Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 3

Day 3 at the beach dawned much like the days before (here, here, here). I just love watching the sun rise over the ocean. It never gets old, does it?

Answer: No, not it does not.

Seeing the mist and the clouds being pushed away by the light. Again...I could chew on that, as it relates to LIFE, all day long.

But I won't.

Not today.

It stayed cloudy even longer this morning, and we waited in the condo for the sun to come out. Had I been thinking clearly, I would've realized that it was the perfect "lightness" for pictures, and gotten everyone down to the beach in their cute clothes.

But alas...

I never even thought about it.

Eventually, tho, we headed down to the beach. Aaron-the-son-in-law is a big kid at heart. He brought down our skim board and a boogie board. He was ready to have him some fun. 

He started with the skim board first. He immediately attracted the attention of 3 young boys, who started asking him all kinds of questions. Aaron is very good with kids, and was patient in answering all of them. He put on a show with his crazy, arm-flailing antics expert skim-boarding moves.

Then, he got out the boogie board and headed out into the waves. If you don't know, skim boards are used at the water's edge...and boogie boards are used out in the water. His new little friends joined him in this, and they had a big time riding the waves to shore.

And, even tho Aaron had on sunscreen...and even tho he re-applied about 4 times during the day...he got as red as a lobster. I'm guessing all the times his body hit the sand or rode a wave into shore...rubbed off all of his sunscreen. He didn't complain at all. It just looked uncomfortable.

The rest of us were basically content to sit on the beach. I had Joshua wrapped in a large beach towel because the wind was whipping. It was about this time that I noticed THE WRISTBAND.

When I first put it on him, I went through the long speech about how everyone had to wear one...it was the rule...and we needed to keep it on the whole time we were there...again, it was the rule...blah, blah, blah. The whole time I was talking, he had on his "defiant Fred face." You know, angry eyes, jaw set, lower lip stuck out. He.was.not.happy.

So, sitting on the beach, I looked over at Joshua's wristband. It was on his arm, all right, but it was stretched and warped beyond recognition. Home-boy had apparently spent quite a bit of time slowly and deliberately pullllllling on it until he got it off his wrist...and now it was all stretched out. Instead of fitting close to the skin LIKE A NORMAL WRISTBAND...his hung like a bangle.

I didn't think we could go back and ask for another one, altho we probably could've. It's just that we had already gotten him another one the day before, because he "accidentally" snapped his FIRST band shut before we put it on his wrist, and you know that after those things are snapped together, they will not open back up. THAT'S KIND OF THE POINT.

We decided to go to Lulu's for dinner. It's a restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffett's sister. It is usually VERY crowded, so, once again...Jim wanted us to leave our condo at 4:30.

When I came in from the beach and started getting ready, I noticed that my right eye was very irritated. I figured that maybe a grain of sand had gotten in under my contact. I thought that if I took it out, cleaned it and put it back in...it would be fine.

Ummm.

When I took my contact out, it had a significant chunk missing from it. WHAT IN THE WORLD? WHERE DID IT GO? I ended up throwing that contact away, obviously, and I spent the rest of our vacation with just one contact. I NEVER have problems with my contacts, but I do always think about the "what ifs" before I go on a trip...which is why I had ordered a new box of them before we left. They were supposed to get here on Friday, but they didn't come. I thought, "oh well...they'll probably come on Saturday." We were leaving on Sunday. Well, they never came, but OH WELL...I never have any problems with my contacts, so I doubted that I would even need an extra set.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

All in all, it was a minor inconvenience. It did give me a head-ache for days, and it was super frustrating, but I know there are people who can't even see what I can see on a bad day...so there's that. Very thankful for sight.

Back to Lulu's: They told us it would be a 40 minute wait, which isn't bad...but we ended up only waiting about 20 minutes! The guys didn't mind waiting because they could look at all the fancy yachts in the little harbor there. The GIRLS didn't mind waiting, because we shopped in the little Lulu's shop, and I bought each of them a sweatshirt. Even Faith, who didn't get to come with us this year, got a sweatshirt to match Holly's and Morgan's.

And Joshua picked out a t-shirt for Jenni, too.

Our dinner was very good, as usual.

After dinner, we drove out to the outlet malls at Foley, Alabama...and everyone kind of split up. Jim and Joshua usually go together to "man stores," and then come back to the vehicle and wait on everyone. Holly and Aaron went together, Logan and Morgan went together...and Clark and I went together. I usually get a new pair of Nikes at the Nike outlet every year, and this year was no exception.

We finally all met up at the vehicle, and headed back to the condo. I made more "wop" cookies. Day 3 was a success!

So very thankful to have this time with our family.

"Praise the Lord from the earth, all sea monsters and ocean depths..." Psalm 148:7

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 2

I love every season that God gives us, but it's like I can't fully appreciate a new season until I let go of the current one.

