Thursday, July 28, 2016

These Two

I have to take a moment to recognize my two daughters. I want them to know this summer was about more than just their baby brother. You ever look at your kids and realize you're actually quite impressed by them. These two continue to amaze me every day so yes I'm going to brag on my girls if you don't want to read any further.

They have made juggling three so much easier than I'm sure it usually is. I always say God sent my oldest first because he knew with no family around we would need this girl, and her little sister at just four years of age I think pitches in even more than she did at four because she follows her sister's lead.  As my oldest told me the other day she's going to be cooking us dinner before too long, and I have no doubt. I had to leave in the middle of making our olive oil with basil sauce and tomato pizzas the other day to nurse the baby, and she with the help of her sister they finished the pizza and put them in the oven so by the time I came out they were cooked and ready to eat. With so many meals being prepared throughout the day with all of us home I've come back again from having to take a break to feed the baby to finding a completely cleaned up kitchen with surfaces wiped down and dishes loaded in dishwasher and even occasionally washed by hand (with a little extra water on the floor but hey who am I  to complain). The girls started this summer helping with just putting their clothes away; they now sort laundry and know how to operate the washer. They decide one day to wash all the clothes in the laundry room for me to leave a nice huge pile for me to fold (but again who am I to complain). They've fed the baby, they've changed the baby (unless it's poo then Mom!), they've dressed the baby.

I wish I could explain the relationship these two have. It simply amazes me. I hope they know watching their love for each other is one of the greatest joys of my life as a mother. Now together they've turned that love and devotion on their little brother who just completely adores them in return.  They have so much love to give and it's one of the things I am most proud of as their mother. The world unfortunately will do its best to steal that from them, and I hope they know their love and compassion can be one of their greatest gifts to the world so I hope they never lose it.

Their imagination and creativity gives me a laugh almost every day whether it's playing school, barbies, horses and ponies, or house with their dolls. They always have a "story" their "characters" are living.

They are so smart. They will just share some random fact with me. Something I don't know like why cats have whiskers. I'll ask where they learned it and they'll just reply with a "from the books we read from the library" like duh, mom. They just soak everything in and remember EVERYTHING it seems like.

I want them to know they are going to do great things. Even in those tough moments, my girls, come back to the love in your heart, the creativity that makes you unique, and the smarts that will lead you to think for yourself. These three things will guide you to great places.

I cannot express how much I have loved watching you grow this summer. You really do give me so much love and joy. Don't ever forget that.

Check out my recent published essays and articles in other magazines and websites this summer

Home is Where the Work Is on Tribe Magazine

10 Things I've Learned in my Pursuit of Happiness on Lose the Cape

A Mother's Wish: I Hope you Always Dance

A Mother's Harshest Critic on The Red Tricycle

Make Momma's Happiness a Priority on The Red Tricycle

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Emotional Pendulum of Returning to Work

My emotions with returning back to work full time after being home with my children so much for the past five months are all over the place. I was really hoping I'd start to get bored from being home so much and be sick of my kids that I'd be more than ready for the break from them that working offers.

They definitely have their moments where they drive me crazy but I'm not sick of them or dying for a break from them. With three kids and my own agenda with working out and enjoying my personal hobbies like reading, writing, and (digital) scrap booking there's been little time for boredom. To say being home with this has been enjoyable would be an understatement.

I know my older two need to get back to our "normal" with their school, activities, and routines. But even though this is my third time it's still so hard to face leaving a baby when you go back to work. I loved my job last year. I'm super excited for new things I have coming up this school year. It's the knowing I'll be leaving him for ten hours a day that kills me. This is where that hour commute each way hits me. I love the school I've been at the past two years but it takes me away from him for at least an extra hour or so a day. But then I remind myself with the other two, more so my first  I had a second PT job 5-10 hours a week (my second was a year old before I went back to doing PT work after school) so at least I don't have that making going back to work harder for me this time.

Of course I always ask myself what about staying home. First it's always never been a possibility because I bring in half of our financial needs and with going into thirteen years on the salary scale with a Masters +30 degree as well as the extra stipends I get for other school projects I do I make too much money to not work. I've done the math. Even with a part time job that paid at $30 or so an hour and with no daycare costs we'd still lose half our income. Plus it'd setback my retirement goals, and those are kind of important to me.

