So with a heavy heart, I loaded the kids in the car, kissed My Prince goodbye (he would join us after he preached the funeral of our dear sweet friend), and started our eight hour journey to the country. Thankfully, our trip was easy and pretty much uneventful. When we made it to our destination, we were extremely glad to be there.
Aunt T and L had dinner waiting on us. Bless their hearts! We ate heartedly and caught up with one another while we waited for Unca's arrival. We didn't have to wait too long before he joined us. Aunt T mentioned that if we wanted to get some Senior pictures done before everyone else got there and before L had to leave that tonight was the night. The Oldest Princess hopped into gear and did a presto chango from riding all day in the car to raving Senior beauty in about 20 minutes. L helped with makeup. We gathered props and set off down to the road by Aunt V's house that leads to the old cemetery. With chairs, rugs, pillows signs, etc., Aunt T and L went to work. They took a ton of pictures, and then we moved over to the corn field, and took some more. Then The Oldest Princess swung on the gate, and sat on a post, and eventually back in the chair, but this time in the middle of the hay field. I wish you all could have seen her jumping out there like a little field mouse because she was afraid of critters in the hay. I tried to record her coming back out, but she was not nearly as funny coming out as she was going in. I think the pictures turned out beautifully though.
We came in and loaded the pictures to the computer so that we could see them. After that, we pretty much decided to call it a day and get some rest.
The fence row with flags on each post.
Unca had a new toy. Surround sound out by the pool. He had a lot of fun playing music for each of us and showing off his surround sound. It was really nice to lay on a float in the pool and relax to music. He even voluntarily played a little Toby Mac for the kid's sake. That my friends is almost a modern day miracle.
On Friday we made good use of the pool. At one point I believe we pretty much had floats, wall to wall, shallow to deep end. The nephews (that were able to come) arrived, and we were one big happy family. One of them barely got in before the teasing began. Poor JS, as he said, some things are just never let go. And sadly for him, he keeps giving everyone more and more material to work with.
When Aunt T was young, she has memories of turning large wooden spools on their sides and racing them in her grandmother's field. She has mentioned it several times, and wanted our kids to experience the fun. A friend of theirs, M, was able to get a really large one. He brought it by Friday afternoon. Everyone had to take a turn to try to make it work. Unca, M - who is expecting, and myself are the only ones who did not try. M lamented over the fact that she was the only health professional in the group because we could just see a trip to the emergency room in the works. Little did we know we would indeed need her medical expertise later, but it would have nothing to do with the giant wooden spool. We alternated swimming and eating most of the day Friday. At one point JM was in the pool and dared me to try to throw a sunflower seed in his mouth from where I was sitting. The first one fell far short. The second one bounced off of his shoulder and into the water. Prompting Unca to fuss at us. The search was then on for the seed so we could get it out of the pool. The Young Prince was apparently under the water when J discovered that sunflower seeds float and removed it from the pool. About 5 minutes later, The Young Prince told Aunt T that he couldn't find the seed anywhere. Bless his heart. He had been searching the whole time, not knowing that we had already taken care of it.
Walking on the wooden spool.
I saw something that I had never seen before. I noticed a dirt dobber flying around where we were eating. I could tell that it was carrying something. I asked what it was carrying, and about that time the dirt dobber dropped it. It was a spider. Yuck! They catch spiders and take them home for their larva to feed on. Ick!! It was really nasty.
JS, I'll let you guess which one, who had already been teased mercilessly about his old girlfriend's name, a hunting trip that happened about three years before, and now his new girlfriend's name (that's what happens when you date a girl with the same name as you - your family makes jokes about it), was sitting beside me at dinner. It was a normal dinner with everyone talking and cutting up, until he looked at me and said, "Help me!" I said, "What?" not sure if he was kidding or not. He stood up and said, "Help me! Heimlich!" My first thought was that if he was talking to me, he did not need the Heimlich. Aunt T jumped up and started trying to attempt it, but to no avail. He could communicate to us that he had a piece of chicken stuck in his throat. Unca tried the Heimlich as well, again to no avail. Unca then ran out to get M, our only health professional to see if she could tell us what to do. She came in, and they all went to the bathroom, while several of us stayed at the table and prayed. He was finally able to make himself sick, and get it out. It was very scary for all of us, and we are all very thankful that he was okay. We were so thankful as a matter of fact, that a new round of good natured teasing began, and pretty much never let up until he had to go home. You know things like - guess who is definitely going to make the blog this time, and from now on, we will cut up his food for him, etc. I sure am glad he still loves us and hangs out with us even though we give him a hard time. And yes, he definitely made the blog this time.
The other JS played fetch with The Youngest Princess. He would throw a tennis ball, and she would ride out on Unca's motorized tricycle and get it and bring it back to him. Kept them both entertained for hours.
