How many more sleeps?

This post was originally posted in March of 2014 and reposted today because I miss my travel partners.

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“How many more sleeps till Nana’s house?” The question asked hundreds of times in past 7 years.

Anna would always be so excited about our pending trips back to Ohio. She loved visiting Nana and Papa, so much that as a toddler she would announce to the entire plane “We’re in Ohio”, upon landing in Cleveland.

During these many trips across the county we developed some really fun games, learned how to not kick the seat in front of us and found that novel toys and new Wonder Pet videos were the key to a day of traveling. We also had many discussions about what the “little bag” was for. Anna, in her 7 years, never once got sick. For her the barf bag was more of a means to make an awesome hand puppet to entertain her Mama.

In 2011 Abigail, Anna and I made a trip to Ohio for spring break. I knew that it was going to be one of many trips back East that the three of us would take during this time. I promised the girls that we would try to get back every year during the Spring to see family and to go on a little adventure together. They loved that idea. In the Fall we were already planning our March visit to Nana and Papa’s new house.

During that very first trip I knew that Abigail was a little nervous. She had never really flown without her dad before and although she was really comfortable with Anna and I, I knew that she was probably going to get a little home sick. I felt so blessed to have her with us and to introduce her as my daughter. Anna was excited to show her Nana’s house and to introduce her to Isabella.

On the first leg of our trip all was going according to plan until Abigail looked at me, a little green, and said she wasn’t feeling well. I knew this was going to turn from a joyous plan ride to a smelly, yucky, barforama real quick. I can deal with a lot of stuff but one thing I can’t deal with is someone throwing up, not even my own kid. So here I am, in a very confined space about to experience something I knew was going to make me gag. I was hoping she was just imagining that she was sick, you know when kids just feel a little woozy and nothing really happens. This was definitely not the case as she was starting to convulse a bit. I looked at Anna, eyes wide and said, “quick Anna, give me the barf bag.” Anna promptly reached into the pocket in front of her and grabbed the hand puppet, I mean barf bag.

I put it up to Abigail’s face and, as she held it, I rubbed her back saying a little prayer, “please God, don’t let me barf.” Abigail did get sick but I never saw it, everything went into the bag. When she was all done she looked at me and said, “I feel much better.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

I was so proud of her that I stuck out my hand and gave her a high-five along with telling her she was a rock star. We all laughed and continued to give the high fives every time we retold the heroic story of how we, all three of us, worked as a team to make sure the barf went in the bag.

I’m smiling as I type, thinking that my girls are giving each other a high-five as I retell the story.

Our first trip back East as a threesome was amazing. My family loved Abigail as their own and the cousins bonded as if they knew each other since day one.  My heart was full each night as Abigail would give my dad a big hug and say, “good night Papa.” I know his heart was full of love too.

We did have some issues with delays on the way back home but ended up in a fancy hotel in Chicago. Every trip since then my girls would pray that we would have delays so we could jump on the beds in Chicago again. Such great memories of our adventures together.

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This week my heart has been heavy. I’ve been struggling to pinpoint the cause, worried that maybe it was due to bringing Linus into our lives to soon. I’ve talked with friends about their spring break plans, I’ve watched the weather change as the sun beams through our windows and sensed the spring fairies presence as I watch the tulips and daffodils starting to take form in the front yard.

This morning the reason for my heavy heart dawned on me.

This week, Anna would be asking over and over, “how many more sleeps Mama till we go to Ohio?” I would be replying in single digits. We would be dusting off the suitcases and I know that both girls would have a pile of their favorite clothes sitting neatly on the floor waiting to be packed. They would ask if I was secretively putting together a goody bag for the plane and secretively I would be.  They would want to sleep in the same room, something they loved to do when something exciting was approaching.

We would all be so excited!

My heart is heavy because I want to hear Anna ask, “how many more sleeps Mama?”

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Photo taken by Anna on a trip to Ohio.

As for bringing Linus into our lives too soon. He is our healer sent from God and I truly know this to be the case. As my heart is heavy, he fills it with Joy. I’ve watch all week how this little guy has brought happiness to those he comes in contact with. Our community, our close friends and especially Anna and Abigail’s friends needed Linus. We needed Linus. He brings a smile to everyone that comes in contact with him and that brings a smile to my face.

I just wish my girls could snuggle with him, he’s a good snuggler and so are my girls.

Max Train Adventure

It was the first day of summer break and we wanted to go on an adventure. Tom was working but the girls insisted that we needed to include him.

