Surae, Future Artist?

Surae really loves painting and drawing.  We got the easel and paints out the other day and she had a blast.  She got pretty upset with me when I told her that it was time to go in and eat dinner.  Apparently, she was still in the process of creating. 

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Happy 4th Birthday Graham!

Graham turned 4 on Sunday.  What a day!  Not only was it Graham’s birthday, but it was also Father’s Day, our anniversary, and Michael’s parent’s anniversary.  That’s a lot to pack into one day.  Needless to say, our anniversary fell to the wayside, but we plan on celebrating it in July hopefully. 

The birthday festivities began on Saturday with the arrival of my brother.  He had a hockey match on Sunday, so decided to come into town a day early to hang out with Graham and spoil him rotten.  This turned out to be a great idea as Graham and Uncle Chris needed to catch up on some bonding time.  This time to bond even included a heated game of “rag in the face” that ultimately led to the sprinkler, Mr. Volcano’s ultimate demise, but sometimes with good fun you have to pay the price. 

The next day, we let Graham open our presents before the chaos of the party ensued.  He loved his big boy 4 year old roller skates.  He had seen other kids wearing those and decided that when he was 4, he would magically wake up and be able to skate.  He also was extremely excited about a daddy gift selection, the space alien laser.  I was not too excited about this purchase, but sometimes Mommy’s get overruled.

For the party, we set up a ton of water toys including this great big octopus that Uncle Chris gave Graham for his birthday.  Michael’s friend, Mike, also let us borrow a bouncy tent which was a hit.  Thanks Mike!!  It looked like it might rain and although we desperately need it, I was hoping it would hold off for the party which it did. 

Graham decided he didn’t want cake this year, but an ice cream sundae party instead.  So, I found these toy sand buckets that seemed perfect for loading with ice cream and other goodies.  It worked well and definitely cut down on the mess. 

After ice cream, Graham and his friends opened presents.  He had a great time ripping through the gifts and is just now starting to process what all of those goodies actually are.  It was a bit of a whirlwind. 

All in all, Graham had a great time.  He was completely exhausted today and I also subjected him today to his 4 year old check up where he had to get 5 shots and a finger prick.  Poor guy!  He’s definitely growing up really fast.  Before long, he’ll be telling me he is tired of being 4 and ready to be 5, but hopefully he’ll bask in the glory of 4 for at least a little while.

Huntington Beach State Park Camping Trip

This past weekend, Michael, Graham, Surae, and I headed out to Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, SC for a beach camping trip.  We packed up the tent, sleeping bags, kites, coolers, fishing poles, and everything else in our house Friday morning and set out on the road.  This was Surae’s second camping trip, but her first beach trip.  When we arrived, we immediately took off for the beach.  It just seemed like the right thing to do after being stuck in the car for 5 hours.  Graham was thrilled to be at the beach and had been asking every morning for about the entire week prior if it was time to go to the beach yet.  Graham, like me, is an on the go kind of person and loves exploring new places.  He is born to travel I think and is a social butterfly to boot.  After checking out the beach for a bit, we set up camp.  We had a great spot with beach access right next to us.  The spots in Huntington are fairly well shaded.  Our spot bordered the woods, so we had a resident bunny rabbit as well as lots of raccoons and even a snake that came for a visit.  There was also a killdeer nesting really close to our camp on the way to the bath house.

The rest of Friday was spent setting up camp and walking around Huntington.  Graham brought his bike and was finally able to get some major riding time in since the ground is so flat and he still has a bit of a fear of riding down hills.  He loved it and rode his bike continually while we were there.

On Saturday, we first took a walk out to the freshwater lagoon where the alligators dwell.  You can also see so many amazing birds out there including lots of egrets.  Those alligators are plentiful in that lagoon and it is super cool to see up close. 

After that, we packed a bag and spent most of the day on the beach.  It was warm, but really breezy and felt amazing on the beach.  Graham practiced riding the waves with his daddy while I mostly caught up on some long missed reading while Surae played with sand toys next to me.  Even at the beach she mostly clung to me like glue.  Later on in the day, Pop Pop and Ronnie came to hang out with us at the beach.  Graham was especially thrilled to share this beach experience with them.  That night, we met up with friends for dinner at the GulfStream Cafe which was very yummy.  Later on, Michael, my dad, Ronnie, and I sat by the fire and talked, a great way to end the day!

Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the Myrtle Beach offerings and let Graham ride some rides.  Pop and Ronnie, sadly, headed back home.  We were originally heading for Family Kingdom Amusement Park, but it didn’t open until late, so we ended up at a new amusement park, Hard Rock Park.  I was a bit reluctant as it is pretty pricey even though the kids were free and I thought it might be geared more towards adults, but Michael wanted to go for it.  He was totally right on with this one.  There were a ton of rides that Graham could go on and even some Surae could go on too.  The best part though was that the park was empty and I mean completely empty.  We were able to just stay on rides without getting off which is so cool.  I remember my brother and I having an experience like that at Busch Gardens in FL once and it was just the best.  Not waiting in lines for rides just rocks.  Graham loved the roller coaster and also this psychedelic ride called, “Knights in White Satin.”  He rode that one 4 times.  It was a very cool park with a rock and roll theme.  I highly recommend it.  After that, we topped off the evening with a trip to Senor Frogs to make it a true Myrtle Beach night.  Good times!

On Monday morning, we first went to check out Atalaya, the Moorish-style winter home of Anna Hyatt and Archer Huntington, sculptress and philanthropist respectively.  It is on the grounds of Huntington and we did not get a chance to check it out last time we were there.  Well, we were missing out.  This place is amazing.  My favorite part was Anna’s indoor and outdoor studios where she did her sculpting.  Very cool!  Surae loved it particularly because the acoustics bounced back really well, so she yelled the whole time laughing and listening to her voice.  It was pretty cute. 

After that, we headed out to the beach again.  Graham met all kinds of kids and even one that he declared was his “surf buddy.”  He taught him how to surf on the shore with a skim board.  It was adorable to watch.  Surae made a friend too and shared her beach toys really well with him.  Michael caught a shark while fishing and was the envy of the entire beach especially the wide eyed children.  I continued to kick back and read, read, read.  I have missed out on that for a while.  I am working on “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” which is actually the book my mom was reading right before she passed away.  I have held onto it for a while wanting to read it, but have been unable to just because of the memories it conjures up, but I am really glad to be reading it now and it is making me feel a sense of connectedness.  Michael and I capped off the evening with steaks and chilling by the fire again. 

It was truly a great beach trip.  The kids were both great and I was a little worried.  Sometimes I’m just not sure how Surae is going to do, but she was amazing.  She and Graham both sat at their picnic table waving to passers by and acting like the welcoming committee.  They went to bed well and stayed asleep through the night.  They both woke up at the crack of dawn, but what can you do?  The tent does get hot and light pours right in.  It was good to get away and I am already looking forward to our next camping trip.  You can’t beat the Great Outdoors!