Thursday, September 17, 2015

Down the Shore and Back Again

Let's be honest here.
I love the beach.
We all do. It is our happy place.
It is really depressing when we can't get out to the beach! Specifically to Brigantine, Tyler's childhood beach. It is a slice of heaven-on-earth.

Now, I know I can be a little hyperbolic. And maybe I'm a little biased. But the water is actually warm enough to swim in when you're in New Jersey. Dolphin pods go up and down the coast, maybe not daily, but certainly often. The sand is fine like powdered sugar. The ocean floor has a gradual drop, so you can actually play in the surf without getting pounded by waves. Maybe not the best for surfing, but probably the best for kiddos. Now, the seagulls are ridiculously aggressive (eat under the umbrella, for heaven's sake, unless you don't want that sandwich!) and there are occasional green-head flies (ouch!) but I'd take a day at the beach over a day anywhere else.
But...despite the overload of beach pictures to follow, this post is about our WHOLE trip to NJ, not just the 7 days of 14 we spent at the beach. No, no, I won't stop there. I'll add in all the details of the amazing Vigue Family Reunion that accompanied the aforementioned beach time.
(the original Vigues)
If you know anything about Vigues, you know it was fun. Loud and crazy and full-to-the-brim-with-kids and fun! It was only 4 days of everyone together, but we did cram a lot of "together" in that time!
(all the Grand-kids + Grammy and Pop)

In no particular order....
(the family watching family putting on the talent show)
The family talent show was one of the best activities! It was so fun to see all the different talents these family members have. Of course, there were the usual songs, dances, monologues, comedy acts, and karaoke numbers, but there were also recitations of Pi to the 20th place, a rap of the Greek Alphabet, bedtime stories, guest appearances from Toddlers with Curls, family musical numbers, and original compositions. The hours flew by and the mosquitoes feasted well that night!
(bedtime story!)

The boardwalk is another integral part of a summer at the shore. I actually feel like it's a gigantic state fair on steroids, but the kiddos love it and there are no farm animals involved.
(the whole crew, minus the three below)
(one of these things is not like the other)
(the lights, the sounds, the people, oh my! it was chaos, but so much excitement!)
(a bunch of kiddos all tuckered out on their cousin, Brynn. One of my very favorite things was watching cousins form relationships with cousins who started out strangers to them.)

We spent a ton of time at Melanie's house (here's the shout-out to Melanie for planning and coordinating a huge load of the reunion. THANK YOU!!) wreaking havoc and having fun!
(Melanie planned a bunch of fun activities for outside, including water games)
(s'mores--this was technically after the reunion, ,but it was still awesome) 
 (some more s'mores. Ellie and Jack got along amazingly--this was one of those fun "cousins starting out as almost strangers making connections")

(some more more s'mores with the curly twins)
(the rope swing in Aunt Melanie's yard is a perennial favorite, especially when Pop is pushing!)
(nursery rhyme skits--again, post-reunion but again at Melanie's house)
(there was LOTS and LOTS of eating at the reunion. over 30 people to feed!)
(but everyone enjoyed the time together!)
(these 3 were born within 3 months of one another, almost 11 year ago. no family reunion post would be complete without a picture of them!)

Grammy and Pop's house is always a favorite with my kiddos. Cole still talks about, "Yesterday, at Grammy's house..." So, while this was technically non-reunion, it was still a huge part of our vacation in NJ!
(Curly cousins at dinner)
(Jack was relieved to get some piano in during the rare moments that no one was sleeping)
(Grammy even made playdough for the kiddos to use! Cole was in heaven since his mom actually abhors the mess that playdough makes and thus, it rarely comes out in his house...)

On the 4th of July, the whole family attended a Bash at a family friend's house. They had a blow-up water slide, there were mountains of food, and the fireworks afterwards had Cole SO EXCITED he talked non-stop through each explosion. (Mama, mama, did you see it goes BOOM! It's red/yellow/blue/SO LOUD!! Look! Dat one! See, see!?!) 
...but this was the picture that summed it up for me. A grown up cousin taking the time to bond with a little cousin. Swoon!

One of Grammy's major goals while we were all together was a family picture. It is hard to get this many people (especially when so many little people are involved!) to look awesome. I think they did a pretty amazing job!
(the whole crew, woo hoo!)
(the original Vigue Bunch)
(our little family)

It was a fantastic reunion. Honestly, the whole trip to NJ was probably the best family vacation we have ever had. It was such a blessing to have so much time with family in a place we love before all the craziness broke loose when we got home!
Here are some final views of our happy place:
(hooray for sisters!)

(the Vigue boys are at it again)
(are those some kissing cousins?)
 (she is in love with the sand, the water, the seagulls...everything!)
 (he had so much fun he didn't even care when his shorts fell down...over and over...)
 (cousins in the waves together!)
 (quality mother-son bonding time)

(Cole decided it was cool to sit in a bucket all the time)
(there was a lot of child-burying on this trip. chicks, octopuses, penguins, lobsters, crabs...mermaids....)

