good morning!

Hello my friends, we have arrived safely in Georgia and I have been trying to catch up on my sleep (so tired) and getting things orderly here in our cottage. We did a huge grocery trip the day after we arrived and it felt so good putting things away and knowing there was good food and drink for the family to enjoy. Interestingly (and it made my heart happy), our dear Caleb made the main grocery list, filled with healthy and nutritious foods like brown rice, wheat bread, and sweet potatoes, things I didn’t think he even liked. I have been at the pool with Sarah, I finished a book (I Know This Much is True) and started another one (East of Eden), I’ve walked in the sand and the ocean, and have already taken a multitude of photos…………

I find myself missing my girls Brittnee and Grace, a lot, especially the conversations we used to have all day every day about everything and nothing, serious and silly. However, it is good that I can focus on the children left at home with me, who need more of my attention and care. Jacob and Brittnee, and Grace and Brogan, are so happy. Both couples send us photos now and then and I lean into them, I especially notice their eyes (all eight) that sparkle with joy and gladness in these early and magical first days of marriage. I feel excitement, and always so blessed and grateful, to watch them begin their own families, while always part of mine.

Ethan and David are at home in Connecticut, “holding down the fort”. And, trying to stay cool. We don’t hear much from them. LOL. I’m sure the brothers are having a great time, as they get along so well and are great friends. And I miss Sierra, too. I’m glad that I still have her (Ethan’s girlfriend) to spend time with when I get back home. Rich and I have already talked about making her fly down here…………yes, I think it’s safe to say we miss our big girls. But all is well. Rich is at the beach volleyball area down the road with the boys while I type this up and get ready to go. He’s taking me on a morning date for coffees, fresh magazines, and togetherness.

Thank you for being here, and adding so much to my blog with your loving appreciation. I want you each to know how special you are, as we walk each other home………

you are loved.

Quote I clipped from Victoria magazine because I loved it so much: “The poet Mary Oliver expressed it this way: ‘To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.’ I’m grateful that both my loves [art and writing] require the deep payment of attention. As do the boundless other loves out there, including cooking, rearranging pictures on the wall, reading, praying, and, of course, the giving of oneself in relationship with another. I’m grateful that life can still surprise us. No matter what our age, or stormy national conflicts, or aches of the heart, we all can enter more fully into the skin of life itself.” ~Jan Karen

miniture golf

Rich and I finally took the kids mini-golfing, they have been begging since we first arrived here. We hopped on our bikes and happily pedalled our way to the fascility. Seth was by my side as we rode along and he was full of questions, the most important one being, “Who do you think is going to win, Mom?”

I was full of answers, the most important one being, “Oh, I’m going to win for sure!”

So much for confidence, I not only didn’t win, but I came in DEAD LAST. This photo was taken right before Grace added our numbers and announced the placements. (which is why I’m still smiling).


After golfing we went to Zuzu’s on St. Simons and Rich said, “WHY did Sarah order a PANCAKE!”

It was a quesadilla.

We start driving home to Connecticut on Friday.

all sorts

I probably shouldn’t use the word “crap” to describe this photo because the other day we were standing in a little cafe and Sarah said, “I don’t know what to order, everything here is crap” (She said this because all she could see were sweets and pastries and nothing healthy. if it’s not healthy it’s crap, apparently).

Hello and good day to you my bloggy friends! I’m awake but very tired after a restless night. It was one of those nights when Rich and I unwisely plunged into a heavy discussion right as we got into bed and then hours later in the night, Seth woke us up with a headache and stomach ache. Rich is working from our island home from here on out (for the rest of our stay) so he was up very early with the birds this morning and then just as I was falling back to sleep after that, Seth came in my room. I might fall asleep as I type.

