Beached (Whale)

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

It’s possible that all the relaxing by the ocean all last week has bleached the words out of my brain, so before going into too much detail about our annual family reunion with Drew’s mom, brother, sister and her family, I’m going to gently ease back into the land-locked world with some pictures.

This year, the beach looked like this:

With tons of glorious, beautiful, hysterical cousin love at every turn: (Ok, ok, and maybe a few freakoutswah! over who got to sit in the big chair or look at that book, but you know, mostly glorious! cousin! love!)

From Ashley

From Ashley

Also from Ashley

Also from Ashley

We had many dance parties:

And by ‘we’, I mean them. I pretty much did a lot of this:

Because really, that’s the best thing in the world when you’re 31 weeks pregnant and close to an ocean.

There was a sunrise(ish) walk with Asher at the National Seashore:

And home cooked meals every day, and late night conversations under scratchy blue blankets, and profound inappropriateness courtesy of Cards Against Humanity, and movie time in that cool darkness that can only be claimed after a long day on the beach, and bad jokes, and just love. It’s cheesy and true and deep and fabulous. We feel really lucky to have a family that we love to travel with and this concentrated week slightly makes up for the miles between us. We keep this trip simple on purpose, tumbling from home to beach to pool to home every day, trading sandy bathing suits for PJs, avoiding anything that would involve a crowd or a line or shoes, blatantly stealing time for naps, and just existing together for seven days. It’s so, so, so good.

Heck yes the Waltons travel with their slippers.

Here’s to the beach, to family vacations, and to floating, weightless, in a gigantic ocean.

Muah.

 

 

 

 

About Place

When I was in high school one of our poetry writing exercises was to write a Where I’m From poem modeled, I believe, after George Ella Lyon’s poem of the same title. I loved this exercise at the time, probably because it gave my 16-year-old voice an edge of highly coveted authority, but over the years it has stuck with me as something of a daily mental status update. I’ll pass something in the car, and my brain will automatically say, I am from the land where chicory and discarded wrappers tell their own stories on the sides of the road. These little quips ground me and comfort me, and importantly, never seem to leave me.

We traveled to North Carolina this weekend for Easter, something of an annual pilgrimage, to two of the farms that I really am from, and all weekend the little I Am From lines were popping up left and right in my mind. We all know what Easter does or doesn’t mean to us, but for me, this time of year is really about returning to something. We get excited to be going back to the farm, to the places that I tromped around on in cowboy boots as a child, to the place that we said I Do, to a little nook in Western North Carolina that you can look at every day and still get caught off guard by its beauty. Although we go many times throughout the year back to these places that have been home for us, there’s something about this time of year that carries a compelling reverence for the world anxiously blooming forward and simultaneously calling us back. Although we don’t live in North Carolina anymore, it holds our hearts firmly and wholly, and getting into its mountains is a lot like secretly bumping knees under a table with your first true love.

In an explanation of her original poem, George Ella  Lyon says, “Where I’m From grew out of my response to a poem from ‘Stories I Ain’t Told Nobody Yet’ (Orchard Books, 1989; Theater Communications Group, 1991) by my friend, Tennessee writer Jo Carson. All of the People Pieces, as Jo calls them, are based on things folks actually said, and number 22 begins, “I want to know when you get to be from a place. ”

I love this question. My rural heritage has taught me that I have no true rural heritage because I doubt we’ll ever be from somewhere until at least 4 generations of our people have entered and left the world there, but let’s remember that I’m nothing without my nostalgia, so I don’t think that I can bear to be metaphorically homeless simply because I have a measly first generation birthright to the part of the world that my family loves. Stubbornly then, this weekend I realized that I know that I am from something because I know where to go to find it, and I know what will be waiting for me when we get there. The land will change, and in one case may no longer be ours, the people will change, the parties will change, the relationships will change, but what will endure is knowing that I am who I am because of what I come from, and in that way, we will always be able to go back. That is, in my mind, when you get to be from a place.

I’m rattling on about all of this because I have chattered about Easter over the years and wanted to make sure that I’ve recorded that this tradition of our annual get-together is not about new dresses and dyed eggs, but it’s about my brave family opening up their home to all of us so that we can say, I Am From…

and so, so, so much more.

(those last 3 pictures were taken shamelessly from my Aunt Vicki, check her out!)

