We arrived in Pensacola on a Tuesday Morning, tired, hungry and slightly overwhelmed by the humid air outside the airport, but rejoicing in the even warmer welcome of my daughter and her three children. I think I was unprepared for the wave of emotions that hit me when I saw at last this group of excited children waiting for us to clear the gate and scoop them into our arms. What a perfect moment, except for not being able to hug them ALL AT ONE TIME. LOL. Wish someone could have been snapping pictures of that moment but it's burned into my memory.
We hung out at the house, getting acquainted with Jake the Dog, the layout of their home and back yard and soaking up hugs and giggles from the kids. Finally when we could no longer coherently function we tore ourselves away so we could go to the motel, check in, nap and refresh. We were back at Carissa's for dinner and more play time.
|Grandpa playing in the playhouse with KJ and Faith|
|hanging out with Grandpa|
Thursday was a long, even tedious, day. With FIVE rambunctious kids bouncing off the walls in the little house, with POURING RAIN and THUNDER AND LIGHTENING going on outside there was little choice about what we did. Faith and Grandma had girly-girl time. Make overs and Manicures.
The younger boys showed off their wrestling skills to Grandpa and we all learned who was ticklish and who could squeal the loudest! Then we ended the day by braving the threatening skies and drove downtown to watch the Fiesta of Five Flags Parade. more info here
Thursday evening when we got back to our motel, hubby decreed that the next day be a day for the two of us so we plotted a course and spent Friday driving to Louisiana and back. In the HARDEST RAIN EVER. What an adventure! We made it to Slidell LA. (if the rain hadn't been so bad and slowed down out travel we would have made New Orleans but- oh well) We dined on Gumbo and Jambalaya. YUM!
Saturday was another WET day. In fact the 2nd wettest day on record for Pensacola. You can read about it here. We sat on the covered stoop of the house and watched the river run down the street in front of the houses. We shuddered over loud thunderous claps from the sky and winced when lightening bolts jagged through the sky. At one point a bolt scissored its way into the driveway of a house right across the street, sending it's occupants who were also holed up on their own front stoop, racing into their house!
I have to say a word about these particular neighbors. It seems to be widely understood that the occupants of this home are of the shady persuasion. We saw cars coming and going all hours of the day and night. We witnessed cars pull up, either to allow a passenger to run into the house and return moments later and scurry away, or wait in the car while someone from the house came out, something passed through the window and then again, quickly leave. Disturbing to watch. Disturbing to know how close this activity is to my grandkids!! the kids know they are not to associate with those neighbors but it's even more disturbing that the cops haven't shut down these activities. Apparently it is rumored that the cops know but.... well, that's all I will say about that!
Sunday morning we planned to attend church and we had high hopes for the kids to go with us. When she first moved back to Florida my daughter sought out a church and had attended sporadically. We wanted to attend worship at this church so we could experience what she had and perhaps encourage her to start attending again. But with all the rain (13 inches in some places in Pensacola!!!) there was flooding and we learned that the highway out to this church was closed and later learned that the church campus had experienced flooding as well. We also learned that this church has several campuses and there was one close to our motel. We went there, sans kids. We had a great worship time, enjoyed the pastors message very much and came away refreshed. (and soaked--- running from car to church to car again, lol) Good thing the temps remained in the 80's. You get soaked but you don't really mind it as you aren't cold!
Sunday afternoon had been reserved for visiting our former son-in-law. Daniel will always be a part of our family despite the difficulties between he and my daughter. We may not like the things that took place in their marriage and subsequent separation and divorce but he will always be the father of my grandkids and we want to maintain a good relationship with him. He lives right next door to his parents and we have met them before and knew they wished to welcome us to their home for some old fashioned southern hospitality. I told Bruce they would almost certainly feed us.... and feed us they did!! Oh my! Holy Fried Food Batman!!
it was also here that I experienced the Fire Ant experience. Uggh.
We finished the day at Carissa and James. We made plans to attend the Naval Aviation Museum the next day. it is the LARGEST naval museum in the WORLD!! Impressive!
I really admire how hard my daughter works to keep 5 kids in line when they go out. She gives Zac plenty of leeway as he is older and capable of wandering on his own to some extent. But the other 4 are expected to line up and follow her when ever they go to the store or other public places. Like a mama duck and her ducklings. They may not keep a perfect straight line but they know not to run ahead of her.
The museum was really awesome! We also got to ride in a flight simulator "flying with the Blue Angels" which was really fun! When the 4 younger ones had reached their limit C headed home with them and Grandpa and Grandma took Zac with us for lunch out. At Zac's request we headed to a Waffle House. (they are found on just about every block in the south! you can't find a Starbucks to save your life but there is always a Waffle House and gallons and gallons of Sweet Tea!)
Lunch with Zac was fun. Getting him alone gave him time to open up and when he wants to talk, he can TALK. And the things he knows! We were both impressed with the knowledge he has about certain things. He is a great kid and I look forward to future visits with him!!
Tuesday Morning came around again. A full week had passed. Only a few precious days left and the rain had hampered many of our plans. But Tuesday came with dry clear skies and we jumped on it. We had hoped to ALL go and watch the FREE Airshow put on each week by the famous flying Blue Angels but it starts early and a text from C clued us in that she was having such trouble getting the kids up that it ended up being just Bruce and I going. WOW what a great show!
After the airshow we met up with C and the kids, loaded up a picnic lunch and headed to Perdido Kids Park. What a fun place. I had seen lots of pictures from C's previous trips with the kids so it was really cool to see it in person. From there we drove out to Perdido Beach, located in Perdido Keys which is right on the Florida/Alabama border. BEAUTIFUL BEACHES!! Warm ocean. Big Waves! FUN FUN FUN!!!
Wed. our last full day.... Bruce and I took the morning to go and explore historic downtown Pensacola. We loved seeing the old southern mansion style homes and would have probably loved to take the tour but time was short. We settled for gelato and lots of pictures!
We learned that Fort Pickens, which had been flooded, was re-opened so we met up with C and the kids and headed out to explore the fort. Picnic snacks, hot humid but breezy. After a few hours of exploration, a couple of melt downs from over stimulated children, we headed to Pensacola Beach-- in search of the infamous iconic Beach Ball. I first saw this ball when I was 16 and on a trip with my parents. I really wanted Bruce to see it. LOL
Of course you can't visit the beach without going in the water but we hadn't fully planned a beach day so it was 'wading only' rules which of course were quickly ignored!! HA. I got a bad sunburn on my exposed neckline. And the pink mardi gras beads I wore deposited some color on my neck making it even pinker!
That evening it was Just Adults Time. But first we had to say good bye to James's boys as they had to go back to their moms. How quickly we grew to love these 2 little guys during our week together. Saying good bye was hard and I could see even Grandpa fighting tears as we hugged and kissed them good bye. Then we dropped C's 3 at their daddy's for the evening and took C & J for dinner.
McGuires Irish Pub was a fun experience! I ordered the Traditional Lamb Stew and threw caution to the wind and drank thirstily the good Irish Brewed-onsite- beer! I surprised C with an early birthday present which I stumbled upon in the Pub's gift shop. I love bracelets and I love the Irish Blessing so finding this pretty silver bangle with the words engraved in it seemed a fitting gift for my girl.
We ended this day with Kris and Faith coming back to the motel for a sleepover. Crazy fun. I got to tell my version of the best love story ever: how God created the world and everything in it, how Adam and Eve sinned and how finally Jesus came to save us. I sang bedtime songs, after Grandpa terrorized them with spooky stories, lol. It was a great way to wind down the vacation.