Monday, July 29, 2013

The Secret hidden beach treasures

Steven went to Chicago for the weekend as a kick off to my birthday month. The day after the 4th of July festivities he left. He in fact started packing after we got home from the fireworks, silly guy. Sorry my last-minuteness rubbed off on you! 

I'm glad he got to go to Chicago. He and I almost went there for our anniversary a couple of years ago because we love big cities and thought it would be a good place to go without kids so we could cram as much big city life into a short weekend as we could. We have such fond memories of when we did everything we could imagine in NYC except for the carraige ride through Central Park. And we could have done that, we were right there, but we decided that we would save the money and just enjoy the park on foot. I'll go to Chicago some day with Steven but we'll possibly take the kids. Steven got to celebrate Luiz' birthday and meet up with Andre and Barbie at the same time! I took the weekend with Steven away as an opportunity to do some things that he would rather not do. 
We started the first day off with a Cutco knives presentation from one of the youth from the church. Steven would rather not listen to a traveling salesman so I saved him that while giving the opportunity to practice to Kevin. (I didn't buy anything.) Then we went shopping. I bought some accessories for myself for Selene's wedding, Dylan picked out something for his teacher Ms. Wolcott since she had knee surgery, and we got my mom some things for her birthday. 

I got to take a nap that day with Tyler. 
We went to my mom's house since it was actually her birthday weekend and Don was in Texas for Ephraim's 1st birthday party celebrations. We were both husbandless for the weekend. We were going to pick up dinner and go eat it on the beach. Also, I've been wanting to make a video of my kids playing on the beach but photo shoots are not Steven's thing and I really wanted another adult to run after kids so I wouldn't have to choose between saving a kid and my camera. But since it had been a rainy day, I didn't even take my good camera. Instead, I used my cell phone's camera and took pictures through a ziplock bag. We got to my mom's house, and I love that she thinks the same way I do. We didn't need a real dinner - that would take too much beach time! So we ate some protein bars and fruit and were on our way. My mom said we could have treats from the Candy Kitchen for dinner after the beach. 
 Oh my goodness, the beach was exactly the stress-free open beautiful place to be. I loved that we were there as a family. Dylan looked for sea life and worked on perfecting his deep hole and sand circle.

Isaac bounded from rock to sand to puddle to wave in search of treasures.

Tyler happily alternated getting in his brothers' business while my mom and I half admired and half played along and half taught.

See, our halves were spilling over and merging and it was one symbiotic smile. I needed the beach and feel like it needed me - too to walk observantly. (Keep reading the long version.) 
 We saw lots of coquina shells. You mostly see the ziplock's glare here though.

 My mom saved some coquinas that Tyler throw by the handful on the rocks.

 I hadn't changed Tyler into his swim diaper or swimsuit because I figured we would just go to the beach and turn around since it had been a rainy day. Luckily the skies cooperated, but Tyler got soaked.

 I took the bag off of my camera for a clearer picture.
 Then Tyler got knocked over so I had to run to get him, thankfully again, I didn't have my big camera to choose between.
 Isaac's treasures. I only let him keep 3. He may have talked me into 4.

When my mom and I were walking side by side from Isaac's end of the beach with the skim boarders who were hurdling the ropes to Dylan's side who was hurdling the waves, I saw something in the sand. It kind of looked gross and slimey like the texture of a jelly fish. It had to be some animal from around there that had gotten itself beached because it appeared that evolution had created it to chamelionize into the exact color of the wet sand. I touched it with my toe and it then seemed like a shoe lace. I figured I'd find a shoe at the other end so curiously pulled the heavy string up. And on the other end was a sun-bleached red camera!! It was dripping with sandy salt water. As any kid would, I asked my mom what I should do! She was speechless. I looked around. Nobody was combing the sand for lost items. I thought it must have been from the day before's 4th of July tourists. I wondered if I should leave it on one of the posts there. But I decided that it would just end up in the trash or in an Isaac trinket collection. So I took it home. We washed it off in the showers and I forgot about it until at about 1am. 
We walked across the street to the Candy Kitchen. My dang mom paid for us. I do appreciate it, but it was HER birthday weekend. She's the best kind of mom to have. I think I got the good qualities that I have from her and my guilt for not living up to my potential from her b/c my potential is hers and she does live up to hers. 
At home, we took quick baths and got the kids in bed but it was pretty late, almost 10pm. That's when my friend came over! Another thing Steven would feel awkward about if he had been here. He would have wanted the house to be spotless and he wouldn't know if he should be watching TV away from us or if he should be in bed or what. So we talked Photoshop! I hadn't planned any particular lesson and I'm kicking myself for not asking exactly what my friend would have wanted to see or helping her more, but I just edited a couple of pictures the way I normally do. She stayed for a couple of hours and we talked and edited. I had fun and love that we got to do that! Then I remembered about that camera. I tried to open the front. It had too much sand in it so I didn't bother. I tried to open the hatch but those hinges had sand in them too so I sort of had to break it a little I'm afraid. I figured the camera was shot but I wanted to see if I recognized anyone in the pictures. I really didn't think I would, but I had a good feeling that somebody in my list of Facebook friends or those 6 degrees of separation would be able to locate the owner. 