Obviously money is the first thing I consider when it comes to my choice but the other is knowing myself. I need productivity in my life on an almost daily basis. I also crave to feel a part of something and feel like a contributor. At seven years into this working mom gig I know flaws and mistakes and all, I'm still a good mom. I'm not perfect by any means but I've also learned I don't have to be. I know now that I can be a good mom and a working contributor on different levels. Being a working mom makes me feel like I contribute productively on many levels. I'm contributing as an employer but also due to my job on a larger societal level. As I stated before being able to equally financially contribute on a family level is important to me. I understand in homes where one parent stays home they work out a contribution balance that works for them, but as someone who's had to pay for her own things the majority of her life having to depend on someone else financially would kill my perception of my own self worth. Whereas other girls/women may struggle with self image and worth due to appearance or weight for me it's more linked to my contributions and the productivity I accomplish. I need to be busy; I need to be doing. Modeling the balance of motherhood with a career and my own personal goals/ambitions to my girls is important to me. The world is so different today for women than it use to be generations ago, and I want them to know they can pursue their own ambitions one day too.

God knows I've considered other ways to be home more and still financially contribute and feel productive and a part of something, but I've invested 16 years (counting undergrad studies) into my career. Right now I'm happy in it again which is HUGE. I can't just abandon everything I've put in to get here where I am. However, I have to have a good year career wise this year because I already know from experience if I have a bad year that is when the guilt of not being home with my baby will consume me. If it's a good year and I'm happy I can manage the guilt. I know all too well the first two years away from your baby is when the guilt is at its worst ( after that I feel they benefit from my absence at work). The good news is this time our life is more together than it was when we brought the other two into our family. I won't have to pick up extra work throughout the school year, and I should be able to enjoy my summers home with them again.

I'm headed into this school year with mixed emotions. Excitement because I'm excited for what I'll be doing in and out of the classroom at work. Sad because it's always hard to leave your baby, and I'm going to be leaving him as he hits that seperation anxiety stage (at least I'm not the one dropping him off). And anxious because I worry about balancing it all and not feeling overwhelmed, and I want it to be great a year professionally and personally but worry I'll get in my own way at times.

Working is important to me. As much as teaching has drained me at times, whether it's the workload with the grading or at times the behavior of the kids or even their sometimes crazy parents, I take a lot of pride in my chosen profession. I, just like every teacher I know, really can make a difference whether it's through one child that just needs to connect with that one adult or through the lessons we pass on how to go out there and make our world a better place.

But I am also incredibly grateful for these past few months to be home with my children. Maybe that's why I didn't burn out of it like I kind of hoped I would. I knew it was a rare opportunity to thoroughly enjoy them in a way I haven't been able to in years, possibly ever. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't burn out because I can go back knowing I made the most of my time with them.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Working Towards a Better Healthier Me

I am going to hit numbers on the scale this month I haven't seen in 3.5 years. It's no big secret I've struggled the past 3.5 years. First with just being in a depressed unhappy rut in my life in which I gained 25 lbs over a year and a half. Then there was the struggle and the back and forth with having a viable pregnancy, and then with nine months of pregnancy the scale starts going in the opposite direction you want. But here I am three months postpartum, and I weigh 20lbs less right now than I did at this point two years ago right before we even started trying for baby #3.

Two years ago when I realized I had gained 25 lbs from my unhappy state of mind I got it in my head I needed to go back to making exercise a priority in my life for my mental health just as much as for my physical health and was determined to lose that crazy weight I gained in the past year and a half at that point, but then shortly after that my focus shifted to getting through a third pregnancy. Now that all that is behind me and I'm approaching 35 in the Fall I am determined once again to get rid of that weight (only five more pounds to go and then may try for a bit more), make exercise a part of my daily life again, and for the first time ever focus on changing my eating habits for the long run. Exercise use to be a part of my life on a regular basis, but then I used the excuse that I'm a mom and have a full time career to put it on the back burner. How I go about my eating is something I've never made a conscious choice about, but I've been set on cutting back the sugar I eat and eating more fruits and vegetables than I have in the past. For the most part I've been pretty successful with that for the past three months. Even my husband has gotten on board with me with that, and has quit buying his coke.

