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Christmas Gifts for My Husband

Is it just me, or is the entire male species extremely hard to shop for? I hope it’s just me because this really isn’t a trial I’d wish on anyone else. I have a feeling this is pretty common across the board, though. Men are just hard to buy gifts for!

Why is this?

Do they think we girls are equally hard to shop for?

My husband never seems to have any issues finding amazing gifts for me. Nope, the only real problem in that department is reigning him in! Not only does he procure a nice Christmas gift for me (and usually has it picked out in August or something crazy!), but he uses our kids as an excuse to find four MORE incredible gifts! One year it was a Kindle. Another time a pair of luxury silk pajamas which he refused to tell me the price of. As a postpartum baby gift he showed up with an iPad (I’ll admit, sometimes it’s tempting to have more babies!), and this year I’m getting– oh wait. I’m not supposed to know what I’m getting, but thank you so much to the manufacturer who thoughtfully printed it all over the outside of the box prior to delivering it to my doorstep! Seriously, what is so wrong with shipping things in a blank cardboard box? It’s no fun knowing what’s hiding under that shiny wrapping paper!

The no-longer-a-mystery gift… But shhhh… you’ll have to wait ’til Christmas to find out what it is… Cuz I’m ornery like that! Somebody needs to be surprised, right?

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I stayed awake way too late the other night browsing Pinterest (which attempts to hold the answer to every problem in life!) for gift ideas for men and gifts for husbands. After two hours, yes, TWO HOURS, of browsing, you know what I concluded? Men must not like useful gifts. I can’t for the life of me imagine my hubby (or any guy I know!) even remotely enjoying cuff links with his initials carved into them, collar stays with a love note, a personalized tie with a picture of our kids, or a nap pod for his office at work? For real?! The majority of the gift suggestions assured me that most women are merely grasping at straws when it comes to finding the perfect gift for their men. Some of my favorites were:

A year of dates (all neatly planned and packed into 12 envelopes) – My husband is not a fan of dates as evidenced by our complete lack of them over the past 10 years.

A scrapbook of our love story – Well, considering he doesn’t like to pose for pictures either, this would be a very sparse scrapbook. Do guys even look at scrapbooks anyway? I think that’s more of a sentimental mom thing…

A cheesey wall plaque that reads like a Hallmark card – Trust me, my husband only notices the walls if I point them out to him. He couldn’t care less what I hang on them unless it was a life-size picture of myself or Kobe Bryant!

Masculine lotions and/or candles and beard-care kits – Really? I’ve never seen my guy put any kind of ANYTHING on his skin in all the time I’ve known him. Shaving cream and sunscreen aside…

Then there are all the inappropriate-to-unwrap-in-our-childrens’-presence gifts – Do couples really embarrass their kids like that on Christmas?! Besides that, my husband’s opinion of a new nightgown is, “Does it look good on the floor?” ‘Nuff said about THAT…

Then there is this stuff called Poo Pouri… Now that actually IS simmering away in my brain. I found a DIY recipe from Karrie at Happy Money Saver! That could be entertaining to leave under the Christmas tree, but technically it would be me giving a gift to myself since I appear to be the only one bothered by all those male odors emanating from the bathroom… Still, I will be mixing some of that up in the near future

 

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The majority of gift ideas for men were the usual tools, grill gear, tech gadgets, and clothes. My husband isn’t a tinkerer, doesn’t have time to grill, researches his own gadgets, and does his own clothes shopping. Again, unhelpful ideas. The result of those two hours of searching was that I now feel like I am either incredibly uncreative or that there must be something wrong with my husband that he doesn’t want a Bearded Ski Mask or Silk Suit Pajamas. Oh my word! Who thinks up these things?! How bored do you have to get to think sleeping in a tie or wearing an overgrown chin-wig is a brilliant idea?

So far, three out of the four gifts from our kids were things that he told me to order. Yes, I am that pathetic at choosing gifts 🙁  Wanna know what I gave my own father for Christmas? …Long John pants… Yep. I think it’s safe to say that gift-giving is most definitely not my love language.

So what’s a girl to do?

