Weekend Shenanigans/Life Lessons

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It was a big weekend for Emil! On Saturday, while Andrew took Oliver and Milo to a flying trapeze class, Emil and I decided to walk to the playground. Only, halfway there, we both agreed that it was far too hot for the park. Emil turned to me and, out of the blue, said, “I’m going to go off the diving board today. Let’s go to the pool!”

I was skeptical; he had never set foot on the diving board and has just recently proven ready for the deep end. But it gave us something to do and I looked forward to the long walk to the pool with just the two of us. Those times are the most precious to me — the one-on-one time with each of my boys, usually walking somewhere, when they are extra chatty and cheerful. We did enjoy the mile-and-a-half walk. There was just enough breeze to keep us cool, but we were ready for the water by the time we arrived. He went straight for the dive tank and I kid you not, barely hesitated before jumping off that diving board!

He then proceeded to jump again and again (I lost count after 25) before I was able to tear him away. We swam for awhile together, then he went off the boards again before heading home. He was practically bursting at the seams the whole way home, he was so excited to tell Milo, Oliver, and Andrew.

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Only, I dreaded what heartache would befall poor Oliver when he found out his younger brother had beat him to it. Oliver, poor guy, has been trying to talk himself into taking the leap off the diving board since last summer. It was easier to keep things in perspective when I reminded him that Milo, brave brave Milo, had not even gone off the diving boards until he was seven, but now, there was no easy way out.

Sure enough, when we got home and Emil excitedly delivered the news, Oliver immediately burst into tears. He crawled into a pillow fort he had built and cried hard and loud for quite some time. Oliver’s bruised ego and disappointment in himself was so hard to witness, especially when I heard him muttering, “I’m the worst!” to himself. Oh, he breaks my heart how hard on himself he can be! We have had a couple of long talks about saying kind words to yourself and treating yourself with love and respect, but man, when he feels it, he feels it.

We went back the next day and I brought my camera. Milo was all encouraging words and acceptance, cheering on Emil and also telling Oliver that he is so proud of him for trying, and that he will do it when he’s ready. I am sorry to say that these words do not sink in right away for Oliver. It takes him some time to think about it all, but before it all sinks in, he lashes out and pushes us all away. It’s something we know and try to help him with, and make him aware of, but in the end time is all that really works for him.

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High five attempts (for trying to jump yet again) met with a frown and a slapped-away hand

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Come on, buddy! You can do it!… Next time…

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Oliver walked to the end of that board three times, and turned around each time. It was tricky, celebrating Emil’s accomplishment while being sensitive to Oliver’s feelings. We oscillated between encouraging Oliver to think of Emil and be happy for him, and reassuring Oliver that his time will come when he is ready.

It’s so hard to know what to do or say when your child compares himself to his siblings — siblings who are similar to him in so many ways, different in so many others… but you’d better believe when Oliver does finally jump, we’ll all be there to lift him up. It’s going to be a big deal, that day!

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These brothers, they push each other, they support each other, they cheer each other on, they challenge each other. I hope they are always there for each other in these ways. Congratulations, Emil, and Oliver, you can do it!

The Bahamas: All the Rest

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Why do we feel obligated to take pictures of ourselves jumping on beaches? I don’t know, and probably never will. Also, I am trying to decipher my hand signals. Again, who knows? Rock out from above? Milo decided to lie down on the sand after this one. Probably mortified. Just wait buddy, I give you 5 more years and you’ll be mortified pretty much 24/7.

Here are the rest of the photos from our Bahamas vacation, with a few videos sprinkled in, and next week we’ll be back to usual with plenty of book recommendations (I read so much during vacation — it was wonderful!) and a new Dress That Mama post, as well as a recipe inspired by Maggie and her amazing salad dressing. But for now, more of the same!
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This is how one walks back from the beach when sand has gotten all up in there in his little boy nooks and crannies…

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Also, I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t skinny dipping to wash off said sand. Showers turned out to be rare, as salty water came from the pipes, and no one really liked that. Cleanish is clean enough in my book. DSC_0395DSC_0392DSC_0391DSC_0389DSC_0390DSC_0358DSC_0355DSC_0351DSC_0360DSC_0274DSC_0265DSC_0264Evening time is the best time on the beach!

