Luckily, divorce is a totally foreign word in my family. Among my extended family I only have one uncle that was divorced. He has been remarried and happy for twenty-something years now. I don't mean to say this in a bragging way, just to emphasize that I am somewhat naive in this area. I realize that divorce is definitely the answer sometimes, no doubt.
On Saturday we were at a gas station in Colorado, on our way home from our cross-country drive, when I witnessed something that really choked me up. My husband and son had run in for some snacks, but I had stayed in the car. And glad I did.
A car pulled up next to an SUV and parked. Out of the car a well-dressed man about 40-years old jumped out, followed by the boy in the SUV doing the same thing. The boy threw himself at the man, who hugged him right back. Hard.
Next, a man and woman also got out of the SUV. They went to the back door and got the boy's bag out. The well-dressed man put his hand on the woman's shoulder and shook the other man's hand. There were smiles and affection all around.
Then it was over, this exchange of exes, I assume. It lasted 5 minutes, but I have had the picture in my mind ever since witnessing it. It warmed my heart and made me feel hopeful.
In a world of fighting and name-calling on Capital Hill, I am glad to know that there can be love and civility in smaller arenas.

road trip day 29: two homes

I can't remember if we had ever done the trip in just three days before, but we were like horses at the end of a long race this week. We plowed through the 2100 miles in three days, instead of the usual 4 we take. And now I write from the comfort of my bed. Sweetness.

The last 2 hours of the drive Geo drove and I sat in the back seat. It was tough. I had these little flashbacks of walking on the sand with my daughter-in-law, laughing with my sister, hugging my adorable nieces and nephews, and playing games late into the night with my folks. It was a balm for this over-taxed soul. I have gotten so used to being the long-distance family member, but in a short amount of time I slip right back into family mode, enjoying the closeness of everyone.

On I-70, through the mountains west of Denver, I started to feel home again. This home that I share with my husband and kids. This one where I have responsibilities and a job and a yard and pets. This home where I have built my own family.

But part of me will always be in the cicada-filled trees and humid air of Virginia.

road trip day 28: i've been thinking

With just the three of us in the car these past couple of days I have been able to have a little meditation time. I spend some of the time reflecting on the family I just left, and some of the time looking ahead to things that I will need to tackle once I get home. In the weeks left before school starts back up I have a few meetings, but mostly I need to get us back home and get busy on some church responsibilities that are waiting. Isn't it strange the way we kind of miss those things that tie us down after we have spent a long time away from them? The routine can be good.

We spent close to an hour at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis today. It was 103 degrees. No lie.

We are driving to Liberty Jail in Missouri as I type this post. I just read Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, and 123 aloud, and in doing so was moved by the persecution, both in body and spirit, that Joseph Smith suffered while in this prison for those 5 months. I would encourage you to read these passages if you have not done so recently. Humbling stuff.

On a secular note, I heard lyrics today that seemed connected to the suffering of the Prophet Joseph.

"I swam dirty waters that you pushed me in."

I guess I would rather do the swimming than the pushing.

road trip day 27: college day

My parents live about an hour from the Blue Ridge mountains, near the picturesque Shenandoah Valley in VA. We said goodbye to them, and #3, who is staying for 2 weeks, and headed west today. One thing we wanted to do was stop by Bridgewater College, where I spent my freshman and sophomore years. Great memories.

After Bridgewater we drove farther south in order to visit Southern Virginia University, which is a privately owned LDS university with about 800 students. Geo knew the provost, so after a short visit we walked around campus, exploring. This could be a possibility in the future.

Here are a few shots from our West Virginia stretch. Tomorrow we will push on to Kansas City.

road trip day 26: reunion

I spent time with three friends today that I had not seen in 20 years. It was incredible. The nostalgia. The laughing. The confessions.

I spent a good amount of time out and about meeting up with these friends, and while I sat at a red light (singing Adele at the top of my lungs), I looked out the window and snapped this photo so I could remember what surrounds you here, like soldiers, at every turn. They are flooded with cicadas right now, which means the trees are buzzing and humming with locusts. It is a jungle.

My audio system in my car. Good 80s stuff.

Tomorrow we are driving to Louisville as we turn our ship westward.

road trip day 25: food for thought

Today I went to lunch with my sister, where we ate yummy enchiladas and talked about raising our children, because everyone knows how much easier it is to visit and talk about important things when there is food involved.

This same theme carried over into the evening when some of our family's closest friends came over for dinner. I had not spent time with these great folks for 2 decades, and it was so good to catch up and basically to just enjoy their spirits. Such good influences on me.