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Well, for now I am going to wrap the gifts from the kids, then I’ll probably spend too much time browsing one of my favorite catalogs, Uncommon Goods. They are chock-full of unique ideas. I wish people would shop for me from their catalog! Some of these travel-themed gifts are so cool! Scratch-off map, anyone? And I’ll take an Indonesian Batik Bag, thank you!

Next, I need to take a good look at my husband and who he is, not what gift manufacturers think he should be. He is obviously not the debonaire gentleman sporting custom cuff links and designer house shoes. Nope, my guy wears Batman pajama pants and Target-special slippers. He’s not a fan of public displays of romance; his idea of a date is kicking back and watching the latest release from Red Box from the comfort of our living room (look at it this way: at least I don’t have to shop for fancy date-night clothes… and I DO abhor shopping…). He’ll bring home fish-n-chips and the most amazing mac-n-cheese EVER rather than stand over a smoky grill and risk burning a tender chicken breast. He is a French-Californian. What that means is that he was born with a massive dose of French joie de vie along with a large side of California casual. It really is an amazing combination because there isn’t much that upsets him, and he is happy as a hibernating bear with the simple comforts of life: good food, cozy quilts, warm slippers, a cup of coffee, and a good movie. When he’s not exhausted from juggling work, soccer, and family he is quite the goofball. Case in point, he leaves little surprises like this in my camera roll if I leave my phone unsupervised…

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Yep, that’s my husband : ) His priorities usually bypass appearances and settle on a peaceful and comfortable home life. So, rather than wearing myself out in the search for that elusive, “perfect” gift portraying romantic love, I’ll shift my focus to things that make our time together at home relaxing and regenerating this season. My love language may not be gift-giving, but it IS spending quality time with the people I love.

At the end of the day, I’ll just ask him what else he needs that he won’t buy for himself, after which he’ll send me an e-mail with links to a variety of the same item which I can then choose from and still partially surprise him Christmas morning. And we will all be happy : )

What are YOU getting your husband for Christmas?

5 Insider Secrets of a Soccer Mom

I am a soccer mom.

I just survived another season of youth soccer.

It was so nice to sleep in on a Saturday morning! …Oh wait, that was my hubby who got to sleep in. Me? Well, I have this annoying biological clock that wakes me up at the same time every morning whether I need to be somewhere or not. So there I was this morning, lying awake in bed at 6:41 trying to convince myself that I wanted to stay cozily tucked under the duvet reveling in the joy of NOT having a schedule to keep. But nope. My brain was already committed to being awake. Too many Saturday mornings spent waking early and rushing to get kids to their soccer fields.

I’ve been a “soccer mom” now for five years. Wait… REALLY?! It seems CRAZY to me that it’s been that long already! I guess that should make me a pro by now, huh? Well, I don’t exactly feel like a pro at being a soccer mom. In fact, I even resisted that title for a long time. Now I have accepted it and maybe even embraced it a little. Maybe… I’ve at least gained five years of experience and wanted to share a few of my own tips for surviving a season of youth soccer and life as a soccer mom. So put on your Soccer Mom hat and listen up!

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Tip #1 – Get new wheels. Seriously. No, I’m not talking some high-falutin’ people-hauler or the traditional soccer-mom-minivan (although, that is what I drive…). I’m talking wagon wheels! Real, heavy-duty, off-roading wagon wheels that can handle any terrain from gravel parking lots to thick grass fields. I spent my first few seasons of soccer-momhood pulling and shoving my baby stroller across lush soccer fields. I have some great arm muscles as a result, but it sure made for an exhausting ordeal. Last Christmas my attentive hubby gifted me with one of these Mac Sports Utility Wagons. Seriously, guys, if you find yourself entering the soccer-mom world, this is your new best friend! I can pile this thing high with bags, babies, and blankets and still get around the soccer park. Someone may occasionally have to push or steady the mountain of junk, but it’s nowhere near the wrestling match my stroller and I would engage in! My stroller has taken up permanent residence with the spiders in the garage ; ) Even Bitty had no complaints about the trade; she still has room to ride!

