Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Trip that Never Was

We planned to go on a trip to Cincinnati to visit my brother's family and attend my nephew's birthday party. But something I have learned as a parent is that "we planned" and "we did" are two totally different statements and too many things can happen to prevent the "we planned" from becoming a "we did." Needless to say, I am now writing this blog and not enjoying birthday cake at this moment. So let me tell you how "the trip that never was" happened.

I guess it all started with an apple.

I thankfully went to work this Saturday morning. A lot of you may be saying, "why were you thankful to work, its a Saturday?" But then there are the parents out there saying, "you lucky dog, you got away from the children. How can I work on Saturday? Is McDonalds looking for weekend shifts?" While at work, I get the dreaded '3 calls in a row.' The '3 calls in a row' means 1 of 3 things: blood, puke, or nervous breakdown ('maternal' nervous breakdown.) I get a chance to return the calls and my wife tells me a story that Nate, the 22 month old, was walking around eating an apple. Now we have a hole in our upstairs wall in the shape of my wife's size 6 shoe which is a result from a previous '3 calls in a row' moment. But it was not for the reason of blood or puke. Draw your own conclusions; it was just one of those days. Anyway, the hole has been there for 2 years and it is out of the way so I have not gotten around to fixing it because its going to take more than a little putty on the wall. So Lindsey was upstairs and hears Nate saying "Apple? Apple?" She turns around and Nate is standing with his arm down the hole asking for her to get his apple he has now dropped down the hole and could have probably fallen 1 whole story to within our staircase in the wall. Needless to say, our house will soon have the rich aroma of fresh apples like an aromatic Glade Plug-in which will eventually then turn into the putrid smell of rotting apple and mold exuding from behind our walls.

On the way home from work, I stop and pick up my car from the repair shop. It had a rattling sound in the engine which turned out to be a loose alternator bolt which was fixed (important for later.) The plan was to leave for Cincinnati as soon as I got home so the 2 younger boys could take their naps in the car. And since my car was fixed, we thought we would save some money on gas and load the 3 car seats into my Honda Civic instead of the minivan to take the 2 hour car trip. I barely fit the seats all into the backseat, but I did it. We are looking to save money anywhere we can including on food. So for lunch, Lindsey had made perogies for me and the kids but forgot I was picking up my car. An hour later when I got home, the perogies had turned into a rubber-coated pasta filled with a cold gelatinous mass that used to be spinach and feta cheese. I literally had to use a steak knife to cut into them cause a fork couldn't do it. Of course the kids hated them so they had tortilla wraps with turkey and Drew had a peanut butter tortilla roll-up. I ask for some tortillas to make a quesadilla but she used the last one on the kids. Well they didn't finish their roll-ups, and because there was no other food in the house, I took their half-eaten roll-ups, ate the half-eaten slices of turkey, and put cheese on the half-eaten tortilla shells. And as I am scraping the peanut butter off of Drew's, I think to myself, "We are by no means poor. Why am I recycling tortilla shells?" So my lunch is made up of rubber perogies and half-eaten, recycled, peanut butter tasting quesadillas. On the island in our kitchen is the last slice of turkey I am thinking for one of our kids since they were still hungry. But while I am thinking this, Lindsey comes over, picks it up and feeds it to the dog! While choking down perogies I yell, "Why is the dog eating better than I am?" To which my wife stands there and pees herself laughing at me. And at the same time, Drew comes up to inform me Joey, our puppy, just pooped behind the couch. Then Zachary tells us he is hungry, so Lindsey decides it would be a good idea to get McDonalds for the kids on the way out of town, to which I dump the remaining rubber lunch in the garbage.