I've been getting in five workouts a week the past few weeks. I'm going on my fourth month of being more mindful of my eating and working out 3-5 times a week. The Fall is going to be the real challenge though. But I think I have it in my head if I can keep making this a priority, even as crazy as everything else may get at times with being gone ten hours a day, a baby to take care of, and two older kids in activities, making the time to work out can be the thing that mentally keeps me in a positive place to balance it all. I've already made the working out a habit. A habit I'll have for four months by then so I'm hoping knowing I already put in four months worth of work and made progress that it will be what motivates me to keep at it.

Eating better I've found too is a huge plus in feeling physically better. Eating poor I've learned makes you feel so bloated. Besides my setback with vacation I'm down to just having the occasional soda as a treat. I've had it twice in the past 2.5 weeks. I still like my ice cream probably at least once a week. The rest of the sugary stuff I've been avoiding pretty easily. Haven't been to any parties with some good cake recently but if it has butter cream frosting I'm sure I'll be eating it. One of the best pieces of advice I've been given about making a change with what I eat is the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% can be for those snacks and meals that are just oh so good but not so great for your health. Honestly, I'm probably eating more on a 75/25 ratio right now. If I can avoid my 3:00 after work sugar attack I should actually be able to do better with my eating in the Fall.

So I'm happy so far with the progress I've made but lacking confidence in myself to stick with it consistently enough in the Fall when I return to my "real" life. I want it all this Fall. My career with the little projects I'm looking forward to taking on this school year, valuable time with my family, and time for myself with fitness and my writing. But something always seems to have to give, and I don't want it to be any of them. They're all important but we shall see how the reality plays out starting in mid August. That will be when the real truth of this goal of mine begins.

Past Posts on my Journey to a Better, Healthier Me

10 Down and 5-15 More to Go

Weighing In


Friday, July 15, 2016

How Marriage is Like Riding a Bike

For our ninth anniversary my husband bought me a bike so I could ride now with my daughter and him. I love to get my exercise  outdoors when I can so now being able to add taking a long bike ride to my workout options is great. With the bike he wrote me this letter we'll call it. So here you go written by my husband, Nathan Glenn, How Marriage is Like Riding a Bike

Just like riding a bike our marriage requires a lot of moving parts in order to work. We have to have love, understanding, communication, and compassion. Like the spokes, tires, chains, and pedals of a bike if one is missing then it is incomplete and will not work.

Like riding a bike, our marriage requires balance and the right amount of speed. We have to keep working and keep pedaling at the correct speed. If we stop working, stop pedaling, then we lose our balance and wreck. If we pedal too fast it may be fun at first but eventually you get tired, lose your balance, and wreck.

Like riding a bike, our marriage can be a lot of fun and a lot of work at the same time. Sometimes it feels like we are pedaling uphill and is impossible but we can always change gears and slow down. Other times it feels like we are cruising downhill, enjoying the wind in our faces.

Like riding a bike, our marriage is an adventure that can and has taken us to beautiful places and allowed us to see beautiful things. Not only the family vacations and the beautiful scenery but more so the beauty of watching our children, their beautiful faces and the joy our marriage brings them, and the joy they bring to our marriage.

Like riding a bike, our marriage is full of ups and downs, hills and valleys, smooth paths and bumpy ones. Sometimes like riding a bike our marriage is crazy and we feel like we need a helmet. Sometimes like riding a bike we may fall and have to get back up, dust ourselves off, and get back on.

The adventure that we began nine years ago has been full of all these things. I am glad that I have gotten to enjoy this bike ride with you and I look forward to the trails that lay ahead.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Just Want to Hold On a Little Longer

This is it. After months mostly at home with my kids and completely out of our "normal" since I went on bed rest at the very end of February our six month break from that normal is coming to an end.

There are many things I'm excited about with the upcoming Fall professionally and personally, but I just want to hold onto right now a little longer. I love being there every morning when my kids get up whether it's now in the summer or back during the end of the school year when I'd get to walk my daughter to the bus stop every day. I love being able to cook them French toast any day that we feel like French toast; I still haven't mastered how to not burn the pancakes. I just want to hold onto being there in the morning with them a little longer.

