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

Blue Jellies!

I am now officially more than a week behind on documenting our adventures, but our days have been so busy that, by the time I have any free time left at the end of the day, I just want to crash in bed along with the kids! Once I get this far behind, it seems too daunting to try to play catch-up all at once, so I’m not even going to try. I’m just going to take it one day at a time as I have a few minutes here and there. The important things are the pictures anyway, right? After all, if pictures are really worth a thousand words, they can save my fingers alot of typing and my brain alot of work ; )

Another beach day… duh! On our way, we stopped to watch the sea otters who were hanging out near the rocky coast. They wrap up in the kelp to anchor to anchor themselves while they eat and snooze.

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Next stop, my favorite beach! This week there was a confirmed shark sighting (some hungry 18′ Great White hanging out hoping to catch an easy dinner of Harbor Seal!). Yikes! Naturally the water was off-limits past ankle-depth, so we stayed at the edge of the waves and enjoyed the warm sun and cool salty breeze. It was a little strange, though, to see empty beach, police driving up and down the beach to alert any newcomers, and the Harbor Patrol boat scanning the waters. Scary if you really think about it… So we stayed out of the water and played with these cool little guys! They’re some kind of exotic blue jellyfish (minus the stinging tentacles!) that only washes up on shore during an El Nino year. IMG_5651

Every wave brought a fresh batch of them, which the kids would scramble to collect before the next wave washed them away! IMG_5652

A never-ending supply! I even submitted to my inner-child’s curiosity and ran out to grab them to add to the kids’ buckets. IMG_5656

Watching safely from a distance, Grandma provided a spot of shade for this sweet puppy. She belongs to some old friends who came to town and spent the day at the beach with us. IMG_5660

So, check it out! It was one FULL bucket of blue jellies! I wish the camera on my phone could’ve captured the colors in all their beauty. It was this stunning, shimmery blue that sparkled as if it had glitter in it! IMG_5673

Dinner anyone? Soup’s almost done! My water-hating baby thought it was the greatest thing ever to drop the jellies, one by one, into her bucket of water and stir with a seagull feather! IMG_5677At the end of the day, we scattered the Jellies back into the waves and watched them shimmer as the tide picked them up and carried them away.

Sunday’s Bluff

With the ever-soaring temperatures last week, we left the house every single day in search of cooler air to breathe. By Sunday morning I was exhausted and just wanted a lazy day to stay home and do absolutely nothing. By mid-morning, I realized that wasn’t going to be the best choice. The forecast was predicting another scorcher, which meant hunker down in the air-conditioning and wait it out, or pack up and head back to the coast. Of course we chose the latter! But I made it easier on myself by saying, “NO beach.”

Not that beaches aren’t easy; it’s the aftermath of the beach that negates the restful beach-time. Wiping down sandy kids, hauling sandy bags and buckets back to the van, the piles of sandy laundry once we get home, showering four children and myself… yeah, be warned that beach days are never as peaceful as pictures portray them! To every peaceful beach day, there is some not-so-peaceful behind-the-scenes craziness ; )

BUT we still needed to find cooler weather, and I DO love to be in sight of the ocean, so I asked about potential oceanside walking paths, and off we went to take a walk on the bluffs overlooking the water. Grandpa dropped the kids and I off in the parking lot then drove further to drop Grandma and Auntie M at the beach for a swim while he parked in the parking lot at the trail’s end and walked to meet us. Perfect plan. But we all know what happens to perfect plans, right? ; )

The kids and I walked along breathing in the ocean air and practicing walking in single-file on the super-skinny path.

