12 Years Already?!?! Where Does Time Go?

12 years ago today I walked down the aisle to meet my groom on our wedding day.  It was a rainy day but it was full of love and joy.  I will never forget dear Mrs. Lindsay, at our reception tell us that she wouldn’t have missed our wedding for anything, although she was afraid she was going to need a boat to get downtown!  HA!

To be honest, the hopes and dreams we had then certainly don’t reflect where we are today.  In a way, the dreams that we had were crushed years ago, but we have new hopes and dreams now.  Our life together has been filled with ups and downs, happy times and sad times.  Situations and things I care to never think about and times that I hold so near and dear and get somewhat nostalgic when I think of them.

The fact is, marriage is difficult…..it is a work in progress.  Being married is not a bed of roses.  It is not romance 100% of the time.  In fact, the romance part is a very small percent of the marriage.  You have 2 totally different people, with different thought processes, different personalities, different EVERYTHING and you get married and live together (at least that is the order in which we did it….no judgments here if you did it a different way), HA!

I married the “forever bachelor,” and he married a woman who had already “done that” once before and by “done that” I mean gotten married!  HA!  I am really cracking myself up today, even if you don’t find the humor in it, I sure did!  Anyway, here we were 30 and 29 years old, already set in our ways; setting out on a new and exciting adventure.

An adventure it has been……especially when Hannah came into our world!  Then it became an ongoing  and never-ending roller-coaster ride!  Up, down, sideways, upside-down and repeat!  I am getting nauseous just thinking about it!  (Kidding…..well, kinda)!

Bottom line is we are celebrating 12 years of marriage today, Yay for us!  Heck it is longer than most people make it nowadays and they don’t have a special needs child, a stressful job, and a woman who has hit menopause at the ripe old age of 41 (different story for a different blog post)!

I love my husband, he is a wonderful husband, great dad and a man who isn’t too proud to do whatever it takes to provide for his family.  He works hard and loves me!  What more could a girl ask for?  And, to his credit, to which my dad will agree…..I am not the easiest person to live with, (trust me, Dennis will agree with that right now…..remember the menopause remark, well, I ain’t kidding about that).

Dennis, I am not sure you still read my blog but if you do…..I love you.  You are my rock when I am weak.   You are the shoulder that I cry on and that one that makes me laugh.  You were my best friend when I married you and you still are today.  Life has handed us quite a few lemons; but the thing I love most about you is the way you make lemonade out of those lemons.  You are my provider, my protector and the best daddy to our daughter that I could have EVER hoped or prayed for.  You were the answer to my prayers 13 years ago and you still are!  I am so proud of you, who you are and what you stand for.  It is an honor to be your wife.  I know I don’t say it often or show it like I should; but you truly are my soul mate, my best friend and the LOVE OF MY LIFE!

Happy Anniversary, I love you!

Now, some of you might wonder what we are doing to celebrate……We are buying a new dryer and a rug for our living room!  Whoo-hoo, good times!

Until next time……….

Vacation (Part 3)

I promise this is the last of my vacation posts!  I am sure you are getting bored with them by now.

After leaving BEAUTIFUL Franklin, Tennessee we headed to Birmingham, Alabama; which is a very pretty city as well.  The rolling hills, the green landscape and for us, while we were there, the gorgeous temperatures.

We checked in our hotel and then met up with our friend Amanda at Urban Cookhouse.  A delicious restaurant that we really need here in Jacksonville, if you ask me!  Delicious and healthy food choices!  The temps were in the 70’s and we enjoyed eating outside in this quaint shopping and restaurant area.  After dinner we headed on over to Steel City Pops and had a delicious popsicle!  Let me tell you, if you have never eaten a Steel City Pop popsicle, you have missed a treat…..it is nothing like the popsicle in the grocery store.

Amanda and Hannah eating their pops!  YUM!

Amanda and Hannah eating their pops! YUM!

We spent Thursday sightseeing and going to Tuscaloosa to meet up and eat lunch with our friend Donna and her family.  We were in Team Training with them at Canine Companions for Independence.  Donna was the “class clown” and I ADORE her!  Her son, Andrew got matched with Kendra, a very beautiful and spunky black lab/retriever mix!  We had so much fun laughing and talking.  We met them at Dreamland BBQ and it was truly some of the best BBQ I have ever had!

Henny and Kendra

Henny and Kendra

Hannah, Henny and Kendra!  Hannah and Kendra would have been TROUBLE together!  See how calm Henny is!  HA!

