Sunday, August 30, 2009

heat wave

Southern California is in the midst of a heat wave. So today, while Charlie was out washing the cars in our driveway, the children - entirely on their own - decided to set up their very first lemonade stand.

Elizabeth was in charge of the cash register, William was in charge of quality assurance / quality control for the actual product (in this case - lemonade that he was drinking straight from the pitcher) ...


And Carolyn was responsible for filling up the cups.


They were charging $0.29 a cup.

How they came up with this price, I do not know.

Unfortunately, they didn't receive any customers, except for me. But I suspect that their location in the garage, obscured their sales booth from any potential customers that might be walking down the street.

Right. I'm sure that "no sales" were due solely to their poor visibility...

And had nothing to do with the soggy, crushed, torn and sipped-upon cups of ice cold lemonade, that had been dipped out of the pitcher by hand.

Mmmmm. TASTY!

Here is William in his self described, "Lemonade-Selling Uniform."

Which could also be referred to as his "Baby Brother's 2T overalls."

(I think we might need to work on improving our marketing strategy.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

he is superman

Before court began this morning, I called Charlie to check in and see how he and the children were doing. According to my husband, aside from everyone missing me desperately, they were all doing fine. They were planning to spend a morning at the YMCA and then, they were going to go to the pool after Henry took his nap.

A few hours later, once court was dismissed, I turned on my cell phone and noticed that I had missed a call from Charlie. So I called him back to see how things were going. This is how our conversation went:

Me: "Hi Love, how are things?"

Him: "Jen, I am JUMPING out of my skin. OK, OK, first off ... the kids are totally fine. So, do you remember the big client that I was working with a few months ago? (he didn't wait for my response) Well, they called me today and told me that they want ME to manage several of their sites in California!! And possibly, take over their entire portfolio of environmental projects, globally!! The only way I could do that is if I started my own business. So I did. I registered for a Federal Tax Identification Number and then I found an accountant and a lawyer. I'm setting up a small business loan and I secured our new company name and created a logo. Then, I hired someone that can handle all of the field work, so I don't have to travel too much. Right now, I'm in the process of developing a website. "

Me: "Huh?"

Him: "And then ... and then ... And THEN!!!"

Me: "Wait... you did what?"

Him: "I started my own BUSINESS!! But it gets even better!! My old company - the one that just laid me off?? Well, they won a big contract in San Diego and they need a lot of help, so they are hiring MY NEW COMPANY as a subcontractor. So, I just landed two HUGE contracts!!"

Me: "I think I dialed the wrong number. Hello?? Hellooo??"

Him: "Can you believe it?!"

Me: "You are telling me that you did all of that today?"

Him: "Yes. I did all that within the past four HOURS."

Me: ".............................................................."

Him: "Jen. Jen! Are you still there??"

Me: "Charlie. Love. Where are the children?"

Him: "They are right here. I told them all about it and they are really excited. They are the Board Members of our LLC and Elizabeth is making a presentation while I cook dinner."

Me: "So you did all of that today, the children are playing contentedly and now, you are cooking dinner?"

Him: "Isn't it awesome?!"

Me: "Holy Crap, Dude. I think I need to go out of town more often. Maybe when I'm away next week, you'll solve the world's hunger crisis."

Him: "Don't worry. I'm planning to work on that, next."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

kate, i might be a little late with the post...

Just so you know, I'm not done with our vacation pictures. But since I'm away from our home computer this week, and hence the gabillion pictures that I have uploaded from our trip, my continuance of our time in paradise will have to wait.

For now, I want to tell you that I'm staying at a hotel in L.A. and yesterday afternoon, I had some down time to go work out. While I was in the gym - I happened to catch, what I believe, were some of the very first airings of Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

Now I know I've mentioned before that I've hardly ever watched that show because I wasn't particularly interested in the chaotic life of a woman with multiples. But yesterday, as I was working out and I happened to notice that the show was on my own little private screen on my ellipse machine, I unplugged my headphones from my iPod and plugged in to the closed circuit television connection.

What I heard over the next 20 minutes or so, made my jaw drop to the floor.

This might come as a surprise, but I might consider myself to be a bit of a nag with my husband. It's something that I'm constantly aware of and something that I'm constantly striving to change. But I am no where - and I mean, not even within the same galaxy close, as what I saw, yesterday.

Who has ever watched the show??