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It was gorgeous as always! You can see for miles down the coast from here. IMG_5619

It’s about time they all learned to walk in a straight line! Now if only grocery stores had a line marked for gaggles of children to restrict themselves to! IMG_5621

Happy spirits all around : ) Not a clue what is around the next bend or how far ahead Grandpa is, but we were content to keep walking slowly along enjoying the view and the cool breeze. IMG_5627

The chance to explore made my kiddo’s day! He loved being able to take a separate path and meet up with us a few yards ahead. Except this particular jaunt was followed by a holler, “I just saw snakes!” Now, I can handle one snake, but snakes plural? That’s not usually a good sign. We slowed down and walked a few steps further with our eyes glued to the ground. IMG_5631At the same time, we came to a change in terrain. The path narrowed (how was that even possible?!), took a steep incline and curved sharply. I halted my troops, and we all stared. Bug had started wimpering at the mention of snakes, and he now started quietly sobbing, “I’m ‘cared.” I backed us up so I could size up that incline and decide if I was brave enough to attempt carrying toddlers down in. It wasn’t far, but what if I slipped on the dusty trail, and we fell off the side? It wasn’t a long drop-off, just a couple feet, but still… Then I noticed the plants growing all over the side of the path. Snakes are a deterrent, steep inclines are a damper, but poison oak seals the deal for me every time. I’ve had my share of poison ivy and have no desire to find out how poison oak compares! Sliding down a steep incline while watching for snakes and trying to avoid touching a toxic plant was a little too adventurous for me.

We retraced our steps to the previous fork in the trail thinking maybe we just took the wrong path. I couldn’t imagine Grandma thinking this section of the path was safe, yet she had assured me that the kids would enjoy it. So we definitely had to be on the wrong one! Off we started up the other trail. It led straight to the highway! Who wants to take a Sunday afternoon walk along the highway?! NOT ME! Retrace steps again. This time I whipped out my phone to text Grandpa:

“Help! Flatlanders lost on Coastal lands!”

He tried to tell me where he was, but our vantage point wasn’t the most advantageous one! We had to backtrack a ways before I could see any of the same landmarks he was seeing. Meanwhile, Bug was still whimpering, “I’m ‘cared.” Only now he had an echo in the form of Bitty Girl’s little voice. I had to keep stopping and show them the ocean, point to the parking lot we’d come from, point down the coast to the landmarks they recognized. “Look, we KNOW where we are! That means we’re NOT lost. We just can’t get to where we want to go! There’s nothing to be scared of.”

I texted Grandpa again to let him him we were heading back to the drop-off point and would wait by the parking lot. He turned around to begin his walk back to the pick-up point where the van was parked, letting me know it would be at least 20 minutes before he made it back. Then he kindly offered up a tidbit of wisdom:

“Conserve water in case I don’t make it. YerLovin Pepe.”

I replied back with, “Got about a quart of water…that should last us a day or two, right?”

 

IMG_5630Every few minutes my phone chimed with another incoming text as my father-in-law gave me status updates:

“Almost got picked off a Harley. I don’t want to be part of seal sanctuary.”

“Sundown in 6 hours. Seagull guano glows in dark; highly nutritious. Don’t give up!”

“Made it to van. Hope I didn’t lose key on bluff trail” : )

My final text to him: “I have my keys in my survival pack (aka beach tote). Water is running low. Need help!”

Grandpa pulled into the parking lot, and we loaded back up to head into the nearby coastal town where the rest of our party was just finished swimming in the chilly ocean. Obviously we weren’t by any means famished or dehydrated or otherwise in need of recovery, but because our walk had been cut short, we walked to main street and treated ourselves to fresh cookies (I was good this time! Only ate a tiny gluten-free cookie and half of an oatmeal-raisin one!) and one last look at the ocean before heading home. It was still a good day : )

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Weekend Excursions

I always have this crazy idea that I’m going to have all this free time for blogging and crafting and visiting cool shops, then I actually go ON vacation and realize that vacations are NOT more restful than my everyday life; they’re just DIFFERENT ; ) It’s being DIFFERENT that makes it a vacation, not getting to sleep in, be more creative, and blog more (because I certainly don’t get to do any of those!). Today is a rare lazy day, so let’s see if I can get caught up on our latest adventures!

