This is a picture of my ‘sister’ Alleah and I when we were little girls. I say ‘sister’ because although we are not blood-related, this girl was there the day I was born and has been as much a sister to me throughout my life than any blood sibling could have been.
In a very real sense, she was my first friend: the one who knelt with me by my bed when I was five and led me to Christ, the one who I spent hours curled up on the couch with watching Jungle Book while my brother was born, the one who played ‘mermaids’ with me in the pool, who held my hand in swift creeks when we went camping, who braided my hair, who invented bizarrely funny games with me, and who never failed to offer a shoulder to sleep on during long road trips.
She shared her books with me, her clothes, her movies, her wisdom, her silliness, her laughter (there is NO ONE that can make me laugh quite like this girl). Four years ago, she spoiled me rotten the week before my wedding and stood by my side through every minute. And this weekend, I got to see this beautiful soul say “I Do” and become a MRS. herself.
Proud Dad and the most. beautiful. bride. ever.
But first: I had to get there. Alleah and I grew up in Arizona and this is where the wedding was being held. The Navy being what it is decided this was a good time to send my husband’s ship to sea, so this meant recruiting my mom to help me wrangle the two boys through the six-hour road trip it took to get there. While the baby seemed to resent every minute of it and went on an adamant sleep-strike, my usually rambunctious two year old was a pleasant surprise. He spent the ride happily playing with his books and water-color pad or sleeping (without a single iPad in sight)! It can be done!
The rehearsal and evening wedding ceremony with my toddler, however, was the opposite experience entirely. He was the ring bearer and needed to be present, but I spent the rehearsal wrestling him to keep him from sprinting into the pool during a lightning storm or trying to reprogram the host couple’s television set while simultaneously trying to absorb how and when to get down the aisle. The next day, getting him into a bow-tie was hilariously difficult, and getting him to stay still for a picture was just as laughable (but worth it). He spent most of the picture-taking time running himself in circles to near heat-stroke in the Arizona sun. By the time he was supposed to walk down the aisle, he was laying in the back room kicking his legs and crying for the nap he wouldn’t take earlier, which prompted the groomsman and I to enact the necessary strategy of swinging him between us to get him down the aisle (1-2-3-wheeeee!).
In the end, it was a truly sweet little ceremony despite the heat and even Kai seemed held captive by the age-old traditions playing out before us. After one of the cutest “you may kiss the bride” displays I’ve seen yet, we all made it back into the house where I promptly (and- I should mention- accidentally) fell asleep on the floor next to my sleeping infant after going to check on him (sharing a hotel room with two boys under 3 after a 6 hour road trip does not lead to much sleeping). Luckily we all got a second wind for the reception, where we saw so many old friends and Kai went crazy running around the dance floor while the baby (thankfully) slept in a back room.
Enjoying the adorable backyard reception
Saying goodbye was hard because I knew that it would most likely be a long time before I would get to see her again being that she lives in Austin now and we live in California. That being said, I was very much ready to get out of the Arizona heat and back to ocean breezes and comfy beds for the babes. We tackled the ride home the very next day, and unfortunately it was a far cry from the experience we had on our way out. Our first mistake was leaving so late, but it was important to me that the boys got to see their grandparents at their farmhouse on our way out since Kai had only ever seen them once, and Rafe had never met them. That visit was worth the stop, but it meant the boys were fairly hot and cranky by the time we hit the road. About halfway in, I had finally managed to get the baby asleep, only to have Kai throw a tantrum which woke up the now-hysterical baby. And that’s when my car started flashing warning lights and the engine shut off, forcing us to pull over to the side of the road right about here:
Hello, Middle of Nowhere.
It was 100 degrees, we were 12 miles (at least) from any town and a call to AAA promised only a tow-truck in an hour and a half with the possibility of having to stay in a hotel in Ocotillo that night. Meanwhile, my poor babes were roasting in the sweltering car and I was incredibly exhausted, scared, and frustrated. After saying a few tearful prayers, getting Kai drinking some water, and making a few calls to make sure at least a few other people knew where we were, we decided to try starting the car again. Thankfully, it did start and we headed out again at a slower pace while keeping the A/C off to try and prevent another breakdown. By the time we got back to the I-5 it was already bedtime for my worn out babes but we were so grateful to have made it home safe and to not be stuck in some podunk town halfway to Arizona.
After all of that, I am deliriously happy to be home and am feeling fairly certain of two things. First, all I want to do the rest of the week is this, this, THIS:
Give me all of the baby cuddles.
And secondly: I am never, ever, ever doing a road trip without my hunk of a man husband there with me ever again :)