Five years later, things look a little different. I'm really pleased that even though there is an additional child in this picture and I'm five years older, I'm thinner and have better hair now than I did back then. Also, I no longer appear to be 12 years-old, something I did until I was about 24 or so. This picture is actually one lamp post closer to the boardwalk than the picture above, but I couldn't remember at the time which lamp post we'd stopped at on that first trip. I'm not sure how I even remembered having my picture taken in front of a lamp post at all, seeing as how it was, well, a lamp post, and I can think of more memorable landmarks. Anyway, before we left Long Beach yesterday Aaron took this picture of the boys and I. It's one of the only pictures of me from our trip because I was in bed a lot of the time, which was a total pisser. We arrived Sunday evening and had a great dinner and a lovely beach walk before bed, but on Monday I came down with the stomach flu or food poisoning or something which caused me to vomit profusely for a six hour period. Tuesday morning found me feeling much better but a little on the weak side, and by Wednesday we had to check out and head home. The timing couldn't have been worse. I suppose it would have been worse to be sick on the drive, but the fact that I had a lovely bathroom and a king size bed all to myself was small consolation compared to the fact that I was missing vacation with my family. We'd all been looking forward to the trip, and after a whirlwind social month filled with visits from friends and birthday parties it sounded so good to take a few steps back and focus on just being a family. Aaron made sure the boys still had a fantastic time, but I feel kind of robbed. On Tuesday evening when I staggered out of my room for some gingerale, Aaron and the boys came in from one of the many exciting expeditions they went on.
"Hi Mom! Are you feeling better?" asked Jack, bounding over to hug me.
"Hi, love; yes I am feeling better, thanks. Sorry I got sick on our vacation."
"Oh that's okay, Dad and Matteas and I have been having a great time!"
The good news is, our little vacation did serve to inspire me with a new project. Our rental condo came fully furnished, including a full kitchen complete with dishes and silverware. We didn't bring much with us: clothes, food, one bag of books, a small box of markers and one gallon Ziploc full of matchbox cars. It was totally great. The boys, not having much to play with but each other, got along better than they typically do at home. Of course, that probably had something to do with the fact that Aaron and I were both there(well, mostly Aaron) but I feel pretty sure it also had a lot to do with something I'm determined to make a guiding principle in my life: there was just enough, nothing extra. The condo was modestly furnished and minimally decorated; most of the decoration was incorporated into the furniture itself, a bright red armchair bringing some color to the living room and the striped carpet providing some structure but also a bit of visual interest to the background. At home, we have way too much stuff. I've always known it, but at a time in our lives when we are very busy and time to relax is hard to come by, I feel convicted anew about simplifying our lives, weeding out all the extra and focusing on having and better-enjoying "just enough." I'm going to start with the toys, then systematically go through everything in the house and keep paring down until all departments can be easily managed.