M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I and Music City

Sunday Sept. 28 Day 48

Ash, since learning the state song, has asked to go to Mississippi, I guess because it’s just so fun to say, it must be the most fun place in the world! It’s not on our itinerary but we’ll be passing through Memphis, a border city just miles from the MS line we obliged our 3-year-old explorer and another dream come true.(even if only for 10 minutes)

We made a geocaching trip out of it which led us to a target parking lot. (whisper: it was in the light post) When we lifted the cover to expose the cache, bugs fell out. Not just any bugs. THE. BIGGEST. BUGS. I. HAVE. EVER. SEEN. ever. Because this one was hers, Ash was excited to grab the container until we saw the bugs. She cried, I ran and Papa Bear was left to fend for himself against these big bugs. Did I mention they were dead?

We scooted around Memphis and entered Nashville to walk the streets of Music City and enjoy burgers at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. As we wandered dusk in the most musical of places in our country we heard rock, country, blues and folk. The music poured from bars, restaurants and mainly from the musicians on the streets.

It was amazing. (Darryl and I will be returning here for sure!) As we waited for our table we danced on the sidewalk and enjoyed the southern sunset.

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Sitting in the restaurant, live music ringing in our ears, the surprising tunes of our favorite playlist including our wedding song which we rarely ever hear without having requested it, we couldn’t help but stand up and dance right there in the middle of the crowded tables.

Nashville is the kind of place I wish we’d planned on spending more time in, we’re anxious to how close we are to home though so off we go!

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Quadrennial

Linen, the recommended gift of a 4th anniversary. Ours is today. Four years since we tied the knot. Four years since we got hitched and attached the old ball and chain.

Sorry for the expressions but this year our wedding has as much meaning as it did the day we did it. Which we didn’t even want to do.
That doesn’t sound right… let me explain.

When we were younger and hadn’t yet met, we both explicitly did not want to get married. Neither of us wished for a family, a house or kids, none of it. I’ve explained this before but if you haven’t read it read it now.

I was never happier until I met him. He is kind. Gentle. Sweet. Strong. Silent. Safe. Everything I never thought I’d find attractive but even now after nine years together and four years married we still got it!

Whatever IT is.

It’s something different for every couple and for us it’s the look in our children’s’ eyes when they’re swinging on a swing. It’s the way their hair falls down their back after pulling out their ponytail. Their deep peaceful breaths as they sleep.

This bond of being parents together. Seeing each other love our kids and take care of them is part of the glue that holds us.

Then there are the other bonds… the ones that really keep us together. The ones I don’t wish to divulge on the world wide web.

Four years of celebrating our marriage. Four years of wearing these rings. These rings that symbolize our never-ending love and commitment.

rings

Something about wearing this thing on my finger makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Barbaric as it is; I am owned. Owned by my husband and kids but I choose to be owned. Owned by the love that we share and fills our home and hearts.

I wish EVERYone in the world could feel this feeling. It abounds and I can only thank God every single day that I am lucky in love. As well as thank Him, I pray to continue being graced by this glorious love and to keep my family forever.

Our wedding song, Forever and ever, Amen, is perfect because I have had some medical troubles where my hair falls out in clumps. Just last night on our anniversary I say, “I’m going bald” Darryl responds I’ll love you anyway, even if you’re bald. Our song specifically mentions aging and “I ain’t in love with your hair. If it all fell out, I’d love you anyway.”

I can only hope these past four years are a great indication for the next forty years and the forty after that.

I love looking back at our wedding photos and I hope you enjoy them too.

Happy Anniversary!

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Vegas Baby

If you don’t already know, this part of our road trip is the sole purpose for the WHOLE trip.

Ten years ago, we came to this very city and ate at this very restaurant to celebrate this very woman.

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My beautiful mother-in-law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met her and her husband at their hotel a few hours after their plane landed. Its been a long time since we’ve seen familiar faces and the kids gobbled their grandma right up.

I have a feeling we overwhelmed her a bit but there was no way to contain their excitement.

We shared dinner together at the Rainforest Café where I managed to score a souvenir t-shirt on the basis of the struggles accompanying nursing an infant on the go. Like, when your milk leaks unexpectantly in public on the rare day you forget to wear a nursing pad and there are telltale wet circles on your shirt – instead of wearing my baby carrier without the baby in it, Papa Bear insisted I replace my shirt on the spot to be more comfortable.

