When we arrived, Daniel was tired, but performed his favorite Vacation Bible School song for the family. It lasted approximately ten minutes because he couldn't remember how it ended. But he sure did remember the middle, for a long time.
On Saturday, we joined my sister-in-law's family reunion for dinner. I watched as Daniel tried to wipe the ketchup off his paper plate. You don't need to clean that off...you can just throw that away, bud. "But I want to keep it." We don't keep paper plates. We throw them away when we're done with them. "But I want to make a craft out of it!"
The hostess was Daniel's Wishmaker that night. She gave him TWO brand new paper plates for him to take home. "I can keep these?" Yes, they're all yours. "Really?" Yes, Daniel. You get to keep them. "Do you think Santa will bring me a bunch of paper plates if I write to him?"
Matt promised Daniel he didn't need to wait for Christmas to get some paper plates, although I think Santa should enjoy the opportunity to fulfill such wishes as long as he is asked. This year, Chinet. Next year, 3D TV.
Daniel would go on to sleep with the paper plates each night, in the likely event that one of us would try and steal them at midnight.
The next day, we joined the family reunion again for lunch, which was filled with the kinds of foods that earn double digits on the Weight Watcher Point system. In other words, my kind of grub. When I remarked on the tasty fried chicken, my mother-in-law said, "I don't know where it comes from."
To which Daniel chimed in: Fried chicken comes from pigs.
I understand his confusion. Lots of his favorite foods come from pigs. Bacon, pork chops, ham, sausage, hot dogs, and fried chicken.
Matt left for home Sunday evening so he could get back to the grind. That was one less person on Dan's short-list of paper plate thieves in the night.
Monday marked the first day of hike training. I almost didn't know what to do with myself without the relaxing white noise of three small kids arguing if they were going to watch Spongebob or more Spongebob.
I returned soaking wet, but not sweaty. Women in the south don't sweat, according to my mother-in-law. They glisten.
I was glistening heavily.
We went to the river later for the kids to pee. "In the river? I can pee IN the river?" Yes, Daniel. Go for it. "In the river, really? Then why can't I go in the pool?"
I didn't have a good answer except that everyone pees in the river.
We also went so they could swim. Let me make that clear. My mother-in-law has toilets in her house. We don't go to the river just to pee.
On Tuesday, we went to the library to cool off after some more glistening. I love looking at cake books but had a hard time finding anything in this particular library. I tried looking on a computer to search for some books, but not having a library card meant I wasn't allowed access. I had to resort to talking to an actual person instead, always my last resort.
Me: Do you have any cake decorating books?
Librarian: Oh, beaucoup!
Me: I am having a hard time finding them. The only thing I see upstairs is labeled "nonfiction."
Librarian: Well, cake decorating books are nonfiction.
Me: Could you tell me where they are?
Librarian: They are in 630-660.
Back upstairs to nonfiction, I found sections 630-660. I had no idea beaucoup was French for "two."
We stayed until there were no more puzzles for the kids to do and their noise level couldn't be lowered anymore.
I took Natalie to my sister-in-law's salon and got her hair trimmed. She got a bright pink feather extension put in her hair and as soon as we got back, Eve needed one. I wonder how long before my daughters start to molt. I'm pretty sure Eve will be the only preschooler punk enough to show up with a neon hair extension.
Back to the river before bed, and Eve was dressed in a swimsuit that I had been noticing was losing its elasticity. She wears all of Natalie's old clothes, so it's not too surprising when the stuff starts crapping out on us. Still I was surprised to see how much the bathing suit had lost the ability to cover up Eve's bottom.
An hour into our visit, the children found out they could help Eve put sand down her swimsuit. At first glance, I thought she had the world's biggest accident.
But upon closer inspection, it looks as though someone has made a bowling ball out of sand and shoved it down Eve's butt.
The next day, I put Eve in a swimsuit that still had some sort of integrity and we headed for the beach. We got to Kill Devil Hills to the burning hot sand and the freezing cold water.
Well, when I say freezing, I mean 72 degrees.
Turns out, Eve's old swimsuit wasn't the only one losing its elasticity. I happened to moon Kill Devil Hills at least three times when some good waves came crashing down. I am eternally thankful that none of the sharks that have been cruising the Outer Banks saw my pale bottom and mistook it for some lunch.
If it weren't for sharks, hurricanes, sunburns, and ridiculously inappropriate swimsuits, I would pop a tent on the beach and stay there until my time was up. I love to watch my kids run free, like a dog with a dead battery on its electric fence collar.
And watching my nephews teach Nat and Dan how to body surf looked fun, but I didn't join in because I was tired of giving the beach bums a free show of my beach bum.
I did some more training with my mother-in-law's iPod during the week, with playlists that I have a hard time believing she put on there. I just don't see her downloading Soulja Boy and Kanye West, but the angry beats helped up the glisten. [Insert shameless plug to get people to donate to my Ultimate Hike page here.]
We got home this weekend to celebrate Matt's birthday.
There's a chocolate candle for each one of his years.
Daniel loves birthdays. "We should have done this years ago!" I don't know what "this" referred to in particular, but I'm all for a yearly cake-centered celebration. Daniel might be onto something.