I’m sitting on my front porch once again. There is a gentle breeze blowing the hanging ferns, a few cars going past our street, but I mostly hear singing birds and happy children at the park across the street. Days with such beauty as this make me feel as though I could live outside! And indeed, we do spend most of our waking hours out of doors.

The girls have been making mudpies out of the bare patches of sandy yard, and Zoe and I have been playing frisbee [which makes us laugh until we bend over because neither of us are any good]. We’ve been reading books on my fire-red bench. I’ve been editing pictures on the computer while watching the girls play in the yard, and blowing out imaginary candles on the mudpie-birthday cakes they make them for me, while they sing “Happy Biiiiiiiiiiiiirthday, dear yoooooooouuuuuuu….”

We are trying to soak in this weather while we can, because probably around the time you northerners get a chance at beautiful spring weather, we’ll be sweating bullets outside and trying to stay in the a/c as much as possible. Our enjoyable outdoor weather is normally about a month in the spring and a month in the fall, so when it’s that time of year, we try not to lose a minute!

Husband is talking of pitching a tent in the backyard this weekend. The fun of camping without the work of camping. You know, make the kids’ entire year without the inconvenience of walking 1/2 mile to the restroom in the middle of the night, or of dragging all the household bedding 50 miles away, or even of getting all the food stuff packed and ready and wonder if I have everything I need. Pancakes made inside, and eaten on the porch? Yes, please. The fun of camping without the exhausting work of camping? Yes, please!

I keep thinking though, of how extremely blessed I am. I can’t stop thinking of the tragedies in Japan, of the seven children who died in a house fire in Pennsylvania [even if I didn’t know them], and of just so many awful things that are happening in the world. I’m not paralyzed by fear for myself; I’m overcome with, “Why me, God? Why am I so blessed when so many people of the world suffer so incredibly much?” It’s almost overwhelming to think of… I want to always be grateful for the many things God has given me, and not take them for granted ~ and yet that’s a prayer I must pray every day, because it’s so easy for me to forget!

I painted a little saying on my front porch recently: “La Dulce Vita” – which means, “The Sweet Life.” I don’t have it there because I think my life is perfect, because it’s not. I don’t have it there because I want people to think I have to together, because I don’t and don’t ever want to even give that impression. I have it there for ME ~ so I can look at it, even in my worst days, and remember how blessed I am. That my life is sweet. Remember all that God has done for me.

And speaking of blessings….

I’ve been wanting to post some pictures of the week with the females in my family. Yes, I do have a father and two brothers ;) but this was “just for girls!!” as Zoe emphatically told her Uncle James. Trying to sort through the 400+ pictures and choose just a couple [because I know my tendency to post WAY more pictures than necessary] was quite a task. I can’t say I chose just a couple in the literal sense of the word, but when you compare 20 pictures to 400 pictures, I’d say that’s “a couple.” :)

This was a very special time together for all of us. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t speak for everyone. Maybe someone felt differently about it. :) I’ll just speak for myself… With me living 12 hours away from my family and trips home only coming about twice a year, and with my sister Jana moving 12 hours away in a completely other direction and knowing seeing her will be more infrequent than it even has been, well, I really treasured this time. Let me say one thing: if someone has all your family around you, treasure it!! You are a rare percentage, and few people have that privilege! :)

These are my three lovely sisters, whom I simply adore. We look all poised and posed…

… but this is what we usually look like! We laugh so often, so much, and so hard when we’re together!

 

Also included in this vacation was my mother, and grandmother. I also live 12 hours away from my only living grandmother, so this was so very special to stay at her winter home and spend time with. And so special too that my daughters could spend time with her and learn to know Grandma Susan more personally than just the one-hour coffee-in-her-kitchen when I go back home. (home is both north [where I was born and raised] and south [where I moved after I got married], just in case anyone is confused yet! :)

My Aunt Grace and cousin Catherine, who live in yet another state, overlapped with us in Florida by a day and a half ~ if anyone knows Grace, you know she is the epitomy of her name! Just a sweetheart!

