Category Archives: Travel

Playing hookie at Disneyworld!

I have waited to write this post because I wanted to have time to do it justice, but I am accepting that there is never enough time…

…so I’m just going to do a quick intro, then caption a bunch of photos and say,

“We played hookie for a week and went to Disney!”

The intro:

It was a fantastic, last-minute, unexpected (but always hoped-for!) event.  Grammy and Grandpa came with us (thank you; we loved being with you!).  We pulled all the kids out of school to go.  The timing just worked…T was free because he’s not yet 3; H was easy because he is still very content to sit in a lap or ride in a stroller; the girls are young enough that being out of school is fine (allowing us to go when the crowds were very minimal); and although there was rain (and rain, and more rain!), the reality is that we do fine in the rain.  It’s the lines and heat that get us, and both of those were driven away by the drizzle.

First, a few memories that I don’t have photos for…

(1) The hailstorm on the way down.  Holy moly!  Kudos to my husband for driving safely through that!  And kudos to the kids for rolling with it.  It was so loud they couldn’t even hear us explain what was happening.  Side note: the manufacturer of our sound machine should add a “hailstorm” setting next to “whale call” and “ocean sounds”, because it put T and H to sleep in seconds!

(2) The hotel we stayed in en route.  We entered the lobby during “happy hour” and descended on the buffet like a herd of locusts.  The manager came over and played with the kids, brought them cookies from the vending machine (“since the fresh baked ones we’re making aren’t ready yet”, she told us), and upgraded us to a suite with no extra charge.  The kids were so excited about having a bed in the same room as a TV they went a little bonkers and were jumping on the mattress.  T was so excited at all the hoopla, he exclaimed between happy bounces, “This is awesome!  I love Disneyworld!”   . . . Ha!  I loved hearing that!  We could have just driven to the local Marriott and he would have been totally thrilled. : )

(3) The rides at the parks.  There were too many kids to juggle to get the camera out during most of the rides, but oh how we loved those roller coasters.  E did space mountain with her dad.  Both girls did thunder mountain and splash mountain with dad and me (while Grammy and Grandpa took the boys on a train ride).  And T loved the kiddie roller coaster.  He would have gone on the bigger ones if he had a few extra inches.  Oh well.  Next time!  (Note to future travelers: they insisted that each child have an adult with them on the rides because E is not 7 yet…thank you for braving the roller coaster with us Grammy and Grandpa!  Also, ask us for details on the fast pass and baby friendly “rider swap” program if you’re planning a trip…)

(4) The video I accidentally made, but will never share, on the way home.  I tried to film a short clip of the kids at a mall food court, but accidentally neglected to turn the camera off.  So what I actually have is a 40 minute audio tape of the 6 trips to the mall bathroom we made with the older 3 kids.  (Heaven help me, it was one of those “I have to go again” days and the lines were long and…anyway…it’s an awesome audio of the conversations we had about “what was your favorite part of the trip” and “I loved this” and other priceless memories from the week, interspersed with lots of horrific bathroom sounds.  What are the chances?!

And, of course, the photos:

Hard to choose which ones to share…The kids LOVED meeting the characters.  And we all just loved being together.  Here’s a random scattering:

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a “high five” with Buzz

T after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling.  One of m favorite T photos ever : )

T after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling. One of my favorite T photos ever : )

Poured rain the day we had the princess breakfast...randomly caught a "carriage" to the castle and the girls were beyond thrilled..."a royal carriage" they still recall!

Sweetest S! We surprised you and E with special occasion princess makeup and sticker earrings this day in honor of your breakfast with the princesses.  It poured rain en route and we randomly managed to catch a covered wagon to the castle.  Grandpa and the driver sang to us as we rode.  The girls were beyond thrilled with the whole experience . . . “a royal carriage!” they still talk about : )

Jasmine and her twin, E

Jasmine and her twin, E

Aurora and her twin, S

Aurora and her twin, S

I don't know who those other characters are, but this is my dad and I LOVE him.

I don’t know who those other characters are, but this is my dad and I LOVE him.