Friday we drove a little farther from home to visit a less touristy beach. The air was cooler and the wind rather crazy, so by the the end of the day all of us had sand well-embedded in our pores! But the scenery was beautiful, there was an amazing fallen tree to climb, and I think we lugged home about a bushel of pretty rocks!

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Our family tree ; ) Where is this when you need a good family picture?! Wouldn’t this make an amazing prop and backdrop for Christmas pictures?

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Bitty Girl enjoyed her first tree-climbing experience!

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Sweet Girl scrambled up like a pro. I love watching her climb things. She’s so nimble and confident then so proud of herself when she succeeds : )

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Saturday was a sleep-in then eat-pancakes day. Grandma and Grandpa had other commitments, so the kids and I hung out together at the house catching up on laundry, working in the kitchen, and putting together the new Lego sets Daddy had hidden in the guest bedroom. Is it just me, or are the Lego Friends sets just about the coolest thing EVER to arrive on the Lego scene?! These are what I always dreamed of when I was a little girl, stuck making up my own cool houses and markets and parks! I’m glad I have a couple of sweet girlies to live vicariously through ; )

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When the housework was done and afternoon temperatures started to rise, we packed up and headed for cooler breezes on the coast. It was a sunny, breezy 72*! Perfect day to buy a fresh cookie and sit on the beach savoring every last crumb. Do you know how long it’s been since I had a real cookie that wasn’t altered to conform to multiple dietary limitations?! Neither do I! I decided I deserved a splurge and indulged in an oatmeal raisin cookie (I figured it would have LESS gluten since it is mostly oatmeal, which is naturally gluten-free). It was quite tasty! My Bitty Girl was quite pleased with her peanut butter cookie as well. IMG_5603

After our cookies and a short walk on the pier, we couldn’t think of anything else to do. The water looked pretty inhospitable. Call me old-fashioned, but sloshing through that tangle of kelp didn’t exactly spark my imagination. Or maybe it was that it DID spark my imagination a little too much… kelp tangling around your ankles can feel like any number of creepy things! Yes, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to wild water; I prefer a swimming pool ; )  IMG_5605

So we killed a little more time meandering through a couple of souvenir shops, decided we don’t qualify as tourists, and headed home for supper. This picture is a perfect end to the day; my baby all tucked into bed with her new stuffed Reindeer, Sven, and a new book (thank you, Daddy!).

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My Favorite Beach

I got to choose the destination today, so off we headed to my favorite stretch of beach. This one is mostly unknown to tourists, which means there are only ever a few locals there enjoying a morning run or practicing their surfing skills. It’s perfection as far as beaches go; long stretches of sand, big waves to play in, and no sounds except my own children playing and the sea birds flying over us. So if it’s such a perfect beach, why don’t the tourists flock to it, you ask? Ah, well, you see, it requires a small feat of endurance to trek through the protective dunes that shield it from the main roads. I am always up for the trek knowing the jewel that awaits at the end of it : ) Bitty Girl made the trek on her own this year!

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I know it doesn’t look like a big deal as far as distance, but trust me, trying to walk through all that dry sand is no easy task. You definitely get a great leg workout! And the view is gorgeous, of course!

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Today, a previous beach-bum had kindly left a massive hole for us. It saved us adults some digging, and we were more than happy to sit back and see what the kids would do with it…

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Wait. What is she doing? Do I want to watch this?!

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She’s too crazy NOT to watch! Can you believe this?! The expression on her face, the wild abandon that she displayed in leaping off that edge. I love her trust in her own abilities. No fear!

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Look at her face. I couldn’t stop laughing : ) She did this over and over, laughing in pure exhilaration every time. If I could’ve looked as graceful as she does flying into a hole, I’d have tried it too just to see if it was really as fun as she made it look : )

IMG_5508She was quite pleased with her performance ; )

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This little guy wasn’t crazy enough to attempt flying, but he wanted to be part of the photo action. Gotta love his adorable sunscreen-smeared face!

