19 February 2012

Even More Snow Birds!

As Zoe likes to say... MORE!  More snow birds, more beaches, more grandparent-visits!  This time: Myrtle Beach.  Unfortunately we flew down there, so there was no stopping at South of the Border, but the view once we got there sure couldn't be beat.  More breathtaking views from the balconies!

Glancing left from the balcony.
And to the right of the condo...

That's right - this condo too had a great balcony with a view; it was 16 floors above the mighty Atlantic pond.  If you look real close you can just see Western Sahara in the distance.  (* No, you can't. Not even with binoculars.) 

Little did the seagull know, he'd be immortalized on some silly human's blog.
With the beach literally at our doorstep, it was the first, and most frequently visited destination - for good reason.  Zoster developed a real love of seafoam, chasing the bubbles back and forth, back and forth, all the while exclaiming "bubbles!"

Come'ere you bubbles... Run away, run away!
Somehow both Tommy and Cara came down with something akin to food poisoning while travelling down to the Myrtle.  Strange, since we hadn't even eaten the same meals, but golly jeepers, we sure tested the glaze on the porcelain in the condo all morning on our first day there. Thankfully it was only a 24-hour bug, so we were right as rain the next day.

All fun and games until someone gets cold feet!
Even Papa braved the shark-infested waters to help the Zoster chase her beloved bubbles.  However, his gastrointestinal malaise must have slowed his normally sharp reaction times, and a rogue wave caught Zoe Mae by the ankle and left a devastating wash of saline solution on her shins.  She was none too pleased, despite the added buoyancy one finds in saltwater.

Must not let my friends see me having fun with the family.  
As luck would have it, there was a swinging bench nearby, and wee Zoe was able to dry off and bask in the comfort of her mama's warm embrace, all while displaying a decidedly adolescent-level of ambivalence on her little face.  (Rumor has it that she learned the trick from Aunt Amy, who herself had pioneered the look in Hawaii so many years ago.)  Either way, Grandpa and Mama weren't buying it, and they laughed it up.  Good times, great oldies.

Three generations of Haagillipselloes chatting in the afternoon sun.
Now Grandma, of course, knows the way straight to the Zoster's heart, so there was no fooling her.  Back up at the condo we conspired for an even more fun outing... the pool!  Zoe had walked by it a few times, exclaiming "wawa!" but little did she know that this wawa was for basking in! 

Well, you've gotta learn how to dive some time...
It begins with a jump in the pool - something the Zoster grew to absolutely love.  She'd stand on the edge and then lean/jump into whomever was willing to catch her.  Giggling up a storm the whole time, and shrieking with delight.

Come one, bump me one more time. I double-dog dare you.
Then it was on to the tubes, where Zoe player bumper boats with Cara.  For a little kid, the Zoster sure can be ruthless when there's a competition on the line!  (*Also untrue.)  The condo had myriad pools and water features, and Zoe did her best to make it into all of them.  Only brute force and quick wit were able to keep her from the hot tubs and outdoor unheated pools!

"Lazy" River my arse  - this thing is AWESOME!
Finally, what better way to wind down after a long day relaxing than a float down the Lazy River?  Or was it a race: tubers vs. swimmers?  Like a little creek, the lazy river meandered around the other pools, and Zoster enjoyed the ride while Grandma provided a little extra propulsion.

Stay tuned, because coming up next week we've got: A Quiz!  But first, one last picture of the fabled winter shellhunter of Myrtle Beach... 

11 February 2012

The great snow bird experiment

While Pittsburgh is known for many great things, it has never been particularly renowned for its winters.  Seeing that the Zoster's grandparents have wised up to northeast winters and now flock south for a good chunk every year, we decided that it was a good idea to visit the wise old snowbirds.  So... Florida and Myrtle Beach -- here we come!  Here is the story of part 1:  the great expedition to Delray Beach, Florida.

Victory! Who needs a satin sash when you have an aeroplane?
Mucho kudos to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) - they cordoned off an entire gate and repurposed it as a kids play area.  There's a huge map of the country in the floor so kids can fly from one city to another, and there's all sorts of flight-themed kid-friendly stuff.  Plus it's enclosed so parents can relax while their kids are kids.  Nice one.

Papa's my co-pilot. Now where's the "turbo" button?
With the fine education that she received from Pittsburgh's "Kidsport", wee Zoe became an expert on all things aeronautical.  Turbulence? Ha - she'd seen worse.  Ear pressure?  Psshaw - the girl had three flights with two ear infections and wasn't bothered one bit.

