Thursday, May 19, 2011

the post which features a lot of Capital Words

Since I get sorta confused, confounded, and discombobulated when too many things get too far out of chronological order, I am going to go ahead and finish out my Florida Trip Tales before moving on to more recent stuff of the North Carolinian Variety.

So off we go . . . in a most discombobulatory sort of way.

To put it mildly, we stayed plenty busy during our family’s brief visit to the Sunshine State; Nathan and Meagan were so sweet to make every effort to include us in as much Wedding Prep Stuff as they could, since we won’t be there for the majority of the planning.

One of our fun side trips was a visit to The Very Gazebo where Nathan proposed. Nathan and Meagan said it looked a lot more romantic at night with white lights, candles and music playing, but we were still excited about the privilege of seeing The Lovely Place where it all happened.

They even described to us the whole event all over again, except this time they could actually point out what happened here. And here. And over there.

And the best part of the proposal story? When Nathan proposed, they both cried. How sweet is that?

Even during the re-telling, there was some kissin’ . . .


. . . and hand holdin’ going on.


Suddenly though, right in the midst of all that kissin’ and tellin’, it occurred to Meagan that she was holding hands without The Ring showing; she speedily (and quite deftly) made an On The Spot Ring Correction.

Ahhh. That’s better!


We also went to see the beautiful church where they will be married.


Here’s Nathan on the very spot where he will walk out as A Married Man. (sniff) (and also Sniff)


The church is surrounded by Grand Old trees; I am a big fan of anything that’s grand and old, but especially trees. (I’m not sure what Nathan is doing here—just miscellaneously clapping his hands, I guess—but it made a nice shot.)


We also took a trek to the tux rental place where Meagan had brought along her head piece for matching purposes. Since Nathan is being kept in the dark about any and all Highly Secret, Intensely Guarded Wedding Dress Issues, he had to cover his eyes while the salesladies and Meagan conferred. He is such a good fiancé.

I have even gone to great lengths to perpetuate the Great Cover Up by, um, Covering Up all traces of said headpiece with a heart. Am I such a good mother-in-law-to-be, or what?

wedding dress heart

After all that Exhausting Sitting and Eye Shielding, it was finally time for Nathan to leap into action and be measured for his tux . . .


. . . . and figure out his exact, precise, Wedding Shoe Size. (Picture me Sniffling in the background.)


Then we all repaired to the jewelry store where the Smith Fella and the Smith-Lady-To-Be looked at a wedding ring for Nathan. (picture even More Sniffling)


And then? Then it was time for Our Official Cultural Experience.

While we were planning our trip to Florida, I had told Nathan and Meagan that Sarah--being a sheltered, small town kind of gal--needed to have some sort of Out Of The Ordinary Dash of Culture Experience while she was there. And Downtown Disney filled the bill perfectly—free parking, free admission and fascinating stuff to behold everywhere we looked.



My favorite thing about the place (besides the myriad opportunities for people watching) was a hot air balloon which gave “up and down” rides. (In other words, it didn’t sail off to any distant lands in Fine Hot Air Balloon Fashion.) Once it got dark, it was just the coolest thing to see this huge glowing orb rising over the horizon every few minutes, looking exactly like a whimsical, quirky sun. It just thrilled me to no end. (I’m easily entertained.)




And so ended our Really Cool Visit to Florida where we discovered (yet again) that our son is going to be in Very Good Hands with his future Mrs. Smith. In fact, she’s so wonderful that she not only helped him move out of his dorm room, she also festooned his car with the words, “You have my heart.”


I think they have hearts made for each other.


(NOTE: If you saw two posts show up in your RSS feed yesterday that you can't access, it's because I posted them and immediately deleted them because a "special effect" I was trying to show didn't work.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The After

Although I have many more pictures and stories to share about our recent time with Nathan, today is Sarah’s day.

Today marks Sarah’s ninth anniversary of being a survivor of Stage IV Neuroblastoma, the cancer with one of the lowest survival rates of all pediatric cancers. I’ve posted a photo retrospective over on her site today, so be sure to stop by there to help her celebrate.

Sarah is a young lady who has gone through some truly horrific experiences in her young life. One which comes quickly to mind is the preparation process for her bone marrow transplant when she was given doses of chemo strong enough to have killed an adult. (Her doctor said that children’s bodies can handle more chemo than adults can.)

When the (miraculous, poisonous) chemo killed off her immune system, she developed horrible open sores-from her mouth all the way down through her entire digestive system. She went for several weeks without being able to take anything by mouth because the pain was so intense.


But she endured with grace.

She found a core of strength inside that frail seven year old body that surprised us all.

