Sunday, October 21, 2012

Top of the Morning!

Okay, let's be honest. It wasn't morning. But come on, we're the Johnsons. On the weekends, if we do anything more than coffee in the morning, it normally involves a trip to the clinic. Luckily, our doctor's visit was already ticked off earlier this week when Peter got his cast removed.

Angie woke up freaking out about how the sun was out and how this clearly meant that we were obliged to go climb a mountain. Amazing. I've been married to a German now for nine years and I still overlook how odd their lady folk can be.

Against all odds, I managed to avoid Angie's plan. Until my third coffee, that is, when Angie put Patton to shame and began barking orders at the troops to 'put your helmets on!'. I thought I would advise the general on one minor point.

'Butter-buns, I think it's a great idea to ride bikes to the base of this mountain you feel compelled to climb, but Tommy still hasn't really mastered riding a bike yet.'

'He'll learn. Let's go!'

I took off with Peter and David and stopped a few minutes later when we realized that we had lost two of the more opinionated members of our family.

When we turned around, I found Angie's bike parked on the sidewalk. I searched briefly for Angie and found her storming back to the house dragging Tommy's bike.

Angie gets her way most of the time, but I guess Tommy is more stubborn than I will probably start being. Teach me, grasshopper. 

I caught up with her as she turned the corner.

'He can't ride at all!'

'Really? Who would of known?'

The price for asking rhetorical questions was having Tommy's bike shoved into my chest.

'Take this back to the house and meet us at the bridge.'

'And Tommy?'

'He'll ride with me.'

'But you don't have a bike seat.'

Like Pavlov's dog, I have been trained. When I see Angie's eyes roll, I get the hell out of Dodge. As I bolted past the city limits, I was still scratching my head as to how Angie was planning to transport my future coach. After ditching lazy-boy's bike, I caught up with the quartet at the corner of Realization and Trepidation.

'Um, Angie - are you sure it's really wise to dump our four-year with authority issues on the back of a bike without a child seat?'

'Yes. I'm sure.'

Great! With that clarified, we moved on. Tommy clutched on for dear life and I'm glad to report that he didn't rebel against our instructions to not let go.

We parked the bikes at the old bridge and started our hike.

On the bridge, David took one look at the river and bolted out a rather loud solo rendition of 'I follow rivers'. Angie jumped in with her unique style of encouraging praise.

'David! That song gets on my nerves - knock it off!'

David is Tommy's mentor when it comes to getting his way, so I wasn't exactly surprised when he said 'Yeah, okay Mama!' and then skipped off screaming 'DEAP SEA, BABY, I FOLLOW YOU'.

Angie does not normally pick her battles wisely, but this time she wisely chose to ignore David. Instead, she decided to focus on a mushroom. That's right. A mushroom. I was busy herding stubborn animals up a mountain when Angie frantically pointed out the mushroom and irrationally demanded that I take a picture of it. For a brief second I thought about asking my lovely wife if she had lost her freakin' mind. At exactly that point, though, she rolled her eyes.

After appeasing strange female types with digital shots of fungi, we climbed higher. Lazy Tom immediately demanded a piggy back ride on Papa's shoulders. In the end, my back compromised with a water break at the first station for out-of-shape hikers.

Peter jumped up on the ledge and started busting out jokes. It's his new thing, so we are encouraging him. By 'we' I mean 'Angie'.  I just hope that in a few years, they'll actually be funny.  

At the top, we took a break at a picnic area with rides. David immediately jumped on the merry-go-swing and was having an absolute ball until a boxer decided to go a few rounds with his tire.

Luckily, David has 'street smarts' and wisely chose to lift his foot gear higher shortly before Cujo attacked. He even started giggling nervously and saying things like 'Papa, this dog is eating my swing.' I tried to comfort him by reminding him that his shoes are also made of rubber. I failed.

After the Dogs Gone Wild photo shoot, I moved on to Monkeys Gone Wild.

As strange as it may sound, Tommy has never been on monkey bars. Not so strange is that he took to them like Michael Jackson on rice. At first he didn't even understand the point of the big metal sculpture. His own personal interpretation of the big Pavian contraption was to climb to the middle point and hang in a dead push-up until screaming to be rescued. As fun as this was, I decide to teach him how to bring out the inner monkey. 

I was shocked! He was hanging on the middle bar and I only verbally explained the steps he would need to do to actually swing and BIZAM! He nailed it. Totally. Um,...can you say 'future Gold winner' - oh, yeah. 

After Monkeyrobics 101, we decided to have lunch. At this point, I should state that Angie was the self-appointed food-packer. David dove into the backpack and ran away giggling with a bag of Doritos in his hand, followed closely by Peter, who was aggressively chasing him and trying to gain possession of Angie's version of a health snack. 

'Let me get this right - you brought a bag of Doritos to our healthy nature-hike?'

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand affirmatives.

I chose to ignore my wife's inner paradoxes and instead convinced Peter to join me in a machete attack on some wild growing bamboo. Because Angie is such a boy's Mama, I was not allowed to bring an actual machete. In the end, it was more of a 'pocket knife attack', but the good news is that we still bagged two bamboo shoots.

Peter immediately hunkered down and began shaving off the branches.

I can totally see where David gets his gene to do stupid shit that gets him in trouble when he starts to get bored, which is quite often. I watched Peter's carving for almost a minute before yawning. I then grabbed my bamboo stick and ripped off all of the branches. That's right ladies - with my bare muscles.

My brain thought that the next logical thing to do would be to swing the bamboo shoot as hard as I could against the shoot that Peter was meticulously carving and scream 'Laser Fight!'. Despite years of trying, I am mentally unable to disobey orders issued by gray matter belonging to me, so I swung.

In case you're not familiar with bamboo (I, they are like long wooden fish rods and end in a very thin whip. In case you have the fortune of being kidless, I should also explain the brief silence that unhappy children subject parents to as they are sucking in enough oxygen to sustain the scream they are about to unleash.

In an unfortunate comedy of events, Angie actually witnessed me accidentally face-slapping our first born with a bamboo whip. I apologized to him and Angie visually kicked me to the sofa shortly before Peter was able to vocally release his pain declaration.

Peter was still bawling his eyes out when Angie decided it was time to move the troops on. I once again apologized to Peter's face welt and let Angie guide us through another hour of unsolicited wilderness training. In the end, as it always is, I called the shots.

'Right, let's go to the pub!'

The troops were a bit skeptical, but I won them over with promises of a table soccer and sugar water. For the General, it was the promise of cooked food that did the trick. For Papa, it was simply enjoying a Guinness at The Brass Monkey.  

Top of the Evening!
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we went to the Heiligenberg. 
David: That we go'ed up the hill.
Tom: That we go'ed out to the mountain.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When you whacked me in the face with that stick. 
David: When my bicycle was broken and that I have the hiccups.
Tom: That we can't play this lightning game not.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to play with Sebastian.
David: I want to play games and do my butt dance.
Tom: Play computer and look TV.

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