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Emil and his little friend Auggie got along so well during this trip!DSC_0293DSC_0303DSC_0309DSC_0319DSC_0335DSC_0350DSC_0253DSC_0259DSC_0261

Every morning (and I mean the term morning loosely, as in anywhere from 4am on…), we heard this sound. Over, and over, and over again. Also, throughout the day. The roosters were everywhere on this island! By the end, we barely noticed it, kind of like how Midwesterners get used to the sound of cicadas during summer months, even though they seem very loud to people visiting.

Emil’s baby, Baby Tommy, has been joining him everywhere. Except the pool. He can’t swim.
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See you next week! Have a wonderful weekend!

Harbour Island: The Landing

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The food situation on Harbour Island was complicated! We had been expecting tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood at the ready, and markets with all the local stuff we would cook with. The reality was that everything was imported and most of the available fruits or vegetables (and especially the seafood) had been previously frozen. In addition to that, it was all insanely expensive. As a result, we only cooked a couple of meals at the house; the rest of the time, we went out to eat (or ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cereal and milk).

The food at the nicer restaurants was really good. Plus, they seemed to have dibs on all the fresh seafood, greens, and fresh foods, so we ended up having the best meals at these places. The Landing was my favorite.

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The Landing, a 13-room hotel and restaurant overlooking the harbor in Dunmore Town, dates back to 1800 and has been designed in a classic plantation style with colonial Caribbean influences. The pictures on the wall (and in the bathroom) were enough to give me pause. The bar was gorgeous (above) and the outdoor space (below) like an oasis.

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If you are ever in this area, I highly recommend it! Also, the rooms look perfect!

Eleuthera Island, Bahamas

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Close to the end of our trip, Maggie and Alex suggested that we ferry over to the main island, Eleuthera, rent a car for the day, and see a few of the places they had visited 10 years ago and remembered fondly. I’m so glad they suggested it, because we saw some really amazing things that day!

Our first stop was Preacher’s Cave, the home and church of the first Eleutherian adventurers. The cave was massive and really beautiful (Alex is fist pumping because he’s British and so were the adventurers, of course!).
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Maggie spotted this exposed bee hive, practically dripping honey and all! It think it looks like a pair of lungs, doesn’t it?DSC_0545DSC_0548DSC_0558

A short walk down a trail on the opposite end of Preacher’s Cave was this stunning beach! The kids spotted a baby shark swimming close to shore, yikes!
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We also found a teeny tiny hermit crab. DSC_0561DSC_0570DSC_0573DSC_0575DSC_0580

There was an outcropping of rock that looked like the surface of the moon. Milo and Andrew explored it a bit, finding sea urchins, crabs, and sea snails. We could have spent hours exploring, but it was very hot and we still had a long car ride to lunch. DSC_0588DSC_0612

And just when the whining and arguing had become unbearable inside that car ride south, we reached South Palmetto Point and stopped at Tippy’s, which was just about to open for lunch. This place was so good. Check out the view from the restaurant:DSC_0613DSC_0618

The food was good. I ordered a burger that was enormous and ate almost the entire thing. Also, Maggie and I improved our moods (and cooled down) with two of the best piña coladas in the entire land. The boys enjoyed massive amounts of ice cream. DSC_0621

After Tippy’s, we drove a short way to Ten Bay Beach, which was Oliver’s favorite place of the entire trip. Located in Savannah Sound, Ten Bay Beach is a white powder sand beach with sand flats that extend out very far, making the water shallow and usually very calm. On the day we visited, the waves were huge because of the wind, which was perfect for the kids. They could be out very far in the water and still touch the bottom, be swept up onto a wave, and carried back down to the sand. Oliver spent so long out there, Andrew and I had to trade off staying with him! DSC_0625DSC_0631

Emil flew his octopus kite for the first time, then the string got stuck in a tree. It was still flying high when we left. It may still be flying today. It’s okay. It looked like it belonged there.