Hannah, Henny and Kendra! Hannah and Kendra would have been TROUBLE together! See how calm Henny is! HA!

Me, Henny, Kendra and Donna!  Love my friend!

Me, Henny, Kendra and Donna! Love my friend!

The main reason we went to Birmingham was for a wedding and so Friday and Saturday were dedicated to the bride to be!  We were so honored to have been included in the wedding festivities and so Friday night we went to the Rehearsal Dinner and Saturday the wedding.  Beverly, became so near and dear to our hearts.  She is Dr. Dabal’s Administrative Assistant.  As my readers know, Dr. Dabal is Hannah’s heart surgeon.  Beverly was instrumental on getting us to Birmingham last year for Hannah’s 3rd open heart surgery.  She was our “angel” and we formed a wonderful friendship.  So happy for her and Joseph.  It was a beautiful wedding and we were so thankful to be able to be there to celebrate the beginning of their lives together.

Me, Beverly and Hannah at the Rehearsal Dinner

Me, Beverly and Hannah at the Rehearsal Dinner

Can you tell Hannah LOVES Mrs Beverly.....she was a beautiful bride!

Can you tell Hannah LOVES Mrs Beverly…..she was a beautiful bride!

Of course we cannot go without posting a picture of our FAVORITE heart surgeon!  Dr. Dabal has a beautiful family and we were so blessed to be able to spend some time with them!  Hannah loves her surgeon!

Of course we cannot go without posting a picture of our FAVORITE heart surgeon! Dr. Dabal has a beautiful family and we were so blessed to be able to spend some time with them! Hannah loves her surgeon!

I think Hannah told Dr. Dabal about 87 times, “NO cut-cut, NO blood.”  She loves him but she was making sure he knew that she was there for fun and not surgery this time!  HA!  She was glued to him the whole night!  Gotta love that your daughter loves the man that has sliced her chest open 3 times!  If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!  Maybe she knows that he, along with Jesus, is the reason she is still with us!

Well, that concludes my vacation posts……I had fun looking at all the pictures again and secretly wishing that this vacation never had to end!

Until next time…………

Vacation (Part 2)

HELLO NASHVILLE!  Oh how I love this city!  I told Dennis that we should move there……..NOW!!!!!!

When we arrived in Nashville, it was raining, but it didn’t dampen our spirits.  We were in the Country Music Capitol and it was AMAZING!  We had so much fun being “tourists,” seeing the sights, learning about the history, shopping and eating some amazing food!

Hannah had a blast, of course she is a huge country music fan and took to the stage and showed everyone just how much…..this child is not shy!

Jammin' on stage!  Future country music star, perhaps?!?

Jammin’ on stage! Future country music star, perhaps?!?

We walked, and walked and walked and walked until I didn’t think we could walk anymore.  We stayed right downtown on 4th Avenue, which was directly across from the Country Music Hall of Fame.  We enjoyed the sights during the day and the sounds at night.  On Broadway at night all the pubs, bars and honky tonks come to life with live music.  There were people everywhere and where there is music, Hannah is dancing.

Strolling down Broadway one of the nights, (yes, we let Hannah stay up way past her bedtime); we were at a light in front of the Honky Tonk Bar and the band inside was playing “Hotel California.”  Well, I had Henny and Dennis had Hannah and we were standing there watching and laughing at Hannah “shaking her booty.”  Well, some ladies at the bar could see Hannah and started clapping and cheering for her, which made Hannah “shake it” even more!  HA!  The guitar player in the band looked outside to see what the ladies were cheering at and saw Hannah.  He motioned her over to the stage and gave Hannah his guitar pick.  Hannah was so excited…..the ladies at the bar cheered even louder and well…..Hannah “shook it” even harder!  HA!  The child LOVES to dance.

A daytime picture of the street corner and bar that Hannah danced at and got EVERYONE'S attention!

A daytime picture of the street corner and bar that Hannah danced at and got EVERYONE’S attention!

We had a fabulous time and saw some sights that I have always wanted to:

Me and my girl on the streets of "Nahbille" (Nashville) as Hannah says it!

Me and my girl on the streets of “Nahbille” (Nashville) as Hannah says it!

One of my favorite TV shows.  This was at the Country Music Hall of Fame!

One of my favorite TV shows, “Nashville”. This was at the Country Music Hall of Fame!

Country Music Television

Country Music Television

The Ryman Auditorium.  This was a great tour....lots of history in this building!

