Monday, July 23, 2012

Beach Babies

Three year old Raina was reticient to branch out in her beach experience.  Seven year old Raina and three year old Lola had no such reservations.  Upon our Litchfield arrival, we immediately paid homage to the ocean.

Lola giggled as her toes hit sand and the two girls were instantly drawn to the water. 

The rest of the Compton crew arrived Saturday evening, big hugs were shared, and then we all went to bed.  The Whompton girls shared a bedroom.  They don't share a room (or much of anything!) at home, so we practiced sleeping in the same room while in Saint Louis.  It was a full fledged disaster.  We crossed our fingers that everything would be just fine in Litchfield and, surprisingly enough, it was.  The girls essentially put themselves to bed each night without fuss or complaint. 

We spent our beach week playing in the sand and surf, building castles and moats and channels and dams, taking long walks and runs, riding waves, reading books, playing with trains, and enjoying each other's company.  Our camera did not emerge much during beach week, which is a shame, but Raina captured some scattered moments for us.

Here are the monstrously large television and the train table.

Emily, Eric, and Krystal played The Lord of the Rings Card Game.  A lot.  Way more than was fair, probably.  But it was loads of fun and Eric and Emily did a lot of deck building, which they both enjoyed. 

Atticus loved the cars and trains.  Many moments saw him moving his trains around the track.

Guest photographer's self portait.

Not pictured:  Raina had a 102 degree fever and scored a trip to Urgent Care.  Lola later caught the same virus and had the same high fever.  Both kids slept long and hard and had trance sleep-walking, which was confusing for all adults involved. 

And then it was the last beach day.  We finally brought the camera back to the beach Friday morning and captured some great moments. 

Lola and Atticus splashed and played in the surf.  Over the week they became more and more adventurous; Friday saw waves knocking Atticus down over and over again and he kept coming up laughing and diving in for more. 

Raina spent her last beach day wandering around.  I love the bright yellow of her dress in this series of pictures.

Lola is up for every opportunity but, when she gets tired or sad, this is the face you see.  Head down in a hangdog manner and refusing to budge.  We saw this a lot when it was time to leave the beach each day.

Aunt Stephanie missed this year's beach trip but she sent rocking camp shirts for the kids.  They are proudly showing their new finery.

We cuddled up for a last round of book reading and beach week 2012 came to a close.

You always forget something when you take a trip.  Usually it's nothing of major consequence and you power through.  Unfortunately, Krystal forgot the Beach to STL directions, which included our return-trip restaurant picks.  As a result, the return trip meals were disappointing, to say the least.  The food was subpar and we ate at chain restaurants.  (Finding the off-the-beaten-path restaurants was challenging with the GPS and no smartphone.)  We stopped at a Moe's, which is third tier in terms of fast-food burrito companies.  After that meal, we really appreciated Chipotle.

The "worst meal of the trip" honor goes to the Chattanooga Wendy's.  There are no words for the disappointment of the meal, but I believe my facial expression captures the moment well. 

The two-day return trip was an excrutiating affair.  The highlights:  Raina picked up some more books from our Nashville stop and we arrived at our STL home.  105 degree temperatures never felt so good!

South Carolina Bound!

The Comptons and Whomptons gather in the summertime to rejoice in the pleasures of each other's company.  Litchfield beach, South Carolina, is the traditional Compton gathering spot; the last time we went to Litchfield was when Raina was 3 years old and we traveled this summer now that Lola is three.  These images capture our 18 hours of driving to the South Carolina coast. 

Lola spent a fair amount as a grump-a-dump.  We saw this face a lot.

Raina read continuously.  (NO car sickness, woohoo!)  Raina rarely showed a grumpy face.

Food tends to be the only exciting variation in a long car trip.  The Whomptons planned out all their meals in advance, so that each stop would be interesting and tasty and local.  Stop #1 was a bakery in Clarksville, TN.  All the workers behind the counter spoke German!  Raina had a pizza, Eric and Lola had the Rosemary Chicken Dumpling soup, and Krystal had the Lentil soup.  Nice wholesome and light fare, and very appropriate for just 5 hours in the trip. 

Lola's soup came in a Lola sized bread bowl.  It was adorable. 

Everyone's spirits were up as we left Clarksville and traversed Tennessee, because we started a They Might Be Giants album.  Lola laughs hysterically at "Birdhouse in Your Soul" and the "Seven Song."  (Later on in the return trip, these were the only things to make Lola happy in the car.  TMBG featured prominently in our drive!)

Raina, still, was happy to read.  Notice she's on a different book!

And finally Lola went down for a nap!  We Whomptons are wary of Lola's napping -- Lola's sleep schedule is a highly regulated enterprise and naps generally lead to difficult bedtimes -- but we gave thanks that she fell asleep here.

Yes, Lola's grump face returned as soon as she awoke.

But, woohoo, we woke her up because we were in Atlanta!  Atlanta was the designated nighttime stop-over on our two-days driving venture.  We celebrated our arrival at Papi's Cuban Grill and we gorged ourselves silly on jerk chicken, pork, beans and rice, plantains, and happiness.  All the workers spoke a different language too, but it wasn't exactly Spanish.  The meal was luscious and plentiful and Eric struggled to finish the plates of all four Whomptons.

A terrifying deluge of rain greeted us outside of the restaurant and stayed with us the 10 minutes drive to our hotel.  The rain stopped as soon as we arrived, and we eagerly anticipated tossing the small ones into the pool to get their willies out.

