The Refugees

We survived our second major hurricane in Jacksonville….Hurricane Irma. With the relentless news forecasts warning of the impending catastrophic hurricane coming to wipe out the entire state of Florida, we were a little nervous but knew that we wouldn’t know for sure the impact on Jacksonville until the storm moved closer. What seemed for sure is that southern Florida, and especially Miami, was going to get nailed. So about a week prior Irma hitting our state, I received a phone call from our dear, former neighbors from Minnesota’s son, Steve, who lives in the Miami area with his wife, Alysia, three children under the age of 5 and Husky dog, Diego.

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As soon as I saw his name on my cell phone, I knew that he was looking for a place to escape so I invited them to come up to JAX to wait for the arrival of IRMA.

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In a desire to not get caught up in the evacuations of millions of people in southern Florida trying to escape and to avoid and sitting on stalled highways for hours with a carload of young children, they drove up on Wednesday, well ahead of the storm expected to hit on Sunday and Monday. We were blessed with warm, sunny days leading up so that the kids could spend their days swimming in the pool (and boy did they spend hours and hours swimming!). At night, we cuddled on the couches for movie nights.

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We played Old Maid and Crazy Eights with the kids.

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We did Tequila shots with the adults because we are cool that way :).

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We shared meals together.

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From Wednesday through Sunday afternoon, it was almost like a mini-vacation together! Lots of fun, laughs and food and cocktails together with little responsibilities from work and/or school.

We are grateful that we had this special time together with a fun and energetic young family. It was definitely a taste of grand-parenthood and I really enjoyed it! We are glad that we could be a blessing to this young family and await the massive hurricane together. More tomorrow….

 

 

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Zack, Plan C

About a month ago, I told you how Zack had decided to switch from the Electrician Training Certificate to Aviation Mechanic Certificate. Wwwwweeeellllllllll, that program lasted less than one day. When I awoke in Arizona last Monday morning, I had already received a text from Zack in the midst of his first day in the program saying, “I think I’m dropping out of the program.” I’m guessing that they started the day with a “Pep Talk” about how challenging it would be and how hard they would have to work and other realities of life. All Zack focused on was the fact that he had until that Friday to drop out without any financial consequences. So within the first two hours, that is what he had already decided to do.

We gave Zack three options:

  • Find another program to switch to by the weekend.
  • Enlist in the service.
  • Work full-time and pay us rent, car insurance and cell phone.

At first he said he was switching to the Welding Certificate program. Then he said he was switching to the Drafting Certificate program. In the end, unsure of what the heck he wants to do, he has decided to work full-time for at least one semester while he explores his options.

We really wish that he would enlist in the service but he seems to have no interest in that option. So for the time-being anyway, Zack will be working at home and paying bills like a real adult!

Good luck Zack! We hope you figure out what you want to do in life.

Arizona

After dropping me off in Tucson at my Aunt Sandy’s house, I spent the week doing the following (in the order of occurrence):

  • Seeing a local production of The Producers with Aunt Sandy, her half-brother (and my half-uncle) Larry and wife Judy and a few of their friends. It was very entertaining and well done.
  • Attending the local Sovereign Grace church for my weekly fill-up!
  • Having a day of pampering with a pedicure and massage

  • Attending the neighborhood water aerobics class three times that week. It was actually way more fun than I thought it would be.
  • Playing Scrabble at the IHOP, officially making me feel like an old lady between the water aerobics and this!

  • Formulating a plan with Aunt Sandy on our next genealogy project together on her father’s side of the family. We sorted through photos and began figuring out our plan of attack and we are excited about our direction.
  • Having dinner with my niece, Abby, in Phoenix (after spending the day with Anthony). Anthony was originally supposed to join us for dinner but ended up having too much homework that night.

  • Attending Aunt Sandy’s weekly watercolor art class which has really inspired me to start spending time in my craft room more.

I painted the parrot on the left…

And these flowers…

  • Visiting Judy and Larry at their ranch in the country and meeting their horses.

  • Having lunch with Judy and Larry and Sandra’s friend, Joy.

  • Playing several games of scrabble during the week, ending with my victory on the last night!


It was a great week away and I’m blessed to have such a beautiful and relaxing place to escape to at my Aunt Sandy’s mountain resort. It was the perfect place to recuperate after the long drive across the country and always such a special treat to spend time with my aunt. Thanks for everything, Aunt Sandy. Until next time!

And a very happy 80th birthday to my Aunt Sandy later this week!! I’m sorry that you missed your surprise party!

College Bound

For the second time in two years, I made the 28-hour drive from Jacksonville to Tucson in Anthony’s pick up truck.

