Saturday, September 29, 2007

Leaving Everyone Else at Home

We got back from the beach today. This was our first family-only vacation ever. We've been on vacation before, yes, but always with extended family, including a whole gaggle of my cousins and their children. But this time, it was just us, just our little 6 person semi-dysfunctional family. And it was heaven.

Here are a few of the reasons it was heaven:

1. The beach in September is gorgeous.

2. We had amazing weather, including one day (one day being the perfect amount) of driving rain, making for a cozy inside day.

3. John didn't work a lick (quite a feat these days).

4. The kids had hella fun playing in the waves, Paige included. She nearly had a baby cow every time she saw the ocean. When I'd take her to the water's edge, she'd kick and squeal and lurch forward like she wanted to dive in and swim to France.

5. The kids were worn out at the end of every day, which made bedtime easy and early and left lots o' grown up time for me and the old man.

6. We ate so. much. junk food. So much.

7. There was an exceptionally rat-like possum who wandered onto the screened in porch every night scavaging for food (oh, shoot, this one actually belongs on the "things that made me gag during vacation" list. Sorry.)

8. We ate out a lot.

9. When I had to drive back home to work on Wednesday night (certainly NOT one of the things that made vacation heaven), we had a disbursement check from an old escrow account waiting in the mailbox. Windfall! Whoo hoo! More eating out....

10. We napped every day.

The last thing on the list deserves its own section, because this one made my vacation. We decided that over the course of the week, we'd spend one-on-one time with each of the children. We very carefully and thoughtfully chose activities that each child would love, according to his or her tastes. Naturally that meant doughnuts for Mitch and mini-golf for Owen. Paige's one-on-one time happened every day in the form of coaxing her to sleep for two naps and bedtime and nursing her on demand all week (and for some reason, she was very demanding).

I had the honor of escorting for the doughnut date and the mini-golf date, and John took Bailey on her date, which was a 2 hour uninterrupted swim in the ocean. She loves the ocean, but it's hard for us to get in the water with her for any length of time because of younger siblings who might get washed out to sea without constant vigilance.

On the morning of his date, a "special breakfast" at a scrumptious village bakery, Mitch woke me at 6:00 am, whispering wetly into my ear, "Mommy! It's time for special breakfast!" I held him off til 7:00, and then we set off, rather giddily. At the bakery, we ordered a sausage and egg croissant, chocolate doughnuts (freshly baked and hand dipped) and chocolate milk. And then Mitch's head exploded. Not really, but yes, that's a whole lot of chocolate.

The best part was, of course, sitting down at a cozy little table together, chatting and munching and answering each of Mitch's incessant questions without interruption. He was thrilled to be singled out, and his behavior was impeccable. On the way to the car, he skipped up beside me, squeezed my hand, and said, "Thank you for my special breakfast." Then we went home, and Mitch spent the rest of the morning tearing around the beach house, wired on sugar and cocoa.

Owen's mini-golf date was Thursday night after dinner. We filled our pockets with quarters and set off to Uncle Andy's mini-golf and ice cream (which sounds a little bit creepy, kind of like "Uncle Andy" is trying to lure small children to him, but actually it's a nice place). The best part is, Uncle Andy only charges 2 dollars for endless mini-golf, and he makes a damn fine mix-in ice cream. One price, any and all of the toppings you want. Oh my yum. Heath Bar, Reeces Cup, and cookie dough, please.

Because it was the off-season, not many people were at Uncle Andy's, so we played speedily, just as Owen likes it. After chatting with another group of mini-golfers for a bit, Owen called after them, "Guess what? It's just me and mommy! We left my dad and my brother and my sisters at home for a special night!" It made me all gooey inside to know he was basking in our aloneness. I was, too.

After 2 and a half games of golf, I had 2 holes in one, Owen had 3. So we went inside and fed all of the quarters to that arcade game that pushes piles of quarters forward, and if you place your quarter just right, a whole bunch might fall into the quarter dispenser, and you'll win mega bucks. We won six quarters, but Owen, little gambling addict that he is, fed them right back in, so in the end we won no quarters and lost 2 dollars. But we had fun losing the 2 dollars, so oh well.

We're home tonight, sun chapped and tired. Everyone is in bed now, happy to have their heads on their own pillows. But when we wake up tomorrow, I expect there will be a brief moment of disorientation until we remember that vacation has ended, and we're back in real life now. Where one cannot eat doughnuts for breakfast, cookies after lunch, and ice cream sundaes every night. At least not after tonight. And possibly tomorrow. But after that, it's broccoli, spinach, and baked fish all the way.


MadMad said...

Sounds like heaven! Glad you had a good time!

Bon said...

i loved this...especially the description of your special date with each child. and your description of breakfast. and maybe the food in general.