Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fall Break: Florida

Florida in the fall. Perfect.
Well, except for the tail end of the hurricane we drove through on our way into Tampa.
But after just one murky looking day, we were on the beach and in the pool. Glorious.
So this is how our Florida vacation went. Drive all day Saturday - everyone did well! We could go for maybe 4 hours without any huge meltdowns or excessive whining. The girls found new and creative ways to ask, "Are we there yet?" It was impressive. Points for vocabulary. Saturday night, stop in Atlanta to sleep and go to Mass on Sunday morning at St. Thomas. {If you're ever in the area, we recommend them for Mass. The Mass was beautiful, the music above all expectations, the grounds so peaceful, and everyone welcomed us like we belonged.} Drive more on Sunday through the end of a hurricane...maybe it was Nate? Tim did all of the driving during this trip. So all the hugs and kisses to him for getting us there and back safely and not losing his mind when the Florida drivers decided that the best course of action during any rainfall was to hit the breaks. 
Most mornings, Mommy was up before the sun and got to take a walk or pray on the balcony. Tim slept in - his favorite. The sun came up around 7:30 or so. We all got to take that in. The whole ocean would change colors. One morning it looked like the whole earth had been colored purple for a few minutes. We were so happy to just sit together taking it in for a few minutes before everyone was SO HUNGRY. We bought groceries on our way into Indian Shores, so most meals were at the condo. Simon had his first taste of Lucky Charms. He now recognizes the box! How's that for branding?
Mornings were spent on the beach. Simon is still taking two naps a day but he must have been able to sense that this is vacation! and only took one nap most days.
Our kids ran in the water, found shells and skins that crabs had shed, splashed in little tide pools, watched the clams come in with the tide, body surfed on the waves Hurricane Nate brought in the first day of our stay, walked up and down the beach, made several new friends, made sand castles, sand tunnels, sand beds...Basically play until their mom decided they were crispy enough for the morning and forced them to go in for lunch.
Simon loves to pull hair and Tim had to physically restrain him when Vivian was buried in sand and just a head of hair was available for the taking! The worst part is that these girls spoil him so much that she probably would have said, "It's okay, he can pull my hair" for at least the first minute.
Simon kept an eye on the girls during our beach time and mimicked them closely - digging with shovels, splashing in the water, scooping up sand to make little moats.
He also ate a lot of sand...but this was something he did all on his own. None of the girls seemed very interested in that food group.
After lunch, Simon was finally just too tired to go on and napped for a while. The girls watched all the cartoons. He would wake up and we would go to the pool until dinner to wear them out some more. Then it was a shower and supper time. We went through more food than Sarah expected on the trip - these people get hungry when they play this hard!

We did try getting away from the condo a little to play at the park two blocks away, check out the bird sanctuary next door (that left an odor memory for the trip!), extra trips to the grocery when everyone woke up way too early one morning, and putt putt with alligator feeding. Mostly though, we were happy to be where we were.
See the alligators behind them!?!? There were 16!
We did do dinner out a few nights! Fancy!
Two of Tim's high school friends, George and Brian, live in Florida now. We had a really fun evening with them at an outdoor restaurant on the river. A live band and a wild cat to chase gave the 10 kids we had between our three families all the entertainment they needed!
Nights when we didn't do dinner out, we hurried back to the beach after dinner to take in the sunsets.
After the kids went to bed, Sarah did one of her favorite vacation things...climb into bed very early and watch HGTV. We don't have a TV in our bedroom at home so this feels like an indulgence. Tim stayed up later reading and doing whatever normal-hours-people do at 9 PM.

Two more items of note! Simon got really good at standing on vacation, but was still completely uninterested in walking.
And we saw dolphins in the water from our window a few mornings! Kind of hard to see in the picture below, but we loved it! And one evening as we were eating dinner, Tim noticed a bunch of fish jumping out of the water, then birds came to pick them off...then we saw something bigger in the water circling the fish. It wasn't dolphins, but it was big. Just a little creepy to think about what you're sharing that whole huge ocean with.
On the last day, Vivian got a small taste of what she was sharing the ocean with. She got stung by something that made her ankle and foot develop white welts and itch, but it went away within an hour and she was back to playing that same evening.

Already time to go home. Some vacations you are ready to get back to your own bed and life. And some vacations make you think it we be okay to stop the hurry-hurry and just live like this forever. Forever. And ever.
Amen.

