I had an absolutely FaBuLoUs time hanging out with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew over our long 4th of July holiday! I traveled to their house last Wednesday after work, learned that there is a huge difference between "street" and "avenue" in google maps (my brother and his family recently moved...who would have guessed there'd be an 1801 4th ave NE and an 1801 4th st NE...I got LosT!), and met Roscoe the pig (whose tenure with my kin unfortunately ended on Sunday when he was returned to the farm).
Thursday I took the kids to DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg, AL and we had a great time! While we were eating breakfast, dear nephew (DNP) asked what we (his mom and I) were talking about doing as we discussed the day's itinerary. I told him, in a dramatic, Brendan-Fraser voice, "We're going on a journey to THE CENTER OF THE EARTH!!" Skepticism writ large on his little face, DNP's brow furrowed and he asked, "Under this house or somewhere else?" His mom and I cracked up and he got quite angry about that :)
It had been so long since I'd visited that fine establishment...I had no idea it had grown so big! It used to be that you went there to tour the cave, period, but now you tour the cave and they have a not-little amusement park. We panned for gemstones, the kids rode the go-karts (which you have to pedal), the bathtub racers (these little electric gizmos even had little spigots and went FaSt!), a spiny-tilty thing that they had to turn themselves while an attendant tilted it, and we went through their giant maze. The maze - I had just the first blush of misgivings as the attendant unlocked the gate and the two youngest of my group (my 7 year old nephew and a friend, 10 years old) shot off into the maze instantly. As they raced away and I could hear them no more, my sense of kid preservation belatedly kicked in. Where did they go? What if they got too hot and got sick? What if they called for me and I couldn't find them? What if someone tried to grab them? Now I'm tearing through the maze, bumping into walls and picking up splinters in my haste. It was fine though, we all found each other in the end and I vowed to myself never to do that again.
I really thought they had a great idea with all these human powered rides. It was probably less expensive than automated rides and I bet the stuff they have at larger parks and fairs requires more certifications and such. The kids were tired and sweaty when we piled back into the car to head home.
Friday was a hangout sort of day. Dear brother (DB) had invited family over for the 4th so we played and talked and ate all day. My original plans were for DB and SIL to have a grown-up vacation for a few days but due to some problems with the new house, they stayed in town. I was going to take the kids to T's house for BBQ and swimming, but it just didn't work out. Our company didn't leave until after 8pm and I was too tired to make the hour long trip into town that late in the evening.
Saturday we made the excursion to the Montgomery Zoo and had another fabulous day! We drove there through the rain, had no rain for the 3-4 hours we toured some animals of the world, then left when it started clouding up again. There were several severe thunderstorm warnings on the radio as we left town so we obviously departed just in time.
Sunday was another hangout day. Their newly acquired potbellied pig was not assimilating into the family as expected so we returned him to farm from whence he came and I helped DB scrub all the pig poop out of the garage. I think the poopy water from my shoes must have gotten in the car because I still get a whiff of it every now and then but I can't tell if it is my imagination or not. The little guy was not happy so I believe he will be much better off in a more farm-like environment. I left late in the afternoon and sniffled all the way home. I REALLY wasn't ready to leave them and I hope to spend more time with them in the future. I'll be at the beach with them week after next so I'm really looking forward to that.
...more to follow...