Once Upon A Time …

Once upon a time, there was this girl.  And she married this boy.  And things were good.  It didn’t hurt that he had killer biceps, ofcourse.  And although they faced trials and challenges, just like anybody, they basically, after awhile, found themselves in a great place.  They had three beautiful kids, a wonderful military career for him, the blessing of a stay-at-home life for her, and overall, nothing to complain about.

Life was fun.

Then the boy with the killer biceps got cancer.  Six months later, their beautiful, funny, blonde-haired four-year-old daughter got cancer, and for a while things were hard. And scary.  And stressful.

To cope, the mom started journaling.  Only she did it publically, online, in this new-fangled thing called a “blog”.  Where
people, friends, even total  strangers, could follow along, and make comments and give opinions and advice and
encouragement.  And it was extremely cathartic for her. This mom blogged her way through both cancer treatments, and
through the numerous cancer recurrences that the boy with the killer biceps kept having.  And I don’t know that
anyone will ever truly know how much it helped that girl get through that scary time.   How much she cherishes the
friends that came of it.  And how much she still, even now, eight years later, appreciates the support they received
because of that blog.   And as the cancers, which basically spear-headed the blog’s beginning, became less and less of an everyday presence in their lives, the girl realized that she really liked blogging.  Still.   There were so many positives to come out of it.   So maybe even if she didn’t have the “C” word to blog about on a daily basis, she could blog about other things.

So she did.

And it was fun.

And the kids grew, and she blogged about it.  They faced all kinds of adventures, and she blogged about it.   Funny, strange, every day, unusual, interesting, sad, exciting, mundane, hysterical things happened, and she blogged about them all.  Life brought changes, and she blogged about it some more.

And it was fun.

But see, here’s the deal.

At some point, the kids grow to an age where their trials and challenges are no longer funny, or light-hearted, or something to talk about (or brag about, or complain about) in public.  Not because they are terrible, shameful, life-altering challenges, no, of course not.  But because they are challenges, albeit NORMAL challenges, but challenges, still the same, being faced by
teenagers.  Teenagers who feel embarrassed and mortified by their parents on a daily basis no matter what, just by their mere presence, their mere existence, let alone by a parent who BLOGS about them and their life.  Especially a child, who, let’s face it, is no longer a child, who in fact started high school this year.   And this child-who-is-no-longer-a-child is taking a computer class, and whose classmates took turns googling one another at the beginning of the year and who FOUND THE
MOTHERS BLOG ONLINE OH MY GAWSH THE HUMILIATION.

I get it.  I would most likely have been embarrassed by that too, at that age.  And I wouldn’t want to live my life with that
fear hanging over my head, that my mother, my clueless mother, might post some story, or anecdote, or worse, a PHOTO of me as a naked baby, that I didn’t want shared in public.  It’s bad enough she has to endure my presence on Facebook, and know that I follow her on Twitter, but to worry about a platform as open as a BLOG?!?!?!

(You *do* know that I’m talking about my own family, right????)

And it’s not just Brayden and her increased need for respect and privacy …. its other things, as well, as all three of the kids get older.  Kellen and Kendrie are both in middle school this year.   No doubt there is a blogging gold mine there, with stories I could tell about some of the other kids, some of the adults, some of their social adventures, and the volunteering I’ve done.  But at what cost?  I live in a very small town, and although I’m no Erma Bombeck, with millions of readers, and don’t pretend to be, I do know that enough people “in real life” read my blog that there is no way I could blog stories anonymously.  And
since I would never tell stories online that I wouldn’t be willing to tell in real life, to say to someone’s face (yeah, learned that lesson the hard way one time …..) then suddenly, my blogging well begins to run  very, very dry.

My kids are teenagers, with all of the attitude and hormones that go with it.  We have days where I see them maturing and growing into young adults and I’m so proud of them I could burst.  We also have days where if they make it to 18 without me selling them to the circus it will be a damn miracle.  And I can’t blog about that, because at this stage in the game, it would be disrespectful to them.

Blaine’s cancer is back. We are hopeful, but are often discouraged, as well.  And I can’t blog about that, because at this stage in the game, it would be disrespectful to him, and to our children, for me to discuss publically things that are private.

