Summer fun week 3

This week, we broke our streak of having our horrible, no-good day on Saturdays, and it came on Friday instead. We attempted to clean the house, the children and I, and let’s just say, we failed in our mission. (And in the process used all the dish soap before many of the dishes were clean and accidentally spilled water on one end of the couch, splashing the laptop in the process. If there’s any place I freak out about water being spilled, it’s near the computer because that’s where my words are kept!)

Our cleaning misadventures landed us at Chipotle for dinner because I couldn’t deal with the kitchen or our diminishing food supply. (We only have two kids who live here–where does all our food go???)

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But our week wasn’t all tears and sadness. After all, it was VBS week at a local church. Daytime VBS, no less. (There was much rejoicing, yay!) So I had a few hours to myself on four mornings and it was just the break I needed. I even snuck in a breakfast date with a couple of other moms whose kids wpid-20150624_110630.jpgwere at the same VBS. Our shared love of breakfast bonded us. And we had a great time just hanging out and talking about nothing and everything.

After day 1 of VBS, Phil and I had an appointment to get our travel shots for Kenya, which is happening exactly one month from today. (Commence freaking out!) I will not include that among the “fun” in our week because I hate medical stuff and spent significant time for the rest of the week wondering if I was experiencing any kind of weird reaction to these shots. (And wondering more if I was going to be paranoid about every health symptom for the next year after going to Kenya. Pray for me? I’m more than a little bit of a hyponchondriac.)

But after we got that out of the way, we took the kids to the science and nature museum here in town. We had a free family pass to use by the end of the month, so we thought a couple of hours there would do us all some good. (The only down side is we missed the dinosaur exhibit by a day! They were literally dismantling it while we were there. Sad.)

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Phil and the kids dug through these explorer boxes looking at rocks and shells and antlers and skulls while I sat in front of the bee hive mesmerized by the activity. There was a ton of hands-on stuff for the kids. At one point our son yelled, “We’re doing science!” I had to laugh.

 

wpid-20150622_143135.jpgHere, Phil and the kids are looking at a map of our county trying to find our house. I think they succeeded in getting close to it. We also looked at snakes, turtles, lizards, and bugs behind glass, which is my favorite way to experience those sorts of creatures.wpid-20150622_145926.jpg

And speaking of creatures behind glass, the museum has a frightening-yet-fascinating collection of stuffed (taxidermy) birds. If you have any fear of birds, this would be a nightmare, but it was the kind of display Phil and I could have spent a lot more time looking at. The kids had trouble taking it all in. Also in the basement was a rock and mineral collection that astounded me. So many variations and colors inside the earth. Amazing.

Because of VBS, I didn’t plan a lot of extra activities for the kids this week, though Izzy started her summer reading program at school which was a chaotic and fun evening in a school that felt a billion degrees warm.

wpid-20150626_122653.jpgOur garden was a great source of entertainment this week as well. A storm knocked our jalapeno plant over so I had to frantically try to repair it as the rain ended. And one day the kids came screaming inside, “Come look! Come look!”

Our pepper plants (not pictured) have tiny peppers on them and the kids were ridiculously excited. I get it. Because our garden is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. This cucumber plant, especially, amazes me. Not long after we planted it, we thought we were going to lose it. It just wasn’t thriving. And then all of a sudden it took off and it’s a monster.

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Our week was a little more low-key than some of the first weeks, but we have a super secret surprise adventure planned for the kids tomorrow. I can’t tell you yet what it is but here are some clues: water, a large rubber duckie, and sails.

Check back next week to see what we fun we had!

 

 

Summer Fun Week 2

Just to be clear: I am not SUPER MOM. I have a shirt I wear sometimes that says otherwise–Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Tired–but I really only identify with the tired part. This is why I drink coffee. Parenting is tiring! Summer parenting is exhausting!

So, do not read these posts and think, wow, she’s such a great mom and I am not! I NEVER think that about me. I yell at my kids. I cry. I throw tantrums. I question the sanity of having had children at all. These pictures serve as reminders of the good times so I don’t try to convince myself it’s all bad.

You can check out our first week of summer here.

This is what this week looked like for us.

wpid-20150614_202319.jpgOn Sunday night, we headed out to a free concert in the park. A trio of fiddling sisters from Texas was the show, and man, were they good! After picking out some snacks from the food trucks, the kids got into the groove and took up a large stretch of the grass to dance. I love their freedom and was only slightly worried that other people might be annoyed by their antics, but whatever. It was a free concert.

