We arrived at Mom and Jim's at around 11 PM. It then took us another two hours to get the children settled in to bed. Each and every morning, for the duration of our trip, the same exact scene would unfold. The kids would run in to wake up my mother and Jim. Then, they would dote over Jim while my mother would prick his finger for his daily diabetic blood sugar test.
Poor Jim wasn't quite sure what to do with all this attention.
After the daily blood test - came breakfast. And then, each and every day - we would head out to go swimming. For the first day or so, Carolyn and William were content hanging out on the steps. But in no time flat, all three of them were able to swim back and forth across the pool with ease.
Swimming lessons are a great investment. But much like the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in a foreign country - the best way to learn to swim is to spend time every day in a pool.
One afternoon, we visited my Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill at their home in the country. Within a five-mile radius of my Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill's house - you can find four of their five children (my cousins), Margaret, Lisa, George and Bill. And almost all of their children.
This homestead with the huge sprawling fields is a paradise for little kids. Especially now that Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill have so many grandchildren running about, that they are literally dropping from the trees.
Since I spent so much of my childhood roaming their property, whenever I come back, it feels like I'm returning home. I absolutely love this space on earth. While we were there, we were treated to an afternoon downpour. Our children were so intrigued by all of this ... rain ... that they just pulled up a chair and watched it fall.
And then, once it stopped, they ran outside and had the most fun of their entire lives - splashing in massive puddles with their cousins.
Here's a shot of William, who was jumping in puddles while screaming, "YAHOO!! I LOVE IT HERE!!"
Then everyone was called inside, partially soaked, and sat down to enjoy one of Aunt Grace's famous dinners. The children had their own table - and the adults had one that was regally set with exquisite china and crystal - which is an Aunt Grace trademark.
After dinner, there was cake.
Chocolate, of course.
And we ate it all.
The rest of the evening was spent with Charlie talking to Uncle Bill about us building a home in the country, while I was pinned nursing a totally nude Henry who was covered in chocolate cake.
The next day came around and let's see ... what did we do?
Oh yes. We went to the swimming pool with Jim and his son, Kimball. Who I like to believe is named after Kimball Farm in Massachusetts. (But he's not.)
Have I mentioned how much the kids enjoyed swimming?
What made it particularly awesome was that Kimball's two children, Emily and Jake, came over to visit and they spent the entire time helping the children expand their comfort level in the pool. It caught me by surprise that my young son was so receptive to being let go in the middle of the pool and swimming to the wall. Considering when I tried to coax him to swim from me to the wall, he hung to my neck and screamed until he was blue. I guess there's just something so natural about learning new skills from kids who are a little bit older.
Our kids were having the absolute time of their lives.
There were new kids to play with everywhere they looked.
And fortunately, the feeling of friendship was reciprocated.
But jet lag has a way of catching up with the best of us.
Although Charlie and I had packed clothes to wear to my 20-year high school reunion, neither of us were particularly pleased with the outfits that we had lugged cross-country. So one day I went shopping with my mother. And once I bought a new outfit, it was obvious that Charlie would need one, too. Unless I wanted to wear a sleek black dress and strappy heals while my husband wore khaki cargo pants and hiking shoes.
On my mother's advice, we headed to Stein Mart. Which, in all honesty, I was a little skeptical over, initially. But wow, this is a great store!
We arrived at 8:40 on a Friday night and had a mere 20 minutes to pick out a new outfit for my husband. Which would include: pants, shirt, belt, tie, socks, shoes. The store contained so many nice items - and a helpful staff - that not only did we have time to pick out a dapper outfit for Charlie before the store closed, but we also had enough time to check out the designer sunglasses on display.
Hey Baby. What's happening?
Notice these shades have bifocals.
This is for the sleek individual who needs a little magnification to read.
"Hiya. I'm Chip. I like to play tennis and drink cappuccinos while driving my convertible Porsche with one hand."
I can't tell if he looks more like a Las Vegas gambler ...
Or a 70's porn star?
Decked out in our new threads - of which I do not have a picture - we went to my reunion on Saturday night. Funny enough, I had a huge zit break out the day of the reunion and was a bundle of nerves walking in to the event.
I'm now at an age, where biologically, I could have CHILDREN that are graduating from high school. I still fall victim to teenage anxiety?!
Apparently, I wasn't the only one. It cracked me up when our class valedictorian confided to me that he had gone straight to a bar - with our class salutatorian - to have a drink before they walked in to the reunion. So with a glass of wine in one hand - and my husband's hand in the other - I ventured in to the venue. And instantly, I saw so many of my old friends it was like we had just parted.
Here I am with my good friend, Sally. Who, coincidentally, was wed on the exact same day - as Charlie and I. I'm still slightly amazed that she married a guy who was one of our very close friends all through high school and was someone that she had never dated (at least not that I knew of!) until after graduation. It's very cool to see the two of them together.
And here I am with my pal, Sarah. Who, coincidentally, gave birth to a little boy two days before I gave birth to our trio. Sally, Sarah and I would eat lunch together every single day. We once went on a ski trip together - with Jody (the man that Sally would later marry) - and we had such a blast. Even when Sally skied head first in to a snow blower. And I was pulled over and issued a warning for speeding. They like to remind me how I discreetly told the police officer that his fly was down.
(Which it was. And wouldn't YOU want to know?!)
Doesn't she look like Meryl Streep?
This was the one and only picture that I, personally, took. It's rotten, I know. I can hardly make out who the people are, but the fact is - I was having so much fun mingling with long lost school mates, that I didn't want to distract from the night by fiddling with camera settings. (Which really wouldn't have done me a whole lot of good anyway, because 9 out of 1o times, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.)
Charlie and I cut out relatively early (my friend, Eva, who dropped by the next morning told me that she was out eating waffles until 4 AM) and arrived home just past midnight. Little did we know, that our precious children - who were sound asleep on the floor - had been up just a few minutes prior, watching Flipper.
My mother, who was on her own with four small children and Jim, wisely decided that it would be a whole lot more fun (not to mention, a whole lot easier) to let the kids stay up and watch movies until they fall asleep rather than try to get them in to bed at a reasonable hour.
We had now been in South Carolina for five days and the kids were without a doubt, having just as good of a time - if not more so - than us. Minus the mosquitoes, our vacation was great.
But it was about to get even better.
... to be continued ...