Tomorrow it will be more food and more talking as I meet with a high school friend and then with a couple of college friends from back in the day.

People don't realize the imprint they leave. I have no idea if or when my own has been left. But I do know this - I like the reconnecting. I like the chance to rekindle. And I like reflecting on relationships that have mattered to me.

I am such a girl.

road trip day 24: relaxation

Today we got up late, went to the bookstore, read, napped, and ate. That is all.

road trip day 23: winding down

sunrise toward the Shenandoah Mountains

We woke up at 5 am this morning so we could drive #1 and #1b to the airport. It was so much better than great to have them fly out to hang with us at the beach. The poor things did not have a full month off like G and I. Ahhh, the benefits of being teachers.

Tomorrow we may go to Mount Vernon or Monticello, Tuesday I will spend some final time with my sister, and then on Wednesday I am having lunch with a high school friend and dinner with 2 college buddies. So excited!

I am having a little anxiety about leaving my 15-year old here, only because I stress a little when our little nuclear family is so spread out. I am sure everything will be fine, but it is tough. One in Mexico, one in VA, three of us transient until next weekend when we get back home, and the married son and wife in UT. Just a bit jumbled.

Thanks for stopping by.

road trip day 22: solid ground

We left the beach at 6:50 a.m. in order to avoid traffic over the bridge to the mainland. We had clear sailing the whole way, and made such good time that we stopped in Culpeper on the way home to eat lunch and to go to a matinee of HP7.

Geo cleaned out and vacuumed away the sand from the car while I carried some things upstairs to my parents' guest room. In a few days we will begin the trek home. Tomorrow the marrieds fly home and get back to life. It has been so much fun hanging out with the family. My DIL did such a great job mingling with the whole crowd. She was a real team player.

ps I seriously miss the ocean already.

Frost Cafe, Culpeper, VA

My mom's daisies

Parents' front woods

Relaxation time

road trip day 21: final beach bit

road trip day 20: another taste

I am sitting here with my feet planted right in the sand as I type this post. Glorious weather today, but we took another break from the sun. We went shopping and then out to eat, while other family members went kayaking or laser tagging or mini golfing. We gathered together in the evening and ate and played in the cool beach air. Gorgeous weather. At 10:30 pm my three sons and some cousins walked down the street to the small local pier and went crabbing. Tying chicken necks onto lines and using nets. It was a new adventure.

Here are some shots of the day. Tomorrow a last hurrah at the ocean. Sadness.

road trip day 19: sea monsters and sand

My brother-in-law stepped out this morning to make sure we all had cheesy biscuits for breakfast. A beach tradition here. Very yum. After eating, our own little nucleus gathered our things and took off, determined to get to our usual spot on the sand before the beginning of the serious heat. It was pretty darn hot, but the cool water balanced everything out, and we had another fab day.

Tomorrow G and I may take the morning off with a bike ride and then some shopping, followed by shrimp and crab for lunch. The marrieds, which my husband has now nicknamed #1 and #1b, can be in charge of the boys. It will be good.

Just a little love

Brother Rob showing evidence of the jellyfish we battled all day.

Ooey gooey

The little folk

Sis in the baby tent

Mello clan taking on the waves

road trip day 18: day of rest

Most of the family went to the ocean today, but my kids and I decided to take a day of rest. We hung around the house and ate and watched a movie. The little pink patches of sunburn that I had around my swimming suit straps thanked me. In the evening we rode go karts and had a lot of fun!

Sometime this week there will be a lunch outing with Geo for all-you-can-eat crab and shrimp. Lip-smacking good when you eat right here where it is caught.

Tomorrow back to the ocean and then maybe some exploring on the newly built mega-pier.

Fun Park, Kill Devil Hills

#1 gearing up to race his mama

DIL and my niece


DIL and new little nephew

#4 and his new cousin

My humidity hairdo.

road trip day 17: good day, sunshine

It's 11:30 pm here in Nawth Cuhlina, and I am standing in the dark about 50 yards from the ocean, where I get the best reception. The wind is blowing and the three-quarter moon is giving me my nightlight as I type. I am in love.

We went to the beach all afternoon and then came home and had a nice dinner followed by birthday cake for one of my brothers. I could go on and on about the warm clear water today.

You know, when you get with all of your adult siblings and their families only once every few years, it is a magical time.

Here is what we did today.

My sons building a sand castle.

My DIL sunbathing

Me on a stroll

Brother David and baby

My 71-yr old mom boogie boarding

My adorable niece

My nephew

Geo taking a short break.