It's hard with a smaller homeschool group because you want to have enough people to make it worth the effort, and also to just have enough moms to supervise kids if one has to go to the bathroom or something! Well, the night before I heard from one other mom that she'd be coming with her seven children. So we were set with our original plan to spend Friday morning there. We ended up being there from about 10am-3pm!
The kids were up bright and early setting out clothes and swimsuits, making lunches, and getting ready. I am so grateful that my big girls can be so helpful for things like this, otherwise they wouldn't happen! It's hard just to find shoes for everyone and get the baby settled enough to leave the house, so if you add in packing lunches and a May Crowning, I'd be in over my head without their assistance.
We drove out to the "bay beach," (Rockport Beach Park) which is a good 40 minute drive, but is much safer and convenient for moms to handle without the dads (two moms brought a grandma-helper though). The water is shallow for a very long ways, with no undertow, and they have wooden umbrellas and covered picnic tables to use. I wanted to visit before school let out, and it was a great choice since there was hardly anyone there!
It was great for me, because the kids can all play independently. Our oldest three are on swim team this summer, and Steven is getting better every day! Thomas wore his puddle jumper life jacket and was content to play in the water most of the time. Ellie got a horrible sunburn after she and Mary Clare applied her sunscreen twice. This happens every summer to Ellie; her skin is the fairest and I need to insist that I do the sunscreen application for the first few beach and pool visits. Next summer will be much harder with a little toddler at the pool and beach, so I'll enjoy this summer hanging with the baby in the shade!
I'm still learning the settings on my camera with the new lens. The kids faces are so dark in many of these! Katie was a bit unhappy with the whole beach outing. She doesn't care for the wind, and especially doesn't like nursing when it's windy. I finally put her in the Moby wrap and she stayed in there for most of the time. There was a swarm of love bugs during most of our visit, which was another interesting part of the day.
I've shared a bit in various posts, but it is looking like this will be our last summer here by the coast. We plan to move back to our home in the Houston area in a few months, so this summer will be filled with lots of trips to the beach. We will miss being able to make a quick seaside trip whenever we want. It will be more like two hours to get to a beach when we move. But I'll trade the beach for our family and close friends any day!
This has been 2 1/2 years (nearly 3 when we move) of "retreat" for our family. We've grown together in many ways. We've been challenged in many ways. I've tried to approach our move here with the attitude of "blooming where planted" in hopes that we would be able to make it home. But it just never quite happened. We love our house and our ability to host friends and family and share the great things about Corpus Christi with them. We love the slower lifestyle that this city offers.
We have made many friends here, and have a nice little church community. But my heart was never able to settle here, as much as I tried. I had been hopeful when we moved here that it would be a temporary move, but Steven was hoping we would stay long-term. In the end, for the new roles he will fill within his company, it will be better for him to be in Houston. He will also be traveling quite a bit, so living near family and close friends will be important.
We've spent the past few months pondering what to do about the housing situation. The market is hot for selling but very hard for buyers, especially where we're going. We even went and looked at a house during our last Houston visit, which was a major fixer-upper and not what we expected. After lots of prayer and discernment, we're pretty confident that the best course of action is to move back into our old home there (once the renters move out) and renovate a bit to meet our needs. Then we will see if we want to stay there long-term or just for a few years until the market settles down.
The kids are excited to be back near friends and family. And even though the house is smaller and older, they are thrilled to move back to our old house. The girls will love going back to their old dance studio, and the boys will have lots of friends and cousins to play with. Thomas is most excited that grocery stores there tend to have more "car carts" than the ones here in Corpus. It's the little things!
So we will treasure these final months here in Corpus Christi, "the Body of Christ," and try to do all the things we have wanted to do, and visit the places we've wanted to see. Hopefully our "retreat" here will bear much fruit, giving us a different outlook on life, on simplicity, on the tremendous blessings we have been given. There will be a lot of changes in our family as we move back home. We have a new baby, a new homeschool curriculum, children who are older, and parents who are hopefully much wiser :) Please say a prayer for us as we prepare for this transition, especially for all the housing things to fall into place (the renters finding a home, us doing renovations, and selling our home here).
So here are the photos of the crowning. The kids brought flowers from home and we prayed the Angelus together. Then we sang "Immaculate Mary" and the kids processed up to the statue (brought from our backyard) to lay their flowers at Our Lady's feet.
We had two children who'd made their First Communion this year, but this little boy was the only one who wanted to place the crown. Mary Clare had made a beautiful braided crown the night before, and had made a lovely pillow last year, but sadly we forgot them at home that morning! So I twisted some flowers together for the crown.
I hope we can coordinate or attend a May Crowning every year. May was the month that Steven and I met, the month we consecrated ourselves to Our Lady, and the month we were engaged. Mary has watched over us in our marriage and in our family. She has been a model of motherhood for me, and the perfect mother for our children. We are so grateful for her intercession.
Back to the adorable kids on the beautiful beach. Here's Katie in her first little swimsuit, a gift from friends. The 11yr old swimsuits passed down from her big sisters are a little crusty!
The first time I took her by the water and dipped her toes in, she screamed. Mary Clare was ready to try again...
The girls were so happy for her to join them in the water! I love their faces!
She didn't scream this time when they poured some water on her and dipped her feet. Poor baby did end up with a bit of sunburn on her head and face, though. Next purchase needs to be a small sun hat for her!
Biggest sis and littlest sis. It's looking like maybe she will have light brown hair like Mary Clare.
The boogie board got lots of use on this trip. Thomas really surprised me with his independence. Last summer he just played at my feet with no interest in the water.
Thanks to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, who always looks over us like a loving mother does. She covers us in her mantle of peace, and leads us ever closer to her Son. As she said at the Wedding Feast at Cana, she continues to tell us to "Do Whatever He Tells You." May we always do what Jesus says...love Him and keep His commandments, and may we honor His Mother just as He did.