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June 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby!

by Heather

When my birthday rolls around these years, I try to kind of slide by it. But my little great-nephew is turning the grand age of 4 on Tuesday. That’s a big, big, big deal!

So, hmmm, I've written two lines and I have to check the words already--this 939470-concept-of-warning-of-the-bad-things-online-caution-tape-acrossed-a-dirty-laptop-keyboard computer is in the business center at the Nickelodeon hotel in Orlando and I think too many little fingers have worn off the letters. I'm hoping for the best.

2011-06-11 08.32.32 It's been a strange trip. This little boy, and his baby brother, Noah, are the babies of the family right now. And we love them and do our best for them because their dad is the most amazing, been-through-the-most human beings I’ve ever met. His mom--my sister--got sick one Mother's Day. At the beginning of the year, everything had been fine. By September she was dead. My brother-in-law passed away 7 weeks later from a  heart attack. In a year, DJ, their only child, lost his entire family.

But now he has Franci and the two boys, and that makes them all very special. So, back to the point. We're going to take off to the Nickelodeon hotel because it's a great place to bring a four-year-old.

But we can’t drive because--Arggh!--I don't have time to get glasses. I had Lasik, damnit!         011-laser-eye-surgeryBut the truth is, I can't see signs at night. Dennis couldn't go, one of my daughters is ill, the other not licensed, and the friend not insured. I don't want to kill us all, so . . . Amtrak!

Aft4449 Amtrak turned out to be a blast. I’d taken the train to California from NOLA with my daughter Chynna a few years ago when she had an ear infection and couldn't fly, and that had been a blast, too. I didn't think we'd do so well for our six-hour trip but we ate, we played gin, we laughed, and we got to Orlando happy. Something to be said for that, if you've ever seen I-95 traffic down here.

However, it's 7:30pm when I get in the winding check in line. I'm there half an hour. 2011-06-10 21.52.28 8 at night, and our room isn't ready. I'm not a confrontational person; I loathe arguments. Hard in a family with Irish/Italian tempers, so I avoid confrontation like the plague. But--

I'm calm at first. The two little ones meet up with us when we arrive. Auntie Heather should have the place ready for the little guys to come in and crash, but I don't get the call that the room is ready for an hour. By then, they're sleeping on the chairs in the "mall," the central area.

In the morning, still irritated, I call for the manager. I'm told I've already called the manager. I assure the young woman that I haven't called anyone yet. The manager is busy, I’m told, but he'll call me back.

2011-06-11 11.14.01 We go off to breakfast with Spongebob. We go through the 30-minute line for those with reservations, and then we're told just a minute, they're wiping the table. It takes them another 30 minutes to wipe the table. But the manager has called me and apologized, and will pick up our character breakfast for me. That was all that I wanted--and acknowledgement that not getting into a room until 9PM was not an acceptable practice.

So, we go on and have fun at the pool. It's Cancun/Spring Break for 4-year olds, Chynna tells me, and I agree. Wall-to-wall people. But I laugh at the "sliming" and go down a trillion slides with Graham and help Noah up on the baby slides, and we have a great time. At night we head off to the Magic Kingdom.

Life is good when you're four, and I hope we can keep it that way for the little                                        ones for a while.

2011-06-11 11.22.26

We all know that far too quickly, we have to grow up.

And now, I'm actually glad I'm  not driving home. Yeah, Amtrak! Thinking of a pleasant gin game--already, my daughters and friend Kelsey get a little crazy--and I arrive without cursing   I-95. I think I like this plan!



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Ah, truly a 4-year old's dream vacation, Heather! What a wonderful great-aunt you are.

Heather, I love your blog so much.
Everything about your family speaks of so much love and caring.
I like the way you handled pesky inconveniences at the same time giving your little ones a happy time to remember. God Bless.
The Amtrak trip sounds delightful.

Hi Heather,

You must be a wonderful auntie. Your blog today . . . made me cry. The love . . . beautiful. God bless.

I promise you, they'll only remember the adventure and excitement and best of all Aunt Heather who made it all happen!

You are most excellent, Auntie Heather.

I spent a girls' day with my niece last week. We watched Matilda and played cards. It was terrific.

Heather, all year long you make magical things happen for your family. You are a phenomenal woman.

When did you have Lasik? We must talk!

Love you, my friend!

Honestly, now, why can't we all have good train service? It's so civilized! And no traffic! We should all be lobbying for trains. What better way to travel with kids? Or for those of us who can't see signs at night? How perfect.

Have a delightful time, Heather!

