Mele Kalikimaka from the O’Brien ‘Ohana!
Oh, by the way, we’re BAAACCCCKKKK!!!!!!! And this time, we brought reinforcements! Hopefully, we are in the skies over the great Pacific by the time this post is published. Yes, somehow, some way, we have finagled our butts back to the state that we love most (sorry, Texas, you’re holding strong in third place after Colorado). But, for this particular adventure, some of our dearest friends just happen to be tagging along with us!
I am guessing that most of you reading this already know the Strawns; they seem to know EVERYBODY. If you don’t know them, then you should. I first met Paige back in 2005, the year we moved to Dallas. Casey and I were enjoying some girl time at the Swordbridge pool back in our old neighborhood, Castle Hills. She was only 20 months old and barely walking, but somehow that girl managed to worm her way over from the baby pool to an open purse full of snacks.
Before I knew it, she was stuffing a handful of goldfish in her mouth and this pretty mom with gorgeous hair was smiling and talking with Casey like she had known her all her life (which, by the way, is how Paige talks to everyone when she first meets them!) I don’t remember any other details about that day except for Paige and I exchanging some pleasantries and thinking to myself, ‘this woman sure was sweet to Casey. I wonder if she has a connection to someone with Down Syndrome.’
The next morning, who calls me out of the blue but this same mom. “Hi! We met at the pool yesterday. I was the mom with the snacks. I was wondering if you and Casey wanted to join our play group on Fridays. We would love to have you!” (And, for the moms of special needs kids reading this… the answer was an emphatic yes, I was just as excited as you would think a special needs mom would be getting an invite like that.) Alas, those pesky weekly therapy appointments kept us from ever joining their play group, but I’m pretty sure God really wanted us to be friends because less than a year later, I got a frantic call from another neighborhood mom that Paige had just delivered a new baby girl. She was several weeks early, had some heart issues and the doctors were suspecting that this new baby had Down Syndrome, just like my Casey… could I talk to her? Now, seriously, what are the odds of that?
So just like that, our bond formed before we even really knew each other. Fourteen years later, Paige’s family (of which two more boys have been added) and my family have slowly intermingled like yarn knitted together to make the coziest wool sweater. We have survived together two more pregnancies, several moves, multiple illnesses, injuries, surgeries, and countless other stress-inducing activities that families of special needs kids endure. But we have also sent excited kids to summer camps together, celebrated birthdays, thrown parties, raised money for Down Syndrome causes, and spent many nights laughing (and probably drinking) too much. Even though the Strawns moved to Tulsa over 8 years ago, Casey and her Shelby Kate are still best buddies (wait till you see what we bought them to wear in Hawaii!) Turner and Dan are like brothers, Mack adores and looks up to Dan (who says he never needed any more siblings because he has the Strawns) and underneath Bodie’s rough-and-tumble exterior is the sweetest little soft spot for his Casey. Not to mention, we could leave Luke (look for his pic under ‘extrovert’ in the dictionary) and Mike (who would prefer to be dropped off on a desert island than attend a party), for hours and they would never know we left.
Fortunately, we have traveled together before many times, so we have an inkling as to what we are getting into. However, this trip is sure to be epic; with its 8 hour flight each way, 4 hour time delay, 2 condos, 1 SUV and of course, a 15 passenger van that will carry us all around the Big Island of Hawaii in style. I am so excited to show our best friends our favorite place on earth! And, no need to worry… I bought a selfie stick to make sure we get our whole gang in the 8 zillion pictures we will be taking the next 10 days.