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November, 2007:

Girls’ Week – Day 6

Day 1     Day 2     Day 3     Day 4     Day 5

Well, the last day of our trip had arrived. We got all packed, ate a yummo breakfast, and headed to downtown Wilmington for a little shopping. You didn’t think 6 women could go on a 6-day vacation without going shopping and buying stuff, did you? We went to the Cotton Exchange, which is a beautiful old building with a lot of little shops in it, right downtown along the river. We enjoyed looking at all the stuff, and I, amazingly, came away with nothing. I did, however, talk my mother into buying a purse she was drooling over. She said she couldn’t fit it in her bag to take on the plane. I said “Oh but you can! The little purse you have right now will fit right inside this nice new one you’re going to buy.” Convinced – she bought it :-) On our walk back to the vehicles, we stopped and got some hot dogs and shakes for lunch. We had planned to sit outside along the river, but it was cloudy and cool and the wind had really picked up – so we sat inside enjoying our yummy snacks. Grandma is getting a bit nervous about making it all the way to the airport on time, so we head to the vehicles, even though we have a good hour before we HAD to leave Wilmington. We got back to the vehicles and were preparing to follow my Aunt Diane to the Interstate that we needed to take to Raleigh to get to the airport. EXCEPT, her vehicle wouldn’t start. She kept trying and trying and trying – nothing. Apparently, even shiny new red Hummers don’t run without gas 😉 So she hopped in the van with me and I drove her to the gas station a few blocks away, where she bought a gallon gas can and a gallon of gas. Back to the Hummer, but with a small hitch . . . she couldn’t figure out how to get the gas can nozzle on the gas can. I know, you’re probably thinking “well, that’s not THAT difficult!” Oh but it was . . . took 4 of us to figure it out. It was NOT your typical turn the cap over, screw it on type of gas can. It was just plain weird. Anyway, Hummer gassed up and we take off, figuring she’ll head to the gas station to fill up. Instead, she goes out on the highway!!! We’re all like what the heck is she doing? She needs GAS! Then we see a sign for the little city she said we were driving to to catch the Interstate . . . 9 miles! Ummmm . . . now we’re getting a bit nervous . . . I mean, really – you just totally ran your vehicle out of gas so it wouldn’t start, and now you’re going to drive 12 miles before you get gas again? HELLO!!! But, we made it, we gassed up as well, gave hugs and love to Diane and were off to the Raleigh/Durham airport. It was a good 2 hour drive. I enjoyed talking to my Aunt Arlene, who sat in the front passenger seat by me. She and I don’t get to talk much, so it was very nice. AND, she just so happens to be the woman who introduced me to my hubby :-)

To the airport, return the van, shuttle to the terminal, check our bags, and we’re there – 2 1/2 hours early – UGH! Now what . . . well, let’s eat of course :-) Yummy airport food – can’t beat that! We had a very uneventful plane trip back to MSP – and I FINISHED HARRY POTTER #7! Woo hoo! I was very excited . . . I started the book at 6:40 a.m. on Day 1 and finished around 8:30 p.m. on Day 6 – yeah! Lots of tears and hugs goodbye as my mom, g’ma, and aunts headed to baggage claim – I headed to my next gate – to wait an hour for my plane to leave. It was right on time and I pulled in to my driveway around 11:15 p.m. Up at 6:30 a.m. for work on Wednesday!

We had such an awesome trip – really, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I got to go on a trip like that with my 87 year old grandmother, who made me realize that you never stop worrying about your children. When we left Wilmington to drive to the airport, she said “Well, I’m just glad that Dale and Mickey are moving back to  Wilmington in January. It’ll be good for Dale and Diane to be close to each other again.” Dale and Diane are her youngest – the youngest of 7 – they are twins – they are the only 2 children who moved away from “home.” And it’s obvious that even though they are 44 years old, she still worries about them every day.

I got to go on a 6-day trip with my mother, whom I miss dearly. It was so great to spend all of that time with her, without my kids around. I love my kids to death, and so does she of course, but when we’re together as a family, they want all of Grandma’s attention because they don’t see her often. I am so thankful to have gotten that time with my mom.

I got to spend 6 days with 4 of my aunts and 1 uncle. It was fun to see how they all interacted and what the “order” was for all of them. I still find it amazing that 7 children can be born and raised in the same environment by the same parents and have such different personalities. As a kid, I spent a lot of time with my family – all my aunts and uncles and cousins – yet I learned more about each of these 5 women on this trip than I’d learned in my previous 35 years. And for that, I am thankful.

When all was said and done, we had a WONDERFUL time on this trip. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and I definitely will never forget it!

