May 20, 2013

Never again?

While we were away, I  exchanged text messages with the friends who were caring for my crew.  There was a photo sent to me of Tetonka and Curly riding bikes with their friends.  They were the only two who doubled up, although this friend 'Ms. M' originally expressed an interest in hosting the youngest four.  Her generous (albeit crazy) offer was made after I had already committed Mini and Reggie to their closest friend's houses respectively.  Ms. M was genuinely bummed not to be relishing time with the fab four, who she took in last year while I worked like a maniac at running a garage sale fundraiser for the kids' school.  Mini and Reggie had second thoughts about skipping an awesome time with Ms. M to hang out with his/her best friend, so Reggie ended up joining Ms. M while waiting for his friend's mom to get him after her work day.  He scored the best of both world's, although his weekend ended up turning a bit dismal.  I also got messages asking permission for Eddie to see a PG-13 movie, and telling me that Mini and friend were getting along great as usual.  Of course Laddie failed to return my text asking him how the day in the life of a caddy panned out.  I later learned from Nana that he didn't get out.  Coach and I will be interested to hear how this transpired, did he sleep late? 

I tried not to be alarmed when Reggie's host mom, Ms. B, asked me to call her on Sunday morning.  I assumed, knowing Reggie's rough and tough tendency, that he had a broken limb.  No broken bones, but he was up all night throwing up.  Ugghhh!  What could I do but apologize profusely?   She explained that at first when Reggie complained of a tummy ache she thought maybe he just missed us.  "Not Reggie," I assured her.  She chuckled realizing what a silly thought that was. She assured me it was no problem, but wondered if she should still give him back to my mom, Nana, at the designated time.  I was confident having not thrown up for hours, that he would be on the mend and Nana would be fine with him. 

Today we return to the little darlings, future plumbing problems, a microwave that works sporadically, and a rigorous after school activity schedule.  Reggie surprised us all by repeating his Saturday night performance and throwing up from 3:30 am until 7 am for my mom early this morning.  I thought I was so clever to have arranged for Curly to spend the day with cousins to give Nana a break while the older kids were at school.  Now Nana is stuck at my house with Reggie and Curly, who can't play with cousins for fear she will fall ill next.  Nana survived a spell of crippling frustration this morning when the TV and remote decided to rebel against her.  At long last PBS graced the screen, and happiness was restored. 

I'm glad we enjoyed ourselves this trip, because the chances of us getting away again before Curly departs for college, are slim to none.  Sometimes the best laid plans leave you feeling like you have a debt of gratitude that you are unable to repay.

Where there's a will, there's a way

We were able to escape to the airport for our first weekend away in years without too many other hiccups, unless you count the fact that the kitchen sink chose this morning to back up.  It was gross, and not clearing with Coach's usual adjustments.  He tried to share details with me about traps, and his handy man diagnosis.  My interest was limited as I tried to run through all of the last minute details on my list.  I managed to call my dad, who as an accountant is more organized than your average human being, and he provided me with the plumber's phone number.  I left a rambling message for the plumber, who was my parent's plumber first so I indicated my relation to them hoping to cash in on their valued customer status.  I revealed the code to get into the house, begging him to repair the sink before Sunday at 3:00 when my mom would be holding down the fort.  Then we were off.  I only had to call my mom twice to share a few more tidbits with her, one of which was please put the smelly towels that were used to clean up the kitchen mess in the dryer when the load is done.

I traveled to Denver with a right butt cheek sporting a deep tissue-gray-stained-turtle-shaped bruise about the size of my hand with all of my fingers fanned out.  (read 'Ode to . . . pain in the ass!' to learn more about my early morning mishap) I believe it was the batman toy that left the biggest mark.  I made the necessary adjustments as I strode through the airport, switching my carryon bag to my left shoulder so it wouldn't continuously thump on my sore rump.  It was an uncomfortable flight as I hunkered down on my damaged ass.  As the bruise transformed from a dull gray to a beautiful array of colors, I did have Coach take a photo with my phone, which I promptly sent to Fozzy.  Now that is the measure of a true friend . . . someone who can view your injured ass and not disown you.

