Embracing the unexpected

We were heading out of Bethany Beach, DE last Sunday after a much needed weekend away -lovingly paid for by my mother who knows what the beach means to me and the family. It was a gorgeous morning and as we headed north towards Rehoboth I was thinking a few things:

1. I was feeling not as relaxed as a weekend away might create. My kids were irritating me. They left a pizza out all night long – the last one to take a piece after Kevin and I said our goodnights didn’t put it away – well there went breakfast. And upon doing my last sweep through the house I found a roll of paper towels in the kids bathroom. I realized there was no toilet paper in the bathroom -so guess what was used as toilet paper for the weekend? Yep the paper towels. No harm done-the toilet still flushed-but I was so frustrated at why this occurred. Why not seek out toilet paper that we always bring to the beach? Why not just ask!? Oh yea-their teens. If I can laugh I can deal-but I wasn’t in a laughing mood on that Sunday. I just was growly at all who surrounded me. I dislike that feeling.
2. I was thinking how Kevin and I need to get away ALONE. And I also know how hard that is but maybe we can make it happen. –soon–
3. As we crossed over that bridge and I was less than relaxed I realized that I hadn’t put my feet in the ocean the whole weekend. I have no idea why I didn’t but it began to bum me out the more I thought about it.

As we came off a bridge that separated Bethany from Dewey and Rehoboth, I said aloud “I didn’t put my feet in the ocean the whole weekend.” And Kevin said “it’s not too late. You can still do that”. What a guy. So he suggested we pull off the road in Dewey Beach and I could put my feet in the water and then we would head off.

So we found a quiet street and parked the car. Dewey Beach is a family beach to a degree but it is also known as a party beach where 20 and 30 something’s flock on weekends to drink and well meet up. It’s been that way for years so at first I was unsure what we might see on the sand. It was after ten in the morning but… The kids jumped out of the car too because they wanted that last touch of the Atlantic.

Over the dune we went and on the other side was beautiful sparkling water and a handful of people on the beach. Mostly there were families and I saw no signs of leftover partiers from the night before. The best part? The DOGS! There were lots of dogs. After September 15, dogs are allowed on the beach. And Dewey likes their dogs! It was so nice.

We walked out to the edge of the shore took off our shoes. I put my feet in the ocean and it was great! Why had I not done this all weekend? I used to be a huge ocean swimmer but as I got older I became less tolerant of cold water and more leery of rough water. I am a very good swimmer I spent years on swim team and in the pool in general. I was the girl you had to pull out of the ocean to go-I never wanted to leave. But over the years I have become a dipper. Toe in -wading to my shins. Then I got cancer and then came the lymphedema and shoulder mobility issues and I realized -darn it- now I can’t swim- at least not in the ocean. I couldn’t save myself in rough waters. That just stinks. I don’t like to feel that vulnerable. Before my omission from ocean swimming had been my choice but now it was a real limitation – something taken away. I didn’t like it. But that wasn’t the reason I didn’t put my feet in the ocean until Sunday morning. I honestly just didn’t feel like it Friday and Saturday. I can’t even explain why. It wasn’t until it was slipping away as we headed home that I realized I felt a loss in not doing so.

When those waves washed over my feet and I stood on that gorgeous beach it was like a perfect moment. The water was just the right temperature, the undertow minimal and not too many waves. My kids were enjoying the water too. I realized I wasn’t as annoyed at them as I had been. I wanted to stay. One kid said something about getting his suit on- next thing I knew we all were taking turns getting changed in the car. I had to dig deep in a mass of stuff to get my suit out of my bag and it was proving hard for my arm but I persisted bc I was staying and I was getting in that water. And not just my toes -all of me- ok well most of me-I needed to be careful still- but i wasn’t going to not go in out of fear.

What transpired was a wonderful 2 hours that finally relaxed my mind. The growly part of me went away for a while. I swam more that day then I had in years (ok I did not swim but I enjoyed waiting for waves and dodging them – and I will swim – really swim- again – it’s on now). My husband and kids swam more that day than they had all weekend. I went into the water much further than my toes. I felt freer than I had felt for weeks. I won’t be a toe in the water lady anymore.

After a couple hours we called it a day. I couldn’t find the sunscreen in the car when I was changing into my suit so that was not good for Kevin and me. My darker kids fared better. We were just the right blend of sandy and toasty.

It was the perfect unexpected morning. We all seemed a little lighter and the world a bit brighter. I’m thankful for that time. Sometimes you just don’t know when something as seemingly insignificant as putting your feet in the ocean will turn into something special.

Thanks for reading.
PS – my husband and I still need that time alone. I’ll be working on that.


