Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lazy Summer Days and Family Summer Nights

FINALLY!!! You may think that since I get summers "off," my days are all lazy, but let me assure you that I'm working hard being a good mother to create summer memories for Anna Cate and Molly and keep up with the house. But now I'm home getting help with those memories in my mother's home, so we are now enjoying the "lazy" days of summer.  Technically, this is my parents' home, but my father couldn't tell you the color of one single room in the house and is about as domestic as a feral lion, so really this is my mother's home.  Last evening, I sat at my mother's island at 10:00 and watched Anna Cate and Mom shuck corn for dinner tonight and listened to Anna Cate sing her songs from Vacation Bible Songs, and I thought, "this is summer."

The girls and I came to Tennessee Sunday for our annual two week summer getaway to Centerville, and I always have mixed feelings about coming here for so long. I don't like to leave our home, our summer routine, our fun friends, our yielding garden, and of course, we miss Daddy!

We skyped with him and Molly Mae fussed so hard that she couldn't reach out for Bj to hold her. We are having such a nice summer at home in Virginia.

Last Saturday we enjoyed a family ice cream date to Carl's.

And on the way there we passed Baba on the road and were so happy she could join us.

We participated in our church's Vacation Bible School. I helped out with story time, so there was child care for Molly. Anna Cate participated and enjoyed it all, and even learned some life lessons outside of the Bible.  There were so many 5 year olds that there were two classes, and she was separated from her best friends. While I was weak in my heart and head about wanting her to change to be with her pals, she adjusted and I was proud that she made new friends.  I admit that I was a tad envious of the Moms who dropped their children off and then left for the gym, a break, time to get things done, or get coffee with friends, but I always have so much fun with the adults and the children in our church, and feel so lucky to be involved with such a wonderful church family. We are rewarded by both our time with such lovely people and the ways we work together to enrich the spiritual lives of my daughters. So I learned some lessons, too.

After the send off of VBS on Friday, Anna Cate went to North Carolina with Patti (to see Harry Potter). Our dear, kind, beautiful Patti turns 50 today!!! I can not imagine our life right now without her; she so intricately is woven into the fabric of our experience as family in Fredericksburg.  In talking about her, my Dad says, "she completely incarnates the idea Christian love." Indeed, she does and is. We love her so much.

 Molly was with a babysitter and I headed to DC to visit with my dear friend Dorinda who treated me to an amazing dinner and date to see WICKED. Have you seen it? I am in love with the story and the music and can't wait to find a time to see it again, even if it is just on a video. It was so good to connect with Dorinda in her fabulous life in the heart of such a powerful city.  Her beauty and grace exudes in her home and in the style, yet her spirit is the same as the Hickman County girl we both are.  I love discussing life, home,past, present and future with her.

So we have a good life at home in Virginia, but as soon as I get here, I know that this is where we should be for an extended time too.  We had a family friend, Yvette, visit with her girls for a few days.

We skype often, but it was so fun to get our girls together in person. In fact, Anna Cate said what she looked forward to most about our trip was meeting Aunt Yvette in person.

Daddy became friends with Yvette when she was a freshman at Lane College.

She said that her daughter Peighton gets to go to summer camp to experience the country to which I replied that this is my children's summer camp experience.
And, we get to see family.

My neice, Kitty, is 13 months old and is a sweet, happy and affectionate baby. Although, I guess 13 months is not a baby, but I don't want to think about that since I still think Molly Mae at 16 months is a baby.

Last night at dinner, Anna Cate proclaimed, "we have to catch lighting bugs tonight."

After it got too dark and they were no longer lighting the air for us to be able to catch them, Mom explained to Anna Cate that the males only shine their light to attract females, and after it gets too dark they assume no one is interested so they quit. She said, "but we are interested."

We are interested and happy and content here in Centerville, Tn, and glad we came.  I like the lazy days, the swimming with friends, and the familar faces.

But most of all we come for this:

Relationship. Daddy Doug gives Molly her milk and cuddles her to sleep every night and she rushes to hug his legs every time she sees him.

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.      ~Wallace Stevens

Thursday, July 14, 2011

She did it!

Tonight was Anna Cate's third swim meet of the season, of her lifetime.  For the past two meets, she has stopped to hang on the lane line, waved at the crowd, lolligagged around, not swimming her best. But tonight...well there was victory. When it was her heat's turn, after the gun rang, she looked around at her coach after the other girls jumped in to make sure she could go, so she started out a bit behind.

