March 26, 2012

B is for Beach!

**This is B in the A-Z series**

So have you ever thought it would be fun to take your kids on a beach the Caribbean? Joe and I have done this just the two of us enough times now that we decided our kids would really, really love to go. Plus, we were thinking about having another baby and figured this past summer would be great because there was no way this hypothetical baby would be born yet and it would be possible to go. Nevermind that I got pregnant like 5 seconds after we decided to "try" and spent our vacation 26 weeks pregnant and either waddling around like a duck or doing my best impression of a beached whale. So, we convinced my mom and dad to accompany us on this trip, found an amazing little house to rent right.on.the.beach, booked our airfare, and not so patiently waited until it was time to go.

Well, July 2012 arrived pretty fast considering we booked our trip the previous November and we found ourselves setting off with Noah, Isabella, and the yet to be named baby girl still growing in my womb. The journey to Turks and Caicos was not without, ah, frustrations. Like on the way there when we had to spend the night in a hotel near the Miami airport. The hotel was disgusting, we didn't get there until midnight so the kids had long since turned into gremlins, and I felt that if I didn't get into a bed right then, I might kill someone (probably a kid). That will go down as one of the worst nights of my life. It took the kids until well after 2am, lots of tears, and a few shrill screams to actually fall asleep. I laid awake in the horribly uncomfortable bed until 4am, fell asleep for 2 hours, and got up at 6am. Really, it was so much fun...

But never you mind because the next day we were ready to get to our final destination. So we left Miami alive (but barely) and in less than good spirits, but determined to enjoy ourselves in Turks and Caicos. We arrived on the island of Providenciales later that afternoon and were picked up by my parents who had already arrived the previous day. By that point my ankles were the size of Texas, I'm pretty sure I had gained about 8 pounds in fluid, and my nerves were frayed. But hey, we were in paradise, so I was ready to turn it all around :).

As I mentioned earlier, we rented a private home that was right on the beach. Long Bay Beach to be specific. The home was perfect for all of us and I have to say that one of the highlights of the trip was seeing our children wake up each day and run down to the waterline in their pajamas to pick through flotsam and jetsom that had washed up overnight. Well, to see pictures of them doing this on my mom's camera anyway because I slept late just about every morning.

Most of our trip was spent just playing on the beach. The kids could spend hours playing in the surf and sand. Noah was the best to watch play at the beach. He's old enough to actually go in the water by himself as long as an adult is sitting and watching him, even though I told him not to go past his waist. The water was generally very calm and clear, so he would go out on his boogie board, goggles on, and dive for treasure. Frequently I would look up from the book I was reading to think in a moment of panic, "where is Noah!". Only to spot both of his feet sticking up from the water's surface, a testament to the treasure collecting happening on the sandy ocean floor. He spent most of his time at the beach in the water, head down, feet up. We came home with many bits of coral, shells, and various types of sea plant life. He lovingly added each one to his collection of ocean things which is not to be confused with rocks and fossils which is an entirely different collection.

One of the highlights of our trip was the company we got to keep. We were lucky enough to have my mom and dad come with us on this trip! The house we rented was more than big enough for all of us and having two extra adult pairs of hands on deck was invaluable with our kids. Well, one and a half extra hands anyway because I can't quite count my dad as two :). The kids sure loved all the time with their Mimi and Papu and I don't think the trip would have been nearly as fun without them!

We spent most of our time in paradise right in our own backyard, so to speak. Our house was on the island of Providenciales, Long Bay Beach. I think we were about 100 feet from the waterline so really, there wasn't much need to go many other places. However, we did visit two other beaches that were quite noteworthy. The first was the most popular and populated beach on the island. It's called Grace Bay Beach and most of the large hotels are built along this several mile long, white sand crescent of beach. The water is perfectly calm, like barely a ripple. And it is so clear that if you avoid getting the intensely salty water in your mouth, you can almost feel like you are in a swimming pool. The bottom is incredibly smooth and sandy. The kind of sand that you don't sink in but rather it feels like a soft, silky smooth slab of concrete that doesn't give when you walk around. For those who are more than a little afraid of sea life (like me), this lack of sinking inches into sand is comforting. For those that enjoy scouring beaches for shells, sea life, coral, and other such "nature".....this might not be the beach for you. Our kids loved it, although Noah found himself bored after an hour because there was nothing for him to find and examine, the sand is THAT clean. I think it was Bella's favorite beach however because she was perfectly comfortable in the sparkling, clear water with only her trusty little inflatable ring as her swimming companion (rather than being stuck to Joe like glue).

