Another Virginian Excursion, Summer 2017

I treasure my trips home to Virginia each year. They usually happen just once a year in the context of a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we travel by car making it in two days with stops along the way, often visiting with friends in North Carolina. This year the reason for the visit was twofold: to witness the wedding of my longtime best friend of nearly 15 years and to make up for lost time with family.

travel

Our trip up looked quite different from our past two road trips as a family of four. This time I flew alone with two toddlers. Before the trip, I made sure to consult with friends who had completed the same feat (thank you for all the advice!). I probably would not have decided to do it, had I not personally known anyone else who had made it possible. All in all, it wasn’t terrible and considering everything that could have happened, it went pretty smoothly!

first flight of the trip

I think the biggest rut in the trip was just the fact that I didn’t pay attention to where our layover was on the flight over – too far away, leading to a flight twice as long as necessary. Other than that, no one had a meltdown like I fully expected, no one cried during take off and landing, and there weren’t any terrible delays (we almost had a two hour delay, but it was a false alarm).

on the way back to Louisiana

There were a few minor mishaps on the way back like Rainer pooping in his diaper after we had already made a bathroom trip with only ten minutes before boarding (this happened twice, lol). And then our gate changed three times in ATL but that was about it. There was normal whining from the kids, and I was pretty squished by Rainer. And they screamed all the way home from the airport at the end, but by that time it was the very end of our trip and I was back with Ross, so it didn’t matter anymore. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. So yes, I flew up with the kids alone and then Ross followed two days later.

wedding weekend

Rehearsal night

Me and the bride (and lil baby bump)

The wedding weekend was absolutely beautiful and such a dream. Madison (the bride) and I have known each other since we were 11 and 12 when her family moved next door, and we’ve been best friends ever since. She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding, and it was such a gift to be the Matron of Honor in her’s.

2013

The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were wonderful. The groom’s family hosted on a family member’s gorgeous lakefront property. It was such a lovely night spending more time with Madison and Ben and meeting more of her close friends from over the years.

The wedding day was a beautiful whirlwind. It was my first time ever being in a bridal party, and it was surreal getting ready in the home that I used to spend so much time in as a child. Ross, my mother, and sisters were such champs taking care of the kids. I was separated from them nearly all day, and they were still adjusting being away from home after so many busy days.

Words can’t describe just how beautiful their wedding day was and how grateful and honored I am to have witnessed it. It brings me such joy to know that she is with such a wonderful man, and it was such a gift to see her so happy.



The reception was a blast, but also quite tricky. The kids (Lúthien, really) were kind of a mess by the end of the day. And poor Ross was trying to make it through the rest of the evening with a splitting headache. Nonetheless, we made the best of it. I was nervous all day about my toast, but Ross helped edit it so that I was able to truly convey what I meant to. And the kids ended up having a blast dancing.

 

I spy a nose picker

 

beach

Two days later Ross left us to return home only to leave the next day for a conference in Dallas. Meanwhile, my family and I spent three days at Virginia Beach.

my mommy and I and a goofy child

We all had a blast, most especially Rainer and Lúthien. Lúthien loved playing in the sand with my dad, while Rainer was pretty content sitting in his baby pool of ocean water. (Sidenote: I’ve been begging Ross to just take us on a day trip to the beach here, but now I realize how foolish that would be with just two adults. Hah hah! It was really nice having all the extra hands).

While we were in VA beach, we spent the nights visiting with my Naval brother who lives there, I was able to meet up with my sweet friend, Chiara and her adorable 6th month old son, and we brought the kids to the aquarium – which was a huge hit.

Luthien’s face is the best

 

weekend at home

The last few days of our visit were spent at home, with my brother, Joseph (who now lives in Raleigh) coming to reunite us all. We all relaxed together and managed to squeeze in an afternoon at the park, lunch out, a cook out at home, Mass together, and a family Cold Stone outing in just a couple days. I even managed to meet up with my dear friend, Corinne right before she left on a weekend trip.

first time all together since 2015

the godfathers 

It has been about two weeks since I’ve left now, and I miss my family terribly. In many ways, my 10 day visit was a little vacation for me. There was always someone ready and willing to watch the kids if I needed to meet up with a friend or do something simple like take a shower. I only “cooked” once the whole visit, but it was just to put a big salad together. My first day back at home was a bit of a shock, especially since Ross was home alone sick all weekend and not able to do much. But even aside from the help, I miss having the constant company of my sisters. When I left home for college, my youngest sister was only 10. Now both my sisters are in college and they feel more like my peers. And of course, I miss my parents and my brothers, as well.

Though I love Louisiana and I love our town, my husband’s hometown, I cannot help but feel like I leave of piece of my heart in Virginia or North Carolina every time I visit. Ross feels the same way about both places. But feeling that draw, and recognizing the unique qualities about these places only reminds me that our hearts were made for another truer, more beautiful home.

Anyway, the kids and I are thrilled to be back with Ross. Though we had a wonderful time in Virginia, we missed him greatly in the week we were apart.

Advertisements

The End and the Beginning of a Season

Last time I posted on here, I had written a reflection on the sweet moments of Advent and Christmas in our family. Unfortunately, the post vanished somehow from wordpress the next day, I don’t know if I accidentally deleted it or not, but at least I enjoyed writing it. I write this post just one day after the last day of the Christmas season, so I’m really not that late….right?

img_4547-1

The Advent and Christmas season for our family was just what we needed. I know that Ross and I gained even more from having our daughter begin to participate and understand more. It was such a gift observing her reaction to everything new – after all this truly did seem new to her, last year she was only 15 months. Her fascination over our gradually growing Nativity scene (I brought out more pieces each week) was delightful. She kept asking “Where Baby Jesus go?” (because the manger was empty), so when we were able to show her the life size Nativity scene after Christmas Mass, her face just lite up with such sweetness. Of course the Advent candles were a favorite, accompanied by “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” And her awe and glee over the Christmas tree and ornaments made me and my husband giddy ourselves.

img_4691

I hope that my memory of the night before Christmas and Christmas morning will stick with me for years to come. This was our first Christmas in our home, so everything seemed more special. Arranging the kids stockings around their respective seating area for the morning felt so sweet. And the next morning when we helped the kids open their gifts, my husband exclaimed, “this is better than I ever imagined.” All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas season for us, our first together as a family of four.

img_4728

I will never tire of the liturgical calendar and how it is set up. I am reminded of the verses in Ecclesiastes:

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. God has made everything appropriate to its time, but has put the timeless – into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. I recognized that there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do well during life. Moreover, that all can eat and drink and enjoy the good of all their toil—this is a gift of God. I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it…”

This is our Church calendar. We are not meant to be stagnant, our hearts can’t take that. We need the hope and reflection of Advent and the joy and of Christmas. Ordinary time gives us that breath of fresh air and change. Down here Carnival season has begun. And before we know it, we will soon be in the season of Lent.

I had never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions in the past. However, after a few more years as a wife and stay at home mom under my belt, I have begun to see just how meaningful that fresh start and outlook can be. This year I intend to strive for more order in my day to day life. More face time with my family. More gratitude for what I have. Simply put, I intend to make this year my year to be more present to each moment and each day.  Not to mention, my phlegmatic self needs the order to live well.

To my small, small amount of readers out there, I pray that you have a blessed beginning of the year. Peace be with you.

Dot