Kevin remembering his days in Dewey – oh have things changed.


Hewey, Dewey, and Lewey – aka – L, K and the famous Ozzy- subject of a few posts here.




I have this picture to remind me of that feeling of when my toes hit that water.


I may be dancing or balancing – I’ll take dancing..


Thats Paisley and her mom. Paisley was a sweet rescue who is like velcro to her mom except the few times she saw another dog chasing a ball- and she wanted our frisbee.


I did not want to get out of the ocean!


The boys going for a swim.


Dogs were everywhere- I loved it!


Ozzy spends a lot of time searching for shells. He is quite lucky and found this sand dollar over the weekend- 1 of 3!! I was amazed.

Quality Time…I hope…

Things are changing…the Sweeney family used to travel in a pack – the five of us were together much of the time for the last 7-8 years when my husband began his sales job and had a home office. We just seemed to do almost everything together.  Out of the mini-van we all came- sometimes with a dog or two in tow. We spent hours and hours at each kids sports events- each sibling rooting the other on. (or doing a puzzle-but we were all there)…We had dinners together regularly, we vacationed together, we were at WalMart together, the shoe Store, Kohls, TJ Maxx, we all showed up to friends get- togethers. We were unit.  We were together so much and probably my hubby and I did not take enough date nights together. But we traded that for good conversation with our kids – and I suppose sometimes not so good conversations. My boys were best-friends playing together for hours together.  Now it makes me happy if they hang out in each others company without fighting every 5 minutes. Its not the same these days.

Over the last few year our eldest child – our daughter- began doing a few more things on her own : more sleep-overs, more church events, just more stuff that didn’t include all of us. Then the boys followed suit with their own stuff. This week I find myself home with my two boys-my mom is visiting for the week – my daughter is in Florida for a week visiting my dad and his wife. My husband is in Chicago on business. One day after my daughter arrives home this week she is off again on a church mission trip for another full week – then she gets back and her practices begin for Field Hockey and both my boys are going to go out for different sports this year- a first since they were very young.  As I was driving to pick up one son from soccer camp i realized I am getting glimpse into our future – where we are living our own lives- meeting for a few hours to try to reconnect as we head back out. It’s not a shock – it just came pretty fast is all. One day we were a unit and together so much- and on occasions (many) we drove each other nuts – but the next day my kids are flying alone to Florida. Wow…

I am proud of my kids and their walk into adulthood. I miss their littleness but I like this time too. It is when you really see if anything you have tried to teach them is coming to fruition. They are making new friends, going to new schools, circumventing those tough teen years and trying to figure out who they are or who they want to be. Its a hard time for them but can also be a wonderful time too. Floating between child and adult- learning how to make choices  – sometimes big ones that can effect their entire life.

My role as a parent has changed quite a bit. I am there to help guide and set boundaries. To encourage and to help lift them up when they make mistakes – but to also help them learn from them. Its much different than raising them and telling them stop hitting, use inside voices (though this still comes up!), wipe feet- nose – mouth etc.

So times have changed- they are home less – and when here doing more of their own stuff..maybe not emerging during the day except for meals – or not being home at all. How do we stay connected?  I suppose my husband and i need time to connect with them more than they think they need it with us.  I have decided that i am not going to get quantity time anymore. So it has to be quality time.

While they are gone they can connect with us through the phone- I bet every parent i know has a love/hate relationship with their kids cell phones. But I am so glad my daughter has a phone with her in Florida – she shares photos and calls and texts us regularly. I am seeing this is something she needs too as we did not set any expectations when she boarded that plane to Florida. We just hoped she would miss us- a little. When we are all home again at the end of the week we will have very little time where we will all be together again — one day only — maybe we can carve out a few hours (or one) to sit together to eat and reconnect before each one takes off again.

We will get better at ( and more used to) this juggling act I am sure. This is the life with teens. They need to fly off and make their own lives and they need to come home again to a place where they are welcome, and the world is familiar and they are loved. So my goal is quality time – not quantity- it makes me mindful to pick my battles and to make sure our time is used wisely. There will be slip ups because i am super-impatient and will probably pounce on a returning kid from time to time yelling at them to get this or that done before they head out again – (its all about delivery I am learning)… but I hope in the long run my kids will someday know how much they are loved and will remember to reconnect with us and their siblings as often as they can. We built this family to support each other and to love each other and to be there for each other when it might seem nobody else is.

Thanks for reading…





Beach on my mind (and my heart)…

We are back from our beach trip. I was not ready to come home this time. I missed my dogs (we took one with us) and I missed the horses and other critters but not enough yet to be pining to come back. Maybe that would have taken another few days.