Lots of analogies to LIFE here, but that's for another day because BEACH.

Anyway...I was thinking about how much I love Fall. I love the leaves and the colors and the food and the football. I always wish it could last longer. But, at some point, I put the pumpkins away, and get out the Christmas stuff...and even tho I'm sad to see Fall go, moving on to the next season makes me so happy.

So, as we leave winter, and head into Spring, I know there's quickly coming a day when my beloved PJ Salvage flannel pajammies will have to be put away.

Thankfully, that day is not today! 

Because I got up early and went out to the balcony to watch the sun rise before breakfast. The wind was blowing and the waves were crashing...it was absolutely beautiful. I sat there, in my flannel pjs, and could hardly take it all in...that God, in His majesty, created all of this beauty. It's really true: "the Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1)

The fact that He created us...we are so very small, compared to all of His creation, and yet we think we are SO BIG.

We hung around the condo until late morning, when we all ventured out to the beach. It was sunny and warm, but it wasn't what I would call, "BEACH-warm." It got warmer during the day, and we had a great time sitting and talking and looking for shells.

Joshua and I decided to go on a walk, and Jim jumped up and said he was going to go with us. It became apparent after about 1.29384756 minutes that the word, "walk," had a different meaning to Jim.

Because I am with Joshua most of the time, I know that he doesn't do anything fast. Add walking on sand...barefooted? Well, fah-ged-a-boud-it.

But Jim views everything as an Olympic competition, so he was becoming increasingly frustrated with our stop-and-smell-the-roses...or, stop-and-pick-up-the-seashells approach to our "walk."

We ended up parting ways pretty quickly. Jim continued on his focused, fast-paced 3 mile walk, and Joshua and I went maybe a quarter of a mile, turned around and walked back. He picked up several pretty shells along the way. We saw some birds, admired a sand-castle, saw a boat in the distance...and talked about how powerful the waves were.

Joshua's main concerns at the ocean every.single.time.we.go is SHARKS. I told him that it was too cold for sharks, and that Spring Break is not shark season.

Don't judge me. I was just trying to calm my big man's fears. I have no idea when "shark season" is, or even if there is such a thing...and I don't know what temperature is good for sharks. I prefer not to even think about it, thank you very much.

After a fun day at the beach, we all came in and got ready for dinner. Jim likes to eat with the old people, so he was chomping at the bit...rushing everyone out the door at the ripe, ol' time of 4:30 IN THE AFTERNOON.

We went to the Original Oyster House and Seafood Restaurant in Gulf Shores on the first night. It's one of our favorite places. The food is usually very good, and, with a party of 8...it really was good to get there early (just don't tell Jim, because it will go to his head). We only had to wait about 10 minutes or so. There are several cute shops connected to the restaurant and right in this shopping area, so after we finished our meal, the GIRLS shopped, while the GUYS waited outside for us.

AS IT SHOULD BE.

AMEN.

It was during our dinner that I happened to notice that Joshua was still wearing his wristband.

When we checked into our condo, they gave us 8 wristbands...one for each person. The bands identified us as belonging to our condo complex, and we were supposed to wear them the whole time we were there...to get us into the gym or the tennis court or any of the pools...or the lazy river.

I knew it was going to be a problem. Joshua doesn't "do" wristbands, along the same lines that "Joey doesn't share food!"

If you've never watched the show, "FRIENDS," then you don't know what I'm talking about.

But, sitting in the Original Oyster House, and looking down at the band on Joshua's wrist...I was convinced that we'd turned a corner. My man-child was growing up.

After we left there, we headed to the "shark" store to walk around. If you've ever been to Gulf Shores, you know what I'm talking about. We just walked around for a few minutes. I am always worried we will run out of sunscreen, so I bought two extra cans of it, just in case...and I paid approximately 400% more than what I paid at my local Wal-Marks before we left.

We came back to the condo, and I made "wop" cookies. You know...the kind in a roll that you wop out on the counter, roll into balls and bake. It's a tradition that we make them every night while we're at the beach...and you know the old saying, "we can't buck tradition can we?"

Answer: No, no we can't.

Even if we've just eaten ice-cream.

"You silence the roar of the seas..." Psalm 65: 7

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Day 1

I haven't really blogged much on this trip, and I would like to say it's because I'm having too much fun.

Which, I am.

But also there's the contacts.

OR THE LACK THEREOF.

More on that later.

On our first night there, we always go eat pizza...and then we always go to the grocery. So after we explored our condo, we all piled in one car, and headed to the pizza place...where we proceeded to wait at the "please wait to be seated" sign for approximately 17 minutes without a SOUL saying anything to us. While we were standing there, I took a gander at the other people in the restaurant. NO ONE WAS SMILING...and only one table had food.

