A Tale of Two Tables

 

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It was just about two years ago, in November of 2017, that a huge change happened in our lives.  It was on November 9th of that year, that we sold our Mineola house, a place that had been home to the D’Elia Family for 31 years, and we officially became full time residents of Ocean City, NJ.  It was a major change in the life of two people who had never known anyplace else but Long Island as home (Susie and I), and an emotional issue with leaving a home that our 3 children had grown up in….including for our 3 children!  I don’t think I’ve written about this before, so here’s brief recap to set up today’s story.

As often times happens, the anticipation of doing something causes you to put it off, and then once you’ve done it, you realize how stupid you were for dragging your feet.  That was our case when we faced the prospect of selling our house!  Our anticipation was that it would take months, and that it would be a painful process involving realtors, and all kinds of folks traipsing through our house.  Our reality was that one of the people that had told us they were interested in the house, came by with their family one afternoon and before we went to bed that night, they made an offer, and we accepted!  Never put the house on the market, never dealt with one realtor, never experienced one bit of pain, but afterwards wondered why we’d waited so long to do it!

The night they made their offer was a little less than 3 months before we went to closing, and our main job during those 3 months (besides a two week trip out to the West Coast to meet our prospective Son-in-Law Chris’ family), was figuring out how to empty the Mineola house.  We’d already taken the things we wanted to Ocean City, and all three of our kids had staked their claims on other items, and even some friends had taken a few items, but the sad Baby Boomer truth is, that we’re all looking to get rid of things, and NOBODY wants them!  Not our kids, not folks running tag sales, not even neighbors!  So, in the end, as the closing date got closer and closer, we had to pay somebody to empty out our house!

Now the clock wasn’t our friend, and as the closing date got closer, we got more and more desperate to just move on, and walk away from the Mineola House.  In the past two years, since Ocean City became our one and only home,  I can’t tell you how many times we have gone looking for something, only to realize that it was obviously one of those things we just left in the house, in haste, to be dealt with by the folks cleaning it out!  The list runs from things in the garage like snow brushes and shovels for the car, to snack tables, that we’d used for years, and that we have regretted leaving so many times since!  This, then, is the tale of those two tables!

These were well made, heavy oak snack tables, that we’d originally bought on one of our yearly trips to the Amish Country in and around Lancaster Pennsylvania.  We’d first bought one for my Mom as a Christmas present, and then added two more for our use on a subsequent trip.  We probably used them in the living room a couple of nights a week.  Sometimes they were the base for take-out food, or other times we used them when we had a meal we needed to use a knife and fork with (which necessitated sitting at a table, because you couldn’t do that with a plate on your lap!), and sometimes, just a base for Susie to write Christmas cards or such. 

We really don’t remember if we made a conscious decision to leave the snack tables, or it was just an oversight on our part, but we’ve missed them so many times over the past 2 years.  Wednesday, we spent the day righting that mistake, and along the way, we also took care of several other missions!

On our yearly trips to Amish Country, we always stopped at King’s Furniture.  It was place the kids loved to explore, and the place that Susie pined over a beautiful dining room set that ultimately came to live in our Mineola House (and one piece of which now lives in the den of our Ocean City House), so we knew exactly where we’d bought them!  Recently, I proposed to Susie that we spend a day, and make a great loop route through Pennsylvania, Delaware, and back to New Jersey, and in the process we hit King’s Furniture, then Total Wines in Delaware, and then Bagliani’s Italian Market in Hammonton, NJ before returning home.  And that’s exactly what we did on Wednesday!!

We left the house a little after 7:15 in the morning, and arrived at King’s Acres a little after 10.  The day was cold and clear, and the Amish countryside was as beautiful as always, and a little after 10:30 AM, we were back at the car, putting two lovely snack tables into the back seat!  Mission 1 accomplished and a wrong corrected that had been waiting 2 years to be made right!

Then we were off on the return part of our loop drive to Claymont, Delaware, and one of our multi-time a year visits to Total Wine & More!  It being mid-November, this trip would go down as our 2019 Holiday visit, and provide us with wine and spirits for Thanksgiving, Christmas and through to New Year, plus holiday gift items!  The prices are excellent, and there is no tax on liquor or wine in Delaware, so it’s a win/win!  

