Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ok so posting blogs w/ pictures via Picassa has it's downside, aparently I can only post 4 pics per blog, so here are some more of our day at Daytona Beach in January. If you read the previous post you know that Austin was very reluctant to go into the ocean. As you can see from this picture, once I coerced him into sticking his toe in, it did not take him long to be jumpin waves and having a ton of fun.

Now this was the way I expected to see Austin! Soaked and smiling! In the end he was very happy that he decided to go ahead and get in the waves. He loved the Florida beach, but said that he likes the Pacific just as much. Not surprising as he is definitely my water boy!

Colton also had a great time. He told me that he liked the Florida beach "way better" than the Oregon one, because the water was a lot warmer, and because we could park right on the beach and not have to hike to get to it. Colton found a star fish and some shells that were really neat.

Lily had a lot of fun. Running from waves, and digging for shells. We found a lot of cool things. Lots of little angel wing clams (scallops I have no idea), and a crab claw.

In the end this is one thing I really miss about Florida. While I love the ocean (any ocean) and will take what I can get. Sunny and warm is how a beach should be!
So even though the reason for our trip to Florida was a sad one, both Marc and I decided that we needed to take the kids to the beach. It was a beautiful day at Daytona Beach! 75 degs, clear and breezy, but compaired to the Oregon Coast it was down right tropical!

The kids seem all ready to go here, but Austin was "cold" due to the wind. It didn't dawn on me for a few minutes, but where we go to the beach in Oregon is in a cove and not as windy as it was here.

Lily, Daddy, and Colton test the water of the Atlantic with thier toes to see if it is really warmer than the Pacific.

I couldn't have timed this picture better! =D

I was really happy when a very nice older couple walked by and offered to take a picture of our whole family! Just about everywhere we go I have pictures of Marc and the kids, or myself and the kids. Pictures of all 5 of us together are rare!

Even though his dad, brother, sister and mom all told him that the water was warmer and quite a bit of fun to play in, Austin took his dear sweet time getting into the swing of things. I was soo sure that he would run right in! Goes to show that Austin has his own mind about things and will often do exactly the opposite of what I think he will do, probably just to spite me! LOL To get this picture I had to practically beg and ask him to "at least put a toe in the Atlantic Ocean" for a picture for all his grandma's and grandpa's.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In Memory of Bruce Croker

So as you know Marc's step-dad Bruce passed away on January 3rd. Because his mom requested it we were on a plane on the 4th headed to Florida for the memorial and to be there for Donna.

Bob, Tom, and John, Marc's 3 step-brothers, and Jeff, his brother, along with their wives and children were all there. As well as Bruce's sister Diane and her husband. The amount of friends, family, and members of the community that came to the service was really touching. Bruce was a real character who liked to joke around and have fun, but was one of the hardest working men I knew. I had only known him for about 9 years and even though he was a tough old bird who often came across gruff, he always treated me like a daughter. I am honored to have had him in my life and I will miss him greatly.

Bob's wife, Bonnie and I spend the Monday after we arrived putting together picture collages out of the hundreds of photos that everyone brought of Bruce. It was really helpful for me and it seems to have been helpful to everyone who was at the house that day. People would wonder through the front room where we were working and pause for a moment to look at the table full of pictures. One would jump out at them and remind them of a story about Bruce. They would tear up, snicker, or roll their eyes and share that story with us. Often they would call to someone else nearby and share that story again showing them the picture that had reminded them of it. It was a very good thing.

So many things about the rememberance and grieving process of this trip stuck out for me as unique and remarkable. 1st, Marc's dad, Noble, officiated the service. In so many families I know, including my own, the divorced parents wouldn't be able to stand being in the same room let alone even show up at one or another's funeral. 2nd Bruce's ex-wife came to the memorial! Pat was there for Donna as well as to honor Bruce. I was like, "wow, this is unreal"! I was amazed. Also, the energy around the house wasn't grim and sad all the time. Oh the tears flowed to be sure, but so did the laughter. The kids (all 11 of them) played their hearts out while the adults chatted and shared so many wonderful stories about this man whom we had lost. My favorite is one my sister-in-law shared at the memorial itself. It seems she was dating Jeff back with Donna and Bruce were still raising cows on their farm. Every time Heather would come to visit, she would go out and feed the cows. It had been a few weeks between visits once, and it was dark when she arrived. With dinner already on the table, she decided to sit and eat before going out to say hello to the cows. After she had finished a most delicious steak that Bruce had grilled, he asked her how it tasted. She couldn't say anything but "Delicious!". It was at that point that Bruce told her that the steak she had just eaten had come from her favorite of the cows in the pasture. ROFL!! I laughed so hard! And that was the biggest difference in Bruce's memorial from the ones I have attended in the past. The laughter. The love of life and fun that Bruce personified had lived on in his stories and his family.

Bruce loved so many things. Animals, Travel, the ocean, the mountains (except when trying to drive his 5th Wheel RV over them), digging for gems, or panning for gold. All of it was a thrill to him. But he loved his family most of all. Especially his grandchildren. And something that made me love him so much was that even though our children were not his blood relatives, they were still HIS grandchildren. He was Pappa to them. They loved him and he was sooo good to them. On one of our camping trips (the last time they drove across the country from Florida with the RV) we were in Joseph, OR and it was really really hot. Bruce drove 30 minutes to the closest town with a decent sized store and bought the kids a blow up pool to play in that even had a sun shield so they could get cool without getting burned. One of his greatest wishes was to get ALL of his grandkids together so he could watch them play together and enjoy them all. Well, Bruce we are soo very sad that you couldn't be there in person to watch them, but we KNOW that you were watching as all 11 of your precious grandkids played their hearts out on your farm, in the tree house that you built, and making that wish come true made my heart very happy.
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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saddness abounds....

We found out a few hours ago that Marc's step-dad, Bruce, passed away from heart failure. He was in the hospital following brain surgery to remove what they though was a cyst, but turned out to be a cancerous tumor. The surger was the 26th and everything seemed to be going well. He was eating, up moving around, took steps today in PT, and generally progressing in a very optimistic fashion. The heart failure was sudden and a huge surpise. We are all very sadden by this loss.
I'm heartbroke for Marc's mom. I just can't imagine what it must feel like. She wants us all to come out to Orlando, so we will be booking flights asap. We hope to leave Sunday afternoon if the flights I found tonight are still available in the morning. We are planning to stay as long as Donna needs us there, a week at minimum. Marc was 5 when they married, so Bruce was very much a 2nd father figure for him.
I'm a bit concerned about talking to the kids about this. I have an idea of what to say, and how to answer any questions that might come up, but you can never know how this will affect children. Poppa was the grandap they were all the closest to, and who they had spent the most time with. I can't predict how they will take it, so I have to be ready for any eventuality.
Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with this loss.