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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Catching Up

Wow, there's nothing like having company and going on a little roadtrip to give you a swift kick in the pants and knock the blog right out of you.

My parents visited us here in Ohio for about a week -- they were here through Easter -- basically hanging out with their grandkids and watching a lot of basketball on the telly. At least, it seemed like a lot of basketball to me. We're not exactly the watching basketball kind of family. Unlike my sisters' families and, it would appear, the entire state of Kansas, where following basketball is akin to a religious exercise. The "Bible Belt"? Pshffshaw. More like the Basketball Belt.

Anyhoo. Olivia also gave them an earful, no surprise there. I wrote down a few of the more choice comments she made, otherwise known as Open Mouth, Insert Olivia's Foot.

"Grandpa, don't you ever close your eyes when I'm counting on you to color with me!"

"Grandpa, you have hair in your nose."

Grandma tells Olivia, who wants her to hit a balloon around with her, "First I need to make a call to someone in Kansas." Olivia exclaimed, "Kansas? Is there somebody there besides you?!"

"Hey, that's not the Easter Bunny! I can see the zipper on its back!"

Sheesh. Good thing her grandparents love her.

Besides basketball watching and laughing over Olivia's quips, my mom and I also got a little shopping in. Ohio is a haven for antique markets, but I had yet to actually get out and visit any. Oh, woe me. We only got to one, The Treasure Barn in downtown Dayton, where I salivated over all the finds that seemed like such amazing deals to me after my last antiquing experience in Europe where the dollar continues to weaken by the second. But I managed to come away with only one purchase, what I call "The Anywhere Chair", which John immediately made fun of and said it looked like something that belonged in the Brady Bunch.
It's not perfect, for pete's sake. But it's not fugly, either. Is it? I mean, someday I can get this $10 chair reupholstered and it will look like something I found in an old chalet outside Paris, right?
Okay, it cost a little more than $10. But not by much. And can't you see the potential?

Besides antiquing we also got to the brand spanking new IKEA down the road outside of Cincinnati. An Ikea within driving distance from my house. Oh, Lord have mercy.

Spring Break came not long after my parents left and we headed down to nether regions -- otherwise known as lower Alabama. We stopped in John's hometown of Montgomery to visit John's dad before continuing on down to where we were staying on the Gulf.
You wouldn't know it, but this is the first time Pap-pap actually met Olivia and Sean-Peter. Comes from our living overseas for three years, I suppose. But Pap-pap obviously didn't give Olivia's mouth a chance to give him a hard time.

The location of the hotel/condo where we stayed in Orange Beach rocked. Here was the view from our balcony.
It was rather cloudy and cool and windy our first day there, perfect for hunkering down and resting our travel-weary bodies. The temperature still felt warm on our yankee-wintered spirits -- who knew it could be so humid in April? And the little ones were just as happy to swim around in the gargantuan whirlpool tub in our bathroom.

But wait, who are those crazy crackers? We reckoned they belonged to the Ottawa tags we noticed in the parking lot.

But the pool was heated. That rocked, too.

The bulk of our time there fully cooperated for fun in the sun. Or in the, er, clouds. And even though it called for rain almost every day, almost every day it was wrong.

We had fun at the beach.
Yo! he says. Or something like that.

There was fun in the sand. Wait, this looks familiar.Ah, yes. Here they were, almost two years ago now, at Lignano Beach in Italy, on the Adriatic. *sigh*

But back to the Gulf.

Sean-Peter was happiest when he had fistfuls of sand.Or was just crawling around in it. But wait, I feel some more nostalgia coming on.He used to have this thing with literally sticking his head in the sand.Peek-a-boo!He was happiest with fistfuls of sand then, too.

But for some inexplicable reason he also insisted on dumping loads of it onto his face. He always seemed so surprised.
But not too upset overall. Wasn't he so cute?

Okay, if I keep walking down memory lane I'm never going to get this post done.

Sean-Peter did eventually get braver near the water. He just needed a little encouragement.I call that my melanoma hat.

Olivia helped him along, too.When I saw them holding hands I decided it was too adorable to not turn this into a photo-op.

Conner played along.
Sort of.
Then he had to run and wash off the gushy-gooeyness of it all.
"Get a load of that guy!"

There was also fun in the pool.