And sitting outside on a blanket listening to music with my loves is the best. Even when one of them makes faces like this. wpid-20150614_200551.jpgSigh. Maybe we’ll have a normal picture sometime. But then again, I didn’t marry him because he’s normal.

Sunday night would set the tone for the week. We spent A LOT of time outside. On Tuesday, we got to head out to a park playdate with some friends from preschool at a park we don’t visit often enough. (For the record: park playdates stress me out on multiple levels, especially if port-a-potties are involved, but we go because it’s good for all of us! Even me, the introvert!)

My kids are becoming fearless in their play, and I think this is a good thing.

wpid-20150616_093143.jpgThis same day we spent 90 minutes in the waiting room of the auto repair shop so our driver’s side window would go up again and we wouldn’t have to duct tape a garbage bag over it when rain threatened.wpid-20150616_163940.jpgwpid-20150616_164530.jpg

Fortunately, Chick-fil-a had its monthly family night later that day, too, so the kids had more outdoor fun.We didn’t have to spend any money on rigged carnival games and they STILL got a prize. And time in the bounce house! And ice cream!

The next day we ventured over to Oregon Dairy for their annual Family Farm Days. A wagon ride through the farm and then a fun-filled day of free activities, with free samples of milk and ice cream and yogurt. It’s a really generous day and the kids always want to stay longer, no matter how long we’ve been there. (It was close to four hours by the time we left!)

Corban is happy as long as he gets to see tractors. Izzy has fun no matter what’s going on.wpid-20150617_121015.jpg

And we always enjoy seeing animal mascots.

In this case, Cylo, the Barnstormer. Corban was afraid he was going to try to take his hat. (Don’t be alarmed. We are not Mets fans. Phil and I scored these hats when we went to see the Cubs play the Mets. And the kids love the hats. But not the Mets. Just to be clear.)

 

wpid-20150617_100245.jpgOur one trip to the library this week was for a Lego program. The kids heard a story and then had to create something having to do with superheroes. They worked together to create a superhero house.

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It has a pool on the roof and a weapon hanging off the side of the roof. It must be a wealthy superhero’s house–someone like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark.

Creativity is fun!

We ended the week having dinner with friends. Our kids played till almost 10 p.m.!

How’s your summer going so far?

 

 

Summer Fun Week 1

We have officially survived our first week of summer. I say “survived” because it can be a rough transition having both kids home after one of them has been in school full time. I have a plan for summer that may or may not be working out so far, but it’s only been a week, so I’m giving myself grace.

Grace. Forgiveness. They are the prime themes of this week, mostly because I was tired and moody for much of the week and we had two 90-degree days. (We haven’t put our window air conditioners in yet because once we do, there’s no going back and it’s only the first week of June.)

And this is not a brag blog to make you feel bad that your summer is not perfect because ours certainly isn’t. Read between the lines of these pictures and highlights and you’ll find screaming and crying and exhaustion and moments when I’m not sure if I like my children. (I do. I do like them.)

But I feel like I might need some reminders of the fun we’re having this summer, even if it’s not perfect (and it won’t be).

wpid-20150606_112326.jpg We love our library programs. I think we’ve been to a branch of the library three times this week. Our daughter is reading books like a pro this summer, so she’s running through them quickly. And they’re both almost finished with the reading logs for the public library program. After that, we have a couple more options: one from a local bookstore and one from Barnes & Noble. We love reading!

We also love parks! I think we hit the park as many times as the library, except for the days it was super hot. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of how beautiful our area is, especially when I’m feeling ungrateful or discontented. This is one of my favorite views from our park visits.

wpid-20150610_142721.jpgAnd I’m learning to love meeting other moms at the park and arranging play dates even though it’s hard for me to make conversation and I’m not the kind of mom who immediately jumps in and plays with my kids no matter what they’re doing. I’m more of an observer than participant.wpid-20150609_100148.jpg

But I do enjoy taking pictures of my kids when they’re playing nicely together so I have proof that they can get along. Also, they’re occasionally hilarious.

