My son, Kyle; his wife, Dianna; and their two children, Caleb (10) and Mackenzie (6) were at Palm Coast, Florida on March 17th through the 23rd for the NCCAA Pro-Am tournament. Kyle is the head pro at Hillcrest County Club in Indianapolis and he has been involved with the NCCAA Pro-Am for the past ten years. This year, his annual trip to Florida for the Pro-Am offered us the opportunity to have the grandchildren come to our home and “camp out” with us. The two and a half hour drive to get to Palm Coast to get to see all of them seemed like a short trip.
Gary and I had a blast entertaining Caleb and Mackenzie. We packed a lot of activity into their 24 hour visit with us. In recapping the time spent with them, I likened the 24 hours to one week, only because of the energy it took to keep up with them. They are unbelievably well-behaved children and pure joy to be with. They seemed to enjoy their time spent at the ocean the most. Frolicking through the waves as the waves repeatedly chased them back to shore, like sandpipers, accompanied by squeals of laughter, was enough to bring tears to my eyes as it brought back memories of my two sons doing the very same thing as little children.
While playing at the beach we had to collect enough seashells so each child in Mackenzie and Caleb’s classes at school can get one as a souvenir. “Shelling” seems to be a beloved hobby of people of all ages.
Pat and Tom Dennis joined the four of us for a sail on White Swan. Tom had never sailed on a catamaran before and was curious as to how one handled. As it turned out, he and Pat were very good at participating in teaching the children a few things about sailing. Caleb had a turn at the wheel and very seriously concentrated on what he was instructed to do. He did a great job and could be a good sailor some day, with enough practice.
Caleb and Mackenzie were fascinated with the “crab pots” floating in the water. After they found out what they were, and what would happen if the boat were to catch one on it’s propeller, they became diligent look-outs for crab pots, pointing their positions out to the helmsman, who was Tom at the time. What we call “crab pots” are really the floats on the water to which a line is attached, with the other end of the line attached to a cage sitting on the bottom. The floats are of various colors, with each color indicating their owner. There is bait in the cage and the entrance of the cage allows to crabs to go in but not back out. This is the customary method of “crabbing”. The other method, used by amateurs is called “chicken necking”. Children, especially, love to catch crabs by this method. They simply tie a chicken neck onto a weighted line, throw it over the dock, wait for a crab to catch hold of the meat, slowly bring in the line, and catch the crab with a net just before it comes out of the water.
Our two novice sailors courageously managed to maneuver to the bow of the boat while we were sailing. Riding on the bow is my favorite place to be, because it is serenely quiet there, and I was glad they went forward to experience it. They were very good about obeying the boater’s “three point” rule: you must have three parts of your body (hands and feet) securely on the boat at all times. In releasing a grip with one hand, the other one needs to first have a solid hold, with both feet stable on the deck. Both of them learned boating safety quickly and they were good sailors.
Parcheesi is not only a fun game we play with the Mehrhof’s, we also have often played it with Mackenzie and Caleb. So after our dinner consisting of pizza and sherbet, we brought out the Parcheesi game (since we had no other entertainment to offer them, until we found out how much fun they could have playing games on our Iphones) and played to the point of boredom. Fortunately, the day’s activities exhausted them as much as it did me (Gary is an Ever Ready battery, he rarely wears down) and they were soon fast to sleep. We all “camped out” in our bedroom, Gary and I on the air mattress and each of them on a boat mattress.
The next morning after breakfast, we went back to the beach. Why I told their parents they didn’t need to bring their swimsuits is beyond me. Of course, they played in the waves, got wet from head to toe, and had a wonderful time doing so. We finished gathering more than enough seashells for their classmates, and then we went to the house for lunch.
Our swimming pool has remained a constant 65 degrees due to the cool nights and 70 degree days. However, the low temperature of the water (freezing, in my opinion) didn’t stop Caleb and Mackenzie from wanting to “just wade in it.” I knew Grandma Jean was going to be in big trouble with their parents, when Gary got in with them wearing his swim trunks… Yes, they ended up totally submersed and surprisingly, I didn’t see any goose bumps or chins quivering from the cold water. As it turned out, their mommy wasn’t upset at all. She said her doctor told her, “you don’t catch a cold from cold temperatures.” Back in “the day“, I would have never allowed my children to play in such cold water, as they would have surely “caught their death of cold”. Not only is the wording of that phrase ridiculous, it seems it’s been proven to be incorrect. I know nothing about rearing children these days. Things have changed… It’s a good thing my only responsibility as a grandparent is to “spoil them rotten and send them home”.
After nice warm showers, and packing the car, we journeyed north to return to the resort in Palm Coast where parents awaited the arrival of their absent children. When arrangements were verbally made for the grandkids’ visit with us, Kyle asked if Gary and I would like to spend the night at the resort when we brought the kids back. Of course we did. This place was unbelievably extravagant. Their suite was as large as our house, with three bedrooms, each having a private bathroom; a full sized kitchen; living room; laundry room; fancy chandeliers everywhere; a wrap-around balcony; and a private elevator (which was not available for use at the time). Gary nor I had ever experienced such fancy accommodations in our lives. We could get used to that…
The evening dinner was delicious, beyond our expectations. Everyone involved with the Pro-Am was there, and Kyle and Di introduced us to a lot of their NCCAA friends. Kyle’s golf coach from college, Dan Woods, is the executive director of the NCCAA, and his wife, Kelly, is also involved in the organization. It was good to see both of them again and we are proud of what they do in this great organization. Mostly, we are proud of Kyle’s involvement, and parental bragging rights surfaced when he was presented an award that evening. The evening’s entertainment was a Christian singer who used to sing with, and compose songs for the group, “4 HIM”. We met him after the concert, and when Kyle introduced me as “his mother”, Mark gave me a big hug. I was honored and interpreted the gesture as a symbol of his Christian love and admiration for Kyle.
Sleeping in a “real bed” was a treat. You would think, we would take advantage of a nice, “long” shower, but that just isn’t who we are anymore. Living on a boat has taught us the value of conserving water. Conserving water is something we do now all the time, on or off the boat. And water anywhere in Florida, is a precious commodity.
Kyle was already on the golf course, finishing his participation in the tournament, when we got up the next morning. Our goodbyes to him were said the night before. After a buffet breakfast with Di, Caleb, and Mackenzie, we said our goodbyes to them as well, and then had a quiet trip back to West Melbourne.
“Spoil them rotten and send them home.” We could get used to that…