Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

Meet Our New Mortal Enemy

August 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Piping-PLoverA few weeks ago, we returned to North Carolina’s Outer Banks for vacation after the boys fell in love with it for the first time and Andrea and I fell in love with it all over again last year. With Andrea spending long stretches of time in Mexico and the stress around the uncertainty and then termination of my job in the last six months, we truly needed this return to the quiet, relaxing beaches of Hatteras Island, together as a family, with no outside stress.

One of the highlights from our trip last year was when Benjamin and Andrea made the long hike out to the Cape Point near the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. It is known for all the sea shells that wash up on shore along with the fact that you can wade out into the surf at low tide without being hammered by waves. Without an off-road permit for your car it is a good 30 minute walk to get there from the parking lot. When Andrea and Ben went last year not only did they find some cool shells, but it was a sweet adventure for the two of them. There was a certain magic to it. So much so, that Ben and Andrea really wanted to do it again this year and their excitement was contagious to Matthew and I.

We checked the tide charts and decided the best time to go was at 6:00 AM on our last full day there, so we set our alarm for bright and early and off we went.

After 25 minutes of walking, we could see the point of the Cape…But we also saw a sign on a post with wire heading in both directions towards other posts…A makeshift barrier.  The National Park Service had closed down the cape to everyone…No exceptions, not even for two incredibly disappointed little boys.

It was a very quiet walk back to the car, with the silence interrupted occasionally by one of the four of us taking turns wondering out loud why the signs weren’t posted in the parking lot. The boys were being mostly good sports about it, but they were clearly upset. The disappointment hung in the fresh, salty air.

When we finally got back to the car, we found a place to grab breakfast. While waiting for our food, using her phone, Andrea tried to find out why the cape was closed. Best she could find was that it was either to protect sea turtle eggs or nesting Piping Plovers.

We all love sea turtles, but we had no idea what the hell a Piping Plover is. And so, the Piping Plover instantly took on our wrath! Turns out it is an endangered but ridiculously cute shore bird. The cute little menace looks like it spends its days running along the edge of the water eating whatever sealife comes in with the tide and disappointing families everywhere.  Immediately, the jokes began about hunting down the tasty little morsels and how we should be having Piping Plover for breakfast. Suddenly, we had a target for the morning disappointment and the fact that it is so cute just seemed to make our now feigned anger at it even funnier.  I’ll never forget how the giggles erupted from around the table when we looked at pictures of this little hell-bird.

And just like that, disappointment was turned to laughter and the Piping Plover has become part of our family history. While we had so many great memories, it is the Piping Plover, I think,  that we are going to remember the most from this trip. Weeks later now, the very mention of that damn Piping Plover causes Matthew to pretend growl and mumble “I hate that Piping Plover!” Ben will talk about how tasty the little bird must be and we all laugh.

20140807_223122Sure, the fire on the beach at dusk and spending a day floating, playing and exploring the sound are wonderful memories. And, it’s not that we are focused on this disappointment. It’s just that we were able to turn the disappointment around and laugh at ourselves and our sorry failed expedition which saw a stupid little bird get the best of us. I think it’s an important life-lesson for the boys. Life is going to be full of disappointments, but how you overcome them are what’s going to bring about life’s sweetest moments. When life gives you Piping Plovers, you make roast Piping Plover with a nice herb and garlic sauce.

And, apparently, we aren’t alone. When we got back, I went to to see if they had any stuffed Piping Plovers I could get the boys and I found the bumper stick in the picture above. It seems nobody likes that Piping Plover!


No Socks, No Shoes, No Pants?

June 24, 2013 Leave a comment

13 - 1This afternoon, while on vacation on the Outer Banks, we decided to walk out to the point that is near the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. From where you park, the remote beach has to be at least a mile or two walk. While we walked, the boys played in the surf and got their shorts wet. Matthew started to get upset because the shorts started chaffing his legs. With the long walk back to the car ahead of us,I told him to take his shorts off, leaving him in underwear.

On the drive back to the condo, Ben turned around and said, laughing, “Well, at least Matthew can go into the store with us. It says ‘No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service’ but doesn’t say anything about pants!”

I think Ben is going to be either a comedian or a lawyer.