And she lived to become the “after” in this before and after photo.

before and after Picnic

We are so very, very thankful that our child survived, so grateful that she has been given the chance to blossom into loveliness--loveliness of face and loveliness of heart.

Happy anniversary, baby girl.

sarah tues collage

Monday, May 16, 2011

Of Endings and Beginnings

Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear. Those were the first words to visit my brain when I woke up this morning.

And just why was I “oh dear-ing?”

Well, mainly because I’ve just been through a crazy busy two weeks and I have innumerable crazy busy-related stories and pictures to post. However, since the last two weeks have been so (aforementionedly) crazy busy, I’m way behind on all the other areas of my life (in a major sort of crazy busy way) and so therefore I can’t spend the time I would like on blogging about all the previously mentioned crazy busyness.

Hence the oh dear-ing.

So for this morning, I will just share a few miscellaneous pictures and then post much more in the coming days. (Should the crazy busyness happen to abate.)

Here is a Monday Morning Picture Synopsis . . .

Friday we had a total of twenty people at our home for Steve’s birthday dinner.

I used the same simple chocolate cake recipe I’ve been using for the past century or two, topped by our favorite frosting. 1. two small boxes of vanilla pudding 2. mix with two cups of milk instead of four cups 3. add a small container of Cool Whip 4. stir together 5. spread on cake. 6. garnish 7. remove calories 8. eat


Here’s The Birthday Guy and Son, listening to a song on a guest’s iPod.


It might seem strange to wear name tags in one’s own house, but since we had invited several new people over from the church, we asked everyone to wear a tag stating their name and the first job they ever had. We’ve found that putting extra info on a name tag gives people who don’t know each other something to start a conversation with. (You could also ask, What was your first car? or What is the cheapest you ever remember seeing gas? etc.)

And just so you know: Nathan’s tag said, “Chick Fil A,” mine said, “Cleaned hotel rooms” and Steve’s said, “Foreign car mechanic.”


Another Activity of the Week was dance class. Since Nathan and I are slated to do a mother/groom dance at his wedding reception, we figured we’d better practice a little.



Since I am the non-danciest person you have ever seen, I’m sure my efforts to dance with my son will be the humorous highlight of the wedding.


Before going to a movie on Thursday evening, the four of us climbed Jockey’s Ridge.


I last climbed this particular mountain of sand when I was seventeen years old so it brought back some happy memories. (Note: This is NOT a picture of me as a seventeen year old. Just in case you were wondering. Which you probably weren’t. So. Never mind.)


It was a perfect evening for it; the smoke from the forest fire was blowing the other way and it was a bit cool with low humidity--perfect climbing conditions for someone whose lungs aren’t always at their best.

Of course, Steve and Nathan (being all male and macho) had to show off for the women folk and run (yes, I said run) up part of the dune. It make my whole body hurt just to watch them.


It was such a happy evening; one of those halcyon moments in life that you know you will remember forever.

I will always remember the laughter. And I will always remember the tears.

sarah and me cry


As we all stood together in that beautiful place, looking out over the sea, enjoying the last golden glints of daylight, I knew we were close to the end of a precious era of life that would never be repeated.

And as much as our whole family adores Meagan, and as excited as we are about her and Nathan’s upcoming wedding, their happy beginning represents a a bittersweet ending for the four of us. And you know what moms do when precious chapters come to an end?

Yep. We cry. Even when we’re not pretty criers. We just cry.

sarah me nate cry

And then we feel better.

And we go back to enjoying the wondrous, simple moments that that make life’s journey joyful and beautiful. . .


. . . and full of precious endings. And beginnings.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Both Ends of His Journey

I dropped Nathan off at Norfolk International about three hours ago; he should be landing in Orlando in about five minutes where he will be greeted by his ecstatic (not to mention happy) fiancee. I told him that he was a blessed fella to have women who loved him on both ends of his journey.

We've had a really wonderful week with him and I am happy to say that I have taken approximately 93,000 pictures--give or take a few hundred thousand. However, at this point in my life, my immediate focus does not have to do with photos; it has to do with tucking myself into bed (very early) for a short book and a long sleep. This has been an incredibly busy and emotional week and while I have ever so much to share, I think it will all make quite a bit more sense when I am rested.

Unfortunately, the nearby forest fire that I mentioned in Friday's post is having more of an impact here than it had been; the wind has shifted and Manteo is filled with smoke. For people with COPD, that's not such a great thing. I've been hacking a lot, and using my rescue inhaler and trying to keep my activity level down so that I don't get quite so breathless.

And what better way to keep one's activity level down than to go to sleep early?

Sounds like a plan!