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!

IMG_5490
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!

IMG_5492

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…

IMG_5495

 

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

IMG_5497

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!

IMG_5498
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 ; )

IMG_5500
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!

IMG_5503
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!

IMG_5511
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…

IMG_5522

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 ; )

IMG_5541
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!”

IMG_5537
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 ; )

IMG_5551
IMG_5527

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 : )

IMG_5453

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.

IMG_5457

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!

IMG_5462

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!

IMG_5465

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!

IMG_5451

All Aboard!

First stop, a newly-opened railroad museum with hats and photo-ops galore! Bug and Bitty Girl shared some rare brother-sister-bonding time on the train station platform. I could almost picture them in 1920’s garb waiting for a train to stop with a swoosh and a puff of steam to sweep them away on a grand summer adventure!

IMG_5383
My smiling oldest daughter is already on a grand adventure aboard the vintage train car. The just-her-size piano was a big hit.

IMG_5385

The dining car still boasted original stained glass, hardwood furnishings, and opulent wallpaper. The museum official in charge of refurbishing this jewel let us peek into all the nooks and crannies of the compact rooms beyond the dining car. They were all mid-renovation but still with plenty of historical charm. The entire train car was on a concrete foundation, which surprisingly resulted in a smoother ride than modern trains according to the renovation conductor. There was even a control panel for the AIR-CONDITIONING UNIT from early 1920’s! I had no idea they HAD AC that long ago! The tiny bedroom had a baseboard heater that was somehow connected to the steam engine, and there was even a fold-out sink and toilet in one corner. No privacy, obviously, but I’m sure it was a luxurious amenity when compared to previous train toilets ; ) I wish now that I’d taken more pictures of the rest of the car!

IMG_5386

The best conductor of all ; ) But make sure you pay for your ticket because he doesn’t look like he’d be very sympathetic to stowaways!

IMG_5394

Every boy needs a chance to play with an original Morse Code machine, right? There was even a code sheet next to the “clicker” so he got to practice some real messages.

IMG_5398

Second stop, the fogbound bay to dine in our traditional harbor-side restaurant with the rest of our extended family.

IMG_5399

While we waited for dinner, we got to watch this big guy beg the “leftovers” from a local fisherman who was gutting small sharks and other fish. His dinner was less than appetizing to look at, but it was pretty awesome to watch the giant sea creature toss and fling and smack his food against the water to break it apart into “bite” sized pieces, then dive for each pieces individually. A picture really doesn’t do the performance justice, but being new to blogging, I haven’t taught myself how to upload a video yet. That’ll be one of my future projects, I promise!

IMG_5402

After dinner my Bitty Girl took on some angelic qualities… *snort* Anyone who knows her knows she’s not the most angelic kiddo at times! I guess she’ll take all the help she can get ; ) These are REAL shells, by the way. Can you IMAGINE a clam that size?!

IMG_5413
My favorite green bug hamming it up for the camera while we tried to walk off some dinner calories!

IMG_5423
We ended our dinner-and-a-walk with a truffle run on the local chocolate shop. NOTHING beats a homemade truffle on a foggy evening while strolling the boardwalk… Yep, definitely ranks up there at the top of my list of perfect days : )

Rocky Terrain Ahead

And when I say rocky, I’m not exaggerating! The entire beach is covered in rocks. Not a speck of sand to be seen! I suppose this is how our usual sandy beaches must feel to The Borrowers and Fairies ; )

IMG_5365
These rocks are torture to walk across for any length of time, but it is one of my favorite haunts for a lazy day. I’ll bet you can’t even imagine the treasures to be discovered in one handful of rocks…

IMG_5367

Fairy-size shells, bits of jade, occasional shards of glass, among a myriad of other things I can’t identify, all polished smooth as silk by the tides. I can literally spend hours lying on this beach sifting through the smooth rocks. It soothes my senses and inspires my imagination. If all of these things are hidden in what appears to be gravel to the naked eye, what treasures must fine sand hold?! Do tinier shells exist?

IMG_5366

While I daydream of tiny details, the rest of my family focuses on much larger projects such as sabotaging the creek!

IMG_5368

They even successfully dug out a nice little wading hole. Calling it a swimming hole is a bit of a stretch although Bug was able to paddle around in it for a little while!

IMG_5370
We called it a day when the group of moms downstream started hollering at us. Apparently we were supposed to be sharing the creek water ; )

Random Fun

The crickets are chirping at me to go to bed, but before I do, how ’bout I throw some random fun pictures out there?!

