Friday, July 29, 2011

Not Flipper Maybe, but Close Enough

Happy Birthday my handsome grandboy Bean!
I cannot grasp that you are seven years old already.
When I was looking for places to stay for our big vacation, I had no idea we were only fifteen minutes from MarineLand. Ever since I first knew a person could swim with dolphins, I've longed to. I really never thought I would. Since our trip fell so close to your birthday, I thought that might make an amazing gift for both of us. I knew I would love it. I also knew that only the love for a grandchild, and a desire to make a wonderful lifelong memory with him would give me the courage to get in deep unknown water, in a swimming suit in public for Pete's sake, where they are taking my picture- have mercy. What I didn't know was how much you would love it. When I look back on that afternoon, I get all teary. You were all read up on dolphins before we got there and counting the days for a long time. I've taken you a lot of places and done a lot of things, but never have I seen you so excited. You were just about beside yourself. You worked hard at maintaining some composure while we were shown the dolphin's environment and learned about how they are cared for and the conservation efforts there. Then, finally, in the pool with a few of God's beautiful and amazing creatures. You weren't so sure of that dark,deep water (neither was I actually), but kind trainers had you warmed up pretty quickly. Pebbles and Aque were so friendly, and sweet, they were irresistible. Before long, all of us relaxed and simply enjoyed getting to know them. The time passed so quickly, but we learned so much and smiled a million smiles when we weren't gleefully laughing at their antics. You just about grinned your face right off.
You couldn't believe she'd roll right over for a tummy pat.

Wow, their skin felt so neat.
You loved wiggling your finger at Pebbles and having her talk right back to you. You learned the sound comes from the blow hole, not her mouth. You also felt how forceful the air comes out.

Group hug!
Will he bring it back?
So sad, the time to say, "Good-bye."
When it was said and done, you were still incredulous and exclaimed, "That was the most wonderful thing I've ever done in my life." "I want to grow up and be a dolphin trainer."
It certainly was a most wonderful thing in my life too, just as you've always been and continue to be. I just don't think there is anything like you. I hope we share many more wonderful experiences, though I think we'll have to put this one on up on the top shelf. I don't think I could match it. I love you and pray you are blessed with long life, good health, and many more fabulous experiences.
A besotted Gramerly

More Life's A Beach

The folks who own the house where we stayed also own the local coffee shop. We stopped there for coffee and hot chocolate before going to the Farmer's Market, where I purchased my first fresh summer tomatoes and cucumbers. Bean and Bugg love them almost as much as me. We then headed to back to the beach. Ol' Mother Hubbard was off to Saint Augustine, so we were the only ones on the beach for awhile until some neighbors joined us with an adorable puppy.
By this time Bean had mastered the waves.
Of all the pictures, this one is tops. Neither 1st Lt, nor Ceece can deny who parented this little chicken. She looks so much like both of them here, but mostly she looks like the cutest little beach baby ever. I wish I could've figured out a way to make that puppy tug on her swim bottoms. She tans so amazingly for a red head. What a little dolly.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Back home again. I think living out of a suitcase for just at three weeks is about my limit. I wasn't home from the beach long before I headed up to Indy for a conference. The conference was fabulous. I stayed at a B & B that was charming and peaceful. An added bonus was spending sometime with Bob and Dixie, their sweet kiddos and their even sweeter grandbabies. Thanks guys for your hospitality.
Ol' Mother Hubbard left a yummy chix/mex casserole so I could come home to a good supper. Wasn't that nice?
As I said, I got a few comments and raised eyebrows about taking the little ones to the beach for two weeks. Could we have had a good time in less time? Certainly we could've of, but it would have been a very different experience. The kidlets gained so much confidence as the days went by. By the time we left even BabyBoy was happy frolicking in the waves.
The girls went from melding themselves to our legs when they couldn't talk us into holding them, to jumping the waves and riding them right on in.

The day of these pictures was our wildest and made me a wee bit uncomfortable. The waves were high, hard with the only undertow we experienced the whole time. The kids, they didn't notice anything but fun.