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See, what did I tell ya? Miles of deserted beach : ) Every time I’m here, I imagine myself going for a run across the soft sand with the waves lapping at my feet. …And every time I’m here, I tell myself, “maybe next time…” as I spread my towel over the sand and sit down to soak in the view ; ) Seriously, though, sometime when I don’t have to keep such a close eye on little kids, I will run sprints up and down this stretch of beach and enjoy every second of it!

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The sun burned through the fog a couple hours later. Did I not tell you this beach is pure perfection?! Am I totally weird to look at this and see a living room color scheme? Blue walls, sand-colored rug, and throw pillows in every shade of aqua…

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IMG_5530The water is always warmest in the late afternoon hours. That’s when kids get brave enough to venture into the cold water, especially this kid… He has turned into a fish in the pool at home, and it has really boosted his oceanside confidence. He was practicing his attack on the waves, having a blast jumping into each new surge. Don’t worry, they look high, but it’s an optical illusion; the water is barely calf-deep right here, so the waves have to go UP then disperse. It’s when they go up, that you can jump into them and pretend you’re in deep water ; )

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There was a little boy on the beach giving away shells that he no longer wanted. I guess he thought Bitty was cute and wanted her to have them : ) I told her you can hear the ocean inside. She totally bought it and walked around with the shell to her ear announcing, “I hear it! I hear the ocean, Mommy!”

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A perfect day ended with–ummm… hmmm… I couldn’t figure out if he was supposed to be the Statue of Liberty or Thor the Avenger… Whichever he was, he was cracking himself up and wanted to make sure I preserved the moment ; )

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Happy Day

The previous night required some extra recovery time, so I let this Sweetie sleep until her little body was recovered and ready for a new day. Somehow I think starting the day with a picture of a newly-invented purple superhero isn’t going to hurt matters either ; ) I call them kid-sightings, when one of my children leaves a special creation as a surprise waiting to be discovered. I am blessed to have four children who think this is just the funnest thing ever! I’m always finding pictures tucked under my pillow, Lego inventions sitting on my kitchen counter, stuffed animals wrapped in quilts on my living room chair… They love to surprise me and each other as often as they can think up ways to do it. This morning was no exception. Big brother wanted his little sister to wake up to something that would make her smile : )

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As if the purple superhero, imagined just for her, weren’t enough, another surprise awaited. A trip to the golf store to procure a golf bag and a driver-head-cover named Daisy! Now she is ready for her first golf excursion of the summer.

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She still looks tired from her sad day, but her smile is enough indication that she is feeling more like herself, and she made sure to tell me, multiple times throughout the day, “Today’s a happy day, Mommy!”

And a happy day it is! We spent most of the afternoon at the beach soaking up the sun, breathing the invigorating air, and playing with cousins. Grandpa and Bitty Girl did an exceptional job at keeping our campsite under control. Neither of them are water-lovers, so their  task is to shoo the sea gulls away and enjoy the contents of our picnic bag!

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I even managed to get a good shot of myself at the beach! That’s a new hat, by the way. I am NOT a hat person, but I have accepted that I’m not getting any younger, and it’s time to take a little better care of my skin, starting with some self-made shade for long days on the beach. Today the wind was weak enough that I could put my latest purchase to the test. Call me crazy, but I kinda like it!

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This crazy girl has a different perspective on self-procured shade; sand has excellent UV protection! She even ate her lunch in this position… we just had to haul a bucket of ocean water up for her to rinse her hands in!

IMG-54651This exceeds my picture-collection of the day. I have to protect cameras from all the sand, so I limit my photo ops on beach days. But be assured, we had a lovely day with our local cousins jumping in the waves, digging incredible holes and sand towers, and chasing each other with dead sand crabs!

