Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring Break!

Thank God for the institution known to educators and students as "spring break". This year it's particularly late for my system; it's been a long time since Christmas Winter break.

Kids were really squirrelly at school last week. A fire alarm was pulled as a prank and we all spent about 15 minutes outside in the cold rain waiting for the fire department to arrive and give us the "all clear" before we could go inside, rumor spread through the school that a gunman in camo was running wild through the school, and ambulances took a couple of people to the hospital after they suffered stress-related symptoms.

It was with infinite relief that Tom and I left Friday at 2 p.m., heading to Florida to visit our daughters and grandkids.

Tom likes to drive straight through; it's a 14-15 hour drive, and for some reason I can no longer sleep in the car, even when it's been 22 hours since I slept last. Fortunately he's able to stay awake and alert better than I am ("alert" being the big difference between the two of us), and we practically flew down the interstates through Virginia, NC, SC, Georgia, and Florida. In spite of many piss pit stops, one stop for gasoline (we got 519 miles to the tank, which is pretty good for a 10-year-old Camry), half-hour break for supper at a local barbecue place (good food at good prices), and 1-1.5 hours in stop and go traffic in a road repair area, we got to Davenport (just SW of Orlando) at 5 a.m. Saturday.

We were both dead by that time; I was practically swooning from lack of sleep. We checked into our Super 8 $45-a-night room and slept for 6 lovely hours. (Note: I've had some good luck using, but in this case, it was cheaper to go through the Super 8 website.) It's not the Ritz Carlton by any means, but it was clean and the a/c worked. Kinda noisy, but my white noise machine took care of that.

A. and her best friend were in a small pageant in Deltona that afternoon, so we drove back to see them compete. My daughter, J., made the dresses for both girls and "did" their hair and makeup (minimal makeup). They look enough alike to be sisters, even fraternal twins. Some people asked J. if she's sure they aren't identical twins. Honest.

This was a tiny pageant, typical of the South, held in a fraternal organization's building, maybe 15 girls total. All were cute as buttons; some were perfectly comfortable on the stage, but some others weren't as fortunate. Me, I'd have been a basket case if I'd tried that at any age, much less 9.

This was K.'s first pageant. She's heard A.'s accounts and really wanted to try one herself. She did beautifully. She walked out as if she owned the place, full of poise and confidence. Fortunately she's a year older than A. and was in another age division, so they weren't competing against each other.

What none of us had expected was that two mother/daughter teams who appeared on the series "Little Miss Perfect" would be competing (and frequently it is the mothers who are competing, as well as the girls). One set I've known for a few years, but the other was unknown to me before the show.

This one told me horror stories about the shooting of LMP. The tv team spent the entire 48 hours before the pageants with the families; after a while, you kind of forget that there are cameras and mics in your face. They also twisted things to make it look like rich girl/poor girl and even suggested that the "poor" girl wear a boa constrictor as part of her "wow wear". Her mom emphasized that it was the producer's idea, not hers, and when she was talking on the phone to her husband, actually no one was on the line; it was all fake. They showed the "rich" girl's mom spending thousands on this pageant alone and the "poor" mom buying her daughter's clothes at Good Will, not telling that the mom wanted the girl to dress up like Miley Cyrus and was actually going for the Salvation Army-clothes look.

Anyway, that aside, it was a fun afternoon. The girls really didn't care who won; at least, A. and K. didn't. They both were first runners up in their age divisions, which they thought was pretty cool. The little girl who won A.'s division was a LMP winner; strangely, one of the judges for this pageant had "done" hair and makeup for the girls at LMP.

But sweet little A. R., the LMP winner, tried her best to give A. her crown after the pageant was over. She really meant it, too. When A. wouldn't take it, she tried to give A. her sash. That type of thing isn't all that typical of pageant winners.

I have a cute video of the three girls talking and cutting up while waiting for the judging to be finished, but I won't post it. I don't want to put their faces and names all over the internets. Suffice to say that they had a good time goofing off, dressed in their finery, and entertained others who were waiting.

I've attempted to upload photos from the pageant, but my internet connection is too poor to allow them to show up.

So, onward and upward.

On Sunday, Tom and I took A. and B2 to Homassassa Springs Wildlife Refuge. I have always been fascinated with manatees, and this is the place to go to see them. There are 6 or 7 manatees who live there year 'round, and there's also a small zoo. We enjoyed the manatee feeding show.

We didn't do much on Monday. That afternoon we took A. to Costco to buy her first pair of glasses. The poor child is near-sighted, as I am. She chose a cute pair. I don't remember having much input when I got new glasses as a child, until I was in the 10th grade or so. I thought it was important for A. to choose glasses that she likes; she's more likely to wear them and have confidence wearing them if she has some say in the matter.

Tom, A., and B2 prepared dinner (vegetarian spaghetti) that night. B2 had never handled a knife (except the time he took one out of the kitchen drawer a couple months ago and cut his leg) and was kind of tentative using it, but he managed. A. had helped Tom cook dinner three years ago and is an old hand at it. B2 didn't eat much, but A. made up for it.

Yesterday, the first chilly day (high winds, cool temps) Tom and I took B2 to the Reptile Farm (I think that's what it was called) at St. Cloud. We love old Florida-type places like that. Later I'll put up photos of all these things, but not with this internet connection. B2 had a good time feeding the turtles. The man who ran the place told me that B2 is a true gentleman. He shared his turtle food with a little girl.

This morning we got up and left for Ft. Lauderdale at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. I wasn't aware that there is a 7 a.m. in Florida. It was around 40 degrees when we left, but Ft. Lauderdale is warm with a nice breeze. We're staying in a hotel (it calls itself) across A1A from the beach. You should see the view from our picture window. (You would have if the internet connection wasn't so crappy here, or if Ntelos had allowed my crapcam photo to be posted.) Tom, his daughter, and I spent an hour by the pool, soaking up the rays and enjoying the peace and quiet of the nice little courtyard. You'd never know that we were on a main thoroughfare.

Tonight we're going to the yacht club for dinner with Donna's boyfriend's parents. Tough life, huh? Good thing I packed some Chico's Travelers Collection clothes. Tomorrow we're heading for Marathon for a couple of days in the Keys.

(Clothing note: I packed my Chico's denim capris that I haven't worn since September, and they're all too big for me. I really have lost weight!)

I'm off to take a shower and get gussied up for the yacht club. Ta-ta!

(I won't rub in how beautiful the beach looks from our room, and how warm it is here today, and how the breeze is just enough to keep one from baking while lying in the sun. I wouldn't do something like that, now, would I?)

(I would.)


Anonymous said...

Betty said....

Oh, to be someplace warm. It's a tiny bit "warmer" here today, i.e., no snow flurries. I am so tired of cold weather....I am getting cranky.

Sounds like you are having a good time...that's good! Enjoy the Keys.

rita said...

I'm always cranky, but less so when I'm in Florida. And south Florida is the best!!!

We have GOT to do a Sisters' Week down here. Do you think that Nancy would come?

Anonymous said...

Betty said...

It's worth a try!

Elaine said...

I hope the vacation is wonderful - nice and relaxing and warm.

rita said...

It was wonderful. I miss it already. It's cold here!

We're planning to rent the condo in the Keys for a month this summer while we look for a place to live. Just plain heavenly down there!