Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Claire's Excellent All-By-Herself Vacation

Last Thursday right after lab, Christine took me to the airport, where I proceeded to fly to Ohio for the weekend.  All.  By. Myself.  This little trip was a few months in the making.  Back in the middle of January Amy called to me tell me that the school system we graduated from was celebrating its 50th anniversary with a concert by Michael W. Smith on March 9.  Our other good friend Julie was going to be in town for it--was there any way I could come?  Of course I immediately said no.  March 9 is right in the middle of my busiest time--teaching at TNT for the 2 weeks before, and leading the end-of-unit field trip on March 12.  So there was just no way.

But then I got to thinking:  what if just Drew and I flew out?  I searched around and found a good price on a direct flight.  Bob gave the green light, so I bought the tickets.   As the day got closer, Drew was sleeping better and better, and he had taken formula bottles just fine . . . so I decided to not take him either.  I did bring my breast pump, which got quite a workout, though, LOL.

And it was absolutely wonderful.  I can not even describe the feeling of freedom as I just went wherever I wanted, and no one needed me at all! And the quiet . . . it was amazing! It was such a refreshing time.

When I got up Friday I first visited my friend Anja who had just had her 4th baby back in January.  She and her family are PCSing this summer, so I was so glad to get in one last visit in person before they move!  The visit wasn't long enough, but I had to go meet another friend for lunch.  Marie and I went to college together while our husbands were both active duty Air Force.  We reconnected several years ago in an unusual way.  Several years ago I became friends with Bob's boss's wife Tonya, even though we have (still!) never met in person.  Tonya and Marie are good friends, and eventually Tonya put it together that Marie and I had known each other.  Anyhow, Marie and I had plans for lunch--without any of our combined 17 children!  It was so nice to chat and catch up completely uninterrupted! 

After lunch, I did some shopping, and then I went back to my parents' house to do some work on the upcoming field trip.  That was all the work I did though--I did NOT bring my biology book!  I caught up on all my parents' Christmas letters (they keep in contact with a TON of people), and I even started reading a book just for pleasure.  Imagine!

Saturday was the big day.  After exercising (!), Amy and Julie picked me, and we went out to lunch.  We had a delicious Mexican meal at Abuelo's.  Then we all headed back to Amy's house to talk some more.  We never run out of things to talk about!  We left for the concert a little before 5:00.  There was a reception for alumni and teachers there as well.  It was so fun to catch up with former teachers, including my high school biology teacher!  I got to tell him about my life as a homeschooling, high-school-biology teaching, mother of 9.  Believe me when I say that was certainly not my life plan back in high school!

Before the actual concert, several videos were shown. One had a lot of well-known Christians, like Joni Earikson Tada and Josh McDowell, talking about DC, and what the school means to them. Another had pictures from the history, and the last had current teachers and students talking about DC. I really enjoyed all the videos!

Michael W. Smith had a great concert!  I find it funny that I have not gone to a concert in years and years, and here I have gone to 2 concerts in the past 3 weeks!  Apparently I only go see well-established artists though--Third Day just celebrated their 20th anniversary, and Michael W. Smith has been performing for 30 years.  No "flash in the pan" singers for me, LOL.  Anyhow, I knew all the songs he sung, so that was nice, and it was a good time of worship as well.  He said he had over 190 songs to choose from!  Of course he sang "Friends are Friends Forever".  He said that when he wrote that song back in the late 80's he never dreamed he'd be singing it for the rest of his life, LOL. 

The concert was done a little after 9:00, which was like 10:00 because of the impending time change, sigh.  But we grabbed a quick bite to eat afterward, since we hadn't eaten dinner beforehand.  I spent the night at Amy's, so at least I didn't have to drive back to Mom and Dad's.  But I did have to pump when we got home!

Sunday morning I drove to the base chapel to go to church with Mom and Dad.  Their combined choir from the 3 base chapels was performing their Easter cantata that morning.  The lady who directed it was so joyously enthusiastic about it!  Her enthusiasm was very contagious, and I think everyone enjoyed the cantata!  Afterward, Mom and Dad took me out to the Officers' Club for brunch.  It was delicious, and made even better by the fact that all I had to worry about was my *ONE* plate, not plates for 3-4 other kids up and down each arm!  They had a chocolate fountain with lots of strawberries . . . my favorite!

After brunch I pumped again, then took a nap (!).  All too soon it was time to pack up everything and head to the airport.  I thoroughly enjoyed a quiet flight back, reading my book so peacefully. 

I was so thankful I was able to be gone as long as I was.  Just one or two nights would not have been long enough.  I felt like I was able to come up to the surface and take a few deep breaths before diving back in until the end of May.  And I was ready to see everyone again by Sunday evening!  I was greeted by all sorts of eager hugs and smiles, which was nice.  It is nice to be missed!

But Bob and the kids did great while I was gone.  Everything ran smoothly, even things like getting to Luke's all-star basketball practices and game.  Caleb and Luke made chili-mac Thursday night, and then Bob made ribs on Friday, a stunning success!  They had a fire in the firepit Saturday night, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. 

So now we're back in our regular routine.  My milk supply did suffer a little bit, I think, so Drew has been eating a little more frequently, although he's still been sleeping really well at night.  Now--to make it until May 23 . . .

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