The end of August is here, and for me, that means launching into all things Fall. I have taken the last few weeks off from writing to enjoy some much-needed time with friends and family. It was chaotic, to say the least, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My husband was a little stressed, and found himself slinking away into his man-cave when at all possible, busying himself with his etching and video-games. There was the occasional spat between us, due to the number of guests in our home. At one point we had 12 people sleeping in our 5 bedroom home, and surprisingly, everything went smoothly. This is in large part to my mom helping to keep the crowds fed and happy, and it helped that our guests were more than willing to play with (and love on) our children, giving Ben (my husband), and I a moment to breathe.
As an adolescent, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have kids, because I enjoyed my solitude, and freedom to come and go. At the same time, when it came to birthdays, Holidays, and family gatherings, I found myself only wanting to be surrounded by loved ones. The decision to have a family is a lifetime commitment, and not one to take lightly. My journey into motherhood started per-maturely (19 year old, to be exact), and thus started my many trials, as I made the decisions I felt were best for not only myself, but the tiny daughter in my arms. My two August babies would join the family several years later, after many years of struggles, single-motherhood, and finally, the marriage to my husband.
The military lifestyle isn’t easy. We are a blended family, and the move to the south has not only taken me away from my support system, but my oldest daughter now has a long-distance relationship with her biological father. This past summer, her and I spent 10 weeks apart, as she traveled back east to visit with her dad. It was the longest we had ever been apart, and certainly the most amount of time she had spent with him since him and I separated in 2008.
Both of my two little ones are born in August, only 2 years and 3 weeks apart. It seemed fitting to hold a joint birthday party for them, and invite close family and friends to the event. Surprisingly, most were able to attend. My two best friends probably had the roughest time of traveling, but managed to make it work. My friend Sammie works as a nurse, and had worked a full shift until 11 pm, before having to go home, pack, and then get herself and her daughter to the airport.
The Solar Eclipse was happening the Monday after the birthday party, so plane tickets into our area were incredibly expensive. Sammie found it cheaper to fly into Atlanta (an airport 4 hours away from me), and rent a car. She pulled over for an hour to catch some sleep, and when she finally arrived, she stayed up late with me to help decorate for the party.
My friend Anna, ended up having to work a full day on Friday (before the birthday party). After work, she and her husband drove the 13 hours to our house, arriving an hour before the birthday party began! They took a few moments to clean themselves up, look alive, and then Anna promptly began helping prepare food for the party. I really could not ask for better people in my life.
The theme of the party was mermaids, and I probably went a little crazy with decorations and themed snacks. (Goldfish, sand witches, driftwood, you get the idea). Both my little ones had their own adorable mermaid outfits, while my husband sported a mermaid squad shirt. The cake, made by Bubbies Bakery in Summerville, came out amazing! It was exactly what I wanted, and the girls were thrilled.
Saturday evening, after the party, my parents stayed home with the exhausted birthday girls, while the rest of us went out. My husband and his best friend traveled to the beach to grab some seafood with his parents. Sammie and I took the older kids out for some fun in downtown Charleston, meeting up with Anna and her husband, to grab some gelato and milkshakes. After dessert, Sammie, the kids, and I went to a fun park for some go-karts, and arcade fun.
Sunday was the final day with most of our guests, so we made the most of it. Sammie and I loaded up the car, and joined my parents at the pool with all the kids. My husband, and his friend Beau, stayed behind to shower and avoid the chaos. They stopped by later, bringing my in-laws, who were on their way back home and wanted to see the girls one last time. After the pool, the little ones went home to nap, and Sammie and I ventured back out with the older girls to Charleston. Anna met up with us there to take pretty photos of the kids, before we let them go swimming in the fountain. Yes, apparently you can swim in it. Needless to say, the girls had a very full day of water fun.
Sunday night, after all the kids were in bed, the adults settled in to watch Game Of Thrones. It was a great last evening with friends before they headed home. We ordered food, had drinks, and cried over the death of a dragon. My parents, and Sammie, left very early Monday morning. I was sad to see them go, but I really enjoyed the time we spent together the previous few days.
Monday was the day of the Total Solar Eclipse. Our remaining guests were all pretty excited to witness it, but of course, just before totality, we got one of those sudden afternoon thunderstorms. The only cool part about it was experiencing the sudden darkness, as the thunder boomed, and lightening lit up the darkened sky. Anna and her husband left promptly after, having to make the 13 hour drive home. Unfortunately, due to the high amounts of traffic, they had to endure an 18 hour drive home.
The only guest left at that point was my husbands friend, Beau, who stayed with us until Thursday. My husband finally felt like he was able to relax a little, having the house somewhat back to normal. Of course, as soon as Beau left, my husband and I took a mini vacation with the girls to Myrtle Beach. It seemed like it would be the perfect end to a very busy few weeks, but it turned out to be a little more stressful than we had planned. We arrived Friday evening, and were immediately disappointed in the hotel room. We stayed at the Crown Reef Resort, mostly because of the great pools and water slides it offered. The reviews looked good, and the pictures looked nice, so we booked it. Unfortunately, the room looked like they hadn’t been updated (or properly cleaned) since they first opened. We made sure to spend as much time out of the room as possible.
During our first night, we promptly ordered food from the downstairs restaurant, which turned out to be really good. After everyone was fed and less cranky, we took a trip down to the hotel arcade. It was small, but pleasing, and the games were generous with tickets. This meant we had some very happy girls when it was time to pick out prizes. At this point, it was already 8:30 pm, and well past bedtime for the little ones. Oh well, it’s vacation right? We quickly got changed, and headed down to the pool. The water slides closed at 9, so we missed out on that, but all the girls loved the lazy river. There was a DJ at the pool playing music, and holding a limbo contest, so the evening turned out to be enjoyable.
The first nights sleep was rough, as our youngest daughter woke up every hour unaware of where she was, and cried. We were exhausted come Saturday morning, but determined to make our only full day there fun. We managed to do breakfast, the boardwalk, the sky wheel, lunch, and then a huge candy shop. Back to the hotel for a quick nap (which didn’t happen), and then back out to the Ripley’s Aquarium. The aquarium was amazing, and not as crowded as we thought it might be on a Saturday.
After dinner, Saturday evening was spent at the pool. Ben and I took turns watching the little ones, so we could both enjoy the water slides with Zia. We all enjoyed the lazy river again, and then some of the baby pools, while Zia continued down the water slides. By the time we reached the hotel room, everyone was exhausted. By Sunday morning, we were ready to just pack up and go home. The trip was overall a success, but it would have been better with a cleaner, and less cramped hotel room.
We are finally home, unpacked, and back to our normal level of chaos. It’s nice to have found a moment to write about our chaotic few weeks, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. I think that’s why I am looking forwards for the Fall. With September, starts my absolute favorite time of year. Apple picking, baking, autumn festivals, and Halloween, to name a few. There is always sometime to do, and even in the south, the heat starts to drop off.
You will just have to stay tuned for some posts on my Autumn Adventures!