Otherwise known as the Funny Farm, my mom and dad’s house about a half-hour to the north of Charlotte is always bustling with activity. No one is safe from the to do list in that house, though I have to say the brunt of it always seems to land at my mom’s feet.
My flight into Charlotte was to leave Nashville at 6:00 AM so I got up at 4:00 AM, took a shower, threw my toiletries in a “flight approved” bag and got in the car. Luckily I am only about 15 minutes away from the airport here in Mount Juliet and lucky too that it was a Saturday morning flight which meant there were about a dozen cars on the road with us when we pulled onto the freeway. I only mention the time I got up because I want to impress upon you how my family “rolls”.
I have to say that you never appreciate a direct one hour flight quite as much as you should until you have flown cross-country with layovers all day from California to North Carolina. I once spent a lovely seven hours in DFW after having missed the last flight out due to a storm on my way back to the beach. It was not pretty.
This flight was HEAVEN, even with the baby crying in the back of the plane. Heck, I had earplugs and a Bon Apetit magazine and one hour of upset baby wasn’t going to get me down. We landed I got picked up by my twinzie mom wearing the exact same color shirt, jeans and hairstyle that I was sporting, no, we did not coordinate purposefully, and we headed to the house for breakfast. My sister popped by with my soon-to-be two-year old niece and my three-year old nephew for a visit with Aunt Chris.
After a little breakfast I unpacked my things and strapped on my workout shoes. Let me tell you something, North Carolina is freaking HUMID! I was soaked through and dripping onto the floor of the basement in the first ten minutes of my workout. I felt as weak as a kitten too. I was pushing just as hard as I usually do, but I was still unable to pull the numbers that I normally do and man, was I disappointed. My nephew braved his way down the stairs to help Aunt Chris with her weights and even he seemed to have more lift in him than me.
No time for a pitty party though because it was time for a quick shower, a protein muffin lunch, and a trip to the stores to pick up some new shoes for my nephew and some ingredients for the dinner that my brother requested I make. According to him it is known as “that spicy chicken pasta thing”, but I like to call it Chicken Farfalle con Aglio e Olio. Basically that means chicken bow-tie past cooked in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flake, so, that spicy chicken pasta thing. Lest you not be impressed by that, it took five chicken breasts, a pound of pasta, one large head of broccoli, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a half bulb of garlic, a large salad and a loaf of Italian bread to feed my brother, dad, mom, baby nephew and myself.
Dinner having been attended too, it was time to focus on getting changed to go out with my sibs, their significant others and a girlfriend of mine from California, who transplanted to Charlotte a few years back. After several hours of text tag we had all decided to go to a place called VGBG in Charlotte.
VGBG stands of Very Big German Beer. Go ahead and check out their website above if you’d like to take a virtual tour and check out the menu. They only carry draft beers, no bottles and they have a really yummy menu full of pretzels, brats, hotdogs, fried apples, Latkes, fried pickles and lots of other goodies. We spent the evening on the patio where you can play with giant Jenga, Ping Pong, giant Chess and Cornhole.
If you ever get the opportunity to go to this wonderful little gem, I suggest that you one, get there early-ish to get good parking and a table on the patio and two, ask if they are still carrying the Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout. I am not kidding you when I say that it smelled and tasted like a caramel macchiatto, but with the added bonus of a 9.6% ABV. After many beers were consumed and much naughty food was eaten we headed back home, via the dance-party-mobile, aka my sister’s car. It was only around midnight but we wanted to get back early because my mom and dad were babysitting and we had bigger plans for the next day. I believe I got to bed some time around 1 AM, which was 12 AM my time and that was the end of DAY 1! 4 AM to 12 AM, non-stop activity. Welcome to my vacation.
Now that I have impressed upon you that we don’t really sit still in my family, here is the rest of the week.
A family trip to Carowinds Amusement Park. Rain allowed me to sleep in until a little before 9 AM, yay! A nice family breakfast ensued and then when the skies had cleared up a bit it was time to go to the park.
I am not much of a thrill seeker so I went with my sister, her hubby, my niece and nephew to Planet Snoopy and then Kangaroo Lagoon. Basically the day consisted of carrying one of the two children or the big backpack full of all of the we-have-babies supplies, taking lots of pictures with my sister’s fancy camera, riding an occasional level 1 ride (we learned very quickly that level 2 was too much for my vertigo), and lots and lots of walking. We had a great time, but after about 8 hours straight it was time to get the kids back home for bed. No workout that day, I mean, except carrying the small children or giant backpack full of supplies around for an eight-hour walk. I would say I got my cardio requirement in that day.
