That would be the Walker and Patel boys! We had a blast at Panama City Beach last week. We kept joking with Caleb and Stephenie that it was a lot different than when we went to the beach with them WITHOUT the boys a few years ago! We weren't digging for pirate treasure and constantly counting to make sure we had all four boys back then!
For the second Walker-Patel beach trip, we stayed at a great house just a couple of blocks from the shore and walked to the beach almost every morning. We worked out quite a system: Pile all 4 boys into the bike trailer driven by Caleb. Sandy rode his bike, too. Steph and I brought a beach bag or two and rolled the cooler. I think once, we pulled a couple of boys in the red wagon.
The boys loved the beach and spent most of their time playing in the sand. We had the beach to ourselves most days, because we were on the private part of the beach and went in the morning. We were really surprised when Finn started burying himself and then wanted us to help. We buried him all the way up to his neck!! Then he broke out like a monster ;) Connery sat inside the hole and let us cover him almost completely, too, but Kieran didn’t like the idea for himself. (I wish I had bet on that...I could have made some money.) They also made “chocolate milk” with the sand and water, buried sticks they found around and dug lots of holes.
One day, we noticed a seaweed X on the sand! And you know what that means…treasure! (Great idea, Steph!) The boys didn’t quite catch on immediately; they wanted to bury the X. But we reminded them that pirates mark their treasure with X’s and they started yelling, “Let’s dig up the treasure!” Who knew that pirates used Gladware and liked lollipops, peanuts and Mardi Gras beads?! The boys were convinced that a far off crane was the mast of a pirate ship, so those pirates must have buried the treasure!
The first day at the beach was perfect. The water was clear, and the sky was just overcast enough so the sun wasn’t blaring. It seemed that the second day would be the same, but as Steph and I were swimming around, we noticed JELLYFISH! A couple of kids nearby started catching them and putting them into big buckets, so we got to see them up close! What a great biology lesson, huh? The boys were fascinated, even if we were a little scared about getting stung accidentally.
The next day, the water was full of light green seaweed, if that’s even what you call it. It was pretty disgusting, so we didn’t spend any time in the water that day either.
Thursday was the best beach day of all! The beach was empty again, and the water was so clear that we could see the fish perfectly!! (Kieran told me the fish were “at school” in the water, learning to “jump in the water by them-thay-lves.”) The highlight was when the sea turtle swam along the shoreline! No joke!! A real sea turtle! None of us had ever seen one for real before, so we followed it down the beach for about 50 feet. It was really pretty. Kieran tells everybody it was "Crush" from Finding Nemo.
Every day, we stayed at the beach for a couple of hours, then piled back onto the bikes to ride back home. At the beach house we stripped the boys down and showered them on the back patio, toweled them off and put them on the stools on the kitchen island for “naked lunch.” It became a daily occurrence and was always cute to see the boys sit completely naked, with no shame. Then upstairs for baths and naps.
At home, the boys spent a lot of time chasing each other, playing with toys, fighting over the toys, watching cartoons, saying “potty words” and going to time out for saying them. (Kieran's words of choice were "cootie" and "pootie" and Finn preferred "poopie butt." Ah, three year olds.) Laura Beth and her boyfriend Tyler were great at wrestling around with them to wear them out before bedtime and draw on the MagnaDoodles.
Laura Beth and Tyler were "on duty" most evenings, when we parents got some date nights! Monday night, we double dated at Reggae J's, but we must be getting older, because we drove around he neighborhood just to give LB and T time to get the boys in bed. The next night, Sandy and I took a walk along the beach and went to listen to some live music at Calypso. Caleb and Steph ate at the Bier Garden and stayed out late...11 o'clock, I think!
We met some pirates at the Treasure Ship restaurant on Wednesday, where the food was just okay. Well, actually, Amy’s shrimp wasn’t even done. But the pirate was funny and made the boys some balloon parrots, dogs and, of course, Kieran wanted a horse. Then we walked around on the dock, and I didn’t think we could get Eli to leave!
The next day's pirate adventure was the best ever!! We booked a pirate cruise, captained by Fearless Phil, with pirates Summer and Billy Bones! [The boys wore their airbrushed Pirate Pal shirts, so they fit right in.] During our "two hour tour" the kids had a water battle with another boat, swabbed the deck, got their faces painted, got into sword fights, got tattooed (Connery did anyway, and the other boys got theirs the next day), and watched everyone else do the limbo and chicken dance (I guess our boys are too cool for that), watched dolphins (!) and helped pull a treasure chest up out of the water! I want the ship's soundtrack now--Jimmy Buffett, Bob Marley ("Three Little Birds"--Finn's song!), even "Three is the Magic Number" when the kids got to pick three things from the treasure chest. And nobody got sea sick! Yay! (Steph and I were a little worried about that. But I only had to watch the horizon once or twice.) That night we had dinner at HammerHead Fred's under the pirate flag, of course.
