I distinctly remember the moment I let go of my plan for a family trip to New Zealand.
One of Anne’s requests while home last summer was to have lobster, so we decided to take them to one of our favorite restaurants on a Wednesday night when they have $13 lobsters. We decided to invite Taylor and Laura to join us.
That afternoon Anne planned to tell Laura that she was pregnant. She hadn’t quite figured out a good way to share her good news, but when they were discussing dinner out she wondered aloud if it was okay for her to eat lobster. Laura immediately caught on and they rejoiced together. Dinner felt like a celebratory event.
Soon after we sat down, I brought up the planned trip for January 2016. How was that going to fit with an April baby? I wanted to go in April and I already had a ticket for late October so it seemed obvious that I needed to change my plans. Anne wanted Laura and Taylor to come “when I’m feeling good” so that she would be up for showing them around her new home and country.
It was right then that I gave up the idea of all of us going together. I was a little sad not to share in the event, but I knew it was the best way of handling the new circumstances. We ended up deciding to send the Birkey’s on their own. I would go in April and John and Lizi would come in May. (Johnny gets to go whenever he gets his act together!)
The months went by and gradually plans started to shape up. I still felt a little sad about not sharing the experience with the Birkey’s (and not being able to help with the travel part of it) but I knew that this was the way it had to be.
Tickets were purchased and details worked out when John learned of his “early retirement” plans. I offered to send him with the Birkey’s for an after-retirement trip, kind of hoping that he wouldn’t take me up on the offer. He didn’t jump at the offer and even when I encouraged him and Laura found reasonable tickets, he hesitated to add “one more person” to the mix. He knew he could help with the travel, but he was afraid that one more person would complicate so many other things Then, he was too busy finishing up his last projects to think about anything at all. He told me I could go ahead and plan a trip south, but he couldn’t even think about it.
They left and we left a few days later. We texted and sent pictures back and forth between our two vacations, agonizing through the tough travel and rejoicing when things went well. Two extra seats for the Honolulu-Auckland trip. A missed flight. A broken stroller. An Auckland Angel that helped them in the airport.
Annie, of course, was beyond excited to welcome Taylor, Laura, Kellen, Oaks and Olive to her home country. Though Laura and Taylor were happy to be with James and Anne in New Zealand, I think it took them much of the first week to get over the trauma of the trip. Laura did a Periscope on Day 3, telling her friends about a past dream to go on a lot of adventures. As a mom, she was finding this adventure more stressful than she imagined. She couldn’t call this a “vacation”–too much stress.
By the second week, up on the North Island, they settled in and started to really enjoy their time. They stayed home and only took day trips. They went to church with James and Anne and met their friends and family. They saw the Wedding Tree, beaches on both sides of the Island, glow worms, and the lots of good cafes. Anne and Laura went together for nose piercings (Whaaatt?)
Here are some of the Instagram and Viber messages that we enjoyed:
Anne: “My heart is so full these days! (and seriously, that face.)
Anne: Baby looks good on you!
Laura: Deeply thankful for these days of exploring my sister’s home and the life she has made here. That and 4 coffee lovers traveling the country…and we have no arguments about how to spend our time.
Anne: Went to Raglan with the cutest hippie around. (Raglan is kind of a hippie surf town.)
Laura: Best quote of the trip: While on a walk, Kellen says to me, “Mom, you’re so precious to me. Walking with you is just like walking with Jesus.”
Taylor’s photo/Laura’s comment:
It’s gorgeous! Can’t believe all the sweet places that are so close.
Anne: James and I are soaking in these special moments with our nephew and niece.
Laura: And just like that, the sun sets on our New Zealand Adventure. Kellen is excited to go home to his toys, but I, for one, am hanging on to the rays of light our time here has brought: Sweet time with my sister, growing as friends and (almost) mamas was the best souvenir. Watching her as a wife and homemaker was the best of the scenery. And this view from her backyard? So thankful for it all.
What mama’s heart wouldn’t glow with a report like that? Mine certainly did! I am so thankful that the plans I set aside made room for something even sweeter: Two sisters (and their husbands) enjoying a unique time together and growing as friends.
P.S. I have to add a few more pictures just because they are so beautiful. If you are reading this on your phone, keep scrolling all the way to the comments. It’s so difficult to get pictures to behave in WordPress 🙁
And last, but not least:
Anne: And they’re off! Sending them your way mum and dad.
Though I wish they’d been able to stay longer, it’s kind of nice to have them home :-).