Another leg of the adventure

I am sitting on the plane to New Orleans.  I am so excited!  I have the awesome opportunity to attend the American School Counselors Association conference.  My school sponsored me to attend and I feel so happy!  I've had ZERO opportunities to sit down and actually write about our going ons in America!  I have to say I've been so happy/content/peaceful here even though we've been busy.  It wasn't until the terrible news yesterday of the police shootings and following riots that I just felt fed up and ready to get back to Fiji.   I am even a little nervous heading to New Orleans....just because I know riots can happen and there are guns everywhere.   But.....I digress and truly the trip has been SO positive...I shouldn't start in on the violence note to start with--- it is just weighing so heavily on my heart.

The last I wrote we were in Duck, NC for the family trip.   I love that place.  The town of Duck reminds me of an old fashioned beach town with modern amenities.   It's gorgeous and good old wholesome fun.   There are candy shops and toy stores and board walks and bike paths and a beautiful beach.   It's not crowded as there are no hotels...only huge rented houses.  It's the kind of place you want to go back to year and year again for that quality family time.  We had a lot of that much needed quality family time in our week there.  I love watching the cousins play.  They have strong bonds...which seems to get stronger every year.  Even when they argue, they have figured out how to work it out and laugh minutes later.   They are all getting to the age that the vacations are easier.  It's no longer the days of carrying 500 pounds of stuff down to the beach (only about 300 now).   The girls LOVED the waves, but commented on how there is no way you can snorkel in that water.

Warren and I had a date night out and invited Anne to join at a nice seafood restaurant on the bay.  We had an awesome crab picking dinner at home for Fred's 40th birthday.  It was awesome!  We had the most yummy BLT's on a blanket on the beach for our last night.  We had LOADS and LOADS of sweets.  It was all delicious.  (Now after being in the States for 3 weeks I've gained 11 pounds - I'm not exaggerating. How can you work so hard to lose weight and then gain it so easily???!  Oh well, I think each lb is worth it!)

This was the first time the whole family was together without Glen.  As Anne said, we felt him hovering all week.   I really missed him.  It was hard to be there without him.  His absence was deeply felt.  But again, I think it was really good for all of us to be together.  Glen loved Duck and I believe he would be happy that we were all there with each other.

Luckily we didn't have to say goodbye to everyone at the end of the trip because we will be able to eat lunch with them next week before we have to get on the plane back to Fiji.

It was Fred's 40th while we were there.  We had the best crab dinner! 

We also celebrated Andie and Colin's soon to be birthdays.

dancing in the rain!

wet Amma hugs

We went to see a band and Andie got to get on stage.  She even got a guitar pick. She was SO excited!

Bula Wear for the clan

After such a good week with family, we went to spend a few days with friends on the Chesapeake Bay.   The drive there was pretty crazy.   We went through a lot of rural areas and I was reminded of that part of America.   My phone wasn't working at the time, so I was unable to take photos of the 4 gun shops we passed.  Each one had a huge sign outside - GUNS, GUNS, GUNS - and Pawn shop...or whatever.  I was pretty blown away because I guess I just forget that part of life. We also stopped at a delicious Mexican buffet on the way.  OMG.  Yum.   We then stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few things for the bay house.  Holy American grocery store!  I was crazy overwhelmed!  Part of me felt like my brain may explode from all of the options, and part of me was excited by it all!   SO many choices and so easy to eat healthy if you choose to!

this is another store, but kids were crazy excited about the card selection

Anyway, Susan and Steven graciously hosted us at the bay house for the 4th of July.   Talk about an All American experience for the holiday!   It was incredible!  As soon as we got there we took the kids down to the rainy beach for obstacle courses and shaving cream tower building while the guys played volleyball.   I love how organized my friends are - organizing games, crafts, and even a parade for the kids!  After the beach games, we hurried back to the house to get ready for the first annual Bavon Beach July 4 parade!   It was so awesome!  The kids (and adults) all marched up and down the road - banging pots and pans, doing cartwheels (Zoe took that job very seriously and did incredibly well), and just having fun!   We stopped half way through to say the pledge and sing A Grand Old Flag for the neighbors.   I hope the girls remember that Independence Day experience forever.  Check out the phone video of the parade here: Bavon Parade

After the parade, we went to a friend's house for more delicious crab and shrimp and celebrating.   It was really nice to reconnect with everyone.  There were sunset golf cart rides and corn hold games. The night ended with a dance party which brought us into the wee hours of the morning - with lots of laughs, shouting out Neil Diamond songs, and headaches the next morning!    Eight kids slept in one room together and had their own crazy fun.  I love that they have such freedom at the bay to run around barefoot and explore - kinda reminded me of Fiji.

The next day we took a walk to the point of the peninsula, ate an awesome dinner (thanks to Warren) and hung out once again too late.  The kids were so happy.  We were so happy.   It was a really memorable, nice time - even though it was rainy and cold (yes cold in July is odd) the whole time.   I wouldn't change a thing.

