Huntington Beach 2017

We put it off several times: once, because someone was sick; a second time, because the timing was no longer convenient. Did we put it off a third time? I can’t remember. But this weekend has been a long time in the making. We were originally going to spend last Labor Day weekend at Huntington Beach, but we ended up spending Memorial Day — that seems appropriate, timing-wise, as they two three-day weekends bookend the school year.

We first went about six years ago.

Huntington 1

We fell in love immediately. We went back again at some point, but none of us can remember when exactly. It was pre-E, for sure, but that’s about all we can remember. Perhaps the link above is to our second visit? it all gets smeared in the memory. I reread the entry and find this:

Her first beach experience, some two years ago, was moderately traumatic for her. The sound of the waves terrified her, and the waves were forever chasing her form the water’s edge when she finally got the nerve to approach.

This year was different.

That first time at the ocean was at Edisto, so this must be have been our first time at Huntington. Still, it’s only a year before the Boy’s birth: when did we go again, pre-E? Again, smeared it the memory.

So I want to set about to to write down all the details of this experience I can remember, knowing that if I don’t, I won’t remember it. But I set out doing so with the understanding that I will only pick and choose, letting the pictures do the rest.

The first day we arrived and, after setting up camp, headed out to the beach. The Girl took her boogie board out to test the waves; the Boy, after a few minutes, turned to the gigantic sand box that lay all around him. Then they switched. That pretty much sums up the entire weekend: playing in the sand, playing in the waves. After all, what else can you do at the beach?

But there were the subtle changes. L, no longer afraid of the water, gradually found the courage to go out with me a little further than before, looking for more boggie-board-able waves. The Boy was at first reticent to go far beyond the last little crests and bubbles of waves that had been churning inland for some tens of feet. He finally found the courage, with a little help from K and me, to go out further, and to require less of a reassuring hand while doing so.

Day two started at Brookgreen Gardens. “We’ve been here three times now — we have to go,” declared K. It is famous for its sculptures, a fact interested me and bored L — until she started seeing statues from Greek mythology, her current obsession thanks to the Percy Jackson series.

The final day — another morning on the beach.

A perfect weekend, over all.

Afternoon at the Lake

I wouldn’t know about them but for the Olympics, which have put in us in front of the television more than usual lately, but State Farm has been apparently hiring known musicians to embed their “Like a good neighbor” in one of their stylized creations. Clever, I guess, but it’s a meaningless ad if you don’t have good neighbors. We have great neighbors, and we spent the afternoon at the lake with them today.


E has been eyeing our neighbor’s boat for years, and Mr. F has been promising to take him out on the boat for ages. Today was the day. Mrs. P, who works at E’s preschool, told us that he’s been talking about today’s outing for the whole week. “Everyone knows he’s going out on the boat with Mr. F,” she laughed.


When we arrived, everyone went straight into the water while Mr. F went to put the boat in the water. The plan was simple: swim, lunch, boat ride.


The first part of it went fine. They even managed to slip a short boat ride in just before lunch.

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But then the rain began and intensified and it was fairly clear fairly quickly that we weren’t going on another boat ride. The thunder began and it became clear that we weren’t even going back into the water.




So it’s a good thing the kids got the short boat ride in before lunch.

I was talking to the Boy about it, wondering how he’d take it. I tried to set things up to ease the reality of going home sooner than expected.

“But we’re big boys and not really upset about it, right?”


“Because we can’t control the weather, right?”

“Nope, can’t control the weather.”

If only all disasters were so easily averted.

Day Trip to Charleston

The Yorktown at Patriot’s Point

USS Clamagore

Isle of Palms

Here and There

Two stories, one family. Or maybe one family, one story, temporarily told in two parts. The highlight of the day came in the morning, without question. Mug of coffee in hand, I headed downstairs to chat with the better portion of our family. They’re finishing up lunch; I just had breakfast.

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The Boy began with the important information: new additions to the toy collection. With money from Babcia, he bought an entire set of air-travel-based toys: airplane, cargo lifter, the stair-mobile that we occasionally see but almost never use. Except at Krakow’s airport.

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He put a couple of toys down in front of the computer and proclaimed that I could play with those. I suggested we might have to wait until the family is reunited.