This trip took a lot of time, a lot of money and some stress a time or two, but those smiles, ahhh, the smiles made it all worthwhile!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Novice Beach Goers

So we finally arrive at our beach destination after two full days of driving. It was dark when I arrived, but I took the kids down to the beach anyway. They had waited a long time and needed to at least see and hear it. Of course, it was big and loud. We fell into bed, but were up early to meet the day.
We slathered everyone throughly from head to toe with sunscreen and tried to make ready-no small task. Not knowing what we would need, we decided to err on the side of overdue. Ol' Mother Hubbard and I both had a gargantuan beach bag with towels, sheet, beach blanket, goggles, sun glasses, more sunscreen along with a bag of beach toys that looked like something Santa himself would be intimidated by, along with a cooler full of snacks and drinks. We haul it all across the road and down the stairs, looking like the Beverly Hillbillies I'm sure.
The beach blanket is spread, the toys brought out, the little ones trying out the water and all is well for oh, twenty minutes, when a big black storm cloud pops up and nearly drowns us as we try to herd six wee folk and all that baggage back up the stairs, across the road and up more stairs to the apartment. If we thought it was overload going down, that was no comparison to going up with it all soaking wet. Some serious rain.
About the time we got everyone and everything under cover, it stopped.
Okay, so forget the towels, it's plenty warm and they'll air dry by the time we walk back home. And, let's risk putting the toys under the stairs and not hauling them to and fro. We did make one more attempt with the cooler, but nary a child asked for a drink for a snack. I returned at 2 and we didn't head back until seven. After that, it was a small bag for keys and camera and the Boogie boards.
Just a few toys.

Sand Monsters
Antebellie is ready for some serious waves.
The boys head out to try the Boogie Boards.
Baby Boy heads back, wanting no part of the water.
Bean's first big find. The ocean was new everyday. One day it was starfish, the next jelly fish, another day tiny shells, and Bean was a master and finding something new and interesting everyday.
I am not a strong swimmer, nor do I particularly love the ocean. I like looking at it and hearing it, but it's vastness and constant movement is a bit scary to me. I was thankful Miss An-La came along, who wasn't the least bit concerned. Luckily, the kids were a bit unsure at first too and weren't too willing to go far those first couple of days.
Oops, forgot the in between piks of the Indian mounds in Macon- Big!
This is where Miss Bugg thought it would be fun to throw her baby down the side. Some sweet young man was kind enough to climb up from the bottom and fetch it for her.
Let's say this was a good activity to pursue before settling in for another long ride.
Bean ever monitored Bugg's activity and got a big kick out of her falling asleep with a sucker in her mouth. He took this picture.

Maybe I'm Crazy

Back in the winter when plans began to firm up for this trip, I got a lot of looks like, "You are crazy to take six little ones to the beach." I figured it would be exhausting, but I thought I was up for it. I knew it would just be life as usual for Ol' Mother Hubbard.
I've long had soft spot for people who begin to look forward to retirement, then find themselves in the position of needing to raise their grandchildren. That happened to my mom. When mine leave from after Playdate or a couple of days when their parents are out of town, I am entirely spent. I could not even go to a place where I would again return to full time child rearing. Trust me, I still feel a great deal of sympathy for those folks, but once again realized you just do what you need to do.
My little Miss Bugg tolerates no closed doors or lights out, so for the most part, we were the three musketeers 24/7, from the time we pulled out of the drive till we pulled back in fifteen days later. I did leave her with Rae-rae while Bean and I swam with the dolphins. I did manage a few minutes in the morning sometimes. My goal was always to have a cup of coffee before having to actively engage in conversation and child tending. Most days I made it. Ol' Mother's Hubbard's wee ones are early to be and early to rise, so this often meant a 5:30ish cup of coffee. Bugg seldom naps and Bean never naps, so it was go, go, go, all day. Just keeping all six of them fed, and watered was no small chore. Hats off to folks with a ton of kids. You just develop a new routine and do what you need to do, but it certainly returns to a place when all your thoughts and what to do next is all about them.
You start with a new toy for the road and some goodies to provide as you plod along. Bean and Bugg were really good travellers for almost all of the trip down. I dug out mine and Rae-rae's old Walkman CD players and had several books on CD. I don't have a DVD player, so no movies on the road. They enjoyed their books. Both of them are great auditory learners.

We're ready.
Supper was a rest stop in Tennessee with some time to run and stretch.
We finally made it to Macon. Our hotel was great- thanks Big D!
A few cartoons while we get everyone dressed and repacked.
Ready for Indian Mounds, then another day of travel.

I must admit it was lovely to come home last night to a dinner prepared by Handy Man with lots of delicious goodies from the garden. But this morning, I've had my coffee and I'm missing them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

We're Home

Thank the Lord, we arrived home this evening safe and sound. Praise be. I have so many pictures and am so thankful that I do. In the busyness of herding six poopies, it's at times difficult to stop and take it all in. It's so fun to just go through the pictures again and again and smile all the while. Maybe one or two over the next few days will make you smile too.