Costa Rica Countdown

Home Balcony View Suspension Bridge Waterfall Rappelling White Water RaftingCR Beach2
Beach Horseback Riding

The countdown has begun.  Two weeks from today, we will be sitting on the porch (pic above) of our Costa Rica house overlooking the Pacific Ocean starting the celebration of Danica graduating high school.  In order to get in some fun local activities and get some much needed rest and relaxation, we will be alternating days for activities.  This means only doing an activity (away from the house) every other day.  On the days when there aren’t activities planned, we will hang around the house, beach or the resort that’s on the grounds.  I can guarantee that there will be lots of hammock time.  Here are some of the activities we are hoping to do (pics above).

  1. Horseback riding on the beach
  2. Rain forest suspension bridge walks
  3. White water rafting
  4. Waterfall Rappelling
  5. Hikes to waterfalls

Pura vida!

Last of Lasts

I find myself sitting in a meeting on a Friday afternoon.  I get a text from my daughter that reads, “Just walked out of my last full day of high school”.  Then flood of emotions begin.  How are we here already?  I remember bringing you to your very first day of school, I think to myself.  This is the last of lasts for Dee; the last day of the last year of high school.  It is the first of lasts for me.  This is the first time I’m experiencing a child moving through this phase of life.  It is surreal; difficult to wrap my head around.  No matter what crazy and mixed emotions I may feel about this phase and transition for my first born, there is one thing that I do know.  I am proud.  I am incredibly proud of the strong, beautiful and smart young lady my daughter has become.  She has worked so hard and has accomplished so much already.

Since the day she was born, there were two main things I wanted.  First, was for her to know Jesus in a real and intimate way. Second, was for she and I to have a close relationship (eventually to become best friends).  The exciting thing about this next phase of her life, becoming an adult, is that we can become even better friends.  This alone makes me smile.  This brings me joy.  Happy end of high school, Dee!  You’re amazing!

* Sorry for the fuzzy photos.  It was early and bad lighting.

Danica - Last Day - Aggrevated Face Danica - Last Day - Sideways Look Danica - Last Day - Smile

Longchamp Le Pliage DIY

I am not one to spend a bunch of money on anything especially a purse. I have been eyeing the Longchamp Le Pliage French nylon bag for some time now. Because it seemed to be the perfect purse for me, I almost, just almost, spent over $100 for this bag. Luckily, I came to my senses, put the purse down, and decided to make one for myself. It’s not exactly like the original but close enough. The coolest thing is that I had all the supplies at home so essentially it cost me nothing. At the time the supplies were purchased, the materials probably cost less than $10. Ten dollars is much better than $125! Check on the pics below.

Longchamp Original

Longchamp Copy Side View 2

Longchamp Copy Straigh Shot

Prom – Where it all Begins

Danica & Jake Head Shot

Danica & Jake Laughing

Danica & Jake Straight Shot

Danica and Jake Holding Hands

Danica and Jake Hugging

Danica and Jake Kick Up

Danica and Jake looking into Eyes

Danica Holding out Dress

Danica Looking to Side

Danica Twirling

Steve and Danica Hugging

This past weekend was my girl, Danica’s, senior prom. She was by far the prettiest girl I had ever seen. We spent hours at the salon to get the perfect hair up do and it turned out perfectly. Danica is the type of girl that is just naturally beautiful and doesn’t need make-up therefore she never wears any. For prom, she decided to do it up right. All I can say is wow! There are no words to fully express how amazing she truly looked. All I can say is that she is the most beautiful girl in the world. No one even comes close. I am so very proud of the young lady she has become. This past weekend really proved to me that this is exactly what she has become. I’m simply in awe of her.

It has began; the beginning of the end. How did we even get to this place? My baby girl, the love of my life, is 18 and going to her senior prom with her boyfriend of nearly two years. So, yes, this is the beginning of the end. First, there’s prom, then it’s graduation and then she moves out and goes to college. All I know is that, at this point, it is certainly hitting me harder and earlier than I expected. It almost feels like someone is slowly pulling my heart away from my body. Uhhh, and here we go. We embark on this new journey of my little girl moving away into adulthood. What can I say? I love her to the moon and back.

Lately

I have to apologize upfront for the lengthy post. If you’re bored, read on. (pictures below)

I know I have been MIA from the blog for a while now. Life has been quite crazy lately. To be perfectly honest, 2015 has been a “B”. Life is hard. Life is difficult. And sometimes life just plain sucks but on the flip side there are always bright spots and things to be grateful for.

