Yes, I know, I left you hanging once again. I have so wanted to post about our trip since we returned home, but last week was so very busy and full, I never got the chance. We spent last Monday cleaning up and putting away all the stuff we had taken. Thankfully Brian was home to help out with all that. But then Tuesday we began scurrying to catch up on school work, attend different activities, do laundry and prepare for Halloween and All Saints Day. Then there was our homeschool co-op on Friday as usual. Saturday Robin and I attended the quilt show (another whole post). And Sunday we were cheerfully occupied with Mass, a birthday party and a couple of errands. Last night I was finally able to stay up for a while, sort through our vacation photos and create a slide show. There were so many photos I wanted to share, I thought this was the best way to show them. Hopefully it's not one big bore!
Today we are off to a much more normal start. We got going earlier this morning and are now completed with most of our work for the day. The kids all got up at their normal times, around 7:30 am. The problem is that now 7:30 am is 6:30 am. Oh, well. It has been a good morning so far. The kids are absolutely loving the pleasant weather we've been having since we returned home. They have played outside so much - something they couldn't and didn't want to do all summer. They are taking pillows and blankets and books to the playset and just laying on the fort part. It is a blessing to have such lovely weather. I think tomorrow the temperatures will drop some and I know they will love that!
Once upon a time I thought I would compose a long, reflective, thoughtful post about our trip and all we did. But now I see that just ain't gonna happen. My brain cells are seriously lacking and I don't think I have it in me to do that kind of post. Plus, I want to move on. There are other things I want to post. So some scattered thoughts will have to suffice.
By far, the most memorable part of the trip was the shuttle launch - the whole reason for the trip in the first place. It was an amazing thing to experience and made you feel a great sense of awe and wonder for the incredible minds God has given to humans. Such great minds that could dream up and create and actually get man into outer space.
We made the trek to Florida because a while back Brian had won an award for some work he had done. The award was a trip to see the shuttle launch for him and a guest. Well, he wanted to take more than one guest. For a long time we couldn't figure out how to make it work. There were a number of events that only Brian and a guest over 18 could attend - long tours, tour bus, etc. I couldn't go to these and take Michael along (he kind of still needs me around). So we devised a grand plan to ALL go and take Brian's parents.
We all stayed in a two bedroom, two bathroom villa at the hotel where the awards events were hosted - way fun!
The evening we arrived, Brian took his mom with him to a fancy dinner for all the award recipients from NASA and the various contractors. His dad and I stayed back and got tired kids in bed.
The next morning, his parents stayed with all the kids while Brian and I went to a lovely awards breakfast for the recipients from his company.
The next day, there was an all day tour of Kennedy Space Center. Brain took his dad to that while Brian's mom and I took the kids swimming.
The next day we had to prepare for the launch. Brian and his dad went on the tour bus to the VIP viewing area at Banana Creek. His mom and I took the kids to another location to wait for the launch. This special Space View park was in a town called Titusville about a mile further away from the shuttle than Brian and his dad.
The shuttle was set to launch at 11:38am on the 23rd, but there was only a 40% chance go for that day. We were a little nervous we might really have to leave and not see the shuttle launch. We knew all along that was a risk, but the reality of it was sad. The kids and Gamma and I arrived at the park around 10am and got settled. Then we waited. I was amazed how quickly the time passed, all the while wondering if we'd be making this crazy trek again the next day. At some point, things were go for launch and then the anticipation really built up! It sunk in. This is really going to happen! Then the time flew by. There was 20 minutes. Then 10 minutes. All of sudden there was only 5 minutes until liftoff. I recall that at T minus 4 minutes, I was scrambling to find my glasses. What a difference corrective vision makes! The time leading up to the launch, those very last minutes are so exciting and sooooo emotional. Then it goes. And before you know it, the shuttle is just a speck in the blue sky. And only a short 8 or so minutes later, the main engines shutoff and the shuttle reaches orbit. We all commented on how QUICKLY it is all over and done. And then it almost feels odd to pack it up and leave shortly thereafter. Brian got some fantastic video. Once home, we played it through our stereo speakers at a high volume level and we could really experience the same sounds and feelings Brian did.
I am so thrilled we all got to have this wonderful launch experience. I was nervous about the whole thing before we left on the trip, but as the days went by I was more and more glad with each of those days that we had all come to Florida. It was a wonderful time for our family!
We did so many other things aside from the launch. I guess I will just list some of my favorite things.
1. Staying in the villa was majorly wonderful. So much room to spread out, a full kitchen and a washer/dryer!
2. The slide at the hotel pool was way too fun. I am not sure who went down more - me or the kids.
3. The car ride was better than I ever could have expected. Perfect? No. Manageable, pleasant and fun? You bet. I would so do it again!
4. Sharing Epcot with the kids was lots of fun. We didn't even care that it rained on us most of the time. Someday we really look forward to going back and doing the whole thing!
5. Downtown Disney was neat too! From those of you who live nearby, think Kemah on steroids.
6. It was a blessing to have no computer with email and internet, no normal life to keep me occupied, no chores begging to be done. We all spent more time just enjoying each other.
7. The Atlantic was lovely - much the way I remember it looking on our honeymoon. But we did not like the teeny tiny flying bugs that bit us in the parking lot! What were those anyway????
8. We so enjoyed traveling with Gamma and Pappa.
9. Pensacola Beach is gorgeous!!!!! The beaches are to die for! For those of you who are familiar with our local Galveston beach - THIS IS NOT THE SAME GULF OF MEXICO!!!! We are going back very soon to spend more time and see the sights in the area.
10. Peanut butter and jelly at home has never tasted so good!