"Sand, sun, and water. Give me and my children those three things and we will be happy. Barefeet, cool sea mist, the smell of sunscreen and beach snacks all bring happy memories from my childhood, and are favorites of my children. This does not apply to my husband who would rather walk across coals that get sand in between his toes, and inevitably burn under the sun. But on this Tuesday afternoon at Palm State Beach, he was bent over the sand, bucket in hand, molding a nascent sandcastle with my children and their friends from preschool. He related the building to the book “How to Code a Sandcastle,” where a little girl codes her robot to build her a kingdom of castles, and my children’s favorite part was gathering decorations for their sandcastle. When your father has been gone 70% of your life, building a sandcastle with him and a few of your friends is pretty magical. They cherished those items they gather for the sandcastle, pieces of seaweed, rocks, feathers and crustacean shells. When we left, they refused to leave those items behind, so they came home with us and became part of this project. Constantly the active parent during deployments, moments like this, as the passive observers are incredibly important for mothers. It allows us to reflect on our family, and our children while being present, filling up our emotional banks with much needed love and admiration for our family. The quiet observations of life are few and far between in Motherhood, grab onto them and hold them for as long as you can, preserve them."