After watching this woman HEN PECK her husband for a solid 15 minutes, they cut to a scene in the nursery where Jon was changing diapers on several of their 17-month old toddlers. At one point, Kate walks in to the room, and after declaring how organized and streamlined she is, she points out how slow and inefficient her husband is. And then she casually says, "I feel compelled to tell you that I cannot believe how long it is taking you to complete this one simple task."

Jon didn't respond. But even though the camera was fixed on the back of his head, I could see that he was stewing. Why critize your spouse like that, on national television?! Now if I had been Jon, I would have retorted, "I feel compelled to tell you, SHADDUP ALREADY. If you are so convinced that you could do this better - than GO TO IT."

Seeing as I'm tucked away in a nice hotel, eating at fancy restaurants three times a day, while my husband is at home chasing around after four children under the age of five and digging diapers out of toilets, I feel very well positioned to dole out some marital and parental advice.

If you are nagging incessantly at your spouse, you have too much time on your hands.

When you have other, more pressing things to worry about, you become a lot less concerned about the fact that Dear God lunch time is three minutes late. Or - it took four minutes as opposed to two to change a diaper.

Really?

Is it that important?

I try my best to be thankful whenever anyone helps me at all.

Although, I will admit, this can be a constant battle for me. I will stray down the path of hen pecking over the most insignificant stupid ass things you could imagine. But it seems to become par for the course when you are a mother with small children. You truly believe that no one can do it as well or as efficiently as you. But at this very moment, I have been gone from home for four days and my husband is managing everything just fine without my direct supervision. Sure, the house might not be up to my cleanliness standards when I return - but the children are well cared for and loved.

And you know what? I am thankful.

I am so thankful for him and all that he does to support our family. Whether he is earning a paycheck - cooking dinner - chasing children around the backyard - changing a diaper a few minutes slower than me - or picking up a gallon of milk from the store.

I am so thankful for him and I tell him that, all the time.

ALL. THE. TIME.

He knows that he is appreciated.

And because of that, he appreciates me, too.

So my relationship advice for the day is this: If love is kind, love will grow. Go forth and be thankful. Tell your partner how much you love and appreciate them and how thankful you are for all the things that they do to make life better.

And then - watch your love bloom.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

what's in you wednesday

I'm away from home this week at a trial in Los Angeles. And because my mind has turned to absolute mush after spending a long day in the courtroom and conversing ad nauseum with attorneys (whom I like very much, by the way), I am going to keep this post short.

Let's see ... what's important for me to convey this week?

1) Our walking team, "The More the Merrier Walkers for Knockers" has been registered for the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk in November. Anyone that signs up to walk, needs to raise a minimum of $2,300.00. If that seems like a lot, please do not be discouraged. You can do it. I can help.

2) I hope to start working on the fundraising efforts, soon. And since I haven't really done anything to solicit donations (except put a button on my blog), I was happily surprised to see that I received my first donation to the breast cancer walk from my awesome sister-in-law, Susan. So, thank you Susan. It's easy to see why your little brother loves you so much!

3) During the 3-Day walk, accommodations will be provided. However, if you are thinking of flying in to San Diego a day or two early and want to know whether or not you can stay with me, I'd say the chances of that are slim. Perhaps if our house was greater than 1,700 square feet and had more than one functional toilet. And most importantly ... if my husband didn't panic at the thought of a stranger from the internet sleeping on our couch.

4) It is darn near impossible to eat healthy when you have breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings with a group of ravenous attorneys. In the past two days, I have consumed no less than 5,000 calories a day and the most exercise I have completed has come from raising a fork to my mouth. Within the past 36 hours, I have spent 10 hours sitting at a table and during that time, I have consumed two filet mignon steaks, herb crusted halibut, seven glasses of red wine, one hot fudge sundae, one bowl of fresh fruit and cream, something called a "chocolate explosion", mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach drizzled with garlic butter, sushi, sashimi, green beans and mozzarella, turkey and brie, a ciabatta roll, a bagel, a croissant, innumerable pats of butter, a cup of cream cheese, a slab of bacon, crab stuffed mushrooms, barbecued shrimp, gumbo, an omelet, hash browns and a partridge in a pear tree. On the upside, I also ate four salads. Although, come to think of it, each of those salads could have been a meal, by itself.

5) Tomorrow, I plan to eat only ice chips and hit the gym at 5:30 AM.

6) This trial, which was supposed to end this week, is now expected to go through the second week of September. Unfortunately for my cholesterol level, I need to be present, the whole time. I fear for my pants and am considering the purchase of several elastic waistband suits.

