Saturday, May 25, 2024

Late Night Ramblings

 This morning Odin didn't want to get up. And to be honest, neither did I. A few more hours of sleep would have been amazing, but here I am, at 11pm, finishing up a Lego set that has been half finished on the table for weeks. I've been working hard to minimize the clutter around the house - which is easier said than done. 

We are the kind of family that chooses quality time together over a perfectly kept house. Even if we had better storage solutions, I can certainly say that we'd still have last week's art projects on the door, odds and ends on the kitchen table, and a pile of laundry to fold on the couch. It's just part of the dynamic of our lives. It's lived in, but also always ready with a pot of warm water and a cup of tea. There are always multiple pairs of boots by the door. It's not perfect, and yet, everyone survives in this 1600 sq feet of home.

Getting the Lego set finished that the Impossible Girl started will at least finish one thing in the never ending projects around here. 

And that's okay.

Staying up beyond my family's bedtime is definately a bit of 'revenge insomnia'. (Revenge insomnia is when you stay up late to take revenge on a day when you had little control over how you spent your time due to outside circumstances.) And with all the transitions of the last month, there is a lot to take revenege on.

The Impossible Girl started on her IEP with the local public school. So now she misses recess with her friends and bounces between the private school we love and the public school that has the special ed resources. It's a lot of milage on everyone and though she puts on a smile and a brave face, she misses the woods and her friends at school.  School is almost over this year, My Sailor wants to pull her out of the IEP (since we've been seeing signs of stress (headaches, night time accidents, bad dreams) but we're trying to give it some time and let her get caught up - with a plan for next year that includes some extra tutoring outside the schools instead. 

Which brings to mind - do dyslexic folks really ever 'catch up'? Or do we just develop work arounds that become part of our daily lives? With technology taking over the bulk of work and communications these days, there are tools are our finger tips to make life easier, so I'm certain she'll have a better time at it outside of the academic world. Just gotta get through school first. 

So often it feels strange, this parenting journey.  For example, I took her to a movie in the theater this weekend (IF - a fun flick). We sat down in the theater and pulled up throw blankets we brought from home. She brought a stuffed animal buddy with her. She reminded me to get her headphones out of the car, so we brought those. When the lights went down, she asked for them to put them on. Other folks at the theater looked at us. But I love that she didn't mind one bit. She's a different kid. People may notice. And that's okay too. I'm doing my best to set the example of, "use the tools you need , and everyone else who seems to care about it can kick rocks." And ya know what? I think it's working. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A Caregiver's Journal


I have a pretty good life. 

I have a roof over my head and I know where my next meal is coming from. 

My daughter is an awesome little person that I enjoy, and glancing over at my husband of over a decade still gives me butterflies. No matter all the physical changes, age, deployments, and crazy schedules, My Sailor is an awesome partner. 

 I have a small circle of friends that at times I wish was larger - but I have people I can call when the world comes crashing down. 

I have a job I love, and the ability to pursue things deepen my spirit and challenge me to make me better. 

And maybe the sunshine is bringing out some gratitude. 

I do struggle with how much to share, but I've always been honest, so I'm going to continue to shoot from the hip. 

This year, we're able to get The Impossible Girl the supports to help her in school and life in general. I understand the struggle of so many parents - and I can say that when things are the most challenging, I tend to run silent (as I suspect many parents managing the same things do). We don't want to be viewed as 'whinning' or 'permissive'. We want to be seen as doing the best we can to teach our kids to cope in a world that isn't designed for them. 

Last week in a counseling session, my therapists and I discussed my adoption and I mentioned "I won the parent lottery." No parent is perfect, but I feel like mine did a good job of setting a good example and teaching me to see things and think critically. Some things they did with us I repeat, and some things I adapt and change. As the conversation continued during that session, it inevitably turned into parenting. Parenting takes up 95% of my mental space basically - so yeah, I'm gonna talk about it.

As I explained the things I learned from the years of  Magnolia Forest Preschool and such, my therapist almost made me cry. She said, "It sounds like your daughter won the parent lottery."

It shocked me to my core when she said that.

I was not one of those kids who aspired to "having 2.5 kids and a white picket fence". In fact, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I was younger, I knew I'd take the road less traveled. I said things like artist, singer, songwriter, poet, actor, etc. Mom and wife were things on the side of all of that - not really the focus. Not the 'dream' of my childhood.

