I walked from the house to the beach each morning by 9:30am with my treasure trove of children, beach chairs, umbrellas, colorful assortment of buckets, rakes and shovels, plenty of snacks, sun hats, sunscreen in 4 different numbers, and towels. I pushed the baby down to the ocean and we plunked ourselves there until naptime at 11:00am or there abouts. Then back to the house for nap, which she easily obliged each time due to copious amounts of playing and sun. Then after a yummy lunch of whatever the men made for dinner the previous night it was back to the ocean where Ava, Grandpa, and the Muffin Man were inevitable still playing beachy games. An hour or two later we moved the mountain of stuff to the neighborhood pool where we languished in bath like water until....happy hour. We flipped an imaginary coin, us adults, and loser got to make the cocktail run back to the house to bring the goodies back to the pool.
Rum and fruity punch tastes so much better while surrounded by H2O. It's a fact, look it up.
When Ava was 18 months we took her to the Carolina Shore. We rented the nice house, bought expensive plane tix, and couldn't wait until we could show our precious little one real ocean and sand and all the fun that comes along with the package. Want to know what she did? She screamed when her tootsies hit the sand. Yucky, she said. Yes, she was talking at 18 months and she truly did say Yucky. Needless to say my expectations were lowered with kidlet number 2's first beachy experience. No worries though, this kid was born on the South China Sea after all. Look at her face, she loved every minute of it. As long as you would let her shovel sand on your freshly Coppertoned body, she was happy to play along.
Ava of course was in her element since large amounts of playtime with larger than life beaches and pools were surrounding her 18 hours a day. She quickly obtained a brand new LBF little best friend named Jordan. I made the snap decision to slip Jordan a $5 bill in return for constant entertainment of Ava. Turns out, she was willing to put in the time for free. Jordan was a generous one. Not only did Jordan have a big brother named Jared, no I do not make this stuff up, but he could catch fish with his bare hands. Houdini, I tell you. Buckets and flower vases lined the shoreline with starfish, pencil fish, wormy things, and small spotted gills by the end of each day. The only competition was the ultra tame but emboldened herons who would follow the children and eat the catch right out of the buckets. Funniest thing watching those indignant children yell and chase those robber baron herons down the beach yelling, "Those are our fish, we worked hard for them."
If you were a heron would you mess with her?
When life got a little too dicey at the beach we would head on over to the marina across the street for manatee fun. The large sea cows would congregate to drink from the natural spring located at the base of the marina. They are federally protected so no petting was allowed. However, they were social and would approach us in mass. They would push their little nostrils up for air every 3 minutes giving us a close up glance at the barnacles on their backs. Truly amazing animals if you ask me. I could have watched and sat with them all day. But then I would be reminded that there were star fish to catch and sea turtle eggs to see. Believe it or not a mother sea turtle came up one night and laid her eggs on the beach right next to where we usually parked our chairs. (Ah, the nerve right?) Then next morning we were greeted by the conservationists yellow tape roping off the federally protected area for the next few months until the eggs would hatch. What were we to do but to Google Florida coastal sea turtles to see when the eggs might hatch. Not for another few months.
As you can tell, Captiva delivered and a good time was had by all. A special thank you to my father who truly made this break in our normally scheduled chaotic existence a reality for us. Now we are home. For me it is in body only. My soul is still at the ocean. Swaying gently in the breeze and calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
I leave you with my favorite memory and sight of last week.
Two of the cutest kids in the world, without a care in the world, surrounded by paradise.