Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Great Memories 2016 Vacation: Giddy Waving Back to the Ocean

Not surprisingly, this was Gideon's first time at the beach. I've been excited about taking him all summer--long before we knew this trip would actually be a reality.  A long time ago, I bought him the board book Llama Llama Sand and Sun, but I'm not sure he knew what to make of that.  He enjoyed the touch-and-feel illustrations, but it's hard to understand the scope of the ocean until you're standing on the shore.  






The ocean view from our balcony was stunning, but Giddy barely noticed that.  He was more interested in the turtles painted on the bottom of the kiddie pool.  When we walked out onto the actual seashore, he seemed puzzled.  First thing, I carried him out into the deep water where Derrick, Gray, and Nellie were playing. 


He didn't exactly hate it, but I can't say that he was thrilled.  After being confined in the car all day, he really wanted to get down and play, but I couldn't just plop him in the ocean where the water came up way over his head, and the surf was unusually wild.  So the two of us quickly retreated to the shore where I could let him sit on the edge of the beach and explore the wet sand and salty water himself.


Giddy's First Time in the Ocean

Of course, sitting beside him in the wet sand (and getting said sand all over my fingers in the process) probably contributed heavily to the premature death of my pool camera, but it was all worth it to get a video of Giddy's initial reaction to the lapping tide. He jabbered and squealed in excitement as the water raced over his little legs, and I kept saying to him, "Here comes the ocean!" 



 He liked the ocean.  Very quickly, he made friends with it.



His best reaction, though, came on Saturday morning. I took him out pretty deep to stand where Derrick and the kids were playing. (Derrick and Gray go out deeper than anybody else at the beach not using a surfboard or boat.)




Saturday the surf was almost ridiculously strong, the currents so intense that Penelope had to be rescued by strangers at one point (even though she was very near us). Directing Gideon's attention to the crashing waves rolling toward us, I told him, "Look Giddy! The ocean is waving to you! Hi, Ocean! What a friendly ocean! Hi, Ocean!"

And then came the best part. He started waving back to the ocean, crying, "Hi! Hi!" and waving his little hand at the immense waves tumbling in our direction.  It was so sweet.

He kept this up for quite a while, and I was so frustrated about not having a camera to get it on video. Really, he was so adorable.

Of course, he got pretty mad when the ocean repaid these kind overtures by smacking him upside the head and dousing him in cold sea water. Then he dropped the sweet greetings and started furiously cussing out the ocean in baby talk.







Seriously, I've got to start watching what I say now that he's learning to talk because when he feels he's been wronged, he goes on these lengthy rants, either defending himself or accusing his enemies in what sounds exactly like babbles of profanity. (He's only saying nonsense words, but it comes across just like someone declaring a vendetta in a foreign language!)


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Great Memories, Vacation 2016: The Ocean View Balcony at La Copa Beach Inn

I've barely blogged at all since Giddy's birth, but I thought I should continue my tradition of writing up my favorite memories from our vacation. This year, we had planned to go to my cousin Katey's wedding in Omaha in June, but that fell through (not the wedding, our trip). Derrick graduated with his degree in finance on August 16th and wanted to take a trip to the beach to celebrate, but we didn't really know until closer to the time if we could afford it, or if he could get the time off work. Then we found out that Grayson's "optional" band camp that week was actually mandatory. (We still got him that week, though, and band camp only lasted from 4-8, so the kids and I still had lots of fun waiting for the trip.) Basically we couldn't leave until Friday, and Penelope started school Monday morning, which did not give us much of a window, but Padre is only six hours away, so we somehow pulled it off.


Great Memory 1: 

The Ocean View Balcony at La Copa Beach Inn





I'm a creature of habit. In 2013, we took our first family vacation to South Padre and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. I'm the one who always researches and plans our vacations (the "doing stuff" part, that is. Derrick handles the practical matters--transportation, gas prices, what will we have to mortgage to afford to eat?) Staying at the Hilton just felt right. My dad used to work for Hilton, and plus (more importantly), it was the highest rated property with direct beach access on Trip Advisor (which I read recreationally). We enjoyed that trip so much that OCD me decreed we would stay at the Garden Inn every time we visited SPI in the future...

I should have added, "Unless they raise their weekend rate to 400 per night," because necessity forced us to book late, and that is what happened.


Video of the Balcony View

Online, La Copa looked like a great Plan B. It was in the trendier, older, more touristy part of the island (the Garden Inn is way down by the turtle rescue place) and was featuring a deal on double queen rooms with an ocean view balcony.




Rooms with an ocean view?  A guaranteed view?  (I'm used to going to Disneyland where the resort hotels barely guarantee a room.)  This sounded great, but the paranoid skeptic in me wondered what the hotel would be like in real life.

Merry (who flew in) arrived first and checked into the room she was sharing with my parents (next door to ours). "The room is great," she texted. "The ocean view is very heart-warming. Don't let the elevator scare you."



The ocean view turned out to be phenomenal, far exceeding my expectations. (Weirdly, my parents' room was recently renovated, and ours wasn't, but I'm glad ours wasn't because that way, we got a photogenic dolphin mosaic on the floor in the entry way.)

Right away, the kids went out to check out the view. We looked directly down onto the pool. Beyond that lay the ocean. We had a fantastic view of all of it. While Derrick was bringing up the luggage, I carried Giddy out onto the balcony. We were directly above the children's splash area. The bottom of the kiddie pool was decorated with sea turtles and other marine creatures.



