As we were finishing our amazing roadtrip, the kids and I had some decisions to make. Matt was heading off to training, and I wasn't exactly sure what we would do. My big sister lives in Washington state, and I desperately wanted to see her because I hadn't since January 2014!!! She'd never met Annalee!! She lived in Germany and then had gone to live in Washington, so when we took our trip to California last fall, we weren't able to see her.
BUUUUT... Driving to her would take at least two long days. I hoped maybe she'd be coming to California, but she was working and couldn't get time off. And then came the bombshell: within two weeks of each other, both she and her husband were very unexpectedly laid off. While she had the time now, I couldn't expect her to travel to see me, and she was in a flurry of applying for new positions.
Meanwhile, Jayna had an offer to go with her friend from Anacortes (where we lived in Washington prior to moving to Hawaii) to a youth mission trip in inner city Portland. At first she told me no; she didn't want to do it because she'd be on it for her birthday.
But when I returned to our hotel room after dropping Matt off at LAX at 5:30 that Saturday morning, she was awake.
"I think we should do it, Mom" she said as I was just crawling back into bed, hoping to sleep a few more hours. "I think we should drive up to Washington, and I need to get there by Monday at noon so that the youth group can meet me on their way to Portland."
And she was right; it actually... kind of... made perfect sense.
So in a few hours, we were repacked and driving north on I-5. We stopped in Stockton for the night to stay at my father-in-law's, then hit the road as early as possible (which, honestly, was about 9), and drove like crazy. Jayna finally let us stop for the night in Salem at about 9:30 pm. First thing the next morning, we were on the road again!
It was lunchtime when we got to where my sister lives. Jayna had arranged to have the youth group pick her up there that afternoon on their way to Portland, and we were meeting Jenny and her family at an Indian food place for lunch.
Oh my goodness, seeing my sister again... It brings tears to my eyes to remember.
We were just standing in the parking lot hugging and crying. Every minute of the drive was worth it.
After lunch, I got Jayna sent off, and then had the greatest week at Jenny's house.
That Saturday, I drove up to Anacortes to get Jayna and see friends. We had such a nice, restful three days. Our friends we were staying with live kind of in the country,
I visited other friends (like my friend Amber, mentioned in this post, a worthwhile read even if it's not Small Business Saturday today!) and hiked at Washington Park,
Then we headed back to my sister's for one more night. We left her house and stopped for the night in Salem, where I had dinner with my old boarding school roommate and dear friend, Heather.
We finally made it back to California, visited more family, and spent several days at my in-laws' house, with a little side trip here and there, like to the train museum in Sacramento.
The hardest part of this summer was that my kids weren't very healthy. Annalee kicked off the summer with back-to-back Hand Foot &Mouth and roseola. Right before we left Hawaii, I discovered that Lilly had a raging middle ear infection. Then we all had, to varying degrees, a chest cold. Wyatt and Annalee had it worst, so I ended up taking them to urgent care. Then Wyatt caught a tummy thing and spent a night throwing up or crying about his stomach hurting when we were in Monterey and I'd planned to see some friends, including an older friend who is battling cancer. I couldn't have him around her or risk it if I were coming down with the bug, so we walked around Monterey instead.
Yes, "Plans were made to be changed."
We rejoined Matt in Southern California
and learned that his training was ending sooner than expected. So we changed our travel to South Korea by 48 hours to have a day of rest before he started work here. And so plans changed again. We spent our last week with some of our closest friends, people we'd been wanting to see all month, but they had the flu. It was such a wonderful time, filled with the kind of laughter that makes your sides and cheeks hurt. The only downside was that leaving felt heart-crushing.
I have no idea what edition of my summer plan this would be, but I'm guessing Plan Q. Just a ballpark estimate.
But with Jayna starting her senior year of high school, I've been thinking a lot about what I want my kids to know by the time they leave my house. And one of them is this: having a plan is good. But being willing to change a plan without it completely derailing your life is invaluable. I've seen adults who couldn't handle one small adjustment to their schedule without being in a snit.
We had to be very flexible this summer, and I'm not going to lie: it wasn't always easy, just as I'm sure it wasn't easy for our friends and family who put us up. There were times when I almost lost my mind, and the kids probably thought I had. Friends who heard what we were up to thought we we're crazy too.
But I know this: it was a great summer.
In exchange for their flexibility, my kids had so many amazing experiences. They saw old favorite places and found new ones. They saw old friends and made new ones. And they connected with family in a way that we needed so badly before embarking on our Korean adventure.
When we were in Anacortes, Paul, the patriarch of the family we were staying with, said something I'm always saying (but it's better when it comes from someone else right?): "Kids can never have too many people who love them."
I hope my kids have learned that they will find joy in the places their many ever-changing plans take them -- even if next time, they are on Plan Z by the time the journey is over!