Monday, August 10, 2009

Would you like catch-up with your blog?

[Author warning: this is the longest blog ever written]
So, yeah. The road trip is finally over. We got back home and somehow Angie completely forgot that Jen had volunteered our free home and board to these two homeless weirdos from New York the next day. At least Lisa and Susan talked funny; I'm a sucker for funny accents and I love weirdos. I even marry them, sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, the road trip was nice, in a 'I hated every waking moment of it' kind of way. Susan and Lisa's three day home crashing was, um... also nice. At least the animals were entertained.

After winding the Zoo Crew up beyond any reasonable hope of sleepiness, the New York city girls went out for an intellectual night in the city. The problem was, they forgot to bring any intellectuals with them.

Instead, they brought Sarah, Danie, and some other chick with pouty lips. Yes, Angie dragged our newfound strangers out for Quiz Night at our pub around the corner. No, they did not win, as is evident by Angie's long face. Her lip quivering might have more to do with the empty beer than losing BIG TIME at quiz, but we'll never know, since the Brainiac and the Big Apple gang came home missing too many brain cells to really tell. Uh, when is it my turn?

After two nights and three days of serving New York's finest, we kicked Lisa and Susan to the airport and got on with our camping trip. Our what??

Silly me had somehow sillily thought that after eleven days in the car with three screaming brats and a silly backseat driver who sat in the front to be even more annoying, followed by three days entertaining silly New Yorkers who suck at quiz, I would somehow be entitled to a little break. Silly me.

Camping was awesome, if 'awe' is synonymous with 'really' and 'some' somehow equates to 'loud'. After such a comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable test of my hearing, I had a brilliant and somewhat quieter idea. It involved ice, popcorn and me screaming at Peter to stop screaming during the 'scary dinosaur' bits.

Yes, the shirt says it all. Peter was so more than happy, though. His shirt really should've read 'MAN! Is Papa cool or what?'

Speaking of cool-ass manly Papa-types with chest-fulls of hair and biceps that you could crack coconuts with, Tom was busy learning how to push chairs around the room.

Actually, there's not a whole lot to say about that one. He pushed a chair. I mean, come on. I'm his father and I was still saying 'whoopty-doo' to over-astounded Mama. If she starts bragging about this amazing new trick that Tommy can do with a chair, just humor her and say 'wow'.

Opa is another one of those amazing types that can do amazing things with chairs, like sit in them. Angie, come quick! You gotta see this!

He can also make monkey faces and actually get David to look you in the eyes. As easy as this sounds, it's not. My camera has been trying in vain to make eye contact with him for over three years now. Tom, on the other hand, had no problem establishing eye contact with Brian.

Direct contact with Brian can be damaging to the eyes, but David and his Ray Charles spectacles managed to survive the encounter. All this close encounter made the third kind want to gnaw on some meat sticks. Don't ask me why.

After chowing down, the kids went completely theatrical on us. It was all fine and weird until Peter decided to bust out his dramatic solo.

Uh, what in sweet hell is THAT? In Peter's defense, it was theater, so I guess I should have expected some bizarre dance moves, but holy crap! Even bizarre has its limits.

To make up for being so weird, Peter thought it would be totally normal to strangle Dalia with his patented Heimlich hug that is normally only appreciated by people choking on chicken bones.

Luckily, Dalia has a high tolerance for weirdos. This probably stems from parental influence, but according to Angie, I've been known to be wrong. Yeah, sweetie - I can think of one time, for sure.

Dalia has been wanting a dog for more than half of her life. She ended up with Cash instead, which is something I've been wanting for more than half of my life.

After letting Cash walk Brian around for a while, we went to check on Tom.

If this does not scream 'Hey, look at me - look at what I'm doing - LOOK AT ME!!!' I don't know what does. Okay, I admit - between the chair trick and the one-baby band, I would have to pick Mr. Bojangles.

At some point in the past several weeks that I'm trying to catch up on, Peter and David had Artin over and taught him how to lock out the women and children first.