I am typically a home body. I am not a world traveler – I dislike planes- I dislike strange places until I get used to them – sometimes I never do. There are places I want to see but some of them require plane flight and I am just not that into being in a small tube in the sky. If i do fly it will be under the influence of some relaxation drug. Or I will have to be in first class…like that will happen! Kevin and I would like to take an RV trip across the country. To me being in an RV is like taking your home with you to strange places. There is something comforting to me in that.  Home is where its at to me. But on this beach trip I was sad to leave – why- bc I had to leave the ocean. So at some point I think home and the ocean will have to be one in the same.

This time at the beach I fell in love with a new community within Bethany Beach- Middlesex Beach. It sits just south of Sea Colony and North of South Bethany.  It is a private beach limited to residents and guests. There are homes on the oceanside and on the other side of the road from the ocean. Many homes are large but inviting. They say big family gatherings to me.  We were fortunate to be just yards from the beach and boy do you get spoiled hearing the waves crashing on the shore at night. And there was the matter of the shower- the beautiful travertine tiled rain head shower- that was in house number 2 that we stayed in. There were 4 rain head showers in the house- they made showering and event. I seriously miss that shower and i must have one of these showers in my future home!

Middlesex is one of those places that is like its own little town. I am not sure how many residents live there year-round but I think there are a number of them. Many homes are rentals too which makes those of us who long to have a beach home close to the waves be able to enjoy some time in this neat community.  All the security guards were nice- they treated my dog Pierce with many goodies.  He is very shy and they were really trying to win him over.   We talked books and dogs along with other topics. We really felt welcomed there.

My friend Annie lives in Middlesex and the entire community knows her (I think most of Bethany knows her bc she is the most friendly person you could meet – and fun!) I had not seen Annie in years and years and it was like no time went by in our reconnecting.  Annie was the one instrumental in our having such a nice beach time as her agency provided us with the 2 homes we stayed in.  If you are planning a trip to the Bethany Beach area or are considering buying a home give her agency a call. I owe her this plug bc she really made our trip really great! Plus you will just like her!

I think coming home meant having to deal with things I was trying to put off or not deal with..some health issues which are getting on my last nerve…selling our other home..and of course carting kids to all of their activities. The chauffeur service is back in form just 2 days after being home! Being at the beach seems far better to me!

I am very glad to be back with all the dogs- dogs are my solace and really just part of me and my being.  It is weird to some but to some of you dog people out there who get it.  If I did not have dogs I would not be complete! So it is good being all together again.  We do plan on getting back to the beach again soon. Maybe August but definitely September. My dad has also arranged for us to come to see him Florida in December…that will be a drive but will be nice to be there for the holiday.

Kevin and I know we want to settle in some beach community somewhere in the near future. We have discussed going further south. But we both have such comfort in Bethany- didn’t I say we are home bodies?  So this week we thought maybe being in Bethany (and boarding the horses nearby if they are still with us) might be a good choice. And in the deep winter we could spend a month in another southern beach location. I like the sound of that!

God puts things on our hearts. I have had many things on my heart.  I had a farm on my heart, writing on my heart, adoption on my heart, photography on my heart and I have the beach on my heart. A lot of those things that were on my heart I have done or I do right now. I think the things on our hearts are the things we will fight to get. Or maybe they are things that when we have them or do them we feel more complete. Those things on our hearts are gifts I think.  After the year we have had I know more than ever that life is short and planning for the future is important but living life today is the only sure thing we have.  I have mentioned in another post that when you are faced with a situation that makes you realize life is short and very precious that you shrink your timeline for doing things you once said you wanted to do in the future.  I want to make sure I am enjoying life now- not in ten years when we have this or that..I can have long range plans but the ones that mean so much to me – like the beach- they need to be part of my now. Maybe not living there yet but certainly spending more time there.

So I hope that the beach is within our reach and we will live there one day. In the meantime I am thinking wouldn’t it be nice to get there every 6-8 weeks? Well one can dream:) I for one know that dreams of the heart can come true…

Thanks for reading…


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Beach Lottery

This was going to be a post about our vacation to Bethany Beach De.–which we are in the midst of.  And it is still going to be about Bethany but it is the post is taking a different road than I originally thought it would .

I was going to tell you a little history of Bethany and that I have been coming to this quiet Delaware beach since I was a child. If you want to know more about Bethany Beach (located between busy Ocean City Maryland and growing to be busier Rehobeth Beach Delaware- click here).