In between outings, we, of course, had to start some cleaning projects. We weeded the garden and tended the porch plants. We did the ordinary stuff of life like groceries, laundry and dishes. We sprung for donuts one morning because we were out of milk (I know, that totally makes sense) and resurrected our special breakfast mornings. (Phil and I started that tradition on some Saturdays just after we were married. We have not held to any kind of schedule for this, but it’s always fun to do something out of the ordinary.)

wpid-20150611_132629.jpgwpid-20150611_1401430.jpgAnd we took advantage of one of our memberships to a local fun place. It was a good combination of inside-outside time.

Plus it’s so varied the kids are never bored. For more than two hours, they played and played and played. It’s the sort of day we could spend all day at, but a few hours is usually enough. Especially with a membership when we can come back anytime.  We’re so thankful for this gift that gives us options year-round for fun.wpid-20150611_153407.jpg

 

How’s your summer going so far?

 

How this garden is growing me

On a hot and humid day, the sky took on a dark blue hue as clouds carried a storm our way. Thunder rumbled as I rushed the kids into the car from our quick errand. I’d hoped we could get home before the downpour started. A cool breeze escorted us home and we ran inside just before the drops started falling.

I’m not the kind of person who gets giddy about thunderstorms. Rain dampens my spirits in the same way it dampens the ground, and my senses go on high alert with thunder and lightning as I worry about tornadoes and storm damage.

But we’re experiencing a dry spell and our fledgling garden is in serious need of a soaking rain. So I welcomed the storm, praying that it would last long enough to revive our plants and save us a day of watering.

Five minutes later, the rain had passed, and my disappointment was palpable.

We haven’t had a garden for long, but this is one way I’m growing right along with it.

Since we moved into a house with overgrown and untended landscaping, my husband has been brushing up on his pruning skills. Every now and then, he’ll head outside to trim a limb here or there on the trees in the yard. Last year, he attempted to tame the rose bushes which have taken on an interesting shape from their neglect. He snipped and trimmed and I cringed at every cut. What if we ruin them?

The good news is: we didn’t ruin them.

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Last year, this yellow rose bush had two, maybe three, buds that bloomed. This year, we have a whopping seven on it!

Pruning, it seems, has a purpose and though the wait is long, the results are worth it.

I am one who does not embrace the pruning seasons of my life. The idea that I need to cut back or cut off anything is distasteful to me. I love and enjoy a lot of things and it’s hard to say “no” or “not now.” But when I try to do it all, I’m like the rose bush before it was pruned–so stretched out that I don’t have the energy to bloom. Cutting back allows me to focus my energy and produce more of the good and beautiful.

This, too, is how the garden is growing me.

These roses, they’re teaching me.

Like a cliche, I stop and smell them just because. The pink bush is more plentiful so I’ve been cutting off a few here and there and bringing them inside. The smell is almost intoxicating as it drifts through the house. I’ve never been a fan of the manufactured rose smell in perfumes, but there is nothing to compare to the scent of fresh roses throughout the house.

They are thorny and so must be handled with care, not unlike myself with my prickly edges and ability to wound. They are delicate. A strong breeze knocked all the petals off the half dozen or so we had in a vase on the dining room table and now the table and floor look like a flower girl has been through practicing for her big day. They don’t last as long once I bring them inside, preferring the wild outdoors to the confines of a vase. (I think I can relate to this.)

And they don’t all bloom at the same time.wpid-20150526_120056.jpg

These two in particular caught my eye the other day. I wondered if the one in the foreground was bothered by the one in the background that had already opened into fullness. I wanted to reassure it.

“It’s not your time yet, beautiful.”

Sometimes I need the same reminder.

When it looks like everyone around me is in full bloom and I’m still a closed bud, I need the assurance that it’s just not my time yet. Heck, four of these buds didn’t even exist last year.

Maybe that’s a better metaphor for me. Maybe I’m a not-yet-bud in need of more pruning.

Almost daily since we planted the garden, I walk out to the pot on the porch and pinch off a couple of leaves of basil or rosemary. I am somewhat addicted to the use of fresh herbs and the convenience of having them within walking distance.

wpid-20150511_164938.jpgMy recipe and Pinterest searches have revolved around these two ingredients, and I’ve tried numerous new recipes including fresh basil and fresh rosemary just because I can. I even created my own tuna salad recipe using the basil and I’ve eaten it more days in a row than I’d care to admit because it’s just that good.

