Monday, August 29, 2016

St. Simon’s Island 2016

Photo Aug 14, 8 26 32 AM

I still haven’t loaded all the vacation pictures from my camera onto our computer. The sorting through and editing is too daunting of a task to consider, but, for now, there is certainly no shortage of photos from my cell phone or from the few I pulled from my camera over to my phone (thanks to my camera’s handy wifi ability – bless its heart!). And, for those of you who don’t know about these sorts of things, from my phone I can easily share photos wherever I need. Of course, someday my kids will read this and think it is funny that I couldn’t just share them straight from my camera. Or, probably, straight from my mind via some small inserted brain chip.

Anyway, I once wrote about my secret for keeping up on blogging and journaling. The secret was simply this: I don’t stay caught up. (Shh. It is kind of a secret and I’m a little shy about it.) If I miss birthdays or holidays, trips or experiences, I just . . . move along and write about whatever suits my fancy from where I am at. I miss a lot of significant things that way, but . . . I also avoid getting so bogged down by everything I am inevitably behind on that I stop writing altogether. Which means . . . I still capture a “good enough” sprinkling of life around here.

At least that’s usually the way I function. But lately I find my blogging becoming more and more infrequent – partly because it really has been such a wild summer – but also because I can’t quite let go of things I know I want to record! My little secret has been failing me, and the list keeps adding up – making me feel frozen by it all!

So . . .  let’s at least get a brief bit of this huge and totally unexpected “three weeks in St. Simon’s” part of summer down. And then I will try to not worry about finding words for my dad until they come, and I’ll let school starting (in a bit of chaos – the very morning after Mike and the kids got back from GA), and flooded basements, and defrosted freezers, and summer birthdays just . . . drift happily off (though they are welcome to come floating back into my mind – asking to be written – at some later point if they care to enough).


Last week at this time part of our family was still traveling across the country – trying to get back home. And only the week before that? We were at the ocean (again) and Anders was being stung by a jellyfish. At least we assumed. Are there other . . . stinging creatures hanging about in the ocean? Other beachgoers seemed to think that was the culprit anyway. And, while it conjures up images of large, pink, blobby terrors swishing by – reaching out their terrifying tentacles (tentacles? is that what they have?) in stinging rage -- it probably wasn’t quite as impressive as all that. (We’d caught a few in our nets while crabbing: small, clear, pitiful looking things.) But, there was still a lot of screaming and apparent pain, and Anders waving his arm around wailing about being stung; as well as a fair amount of short-lived water paranoia from the other kids, and a lot of me googling things about the toxicity and danger of jellyfish around the St. Simon’s area, etc. And then, . . . Anders found a nice little hermit crab and became enough occupied with his friendship (and with gifting him the family of about twenty other hermit crabs discovered by Penny) that everything seemed to calm down and gravitate back to happy. (Aided by our stop on the way home at an over-priced little ice-cream shop to buy “Cookie Monster” ice-cream for everyone.)

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That little experience could be a metaphor for our whole trip. Ocean. Calm, low-tide water. Noticing the wonder of fish leaping out just feet from us. And then . . . a jellyfish sting. Oh OK. A poor and rather unnecessary metaphor. But, as I went about sharing lovely little highlight images from our vacation on Facebook and Instagram, they garnered a tidy pile of comments about bliss and magic and joy. And it did have all those moments!

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There were bikes in the shed at our vacation rental. We used them to ferry babies to the beach, and we took turns riding about the island. (One night I went on a long ride with just the two babies in the bike cart and had to repeatedly remind myself that my emotions surrounding coastal GA and it’s beauty were more of an intense crush really, and that I didn’t truly want to cast aside the steady, dependable, long-term love relationship I have with UT – it’s mountains and seasons and LIGHT air – in favor of a permanent move to this exotic and exciting new beauty). We waded in the low-tide waters – discovering hermit crabs and trying to catch tiny fish. We leapt over and into the big waves of high-tide. We wandered through all the little pier shops and spent many evenings walking out on the pier – seeing what interesting things people were catching. We even tossed our own crabbing nets over the pier’s side and watched the kids eagerly pull them up to exclaim over our finds. We walked along thickly wooded trails – trees all dripping with the Spanish moss that I love so much. We wandered about the historic Jekyll Island yacht club area; read tombstones at the old Christ Church cemetery; stopped by Horton house (where Mike and I took pictures of just the two of us eleven years ago); and made our way to Fort Frederica and other historical landmarks. We visited big waterslides; discovered hidden parks and chanced upon unexpected, magical, miniature villages.