What was particularly nice about this beach is that there was plenty of shade. The big boys built a little fort in the trees when they weren’t swimming. And a sand castle, of course. DSC_0637DSC_0638DSC_0641

Oliver went shell hunting with Alex and they found some great little conch shells. When it was time to leave, I started to collect Oliver’s pile, when I noticed the foot had come out of one of the conchs; it was definitely not an empty shell! Oliver and Milo placed it into shallow water to observe how it moved. Its two eyes came out and looked around, then it pushed itself forward with its foot. It was very, very cool.

All exhausted and happy, we pile back into the car and drive north to return the car and ferry back to Harbour Island. On the way, we stop on Glass Window Bridge, a tiny strip of land, the skinniest part of the island. This is the view from one side:DSC_0644DSC_0648

And that completes our day on Eleuthera Island! It was such a great day trip!

The Hatch, Harbour Island

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Here is the house (named The Hatch) we rented for the week with our friends. It sleeps eight, or nine if you include the fainting chair Emil called his bed for the week (it was the perfect size for him)! We rented it from Airbnb, which as served us well over the years, from Paris to Asheville and everything in-between!

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Most of the living space was outdoors — the kitchen, dining room, and living area was covered but open to the air, which was ideal since the boys were in the pool most of their waking hours when we were home, and we needed to keep a close eye on them. There was a little guest house with a bathroom where I slept with Emil & Oliver. Andrew took a downstairs bedroom with Milo, and our friends had the entire upstairs of the house. We often split up this way on vacation because Emil still wakes up at night and gets pretty scared when he’s in an unfamiliar place. This way, one of the adults was right there with him so he wasn’t wandering around looking for us in the dead of night (with a pool to fall into!). We actually all slept really well this trip! Thank goodness that part gets easier as the kids grow up!DSC_0029DSC_0028DSC_0033

There was so much beautiful tropical greenery everywhere! Beautiful flowering vines crept up the house and all around the pool and garden area. It was paradise!

Except for the mosquitoes. At the beginning of the trip, they weren’t too bad, but the last two days, they were everywhere. Luckily, The Hatch had fans permanently installed in strategic places, which made it impossible for the pests to swarm us. Wind works very well in deterring mosquitoes!

The boys gathered every afternoon for a movie in the outdoor space below, in order to get out of the sun and just relax for a bit. They also played games like Sorry and War, Monopoly, Stratego, and quite a few video games on Maggie’s phone! We were much more lax on screen time during the trip, but we’re getting back to our regular routine now. DSC_0034DSC_0036DSC_0032DSC_0196

Here’s a view of the front of the house. It was so cute and cheerful with the pink shutters and doors!

Below, the shared entryway to The Hatch (which is on the right) and another little house straight ahead (I forget the name of it). DSC_0200DSC_0205DSC_0217

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Oliver’s persistence payed off (most likely because we told him that opening a coconut would be nearly impossible without a machete, to which he responded well can I go buy a machete then? to which we responded um… no.) and he somehow managed to crack open a fresh coconut. Andrew and Alex made us piña coladas from the coconut and coconut water that were delicious (though next time we requested pulp-free). DSC_0250DSC_0220

Maggie goofing around, glad she didn’t go for the triple F cup implants.

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The pool was the BEST part of the place, according to all three of our boys. Emil became quite a good underwater swimmer during our week there.

Below, the (air conditioned) guest house where Emil, Oliver, and I slept. This was taken on our second day there. Emil went missing. I was panicked, looking for him everywhere. I checked the guest house and found that he had put himself down for a nap. DSC_0239DSC_0249DSC_0240

Sweet, tuckered out little guy! So much fun allows this four-year-old to make sound decisions about sleep… for once in his life!  DSC_0245DSC_0251

The upstairs was so beautiful during dusk — it faced the harbor side of the island, where the sun sets. There was also a beautiful area for eating, though we didn’t use it because it was very hot during the morning and day. It was perfect for drying laundry, though, and when we used the clotheslines, our laundry was all dry in about an hour! DSC_0397DSC_0399DSC_0403DSC_0404DSC_0406

The Hatch was perfect for our two families! Added bonus, it was just a short walk away from the grocery store and a few little shops, a really nice restaurant called The Landing, across the street from a breakfast and coffee shop, and about a half-mile walk to the Pink Sand beach, where we spent much of our time. We were able to cook meals there, as well as relax and cool off in the air conditioning at night. Such a great space!

