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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jumpin on a jet plane

My family had THE MOST amazing ( I realize that word is completely over used but that doesn't change the definition and trust me it fits ) summer EVER.  We had a plan.  It was as follows... Have fun, embark on a "love where we live campaign", make memories, and document those memories.  So that's what we did.  To the fullest.  I think we maybe had 3 days ALL SUMMER LONG where we stayed home.  We didn't spend an exorbitant amount of money or go anywhere fancy but we #lovedwhereyoulive like it was our job, and it sort of was. The summer truly started for us when my little brother got married. 
Everyone we love came into town and celebrated with us and it was, wait for it... AMAZING!  We reunited with our downsyndrome brother Andy who lived with us for 7 years while I was growing up.  We went to watch him play baseball at something called the miracle league.  He came to Sunday dinner.  Sunday dinner at my parents (especially in the summer) is a very big deal.  It's huge and there are lot's of visitors, travelers and people passing through and they are ALWAYS welcome.
Our kids reunited with cousins who live in far away states and friends who are like family that had moved away.  We had beach trips, dance parties, backyard baseball games, water balloon tossing competitions, pool parties, sleepovers, boat rides to little islands and movie marathons.  We filled every moment with family and fun. 

We made so many memories it was hard to remember them all.  Which is why I'm so glad I had made #4 an initiative of ours... and I used the # to mean number, not hashtag.  Documenting these memories is so important if not annoying for those posing for my endless picture taking sessions. I know these years are few. The kids will get older, they'll grow up, the magic will still be there but it will lessen and fade a little as new things peak their interest and they go in different directions, but for now they love every single thing about their time together.  Sure there are grumpy kids who didn't get enough sleep the night before, or sunburnt shoulders and backs or rainy afternoons where we have to resort to electronics in order for chaos to remain at a minimum, but that's life and that's great. When the festivities of all the families and friends settled down I was a little worried I'd feel lost, and lonely.  Of course I was sad to say goodbye and see loved ones go but I had already vowed that I would #lovewhereIlive this summer... yes that time it was meant to be a hashtag.  So that's what we did next.  We went canoeing in shem creek, here in Mount Pleasant.  Where we saw dolphins and collected shells and got a workout.
Afterwards we went to Sonic where we completely took over the joint and probably gave any teens the best form of  free birth control in the world.   Again the kids loved it so much.  We came home one night after Cru's scouts to about 5 bikes laying down in our driveway with neighbor kids we'd never seen before playing basketball in our driveway.  Before we knew it there were 15 kids, boys and girls playing a summer night pick up game.  We went to the beach weekly and usually two or three times a week.  Why not?  It's fun and free and my favorite place on the earth.  Our car will never be the same it could be a mini beach itself with all the sand we brought back with us each time, but who cares.  It's about making the memories.  I served in my calling at Girl's Camp teaching the 14 year olds about camp certification.  We also went on something called high adventure and we went out to little place called Morris Island where we took the girls shark fishing.

I look forward to girls camp now as a leader because #1 It's actually the coolest place to go and so it's like a mini girls retreat and #2 I see the importance of bonding with the girls and them finding strength in one another.

Jeff also served in areas concerning the youth.  He did a lake retreat and also spoke at a youth conference with 400 kids.  We drove to a smaller town in S.C. named Beaufort and we walked around the historic district with our kids.  We met with Jeff's uncle and had dinner, watched the kids play and ate ice cream.  Cru entertained families and tourists with his hand stand skills and we soaked up every ounce of that day we possible could.  It was a great time for Jeff to spend with his Uncle Dwayne, who is the only living relative left on his father's side. We met a group of salesmen who were working here just for the summer.  A bunch of guys and a girl in their early 20's and they quickly became part of our little family.  We lent our home and our hearts to them.  We helped them #lovewheretheylived and enjoy SC.  We went paddle boarding through Shem Creek where we again saw dolphins and other beautiful sights. 

