Florida trip of September 2010 is over and done. It went fast. I have lots to blog about... lots of pictures to post... lots of thinking to do.
I guess I'll start with the easy stuff- the actual trip itself... ya know, what it contained and all that.
EARLY (and I mean earrrllly) Thursday morning (the 9th) Ryan took Maeve, Henry and I to the airport. I was not in a good mood. I was ticked that Ryan wasn't going. I was sure that this entire trip would be disastrous for my mental state. And I was fairly positive I'd be ready to bust through the emergency exit door on the plane 20 minutes into the flight.
We got through security fine- I've said it before, but it amazes me how nice airport people (fellow travelers) can be. There is NO WAY I could have hauled everything that was hauled if it weren't for the help of some very kind people. They helped me fold and unfold the stroller, take shoes on and off my kids, etc. Very nice :) Security is usually the most stressful part of the actual airport experience (or so I thought) but we really breezed through it this time around. On the other side of the terminal, I bought the kids breakfast, fed 'em and then realized I had about 10 minutes to boarding... and my gate was at the other end of the terminal... whoops! Off I ran (kind of) with Henry in the moby, Maeve in the stroller, back pack on my back, carseat strapped to the back of the stroller... I don't remember the gate number, but I remember getting there and having it be completely dead. I got this sick feeling of dread- that I must've gotten the times mixed up and we missed our flight. My mind was reeling- I was having visions of being stranded in Detroit with my two (really) tired kids and all of our CRAP.
I don't know how long I was standing there for, with my mouth open, gawking at the empty space- but eventually someone from Spirit asked, "Are you looking for flight -du du du- ((don't remember the number)) going to Orlando?"
Me: "Uhhhh yeah... OMG did I miss it?"
Spirit person: "Not yet! But its boarding at gate ((such and such- again don't remember the gate number- but I DO remember thinking holy COW that's at the other end of the terminal!!!!))" I was ticked. I seriously ran as fast as I could to the other side of the airport- each step, that STUPID carseat hitting my shin. UGH. FINALLY we were at the right gate and I, of course, was one of the last to be boarding. NOT a good thing. Between Henry in the Moby, me prompting Maeve to keep MOVING, the backpack on my back and the carseat over my head, I successfully nailed probably 50 people in the head as we made our way back to our seats. What an entrance.
Once seated, I started calculating in my head the game plan. Stall as LONG as I can with any snacks, treats, games, activities, etc. Hmmm.. that lasted two seconds. Maeve must remember flying- and she must remember that flying is associated with new toys and treats. She immediately asked for fruit snacks. DANG! strike one. Before we were even off the ground, she had polished off a pouch of fruitsnacks, a nutrigrain bar and a yogurt. Henry was happy... for a bit. I'd say an hour into the flight, the lack of sleep started to catch up with both of my kids. Maeve took it in stride, did wonderfully and with very little whining, went to sleep. (WOOOOO! ONE DOWN! ONE TO GO!) HENRY. HENRY. HENRY. This kid- he seriously defies all odds. He had been up since 4 AM and was showing NO signs of sleep. Only hysteria. I think the lack of sleep must have the opposite effect on him- instead of getting really tired and red eyed, he gets crazy eyed. He started screaming, arching his back, pulling my hair, all that good stuff. Yes, I had everyone looking at me. Yes, the people in front of us asked for ear plugs- FOR REAL?!?!? Yes- for real- they were given neon orange pairs of ear plugs. The people behind us were mumbling about "babies and how there should be a "family" section on an airplane." I wanted to turn around and say something not nice. But I was afraid I'd get air marshaled or something- and that was the last thing I needed. The grand finale of the flight was Henry ripping out my left earring. Ouch. It was a teeny diamond stud- not even a hoop- but somehow he managed to rip it clean out. And of course- it was my only pair of real diamond earrings. I searched in between the seats and all over the floor, in my bra, in my hair, in Henry's diaper- that earring was GONE.
Landing in Orlando kind of felt like I had just made a mission to Mars or something. I was so proud we were there- healthy, and in one piece (well besides my left ear). We met my mom in baggage claim- and I really, REALLY wish I would've had a video camera, because there are not words to describe this reunion. My mom RAN to Maeve- FULL SPEED- yelling "MAE MAE! OH MY GOD MAE MAE!" People stopped and looked- my mom fell on her knees- grabbed Maeve and was rocking on the ground, CRYING. I am POSITIVE people thought they were witnessing an adoption or something. I was standing with Henry in the stroller- and someone said, "Awww! How sweet!" And I said "Yeah they haven't seen each other in 3 weeks."
