Time is literally flying by. It seems like I blink, and another year has passed. Every time I see Autumn, I wonder how it’s possible that she is getting to be such a big girl. On Sunday, she turned 6!
This kiddo is the best niece ever. I know, I know, I’m a little bit biased. But she is so fabulous, I can’t get enough of her. Her and I have a great bond. Since she was a little tiny baby and I would babysit her or pick her up from daycare, she has always been a joy to watch and spend time with.
And now, all of a sudden, she is this big girl, in Kindergarten, has a booster seat in the car, spends weekends at our house, and has the funniest conversations with us. She is incredibly smart and has the ability to make me laugh like there isn’t a care in the world.
Autumn had a super fun birthday party at the bowling alley on Saturday. Her and a bunch of her cute little friends. Watching little kiddos bowl is too fun. It was a great day!
It’s hard to believe she’s 6 years old… I am so excited to se her grow up and become the amazing young lady I know she will be. But for now, can we slow the clock down a little?!
Happy Birthday Autumn! We love you so much!
Last year, our hearts were touched after my post about helping for the holidays. In memory of my dad, we set out to donate bikes to children in need. My dad was the ultimate family man and he loved nothing more than taking care of his family, as well as helping a child in need. A little behind the scenes of how we came up with this wonderful idea…
About 10 years ago, my dad did something that would not shock anyone that knew him. My dad was the definition of “family man” and he loved nothing more than a happy child during the holidays. One particular Christmas, my dad was at Wal-Mart and saw Toys For Tots outside. He wanted to buy a toy and make a donation. While in the toy department, he overheard a little boy asking his parents for a bike and they said they could not get one that year. My dad, being the generous man that he was, did something wonderful. He offered to buy the bike for the parents to give to the little boy, and they accepted, very much overwhelmed by his generosity. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will. And, that is a glimpse into the person that my dad was.
Here are my posts from last year about donating bikes…
We had a total of 12 bikes and helmets donated last year. It was a wonderful thing to deliver those bikes to the Distribution Center and know they would end up in the hands of a child who was in need.
This year, we are hoping to be able to donate more bikes to Toys For Tots. It was about this time last year that my husband and I went to Wal-Mart and put two bikes and helmets on layaway. We are doing the same this year. We would love to be able to have more than 2 bikes to donate again this year.
We have had the pleasure of having our niece Autumn stay over at our house several times in the last couple of years. She is so comfortable at our house, calls the second bedroom “her room”, and loves going to the park across the street, and more. Recently, we decided that she could stay over once a month. Autumn loves it, we love it, and her mom and dad could have a night out once a month. It works for everyone.
This Saturday was going to be our weekend to have her over. Last week, hubby found out he was going to work a live broadcast at SeaWorld on Sunday and we were going to go up after we took Autumn home on Sunday morning. Then we found out that we would have the chance to stay over Saturday night and we decided to make a weekend of it, and had the grand idea to take Autumn with us.
I have to say that we are so blessed to be able to take Autumn out of town with us. Having her stay over at our house is one thing, but to be able to take her on a little road trip was great. I very much value the fact that my brother and sister-in-law trust us with the care of their amazing little girl.
After hitting the road around 1 on Saturday, we headed straight for Downtown Disney for our first stop, the Christmas store. It is an annual tradition for hubby and I to buy a new Christmas ornament each year and it was fun to include Autumn in this. I was also very excited to see that Downtown Disney had their fall decorations out and Autumn and I fond the perfect spot for a photo just minutes after arriving. Who else thinks the sign should say “Autumn at Downtown Disney”?
We went in many shops, played with Legos, and watched a quick show at Downtown Disney before heading to dinner. Not surprising that we ended up at a Hooters near our hotel. Like us, Autumn loves wings. There was more silliness during dinner…
After dinner, we checked into our hotel. Since Autumn had just been on a Disney vacation (complete with a pirate bed!!) with her mom and dad, she was curious as to what kind of bed she would have. There was a little bit of disappointment when it was just a plain bed, but the view from the 6th floor window made up for it. Autumn is very much related to me in that she loves a colorful sky and we were lucky to see this beautiful sunset.