So we all load up the civic, 3 kids in the back and luggage in the trunk, and leave for Cincinnati. We stop at McDonalds and my wife gets out to retrieve her purse from the trunk. I know the trunk latch tends to not always connect so it takes some slamming of the trunk to close, which she tries but it doesn't close. I give the kids the 20 piece mcnugget bag and I go out to close the trunk. But it wont close. I started slamming and slamming and slamming. But it will not latch. So I try more slamming, while Drew and Nate start banging on the windows to imitate the slamming trunk. Now I am just slamming it in anger when a random stranger comes over to try his luck. But it still wont close. So we drive to a nearby fire station to get duct tape to build up the latch to try to get it to connect. But no luck there, so the fireman graciously duct tapes my trunk closed. And while this is happening, the 6 and 3 year old have an embarrassing screaming match with one another in front of the fireman because the boys are literally 6 inches apart from one another. I get back in the car frustrated at the whole situation and ready for my chicken mcnuggets to find out that my 3 wonderful children left me 3 nuggests out of the 20 piece. I am surprised though that my wife didn't save some, not for me but for the dog. So we begin to drive home to figure out this trunk thing when after some debate, we decide the duct tape will hold so lets just keep going. Well we make it another 5 miles down the road and guess what...the rattling that was fixed this morning is back again! And it is worse than before. When I call the auto repair shop, they state that they are closing in the next 10 minutes and tell me to bring it in on Monday. Knowing we wont make it down to Cincinnati safely, we turn around again and head home for the last time. At this point, we are 10 minutes from home and look in the backseat to see all 3 children asleep. I don't know about you but our children do not transition well from the car to their beds. A 15-20 minute car nap typically replaces the usual 2 hour bed nap leaving the children exhausted, frustrated and in bad moods for the rest of the day which causes the parents to be exhausted, frustrated and in worse moods. So at seeing our 3 little sleeping angels knowing that in 10 minutes when we get home they will be 3 screaming devils, I look to my wife and say, "I hate this day. I really do." We get home and carry the 2 younger ones up to their beds to which they immediately wake up and both start crying. Lindsey grabs Zachary to take to a friends house, but we all know she is escaping, and I am left with the 2 remaining screaming banshees. But by God's grace they both fall asleep again in 5 minutes with little parental interaction. Because if not, I might have still made the trip, alone.

And side note, tonight Joey, our puppy, decided to leave a giant pee spot at the top of our stairs literally 5 minutes after spending 30 minutes outside, which I walked through twice.

So that was our trip that never was. We spent 2 hours in the car, drove 15 miles and ended where we began...without cake.

So next time you "plan" a trip, think to yourself, "Can't they just come here?"

The Joyful and Tired Dad

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Part 2 - a pictorial

"We need a new puppy. It would be the best thing for this family right now." "Our current dog needs a companion, someone to play with to keep her company." "There is no greater gift you can give a child than a puppy to grow up with." All of these statements were said to talk Daddy into 10-12 year commitment of chewed up clothes, furniture, and fingers, brown and yellow stained carpet, late night/early morning barking sessions, 3 in the morning potty breaks, $300 vet bills, and a fortune spent on Resolve carpet cleaner; otherwise known as ... a puppy. His name is Joey, a Shipoo but who I have lovingly nicknamed "Suck Puppy." Because he may be half shitzhu and half poodle but he is all 'Suck.' But instead of me describing it to you I thought I would present a pictorial for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Don't let the looks fool you (like it did us), this is what he is capable of:

I am just glad he's cute,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

And coming soon: It seemed like a good idea at the time: Part 3 - The Children

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So There is a Downside to 6 Pounds of Candy?

So as you know from my last post, our nephews have been staying with us ages 7 and 9. We have been doing many fun things with them they normally don’t get to do and actually our kids don’t get to do either. Like tent camping in our backyard, vacation bible school in the mornings, watching Netflix movies, and having ice cream for dinner. That was a fun night. Side story: We went to Menchies, which is a self-serve soft serve ice cream joint where you can pick from 12 different flavors then choose from 50 different toppings to add. So my oldest nephew, Ben went ballistic in there. For one, it was ice cream for dinner so that is all we had. No protein, no veggies, no bread, only candy, ice cream and hot fudge sauce. So anyway, Ben loaded his bowl with about 20 ounces of ice cream and then topped it with Butterfinger, snickers, white chocolate chips, Oreos, and then my favorites, gummy worms and sour patch kids. So he covered the 4 basic food groups: ice cream, chocolate, cookies, and sour fruit flavored gummies. It was a balanced dinner. Lindsey tried a bite and almost threw up. But he loved it and ate the whole thing. So needless to say it was a week of sugar-filled outings. Which brings me to the final story of the week.

