kids and Brandon and Tyler ran straight to the water, and jumped in and started tossing the football.  I'm totally oblivious to everything around us, just thinking "Dang there are a bunch of people here".   After 10 minutes,  Tyler's gaydar goes off, and he walks up to me and says, "Mother, look around, there are only oiled up men in speedos here
."  And I feebly retort, "There are two girls....", to his reply,  "And they are holding hands...."   Oopsy.  We have big fat jumped into the middle of the GAY beach, with our little weird, culture friendly family, and just added some serious spice to the mix.  We gather up the Vietnamese and head back to the car, now fully appreciating all the RAINBOW windsocks lining the beach.   Oh. My. Everloving.  Love.   

Thankfully, our airbnb was ready when we got to Destin and in we go.  Here are some of the precious pictures from the week.

And because it isn't a family vacation unless someone ends up in the ER, unfortunately it was our soon to be Cadet, Hallie carrying Deaton down the stairs to the beach, and the combination of her sandy feet, the sandy stairs, too much forward momentum, she slipped and instead of being able to catch herself, she held him in the air, and took the brunt of the fall on her toe and hip.  I drove over pristine yards to get to her, I won't lie.  Kip and I had opted to stay at the house and watch Moana, while everyone walked to the beach.  When Lacey called I threw on shoes, grabbed keys and Kip, and headed where I thought was the road.  It dead ended, so sorry to the people's yard I drove through, I was getting to my kid.  One ER visit later, we have a broken toe.  Big toe.  The toe that runs the body.  We are 4 weeks away from her leaving for Basic training.  Clearly the world population doesn't understand the enormity of West Point, when the ER "provider" (not doc, not PA, but provider) says to Hallie, "Well, you will just have to tell them you will come two weeks later."   Oh, Ok.  I'm sure that WEST POINT will change it's R DAY for Hallie.  Again, 

Anyway, she is healing, in a boot, and on a scooter, and we are hopeful she will be back in form in time to report on July 3.  We could use considerable prayers.  She has been beast mode training for this, and now is having to sit on her bed with her foot elevated.  She has gone to the gym a few times, but she is very discouraged since she can't work out and be in top form when she goes.  She could really use prayers of encouragement.  

Friday, I drop Kip and Brandon off at the airport at the butt crack of everlovin dawn, and those lucky little turds fly westward home, while the rest of us poor punks get around, pack it up, and take to the road.  With Hallie one toe down, and booted up, she is now unable to drive, so that leaves 3 drivers taking us home.  14 hours.  ON the road.  Bored Kids, bags of food, tired, sunburned, hurting, 14 hours, people.

All I decided from the ride home, was if we can't drive there in 4-5 hours, we aren't going.  :)

However, before the "Toe Incident", Fun was had.  Hopefully this time next year we will laugh our faces off about Hallie's broken toe right before BASIC.  Right now, we are praying for a miracle, and that she can manage the training and be able to stay.  

That's how we roll, friends.   One step away from Chaos.  Every,. Second.   

Wish this had been a bit more clear, because it is SOOO us. 

Coming soon, to a christmas card near you.