Rich is right next to me typing on his laptop and Grace is across the table on Pinterest. The therapy of Pinterest, I should say, as she is adding to our mutual private board entitled “I am Independent” which is for us as we are both nurturing types that tend to forget ourselves as we love everyone else, and have a hard time putting up bounderies when being sucked dry in unhealthy relationships. (hows that for a mouthful?) Easier said than done, because we are both loyal to a fault, as well. To all the independent women out there reading this, we want to be like you.

We took the children to DQ the other day. To save money since there were ten of us in all, I said, “Eat a sandwich at home first and we will go just for ice cream.” Still, we overtaxed the workers. The cashier laughed as she gave the order to the ice cream makers. “That’s a lot,” she explained.

They almost got our order correct. And it was super fun. My peanut butter sundae was divine.

We were walking home from the pool.

Home Sweet Home

Naturally, we brought some of the vast fiestaware collection from CT to GA.

This area gets the most use BY FAR. We have another living room upstairs but the TV is downstairs so we are always on top of each other here, it’s fun and heart-healthy to have the family pile-ups. We still need curtains for these windows.

The giant shell decoration on the stand is where we all put the shells and things we collect. The door to the right is the girls’ room.

I just love it here.

This is the back of our home. We own half this building. Our building-neighbors are named Cindy and Clay and we have all met them, they are very nice. The place is well- built and solid, and they assure me that they hear nothing from our side. They gave us a lovely card and a Target gift card when we moved in. They told Grace about an app she could put on her phone which tells you the names of the boats outside on the ocean.

In the photo you can see David upstairs on the porch and Jacob on the lawn below. David and Grace like to be on the upstairs porch and tend to listen to music, play the guitar, talk, read, or chat with their significant others on the ipad/iphone together. They are good friends.

a new friend

Ethan with his beach hair. Rich and I took him out for an ice cream one evening.

a good book

We took Jacob, Brittnee, and Ethan out for seafood the day they had to leave.

We are all such good pals.

Faith Chapel on the Island

I’m getting overwhelmed with blogging all these photos. But it must be done. ūüôā

beautiful; it was the condensation on the windows that struck me…

Ethan took this one.

Jacob took this one.

While we were biking Rich stopped to read this little plaque tucked up on a tree branch.


This area was a favorite of an amazing little dog. May you experience an unconditional love while here.

I’ll love you forever, Baby Girl”

Lunch at The Pantry over at the Jekyll Island Club.

Photography by Seth

my friend

I loved these jars (in The Pantry) I’ll be keeping an eye out for them while browsing antique stores in the area.

back at home…….our Jekyll home…..I miss my cats so I started a little cat knick-knack collection. The tails get me. The set of four (a litter) on the right have real bells upon their necks. And silly faces.

whimsical turtles (the red shell opens up!) I want to hide notes in there. Today I will. It will say “Happy Birthday Caleb” on it……I wonder if anyone will find it?

Naturally, Jacob being a friend to all and an extrovert, we had our first company while he was with us; his friend Alec from work in CT who now lives in FL along with his girlfriend Alex. I took this photo as they were coming back from the pool.

Everyone needs a Life Is Good shirt!!!! My biggest and my littlest (sons).

Life is Good shirt for G

Its the arm that gets me, and those faces, and they way they were talking to each other in the long long line for BBQ.

my heart!

Grace is DREAM of a daughter. We get along so well, we are so alike and I marvel at her.

the best……….loved my chopped beef brisket drenched in the sauce with a side of collard greens.

When you’re feeling kinda sad that afternoon and reading a book quietly and he reaches over and puts his hand on the hurt spot without saying a word …..and you feel the love, the healing love, in just the time you needed it.

This is my healing place. We all have them.

I think it’s brave

i think it’s brave that you get up in the morning even if your soul is weary and your bones ache for a rest

i think it’s brave that you keep on living even if you don’t know how to anymore.

i think it’s brave that you push away the waves rolling in every day and you decide to fight

i know there are days when you feel like giving up but i think it’s brave that you never do.

Lana Rafeala

our jekyll home

How delightful, to have a second mailing addess!

