The Best 50th Anniversary Ever!

Since 1999 my family has been meeting up every other year at the beach. We rent a house and let the cousins run wild while the grown ups get to spend some time catching up. It’s been an amazing tradition – my parents had four grandkids when we started, now they have seven. This year was special as it coincided with my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. 

We rented a big house since we can no longer count the kids as half-people. Four of my parents best friends came for the middle weekend of our two weeks. Two of my cousins and their families were there as well.  The kids had friends staying in town too.  We had an anniversary party.  It was supposed to be a beautiful party on the great big patio of the house but, of course, the only day it rained all night was that night. The college kids and cousins moved more furniture and accessories to make this thing work on the main floor of the house.

Mike grilled shrimp, salmon, steaks and chicken in the rain while wearing his statue of David apron. The “kids” made veggie shish kabobs for the grill. We had stacks of garlic bread. Lots and lots of wine. An amazing cake with some champagne. And then the “kids” tore it all down and we had a dance floor!  Ian made a playlist of late 50’s/early 60’s music.  There were hula hoops.  There were old photographs and lots of hugs and tears and laughter and more hugs. 

And, then Danny blew us all away.  Remember the girl that is a friend?  He proposed to her right in the middle of the party.  She said yes. More tears. More champagne. More hugs.  Christi is the girl I have been waiting for all of these years!  Her mom and dad and brother were there too.  Sue, Christi’s mom, and I joked about trying to make their early dating difficult.  We failed. Happily so.  I expect a wedding next summer – Christi is off to graduate school in Michigan and Danny has two semesters left in Tallahassee to finish his degree. 

There was so much more to this vacation, but these are the big highlights. What a lucky, wonderful family (and that includes all the guests!) we have.  I’ll have more later. 


I’m an idiot – every single season I’m surprised by allergies.  Every, single season I spend a full week thinking I’m getting sick as well as the boys.  And, then, suddenly, it dawns on all of us that it’s fall or spring and we’re not sick, we’re just missing our allergy drugs.  This week was such a week.  I should feel stupider than I do, but I don’t so there.
Thursday, we scooped up Bing and headed for the beach.  Ahhhhhh the beautiful, pollen-free beach. It’s still really hot here, but you can feel fall in the air.  For instance, the chilly 82 degree water.  (I kid.) The waves were huge and the current was really, really strong, but it was a perfect day at the beach.  

Ian and Tim have Thursday free of classes, so I imagine we’ll be heading to the beach on the next few Thursdays before the weather really changes.  We all love having the time with Bing!  I have her trapped in the front seat to listen to me for an hour there and an hour back.  Once we get to the beach, the boys get her trapped in the water and talk and talk and talk. In the end, we’re all happy.  And breathing.  And not sleepy!  Yay beach!

Woohoo – it’s Sunday tomorrow!!!!

I spent all day thinking it was Sunday.  Imagine my delight and surprise to find out it was only Saturday this evening!!!!!  I feel like it’s leap year or something.  
My mom, the cousins (Jamie, Mitchell and Jesse), Ian, Andy and I went to the beach on Thursday.  :::sigh:::: I miss the beach.  I’ve been so few times this year.  It was TEXAS hot, but the water was cool and wonderful.  I’m so glad I remembered to bring rash guard t-shirts for everyone.  We spent all day in the sun and no one had a sunburn.  Did I mention the awesome water?  No strong current.  Great boogie board-type waves and it was cool and refreshing!!!!!  We had a great day.  I’m ready to go back now.  Ian took this picture of my mom.  I love it. 
We started school for a week and stopped school for cousin-week. We start up again Monday.   I’m really trying to figure out some options for Andy.  I gave him some choices this evening and told him to think it over – he’s a thinker!  He’s on board to do flag football with Mike this fall.  I offered him musical theater, swimming or 4H or something he can come up with.  Cross your fingers, folks. My vote is for swimming – he’s built for it and I think he’d like it once he gets going.  But, I’ll go with whatever.  (If you have a car you’re not using, please send it our way lol.)