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Tip #2 – Plan your meals. I totally failed at this, and let me tell you, it makes ALL the difference in keeping your sanity. We are at the park three nights a week and every Saturday. Most practice sessions overlap our customary supper hour, and of course Saturday games often extend into lunchtime. With my family’s food differences, we don’t eat from the concession stand or dine via the food trucks that show up, so all of our on-the-go meals have to be planned, assembled, and packed into a cooler beforehand. I’ve done pretty well in previous seasons, so I don’t know what happened this season; I was just a miserable failure, and we ended up eating lots of chips and peanut butter sandwiches. Plan ahead. Get it down on a calendar which meals you will be eating at home and which meals need to be sideline-friendly! I am working on some ideas to implement myself and to share with you in the coming soccer season : ) Because you never know when you’ll be forced to eat a sandwich while sandwiched into a sleeping bag with your bestie!

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Tip #3 – Keep the car stashed with necessities. This is just common sense but especially important if you’re a sports mom who spends alot of time living out of her kid-hauler. Every season I involuntarily start stashing stuff. Hats, gloves, water bottles, random boxes of Kleenex and wet-wipes, blankets, bandaids in Ziplock bags, essential oils and Basic-H2 tucked into cup holders. Everything ready for whatever the soccer field may throw at us! I discovered this past season that it might be a good idea for me to keep extra pairs of cleats stashed under a seat somewhere… Mad dashes back to the house ten minutes prior to a game really are not my thing!

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Tip #4 – Learn to accept help when it’s offered. I’m really bad at this one, so pardon me while I preach to the choir. I’m one of those, “I’ll just take care of it myself so it gets done right” kind of people. But I learned, during a previous season when I was in my last trimester of pregnancy, that sometimes (most times!) it’s OK and even helpful to accept someone’s gracious offer of assistance. Let someone bless you, and in turn you can bless them by being grateful and returning the favor at a later date. I have literally had people run to move their car so I could have their parking space and had referees haul my stuff in the Gator or other soccer parents watch all four of my kids while I ran home for the cleats one of my children (who shall remain nameless) forgot. We are humans. God created us to need each other and take care of each other, so let’s fulfill that purpose by being humble enough to accept help and offer help at every opportunity : )

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Tip #5 – If you glean nothing else from this blog post, remember this: show gratitude to those people who are working behind-the-scenes to keep your local soccer/sports league running smoothly. Their job is unending, exhausting, unappreciated, and steals valuable time away from their families. They are literally volunteering their life to give your kids the best experience possible. Take the time to go out of your way and say thank you to the person who stayed up until two o’clock in the morning working the puzzle of game schedules or who rolled out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to set flags in sub-zero temperatures to make sure fields were ready for games. Show appreciation for the introverted volunteer who braves the noise and people to teach soccer to a group of energetic kids. Respect the fourteen-year-old boy who is trying to remember all the rules from his referee training while irate parents are yelling at him for a missed call. These are volunteers, the servants of the community, who do this out of passion for the game. Thank you, guys!

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How to Raise a Generous Child

If I knew the magic formula that would guarantee a generous child in every case, I imagine I’d be a billionaire. Or at least the most successful parent in the world! But I don’t. I don’t even have a fraction of a formula. All I have is one incredibly generous child who would probably give the shirt off his back if he encountered someone who needed it more than he did. I have no clue how I managed to instill this awesome quality in him. If I did, you can be sure I wouldn’t have three other children who were polar opposites!

Bitty Girl has been incredibly cranky today (OK, she’s been incredibly cranky for the last week, but let’s not dwell on the past!). By lunchtime I’d reached the end of my noise-tolerance for the day (this doesn’t bode well for our afternoon…), and after fifteen minutes of listening to her go on and on and on and on and– Well, she wouldn’t stop whining and wailing. I wiped peanut butter off her face, brushed crumbs off her derriere, and hustled her off to bed.

Silence.

Literally. I mean, how is it possible that one child, the smallest child at that, can be the sole contributor of the noise and stress of the day?! I think she was asleep before I even made it down the hallway back to the dining area where the other kids were rushing through lunch so they could have the promised cookies. One by one, they appeared in the kitchen to claim their cookies. As Mr. Generosity took his cookies, I raised my voice so they could all hear me, “Bitty doesn’t get any cookies today, so just eat yours and don’t say anything about it when she wakes up from her nap.”