Once in the car, my mom started talking a mile a minute about all the things we were going to do. Here's the really funny part- I was born in St.Augustine, Florida. After living there for a few years, and moving up to Michigan, we visited family in St. Augustine probably 3-4 times a year? EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. OF. MY. LIFE. I know the streets. I know the stores. I know the restaurants. I even have been to the ER and a doctor there because when I was younger, my kidney problems were so bad that I would get a UTI every time I swam- therefore, trips to Florida, were pretty much guaranteed I would end up with a UTI. Anyways, what I'm trying to get at, is St.Augustine is really like my 2nd home. Not only is it really my home (home town) but its also the place I've gone and stayed for the past 20 some years. My mom, has apparently forgotten this, because as we drove to their home (now in St.Augustine- well really, Elkton) she pointed out all the major landmarks. It was seriously like the twilight zone. "Ash- there's Flagler college!" "Oh Ashley- I'm going to have to take you for dinner at O.C. Whites- you'll love it. It has a little terrace with lights- its so beautiful there." Well mom, you've taken us on a tour of Flagler about 300000 times, and O.C. Whites just happens to be my favorite restaurant in St.Augustine... so strange, right???
I guess she was just excited to have us there... anyways, we got to their "home." I hesitate to call it "HOME, HOME" because they're renting it and "HOME" still feels like 3700 W.Morrell. Anyways, it was a trip to say the least. It looked NOTHING like our house on Morrell. They had gotten all new furniture... all new kitchen appliances... new bedding...new t.v's... it was so bizarre. It was like they had a brand new life. And yeah... it was sad. I actually kind of balled up the first day or two, not really wanting to see anything in their neighborhood- not wanting to check out their "tiki bar" or "Jimmy Buffet" chairs. In one word, I was/am jealous. We should be there. We should have Jimmy Buffett chairs and a Florida room.
I didn't feel comfortable sleeping in the new bed...not that it wasn't comfortable- it was (besides the crazy balloon bed comforter...) its that I felt like I was "visiting" and I hated that. I didn't like that I had to ask where the spoons were. Or where to get fresh towels. Again, just so bizarre!
I won't go into depth here, because these conversations are really personal... but I had some very poignant, MUCH needed talks with my mom, dad and grandma. Remember- my dad left without saying goodbye- he thought it would be too hard to stop by the house and say bye to the kids and I... so that was really hurtful, and I think I was still upset about that... Not mad at him- not at all- just upset, sad... things were cut off pretty quickly. Anyways, great conversations... great plans... and that's about all I can say at this point ;) -such a tease right?!?
My mom said it was my "birthday week." HA! :) I felt like a kid again. Every day she asked "What would YOU like to do today? It's YOUR birthday!" :) We ended up doing the usual... beach, St. George street, lots of good food... swimming, etc.
My favorite day by far was going to the beach. I posted on facebook that there is nothing more healing (for ME) than to ride the waves in and out. Just be a speck in the ocean. It's really more of a symbolic thing I guess... but I can't tell you the peace I had while alone in the sea. My mom was watching Maeve and my dad was holding Henry while I tried (and failed) at riding the waves :) I've surfed before, but the honest truth is I'm really no good at it. You'd think if I could do back handsprings on a 4 inch beam, I could balance on a long board... nope. I didn't have a board this time around, but the waves still beat me up good... I have bruises up and down my thighs and I'm still picking sand out of my ears. But it was beautiful. My favorite kinds of waves are the big, gentle ones that don't break but just lift you up and then down. I could sit there forever riding those. I told Ryan that my very first purchase when we move to Florida will be a long board-a pink one with white flowers (I would get a white one with pink flowers, but I think a huge white board might be a little to similar to a fish?...definitely don't want to be mistaken for bait). And I'll make it a point to go at least once a week. Even if I wipe out and get mouth fulls of water and sand. :) My dad is a surfer- I mean, he talks the surfer lingo and everything- he kept pointing out good waves, and how he could have "totally rode the green room in that one." :) The waves happened to be pretty good the day we went to the beach, and apparently I wasn't doing such a stellar job (as stated before) and my dad really wanted to get out there. I don't know how far out I was compared to where my dad was, but he started waving me in... as I got closer, he said "Ash I'm pretty sure I saw a dorsal fin." Talk about a sight- I was out of that water in probably two seconds flat. I must've looked like a hot mess- my tankini all bunched up, exposing my lovely, scarred belly... my face red from the sand and sun... blahhh.. Anyways, I got on the shore, holding Henry, only to find my dad in the exact same spot I was just in. Nice. Apparently I was done and he needed a turn. :)
There are a few restaurants in St.Augustine that are "must do's." On my list, it would be "The Columbia", "Harry O's", "OC Whites", "Barnacle Bills" and "La Pap Pillion." We made it to 4 out of the 5. And I'm pretty sure I ate more in that 5 days than I've eaten all summer. Good GOD. Why do my vacations have to revolve around food?!?!
Emily came up from PBA (Palm Beach Atlantic) to visit for 2 days. Can I just say that the combination of a very doting aunt, the best nana, poppa and gigi in the world= heaven????? I think I slept in every day until 8 or so? One day I might have been even pushing 9... my family was awesome- they wanted every second with the kids... and that was great with me! I got to actually sit and enjoy dinners- if a kid was being crazy, I had 4 people arguing over who got to take them on a walk. Back at the house it was, "Ash, can I take Maeve on a bike ride? Can I take Maeve to the pool? Can I take Maeve...." you get the idea... and every time my answer was, "Why of course you can, yes!"
