Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Halloween Trouble 2015

Our group of trick-or-treaters, minus the parents, getting ready to head out to Spanish Wells, Halloween 2014.

Two Halloweens ago, we enjoyed a very nice night with friends trick-or-treating with our kids on the island of Spanish Wells.  We took the water taxi over to the island where we rented golf carts and drove up and down the streets stopping at decorated and festive houses.

Typical Halloween fare from Spanish Wells, including chips, juice pouches, and candies. 2014

The people of Spanish Wells hand out very unusual Halloween treats, such as juice boxes, bags of chips (expired mostly), weird candy (mostly gross), and pieces of fruit.  By the end of the night, the kids were full to bursting of sugary chub drinks and questionable candies.

Here are the kids headed to one of the festive houses on Spanish Wells.  Notice the golf cart with the box of chips in the back.  Not only do people wait outside their houses to hand out candy instead of ringing the bell, people also drive around with their "buggies" handing out goodies to those in the streets.  The treats come to you! 2014

When it was time to go home, we took the water taxi back across to Eleuthera where we hopped in our cars and drove the 45 minutes home.  It was a long but very fun night with friends.

Some Halloween-inspired artwork created by Linda, Paige, Phoebe, Josh, and Paula.  2015

This past Halloween of 2015, Jerry's parents were in town so we wanted to share with them the unique Halloween experience of Spanish Wells.  I'd reserved two golf carts weeks in advance and even called to confirm our reservation.

Can you see where this is headed?

No.  You can't.

No way.

Waiting at the dock for the water taxi to take us over to Spanish Wells for trick-or-treating. 2015

After arriving at the dock to take the water taxi over, we were told that no water taxis were going to be running after dark taking people back to Eleuthera.  What? How can the trick-or-treaters get back after their Halloween binge-fest?

They can't.  That's how.

It was only then that we heard that Spanish Wells-ers did not like how big their Halloween had become what with so many people coming from all over Eleuthera.  They didn't like the chaos and they were determined not to have it this year.

So they paid the "Knightrider" not to "ride" after dark; (he is usually the only taxi to go between Eleuthera and Spanish Wells after dark).  They hoped with no way home, less people would go across to the island.

They were right.  We saw car after car, dozens and dozens of dressed up local Bahamian children leave to go back home with tears in their eyes, full of disappointment that their Spanish Wells Halloween was ruined.

I know it sounds harsh.  But having lived in Del Rio on the Mexico border, I understand what the people of Spanish Wells were concerned about.  Every Halloween in Del Rio, thousands of people flock over from Mexico to trick-or-treat in the affluent neighborhoods of Del Rio.  Most were in costume, but many weren't, and more often than not, there were packs of people being driven from one house to the other, literally 50 yards, before flooding the front porches of the participating houses.  Due to the chaos caused by the traffic and thousands of people, many of our friends who lived in that area would come onto the Air Force base to trick-or-treat in the relative calm.

And so it was, on a smaller scale, in Spanish Wells.

So, did we pack it in and go home?

If you said yes, then you definitely don't know us very well.

My kids (on the left) sported custom-made Minecraft heads and baskets.  The three local S. W. kids on the right had store bought. 2015

Paige had been working for many months making custom-constructed Minecraft block heads and painted shirts.  She made one for herself, Josh, Phoebe, and their friend John.  No way was she not going to go trick-or-treating after all of her hard work.

Instead of taking the chance that we would all be stuck overnight in Spanish Wells, we decided to hedge our bets and get our own transportation back to Eleuthera if needed.  Jerry and his mom drove the hour back to our house and picked up our boat.  The kids, Jerry's dad, and I headed across to Spanish Wells.

Wouldn't you know it, but the golf car place that was closed had not put our name on any of the reserved golf carts.  (I guess they figured we wouldn't actually be coming across if their ban-Eleutherans plan worked.  They were wrong.)  Fortunately, our landlords live and work on Spanish Wells, so they were able to call the company and arrange to have someone meet us with the keys.

Now we had our cart; let the trick-or-treating begin!

(Kids, remember the guy dressed up like Superman driving around on a scooter, cape-a-flyin?)

As it was still quite early in the evening, we didn't get to visit too many houses.  The crowds were noticeably less and more subdued.  Just a night of locals visiting their local friends, but in costume.  (I should mention, the adults were just as likely to be in costumes as the children.  They really get into Halloween on S. W.)