This was funny for the first hour or two, but then Angie started holding up hand-written notes like 'I'm hungry' and 'open up now, damn it!' For a teacher, she's not really that bright; she knows the boys can't read. Anyway, it started getting dark and it was totally impossible to watch TV with Angie screaming her head off on the balcony, so we let her back in. The screaming continued anyway, though, so I think I know how I'll handle that one next time.

After instigating everything, Peter left with Artin to spend the night at his house, leaving a rather sad David. Mama came to the rescue by calling in Sarah's snuggle crew.

Chiara and Alessio went to sleep like professionals. David is more of a blue-collar kinda guy, so he kept the party going even after they zonked out. It was cool, except I had to go in two times because David was poking Chiara in the face and shouting 'are you still awake?'

Before the adult types zonked out, Barb showed up and we also had a cool 'poke her' party of sorts.

Barbara won and was just a tad bit too happy about it. It's okay, though. After each round, I kept poking her in the eye, asking 'are you still winning?' After a few rounds, her chip pile began to mysteriously disappear.

David must have feared retaliation for his long night of eye-poking and wisely chose the appropriate safety gear to defend himself.

This picture is great because it is documented proof on what a climbing-freak Tom is becoming. He is an absolute pro at climbing anything and everything. This would probably not be a problem if it weren't for his descent techniques, also known as falling.

So far, Tom has had a bloody nose, a bloody lip and a sore throat from screaming after those fun events. No band-aids, yet, but they will come in good time, I'm sure. David did have a band-aid on his arm, which was from a vaccination shot against ticks. This is probably good, seeing as how he loves to roll around in mother nature's mud, dirt, grass and Sami's weeds.

We went to Kika and Sami's for a nice BBQ. David forgot his wallet and couldn't pay, so Sami put him to work in the garden as compensation. During one of his thirty-four breaks, David decided to make Lauri cry.

Angie thought it might be the tattoo on David's arm, but as always, her thoughts are useless. Doesn't matter; we now realize that we will have to slowly and delicately acclimate Lauri to the Zoo Crew. Very slowly.

I think Artin and Peter probably played their 'lock a parent out' trick on their over-nighter, since Shayeste and Sharpur offered the next day for Artin to crash at our pad. It was Artin's first overnight adventure and he loved it. I'm pretty sure that his parents one-upped us by injecting sugar and chocolate into the kids before dropping them off; they were still buzzing three hours after 'lights out'.

It still amazes and disappoints me that kids who go to bed later than usual do not, actually, wake up later. They still get up at dawn's first light, but then they are cranky and tired and don't understand why but somehow blame you. Luckily, I am used to this after almost a decade with Angie, so I did what I tend to do with her and just ignored them. By the sixth cup of coffee, they were sociable again. And wired.

Their poses in this picture remind me of the video for 'Sabotage'; they're only missing the fake moustaches and rubber pistols. After getting our beastie boys down from the roof, we took Artin back home. I kept feeding him chocolate and sugar and giggled my ass of in the car until we had a flat tire right in front of their house. Damn Kharma and her sick sense of humor.

You would probably be super proud of me that I was actually able to change a car tire without calling roadside assistance. I would probably let you believe this if it wasn't for the fact that Angie has recently figured out how to write comments on the blog. Damn.

To avoid Angie ratting me out, I can simply come clean. Sharpur came to the rescue.

'So, you have a flat tire'

'Not well endowed is actually the PC thing to say, but yes. Do you have the number for roadside assistance?'

'Why? We're men. Let's just change it.'

'Of course, that's what I said. I am man. Let's do it!'

'Where's the jack?'

'I don't know Jack.'

'The tool-thingy to make your car go up in the air.'

'Oh, that thing. I don't know.'

'Do you have a manual?'

'Of course. No self-respecting male drives an automatic.'

'No, that's not what I meant. You know, what Steve - how about you just stand there and hold this flashlight.'

'Sure, but it's daytime - why do you need a...'

'Just hold it, okay.'

To make a long dialogue short, Sharpur changed the tire and I watched him. It was fascinating! It is also the reason that everyone in the picture above was showing their dirty hands except me. After the picture, I rubbed my hands on the old tire so I wouldn't feel left out, but somehow that happened anyway.

