HOME. After 2500+ miles on the road, crossing the Mississippi 9 times (don't ask....), and taking a gazillion pictures of our adventures over the past 5 weeks, we are h.o.m.e.
I have so much to do.
But rather than unpack, grocery shop (all I have is milk!), sort through the gazillion photos, I sit here in my happy place. Pjs, messy hair, sleep in my eye, BIG cup of my beloved Keurig coffee, trolling through my favorite blogs. Feels like I am catching up with old friends.
Sissy & Brody are zoned out in front of the TV and Bubba is riding his riding toys all over the downstairs. Bumping into walls but happy as can be.
Breakfast? Who needs breakfast?
I had the best night sleep in my California King, 400+ thread count sheets, 2 pilliows.....ahhhh.
Had one of the best vacations EVER.
We are home.
And there is nothing like it.
So much to tell you guys, but it will trickle out slowly as routine begins to come back into the Darling household.
Might take awhile.
In the meantime, enjoy one of my fav pics from the gazillion I have on my camera (yes, I know I am missing a child in this pic - ever tried taking a 2 year old to a wedding during his nap time? me neither. )
While in Florida, 4 people went on a hunt for an alligator.....
So they took a little ride on an airboat, appropriately named "Swamp Thang"....
and wore some pretty cool "protective" clothing......
And off they headed into the swamp.
"Keep your eyes out for some gators! They are out there!"
See any yet???
still no gators....
but pretty marshland to go through.
so, halfway through our hunt, our "cruise director" hops out of the boat and starts digging.
what's he going to show us?
a fiddleback crab!
and yes, he was made with one big pincher and one tiny one.
When you pull up to the beach, the ground is covered with hundreds of these guys. But they quickly burrow into the sand if you get too close.
He also found a shell with a big tail that he sucked in real quick.
My 8 year old was not impressed.
"where's the gators mom?"
On to hunt for more gators. Think we will find any?
nope - but we got this great family pic!
and here's the closest we got to finding one......
Yes! We found one. So what if he was a baby named "Captain Crunch" and he was there for the tourists to hold, Brody was happy!
In fact, we had a fantastic time on the airboat tour, despite not finding much wildlife. Our boat driver showed us all kinds of interesting plants, animals, and showed us the effects from Hurricane Katrina. He was a former pilot who does tours for fun, so he did tons of fun tricks, like 360's and riding over the grassy swampland.
As for the gators, the last time one was seen on a trip had been in September. boo. Oh well, it was a fun experience!
fyi - if you are currently reading the Harry Potter Series for the first time (or will some day), don't read this post - it may contain a spoiler or two.
"Do you think anyone in the world hasn't heard about Harry Potter, Mom?"
My daughter asked me this today - made me laugh - and then think - "Doubtful, but I bet your Great Grandma Beck hasn't!"
Today the very last movie of the 8-part Harry Potter movie series came out and the world is abuzz with Harry. I'm guessing that most of the world is talking about (or at least hearing about) Harry Potter today.
In 2000, I was given a gift of the first 3 Harry Potter books. My Sister-in-Law promised me that I would "love them" but I was very doubtful. After all, I was an adult, I didn't read children's books.
I finished them in a week. I couldn't put them down. From then on out, I had the latest Harry Potter book in my hand the week it came out.
You know when a book captures you so much that you lose all sense of time and "fall into them"? Kinda like a pensive (HP fans - get that one?), I became a part of the story. I rooted for Harry & Ron & Hermonie in the early books and got very mad at Harry around book 4 or 5 when he started to get all teenagery & moody. I remember the moment I "thought" Harry died and exactly how devastated I was when Dumbledore did in fact die. And I remember going into a tiny bit of depression when I finished the last book and knew that I would not "see" my friends ever again.
And now, as a mom, I am going through all the fun of reading the books with my kids. When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she poured through the first 5 books in a matter of weeks. And this summer, we started reading them aloud - it has become a great thing to do on the road.
The movies have been good, but I find myself sad that not all of the wonderful details of the books are included - I get it - the movies have to be condensed - but i only hope that most people will take the time to read them too, so they don't miss the whole story.