Monday came toooooo fast. I swear to you all- if Ryan were with us, I'd tie him up to a palm tree in my parents yard and we would have never returned. We'd still be in Florida. The ONLY thing that was driving me back to Jackson was Ryan... and I guess he's a pretty good "thing" :)
We decided to wake up really early Monday morning and go to Sea World. Hmmm... brilliant idea. HA!!!!!!!!! Not. The drive to Orlando was about two hours, and by the time we got there it was hot. Not just Florida hot- but HOT- like you're insane for going to a theme park in that kind of heat. It's just common sense- you don't do it. When there's a 90 degree day you go to the beach or the pool. NOT to a theme park. I was overheated by the time we walked from the car to the front gate. And when the price of the tickets were rang up I was boiling. (did you know for a ONE DAY PASS to Seaworld, its 70 bucks???? GOOD LORD!)
Once in the park, we tried (and succeeded I must say) to cram everything in that we possibly could cram in 6 hours. We had to be at the airport by 4:30. I am super impressed with all we did/ and saw. Highlights on MY list, were the Shamu show "Believe" (even though it was the corniest thing I've ever seen- those whales are just amazing!) and touching the sting rays. I have no idea why I enjoyed that so much- (wait- probably because it was in the "Key West" part of the park and Jimmy Buffet was blasting! :) but I could have stood there and "petted" those rays all day! I loved their texture and I liked how excited they got over food. I can't say I wasn't a wee bit scared I'd be that ONE person to get stung or bit... but all was good, and as long as we don't contract any stinky sting ray diseases (our hands REEKED after touching them) , that was by far, my favorite part :)
If you were to ask Maeve what her favorite part of Sea World was, she'd say the sharks. WTH?! I totally thought she'd get a kick out of touching the rays, the giant walrus, or umm.... SHAMU?!?!?! But nope... she loved the shark exhibit. She loved it so much, that we got to see a fabulous tantrum thrown to do it again and again. THEN, in the gift shop, when given the option of picking out a souvenir, she picked out a plastic hammerhead shark. Out of all the cute beluga whales, penguins, seals, etc. a HAMMERHEAD SHARK?? Hmmm... whatever floats your boat love :)
By the time we left for the airport I think our core temps were all over 105 degrees. My babies were balls of sweat. And I felt suuuuper faint. We said horrible good byes. (HORRIBLE. Like from the movies- I'm holding Maeve back as she's screaming "NO NANA NOOOOO!! NANA COME WITH!!!!" and my mom is bawling saying "I'm so sorry!" It was awful. I cried all through security. I cried through dinner with the kids. And when we got to the gate and saw that our flight was delayed I cried even harder.
I can't think of many more inconvenient life pit stops than being delayed at the airport- by yourself- with two kids. With two, HOT, tired, whiny, LOUD, cranky kids. I sequestered us over in a corner of the airport- there was a square of chairs and between me, the carseat and the stroller, I could unleash the beasts and let them run. I know I was getting looks and people were thinking "Look at how out of control those children are!" but they can all kiss it. It was the best I could do given the situation.
I don't remember what time we boarded... I know we were supposed to board at 6:15. We didn't get into Detroit until 11. While I could sit here and do some major complaining/venting... I really have to say my kids were rock stars on the plane. Maeve passed out before take off. Henry gave into sleep about 45 minutes into the flight. He fussed on and off, but hey- he's teething and it was way past his bedtime. I can't blame him for being less than pleased.
Pulling into Detroit, was a haze. I really don't remember much- my head was pounding, I was still REALLY HOT, and exhausted doesn't begin to explain my overall physical and mental state. I was thinking two words: "FIND. RYAN."
He was waiting in the baggage claim area and he was pretty much like an oasis. He took all the crap out of my hands, and even managed to carry a very sleepy MaeMae.
In the car, I told him that I was pretty sure I had sun poisoning and I needed to go to the er. His typical response, "Seriously?" I told him, get me a giant bottle of water, excedrin and that I would let him know when we got closer to Jackson if I did indeed, need to go in for dehydration and the brain anyurism/migrane/headache. Would a trip really be complete without me coming down with some sort of medical condition?? I in all honesty thought that the pressure on the airplane, combined with the headache I already had, had created an anyurism (and yeah- I know I'm not spelling that word right). Luckily for everyone involved, I fell asleep and woke up in our drive way- headache free. False alarm on the anyrusim! :) haha :)
I titled this post "The Grass is Greener" because well, in Florida the grass IS green... not yellow/brown. AND because I caught a glimpse at what life would be like if we were to reside in St.Augustine. I'm not sure on exact dates. But I can guarantee you our address will not be Jackson for much longer. I am bound and determined... that the grass is really greener on the other side. :)