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Archive for the ‘Joy in the Journey’ Category

She called me a breath of fresh air. She also called me out on my shit. She took me to lunch and gifted me with pretty things. When we lived states away from each other, she wrote me long, handwritten letters. She looked me in the eye when she talked to me and every now and then she’d reach out and squeeze my hand. She laughed at my jokes, reassured me I’d be just fine when I was weighed down with worry and sadness, and she always ended our chats with, “I love you, honey.”

I wrote this about her in a blog post 15 years ago:

“I had the privilege of spending a few precious hours with Linda today, my friend and mentor. It’s so nice to know we live in the same town again – even for a short time. She picked me up and we went shopping for a bit, went to her eye doctor, then enjoyed lunch together. We ate Chinese food, and since she had her eyes dilated, she asked me to read the fortune from her cookie. I made one up that kept us laughing for several minutes. There is seldom a moment of silence when we are together!

Linda is 60 something, has blonde spiky hair (Clairol, like me), beautiful eyes and a bright lip-sticked smile. She loves big silver jewelry – the bigger the better, fell in love with her husband when she was 17, collects chili pepper stuff, loves chocolate, and reads more than any woman I know. She has some health challenges, but mostly takes them in stride. She is the only woman in my life that prays with me every time we’re together. She and I have talked and struggled through some deep stuff. She gives me wise counsel and points me back to God. She has two daughters already, so I tease her that I’m a bonus. Her daughter Corrine calls me her sister from another mother.

Linda gives the best hugs and she’s always thrilled to see me. As much as I get from our friendship, she tells me that I’m a drink of fresh water! Nobody has ever talked about me like that. The funniest thing about our relationship? We met at a garage sale! Our friendship dates back to BC – before children (mine of course – hers are older than me). She is one of my favorite balcony people. How I love and respect this woman! She affirms me and releases me to be who I am. She makes me a better me.” ~April 2005

Corrine contacted me late last night to tell me Linda passed away yesterday, surrounded by her family. I don’t know the details yet, I just know I am aching and heartbroken. It’s been hard to breathe all year, but this loss has been my greatest and I need a pause. I learned long ago not to wait to let the people I love know how I feel about them. The comforting thought holding me together right now is that there is no doubt in my mind that Linda knew the depth of my love for her. Say what you need to say. Do it now. Don’t wait.

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$500.00.

A weekend away in an unknown destination.

Details to be given once you arrive at the airport with your carry-on bag.

Are you in?

I said YES!

Last fall, my friend Cindy decided to put together a Mom’s mystery trip. She’s the director of the private school where I teach and my kids take classes on Fridays. She’s also an experienced world traveler, having led several educational trips abroad for high school students, and done some traveling of her own with her family. She excitedly made the first announcement to see if anyone would be interested.

The responses ran from “YES, YES, YES!” to “Are you crazy? I’m not spending money to go on a trip without knowing the details!”

In the end, it was a chilly January morning when five excited women met Cindy at the airport with our carry-on luggage in tow. (A very special thank you to my mystery friend who made it possible for me to go on this adventure! I can’t thank you enough!) After we gathered around, Cindy announced we were booked on a non-stop flight to Miami where we would spend the night in a luxury suite before driving to the Port of Palm Beach the next morning to board a ship for a two-day cruise to the Bahamas! It was more than I ever hoped or imagined! WOW!!!

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2016 Mystery Moms

We arrived in Miami and drove to the Marriott on Biscayne Bay. It was beautiful! We settled in a bit then talked and laughed our way through dinner at Primo Restaurant near our hotel. My friend Veronica and I ordered different meals so we could share. Delicious! I also tried crab cakes for the first time and loved them. Who knew?

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Marriott at Biscayne Bay

After dinner we drove our minivan down to south beach and cruised past all the clubs. Can you picture it? lol We were so cool. The traffic was insane! We came back to the hotel and took some pictures of the bay (and each other) and hung out enjoying the cool breeze. What a beautiful night!

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Miami Sunrise over Biscayne Bay

The next morning, we headed for Little Havana to eat breakfast at the famous Versailles Bakery & Restaurant. I tried Cuban coffee (yuck) and took lots of pictures of the architecture and my breakfast. I’ll spare you those particular photos. Not having seen palm trees since I was a little girl living in California, I loved the drive to the port! You could feel the excitement and energy in the van as we planned possible activities: A glass bottom boat tour, swimming with the sharks (Ellison was the only one up for that adventure), shows on the boat, and of course, shopping.

