Cousin Time


With Uncle B on the ship heading our way, Aunt L and the boys drove down to help us give them a loving welcome. They came a day early and at the hotel next door so EJ got to spend a lot of quality time with her cousins.

Avia made some delicious homemade pizzas and we laid out a blanket and enjoyed a picnic together.


Then C and O jiggled EJ up a bit on the bed. She was in her glory!


Despite the cold and windy weather, we bundles up the kids and went for a walk along the beach. They discovered a giant sandcastle to climb on and fire fountain to huddle around.


The best part of the night, according to EJ, was swimming in her cousin's pool. She hadn't been swimming since our Bahrain trip and was thrilled to get her swimsuit on with her cousins.



They walked hand in hand to the pool.


And jumped right in!


I wasn't planning on having CJ swim this time but he wasn't about to be left out. Avia had no problem rolling up her pants and getting in with him.


EJ was thrilled to be with her cousins who swam like fish.


We had a wondreful night together before the big homecoming day. They gave me the much needed distraction to help the time go by quickly.

USS Enterprise Tiger Cruise

 

DaddyO got to fly home early because he was in charge of the advance detachment for the 2012 USS ENTERPRISE Final Tiger Cruise. He was responsible to on-load all 1400+ Tigers in 3 hrs. In the mix were his two most important Tigers, his brother and father. PopPop was on the bus driving down from Norfolk that got a flat tire and Uncle B flew down with no issues after Hurricane Sandy caused all sorts of issues for the North East.


With DaddyO's phone ringing non-stop, PopPop and Uncle B got to see their little brother/son in action. Once on board the first thing was to show them the stateroom.


It was a great experience because DaddyO's room was empty so all three O's could sleep in the three racks stacked on top of each other.


DaddyO was off the ship for 10+ days, but had to get right back to work. You can see him in the V4 Division Office with the purple door.


They swung by the arresting gear engines.


And then ended up in the tower where DaddyO took control of the return of 4 helicopters for the cruise. 


Next it was off to the flight deck. In full flight deck uniform, they got to experience what DaddyO did for the last 8 months.

 

Uncle B and PopPop also got to experience some unique experiences, the last every "funky" shoot off of the USS Enterprise. In front of thousands of Tigers, DaddyO got dressed up in a full spandex suit and launched aircraft for the last time off of the USS Enterprise.

  


Another tradition that PopPop and Bro got to experience was the Boot Shoot. The Shooters all shot their boots off of the catapults to celebrate the last launching of aircraft in their Naval career. With over 8,500 launches during the cruise, the 8 shooters were the last flight deck shooters on the USS Enterprise. 


DaddyO had to take PopPop to the smoke deck every once and a while, but it gave him the opportunity to celebrate the last night on board the ship while underway with a cigar in company of his father and brother.


DaddyO has now made the sunset cruise on two ships, the USS Kittyhawke and USS Enterprise.

First Sunrise

makes a beautiful wake-up
A beautiful sunrise made waking up a bit easier after a late night of driving. I will never tire of the view. 

We arrived at Uncle J's house a little after nine the night before, just in time for a quick dinner and conversation with him and Claire. EJ stayed awake the whole 9 hour drive up but finally fell asleep on our 15 minute drive to the condo.

Avia and PopPop arrived with Capri the next day. She wasn't too sure about the elevators at first but quickly acclimated to it and settled into enjoying the views of the beach.


EJ and Avia sate down for tea.


 And Christian hung out with PopPop.


 

Lone Drive North


After a wonderful week trekking around FL with DaddyO, we had to say goodbye one last time as he headed back on the ship for his last cruise up to Norfolk.


This time it was only two legs to get home. We followed caravan after caravan of electric trucks heading north with us to help with the aftermath of Sandy devastation.


We made a stop at Aunt S's house in South Caroline and spent two beautiful days with her and Uncle D before the last 8 hour drive to our new home.


carving with uncle d
 The drive between NC and VA was a bit longer than my gps projected, but we had some fun stops along the way to break up the drive.


I sure do love my travel buddies.

Neighborhood Friends

end of the line
It was wonderful returning to Pensacola and seeing dear friends. We didn't need moving away to realize how truly special they were to us, but having them a thousand miles away was a strong reminder.

all smiles
 EJ was in her glory to spend a long weekend with her very special friend N. It's a wonderful relationship because not only are the girls best friends but her parents are ours as well.


We first met at a library story-time, got to know each other better through a holistic mom's group, and sealed our friendship through sewing play-dates. DaddyO immediately hit it off with her father who was a bit of a Renaissance man himself (builder, artist, computer man, etc.). Conversions were never dull!

little princesses
Nothing had changed after being away for almost a year. The girls immediately put on their princess dresses and headed up to the play room. It was a weekend full of doing everything we loved to do.

It was hard to say goodbye but at least we know our paths will always cross. Who knows, we may be much closer in a few years. That is my hope!

Our Broken House


surveying the repairs to her "broken" house
Besides being home early to spend time with the family, having DaddyO in Jacksonville for a couple weeks allowed us to make the six hour drive to Pensacola to see our fire damaged house.


Neighbors and friends had sent pictures of the damage but nothing compared to seeing it in person. We were about a month and a half into the repairs and renovations. Lathe and plaster walls and popcorn ceilings had been removed inside the house and the back walls had been torn off. I could stand in the second floor front bedroom and see through the walls to the backyard. It was still hard to envision the end result of the repairs and renovations but big progress was being made.


Here is is the initial damage:



The house boarded up:
Demolition:

 


And repairs underway:

 

We realized seeing the house made an impression on EJ when she started calling it her broken house. Thankfully big changes are under way and it won't be broken much longer. By the time the repairs and renovations are complete the back roof line will be extended, the first floor ceilings raised, and a second story porch added. DaddyO is afraid that if I return to see the house I won't be willing to leave it. That is probably true.

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