Even though we have lived here for more than 10 years now, there is a whole other life in Savannah that we have yet to really experience. A life on the water, bound by tides and an intimate knowledge of salt creeks, rivers and marshes. We got a taste of that life today when good friends took us boating to Wassaw Island, a coastal barrier island designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. Accessible only by boat, Wassaw is one of many barrier islands I have longed to visit and it did not disappoint. We saw dolphins by the dozens (including two that were jumping straight into the air, completely out of the water – the type of acrobatics I thought you could only experience at Sea World!), found star fish and crabs and jelly fish galore, watched a small shark splashing wildly on the edge of a tidal creek, and found tracks from a bird with feet bigger than Fletcher’s! It was a magical day, made all the more so for being able to share it with friends.
I won’t lie to you. I had a lot of concerns going into the Great American Backyard Campout. I knew R. would still be in Italy, and this would be my first experience camping without him in charge. Would I be able to put up the tent on my own? (I did. Eventually.) Would I be able to start a fire on my own? (I did.) Would it be too sweltering in the tent to get any sleep at all? (It wasn’t.) I was just too nervous to attempt “real” camping on my own – backyard camping seemed the best alternative.
But I have to tell you this: the thing I was not worried about (the house) turned out to be the biggest problem of all. Ok. Not the house exactly, but the stuff inside it. The TV. The video games. Even the legos! Not for the girls – the girls were happy as clams out in the playhouse. But the boys were much harder to keep outside unless there was fire of some sort involved. So, I gave them fire.
The two friends sleeping over with Fletcher initially turned up their noses at the idea of sparklers. When did 7 year olds become too cool and grown up for sparklers? Poor Fletcher seemed really crushed – it was painful to watch because he had been so excited about them just a moment earlier. But when the rest of us went out front to light the sparklers it didn’t take 2 seconds for those too cool boys to join in the fun – I mean, who doesn’t love a good sparkler, right?
In the end I think everyone had a great time, and we raised some money for the National Wildlife Federation to boot! Sleeping in the tent was perfect for a sleepover. The boys are old enough to sleep back there without an adult now, and I think that will be much more fun for everyone involved! Plus, the tent is still up days after the camp out and has served as staging ground for all sorts of games with the neighbors – castles and knights, dragons and princesses galore!
For my money, the next time I sleep under the stars I hope it is real camping under the stars and not quite so close to a streetlight . . . especially now that I know I can pull it off on my own if I need to.
There are some toys that stand the test of time and some that, well, don’t. This isn’t news to anyone. Ask most parents and they will tell you their homes are overflowing with plastic junk that their kids begged for and yet never play with.
Around our house we have really been making an effort (for all of us, not just the kids – especially me) to focus on what is most important, the things we will use and love for the longest period of time, the things that will really make our lives better. When it comes to toys, I don’t think there is anything requiring batteries that falls into that category. The things that get the most play in our house? Books. Legos. Paper and scissors and tape. And Daddy’s 30 year old Star Wars toys.
This made it hard at Christmas, when I was doing my best to keep grandparents and aunts and uncles from spending their hard-earned money on things we really didn’t want or need.I was so happy when I discovered a set of tiny fairies and fairy houses – I was sure Lola Gray would love them. The “girl” equivilent of those Star Wars figures. And she was thrilled when she opened them on Christmas morning. We found a spot for them in the backyard by the fairy tree . . . . and there they sat. Alone and unplayed with – until this week. Perhaps it was the hint of spring in the air that turned my girl’s thoughts to fairies? Who knows. All I can say is that Thursday afternoon I sent her out to look for eggs and an hour later discovered this scene in the back yard:
The fairies were talking to each other and singing and dancing. They visited each other’s houses. They went for a ride in the dump truck. I had to collect the eggs myself.
I can’t say I was thrilled with how dirty she got – she was accepting an award at our school PTA meeting a mere hour after these photos were taken. But really, who cares? This is what it’s all about. Long, lazy afternoons playing in the dirt. No batteries required.
Yes, I kow the calendar says it is January. But the weather says Spring; no questions. The camellias are in full flower and trees are starting to bloom. I imagine the azalea won’t be far behind. The air is warm and sweet. As much as I think I miss snow . . . it is hard to argue with this.
Yesterday the children and I spent much of the day outside. I pushed them on the swings, we played in the garden, I read a magazine while they played in the playhouse. A little yellow butterfly, one that has made several apperances in recent days, danced around the yard for a very long time. We are pretty sure it is really a fairy trying to get in to the fairy door on our tree.
The first few weeks of a new school term are always a bit hard for me. Getting back into a routine is a good thing . . . but I find it so painful to walk out that door in the mornings. I wish every day could be spent chasing fairies in the back yard! I just need to remind myself how lucky I am to step between two worlds – both working mother and stay-at-home mother. And while it sometimes makes it feel like I am not fully a part of either world, I know it is absolutely the best situation to be in right now.
I have to work today. But we can chase fairies again tomorrow.
It’s amazing what an hour at the playground can do to change one’s state of mind. Not just for the children, but for me too. Maybe especially for me.
It is almost 80 degrees here in Savannah. Not exactly Christmasy weather. It is frustrating to me sometimes . . . . but it’s hard to complain when the children can run under bright blue skies without so much as a jacket or hat in sight. In fact, Fletcher was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt today and worked up a bit of a sweat! (His cheeks get bright pink when he is hot – adorable.)
We played on the swings for a while, Fletcher finding shapes in the clouds and Lola Gray fluttering like a fairy. I remember that feeling of flying . . .
Friends arrived after a while. The boys drew maps with sticks in the sand. They climbed trees. They had a very physical wrestling match that I was sure would end in tears (or a trip to the emergency room) but didn’t. Everyone went home tired and ready for dinner.
And while we were out playing, it was easier to breathe. I got to talk to my girlfriend a bit – something I am increasingly realizing can not be underestimated. But when I wasn’t talking (venting) I was watching my children’s smiles, I was pushing swings, soaking up sunshine, breathing clean air. And I came home happier than I left. That’s saying something. I could have done without the disapproving (ok – disgusted) look from another mother when Lola Gray picked her fallen cracker out of the dirt and popped it into her mouth – I mean come on! It was HER cracker and it had only just hit the gound! – but all in all it was just what we all needed.
Maybe we need to go to the playground more often.