And we toured the U.S.S. Alabama in Mobile Bay.
After Sean-Peter chased some birds...
...until they started chasing him. Then he got a little confused and didn't know which way to go.So he sought refuge with his brother.Conner comforted them, "Come on, let's just look at the water."But wait, what's that?"An alligator! And it's coming closer!Run for your lives! Aw, that's better. Now we're safe. Them's big guns.

John's got, um, a few brothers. We got to see two of them.If it seems like there's a bit of an age gap? That's because John was a ... how do you say ... whoops?

It'd been just a few years -- okay, several -- since Conner and I had visited family down in Alabama. What I remembered as little punks were all growed up -- now they're Big Punks. *sniff*Aren't they beautiful?

It was the first time Olivia and Sean-Peter got to meet their Alabama cousins -- not that you would know it. They settled in with each other just fine.
I have no idea why Brandy is sticking out her tongue, although I'm sure she'd be quite horrified to know I posted it on this blog for the whole wide web to see. Or, at least, for anyone who happens to google, "Why is Brandy sticking out her tongue?"

And she's beautiful, too, see?
But wait, he's not a cousin.
And neither is she.
John and Ed used to work together, sort of, back in Vegas. Last time we saw Ed and Cory they were young and carefree and without a worry in the world.

In other words, childless.

Now they've got two punks of their own and are stationed in the Florida panhandle, aka the Redneck Riviera. We hopped on over for a visit which happened to coincide with Cory's birthday.
Cory was a good sport and let Sean-Peter help welcome her into the official world of the Thirty-Somethings.

It's always so good to see friends again that you've left behind, or who've left you. The older we get and the more often we move the smaller the world becomes. And that's a good thing.

It stormed early in the morning our last day at the Gulf. But it cleared up enough later on to enjoy some more time at the beach and give the kids a final go.
That other punk you see is their cousin Jamie.

I love this picture of Olivia. I must have taken a dozen just like this, of her running to the waves ready to jump into them and then running back so carefree before gearing up to go again.

To me, this is what the beach is all about.

At least for punks. That water is cold in April. I'll just stand by and watch and take pictures, thank you very much.

When we returned to Ohio we found Spring waiting here for us: the same temperatures we had enjoyed down south, but without the humidity. Oh, folly! for it lasted but a few, gorgeous go-outside days before Winter reared its ugly head again, "I'm ba-ack!"

I'm actually sitting here (and trying to finish this godforsaken post already) in front of a fire, for pete's sake, with a forecast telling me there's a chance of snow showers and a hard frost in our future. Good thing I haven't had the wherewithal to plant those flowers Olivia has been pining for.

I personally envision my immediate future full of painting a seemingly infinite number of walls and baseboards and cupboards and doors whilst learning therapy techniques from Sean-Peter's new speech pathologist ... and adjusting to John's absence after leaving for SOS this morning.

What, you thought he already took SOS? Silly you. That was the correspondence course. Not the same thing at all. I don't have any idea why anyone would think it was. Ridiculous, really. To think that you wouldn't need to go take the course in-residence after already completing it online. I don't know what would give you that idea. It makes perfect military sense to take it twice. Really, it does.

"Bye-bye, daddy!"

So I'll be holding down the fort here for about five weeks while John is down playing war games back in the nether regions. Neither role is going to be a piece of cake. I just got an email from John as I've been (finally) wrapping this up, and he has arrived and checked in and discovered that he has a full-up mini apartment with a regular kitchen and everything as opposed to the run-of-the-mill hotel room and bath like most of the others. He already knew he was probably going to be the senior old fart there with his date of rank, going in so late in the game like he is. But seeing his accomodations confirmed to him that "they're going to really stick it to me good".

Aw, sweetness. You might actually wish you were in my shoes for once.

If only my shoes were still at the beach.


Anonymous said...

Holy blogging, Jolyn!! That was a marathon read!! I love your writing, though...I'm reminded each time I read your stuff. Thanks for sharing all the pictures! Looks like you've been busy!! :)

judy said...

Whew! You are back just in time. I was going through "no Jolyn blogs to read" withdrawal symptoms! Thank goodness it was a long one with lots of pictures and fun stories.

the dragonfly said...

Wow, crazy-busy! I enjoyed the pictures...I've been dreaming of the beach lately.

Hope the next five weeks go well..

Mary Alice said...

Love the pictures. Looks like fun. I remeber getting pralines in Orange Beach once. I'm a sucker for pralines, so they always stick in my memory!