Our own bit of heaven

For the last 60 years, my family has gone to West Beach Resort on Orcas Island for vacation. I love that West Beach and Orcas and the Islands play such a large part in my family’s history. Last week, we added one more year to the tradition. Trev, the kids, and I joined my parents, grandparents, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins for a week of fun and relaxation in my favorite place in the world.

Saturday and Sunday were largely gray and rainy, but the clouds parted for our yearly tradition of jumping off the dock. It might not sound like much, but 52 degree water is VERY daunting. My grandpa started the ritual; he’s up for a swim no matter where he is. His children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren carry on the tradition. Abby has been talking about jumping off the dock since we left Orcas last year. We promised her that when she was three, she could do it. Trevor and I were extremely thankful that Uncle Dan volunteered to do it with her.

I lost track of how many times Abby jumped in. She threw a tantrum on the dock because we told her she could only jump one more time. Here’s her sad face, pleading with us to let her do it again.

Wally stayed on the beach (he doesn’t like to wear his life jacket) and was happy throwing rocks and sand. I love how he’s sitting here.

Happy boy with sand all over. I’ve mentioned his taste for rocks before, right?

Saturday night Abby put on her swimsuit and played in the water. In the rain. Thankfully, the sun came out Sunday afternoon. She’s holding the stick that she would ask me to throw in the water so she could fetch it. (Just like the Golden Retriever a few cabins down.)

Our wonderful (and adventurous) friends joined us for a couple of nights. We managed to coerce Naomi and Abby to do some photos. Yes, bribery was involved, but I love this!

Eight month old Peter was wonderful company for Wally. Earlier they did some wrestling in the cabin. Wally’s idea. Here Peter got the upper hand on Wally. Gorgeous eyes!

Kelly and I could probably take pictures of our kids all day. The trouble is that the kids want to do everything BUT be our models. I like this one of Kelly shooting the girls through this little bridge.

My parents bring their kayak every year. Wally enjoyed trying it out.

One of Abby’s favorite activities is fishing for bullheads with Grandpa. I remember doing the same thing.

Trev and I have our own tradition of bathing the kids in the sink. Wally’s first real bath was in our cabin sink last year (at two weeks old). Here’s a shot of then…

and now. He kept diving to drink from the faucet.

Can you believe there was room for them both?

Orcas has so many gorgeous places for photos. I brought this dress for Abby, and miracle of miracles (or marshmallows?), Abby decided to work with me. Beautiful light and beautiful girl.

When she wants to, she really knows how to work the camera. (And when she doesn’t, look out! I have a true photographer’s child on my hands.)

My goal for Wally was to catch him standing independently, or even taking a few steps. His record is four, but he won’t be lured by food these days. He’ll just randomly stand up and take a step or two and then dive after whatever he wants. He has perfected the use of jelly-legs for when we try and make him stand up on his own. That’s why I’m glad I was able to get this one.

Abby in her favorite dress doing her favorite thing. (No, this is not how she was dressed every day.)

Wallyman actually enjoyed putting his feet in the water, too, but again, on his terms.

There’s a shot hanging in my bedroom of Abby walking down this sidewalk at this same age. We were hoping to get a Wally version, but this is the closest we could manage. I still really like it.

My dad very graciously conceded to go on a photo shoot with us so I could finally get some family pictures. He’s the reason I got into photography in the first place, so he was the natural choice. Still, directing a photo shoot of yourself (and your severely Photographer’s-Kids-Syndrome afflicted children) is intensely problematic. Thankfully, we got this one — my favorite of the day — taken in Eastsound.

And here’s Trevor’s favorite.

And each summer we take a picture of the tree, the ONE TREE (get it?), where we got married. We’ve gone from just the two of us to two and a bundle in the sling, to two and a freshly-walking toddler, to two and another bundle in the sling and a two-year-old, to this shot of a bonafide family of four.

Finally a mother-daughter shot that I love. Our eyes are the same color!

Another yearly event is getting the kids’ hand and footprints done at the pottery studio just up the road from West Beach.

Trevor was helping me test the light, but I ended up loving this shot of my boys.

And yes, here’s another pic of me (sick of this yet?) because you know I’ve been wanting one with my Wally.

Abby begged for one last swim on Friday night as the sun went down. I couldn’t deny her that. Leaving is just too hard. We look forward to our trip to Orcas all year, and just like that, it’s over. I guess that’s why my mom starts making her lists for next year as soon as we get home. The nice thing about having a tradition like this is that we know we’ll be back and that things won’t really have changed that much. Orcas will still be pretty much the same.