Monday, April 27, 2009

Campout 2009! Edisto Beach, SC- Days 1 & 2

Every year, I plan and implement a large reunion-style campout for our near and extended family. Besides myself and Billy with our children, usual attendees are Aunts, Uncles, cousins, "adopted" cousins, and close family friends, with cameo appearances by Grandma, Grandpa and "Aunt P". It's car camping in established campgrounds. I alternate years: going to a mountain destination in the summer one year, and to a coastal destination in the spring the next year. So far, we've been to Cades Cove TN/NC (in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), Jekyll Island GA (my photos here), Pisgah National Forest NC, and now Edisto Island, SC.
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

I was delighted with this year's campout! Edisto Island State Park was a gem of a place. I was particularly thrilled with our campsites, which were the walk-in sites located in the marsh-side campground loop.

The views were beautiful, there was a constant breeze from the marsh that kept all the gnats and mosquitoes away, and we had gorgeous (if chilly) weather the whole week!

We arrived a day early, along with Billy's lowcountry-resident sis and her party. We had cousin Dashi with us, whom my boys idolize.
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

It had been a long drive. The kids were excited! I loved the campsites. Ours had the perfect climbing tree for the boys (which Billy tied a rope swing to for even more fun)!
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

(Isn't that a GREAT tree?)

First order of business: hurry and set up camp. Setting up camp is always a flurry of activity, especially with a toddler around to get in the way!
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

But we managed, with Billy setting up our tents while I got dinner going. (Note to self: next year, pick up some take-out for the first night's meal!!)

Day 1 closed cold (lows in the 30s F that night!) and full of promise for the week to come!

Day 2 we donned our bike helmets, hooked the kids' trailer and bike seat to Billy's bike, and rode out to explore the network of paths running through the State Park. Billy was pulling quite a load!

From Edisto Island Campout 2009

(My bike's design makes it difficult to attach the bike seat or trailer. Lucky me!) ;)

The paths were wonderful- pretty flat, well-maintained, of packed sandy dirt alternating with boardwalks to cross the marshy places.
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

We rode out to the Edisto Beach Interpretive Center, which has some neat natural artifacts and interactive environmental displays. (If that link didn't work, go to for a cool video about the interpretive Center.) After exploring the building, we took the path out to the pier (my last Skywatch Friday photo was also taken here).
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

It was windy! Littleman's hair was going wild.
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

Afterwards, we enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading back to camp. By the time we got there, the rest of the group had begun arriving. Time to get dinner on and lend a helping hand!

Late that evening Billy towed the boys to and from the bath house to get them ready for bed. The moon was rising full and silvery, and though the air was chilly it felt fresh and invigorating. As soon as Littleman and Sweetcheeks were all tucked in (Babyman had gone to sleep some time before), Billy announced he was going for a bike ride. I had to stay with the kids, but my brother went along. When they returned, it was with wide eyes and breathless excitement over the experience. They had turned off their flashlights and let their eyes adjust to the night. The moon was high and bright, and the light sandy path seemed to glow before them in the dancing shadows. With such good visibility (and no other people around), they'd been able to zoom along at a fast clip, watching the palmettos whip by in the darker periphery, moving in and out of moonlight like minnows darting through sunlight-dappled shallows. Hitting the long boardwalk through the marsh, they'd felt like they were flying through the salty, windy night under that pearly moon.

We went to sleep that night happy.
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

(To read my account of Day 3, go here.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Realization

I had a realization not long ago, and I am still turning it over in my mind. This realization came in stages, and the first goes thus: each of my children has their own particular technique for making me want to pull my hair out. They don't operate the same way, at least not when they're doing something that really threatens to send me over the edge. Their techniques were quite clear, when I thought about it. (Babyman is left out here, because he is still learning how best to make me pull my hair out.)

