Sunday, July 14, 2013

Here, There and Back Again

Hello, my little neglected blog. Not only have I been away from you, but I've been away from my reality for a while. Much like last summer, we did some epic traveling and time with family (pictures pasted below).

On June 15, we drove to Isle of Palms, SC, and spent a week with D's family in a lovely beach house, our fourth year to do so. The six cousins played together, the eight adults lounged together, the couples went on dates, and a massive jigsaw puzzle was completed. It was low-key, relaxing, and fun. On June 22, D drove home with his parents (he has to teach second summer session), and I drove 12 hours with the girls to the Outer Banks of NC, where my mother lives, right on the beach. We stayed for almost three weeks, which included a visit from a dear friend who lives in DC, the baby getting an ear infection and then a high-fever virus, Sylvia going to Bible school and swim lessons, and many brief but wonderful mornings and late afternoons on the beach, showing the girls one of my favorite places in the whole world.

What I'll Remember Most:

  • Amelia, who can now finally crawl, became a joyful, energetic baby. She is suddenly happy, adventuresome, and generally just thrilled to be alive. She was a delight to be around (when she wasn't sick) and happily played with family members or alone, busily exploring her new world.
  • After visiting friends in Charleston, we were caught in rush-hour traffic that was backed up due to flooded streets. It took us two hours for a trip that should have taken 20 minutes. In the end, we had to drive the Subaru through water so deep it went over the wheels, leaving several cars stranded beside us. It was scary, stressful, and very frustrating--especially with two cranky girls in the back seat (Amelia cried for over an hour of it).
  • Sylvia learned to put her face in the water, and immediately decided that it was *awesome.* 
  • My sweet friend and my mom stayed up with me past midnight one night as I cradled a vomiting, feverish child, talked to an on-call nurse, and went through my first real "do I need to go to the emergency room?" scare with Baby #2.
  • One of our first evenings in Kill Devil Hills, I took Sylvia out swimming around 6pm, since the water was relatively calm. For the first time in my 34 years of going to this beach, we saw two whales, breaching and frolicking about 100 yards out from us. 
  • Sylvia and Amelia both loved watching a lively performance of Puss in Boots at The Lost Colony (a great choice, since Sylvia and I had just read the book). Sylvia even got to talk to the princess! 
  • Sylvia climbed her first rock wall and also thought that was *awesome.*
  • I turned down a new client and quit a volunteer job I should never have taken on, all in the name of trying to clear my schedule and have less stress. Now that the guilt has passed, I feel so much better.
  • One of my godmothers (and her husband--not technically a godfather but has served the same role) came to visit, and we had wonderful, meaningful conversations. The girls adored them.
  • My last night there, I watched a thunderstorm roll in (they came and went our whole time there, but usually rained on the ocean and not the beach). The dark sky and sea were the same color until long, branching flashes of lightening lit up the swirling mountains of clouds. It was stunning.
  • Mom and I ate caramels, drank wine, and talked most evenings. It means so much that I'm now friends with my mom.
  • The squirming, hugging, wrestling and joyful reunion of the girls with their daddy, at 9:15pm after an 11-hour car trip, was almost worth spending 20 days away from him.
Also of note: D's grandmother passed away soon after we got to NC. She was two months shy of 99 and in rather good health until having a stroke. She died peacefully a week later with her children by her side. D drove with his siblings and their kids the 14 hours from Clemson to Indiana to attend the funeral, but the girls and I stayed where we were (at the insistence of everyone involved). I was sad to miss the service and the time with his father's family, but I was not sad to miss the cross-country driving. Two 11+-hour trips alone with the girls was enough for me. But still, it was strange to miss a major family event.

Now I'm home, though it doesn't feel like home. We've had massive rains here, flooding playgrounds, parks and houses. You have to wade up to your thighs to get to D's parents' dock, and many other docks are totally under water. Our vegetable garden is failing due to too much rain -- the complete reverse of our normal issues. The land is soggy, fecund, almost primal in its moist heat. And the raucous thunderstorms keep bringing deluges.

And now, some photos:

Amelia and me at Isle of Palms
D and his sister with the girl cousins

Sylvia and Dr. Michael having big talks

One of the many storms that brewed over the sea
Amelia celebrates July 4th