There were so many amazing moments during our South Carolina vacation. But there were a few events that happened while we were at the beach in particular, that I hope will forever be seared in to my mind.
Like the day that Carolyn got in to trouble for stealthily eating more than her allowance of the sandwiches I had brought to the beach. When William, who had not yet had a sandwich, checked the cooler and noticed that all the sandwiches were gone, I glanced over and noticed Carolyn nibbling her fourth half.
It frequently happens that our children will go through variable phases of defiance. And I'd happened to observe that during the time we had been in South Carolina, Carolyn had been getting increasingly difficult. So when I asked her to give the sandwich to her brother, she smirked at me before shoving the whole thing in her mouth and attempting to swallow it in one swift gulp, like a snake eating a rabbit.
Much to her dismay (and shock), with one swoop of my finger, I extracted the partially chewed sandwich from her mouth and gave it to her brother. Which he gleefully ate.
A few years ago I would have really thought that was totally gross.
It's truly amazing how motherhood has shaped my perception.
Instead of putting a nearly hysterical Carolyn in time out - or taking her home - I took her by the hand and told her we were going for a walk. Which turned out to be a long hike that took us far down the beach and out to a distant sandbar, that was completely surrounded by water.
For the next two hours, we sat on this little island, digging in the sand and finding clams that revealed themselves by the bubbles they created when they burrowed. We built castles by holding handfuls of wet sand and letting it drip, taller and taller. We adorned our castles with various shells and sticks that were caught in the tide. The waves came in and washed over our legs and we fantasized that there were pirates and mermaids swimming around our island.
We dubbed our island, "Gracie Island."
And although it didn't start out as a particularly pleasant experience, spending some time alone with my daughter, turned out to be the perfect remedy for her - and a much needed reprieve, for me.
Then there was the night, just after dinner, when we took the children to the beach and let them swim for an hour or so before bedtime. As we were walking across the sand, the sun was setting behind us, casting a beautiful glow over everything. Each sand grain sparkled like a diamond and the waves crashing on the beach were brilliant white.
The air was warm, but not hot and we were all filled with anticipation because we knew that the ocean would feel so refreshing. There were gusts of wind that puffed across us as we trekked to the water's edge, that made our hair blow wildly across our faces and the children's boogie boards soar like kites.
We determined that the best way for our children to get their boogie boards to the ocean, without having them blow away, were to hold them with two hands, on top of their heads.
As the children were walking, I took this picture:
Over the past five years, I've taken almost 26,000 pictures of our children. There are a lot of pictures that I absolutely adore, but this simple shot has made it to my top 10 favorite pictures of all time. It's only one of our children, as opposed to all four and you can't really see Carolyn's face. But I love this photo. Maybe because the memories surrounding when it was taken are so special, to me.
I've been trying to think what song I would set this photo to and I'm at a loss. "Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce, perhaps. "Little Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys, maybe.
Most appropriate would be a song about the ocean, the sky, the sand, the wind, a beautiful day spent creating memories with family - and a chorus that goes, "Within the Next Hour, Daddy Is Going To Lose My Lemon Lime Goggles and Let Me Take The Fall For It."
So please help me.
What song do you think of when you look at this picture?