So Much to Say…

And so many pictures to say it with. I have a lot of catching up to do! Spring is springing, I’m freaking out about it, windows are open, doors are wide, things are turning green…if the seasons cause mood swings, may I please welcome you to mania.

But first! Some pictures of the last weeks of winter, of life with the Waltons. Here are some literal snapshots of what we’ve been up to:

Seeing some music…

Blind Pilot

Looking for Spring out frosty windows…

Asher, Mabel, and Louie

Making a lot of breakfasts…

Going to the park and you know, just wearing a hat like Papa…

Looking for the perfect sunset…

Seeing best friends from college and taking a long drink from the well of joy that comes from being with them…

We had to hide in the stairwell under threat of a tornado while in Kentucky. Hilarity, terror, it's all the same.

Hanging out and looking sassy in our jambos (One Walton looks a little sassier in his jambos than the others…)

Enjoying the wonder of waking up to the last snow of the year (and incidentally, pretty much the only significant snow of the year)

Asher's not much for playing in the snow, he just likes to stand around and eat it.

Noting that Louie that might actually be growing before our eyes…

Finding hearts in peppers…

Raging (a fire) on Saturday nights…

And just generally basking in the hum of trying to keep up with the life that we’re living.

Maybe it’s my spring induced mania, but we’re happy right now. We’ve got our hills to climb just like everyone else, but I am trying hard to remember to honor the abundance in our lives by continuing to find ways to say thank you for it, and in saying thank you, I feel happiness.

Oh Spring. You, you, you. You are just too much. Welcome back old friend, let’s roll down the windows and let our hair blow around and get caught up, shall we?

Adventuring

I haven’t said much about this and I likely won’t say too much more about it because what I’m about to say pretty well sums it all up: I started a new job in September and I Love My Job. The day in and day out is great, and one of the new things that is brought back into my life is doing a bit of work-related travel.

We went to NYC week before last for work, and I was able to extend my trip through the weekend to stay with one of my oldest besties from growing up, my friend Lisa.

Here’s a quick summary of Lisa and me: She moved ‘next door’ (you have to use your imagination with that one as we lived in the country, but having a friend that didn’t require a car to see was as next door as things could get and it was divine) from Germany when I was in 5th grade. At first we fought. A lot. In fact, I’m almost certain that we didn’t think that there was a chance in the world that we would ever be friends, but that shows you what we know. We were only in school together for 2 years–when I was in 5th grade and she was in 4th, and then again when I was in 11th and she was in 10th–but in a way I think our relationship is what it is because our time together was always ours. We moved seamlessly between each other’s houses, kept a drawer in each other’s dressers, we fought like sisters and made up like best friends. Lisa was with me the day that I picked out Grace at the SPCA, the day that Drew and I got married, and the day that we saw Asher on the ultrasound screen for the very first time. We always pick up where we left off and although I was 10 when we met, I can’t really can’t think of a time in my life when it feels like she wasn’t there. It’s a quiet and steadfast friendship, and one of the most essential in my life.

Anyone know which church this is in Midtown? It was ominous and lovely at night. Instantly made me think of Gotham City.

It was high time that I visited her as she has always been so good and kind about coming to us and I’ve not been as good about that. She’s currently getting her MFA from SUNY Purchase, so once my business in the city was done, I took the train to Greenwich, CT and we had a wonderful weekend.

We walked along Todd’s Point which gives a unique (though geographically boggling) view of the Manhattan skyline at sunset. It was without a doubt the coldest walk that I have ever taken in my life, but it was so beautiful and I loved that Lisa wanted to show it to me. Instead of taking away from the experience, the sub zero temperature gave our walk a little air of adventure and I have to say that it was pretty invigorating. The sunset over Manhattan was gorgeous and once the wind was at our backs we were almost skipping along with it’s assistance.

On Saturday we went into the city and walked around the galleries in Chelsea for most of the afternoon before making our way to Brooklyn to scope out some of the goods in Park Slope and eat at one of Lisa’s favorite sushi restaurants. We went to the movies both nights which was such a luxury for this mama, and after spending a day outside in the cold, it was kind of the perfect way to settle down for a bit and reconnect with the feeling in my toes.

