October 13, 2010


The week following Labor Day we finally took a summer vacation. Summer vacations will never happen for our family during traditional vacation time. We're too busy helping kids and other folks enjoy their summer vacations. And we wouldn't have it any other way. (I miss summer.) :(

We headed out as soon as family camp was over and drove to Hilton Head, SC. We had a house for the week with my mom and dad and brother, sister-in-law, and nieces. By the end of the week we were ready to sign up for the following summer. What a great week! I took a few pictures to prove it.

Avery did his best to dig up the beach.

My niece Jordan.

Avery and Jordan enjoyed the water for about the first ten minutes of our first beach visit. Then a big wave finished off their interest.

"Hey Avery, is that a big wave I see coming?"

"Nah Jordan, don't worry. It's nothing." "Yeah, you're probably right Avery."

"Oh crud! It is a wave!" Avery played chivalrous gentleman and did what he could to keep her upright. Not long after they both made a beeline for the sand and stayed there the rest of the week.

The others thought the waves were great. Grandad shared his surfing expertise.

Can it still be considered a "hang ten" when it's fingers hanging over the front of the board instead of toes?

"That was some righteous action, dude."

After the first day we headed off to the store for a second board.

The littlest Himstedt didn't care for getting knocked down by salty water either, but she definitely loved the beach.

Grandmom and the Himstedt girls

Jonathan and Jordan

Here's how crowded the beach was. We could barely find room to put our stuff down. We stayed in a hoity toity gated community (well, gated whole end of the island, really), where all the houses were big and the same color. We hauled most of our stuff on a small trailer borrowed from the Davidson family (thanks, Curtis!), and found out on our way down there that not only were trailers not allowed, neither was advertising on vehicles. If you've seen my Expedition you know it's a rolling billboard. After pleasant, but useless pleading with the gate Nazi, we took the trailer off site to the rental office, and covered our back windows with trash bags. "After all, we can't have it looking like a carnival around here," he said. Gee, everywhere we go FEELS a bit like a carnival with this crew, why not look like one too?

Two of my favorite vacation companions.

A zoom lens is a worthy investment. If you can sneak up on the kids from afar you can occasionally avoid goofy face pictures. I like this one. (The picture and the kid.)

Grandmom and Reagan. She's a one year old maniac around water. That always makes for a fun time for the parents!

We tried to spend as much time as we could in water of some kind. The house had a small pool in the back, just right for the kids. The water was about three degrees too cold for my taste since it was always in the shade, but the kids didn't have a problem with it. I didn't back in the day either, now I'm a weenie when it comes to cold water. I suffered for the cause, though, and spent plenty of time in it.

Elizabeth the juice box scavenger. No unattended drink is safe with her around.

What you're about to see next defies explanation. At least I caught it all on camera.

This one was practicing karate kicks into the pool.

Back to the beach. It was about a block's walk down the quiet neighborhood road.

I love this one. Two boards walking to the beach.

And a random bunny beside the sidewalk.

I'm here! The party can start now.

All of these pictures were taken slightly before The Great Jellyfish Attack of 2010. I was standing in the water with Amelia, Shannon, Jonathan, and my dad. Suddenly Amelia started screaming, then my dad and brother grabbed their legs too. I high tailed it out of the water with the kids in tow, hoping it didn't have it in for me and Shannon as well. It was near the end of the week, thankfully, so it didn't curb too much wave fun. Amelia looked like she had been thrashed thoroughly with a piece of barbed wire. She was very brave though, and it had to hurt more than she let on.

Jordan decided she liked Elizabeth's float system. We sent the yellow tutu looking tube home with them at the end of the week. It did a good job turning Avery and then Elizabeth into buoys the past few summers, but Elizabeth has now decided she prefers just arm floaties minus the spare tire around the middle.

Jonathan's GQ shot. I'm proud of my bro. He's lost nearly 50 pounds this past year and has now participated in two triathalons. James did the second one with him this past weekend, the results of which I'll share in a coming post in oh, say, three years at this rate.

It's nice that we never have to outgrow our love of playing in the sand.

