August 6th: chewing sunglasses by the shore:
So this month, Ben took his first real vacation! On Ben's 9 month birthday, The Turners defied several laws of physics and packed the Xterra full of all of Ben's worldly possessions... and a suitcase for Mommy and Daddy, and headed for the North Carolina coast. This is an annual Turner vacation that dates back to Jacob's baby days, and involves lots of family members in one beachside house on stilts. This experience is much different from my beach memories because I pretty much grew up there. I was born in Ft. Lauderdale and grew up in Palm Beach County, Florida, so the beach was a regular event for us. I have lots of memories of packing up buckets, shovels, boogie boards and colorful towels and driving up and down A1A looking for metered parking. I remember coarse, yellow sand littered with seaweed and tar, and spending the morning and early afternoon with a billion other beachgoers packed onto the shore like sardines. The strip was decorated with sky-high condos and hotels as far as you could see, and there were fully-equipped lifeguard stands all along the beach. North Carolina beaches are different. Ocean Isle Beach is a small island accessible by a long bridge that makes me unreasonably nervous. The island is completely developed with oversized Easter-egg colored houses on stilts, all packed in on top of one another. The shore is full of powdery white sand and the ocean is brownish-grey, but clean. There are tons of shells that get exposed during low tide, but most are broken from the big waves that roll through. Ocean Isle is much less populated and much quieter than any beach I've ever known and this will likely be Ben's experience of the beach growing up.
Ben had a good time on his vacation. At maximum capacity, there were 19 of us in this 5 bedroom house, which meant Ben kept his relatives busy from Saturday to Saturday. He spent a lot of time indoors and away from the heat, wind, sunburns and the big, mean ocean. Ben was unimpressed with water, and felt much safer helping Aunt Nette and Aunt Joanne cook and watch baby Adam. I'm not sure how much cooking or babysitting Ben actually did, but I'm guessing he was not very helpful with either task. He spent some time at the pool, floating around in his double-floatation contraption that consisted of a buoyant vest and a panda inner-tube. He considered writing a note of suggestion to the owners of the house to install a heater for the pool, because his transition into the cool water made him very mad every time. On the beach, Ben sat on his own towel and played toys, ate sand, and tried to stay as quiet as possible so that we wouldn't notice him and drag him to the ocean to scare the crap out of him. He was unsuccessful, however, because we did drag him to the ocean at low-tide and made him stand at the shore and let the water rush up his legs. And yes, he screamed every time it happened. On the first day, Ben and Mommy sat at the shore and let the ocean touch our legs, and he didn't mind this as long as I sang him a song while it was happening. It was a very special mommy-baby moment. We didn't walk into the ocean with him because he was so anxious and because it was pretty rough every day we were out there. So all in all, he had a great time, and Mom and Dad had a pretty good time enjoying the babysitting services from various family members while they got to hang out alone for the first time since Ben was born.
Poolside service: chillin' on a raft and eating a snack, courtesy of Daddy:
Watching the waves with Poo:
During his trip, Ben sprouted those 4 upper teeth we never thought would come in. He cut his two bottom teeth within a couple weeks months ago, and I just assumed those would be his only teeth since the others showed no signs of coming through. Ben threw a curve ball and decided he would cut all four of the top front ones in a matter of 2 days. We should have known when he developed a little diaper rash and filled diapers with toxic waste that made us all consider evacuating the house and not coming back. About halfway into the week, we noticed that those two front teeth were cutting through, and thought "poor baby, who gets 2 teeth at once anyway?" That lasted until we noticed that the two teeth next to the front two poked through the next day. OK seriously, who gets FOUR teeth at once?! He was a total champ though, and barely whined about the experience. Actually, had it not been for his Biohazard diapers, he would have had no symptoms of teething. What a big boy!
Ben got to experience Calabash, North Carolina during his first vacation. We took him to a restaurant called Dockside two times, and he MAY have eaten a basket of hush puppies. Ben became a fan of table food during this trip, and also snuck various table items like scrambled eggs, crackers, various other things that are a secret to Mom and BOILED PEANUTS. Seriously?! Apparently while I was sleeping, Dad thought it'd be a good idea to share these coveted (disgusting) things with his son, not thinking about the whole allergies thing. Luckily, Ben didn't break out in hives, but I almost did thinking that Ben ate peanuts. After that, no one really told me what he ate while I wasn't looking for fear that I would totally freak out again.
