Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Beach Vacation {a.k.a. lots of cute kid pictures}

We just had our second annual beach vacation!  It was wonderful.  Lots of quiet beaches, family time, sand castles, boogie boarding, and laughter with my parents and my sister's family.  We've been looking forward to it all year.

We brought home lots of shells and lots of pink eye.  Seriously.  All three kids.  Then Ella and I caught a cold. Then Handsome Hero caught a cold.  We are a sorry, red-eyed, coughing mess.  Still, I wouldn't trade it.  We had a blast.

Hold on.  I need another cough drop.

And a tissue.

And a Starbucks Chai.  It's medicinal.  Would someone get on that, please?

Meanwhile, back at the beach, long car rides with the kids can be pretty fun when you're prepared.  We've done several eight-sixteen hour trips and have learned a lot.  One of these old days I'll write about our strategy.  One of the biggest helps is having lots of dollar store gifts to dole out at rest stops.  I hope they always get this excited about dollar store presents.

 We're just copying the dinosaur, mom.

I also took the kids to pick out a box/bag of cookies or candy each for the trip that we wouldn't normally get.  They are woefully ignorant of all things candy related, which makes me simultaneously proud of our healthy ways and guilty that they are missing out on something nostalgic.

Get ready for more photos than your eyeballs can handle.  The cuteness may overwhelm you.  You've been warned.

Nate and Jack, who hated the water last year, really liked it this year.  It was such a relief!

It is really rare to get a nice smile from Jack, and even more so to get two kids smiling simultaneously, so this is one of my top pictures from this trip.

By the way, some of my favorite pictures have a haze because of how humid it was some days.  My lens clouded over within seconds of my wiping it off again.   

My Spidey sense tells me that sand tastes good.  Yum, yum, sand.

By the way again, for those of you who don't know because I have been terrible about updating the blog, yes, Nate is walking!  I'll post about his progress coming up sometime before he goes to college.

My nephew, Elijah, who is the cutest two-year-old north of the Mason Dixon, did not like the water one little bit.  It was a surprise to me because he is a dare devil in most ways.  Crazy adorableness.
 I will always hold something in both hands.  I must.  It is my calling.

He looked the devil-may-care part until a wave came up and touched his tootsies.  Poor baby.

This board is only thing, but I have both hands on it.  And does anybody care that I'm drowning?!?

So mostly, he became the ruler of the beach.

 Two. Things.  I am king.

He struggled seeing his parents out in the water, but not enough to be willing to touch it.  There came this moment when my gorgeous sister laid with him in the inner-tube, on the beach but in range of the water, to see if he would acclimate a bit.  He hated every time a wave came in.

 I will hold my mother tightly with my two hands.  She might drown without me.

But then there came this wonderful moment....

 I guess we're okay, but I will not. let. go.  Two hands.

Yeah!  A smile!

My bro-in-law, Steve, is a pretty stellar guy and my boys love him.  Nate, especially, is smitten.  I have many pictures of the two of them.  

I'll follow you anywhere, Uncle Steve.  As long as you let me have a gun.  Does Spiderman use a gun?  And who is Spiderman?  My mom put this thing on me.

What is this marvel Uncle Steve holds in front of me?  I must learn.

He gave Jack pointers on the skim board.

Do I look like I'm doing it even though I'm standing still?  Hurry up and take a picture, Ma!

There is always sand castle building and Uncle Steve is a pro.  This year was a bit abstract.  The kids called it the fantastic drip castle.  I love the angle of this shot.  Uncle Steve shrank!  

 There is a Gulliver reference that I'm missing here, so I'll go with, "By the power of Gray Skull!" Anyone remember that?

The kids played for hours on the beach, which was nearly deserted this late in the season.  It was so wonderful.

 Last year Jack wouldn't touch the water.  He would chase the waves out, flex his muscles and yell, "I am KING!!!"  Then he'd run screaming when the wave came back in.

This is as close as Jack got to boogie boarding.

Mom, wait until a wave comes it so I look like I'm really doing it.  