Walking the Highline in Chelsea

Lisa is focusing on sculpture in the expanded field and particularly how we as humans connect and disconnect with our natural environment. To that end, I loved that my weekend with her was in an obviously very urban setting, that it was bitterly cold, and that we were outside the entire time. We walked for miles without ever breaking pace in our conversation, and as I was flying home on Sunday, I couldn’t stop thinking about how grateful I am to her for helping me let go of the notion that the ‘outside’ dies during the winter unless there’s snow on the ground. As I mentioned the other day, we’ve spent more time outside this winter than in any winter past, but I think I have been doing it on autopilot, just waiting for the Spring to come and the days to warm. I really am starting to see the demure beauty of the winter pallet, and although I’m always going to love open windows and lush trees more than just about anything, I’m really thankful that Lisa kind of gave winter back to me on our trip.

I’m really trying to make my peace with you, winter. I really really am.

Thank you Lisa for being such a divine hostess and sharing your tour guiding talents with me, and also for letting me drink all of your tea. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. xo

My Mama

Mom and I took a quick overnight trip last weekend near DC to take advantage of the tax free shopping weekend and get some time together.  I think of this as our semi-annual pilgrimage to Ikea–why spend more when you can spend less, you know?

We had a great time and didn’t shut up for the entire 24 hours (well, yes, we did take a break to sleep) and mom gave me the inspiration I needed to get back on track with our living room re-do which I’ve lost a little steam on ever since I dyed the couch pink.  The couch is on its way to being something that at least qualifies to be called red and all I can say about the rest of the room is that I’ve been a spray painting fool ever since we got back.  Scared?  Don’t be, I think everything’s turning out just fine.  I think.

We didn’t take many pictures while we were gone except for these two.  Supposedly Mom wanted to take these for Asher, but I’m pretty sure that she just wanted to sit in that little train.  And don’t even get me started about the tiny helicopter that she wanted me to get into…while I appreciate her optimistic enthusiasm for what I can and cannot fit into, the laws of physics exist so that one does not find herself exposing her unmentionables to a mall full of strangers in the name of texting her toddler* ridiculous pictures.  I think Einstein published an entire volume on that.  Happily, the little red car suited me just fine.

We had a great time, I love hanging out with my mom, especially when hanging with her includes getting to sleep in a little and sip some red wine in a hotel bed.  Life’s little luxuries, you know?

Love you Momina!

*This most likely does not need to be said, but Asher doesn’t actually receive texts as he doesn’t have a cell phone (and won’t until he’s old enough to convince me that he’s old enough) and because he’s presently unable to “read” or understand “numbers” or “texting”. Just in case you thought you might need to be calling the reality check police on me.

To the woods

Well team, we hit the woods this past weekend as we made our annual trek to Floyd Fest.  Asher was a champ (a camp champ, one might even say?) sleeping mostly through the night, and reveling in all that there was to see and do.  His two big statements for the weekend were, “touch it?” and “try it?”.  To be clear, the first statement applied to mostly everything but most specifically to the large balloons that were tied everywhere, and much to his father’s delight, the second of the phrases was said over and over about the climbing wall that was set up.  I explained that he would be able to try to the climbing wall next time (next year) and he cried and said, “trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry eeeet!! nexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxt” and we laughed because we’re good parents like that.

One of the many balloons that captured our eye...Asher because he can't get enough of these mystical things, and me because it was like a little poem against the grey sky.

The Kuhn Family, Leigh Anne, Devin, and Joe

We camped with 5 other families with a grand total of 10 children under the age of 12 (and most under the age of 3) and it went extraordinarily well.  We got to take in the likes of Taj Mahal, Grace Potter, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Brand but I have to say that going to a music festival with little ones is a lot more about what they’re into than what we are into, which is really fine.  Floyd Fest is organized extremely well with an entire section dedicated to the children that includes a play structure, its own private stage, free balloon animals, a dress up area, a sand box, and a bunch of other kiddie goodies.  It’s actually kind of like taking your young’ns to a tiny, grassy theme park.  Except it’s a theme park where you can hear great music in the distance and have a beer.  Good stuff.

Austin rocking a yogurt mustache. He'll thank me for this when he's older, I'm sure.

Asher did this all on his own. I laugh every time I look at it. I can still hear my mother's voice as she said, "ANDREW!!!" as she attempted to take pictures of my brother and me in which no fingers were in noses etc. Let the games begin.

