Monday, August 31, 2009

The Beach

Seeing as how today is the last day of August, what I consider the end of summer, I'm thinking I need to get this beach post out of the way - because a post about the beach during the month of September just seems wrong somehow. Now, a post about what I've learned after the first week of kindergarten (i.e. how much I hate the carpool line) that would be a good September post. But we'll save that one for another time.
The problem is I took about 82 thousand pictures (roughly) during those 5 days, and I'm having a hard time deciding which of those get some blog time. These thrilling pictures include my kids, sand, water, my kids, sand, water and so on. Unfortunately, I didn't really do a very good job of this, so here's about 81 thousand pictures (roughly) for your viewing pleasure.

So, if you're up for the challenge, let's get started. Shall we?

We arrived in Myrtle Beach around 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, along with everyone else on the entire beach. Seriously, the hotel was crammed full of people trying to check in, and finding an empty luggage cart was like hunting. We had to lie in wait for an unsuspecting traveler and swoop in before someone else got to the kill, I mean cart, before we did.

Once we checked in, unpacked, and surveyed the land, we headed out to the beach. Or, actually, we started out at the pool and the kiddie water attraction.

This attraction was one of the highlights of the hotel. It was, however, late enough in the afternoon that most of the area was shaded. The water was really cold, so we were off to the beach.

Grandma (or as Ben calls her, "Granmole"), Shawn and the kids. Check out Ben's new Spiderman shades. Cool, or what?

The kids got busy doing what all kids do at the beach - getting their swimsuits full of sand.

And I got busy taking pictures of everyone.

One thing I quickly realized. There are A LOT of people at Myrtle Beach, and taking a picture with ONLY the people in your family in the frame is impossible.
As you can see from the man growing out of Shawn's ear.

And the girl next to Claire's head.

And all the random legs and feet in this photo. I actually cropped out as much of the bodies as I could so that I could get a shot of our sand turtle.

Shawn took this one, so that we could get a shot of the hotel itself. You can see what I mean about all the people.

One of the absolute highlights of the trip was our trip to The Dixie Stampede. Shawn and I have been to the same attraction in Gatlinburg, and we thought the kids would really enjoy it. I mean, really, is anything better than watching horses, faux cowboys, pigs and chickens all while eating a pile of food with only your hands?
Everybody, STAMPEDE!!!

It was great, and to commemorate the event, Grandma bought the kids a souvenir. Yeehaw!

Claire's came complete with rhinestones and battery operated flashing lights. Now if that's not classy, I don't know what is.

Cowkids at the beach, a perfect vacation.

And then the next morning, we woke up and went back to the beach.

And the next night we visited the Boardwalk at the Beach, an enormous tourist trap. And, as tourists, we got trapped in all the bright lights, good restaurants, and cool stores.

This is one pooped little pal.

And the next day, back at the beach.

And, the next night . . . BOWLING!!!

How cute are those bowling feet - the little ones, I mean.

The bum parade.

And, the next day, again, back to the beach. Our last day, Claire had to wear a rash guard because her chest broke out in an itchy sun rash. Of course, she picks the one with a huge Myrtle Beach on the front. It was pink, that's all that mattered to her.

You like the cool foggy effect? Wish I could say I did it on purpose.

What a beach babe.

Momma and babe.

Sweet siblings (and random naked man in the background - please ignore).

Practicing for kindergarten. All set.

And no trip to the beach is complete without a visit to the local ice cream parlor right next door to the amusement park.

Or, maybe I should say that no trip to the beach is complete without at least one child getting incredibly upset over absolutely nothing.

High drama
Just look at those tears.

This one was all smiles though.

Yeah, ok, we're ready to go home.

All in all, it was a good trip. Like any vacation with small children, however, we were ready to go home at the end. The sleeping in one room thing never really works very well, and I, for one, was really tired of chewing sand.

I do think we'll be visiting a different beach next summer. The crowds were just a bit much for us, and, to make matters worse (and really, truly test the limits of Shawn's patience to which there really is an end), we sat in traffic for about three hours to travel the 30 minutes out of Myrtle Beach. Not fun.

So, till next time beach.

A B C-yah.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Only 13 More Years To Go

I think I've been dreading Claire's first day of school for about 4 years now. It was hard enough for me to send her to preschool for half a day a few days a week, but this all day, every day stuff is no fun.


