December 10, 2015

parties are one of my favorite things...

This has been a year of parties.
We had two Eagle Scout parties (plus one more I got to help out with for my friend's son!), and a graduation party... and as if that wasn't enough, once the boys took off for summer camp, I threw my own party, just for me. I had wanted to host it last year, but everyone was traveling. This year, it worked out perfectly, and some of my most favorite people spent Sunday afternoon at my house, laughing the day away.
 

There were ten of us... friends from all different parts of my life. Because I love to play (ahem, win) games, I wrote my own left-right game story about my friends, and how I had met them, what they have meant to me. I think I made it through without crying. The whole day felt like that moment when you are sitting around the table, surrounded by your people, getting ready to make that birthday wish... a moment which almost always brings me to tears. To love and be loved... it is such a precious gift.

And the favorite things? There were tubes of Burt's Bees, lotion & refreshing face cloths, a giant ziplock bag with a plastic box and multi-purpose tool, a set of brightly colored mini tongs, a wine stopper, hair clips, yankee candles, cupcakes, and the most clever? dinner in a bag! Everyone shared their story of why this was something that was their favorite, and that mostly led to more laughter.

Laughter? Yep.
One of my most favorite things.

I have another party to share with you... because I guess throwing four parties just wasn't enough fun!
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December 09, 2015

love and tears...

He'll be home in ten days. Ten. I can hardly wait.
Sometimes I let myself think about when I see him in the airport and how that first hug is going to feel... and then my eyes get weepy. I would kind of like to let the tears fall now and get them out of my system, so I don't cry all over Cam. And because sometimes, love just spills down your face at the most unexpected times...
This year Eric & I decided that we'd postpone our anniversary celebration a month, and go to Disney's Night of Joy in September. It had been at least ten years since we brought our youth group, and while we always planned on bringing our own kids, it never happened because once they were old enough, they were busy with marching band. It was really supposed to be a trip for two, but after our long road trip with Camden, Eric thought it might be nice to ask Laura if she wanted to tag along with us. It didn't take her a minute to say, yes!

We drove up Thursday night, and spent a little time at Disney Springs to kick off our adventure. Laura loves to pin trade! The next morning we started out with breakfast at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. After filling my plate, I noticed that Laura was on her phone... snap-chatting with Cam. She was laughing because he called us Meanies, and the sadness soaked into my soul. I texted him that I was missing him and that I owed him a trip to Night of Joy. When he texted back But I SO want to be there! I lost it. Big sloppy tears, and the sobbing ugly cry, right over my Mickey waffles. My chest hurt, and so did my heart.
I had left my son at college, a million states away, without tears. I had made it two and half weeks without breaking down, and there I was, in the happiest place on earth, and I could barely breathe from missing him. I would have done anything for him to be with us.  The only thing that saved me was knowing he was so happy at school.

Somehow I pulled myself together, and enjoyed the rest of our day. It was the first time I had ever seen the fall decorations up in the Magic Kingdom, and we made it a priority to attend the Flag Retreat that happens on Main Street every day. I really wanted to stay until the very last minute of the night, and see the Goodnight Kiss, but after singing and dancing along with Josh Wilson, Francesca Battistelli, Colton Dixon, and Rend Collective we were beat and ready to head for the hotel.
I love Night of Joy, and I loved this little trip... even with the tears.
Worshiping in the Magic Kingdom is beautiful, and it is something I will always hold close to my heart. We had a great time with Laura, and she had a great time wandering on her own from time to time. Disney without kids is great, but I probably won't ever try it again with only one kid.
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December 02, 2015

lifted up & overcome...

It has been two months since my surgery.
It seems like it was forever ago, which can only mean that I am feeling great!  I am so very thankful for that... since the whole thing was so much more than I had bargained for. Even though it was scheduled outpatient, I thought we might end up staying over night... but not three nights.

I have been dealing with this urology issue for years... seven? Probably longer. It hurts to pee, and then there were times when I just couldn't. It is not fun to talk about or think about, but there it is. No one really knows why I have had all of this scar tissue build up, only that it is definitely a problem, and definitely on the unique-ish side. It got to a point where I was going every 3-4 months to have everything stretched out, and that was okay. Even though it was considered surgery, and I was under anesthesia, it was quick and easy. But one day my doctor told me that she had been to a conference, and and thought of me as she was listening to one doctor's lecture. He might be able to help me with a forever-fix. Procrastinator that I am, I waited six months to call him. I finally met him this spring, and we decided to start the journey. He is only one of ten doctors that perform this surgery, and even though I may have grumbled almost every time we trekked across Alligator Alley, I was also counting my blessings that he was only a two hour drive away.

We arrived at the hospital, and while we were waiting to be checked in, Eric posted something to Facebook. I inwardly groaned, as I had only told a few people I was even going to the hospital, but I let it go. I had other things to think about.

I don't even remember being in the recovery room. The first thing I remember was voices talking, while I was being rolled to a room in the hospital, and the overwhelming feeling of nausea. I couldn't even look around the room and see that my husband had a sofa bed and a chair until sometime the next day, I was just thankful he was there by my side.


As for Facebook, I was also thankful. I think it kept Eric going... communicating with friends, knowing we were being prayed for. I would hear his phone beep, and he would update me on the newest message. He was also texting with several people, and it all just made us feel loved, and lifted up. And Kim, your long-distance nursing was a priceless gift! When I was finally able to read some, and respond, on Sunday, I was overwhelmed. Thank you, dear friends, for saying a prayer, for wishing us well, for walking along beside us.

And Mom, I am not sure you can imagine what it meant to me that you came across the state to see me. Maybe my tears said it all, but you were what I needed. You are one of the two people in my life that help me breathe when I feel like I can't. I love you.

Three nights and four days in the hospital is no fun... but the blessings, and the healing, have overcome.
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December 01, 2015

we wait...



I loved seeing photos of so many college kids home for Thanksgiving, and while it did make me a little envious, I was okay. Our Thanksgiving was lovely, from watching the parade {and one of our local marching bands!} to gathering around my Mom's table for dinner. But maybe the best part was... using Skype for the very first time.

The last time I had ever used any video communication was 2002. Eric was deployed to Guantanamo Bay and at one of our once-a-month family picnics on the Coast Guard base, we had chance to use the video phone. Laura, Cam, and I crowded around the small screen and thought it was amazing to be able to SEE Eric's face and for him to see us. It made me cry both happy and sad tears.
way back in the olden days...
Thursday, after a few technological hurdles, my son's face appeared on my phone screen along with all of the fun and animation that is totally Camden. I could feel my smile grow wide. He was as silly as ever, and it just made my heart happy to know that while he has grown so much in the last few months, he is still the Camden that makes me laugh. Cam got passed all around the house, visiting with his grandparents, Laura, and Eric. I waited patiently, enjoying the joy I could hear in all the voices. This whole family has missed their boy.

I didn't tear up until my turn came around again... and even then, I blinked the feeling of those tears away. He will be home in 18 days, and if I know December, those days will fly.


I told Laura that eventually I will have to stop with the Advent calendars... but I haven't decided when. Not this year. Last week I send Camden his first 18 days, wrapped in red & white tissue paper. I told him he'll have to come home if he wants the rest! I love this celebration of Advent... the getting ready, the anticipation, the counting of days. I feel my heart filling up with more and more love... while we wait.

Hello December. We are ready for your gifts.
Twinkly lights, the hustle & bustle, laughter, reunions, and love.
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