Since literally five minutes after we arrived, Drew has been asking to go to the beach. We finally had a day that was available and decently warm, so we decided to try out the bus system and go to Portobello beach for the day. The kids were determined to swim, but the North Sea was absolutely freezing. They had a contest to see who could go under water for the longest time, but the record was only 5 seconds. I thought that was pretty impressive because I wouldn’t brave it past my feet!
Saturday night we followed Zac’s request, and went to see a little theater troupe perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Since Zac played Lysander last December and all of the kids knew the play fairly well, it was perfect. The location was breathtaking. This was at Lauriston Castle. We brought a picnic, played on the grounds, and watched the play. We enjoyed it so much we are going to travel to another city today to see this same group perform “Hamlet.”
We have a goal to try out a different church each week, so this week we attended Greyfriars Kirk. The church was beautiful, and we knew that our friends from home sang here just last summer, making it a perfect choice for us.
We then spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Old Town. We went into a Harry Potter Museum, and finally found some “Millionaire’s Shortbread” (well worth it!).
Monday we went on a bus and boat tour out of Edinburgh.Certainly seeing seals and puffins was one of the highlights of the boat ride, but getting to stop at this little island was absolutely fabulous. Inchcolm Abbey which was built in the 10th century was beautiful, and we felt like great adventurers exploring it.
That marks the end of our first week and a half. This quality time together is absolutely priceless. We are loving it all!
Life is so busy. I know that is true for us all, but this year we really felt it. Besides being busy busy busy, it is painfully evident how quickly the kids are growing. The combination of the awareness of these two things led us to want to make a conscious effort to slow life down and spend quality time together.
Initially we were thinking we would just pack up our lives and explore somewhere new for six months. We sat with this for a while and made some exciting plans. Eventually we realized that 6 months was just not going to work in our lives of work, school, braces, and surgery schedules. But we decided not to kill the dream, just alter it to one month in the summer!
We quickly settled on Scotland for our destination. Lots of people have asked me why we chose to go to Scotland. In a lot of ways the answer was “why NOT Scotland?” Scotland is absolutely beautiful. It is English speaking, which makes it just a tad easier for such a long adventure with 5 kids. And bonus- Kai’s surgeon from Ohio has a colleague here, so if we had some sort of medical emergency we know that we have a contact here that we could reach out to. With that box checked, we were in!
Now here we are already a week into our adventure, and I think it is the best decision we have ever made. We rented a tiny Airbnb with one bathroom, and we are all loving it so much. The intentional time together is priceless and so needed.
Here is a summary of week one:
Our flat from the outside and the front door.
We have a small park in front of our flat and a playground around the corner. The kids have had fun playing “Tig” (Tag) with some of the local kids. They are also obsessed with pigeons and were thrilled to feed them in the park.
The Royal Mile
A favorite sight on our daily walks.
Hannah eagerly volunteered to participate in a street show.
A few “Harry Potter” sights. The cafe that J.K. Rowling loved to sit in to write her novels, and the tombstone where she came up with the name “Tom Riddle.”
Calton Hill. This is an easy walk from our flat, and my favorite place so far. We took a picnic and our books and easily spent an afternoon up here where there are amazing views of the entire city.
We took the train into Glasgow for the day. We enjoyed walking around the city and seeing the museum.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing James Taylor! One of the lowlights of the trip was that the high seats and loud music made Kaitlyn feel sick, so they had to leave the arena before he even took the stage. 🙁
Edinburgh Castle. We enjoyed the views, but especially enjoyed meeting up with friends from home who happened to be here too.
In the military war memorial at the castle the boys tried to find their grandmother’s maiden name, McGinty. Drew was the first one to find it, winning his grandmother’s contest.
Most of the family enjoyed seeing Edinburgh from the ferris wheel. Kaitlyn and I enjoyed crepes from the ground instead.
Yesterday we toured the Palace of Holyrood House. We saw it from the outside a few days ago, but were not able to go in because the Queen was in residence. Kaitlyn declared it one of the best moments of her life. It was absolutely gorgeous inside, and we all loved it.