Five minutes later I started to clear the table and noticed half a cookie waiting on Bitty Girl’s plate. Not only that, but it looked to be the larger half of a cookie. One of her loving siblings had given up their right to eat two cookies so she could have some too. Fighting back tears, I peeked into the play room and asked, “Who saved half of their cookie for Bitty?” My oldest son glanced up casually, “I did.”

Of course. The bottomless pit who loves second helpings and asks for more food an hour after a meal is over, yet who is also willing to share a special treat to make sure his younger siblings can experience the same pleasure he is. I love it! This isn’t the first incidence either. He is especially attentive when it comes to his baby sister. My space-cadet son who can literally walk from one room to next and forget why he left the first room to begin with, somehow inherited the generosity gene that attracted me to my husband so many years ago. He may forget where he dropped his coat and which direction to write his “b’s” and “d’s,” but by the grace of God his brain is the first to notice a need or a wish that he is able to provide for. I’ll take that over the ability to spell “b-e-d” any day!

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My Small House

I live in a small house. Well, small compared to most of my neighbors’ and friends’ houses. I have a little more than 2600 square feet, which is actually a mansion compared to many houses, and I know I am incredibly blessed with this house. It’s far newer and nicer and more beautiful than any house I ever imagined I would realistically be living in. However, this house has, in my opinion, alot of wasted space. Who really needs 100 square feet of foyer space? …Especially when most people I know come to the back door… Or a breakfast nook that is unusable because it is also the back entrance? We have a master closet that is larger than the secondary bedrooms in our previous abode, and my laundry room, while enormous as far as laundry rooms go, is such a funky layout that I can’t add organizing furniture or even hooks on the walls without blocking the entrance to the garage. All said and done, I figure I have close to 500 square feet of floorplan just going to waste! That’s alot of space!

There are six of us living here, and when I say living, I mean LIVING. We are literally here 24-7, and believe me, it starts to feel pretty small when Legos spew out of the bedrooms and the trains start tracking around the foyer. I guess that oversized foyer might as well be put to good use… My project for the next few months is to delve into the creative recesses of my brain and find ways to make all the wasted space work for our lifestyle. It’s going to require some outside-of-the-box thinking. Like turning my laundry room into craft-supply central. The breakfast nook will be converted into a reading nook, and maybe I’ll even transform the foyer into a yoga studio! We’ll see… Stay tuned because you never know what crazy arrangement I’ll try! I promise I’ll be posting pictures as I go : )

How to write a blog

I am by no means an expert at how to write a blog. Just scrolling down my meager list of posts should tell you that much! But I do know how to write, how to bare my soul, tell a story, and keep someone entertained for even a few minutes. Over the last week I’ve asked myself THE question: what should I write about? What are people interested in? What do I really have to offer people? It seems like anything I have to contribute to the world has already been contributed in this overly-inflated blogosphere.

Honestly? I doubt I have any advice or tips or recipes or reviews that haven’t already been offered up by another blogger (or fifty!). What I do have is something only I have… My experiences from my perspective.

Ernest Hemingway put it this way, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Think about that for a second. The best writing comes when you simply let go and let your soul bleed out on paper (or keyboard if you type faster than you can write – and I can write pretty fast!). That’s what my writing has always been for me; an outlet for my thoughts, questions, and ideas. That’s what I want this blog to be. Maybe I won’t change the world with it (but a girl can dream, right?), but maybe I can be an encouragement to someone when they’re stressed out, or make someone laugh in the midst of a trial. I don’t know. I just know that I have to write.

And all my writing comes with a disclaimer: I am not perfect. My house is not perfect. My kids are not perfect. My husband is — well, yeah, he’s pretty perfect. I don’t even have a beautiful house to take pictures of to make you think my house is Pottery-Barn-catalog-worthy! The one thing I promise is that I’m real. My house may be messy, my kids are often still in PJ’s when I get them ready for bed at night, and some days I forget to shower (yeah, good thing this is a blog, right, and you aren’t actually sitting next to me?!), and more often than not I lose my train of thought when a kid comes in to tell me (for the eighteenth time!) that he or she is hungry! AGAIN!

…Sorry, where was I?

Oh yeah, Ernest Hemingway… How have I never read anything by this guy? I am going to be checking out some of his work because he has some inspiring things to say, like this, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Well, here’s my one truest sentence…

I am not perfect, but I am me.

