Friday, July 25, 2014

Our little family's summer vacation

Todd and I were wondering why we take the kid(s) to the beach year after year.  There is NOTHING relaxing about young children and water!  Actually - there was about 1/2 an hour of relaxation on Todd's part this trip (see photo).  1/2 an hour.  That's it!  :)

These smiles say it all, though!  In the end - it was worth it.

Isabella was nervous at first to get into the waves.  Later... she was fearless!  She would get knocked down, but still absolutely loved it!

She also had a lot of fun playing in the sand.  It was interesting to watch her as introducing each new item:  bucket + shovel.  Water.  Make a sand bucket tower to smash.  Add watering can and watch the water sprinkle the sand.  After an introduction of each activity - she would practice that new skill over and over and over again!

Mercer was pretty into the waves as well -- wanting to ride boogie boards most of the time we were at the beach.  (no pics of this)  He was constantly active when not in the waves too -- playing paddle ball.  Wanting to go for early morning bike rides.  And - in a lazy river loop at the condo pool - he was swimming lap after lap after lap instead of floating on foamy things like the majority of people there.  He's like the energizer bunny!

This trip, we rented a tandem bike for Mercer to ride.  He still needs a little help on the bike, so we thought this was a good way to do it.  The first few trips, he leaned over a lot - making both riders unsteady.  After awhile, he got the hang of it.  Mercer had a *FANTASTIC* quote while riding bikes one morning.  After I told him it was hard to petal a bike on the sand, but we should try it anyways..... he yelled out after awhile "hey mom - I'm smiling this big because we didn't think we could do it -- but look at us.  We ARE doing it!"  I had to stop the bike and ask him to show me that big smile again.  

Mercer and I took another early morning bike ride at one point - to search for a letterbox stamp.  This sculpture is in a park that we drove by several times.  I'm glad the clue led us here and we got to explore.  The man (Charles Fraser) was an early developer on the Hilton Head Island.  Supposedly he was written up in the New Yorker in the '50s for walking an alligator across the golf course. 

We spotted a real alligator several times in a lagoon that we bicycled by every day.  We saw turtles sunning there too.  And... we saw a long-legged white bird (a tern?) sitting in a different lagoon quickly dipping his beak in the water over and over again.  After a few tries, he caught a fish!  (I'm really glad that Mercer and I stopped to observe the wildlife while we were riding.)

Isabella did great on her first series of bike rides.  (Mercer bawled the first time he rode -- he hated the helmet.)  Isabella didn't seem to mind.  She rode in the back of a "toter" along with towels, beach toys and boogie boards.  She was pretty patient considering she was crammed in there with all of the stuff!  She actually fell asleep on the short ride home from the beach a number of days..

Hilton head was quite crowded.  We really missed our low-key Edisto beach trips.  but there were some things that HHI had that Edisto does not:  a giant playground for the kids and pirate putt-putt golf.   It is interesting that the tree that is low to the ground is one of the most popular things to climb on at the playground despite all of the equipment that's there!

Todd won a free game of putt-putt because of a hole in one in his first round.  He and Mercer played a 2nd round after our family game was over.  Isy didn't play, but I got some nice pics of her while the boys played.  (Here's a good shot of Mercer without his two front teeth.) 

She is wearing a dress that Aunt Tonia brought her from Greece last summer. 

We took a couple of day trips to escape the crowds.  One was definitely remote!  We took a ferry (courtesy of some former neighbors) over to Daufuskie Island which is between HHI and Savannah.  The boat ride was nice.   We even spotted some dolphins on the way over.  

We spent a bit of time exploring the island via a golf cart - visiting some of the historic sites as well as the amenities of the community in which our friends live.  Isabella is such an animal lover and enjoyed visiting the horses.  Mercer thought they were smelly!  When we met back up with our friends, we went to the beach.  Between our two families and the other families that were on the beach... there were maybe 20 people as far as we could see.  (It was wonderful!)

Here is a photo (posted on our blog in 2008) of Mercer and Brody when they were babies.  

And.... here they are now!

Our other trip was to Savannah.  Things are quite a bit different with kiddos in tow.  The majority of the day was spent at a new children's museum that was built within and around the walls of some old warehouse ruins.  This campus is next door to our architecture building.

  They are all a part of a historic roundhouse complex which is one of the last in existence in the country.   Currently, it's only an outdoor venue, but the museum is fundraising for an addition / renovation inside one of the warehouse buildings.  Todd went to meet a client after awhile while the kids and I stayed to play.  