One more picture and they'll be taking pictures of you... in the morgue!
Somewhat weary from the travel, our first destination was the beach.  The most welcoming of all places, beaches are warm, friendly places to carelessly stroll barefoot with loved ones.  Zoe LOVES long walks on the beach.  But wait - what's that?

WAR!!!!!!!   We'd been greeted with a purple flag upon arrival: "Dangerous Marine Life - Portugese Man of War."  No joke - they were everywhere.  And don't be fooled, although they appear both cuddly and delicious, they are neither.  Zoster was wise to this, and wanted nothing to do with the war zone, so we headed back to the southerly homestead.

Breakfast with a view...  In no particular order: Cara; Zoe Mae; Intercoastal Waterway; Ocean. Not seen in this photo: Pool (beneath deck); Beach (obscured by trees).
After naptime Zoe's herculean travel savvy started to tarnish.  Into fury.  So we packed the ailing babe child into the car and enjoyed an storybook drive to a floridian urgent care clinic.  It was one of those parenting moments...  Zoe flailing in inconsolable rage in the back seat. Driving in a strange city. In rush hour. Zoe screaming screaming screaming. No clear directions, and no GPS - just a gist of where we were headed - and the place had no roadside signage.  To further help us, both of our phones had been left in the condo...  We didn't even have a quarter to call someone who cares!

The good doc confirmed a that two of Zoe's ears were definitely infected. That's 100% of her poor ears!  Cara basked in victory (better to know the enemy), and we enjoyed a somewhat better drive back.  And what better solution to a double ear infection than a double pie feast?!?!  Grammy made a delicious chicken pot pie followed by key lime pie.  We'd have taken pictures, but we ate it all too quickly!

Wait a minute - who's reading to whom here?
Storytime with Grandpa...

Back home, Zoster was on the mend, and it was time for the grandparents to regale her with stories of the days of old.  Or boardbooks.  Either way, Zoe was totally into it.  The next day she was feeling better, so we ventured toward the water again, but we were stopped in our tracks by an unthinkable tragedy.  Zoe's waffles attempted mutiny and her snack cup consequently took an unexpected tack right off the pier. Into the ocean.

Help, help! Snack cup overboard! 
Zoe trembled with fear that her companion was gone forever; they'd come so far together.  Mama shuddered at the environmental impact; the oceanic garbage patch was big enough as it is. Papa pondered the financial impact; could they really afford another?  With the family in such dire straits, Grammy led the women and children indoors to safety while Papa foolishly watched and waited until the perfect low-tide opportunity to risk life and limb to recover the wayward cup.  Balanced between a manky old sailboat and a broken ladder, and with no onlookers to ridicule and videotape rescue him if he should fail, Tommy somehow plucked the cup from the sea with his feet.  The difference between heroism and foolhardiness? Victory. The snack cup was saved.*

How many trips to steal all the water from the old folks' pool?
Zoe Mae, of course, had since moved on to bigger and better cups, wholly unaware of the age old battle between man and sea.  The wee lass had discovered the other aquatic wonder of Florida - pools!  She loves 'em, and thankfully this condo had three: An 'owners' pool that none of us were allowed in; a 'guest' pool that was for potty-trained persons** only; and a tiny plastic kiddy pool, just for rock stars like Zoe.  

Be sure to tune in next time as we venture south of south of the border.

Here's lookin' at you kid.

* True story. Two days later, the snack cup was accidentally left behind in Florida, and is now being dutifully employed by Grandpa. There will be a(nother) reunion soon.
** A curious, but excellent, prerequisite in a retirement community if I do say so myself.

05 February 2012

Happy 2012!!!

(It was still January when we started this... so somehow this New Year's post still counts)

To cap off our holiday extravaganza, we continued the theme of celebrating multiple everythings, and rocked two New Year's Eves.  Oh yeah.

Go ahead, I dare you... pull my finger.
First up was the annual rendezvous with friends in the 'Cuse.  Good times, great beer.  Both homebrewed, of course.

The most awesome dinner EVER.

Next, we made another stop over at Lakewood for a New Years extravaganza compete with cousins, party hats, homemade ice cream and a dance party (oh yes).

Papa-- what do I do with this?  Can I wear it??

When we made it back home, a New Years present awaited wee Zoe in the mail.  Her very first check!!  For over $100!!  You see folks, all of that ad clicking that you've been doing on our blog HAS paid off.  In real money. Zoe Mae is super thankful for the nice chunk of change to put in her bank account.  While she's a little on the young side to fully understand fiscal responsibility, rest assured that Papa is readying his lesson plans.  In the mean time, Happy New Year to you all and keep on clicking!!

Are you sure it isn't a shoe??