Monday, August 25, 2014

A Crazy Drive, part 1


Some say I am crazy.  But I really didn't have a choice.  Eric was planning on flying to his 2nd cousin's wedding.  These are the California cousins, and while in general, one wouldn't be that close to cousins that live in California, we got closer to this branch of the his clan when we were stationed in LA for two years right after we got married.  I would have loved to go to the wedding too, but flying a family of 5 west is just plain crazy.  So we decided to send Eric on standby with his parents.  He flew out last Friday night.  When we found out about Suzy, we debated what to do.  I didn't want him to cancel.  I wanted him to Represent us.  Little did I know JUST how much we were going to need this Joyous Occasion.  While Eric was on the plane Friday night, his Grandfather Wilbur passed away.
We had already decided though, that we would change Eric's standby flight to go to Buffalo instead of returning to Indy.  And I would drive with the boys to Buffalo, while he was in California.

Yes, you read that right, I drove to Buffalo, ALONE with the three boys.

My family and friends thought we were crazy.  I can't handle being alone with them for 2 days at home, let alone on the road, right?!  But I needed to go to the Service for Suzy.  Eric debated not going, but the $ had been spent, the plans set, and frankly, since we'd be going to a funeral, he needed some joyous time with his family.   I wanted him to go.  Eric made the offer to return Sunday morning, and I could drive immediately to Buffalo alone, then I wouldn't have to make it a 2 day drive.  But when Chris overheard that, he told us he wanted to go to NY.  Oh yeah, I thought, he just wants to miss school, and play with the DVD player and Ipad while I drive.  But No, that wasn't it.  I asked him why he wanted to go?  He told us, "Because I loved Suzy."

Well, that did it.  OK.  I can't argue with that.  Heck, that's pretty much the same reason I was willing to cross the country to go to her funeral, in theory spending more time on the road than at our destination, but I also Loved Suzy.  And that was good enough reason for me.

So that was the Plan.  I would leave Indy Saturday morning, arrive in Buffalo sometime Sunday, the funeral was to be Monday, we'd leave Tuesday, and get back Wednesday.  Oy.  You know, writing it out, after the fact, does kind of make it sound crazy.  But it wasn't just crazy.  It was Necessary.

The boys promised me they would be good on the road with me.  I told them, they'd have to look out for each other, because if I was driving, I wouldn't be able to do everything for them.  I'd need special help from them with the jobs Daddy normally does, like navigating and food distribution, and taking care of Jacob.  So Sam's job became taking care of Jacob.  He's very good at it naturally, and Christopher was going to be my Navigator.

Well, then Christopher, even with his broken hand made the promotion for Karate class, from Blue Belt to Purple.  And the promotion ceremony was to be Saturday morning.  OK, so we attend that first, then we'll hit the road.  So we did.  I wanted to load up the car and get all packed up before we went to Karate.  They said they'd help.  They said they'd be good.  They didn't.  I had a monster bitchin' headache by 8 am from all my screaming.  They'd woken up at 6:15, and woke Jacob.  We hadn't even left town, and I was rethinking all of it.  But then they were Good at Karate.

Now, because I was bringing the Crazy (much like the Bringing da Noise and da Funk) by bringing both little brothers, we stayed outside the dojo for the promotion ceremony.   Here was my Blue Belt, newly promoted level 3 on his kata Pinan Nidan as he was getting ready.  

And when it was time to receive his purple belt, I was outside of the room, juggling Jacob with a Silly Sams.

But this time, they let the parents come in and tie the new belt on to each kid.  
I was honored. 
So I left Jacob SCREAMING his head off so I could go tie Chris's belt. 
I snapped a picture of my Proud Purple Belt, and ran in and grabbed the littlest fusspot. 

After the belt ceremony, we stopped off at the house for food, water, let Chris change, go for pee stops and hit the road.  

I was happily surprised, how well they did.  Each boy had a screen, they swapped between the ipad and the dvd player.   And Jacob crashed after we were on the phone for about an hour.  We'd had some snacks as soon as we hit the highway, so I hoped we could hold off for lunch until we hit Greenfield, after being on the road an hour.  Well, we did great . And the kids were perfectly content when we hit Greenfield, so I blew right on by.  And then we stopped.   

We stopped after an hour.  We'd barely crossed town, and we get stopped.  Suddenly I was stuck behind a semi going 4 miles an hour.  For an hour and a half.    For a construction zone.  

And I learned something about myself.  

I no longer feel comfortable driving behind a semi in a construction zone.  
That's where Suzy died.   We think she fell asleep at the wheel as she approached the semi.  And the semi didn't have some kind of guard rail that it should have.  Now I find myself looking at the lower rear guardrails on all semis everywhere I drive.  And being stuck behind a semi, staring at that guard rail for the better part of an hour...well, let's just say Thank God I had my oils!