Little Brain Waking Up (or “Look at the Big Brain on Matthew”)

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment

As I mentioned before, every year, while on vacation, the boys seem to hit new stages in development.  I’ve also mentioned in the past that Matthew had been slow in his speech development and is very difficult to understand, at times.  During this years vacation, it seems, Matthew has taken huge strides in this area.

In the week before heading to Wildwood, Matthew would eat and eat and eat, giving every indication of a growth spurt.  Well, it seems that new areas of his little brain have suddenly turned on (this is the best way Andrea and I can describe it).  Not only has his speech been significantly clearer, but he is using a bunch of words he never used before, he is putting together very long sentences and putting together some very clear thoughts.  In addition, he has suddenly become scared in the dark, makes us close his closet and doesn’t like to be left in a room by himself, all indications to me that he has developed his imagination more.

One of the side effects of him talking more (and a week of vacation where the boys were constantly together) is more fighting between him and Benjamin.  They have gotten into full blown arguments on a range of subjects.  Ben is use to not having to compete with anyone to talk, but now Matthew has become more of a chatterbox and it has frustrated him.  It has gotten to the point where I had had to tell them both to just stop talking to each other because they couldn’t agree on anything.

It is very exciting to see Matthew “wake up” and has been loads of fun.  Andrea and I have been recording him because it is so cute and fun.  (I intended to post those recordings here, but I need to upgrade my account with WordPress first and I haven’t had a chance to do that.)  It really warms our hearts because it has been worrisome, at times, wondering if he would ever become easier to understand.

One of my favorite quotes from Matt came out of this.  Matthew did a project that included silhouette stickers of different sea animals.  Ben kept trying to tell Matt that the different animals were not what they really were because he has a new interest in certain animals.  So, for example, Ben really likes Sperm Whales now and kept saying, “Lets pretend the shark sticker is a whale.”  Matthew didn’t like that because he picked out the stickers because they were animals he likes.  Well, finally, Matthew yells to me, “Benjamin isn’t trusting me.”

When Ben tried to defend himself, Matthew replied, “Your not trusting me.  All you are doing is keep talking and that’s not fair.”  Very cute.

Also, Matthew has taken to replying to questions with “Yup” (pronounced Yee-UP) and “Nope” (Noop).  Very cute.

I’m Just Going to Sit Here in My Own Stink

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

A friend of ours once said, as she was struggling to stop procrastinating, get in the shower and then pack, “Vacation is over…I’m just going to sit here in my own stink.”  That about sums up my feelings right now.

I’ve written and re-written a couple of paragraphs talking about why and how much I hate vacations ending, but realized that, well, almost no one likes when vacations end and, for me to talk about it would be like spending time trying to explain how it was hot last week.  So I won’t…those paragraphs have been deleted.

We had a wonderful time and I already feel like I miss Benjamin and Matthew.  They were so sweet and I believe they really had a nice time.  Andrea and I from time to time will start talking about the boys after they have gone to bed and it will touch just the right chord that one of us will usually joke, “Let’s go wake them up!” so that we can have more fun with them.  And while I am tired and ready to move on with the summer, I feel that way as I think about the past week.  I want to wake up Andrea and the boys and head back to the beach.

Of course, I can’t.  It’s time to focus on what is coming up next, like Benjamin turning six, school starting up again for Andrea and Ben, Matthew moving into the next classroom in daycare, sporting events, birthday parties, etc.  There are plenty of things to be excited about and a lot of memories to be made…I just can’t help but miss vacation, already.  Oh well, I guess I’ll suck it up.

Bading Doop and Swimming

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, Andrea and I suddenly realized that Matthew was saying “bathing suit” pretty clearly and correctly.  It wasn’t long ago that he really struggled with his “s” sound and so he would say “bading doop”. was very cute and, as proud as I am of how well he has been speaking, it makes me miss how he said certain things.  Also, his classroom at daycare is called “Super Stars” or, as he called it, “Dooper Dars”.

Speaking of bading doops, when vacation started, Matthew would only go in the pool with both water wings and a noodle.  I encouraged him to give up the noodle and just swim with the wings, without pushing him.  I told him he should try it before the end of vacation.  Well, a couple of days ago, he asked me to take away the noodle and he swam around with just the wings, so proud of himself.  Then, he asked for me to take off the wings and just let him use the noodle.  Again, he was so proud.  Out of the blue, today, he asked to swim without either and he did so great.  I was really very proud of him.