“How about we head downtown on the Max and meet him for lunch?”

You would have thought I suggested we take the next flight to Disneyland…they were so excited.

We drove to the Zoo and took the elevator down to the tunnel. Abigail was begging me to get my camera out and take photos. They were holding hands, climbing everything and anything and having so much fun together.

“Take a picture of this!” They both jumped off the small pillars.

We were all so excited to be off school.

Tom met us at the Subway by Providence Park ~  he was excited that we chose to visit him on our first day of freedom; I was excited that we were all going to spend our lunch together and the girls were excited to climb all over the giant face, that sits in front of the stadium, and pretend to come out of it’s nose.

It is the simple moments that I miss ~ taking out my camera and capturing their lives, their laughter and their innocence.

Sometimes when I’m looking through my photos, I close my eyes and try to relive the entire experience. I try to remember all of the details ~ details that at the time I may not have noticed.

I try always to be grateful for the time I had with my girls ~ to be grateful for the details. I hope there is never a moment in my life where their memories become foggy because it’s in these moments that I experience the most joy.

Remembering our time together brings me so much joy.

I wish we had more time.

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Love Rocks and Tea Cups

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I was standing in line waiting.  The little boy behind me was so excited and talking non-stop about what ride he was going on next. His mom was asking him questions and prompting him to remember that he was not the only one in his group. “Maybe we should ask your sister what she wants to do next.”

“Elsa and Anna,” his little sister said loudly.

I turned to see the face of this little voice and smiled. Tom and I had just watched Frozen for the first time on Anna and Abigail’s Heaven Day ~ I could totally understand why any little girl would want to meet these two sisters.

The dad, seeing that I was listening and smiling, then asked, “Where is the rest of your family?”

I guess it is safe to assume that when you are at Disneyland you are usually with your family ~ most often little children. I smiled thinking that he saw in me a mother, a wife and someone that, of course, would be sharing this experience with her family.

~

What I had experienced the day before was that I was not alone on my little adventure to Disney. My girls met me there from Heaven. I could not see them or touch them but I could hear them ~ their excitement, their laughter, their bickering over which ride or attraction to see next and their overall awe of a place they had always wanted to go.

I can honestly say that it was truly amazing how they showed up. They guided me through that park and made sure I didn’t miss anything they wanted to do ~ except for the teacups where I had a long conversation (yes, I was that lady who appeared to be talking to herself) with Anna about how I just couldn’t do it and that if I did I would surely get sick. We settled on watching and leaving 20 Love Rocks instead.

That was not the only place I left Love Rocks ~ I brought over 200 and they were all left in the park. My girls loved to play spy and sneak around the house leaving little treasure for me to find. I’m sure I had some Heavenly protection as I placed each Love Rock as I know there was some security guy watching me on surveillance wondering what I was doing.

At the end of my day I sat on Main St. waiting to watch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. I wanted to make sure I got a good seat, front row and in the shade. I sat there watching as family after family walked by.

My heart began to get heavy, I missed my family.

The parade started and I could hear Anna as clear as day whisper in my ear, “Mama, this is so fun, thank you so much for bringing us!” And then she said the best part, “I love you so much!”

I smiled and watched the best parade I’ve seen in a long time and it didn’t even have candy.

~

“They will be here shortly,” I told the dad and then I shared with his kids what our favorite rides were.

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Happiness Journal

Anna africa

We took this picture to mail to Valerie and Emmanuel in Africa, the children we have been sponsoring since Anna was a baby. We had a plan that one day Anna, Abigail and I would visit them in Rwanda. We loved talking about it while writing letters and putting together packages to send them.

We had lots of plans to travel the world together.

My plan is to make sure the people of Kenya, especially the children, feel the love and joy of my daughters.

This makes me happy!

Snapshot

I have taken thousands of pictures in the past 7 years but one of my all time favorites was taken this past summer on our family vacation to Orcas Island. We were sitting around the campfire and the girls started laughing about an inside joke we have. They couldn’t stop, and the more they laughed the more we all laughed.

There was so much happiness around that campfire. I took this picture to capture the love and the joy that was being shared between two sisters. Ever since I took it I have loved it, but I had no idea how much this photo would mean to me. This how I picture them in Heaven; laughing, smiling and celebrating.

As the sun shines, and kids come outside to play, my heart is heavy. The water gets deeper and sometimes I wish I could go under forever. The thought of this photo brings me to the surface.

Love and Joy, that is what we will spread. Love and Joy in honor of my girls who bring me an abundance of both.

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