The Young Prince has a habit of saying a common phrase in an uncommon way. Aunt T asked him if he knew what one of the words was actually a name for. He had no idea. She enlightened him, and he was a little embarrassed. And as nothing is ever forgotten, he was teased about it several times afterwards.
The Youngest Princess was talking about a password and informed us that it had no "capilization" in it.
The girls were showing us part of a cheer that they had learned at cheer camp. We laughed at Unca trying to do it. Someone said that he could be a cheerleader, and L said that if he were, he would definitely be a base.
Usually we have some sort of long running joke that we keep going back to several times. This time, it was T-Rex jokes. Everyone had to do things the way a T-Rex would do them. How a T-Rex shuffles cards, makes a bed, says "I love you this much", does push-ups, etc. I mean, think about it. They really had it rough with those big bodies and itty bitty little arms.
We played games of course. The first game we played was a game where a player is eliminated each round. And I was the biggest looser. The first one out. JM would not let me forget it either. He pretty much rubbed it in my face for the next few times the cards were shuffled out. He kept saying, "Only, still don't deal to Aunt Trish." So kind of him to be helpful to the dealer like that! And while we were playing Unca played the role of butler and brought us soft drinks and even made dip - with help from Aunt T of course. But it was very kind of him, and we really appreciated him waiting on us like that.
Oh, and we played the game a second time, only a shortened version of it, and guess who was the biggest winner? Yep! Me! No more biggest looser for me! Whoo Hoo!
There was of course a Fourth of July family gathering. Unca dressed festively for the occasion. He had an Uncle Sam type hat, and some fancy red, white, and blue hair. Both were big hits with the crowd. Before everyone got there I helped Unca with his "secret" dessert. Which was actually a fruit tray that was arranged like an American Flag.
Unca's American Flag fruit tray
About the time everyone got there and we were ready to eat, it came a monsoon. The rain was pouring, the wind was blowing, the kids were screaming (but only because they had to get out of the pool). Everyone worked together to move everything to the back porch so the wind would not blow the rain onto the food tables. J and L decided that since they were already soaked, they would make fun out of the huge rivers of water flowing through the yard. So they grabbed pool floats and went yard river surfing. It did not take long for the other cousins to join in. And pretty soon the youngest ones were splashing in the yard puddles having a grand time despite the rain. And as it calmed down to just a steady sprinkle, most of them got back in the pool, even though Unca warned them that they would get wet.
Yard river surfing
It was great to be able to see Aunt P this time around. I think it has been too long since we have been able to spend any time with her. It was nice to see her and to be able to catch up.
While sitting around talking, C asked Unca as serious as she could be if they had the tooth fairy when he was young. He told her that yes, as a matter of fact they did, and Santa Clause too. I thought I was going to die! She could not have asked a better person.
The cousins were playing frisbee out in front, when one of them hit a bush. A baby bird came out of the bush and half hopped half flew over into the hay field. JM went through the fence and found it. He picked it up to take it back to the bush. He could not come back through the fence with it in his hands, so he tried to hand it off to another of the cousins. The bird got away. There were too many dogs around to just let it go, so the boys chased that bird all over the place trying to get it back to the bush and its nest. They were finally able to catch it, and JM put it back in the bush. Hopefully the little fellow made it. We never saw him anymore after that. So I'm guessing he either had a heart attack from all of the excitement, or he decided to get serious about learning to fly.
Later, after the family gathering, M was coming through the garage and noticed a hummingbird laying on the ground. It had flown into the garage but could not get back out. It was exhausted from trying. JM came in and quickly made up some sugar water. At first the little bird just lay in M's hand, barely opening and closing its eyes. She dipped her finger in the water and rubbed it on the bird's beak so that it would know what she was trying to offer it. Then it lay in her hand and began to drink. It stopped drinking for a minute. When they put the glass back up for it to drink some more, it sat up and then flew away. Then M cried because she was afraid that it was going to die (before it flew away). We laughed and told her she was definitely expecting. And JM will now be referred to as "The Bird Whisperer" for not one, but two bird rescues in a single day!
The exhausted hummingbird
A little better now...
My Prince finally arrived late that night, and we were very glad to have him there with us. He tried to sneak in on us, and almost succeeded. But I heard the door open, and knew it was him. L got to see him for a few minutes before she had to go to bed, because she had to leave us early the next morning.
The Young Prince took his guitar and blessed us by playing for us every once in a while. He tickled his Aunt T by swinging his hips and playing at the same time. At one point he got right up close to Unca and asked him, "How is that for surround sound?"
We did a lot more swimming and a lot more eating. Unca pointed out that The Youngest Princess spent as much time under the water as she did above the water. She was having a blast!
