R 'n R in Florida

Trip Start Aug 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 30, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, September 9, 2006

When you need a break, you head to FL, right? Once Chris got the bad news that Blue did not need a new water pump, but instead, a harmonic convergence (or balancer or something, I can't get it right), and the parts had to be ordered from Houston, well, it was clear we would be spending more days in Gulfport, which just was not an option, in my humble opinion, so we rented a car, and drive to Tallahassee. We overnighted with Chris' aunt, Bobbi. Bobbi is one of those amazing people you meet once in a lifetime. In her sixties, she has more energy than the population of the state of Mississippi. She's just been picked to oversee the elections in Bosnia and leaves at the end of the month. She did this in 2004 in Ukraine, before heading off to Chile to teach for a year... you should see the world map in her office - talk about having pins on every continent! Anyway, Bobbi put us up for the night, made us fruit muffins (mmmmmmmm!!) and then off we went to Tampa to visit our friends Ryan and Aimee, their daughter Louisa and Kazak kitty.

Kazak kitty is this teenincy little cat that Ryan and Aimee adopted while in Kazakhstan for the Peace Corps. She's a love sponge... just purrs all the time, is great with Louisa, and loves to be up high if she can... Louisa is now two. When I called Ryan to tell him we were coming their way, I asked if he had been following the blog and he said, "not really, um, Louisa just turned two."

"'Nuff said," I replied.

Being two, for those of you who don't know yet or have forgotten, means temper tantrums, high decibel screaming just to see what her vocal cords are capable of (and mommy and daddy's nerves), and non-stop activity. I have SO much respect for parents... and know my own limits ;-)

It was brought to my attention that during my visit to my sister's place, I neglected to mention anything about my nephew, Ryan, also in the range of the terrible twos (he will be two in a few weeks). Ryan (my nephew, not our friend in Tampa - keep up with me here) is like Tom Cruise. You can say Tom Cruise is an alien, or a brainwashed freak Scientologist, or that he's gay, or whatever, but you have to admit, he's a really good looking man... Ryan is one of those beautiful babies. Tow-headed, amazing smile, cherubic features, etc... even if you don't like kids, you can't deny he's a gorgeous, model-quality kid. Problem was, we were at my sister's so briefly and unannounced, that we didn't spend any time with Ryan other than Chris shooting pictures of him as my sister gave us a tour of the farm. We got in too late and he was already asleep, and then he was off to daycare and my sister and brother in law off to work. But there is no question that Ryan is adorable, and in his new Tom Arma Halloween costume, I am sure he will be the cutest monkey in town. If she's smart, my sister will send a photo of Ryan to Tom Arma and get Ryan a modeling deal with Arma. Get the kid's college find off to a good start, you know?

It was also brought to my attention by a few folks that my blog has been a bit "cat heavy." I know, I know, but everyone has a right to their opinion ;-) One of the reasons I haven't really talked about the people we've been interviewing (e.g. the purpose of the trip) is because to do it right, I'd want to transcribe their audio interviews and that just is not happening right now. Plus, since Chris is shooting film, I don't have photos of everyone.

But anyway, back to Tampa... Ryan, for those of you who have not seen his work, is a very talented photographer. He was off to yet another (Ryan has had more than one career in his lifetime, something I think is awesome and says a lot about his many talents) promising career as a professional photojournalist in DC when Aimee got accepted to the Applied Anthropology program at USF. Having just had Louisa, Ryan and Aimee elected to move to Tampa for a few years while she matriculates. Ryan is now currently a fabulous Mr. Mom and a part time professional photographer. Thing is, like everything he does, he's really really good at being Mr. Mom. Anyway, if you need a photographer in the Tampa region of Florida (or anywhere, he will travel ;-), call him. www.ryankmorris.com

This is not the most flattering photo of Ryan, but it is pretty hilarious. Chris shot it just after Ryan got stung on the nose by a wasp. Of course by posting this photo, I've opened Chris up to Ryan posting the picture of him at the dentist without his front caps LOL

The main reason for going to Tampa was to get Chris' film processed. Sadly, we could not find a professional lab that could handle 4x5 C-41... much less 167 sheets of it with contact sheets! We tried Mobile, Pensacola, Tallahassee, all to no avail. In Tampa, Ryan found a lab that was able to handle the job, and was willing to open for us on Saturday to finish the job before Monday. I am happy to say that Chris has been shooting some really nice stuff. Some of these portraits are so up close and personal, I feel uncomfortable looking at them for too long, as if I'm invading their personal space... The one of the "cat killer" is especially creepy for obvious reasons. And then there's this one guy who is re-living his sister's death during the hurricane... his eyes are so pain-filled, it just breaks your heart.

