Sunday, August 3, 2008

A week spent in my dreams

This past week was incredible. Magical, almost. I was given the opportunity to spend a week at the luxurious Chatham Bars Inn with the kids, their two cousins (Lila & Charlotte, ages 8 & 10) and their two grandparents (known as Noni and Papa Bob... so that's what I called them as well!

Because I have known this family for a few years now, I have gotten to know the grandparents fairly well. They are two of the most generous people I know and just genuinely nice. This is their 2nd year taking the grandkids on this trip for a week, but last year Jeremiah only got to go down with me for an overnight because he was so little. This year they had all the kids stay all week (but had me come as well!). I'll call is a "working vacation" because it was A LOT of work managing and caring for five active children, but it was more fun than I could ever have dreamed of!

Here are a few pictures of the resort.

They had these beautiful flowers everywhere. I don't know what they're called, but they were in full bloom and just gorgeous! I love sunsets and sunrises as well and because we had the best weather (it never rained during the day or evening!!) we were not limited in any activities. (although, I had packed the kids for rain everyday... so I had brought many indoor games, crafts, DVD, etc., just in case! Needless to say, the car had every inch of space packed!)

I was also VERY fortunate to have my own room in the main lodge. The grandparents stayed with all five kids in one of the glorious cottages, and I would arrive in the morning before the kids woke up and leave for my room after they were in bed at night. My room was also the "nap" location in the afternoons for Leo and Jeremiah. It was a treat to be able to nap with them and then go out on my deck to soak up some sun and read while they finished their naps! They came and turned down my bed EVERY night!

One a side note: The way I got the boys to nap (because who wants to nap when it's sunny and you know there's a pool just outside the building!) I would try and make it fun to lie down. We would start with eating the chocolate the hotel left on our beds each day after they made it. Then, we would have these running games where we would start in the hall and take a flying leap onto the bed. I would lift Jeremiah up and throw him on the VERY soft bed and Leo would run and jump with me. Literally, after one or two minutes each day the boys were "out for the count" and I was too! I just didn't sleep as long as they did. These boys RUN everywhere. Walking is unknown to them. So, they were TIRED!

Jeremiah - EXHAUSTED

On a side note about the inn: They had the nicest staff. From the door holders to waiters to the maids. No matter what you asked for there was never a "no". Always a "YES". And an enthusiastic one as well. No matter what the request... even as bizarre as it may be. And, sometimes, they would jump in an help me with the kids or do something without being asked. I was in awe of being treated in such a way but very grateful and appreciative. Very family friendly. They would come and clean your room two or three times a day and always ask if there was anything you needed. We got to know some of the staff pretty well and it was a pleasure. They would share information about their lives, or recommendations about what to do, etc. I would give each staff person a 5 star rating if I had the chance.

Okay, so about the week and what we did.

The pool was the number one hot spot. It was located right on the beach. There was a restaurant to one side and a grassy playing field to the left of it. We spent most mornings in the pool till lunch. Occasionally, we would take a break and play some of the organized games they had like "Family Kickball" or soccer or whatever. They had different activities every hour all day long for the kids! The pool was heated and that was nice because the ocean water was about 60 degrees!

As I mentioned, the resort has activities all day long for the kids. One was a pirate adventure on a boat! I went with Papa Bob, Leo and Jeremiah and they loved it. I loved it! We all got out faces painted and these pirate bandanas when we got there (and Noni had bought the boys these pirate shirts as well.) We practiced our pirate language... like Arrrr! or "Booty" or "Avast" which was a new one to me. It means " 'stop', but it is also a piratey exclamation of surprise. Then we set off to find our treasure on the boat using the clues we were given.
One the way we sang some pirate songs, practiced our new pirate language and saw some beautiful beaches. :)
Jeremiah - The Pirate.... Arrrrrr!!!!!!!

Well, I loved the pirate adventure, but along the way we saw an extra special treat! Hundreds of seals live in the water there and they came so close to our boat. They're friendly and beautiful!

I could have watched them for hours... but my fellow pirates wanted to find the treasure! Soon enough we found all the clues and ran into the treasure! We loaded our water guns and fired away!! We fought hard, but this "landlubber" surrendered and we took the booty!!
Leo LOVES sports. Anything that involves a ball and/or running. The cottage was next to a golf course and Papa Bob promised Leo he could play his first nine holes one afternoon. He was exstatic! Fortunately, the club house had golf clubs his size. So, Papa Bob, Leo and I played. Honestly, it was my first time as well playing nine holes, and we definitely fudged the rules of golf a little (with a ten stroke limit... or just carry your ball after you tee off to the green) so we didn't hold up EVERYONE behind us! Leo was SOOO happy and it made me so happy seeing him play!

The Kayyem's on our way to dinner...
The girls and Jeremiah

Well, not only was the resort incredible, but the food was AMAZING. Everything tasted good... even if I usually don't like it. Lobster rolls, fish and meat of all kinds, beautiful salads, etc... and then they had all the mac and cheese/pizza/fries for the kids! (and for me!) Dessert was a buffet and all I can say is "YUM!" One night we went into town for pizza and ice cream, but the other nights we went down to the beach-side restaurant for their themed dinners. One night was Pirate night! They gave the kids pirate stuff and were able to take a picture with a pirate!

Jeremiah was Terrified with a capital "T!" so, Noni told him to cover his eyes when the pirate would start walking over towards us. The pirate quickly learned (b/c of Jeremiah's screams) that he needed to stay away, but Jeremiah didn't stop looking for him the ENTIRE evening! It was so cute to see him cover his eyes, but peak through!
Everytime we ate here Jeremiah loved looking at this ship!
The dinner set-up was great because the kids would walk to the back and play in the sand with the counselors while the parents enjoyed some time eating more slowly and relaxing as the sun set. They had games like tag, tug of war, etc. At the end of the day, to have someone entertain the kids for an hour and then build a bonfire for smores was more than I could dream of and I was so appreciative!
Jeremiah was the judge in the middle and the boys kept loosing!

My top ten of the week:

10. Morning runs at 5:30 am while the sun was just rising
9. Eating. Food. Good FOOD. ANYTIME I wanted it :)
8. Swimming with the kids and playing water games
7. Sitting in the cabanas with the group, talking and laughing
6. Having my own room with a balcony!
5. Naps with Leo and Jeremiah. Cuddle time.
4. Seeing the looks on the kids faces all week. Happiness
3. Being treated like I was someone important. (Well, I am important... but just don't deserve to be treated as such!) :)
2. Jeremiah saying: "Cawa... come with me" as we would run through the water spouts holding hands or his continuous hugs and kisses... or just his smile lights up my face!
1. Knowing and feeling that my help made it possible for the grandparents to enjoy special and quality time with their grandchildren. Family is what it's all about :)


Shelly Karren said...

Cara, sounds like this was quite the "family" vacation. Glad you had such a wonderful time! Loved the photos of the seals.

HaH said...

I am SO jealous! You must have had so much fun!!

(the flowers in the first photo are hydrangea's. The cool thing about them is the color of their bloom changes based on what kind of soil the bush is planted in.)

HaH said...

ps...I think I'm going to try to work in the word "avast" in a sentence tomorrow at work. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Maylene said...

That place looks like so much fun! Maybe sometime we'll have to come out there and stay there and you can come with us...but you don't have to watch my kids :) That's cute that J. calls you "Cawa"...he is such a cute little kid.

Emma said...

Wow - that sounds like a little kids heaven - all the pirate stuff - lucky kids to have grandparents and "Cawa" want to spend such quality time with them. Neato.

Becca Fitzpatrick said...
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