Friday, June 23, 2017

day 5:wtf

 Road tripping for us means trying something new every day. Maybe it's a new food, checking out a new bookstore, visiting a new museum, but we really do try to cram it all in.

Since we had the day off from brave camp, we decided that we'd see if we could sneak in an animal related adventure for Tiny, who - as far as creatures go - is one of our more adventurous children.

Instead of the zoo, or the seaquarium, or even the well-paved Monkey Jungle, we decided to head a little bit off the beaten path towards Safari Ed-ventures in Homestead, Florida.

The whole experience can be summed up in two syllables:

Da F#*@?


What was I thinking?
It is not an exaggeration to say that the heat, my herpetophobia, and generalized anxiety - this is what my version of hell would look like.

My first clue should have been the entrance:

We probably still could've gotten our money back after the bathroom. The latch (or lack thereof) clearly indicates that nobody's getting too comfortable in there anyway. The massive spiders hanging from the ceiling damn near spelled out Charlotte's Web style: "Get out!", and I'm pretty sure there toilet tank was pulling double duty as housing for the Burmese python.

The rest of the exhibit exhibited of twisted leaf-strewn pathways through the jungle - you know, the kind of brown, dead foliage that copperheads use to raise their families.

But even that I could handle. There was a little bit of ashphalt I could run to for safety. It was this right here:

Why no running?
I mean we're outdoors in the great-wide beyond, so why the big concern? 
I'll tell you why:
We paid $55 to walk into somebody's science experiment. God only knows what was lurking in the underbrush at this place, I swear a compsagnathus ran right across my foot - on it's hind legs! (I found him later by the cockatoo cage smoking a pack of camels and smack talking the lemurs).

I wasn't afraid of anything I actually saw there - including the python, tarantula, African bullfrog or alligator, all of which which I willingly admired and touched. It's what I COULDN'T SEE that was freaking me out.

But it wasn't all creeptastic. We also get to pet a kangaroo, hold a chinchilla and a ferret (Tiny's favorite). There was much oohing and ahhing over petting the sloth, and we got to walk into the wolf enclosure and pet all of the wolves too. 

Then it was a quick stop for fresh fruit smoothies and then back to the hotel for more cousins, more pool, more adventure.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

day 5 welcome to miami

It's rare that we get to park ourselves in one place for too long, so I'm pretty excited about our extended stay in Miami. Then again, after last summer, I'm pretty excited to be anywhere celebrating together.

Today was the start of sessions for Tiny's Brave Camp. We headed to FLorida a International a University which is by far the largest campus I've ever seen - but beautiful. Tiny did a really great job, and seemed to make a bit of progress even in just one day - though I think it'll take a full week and a bit more reflection before my final verdict. After some time being bserved (both with parents and with a counselor), we got a lunch break, so we picked up the big girls for lunch and macarons at the Dolphin Mall.

It's not quite the MOA, but the looooooong walkways certainly give ita run for its'money.  After lunch we headed to the middle school where camp will be held (and where the mascot is a giant shark) to check out the classroom and meet some other campers.

As far as the parent training goes, I don't feel like it's anything we didn't know, but a Tiny did earn 9 brave coins, so she felt it was a productive day.
Our hotel is rather spectacular for an Expedia find, and we spent a large part of the afternoon lounging in the pool and noshing on the free Cuban chicken salad the hotel provides for dinner. While we were at the pool, a lady and a little boy approached Tiny and said, "Hey, I recognize that face! We found one of your rocks!" 

Louie and his mom are staying at the same hotel, and found one of her rocks. They checked out her Instagram, and that's how a Tiny made her first new friend from her rock project.

After dinner we piled into the car to cruise down Ocean Drive and take a stroll down Lincoln Road on South Beach. We checked out Dylan's Candy Bar, 4D Gelato, tipped the breakdancers, visited the Britto Art dealer (which is my new favorite place), dropped rocks, and admired the street art.

It's midnight. Everyone is still awake, but we have the day off tomorrow - who knows what adventures we'll find.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

day 4: georgia to miami

Not much to tell today, because we spent nine hours in the car.

We did stop at the Florida welcome center and to pick up a cousin, so that was a nice ten minute break.
Brave camp starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

day 3: kentucky, tennesee, georgia

OK, it's technically a roadtrip, but it's not up to our usually caliber. Usually we drive a few hours, stop someplace cool, take in a little local culture and ease on down the road, but with so much ground to cover in so little time, the stops are few - and quick. 

The upside, is that this ain't our first rodeo, and we knew exactly where to go: a quick stop in Nashville for a peek at he Grand Ole Opry (and a rock drop: "face the music" and "follow your dreams"), and a mango tea.