I will extrapolate on the fact that I have been coming to this shore since I was a kid. My dad and mom (when they were married) would bring us down for a week of sun and sand each summer. We would spend a week here in Bethany and another with my nana in Cape May, NJ. Many memories were created and I inherited my love for the beach from my dad. He lives on the beach now (Marco Island, Fl). It is no surprise to me that he retired on the beach. It is what I hope to do in the not too distant future- but maybe not in Florida – hopefully right here in Bethany Beach.

Kitchen our original house

Kitchen our original house

This year we weren’t going to go to the beach due to the added medical expenses we have incurred. But after a short visit in April I felt we needed the break as a family in June. I began to look for a place to stay and realized that a mini-week that I hoped to get was going to be hard to come by. Then a light went on- I know a realtor in Bethany! We had gone to Catholic grade school together and had just reconnected on Facebook. Annie had written me encouraging notes during my cancer treatments and was sending prayers up on my behalf.  It was so comforting hearing from her.

So I sent her an message and soon enough she got us a house steps from the ocean for a very great price.  My kids were so excited – Kevin was excited- I was beyond excited.

So this week we hit the beach- when we got to the house we loved it immediately. Annie said it was older and it was but it had a lot of charm.  Best of all you could hear the Ocean from the deck.  We could be on the beach in less than 2 minutes. So we had a great day at the beach yesterday. Got the required burn and ate at my husbands favorite crabhouse.  It was a great first full day at the beach.

dune landk boardblur crab

We needed to connect with each other and we needed to slow down. Being near the beach like this allowed us to be focused on just being at the beach..we didn’t have to drive there and find parking and get distracted by other things. It has been pure relaxing on the beach.


We went to the boardwalk the first night we were here. Bethany has a small boardwalk but it is very nice. We had a walk up to each end. There was a movie playing on the beach on a giant blow-up screen. I had to see that up close. This began the first of many laughs we have had since Monday (and it’s only Wednesday) when I asked my kids if they dared me to step over to the screen and  face all those people waiting for the movie to come on. They dared me- so I went..I stood there and did a little dance right in front of all those people – no body but my kids seemed to notice- a few folks up front laughed some- was it at me? I didn’t care bc I was fully enthralled that I had embarrassed my kids enough that they ran away from the entire event that lasted maybe 15 seconds. I told them you only live once- might as well dance.  Last night Kevin and I were in belly laughs over a lengthy discussion about the words of a song that we both could not remember…Gary Wright “Love is Alive” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCc7XJRDD74. Why that was so funny I have no idea but even today we are still laughing.


The beach blow up movie screen where I will forever remember embarrassing my kids!

night beach

I just feel so very thankful that Annie was able to help us get a house on our meager budget and so close to the ocean!  We loved the house and its rustic charm. It reminded me of beach houses from my youth.  I am using past tense on this part of the post because even though our vacation is supposed to end on Friday we are no longer in that house.  No –we did not get kicked out.  Early this morning (Wednesday AM) there was a knock on my door and a woman from Annie’s real estate office told me that there was a home a few doors from where we were that had become available and it was more modernized than the home we were in –  if we wanted it we could have it and stay until Saturday! What? I think my mouth was hanging open. It took a few minutes for my mind to catch up to what was going on.  I walked down to see the house with Kathy (the woman who had come to tell me we won the house lottery). Kevin had caught up with us by then having returned from the store.  One look at the place and we were in. So we packed up all our stuff and made our way a few homes down to begin the second part of our vacation in a new location!  This home is nicer and more modern. We could never afford this type of place this close to the beach – so we really did win the lottery as far as I’m concerned.

What a kind thing for Annie to do for us. We liked the first place just fine and we intend to try to stay there next summer if we can swing it financially. This place  we are in now is equipped with rain head showers, travertine all over,  wood floors, and awesome furnishings. Oh and you can not only hear the ocean you can see it…and its just as close to the beach as the other house.  Sometimes I feel like tides have shifted and after a hellish year we are in for some better times. I don’t ever let myself get to comfortable in that fact- I am the kind of person that is always waiting for the other shoe to drop- it is part of the anxiety that is part of me. But for now I am basking in our winnings as we enjoy this vacation and the connection and laughter it brings us.


Our second beach house for the week!


New kitchen


Awesome shower!


This is what the beach is about to me. The cathartic roar of the waves, the smell of the water, laughter, food, relaxing with no place to go. Without trying the connections to each other get stronger.  For a few days we can forget the real world and all the trappings of a regular day.  And enjoying a fancy house isn’t bad either!


Thanks for reading!

PS – Annie is very involved helping women with breast cancer and their families through an organization called Little Pink Houses of Hope – she also runs a fun run in Bethany Beach in the Spring. Annie’s real estate firm – click here.



Family Selfie!

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