Yesterday would have been Vickie's b-day, and I always feel privileged to get to do anything I can for the little guys--I always think of how much she would have loved them and how incredibly proud she would have been. And it doesn't seem fair at all that she and Davis aren't here when their little grandsons are so amazingly cute. Of course, mine are so mostly grown up now (do we ever really grow up?) it's amazing that I can still remember when we did a lot of the same things with them!
I was surprised that the train was so nice and so much fun. Not elegant--don't mean that by any means! But the people were really nice, and the food was certainly fine, and you kind of have to talk to others. It's better heading north from Miami--the train is just starting out and I had taken "mini-sleeper" chairs, so we had lunch and dinner included and everything was fresh and clean. Back . . . well, they've come from NYC, some of them, and they are getting a little worn thin. But yesterday, we had a good time on the trip coming back, too. Alas, got home, and the Heat lost. Oh, well. Still love our boys, and my lord, that opposing player is a game unto himself!
Mary, my lasik (c?) was ten years ago. It was truly like "wow, I can see!" But in the last year . . . I hate it when those signs look like a white blur! And now I'm into convention a weekend mode for til August, so I . . . . End of summer. I have to bite the bullet!

The princesses have taken to planning their birthdays well in advance. It is actually getting close for the soon to be ten year old. The Nick hotel sounds like a blast. I'm glad they have a fun aunt to do those kinds of things. Everyone needs a fun aunt.

AmTrak is definitely our choice of transportation going north or south. Only wish it went west without our having to travel to Jacksonville or Chicago first. Whatever happened to American initiative and doing big things for the common good? Less 8-lane highways, more train tracks! And more family members like you, Heather, building good memories for the children.

Aunts who do cool things with their nieces and nephews: rock.

I had more aunts and uncles than you could shake a stick at: 15 aunts and 8 uncles on my mom's side, and two of each on my dad's. My mom's sisters were the most fun, and at various times in my life provided excellent memories that I would never have had in my own family.

Now I try to be the cool aunt, and I'm even a great-aunt to three, soon to be four little ones. This is hard to wrap my brain around; my great-aunts when we were growing up were so OLD. And they all had enormous bosoms you'd get lost in when they gave you a smothering, Chantilly-scented hug.

Oh, Heather, I miss having little ones in the family! I just loved reading about your time with the kids, frustrations and all!

As for Amtrak: it's the ONLY way to go! Several times a year I go to visit relatives in NJ (my youngest niece - my godchild - lives there, and she is the light of my life, and of course, I enjoy visiting with the rest of the family, too:-) but I had to stop doing car trips of more than an hour and a half a few years ago due to increasingly worse spine problems. I have fallen in love with Amtrak! The trip is only about half an hour longer by train, at the most, and I get to enjoy the scenery, I can read, I can nap, etc.

LASIK here, too, in late 2000. Mary Stella, if you want info, you can see a YouTube of the procedure on this site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoH0VHrOM9A (Don't watch if you're squeamish. However, that said, I AM squeamish, but watching the video really helped me conquer my fears.)

My eyes were very bad, 20/950 in my "good" eye, and 20/1100 in the other one. Our eye doctor went to school with my husband, so he kept telling me he'd let me know when the procedure was advanced enough to take care of seriously myopic eyes. When the day came I was more than ready, because contacts were no longer an option (menopause, damn it).

It took 44 seconds for the good eye, and 47 seconds for the bad one. They count out loud so you know how much longer you have to stay steady and focus on the red light. The building where my surgery took place is cylindrical, with the operatory in the center and the "resting rooms" radiating around it. They left my door open and I could hear the next three surgeries' counts called off: Seven seconds. Ten seconds. Five seconds. The longest one was 11 seconds.

Margaret, I wish there was more rail, too. My dad worked for both Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio when I was a kid, and my uncle was a VP at B&O. We took some great trips before my sister was born, one of which I dimly remember, sleeping in the lower bunk with my mother. I still remember going to the exquisite Art Deco Union Terminal in Cincinnati to catch a train to Boston, which has been restored and is now used as a museum center. Too bad so many rail stations are too far from city centers to encourage rail travel these days.

Oh, y goodness, you are WONDERFUL.

And yes, indeed , life is good when you're four, especially when you have a fabulous Auntie Heather.

LOVE Amtrak. SO civilized, such fun, so easy. Yay for the quiet car, but that's not gonna happen when you have kids.

How are your eyes? You are SO brave!

I had Lasik in 1999, I think. i'm VERY VERY VERY squeamish, but it's harder to watch the procedure than it is to experience it. Really, it was a piece of cake and the results were miraculous . . . except that a year later I was getting weird vision, esp. while driving at night. I went back to the doctor, and it happened to be a month prior to delivering my first baby, and the nurse did an exam, talked to me, took measurements, then looked at me and said, "Hmm. It's a mystery. Do you might be pregnant?"