I have “quit” this blog …. um …. three times that I can think of.  All three times I thought I was ready to be done, to move on to other things, and that the blog was no longer helpful to me.  And all three times I was wrong, and came back and began blogging again.  But this time, it’s different.  I know the blog is ending not because I feel “done”, or because I think my time is spent better elsewhere, but because common courtesy to my family dictates that this stage of our life is not one to be shared out loud with others.

So, I will leave you with this final blog entry, our 2011 Christmas Letter.  The blog will stay up for a while, as I navigate the waters of blog printing and figure out a way to keep this  entire journal as a memento for our family and the adventures we’ve had.  I’m hopeful there are still lots of adventures ahead, and I’ll most likely continue writing about them.  But not out loud.  Not in public.

Not now.

Thanks for understanding.   And thanks for the last eight years.

It was fun.

***********************************************************************************

Merry Christmas from the Escoe Family–2011

You know, I’ve got to be honest, I really debated about continuing the Christmas Letter Tradition this year.  Being a parent to two teenagers and one almost-teenager, there are most many some days I’m just not sure I have an  entire letter’s worth of funny, witty, entertaining stories to tell about our family.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days …. occasionally …. sometimes … when the planets and stars align and the angels shine down from above and all three kids are in happy, cheerful
moods; they cooperate and get along fabulously, they are kind to one another, they do what is asked without complaint, and I could write a novel (or two!) about their sweet personalities, funny attitudes, gentle souls, good hearts, and how
proud Blaine and I are to be their parents.

The *other* 364 days of the year, well, they are teens.  Planted firmly at the intersection of Hormone Parkway and Attitude Avenue, jumping into their Mood-Swing-mobiles, leaving common sense and rational behind, to speed off down Mom and Dad Don’t Know Anything Boulevard.  If you are the parent of a teen, you most likely understand exactly what I mean. If you are
the parent of a teen and you don’t know what I mean, then good for you. And please don’t talk to me anymore.

Kidding.  Mostly.

Brayden is 14 years old and started high school this year …. low on the totem pole as a freshman, granted, but it seems she has settled in nicely at school and is fortunate to have met more upperclassmen who are kind, than who are anything else.  She still
sings in choir, she was elected to Student Council this year, and tried her hand at kayak this fall. We’re looking forward to spring when she sticks another toe back into athletic waters and joins the high school girls’ soccer team. She and I are planning a trip to NYC during Spring Break with some of her choir members and looking forward to that, as well. I was a little shell-shocked when school began and I realized I could count the number of years before she is an “adult” with one hand. Her “future”
is still a ways off, but I must confess I’m feeling a certain amount of pressure to do everything with her, and teach her everything we want her to know, in the amount of time we have left.

Kellen is top dog in the middle school this year …. 13 years old and 8th grade. He ran track last spring for school, played rec league soccer in the fall, ran cross country, and is playing basketball now, both school basketball and rec league. The boy does love his sports, although still isn’t an uber-competitive type of player, and is just as happy playing “Sharks and Minnows” at recess.  In fact, he might like that better since there is less pressure. His favorite “unscheduled” activity is still practicing to be a ninja, but he’s also gotten very into archery this year and practices all the time on targets he and his father have set up outside….. he’s actually quite good.   I vacillate between thinking it is a cool hobby, and worrying he’s going to put someone’s eye out.  He is in his third year of playing saxophone in the band, although he has hinted that he might like to try choir (Show
Choir, no less!) in high school instead.  Mainly, he seems to be enjoying his last year of middle school with a great group of friends, and that makes us happiest of all.

Kendrie moved up the ranks this year from elementary to middle …. 12 years old and sixth grade. She seems to be enjoying middle school just fine, and like her brother, has a sweet group of kids to call friends, which is a blessing.  She tried
volleyball for the first time last spring, but went back to her sport of choice, soccer, in the fall. Sadly, we don’t have soccer at our middle school so she’s already counting down the days until high school, when she can play as a freshman, like Brayden will be doing.   (I think it would be great fun if they both stick with it and get to play together in a few years!)   Kendrie is playing her first season of indoor soccer right now and having fun with it.  She still takes piano, and quit orchestra to try her hand at beginner’s band at school.  She will be switching from clarinet to saxophone at second semester and is excited about that. So far, her transition to middle school has been a smooth one, and Blaine and I are grateful for that.

