Living in New England has certainly allowed my sister and me (and our husbands and children) to play a much larger role in one another's daily lives, but it has also placed us much closer to my brother-in-law's parents. Earlier this year, when my sister and her family celebrated Easter Sunday with her in-laws in Rhode Island we were generously invited and had a lovely time. And, despite the fact that our presence at Easter unfortunately passed an awful norovirus on to nearly everyone, my brother-in-law's parents kindly invited us back to spend a weekend with everyone at their place this summer.
Considering I had a baby the first week of June (which kept the children and me indoors far longer than I wanted to be), I was so grateful for the opportunity to finally get out and more fully experience summer as I feel it should be experienced.
Even though we lived in Florida when Gabriel was born and we spent last year's 4th of July in Ocean City, Maryland, our weekend in Rhode Island was our first ocean experience that Gabriel could seriously enjoy and possibly remember. To prepare him for the trip I explained that the ocean is like a reallllllly big pool with sand to play in. He latched onto this explanation and still (a month later) refers to the ocean as "BIG pool!"
The minute details of the weekend escape me already, but what I do remember is that we spent a lot of time enjoying good company, delicious food, generous hospitality, and an abundance of sunshine and water. It was exactly the mini-vacation Michael and I didn't even know we needed.
|Who wouldn't enjoy a weekend here?|
The four oldest cousins (because let's be real: 10-week-old Peter didn't do much but eat, sleep, and happily coo and smile at people) had a blast playing in the little kiddie pool,
|I was surprised, but he seriously LOVED this|
there was a lot of playing down by the sand and rocks,
|My sister won all the cool aunt points by showing him how to knock down this rock tower|
my husband and I were able to do a little bit of kayaking,
and we even got Gabriel to tolerate getting in the ocean on a couple of brief occasions (only while being held by me, of course), which is a significant, happy improvement from last summer.
Sunday morning after Mass we headed down to the beach for one last visit with the ocean. Michael showed Gabriel that he could throw rocks in the water, which (naturally) was a highlight of Gabriel's weekend. I spent the next 20 minutes or so sitting on a large rock, soaking up the sun and the image of my husband expertly skipping rocks across the water and guiding our oldest son in his attempts to do the same. It sounds super cheesy, but in that moment I experienced deeply the quiet calm and love that comes from knowing God and recognizing His presence in our everyday lives. What a precious gift my family is to communicate that to me.
Now, a month later, any mention of Rhode Island immediately prompts Gabriel to regale us with his tale about the "big pool" where he got to "throw rocks [with] Daddy!"
"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came."
-John F. Kennedy