Rich and I are thoroughly enjoying our cottage life by the ocean (right outside our windows, seen and heard at all times). The children are getting brown and are always covered in sand and going off someplace on barefeet or bicycles. We have a collection of shells getting larger and larger by the day, and pity the one person who goes on a family beach walk with pockets. Sarah approached her Dad with her two hands together filled with shells to request his pockets, “No” was the typical Dad-reply, “you carry them.” “But, but, but, but but, Dad!!”

Needless to say he allowed her to put them in his pockets. How can you say no to your little blond haired baby? (not so little anymore, as Aunt Amanda says, “Sarah is getting so tall!)

We went for a walk today and all of us but Brittnee, who doesn’t care for the ocean, went directly INTO it for a swim. It’s hot outside and the water is like magic *NOT like Disney, though, says Caleb*.

I heard David and Ethan talking. “I am SO tempted to go under the water,” laughed Dave. “Why can’t you?” I asked. “Because it kills our eyes.” It didn’t stop Seth, though. He is now half-wild and half-fish and never plugs his nose. I saw his legs sticking up from the water numberous times as he did handstands on the clean, hard, sandy floor of the ocean.

We pick up sand dollars with our toes to scrutinize them. I say to the sharks, “Go ahead and bite me!” I say to the jelly fish, “Go ahead and sting me!” Fear will not keep me from this salty sea. I am also turning brown. I haven’t spent this much time outside in years.

We ride bikes every day, bikes with bells on them. Mine is turquoise blue with a “cloud” seat and Rich says he will buy me a basket to put on the front. I can go and go and let my thoughts roam as my feet pedal. I bought three new “Life is Good” shirts (my favorite) and two of them are bike-themed. I’m a biker!

Truly, variety is the spice of life. A new place to live (for a month), new things to see and experience, and lots of family time (95% of the time a good thing) is a life-brightener indeed.

My brother Dave sent us the first gift to our new address! Thank you, Dave!

Our son Caleb will have the first birthday in our new place! In six days!

We watch Star Trek as a family every night before bed! I often fall asleep!

Yesterday I put two french braids in the three girls’ hair! But I said there were 8! I have vacation brain!

I’ve rubbed sunscreen on backs 7,000 times already!

We are about to have a thunder storm!

Rich sat right down with our new book from Dave.

Breakfast, at 11 in the morning. “Island time” is what we say, “and it never runs out,” is what Sarah believes.

Sarah and I made a double batch of Rice Krispie Treats right after breakfast.

Impossible to keep clean, but still beautiful! I’m cooking on a gas stove top! The kitchen….the heart of a home. I’ve already done so much in this sweet little cottage kitchen, including bread-baking and a huge apple pie (with Brittnee).

The wild-child came out to the porch with globs of white sunscreen just begging to be rubbed in, so, he was practically attacked by Brittnee and Grace who jumped right at him to help. He didn’t mind but seemed to have a hard time staying balanced as he was rubbed from all directions with four sisterly hands at once.

I sat on the sand after my swim, with my knees tucked under my chin and my arms around them. Seth came over with his stick. “Don’t leave the circle!” he said as he drew one around me. I kept within, and as children came to show me things I told them to lay their “offerings” down at my feet, in a Very Queenly Fashion. David didn’t like this talk, and came over to stomp on the sand dollar which Grace had offered unto me just moments before, and crushed it under his heel. “No false idols!” he admonished. “Dad gave that to me!” mourned Grace.

As we approached the public part of the beach, we all promptly turned around and headed back home. Rich and I looked at each other and smiled over every adorable thing; the boys swimming together, for example. They enjoy each other’s company like good brothers do. They also argue and kick one another in the rears but Rich assured me “it’s okay”. “He kicked him so hard, though!” “I’m sure if it was that hard he would have smacked him back.” “sigh”

And of course we study every living thing (or it’s remains) because we thrive on nature!