Now, my days start the night before.

When I write out my daughter's 'plan' for the next day on a white board and go over it with her.

Then we set the alarm (it's earlier during the weekends so she can get some time with me before I head off to work on Saturday mornings).

The next day, it's into the morning and school routine - which doesn't include screens. We fight morning/go to school anxiety with music and connection and movement. 

Once at school, I read with her for a few minutes in the classroom so she will be able to start the day. Big hugs and I'm off to work.

I work with my clients (and insert a workout for myself along the way) and I'm back at pick up time. Depending on the day, evening may include a trip to the library before dinner and unwinding before bath and bed. 

Morning routine takes about an hour and a half. Evening routine takes about 1.5-2 hours. 

I've learned to pick my battles and patience is the heart of empathy. I've learned just how much tone matters when speaking. I've learned to slow down - a hike is only as good as the things you discover along the way. I've learned that flexibility is harder for some than others. I've learned that compassion is never inappropriate. I've learned that feeling understood allows us to be our authentic selves. I've learned to talk less. 

I am slowly learning how to not get lost in the process. 

I think this is something most caregivers can relate to. Where are 'you' in the 'we's? 

Since becoming a military spouse, I gave up acting/singing publicly. I did Into the Woods at a local theater when I moved up to Washington - and it was awesome - but My Sailor I was also asked to stop doing theater as it was taking too much time away from the short hours together.

If anyone else had asked for any other reason, I would have told them where they could shove it. But the request was sincere, and he rarely asks anything of me. So it was a decision I made to put it on hold - for now. For now has been about 10 years. 

 I figured it would be something I pick back up when he deployed again, but then I had a kiddo who relies on me as her anchor more than most. Babysitters that work are few and far between - and expensive. 

Rehearsals are typically in the evenings and on weekends. The Impossible Girl doesn't have the bandwidth for much after coping with school all day, so involving her in another activity or finding a regular playdate is overwhelming. My Sailor is a great partner, but his schedule is deeply unpredictable - most days I don't know what time he's going into work until the day before, and I don't know when he's getting home.  (You know, needs of the Navy and all.)

 The fact is doing a show is out of the question - for the forseeable future. 

So I switched from participant to patron (when I can). I look forward to every show. For my birthday this year, I signed up for a National Theater At Home subscription. I've enjoyed sneaking a play or 2 in a month that way.

Theater and performing was such a huge part of my life. What now? I threw myself into parenting and being a military spouse and support to my clients. But where did I go?

Where was the 'me' in all of this? 

It's taken years but finding my way back to things that light the creative fires is an inspiring process. Getting lost in the day to day constant need can be is overwhelming. 

I'm also finding new things as the circumstances of my life have changed so much. Connecting with nature, creating space, accepting life is messy, and finding some thrill in the mess is making this back end of life its own brand of awesome as well. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Epic Winter Road Trip - Wild Spaces and Family Faces

(DISCLAIMER: I post NO ads through sponsorship. This blog is a labor of love - that is not subsidized by sponsorship at this point in time.)

The night we spent at Great Wolf Lodge was fantastic. It's always refreshing to be around folks where you pick up right where you left off - despite the years passing.

This time, we headed further south to spend 2 nights with my family in Southern California. We kept the evening simple with a sushi dinner to catch up with my mom and brother. After a good night's rest, we were ready for a day outside.

As a special treat, my mother offered to take us to the San Deigo Safari Park and take us on a jeep safari through the open savanna there. The Savanna is truly what makes this place stand out among zoos. (Well, that and a robust rhino and condor breeding program.) 

 I grew up in Escondido, so it'll always be the Wild Animal Park to me, but I loved seeing all of the improvements and expansion this park has made since my childhood.

It's very different than a typical zoo - mainly because of its wide open savanna and large open air exhibits. There is no traffic noise these animals have to contend with, and the staff is top notch as well.  The savanna includes hoof stock and herbivores from around the world. Their have had a special emphasis on breeding programs have aided in keeping condors, rhinos and other species on the map. All of that, and it offers all of the things typical zoos do as well. While zoos are a problematic attraction in the world, people tend to not care about things they don't experience - including animals. For example, carved ivory is beautiful - but so are rhinos and elephants. But if you've never really seen an elephant or rhino up close - but you've seen a lot of beautifully carved ivory - are you really going to care much about the plight of those creatures? For most, the answer is saddly "No". Just as we often don't think about where our food comes from. (This is NOT be advocating. Just bringing awareness.) 