Ben eats Hush Puppies at Dockside:
Other notable happenings on the beach vacation was Ben's increased mobility and talking. He was either moving or talking through the whole week, and this hasn't stopped since. He still hasn't figured out how to crawl in the sense that he gets up on his knees to move around. He uses his arms and hands to propel himself around and has gotten really good at it, but looks like an "inchworm" as Mimi calls him, or "Lieutenant Dan" as Grammy calls him. Lt. Dan has really built up his upper body muscles but can't quite figure out what to do with those pesky legs dragging behind him. His chattering is consisting of Mamas, Dadas, Yiayias (but we aren't greek), Babas, and the like. Once we returned from the beach, we noted that Ben suddenly understands (or suddenly cares about, I don't know which) English. He is starting to follow simple commands when he feels like it, and will look in the direction of the person you are referring to when you ask "Where's _____?". It's pretty cool to interact using language, and also scary to think that he's starting to encode what we say out loud. Mommy and Daddy, AKA sailor-mouths are going to have to watch what words we choose a little more carefully. This is a bummer for us, but a cool milestone for Ben. He is starting to pull up on furniture and people a little bit, but it only seems to happen when he really wants something, like a remote control just out of his reach. I haven't seen him pull up just because, but I know that's coming too. Ben and Dad have started walking around the house religiously, as it seems to be the only activity Ben really wants to do these days. He will walk with Dad's help all day long if he could, and giggles the whole way. When this activity first started, Ben was kicking his legs and missing steps and walking like a total goober, but in just a couple of weeks, he's starting to actually put one foot in front of the other correctly and reassures me that maybe someday Ben WILL walk after all. His parents' walking milestones were very different, so if genetics play a role, we still have no idea when he'll actually take his first steps, unassisted. As the legend goes, Daddy walked on his 9 month birthday, and Mommy, who surprisingly is not developmentally delayed in the traditional sense, was 14.5 months when she decided to walk alone. So far, Ben is not a walking superstar like Daddy, but will hopefully fall somewhere in between our achievements.
On the way home from the beach, Ben asked if we could stop by High Point to see Mamaw and Papaw. For those of you keeping track, Mamaw and Papaw are Poo's parents, and traveling is hard on them. Because we love Ben so much, we granted him his wish and took a detour that had us on the road for 10 (yeah, 9+1) hours, all in the same state. It was great to see the grandparents, and of course, it was nice to let Ben spend some time with them.
August 8th: Benny loves Mamaw:
Then, the following weekend, we got real crazy and hopped back into the car to head BACK to High Point for Mimi's surprise birthday party. Ben had more fun playing with the family and being passed from stranger to stranger at Mimi's party and was the consummate trooper by not having a total screaming meltdown after staying up 3+ hours past his bedtime. He was tired, but hung in there and provided some of the entertainment for the evening by being a goober and showing off his Benny charm.
We are back in Hendersonville and plan to stay that way for awhile. The Turners had fun, but we are travelled out. Ben fell back into his routine rather seamlessly, and is back with Gram during the week while Mommy does her thing at work. Ben doesn't know it yet, but Gram's party train is about to end when he begins "school" at Mud Creek Baptist Church. Ben and Gram have spent the last 7 months together, 5 days a week, and Gram has had just as much, if not more of a hand in raising Ben as his parents. They play toys, eat homemade food, watch David Cassidy and Neil Diamond on YouTube and are pretty much peas and carrots into the early afternoon every day. Ben has learned hilarious games such as "knock all the blocks over" and "act like I'm feeding myself with a spoon" with Gram and got to spend his early months with someone who gave him complete 1:1 attention, instead of at a germ-infested child care facility, fighting off Swine Flu and being ignored while he cried his head off. Ben is thankful for all that time, and hopes to continue to have intermittent Grammy time once school starts, but is joining the ranks of the Mud Creek "Mud Puppies" and will now learn how to share his blocks, wait his turn, and be generally friendly to others. I'm thinking they're also going to throw in some bible verses and songs about Noah's Ark as well. Hopefully all in a relatively Swine Flu free environment. Mom thinks pretty highly of this place, so hopefully Ben will too. He'll be there from 8 to noon, 5 days a week, and hopefully all will go well. For now, Ben is savoring his last days at full time Grammy care, knocking over blocks, singing Sweet Caroline, and eating homemade baby meals.