 (bury that man! remind me to tell you about Amelia's obsession with putting seashell sand "breast thingies" on Uncle Andy, the mermaid. you can see one right below his chin in this picture).
I love these people!

One other thing that made this trip awesome for me was being able to see my little brother and his girls. Learon is just 2 years younger than me and we've always been friends.
 So I was stoked that we'd get to spend a little time together.
(Amelia LOVED re-meeting her cousins the same age. they played chase in the water and dug in the sand and built castles and buried each other. seriously, heaven for me!)
 Love ya, bro!

Oh, for those who have "stuck it out" thus far, here's your bonus story! My little family and the brother's family were playing ladder-ball on the beach. The basic idea of the game is to throw a set of balls (attached by a 6" piece of rope) onto a plastic "ladder" frame.
Like so.
The kids were getting into it and perfecting their aim. It was Sheridan's turn and she chucked a set of balls. Suddenly a seagull was screeching and cawing like crazy and hopping around on the sand by the ladder. Without meaning to, she'd ladder-balled one of the seagulls!
Now, the NJ seagulls are OBNOXIOUS. Finding Nemo got that portrayal spot-on. Rats with wings. They will snatch the sandwich right from your hand or dive-bomb a kid for a single potato chip. Vermin. However, we were all mortified. The seagull wouldn't let anyone near it, but the rope was getting more and more twisted around its wing and we were fearing for its health and safety. It attracted quite a crowd! Just as we were going to throw a towel over it and try to remove the ball, it miraculously got free and was GONE. Sheridan felt so bad (but she couldn't have done that on purpose if she were trying to!) but it was one of those shake-your-head-in-disbelief whilst trying not to laugh incredulously.
Maybe this was foreshadowing to our trip home to Utah? Or the universe paying us back for laughing incredulously at a poor, ladder-balled seagull. Eh, or it's one of those crazy moments. You decide!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August Among Us

August was filled with getting ready for school to start mid-month. Lots of last-minute play-dates with best friends, lots of pool time, lots enjoying those final days of freedom before homework and schoolwork started up again!
 Amelia got to meet her Pre-K teacher and got her school bag. We got to personalize the bag--Wonder Woman for the Win!--and the girl was so EXCITED!
 At church, we had a BBQ "roundup" before we got into the full swing of school. Henry LOVED learning how to rope a steer!
 And then it was suddenly time for school to start...
 Henry was pleased as punch to be going to school for a FULL day! He loved meeting his teacher at Back to School Night and couldn't wait to learn ALL DAY LONG!
 Sheridan had mixed feelings about school starting up again. Last year, she was in a pretty unruly class and that caused her endless stress. She does not understand why kids have to behave badly at school! Added to that, her teacher would threaten the class with "zeros" if the kids didn't calm down, and it was a recipe for anxiety for our Sher! The first day of school, she learned that she was actually in ANOTHER class--but it was with the teacher she'd really wanted, so she (amazingly) dealt with that unexpected news very calmly. She LOVES school this year, which is such a relief! 
Axel Jack is in 5th grade this year. FIFTH GRADE!?! It's killing me. He was really bummed that his best buddy is NOT in his class for the first time since they met in 2nd grade. He was, however, excited that his class theme is Harry Potter. When it came time to go back to school, he had very mixed feelings--but he seems to be finding friends and settling into the routine once again. He's so excited to be taking an early morning percussion class.
 5th Grade, 3rd Grade, and 1st Grade. Can you believe it!?! 
 A few days later, Amelia started Pre-K. She may have been a LITTLE excited. Just kidding! She was bouncing-off-the-walls-excited for days and was SOOOO ready to just go!
 Cole wasn't quite sure what to make of it...
Meanwhile, Tyler was in India. Sigh. 
The founder of Rising Star Outreach had just returned home from 3 years as a missionary for our church. Getting back to India was a huge priority for them together, as there were fires to put out and cherished individuals to reconnect with. It was a trip filled with less of what Tyler loves (time with the kids at the school and the individuals in the colonies and the volunteers) and more of what is less-fun (meetings, meetings, meetings).
We were all SO HAPPY when Tyler came back! Happy, happy, HAPPY
 The weather was still ridiculously hot, so after Pre-K we checked out the Splash Pad a few times.
 We had picnics and played at the park. 
 Sheridan and her dear friend, Hadley, ran a snowcone stand and donated 1/3 of their profits to charity. I was pretty impressed by these little philanthropic entrepreneurs. At the same time, Jack and his buddy, Caden, sold home grown veggies and donated their profits to charity. My kiddos have some pretty amazing friends.