I watched her swim, stroke, stroke stroke several times before she took a breath, and then as I held my breath, hoping she would get to the finish line without holding on to the rope.  It was a shorter pool size, but the point is that she go to the end all by herself (much farther than she'd swam before in previous meets before taking a break on the rope).IMG_4843-1.jpg
We were so proud. She did her best and she won her heat, coming from behind, shaving over a minute off of last meet's time.  I didn't even notice until several minutes afterwards that she wont the heat; I was just so happy she didn't hold onto the rope. I guess I thought every one got a ribbon at this meet.  In addition to being oblivious to details, I am so NOT competitive. 

She won! We have the ribbon to prove it, and  I'm quite certain we'll have the memory, too. We shared it with Patti, Sarah and Greg.

(Sarah, on the right, will be my sister-in-law as Greg proposed on Sunday. We're so happy. I'm blessed with two dear sister-in-laws now)

I really believe it is not all about winning to beat another person, but winning is about doing your best.

On the way home from the meet, I asked Anna Cate if she wanted to touch the rope or what she was thinking.  She said, "I wanted to hold on but I kept hearing Coach Steven  say, 'you can do it' so I told myself 'I can do it.'" I grabbed her hand and said, I'm so proud of you. She said, "Did I make your night?" I know it is a small victory and I didn't even notice the real "win," but yes it made my night. Her little victory reassures my inkling that there are bigger victories for her to come because she tells herself she can.

"Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more."
-- Louis L'Amour

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Beach & Life: Sands and Waves

I want this blog to be a place where I can share now with my family or in the future with my kids (in the form of a digital scrapbook) what is going on in our lives.  But also, I'm finding as I discover the connections I've made through dealing with my thoughts on life as I process them through written word, I've realized that selfishly, I want the blog to be more.  I want what I have to say or share to be more meaningful than a checklist of our activities, like the  report to Molly and Doug or what the scrapbook will be for my daughters later in their lives. Hearing from readers that what I've admitted or dealt with is relevant to others stimulates me, but alas, there are times when this really is just a blog about our little life.  I'm thinking this report of our family vacation is one of those times.  I do have some philosophical pondering with Anna Cate on a walk home from the beach, but for the most part this is a boring ole post about a typical family vacation. While the scenes I snapped in my camera or the memories we made are endearing to me, I know that they aren't that unique, yet it is our tale to tell, our pages in this scrapbook to enter.

So here it is: King family vacation 2011.

Our young family already knows we love the beach, as we had a fabulous quick trip last year to Chincoteague Island. So in February of this year when the youth of our church held a fundraiser for a summer camp/ mission trip to Malawi in Africa in the form of a Chili Cook off with the #1 prize a week's stay at a beach home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we took the contest seriously. The home was generously donated by friends in our church, and with BJ's recipe using his Big Green Egg, a cute little girl in an apron and some padding of the pot on our part, we won.

Anna Cate wanted her Nana and Daddy Doug to come, too, and while Daddy couldn't make it, Mom did and it was everything we could have dreamed of in a family vacation.

We went to the beach every day but one, and this mama is so proud that neither of the girls even got the slightest bit pink. Anna Cate's bravery and joy for the water was delightful. 
She swam with the waves as BJ helped her "ride them."

The day after we didn't go, we were walking out the door to go to the beach and we heard thunder so after explaining we couldn't go in the rain, Anna Cate said, "I'm having deja vu. We didn't go to the beach yesterday!" She loves making me laugh almost as much as she loves the beach.

My mom hates the water since as a child she nearly drown in a river, but that fear lost out to the joy of these little girls in the crashing waves.

Or walking in the sand.
We spent part of the July 4th holiday with friends for beaching it in the morning.

Jessica and I taught one year together at high school (and both hated it) and while I don't see her as much as I'd like, she is just one of those special friends whose spirit is kindred. She got me into mountain biking, read Shakespeare at my wedding and taught me how to press dried flowers. Her confident, adventurous, sweet presence allures me.

"I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends." 

- William Shakespeare

We enjoyed the fireworks show that evening.

It makes me smile to see our kids play together.

As a family, we enjoyed a lot of hanging out.

I loved having time with the girls with extra help from BJ and Mom. The girls liked having them around, too.

Seeing this relationship develop is thrilling...and exhausting.  The little baby who got water poured on her face at four weeks old or dumped out of a swing at 2 months old or slung around for the past year is coming back at her big sissy with full force.  As I'm sitting her typing the situation, I think it is kind of funny to know Molly Mae can hang.

We made a family deal that we would have ice cream every day.

Ice cream at the beach makes everyone happy (except me after I got on the scale when we got home).

Anna Cate and her Nana made a deal that they would have the same kind every day.

These two are buddies. When Anna Cate was hot in this coverup as she stripped it she said, "I'm having a hot flash." They slept together, which is generous of Mom since Anna Cate is gifted in taking up the most possible amount of room in a bed. I know those of you with children understand this.