I’m afraid as I get older my already strong opinions are getting stronger.  Since late 2007, I’ve tried hard to be moderate and keep my opinions to myself for the most part. There’s nothing I’m going to say to anyone that is going to change their mind.  I figure if I respect their opinion it’s all good.  However, I think 10+ years of homeschooling has ruined me for polite society.  I hope I did not permanently piss off my neighbor this evening.  She was lamenting her 7th grader’s schedule and activities and the lack of hours in the day.  I kept asking “WHY” is he doing this or that?  How does it benefit him?  Does he enjoy it?  I dunno.  I’ve been through three middle school kids.  Middle school is there for a reason – they HAVE to learn certain things to move into high school work.  Beyond that, you want them to come out intact as human beings.  Middle school, in my opinion, is NOT the time or place to apply pressure. It’s 2-3 years a kid has to survive.  If college is the goal, they do NOT look at middle school.  EVER.  Just let them wallow in their hormones and figure out the new way to deal with your newly hormonal kid.  If you can get through the middle-school years, it’s not smooth sailing, but it’s much saner.  I just feel so sad for people who feel pressure to have their kids perform at the TOP in every grade.  What are your experiences with middle-school aged kids?

So very slow.

I dunno, lately things take forever . . . it’s me, not the world.  I guess without little kids and a serious schedule involving naps and bedtimes… Whatever it is, I just get slower and slower no matter what I’m doing.  

It’s kind of like “Ooooo LOOK!!!!!  A butterfly!!!!”  This is not a good place for someone who is used to being on schedule and following the plan.  I refuse to say how long it took me to pack up a lunch for tomorrow’s trip to the beach – for only FOUR of us.  It’s a delicious lunch, but still . . . 

Then, I meandered out to do some laundry, then I spent some time knitting, I did some dishes, cleaned the living room, nagged at Andy, you know, a regular night. I was waiting for Ian and Dan to come home. And they did. 

Once all of that was done a normal person would go to bed, but NO.  I HAD to paint my toenails.  Oh my.  I’ll be wearing sneakers on the drive to the beach.  If Mommy Dearest did her own toenails, they’d be on my feet. What a nightmare – yes, there is a thing as too much red.  Thank me for NOT taking a picture. Yikes.  And, of course, not a drop of polish remover in the house.  

Oh well . . . I’m going to the beach and sand is a wonderful cure all for everything.  


Looking in my “archives” and I’m realizing there are hardly any pictures from my olderish posts.  I don’t even know how to find the time to go about correcting that.  I think I’m likely the only one who cares, but still.  

This is just a drive-by post.  I found this bag at Goodwill yesterday.  My old, beloved beach bag died the other day.  This is my new ($3) bag.  It makes me smile. The boys are calling it my big ass beach bag.

Back again . . .

This week has flown by.  We’ve spent much of the week reconstructing Dan’s Navy ROTC scholarship stuff.  He had to track down his recommendation folks (no small feat) and work out the rest.  All of this up and down is exhausting for me.  Dan seems fine, but I’m too old for it.  And, once again we’ll wait and see.

What else?  Last Friday, Bing, Andy, Ian and I went to the beach.  Ahhhh . . . Pollen-free air is such a beautiful thing.  Ian and Andy swam most of the day.  Bing and I huddled on the blanket not talking, just snacking and reading.  Really, it was a perfect day.  Even dumb old tunafish sandwiches taste amazing when you’re at the beach for some reason.

