Pictures are forthcoming, but I wanted to record my memories of our vacation while they're still fresh. Because, as we all know, at MY age, things are slipping fast. Here are the bullet points from the beach.
1. The van's problem was diagnosed and fixed the same evening, and so minor it embarrassed Paul. It was a dead battery. Though he had charged it plenty, Paul thought it was something else since the battery was only bought 8 months ago. Ron swapped it out; the new one cost nothing as it was under 12 mos old. Ron only charged us $25 for his time. Hallelujah! Paul was feeling "a thousand percent" after his fever broke the day before we left. As for my hairdresser, haven't heard back. I need to call again. IF I don't get her, I'm calling the dog groomer. I coudln't stand my bangs in my eyes, so I trimmed them myself; my hair has gone from Llaso ApZo to ShihTZo.
2. We had perfect weather. Left Sunday morning and had nothing but sunny skies in the upper 80s/lower 90s till our return trip Thursday, and only then it sprinkled in the early evening.
3. It was great to be able to leave the house and dog (who seems just fine now) in the care of our older boys. Ben and Steve couldn't go (or didn't really want to) because they had to work and had already taken time off for their own beach fun back in the early summer.
4. Joel made a bracelet--er, watch--out of gummi bears he stuck together on his wrist. He used only the yellow ones and called them the Golden Brothers. Got a picture of it on Sarah's camera phone. Such a proud jeweler.
5. Our room at the Caravelle was on the 15th floor directly facing the ocean. Splendid views of the Atlantic. Nothing like seeing and hearing God's great majesty on display while trying to concentrate on His Word from the balcony in the morning.
6. For the third year in a row, we got to spend the week with our friends, the Grants. They had just their three youngest kids with them (ages 6-12), whom Joel adores. This year their condo was only 9 blocks from ours--superb for making get-together plans on short notice.
7. Sarah surprised us with an unexpected blessing. She offered to babysit all the kids so that John, Renee', Paul, and I could go out on a double date.
8. We took her up on the generous offer Tuesday night and went to the Key West Grille at Broadway on the Beach. Ironically, it had been recommended to us by a hostess at a different restaurant who told me on the phone that it's quieter and a better atmosphere for a double date. It was sort of my pre-birthday birthday dinner.
9. Had a very sweet but very bad waitress at that restaurant. Maybe she was just new, but it took 4 requests for sugar before she brought John sweetener. He said "sugar, not sweetener" and she ran around till she found some. She told us the chicken satay appetizer fed six, but the little lean-to presentation of kebabs had only five skewers. John asked her what the 6th person was supposed to eat, the rice?-good thing there's only 4 of us here. I asked for a Mai Tai. She didn't know what that was, but I knew the bartender would, so directed her to him for the contents thereof. It was good but not especially pretty. I like pretty drinks. Renee' ordered a pineapple/ham pizza without cheese. The pizza came smothered in mozzarella, so she had to send it back. We were nearly finished before her remake arrived. Thankfully her husband and mine found plenty to talk about; they both love guitars and music in general. John had just invented a microphone for drummers to use in tight spots, and had the starry eyes of a mad scientist the whole night. Paul, who is usually a man of few words, asked him question after question. During dinner, we spotted our friend Seth from church. His wife Crystal, was with him at a nearby table. What a wonderful thing. Made me wonder what heaven will be like, saying "hi" to brothers and sisters we knew from another context in a place of feasting and friendship. We also talked about our kids, but what a mixed blessing it is to be at this stage of life. Our youngest can swim well and so we're not panicked in the pool--we can actually relax, but our oldest are in college and able to choose whether to join us for vacation. It's a bit sad that they declined. But it's happy for the younger ones who have more of their parents' attention (and money) and aren't lost in the grown-up world. It felt really good to get all gussied up with lip gloss and jewelry and shiny sandals, and have three solid hours of uninterrupted adult conversation and not be a parent on the clock for a change. Thank you, Sarah!!!!! The evening ended with a fireworks display over the water, a spectacle that beat the 4th of July hands-down. In my egocentricity, I kept thinking how special it was that they'd shoot off this fantastic show to usher in my birthday.
