I want to preface this post by saying God is so, so good. Never could we have been prepared for the tumultuous, scary, faith-growing, community-depending roller coaster ride that the last few months have held. My sweet family has endured a ride to hell and back, starting with the diagnosis of MS, a miracle in the form of B12 deficiency that is totally treatable and reversible, and culminating this past week in an unexpected, delightful, heavenly trip to Carmel. Without the illness and its subsequent doctor-mandated recovery time, we wouldn't have had the blessing of spending a week together, just as a family, enjoying each other and resting, resting, resting. To God be the glory, great things he has done!
Carmel blessed us with a week of 65-degree days, sunshine galore, large waves, long naps and beautiful scenery:
Our kids were happy, secure, energetic, fun-loving, obedient and altogether awesome. Our family vacation allowed Ben and I as parents to fall in love all over again with the unique, creative, loving, beautiful, awesome kids God's given us. We relished in each other's love. We delighted in each other's presence. We played and splashed and laughed and jumped and celebrated all week long.
Each day we headed to the beach in the morning, came back for lunch and nap, then headed back to the beach for the afternoon. Our kids perfected jumping off logs, sliding down steep sandy inclines and building castles of fine, white sand. Maddie flew her handmade kites and shrieked gleefully as they spun and twirled in the wind.
We enjoyed a (windy) hike on Point Lobos, Maddie amazing us by hiking 1 1/2 miles all on her own! She is such a trooper! We especially loved getting to see sea lions and sea otters frolic in the waves nearby. A park docent led Maddie through a delightful learning experience where she learned all about the local sea life, getting to feel real pelts and examine real skulls. Right up her alley!
Late afternoons gave way to swimsuits (when we remembered them), wet clothes, and nudey babies. If there was a small, insignificant puddle to be seen, the kids frolicked and splashed and dunked their heads like it was the fountain of youth.
The amazing Carmel house we stayed in offers amazing opportunities for inside photography, as it is full of bright, beautiful daylight. Maddie and Sam entertained my wishes for a short 13-minute period one afternoon as I snapped away. Here are some of my favorites:
My sweet kiddos are the best of friends and played together so wonderfully. They laughed and wrestled and worked together and snuggled, making us giddy with love. One day we walked down to watch the ocean and the two of them just sat, side by side, gazing at feeding sea birds and seals, giggling and taking in the moments together.
We had the opportunity to meet up with Ben's cousin Michael for an afternoon at the Pebble Beach Club pool. Um, heaven. Heated pool, crashing waves below, sun setting on the horizon. After a swim we headed up Carmel Valley to Uncle Frank's, where we feasted on delicious food as a family late into the evening. Maddie and Sam especially enjoyed our venture out to see the motorcycles. It ended with Sam falling asleep in his jammies, in my arms, and Maddie snuggling her cousin Michael on the couch. Oh, such love.
Our last few days we attempted to eke out every minute of beach time possible. We stayed late in the afternoon, playing and growing sandier with each minute. Our pedicures were all but filed away by the fine sand, feet soft and smooth, the sea air left our hair tangled and salty, but we didn't care. It was bliss.
Kiddos flew kites, played with giant sea kelp, laughed and splashed in the cold, lapping waves at their ankles. We joined them, our feet frozen and numb but smiles warm and wide.
I marveled at my sweet kids' likenesses, the ways in which their arms went out at the same angle when flying kites, the ease with which they played and the abundance of their love for each other. Such tender, memorable moments laced with fondness, rest and gratitude.
And on our last night we enjoyed a slow sunset at Mission Ranch, sheep grazing below our table as we enjoyed cold drinks and delicious appetizers. As we placed our little ones in bed that night, our hearts were so full.
There is something so wonderful about time away as a family, not only to connect, but also to fall in love with each other again: to see the light in one's eyes, to feel the lightness of one's countenance, to watch the stress melt away and be replaced by relaxation and gratitude. Such a time of blessing for all of us.