DUH DUH DUHHHHH.

But Jim, who is normally the "let's just go somewhere else" person in situations like this, very calmly said, "wellll...this place is never very fast...let's all be patient."

Which just proves that the Pizza Hut at the Gulf Shores must be a portal, and we have now been transported to another world.

We did finally get seated by a very harried and sweet waitress who was doing her best to do it all. I overheard her say that they'd had several people quit recently, and that she'd been there all day. We left her a good tip.

We got our food and it was good, and then we headed to the grocery store.

AKA: just.kill.me.now.

Because, if you've ever tried to take 5 toddlers anywhere...or if you've ever, say, tried to corral cats...well, then you can kind of relate to what it was like. It was kind of like a combination of both of those things.

Jim said he and Joshua would relax in the car while I took the rest of the kids and did all the work wait in the car while the 6 of us went to the store. I suggested they go in and try to find an umbrella, since he mentioned we might need another one. He said, AND I QUOTE, "good idea."

So, I took 4 young adults and a 19 year old into the store with me...with instructions to get any special things they liked for breakfast, lunch and snacks...and I went aisle by aisle to get the things on my list. And 30 minutes later, they found me in the section where you buy alcohol in a carton like orange juice.

JUST KIDDING.

I don't drink, but I did need a stiff Diet Dr. Pepper and two Motrin by the time we got back to the condo.

Don't judge me.

Because when we got to the car, all 6 of us and a completely full buggy...Jim and Joshua were sitting in there checking their Facebook and WHAT-NOT. When I opened the trunk, it was empty...so I said, "you didn't find an umbrella?"

And Jim said, "what umbrella?"

And that's how Jim died.

Just kidding.

I said, "you said you were going to look for another umbrella while we were shopping for groceries." Jim, "well, I guess I COULD do that."

HELLLOOOOO? HE HAD JUST SAID THAT HE WAS GOING TO DO THAT.

The kids helped me load everything into the car, while Jim went into the store. I sat in the front seat in the fetal position until one of the kids said, "there's DAD!" He was pushing a buggy with a new umbrella in it, and grinning from ear to ear.  I fought the urge to tell him that he just took away 20 minutes of my life that I would never get back.

We got back to the condo, and got everything put up...and everyone was full and happy. I took a hot shower and got ready for bed a fun week. I posted some pictures of our trip on my Facebook and IG (martythemoose).

Speaking of taking a shower...the shower in the master bathroom had two heads on it. I believe I might have complained casually mentioned about the issues with our shower and the hot water and how I am turning into my mother-in-law because I think the government is out to get me by taking away my hot shower rights with their energy-efficient water heaters.

WELL.

I stepped into that shower, turned on BOTH shower heads, and stood in the middle for 5 or 7 minutes and just let the hot water hit me from all sides. It.was.glorious.

I told Jim, "if we ever get to build a house, like when you retire, we have GOT to have a shower like that." He said, "you DO realize that that's a shower for two people, don't you?"

And I went all Diff'rent Strokes, "what'chu talkin' about, Willis?" on him.

Because that is a shower for one person...one very happy person.

"O God, You cause abundant showers to fall on Your chosen people. When they are tired, You sustain them..." Psalm 68:9

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Home Is Where My People Are"

I just want to talk a little about Sophie Hudson's latest book today. In case you haven't heard or aren't familiar with her, this is her second book. It's called, "Home Is Where My People Are." Her first book is titled, "A Little Salty to Cut The Sweet," and it's a great book, too.

But this second book is all about family. And friends.

But mostly about family.

It's about traditions and connections and friendships and faith.

It's a lot about faith.

I've bought 9 copies of this book already and given 8 of them away. Updated to add: I kid you not...this just happened: my little sister just texted me to let me know that her Amazon order just came in. I was thinking, "what did she order and why should I care?" And THEN she sent me a picture of Sophie's book. :) So I told her about Sophie's first book, and she hasn't read that and now she is so excited!

Listen, I highly recommend this book. I was drawn into it, and could not put it down. Sophie's family...her hometown, her friends, her community...was everything I ever wanted growing up, but never had.

I've written before about how I was raised an Air Force Brat. We moved all the time and never lived near any family. I never got to grow up in a town where I was familiar with streets or neighbors. I never stayed with my grandparents. I never got to go to the same church for my whole life. I never had the life-long friends that Sophie talks about in her book...but I always wanted to.

All of the stuff that she talks about...I never had any of that...but it's like I always knew I wanted it.

How is that even possible...to want a life that you don't even know about?

But I did.

I wanted the stability Sophie wrote about in this book...because my life was never stable.

