I was holed up in a labor and delivery room in Alexandria Inova Hospital with Peter, thinking that labor would never really get going, even with a little assistance (yes, induced for very good medical reasons). Little did I know that in just a few hours, this little champ would pop out (well, you know...), make her presence known, and forever change the course of our lives in so many good ways.
Obligatory crazy-colored background baby photo. No worries, friends stopped by and took other (much better) photos, but this one still goes in the memory book. Here it comes: how was the now nearly 5' 10" (now) redhead, beautiful and with such style ever this wee?
Being an almost 3 week old baby is exhausting. Apparently, so is being the wee one's dad, and "Big Fifter" (it's how the dog talked, okay?). Mom, on the other hand, somehow had tons of energy (thank you, coffee).
They grow like weeds! Not much more than a year later, and Cait is visiting Auntie Shannon and Sandy (the original Salty Dog) at VA Tech. Once a Hokie fan, always a Hokie fan...oh, how we loved those trips to Blacksburg, which we only had to curtail because....
Holy heck, we moved to Caracalus! And vacationed (once for 4 days, but you know...) in Bonaire. Nothing made Cait happier than hanging out on the beach...and prolly unbeknownst to Cait, this was one of her Grandmom's favorite photos. Sniff...no, can't afford to get that verklempt this early into the blog post.
Hanging out with dad in early 2002 at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Caracus. We had to take a crazy jeep ride up the side of a mountain, but then had the most unforgettable meal to include the best pico de gallo I've ever tasted. The gourmet dinner was accompanied by the most amazing view of the ocean....
And then Cait is suddenly *almost* four. We realized that her birthday will be two weeks after we move after we move back to the States, and she will miss out on celebrating with her friends if we don't act quickly. So, we planned a quick little shin-dig, and couldn't pass up the life size Cinderella pinata. They were everywhere in Caracas and extremely well-designed. The movers spent hours packing this treasure, and if Bailey, our numero uno Fur-In Service Gato hadn't decided to take frequent naps in the mid-section once she was unpacked in the US, she might have lasted longer than 9 months.
I found the first day of kindergarten photo! Woo-hoo! Seriously, though, 5 years old, are you kidding me? The most amazing thing about this day was that Peter was actually home to witness it. I'll save the photo proof for the retirement party, but he was technically around. This was nothing short of a miracle, given he spent most of his time being a world traveler on Secretary's Detail (54 countries in 3 years, some of them several times!). He brought us home Belgian chocolate frequently, so it all worked out, but still FIVE.
Then six rolled around. Instead of being prepared, I realized that time was flying faster, and if I didn't look around quickly....
life was going to spin right past me.
Just before seven rolled around, we did that whole crazy, fun moving to Iceland thing, which involved lots of festivals, winter coats in August and other fun...I'll just say we still miss it terribly, lest that whole verklempt thing start up again.
Eight! Super Girl still living in Iceland, hanging out with Stephanie from Lazy Town, and enjoying a good trick or treat session at the embassy.
Nine brought us repeat trips to glaciers. Don't all the cool kids hang out at Gullfoss? I'm not going to think that she is now nearly twice that age.
Halfway through 4th grade, Cait added big sister times two to her resume. Not long after that we all packed up and headed to California for a two year tour near San Francisco.
California had us so busy. School, travel, festivals everywhere, so much to explore outdoors...and before we knew it, Cait started Middle School not long after turning 11.
The following year had us headed back to Virginia while Peter completed an Unaccompanied Tour in Iraq. It was kind of a crazy year, though this photo shows one of the happier times. Pete left not long before Cait's birthday, and hated to miss it. So, what dad doesn't wake himself up at 4:30 a.m. to Skype into the birthday celebration? He even saved a slice of cake to share with her, so it was almost like he was home. Darn it all, where *are* those tissues?
Finally, ye olde teenagerhood! Cait could now officially do crazy things like fly to Iceland by herself (okay, technically not until the following year) and get up even earlier for school (somehow possible).
She may have turned 14 two months before, but you never outgrow the cow train. Sailing along through freshman year of high school, while Pete tackled his second UT in Kabul. Not always easy, but easier knowing that we would soon be...
living in amazing Nicaragua for the next three years.
Our lives are a bit different from the US with all of our canyon-traversing, Marine ball dancing, and volcano lagoon swimming. So, sometimes we throw in a few traditions from home like Halloween. If pressed, I'd have to say it's Cait's favorite holiday. Trying not to think ahead to next year when Cait will be at that college place and we will be...oh, yeah, check back in a few months!
And now...we end with another beginning. The beginning of senior year, then off to college while we are in (insert fabulous place from bid list we are hopefully sure to get?)?
Photo credit to Jana Bannan at mkPhoto; Credit for fabulous senior photo shoot idea to Dr. (Auntie) Shannon.
What else can I write, but Feliz Cumpleanos, Cait! Enjoy your 17th and remember that the best is yet to come....