Sunday, April 29, 2012

OMG! Anabel's a Teenager!

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" - Clarence Oddbody, AS2

Thirteen years ago, Greg and I were blessed with our miracle baby.  I know every baby is a miracle, but after ten years of marriage, five years of infertility, and two heartbreaking miscarriages OUR miracle baby finally arrived.  Anabel healed our pain and led the way for two more miracles: her little brother and sister.  Often, I think how different our lives would be without her… the empty hole her absence would leave.  Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Anabel would have left quite a hole, altering our entire lives, had she not been born.  Our guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody (Angel Second Class), would show us a life with no kids, no snuggles and giggles, no small hands slipping into ours, definitely no sabbatical, and possibly, no marriage because I would have turned squirrelly and driven Greg nuts.  We may have had more money, but no one to share it with.

Thankfully, Anabel was born, and we have three beautiful, healthy children.  Our pockets are empty of cash, but overflowing with love and Zuzu's petals.

To celebrate our good fortune and Anabel's life, we spent a family day in Beaufort.  

After opening seven of her thirteen presents (each item from Bath and Body Works counted as a separate gift...even the two lip glosses), we headed to the Beaufort Inn for their very Southern Sunday brunch.   The spread included a grits bar, andouille sausage balls, fresh berry parfaits, shrimp cocktails, artichoke dip casserole with homemade chips, lox and cream cheese pops, caesar salad and beef tenderloin.  Anabel splurged on the the cooked to order eggs benedict while Wyatt and Emma dug their way through a mountain of cinnamon and honey French toast.  Greg and I tried a little of everything, but could have contented ourselves with the basket of popovers and strawberry butter alone.

One Word: Popovers

Did I mention the dessert bar yet?  Holy smokes!  Everyone sampled dark chocolate creme brûlée, banana pudding mousse, angel cake, and chocolate ganache pops. (Part of my recovery program is admitting to all of this.)  We waddled out through the back garden enjoying the Confederate jasmine and admiring the gorgeous day.

Our next stop was a surprise...

 Keeping a secret from Anabel is difficult.  She begs and pleads for you to tell her something and if you don't she drives you crazy asking questions and trying to guess.  Somehow, we managed to keep quiet this time until we turned on the road to Camelot Farms and she immediately shouted, "We're going horseback riding!"  She was excited and nervous.  She hadn't been on a horse since a brief scare last year during a riding lesson.  While being our most cautious child, Anabel is also our most accident prone.  With one broken arm and leg and emergency surgery in her past, I can't blame her for being a little hesitant to jump into dangerous situations.   However, I think there's an old saying about getting back on the horse so we poured out of the family truckster ready to climb on.

Since we were the only ones on the farm, our guide, Ned, let us help prep the horses for our marsh trail ride.  As he brought each horse up, we brushed, sprayed and made new animal friends.  I was very happy with the "getting to know you" period before the ride because it was Wyatt and Emma's first ride and I hadn't been on a horse in twenty years.  By the time the horses were saddled and ready, our nerves had settled and we were ready, too.

While brushing and petting, Anabel became attached to a horse named Shoes, but when Ned started assigning mounts he gave her the friskiest horse.  I was so proud of her for speaking up and asking if she could ride the horse she liked.  Sometimes it's hard to admit your kids are growing up, but speaking up for yourself is a difficult lesson to learn so I was happy to see this evidence of our daughter's maturity.

The trail ride was fantastic.  We went all over their farm's acreage at the end of St. Helena Island riding under mossy live oaks, near farmland and through pinewood forests.  After an hour on the trail, we hated to say goodbye, but we had gained more to celebrate: Anabel overcame her yearlong fear of riding again, and Wyatt and Emma found a new love.

We ended her birthday celebration with Anabel's all time favorite meal (yes, we were hungry, again.)  Crab legs, baked potatoes and iceberg wedges followed by strawberry cake were the perfect grand finale to a grand day.

Happy 13th Birthday, Anabel!  We love you!

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