By the time we got to Chattanooga, we just followed the aroma to Sugar's BBQ. We've been to Chattanooga three times in our lives, and the last two we're just for a taste of the best brisket in the world (maybe the best food in the world- and although I am prone to poetic license, this is not one of those times - it's really that good) and homemade banana pudding, which makes all of s look like this:

roadtrip 2017 day 1: Minnesota to Paducah,KY

 And . . . we're off.  Our journey to Miami for Yoda's bravery camp began last night at 7. It's our first trip without Punk along and it's more than a little disarming. He'll fly down later, but we miss his constant requests for the 80's station and him boggarting all of the Dr. Pepper.

So far there isn't much to report, and I doubt there will be, since we're basically trying to drive as far south as Belize in the span of two and a half days. There was a quick overnight in Madison (where Tiny made her first rock drop - more on that later), and then we piled back into the car for an eight hour drive to Paducah, Kentucky.

There was a quick stop at Lincoln's courthouse in Bloomington, IN. It was the place where Lincoln actually practiced law from 1837-1860. We couldn't stay long, just long enough for Tiny to hide a "peace rock", squish a penny and for both girls to take "whatchu talkin' 'bout Abe?" pictures.
Then it was across the street to Windy City Weiners, which we'd rather forget. Thankfully, we're in too much of a hurry to dwell on the sticky floors, rancid lemonade, and the dude in full camo gear who kept heading into the back and stashing giant boxes of artillery shells by the door.

We stopped for the night at the Auburn Inn in Paducah, KY, where Kooka loved the pool, and Tiny finally swam all by herself with no floaties!

P.S. As we make our way south, we'll be making rock drops for a project Yoda started called "this life rocks". She (and I, and a Kooka, and who ever else she can get to sit at the patio table with her) has been painting rocks with little messages on them, and she just wants to leave some beautiful art and good mojo around the country. If you'd like to follow her Facebook page or Instagram, you can find them under the same name. She does most of the posting herself, with a bit of help.

Friday, June 16, 2017

so this happened . . .

Yeah, it really happened.

We're still reeling from the shock of it.

The big kids also had birthdays.

And Kooka sang for four hours straight an her own as a little street musician at the market fair.

I'd love to post more, but we leave in 48 hours, and I know that my roadtrip tirades are what you're all secretly waiting for.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ten days

It's almost here.

The day that I have been dreading for over 6,500 days.

According to my living room table I have taken no less than two pictures each day in preparation for this one. At this point an attempt to organize them seems futile - and if I'm being completely honest counter-intuitive. I'd rather spend time with the actual kid - not the ghosts of kodak. Because let's be real - this ain't no celebration.

It's not.

I mean, the kid did the bare minimum of what society asks somebody with his capabilities to do: learn enough to function and participate in society. OK, yeah, let's give him a pat on the back and all, it might even be cake worthy - but let's be real:

No - this isn't a celebration.

As a matter of fact - I'm not sure what it is. I'm not scared for him - he's a great kid, with a good plan, and a strong support system. I'm proud of him, and who he is, but not overly impressed just because he aces a math test or writes a killer history paper.

I'm sad. Mostly sad. And yes, I know this is what is supposed to happen in life, and I know that I would be much sadder if he weren't the kind of kid who was capable of heading out to do great things.

But dammit, I'm going to miss him.

I'm going to miss showtunes emanating from the shower every night, the way he kisses his little sister's forehead every time he walks in the door. I'll miss late night cocoa with him, and his all-too-accurate impersonations of everyone at the diner table. I'll miss watching him on stage, and signing his permission forms and hugging him goodnight and walking in to see what he's doodling at his desk. I already miss making pirate treasure maps with him and bedtime stories, and lunchbox notes, and now I will be missing even more.

Maybe that's what a graduation party is. It's not a celebration. It's parents shaking the world by the shoulders with 13,467 photos, a rootbeer keg and 200 gas station donuts saying, "Look at this kid - isn't he funny? Isn't he kind? Isn't he a great piece of work for this world?!" And then silently begging the world to take care of them, to love them as much as we do, to chew them up just enough, but never spit them out.

Ten days.
Ten days.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


We spend the first part of May getting ready for our spring showcase at my work. For Kooka,  this is THE event of the season. But even for Tiny and Punk it was rather eventful. Rico danced once. Tiny danced 4 times (5 if you count the finale). Punk had a senior solo, to "Dentist" from Little Shop of Horrors, danced with the swing group, performed with the theater group and MC'd/did stand up through the rest of the show. Kooka performed in at least every other piece - and the in-between classes were usually ones she helps teach. This is basically a photo/video dump. But still pretty notable for us.