Sunday, November 30, 2014

Prior Proper Planning

Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Classy, right? I'm not sure where this saying came from but our family (my sisters and I) use it a lot. We've used it so much in fact that we can just say the first three p's and know what is insinuated with the following without having to say them (which is most oft the case as there are always little people running around nowadays and I don't want to hear my two year old say "piss"). Anyhow - it's kind of a joke really but those who are close to me have more than likely heard me say this a few times and hey, despite it's classiness it rings true! 

Like in any other situation (vacation, starting school, birthday parties, etc) home birth requires prior preparation. Preparations for home birth (with our selected midwife) included things like:
~ reading, understanding and signing the agreement given to us by our midwife
~ regular prenatal appointments 
~ ordering a home birth kit
~ taking a home birth class
~ purchasing necessary/recommended supplies to have on hand when it was "go" time

Prior to our first meeting, my midwife and I communicated a little bit over email and in her very first email she sent me some information rich paperwork that covered some of the following: 
-who she was (her training and her philosophy)
One of my favorite things she had written in that document:  "Birth is unpredictable - I do trust the Lord for His protection and guidance - but it needs to be clear that I have no guarantees of a good outcome for any birth. I am not God or a fortune-teller or infallible - just a human being who believes that God made birth to work without intervention (most of the time) and that, if left to itself, the process will unfold normally, in good time and with the best outcome for mother and baby."
-services offered (detailed breakdown of prenatal, birthing, and postpartum care)
-fee scale/financial schedule

The prenatal schedule I followed was a bit different than those I followed with my previous midwives. I saw her every 4 weeks until I was 36 weeks and then I was moved to every two week appointments. In my particular situation, my midwife saw her patients in her home. She reserved a set day each week to see all of her prenatal appointments. I believe in her agreement she said she would be willing to make herself available for in-home visits if a patient so desired but there was an associated fee and I'm sure her availability for such largely depended on her schedule week to week with women who were due, etc. In my particular situation, prenatal visits included having my blood pressure and pulse taken, getting weighed, leaving a sample for routine urinalysis, being measured, palpated and having size and position of baby estimated, and fetal heart tones heard. I would say the most valuable component to my prenatal appointments was the emotional/physical counseling that they provided. Specifically I just felt like they were eager to be in tune with what I was thinking/feeling, etc. They wanted to know how I was sleeping, how I was eating, if I was active and if so in what way. If I was having an issue in any of the aforementioned areas they were eager to talk through it and address it which truthfully hasn't always been the case with prior providers I've worked with. 

The home birth kit I ordered was through a company which my midwife worked with. I ordered the kit online through the company's website. It included all kinds of necessary items such as (but not limited to): 
-sterile gloves
-alcohol swabs
-umbilical cord clamp
-sanitary napkins
-chuck it pads
You get the picture. I laughed when I got the kit because Tim and I had been watching the PBS series on DVD called "Call the Midwife". As part of their prenatal appointments the midwives deliver a "birth kit" to each mother who is approaching her due date. So: my birth kit came via the UPS man :). 
In addition to ordering our birth kit we had certain things to have ready prior to delivery - clean towels, extra sheets, layette items for baby, flash light, salt for bath water, drop cloth/plastic to protect carpets, bed linens, etc. 
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I had all the aforementioned items ready and waiting like 10 weeks prior to my due date

The home birth class I took was with other expectant couples who were planning to birth at home with my same chosen midwives. The class was a long class - I believe 5 hours in all. I couldn't begin to even give you the Cliff Notes version of all we discussed, but just know that we covered EVERYTHING and then some of the what typically happens, what could happen, how we would deal with what could happen, etc. etc. etc. 
I honestly felt kind of sad at how prepared I felt going into this experience the 4th time. I wish so badly that I could have known even a fraction of what I knew prior to this birth before my others. I mean, realistically if each Mom were educated prior to the birth of their first child with the most common complications and how they are handled in a hospital or non-hospital setting it would drastically reduce stress for all involved if one of those things happened heaven forbid because you'd know why/what they were doing next. Does that make sense? For example: "if you experience a cord prolapse, this is what will happen next or if you begin bleeding more than xyz after you deliver these are the action steps that will follow". I just felt super confident going in knowing all of those things. I mean, I know that anything can happen and you can never be 100% prepared for anything but hey...80% prepared is better than 24% amen? Amen! The class reassured me in my choice because I felt like I further trusted the midwives and their ability to handle anything that would/could come and I knew that if they felt unsure or hesitant about mine/babies safety in ANY WAY they would not hesitate to transport me to the nearest hospital possible. 