3 weeks ago, we begun a countdown movie marathon with Aunt Meghan before we go and see the final movie. This weekend, we hope to finish them and see the movie early next week. Being the "sensible" mom, I wanted to avoid all the crazy fun of the midnight showing last night. Who am I kidding? I totally wanted to go!!
Many speak of a chapter closing once this final movie is out - I say no. With 8 movies that kids will watch over & over, a huge theme park devoted to the phenomena, video games, toys, and more, Harry Potter will not be a fad culture. As long as we continue to encourage the next generations to read the series, Harry Potter will forever fascinate and entertain.
But lately, some things that have been happening on it have made me a little jaded.
It was so cool 2-3 years ago when everyone started using Facebook. I had so much fun reconnecting with old high school friends. Seeing that the really hot Senior (think Jake from Breakfast Club) is balding & uhem...larger now. Or that the girl who had it so perfect in college has been divorced 3 times and has 6 kids. Or seeing that the guy you predicted was going to become a rocket scientist in your yearbook, actually did become a rocket scientist. Yeppers - fun.
And it was really cool to see that twice-removed cousin and his 2nd wife and 4 kids are at Disney World right now. Or that former co-worker from 3 jobs ago (what was the name of that company?) ate sushi in NYC for dinner. How about that your boss's wife is getting a facial in preparation for a trip to Spain? Or that your neighbor down the street just stubbed their big toe?
All VERY important things to know.
Even better....I love the amigious status updates like...
"I can't wait for tomorrow!!"
why....come on tell me...I am dying to find out!
"Some people just don't know when to keep their mouth shut!"
Spill it sister, what did they say??
or my favorite:
cause that tells me a lot.
I guess it's better than the constant complainers, "It's so HOT!" "I hate my job!!" "I am sick of......" I don't like to hear you complaining in person, why do I want to read about it.....
At first it was fun to see that so&so's kid's made the honor roll or scored a goal at a game or got commended on the TAKS test - we are all so very proud of our kids and just want to brag..... (I do this as well) but when they start looking like this, they are getting out of hand...
"Today, Daughter X, did a front flip while holding an egg on a spoon and reciting the Declaration of Independence in less than 30 seconds!!!!!"
It's as if we are trying to outdo one another - who has the BEST child out there???
But the worst lately are the check-ins. I don't need to know that you went to the HEB (for lemons), then Starbucks (for a Chai latte), then the post office (for stamps..duh!), then to Marshall's (to return some shoes).....seriously. I. don't. care.
Many like to check in at places all together when they do stuff - I guess to show they have a social life, so the rest of us at home can feel like losers? Cause they weren't out at the nightclub too? I totally used to do this...until I saw the implications first hand (and that was some ugly drama).
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate The Facebook. I look at Facebook multiple times a day. I still post updates. Especially if my kids do something quirky or funny. I still post pics of the Bubba bear all the time - someone out there likes them cause I get comments on them. And if I am "checkin in" it's cause I'm at a unique place...with my family...
Facebook isn't bad - it's just stating to make me laugh. It's like everyone tries to "out-do" everyone else in real life already, now we have a social medium to do it on too? It just gets to be too much.
and I'm movin on....some really cool chicks from Oklahoma taught me all about the Twitter - there's no bragging going on over there.....
It has been over 2 weeks since we have been at the beach and it has taken me so long to get pictures up on the blog. I must be going through some kind of beach-withdrawl that kept me from blogging about our trip.
It was fantastic. Really, fantastic. We played all day at the beach with the kids and it was great. I am so happy that we chose to spend a week in Florida. Here's just a snippet of the memories I took home with me:
Spending multiple days building monstrous sandcastles....
watching my 2-year old take in all the sights and sounds the beach offers
the squeals of the kids playing in the surf
seeing those sandcastles get knocked down by bubba
watching my 2 year old walk hand-in-hand down the beach with my 10 year old
getting knocked over and over by the powerful blue waters
the everlasting smiles from my normally-not-smiling 8 year old
the smell of the salt in the air
the feel of the sun on my back & the cool breeze through my hair
These are the memories I want to permanently keep in my mind. It was an incredible vacation and it won't be forgotten.
