Last weekend, Bob and I loaded up the kids and headed south to Houston to see my brother Zach & his wife Mandy. We haven't stayed with Zach since before the boys were born, and the last time we stayed with them, my beloved Jeep got stolen (it was found, but we had to sell it to buy the suburban so that we would have a car all of our kids would fit in). Therefore, when Zach & Mandy invited us down for the weekend, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend some quality time together. Our original plan was to take the kids to the children's museum, but when I found out that we had to pay for the kids, Bob and I decided that there was no way the kids would appreciate the museum enough to justify the cost. Zach & Mandy suggested we spend the day in Galveston.
After a stop at Walmart to grab some sunscreen and sand toys, we headed out for the beach. The boys took a little nap on the way to the beach, so when we pulled up, they were raring to go. I brought swimsuits with us, but we headed down to take a walk on the sand before I changed the boys pants (this was my first mistake quickly followed by leaving the sunscreen in the car).
As soon as they stepped on the sand, the boys started checking things out. James would stop every couple of steps and try and pick up the sand in his hands.
Ryan was eager to go everywhere. He wanted to play in the sand, go in the water, check out the kites that the other beach-goers were flying, pick up the dead jellyfish, and get into anything and everything.
Michael liked walking on the sand, but he really liked scooping it up and putting it in the bucket (or in his mouth, whichever he felt needed more sand). He was the last to go into the water, but by the time we were ready to go, Michael had conquered quite a few waves.
Daddy and Ryan contemplate the seaweed and water while Mommy hopes that his shorts remain dry. Good luck with that, Mommy.
Michael, still scooping sand, refuses to even look at the water while all that yummy sand is out and ready for a little tasting.
James loves squishy things between his toes. He tries to have the best of both worlds with a little water and a little shoveling.
Ryan finally cons Daddy into the water - shoes and all. This boy is not afraid of anything, and he was dying to get his whole body wet. Note that the pants are starting to get wet, and that unprepared Mom has yet to put his swim trunks on him.
Uncle Zach takes control of the big shovel and James, Aunt Mandy holds down the fort with the sand castle builders, and Daddy does his impression of my son John - one shoe off and one shoe on - while I focus on getting as many pictures as possible.
Digging Duo - the Newhouse boys know how to move some sand. I tried to show Michael how to sift the sand. He preferred to focus on his shoveling skills. I'm not sure how long he squatted in that position, but I'm pretty sure that there is no way on earth I could squat like that for as long as he did without my whole bottom half going numb. It's truly tragic what age and eating with relish does to us.
Ryan and Michael get up close and personal with the sand while James frolicked in the waves.
More digging to China from young Michael. Ryan displays his adroit skills and master shoveling techniques.
Finally, Michael stands up and Ryan squats. Due to Michael's obsession with the sand, he was the last to completely ruin his shorts.
The family at the beach. I didn't manage to get that shot of all five of us standing for a "candid" shot in front of the breaking surf, so I'll just have to settle for this much more accurate portrayal of our outing.
James and Mandy are having a great time. Smiles all around.
Finally, James has some badly smeared sunscreen on. We decided to leave their shorts on so that we would have dry clothes to wear to lunch. I have an extra set of clothes in the diaper bag, but only one extra set. I guess being a mother of three kids, I should have three outfits, but that sure does make the diaper bag heavy and takes up room for diapers. Oh well, I guess I'd better bite the bullet and get three outfits in there.
Swing low, sweet seat of pants, Ryan is trying to show his stuff. Tragically, these shorts were already too big, and the grandmas sewed the fronts to make them more fitted, but the material just couldn't hold up to all that sand and water. They started dragging low on everyone.
Daddy shows off his sand castle skills. I say a sand castle shaped bucket is cheating, but you gotta go with what works.
Michael, ever industrious and focused continues his quest to master the sand both on the beach and in his mouth.
I love this shot. Three little monkeys showing off their Target brand diapers and having the time of their lives. This picture makes me think if we end up in Jacksonville near the beach, that might not be so horrible.
Michael squints into the sun but is having so much fun. I love the little dimple.
Still concentrating on digging, but his tell-tale wet pants speak of his foray into the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe this summer we can visit Momo and take a drive to Holly Beach - one of my favorite places to go as a kid and formerly one of the dirtiest beaches in the world prior to the hurricane. Since the hurricane it's been a no swimming zone, but you can't spend the day crabbing without a brief stop at Holly Beach.
Ryan and Uncle Zach wait in line for some tasty grub at The Spot across the street from the beach. The kids were starving and luckily I had a few animal crackers and goldfish in my diaper bag to stave off three "I need food NOW" meltdowns.
Poor James was so tired and grumpy. He wanted to get his goldfish by himself, but since I left our previous goldfish container at some random restaurant, his little hand doesn't fit in this container. Very frustrating for a tired young man. We finally found a table, and The Spot has a condiment bar. While we waited for our food, Michael ate a ton of sliced tomatoes, Ryan had pickles, mayo, and ketchup, and James had several pickles as well. It was very nice to have seafood on the beach, and after we finished lunch, the troops loaded up and headed back to Houston.
Here James sports his bamboo cane. We had to stop Uncle Zach from burning it to bits the night before. James was very excited to tromp around the backyard wielding his cane. The phrase "none shall pass" definitely comes to mind.
Ryan, needing to spend a little more time in the water, hangs out in the pool that the neighbors lent Zach & Mandy. I admire Mandy's friendly nature. She always knows who all of her neighbors are. Bob and I have lived here four years and only really know the neighbors across the street. I guess we are either shy or anti-social.
James and Aunt Mandu survey the backyard making plans for shenanigans. Bob, the kids, and I had a great time with them, and I think they enjoyed having us there as well. Maybe sometime in the future, Aunt Mandy and Uncle Zach can make us a cousin to play with.