Rich is on the couch with Grace. He is reading and she is on her phone (with a book on her lap; Middlemarch by George Eliot). The house is dim, we can hear thunder in the distance. Everyone else is free and gone and busy doing their own thing.


If you mail me a postcard, I’ll mail you one, too!

Shanda Ives
116 Turtle Track LN
Jekyll Island, GA 31527-1073

(I love having a private blog now!)

quick trip to Jekyll


Good morning, so sorry for my absence here, it felt long to me! ¬†I haven’t posted in over a week! ¬†Because………

……..last week at this time I was flying to Georgia with my husband for a very quick visit to Jekyll Island. ¬†What can I say about it? ¬†It was a whirlwind, I was tired beyond words because we had to get up at 3:30 in the morning to make our flight, and it was freezing cold. ¬†However, on the positive side, I didn’t have to worry about my children with good ol’ Michael in charge here at home, I was able to relax and look at some beautiful magazines on the plane and start a good book, I ate good food, and I was able to see some lovely sights and visit my brother!!


We stayed at the Jekyll Island Club resort where it is beautiful all over and there are huge old trees draped in spanish moss.


The little coffee shop at the resort.  (love the floors!)


This is what I wore on the plane and I’m smiling because I have my coffee in hand and there are pink flowering shrubs behind me.


The trees, the trees, the glorious trees.  It was a treat to feast my eyes on the green and the flowers.


Rich had to work in the hotel room so I was off on my own for several hours and managed to get cold and wet in the rain, although quite happily.




A little place we found.




view out the back of the cottage



It was raining hard, with lots of wind……


The next morning it had cleared some, but it was still chilly so I wore the black leggings again plus a long skirt, a black shirt, and a sweater.


We had an appointment that morning and then went shopping.


The shops were next to the ocean so I ran down to put my feet in.


The clouds and the sea.


And then, guess what? ¬†By God’s providence we were down on Jekyll Island the very day David and his girlfriend arrived for vacation!!! ¬†I was able to meet dear Ann and it was an instant friendship. ¬†The four of us met for a nice seafood lunch.



With a beautiful view out the window.



My very first best friend, and we are still the best of friends these 40 years later.

I love you Dave!!!!


One last walk on the beach (Tuesday evening) by my lonesome, Rich was out running.


I sat by the window and Rich sat on the aisle, with an empty seat between us. ¬†I thought my thoughts and read my book and even dozed now and then. ¬†It’s always a little bit of a relief when the plane lands for the final time (we had a connecting flight) and you realize you survived yet another trip (I’m a slightly anxious traveler)…….I was happy to get home (Wednesday afternoon) and see the children again although the house was pretty messy. ¬†It didn’t take too long to get it back into order (the kids did most of it).

Happy Monday!

dave gets hugged


This is another blog post dedicated to our vacation to Jekyll Island, Georgia.

These photos were all taken with my phone.

I had bought Crackerbarrel gift cards for Christmas presents for last Christmas…but never gave them out…so we used them ourselves for a nice breakfast. ¬†I do feel kind of bad about that.

There was a tiny baby at the Crackerbarrel sitting at the next table over.  She was so little I wondered how she was going to sit with out falling forward and bumping the table.  But she was strong and did great and was sooooooo cute.  I watched her as she kept her eyes on the spoon her Dad was feeding her with.  I ended up holding my own very big baby on my lap by the end of breakfast.


This is Caleb doing artwork and eating oreos during the trip.


Taking naps during the trip.


We finally arrived! ¬†Sarah was just so thrilled to be “in Georgia”.


This is me and my sister, with our girls Abbie and Grace.


Food at the Pier was amazing. ¬†It’s my favorite place to eat on Jekyll. ¬†I had the boiled shrimp and this is the plate of seafood that Jacob and David shared.


One morning I left the Sans Souci with just my little Seth (6 years old).  We were the only ones awake out of my family.  We snuck outdoors, holding hands, and went over to the main Jekyll Clubhouse to get my complimentary cup of coffee.  On the way back we met Isaac and Cassandra about to go on a bike ride.