Friday, November 10, 2017

September

Isn't the way time passes a funny thing? How some days life is paced and even; others are frantic and you can barely understand how it is already 3 PM? September was like that for us. Some moments went by very, very slowly. Slow enough that we took a moment to stop and smell the lavender...and met a new friend.
Slow enough to take in a perfect-weather parade in our small town.
Slow enough to sing happy birthday in Canadian to a newly-minted two-year-old cutie, Catherine.
Life gets so fast at other times. Faster than you know how to plan for or cope with. On our way home from Canada over Labor Day weekend, we learned Tim's Dad was in a very serious car accident. We're now two months away from that accident and he is still in the hospital getting stronger, receiving physical therapy treatment, learning how to live all over again. Looking back now, there were many blessings on this journey. He was immediately taken to a trauma unit that could handle the severity of his condition. Tim's Mom has always had a bed to sleep in with friends or family near the hospital where Papa is recovering and she's felt God's guiding hand with her. He's in one of the country's best physical therapy hospitals. We've been able to visit him and send pictures. He will be able to come home soon, he's starting to walk again, he's eating and breathing on his own! So many blessings.

The day after the accident, Sarah took the kids to her parents' house, while Tim spent the day with his Mom. He was so glad to be able to be nearby to support her. Our kids are still young, but it's almost a kind of hope we have that in the future they will be standing with us, guiding us through, laughing, and crying. We love them this little, but someday they'll be adults and instead of walking like ducks behind us, they'll be walking beside us. It's another kind of hope that we might somehow be able to walk beside our parents, holding them up, sharing their joy. We developed even more appreciation for the deepness of family this month.
And the deepness of friends. The accident meant Nana and Papa couldn't make it to Grandparents' Day at the girls' school. Sarah's parents both had work obligations. Our neighbors at the old house, who are a third set of grandparents, were able to join the girls...and they even made it into the paper!
Simon turned 11 months old at the end of September. He was crawling fast, had four teeth, and still loved to be spoon fed baby food. We try to soak him up, slowing down time as much as we could for mental and digital pictures to store up these baby days.
Baby days are so much work, but then he smiles or waves or claps and we're back in the game, shrugging off the exhaustion to scoop him up and make him giggle one more time. 
Speaking of time...this picture was one year ago!
Now these two busy boys are into everything!
Tim and Sarah got to slip away for a night to celebrate Tim's childhood friend's wedding. Isn't the bride so pretty!?!? If you've ever been married, you know that's a day when time is suddenly gone. Sure, it must be an actual 24 hour period...but to the bride and groom, it's less than a blink of the eye. It's here and then gone no matter how hard you try to cherish every single moment of the beginning of this new lifetime together. 
Time has to be forced into slowing down sometimes. Like a retreat or a vacation when you step away and enjoy what God has created. When you have a to-do list, but you're going to be. The girls had a weekday off of school, so we went to the Indy Children's Museum and watched our little creations learn and play.
There was a great new Pop Culture exhibit with toys, music, and fashion through the decades.
Our girls were REALLY into the hands-on fashion. When it was time to pick the last thing to do before we left, they immediately agreed on "making the dresses".
Simon wasn't really into that, but he did love the baby play area. Water to splash! Stairs to crawl! Buttons to push! Blocks! Feathers! Light switches! His own kind of heaven.
Speaking of heaven...nothing quite washes away the stress of the day like cozying up with a kiddo or three.
Mommy and Felicity do our preschool activities daily. This gem was a stand-out piece of work for the month.
We spent another fun morning at the zoo when Catherine and Aunt Annette came for a visit near the end of September.
Catherine and the boys had their first train ride - we documented it!
Our county fair happens the last week of September. The girls proudly displayed their first sewing projects!
We also rode rides, watched or participated in the parade, and ate our fair share of fair donuts. Simon even got a taste because you just haven't been to the fair without the fair donut! He liked our reasoning.

September was not only the month of time/timelessness...but also the month of the Hrywnas! We got to see them for a third time at the lake house when Tom helped Tim take Papa's boat out of the water for the season.
It was so much fun to get to share lake living with them for an afternoon.
Keep our Papa and Nana in your prayers - that God will provide strength, grace, and healing as he continues walking this path of recovery.