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Tennis Trip

My incredible family allowed me five days away to go on a tennis trip with 11 other ladies from my town.  It really was, so far in my life, the best trip I've ever had.  This does not take away from my special time in FL each year with my oldest, bestest girlfriends, or family trips or anything. . .it's just a trip I did by myself, doing things *I* wanted to do all day, everyday. . .tennis, beach, and going out.  Wow, what a time!!!  I didn't take a camera so everything I have here are pics from my phone. . .
 I couldn't help but to take this picture as we entered one of my favorite states last Wednesday!!!  My friend Jeanette picked me up at 6:20 a.m. and then we picked up two other ladies before 7 a.m. and then headed south. . .it was a 9-10 hour drive but with a van full of women it sure didn't seem that long :)  One of the ladies traveling with us I had never met -- that was fun!!!  She was the bestest, most fun person ever!  I wish I had some pictures. . .my friend Heidi took a great one of the four of us so I'll have to make sure to get it to remember our week by.

We ate here, in Birmingham:
What a cute place!  We don't have places like this in our small town so getting out and enjoying the small things is what it's all about :)
This is a picture of our unit. . .the four of us stayed in this condo at Tops'l Beach & Racquet Club and the other 8 had a beautiful house at the resort that they rented.  One night they hosted dinner for all 12 of us, plus the three pros that worked with us and their wives.  It was a delicious meal thanks to Tanya and her housemates.
This, perhaps, was my favorite view while there. . .I took this picture with my phone from our back porch.  To wake up and be just feet from a clay tennis court. . .things don't get much better then this!  Of course, this sight was a good one too. . .
The highlight of the trip for me was unexpected.  On Saturday afternoon, after lunch by the pool (I was *very* pampered on this trip, to say the least), one of my friends mentioned to me that it was my graduation.  Yes, it certainly was. . .in fact I had just been texting with a friend who was at graduation during our lunch.  I sent my graduating friend this picture, saying I'd rather be here then in an arena listening to speeches and such:
Anyway, my friend on the beach, who is a professor at the university I was graduating from, jumped up and announced that they were going to "graduate" me on the beach -- ha!  I'm soooo not "into" things like graduations but afterwards I was so glad they insisted.  It was very, very special to me to be recognized in this way.  Jeanette offered her hat as a "cap", Kelly a bathing suit strap as a "tassel", and we used a Wheat Thins box as a "diploma".  I had the music, the walk, and the announcement "for a Masters of Art in Instructional Leadership, Jennifer Bell"!
What a way to graduate.  I think I win the contest for "best graduation picture" this Spring 2011 season :)  Again, Friends, thank you so much for that.

Sunday morning we were up bright and early (5:30!!!) to make the trip back home. . .a couple of ladies wanted to be home for Mother's Day with their kiddos. . .I took this picture as we were on the road. . .such beauty (and my phone did a fairly good job of capturing it through the side window):
But then, truthfully, as we entered TN and the mountains came into view. . .
it's always good to be home. . .wherever "home" is.  I'm just lucky enough to live someplace that I *love*.

I came home to Mother's Day cards, flowers planted outside, mulch, and hanging baskets filled to overflowing.  (My in-laws had come down while I was gone to help out with shuttling the kids here-there-everywhere. . .)
I also came home to this (of course):

Thank you, All, who made this graduation trip possible for me. . .I will always remember it.


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