As a family we certainly have been lucky to do some neat things this year.  The highlight for us was a Caribbean Cruise during Spring Break with our friends the Ledfords and the Longs.  As always, a vacation with friends, and especially friends whose kids are friends, too, is a treat.  Grandma Betty went with us, and not only DIDN’T break anything this time around, but zip-lined through the Roatan mountains, in the rain, with the rest of us, a memory I will cherish forever.  Great vacation.

In June, I took the kids on a vacation with some of my scrapbooking moms and their kids …. we spent several days visiting our
friends the Warcholiks in Virginia, then drove to Virginia Beach for a week at the ocean. Six moms and 17 kids in one house for a week …. it was a total blast, and Kellen had so much fun he even briefly considered trading his life-long ninja dream to be a professional body-surfer … if such a thing even exists.  We have high hopes for a repeat adventure this coming summer as well, mountains instead of beach, but every bit as much fun.

A week of church camp and a week of basketball camp, and before you know it, summer was almost over and the mad rush back to school had begun.  Through all that I continued to work part time at the doctor’s office, a job I enjoyed very much.  But, right before school started, we made the decision as a family that my time, honestly, is better served by staying home, so I quit.  That gave me more time and freedom to pursue my photography hobby, chase after the kids, and serve as chauffeur-social-coordinator,  but shockingly, NOT as much free time to keep the house spotlessly clean, like I had promised Blaine it would.

Speaking of Blaine, he is still loving his job at Tinker, and is certainly blessed to have bosses and co-workers he enjoys as well.  He bought a telescope this past year and has enjoyed delving into the world of astronomy …. a nice alternative since his
hunting and fishing passions have been so curtailed. Again, his cancer is back, and again, we covet your prayers.  He
remains one of the most faith-filled men I have ever seen and we are certainly prayerful for his recovery.

We decided to end the year with a mini-getaway and rented a cabin with the kids at Lake Elmer Thomas (near the Wichita Mountains) for Thanksgiving weekend.  It was just the break we needed as a family and allowed us to rest and relax before gearing up for our holiday season, which, like yours I am certain, is busy with concerts and parties and shopping and decorating and baking (oh, wait, that’s not me) and most of all, reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ and giving thanks for all that entails.

Many blessings to you and yours this holiday season, and the upcoming 2012 year.

Blaine   Kristie   Brayden   Kellen    Kendrie    Barley    Brew   Blackie


Top 10 things I learned as an event photographer

Unbeknownst to me, one of Brayden’s classmates fathers (clear as mud?) works for a high-end American consumer retail company that sells kitchen wares, furniture and linens, as well as other housewares and home furnishings, along with a variety of specialty foods, soaps and lotions.   For privacy purposes I won’t say their name, but it rhymes with Williams Sonoma.  One of their biggest distribution centers is located here in OKC, and the several hundred employees who work there handle online and phone orders.  Once a year, at the beginning of their peak holiday season, the company holds an all-day event called “Kick Off”.  Employees are bussed up from another distribution center in Texas, the company brass flies in from California, various WS vendors bring in their new products, awards are given to employees, goody bags and prizes are passed out like candy, food samples are given, etc, all designed to get those employees excited to face the upcoming busy season, break all kinds of sales records, pumped about new products, etc.  It was actually quite a festive day, and left me insanely jealous of anyone who owns Calphalon pans or Shun knives.  And also craving chocolate croissants.

Anyway!  It was a long day …. 6 am until almost 6 pm, not counting the half hour of driving time in each direction.  But I had fun, and learned some things about event photography, I think.  In the hopes that WS calls me again next year to be their photographer, I thought perhaps I should jot down a few of my thoughts while they are still fresh, for later review.  Perhaps none of these things are earth shattering, and a few don’t even pertain to photography, but I definitely noticed:

1. Only a real man could pull off dancing in a full-blown Grinch costume and still look cool.

2. Two hundred dollar train sets make amazing raffle prizes.  And if you think that is a lot of money, you will be even more surprised to find out there are people who pay over $2000 for espresso machines.  And don’t bat an eye.