Even though the girls do fight more now than they ever did they can also play so well together for hours on end. I love watching their imaginations and creativity come to life. Even in the moments when they turn my whole staircase into a tripping hazard for their pretend school bus. I can't even count how many times I just watch them and just say, "you're just so cute right now." They're going to outgrow this innocent imaginative world. I just want to hold onto it a little longer.

The baby is already three months old. I love that he kicks his little legs in excitement now when he sees me. Oh, and I can just sit in that rocking chair with his sweet small little body curled against my chest without a thought to being anywhere else in that moment. There's no rush; there's just me and him. I just want to hold onto those fleeting moments of his infancy a little longer.

Spending my days watching the love between the three of them continue to grow has to be one of the greatest joys of parenting. The girls want to be a part of taking care of him and he just soaks up any attention they'll give him. I just want to hold onto these days of watching their love blossom a little longer.

It's so true what they say about these years going so fast. They will outgrow their childhood before I know it. I just want to hold onto these days home with my children in these wonder years of their childhood a little bit longer.

The Supermom Test

I recently read an article about supermom being a myth, and she is. Or we're all just supermom. Either way I have this fun little list of supermom powers that will show that we're all supermom or supermom in the making.

1. Eyes in the back of our head: Do you know when your children are up to no good even when you're not looking at them? Mine are so convinced I have eyes in the back of my head my oldest once asked me if it hurt when I grew the eyes in the back of my head when I became a mother. Nine months of pregnancy and 30 hours of labor, yes, I would say it definitely hurts growing those eyes in the back of our head.

2. Superhuman hearing: Do you know how your children are up to no good when they're trying to be super quiet. We can pick up those quiet noises they think they're not making (or we all just know silence is never a good sign, right?)

3. Power of being a master juggler: Your juggling act puts that circus clown with the three balls of fire to shame right. You cooked dinner, took care of the kids, did a load of laundry, and did a better job than the clown at not burning anything, right? (I may have to work on this one as I have burnt and created a few small fires in my juggling acts but maybe you have this one down)

4. Invisibility: Everyone wants the power to be invisible, right? Mom has it. She takes care of everything and everyone the majority of the time. However, it appears she must be invisible for the lack of notice she gets sometimes.

See we are all supermoms because I'm pretty sure we have some, if not all, of these things on this list mastered.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Let Me Sell you Happily Ever After

We all want the idea of happily ever after, the happy ending, the American Dream. Whatever the embodiment of the perfect life is. We tend to associate those ideas with a happy life. No matter what you call it you better be ready to work for it. I'm not just talking about the strong work ethic that goes into your job. You'll need that too, but that's only about a quarter to a half of what you're going to spend your life busting your ass at.

You're going to have to work at  your marriage. That prince you envisioned. Yeah, he's flawed. I hate to say it, princess, but so are you. In the imperfect world that is life, those flaws and imperfections that make you you and him him are going to clash at times, create problems that need some serious fixing, which in turn is going to lead to a need for a lot of work on both of your parts.

That home you've always dreamed of owning. It's a neverending work in progress. Not only are you going to have to work financially to buy it in the first place, but if it's not the personal projects you desire to take on to make it the home you envision, don't worry, something will break or go wrong on a fairly regular enough basis. It will leave you contemplating that maybe you should sell the American Dream off to the highest bidder.

We all know that happily ever after and the American Dream come with a pretty price tag. Not only are you going to have to work hard at your chosen profession to bring home a paycheck, but you'll find yourself mentally taxing yourself to figure out the number game to continue to afford it all. Sometimes you'll see to hold onto it all, you're going to have to be willing to step up your game whether it means being disciplined with your money or busting your butt more to work more to make more.

The little princes and princesses we envision in our happily ever after story. The hard work that goes into them will bypass what you put into a career, into owing a home, into building and maintaining your finances, and everything else you've ever had to work hard at.

It's all possible-the marriage, the family, the house, the career, the financial stability, but it doesn't fall in anyone's lap. It's not a work and be done kind of accomplishment. It takes hard work. Continuous work.

