Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Schwartz's vs The Naval Aviation Museum

Coolest.  Museum.  Ever!

So Saturday morning the weather once again said clear skies until about 2 pm.  So I lathered the whole family up in sunscreen and we headed out to the beach.  As we crossed the bridge into Pensacola Beach the bottom fell out and it rained so much I refused to get out of the car while we waited to see if this was just a "small pop up shower".  It wasn't!  So we decided to head back to the house, change our clothes, pack our beach clothes and take them with us, and head to the Naval Aviation Museum.  It was so cool we spent 5 or 6 hours there and not one tantrum or "I'm bored" was had.

This place is the most well thought out, well designed, and most interesting museum I've ever been to.  I would have loved to have stood and read more of the signs but Sarah and Cody were having too much fun running around so I kept up with them and let Chris take his time reading and being in heaven.  

What I loved most about this place was I didn't see one single "do not touch" sign, sure there were a few "do not climb" but those were necessary because they had so many awesome cock pits that you could to climb into and flip switches.  

It was so amazing to see all the huge planes and jets.  They even have parts of a zeppelin hanging on the ceiling!  They have a huge sea plane that was one of the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  And they have a Marine One, which I learned is only called that when the President is on board.  I also learned that a lot of the planes on display came from Lake Michigan.  Apparently a long time ago when they decommissioned a plane they would just sink it in the lake.  So now they've been working on pulling them up, restoring them and putting them on display.

One last cool thing about this museum before you scroll through and look at the pictures.  On the second floor they have a flight deck simulation and we happened upon it right as it was about to start.  It's a movie that they let small groups in.  First there is a small movie while you are on some transport plane that explains all the different people you'll see working once we arrive at the carrier.  The captain explained that it was like a bag of skittles and told what all the different color uniforms indicated and the fun nicknames they had, like the fuel guys are called grapes because they wear purple.  Then, you "land" on the carrier and move to its deck.  On deck you watch as a couple of helicopters and about 5 jets take off and land.  They blow wind at you and the smell of jet fuel as the jets take off.  Sarah was holding her hair cause she didn't want her pony tail to blow away.  And I couldn't tell whose smile was bigger, Chris's or Cody's.  

Alright, on to the pictures, scroll as quickly as you please.

Sarah climbing into one of the older versions of the Blue Angels cockpit.

Sarah and Natalie in some propeller plane.  (I didn't read very many labels, sorry.)

Cody playing on the carrier command deck play structure.  That was his FAVORITE part of the museum.

Chris and Cody in "the greatest place on earth" according to Chris.

Sarah showing me this cool seat she found.  It's a full scale model of the Little Boy, you know the atomic bomb.

So what if I let my kids sit on bombs.

Full scale model of the Fat Man, atomic bomb.

Cody manning the gun turret. 

Sarah working the other side of the turret.

The family that shoots down planes together, stays together?

In front of a WWI bunker.

The WWI bunker was right outside of the Cubi Cafe which was such a cool place to eat.  The walls were covered with plaques from different squadrons and missions.  We had a great time reading all the fun call signs and playing eye spy with Sarah having her find the different symbols.  Where we were sitting you could see the bar area and it was decorated with different pilot helmets.  Really neat stuff to see.

I tried to buckle Sarah into this flight chair.

When I couldn't figure it out, a helpful veteran volunteer strapped her down.

Cody and I flying the Sea Cobra.

Sarah in some jet.  Sorry, reading is not my strong suit.

Chris and Sarah all ready to go in the Sea Cobra.

Cody took a while to warm up to playing in the cock pits.  But here he finally was enjoying himself.  The A-7 was his favorite and got a little annoyed when it was another kid's turn.  He kept grabbing the joystick and yelling, "Blast off!"

Then we went out to Hanger One to see some more cool stuff.

In front of the Marine One.  It's ok to call it the Marine One here because they had a President Nixon on board.

Chris in front of the last Tomcat to fly a mission.

A little background, my kids love Little Einsteins cartoons.  And the bad guy in them is a big blue jet named, Big Jet.  So when they see the Blue Angel in Millington they often call it Big Jet.  Here Stephanie and Sarah were walking past and Sarah reached out and grabbed the front and started saying, "Ha ha Big Jet!  I got your nose!  I got your nose!"

