Sunday, August 6, 2017

¿Cómo se dice "loud"?

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TRAVEL TIP FOR AUGUST - AVOID THE EAST COAST OF SPAIN
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The kids used to wake me up at 5:30 in the morning all the time, but I certainly never fell asleep at an airport café while waiting for a flight.


Luckily for David and Tom, Peter stayed vigilant. He also devoured David's chocolate croissant as he drooled on the wall, but the important thing is that he woke up both of the sleeping beauties before boarding. Okay, it took some parental convincing to get him to do that, but the important thing is - he did.

Directly after taking off, a kid sitting next to us (not one of ours) got up to use the bathroom. While climbing over us, he stomped all over Angie's purse that was laying on the floor and broke off the strap. I laughed. Angie almost cried. Destructo Dave said nothing, but cast an admiring eye towards the boy with the weak bladder and heavy feet.

In case the travel tip didn't give it away, let me narrow down our whereabouts for the next ten days.


After landing, we moved on to our next adventure, which was picking up our rental car. As we approached the counter, Angie was dragging her broken purse by one strap and looking absolutely thrilled at the sound this was making. Or maybe that was me. Not sure - it was a long flight. Doesn't matter. To me.

We dumped our baggage in front of the counter and Angie told Peter to watch the bags and disappeared with David and Tom to get drinks. She ignored my request for a cerveza, but I'm sure that is because she studied nine years of Latin instead of Spanish. What a waste.

As I was finishing up, I turned around to find a uniformed man sporting a machine gun trying to hit on my wife, who had just returned with nothing closely resembling a beer.

'Señora, you need to watch your bags. ¡Siempre!'

'It's okay, my son was watching the bags.'

As it often happens with men dealing with my wife, the policeman shook his head and laughed.

'¡No, no, Señora! ¡YOU need to watch your bags!'

With that, our Spanish friend and helper pointed to his female partner in crime, who was standing at the opposite end of the airport. In her hands, dangling by one strap, was Angie's purse.

The Hollywood side of my brain immediately raced to the logical conclusion that this was a shakedown and that we were going to need to blow our already low pool of funds on getting Angie's broken purse back.

Luckily, Sergeant Jefe just shook his head and laughed for the second time. Then he whistled at his partner, who came over and gave Angie her purse back. My mind immediately transmitted two thoughts:
  1. Pull the guy aside and tell him politely that whistling at women stopped being cool in the eighties.
  2. Check for missing money.
I cannot control my mind when it comes to transmitting thoughts. Angie can testify to this fact, even if no one has asked her for her opinion. Unlike the love of my life, though, I can control how my mouth responds to such thoughts.

'¡Muchas gracias!'

After picking up the rental car, we did the same thing that I'm sure all families do shortly after landing in Spain and drove directly to Taco Bell.


In our defense, they don't have a Taco Bell anywhere close to where we live, so, unlike their regular customers, we were genuinely excited to be there.

Our final destination was actually about an hour from Valencia in a beautiful city called Jávea. Leif's mom has an amazing place at the foot of the mountain bearing the name that sounded a lot like an imperative to our family - Montgó. The view is breathtaking in any direction, it's about ten minutes to the beach, it has enough rooms to house a zoo and she made the nonretractable offer once for us to stay there. Oh, yeah, it also has a pool.


By dinner time, the Zoo Crew was collectively losing energy. That's when Patricia woke up the boys by unveiling the "Beefer".


If you have never tasted food cooked in a "Beefer", my recommendation is not to. No other steak or burger in your life will ever taste like you know how it should taste and they can be a bit pricey.

Basically, you raise the tray with meat until it is less than an inch from the flames, which keep the entire hot box at a whopping 800 degrees Celcius (1,472 F). The result is an incredibly crispy outside and the searing completely seals all of the juices inside. You can only do one large steak or two burgers at a time, but it only takes a minute per side so my belly accepted the tradeoff.

After dinner, we got the kids to sleep and Patricia woke Angie and me up by unveiling the "Gin Tonic".


If you have never tasted Patricia's "Gin Tonic", my recommendation is not to, for reasons that will become blatantly obvious in the morning.
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Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we came to Spain and the flight was good.
David: That we landed and could play in the pool.
Tom: That we came here to Spain, that Patricia is SO nice and that the house is so nice with the pool.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That David was kinda grumpy at the end of the day.
David: That I accidentally did a belly flop and that hurts.
Tom: That Peter and David were the whole time dunking my head under the water.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Play in the pool and maybe go to the city or the beach.
David: Play in the pool and maybe go somewhere and have fun.
Tom: I want to go in the pool and eat burger meat with the Beefer.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Wheels on the Bus


In case it's not obvious, the kid screaming frantically at the back of the bus is Tommy, but more on that fun later.

For the last two weeks, we have been experimenting with letting Tommy use public transportation to get to his gymnastics training. This has worked fine so far. He meets a friend of his at the main square and they know which bus to get on and where they should get off. Should.

Today, Angie walked with Tommy to get the bus. While waiting, she got a frantic call from the other kid's mom that he was late. My quick-thinking wife then shoved Tommy on the bus and waited for the other kid.

The other kid showed up, but because he had missed the bus, Angie raced home with him and drove him to practice. I know, I know, this kind of defeats the purpose of having Tommy ride the bus to practice, but I'd really prefer if the witty comments calling logic into question come from you and not me. Anyway, Angie showed up to practice with late boy and ran up to the coach, who can bit, mmhh... let's just call it direct. 

'Where's Tommy?'

'That's your job to know.'

Angie searched for Tommy inside, then raced outside and tried calling the public transportation office. 