On the way home, we made a stop in Hammonton, NJ so that we could buy some of the great cheeses and sausages they have at Bagliani’s Italian Market!  A great end to a great day!

We left Ocean City about 7:20 in the morning and arrived back around 3:30.  In between, we traveled 257 miles, went through New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Delaware, drove briefly through Pennsylvania again, and back to New Jersey.  We replaced two tables that had slipped away from us two years ago, we stocked up on wine and liquor for the holidays, and stopped off at our favorite NJ Italian Market for some goodies!  All in all, a good day In Our Humble Opinion!

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Family Life Changes

 

When our three kids were younger, we were very lucky that our immediate family lived minutes, not hours or days away!  Susie’s Mom and Dad were in Hempstead and later East Meadow. My Mom was in Bayside. Susie’s sister and family were in Huntington, and her brother and his wife in Merrick.  We, living in Mineola, were pretty much in the geographic center of our entire family.  A 20 to 30 minute drive, got us to any of their houses, so casual drop-ins were very easy to do.  

Then there were holidays.  The hardest thing to decide about most holidays was who was going to host, and what could the rest bring.  It seemed very normal and natural, and we never really realized how lucky we were.  Our oldest son Billy reminded us of this fact of his childhood recently, but now, as the title of this piece says, family life changes!

Life has indeed changed, and Susie and I are at the center of those changes.   We were both born geographically on Long Island…Susie in Amityville, and me in Jackson Heights, in the New York City Borough of Queens.  Our entire married life, we lived in Nassau County…first Port Washington, then New Hyde Park, and from 1986 to 2017, in the same house in Mineola.  Over time, Susie retired (June of 2013), I retired (January, 2016), and then we moved out of the Mineola house (November, 2017).  We not only moved out of Mineola, we moved off Long Island and out of New York State, and made the house we’d owned at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey since 2005 our forever home! 

Changes happened in our three children’s lives too.  First, they are all married!  Krissi and her husband Mike live in Astoria, in the NYC borough of Queens.  Krissi’s twin brother Kenny and his husband Chris have just finished  up a year long contract on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, but before that, they were in Los Angelos, and who knows exactly where they will end up.  Oldest son Bill and his wife Lori made the move a couple of years ago off of Long Island down to Raleigh, North Carolina, along with our Grandchildren Layla and Henry, and just bought a brand new house as their family has grown with the addition of our newest Grandchild, Annabelle, 6 months ago.  So, like many American families, our family is now spread out, and we no longer have the luxury of living 20 to 30 minutes from each other.

On a recent weekend, however, we made the effort and were rewarded by spending some family time with two thirds of our children, their spouses, and our three Grandkids!  Susie and I took the 8+ hour drive from Ocean City to Raleigh on Thursday morning.  Krissi and her husband Mike flew down from New York after work on Friday, and it was a weekend of family, fun, and babysitting!  Just the best!!

Week #2

Kind of like I did last week, I’m basically going to post a bunch of pictures of Week 2 of our cruise, and briefly talk about them.  Too much to do, too much to see, too much to remember, so, if there wasn’t a picture, we may not remember it happened!  

As I briefly noted at the end of week one, after saying goodbye to Jeanne and Walt on Saturday night, turnaround day in Galveston on Sunday September 29th, also happened to be our 40th Wedding Anniversary!  We started with Mimosas at one of the boys Sunday hang-outs, Brewchachos, and then it was off to Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boys treated us to a wonderful Anniversary Lunch!

After a beautiful Sail-A-Way, Chris had to get ready for the first parade of the week, and we visited Sorrento’s pizza on the Royal Promenade and found a good place to watch Chris perform from!

After parade, the boys joined us on a trip to the casino and a little gambling!

Monday was an alone day for Mom and Dad, as the boys had a tech run, and then 2 performances of In The Air that night.  We spent the day wandering the ship, including lunch at Giovanni’s Table, and one of our favorite non- participation spots, watching the flow rider.

This was also the night of the Captain’s Cocktail Party, so a dress-up night, but this week, since we’d already participated in the Captain’s party the week before, we decided to give up a glass of cheap champagne, for a drink in the R Bar!  A good decision on our part! Then it was time for the first show of In The Air!