Oh My !!!

Oh My !!!

There is no caption to express how happy this photo makes me.  E is dressed as a fairy, and she was able to meet Tinkerbell and Rosetta this day.  S, though not pictured here, was dressed as a fairy also.  T spent part of the day dressed as Thomas the Train because, well, he's the best character ever obviously, even if he doesn't live at Disneyworld.

There is no caption to express how happy this photo makes me. E is dressed as a fairy, and she was able to meet Tinkerbell and Rosetta this day. S, though not pictured here, was dressed as a fairy also. T spent part of the trip dressed as Thomas the Train because, well, he’s the best character ever obviously, even if he doesn’t live at Disneyworld.

Thank you, Grammy!

Two fun lovin’ gals…Grammy and S!

Grandpa and H, taken back at home, but in honor of their many snuggles at Disney.

Grandpa and H, taken back at home, but in honor of their many snuggles at Disney.

Did I mention that it rained?!

Did I mention that it rained?!

H, wanting to hold his mama's hand on the ride home.

H, wanting to hold his mama’s hand on the ride home.  How I treasure these moments… (even though I had to climb into the backseat while we drove down the interstate at 70mph to get my thumb into position…you are so worth it, H!)

I’ll post a few more photos in a future post so you can see T as the cutest beast ever (cast in a short skit with princess Belle…here’s a preview..).

Oh, what a prince charming, that one!

Oh, what a prince charming, that one!

More later!

Adventures in Potty Training (alternate title: Dinner and a Show)

Nana is visiting, and offered to treat us to dinner at the local Hibachi restaurant, much to our delight…

I forgot to make a reservation, so we had to wait a bit.  No problem.  The older kids admired the fish in the tank, and I bounced H, as Nana sent a text message to my husband who is away on a work trip.

The peace was broken when I heard T announce, “I have to go potty!” and turned around to see his pants – and underpants – around his ankles in the crowded waiting area.  That’s right.  Full frontal for the captive audience.

Dinner and a show! (of sorts).

I raced to hand H off to Nana, who said “I’d love to hold him.  Give me one minute to get my phone back in my purse” to which I responded “YOU HAVE TO TAKE HIM NOW!  LOOK AT T!!!”  to which Nana responded “Oh!  OH!  OH MY GOODNESS!!!  T!” to which T responded, “I HAVE TO GO POTTY RIGHT NOW!”  to which I responded by handing off H, picking up T and sprinting to the bathroom while holding T like a weapon naked from the waist down, to which the crowd responded by parting like the Red Sea, to which the host responded by offering to seat our family immediately (an act I discovered when E came to get us in the bathroom).

As a side note: E was shocked to see me helping T stand on the seat and peeing in the potty that way.  (I’m new to this with boys; is that an accepted method in public restrooms with little boys?, because I am open to alternate suggestions…he’s not wide enough to sit on – or tall enough to stand on the floor and use an – adult potty, and although I am queen of carrying the porta potty everywhere we go, there are times when we’re not going to have it…)

Anyway, as if all of that weren’t enough, the chef at our table did the flaming volcano thing that they do with the onion, then brought out a little statue that looked like a boy peeing to douse the flames, which prompted everyone at the table to laugh except for T who was decidedly unimpressed and said, “I do that now too, but I pee in the potty” which I can only assume means that given the choice between peeing (a) into a potty, (b) into a restaurant area crowded with people and (c) into a flaming volcano, T finds only options a & b acceptable.

How’s that for an exciting Saturday night?

(And thank you for dinner, Nana!  And to everyone else, you are welcome for the show : )

Christmas Recap, Part One

I do love Christmas.

I am one of those people who turns the Christmas music on the day after Halloween, plays it non-stop throughout the season and leaves the decorations up way too long.

Case in point: we took our tree down Saturday (ahem, Saturday, January 21…) and are still eating off of our Christmas dishes.  I have plans to pack them up tomorrow, which makes this the perfect day to post some details and photos from the holiday season. What?!  You thought the holiday season ended weeks ago?!  Nonsense : )  Soon you’ll be trying to convince me it’s already 2012.

