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I love including nature exploration opportunities in our homeschool (and life in general). Give me a good hike, some hastily packed snacks in a backpack, and some time to explore and I’m a happy lady. Little B has been down for the count lately, slowly recovering from his last football injury. When a fellow homeschool mom planned a guided reef walk at Ala Moana Beach Park I jumped at the opportunity. There is one thing to go in alone, discovering all of God’s beauty and creations, and an entirely different experience to have an expert on hand to inundate with questions and inquiries. Little B is more of a forgo the expert/guided tour/docent talk, etc. etc. Internally (and externally at times) he groans at the prospect of attending such a function, instead happy and content to figure things out on his own. Thankfully, yesterday he was all groanless and excited at the prospect of exploring the reef with experts on hand.

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Our reef walk was super early in the morning (this former morning person is becoming a not-so-much-anymore-morning person), as in 815am. Our location was the beautiful Ala Moana Beach Park in downtown Honolulu, with the always amazing Diamond Head in the background. We pelted our guides with too many questions, marveled with glee at both our own discoveries and those of others, and left with tons of knowledge to boot. Plus, it piqued our interest in a lot of the creatures we saw, which always leads to further reading, exploration, and inquiry. I love how learning is not only never ending, but life long, and always tons of fun.

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If anyone really made out on Poppa Brooks’s birthday, though, it was The Boy. He came home from the reef walk a bit sore in his bad leg but thankfully his dear friends from VA were online and they played for a bit in the early afternoon. We had a short day of school due to the reef walk (I wont’ lie, we finished our language arts in the first 10 minutes of the car ride), and jumped in the car with Brooks to find some waves for him to ride on his very special day.

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Now, there are lots of things I love. I’m a joy filled person so I find delight in some silly trivial things, but my goodness, how I LOVE how my Beau loves the ocean. We’ve been married nearly 14 years – and boy have they flown by! – but I’ve never really been able to experience his joy and devotion to a hobby or passion like I have here on the island of Oahu. Forget the first two duty stations. Between deployments and the training schedule, he just didn’t have much time for self led pursuits, and rightly so, with the demands his job required at the time. But here, in beautiful Oahu, with the North Shore a short ride away, a surf board in the garage begging to be ridden, and a passion that knows no bounds (and time, precious sweet time) he’s like a kid who has discovered the joy of the carnival ride, or riding down hill with no hands, or the face you see on kiddos faces on Christmas morning. Seriously, this guy is smitten with the ocean and especially with surfing. I LOVE it!

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So what better way to celebrate his birthday, his very special day, then to spend it doing the things he loves. We spent the weekend doing mainly water sports, capping off the weekend with a BBQ right on the beach while Poppa Brooks and LB surfed. Since his birthday fell on a workday we figured we would head out to find some waves the minute he got home, and would then end the night with some crazy good sushi on the North Shore at Bonzai Sushi (which is AMAZING, by the way).

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It took some work to find waves: the first beach was a bust because of a shark spotting, the second was no good, and with daylight quickly fading we headed back to the first beach, you know the one with the shark sighting because that’s fun (I hope my sarcasm came across as just that), and My Beau took off to enjoy some waves before the light faded. I didn’t worry one bit, but I surely wasn’t stepping in that water myself! LB and I played and relaxed in the sun and watched Brooks surf.

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Life is pretty stellar. I’m grateful for the ability to celebrate another one of his birthdays together. It’s hard to take that for granted after the deployments, after knowing that so many didn’t come home. I don’t want to miss any moment or take anything for granted. It’s not so much about living recklessly in today but about seeing each day as an opportunity to love those around you, to tell them often, and to enjoy the blessings God has given us.

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I remain grateful, always.

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