We stayed in most nights and enjoyed fabulous meals prepared by BJ or Mom, preluded by BJ's fruity cocktails. We enjoyed a shrimp boil, steamed crab, grilled steak and salmon, shrimp cocktail, shrimp and grits and that is what I can remember. 

If you love to grill, try grilled romaine lettuce as a fabulous side. It is not only cheap but delicious!!!!  You just cut apart the lettuce in halves and put some olive oil and salt and pepper on it.  Lay it on the grill until the edges are crispy; top it with Parmesan cheese. DELICIOUS!!! And speaking of food, BJ and I had a lunch date and afternoon to ourselves, where I had the best salad EVER (and you know I'm a salad girl so I've eaten a lot of them). 

The tuna was marinated in this sesame ginger sauce and topped with peanuts and green onions. The arugula salad had grilled peppers and portabella mushrooms and mango and pineapple. The dressing was sesame and gingery.  AMAZING!  Ok, back to our date.  

We went out for lunch since BJ goes to bed very early and my idea of splitting a bottle of wine on the sandy beach by moonlight doesn't interest him.  But lunch at a bar and watching the ships roll in does. 

My dear friend Allahna drove down for the evening.  We went to college together and she was the matron of honor in our wedding; the last time she and I were in the Outer Banks together was the spring that BJ and I were engaged, and Susie was with us. She is as beautiful and calming as ever, and Anna Cate adores her. Molly does, too.

We visited the Sand Dunes.

The motto at this state park about the wonders of nature is "Always Changing....Always Beautiful."

"A faithful friend is the medicine of life."
~ Apocrypha

 All of us, even Mom, trudged the steep side of one

 to reach the prize of a fabulous view.

BJ was not posing, but I loved getting this picture of him. 

He looks good!!!  So wine by moonlight isn't his thing and we drive each other crazy but we make a fantastic team, but more importantly, I love him and I know that there really is no one better suited for me.  Having a full week to spend with him reminds me how glad I am he is my partner, even though I wish he would relax and he wishes I would hurry the hell up!  

We went out for breakfast Stack Em' High, which had quotes galore written on the walls.  

The quote at our table was, "Hell hath no fury like that of a lawyer of a woman scorned."  This gave me a big chuckle: "When at first you don't succeed, try again. Then, Quit. No use making a damn fool of yourself" Or: " To be is to do" - Socrates; "To do is to be" - Sarte "To be or not to be" - Shakespeare "Do Be Do Be Do" - Sinatra. 

One evening BJ and Anna Cate went fishing. They and the birds were fishing.

The beach is so beautiful at sunset.

(notice how Molly is reaching down my shirt in the last photo as if to say, I think these were of use to me once. I weaned her a few weeks ago and while I miss it at times, I know it was time for us to quit)

We tried to go back the next evening for a family portrait, but it didn't work out as perfectly as I had hoped.  

We couldn't get a smile on everyone at the same time.

And I thought this dress was much more flattering on me than it seems here.

Or a wardrobe malfunction in the form of misplaced head bands. 

And then, there is always Molly's squirmy self.

(or Anna Cate's panties showing)
The lighting was off and I was frustrated by my not putting the camera on the correct setting. But after I calmed down my frustration, I now enjoy the pictures we did capture. I guess all the takes do not need to be perfect for some to be great. 

This is us....not perfectly flattering, or all smiles at the same time, but it is our family at the is good.

And these girls, like a family vacation, take a lot of work and energy and time and money (when you don't win it). But they take my breath away, too.

On the walks home from the beach, Anna Cate absolutely hated the way the sand felt between her feet and the flip flops. She would run back to the foot shower and try to get every speck of sand off a few times before she would give up and beg me to carry her because she said she hated the way the sand stung.  So it provided the analogy of explaining that to get the beauty and fun of the ocean you have to deal with the sand. To distract her, we played an idea game: What are the sands of life? What are the waves?

Some of mine are 
Sands: I don't like working and would rather be a stay-at-home mommy; Ocean: my children get to spend their days with Miss Diana whose guidance and love never cease to amaze me.
Sands: Getting up in the morning Ocean: my health when I do wake up
Sands: when my kids whine Ocean: how fun they are to be around when they aren't whining

Anna Cate's
Sands: I wish we lived with Nana Ocean: We have skype.
Sands: When I don't listen Ocean: When I'm a good girl
Sands: I don't get to see you during the day Ocean: I get to be with my friends at Miss Diana's and go to Kindergarten

Ok, so she didn't totally get it and even sort of copied mine, but hopefully she learned a little life lesson along with distraction from the "sting of the sand."  The main point is that the ocean is worth it. 

And sometimes, even the sand can be fun.
“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”
--Robert Henri