Anyway, I’ll kick it off with some images from our family trip to Georgia, where my older brother rented a cabin and invited everyone (including Nana, my other siblings, their spouses, and 9 children ages 6 and under) to join him.  Super fun and everything Christmassy (except for the silent nights!)

Here are the kids and cousins coloring Christmas pictures…

and making ornaments…

and playing with Uncle B on the Santa train

and celebrating cousin E’s birthday…

cutting Christmas cookies…

preparing to decorate Christmas cookies (T helped with the set-up)

and having fun with playdo…

I do realize that a lot of these pictures look the same.  I guess I just love them in sequence because they show that regardless of what the activity was, the kids all just jumped right in (is this a factor of their age?  I do love this age…) and simply enjoyed being around that big table together.  Such fun to have so many siblings and cousins in the same photo frame…

Here’s one that looks different, mainly because my brother (the official family photographer) took it and his eye is much more artistic than mine.  Six of the kids listening to stories (including S, who is on the far right with a red halo made out of pipe cleaners perched on her head).

And no, it wasn’t bedtime… (lest the PJ’s and stories throw you…)

It was just an awesome, fun, relaxing, wonderful family get together!

(and because I have to keep it real on some level, can I just say that I truly wish I had taken a picture of the one yard that we drove by on every trip to and from the cabin that had a random toilet in front of it?  When we got back, and friends asked the girls how their trip was, their first words were not about cousins, Santa, playdo, ornaments, stories, bunk beds, train rides, cookies or anything else (though those did get eventual mention…)  Instead…

“We saw a toilet right in somebody’s yard!”

Awesome.  (and lucky for the homeowners that we found a gas station with an open bathroom a few minutes before we spotted that toilet on our initial trip in, because one of the kids had to go, and we were desperate, and, well…let’s just say that I’m glad I didn’t have to explain to the kids why I was leading them to a nearby tree when there was a toilet just waiting in this gentleman’s yard!)

a “priceless” day at the fair, while on a budget

If you read the last post (http://wp.me/p1Auii-cI), you know how much we love the fair.  Here’s a behind the scenes peek at how we make it work without breaking the bank.  (Sorry if some of the this advice is too late for this year!  And I hope this comes across as “here’s what we try”, not “we have it all together”, because I assure you, we do not have it all together!)

But with that in mind, here’s how we keep it (i.e. us and our budget!) from falling completely apart!

–       Buy advance tickets (discount admissions, discount rides, and we love that kids 5 and under are free…the online advance tickets also offer an opportunity to “click here!” for a $20 rebate.  I clicked it, so I’ll either get a check in the mail or a virus on my computer…stay tuned to find out which!)

–       Find the free parking

–       Buy favorite foods (including typical fair foods) at the grocery store before the trip and eat them right before you enter the fair (we had hotdogs, yogurt and granola bars in the car, and the kids walked through the gates carrying popcorn from home in quart size ziploc bags…full tummies and a treat in hand before we saw the first vendor)

–       Set expectations.  Our kids knew they would each get to pick 2 rides and 1 treat before they entered the fairgrounds.  They also knew we were doing the free stuff first (“I’m saving your tickets until we see everything we might want to use them for!”) and eating treats last.  That meant that as we walked from one free activity to another, we had fun conversations about “is that the treat you’re going to pick?” …  “is that the ride you’re going to pick?” instead of begging to do things right then.

–       Know where the fun free things are.  I checked out a local mommy blog and got the 411 before we entered the gates.

–       Take special candy as a special surprise for when your kids need a fix.  (For us this meant breaking out the “Jessie the cowgirl” pez dispensers E had gotten as a birthday present and reloading them.)  Also take suckers (which my kids love and can carry with them for a while.) These came in handy for us when the girls found out the “goody bags” at one tent contained pickles (not their idea of a “goody”, and I offered to trade them the pickles for a sucker).  Extra tip: hide these treats until the moment you need them, so they are a preventative tool instead of something else to beg for!