We woke up very early the next morning to get ourselves together to FINALLY go and see BeBe and PapPap (my parents).   The kids were freaking out - so excited!  Zoe counted down for the last quarter of the car ride.   I'm pretty sure my parents were pretty psyched as well.  When we arrived there were many hugs, then the kids raced out to see the gnome/fairy house.  My parents have built this house for fairies and gnomes and the most hilarious part is that all of these gnomes and fairies just keep showing up.   Mom was worried that maybe it would be an eye sore for neighbors, but at least some neighbors are enjoying it because she keeps being surprised by the gnomes/fairies that show up!   The girls LOVE this and of course believe that while everyone is sleeping the fairies come alive and more and more fairies are showing up to live in this fairy house.   We may or may not have snuck out a few extra fairies while they were sleeping too! ;)

This gnome and bird bath just showed up while we were here this week!  No clue where from!

We came into yummy donuts (more lbs) and had another delicious BLT dinner.  We also went to Target and the girls went nuts.  They haven't seen that many toys in forever.  They wanted everything.  That's the side of Target that I could leave behind!   We went into another grocery store and Warren and I couldn't stop putting everything we could into the cart.  OMG- the free samples.  Forgot about that too!  Yum!  I mean really, who can turn down free samples - especially when it's gourmet cheese?!

On Wednesday, we took a trip down memory lane and canoed the North Anna river.  This river trip holds such a place in my heart as we probably floated that river over 20 times in my childhood.   I took this river trip with so many friends and family- sharing great memories.   While it took a lot of coordination to set up, we finally all got on the river.  My mom and I shared a canoe while my dad and Warren each shared a canoe with the girls.  (The girls thought they'd be faster than us).   We had a grand time! We laughed a lot (especially when I got caught in a tree or when we came down every rapid backwards) and just simply enjoyed the beauty of our surroundings and each other's company as we floated down.   Kudos to my parents for thinking of doing it with us.  It was really special.  We came home for a tomato pie dinner and once again another late night for the girls.

Tomato pie.  Delicious.

Yesterday, Warren went back to Fiji since he had to be back for work.   It was hard to say goodbye to him.  The night before I cried a little in bed to him, as I'm probably just overwhelmed with emotion.  I'm so happy to be home and I love our life in Fiji too.  It just feels so far away there and I'm dreading the moment when our closest friends leave.  I am trying to not pre-grieve and just simply live in each moment...but sometimes I'm just overwhelmed.  I think I'm just tired honestly and love everyone here so much that it's hard to think about leaving again.  But, then when I'm there, I'm so happy to be there and feel like the luckiest girl alive to live the life we live.  I don't feel lonely there and feel as if we've made the greatest's just hard to be away from these friends and family too.

After he left, I spent 5 horrible hours at the dentist for myself and the girls.   The girls were fine but it turns out I have three cavities and a broken filling.  I freakin' hate the dentist.   Not the actual I actually love our dentist in Richmond and trust him more than anyone I've ever visited in the medical profession - but just hate that no matter how much effort I put into my teeth (floss daily, brush 2-3 times a day, and use mouthwash daily) I get cavities.    I HATE getting dental work done.   Basically, yesterday sucked.  Warren left.  I found I have cavities.   I went bra shopping and had to look at my gut for hours....And...bigger than ALL of that....the gun violence and race relations in our country have serious problems.  It makes me feel sick and I cannot even pretend to know how Black people really feel living in fear. I tried talking to Zoe about it this morning but probably didn't do a good job.  Need to discuss again....regularly.  Anyway, I also found out it will cost us $800 USD for me to get my teeth worked on here by the dentist I love, so I guess it will have to happen in Fiji - fingers crossed he can do it.   Ugh.

Luckily, today was a better day.   Eighteen years ago, in June 1998, five friends, their moms, and me and my mom put together a time capsule.  With some coordination, we were all able to meet today and open up the relics of our youth!   It was such a special day.  It felt so nice to see everyone again and remember our crazy times together.  We ate lunch together and mused about what could be in this time capsule?!  We finally opened the capsule and laughed so hard we cried...numerous times.   The things we focused on in the past were hilarious!  We then put together another capsule to open up 10-15 years from now!   We added things like photos (lots of photos), i phone boxes, yeti cooler adds, new light bulbs, magazines and newspapers, gas receipts, dvds, and other assorted things of the time.   We also answered a lot more questions to look back on years from now.   My heart was warm throughout the whole thing.

And now....I am still sitting on this runway 1 hour 15 minutes later....stuck due to storms.  Oh well....I know I'll still get to New Orleans, and when I do I'll have more to blog about.


What an awesome conference! I'm back now.  I learned SO much and feel rejuvenated in my field! I LOVE my profession!  It's challenging and rewarding and exciting.  It was so so good to reconnect with colleagues/friends and even better to do it in New Orleans!  I am going back to school with so many ideas.... I need to spend a lot of time with the materials and let it all soak in.  I feel so incredibly fortunate that I was able to go.  It was exactly what I needed (and exactly what I cannot get in Fiji).

 I wish I got more pictures though.

Jodi and I being silly.   I had SO MUCH FUN with her! 

So so good to reconnect with colleagues/friends!
Adam picked me up from airport. I finally got to see his truck!

Oyster Po'Boy. Yum.

PS. Here are a few pictures of the cherished grandparent time while I was gone.

Chai tea

Zoe enjoying a drink from "her restaurant" .  She was cold with all this AC so she has a blanket on...