The following brief video will show you one of the highlights of seeing our youngest perform.  Mom always get’s thrown a kiss from her baby!

We went to both shows, and once again there was pizza between, and a trip to the casino after!

The next day was a day we’d been waiting for since we were on the ship last March.  The port of call was Roatan, Honduras, and our excursion was a trip to Captain Jack’s and a visit to one of the sweetest women, Babe!  A haunt of the boys every visit to Roatan, we’d met Babe in March and fallen in love!  When they were last there, the boys had told her we’d be with them on their next stop, and we both got a huge hug from her and a wonderful greeting!  It was a fun day with incredible drinks, some colorful shots Babe gifted us, and the best Coconut Shrimp, Fried Plantains, and Conch Fritters in the Caribbean!!  We were joined by Kenny and Chris fellow cast members Martha (from Scotland) and Lee (from Ireland), and a great time was had by all! “Chaars…Bonkers!”

Going on one of these cruises with the boys are a blend of together time and alone time.  They are, obviously, working while we’re there, so although we love spending time with them, they’ve got shows and other duties to take care of when we’re on the ship, so Mom and Dad get to explore and enjoy some alone time too!  We head to the Windjammer buffet for meals, watch crew member drills, hit the pool and hot tub, and marvel and some of the outfits fellow passengers cram in their luggage!

But then, there are the shows!  Nothing better than watching “Our Boys” on the stage, doing what they love and what they’re very good at! They both come alive up there, and just watching them makes us happy and confirms that they are exactly where they belong!  A couple of highlights from Saturday Night Fever…look for Kenny’s Mommy kiss at the end of the second video!

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We awoke in Cozumel to find our huge sister ship,  Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, tied up across the pier from us, and knew that it would be a busy day in Cozumel as it’s 6000+ passengers would be joining our 4000+, as well passengers from the several other ships in port.  Not to worry though, we were going to have a “Kenny and Chris Day in Cozumel”, following them as they visited some of their favorite non-tourist locations!  There were Margaritas and Beers at a favorite stop, incredible burritos at a locals only little hole-in-the wall place, and then some more Margaritas and Pina Coladas before heading back to the ship!

That night was the second Formal Night of the week, and the four of us put our best foot forward, as we dined in the Main Dining Room, visited our friends in the R Bar (where Lee and Martha and Martha’s Mom and Aunt joined us), and concluded the night in the casino where bartender Jay kept us all well supplied!!

Getting back to the cabin, we found something we’d been dreading since we signed on almost two weeks before…LUGGAGE TAGS to be used when leaving the cruise on Sunday!

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Saturday morning, Susie spent some time packing, and when she felt she had it well under control, we met up with Kenny in Vintages Wine Bar for some late morning champagne and to wait the start of the last Parade of the week, and watch “Admiral” Fox put the troops through their paces!!

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After Chris got changed, it was together time for D’Elia/Fox Family Time!

Our first stop was Olive or Twist, the lounge at the top of the ship.  Great drinks, and great views!

That night, we once again dined with Nelson at Chops Grill, were we were surprised with a lovely Anniversary serenade.

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After a nice meal, it was time for our last trip to the R Bar, and to say goodbye to 3 ladies that had become good friends over the past two weeks!  A sad night for us, but we were very happy to have met and got to know Irena, Shannelle, and Kisa during our time on the Liberty! 

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Getting off the ship the next morning was a breeze, as was picking up our rental car at Enterprise, and way before they expected to see us, we rendezvoused with the boys on the Strand, and were off to Walmart for their last supply trip of the year!

Then, it was a last lunch with the boys at The Spot on Galveston Beach…

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before visiting with their bartender friend Sophie at Patricks Bar, before we dropped them off back at the Liberty, and Susie and I began our drive to Houston.

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Our flight was scheduled out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport just before noon on Monday, and we spent a relaxing night at a Homewood Suites just outside the airport.  After two weeks of wonderful meals, in specialty restaurants, the main dining room, and even Sorrento’s Pizza on the Promenade Deck, this was our last meal of the trip…

Then it was time to wing our way back to Philadelphia International Airport, get the Honda, and drive down the Atlantic City Expressway to home!  A great two plus weeks away, but, It’s Good to Be Home!!

