Friday was wonderful in so many ways.
Friday was Jace’s birthday. There’s nothing I love more than an excuse to celebrate that wonderful boy.
Friday was day filled with sun, and everyone knows how much I love those.
Everyone was hyper. Including me. Aria wanted me to wear her “sunnies” and I was more than happy to oblige.
And then there was the round of excitement where the kids are all ready and we’re just waiting for the mothers to get home from the nail salon. It included things like running around chasing the bird and me unsuccessfully trying to throw Aria to Jace on the second floor.
Then, FINALLY, the cooler was loaded and everyone was properly lathered in sunblock and we had all the necessary plastic pool toys and flimsy noodles perfect for hitting kids on the head. We were sufficiently prepared for the magical pool that is always the highlight of resting our heads in this tiny town.
I perfected my dive in the adult pool and then played tag with the kids in the little pool. I spent the afternoon in the hot Texas sun darting through caves and underneath waterfalls fighting through the water to get just close enough to tag my siblings and be relieved from the heavy responsibility of being “it”. I gave dolphin rides and helped with handstands and spent hours supervising and participating in trips down the winding waterslide.
I mean honestly, the lake surrounding the pool looked just as inviting. Maybe not to anyone other than me, but that was good enough for me. Oh, and that’s a security guard making his rounds, ensuring that people don’t get roughed up in the cave, Texas style.
Jace had the most fun, since it was his birthday.
Actually he just really hates pictures.
Everything really is bigger in Texas, right down to the summer winds that topple entire tables, spilling vanilla bean dip on my bag and my shorts and causing little children to run in terror.
Regardless, I think it was safe to say everyone had fun.
[Tell me that’s not an Alyssa smile right there.]
Despite the circumstances, made worse by idiotic words and untimely text messages, she is getting better, back to her normal self. Proof? The first thing she did when we got here was clean out the fridge despite the protestings of the owner. And on one of their shopping trips she brought me home a white cardigan because she saw one and knew I needed one. Hello, Normal Nicole. I have missed you.
After spending an ample amount of time in the pool we decided to take the paddle boats for a ride around the lake. Our first attempt was aboard the African Queen. Full of excitement and energy, we boarded the dinky little plastic boat.
Jace and Jada braced themselves and started paddling backwards furiously, fighting the wind and a hole that was throwing off the navigation of the boat.
It became clear after a few minutes that we weren’t getting anywhere and that it had nothing to do with the determination of the paddlers. We ran aground only a few minutes after departing and had to be rescued by a maintenance worker named Sam who assisted us from the banks with a shovel.
We returned to the dock, exchanged our unreliable African Queen for a trusty yellow duck, and headed off once more.
We rounded the first bend after quite a delay much to the delight of our supporters, elated to see us and relieved that we’d made it the first few yards.
Jace and I were the resident paddlers. I doubt Jada could have made it very far, bless her short-legged heart.
See how my wrist no longer has a watch on it? That was the only lasting casualty from this trip. I have really bad luck with watches meeting Texas. It never ends well. I feel very lost without my watch.
I took a break after the exhausting ride to take some more pictures, drink water, and then resume documenting. The three girls decided to brave the waters on their own. We advised them to take the duck.
I ran to the other side of the complex to take some more picture and found them pulling up to the bank to see if I’d seen them get soaked by the water fountain. The girls were delighted because “Mom took us ALL THE WAY through it and got SOAKED! Even in her HAT!”. I was sad to have missed it, but they were thrilled to have an excuse to do it again.
I have to say, I was perplexed. They didn’t seem to touch the water at all. I thought maybe I had missed something, or maybe the wind was carrying the water further than I could see. As it turned out, the wind was just pushing them too fast for me to get a picture. So they circled around with their weary legs and tried again.
It was such a beautiful day, such clear water, so free of stress and so filled with happiness.
At the end of the day the ladies left to “start dinner” [read: get first dibs on shower] while Jace and I led the kids in sucking every last drop of fun and sun out of the day. We loaded everything up into the car, winced as the hot seats burned our already burned legs, and drove home.
While the girls started showering and actually staring dinner Jace, John, and I went to the store to get some essentials we were missing. Here’s the thing about Texas: everything is far away. There’s just no getting around it. The store we went to was 45 minutes away. Wal-Mart is a good 20 minutes away. The nearest gas station is further away than our closest Wal-Mart in Florida. It’s something I’ve noticed about the mid-west that I’m not sure I’m fond of. I miss the convenience of Florida—everything is around the corner. School, church, stores, libraries, parks, EVERYTHING is less than eight minutes away (even less if I’m the one driving). But out here there’s a big separation between commercial and residential. The houses are here. There are a few of them. The stores are there. There are a few of them. There are never a million or either, and the two rarely overlap. The roads are wide and endless, as are the fields of dead yellow that encompass them. I certainly don’t love that. What I do love is the speed limits here. That is one thing that is consistently bigger here. The lowest speed limit I’ve seen is 45 mph. Roads that would be 45 in Florida are 65 here. Love that. Except that people here don’t appreciate it at all. I still fly past people as I drive legally. We got to the store after a long drive listening to Motownphilly a few times and took our time browsing through all the oddities. We ended up getting sushi and salt and vinegar chips just for the ride home. We’d hate to starve on the long trek. Man that was some gooood sushi.
We made it back home, already hungry again because of the long and grueling drive. We were please to find a delicious Mexican dinner awaiting us—quesadillas and Poblano peppers and yellow rice and chips and salsa and all the other highlights of Americanized Mexican cuisine.
Then it was time for the festivities.
I love Jace so much. He is such a wonderful, upstanding boy. He has taken on so much responsibility and always willingly does all the ‘man’ things—kill the roach and carry the heavy things and check the tire pressure. He has such a big heart and is so eager to protect us all. He is the most wonderful brother I could ask for.
The girls started by getting him to walk under the landing and then dumping balloons on him.
After the ceremonial balloon dropping we feasted on cheesecake and homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.
After singing and appropriately being amazed and thrilled by his gifts we continued the party by playing spoons. Well…some of us played while others wrestled and made rules for their secret club.
Spoons is an intense game in this house, not to be taken lightly.
Everyone had their game faces on.
Most especially our newly sixteen year old.
The next morning was Saturday. [I’m Rebecca Black here to tell you that Saturday comes after Friday. And Sunday comes after thaaat.] Saturday means Saturday jobs, wherever you are. We vacuumed and started laundry and cleaned the kitchen.
See that? That is every one of my siblings cleaning. At the same time. Someone else’s house. They are wonderful when they want to be.
Later that afternoon we got to have the adventure of a lifetime. I packed up the little girls and drug them to Plano to see some wonderful people. We swam in a volleyball and played with girls that I named Pistol and Starfish and Rainbow and Sunshine. Then we had tacos and watched National Treasure. It was a grand evening. And it’s always an adventure being the adult and dragging my little fan club everywhere I go.
You know a family loves you when you find pieces of yourself on their fridge.
I feel very loved.
[Title from Fearless by Taylor Swift]