This is Chris's favorite jet, the F4 Phantom 2.  They had the Blue Angel cockpit at the front of the museum but the kids ran off before Chris got a turn.  He politely asked if we could circle back before we left.  Thankfully they had this F4 Phantom 2 in Hanger One so we didn't have to go all the way back to the front before we left.  He was very happy.

Pretending to fly the F4 Phantom 2.

I highly recommend the National Naval Aviation museum for anyone going to Pensacola!  Especially since it's free.  I'm sure we'll go again when the kids are older especially since we didn't see everything.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Schwartz's vs the Quick Trip to Pensacola, Day 1

We have some good friends who live in Pensacola and we haven't visited them in a while, and Sarah hasn't been to the beach since she was 9 months old, AND Cody's never been...so we recently invited ourselves down to their place for a visit.  Thankfully, they tolerated our imposition and welcomed us down for a nice weekend at the beach.  

Stephanie and Michael have been wanting to try out paddle boarding so the rented a couple the first day  we were there.  The guy said the morning cloud cover was supposed to clear out and then be good until 3 when the rain was going to set in.  This was not the case.  However, not to be deterred we set out to the sound side and hoped the skies would clear. 

We did get about a 2 hour break in the rain in the morning and unloaded the boards and toys.  Cody immediately set out digging holes and building sand castles.  Yelling, "Mommy!  Watch this! Sandcastles in sand!"  
Digging in the sand

Chris and Stephanie were the first two out on the boards and while Stephanie did fall off her first time getting to her feet, Chris only stumbled a bit.  I would like to point out when it was mine and Michael's turn to try we didn't fall at all.  Ha!
Uh oh!

But everyone did eventually get the hang of it and paddle boarding was tons of fun!  It's surprising how many muscles it takes to do it.  Aside from the obvious core control to stay up, and arms and core to pull the paddle the outsides of my calves were also screaming at how much work they were doing to keep me stable and adjust to the waves.

Thank goodness Sarah has a lifejacket because, as I'll mention a few times, she is not afraid of the water.  I asked if she wanted to ride with Chris and then he set off without her to get the hang of it.  I turn to look at Cody for just a second and she's swimming out to get on the board with him yelling, "Wait Daddy!  Come back!  I want to ride with you!"  I had to go out over waist deep to catch up with her and bring her back in to wait for Chris to come back with the paddle board.

Riding the board with Chris

Meanwhile, Cody wanted NOTHING to do with the water.  He was perfectly content to keep playing in the sand.

That is until he noticed all the birds.  Then he spent a fair amount of time chasing them.

As you can tell in the above picture our break from the rain was quickly coming to an end.  The sky over the gulf was getting dark fast and so we started moving as quickly as we could to pack everything up and get the boards loaded back onto the car.  We didn't make it and did get caught in the deluge while loading.  So to make the most of the rain time we headed to lunch and enjoyed some fresh baja style mexican food and took a walk on the boardwalk.

I'm so confused by beach names.  This says we were on Quitewater Beach, but I thought we were at Pensacola Beach.  No idea.  

After lunch and with blue skies off in the distance we tried another beach on the sound, Gulfbreeze I believe was the name, to see if we could do some more paddle boarding.  The water was much calmer there and the guys were able to go out much father on the boards.  Chris is the tiny dot on the right, and that little pink thing at the front was Sarah.  With the water being calmer and Chris better at paddling boarding by this time Sarah was also more comfortable.  He said she was dipping her toes in the water and leaning to the sides to run her hands in it.  She was having a great time.

However, as you can tell by the dark skies our break in the weather was short lived and we got stuck under a very nice pavilion for about an hour loading in small spurts while the rain wasn't "coming down too hard" as we packed everything up.  Paddle boarding was tons of fun and when we go to the beach again I would definitely rent a pair for the family to use.  Especially when the kids are older and Cody can also sit on the front of the board.  That would be a nice way to spend the day playing at the beach.

