So, when I last left off, we had welcomed Uncle Chris home and had lived every boy's dream by getting up close and personal with jets and helicopters and the BIG air craft carrier. That evening, brother John headed back home and my mom headed off to her annual lace convention. That left dad, Chris, & I to road trip home with the kids. First stop? Charleston, South Carolina. I have many fond memories of Charleston. I spent the first 3 out of my four years of high school in Charleston and was super excited that one of my besties, who moved away for college and never returned to live, was going to be back visiting her family, coincidentally, when we would be driving through! :)
Tracy and I met back on my very first day of high school (she was a year older) back in August of 1989 (which I am now realizing was a loooooooong time ago given that Patrick's teacher for this year was busy being BORN around that time!!). We had the instant bond of being military brats, brand new to a Catholic High School with a fairly affluent, Old Charleston population. We were best friends from the start... Our parents knew of each other, so after carpooling the first day, we found each other at lunch time so we wouldn't have to eat ALONE. ;). We navigated the typical joys of high school together and expanded our circle of friends over the years. Dealt with trying to seek independence while having over-protective parents (back then I would have called them overbearing and unreasonable, but perspectives oddly change as you get older and especially after you have kids of your own)... Mine more so than hers, although I suspect her mom secretly relished that mine was so tough because then she didn't have to be. ;). This has shown me, though, that it is super important to be friends with the parents of your kids' friends.
Our parents are still friends. In fact, the Allegas, were downright GIDDY at the thought that the six of us would crash at their house that was already being invaded by six others... Between us, we have 7 kids under the age of 10 (six kids under the age of 7)!! We were all really excited! I hadn't seen Tracy for 5 years. She and her hubby and then two boys were driving from South Bend, IN to Charleston and stopped over... The summer after her Daniel and our Ryan were born. She went on to have two more boys and we, our little Rose, but none of the kids really had any sort of memory of the event.
The kids instantly hit it off, though, thanks to a half dozen or so angry birds and a stuffed pumpkin (that Patrick carried from place to place on our road trip in his backpack). Need I say more than 6 boys and a bunch of angry birds? Well, other than it's a good thing the Allegas learned a long time ago to put away anything of real value before kids descend upon the house! ;). Although our stop over was limited to a brief 36 hours, we managed to squeeze lots in!
One of my biggest memories of Tracy & Lou's stop over in VA five years ago was seeing, first hand, that there does come a time when babies reach independence. Patrick was 2.5 at the time and Ryan was a colicky young soul...subsequently, John and I were quite bleary eyed and beyond exhausted. In walks T.J., who was 5 at the time, and he would self-entertain and sit quietly and color pictures, go to the bathroom by himself, have a little conversation with you... All very inspiring to exhausted parents...especially the one who is used to school aged kiddos. Well, T.J. amazed, yet again, during this visit. By dinner time, he had rallied the older three and sat them all down and orchestrated a game of Life (not the new and "improved" one, the one with the cover shot that looks like it is right out of the 70s). They actually played the whole game through, on their own, with not one fight! T.J. was in charge and the boys, mine in particular, were hanging on his every word. Of course, T.J. wound up winning and Ryan wound up with more promissory notes than I knew was humanly possible, but we didn't question since a good time was had by all!
Although I had been dreaming of doing a beach trip, the thought of rallying all the troops and preparing and then cleaning up afterward, wound up being too daunting. We decided just to take advantage of the pool next to the Allega's house instead where we could go back and forth in groups as meal time and nap time required...a definite must for Katy who was a bit out of whack at this point.
We did make a base run-- the one "MUST-do" on our list. I wanted to show the boys where I used to live and do some reminiscing. Although I knew the base closed over a decade ago and I had heard stories about base housing, our house included...
as well as the Admirals' beautiful old plantation houses...being "let-go", it was tough to see. Combine that with a trip downtown to see my old high school (I knew it had moved and that the old building had been sold to the College of Charleston and turned into a library) gone (I didn't realize that they tore the building down and rebuilt), and I have to admit I was really sad. I feel like there is a whole chapter in my life, a pretty important one at that, that is GONE! :(. I still LOVE Charleston, and always will, but I now feel a total disconnect with it that leaves a bittersweetness in my heart. I look forward to reconnecting with the city, though, and making new memories!
