Saturday, September 20, 2014

All About Florida, and Then Some

Since my last post in August, so much has happened; which is, honestly, the reason I haven't written a post about Florida and everything until now. So, brace yourselves for what may be a pretty long post!

Not too long after my last post, the situation at TJ's home changed, and he was able to go home. We were definitely sad to see him leave, but we count it as a success that he could have a home here at the ranch when he needed it, and now he can be back with his family. He ended up going home just a few days before we left for Florida; so for those of you who have seen us around church with two boys instead of three, this is why.

Our WSBR family vacation to Florida was just awesome! Even the drives there and back weren't too bad; the boys basically slept, listened to music, or watched movies through the whole drive. Blake and Jon were both awesome drivers--they drove the whole 14-17 hours (it varied on the way there and back, depending on the number of stops we made) without asking either Whitney or me for a break. Personally, I don't mind that one bit. The drive was also made easier for us considering Adeline stayed with my parents while we were gone. As much as we missed her, we were all thinking about how much she would have hated being in the car for that long. Also, this was a great time for Blake and I to devote 100% attention to CS and IG, and they never had to worry about being quiet because Adeline was sleeping or anything.

When we got to the condo in Destin around 10pm, the boys were pretty delirious from being in the car. I think they were doing Forest Gump impersonations for the last twenty minutes of the drive--however, I'm not sure it was on purpose. They excitedly explored the condo for about fifteen minutes, helped unload the car quickly, and crashed in their bed. I don't blame them, the adults did basically the same thing, we just had to unpack the food first. The condo was absolutely incredible! Jon and Whitney's three boys shared one room, and our boys shared another. Each set of house parents had one of the master bedrooms, and our relief parents and their three kids had the guest house (an addition to the condo on the other side of the deck). We had a huge deck that the boys usually sat at to eat for lunch so that they could go right back to swimming in the pool after they were done eating.

All five boys at the beach. This may have been the first day, but I don't remember.

There was a beach just two blocks down the street from us, and another beach two blocks over from that one. Both were just gorgeous, and SO fun. We would alternate which ones we went to every day. The boys spent their time swimming with goggles and following fish around, looking for sand dollars and sea shells (not to mention they found at least four pairs of sunglasses floating around in the ocean), boogie boarding, "body surfing," and one day they all got to take a turn on a paddle board that Blake rented for half a day. The first few days at the beach had pretty big waves, which was fun for body surfing and boogie boarding, but could also be painful if they knocked you over hard enough. This didn't seem to phase the boys, however--I think they spent at least two hours riding wave after wave after wave. The last few days the waves were calmer, and the boys would use the boogie boards to lay on and float around, or would keep looking for fish. One of Jon and Whitney's boys got stung by a jellyfish during one of these calmer days, and it turned into one of those "check out this scar" kind of stories (except the mark was only there for a day or so). We also rented a moped for the week that the boys could take turns riding with Blake and Jon on frequently. Each set of houseparents also got a chance to go on a date night, and took the moped to get there. It was really, really fun!

The boys also loved going to the beach at night with flashlights looking for crabs. They were tiny, white little things that were so fast and hard to catch, but I'm sure each boy wiped out several times diving to grab one. The ranch boys are quite tenacious when it comes to chasing and catching critters (can we motivate them to be as determined to finish math homework?).

Our family at Dewey's. 

CS and IG at dinner at Dewey's. This is actually a pretty good illustration of what it's like in our house most of the time.

One of my favorite days in Florida was when each family went out on their own family night. Our family went shopping, played a few games of laser tag (even when we all teamed up against him, Blake still dominated), and went out to eat at a local seafood restaurant called Dewey's. Dewey's was a little Mom and Pops' looking place that sat right on the harbor. The seafood was caught fresh and cooked up that day. It was oh-my-gosh-why-do-I-ever-eat-at-Red-Lobster good. We all shared this amazing cheesy crab dip stuff, the boys each ate a fish and chips type basket, Blake got bacon stuffed fried shrimp, and I got the most incredible tuna "steak" ever. It kind of made me sad that the same amazingly delicious tuna I was eating is often fated to becoming that tuna in a can. I'm sure they dreamed of so much more.

IG and CS at the lookout point of the deck at Dewey's.

Blake and I on the deck at Dewey's.

After dinner, we noticed a little drop off by the deck that was covered with really cool shells, and the boys asked if they could get one. As they climbed down to grab a few shells, they noticed they were starting to move. There were at least forty big hermit crabs crawling around on the rocks! We limited them to choose about five each, and they were all really cool and way more interesting then any of the hermit crabs they would charge you for in a store. Most of these made the trip home, but after about a week or so most of them died. There was one--the biggest one--that made it the longest, and we would frequently come home to see had somehow managed to crawl out of the big bucket and end up somewhere in a corner of the garage. This, and the fact that hermit crabs resemble spiders to me, totally gave me the jibblies; but, the boys enjoyed them while they lasted.

This is the moped that Blake and Jon rented for the week. The boys each had several opportunities to go for a ride, and it saved a TON of gas money. CS looks like he's pouting because he can't drive it. 

Our family taking a quick picture with the paddle board before we had to return it. 

All this to say, friends of the ranch who donated and made this trip possible, thank you so much. It was an incredible experience for the WSBR boys, and I think they will cherish this memory for the rest of their lives. Not only was the trip memorable because, hello, it's an amazing beach in amazing Destin, Florida, but because many of these boys, if they have been on a family vacation, they have been few and far between; this was a chance for them to be a part of this WSBR family that loves each other and enjoys spending time with each other and going on adventures together. We learned more about working together as a family and being respectful, responsible, and fun to be with. We had an amazing time! Thank you, thank you, thank you for blessing us!

In order to catch everyone up to speed for some things that are happening in our lives lately, here's a few things to let you know:

  • If you're wondering why in the world it seems like Blake, the boys, Adeline and I have barely been at FBC Chandler lately, that's because we have been filling in to lead worship frequently at two different churches, one near Harrah and one in Edmond. We're still around on Wednesdays, though. We promise we aren't ditching you!

  • Our boys pretty much eat, sleep, and breathe football right now. If you ever want to come to a Chandler Junior High Football home game, we will totally save you a seat. You can hold my hand while I pray that neither of them get hit hard enough to do permanent damage. I'm not sure when the next home game is, but you will probably see me post on Facebook about it.

  • Please be praying for any future boys that may be coming to the ranch. We definitely have room!
Thank you, friends of Willow Springs, for your prayers and everything else you do to support us. We thank God for you!