Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First day of school

Jacob started second grade last week. As we stood on the front porch snapping the annual "first day of school picture," I was overwhelmed by this feeling that we were JUST HERE taking pictures on his first day of kindergarten. So this seems like as good a time as any to run through the photo progression:




My baby's growing up. *sniff* So far he's always been excited to start school, so the first day of school is fun for all of us. Second grade is going really well - Jacob already had to apply for a class job. He decided not to run for mayor -- too much responsibility -- and applied for two positions, librarian and lunchroom helper. After a competitive interview process, he got the lunchroom helper job. Responsibilities include "making sure the class is following the rules" and "checking to see that our table is not a huge mess." David and I submitted references on Jacob's behalf, emphasizing his lifelong interest in following everybody's rules except ours, as well as his disdain for huge messes. We think he'll do a fantastic job. We're proud of our boy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The blog lives!

Yup, we pretty much haven't done anything since Easter around here, so you haven't missed a thing. Okay, so there was a major surgery, the end of school, a trip to visit our friends in St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend (whatup Betsey & Tim?), the entire month of June, the 4th of July, Jacob's birthday, a trip to CT for Elizabeth and me for my sister's baby shower, and some other stuff. But none of that got blogged about, so there is no proof that any of it actually happened.

But we did go on vacation, by gosh, and I'm going to prove it! We went on our (mostly) annual family beach trip last week. The first time we went to the Seagrove, FL area was when we were expecting Jacob seven years ago, and David and I agreed that it was the best vacation we'd ever had. We've been fortunate enough to travel to lots of great places PK (pre-kids) - Europe, Hawaii, the Carribean, but never did we enjoy ourselves quite as much as we did that week when we just sat on our butts under an umbrella all week and read books. I guess it just never occurred to us to do that before. Once we had kids, the beach trip pretty much became the only kind of vacation that was feasible, and while all of the things that we loved so much about that first trip to Seagrove -- quiet, relaxation, books -- have gone by the wayside (in fact, on this latest trip, I did not even bother to bring a book, but did enjoy People (Robert Pattinson's complicated love life) and US (Jon Gosselin's complicated love life) when I locked myself in the bathroom), they've been replaced by a different kind of fun that comes with being seaside with little people.

We've stayed at the same place every year we've gone to Seagrove, save for the one year that we stayed at Rosemary Beach (affectionately known in these parts as "Pottery Barn Beach"). While we loved Rosemary Beach, and still like going there for ice cream in the evenings, we decided that for our current purposes it does not make sense to pay a premium to stay in a house with a Viking professional six-burner range (especially when that house is four blocks from the beach) given that the time spent getting our kids ready to go the beach exceeds our actual time on the beach approximately tenfold. So we stay in a perfectly adequate place with a normal oven (in bisque) that is right on the beach and has great views of the ocean

We had a great week for sure, but don't let all these happy pictures lull you into thinking that we didn't have to overcome adversity along the way. We did. For example, there were:

(1) Packing woes

I wanted to make some ice cream while we were down there, so I brought my ice cream maker on the trip. I also brought my immersion blender, but I left my panini press at home (and regretted it every. single. day.). I just felt like two small kitchen appliances would kind of fly under David's Packing Nazi radar, but three would set off alarms. I also packed up most of my pantry and refrigerator. A couple of hours into packing the car, it became apparent that the stuff wasn't going to fit, which caused (a very not happy) David to get out the car top carrier. As it turns out, our old carrier does not fit on our newer van, so we had to - horrors!- leave some stuff at home.

(2) The Deathly Fear of Sand and Water.

The dialogue with Caroline when we first checked in went something like this:

Cathy: LOOOOOOOK Caroline! It's the BEACH! Can you see the beach? And loooook! It's the OOOOCEAN! Do you like the ocean?
Caroline: No. No. No. No. No!!!!