On a different subject, after dinner and ice cream tonight, Benjamin (who is well-known to be the messiest eater we know) shows us his leg which is covered in chocolate.  He asked, “How did this happen?” To which Andrea said, sarcastically, “It’s a mystery, Ben.”  Without missing a beat Benjamin says, “Dum, dum dummmm!”

Tidal Pools, Part 2

July 20, 2011 Leave a comment

For me, there are few things as wonderful and amazing as a tidal pool.  When the fierce waters of the sea withdraw themselves from the beach, the leave these shimmering pools of water that are full of life and open to exploration.  With each cycle, they change shape and form and new magic emerges from them.  For me, tidal pools are vacation.

As I mention before, we have taken our vacations in North Wildwood, NJ.  Before that, we went to Wildwood Crest for long weekends.  And these vacations just might be the most important thing for our little family from year to year.  With both of us working and the boys in school/daycare, our time with them is, to a certain extent, limited.  These vacations give us a chance to be together for a much longer period of time then we are use to and it allows us all to learn a little more about each other.  I know that must sound weird, but at home, there are so many other things going on like work and it’s residual stresses, yard work, chores, bills, school, daycare and so on.  Being able to spend time together in a virtual vacuum where we can just be with each other and not be distracted with everything else going on is absolutely priceless.

With each year, our vacations seem to bring out new milestones with the boys.  We have seen developments as important as speech and walking to the more mundane like eating a certain food or swimming without water wings.  Now, I am not saying that we went on vacation and one of our boys got up and started to walk.  It’s been more like seeing them take more confident steps or working through words a little more clearly.  In some cases, and it is sad to say, they may have already been doing these things, but vacation slow things down enough for us to take notice.

Like other things in our lives, the beaches of Wildwood are marking time for us.  We can’t walk around here without noticing the area where Ben crawled at full charge into a wave with a huge smile on his face at 10 months old.  Or the spot where Matthew splashed and played in a small hole I dug for hours when he was just over a year old.  There is the pool six blocks away where they both let go of us for the first time and the spot two blocks away from there where they both insisted they were done trying to ride bikes and made Andrea and I carry them home (they can’t all be happy time markers).

I can’t help but wonder what the future holds and the memories to come here at the beach.  I imagine the day when the two of them go fishing together or wander off to the boardwalk on their own.  I dream about the day I get to sit with them on a balcony looking at the sea and share a beer with them.  Of course, I don’t want to rush things, but these are the things that I am allowed to think of while on vacation.

It is amazing to think about how these two have developed in the years since we started coming here.  Even just thinking about what we pack for a trip like this is a bittersweet thought.  Portable cribs and diapers got replaced by bicycles and ice cream makers.  As I was writing this, Andrea pointed out how our vacations have become less the two of us and the two children we produced and more about four individuals living together in the best sense possible.  We talk together and laugh.  We share jokes and discuss the days plans.  And it is such a truly wonderful thing.

As I mentioned in my first post this week, I decided to start writing this blog while on vacation last year…I wanted to be able to capture these moments and not let them go.  I don’t want to lose them, because they are fleeting like the tidal pools.  The ocean batters the shore for hours a day before it finally pulls back and allows tidal pools to form.  These tidal pools are born from, yet exist in stark contrast to the raging ocean that is sometimes, mere feet away.  They are calm, peaceful and so full of life.  They are there for exploring and playing.  In them there is a reflection of life.  From day to day and year to year, they are always different as the ocean shift and rearrange the sands.  They are beautiful in both their complexity and simplicity.  They are a great metaphor for our vacations.

Apparently, I Rock

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

As the dolphin boat made it’s way back to the dock this evening, the crew handed us a bunch of bread to feed the seagulls off the back of the boat.  I decided to try to feed the birds by hand and held pieces of bread that the gulls came and took from my fingers.  Benjamin loved it and after several birds grabbed the bread, he shout, “Daddy, you rock at that!”

Benjamin also rode his first wave on his new boogie board that his grandmom bought him.  He loved it, but on the next wave, quickly learned that the waves can be finicky and we were done for the day.

Matthew was initially very nervous on the boat when it got into the open ocean and hit the big wave, but after a few minutes, he finally went to the rail and had a huge smile on his face.  The poor guy was exhausted, however, by the time we got back.  After a day at the pool, beach and on the boat without a nap, we couldn’t get him in bed fast enough and he fell asleep as I was tucking him in.