The bigs are finishing up their semester.  I’ve been reading lots of papers and trying to edit, NOT rewrite (I went to college already, right?).  I’m so proud of all of them for how much their work and, more importantly, their ability to budget time has improved.  It’s kind of bittersweet not to be involved on a day-to-day basis any longer, but I’m happy to see that they can all think for themselves and that they’re willing to ask questions and to question the status quo when they don’t get it.  Andy is actually ahead of this year’s plan (not sure how that worked out) and I find myself looking to our yearly evaluation with my annual dread.  What if I didn’t do enough? What if he’s behind? What if blah, blah, blah . . .?  Really, though, what if?  What happens?  AND, what makes me extra-stupid is that I know what I have been doing works – the three older boys are proof.  But, nooooooo . . . Andy is going to be the exception.  (It’s okay, you don’t have to thwack me with your stoopid stick, I’m banging my head on the desk between letters as I type.)

Bing and I went to see the play Ian has been working on all semester, The Rimers of Eldritch.  Ian was the Assistant Stage Manager and he did everything from learning to set up a sound system, to learning to program lighting to holding a back-up pistol for the stage shotgun in case of failure.  He had a blast and learned a lot.  That said, the play was terrible.  The acting was surprisingly good, but the play itself?  Sucked.  Ian warned me but he has my tendency to (perhaps) exaggerate things.  He was NOT exaggerating.  Weird, weird, weird.  My neighbor’s mom and her senior group were sitting in front of us and she kept turning around to ask if I knew what was going on.  We all took comfort in the fact that none of us knew what was going on.  I was proud of the lighting and the sound and of Ian.  It was a great afternoon.

I’ve been painting and repainting like crazy.  The kitchen is finally done.  It’s bright and happy.  I hate that I cannot find my own camera – trying to get the kids to take pictures is like pulling teeth.  I’ll figure it out, though.  My favorite kitchen quote?  “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”  If you’re not a Godfather fan, don’t worry about it.

The garden is beautiful, but I want ripe tomatoes NOWWWW (in my best Violet Beauregarde voice)  . . . Again, the lack of camera is disappointing right now.

Hope all is well in your worlds.  Hope to have some more pictures over the weekend.  I’m off to start painting the living room.  Wall quotes still needed if you come across anything.

It’s not always sharks . . .

The boys, Bing and I went to the beach today.  We’ve all been struggling getting back into our routines and school and today was just beautiful and no one had to be anywhere and we’re spoiled and lucky to live so close to the beach, so we packed a lunch and went.  

We went to our regular Beach #1 at the Canaveral National Seashore. Since school is now in session throughout Florida and most vacationers are gone, we had the beach to ourselves for the first couple of hours.  Early in the afternoon, an older couple marched down the boardwalk and headed up the beach with their chairs and books and cooler.  We all nodded hello and didn’t think much else about them.  They were about 100 yards away from us and upped the total of beachgoers to a whopping 7 (5 of us, 2 of them).

Bing and I were happily ignoring each other, reading our books and snacking.  The boys were out in the water playing some kind of football game that involved using Andy as the actual football.  It was only when the boys came up to eat “second lunch” that we noticed.  Well, Bing and I didn’t notice, but the boys are young, weren’t reading and have way better eyes and they noticed.  Noticed what, you ask?  

Well, they noticed that the lovely older couple we’d only recently nodded to as they joined us on the beach was romping butt nekkid in the surf.  I didn’t believe the boys at first.  Neither did Bing.  It was only when they found the camera and used the zoom that Bing and I accepted that, for once, they were not exaggerating.  See?  I’m sharing the picture here for you to enjoy as well.  

I dunno.  The boys were kind of freaked out about the whole thing. It made me smile. Good for that couple!  They weren’t bothering anyone.  They weren’t close to us and it wasn’t like they were running around playing volleyball or doing yoga or something.  I just hope they had good sunscreen.

And, I would much rather be a football field away from nekkid old folks than a great big shark any day.  

And again . . .

For the past 10+ years, my family, my parents, my brother and my sister and her family have been getting together every two years and staying at a house on the beach for a week or two.  This is one of the ON years.  We leave next Sunday for two glorious weeks. Fourteen of us basking and surfing and eating and reading and laughing.  I can barely stand the wait!!!!

