Wednesday, July 11, 2018

'The Californians'

We were so excited that my sister and her family could come for a visit this summer. 

They came out to celebrate Gran's birthday, which is also Imogen's birthday! It was a great celebration of two great gals.
Gran and ALL her grandkids

While they were here there was lots of swimming, lots of eating, lots of hanging out, and lots of fun! 
Uncle Ian seemed to be conned into giving strokes lessons several days at the pool. All the kiddos loved it when he got in the pool.

The cousins got along famously which gave the adults some great hanging out time!

Liam had some food goals we had to meet while there were in Memphis. Top of his list was BBQ, which he ate 3 sandwiches of, fried okra, and some things he didn't even realize he needed in his life like Banana Trifle and Poncho's Cheese Dip.

We spent one day rock climbing at Memphis Rox, which Evan quickly named "Heaven on Earth." Man, the bouldering is harder than it looks. I much preferred the big wall with someone belaying me.

One of the last days we had a thunderstorm. These aren't very usual in California, so we had some free entertainment for a couple hours. Their entertainment was watching the storm. Our entertainment was watching them...

We are so glad they got to spend a few days with us. We can't wait for our turn to take TN to CA!!


This year was a very special birthday for Gran. One of those big ones that end with a zero. Even though I tried to persuade her for a big blowout, Gran only wanted a small gathering of friends and family.

But....I had another trick up my sleeve.

I mentioned to my sister that we were having a gathering and would love it if they could come. My mom usually travels to California at least once a year, but they haven't been able to make it back out to TN for a few years. We decided it would be awesome if it could be a surprise!

And oh what a surprise it was!!

There is a lot of prep work to trick this lady, so we had to work ahead of time. I told a little white lie that Evan and Luke had friends spending the night on Thursday (they did....they were just their cousins!). I asked mom if we could bring all the kids over to swim on Friday. We set a general time and left it at that. When we showed up at her house on Friday morning, I explained the friends had to leave early, but Evan and Luke still wanted to swim. The McAlexanders all snuck in a different way so they could be in the house. All this was made possible because of my partner in crime Jed!!

Her reaction was priceless. I think we did pretty good. :)

Video of her surprise!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Beachin Asbells

This summer headed back to the beach!!!

We have visited the 30A area many times with and without kids. We like the lack of highrises (less bodies on the beach) and non-touristry atmosphere. We headed back to Sea Grove this summer for our family vacation.

Luke has been talking about the beach since the last time we went three years ago. He talked about the 'pirate room' him and Evan shared, the elevator to the 4th floor, the balcony. He talked about it all! 

Now, three years ago, he did not enjoy the beach as much as I wanted him to. He wanted to remain in the pool. He was also too little to be in the water by himself so one of us had to follow him around constantly. Not my idea of a relaxing beach vacation. Like my friend once said, "I mean, if I can't relax on the beach with a book and cold beverage, I am not sure I'd like it either. It's hot...and sandy..." But, I knew this year would be different.

On our way down, I pulled my blog post from 3 years ago to read about the things we did. I was quickly reminded to set my expectation low....very low.

The trip started out very rough. Evan had spent a week at Camp of the Rising Son in French Camp, MS. We had planned to pick him up and drive straight to the beach. It would add a little time to our drive, but it was at least in the general direction. I got a call the night before we were leaving. I had been waiting for this call all week. I just knew the camp was going to call me to say he wasn't eating...or wasn't sleeping...or broke his arm. I have a very active imagination. When I saw an unknown number at 8pm from Pontomic MS, my heart immediately sunk. 

Nurse: Mrs. Asbell? Um, hi. I have Evan here and his eye has been bothering him all day. He's come several times to us to talk about it. This time when he came we saw it was really swollen and goopy.

OMGAHHHHHH - I don't think I heard a word of what she said after that. I knew in my mommy heart Evan had pink eye!!! I classify pink eye up there with lice. So gross. So very gross and so very contagious. 

They told me they could keep him for the night in the infirmary. This means he got to sleep in air conditioning AND watch a movie. We arrived around 8:30 and I immediately knew it was pink eye. We grabbed his stuff, thanked the amazing staff at CRS, squirted some drops in his eyes, and took off....but didn't get far. Luke quickly puked in the back seat. 


Thankfully he hit a blanket in the floor, so clean up was easy. I bought some Dramamine, told him to open wide, and then we took off again.

Thankfully those were the two worst things that happened the whole trip. Evan's pink eye spread to the other eye, but he was completely healed by Monday. And by a complete miracle and a metric ton of hand sanitizer, no one else got it. 

We enjoyed a lot of good food, amazing weather, and some really fun times in the ocean all week. 

I think my favorite memory was at lunch one day. The boys were just talking and Evan casually said, 'Luke, who is your best friend?" Without even looking up from his lunch, Luke pointed to Evan and simply said, "You."
I love how easy their friendship is.

The kids (and adults) spent a lot of time looking for ocean treasure!

We had a great view from our balcony. That is a VERY important feature for me when choosing a condo. I like to take my coffee on the patio, my dinner, my 5pm drink, my everything! It's also great for people watching. Especially when you people watch the same family take family photos three nights in a row...

The boys LOVED the ocean. The rougher the better. We had several calm days, but the boys always seemed to enjoy the rougher ones better.

We did some non-beach things as well. We ate well at Florida Fish House, The Hub, Bruno's, Grayton Brew Pub, Blue Mountain Creamery, Goatfeathers, The Perfect Pig, and more!

But my favorite time was when we were all together on the beach.

Thank you family vacation for giving us a reason to slow down and focus on each other. We'll see you again next year.