My family loves the beach. I'm pretty certain that my love for the ocean comes from both of my parents. We all just get so excited about being at the beach. It's hard to explain, but just the mention of it and we all light up. We just simply love it. Everything about it. Heck... Brad and I even got married on the beach. That's just how much we love it. :)
In any case, my parents weren't with us on this vacation, so I thought a lot about them and the special memories we created over the years. It was bittersweet for me in a lot of ways because I missed them. I can't spend a day laying out on the sand without thinking about my mom. She and I could lay on a towel in the sand all day and feel like everything in the world was perfect. I could hear myself becoming her when I would pack up enough food and drinks in the cooler so we could stay all day... not because the kids wanted to, but because I didn't want to have to leave the sand long enough to fix lunch. :)
I probably thought more about my dad though. As I was lying on the beach, thinking about my parents not being there to enjoy all of this, the smell of cherry cigars came floating down the breeze. My dad smoked these for years and it is probably one of my favorite smells ever. It's like smelling home. :) So, I laid there and thought about dad and my list of things to do before I die. Of course I was thinking about my list... c'mon. I'm addicted to it. :)
On my list are a few very special items. They are special because to me they are traditions. They aren't traditions like "put up your Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving" traditions. They are things that my dad did with me as a child that I want to pass to my kids, without really saying, "You need to do this with your kids." They are things that we just always did, without really acknowledging it.
The first one was so simple... I'm not sure that it was quite that easy when dad used to do it because I remember that he had to run to get it going. :) It was number 100 on my list... to fly kites with the kids on the beach. We had a Spiderman kite, a lot of string, and a very windy beach, which made this my easiest list item yet. :) I put the kite together, tied on the string, and up he flew. Simple, but fun. The kids thought it was great, but I think I loved it most. Colt enjoyed it, too. He probably wouldn't admit it, but he did. We can't remember if he's ever flown a kite, so we think it might have been a first for him, too.
It's marked off the list. It was fun, in it's simple way, but more importantly to me, it was a way of honoring a great memory with my dad. He always worked so hard and it was the little things like this that he did with me that meant so much. I'm glad that he realized how important it was then and hope he knows how much it means to me now.
Here are a couple of photos:
And the other one... was list number 101... to wake up early with each child and take them to find seashells at the beach… one at a time. I was already halfway done with this list item when I put it on here. Bailey and I went seashell hunting early one morning on our last vacation, which would have been when she was 3. This time, I wanted to make sure I did this with Jake, since he is also 3 this summer. We found zero seashells, but saw lots of jellyfish and a sandcrab, which Jake called a spider. That was all much more interesting to Jake than actually looking for shells. He isn't really that into the shells anyway and Hilton Head's supply was scarce. :)
The reason that this made my list is simple. One of my favorite memories of my childhood beach vacation is of my dad waking me up at like 6 in the morning to go find seashells. It was just the two of us and I was the center of the world. The seashells were great, but it was that extra little bit of time that we spent hanging out that meant so much. And, what makes me the most happy, is that Brad has picked it up, too. He and Bailey got up early one morning and went seashell hunting this week. They found a few shells, but saw tons of fish, jellyfish, crabs, and a shark. Yep... a little shark that someone caught when they were fishing. If I didn't know better, I would swear that it was a big fish story since they took pictures of everything but the shark, but they were so excited, I'm certain that they actually did. lol. The bad thing about it was that Jake was obsessed with finding a shark so much that he wouldn't even look for shells when I took him. He just wanted me to show him a shark. I should have picked that day to take Jake. Man... :) This one can be marked off, but it's probably something I'll do at each vacation... until they say no. :)
Some pics from this year with Jake:
Since my laptop still is not recovered (meaning, I might have lost nearly all of my kids' baby pictures - sigh, tear), I don't have photos of my walk with Bailey from two years ago. I do, however, have the photos of our very first walk on the beach. It doesn't really count in my head as the first time we hunted for seashells for this list item, but at least I have some photo documentation that I actually did take her for a walk on the beach.
And, last, but definitely not least, I thought of my dad when I ran on the beach for the first time. I would have loved to have had him there with me. I cannot remember a trip to the beach as a child when my dad didn't run on the beach. He'd run forever. He was usually training for a fight, but I can remember thinking that I'd love to go and run like he would... just run up and down the beach, seeing everything, the wind blowing off the ocean, enjoying it. It was as great of a feeling as I expected. The wind coming off the beach made me feel like I could run forever.
My dad and I have had our fair share of arguments and disagreements. I would venture to say that I've yelled at him as much as he has yelled at me. I'd also venture to say that it's probably because we are so similar in personality. I mentioned that two people so much alike aren't necessarily a good thing (me and Bailey). But, as I've grown to become more and more like my dad (by yelling at my kids in the car and threatening to throw toys out the window, etc.), I appreciate all of the big and little things he's done for me even more. He's always supported my decisions, even when I was wrong. He's always encouraged me to be tough and stand up for what I want, even if it wasn't popular. He's always been there to tell me he loves me when everyone else in the world would probably dislike me (he's also always been there to tell me when I need to quit being a... not nice). :) He's just always been there. And, it started all the way back when we would take our little walks on the beach or fly a kite. I could call him right now and spill my heart out and know that he'd understand. He'd tell me the truth, whether I liked it or not, but he'd be there. That's what I'm hoping to instill in my kids by doing these things... our own little traditions of walks on the beach... that will give my kids the chance to talk about anything and everything with the knowledge that we are there for them and love them no matter what.
Thanks for showing me what I'm supposed to do, Dad... without making me feel like you were forcing your opinion on me. I love you... :)