Here goes one final quarter without my husband. This separation has been hard on our marriage, no doubt. Looking back over 2011 (9 months of it spent across the state from one another), we traveled a lot during his school breaks.
January thru March - We started sponsoring Lucien, an 8-year old boy from Togo who shares Cameron's birthday. Cameron received acceptance to Eastern Washington University. We began thinking about traveling to Europe, initially wanting to backpack/take the train through multiple countries. As school got closer, we saw this was an unrealistic desire at the time.
March - school started. Quite possibly the strangest month of my life. We had been married 3 years and decided that we could handle a year of separation (by God's strength) in order for Cameron to finish school at a reasonably-priced institution with the program he wanted.
April - We traveled back and forth over I-90. I got to visit my Grandma Lorraine's gravesite in Spokane (a little over a year after she died). We also started exploring Spokane (a fun thing to do, but definitely felt no pull to live there). We both love our side of the state and being around family. We started thinking about buying property in Western Washington.
May - Another month of traveling. We saw each other every 2-3 weeks. We started realizing that this was far too long to go without seeing each other. We discussed how the next few quarters would go and agreed to try to do the drive every weekend.
June - Cameron had about a month off at home. I kept bugging him about going backpacking at least once over the break. We packed the car and started driving toward Vancouver, WA, with a route in mind for a 2-night trip. Arriving in Vancouver to POURING rain, we decided to just keep driving and visit Napa, CA. Toured wine country for a day and a half and drove back refreshed but tired from 3 days of driving. We considered this our 'substitute' for not traveling to Europe (hey, Napa is a mini-Italy).
July - At the beginning of the month, we met with a real estate agent recommended to us by our bank's mortgage officer. Start of summer quarter. We didn't see each other much, as Cameron's school schedule was packed into 4 weeks of intense work. Cameron turned 24.
August - Cameron came home from school. We started talking again about traveling to Europe (possibly via cruise this time), but the expense was again too high. Cameron and his sister, Shanna visited their dad in TX. At the end of the month, I got an email from vacationstogo.com with the very cruise we had looked at in the beginning of the summer discounted about 75%. I called Cameron (who was on a layover back from TX) and told him about the trip. We purchased the tickets and planned for departure in 2 weeks.
September - I left work on a Tuesday night, flying down the stairs in excitement. We left for Italy the next morning. 2 1/2 days in Rome and a 14-day cruise was exhausting but the thrill of our lives! We saw so much incredible architecture, art, history, and Biblical remains. I forget how many photos we took, but we still haven't organized them all! We got home from our trip at 11PM and Cameron made the 4 hour drive to school for his 11AM class the next morning.
October - We instituted the traveling every weekend policy in our marriage. Of course there were still about 2 weekends where we couldn't make it happen, but overall, we were both much happier.
November - It's hard to remember this month. December is so busy for us every year. I know we had Thanksgiving, but that's about all I can hold in my think tank.
December - I turned 24. We had a nice dinner at Spazzo's Italian with family and Lauren. We visited our dear friends Steven and Julia in Orlando, FL. Went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and SeaWorld and visited Julia's family in South Florida. Cameron got to go 'alligator hunting' (for pictures, of course) while Julia and I lay on the beach (it was a perfect 70-degree day with a breeze). Celebrated our 4th anniversary with dinner inside Disney's Epcot at the Moroccan restaurant. I ate prunes for the first time with dinner and they were delicious! We celebrated Christmas with both our families. I made my first prime rib.
I am thankful for the opportunities God has provided for us. We have a great place to live with his mom; family is all within walking distance (since my parents live in the same neighborhood); my job provides well for both of us; we have been able to travel more this year than all our previous years of marriage combined; Cameron has been able to work toward his Bachelor's Degree; the people of our church have blessed us tremendously by supporting us through a hard year; we have visited friends and family; and we are still growing together as a couple by God's grace.
We are REALLY looking forward to the year to come, as Cameron finishes school and we look into home ownership and parenthood. Thank you to all of you who have supported us in your individual ways. We so appreciate you!