It started as a daydream. The third-best shelling beaches in the world, within our country's borders.
It continued as an obsession. Time to myself. Beautiful pieces of nature to photograph.
It was put on the back burner, something I would do someday when a trip by myself or with girlfriends was a luxury but not a foolish extravagance.
It flashed across my mind in alarm as oil was spreading across the gulf. Would we run out of somedays?
Then I had an idea: why wait for someday? Why wait until I could go alone? I could go now, with the kids.
I had the idea on Thursday. I booked rooms (with some flexibility built in) on Sunday. On Monday, the kids and I set out on a grand adventure, not knowing how many days it would take us to get there, or whether we would all be screaming one or two or sixteen hours down the road, or how much fun or stress we would have, or when we would return.
All told, we took two days to get there, spent four nights on the island, and two days (ish) coming back. There were lots of expected and unexpected joys and relatively few lows. This starts a whole new chapter in family adventures, I suspect.
Some of this stuff is blogged under the "adventure" category on Spark (June 21-27 plus a "Surviving Spontaneity" series that followed it and is still waiting for completion). There's also a photo set on Flickr. Mostly it was the kind of amazing adventure that can't be described in words, and we all want to go back (with Dan this time) soon.
How to explain the behavior of oil in the ocean, brought to you by Target.
I think decorations like this in a fast food restaurant are supposed to fill patrons with assurance that they have made a wise nutritional decision, thereby assuring return visits. Instead, it fills me with skepticism, wondering why they have to surround me with "good for you" messages, suspicious that it's yet another deployment of psychological trickery in order to build business.
It was cute, though.
And these are getting ready for a big kindness adventure.
It's time for that great American tradition, the patriotic class performance! I wonder at what age we all learned these tunes? Here at Mary Munford, first grade is the time and the back porch is the place. Many American standards were featured, and a couple of newer tunes, too.
Griff is behind the pianist in the photo above. Look below. See, there he is, between Mia and Savannah!
The teachers sat right in front of their classes to cheer them on and remind them of lyrics. (You can see that there's a beach towel over the piano here, on the left: it has the names of all the states and I could see kids reading it during "50 Nifty United States".) Ms. Mallory is so sunshiny.
My friend Sophia (Savannah's mom) looking on.
The school calendar sets June 22 as the official last day of school, but teachers are clearly wrapping things up and this was the last real function of the year. Ms. Mallory was encouraging families to let her know when their child's last day would be - apparently some families were opting to make the 18th their last day, and she seemed to think this was a good idea, as all class parties and lessons and everything would be wrapped up by Friday. Griff and I conferred with her and agreed that his last day would also be Friday. So this is pretty much it for first grade. It has been a great year for Griff!
My one and only chaperoning gig this year...acting as one of the adults on the first grade trip to Maymont. I wasn't sure what to expect - would we be inspecting the animals, visiting the nature center? Picnicking on the hillside? The experience was most like a hike, keeping 25 kids (in Ms. Mallory's class...there were at least two other classes in the park, too) moving from Italian garden to Japanese garden, past the bears, through the wild birds, up the hill to the petting zoo, and right through to the trees on the other side, where we lunched and then hopped back on the buses.
Red Baby Dragon and Gold Baby Dragon supervised the making of breakfast.
Reese had requested pancakes, and pancakes he received.
He also chose morning present-opening instead of receiving gifts after dinner. Truly a kid after my own heart, who can postpone presents?
Anticipation...and it's a hit! This squeezy cow is the only item he requested for his birthday. I found one as similar as possible to the beloved book character. Reese was elated to receive it.
There were an assortment of other Reese-pleaser gifts. He's a big fan of small items that pack a big tactile punch - stretchy, wiggly, bendy, textured little toys.
The night before his birthday, he informed us that he knew what we should have for dinner and whom we should invite: the Bunnells and the Allen-Shorts. Reese, a homebody since birth, has never (in my memory) invited anybody over. He has never wanted a party until this year. Even thought it was only the day before and we knew people might not be able to come, we called right away. All the adults involved understood what a huge honor this was and everybody came over for dinner on the 14th. Reese had requested that we have NO cake, NO candles, and NO singing. So we had ice cream sundaes instead, made to order (how very Reese). It was, I have to say, one of the nicest birthday celebrations we've ever had.
Reese and I had started planning a party for his classmates, but hit some delays in actually picking a date and sending out invitations. After today, he and I agreed that really, this was enough party. It was the perfect way for him to celebrate, it felt very authentic to who he is. He and I decided to put away the pinata and favors in the attic for a future party.
Growing up is hard, hard work for Reese, and the last three years have been a steep climb for him, so it's amazing and wonderful to see him blooming into a social, confident, sunny five-year-old. He is such a zen master for our family, teaching us that all things happen in their own time, that seemingly insignificant things matter, and that excellence might look nothing like we had originally expected.