The last preparatory details before baby came included:
~having someone "on call" in the event my kids woke up during the birthing process. 
~making sure the house stayed relatively clean as we "patiently" awaited the arrival of our new baby
~making sure the bathroom was ridiculously clean (I may have been cleaning it every 2 days) *This was not specified as a "pre-requisite" but I have a special neuroses about bathrooms and potentially giving birth in one took it up approximately 5,492 notches. 
~keeping up with laundry since I would be out of pocket after baby arrived
~having some meal prep done ahead of time for kids and Tim and I so when baby arrived we'd not be stressed about that in particular. 

That pretty much wraps up what we did to prepare and our prenatal care experience! Next up (& sure to be the most fun): my home birth story! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A long awaited post

Long awaited indeed...not only for me to draft and publish but for some of you to read. I've got so much to much swimming around in my head. This will be the first of multiple posts about our home birth story: why/how we chose, what we did to prepare/prenatal care & I'll end with my home birth story. 

 It's no secret...I'm a sharer. My sister says I'm an open book. I think that "open book status" caused people to feel at liberty to share with me their questions, doubts, concerns, etc. about Tim and I choosing to have baby #4 at home. Home birth. Even typing it...even saying carries a stigma. Mostly negative in my experience (as far as people's reactions go) but negative or positive, people have quite a bit to say and ask about it. 

I can't say for certain why some people choose to have their babies at home, but I can say why we chose to have our baby at home and I can also potentially shine a light on some of your burning questions about home birth in general. 

Let's get to it! Shall we? 

I guess I should start where it all started for me...6 years ago in Kentucky when I heard about a gal named Katherine who had her baby at home. At the time I had mixed emotions about it truthfully - I was in total awe and wonder about it but also kind of like "whoa, that's alternative".  I mean, let's be honest - the general birth story occurs in a hospital and we rarely hear of much else. Katherine was a friend of my then nanny to Kennedy who is now one of my closest & dearest friends. Throughout the years of my friendship with Chelsea, she has shared with me that Katherine has gone on to have 3 more babies at home...all successful and all without complication. It was also through Katherine that my curiosity into midwifery was peaked. I delivered under an OB with Kennedy and at the time I felt it all went fine but in hindsight now having delivered my other three under the supervision of a midwife...for me and my story (not for all OB's and everyone's story) midwifery has been a drastically better fit for me and my "birthing style" (if you will). 

Between Kennedy and Avery we joyously realized we were expecting and I switched OB practices to a larger practice in the hopes that whomever I saw for the majority of my prenatal visits would in fact be who delivered me. Well, I never got that far because a short ways into that pregnancy we realized we were miscarrying and the office handled it in such a sterile and medical fashion that I would never enter that practice again and instead decided that if I became pregnant again...I would see a midwife. All the "it's probably for the best, it was probably a chromosomal defect, at least you miscarried early, etc." were just too much for me...I needed a hug, I needed some bedside manner that wasn't all medicine and science...I needed empathy and and reassurance. I had read and heard that one of the benefits to using a midwife was that they (for lack of a better way to phrase it) would most definitely have a more favorable bedside manner than what I had experienced. 

Luckily the Lord didn't make us wait long to conceive again and I began seeing my first midwife. Her name was Melissa Courtney and she forever changed how I would view complete prenatal care and birth. My journey with her was a bit of a long one as she left where she was practicing in the middle of my pregnancy but I was determined to stick with her and so I followed her on her solo pursuit which is now a thriving midwifery practice in Lexington, KY. My experience with her versus the OB I had with Kennedy was different in so many ways, but to highlight what made me never want to use anything other than a midwife for future pregnancies, I'll list a few: 
~She seemed to REALLY care about mind, my body, my emotions...not just my medical state of well being and the babies'. 
~She helped me to understand more completely what was actually occurring inside of my body and also partnered with me to address each and every area where I needed resolve or relief. 
~There was never any doubt that she would be at the hospital to labor with me when it was time to have our baby...I KNEW she would be there and the comfort that provided me was indescribable. 
~Through patient tones and pointed explanations she helped me accomplish a birth with minimal medical intervention. I delivered Avery without an epidural...despite getting induced with pitocin which I now know is an extremely difficult thing, but I credit her assistance to being able to accomplish that delivery in the way that I did. 
~Because of knowing how to take better care of my body and because of not getting an recovery was drastically better (emotionally and physically) in the weeks following Avery's birth than it was with Kennedy. 

