Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shipped Out!

Oh, if only blog posts could get published directly from my brain.  I am still trying to work regular blog posting back into my daily schedule.  As you may have noticed, I have been cleaning house around here.  The design is still frustrating me a bit.  My social networking buttons don't look the way I'd like them to, but I just cannot seem to come up with a workable solution.  Feel free to leave ANY input for me.  All comments and suggestions are welcome.  I'd like to have the simple, square buttons next to each other, but I honestly do not think it's possible with this blog format.  Anyhow...

A lot has been transpiring in the Smith Household over the past couple of months.  Our oldest son left for Navy Boot Camp the beginning of September.  We had an amazing going away party for him.  We even managed to pull it off as a surprise.  How cool is that in a family as large as ours?  Not to mention the fact that he was still living at home at the time.  Here are a few highlights from the celebration:

"You mean this is all for me?"

Andrew's second grade teacher, Mrs. Miyamoto was a HUGE surprise!

Nana and Tony were a nice surprise, too.  They came all the way from Florida!

A special blessing for Andrew before we got too far into the fun.

Since he won't be here on his birthday, for the first time ever, we sang to him
over  his favorite  birthday dessert, Banana Pudding.  Yes, that is a punch
bowl full of  Banana Pudding, and there wasn't a drop left!

You know I had to include a shot of Little Man!

It's not the whole family.  We were missing Amie and Steven and Amy.

Grandma and Grandpa Sheldon.  Our rocks!

Andrew being himself!

*All above photos courtesy of Don't Blink Photography.

As you can tell, we had a wonderful celebration.  There were SO MANY people here!  I've never hosted such a large party.  I can tell you something.  I totally understand why people have large parties catered.  I did an extremely simple menu, but it didn't matter.  It was SO difficult to socialize with our guests.  Some people came and went, and I never even knew they were here.  There were people I had never met, people I had not seen in over a year, and people that were just down right dear to me that I would have LOVED to chat with.  It was just impossible.  That being said, everyone had a spectacular time, including myself.  The best part is that Andrew got to spend time with so many people that were dear to him, and it really did help us send him off in style.

The next day we spent the entire day hanging out together on our boat with Andrew's cousin.  It was a lot of fun, and it gave us some time to relax after such a whirlwind of a weekend.  The boat is new to our family, and it really enables us to have some spectacular adventures.  We have a bit to learn, but that will come next summer.  Avery loves the water, as you can tell:

These boys are two peas in a pod!

The next task on our agenda was to send Andrew off.  On our last day together as a family under the same roof we had breakfast at one of our local haunts and headed to Downtown Port Huron to walk the boardwalk at Vantage Point.  Andrew and Avery had some great quality time together.

Racing down the boardwalk.

After taking it slow, hanging out together, and just soaking in every last minute we could before he left, the time finally came where we had to head to the recruiter's office.  The guys there are super friendly, hospitable, and supportive.  It was nice to have the last little bit of time together that we did.

Some final paperwork.

Avery kept busy with the aircraft carrier.
Andrew had one when he was a little guy.

Brothers through and through.

The final farewell.

As time would have it, you are sharing this experience with us as we prepare for another emotional jog in this journey.  Currently, we are preparing for a road trip to Chicago to watch Andrew graduate from Boot Camp.  If you knew our family personally you would know just how big of a deal this is.  Andrew has wanted nothing other than a military career since he was the age of five.  I never in a million years would have imagined encouraging anyone, let a lone any of my children, to enlist in active duty military.  Don't get me wrong.  I appreciate each and every member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and I praise God for my freedom.  It's just a scary venture seeing anyone accept such a calling in their life.  However, it brings me great joy to watch our son realize such an awesome dream.  There has been plenty of hard work along the way, and he overcame many hurdles.

I know this was a decision that Andrew did not take lightly.  He spent the better part of two years searching and praying and making certain that this was indeed the calling on his life.  God walked with him hand in hand through this journey, and I have faith that God will continue to be with him every step of his natural life.  Knowing this brings me great peace in wherever this journey make take Andrew.  My aunt once said to me, "God needs people everywhere."  Yes, I do believe he does.  God does indeed have a plan for each one of us, but there is a special joy in watching anyone, especially our children, realize something sought after with such passion and determination.

After graduation Andrew will head to San Antonio to complete A School to become a Hospital Corpsman.  This will mean he will have achieved another ambition; a career in the medical field.  So exciting!  I don't know where God and the U.S. Navy will take him after that, but I do know that our prayers will follow him wherever he travels.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that a lot has gone on in our household over the past couple of months.  I guess the rest of the stories will be told a later date.  You'll just have to come back, and visit me again.


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