After a few hours of driving around and completely filling their Minecraft-themed goodie box with juice chubs and chips, Jerry called to say that they were at the dock and were about to head over to S. W.

In the dark.  Without a light on the boat.  Through a shallow channel marred with pilings and underwater obstacles.  With only the flashlight on Jerry's iPhone. With my mother-in-law.

Oh, yeah, by the way, the boat trailer broke as he was putting the boat into the water, so we wouldn't be able to trailer the boat after coming back to Eleuthera.

This night just kept on getting better and better......

As we've done so many countless times, we made a quick plan, and as usual, we relied on friends for aid.  We called our good friends who live just across a small bridge from Spanish Wells, on Russell Island, and explained our predicament.  They told us that yes, the Knightrider wasn't "riding", but there was one water taxi making the nighttime run, so we didn't need our boat after all.


But, what was done was done.  So we decided to leave our boat in the boat slip our friends kept their boats and take the water taxi back across.  (Boats are safe to be left in Spanish Wells.  Way not safe in Eleuthera waters.)

I was supposed to meet Jerry and Linda at their boat slip, but as I couldn't find it in the dark, I ended up driving up and down the harbour street, looking for their boats and fussing about this that and the other.

It wasn't such a mature move on my part.

My fussing paid off, however, because Jerry, who was slowly motoring through the no-wake zone to the boat slip, heard me and called out to me so I could see where I was supposed to go.

We rendezvoused with Jerry and his mom and all together we went to the dock, boarded the water taxi, and headed for Eleuthera.

It was quite an adventure, especially for Jerry and Linda.  They now share a common, harrowing, night-boating experience neither are sure to forget. 

Guess what Linda gave Jerry for Christmas that year?

A searchlight bright enough to light a path, either on land or water, for miles. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Six months later....

We are back in the United States. As in, we've moved away from our island.

Long story.

We bought a house on the coast of North Carolina where we will live during the school year, and rent out during the summer. We'll go back to Eleuthera in the summers.

This summer, however, we are road tripping across America in our motorhome, mainly Colorado and Texas.

I will back-blog as time permits, filling in with the Eleuthera adventures and stories you've missed out on. And I will future-blog with our newest Stateside adventures.

Wherever we are, we will still need sunscreen.

At least now we have a mailing address.....

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Cure to Backseat-itis

There's something about putting my kids next to each other in that backseat that turns them into maniacs.

When we're in the Suburban, with all three rows so the kids can sit 2 to one row, and 1 alone in another, all is right with the world.

But woah.  You put all three kids together on the same row, and a chasm of sibling rivalry opens and engulfs all three of them in, "She's touching me!  He started it!  Don't lean on me!  I did that so much better than you!  I can't move!  Blah blah blah, made up complaints, blah blah blah!"

I figure my kids are lucky and unlucky.  They're lucky in that they have two loving parents who love each other, we live in paradise, have resources to live and give comfortably, and we can school from home.  They're unlucky, at least maybe in their pre-teen minds, in that we discipline and don't take too much backtalk and lip from them when they get testy and hyper.


If you've got enough energy to cause royal havoc in my backseat, both verbal and physical, you can put that overabundance to good use and get your core and chest in shape.

So if you see a black Suburban on a side street, pulled to a stop, surrounded by three redheads pounding out push-ups on the uncomfortable asphalt, it's just us.

Working out our problems.

One push-up at a time.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Pink Flop Birthday

When Phoebe turned six, I decided it was time she was introduced to the magic and wonder that is Barbie.

But first, here's a bit of backstory:

Phoebe is the baby of the family, behind the oldest big sister who is the ultimate, hyper tomboy, and then a middle child brother who is also a tomboy.  Meaning he likes all things boy.

Phoebe was raised with cars, not dolls.  Going topless, not fairy dresses.  Burping and farting, not twirling and giggling.


She really does like dolls, fairy dresses, twirling and giggling.  Or so I thought.

So in my infinite mom-wisdom, I advised all of the grandmas and aunts, great-grandmas and friends, to bombard Phoebe with the pinkest, most Barbie birthday imaginable.

Paige and Josh were under strict orders not to tease, harass, or make-fun of Phoebe and her Barbies on pain of loss of iPad for a month.

Upon opening her over-abundance of Walmart pink-aisle gifts, Phoebe was a good sport and pretended to be happy.  She delighted in assembling the Barbie car, boat, and cottage.  She dressed Barbie and the little girl Barbie chick.