The Ryman Auditorium. This was a great tour….lots of history in this building!

Coyote Ugly Bar.....we didn't go in because we had Hannah, but I wanted to!  Loved the movie!

Coyote Ugly Bar…..we didn’t go in because we had Hannah, but I wanted to! Loved the movie!

View of downtown from the bridge!

View of downtown from the bridge!

Another picture of us from the Country Music Hall of Fame!

Another picture of us from the Country Music Hall of Fame!

On our last night in Nashville we met up with our dear friends, Trayc and Yvette Hostetter and their sweet children.  We all met at the Opryland Hotel for ice cream and had a great time catching up!  We enjoyed our time with them so much.  Hannah was in Heaven playing with all 6 of their kids!  I have a picture, but I haven’t asked Yvette’s permission to post so I won’t, but they have a beautiful family!  We love this family SO much!

View from inside the Opryland Hotel!

View from inside the Opryland Hotel!

I actually checked on prices for the Opryland Hotel before we went to Nashville, mainly for grins and giggles because I knew it would be outrageous…..and, it was!  HA!  It was a beautiful hotel and Dennis, Hannah and I did eat dinner there and got SO lost just trying to find the restaurant!  HA!  The place is MASSIVE!  What a fun night!

We got up early on Wednesday morning to head to Birmingham, but I had to stop in Franklin first!  Franklin, Tennessee is truly the quaintest, cutest, most perfect little town I have EVER laid eyes on and it would be where I would want to live if the day came that we were ever able to get out of Jacksonville.  We had a great time….the weather was in the low 70’s with a cool breeze.  We walked up and down Main Street and ate lunch outside at a cafe and then got ice cream.  It was the PERFECT day!  I was sad to leave, but excited about our next stop………BIRMINGHAM!

 

Lulu's on Main in Franklin!  Loved this cute little store and I especially love the cute little kid in the picture!

Lulu’s on Main in Franklin! Loved this cute little store and I especially love the cute little kid in the picture!

Up next……Birmingham, Alabama

Until next time………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vacation (Part 1)

We had a wonderful and MUCH needed vacation.  10 days of visiting dear friends, sight-seeing, going to a wedding and eating LOTS of yummy food at new places.  We laughed, talked, danced, sang, walked and walked some more.  We had a wonderful time and I thought I would share some of our trip with you.  I will do this in 3 parts (one part for each of the places we visited).

Our first stop was to Atlanta……lifelong friends of  mine live there and it had been 5 years since we had visited them.  I love the Garrison’s and the Holman’s.  Tammy, Michelle and I were inseparable growing up and I have always called Mr. and Mrs. Garrison, Mama and Papa G.  Even though time and distance separates us, you would never know it when we are together…..always picking up right where we left off.  Tons of laughter, shopping, eating and relaxing was on the agenda for this first stop.  We laughed until we cried and had SO much fun.

Here are some pictures of our visit.  You will tell from these pictures that Hannah got a tad bit spoiled from her Aunt “Boo” (Michelle) and her Aunt “T”.  Henny also got spoiled rotten!  This is a dog-lovin’ family!

Out shopping and I ran into Willie from Duck Dynasty!  Ha!

Out shopping and I ran into Willie from Duck Dynasty! Ha!

Baking a chocolate cake with "Boo."  All we heard was "eat cake" from Hannah until she finally got a piece!

Baking a chocolate cake with “Boo.” All we heard was “eat cake” from Hannah until she finally got a piece!

Loving on Uncle Matt and Henny!

Loving on Uncle Matt and Henny!

Uncle Mike was a good sport reading Disney books to Hannah!

Uncle Mike was a good sport reading Disney books to Hannah!

Mama G, Me, Tammy and  Michelle.....my 2nd family!

Mama G, Me, Tammy and Michelle…..my 2nd family!

Speak no evil, See no evil and Hear no evil!

Speak no evil, See no evil and Hear no evil!

Aunt T and Hannah!  LOVE!

Aunt T and Hannah! LOVE!

Courtney and Hannah!  Courtney might kill me for this picture, because she just finished an all-day softball tournament!

Courtney and Hannah! Courtney might kill me for this picture, because she just finished an all-day softball tournament!

Me, Papa G and Hannah!

Me, Papa G and Hannah!

Kisses from Uncle Mike!

Kisses from Uncle Mike!

What a fun time we had with them all, it was just not long enough.  We are going to go back BEFORE the end of the year, I promise that!