–       If the kids can ride by themselves, let them.  We assumed we would have to ride with the girls this year (and budgeted accordingly, telling the girls they could each pick 2 rides).  When we discovered they were ok riding alone, that meant we had saved the tickets it would have cost for mom or dad to ride, and the kids could choose extra activities.  (Side note: if part of the family fun is doing it all together, then ignore this or find a balance.  Dad and I each did one ride with the kids.)

–       Do a “looking loop” before your kids pick their rides.  (Our kids are familiar with the language of “looking vs. buying trips” to the store.)  Our looking loop allowed for informed decisions and prevented later disappointments.  The way ours worked:  dad went to have our advance purchase passes converted into real tickets while I did our loop through the Kiddie Land rides with the kids.  Every time they said, “I want to do that right now!”, I could respond, “This is just a looking loop!  I don’t even have the tickets yet!  We have to choose what rides we want to do, then go meet dad to get the tickets.”  After we had seen lots of things to choose from, we had a conversation about what they wanted to do.  (Side note: we encouraged our kids to agree on rides, since it seemed easier and more fun to have them enjoy rides together.  This was pretty easy for us, since (a) they are close in age and (b) E’s excitement about a ride convinced S and vice versa.  When we realized we had a few extra tickets, they decided to spend them on separate rides, so mom and dad split chaperoning for that part and it was no problem.

–       Don’t forget an extra picnic meal with drinks!  We had a picnic dinner and included special drinks (the kids could choose a juice box or they could split the can of Sprite I had brought from home).  After dinner, they got to pick their one treat each at the fair.  They chose ice cream and cotton candy and shared with each other. (I overheard the cutest conversation between E & S about how if they chose different things, they would actually get a taste of two treats; they love it when they think they’ve outsmarted us!)  Note: budget extra if mom and dad are getting treats too.

–       If you can, splurge a little or find a way to make a special activity work.  The girls wanted to ride a horse.  E had been saving her birthday money from Grammy and Grandpa for that opportunity and the fair proved to be just the place.  E was thrilled, and Grammy and Grandpa were a big part of our fair day even though they were faraway (we called them in NY to tell them all about the horses!).  Thanks again for the pony ride, Grammy and Grandpa!

–       Dress in layers.  We threw fleeces under the stroller.

–       Don’t assume your “bigger preschool kids” will be able to walk the whole time.  We took our double stroller and were so glad we did.

–       Avoid the most crowded days if you can.  If you have preschool aged children, try for a weekday morning.  We went right after we picked up E from Kindergarten and had a blast from 3:30-7:30.  Weekends tend to be the most crowded.  (And although we love discount days, this year we decided that saving $12 was not worth the mayhem level crowds that our fair’s special day would save us.)

–   Set your own expectations for behavior accurately.  With young kids, there are bound to be “moments”.  Time it around naps, etc. where your kids have the best shot at success, manage when necessary, and focus on the positive.  At least if someone has a meltdown, you were in an area where the viewing public had lots of more interesting things to look at (the fair!) instead of on aisle three at Target, where we always seem to attract an inordinate amount of attention.

I think that’s most of it.  Bottom line: we had our fun fair day for around $50 (under $30 if I get the rebate…of course it will be over $1K if the rebate button was a hoax that actually opened a portal of doom on my computer…I’m choosing not to think about that…).

Anyway, I know there’s a mastercard commercial in here somewhere that ends, “a day at the fair: priceless”, but laundry calls so instead of writing it all, I’ll just stick with that punchline, and say that if you are so inclined, we hope you enjoy your well-budgeted/priceless day at the fair!

Picking apples…making apple pie…rejecting apple pie…eating gummi bears!

We spent Friday evening with our cousins, Saturday apple picking and Sunday making apple pie!  What a fun weekend (though we really missed daddy, who was traveling for work Friday and Saturday…)

Our recipe for fall fun:

(1) Find a place to pick apples

(2) Have a great time picking apples!

