Thursday, July 27, 2017

150 Days Give or Take Continued: Volume 14

**  I think it prudent to point out that, from this point forward, we have exactly 50 days of adventures left before kindergarten officially begins. So, our count of "150 Days Give or Take a Few Days" is almost correct! We have done nothing so far to prepare for the start of school except order supplies to be delivered on his first day (complete with a personalized message and a raffle entry for an authentic autographed Jake Gunetzel photo) and pick up the Kindergarten Readiness folder to promptly stash on the desk.

We have some grand adventures already planned from here on out. I hope to make each of these fifty days one to remember, in a good way!!

July 17, 2017 -- Day 107:

We packed up the car and drove south to Virginia Beach. It took almost nine hours, mostly because we sat in DC traffic on the beltway for over two of those hours. Ouch. But, compared to the scope of our previous lives' traveling schedules -- piece of cake!!

We arrived to our oceanfront hotel, The Sandcastle, to find it much improved from our last visit over ten years ago. (This is the same place the Starks have stayed for VA Beach vacations, going way back to last century.) Franco and I unpacked our jazz and dashed right out to the ocean to get our feet wet. And sandy.

We ate a light dinner at one of the hotel's oceanfront restaurants, Oceans 14, and enjoyed our first night of vacation with fancy cocktails (some with booze, some without) and seafood, complimented with a side of salty ocean air. Perfection.

July 18, 2017 -- Day 108:

Today literally was a day at the beach. Scott schlepped our tent out bright and early to "claim his spot" because he obsessed about it all morning and could NOT even eat breakfast until he completed that chore. (Wheeeeew. We did not have to hear anymore about that, then. Thank goodness for small miracles.) We ate at the hotel's breakfast buffet, then headed straight outside.

We enjoyed perfect weather, Franco picked out some sand buckets and toys, Scott had a bag of Cheetos all to himself (kinda) and I "sipped" ice cold Coronas as if being paid a sponsorship. (I also drank PBR in a totally unironic way. Because I genuinely like it. Thank you.)

SorryNotSorry about shamelessly honing in on those Cheetos, Dad....

We stayed out there swimming and laughing and chilling until mid-afternoon. Franco caught some great waves and turned into a little beach bum before our very eyes. We then spent some time swimming in the indoor pool before a much-needed shower and nap.

That evening, I promised Franco we could check out the carnival rides on the boardwalk. A giant ferris wheel commanded the most attention, and the most anxiety, as that is about the only ride that scares me to death. (A slow climb high into the sky and that's it? No thank you.)

However, we I determined the prices to be ludicrous and put the kabash on all that. I told Franco he could have the fifteen or so dollars it would have cost us to both ride one (!!!) ride and use it to buy junk in the junky beach stores. After some subtle aggressive cajoling, he caved to my awesome idea.

He picked out a cute little US Navy plane and a sweatshirt, and we met Scott for a seafood feast at a joint called Jumpin' Shrimp a few doors down. Delicious. After dinner, Franco and I walked the beach and one of us ran furiously up and down these man-made sand dunes until completely sweaty and exhausted. We got our feet wet, tracked sand into the bed, and fell asleep.

As you do when at the beach.

July 19, 2017 -- Day 109:

For daytime activities, see above. (Though Scott did chill out about "claiming his spot" so that's good.)

For dinner, we decided on an oldie-but-goodie, Ocean Eddie's, on the pier directly across from our hotel. We loved it. Our table on the deck happened to be the closest you could get to the ocean, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

That is pure joy right there. Also, Franco is happy, too.
After stuffing ourselves with seafood, we ate ice cream, and Franco and I made our way through a few more awesome beach shops, where he bought a literal bag of weapons. Pirate swords, bow and arrows, ninja star, plus I don't even know what else. He headed back to the hotel room to torment his dad for the rest of the night. Good times.

July 20, 2017 -- Day 110: 

Last day at the beach. (Insert sad face here.) Prior to going outside for the day, I made the most treasured discovery of maybe the entire week: a Jersey Shore marathon playing on MTV2.

Be still my heart. I don't know if you are aware, but there is not a day goes by wherein I don't miss that show and those kids. No hyperbole. I'm being honest. It brings me simple, unabashed joy. And I will never apologize, no matter what.

We enjoyed several episodes before heading out for the last full day. In between riding ocean waves, I informed my family that if we got back to the room to find the Jersey Shore marathon ongoing, I unilaterally delcared this trip the best vacation ever.

A carpet picnic with a "big thing of cheeseballs" while Ronnie confronts Sammi about her deal with Arvin?  Yes, please.

Guess what? Best. Vacation. Ever.

After the marathon ended (another sad face) we napped before our last night out on the town. We went back to Oceans 14 because we did not get to try all the yummy food last time and, in so doing, made an excellent choice.

Photo credit: Franco
Franco and I went on one more shopping excursion to buy souvenirs for Gram and Pap and Auntie for their caretaking of Sweet-Sweet Emma while we played at the ocean, and then we went back to the room to enjoy our last night on the balcony.

July 21, 2017 -- Day 111:

Time to pack it up, pack it in, and drive home to PA. We stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way, something we haven't done in a long time since we don't drive nine hours every weekend anymore, and took the route through my old stomping grounds in WV's eastern panhandle.

We picked up Emma at Gram and Pap's, regaled them with a few stories, and showered them with their treasures, so lovingly chosen by Franco. (I'm serious. He picks out some sweet swagg.) Pap seemed to be getting along in his recovery, so we loaded up our sweet Chessie and made the last leg of the journey home to Lebo.

We piled all our crap inside the door and set about doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the night -- except, of course, watching the Disney Channel premiere of Descendants 2. Which is certianly not nothing if you are us!! Franco and I have waited a good bit of summer for this. (Seriously. I have tried to implore that I am immature in many, many ways.) We loved it, even though Mal spent a good bit of the movie with the wrong hairdo. (Thankfully, Dizzy fixed it for her. Hard core fans will know what I'm sayin' here.)

Even though the trip is over, the fun continues around these parts!!

July 22, 2017 -- Day 112:

No rest for the weary! I tidied up somewhat, sorted through all the dirty laundry (literally, not figuratively) and then we primped for another afternoon at the theater!

Seize the day!
A spectacular time, especially for me because of my gleeful Newsies fandom. It was everything.

After the show, we stopped for dinner at Pork and Beans, a little bistro for which Scott has pined a while now. If you love huge slabs of meat, especially meat that comes from pigs, this is the place for you! Which is to say, the boys adored every savory bite. (I had fun, too, and certainly did not starve!)

Apparently, Scott found the meal photo-worthy. Yes, I am eating a kale salad. No judgment.
We made it home through a nasty rainstorm to commence being super lazy. And it was awesome.

July 23, 2017 -- Day 113:

I would like to say that on this rainy Sunday, I came up with some crafty ideas for Franco to use his brain and challenge himself. But, I don't intend to lie. We used this rainy day to watch TV and play games on the iPad and watch TV.

Later on, Franco and I played Busy Bee and Go Fish before calling it a night. He crawled into bed and told me he'd had a really good day.


***To Be Continued....

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Steph's days are complete with little Franco/Mr. Buddy Pants, Pittsburgh Steelers football, Penguins hockey, all things WVU, cold beverages, new handbags, shoe-shopping, pups, and lots and lots of movies. And, of course, her glorious, nutty family.