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This years trip to the beach was the best yet, except for the fact that we thought it would be a good idea to bring our dog with us. Ha! Other than the dog, the wildcard this year was of course, the two-year-old. On last years trip, he was completely obsessed with the water. As in, constantly crawling into the waves and laughing while getting hit in the face with salt water. He was fearless. It was really fun to watch but also a little exhausting.
Knowing that he has developed a healthy fear of things over the past year, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The afternoon we arrived at the beach, a summer storm had just blown through and it was dreamy out. Slight cloud cover, dark clouds in the distance, cool air. Just dreamy. We took the kids down to the beach, fully clothed, for a bit just to get our fix in before hitting the beach first thing in the morning. The big kids were so excited. They love the beach love that we have a tradition of visiting the same place every year.
We unloaded from the car, put the baby in the sand, and all eyes were on him. What was he going to do??? He was very curious at first. He loved the sand and didn’t seem interested in exploring. He didn’t seem to notice the water at all. Finally, bored with his lack of reaction, the big kids ran toward the water and began to play and look for seashells. The baby looked on as they got closer and closer to the water. He followed. All the way to the waters edge. And then he wasn’t so sure.
You get the picture. He spent the next few days in love with the sand and unsure of the water. It really was kinda nice for my mama heart. I didn’t have to constantly worry about him running into the ocean and drowning. We were able to coax him into the water from time to time to cool off but he wasn’t thrilled with it. And someone had to be holding him. And he would only go into the most shallow area where water was barely touching him.
Until the last 30 minutes on the last day of our trip. And then, all of a sudden, it clicked. And he was walking into the water and sitting in it, playing so peacefully. You better believe I grabbed my camera so fast because it was a moment that I had been waiting for!
What about the big kids? Of course, they had a blast. Fighting was kept to a minimum. They played together nicely. And did well staying up late. My oldest spent a lot of time at the beach with her camera in hand. She is falling more and more in love with the art and I am hoping to get her a nice camera someday soon. It melts my heart that she loves something as much as I do. My middle spent a huge chunk of time looking for seashells. He loves science and nature and looking for shells really feeds that part of his soul. Plus it is a peaceful activity that I think he seeks out sometimes to get a little space from the chaos. I have always loved walking the beach to look for shells so this was a great thing for us to do together every day.
We stayed in a townhouse (thank you VRBO) that has a community pool. This was SUCH a great asset during the middle of the day when it is just too hot to be at the beach with little people. And bonus that the pool was literally right out our front door. Everyday our routine was basically the same, wake up early (because my children have yet to embrace “sleeping in”. ever. especially not on vacation) We would pack the cooler and head to the beach by 8am or so except for the one morning we were there at sunrise having donuts on the beach. Which was amazing. After about 2-3 hours on the beach we would pack up and head back to the condo for a mid-morning break. Kids would rest and watch cartoons while the adults fixed lunch. After lunch the baby would nap (in a closet. for real) and daddy would take the bigs swimming. When the baby woke up, we would meet them at the pool. After a couple hours of swimming we all came in to shower and get dressed. Every night we went out to dinner followed by a sunset walk on the beach. Every day looked the same but they were all a little different and so much fun.
We normally take our annual trip later in the summer but this year we went as soon as school got out. It was an awesome way to kick off summer break but now we are left feeling a little sad that the annual beach trip is already over. I am trying to work on my husband and see if I can sneak in a beach weekend later this fall:)
We have been doing this trip for several years now and there are a few things that I absolutely cannot live without at the beach. I thought I would share them in case anyone needed some suggestions. Without further delay, the things that I am loving right for the beach right now are:
Pacific Breeze Pop Up Tent: Y’all we have had a lot of beach tents over the years. This one is life changing. It opens and closes in seconds. SECONDS. There are no weird poles to work with and you don’t have to twist it in a weird way to get it to fold. You pull a cord. Simple as that. Pull a cord to open it. Pull a cord to fold it. It is glorious. Just ask my husband:)
Stansport Beach Chair: We love these chairs. They fold up small and are easy for both adults and kids to use.
Puddle Jumper: This quite literally saved us. Of course, we constantly keep an eye on our children but with three of them it gets a little crazy at times. We kept this on the baby and it gave us a little extra peace of mind. No, it won’t save your child’s life nor does it give you a free pass to let them out on their own. But it adds a little extra protection and that is always nice.
Dicapac: Wonder how I get DSLR big camera photos in the water? This bad boy is how. It doesn’t seem like much but it is amazing. I have had it for a couple years and have used it in the pool too and I love it.
