We drove to Atlantic Beach after Andrew got finished with classes for the day yesterday. When we'd barely pulled out of the driveway Benjamin announced, "I don't like the countryside." So we've been joking about that little bit of proffered information ever since, naturally.
Another gem was from Miriam who said, "How does sound work, again? I forgot."
She literally wanted us to explain how sound waves work.
Anyway, we drove the whole way without stopping once, which is quite amazing for a 3+ hour trip with four little kids. Zoë gladly took expressed milk from a bottle (second time in her life) and only screamed for about the last half hour or so.
We checked into our hotel and went out for burgers before going to bed. The kids were still awake at around 11:30 last night, which was a little ridiculous. Still, we were up and moving at a fairly decent time in the morning (9:00 am).
Here's Benjamin snuggling "Darf Vader" and "The White Bad-Guy":
And here's Miriam giving Zoë some morning snuggles:
Miriam was a little sad we weren't going to Myrtle Beach because she's been doing an ocean unit in school and "that's where Mr. A. finds all his conch shells!" I assured her that the ocean was one big mess of shells. And what do you think she stumbled upon seconds after we reached the sand?
A conch shell (or at least part of one). she was very excited.
Here's Zoë and I chilling in a chair:
And here are the kids, so excited to be at the beach:
Oh, look--it's me and Zoë again:
Our hotel basically opens up onto the beach, but there's also a fishing pier, like, right there. I wanted to put some distance between ourselves and the pier because I'm a little paranoid about sharks lately (it's been an unusually active summer for shark bites and sharks like to hang out around piers because fishermen dump all their fish guts into the water from the pier). We were walking along the beach, the kids were hopping and skipping in the sand. And then I saw a jellyfish so I yelled, "Miriam! Stop walking!"
She stopped about an inch in front of the jellyfish:
Fortunately she didn't step on it. That would have made her a very sad girl, I' sure. But she did find another partial conch shell! She wasn't sad about that!
Andrew helped Benjamin write his name:
That's the only word he recognizes. I printed out packing lists for the girls so that they could do their own packing (and they did a pretty good job), but Benjamin insisted that I print him a list, too, so I did. He grabbed it from the printer and read over it very carefully.
"I'm looking. I'm looking. I'm looking. Nope! This isn't my list! It doesn't say Benji!" he said.
I took the paper and wrote, "Benjamin's List" at the top.
"'Ere we go!" he said.
He did not do his own packing but he did choose some clothes.
Anyway, back to the beach.
Andrew immediately took the kids to play in the water while Zoë and I hung out and set up camp. Here she is snoozing in the sun:
And here she is snoozing in the shade after I got our little beach canopy set up:
By the time I had the canopy and chairs set up Andrew and the kids had accomplished this:
When Zoë woke up I took her down to inspect the newest castle on the beach:
Here are Miriam and Benjamin building some sand mounds:
Miriam was a dedicated shell collector! Here are some of the shells she found:
We looked for sharks' teeth but didn't find any. When Miriam asked why I wanted to find one I said, "Because my dad said they're all over the beaches out here so I thought we'd look."
"Wait, Bumpa said that? Well that's why. Mom, he's been on this earth for a long time, like fifty-seven years. That's a super long time. He's had plenty of time to find shark teeth. You haven't been on the earth very long yet. Don't worry. You still have time to find a shark's tooth."
I wasn't exactly worried about all of that but it was nice of Miriam to reassure me. Also, my dad isn't fifty-seven years old. He's sixty...one...right?
Anyway, here's Benjamin with the castle:
And here's Zoë visiting again (I didn't want her to burn so she did short sun-playtimes and long shade-playtimes):
Here she is dipping her feet in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time:
And here she is getting swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean for the first time:
And here she is being tossed into the salty sea air for the first time:
And loving it...or at least tolerating it.
The kids enjoyed playing in the surf, while I did my best to not worry about sharks and jellyfish. Andrew said something about "migratory patterns" and "it'll all be okay" and I'm glad it was. But, boy, am I good at worrying!
