At least for a few days, we could step outside on the deck to watch and listen as the waves battered the shore. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with good friends. We had silly adventures and shared lots of laughs.
Nikki, Andrew, Nia and Nate rented a beach house on Tybee for a week, and we were able to join them for the holiday weekend. I had been looking forward to this get-together for so long – not just because I love being near the ocean, but because I needed to spend time with my great friends again.
And it’s a good thing we all get along, because the weather didn’t cooperate at first and kept us cooped up inside. Friday night a terrible storm arrived and sat on top of us for 2 days. The rain pelted the windows like a hammer all night, accompanied by loud and angry thunder and lightening. Saturday morning Camille rose bright and early as usual, and I was surprised to find Nikki and Andrew already awake, busy arranging pots beneath the various leaks in the roof.
Between the families, we’d brought plenty of toys, and stayed busy keeping the children out of the pots of dirty rainwater. It’s apparently quite tempting to them when you place big pots on the floor.
It poured and poured, and emergency messages kept flashing on the television warning us that the southern end of Tybee Island was flooding. Which is exactly where we were. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see animals lining up by twos outside.
But the great thing is, it didn’t stop us from having fun. I LOVED watching Camille playing with Nia and Nate and their cousin Ella. She seemed like such a big girl, walking all around the beach house. Nia was especially sweet, telling Camille over and over that she thought she was cute, sweet, and that she loved her. If Camille could have talked, I think she would’ve said the same things back to Nia. Instead, she gave her hugs.
While the babies napped, Nikki and I stared off the porch at the big waves, and couldn’t take it anymore. Like giddy little kids, we put on our swimsuits and ran down to the beach despite the rain in our faces (thankfully the lightening had stopped). The water was warm and the waves were incredible, by usually-placid Tybee standards anyway. We laughed and dove and played, getting smacked around by the waves and feeling like 12 year olds.
Back at the house, the babies woke up and had a snack, and then suddenly – miraculously – the rain ceased. The clouds lingered and the day still looked gloomy, but dry. We suited up the kids, loaded them up in the wagon and headed across the dunes.
We staked out our spot on the sand (lots of other people were arriving too to take advantage of the storm’s intermission) and as soon as Camille’s feet hit the beach, she was ecstatic. She started laughing and walking around with this expression plastered on her face:
Andrew’s parents were visiting as well, and his dad had the fabulous idea of digging out a pool near the ocean in the sand. It filled with water and gave the little ones a place to play without getting chased by the waves. Camille loved wading in and out of the water, smacking the puddle with her shovel, and frustrating the other babies by emptying their buckets of sand.
I was proud of her, watching her interact with the big kids, seeing how beautifully she is growing into a little girl. But she still loves her Mama and Daddy too, for which I am so grateful.
Lee took her into the water to help her jump the waves. I played with her in the sand and helped her dig holes. And my reward was great. Every now and then, she’d stop playing and walk over to me with her arms outstretched. She’d fall into mine, and wrap her arms around my neck in a gigantic hug. In this picture I look like I might eat her, and I think I would have if I could have.
I was also proud of her for the way she handled sleeping and napping. Despite all the excitement, despite new surroundings and not having her crib, she napped beautifully. One afternoon, I laid her down in the pack-n-play, covered her with a blanket, handed her a stuffed puppy, rubbed her forehead and walked away. Moments earlier she’d been laughing and playing, not seeming very sleepy, although I knew she needed to nap. I was prepared for some protest, but heard none. I stood outside the door for a moment, and decided to inch it open to peek inside. I could see her lying there, underneath her blanket, her eyelids growing heavy as she looked at the ceiling, probably thinking about all that fun sand and water. I quietly closed the door and had to stand there a moment to compose myself and keep from crying. It’s hard to explain. She just seemed so … big. So grown up. So un-baby. And while I love Baby Camille, I’m also proud of her un-baby moments too.
One thing that hasn’t changed is her desire to eat sand. She ate so many handfuls of it, most of the time making an awful face, but always going back for more.
Sunday, more rain, but we found plenty of ways to entertain the kids and each other. Monday’s weather couldn’t have been more different – intense blue skies and sunshine. We took Camille to the beach twice, grilled hamburgers, visited with Karen, Brian and Andrew, too, and enjoyed all 3 of the house’s decks. As I stood on one of them, admiring the sun shimmering on the water, I saw a news vehicle from my old station drive by. I remembered how depressing it could be to work on a holiday, doing a story about how much fun everyone else was having. I’d watch the people playing on the beach and wish it were me. And this time, it was. That was a good feeling.
Tuesday morning, we had to get up early to get ready for work and daycare. It was so hard to leave – to say goodbye to the beach, the house, and most of all, the friends. My heart wasn’t in my work that day. I think it was still on vacation.
I realized in looking through my photos, I didn’t get any of the entire Valles family. I wish I had, but at least I have plenty of pictures in my mental memory bank. I miss them already, but I will always treasure the Tybee time we shared.