Go Pro Hero: I have told so many people this but if you have never had a GoPro, they are a blast. Especially at the beach. I suggest renting one before committing to buying but they are a blast. I know they are typically used for video but I actually really love them for still photography in the water too. If you are interested in renting first, I love renting from BorrowLenses.com (this link gets you a code for $20 off your first rental!)
As a bonus, don’t forget to bring a good book. Of course, if you are going with kids you probably won’t get any time alone to read until after they are in bed but one can dream, right? I just finished this book and it is phenomenal. The Nightingale If you need a good beach read (or anywhere read for that matter), this is it.
Now, for the pictures. There are a ton. So sorry. Ok, not really:)
Ever look at pictures from a vacation and think, “I really wish we had a photographer here with us to capture the fun?”… Just a reminder that I do that! Shoot me an email with where you are going and when and I would love to tag along for a day to capture your family and all the magic and chaos that is travel with kids.
I spent Saturday sitting sitting in my grandmother’s living room listening to it thunderstorm outside. While her space has been her home for the past 14 years, it is the third home of hers that I remember. In fact, growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I even lived with them for a period of time when I was a toddler.
My grandfather has been gone for 24 years now and in those years, my grandmother has continued to be a constant support and companion for me. She and I have traveled the world together. We have shared countless stories, giggles and glasses of wine. She has taught me more than any other person on this planet.
Out of all of my fondest memories from my life so far, Mimi has been apart of almost all of them. She encouraged me in everything, helped me choose and helped finance my college education. She passed on her wanderlust heart to me teaching me about the beauty of travel- no matter how big or small the trip. She helped me plan my wedding, decorate my first home and all three of my nursery’s. I have spent every Christmas of my life, except one, with Mimi. She is my person.
4.5 years ago, Mimi was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I remember that phone call and how terrified I was. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that, “this was it”. And thinking that I hadn’t had enough time with her. All while knowing that I had been blessed by the life and relationship I did have with her and trying not to look past the importance of that. Nor the importance of the completely amazing life that she has lived.
She made it 4 years without much of a blip. Several rounds of radiation have eased pain and slowed tumor growth. The years of medication and treatments and hospital visits and appointments have made her weary. Despite those things, she was still doing quite well to the outsider. She still drives. She still plays bridge. She still travels a tad and lives independently. These are all remarkable for an 86 year-old woman who has been battling stage 4 cancer for so long.
Then 2017 came along. Her scans at the beginning of the year showed new growths and new problems. Things seemed to be progressing. Two rounds of radiation earlier this year left her more tired than ever. A followup visit post radiation showed a new cancer that is incurable. Her doctors have finally given her the designation of “terminal”.
Those words have hit hard. We don’t have a timeline yet but we know this is it. Mimi is trying chemotherapy currently. She has been adamant from the beginning that she will only undergo chemotherapy treatment as long as she does not become sick. She hates vomiting. She flat out told her doctor that the first time she vomits from treatment she would be done with it. She doesn’t want to live out the remainder of her life that way. It was too painful of a memory to watch my grandfather go in that way and she refuses to let us see her end of life look the same.
So far, she is 6 weeks into treatment and doing pretty well. The anti nausea medication that they are giving her at treatment seems to be working. She has lost her hair, which doesn’t bother her. She still has an appetite, which is wonderful. The worst part right now is how tired she is. If you know Mimi, you know that she does not like to slow down. She still has her wits about her but has had a hard time allowing herself to rest.
Right now we are in unknown territory. Her doctors are not ready to give her a timeline yet. But they also know that chemotherapy at her age may not be a long term plan. She and I are making big decisions about hospice care, funeral arrangements, decisions on who takes what art pieces, and family heirlooms and such. Overall, she is in good spirits. When she told me that her diagnosis had been changed to terminal, she said that in a weird way she was relieved. It has been a long few years with a lot of back-and-forth and what-ifs. This is a concrete answer. This is definitive and real. I understand her relief.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I putting this out there for the world to read? I don’t know really. I wanted a place to write down my thoughts. And, this is “my” space. I wanted a place to put it out into the world that she could use your prayers and good thoughts. I wanted to let it be known that this throws another added “challenge” into my schedule. I will be traveling to Houston as much as I can, indefinitely. Currently that looks like once a month-ish. As things progress it may be more than that. I am 100% confident that my clients will be supportive and understanding about that.
