Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taking Stock

Periodically, I pause to take stock of where I am in life.  Sometimes, it is precipitated by my frustration of not progressing, sometimes it spurred by an event or  sometimes it is simply because it is long over due.  My most recent review of where I am came last  Monday when I received a phone call that my brother was in the hospital with a severe brain infection. 

When we arrived at the hospital he looked so pale and weak.  By the time we left on Sunday, his condition had not improved ( even though I know it will take time for the antibiotics to work I was hoping he would be up and about and all smiles...I know, wishful thinking). 

I so am grateful for the opportunity we had to be able to spend time with him and his sweet family whom I rarely get an opportunity to see as well as other family members.  The doctors said that given the amount of lesions on his brain, it is a miracle he can talk or do anything.  I know that he is not alone during this difficult trial but still it was difficult to leave him.  If he would have had the energy I'm sure he would of told me to stop making a fuss, that I was annoying him...  But still, he is my little brother and so he let me cry without berating me. 

     In between visits, we took our kids to see their cousins whom they have only seen a couple of times.  We tried to spend  as much time with our family as we could.  We went to baseball games and  dinners.  We even managed to get 23 of the 28 cousins together at the park for a birthday party for one of the cousin's birthdays!   Whew!  That was a lot of fun! 

I loved watching  all the little cousins run around the park squirting each other with water guns.  They stopped occassionally when prompted for photos but mostly they just chased each other around.  Sometimes, I feel that I do the same thing.  I am so busy running around and only pausing when prompted.   This trip was a good reminder that I need to slow down and refocus on being present in the moment, the big ones and the seemingly small ones...



On Tuesday, we packed up and headed down to Florida.  We arrived a little after 11 p.m.







We went to the hospital in the morning.  We waited outside in the hall while they finished putting in a PIC line.

We picked up the traditional Krispy Kreme Donuts...

and spent sometime catching up in the hall while we waited. 

Afterwards, the kids and I headed over to my brother's house (which lucky for us happens to be near Nanna's and Aunt Katie's houses) to see their cousins. 


How much fun would it be to have your own monkey bars in the back yard?


The kids enjoyed hanging out with Nanna and Aunt Katie...and of course their cute cousin, Tyler!

Jackson found a new friend to play with...


John enjoyed spending some quality time with his Aunt Katie...

He looks pretty happy!

Bella enjoyed spending time with her cousin, Taylor and Taylor enjoyed hanging out with Bella...since she has 5 brothers!

Look at this sweet baby!  Bless his heart...He was so tired.

John was a little naughty while Katie and I ran an errand...He put ashes in Katie's fish pond...Luckily there were no fish and his brother and sister and cousins were happy to help clean it out.



After spending a few hours at Aunt Katie's house, we headed back to Aunt Shona and Uncle Jay's house.  Jenna is the spitting image of her mom!

The kids loved having my sister's dog, Bucket around!

Can you tell which kid does not like to have their picture taken?

and which ones do?

The kids enjoyed hanging out in Aunt Shona and Uncle Jay's pond...

Their awesome cousin, Sonya, was a great life guard!

On Thursday, we got to watch Taylor and Justin play T-ball.

I may be a little biased but I think Taylor was the best one out there...

Look at those sweet faces...I could just squeeze those cute cheeks!  By the way, they won  14 to 8!

Their big cousin, Cardi and their Papa were there to cheer them own despite her sunburn!

We were lucky to be able to watch cousin Gavin's game too!  Luckily the fields were right next to each other!  I'm sure there were some scouts salivating in the stands!

 

Of course it always helps to have a fan club!

This is my awesome sister in law, Tammie!  She loves baseball as much as my brother, Joe!  What a perfect match!

Gavin's sisters were there to cheer him on as well!


These are the beautiful roses my Mom planted for each of the kids!

On Friday, Justin turned 5!  So, of course we had LOTS of FUN celebrating!  There were 23 cousins running around the park!


 

Look at all those sweet faces!

Meredith enjoyed having lots of attention showered on her.  I have to say, I have some of the most beautiful nieces...

SO just to recap, we took LOTS of pictures...

and then we took some more!

Meredith enjoyed hanging out with her cousin Karleigh!  Aren't they the cutest?


We bought water guns for the kids...They had a blast running all over the park!

Hmmm...Can you tell which kids are excited about having to take a photo with all their cousins?


They're just SO darn cute..even that kid in the front making a "grumpy" face!




With the exception of Haydn, Raishell, and Brynlee, we got this great shot of all the girl cousins...

Oh and  except for this little cutie who hates to have her picture taken and slipped away  quietly to the swings!





Markayla and Cardi!

Of course, I had to take a picture of my baby sister, Katie and her sweet husband, Josh!  Oh and that cute kid they are holding...










Afterwards, we went home for a slow relaxing afternoon.  I have to say I have pretty AWESOME sisters!




Bella got to relax and draw a bit...



Cardi FINALLY got to drive the 4 wheeler!




Jackson got to hang out with his cousin, Nate!





This handsome guy finally got a much needed haircut!

Later that night, we went to Uncle Joe and Aunt Tammie's house...Seriously...How cute are those 2 with their little curls!

The kids got to splash around in the pool!  John did not even mind that he had to wear a Barbie life jacket.

Meredith got to bounce on the trampoline with her 2 favorite cousins...




And this awesome niece has the golden touch...Meredith probably could of stayed with cousin Lanee and been perfectly content.  She even laid down with her and took a 2 hour nap!

We had a lot of great food!  Tammie made a delicious jalapeno bread!  Did I mention they are both great cooks?


And my awesome brother makes the best steaks in Florida!

The girls played dress up!  Love those costumes!





Except for being a Georgia Bulldog fan...I think my brother is pretty awesome!

Some of the older cousins practiced throwing around the softball...

Until there was an accident...

We stopped by Pizza Hut on the way home to see my brother Billy and his wife, Alyssa and of course my awesome nephew, Brandon!  We missed Lane.  He was spending the night with a friend.  I also missed getting to see my baby brother John and sweet Haydn (who was actually having a great time at Sea World with her Mom)!

On Saturday after visiting with Billy Ray, we packed up and headed to Olustee to my sister Sabra's house.  This is my sweet neice, Raishell!

Meredith was a little nervous hanging out with Uncle James... I think she just missed cousin Lanee!

My awesome sister and brother in law took us out to eat at the Texas Road House...
This is Bella's face when I told her to just throw her peanut shells on the floor (which is perfectly fine to do there)...Really?  They throw things down all the time at home...That handsome guy in the background is their cousin David.

Poor Jackson had a fever and fell a sleep during dinner.




After dinner, we colored some eggs...well, Cardi and Raishell did most of the eggs...



Sabra made us  a french toast casserole as well as a yummy sausage and egg casserole for breakfast...The kids decided to just eat the donuts...

I have to say my big sister is pretty awesome!



After a delicious breakfast, we packed up and headed home...

We were blessed to have a rather uneventful trip back home...Jackson was still running a fever and miserable but he survived...Luckily Bella waited until we got home to throw up...

Meredith hated to leave or maybe it was sitting in her car seat for 9 hours...I hated to leave too.   I already miss everyone!  But I am grateful that our kids were able to reconnect with their cousins and I was able to spend some much needed time with my family as well.