(3) Play on the farm while mom convinces the owner to let her send him a check to buy the apples we picked, since she cannot find her wallet.  Then play with mom while we celebrate the nice man who agreed!  Play options = demonstrations on how to turn apples into apple cider, four tire swings, a porch full of rocking chairs, nature walks, and tables of sample apple goods including apple cake (!).

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making apple cider (after the man spent 5 minutes explaining why this apple cider is very different from & so much better than apple juice, he gave S a sample and she exclaimed, "Yum! It tastes just like apple juice!") I think I was the only one amused by this...

one of four tire swings...we tried them all!

(4) Load everyone into car to drive home.

(5) Unload everyone from car because as we’re leaving I discover my wallet in the center console, which means we can go back in and pay for apples.

(6) Buy ice cream because (a) it’s ice cream, (b) we now have mom’s wallet, and (c) mom needs a break before loading everyone back into the car again.

(7) Eat fantastic ice cream on a porch swing and get so wonderfully messy that T has to go shirtless the rest of the day.

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Chocolate ice cream - 1; T's shirt - 0

(8) Head home.

(9) On Sunday afternoon:  Have a fantastic time coring apples at home

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(10) Realize that we have two apple coring devices in the kitchen, which means we accidentally stole one from my sister last year.  Sorry, Jake!  We owe you an apple core thingy!

(11) Roll out the dough!  (OK this is probably not what my grandmother meant by “rolling out the dough”…although technically – if you look closely at the picture – there is rolling involved here…)

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If you can't make out the image of the red box in the background, it is pre-made pie crust. Sorry grandma!

(12) Prepare the pie.  Get the supreme compliment from E, who claims “the pie looks just like the one Snow White made for the dwarves in the movie, except hers had writing on the top”.

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This is the pie Snow White made in the movie for "Grumpy" and is what my kids wanted me to do. Wouldn't my husband have loved it if I had served that for dessert without explanation. Fortunately for all of us, I am not that skilled with the dough.

(13) Put a strip of dough on the top to spell the word “I” (I admit…a token effort…but it was easy, and everyone in the family could pretend it was personalized just for them…).

(14) Read stories and eat dinner while the pie is cooking.

(15) Cut the pie.  Have the kids taste it.  Determine that no children like it.  Serve ice cream with gummy bears for dessert.

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"gummi bear a la mode"

(16) Move everyone out to the driveway to help wash the mud from the apple farm off the car.  Take turns spraying each other with the hose.  End result: car still muddy, kids very wet.

(17) Decide a spray with the hose counts as baths for everyone.

(18) Collapse into bed.

All in all, a very successful apple pie making experience…

And a very, very fun weekend…

Even if – after all of that –  my kids chose “gummi bears a la mode” as the better dessert!

Note to self (re: navigational systems)

Note to self:

When the building you need is located on “Six Forks Road”, borrow your husband’s GPS.

Seriously.   Six Forks.   You’d think that would have been my first clue that I was in way over my head.

On the upside, I did find the building – and within it – a consignment sale where I struck gold by discovering, among other things, a pair of $1 ballet slippers for S (my budding ballerina) and an $8 Halloween costume for E (who is desperate to be Princess Jasmine this year).

So what if I spent approximately one-zillion-dollars on gas?!

Photo of the Week (and a shout-out to Aunt B!)

My brother snapped this photo of our crew headed into a Carolina football game last Saturday.  I have officially declared it the photo of the week (though the king’s robe and the “stoolagmite” photos I posted earlier at http://wp.me/p1Auii-7V were strong contenders).

From L to R: Me (pushing T in the stroller), Aunt B (holding baby cousin G), E, big cousin G, S & cousin E. For those who have lost count that is 6 tiny Tar Heels with their 2 mamas.

To quote my sister-in-law, Aunt B, “We may not have been the starting offensive line, but we were pretty good at blocking the sidewalk”.

True that, Aunt B!

Thanks for making gameday so much extra fun!

Who peed in this guy’s milkshake?

We encountered hundreds of friendly people on our recent trip, but of course we have to tell about the exception!

