June 29, 2018.
It just seems like vacay gets better each year. I don’t know if inching closer to the time when our girls won’t be with us makes each vacation seem more precious than the last. Or maybe the predictability of tradition gives me one more memory to file away, and as that file expands, all the happy from year to year bunches up and overlaps and splashes onto the next year.
In the spirit of being the best vacation ever, I think my house-mates have a little something to do with how wonderful this year has been. We’re here with the Wolosiewicz family and our bonus daughters Zoey and Alex. The 11 of us represent 4 families with different styles and likes and dislikes.
Zoey is good at a lot of things; the once and again undefeated BurgerMaster and Master of the Moo can put away a bigger hamburger than Paul, and won’t stop until the fries and slaw are finished. But I think it would be a disservice to Hawaiian Tropic and Coppertone if Zoey wasn’t recognized as the hands down winner of the Best Tan Award. I think Zoey tans by thinking about sunshine. She’s beautiful all year long, but she shines in the summer sun.
And we can’t talk about Zoey without mentioning her partner in crime, Lauren. Miss Independent didn’t want to reapply sunscreen, so my Lobster suffered through quite a burn. “It’s my skin. Why can’t I do what I want with it?!” Uh…no! But pushing her independence is what she is supposed to do, and she accepts our boundaries. And as we watch her grow up, we watch her confidence grow. And somehow she is the underdog, come from behind winner of Biggest Flirt Award. At 5’9″+, it’s hard to miss My Lovely. She’s not the shy, quiet girl hiding at my knee anymore. She’s a confident, expressive, selfie-taking, dancing, singing, show off who isn’t afraid of boys or their attention. She’s only weeks away from 14, but miles away from my knee.
Alex is the newcomer to the group. We’ve known her family for years, but Alex and her younger brother haven’t spent as much time with us alone as her older sister has spent with us on the softball field. She’s quiet and reserved, and I was surprised she agreed to join us at the beach. She hasn’t ever even slept over at our house or hung out with Emily except at softball related functions. Alex definitely wins Biggest Surprise Personality Award. She rarely speaks up, but then out of the blue over donuts, she told us about a former boyfriend, and Paul had her jabbering while walking on the beach. She’ll tell jokes if you ask her to. And last night at dinner, she cackled and he-hawed looking at pics of Paul and she nearly fell over when she thought I might wrap my legs around Paul and kiss him at the dinner table. She’ll give me a fist pump, but even after a week with us, she won’t give one to Paul. This reticent middle child has a quiet demeanor, but an infectious smile.
Oh Emily and Alex are well matched as beach buddies. They’d both rather sleep in and play games on their devices. Emily has needed more than a little prodding to get her going. I’d say Emily wins the ambivalent Most Likely To Have Fun Even Though I Won’t Admit It Award. She’s been a tough cookie this week, and I desperately long for my spunky, mischievous rebel to rejoin the group. But even with her moodiness and lack of gumption, she is in the pool smiling and hand standing with Alex and I know she is having a good time despite herself.
Grace came to the beach solo this year, but what I love about her is that she just puts herself out there. My Gorgeous has cojones to be envied by the mightiest of men. No, I take that back. She has ovarian fortitude inherited from warrior princesses of generations past. Her funky, eclectic style makes her stand out, and she’s never been one to hide. Even under her wigs and headscarves, she never hid. But the winner of the I Don’t Care What You Think Of Me Award proudly dropped her wigs and headscarves for the first time in years and paraded herself around Myrtle Beach rocking a pixie cut that has taken her 5 years to grow. You go, girl!
We’ve had a great time with the Wolos, and I hope we haven’t tarnished their perception of the Mauks. I think Cole and Amelia have been exactly what I expected them to be. They are sweet children with kind hearts. Amelia wins the I Can Talk the Longest Without Taking a Breath Award. That’s not a criticism; it’s an observation and huge achievement. She amazes me. Her little brain just doesn’t stop and she asks a million great questions and smiles the whole time. Cole is the only male child in the bunch, and he has more energy than all my girls put together. Cole’s sweet charms and courteous manners make him Most Likely to be a Tween Heart-Throb Without Being a Bad Boy. I don’t think he has any bad boy in him. Sorry Cole, but I think you’ll wear the white cowboy hat.
Then there’s the adult Wolos. Shannon has a history, and it’s pretty tough. But you wouldn’t know it from her soft, lilting voice when she calls Cole and Amelia to the kitchen. They don’t misunderstand her softness; they know darn well she means business. But I’d say she wins Best Overall Use Of The Mom Voice So Don’t Make Me Say It Again. And Adam likes to keep things light. Now that Adam knows Paul’s full given name, his new favorite thing is to refer to Paul as Denny or D-Paul. It might stick. Paul absolutely loves his new nickname. And to help keep things light, Adam wins the Best Use Of A Red Solo Cup and Most Likely to Sneak Alcohol Into The Waterpark. Double Superlative!
My husband is the reason we have this vacation. I found the house rental, but he took care of all the fine details, and he packs the car like a pro. I don’t know how he fit that much stuff into the trunk, but I also don’t know how he forgot the boogie boards and beach chairs. Maybe he didn’t really forget. But he is the one who constantly offered to take the girls back to the waterpark or arcade or beach and out to eat and shopping for souvenirs. He wins Most Selfless Host With The Most. He was constantly making sure we all were having as much fun as possible. Paul isn’t having fun if we all aren’t having fun.
This week I traded the hammock and swing from my yard for a tube in the lazy river. I’d be happy floating all day and maybe just taking a break long enough to read a few chapters under the umbrella. Paul is a true strategist in the lazy river. He tries to avoid the dead zones where the water doesn’t move, and he will push off from the sides to avoid the bottleneck traffic. My modus operandi is just let it flow. For me, it’s a journey and I have no need to get there quickly or ahead of anyone in particular. The river is a long, winding loop with no true end, so what’s the rush? I win Deepest Sigh Of Contentment Award when my feet dip in the water over the edge of the tube and my fingers can splash cool water over my legs.
So we are mostly packed up for our morning departure. Back home tomorrow, and back to the routine. Lauren has surgery this week, and we will have some friends over to hang out, and the grass will need cut. It will be nice to sleep in our beds again It’s been a great week with tons of memories made. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I know next year will be even better. I love my family and bonus family and wouldn’t trade these people for the world.