And Then We Drove to the Ocean

We left Louisiana the way everyone should – with a plate-full of beignets and cup-full of cafe au late. And then we drove to the ocean. We’ve never taken a family vacation before. My boys have never seen the waves. The ocean is one thing that the imagination can’t outdo.

On our way, we swung up around the Mobile Bay and stopped at the USS Alabama for a picnic. This is a memory I have of being little myself. We had bought Popeye’s chicken and french fries. My brothers were fat-fingered and wildly in love with the gulls and the war ship. I cried a little as I relived that moment, the circle it made.

My boys only had peanut butter and honey sandwiches. They held hands afraid of the water, their first glimpse of forever horizon. They, too, fed the seagulls and joined the squawking chorus with their laughter.

We found our place for the rest of the week and hit the water running.

I wore a granny hat. We walked through nature reserves and counted lizards. We buried ourselves in the sand. We watched the sun set, and we collected shells.

Seth played so hard with them in the water. I sat in a chair and cried again, squeezing sand between fingers and toes. Ian rolled in the shallow water as in love. Every wave that came up made him laugh so hard he could barely breathe. They were all three brave and innocent.

Now home, on the cusp of newborn, I reconsider a million things. A time like that with family, especially a week with Daddy, can remind you how little is truly important and how much we spend on the unnecessaries. The beach was a rare cherry.

Right now. All I want is my family in our own place. To live in peace with God. And to continue to learn gratitude no matter.

About me


Cursed Be the Woman
March 06, 2013
The Chains of Worry: About a Skinny Girl Who Wrote an Eating Disorder Book
October 24, 2012
Made for the Party
September 19, 2012
The Feeding Tube
July 19, 2012
The Spirit is Willing
August 29, 2011
To One of My Homes
May 31, 2011
A Haines Home Companion: Looking Round, Feeling Light
April 08, 2011
A Haines Home Companion: my town, my bones, my bloom
March 11, 2011
The Grandmother and the Berries Back Home
January 21, 2011


Kelly Sauer
Reply June 2, 2011

What I love about you, Amber, is how absolutely, completely, totally feminine you are, you with five boys of your own...

This is so wonderful. Thank you for bringing a bit back with you for us!

    Reply June 2, 2011

    Thank you, Kelly. This makes me smile because I really am feminine, and they really really are NOT!

    Thanks for making me feel welcome on your screen, Kelly.

      Reply June 2, 2011

      the more boys I have, the more I like pink. :)

Seth (Your Husband)
Reply June 2, 2011

My legs are white.

    Reply June 2, 2011

    I happen to love your white legs.

    Reply June 2, 2011

    Holy moly, you DO have white legs!!

    I have big hands.

      Reply June 3, 2011

      Nic, you have the best hands in the world!

    Reply June 3, 2011

    That just means that you really needed to get to the ocean! I'm so glad you guys were able to make that trek with the boys! Something about the ocean opens up your soul.
    Love you!

    Robin ~ Pensieve
    Reply June 4, 2011

    That's because they were buried in the sand.

    Among other reasons, I'm sure :).

Reply June 2, 2011

I grew up in Alabama, and also walked on those sandy white beaches... and it sure does make me homesick to see those pictures. I grew up in a small town in a valley of the Appalachians as well, and I am drawn to you and your stories which are like dripping honey words, not just because some of the territory is familiar, but also because I love how you write. I've read parts of your story here, one of your subscribers. A tasty rare cherry indeed, this sweet family time.

    Reply June 3, 2011

    Anna, thank you so much! Please tell me where you're from. My hometown is Grant, near Scotsboro.

Reply June 2, 2011

exactly this , yes.
Thank you for this beauty today, Amber

Matt S
Reply June 2, 2011

I miss the ocean!

I believe that oceans and mountains are the two greatest beauties that God provides in nature. Thank you for causing me to reminisce.

