September started out with a big celebration that it is vacation month! We have been busy planning, shopping, checking out hotels, scheduling activities and making dozens of lists! A list for things to do before vacation on the house and in the yard. A list for things we need like clothes, shoes, luggage, etc. A list for places we want to stop at. A list for activities we want to do. A list of things to know for the family staying at our house. A list of phone numbers and addresses! We made a paper chain at the beginning of July and we are excited to see that it is now down to the last couple days! We still have so much to do, it's been a long time since we've been on a long vacation... 6 years in fact!

September started out with celebrating Labor day. We were excited to get a long weekend to work on the house and get the deck completely finished. The kids went to Red Fox Stables on Labor day. They were invited to come and watch a "horse whisperer" work with the horses and teach how horses think and why they think that way. They came home telling lots of stories and can't wait to try some things out on their own!
Chris the trainer worked with Whiskey Girl... one of the stables most stubborn horses! Whiskey gave Chris a good run for his money, but in the end, Chris came out on top!
Kaitlyn petting Daphne, the black pot-bellied pig... who was pregnant, and recently gave birth to 6 piglets!
We celebrated a good friends birthday... with this YUMMY chocolate cake! It was homemade and SO good!
the yummy, three-layer chocolate cake. it has lots of holes in top where LOTS of candles were!
In getting ready for vacation, we had to make a hard decision. Our 17 year old cat Vixie had started to go down hill. In the past year, Vixie lost almost half her body weight, was having accidents on the floor, would forget where her food was, wasn't cleaning herself, and was just getting old. Other than that, she was healthy. We've had her since she was just a kitten.

We made the decision to put her to sleep before vacation so that we wouldn't worry about her.  Diona took her while Meagan, Collin and Kaitlyn stayed home with the daycare babies. There were many tears shed. Diona brought Vixie's body home so we could let  Sadie and Smokey smell it so they wouldn't search for her. It's amazing how they know. Sadie even had a hard time that day! She followed us around sharing our sadness.
We'll miss our gorgeous Vixie, but we feel better knowing she won't be in pain or confused while we're gone.
Our last picture of Vixie posing on our plaid couch.
The next couple posts will probably be all vacation pictures! See you then!


August was full of fun events! Let's start from the beginning...

Whenever Meagan's Coach goes out of town, he asks Collin or Meagan to watch their dog, Mason. Mason is a sweet pitbull who adores Collin! Mason is such a good boy with a hot pink tongue and thunder thighs that would make Flo Jo proud!
Mason sitting nicely while smiling really big!
We decided to have a party for Meagan's 20th b-day. We planned to do it on her birthday day, but since it was the middle of the week, it would have been too hectic with work schedules and daycare. So we planned it for August 11th.
We invited friends we haven't seen in in a while, and friends that we see all the time! It was fun for the kids to swim (in our brand new pool!), the adults to visit, and eat cake :)
Meagan's cake. Her colors were green and teal so the cake has those color polka-dots! The cake also has her intials MRB on it.
Kids swimming in the pool! They loved it!
Meagan with Bob and Sue... Sue is our Area Coordinator for our guide dog group!
Meagan with the Rogan family. This is the family she used to nanny for.
Meagan and the Bird family! Mr. Bird was Todd's best man in Todd and Diona's wedding! So much fun seeing them!
Meagan and Coach Bruce with his wife, Rita. Coach is like Meagan's second dad!
Meagan and the Scott clan minus one kid... although you'd never know it! :) they have a good looking bunch of kids. Mrs. Scott was the one who recorded Meagan's birth!
Meagan and the Millet family... oh the boys... making silly faces again!
Meagan and the Mendez family! Such awesome homeschool friends! 
When everyone left, we all agreed we had a good time. Thanks everyone for making Meagan's evening so special! 
A few days after Meagan's party, Kaitlyn came out of the kids bathroom and said "You'd better come look at this!"
An air freshener with decoration blocks beside it that are supposed  to say "I love America" now say "Live camera". No, the air freshener is not a live camera.
One weekend Todd and Diona came home with a surprise! 
Our brand new, dark blue Chrysler Town and Country!
No more feeling squished in our tiny Mazda 5! We traded the Mazda in for a van and got a great deal! This van has all sorts of bells and whistles. Complete with blue tooth, dvd player, music memory and voice recognition! We feel quite spoiled and very blessed!