On to the BEST time of the year!! I have loved every single second since we drove away from school on the last day. I love it, love it, love it.
It is my time to say “yes, we can do that!” It is my time to sit and read freely with the kids without the pulls of sports and homework.
It is time for us all to just be.
We kicked the summer off on a fantastic note when we got to see Hamilton. We had been waiting for over a year for that performance!
In June we were able to to spend a fantastic week in the mountains with a whole bunch of our favorite people. All of these kiddos have known each other since they were babies, and they are still learning new ways to enjoy each other’s company. Their friendships are sweet gifts indeed.
We also anticipated and celebrated our new niece. I love being an aunt, and I adore my nieces and nephews with all of my heart. I can’t wait to meet this one. Our hearts are already full of love for her!
Zac wanted to attend a theater camp this summer. Since it is obvious that this is becoming a true love for him, we wanted to make that happen and signed him up for “Camp Broadway.” This camp is led by a group from New York who travel around the country and do one week in a city, working intensively for one week to put on a production. We have done a few theater camps, and expected a regular camp production on the last day. What a treat for us that it was INCREDIBLE! We learned that Zac can sing and dance as well as act, and loves doing it! They performed selections from “42nd Street,” and we loved every minute!
And we did swim team. Every single day of the week. There are not very many activities that all of my children (and my niece and nephew) can all participate in at the same time. That is a big part of what makes this my very favorite one. Not to mention that I love every little thing about summer swimming. I happily threw my name out there to be the coordinator of the team, and although it was a tremendous amount of work, it was also a tremendous amount of fun. To me, the weeks of summer swim team are the best weeks of the whole year. I can’t believe they are already behind us.
We topped this off with the Fourth of July in the mountains with family. We started the day off with a momma and 3 cub bear sighting, then took home a first and second place ribbon in the bike contest, ate great food, had great company, and enjoyed the fireworks over the lake.
Ok, so I have not done well at blogging. And it isn’t because I don’t have things to blog about. Multiple times I have sat down to write but then remembered that I hadn’t written about such and such and needed to do that first, and suddenly I’m in a rabbit hole of unwritten blogs.
Since we are on an incredible adventure right now that I absolutely want to blog about, I thought I would just catch up the best I can and then I can get on to the current stuff.
If you are not my mother, mother-in-law, or godmother, you might not care about this very long update, but since I keep these blogs for my own records, I’m getting it in anyway!
We have done an extraordinary amount of traveling in 2018.
Jeff and I got to go cruise with his company. We went to a chocolate factory and enjoyed the Carribean.
My kids got their first sight of Davidson College, my alma mater.
This was on our way to West Virginia where we took our three oldest on a ski trip with some of our favorite friends.
We spent Easter in Chicago with all the aunts and cousins. Besides the very long drive with at one point THREE carsick kids, we had a fantastic time. 🙂
We had a follow up appointment in Ohio where we got GOOD news for the first time, and a planned surgery was cancelled! Instead of the recovery we were expecting, we got to enjoy the time together. Drew got to see a Cheetah for the first time in person, and we all got to ride a camel.
But shortly after we got home Drew dropped a bottle on Kai’s hand, spraining his finger. Kai is never going to let Drew forget it. He says this was worse pain than all of his surgeries (he is known to be just a tad dramatic).
We also got to have some fun with eggs to find out if the new cousin to join the crew was going to be a boy or a girl. We can’t wait to meet this sweet GIRL! 🙂
Kaitlyn wrote a report about Jimmy Carter, giving us a chance to make the trip to Plains, GA to meet him in person. We all loved the experience of listening to him speak and seeing where he grew up.
We tried to get some dental work done. It didn’t go well. Now we still have dental work that needs doing. Sigh.
We did the regular things too. We went to tennis matches, soccer games, and swimming lessons. So much tennis, and soccer, and swimming. Oh, and dance of course. Oh, and drums. So much of all the things.