Girls’ Week – Day 5

Day 1     Day 2     Day 3     Day 4

After sleeping in as long as we wanted, which for me meant all of 7:00 a.m. – used to getting up with those darned kids of mine – we had a yummy breakfast and headed out for an adventure. We drove by some beautiful beach homes on our way to the ferry. We drove in one of the neighborhoods to check out the houses, all of which were beautiful shades of beach home color – fuscia, purple, pink, lime green – you get the picture. I figured we’d stop and see how much one of the homes for sale was. HOLY CRAP! A 3000 square foot home on a teeny tiny lot that it barely fit on was $1.75 million! I knew they’d be spendy, but I didn’t know they’d be ridiculously spendy! We got on the ferry and had a fun 20 minute ride across to South Port to go shopping. On our way over, we saw some dolphins playing in the bay, swimming next to the ferry. It was pretty cool! Here are my Aunt Joan, Aunt Arlene, Aunt Diane, and Me on the ferry:

South Port Ferry 

After a few hours of shopping and enjoying the views, we had a great lunch and headed back to the dock. We heard some cannons being fired and wondered what the heck was going on. Turns out there were a couple pirate ships in the bay shooting cannons at each other for a film crew. Pretty cool! One of the ships was still out there when the ferry took us back:

Pirate Ship

After we got back to Diane’s, she and I ran back out to head to the liquor store, grocery store, and fish market. We needed supplies for the evening! We got some stuff to make mudslides with, bought ingredients for quessadillas and artichoke dip, and got some fresh-off-the-boat peel and eat shrimp from the fish market. YUMMOLA! We had a great time just hanging out, snacking, drinking, and playing cards. It was a nice relaxing day toward the end of our vacation.

Sadly, we all had to pack that evening because our flight left the next afternoon. Check back tomorrow for Day 6 adventures – even Hummers won’t start when they run out of gas!

My Check Engine Light Came On

And I should have taken that as a sign – a sign to drive straight home and crawl in bed with the covers over my head until I had to pick up my kids from school. Instead, I took it as a sign that I should continue with my day . . .

I’m driving down the Interstate heading to work after dropping Keira off at school, when the Jeep starts missing. On most days, I would have simply been annoyed and uttered an “oh come ON” – but today, I was royally pissed. You see, the hubby left for work for a week yesterday . . . so I have nobody to “save” me from my impending doom. Anyway, back to the Jeep – anyone who’s driven an old car knows the feeling – the jerky-cutting-out-engine-pausing jerking that accompanies an engine problem. Being the left-lane driver that I am, I actually merge in to the right lane, certain that the Jeep will die and I will have to pull off on the shoulder to avoid being “that guy” who obviously knew his car was going to quit, but still kept driving to see how far he could get, only to realize too late that he no longer had enough momentum to get off on the shoulder, thus leaving the tail end of his car sticking half way out onto the Interstate, effectively shutting it down for miles and miles. Alas, this did not happen to me. I kept driving, albeit nervously, trying to make it to work. Work was much closer than going back home or trying to drive to the shop. A mile or so down the road, the oil gauge spikes to around 70 . . . it usually hovers around 40-50. Um, I’m guessing that’s not good. Then the overdrive light starts turning on and off, all on its own . . . and the Jeep can’t regulate it’s shifting . . . uh oh! Just a couple more miles to work – please please please make it! Then, finally, the check engine light comes on – turns out I’m NOT imagining this stuff! I make it in to the parking garage at work and head to my desk, bitching and cursing the entire way. I call the shop and they say I can bring it in right away. Now to find a ride . . . thankfully my wonderful friend Queen Taunya is coming in to the office soon. I track her down, explain my plight, and we formulate a plan. A simple plan really . . . she will follow me to the shop, then give me a ride to my house to get the spare keys for the car, which my husband has parked at the airport; then she’ll drive me to the airport, I’ll pick up the car, we’ll both drive back to work, and all will be right with my world. Um – apparently, easier said than done when the ENTIRE FRIGGIN’ WORLD is against you.