This is the first year we haven’t been able to pass any of the kids off as 1/2 people.  We ended up renting a HUGE house.  (I promise lots of pictures.)  I was worried about Scout, though.  Mike, my brother and my dad will split duties at the warehouse so someone was available to watch her during our visit, but she’s so old and weird.  

I emailed the house owner with details about Scout and in a final fling for mercy, I included her cone-of-shame pictures.  Though the owners normally only allow dogs up to 18 lbs, they caved and Scout will be joining us for vacation.  Cross your fingers the ocean doesn’t totally freak her out.  

As I’ve been making lists and putting together supplies and more lists, I started thinking back on the first beach vacation we took as an extended family.  I remember loading Ian and Tim into the car to pick Danny up from kindergarten.  It was a big deal that I drove through and got them Happy Meals before heading to the beach (Mike was working and drove out to the beach after his shift at Chili’s was over around midnight).  I was grumpy and tired and out of sorts.  

We arrived to find my parents and my sister, her husband and their cherubic baby boy in a totally white penthouse overlooking the beach.  I immediately banished my 5,5, and 6 year olds to the balcony outside with strict instructions to touch NOTHING.  NOT ONE THING for the whole week.  I was really grumpy.  

We had so much fun.  Most of our time was spent outside and it was easy enough to dip all the kids in the pool before heading upstairs to our white “palace.”  Jamie, my cherubic nephew, enjoyed sitting in a bucket full of water while the older boys ran back and forth entertaining him.  

About two weeks after we got home from the beach, it occurred to me, I might be pregnant and sure enough . . . that would explain the grumpiness.  I’m pretty sure that was the summer my brother perfected his margarita recipe.  We’re all thankful that Andy did not come out as a pickle.  

Anyway, we’re doing it again this year.  This year Danny turns 18.  It could possibly be his last vacation as a “kid” with the whole gang.  Ian and Tim aren’t far behind.  Bittersweet.  Jamie is now 12 and no longer fits in a bucket.  He has a brother and sister who are also too big for buckets.  Should be an interesting vacation.

Happy Monday!

Or not.  Me?  Mondays are kind of eh … even though they’re much the same as the rest of my week.  Maybe a leftover feeling from school and working?  Who knows . . .

Still, Monday aside, we had a fun weekend.  On Saturday we went to the beach.  Mike, the early riser, wanted to head out at 7 am.  I get why he wants to do this, but the fact of the matter is that, as a family, we are all the color of paste.  I don’t care what or how much sunscreen you have, I don’t care how many umbrellas you have, I don’t care about any of that . . . if you are the color of paste to start with you cannot compete with summer sun in Florida.  

After much discussion we agreed to leave the house at 1 pm.  We packed up a couple of loaves of bread, cheese, pepperoni, drinks and some peaches and watermelon and headed to the coast.  It was kind of weird because we left Dan at home, he had to work at 4.  Our family is slowly fragmenting . . . :::sniff:::

We arrived around 2 pm and saw all the horribly sunburnt people leaving.  Mike, Tim, Ian and Andy hit the water (surprisingly cold) immediately.  I jumped into the water to cool off but headed right back to the blanket and my book and the food.  It was an easy and perfect day.  

Once I looked up (with my contacts, no less! Oh, how I love being able to see on the beach!) to see Mike and the boys all catch a giant wave at the exact same time.  Because I’m weird, I started to laugh.  It looked to me at that moment like David Hasselhoff’s interpretation of Bonanza as the four of them bounced along the top of that wave.  

(Of course, I made the mistake of mentioning this on the way home and it was a bitter fight over who had to be Hoss.  Gah!  Curse Mike and his wicked antique television shows that turned my boys against each other.)

We’re all home and fine now.  I think.  No sunburns.  No decision on who was Hoss in my fleeting funny moment.  I think Dan is still a little ticked off that we didn’t all stay home while he worked – to do what, I’m not sure, but . . .