Where We’ve Been

 

An entire season has passed since the last update, and so much has happened that words will surely fail me.  So, I turn to pictures, trusting the communication of thousands of words each will make up for lost time.

Most importantly, Abbie is thriving, happy, healthy, engaged, and enjoying her life as we relish the sparkling light she brings to our family.

So, here’s where we’ve been since summer began:

CALIFORNIA:

In early June, Ray had meeting in San Francisco, followed by meetings in Lake Tahoe.  With that kind of itinerary, the twins and I thought it would be a prime opportunity to tag along.

We were able to spend an extraordinary day with Chase and his wonderful girlfriend, Melissa, in San Francisco.  In one day we hit the Sports Basement (outlet store), did the obligatory troop movement and photographs around the bridge, enjoyed amazing seats at a Giants baseball game, experienced family bonding through trampolining at the House of Air,  and then feasted on a perfect Italian meal in North Beach.

 

Matt and RJ enjoying dug-out level seats at the Giants game.

The view from Matt and RJ’s seats

The House of Air was fun for all – even though Mr. Norris didn’t show up that day

A gorgeous day on Lake Tahoe

We knew the trip had been a success when RJ said, “The summer after I graduate I want to do a trip like this again…remind me I said that, and make me do it, because I’m worried I’ll change my mind.  Just make me.”

It’s been a long time since we needed only a single hotel room during a trip, so we were glad to know the boys enjoyed the togetherness as much as we had.

Melissa survived her initial exposure to the dynamic duo, and won them over quite handily, actually.  On the way to the airport we asked each person to state their “Top 3″ of the trip.

“Meeting Melissa,” answered Matt.  This statement, made in a serious tone, was stunning coming from the King of Sarcasm and One-Liners, but echoed what we all felt.

We arrived home to find Abbie happy, healthy, and ready to hear all the funny stories about her brothers.

 

SUNCADIA:

We always look forward to July, which brings our family retreat in the mountains of Washington State.

Abbie was the healthiest she’s been in years, which allowed to go on more outings, and enjoy more happenings this summer.

Abbie and Genevieve boating on Lake Cle Elum

Not in Hawaii anymore….Genevieve tries to keep warm, and keep Abbie toasty as well while the boys make S’mores.

This year, we were fortunate to have Genevieve’s son, John, and daughter, Kuuipo, with us for the first week:

First jet-ski rides, first S’mores, first time in Washington…first time seeing Ray wear suspenders.  It was a lot of fun having the Kealoha “kids” with us!

We also celebrated my Dad’s 70th birthday:

Grandpa with 5 of his 6 grandsons, none of whom seem particularly interested in taking a good picture…

What Abbie really, really looked forward to happened on the last weekend of our vacation.  Her bestie, Claire came to visit, with her family, the Wings.

Claire’s face literally radiates joy when she sees Abbie – her friendship is such a precious gift.  During the weekend, for the most part, wherever Abbie was, so was Claire.

The day before we left was very special for our family.  Chase graduated from Army ROTC Leadership Assessment Development Course (LDAC) at Fort Lewis, WA.  This camp, and his performance at it, greatly dictates whether he will be commissioned as an active duty officer next June, and what branch (or job) he will be assigned.

I wondered how we would find him in the midst of over 800 cadets on parade.  The day before graduation he called to say that he had earned the spot of top cadet in his company, and would therefore be in command during the ceremony.  We were thrilled by his success, and realized this would make it a snap to find him.

Here’s the first time we’d seen Chase all summer:

Getting ready for the parade, he turns to our chorus of “Hey, Chase!!!” We were so excited to see him.

Chase in front of his company

Ironically, Chase is the freshest of the bunch, after weeks of training. A 5am departure that morning was enough to do in the rest of the gang

And look who else joined us at graduation…Claire’s dad works right across the street, so she surprised Abbie, who was so excited! You’ll have to trust me on that, as this photo was taken after all the cannon blasts, marching music, a shivering in the cold.

An amazing son and a very proud mom. A day etched on my heart forever.

All in all, a great vacation!

THE BALLET

Abbie’s “patron of the arts”, Dr. Nina Hayahsi, invited us to see the ballet, “Alice in Wonderland.”

Abbie and her “Auntie Nina” before the ballet.

 

Because Abbie was seated in her power chair, with the perfect positioning and support, she was really able to view all of the fantastically creative ideas and beautiful, talented dancers.

Then, she was invited backstage:

Maki, from Japan, was incredible as Alice…and is not much bigger than Abbie!

After we took the big group picture, these two beautiful cards approached me to ask if I would take a picture of them with Abbie with their camera. Instant tears. They truly are “special hearts.”

Those are the highlights of the summer, and the fall has been equally fabulous:  a new school, new teachers, new friends, a new communication device, and the same spunky girl we love so much.

Life is good.