starfish

Time to Say Goodbye to Summer

It’s Friday at twilight and Jimmy has just brought in the chairs and umbrella. It is our last full day at the beach and we intended to spend most of it outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather and soaking up every minute we could. We went in for lunch, decided to have a short quiet time and next thing I knew, the boys were napping. It happens rarely these days, so I let it continue; the result was that we forfeited the rest of our afternoon outside.

It’s OK. We’ve had a great time, spending hours each day outside, taking evening walks and relaxing. I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. Some of it is due to the usual angst of leaving the beach and ending vacation, especially when we won’t be back for 10 months.

Most of it is due to my worry that we didn’t maximize our time here; you know, sucking the marrow out of our beach week and all that. We didn’t play in the water as much as we would have liked. We didn’t collect as many shells. We didn’t spend as many evenings chatting into the wee hours while the ocean breezes blew. The truth is, we were tired. It has been a busy summer of work projects, home projects and camp, and I think the three of us were relieved to sit (the adults) and dig in the sand (Daniel).

The end of this trip also symbolizes the end of summer. School will start in a little over a week and we will have a kindergartener. Our lives will begin to revolve around a calendar again; June and August will take on significance beyond “summer” and “hot” as “school” creeps in and takes over.

Time passes and all that.

Maybe I should focus on all the things we did do. Daniel had ice cream every night. He tried crab cake and lobster bisque (sadly rejecting both). Jimmy found a sandwich he loved (a bigger deal than it sounds for my sandwich-rejecting men). We added 6 new starfish and a clamshell to our starfish family. We ended each day sandy, salty and tired. It was a good week.

Now it’s time to pack up and go home. Wash the beach clothes and start organizing the back-to-school items. And maybe one day when the nights are crisp, I’ll put on a shirt I wore at the beach, inhale the scent of the beach and find myself back here.

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Happy Place

By last weekend, we were counting down the minutes to beach trip #1. Sunday finally arrived and we were on our way. Great weather so far, and we’re having a great time. Daniel has already “found” three starfish, and Jimmy and I have loved sitting outside and talking until the stars came out. We’ve also spotted Mars & Saturn. It truly is our happy place and we are thrilled we are able to return in two months.

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Our Growing Starfish Problem

It started so innocently.

A few months ago, we implemented a behavior chart to work on some issues we were having.  Daniel’s first reward for earning a certain number of stars (30) was the return of his train table, removed to our upstairs bonus room due to repeated bad behavior. Ask me how much I enjoy carrying that table upstairs and back down again while managing not to destroy it, fall down the stairs or curse out my husband.

behavior chart

The Behavior Chart

We needed a reward for the times when the train table had not been removed though.  Something simple.  One reward was a train we had set aside from the holidays.  Another reward was a new book.  About the same time, Daniel’s day care class studied the ocean and ocean creatures, and he became infatuated with starfish.  Charmed, we found a stuffed starfish on Amazon and that became another reward for reaching 30 stars.

Pleased with his new starfish, Daniel requested another one.  A purple one specifically (it’s his favorite color).  The frantic Googling began. We found a dog toy.  A cat toy stuffed with cat nip.  Um, no. Amazon let us down that time, so I turned to the next logical source: Etsy.

Unsurprisingly, there were several stores hawking stuffed starfish.  I scrutinized each one for suitability, vetoing all of them except one store. He made stuffed sea creatures, including hats and Christmas tree ornaments.  He had adorable mini starfish. He didn’t have one in purple, but I messaged him, and he said he could do it.  He emailed me color samples. We ordered three: one in the desired purple and two more in blue and red for back up.  It was easy.  We had the new starfish a few days later.

Daniel was thrilled with his new purple starfish and named him “Flynn.”  As we had suspected, he asked for more starfish.  Pleased with ourselves for ordering two more, we rewarded him with each one as he reached 30 stars on his chart. Eventually, we had Mommy Starfish and 3 baby starfish.

Then he asked for more starfish in different colors.  I returned to my dealer and ordered 3 more in green, orange and yellow. In due time, Daniel was rewarded with those three as well. Now we had 6 baby starfish and 1 mommy starfish.  Daniel made up a language for them, and they speak in a high-pitched, shrill voice.  Last night I told Jimmy that “this is what it sounds like when starfish cry.”

Daniel soon asked for another starfish, in white this time.  Again, we decided it was better to buy in bulk and I returned to my dealer to buy neutrals this time: white, gray and tan.  Last week, Casper the white starfish joined our family.  Last night, Mavis the gray starfish joined.  We have one more to go.

I’m afraid we’re running out of colors. I envision starfish covering his bed, lounging in the “ocean” as he calls the blue blanket on his bed.

Starfish are kind of creepy.  Thanks to our new starfish book, I learned they have no eyes or nose and only a mouth.  They surround their prey and pry open its shell to eat it. They regenerate their arms when they lose one (that’s been fun to explain to Daniel.  We hope he doesn’t attempt to observe it by removing one of his starfish’s arms).  They seem to be the definition of form over function.

But Daniel loves them.  Apparently Mommy Starfish mated with Daddy Whale to produce them.  He takes one or two to day care with him every day.  They make him happy.  So we put up with our increasing starfish population, and I’m grateful to have a dealer in California who can make and ship them quickly.

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Our burgeoning starfish colony minus the newest one. So cute, aren’t they?

Now, for a few links:

Now I have to figure out what I’m serving with lamb for Easter tomorrow.  Any ideas? I’d like to do something different from what I usually do, but I suspect it will end up being green beans of some sort, garlic-rosemary mashed potatoes and something else.  We are creatures of habit.

PS: I’m feeling a lot better about the work situation this week.  I think it will be OK, and I’m starting to feel excited about the possibilities.  Change is hard and sucks, but we’re all working hard to make sure we are still able to collaborate. I feel a wee bit less diminished than I did. At least this week.

Have a great Easter!