As you've guessed, this summer was a time of transition, with lots of quick changes seemingly weekly. It almost brought me back to spring 2020 when I started my job with the Remote Processing Unit in the Domestic Operations division of Visa Operations within Consular Affairs. Inside we call that CA/VO/DO. I had finished training and was just learning my job when the pandemic hit, but the pandemic led to global changes in visa adjudications. For weeks, the changes came at us almost minute to minute, for the class of visa we adjudicated to the exceptions to the annotations. We worked until we got new guidance, instituted the new guidance until something else replaced it which could literally come down 10 minutes later. It was an infuriating few weeks and months.
After writing that I realize that this summer was nowhere near as hectic as March-May 2020. It was a different sort of limbo. For one, I was alone and the other it was purely work related. This time Ian and I just did the limbo together, and thankfully we didn't have the kids stuck in the middle with schools and schedules.
One thing we scheduled early in the year was a family trip to Virginia Beach. We're all super-familiar with this beach, I've been going since before I knew Ian, but this time all the kids (minus one significant other) was over 21. While we had a rental house a few blocks from the sand, the kids were old enough to go and do whatever they wanted - alone, with a small group, with everyone. Some were caught in a rain storm, threw the football and frisbee around, walked on the boardwalk with Mokka, got snacks, got pedicures, and laid under the sun. Everyone played board games, watched movies, and played Hopper Jeopardy (thanks Jonathon!!). The only thing we asked each of the kids to do while there was make a meal one night during the week. Along with two meetups with the grandparents, a meal at a boardwalk restaurant and a BBQ at their home about an hour away, the kids did an amazing job feeding the clan. The person who struggled some with the week was Jonathon who a few weeks beforehand fell at the climbing gym and seriously injured his foot. He was still limping which wasn't ideal for not having an oceanside house. I'm really hoping it's not a permanent injury.
We traveled out to my parents' new home, the first time for all the kids to see it, and the first time my parents spent time with Taylor and Max. Speaking as, well, me... I had a fantastic time. I hope everyone else did too, but I know that the day is a core memory for me. Kat, Becca, Nicholas, and Jonathon are all so very different from each other but they each have so much in them that I treasure and adore. And there was so much to celebrate at this gathering. 2023 wasn't just any year. Because we hadn't had the opportunity yet, we included Jonathon's August 2022 graduation from university and Katherine and Erich's December 2022 engagement, and then also celebrated Nicholas's completion of 4 years with the Marine Corps in January, Becca and Max's wedding in April, all the birthdays including Ian's 50th in July, and my parents' 50th Anniversary in August. There's no reasonable cake big enough for that many good things. I want to interject here a huge thank you to all the family and friends who sent photo and video congratulations to Ian for his birthday video and a huge extra thanks to Max for video editing it all together. I think it actually surprised Ian and maybe made him a little at a loss for words. If I'd known how to make it work I would have done a big party or trip for his big year, but it was special in its own way.
Love these weird and wonderful people.