I use the term "snuck" very loosely, because it required a planning effort roughly equal to that behind Operation Enduring Freedom to make this parental getaway happen. I'm talking a grand symphony of relatives, friends, a babysitter, and a colorful Google calendar. Remember: my kids are homeschooled. This means that they require 24/7 care. Also, did I mention we have a puppy?
After all that organizing on my part and sacrificing on the part of others, I made a solemn vow to enjoy every minute and let nary a complaint slip from my lips.
So, while the Professor was busily embroiled in a scientific conference at the San Diego Convention Center, I enjoyed every single minute of my footloose and fancy free temporary life. And, in keeping with my philosophy of taking tides at the flood, I decided to invite myself over to visit a longtime blogging friend -- face to face for the first time ever.
I think Melissa Wiley's blog, Here in the Bonny Glen, was the first blog I ever read. Over the past five years, Melissa has kept me supplied with a steady To-Be-Read pile and entertained all of her readers with the joys of learning and living with six children while also managing to read voraciously, watch and review intelligent TV shows, and write books of her own.
Are you intimidated yet? I almost was. The thing is, she's always just seemed so delightfully down to earth. You never get the feeling that she wears an aura of Famous Bloggerhood. So, somewhat timidly, I asked. And she said, Absolutely! Come on over!
You know how sometimes you imagine a meeting with someone you don't see often (or ever), maybe someone you admire, and then the reality isn't so super-great? This was totally the opposite. After sitting at their dining table for about three minutes, surrounded by six incredibly friendly kids, their incredibly charming parents, and incredibly abundant books, I considered pitching my tent in the yard for the next few days and giving the Doubletree my regrets. Or maybe they would just adopt me? Come on, they have six kids. What's one more, even if she dwarfs everyone except Dad?
We talked about books, mostly, and Rilla (4) and I read Me Hungry! (so fun!) and Wonderboy (7) took copious notes on the iPod Touch and Rose (12) and Beanie (10) showed me their Sculpey creations and Jane (15, please-dear-Lord-let-my-future-teenagers-be-so-wonderful) had lots of suggestions for my newly minted chapter-book reader. And Huck (2) exuded cherubic adorableness. I could go on and on ... but suffice it to say it was a morning that will live in my memory, suffused with a golden glow.
Pssst ... if you ever get the chance to meet an online friend in real life? Do it. Molly agrees.
So now, reflecting on the trip from the rearview mirror of mundane daily life, I'm counting more blessings ...
138. New friends who feel like old friends.
139. Spending time with my brother, sister-in-law, sister, and a couple old friends whose gracious hospitality never fails (Paul, Dianne, Steve). All these folks took time out from their schedules to hang out with us, some at rather high personal cost (hello baby sister!).
140. The way no one can make me laugh quite like my brother Peter. Note to self: Do not harbor liquids in thy mouth when he opens his.
141. Coffee with a "Buon Giorno!" from Little Italy in the mornings.
142. Wandering around Balboa Park on my own time -- visiting the Timken Art Museum, reading at the Japanese teahouse, exploring the butterfly garden and botanical house. Balboa Park, it's you + me 4-eva.
143. Visiting Old Town and learning about more of American history's unsung heroes. Having time to actually stop and read all the explanatory plaques.
144. Strolling through the historic Hotel del Coronado with the Professor and pretending we were guests. Not letting myself envy the *actual* guests, but instead feeling thankful to just be there, enjoying the same white beach, green grounds, and blue sky.
145. Sittin' on the dock of the bay.
146. Time to be still and let God speak to my heart.
147. All the people here at home -- a small army! -- who cheerfully, willingly pitched in to make this happen for us. Nonnie and Opa, Uncle Allen & Aunt Kristen, Vanessa, Laura, Nicole, Colleen, Camille, Greta, Jenny, Julia ... you're all such gifts to me. To know you is to love you (and to owe you!).
148. Coming home again to three small pairs of loving arms.