Introducing:

The crazy ice cream guy…

The backstory:

On Wednesday (the one day my husband had to work) my inlaws and I decided to go to the Turtle Rescue Center, only to discover that it is open every weekday except Wednesday.  Oops.  But no worries, because (a) we’ll come back tomorrow and (b) the rescue center is right across the street from the Patio Playground, where there are 18 holes of miniature golf and a rockin’ ice cream stand.

After a questionable beginning, i.e.

–       S needing to go to the bathroom

–       which required the owner of the stand to un-lock the chained and padlocked porta-potty

–       which allowed S to peer into the blue poop lagoon at its base

–       which resulted in her request that I flush it

–       which prompted my explanation of porta-potties

–       which inspired S’ decision that she didn’t really need to go, because – as I’m sure you know – 3 year olds are known for their ability to hold it

but I digress…where was I?  Oh, yes…

After a questionable beginning… we turned our attention to the ice cream stand.

The conversation:

(Note: my mother-in-law heard the whole thing and can vouch for the accuracy of this account)

Me: The kids would like three cookies-n-cream ice cream cones, please.

Ice-cream guy: Are you sure you want the ice cream in cones?

Me: Yes, please.  Three cones.

Ice-cream Guy (looking at my children):  I’m sure you’d rather have their ice cream in cups.

Me: No.  They love the cones almost as much as the ice cream, so we’ll take the cones.  Thanks, though.

Ice-cream guy: Cones just mean a big mess for you to clean up and a big mess for me to clean up.  How about cups?

Me: No.  I told them they could pick whatever they wanted.  They can see that you have ice cream cones.  That’s what they asked for, so that is what I’m ordering for them.   Please.

Ice-cream guy:  If they asked for a pistol, I guess you’d buy it for them.

Me (in disbelief): No, I wouldn’t.  And that is the reason I brought them to an ice-cream stand instead of a gun shop.

———————————————————–

I cannot type all my internal thoughts.  But the tamest among them are (1) Did he really just equate a sugar-cone with a firearm?  and (2) This guy might be in the wrong line of work.

I wish I had a picture of my mother-in-law’s face as I turned around after having this conversation.  She overheard everything, and her expression was priceless.

And, as a side-note, the owner’s wife was an angel.  After her husband left to run an errand, she let the girls play a free hole of miniature golf – “as long as you agree not to tell him when he returns”.  That placed me (and my three young children) simultaneously on hole one and in the middle of her marriage to the psycho.  Not exactly what you envision when you take the kids out for a treat…

Anyway, the kids loved their cones and their miniature golfing experience, and my mother-in-law and I bonded even further as we relayed the story to my father-in-law who missed the exchange when a phone call required him to spend an extra five minutes in the car.  Lucky man.

Or a wise man, taking the call.  Perhaps he smelled trouble from the beginning?

Then again, I guess that could have just been the stench from the chained and padlocked porta-potty…

Which in retrospect, should have been some sort of sign that this was not the best place to get ice cream for the kids!

A taste vs. a tease

This spoon was in the kitchen of the beach house we stayed in last week.

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Upon initial inspection (size, cute factor, my forgetting to pack any toddler-sized flatware, etc.), I decided it was the perfect spoon for feeding one year old T.

I was mistaken.

In fact, T, despite his inability to speak, has still managed to officially declare this the most confusing/frustrating spoon in America.

You see, T loves hot dogs.  Loves them.

This means that whenever we gave him this spoon, the poor guy would see his oatmeal on one end of the spoon and the hot dog on the other.  Quite understandably, he went for the hot dog approximately 100% of the time.

What a tease for T…

What a mess of oatmeal, falling off the other end of the spoon!

And for those who are concerned, please note that we did switch to a different spoon, since we never knowingly torture the children.  Still, once they have the idea that hot dogs are an option, no one is eating oatmeal.  Cue the spitting noise…

“Pppppppfffffffffttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt”.

Thanks for the oatmeal shower, T.

Excuse me while I go get a wash cloth…

And while I’m getting that, could someone please boil this kid a hot dog?

