I honestly don't know what it is that allows me to believe it's possible to go away for a week with five other adults and one energetic two year old and do any relaxing. But relaxing is boring, right? AND, at the last minute, we had three more join our crew! My Mom's youngest brother Jan and his two kiddos – Elliot and Jessica – drove down from Sioux Falls to hang out for the week. And, as evidenced by the 1,121 photos I took, we had A BALL. (That number is actually NOT an exaggeration. I got a little shutter-happy.)
I'll spare you (and your computers) the heartache and TRY to post only my favorites — but it's still a lot, so click below if you have the stomach for it.
While we originally had dreams of taking Colt to the beach for the first time this summer, we decided we weren't up for driving 16 hours with a squirmy two year old. So we drove the four gloriously short hours to Osage Beach, Missouri instead. Tan-Tar-A. I'd heard about it from friends and we decided it was perfect for our group. And with Jan, Elliot and Jessica we ended up with seven adults and three kiddos – not a bad crew!
We got to Tan-Tar-A on Saturday, in time for supper and bedtime. But Sunday! We ventured out to find some trouble adventure. Evidently, we're early risers. Well, earlier than the people who work at the pool. So we waited for 9 am to roll around by exploring the marina and saying good morning to the fish and ducks.
But then! Pool! Oh my word, this child. With the water. He thinks he can swim. And has zero fear of the water. I try very hard to see that as a positive thing, trust me. But we came prepared with various floatation devices anyway. Over the course of the week, Colt wore arm floaties, used a pint-sized swim ring or wore his life jacket — depending on the need. We tried all three and the ring seemed to work best in the pool. So we went with it.
And then – the most fun this kid has had his entire life. The Big Green Slide. There was a nice, long water slide right next to the main pool. And we all took turns going down with Colt. The first day I hadn't quite mastered taking good photos of the ear-to-ear grins coming off the end of that slide, but there are more later. MANY more. Here's a little taste.
Sunday night was dinner at The Happy Fisherman, which we were hoping would be a cute, local place brimming with charm and character and friendly service. We didn't quite get what we were looking for… but no one went hungry. I think they were having an off night – but the atmosphere was fun!
The next two mornings, the boys got up and played golf. Unfortunately, my request for action photos of their golf outing was denied. Shocking, I know. So you'll have to use your imagination to picture Jan and Jeff enjoying their Boys' Day Out at the course. But as a consolation prize, there's this:
Grandma insisted that we all pose for a quick photo as the boys were heading to the golf course and the rest of us were headed to the pool Monday morning. Left to Right is Jan, Sarah, Jeff, Becky, Laura, Jessica, Elliot, and Grandpa/Colt.
After a short morning in the pool —
And while the boys were golfing, we inquired about activities on the lake. Which means…
Yep. Captain Miles and his sidekick Richie took us out on the beautiful lake so we could try our hand at Parasailing. I was a little worried Colt would be afraid of the boat – but I'm obviously ridiculous. He loved every second. The speed. The water. The wind.
Becky went first – such a trooper. And Colt was totally fine with it. Waving, smiling, enjoying the excitement.
But when it was Mama's turn, he wasn't quite so supportive. Poor little guy was a little concerned with what was happening, but managed to keep it together enough to cheer me on.
Couple things. First, parasailing is REALLY fun. Second, you are WAY the heck up there. It feels MUCH higher than it looks. But after several minutes of white-knuckling the harness, I decided to live a little and let go. So relaxing. If you can put aside the fact that you're 400+ feet in the air… Strapped to a parachute and fastened to a speed boat by no more than this puny little knot.
We made it down in one piece and Colt was able to breathe again. Grandma and Elliot went up after us and Colt was back to enjoying himself. You'll notice below that I had a pretty good grip on the loop on the back of his life jacket. At one point, we cut through some seriously choppy water and everyone in the boat went airborne for a second. Colt practically went flying. After that, a hand through the life jacket handle was no longer just an over-cautious Mama gesture…
The boys eventually made it back from golfing to be regaled with parasailing stories, and we all got cleaned up for supper. Before supper, the whole group humored me and my attempts to get a nice family photo. None of us can really remember the last time we all got dressed and posed for an honest to goodness family picture. So it was about darn time. Here we are – Martin Family circa 2010.
Jeff and I always make it a point to get our photo taken in sunglasses – can't really remember when or why it started, but one of my favorite photos from our wedding day is one with our shades on. So, of course, we had to try and get a sunglasses pic of the gang.
Then, as long as we were all dolled up and having such a great time (absolutely melting in the sun…) we decided to take MORE. (Thanks again, everyone, for being such good sports.)
We waited to take the Hood Family Photo until the end, and Colt was done posing - not to mention we were all melting from the heat. So it's not "the perfect photo", but it's us.
That night, dinner was at a little place called Mexicali Blues – which was wonderful! Colt and his chicken strips were invited to eat at the end of the table with Grandma and Grandpa, so off they went. Later, I looked over to catch Grandpa helping Colt determine which was his drink (milk) and which was Grandma's drink (margarita!).
We had good dinner and good company, and Colt took the opportunity to show Grandma his (nonexistent) boo-boos. Such a pitiful little thing.
By Tuesday, I'd gotten much better at using the multi-shot function on my camera and was able to capture some pretty priceless smiles coming off the end of The Big Green Slide.
(If you haven't been clicking on these to see them larger/full size, now's the time.)
It's worth mentioning that it's a lot harder than it looks to slide while holding a giggling two year old. Somehow Aunt Becky was the best at it. By the second day she could get both of them down the slide with no one's head going under water!
Also, this slide is largely why I ended up taking so many photos that week. It takes bursts of 6 or 7 at a time, so it's easy to accumulate lots of pictures in a short amount of time. Also… Grandma had the camera for a bit and before she got the hang of it, she took more than a few bursts of photos of an empty slide… And complete strangers… It's ok Grandma! You came around!
Here's a shot from the top of the slide.
And Mama on the slide.
Then it was time to dry out a little and hit the playground. It was post-nap, pre-dinner but it felt like a SAUNA. We were dripping with sweat but Colt paid no mind. He loved this little playground and Grandma, Grandpa and Elliot even got in on the action.
Supper – sadly – was another dud. This time it was another local place called Jake Culpeeper's Cattle Company. We would find out too late that it is the sister restaurant of The Happy Fisherman. After waiting over an hour for our food, it was actually very good, but the little guy doesn't have much room for a lot of extra patience in that little body, so he got a little antsy. All in all we had a good dinner and enjoyed the company.
Last day! We spent the morning at the pool – where else? And went down the slide about 600 more times. Can't get too much of a good thing, right?
We came. We swam. We parasailed. We slid. We had a really good vacation and can't wait to get back to Tan-Tar-A someday. Happy Summer, Martin Family!