At 9:30 we leave work for what should be maybe a 90 minute excursion, if we run in to traffic. We get to the shop just fine, I tell them all about the terrible disease my Jeep has contracted, and QT and I are on our merry way to my house. Hey, it’s a nice sunny day – all is well. We drive the 15 miles to my house and I run in to grab the keys. EXCEPT they’re not on the key hook! My first thought is that Dan took the spare set with him “just in case” cuz he’s a “just in case” kinda guy. Hoping that’s not so, I look in the laundry bin, which is right below the key hook. Whew! Spare car keys. Back to QT’s car to head to the aiport . . . a mere 20 mile drive. We get a few miles from home and I realize “I have no money to pay to get the car out of the airport parking lot.” *&$% We decide to look for a cash machine – then realize, duh – they take credit cards. Whew! Minor catastrophe dodged. We’re cruisin’ along chattin’ away and pull up behind a white pick up at a stop light about 5 miles from the airport. Yap yap yap – WHAM! Rear-ended by a Volkswagen. Are you friggin’ KIDDING me?! So we get out, only to discover that we are car #3 in the incident . . . mommy in car #1 was distracted by crying baby (I do feel for her, really – we’ve all been there) and ran into car #2, which slammed in to us, pushing us into car #4, the white pickup in front of us. So everyone gets out to assess damage. No damage – anywhere – EXCEPT, you guessed it – QT’s car. For those who don’t know, QT is the person who was babysitting my kids when I backed out the garage and clipped the mirror off of her car – yet she’s still, amazingly, my friend. Anyhoo, we assess the damage to her car . . . front bumper smashed a bit, but totally cracked and needs to be replaced. Back bumer scraped up, nothing too terrible, but tail light cracked. Underneath – something leaking – we’re still not sure what. Since there were 4 cars and a baby involved, we decide to call the police. Guy in Car #2, who had run in to us, decides he’s not gonna hang around – gives us a name, phone number, and e-mail address and bolts. Um, OK Mr. Illegal! So the rest of us do our thing with the cops and are on our way. Being the wise ass I am, I tell QT to just let me know if she needs a ride while her car is getting fixed . . . see, she and I have that kind of relationship . . . and we both start laughing so hard we’re crying, because really – this could only happen to the two of us. We did get to the airport and did find the car in the parking lot. I actually made a lap around the car to make sure there wasn’t a flat tire or something. All was well; so I click the door unlocker button. Nothing. I click it again. Nothing. I put the key in the door, won’t turn. I take it out, click the unlocker button. Nothing. Really? FRIGGIN’ REALLY?! I put the key in again and it turns, so I get in, leave, the whole deal. Back to work without further incident – 3 HOURS LATER! I had to file for PTO!!!

The rest of my afternoon was uneventful – the whole 2 hours I got to spend at work anyway :-) I picked up the kids, took them to gymnastics, and walked over to buy a Powerball ticket – I mean, with the luck I’m having today, why not, huh 😉 I’m too annoyed/pissed/tired to think about dinner, so I let them choose. McDonald’s wins, of course. All is well with the world UNTIL I take my salad back because they put the wrong chicken on it. I’m waiting for another when I hear Keira crying at the table. She’s totally tired and has totally lost her shit. And do you know why? Because her hamburger is falling apart. The pieces are too small. And why, you ask, are they too small? Because she tore it into a gazillion pieces! She’d asked me to tear it up for her, so I tore it in half like always. But oh no . . . today THAT was not good enough, she wanted 4 pieces. So she tore each piece into 4 pieces . . . and so on and so on and so on . . . until the thing was almost disintigrated. I told her sorry, it’s in a gazillion pieces because you made it that way . . . but hey, there’s my salad . . . you can have the tomatoes. Suddenly, all was right in her world and she skipped back to the table while I got my salad. And THEEENNNNN, there were no tomatoes in the salad . . . they’d given me the right chicken this time, but no tomatoes. THE HORROR! Of course, K lost her shit again and we ate dinner amongst sobs over tiny pieces of hamburger and missing tomatoes.

And, they took away the hot chocolate machine at work. What kind of person takes away the hot chocolate machine?

I’m pretty sure that the next time my check engine light comes on, I’ll turn around, go home, crawl in bed, and wait for tomorrow.

Girls’ Week – Day 4

Day 1     Day 2     Day 3

Sunday morning rolled around and we met at McDonald’s to start our drive to Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The map said 8 hours . . . um ya, whatever. Depends on who’s driving I guess. We made it in about 7 when all was said and done :-) 4 of us loaded in to the mini van and followed my Aunt Diane and 2 others in her Hummer. We decided we weren’t really going to caravan because it’s a pain when you’re driving that far. So when we got close to Charleston, SC we called them to see where they were. We all met at a certain exit and stopped for a bite to eat. Then Diane stopped at a real estate place to see how to get to a cool bridge she wanted us to drive over. It was awesome! At that point, we split up. They wanted to just cruise and get to Carolina Beach, but we thought it would be a shame to be in Charleston and not see any of the amazing buildings and take in some history. So they tooled along and we called my hubby’s friend, William, who lives in Charleston. We asked him how to get to “the big old houses.” He hopped on his computer and pulled up a map – then we told him where we were. He said “Get in the van, lock the doors, and roll up the windows, then we’ll talk.” Guess we weren’t in the best neighborhood at the moment 😉 But we had a great view of the bridge! William was great and got us down to The Battery in no time at all. We got a great parking spot and walked around a bit. Here are me, Mom, Aunt Patty, and Grandma by a cannon:

The Batter Cannon 

Being me, I had to sit on top of the stack of cannon balls:

Jodie on Cannon Balls 

We walked to the shore to see the fort out on the water (the name is escaping me at the moment), and decided we couldn’t resist a walk around the block. I LOVE the history and all these huge old houses. They truly are amazing. It’s kind of like being in Las Vegas . . . you don’t realize how huge the hotels are because they are all ginormous. Just like these houses – you don’t realize how huge they are until you picture your house sitting next to it on the block and DAMN they are HUGE! Here’s Mom, Patty, and Grandma by a monster yellow mansion on the corner:

Huge Yellow House Charleston

Another beautiful home that I just had to take a picture of:

White House Charleston

The detail and lawns on these houses is just amazing! I really couldn’t get over how wonderful they were. And, I was truly amazed when they said that many of the homes are still single family dwellings – how awesome would that be?! Also, in the historic district of Charleston, anything that is over 75 years old is considered historic and cannot be changed. You can do whatever you want to the inside of any of the houses, but the lawns, sidewalks, paint – everything on the outside must stay exactly as is and must be maintained. Because of this, you see old boot scrapes outside of the doors of the houses – the boot scrapes are more than 75 years old, so they cannot be moved. I think it’s great that they’ve taken these steps to preserve this awesome history.

We were trying to be good and not spend too much time in Charleston because we didn’t want to the others to wait too long in Carolina Beach for us before going to dinner – but, we saw a horse-drawn carrige go by on the road. Grandma was getting a little tired of walking, so I asked them how we got one of them. He told us to go to the Rainbow Market about 7 blocks down; so we hopped back in the van and headed down there. This must have been our day because we got a parking spot right out front, which apparently never happens on a Sunday, there was a carrige leaving in 15 minutes and there were 4 seats left on it. So we handed over our $20, cruised to the bathroom, and got on the carriage. We took a 1 hour and 45 minute carriage ride around historic Charleston and loved every minute of it! Our tour guide was awesome and we saw some great things. I always think it’s worth it to take those tours because you learn so much more than you ever could just walking around by yourself. One of my favorite houses was this humonstrous brick home:

Brick House Charleston

Isn’t it amazing?! Inside the front door which faces the street, but really is the side door because the houses are turned sideways, there is an original one-of-a-kind Tiffany stained glass chandalier. Tiffany made it just for this house. Also, there is beautiful rope molding around each of the windows:

Brick House Window Charleston 

Supposedly, if you had rope molding around one of the windows on your house, that meant that you had earned your money and were very wealthy. This particular house had rope molding around EVERY window! Apparently this guy wanted to make sure there was no doubt that he had made his money. I figure the ginormous gazillion square foot brick house would have made that statement without the rope molding. He also had a beautiful black wrought iron fence around the house – there were 5 rope molded posts in the fence; one for each of his daughters.

This next picture is of the only street in Charleston where it was legal to dual. You could invite your enemy here for an actual real life legal gun dual. Pretty cool if you ask me!

Charleston Dual Street

After spending a couple hours in Charleston, we figured we’d better get back on the road and head to Carolina Beach. My Aunt Diane had asked us to call her when we got to Myrtle Beach so she could tell us the bypass . . . we called and she gave us directions. Told us exactly where to get off the highway to catch the bypass; only thing is, she failed to tell us that we had to get off the road we were on and onto another road – tiny detail! After about a mile the road turned immediately from a 4 lane highway to a single-lane dirt road! We figured that couldn’t be right, so we called her back and got the REAL directions.

We cruised the rest of the way to Wilmington and gave her a call to get directions to her house. She was amazed that we were in Wilmington already. I guess my lead foot did us good, and I was lucky not to get pulled over!

After the directions for the bypass, I was a bit leary of listening to directions all the way to her house, especially since some of her directions included “turn right at the lake, which will be on your left.” Um – it’s dark out – kinda hard to see a lake! We ended up crossing the wrong bridge, but she figured out where we were and got us to her house. After we got all of our stuff unloaded and in to our rooms, we headed out for a yummy dinner at a restaurant on the waterway. We had yummy chowder and mahi mahi; and of course a couple drinks! Back to her house to hang out and relax and head to bed.

All in all, another great day with some laughs and great scenery along the way.