You always hear that when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and endure many trials, this is when God can do the most work. All I can say is that God must be doing something big. I have no idea what, but something big. Life is hard. Life is tough.   It just is. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by our circumstances, we will most certainly exist on a roller coaster of emotions. I try to reside above my circumstances and see my life from God’s point of view, but I fail miserably all the time. I’m learning and trying to allow God to mold and shape me along this journey; to become the person that He wants me to be. It’s only April but I’ve learned many life lessons this year, and particularly two lessons stand out to me at this moment and time. First, you have to look at your blessings. If you’re busy being thankful for what you have, you have no time for complaints (I fail at this often – just ask my husband). Second, is to rise above your circumstances and view your life from God’s point of view. It’s difficult but when you do this, that issue that seemed like the biggest thing in the world, becomes only a small blip on your map of life.

Life has been crazy; some things good, some things bad, some things horrible and probably everything in between. Here are a few; my mom’s tragic car accident with a roller coaster of life and death moments, the long continual journey to her recovery, my Granny becoming sick twice, my Granny finally passing away, celebrating my daughter turning 18, celebrating my mom’s 59th birthday (which we weren’t sure we’d get to do), planning my daughter’s senior prom, planning for her high school graduation, planning a graduation trip and trying to land a huge 3 year long technology project at work (in which I am leading).

The topic of my mom; where do I even start? It is been miraculous, yet devastating. I have in some ways become a back up caregiver, supporter and mother to her this year and will continue to do so for as long as it takes (probably years). This area can and does easily become a big roller coaster of emotions but I am forever grateful to God for saving her life and slowly brining her back to us. I will say that celebrating her 59th birthday was the most special birthday celebration of all because, honestly, three or four months ago I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible. Then there’s my dad; my poor sweet dad. His life has flipped upside down and inside out. He had to leave his job, sell several properties, fight with insurance (daily), move across the country, take over the rental business, start paying all the bills and biggest of all has had to become the caregiver for my mom. The crazy thing is that he does all of these things simultaneously. He has always been the rock of our family and he still is but my brother and I have been there to help hold him up when he just can’t go anymore. He’s giving it all he has in an extremely difficult situation. As I tell him weekly, “I’m not concerned about mom. She’s coming back. I’m concerned about you.” (posting daily on her CaringBridge site)

My Granny. Oh, my sweet Granny. I’m not ready to talk fully about this yet but when I am, you’ll most likely see a blog post about it. I will state it simply like this. She was more than a granny. I was a daughter to her and she was a mother to me. I meant the world to her. We had a one of a kind special relationship. I have her wedding ring on my finger as I type this post and every time I look at it I cry. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by since Easter that I haven’t cried over losing her. She is by far the closest person to me that I’ve ever lost.

In all of this darkness, there’s the bright spots in my life. I get to watch my little girl turn into an adult, plan prom, pick out a dress, witness all those last moments of her high school career, plan for her upcoming graduation, plan an exciting graduation trip to celebrate, pick a college, pick a major, and plan her future. How exciting this has been. The excitement and joy on her face makes everything better. Yes, there are many difficult things happening this year, but on the flip side of that, there are all these exciting moments that I am so blessed to get to be a part of. This is the biggest, most monumental year Danica has ever had. I am loving every minute of it. These are all lasts to experience and I plan on being there for every one of them. For me personally, it is emotional for yet very exciting at the same time. I can’t think about all if it too hard because I will cry. I can’t believe we have reached this moment in her life. I feel like she should still be that sweet little sassy southern girl with a twang in her voice. I cannot wait to see what her future holds. There is no doubt in my mind that she will do amazing things.

Then there’s work. I never really talk about work on the blog but this year is a big year. My manta last year was that 2015 would be a big year for me (without my mom’s accident happening) due to the launch of this project, Danica graduating high school and going off to college. I work in technology for a local non-profit. This project is three years in the making and it is huge. We are literally replacing the entire technological infrastructure of the organization. God is in this and I am certainly trusting in Him.

When I reflect on everything that my life holds at this moment in time, I can easily get overwhelmed. What I have to remember is that God has a plan. Only He knows the big picture. I’m learning to take each day, one day at a time, which has been a monumental lesson for me as I am a dreamer and a planner. Honestly, for my own sanity, I have no choice but to operate this way and it works. Life is short and fragile. In a moment it can be flipped upside down. The people you love the most won’t be there forever. Your children will grow up fast and move on with their lives. Soak up every moment of this day. Let the ones you love know how much you love them. This may be the only opportunity you have to do so. Enjoy each and every moment with your children because before you know it, they will no longer be living under your roof.

All I can say is this.  Live for today. Life is short.

Here are a few pictures of life lately.

