Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Beach Vacation

Our family spent Labor Day week at the beach and we've since decided that it's the perfect time to go. No crowds, great temperatures, and lower costs. I think we may have stumbled on a new annual tradition.

A couple of days ago during dinner I asked the kids to list their favorite things about our time at the beach. While totally unrelated to typical beach fun, they unanimously agreed that "watching the knights joust and the horses do tricks was the coolest thing!" 

Grady discovered some coupons and learned that Annalyse was free because this was her birthday month, so he made reservations for our family to enjoy some dinner theater at Medieval Times.
From the moment we entered, my kids were captivated, and if I'm honest, Grady and I were pretty entranced too. The decor, acting, food, music, and costumes were all fantastic! We watched six knights battle to be champion and to win the heart of the princess.
The contests were exciting (my boys were literally on the edge of their seats during the sword fights, complete with sparks that flew) and the horses were beautiful (their precision and response to the masterful horsemanship was incredible). The theater was arranged into color-coded areas so that all attendees were cheering for their color-matching knight and horse throughout the show. Although our knight didn't win, we all agreed he was the best... and besides, he tossed a flower up to Annalyse when he won a contest. 
But, getting back to actual beach fun, we absolutely loved the time playing in the waves! The afternoon tide was perfect for body-boarding and wave jumping... big enough for a simple thrill, but small enough that my kids weren't pummeled. Hours in the waves. Hours and hours...!
Oddly enough, everyone but Jax and I got stung by jellyfish! This was a first for all of us and had my kids wary of the ocean for the rest of the day. But, when waves are crashing and you know deep-down there is a lot of fun waiting for you in the water, the decision to head back in the water won out. Thankfully, the cluster of jellyfish never returned after the first day.
Earlier in the summer we spent a day at the beach while visiting family in New Jersey. We had a great time, but all agreed the water was quite cold. My family has obviously become southern wimps because anything less the (perfect) 82 degree water temperatures we had all week is now considered cold.
When we weren't enjoying the beach, we were enjoying the various pools at the resort. A pirate themed zero-entry pool with fountains, a lazy river, a hot tub, and "the regular pools that all you do is swim in them" gave everyone something to do.
Our hotel room had a full-service kitchen so it was easy to fix breakfast and lunch each day. It was nice to spend the morning outside, come in for lunch and rest time, and then spend the afternoon outside before getting cleaned up for dinner. While I could have easily prepared dinner in the hotel, Grady was thoughtful enough to recognize this was vacation after all, and that giving me a cooking break for one meal everyday would be nice. (Thanks Babe. Possibly the highlight of the week for me!)
My little Jaxton was a bundle of precious, curious movement! He ate fistfuls of sand, splashed and laughed, and crawled and explored. He played hard and was easy-going with the constant change in routine for naps and eating. And, he garnered lots of attention from doting grandparent-types walking the beach each day.
Annalyse was happy to jump in the waves but, try as we may, couldn't be convinced to come out into the water. Last year she loved sitting on a body board and bouncing on the waves. This year, not so much. More than anything, she was happy with a shovel and a pail... talking to herself, gathering sea shells, and making volumes of mud pies.
Grady Lee and Micah, well, they jumped and splashed and karate chopped and wrestled. For hours. And hours. I enjoyed jumping and playing in the waves, too, for periods of time. But for them? They couldn't get enough.
Evening walks on the beach were special - the older three ran ahead and it was kind of, sort of, just a little bit like Grady and I were alone and on a date. Until I looked down and saw Jax riding on me. And until one of our older three ran up to show us something. And until one of the older three began crying because someone did something or said something that was "meeeaaaan to me!" Yes, my kids argue and bicker - even on vacation.
But, for sure, the absolute best part of our time at the beach was family togetherness. New surroundings. Departure from routine. Fun experiences. Uninterrupted time. All of this, and more, together.

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