This weekend was our annual family beach trip. My siblings and our families pick a weekend every fall, drive four hours to Myrtle Beach, and stay at the same hotel. With less than 48 hours at the beach and a total of 24 family members, we keep a full itinerary. Here are the highlights from our trip this year:
Jesse took the day off from work, which meant we had the luxury of stopping along the way and still arriving at the beach at a reasonable time. Jackson spent most of the ride coloring, playing on his LeadPad, or sleeping. The babies slept or talked to themselves.
We planned ahead to make all of our meals. With a family of six, we don't have the budget to eat out for every meal. We packed plenty of food and had a leisurely lunch at the halfway point. We stopped at a random open field adjacent to a strip mall. Jackson and I raced around and the trio had a chance to walk around. This picture makes me laugh because Jesse insisted we call him "the road king" and repeatedly pointed to his hat.
Before checking-in at the hotel, we made a quick stop at a grocery store for refrigerated items (soy milk, cheese, ham, butter). Check-in was painless, though it took multiple trips to the van to get everyone/everything. I was pleased when the three cribs we requested were already in our room.
We barely had time to unpack and change everyone into costumes (aka turtle pajamas) before we met up with my family at Broadway-at-the-Beach. It was a fun change of pace to spend Halloween at the beach.
Unfortunately, not all of our family was able to make it to Broadway in time for trick-or-treating. This picture is still missing five cousins!
The triplets were only three months old last Halloween, so this year was their first time trick-or-treating. They were indifferent, but Jackson had enough fun for everyone.
We rushed to make and eat mac-n-cheese and turkey hotdogs. Since we didn't have room in the van to take our high chairs, all meals were served on a sheet on the floor for the trio.
And just because I love them, here is a picture with my siblings. I frequently wonder how my parents would react to all of our kids and how each of us have grown and matured.
It was well after 9 pm when we returned to our hotel room. Everyone was beyond exhausted from the day of driving and late night adventures. Thankfully all four kids fell asleep easily.
Jesse and I awoke to three pantless, jumping turtles.
The forecast called for a cool, rainy day. We dressed the kids and headed to the beach immediately after breakfast before the rain began. The clouds were rolling in quickly. I requested a family picture before we even put the kids down. This was probably the best one:
After nearly getting stranded in the deep gullies last year, we chose not to bring the stroller out onto the beach this year. This meant we were unable to go for long walks to the pier, but each kid could explore the sand and put their feet in the ocean.
James absolutely loved the beach. I'm not sure he would have ever tired of throwing sand.
The girls were much less amused. Amelia refused to let go of her blankie. Maddie cried every time her feet touched the sand or water. Jackson was content, but not overjoyed.
Once the rain began, we hurried back to the hotel to change into swimsuits. All four kids loved the hotel pool. We alternated between holding the kids, putting them in floats, and letting them play in the 1-foot baby pool.
Jesse and I were able to spend a few minutes in the hot tub while my sisters and nieces held the kids. We dipped the trio's feet in the hot tub. By that point, they were barely conscious after a busy morning.
Apparently the beach and pool wore everyone out. I was the only one who did not require a late morning nap. I guess someone had to prepare lunch.
It poured all afternoon! We didn't want to spend the entire day in the hotel, but the weather obviously ruled out the boardwalk and mini-golf. Jesse found a Groupon for the Children's Museum of South Carolina. We only paid $16 for all six of us. It was very similar to the museum we frequent at home. There were developmentally appropriate activities for each kid.
Jackson's MiMi had given him money to spend at the beach. After the museum we took Jack to a Wings (or Eagles? or Pacific? One of those beach stores that all sell the same merchandise). Jackson picked out a police set that included a gun, handcuffs, and glasses. He also bought a ninja set with nunchucks, blades, and daggars.
We spent the late afternoon in the hotel. The trio napped while I took Jackson swimming and Jesse
burnt baked bread for the traditional spaghetti dinner.
The entire family reunited in my oldest sister's hotel room for our spaghetti dinner. We were also able to celebrate my niece's 4th birthday with cake and cookies.
Jesse and I had discussed asking our oldest nieces if they would hang out with Jackson while the trio slept. We were hoping to have a chance to relax in the hot tub, just the two of us. I was more than ready, but Jesse was in bed not ten minutes after we laid the triplets down. Lame! I went to Krispy Kreme with my oldest sister's family.
Thanks to Daylight Savings, James and Amelia woke us up at 6:30 a.m. (So much for the extra hour...) Though I did not get to sleep in, I was able to watch a spectacular sunrise from our balcony.
Amelia accompanied me on the balcony.
Before check-out, we took another sibling picture. Both of my brothers had driven home after dinner last night, so my sisters and I were the only ones left.
After the sibling shot, I realized Jesse and I hadn't taken a single picture of the two of us. I had nearly a hundred of the kids, but none of us. It's such a reminder of how we put the kids before ourselves. I'm not entirely sure if that's good or bad. Either way, our love is the foundation of our family.
Just before leaving we took one more walk on the beach. Though it was finally sunny, it was even colder and very windy. Once again, the girls were unimpressed.
James, on the other hand, was in his happy place.
James kept laughing and throwing sand. Amelia walked right up to him and started talking with authority. I can only imagine she was telling him she was ready to go.
Even Jackson was over it by that point.
After one last sweep of the hotel room, we loaded everyone in the van. It took me the final day to realize it was a lot easier to use a bell cart to maneuver the kids down hallways and elevators.
Our ride home was uneventful. I reread one of my favorite books to prepare for book club. We stopped halfway for brunch at Shoney's. (Only the finest of dining for our family) All six of us were so thrown off of our regular schedule, we're still recovering nearly a day later!