December included some parties with Joyce's high school class, Sunday School Christmas Parties, Christmas Eve with the Woodens and Joyce's family, Christmas Day with the Kernohans and family, and a trip to Orlando to stay with Karen and Robert's families in a 5-bedroom condo while enjoying Orlando attractions such as an Escape Room, eating at T-Rex and exploring Disney Springs, making our annual visit to ICE where the theme this year was The Polar Express, cheering our team at the Medieval Times and Prates Dinner Theater, swimming (December!) at the Champions Gate Resort, and having fun at Gatorland.
A small event this month: Jay turned 75, though he insisted he was still 55 plus shipping and handling. Though he did admit it is now taking him two tries to get up off the couch. Robert, now fully in his job with Chick-fil-A, came in from his Orlando area to celebrate two days with Jay, where they had fun at Busch Gardens and played golf at Jay's "home course" at Diamond Hill.
The big event of this month was our trip to the Bahamas and our stay at the Sandals Resort in Nassau. Our trip included enjoying the amenities of the property, swimming with pigs and sharks, and a Segway tour of one of the nearby islands. in mid-month we traveled to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, to help celebrate Joyce's grandson Joseph Gardynik's graduation from Basic Training.
We missed this year's celebration of the Labor Day weekend with Robert and his family at Callaway Gardens, but did go up to Georgia in mid-September for some fun at Great Wolf Lodge with its indoor water park, plus we had the "required" visit to Wild Animal Safari so we could again experience what it's like to have a giraffe stick its tongue all the way inside your vehicle. Later this month Jay travelled to Miami to be part of Judge Raul Cuervo's Investiture Ceremony as a County Judge. Jay and Raul served together in the 317th Combat Engineer Battalion in Germany in the mid-70s and have maintained contact for 40 years.
We began this month celebrating Robert's Birthday and continued with another trip to the Bilmar Beach Resort to help celebrate Karen's Birthday and to have some more beach fun before the beginning of school. We also spent parts of August visiting friends and family of Joyce who were in hospitals being treated for medical issues. Joyce is an outstanding source of medical advice based on her extensive experience as a Critical Care Registered Nurse. She may be retired, but she keeps her certifications correct, and her skills as a medical advocate are well-known to most members of her church as well as her other friends and relatives. As we know, medical professionals have our best interests at heart when we go to them for services but we just do not have the knowledge to know what questions to ask. Joyce bridges that gap, and also uses her extensive contacts in the Tampa area to expedite medical appointments and treatments.
This month we continued to unpack and sort from our move; trying to get settled, a process that would take a while, but necessary. It helped that we knew how happy we would be with the home once we were finally settled. We also celebrated Independence Day with newly married Michael and Karri (King) Kernohan at the Bilmar Beach Resort on Treasure Island in the St Pete Beach area. This was also the big month for Joyce's Family Cruise to the Bahamas which also included the family of Joyce's long-time friend Lu Thompson.
June was moving month, from the rental property in Brandon to Jay and Joyce's new home in Valrico. Two different city addresses but a move of only about six miles. Not that a six miles move is easier than a thousand mile move; for a short move you want to move "precious" items by yourself in 35 carloads of boxes that have to be bought, self-packed, loaded in a car, transported, and unloaded. For the thousand mile move you self-pack one box of precious items and stand back while the movers do the work. Whew! This concluded an 18 month period that included an engagement, a wedding, preparing for sale and selling of two homes, renting an interim home, and buying what will hopefully be the last home Jay and Joyce will ever live in. As of the end of June there were still about 15 boxes to be unpacked. We also got in a visit to Robert and his family as they joined him while he was training for his new job with Chick-fil-A.
This month included a lot of sports for Braden, Daylin, Skyler, Benjamin, Everett, and Charlie. They all did well. Jay and Joyce got away for a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game at the Trop, which was fun, and celebrated Memorial Day on the beach at Treasure Island where the weather was great (but maybe a bit hot) and the water was perfect. This month also marked the sale of the Sablewood Drive home, the place where the Braden family had lived the longest of any of about 20 homes including military quarters. Jay and Joyce stayed busy preparing for their move to their new Legends Pass Drive home in mid-June. Jay's Mom also made a transition this month, from her independent living at Rosewalk to assisted living at Carmel Senior Living by way of more than a month of physical therapy. Ellen and Tom and their family worked hard to get Mom moved out of Rosewalk and into her new accommodations.
Jay and Joyce celebrated their one year anniversary with a trip to the Cayman Islands where they stayed in a nice accommodation on the east end of Grand Cayman Island. Everything related to the trip went very well – a good time.
We continued to watch Braden, Daylin, and Skyler play their various recreational sports and we got away with Karen and Cathy and their family for some fun in Orlando, We also had Robert and his family here for a nice time as part of their visit to the Orlando and Tampa areas. March was also our Sunday School class' annual Strawberry Picnic at the Mercer Farm where we picked strawberries and, enjoyed socializing, and had some great food. We also made a quick trip to Carmel, Indiana, because Jay's Mom was hospitalized. She ended up with time in physical therapy ... a process that was to last until late May.
This month was marked with a lot of activity. Joyce got a good offer on our home and was able to close on it. Jay and Joyce travelled to Orlando to meet one day with Robert and his family who were vacationing there. Then Jay and Joyce traveled Monday through Friday to San Francisco and back for all the touristy stuff there: cable car riding, fisherman’s wharf eating and attractions, a bus trip into Sonoma and Napa Valleys for wine tasting, visiting and eating in Chinatown, and taking the ferry to and from Sausalito for lunch and to experience that unique town. February was alaso the month that the Florida Strawberry Festival began in Plan City and Joyce turned in two entries into the horticulture judging. Click here to find out how she did.
In January Jay and Joyce continued to work to get their homes sold. They also had the opportunity to spend a few days in Orlando with Karen and her family. They did some indoor cart racing which was really fun, went to a Pirates Dinner Theater, a lot of fun, and went twice to an Escape Room for two different scenarios. Everything was really fun, especially the experiences inside each Escape Room.