Girls’ Week – Day 3

Day 1     Day 2

After a fun day in St. Augustine, we decided to relax and hang out at the pool. We got some bloody mary’s from the restaurant and headed out to the pool. After a while, we decided we needed some more beverages, so Mom and I hopped in the van and headed to the liquor store for some margarita mix, wine coolers, and beer. While we were out, we decided we should grab some lunch for everyone, so we drove to BW3 by the hotel to get some wings. For all of you Ohio State fans out there, the BW3 on Baymeadows in Jacksonville is an Ohio State hang out. OMG! I walked in to a sea of red and white. I ordered a gazillion wings and a couple salads to go, and hung out to watch the show . . . the show being a bunch of crazed Ohio State fans watching a football game on 47 big screen TVs. When Ohio State scored a touchdown, BW3 even played their fight song! And of course EVERYONE stood up and did the O – H – I – O at the appropriate time. THEN, a guy stood up on his table with a microphone to rally the crowd with a pep talk over the restaurant speakers! I was flabbergasted. My food was ready and I bolted.

We got back to the pool, ate lunch, and started to play cards. Some people read, some people played cards, and one person braved the cold pool water.

You might be a redneck if . . .

 Hangin At The Pool

You’re 30 minutes from the beach but choose to hang out at the Holiday Inn pool all day drinking out of plastic cups.

We really did have a great time, and it was fun and relaxing. It was one of those hang out days so you don’t need a vacation from your vacation when you get home. Later in the afternoon, we all cleaned up and headed to the grocery store to get supplies for a BBQ at Dale and Mickey’s house. That was lots of fun, and relaxing as well! The food was yummy, the company was great, and we were all rested up for an early morning departure for our 8 hour drive to Carolina Beach.

Check back tomorrow for Day 4!

Bike Baskets

So last weekend the fam was out shopping – looking at bikes for the boy – he wanted to be sure he knew exactly what to ask Santa for. For the past 6 months, Keira has been unwavering in her desire to ask Santa for a double doll stroller. She knows exactly what it will look like and is determined to ask for that; however, there was a shiny object at the bike shop. The girl found a bike and was riding it around the store.

Keira: I’m going to ask Santa for this bike for Christmas!

Mom: Um, what? You’ve been talking about this double doll stroller you were going to ask for for literally the past 6 months. AND, you’ve got 2 bikes at home – we just got you your “big girl” bike at that garage sale a couple weekends ago.

K: I know, I really want the stroller, but THIS bike has a BASKET and I need a basket on my bike! So I’ll ask Santa for this bike so I can have a basket.

M: Are you sure? Maybe we can go look at Target and see if they have any baskets that we can put on your bike that you have. Your birthday is coming up in December, too. Maybe you could keep it in mind for your birthday?

At this point I’m not sure why I’m trying to convince my daughter to ask Santa for a $40 stroller instead of a $5 basket! Maybe because I know how much she wants that stroller. But, off to Target we go. K of course finds the PERFECT pink basket with a yellow flower on it.

K: Mom! This one is PERFECT. I’m going to ask Santa for this basket.

M: OK. But maybe you should put the basket on your wish list for your birthday or Christmas instead of asking Santa.

K: But I really want this basket and HAVE to ask Santa for it!

M: Why? Why can’t you just put it on your wish list?

K: (Tears in her eyes because I just don’t get it) Because I don’t know how to spell BASKET!

She did see Santa on Monday at The North Pole and did indeed ask him for the double doll stroller. I’m guessing her brother, who is pretty observant and sensitive, will be getting her a pink bike basket with a yellow flower for her birthday :-)

Gobble Gobble

Happy Turkey Day To All!!! We’ve got  two families coming over today to enjoy Turkey Day Dinner with us. We’re orphan families, so we decided to get together. And really, we HAD to have people come over because my hubby is completely incapable of making a normal sized turkey – he’s got to get at least a 20-pounder. There are only 4 of us. And while I love turkey soup, and turkey sandwiches, and turkey commercials (don’t know what that is? You’re not from the midwest, are you?!) . . . well, you CAN have too much of a good thing. So, we’re off to start making Turkey Dinner for 12 :-) Woo hoo!

Here’s a sample of what a typical Turkey Day schedule was for me as a child growing up in the midwest . . . land of Catholics, Lutherans, and big families!

7:00 a.m. – Wake up to make casserole/orange fluff/dessert to take to Turkey Day Dinners at G’ma’s/Aunt’s house.

10:00 a.m. – Arrive at maternal Grandma and Grandpa’s house for “brunch.” You arrive at 10:00 because they asked you to be there at 11:00 – if you’re not early, you’re late! And you just KNOW they’ll need help setting up, even though they’ve been cleaning for 3 days straight.

