However, Luke and Nina are eager to see the sand and surf, so Daddy walks them out to the beach, while I stay behind in the van with Jack.
It is not long until Nina tramps back to the van - cold. It is February after all.
Not long afterwards, Luke, who usually likes the cold, returns, too. The brisk sea breeze was getting a bit much even for him, so he asked Daddy to bring him back to the car.
As Luke scrambles into the his seat, blue eyes pop open in another. Jack has awakened.
I tell Mike, Luke and Nina that Jack and I will go to retrieve their pails and shoes from the beach, just so we can breathe in some fresh ocean air, too, before we all leave . I expect to glimpse the ocean for merely a moment before a chilly Jack points back to the car.
When Jack sees the sand, he smiles. I let him down in it and he begins to play. Sometimes serious and intent. Sometimes with a giggly grin. That boy is not feeling the cold, but is warmed by the experience of a quiet moment on the beach.
I watch him. I snap photos. I marvel at how this bundled up beach-loving boy has been growing.
Seven years ago he was known only to God. Two years ago, he was a promise preparing to unfold unto this world. Last year, he was a warm bundle in a sling against my chest. Now, he is all independence, completely engaged in digging tunnels, filling buckets, occasionally looking up at me or signaling me to join him...
He is wonder. He is joy. He is exploration.
He is a boy who does not want the moment to end when I suggest we go back to the van. At least not until I tuck the camera into my pocket and join him in playing with seaweed in the sand, digging holes, being 100% present in the moment.
Then, with no words, just a piling of buckets, a hug, then a hand held out for my finger, Jack tells me he is ready to go. I ask him if he wants to leave the beach. He smiles. He knows I understand.
So, I gather the buckets and shoes in one hand and reach my other one out for Jack to take a hold of. Together, we bid adieu to our blissful beach moment - a gift I was not expecting for my anniversary. Time with just Jack. A chance to savor this moment. The precious present spent with a surprise gift I continue to thank God for, my youngest child, who God picked just for me.
I am sharing this moment of joy and gratitude at Heavenly Homemakers, where you can find links to other testimonies of thanksgiving.