I had a great life, don't get me wrong. I had two parents who loved me and my siblings, and they loved each other. We never had the fear that they would get a divorce. I never personally ever even heard them fight or argue. They were Christians, who raised us the best way they knew how...and taught us the importance of not only living by faith, but walking in it as well. They showed us that a relationship with Jesus was way more important than church membership or religion.

But it was hard for me to feel connected at school, any school, or at church. Or anywhere else for that matter...because I was ALWAYS the new kid, and, because of that, my stomach stayed tied up in knots.

My Mom made such an effort to make each place we lived feel like home. We had our same "things," you know...pictures, lamps, the couch...she just arranged them differently in each home. But, even with that, everything was always...different.

It was hard to have those really deep friendships that Sophie talks about in this book, because before you knew it...we'd be gone. Or our friends would be. As we got older, letting friends into those deep places that require trust, making memories that last forever...there just wasn't time for that. It took so much effort to open up...and then we were gone. This military life...not a lot of permanence.

I think that is why I tried so hard to create a sense of family and tradition and community for my own children. We lived in the same place for 15 years, raising our children in their early, formative years in the same small town. They were able to go to the same schools as the sibling before them, one right after the other. We went to the same church. We were finally able to develop deep and meaningful friendships, and we raised our children with friends who shared similar values. I never wanted to leave that place.

But, Jim was transferred, and we had to move just before Holly started college...and Logan started 10th grade. And 5 years later, Jim was transferred again, and we moved before Clark started 10th grade. I think they would say that both moves were hard...but good.

Hard, because I lost the network and the connections and the atmosphere of "home" that I had worked so hard to create. I lost the sense of comfort and community. I lost the "village" that I counted on to pick up my children when I couldn't; who sent their husbands to jump-off my car when it stalled in the middle of the street...on a school morning...when Jim was out-of-town; who cooked meals for us after we had babies...who prayed for us in the hard times...who cheered with us in the good times...who held us up and walked with us through the valleys of uncertainty after Clark was born...and who loved and accepted Joshua, and supported us as we raised him.

And, good, because the things that God taught Sophie...He taught me as well, just in a different way. I learned that, altho family and friends are wonderful and necessary, my first loyalty is to Jesus...and I should seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). Because I was always the "new kid," I learned to seek out the new kids...at school, church, work, etc. I tend to gravitate toward the ones who look like they feel a little left-out (Hebrews 13:2). I learned that when things around me are chaotic and uncertain, "He is my constant source of stability." (Isaiah 33:6) I learned that even if everything around me changes, God never will (James 1:17).

And I learned that wherever I go, God goes before me, preparing the way...and He goes with me, so that I am never alone.

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down the gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:2-3

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Road Trippin'

Took a little road trip with my family the other day. You learn a lot about people when you travel with them...when you're trapped in a vehicle for 10 hours.

Just sayin'.

You learn a lot about yourself, too.

Or maybe that's just me.

Growing up, I traveled a lot with my family...and since we've been married, we've traveled a lot with our kids. My sister has taken us on some really wonderful trips, too. All this to say, I know how to pack. I know how to leave things in my house. I know to turn the air/heat up or down. I know to stop the papers. I know to have our mail held. I know to clean out the frig, and to wash all of the dishes. I know to set timers on our lights, so that it looks like someone is home. These are things that I just do. I don't announce them...I don't talk about it, unless I need help.

Jim, on the other hand, tells me every.single.detail. of what needs to be done, and what he is going to do. Step-by-step. OH MY WORD. And, I feel bad, but when I'm trying to think about everything I need to get done, I can't even concentrate on what he is saying.

It wears me OUT!

I usually don't post anything about our travels until after the fact, and we always have someone checking on things at our house.

It took 10 hours to arrive at our destination. You'd think that with older kids...young adults...we wouldn't have to stop as much...and we didn't...FOR THEM. It's just that the patriarch of our group had to stop TWICE to tee-tee, not including when we stopped for lunch.

This is also known as: what we now have in common with toddlers.

What got us through the 10 hours without losing our cool? Faith...family...and the cupcakes Clark's girlfriend sent with us.

Oh. And peanut M&Ms. Lots of those.

We arrived at our condo in Orange Beach, and it's bee-utiful! We've never stayed in this particular complex before. We just needed 4 bedrooms, so we had to stay in a different place. It was perfect!

We typically don't stay in places as nice as this one. I found this place and it was offering a special Spring Break deal. Good thing, because we are not fancy people. We are more like get-a-one-bedroom-and-everyone-bring-blow-up-beds kind of people.

I looked at Jim and said, "I hope you know, I can't go back to that other place...I can't...I won't.

Of course, I was just kidding.

But it's been really nice that everyone has their own bedroom and bathroom.

Here's to Spring Break!

"All my fountains of joy are in You!" Psalm 87:7