Asher and his little buddy Austin beat the sun up all three mornings, so out of respect to the folks that were able to sleep in a little later, we would go up to the main festival area every morning and let the boys run free, which they loved.  This is also the time of day that the various service trucks were out and about doing their thing so the boys got to point to every single truck and day dream about one day driving the “potty truck”.  I’ll let your imagination work that one out.

Sunrise by the main stage. The sun is peeking up above the edge of the world over there on the left...Floyd Fest is on a gorgeous spot at the top of the Blue Ridge Parkway

The early morning light cast gorgeous shadows, I couldn't get enough of them.

Amazing what the world looks like when you're 3 feet tall

Our little buddy Austin is such a dear soul and he often asks Asher for hugs and kisses

We love this festival because it’s a chance to completely escape from reality with no need for phones, because it’s fun to get outside and be good and dirty and be around great music for a couple of days, and because we have such a good time with the group that we’ve been going with for the last 5 years.  Although we’re now waking up with the kiddos round about the time that we would have been hitting the pillow in the old days, like so many things, we’ve found that we enjoy ourselves just as much now as we did then, and I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever seen Asher so carefree and happy. Win-win.

The boys were running (spped walking in Asher's case?) down this path and shrieking at 6am like they owned the world. Nothing makes you feel true joy quite like kids squealing with carefree happiness!

This is without a doubt the most entertaining way to get the air out of the an air mattress. All you need is about 4 enthusiastic children and one obliging father.

So that’s the goods, I’m off to compose a letter to Asher about all of the other trucks that he might aspire to drive one day and take yet another hot shower!

Hannah & Gray

I went to Vermont weekend before last for my friends Hannah and Gray’s wedding.  As it turned out it was considerably cheaper to fly into Boston (about 3.5 hours from VT) and then drive over the river and through the woods to the wedding.  As it further turned out, it was also going to be cheaper for one of my best friends and college roommates, Charlotte, to fly from her home in Milwaukee to Boston and as fate would have it, we arrived about the same time and kicked off a fantastic little road trip through the Northeastern countryside.

Driving out of Boston

We screamed out the windows and did some ugly enthusiastic strapped-in-a-seatbelt-car-dancing and we hunted down a diner for some roadside fare, took a lot of pictures of barns, and just couldn’t stop saying, “gaaaahhhhhhhh, it’s all so scenic!” about every 15 minutes.  Our 3.5 hour drive took almost 5 hours and my cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling so much when we finally made it.  It’s just all so scenic up there, you know?

There really are a lot of gorgeous barns and views in good ol Vermont

When we arrived we were greeted by these beauties:

And we hugged so hard and my cheeks started hurting some more.

The wedding was being held at Hannah’s lovely family farm near Middlebury and if you ever have ANY reason to visit that part of the world, please do it.  The farm house that Hannah grew up in was built in the 1850s and as I understand it, apart from the addition of a screened-in porch, it’s pretty much in its original form.  Although I would say that the countryside is quite similar to my southern Appalachian upbringing, the mountains up there are a bit newer (relatively speaking) and a little steeper, and the homes are mostly in considerably more livable condition than the ones of the same age that dot the backroads I grew up driving around on.  The quaint charm factor is off the charts.  Everything just seems to be well tended and cared for as if there was a statement sent out to the good people of Vermont to maintain and guard the collective aesthetic dearly, and they all seem to take that charge seriously.

Hannah's parent's house.

On Saturday we woke up to help arrange flowers for the wedding and lend a hand where we could and then we sought out the river for a quick dip.

That water was c-o-l-d and refreshing and really really cold.  It was very cold water.  The water was the kind of cold that gives you a short-lived but highly effective involuntary cussing reaction.  But let’s just say that you find yourself experiencing a little discomfort because the night before you had a cocktail or two and you think that the discomfort that you’re feeling is actually kind of awful.  All I can say is, get thee to a freezing cold river under a bright blue sky and just watch as all turns right in the world.  We were back in action seconds after that dip.

Winborne braved the swim hole first like a seasoned river champ

The wedding was in the back yard behind the house and between the beautiful Vermont mountains, the charming bagpipe player, the look of emotional gratitude on Hannah’s face as she rounded the corner to walk down the aisle, and the gigantic smiles of so many faces that I love,  it was one of the best ceremonies that I’ve ever been to.  Hannah’s sweet reaction to getting married had us all bawling in about 3 seconds, but then we were laughing just as quickly because she and Gray were just right there, sharing their commitment with us and it was comfortable and love-affirming.

