Jun 14, 2017

The Week of Shark Teeth and Engagements {Topsail 2017}

In the month of May we had three Urgent Care visits, one ER trip, and one Lyme disease scare, so a week at the beach Memorial Day week was a welcome respite to all of the sickness! We went to Topsail Island, North Carolina with my family- the water and the weather were on the cooler side at times but we had a great week together.
My sister and BIL drove up from Florida and brought some plumeria blooms from the trees she grows!
Pool time was a little tricky with Cora since the water was too cold for her and she wasn't a huge fan of hanging out in the baby pool by herself. Oh well. Every year is different!
Our family has been to Topsail twenty-something summers and never have we ever found shark teeth like we did this year. We've always found lots of tiny fossilized ones and even some that were sharp and not super worn down from the surf, however this year so many big ones turned up! It was addicting to comb the beach in search of them. My oldest nephew had fun identifying which kinds were from which sharks. 
Audrey was the proud finder of the one below. :)
I found the first two (Great Whites) in the picture below and one of my sisters found that huge one on our last day! One of my other sisters found a lot of large ones as well. We were very glad to be the ones finding the teeth and not the other way around...
I have to admit it's a little hard for me to let go of going to all the places we've always gone when we come here because, tradition! I made peace with the fact that vacation with four little kids looks different, and it's time to start new Topsail customs.
One morning all six of us went to the local bakery and the girls excitedly picked out treats to bring back. They also had fun visiting the "treasure store" with cousins and picking out something to take home (Heidi chose a little ball- bless her!). And we made it to the old school ice cream shop (for lunch only but still!) during the day which makes so much more sense than trying to scramble everyone into cars after dinner and running into a late, cranky bedtime...
SUCH delicious donuts (PS- there are no calories on vacation)
I loved this moment when Cora grabbed a bucket of shells and started fishing them out and putting them in her mouth. I handed her some Terra chips to try and dissuade her from her inedible snack; instead she just alternated chips and sandy shells, as you do at the beach.
A priest family friend spent the week with us and I think he was amused by my sister and brother-in-law's efforts to figure out the new priest assignments for our diocese which came out that week. You know you're Catholic when...
Cora discovered a new flavor of Cheez-It: White Cheddar Sand
Yum! Extra gritty.
I was walking on the beach with Cora in the Ergo just as this storm was rolling in. I kept delaying turning around when the thunder started, thinking it wasn't coming our way until- nope- it most definitely was! I so wished I had my camera out there because it was unreal watching all the different clouds moving out over the ocean. And it was crazy how fast the beach cleared out and how quickly the wind picked up.
It even hailed, then cleared out enough so that...
my brother was able to propose to his girlfriend on a beach walk later that evening!
None of us knew anything about it until a few minutes before they left, when my brother (all alone) nonchalantly dropped a hint to a few family members about a bottle of champagne that was chilling  in the fridge. On the spur of the moment, one of my BILs set off after them with his long-range camera lens and- keeping a good distance- captured the moment on camera.
The newly engaged were good sports about seeing a horde of people spying from the top deck with binoculars, waiting for their return. What else is a big family to do? :)

The next day Evie (who was asleep during the engagement) was kind enough to fill me in on the news:
 "MOM, were you there for the blessing after mass? Did you hear the word wedding? GUESS who's getting married??"

And then a few days later my youngest brother and his girlfriend got engaged! It's been an exciting, memorable time, and especially fun to witness the excitement of our girls and their cousins. It's also amusing having to remind the kids that the weddings won't be taking place next week or month. ;)

Previous Topsail posts: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013

Jun 6, 2017

So They Say {vol. 3}

Evie: I know who our pope is!
Me: Who?
Evie: Bishop Burbidge.
When winding down the birthday phone conversation to the girls' cousin-
Audrey: I want to talk to her again!
Me: Okay, you can tell her one more thing.
Audrey (diplomatically): Well, I have a lot more things.
Observing me nurse Cora-
Heidi: Mama, baby Cora's feeding you.

While visiting an airport Wendy's in the very early a.m.-
Evie (displeased): Are they melting crayons? Because it smells like crayon wax.
Talking to the Pilgrim Virgin statue that we had for a week-
Heidi: Hi Mary! I'm back. Mary, where did yours crown go? In bag?
On Superbowl Sunday
Evie: Who are you voting for in the Superbowl?

Heidi responses when contradicting her sisters:
Yes, I don't!
Yes, I'm not!
Audrey (sharing some big news): They killed an alliga-tah in Florida- and it was 4 INCHES TALL!
Evie: Cora's cheek is as soft as...
Me: A kitten?
Evie: No...as soft as mozzarella cheese.

When asked why she didn't want her chicken at dinner
Heidi: Be-cause. It's BORING.
Scuttling back towards the shelf, usurped candle in hand, when she sees me coming-
Heidi: Mama, I put this candle back so Cora don't lose it.
During a particularly difficult (highly emotional) evening-
An exasperated me: Evie, is something bothering you?
Evie (lying on the floor): Yeah. My life!

As you can imagine, we're a very low-drama household. ;)

May 25, 2017

Hawaii part 2: In which the Fire and Rescue Squad meet us at our gate

 I'm realizing how typing these posts out while the memories are fresh in my mind would be so much easier than attempting to recall details weeks later, but procrastination has always been my strong suit!
Continuing on...
We went to Sea Life Park one day, which was perfect for us- smallish, uncrowded, "hands on" opportunities for the kids, and a playground in the center. On the way to one of the exhibits from the playground I stopped dead in my tracks after counting heads and realizing Heidi wasn't with us. Thankfully she was still happily playing on the playground! Again, smallish and uncrowded place + Guardian Angels FTW.
Dolphin show
Feeding the birds
Feeding the fish lettuce
 Our morning at "Secret Beach" on the Marine Corps Base was great. I love going on base- I feel like I'm part of some special club or something. The beach was secluded, tucked away behind the airfield, and perfect swimming for the kids as it had hardly any waves. Us adults and my oldest nephew took turns snorkeling while the kids paddled about, so it was the best of both worlds!
The kids found a sea cucumber (every time I hear mention of them I think back to an episode of Fear Factor I once watched when some beauty queens had to eat one- yuck!) and there was much excitement over a sea turtle spotting.

