Parks!

Gavin has soccer camp at 9 a.m. this week. It’s been perfect because we are still on east coast time and up at five anyway. We drop him off and play for a little while before leaving.

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Later we hit the neighborhood playground with cousins.

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Then we meet Daddy at another park and have a picnic dinner, just for good measure.

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Beach pictures

The beach makes you hungry. We ate most our meals on this screened-in porch.

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Relaxing with Gigi and Papa Earl

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Trying to do a few at the marsh/beach. We didn’t plan well enough this time, but there are still some fun memories here.

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Front porch pictures

We flew home yesterday. Thankfully, Christopher was in Boston and met us in Atlanta for the long trip home. Shay brought the suburban to pick us up and we were in bed by about seven, including Christopher and I. Which was great because the kids were up and going by 5 a.m. Darn time change.

Time to post pictures from my DSLR camera. Here are some I took during a summer rain shower.

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Another afternoon thundershower viewed from the front porch. The kids sure love Bear, the world’s sweetest and most spoiled dog. He thinks he’s a person, or maybe a cat.

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Riverbank Zoo

We had the most fun at the zoo EVER! The weather was gorgeous, on the cool side (for Columbia, that means high 80s). My friend Anne, who I grew up with, then reconnected with in Atlanta, then she moved back to Columbia (got that?), went with us, and brought an extra membership card which got us all in for free PLUS wristbands for all the kids. When I was a kid, the zoo was just animals. Super fun, right? Now the zoo has a rock climbing wall, carousel, zip line, ropes course, pony rides, mini train… you get the picture. With the wristbands, you can do all the extra stuff for free (mostly), and you know how I feel about paying for extra stuff AFTER you’ve paid admission. I don’t like it. This way, I didn’t have to tell my kids no. We rode the carousel twice (Logan three times). The big kids did the rock climbing wall. And the ropes course. And I had to the do the ropes course with Ben even though I HATE heights because Ben isn’t quite 48 inches and my dad was wearing Rainbows. The little boys did the pony rides and the train twice. We fed the goats, giraffes, and lorakeets. We saw penguins and gorillas and lions and snakes and koalas and flamingoes and monkeys and elephants.

And I took about 500 pictures with my camera, but here are a few I snapped with my phone until I can get home and upload my good pictures…image

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State House and Museum of Art

My dad is going to sleep for a week after we leave. This morning I talked him into going with us to the Museum of Art. We arrived at 10 only to find out the galleries didn’t open until 11 (whoops), so we walked a few blocks to the state house. We counted the steps, walked around the grounds, toured a bit inside, saw the bronze stars where Sherman’s cannon balls hit… you know, the usual. I wish I could have spent a bit more time looking at all the art, historical plaques. There was even a field guide of all the different plants growing on the grounds. Some day…

We headed back to the museum. We went straight to the Interactive Education Gallery, a room designed especially for young children. Colorful and fun, with books and bean bags and paintings hung at children’s eye level, the room is a great place to spend a half hour. We also borrowed some Art Explorer Backpacks, containing “a sketchbook with colored pencils, a pair of binoculars, a compass, and hands-on activities that relate to the theme of the backpack chosen.” Of course, my kids fought over the binoculars so we had to get four backpacks. Finally, before heading into the galleries, we picked up some family gallery guides, complete with scavenger hunts and other games for my kids to play. So far, so good.

Then we stepped into the gallery. And, in that moment, I knew it wasn’t going to work. Logan immediately heard the echo and started testing his voice, emitting little yells that bounced around the room. And Ben saw nothing but long stretches of hardwood floor to race down (before Poppy grabbed him).

We left fairly quickly and the kids played in the fountain. Someday I’ll go back and actually look at the Botticelli, Monet, and Edward Hopper. I used to be a big fan of the impressionists but now I really enjoy realism, especially artists like Hopper. Some day.

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Logan’s first ER trip

We headed to Hunting Creek at 11. We swam for an hour, ate a quick picnic lunch, then got back in the pool at 12:10. There were only about three other kids in the pool, so we basically had it to ourselves. I was sitting with my legs dangling in the deep end, and all four kids were jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side. I was thinking about how cool it was that the lifeguard let Logan jump off the diving board, as little as he was, and how great puddle jumpers are, and how much fun he was having. Caitlin had mentioned earlier than no pools in Madison allowed floats, including puddle jumpers, and what fun is that? Kids like to be mobile in the water, not held. At least my kids. At any rate, while I’m having these happy feelings, Logan walks (probably running a bit) back over to the diving board, and slips right as he gets to the ladder. I hop up and go to him, and when I get there see a nasty gash in his cheek.