It was just how I imagined it.  A little six year old, awash in the glow of pink Barbie fantasy awesomeness.

It was great.  Greatness that lasted all of 6.4 minutes.

Then Phoebe and Josh started undressing Ken and Barbie, throwing them around by their hair, and stuffing them in the Barbie convertible in all kinds of uncomfortable positions.

Lesson learned.

Can you see it?  In this last photo?  The pleading look on Phoebe's face?

"Mom, please.  No more pink.  No more Barbie.  Please get me a gun, a holster, a stuffed vulture, and a dress up costume of something only mildly cute, like a jaguar.  But NO MORE BARBIES!"

I've learned my lesson.  So this year, at least for Christmas, she personally picked out every toy and plaything she wanted online, with nary a suggestion from me.  Except that it be "Prime".

Let the stuffed animals and boy toys arrive!

Barbie and Ken?  Get back in the bathtub nekkid where Phoebe left you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Opposite Vacation

 As with just about everything else with us, we do things a bit differently than everyone else.

Where do most people go during the week?  Shopping, to places like Walmart, Target, IKEA, and the toy store.

Where do you we during the week?  A tropical island beach.

Where do most people go on vacation?  To a tropical island beach.

Where do we go on vacation?  Shopping, to places like Walmart, Target, IKEA, and the toy store.

See?  Different.

On our island, we don't have name brand stores.  Not one.  No Walmart.  No Target.  No Dollar Tree.  No McDonald's, KFC, Sonic, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Publix, or anything.

We do have a "7 to 11", that is, ironically, open from 6am to 10pm.

So when we have an excuse to go back to the States, usually Fort Lauderdale, we take advantage of all of the inexpensive 'Merica prices and hit the big-name stores.

This trip, during July of 2014, was in honor of Phoebe's birthday.  First stop, Toy-r-Us!

Phoebe wandered the aisles in a haze of indifferent indecision and left with just about nothing.  Yes.  My children say they love toys, but they don't.  They just don't.

Toys-r-Us was a bust.  But you know what is never a bust?  Walmart.  Wally-World always brings a smile.

Ah, I remember well, the days in Del Rio when I scoffed at buying produce at Walmart.  The ONLY place to buy decent produce was at HEB.  Walmart was better of course than the commissary, but still.  Yuck.

Ha!  When comparing the barely edible produce we can buy here on Eleuthera with the produce of Walmart, I am forced to eat my words; literally.  When we go back to the states, we hit the Walmart for everything, including the huge, colorful, well-stocked, high variety produce section.

Oh, the berries.  The fresh apples that aren't squishy.  The oranges that aren't wrinkled and pitted.  The lettuce that won't turn brown and mushy in 1.2 days after purchase.

Walmart produce section, I'd like to offer you my sincere apologies.  I was mistaken, spoiled, and ignorant of the condition of "produce" sections of other, poorer parts of the world.

We buy a million clam shells full of every berry ever discovered, and then gorge ourselves to the point of disgust.  That way we won't want to even see a berry for the next 2-3 months before we go back to Fort Lauderdale.

After Walmart, we always stop by IKEA a few times for fun.  What could be fun about a furniture and home accessories store when you're not buying furniture or home accessories? 

The meatballs.

And the kitchen gadgets.  And the daydreaming that can be done by a stay-at-home-mom who doesn't live in her own house and dreams in IKEA. 

Another fun find in IKEA, on this particular trip, was this artistic figurine chorus line and greeting party.  That's always a fun surprise.

But mostly it's for the meatballs that we love IKEA.  And the kitchen gadgets.

There's one more feature to any good vacation, and that's the hotel swimming pool.  Nothing is better than this when the kids are full of pent-up energy after following you around stores, up and down aisle, repeatedly hearing, "No.  We're not buying that for you." 

All you need is water, a swimsuit for the kids, a bottle of wine or two for the tired out parents, and you've got yourself a grade A vacation. 

Repeat every 2-3 months as necessary. 

And that's how we do an opposite vacation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jerry in Africa

What's Jerry up to at work, you may wonder?  Where does he fly?  What does he fly?  Does he like it?  Is he happy?

Here are the answers to those questions and more in this one-on-none interview with Jerry.  (Today, the part of Jerry will be played by me, Paula.)

Interviewer:  So, Jerry.  Tell us about your work.  What do you fly?

Jerry:  I fly the Boeing 787 for United Airlines.