Autumn and I did some exploring around the hotel and she was fascinated by the different color lights in the fountain by the pool. It really was a beautiful property. We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld.
Probably the funniest moment of the weekend was when Autumn’s mom and dad called to say goodnight. Autumn was all curled up in her very own queen size bed watching TV and when I handed her the phone, she rolled her eyes like a teenager. After saying hi to her dad, she said “Daddy, we’re on a vacation and I’m trying to watch TV.” If only I had it on video…
On the ironic side, I brought my current read with me to enjoy all curled up in the big comfy hotel bed while I was falling asleep. My current read is The Shining and you can bet that I ended up dreaming about it that night. A dream about a horror story that takes place in a hotel while staying in a hotel? Now it’s amusing…. When you wake up from dreaming about it at 3:30 in the morning, not so much…. I probably should have stuck to the Weight Watchers Magazine…
Sunday morning, we slept until about 7:15 which is so late for me. It was heavenly. We took our time getting ready and went downstairs for a fantastic breakfast buffet. I didn’t take a single picture of this but I had a delicious omelet with tomato, peppers, and onion (no cheese), grits, bacon, and sweet plantains. I really wanted pancakes, but I skipped those in favor of the plantains. So so good.
After breakfast, we loaded up the car and then walked to SeaWorld. The hotel is literally right next door. Ten minutes later we were there and the real fun began. Autumn was a little afraid of SeaWorld because of the commercials where the audience gets splashed during the Shamu show. We explained to her that we would not get wet if she didn’t want to. I don’t think she mentioned it once after we got in the park… We had so much fun watching the dolphins (my absolute favorite!), she got to feed a bird, touch a snake, and touch a stingray. It was a great day!
Remember how I said hubby was there for work? SeaWorld was having their Halloween Spooktacular for the kids. This was such a neat idea! They had a whole are for the kids to trick or treat and even gave out bags. They could wear costumes too! There were games and coloring stations and more. Autumn really enjoyed it. She told me it was okay that she didn’t have a costume on because she was dressed as a school girl. Such a smart girl.
Since hubby was engineering a live broadcast, we also got to sit in the broadcast area. Jayde with Hot 101.5 was there and she had her adorable daughter Stella there who was dressed like a little ladybug. Stella really liked Autumn. And, Jayde let Autumn wear the headphones for a bit and listen in. Perhaps we have a future broadcaster in the family? Thank you Jayde for being so sweet to Autumn!
My favorite part of the day? When Autumn told me that “SeaWorld wasn’t as watery as she thought it would be”. Which of course means that she had a great time and loved it. And the smile – and silliness – on her face are proof… She had fun and that makes me so happy!
Cutie-pie Autumn fell asleep on the drive home… Even more proof of a great time. I look forward to more fun weekends with her. I adore this kiddo so much!
Have you been to SeaWorld lately? What is your favorite part of the park?
We are officially a Big Couple for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County! As part of their 100 Men in 100 Days movement, and interest from several people at hubby’s office, the process was very streamlined and pretty much smooth sailing every step of the way.
After our initial application submission about a month ago, we completed online training and then waited for our interview on July 29. Within days of our interviews (we were each interviewed separately), we received a call that we were officially accepted as a Big Couple. In that same phone call, we were also told about a potential match! We were surprised because we were told that normally takes a couple weeks after we are accepted. Our match specialist emailed over very detailed information on our potential little brother and hubby and I read it over and discussed.
One thing they stress is the importance of sharing common interests and having open communication. They go through great lengths to screen Bigs so they are matched appropriately with Littles. What they don’t want is to place a Little with a Big, who do not share common interests and it doesn’t work. That would be difficult for the Little, especially if they felt they were not liked.
Going into this, both hubby and I felt that we were pretty open as to who we want to be matched with. We did not set any limitations other than an age range. Our goal is to be mentors to a child who needs support and adult role models. Generally, the parent/parents place their child in the program specifically for that support, for a variety of reasons they may face in their household and family lives. It was our feeling that we wanted to help a child between the ages of 8 and 12.