I’ve long believed in theory that local, fresh ingredients were better and possible, but until we planted the garden, they seemed just a good idea and not practical. Now I’m wondering how much fresh and local stuff I can buy and use this summer, spending less money on substandard food at the grocery store and more money at local farm stands. (I’m still skeptical about whether our garden is actually going to produce, oh me of little faith.)

I’m even daring to try making a jam from the berries that grow on our dogwood tree in the front yard because why not? Living off the land is not in my DNA. Or maybe it is and I just have to nurture it.

I tell people all the time about my horrific gardening skills and they laugh, saying, surely it’s not that bad. But until this summer, the only thing I’ve kept alive multiple years (not including children) is a cactus. A freaking cactus that doesn’t really care if you forget to water it. Do you see what I’m working with here?

But I’m giving it a shot. We’re watering and paying attention. I’ve been on my hands and knees in the dirt planting flower seeds and teaching the kids about waiting. I’ve dug out a flower bed and now that we have a small plot that we’ve tended, I want to keep going. To keep pulling out the weeds and turning over the soil and planting beauty where only chaos has reigned.

I’m watching the skies, praying for rain, sticking my hands in the dirt (it’s there underneath my fingernails), watering plants and working up a sweat when I could be doing anything else. And where I’ve feared failure I’m learning to let go because the fate of these plants is not all up to me. I have a part to play, yes, but there is a bigger force at work in making them grow and thrive.

I could say the same thing about me, too.

We’re growing a garden, yes, but this garden is growing me. And if we never eat a single tomato or pepper or cucumber, we will have done well.

A vote for summer (and fall and winter and spring)

In less than a week, summer will (unofficially) be over. At least where we live, the kids go back to school next week and the carefree, do-what-we-want days (I stole that line from my coolest Colorado cousin) will be over.

Back to setting alarms and packing lunches and meeting the bus twice a day.

Back to homework and enforcing a regular bedtime and the end-of-day reunion of family.

Honestly? I’m going to miss summer.

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We’ve never been close, summer and I. Although I’m sure I enjoyed the break from homework and school when I was a student, summers sort of lost their allure when I got my first job out of college. Summer was like any other time of the year. I got up, I went to work, I came home. Except it was more humid than other times of the year.

Our family summers in recent memory have had their positive moments, but I’m becoming one of those moms who enjoys her relative freedom during the school days. So, I sort of feared this first summer following our firstborn’s kindergarten year.

I found a groove with one child all day long and in what seemed like an instant, I was back to having both kids all day and one of them is in constant need of social interaction. Summer could be a disaster, I predicted.

And then it wasn’t.

There were family visits here and there and long drives in between. There were outings and adventures and days of sheer boredom in between. There was togetherness–oh, there was togetherness–and times I wanted to have JUST FIVE FREAKING MINUTES TO MYSELF WITHOUT ANYONE TOUCHING ME. (Have I mentioned I’m an introvert?) And a long separation that was almost too much to bear.

There were trips to the library and reading on the porch and visits with friends and an amazing vacation and countless memories that are falling through the cracks of my mind. (And parks! We went to the park so many times!) summer 2

There were plans that came about and plans that didn’t.

And you know what? Summer was great!

Today, I was mourning the upcoming loss of time with my daughter. She’s a creative, imaginative, passionate spitfire of a human being in a small package but she’s crazy fun to be around, even when she’s pouting. As we drove to get school supplies, just the two of us, I felt the need to tell her how much I would miss her when she went back to school.

And then an hour later I was thanking God that she was going back to school because she couldn’t stop fighting with her brother.

I can’t have it both ways, I know. I can’t have our family all together all the time (at least not without some major changes to how we live and I’m just not sure that’s our best option) and I can’t send the kids away forever. (I would never do that, by the way, even on the hardest days.)

Just the same, I couldn’t have endless summer because I’d miss the colors of fall, the slowing down in winter and the rebirth of spring.

I will miss my daughter when she’s at school, but I can’t wait for those big hugs when she comes leaping off the school bus at the end of the day. Or the big smile on her face when she sees me at her school. I love hearing the stories of her day and storing up our tales to share with her.

I will miss the freedom we have in the summer to take a family adventure on whatever day suits my husband’s work schedule, but that just means we have to be more intentional about scheduling our fun on other days. (We already have some plans!)

Part of me wants to regret all the things we didn’t do this summer–all the projects and the exploring that just didn’t fit into our lives–but that would rob us of the joy we did have.