    Reply June 3, 2011

    Well, Matt, I blogged about it so I could tap back into it when needed!

Reply June 2, 2011

so glad the boys got to experience the ocean. my younger's first time he asked me when the waves would stop. he just wanted some still. love the hat!

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply June 2, 2011

Sometimes, it takes the ocean to remember. So much of what we do? It doesn't really matter. Only the people are eternal. This right here, this is all we need.

(You look so happy.)

Reply June 2, 2011

I love your granny hat, and new adventures in sand, and coming full circle.

Reply June 2, 2011

Oh, what happy fun. I could feel the joy in every word.

Megan at SortaCrunchy
Reply June 3, 2011

You do look so, so happy.

All of creation sings . . . how gorgeous.

Reply June 3, 2011

Very sweet! The ocean is always a treat, as is Cafe du Monde!!

laura@life overseas
Reply June 3, 2011

Loved this glimpse into your summer. It seems like we are so fast to skip vacation, to count it as an unimportant extra instead of a vitally important given every year with our kids. Loved your gratitude. And I think your hat is cute.

Allison Nelson
Reply June 3, 2011

HEy Amber! Miss you! Where did you go to the beach?

    Reply June 3, 2011

    Allison, I miss you, too. We got to go to Gulf Shores. I love it there.

Lindsey Nobles
Reply June 3, 2011

Sign me up for your next family vacation!

    Reply June 3, 2011

    Well, alright then. Nest time. Redneck Riviera. You and the Haines fam.

Reply June 3, 2011

"The ocean is one thing that the imagination can’t outdo." I love this line, and it is very likely I will be quoting you in one fashion or another this summer.
And that's a granny hat? I always thought of them more as movie star hats. You know, as a way to boost my red-headed freckled-faced self esteem when I go to the beach, a "well this is what Julianne Moore wears" type rationalization.

    Reply June 3, 2011

    Jo, I can always count on you. I had originally thought it was cute, and then my beloved husband said something about my always taking ugly hats to the beach.

    The gall: )

    Still, I think you're right.

yo cousin anna:)
Reply June 3, 2011

I love you! Your words make me feel all warm and mamaw socks:)

Robin ~ Pensieve
Reply June 4, 2011

"how little is truly important and how much we spend on the unnecessaries"

Le s i g h ...


Southern Gal
Reply June 5, 2011

Your words ring so true. What matters most in this life is not all the things that have us running around hither and yon, but the moments when we slow down and truly realize the blessings in being together and loving one another. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

We're in SC so we can choose mountains or beach for about the same amount of travel time. I always choose the beach. Always.

Elizabeth @claritychaos
Reply June 6, 2011

Your description of Ian is my favorite part of this whole piece. And you are so right about that time all together showing us how so much really doesn't matter a bit.

Grateful for you and your words and your perspective and the beautiful way you share it.

Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight
Reply June 6, 2011

HOW I miss the endless ocean beauty...
Thanks for a glimpse of God's salt-&-sand glory, as I sit high in these Colorado mountain-tops...imagining the blue of waves in the azure sky...
One of these days I'm gonna pack up all seven kiddos and just drive south till we hit the beach!

Ashleigh Baker
Reply June 6, 2011

It's a magical thing, isn't it? The way the moments of seeing the world so grand, and us so small and yet so full, full, full of all things deliriously, passionately true, can ruin us for life encumbered by frivolity? How, when our breath is caught away, we want to do so much more than only breathe? So glad you tasted it, that we all can taste it if we only slow down enough to look and breathe and carry it close.


Ann Kroeker
Reply June 8, 2011

I love the thought of you just sitting there, taking it all in, under the shade of a wide-brimmed sun hat. That is the life. Why do I live so far from the beach?

Reply June 13, 2011

that really looked like heaven. and i'm not just talking about all the powdered sugar in the first pic :)

Ann Voskamp
Reply June 30, 2011

Thinking of you tonight, friend...

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