Fast forward to my pregnancy with Grey. Early on in my pregnancy with Grey I watched a documentary called Pregnant in America. I learned a great deal in watching that documentary but watching people actively choose home birth just intrigued me. I thought it was SO cool. I mean it just seemed amazing to me, but also a little un-touchable for some reason. Tim and I entertained the idea but it would not become a reality because we learned that we would be moving to NC (near my sister and closer to my Mom) towards the end of the pregnancy and since my sister was already under the care of a midwife she loved, I elected to join that same practice as I would deliver 3 short months later. Even if I'd realized home birth would be an attainable reality for us then, we didn't even have a home...we were living with my sister! I received wonderful care at that midwifery practice, but sadly as with my first delivery years before, I was greeted at the hospital the night of my delivery by a midwife I'd never met prior and because of that it just felt less intimate...less special. Does that make sense? I realize it may totally just be my need/my style, but nonetheless I was disappointed. I had a fast labor - super fast. You can read more about it here, but I felt like she caught the baby and we were wheeled out and that was that...only to then stay in the hospital for the next two days. It was another non-medically assisted birth and it literally almost seemed comical how fast it went and how much it felt like wow, all this packing, rearranging our other kids schedules and planning and accepting visitors in a tiny cramped room and it just seemed like it could have been easier. It felt like it COULD be easier. She was an incredibly kind midwife and she was perfectly competent and performed her job well, but I didn't know her and she didn't know 

When we found out we were pregnant this time it was a TOTAL surprise which you can read more about in this post. Tim and I began discussing the potential of a home birth early on. He was no stranger to this desire and thus considerations began. Little did we know the journey we were embarking on would be one that was hard to walk and filled with questions and uncertainty. Said journey began with the same practice who delivered Grey...they confirmed pregnancy with the typical dipstick test but also performed a gestational scan to determine exactly how far along I was (remember me saying it was a Total surpirse? That was not an understatement). After that initial scan I began my home birth pursuit which led me to a birthing center in SC right across the NC/SC state line - about 45 minutes away. I was referred to that particular midwife and practice by a gal at my church whom I've come to adore and she had delivered her firstborn at her home with this midwife. She raved about her experience and encouraged me in my desire and pursuit of doing the same. I saw this midwife up until about my 20th week of pregnancy and I loved her and the practice but we came to realize a few things pretty quick out of the gate: 
~Our insurance would not be covering our care with said practice because they were licensed midwives not practicing under the supervision of an OB and our particular plan would not cover the practice because of that. 
~The only way I'd be able to perform a home birth under the supervision of the licensed midwives at the birthing center was if I delivered in SC. Luckily because my Mom had just purchased a home in SC that was an option to which my Mom and Jim quickly agreed to. 

This is going to be a Cliff Notes version of what would happen next but to save you all the drama it's just the best me. After LOTS of going back and forth with Tim's HR department and Aetna their final decision was one they guaranteed me would be firm - I would not be covered to continue care with the birthing center and or if I chose to have a home birth. I honestly was shocked. I understand liabilities and yadda yadda yadda but I've had three extremely successful birthing experiences and I KNEW I could do this at home. I think also shocking to me is that they would a) try to force my hand based on coverage/money but also b) my desire to deliver at home would in the end save them TONS of money. Regardless, knowing all of the above and having tons of discussions with the manager at the birthing center we ended up being referred to a NC home birth midwife who we would pay without the assistance of insurance or flexible spending account money but we would get exactly what we wanted...a birth in OUR home...not another facility or someone else's home.