Once we were back at mom and dad’s we had a quick bite to eat and then I started preparation on the marinade for dinner the next night. Nothing is quite as exciting as making a marinade for seven pounds of pork tenderloin. We put half in the fridge to be popped into the crock pot the next morning and the other half went into the freezer for my mom to use when she just didn’t feel like cooking.
Up early for a trip to my sister’s stylist for a much-needed hair cut. The appointment was pretty early so I was up at around 7 AM, 6 AM my time, ugh. Pork was crock-potted, hairs were cut and coffee was ingested in copious amounts, then it was straight to my sister’s house. We had a date with Discovery Place in downtown Charlotte.
We immediately headed to the kids zone and we all took turns with one of the two kids playing with the different exhibit/games. Turns out little kids love to play with water. I always think that for their birthdays they would be just as happy getting an empty box and a bottle of water.
My dad works in downtown so after an hour or so we took a break from the Discovery Place and grabbed a quick bite with him at one of the many uptown lunchtime gathering spots. Then it was back Discovery Place, with a cranky niece who refused to eat anything but raisins and some of a chocolate chip cookie. The best way to make my niece stop crying? The same way I was soothed when I was a child, show her some animals.
The first stop we made when we got back to Discovery was the Aquarium. Put that kid in front of a window with some wildlife and she is back to being adorable. BAM! Problem solved. We put in a few more hours of walking and playing and pointing and getting creeped on by a little girl in a pink shirt then it was once again, time to get our butts home.
It was almost four when mom and I got back from my sister’s house and while she set about preparing some side dishes for our wonderful pork dinner for the eight of us, I strapped on my workout togs and set to killing myself again.
This time I was lucky enough to have a different audience. My little brother got home from work just in time to sit on the couch and occasionally look up from his computer to comment on the routine I was doing. I finished just in time to have a quick shower, and I mean a really quick shower, because my sister and her hubby and the kids were already there for dinner. The rest of the night was cake, aside from the after dinner clean up. The kids were a little on the cranky side so their dad took them home to put them to bed while my sister stuck around and we joined my parents in going through and organizing a giant box of old pictures that my dad had salvaged from my Grandmother’s farm-house in PA.
These pictures were amazing. We found some that had to be from as far back as the early part of the 1800s when photography was very new. Some of the extremely old ones need a bit of restoration done to them, but I was thrilled to get the chance to look at our family history and put names with faces that I had never seen before.
The best part was finding a picture of my grandmother, all 4’9″ of her, in a team picture for her high school basketball team and another of her wearing a costume for her roll as Martha Washington in a high school play. I guess I never realized before just how much alike we must have been, because I was so young when she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. After the pictures were organized we all decided to head to bed as it had gotten pretty late.
Day four was movie date day. I got to sleep in until about 9, ahhhhhhhh. It was lovely. Then mom and I had to run errands for my brother for a few hours. Around lunch time my sister brought the kids over for a quick lunch and then my mom and I took my nephew to the movies. Mom and I took him to see A Dolphin Tale at The Gem Theater. During the summer they show older releases for a $1 per ticket in the afternoons to help parents entertain their little ones. It was a real deal even with the large popcorn.
The good news is that my nephew is an amazing movie goer. He sat still, he ate his popcorn and occasionally asked, in his tiny little voice, if that was a dolphin on the screen. A large popcorn later, for my nephew that is, I think I had a few bites from the top of the container, but he polished the rest of that puppy off, we were headed out to run a few more errands, and grab a fro yo, then it was time to come home and do my workout, while mom made dinner for everyone.
I only got through the first 50 minutes of the yoga routine and realized that if I finished the remaining 40 I would be keeping everyone from eating on time. I settled for a half routine, as much as it pained me to do so, and jumped in the shower for a super quick rinse off.
After all of us had eaten and cleared up, my sister and her family went home and my mom was a champ and helped dye my hair. We were going for Ombre style with a dark shade underneath and a lighter shade on top, but I had been very cautious when I mixed the darker shade and the results were very subtle. After the color was washed out, we spent the rest of the evening, the whole two hours of it, relaxing on the sofa watching some T.V. and occasionally snacking on something tasty from the kitchen. I think it is fair to say that I ended up going a bit off diet on this trip. This would mark the first real moments of relaxation of my trip. And it only took four days to get there. HA!
Come back again on Friday for the second half of my story, I promise that it only gets crazier from here on out.