The other amazing beach we went to was only accessible by boat. It was called "Half Moon Cay" and was basically just a tiny island. We went on a catamaran cruise to this little island and had an absolute blast. The catamaran was owned by a company called Sail Provo. They did a good job with getting us there, entertaining us, having adequate food and drink, and bringing us back home. My mom, who to this day can't really swim, was more than a little stressed to have our two young children on a boat in the middle of the ocean, but they were oblivious to any potential danger and simply delighted in the adventure. In fact, they were both so brave that at times it gave me a little bit of my mom's apprehension! We had quite the round with little Bella when we stopped to snorkel and she threw a fit about having to wear a life jacket in the open ocean. She wanted to jump off the boat and into the water, free of any silly life saving devices. Now, she can swim, like a fish, but the though of her tiny 4 year old self in the great big ocean and without a life jacket was, understandably, too much for me. So we held firm and eventually she agreed to go in with her life jacket on. To placate her toward the end of our snorkeling stop, we allowed her to jump off one time into Joe's waiting arms, and jump she did :).

Our trip to Providenciales was amazing and I know we'll go back some day. It really is a good place to take children. The restaurants are almost all accomodating to little ones and the water is incredibly clear and generally calm. We loved swimming in the warm water, strolling the beaches with their sugary white sand, and generally just being together. I have lots of advice and restaurant recommendations. If you need any, just ask :). There were actually 2 pictures of me taken on this trip and both of them showed what my nearly 7 month pregnant self did on this trip....
A lot of sitting down, interspersed with dips in the ocean here and there to stay cool.

Oh, and one last thing. The sunsets are amazing!

March 24, 2012

New Look :)

So I've been terrible about blogging for the last....(gulp) year or so. I wanted to get back to updating on our little family but I needed a new look first. So I asked my super talented sister-in-law Lisa Campbell to give my blog a fresh new look. And didn't she do a fabulous job?! I just love it!

An awful lot has happened since my last post. Like a whole new set of New Year's resolutions, but that's probably the least of it. The biggest thing that has changed for us is our number. We've grown from a family of 4, to a family of 5. That's right, our kids are so amazing that we decided to procreate again. And we were blessed with our little Cora. She was born in September and is an absolute joy! See, here's our newest little nugget of love. Isn't she cute?

Cora eats, sleeps, poops, coos, babbles, and does all that other stuff babies like to do, only better in my eyes since I *am* her mother ;). Turns out she is a miserable sick person though and we're going to have to work on that with her.

Our other kiddos are just doing so great. Noah is in second grade this year and passing everything with flying colors. I'm so grateful he's such a whiz kid and school is easy for him! I hardly ever have to help him with his homework and most of the time only one or two death threats is enough to get him to sit down and do it (kidding!). You can hardly tell he has autism, especially if you stay away from any and all medical subjects, rock discussions, and science :). He's a quirky guy but he is making his way in this world just fine. You should see the amazing origami he can do, in fact, I'm gonna blog about just that one of these days. We sure have been enjoying him lately, especially since it turns out that Isabella may possibly be the spawn of a Tazmanian Devil.

Oh that little Bella, she is pretty stuck on being a stinker these days! Sure she behaves like a perfect, shy, quiet little debutant at any other house. But man, she sure does give Joe and me a run for our money! I have NEVER (and I do mean never) had to do so much bargaining, threatening, cajoling, begging, pleading, crying, or praying as I have to do with that child. Nevertheless, we adore our girl and I know that strong and stubborn spirit that plagues me will serve her very well someday. She can be sugar on a stick one minute and the Tazmanian Devil the next. We just never quite know what we're gonna get from one moment to the next.

Our little blessings have grown and changed a lot these last couple of years and every day they seem more grown up than the last. I finally had to tell Noah how babies are born when I was pregnant with Cora, and the old, "Mommy goes to the hospital and the doctor helps baby come out" answer just wasn't cutting the mustard anymore ("Yes mom, but HOW does the doctor get the baby out?"). His response at hearing the truth? "Cool mom, can I please come watch Cora be born". I decided that was a no, but maybe if we have a 4th kid :). Our Isabella, she wants to wear nail polish, make-up, dresses and sparkles. And she says things like, "When I'm a mom, I'm always going to let my kids eat oreos for breakfast". And she says it real sassy. Like someone else I know might have said those sorts of things when she was little. You'll have to ask my mom who that might be.

So our kids have grown and changed, we've lost loved ones like Grandma Ricks and Grandma Swindler, we've had amazing and wonderful times, we've cried and felt like we can't stand another day of life at times, we've been on top of the world, we've been kicked here and there, we've made friends and lost friends, we've loved our families without fail, seen some of them move away and break our hearts a little (ahem...Jones family), babies have been born, and life has been lived. I have lots of things to blog about and now I'm gonna have to play catch up. But isn't it a marvelous thing to relive life's best moments? I look forward to telling you about them.

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