16 June 2011

See Ya Later, Alligator.

On Monday, Papa and I made it a point to take Punky to one of the most talked about ‘kid-friendly’ attractions in town—The Saint Augustine Alligator Farm. It was quite crazy to me, seeing the plethora of sharp toothed beasts—and being so close, for that matter!

Not for Punky though! She was right up in there, nose-to-glass with excitement! Talking to the alligators, singing them songs, I couldn’t believe how comfortable she was around them; especially since she had such a, well, disliking for dinosaurs when she was a tot. Yet there she was---all giggles.

While we were there, we caught a show where the zoo-keeper was feeding the ‘gators. What a hoot it was for Punky!  All the way home, she was going on and on about how the alligators ate strawberry-flavored rats and how she too liked strawberries!  

We stayed until the park was closing down, and let’s just say that leaving them didn’t sit well with Punks. She threw a big fit, crying, kicking, screaming, the works. After explaining to her that we were late for a dinner reservation, she finally (willingly) bid her reptilian friends adieu, insisted on taking an alligator tooth home and off we went. Sniffle, sniffle, sigh and all.

All Smiles, Rain Or Shine.

Back to Saint Augustine we went!

Despite the fact that we can only stay for short stints, we still make it a point to head out to Saint Augustine as much as possible these days. This would make our third trip in two months and each and every time it gets better and better. No trip is the same, as we always find some piece of history to treasure or some tiny place to explore. This trip was no exception! Though it was rainy and I didn’t take many photographs, I still was able to capture a few wonderful moments and, as usual, I’m excited to share!

This time, my younger brother Scotty, who just got back from his first tour in Afghanistan, came down for leave, so we decided to back track on all of the awesome things we got to do last time—just to get on the same page. We did the ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!’ Museum and the Old Jail again, but I’ll spare you the repeats in photography. Just know that it was just as fun the second time, as it was the first! We also made it a point to hop on the Green Trolley and make our way through the various high points in the town, which included seeing the National Guard Headquarters, riding past the cemetery, all the memorials and even through the gorgeous tree-lined streets that surround the Downtown.

After a few hours of non-stop sightseeing and many grumbly bellies, we found a little shady niche behind the police station and had a teeny-tiny cookout. We spent the evening indulged in conversation, mouthfuls of potato salad and hysterical reminiscing about our past “Aha!” moments. We even got to skip rocks in the tiny lake next door---in the rain---that is, until we saw a family of alligators across the way.

Afterwards, the rain was coming down a little too much for the Saint Augustine Ghost Tour that we bought tickets for, so we just decided to stay in and take full advantage of my dad’s hotel pool. Accompanied by The Beach Boys tunes, the warmth of the rain, and the quiet hum of the distant thunder, we had a blast just being together! Plus, Punky learned how to paddle, float, jump in (with floats!) and even dunk her head under the water! I’d say it was a day WELL spent.

09 June 2011

A Title Worth Having.

I would like to introduce my godson, Grayden Lee Gordon, little one to my dearest friend and mommy blogger, Virginia.

Six years ago, I met a girl, two years my junior. She was a fourteen year old redheaded high school freshman, first year JROTC cadet, my first shot at leadership in what I hoped to be a successful entry into the Army. I was her teacher, and boy, did I teach. She was about the most uncoordinated and klutzy girl in the world, so it took a lot of my time trying to teach her even the simplest of military movements. She looked up to me, and it made me feel good to be able to be there for her as well. The following year, little Miss Smarty Pants made it into third year Spanish, which I just happened to be taking and we instantly hit it off. We talked about boys, friends, drama, anything. It was like we had known each other for years. Yes, there were times where we fought. There were times when she annoyed the hell out of me---but hey, what are sisters for, right? 

Wink, Wink.

Fast forward five years and what do you get? Well, the exact same thing. Only this time, I’m an Army wife and mama to a toddler and she’s an Air Force wife and mama to their first little babe. It felt just like old times when she told me she was expecting her son and when she came to me for advice. Even after knowing each other for six years, I still get flattered when this lady can trust me, wholeheartedly, with her life choices. And even after all this time, all the drama and all the friends who’ve fallen into the wayside---this girl still remains by my side; even though she’s since moved three thousand miles away, across the country. There’s a special place in my heart for this girl, and there always will be. And when she got married to her mister and had her little one, that love proceeded to grow as they became a part of my family as well.  

So when we were texting last night and she asked Papa and I to be her son’s godparents, I was undeniably touched (again!) by her. It’s such a joy to be a part of any child’s life, but when you’re asked to do something as wonderful as become a godparent, it’s the biggest honor imaginable. Honestly. Because even though I know she loves all her friends, she chose me. She trusts me enough to have that special connection with her son. And that gives me so much happiness, even though if she had chosen someone else, I still would have loved Gray unconditionally. This, this honor, just makes that love that much sweeter. That girl is going to make my heart explode, you know.

And after almost three years of not even considering anyone worthy enough of being a godparent to my own child, if she (and her Mister) would reciprocate, I'd truly, honestly, be the luckiest lady in the world.

07 June 2011

Lost In Realization.

There’s absolutely nothing on this earth that I’d rather be doing every day than spending time with my loved ones; but because of Bop’s crazy schedule, that’s often not possible. So when even the simplest of opportunities arise, you bet your bottom that we take that chance to make memories together. Even if it’s just us, on the open road, leaving all of our problems behind. It may only be a twenty minute drive into the next county over, but to us, it’s more than that. Like with most things in life, I believe that it’s quality, not quantity, that really counts. And what could count more than quality time with your babes, getting lost not only directionally, but also in laughter and deep conversation?

I can tell you wholeheartedly, there is nothing better. And honestly, these last few months, I’ve learned to appreciate the little things. The road trips, the unknown obstacles, the wrong turns. Sometimes I even feel as though I appreciate them more than the normal ones. And you know, it’s those moments—those kinks in the plan—that really show your strengths and prove that love, life and Mother Nature’s plan for us is just as much of a surprise as getting lost in the first place.

Even if things are hard at the present moment and your situation isn’t ideal, things will get better. And we, as people, will get better. It’s just a matter of time before that goal—that falling star—ends up right where we want it…in our pockets. We just can’t forget to keep our hearts as simple and focused as we do our minds. What’s the point in making a beeline towards what we want if we lose ourselves along the way? I know somewhere, someday we’ll get where we want to be. It won’t be sharing a tiny little place with my in-laws, it won’t be scoffing at how ridiculous my family is acting or even how much we hate living in this god-forsaken town. But even if it is, I’m already where I wanna be in life—with the two people who matter more to me than anything in this silly little world. 

And for that, I’d like to say thank you to my wonderful husband and our sweet little girl for reminding me that traveling off the beaten path, dodging as many curve balls that life can throw at ya, it can remind you just how lucky you are in the long run. And I sure am one lucky lady for having them to share it with.

To getting lost…