Geez, I even missed some birthdays.
Kai turned 6 (In February :(), and the girls turned 9 and 8. We had some parties. 😉
Pj themed this year for the girls’ family party.
There were a couple of major haircuts! Both of these boys were thrilled with their new looks (Kai’s mohawk was mean to be temporary fun, but he managed to be rocking this look on class picture day. I guess it is now with us forever…)
This really deserves a post of its own, but Kai graduated from preschool, ending a ten year stretch of having a preschooler. The last days were full of all the feels, and I think I can just now look at these pictures without tearing up.
My final preschool carpool. (Mae was happier than she looks. She just didn’t want me to take a picture right then). These guys are the best of buddies, and loved being together. I’m going to miss these drives with them so very much.
Actually, I’m going to miss every little thing about this so very much. Forget it, the tears are back again.
That wraps up a pretty epic spring that moved quickly into summer….
Hello blog, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.
I do have a New Year’s resolution to publish 18 blogs in 2018. I guess I didn’t get a great start in January, but better late than never.
I wanted to start off with a Kai update, because that is what has taken the biggest chunk of our time as of late.
Big picture, Kai is okay. He is going to be okay. He is going to live his sweet loving little guy life and be OKAY.
Smaller picture, this is a hard season. It is hard.
Kai had major surgeries in January, July, and December of 2017 with a couple of minor procedures in between. The long story short is that the July surgery failed and had to be repeated along with a new surgery in December. The verdict is still out on whether the December surgery can be considered a success, but at the very least 2 out of the 3 parts of the most recent surgery will have to be repeated.
His little body just does not want to do things the easy way, or indeed the typical way.
So we spent a week in Columbus, Ohio in December, and another 9 days in Ohio this month.
Let it be said that I am incredibly grateful. We have a surgery team that specializes in exactly Kai’s multiple birth defects, and they collaborate and communicate, and let me feel confident in his care.
We have been lucky enough to stay at the Ronald McDonald house where we feel at home, have room to play, are fed delicious meals, etc. The Ronald McDonald house is an incredibly worthy organization, and what they do for families who have to travel for their children’s medical care is AMAZING. I’m also certain that my kids feel like they went on an incredible vacation, just from spending a couple of days there!
I’m thankful to have a fantastic Grama who brought my girls up to be with us, decreasing our homesickness, and a Nana and aunties at home loving on my bigs.
I’m thankful to have a dear friend in Ohio who is happy to love on me and my kiddos when we are far away from the comforts of home.
I’m thankful that we successfully managed the Ohio snow, which presented some traveling difficulties to this Southern girl, but a lot of extra fun for the kiddos.
I’m thankful for my rock star husband who juggles a gazillion things with ease and cares for my heart every single day. Not to mention that he chaperoned a bunch of middle school and high school students on a mission trip while I was gone! How amazing is he??
I’m thankful that Kai has maintained his joyful spirit. So much to be grateful for.
Plus in the end, we are talking about issues that will remain issues throughout his life, but we are not talking about life or death issues. It is never far from my mind and heart that there are lots of mommas out there who are dealing with life and death issues.
Still, this season is hard. My heart hurts for the medical trauma that surfaces in Kai in even routine procedures. His terror over something such as getting his blood pressure taken is a result of a lifetime culmination of painful and scary experiences, many of which he had to deal with before he had a mommy and a daddy there to hold his hand and wipe his tears.
My heart hurts for the day to day medical procedures that he has to deal with at home. Most of the days he does everything without complaint, but the occasional question of, “why am I not normal like the other kids?” shows me that there are deeper levels of pain inside of him.
My heart hurts as I worry about the future. I can only look at his medical needs in a short-term fashion or I get overwhelmed and scared. This does me no good as the champion for my son, so I try to remain focused on the present.
So for now will keep going onward. We will continue praying. We will continue loving our little guy with hearts absolutely bursting with love. And we will continue kissing that sweet face and feel incredibly blessed to be his parents.