After deciding we wanted to me our potential Little, a meeting was set up which took place this past Wednesday evening. Hubby and I, along with a match specialist from BBBS, all met at the Little’s home. Specific questions were asked of all us and it was a chance for us to talk and ask each other questions. Both hubby and I liked our potential Little right away. We had a lot in common as far as likes, dislikes, activities, and more. We both also really enjoyed meeting his mom. One of the things we like most is her desire for her children to have every opportunity they can to succeed in life. I love that and I know if we were parents ourselves, we would want the very same thing. At the end of the meeting, we were told we would both be called the next day to find out how we each felt about the meeting and if we wanted to proceed with the match.
We were very excited when we left and felt very good about it. I think we spent much of the evening discussing possible outings and activities we can do together. Yesterday, I received a call late morning from the match specialist to find out what we thought and of course I told her we absolutely wanted to move forward with the match. I was told they would call the Little’s mom next and then would call me back. By the end of the day, we received a call back that mother and Little were both very excited about meeting us and wanted to move forward as well. So, we officially have a Little Brother!
Big Brothers Big Sisters has very strong policies in place, all of which are there for the protection of the Littles. Because of this, we are not able to share his name or any photos. I can however, share general information about our outings and fun. So, he will be known as Little Brother, or LB, on my blog. And I will share this with you… He is 12 years old, going into the 7th grade, has a wonderful personality, and is probably one of the most polite children I have ever met. From here on out, we will communicate directly with his mom to plan our outings. Our commitment is 4 – 8 hours a month, for 15 months.
Big Brothers Big Sisters offers endless support to both Bigs and Littles. They plan events and offer free or low-cost activities to do, and provide a list of local businesses that offer discounts to volunteers. Being a Big does not mean spending a lot of money on activities or gifts. It is support, quality time, help with school work, focusing on life skills that the parent may want addressed, and quality time for the Little doing activities they enjoy and that will lead them in the right direction in life.
I am sharing all this because I am so impressed with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. I never knew much about it before, but have known a few people who have Littles and I’ve been told that it is so rewarding. After our match meeting Wednesday night, my heart was so happy, knowing that we might have a part in influencing this young boy who is very much interested in having a Big Couple in his life. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Hubby and I try to do things for other people and give back when we can. Rescuing a dog from the Humane Society who needed a second chance, to donating bikes last Christmas, and now being a mentor to a child. It is a wonderful feeling to make a difference.
I have not been out to Memorial Causeway to run the bridge since May. After the Iron Girl Half, we went out a couple times. After driving over the causeway the other day for work, I realized I missed running it and decided I would head back out there this weekend. I asked hubby last night if he’d go out with me before the sun came up this morning and being the supportive husband he is, he agreed.
We left our house at 5:50 this morning and were parked and starting our run at 5:59. It was so quiet out there and the bridge was was so pretty, all lit up. I admit I was nervous to run over it after no doing so for a couple months. Would I be able to do it as I had before?
I ran over it just fine and it felt great. Up and over the bridge I went at a pretty good pace. After passing the light that is about halfway over the causeway, I turned around to head back. I caught up with hubby who is dealing with knee pain and I walked for about a minute with him. As I approached the bridge, I said bye to hubby and took off running again, hoping to make it over as well as I did the first time.
I ended up having to walk twice as I ran up it. It was a good reminder of how important it is to keep up my bridge runs and build up that endurance again that I had before. Once I hit the top of the bridge, I ran down and finished up my 3.11 miles.
Even though I walked a couple times, I still finished a little faster than the last time I ran it. I attribute this to the fact that my running is faster and more consistent on flat surfaces now so I made up time there.
All in all, I’m very happy with this morning’s run and it just makes me want to get out there and run the bridge more often.
After some stretching, hubby and I went to Starbucks and enjoyed our drinks on the patio where Frank Sinatra music played. I could have sat there all day listening to it… It made me feel like my dad was there with us. On our way to the car, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of the dolphins they have downtown. I love dolphins and this one was so pretty. It even has ladybugs on it!
It was a very nice morning. Any time I can get a run in, burn calories, spend time with hubby, have coffee, listen to Frank Sinatra, and see a pretty painted dolphin is a great start to my day.
How often do you run bridges? Is it a part of your regular training?