There are so many things about the vacation I could write about today. For example, the amazing food we tasted, the beautiful sights we visited, the wonderful little shops we stopped in... and I plan to. However, the point of this blog is for so much more than just a "this is what we did" post. There was some real healing and restoration not only in our relationship but within myself and that's what I want to write about today... the moments I don't want to forget.
When Zeryk took time off from work for vacation, he wanted me to book a mini vacation for myself to go out of town with a friend and I immediately thought.. NEW YORK! I could shop, walk the city, go sightseeing and visit with a dear friend! However, as we all know, sometimes God has other plans for us, whether we realize it right then or not. When I found out my friend wasn't able to go, I immediately thought of Zeryk and what we could do together. After searching for the "right" place, we settled on Afton Mountain Bed & Breakfast. I chose this place because there were no t.v.'s in the room, no big cities right next door and there were country roads to explore. There was a peace that radiated to us and we wanted to go.
The morning started off rough. First, my OBGYN scheduled our ultrasound & perinatal appointment for Zim Orion at one location and told us to go to a whole other location. So we arrive only to be told "you're in the wrong place". We started to leave and as we were, I called the correct place to let them know we would be late to our appointment... only for them to say "Oh.. you could have just had your appointment there. We can switch your appointment over to that location." Whew. At this point, I'm flustered. I've walked all over a hospital trying to find places to go and we had already called for our car from valet. Zeryk waited for them to bring the car around to let them know we needed it parked again (embarrassing) while I took the kids upstairs with me. I get upstairs to the 2nd floor where I was told to go only for them to tell me "Oh, you're on the wrong second floor. You have to go downstairs, take a left, go up those elevators and you'll be on the right 2nd floor." You could have probably blown me over. I was done at this point. I was on the verge of tears, frustrated and just all around ready to leave. It seemed like no one had anything together and it was cutting deeply into our vacation time. We sat upstairs for another hour waiting on the appointment to begin since they now had to squeeze us in to their location, the kids were fussy and annoyed since they hadn't eaten lunch yet and Zeryk and I at this point were feeling overwhelmed. But the moment we were called back and that ultrasound machine was on and we saw our sweet son's face... it was worth it. All of the frustration melted off of me. We wrapped up the appointment, grabbed the littles some lunch, dropped the littles off to my mom and headed on our way to Afton, VA.
On the drive up, Zeryk and I both agreed to a do-over and we restarted our day right then. We held hands, laughed, talked, danced and just enjoyed the drive there. When we arrived, we were greeted by Dan & Orquida and given a tour of the home. We settled in to our room and that's where everything completely melted away; the stress, the guilt of leaving our kids behind while we went on vacation, the thoughts of my business and if I could really take time off from it... everything. We unpacked our belongings and went out on the upper deck to listen to the rain pounding against the roof outside. This was it. This was the moment we were waiting for and didn't even know. I looked over at Zeryk as he was perched perfectly in the chair and my heart started to race with excitement and nervousness. Would we know HOW to be alone? I mean sure, we had dates here and there but those were only for a few hours at a time. We hadn't spent a night alone since 2011. 5 years. Would we know HOW any longer? What would we fill the awkward silence with?
I walked over to him and as I was, he snapped a photo of me with his phone. I laughed and said "what are you doing?" and he said "enjoying the view." He sat down while I snapped photos of the rain pouring down and of the landscape I could see. We went back inside to pick a place for dinner and eventually settled on Devil's Backbone Brewery & Restaurant. We shared a bbq platter and headed back to the room. When we returned, we ran a bath and after, we relaxed for the first time in 5 years together without interruption. In this moment, I started to miss the sounds of littles running through the house, laughing and playing but at the same time, I was so in love with the sound of Zeryk's heart beating gently in my ear.
The rest of our time was spent with these fleeting moments. These moments that passed so quickly but boy, do I cherish them dearly. There were moments of sharing our dreams, sharing our hopes for the future, sharing what we thought being a parent would be like, sharing how we've seen one another grow so much over the last 7 1/2 years, sharing how we simply just do not take enough time to be together. These moments were intimate and special. They were needed so much more than I even realized. Before bed, we grabbed some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies from the tray outside of our room and laughed at how silly it is that we're so excited for cookies. We fell asleep to only the sound of the radio softly playing 50's music and drifted off into the next morning.
