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Nov 18, 2013

The Road Trip of a Lifetime

Jen and I have been friends since we were in third grade. 

That's 30 years, we figured out last 

Over those 30 years we've been roommates, co-conspirators, road trip companions, trusted advisers, drinking buddies, counselors, shoulders to lean on and cry on and laugh on, intellectual equals and challengers, spiritual seekers, truth tellers, comedians, commiseraters in love and everything in between...she's family to me.  Without question, our bond is as strong as blood. 

So when she asked me to drive across the country with her to pick up her father's things (he passed away last year), I didn't hesitate in my response. Of course I would go with her. 

While my family is always my first priority, I married a supportive dependable man who adores our kids and is very skilled at spending time with them and finding fun things to occupy their time.  And I married a man who loves me and respects my relationships and my sense of obligation to have my friends' backs when they need me. 

Oh, how this man blesses me.  Seriously, he sometimes seems too good to be true. 

So it was armed with my complete trust and faith in Rich (after we were sure it would work logistically for him) that I planned my trip to Jen's place in South Carolina for the road trip of a lifetime.

I flew into Charlotte and then Jen and I (and an old photo of her dad) took off from her house in South Carolina and headed toward New Mexico. She had the trip all planned out and organized and she thought of absolutely everything. She had rented a minivan and she figured we'd split up each 25 hour trip into two days of driving with overnights at nice hotels in Arkansas each way, and she even arranged a three day layover in Albuquerque at the home of an old family friend who still lives there. 

Over 50 hours on the road, 3,200 miles driven, 7 states covered (not including my trip from Ohio to South Carolina), 1 train to Santa Fe for the day, 1 policeman who kindly told us our tire was nearly flat in the middle of Nowhere Texas, 1 hero in a tow truck who saved us at least a few hours of daylight, a couple bottles of wine, and many discoveries and adventures along the I said, the road trip of a lifetime.

We saw steep winding lush mountains, wide rivers that are so iconic they have their own songs, miles of spiny fluffy brown and white cotton fields, barren stretches of land scattered with skinny longhorns, one very "Big Texan", city lights sprawling out for miles, deserts and mesas sprouted with thorny bushes and tumbleweed, acres of wind farms with towering wind turbines that were industrial and graceful at the same time, pueblo homesteads dotting the New Mexico landscape, and everything in between. The beauty of all of that wide open space, flat horizons and endless blue skies that seemed to stretch to the farthest reaches of the earth was something to behold. 
Truly. I'll never forget the stark magnificence of it. 

Throw in all the quality time spent with my soul sister who I only see three times a year tops, and, well, it was a very special trip for me.  I feel blessed by Jen that she asked me to make the trip with her.  Honestly, there are few people in this life who I would want to make a 50-hour road trip with, and my girl Jen is at the top of that list.  I love you to disgusting degrees, sucka!




And I feel blessed by my Rich for not even blinking when I suggested he take care of the kids by himself for 9 days. He said they were very well behaved, thank goodness, because other than our dear friends the Smocks who helped out with dinners twice, and my mom and sister who called Rich several times to make sure the kids hadn't tied him up in a chair and taken over the household, he was completely on his own.  But you know, he never complained or sounded frustrated or exhausted when we spoke and actually enjoyed the time with the kids, I think.  Which is amazing to me because I so often get frustrated and exhausted just from a couple of tough days with them...sigh...I wish I could be more like him.

So today and everyday I thank God for these amazing, inspiring, important people he's put into my life and for the incredible opportunities he gives me to learn and to grow closer to those people and to him and to see more of this staggeringly beautiful place he's given us to call home.

Nov 1, 2013

Happy Halloween?

Well, it was for one of us. 
Lena has been pretty sick for six days now.  Our pediatrician diagnosed it yesterday as just a bad cold virus that needs to run its course. 
She's had on and off fevers, constant runny nose, coughing fits that have burst blood vessels in her eyes, a bloody nose last's the sickest my poor girl has ever been.  She's missed school all week, including her very first Halloween party.  I hated that for her so much.  She would have loved dressing up with all her friends. 
Boo on viruses.
Sam seems fine so far, knock wood. He's been a little whiny, but I'm attributing that to lack of sleep (Lena's coughing and me medicating her through the night have been waking him, I think). 
Anywho, here are our two cuties from a couple of weeks ago, the night we got their costumes.  So happy and healthy.  :)

Despite Lena's cough and low fever, we braved the rain and snuck into Sam's school parade yesterday (thanks for convincing me to do that, Lori).  I couldn't bare the thought of him seeing all the other parents there and looking around for me and my not being there.  So virus be damned.  We went anyway.  I think he was happy to see us!

That's his best pal, Avery, in front of him dressed as Dorothy.  She likes to pick Sam up and carry him around, which she can do easily since she's about a head and a half taller than my boy. :)

Sam was all geared up to trick or treat in our new neighborhood, despite the rain and wind.  The black knight fears nothing...

But he does get annoyed when his umbrella falls out of his hand.  Too funny....
He didn't stay out long, which is good because poor Rich had to take Sam out and Rich isn't feeling too great himself. 
I had to stay at home with Lena, who nearly missed the entire evening.  She passed out as soon as we left Sam's school parade and slept through me coating her up, getting her in and out of the car, carrying her through the rain to pick up Sam after school, through Rich coming home from work, dinner and Sam getting garbed in his Batman gear.
That girl was out cold.

We thought she might just sleep through the night, but she eventually woke and helped me pass out candy, looking pretty and pitiful at poor baby girl.   

She did have a for real Snow White moment while sitting on the porch, though, which cheered her up for a moment.  I ran inside to get her a muffin and, when I approached the door, I saw her still sitting there in her chair wrapped in her blanket...and a squirrel sitting on the porch about a foot away from Lena.  The squirrel was looking at her, she at the squirrel.  I had to laugh as I imagined her in a forest surrounded by woodland animals singing "With a smile and a song, life is just a bright sunny day, your cares fade away, and your heart is young..."
Lori's trick or treat was postponed to Saturday, so maybe we'll have a more inclusive, enjoyable family trick or treat night with them then, God willing!
Happy Halloween!