We went on vacation the weekend of Mother’s Day. Back in December I had received several generous gifts from loved ones, and we had decided that instead of buying “stuff” we would use the money to take a vacation. The Handy Man was not able to go as he was saving his time off for GAP. That left me going with seven of my children (Lindy down to Curious George), Sweet Pea, Six, another two friends of Star Child, and one of Lindy’s friends, too. Yes, that would be 13 of us.
We rented a house on Edisto Island, SC. It was a gorgeous place to be. We were a very short walk to the beach–we could see the ocean from the front porch. The house was older and had all the charms of a house that has obviously weathered hurricanes. The floors were uneven, half the kitchen outlets didn’t work, and there were a lot of palmetto bugs (roaches) but other than that, it was a great house. Two refrigerators and a washer and dryer make up for a LOT when you are traveling with SO many people!
We divvied up the beds so that all sleeping arrangements were appropriate. The big guys got beds to themselves. I shared a king bed with Curious George and Lil’ Adventurer (Lil’ Adventurer slept in the middle after getting pushed off the bed by Curious George two nights in a row. Curious George is forceful in his snuggles, even while asleep.) Lindy, Gladys Mae and Lindy’s friend shared a queen bed…they were a bit crowded. Six and Star Child shared a pull out sofa. And Dee shared the bed in the detached room with Little Princess and Sweet Pea. Little Princess is immune to the sounds of a screaming baby, so that worked out just fine.
I had planned all the meals in detail and had taken three coolers of food. I had also taken my crock pot and my larger frying pans. I never assume that a “fully stocked kitchen” is actually equipped for cooking for a crowd. It was good that I did.
We had also been blessed to find a place for the girls to practice their archery as Collegiate Nationals were the following week. I had called a nature preserve in the middle of the island to see if they knew of a place where we could practice archery. The young man had referred me to Dillard who owned the water sports and tackle shop. The shop manager, Robin, had offered the use of her place if Dillard was not able to help us. In the end, after determining that Dillard’s house was surrounded by too much wet marsh, we had called Robin and she had very gladly said we could practice at her house. This all took place on Saturday when we arrived. Sunday morning before we left to go the island’s Baptist church, Robin called me to tell me that she and Dillard’s wife had run into another friend, who happened to be Robin’s landlord. Captain Jim said that he and his wife had plenty of room, freshly cut grass and practiced archery all the time in their front yard. So Sunday after church, we drove over the Captain Jim’s house to check it out. It was so beautiful! Captain Jim and his wife have an organic farm with peacocks, chickens, ducks, a cow, a pig and a donkey. And plenty of room for the archers to practice. It was perfect.
The rest of us enjoyed the beach. It was not always a happy beach–there were off shore storms that had threatened to leave us with a mostly rainy week. Instead, we had mostly sunshine and just some rough waves and a few days of nasty undertow. Little Princess and I got caught in a riptide current one day, but after swimming parallel to the beach for a few minutes, we were able to make it safely back to shore. After that experience, I required the younger children to go no deeper than their knees for the rest of the day. The beach was a great one for shells. We found some really nice conch shells and tons of pretty and perfect clams and other bivalves. Lindy even found some sea glass.
There is not much to do on Edisto Island….the state park beach was expensive, so we didn’t go there. We were on a pretty tight budget, so eating out was not really an option. There was one grocery store on the entire island…a Bi Lo (sell high). We were within walking distance to the Bi Lo, as it was only about half a mile away. I actually made that walk to get some small items.
We did visit two places to make our trip somewhat educational. The first place was the Edisto Island Museum. We saw lots of interesting historical artifacts, learned about the island’s history during and after the civil war, and learned about some of the important families of the island. After about two hours, the entire party had seen the whole museum and everyone was ready to go. Later in the week we went to Botany Bay. Botany Bay was neat because it was comprised of two adjoining plantations. Botany Bay is mostly a driving tour, but there were a few places where we got out and walked around. We took a long path into the woods to find a special marker, which turned out to be nothing more than a plaque against a tree. It was good exercise. We got a chance to talk and walk with different members of our large party…it was fun. There is also a beach at Botany Bay. We had to hike 1/2 mile over a causeway out to the beach. No one is allowed to take the shells, so the beach was COVERED in beautiful shells…tons of unusual conch shells and the like. Star Child picked up a few and decorated the trees as obviously countless others before her had done. It was a wild, untamed beach, and it was beautiful.
Most of our vacation was spent on the beach relaxing, or back at the house playing games (cribbage was a favorite) and reading. The kids enjoyed having cable TV. I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation…as relaxing as it was, cooking and washing towels for that many people is a lot of work.
My favorite moment was the one on Mother’s Day morning when the house was waking, breakfast was baking, and Star Child came to me quietly with this:
8 Reasons Why You’re the Best Mom ever:
1. You’re the sweetest, most loving & caring woman I know
2.You always know the right words of encouragement for any situation
3. You always keep going no matter what
4. You’re always there for me, and I’m starting to see that you’re right about a lot
5. You’re so passionate about people
6. You put my needs before yours
7. You always buy Cheerios. I love Cheerios
8. You let come with you to places.
It is a painting she did for me. The symbol in the upper right is actually the sister symbol she and her sisters made up. ( I’ve heard a rumor that some day sister tattoos are planned.) Each number corresponds to each of my children, all of who were polled about my virtues. It was the sweetest gift. I will remember to look at this when I am feeling like a parental failure.
We had a great time on vacation. Next time, though, I am not going to go on vacation before we have ended school. Getting back to finish the last few weeks has been excruciating. I am glad we did it, though. We had a blast!