I'm not sure why I envisioned a luxury hotel with an outdoor pool, attentive staff, and a short walk to  downtown.  Maybe Coach told me were staying in a Hyatt and not a Hyatt Place.  Denver was a good distance from us, which bothered me little, since I really didn't care about exploring this unfamiliar city.  While I was initially disappointed that the hotel was only furnished with an indoor pool, I made due on Friday and Saturday by dragging a pool chair out to a grassy section across the parking lot to sunbathe with my nose buried in my book.  Coach and I ventured to downtown Denver Friday night for dinner and people watching. 

Sunday morning, after I enjoyed the complimentary breakfast where I lingered as long as I would allow myself to read my interesting book ('Those Who Save Us' by Jenna Blum),  I enjoyed a long walk while admiring the beautiful backdrop of the Rockies in  the distance.  That is when I noticed the apartment complex about a block away from our hotel.  The temperature was only expected to reach the '60's, but there were people laying beside the pool, and the sun was shining.  The gate, which looked like it was typically locked was propped open with a rock perhaps out of convenience for the child's birthday party that was being celebrated at the pool.  I pondered it the remainder of my walk.  It was worth a try.

After my walk, I raced into our hotel room and loaded up my bag with my book, snacks, phone, water bottle, and towel.  I sauntered into the pool unnoticed.  I dove for the first available lounge chair, and planted myself face down with my book extended to the side of the chair so I could read, and partially cover my unfamiliar face.  The chair was lined up perfectly with the sun, so no adjusting was necessary.  It was a big complex, so I couldn't believe the staff would know everyone who lived there.  This was living, even if it was a bit of a sneaky way of living.  It sure beat sitting upright in the pool chair at the edge of the hotel parking lot.  A boy tapped me on my shoulder at one point to ask me to retrieve his ball from under my chair, not to ask me what apartment I lived in, thankfully.  An adult, who may have been hosting the birthday party, invited me over to enjoy cocktails.  So, this was the attentive staff I imagined?  I thanked him, but stuck to my chair deciding that no sudden movements was my best bet.  My only mistake was that I lay on my belly the entire two hours I was there.  Although the air was cool, the sun punished me with a decent lobster-like burn on the back of my legs and back.  My front had received enough attention from the sun the previous day while sitting upright in the hotel chair, so I didn't want to overdo it.  My refusal to move, my enthralling book, and my knowledge that no one needed me to be anywhere aided me in losing track of time.  The shocking red color at the edge of my suit contrasts nicely with the purplish decorated portion of my dairy air.  At least I wasn't wearing a thong suit, which would have displayed my treacherous-toy butt bruise. 

Pain in the Ass!!!

As Coach and I prepared to head out of town, I spent hours mapping out a plan so that each kid had rides to activities that were necessary.  I was exhausted trying to supply everyone who graciously involved themselves in our getaway with the correct phone numbers, addresses, and instructions necessary to make the weekend as smooth as possible.  The month of May is busy with year end school celebrations, family First Communion parties, and my need to wrap up all of my work responsibilities until I would return in late August.  Adding a long weekend away was another stress.

My mom would have the kids Friday afternoon until they were picked up by friends.  She was scheduled to be back at the house in time for them to be dropped off on Sunday at 3:00pm.  A neighbor would drive the kids to school on Monday, so my mom only had to deal with the morning routine without any guilt about a tardy attendance mark . . . honestly, what is one more tardy at this point in the school year?  The two gifts for the two different birthday parties that Tetonka and Mini would attend were purchased and wrapped in advance.  Baseball gear was packed in Reggie's bag for his Saturday game, and his coach was given a cell number to call in case the game finished early and his ride wasn't there yet.  Irish dancing snacks were tucked into Mini's bag for the long workshop she would attend.  Rides for Eddie's basketball tournaments on Saturday and Sunday were set up and directed to pick him up and drop him off at his best friend's house.  Laddie was instructed to pack his caddy clothes and to perform the impossible task of getting ready quietly at his buddy's house for his early morning caddy round.  Clothes appropriate for the weather were packed into four different bags.  Laddie and Eddie packed their own bags without too much input from me.   Curly's baby bear was added to her bag at the last minute, so she could sleep at night.  After all this, I felt like sleeping all day!

