Monday, December 30, 2013

Siblings that grow up (NYC and Oregon)

May 2013, again

The Thursday after Ryan and Eleanor's wedding was my little baby sister who done all got growed up's high school graduation. Sniff. I still can't believe she's in college now. My parents, for the last time, walked across the stage, handed her her diploma, smiled for the camera and walked off. Just like that. Done. Done with homeschooling after 25 years.

The next morning, Jim flew home (by HIMSELF!!! WAAAAHHH!!!), and I boarded a plane with Mom, Anna, Alisa and Aunt Ronda for New York City. It was the trip Anna had been promised when she was nine.
We arrived exhausted (cut us some slack... a rehearsal dinner, wedding, wedding reception, and graduation party had all occurred AT MY PARENTS' HOUSE in the past week) and I'm pretty sure never recovered the whole week we were there. BUT... eet was vry vry fun times.

We would set out every morning looking like we were going hiking. If fanny packs were cool we would have worn them. But they are not. And never have been. Camera bags, purses, water bottles, sunglasses, scarves (yes, scarves are essential), and snacks. Snacks. Good grief. Jim and I had, by this point, told our family of the tiny life growing inside of me. To fight the swells of nausea that would break forth I pretty much carried around a mini grocery store through the streets of the city. 

We saw the sunset from the Empire State Building. Had to push a couple people off to get a view from the side, but hey... the world's overcrowded anyway, right?
This is Aunt Ronda, smiling innocently.

This is the high school graduate, perfecting the panorama.

This is Hong Kong. Duh.

Thankfully, we didn't push this nice person off, who offered to take a group shot.

Exhausted in Chinatown. But by golly, did we buy purses. And jewelry. And scarves. I think the total newly-purchased scarf count between the five of us was 18 at the end of the week. One little Chinese man called me stupid for buying a purse for less than he wanted to sell it for. It was a little unnerving but we laughed about it later. Oh, little Chinese man... be very glad my husband wasn't here.

We rode the metro and had a blast. My metro card would randomly stop working and I had to furtively jump over the railings. Actually, Alisa and Anna had to do it too. People watching is at its finest in public transportation. Germs are at their finest, too.

Of course, we saw the green lady. I actually grew her out of my head. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy had damaged Ellis Island a little too much for us to get very close, but the ferry ride around the city was relaxing.

Coolest Apple store ever. It's underground.

Central Park. It was surprisingly muggy for a May day in New York.

Sorry. But the bathrooms in our hotel room (the TRYP hotel was the name) were amazing!!

And Brooklyn Bridge, of course. Watch out for the bikers. They will kill you. Alisa pushed one away he got so close to her. I think he was trying to "show her" for being on the bike section. Their attitudes were stupid. It was 11:00 on a Saturday morning on the Brooklyn Bridge. If you are so serious about biking, get up at five, put on your Spandex, and then you can have it all to yourselves!

I wish I could remember all the places we ate and all the stores we visited. But I can't. That's what I get for blogging about it 7 months later! No pictures to show that we did see the Broadway musical Wicked one evening. Anna loved it. Everyone did. I was so glad because I had pushed for it and then all the Times Square ads had been for Lion King and Anna was starting to wish we were watching it instead. Phew.

August 2013

We, very last minute, decided to join my parents and Anna on a trip to Oregon to visit Caleb. Caleb works at a small boat station with the Coast Guard there and we had not seem him in a while.
It was last minute for two reasons:
1) Jim wasn't sure if he could get the time off
2) We realized it might be a while before we could travel out to see him again because, Lord willing, our family would go from 2 people to 3 people sometime around Christmas.

But go we did and good grief, what a beautiful place to live. Except for all the gluten-free food. And sometimes the hippies and get-out-of-my-way bike riders got on my nerves, but... it was beautiful. We did a lot of hiking and everyone was gracious and slowed down for the huffing and puffing pregnant girl. We even made a four-hour drive one day and met our cousin Sarah with her two kiddos, Eliora and Elijah at Crater Lake. It has always been on my "want-to-see" list and it was well worth it!

This was a rock. On a beach. Weird thing about it was that it didn't seem like we were getting any closer, no matter how long we went.

These kind of trees are normal in Oregon. You know, the ginormous ones.

My little brother with his even littler cousins.

 Oh yeah! We went to the Portland Zoo. You could view the sea lions underwater. Those things are massive! Their water was very cloudy... which just added to their stage presence.

Crater Lake. Goodness gracious was it gorgeous.

All Dad could say as he looked at this canyon was, "Man! I wish I had my fishing gear!"

We hiked a mile (not far... but it was pretty much straight up) to the top of a waterfall Caleb took us to. As we all collapsed at the top, this guy sprinted up, counted out 100 push-ups loudly on the crowded platform, then jumped up and looked around proudly. Congratulations, dude. You're in shape. And annoying.