Following the ceremony we…ate, danced, and were merry for about 12 hours.  I could elaborate, but that pretty well sums it up.  We beat the sun coming up, but only just, and our heads hit the pillow with the words, I don’t want it to end, lingering in the air above us.

I love my friends from Warren Wilson College.  I don’t think there’s another group of people that is any better at finding the real kind of fun that’s out there to be had in this life.  Whenever we go to a WWC wedding there’s no pressure, no fuss, no drama, and definitely no stuffiness.  We laugh hard and dance hard and find ourselves slipping into serious conversation only to be doubled over laughing a few minutes later.  We don’t get to see each other nearly enough, but when we do, it’s always as though no time has passed (though the wave of children that we’re all starting to pop up with begs to differ) and without fail, I always walk away feeling so thankful to have all of these wild and crazy and sincere souls in my life.

The whole Asheville Crew:

Annnnnnnd the ladies:

Thank you to Hannah and Gray, and to your families, for bringing us all together, and for having the kind of love that makes people want to get all excited and dance till dawn.  We love you guys so much.

Balance

Adaptation.  Going with the flow.  Rolling with it.  Working it out.  These are all things that I am giving thought to lately, and things that I’ve been learning to think about a lot more as a parent.  I think about wanting to be a successful parent, and for me that internal conversation inevitably turns back to being able to adjust at a moment’s notice every second of the day.  Some of these adjustments are so obvious (what? You didn’t just jump out of bed at 2am with some regularity before having children?) but the ones that take the most work are the little ones.  The change in tone of voice, in attitude, in expectations.  The minutia of living that piles up on itself to quickly represent your life.

While we were on our beach trip back in June, you might remember that I mentioned that we had a YOLO board with us that my brother-in-law Jeff borrowed from a friend.  I have been thinking about that board fairly often since our trip because it so perfectly represents two things that I have been giving a lot of thought to over the last couple of years.  The first is a simple one: the name YOLO stands for You Only Live Once.  When Jeff first said that he brought the board I more than likely thought of all of the reasons that I probably wasn’t interested…standing on a board in a bathing suit on a public beach, falling, looking weak, fear of the unknown…but when I saw that name something clicked.  Remember, life is short, and regardless of your thoughts about the human condition, I think that everyone can mostly agree that we’re only in this life for this go-round.  When I saw that little scrolling title, that little reminder that you only live once, that life is short, I knew I wanted to stand up on that thing.

To explain the board, the objective is to go from a sitting position to a standing position and then use the paddle that you’ve held on to as you stood up to cruise at will around the surface of the ocean.  Think large surf board meets Gondolier.  The first most obvious obstacle is that it’s difficult to stand on a board while bobbing around in the ocean without immediately getting pitched off.  The second less obvious, although equally challenging obstacle is to just let go.  I remember learning to roller skate, or to ski, and thinking, I know I can do this if I just allow myself to get used to the feeling of moving this way.  It sounds so simple, but the truth is, that is the hardest part of anything new…allowing yourself to abandon what you already know and discover what you’re learning, and it’s been something that I’ve mostly been bad at throughout my life.

My brother-in-law Jeff paddling to shore

So on the first calm day we went out and started trying it out, first going from straddling it to sitting on knees and paddling, and then to pushing up to standing, and then to trying not to crack our heads open as we lost our balance and went under.  We were laughing, it was a lot of fun, and the learning curve was pretty short.  By the second day that we were using it (accounting for a couple of choppy days in between that kept me anchored on shore) I took it out by myself and carefully tucked my knees under myself preparing to stand up.  I stayed on my hands and knees for a moment just getting used to the feeling of moving with the ocean rather than on it.  I took a few deep breaths and told myself, if you want to do this, you have to roll with it.  You have to adapt.  You will fall if you work against this.

Slowly I stood up, spreading my toes and bending my knees with my weight in my heels and just let the ocean rock me for a little bit.  Swells came and I learned to shift my weight further back as I crested over them so that the weight of my upper body wouldn’t send me off the front end as the board crested and sloped down the back side of the swell.  I gave myself up to the sensation.  I celebrated life being short, and importantly life being rife.  Once I was ready I started using the paddle to head out away from the shore, out into the ocean, away from my comfort zone with the biggest goofiest most life-loving grin on my face.  I paddled around for a while marveling that it was working, that I had let go, that I felt like I could stay there all day because I was learning the sensation and not over-thinking the action.

During that ride and since, I’ve thought a lot about how important that lesson was for me.  How important it is for me.  I tend to plan, to over-think, to day dream about and wonder about and mull over and…all of those things that take away from just learning something new while I’m in the act of learning it.  I first started learning this lesson as I worked on finding a centered place of balance in Bikram yoga because once again I just knew that I needed to relax into the sensation of being off-balance in order to be able to stand on one leg.  The lesson was driven home with absolute clarity as I labored to bring Asher from the inside out and realized that I was going to need to be at peace with the sensation of labor if I was going to be able to deliver a child without any kind of intervention.  And now I see this lesson crop up not just when I’m attempting to balance on a floating plank in the ocean, but when I’m taking a deep breath as Asher flips out because he doesn’t want a napkin on his tray or that car in the bathtub or the beans that he loved yesterday that have become inedible today.  I feel the mental weight shift backwards so that I can find my place again and not get pitched head first into the dark waters of uncertainty and frustration.

Some days I’m finding this and other days I completely suck at it.  Actually it’s more like, some seconds I am finding this and other seconds I completely suck at it.  But I remember.  I remember the exact feeling of my body finding its balance on that board and recognizing that I was overcoming a mental challenge, not a physical one.  I remember stopping to take the breath that enabled me to let go and find myself standing, and I think about it a lot.  Tonight Asher was that screaming baby in the grocery store (because we were those parents that took their kid to the grocery at 5pm on a Monday) and rather than ditching the basket and heading for the door we took a beat, adapted, (gave him food) and finished in peace.  It worked, we rode over the back of the swell with our feet still firmly planted and rolled with whatever was coming behind it.  It’s those little modifications, the tiny shifts, the unstoried daily aspects of raising children, the things that we all just kind of do in the moment as the moment strikes that are creating the broad strokes, the ability to stay standing, the possibility for finding ease even if we’re maintaining some amount of necessary tension, and it’s in that place that I’m seeking my balance as a parent and a woman.

The last thing that I’ve been thinking about it how important it is as a parent and partner to push out of my comfort zone with some regularity.  Watching a toddler move through his or her day is a classic study in this as they are always being asked to do things differently and try something new and then try it again and it goes on and on.  It occurred to me standing on the shore of the beach last month that I’m not going to have a leg to stand on (ha!) when it comes to asking my children to try something new if I don’t show them that I am also continuing to try new things.  If I want Asher to be able to quickly adapt and use a different tone, I sure as heck better be able to do that too.  If we want to raise balanced children, we have to have balance of our own, we have to trust our legs, our intentions, our ability to roll with it, and then we have to go there.  We have to not only be able to make those split second decisions, but we have to want to make them, and optimally we have to enjoy that process.

I looked on child-rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring it.

-Rose Kennedy

Beach Baby.

We’ve returned from our annual Walton/Beck family beach retreat and it was…as much as you can fit into the word “wonderful”, it was all that and a bag of chips.  (Actually about 10 bags of Zapps chips, and my bathroom scale is groaning under the proof.)

Here’s a brief schedule of events on any given day of our trip:

Wake up
Go to beach
Nap
Go to beach
Family Dinner
Crawl into bed with visions of sand fairies dancing in your head

Awesome, right?  We are not burdened with distractions, shopping, anything…it’s all about lounging, digging, splashing, snacking, laughing, and just being together.  You know how you mostly always need a vacation after a vacation?  Not so in this case; I don’t think that it would be possible to come home from a trip any more relaxed or refreshed, and with a suitcase of clean laundry to boot.

Much like our Easter trip to the farm, Asher blossomed in the presence of his cousins, starting the week as a fearful baby who was concerned about the sand, about his parents holding other children, about being somewhere new, and ending the week helping Drew dig his annual Big Hole in the sand, laughing as waves crashed on him, and rolling on the floor and laughing with the cousins.  It’s enough to make (these two sappy, dorky) parents choke up a little.  There’s a little boy in there.

This week is really special for us every year because it’s hard to be a flight away from family that we love so much, so being able to be with Drew’s mom and brother and sister and her family is not only really fun, but it’s an opportunity to reconnect and feel close despite the miles between us.  We mostly keep it light, but those moments of serious conversation, of laughing so hard, of watching our children play together and knowing that they’re going to be old together one day…well, it’s just good for the soul, you know?  It’s a good reminder of the sweetness of family and the joy of being able to love and be loved.  It’s just so good.

