Monday, September 12, 2016

Labor Day Beach Vacay

Jonathan and I (especially me) are not exactly spontaneous people. I particularly love a well-planned trip with plenty of time to prepare and do my research. Our goal is to go on one family vacation each time he’s home, resulting in 6 such trips a year. Some will be fairly simple and inexpensive and some will be all-out dream vacations. 

When he left for his first hitch we were kind of burnt out from the move and didn’t really have anything planned for when he got back in September. We would throw ideas out via facetime while he was in Angola but never really hammered out any details and it was really hard for us to brainstorm together with such a time difference. We decided that maybe this first hitch we should just do something in driving distance that would be easy to plan last minute. 

When Hurricane Hermine threatened the gulf coast and then veered away Labor Day weekend, Jon’s parents condo in Orange Beach was suddenly available for the holiday and as luck would have it, my parents would also be at their condo 10 minutes down the road at the same time. So on the very day that Jonathan got home from Angola and Forest started preschool, we decided to pack our bags and leave before dawn the next morning for a 9 hour drive to the beach. 

We were clearly delirious with adrenaline because come 4:30 the next morning it felt like a totally hair-brained idea. We were hopeful that waking Forest up 2 hours before his natural wake time would mean he’d snooze in the car. Our plan was to minimally wake him, plop him in the car and then stop for breakfast once he woke up for the morning. Hahaha. We really should have known better. 

While I was still sneaking around his room packing up his baby monitor and white nose machine he popped right up and started an excited stream of conscious monologue: ‘Where are we going? Are we going to the beach? Is it dark outside? This is so neat! Are we going to ride on a boat?’ and he maintained that enthusiasm for the following few hours meaning there was no snoozing happening in our car.  

I can’t complain too much because the kid is a seriously awesome traveler, but he majorly struggles with sleeping on-the-go. He did throw us a 50 minute nap later on which is pretty miraculous these days. I just remember my parents waking me up in the dead of night for road trips and me falling back asleep before we even got out of the driveway. Obviously Forest did not inherit this trait from me. Anyhoos, we made it there in about 9 hours which with a dog and a potty trained toddler is pretty good time. 
Samson is our good sleeper.
We rushed right out to the beach to let F run some sillies out and were not expecting the fact that the nearby hurricane had caused some gorgeous tide pools to form on the beaches. This was perfect because it allowed Forest to get his swim fix in baby-pool-like conditions without being too tempted to run straight for the massive surf. 

When it comes to water we have learned that he simply can’t help himself. It’s like a magnet that pulls him in. 

That night my mom cooked a delicious summer meal of chicken and angel hair pasta with lemon and spinach and Jonathan’s parents came over to eat with us and spend time with Forest. The next day, the boys headed out on my dad’s new boat while my mom and I got our nails done and got Starbucks afterward. What we didn’t realize at the time was this was the only day of good weather that we were going to get! Luckily we spent the entire afternoon riding on the boat and going out to eat on the water so we got to enjoy it to the fullest. 

The next morning we moved from my parents’ condo to stay with Jon’s parents. The weather turned gloomy and rained quite a bit but there was never any lightning so we still spent plenty of time at the beach and in the baby pool.   

The following day Jon’s brother, his girlfriend and their (almost) two year old daughter came to stay as well. It was great to see the cousins interacting. Last time they saw each other they had both just turned 2 and 1 so the interactions were basically Forest protectively hoarding his toys and saying 'No Rayne! That's mine!' (such a charming age). This time around, Forest exclusively called her ‘my friend’ instead of ‘my cousin’ or by her name. It was really sweet. Anytime he saw her he’d say ’my friend is coming!’. 

He had another friend to play with when one of Jon’s college buddies who lives in the area came by with his wife and their daughter who is only a week younger than Forest. I swear these two look like twins. Its uncanny how similar their facial features are. 

For our final evening we headed to my parents’ condo for dinner and some seashell hunting on the beach. 

We left bright and early the next morning for our return trip. 
Once again, Forest didn’t fall back asleep in the morning and unfortunately only snoozed 30 minutes the whole time and apparently decided that waking up before 6 is actually awesome and we’ve been trying to break him of the habit ever since…. 

Our first family vacation on the 28/28 schedule is complete. We were supposed to go to Mexico in November but that's been switched to December so now we need to do some brainstorming about what to do next. We are leaning towards Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains. Any other suggestions for fun fall holidays? I'm majorly craving crisp fall weather and gorgeous foliage.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Forest's First Day and Beyond

Forest is officially a preschooler. On the first day he was raring to go and so excited to get to school. But y’all, his preschool is massive.  Everything is bigger in Texas and  I swear there are more people running around that campus than there are populations of some small towns. I think there are maybe 400-600 students enrolled between the Toddlers-Pre-K classrooms. 

The doors are locked until 9 AM at which point you can escort your child to their classroom. While the 3+ year olds normally have a car line, during the first week it’s standard that every kiddo be hand delivered to their classroom by their caregiver so basically there was a pack of people and then a small child stampede rushing inside once the doors were opened for business. 

At that point, Forest got pretty overwhelmed and held on tightly to my hand. The first week, they are ok with parents walking into the classroom with their tot but after that they really want you to just say a quick goodbye before ushering them into the door. I didn’t expect Forest to have any issues so was surprised when I had to pry him off of my leg upon leaving. It was heartbreaking to leave him crying in his teacher's arms but I knew lingering around would only make it worse. 

The policy is that if your child is crying at drop off then they want you to hang around in the lobby for 10-15 minutes before leaving the premises just to make sure they calm down, otherwise they’ll call you in to reassure them before trying to exit again. I was surprised that amongst all of the toddlers and 2 year olds I seemed to be the only parent required to do this on the very first day of school! 

After my 10-15 minute wait time they walkie talkied the classroom to check on him and I was assured that he calmed right down and was doing ‘perfect!’ so I was dismissed to leave. Phew! I was relieved but still a little surprised that he got so upset in the first place. Especially since Jonathan got home from Angola that morning and we were very careful about Forest not seeing him beforehand because I was worried that might cause some major separation anxiety to be taken away from his daddy after not seeing him for 30 days. Oh well. 

Jonathan came with me to pick him up and Forest’s face was so shocked and happy and he kept yelling ‘Daddy’s back from Ango-WA!’. 

His teacher assured us he did amazing and the whole way home he went on and on about how he learned to roll play doh into a ball. So stinkin cute. 

The next time at drop off he seemed really excited once again but I braced myself for the resistance at the door. Instead he let go of my hand and marched right inside without so much as a backward glance at momma. Terrific for him but I was wishing I’d gotten a goodbye hug at least. 

When I picked him up from school he just looked so happy and grown up and his teacher exclaimed ‘He is just the sweetest child in the whole world!’ so that made me feel good. I was a little worried he’d be the kid in class who drove her to drink. Ha! It’s still early times so that might end up being the case but at least he’s off to a good start. So far we are both loving this preschool thing!