So my quest began. I opened the hatch on the camera just enough to extract the camera card. I plugged it into my computer and went through the 332 pictures. The people looked like they were so fun! They were wake boarders, went to an Oyster festival, and were related to or served with somebody in the Navy. I first looked up the name of the person on the retirement cake.
 I found his LinkedIn account and sent him a friend request saying that I found a camera and would like to return the images. I really thought that was a long shot b/c I rarely open my LinkedIn emails and even if I do, it's just after I get enough requests in a row (like once/month that I go see if I know the person and if they have a familiar face. I ignore the SPAM people. I don't read those generic "I'd like to add you to my professional contacts" messages. But there was no way to message or email him directly unless we were friends or I paid to upgrade. 
So I switched to Facebook and I went ahead and put some group pictures up asking my friends if they recognized anyone.
And I said a prayer. I had a pretty good feeling but felt like I could do more.
I kept going through the pictures and saw that they were staying in a place right on the beach and one room had a big Marlin on the wall. I figured that could narrow it down so I put that up on Facebook but put black bars over the little girls' faces to protect their identity. And my friend from dental hygiene school named that hotel! She recognized the guest book logo on the coffee table. I had tried to decipher it myself but couldn't. So I called the place right then!! The person answering the phone was SO rude to me because she was there after she should have gone home. She didn't even sound like she'd leave a message for the manager because she already had "a list of other issues" to give to him. Why would she tell me that first of all? I'm never staying in that place. I appreciated that she would not give me the guest's information but she would not call them to give them mine! Grrrrrrr. She did tell me that somebody had checked in that day so I knew that the guests were already back in California or some other part of their vacation b/c I was ready to go drive teh 10-15 min over to knock on that room number she had given me of the Marlin room. Instead, since they had checked out, I wrote on that hotel's Facebook page in case the camera owners would check that. 
The next day, Steven was on the case. He of course found the LinkedIn account. Facebook friends and I had already found the retired veteran's profile on the Navy website but I didn't want to call the Navy just yet. I also tried looking up the boat's owners by the boat's registration number but couldn't figure that out. I did notice that the boat was in California because I looked up the boat ramp state park. And I looked up the dates of Oyster Fests and there was one in San Diego on the date the picture was taken. All of this information was just useless though. Until Steven looked up people who he thought were related to the Navy Veteran. I messaged a couple of them through Facebook. Steven looked up some addresses too but we trusted Facebook to be faster than snail mail. 
The next day, I got a LinkedIn message from the veteran himself with the camera owners' boyfriend's name and cell phone number AND a Facebook comment under a picture that somebody knew the camera's owner too!! Later that day, I got a call from whoever's number was left with the hotel they all stayed in too!!! She was related to the camera owner. So on my lunch break, I called my new friend Rafael and I told him the story of his camera that traveled north on the beach from his hotel quite a ways. He told me that it was a waterproof camera so his girlfriend showed off in the waves to make her friends/family nervous and a wave took it away. She willed the ocean to bring her camera back to her and she said that because of the book "the Secret," it worked! I told her that positiveness AND prayer work. The camera card was encapsulated because it was a waterproof camera and had been kept safe too. He asked me to go ahead and send the camera too and not just the card because he wanted to see the pink camera in all of its glory. I took a picture of it before I sent it and put the card and battery in tiny ziplock bags so they would stay safe from the sand. Steven told me to save the pictures to my computer because that cameras's luck was about out. So I did. But I took pictures of the camera because it is amazing. See how the sand and cord match? The card has Rafael's last name on it, but that wasn't enough contact info so I didn't even use that in my search. Both LinkedIn AND Facebook worked!!! I got contacted through LinkedIn, Facebook, and a phone call b/c the hotel finally called the people. That should have been the most direct link but that dang hotel took too long. Isn't that funny? 