I never thought I'd say it, but I can hardly keep up with these guys. They pick out an appetizer, then they have soup and salad a main entree and dessert. And then, they have cappuccino. At every meal, minus breakfast, they eat this way. Why, just tonight as we were walking back to our hotel from the restaurant where we had dinner, we stopped at another restaurant to peruse the menu and contemplate whether or not we wanted to eat there, tomorrow.

We're taking gluttony to a whole new level.

(Of course they also work out like maniacs and look like they're chiseled from stone.)

So, who has some tips for how to eat healthy when you travel with a group of food connoisseurs that order one of everything on the menu?

Fake food allergies?

Narcolepsy?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

positive self esteem = not an issue here

A few days ago, I was getting the children dressed for bed, following their evening bath.

Carolyn was the last one out of the tub and while I was helping her in to pajamas, she was gazing in to the full length mirror, just over my shoulder. As I was pulling on her pant legs, she sighed in to my ear, "You are so beautiful. I love you SO much..."

Obviously, I assumed that she was talking to me - seeing as I was the only one in the room.

But when I responded to my four-year-old daughter, "I think you are beautiful and I love YOU, too!" She shushed me and said in a tone that sounded quite unlike any four-year-old I've ever heard, "MOM, I'm not talking to YOU. I'm talking to the girl in the MIRROR."

Then she sighed and rolled her eyes.

It took a lot of restraint for me not to say, "You roll your eyes at me again and I'll roll you straight across this floor!!"

Hello!! This is four? I suspect the teenage years are going to be paved with lollipops and roses. And maybe if I'm lucky - a weekend furlough.

For me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

on being a good neighbor

Saturday night, Charlie went to a baseball game with two of our very good friends, Jim and Tim, who live in a neighborhood about a mile away. Jim and Tim live directly across the street from each other, and both men have children who are similarly aged.

While they were at the game, Tim was telling my husband that last month, his four-year-old son was walking down the street, when out of no where, a small white dog that had escaped from a yard - charged him. It barreled down on the four-year-old, yapping aggressively, with it's teeth bared. The only reason that the dog didn't take a chunk out of the child, was because Tim was right there and reached down and grabbed the dog by the collar. The dog's owner came out, profusely apologizing, and brought the dog inside.

THE VERY NEXT DAY, Jim's adorable four-year-old daughter (with her dimples and glasses and curly ponytails) was walking down the street, when the same little white dog escaped from the house and yapping aggressively, charged the girl.

This time, the dog attacked and bit her in the thigh and calf.

The owner, again, apologized profusely before dragging the poodle back inside. Jim brought his four-year-old in to their house and carefully inspected the bite but because it didn't appear bad enough to take her to the hospital, took photos of the wound to document it.

That was the end of the story. No charges were filed, the dog catcher wasn't called, the offending neighbor walked away unscathed.

Honestly - I'm befuddled.

Our friend Jim is one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet and I know that the reason he didn't get the authorities involved is because he doesn't want to create waves in his neighborhood. This, to me, shows incredible self control.

Because Charlie - who is also a nice guy and will go to great lengths to keep the peace - confessed to Jim that if that dog, who had tried to attack a neighborhood child once already, ever took a bite out of our child's leg, he would have hit it to the moon with a baseball bat.

Upon hearing the story, I confessed that if my husband missed with his swing, I would be fully prepared to back over Fido (a few times) with our minivan. And then, I might have to bludgeon the owner. BECAUSE WHO LETS A DOG THAT ATTACKS CHILDREN, ROAM FREELY OUTDOORS?!?!?!

I'm not sure our tactic of slaying both man and beast is really suitable. So how would you suggest this situation be handled, in the most neighborhood-friendly way possible?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

our SC vacation: random shots part 9 (help me pick the soundtrack edition)

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?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

our SC vacation: random shots part 8 (John Denver edition)

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely.

Sunshine almost always makes me high...

our SC vacation: random shots part 7 (favorite thing friday edition)

I'd like a show of hands from everyone who has had enough of my photo blog posts and are anxious for me to return to topics that involve interfacing with ill-behaved children at the community pool, homeschooling, and how to earn an income while living on a sailboat.

OK then.

That is a few hundred more than I expected.

I promise, I am almost done.

But first, I need to mention that with all of the swimming the children have been doing this summer, one of our most coveted possessions, are their awesome swim goggles.


