What a wonderful, wonderful summer vacation we enjoyed. It was so worth the wait. The long, hot summer, the working way too much, and the days of traveling to get there seem like a fair trade for the fun that we had with each other and with Paul's sister, her two kids, and Paul's parents.
Before we left for the beach, Paul had to head to another part of SC for work, so the kids and I spent a week in the upstate, visiting family. Just a couple days before we left the upstate, I had a conversation with my older brother who expressed sympathy for me at having to go to the beach. Of course he was being sarcastic (and funny, as usual). Apparently my brother is not a beach person. I can respect that--to each his own, right? While I can respect it, I just don't understand how a person could dislike the beach. I mean, what's not to love? Where else can grown people run around half naked, lie down outside for hours at a time, talk as loud as they want, make sand castles, and dig holes in the dirt?
Kidding aside, we find the beach just the perfect vacation. We rented a house in Cherry Grove, SC for a week. We have rented this house in the past and just love it. It's a little 3-bedroom cottage overlooking Cherry Grove's canals and perfectly suits our needs, sitting only a block from the shoreline. What we Callahans like to do on vacation is arrive at our destination and then sit in one spot for a week. Apart from the occasional trip to the grocery store, one night out to dinner (thanks again, Kelly), two trips out for ice cream, and the three times we went for a run, we stayed at the house and the beach (and in our bathing suits) the entire time.
The beach offers a natural playground for the kids where they are easily entertained and pretty well contained. For the most part, we big people could just sit down on the sand or in the water and watch the little ones, playing with them when they would invite us into their digging games. It was actually quite relaxing. Our typical day was something like this: a group breakfast (pancakes or French toast and bacon), then head out to the beach for a couple hours, back to the house for lunch and naps (in which, I must admist, I also indulged), then back to the beach for a couple more hours, then back to the house for dinner (we cooked out almost every night), then kids down for bed while the big people sat out on the back deck and had a beer and talked until we had to drag our own tired bodies to bed. It was just lovely.
Our first day at the beach, Charlie was very happy to play in the water, but Judah, being a novice, was pretty apprehensive. The only way we were able to get him comfortable with the waves was to let him sit in my lap while I sat right on the water's edge, letting the waves come in and out, covering our outstretched legs and then receding. Sitting there with him like that, I was reminded of the last time we took a long family beach vacation. It was about a month before Judah's birthday, and I felt like a beached whale. We had played all week in the tide pools when the tide was out, but the last night of our stay, Paul, Charlie, and I (and Judah, in utero) sat in a tide pool while the tide came in and erased our mini-ocean. It was a strange feeling sitting in a tide pool one moment and then the ocean the next. For some reason it symbolized for me the changes that were about to occur in our family, going from having one child one moment and suddenly having two the next. We were sitting in our warm, comfortable spot, having become used to raising one child, but soon we would be thrust into life with a little girl and a brand new baby. Everything was about to change, and though we were thrilled to soon be having our Judah, it was all unchartered territory for us. Sitting in the water with Judah in my lap and Paul and Charlie beside us felt to me like coming full circle. Looking those waves in the face and being grateful to have our two little ones here with us and our two little ones watching us from Heaven, I was overcome with peace.
Now that our vacation is over, I'm facing a whirlwind of a September. Every September I feel a little overwhelmed, but this one seems particularly staggering (it's fortunate that we just enjoyed such a restful and pleasant vacation). This weekend we will celebrate Benjamin's birthday, and then Paul's. Later in the month we will celebrate Charlie's and Judah's birthdays. This month I will also be starting Charlie in home-kindergarten and running my first half marathon.
Though I'm talking about the near future, I've been doing a lot of learning how to live in the present moment. Live in the here-and-now and really enjoy it. Just like those waves that crash in and ease out again, time keeps moving forward, regardless of how we feel about the past, present, or future. We would do so much better to go with the flow and welcome the change into our lives and be thankful for our blessings. And even those things that maybe we don't immediately call blessings.
This is me (and Judah) on our last beach trip 2 years ago:
This is us now: