Wednesday, August 31, 2016

8 Days In

I didn’t get her picture before we left so I asked her to take a selfie since I knew there was no hope of a picture since I was dropping her off.  

This is so normal, I know…to drop kids off at school and come home to an empty house— a QUIET, empty house.  But FIVE days a week.  It’s really amazing.  Only 8 days in, I don’t know the full extent of the “amazing-ness” but everyday, I find it hard to believe that they will leave again the next day too.  And only 8 days in, I really can’t tell yet exactly how different I am going to feel.  I think mid October, maybe I’ll know?  All I know, it’s a very big deal.

The first week was good for both of them.  Julia had a couple of schedule snafus but other than getting lost like every other freshman, wondering what to wear and not being able to locate her locker for a week, she really enjoyed it.  This isn’t easy— brand new school, HIGH SCHOOL, 6A school {very large}, a handful of friends— I think she’s {I want to say ‘killing it’ but can a 45 year old say that?  Without people thinking, “she’s trying to talk hip”?}I think she’s doing swell.  Ha!  Anyway.  I am so proud of her.  God loves my girl— way more than I do and He’s using other people to show her that too.  Another mom offered to get some freshman girls together at a yogurt shop last Sunday just to give Julia more familiar faces to see in the halls.  When I thanked her later, she said, “Today was my pleasure and a glimpse of God’s love for Julia!”  My heart is full.

Get this— NO DRESS CODE.  Nada.  Zip.  It’s really hard to believe in 2016 but there’s not.  Julia left today in running shorts, long sleeve T-shirt and running shoes.  Second day for that look but she’s worn “real clothes" the other days.  I had no idea what she’d want to do.  Last week when she came down in above said outfit, no make-up {she doesn’t wear much but NO mascara or gloss) and her hair in a bun, I knew she was O-KAY.  Made me happy that she was comfortable in her bare and beautiful 14 year old skin.  For now.  Will continue to pray.  For lots of things.

Brighton didn’t have football practice on the first day of school so I didn’t drop him off until— another “get this”— 9:30!!  I’ve heard of this but wasn’t sure I really believed it.  But it’s true. And the sweetest thing that happened on day 1— There is a group of girls I have known since right before Julia was born and many of our children overlap in ages but hardly have ever schooled or even attended church together.  Two of my friends in that group had kids starting at McLean too. As I was inching down the street to drop him off, we saw one of the boys {and his mom} so B jumped out and I called Kellie to tell her B was running up behind them.  When they got to the front of the school, our other friend was there so they all got to go in together and walk each other to their homerooms— after Kelly explained to B what homeroom was.  And she was able to take this picture.  Again, my heart was full.

Thanks, KB, for taking this picture!
Back to the 9:30 drop off.  We only got ONE morning of that.  Football practice drop off is 6:30!!  Hello morning.  He’s rocking the alarm clock and ready to go. On time. Our Golden Retriever went without breakfast a couple of days as B was getting used to this new dark-thirty schedule {Gabe had lunch though when we realized}.  Gosh, I know B’s tired.  I told him this morning that this would be easier once they played their first game.  I watched him get out of the car this morning— in the dark— he was barefoot, carrying his shoes, glorious bed hair and too many pieces NOT in his backpack and sure enough, he left his lunch in the car.  I’m not sure if the left lunch was by design or not because, guess what?  He has an affinity for cafeteria food.  Of course he does.  Carbs and cheap meat are his favorite food groups.  I am not sure what we are going to do about that.

By about Tuesday last week {SECOND day of school}, he said, “I can’t believe I get to go back tomorrow!”  He truly loves it.  I went to his open house last night to meet his teachers— and some of his friends- and I could just tell, he LOVES it.  Going into situations like that for him are very natural and energizing even.  Not one atom in his body is introvert.  He thrives with all the people and all the interactions.  Now, let’s see if his heart and grades thrive. {So many prayers to pray!}

I cannot end this without a bit on pick ups/drop offs/carpool.  This was a brand-spanking new frontier for me.  I had no idea.  Really.  I am SO impressed with my friends who have done it for YEARS and not ONCE complained.  I am totally inspired.  The first day, it rained, so Monday night my friends assured me it was “pick up on steroids”.  But even then, I knew I needed to do something different.  Every day I have tried new routes and new times and I think I’ve got it.  Ballet started this week so I am trying some new streets for that and the piano time slot might be a lost cause but I am going to try really hard tomorrow.   Carpool is a BLESSING— surprised it isn’t mentioned in the Holy Scriptures somewhere.  To AVOID pick ups is the way to go so you really want to make carpool work.  However, you get to know the kids which is the upside of it being your day to drive.  Just say yes.

But did I mention I come home to a quiet, empty house FIVE days a week?  I can do crazy pick ups, no problem.


Yes, I do miss them.  It took me until Friday but B got out of here early that morning without my seeing him and about 2 o’clock, I thought, “I miss him”.   I went into this with my eyes wide open.  I know what I had with them for nine years.  TIME.  Lots of precious time.  We interacted all day and interacted fully all those years.  Some was ugly and some was GOLDEN.  Putting them in public school, I knew that would be gone. It is a sacrifice made.  I know I am missing a lot.  And I am okay with that— on the days I remember the Lord led us to here.  I have to trust Him with their time— to mold and shape them into who He has created them to be, to allow circumstances in their lives that drive them to Him, to develop more compassion for a larger sphere, and to begin to understand our world’s culture and how to interact IN it but not OF it.  {Prayers!!  Please!!}

Seriously.  Can all of that really happen in middle/high school??!  Who knows.  I think it’s a good starting place.  My heart is full of gratitude to a good and faithful God who loves my children way more than I do.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lake Day {Old Friends and New}

Did I ever tell you it rained -- it seems-- the LAST MONTH OF SUMMER?!?  Pool days came to an abrupt halt.  No more packing coolers.  No more sunscreen applications.  No more lazy days of chatting in the sun {or shade - depending on who you are} with friends.  It was sad.  A “lake day” had been promised to Julia with a few old friends and new who would be joining her at Paschal the first day of school but the days and days of rain seemed to be determined to snuff this fun day out.  On the day of as I was debating on whether or not to cancel it, all it took was one boy in the background of the conversation I was having with his mom saying, “Let’s just try it!”.  No more questions-- if he was game, I was game.  After a handful of optimistic texts to the other parents, I heated up the Hawaiian Roll sandwiches, loaded the cooler with fun cans and bottles, layered THREE batches of Rice Krispie treats in one container, the biggest bag of popcorn I’d ever seen in my life and off we went.  As I was heading out the door, I noticed the wood pile and thought of wet kids and evening time and threw a few pieces of wood in the back of the car.  And in case you were wondering if I am crazy or delusional, we had a VERY strange August.  Very cool. Very wet.

Kids, lake, a dock, a football, no worries of sunburn.  Perfect.

How many teenagers can you fit on a ski boat?
 {They didn’t all go at once, of course. But they would have tried!}

Always a little work to get a group shot.

As the afternoon turned to early evening, the sky just kept getting more dreamy.

Audrey was the ONLY one to try wake boarding and make it up several times.  Hudson was a veteran- got up the first time-- but I applaud the boys for trying.  Really hard.

Tommy, Audrey’s dad, started the fire - WITHOUT lighter fluid- {show off} while Jeff slung the kids around on the tube.  They found sticks so they could heat their sandwiches.

We lit sky lanterns at the end which-- I don’t care how may times you’ve done them- they are just cool.  And so pretty to watch.  They floated the right way-- thank goodness-- AWAY from the trees.  But we were able to watch them until they were just specks.  

The sky at this point was just incredible-- as you see in the following picture but, here, you can see the reds and pinks reflecting onto them as they followed their lanterns.

I know.  Amazing.  This is completely unedited taken on the phone. It just looked like this.  I noticed a couple of the kids-- boys, mind you-- running back to snap a picture too.  Gotta love a kid who appreciates a sunset. ; )

We had a GREAT time with these kids.  We just wanted to give Julia a few more friendly faces to recognize as she headed to a brand new school.  I was completely encouraged- and impressed- to meet them because each of them were super polite and very helpful.  And so very grateful.  That always gets a momma’s heart.  We’ll load this crew up anytime they want to go.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

2016: St. George Island- A Little Sweet Tea to Cure the Beachfever

Driving through Port St. Joe last Saturday afternoon on our way to St. George Island, talking out loud, I figured something out.  We had rolled down the windows to smell the ocean air as we got our first glimpse of the Old Florida Gulf.  {I consider Port St. Joe the entry to Old Florida, but what do I know?}  I always take in the surroundings of the gorgeous coast line- the shacks, the boats, the shops, the businesses- ones thriving, ones long closed and all the haphazardness that comes with time, coastal time in particular.  Apalachicola is no different.  Bigger but much the same.  Before we hit the bridge that takes us to the 28 mile long island of St. George, we drive through the famous oyster town.  And it meanders.  Again, you see shacks of old grayed wood patched together with metal or whatever was handy it seems, signs painted over signs, a shop you didn’t know was there because you never noticed that street winding through, boats on the bay that have seen better days-- no rhyme, no reason-- just a bay town that has become what it is just like the surf of the beach.  It just happens.  With age.  As we were turning off of Avenue B, back to 98 which takes us to the bridge, I said, “Anyone can up and build a beach town, but you can’t just build this.”  Jeff laughed, “Yes, it takes almost 200 years to get something to look so............”  I can’t remember the word he used, but it was something like random, “colorful”, meandering, or eclectic.  He didn’t think it was necessarily a compliment but I did.

St. George is much the same.  These places have character-- not that the new places don’t.  I LOVE the pristine beauty of the beach communities on 30A but it’s a completely different experience.  The character is of a different age.  Not better or worse-- just different.  I have been falling in love with Old Florida for a few years now-- with all of its dilapidation and growth like ivy on a English Tudor--  and I think I am finally there -- ready to say it.  “Old Florida, I love you.”

This was our 13th year on the island and it never disappoints.  I know a lot of why I love it so much is the people with whom I spend the week.  We’ve made and are still making some great memories there-- all growing old and growing up together.  {A lot changes over 13 years- for ALL age groups} Sea sickness, sunburns, picture nights (they’re getting SHORTER!!}, belly aches from either eating too much or laughing too much, sore losers or winners, taller kids, cuts and bruises, cousin club, sea turtle sightings, sunglasses + reading glasses, practical jokes, eating habits, jelly fish stings, the year RJ knew it was his last year for quite a while, sitting among the dolphins in a kayak, the paddle board challenged, a very busy coffee pot-- and griddle, shore fishing and catching all manner of fish, fireworks, being REALLY sore, sky lanterns, books and books, peaches, Bill’s beach activities that always make it more fun {thus the "REALLY sore"}, sand in our beds, the smell of bacon EVERY morning, daily grocery trips, the years we had no tent and on and on and on.  It’s all very normal but oh so very special because of our family.  We are so grateful for this week together.  And the backdrop just doesn’t get any better.

To me, it looks different every day.  I love how it changes so much during the day and night.

Brighton had just returned from camp the day before so I saw a lot of this on the way there.  It was more of a service camp and he had worked his boo-tay off.

Jeff and B’s roughhousing ended with B’s foot through the high quality sheetrock at the Days Inn.  B was mortified.  We were off to a GREAT start.

Driving through Wewahitchka, home of the Dead Lakes and Tupelo Honey, we saw this beautiful wood in the yard of this store-- wood that drys out when the water goes low and then floats to the top when the water rises again in the Dead Lakes.  It’s big business for many.  Each piece is so unique-- full of character.  I’ll show you my small piece later.

My Mom always brings the peaches and we ate all but five.  They were so yummy.  I got a little excited.

We couldn’t stay in the house we normally stay in {Beachfever}-- water damage being repaired.  We liked the different house {Sweet Tea} but I am ready to have the other one back...HOWEVER, I did like this.  This is the view I had with my head on my pillow.

Even though I don’t fish, I do love this scene.  If RJ weren’t playing professional baseball, he’d be in this picture.  

Blake making much of his puny catch.  But that, folks, is a real fisherman.

This one is too but he just couldn’t seem to hold his fish this particular evening.  

Here is the benefit of having fisherman with us....  getting to eat it right out of the ocean.

Although he held this one just fine.  So he pulled in this while Hunter and I were doing this.....

Huge potential for fun

What a daddy will do for his daughter.  Hunter, this is amazing.  

Somehow, Blake was on the winning team.  Every. Time.

And he’s an obnoxious winner.

More proof.  

And while we are playing around on the beach-- 


We so missed Hunter’s energy last year!  It was truly fun having her back this summer!  After many attempts for all three of us to hop on the kayak to take pictures of the dolphins with H’s GoPro, we capsized, missed the dolphins and settled for a shameless selfie.

We interrupt this vacation to stare at our cell phones.............

Aunt Ebby’s AGAIN

Pre- meal entertainment

The bay-- picture kudos to Hunter

I bet you’re wondering where B’s book is.

Last year it was whip and nay nay and I think they call this the dab...  which may or may not have questionable origins....

You only need one good picture. 

Jeff didn’t think it was nearly as funny as we did.  

Here are my two favorite finds-- my piece of wood from Dead Lake {and it’s PINE} and this book.  Four ladies who either grew up in the area or visited regularly for years put together this gorgeous collection of photos, history and stories from their beloved area called Old Florida.  {“Saints” meaning Port St. Joe, St. Maria, St. George and St. Theresa} It’s wonderful.  

This was the only way we got to see RJ...  

And Jason.

The lanterns were beautiful.

Saturday morning is the worst-- having to leave everyone and this beauty.  

I love this crew-- each and every one.

Thanks, Mom and Dad for a very special week!