Almost every year (with a few exceptions for larger trips), we take a family vacation to Virginia Beach. We stay in the southern part of the city called Sandbridge, which is a private beach lined with beach houses that you can rent. This year was planned to be pretty special. We haven't all been down to the beach together as a family since 2008 (including Andy but minus Lauren since they weren't together yet). We planned it later so that we'd be back from Germany, and even Chris had the time to fly in from California to join us. It was going to be great to have everyone together for a week on vacation.
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. A week before we were due to head down, my dad got a call. My Oma had fallen and they were taking her to the hospital. Later that night, my dad got a call from the hospital saying that my Oma was in the ICU with a broken nose, a broken hand, several broken ribs, and most dangerously a lacerated spleen. If she was a younger person, they wouldn't have hesitated to remove the spleen, but since she's 92 they didn't want to do surgery. It was already late at night and my dad jumped in the car and drove through the night to NYC. He was optimistic that he'd make it to the beach, but that he'd have to meet us there. My Oma got cleared to be moved to a rehab facility on Monday of our vacation (we drove down Saturday), but the hospital decided to milk what the insurance had approved and kept her until Friday. Each day, we knew we were closer and closer to not seeing my dad. He left four weeks ago and still isn't home. He's been traveling back and forth between Florida for business and NYC to be with my Oma. Oma did great in the rehab and was released this past Monday to go home with no need for in-home care. My dad is not expected to be home until next weekend at the earliest, and by then Brady and I will have moved to Michigan.
Our vacation was definitely not the same without him. We didn't play Jenga once, and that's something we do quite often, especially at the beach. We have tournaments on the indoor patio and the swaying of the house on stilts makes it especially challenging. Andy and Alex did most of the cooking and we definitely didn't go into the water as much as we would have. My dad is a driving force behind our vacation and it kinda fell a little flat without him there. He was the most excited about being there during the Olympics. In 1996, our last night on our beach vacation was the opening ceremonies of the Atlanta summer games. Back then we went with my godparents and their son who's a year younger than me. All of us kids took the high chairs from the counter and threw blankets over it building a fort to watch the games. All four of us fell asleep there and it's one of my dad's favorite beach memories.
Brady who used to be such an amazing little swimmer since the time he was six months old, completely lost everything when we went to Germany. We are starting at square one and he is terrified of the water, even with a life vest on. It makes me really sad since he used to swim by himself under water. He loved the sand, though, which was puzzling since he hated that all the the playground surfaces in Germany were covered in it. He did his best to keep his hands away from it and if he got even a single grain on his hand, needed me to wipe it off. Not the case anymore. He had more fun in the sand than in the water this year.
The poor kid is so skinny that I bought him a ton of 2T bathing suits last summer on clearance and none of them fit him. In the pic above, the pants are a size 18-24 months and we were constantly pulling them up.
He loved filling his bucket with water and dumping it out.
One night, we made shrimp and pineapple skewers on the grill. My dad loves pineapple and always jokes that the top can be used as a hat. Andy gave it to Brady and told him to put it on his head. His hair was slicked with pineapple juice after that.
His "cheese" face looks pretty scary.
We always take a nice family shot on the beach. Usually my dad takes it with his good camera, but we had to make due with mine. Chris took them and they turned out pretty good. We only had to take a few, which is good because Brady tends to not cooperate.
Andy's eyes are closed in this one . . .
And mine are closed in this one. We'll manage, especially since Brady is smiling and looking in both of them.
Time to dig a hole for Brady.
Andy decided to sculpt him some sand legs.
It got chilly and windy under the umbrella, so we had to keep the skinny boy warm.
No vacation is without incident, but we certainly had more than our fair share. While Alex and Lauren were fishing on the back dock, Kiro fell into the back bay. The next morning, they discovered he was covered in ticks and had to rush him to a vet. He had over 50-60 ticks removed! Poor puppy. Luckily no one else got ticks. We brought the baby gate for the stairs, not for Brady but for Kiro. It didn't fit the opening well and usually we just propped it up against the frame. My mom went down to do laundry one morning, and as she was coming back up, Brady pushed on the gate and rode it halfway down the stairs. Fortunately, he wasn't injured. The last day, we were offered a double whammy. Brady woke up sick (which couldn't have been worse with the long ride home ahead), and Kiro got out the front door while we were loading cars, running across the street, and causing a rear-end collision.
Well, it wasn't the picture perfect vacation we imagined up until a week before we left, but we did manage to get the perfect picture. It's so rare to have all of us kids together, that my mom likes to take advantage of the opportunity and get a group picture. This year, Kiro was the addition, as he's just as important a member of the family. My brothers both hate sitting for pictures because it takes so long. I've always had the attitude that if we do it right the first time, then we're done. We hit gold on the first picture, thus proving my point.