When I woke up on Tuesday, I awoke with a heart swollen with love for the man beside me. We spent the night laughing at awful jokes, sharing our deepest secrets, kissing & cuddling... we spent a night being ourselves without reservation or worry of what the other would think. It was beautiful and it was one of the best moments I've ever shared with my husband. We both went downstairs to enjoy a home cooked breakfast by Orquida & Dan; blueberry oatmeal pancakes, local sausage and bananas drizzled with an orange yogurt cream. During breakfast, we met a beautiful couple from New York who were traveling down to Florida to catch some blue grass shows. They shared their passion for blue grass and we shared some laughs and sweet moments over breakfast before they left on their way. Zeryk and I finished up our breakfast and headed out of the door for a day of exploring. We had no plan. We just wanted to follow wherever we were led.
We ended up on a four hour drive through the mountains which led us to some beautiful sights. We saw an abandoned school, wineries, farms, old broken down vintage trucks, cabins tucked far away into the hillside, flowing creeks and rivers, waterfalls, wild animals and some of the curviest roads I have ever driven. We even had the not-so-fun side of nature join us when a massive golf-ball sized moth slammed in to Zeryk's neck from his open window. We shared laughter as he screamed out and I started swatting my hands before I even knew what was going on. Luckily, everyone survived.. even the moth who quickly found his way out of another window. On the drive home, a beetle flew in through my window and gripped right on to my lip. I had literally JUST closed my mouth. Again, the same situation unfolded with screams, swatting and freaking out as we both rolled our windows up tightly and swore to not open them again on our drive.
On the way back, we stopped at a little pizza restaurant to share some pizza and loving looks across the table at one another. When we returned to the room, we played together in the pool... like children. We played marco-polo (even though Zeryk totally cheats and looks), we splashed water, had swimming contests and I attempted to teach Zeryk how to float... which did not work out so well after he almost drowned us both. lol When we found our way back to the room, this is where the magic happened.. and before your mind goes to the gutter, I'm not talking about "THAT" kind of magic. lol Zeryk ran himself a bath and relaxed while I looked through the journals that were on the nightstand. I looked up for a moment and saw my husband with a relaxed face, arms thrown on the back of the tub, head back and there it was again. Those butterflies. I was filled with thankfulness. What a sight to see... I had a quick thought of "wow. That's MY husband." and it was beautiful. I fell even more in love with him because I realized during this trip, I was seeing a side of him I hadn't noticed before in our busy lives. He has grown so much since our last time of spending time alone. His baby-soft face had grown manly features, his beard is down to his chest and his body has filled out more from the boyish figure he had when we first met. His voice was deeper and his eyes had small, fine lines around them now when he smiles. I tried not to stare because I honestly did not want to seem creepy while he was getting a bath but he looked up right as I was looking and unlike we do when our eyes meet strangers, I didn't look away.. I kept looking and so did he. We smiled at one another and shared an "I love you" without saying a word. I looked back down and kept reading the journal entries as he finished up his bath.
When he finished, he ran a bath for me filled with bath salts and relaxing bath bombs. He walked over to me, grabbed me by the hands and walked me to the bath. He took a moment to help me out of my robe and into the tub. As I sat down to relax, I looked up for a quick moment and I saw it... I saw what I couldn't see for the past 7 1/2 years. I saw my husband's face and how he looks when he sees me. I saw a look of love on his face. Unfiltered, unmatched love as he was looking at me. In that moment, God granted me a vision of Zeryk's heart and I could see in that very moment just how much my husband loves me. How much he adores every inch of me... even the inches I hate. You see, for so long, my husband has always said how beautiful he thought my body is and I couldn't ever see it. I hated my body; all the while he was loving it. In that moment, I saw just how much my husband loves me and I felt it for the first time in 7 1/2 years.. I loved myself as a whole. Not just who I am as a person, not just what I do for others, not just for my heart.. but for ME. It was beautiful and it was freeing.