My little daughters enjoyed the rides given by Catherine in the big basket of a three-wheeled bike! :)

Sooo, what does a family of four daughters, a mother, a grandmother, and two granddaughters do for almsot an entire week together? Well, for starters, we talk late into the night… every night. And at the end of the week there are still things to talk about together and things we didn’t cover.

We spend time at the Ocean. After all, we were in a coastal city. How could we not visit the ocean? :)

But since I’m not overly fond of exhibiting ourselves in beach attire, and because we like original pictures, we took a few pictures at the ocean that are suitable for viewing. :)

 

In order of age, except the last two are switched: myself, Jana, Ervina [last], and Claudia [second to last]

Being in the presence of such beauty for a week was incredibly inspiring. And I don’t just mean physical beauty, even though I think my sisters are as lovely as anyone could ever be. :) But these girls are just so full of Jesus, and being around them challenges me in the very depths of my soul. There was a time when I felt like the oldest, you know, the one who was more in a leader-type of situation simply because of my age in the family. But now, I look up to them! They are the ones who challenge me, and press me on to Christ…

 

 

Zoe and Olivia loved the sand, the ocean, and the whole beach experience! I, for one, so enjoyed having children at the ocean who were past the sand-eating stage. Zoe literally ran for miles every day, and fell into bed completely exhausted at bedtime!

 

Apparently we hadn’t been at the beach for quite a while, because on the way Zoe asked me if she could make a snowman there. “Sure, a sandman!” my sister Jana quipped.  :) Zoe had some sort of mix-up between what you can do with sand and with snow, even though she wasn’t in snow this winter either.

But who remembered that sand castles could be so much fun?! Normally the sand creations are left to the males in the family, but since there was none around, the lot fell to me. And it really was fun. Who would have thought? Especially when Catherine found a starfish to use as our front door decoration.

Aunt Claudia is SO fun, my girls think… And I know!

 

What else do a large number of female family members do together?

We have Breakfast at Millie’s, the absolute darlingest, quaintest, most wonderful-tasting breakfast place of anywhere I’ve been. Whenever I visit Sarasota, we make sure to have at least one breakfast there!

Their apricot-stuffed French Toast is a melt-in-your-mouth, take-me-to-heaven-now experience.

However, entertaining young children who have somehow not yet acquired a taste for the finer things in life was a bit of a challenge. Thanks to our dearest friend, Dawn Falb Stoltzfus [who we happened upon in Florida and all were surprised out of our wits], who joined us on this very lovely day, she provided Thomas trains. Actually, my girls played with her son’s trains and he played with my daughters animals. The swap turned out nicely.

Outside of Millie’s. All these people came from Grandma Susan… and this is just the females of ONE family. :) It’s a bit startling to realize how many people could come to be because of me!

And another four-generation picture. These pictures are so special! I know the backdrop has much to be desired, but how very precious is this for my daughters to spend time with their great-grandmother, who is in wonderful health and takes the time to play with them? So precious!

We also went to Panera Bread, and Starbucks. Because when one lives faaaaaaaar away from those places, one can’t resist visiting, at least briefly, can they now? :)

But the most delicious meals were made at Grandma Susan’s house. Breakfast almost every morning was this delicious bowl of yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit, with secret ingredients on top. :) My friend Bethany introduced this to me a year ago and it has become a staple almost year round for me!

And besides more talking, and reading at least 3 books each (at least for those without the two energetic children ~ she didn’t get through more than 2 pages), there was time made for a photoshoot. Well, actually, there was time made for two photoshoots, but well, we reached the location the first night when it was tragically too dark, but we won’t talk about that, because the amateur-photographer-wanna-be’s among us were quite devestated. :)

But we will talk about the one where all was well! And the lightings in the marina was enchanting. And the little boats pulled up on the shore very photo-op-ish.

