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vacation fun

Save the Crabs?

by Amber on June 6, 2011

Fishing is usually my husband’s deal. And this vacation was no exception. While he was out on the dock, losing fancy lures and catching inedible creatures, I preferred to sit on the beach and commune with the waves.

But there was one fishing project the whole family got involved in—crabbing.

We found crab traps underneath the house on our first evening there, and couldn’t wait to put them in the water. On our first trip to the store, we bought packages of chicken—apparently considered a crab delicacy (maybe there really is such a thing as chicken of the sea?)—and excitedly dunked them in the water under the dock the second we got home.

From that moment on, “going to see the crabbies” was at least a thrice daily event. Tori loved to count them (although her math is a little off), and any time I wanted to avert a temper tantrum, I’d carry her down to the dock and haul ‘em up.

As the days went on, we accumulated more and more crabs.

The crabs in our crab trap

FIfteen crabs, crabbing in the trap.

Naturally, the conversation soon turned to what we should do with them. Or, more precisely, how we should cook them.

“You know we have to boil them alive, right?” Brian said to me.

“Oh, there’s no we in that. You will boil them. I will be somewhere I can’t hear them scream.”

“They don’t scream, Amber.”

“How do you know? Have you ever boiled a crab?”

“Well no, but…”

“Trust me, they scream. Wouldn’t you, if you were being boiled alive?”

As you may have guessed from this exchange, I was a bit hesitant to cook the crabs.

Because, the thing is…they’re kinda cute in a strange sort of way. And they were fighting so hard to stay alive (there may have been some cannibalism involved). I began to feel sorry for them.

Crab fighting to get free.

How can you not empathize with this little guy?

But, of course, I didn’t tell Brian he couldn’t cook them—that’s too straight forward for me. Instead, I presented him with “alternatives.”

“Doesn’t cracking all those crabs open and digging out the meat seem like a lot of work? We could just go get some from the store…”

And, playing off his insecurities:

“If you’re not sure you can cook them right, we could just go out to dinner instead. Way less stressful.”

And the trump card?

“You know, I don’t think Tori will even eat crab. And we’re all out of hot dogs.”

I’m not sure which of my oft-repeated reminders did the trick, but in the end, I got my way. We set the crabs free.

Crabs going free

I think they look grateful, don't you?

Of course I was supposed to pretend that we actually did cook them (to save his pride), but, well, I’m a blabbermouth. And I like to think that somewhere in Mobile Bay, a few crabs are telling their crab nieces and nephews about their adventures—and about the kindhearted woman who saved them.

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Small Moments, Big Memories.

by Amber on May 31, 2011

During our most recent conversation, my mom asked me what the highlight of my vacation was. But I couldn’t answer her. I didn’t know what to say.

After all, it wasn’t an extraordinarily exciting vacation. One day was much like the next. We woke up. Went to the beach. Came back home for Tori’s nap. Went back to the beach. Came back home for dinner. Went on a walk with the dog to the beach. That was it.

Pretty boring to talk about.

But then I realized I was thinking too big. The highlights were smaller. Simple moments that will live on in my memory.

Moments like…

Teaching Tori to “swim.”

One morning while playing in the quiet water of the bay beach, Tori looked at me and said, “down, Mommy.”

At first, I just laughed. “I can’t put you down, baby. You can’t swim.”

But she insisted. So I placed her belly down in the water and slowly released her until I was holding just her hands.

“Kick, Tori, kick!”

And she did, beating her little legs against the water as hard as she could.

“That’s it! You’re swimming!”

And the smile she beamed at me? Lit the entire morning sky.

Roaring at the waves.

On our first day at the beach, Brian and I excitedly plunged into the water, holding Tori’s hands. We stayed in what we thought were the shallows, but the waves soon proved us wrong. Not five seconds after Tori’s feet first touched the wet sand, a wave came barreling down at her, knocking her off her feet.

Naturally, she was scared, but we didn’t let that deter us. Instead we picked her up and headed for deeper water.

That was a mistake. The waves soon knocked us off our feet, and Tori was once again plunged under the salty water (don’t worry, she had a life preserver on). She came up screaming, and after we made it to shore, she made it clear she wanted nothing further to do with the ocean.

I couldn’t let that stand. After all, the ocean is just about my favorite thing in the world.

So the next day, I led her to the shore.

“There’s nothing to be scared of, Tori. The waves just need to know who’s boss. If you roar at them, they leave you alone.”

“Roar?”

“Yeah. Like this. ROOOAAARRRR,” I shouted at the waves. “Now you try.”

“ROOOOAAAARRR,” she yelled at the next wave to lap at her feet. And the wave retreated.

“See? It worked!”

She clapped her hands and continued roaring with delight.

After that? She had no problem playing in the waves with me.

Dreaming with the hub.

The house we stayed in was for sale. So we spent the entire week dreaming up ways we could come up with the cash and move our life to the Alabama coast.

Among the contenders? A seascape painting business for him. A bestselling novel (or five) for me. Blogging mega-success. A new career ferrying the oil rig workers back and forth….the ideas were endless.

Every marriage needs a little room for dreaming.

So that was it. The highlights of my vacation. Thrilling? To anyone else, probably not. But to me? It was perfect.

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