 There was just one thing of which I was to be informed prior to making this decision: NC does not license Certified Professional Midwives (this is the credential that both the birth center midwives and the home birth midwife we hired have). All of NC's neighboring states license Certified Professional Midwives but NC does not. NC does license Certified Nurse Midwives but they must also be supervised by an OB. Certified Nurse Midwives can perform home births but most don't due to stringent regulations and costly malpractice insurance. I should add, also that CNM's are not trained in home birthing practice so they don't have that "skill set" so to speak. The main problem I perceived with Nurse Midwives under the supervision of an OB is that they  can be credentialed and licensed but yet.they cannot (despite training, experience, education, etc.) practice on their own...make their own decisions, etc. So: what I learned is that there are midwives who are knowledgeable and experienced and just as capable as the ones I've seen in all my other pregnancies but because they cannot be licensed and do what they want to do...provide women with the birthing experience of their desire in a home setting: they elect to not be licensed and operate in a kind of "under the radar" fashion. I was shocked...I gotta be honest. There was an element of "so am I choosing something illegal" going on in my heart and head but also an element of "are you kidding me...who can tell me what I can and cannot do? This is absurd!" 

In the end, after much prayer and consideration....after lots of inner turmoil and contemplation...we chose to meet with a NC home birth midwife and pursue delivering this precious babe at home...exactly how I desired and dreamed. I wasn't sure how we would figure out the finances and I wasn't sure about all the other questions and concerns I had about delivering at home but after meeting the midwife and her apprentice: I KNEW...I just KNEW they were the ones...they were the ones I wanted walking through this pregnancy with me and assisting me in bringing my baby into the world when it was time. I had done some research before our meeting and I was prepared with a list of interview-like questions I wanted answered. There are endless amounts of articles, blogs, & general advice online that can assist you if you are walking the same road - I wasn't sure of all I needed to ask but the internet was super helpful in that quest. They were honest about their experiences and  inability to predict or control scary circumstances but they were also adamant that they felt their chosen career path was one to which they felt called and that the Lord never failed to direct their steps and their hearts/minds in each and every delivery.

I find birth itself to be a spiritual experience. I mean, I'm sure you've heard people say before that once you've experienced birth you know without certainty that there is a God. For me, as a believer, I've drawn strength from the Lord in childbirth. Strength that I've felt and seen and witnessed in that particular physical's tangible, whereas the strength I draw from Him in my day to day is more spiritual...more mental and emotional. I remember when I was a teenager, I would go to youth camps and or retreats and after returning my peers and I would discuss having "mountaintop experiences" where we just felt SO close to God...just connected and in communion with Him in a way we didn't normally feel. If ever I've had a mountaintop experience, I assure you it pales in comparison to the closeness I feel to the Lord during childbirth. When giving birth the pain is only manageable because in my mind I know the Lord not only created our bodies to be capable of bringing life into this world, he also told us it would be painful. He knew...He knows what we are going to feel and in my heart and mind in those moments of intense pain and physical struggle...during hard labor I rest in that truth. He made me for this. He hears me...He comforts me...He reassures me in my mind and in my heart and I just know that with him, I.AM.ABLE

My desire for that spiritual closeness with my Heavenly Father, coupled with a midwife and apprentice who felt spirit led in their every move brought me to a place where I was committed to home birth and pretty much after meeting the midwives who would in the end deliver my sweet babe, we never looked back or questioned ourselves again. 

We did elect to participate in something called "parallel care" which is basically where you see two medical providers. I saw my home birth midwife and also saw my midwife inside of an OB office in Charlotte. My reason for staying in a medical practice was multi-fold. It was (if I'm totally honest) for the following reasons: 
-I wanted to have a 20 week anatomy scan with all the bells and whistles (if you will)
-to calm the worries of my family members who hadn't the benefit of doing lots of home birth research like Tim and I
-to have an ongoing patient relationship with a medical professional who could see me in a hospital setting if such was necessary at any point of the pregnancy

In hindsight, I don't regret choosing to participate in parallel care. It reaffirmed my decision to birth at home if at all possible and I felt like in the event that something did in fact go wrong during the pregnancy, I was prepared to the best of my ability to handle it and keep baby and I safe. 

So...that is my long winded answer to how and why we came to choose home birth for the birth of our fourth child. Now, most of the people who will read this are friends and or family. There may, however, be someone reading this who did a Google search about NC Home birth and ended up on my blog and to any of the above I would say this: ask away...any questions you have - SHOOT! I'll answer as honestly and accurately as possible. I've found since having Micah that people have LOTS of questions about the whole home birth thing and I'm happy to share my experience with anyone because in the end (which I'll blog more about soon) it was an INCREDIBLE experience! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Returning from the beach brought with it the reality of also returning to a normal routine. Kennedy is part of a local charter school that operates on a year round calendar. Our summer break is shorter than our friends and cousins summer breaks and I feel like it literally flew by! 