11:30 a.m. – Get in line to get Turkey Day feast from buffet, elbowing your 15 cousins so you can be sure to get some orange fluff from the “salad” section of the buffet. Sit down and eat while taking as loudly as possibly in teeny tiny kitchen. After 7 minutes, make joke about how loud it is, everyone laughs, everyone takes a bit of food, chatter begins and steadily gets louder. After 7 minutes, lather, rinse, repeat.

12:00 p.m. – Open mouth wide while Grandma shovels the last bite of potatoes into your mouth because she just can’t bear to throw it out. “Eat this, or I’ll give it to the dog!” Um thanks G’ma – I’d love to have some, uh, dog food.

12:15 p.m. – Begin cleaning up kitchen with the other women while the men watch football or play pfeffer (don’t know what pfeffer is? You’re not from the midwest, are you?!).

1:30 p.m. – Mention that you have to get going because Dad’s sister is having Thanksgiving at 3:30 at their house.

2:15 p.m. – Actually walk out the door.

2:30 p.m. – Arrive at Dad’s sister’s house because you were asked to be there at 3:30 p.m. If you’re not early, you’re late! And, you are certain they will need assistance getting set up.

4:00 p.m. – Get in line for Turkey Dinner from the buffet, elbowing 9 cousins to make sure you get in line early enough to get some green fluff from the “salad” section!

4:04 p.m. – Get in trouble for not taking enough food – you’re going to waste away, you know!

4:30 p.m. – Continue stuffing food in your face even though you’re way too full and can’t possibly eat another bite.

4:40 p.m. – Wonder why oh WHY you didn’t remember to wear pants with an elastic waist?!

5:00 p.m. – Wiggle your fat ass out of the chair and try to get up to help clean up the kitchen while the men watch football.

6:00 p.m. – Mention that you must get going otherwise you’ll fall asleep right there on the couch next to Grandpa, with his pants unbuttoned and mouth wide open snoring.

7:00 p.m. – Actually walk out the door, with several containers of left overs in your hands.

7:30 p.m. – Arrive home, put on the biggest pair of pants you own, grab a beer, and watch football in the quiet of your own home.

We had so much fun growing up with all of our cousins around, laughing and playing at Grandma’s house. That is one thing I wish I had for my children – family closer. But, we have a great family of friends here and are making memories of our own that I hope my kids will cherish forever.

What’s YOUR Thanksgiving Day ritual?

Turkey Dinner

Please sing to the tune of Frere Jacques (or Are You Sleeping, Brother John) 

Turkey Dinner, Turkey Dinner
Gather ’round, gather ’round
Who will get the drumstick, yummy yummy yum stick
All sit down, all sit down
Cornbread muffin, chestnut stuffin’
Pumpkin pie, 2 foot high
We were all much thinner, before we came to dinner
Me Oh My, Me Oh My

Yes, I know you all hate me now – but didn’t that get you in the mood for Turkey Day?

Girls’ Week – Day 2

Day 1

On Day 2 of our trip, we all drove to St. Augustine, our nation’s oldest city. We bought tickets to ride the tour train around the city. We decided to take the 90 minute train ride, see everything from there, and then get off and decide what we really wanted to see. We got to see the beautiful Flager College . . . which used to be a hotel. The hotel was only open 3 months out of the year, and guests had to pay for the entire season in advance no matter how long they stayed.

Flagler College 

That whole train thing seemed like a good plan to start with, but the “train stops at every stop every 20 minutes” didn’t work out so well! They had told us that if we got off, anywhere, another train would show up within 20 minutes and we could get back on . . . I don’t know what happened, but we spent more time waiting for that friggin’ train! Anyway . . . our first stop was lunch, of course :-) It was YUMMY – cajun mahi mahi – mmmmmmmm! After lunch, we divided into two groups, because quite frankly, getting 9 people to decide one place to go wasn’t going to happen. A couple people said where they wanted to go and others got in to groups with them – worked out quite well if you ask me . . . just like in kindergarten. While 4 of the women went shopping, the other 5 of us had grand plans of Seeing Ripley’s Believe It Or Not with our free coupon and then heading over to the winery for a tour and tasting session. Sooooo, we start off down the street to one of the train stops to catch our faithful train. BUT, on the way we see Charlotte street – so we of course HAVE to stop and get a picture of Grandma with her street sign since her name is Charlotte. Isn’t my Grandma the cutest thing on the planet? I think she looks like Mrs. Clause.

