Living in the Journey

“Hit it!”

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We ended the Northern California part of our journey in the best possible way: water skiing on Lake Tahoe.

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Davey grew up skiing on the lake, and 21 years ago he taught me to ski there. Now it was time for the kidlets to learn.

Although the boys gave a valiant effort, and loved rocking the wetsuits, it was The Girl who was the most determined to make it happen.

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And I loved watching her determination.

The persistence, the strong will, the absolute refusal to quit.

It isn’t an easy skill to learn, and it isn’t an easy place to learn, either. The water is so cold, and that feeling of floating there in the enormous lake, shivering, as the boat circles around to once again pass you the rope is not exactly a fun feeling.

But I knew by the look in her eyes that she would not quit.

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And then finally the time came. She was ready.

Her sweet little voice yelled out, “Hit it!”

Davey took off, and she popped up. For two whole seconds, she was skiing.

We all cheered and yelled.

I was so proud of her and happy for her. Not because it was the best ski run ever, and not because I have visions of her being a professional water athlete.

But because she saw what it was like to stick it out, even when it isn’t exactly fun anymore, and have it pay off.

She saw that grit and guts are very, very good things to have. It’s a lesson I hope she  never forgets.

Ever.

As we went back to get her, all three of her brothers were smiling and happy for her, and as we reviewed the highlights of the day, watching their sister get up definitely made the cut.

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I love this more than they will ever know.

All of our time wasn’t spent on the water. We also visited the Bay Area and Sacramento, taking in all of the sights. Sea Lions, Cable Cars, Boats, and Bridges filled our days.

Throughout this Northern California time we ate great food, drank great coffee, and reconnected with more friends and family. We also met up with wonderful people who had been in our youth group years ago, and got in quality time with two girls who think nothing of spending hours talking with the kidlets and their stuffed animals.

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All in all, it was awesome.

We are three weeks into the journey. 3900 miles, 65 hours in the car.

And now we head east.

See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Not About Baseball

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About 30 years ago Davey and his dad walked into Candlestick Park for the first time. They had just moved up to the Bay Area, and they were there to take in a San Francisco Giants game.

Will Clark, Robby Thompson, and Matt Williams were all on the field, and Davey was hooked.

About 30 years before that, my father-in-law, Scott, had walked into a stadium with his father to see the New York Giants play.

Willie Mays was on the field, and Scott was hooked.

Two nights ago, Davey and I walked into AT&T Park with all four of our children. We were there to see the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants play.

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Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, and Brandon Crawford were on the field, and although the kidlets were already hooked, they now love it even more.

As we sat there and ate garlic fries, yelled along with the bleacher chants, and danced to Steve Perry, I couldn’t help but think about the history of this team and our family.

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Davey and I went to games together before we had kids. We went when I was pregnant, and when J was an infant in a backpack. When the older boys were 5 and 8, they collected cans and did odd jobs to earn money to go to a game and buy souvenirs.

Not too long after that we moved away from the West Coast. Although we caught the Giants on the road a few times, we had not been back to AT&T Park.

Until now.

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The kidlets had once again done special chores to earn money for souvenirs, and we made sure to enjoy every moment of the night.

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The Giants didn’t win. But that’s okay. Because that night wasn’t about baseball.

It was about family. And connections. And history and tradition.

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It was about dancing and yelling and cheering.

And it was about being together, sharing something we love.

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Go Giants!

See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Scoop of Vanilla with a Little Bit of Caramel

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“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.”
― Jamie Tworkowski

My dear cousin introduced me to this quote during one of our stops on our journey. And I love it.

I absolutely love it.

Because this portion of our trip has been all about the people.

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We saw friends and family, friends who are family, and family who are friends. We saw a bunch of people, and not enough people. We talked and laughed, listened and cried.

We asked the tough questions and heard the tough answers, told happy stories and sad stories. We listened and learned, knew and were known.

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One of my favorite times was when we went to visit my grandmother. She lives in an assisted-living facility and, to be honest, I was a bit nervous about what it would be like. What I saw made me so happy. When we first got there we ran into a large group of people who were also on their way to visit her, and she welcomed us all with a huge smile.

She took us all around, introduced us to her friends, and proudly showed us the garden she helped plant.

She wanted to take us to lunch at the little Bistro, but after nearly nine decades her feet just aren’t as nimble as they used to be. The solution was for her to cruise along in her wheelchair, greeting everyone as she rolled along.

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She knew them and they knew her. I teased her about being so popular and she just giggled.

During our meal, her twin sister came to chat for a while and a few other friends stopped by to say hello.

My favorite part of the visit happened at the end of the meal. The server came to see if we wanted dessert, and she looked at my grandma and said, “I know what you want. A scoop of vanilla with a little bit of caramel.”

My grandma just smiled, and later said it was the perfect little treat.

There are several residents in the facility, covering the full spectrum of physical and cognitive abilities. From independent living to advanced Alzheimer’s care, the residents are treated with dignity and respect, to the point of knowing their favorite dessert.

It was tough to say goodbye, as it always is, but I also felt so relieved knowing she is happy. She was about to go and listen to her favorite accordion player, and she was looking forward to doing some art in the coming week.