Mr. Sweetcheeks gets me by making messes. Not simple, toys-everywhere-food-on-the-floor-where-are-your-shoes?!!?? kind of messes. . . no, messes more like this:
From assorted

Like fingerpainting with toothpaste, drawing on the walls and furniture, grinding up the watercolor cakes from his paint tray, making a "lake" on the kitchen floor, drawing all over his body (or his brothers') with markers, mixing milk and juice together (and adding some cereal), pouring the entire bottle of shampoo into his bathwater, dumping out the baby powder. . .etc etc, and making this lovely mess with some of my lotion.
From assorted

Typing this now, it feels like I'm overreacting when these things make me crazy. But unfortunately, they do. I just haven't got time with everything else that's going on to stop and clean up disaster areas like these. I want to scream, "WHY???? WHAT were you THINKING???", though I don't. Scream it, I mean. And I try not to ask- after all, that's a ridiculous question to ask a 3-yr old.

When I walked in on this, he sadly told me, "But I didn't want you to come in here."
From assorted

(~snort~) Yeah, I bet you didn't, Sweetcheeks.

But, here comes the next stage of my realization: I need to see all this in a different light. These unending activities are not malicious (I knew that), nor even thoughtless exactly- they are pure, genuine scientific exploration. Mr. Sweetcheeks is my budding scientist, performing ongoing experiments with cause-and-effect and with the nature of matter. He is getting down and dirty to learn how the world works. He doesn't just want to hear about stuff, he wants to feel it. To try it out. "What happens if I. . ." He wants to combine stuff, make new things, try something different. He is learning how to conduct experiments, how to think outside the box, how to explore the world with all his senses. These are actually skills and traits that I hope to instill in my children, so hey! Every time this happens I can recognize his brilliant scientific curiosity, and be proud.

Littleman however drives me batty with a never-ending supply of backtalk, questioning, bargaining and debate. Nothing leaves my mouth unchallenged. He is often a smug, argumentative brat with me, and dammit, he's good at it too!
From assorted

I believe in limiting my use of the words, "Because I SAID SO, that's WHY!!", but it sure taxes my poor fried brain cells to have to explain, debate and even defend my every instruction. Especially since he comes up with pretty intelligent arguments!
From assorted

So in the same vein, I decided to think of Littleman as a budding lawyer, and to view this behavior as excellent practice with skills that will indeed be very useful when he is an adult. He is learning critical thinking skills, persuasive debate, and use of logic. Again, all skills that I would most fervently wish for my children.

Then again, he also drives me crazy by pulling something like this whenever I point a camera in his direction:
From Edisto Island Campout 2009

But, perhaps that's another blog post.

My final stage of this realization is that I should be trying this with many, many more things besides just these habits of my boys. Babyman's being clingy, and I can't get a thing done? More baby hugs for me! Sweet! There's a sinkful of dirty dishes? Great, that's something I can finish pretty quickly and feel like I've really accomplished something! My knee is in pain where I fell on it the other day? Excellent, an excuse to go rest with my feet up for a minute! You get the idea.

So now whenever I feel a bad attitude coming on, I look at the offending situation and try to genuinely view it in a new light. Sometimes it works! Try it for yourself!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Here I am!

Well, as usual after I've neglected my poor blog for awhile, I'd first like to apologize for my lengthy absence. I'm sorry! I've just been busy- mainly, we had our big annual family campout- it was awesome. I'll tell you more about it later. Also, there were taxes due (ugh), and LAUNDRY, and a handful of other things. Plus, I've been enjoying Spring- I've just been doing more and blogging less. But I miss you all, so hopefully I won't be gone so much now. :)

Do you know how it is, when you finally get to talk to a good friend or family member that you've been out of touch with for awhile, and you find you don't know what to talk about? Those people you chat with all the time, well you could ramble on with them for hours. But with someone dear that you haven't kept up with, you just don't know where to begin? The scope of your experience, the catching up, has grown too vast to be distilled by words, and you're not sure what drops of the ocean would make the sweetest and most meaningful conversational libation. Well that's how I'm feeling now- what should I write about? What makes the cut??

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Being that it's technically now Wednesday (Earth Day, as well!) I'll throw out a wordless wednesday pic for you, even though the "wordless" part is obviously out the window now. I'm tired. Hopefully I'll have a few tales (and more pictures!) for you soon. Good night!

Wordless Wednesday
From Edisto Island Campout 2009