Then we arrived at the port and our trip took an unexpected turn.

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.

As we were checking in, we found out Amanda had a copy of her birth certificate and wouldn’t be allowed to go on the cruise. The port only allows state-issued birth certificates or passports for re-entry into the United States. I suddenly felt like I had swallowed a pile of rocks. I have a military hospital issued birth certificate. Sure enough, when it was my turn at the counter, the guy practically rolled his eyes at me as he handed me my documents and told me no, I would not be leaving with my group.

Stunned, angry, sad, disappointed. I didn’t know what to feel. We were just told we needed an original birth certificate with a raised seal. That’s what I have. It’s the one I’ve used my whole life. But it wasn’t enough. It was a terrible mix up, and Cindy felt awful about it. My tender-hearted friend was beside herself trying to fix it.

It was a struggle looking into the sad faces of my friends. Everyone felt terrible. I love them and wanted them to enjoy their cruise. A few deep breaths and hugs later and they were off, leaving me and Amanda to form a new plan for a few days in Florida.

We were both in a bit of shock, but we pep talked each other into looking at it as another unplanned adventure. It worked! We had a blast! We decided to take lots of pictures and post them to Instagram so our cruising friends would know we were having fun, and they’d be included in our part of the trip too. We didn’t know they didn’t have internet and couldn’t see our pictures or share their own. My friend Ellison was the only one to interact with us at all, so now I’m convinced she’s either a spy, has her own satellite phone, or connections in high places. I’m leaning towards spy. 😉

Amanda and I found a nice place to stay in West Palm Beach and spent our two days walking, talking, going to the beach, visiting a state park, and attempting an Anthony Hernandez scavenger hunt. Our first night in West Palm Beach we happened upon a pretty cool wall mural of JFK, so I googled the artist and found out he had street art all over the city! (See above and check out his website, the ones below are other people’s art.)

The whole art district was pretty great. We stayed up late into the night talking, got sand all over the rental van, laughed, cried, shared the highlights of our lives with each other, ate great food, and relaxed.

And what is a trip to Florida without spending a bit of time writing at the beach and playing in the waves? The photo of my hands full of sand is me rescuing a stranded baby jellyfish. He’s the bluish blob on top. I carefully scooped him up and threw him back into the ocean and cheered him on with the hope he’d beat the tide.

Our vacation flew by and soon it was time to meet the other ladies at port and begin the uncertain trek back to Denver – which was in the middle of a snow storm. I kind of hoped our flight would get cancelled so we’d have another day with all of us together. I even bought this postcard and texted the photo to a few friends. Ha! No such luck. We actually arrived home early?!

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It was a fabulous trip! It was good that I didn’t have a plan, and even though it didn’t go according to Cindy’s plan either, I would do it again! And guess what? Last week, Cindy announced the next mystery trip is scheduled for February! I wonder how long it will take me to get my passport?

What about you? Would you go on a mystery trip?

Do you have any suggestions for great WARM places to visit while it’s freezing in Colorado?

 

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I know the title says a random person but the person I chose is anything but random. I’ve already blogged about Zoe and Pete. Now it’s Max’s turn.

me and Max

He’s my first born, my fellow night owl, my handsome, strapping sixteen-year-old son. He’s strong, and strong-willed. He’s protective and fiercely loyal. He’s a natural leader – how could he not be when he was born to two first-born children. He’s bigger than me, but I know how to take him down because I’m the momma and I know where he’s ticklish.

 

He’s a comic book and anime geek. Having people ask to take their picture with him at Denver Comic Con might have been the highlight of his weekend. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he’s a fan of both the DC and Marvel universes, but leans more towards the DC side.

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He’s also a drama geek, like his parents before him. He has a lot of hobbies, but his life right now is mostly about finishing high school as soon as possible, Kainos – his youth group, and his girlfriend Sarah.

max and sarah

He spends his free time designing and creating things out of raw materials and duct tape. We gave him an iPad mini for Christmas last year and his favorite gift was still his dremel. He’s a creative kid, and he uses what he learns and knows to teach others. He started his own youtube channel when he was eleven years old to teach other kids how to make things.

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Max calls me “Mommy” and gets frustrated with the other two when they call me “Mom.” I love that. I love him, this giant man-child who made me a mommy for the first time. He’s amazing and I’m proud he’s my son.

There are a few more random people to read about:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

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