Thursday, July 27, 2017

last few days in NC

Saturday morning we started prepping for a big Crissman gathering here at Mom and Dad's house.  What does that mean?  Mom in the kitchen (always these days!), with me at her side.  And the kids and Matt outside helping Granddaddy in the yard.

Hard workers working hard.  It yields results!

Then the guests arrived - and Uncle Eric was perhaps the most anticipated arrival? or maybe Uncle Gary?  Eric taught the kids to call him "Favorite Uncle Eric" - and anyone who plays that much high-energy Monopoly probably deserves the title ;)

Monday we celebrated a few early events - Lydia's birthday, and John Paul's gotcha.

Look at Lydia's face!  That Grandmama knows how to pick a birthday present :)

And my friend EA and her two boys were here so we had plenty of help sharing the cake too!

And now the van is loaded and the gas tank is full.  I told Matt, "I feel like we just moved into our van for the next three days."  And he answered, "Well, we basically did."  We planned one night in Kentucky, one in Wisconsin, and then meeting Matt's family at a lake in northern Minnesota.

I'm hopeful we will still be happy when the road hours get long!

Monday, July 24, 2017

a boy and a smile

Thursday the van felt a little empty-echo-y on the road to Chapel Hill.  Just Matt, and me, and our boy John Paul.  (Thankfully Mom and Dad were back at the ranch with the other four.)

John Paul has only visited the Craniofacial Center at UNC one other time (which probably puts him in strong contention for easiest cleft child ever).  In November 2013 Dad and I took John Paul to meet the Craniofacial team and we were jet lagging and Matt was home in China and most of what I remember was John Paul charming every single person he met, and also feeling like these UNC doctors, they know what they are doing.  I was so impressed then... but the details got a little fuzzy and Thursday's visit felt familiar, but also new.

And way way better because Matt was there.   And I'm still impressed with everything about the UNC cleft team.

John Paul rocked it.  He actually did better and better as the day progressed (even though the morning went on and on and on.... almost 5 solid hours of waiting rooms and hallways and small confined spaces and lots of listening to adults talk).  He started the day nervous but ended confident and talkative and just plain easy, despite an arduously long hearing test that had me squirming and restless.

We will hear the official report early this week, but I already know what some of it will entail.

His palate repair is gorgeous, functioning perfectly and a success in every way.

His speech is crazy good given his rough tough start and he does NOT qualify (!!) for speech therapy because he's just too accomplished already.

There are more surgeries in his future (two, actually, but one is at least a decade away so no need to worry about that).  Surgery #3 (on the horizon - maybe just two years out?) will graft hip bone into his upper jaw and provide a way for his mouth to continue to grow, and especially a spot for his adult teeth to anchor.

His mouth is a wreck but it looks "just like it should" for a cleft child and no doctor/ENT/surgeon/orthodontist/dentist seemed the least bit concerned :)

The one bigger question is some mild hearing loss, and I kinda pushed for this additional testing because he passed the initial hearing test but my momma heart just felt like something was going on and.... well.... trust your momma heart, right?  I'm curious to see what the team will do with these hearing results, but not worried.

So we finally finished up and Matt picked Moe's for lunch and John Paul discovered a love for root beer.

"I can't stop drinking this!"  said the morning's rockstar.

And we cleared up a little confusion (after listening to mom and dad and doctor voices talk about surgery all morning long he thought maybe he had already done the surgery!) and promised him many many gallons of post-op root beer when the time comes!

This boy's life is a story of God's healing and redemption and I'm am so proud and so thankful he calls me Mom.

road time

Back in Raleigh after the beach trip and we have been on the go quite a bit.  First up, a trip to Lake Gaston and a chance to flex our lake-play muscles.  Turns out we all like the jet ski :)

And then Sunday we were out at NorthWake in the morning and again that evening for a picnic with our sweet friends there (from the first year of our marriage)!

{Monday I took the afternoon and went to meet three precious friends from Asia and it was amazing and I didn't take one picture - probably because I was too busy talking!}

Tuesday we went on a little "heritage tour" - visiting the places that both my Mom and Dad grew up (and where I visited my grandparents!)

First, 620 in Graham, which is in disrepair and in the process of being sold to a developer. So glad I got to see it one last time.

We also went to my Grandparents gravesite

and then back on the highway to Charlotte to see the farm where my mom was raised and all the aunts and uncles who still live right in that area.  First lunch at my Aunt Betty's and the boys were captivated by just about everything.  Then on to the farm where we searched for the brand new baby burro (who we got plenty close to but didn't pet because Momma burro thought we were a bit of an intimidating crowd). Daddy burro was less particular and very sociable.

Burros help protect calves from coyotes.  Although I cannot imagine this guy getting in a fight with a coyote, apparently that's just what he will do..... so the burros share pasture with the cows.  Then (all hot and sweaty) we went swimming at Aunt Cathy's pool and the whole crowd gathered again for more food in her backyard :)

So Tuesday night we drove home and at this point I've stopped adding up mileage or hours in the car but we knew we needed a break from the car on Wednesday :)

But all of our trips, little and long, have been amazing and I can't imagine having missed one minute of even one of them.  I'm grateful that God is really sustaining us and we are rocking the car-hours (praise the Lord because we have a big drive on the horizon and road trips have not always been our strong suit!)