A new year brings an open house where we get to meet the teacher. Right off the bat I felt completely comfortable and at ease with K's new teacher. I'm so thankful that she was placed in this particular class because the teacher and her assistant are a wonderful blend of stern and orderly yet motherly and loving which is just what I want for my baby girl. One of the big adjustments for Kennedy for this new year was just dealing with her sadness over her entire K class not moving up together into the same first grade class. She has a few of her K classmates in her particular class, but they pretty much got dispersed and mixed up with the other K classes from last year to make up all their new first grade classes. Her BF Sophia and she were really hoping to be in the same class, but we discovered prior to open house that they would not be and they were both so sad about it. Luckily they see each other at lunch and recess and of course we parents promised them that we'd get them together as much as possible and it would ALL be ok. After open house night went out to eat with Sophia and her parents. The girls giggled and talked about school and giggled some more. It was a fun way to gear up for the new year. 

~Sweet little friends~
 The big First Day of First Grade!

 I can't say it was any easier on my Momma heart to leave her this year. Watching her hop out of the car in the carpool line and happily walk to her class was bittersweet. I adore my time with Kennedy and when she's not here I miss her (truthfully). It helps knowing how much she loves her friends and how much she loves her school but I'm thankful for all the time I get with her in the afternoons and on the weekends. 
 She was most excited about her new book bag purchased by her Nana as a gift prior to the new school year. Her book bag from last year was tattered at the zipper and most afternoons was totally at capacity and I knew this year was likely to bring home more stuff in her bag so it was a perfect back to school gift and she loves it. She chose the bag and the monogram style all by herself. Extra bonus: it glows in the dark and don't you know she tested it A LOT in the bathroom with the lights out just to make sure it worked.
So big. So beautiful. 
 That first week was all about the new class - the rules, the routine, the expectations, students getting to know their new teacher and the teacher getting to know the students as well as the students getting to know one another. Either the first or second week we got our first "get to know you" project to work on. 
 Projects like this in K basically involved me coming up with the concept, spelling everything out bit by bit for her and then heavily helping her with any of the crafting portion. This year, I pretty much got out my craft stuff and she made her selections and went to town (except for the adult help with the hot glue gun). I'll be's hard for me to be the passenger and not the driver with things like this but she needs to do it on her own and she does a great job and I'm proud of her. 

 I think it all turned out super cute. 
Now that we are well into the school year I can say that I still love her teachers just as much as I thought I would. They are wonderful. Communication is awesome and Kennedy has learned so much. She is reading SO much and loving it. She is learning how to spell and do subtraction and addition. She is learning about capitalization and punctuation. It's just crazy how much she's learned and has committed to memory. She still plays with Sophia EVERY DAY at recess and is overall having a fantastic year! I'm so thankful to be a part of such an awesome school. 

Tybee Island Beach Vacation Finale!

Each family usually sets aside a night for a date night out and or a day to do some type of one on one activity with a kiddo or something like that when we are all there and can help one another out (it takes a village). I'm such a people person that I'm typically all about the togetherness vs. a date night when we're at the beach (just keepin' it real), but we did do a one on one outing with Kennedy this year. Because Kennedy was 3.5 before Avery joined our crew she was well accustomed to one on one time with not only Tim and I as individuals but together too. To this day she craves and requests "dates" or "alone time". It could be more of a function of her personality than their spacing per say but either way it's a request that Avery has never made nor one I feel she's familiar with. So...we try to make sure to do special things with Kennedy and we've begun to do some of that with Avery too, knowing that whether she knows to want it or's still special time for her. 

It's no secret that we like a little activity in our family so on our special outing we chose to take a bike ride on some of the trails at Fort Pulaski. I wish I could go on and on about how perfect of a choice it was and what an amazing experience it was but Kennedy struggled on our outing. I'm not sure if it was the late bedtime and increased activity and sun or what but home girl just couldn't really get herself together that day. She was struggling on her bike, it was muddy, there were mosquitoes, etc. Typically Kennedy is pretty tough and can go with the flow in just about any and all situations (except ones that involve mass amounts of people she doesn't know...she gets that from her Daddy ;). Well on this day, there were tears and LOTS of them. I could tell each time she got stuck in mud and was forced to dismount her bike that she was trying to regain composure but she just didn't have the fuel/resources on decreased sleep and energy to do so. We made the best we could of it but it was a MUCH shorter outing than what I anticipated. Lesson learned. 