Unca never fails to teach my children something that I am not so sure I am glad for them to know. I think he feels like it is his calling in life or something. It started with the "Birdie, Birdie, in the snow" poem, and each time we get together, the tradition continues. This time it was a song about Marie Laveau. Folks, we are talking about rich Louisiana history here. Stuff to be proud of. Or not.
Sprinkled over the time that we were there, we played multiple rounds of Dutch Blitz (or Uno, or Bingo, or Farkle or whatever game name would come to Aunt T's mind when she would win a round). We also discovered that Aunt T's new table was the perfect height to play Dutch Blitz standing up. So folks, we got serious and moved the chairs and stood up to play. We never did talk any of the men in to playing with us, but they sure did like to stand around and let us know when we missed a play. And look out when B blitzes, because there will be screaming, dancing and celebrating to follow. I think her grandma heard her all the way at her house :-)!
We went to town one day and after Aunt T spilled tea all over her, my Prince tried to help Unca with his singing ability (or lack thereof). It was quite interesting. I wish I had thought to record some of it. I don't know why I didn't. It was not a boring trip to town by any means.
We joined the Yeti cup club when Unca and Aunt T bought us all one (except for The Youngest Princess who opted for a pair of shoes instead). I absolutely LOVE myYeti cup!!! I have drank more water in the past week than I have in the past few months combined. Whoo hoo!
We shopped for shoes for the Youngest Princess, and that was probably the biggest three ring circus I've attended in a long time. But after what felt like hours of searching and narrowing down choices only to not have the one she picked in her size to picking another one, where they didn't have the color she finally picked some that were in her size and color that she liked.
We went to eat, and happened to run into someone that I have been wanting to meet for quite a while now. The infamous S, and let me tell you, she lived up to everything that I had heard and more. When she left, she secretly told our waiter that it was Unca's birthday (it wasn't). She wanted them to come and sing to him and embarrass him. But unfortunately they didn't. When we got to the car, the wiper blades were standing straight out, and the side view mirrors had been adjusted.
We made a quick (well, not really quick) trip through the Dairy Queen drive through, and they did not have the chocolate covered cherry blizzard that Unca wanted. So sad, but it ended up leading to a delicious discovery, because they did have a chocolate covered strawberry one, and it was wonderful!
When we finished eating a doing a little shopping, we stopped back by S's house so that we could see her new pool. And as if my children had not already done enough swimming, The Youngest Princess and the The Young Prince went swimming with S's son in their clothes. Good thing we had been shopping and had clothes for them to change into when it was time to go home. While the kids swam, we visited with S and got to know her a little better. We were visited by a scorpion and a tree frog. S's son came out in all of his LSU gear because he found out that The Young Prince was an Alabama fan, then he talked smack to My Prince and of course a basketball game followed. I won't say who won, but I will say that the winner was related to me...of course, he did have a little height advantage.
Back at home, the kids put on a fashion show so we could see all of their new clothes. And we called it a day.
There was more swimming and more eating. More listening to music at the pool. And dancing lessons from Unca and The Young Prince. We all tried, but The Young Prince is the king of the swing your hips and arms move that has no name. This time there was no dancing in the closet, but there was dancing to Mandisa in the outdoor kitchen.
Some of us had a exercise session in the pool one evening. We were going to do it again then next evening, but somehow that never happened. For some reason it was just much nicer to lay on the float and relax.
The Youngest Princess had a blast driving everyone she could wrangle into riding with her on any of the motorized buggies available. It made her feel big and important. I love how she applies the rules of the real road while she is driving. She has spent the last few years of her life listening to her brother and sister learn to drive, and I think she could go and take the drivers test and pass it tomorrow if we (and the law) would allow her to. One evening she drove me from one end of the property to the other several times over. I think she likes to drive as much as she likes to swim.
And for several evenings we had photo sessions. There were two more evenings of Senior picture taking. We had a hard time deciding who was having more fun - Aunt T or the Oldest Princess. I think they were both having a blast, and I love the pictures we have as a result. One of my favorite memories involves the Mustang photo shoot and a couple of crazy people who decided to photo bomb.
One evening, we took a few family photos. I love them as well. I shared a couple on my Facebook page, but I am saving some. Maybe for Christmas cards? If I can wait that long.
The Young prince was able to get in some "practice" on Unc's tractor, while doing work for him of course. And he was also a big help in getting Unc's boat all washed and spiffied up. The Youngest Princess and My Prince helped on the boat as well.
My prince says that his getting to drive the Mustang is a noteworthy memory. While he was driving it, he hit a bat. Nothing was damaged, but it was pretty funny a little later when I had him thinking that the windshield was cracked.
Marc and the 'Stang
Oh, and S if you are reading this, The Young Prince said to please tell the LSU fan in your home that he says, "Roll Tide Roll!" It's about time those credit card knife club boys met.