I just thought James was looking pretty hot sitting there so I had to take a picture. I've always liked it when other girls give him a second glance. It's confirmation of my good choice. :) Sorry if that's TMI.

Elizabeth was probably telling my dad how to build a sand castle the right way. She likes to tell people what to do.

Back to the pool.

The kids had fun playing with Uncle Jon. At one point Shannon was standing on the edge of the pool, trying to get Jonathan to turn backwards so he could pounce on his back. Jonathan kept doing exactly what Shannon told him to. "Turn around." So he turned all the way around. "No, go that way." So he moved away the direction Shannon pointed. This went on for quite awhile, and Amelia who was observing the whole thing (and laughing) leaned over to me gesturing toward Jon and said in a low voice, "He isn't very smart."

In spite of the pool's diminutive size, James and Jonathan were able to exchange tips and tricks for triathalon swimming. The upside of the pool being small is that they could say they had swum 2,183 laps in 30 minutes.

Row, row, row your boogie board.

Another great thing about Hilton Head is that there are paved bike paths everywhere. You can pretty much get anywhere on the island by bicycle, as long as you're not in a big hurry to get there. Everywhere a road intersects a path you have to stop. But the highest point on the island is 10 feet above sea level, so it made for flat riding. It was beach cruiser territory for sure, so it was hard to know if we were extra cool or just dorky on our road bikes.

The kids had a blast. On two afternoons James and I were able to leave the younger ones napping with grandparents and take a long ride with Shannon and Amelia.

We rode to the harbour and visited our yacht. Looks like the hired help has been taking good care of it for us

Check it out, I WAS on this vacation! A picture to prove it.

And another one of Amelia and I goofing around, a much closer and scarier picture.

The lighthouse was our destination. Here it is.

Then we shocked our children by offering to buy them ice cream.

The mint chocolate chip Shannon and I both got was dripping and running in little streams off our cones the whole time we were trying to eat. I gave up trying to be neat after finishing off two napkins. This photo doesn't do justice to the amount of green goo that was actually on his face.

We headed back to the house after our trek to the lighthouse, and then went back to the same place in the car to check out the play ground.

The boys were pretending the tree house/deck was a pirate ship. Arghhh.

Aunt Lisa was happy to oblige Amelia's request for a spin.

Her eyes actually crossed a few times when she stopped spinning.

So Shannon wanted a turn, naturally.

He didn't fare quite so well. His face was nearing the color of his shirt when the ride was over and he sat on a bench for a long time afterwards. I was feeling his pain after giving it a try myself. Ugh.

Elizabeth was probably trying to tell Grandad what to do again.

There's our yacht again, on the far left.

We enjoyed hanging out in the house too. I read two books while on vacation, a first in about seven years.

It didn't take Jordan long to figure out that Amelia knew how to read.

Lisa's birthday was the day after we would go our separate ways, so we celebrated in advance.

There's nothing like turning 29 again. Done it myself a few times now.

I love how little kids will always try and help you blow out candles. Look at Jordan in the background. Not sure what Amelia was doing here...looks like she was hoping for bedtime to come soon.

It was a wonderful week, and a fantastic way to end the summer. I decided after vacation that fall could come and I wouldn't complain too much. Because fall always asks me, after all. I do miss swimming weather and I dislike the shortening of the days. It makes me feel claustrophobic with the dark closing in on both sides during hours when it's supposed to be light. But since I said I wouldn't complain too much, I'll quit now.

The days fell back into their regular routine upon our return home, including the school routine.

The trip served to solidify Elizabeth's love of her swim suit. I found her like this one day, with the other kids ready to "go on an adventure," they said. Wow.

Here's some of what we did for school the week after vacation. Amelia may be one of the only second graders studying World History, but we're having fun with it this year. Here she is writing her name in cuneiform, predecessor to hieroglyphics.

So maybe they didn't use pink clay, and maybe they didn't use a screwdriver as a writing instrument. We don't claim to be authentic around here, just resourceful.

Unfortunately we didn't realize our clay wasn't the air dry kind. So much for demonstrating the longevity of an archeological artifact. Oh well, it was still fun.

I hope to post the next installment of The Hopelessly Belated Himstedt Chronicles soon. See ya than!