Grandma and Her Street Sign 

After the street sign stop, we stood in the exact middle of a block on the sidewalk deciding if we should go left or right to get to a cross walk to get to the train stop that was RIGHT across the street. We couldn’t jaywalk because Gma would have had a hard time jogging across 4 lanes of traffic. So, we made the fateful decision to go right .  . . and we missed the walk sign . . . and we saw the train pull up to the stop . . . and we saw the train pull away . . . and we saw the walk sign turn green. Now had we gone the OTHER way to the train stop, we would have gotten across the street and been able to flag the train down before it left the parking lot. So we hung out at the train stop, figuring another 20 minutes and one would show up. We were at the old fort on the bay, so we wandered around a bit – a train never came. Never came. Still never came. So we decided to start walking to Ripley’s Museum – it was only a couple blocks and Grandma said she was up for it. So off we went, slowly, enjoying the old cemeteries as we passed, enjoying the view of the bay, and cursing that lovely train. We finally arrived at Ripley’s, and as we walked across the parking lot, had to wait for the train to drive by :-) Outside, there is a “log home” – a 1900 year old log that was carved inside to be a 3 room house – complete with kitchen, living room with fireplace, and bedroom with closet. Here’s me and Gma by the sign:

Jodie and Gma by Ripleys Log 

On we marched inside, coupons in hand, only to be turned away. Turns out, even though the coupon SAYS Ripley’s Museum . . . it doesn’t mean THAT Ripley’s Museum – it means the other historical museum that is already free! Grrrrrr . . . we all decided to save our $15 and catch the train to the winery. So we walked outside and hung out at the train stop, and waited, and waited, and waited. No train. We finally realized that the stop where we get on the van to take us to the winery was just a couple blocks away – so we decided to hoof it . . . and got there at the same time as the train. But hey, we were going to taste wine – it’s all good! Then we waited 15 minutes for the van to leave. During the wait, I walked down to see the City Gate, which I find amazing. This was the only entrance in to the walled city way back when the Spanish first came here.

Jodie City Gate 

We DID make it to the winery and we DID get to taste yummy wine – but we did not take the tour. You see, we got there about 15 minutes after the tour started, so we just jumped in at the end and did the tasting. And during the tasting, my Aunt realized her camera was missing! We couldn’t find it anywhere in the winery. So we went out and waited for the van – for 10 minutes – our shortest wait yet! Luckily, the camera was still in the van. We met the others at the van drop off and we all decided to go see the beautiful Memorial Presbyterian Church together. So we waited for the train – again. But we made it there and it sure was worth it! The beautiful stained glass, the antique furniture, the dark wood pews, and the massive altar were amazing! These antique table and chairs and the beautiful stained glass were awesome!

MPC

This Bible was HUGE and the detail was amazing. It was retired afte 116 years in service, and is far older than 116 years.

Bible

This antique organ also caught my eye – I’m just amazed at the detail and craftsmanship of these items!

Organ

After the Church, we waited for the train, again, and ended up getting off on a beautiful stone street with stamped brick sidewalks. We walked a couple blocks to a watering hole we’d seen and ordered some drinks to hang out and relax. My Aunt Diane and I started walking back to get the cars while the others finished their drinks. It only looked like about 8 blocks on the map, but as with everything else that day, it turned out to be about 2 miles! So, we stopped at Ripley’s Museum AGAIN to catch the train. And waited, and waited, and waited. We FINALLY got on the train, which was the last of the day, to head back to the car. It took a little longer than we’d expected because . . . we had to finish the tour! We were just giggling because we got to see the rest of the tour . . . the Fountain of Youth entrance, wood cannons, a beautiful street with amazing trees acting as a canopy, and this wall made out of seashells:

Shell Wall

We FINALLY got the cars, picked up the rest of them at the watering hole, and headed back to Jacksonville. You would think that we’d had enough, but alas, we hadn’t. We decided to go out for dinner, somewhere close to our hotel. The first place we stopped didn’t serve drinks – a definite necessity at this point. The next place had only tall bar stools – not very accommodating for an 86 year old grandmother. The next place wasn’t open yet – brand new restaurant opening in 3 days. I called the hotel and they gave me directions to a “main” area. We found a great restaurant, except the cheapest plate was $55! Um, no. So we headed across the street to old faithful – TGI Fridays. It really had taken us about an hour to find a restaurant, and with 2 cars trying to follow each other around an area nobody knew, it was very interesting. But, at TGI Fridays we had a great waitress, great service, and great food. We all went home happy as could be.

Whew! After all that, I totally want to go back to St. Augustine some time to view a few more things in detail and enjoy the history a bit more. We had a great time and made many memories that I will never forget . . . even if most of them DO involve waiting for that friggin’ red train 😉

Check back on Monday for Day 3!

