This summer, we took our first family vacation with the quadruplets. In fact, we took them to the same beach and condominiums where my grandparents took my mother and her siblings, then all of their grandchildren for decades. While we were on Mustang Island, we made sure to introduce the quads to our tried and true family traditions. We also added a few new items for our future family trips.
1. Stuffed the car before bed and departed before daybreak at 6:00 am.
My dad has always been an early riser, waking up before dawn on regular days. On the eve of a vacation, he’s generally awake giddy with anticipation while some people are just going to bed. We ALWAYS left for a road trip between five and six am.
2. Stopped at Czech Stop for kolaches
George introduced our family to the Czech Stop, which is located just north of Waco, Texas. There you’ll find a variety of fruit and sausage kolaches (the most authentic you’ll find!) as well as other tasty treats. The kiddos all enjoyed free M & M cookies.
3. Snapped a picture with Buc-ee
I learned about the goodness of Buc-ee’s on my way home from our first annual Quad Mom trip. It’s a family-friendly gas station designed to meet the needs of travelers. They have spotless bathrooms complete with attendants and sanitizer as well as an array of tasty treats, supplies, and Texas memorabilia. If you ever travel through or to Texas, it’s a must stop shop.
4. Played in the sand
Of course no beach trip is complete without playing in the sand. Sydney had some difficulty with the dry variety, which posed a few problems, but damp sand was okay in her book. We ordered an incredible Sand-Free Multimat, which is designed to repel sand, but it arrived about six hours after our departure. I guess we’ll have to try it next year!
5. Caught sand crabs
If you wait until dark and bring flashlights, you can easily spot and capture sand crabs darting along the sand. The kids had a blast chasing the little guys then setting them free. Whenever anyone in our family mentions catching crabs we all have a good chuckle. When my Uncle Dale was a little boy, Grandma chose a shirt for him at the souvenir shop that read, “I Caught Crabs on Padre Island”. Thanks to the family tradition of catching sand crabs, Grandma thought it was perfect. When Dale returned to school after summer break donning his new shirt, the principal called Grandma in a tizzy due to the vulgar connotations…..Poor Grandma didn’t realize the shirt wasn’t referring to sand crabs….
I recall my dad and Grandpa taking us to the pier at night to see creatures including sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks swimming in the sea. This time, we visited during the daytime and instead watched fishermen reeling in their daily catch.
George and I started this tradition with the kids. Next door to Scoopy’s is Snoopy’s restaurant, which is where our family enjoyed sea food on the water for decades. We thought the kids would enjoy a sweet, summer treat more though.
8. Constructed sand castles
Rylin insisted we build a “large sandcastle” before departing from the beach each day. This particular one was the largest of our structures.
My father’s favorite pastime is fishing, and he’s been itching to take the quads fishing to share his passion since they were infants. For Father’s Day, we gave him a pair of Mickey Mouse fishing poles and a pair of Frozen fishing poles. He was ecstatic to have four kiddie fishing poles and to take the kids on their first fishing trip. Rylin wasn’t terribly keen on the process, but liked her “girlish” pole. Sydney appeared bored until she reeled in a perch, which excited her. The boys really tuned into the process and seemed to enjoy themselves. Harper caught the largest fish of the bunch, a mangled looking dogfish.
Harper caught a dogfish, Syney caught a fishing weight and perch, the others caught perch.
10. Bought souvenirs at Ocean Treasures
I fondly remember browsing Ocean Treasures with my sister in search of the best bit of memorabilia. The kids had an equally good time cruising the long aisles for something of their own. Harper traveled all the way to Padre Island only to find ANOTHER fire truck for his burgeoning fleet. He later regretted his choice and begged for a submarine instead. The best part of our shopping adventure was seeing the magestic sandcastle.
After driving all the way to the beach, we came home with ANOTHER fire truck, stuffed poodle, plastic sting ray, and a pink sea shell.
11. Cooled down in the pool
It’s family tradition to take a dip in the pool after a day at the beach. The first day, the quads were uneasy in the baby pool, but quickly learned to steady themselves and splash around with their older cousins.
12. Played in the surf
With close supervision, the kids learned to enjoy jumping the waves and watching the tide come in.
13. Took a cousin picture on the seawall
Before departing and heading to our separate homes, we’ve always snapped a photo with all of the cousins. This year we had the largest group of cousins ever, which included my cousins, Jennifer and Lindsay with their children. A total of ten kids under ten outnumbered the nine adults.
14. Took a stroll down the beach to collect shells
It’s always interesting how the tide brings in different things each year. Over the years, I’ve visited this particular beach many times and it’s never exactly the same. This year, there were a few scattered sea shells but many blue crabs, which I’ve never seen before.
15. Fed the seagulls
The seagulls are a ravenous lot. If you toss a bit of food into the air, they’ll artfully scoop it up before it touches the ground.
16. Snapped family photos at sunset
We’ve always taken family beach photos, but this year I wanted them to be more than just random shots. I hoped to snap a few worthy of hanging on the walls or putting on a Christmas card. I charged our DSLR camera and meticulously coordinated the family wardrobe. I also heeded Lindsay’s tips for taking excellent beach photos. I made a grave error, however. I did not leave the DSLR camera outside long enough for it to fully acclimate to the humidity. Much to my dismay the lens was horribly foggy. Thankfully, George’s Samsung Galaxy 6 takes excellent photos, and was able to capture these. Despite being a phone camera, I was able to enlarge and print several for our gallery. Sydney wasn’t willing to let her precious toes touch the sand so we either carried her, or we improvised and sat on a table covered in an aqua picnic blanket.
I was admittedly concerned about how the quads would handle a long road trip, and sleeping away from home, but they surprised me. We stopped only twice each direction and whining was minimal. Of the in car entertainment items I packed, the Melissa & Doug On The Go Water Wow Books kept the kids occupied the longest by far. Our trip was such a success, we are already making plans for next year, and hope to include the family members missing from this trip.
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