 Ella!  Don't go!  Stay with me!  I am little and I am cute.

See the building on the left below?  That's where we stayed.  Directly on the beach, baby.  We were totally spoiled.  I don't know that I would do it any other way.

 You think I'm going to throw it, but I'm just going to put it in the water so you have to chase it in the waves.  It's my favorite.

Jack and Nate played with sand in the buckets quite a bit.

"Jack, why do we keep filling this up and dumping it out?"  "I don't know, Nate.  It just seems like the right thing to do."  "Okay.  Dum-dee-dum-dee-dum." 

Elijah had more important things to do with his bucket.

Must. Find. Something. For. My. Two. Hands.

Do you see the boat in the picture below?  It's a fishing boat and it came by twice a day.  It was amazing how many birds followed it, hoping for a little snacky-poo.

It was a very relaxing trip.  I didn't really expect it to be with two two-year-olds, but it was, mainly because of this lady.

 Holding G.G.with my two hands.

And this guy.

My other hand was busy pointing.

My parents jumped in all over the place, taking fussy babies or giving baths or fixing food or not waking us up when the kids got up at six!  It would have been nowhere near as wonderful a trip without them.  I am deeply grateful for selfless parents.

Handsome Hero had a lot of one-on-one time with the kids doing what they wanted to do.  Jack mostly stayed close to shore.

Dad, I'm going to tell you the story of the three little zebras and the big, bad Elephant.  I made it up.

Ella wanted to boogie board the whole time.  She has become a force in the water after learning to swim earlier this summer.  She's still kind of a doggy-paddler, but she's a forceful doggie-paddler.

It was overcast quite a bit, but no one cared.

 We brought our kite, too, which was a lot of fun.

While we were here, we celebrated Elijah's birthday.

I don't understand why you're blowing on my cake, but I can't wait to get my two hands on it!

The weather was mixed, but we brought lots of rain activities and didn't feel like we were missing out on anything.  In fact, look what we saw!

One overcast day, some of us went to a battleship-turned-museum.  It was amazing.  And not for the faint of heart.  Every set of stairs were so steep I was sure I was going to fall.  If you ever have the chance to visit this incredible place, don't wear a maxi skirt and flip flops.  Just sayin'.

This is the U.S.S. North Carolina, and she was one fascinating ship.  Handsome Hero said it was his favorite museum to date, and that is saying something.

Steve was a machine gunner in a past life.

Everything was real.  The actual guns, the actual bunks, the actual urinals, the actual smells.  You got a real feel for what life was like for these sailors.  There were cards posted everywhere with memories of the men who had sailed on the ship.  That was my favorite part.  Handsome Hero loved seeing how the gears and pistons and doohickies worked.  It was cool having him explain some of that stuff, because otherwise I would have just looked at the parts and said, "Huh," and walked on.

"How do you look mean, Ella?"  "I don't know.  Pretend I just took your toy."

These guys were really good at showing me their fierce faces.

I will stomp the enemy out with my pink shoes.

We were able to actually go inside the large guns and see how the sailors manned them and how ammunition was hoisted up from five levels below.  It was so amazing.

Okay, enough with the pictures, please?

This is Jack trying to look ferocious and smile all at the same time.

She's taking a picture, so I know I'm supposed to smile, but I'm firing a gun, so I have to look mean.  How about this?

And back to the beach, where we saw a shark.  A four-and-a-half-year-old shark with a batman swimsuit.  Terrifying, really.

I don't know why, but I love this one.  It's so arty.  She would look so serene if there weren't this silly, busy kid in the foreground.

The best part of this vacation was being together.  You may not be able to see, but everyone is in the water here, minus Elijah, of course.  He was busy on the shore.  And me.  Because I'm taking the picture.  Obviously.

The Lewis's.

The Forster's.

Together with G.G. and Poppy.  Can I tell you how much the sun was hurting our eyes?

It was a great trip and I'm already looking forward to next year.  What new sickness will we bring home with us in 2015?

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