I just happened to have packed my Everyday oils, my little 10 pack starter kit.   And when I got stressed, I put Stress Away on a tissue and stuffed it into my air vent.  I put Joy on myself and smelled it when I thought too much about Suz.   It's supposed to be good for Grief/Loss, and Anxiety and Depression.  I can honestly say it Works.   And when the pain of travel was getting to me, and I could feel a tension headache starting in my neck, I reached in my purse and pulled out my peppermint roll on.   I felt better.  I kid you not.   These oils helped me! 

We made it into Ohio!  It was 2:30 when we stopped in Connorsville for our late lunch.  I'd promised the boys some McDonald's for lunch....luckily, they were so engrossed in their screens, they didn't notice until after the traffic jam that they were hungry.  I packed plenty of snacks, and listened to a lot of Octonauts and Batman: Brave and Bold music.  Luckily, it didn't take us too much longer after lunch to do that.  We then implemented something new - the Pee Cup.   I put an empty restaurant cup in the backseat, and when Chris told me he had to pee, just like in Chicago, at a time when there was Nothing Else around.  I told him to use the Pee Cup.  He unbuckled, schooched to the end of his chair and made his deposit.  I tossed him the germy squirts, he put on the lid, and we pitched the cup at the next rest stop.  Of course with every restaurant stop, we set aside an empty cup, removing the straw for use as the pee cup.  They loved being able to use this, and it saved me from having 1/2 hour stops every hour or two.  All I wanted was to get past Columbus, maybe half way there, I would have felt good if we'd have made it more than halfway, which the halfway point is between Columbus and Cleveland.  

The weather was kind of crummy our entire drive.  It was misty and rainy in Indiana.  Didn't help my stress there.  In Ohio, we continued to alternate between cloudy and rainy.  And just as we alternated with the weather, we alternated between happy boys and argumentative boys.   

Jacob was happy - when he was being entertained by his brothers.  
Christopher was less than enthusiastic when I would make him do one worksheet of homework for every show he wanted to watch  on the dvd.  However, just on our first day, I was rather proud of myself that he got half his math done for the half week that we'd be missing.   His teacher had sent home work for him.  Chris was good at distributing, when it was convenient.  About 5, they started to get tired of driving, I could tell.  They started arguing with each other, not sharing things.   I had to yell a bit.   I won't say the trip was without yelling.  It wasn't.   But I didn't have to pull over.  I didn't have to beat anyone.  I do recall yelling at Chris, "You promised me you'd be good!"  And he replied, "I told you I would TRY!"  Oh that made me mad.  Because if he'd said Try, I would have told him Do or Do Not, there is no Try.  I know he didn't say that.  But you know 3 days had passed, I couldn't convince him or change anything.  I felt like he'd gone back on a promise to me.   But that hurt my feelings.  I really needed him to be on super best behavior.  And he wasn't.  

It was about that time, I decided we wouldn't be stopping to eat dinner in public.  We had plenty of snack food in the car.  And we'd had a late big lunch, I didn't need a full dinner.  Neither did they, so they said.  But by Cleveland, they were changing their minds.  

We hit Cleveland, and finally saw the sun shine.   

But it didn't last.  It started raining again just as we hit the north side of Cleveland.  I had hoped to get to Erie, or anywhere in Pennsylvania.  But it turns out, once you pass Cleveland, which we did a bit after 6, there is still like another hour to the Ohio border.  The kids started to lose it.  

So I hammed up the next town, Ashtabula, because it was fun to say, and there were some hotels, I said we'd stop there.   We did.  But the first hotel wanted to charge us 200$ for the night!  No Way!  And then the next one was full.  And the one after that was full too.  Uh Oh.  What is there some kind of game or something in Ashtabula?  We got back on the highway, and kept going.  The boys were starting to cry.  Chris said he felt like Jesus, and I was like, What?!  He said, there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the Inn either.  No hotels for them to stay.  I laughed, and told him, yes, they had to sleep in the barn, but even if we have to keep driving late into the night, our minivan is still a lot nicer than a barn. 