Week 1

We’ve just spent the last seven days, sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, the ship our boys Kenny and Chris work on, and we were accompanied by my cousins, Jeanne and Walter Pratt. Our ports were Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth, Jamaica. The trip worked out exactly like we’d hoped…we were together when we wanted, apart at other times. 

I’m not gonna do a play by play blog here, but mostly some annotated pictures of our week.  Sometimes we were all together, sometimes it was just part of the group, sometimes Jeanne and Walt went off on Shore Excursions alone, and sometimes Walt stayed on the ship, and Jeanne partied with us.  Take a look at a fun Family Week on the Liberty of the Seas!!

First, once we’d gotten on board the ship, it was time to head to the R Bar and some Texas Teas, then off to boat drill at our son Kenny’s station!

Then some family fun with Jamie at the piano in the Schooner Bar!!

We hit the casino….

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And then pregamed in the room before the Captain’s Cocktail Party!

We had dinners together….

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And burritos with the boys in Cozumel….

We loved watching Saturday Night Fever where Chris starred as Double J and Kenny as Father Frank Junior!

We ate at Johnny Rockets…

And enjoyed Grand Cayman!!

In Jamaica we spent the day at Margaritaville!

We enjoyed a beautiful Jamaican sunset from our balcony…..

And loved seeing Kenny do the 70s Set on the Royal Prominade. 

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We had Late night family time in the Schooner Bar….

And a parade on the Royal Promenade starring Christopher!!!

Of course, there was time for a few last drinks in the R Bar….

And a trip to the Platinum Theater to see Our Boys starring  in In The Air!!!

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There were other Family dinners

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And then it was time to say goodbye to Jeanne and Walt (sniff, sniff), but we spent our 40th Anniversary with the boys in Galveston….

And now we’re back at the R Bar ready to start week #2 on the beautiful Liberty of the Seas!!!

 

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To be continued……

 

 

We Made It!

After a good night’s sleep at the Philadelphia Airport’s Embassy Suites, and a shuttle ride to Terminal C, we actually made it on the 8:30 American flight to Houston!!!  And guess what…we were able to reclaim our paid for First Class seats!!  I’ve finally learned that if you keep asking enough people, you’ll eventually get the answer you want!

The flight was uneventful and even about a half hour shorter than scheduled!  Oh, one funny thing….the meal they served us. I thought I misunderstood the Flight Attendant when she told us what it was, but then found out that she did indeed say a Granola and Strawberry Sandwich on a roll!  Huh???   In what realm is that a sandwich??  Oh well, two Bloody Marys helped a bit!

It was hot when we exited George Bush International Airport in Houston to wait for our Lyft.  In the 90s and sunny, but a lot of clouds in the area. In a few minutes our ride arrived and we were off. It’s some distance from the airport to Galveston, and the ride took about 90 minutes.  We had to detour a bit because of some remaining problems from the 43 inches of rain, but we weren’t driving, so all was well!

We’re staying at the Harbor House Hotel, on Pier 21, on the waterside of Harborside Drive.  It’s a nice hotel, created out of an old commercial building.  It’s a great location, just a couple of blocks from the cruise terminals and the historic Strand neighborhood.  

Luckily, even though we were early for check in, Glenn at the front desk found us a room, and we got to change out of our flying clothes, and into something more fitting for the Galveston temperature!  Still hungry after our Granola Sandwiches, we enjoyed the 2 club sandwiches we’d bought at the airport when we still thought we were flying coach.  Thank God we had them!

Then it was off to the Strand, an area we’d explored with our boys when we were here in March!

We purchased 2 bottles of Prosecco for tomorrow’s Sail-away, stopped for a couple of Pina Coladas when the rains came, and Susie shopped a bit – she got a visor and I got a t-shirt.  When the rain stopped, we headed back the couple of blocks to the hotel, and just as we were walking into the entrance, the rain started again!!  

