Wednesday, April 23, 2014

life is a collection of memories such as these

Each one of our children are incredibly unique.


While their personalities continue to evolve before my eyes every day, there are traits that our children express now, that are virtually identical to traits that they expressed when they were toddlers.  William and Elizabeth are extremely social and infuse with other children very well (my little extroverts); whereas Carolyn and Henry will hang back and stick to themselves much more (my little introverts). For the majority of her life, Carolyn has also had a mental and physical maturity that eclipses her triplet siblings and clearly sets her apart from most of the children her same age.

While we were on our vacation to Florida,  Carolyn and I took beach walks in the morning and for the entire two-mile stretch, my soft spoken daughter chatted nonstop about everything and anything.  Every so often, she would slow down to pick up sandstone and coquina, or a shell for her collection; but she never missed a beat on her conversation.  While we walked, she'd tell me wonderfully articulate stories that she'd make up on the fly about "Tulip the Turtle" and "Geraldo and Felicia - The Italian Mice Who Loved Pizza and Fell in Love."  I would listen intently and ask questions that sometimes prompted her to take the story in an entirely new direction (e.g., what do you mean they only ate pizza? Didn't they ever get tired of pizza and try something new? And that is how Geraldo and Felicia went on an adventure to Texas and developed a taste for BBQ).

We also talked about things like life and friendships, joys and concerns, and the complexities that exist in social circumstances amongst third grade students.  It was simply time spent alone together, with no agenda (or sibling competition) and it totally filled my soul.

This morning, on our last day of vacation, we were up before the sunrise.  I woke up at 6:34 and seeing that the sun hadn't yet crossed the horizon, started to doze back to sleep, but was startled awake a mere minute later, at 6:35, when Carolyn was standing over me and whispering, "Come on! Come on! Let's take our walk and see the sunrise!"  Although I likely would have stayed in bed if my daughter hadn't summoned me, once I saw how important the time was for her too, I jumped out of bed, threw on a cover up and some flip flops and we took off for the beach, hand in hand.

While I never brought a camera during our previous walks, today, I brought it along because I had to capture this moment. Spending one-on-one time with my precious girl was quite possibly the best part of my entire vacation and something that I need to tuck in to the recesses of my mind, and draw upon whenever I feel overwhelmed.  I suspect that just the sight of these pictures will summon memories and pure peace.  So with that, here are some photos of our sunrise walk, this morning.

Hustling past the pool and hot tub...


Come on, come on ... let's go! 


Putting our flip flops in cubbies...


Hitting the sand with our bucket to hold sea treasure collections...


The moon is still up!


Pelicans on the water...


The first glint of sun...


Morning has broken ... like the first morning!






Time and moments are like these bird footprints...


One minute they're there ...


And the next minute, they're gone with the tide.


Speaking of footprints ... how did my once 3-pound 10-week premature baby girl's get to be so big?  All too soon her shoe size will surely surpass my own.





ACK! Where did this wave come from?!?



The private home that typically marks the conclusion of our 1-mile walk, before we turn around and walk back again.


But today, we walked a little further - and paid tribute with some of our newly collected seashells, to a beautiful girl named Melissa who left this world far too soon.


We counted seven giant sea turtle nests over a span of 200-yards.



The nests were created between March 31 and April 19.


I actually saw the tracks left by the Mama Turtle for this particular nest, when I went for a walk on Saturday morning.  Based on the visibility of those tracks, I suspect that I just narrowly missed witnessing her lumber back in to the ocean.


We wished that we could be here the first two weeks of June so we could watch the tiny sea turtles hatchlings scurry from their nest in the sand in to the Atlantic.


We saw fisherman and asked what was biting this morning (answer: nothing yet; but yesterday they caught a 3-foot spinner shark). 


We talked about how life can sometimes be really tough, like when you're trying to make friends and fit in with other kids at school ... and it might feel like you're walking across angular shells that hurt your feet and take up all your attention.


In those moments, it's important to remember that smoother sand will always be just ahead and your souls soles will feel so good and stronger for the experience, you'll want to dance!


A man with his dog, kindly took this photo of us... 