  Anyway - I digress.

The weather cooperated to a lovely 70 degrees and sunny. It was a great way to get some energy out and go see some new creatures we don't get to see in the Pacific Northwest.

To get an idea of what a trip through the savanna might look like, check out this live cam (and other live cams). 

In my tween years, I spent a lot of time at this park. I even painted faces as a voluenteer during their winter holiday Festival of Lights. This trip to the Safari Park was really special though. I'd never been out in the savanna. Seeing the animals up close and free ranging was a magical experience. The jeeps weren't too loud, which made The Impossible Girl very comfortable - and we got her a buddy from the gift shop that she could hang on to. (Never underestimate the power of a stuffed animal.) 
 I left my phone and my camera off to enjoy the experience first hand, but luckily My Sailor captured lots of photos from the day.

We hiked for miles and spent lots of time learning about the natural world and why protecting it is so important. 

The Australia exhibit was fantastic, and included a platypus area! It was dark, so we didn't grab any pictures in there, BUT I'm so glad that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park follows along with KultureCity

It truly took the 'guess work' out of taking someone with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) to a place like this. 

They offer packs of tools at the Ranger Station (including lap pads, fidgets, headphones, etc.). While we brought our own, they have clearly posted signs that indicate that indicate when noisy areas are coming up (and headphones might be helpful), or where quiet areas are, etc.
 For those of us helping someone with SPD, we know what these signs look like, so we don't get taken by surprise and can gear up appropriately to help our SPD kid enjoy the experience. I really hope this catches on. It will help SPD folks manage as adults as well - if they have a little warning, they can prepare themselves for what's coming. 

A big request on the way out was that we find the cheetah, so we hiked around the park and tracked down the cheetah exhibit. And it certainly showed us what cats do most of the day. Sleep! 

It was a long day on our feet, so we grabbed an early dinner at a local seafood place in Escondido and headed home for a bit of a movie and some more rest. Tomorrow was the BIG day! 

Epic Winter Road Trip - Christmas Eve on the Disney Wonder

(While it's closer to Winter 2023 than Christmas 2022, I'm loving reliving this adventure, so I'm going to get this posted so I can catch up on the rest of life. I've missed writing and missed the blog - and yes, I've missed my readers, ye brave, ye few.)

On land, I am rarely awake with the sun (unless I have to be). For some reason, on a Disney Cruise, I am awake with the sun. I never want to miss pulling into a port - which is a remarkable feat of human coordination to complete successfully day after day. But there is something inherentlyt magical about the sunrise from the deck of a ship. So on Christmas Eve, I got up early to get coffee from the Cove Cafe (all coffee is included in Disney Cruise line fair except for the goodies at Cove Cafe - which are priced on par with a local Starbucks and offers a frequent buyers card). The characters they put on our lattes are always a welcome touch. 

We looked on the schedule and found that Daisy, The Impossible Girl's favorite character, was greeting that morning, so we stopped to say hi to her on our way off the ship. 

What you may not know, is this type of interaction is a really big deal for her. She almost got out of line several times and it took other kids reassuring her to get her to stay. Her knees were shaking and she wasn't sure about meeting her hero. Daisy seemed to know just how to handle it, helping keep the interaction just the right length and letting us get some great photos to remember her by. A year later, she remembers meeting Daisy and said it was a scary experience at first, but she's proud she did it anyway.

Then our Mexican adventure began! 

A bus took us near downtown and we strolled through a pavillon where a few merchants were offering wares. The Impossible Girl was struggling a bit with the change of scenery, but a yoyo at a local shop caught her eye, and that became her momento from Ensenada. We strolled down the port as she worked to master her yo-yo skills. 
We were able to walk through the waterfront district nearly completely undisturbed - aside from a few overzealous coffee shop and bar barkers. Christmas Eve is a time when many families in Mexico celebrate at home, so much of the hustle and bustle of shop keepers was quiet. The day couldn't have been more beautiful.
Art abounds on this little stroll along the port and I found the statues truly fascinating. All in all the walk was about a mile on way. While I was disappointed I wasn't able to find an open place for a legendary fish taco, we were all ready to head back to the ship for a late lunch.

