I was blessed to celebrate another birthday!!! I turned 44 on Christmas Day and wow am I old! I used to never share my age with people but I woke up Christmas morning realizing I am now 7 years past that dreaded prognosis so the older I get the more I celebrate and praise the Lord for giving me so many amazing days here on earth!
I am actually seeing side effects of getting old, something so many people said I would never experience! And for the first time when I looked in the mirror that morning…I didn’t just see myself as a sick girl. I saw a woman looking back at me who has beaten the odds! A woman with hints of silver shining through the once all dark auburn hair and wrinkles around the eyes…perhaps a few more pounds as well haha. But I also saw a woman God has carried through all of the trials and struggles…a woman God knew would be standing here reflecting on His goodness when doctors told me otherwise.
Asher was the first one to wish me a happy birthday but he was also excited for Christmas and wished me a “happy Christmas birthday Mom” haha! We were able to do our Christmas with all four kids early in the morning then hung out with some of Tim’s family for the rest of the afternoon!
And then once all of us were back home we got ready to celebrate my birthday/Christmas present!! After ten years of my parents wintering in Florida and always telling us every year to come down…we FINALLY were able to take them up on their offer!!! I am tearing up right now just thinking about it!!
The downfall was that this would be the first year we weren’t with Tim’s family for New Year’s Eve. For as long as I have known Tim, he and his siblings have always gotten together on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the new year. After Tim’s brother passed away, it was difficult to do, but we all continued the tradition. This year, however, his family had different plans which made us contemplate on what our own family should do. Tim was on shutdown…we have very few cows at the moment…all four kids were home…so we figured why not ring in the new year with my parents!! Like Tim said…we really had no reason NOT to go to Florida!!
And just like Charleston, we couldn’t have asked for a better trip!! We left early the morning after Christmas…
She’s so cute when she’s sleeping😉
and took our time, stopping at the Arch! Leah and I were having fun anyway haha!
Kids did a lot of swimming once we found a hotel outside of Nashville…
We got up early the next morning and were so excited when the gulf finally came into view!!
And even more excited when we reached our destination and saw my parents…
not to mention the view from our suite!!
It had been almost 30 years since I was in Florida so I shot straight down to the beach for a quick stroll!
Then once we got settled in we went to visit grandpa and grandma. Asher couldn’t wait to see grandpa so he could play Candy Crush with him.
Grandpa also shared some of his favorite foods with us and Asher obviously agreed with grandpa’s taste!!
We spent a lot of the time in the heated pools…
And hot tub!
The kids loved swimming with grandpa and grandma!!
And I don’t know if I was just really relaxed or maybe it was the fact that I was back in Florida with my parents and it reminded me of all our trips we took there when I was growing up but I felt like a kid again and if you hadn’t already noticed…my silliness definitely came out, especially in the pool we had all to ourselves!
Tim had a lot of fun as well and was throwing kids up in the air so I had to have a turn too!! And let’s just say, as bad as I look in this picture…it was the only one I am willing to share because Skye and Mom had some pretty ridiculous shots but our faces are priceless in this one!
My silliness was obviously contagious…Skyler cracked me up in this picture!!
The weather was cloudy while we were there but in the 70’s so we were still able to play out on the beach and look for shells…
The waves were pretty wild so we originally just planned to have our feet in the water but we got nailed with a big wave…and it was crazy windy!!
Asher was proud to write his name in the sand…
And Nathan was proud of his sand volcano!!
The water was a little cold one day though😂😂
We spent another day walking out on the pier which was also a lot of fun!
My dad took pictures from the beach of us all out there!
We saw about ten dolphins playing around and got to hear them too which the kids thought was super cool…and so did I! Not to mention the breathtaking views!
And while I wasn’t too sure how New Year’s Eve would turn out…it ended up being the highlight of our trip! The Panama City Beach beachball drop…10,000 beach balls would be dropped in the streets at 8pm! We had heard this event had brought up to 50,000 people in the past so I was very hesitant to go with the young kiddos even though it was designed for families. We reviewed strict rules that Leah and Asher were to be with us at all times, no roaming ahead of us and always holding on to our hand. Pier Park was just down the road from us so we walked down plenty early!
Tim then kicked the family out so he could have a solo picture with surfin Santa!😂
I might see now where my girls get their silly poses from!! Haha! I was so excited the entire trip!
The original plan was that I would stay off to the side with Asher while Tim, Skyler, Nathan and Leah got into the crowd to try and get some beach balls. The kids went and got their spot…right under the balls!
As it got closer to the drop, Asher and I decided to join them in the streets. Actually…Tim had to talk me into coming over by them and I am so glad he did! I told Asher to wrap his arms around my leg and no matter what…not to let go. I mean, we had heard some wild stories about how crazy it got so I was just ensuring that our kids would not get separated from us!! Soon enough, people started to volley really big beach balls!
And then shortly before 8pm we did the countdown and 10,000 balls came falling down!!
In the midst of grabbing the beach balls, we completely forgot about the fireworks that were scheduled to follow!
It was an absolutely surreal moment for me and I couldn’t help but tear up as I watched the expressions of pure amusement and joy on all four of our kids’ faces. A moment they would for sure always remember!!
And to think we wouldn’t get any beach balls!!!
We then rang in the New Year at midnight sitting out on our balcony watching the fireworks they shot off from the pier! Absolutely beautiful with the gulf crashing in the background!!
Overall, it was a great trip minus two minor issues! One when we were playing beach volleyball…Tim actually broke his toe but I’ll spare you that picture!
And the other minor issue was with our car. It had been acting up the last half of our drive down but thankfully Tim was able to figure out what it was, go get the part he needed and had it fixed within five minutes!! He had some extra support from my dad and their friends in case he had any questions!! Haha! Definitely a lot of great people down there willing to help out with anything that they could!!
Our final day there I went into my parents room to thank them and I couldn’t fight back the tears. I told them I didn’t know how to pay them back for all they had done while we were there and I couldn’t begin to thank them enough! My kids had so much fun hanging out with their grandparents and I was so grateful to finally see what my parents have called their second home for the last ten years!
Mom and dad know how blessed they are to winter in Florida and have always wanted to share that blessing with all of their kids and grandkids. The fact that Tim and I finally made it down with all four kids, and the fact that we all had a great time was the only thing my parents wanted from us. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday/Christmas present!!!
Soooo, I am going to say it once more! Thank you Mom and Dad! Not only for this trip but for being an example of the type of parents God intends for us to be and giving God the glory in all you have…and in all you do! Love you💕💕