Sunday, October 22, 2006

Our mini-vacation


This is huge. Usually, even when he's doing something on his own, I have to be there to check out what's he's doing every 90 seconds or he comes over to show me.

We had been letting him choose where to eat on Friday nights if he got green for behavior all week in class. A couple of months ago (extremely tired of McDs and Burger King - the only places in town with play areas), I offered an alternative. He could still pick where to eat, or he could have five dollars. He loves it.

So yesterday, $12 in hand (we hadn't gone shopping for awhile, and I actually convinced him to save his last $2 from a couple weeks ago instead of buying some cheap little thing ), we went to Walmart.

I steered him to the art stuff aisle rather than toys and he found one of those fuzzy picture with markers things (dinosaurs) for $3.99 and a huge Cars coloring book for $5.82. He was happy. I was happy. Kaden was sleepy. This morning, I woke up at 7 (!!) to find him sitting at the kitchen table, happily coloring his dinosaurs. I'm in mommy heaven. He's now working on one of the Cars pictures.

Kaden's been eating up a storm lately. Still not at all interested in cereal. We've been adding it to his bottle at night just to give him some more substance (and in hopes of him sleeping a little longer - not sure if it's working or not). I don't want to put it in all of them, 'cause his poo is already a bit on the hard side. Not really HARD, but hard enough. I wonder if he's teething early - he's been gumming one of his fingers for weeks now... His left hand pointer finger. It's cute.

Kaden has also figured out how to pull on the toy on his bouncer-chair thing to make music. Justin has been keeping count all morning. Kaden is up to ten times.

So, last weekend...

We left Saturday morning. The plan was to hit the road by 8, but that didn't happen. Still, we left by 9, I think. We went straight to the South Carolina Aquarium. Stopped at Wendy's on the way. Did you know they have vanilla frostys now? I'd tell you how they are, but they didn't have any when we were there. Hmph.

Anyway, we get to the aquarium easily enough and find a pretty close parking spot in a parking garage right next to it. I had Kaden in a Snuggly, facing out. They had a military discount for the tickets ($2 off each) and I ended up getting Justin in for free using some grocery reward card thing. They also had free 'rentals' of umbrella strollers, so we took one. Glad we did, as Kaden wasn't really enjoying the Snuggly much.

We got inside and Justin wanted to see it all at the same time. Off we went. About 45 minutes later, we ran out of stuff to see. It's pretty small. Then again, I'm totally spoiled, growing up right next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (if you've seen Star Trek IV, the one with the whales, then you've seen that aquarium - but it's not really big enough to put whales in the center tank - not even close ). The SC Aquarium is about an eighth of the size. We went around again, much slower this time. They had a little show for their anteater. That was cool. She was kinda cute, in an anteater way. And her tongue is amazing! About an hour later, they had another show in the big tank, with a diver spot feeding some of the fish and answering questions from the audience. Kaden needed a bottle by then, so it worked out great. I tried to get some pictures of fish in that tank, but it's hard to get the flash to not bounce off the acrylic.

When that was over, we left to find our hotel. I spent over an hour that morning trying to find a decent priced room, fairly close to town, with an indoor pool. Finally found one. However, once we got there and tried out the pool, it was FREEZING!! I wanted to swim around with Kaden, but there was no way I was getting in it. Justin wanted nothing to do with it either. So instead, we headed out to find something to eat, then went to a fun park kinda thing. I don't remember where we ate...

The park thing had mini-golf, a few amusement park type rides, and a go-cart track. Oh, plus some batting cages, a thousand video games, and gross pizza. The tickets were expensive!! $5.50 each, or four for $20. We got the four package - perfect for each of us to get 18 holes of mini-golf, plus one for Justin to go on the go-carts (they had small ones for 4-10 year olds; the bigger ones were only for people with drivers licenses).

Oh, I forgot - on the way, we stopped at Walmart to get a stroller. I didn't want a big expensive bulky one we'd never use again, so I told Darrell to get an umbrella stroller. ("What's an umbrella stroller?" "Like we borrowed today at the aquarium." "Oh, okay." Silly boy. ) I was hoping to get one with extras - but at least wanted one that would recline. He found the perfect one! Well, really the only one they had, but it was perfect. For $20, it reclines (a little, but enough), has a below-seat bin, a canopy, and a (tiny, just big enough for a cell phone and sippy cup) parent's bin. It folds up more like a bigger stroller, but is small enough that it folds down to just about nothing. For $20!

(Side note: Cammi is sunning in a sun-spot next to my chair. Ahhhh, warm bliss... )

Oh! I remember where we ate - a mexican restaurant. I LOVE mexican food, but just haven't found a good place around here. Anyway, it was GOOD. I love red enchilada sauce. And cheese. Lots of cheese.

Ok, so we get our golf balls and clubs and hit the course. It was so much fun. The music was loud enough that Justin could make as much noise as he wanted without disturbing anyone. And he did. He did pretty well, considering he had no idea what he was doing, couldn't remember how to hold the club (or even which way to stand) and hardly aimed. In fact, a few holes he even did well enough to score better than us! Go kid! Hahahah.