She has dubbed herself Eagle Girl, or something… All I think is, “Whoa! Look at her muscles!!!” Apparently she’s short only because all her nutrition goes straight to her muscles, not to her skeletal height ; )

IMG_5326

I’m not sure if we’re playing Spiderman or pirates… Or has Spiderman adopted a pirate’s life?

IMG_5329

A quick trip to our favorite little grocery store. She was psyched to see that they’ve upsized the small carts to something more practical and size-appropriate! We actually fit everything we needed into only her cart. I felt really weird walking around not pushing anything…
IMG_5330Here is where I should be right now. …Minus the Little Einsteins on an iPod ; )

IMG_5327

I never tire of watching my babies sleep…

IMG_5363
Goodnight, everybody!

 

On days like this…

…I truly do not see how life can get any better. Seriously, warm sunshine, perfect temperatures, stunning views, and adventurous kids all add up to one gorgeously-memorable day and a few sunkissed cheeks!

But first, before I get to the really good stuff, humor me and admire my Jamberried toes! I’m so excited to have found a way to have fun, funky toes AND enjoy the sand and waves. Is it totally silly that it makes me smile to see pretty toes on myself?

IMG_5362

Now for some real craziness, how many of YOU can do THIS?! I remember when *I* could do that once-upon-a-time… And here I was proud of myself for running sprints on the beach and actually beating my oldest son in a race across loose sand! If I could do this again, I’d be one proud mommy!

IMG_5336

My two oldest kids are far too adventurous for my tastes. They clambered up the rocks to the top of a nearby jetty to take a gander at the seething ocean beyond. Every time those waves crash against the big rocks, Bitty Girl’s eyes would widen, and she’d announce, “Mommy, it’s FUMBER! (thunder)” But these two thought it was a grand adventure to stand at the top and wave down at me. I love how kids are so unafraid, fully trusting their nimble bodies to get them where they want to go and keep them safe while doing it. I guess I’m just the paranoid mom who sees nothing but big gaps and holes and crashing waves.Every time they take off to explore something new, I hear Dory’s voice in the back of my head, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to them; then nothing would ever happen to them.” So I wave back with a smile, snap a few pictures, and trust the abilities God blessed them with and His protective hand over them. …I am far from perfect at it… And in actuality, the sloping edge of that jetty is still at least another ten feet beyond my kiddos’ feet with a watchful Grandma in between : )
IMG_5350

This Bitty Girl, despite any other faults she may have, isn’t even tempted by dangerous escapades. She stays on solid ground, far from the water and rocks, content to dig in the mostly-dry sand.

IMG_5358

Not to be outdone by her baby sister, this crazy girl is THE QUEEN of getting dirty on the beach! It’s not officially a beach day until she has sand up to her forehead! Today she decided to experiment with burying her lower-half, which she managed quite nicely all by herself : )

IMG_5357

One of my favorite aspects of a beach day is enjoying the beauty all around us. It never ceases to amaze me how totally unreal it is to be able to capture views like this on camera! It doesn’t need any Photoshopping to make it breathtaking; it just IS, no matter what kind of camera you happen to have in your hand. I am amazed every time I look out over the ocean, completely awed that a normal person like me can have access to such powerful beauty.

IMG_5351

 

Just for the record, yes, I climbed to the top of that jetty too, so I could take these last two pictures! I decided if I ever had a beach day all for myself, this would be one of the places I’d want to come; I’d climb to the top, spread a beach towel on a warm, flat rock and lie there listening to the waves crash and feeling the salt spray on my skin…

IMG_5353

Summer Vacation is ON!

Although, I am beginning to have some doubts about the company my children will be keeping for the next few weeks…

IMAG0362There are no words… I’ll be back when I’ve recovered the initial shock of my children being transformed into Mexican Super Wrestlers ; )

Do I have to have a title?

I can’t think of an appropriate title for a first post. I would rather have a single compelling word to catch your attention and entice you to join me on my latest ramble. But right now, my mental thesaurus is already on summer vacation.

I used to blog. I still do most days. Unfortunately, all of my “blogging” happens within the confines of my brain as I rush through life seemingly unable to find a spare minute to commit my rambling thoughts and narratives to paper – or screen in this case. This blog is my attempt to slow down and reconnect with the simple joys of life.

IMG_5374