While all the men in our family went golfing, I took Caleb, Seth, and Sarah to the little shops by the Clubhouse. ¬†Seth quickly chose this dog puppet. ¬†He named it Jekyll. ¬†At the next shop, I had him sit on the bench outside and play my phone so I didn’t have to keep track of three small kids. ¬†Later I discovered that he had taken this picture of his new friend.


If you bought a soda you got free refills with your cup all day long.  The kids all LOVED the Shirly Temples.  We got them over and over.  There is nothing like an ice cold soda on a hot day.


Amanda took this one of my mom and me walking with Cassandra and Maria.


Rich took Caleb, Seth, and Sarah biking.


Mom took Ethan and me to Brunswick to do a little shopping at some antique stores.



I took this picture for my son David because he collects Coke bottles.  This purple one was purple, heavy and cost 40 dollars.


In Brunswick there was a park square every few blocks.  Each one was named and had nice places to sit and relax next to flowers and fountains.


I took Grace to the shops.  This is one of my favorite pictures.  We were missing our own cats back at home and were happy to find and make friends with this nice big one outside of the bookstore.


My favorite stationary….curly girl design.



Grace lost her necklace on vacation. ¬†It was her favorite one, too. ¬†(she’s wearing it in the picture).

I lost my new kindle fire.  (!!!!!!!!!!!) makes me ill.


On Friday night we played beach volleyball.





It’s amazing to have a family big enough to have a game, and it was so much fun.

When we hit it out of bounds someone would say “Look out for the alligators!” or, “Look out for the rattle snakes!”


I was supposed to be playing my position but still managed to get some good photos!


Sunset making the road look like it was on fire…….


On Saturday morning it was time to say our goodbyes and travel back home. ¬†I love this sister-pic of Maria, Cassandra, Melissa, Amanda, and Shanda (yours truly). ¬†I love how all our names end in “a”, the “uh” sound. ¬†I especially loved visiting with Maria and Melissa because I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. ¬†I’m so blessed to have the best sisters.


Aunt Amanda, Uncle Jason, Grandma, and Grandpa leaned into the van to say goodbye to the children.

But one was missing!

It was Dave.

He had ran over to the pool to try to find his flip-flops (another thing lost..ugh)

So Rich and I hopped in the van, ready to leave, and watched as the family gave Dave lots of hugs. ¬†And he’s the type that gets shy with too much public attention! ¬†It was the best little moment……





He’s in there! ¬†Surrounded by his adoring family.


Look at that face!


goodbye, goodbye!

God be with you ’til we meet again.

“You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” ¬†Frederick Buechner

lunch at the club


































Another full day has come and gone.  At this very moment, I am sitting on a wooden balcony of the big beautiful Sans Souci Cottage in a rocking chair with my tanned bare feet up on a small white table.  The evening sky is a multitude of blues, marbled with gray clouds and one small streak of orange sunset.  Amazingly loud cicadas are filling the air with their sounds.  Mom and Dad walked by on the paved sidewalk underneath me and we said hello, then Amanda and her family, then Rich and the children.  They are all returning from an evening swim at the pool which I was too tired to participate in.  As I sit and look at the photos we took today, my heart is filled with gratitude for this State, this Island, the land of our vacation of dreams.

Most importantly, the family–my family–is continuing to grow and bond through loving hearts, words, play, laughter, food, prayers, small gifts, and joy — making memories underneath a big Georgia sky.


greetings from jekyll island

I changed the theme to the blog in order to post vacation photos nice and big!


We had a long drive from Connecticut to Georgia.  This picture was taken at one of our many rest stops along the way.


Grace picked me some wild flowers.



I rode up front with Rich but switched seats with Jacob now and then so Seth could be with me.  He lost his first tooth!



We ate at a frozen yogurt place.