Happy Saturday! I was up super early this morning, as the sun comes up at the crazy time of 5 am in Illinois (what?????) and after 2 weeks of it, I can't sleep in past 6:30. UGH. So, 2 super big cups of coffee, one episode of Private Practice on the 'puter, breakfast made, and 30 minutes of iPhoto editing later.......
it's only 8:34.
did I mention it's Saturday?
So let's focus on Happy, shall we?
Mamarazzi over at Dandelion Wishes hosts a weekly Happy List that will easily sum up some of the fun we have had this past week while visiting family up in the Midwest:
Like eating GIANT pancakes
Watching how one yummy doughnut can turn a grumpy morning boy into a sweet thing (no pun intended).
Riding an indoor ferris wheel
and swimming every day in Grandma & PaPa's backyard.
As much as we miss Texas (been gone for 3 weeks now), we have truly relaxed while in Illinois. We have read books, played games, taken long walks, eaten way too much food (which just means I have to run MORE), and taken time to breathe with little responsibility.
We are so relaxed that Brody has let his guard down and had some really fun conversations with me - yes, we talked about how gold is discovered, shark attacks, and geo caching, but I'll take it. It was a really fun day with him.
And one more thing to add to my Happy List, R We There Yet Mom? was featured on 2 sites this week!! Suitcases & Sippycups featured our trip to Chicago last summer - Jessica has a fun blog showcasing her family travels - she takes awesome pictures too, so you can't help but be fascinated with what she & her family is up to. Check her out!
Man, it's only the beginning of June and we have already had SEVERAL days in the 100's. Yikes! It is going to be a HOT HOT HOT summer.
Good thing we have a brand new splash pad that just opened up.......
Bubba loved the Splash pad last summer, so as soon as this one, aptly named the Quarry, opened, we jumped on it. Slightly different than most in the area, this one has "rocks" that spray water, a big covered sand pit, and a cute little "rock" slide.
Brody (not his real name, but we'll use it here) is my middle child. He is 8 and his brain has gone to mush. Literally. Do any of you have 8 year old boys? Do you know what I am talking about? You know, when you have to yell at them ask them 15 TIMES (no lie) to feed the dog. Or tell them to go and get your hat from your bedroom, only to have them come downstairs 10 minutes later and tell you, "Um, I forgot what you wanted me to get?" "Mom, what's today?" and "Mom, where are we going again?" are questions I get daily.
But my goodness I love this kid.
He is so very curious. He loves to figure out the how's and why's of things. How did the water get up in that tower? Why did they make a stamp that has an upside down airplane? What does L.E.D. stand for mom (seriously, kid?)? How did the ice truckers make it through that ice storm? If we didn't live in Texas, where would we live? Why did.......
Instead of checking out chapter books at the library, he is always coming up with these crazy subjects he wants to read about: Tanks. Stamps. World War II Battleships. Volcanic Disasters. Oil Spills. Bats.
And then we all get to learn about it with him as he tells us the most random facts about why a chameleon changes colors to match his surrounds. But he can't remember what day it is???
He told me the other day he wanted to make sure he got Morganne's teacher from 3rd grade. She is this pretty redhead that is so sweet to him.
When I asked him why, he just blushed but quickly defended himself saying she is "the best 3rd grade teacher!"
He doesn't let me take his picture anymore. And he doesn't like to talk much. When I ask him, "What did you do at cub scout camp today?" I typically get a "um...I don't know" or a "huh. I can't remember." I can't figure out if that is because he doesn't want to talk to me or if he really doesn't remember (mush...)
Of course if I asked him what lizard that was he was holding, he'd go on for 15 minutes....
He was my hugger - loved to give me hugs and kisses - now he is way too cool for that......
I get it. It's not cool. That's ok.
I look at him and think in amazement how quickly it has all gone by. He was my giggly boy who would love to let me read a story to him. Now he is this brainiac who can't form complete sentances. Soon, he will be ignoring me completely and eating me out of house and home.
So this summer, I need to get on his level - ride bikes with him. play wii with him. talk lizards and tanks with him.