Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ohio Recap

We’re home after a long week touring Ohio and visiting family. Our trip was nice, although it started out hectic because we were in and out of the car so often. Last Saturday we went over to my dad’s twin brother’s house (my uncle) to visit with his family. My cousins came over and all the kids played together.

Sunday we went to the Akron zoo. It has been 10 years since TJ and I were there last, and it’s changed a lot. It’s a small zoo, but they have animals that the zoo by our house doesn’t have, so the kids enjoyed it. It has been remodeled and it’s really nice. We left the zoo and the kids napped when we got back to my mom’s. When they woke, we went to eat at my favorite Akron restaurant- Swenson’s. It’s a local drive-in franchise that has been around for over 70 years. In the past, males were car hops and females worked in the kitchen. Because of EEO laws, I think that’s changed, but the food still tastes great and we eat there every time we are in Akron.

Monday we woke, packed up the car, and drove 2 hours to my dad’s apartment in Columbus. Since we arrived around lunch time, we decided to go to McDonald’s for lunch so the kids could play a little bit and stretch their legs. Well, my dad gave TJ some wrong directions and we ended up driving down a one-way street—going the wrong way! I was screaming for TJ to turn around because he was going to continue driving into oncoming traffic. I’m still not sure what he was thinking! He pulled into a driveway and turned around, thankfully without having a head-on collision!

We ate lunch and went to my dad’s. Ta napped, T.G. played, and Th, my dad, and I headed to the grocery store. When we got back, we headed to the pool. After swimming for a little bit, we ate supper and then walked around the pond to look at the ducks before getting the kids ready for bed.

The next morning, we fed the ducks and headed to my cousin’s house for the day. We had a blast! The boys were in heaven playing with my cousin’s kids (Austin included), and I had a little break because my cousin’s 3 daughters entertained T.G. We swam, ate, played with the animals, watched the snake eat a mouse, watched a movie on the big screen, swam some more, ate some more, and visited with more family. By the time we got back to my dad’s Tuesday night, the kids were exhausted. They went right to sleep, which was nice for TJ and I.

Wednesday morning we again packed up and drove 2 ½ hours to my aunt’s house in Cincinnati. We ate lunch when we arrived (no driving the wrong way down a one-way street!), then right away jumped in the pool. After swimming for a little while, we crossed the creek and headed to the barn. My uncle met us out there with his tractor, so the kids got to go on a “hayride” back to the house. My aunt and uncle used to have horses, sheep, and chickens, but now they don’t have any animals except raccoons, deer, and a dog. My uncle explained the old horse pasture is now being farmed for hay. However, the kids still enjoyed walking around the barn, seeing the old farm equipment and animal tack. Ta helped my uncle pick some veggies from the garden, and rode the tractor back to deliver them to my aunt. It was really cute how Ta attached himself to my uncle. My uncle is a big guy (he reminds me of Santa Claus), and Ta is usually shy around strangers, especially large men. But, because my uncle is a “farmer”, Ta was in heaven! He loves tractors, animals, farms, etc. He wants to be a farmer when he grows up, so this week, as he’s helped my uncle, we’ve affectionately called him “Farmer Ta”. He loved it, and was disappointed to leave.

Thursday we drove across the Ohio River into Kentucky and went to an aquarium. It was neat for the kids to see the city and the big bridges connecting Ohio and Kentucky, and all the boats on the river. They’ve never seen a paddle boat before, so they enjoyed just sitting and watching the boats load and unload at the docks. The aquarium was fun, and lasted all day.

Thursday night my cousin’s kids came over to spend the night. With her kids and mine, we had 4 boys ages 7, 6 (almost), 4, and 3. They went night swimming, which was fun, and camped in the living room together. Friday we went to a park in the morning and had lunch at McDonald’s. When we got back, we spent the afternoon swimming, playing, and riding the tractor. My cousin and her husband came over after work, and my dad’s ex-girlfriend and my other cousin also drove from Columbus to see us. My uncle grilled supper for us, and we swam and played volleyball after eating. The boys were sad when it was time to say goodbye, and hopefully it won’t be another 4 years before we see them again.

The last time I saw most of my cousins and family was at my grandma’s 90th birthday party 4 years ago. I of course saw my grandma Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, but she is not the same. She suffers from dementia, and she does not remember anyone other than her husband (who’s been dead since I was 5) and her children. It was difficult for me because I’d try to talk to her but she had no idea who I was. I showed her pictures of the two of us from several years ago, and she recognized herself and me as being with her in the pictures, but she didn’t know who I was. She literally is in her own world. She just sits and hums to herself quietly. My aunt kept telling me not to get upset or take it personally, and I don’t, it’s just hard to see her like that. She was so vivacious and alive and full of spunk, and now she is quiet, reserved, and not at all like I remember. In some ways, I don’t know if I want to see her again only because she’s going to get worse. I don’t want to remember her like that, and I don’t want the kids to remember her in this condition. Instead, I want to remember the spunky gal that spoke her mind at any given moment- that’s who my grandma is!

That’s our trip in a nutshell. I was able to catch up on laundry and unpacking; however, I need TJ to find time to rummage through the attic for clothes for Taco, T.G., and Ta. Plus, I need him to rearrange the furniture in my bedroom to better accommodate the crib for Taco. He's been busy finishing a project for grad school, and we're busy the next 2 weekends. Hopefully he can find time during the week so I can begin to prepare for Taco's debut. Delivery day is fast approaching!

*I am thankful for the opportunity to visit with family.*

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