Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Visits to Cherish

         "Family and friends are hidden treasures. Seek them and enjoy their riches."  Wanda Hope Carter

Precious, golden days of fun, sun and family visits.
So many moments to treasure and
Not enough cell phones to capture it all.

Jodi and I laid out the plans for her 3 week summer stay in Indiana .  I would meet her in Orlando where her family was hanging out on a work/vacation trip, hook up with them for a couple of days and then fly her and the grandson band of brothers back with me to Indiana for a hometown good time. My lowest fare flight landed me at Sanford Orlando airport, about an hour away from anywhere magic might be happening.  The rented vehicle they drove to Orlando could only be driven by Dad who was tied up in meetings all day, and taxi fares from Sanford to their hotel were about as much as my flight ticket. I thought I had found a ride with a shuttle company, but since I hadn't made reservations earlier, they had no room for me.  I stared at the Uber app on my phone. Was I brave enough to use it on my own? I fingered a few phone calls and texts to Josh and Kira who have used the service often; I was coached and coaxed to give it a try.  I entered my information. A driver immediately responded and I could follow his progress towards me on the app. Within minutes my phone rang and the Panamanian driver was letting me know he had arrived. I stepped outside to curbside. He talked me to his vehicle via the cell phone at my ear. Still nervous about entrusting myself to a complete stranger,  I briefly paled at the split-second decision I now needed to make--do I sit in the front or the back?? I reached for the back door handle, slid in and heard the driver greet me by name. Whoa! What a world of conveniences and connections! The ride was pleasant with  engaging conversation comparing families and interests. The price was nice with Kira's first-time-rider promotion code, and I was delivered to the hotel where family awaited me.

The hotel room was the size of a studio apartment;  amenities included two outside swimming pools, several hot tubs, a splash pad and playground. Ian, Dominic and Noah enjoyed the water, taking rest times poolside, as needed.
Gaming at rest time

Watching the water

Noah zonked out!

After a couple of days there we said goodby to Dad and headed for Indiana. Nana and Mom had hands full pulling luggage, a stroller and clasping on to little shoulders, elbows or whatever extremities were within our reach. We switched planes in Detroit, almost leaving Nana and Dominic at the top of the escalator, with Nana trying to figure out how to maneuver luggage and child, with no free hands to steady her step onto the moving stairs. We managed to board the plane  with our baggage and wits collected and arrived in South Bend where we were warmly received by Papa at the airport, and with his welcome sign and gifts on the kitchen counter when we walked into the house. Thank you, Papa, for candy treats and toys, and flowers and chocolates for the ladies!

Our normally quiet quarters were overrun with busy bodies and boisterous voices. Dominic developed some fast rapid slide down the stairs that sounded like an accident happening, while Noah learned to back down the stairs with knees and hands. With 3 stories in the house counting the basement this was a necessary skill to develop.

I should have kept a diary of our days events, because now the memories are like a tangled balloon bouquet, each ribbon leading to a date and time, but hard to separate for any retelling of an orderly account. I'd rely on the photos I took, but too many events went unrecorded as I find it hard to break the spell of living into and with the moment in order to step back and snap a picture. Funny expressions or unexpected cuteness are escape artists when trying to preserve them for the photo gallery!

 So here's what I got.  Our first outing was to the Ft. Wayne Zoo with the Indiana cousins. Dan and Kris went, too. The zoo has lots to offer.  I was impressed with its size and variety of animals. We packed lunches which we ate on the grounds before we left for home.  It was a fun day for all.

Dominic, Rebecca, Aubrey, Shawn, Jodi holding Noah, and Ian

Another morning Jodi, the boys and I, trekked through Middlebury Cheese Factory sampling all the way and then enjoyed the 3rd floor kid attractions in the Davis Mercantile in Shipshewana-a big carousel, an awesome toy store and the Candy Store.Of course, you can't not stop at Rise 'n Roll when it's along your way.  The apple fritter and strawberry-frosted donut we found there made a nice topper to the light lunch we packed and ate in the park in Middlebury.
Pooh and Tigger outside the toy store

The Candy Store
Parks are child care takers best friends. Swinging seems to never grow old and playground equipment is great for tiring out energetic bodies.  Shanklin Park was visited more than once and how convenient to have a small park just one house over in our subdivision.

The Carousel

Noah chills himself to sleep at the park

 After being introduced to Crouqet (who remembers that oldie?), Ian begged any adult to play with him, often. 

Other games of choice throughout  the visit were Uno, and Rummicub for the adults after the kids were in bed.

We structured the days with an outing in the morning and after lunch movies/naps for the boys so Mom and Nana could have some down time.

Jodi made some delicious meals for us. We also visited favorite eateries like Venturi, South Side and The Chief.  Trying The Chief's flavor of the week- now there's a habit you might want to take up!  

Another day we traveled to Michigan to see cousins,  Janet, Jack and Fin. I'm so glad we could get together.

Austin, Ashley and Rowan joined us for the July 4th weekend. There was lots of good visiting and hanging out together here.  Several outings to do were mentioned, but due to short attention spans and needs for naps, our plans stayed low-key and local.  We managed to breakfast at Lux, visit the farmer's market, and walk the path from the dam to Shanklin. Even taking in the town fireworks show seemed daunting with 1 year olds and daylight savings time pushing the dark-enough-to-view- them-time back to 10 pm. A few sparklers and pop-its would suffice for this year's patriotic commemoration.

Rowan and Noah weren't the only show-offs
Dominic playing peek-a-boo with Rowan

Bathing beauties
The antics of Noah and Rowan were non--stop

Swing lectures & silliness

The last Sat. of Jodi's visit, we headed to South Bend. It wasn't the Elkhart County Fair, but the St. Joe Fair would do for a couple of rides. Our days together were numbered and bitter sweet emotions began to invade my mood. It would be hard to have this brood far away and out of sight; it would be nice to have the house quiet and to ourselves again. If only our times together weren't so far between.

Jodi, the boys and I left together on the same flight to Atlanta; she flew on to Pensacola and I to Tulsa.  I had a long enough lay over that I could walk them to their gate and still have plenty of time to catch my next flight. Due to an initial delay in South Bend, we bounded out of the plane in Atlanta and sprinted to the Pensacola flight. Rushing a 5 year old, riding the tram and keeping upright and jostling a stroller with baby in arms should earn Jodi and I super mom and nana awards. What a whirlwind departure!

We loved your visit Jodi! You are a delight to be with and you did a good job being mommy without daddy.  Watching you reminds me of all the details I've forgotten of being a mom to young kids. What a privilege and how fast the years pass.  You do it well.

We love you Ian, Dominic and Noah! May you carry many fond memories of your vacation with us in Indiana.  We will make the most of technology for staying in touch while we're apart. And we pray you will keep growing into the men of God you are called to be. 

About that trip to Tulsa?  Find out in the next post coming very soon!

Another item to push!

First time rider

Who needs toys?
Facetiming Dad

Pancake chefs

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