Vacation planning! It seemed like just yesterday we were saying "6 months until vacation" but now it's exactly one week away! We will be much more comfortable in our new van while traveling!
Our road map, Diona's glasses, highlighter, pen and list of things to do before vacation!
Diona and Kaitlyn went and got a hair cut together. This was Kaitlyn's first visit to a salon for a professional cut. She was quite excited!
Before pictures:
Diona front
Diona back
Kaitlyn front
Kaitlyn back
 After pictures:
Diona front
Diona back
Kaitlyn front
Kaitlyn back

We think Kaitlyn looks much older and Diona has a lot of layers to give her more volume. They look great!

Todd and Diona had a soccer class in Wildwood, FL, which is about 2 hours away. Meagan, Collin and Kaitlyn came along 1) to test drive the van and see how it feels for a long trip and 2) to get away from home. All day Saturday was the Registrar and Coaches class so the kids hung out at the hotel. When Diona's class was done, she joined the kids and they went to the Russell Stover outlet which happened to have a huge 75% off clearance!

Russell Stover sign
One of the many isles full of candy! This isle has Easter and Valentines candy
They got some good deals and sweet treats to take home and share.

Later in August we were informed to buckle down and get ready for Hurricane Isaac. Hurricane Isaac looked like this for most of the time...

Cool, calm waters of Apollo Beach beach

Isaac wrecked havoc in other areas of the USA and then decided to bring himself back down toward us. That is when we got loads of rain and wind, but nothing serious. At least this time around, we had a pool to help contain some of the water!

Now on to September!

July part 2

The second week of July, we had a visitor! Diona's cousin Wyndham came for dinner after  traveling to Cuba.  Wyndham is a world traveler so we had a fun time asking him questions and listening to his stories. 
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We celebrated Todd's birthday with friends... we ordered a HUGE Tres Leche cake from Sweetbay, a local grocery store.
 Todd's huge tres leche cake. It has 40 regular candles and a number 9 for his 49th birthday!

Todd had to hurry and blow his candles out quick.. the candles started falling over and melting it was so hot!
We still try and do breakfast in bed as a special treat for the birthday person. But with dad working, and daycare,  we either have to get up extra early or wait until the weekend. Poor Todd didn't get his breakfast in bed until a few weeks later... we kept forgetting! So we surprised him with a Napolean and his morning gift after dinner one night.
Todd and his strawberry Napoleon with one candle in it

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After sweet Glenn made a full recovery and went back to Southeastern Guide Dogs, a few days later, we got a call for another dog needing a recovery home. We welcomed sweet Alli, a goldadore, into our home for about a month. Alli was having some skin and eye issues, but also needed a root canal! Poor little girl cracked her tooth while romping and running with some of her kennel mates and exposed the root of her large canine tooth. Meagan took her up to New Tampa a few days after we got her to have the procedure done by specialists who work with Southeastern Guide Dogs. Alli was a very sweet girl who loved to cuddle! She reminded us of our sweet Clarke. We really miss her. Even the daycare babies miss her! Alli loved laying in the playroom and letting the babies climb all over her.
Alli on Collin's lap while Smokey our cat comes over to investigate.
Meagan and Alli were tired so they cuddled up on Alli's dog bed and fell asleep.
Alli and Collin laying on her dog bed while Collin does school.

Alli ready to go to work in her royal blue working coat and pink collar!
Alli sleeping on her bed. She managed to curl up and lay on all her feet!