Before we exited the beach...


And hosed off our feet, shells and oops -- camera lens. 


Another photo of the two of us, before we went upstairs...


And bagged the more than 100 seashells, each with the perfect little bored out hole, that we've collected over the past week, and intend to turn in to necklaces for our children's peers at school when Charlie and I take our Earth Day show on the road, later this week. 


As a perhaps budding geologist, Carolyn also collected a lot of rocks on our walks, and while I really encouraged her curiosity and collection, I had to put my foot down (literally) and not allow her to drag this 50-pound coquina specimen back with us.


Oh, I adore this child and am so blessed to have her in my life.  It honestly feels like my heart is going to pop whenever I'm around her.

Even still, I won't carry her 50-pound rock in my suitcase. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the fountain of youth

We've been in Florida for 10 days and while on this vacation, we've collectively exercised more than we have in the past year.  Carolyn and I are up at sunrise almost every morning, and we walk at least two miles on the beach to start our day.


We're then in the pool - swimming laps, and racing each other to see who can swim the whole length of the pool, underwater, the fastest.  We play games that involve throwing small rocks in to the pool that we then have to find and pick up - with our feet. And then we race each other some more, with rocks between our toes and our feet held high above the water.  (It isn't easy!)  


We run back and forth from the beach to the pool and the pool to the beach, where we dive under waves and fight currents. We dig deep holes and build high sandcastles. We crouch down and examine loads of seashells, before selecting the best of the lot and then hauling 10 pounds of them around the seashore.


We climb six flights of stairs to my mother and Jim's apartment, before climbing another flight of stairs to our apartment on the seventh floor.  We run back and forth between the apartments during the evening to pick up various ingredients for dinners, and items needed for sleepovers.  Each and every day, we've been getting a full body (and spirit) work out, without consciously realizing it.


All this to say, we absolutely love Florida. I've felt physically, spiritually, and mentally healthier over the past 10 days, than I have anywhere in the past several years.  There's something about the sun, surf, sand, and mingling with the snowbird crowd that is predominantly >70 years old, that is extremely rejuvenating.


I've done some research and have discovered there are reasonably priced apartments for sale in this building and I'm really thinking we should buy one and move here, forever.   I believe it's entirely possible to fit six people in a two bedroom.  Charlie believes it's entirely insane and has all kinds of reasons why it wouldn't work.


I'm starting to think that he thinks way too much.

Life is nothing if not a daring adventure!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

my easter birthday

My research has shown that Easter has only fallen on April 20th four times since 1875.


The last time Easter fell on 4/20 was in 2003.  I remember the date clearly, because the day before, Charlie had bought me a bright red convertible for my birthday, that we drove around on Easter Sunday.  My birthday, April 20th, the following year, was spent learning that I was expecting triplets and the bright red convertible I had received the year before would soon be replaced for a minivan.

It was an excellent exchange. 

We have been in Florida for the past week, enjoying the beach life with my mother and Jim. This morning I woke up to see the sun rise over our porch...


Charlie and I had our mugs of refreshments ... him = coffee, me = orange juice.

(Life is indeed Good!)


... while our girls ran around collecting Easter Eggs (that we then had to re-hide so that they could find them again).


Our boys spent the night at Noni and Jimbo's apartment, directly downstairs, and we weren't expecting to see them until later.  But before we had a chance to get out of our pajamas, we were surprised by a little entourage of birthday greeters - including my mother's neighbor - who came toting all kinds of birthday paraphernalia.  (Oops, just noticed everyone was out of their pajamas except me.)


The rest of the day flew past, as they so often do. There was a wonderful brunch that Charlie and my mother whipped up, bocci playing, pool splashing, a dinner party with the neighbors, and peaceful quiet time spent with my mother - the two of us talking for just a few minutes, before bed.   But what I hope to remember about this Easter birthday...

Is that it was really the perfect day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

what else have we been missing?

We've lived here for almost four years, and this past weekend, we traveled to the magnificent Great Falls for the very first time.


It's impossible to believe this is essentially in our backyard and we've never known about it.

Note to self: Strive to increase awareness of surroundings and get out of the house a bit more often.