Harbour Island, Part I

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I want to start at the beginning, which is not the above photos… but I didn’t want to start with the below photo:

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Which is, of course, the real beginning: the reality of travel. On our way to the Bahamas (a place neither Andrew nor I had ever visited before, but our gracious friends Maggie & Alex had remembered and shared with us so fondly), we had to wake up all the kids extra early, drive, then shuttle, then airplane, then train it through the Atlanta airport, then hop onto another plane, then… just as the island came into view, turn back around and fly to Miami to wait out some dense cloud cover. The kids were so, so tired, but we found a spot in the airport and waited, as waiting is the only thing to do. We were relieved to get the flight right on the second try. We then took a quick boat ride over to Harbour Island, where we had a short walk up a little hill and down a sweet side street to the house we rented for the week, The Hatch. 

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The island is so small that there are no numbers for addresses; instead, each house is named and somehow everyone just knows where they are. But more on The Hatch later (it deserves its own post!). After quickly unpacking, we immediately walked the quick half mile to the pink sand beach, where the boys ran for the water, despite us telling them that they would be more comfortable for dinner dry… who can resist, though?!

We really were a rough, exhausted crowd that first night. There were five very whiney (and wet, and sandy) little boys sitting on one end of the table as we strategized for the next day.

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We walked home in the dark and collapsed in a heap. That first day of travel always makes me so teary and emotional — but knowing that, I put myself to bed as early as possible and woke up with sunshine and rainbows pouring out of my ass the next day.

See?

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Andrew and I woke up earliest — the rooster living next door (and the one living next door to him, and the one who lived down the hill to the left, and so on, and so on) started in nice and early! We found a passionfruit on the stone walkway with no passionfruit tree in sight, a whole tree full of coconuts next to the pool, an assortment of lizards and geckos and large snails, and an abundance of really cool birds in the trees around us. It was lovely to read beside the pool before anyone woke up while listening to all the life around us.

And of course, once everyone was awake, we walked to get the essentials at the local Piggly Wiggly and headed directly to the beach, which was a vision in full daylight.

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For most of our trip, the beaches were practically empty. And that slightly pink tint you see? It’s not photo enhancement — this is Pink Sand Beach. If you were to get down close and really look at the sand, it is speckled pink and white and feels like powder. There were hardly any shells and the sand was very clean.

Except when the horses pooped on it that one time…

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The boys, big and small, jumped right in! And so did I, actually. The water was warm and crystal clear. It’s a reassuring thing to look down and see your feet in the vast ocean!

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Emil wanted to know if there were any sharks.

Also, he only wore that vest for the first visit to the beach. From then on, he was a little fish, both in the pool and the ocean. Seeing how much all of our boys enjoyed the water brought back so many memories about my early childhood experiences with the ocean — it really is true that you relive parts of your childhood when you become a parent. The truest joy was watching them delight in the waves, search for little shells, dig in the sand, and ride the waves into shore. It was a wonderful way to start our trip!

I’ll share photos of the awesome house we stayed in tomorrow morning!

Back from Vacation!

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Hello there! We’ve just returned from a week-long vacation that I can’t wait to tell you all about… but before that, there are plenty of pictures to edit and seashells to unpack, etc. Check back later today for the first post on our trip. It was so good to be unplugged for the week, but I’m so happy to be home. There’s no place like it!

Dress That Mama Challenge, Day 25: Low Back & Denim Skirt

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Hooray! We’ve made it to the end of the challenge! 25 outfits in just over a month — I had a lot of fun with this; though, I might add, it was more of a challenge for Andrew than for me (someone else had to take ALL of the photos for this series)!

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For the last outfit, I wanted to share a simple trick: wearing your bathing suit under a cute denim skirt. It’s summertime. For me, this means frequent trips to the swimming pool. I have to admit that some days I don’t immediately change out of my swimsuit, so if you have a cute one piece, sometimes you can get aways with these things without everyone knowing your secret. During the summer months, easier is better.

The end!

Swimsuit: Seea Lido One Piece in Roma

Denim Skirt: MOTHER (sold out), similar here and here

Clogs: Rachel Comey (sold out)