Miriam wins the reward for the best wipe out, though this picture is not of that because she's happy here. She was certainly not happy after she flipped off her board.
Here are the kids in the sand again (where all there is to worry about is skin cancer and heat stroke...rogue seagulls...runaway vehicles...surprise tsunamis...I am really good with coming up with things to worry about):
Back in the water (oh, boy):
In all honesty, while I am a natural worrier, I'm pretty sure sleep deprivation amplifies my anxiety/paranoia. So thanks to Zoë I'm even more able to think up horrifying predicaments than I normally am. But I'm also a fun person, so despite the uptick in shark attacks this summer, I got into the water as well. After all, it's October (migratory patterns and all that).
Here I am with Zoë (though I also went boogie boarding there are no pictures of that):
Here's Zoë by a sand castle:
She's been doing all sorts of crazy things lately, like trying to sit up:
She's not very good at it yet:
And here she is standing in the water again (with no reaction as she gets slammed by a wave--meh):
Here's Rachel with her finished castle:
And here are the girls boogie boarding some more:
Here's Miriam's crazy arabesque:
Benjamin wanted to give boogie boarding a try, so we slapped his puddle-jumper on and Andrew took him out for some lessons:
He loved it! (Side note: this must have been after Miriam biffed it because she's frolicking in the waves rather than using her boogie board).
He and Rachel caught the same wave and crashed because neither one of them can steer. They're at the will of the ocean.
We forgot to bring anything for Zoë to play with so we rinsed off a shell for her to suck on (and then I worried a bit about brain-eating parasites, but only a little). She seemed to enjoy that.
I suppose I could have had Andrew bring her something to play with when he went back to the hotel to make lunch for us. It's so nice staying so close to the beach! Instead of carting all our food with us we left it in our room. Andrew ran back at lunchtime to make sandwiches for everyone. It was perfect. But I didn't even think to ask him to get a toy for Zoë. Oh, well.
Here's Benjamin throwing sand into the ocean:
The seagulls suddenly became very interested when Andrew walked back to us carrying a plateful of sandwiches.
Benjamin has been working on spelling his name. The other day we were signing cards for my sisters' birthdays and he very carefully drew a B, saying, "One, zero, zero. That spells B."
Here he is writing his B (with a line and two circles):
And here he is making an E "with lotsa lines":
He's pretty good at writing "Ben" but he doesn't really go by Ben (even though we do call him that occasionally (we're not strict about nicknames)) so he likes to tack a bunch of other stuff at the end to make it say "Benjamin" (or at least "Benji") but so far has lacked the wherewithal to sit still long enough to learn what comes after B-E-N. Here's his attempt at the rest of his name anyway:
I guess Miriam recovered emotionally from her little accident and attemped boogie boarding again. Here she is with Daddy and Rachel:
She's having a great time (obviously):
Benjamin asked me to spell in the sand with him for a while. Here he is locating B (his favourite letter):
Zoë became disinterested in her shell and decided to pay with her toes. She found them just yesterday and thinks they're fascinating.
Here's Andrew coming in with a wave:
He and Rachel were definitely out in the water the longest:
Here's Rachel giving me a sour face just after she was swept off her board:
Miriam, Zoë, and I took a long "shell walk" and filled Benjamin's hat with shells (that we mostly didn't keep but it was fun to pick up treasures anyway). Miriam was most excited about the crab pinchers and broken sand dollars that we found (still no shark teeth).
Just before we called it a day, I let Zoë brave the sand on her own. She seemed to enjoy the new texture and had she been just a bit older would probably have been granted more free time in the sand. But since she can't sit up on her own quite yet and still gets confused about how to put her head down when she's on her tummy ("Do I turn my head to the side or smash my face onto the ground? I can't remember," is the dilemma she seems to face at least twenty times a day) we decided to limit her time in the sand.
We were at the beach for about as long as we stay when we do a day trip, but--oh, boy!--it was so nice to not have to do the drive there and back on the same day!