Elizabeth has a pair of pink goggles, William a pair of blue and Carolyn a pair of lemon lime.

At first, the children liked to wear their goggles because they thought it made them look like a real live diver. But very soon, they came to realize that not only do their goggles look cool, but they help to protect their eyes from the chlorine in the water that would otherwise, turn their eyes bright red and cause a lot of discomfort which subsequently, would lead to a lot of whining.

Hence, the children wearing swim goggles not only protected their eyes ... it protected my EARS.


During our week at the beach, our children learned that salt water hurts eyes almost as much as chlorine.

So whenever they would go out to boogie board - or jump and splash in the surf - they wore their goggles.

Unfortunately, the third day that we were at the beach, my beautiful daughter, Carolyn, lost her goggles somewhere in the surf.

Before I go any further, I'd like to add that these goggles, relative to other brand children's goggles, aren't cheap. But, I have done a lot of research and field testing with a lot of less expensive goggles and I personally think that these goggles are the BEST on the market*.

So when my beautiful daughter, Carolyn, lost her goggles, I became quite agitated. Because I have told her once - if I've told her a million times - that when you take your goggles off, you can't just FLING them on the sand, because the tide will most likely come in and wash them away. Likewise, when we are at the pool, she can't just take them off and fling them on the deck because they will either get lost - or someone else might pick them up and keep them as their own.

But as it often happens when I'm talking to one of my four-year-old children, I may as well be talking to the wind. Because the children continued to assume that my primary purpose in life was to follow them around and pick up THEIR stuff.

Once I realized that my daughter was goggle-less, I told her that she wouldn't be getting any new goggles until she was older and more equipped to handle taking care of her things. Because young lady, money doesn't grow on trees and just because she lost something doesn't mean I'm going to rush out to the store and replace it.

I might have continued to rant and rave for a minute or two or ten, before I caught a look from my husband that very clearly said, "JEN. GIVE IT A REST."

And although it was very difficult for me, I did give it a rest. I actually STOPPED talking about the lost goggles and overwhelming irresponsibility of my four-year-old daughter.

It was at least another day or two after the goggle losing incident, that I happened to be scrolling through some of the pictures that I took while at the beach on the day the goggles in question were lost. And when I fell upon this sequence of pictures, I was in complete disbelief.

ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?!

This first picture is my husband, Charlie, jumping in to the waves.

Charlie spent much of his youth in Santa Barbara and loves the beach. It is for that reason, he really enjoyed body surfing, along side his children.

But on the day that we bought boogie boards, Charlie thought it would be fun to try out the boogie board that we had specifically bought for Carolyn, but which she was not using at the moment.


And wow - as if it was even possible - he had even MORE fun boogie boarding.


But very soon Carolyn saw that her father was riding on her boogie board, and right about that time, she decided that she wanted her boogie board back. So she stood directly in front of him with her arms crossed, while Charlie grimaced because he KNEW what was coming next...


There was the gentle placement of her little four-year-old hand on his arm ... followed by a very sweet, "Daddy? May I please have my boogie board back?"

(Notice that she is still wearing her lemon lime goggles.)

And Charlie, being the good father that he is, swiftly got off the boogie board and gave it back to his daughter. But as I continued to scroll through these pictures, I happened to notice that Charlie had something in his grasp.

At first, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. But when I zoomed in - it became obvious that Charlie was holding something with a lemon lime hue in his left hand.

Yes ... that's it...

Charlie is holding his daughter's lemon lime goggles in his hand.

And well, that was the last time we ever saw Carolyn's lemon lime goggles.

Because in this next picture, they were gone.

When Carolyn rode the next wave in, she was without her lemon lime goggles. Which is around the same time I put the camera down and proceeded to ask, "Carolyn, love, where are your GOGGLES?"

And of course my poor child didn't know.

Internet, it was CHARLIE, not CAROLYN that lost the lemon lime goggles in the surf at the beach. And worse than that, it was my poor sweet, beautiful baby that took the rap. When I revealed to Charlie my discovery, he was stunned. At first he tried to convince me that he did not lose the goggles, or if he did - it was completely unintentional. But then he went a little crazy and accused me that I take pictures of EVERYTHING.

He knows my camera doesn't lie.

And really, does this look like a man I should trust?

********

* After a little more research, I've decided that Carolyn most definitely deserves a new pair of goggles, so I will be replacing them with this new pair, in lemon lime. They are identical to her former pair, except they come with a tinted lens.



