Normally I try to blog while on vacation because otherwise I miss important details and cute stories and also because between our two cameras Ryan and I tend to be a little picture happy and one blog post with five hundred pictures seems excessive and unlikely to be read, but this year we had a tenuous internet connection and a shared computer so that didn't happen. But we are back now and I've waded through the pictures and divided them roughly into categories for posting. But before we get to that, let me just tell you how delightfully behaved children who have traveled for twelve hours beginning at three o'clock in the morning can be. Like, laughing maniacally as they deliberately pour a Diet Coke all over the back seat of the van, gleefully shrieking as they sprint through the aisles of Academy while shopping for back to school shoes (which, they are wearing uniforms this year and so needed plain, single-colored shoes, not "epic" shoes, which is what Charley wanted, Vans to the rescue! Somehow these are both "epic" and satisfy the uniform requirements), and supplying smart retorts to even the simplest request, i.e. "James, please put on your shoes, we are going to the store," to which he replied "YOU A BAD BOY!!! DANG IT!!!" Alrighty then.
Here we are at the airport bright and early last Friday morning. Once we learned that the children really only wear pajamas, swimsuit, or naked while in Maine, we really were able to streamline our packing. This is honestly less crap than we took on our first trip to Maine with Charley, seven years ago, and that was also a job interview trip for Ryan in which we were picked up by a driver who politely did not comment on the volume of stuff he had to put in the trunk. Also, Wes is wearing his "crowd shirt" that we put him in when we go to crowded places. He's a bit of a wanderer.
Fourth baby took a nap on the airplane floor. I returned from the bathroom slightly alarmed that I could not see Mary until Ryan calmly picked up his drink, folded up his tray table, and THERE SHE WAS! I don't know why we never thought of this before.
After six hours of flights, we got in the car for the four hour drive to Maine from Boston. The kids were understandably disappointed that we didn't walk off the plane into the middle of a magical harbor scene so that part of the trip was awful. But then we got there and ate hot dogs and everyone ran down to the beach and I had a beer and BOOM, it was vacation.
Ryan made popovers the next morning. He makes the best popovers. They always pop!
And sometime around seven thirty we all trooped down to the dock for some fishing and swimming. Charley and Wes used bacon and a fishing pole to catch four huge green crabs that they then stashed in the lobster car for safe keeping.
James started screaming right after this picture was taken and we finally realized that his foot had grazed a rock and he thought he was being attacked by a lobster. Took some coaxing to get him to go in after that. BUT! He was the first kid in this year!
Charley and Wes swam out to this "island" that only exists at low tide (and is right near the dock).
Later there was a boat picnic.
And then some kids from across the street came over and Charley went with them down to the boat ramp. They were down there for about an hour doing who knows what and came back running across the yard with a net full of something I couldn't identify. They took the net down to the dock where they stayed for another hour, happy as can be. Mary and James were asleep this entire time and Ryan had taken Wes out for a rowboat ride meaning this is the most VACATION vacation had ever felt like EVER.
A couple of hours later I went down to get something off the dock and heard an odd knocking sound coming from the lobster car. When I opened it up I found that the boys had added nearly A HUNDRED HERMIT CRABS to the four green crabs they had caught that morning. To my horror, the green crabs were systematically ripping the hermit crabs out of their shells and eating them like Snickers bars, the little freaks. I ran back to the house for a large plastic container and then rehomed the hermit crabs to a safer habitat. This entailed hanging over the dock and reaching into freezing, crab-infested water over and over again to move all the hermit crabs over to their new home, where they then started eating EACH OTHER. Nature is kind of a jerk.
The wildlife drama continued that afternoon when a cousin came over and caught a SQUID with his fishing pole, which was awesome. Everyone was trying to get a look at it and it had been out of the water for a long time, so I suggested we put it in the lobster car for a little while. As soon as it was in the lobster car, with everyone standing around looking at it, a crab clamped its claw down on the squid's tentacles which made the squid turn BRIGHT RED. Then it filled the whole lobster car with ink and shot around the water in spastic circles, the crab still hanging onto the tentacles. I panicked and used the net to set all the crabs free because I had no idea who was going to kill and eat who and I really didn't want the kids to watch that happen. Charley will probably never forgive me for letting his crabs go, which is why later I agreed to row him, James, and the enormous underbed storage box full of water and a hundred hermit crabs across the bay, back to the boat ramp to be released back into the wild JUST LIKE that Nature about otter rehabilitation we watched last week.
The next day we needed a break from marine biology camp so we rode the trolley into the harbor for some nice normal family vacation fun. Mary does not like happy family photo time. Charley looks exhausted. Wes is hanging in there.
On the advice of my friend, we went to a new tidepooling place during low tide one day. The first thing the kids did was run-walk across two-hundred yards of seaweed covered rocks to the very edge of the beach where the waves were crashing. They did this because things are only fun if there is a real possibility of death. When I finally caught up with them enough to yell instructions, I told them not to go any further. The waves were crashing right on the other side of the rock. I took my eyes off of them for a moment to pick my way across the rocks and only looked back up when I heard crazy-person laughter and yelling and "DUDE, that was AWESOME!!!" to see James army crawling over the top of the rock holding a Croc in each hand. Charley explained gleefully "THAT WAVE TOOK JAMES'S SHOES *RIGHT OFF!*"
Wes could not resist the waves. Fortunately the tide went out a little further and it was much less Perfect Storm.
Mary did not understand the freaking point of freaking tidepooling and eventually went to sleep.
I spent a lot of time keeping James from killing himself on a rock. So worth it, though. Best tidepooling beach I'd ever been to. And none of the animals were eating each other like back at our house. WIN WIN.
When it was time to go I asked Charley to put his shoes (black Crocs) back on so we could leave and he said he didn't know where they were but that he had taken them off somewhere on the beach. This beach. Black Crocs. Miraculously he found them in only a few minutes.
It's ten o'clock and this is way long so I'll leave you with this picture of Wes eating lobster and will write more tomorrow (about Beans! Tubing! Leaking airplanes! S'mores! So much Maine-y goodness!). I am hoping their behavior is modestly improved by a second full night of sleep but if not, HEY, it's their Sunday school teacher's problem for the morning anyway!!