Interviewer:  What is the plane like?

Jerry:   With the nickname, Dreamliner, you can get a sense of the dreaminess of this plane.  We pilots even have our own sleeping quarters so we can sleep half of the trip and get paid very well while we nap.  It's a great job.

Interviewer:  I see.  That sounds like a good gig.  How many pilots are on the plane?  Who's flying while you're sleeping?

Jerry:  There are four pilots; 2 captains and 2 copilots.  We take turns flying while the other sleeps.  We are awake and alert while in the cockpit, though everything, including landing, is automated so basically I sit there and make sure nothing goes wrong.  But if it does, we are highly trained to avoid disaster. 

Interviewer:  Where do you fly regularly?

Jerry:  The 787 does long haul trips, such as transcontinental and overseas.  Because I have to commute in for each of my trips, I typically try to fly the Lagos, Nigeria trip because I can commute in on the same day I leave for the trip, and get home the same day I get back from the trip.  And it pays the most for the least amount of time gone from home.  I fly three trips per month, each trip is three nights away from home.  I work the minimum I can to maximize time at home.  I have a boat that needs a captain and fish that need killing.

Interviewer:  I bet flying to Nigeria is a long flight.  Why would United fly to Nigeria?  What's there?

Jerry:  It's a 12 hour flight.  I sleep for half of it so it's OK.  Lagos has a population of 20 million people and a recent influx of oil discoveries in Nigeria has increased US interest in the area.  Oil, you know, black gold.

Interviewer:  Do you feel safe flying there?  What about ebola?  Terrorists?  Mosquitoes?

Jerry:  We are safe and are well covered in the security department.  We drive from the airport to a hotel where the aircrew hang out together, sleep, workout, eat in the restaurant, or watch fifteen thousand hours of Netflix.  I have become a Netflix addict. 

Interviewer:  Do you ever venture out into the surrounding neighborhoods?

Jerry:  Nope.  It's loud with cars honking and people shouting.  There's really nowhere to go. 

Interviewer:  But what about ebola?  And mosquitoes?

Jerry:  Because we don't venture out into the city, our exposure to those particular African evils are limited.  I avoid direct contact with anyone in the airport or hotel.  Or so I tell my wife, who is awesome by the way, but prone to health anxiety and an overactive imagination, and a fascination with all things medical.

Interviewer:  Tell me more about your wife.  She sounds interesting. 

Jerry:  She's the best woman in the world.  She can manage the house and kids without me and I know things will be OK when I'm gone.  She's a fabulous cook and keeps a meticulously clean house.  She's never short-tempered or loses her patience. 

Interviewer:  Wow.  That's glowing praise.  It's almost as if she were speaking for you.

Jerry:  What?  No way.  Couldn't be.  But......maybe.......

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sailing Camp

One week in July is the yearly sailing camp, held by the Eleuthera Swim and Sail Club.  The camp, and weekly sailing club, meet on the beach of Cupid's Cay, Govornor's Harbour, Eleuthera.

For a week, the kids get to learn about sailing, swim, paddle board, enjoy friendly competitions and races, and make new friends. There are Opti's for the younger sailors, and Sunfish for the older sailors.  The family who runs camp and club, volunteer their time and experience to make this a very fun week for the participants. 

Each day includes stretching, partner exercises, sailing instruction, swimming, and mounds of teen and preteen jibber-jabber. 

Josh and his soon to be best friend John got to sail first in one of the Opti's, carefully instructed by a volunteer sailor.  Watch out for the boom, John!

While the kids waited their turn with a sailboat, they could swim, take out one of the paddleboards, and hang out with friends.  Any time anyone was in the water, they had to wear a life jacket, no matter their swimming skill.  

Phoebe, wanna go out on the boat?

Phoebe was put in a boat all by herself, despite her having just turned 6.  She was assigned a one-on-one volunteer to teach her and stay near her as she learned her way around the Opti. 

No.  I wasn't a nervous dang wreck while sitting on the beach taking photos of Phoebe as my baby, with a mere five minute sailing lesson, sped off with the wind. 

Nah.  Not nervous at all.  I didn't want to yell and shout and scream and jump into the water fully clothed and swim out to save my baby from accidentally sailing away to Cuba. 

She was good.  The wind was mild, the instructors nearby, and a rescue boat was patrolling the bay.  They'd get her. 

I hoped.


Phoebe?  Where are you going?

Um, Phoebe.  This isn't funny.