Okaloosa Island 2014: Part 2

Catch up HERE if you missed the first part of our first family trip to the beach.

Tuesday, October 14th: We started out our 3rd morning with plans to eat at The Donut Hole for breakfast, but on this day the boys actually slept in. We didn’t get there until almost 9 and by then, the line was out the door.  So we went on down the road to The Pancakery, where we quickly discovered that we weren’t going to get immediate seating anywhere.  We decided to wait it out and browse the store next door….where Cute Cute came into our lives.

Once we got seated and ordered our food, I started messing with Dexter’s hair to get it out of his eyes. As you can see, he wasn’t happy until we slicked it all over to the side like… you guessed it… Bruce Wayne.  He’s so silly.

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After breakfast, I realized that we were pretty close to a couple of other places I had hoped to visit – The Village of Baytowne Wharf and the Disney outlet store (I’d never been to an outlet store before). I fell in love with Baytowne Wharf, it was so cute and colorful.

10-14-14IMG_4535 10-14-14IMG_4539 A little boo boo briefly interrupted our fun.

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We didn’t buy anything but it was fun to look. One of the boys’ favorite things to do at home (and therefore, anywhere) is go to a playground.  A big reason that we wanted to go to Baytowne Wharf was because I read they had an awesome one. Well, they did…or at least it looked like it. But it was closed for repairs. We were so disappointed.  I did a quick search on my phone and found another local park. We didn’t stay for a very long time because it was getting hot and late and we were ready to get back to the room for lunch and then get to the beach. BUT, it sure was different playing on the sand! It felt kind of weird to imagine ourselves as locals, just taking our kids to the playground. Ah, to live at the beach!

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It was in the high 70s but the wind was so strong that it felt pretty chilly when you got out of the water.  We got to the beach later this day because of all our morning adventures so the boys were pretty tired. So tired that they both fell asleep right on the beach for an hour or so.  We didn’t have any plan for the evening so we ended up wandering to the fishing pier just in time for sunset.

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I think, if my memory serves me, that we ate in our condo that night since we’d gone out for breakfast. I didn’t take any pictures the rest of the night so that’s probably a good guess.  🙂  This was a great day…very laid back and no plan in place, we just wandered from one thing to the next without rushing at all.  So that was Tuesday.

This was our first family vacation, just the four of us. We went to Disney a year earlier, but with 6 other people. That was an amazingly fun vacation, but this was special in it’s own way.  Taking vacations is something that’s a priority to me, for my family. For myself. Some of my favorite and brightest childhood memories are from fun family vacations. I cherish those times – remembering my mom and dad so carefree and happy.  Lots of trips with lots of wandering from thing to thing, never knowing what was in store for us next. Something I don’t think I’ve mentioned here is that my mom, sister (and her family), and me & Ryan all went to this same beautiful area of Florida just 5 months after my Dad died. We couldn’t bear the thought of having a “normal” Christmas at home without him so soon after losing him.  Many sights and sounds reminded me of that time in my life – feeling guilty for being there (and enjoying it) while knowing at the same time that he wouldn’t have wanted us to sit around sobbing because he was gone.  Old memories, new memories. I hope there are lots of family vacations in our future.

More from this trip coming soon.




colorectal health and whatnot

I feel like I have been neglecting my blog.  For good reasons, I guess, but still. Maybe I feel like I’ve been neglecting myself.  I haven’t given myself a chance to come here and just write what’s on my mind much lately.  No particular reason other than just being busy with life and time slipping by too fast.  Suddenly, the things I thought about writing seem insignificant.

So a big thing happened last week and it wouldn’t be a “big thing” in my life without lots of reflection, worry, feelings, and emotional over-stimulation in general… I had a colonoscopy.  I know it doesn’t sound super heart-wrenching but stick with me for a minute.

My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 41, and then again at 43.  This is so uncommon that routine screenings are not even recommended until age 50.  With such significant family history, I was advised that I should have been screened at age 31.  Well, I’m three years late.

I can promise you that I never did drugs as a teenager, but when I think about my teen years they run into one another in a blur.  I was barely in high school when my dad was diagnosed.  You know, my OLD, very old fatherly dad.  My super old, in his forties, old dad.  I remember my parents telling me the first time he was diagnosed. It pains me to admit that life pretty much went on as usual for me, aside from visiting him in the hospital after some major surgeries and spending more time with him during the summer when he was on temporary disability during his treatment and recoveries. I remember crying a few times when we’d receive discouraging news from the doctor.  Even still, I was living in my self-centered teenage world and naively believed that nothing could beat my strong father. Everything would be just fine.  Because when you’re a kid, what’s the alternative?

Anyway, in an odd (or maybe not-so-odd?) way, this whole colonoscopy thing has had me thinking about and missing my dad a bunch. Regretting that I wasn’t more personally affected by his illness at the time. Good grief, what did he think of his selfish teenage daughter?  I’ve been thinking about my own mortality on some level.  The fact that he was only SEVEN years older than I am now when he was diagnosed is blowing my mind. Forty-one, all the sudden, doesn’t sound old at all. It sounds like the prime of life.  I can’t imagine how my dad felt, at just 41 years old and then again 2 years later, to be fighting for his life.