Claire, on the other hand, would totally disagree. I think she has asked every few days this summer how much longer it would be before she would get to go to school. She has been looking forward to this moment for awhile now. In fact, she was thoroughly disappointed and dismayed when she didn't get to "sit at a desk and learn" during her kindergarten screening process last spring. And she was all smiles and mile-a-minute chatter during the school's Open House last week.

I'm actually happy that this is her attitude about school, as sending her when she didn't want to go would make it even more difficult for me.

Last night, to ensure that her first day was a complete success, she:

  1. Chose the best possible outfit - this was an issue of much debate on her part.
  2. Detailed her lunch menu of choice
  3. Had me read through all the information in the school handbook
  4. Double checked all the school supply items in her schoolbag
  5. Gave her dad specific instructions on how she wanted him to wake her in the morning.

She has been placed in a combined kindergarten/first grade class, and her teacher has been described to me as a kind teacher who utilizes a lot of routine and structure.

I'm thinking this is a good fit.

As for the aforementioned, specially chosen outfit:

While she is completely adorable in this dress, I was a little surprised that she chose it. She's had it for a long time, and it's not new at all.

In fact, this is her first day of school picture for her first day of preschool - TWO YEARS AGO!

Same dress, but a much smaller Claire. Just look at those sweet baby cheeks.

But she's all grown up now and ready to start her big first day.

I really thought that she might start to get a little nervous, maybe even a little teary as we entered the school and her classroom, but here she is about 2 seconds after we walked in the door.

And here's mommy, who was finding every excuse I could think of to prolong my stay in her class.

Her smile is totally genuine. My is totally fake.

I held it together until I saw this:

Ben giving his big sister a goodbye hug. He was NOT happy about leaving her.

Claire, however, was all "see ya later, dude."

And still trying to find excuses not to leave, I took one last picture.

Claire is just visible on the right.

So, I left.
Then I cried.
Shut up.

It took me awhile to recover. Ben, however, quickly realized that Claire at school meant that he had mommy all to himself.

And mommy quickly realized that it is not possible for her to "play trains" longer than 5 minutes without losing her sanity.
My messy-faced lunch date.
After lunch we went to the school for a parent's meeting, and we were able to take Claire home early. She was still all smiles, and she didn't stop talking for about 20 minutes straight.
School is totally cool with her.
So, only about 12 years and 100 and something days more of this.
Maybe I'll be cool with her being in school by then too.
Or not.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm BAAAAAAaaaaaack . . . for a little bit, anyway

So, I see it's been several weeks since my last blog post. Have you noticed yet that I blog fairly consistently for a bit and then take a LONG break before starting again? I'm thinking it's a pattern. Perhaps my blogging is somehow connected to the phases of the moon? It's possible.

Anyway, we've been back from our beach trip for over a week now, and I have 52 million pictures to share from that trip - most of them being my kids in the water (thrilling, I know), but before I can get to those, I have these few others to share.

Ben with the remote portion of his broken remote control car. I think he's saying "cheeeeese" in this picture, but I'm not sure. Whatever he's doing, I just cannot get over how BIG he seems to me lately. "I'm not a baby!" he constantly reminds me, and I'm thinking he may be right. However, the diaper wearing and passion for his bink beg to differ. He'll be 3 next month, and that blows me away.

And then, there's the princess. When, dear God, will she ever tire of the princess thing? I'm sure one day I will look back on this phase of her life with fond memories, but it is currently getting a bit old.
She's even started checking the back of the camera after I take a picture to see if that shot was a "good one" or not. I've also been informed that she no longer wants to be called "cute." Rather, she would prefer "pretty" because "pretty is better than cute."
Good grief.

I don't think Ben is trying to bite her face here; though, knowing him, it's totally possible. I think I just caught the wrong moment of a kiss on the cheek.

And then there's this:

Shawn's birthday was on the 5th. Thankfully, Claire allowed him to have non-pink icing on his cake this year. Though she still insisted on pink (strawberry) cake. I was going for a Wedgwood Blue china look on the cake decoration. Actually it's just a bunch of squiggly lines on blue icing, but whatever.

Please notice the party hats in the picture. The girls (me and Claire) wore Elmo hats, and the boys (Shawn and Ben) wore Mader hats. Classy.
As to why Claire is sulking in this photo, I'm thinking it's because I told her to let her dad blow out his own candles.

Did she listen?