We headed home after that to grab some showers and get ready to go out to eat.  Of course, while we were all cleaning up the rain completely cleared out and we had a beautiful evening.  We ate at Hemingway's and were able to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view.  Chris and I both had awesome steaks.  I don't buy souvenirs on vacations, instead I bring home a souvenir 10lbs because I eat like crazy while on vacation.  Most of my time is spent considering where and what to eat next.  Dessert at lunch!  Heck yeah!

And then since it wasn't raining we enjoyed a nice walk on the board walk and piers.  Except it's not nice for a mom who has a fear of heights and anxiety over some fearless children.  Sarah was running around like a crazy woman and Cody, not to be out done insisted on yelling, "Mommy!  Watch this!"  And would then proceed to run, jump as high as he could in the air, and land on his but.  The meantime I'm telling them to stay in the middle  of the pier and don't get that close to the edge, and stop running!
Taking a walk

Well, it was more like a run

Sarah did eventually fall down and scrape up her knee pretty bad but thankfully we had gotten this wonderful family picture first.

Schwartz Family
Pensacola 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Schwartz's vs Lakin' it Up

I'm sure I've mentioned it before but 3 years ago Chris's parents bought a fixer-upper lake house in AR.  And they've steadily been working on it almost every weekend for 3 years.  It's really coming together! Especially since I haven't been over there since I was pregnant with Cody.  Just this past month they got new siding and a shiny new roof put on and the place is looking great (from the outside).  Chris was supposed to work upstairs in the attic Saturday but the yard needed some TLC.  So we decided to work really hard in the yard all morning, blow off nap time, and meet up with Ma and Pa Schwartz at the lake after they finished up some work on the house.  

The kids were so good all morning and very excited to go and see Grandma and Grandpa's boat.  When we got there they ran around the guts of the house and out to the deck Cody leading the charge yelling, "A boooooaaattttt!  Boat! Boat!"  And Sarah was dying to change into her swim stuff.  

As soon as we hoped on the boat Sarah made herself comfortable saying, "I'm going to sit like this!" (top left) While Cody walked around the boat but mostly just wanted to drive it.

After we got out of the canal it was time to start tubing.  I've never been tubing before.  I was a little worried Sarah would freak out and hate it but she LOVED it!  She was very upset when it wasn't her turn.  

Top left: Cody driving the boat with Chris
Top Right: Cody and Natalie tubing
Bottom Left: Natalie and Chris tubing
Bottom Right: Sarah and Natalie tubing

After Chris and Sarah took the first ride on the tube it was time for Cody and me to give it a try.  From the minute we got in the tube Cody hated it.  He was yelling "Daddy!!!!" and crying.  I distracted him for a few minutes trying to get him to look for fish.  But that only lasted briefly then he mustered all the enunciation he could and said very clearly, "Get. Off. Please." Pausing between each word to make sure he was understood.  So I signaled to daddy and we stopped.  That was the last time he got on the tube.  

Click to make bigger!

Then Sarah rode with Grandpa and had a great time.  Chris drove the boat and somehow managed to toss Grandpa off the tube, but Sarah hung on like a champ.  Which then lead to Chris and I riding and basically trying to do stupid things to get thrown off the tube.  We were bouncing on it and leaning too far off to the side.  After being thrown a fair number of times it was time to throw in the anchor and swim for a bit.

Sarah was fearless swimming around and jumping off the boat into the water.  Cody was forced in and unhappy about it.  He wanted back on the boat and saw his chance when he noticed Chris was lifting Sarah out of the water onto the boat so she could jump in.  He quickly yelled, "My turn!" And then ran to the back of the boat after he was lifted on to it.  That was the last time he got in the water.  But he did have a great time.  He just wanted to spend his time running around on the boat instead of playing in the lake.

After a little more tubing, and my first time driving the boat which was likened unto a drunk driver it was time to head back and grill some hot dogs.  It's funny to me now that they've had the lake house for 3 years and we've only been 2 times.  I don't know why we don't go more often.  I guess we need to start having Chris get up and work in the attic earlier and quit around 2 or 2:30.  Then we could head to the lake house to cool off and relax.  Of course, if he would finish our upstairs he could just go over to the lake house more often to help out and that could get finished more quickly too.  Alas, there are only so many hours in a Saturday and only so many Saturdays in year.  But right now I'm checking the calendar to see when is the next free Saturday to go to the lake.