I'm not sure if it was the beach or my über-annoying peppy voice that distressed her the most. In any event, she dug her nails into me as I brought her down to the beach (sometimes you just have to face fear head-on). But she was having none of it, so her time on the beach the first couple of days was brief. Fortunately, by Tuesday, she was tolerating the sand:

and by Thursday, she was digging the water (with her daddy):

(3) The Bloody Nose and the Ensuing Public Spectacle

We went out for a really fun dinner on Wednesday night. The kids were great at Mia Cocina, a new restaurant in Seacrest. Then we decided to walk to Rosemary Beach (of Viking appliance fame) for ice cream after dinner. It was pretty much clear from the outset that in the menace department, Caroline brought her A-game. She did not want to be held. She did not want to hold your hand. She wanted to run. She did not want to run on grass. She wanted to run on concrete. She did not want to run on concrete sidewalks. She wanted to run on concrete streets.

Caroline running to a harder, more heavily-trafficked surface:

You get the picture. There was a lot of picking Caroline up, wrestling with Caroline, redirecting Caroline, and generally trying to keep Caroline (and the other kids) safe. That was our humble goal for the evening.

So we got ice cream and sat on benches around a little green in Pottery Barn Beach while we ate our ice cream.

Elizabeth, enjoying her ice cream before "The Incident":

But there were lots of kids riding bikes on the green, so we decided to go across the street to another green that seemed less populated to let our kids run around. The rest of it sort of happened in slow motion. Caroline made a dash for the street. I lunged to catch her, and at the same time David dove to try to tackle her. I caught Caroline, and David somehow got tangled up with Elizabeth. The next thing I knew, Elizabeth was freaking out and her nose was bleeding profusely. I threw some wipes from my bag at Jacob and shouted at him to give them to David, and ran (with Caroline, the cause of all the mayhem) back to the Sugar Shak to get . . . napkins? Laffy Taffy? I don't know. When I got back to Elizabeth, a little crowd had formed, and a really sweet family had brought her a cup of ice and a roll of paper towels. Her nose stopped bleeding fairly quickly, but it took a long time to calm her down. And who really wants to have this conversation, on vacation or any other time?:

C: Her nose really doesn't look very swollen. Do you think?
D: Not very swollen.
C: Maybe a little. It definitely doesn't look crooked. Definitely not.
D: No, it doesn't look crooked.
C: If it were broken, it would look crooked, don't you think?
D: I would think there would be more swelling if she actually broke it.
C: Me too. {silence} Maybe it is a little swollen. Should we take her to a doctor?

In the end, we concluded that a visit to the doctor that evening was not necessary, as Elizabeth returned to her normal, happy self, and her nose did not really seem swollen (I mean, from most angles), and it definitely wasn't crooked. But that story is an excellent example of how our family slogan ("We stay in a lot") came to be.

Elizabeth, the night after The Incident (note the not-swollen, not-crooked nose):

(4) Poor Cell Phone Reception

Which made it difficult to talk with the pediatrician's office the next morning about "highly unlikely, but remotely possible" broken nose protocol.


But in spite of these little obstacles, we had a really fun trip!

Before we went to the beach, I wanted to hook up with a photographer and get "beach pictures" done of the kids - you know, the pictures where you dress your family in white clothes and take them down to the beach right before sunset and pose them in front of the dunes? Yeah, those beach pictures. I LOVE beach pictures, and think that our kids are at a great age to do them. David likes beach pictures about as much as he likes beach houses with Viking appliances, but since he loves me, he was willing to suffer through them. For a variety of reasons, we decided not to do them this year. But I decided (unilaterally) to try to do some DIY beach pictures, even though I am no photographer. So I dressed my family in white clothes and made them trek out to the beach right before sunset (on two different nights!). While there would be no posing in front of the dunes (or anywhere else), this ended up being one of the best parts of the trip. The kids loved being on the beach at that hour, and we all had fun hunting crabs until the sun set. And I love some of the pictures, even though they were clearly taken by a hack photographer with a point & shoot:

I can't decide if the week went by really quickly or really slowly. A little of both. It was definitely not a relaxing vacation, but we'll get plenty of those soon enough.