3.  Why yes, inflatable cash blow money machines really are that fun.  (not that I would know this from personal experience, but it sure looked fun.)

4.  People who do not want their pictures taken will certainly let you know, so don’t feel embarrassed to ask them.  Thankfully, most will say yes.

5. Backing up to take cruise-style-type photos of luncheon tables, around the perimeter of the dining room, is not a good idea.  Too many waiters with trays for you to back in to.

6.  Some people, naturally, seem to smile while they are talking.  And it is very easy to get good pictures of them doing a demonstration, because they are smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves, and almost constantly have a pleasant look on their face.  Some people, perhaps those that are more nervous about public speaking ….. do not.

7.  The back of the room is not only the least intrusive place to stand and take photos, it is also the place where they store the food for some presentations.  So during the presentation given by the French chef Jean-Yves Charon, you just might be lucky enough to be sitting next to the bakers rack with hundreds of his croissants on it (no, not the chocolate ones, that would have been pretty much perfect, wouldn’t it?!) and you *might* just be able to sneak a few extra into your camera bag when no one is looking.  Not that you would, of course.

8.  Presentations given by vendors from Australia are a hoot to listen to.

9.  Before the annual awards ceremony, which is pretty much the most important ten minutes of the entire day, make sure you understand exactly how to work your Speedlite External Flash, and the proper camera settings for it.

10.  Remember to PUT THE FLASH IN YOUR BAG BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE YOU MORON.**

**in my defense, I had to leave the house at 5am, and it was so early I’m probably lucky I remembered to put PANTS on, let alone grab the external flash.


How poor people do annual school photos

So, like many (most? all?) public schools in America, the kids’ school here is contracted with a company called Lifetouch who comes to the school to take individual photos in the fall, and individual and class photos in the spring.  And because I am a rabid, dedicated, obsessed, avid scrapbooker, who hasn’t touched her photos or her supplies in months, I always — ALWAYS — buy the pictures.   And, for the most part, I’m always happy with the images.  I think Lifetouch does a perfectly good job with the pictures.  Technically they are fine ….. the quality is fine …. if I ever have a problem with the picture its the cheesy smile on my kids’ face, or the fact their hair was no longer “morning quality” …. ha!

But while I was always happy with the quality of the photos, I was NOT always happy with the price.  Ridiculous, no?  Since I want/need at least a 5 x 7 of each child for the school scrapbooks, and most years would prefer 8 x 10, I wind up buying a $30 or $40 package …. PER KID.  I was spending close to, if not more, than $100 every year, just so I could have a nice-sized print to scrapbook, and a few wallets to spread around. 

And I never blinked an eye because these are my precious little angle babies and of COURSE I want their pictures each year. 

But this year, I just balked at paying that price.  Maybe because I recently quit working …. so I’m more aware of the money I’m spending each month?  I don’t know.  All I know is those order forms came home and I went ….. “nope, not this time.”   They take the photos for the yearbook, regardless, but I just couldn’t bring myself to write the checks for my own prints.

So I did what any self-respecting psuedo-amatuer photographer does ….. puts up a sheet in the garage and takes my kids’ school pictures myself!   Overall I think they turned out ok.  I certainly think they’re good enough to put in the scrapbook.  Do I think anyone will be fooled into thinking the natural light in my garage is studio lighting?  Or that my little text-date in the bottom corner makes it legitimate?  Shoot, no.  But when I get my prints for less than $10 total, saving myself well over $90 this year ……….. then heck yeah, those are some damn good pictures!!!

And because you can never have too much entertainment ……

BAM!  BAM!  Two tickets to the gun show!!

The skinny, malnourished, white kid gun show.


Not facebook appropriate

Since many of the thoughts I have lately are quick and random and pretty well suited to Facebook, I have a tendency to update there more than here.  Not much content, but definitely faster.  The following would apply, except I have my kids’ friends on my facebook account, and as the following thought went through my head, I knew it wouldn’t be appropriate for a facebook status update:

In the Kohl’s dressing room earlier this week:

“How on earth is it possible that I’ve gone from a size 16 to a size 8, and I’m *still* not happy with how my ass looks in a pair of jeans????”