Oh yes, and need I mention the wind was quite, um, quite very much especially windy? But oh well! :)

^^ I absolutely adore her little vintage dress I picked up at a yard sale. And it was even before yellow was cool. :)

Olivia Caroline, but she mostly goes by “Lovies.” So much so that when Zoe tries to call her by her given name, it usually comes out “O-love-ia”. :)

This picture is worth incredibly much to me. Zoe and her great-grandmother… just brings me to tears!

Sisterhood in Florida, 152

And some pictures of the sisters ~ there are four of us. And it is perfect. I want four girls too, just so my daughters can experience how wonderful it is! I truly cannot even imagine life without sisters, and I know I’m blessed beyond words to have three of them!

Warning: look out for yelling man telling girls to get off boat.

Sisterhood in Florida, 177

 

 

Thus, new location. New boat. :)

 

sister collage

 

And thus the Happy Time of the Sisterhood was concluded. Quite sadly, because now there is no more trip to look forward to. Sometimes it’s almost sad to actually begin a trip that I look forward to for so long, because then I know it will soon end! But now I can relive the memories, and remember how blessed I am…

 

 

43 thoughts on “Reuniting of the Sisterhood

  1. appalolly

    This was so fun to read/look at. A week with sisters and Mom and daughters and Grandma…In Florida!! You are very blessed! I loved how you talked about staying up late every night talking and still not getting around to discussing everything. I could very much relate to that.

    Also, your sister Ervina looks a LOT like you!

    I am glad you are back in blogging land! I love to read what you write and see your pictures. Oh, and the guy telling you to get off the boat…too funny!

    Reply

  2. onehappymomma

    What a beautiful family you have!  These pictures are just priceless.  I have just one sister, so dear to me, that lives on the other side of the country.  I’m on the west coast and she is on the east coast.  I know how happy your heart must have been to be with your sisters.  Thanks for sharing these specials memories!

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  3. loaine

    I have 7 sisters and feel so blessed.The only problem with so many sisters is trying to plan a sister’s day to fit into everyones’s schedule!Not sure if we could ever do a vacation together.   :)

    P.S.We ate at Millie’s last year.They do have the yummiest french toast!

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  4. mytoesareblue

    oh my goodness.. how much fun. it was only my brother and i growing up, so when it comes to sisters the only experience i kind of have it compare to is the girls i was able to live with in the dorm, and in some sense a ‘sisterhood’ was created. One day if my brother is blessed with a wife, I shall have a sister, or perhaps if i am blessed with a husband, i shall acquire some sisters. I look forward to this day.

    it is so great that not only were you able to get together with your sisters, but your mom and grandma were there, as well as your two beautiful daughters. what a fabulous memory for them. Especially having time with their great grandma. I love seeing ‘generational’ pictures of people. such an amazing and Godly lineage to look back at!

    be blessed as you carry your memories of this time together. your smiles are all so beautiful!

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  5. madisonsmom2

    Lovely post, lovely photos!! I can so relate because I just spent a week in FL with my sister. :)We had such good times because there is just no one like a sister!!

    Reply

  6. smilesbymiles

    What an incredibly special week!! Christy is turning thirty this year and for her “party” she said she wants mom and us girls to go to the beach. I am so excited and this makes me even more so! Gorgeous photos of all of you, but the one of your little girls riding in the basket is just THE BEST!

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  7. Elizabethmarie_1

    I love, love, LOVED this post!
    I am so thankful that I have sisters too. And, I am Very thankful that we live close by each other!
    You and your sisters are GORGEOUS!!!  All of you are so very pretty!
    Even though I don’t know you in real life {I would LOVE to meet you someday! I think your husband needs to take you to Chicago for a weekend ;) } I think you are one of the sweetest people I “know”!
    That little saying…..La Dulce Vita….I’m going to have to put that up somewhere. I like that. =)
    I can just imagine how peaceful and wonderful your front porch is.  I can’t wait to sit out on ours! 
    Thank you for your lovely post…I get excited when I see that Clarita has posted!
    Enjoy the rest of your week. =)

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  8. ABAHM

    This is such a wonderful post.
    You sure had a great week. I have two sisters, one lives nearby and the other all the way across country from us. Good thing she visits about once a year.
    I love all the color and pictures, family, and generations.
    I also like your saying and think that is a good thing to rejoice and be thankful for God’s goodness.