The first of two trails we took led us out to the Cockspur Lighthouse. Lighthouses are so cool, aren't they? Even cooler - ones that have survived the test of time and are literally out in the water. This light house is estimated to have been built between 1837-1839. I mean, that is kind of awesome, am I right? We saw tons of scurrying crabs and oyster beds on our trek out to get a closer look, but this is about as close as we could get to it as it's out in the Savannah River. 

 My girl is an explorer and we both wished we could get out there to it and into that little door to see what we could see. Alas...there was no way for us to do so. After taking some pics we headed back down the trail (My Momma heart praying for Kennedy the whole way). 

 Once we got back up near the fort, we tried to convince her to take the trail around the perimeter back to the car but she just couldn't get it together. The mosquitoes were OUT OF swarmed us as soon as we stood still they were just covering our arms and legs. Kennedy is super sensitive to insect bites so it helped her hysteria NONE. Tim rode around the fort to get some pictures and I took my girl back to the car. She ended up not even being able to make the ride back so I walked her to the car and then gathered the two bikes (getting eaten alive the entire way) and walked them to the car. Oh a Mother's love. 

 We decided this moat was likely the culprit for the plague like quantities of mosquitoes. We also learned later in the evening that two alligators apparently live in this moat full time - I wished we'd tried to see them. Perhaps next year. 
 I'm thankful that our super special date didn't end there because it would have just been pitiful. We went from the Fort to a little restaurant with great reviews on Trip Advisor called Coco's Sunset Grille. They have a catch your food and bring it in to cook it kind of thing going on and the food was DELICIOUS. Yummy hush puppies, yummy fried shrimp...just yummy fresh seafood. Growing up in Charleston I'm a tad spoiled when it comes to seafood and I pretty much don't eat it unless I'm in Charleston or in a situation like this where you know your food hasn't been on a plane, train or ocean liner for days before getting to you. High maintenance? Maybe, but it just is what is. Having said that, however, it makes delicious seafood all the more of a treat. Coco's did not disappoint. Kennedy was allowed to order whatever she wanted and she ordered Sprite, a hot dog and french fries. Ha! This little guy was right out our window. 
 This brings me to the end of my Tybee posts. We had a great time at the beach watching the kids play and interact. We learned some valuable lessons that I hope will only make this experience richer and more enjoyable each year to come. I think mostly I feel absolutely fortunate to be able to give my kids the experience each summer. It's not a blessing I take for granted AT ALL. If it weren't for the generosity of some very dear people, we simply could not afford to do this each year. This house is loaned to us for a week for free. I mean, really? It's just amazing. We just show up and promise to leave it how we found it and get to live in this amazing place like it's ours for an entire week...mere steps from the boardwalk that leads us to the beach. It is my hope that if Tim and I should ever be financially blessed enough to own a property like this that we would do the very same for others. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tybee Island Beach Vacation Installment #5

Shew! #5! It's definitely a marathon...not a sprint. Let's get to it, shall we? I'm hopefully going to have some sweet baby goodness to share on here soon and I want to have completed our beach vacay. Cheers to being behind: oy! 

These pictures are from one of our overcast days at the beach...there are one or two or more every year but we trudge on because the kiddos need to get their energy out AND...well, your at the beach (rain or shine!). This first photo needs no explanation....those thighs! 
 This picture needs no explanation either...little Coppertone kid :)
 This child was as happy as a pig in the sunshine the entire time we were at the beach (despite getting an ear infection that required treatment!). He just ran around and found things to entertain himself. True 3rd child....pure joy. 
 Poor seagulls. 
 Cue the Baywatch background music. Ha! 
 Sea foam intrigued the kids...they poked it, jumped on it, blew it, kicked name it: they did it. 