You can buy these goggles on my Amazon Store, through this link. If you do buy the goggles through my little store, you will be helping to fund the coffer for giveways that I hope to begin, next week, for our breast cancer 3-Day walk.

In return, I would be more than happy to lend my sleuth investigative skillz to those who might need them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

our SC vacation: random shots part 6 (James Taylor edition)

In my mind I'm going to Carolina.

Can't you see the sunshine, can't you just feel the moonshine?

Ain't it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind?

Yes, I'm going to Carolina in my mind...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

what's in you wednesday

I'll be honest.

Every day that I was away on vacation, I thought about Deana. Especially the day that I watched this magnificent sunset and I thought about the harsh reality of a woman, not yet 40 years old, dying to a brutal disease that she was diagnosed with, 11 months prior. I thought about her leaving behind a husband and two little boys who are not yet five. I thought about Deana and I thought that what happened to her, (and her and her) could have just as easily happened to me.

I thought about how life can throw some real curve balls our way and nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. I thought about our children and how blessed and lucky we are to have them and, how blessed and lucky Charlie and I both are that we - and our children - are in relatively good health.

Sure, my husband's back goes out every now and again and it might hurt to climb a flight of stairs. Or, sometimes my knees make noises like a bag of potato chips being crushed and I'll be momentarily crippled by a rogue muscle cramp. But we're here and we're healthy - and as far as our doctor's are concerned - we'll all still be around several years from now.

These past few days, I've been at a high intensity business meeting. I'll be going to another high intensity business meeting next week that will involve a judge, a jury and several lawyers who have been tasked with making me look like a raving idiot.

Since I've returned from vacation, I have been buried under almost 1,000 work e-mails and associated fire drill situations than I can count on both hands and feet.

I am trying really hard to not lose focus of what's important in life.

My children. My husband. My physical health.

Charlie has been officially laid off. He will be hired as a contract employee for his company - so he has work if he wants it, but trying to juggle his part time schedule with my more than full-time schedule, is proving to be very difficult.

Unfortunately, and as much as I'd love it, at the moment, moving to the southeast isn't an option for us. Of course, we could just move on our own - but then we'd need to find new jobs. And from the limited research that I've done, I am well aware that the chances of me (or Charlie) finding a position even slightly comparable to what I have now is completely null.

And, if we were to move on our own, we would take a significant hit on the loss of equity in our house. Fortunately, we are still in the black. But that "black" is more like "a very light grey" when you consider the resale value now, to what it was two years ago. Meanwhile, I know for a fact, that my job in California will dissolve over the next few years - so we are currently facing a great unknown.

Over the past week - more than once, we have openly discussed what is important to us. We have reflected on the fragility of life, the unimportance of material possessions and the knowledge that we only come around this way, once.

It is for that reason, at the moment, we are seriously contemplating selling off everything that we own and buying a sailboat that we will take up and down the inter-coastal waterway, while reveling in the waves that splash off our bow and the bottle nosed dolphins that jump in our wake. Once we've had enough boating, we'll move in to a one-bedroom apartment in South Carolina and live off of noodles.

But before we do any of that boating and one bedroom apartment stuff, I need to complete a three-day breast cancer walk.

More information will be coming soon, but for now, our team will be The More The Merrier Walkers for Knockers (Walkers for Knockers was already taken) and currently, there are almost TEN women who have committed to joining us. I'd love to have more.

This is an invitation.

Do you live in Southern California? Or, would you be willing to take a trip? Check your calendar. The dates are November 20-22, 2009. Check out the button on the left in my sidebar - or click this link to see the website and learn more about a three day walk, that will cover sixty miles, and will raise a lot of money to cure a disease that claims the lives of 7.5 million people a year.

There you have it.

That's what's in me this week. A whole lot of instability, a probable mid-life crisis, coupled with an overwhelming desire to cure cancer.

What's in you?

Monday, August 17, 2009

our SC vacation: random shots part 5 (the beach; v2)

At the risk of this blog turning in to a boring play-by-play recount of our vacation, I must admit that posting our photographs and memories from this time away, is salve for my soul. Because I know that on a day when life feels overwhelming and difficult, I will be able to look back at these posts and instantly be transported to a different place.

I absolutely love the South Carolina coast.

Not only do I love the topography and palm trees and Spanish moss, but I love that in the summer, the air temperature is balmy and warm. I love the humidity that makes your skin shine. I love wading through water out to distant sandbars and collecting beautiful seashells.

