A lot happened in the beginning of July 2017 before we left for Maine for the remainder of the summer. I will enter each happening as a separate journal entry, all within this one blog post.
July 4: This was Grace's first-ever sparkler to hold by herself. I have waited many years for this moment, as it's such a big marker of independence, and I was excited for her. I saved the match with which I lit the first sparkler, and Geoff lit sparkler after sparkler off the first. I thought she would be her sparkly self with this, but she was still a bit frightened and unsure. How is it every time you know they're ready they retreat a bit at first and you want to second guess yourself and hold them like a baby and take away all the fire? I think there's a time when they're ready, and a time when you're ready, and they don't always coincide. But with the risk of getting burned, there is a bright and wonderful, life-giving light.
July 6: We knew we had a 3,500+ mile road trip coming in a few weeks, and we'd only recently shelled out over $1000 for repairs (yet again) for the old van Geoff's dad had very graciously given us when we moved here and were about to have our 3rd child, Eloise. It was an old 2001 Ford Windstar and I just didn't want to risk it (or sink more into it). We decided to cut our losses and find a new-to-us minivan. We lucked out and the one that met all our basic criteria for the practical stuff just happened to be a model with all the bells & whistles. We really lucked out. We found the car via the internet, and had planned to go get it after Geoff got home from work that afternoon. We basically did absolutely NOTHING all day at home waiting for him, so we had Hawaiian brunch while I played my Hawaiian Pandora station and then I gave them a long group bubble bath, and then I don't remember what we did. Then we went to get the new van. It was a little hard saying goodbye to the old one even though we'd only had it a couple years, because I drove home with Eloise in it from the birth center about 12 hrs after she was born. I remember that warm, sunny drive well inside the safe & quiet van, while the chilly wind whipped outside. Cannon also had a hard time saying goodbye, but that kid has a hard time saying goodbye to his own artwork scraps, so...we'll just say the emotions were largely excited ones.
When we went to the dealership, they were having some kind of sales event with LOTS of beach paraphernalia. There were at least 50 (not exaggerating) blown-up beach balls to bop around. They let the kids climb in and out of the display truck with all the balls. There were leis galore, and music. For the over 3 hours we were there test driving and completing paperwork, let's just say the kids were anything but bored. I wouldn't exactly call it chaos, but the people working there did not get a lot of work done. But there were lots and lots and lots of smiles.
After it was all over, we took a "goodbye" and a "hello" photo with the two vans.
And then, Geoff and I looked at each other and said one of the craziest things we've ever said to each other:
"Let's go out for Mexican!"
Some people make sure their kids are all taken care of before the school year starts. Dentist, doctor checkup, haircut, new clothes. Check, check, check. But I'm kind of the opposite. We take extended vacations during summers, so I know we're going to be disconnected from society or at least from the regular and comfortable pace and place of living. So I make sure everyone's taken care of before we wander off into the wild for weeks and months at a time and live untethered. Haircuts, dentist visits, and new shoes were all in order for all the children. It's OK to be wild, but first, be prepared. I think that's called independence. And it's not always easy making it.