We drove 10 hours to Lafayette, LA the first day, 10 hours to Ft. Stockton, TX the second day and 8 hours to Tucson on the third day, where Anthony dropped me off at my Aunt Sandy’s house.

We were so blessed to be one day ahead of the devastating hurricane Harvey, as we drove through Houston the day prior. Other than some brief rain and numerous highway signs warning drivers to avoid the Texas coast, we traveled without any difficulties.

I did borrow Aunt Sandra’s car to drive up to Phoenix on Wednesday to visit Anthony at Grand Canyon University and see his apartment.

I took him to Costco to stock up on groceries and household supplies.

We also went to a few Goodwill stores to find a tv stand and two kitchen chairs for a total of $12!

It was good to spend time with the college boy and help him get set up in his apartment.

I wish him a great third year of college!

Kick Off

Can it be football season already? It’s hard to imagine when it’s still 90 degrees out with 85% humidity in Florida. But yes, it really is that time. Since it was only preseason and since it was the JAX Jaguars, Carl was able to get an unlimited number of tickets to the season opener game at Everbank Field last Thursday night. He offered tickets to our entire church and over 135 tickets were claimed (this is only some of the crew)!

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One of the diehard Jaguar fans, Nathan, who has his own season tickets, organized tailgating in one of the parking lots beforehand. He did a terrific job with a tent, two propane grills, music and games set up for the kids.

I had really debated going myself since:

  1. It’s football.
  2. It’s soooo hot.

But I couldn’t pass up the fun social occasion with our church family. And when Anthony (who is home from Hawaii for one week) said that he would come too, that clinched the deal.

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I can honestly say that I don’t think I watched the game at all. I spent most of my time socializing with friends or looking for my photos to appear on the Giant Screens.

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If you post photos to Instagram using the hashtag #jagsgamedaylive, you can eventually see your photo appear on the screens, rotating through a few times. These are some of the other photos I posted to Instagram…

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Our friends, Michelle and John, who we rode with to the game and Ben, another young friend.

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Our friends, Dee and Eddy, with Carl stopping by to say hi.

From what I hear, the Jaguars really looked bad and it’s going to be a long and painful season. This pretty much sums up what I feel about watching football…

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It was a fun evening hanging out with friends. I am grateful to Carl and Nathan for helping to put together a great evening of fellowship! Next time, let’s do it somewhere inside with air conditioning!!

 

Zack’s New Plans

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Remember when I told you that Zack would be going to FSCJ in the Electronic Certification program? He has decided to instead enter the 20-month Aviation Mechanics program, which is another career that we previously tried to talk him into but he resisted. When Zack first started talking about automotive mechanic as a potential career, he had several adults (Carl’s cousin’s husband and Carl’s brother) try to steer him in the direction of Aviation mechanic instead due to the high demand and higher pay of that field. After hearing of a friend in Minnesota that is entering the US Air Force in that field, I think Zack was finally swayed. He decided to change paths to obtain his Aviation Airframe Mechanics and Aviation Powerplant Mechanics Certification. So he is now enrolled, starting on August 28th. Zack will attend classes at the FSCJ Cecil Airport Center every Monday through Thursday from 7am until 3pm for the next 20 months. It will be hard work but we know that with Zack’s determination and good work ethic, he can be successful. We are really proud of him!

Even better news is the fact that Zack has received a significant scholarship from the Jacksonville Jaguar Foundation which will pay for half of his yearly tuition/fees. Thank you to the Jaguars!

Happy 21st Birthday!

Our second child, Anthony, has reached the momentous milestone of his 21st birthday!

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After finishing his second year of college this April, Anthony immediately flew to Seattle to spend two weeks on the West Coast visiting with a friend from college.

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From there, he was blessed to return to Camp Homelani for his second year working for the Salvation Army camp in Hawaii.

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He had another amazing year living just a few steps from the beach on the North Shore, making many new friends, like this guy….

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After camp finished for the summer, he stayed with his friend Josh for another week to celebrate his 21st birthday in Hawaii, the place that has claimed a special place in his heart.

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On Friday, he will be leaving Hawaii and flying to Chicago for a long weekend to visit his birth family. Next Tuesday, he will be returning to Jacksonville for a week. And then Anthony and I will make the 3-day/30-hour drive from JAX to Phoenix with his pickup truck. The redeeming part for me is that I will then get to spend a week being pampered by my Aunt Sandy in Tucson so it will be worth it in the end.

We are so excited to welcome Anthony home next week and are very grateful to God for giving Anthony so many amazing opportunities.

Happy Birthday, Anthony! We love you! We look forward to celebrating with you next week!