I stopped at the next hotel I could find, a Days Inn in Conneaut, (pronounced Connie - ought) OH.  And they wanted to charge me 169, with fees it was practically 200$ anyway.  I should have stayed in Ashtabula.  But we were all Done.  We needed to stop for the night.  I slapped down my card.  I was exhausted.  The boys were thrilled, blithering, but thrilled.  Then I had to remind them, there was not going to be any swimming.  Once we got in our room, I was grossed out, the whole hall reeked like smoke.  Like 30 years worth of smoke had permeated the walls and the carpets.  The bedding wasn't stinky, but it was overwhelmed by that musty old cigarette smoke smell.  So I broke out my oils again, and put some Purification on a tissue in the air conditioner vent.  I'm telling you, I read these tricks online, and laughed, thinking how crazy and desperate someone must be to put Essential Oils on a tissue to get rid of a smell, that was probably only mildly offensive.  Well, this was gross.  And the oils Worked.  I was unloading all our screens and things that needed charging, so I had to step back out without the boys, and by the time I got back, the room smelled better than the hall.  In just moments it smelled better. I was amazed.  And I didn't get sick or anything, or have some kind of reaction, like I do normally when I'm around smoke or smokey stuff.   I know, it sounds like I'm making it up, or trying to sell something.  But seriously, these things Work.  I put the big boys on one full bed, and Jake and I in another, and within 15 minutes of laying down, they were all three out cold.  It was sweet to see them sleep.  And Eric told me he was on his way to the wedding.  I couldn't believe I made it.  Stayed in a hotel with just the kids and I.  We did it.  Day 1 Done. And we made it over halfway there.  I was exhausted, and yes, maybe they thought I was a little crazy.  But I was proud of myself.  And proud of my boys! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 and older


When we moved to this house, my girlfriend gave me a bunkbed to use, well, so Chris could.  When we moved in, Sam kept trying to climb up there.  He was only 2 and not nearly steady enough for me to feel comfortable with him going up and down a metal ladder.  So we instituted a rule, you Have to be 5 to get up on the bunkbed.  It's funny how many people remember that is the Rule.  I have one friend whose daughter told her the day after she turned 5 that she needed to come to our house so she could go up the bunkbed, they'd only ever been here once.

Before we were going to leave on our trip to NY for Suzy's funeral, we had to find a dogsitter.  Suzy was our go-to dogsitter.  She loved watching Princess, and would spoil her rotten.  So this was an extra bittersweet task.  My friend Amy volunteered for the job.  She misses having a dog.  She offered to come out and have a playdate and then take a dog to go.    I said Sure, how about coming over for dinner, after I took Eric to the airport.  Our friend Kathleen turned out to have a girl scout thing in the area that she was going to drop Em off at and wondered if she could come by and say hi, so the next thing I know, I'm hosting a mad playdate with 3 adults and 9 kids.  Even though I thought I was not in the mood to be around people that didn't know Suzy, it was good to be with friends.  Ironically, Kathleen had just met Suz at Annie's birthday party a couple weeks ago.   A little crazy to do a big playdate while also trying to prepare for a road trip, but once again God knew best.

Because it was hysterical.  Apparently, this was the first time the twins had been over since they turned 5. They Remembered that they were finally allowed to go up on the bunkbed.  So we put all the kids that were 5 and older up on top and I took their picture.  Hard to believe we have that many kids 5 and older.  Well, minus our little girl scout Emily.  Still, that's a lot of cuteness on one bed. 

As you can imagine, I was not up for cooking.  
So I simply ordered pizza for all our crazy.  
Turns out Rock Star makes a Rockin' Awesome gluten free crust, which has a slightly ricey flavor, but a wonderful crunch.  We got it with sausage, since Amy can no longer eat much that is fun, and turns that gluten-free sausage pizza was better than regular.  Now I don't know if it's as good as their Caribbean, but that may be an experiment for later.  

And meanwhile the kids played and grownups chatted.  
And life continues.  
And life is good.  And being with friends is good.
And playing Superheroes with baby brothers is Very Good. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A date, in the middle of the day


The hubs and I had a lunch date today.  At the State Fair.  Just he and I...and Jake.  But Jake is easy, he is like a portable loaf of bread that occasionally makes noise.   So it was mostly a date.  In the middle of the day.  With deep fried foods.  And foods on sticks.  I love fair food.

I feel crappy, the world continues to spin, even though my cousin is gone.  I've gone from Disbelief, to profound Sadness.  Honestly, I don't feel like spending time with anyone that didn't know Suzy.  I don't want to talk to anyone that didn't know her, or care about her.  And it looks like there is going to be a Road Trip to NY in our near future and we needed to discuss some things without the yahoos around.  I was hoping to take the boys to the State Fair while Eric was gone to California for his cousin's wedding this coming weekend, but with an impending trip, we won't be using the tickets.  Eric's company gave us 4 tickets for our family to get into the fair, and the first time we went, 5 and under were free, that's Sam and Jake, and then Chris got a free ticket for singing with ICC, so we only used two of them.  We had 2 left.  That could have gotten Chris and I in, with Sam and Jake being free on the weekend, BUT instead Eric and I decided to use them up and go to lunch at the fair.