That took probably an hour, maybe longer. Darrell and I took turns tucking the blankets in around Kaden. It was so cold outside! (Ok, so it was probably only low 50s, but when you're used to mid 70s, that's cold! )

After that, we headed off to find the kids go-cart thing. Turns out it's the same one as the adults. We waited our turn (only took about five minutes, they weren't very busy). The guy working there got out a little car, strapped Justin in, and off he went. He was out there all by himself. I'm glad they don't allow the kids and adults to go at the same time. The adults were all about running into each other. Justin had SO much fun!!! He only hit the side once. Not bad, considering it was really his first time ever. He was on a high from that the rest of the night.

Darrell was sitting on a bench feeding Kaden, so he didn't see it. I got a video of it (see below). He was so cute out there.

After that, we called it a night. Packed it all up and we went back to the hotel. We brought K's pack-n-play, J slept on the couch with his sleeping bag, and Darrell and I slept on the queen bed.

The next morning, we packed everything into my car and we went to the aircraft carrier at Patriot's Point. - after stopping at an IHOP. The food was good, but it was a new store and it showed. We were charged for my water, Darrell's omelet didn't have half the fillings it was supposed to, and I got charged for two biscuits when I only got one. Now, any ONE of those things wouldn't have bothered me much, but three? So I went up to a manager and explained what happened. I made sure to tell her the service wasn't a problem (didn't want to get our waitress in trouble). Got a whopping three bucks taken off. But whatever. We were full and happy. Justin ate almost a whole belgian waffle!

The aircraft carrier place also has an old submarine, a destroyer, a Coast Guard cutter, and a replica Vietnam support camp. Again, we got military discounts. We started with the carrier.

It had six separate tours, each for a different part of the ship. We waited about five minutes for the first one to start. I'm so glad we did. The tour guide was a carrier sailor from WWII. He had a slightly different type carrier, and was in the Atlantic whereas the ship we were on had been in the Pacific, but that totally didn't matter. He had story after story, along with a ton of pictures. He had plenty of practice, he's been doing it for over 15 years! He's the last volunteer they have that had been there during the war. It just won't be the same after he leaves.

Anyway, the tour took over two hours. Darrell and I thought it was really cool (more the stories than the ship), but Justin was getting tired of all the waiting around and being quiet. After it was over, we left to grab lunch (at a sub shop a couple miles away ). After lunch, we went back to the carrier. Decided not to take any more guided tours, but wandered all around the flight deck, the decks above the flight deck (I think it's called the island? Don't remember), and the engine room. The whole time we were on there, I was wishing my Coast Guard uncle had been with us. I had NO idea where we were! Totally turned around and discombobulated. I couldn't tell you what deck we were on, how far forward or aft we were, nothing. They had a bunch of retired aircraft on the flight deck, including an F-14. Did you know they're ALL retired now?? Yep, as of a couple weeks ago. No more Top Gun. Eventually, we decided we'd had enough of the carrier. We probably only saw about half of what they had open to see, and probably a fiftieth of the whole ship. I can hardly imagine that modern carriers are a third BIGGER than that one was.

Kaden had been in the Snuggly the whole time, facing in. I took him for the tour, then passed him off to Darrell after. He slept a lot of it, and ate most of the rest of the time.

We did the sub next. There was NO way to take Kaden in there (the doorways were too small), so Justin and I went first. Wow, I can't imagine they had 80 men in that tiny space. They must have slept in shifts, since we only saw about 15 bunks. Even the captain of the boat had a tiny tiny space (but he had his OWN space, the only one on board who did). Darrell went next, with Justin going again.

The sub was kinda sad looking. A lot of rust damage around the outside. It just looked depressed. Like it knew it was out to pasture, past it's usefulness. Poor thing.

After that, we did the destroyer. They had arrows on the deck, showing you around the open places in such a way that you saw it all on one trip around. Pretty cool. Most of the interior spaces had been turned into museum exhibits. I thought that part was rather boring. I would rather have seen the ship as it had been. Oh well.

Darrell stayed with Kaden for the Coast Guard cutter. By now, we were all getting a little burnt out on the whole idea. There wasn't a whole lot more to see on that ship that was different than the others. I told Darrell he didn't miss too much. Again, I wish my uncle had been there to explain things a big more. I'll have to tell him it's there, see if he's interested in checking it out some time. He lives in Norfolk, so it's not that far a drive...

We decided to head home after that. Can't remember what we did for dinner... Oh, we went to a new Applebees that opened up a week or so ago and got 'Cano Cake for dessert. Yummm!! It's a chocolate cake with a hole in the middle that they pour hot fudge into. Plus a huge ball of vanilla ice cream. We all love that dessert. I got a three-cheese ziti dish that wasn't that great. I'll go back to my usual next time (chicken fajita rollups, minus the pico).

We all slept like the dead that night. My legs were feeling the super-steep ladders the next day. And my back a little, from carrying Kaden. He's getting heavy!!

I'm so glad we went. It was a lot of fun, and we haven't done something like that as a family in a LONG time. Probably over a year ago.

Next time we go, we want to do the tour of Fort Sumter and the Children's Museum.

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