It really freaked me out. We have never had stitches or anything before, and for a minute I said, “Do we need to call an ambulance?” I was worried about my ability to drive (I was super shaky) and whether it would continue to bleed. We were 30+ minutes away from the hospital. Thankfully, a more seasoned mother said there would be nothing to do in an ambulance, to just drive him. My big kids must have realized the gravity of the situation because they gathered up all our stuff and we were in the car in no time. We headed to the children’s ER. Poppy got there at the same time we did and took the big kids back to Genesis Studios, where they got to watch a movie in the theater. I got Logan checked in a seen quickly. He was such a champ; after the initial crying from the fall, he didn’t make a peep. He didn’t cry at all in the car (Megan was teary the entire drive to the hospital); he didn’t cry when they cleaned the cut; he didn’t cry when they glued it up. A resident was all set to stitch it up, but I asked for the attending and after examining it extensively he decided glue would do the trick. After attempting some new glue, he asked them to go find some Dermabond (file that away), the good stuff. It worked great, and I asked them to put some steri strips over it. I can’t tell you how many times my mom told me: lacerations on the face = children’s hospital + Dermabond + steri strips. It stuck.

We picked up the big kids from Genesis and got a dozen Krispy Kreme. We survived our first ER “injury”. (Excepting the time Christopher and I were at Cape Cod and Megan got hit with the golf club…)

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Last week – Monday

Christopher was flying out that afternoon so he wanted to do something fun with the kids beforehand, and said, “Hey, let’s go mini-golfing!” So he went online and found a place, neglecting the fact that it was about 97 degrees. But it was still fun; we just need to do it when it’s cooler. Afterwards we ate lunch with Grandma and Earl before dropping Christopher off. After Logan’s nap we swam in the Dryden’s pool for a bit, then went to Pawley’s Front Porch for dinner, because it was free kids’ meals on Monday and they were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It was pretty fun, although Ben was about to fall asleep at the table.

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Fripp Island

Oh my goodness. We just had the best time at Fripp. I wrote a whole blog post sitting on the beach but it didn’t publish so I guess you can’t blog on the beach. So here it is, a week later.

Fripp is an island just north of Hilton Head. We have spent many summers on Hilton Head,  and it’s fun. Beautiful beaches, but getting busy. Lots of shopping, lots of traffic. I love Charleston for the amazing restaurants, history, and culture, but we can’t really enjoy those with kids. Fripp was a kids’ dream. No one is allowed on the island unless they are staying there, so it’s quiet. Once people park their cars, they spend the week driving golf carts, or riding bikes. Wildlife is everywhere, especially the deer, which we saw multiple times a day, sometimes in groups of four or five. We also saw alligators, sand dollars, dolphins, and even a sea turtle that was swimming next to me and scared me half to death. Sea turtles are super cool but I don’t much like swimming with them.

In addition to the beach, we swam in the pools, played at the playground. The big kids spent a day at Camp Fripp and Gavin took a golf lesson. We ate almost every meal at the house, and my mom made some amazing things, like salmon, ribs, and Beaufort/Frogmore stew. And the house was brand new–we were the second family to stay in it.

The island was celebrating Forrest Gump week, and my dad has probably seen the movie 50 times, in addition to being on the set when it was filmed in the lowcountry. We went to Forrest Gump pub trivia, and my dad got 10/10 on the Forrest Gump round. We didn’t fare as well on the rest, but managed a solid 3rd place, and won a Dr. Pepper, a box of chocolates, and a Fripp Island cup. With straw.

The beach was gorgeous, and we were just in the right spot on the island–the middle. On the ends of the island, there is no beach when the tide comes in, but we were able to enjoy the beach at any time of day. And the kids loved the ocean, I could believe how much. Ben declared “boogie boarding is my new favorite sport!” and Logan would let the waves knock him over, hop back up, and yell, “Tackle me again!” The last day we spent in the ocean, Ben swam in the waves, with no float, for several hours. Someone was always close to him, but he did the swimming! Logan also got out there in his puddle jumper and swam and swam. Gavin also learned to dive at the Olympic Pool, the only pool with a deep end. I also enjoyed the Cabana Pool, with a beautiful view of the marsh.

It was probably my favorite week at the beach ever. I only wish Devin and Caitlin and their families would have been there, and Ethan, of course. A repeat next year is in the works, this time with everyone, if we can pull it off.

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Week of the Fourth

This week was spent getting everyone healthy, especially Megan and Gavin. Ben and Logan recovered much more quickly. We went to the Titus’ pool almost every day. On Wednesday Ben learned to swim. Just like that. Wednesday morning he wouldn’t take his puddle jumper off. Wednesday afternoon he didn’t need it anymore.

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We also spent a lot of time relaxing.

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By the 4th everyone seemed to be healthy again! We invited ourselves to the Hunting Creek BBQ. A hurricane off the coast had dropped the temperature and humidity and it was gorgeous.

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After naps we’ll head to the sand pile for another BBQ, more swimming, and probably some fireworks and guns.

Update: We had a wonderful evening. The weather was the nicest I’ve seen for a South Carolina 4th of July. The food was great and it was fun to be with cousins. Logan figured out how to jump off the diving board and repeated the feat about 40 times.

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