Florida – September 2008

Day 23 – Jax – I look after the kids…Sandy the credit card

Tuesday 14th October

Sandy ‘allowed’ me to sleep in until just about five minutes before she left the house this morning – how thoughtful of her! I was to take care of the kids all day so that she could enjoy a day to herself. She and Jennifer went shopping. Actually, I’m glad she’s getting some time to herself. She works really hard with the kids and it is her holiday too.

So, I kept the kids amused for about an hour before deciding that we’d head out for the morning. After getting them changed, dressed and the baby-bag packed, we set off for breakfast at – where else – the nearby Waffle House. The kids were actually much better behaved than I had anticipated. Just about the only problem I had was Joey jumping into an ankle-deep puddle in the Waffle House car park and soaking his shoes, socks and trousers in the process. Under normal circumstances, I’d be frustrated and irked by this but we’re on holiday and I’m in a relaxed mood. And anyway, it was so hot already that his feet and clothes would soon dry up.

After we finished breakfast, we got into the car and it was at this point that I realised just how hot it was this morning. The inside of the car was like an oven and I felt like I was being baked behind the wheel. The original plan was to take the kids to that outdoor playground again but I thought better of this in light of the oppressive heat. Instead, I took the kids to a nearby shopping plaza, where I went in search of some more bed-linen for our American-sized bed back home. They had some really nice ones there too so I left the store with three complete sets in the colours and fabrics of my choice. That now brings to five the total of bed-sets we’ve picked up since arriving. Whether we’ll keep them all or whether some will be returned remains to be seen.

It was around noon that I got the kids back to the condo again and they were sound asleep napping not long after that. With little else for me to do, I spent the better part of the afternoon on Facebook getting re-acquainted with my past. Someone had recently started a group relating to the Thurrock Marching Brass, which is a marching band that occupied most of my time for the better part of my youth. All manner of kids (although most have kids of their own – and some have grand-kids even) were popping up out of the woodwork and I enjoyed chatting with some of them.

My kids were up and active again by around two and they spent the afternoon playing together and in front of the TV – all the while whilst dad was strolling down memory lane getting all-nostalgic. I also spent some time chatting online with Louise. I must remember to visit Basingstoke again when we get back home.

Sandy eventually emerged from her intensive retail therapy session and we agreed to meet at Denny’s on Beach Boulevard for a late lunch cum early dinner. It was a relatively new Denny’s restaurant and there weren’t too many people there. Perhaps it was because they’d not seen their Mother all day but the kids seemed to be especially noisy at dinner. It never fails. Whenever we’re somewhere inappropriate for the kids to be noisy, they seem to instinctively turn up the volume. It’s like they’re allergic to being quiet just when we need them to be.

When we eventually finished dinner and got home, Sandy showed me all the things she bought for herself – which turned out largely to be toys and clothes for the kids in fact. This shopping spree spurred a necessary re-organisation of some of our suitcases. Fortunately, we’re not taking back everything that we brought with us (some suitcases were packed with chocolate and other presents and goodies) and Sandy had the foresight to pack some suitcases inside other suitcases so that we’d have capacity to take everything back that we bought whilst here.

Whilst on Facebook this evening, I got talking to a relative I didn’t know I had. Vanessa is one of my very many second Cousins. She lives in Australia and seemed quite surprised to learn from me all about the very extended family that we share together. She seems very nice and I’m sure we will catch up with each other when we eventually make it over to Melbourne once our visas come through.

Looking after the kids today was a lot of fun and not nearly as stressful as I expected it to be. I don’t think I’m quite ready to be a stay-at-home Dad just yet but it was very nice to be able to spend some quality time just with the two of them just the same.