As we drove away, Dennis rolled down Hannah’s window and Hannah started crying and waving….”go back Boo and Mike house.”  She literally cried for an hour in the car as we drove to Nashville.  During our vacation, at least 3-4 times each day she would ask to go back to Boo and Mike’s house!

Thank you Boo, Mike, Megan, T, Courtney, Mama G, Papa G, Matt, Marilyn and Trey (sorry we missed seeing Levi)….for a WONDERFUL time of fun, family and laughter!  Dennis told me as we left that you are all the most fun and the craziest bunch of people (in a good way) that he has EVER been with!

WE LOVE YOU!  SEE YOU SOON!

Next up:  Vacation (Part 2) NASHVILLE!

 

Until next time……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Day Of School

Today was the day I have been dreading all summer long…..Hannah’s first day back to school.  I know that might sound strange to many of you stay-at-home mom’s out there but I TRULY LOVE having Hannah at home.  I think it comes from that overly protective side of me…..the thought that if I keep her by my side 24/7 I can protect her!  Don’t get me wrong, her school, the staff, and the teachers are AMAZING, but I almost feel lost without her and there is that little feeling of helplessness that comes with leaving her….”what-if” something happens…..I know……the Lord is going to take care of her, but it is still difficult!

Hannah loves school and for that I am so thankful.  It could be a struggle every morning to get her to go, but instead she has a smile on her face and barely says goodbye to me when I drop her off; so that is a really good thing.  But, if I thought it was best for Hannah; I would homeschool her in a nano-second…..I would love to have her home with me all day, every day….but, for Hannah, she needs school; at least right now.  She LOVES her friends and teachers.  She loves the social aspect and her favorite thing to do is learn and her teachers are trained to teach her the very best way for her to learn.  So, off to school she went this morning.

I will admit that I got teary-eyed as I walked away from her class.  She was happy and immediately found her two favorite things…..”her” Mason and a book!  But, for me……it was bittersweet!  I do enjoy the 6 hours of free time each day.  It gives me time to do my errands and cleaning without interruption, but when it comes to interruptions I don’t mind if they are from Hannah!

So, school is back in and we are back in the routine…..like it or not!  HA!  Now that school is back in, I am SO ready for fall to hurry up and get here…..let’s get this city cooled down and get away from Daylight Savings Time…..I am ready for it to get dark at 5:30!  I know, I know……I am probably the only person that detests Daylight Savings Time!

Here is to a fabulous school year of learning and fun!

Hannah and "her" Mason!  Yes, people....this is true love!

Hannah and “her” Mason! Yes, people….this is true love!

 

Until next time………..

All Good Things Must Come To An End

All good things must come to an end and that happened last night as we returned home after a GLORIOUS and much-needed vacation.  We spent 10 days in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama and had the best time visiting dear friends, going to a wedding and seeing God’s beautiful creation with weather in the 70’s and NO humidity!  The weather was a big one for this Florida native and if truth be known I would do just about anything to get out of Florida and be somewhere that had all 4 seasons instead of what we face here…..which is, HOT, HOTTER and HOTTEST!

I will blog more about our vacation and post some pictures later this week but for the next few days I am busy getting settled back into our routine and I seriously have about 10 loads of laundry to do.  Fortunately, I insist on cleaning my house before we leave for any trip, so at least the house is clean and I don’t have to do that.  On top of everything, Hannah starts school tomorrow (insert sad face here).  I am so not ready to be back in the school routine.  The getting up and getting out so early each morning….but like I said; all good things must come to an end and tomorrow our hectic school schedule begins.

Hannah’s little system is still on central time too and she slept until 8:00 this morning; so 6am tomorrow is going to be a shock to her and frankly me too!  Oh, well……we have to do what we have to do!

I will blog about our trip in a few days…..just wanted to let my few readers know that I am back….whether you like it or not!  HA!

I will leave you with 2 pictures from our trip….I love these!

Jamming on the stage in Nashville!  Yes, I might have a future country music star!

Jamming on the stage in Nashville! Yes, I might have a future country music star on my hands!

Hannah hugging Henny and kissing Kendra!  Henny and Kendra graduated Advanced Training together!  It was like reuniting best friends!

Hannah hugging Henny and kissing Kendra! Henny and Kendra graduated Advanced Training together! It was like reuniting best friends!