We walked to the Bellagio with our unsuspecting bystanders and after several minutes of just standing around on the street they begin, “are we going , soon?” and “this is boring just standing here.” Seconds later those same tired and bored eyes are bulging from their sockets and dumbfoundedness falls upon their sweet angelic faces.

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I think the show on my gorgeous (I’m biased) daughter’s’ faces is much more to see than some stuffy Bellagio…

It was beautiful.

Luckily we had rented a car for our time here in Las Vegas and we had something of a hustle bustle shuffle life, like at home in PA, for a couple days.

After saying goodnight to Grandma and Nagy Papa, we drove back to the campground and called it a night.

Wednesday September 17…. Day 37

Today is the day of our birthday celebration. We made our way back to the strip and the MGM Grand to meet Grandma and Nagy Papa where we toured some hotels on our walk to Mandalay Bay and the Shark Reef Aquarium of predators. WE saw piranha and sharks among many other aquatic killers.

The girls really like the stingrays.

After our walk back to their hotel, we cleaned up and piled into our rented minivan to drive to the Venician for dinner.

We ate and talked with aunts and uncle and enjoyed a nice meal as a family.

After cake and several trips bringing little bladders to the bathroom it was time again to say goodnight.

The restaurant photos are courtesy of Nagy Papa.

Thursday Sept. 18….Day 38

Early to rise and off to drop our house at a local Dealer because our front slide motor is fried. It’s one headache after another with this hunk of plastic and particle board.

Anyway, after we dropped of our garbage heap of an RV we met Grandma and Nagy Papa at the Hoover Dam.

We didn’t go on the dam tour but we did walk around the dam museum, dam gift shop, dam observation deck and had fun learning about the electricity, generators and that it cost more money to divert the mighty Colorado River than to build the Hoover Dam.

I found it interesting to learn 96 people died constructing the dam and newspapers clippings detailing the deaths were quite colorful, siting electrocution and being crushed by a boulder.

It sparked the thought that in all great things there comes great sacrifice. I’m reminded of the Great Pyramids, the Parthenon and the Colloseum – all great feats of mankind, I’m sure took hundreds if not thousands of lives to their end. ..and such is life.

Well, after all the dam fun we said our final goodbyes as they had an early flight back east in the morning and we had to get our home, slide still out of commission. We spent one final night in the city because on Friday, we’re leaving Las Vegas.

I’ll cry if I want to

But I don’t need to. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! YAY!!!

Sunday, September 7…. Day 27

Another birthday on the road and this time, it’s mine.

I took Oliver for a nice long lakeside walk while Darryl cooked breakfast; my favorite, french toast! This birthday breakfast is especially memorable because just as I was about to take a bite he says, “we’re all out of cinnamon.” “Impossible,” I think to myself because I know I brought a shaker and a half from home and haven’t used a spec of it for the entire trip. Upon examination of the empty canister it reads “PAPRIKA”

I laughed because Darryl immediately says to Juniper (age 6) “did you bring me paprika?” she says, “I don’t know.”

Neither of them read the label so I sprinkled real cinnamon poured the syrup and filled my tummy.

I felt bad because he was all ready to remake it when it was tasty and delicious, even with the secret ingredient. Besides, not many gals are as blessed as I to have a doting husband cook her breakfast on her birthday. (love my husband)

After we dressed(and I do mean DRESSed) we went for a walk to the visitor’s center and took some family photos waiting for it to open.

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We got out postcards, JR booklets and went on to the lodge to see the grand hall and the history exhibit of the building. I love old wood work and this place was full of it. Built from it.

Of course, Darryl drives out of the lodge and the section of Rim Drive from the lodge down to the other visitor’s center where we saw an educational documentary about Crater Lake and earned our badges was a regular road with shoulders and guard rails and space to not die. No, the road of death was just for my pure enjoyment.

We ate lunch at the visitor’s center and camped at a campground in the park.

The thing about park campgrounds is it is difficult to get a spot at all and they have limited spaces with electric and/or full hookups.

This campground had 14 electric hookups, all of which were taken or for smaller rigs. Ours is 36′

As we decided to tease ourselves and check on the only 4 full hookups we were shocked, surprised, dumbfounded to have found one open and available! Darryl turns to me and says with a smile, “It is YOUR birthday!”

As blessed as I am and as much as I attribute my good fortune to choices I’ve made and the good grace of God, most would just say I’m lucky.