When I finished my bath, I stood in front of the body-length mirror and I just stared at myself without clothing on. It was uncomfortable at first, but as I looked, I saw two scars where I carried two amazing children and had a c-section. I saw Zim pushing out from my belly. I saw laugh lines from sharing years of laughter with those that I love. I saw myself, as a whole and I was ok with it. I was actually more than ok.. I loved what I saw. I knew that this was something more, something different than I have ever felt. This was acceptance. This was acknowledgement that I am who I am and that my husband loves me for it. No one has ever looked at me the way he looks at me and I see that now. The look of love that he had on his face cut me straight through the heart because it was just so pure. And you know what's even more amazing? I see it all the time now. When I walk in to a room, when our eyes meet, when I'm sipping water and I happen to glance up, when I'm laughing.. especially when I'm laughing... I see it. I see him and I see the way he sees me.
That's what this whole vacation was about. This God-ordained moment. It wasn't just for relaxation but it was for restoration and healing of myself and of our relationship. The rest of our time was spent playing Scrabble together, laughing, sharing more dreams, kissing & cuddling, eating amazing food, shopping at wonderful antique stores and just being together. I knew in my heart that nothing could ever top that moment so I was ok with whatever else we would do from then out.
Our last night, we both dressed up after our baths and headed out for dinner. We settled on a little back-woods bbq place however, as we all know, with pregnancy... you crave something and then the next moment the craving is gone. We decided to take the food home for lunch the next day and go somewhere else for our last night. We ended up at a seafood restaurant called Oceanwide Seafood and oh my word.. the food was amazing. I had a bowl of chili and it was absolutely delicious. It had the perfect amount of heat and flavor. Zeryk had the half & half pot and was in love. He seriously cave-man style dug into that thing! lol It was filled with shrimp, crabs, corn on the cob and red potatoes. He ate every last bit and asked to see the chef. After thanking Chef Travis for the amazing meal, we headed back to the room. We closed the night out with balcony sitting, Scrabble and hot chocolate with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Zeryk even took the time to paint my toenails for me and give me a foot massage.
When we woke the next morning, we had breakfast which again, was amazing. Orquida made a zucchini & cheddar frittata and local bacon alongside a strawberry, yogurt & oat parfait. We loved on Fritz, the sweet house dog and said our goodbyes to Dan & Orquida. Our trip home was spent talking and reminiscing about the days we spent together and we both agreed that we need more of them. I grabbed Zeryk's hand and we drove to pick up our littles.
Zeryk had one last surprise for me after we picked up our little ones; one that I wasn't even expecting. He pulled out a burgundy Helzberg Diamonds bag and said "I love you". I opened the box to see white gold 1/3 c diamond earrings and was flooded with so much emotion. The moment was perfect as Zophie yells out from the back seat "WOW MOM! They're so shiny!" lol Ah, little ones! Always lightening the mood.
The vacation doesn't feel over to me since I do have my husband home until July 5th which is such a blessing. Even though we are home, I'm still seeing the way he looks at me... even through the screaming and fighting of a 5 year old and 4 year old. Since returning home, I can tell such a difference in who we are as a couple and as parents. Our patience is renewed and we're able to laugh off some of the things that was stressing us out before. The air is lighter and together, we know that anything is possible.
You see, this vacation was so much more than I realized I needed. I knew I needed some time off and some time to just be myself... but I didn't realize how much I needed to know just how much my husband loves me and he needed to know how much I love him. I love that man more than words can even begin to match and I know that, but I don't think he knew just how much I appreciate him not only as a husband but as a father to our children. We both needed to hear it, to see it and to feel it because to be quite honest, in the every day life of children, housework and business... it's easy to forget to stop for a moment and share love.
So I encourage you... if you have not taken the time to spend a one-on-one vacation with the person you love, please do it. And hey, even if you are both alone all the time, go somewhere without distraction, somewhere new.. where no one knows you. I promise you, it's so worth it. Submerge yourself into your new surrounding and just let things happen naturally. Zeryk and I went on this vacation without any plans. We didn't want the stress of feeling like we HAD to meet all of our expectations. We just went with it and it was the best time I have ever had in my life.
If you're still with me after this long blog post, thank you! I truly hope something in there spoke to you, resonated with you and inspired you to do something for yourself and for love. In closing, I'm leaving you with a few of my favorite shots from our trip. If you want to see more, you can head over to my instagram to check out some that were shared during the vacation. @visionofrosephoto <- click here to go :) As you look through the gallery below, be sure to click on each photo to bring it up in full size!