Monday, June 25, 2018

Change of Command

Last summer we celebrated Tim's promotion to lieutenant colonel; and last week, a change of command ceremony marked the beginning of the culmination of his career, everything he's been working toward all along: the opportunity to lead Marines as their Commanding Officer. This was also the 'beginning of the end' because two years from now, once he turns the battalion over to his successor, he will be retiring after what will by then be 26 years in the Marine Corps. We're going to settle down, buy our forever home, and let our kids experience what it's like to not be moving every few years or less. (That doesn't even feel real to me right now.) I'm always making references to how fast time is flying, or is going to fly, and that's because when you keep breaking down life into chunks as small as two, three years, or even seven months, they just go so quickly. These two years of command will go faster than anything before that because they'll be super busy, and we'll also be figuring out the next chapter.

His parents came down, and my mom, dad and sister Grace came from Topsail to attend the ceremony. Knowing how seldom it is that we can get all these individuals in a frame together (last time was in Quantico for Annie's baptism), I hired a photographer. Megan of A Beautiful Moment Photography did a wonderful job of capturing the memories.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Topsail 2018

On June 9, the Schlossers made their annual pilgrimage from near and far (mostly far -- Cincinnati) to the beach. It was Topsail again for the second straight time, because we all love it so much. Tim and I had to take separate cars because sadly this time he would need to be spending most of the week at work. That's just how it worked out; it was a pretty important week for Tim, but more on that in another post. So I loaded up the Traverse with Annie and Joey and maybe half the stuff I'd packed, and set out on the ninety minute drive to Topsail from New Bern. We left around naptime, and that was intentional. Joey would sleep and we'd arrive around 3, which was check-in time. It felt like it took forever, but both kids were sleeping and I was singing along with the radio and sipping coffee. At last we crossed the Intracoastal Waterway and it wasn't long after that I was slowing down and scanning the numbers on the mailboxes trying to find our piece of paradise for the week. 

My brother Scotty who was staying two houses over, saw our car and came walking over. The sight that greeted him when he got closer was me holding Annie's hair while she threw up on the gravel driveway. "Did she get a little carsick?" he asked hopefully. I grimaced. "No, she hasn't been feeling good for the last day or so. There's been something going around." Scotty was gracious in that moment and still glad to see us, but I can't help but feel that my words might have echoed through his mind a few times and filled him with dread. 

Soon after, I unpacked the car and installed Annie on the living room couch in the duplex we had for just ourselves and no innocent healthy people, and hoped and prayed that the worst was over. Spoiler alert: it wasn't. Throughout the whole week, there would be at least one or two of the entire group not feeling well at any given time. 'Not feeling well' could mean vomiting or just lying on the couch all day watching the Disney Channel. Or a little bit of both. Or hurling in the middle of a living room rug right before the start of someone's birthday party😬, and then being back at it playing an hour or two later. Poor Annie threw up maybe once or twice more that first day, and then went two days without eating or moving off the couch. At the end we tallied up 6 out of the 34 of us that had thrown up at least once on this trip. One adult and five kids.

It was a challenging trip in other ways. As I already mentioned, Tim had to work. We arrived on Saturday, he left on Sunday afternoon, and it left me feeling so deflated. It is not the same without him, both because I enjoy his company and because he is kind of the 'wind beneath my wings' on vacation, doing a lot of the work and freeing me to relax. Knowing that he was now also feeling like crap did not help. But we forged on and made the most of it. On Tuesday afternoon I took the kids and headed back so that we could be ready for his change of command ceremony on Wednesday morning at Cherry Point. (He was feeling better by then, thank goodness.) By mid-afternoon Wednesday the kids and I were back at Topsail. That latter part of the week there was a lot of rain. Ain't nobody got time for rain or sickness on the beach vacation! 

So the stars didn't align exactly the way we wanted or hoped this time. Last year's Topsail vacation was almost too good to be true, and it's a little too much to expect that it will always be this way. The true test of our mettle is our attitude when things start going awry. We'd already survived the cockroach house, so we could handle anything, right?

Within the first 48 hours of this vacation I began to see the good, joy-filled moments of the week as the precious gifts that they were. They were sprinkled throughout, these wonderful memories, and I took them as they came with so much gratitude.  Here are some off the top of my head:

- Snuggling my newest nephew Taj, while drinking my morning coffee on the back deck (my sister Grace and her family were in the duplex next to me)
- Beers and laughs with my parents and siblings on the deck after the kids had gone to bed
- The sight of Timmy not lacking playmates as he ran around with all the boy cousins born within a year or two of one another
- Grace playing with my hair and telling me Taj's birth story
- Margaritas and a pretty view of the bay at our Ladies' Lunch
- Finally getting my butt off the sand and bodyboarding on Friday. Those were some good waves, and it made me feel like a kid again instead of a mom about to turn 39.

Looking at these pictures, you'd never know we'd had any problems. I could have just shown you these pictures and told you about how we had another amazing vacation and everything was perfect, but I like to keep it real here.
This was our first night, and I was still pretending to myself he'd be there all week.
My sister Anna's husband Robert, and Lizzie
Caleb, or "Spindleshanks" as Mom as dubbed him, on Sophie's back
Grace's Joey, with Elise and Joey. Elise will be 3 next month!
Anna with her oldest and youngest (due in November:))
Mom and Lizzie
Delaney was never this taken with her own baby siblings. Taj had us under some kind of spell.
Caleb .. those eyes!
The rapidly changing weather made for some of the best photos.
I have always had this thing where I'm nervous to hold other people's babies, even my sisters'. Maybe I'm worried they'll cry, or get hungry, or just know I'm not the one they want holding them. I find myself waiting for the reason I'll need to hand them back to their mothers. With Taj, there was none of that. Holding him was pure bliss, even when he was awake.
Tim came back on Friday evening just in time for dinner and group photos on the beach.
Grace's Joey and Lotus are missing from this photo. Poor Lotus didn't see the light of day from Thursday on.
As always, it was tough leaving on Saturday, especially with Tim back and the sun shining; but it made it easier knowing that I'll see them again when Joey and I go up for Sophie's wedding at the end of this month. We'll try not to bring any sicknesses along to wreck your wedding, Soph!