Darryl has even coined a phrase “Lisa Luck” referring to parking because somehow there seems to be an empty space in the first or second spot from the door just waiting for me when the rest of the lot is full.

Well it’s my birthday and we got full hookup which means not having to run this noisy smelly generator or worrying about running out of water ,not that we’re wasting it; but one less thing to worry about when washing hands or using the restroom.

Darryl let the kids play in the woods while he baked, yes HE BAKED, brownies and grilled burgers for dinner. Then they had roasted marshmallows before we all showered and watched Annie while eating our delicious treats.

Bedtime was easy-peasy as we were all worn out from exploring the lake, playing and getting good and dirty.

Aah! Happy Birthday to me. We ended the night just the two of us by the fire talking, stargazing, listening to the stillness and admiring the almost full moon.

“You don’t know how lucky you are!”

Oh, but I do. See, I chose this. All of it. It’s mine!

So many times people have told me I don’t know how lucky I am, referring to my wonderful husband. (Husband, not hubby, husband).

I cringe at these naysayers. I call them naysayers because as nice a compliment it might sound I take offense. They imply that I don’t know how good I have it or that I take my husband for granted. I DO know how good I have it and I DON’T take him for granted.

Part of what makes my relationship work is that it is not public information. We are private people and don’t share our bumps and dips. We don’t always share our praises either, it’s not in our nature. I take offense because it also implies that he is not as lucky as I am to have me as I am to have him. It implies that he’s too good for me or I don’t deserve to have him.

The fact of the matter is I never wanted to be married or have kids. As condescending as it sounds, it’s true. I NEVER WANTED THIS! The house; the kids; the husband, none of it! The fact is that any relationship I entertained in the past broke my heart in a million pieces. The fact is my parents were no good for each other and raised a family in a tumultuous environment because of it. The fact is I swore I would not end up like my parents, like my mother. I swore I would not bring children into this world for fear of them ending up like me. The fact is I felt I wasn’t good enough. I was the epitome of NO self esteem. Not low self esteem, NO self esteem. (keep in mind this paragraph is past tense)

Until I met him.

The story of us is long and complicated (and personal). Until I met him, I didn’t want any of those things because I didn’t believe there was anyone out there that would change all that for me. I was wrong times a million. There was someone out there for me but he didn’t change all that FOR me I changed it for myself. I saw and found a life in him I didn’t believe could exist for me. I was happy, for the first time in my life, I was happy with myself, then I was happy with him. We share a love and a life that no one could understand. It’s strong and true. It’s honest. That’s why we work.

I love my husband, I thank him constantly. I often wonder, if I hadn’t found him or he, me, where I would be. What would I be doing? I don’t know the answer but I do know that I would NOT be happy. I owe some version of my happiness to my husband but in most part I owe it to myself. Like I said, I CHOSE!

To the nay-sayers,

Out of envy, you deem me unworthy of a life and a man I have chosen and sought out and worked very hard to have for myself. You know not of what you speak so callously about. Maybe in your jealous heart you wish you had my husband or a husband like him. You can not have mine, but someone like that, is certainly attainable by anyone willing to do the work. I am not a life coach or relationship guru, I am however, very happy for my life and all the people in it. For that I am grateful. I will not take your criticism or cynicism to heart because I know that misery does love company and it is sad that unhappy people will try to tear apart the happy ones.

I quote the talented Alicia Keys, “People keep talking they can say what they like; But all I know is everything’s going to be alright” And, NO! no one can get in our way. “I know some people search the world to find something like what we have. I know people will try, try to divide, something so real. So till the end of time I’m telling you there ain’t no one.”

So, in conclusion, I appreciate that you notice how wonderful my husband is but I resent that you think I don’t deserve him or that I don’t know how wonderful he is. I do.

Signed,

Happily Married

For good measure and to have it on record here is a note especially for the man of the hour (every one of my hours).

 

My Dearest Darryl,

I love you more than words could express but in this I shall try. I love you. With all of my being. With every ounce of matter within this skin. Within and beyond the walls of this heart.

I vow to love you forever and ever. I vow to be your partner, your lover, your best friend. I will hold your hand at your best and especially at your worst. I trust myself and my heart with you. I bear your burdens as my own and whole heartedly appreciate all that you are and all that you do. I know how lucky I am despite my belief that it is not luck. I choose you just as you choose me.

I will choose US over all else.

With all my love and that of the universe,

Me