Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There Has to Be An Easier Way to Do This, Part II

For anyone who read my blog post regarding getting my kids ready for the pool, I should let you know that the fun does not stop once we reach our destination. After I have checked the radar for scattered showers, gotten the kids ready, made sure there is no swim meet scheduled for that afternoon, packed water and Sugar-Free Kool-Aid and popsicles and towels and pool toys and sunscreen and my cell phone and a magazine to read and the kitchen sink, we head to the pool. The pool, where I can relax with a contraband beer disguised in a plastic cup and read a magazine while I soak up the sun’s glorious rays through my SPF 75. The pool, where the kids play together nicely in the sparkling water while the attentive lifeguards watch them closely. Or not.

Take yesterday, for instance. We have gone to the pool roughly four times a week for the entire summer, so you would think that my kids had the preparation mastered. Um, no. I still have to coach them through every step. Katie just wanders off with a book or her video game and forgets that she’s supposed to be getting ready. What’s worse is Davis – he completely remembers where we are going, but can’t put it together. My favorite is when they are at the back door ready to go, and Davis is naked, with his towel in hand. “Buddy!” I’ll say. “Are you forgetting something?” He looks at me, for all the world trying to figure out what I’m talking about. This is why this kid cannot go to Sewanee. Liberal Arts colleges and nudist colonies of the world, beware.

We get to the pool. We drag my backpack, the floatees, the cooler with drinks, the towels, and the water wings to an empty table and set up shop. I top off the sunscreen application and release the children into the pool. I settle back with my drink and my magazine. Summer pie recipes. Yum. And here’s Davis, needing a snack and a drink. “But we just got here and you had a snack and a drink before we left the house,” I try to reason. “But I’m so thirsty and hungry,” he pleads. I put down the magazine and look at it longingly, knowing full well I will not read a page today. I get out a snack and a drink, and get Davis settled down. Here comes Katie. “But I–I-I-I-I-I-I want a snack, too, that’s not fair, Davis always gets everything, you like him better, he had more snack at the house and here he is again and” I hand her a popsicle. She gets quiet and sits down. After the pool snack, I encourage them to get back into the pool. After all, there is usually only a ten-minute window between the time we get there and the time that the teenage lifeguards hear “thunder”, clearing the pool of those annoying swimmers and allowing them to retire to the club house to flirt with each other some more.

The kids get back in the pool. As I slowly reach for my magazine, I spot Davis running for the club house. As he get about halfway there, the burn from the scorching concrete registers. He freezes completely still and begins screaming “My feet!! Burnie Burn!!” I race over to him, pick him up, and carry him back to his flip-flops, all the while trying to explain that the concrete IS HOT, and if he needs to walk around, he needs to wear his shoes. He heads off to the potty.

(Quick aside – are all children obsessed with public potties or is it just my kids? We can potty before we leave the house but as soon as we get somewhere, they both have to go again. Also, the nastier the potty, the more my children want to go. This, however, is another blog post for another day.)

TEN MINUTES later, I am still watching for Davis. I make sure Katie isn’t actively drowning, then stalk off to the club house to collect my son. I find him STILL sitting on the potty in the men’s room. Apparently swimming makes him, ahem, regular. I make it back to my pool chair and just as I make contact with the seat, he comes racing across the concrete, screaming because his feet are burning BECAUSE HE HAS ON NO SHOES. Again. I carry him back into the men’s room (I spend entirely too much time in there!) to collect his shoes. We get back out to the pool, in the water he goes, snack/drink/potty time done. Now they can swim and I can relax. Full of hope, I reach for my magazine and my drink. Cue thunder…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beach Vacation, Taylor-Style

I’m baaaaack! Acts of Davis has been sadly neglected. When I logged on tonight, little tumbleweeds actually blew out of my laptop. We have been on vacation for the past week, and I was under strict orders from my husband not to alert the internet that we would leave our house unattended while we frolicked on the beach out of state. (Oh, yes, we DID frolic. I have photos.) Now that we have safely returned home, I am free to discuss our “holiday”, as the Brits say.

We spent the week in a lovely beach-front house with a pool. The house included three master suites looking out onto the ocean, an enormous kitchen, and a theater room. Needless to say, whenever we couldn’t find Davis, he was curled up in a leather reclining chair watching movies in there. He loved the beach, but he got a little choked up when he said goodbye to that theater room.

The kids had the “cousins’ room”. Picture four kids, aged 7, 5, 4, and 3 (my baby nephew was too little to be included) on beds and on mattresses on the floor, listening to bedtime stories and trying to convince the adults that they really were trying to go to sleep. They had a ball, sneaking in flashlights and trying to stay up late. That was some of the most fun we parents had all week – listening at the door to their whispered conversations. We didn’t understand half of it, but they did, and I think those are the times they’ll remember when they are all dancing at each other’s weddings. They played on the beach. They made sand castles. They swam. They ate too much junk food, despite Jenn’s and my protests. They all curled up for Shaun the Sheep movie marathons when they had had their fill of sun and sand. When they finally did sleep, they looked like little sun-kissed angels.

Along with all of this memory-making comes the obligatory family beach picture. You know the one I am talking about. The beautiful picture of the entire family on a spotless sandy beach, tanned and rested, smiling serenely into the last pink and purple bands of a sinking coastal sun. Everyone is looking at the camera. Everyone’s eyes are open. I love these pictures. My friends all have their personal version of this picture proudly displayed over their fireplaces, or blown up 16x20 on the living room wall. They are gorgeous, a golden moment forever captured in time. Not my beach pictures. My beach pictures are destined for a “when beach pictures go terribly wrong” segment on David Letterman.

My children are very good looking kids. Scott and I don’t scare villagers, so I don’t understand why we cannot take a decent family beach picture. Add in two grandparents (who are very photogenic, so it’s not their fault), two more adults, two more little boys, and a baby, and we didn’t have a prayer. The weather was perfect. The backdrop was perfect. The subjects…hmmmm…not so perfect. Sarah, our nanny and photographer, did everything she could. She sang. She danced. She threatened to put us all in time-out if we didn’t look at the camera and smile. We took, over the course of two evenings, over 400 shots. You would think we had gotten one lousy perfect gorgeous breathtaking picture, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?!?

I promised my mother-in-law that I would go through the pictures and find the best one. This would be the picture that captured this summer and our kids at this point in their young lives. After an hour and a half of going through the shots, I finally decided on the best one. Everyone IS looking at the camera, eyes open. Even the baby is facing forward. Katie doesn’t look happy, but she looks neutral. None of the parents are correcting kids. The grandparents seem to be relaxed and happy. Davis (age 4) and Nat (age 3) look relaxed and happy, too, because they are BOTH grabbing their crotches. Not in a vulgar way, like Lady Gaga or Madonna or Kathy Lee Gifford, but in that way that little boys do, just making sure that everything is there to be forever documented in the family photo. I tried to find another picture. You don’t know how I tried. That one was, undeniably, the best one. I decided to take it in stride, like the year I sent out Katie’s Christmas photo bloopers. Crotch-grabbing family photos happen. This is part of life. This is part of parenthood. And yes, they DO sell wine in grocery stores in North Carolina.

(The official, released-to-the-world pictures are on my facebook page. For the Acts of Davis crowd, enjoy! If you are nuts enough to follow this blog, you deserve a good laugh.)