Yeah, yeah. I know that summer isn't technically over but I am a teacher. Therefore summer lasts from June 1st to August 1st in this household. And this year, eight weeks just wasn't enough after spending most of June in China. Truthfully, we felt like we missed so much family time with our older children and regretted not taking the entire crew with. While discussing this one evening, Dennis looked at me and said, "It isn't too late to squeeze in a trip." Thus, a summer vacation was born.... just days before the start of school.
We loaded the car and pulled out of the driveway without anything more than our accommodations planned. For some, this is normal but not me. I am a planner, researcher and deal hunter when it comes to travel. In fact, planning a trip is my favorite pastime...but this was different. It wasn't about exploring...or finding the highest rated restaurant or the best local tours. It was about uninterrupted family time. No phone. No television. No internet. It was about morning visits to the beach and lazy afternoon naps. It was about cookie making and miniature golf playing. It was walking to the candy store for a treat and holding hands on the way back. It was about us. And it was just what we needed.
As Bear stepped onto the beach for the first time, he was too preoccupied by his apple juice to notice the waves behind him.
But he soon realized that the water was coming from somewhere and he slowly turned to take a look. I was waiting with camera in hand to capture my little cub's first glimpse of the ocean....and he didn't disappoint.
After soaking it in for a few seconds, he turned to me with complete awe on his face...and said, "Wow." My thoughts exactly, son. My thoughts exactly. And as he was witnessing one of God's countless miracles, I was two steps behind him doing the same thing... with the same look on my face. But I wasn't gazing out at the crashing waves. Nope. I was looking at him. My boy. A giant lump formed in my throat as I thought about how far we have come in just a short amount of time. How weeks ago he was waiting for us and now we were all together. It was one of those moments where I thought "All is as it should be."
And while Bear took his time getting used to the scenery, sweet Nola played in the sand. She would lose herself for long stretches of time just digging.
But it was digging with a purpose. She and Jack had made the decision that they would find out once and for all what creature blows those little bubbles that pop on the surface.
One week of vivacious digging never produced a critter but a least they gave it their best shot.
New this year for the big kids (ages 6 and 4 respectively) were BOOGIE BOARDS!
And much to our surprise, they caught on extremely fast.
They loved it so much that we started to plan our beach visits around the tides!
Jack thought it was the most fun he has ever had.
And asked if we could come back next summer.
Other notable revelations: Bear decided that he did in fact like Daddy...and realized by the end of the week that he actually LOVED him. I'm telling you, Daddy is the cat's meow!
Kate was a celebrity on the beach and made friends with any child that crossed her path! There is just something about that little face and larger than life personality that draws people in.
And Rosie-Roo....bless this child. She is such a great helper. Daddy and I give her 2 thumbs up for helping lug the beach gear every day and for assisting the littler kids on the 12hr car ride!
Speaking of a greatness...Kate was a gem on this adventure and she and Bear actually enjoyed playing together most of the trip. The competitive streak is simmering down and they are finding that together they are capable of so much more stinkery...like opening the freezer, moving furniture and hoisting each other on top of beds.
This trip was a celebration for us in regard to bringing Bear home. We found it...our new normal. The children have acclimated to one another. Dennis and I were able to spend quality time with the oldest three before they began school. And our focus was simply playing, laughing and being together.
It was perfect.
Goodbye Summer....Hello Sweet Memories.