Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cottage...With Benefits

The summer is long gone.  And I think I'm glad about it...except that living in California takes the fun out of the "seasons".  It was 100 degrees on Wednesday and we're still wearing shorts and flip flops (remember when we used to call them thongs? Thinking of that makes me giggle, especially when my dad asked my mom to get him some this summer.  I'm immature, I know).

Anyway, the summer was challenging, to say the least, but the brightest part of it was the time making memories with my family so close by and the times we spent at the beach.  Therefore, the shining star of the summer was the 4 days we spent in San Diego on the Navy Base at Coronado Island with my sister in a beach cottage on, well, the beach!  I couldn't let the summer fade without a post about this special time.
The Beach Cottage!  (A slightly crooked walk straight to the beach due to the large area fenced off as belonging to the endangered snowy plover birds...I was going to say that I grumbled about walking around it every day without ever spotting a snowy plover, but it appears that there is a white bird in the foreground of the picture so it looks like at least one bird figured out that the wasted beach space is for him.)

The Navy Lodge at North Island Naval Air Station--right next to the cottages
Enjoying the playground and the view of Point Loma from the Lodge
The beach cottage had all the normal amenities of a cottage at the beach including:
Sand for burying your little sister
Sand crabs to tickle your toes
Waves to catch on your boogie board/body board (I'm not sure what the proper lingo is these days).  Sam surprised us one day after a wave hit him in the head by saying, "Don't worry, the back of my head protected my face!" and we thought he was so clever...until we found out Jeremy had given him that advice earlier in the summer.  It still was pretty cute.
Sand dollars to hunt for early in the morning in your jammies with your cool aunt
Random capsized boats washing have to keep from asking yourself what happened to the captain and why did his boat wash ashore...
Other floatsam and jetsam items found on shore--a rake, Sponge Bob, a dinosaur head...but check out Evan in this picture...
Do you see why I call him a stinker?  I thought we were taking a nice picture of us on the beach!
Sand for building castles (and having even more fun destroying them)
Breakfast on the porch with Grandma

Sand.  Period.
And an outdoor shower to wash all the sand off your toes.  And to dance in.
But a cottage on North Island Naval Air Station with my sister the Navy pilot also came with some added benefits:
Large aircraft carriers heading out to sea

It seemed that every other plane that flew over was one of Aunt Kendra's former or current airplanes (this is the COD--a plane she used to fly)
There were planes, jets, helicopters and more flying overhead day and night.  There were rescue swimmers being dropped out of helicopters right into the water across from us, Navy seals doing night ops, the Star Spangled Banner being played on loud speakers while everyone stood at attention, and we even went swimming in a pool that was in the movie Top Gun.

There were a few potential drawbacks...
The sign on our beach that said: "Danger Live Firing Area Off Limits"
The noisy groups of sailors doing PT on the beach outside our cottage at 6 am.
One morning, they sang "Good Morning from the U.S. Navy" to us in cadence and tried to recruit Samuel.
(But we just thought that all this added to the beach cottage's charm)

We visited my sister's work:

Yes, it's a big aircraft, and yes, my sister flies it.

Future flight attendant?  Nah...pilot!

Annie was disappointed because she thought we were actually going to fly somewhere.

The beach, the views, the fun, and the feeling of adventure and patriotism watching the US Navy at work...this sign at the Navy Lodge sums up the experience we had at the beach cottage.

The kids are already begging to go back!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gamma!

Today is Gamma's birthday, so we compiled a bunch of reasons that we love her, besides that fact that she is Gamma (and Mom and Mother-in-law and friend).

She comes to visit us wherever we live...
On her most recent visit, just a few days ago and we're already missing her
She makes an afternoon at the beach a special memory...

She listens and is a good sport when we try to do something special as a family, even if it involves eating weird food.
(Unlike Sam, who appears to be taking a little nap while his daddy talks about the significance of Easter.)

We like to celebrate birthdays and holidays with her, and she always lets us decorate things the way we want.

Pa J's birthday
Evan's 1st birthday in Kansas City
Evan's "Marsh the Mallows" 4th birthday
Thanksgiving in Tucson
We think she is beautiful, especially when we're all dressed up for a special wedding!

Aunt Stacey's wedding in Atlanta
We love her crazy family so much! We are blessed with another Grandma (great Grandma) and Papa and lots of aunts and uncles on her side!
The Atlanta cousins
Gamma's parents, Papa and Grandma

She always reads us books...
But is never too busy to pause and give us kisses!
She is supportive and kind to her daughter-in-law, even though I'm sure she doesn't always understand her...

And of course, she's been around for each of our 3 little kids' births!

With Annie, the day after she and Pa J were with Sam when he announced to the entire restaurant in Flagstaff that his little sister had been born.

She lets us climb on her furniture...
She takes silly pictures with us on her phone...
She lets us sit in the special high chair in her kitchen, where she even has a drawer saved just for us, and she always feeds us our favorite snacks.
And best of all, she gave us baths in the kitchen sink until we were too big.
We love our times with her and we know she treasures family time as much as life itself.
We love the formal times...
...and the informal times where we chat about nonsense on the front porch, just happy to be together.
She takes us to places like the Deer Farm near Williams...

...and does special tasty projects she picks out just for us...

...even when she isn't feeling great.  We sure appreciated that.
So, Happy Birthday, Gamma.  We are looking forward to more memories, more pictures, more holidays, and more special activities as we continue to grow.  You are always in our hearts and welcome in our home.  We love you!!!!