Girls’ Week – Day 1

I’m finally getting around to writing about the 6-day trip I got to take with 5 members of my Mom’s family – My Mom, Grandma, and 3 aunts. It was SO much fun – and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Grandma is, afterall, 85 – although she doesn’t look or act a day over 70 😉

Our trip started November 1st . . . after a long evening of trick or treating and trying to convince the kids they should go to bed rather than eat candy, I finally finished my packing and hopped in to bed . . . only to discover that I was WAY too excited to actually sleep. It had been a long time since I’d been anywhere without the kids. At precisely 3:30 a.m. my alarm made me jump out of bed with my heart beating a gazillion mph. A quick shower, a quick kiss for the hubby, and I was off to the airport. My flight to MSP was uneventful – thankfully since it was so friggin’ early! When I got to MSP, I had 3 hours to hang around and wait to meet the family before the next flight left. So I’m leisurely walking down the concourse toward the common area of the airport when I hear someone say “Jodie.” Surely there was ANOTHER Jodie walking down the same concourse, so I kept walking. Then louder “JODIE.” I turn around and lo and behold it’s an old college friend of mine and Dan’s! I hadn’t seen Troy for years. He asked if I’d just come from COS and I said Yup . . . he said “Well cool – I just flew you here – my first flight on the Airbus.” I of course congratulated him on the flight (all of our friends had been furlowed from the airlines after 9/11 and are JUST NOW getting hired back) and thanked him for getting me there safely. To most that might seem odd . . . to us, if we don’t see some pilot we know in pretty much any airport it’s an unusual day 😉 Anyway, off I went to hang out until my fam met me at the airport 2 hours later. BUT, surprise surprise when my phone rings and it’s my Mom, telling me they’re 10 minutes away – they all got up early and were ready, so they left. It was fun to see them earlier than planned! I handed out the t-shirts I made everyone for the trip and we had lunch together. How fun! Here’s a picture of us at the airport in our t-shirts:

Family in Tshirts at MSP

From top left going clockwise . . . Aunt Arlene, Grandma, Aunt Patty, Mom, Me, Aunt Joan (my Godmother).

Go here to see the logo on the front of the shirts. On the back, I had printed a paraphrased quote from Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation (had to clean it up for G’ma) along with the Trip Rules. You see, my mother, well all of us really, belong in Advanced Planners Anonymous – heck, we should start our own chapter! Last MAY my mother sent each of us an e-mail with trip information . . . really, last MAY, a full 6 months before the trip! I had to giggle because she had included trip rules, which I put word-for-word on the back of the shirts. The back of our shirts said . . .

This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun.
I’m gonna have fun and you’re gonna have fun.
We’re all gonna have so much friggin’ fun
we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our smiles
!

Trip Rule #1: There is no bitching, pissing, moaning, complaining,
grumping, arguing, moping, pouting, crying, weeping,
sobbing, or saying “I told you so” permitted.

Trip Rule #2: Inevitably something will go wrong,
and when it does, we will take it in stride
and make the best of it (refer to Trip Rule #1).

Trip Rule #3: Majority will rule when making decisions
that affect the group. What you want may not always
be what the majority votes for (refer to Trip Rule #1).

I love that my family has a sense of humor – it sure makes it more fun! We got quite a few comments on the shirts on our flight, so that made it even more fun.

Our flight to JAX was uneventful, and after stuffing all of our luggage into the tiny cargo area of a mini van, we drove straight to my Uncle Dale’s house. A little background – my Mom has 6 siblings; 4 sisters and 2 brothers. 3 of the sisters are in this photo, the 4th and youngest sister lives in NC and came to visit us in JAX, and Dale is the youngest brother (and also twin to the youngest sister). The older brother, Gary, did not make the trip. Anywho . . . we found our way to Dale’s house after taking a thorough unexpected tour of Jacksonville – through some obvioulsy not-so-good neighborhoods! But we made it at last and were ready to hang out, relax, and catch up. One thing our family can do is hang out and talk – and drink – and talk and drink :-)

Family At Dale and Mickey's

My uncle Dale is the only guy, obviously, and his wife, Mickey, is the lady with the pink shirt. What fun! After this we went to grab a bite to eat, and we all got to try alligator – yummy! It, of course, tastes like chicken. I think from now on I’m going to say everything tastes like alligator. I mean, who made up the rule that chicken was the superior food and everything tastes like it?

After yummy alligator, we headed to the hotel and got settled for a well-needed sleep after a long day of travelling.

Come back tomorrow to hear about Day 2! We took a day trip to St. Augustine, our nation’s oldest city. It sure is beautiful!