Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Neighbors

Every year since we moved to our little cul-de-sac, we have had a block party. This is how we became good friends with several of our neighbors. 
 The party is always on a Sunday in August and starts at noon. We put out tents to cover our food and set up games for us and the kids.
Last year is the first year I actually took pictures at our block party and looking back on it, everyone seems so much younger.
 This is Mark & Jaque. They are to our immediate left and they are also the neighbors who stuck the for sale sign in our yard while we were away on vacation. Don't let their innocent/sweet smiles fool you. Every few weeks, we have "Happy Hour" with these neighbors and...
 Dave & Jodie. (the other happy hour neighbors).  Dave & Jodie were gone on vacation the same week that we were, and also had a for sale sign in their yard thanks to the 
 The  Neighbors a few houses down, Greg & Christie have a son named Zach who is a few years older than Dawson. They play on the trampoline at George & Jane's house, the neighbors to our immediate right. 
 This is Jane on the right who has the trampoline. Jess is the neighbor who owns the Jeep you see in the background. She and her husband Eric have Gabe who is six months older than Evan but we don't see them that often, they are busy. But they love corn hole!
Christie's husband Greg, and Jess's husband Eric. I actually kicked both butts this year at corn hole. Not that I want to brag. Yes, I want to brag.
 You can see my neighbor Carol holding her granddaughter Katelyn. Katelyn is only 2 weeks younger than Evan. A marriage has not been arranged at this point. Carol and I try to get together at least once a week -she will usually come to my house for coffee, or we will go shopping at Goodwill or the Arc. I love her to pieces. 
 I'm throwing this picture in because my hair doesn't look this way any more.
 Katelyn and Evan get along when they're not fighting.
 The kids all play on the slip n slide and us parents rarely see the kids until the day is finally over and we've all cleaned up and gone inside. Not that we complain.
 Sometimes Jason thinks he's king of corn hole, but we really know that I am. 
 I would like to take the time to mention that this neighborly love is a night and day difference from the neighborhood we lived in back in Indiana. One sold steak from a truck. Another one flashed a strobe light in his window at all hours of the day in order to perturb another neighbor he didn't like. Another neighbor rode his 4-wheeler in our back yard right outside of Dawson's room at 2:00 in the morning while drunk and when Jason went outside to tell him that it was not okay to be doing that, the guy was filming himself and said "hey, dude, you'll be on youtube". That is dysfunction people. 
As a result of the friendships we've made with some of our neighbors, we have actually gone places with them. GASP! 
But before I can get to that, I have to show you this picture of Evan. I recently found Dawson's old plastic potty training underwear...
 Mark and Jaque are Catholic and they invited us and Dave and Jodie to a wine tasting they were having at their church carnival. 
 I have never, ever been to a wine tasting before and I typically despise the taste of wine, as long as it's red or white and smells like wet dog.
But Jason and I went along anyway, because we enjoy these neighbors.
 Dave and Jodie are wine connoisseurs. They swish and savor and all that crap when they drink wine. So they had quite the experience when they discovered that I'm basically anti-wine and there was a lot of spitting involved on my part. As you can see at the bottom of this picture, Jason and I bought a fruit and cheese plate to go along with our wine, so that people would assume we are fancy and not redneck.
 I made Jodie take the picture again because usually by picture number 54 I look less dorky.
 Dawson was with Dave & Jodie's daughter Brooke. They got a wrist band that allowed them unlimited access to all the rides at the carnival. Poor Evan was stuck with us. 
 But we took him to ride a few things.

 Dawson has no fear and will most likely grow up and live at Cedar Point.
As our wine tasting/carnival riding day came to a close, I did find myself enjoying the taste of one wine (which I found out during the course of the taste that I was not supposed to describe the wines I tasted with words like "crap" or "eww!" but rather, I should simply put a smiley face :) or a frown :(. One particular wine was called something or other "Moscato" and was sweet as fruit juice. So it passed.
I'm thankful for friendly neighbors.
And for Moscato.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pier 60: A Vacation