On Wednesday we had to vacate the house as it was being treated for mold, so we drove to the North Shore where we ate at Teddy's Burgers (a favorite!) and then spent the afternoon at The Polynesian Cultural Center. I didn't know what to expect but, wow, the Cultural Center was quite a place! They had setups of the different Polynesian islands you could walk to and get your "Passports" stamped- all connected by walkways and bridges- each place with it's own activities to do (like spear throwing, fishing, hula dancing, etc.) and culture to experience. We didn't get to all of them but really enjoyed what we saw!
 The North Shore is so beautiful!
Cook pines

We also visited Samoa, Hawaii, and a couple others.

 In Samoa I nursed Cora while everyone else made crowns and fish (that you could play 'catch and release' with!) on lines from palms. Heidi was SO cute holding her little fishing line- it reminded me of those old time illustrations of little boys barefoot in the summer with their fishing poles in hand.

 It was HOT, HOT, HOT and I got burned- definitely a theme of the trip!

Hula lessons
One funny incident from there: I had just rejoined Tim and the other kids with a few of the girls in tow after using the bathroom (my sister was still in the restroom), when a group of South Korean tourists stopped me. One woman came very close to my face and holding up six fingers said with wide eyes, "Six?!". It took me a few seconds to realize she was referring to the kids and then Tim chuckled and explained that we were two families. We tried to converse with them as best we could for a few minutes and then (and this was the second time that day this happened) a few of the adults proceeded to marvel and gush over Cora and her blonde hair. It was so funny to me to witness such awe when we're so used to seeing her everyday!

We had planned to visit Pearl Harbor (I had been there but Tim hadn't) on our last full day there but when that day came around we knew we needed to lay low and let the girls play and rest at the house. That was the best decision since another full day of driving and being out in the sun would've been too much for everyone. Hopefully we'll get back someday!

The travel home was a bear. 
We decided it would be best to just get straight home instead of stopping in Portland for a night, however that meant we had three (THREE!) flights to get from Hawaii to Virginia. The flight from Hawaii was o-kay- Heidi played her "wild, wiggly two-year old" card pretty much the whole time. Tim dealt with the brunt of the crazy for which he receives many accolades from me!
BUT. (cue "Psycho" music) When we landed in Portland, Tim had to go get all our bags from baggage claim, re-check them, then go through security since we were flying a different airline. That left me with three backpacks, a diaper bag, 4 kids + stroller and a duffle bag to manage. Thankfully a play area was right next door to our gate, which was also not a far walk from our arrival gate.

Cora slobbered all over that stump and it was out of my realm of things to handle, so I didn't wipe it up. I am that mom!
 Even more wonderfully, there was a Burgerville right across the way. After camping out and letting the girls play for a bit I mustered up my courage and decided we needed to get something to eat since it was almost 9:30 pm local time and I knew this was our only chance at real food. I gathered up all our gear and we slowly maneuvered ourselves to Burgerville. By the grace of God we got our food and found a table without a hitch, then Tim met us a few minutes later.

You know when you're doing something you feel is really tough but you're managing and you're thinking, "Wow. This was a really difficult situation but I'm handling it!"? (In the play area I was texting with my sister-in-law all ohmygoodness how crazy is this situation that I'm in?!) Well....in the few seconds that we had our backs to Heidi, she decided to climb onto a nearby metal bar-height chair. We didn't see what happened, but a split second later she fell and cut her lip. From the bleeding and the sobbing we couldn't tell if her teeth had gone right through!
Tim whisked her away to find medical attention and just like that I was back in charge of three kids + all our stuff. In my head I was already preparing for us to miss our flight and having to stay the night in Portland. A kind soul offered me help but I didn't know how to use her kindness so we made small talk in that way adults do through kids and made our way to the bathroom.
Fast forward some minutes to Tim meeting us back at our gate (with time to spare before boarding!) with the Fire and Rescue Squad heading our way. The men were so great, and assessed that the cut was superficial. They applied steri-strips to a now sleeping Heidi and we boarded our plane a few minutes later. 

The flight was so much not something I'd ever care to repeat. Ever.
It was a night flight (minus any sleep, of course) and more than three hours long (the only redeeming part was watching "La La Land" in spurts and the most generous flight attendant who gave me headphones for free!). Tim held Heidi in the row in front of me, Evie, Audrey, and Cora. The girls slept fitfully- Evie again sprawled out along the seats. Cora cried off and on and screamed SO much towards the end of the flight, coinciding with Audrey crying and saying she was going to be sick (you know the sounds that alert you to the imminent emesis?). She did end up getting sick just as we exited into the gate area in Detroit. Sigh. 

I'll spare you the rest of the details except to say after that, the hour flight to D.C. was cake.
Overall, so many people made kind comments during the airport travel, which I was humbled by. We came across many kind hearted travelers and airline employees. I don't think I'll ever get used to the staring, but I know it's good for people to see families travel with young kids. 
Re-entry to real life was *definitely* an adjustment. Besides sleep schedules being way off, the week we returned Heidi came down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, cut her head open requiring an ER visit and staples, Tim caught an ear infection, I had bronchitis, and the other girls came down with viruses. It has been survival mode central for sure; I'm hoping and praying for a calm, healthy summer!
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