Sad, but true.


What makes a 12th birthday special …

A sleepover with good friends …..

Swimming ….

Trampoline ….

S’mores …..

Cupcakes ….

And getting to do it all WITHOUT your brother and sister around, butting in.  I had a little parental guilt about the fact I was taking Brayden and Kellen to the away football game that night, but then realized Kendrie would rather enjoy the evening with JUST her and her friends, whether I was there or not.  So Blaine got Party-Parent Detail and did a fabulous job, including orders to take these photos  ….. I was back home in time for the sleep part of the sleepover, and best of all, brought donuts for the next morning.  S’mores, cupcakes, pizza, and donuts.  Does it really get any better than that???


No idea

Why no, in fact, I have no idea why Sports Illustrated isn’t calling me.

Do you???


And so it begins ….

…. another year of my love/hate relationship with referees and coaches who step RIGHT in front of me, at the exact moment I am trying to get the shot.  Too bad there’s not a burning need for blurry photos of the back of striped ref shirts …. I would SO have that market cornered. (sigh)


Second Meet of the Season

Yes, of course, I have more to talk about than our newest venture, cross country running, but for now, this is what you get.  Primarily because I took over 2000 ( !! ) photos of other people’s kids last week, playing numerous volleyball and football games, which was pretty much awesome, because every single game I went to, my team won.  And the two games I was *supposed* to attend, and couldn’t make, the team I was supposed to be shooting for, lost.  Clearly, I am a good luck charm of the highest proportion, and as soon as I finish this blog post I will be racing to my nearest 7-11 to buy a lottery ticket.  Because I am THAT GOOD.

Kellen had his second cross country meet of the season on Friday.  We didn’t go in the morning with the high schoolers …. as neat as it is to be excused from school for a sports event, that unfinished classwork is staring you in the face when you return.  So Kellen and his two 8th grade team mates both decided (or perhaps I should say, their parents decided, and since they are not old enough to drive, they really had no choice but to go along) that I would pick them up from school at lunchtime and drive them to the meet for the afternoon middle school races.

A good plan, really ….. on paper.

None of the boys had eaten since breakfast, so all the moms packed a lunch they could eat really quickly in the car.  They changed clothes, arrived at the meet, and immediately began their warm up runs.

I thought it was incredibly sweet and supportive that so many of the high school kids stayed at the meet to encourage the middle schoolers in their races.  Sort of like our own mini-mentoring plan, where the older kids give advice and words of widsom to the younger ones.  Oh, who am I kidding?  They didn’t want to go back to school either.  Oh, who am I kidding some more?  The bus stayed, so they had no choice.  But they DID choose to stand at the starting line with the middle schoolers, offering advice about the track, and constructive criticism on the competition.  I think that mainly involves making fun of how short everyone else’s shorts are, too.

It was SO hot outside …. 102 according to my car thermometer ….. AFTER it cooled down from sitting in the sun.  We started at 106, but I think 102 was probably closer.  Kellen’s favorite things are the cold, wet rags the coach brings, in a small ice chest.  The kids put them on top of their heads, attach a stretchy hair band over it to hold it in place while it drips cold water down their faces and necks …. then they walk around like little Arab sheiks.  Or, like Arab sheiks would look, if they used pink washcloths as turbans.

There were about 110 athletes running in the 8th grade boys race.  Top 50 would medal, so I knew all three of our boys most likely had a good chance.  I mean, just finish in the first half of the pack, and you’re golden.

Kellen had pretty good form at the beginning, I thought.  He’s not quite got the hang of the jostling elbows and shoving that can go on when so many boys are running together and jockeying for position.  Later, as the pack starts to spread out, he does fine and can use those long legs to pass.  But at the beginning, he’s perhaps a bit more polite than a more assertive runner would be.   He was so hot he wanted to run with the washcloth on his head, but his team mates fortunately talked him out of it.

This is my favorite photo of the day, though, below.  It’s Kellen’s team mate Gavin, looking at Kellen, and I am 100% certain that the exact thought going through his head is, “Dude, you look like a tool.  You took the rag off, but totally left the headband on!!”

