Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Our Giant Beach Vacation!

Our beach vacation has come and gone and I will absolutely never EVER forget it. I had to pinch myself on more than one occasion during this trip to make sure that I was really getting to do this...a giant beach house with my best friends in the whole world and my precious family. The girls and I mentioned to each other that we wonder if our boys have any idea how lucky they are...getting to take these amazing trips with all their buddies in tow. It still amazes me that I have this big group of girlfriends to share the journey of motherhood with, that our husbands all turned out to be great friends, that our children are best friends and that we all have each other. This trip would seem overwhelming on paper...18 adults and 18 young children sharing one house. Yet it wasn't too much to handle because we all know each others children and help each other always. I knew that there were lots of eyes on Colin and that he was safe...if it really "takes a village", then we are the perfect one! And we literally were a village! SO many people!

We decided to leave on Thursday and spend the night in a hotel halfway to Surfside. The 6 hour drive was do-able in one day, but we were ready to get out of town and wanted to extend our adventure. We also wanted Colin to be as rested as possible upon arrival at the beach house. Jer's hotel points paid for our stay in the metropolis of Buffalo, TX. It was a hole in the wall, but the new hotel had an indoor pool, which Colin thought was amazing. He thought it was the coolest thing getting to stay in that hotel! On the way down, we stopped in Corsicana at the Collin Street Bakery. We used to eat there all the time when I was was on our way to my grandparents house in Arkansas and we also stopped there during family trips to Galveston in the summers and then to see my sisters at Texas A&M. I have a lot of memories there and having Colin there with me was so special. It took my breath away when I saw him walking around picking out cookies just like I used to do.

On Friday morning, we hit the road for Surfside Beach. It is about 40 miles south of Galveston and the drive was no problem. The beach house turned out to be perfect for our big group with enough bedrooms for each family to have their own and plenty of bathrooms, too. The beach was totally private to the homes there and the view was spectacular. We were all blown away by how perfect everything turned out, especially considering that none of us had ever been there and only seen pictures online. We all managed to arrive within minutes of each other and the boys all ran straight out onto the beach. We spent that first evening on the beach with each other and then ordered pizzas for dinner. The best part of the trip were the nights. After we all put the kiddos to bed (which went surprisingly easy!), we got to park ourselves out on the huge deck, drinking boat drinks and laughing hysterically. The sound of the waves crashing below while the lights of all the beach houses twinkled merrily around us...the faint sounds of music lofting from the other decks...the feel of the wind in my hair...the sounds of all my best friends laughing and was all amazing. I was there with the love of my life, my precious boy and my best friends. Perfection!

Colin's pirate party was absolutely adorable and all four of us went crazy with decorations and pirate gifts. Kayrene got the boys hats, pj's and personalized shirts and Kim made pajama pants with matching pirate shirts. They were the cutest group of boys you have ever seen! I was very impressed that Colin did not get under the table when everyone sang "Happy Birthday". It was a miracle! We grilled burgers and hot dogs and then everyone went back down to the beach before bedtime. It could not have gone better and I certainly don't know how we will ever top a pirate party on an actual beach. Good lord, this is one lucky boy!

Colin has a new anxiety as of late, which is a serious fear of getting a sunburn. He overheard my family talking about a bad sunburn that my nephew got and ever since then, he is terrified that he will get one. Despite literally saturating him in sunblock, he still stand frozen at the door, chanting that he doesn't have enough on and he will burn. We found that we can calm him down if he wears a swim shirt, but yours truly forgot to pack it. Needless to say, we had some tough moments over that one. Saturday afternoon was a beast, but he doesn't stress about late afternoons, so we had some great evenings on the beach. On Sunday, we planned ahead and took him to the local aquarium that had a touch tank while the other kiddos swam. Colin LOVED getting to touch all the sea creatures and it worked out great. When we got back to the house, several of the dads had taken the other boys on the same trip, so Colin got to spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out with the moms and babies, playing assorted games that involved making Lindsey order pizza over and over while he delivered it. :-) He loves hanging out with the grown-ups, so the day was just up his alley. At one point, he asked Lindsey very seriously, "What can I get you?" and after she ordered her pizza, he looked at her baby boy Nolan and asked, "And how about for the little guy?". It was hilarious. Sunday night was another amazing evening with our friends that included a genius game of "glow stick golf" that our friend Nathan came up with. His family has been playing it for years and he brought glow sticks for everyone, as well as glowing circles that he set up as the tee boxes all along the beach. He tied cords to each glow stick and we wrote our names on them. We broke off into teams and took turns throwing our sticks to the tee. It was so much fun and the sight of all the glow sticks swinging around in the air up and down the beach was seriously awesome. It was a night that I won't soon forget! The only real drama of the trip came that last night when the air conditioning went out upstairs, where all but 2 of the families were sleeping. We noticed it when we got back from golfing and it quickly turned into a sauna up there. We were all worried about the kids waking up and where we would put them. Jer and I stripped the comforter off the bed and thankfully we had a ceiling fan that we turned up to high. We slept there with Colin and miraculously, he never woke up. The air started working again in the wee hours of the morning, so we managed to get more comfortable and catch a few hours of real sleep. We were happy to get up on Monday morning and head back to our own beds and crazy pets, but we were sad that the weekend was over so fast. It was so much fun and I absolutely can't wait for the next one! We have started going somewhere twice a year as a group and we talked about putting picture books together for each year and collecting them...won't these be amazing memories to look back on?! I love it! Here are just a few of the hundreds of pictures.
All the kiddos! (Well, almost...babies Ruthie and Nolan are not in this shot) Can you believe that we managed that group?! :-) The families on the trip were the Janaks, Turners, Sheltons, Roberts, McGeheartys, Cederwalls, Parkers, Snopeks and, of course, the Shaffers! :-)

Our four pirates, Ryan, Colin, Hayden and Jack! The birthday boys in their matching garb...ahoy, matey! I love this picture more than anything!

Helping Colin and Jack open presents

The view of our house from the driveway...ours is the first one on the right.

The night view from our balcony!

Colin and Annelie enjoy the beach!

Sitting with two of my favorite girls, Kimberly and Ruthie!

On the beach with Carrie!

Colin striking a pose...Bryan took most of these pictures and they are SO cute!

I mean, cute is this boy?!?!

Colin's first time in the ocean...walking with Daddy!

My little beach bum! He loved playing in the sand and digging for shells and crabs.

Kim's super awesome picture of glow stick golf! I LOVE THIS!

Just a wonderful vacation!

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