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  9. singingrachel

    love and fun times and feeling cherished just come through on these pictures.  wonderful memories for you.

    love “the sweet life” you embrace.  what a gift you are passing on to your very own daughters. and you do it in such a feminine way.  love that.

    Reply

  10. justcallmeM

    You have very lovely photos from your very lovely trip! You ought to get a canvas made of one of them! Oh, and the “La Dolce Vita” saying… I made a cheesecake/cake for the Italian meal I sold last spring and Lois suggested I name the dessert that, since it didn’t really have a name, due to a certain problem I of changing the recipe too much to keep the original name (you know, like when the name has chocolate in it and the dessert I make has no chocolate in it). I plan to post on it sometime to share the recipe. Oh, and I bet I can guess what one “secret” ingredient is on the granola/fruit/yogurt. :)

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  11. grandpas_gurl

    Oh this is just such a fun post…i still think it should be illegal for time to go by that fast…i will cherish those memories together before moving off for a few years!!! Wahhh!! It’s so hard for me to think of seeing you even *less* than before. You are so kind with your words…i feel very unworthy to hear that, because you know what an imperfect sis you have!! ;) So inspired by your life and the way you mother your children with such life and passion, yet are so fun with them!! So much more i could write… love love love this post!! HUGS.

    Reply

  12. SherriMonCheri

    Aww, looks (and sounds) like you had a great week!  I love the pictures!  Your mention of Millie’s reminds me that I haven’t been there in a while…I think it’s time for me to enjoy them again :)

    Reply

  13. mellibella

    It looks like you ALL had such a blessed time.  How wonderful and awesome you spent that time with your family…I know what you mean about being sad that it’s over though.  But with 400 photos you should be able to relive it over and over.  You are all so beautiful!!!! and love just radiates in all of the photos. God is so good. :)

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  14. Anonymous

    there’s fun times and there’s the more lovliest fun times:) i must say that there is something quite contagious about you and your sisters. o, and i MUST learn how to make home- made yogurt for those tastey parfaits. -bethany

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  15. sailing5

    Looks like you had a lovely time! Sisters are so very special! There are 4 in my family too, and we had tons af fun growing up, now I’m way far away from them all, so I can understand how nice your visit was!!

    Reply

  16. rugbana

    Loved this post What gorgeous pictures. I think my fave one was the one of all of you standing on the boat. I am also curious about what font you used on the bottom up close shots of all of you, I really liked it – would like to get it for some digi-scrapbook pages.

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  17. Anonymous

    I know the feeling of starting a long awaited trip…..that’s the way it was w/ my week in Ks w/ my sis! It was SO good to do things together- cooking, talking, hanging out w/ friends and just being together! Sisters are the BEST!!! So glad you got to do this w/ your sisters!

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  18. Anonymous

    I loved your post and gorgeous photos. I marvel at the connection of sisters- no matter how long you are apart

    the minute you get together it seems like you were never seperated.

    Reply

  19. redladybug18

    y’all are so adorable and I love your cute clothes! I think y’all could be practically models b/c your outfits fit together so nicely. I’m sure it helps to have sisters where you could switch around clothes-I didn’t have that privilege. I need tips from y’all and where you guys find such cute stuff :)

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  20. grace_to_be

    yesterday kate and i were just talking about if i had another baby and it was a girl~ FOUR girls!!
    and we both concluded we think that would be pretty cool.
    brothers are great, and i wouldn’t trade mine. but yeah, there’s just something about the SISTERHOOD! <3

    you’re all so gorgeous too! love the shots of you together.. and all your fab outfits!
    spotted that white skirt from audrey’s fashion post that i thought was so pretty~ and guessed it was you b/fore knowing. ;)
    sweet shots of you and own little sister set. such precious girlies.