We geared up for the pool and headed outside.  Unfortunately, the rain came back in bits and spurts and thunder sporadically sounded overhead.  No pool time.  Instead, we took an exploratory tour of the hotel.  We saw two broken ice machines, multiple vending machines, the laundry room, a stairwell, an elevator, a treadmill, and a bunch of people looking at us funny.  We covered every available square inch of the three story hotel as we tried to avoid the feeling of being trapped.

Eventually we saw all parts of the hotel and there was nothing to do but go back to our room, jump on beds, take baths, and watch television.  The girls were incredibly excited about this option, because we rarely watch tv at home, and they were incredibly distressed when the television had no access to cable.  We watched a black screen for a while and, after the tv was repaired, we closed out the final half-hour of School of Rock

Bedtime was a struggle and we'll leave it at that.  Lola stayed up well past everyone else, so she was quite groggy when we roused her Saturday morning. 

Saturday's breakfast was standard hotel buffet:  unappetizing choices in a variety of flavors.  The best item was the toast. 

But food is food, and we love food, AND we were excited to get on our way again.  Saturday's drive was the short day:  Atlanta to the coast!

We made it to South Carolina and rejoiced.  We stopped at, quite possibly, the nicest rest area in the nation, and chatted with the nicest rest area workers I've ever met. 

Random guest photographer took the only Whompton family photo of the entire trip.

Saturday's drive took us through Orangeburg, SC, home of the state's best barbeque.  We chose Duke's BBQ and it was quite an experience.  First, you walk into Duke's and it's a long hall with multiple picnic tables, equipped with pitchers of sweet tea. No restrooms. At the end of the hall is the BBQ buffet. Yes, dear goodness, a buffet. Options were limited to pulled pork, cole slaw, hash and rice, white bread, and pickles. (Hash seemed very similar to burgoo.) 

Eric ate a lot of meat at Duke's, and then we moseyed on to another establishment to use their restroom.  Restrooms along the state roads are questionable at best, and the one we selected definitely fell in the GUH! territory. 

The interior-to-the-coast drive was filled with fluffy clouds, periodic crazy storms, and kudzu. 

And then we were in Litchfield!  We located das Strandhaus, our beach house for the week, and celebrated our good fortune.  We were in South Carolina!  We were at the beach!  We were OUT OF THE CAR!  Life was good.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wedding Attire

Weddings dominated my social calendar all throughout my 20's.  Our friends and family celebrated partnerships made permanent and I somewhat slowly figured out the wedding scene.  I discerned appropriate attire for Baptist weddings and Hindu weddings, for morning weddings and afternoon weddings and evening weddings.  It should come to no surprise that, in my inexperience, I often dressed down at these functions because I often dress down, but once I finally realized the standards I firmly upheld them.  I have no desire to cause offense in this regard; a Saturday evening wedding is a formal affair and it calls for a formal dress, heels, jewelry, and for something nice done to my hair. 

I haven't been to a wedding in a while -- baby showers have dominated my 30's social calendar -- and I was overjoyed to be invited to a friend's wedding this past week.  I was thoroughly confused by the invitation, though.  Saturday, 7 p.m., Jewish temple -- all standard things.  But it specified "cocktail attire" on the invitation.  Cocktail attire?!  That's less formal than a 7 p.m. Saturday wedding should mean! 

I spent multiple days shopping for a dress that matched the cocktail attire specification.  I found a dress that I loved, but I was certain it was too casual.  I purchased it anyway and showed it off to Samantha.  She agreed "too casual," and then she delivered a damning blow.  It was the wrong color for my skin tone.  She tried it on and it looked fantastic on her.  She kept the dress and I tried on every dress Samantha owns.  Nothing was right, but I brought home one that seemed okay.  It matched cocktail attire but was predominantly black, therefore, it seemed more formal to me. 

Clearly, I agonized over this requirement.  It wasn't until Saturday that I realized why the attire was specified.  This was a younger crowd, in their early 20's, and they probably had not figured out the implied dress requirement suggested by the day and time.  The brides weren't encouraging their guests to dress down; they were afraid that their guests would arrive in jeans!  Once I determined this, I pulled out my standard Saturday evening wedding outfit and felt great about my choice. 

Krystal in her early 20's never would have wondered about the dress requirement; Krystal in her 30's spent way too much time wondering about it.  Oh well.

Here's Samantha in dress #1 for the night.  She, as always, looks lovely.  (I introduced her to the Chevre salad at the Wildflower Cafe.  Pure decadence!)

And here we are at the wedding, Samantha in dress #2.  We look fantastic and had a glorious time.  Weddings are wonderful experiences!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Trust your instincts!

Krystal embarked on a Boston adventure and left Eric in charge of the Whompton household and its inhabitants for a week.  To give him an afternoon off, we said "yes" to a birthday party invitation, even though we were conflicted about the party itself.  But, really, how bad could it be?

Oh, gracious, we had no idea.  Raina returned home like this:

Horrifying.  Poor Eric, he had no idea what to do.  To be honest, I don't know what I would have done either besides rant.  Luckily, Samantha came over that night and helped in the process of removing the hideous (and widespread) blue eye shadow, the foundation, the body glitter, the temp tattoo, and the lip gloss.  They left the nail polish and hoped that it would wear off soon.

This was Eric's first evening in the single parenting week, and it portended more unfortunate days and nights to come.  Lola terrorized everyone, refused to sleep, and wreaked havoc.  Eric endured and then celebrated my return a week later.