It was our last trip of the summer, and our twelfth(ish) annual family vacation – the one we take with my family instead of buying each other presents. Not having to buy presents AND a “free” vacation? It’s such a win.
We started this tradition when there were no kids, then eventually began adding one kid per year for a half-decade.
The first year that we had all five cousins on the trip, they looked like this:
And now they look like this.
I’ll let you guess which of those years was easier.
This year, did all the Florida things.
We beached (count five kids – they’re all there. Did you find them? That’s what we do on the beach – count to five over and over),
We ran to and from the beach in our pajamas to get a better view,
We learned what was REALLY at the end of the rainbow,
(Is she taking a picture of her dog pooping at the end of the rainbow? I did, so I guess I can’t judge.)
We ran into random men with parrots,
We complained about our hands being covered in parrot germs,
We sand castled,
We crab hunted at least three different species (and/or goaded the bravest children into doing it for us),
(Cape San Blas is apparently the most popular Crab Hangout Spot in the world. See all those dots? Crabs. All crabs.)
We corralled everyone for family photos, which first requires one tribute for a lighting check, and MY GOODNESS did my tribute offer some flair with his role.
He’s for sure going to get picked up by a modeling agency solely because of this blog post.
Okay on to those family photos…
(Nope, not that one.)
(Okay that one will work.)
(Since we’re on a roll, we should try a different location.)
(Nope, there’s always that one kid.)
Oh and every now and then we relaxed.
We also taught all the kids how to play Mafia, which they then became OBSESSED with, and I realized how remarkably good I was at swaying their collective opinions. I could make them turn on someone with just five words. I felt the addictive rush of power after being on the winning side for 8 out of 8 of our games, and realized that I really should consider a career change to either detective or member of the actual mafia. I’ll let you know what I decide.
And finally, we all studied intensely a pair of giant Walkingstick bugs. When Chris brought them up “as a large gift” for me (then lifted the lid and they jumped toward me and I screamed), he told the kids, “Look! It’s a baby riding on a Mommy’s back!”
We all oohed and aahed at how adorable this was, and I fussed at the children for trying to detach the precious family.
“Don’t do that to the baby!! He could DIE!!!”
After asking my resident Twitter Scientist, I discovered that actually, the males of this species are a lot smaller than the females, and the actual connection of the creatures at the rear as opposed to what I suppose I imagined – at the mother’s tiny teat – began to make so much more sense.
That poor female. She thought she had a chance of escape with our kid’s help. And then I stepped in and made them end their detaching process.
I went and found Chris. “THAT WAS NO BABY RIDING ON ITS MOTHER’S BACK!!”
He laughed at me. “I know that! I just made that story up for the kids.”
Five hours later, they were still on the porch. And still very much attached.
That night as I was lying in bed thinking about that exhausted female Walkingstick, I googled and discovered that this particular variety have an extremely unique “odiferous secretion” that they can shoot, with surprising accuracy, up to 15 inches. And furthermore, if this secretion is shot into one’s eye, which is a usual target, it can cause pain as severe as if you’d had molten lead poured in your eye socket. The pain fades in a few hours. The next morning, you wake up with a completely scarlet eye that makes light and pressure so unbearable that you are incapacitated for 48 hours. Your vision continues to be impaired for five days.
Hey, y’all – Alabama isn’t the only Hunger Games stadium.
After sharing these findings with the family, along with my relief that the children were not attacked by that feisty little male, my mom had an aha moment. She said that as we were all crowded around observing our new friends, she suddenly felt like she had something in her eye. It got worse, so she ran inside before we’d realized she was hurting. She couldn’t get it to quit, and finally threw her contacts away, and the pain subsided.
We can clearly conclude that the joy of our vacation was saved solely by a contact lens. We should all be so lucky as to have horrible vision.
So, thanks to Gramamma for taking it in the eye from a pair of amorous sticks for the rest of us, we can safely call this vacation a Thumbs-Up success.