I held out hope that they would do a Mexican themed meal, but alas I was a little disappointed. Not in the food. Cabanas, the on board buffet is always delicious. It would have been a really nice touch though! While the kiddo took some time to unwind in the room after lunch, I spent a little down time on the verandah enjoying my score from a local merchant. (It's been almost a year and it's still a favorite blanket in our household.)
Have I mentioned how awesome the kids clubs are on Disney ships? I know I probably sound like a paid advertisement, but I'm not. I'm just a fan of a vacation where I can actually spend some time with My Sailor. It's a rare currency in our world - and certainly makes these cruises worth every penny. 

After lunch on board and some downtime in the room, The Impossible Girl went to the Oceaneer's Club (she loves the Frozen area, complete with a modest Oaken in a steamy sauna) and My Sailor and I got to enjoy some downtime together.

We got a drink at the New Orlean's themed bar beside Tiana's Place (a New Orlean's themed dining room), played a round or two of Bingo (the only gambling on Disney cruise ships - we didn't win, but it is always a fun time), and walked a few laps on the deck enjoying some time to reconnect (and maybe be a little but Goofy).

We picked up The Impossible Girl in time for dinner at Triton's. While it wasn't really a special holiday menu, any menu is special when it's at Triton's. This dining room is more elegant than the other 2 on board (Tiana's Place and Animator's Palace). I am chagrined to admit that on our first sailing on the Wonder, we had 3 meals in this room and I never noticed this giant mosaic. 

We did the early dining, so our dinner was followed by a show. Tonight was the Golden Mickeys - a fun little show that is set up like an Oscar style award show gone-awry, including a variety of Disney acts looking to win the Golden Mickey (instead of an Oscar). It's always a fun show, and we all enjoyed it. 
Since tonight was Christmas eve, it only made sense to stay up a little late and let Mrs. Clause pop in for a reading of The Night Before Christmas. On our 2019 cruise over the same dates, Mrs. Clause was in front of the Christmas tree, but this year they opted to use a D Lounge (the ship's small stage) instead. While it was slightly less magical, the kids had a great time (especially when Mickey and Friends came out after the show). 

On our way back to our cabin, the crew was handing out milk and cookies for Santa, so we could take them back to our room. It was a fun gesture that really made me smile. Our shipmates had gifted us a small mug with a slot for a cookie in it, so we used that to make sure Santa had an appropriate place to enjoy his goodie. 

And our cabin host didn't slack on the holiday cheer either.

 Now, our kiddo has never really been about the gifts at Christmas. If you've followed previous blogs (ye brave, ye few), she's more about the fun of it. I feel like Santa could have missed us all together and she still would have had a great time. Now that Santa was coming tonight, who knew what tomorrow would bring? 

Stay Tuned for Christmas Day! 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Epic Winter Road Trip - Wonder and EMBARKATION!

Back to The Mickey Boat for Christmas! (Our Shirts)

 Now we get down to the main event! This cruise was the reason we made the pilgrimage to San Diego.

 After our unexpectedly challenging Disney World trip in the Spring of 2022, we needed something more on the relaxing side to allow everyone to enjoy themselves. While a road trip is a fabulous adventure - nothing fits the bill quite like a Disney Cruise. The Impossible Girl has been begging to go back to 'The Mickey Boat' since we got off our first cruise in 2019. 
About to get on her first Disney Cruise, December of 2019

First Mickey Bar ever - on the first night of the cruise in 2019

Back in December of 2019, it seemed like an incredibly extravagant way to get away for Christmas. It was the gift that year. My Sailor got a bonus and leave which just happened to match up to a military discount on a Disney Cruise. We booked the whole thing a whopping 3 weeks out, and it turned out to be an amazing investment in our future.

 We had no idea how much we would rely on those memories to get us through the subsequent deployment and COVID lock downs that came unbidden in March of 2020. (Check out this blog  when the World Paused and we were called on to Seperate to Survive

 Talking about memories from The Mickey Boat kept us 'afloat' while we were struggling through school, park, store, and life shut downs. Every single day, the memory of our time on the cruise came back to shine a light in a terrifying time. 