Friday was our last day, sadly. We walked to the beach one last time and played in the water--clear of seaweed and jellyfish this time. Sandy and Amy took turns floating in a raft. Sandy capsized at least once, and Amy came close! Eli fell asleep on a walk with Caleb, which was so sweet...and VERY Eli. He's such a cuddler. Then we found a crab! A dead one, but that may have been better anyway, because the boys got to see it up close and touch it. Kieran says it felt like a "tree." Finn wanted to bury it, so we had a very unceremonial funeral. Cover it in sand and run away to play in a huge hole that Laura Beth and Tyler dug! All four boys fit inside it! And while the boys played inside, LB and T dug another hole that was so deep, Connery and Eli stood in it, and only their heads were above ground! The pirates left us one last treasure chest with more lollipops and some skull and crossbone bracelets. We heard thunder and saw some far off lightning, so we packed up to go back to the beach house for our outside shower, naked lunch, bath, naptime routine.
After naps, we went to see Wall-E! It was very cute...at least the first 30-45 minutes of it was. I didn't get to see the rest, because Connery got too restless. So he and I wandered the hallway, looked at all the movie posters several times and signed the animals we saw on them. When the rest of the gang came out after the movie, we played in the arcade for a while, then walked along the strip, playing in the grass and trying to find something to eat. We tried for Red Brick Pizza, but the line was WAY too long, so we sat outside at the Bier Garden, a great German restaurant which had a polka band--Polka-Haunt-Us! The band was inside, which worked well for us, because they were LOUD! Finn and Connery and I polka'd around, and the adults got a kick out of the German version of the Devil Went Down to Georgia--he Devil battles it out with on the accordion ;) The boys were WILD that night. Throughout the week, we enjoyed moments where they all behaved, but much of the time, it was more like three behaving and one getting in trouble. For our "Last Supper" those odds were reversed! We laughed about it (to keep from screaming, I guess) and said that if all nights had been like that, we wouldn't have survived. Steph and I had to take three of the boys out to the front for some bratwurst samples, ring-around-the-rosie and flower picking (thankfully, security never saw). We survived dinner, and Laura Beth and Tyler came by to get take the Walker boys on a walk (hehe). We met up with them and the boys played in the sand until the moment we had avoided all week...sand in the eye. It didn't take long to get it out, and we headed back to the beach house to get all our stuff packed up and the boys in bed.
The next morning, we cleaned the house and squeezed in a few minutes of one-on-one time with each boy. Long goodbyes, high fives, hugs and kisses and we were gone. We weren't even out of the neighborhood before Kieran said he wanted to go back to the beach house.
Instead of heading home, we drove a couple of hours to see "the cousins"! We hadn't seen Ryan, Eleana, Serena or Kirti and Scott in over a year!! Far too long! And the kids have grown fast in that time. Ryan is taller than all of us, and Serena is taller than Eleana now! We ate at their favorite pizza place (yummy!), played Guitar Hero, picked blueberries (Connery's new favorite) and of course, kicked the soccer ball around. Eleana shared some soccer skills with Kieran while Connery tried to keep away from their dog Moody. Then we made homemade salsa and grilled out while the kids played with lots of blocks and little toys. Ryan's girlfriend Kaitlyn came over (such a sweet girl) and the "kids" picnicked in the living room. After a trip for ice cream (more got on Connery's clothes than in his mouth) and a visit to the video game store, we were ready to get in our pajamas. The next morning, Scott made lots of different kinds of pancakes--plain, chocolate chip, banana and blueberry! I had to fight back tears saying goodbye to everyone, but we plan to go back for Labor Day to have a birthday party for Kirti, and go to Ryan's football game and Eleana and Serena's soccer games. We have never seen the kids play, so I'm excited about it.
On the way home, it rained off and on, and Sandy taught Kieran "Rain, rain, go away, come and play another day"...which worked!! I wish I had video taped it, because right after Kieran sang it a few times, it almost miraculously stopped raining. A little bizarre...but now Kieran thinks he has the power to stop it from raining. During one rainstorm, though, a nearby car splashed a huge flood of water on us, and pulled our front bumper OFF!! (It had been damaged in an earlier "incident" this year, but we thought we had fixed it.) We noticed that the engine seemed loud, but when Sandy pulled over, he saw that the bumper was dragging the ground. So--in the rain, bless his heart--he pulled it off and put it on top of all our stuff in the back of the van. We had to stop a few more times to tie up various things that dragged without the bumper in place, and we drove slower just in case. Finally we made it home to unpack...
and try to get the sand out of everything!
Still working on that ;)
I've posted pictures to the Picasa site, but they don't have captions yet. If you check it in a couple of days, it should be complete. http://picasaweb.google.com/amysandy/Panamacitybeach08