Meagan went to the Southeastern Guide Dogs Graduating class luncheon in July and took Alli with her. Trainer Karen and Karen's assistant trainers had to come and say hi to Alli... Alli was so excited to see them!

Alli and her trainers
We were sad to say goodbye to sweet Alli in the middle of August, but we know she'll do great in her career.
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 July 31st was Meagan's 20th birthday. Her friend Ashlyn surprised her by coming down a couple weeks early for a long weekend. Here's the video of Ashlyn surprising Meagan! Diona had Meagan run and errand. When Meagan came back, Ashlyn was standing in her bathroom doorway!

They went to the beach, to the mall for some shopping and ear piercing, and hung out at Mrs. Pruitts house :) 
Meagan and Ashlyn in the car
At the beach, making goofy faces
Meagan waiting to get her ear pierced!
Meagan's thinking "breath in, breath out"
Meagan's face is all scrunched up while the guy did the poking... she said it hurt. A lot.
Meagan with her upper ear piercing.
 Thanks Ashlyn for surprising Meagan! It was fun!!
While Meagan was partying with Ashlyn  Todd, Diona, Collin and Kaitlyn were hard at work... after all this... 
Our back yard was totally flooded from all the rain we had. It looks like a swamp!
Our yard finally dried out and we were able to get back to work on the pool. The rain made all the sand/dirt pack really nicely though.
Once the foundation of the pool area was ready, we called our "atlas man", Peter, to come and help unroll the 200+ pound roll of pool wall. Matthew, Peter's son was a good pair of extra hands too.
Peter, Todd, Collin and Matthew all unrolling the wall. It was hard, hot work.
The wall is up and the guys are connecting the beams to the metal wall.
Todd worked on building the cove around the bottom of the pool. This helps keep the bottom in place.
Once Meagan was back home, we pulled out the "Gorilla Pad". This is a large piece of felt that goes between the dirt and the liner of the pool. It helps with anything that could puncture the liner, which would cause a leak.
Collin and Meagan making sure the Gorilla Pad is nice and straight with no wrinkles.
All done!
Next came the liner!
Collin and Kaitlyn pulling the liner out of the box... it was very heavy!
Lots of work making sure the liner is straight and is wrinkle free. Thankfully, the sun helps with wrinkles and so does filling.
 Can it be?!?! Water?!?!
The first few ounces of water... out of the 14,645 gallons... literally!
We were SO happy it was done. It took 3 - eight hour days to fill the pool (you're not supposed to fill an above ground pool at night). And it even rained some! After months of working on the ground work, fixing the deck so it would fit, being rained out, tracking dirt in the house, heat exhaustion, waiting on orders to come in for pieces, it is finally DONE! Just in time for fall! :)
Meagan's actual birthday was celebrated with the Millets and Mrs. Pruitt at our house.  Diona made her a three-layer, German chocolate cake working very hard at it, making sure it was level, with lots of German frosting! Meagan was at gym (being sung happy birthday to by the gym girls whom she teaches) and Diona was saying goodbye to a daycare baby. Just as she closed the front door, Alli, our current recovery dog, ran out of the kitchen licking her chocolaty lips... yes, Alli got into the cake.
Diona managed to save most of the cake, but had to cut a good portion off of where Alli had helped herself.
Diona's three-layer master piece... cut short by a certain dog...
Diona was not happy with Alli but we couldn't help but laugh. Such a goofy dog. Meagan came home to a yummy dinner of grilled chicken and pasta salad. Then she opened some very silly cards and some awesome gifts... 
Meagan opening her card from Kaitlyn... something about how only sisters know the difference between a hug and a strangle!
Meagan opened a camera box to find an iPhone inside!
 If you know the Boyles, they can pull some pretty funny pranks... this time the Mendez' were in on it! They let the Boyle's borrow a camera box to put an iPhone inside. Meagan's old camera died after accidentally being hosed down with flowers, and she's been eying iPhones. We got her good!
Now on to August!