Tuesday, March 24, 2015


We are back and we are settled and a week has gone by which has thrown us right back into the routine of our life.  We had horseback riding and piano and sign language.  I worked in the home to prepare for some major renovations happening soon and I worked outside our home at church.  We went to the Living Stations of the Cross Friday night and a Celtic Women concert Saturday night.  There were moments of longing for sunshine and warmth, especially when 6 fresh inches of snow fell. There were longings for lazy mornings, especially when Grace went to volunteer at the kennel.  And there were longings for walks on the beach in search of the perfect shell.  That one, however, we can satisfy here in Connecticut.

The beaches are certainly not as pristine.  The water is not as blue.  The sand is not as soft.  It is easy to fall prey to envy and forget to find the beauty in what our town has to offer.  We do have miles of beaches along Long Island Sound and those beaches contain marine life.  

After church on Sunday, Greg had the brilliant idea to pop over to our town’s beachfront dining establishment for family breakfast.  We watched barges pass and the seagulls and Canadian Geese float by.  And for a few blissful minutes, Greg and I enjoyed our last sips of coffee while the girls combed the beach.  

They found some amazing treasures.  Shells that we are not used to finding on our beaches.  This passion of shelling has turned from just an interest, to a true passionate exploration of science.  We are learning habitats, ecology, geography, marine biology, zoology, art, technology, research, record keeping, photography, and the use of the Internet to enhance learning.  

We cannot find many documentaries on shells.  However, there are hundreds of YouTube videos in which people who share our same interest teach.  It is up to us to verify the information, which we can do through our growing collection of books about shells.  

This family project will lead us into spring and summer.  Last night we were all talking about how we could be like Storm Chasers, only we chase the tide after a storm seeking the remnants of what was churned up by the powerful surf.  We have easy access to beaches from Delaware to Maine to explore.  Heck, Rhode Island and New Jersey are just 90 minutes away!  We have never explored New Jersey beaches or Rhode Island beaches........and now that we have a dog sitter who loves our crazy puppy, overnight ventures have become possible again.

Friday, March 20, 2015

We smile

We always come home with the idea that we will take vacation home with us.  We will cut down on Saturday routines to free up family time.  We will cut down on clutter to make our home as wonderful as a hotel, or as clutter free as a condo with an ocean view. We will communicate more, verbally, not through text, and we will be kinder and gentler and share our love more often.

We carry these ideals home and we work very hard not to let daily life wear us down.  Inevitably it does.  It’s hard to communicate with a husband you see only 2 hours a day.  It’s hard to push down the annoyance you feel when the piles of laundry overwhelm you and you have not been home yet a week.  Or that you have not had time to do a proper shop at the grocery store so you are digging deep into the freezer and using the minimal creative culinary skills you possess to feed your family a nutritious meal.  It’s hard to reconcile the fact that your children who were best of friends on the beach 7 days ago are now bickering all day long.

I get it.  Vacation is the ideal way of life.  We did not come home to spring.  We came home to winter.  To dirty snow and muddy ground.  To bare trees and gray skies.  To cold temperatures and forecasts of snow.  That promise we would abandon our winter coats and Uggs?  That did not last long when faced with 30 degree temperatures.  Our last day in Sanibel was 90 degrees.....sigh.

But we try.   Every day we try to live the vacation ideals.  We forgive.  We clean up.  We prioritize.  We wait.  Soon it will be spring and our window will be open and the breeze will carry the scent of salt from the sound and it will lift our spirits.  We will be done with lessons and we will travel some more.  We will eat from the garden and absorb natural vitamin D.  

But for now, on this snowy Friday, when schools are being dismissed early and our plans for this evening may not happen, we hold on to these memories, these precious moments.  And we smile.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Discover Learning

Without a schedule or set plans we were free to discover the beaches according to the tides.  We visited most.  Blind Pass, Bowman’s, Gulfside City Park, and our favorite Lighthouse Beach.  In New England our family hobby is collecting sea glass.  In Florida it is shelling.  In New England we are on the constant lookout for red sea glass and in Florida our eyes strain looking for the rarer shells, like the Alphabet Cone, Horse Conch and of course, the Junonia. 

We discovered more in the warm waters than I anticipated. 

Grace discovered she loves photography, especially with her Go Pro camera.  I was amazed at the sharpness and the color quality she captured.  I even like the fish eye lens she uses.  She took it everywhere and has plans to make a video of our vacation to put up on Youtube.

Lilah discovered she really likes keeping journals.  At home she fills journal after journal but we have never had much success with our travel journals.  I plan them, lug the art supplies with me and we start them but they come home half full (or half empty).  This year was very different.  I did not pack their travel journals and supplies.  They did.  They requested to stop at every single state Visitor’s Center from VA to FL.  And we did.  The wrote and wrote and wrote.  At the condo, Grace would relax with some television or take a walk on the beach and Lilah would curl up in her favorite chair on the lanai and write.  Her journal is truly wonderful and something she will have forever and always.  

Lest Grace get upset, she also kept a travel journal jam packed with information like tide charts, beaches, beach reviews, shops we visited, best ice cream, etc.  She could publish it as a travel guide of Sanbel from a teen’s perspective.

Discovery.  We are always learning.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Road trips are really about discovery, not the quickest detour around traffic ahead, but discovery about who you are and what matters most.  Even at 43, there are things I still discover about myself, like I love Winnie the Pooh!  

Discovering the BEST smokehouse in Georgia

I detest Winnie the Pooh cartoons.  My kids never watched them for I found them to be slow, and some of the characters irritating.  In a classic case of the movie is never ever as good as the book, I should not have been surprised that after the first of 10 stories on our audio book, Winnie-the-Pooh: A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics, Volume 1, narrated by Peter Dennis, I was hooked.  

Discovering Sanibel Island, Florida

Lilah and I oohed and ahhed over Piglet and Rooh and we wondered when and if Tigger would be introduced (he was not) and we loved the stories of friendship and love and simplicity.  This audio book is just 3 hours but we stretched it out to many more because we listed to each story individually, taking long pauses in between.  It was our only audio book of the drive to Florida.  

Discovering a Junonia, the shells we would search for all week but never find.
Which led to the discovery of this book which we read on vacation.

Our family seeks out bookstores on vacation with the same intensity that we seek out ice cream shoppes.  We discovered a lovely bookstore and Lilah bought the complete tales of Winnie the Pooh and made a point to tell me at bedtime, back in Connecticut, tucked into bed with a sleepy smile on her face, that she had met Tigger and discovered a poem that she just had to share with me, a poem about poor little Tigger. 

“And that’s the whole poem”, he said.  “Do you like it, Piglet?”
“All except the shillings,” said Piglet.  “I don’t think they ought to be there.”
“They wanted to come in after the pounds,” explained Pooh, “so I let them.  It is the best way to write poetry, letting things come.”
“Oh, I didn’t know,” said Piglet.   (from A.A. Milne's The World of Winnie the Pooh, The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner)

This is the best way not only to write poetry, but to enjoy life, letting things come.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...