Sadder Sunday

Sunday was less jovial than the previous days. Daddy had to bid us all farewell and return home. His vacation days are limited, so he flies home for a few weeks while the rest of us enjoy the coast for a little longer (and taunt him with pictures of cool water and sunny beaches!) until he flies back to drive us home.

We drove to the airport with him and enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a cafe overlooking the runways before following him the Security check-point where we waved goodbye. It’s always sad to be apart, but in the end, my always self-less husband would rather us take a fun vacation without him than be cooped up at home with nothing to do while he gets a new youth soccer season up and running. By the time we come home from vacation, the hard work will be done, and all we have to do is jump into a new practice schedule. …I say “all” a little tongue-in-cheek because it’s not exactly that simple ; ) That’s when I am back in full-time-mom mode, juggling school, soccer, meals, and keeping the house running like clockwork–Ha! If only… 😉

BUT, vacation is not the time to dwell on normal-life craziness! Back to our Sunday…

We left the airport and headed to the center of the city to run an errand before going back to our temporary home. It should have been a quick, easy errand to pick up a few groceries, but I had a brief moment of trust at the restaurant that resulted in my sweet girl having a food-sensitivity reaction in the middle of the grocery store. No, not a life-threatening anaphylactic shock kind of reaction, thank goodness, but a neurological reaction resulting in uncontrollable hyperactivity. I’m talking twirling and waving her arms around irregardless of the people around her, making exaggerated and uncontrolled facial contortions while cackling crazily and talking nonsense at the top of her lungs. I was near tears as I tried to navigate the crowded, unfamiliar store while dealing with a food-additive-possessed child. All I wanted was to go back in time and beg the waiter to leave her French Fries unseasoned!

I’m sure there are people who think I’m exaggerating or overly-paranoid when I start knit-picking my daughter’s food, but most people are usually not privy to the scene that happens thirty minutes later when I don’t knit-pick. Well, now here it was, on display for an entire grocery store. All I could do was try to finish my shopping as quickly as possible and get home so I could give her a therapeutic dose of B-Complex and magnesium to rebalance her system.

I’ll spare you the details of the remaining hours of the day only to say that supper was a trial, Grandma and Grandpa were more than a little shocked and speechless at the obvious change in their usually introverted and agreeable granddaughter, and a quiet walk to the swings turned into a complete defiant meltdown. Back at the house, an emotional little girl drew me a picture of a girl with a sad face in an attempt to communicate how she was feeling inside. She burst into tears as she laid it on my lap. All I could do was cry, helpless.

We sat together for almost an hour, crying and talking about how she was feeling and how certain things in foods affect her behavior and emotions. I know. I also struggle with reactions to food additives. It’s hard to see my daughter go through the cycle of crazy-hyper, socially wired, defiant, and finally emotionally spent to the point of unstoppable tears. I don’t know why she is sensitive while my other children seem to be fine. I replay my pregnancy with her wondering what I might have done or eaten to make her more sensitive. I ask myself what I could have done differently to spare her these intense reactions. The honest truth is, I DON’T know, and I can’t change anything from the past. All I can do now is be vigilant, help her recognize her sensitivities and learn which foods and situations affect her, and teach her how to take care of herself through it so she can come out on the other side of the cycle still-healthy and smiling.

As we were wiping our tears, my oldest son snuck in and slipped a piece of paper to us. It was the picture of the sad girl but he had drawn a very bold smile over the thin down-turned mouth. I love that about my son; he may be easily-distracted and not one for sharing his own feelings, but when someone has a need, he SEES it and is the first to offer help and comfort, especially if that someone is one of his siblings.

We smiled at the picture and knew it was time to turn our tears into happy smiles. It had been a rough, emotionally-charged afternoon, but we emerged from it, stronger, calmer, and with a renewed determination to be watchful even if it means saying NO to something everyone else is enjoying. The aftermath is not worth it. I am glad she understands that and also knows that her mommy is right there with her. I love you, Sweet Girl!

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