    really REALLY enjoyed this post.
    and have so enjoyed getting to know you better through it.
    you’re one of those people i find myself really hoping to meet someday. :)

    “La Dulce Vita”

    Reply

  21. inanorchard

    Beautiful pictures Clarita, what precious memories! I agree with you, sometimes the anticipation of the trip is half the fun :) I don’t have a sister (I do have 3 very sweet sister-in-laws) looking at you with your beautiful sisters makes me a little envious :)

    Thank you for sharing this, your beginning paragraphs really resonated with me as well. A friend of my husband’s family just found out that their 5-year-old son has stage four cancer and is undergoing extensive treatments. I can’t help but look at my own blue-eyed, healthy 5-year-old son and ask “Why God? Why her and not me?”. His ways are higher than ours and He deserves our praise through good and bad.

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  22. clearlyhis

    So m.u.c.h. loveliness going on here….as always.

    -love the new header! (or am I way behind and it’s been there awhile already?)

    -Sisterhood…ah!  Sweetness. Beauties…all of you. Including your mom, grandma and little girlies!  Just gorgeousness.  But, what makes it so much more attractive is because of what is within and shining forth! 

    -I want 4 girls too.  Tears….   I love love love my little boys and am so glad they have each other.  Elyse totally adores both of her brothers, but my heart aches, and I cry for a sister for her too.  I also k.n.o.w. of the sweetness of sisters, who I totally cannot imagine living without. (??)  ……………..and I long for Elyse to experience the same.

    -I know totally what you mean about hardly wanting to start a trip that has been so long anticipated for the sadness of it being over with. period.  B.U.T…..the memories always bring warmth and I believe are even life giving long after the trip has ‘ended’.  There are always soooo many happy thoughts to cherish afterwards!!  …..and the ache of missing the people we love the most.  Such a wide range of emotions!

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your girls only week!! …..   Luv you girl!

    Reply

  23. jessnboyz

    I stopped by on Amber’s rec.  I’m so glad I did, boy, such beautiful pictures.   Being an only child, I have always dreamed of having sisters to hang out with.  Such a blessing to have these special times with your family!

    Love your outfits!! 

    Reply

  24. Donna7

    Wow what a blessing indeed! I have 2 brothers but they live 3 provinces away (a good 27 -28 hour drive away). I have always wished that I had sisters. I think when I get to heaven I’ll ask why some people so several and others none. LOL

    We don’t know each other but I have to say I was blessed to read through your post hun!

    Thank you

    Reply

  25. lifeisadance

    @grace2be – You’re one of those people that *I* hope to meet one day. :) But as for me, I’m a common, normal person, so don’t expect too much more than that!! :) And I say the four girls for ya sounds great. :)

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  26. baileyandme

    i also LOVE the “la dulce vita’ idea. how precious and thankful.
    i adored this post. i too have sisters i love so this was special to me.
    can i just say i love how you dress your girls? so lovely yet, innocent. stylish. beloved. i always say when i see little girls with hairbows or braids, you can tell they are loved because someone took the time to tenderly comb them. also the same with painted nails. :) sorry, i just notice little things and love to see children that are treasured!
    the yellow dress caught my eye. delish!! i might use the 3 row lace idea one day… we`ll see. :)
    have a lovely day in JESUS!

    Reply

  27. lifeisadance

    @baileyandme – I have always loved how *you* dress your girls! I love when there is a whimsical look, stylish and fun, but innocent. I think too many little girls are dressed as though they are years older, and I think that’s really sad. And I love what you said about the hairbows/braids thing ~ that it shows they are loved! That is so true! And I love painted toenails on little girls too.  Speaking of which, my girls need a fresh coat! :)

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  28. pinkstarburst86

    i know what you mean about not knowing what you would do without your sisters!! i also have three VERY precious sisters and don’t know what i would do without them in my life!! and i also don’t know what it’d be like living so far away from them!! but i’m sure that makes you cherish those times with them even more!! You are all so gorgeous and your little girlies are CUTE CUTE!! Love reading your blogs!:)

    Reply

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