(This particular sandbar we dubbed "Gracie Island".)

I love the paths that are designed for bike riders and the flat paths that meander for miles and miles. And miles and miles. And miles.


I love that the ocean water is warmer than the pool water in San Diego.


I love the afternoon rain showers that leave the world feeling clean. I love that when you go out for an afternoon bike ride ...

It is quite possible that you might spot deer gazing on the dunes. Or dolphins jumping in the open water. Or pelicans swooping fish from the ocean.

Or ... alligators swimming through a swamp. And when you see alligators cruising through a swamp, you remember that alligators can run up to 35 MPH on land and you make absolutely certain that your bite-sized children don't get anywhere near the water's edge.

Because Jim and my mother are still in recovery mode, we rented a golf cart to shuttle around the island. This worked out really well, because even though we were only a few hundred yards from the beach, we quickly realized that the distance was too far for mom and Jim to walk comfortably. So, we would drive them down the access path, across the sand, and drop them (and our 50 pounds worth of beach gear) off near the water's edge.

Additionally, mom would take the cart every day and run to the local market to pick up important items like the daily newspaper and lollipops the size of our children's heads.

It probably goes without saying that our children adore their Noni. She is so good to them. Not only did she buy them a present every time they went to the market, but she served them up an ice cream cone every afternoon. When it was finally time to leave South Carolina and fly back to California this past week, the girls sobbed all the way to the Georgia state line.

Whenever mom and Jim would go in to their room to take a much needed nap, the children would eagerly await until they could hear them begin to stir ... and then ... they'd pounce.

Jim, an avid sports watcher, would have just turned on the television to catch a Red Sox game, when the kids would hijack the remote and turn on Curious George, while laying across his bed.

There is no doubt that Jim and Mom's recovery has been so expedited over the past few weeks, because these children kept them going constantly. You just had a knee replacement and a stroke?

So ... your point is...??

GET UP!!!


Oh!

And!

Then?

There was the body surfing and boogie boarding we did each and every day. As I mentioned previously, the children's swimming skills really improved on this trip.


As did their ability to take a wave directly in the face without crying.


The terrific trio learned how to time waves and became proficient at catching them at the exact moment so they could ride them all the way to shore.

Some days we went to the beach once.
`

Other days, we went in the morning and again after dinner.


Sure, I had a great time at the beach ... but I really wish the children had enjoyed themselves.

I could find absolutely no indication that they were having nearly as much fun as me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

our SC vacation: random shots part 4 (the beach; v1)

The second week that we were in South Carolina, we loaded up our 12 passenger van and we drove to Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms.


This time that we spent at the beach, was our first true family vacation.


Sure, we've gone away before ... we've traveled back and forth across the country almost 10 times, and we've been camping and spent many a night in a fancy hotel.

But this trip was different.


There was nothing to do but just rest and relax.


Play...


And play ...


And then, play some more.


And if you were with Henry ... DUCK.

(Or, at least - wear goggles.)


We weren't rushing around to see people.


We weren't taking long day trips to various parks and attractions.


We weren't busy entertaining groups of people.


Our days were spent playing at the beautiful beach that was just at the end of our street.


After splashing in the waves for the better part of the day, we would go swimming in a fresh pool and watch the sunset.


At night, we would have wonderful dinners ... like Frogmore Stew ...

Once the children were in bed - we would sit in matching rocking chairs and have a cocktail on the porch. And then, we'd play cards.


During our vacation, I read two books, that I had discovered in the beach house library. Late at night, early in the morning - and while reclining in a chaise lounge at the beach - I read. People, I cannot tell you the last time that I read two books, in a week.

Dr. Seuss not included.


Our vacation at the beach was amazing.


It was heavenly.


It was everything that a vacation should be - and then some.

And because we were there with mom and Jim who have both had significant health challenges this past year ... our trip was very special.

I would like to interject here that Jim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than three months ago. He suffered a massive stroke less than two months ago. He was in the hospital for almost a month and is still completing his recovery process, at home.


Here's Jim. Diving, head first, in to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Every day that we would go to the beach, Jim would dive head first in to the waves, at least twice.


So not only was this vacation wonderful and revitalizing for us ...


I think it was healing for both Mom and Jim.

(That one leg that Mom is balancing on, just so happens to be the leg with the knee she had replaced eight weeks ago.)