1) Waaaaaay back in December, my mom mentioned to me that Ave Maria University had decided to lower it's tuition by $5000 for the following year. This school had been on the very furthest edges of our periphery during Killian's senior year in high school, but, for various reasons was eliminated early on in the decision-making process. Given the fact that we were in the throes of a polar vortex and Killian wasn't having the most fun living at home and attending UIC, Kyle and I suggested to him that we visit Ave to "just check it out". (Yes, I was dying to get the heck out of Siberia)
2) Much to our surprise, Killian was on board with the idea and my dad generously paid for the airfare for Killian and myself (and lap-child, Will!) to visit at the end of January. Long story short, we were very impressed with the gorgeous, brand new campus and encouraged by the enthusiastic and well-educated faculty. Killian decided to apply.
3) Fast forward to this past May: Killian was accepted, all his credits transferred, and was awarded 2 scholarships! All-in-all, it was only $1500 more a year to live at and attend a better school! Winning!
4) And, so, we decided that most of us would make a week-long vacation out of the trip down to Florida to drop off Killian. (Joe and Maeve stayed with my parents, as their high schools had already begun the year. I hated that part.) You learn so much about your family on road trips. Things like, some kids are good at going long stretches without using a bathroom and some kids are good at sleeping for long stretches. Both of these qualities are seldom combined in the same child.
5) Killian's dorm suite is IN.SANE. 6 guys, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 huge study room. Pretty sure he's on vacation with a side of academia.
6) WE SWAM WITH WILD DOLPHINS! Apparently, a couple of the public beaches in Naples/Bonita Springs have regular visits from wild dolphins and manatees. We didn't quite understand how intensely cool this was until we were playing in the water with the kids and a pod of dolphins came to play with us! They got as close as 2-3 feet from us and splashed with their tails, swam around us, and played hide and seek! I am not ashamed to say that I had tears streaming down my face.
7) Our last night in Naples, we took our oldest baby out for a farewell dinner. As good as we feel about Killian being at Ave and as much as he seems to be loving it there, it still wasn't easy to hug and kiss him goodbye. Some of the younger siblings really struggled with their emotions. Huge change in their very small worlds.