Charleston spring break 2017 – days 1 & 2

We made it to Charleston, SC for spring break, despite some tears and frustration the night before we began the drive when I was tempted to call the whole thing off. Packing and preparing for family travel is always unbearably stressful for me, despite the fact that I’ve gotten pretty good at packing lists and mental prep. We got through the two-day drive, and although it was rough at times, the kids did remarkably well overall. It rained the whole first day, which gave us little opportunity to take a real break. Fortunately day two was nicer, and about four hours out from Charleston we stopped at a playground to give the kids a chance to run around. It was such a beautiful park, and that was the first moment that it really felt like we were on vacation.

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On our first full-day in Charleston we’d planned to head to Folly Beach with my parents and my sister and her whole family, but it turned out to be rather chilly and incredibly windy. We spent a portion of the morning at a great little playground and planned to have the kids nap before going to the beach.

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The naps didn’t end up happening, and we debated about skipping the beach, but we’re in Charleston and we weren’t sure we’d get in another beach day (as it turned out, we did) so we went anyway, despite ridiculous wind. We got there and the kids were all freezing. We layered on every item of clothing that we had, Jonah whimpered and begged to be cuddled under a blanket. It was really pretty ridiculous, but we were all able to laugh about it and before long all of the kids were playing in the sand as if it were a normal day at the beach.

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Today it was a good bit warmer and less windy, and Jonah begged to go back to the beach (it’s really just a giant sandbox) so we packed up to head that way. My parents live about two miles from the beach, and since it was a Monday there wasn’t much traffic (it can be a surprisingly long drive on a busy beach day). My dad offered to drive Jonah in the Willy’s, this fun 1948 vehicle that my parents got specifically to take to the beach.

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Jonah was pretty psyched about it, but after about a block he decided that it was “too fast” and wanted to get in our minivan (we were trailing them with Jude and Vivi). I traded places with him and thought that it was a lot of fun, but with no doors or roof (and they had the windshield down), I can understand Jonah’s hesitation. I’m glad he gave it a try, though.

The beach was a lot more fun today, much more comfortable. Jonah announced that he loves Charleston and calls it “warm world.” We had a couple of wardrobe changes when our kids (none of whom were in swimsuits) ended up falling into the water when the tide came in (only a few inches of water, but enough to soak them and leave them yelling from the shock and cold), but it was all part of the experience. My dad went back to get my mom and they came out to build sandcastles with the kids for a bit before lunch. It was a short beach day, which is all our pale-skinned family can handle.

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By the way, he’s bounced back beautifully from his dental work. When we arrived and my dad asked him what happened to his teeth, he said, very matter-of-factly, “they were dead so the dentist had to pull them out.” I’m used to his new smile and I still think he’s adorable.

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I don’t have too many great pictures of Jonah and Maris together so far,  but even without capturing it on film, seeing the two of them having fun together is always one of my top highlights of these trips. They just enjoy each other’s company SO much. This afternoon we went downtown (where my sister lives) and took the kids out for ice cream and then played at their house for a bit before heading back to Gigi and Papa Doc’s house for dinner. It was barely raining, but Maris really wanted to use her umbrella, and I just snapped one photo of the two of them sharing it (they actually walked together under it for quite awhile).

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More to come in the next couple of days, I’m sure.

 

The pre-vacation scramble

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If we can keep everyone reasonably healthy, and ensure that neither of these mamas decides to deliver on her threat of “turning this car around” so to speak, we’re leaving on Friday to drive to Charleston, SC for spring break.

I generally enjoy our drives. Our kids are pretty good road trippers because they’ve all done the New York-to-Michigan round-trip a number of times in their short lives. Kristin and I listen to a lot of podcasts and music, Jonah watches movies, and all of the kids sleep a lot on the road. Michigan to Charleston is a few hours longer each way, however (15 hours total), and we’ve never driven before, and since the twins are two and in that stage of childhood where even a few months can change a kid dramatically, we’re not entirely sure how Jude and Vivi will feel about being on the road for that long. Our last major road trip was our move, and they were about 17 months old. We didn’t bother to rig up any sort of screen for them and they seemed to do fine without it. I had my doubts about that being the case this time around so I invested in a headrest mounted tablet holder that they can both see from their rear facing car seats (we have a DVD player in the minivan, but only Jonah is forward-facing so he’s the only one who can see it). They each picked out headphones (green for Jude, purple for Vivi) and hopefully it will keep them engaged for a number of hours.

Despite the fact that I’ve been looking forward to this vacation for some time, I’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety about it lately. This is probably due to a few things. First, whenever we travel as a family I do the majority of the planning and packing. Kristin is awesome as launch coordinator – she loads the car like a boss, takes out the trash and generally gets the house ready to be left for awhile, and she’s a great driver while we’re on the road. She tends to log way more driving hours than I do. But if I asked her to pack the kids or even weigh in on their outfits, she’d wait until midnight the night before shove-off to do it (which is when she packs her own things). So I end up packing myself and all three kids, which also includes any shopping that has to be done for the four of us. In this case a lot of shopping was involved, because none of the kids had much in the way of warm-weather clothing that fit.

A second contributor to my anxiety is that we’re having family pictures taken while we’re down there, so what we bring is actually somewhat consequential. And the third stress factor is that any vacation that involves staying with family isn’t always relaxing. See additional (hilarious) opinions here and here supporting that claim.

I’ve had actual nightmares about this trip for two nights in a row. The first night I dreamed that we were all going on a very long international flight, but for some reason Jonah and I were checking in separately from Kristin and the twins and we were going to have to meet up in the airport somewhere. Shortly after checking in I realized that I’d accidentally left everything that I’d intended to have in my carryon in my checked bag. I ran through the airport searching for my suitcase because I needed those things for the plane, and my phone was checked so I couldn’t find Kristin.

Last night I dreamed that I’d arrived at the setting for our family photos, only to realize that I was wearing shorts and some sort of undershirt, and that I hadn’t shaved my legs in weeks. I panicked and tried to rush home quickly to change my clothes and shave, but the photographer was already there and everyone was waiting and it was too late.

Obviously I’m holding onto some stress about planning for this trip and having everything go well. I have a packing checklist and three piles of clothes for the kids, but I need to actually narrow those items down and get them into bags, and then figure out what on earth I’m bringing and wearing in pictures, and just hope that Kristin has what she needs in a bag by the time we pull out of the driveway. As stressed as I am, I love Charleston and I love seeing the kids with their cousins, so I really am looking forward to this vacation. I hope to get some cute pictures of them in some new scenery, and hopefully have a lot of laughs with my family.