"Turta! Turta!" Giddy cried, reaching for them in delight. I vowed to let him play in the splash pool and kept taking him out onto the balcony over and over again...until he tried to break out of my arms and jump over the railing head first into the turtle pool.




He's very strong and nearly succeeded and managed to scare me to death, and I never took him out there anymore.  (I did take him to the splash pool on Saturday, but that didn't last long.  From our balcony, the turtles must have looked real.  When Giddy realized that he couldn't pick them up, he crawled away and started eating rocks under a palm tree, so we went to the beach instead.)
But we used that balcony a lot. After oceaning, Derrick and Gray always waited out there admiring the view while I bathed the little kids. At night, the moon over the ocean was beautiful. In the morning, sunrise over the ocean was literally blinding. I learned pretty quickly that was best viewed from inside through the tinted glass.




Saturday night when we got back from dinner, Merry told us with a wicked smile, "You almost missed a great concert out at the pool. Lucky for you, it's still going on. The singer is just wonderful. There are no words." She was being totally sarcastic, but Penelope took her seriously and spent the next several minutes in rapture out on the balcony. She came in and swooned, "Oh that music was so heavenly! Aunt Merry was right! It was just divine!" I have limited musical training (more like none) and only heard the singer for mere seconds, but even I could tell she was ridiculously flat. Penelope is such a sweetheart.





Great Memories, Vacation 2016: The Ocean View Balcony at La Copa Beach Inn

I've barely blogged at all since Giddy's birth, but I thought I should continue my tradition of writing up my favorite memories from our vacation. This year, we had planned to go to my cousin Katey's wedding in Omaha in June, but that fell through (not the wedding, our trip). Derrick graduated with his degree in finance on August 16th and wanted to take a trip to the beach to celebrate, but we didn't really know until closer to the time if we could afford it, or if he could get the time off work. Then we found out that Grayson's "optional" band camp that week was actually mandatory. (We still got him that week, though, and band camp only lasted from 4-8, so the kids and I still had lots of fun waiting for the trip.) Basically we couldn't leave until Friday, and Penelope started school Monday morning, which did not give us much of a window, but Padre is only six hours away, so we somehow pulled it off.


Great Memory 1: 

The Ocean View Balcony at La Copa Beach Inn





I'm a creature of habit. In 2013, we took our first family vacation to South Padre and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. I'm the one who always researches and plans our vacations (the "doing stuff" part, that is. Derrick handles the practical matters--transportation, gas prices, what will we have to mortgage to afford to eat?) Staying at the Hilton just felt right. My dad used to work for Hilton, and plus (more importantly), it was the highest rated property with direct beach access on Trip Advisor (which I read recreationally). We enjoyed that trip so much that OCD me decreed we would stay at the Garden Inn every time we visited SPI in the future...

I should have added, "Unless they raise their weekend rate to 400 per night," because necessity forced us to book late, and that is what happened.


Video of the Balcony View

Online, La Copa looked like a great Plan B. It was in the trendier, older, more touristy part of the island (the Garden Inn is way down by the turtle rescue place) and was featuring a deal on double queen rooms with an ocean view balcony.




Rooms with an ocean view?  A guaranteed view?  (I'm used to going to Disneyland where the resort hotels barely guarantee a room.)  This sounded great, but the paranoid skeptic in me wondered what the hotel would be like in real life.

Merry (who flew in) arrived first and checked into the room she was sharing with my parents (next door to ours). "The room is great," she texted. "The ocean view is very heart-warming. Don't let the elevator scare you."



The ocean view turned out to be phenomenal, far exceeding my expectations. (Weirdly, my parents' room was recently renovated, and ours wasn't, but I'm glad ours wasn't because that way, we got a photogenic dolphin mosaic on the floor in the entry way.)

Right away, the kids went out to check out the view. We looked directly down onto the pool. Beyond that lay the ocean. We had a fantastic view of all of it. While Derrick was bringing up the luggage, I carried Giddy out onto the balcony. We were directly above the children's splash area. The bottom of the kiddie pool was decorated with sea turtles and other marine creatures.



"Turta! Turta!" Giddy cried, reaching for them in delight. I vowed to let him play in the splash pool and kept taking him out onto the balcony over and over again...until he tried to break out of my arms and jump over the railing head first into the turtle pool.




He's very strong and nearly succeeded and managed to scare me to death, and I never took him out there anymore.  (I did take him to the splash pool on Saturday, but that didn't last long.  From our balcony, the turtles must have looked real.  When Giddy realized that he couldn't pick them up, he crawled away and started eating rocks under a palm tree, so we went to the beach instead.)
But we used that balcony a lot. After oceaning, Derrick and Gray always waited out there admiring the view while I bathed the little kids. At night, the moon over the ocean was beautiful. In the morning, sunrise over the ocean was literally blinding. I learned pretty quickly that was best viewed from inside through the tinted glass.




Saturday night when we got back from dinner, Merry told us with a wicked smile, "You almost missed a great concert out at the pool. Lucky for you, it's still going on. The singer is just wonderful. There are no words." She was being totally sarcastic, but Penelope took her seriously and spent the next several minutes in rapture out on the balcony. She came in and swooned, "Oh that music was so heavenly! Aunt Merry was right! It was just divine!" I have limited musical training (more like none) and only heard the singer for mere seconds, but even I could tell she was ridiculously flat. Penelope is such a sweetheart.