August 19, 2015

after his diploma... the party!

I had the theme of Cam's graduation party all set... I had been dreaming it up since the last graduation party we threw: LEGOs... Building on a Future.  He was excited about it until the first week in May, when he asked can we just not have a theme? 

Ahem. Really? 

Auntie Tina was just as stunned, and we set to work trying to come up with a no-theme-theme. We decided on school colors and a couple of sayings that fit Camden's adventurous soul...

We did not go hungry! Pulled pork, corn on the cob, a mashed potato bar, make-your-own sundaes & red velvet cupcakes!

We loved turning the house into party central... but what is a party without people?  We sure didn't have to find out! On the invitation I had set the hours as 3-8, thinking people would come and go and we'd have time to sit and enjoy our out of town family, too. Well, the first person showed up at 2:30, and the last family left just after 9pm. Cam had friends and teachers come- which thrilled me! And we had all of our family, even from Texas and Virginia... as well as countless friends, who we consider to be our family. 

It was a beautiful, beautiful day... 
we were so thankful for the love shown to our family by celebrating our son!


August 18, 2015

graduation day {part 3}

When it came time to finally go to graduation, I was ready. We snapped one more picture {which turned out to be my favorite} and headed up the highway to the arena. Since our girl graduated, the school had outgrown the gym needed a bigger venue. I was worried... but armed with four umbrellas, we stood outside in the long line and waited over an hour before the doors even opened. The wait actually flew by, surrounded by family and friends... and our plan to all sit together almost worked.

Before the ceremony, Cam texted me to say I'm in the fourth row now, same side. Still sit where you planned and I was glad to know where to be looking for him in the sea of 400.

When that music started and the graduates started their march into the arena, it was beautiful {except that they turned the lights down and I could hardly see!} After a moment of taking it all in, my focus became finding my son. With his decorated hat, that beautiful gold stole, and him telling me fourth row, I thought I'd see him easily... but I couldn't find him. Bob leaned over and said there he is, in the second row! But I knew he was in the fourth row! Well, it turns out that Bob was right, and my definition of fourth row and Cam's were totally different...
green arrow: where i thought he would be sitting; yellow numbers: how they actually count rows. huh. 
can you see him now?!
Once I could see him, my insides settled and I could enjoy the evening with joy once again. Though the buzz in the room was mostly about the misspelling of the name of the high school on the front of the program (oops!), the night was fantastic - the speeches were pretty short and really great, and this group of young adults was honored for all they have accomplished this far. It truly felt like family.

And then, my baby boy walked across that stage and received his diploma. {It makes me more emotional to type that now than when he actually did.}  I felt all of this joy bubbling up inside of me, and for a moment, I thought I was going to cry... but then it passed and I could feel the smile spread wide across my face.
these photos are not great... my mom sent me a great one, but i can't find it...
Leave it to you, my son...
to make the most of every opportunity, show off how hard you can work, and reach your goals, all the while smiling and marching to the beat of your own drum. {pun sort of intended, since that would make him smile all over again...}

August 14, 2015

friday letters...

Dear Friends,
It has been too long since I indulged in some Friday letters! Life has actually been happening even though I haven't been writing, which blows Suz' theory: it didn't really happen if it isn't on the blog. We have been busy keeping up with everyday life and getting ready for Cam to head off to college.

Dear Iowa Road Trip,
One week from today we'll be packing up the car. I hope we will be ready. And... I hope you don't mind that we are kind of flying by the set of our pants. EEK! I love to plan a trip, but this time... I feel like we are diving into the unknown. We have a {loose} plan, but will it play out? I don't know!!!! Can we make it out of Florida & Georgia in one day?! And even more than that, I'm not even sure if we have room for all of Cam's stuff. Or that the car-top-carrier will even work, despite a vague run-through in the driveway. The roof racks on the old car are the only thing I am missing since we had to trade it in for new...

Dear Eric,
Oh how I LOVED surprising you for your birthday!!!!  Not only did I manage to buy you the perfect gift, but we pulled off Christmas-in-July in the dining room! I will never forget you walking in {well before you were supposed to} and seeing that the cake was not ice cream... then taking in the rest of the table... and then the ceramic Christmas tree.  The laughter that rolled out of you made me so very happy!
some people would be horrified to have a christmas/birthday celebration, {um, me!!!} but eric loved it!