So, summer, I’m sad (really!) to see you go, but I know you’ll be back again next year. And fall, I’m ready for you! (Okay, that’s false bravado. I’m not ready AT ALL. But bring. it. on.) And winter, you just wait your turn. I promise to make hot chocolate and try to enjoy the snow again this year but don’t get too eager. And spring, my love, you’ll be what keeps me hanging on during those subzero mornings waiting for the school bus to arrive.

Play nice together, seasons, and I’ll give each of you your due. I’ll look for the best and turn away from the worst. (Okay, I’ll probably still complain loudly on Facebook about snow days and shoveling and heating  bills.)

It’s hard to say good-bye, and I hate transition times, so I might be singing a different tune in a week or two. For now, though, we’re squeaking out our last bit of fun this week and preparing for the return of routine next week.

Thank you, summer of 2014, for reminding me of all you have to offer. You’ve earned a place among my favorite seasons. (Spoilers: It’s a 4-way tie.)

How was your summer? What’s your favorite season and why?

When I want to go deeper

A beach vacation is hardly first on my list of destinations, but at the request of friends, we decided to take the plunge, so to speak, and take a joint family vacation with another family.

It was wonderful in ways I’m still trying to understand, myself.

And it was enriching to my spiritual life, even though the only time we set foot in a church was to admire the stained glass in the Catholic church on the square.

Because standing on the shore of the ocean, I can feel God and sense His presence.

Deep calls to deep, the psalmist says, and I don’t understand it but that’s what I feel when I look out on the forever-and-ever stretch of water before me.

It calls to me. And I want to dive in, splash, and be swept away by something bigger than me.

I look at the ocean, and I see God.

I’m blogging at Putting on the New today. Read the rest of this post here.

The surprising word that sums up our vacation

I remember the year everything about vacation changed.

It was sometime in those middle school years, I think, and my parents took us on a trip to Florida they or someone in our family had won through some kind of promotion. And of course, there was a catch. The kind where you go on the trip in exchange for sitting through an hour-long promotion from an agency that sells condos. (We did this on our honeymoon to score some gas cards and a restaurant gift card. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done, but it also wasn’t pleasant.) My parents sat and listened to the man and his sales pitch while my brother and I did whatever we could to entertain ourselves. I remember they told my parents afterward how well-behaved we were. Maybe that was part of the pitch.

Our family walked away from the meeting that day the proud new owners of a time-share condo in Daytona Beach. I secretly thought my parents might be crazy, but I was a kid, so what did I know?

From then on, our vacation destination was set: Daytona Beach, Florida. Or, if it wasn’t too much trouble, somewhere else we could exchange our week. One year, it was Arizona. (The aforementioned honeymoon was in Williamsburg, Virginia, and is thanks to that time share week, so I guess I better not complain!)

The beach. Most summers we drove for two days to spend time at the beach.

And what I remember most about those summers is ridiculously painful sunburn (the fate of the fair-skinned) and overwhelming feelings of inadequacy about my body (the fate of the non-bikini-clad, at least that’s what I thought then). I was never a partier, so a week at the beach was not the raucous good time I’m sure some of my peers might have envisioned. In truth, I was happy to sit on the balcony of the condo (in the shade) and read book after book after book. But that was how I would have spent my summer no matter where I was. The view was just a little better in Florida.

Two years ago, our little family of four got to go to Daytona together with my parents, and that trip redeemed most of my so-so memories of Florida vacations.

But I still had my reservations about the beach. We are reluctant acquaintances.

Months ago, our friends posed the question: What would we think about taking a vacation to the beach with their family?

We’ve lived in Pennsylvania for six years and the “shore” has been on our list of things we wanted to do, just to experience what so many of our friends and acquaintances know and love. But we didn’t know where to begin or if we could go for the day, and frankly, we’ve never had the money or time to do it. Our friends go to Cape May, New Jersey, and they stay in the same house each time, and we’ve heard wonderful things about that area. So, this seemed the perfect opportunity.

Still, I was hesitant.

I’m not really a beach person, I told my friend, who is the complete opposite. She could live on the beach and be happy the rest of her days (and I love her for that). But we kept talking about it and because we love this family so much and their kids and our kids are friends, we agreed to look into and consider the costs and availability.

Long story, shorter, we booked a week in a house in Cape May, New Jersey, and last week embarked on our first-ever vacation with another family to the beach.

