possumcowboy: (Default)
The king-sized bed in this place? It's-a verrah nize (/french knight).

We decided that getting on the beach was more important than a big breakfast, and so we gathered towels and swimsuits, sprayed on sunscreen, and headed toward the three umbrellas and six chairs we've reserved for the week.

Nathan and Clayton immediately upended a bucket of sand and began excavating a complicated moat system. The girls headed for the surf line and began trying to ride waves in, bodysurfing. The waves weren't really big enough, and they needed to work on timing, but they had a great time. I got several good pics that I'll have to get loaded in a separate post.

As the sun got higher in the sky, cheeks and shoulders started to get pink, and we headed back inside to cool off and have lunch. As people got out of swimsuits, they found tons of algae in places where no algae should ever be. It looks like the showers are going to get cleaned every time we come back up from the beach!

For lunch, I made breakfast. I brought only one piece of cookware from home, and it is my large cast-iron skillet. Bacon went in there first. I cut the bacon in half, making shorter pieces which I can turn to get done more evenly. It annoys me to have bacon that's crispy in the middle and basically still raw on the outsides, so this is an easy fix. While the bacon was cooking, I sliced potatoes. Ok, I brought my santoku knife, which is another bit of cookware, but that's it. As thin as I could get them, and then reshape the slices into a potato shape to cut down the middle, and then again to make quarter-disks of potato. When the bacon was done, I poured out most of the grease into a bowl, and put the 'taters in there. They got a good stir, and I diced up some garlic and onion, got those in there, too, and prepped for an omelet station. I had diced ham, green (spring) onions, mushrooms, and colby-jack cheese. The omelet-sized pan available here in the condo is stainless steel. I did the best I could with bacon grease to lube the pan, but still ended up making mostly scrambled eggs. I had to get the pan under hot water and a scrubby sponge after each omelet. Pilsbury cinnamon rolls went in the oven, and we ate as the food came up.

After some more relaxing, we headed down to the pool area, found a place to stash our stuff, and hopped in. After an hour or so in there, we went back down to the beach, where our umbrellas and chairs were waiting for us. Another hour, and back to the condo, around 6.

There were some things we hadn't thought of for yesterday's run to Publix, so we wrote a new list and Macy and I headed to the store. Leah and I had decided that she could get something special for going with me to help me, and when I asked her what she'd like (expecting some sort of food) she said, "the pink raft by the door." Since it was $4, I added it to the cart and we checked out.

Back at the condo, I started making dinner. Diced garlic and put it in a saucepan with a half-stick of butter to warm, then diced chicken breasts and got them in the cast-iron skillet, and trimmed up broccoli crowns and got them in a pot with just enough water to get them to come out looking like steamed rather than boiled. Angel-hair pasta went in another pot once the water boiled. When the garlic looked right, I poured in a pint of half-and-half and brought that up to a simmer, then added the back of six-cheese blend and stirred it in. Sliced whole-grain bread went under the broiler, and once it was just a bit toasty, I rub/grated each piece with a piece of garlic, and then dressed each piece with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil with ground pepper and salt. Everything plated up nicely, and we enjoyed recapping the day and laughing about the silly things that families laugh about.

All four kids are having a great time, I'm having a great time, Leah's having a great time, and we still have several more days of great time ahead! Even with the driving, this is the coolest vacation I can remember since I was little and we drove in my mom's VW van to Hershey, Pennsylvania. I wonder if there's just something magical about taking a VW van full of a family to somewhere that makes it so good? I remember we took the middle seat out of Mom's van and put down sleeping bags, and sat cross-legged on the floor and played Monopoly and cards while my parents took turns driving. On this trip, everyone was strapped in, but they still took turns doing different activities.

Grandmother's flight was canceled, so I'll pick her up in the morning at the little local airport rather than this evening. I think she'll add a nice little something extra to our little band of relaxers and diggers and body-surfers.
possumcowboy: (Default)
Awoke this morning and headed to the hotel lobby for the hot breakfast buffet which was included with the price of the room. Usually it's runny eggs, dry biscuits, filmed-over gravy, stale cereal, watery milk, oily coffee. THIS place had an omelet station run by a woman who seemed to have eight arms. She kept three omelets running in a one-woman assembly line. She'd finish one, plate it, and slide the other two pans to the right, starting a new one on the far left. She just kept moving, smiling, saying good morning to everyone. It was a really nice start to the day! The rest of the buffet had the above-mentioned items, but the eggs were good, the biscuits fresh, the gravy steaming, the cereal crispy, the milk sealed in individual cartons, and the coffee practically sparkled.

Filled up the van at a Costco (so much cheaper!) nearby, and got back on the interstate. I punched up the cruise control and we cruised along happily until we reached Birmingham. Birmingham was backed up like an old truck driver who only eats cheese. We slowly grunted, strained, and rocked back and forth until we finally emerged on the far side, exhausted. Fortunately, there was a Starbucks to save us. I downloaded this week's free song while we were there. Leah needed a beach towel, so we crossed the street to a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The kids and I stayed in the car while Leah's "just be a minute" trip into the store started to stretch into another ice age. Just before we had to start worrying about glaciers scraping Alabama into the Gulf of Mexico, she came out, and we got back on the road.

We picked numbers, and Maddie got to choose where to have lunch. I was whispering "c'mon! Chick-Fil-A!" in my head, but she wanted Subway. So, after a foot-long double-roast beef provolone spinach tomato cucumber pickle salt and pepper olive oil on whole wheat later, we pulled across the parking lot to drive through Dairy Queen (Fairy Queer, we used to call it...) and everyone got a mini Blizzard. Not me, of course, since it's generally considered bad form to go into a diabetic coma while driving a van full of people at highway speeds.