So, there it is. Where I am and what I am doing currently. This is where my heart and mind are currently. I may, or may not, write more about this later. I may, or may not, document Mimi in pictures through this process. I don’t know yet. What I am certain of is that my family would appreciate the prayers and support that you can offer us.
I haven’t blogged in forever. I know, I say that a lot. And I do vow to get better. In fact, I finally hired a new assistant to help me take over administrative tasks so that I can spend more time on the blog and other fun projects that are always neglected. But, more on that later:)
I have had something on my heart for a while and just wanted to put it out there. This applies to us in so many ways- whether you are a business women, a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, a photographer, a blogger or a newlywed. This applies to you wherever you are, so listen up:)
Stop looking around at what everyone else is doing and just keep doing your thing. Comparison is the worst enemy and he has crept into every facet of everything we do. I know I am absolutely guilty of this so I am speaking to myself as much as I am to you, mama.
I was having my (almost) daily quiet time yesterday and there was a quote on comparison that really stood out to me and I just knew I had to share it.
“We live in an increasingly competitive culture, so comparisons come easily and seemed to be encouraged. Our sin tempts us to take our eyes off of Jesus and look at those around us. We compare our mothering, our kids, our homes, the books we read, our spiritual journey, and a host of checklists we create. Peel back the mask, and what you will often find is that the true face of comparison is either a heart of fear or a heart of pride. Maybe even both. ” From Pressing Pause by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schlenk.
Y’all. That is good stuff. And it stings a bit doesn’t it? I know it stopped me in my tracks. And I can totally see how my comparisons are a heart of fear AND a heart of pride. I am definitely in that “both” category. That being said, I know when I am doing it. And I have gotten so much better about stopping myself. Sure, it takes discipline to hop off facebook/pinterest/instagram/insert-your-guilty-pleasure-here but it is worth it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
So, here is the deal. Why are we comparing ourselves to one another so much? I mean, besides the amazing perspective from Pressing Pause… We do it because it is everywhere and it is SO HARD to look away. It is hard to peel our eyes off that stunning momma who always looks put together and in control. It is hard to stop staring at image after image in a super talented artists social media feed. It is darn near impossible not to compare Jane Smith’s amazing month-long vacation with her husband with your own one-night staycation.
Social media and the internet are AMAZING. I love them. I really do. After all, it is largely in thanks to them that I have a thriving business and get to keep up with so many friends and family members around the world. Google is the greatest and I spend some time on Amazon almost daily. Our lives really do rely on this stuff these days. But it doesn’t mean we can’t try to minimize all the comparing that is going on.
We waste so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others. Let’s put all the wasted time and energy we use feeling down on ourselves to good use. Imagine if you could save just half of it to use on reading a book, going for a run, meeting a friend for lunch or playing a game with your kids. Those are all much more positive uses of our time. And honestly, they all feed your soul. In a positive way. Instead of the negative time suck that comparison has on us.
Am I suggesting that you shut down your Facebook account and pull back from all things social media? Um, no. I certainly won’t be. What I am suggesting is dial it down a notch. Unfollow friends or business that leave you with negative feelings all the time. Maybe take the apps off your phone so that they aren’t “always” available. Set up 1-2 times a day that you are “allowed” to look online and then steer clear the rest of the day.
I know how comparison makes me feel. And I don’t like it. At the beginning of this year I vowed to change it. I took Facebook off my phone and I stay off Instagram except for a couple set times a day. I also unfollowed a LOT of people. Not because I don’t admire them in one way or another, but because I just couldn’t keep beating myself up over what they had/did/saw that I didn’t. Not only has this saved me HOURS of time that I now use to do other stuff, it has also saved me a lot of grief.
In the end, I am me. There is no other me. I am a unique combination of things that no one else is. There is no other person on this planet that blends mom-photographer-wife-tea lover- tcu alum-jesus follower-type A- loves to travel- comes from divorced parents- etc etc etc etc like I do. EVERYTHING about me, makes me unique. So, why the heck do I constantly compare myself to others to see how I am measuring up when they aren’t me. It doesn’t make sense really. It is quite literally comparing apples to oranges. You have your story and I have mine. Both are right and special and wonderful no matter how different they are.
So, my friends, if you are still reading this, please stop getting down on yourself. Stop looking around. Stop the comparisons. You are on a journey. I am on a journey. We can coexist. We should coexist. I am going to continue marching along on my own path and I hope that you will do the same. Comparison only hurts us. So, let’s try to do less comparing and more connecting.
Much love friends.