Once again, this is just a normal sight in Oregon. A beautiful, mossy waterfall with huge fallen logs around it. You know, yeah yeah, blah blah blah.

Caleb really seems to be doing well. I know that we all worry about him all alone up there by himself and I'm sure he gets homesick and lonely sometimes (although, Caleb.... we all know you wouldn't admit it in a million years!!), but he seems to really enjoy where he is. Sure, he has his complaints about his job, living situation, money troubles... but we all do. It's so weird sometimes. Looking around at my siblings as we all become adults and make "adult" decisions. Ryan married. Caleb with the Coast Guard off in Oregon. Asa starting the architecture program at Auburn University. Anna starting college. The song "Remember When" came on the radio the other day and I started crying. Good gravy. I know it must be even harder for my parents. As I watch them struggle with how to relate/respond to their constantly changing children, it makes me appreciate them (and my in-laws) so much! Parenting... here we come.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ryan and Eleanor... and chore lists.

Next big life event.

While we were on the sailing trip mentioned in my last post (actually, only two days after setting sail), my brother called my parents. Eleanor, the love of his life, had said yes! He was engaged and, understandably, he couldn't wait for us to get back to share his news, out of country cell phone fees be darned!

It was wonderful. This little lady had been a true support to him over the last year of his life. Ryan had found the helpmate for his life. She accepted him for who he was, built him up when he wanted to tear himself down, and basically, fought off one of my brother's biggest hurdles in life: low self-esteem. That makes my brother sound like he has been in some huge pit of depression. Au contraire! Ryan has always been the happy go-lucky, crowd winning, talk-up-a-storm, entertaining knucklehead of the family. But when it came to his own accomplishments, he struggled with doubt before even beginning them. While he dated Eleanor, our whole family watched as she would lift him up, press him on, and not let him sink back down. Praise God for her.

Granted, we were a little concerned about their financial situation, but we knew many people who had married with less... so, congratulations you two!!

What's that? You've set a date? Oh wonderful! When?
In six weeks? Oh. Wow.
At Mom and Dad's house?
Okay. That is just wonderful. We love y'all! Bye.

I could already see the chore list being formed in my Mom's head. Thirty seconds after the hang-up and she probably had at least, oh, 57 things she could think of that she needed to do at home. Great. A once in a life vacation and Mom was making a chore list. You see, my parents... that's what they do. They had six kids, got a big piece of land and started making chore lists. Forever and ever, amen. I don't really remember a Saturday where my Mom didn't greet us in the morning without one on the counter, or my Dad NOT calling from the station with, "Okay, let me talk to a son. I've thought of some chores." Yay. We LOVE chores.

I looked at her and said, "Mom. Let it go. Eleanor's family is responsible for most of the planning. You're on vacation anyway.
She was like, "Amy!! They are having it at OUR house. In six weeks! When we get back from this trip, I'll only have five weeks!"
Me: "Mom. Stop. The house is already beautiful because you keep it that way. Don't go overboard with what you want to do. And for now, you are in the Virgin Islands for a week. You can't get back to start mopping, so let it go."

Ryan and Eleanor, I love y'all. But your timing on dropping THAT bomb on Mom was a little inconvenient.

So, we sailed and I think she really did let it go. Mostly. Every now and then I caught her tearing up because she was overwhelmed by her chore list... but I would kiss her cheek and ask if she was having fun and she would nod, smile, and stop adding onto her list.

May 11, 2013.
We were back in Alabama and lo and behold, the place was beautiful. I never doubted my parents. Ryan too had put extra work into the place, planting extra green grass at the ceremony site and even a lush, green aisle for his beloved to walk on. Lanterns were hung in the trees with care, planks placed across log pieces for pews, and tables, tablecloths, cakes, candles, chairs and everything you need for a wedding was arranged.
It was a sweet, sweet ceremony. The joining of two, true Christians always is.

Caleb, like he has in all three of his siblings' weddings, cried like a baby. We all miss him so much way
up in Oregon.


The weather started off foggy that morning. The air was soaking wet and the sky overcast. The number of prayers that must have gone up was evident, because the "sun came out and dried up all the rain" at 11:00. Now it was humid. Typically humid for Alabama and I think everyone realized they had only been praying for sun... and started praying again. At exactictocaly 2:00 pm, as the grandmothers walked down the grassy aisle, a beautiful breeze started blowing and remained for the rest of the day.
Isn't God kind?

Trying to obey the command to laugh. And failing miserably. I think my husband is trying to be Santa Claus.

And so, they were wed. Two became one and the females in the Porter clan are now only outnumbered by one.