Not left out was Tom, who was actually left in.

'There's a hole in my bucket. Can't buy no beer.'

While helping to change Papa's flat tire, Peter learned that your hands get dirty. Unlike David and Tom, Peter does not like dirt. He's a clean-freak, actually. Border-line obsessive compulsive at times, but that's a funny story for some other blog.

After my car's tire exploded, my bike's tire felt left out and decided to blow itself up. I decided to take Peter with me to have it repaired.

Peter decided that there was no way he was going to touch the tire and 'make my hands filthy-dirty, no thanks, Papa - you do it'. I thought about calling Sharpur, but remembered his words of wisdom: 'We're men. Let's just change it'. Thank you, oh wise one.

I finally got Peter to walk with me to the bike shop, where I was confronted by the most honest and least customer-friendly businessman ever.

'Hi, my old tire has a problem with the chain rotator. I'd like to change it and I brought a new tire with me.'

'Okay. You just need to change the tires, then.'

'Great, how much would that cost, then?'

'What? Are you serious? Just change the tire.'

Thanks again, ass-monkey who called my manhood into question. I can change a freakin' tire, by the way!

Luckily, we did not need bikes to go to the Kika kids' Summer Fest. No, we needed a train ticket and a lot of patience instead.

What you see here is David holding up his arm as if it is a 200 lb weight after we took a pen and wrote my cell phone number on his arm. Peter did not need this, but then again - he has never run away in crowded areas.

From my point of view, the festival was great. Kids, music, freaky weird people in costumes on stage.

The only thing missing was the beer tent, but it wasn't happy hour yet, so I was not panicking. From the kids' point of view, the festival sucked. There were lines everywhere and 'nothing fun to do'. At least they were good at concealing their discontent to the three adults who woke up MEGA-early on a weekend to get them to the damn thing on time.

Angie was not one of the three yawning musketeers, by the way. She was busy at home breast-sleeping Tom and laughing at me, I'm sure.

Shayeste, Sharpur and I racked our brains trying to figure out what could possibly top an outdoor children's festival with all of their well-known and adored TV friends stuffed and in real life? Oh, of course - how stupid of us adults - Burger King! They have cardboard crowns, greasy burgers, and a playground that is apparently missing a sign that warns of flying destructive objects. Please don't sue us, Shayeste.

After our cholesterol intake, I made the wise and healthy choice of ice-cream for dessert.

They were on such an adrenaline high by this point that I am completely amazed that I managed to get a photo with both of them actually sitting. I can tell you, it did not last long. We got home and Angie questioned why the boys were so high on life. I counter-complained with one of my own - why was Tommy getting so high?

Tom likes to climb. I vaguely remember mentioning this somewhere, although I'm not sure where. Doesn't matter, Peter distracted me with his 'arrested elephant' dance that he must have learned from 'Pumpkin-Top', cousin to carrot freak.

Tom felt a little left out. Again. To feel a little left in, he decided to portray a pirate riding a lizard. Yeah, so...that's really, um...unique, Tom.

Not one to be outdone, Peter joined the crowd surrounding Papa demanding my attention.

Ah, Peter - that's a really cool costume and all, but most Superheroes need at least one eye to carry out their kick-ass super-awesome powers. What hero are you supposed to be, anyway?

Oh, cool. You must be the incredible 'E-man'. That's really, uh, special, but you do know that your name actually begins with a P and not an E, right? Blank look. Whatever E-dude, you cool.

E-ter and his sidekick O-m went to the L-ayground and had a ball on the L-ide.

Where was A-vid during all of this cryptic fun? He was busy getting a haircut. When I put David to bed, I only need to run my fingers through his hair once or twice and he is out like a light. I thought this had something to do with him being in his bed and snuggled up on his pillow and therefore already somewhat sleepy. Angie would love hearing that once again, my thoughts were wrong.

This is the 'Going, going, gone' sequence with David at the barber shop. As he dreamt sweet dreams of destruction, mayhem and homeless weirdos with funny accents, I was busy putting catch-up on my blog.

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