I am thankful. So very thankful. Thankful for our immeasurable blessings, our perspectives, our experiences. I am thankful for them all. At my heart's very center is always my family. The definition and members have changed over the years. We have seen more stable days. We have been less broken, less hurt...we have been happy - so blindingly happy...and so crushingly hurt. But the bottom line has always been: we've been together; and I love that.
A few (like 5 - ok. exactly 5) years ago, St. Augustine was a vacation spot for our family. It's where my grandparents live. It's where my dad grew up. It has been the one week during each year that we simply "veg" on the beach after a ridiculously long drive. We put our toes in the sand, and let the waves wash away the stresses and cares...and we make memories. I love the smell of the water, the sound of the church bells, the drive onto Anastasia Island as we cross the Bridge of Lions and view the postcard scene including an ancient fort and countless yachts. I love the lighthouse peering up in black white and red splendor watching over the little town (that's not so little anymore).
Today, St. Augustine is saturated with my memories - and though I make new ones each time I travel there, it's the old ones that keep me coming back...
I visit my dad:
I introduce him to our babies and imagine him watching them grow...
I am thankful for the physical place to reflect and know, in some way, he's always there - waiting for us to appear...
My sweet and feisty Granny got to meet Everett for the first time:
He was quickly dubbed "my little Grin-Pot" and shined as a snuggly smell good heap of baby:
Mary Louise and David got to spend time with their cousins - including Connor (7) who became a fast favorite with our big kids (she let them play with her Barbies and Brandon - another cousin brought over some Legos - our kids thought they were just spoiled to no end!):
I took these photos of E and B - 2 of my greatest loves:
St. Aug, this past year, became a place to visit my grandfather...in a new way...
Mary Louise and David (respectfully) played in the memorial garden for almost an hour one morning. I pictured the "elders" smiling great warm smiles with the littles playing a giggling all round.
We explored downtown:
We danced in courtyards:
We picked up sticks:
We used Uncle Sean as a jungle gym:
(Everett was desperate to join)
My cousin Katie and her mom and grandmother came for a visit - more cousin time is always a win!
and Katie takes pictures - I mean really awesome pictures:
and sometimes our kids don't eat organic...or raw...
and that's ok - because they have the knowledge base to know that variety (even little treats) are honestly the spice of life. (ok - that's more a statement for me than you.)
St. Augustine has always been a place I've gone to vacation and visit family. I guess it doesn't really matter that some of the most important family I'm visiting is no longer visible. I know they're there. I'm thankful that I have that - and for the years they were physically in front of me. I appreciated them then - and adore them just as much now. The town itself has become my family. Our ashes grow the flowers...and that makes me smile.
We had a lovely time.
No visit across the deep south would be complete without a night at Mere and Pops. When the kids were starting to get antsy, we pushed it an extra hour or 2 to get the g-parents some much needed kiddo snuggles.
On the way there and back I got all crafty with my Jesse Tree Swap ornament: the angel:
Looking forward to a new tradition for our family - and teaching the littles the story of Christmas.
More to come - Mary Louise is gearing up for her stage debut!!