In the week leading up to vacation, I was super stressed out. Our kids had been back from Illinois only a few days before our beach week was to begin, and I hate packing. Plus, our travel was going to be split up. The moms and kids were going on Saturday and the dads would follow on Sunday. So, I had to segregate the packed belongings into Saturday and Sunday piles. It was overwhelming. 20140719_103529

By the time I got in my friend’s van on Saturday, I was ready for some R&R. Except that we had five kids between the two of us and more than three hours of driving ahead of us. R&R was maybe a far-fetched dream.

Traffic snarled and crawled as we drew closer to the beach. The miles ticked down on the GPS and time seemed to stand still. Then finally–FINALLY–we were at the house and out of the car and unpacking our meager belongings (the second wave of provisions would arrive Sunday night with the men). And we could hardly wait another minute to see the ocean. So, we piled back into the van and drove out to the park where the lighthouse stands. We raced over the dunes, spread our arms wide and exhaled.

IMG_20140719_175613With a breezy welcome, the ocean crashed its greeting onto the shore. We cast off our shoes and let the sand fill the gaps between our toes. The ocean teased us with its gentle lapping, and we let the cool waters wash our feet. It was a foretaste of the week to come, just enough to remind us that we had made it. We walked the shore, the kids running off their dormant energy, collecting shells, until our feet couldn’t take any more. We bid the ocean “good night” then searched for a pizza place to satisfy our hunger.

We woke the next day with plans to hit the beach for real and after a Herculean effort to wrangle five kids into swimwear and pack a lunch, we made it to the beach and the children frolicked while we soaked up sun and let the rhythmic ocean waves soothe our weary souls. (But lest I forget, the wind was fierce that day and the sand was stinging us. We may look relaxed in our pictures but we were fighting for our happy place.)

It is not easy getting to the beach, but once you’re there, it’s worth it. Each day we were at the beach, I felt like time stood still.

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After dinner, we walked the promenade and stumbled upon a wedding taking place on the beach. As my friend, Beth, so eloquently observed:

We (2 exhausted mammas and 5 full of energy children) walk the mile or so to the end of the promenade-where ocean meets rocky shore-where a wedding party forms. Bridesmaids clothed in teal, hairspryed hair withstanding wind. Groom wringing his hands. A bridal white horse drawn carriage rolls to a halt. The girl children-busily imagining their weddings 20 years the making-“Ohhhh and Ahhh” as they see her, the Princess bride. As we all are taken by the magic of the moment-of the majestic ocean and mystery of love-the horse, adorned with braided hair and roses, urninates while all five of our kiddos loudly observe, “Ewww He’s peeing.”

Our men arrived later that night to find their wives barely hanging onto sanity. They’d never been more heroic in our eyes.

We had literally already been to the nut house.

We had literally already been to the nut house.

The week was full of surprises. Perhaps the most surprising was this: I actually had a good time. And by that I mean I would do it all again tomorrow. All the packing, all the driving, all the washing sand out of everything, all the protecting our lunches from seagulls, all the sunscreen, all the lotion, all the walking and sweating and cooking and cleaning.

It’s not that I expected to have a horrible time. I knew it would be fun because our friends are fun and seeing new places is fun and being together as a family is fun. I just didn’t expect to have so much fun I’m actually missing it today. Me? Missing the beach? Who’d have thought?

I had hoped to write a post listing all my favorite things about our trip or recounting all the best moments, but the truth is, I can’t choose favorite moments because there are too many. Each day was special for lots of reasons and to single out a best moment is too hard. (Plus, I don’t want you to hate me for having a fabulous beach vacation. Trust me, it’s a rarity for our family. We do not live glamorous lives all the time. Case in point, this blog post.)

So, how would I sum up our vacation? You’ve read this far, so I owe you a word, and that word is the word that I’ve been meditating on all year long.

Enjoy.

From the splashing in the water to the digging our toes in the sand to the climbing the lighthouse steps to the date night with tasty seafood to the shared meals around the kitchen table to the late-night talks to the overall ambiance of this historical seaside resort, I enjoyed our vacation. (And if you need to know why it’s so hard for me to enjoy life, read this post.)

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So, here’s my question for you: When’s the last time you were surprised by how much you enjoyed something? Care to share your story? Leave a comment so we can enjoy together.