Dear Raglan Road,
I am so glad we found you. 
What a joy it is to be able to stop in {albeit 3 hours from home} and order up some fish & chips all around the table. Thank you for perfecting that gluten-free fry batter! Anytime we are up at Disney, we make a point to stop in, watch some Irish dancing, have a drink, and just enjoy the fun atmosphere! We loved sharing it with our Boston friends last month, and even came away with a new favorite beverage... the Graprefruit & T. Fantastic.  See you in September!

Dear Us,
Tomorrow we celebrate 23 years. Twenty-three. There is a lot of life in those years, twists & turns, better and worse.  I am thankful for every day. I am looking forward to our next chapter with joy and anticipation, knowing that as long as we are laughing, hand in hand, everything will be a-okay.


August 13, 2015

summer family fun... part two

We were driving home from work a few weeks ago, and Laura said I really want to go to the Miami Zoo... we've never been and people keep telling me how great their giraffe feeding station is! Well, she was right. We have lived less than two hours away for 19 years, and we had never been. This truth burst out at just the right time... because we had a second weekend of family fun to plan.

When we got home that day, I started researching, found a Groupon... and realized that our favorite food truck was going to be out the night before our planned zoo day. We had bounced around the idea of staying overnight, and that sealed the deal.  Last Saturday, we headed out across Alligator Alley for our second weekend of family fun...

We laughed as we splashed through the puddles and tried to decide if we were full or not. We watched a man offer to wrap his pythons around kids necks for $5, and Cam & I looked at each other with two thoughts: no way, and Laura wouldn't approve! And then we laughed again when Laura caught up to us and said you know, his handling of snakes is not very responsible! Oh how we love our zoo girl!

The zoo was HOT and beautiful. There was lots of shade and miles of walking.  We did enjoy it all, and it makes me sad we waited so long to see it! Most of my photos came out awful {I need to get back into picture-taking!} but these are my favorites...

Obviously, those first animals aren't even real! But then we finally made it to the giraffes... the reason she wanted to come. We each got a bowl full of kale and let the giraffes drool on our hands as we fed them. It was fun and fantastic, and it was exactly what we hoped it would be!

For that night between adventures, we stayed where there were warm chocolate chip cookies and a pull-out sofa. There was also a bar in the lobby, and as the four of us sat around a small table (one with a coca-cola) it just hit me hard that this is real life. The growing and the growing up. Conversation ranged from world issues to Crossy Road, and looking back, I realize those thirty minutes might be the most important of our whole weekend. We will always be four, even when life adds people to our numbers. It is a beautiful thing to know, and maybe just what family fun weekends are for.

August 12, 2015

summer family fun... part one

We did not plan a summer vacation this year.  There was so much going on, and we have that week-long trek to Iowa and back coming soon. Laura asked if she was going, and I had to tell her no. Honestly, there will not be room in the car. And... Cam deserves to have all attention on him, like she did when it was her turn. But the question made me think we need to have some family fun, all of us. So out came the calendars, and we found exactly two weekends with possibilities... which meant we would have family fun weekend #1, and family fun weekend #2.  Now to decide what to do...

Weekend #1 plans happened by chance! When I made a silly comment on a friend's facebook photo about loving to see her family of three all together, she texted and asked how would you like to see our faces in person?! They were flying from MA to Disney World and their trip just happened to be over one of our free weekends. We did not renew our passes this year, but we all love Downtown Disney, and it was decided we could make a fun weekend out of it.

We splurged on a fancy dinner, we danced in the sand, we wandered all together and in pairs... and we spend Sunday morning and lunch with my dear friends.

We also took a trip up, up, and almost away!

I have wanted to go up in this balloon since I first spotted it flying high over Downtown Disney. Time, and the cost of it, kept me away. But here is my new favorite Disney tip: If buy your balloon ticket before 10am, it is only $10, which is almost half off! It was worth it. There was only one other family up with us, so we could walk all around and see it all from every angle. We spotted Mt. Everest and Spaceship Earth, and got a bird's eye view of all of the construction being down to turn Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. I loved it.

Coming soon... Family Fun Weekend #2


August 05, 2015

the catch in my throat...

They are starting to sneak in... these feelings of I'm going to miss him and how am I going to get by without his daily quirkiness and laughter? I am so excited for him to go and be on his own and show the world what he has to offer, but oh my heart, he is my buddy, my sidekick... and life as I know it is about to change.  I am going to be okay, but I had to say it out loud. Three more weeks. Breathe.
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