And then we all made it to the Island. ¬†We arrived on Sunday afternoon…my parents, my siblings, and all their families. ¬†The pool has been the main attraction so far. ¬†It’s so special to see all the cousins together.



Ethan showed his Grandma (my mom) a picture of the girl he likes.




The kids all loved hanging off Uncle Nate.


Yesterday evening we had a fantastic dinner at the restaurant at the pier.



My brother Nate.



My sister Amanda.


We have rooms at the San Souci, a big beautiful old building.


The beach was stunning last night.


My son Ethan.


Me and Sarah



Caleb had his light sabers taken away shortly after this photo because Seth was hit very hard in the mouth with one.   Thankfully he was fine and today he just has a slightly swollen upper lip.  But it was a bad moment and we left soon afterwards because it was starting to get dark.  Seth had taken his jersey off, when I asked him where it was he said he had buried it!  After wandering for a while Rich found it.




brother Dave



push ups!


This morning we went to some of the little shops in the historical section of the island.


“the day was quite warm and we walked along leisurely……”

We went through the museum and watched a video about the Island.


They were playing with an old telephone.


Seth, my Dad, my Mom, and Caleb



Seth and Gregory in one of the gift shops.



Caleb with his Grandma


My brother Isaac and brother in law Jason coincidentally wore the same clothes today.


We met a little dog named Lady at the shopping center.


Grace read books in the Jekyll Island lending library.


David was determined to catch one!  When he caught it, it was brown, then it turned green in his hand.


We were all hanging out at the pool and I caught this sweet moment when David came back over to join us he went straight to his brother and patted him on the head.


We are currently on the balcony off my sister’s room. ¬†Mom french braided Naomi’s hair, and then Makayla’s.


And the little ones played a game with their little toes.

We are talking about what to do for dinner.  I had fried shrimp and sweet potato fries for lunch and am not very hungry, but all the boys need some food.

day 5: driftwood beach



Last day on Jekyll.

Driftwood beach.

Mom, Dad, and I drove around and parked at one of the trails for a nice, long walk. ¬†Cameras and binoculors ’round our necks.


ripples of clouds in the sky


ripples of sand under our toes


old trees left standing the way the wind blew as they grew




along the beach are huge fallen trees, like a nature playground

the roots upended and weathered by salt water and time



at times it seemed we could go no further, but there was always a way (under, around, through, over)


glittering ocean foam


drips and drops leaving perfect circles



 message in the sand; thinking of my love










path to the shops

I endeavored to find a little something for each child; a tiny harmonica, shark tooth necklace, books, little tokens, for them to know “Mama thought of you.”



baby palms




lovely pottery shop


so much beauty in green and brown and pink




hanging spanish moss


last meal together before I had to go to the airport ~ with my dear Dad ~


the lovebirds


I am home-sweet-home again and Jekyll was last week’s memory. ¬†I had such a refreshing vacation; I came back moving and thinking much slower, a good indication to me that the trip away was needed for my well-being. ¬† It was my second visit to this place, and I understand, now, why my parents keep going back. ¬†If you go once, more than likely you will feel the need to return, and I miss it today. ¬†There is a lot to do on Jekyll for activities, but it’s also a good place to relax in nature, too. ¬†I hope to go with my family someday, I know they will love it, too.

click here for more information on JEKYLL ISLAND


thought for today:

“This is my person, now indwell by the living Spirit of the living God. ¬†I shall not permit it to be cramped and contaminated by exposing it to such dusty trivia as newspaper propaganda, pornography, cheap debasing literature, hours of low caliber television programs, or rubbish from the mass media. ¬†Instead, God’s Spirit will lead me to expose myself to the finest art, literature, and music. ¬†He will put me in situations where my mind can be improved and my soul stimulated with that which is beautiful and noble and lofty. ¬†I can and will become a person of broad interests, noble aspirations, and enormous enthusiasm because I belong to Him and He wishes to put me out into wide fields of fruitful and useful endeavor ….”

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” ¬†John 10:10