I can sell you happily ever after. I can sell you the American Dream but if you don't fully invest yourself and then even more you won't have it because it's not given to you.
. But I see people live it everyday. It's a flawed, imperfect reality but it can be more than you envisioned if you put in the work.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

To Stay or To Go..If It's a Choice

I have to hash some things out in my head so forgive this post for being more all over the place than normal.

My husband back during the week our son was born interviewed to get into our school district's administration pool and he did! Which is great because he's been working towards this for two + years if you add in the years of grad school on top of the past two. However it's a big pool even for as big of a school district we are. Just recently they've posted a few openings that wouldn't be too bad of a commute for him so even though the process is just beginning we've already been talking plan B if he doesn't get an administration job within the next three summers. Rather than reapplying to get into the pool at the end of this two half year window he says we'll move.  Because of where we live on the MD/PA line there are minimal other options from here other than our current district. Other options would require us to move which we're not against. In fact we've even talked about how if he got a year or two of admin experience how we'd still possibly consider relocating.

Here's where I find myself stuck. Luckily right now he's currently in a great position as a Title I coordinator already doing lots of admin work just without the pay so he's willing to wait his way through this process for the next two school years. On one hand I would love the opportunity to relocate and experience a new place but on the other I fear and dread the work that I KNOW firsthand that goes into starting over. We have a good thing here and we know it, but we've also never stayed in the same area for longer than 6.5 years (we've lived in small town Missouri, bigger city Kansas, the hustle and bustle of DC, the appeals of city life in Baltimore, and back to smalltown America in northern Maryland in the twelve years we've been together) and there's something appealing about moving around and experiencing different environments. The appeal of city life verse country life fascinates me. The difference between East Coast life and Midwest life fascinates me. I love it all and to forever commit to one is a little more difficult for us than I thought it would be. For us to reconsider later a year or two from now when it's time to decide if we're going or staying  here are my whys or pros and cons of each.

Let's start with the cons of relocating:

-If out of state the potential setback to our retirement and pension goals
-Loss of tenureship and seniority
-loss of money/income and benefits (as based on what I know from friends in other states MD is one of the best for teachers pay and benefits)
-the process of selling our house and moving in general
-leaving all the friends we made here

The pros of relocating:

-would LOVE the experience of a new area of the US or the state of Maryland (Eastern Shore)
-think teaching my kids to adapt to change and not fear change is a valuable experience
-new friends, new relationships
-possibly closer to our families (but could be farther too)
-newer closer vacation places to explore
-the chance to work where we raise our family (it's very unlikely we'll ever work in the same community we're raising our kids in right now)

We toss this idea around about every year or two so I know there's a part of us that really wants to pack it up and go. Go experience living life somewhere else. It's such a big fascinating world out there to see and as he reminds me we only have one life to live. So why not spend that life experiencing as many different places as possible. Why stay strapped to the same place for your whole life?

Yet there's also that part that says we have a good thing here. We put a lot of work and effort into building a life here on our own, and we've just in the last year got to place professionally, financially, and personally with our marriage/family goals that we've spent years working towards. How good of an idea is it to leave it behind and start over again? We'd give up a lot of things here and there's always the question of if the risk is worth it?

Five years tops is the deciding moment. Our oldest will be almost a teenager and in middle school and the baby will be starting kindergarten. If we're staying we'll look to buy THE house, the forever home, the dream house. Once we buy that we're here for good even through retirement. I'll be honest I don't know if I want to shackle myself to one place forever, but I also don't like the idea of leaving all the great things we have here behind.

Luckily the decision is for another day and depending on how the job hope goes in the admin pool it may not even be much of a choice. Guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

                  I'll go with the beach picture because one of the things we've discussed is if we're going to pack it all and start over let's do it closer to the beach

Friday, July 8, 2016

Am I going to Miss Having a Baby????

My baby will be three months on Monday. We are to the point of saying good bye to our first last of raising children. As we approach three months we are saying good bye to the last newborn phase of our parenthood life.

I am 90% sure we're done having kids. The other 10% is more for the chance of me forgetting to take my pill and accidently getting knocked up. As I well know this last year with a baby is going to fly by and before I know it he will be all over the place, there will be bins of clothes packed up to hand over to someone else, and I will part with baby items like the swing and baby gym that I've had for over seven years and has gone through three babies. My baby will become a toddler and again in a blink a little boy. Our days of a baby in the house will once again be behind us and for forever this time ( until we have little grandkids running around in like 20 years of course). I  keep asking myself am I going to miss having a baby in my house or in our life?