This blog is my rambling journey through life.

Very Important Admission

Hi, my name is Crystal, and I’m a morning person. I realized this week, after sentencing three blog posts to the black hole of my Drafts folder because I wasn’t “feeling it”, blogging simply does not happen for me in the evenings! I don’t know why I’ve been waiting until the day is over to sit down to write. I know it won’t happen. I am just not a night-person. Never have been, never will be no matter how much I try to be like my husband! Eventually staying-up-late catches up with you, and I’ve reached that point. Last night I went to bed at 10:12, and I only waited that long because I’d been sitting on my bed perusing Pinterest like a zombie for the previous thirty minutes and was too out-of-it to get off the bed, flip the light off, and tuck myself into the bed!

So here’s to a new plan: write in the MORNING, when the sunlight is pouring through my windows, my brain is awake, and my highly-needs-attention child is still asleep 😉 I am a morning person. Always have been, always will be.

Here’s what’s blooming this morning:

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Tiny sproutlings (yes, I am aware that’s not a word!) of something. Arulula? I’d tell you what they are, but my son planted them, and I don’t know which seeds he sowed in that particular spot of the garden. May I also just say that it is insane to be planting a garden the end of October! But I figured with the weather being so unseasonably warm that I might as well stop being put-out about it and try to get a winter garden going. Who knows, as warm as it still is, we may not even have winter, in which case, a garden is a spectacular idea since it’s at least not a hundred degrees outside anymore! I’m going with that being arugula. We also planted spinach, kale, lettuce, and fava beans, all of which are taking their own sweet time to show their little green faces.

Before I dash off to spoon oatmeal into bowls and get our daily projects started, here is the current crown jewel of my garden, a Mona Lavender Grandma and I fell in love with last week… I’m going to try keeping it alive as a houseplant over the winter then find more in the spring to grace my landscaping. Isn’t she gorgeous? I love starting my day with something in bloom!

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Zoo Day

One of my goals for vacation was to take each of my kiddos on a Mommy date. On all of our summer trips so far I’ve had a pregnant belly or a nursling in tow, so this year, devoid of either, I wanted to dedicate a day to each child for some one-on-one hang-out-with-Mommy time. Bug’s turn came first! It happened to fall into place on a day when Grandma and Grandpa took the older two kids on a scouting trip, so we let Bitty tag along with us to the zoo! It’s just a tiny local zoo, but the perfect speed for little legs and eyes 🙂

Checking out the cool Lion drinking fountain that guards the entrance to the zoo. This fountain is extra-cool because Daddy used to drink from it when he was the same age and visiting his grandma!

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Bitty found a fascinating animal to check out. This guy saw her from across the pen and waddled right up to the fence and stuck out his head to say hi. Bitty Girl giggled and put out her curious fingers to pet him… IMG_5871

…And she will never do THAT again! Poor baby girl had a rude awakening when her new “friend”, rather than cozying up to her like our neighbors’ puppies, gave a sharp peck to her tiny hand. I’m sure he meant well, but I guess his mommy never taught him to be gentle ; ) Her cries were more in protest and anger than pain; she was quite put-out that such a friendly creature could be so cruel! IMG_5874

See, all better just a few minutes later : ) It was a scorching afternoon, so we savored every little spot of shade we came to.IMG_5875

Bug was in charge of the iPod-camera and proudly snapped pictures of every cool creature that would show it’s head. Like I said, it was a pretty hot day, so even the animals were hiding in the shady nooks and crannies. IMG_5893

I just followed both kids around and took their pictures as they ran from pen to pen smiling the entire time : ) IMG_5897

She finally got to take a turn playing photographer… Crazy thing is, she actually knows how to use it…IMG_5908

My snuggle Bug, getting so big! Every time I see a picture of him, I find myself in a moment of nostalgia remembering him as a bright-eyed baby snuggling in my arms… and now here he is turning into such a big boy with the sweetest disposition, always ready to go with the flow and spreading smiles and hugs everywhere he goes : )  IMG_5910

We made a quick stop at the gift shop to pick out some goodies. Bug procured a frog and T-shirt while Bitty would have nothing but a gray elephant with sparkly blue eyes! IMG_5917

No exaggeration, they were both OUT in the ten minutes it took to drive home! IMG_5919

