Ahhh...vacation. Just thinking about it makes me sigh and get that dreamy look in my eyes. It was a blast. The ocean was the most beautiful, most amazing, awe-inspiring part. I love the ocean. The power behind the waves as they crash onto the shore, bringing shells and rocks and sand up, leaving some behind, dragging the rest back into the mass of water as the wave rejoins the ocean. There were yellow caution flags on the beaches when we were there. Thanks to the tropical storms and hurricanes in the near vicinity, the riptides and waves were definitely something to contend with! But they are also what makes the ocean so beautiful. The sound still echoes in my ears, the pull of the waves on my feet, the pounding as the waves crash into and over me, the sight of the white wave tops as they lift out of the water. Oh, if I could I'd be back there in a second! I told Dar he needs to stop bringing me to the ocean...one of these times I'm just not going to leave. This is my fourth visit. The first was when I was 16, the second on my honeymoon, the third on my tenth anniversary/1st ever family vacation, and then this time. Each time I get a little closer to planting my roots at the oceanside instead of returning to my beloved Minnesota. So if you ever can't find me? Check the beach! :-)
My second favorite part of vacation was getting to meet Baby Gracie Jean Lockyer and her mom and dad, Amanda and Todd, in Durham, North Carolina. God has laid this baby girl on my heart and I'm completely captivated by her! For those of you who don't know, I dreamed about her, oh, several months ago. Almost five now? I dreamed of a little girl named Gracie, who was in a group of children, but stood out, did things very differently. I asked why she was different and the answer I got was "What Gracie wants, Gracie gets". Now, at the time, I did not know a Gracie. I had never met anyone with that name. About a month later, I "found" a website, a CaringBridge website, about a little girl named Gracie Jean Lockyer, who was three weeks old and was in the hospital since she was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart condition...basically the left side of heart did not develop in the womb and she was in NICU getting treated. Now at almost five months old, she is still in the hospital. She's battled for her life non-stop and is still fighting for life. God has done many miracles in her life already and I look forward to seeing what else He has in store for her! Like I said, she has captivated my heart and I've been praying for her since she was three weeks old. So when I found out that the hospital she is in is only an hour and a half north of Fayetteville, where Katie lives and where we were going on vacation, I knew that I had to go and meet her. So I did. I'll post THAT story on another post...it's a long one.
Back to vacation. We drove through the mountains on our way to North Carolina. The kids had never seen those before, so they were amazed, and I was too, as I always am by such majestic creations from our magnificent God. They are so beautiful! We stopped in Charlotte that Friday night and attended a Holy Spirit Breakout at Morningstar Church there. It was quite an experience and it was great to see so many people worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. :-) We spent most of our time with Katie and Tony, Mom and Dominic. We got to see the Motor Pool on Fort Bragg, where Tony is stationed in the military. Christopher LOVED that day and claims it as his favorite. We saw tanks and humvees and missile launchers and every other kind of military truck you can imagine. We went to a waterpark one day. Stopped at several museums. One of my favorite parts from the museums was the one on post. They had a beam from the world trade center on display and I got to touch it and get my picture taken by it. I thought that was very awesome to get to see something like that.
We took the car and the kids on a ferry and rode from Southport to Fort Fischer where we swam in the Atlantic Ocean for a couple of hours. Then we rode the ferry back to the mainland. We drove down to Myrtle Beach and spent a day there, swimming, shopping the tourist-shops, and exploring.
Overall, it was quite the awesome vacation. We crammed a LOT of activities in and had a LOT of fun. For the most part we all got along quite well and it was a very refreshing time for our family. I think it's good for the kids to see that not everyone lives like us, that not all areas of this beautiful country look like our river valley, and that it's good and fun to explore the world our God created. In fact, it's a good reminder for us "seasoned" adults as well. Kind of puts life in perspective, you know?
As far as Cassie goes, things are mostly going well. She's taking her medication every day and I believe it is helping. She has not "snuck out" that we know of since before her court hearing. She did have one episode just the other night. She stayed at a friend's house for the first time since returning from vacation. At 2:30am I got a call from the St. Peter police letting us know that she and five other kids had been found "hanging out" at Treemendous Playground and were cited for breaking curfew. One of Cassie's friends passed out and hit her head after the police showed up and had to be taken in to the hospital via ambulance. She's a tiny thing and hadn't eaten all day and with the adrenaline rush of getting busted, she fainted. She's alright now, thank God. I don't understand the attraction of hanging out at a park in the middle of the night, but hopefully all the kids learned that it's not LEGAL and they can get into trouble for it. Cassie a little more than the others due to her probation. She had to call her PO right away the next morning and let her know what had happened. I don't think she'll get anything other than a good solid lecture, but she better watch it or she'll end up back in court.
She started a job now that she's 15. She's washing dishes for "The Queen" at Patrick's Bar & Grill. It's not many hours, and it doesn't pay a lot, but it's a job and she's on her way to paying her debt to the courts. Then she'll have to start paying us back for the cell phone bills and other items she owes us money for.
She also served her first day of Community Service. She and three other "kids" mowed all of 7-Mile Creek park...with push mowers! I laughed so hard when she told me that. I think it's great that they make them actually work. They also had to weedwack after they were done mowing. They let them out at 2:30 instead of 4, but she still gets credit for the full 8 hours. One down, four to go, unless she gets one knocked off for good behavior.
Other than that, we're all looking forward to my little brother's wedding next weekend. The last of the five Bidwell children to get married. :-) I'm a bridesmaid, Dar's a groomsman and Chris is an usher. Cassie is the only one without a role in the wedding, which has kind of hurt her feelings. I don't know if she totally understands that it's because of her choices over the last 10 months but regardless, it's still hard on a kid to be left out like that. We just help her to deal with it the best we can, and try to use it as another example of consequences to our choices.
That's about it for now. I best get moving on to other duties for the day. Hope ya'll are enjoying your summer. I know we are! Love ya! :-)