We rested up on Wednesday and Thursday morning early?  on the road again!

USS North Carolina

One of our last days at the beach we toured the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial.  It was very cool and very much worth a visit!

We arrived as it was opening for the day and it was the perfect time to be on the ship - not sweltering hot (yet!) and hardly any other visitors.  Isaac is the 8 year old version of a WWII history buff.... seriously.  He had a great time. (also, what boy can resist weaponry?!?!?  none of mine!)

The Memorial is so cool - you really get to go all through the. ship and see everything, from the engine rooms to the bomb storage areas... and beds were everywhere!  2000 men served on the battleship, and they needed a lot of beds!

Group photo as we were getting ready to leave! It was a beautiful day!  Mom and Dad headed back to  Oak Island while we drove to Carolina Beach to reconnect with some dear dear friends.  I have a photo of us with the Shelleys but can't find it (ugh).

The time with them was so sweet and too short and then we rode the ferry home and it was almost the beginning of our last day at the beach!

The Shelleys were the second Asia-friends we connected with at the beach.  We also saw Emmarie who were served with the year Julianna was born!

All our days at the beach were delightful... the perfect way to re-enter America and rest and play hard too!

We came home tan and healthy and with sand still stuck between our toes.

Oh, and with brand new Oak Island tees to wear up north :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

more beach sightings

Matt tackles large sand projects, always involving a garden shovel.  The kids help and they create some fun stuff. 

like this "swimming pool" - it was a LOT of digging, and then a long wait for high tide to come and fill the pool.... but worth it! 

We (and I mostly mean John Paul) often meet our nearest beach neighbors and on this particular day it paid off big time.  Fishing opportunity, anyone?

That little rod was magic and all three boys hauled in a fish within just a few minutes of throwing out the line. 

While Matt and I were in Wilmington Dad put a kid pool on the deck in the afternoon shade.  

And one morning Dad noticed the sea turtle patrol stopped just a few houses down to mark a new nest!  You can totally see Momma Turtle's tracks in the sand and the newly marked nest (with stakes and a sign) and the sea turtle patrol golf cart finishing up their work before heading on down the beach looking for more new nests.  Those babies should hatch in about two months...

These 5 have played so hard and so well together.  

Yesterday we went to the USS North Carolina battleship memorial.  And today is our last day before loading up and heading back to Raleigh tomorrow.  What a great vacation! 

getting away

Matt and I connected with a friend of a friend who offered us their cottage for a few nights.  yes, please!

We spent one late afternoon on the riverfront in Wilmington - 

And most every other minute sitting on this dock!

It's a very very long walk from the end of the dock back to the cottage! 

and this is the view from the house... pretty nice, huh?

While we were gone the kids were in great hands with Grandmama and Granddaddy.  win for everyone!

one zillion pictures at the beach

These days have been sweet and restful and easy and delightful and fun fun fun.  Turns out our kids LOVE the beach.  They love the surf, they love the sand, they love the Wheel House.

Outside is hot, the tent it the perfect place to chill.

Inside is a combo of games, books and eating ;)

The desire to play another game of Monopoly never wanes.  Never.

and the deck is the perfect place to pose for 4th of July photos!

and the view at sunset doesn't disappoint.

I like this one because you can see the 5101 W sign on the house.  Love this spot so much!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Raleigh days

Well I'm only 12 days behind - ha!  But I'll start at the beginning and I've got lots of photos to post!

We landed at 6pm.  I love landing during daylight hours, it seems to make the transition so much smoother.

Bags. check.  Only a few years till these guys can really haul luggage - in the meantime they aspire to have their dads strength and luggage cart loading skills.

We got to Mom and Dad's and the girls helped get dinner ready

 while the boys went for a ride in Granddaddy's convertible (there were tears from John Paul in the airport parking garage when he thought he had missed a ride in Granddaddy's convertible.... whew, he didn't really miss anything!)

[yep, one of our boosters is pink.  we are trying to downplay this distinction and just enjoy our borrowed *free* boosters! ha!]

The next morning we woke to a pancake breakfast (yes! we woke in the morning! not the middle of the night!  well... mostly.  That first night Luke came in once and got in bed with us and fell back asleep.  A few hours later John Paul came in and Matt left to go get in bed with him and they both fell back asleep.  We gave each of the big kids a device with audio book, a set of headphones, and instructions to not come get us until after 7am!)

Every minute is an appropriate minute to start a game, right?

Uncle Eric and Aunt Barbara delivered our van (fresh off the road from ND) and Uncle Eric taught the boys to throw balls on the garage roof.  [see our 'new' white van in the background?]

Handsome boy waiting to go to church Sunday morning!

And after church? time to mow the lawn in prep for our almost two week trip to the beach.

Everyone gets a turn.  You would not believe how long they waited and how desperately they each wanted to mow.

Good thing we had more mowing opportunities in the backyard :)

then Monday morning we loaded the van and hit the highway, Oak Island bound!

oh, and one last picture of the boys in their Eastern European athletic gear (purchased by mom and dad on their spring trip)!