Chris and I have never had a desire to have children, and as each of our coupled friends have taken the plunge, it further cements our decision. However, I do take a perverse pleasure in teaching impressionable young'uns, er, tricks, if you will. Some of my favorites are as follows:

Take a ramped up child, preferably two or three years of age, get their attention. Issue the following commands:

"Put your hands on your head!"
"Touch your toes!"
"Do a somersault!"
"Put your fingers in your nose!"

Laugh hysterically at the last command, to reiterate how important that one is over any of the others. For best results, do not administer sugar until *after* the desired result is achieved at least 2-3 times. Sugar will decrease the attention span, and will almost certainly result in a crying jag at some point.

Especially suited for boys, age 4-7, is the art of hand-farting. Little boys LURVE hand-farts. In fact, they love them so much, I like to show them different techniques. Usually, they get so ramped up at the idea that a grown-up is encouraging them to do something they instinctively know is guaranteed to embarrass mom and dad, that the finer nuances of hand-farting are lost on them. However, you can bet your sweet bippy they will practice until perfect and debut their new talent at *THE* worst time possible (new boss and wife over for dinner; in the dressing room at Victoria's Secret while mom's trying on a new bra and panty outfit that isn't on sale; or in church during communion).

I can assure you, no one ever asks me to baby-sit for very long. But, all kidding aside, my policy on visiting friends with kids is this: if you visit them in their home, and you *know* they have kids, by entering the door, you automatically agree to give mom and dad a break with the kids. Hell, if I had kids, I'd hand 'em off as soon as visitors came through the door!

"Gotta fly, need to get my hair done, legs waxed, a pedicure and manicure, then off to browse the shelves at the local bookstore, followed by a movie, and last call at a bar that used to be on 5th Street before I got pregnant, hope it's still there, see you later!"

So with that in mind, I was happy to entertain Louisa as much as Louisa wanted... Chris on the other hand is more of a, "if you tell me I gotta, I will rise to the occasion" person, but he doesn't see it as the cost of room and board like I do... So, it was with great pleasure that Ryan and I handed Louisa to Chris to bounce on his leg. He responded with appropriate enthusiasm, bouncing Louisa until she screamed with glee...

Unbeknownst to Chris, Ryan and I had just witnessed Louisa pause in the middle of dancing, get a real dreamy look on her face, utter a few grunts and then announce to the world, "Poop! Poop!" I immediately scooped her up, avoiding the new creation, and took her to Chris. Ryan took so many pictures we might have enough for a short video... Please refer to the photo album of this post for the highlights...

Seriously, if I had a two year old, I'd be video-taping the mad mood swings and screaming fits - to someone who doesn't have to deal non-stop, it's hilarious!! Poor little things, their whole bodies just contort with each passing mood wave... you can see the fit happening, and then BAM! they're laughing again. One minute dancing, the next minute they are down on the floor, howling in indignation that someone walked in front of the radio... they can fall down and smack their forehead on concrete and get up laughing.... or screaming at the top of their lungs, mouth agape like a Peanuts character singing a Christmas carol... crazy shit! And try telling them they need a nap... Hell NO, they won't GO! It's like you just told 'em that they can't have anymore ice cream... I mean, even I know when a "No" is going to evoke the wrath of Khan, and parents who still do it ought to be awarded a medal, because it's pure bravery... Anyway, if'n it were me, I'd get a good edit and throw it out on utube or one of those sights... anonymously, of course...

(Disclaimer: the above is not intended to be a commentary of Louisa's behavior. The actions described above are a composite of many two year olds, including the one we saw in a parking lot today with her grandparents)

Things we LOVE
Friends we can call up at the last minute and say, "hey, we're coming your way... can we pick up anything for you on our way in?"

Things we HATE
Seeing dogs running along the highway late at night, pulling over and then not being able to find them but knowing it's just a matter of time before they cross and get hit...
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dearmasa on

Re: a little correction
Oops! Thanks so much, and thaks for reading...

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