Mom and Dad at LaunchDee FAU ShirtMom and Nell at LaunchNell & GrannyMom & Dad on Moms BirthdayGranny RingNell & Dee at the Beach 18 BirthdayCR Beach

Spring Break

Umbrella in the Sky Trey the Picturetaker Dragonflies Rushing Water on Feet Danica the Sunbather Birds

This year, spring break looked a whole lot different.  Our normal tradition is to go on a yearly family vacation during spring break.  We have done so every year but this one.  With Danica graduating high school and sending her off to college in the fall, we decided to do a graduation trip this summer of her choosing (within reason, of course).  So this year was spent working, doing a college tour and going to the beach.  Hey, how awesome is it that we just have to drive a few miles from my house to enjoy the ocean.  I’ll take it.

Solace and the Sea

Birds on the BeachBoard Facing Shore Board on Beach Facing Water Board over clear water Board Propped Up Clear Water Feet in Clear Water Paddleboard Facing Horizon Surise

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.” – e.e. Cummings

I used to be out on the ocean every week without fail.  No matter what is going on in my life; no matter what hardship I may be facing, when I’m on the ocean it all melts away if even for a moment.  I hadn’t been paddleboarding in months, since before my mom’s accident.  I decided this weekend to take a little bit of time this past weekend to get back out on the ocean for a paddle and I’m so glad I did.  It helps make the burdens just a bit easier to carry.

Celebrating 18

Danica Beach Jump Danica Showing off Laptop Danica Smiling Earl & JoAnnaNell & Papa Nell & Steve One Palm Papa & Priss Papa Dee and Priss Priss Trey the Thinker Two Palms Nell and Dee at Beach Nell in Hat at BeachEarl and JoAnna

My sweet Danica turned 18 this past week.  I cannot even describe my very fragile emotions about this occurrence, but we certainly cannot stop time.  All we can do is enjoy the moment that we are given.  We are only guaranteed today.  So, because of this fact and because 18 deserves a big celebration, Dee and I played hooky from school and work and spent the day playing.  We went to the beach, had a nice lunch and got manicures and pedicures.  It was certainly a day well spent.  I am so incredibly blessed that not only do I get to be this beautiful person’s mother but I get to be her friend.  I just love spending time with my Danica.

The celebrating didn’t stop there as we decided to do a cookout at my brother’s house this past weekend to celebrate this monumental birthday.  We were able to get my dad there as well.  It certainly wasn’t the same without my mom (it never is), but I think it was nice for everyone to step back, relax, actually smile and laugh a bit and celebrate this special day.

Well, Dee, this is it.  You’re officially an adult.  I hope and pray that I am still the one that you run to with anything and everything.  As we embark upon college, this will certainly be key.  You came into this world 18 years ago to a newly turned 21 year old with no clue what to do.  You radically changed my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  You have blessed me beyond measure and you continue to do so everyday.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you.  You were are my little girl and no matter how old you get.  That will never change.  I love you to the moon and back!

*Sorry for the disjointed post.  It is sort like my emotions these days.  Thanks for following along.  :)

Eighteen

Danica 18

Today, 18 years ago, my life was forever changed.  Dee, my life is simply better because of you. You have brought more joy to me than I could have ever imagined possible. You are sweet, kind, loving compassionate, fun and just all around awesome! I am so incredibly proud to be your mom. Thank you for all that you are and all that you bring to my life. Happy 18th birthday! I love you with all my heart.

Also, I’m now officially the parent of an adult. I AM OLD!

A Berry Picking Birthday

Berry Picking Truck Dee Picking Berries Nell and Dee Selfie Nell and Dee Sitting Nell Picking Berries Pickings and feet Nell SillyNell walking to camera

Well, I just turned 39.  I was told to enjoy this last year because your 40’s are the hardest decade.  Typically, you’re taking care of children and aging parents at the same time.  Most likely you make good money but not yet the best of your career and you’re strapped to put kids through college.  I don’t know if this is exactly true.  I am raising children and will be putting one in college and one in private school (God willing) this fall.  My parents are young; late 50’s but with my mom’s recent car accident and struggle to get well, maybe that qualifies.  They way I look at it, I hit the “hard decade” early.  That’s probably because I started young; married at 20 and first baby at 21.

All in all, I’m still going to enjoy this “last year”.  My birthday weekend was the first time I set aside time to just play and enjoy myself since my mom’s accident two months ago.  I ache when I can’t be there with her but I absolutely love spending time with my family.  This birthday was spent thrift clothes shopping and berry picking with my favorite girl and grilling out my favorite foods with my family at home.  It was amazing.  I have to remember to set aside time for myself and simply enjoy life.  40 will be here before I know it.  ;)

*the berries were used to can jam – stay tuned for a future post.