'If you would like to access bus schedules, press 1...'

'If you would like to organize a private event, press 2...'

At this point, Angie was hyperventilating, and not in the funny way. 

'If you have lost a child on one of our buses, please press 3...'

BINGO!

Angie was pacing the sidewalk outside the gym and trying her damnedest not to scream at the first human that talked to her. Halfway though what I can only imagine was a mix between a death threat and a plea, Angie saw a tiny dot on the horizon. The dot grew bigger and bigger and as it came closer, Angie noticed that it was moving incredibly fast. When it came even closer, she saw that it was Tommy and hung up the phone.

See, up until now, Tommy has ridden the bus with his friend and everything worked out fine. The bus stopped in front of the gym and they got out. Easy, peasy. The problem, as it tends to be, is that we are in Germany. Buses only stop at a station if someone on the bus pushes a button that tells the driver that someone would like to exit the bus. Up until today, there has always been someone who needed to get off, so everything worked fine. Today, nobody apparently needed to get on or off at that bus station, so the driver simply drove on. Tommy, being the smart kid that he knows he is, picked up on this shortly after the bus flew past his gym. 

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round,
round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all through the town.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Madness

Mondays suck. Period. The fact that today was a holiday just means that Tuesday will suck. It also means that a simple plan to go to an art exhibition was a lot like allowing Angie into the kitchen - sounds innocent, but inevitably ends in disaster.

Our fun started at 11:30 when we were supposed to pick up Angie's aunt. I pointed out to my lovely wife when she got out of the shower at 11:15 that Heidi lives about an hour away and we still had to pick up her mom along the way. Angie has a real knack for ignoring problems that involve math, logic, or admitting guilt, so my subtle attempt at getting the show on the road was a problem that she ignored.

We eventually rounded up everyone and arrived in Frankfurt. Gramms has a thing for Mexican food, so she suggested going to Chipotle's for lunch. Chipotle's might be a dime a dozen in States, but in Germany, it's almost as rare a finding an honest politician. 

We parked at the Skyline Plaza and admired the skyline view as we took the emergency exit down to the street level.


If you're like me, you might question why we had to take the emergency exit down. You might also question why the parking garage was so empty on a holiday. The only question that David and Tom had was how could they possibly slow down our exit. It was at that point that we passed a massive ball made of steel wires that screamed 'climb me'. From experience, I know that David and Tom do not respond well to anyone screaming anything at them, so I was a bit surprised when they caved in.


We finally made it down to the street level and waited for our navigator to take over.

'Right. We need to go right.'

We followed Gramms' appetite around the corner. The good news was - we found Chipotle's. The bad news was - it was closed. The funny news was, depending on your point of view - the entire Skyline Plaza was closed because of the holiday. This explained the empty parking lot and the need to exit the garage via an emergency exit, but did little to fill our bellies. For that, we decided to try the restaurant at the top of the Skyline Plaza, which was open. 

The good news was - they had a table for seven people. The bad news was - it took another fifteen minutes to flag down a waiter. The funny news was delivered by the impatient waiter. 

'We only have the breakfast buffet. If you want lunch, you'll have to wait another hour.'

With that, we moved on to the museum. Before leaving the empty parking lot, I asked my lovely wife if she was SURE that the museum was open on a holiday. Blank look. Crickets.

The good news was - we all had Google on our phones. The bad news was - most of the sites stated that the museum was closed. The funny news was - Angie found one that said it was open.

At that point, I simply drove downtown with the sole mission of finding somewhere to eat. If we happened to also visit a museum that might or might not be open, then great. Gravy on top.

After parking for the second time, Peter started to get very agitated with David, who was pushing his button. This button was apparently on Peter's left shoulder as is evident here.  


We finally found the exhibition and I was relieved to find that other humans were walking in and out of the building.


Everyone took this to be a sign that the museum was open, but I was understandably reluctant. The coin dropped for me when I finally saw the front doors. Open.


I would most likely have paid closer attention to the long line inside if it wasn't for the restaurant across the hall, which is where we went first to have lunch. They had breakfast tacos on the menu, so Gramms was all set. We recently found out that David has a wheat allergy, so we ordered the corn tacos. When David's order came, though, it was clearly flour tortillas and not corn. The waitress looked confused and exasperated when we sent the order back, but we eventually got something that he could eat without turning his stomach into knots.

So, there we were. Three hours behind schedule, but ready to check out René Magritte's surreal exhibit. The good news was - the museum was open for another four hours. The bad news was - the museum was so insanely packed that they had a 'safety stop' for two hours, which meant that they were not letting anyone in for two hours and after that, they would only allow in some people and those people were already forming the long line that I had hinted at above. The funny news was - Angie tried to lift up everyone's spirits.

'Doesn't matter - they have an awesome gift shop here. Let's just go there! That's always the best part!'


For those non-Germans, the sign in front of the gift shop reads 'Closed due to sickness!'.

In her defense, Positive Angie did not let the clouds ruin her day in the sun. She spotted a small counter that sold postcards that impressed her and disgusting rubber replicas of a human thumb that impressed - surprise, surprise - David and Tom.


After buying enough postcards to choke a curator, we walked back to the car. Along the way, I asked David and Tom what they thought of our Monday Madness.


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Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we had a wonderful lunch in Frankfurt with Gramms and Heidi.
David: That it was so much fun in the museum.
Tom: That we saw Gramms and Heidi.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That my head started hurting and I was tired all day.
David: That the museum was closed.
Tom: That we couldn't go to the museum and that my belly hurts.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Play outside and hope for good weather. 
David: I want to meet and have fun with Luca.
Tom: I want to eat something yummy at gymnastics.