Duh. I was so pregnant at that point I was stopping traffic. It did not give me confidence in that nurse's eyesight.

Anyhow, the point is, pregnancy affects a bunch of things, including the membranes that have to do with vision. Mine never came back to 20/20 eyesight, so now I wear glasses like the rest of the world. But my eyes are still way better than they once were.

So, Heather: do you think you might be pregnant?

Very wonderful great-aunt, and very poignant too. I enjoyed the trip with you.

I had Lasik in 1998 and never regretted it. I was myopic as well, -8.25 - which I found out at the time is considered legally blind . . . Six months after surgery I had the right eye touched up, 10 years after I had the left eye touched up. Turns out the more myopic you are the bigger the chance of needing a bit more Lasik later on is. Again, don't regret it all, before surgery I could only shower and sleep without glasses!

I did my best to be a really good auntie as well, I have 2 nephews and one niece, all adults now but I would visit as often as possible when they were little, went to almost all birthdays, made sure my gifts were something special. Now when I see them I usually cook extra special things for them!

I was wishing that Henry Flagler's railroad down to the Keys (washed out by a hurricane) had been rebuilt. How cool to get to Key West via a train! But, alas, apparently, our governor even returned Federal funds to help with the state's railroad. I want to smack the man! Argh. Oh, well. It is a day out of the state, and three days to NOLA! But going up the east coast is doable!
At the moment, Graham and Noah are the only family babies, Graham, Pozzessere, Davant, and Naulin (Franci's family!) The kids all say that they've given them a high bar to have to live up to--they're so cute. We all love them. What always remains as a little ache in my heart is my sister telling her doctor how hard she was going to fight to try to live--she wanted to see her grand babies. I know that the world is full of terrible things, little children with horrible diseases, and no one lives a life without pain and trauma, but I just can't help but question the loss when these things happen, and I'm a firm believer in God, so . . . it's just hard sometimes.

Lucky, happy kiddos! Some of my best memories are from early train rides, and even the occasional train journey in the last decade or so--by far one of my favorite ways to cover long distances, make new friends, etc. Your late sis and brother-in-law are probably just loving you to pieces for the way you've stepped up for their boy and his family.

Geez, Heather, as hard as it is to evacuate on the too-few routes out of the state during hurricane season, you'd think a so-called leader would want to augment the potential for citizen safety.

Or not.

I hope so, Laraine, and thanks. In believing in the afterlife, I also have to wonder if your parents/friends/family may also feel sometimes as if you're doing something wrong. I can almost smile sometimes, thinking about seeing Vick and have her ask me, "What in God's name were you thinking when you did that?" (Not about the weekend, but you know, things in general!) Would my parents think that I'd screwed my kids up? (Do all parents screw their kids up--is that almost part of the job?) I believe we all stumble along doing our best, and that's it's also our job to whine about the things that came before. As in, my parents liked to tell me about coming to this country, and walking through five feet of snow to get to school. I told mine about walking miles in the blazing heat to get to school. Hm.


Ha! there's a picture of Noah when Dora came up with an enormous head! It's priceless, but not on my camera. If a baby could say, "What the f...?" he would have been saying it! The duck was okay . . . !

Yeah, and that's what I have to say to some of our elected officials as well!

If we had better train service, it would really benefit the state. For me to get to the panhandle, airplane of train, it's either Atlanta, Dallas, or Chicago first, for the plane system, and I'm pretty sure the transfer is Atlanta for trains!

Yes, my children were also terrified of large pastel animals when they were that age. The Easter Bunny alone was fodder for weeks of nightmares.

I always feel kind of bad for the people in side. A friend from Trinidad--rock star there!--came to the states to work at Universal. She was appalled at first to become a "Furrie," one of the creatures. Kids poke, pull, and punch at them, usually while mom and dad are assuming the kids are just having fun. (Bryee's class couldn't go to grad night at Disney because the class before had pushed Mickey into a fountain.) For my friend, however, it worked out great. She became the Bride of Frankenstein and married the Frankenstein monster who worked with her when she made her way into one of the shows.

You are truly an awesome Aunt and Great-Aunt to DJ/Franci/Graham and Noah... And not just at Graham's birthday, but for all you do for them all year!!! And you made an adventure out of it....the train!

Oh! And definitely not pregnant!

You rock, Aunt Heather.

Touching Story Heather.

Heather, my parents and son and I took that train from Ft. Lauderdale to Disney World years ago--and back again--and enjoyed it so much. Sounds as if you and your family had a great time.

That was a very emotion evoking post, Heather, that should remind us to live everyday to the fullest. Thanks for sharing.

So interesting it is, I like it !

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