When the stars aligned AGAIN (no bonus this time, but a significantly less expensive cruise that we could drive to in 20 hours) after all the stresses of reintegration we jumped at the chance.  This road trip took The Impossible Girl's entire winter break - but that also happens to be a time of year when My Sailor can get holiday Stand Down. While it's an expensive time to travel, making memories together means more than saving the money. 

After all, if Covid and military life have taught us anything it's "Seize the moment. Who knows what tomorrow may bring."

My brother graciously shuttled us to the port and said goodbye as we got on the Disney Wonder. 

We couldn't have asked for a smoother embarkation process or better weather to start this epic adventure. We didn't wait around in the San Diego terminal at all. We walked right through security, snapped a family photo, and were on board in no time. 

Our first stop was Cabana's, the buffet on the Disney Wonder. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we got a table outside to enjoy some rays and some lunch.

The Impossible Girl and My Sailor helped guard against the ever-watchful sea gulls while I grabbed my grub. 

Needless to say, lunch was fabulous. Even better than last time.
After lunch, My Sailor went to ask Guest Services about a few things while The Impossible Girl and I explored all over the ship.

Now, if you've never cruised this may be news to you. Rooms aren't quite ready when you hop on board, unless you enjoy boarding late. Like a floating hotel, it can take some time to turn over the rooms from the previous guests. We got on board at around 11:30am, and the rooms wouldn't be ready until closer to 3pm. Usually the pool is open along with the bars, spa, and at least one sit down eatery.

 One of the things we love about the Disney Wonder is that she is a small ship. While mega ships are basically floating cities (with over 7000 people on board), the Wonder is more like a small towns (max out at about 2700 if it were completely staffed and had every bed full). You can actually get to know crew members during some of the longer cruises, and it's a much more relaxed vibe than the megaships sailing the seas these days. 

That also means less shopping, activities, movies, ect, but we manage to have a great time and fill up our time despite the smaller size. Disney never disappoints.

We carried on things we'd need much like on an airplane, and schelped our backpacks around the ship for a few hours as we explored.
Watching planes take off from the airport just down the street - How cool is the Port of San Diego?! 

We went to ALL of the open houses of EVERY KIDS CLUB ON BOARD! It's one of the coolest things about embarkation day. Each Kids Club is in Open House mode - so anyone on board can come in and play. During normal operation, the kids clubs only allow in the counselors and the kids. 

The Oceaneer's Club has a couple fabulous themed play areas. The highlight is always the Slinky Dog Slide in an area themed like Andy's Bedroom. Typically, the Oceaneer's Club and the Oceaneer's Lab are for kids 3-10.

We also explored Edge. It's the kids club for ages 11-14. I didn't take pictures here, but we did some fun coloring and crafts there. 
Then we moved into the teenage club (14-17) - Vibe.

This might just prove what 'big kids' we are, but I feel like all of us could have hung out here for hours and hours... 

Finally our room was ready and we got to drop off our backpacks and check it out! 

Obligatory photo from the verandah, though still at port.

Now, let's talk about the Muster drill. For those new to cruising - before you leave your home port, each cruise line HAS TO have a muster drill, where they go over all of the emergency procedures on the ship, if there is ever a problem on board that would require evacuation. In our experience on Disney, this is accomplished by watching a short safety video on each room's TV, and getting to an assigned 'muster point', meeting the crew members that would be in charge of safely getting you to a lifeboat. It's a bit of a tense moment because it's the last bit of 'business' that needs to happen before the party of setting off on the high seas starts. It always includes blowing the ship's emergency whistle (in Disney's case, that means 3 loud blasts - and I mean LOUD.) It's a plain loud blast. Not the typical whimsical 'When you Wish Upon a Star' blast that the Wonder usually has. (Here's a fun little horn battle: Disney Wonder VS Royal Carribean, so you get the gist.)  While anxious souls may find comfort in all of the safety schpeel, it can also, obviously, increase anxiety as well.

Before our cruise, we learned that Disney will allow Guests who CAN'T sit through the Muster drill to check in with the crew member at their appointed station, and then go back to their room. Since The Impossible Girl sat through one a couple years ago (without the aid of headphones because back in 2019 - we didn't know what we know now) we were going to aim to sit through this one if we could. The ship gets pretty busy with EVERY guest trying to coral their families and check in at the right place. Another thing about the muster drill is that NO ONE CAN LEAVE until EVERYONE who was supposed to report to a station has indeed reported. Yes, they keep track. Yes, they know who's missing.  And Yes, they WILL track them down. While the odds of something going wrong on a cruise ship that would require evacuation are VERY low, it's still a good thing to participate in every time - and it's also a MANDATORY thing to participate in.