After watching the Carnival Dream leaving Galveston from our hotel window, we got a text that my cousins Jeanne and Walt had arrived in Galveston, and now our traveling party is complete!  Tomorrow we board the Liberty of the Seas, and share Our Boys for week one of our 2 week cruise with them!!

But tonight, our last pre-cruise event, dinner right next door at Willie G’s, as the 4 of us reunite for the first time since we saw them last February at their house in Florida!   Let’s just say, a good time was had by all!

Mother Nature

So, all things being equal, our view tonight should be of Pier 21 in Galveston, Texas, but instead, thanks to a Tropical Storm named Imelda, and the 40 plus inches of rain she dumped on Southeast Texas, our view is instead of the atrium of the Embassy Suites hotel at the Philadelphia Airport!!!

Our original plan was to leave home this morning, and be on American’s 12:30 flight to George Bush International Airport in Houston. That was till we got the notification last night, while having dinner at Angelo’s, that today’s flight had been canceled!   They booked us on a flight tomorrow morning at 8:30, and we lost our First Class seats, but got two together in the Main Cabin!  Just hope we don’t have to fight to get the difference between First Class and Main Cabin returned!!  Rather than leave home before the sun rises in the morning, we decided to drive in tonight,  and stay at the airport!  A little bummed, but hey, we’re still TSA Pre!  

Fingers crossed everything goes right, and this time tomorrow we are indeed at the Harbor House Hotel at Pier 21 in Galveston!   Come on now…let’s see those fingers crossing!!

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See you in Texas! 

Meeting our New Granddaughter

Last October, at our youngest son Kenny’s wedding, oldest son Billy informed us that he and his wife Lori were expecting their third child.  Having started with a girl and then a boy, we figured they were done, but we were overjoyed when we heard that their family would be growing.  

Just over a week ago, on Wednesday afternoon, April 17th, Billy sent us the following text, “Annabelle Lorraine D’Elia is here!  Lori and baby are both doing great!”, and we got to see the first pictures of our just born Granddaughter!

A little later, we got details that she was born at 4:06 PM, was 7 lbs. 4 oz, 21 inches, “And beautiful”, said the proud Papa!

The next day was a big one in little Annabelle’s life!  First, she got to meet her big sister and big brother, when our 5 year old Granddaughter Layla, and her 3 1/2 year old brother Henry visited Mommy and Annabelle in the hospital.  Just looking at Layla and Henry with Annabelle, it’s easy to tell that both of them are thrilled to have a new baby sister, and are going to be a great big brother and sister!  The other big event in little Annabelle’s life was that she and Mommy were going home!  Hard to believe, but within 24 hours of being born, Lori and her newborn baby were getting out of the hospital, and going home.  How time changes the way things work.

Another thing we learned on Thursday was that they were going to be calling her Anna.  I had to tell Billy at that point that his Anna D’Elia was not the first time that first and last name had gone together in our family.  His grandfather’s mother, my paternal Grandmother was also named Anna D’Elia.  She died in 1953 when I was 3 years old, and I don’t have any recollection of her beyond pictures and stories, and don’t know if Billy had ever even known, but little Anna and her Great Great Grandmother share the same name!

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My Dad’s Mom…another Anna D’Elia

Although pictures kept coming from North Carolina to Ocean City, at this point Susie and I could not wait till Saturday when we were heading down to NC to spend Easter weekend with Billy’s family and to meet the newest member of that family!

Our trip started early Saturday morning with torrential rain as we left Ocean City, but by the time we got to Delaware, the weather had calmed down, and the further south we drove, the nicer the weather got.  The drive was long, but once we got to their house Saturday afternoon, that was all forgotten and we were taken with how incredibly beautiful and small our new Granddaughter was.  We tend to forget the size babies are when they come home from the hospital, but even though it’s been 30 plus years since any of our babies were that size, Susie had absolutely no trouble sliding right into Grandma mode!

Anna was very awake and totally aware of what was going on around her.  She sized us up, and we like to think decided we were acceptable as Grandparents!  I know for sure she liked snuggling with Susie, and enjoyed the bottle she fed her and even the diaper change Grandma effected!  And for Grandma, it was of course, love at first sight, especially the new baby smell!  And what was I doing while Grandma was bonding with her Granddaughter, why Grandpa was playing Mouse Trap with Layla and Henry!