Let’s give T a taste instead of a tease!

Beach Vacation Recap!

We are back from our beach vacation!  It was fantastic!  And we are so grateful to some wonderful folks who made it possible.  They get the first shout-outs on this “beach vacation edition” of our traditional post-travel game.

That’s right.  It’s time for another edition of “shout-outs and boo-hiss”!

Shout-outs!

–       To our beloved “outlaws” (i.e. my sister’s inlaws) who loaned us their beach house.  Hello beautiful beach, wonderful pool, fantastic playground, amazing home, and a setting that inspires quantity and quality time with family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you outlaws.  Please take us up on our offer to host you anytime!

–       To my beloved inlaws, who joined us for the vacation and unexpectedly extended our trip several days by renting a nearby condo.  (How fantastic is that?!)  Thank you for that, and for everything else, including making the trip from NY, the wonderful meals, fun art supplies and such great time with the kids.  In case you are wondering whether they felt the love, while we were floating out in the ocean with E & S (while you were graciously listening out for the napping T in our house), S told me “I saved you and dad from that wave, mom.  But you know, if you and dad had floated away, I know Grammy and Grandpa would take care of us.”  That is a grandkid who feels secure with her extended family (although clearly not completely secure in the ocean).  And don’t worry, we would never float away (for more than 2 weeks… to a tropical island… with at least one pay phone… where you might be able to reach us… what was I talking about again?)

–       To the kids.  Have I mentioned recently how much I love this age?  They are up for anything.  On this trip: kites, sandcastles, swimming, a game of “Pretty Princess”, several card games (some high intensity “Ursala” – the Disney version of “old Maid” – from this crew) and Jenga.  We also carried our dramatic productions seaside, with many presentations of the little mermaid movie.  (Script includes covering legs with sand, having mom play the mean witch who traps the mermaids voice in a seashell during a mermaid song, and a dramatic moment where the legs emerge from the sand as Ariel becomes human).  Note to self: Beach is not the place for reproducing the Tinkerbelle movie, since although pixie dust in the face equals flying fairy, sand in the face equals crying sibling. 

–       To the local surfer who let our girls touch his surfboard.  They had just spent 10 minutes watching surfers ride the waves and then got to meet “a real surfer!” and feel a real board.  You’re cool with us, man.

–       To Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, for reminding me that a book is the ultimate escape (well, right next to a beach vacation).

–       And finally, to the Turtle rescue center we visited with the kids.  Totally volunteer run.  Totally important.  Totally amazing.  What a great thing for the animals.  And what a great thing for the kids . . . I just love it when they get an opportunity to meet people who are actually working every day to make the world better in a way that they can – at their young ages – really understand.  We are now all about turtles, by the way.  (Well, turtles, surfers, mermaids, and of course still princesses and cowgirls.  What can I say…with 2 minute attention spans, we have time for a little bit of everything…but turtles are an important addition to the list.)

And…boo-hiss

–       Boo-hiss to the fisherman who accidentally caught “Lennie” the Sea Turtle in his net and reacted by smacking Lennie in the head, permanently blinding him.  Lennie is now a lifetime resident of the rescue center and the favorite patient of E & S.  We’ll tell you what we told the girls: that the fisherman (who we did not meet, but heard about when listening to Lennie’s story) made a mistake and has hopefully learned a better way to react if it happens again.  Still… he earns a boo-hiss, and S delivered the ultimate punishment as we left the building.  “I am not inviting that fisherman to my birthday party.”  Sorry, man.  Her birthday is in February.  That gives you 6+ months to make some serious amends.

–       To the worst ice cream man in history.  This guy earns his own blog post.  Stay tuned.

–       To the end of summer vacation.  I just love long summer days with the kids, and I have especially enjoyed these special months knowing that E starts Kindergarten this week.  Can you believe she is big enough to go to Kindergarten?  Wasn’t she born, like, two weeks ago?!

But . . . we still have a few days of summer left to enjoy, so I’m off to enjoy them. More vacation details coming soon!