Summer Vacation

We are back from our summer vacation, also known as our last hoorah before school begins in one week! This time away was much needed for all of us. It was good to scoot out of town and away from home following having to put our Gigi down.  Leaving allowed us to separate ourselves from that hard decision and start healing from the loss.

If you follow on Instagram you’ve seen these, but indulge me to show some scenes of our time here as well. My in-laws live in North Port, Florida inside Sarasota County. They are so close to some truly beautiful beaches like Siesta Key, which is the biggest beach I have ever seen.

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My favorite of all the beaches is Gasparilla Island in Boca Grande. You may have heard me mention it before. It’s a quaint little barrier island with low numbers of visitors, essentially perfect in that respect. While it’s fun to visit other beaches, I’m always drawn right back to Gasparilla.

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Can you see the difference between the top two Gasparilla images and the bottom two of Siesta Key? Gasparilla is just paradise, to me. The shallow waters are teeming with fish, and even sweet manatee who swam along the shore all day long. The kids were able to snorkel alongside the manatee for up close encounters…but without touching them, per the law.

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We also enjoyed the pool at the grandparents’ house. We jokingly bought our daughter the dolphin float when she requested swimming with the dolphins for her birthday. Little did she know that she would receive a free gift of swimming with manatee instead. Such a beautiful gift from the Lord!

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See where my daughter is standing? The manatee swam in that depth of water right by our feet near that rock outcrop. Of course, my phone was put away when that happened. We were able to look right down and see the huge bodies. Their noses were so cutely covered in barnacles. It was so fun to watch them swim circles around the pier and the beach every thirty minutes or so. Each time the kids grabbed a mask and swam with them. I do have a little video clip on my IG account @kim_littlebylittle of one encounter with the manatee.

The beach is pretty much filled with shark teeth, though, which means what you think it means. There are shark swimming along Gasparilla pass on the other side of the island. So you do need to be watchful and stay out of the waters flowing with the current. We stayed in standing areas only on the other side of the pass.

The waters are amazing. They were delightfully warm and clear.

It’s a fun treat to lunch at South Beach on the right side of the pier and rocks. It’s becoming a tradition for us. The town of Gasparilla is filled with gorgeous homes, restaurants, cute shops, and even has a Pikachu near 1st street for Pokemon Go players. I caught mine!

I definitely recommend this destination for beach goers, but I do hope it stays just as quaint and idyllic as it is now.

Linking up with Good.Random.Fun. this Monday morning!

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Summer Vibes

I’m trying to absorb as much summer as I can right now. I just looked at the calendar and we have 3 weeks and 6 days until the first day of school.

I’m kind of hitting that end of summer panic mode, the one where I realize I’m just not ready to get back into the swing of a school schedule. I’ve ordered curriculum, we’ve been supply shopping, and we’ve started cleaning up the school room. But, I’m holding on to summer as long as I can.

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I’ve been peaching. Trying new coffee houses. Scoring new colorful pens. Enjoying snow cones by the pool.

I’ve climbed more stairs than ever before at Tallulah Gorge in North Georgia. There was over 1000 steps (as in stair steps) involved to see these breath-taking views. Jasper was ready for a rest. My legs are still aching. We rewarded ourselves with fresh strawberry-peach ice cream on the way home as we stopped once again at a nearby farmer’s market.

We aren’t closing out summer just yet. We’ve a little more fun and relaxation on the schedule before school begins in earnest once again.

Linking up with Random-osity!

 

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Cherokee

I didn’t mean to disappear for over a week. You may remember that my kids and I traveled to Cherokee, NC to participate in a trip to serve the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina. The internet was bad, very bad. So, I was not able to blog or check in. In fact, I pretty much used up our monthly data just to check in briefly on my phone.

However, our trip was good, very good.

I’m not sure how to talk about it here. I want to be careful to keep the dignity of others in tact. I’m not sure how much you may know about the lives of the people of Cherokee, but I want to speak of those concerns with grace. I’m still figuring that out a bit. I’ll share more this week.

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Cherokee is in The Great Smokey Mountains. Aptly named.

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There is a good deal of touristy type things along some stretches of roads, but there are also some great museums that tell the story of the Cherokee. I wish I could have visited those. I hear the Cherokee have a drama that is really well done and tells their story.

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We stayed on the “reservation” and I was in awe of the beauty of the land. With the exception of a few areas of shopping and tourism, the land is just gorgeous this time of year.

The Cherokee reside in the Qualla Boundary which is roughly 82.6 sq miles and is not truly a reservation, but a land trust governed by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Our church has served the people here for 18 years of summer trips. There are generational connections and relationship that have been built in those 18 years and both sides greatly look forward to the week spent together. It was so good to go and photograph the trip and just be a learner.

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We spent the week with babies, kids, teens, young mothers, and older mothers who have brought their kids in those very first years, and are now bringing their grandkids. It was such a sweet time.

The Cherokee kids love painting rocks, and the day began this way every day. What a joy it was to spend a week with new friends.

More on that later…

Linking up with Randomosity!

 

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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday! I think we are starting to settle in to our summer groove. I usually take a full week between school’s end and really delving in to summer to get my life straight. This year it was all about decluttering, a sort of refresher for the home after a year of being on the go. It feels so great to have aired out the home, so to speak.

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And we brought some life back to our backyard. Memorial Day weekend had the whole family out weeding, mulching, and potting flowers. I love bringing some life back to our dull post winter yard each year. We have several tomato plants in the ground and that, besides our berry bushes, will be the only vegetables we plant this year. They are pretty much the only veggie with any sort of success rate around here. And by here, I mean with us. We are a bit brown and green with the thumbs. You just never know…

How was your Memorial Day weekend?


