Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Mourning -- Vacation Recap

Ahhhh, spring break!  The perfect opportunity to take a trip to celebrate our sweet nieces' birthday.  Because they live in Indonesia, we've never gotten to see them on their birthday before.  And no, they're not twins, but they do have the same birthday...just two years apart!  Right now, their family is on furlough, and they are currently staying with family in beautiful eastern Tennessee.  So, the four of us loaded up the car and headed out.  Yes, the four of us...Bethany's friend, Brad (who the little girls have christened "Other Brad" to differentiate him from "Uncle Brad"), accompanied us.

It's about an 11 hour drive from southwest Arkansas to eastern Tennessee, so we left home at 4:00 a.m.  We like to drive early in the morning like that...no traffic, and those early morning hours seem to go by very quickly.  With the time change, it was early afternoon when we arrived, so we had plenty of time to visit before bedtime.  In fact, Brad and Brad were recruited to help hang some swings for the little girls to enjoy.  Once this task was completed, the girls immediately hopped on and began to enjoy their new swings.


Unfortunately, about five seconds after this picture was taken, little Katie (on the right) decided to let go of the chains for a reason known only to her.  She ended up on the ground at my feet, crying and holding her arm, and was soon whisked off to the emergency room by her parents.  She returned home a few hours later with an "inconclusive" x-ray and her arm in a splint.  Not the best way to kick off her birthday weekend!

Kids are resilient, however, and by the next morning, she was ready for her birthday celebration.  Their party was held at a place that had all kinds of fun activities for kids...jumping houses, blow-up slides, mazes, arcade games, etc.  Here are a couple of pictures...

Bethany and Julia

Katie and her Mommy


They made such beautiful birthday princesses and we had so much fun celebrating with them!

After the birthday festivities, we moved on to some other fun activities.  We couldn't be in such a beautiful part of the country without spending some time outside!

We rented a cute little cabin...



We did some hiking...


Had a little fun along the way...


And ended up at a gorgeous waterfall, which just happened to be where my brother and his wife got engaged about eleven years ago.  They did a little re-enactment, just for fun...


...And we got to take some family pictures!  I am usually the photographer of the family (not because I'm any good at taking pictures, but just because if I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done).  "Other Brad" is a great photographer and loves to take pictures, so I actually got to be in a few pictures this time!



Our family...


And the obligatory silly pic...


"Other Brad" brought along his handy-dandy hiking hammock...


The girls had to try it out, too...


Nothing like having a picnic beside a gorgeous waterfall, and then "hanging out" in a hammock for awhile!

The next day, we hiked to another waterfall...Such a beautiful, peaceful spot.


At least until Bethany and "other Brad" started rapelling down the cliff.  Then, it wasn't quite so peaceful, at least for me.  This was her first time to do anything like this, and she loved it!  And Mom actually enjoyed watching, too (after a few deep breaths)!


Probably the highlight of our trip was white-water rafting.  Our family has rafted twice before, and we absolutely love it!  This was an absolutely gorgeous float down the Nolichucky River, with lots of whitewater...several areas of Class III and IV rapids.  The water looks awfully brown in the picture, but there had been a lot of rain recently which had the river churned up.  Of course, it also made for great whitewater!  That's a railroad track you see beside the river, and we got to see a train go by while we were floating, which was cool.


All in all, we had a wonderful time on our trip.  So why is this a "Monday Mourning" post?  Because family vacations are not what they used to be.  As you might expect, there were moments of deep sadness.  The first time we rafted was on the Snake River in Idaho on our favorite family vacation ever...back in the summer of 2007...back when life was simple and uncomplicated.  Our girls were happy and healthy, and we had no idea that Hannah would be diagnosed with cancer seven months later.  Hannah absolutely loved rafting, even though it terrified her, and she always wanted to do it again.  We wished so badly she could have experienced this float with us.

There were lots of these around...


...and every time I saw one, I had to chuckle.  Hannah had a totally irrational fear of geese, which we always teased her about.  Hard to imagine that a girl who would face cancer fearlessly could be paralyzed by a little ol' goose!

Hannah would have loved spending time with her little cousins, and they would have absolutely adored her.  One evening, I was showing Julia the pictures on my phone, and we were talking about everyone in the pictures.  I knew there were pictures of Hannah on there, and I was steeling myself for her to ask me who she was.  I was so pleased when we got to those pictures and she immediately pointed to her and cried out, "Hannah!"  Her parents have done such a good job of making sure that she and her sister know who Hannah is, even if they don't actually remember her.  I'm so thankful for that.

I guess every family vacation we have without Hannah will be this way...a mixture of joy and sorrow. All of life is that way, actually.  I am just grateful that, as time goes by, the joy seems to supersede the sorrow.  This can only be the result of God's immeasurable grace.

P.S.-- Oh, and Katie's arm was not broken, by the way.  By the end of the week, she was sans splint, and doing just fine!

2 comments:

Cathie said...

Thanks for sharing, as always. The pictures are beautiful. I usually am teary-eyed when I get to the end of the Monday Mourning blog and this time is no different. All I can say is I just wish Hannah could have been there.

mike k said...

awesome pictures and words that touch my heart.

jill, jamie is so excited about your next outing that she bounces when she talks about it. what a wonderful thing your group does for people.

God loves you special and so does the old mailman