I stayed up packing my own bags, sending last minute reminder emails, and stacking chocolate chip cookies (previously baked and stored in the freezer) on paper plates with each family's name attached as gifts to their hosts.  I fell into bed after midnight and rose at 4:30 am.  I spent a few hours trying to quietly make the house look presentable, and searching for my bathing suit bottom that disappeared as soon as I was ready to pack it.  I was checking under the couch balancing on my knees and one elbow while reaching under the couch with my free hand.  I believe I was performing a yoga move, but I failed miserably.  I lost my balance as I tried to free a set of star wars light sabers that were lodged under the couch.  I toppled over onto a structure built to house batman, princesses, and star wars guys alike and perhaps the occasional Barbie - although her height deemed her a threat to the compound.  It had been rebuilt several times in the last few weeks, but was always comprised of the same components:  a hard plastic formed batman castle, magnet blocks, wooden blocks, and at times a castle or doll house.  The doll house had been added as an after thought by from the girls' room by determined little hands when they thought I wasn't looking.  The family has come to accept this eye soar's constant presence in the middle of the floor. 

Anyway, I flopped over, crushing it and more importantly damaging what used to be known as my right butt cheek.  Coach found me writhing in pain moments after my 'fall'.  It is admittedly hard to call it a fall, since I was kneeling on the floor to begin with.  Reggie, who was perched on the couch with a scrunched up morning face, witnessed the entire clumsy event.  I had a hard time catching my breath, but when I could speak Reggie jumped into action as soon as I croaked out the command, "Clean this up!"  Coach, forever the physical therapist, strapped a bag of frozen fruit to my ass, and informed me that in the morning light my suit bottom had surfaced on the top of our comforter.  Perfect, it was right where I had left it after all. 

You are familiar with the saying, "What a pain in the ass?"  Well, perhaps leaving town was just that - too much of a pain in the ass for me to manage.

May 18th, baby!

At dinner one night during a particularly mind numbing conversation between the kids, I glanced at Coach whose pupils were fixed and dilated.  He too longed to escape the talk which involved kids choosing sides and challenging the other side to prove that their opinion was correct.  I believe the dispute involved who knew more about what horse might perform better in a race of speed:  a plow horse, or a draft horse.  I whispered to Coach across the table, "May 18th baby, May 18th."  This was the date of our upcoming long weekend getaway without the kids.  One of the kids lost interest in this tantalizing horse talk, and asked what Daddy and I were laughing about.  Reggie was the first to repeat it.  "She said May Eighteenfff."  They puzzled for a minute until Reggie burst into a smile and began to lead the other rogues in a chant.  "Oh yeah, we can't wait for May Eighteeff eivver.  That is when we get to go to our friends' houses."  They pounded their fists on the table and chanted the date over and over, "May 18th, May 18th." 

It went on for weeks.  When they were upset, or debating our parental wisdom, they began the 'May 18th' chant.  I must admit, I envisioned waking up alone in a hotel room.  With Kevin on his way to class, and no kids to discipline, drive, or direct in any way, the entire day was mine to plan.  Sleeping late was top on my priority list.  Their chant caused me to smile as well.


Divide and conquer!

Coach and I  have been married for almost 17 years.  We have left the children for brief overnight stays when we headed to out of town weddings or to celebrate an anniversary.  Those occasions are few and far between.  Last year, my sister took them to sleep at her house so we could host a St. Patrick's Day party at our house.  I can't recall though when the last time was that we actually went out of town, since the wedding invites that once peppered our calendar have been inherited by some other younger couple in the wedding-celebrating-stage of life.

A few months ago, Coach mentioned that he wanted to attend a continuing education class in Denver.  He suggested that I accompany him on the trip, since the hotel room would be paid for anyway.  There is nothing I desire more than sitting in an empty hotel room or relaxing at the side of the pool.  The promise of boredom was too much.  I agreed to investigate what we would do with the kids.  The gang was in ear shot of our conversation of course, and they were instantly on board.  They envisioned sleepovers with friends, escaping the confines of the family, and experiencing a bit of freedom. 

I asked around.  I would never ask my mom to handle the entire load of a weekend with my Shenanigans, but she was on board for a partial assignment.  Next I asked my friends if they would each be willing to take a kid apiece.  I was going with the divide and conquer plan.  I figured spreading the love was the best chance I had at successfully heading out of town.  As I prepared for the trip, I joked that I hoped these women would still value my friendship enough to speak to me when I returned. 

For weeks we anticipated the trip.  I started a list of things that would need to be done in advance.  Everyone was excited.  There would be no tears shed or pleas from the kids not to leave them.  Absence would make the heart grow fonder, or in our case . . . absence might make the kids beg us to go away again soon.