Aug 25, 2016

Beach 2016: Friday and Saturday

Does this feel like our longest beach trip ever? I guess that's what happens when I spread the posts out over a month.

By the time Friday rolls around every year, sometimes a few of the kids (usually OURS) are All Done Beach and spend more of their day inside on the couch than in the waves or on the sand.

NOT SO THIS YEAR. Friday marked our third day of no air-conditioning in the house for the week, so nobody was hanging out in there unless they absolutely had to.

We set up our long line of beach umbrellas, and we set about staying as cool in the shade as we possibly could. At 98 degrees.

There wasn't as much of a breeze that last day as there had been earlier in the week, so the ocean was a bit calmer -- but my family still spent most of the day in the water.

But there was still plenty going on beachside. You can almost always find someone willing to build a sandcastle with you.

And Uncle Gerry is always up for a game of catch.

At one point during the day we looked out and somebody said, "Hey, it looks like the big boys are holding hands."

My favorite part of each day was when the little tidal pools started to fill up. Every day, it reinvented the beach.


It was funny to me how the kids of all ages -- Amelia on up -- would sit and play in the pools. The older kids would just sit and chat, idly swirling their fingers and toes in the water.

I tried to sit far enough away that I couldn't hear what they were saying and wouldn't intrude, but close enough that I could capture a few moments with my phone.

I think I love these pictures so much because it's so rare for this many of them to be so still for so long, with no cross words, even among the siblings. I adored it.

Eventually my leg fell asleep and I had to get up or die. So at that point I did make my presence known and asked for a picture with faces. Nick didn't disappoint.

If you noticed Amelia and Abby missing from those pictures, it's because Amelia was monopolizing Abby for a game of chase-and-hug.

After supper Friday night the kids went right back out to the beach for a game of Capture the Flag. I've never understood the rules of that game, and this evening only muddied the waters.

As I mentioned on Instagram when I posted one of these pictures, way too many chiefs, too few Indians in this scenario.

Here, for example, one chief places her hand on the chest of one Indian as two other chiefs approach in verbal protest.

Below, one of the approaching chiefs has ended up on the ground. Meanwhile, in the background, the forgotten Indian is now a chief, giving directions to someone twice his age. Meanwhile, a chief in the far background is giving polar opposite directions to another Indian.

Now they've been at this for 15 minutes and absolutely nothing has happened. The game has not yet begun. Still, hands are being raised and fingers are being pointed.

Finally, two teams are divided by the center line.

But before we can even get started, we have two chiefs on the right who seem to have totally different plans. Looks like this is the point at which Nathaniel gave up. #cantblamehim

No, they actually played for about an hour, and although it looked like chaos to me, apparently they had fun.

Then it was inside to pack and sleep in the 90-degree house. Nathaniel opted out. I took this picture of him the next morning. He'd slept outside on the back porch, through a severe thunderstorm complete with lightning -- but he slept through the entire thing.

He was drenched but well-rested. Boy Scout strong, that one.

We got up at 6 a.m. and were off the island by 8:15, then met my grandmother's former caregiver Anne in my dad's hometown for brunch at 10. Sweet Anne sat with Grandmother for the last eight years of her life, and she became part of our family. She loves our kids like her own grandkids, and she counts on seeing us when we make the beach trip.

We so enjoyed seeing her; it was a great end to our trip. Side note: It's so weird to me that Nathaniel is bigger than Anne is. Not just taller, but an actual bigger PERSON. Weird.

Okay, so now we've wrapped up with the beach ... it's back to real life!

Aug 16, 2016

Beach 2016: Thursday

This year in preparation for Beach Week, we did something different -- Grayson made intracoastal kayaking reservations for anyone in the group who wanted to go.

The moms and grandparents stayed back at the house with the younger kids and others who opted out, but they ended up with a great group of adventurers for the morning.

They got a great tour of some coastal Carolina marshland, some of them in single kayaks, some in doubles.

Have you ever kayaked before? Looking at these pictures makes my shoulders hurt. I remember the feeling I have about eight hours later.

Their guide took them out to a sandbar and told them to get out -- they were at what they call "Birthday Cake Island," named that because when each time you take a step it feels like you're walking in icing. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE.

I'm totally sure there's nothing grody in that Birthday Cake Island sludge.

The interesting thing about sending all those people kayaking was that it left such a skeleton crew back at the beach.

I only had two kids with me.


Not since 2008 have I seen the likes of that.

And the day was just gorgeous. The clouds were so wispy, the sky so blue.

And since there weren't 480 of US out on the beach, it was -- dare I say -- kind of QUIET.

Amelia was having fun riding the waves on her stingray float, and Nick was enjoying being The Only Big Brother around to help her.

They were quite a team, and he was so careful to make sure she didn't fall off, even when the bigger waves came in.

Not that Amelia wasn't pulling her own weight -- that girl had an iron grip on those handles.

Nick and I literally had to drag her in from the ocean, because she would have stayed out there ALL DAY.

The thought did cross my mind: Do sharks eat stingrays? Because if so, this looks really appetizing from their standpoint in the ocean, I imagine.

Did I mention that I jogged every day we were there? I think I skipped one day because of lightning, but every other day I was out there LIVING THE NIGHTMARE.

On Thursday when I was on my way back to the house, I noticed a little trail heading away from the street, so I took it. I had no idea where it would go, but I had a hunch it would lead to the intracoastal if it went far enough.

After about a five minute walk, I came to this:

Yep, that's a look across the marsh they'd kayaked that morning.

I continued on, wondering if I'd go farther out into the marsh or eventually hit a dead end. Or get kidnapped. But I was really hoping for one of the former. And then I came upon this tree:

At first I thought it was kind of ugly and creepy, but then I looked a little closer and saw what looked almost like a character in it.

At that point I was probably 15 minutes away from the entrance to the trail and I wasn't sure if it was a horseshoe or a straight line -- I was about to turn around when I walked up to a bridge with a view:

While I was standing there admiring it (and taking a picture), a family of four came up behind me and I was able to ask WHERE THE HECK THE TRAIL ENDED. They told me I was three-quarters of the way to the other side, so I just kept going.

When I came out, I was a few blocks past our house, so I had to backtrack -- BUT I HAD ADVENTURED.

It's a good thing I got back when I did, because less than an hour later, a huge shelf cloud formed over the island and it was like a scene out of a movie.

It changed every minute or so, and its colors and shapes were just beyond beautiful.

I took every single one of these standing on our back deck with my phone. No editing or filters.

It started to lighten up from south to north after about 10 minutes.

And then -- this was so freaky -- the shelf cloud was still there, but the sun was high in the sky, breaking through the clouds right in front of our house. It was amazing. I've never seen anything like it.

What a way to end the day.

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