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In the meantime, the Girl has dashed up to her room (which means bolting up four sets of stairs) and back to show me what she chose with her money from Babcia: a small Nerf-launching pistol to go along with her Nerf-launching bow that’s still here, in South Carolina.

It’s likely to be a daily or near-daily occurrence. “What kind of plastic nonsense will she have next Wednesday, when you guys go to the flea market?” I ask. L just jumped in joyful anticipation.

Feed the Cats!

K and the kids are now somewhere over the Atlantic, on their way to Munich, where they’ll have ninety minutes to make a connection to Krakow, where K’s godfather will pick them up and drive them two hours south almost into Slovakia, where Babcia is waiting with chicken broth and homemade egg noodles. The ninety-minute ride to the airport went fine, the check-in process was flawless, and we even had time to sit and share an over-priced bottle of orange juice before they entered the terminal area restricted to those of us who lack a ticket. I wound through the line with them, ducking out at the last minute just before K and the kids had to take off shoes, belts, etc. The Boy came back over to the rope barrier and gave me another hug and kiss. The Girl followed, on the brink of tears, reminding me for the thousandth time to…

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Day two, we messed up. We turned a vacation into a trip, complete with deadlines and alarm clocks.


Not that these are bad things, or that the outing itself — a trip on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad — was a waste.


There was lots to see, including a quarry that absolutely fascinated the Boy.


Not to mention the simple fact that we were on a train: it’s hard to over-estimate the excitement of a little boy who loves Thomas and Friends almost as much as he loves Bob the Builder, and to combine the two was a moment of sheer perfection.


The views weren’t bad either.






But we decided, in the end, that perhaps it would have been better just to hang around the camp site — to keep it a vacation.

The Wheels on the Car

Go round and round.

The driver of the car says, “Sing a little more quietly, please.”


The Boy in the back says, “Hi there, Tata!”


The kids in the car listen to Frozen together.


Well, not quite metrically accurate, but you could probably make it fit.

The New Tent

We’ll be heading out camping as a family of four for the first time on Memorial Day weekend. Only problem: our tent (four-person? or is it a three-person tent?) is definitely not enough for the four of us. Enter: our six-person tent.

Home Again

When I was a kid, my father went on business trips once or twice a year — South Africa, England, and various states in the US. For me, it was a highlight, because we often got to take him to the airport. Watching planes take off and land from the observation deck was sheer heaven for a small boy. Of course the real highlight came on his return, for he always brought something back for us from wherever he sent. It was a bit like Santa in September.

An acquaintance at church mentioned at the post-Christmas-concert pot-luck that in 2013, he’d been in something like fifty countries on business. That’s a lot of time in a plane, a lot of time away from one’s family, a lot of nights in hotels. I both envy him and pity him. Seeing that much of the world would certainly be a blessing, and it would certainly help one appreciate what’s here in the States and likely produce a sense of the possibilities based on what’s in other countries. Travel changes the traveler forever. Still, so much time away from home, from family, makes it a bad trade.

As a teacher, I don’t get many opportunities to go on business trips. Conferences are about the extent of it. So when I do go for a conference somewhere, I realize anew how much of an aggravation ten countries a year — let alone fifty countries a year — would be. But I also smile at the thought of seeing L’s smile when I say, “Come here, sweetie, I brought something back for you.”

Rose hill Plantation Redux

So many changes since the last time we were here. The Girl was younger than the Boy, less than half his age, and the Boy, of course, was not even a thought yet — at least not a thought in our minds.


The house of course hasn’t changed.


It hasn’t changed since before the Civil War, with wrought iron fencing surrounding two magnolias from the same era.


The magnolias certainly haven’t grown as much in the intervening years as the Girl has grown. The last time we were here, with Dziadek, we took the Girl through the house tour in our arms.


Today, it’s the Boy’s turn, only he doesn’t want to go on any quiet tours. He and I head out into the surrounding area, looking for sticks — the Boy’s newest obsession — and pass the time while the girls explore the house.



After the tour, we take some portraits,



L and K dance a bit,


then L finds a tree to climb while the Boy continues looking for sticks.


Six years, many more changes. How different will we all be the next time we visit the plantation?