preparing for surgery: a surprise vacation

I LOVE surprises.  Kevin and I often joke that surprises are my love language.  Being the receiver of a surprise is almost as fun as planning one for someone else.  And this is why, a few weeks ago, I found myself wide awake the night before our big adventure. We did not tell anyone we were leaving.  In this world of social media, it really felt like we were sneaking away.

There was and is so much to be done before Elie's surgery.  The November 3 date on the calender seems to be rushing at us with lightening speed.  If we went by to do lists we knew we needed to stay home and "get stuff done".   But something else was stirring in Kevin and I.  We needed to get away.  We needed to build a memory for our family that we could think back upon in the coming months.  We needed to spend time together away from the chaos of life.

Thursday night we planned it out.  Friday, while the kids were away at school, I packed our family up for our adventure, turned off my phone and put it away for the weekend.  Saturday morning we told the kids to pack an activity bag and get in the car. We would not tell them where we were going.  They could ask questions and we promised to answer them truthfully.  Are we going to Nana's?  No.  Are we going to Ohio? No.  It wasn't until Kody started to see the highway signs after Richmond that he figured out our destination.... Virginia Beach.

Our toes did not touch the sand this summer.  Kevin was not able to spend long periods of time in the sun.  So while our hearts longed to be in the ocean, it just wasn't a reality for us.  This is my happy place.  This is my family's happy place.  There is something about the beach that is like a balm for our soul.

We packed the kids scooters and skateboards.  Our first stop was to hit the boardwalk on wheels.  Our crew is a force moving down the beach.  My heart swelled with emotion watching Elie use the razor and couldn't help but think of the road we have traveled to get to this place.  Our goal:  by next summer she will be up on this scooter again!

This was London's first time to see the mighty ocean.  Like a true member of Team Judkins, her spirit soared and delighted in the roar of the waves.  We quickly had to lose the hoodie so she could go all in. This one has some wild courage and a sense of adventure.  The warm water of the fall ocean makes it perfect for an swim even on a chilly day.

We woke to a beautiful ocean sunrise and another big announcement.  Today's adventure would include Busch Gardens.  At this point my child who likes to know what will be happening every minute of every day, Tyler, told us that he couldn't take any more surprises. While he was very excited to be headed towards the amusement park, he let us know that "one more surprise will kill me".  Guess surprises are not this one's love language.

Our time together at Busch Gardens was magical.  I loved the quality time with each of them.  I loved seeing their adventurous spirits.  I loved watching their friendships with each other and dreaming about what the years ahead will bring for their relationships.  I loved it.... every second of it.

The days coming are scary.  I feel at times like we are heading up the first hill of the rollercoaster.  Tick, Tick, Tick.  But look at this girl's face and the love of her siblings.  I think we are going to be okay.

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