I got another call on my way to the beach the Friday after this trip from Rafael and his girlfriend telling me that not only did they get the camera in the mail, but that after vaccuuming the heck out of it, it works!!!! Without knowing I took a picture of it, they also took a picture on a black surface to show the sand. I love that they wrote in the sand:) WOW!
Amazing. I know that if I lost my camera, I would sure hope that somebody would try that hard to get my memories back to me too. I'm just so happy that they can have their pictures back! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Oh thank heaven for 7-11

On July eleventh, 7-Eleven stores give away free small slurpees. After work i took my little guys to slosh through the melted purplish brown puddle on the convenient store's floor to one-handedly dispense the classic summertime slushy beverage with the other moms who also had babies on their hips. Vicki crew was one of the brave moms. How fun that she happened to pull up with her 4 grandkids at the same time! I did not get a picture with those crew kids because we got the heck outta there. Chaos!

I used to like slurpees more and crave them each spring on the first hot day. Now, the thought of unloading kids to get them a cup of staining fake juice with a too tall straw that is meant to scoop the bright red slippery stuff in and out back and forth across laps or shirts at least is horrifying. And where am I to have the kids eat them? In the car? With lids that have a humungus hole in the top? With those too tall straws that are meant to drip in and out of that lid repeatedly? Making that huge hole in the top of the lid actually seem too small? So then those pesky lids pop off and are forgotten in their own self-un-contained mini-puddles? I think not! So once a year is good enough for me. Although I should probably pay and avoid the free messes day!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dear Tyler, You are 22 months old!

Dear Tyler, 
You are amazing. You are smart, silly, observant, cute, and a bit spoiled. You talk all the time. You have full conversations and speak fairly clearly. You learned the word "blankie" from Ivy. Neither of you pronounce its L sound. You used to only sign for it. I know you got that pronounciation from her because we pronounce it, blanket. Dylan used to call his a "laylet. She picked up "ooh ooh" in place of "monkey" from you. I like how you say "goose" for juice and "pam pah" for your grandpa. You love him so much and like your routine of requesting his "hapi-coptuh" when you find him. You love your "Gamah" and are still singing happy birthday to her. My favorite thing is how you clearly automatically reply "thank you mama" when i do something you appreciate. 

You discovered running and hiding in clothes racks. Dylan gets so worried about the whole situation and wishes for a short leash I am sure. 
You are so happy to discover and "nun" (run.) It is really a fun game to you. You laugh and look back over your shoulder. 
When it is time to stay by my side, you practice self control but ask repeatedly to run. We were waiting in line after you held my fingers up to the front of the store and I loved how you, my little runner, asked to switch and hold your big brother's hand. 
You are a self starter and take the initiative to push chairs where they need to be to help yourself reach things. Today you climbed up, took my little camera and ordered the fruit, "[say] cheeeese onge. Cheeeeeese appow. Cheeeese banana."
Once upstairs, you give good kisses.
You are in a "watch me" phase. You climb and slide and try to jump all the time. You have done the "look mana, no hands!" tricks. 
You can sort of swim now. Scary.  I love summer time. Late bed times, sleeping in, field trips, all of my beach trips, time to read, I am so happy. I love you my boo boo baby b boy. 

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Last Day of Vacation (draft by Steven and finally just posted w/o words 2/10/14)

June 16th: After a few days in Key West, it was time for the long drive home.  Before leaving, we decided to meet at the Southernmost Point bright and early to take some photos.  If you go to the Southernmost point any other time, there is usually a very long line just to take a photo in front of it.