The GPS took us off the Interstate and onto a two-lane highway. Several miles along, and a restroom break was suggested, rather urgently. The first place I found looked like the sort of structure that homeless people refuse to sleep in. That's where we went. I decided that, bladder or not, I wasn't going in. I did my "check-in" on Foursquare (because I'm a nerd like that, and don't deny that you have your own nerd stuff, so there) and the place wasn't even listed! There was a spot called "The middle of effin' nowhere" with the address listed as "near some field". I think that pretty well sums up the sort of place I'm talking about.

This being the second day of six hours of driving, I was impressed with how well the kids got along. They took turns with the wireless headphones, listening to satellite radio or whatever. I got a power inverter so that they were able to plug in laptops and watch movies or play games if they wanted.

We finally arrived at the Waterscape Resort. It's on Okaloosa Island, near Ft. Walton Beach. The building is basically a large U shape, with a waterpark in the middle. The two "arms" of the U reach toward the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. You can float in the Lazy River in clean pool water, or you can go play on the beach. After we unloaded the car, Leah took the kids down to the beach while I drove back a mile or so to a grocery store, to stock up on what we'd need for food (this is a condo with a full kitchen).

Apparently, every resort on this little island rents from Saturday to Saturday. The grocery store was more crowded than...uh...well, it was really really crowded. I stood in the line at the deli counter for (no shit, really) thirty-five minutes to get sandwich meat. The store had whole shelves bare of stuff, from where people had come in today and bought a metric shit-ton of Poptarts or cubic meters of potato or corn chips.

The only things stocked in the condo are salt and pepper. There were two packets of dishwasher soap, a little yellow sponge, cookware and utensils, plates and cups. Everything else needed gettin'. Sandwiches? Meat, yeah, but also mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, bread, cheese. Dishwasher detergent, sand buckets with shovels, sunscreen, extra beach towels, sunglasses for Leah who forgot hers, milk, fruit, yogurt, potatoes, onions, garlic, bacon, eggs, pre-made cookie dough, Pilsbury cinnamon rolls; you get the idea. I had a full cart.

I was hoping to make my homemade alfredo sauce, with chicken and broccoli and angel-hair pasta, but it was 10 local time when I got home. That's 11 home time, and kids were tired. We had a (nearly) midnight sandwich snack dinner, and everyone headed for bed.

Leah and I get the master bedroom. Nathan and Clayton are in an alcove with bunk beds. Maddie and Macy are on the pull-out couch. Grandmother (Leah's mom) will be in the other bedroom when she arrives tomorrow night.

Each kid will get the chance to choose what I'll make for a meal this week. Publix (the grocery store) is walking distance if you're walking for exercise, but probably not if you're bringing groceries back, so that's really close. As soon as I got back here, we started noticing things we'd forgotten to put on the list before, so there's at least one more trip there in store for me.

My wife is breathing in an even, slightly snor-ish fashion. The sound is making my eyes heavy.

Good night.
possumcowboy: (Default)
I'm typing (as is often the case) from the floor of my bedroom. As is also often the case, Mr. Clydiecat (Clyde, the cat) is assisting. By "assisting" I mean "resting his chin on top of my left hand so that it's more difficult to type". Still, during the daylight hours, he's more likely to try eat the hand, so at least I get to have some time with him when he's calm and wants to be on a lap. He also has a tendency to want to eviscerate the world, so this is actually nice.

A day, it has been. Nathan left yesterday afternoon to go visit grandparents out of town, so Leah and I had a weekend to "have a weekend". Those of you with children understand completely. Those of you without, simply cannot. This morning, we got up early, went to the gym, and then Starbucks. We came home, changed clothes, and I drove Leah to school at University of Indianapolis, where we had lunch in the Schwitzer Student Center. Leah went to class while I got out the laptop to engage in some much-needed wasting of time. It isn't often that you get to be fanboi to your own family. I should note that Clyde has apparently been under the Christmas tree to get a drink, as there is a stiff patch of fur on his left eyebrow that smells like evergreen sap. As we were getting ready to leave, Nathan's grandfather called and mentioned that the weather was looking ominous, according to the Weather Channel, and after some discussion, we headed toward Kentucky and Nathan, rather than Carmel, and a movie. We met at Exit 9 and headed back north. Retrograde Mercury, anyone?

Nathan's grandparents had given him some cash for Christmas, and after some discussion, he had decided what he wanted, and we surprised him by going straight to The Game Preserve instead of going straight to dinner and Game Preserving another day. He bought the Beginner's Dungeons and Dragons kit, and a set of "urban camouflage" dice. He's so excited to play the game that he can barely contain himself. I've promised that I'll serve as Dungeon Master if he wants to bring friends over. In the morning, at an hour FAR earlier than I'm sure I'll like, I've agreed to help him start rolling up some characters, and see if we can start a game between the two of us.

School is hard, right now. I have several kids whose parents I will need to meet with soon, to discuss possible retention. For whatever reason, these kids just haven't put forward the effort needed. I've said from the beginning, that if a kid is actually trying, I'll work with the grades. I can't do anything for someone who won't even put forth the effort. We can all see the dog peeing on their legs, but they still insist that it's raining.

The Clydiecat has decided to curl up next to the laptop, and has stopped "helping" me type. It's nice to have him here. He and his sister, Bonnie, were strays that I ended up adopting, and they've done a lot to keep me sane over the last two years. There's something about having cats in the house that makes it more of a home to me. I like dogs, and all, but I haven't yet had a relationship with one that makes me feel as warm inside as I do with my cats. I suppose there are "dog people" who feel exactly the same way.

And, with that, I think I'm ready to head back to bed. Leah is making soft sleeping sounds, and even Clyde has started little purring cat snores, both of which are making my eyelids heavy.

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