Our little families had such a great time together, that we are going to try to make this an annual tradition!! Next time, though, we are going to BYOB (bring your own BROWNIES) as the Weber's glutton free lifestyle was tough on my Happy Mealing type family! LOL! I thought good habits would rub off on my little friends...not so much. Although the boys dutifully tasted what was put on their plates, they opted out of most things sticking to kiddie friendly favorites of goldfish and grapes! ;). I, for one, was DYING... Lucky for me, we "got out.". The second night we left the kids with the grandparents and all (Tracy's grown-up brother, too, who lives in Charleston) went out for drinks. I found out that Tracy still has a sweet-tooth and is just "closeted" about it! So, we ordered a piece of Snicker's Pie at the bar. And, although, it was a freezer burned piece of pie that would make Gordon Ramsey keel over, it hit the spot (anything washed down with a margarita is going to hit the spot, no?). And, really, could we complain? Who goes to a bar for pie? That thing had probably been in the freezer since the dawn of time!
As we said our goodbyes and hopped into the car for the final leg of our journey, Uncle Chris and grandpa surprised us with a quick stop at the U.S.S. Yorktown in Patriot's Point for a HELICOPTER ride!! I mean, REALLY??! They stayed with the little Rose and sent me up with the boys... A good thing, I figured, since I didn't have time to let John know what we were doing...if we crashed and burned, I'd go down, too, so he really couldn't be THAT mad at me, right?? ;). What an AWESOME experience (I'd never been in a helicopter before, either!) and to share it with them and to be there to listen to the boys talk to each other through the headsets was truly priceless!
All in all, I feel so blessed to have had the summer that we did! There is NOTHING like the unstructured time with my little friends unburdened by a structured schedule and filled with the ability to do whatever we wanted whenever... Including staying in our P.J.s all day if that's what we chose to do! And, yes, I do think there is a certain side of each of us that is ready for the structure and routine of school life again, even if it creates a whirlwind of activity and work that never seems to end. But it makes me happy to know that the boys are all rested, yet will have sooooooo many things to share when asked, "What did you do this summer?" even if one of them (guess which!) will succinctly answer, "I don't remember!" (UPDATE: I now know that one will be writing about his summer in his baseline writing prompt... that bad boy better be the BEST prompt I've ever seen!)
|Off to the park!|
|Tracy experiences the beauty of a rose! :)|
|TJ is enterained as Ryan proudly shares his debt!|
|6 boys, a Rose, and some Angry Birds|
|My Littlest Brother|
|I'm gonna kick that football to the MOON!|
|A visit to St. John's - Where C did Kindergarten!|
|Ryan is paternal wherever we go!|
|Ferb, I know what we're going to do today!|
|What do you mean I'm not going?|
|My sweet, squishy-faced friend!|
|I'd wanted a good pic of the new Cooper River Bridge!|
|Patrick gets the front seat!|
|Cooper River Bridge|
|Cooper River Bridge, AGAIN!|
|Our Welcoming Committee|
|Was that COOL or what?!|
|Their off to refuel|
|Mommy's favorite car activity for K!|
|P's Favorite Car Activity|
|Ryan, all biz, dot-to-dotting|
|Katy, keeping a journal! ;)|
|Ryan, practicing his Kinder-app|
|Mexican? Not McD's??!|
|Katy meets salsa|
|Katy LOVES her some salsa...|
|And a quesadilla... good thing I have ONE eater!|
|Mommy's car entertainment!|
|A mommy and her rose|
|Someone's just a BIT tired!|
<3 Kimberly, John, Two boys, & a Little Rose
|Flying off for our next adventure!|
|Could it BE any sweeter?|