We met back up with Todd in the afternoon and explored some other areas of this amazing city.  We showed Mercer where we lived in college, where we were married, and River Street.  It was kind of interesting to share our past with Mercer.  Isabella just chilled in the stroller while we walked around.  Later, we met friends for dinner.  

Here's another shot -- this is one of my favorites from the whole trip!  (Look at that mouth full of teeth!)

And - I'll wrap with a family selfie from the top of a light house on Hilton Head.  (Promise we were at the top!!)

Despite the crowds, we are glad we went to Hilton Head... it afforded us the chance to visit some folks that we don't get to see often as well as check out the changes that have taken place in Savannah.  We may go back to the low country in the spring.  We'll see!

Friday, July 11, 2014

pre-vacation post

before I forget to jot down these things the kids are doing....

- Mercer started to become embarrassed by me (when dropping him off at camp this week, he didn't want to give his mom a kiss or a hug bye).  The "adult" in charge there told Mercer that he's 21 and he still gives his mom a kiss.  
- Also, when talking to Mercer sometimes, he is sarcastic and rolls his eyes a little.  He does it trying to be goofy.... not being disrespectful.  
- Isabella LOVES putting on layers and layers of clothes.  Mostly on her legs and arms.  Here in this series, she's "helping" me (un)fold laundry.  Pants / shirts / PJs / socks / hats / etc.  (There's a red sweater on one foot and she's working on putting a pair of Mercer's underwear over another!)

- Mercer will carry an arm-full of stuffed animals (including froggy) downstairs when he comes down from bed.  He still has a tender side to him!
- Isabella gets so giddy when bigger kids run past her or actually play with her.  Recently, Mercer was chasing her (over and over again) and she clamored to Todd each time for him to protect her -- the whole time giggling.  It's adorable.    
- She is starting to say a handful of words.  "Happy." "Apple." "Boppy." (what daycare calls a pacifier)  If you mention a word followed by the word "say" -- she will try to say it!  She knows she's supposed to repeat whatever word is spoken!  It's pretty cool.  Seems that her vocabulary has taken a huge jump in the past week or so.

Mercer lost his other front tooth.  I'm sure we'll snap a picture of him at some point soon with his toothless grin!  

Here are some shots of Mercer in front of "our" corn at the community garden.  He and I planted 3 rows in a section of the garden that's been converted to larger-scale farming plots.  It has been astounding watching the tiny seeds emerge from the ground.  Then it growing knee-high.  Then surpassing Mercer's height and now ours.  The last photo was taken on July 4th.  Here are a couple of other photos from the garden on the 4th (ring around the hub-cap flowers!)

We went to the parade on the square.  It was the typical small-town affair with a bunch of politicians, beauty queens, and "little miss" beauty queens.  There was only 1 marching band.  The corvette club rode.  So did the mustang club.  City vehicles (even some historic ones).  

There was a "lawn-chair brigade" which was entertaining (this was an odd juxtaposition of some antebellum parade participants walking back up the route in front of the lawn-chair guys in their tuxedo t-shirts.)  

We ended up at a friend-of-a-friend's house for a party later that evening.  It was at the same house that we were at many years ago for an Easter egg hunt.  (Pictures of Mercer learning how to walk / holding plastic eggs.)  The family had just put in a pool with hot tub and waterfall among the terraced walls. Mercer barely got out of the pool long enough to eat dinner.  We left in the nick of time to catch fireworks back on our side of the square with neighbors.

Isabella wasn't afraid of them.  She watched for a little bit, then after awhile seemed bored and wanted to go through her diaper bag!  Todd and I watched fireflies in the back yard for awhile while and caught glimpses of the neighbors shooting off fireworks behind our house.  After everything was cancelled last year at the 4th, it was wonderful having perfect weather to celebrate this great nation!!

Forgot to add this picture earlier when talking about the butterfly exhibit.  The butterflies were ordered from hatcheries and shipped via FedEX in a styrofoam cooler on a block of ice.  They come flat in wax envelopes and basically sleeping on the journey to our tent.  To release them, they need to warm up a little so the blood gets pumping through their wings.  Then they can be released to fly!  (This is the first shipment that we're inventorying before the exhibit opened.)  There were some photos posted earlier with Todd and Isabella in the butterfly exhibit.  

On a recent day at work there, a great southern white butterfly hung out with me for awhile and I was able to snap a photo.   The exhibit closes in a couple of days.  

It's been an interesting experience working at the nature center.  I did realize, however, on the 4th of July that I have missed being with the family on the weekends.  I really look forward closing this chapter and moving onto the next one!