 Trying to get family pictures always makes me laugh. This was one of like 6 that we attempted and Kennedy looks in pain and Avery looks resigned. Whatever. 
 Our last day at the beach Avery found something very special. She very nonchalantly walked up to me after we'd been out there for like 10 minutes and said "Mommy, look what I found...what is this?"
 Are you kidding me?!?! Home girl found the first and only funny intact sand dollar we saw all week. Of course she would. Ha! Kennedy was determined to find it's sibling, but alas...Avery was the only one to find such a prize. 
 We soaked it and cleaned it and brought it home. It was SO pretty but sadly a few days later she wanted to hold it and broke it. We super glued it back together (read: Tim super glued it) but it was never really the same. Last week Tim moved something in the window sill and knocked it and it shattered. Maybe she'll score another next year. 
All week long at the beach we take turns cooking for one another - one family cooks for the rest of us each night typically. We usually reserve one night for leftovers because with this many people there's bound to be leftovers. On our last night we ordered Pizza and then went to a little local ice cream place - it was a nice easy end to the week...especially since we had to pack it all up and stuff the next morning. 
Declan preferred to take his ice cream to the face rather than using a spoon. 
 Oh Grey...two things that'll make a boy "hard cheese": ice cream and a camera. Ha! 
 Finally...a cheese out of this stinker. She only made me supply ice cream AND work for it all week. Way to play hard to get Ellie! Well played....

One more post and it'll be a Tybee Wrap! Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tybee Island Beach Vacation Installment #4

So, we witnessed something super cool while we were at Tybee this year. I wish I had super accurate information about the event, but sadly we only got word of mouth and a Google search has turned up NOTHING. An onlooker shared with us that this event was called Army Ranger Family Training Day. 

Let me back up some. Melissa and I were in the beach house fixing lunch for all of the kids and hubbies and as we waited for Steve and Tim to bring the kids up from beach/showers, we started hearing a noise that practically rattled the house - it was a reverberating noise that seemed eerily close and it ran us out on the deck to figure out where it was coming from. I wish you could have seen our faces as we stared at each other like "what the heck!?!?!?" A few minutes later, we saw the source of the sound but still couldn't really process what what was happening. 

 These two chinook helicopters were flying from a nearby army base (towards Savannah) and would wrap around the island and hover crazy close to the water (see below) before dropping 5 rangers into the ocean. heard me correctly - no life vests, no parachute, no anything - just boys in their shorts dropping out of a massive helicopter hovering so close to the ocean that the blades were making their own waves. After they landed in the ocean they would swim to a lifeboat/raft that was being operated by fellow rangers nearby. 
 It was mesmerizing. We seriously couldn't get enough of it and neither could all the other people who were surprised so pleasantly by this "Training Day". 
 Greyson may or may not have grunted from a guttural place for the next two hours exclaiming "HELICOPTER!!!". 
 Once the drop was complete they would fly back by in the other direction and this entire scenario would repeat itself a bunch of more times that afternoon. 
 This was an impromptu pose during our spectating. Pretty girl.
Seriously - he was BESIDE himself with it all. So cute. So boy. 
 I mean, check the dude out - legs just dangling from the back of a massive aircraft and all. Just another day on the job I suppose. ha! 
 If you look closely, you can see the lifeboat/raft to the right through the dunes. Check out how close that helicopter is to the water. Unbelievable. 
 After we got the babies down for naps and scarfed down our own lunch (with multiple runs out to the deck to see more of the action) Melissa and I took off on some of the beach house bikes so we could ride down the beach and get a closer look. 
 It was then that we saw there was a massive crowd and found out that this was called Army Ranger Family Training Day. I'm not sure how often they occur, but they are a way for the families to get a glimpse of what these guys do. I seriously was in total awe of it all. In this pic you can see one of the guys waving out of the window up front. 
 & now the guys in the back waving. 
 I couldn't get over how closely these helicopters would hover not only to the water but how close they'd get to one another too. I mean, I know they know what they're doing but I've just never seen anything like it. 
 Once we got down close to where they were dropping into the water it was kind of funny because there were all these people just at the beach for the day swimming (see lower left of next photo) and then there's all these rangers in lifeboats right there next to them. What a cool day trip to the beach it was for some to be right there under those helicopters. Crazy. 

My husband and Grey were totally geeked out over the whole thing but I can't tell a lie...I kind of was too. I'm super glad we got to see the whole thing...really neat. All that evening they were still flying and so we got to see the air crafts at night too which was cool. Call me star struck or whatever but I have a whole new level of appreciation for what these guys do. This was a fun day but I kept thinking...they likely go into enemy territory and do this. I would never be so brave. Thankfully, there are people like this who are!