And I know that when she wants something sweet, she will get her scoop of vanilla with a little bit of caramel.

For this next part of our journey, we are home. Not home home, because that won’t come until the end of July, but Northern California home.

This is where we met, fell in love, and got engaged. It is where we had our first career jobs, learned how to live as husband and wife, and where all four of the kidlets were born. The sights, sounds, and smells are comfortingly familiar, and there are memories around every corner.

As much as we like to wander and explore and seek adventure, sometimes it’s nice to just come home for a bit.

So here we are.

See you soon.

 

 

Lesson from the Littles

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In this first week of our journey, I sure have learned a lot from the two youngest kids. We call them The Littles. Now, I know that 4th and 5th graders aren’t normally considered little, but in this family, they are. The older two are The Boys and the younger two are The Littles. That’s just how it is.

We spent three wonderful days camping in Flagstaff, AZ. Those days were full of dirt, relaxing, campfires, and outdoor living. You know, all of the things that make life just a little bit better.

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One of the days that we were there we went and explored the Grand Canyon. It was beautiful and incredible and breathtaking and all of the adjectives you would expect when you go and see one of the Natural Wonders of the World. We stood and looked and pondered the wonder of it all and our insignificance and our significance and all of the Thoughts You Think at the Grand Canyon.

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Well, all of us except Jar. Jar was more interested in the people. As we walked through the parking lot, he read all of the license plates. He wondered about the families, where they came from, and where they were going. He listened to the accents he heard, watched the different customs taking place, and wanted to know more about the lives of the people he saw. He was fascinated by everyone around us, noticing the little things that we all ignored.

As we pushed past the people to stare and watch and think, he saw the people and wanted to know their story.

I want to be more like my son.

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When the camping was over, we came back down to the Greater Phoenix Area. The Girl had some softball to play and we had some cheering to do.

This is The Girl’s first year playing fast pitch softball. She played baseball for five years before this and knows the fundamentals, but this was her first time with the bows and the cheers and all the softballness. She loved it. She is still a bit confused about the bow, but she loves softball.

Her team went undefeated for the regular season, and the pitcher was incredible. I’m talking several no-hitters, way beyond the rest of the league incredible. Strike after strike after strike. It sure was impressive.

The Girl plays 3rd base and shortstop, and I never got tired of watching her out there. Every single pitch of every single inning, she was ready. She would hop into position, glove down, eager to make a play. Now, 19 times out of 20 there was no play to be made, but she didn’t care. She was ready.

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She received no attention, no glory, and most of the time there was no external reward for her actions. But that didn’t stop her. Every pitch, every inning, every game. Doing her job to the best of her abilities, no matter what.

I want to be more like my daughter.

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So now we are off again, ready to see what we see and learn what we learn. Oh, and also enjoy the company of our kids, who are pretty awesome people.

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See you much later, Arizona.

Nevada, Oregon, and Washington… we’re coming for ya.

See you soon.

 

 

 

 

Living in the Journey

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“I’m just a young boy, living in the journey…”

Those are the lyrics to a song my youngest son wrote. One time I asked him what the song meant, and his response was simple.

“Well, Mom. It means that I’m just a young boy. And I’m living in the journey.”

Awesome.

I love it.

Living in the journey. And I get to live there with him.

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This summer our family is living in an extended journey. My husband is a teacher, so he has the next two months off. He’s also switching schools and districts, which means we are moving as well. We had two options: Move in to our new neighborhood in June and spend the summer in the Valley of the Sun (uh….), or throw our stuff in storage and travel the country.

We’re traveling.

Duh.

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For the next 60 days we are traveling all over the Lower 48. West Coast, East Coast, Northwest, the South… you name it, we’ll be there. Seeing friends and family, exploring new places, visiting our favorite spots. Camping, hotels, couches… we’re doing this.

And I’m going to chronicle it all here. Because that’s what I do.

So… before we get started, I’d like to introduce you to the characters in this journey.

“J”

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J is Jeremy. He is 15 and just finished his Freshman year of high school. He likes reading, music, and all things baseball.

“The Kid”

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The Kid is Micah. He is 12 and just finished 6th grade. He loves building, creating, and all things baseball.

“The Girl”

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The Girl is Alexis. She is 10 and just finished 4th grade. It is because of her that we get to explore all of the National Parks for free! She loves drawing, writing, and all things baseball and softball.

“Jar”

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Jar is Elijah. He is eight and just finished 3rd grade. He loves camping, swimming, and all things baseball.

“Davey and Jane”

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We are Davey and Jane. We love our family, traveling, and all things baseball and softball.

“Marvin”

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Marvin is Dr. Leo Marvin, our 7-month old lab-mix. We were told he was lab/golden retriever. We see the lab… He loves playing, sleeping, and all things chewing.

“Goliath”

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Goliath is our new tent. We figured that since we would be spending at least 2/3 of the next 60 nights in a tent, we might as well get a good one. It fits 14 people. We are a family of six, so this is a very good thing.

And here we go.

Just a family, living in the journey. Maybe you’ll join us!

See you soon!