So the photo above was taken by My Sailor as we waited for the last folks to show up. What usually takes 5-10 minutes took over 30 (because someone didn't show up and it took FOREVER to track them down...). There is NO entertainment during this time. The pool and the free ice cream is even closed, so it makes NO sense to stay on deck and NOT participate. 

This was where we were on the edge of panic, but we made it through. She was begging to go back to the room and watch cartoons.

I really wanted to see the Sail Away party on Deck. I missed it in 2019 due to a storm making it impossible to dance outside (and the atrium, where they do it in the event of rain, was PACKED). While I was pushing, My Sailor knew there was a better way to handle it.

He'd stay in the room and watch cartoons with The Impossible Girl so she could unwind, and I'd go watch the Sail Away party solo. He recognized her overstimulation when I wasn't ready to, and showed the treasure of a Dad that he is. 

Moments like these are so good for them. Reintegration is one of the hardest parts of military life. Especially for kids. Daddy's and daughters have bridges to build any way they can in a typical family. Dad being away for months at a time out of contact doesn't help. Time for the two of them - especially when he 'gets' her - is deeply healing for both.

Off I went to the Sail Away deck party while they relaxed in the room. 

In the future, I'd be happy missing this shin dig, but it was a nice way to get the party started...
Only... we didn't sail away right after the sail away party. 
Due to fog, we were stuck in port for several more hours. 

Hard to believe it was sunny minutes before this massive fog engulfed us!

But after some rest, there was still a lot to do on the Wonder. As soon as the Kids Club was open, The Impossible Girl wanted to be dropped off, so we did! 

More to come later....

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Epic Winter Road Trip - Reconnecting with the Godparents at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim

 The next day, we said goodbye to Hollywood and hello to Anaheim. We stopped off at Downtown Disney for lunch at Tortilla Joes. It's the closest we'd get to Disneyland this trip. This place always has a bit of magic and nostalgia for us.

Beignets beat wedding cake (Credit: White Rabbit Photography)

(For those readers that are new, our wedding was held at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen (You can find out more about that here if you're really interested. It was a wonderful whirlwind.)  

After the world's best chicken tamale with verde sauce from Tortilla Joe's (Washington has me missing Mexican food badly - but I digress) we stopped at the Lego store to let The Impossible Girl pick out something to buy with her allowance money. She opted for a set of Minecraft themed Legos to open later. Our next stop was one she'd been talking about for weeks

Washington State is home to one of the smallest Great Wolf Lodge resorts, and we frequent it from time to time. This time, we visited the one in Anaheim/Garden Grove, California. This one is one of biggest and newest Great Wolf Lodge Resorts to date. 

But it was the company that was truly awesome.

This time, we got to include her Godparents! 

 The Impossible Girl hasn't seen them for about 5 years - and neither have we! There were a couple video chat happy hours When The World Paused, but other than that, it had been years since we visited each other face to face and got our families together. Luckily for us, everyone gets along pretty famously - and that hasn't changed.

We don't take the roll of 'godparents' lightly. These are the people in our will who will raise our children, should anything happen to My Sailor and me, so it's important that they are up to date with her life, and that we all stay connected and relevant to each other.

The big attraction at Great Wolf Lodge is the giant indoor water park. And it didn't disappoint. We didn't take many photos, but all three of us tried the FloRider, and all of us lived in the Lazy River quite a bit. 

Opening up a special Snowland goodie bag.
Heading out to a shopping center near by for some dinner. 

We all had a great time reconnecting. I'm incredibly grateful for those relationships where, it's obvious time has passed, but we can pick up where we left off, to a certain extent. They have a great understanding of The Impossible Girl and The Impossible Girl trusts them (not an easy feat for her). We don't have a whole lot of active friendships from our previous lives (pre Navy, pre Marriage). Having kids and moving away changed a lot of them. Makes me all the more grateful for the ones I have in my life now. This one, since we're entrusting our kid(s) to them, is especially close to my heart.

After two days of playing and a night at the Lodge, we headed into my hometown, Escondido, for some time with my family....