Honestly, we ate lunch at the State Fair.  And it was So Yummy.  Yes, Good Food is therapeutic to me, and frankly, I don't care whether or not that is 'healthy'. Everyone deals with stress differently, I eat.  It was good for Eric and I to have a small date in the middle of the day, to eat and talk, and eat good food.  And at the Indiana State Fair, that's easy to do.

I had some Pork BBQ and fries with beer cheese.  And Jacob wanted to help me.  
And somehow we'd managed to not get a lemon shakeup our first time to the Fair, so we took care of that problem.  

Eric tried these "Cheeseburger basket on a stick"  They were ground beef, cheese, potatoes with some flava, all rolled into a nifty little ball of goodness. Another big hit of the year, and we could see why.   

My friend Nicki called me to sing the chorus to me of  'You Make Beautiful Things' and cheer me up on my way to pick up Eric.  It worked. 

Well, it made me cry, then I had to smile.  She gave me no choice.  I had to let her go, but she told me to go have a deep fried peanut butter cup for her.  So I did.  It was therapeutic.  They were so hot though, I took them for the road.  But they didn't survive the trip home. ;)

The day surprisingly was full of Beautiful Things.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why is the sky is still blue?

My friend Robb quotes Shakespeare, he sometimes says he needs to, "unpack my heart with words" from Hamlet.  Well, it's a little harder for me to unpack with words and pictures as I tend to do here on my blog.  But I still feel the need to try.

My cousin Suzy passed away today.  She was in a car accident last night.  And my heart is breaking.
Somehow the world continues to spin.  The sky is bright and blue.  Yet I don't even want to go out and take pictures of flowers.  It's surreal.  She was younger than me.  She had a kinder, gentler heart than anyone I knew.  She'd been through a lot of crud, yet still had the strength and love to power through, and go forth to help others.  She'd just gotten a great job at Coburn place, as a social worker helping victims of domestic violence.  And she was So good at it.  She managed to love the hard to love...not just in her work, but in my own family.  And she really was a Gift to all that she knew.

I didn't feel like going around and taking pictures today.  But Sam wanted to play outside after school.  And it was a beautiful day.  And it's a good thing I have these beautiful boys to love and distract me from my sadness.  And Sam seems to have inherited his brother's gift of magical hugs.  So here's the one picture I took today.  My Sams.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To the Airport


I sent my sister and nieces back to Texas.  On one hand, I'm really happy for them.  No really!  But on the other, I'm very sad.  I'm gonna miss those little twinkies.

Jacob helped me take the girls to the airport.  
We had to drop off their rental car, and I picked them up there, and threw them in the car while Li moved her stuff over from Car A to Car B. And then we had to circle the parking lot, so we could go upstairs and actually park the car, and unload everything we'd just loaded.  Oy. Well, at least the kids are cute. 

Then we went to Qdoba for lunch.  
Gotta get some sustinence!

Lisa had to drop the car off 3 hours before her flight left, so we had some time to kill.  
The girls and i took a little walk to check out the planes.  They had a lot of energy, I wanted to spend some of it, so it wasn't all pent up on a plane with my seestor.   I don't know if it worked, they definitely have more energy than I do! 

My girls.  
They escorted Jake and I back to our car, and we said our goodbyes again.  
Dang, I'm gonna miss them.  

Tower without the babble

Mondays are quiet days around here, for now, this week Jacob is working on some skills.  
He likes to throw anything I give him, be it a toy or food, and yell, "Oyo!" which I'm pretty sure is Jacobian for Oh No!

But one of his favorite toys is a fire truck with blocks in the back, or at least, it kind of looks like a fire truck.  Sorry about the blurriness, but he was so proud of himself, and was waving it around.  
But Jacob built a tower! 

It counts as a tower, right?  A tower can be 3 bricks tall.  He's a genius. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Snoochy face


Poor Jacob has a snoochy face.  He doesn't want to sleep.  As my Dad would say, "he doesn't peel dood".  No, he doesn't.  

But he did learn how to use a tissue.  Sort of.  
He picks it up and wipes his lip with it.  Of course, when I'm breaking out the netbook to record him, he moves too fast for me, but let's just say he's got more manners with a runny nose than any of his brothers did at the same age.  He's pretty adorable about it.  Poor snoochy face.  I keep singing "You're My Little Snoochy Face, my ootsy wootsy oochy coochy smoochy face."  Those are the words from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song, right?!  Well, close enough.  

Peel bedder baby!