All three boys finished in the top half, and medaled, which is exciting.  This is the first season of cross country for all of them, and they’ve done really well so far.  More importanly than medals, of course, is that they are working hard, committed to the team (6 am practice runs in the FREAKING DARK … you have to be committed to do that) improving their personal times, and (I think) having fun.  Although if you ask Kellen, the medals are a pretty important part of it as well.

The boys with their coach, after the race.

Kellen looked a little green when he finished, and immediately started asking if we could leave, which I thought was odd.  He’s not exactly a social butterfly, but he’s usually perfectly content to hang out with his friends.  The bus was stopping to eat on the way home, and Kellen said he didn’t want to join them.  That was actually better for me because I needed to rush home and prepare to welcome eight little girls for a 12-yr old birthday slumber party (photos of that to come)  ……

Kellen was looking greener and greener as we made our way back to the parking lot and got loaded back up into the van.  He immediately turned all the a/c vents to high and pointed them right at his face.  That is never a good sign, and we all know what it portends.  Sure enough, about half a mile from the school, he gave me the, “Mom, I think I might throw up” line …..

Its a good thing there wasn’t a policeman behind me or he’d have arrested me for drunk driving, as quickly as I veered across two lanes of traffic and made my way to a parking lot.   I mean, I’ve only had this van for eight months.  Every now and then a kid will get in it and comment on the “new van” smell.  I don’t think it smells new anymore, but no one had thrown up in it yet, and by golly, I didn’t want to start then.

When finished, Kellen only had three things to say:

1.  “I feel SO much better now!  Can we stop and eat?”

2.  “Hey, someone honked at me while I was puking!”

and,

3.  “Here’s my medal, Mom.  I threw up on it.”

Ahhhhh, kids.  Gotta love ‘em.

 


Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

So, its been almost, close to, probably over a month since I updated last.  LIFE just sort of got in the way.  I guess that happens sometimes.  Then yesterday I received e-mail notice that my annual website service for this blog was being renewed (why, hello Mastercard!) and that was the prompt I needed to start blogging again.  My goal for this school year is to get my blog transported to the Blurb website and printed out, and until I do that, I certainly can’t shut it down and lose the content.  And I’m just cheap enough to think that if I’m paying for a blog host and website, then by golly, I should be using them!

So, what have we been doing the past month?  In a nutshell?  What life-shattering events have kept me so rivited and busy that I couldn’t find five minutes to update???  Well, finishing up summer, I guess …..  getting ready for school to begin, which entails back to school shopping for clothes and shoes and school supplies and lunchboxes and all the other various and sundry crap that goes along with that.  Taking every single kid to the dentist and doctor and orthodontist and getting sports physicals and why, oh why, did we wait until the end of summer to do that?  I quit my job.  Blaine’s cancer is back (notice how I oh-so-casually slipped that in?) I let my cleaning ladies go (insert small, pathetic tear here) so I’ve been doing more of the house-wifery stuff again.  I’ve been reading like a crazy person, and have been faithful about my walking program.  Around 15 miles a week.  At least until three days ago, when I just quit.  Funny how it takes so long to get in the habit of exercise, and it takes about 12 hours to get OUT of the habit.  Clearly I forgot to stand in line when God was passing out “endorphins” ……   Kellen and Kendrie are both starting soccer again … Kellen starts Monday, Kendrie began two weeks ago.  Back to school orientations, schedule pick ups, that sort of thing.   Kellen is also running cross country.  Brayden started high school and was elected one of the freshman homeroom student council representatives, which I think will be fun for her.  Also fun for her is the open campus lunch that our high schoolers have ….. although it hasn’t taken her long at all to figure out she can bring lunch from home, or walk home and eat, and save herself a bit of the lunch money we give her each week.  I’m curious to see where the balance falls …. the fun of going out with friends vs. the luxury of extra spending money for other things.  We’ll see.

I’m taking photos of fall sports at our school, which is busy, hectic, stressful, totally fun , all of those things. Volleyball, softball, football, and cross country so far.  I love the kids at our school and the fact I can be involved in this way.  Not to mention its a great opportunity for me to get primo pictures of my own kids.  Which is how I’ll end this “hey, its time for me to blog again but I really have nothing worthwhile to say, so let’s just get started with a bunch of random nonsense!” entry ……  photos of Kellen from today, in his first-ever cross country meet.