The days leading up to our vacation were rather tumultuous. Just a few days prior to leaving, Jason was riding his bike on the path near our house and felt a bug go in his eye. His eye bothered him for a day or so and he felt pressure on that side of his face. After hearing him whine complain about it long enough, I firmly commanded that he go to the doctor to get it checked out. Men, I implore you, SEE THE DOCTOR.
He made an eye appointment and the optometrist referred him to to an Ophthalmologist stating that his optic nerve was elevated.
There's all manner of diagnosis on the internet for optic nerve. I know, because I searched.
He was able to get into an Ophthalmologist (after many phone calls) a day later and she had him get an emergency MRI. As it turns out, she believed Jason had a brain tumor causing the optic nerve to be elevated (which is what was causing the pressure). 
This brought about much dismay and discussions about someone he had recently heard of having a brain tumor and had to learn to eat, walk and do normal daily activity all over again. We were fearful. 
I went with Jason to his MRI appointment and upon arriving, I locked myself in the lobby restroom, fell on my knees before God and asked for help.
Help He did.
Jason was called by the Opthamologist soon after his appointment saying that scan was clear, there was no tumor. Relief.. but that meant we needed more answers. 
As it turns out, Jason has permanent damage to his optic nerve and his vision has been effected. After a visit with the primary care physician he discovered that this problem had been caused by high blood pressure. ... And here we had thought he had a bug in his eye.
He has been put on medication and the doctor said the pressure on his eye should get better with time, but we are waiting to hear about the vision factor. Jason is really bothered that he can't see correctly from that eye but he deals with it.
A few days passed... and... it was time to leave for vacation.
It was the day we were to leave and we were stuck in the airport. We were informed that our plane had a mechanical problem, there were no mechanics on site and the part was not available-they would have to fly it in on a flight coming from Dallas.
I went up to the flight attendant and asked her if I could have a look at the plane and she said no.
Jason got on the phone and several hours later we we were on our way to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, -we had to switch airlines, go through security all over again and pay a $50 baggage fee. I should charge baggage fees when people ask me for advice. This new flight, consequently, was in the middle of a rare thunderstorm which put our flight on a holding pattern over.the.ocean. Please put me on a holding patter anywhere but over the ocean. I don't want to die in the ocean and be eaten by a shark and drown. (I also don't want to die naked, which has been discussed in a previous post when Evan took pictures of me in the shower).  I was beginning to feel a bit forlorn about the pattern evolving around our vacation but I tried to hide it by snacking profusely.
We landed safely that evening while it was still raining, got in our rental car and headed to the condo.
I was certain we were on the highway crossing the ocean and I was excited about it:
 I've named that photo "Fuzzy Ocean at Night". It's for sale.
I saw Palm Trees! And tail lights.
 My excitement was catching on:
 The condo was just beautiful. Newly renovated, because they know I like stainless steel. I definitely dislike 24 carat gold and platinum appliances.
Look! A tiny crack in the blinds just waiting for me to come to the balcony and behold our view of the beach! 
So I did.  Simply glorious.
 We landed so late that Evan fell right asleep. May I remind everyone that this little bundle of cuteness crawls in my bed at 3 a.m. on many nights and sleeps
 I could hardly wait until morning, but morning came. My finger got in the way.
Ahhh. Vacation.
I'm quoting myself from my FB status. 
I love the sound of the ocean.
A day into vacation I received a text from my mischievous neighbor:
A short walk to the beach was in short order.
Or the pool. The boys found a little lizard on the pink thing that Evan is floating on.
You think I'm getting a closeup of the lizard but my intent is to show the prune status of his hand.

We bought boogie-boards and enjoyed having our feet and legs torn to shreds by the broken shells in the sand as we got tossed about by the waves.
We showed no partiality between beach and pool, in case you were concerned.
Of course when we saw the Coast Guard flying over several times, I was certain death by shark was imminent. But the condo managers assured me that they have a training school nearby. 
This is the view on the opposite side of our condo. The bay. Which is where we could swim with manatees if we so chose. 
I'm throwing this in for good measure and because I'm sporadic. This was hanging in the shower and I thought it was funny.
One of the best parts about vacationing at the beach? Evan takes naps.
We ate a little place called The Pub" that had birds begging for food by cawing incessantly so I fed them, toppins a bag.
I love sunsets on the beach. When I'm there to enjoy them.
On the third day, there was morning.
And it was the day we took the boys to the Florida Aquarium.
I believe it's important to note that on our way, I discovered that Tampa has found ME. And they were encouraging others to find me!
Dear sisters, yes, I plan to print this off, and send it to you for Christmas ornaments this year.
Back to the aquarium...
 We went back to the beach and Jason turned Dawson into a Manta Ray:
 And later we drove to Clearwater (because we felt too lazy to walk the 6 miles down the beach) to a seafood restaurant called Frenchy's where I enjoyed snow crab legs and Jason got a lobster roll.

I'm going against protocol here to allow this picture to show up on my blog:
I got to have my favorite seafood, snow crab legs with drawn butter. A little photo bomber lurked nearby.
 We went for a sunset stroll down the beach which was across from the restaurant and I found Pier 60. Which at first I thought was a fraud because the 0 was missing.
 We briefly discussed the possibility of going on this pirate sunset cruise but truth be told, the aquarium wore me out and thereby destroyed my mood for swashbuckling.
Evan especially liked the sand at Clearwater, but we found out that the sand is smuggled (use of the term is only with creative license) in. 

We came back to this beach later in the week to have dinner with Jason's cousin Chad who lives in Tampa. Can you believe we didn't get a picture? I mean, I had cute hair that night so I'm rather destroyed by the fact.
Days 4 & 5 were spent at the beach and the pool. Evan discovered his life vest would keep him afloat if he ventured off the stairs and decided he could swim.
On the final day, we went to Honeymoon Island State Park
 There were was a dad with his 2 boys catching fish with a net. I noticed that they were foreign so I asked where they were from. The dad gave me a look and said "We're from here. We just speak a different language." 
Even though that little discombobulation occurred, he was still kind enough to give some fish to Dawson to put in our bucket.
Fortunately for us, a portion of Honeymoon Island was under construction.
 Evan wanted to stay forever.
 I had scoured every beach I came in contact with the entire week for a Sand dollar which managed to evade me. But Dawson found Harry the Hermit Crab. 
 We called it a day a day and headed back to our beach to end our day.
Jason stepped on a Stingray so I swore to myself I would not allow such tomfoolery to happen to me and within about 5 minutes I stepped on one and screamed so loud and so long that the people on the beach assumed I was being attacked by a shark. The Stingrays didn't sting us. Their slimy little bodies just glide right under your foot.
A few minutes later, Jason found a starfish and Dawson wanted to take it home.
 Evan spent most of his time digging in the sand with his bozeus.
 As the evening got cooler and came to an end, I persuaded Dawson to help me in my mission to find a sand dollar. I never found one. Now don't you feel so sad?
 In the meantime, Dawson and I had created a sand volcano which Evan climbed.
 I gave up on the sand dollar and started searching for money and diamond rings.
These guys followed us around. Probably because I called "here kitty kitty" and tried catching one.
 Finally, our beautiful vacation came to an end.
Will someone mail me a sand dollar?