The boys jumped off of docks and rode on our paddle boards with us. We enjoyed the beach with new people and stayed up late into the night talking.  I forgot I was in my 30's because I was living life like a college student  Staying up late hanging out all day sleeping in and enjoying every ounce of life. I can't count how many times we utilized our greatest freest resource of fun.. the beach
  We also had some difficult times.  We thought we were chosen to adopt a baby girl and became very  close to the birthmom.  We skyped and messaged on facebook and through text messages and phone conversations.  We made plans to expand our family and take on a new life in our home.  We flew her here to visit and see where the baby would live and how the baby would live.  We treated our guest like family.  Including her in everything we would normally do. She turned out to be nothing we thought.  She was deceiving and callous.  She used us and threw us and our feelings into the garbage.  She lied about being pregnant, she put on a show featuring herself and to hell with what would come afterwards. We went on a family vacation to Missouri to visit cousins and my sister, which she ultimately ruined because she told us our baby was stillborn on our 2nd day of vacation.  She had mastered the art of deception and knew all the right things to say to our questions.  We had to tell our boys that their little sister had died and wouldn't be joining the family. 

We did still go out on the family boat and to fun restaurants and to a professional baseball game to see the Kansas City Royals play, which we loved.  We went out to their family ranch and went fishing and shooting guns. 
I loved being in the great outdoors with nothing really around.
We got to see their beautiful temple up close and experience so much quality family time, but it was dulled due to the sadness that was weighing on our hearts.  We found out it was all a lie, but not until the vacation was over and we were at home.  We had so much support and encouragement and love poured out to us that we quickly bounced back and felt stronger than ever.  We did a news story about her deceit and spread the word and found other couples.  Jericho Road came to do a conference here and Jeff and I spoke at one of the meetings.  We talked about our bodies being temples and how they are not our own and that is a lie Satan tells us so that we think we are making choices that are of no consequence in the eternal spectrum.  But we talked about how we are bought with a price and that price is Jesus Christ' atoning blood and sacrifice and that our bodies are on loan from our creator and we need to house our spirits with clean temples and return them to our Father spic and span. Of course none of us can do that without our Savior Jesus Christ and his atonement which makes it all possible.  Jeff and I also celebrated our 10th anniversary!
The last week of summer we went up to the lake house, which is a trailer and took 2 boats and 2 jet skis out.  We jumped off of diving boards and then went through the locks and in the Tail Race canal and jumped off of a rope swing! 

The kids loved it and believe it or not this frady cat even climbed the tree and swung down on the rope swing into the lake.  It wasn't graceful but I DID IT!!! That's huge for me.  I'm afraid, deathly afraid of heights and even seemingly little heights that 4 year olds aren't batting an eye at. We stayed at the lake until the sun went down.  It was magical, maybe and probably the very best night of the summer.  It was the perfect ending.  But for me, Kayla Hall I hate endings so then there really aren't any perfect endings because I hate them so much.  School started the college kids left, my brother and his new bride who quickly and easily became one of my favorite people left, my kids were gone all day and I felt empty. Sad. Alone. Hollow.  I should have felt alive rejuvenated and ready to take on the world, but I felt myself feeling lost.  I was trying to be proactive.  Serving others, going running, exercising spending quality time reading visiting the beach and hanging out with my amazing (there's that word again) husband but it really wasn't until my bestie called me up and said "Please grow a wild hair and come see me in San Diego this week" that I felt alive again. So talked to my dad who has buddy passes and I jumped on a jet plane and flew 3,000 miles at a mintues notice and went to see her and her family for an extended weekend.  We soaked it all in.  Talks by the outdoor fire, watching The Wonder Years and going on a journey to our childhood, eating popcorn and milkduds and M&M's, baking monsterous cookies, doing a short run for charity, window shopping (or barn shopping) beach walking and lots and lots of therapeutic talking.  It was a blessing to be able to make that trip happen.  Sometimes the stars really do align and for that I'm grateful!

The best part is I could have written forever on all the good times of each part of our summer. I could post 25 more accompanying pictures to go along with stories. I could NOT however write that long about the gloomy, sad or hard times.  That's something to treasure.