“Kellen, getting some pre-race
advice from one of our cross-country dads. Hey, kid, here’s some advice …. eat
a darn cheeseburger! And put some bacon on it!! You turn sideways and you almost
disappear!”

 

“SO proud of these kids who medaled
at the cross country meet this morning in Guthrie. Actually, proud of every
single kid there … not one of them quit, or crossed the finish line in tears,
like I probably would have done. According to Kellen, the only negative thing
about the entire day? How incredibly stinking short the cross country shorts
are! Very, extremely, *not* cool!!”


It will be time for our next vacation before I am finished …

Considering the kids and I have been home from our Virginia beach vacation almost a month now, I guess I better finish up my journaling and photos of the trip, before the memories fade as quickly as my tan did.  At this stage, we’re up to Day 3 now.  Or maybe 4.  I honestly don’t even know.

This was the day we hung out in the pool more than the beach, which pleased some of the kids just fine.  And for different reasons, pleased the moms as well.  The anti-beach kids were glad not to be spitting salt water from their mouths and rubbing it out of their eyes, and also to avoid the unfortunate reality of “oh dear lawd how did sand get *there*?????”   None of the moms were anti-beach, but I’ll be the first to admit there is an advantage to hanging poolside, when the pool is in your own backyard, SO much closer to the restrooms, the kitchen, and most importantly, the frozen slushie alcohol drinks.

It was pretty much all the chaos and madness and fun you would expect, having 17 kids in one pool.  With six moms screaming at them to keep sand out of the pool, can’t you read the sign, if you drag too much sand in the pool we will have to pay a fine!!!  But good grief, the pool sits just feet from the public access trail to the beach.  And there was nothing but sand in between our back porch and the pool.  And the bucket of water we set out for the kids to wash their feet off with, got kicked over the first half hour.  So after awhile we just said the hell with it, if we divide the fine by six, how bad could it be?

(for the record, on our last morning there the pool maintenance guy showed up and told us our pool, which we thought had half of Virginia Beach in it at that point, didn’t look bad at all … whew!)

I’d also like to point out that because there were 14 kids in addition to my own three, I have dozens and dozens of adorable pool photos.  But, I still feel sort of squinchy about posting photos of other peoples’ kids in swimsuits, on the internet.  My own kids?  Well, those poor Escoes haven’t had any privacy in about eight years ….. but I’ll wait to show you my friends’ kids until they are covered up just a wee bit more.

That evening, after we all got cleaned up (which went surprisingly smoothly, considering 23 people were sharing two showers ….) we drove down to the boardwalk/pier area for dinner.  While we were in the restaurant, a casual, seafood-place right on the pier, a pretty big thunderstorm came through.  The lifeguards cleared the beach, and there was tons of rain and even some lightning.  We worried our plans for the evening, to walk the boardwalk, sightsee, and shop, might be canceled.  Luckily, however, the rain, while substantial, only lasted a brief while (thank goodness, too, because my scared-of-thunderstorms-child Kendrie was about to have an anxiety attack right there in the restaurant) and we were able to go on our way after our meal.

Funniest comment of the night:   There were 23 of us.  We spent at least an hour and a half, and I’m sure, three or four hundred dollars, on dinner.  After, we all walked a few feet to the other side of the pier to a souvenir shop. We were standing around, admiring things, trying to stay out of the last little bit of drizzle.  Ten or so minutes passed, and one of the boys told his mom he needed to use the restroom, so she sent him back to the restaurant.  He returned, saying, “there is a sign on the door that says customers only, so I don’t think I can use it since technically we’re not customers any more.”  She replied, “Oh, we just spent $80 on dinner, you are SO a customer.  Now go!!”     HA!

PS.  Before you compliment me on my fabulous photography skills, I must confess that many of the following photographs were taken by my friend Jodi.  In fact, every single good photo was taken by Jodi.  It was super-steamy after the rain, and my lens fogged a bit and didn’t de-fog the entire evening.  Of course, I didn’t realize that until I got home and took a good look at my photos, and now, four weeks later, I just don’t have the motivation or the energy to edit them.  So Jodi, thanks for the pics!!