I don’t remember if our kids ever had the game Mouse Trap, but it’s something Layla and Henry always drag out and want to play with Grandpa.  It’s a diabolical game, that takes about 3 times as long to set up as it does to play, but the kids love it!  Honestly, the game itself is rather lame, but the board, with all it’s levels and Rube Goldberg kind of ball drops is a lot of fun, and what they really love about the game.  As the saying goes, “Some Assembly Required” and this time took the efforts of Grandpa and Dad before we could play.  About halfway through, Henry tired of the game and Layla and I continued to play for him and in the end, he won, Layla came in second, and Grandpa last!  Not my favorite game, but playing with those two is some of the most fun I have whenever we visit!

Talking to Billy and Lori, we discovered where Annabelle’s name came from.  Annabelle was Lori’s late Dad, Fred’s ,Mom’s name, and Lorraine was Kathy, her Mom’s Mom’s name.  Once Billy knew that Anna was his Grandfather’s Mom’s name, he commented, “So she was named after 2 old Italian ladies”.  

The next day was Easter, and we were all going to a big family gathering at Lori’s sister’s house, and Billy and Lori needed some items from the store, so while we watched the 3 little ones, Billy took Lori on an outing to the grocery store!  Is there anything better in life, than spending time with your Grandkids??  Love talking to Layla and Henry, and getting their take on life.  Grandma was in 7th Heaven with Anna, while honestly, Layla and Henry are more my speed.  Love hearing them call me “Grandpa”!

Easter Sunday dawned cloudy and the weather forecast was for a cool and cloudy day.  We arrived at Lori’s sister Kerry and her husband Bill’s house at 11 AM, and were immediately surrounded by family, including 11 kids under the age of 10, including Layla, Henry and Anna!  Everyone had brought something to contribute (we’d brought traditional Easter Pies from my Dad’s heritage), and there was so much food, including the very good Shrimp and Grits our son had made.  It was a great day, with lots of food and conversation and the kids playing, and participating in an Easter Egg hunt, and Anna spending time in a lot of folks arms…even Grandpa’s!  

After a busy Easter, Mom and Anna were pooped and just looking for some down time, so we spent our last day in Raleigh with our son Billy and Layla and Henry.  First on our schedule, lunch at Chik-fil-a and playing in the playroom (Layla and Henry that is).

Next we were off to see The Missing Link at the movies.  The theater we were going to was in a neat shopping destination called North Hills.  Along with the theater there were restaurants and shops all along carefully laid out streets.  Once we got the tickets, we went on a short walk to look around, before Dad got a Starbucks coffee, and we settled on a park bench while the kids played a bit in the gorgeous sunshine!

Once we got to the movie theater, it was tough to steer Henry away from the little arcade that was right inside the entrance, but with the promise of soda and popcorn, we moved to the theater.  Like when we went to the movies in Florida, this is one of the new theaters with reclining seats, and all the comforts of home, and the two kids made full use of them!  Grandpa had to sit next to Henry and Layla had to sit next to Grandma.  Then Daddy wisely got both the pop corn and soda split into two for them, and after about 20 minutes of previews, the movie finally started.  I don’t know why they have to do the same endless previews with kid’s movies, because every time a preview started, Henry would ask me, “Is this the movie Grandpa?”.  What a pain!  We enjoyed the movie, but by the end, Daddy had both kids in his lap, forgetting the carefully crafted seating plan they’d earlier devised!  After 30+ years, you forget what it’s like to have little kids!

By the time the movie was over, and we’d gotten Henry off the motorcycle in the arcade, it was close to 5, and as it was a school night, it was time to say good-bye to our son and grandkids.  Hugs and kisses were given all around, and promises to see each other real soon were uttered, as they walked Grandma and Grandpa back to their car.

As we always do, we loved our time with our North Carolina Family, loved being with our Grandkids, and loved meeting little Anna.  It’s hard when your kids and their kids live a 7+ hour drive away from you, but you make it work, and you enjoy the hell out of the time you get to spend together.  I know we both did, and will enjoy the memories till we get together again, either in Ocean City or in Raleigh.  It is what it is!