Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Surprise 4th

It all started with an e-mail from my sister on Thursday. A seemingly innocent e-mail sent to me asking what we had planned for the 4th of July weekend..."Nothing special, just a BBQ with the kids, brother and mom". I had off on Friday, so I decided to pick the kids up from their jobs as camp counselors. Since we haven't had a real vacation in 4 years (due to our situation with Mike and finances) I thought the least I could do was take the kids to Friendly's for lunch. Afterward, I decided that instead of going to Target on Saturday, I would go then, so I would have plenty of time to do the numerous "chores" I had planned for the long weekend. As we left Friendly's, I got a call on my cell phone from my sister. I noticed that she was calling from her cell phone. I had just spoken to my niece that morning to see how her new job was going. I was hoping everything was OK. She asked if I was home (clue #1), "no" I explained, we were on our way to Target. "Oh" she said and asked if my mom was at my house. (clue #2) "No" I explained, she was tired and went home. My sister sounded disappointed. I told her my brother was at home, she said "oh". I told her that if she needed to talk, I would be home in about an hour. I clicked my cell phone shut, my hands were shaking and I said to Courtney and Brandon, "I think Aunt Gail is in NY". They asked why, so explained my suspicions. I called my mom and told her the same thing. My sister and her family had just come in for Courtney's graduation less than a month ago, so I started questioning my hunch. We were walking in Target, I turned a corner and there was my sister, brother-in-law and 2 nieces. We acted like fools in the store, we were all so excited, I'm not sure who was happier to see who. So began our "Surprise 4th of July Weekend". {She wanted to surprise us and just show up at our house, but when they got there and didn't see my car, she called me to find out where we were}.

I should have known we were off to a crazy start when after my sister came out of the bathroom at Target, she explained to us that there was a woman inside who went into labor. Luckily there was a nurse in the bathroom that was able to help her. We went home and happily explained to Mike about our surprise guests. They treated us to take-out from Chili's and then we went to see the firework display at the local fair. My BIL stayed at home with Mike so I was able to go with my sister and the kids. For some reason, Brandon didn't want to go, so he stayed behind with my BIL. We parked in Hofstra's parking lot and got front row spots to a great firework display. Had my sister not come in, this was something we would have never been able to do. We had a great time and laughed ALOT, my only regret was that Brandon wasn't with us.

Sometime during the day on Friday, my sister decided it would be "fun" to cook breakfast on the beach, the way my dad did for us all those years ago. We got up early, my sister came over around 7am and we were supposed to leave. Unfortunately, Mike started coughing alot and I didn't want to leave him. Elaine (our new aid) wasn't due to be in until 8:30. I asked Charlie (my BIL) if he felt comfortable staying with Mike for that 1/2 hour until Elaine came and he said "no problem". I knew he appeared to be a little concerned and uncomfortable, but he still said yes anyway. Had I not been totally sure that Mike was going to be OK, I would not have gone, but he seemed to be finishing up on his coughing spasm. We headed out, only to find out when we got to the designated BBQ parking lot, all the BBQ grills were being used or saved. One man told us he had been there since 5AM. It was about 8:30am and we were totally looking forward to this breakfast on the beach. I knew I had a portable grill at home, so I left my sister with Courtney, and my nieces, and headed home with Brandon - who, in the end, decided to stay home. :( I hit another snag when I couldn't find our table-top grill, so off to Rite-Aid I went. Mission accomplished, I headed BACK to the beach -thank goodness, we're only 15 minutes away. By the time I got back (around 9:15) the place was even more crowded. People actually bring tents and air mattresses with the intent on staying there all day until the firework display at 10pm.

Why did I think that Matchlight Charcoal would light without lighter fluid - oh yeah, that's right, because that's what their advertisement says it will do. No luck. My sister had to borrow lighter fluid from another family. The coals got so hot so fast that we cooked a pound of bacon in about 10 minutes, pancakes and egg sandwiches were made in another 15. By this time we had frisbees flying around us, which would not have been a big deal, had the coals in our grill not been so hot. Twice we thought something was going to go up in flames and that included the flying umbrella. It was SO windy that day. After a leisurely breakfast and great opportunity for people watching, we decided to pack up and head across the parkway to the actual beach. At this point, I was relieved that Brandon did not stay. With his weak ankles, he would have NEVER been able to do all that walking, especially on the sand down to the beach. My sister and I stood in knee deep water, while the kids went further into the waves. The water was REALLY cold, but we were able to get used to it after a while. My niece, Lauren was having so much fun. At one point she decided to sit down in the water and she was laughing so hard when 2 waves came. Needless to say, she swallowed alot of salt water and was not happy. Shortly after that, we headed back home to shower and get ready for our BBQ at home - on a "regular" grill with all the right equipment. We showered and changed and got ready for 4th of July night. ..continued in the next blog.

Pictures are of me and our grill at the beach making breakfast and Brandon at home on our grill making dinner. July 4, 2009.

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