So, pictures!  You know I’ve got about 300 (literally) but here are a few…
The view from our balcony:

Sunset:

Baby pool on the beach in the shade=good times all around.

Jeff brought a YOLO board which we all had a good time learning to paddle on.  Standing up and paddling in the ocean is no joke, but it was a lot of fun once we got it.  My time on the YOLO board came to a close when I was asked if I saw the 3-4′ shark that was swimming next to me as I was paddling on it.  No, I did not.  Excuse me while I go barf.  


How gorgeous is that water?  As a girl who grew up on Atlantic Coast beaches, I still can’t get over the Gulf’s clear beauty.

Our friend Chuck came by with his twin boys Jackson and Aiden and we even managed to get all of the kids to sit still (for exactly 6 seconds) for a picture:

(L-R: Caroline, Charlotte, Asher, Aiden, Jackson)

Drew’s Big Hole.  Why does Drew dig the Big Hole every year?  Hard to say, except that it brings him (eh, the children! It’s for the kids!) great satisfaction.  When asked about using this hole digging talent to create something other than a Big Hole, Drew counters with, “nah, that doesn’t sound very fun”.  Big Hole it is.

The Beck ladies:

Cousins:

All in all, it was a wonderful week.  I loved watching Asher especially, which I know is probably incredibly shocking to all of you, but it wasn’t just because I could watch him staring at paint drying and enjoy myself, this time it was because he was such an inspiration.  Toddlers can’t ever seem to satiate their inherent curiosity, and so even though Asher didn’t like the feeling of the sand when he first stepped on it, he couldn’t keep himself from stepping on it a second, third, fourth…time until he found that it was actually pretty fun stuff.  I shy away from so much if I think that I might not like it, but watching Asher forge ahead into all that life has to offer, well it’s a good reminder that I need to keep trying things and pushing myself a little more because there’s a whole lot of fun to be had out there.  Seeing him confidently walking around at the end of the week like he owned his little slice of the world was a great reminder that we are much more able than we often give ourselves credit for, and that it’s possible to change immeasurably over the course of a week if we allow ourselves to.  Well, all of that and he’s crazy cute in swim trunks, but mostly the inspiration bit.  I love that boy.

Hello Summer!

Savannah: Wedding Bells

The main purpose of our delightful trip to Georgia was to attend Will and Sarah’s wedding, and what a gorgeous affair it was!  While the rest of the east coast was being pelted with hail and tornados, we were standing on a marsh in Savannah watching the sun set over the water as two best friends said I Do with nothing more than a stiff (ok, crazy unbelievably strong) breeze blowing our hair up and giving us all that kind of wild wonderful feeling that always comes on a strong wind.  Wind can be so suggestive, and this one was particularly evocative, making me think that not only were these two coming together for a life-long commitment, but they were actually being forcefully blown together.  That clever wind.

Sarah is such a stunning bride and she had a gigantic smile with tears in her eyes and look that was something like, “bring it”, which I loved.

And I equally love how relaxed and confident Will looks…

Afterward we all chased them around for hugs and kisses and pictures:

And after that we headed into the tent for dinner and dancing, but not before we got to watch the sun turn the world golden over the marsh:

The reception was so much fun, they hired a great blue grass band (my apologies for not remembering the band’s name) and the food was excellent.  Will and Sarah were so relaxed and happy that it really just set the tone for the night, and before you knew it, shoes were getting kicked off and skirts were swirling, and we were dancing the night away.  Like really dancing hard, sweaty hair and rolled up pant cuffs and all. So. Fun.

You know you’re at a fun wedding when the bride and groom are the first ones to kick off their shoes…I just love this picture:

The dance party:

And here we are with our dear friends and traveling companions, Jedd and Megan (pre-dance party, that is):

The wedding was such a beautiful event, and I think that more than the thoughtful details and decorations, more than the food or the dance floor, or even the amazing view over the marsh, the thing that made this wedding so memorable was how relaxed the bride and groom were and how much Will and Sarah seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Everyone was smiling and laughing all night which is really a reflection of the two people that brought us all together, and I think that will always be the biggest detail that will stand out in my mind about this fabulous Savannah wedding.

Congratulations you crazy kids and thank you so much for such a wonderful time!!