I told you it had sparkly eyes! It was the eyes that drew Bitty Girl in. She was browsing the gift shop, casually wandering from one shelf to the next when suddenly she stopped, spun around, and hollered, “MOMMY!” I turned to see her practically leap across the open space to a small rack full of these baby animals, all with sparkly eyes in a rainbow of colors. She picked up each one, studying it carefully, grinning and giggling as she tried to make her decision. I pulled one of each animal off the rack and lined them up in front of her. This one won the pageant! I don’t know if it was because it’s an elephant like her big sister has, or because of those sparkly blue eyes that reminded her of Daddy’s favorite color, but this was the one she had to have, and she knew it as soon as she saw it. The name on the tag reads “Peanut.” Bitty heard that, and her little brain added “butter,” so we now have Peanut Butter the elephant as part of our family! IMG_5920

They are now inseparable! And this girl is completely zonked out! I carried her from the carseat, into the house, deposited her on the bed, tucked the elephant in, and she never even blinked! IMG_5921

Same with this sweet kiddo! Although, he was significantly more difficult to pull out of his carseat being 45 pounds of sleeping-weight! I full expected him to wake up, but he never opened his eyes, just stretched out and slept for another two hours! I’d say our little “date” was a huge success ; ) IMG_5922

Wildly Beautiful Day!

Words cannot adequately express how beautiful this day was! It will be one of my top vacation highlights from this summer.

We started out at our affectionately-dubbed “Rocky Beach” (it some sort of pirate hideout back in the day, which is very easy to imagine when you’re sitting here watching the waves and admiring the cliffs that shelter three sides of this little cove). We lazed away a couple of hours sorting through the fascinating rocks underneath our feet. I’ve always said it’s a great beach to work on your tan because there’s no sand to blow in your eyes, and you can soak up the rays while entertaining yourself with the treasure trove of miniscule shells and seaglass just inches from your face!

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After dragging ourselves away from the soothing rocks, we started for home. We didn’t make it very far. Just a few miles up the road we made a detour to a remote parking lot overlooking the ocean. As we pulled in, I saw a burst of water far out in the ocean. I’d never seen it before, but I knew it could only be one thing. I saw another, and another as I drove slowly down the winding road. “WHALES!” I gasped, turning into the parking lot. Grandma quickly scanned the horizon, “Yes! You’re right! I see them too!” Somehow I managed to pull into a parking space while my eyes were still glued to the blue expanse beneath us. “Quick, you guys! Unbuckle and get out!” I rushed the kids out of the van so they could watch for water spouts too.

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I’ve always thought it must be an awesome thing to see a whale. Unfortunately, I have a boat-phobia that runs pretty deep, so I haven’t yet gathered the guts to go on a whale-watching boat tour out into the great, deep ocean. Watching whale spouts from our perch on a high sand cliff was more than I’ve ever hoped to see. From that vantage point, as we were looking far down some impressively high dunes, it struck me just how CLOSE the whales were. You don’t expect such a massive sea creature to be that close to shore. But that’s how deep the water is just off the coast, and that’s how comfortable the animals are in their native environment, still mostly-untouched by humans. They don’t seem bothered by the crazy rush of civilization happening only a mile or two away. They keep to their migratory path just like their parents and grandwhales and great-grandwhales…

We gathered a few “supplies” from the van (can’t live without banana chips and almonds, you know!) and began a leisurely descent down the dunes to the beach.

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There was a hard-packed path most of the way that devolved into dry sand for the last couple hundred feet. Bug and I stopped to preserve the moment before we basically ran and slid and hopped down the steep dune to the beach below.

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I will never tire of walking around a bend and catching that first full view of the ocean. It gives me pseudo-chills every time! EVERY. TIME. There is something inside me that wants to laugh and cry and sing and be speechless all at once.

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In all my years of coming here, I had yet to visit this beach. I’d heard stories of my husband “sledding” down these dunes as a kid, and I’ve seen them from our favorite sandy strip several miles away, but I’d never set foot on this strand of beach. It truly took my breath away. I don’t know if it was the pink rays of the early evening sun floating through the soft spray from the waves, or the golden dunes that rose protectively behind the expanse of open beach… It was probably a combination of all of it. Because of the trek to get to it, this ethereal beach is unknown to the tourist crowd and was deserted today save for the occasional local beach bum reading a book or gathering shells. For the most part, it was untouched, preserved in a magically wild state.

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I think it felt a bit too wild for my girls who took it upon themselves to leave a small mark of humanity in the sand.

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We started walking. Our little detour wasn’t just to watch the waves and absorb the beauty, although I could have been content to sit here all day and do just that! We were actually on a mission. That mission consisted of walking down this open expanse of pure beach. We walked and walked. It’s at least a mile from this point to where the dunes begin to stretch into the sea. IMG_5786

We walked and walked most of that mile. We had heard a story of something washing up on that beach and were determined to find it. Never mind the fact that the sun was getting lower and there was no dinner whatsoever waiting in the crock pot at home! It felt like a day to let all of that slide under the rug while we lived in the moment of this adventure.

Grandma and the three older kids moved quickly down the beach, my oldest leaving creative marks in the sand for Bitty Girl and I to follow. We went from mark to mark (it’s kind of amusing to see what symbols a 9-year-old super-hero-connoisseur thinks to leave behind… Lots of arrows and random letters and odd markings ; ) Bitty’s little legs finally started to move slower, and my camera battery was dwindling, so I scooped her up and concentrated on catching up. Now, remember how I said I can only dream of seeing whales due to that boataphobia? It seems one does not always have to board a board to see a whale in the wild… IMG_5797

Yes! You are really seeing what you think you’re seeing! Dead whale. On the beach. Gorgeous, no? OK, so maybe it wasn’t the prettiest thing we’ve seen on this vacation, and it certainly wasn’t the most aromatic! Be grateful cameras can’t capture smell for all time to come! It really was horrendous if you stood on the wrong side of the massive carcass. My kids learned a new word for the day: reek!

Also of important note: this whale has been on the beach for almost two months but was still mostly undecayed on the outside (no, we didn’t try to see what the insides looked like! If it hadn’t reeked so badly…). It just shows what salt spray and super-thick skin can do for you! I made my poor sweet girl stand as close to it as I could convince her to go so I could get a perspective shot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince her to stand on top of it with a stick as if she’d conquered the beast herself… wouldn’t that have made for a cool picture, though?! There was a perfect stick lying right there too! Maybe someone else had already tried that. If you look closely enough, you can even see barnacles attached to the whale just behind my girl’s right elbow…

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And that is our whale of a tale for the day! …Sorry… you can’t NOT be stupidly-cliche when you have a whale’s tail smack dab in front of you! ; ) IMG_5800

Glad to leave the stench of the whale, we began the walk back up the beach. By this time the sun was lower, the ocean spray was a little thicker, the waves crashing bigger, and all the birds were scrambling for their last chance at sand crab for dinner. We realized we were hungry too and needed to speed up our trek to the van! Grandma set Bitty on her shoulders and marched steadily while the rest of us took turns sprinting, marching, and even running backwards until we were too tired to do anything but walk. Still, I felt invigorated by the setting sun, the salty air and the pounding waves. There was a magnificent energy here that didn’t exist on the other beaches we frequented, and I felt like a privileged guest intruding upon a sacred wilderness.

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Maybe we’ll come back next year to see what is left of the whale… In the meantime, I leave the beach to the care of the surfers who show up every evening at sunset to ride the waves and become part of this ocean wilderness.

Random Kid Sightings

I love catching my kids when they’re not expecting me!

She got her own little book collection from Daddy… I think it’s obvious she likes it ; )

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Early morning… I was still half-asleep, but I heard Bitty Girl fetch her iPod and Bug ask in a whisper, “Can I get in your bed with you?” To which she promptly replied, “Yes!” He climbed in with, “Thank you!” And since Bitty is incredibly sweet and polite right after a good sleep or nap, she said, “You’re welcome!” And they shared an episode of Little Einsteins until I willed myself to get out of bed and preserve the moment while it lasted.IMG_5685

Hanging out on the deck with Bitty while waiting for supper to cook on the grill…IMG_5698

She likes her books : ) IMG_5702

This one likes to sleep in and loves vacation for that reason ; ) Too bad *I* don’t get to sleep in because she kicks!  IMG_5705