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Little Things Thursday

This spring has been all about finding the little things in life that bring joy.  Spring has been exceptionally pretty and restorative to me this year.

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Finding beauty and life right around me has kept my perspective from tanking in the harder moments of life. And there have been a few stressful days.  Overall, I’ve been encouraged by the prospects of things to come in the months ahead. In someways it feels like a turning of the tide. Some call it HOPE! I think I’m calling it GRACE.

It doesn’t hurt that summer is just two weeks away… Oh the bliss of slow mornings and relaxed days.


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Little Things Thursday

Happy Little Things Thursday! Hope you guys are having a great week. The weather is looking up here as we finally hit the 80’s and I think those temps may be here to stay!

In other words…basically summer. I couldn’t be happier about that.

In summer’s honor, beach photographs!

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I love these idyllic images that I can go back to when I need a little escape from reality, which may not be too far off in the end of the school year rush. 4 weeks til summer!

What are you shooting this week?


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday, where we share our little moments of life through image and words. This week has been all about catching up and getting back into routines since spring break. Needless to say, I’m behind on last week’s blog entries. But. I will be going back to visit soon!

I still have a slew of photographs to edit this weekend from our trip. I’m looking forward to revisiting those shots because it has been gray and chilly here most of the week. Warm, sunny beaches are far better, in my opinion.

I’ve edited just one personal photograph.

Our family had just visited a replica exhibit on the water of the ships Nina and Pinta. We were surprised at how small they actually were. Afterwards, we drove over to Peace River Wildlife Center and found these mangroves. It’s funny because these beaches are what I would expect Columbus an his gang to wash up on. They just have that look. Or maybe caskets of rum and pirates, whichever.

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The mangroves and quite beach nooks were serene and so enjoyable to explore. I have several photographs from our walk through this area, coming up soon!

How’s your week been?


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Florida Filled

We are back from spring break with full tanks and hearts. We desperately needed every ounce of this trip.

You know those times where you feel like you are living on just fumes? That was us. The last year has been a season of pillar to post living.

We needed extended down time where we could truly relax and not think about anything else other than enjoying time with family. My husband’s family was so gracious to love on us well, and show us a great week. We realized, at some point, that this was our very first spring break vacation as a family. We are fans!

I documented the highlights on Instagram. I tried to tone down the volume of posts, but I gave myself permission to just enjoy capturing for the sake of loving to freeze moments.

 

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Gasparilla Island State Park in Boca Grande is my new favorite Florida beach. Bea-u-ti-ful. The water is gorgeous and the beaches are densely filled with shells and shark’s teeth to the delight of my kids.

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Exploring Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda was another favorite. The mangroves here are impressive and there are little private nooks to enjoy along the coast.  We had the little cove above to ourselves. The kids hunted for crabs, which were plentiful among the mangrove roots.

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We loved Gasparilla so much that we decided to close out our time with a third visit. The boys had spent a few mornings on their grandpa’s fishing boat while we ladies enjoyed these beautiful beaches without them, so we knew we had to let them experience Gasparilla before leaving. We informed them that they could fish AND enjoy the beach, so poles were packed. Jack caught a Jack (Pompano) roughly minutes after casting the first line. Human Jack is now a fan of fishing off the beach and vows to never go to the beach again without a rod. Fish Jack lived to see another day, due to being caught on our last day and not having adequate cooler space to keep him fresh. Under other circumstances he would be dinner.

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The days were filled with good food, beaches, shark teeth hunting, shell collecting, wading, boogie boarding, fishing, morning and evening swims in the grandparent’s pool, and more! The days were full, but restful. We are thankful that we were invited to come take up space for the week with family. Thankful are we for these memories that our three will carry with them. There is nothing quite like remembering childhood family vacations.

Of course, I have other images on my real camera coming up soon! Thanks for sharing the joy of our experiences!

Linking with Good.Random.Fun.

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Serenbe Part 1

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…

This year I’m on a quest to recreate more.  It seems that duty of life can take all of life if one is not careful. And I’m often not careful to guard my own tank.

As a creative, I am seeing more and more that recreation is one of the timbers in the fire of art. So, we scooped up the kids on Saturday and headed to Serenbe.

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Serenbe is a small community in the Chattahoochee Foothills where farm, eco-living meets creative arts. I guess. I’m not sure how to describe it. You have to experience it.

At The Farmhouse and Inn we found an in-ground trampoline where we stopped for a jump before heading to see the animals.

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We found some gorgeous hens and roosters.

And then the goats came out of their pens for a visit. Yep, some are just roaming around to the delight of my kids! No pun intended.

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Everyone now wants goats.

This old gal showed up to butt in.

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We found a couple llamas. This guy/girl, was pretty aloof and kept giving us the side-eye. But…we weren’t put off.

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Hey, ya got a little something in your teeth.

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As we continued on, we stumbled upon an awesome rock maze. After achieving victory, I had them all pose for their album cover.

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We headed off to the next part of Serenbe just a short walk down the dirt road. I’ll share about that next time!

This January day in Georgia was good to us.

Linking with Random-osity, Songography, Black and White Wednesday.

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S’mores

Our family got a little treat this past weekend when my husband’s sister came to town.  It’s been 3 years since she and her husband moved to Texas to take on a new job.  We were excited to spend a little time with them around their camper in a beautiful state park near our home.

Of course, S’mores were called for.

 

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These are a bunch of grainy, low-light images, but still so fun! There is something about fall that makes sitting around the campfire so enjoyable.  The company wasn’t too shabby either. Happy Trails To You…Until We Meet Again.

Linking with Random-osity, Wednesdays Around the World, and Songography.

 

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