The other day I was holding and snuggling on him and sent my sisters a message about how much I do actually love having a baby. Even with all the crying and dependency and the baby things that drive me crazy there's nothing quite like holding a cuddly squishy baby with chubby cheeks to kiss. Yet I look at my girls and no matter the baby experience I had with them because if you recall it was two totally different experiences I don't really miss or yearn for those days of their infancy. I look at them now as the seven and four year old little girls they are and I don't recall ever wishing to go back to the earlier days of their childhood.  It always seems like the stranger in the store wants to tell you to enjoy them babies now as if they won't be as enjoyable later because they'll get sassy like my middle one or overly bossy like my oldest one.

Call me crazy but I feel like with every age they are I think it's the best age. Each age has had its annoyances but so many things to enjoy too. I loved age 2 and 3 with both of them which everyone always seems to hate. Neither of them are big temper tantrum throwers so throwing fits was nothing that ever marked those years in my memory, and they were fast talkers so I think being able to communicate helped. They learned early no was no and don't ask again. It was the beginning of them becoming their own little person even if being that little person involved getting into mischief with her curious little personality or standing her ground in toddler defiance. I didn't wish to stop my toddler or little girl's growth forward to revert her back to a passive baby that had no say in how her day went.

Sure when my oldest hit six I was asking other moms if there was some pre puberty phase they hit at six because she was overly emotional and a little snotty in ways she had never been but really it's just here and there and she's still such a good big hearted kid that wants to the right things and hates to disappoint. I still say she was the blessing I needed first to help me/us with raising our family out here alone. She may have a fearless, risk taker streak but you can't get a much more responsible kid than her.  That sassy attitude I knew was there all along appears to have just gotten stronger as my middle one reached four but that girl loves her family. I love hearing her pray for her family at night in our little late night chats because she NEVER wants to go to sleep, and she has such a big heart too because she will do everything in her little power to make her big sister feel better when her sister's upset even if she's the one that made her upset.

Looking at his two big sisters and knowing the love I had and currently have for them I know I won't miss the baby phase. When I look back I don't think it will be babies I will miss having in my house; it will be years down the road when they've grown up and left that I will possibly miss having them as children in my house. No matter the age just having them there with us every day living this family life that I know they love as much as we do is what I will miss, not necessarily the infant, the toddler, the preschooler, the little girl or boy, the tween or teen, but just the experience of watching them grow into their own person.

This is just the beginning of watching the last childhood blossom in our care; there is so much more to come for him in the years ahead that I won't really miss saying good bye to him as a baby because I can't wait to see who he is as he enters the other phases of his childhood.

                                                                  My baby boy
My little firecracker

                                                               The future little mommy

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Real Truth of Vacationing with Two and a Baby

When each of the girls were a baby we didn't do a family vacation. Our vacation for those summers were one two week trip to Mo and Pa to see our families. At least once there we had reinforcements or could hand the baby off for maybe an evening vacation of just us two. But baby #3 we're experts with this by now, right? Not so much.

Honestly if we could go back and decide again I think we would have made a different decision for this week. We didn't even know where to go a month ago. We looked at Outer Banks, Cape May New Jersey, even up in Maine, and last Hilton Head Island. Maine and Hilton Head were the farthest away but with Maine I figured we'd want to go out and about everyday exploring and thought it'd be too difficult with hauling a baby around. The beach sounded good because we could spend our days laying on the beach but our concern with Cape May was it's been so cold we thought the water wouldn't be very warm so we decided on going south. We weren't fast enough to catch the groupon deal for OBX so we went with Hilton Head.

The water was definitely warm. I've been in the ocean by us in July and it's freezing so the warm water was a plus. However besides checking out Boone Hall's plantation in Charleston before we even got to Hilton Head we didn't do anything while we were down there. All our other beach trips we've done mini golfing and go carts, dolphin cruise, and checked out lighthouses and aquariums. Honestly for what we did we could have saved ourselves the ten hour drive and $200 worth of gas and went to a closer beach.