We decided to take them to see the new Smurfs movie at the theater. Since we all wanted to watch the movie instead of chasing around a 20 month old, we got a babysitter for Nate. So we took the 4 oldest boys, Ben (9), Will (7), Zachary (6) and Drew (3). Rather than taking out a second mortgage on our house to pay for movie theater candy we decided to take them to Giant Eagle to pick up some store bought candy. But not just any store bought candy….bulk candy. We had passed the bulk candy aisle earlier in the week and you must have thought we walked past an aisle containing the Ten Commandments, the Holy Grail, and Jesus himself stocking the aisles, the way my nephews looked at the bulk candy. They asked “Is that all candy? Are you serious?” So on movie day, we take them to this bulk candy aisle from heaven, give them each a bag and tell them they have 5 minutes to fill it up and then we are leaving. It was like a scene from Supermarket Sweep. They were grabbing handfuls of this and handfuls of that. Whatever they could grab and move on to the next thing. Everyone was grabbing whatever they could except for Zachary who would take 2 pieces here and 2 pieces there, not wanting to overdo it. As a parent I want to take pride in his humbleness and restraint, but as an American I want to say “Are you crazy? Grab as much as you can. Overindulge. It’s our way. It’s the American way.” We eventually have to tell him to put a little more in his bag because he literally had 4 pieces of candy. Because once that was gone then I would be buying movie theater candy and the Senate would need to vote to raise my debt limit too. So at the end of the shopping spree, we had 6 bags of candy and funny thing was Drew the smallest of them all, had the biggest bag. So I take the candy to be weighed and check out and grand total was 6 pounds of candy for 6 people, 4 of them under 10 years old. What could go wrong?

We go to the theater and put all the candy in Lindsey’s purse, only realizing after the fact that we should have brought a small carry-on bag with roller wheels on it to hold all the candy. So with a strained back and a determined mind to save money, Lindsey hauls the duffel bag, I mean purse into the theater. We get our seats and begin watching the movie with no incident. Everyone has their bag and everyone is happy. Well Lindsey brought the sugary Kool Aid juice drinks to the theater for our drinks. Why not water? I was wondering the same thing too but what could go wrong with a little more sugar? You see where this is going? Yeah but which one? Well half way through the movie, Lindsey who is sitting by Drew cuts him off from his bag. He had been gorging himself on whatever he could find in his bag of treats. But this also made him thirsty. So I come to find out later that in the course of 1 hour she had given him 3 juice drinks, on top of the massive amounts of candy. Well he starts burping. And burping. So Lindsey tells him, “Stop burping or you are going to throw….” Splash!!! That’s all I hear at the other end of the row. I look down and she is doing what every great parent does in a crisis: send them to the other parent. So she is holding up his blanket to his mouth while he is continuing to throw up black, juicy chocolaty, gummy puke and Ben who was on the other side of him is high tailing it out of there toward me, looking back and saying “Drew, quit throwing up on me!” He gets to me crying and I grab the back of his shirt (the only part not covered in puke) and usher him out to the lobby. Now please note, this was during the climax of the movie, Gargamel was about to get his, and no one I repeat, NO ONE made a move when a 3 year old was puking his guts out behind and beside them. They all sat there and watched the movie! Even the family of three that Drew and I had to squeeze past at the end of our aisle even blinked an eye away from the screen to notice the boys with the projectile vomit! I am sorry, but I could be watching Harry battle Voldemort for the final time and I will flip backward over my seat if I see a puking child coming at me in real life. Anyway, I take Drew to the bathroom and clean him up. The shirt is a lost cause so I pitch it in the garbage and I second guess doing the same to the pants but like a good parent I don’t think I put him in underwear today so I can’t bring a naked child out of the bathroom to our car. But I can bring a shirtless one. While I am cleaning up, the other boys show up at the bathroom to shower off from the puke bath. Lindsey gets a large garbage bag from the manager and apologizes for our irresponsibility and puts his blanket in the bag. During this whole cleanup process, Will turns to Lindsey and asks, “So are we going back in the movie to watch the end?” To which she replies, “No buddy. I hope we never see those people in there again.” The humor was lost on him but the truth of it made me laugh. To which I replied, “That was Smurfin’ gross. So you’re telling me there is a downside to 6 pounds of candy.” And she says, “Fa la la la la la…blaaaaauuuuu (vomit noise).”
So it was too bad we missed the end of the movie but in retrospect, it was those around us that lost the most. The first half of the movie was spent having their chairs kicked by 4 super hyper sugar infused children and the second half smelling the stomach contents of a super hyper sugar infused child. So we all learned a valuable lesson. Lindsey learned the sugar limits of a 3 year old and that water is always better than juice. Drew learned that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Zachary and Will learned that picking your feet up avoids changing your shoes and socks later. Ben learned that he the best way to avoid projectile vomit is to not stand in front of it. And I learned the next time I want to save money; we will go to the dollar theater.

Hoping you know your limits because we now know Drew’s,
The Joyful and Tired Dad