Friday, June 15, 2012

another letter to the children :: a father's day post

dear kavi, paisley, and carter,
you are such lucky children. you have a father who loves you so much. he is very present in your lives and watches each of you grow with such admiration. he smiles as soon as he walks in the door from work and is greeted by his children running up to him. he hugs each of you and picks up carter to kiss her over and over again. he plays with you. he changed each of your diapers when you were babies. he wipes boogers and cleans up yucky spills.  he takes you on walks around our neighborhood and rents the latest pixar/disney movies for you and watches them with you. he takes you on individual daddy dates when you fill your sticker chart. he works hard for our family and always makes sure that we are taken care of. he loves your mommy and he took such good care of me when each of you were in my belly. he cried when each of you were born and held you with such pride. i couldn't imagine you having a better daddy. 

last week, you all got sick. paisley threw up around 10 am, then kavi at 7:00 pm. paisley, you were so lathargic and worn out, and weak from being so sick. every time you threw up, daddy would run to your side and rub your back. he then wiped your mouth and gave you water. at night time, we set up beds for you guys on the floor in our room with bowls and paper towels on hand. i finally fell asleep after worrying about the little sleep we'd all be getting and if carter would get sick too.

in the middle of the night, i heard your father calling my name from carter's room.
i got out of bed and walked to carter's room to see your father holding you, carter, and you were covered in throw up. he was smiling and telling me how cute you are, even when your covered in throw up. he tenderly undressed you as i drew a bath. as i watched him take care of you so gently and lovingly, i started to cry. he wasn't mad that it was the middle of the night, or that he had to change ALL your crib bedding, or that he was losing sleep, but he was loving the extra time caring for you. then he wrapped you up in a warm towel and cleaned it all up as i dressed you. you were so happy despite not feeling well and for about an hour, your dad and i adored every minute with you. 

when it was time to go back to sleep, he offered to sleep next to you on the floor of brother's room so i could go sleep next to brother and sister. we made a bed for the both of you, with a bowl and towels, and he tenderly sang to you as i went back to bed. 

kavi, i hope you're just like your father when you grow up and become a dad.
paisley & carter, marry a man who will take care of your children, JUST like your daddy did for you.
i love your dad. we're are so lucky. never forget that.

happy father's day my love.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

a letter to my children :: a vacation to remember

dear children,
on may 23, 2012 we packed up our beloved minivan along with nana and drove up a couple states to virginia. our destination was virginia beach. as soon as the eight hour drive was over (in which you all did excellent, might i add), we took off our shoes and walked to the beach after checking into our hotel. we were waiting for uncle brandon, aunt annette, cole, and reade to arrive from washington dc. they had flown in the previous day from missouri and were driving to the coast to meet us at the naval lodge on base which was right, i mean RIGHT on the beach. we only waiting an hour or so for them and you all took advantage of the beautiful, deserted beach. carter baby, you were pretty scared of the sand and basically glued your bum to nana's lap. paisley girl, you loved watching kavi play, but weren't too sure yourself of the sand part yet. kavi boy, you were fearless. digging, and running, and jumping in the waves with your clothes on. as for nana, she was at home. that girl was born to live at the beach.

the stewart's arrived and you reunited with your cousins. it took a second to click again, but boy did you all love them! kavi followed cole and reade, and paisley followed those boys, and carter followed paisley when she wasn't hooked to daddy's arms. after reconnecting, we immediately went out to dinner with uncle mark's best friend. you see, that was the reason for this trip. to visit uncle mark's SEAL brothers and attend a memorial held in their fallen's honor. we met up with A and his new wife and shared a yummy meal together. during dinner, you goofed off with your cousins and had a blast while the adults caught up. 

the next day we woke up and got ready for the memorial. the SEALS have started to hold an annual memorial day service for all their fallen teammates and their families. this was MY second year attending, but your first. the granite wall engraved with their names has grown. unfortunately there has been a lot more deaths since mark and now a lot more families attending. the service was beautiful, with  all the SEALS standing in formation around us families. that's one of  my favorite places to be; surrounded by all those valiant men, some of them who fought with uncle mark. they are true heros. after the service, they through us one heck of a BBQ with tons if food, a jump house for the kids, crafts, painting, bubbles, etc. they also had a new garden put it by the memorial wall. it's stunning, with paths wrapped around trees and flowers, and engraved memorials dedicated to the families, the team dogs, etc.. it's gorgeous and very meaningful, especially since the SEALS walk through it each day to go into their building.

after the memorial, i took carter back to the hotel room to nap, while everyone else headed to the beach. then we went out to dinner with A and his wife again. this time to say goodbye to him before his next deployment. everywhere we went, you had a blast because you were with your cousins. kavi, you were inseperable with cole and reade. you begged to ride in their car wherever we went, and all four of you would always hold hands. it was adorable!

on friday morning, i woke up early and went running on the beach. this beach was perfection! at that time in the morning, i only saw a couple people out and the weather was gorgeous and serene. i thought about uncle mark and wondered if he ever ran this same shore line or did navy drills up the coast. i missed him and wished he was running with me; although he would be miles ahead of me. i'm sure.

after that, it was another beach day for you kids. you played out there all day long!! especially kavi, cole, and reade. you three boys would play and play and play without needed anything from us parents. in the water, under the sandy stairs, and building sand castles. i had so much joy just watching you all interact. aunt annette, nana, and me just laid on the sand and watch you all. i'm surprised you even stopped for a picture!

paisley, you were still a little aprehensive this day. you carefully sat on a towel right next to me and wiped the sand off your toes. this probably lasted an hour! OCD maybe? don't worry, the next day you got down and dirty with the boys. meanwhile, daddy took carter back to the room to nap.

that night, nana took us all bowling on base and we had a blast. after bowling we went down to the water front for some mexican food, ice cream, street performers, and a walk on the main virginia beach strip.

on our last day, we went out to breakfast and attended a annual BBQ held by one of the SEALs.  we saw kat, caught up, ate yummy food, and the kids ran around on the bouncy houses, playground, pool, etc.. it was one heck of a BBQ. we got back to the hotel later than expected, but we insisted on some more time at the beach. paisley, you warmed up to the sand (finally) and you four cousins were at it again. this time using your imaginations and voting paisley as your captain. the joy was spread across your faces as you ran back and forth from the stairs to the water a million times. then it was on to catching sand crabs with uncle brandon. the sun finally went down forcing us to go eat dinner. this time, we ordered pizza and camped out in nana's hotel room while watching man vs. wild.

the next morning we had to say goodbye to our cousins. it was so hard after all the fun we had. we went on our way, back home to georgia, and they drove back to DC and visited uncle mark and grandpa johnstone's graves at arlington on memorial day before flying back home. i write this blog post to each of you, because even though you might be too young to remember this trip someday, i want this to remind you how amazing it was. family is important. our country is important. having fun is important.  never forget those things, and always make an effort to enjoy these things in life. it's worth the time off work, the money spent, and the 16 hours in the car. every second with those cousins of yours was worth it!