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Goodness. The oldest three even got to go with Mike on a private shark and ray fishing expedition! They caught multiple sharks and rays (including a four-foot shark [good job Goldie]). They also trailed a shrimp boat surrounded by dolphins. By waving fish bait in the water with their hands, they got dolphins to come right up to their boat to stick their curious heads out. Another dolphin leapt out of the water so high and close that they were all doused with salt water.

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But the limitations and added work and difficulty of having many small children has maybe never been more apparent to me than during this summer of trips and detours from our daily routines and duties. Along with all the highs, I’ve probably cried and felt the lows more keenly than at any other time in this past year. And all those comments over our dreamy adventure occasionally caused me to fret that I was painting some false and enviable reality for my friends and family. One that only showed the highlights of days that were also filled with ordinary, tiresome tasks and frustrations and troubles. And, it’s true. That’s what these pictures were. And yet . . . even a week back at home and already they seem to be all that really mattered. The three-day drive, and times being limited all day in what I could do with the kids while Mike was at his work trainings, and frustrations over kids tantruming as we tried to have adventures, or babies crying or crawling into the ocean every time we went to the beach (when I would have so loved to just . . . sit for a moment) seem . . . insignificant. And, these pictures – these highlights – DO seem like the the whole truth. Like having been able to sift out the unimportant and trifling bits of dross so I could more clearly see beautiful reality.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Harris Family Reunion

I still have a proper post about my dad’s death just sitting inside of me. Scrambled and unwritten, but asking to be written. My own inner self I suppose – afraid of forgetting. Afraid of not ever fully processing or making sense of it all. And that is one of the things that has worried me – perhaps unnecessarily: that there has been no real time to truly sit and mourn and turn everything over in my mind until I’ve seen every angle, fully swum through each emotion and allowed the situation to become . . . learned from and properly understood. Instead I go about thinking all is fine and then weeping over various nonsense things. (One morning found me literally curled up in a ball – sobbing to Mike that I can never get out and run regularly. Haha. I like to think I’m too self aware for silly things like displaced emotions, but . . . I’m proving myself otherwise.)

At the same time, maybe coping and learning also occurs simply by . . . moving along through life’s demands and routines and joys; taking care of kids, folding piles of laundry, carrying on with adventures, trusting that the proper insights and growth will find ways to sneak into life’s demands. I don’t know this, really. I just hope.

In any case, as I mentioned in the last post, there has hardly been time for five minutes of thinking! For good or ill, life has been a whirlwind of activity since my dad’s passing.

First off was a reunion up at Bear Lake with Mike’s family.


This year was extra wild for me. Two babies needing naps and whose tantruming demands begged early bedtimes meant I snuck back to our own cabin fairly regularly so that Mike and my older kids could more easily be a part of cousin activities.


While I was a bit hyper-aware (particularly after just having announced another baby coming) of how frazzled we must have seemed; and while I would have truly loved having been able to more easily enjoy conversation and time with Mike’s siblings, their spouses and kids (I truly did get incredibly lucky in the in-law department! It hardly seems fair after already having come to such an amazing family of my own!); I was quite content to be at our own little cabin with things a little more quiet and calm there than they usually are.


And, particularly after having abandoned my little family throughout much of the month prior, it gave me great happiness to have them enjoying themselves so much. I liked Mike being able to stay late at the bigger lodge to visit with his siblings. I liked my kids getting to spend full days playing and laughing with cousins. And they had so much fun! Beyond the usual – good food, pool games (as in with pool table and pool balls), movies, talent shows, crafts, etc. – Mike rented a wave runner one day, and, another day, Mike’s older brother paid for a lot of the older cousins (Abe and Daisy included) to try some hydro-flight adventure where they got to be pulled behind a boat while having water shoot them up into the air from some magical boots they were wearing. They had the best time!


Lots of memories for all of us this summer!


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