10 . For the first two and a half days, we did pretty much everything Joel wanted to do. On the third day, he got angry when I told him Dad and I were going to do thus-and-such before he could do this-and-that. He pouted and then said something I had to squelch laughter about. He said, "But Mom, you've already BEEN a kid. You've already HAD your fun." Hmm. Guess at 44 you can kiss good times goodbye. You're washed up and over, all amusements are behind ya.
11. On Wednesday morning, my birthday, my sister Rachel called from Texas. She must've had to work because it was 8:10 a.m. I jumped out of bed to answer my cell phone, which by then had clicked over to voicemail. Oh well. If ya snooze ya lose. I went back to bed for an hour and, when I really got up, Paul and Joel sang the first line of "Happy Birthday" to me. Sarah rolled over on the Murphy bed and said, "oh, yeh, happy birthday." Mm, such enthusiasm, I could hardly contain the well wishes. By noon I'd heard from Steve (who'd been texted a reminder by Sarah) and by 10 PM, Ben texted me an HB wish (also reminded by the girl). My two other sisters, Andrea and Jill, called as well. I think my parents forgot.
12. Thanks to our hubbies, Renee' and I got our now-annual, hour-long, professional massage. This time we returned to a place called Celestial Spa and both agreed it was the.best.massage.ever. The lady who owns it has a Christian symbol on her signage. The therapist, Fatima, who treated me, is of Arabic descent. She asked me about my name. I told her it's of Greek and Hebrew origin. I couldn't help but think "hey, an Arab giving a Jew a massage. Only in America, right?" But I didn't say anything, of course; she literally had the upper hand(s) in the situation.
13. I got the tan I wanted, and never had a painful burn. I've grown wiser over the years. The first day I use a little lotion, the second day more, and the third day I apply Blue Lizard, a super-strong sunscreen the pediatrician recommended when Steve was going to Mexico. I wanted to be able to enjoy the massage completely, and that I did. Sarah didn't listen and Paul told me Joel didn't really need it. They all burned. How old does a woman have to be before people listen to her sage advice?
14. I learned the hard way that it pays to plan a menu down to the spices necessary when on vacation. This year I said, "Ah, we'll just buy food down there. Some shrimp and pasta with spinach, bacon, and onions. Perfect!" Well, it would've been, had we had a little SALT, and PEPPER, and GARLIC at least. How lame. The only reason we ate it was that we were so stinkin' hungry by the time I served it at around 8:30. I also had a senior moment (coming more often nowadays) while cooking. The only baking sheet, per se, was a shallow roasting pan and its metal drip pan. I had a whole pound of bacon to cook (some for dinner, rest for breakfast) so I said to myself, "Great, I'll cook all the bacon at once in the oven. " Normally that's a brilliant plan. But as I said, the kitchen was understocked on proper pannage, which didn't bother me until....um, seven minutes later... the smoke alarm blared. Paul bolted from his perch on the couch and silenced it with a swift wave of a towel. He opened the oven door to observe of my brainless act: bacon grease dripping through the holes of the drip pan onto hot coils. "How many years you been cookin?" he asked. I had to remind him that his wife is one smokin' hot woman, what can he expect? He failed to see the humor as he had to do the towel wave three more times while I, smokin' Mama, wedged a pink flip-flop in the front door to let copious carcinogens escape the condo.
15. On the evening of my birthday, we went out with the whole Grant-Zub entourage. Ate at the Texas Roadhouse and had another long, leisurely evening wining and dining, with the adults on one end, kids on the other. They sang the entire bithday song to me in the parking lot. Lovely memories.
Except for one--on day two, a kid literally put the "poo" in "pool" which meant no swimming the rest of the gloriously hot day. Other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed our R&R in MB, SC.
16. There was an ice cream every day in the adjacent parking lot that played, among other songs, Christmas carols. I found it pleasant, actually, to hear "O Come Let Us Adore Him" next to "Oh My Darling, Clementine" in August.
17. And Joel is now the happy owner of two hermit crabs whose names change daily and for which I have zero affection.