We stayed in a waterfront condo, which this was our third year vacationing in a condo after our stay in a dingy Myrtle Beach hotel four years ago, so as always the condos are so much better to stay in for us than hotels now that there are five of us. We always have either a second bedroom for the girls to sleep in or those hallway bunk beds even though for two of the nights this time the girls opted to sleep on the pullout couch instead of the bunk beds. The other nice thing about the condos is we always buy groceries and limit our eating out to one time a day. But whether it was the grocery bill for three days or the meals out, man is it expensive to feed all of us!

We were on the third floor this time which normally would be great because the higher you are the better views of the ocean; however, there was no elevator! So not only did we have to haul all our luggage up there and the groceries, but the baby whether it was in that heavy carseat  carrier or one of the times I had to carry him from the third floor all the way down to the beach which was still quite a walk once we left our building. There is a shit ton of stuff to haul down to the beach when  you have three kids! We made the girls carry their own weight but my youngest daughter wanted to whine that everything was too heavy so she was told if she wanted it carry it; otherwise leave it. She sucked it up and carried what she wanted. We bought this tent thing to shade the baby, and yes I know to keep a two month old out of the sun but I think we burnt the poor kid anyway. I had given him to my husband to feed him a bottle while I ran back up to the condo with the girls to pack up a picnic lunch. I guess the tide came in and somehow by himself with the baby he had to pull everything back up on the beach so by the time he sat back down to feed him I guess he was exposed to the sun too long.

Between the constant hauling of everything everywhere and the exhaustion of the needs of three we kept saying we were going to give ourselves a day of drinking and lounging all day. Do you know what that drinking all day consisted of? Two cocktails and usually passed out by midnight with anywhere from 1-3 kids between us. One night I had a screaming hungry baby, a four year old asking over and over again for someone to get her chocolate milk, and the oldest hollering from the bathroom asking for help to get all the sand out of her hair. It's exhausting. Seriously considering our first no kids vacation next year sometime.

Vacation or not there s still a screaming baby and fighting girls. And they all want something as soon as you sit down to relax so in all honesty we've had better vacations. Hilton Head also wasn't what I expected. Unlike some of the other beaches I've gone to there was no main strip to drive down where the beach/ocean was off to one side. If you didn't travel back to a resort area on the water you wouldn't even know it was a beach area. It also didn't have the usual tourists stuff like the gazillion souvenir shops or an area full of mini golf and go carts. It's known as an area for golfers so maybe if we were down there with my dad and brothers in law it would have been more fitting as my husband and them like to golf. I've been to beaches with and without a boardwalk. My husband could probably take or leave the boardwalk, but I kind of like the beach boardwalk scene. Makes me feel more like I'm at the beach.

It probably won't make the Glenn most memorable vacation list (those I would say would be Mexico, California, Outer Banks, Nashville, Disney, and Gulf Shores, Alabama)  but it was still nice to spend quality time together. Whereas my girls usually play more in the sand rather than the water they were in the water almost nonstop. As I said though the water was fabulous.

We pack it up and try this again in a month with our trip out to MO to see family. We were contemplating a tourist stop in St. Louis and Chicago, but might be rethinking that now.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the week though. There is always something calming and peaceful about the beach even when it's more work than you anticipated.

                                                                  Me and my crew
                                           I do love watching them play in the ocean together
                                                            My little beach baby
                                           The sun in the palm of my oldest daughter's hand
                                                           Watching a little tv together
                                                          Boone Hall Plantation
                                                            Sunrise on the beach
                                                                    Those eyes
                                                        Boogie boarding
                                                                      Silly girls
                                                     My oldest at sunrise
                                                      Last walk on the beach
                                                              Daddy's girls

                                                        Loving the ocean
     The little screamer; don't let the cuteness fool you

                                                                    Our beach babes
                                                            She loves her chocolate. LOL

                                                            Love this family photo


                                                                My pretty girl
                                                                The looks say it all. LOL

                                                             My little man
                                                               Baby toes in the sand
                                                                Handstands on the beach

                                                   Everything we needed for one night!

                                                       Love these shots of my girls

                                                             Boogy boarding with Daddy
                                                         When they're not fighting.