Until next time………

A Year Later

As I look back at this time last year I am in awe.  We were in such a dark and unknown place on August 8th last year.  Not unknown in the fact that we didn’t know what Hannah was about to endure because we had already been through 2 open-heart surgeries with her; but an unknown place as to the outcome.

Our faith was strong.  Our hope in Christ was complete; but the anxiety of what His will was going to be was where our concern was.  We knew that NO MATTER WHAT God was holding Hannah in the palm of His hand and that His will would be done.  That is all we wanted; but we hoped and prayed that He would let us keep her with us.  We knew Hannah won either way……either she would survive surgery and be with us, the two people who love her more than life itself or she would be in Heaven.  No matter what, Hannah was a winner……we just were not sure what God’s will was.

I can honestly admit that the hardest part was handing her off to the surgeon.  Once that was done a peace that I cannot put into words filled my heart.  Yes, there were tears, but there was hope and peace as well.

If you have never been through major surgery with your child, first THANK THE LORD and second you can probably not imagine the feeling that overcomes you.  Thoughts that go through your mind like, “is this the last time I will get to hug and kiss her,” or “is this the last time I will hear her say mama?”  The hole in your heart when the nurse or doctor takes her out of your arms for the very last time and you wonder if you will ever hold her again.  Those are VERY real thoughts and the emptiness that you feel is overwhelming.

I am not one that needs “comforting” when going through something like that, it is really impossible to be comforted except by the Lord.  I am not a real touchy-feely person and tend to withdraw when going through a difficult time.  I don’t know how people without Christ go through anything like this and I am so glad I don’t have to find out.  It was nice though to walk out of the surgical area that day and see my parents and our dear friend Rick waiting there.  Then our friends Trayc and Yvette showed up from Nashville and MUCH to our SURPRISE, Dennis’ Sargent Steve drove all the way from Jacksonville.  I think, looking back, that was one way that God really comforted me, by sending a few people our way that we knew on the darkest day of our life.  He also sent new friends our way there in Birmingham……new friends that are now lifelong friends.  People who didn’t know us but reached out to us, strangers in their city, to love on us, minister to us, and provide us with food and gift cards.  God used a lot of people from Jacksonville too.  Our friends and family sent us cards, money and gift cards.  Hannah and I got letters and packages everyday from home for the 3+ weeks we were in Birmingham.  What a blessing that was.  Friends…….family……..strangers………just another way God comforted us during that time.

We went into this surgery knowing it could be really bad.  We never completely told anyone everything we had been told about what this surgery could entail…….we knew that there was nothing we could do but place Hannah, Dr. Dabal (her surgeon), the nurses, doctors and hospital staff in God’s mighty hands.  Again, we knew, God had this and we just had to TRUST HIM!

I am so thankful to look back now and see how far Hannah has come!  A year later, here we are!  Hannah is growing bigger and stronger everyday.  She continues to amaze us with her strength, resilience, independent spirit, caring nature and stubbornness (hmmmmm, wonder where she got that stubborn gene from, ha).  She is everything I dreamed she would be and SO MUCH  MORE!  She never ceases to amaze me and I find myself constantly thanking the Lord for allowing me the privilege to be her mom.  It isn’t always easy, in fact…..it is rarely easy; but nonetheless I am the lucky one.  I get to raise a very special little girl and God has seen fit to give me another year to do that……a year I didn’t really think I was going to get…….so here I am, a year later feeling a little nostalgic and a whole lot thankful!

Just prior to be taken back to surgery.   August 8, 2012

Just prior to be taken back to surgery.
August 8, 2012

All smiles.....didn't realize what was fixing to happen!

All smiles…..didn’t realize what was fixing to happen!

I shared this picture on my blog last year and to this day if you ask Hannah who fixed her heart boo-boo, she will say, "Dr. Dabal and Jesus."

I shared this picture on my blog last year and to this day if you ask Hannah who fixed her heart boo-boo, she will say, “Dr. Dabal and Jesus.”

I truly believe that this man, Dr. Dabal has God's hand on him!  God has used him 3 times now to fix Hannah's heart.  We owe him so much!

I truly believe that this man, Dr. Dabal has God’s hand on him! God has used him 3 times now to fix Hannah’s heart. We owe him so much!

I can’t let this day get by either without wishing my mom a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Mom, since I know you are one of my faithful few readers, I know you will see this…..I love you and I hope you have a very happy birthday!  Just like I am so thankful God chose me for Hannah; I am so thankful that God chose you for me!  You are the best!

Until next time………..