Before my procedure, I was lying on the bed, looking around. Taking it all in.  Reading literature posted on the walls. The nurse that prepped me asked a lot of questions about my family history. I got choked up explaining my dad’s past. As soon as Ryan came to sit with me and held my hand, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I pictured my dad getting ready for his procedure and wondered how nervous he was every time – was the cancer back or would he have a clean bill of health this time?  Ryan and the nurse both asked me if I was in pain or nervous and I just shrugged as tears streamed down my face and said I was fine. How was I supposed to explain what I was feeling at that moment?

Luckily, I am aware of my increased risk for colon cancer and my test came back perfectly fine. No polyps. I will get to experience the pleasure of this procedure every five years for the rest of my life. Enduring that sounds way better than enduring colon cancer though, so it’s a small price to pay. I feel thankful for the opportunity to do these prevention screenings.

On a related and somewhat unrelated note, speaking of drugs and colonoscopies…  Thursday I remember thinking multiple times that I felt perfectly normal following my procedure. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the entire evening was a blur. I had to ask Ryan to tell me every detail of what happened at the hospital and grilled him on my behavior. He swears I wasn’t acting bizarre. However, it really, really, really got to me that there were parts of the evening that I forgot altogether.  Naturally, it didn’t make sense that I would want to go out to eat, go with Ryan to pick up the boys, then later take them out for cupcakes and to the park. Pretty busy night considering everything I had been through that day.  I passed out super early (for me) at 9:30pm Thursday night. Friday I pictured Ryan and I eating at a different location than where we actually ate.  I couldn’t remember being in the car… at all…any of the 6 times we drove from one place to another.  And I totally spaced that we went to the park until I saw this pic I posted on Instagram.

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UM? I’m still freaking out about this. (For one, that’s a terrible photo).  Too many pain meds… and to think that some people stumble through life like this? I guess that’s why they told Ryan not to let me sign papers, watch my kids alone, or drive anywhere for 24 hours. I’m not sure what’s worse though – that I legitimately thought I was fine to run all over town or that I struggled to remember half of it the next day.  Weird. Weird, weird, weird.  I don’t like drugs!



seven twenty-three

He had two girls. He probably always wanted a boy, but you’d have never known it.

He loved to travel.  He loved the mountains. Lakes. Fishing. Beautiful views.

He was quiet and reserved but didn’t hesitate to speak his mind when push came to shove.

He only wanted to retire.  Enjoy his golden years. He didn’t get to. Unless you call 6 months of disability “retirement.” I don’t.

He was at my high school graduation. He’d already had colon cancer twice by then.

He was at my college graduation. On that day, he said “I’m proud of you.” That was one of MY proudest moments.  His words. Not the graduation.

Bad jokes. So many bad jokes – he just laughed at himself and it was only a matter of time before I was laughing too.

Blue eyes, with green just around the pupils.  Same as mine.

He had such a great sense of adventure and loved roller coasters, heights, and any other adrenaline pumping thrill. Same as me.

He held my hand and I sat on his lap until I was probably too old by society’s standards. A complete Daddy’s Girl.

He loved music – playing, singing, listening. He recorded favorite songs off of the radio when I was little and we listened to those tapes in the car for YEARS. Those songs are the soundtrack of my childhood.

His smile, I can still see. Big teeth. Mine are little.

He always said, “give me a hug, you big lug” when we were parting ways. And he ALWAYS said, “come back and see us.”

He loved comfort food and sweets.  PB + Chocolate was his favorite flavor combination.

He didn’t say “I love you” a whole lot. But he meant it.

He liked shooting baskets in the driveway. Playing H-O-R-S-E.

He taught me to hit a baseball.  “Watch the Ball, Hit the Bat.”

He wasn’t much for talking on the phone.

His voice. I miss his voice.

He called me on March 23, 2007 and said “I have pancreatic cancer. I’m dying.”

My sister called me on July 21, 2007 and said “I think you better get down here.”

His hands.  It wasn’t until he was dying that I realized how much our hands looked the same. His fingers had gotten so thin and bony and were practically mirror images of my own. Nail shape. Finger length. Hand twins.

He said he wasn’t afraid of dying, he just didn’t want to be in pain.

He died around 2am on July 23, 2007.  It’s been seven years.  How has it already been seven years?  Most days I’m fine. This is life now. Life without a dad. My kids don’t know him. They never will, aside from the stories they hear and the pictures they see. The home videos we’ll watch that are so few.

I’ll risk sounding like one of my young children and pout out loud, “IT’S NOT FAIR!”  It’s not fair to him that he’s not here. It’s not fair to me, my mom, my sister, or any of his grandkids.  He was only 55 years old.  It’s not fair.  Maybe some people think I’m wallowing in self-pity. Maybe I am. But allowing myself to feel the pain and remember his characteristics and qualities is what helps keep his memory alive in my heart.

“Only time moves on to the next scene. Memory remains part of the heart forever.”

Previous posts about losing and missing my dad HERE.


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