Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cry me a river

This was T-minus 5 minutes as the boys waited for Barbara and Armin to pick them up. They were supposed to be going to an amusement park, but in the end, Barbara and Armin apparently thought it would be more amusing to scare the crap out of someone today. They chose Peter. Yes, it was amusing.

Not so amusing was T-plus 30 seconds, when it finally dawned on Tom that he wasn't going to the big super-duper FUN place that Peter and David had been raving about all morning.

It all started with a little road trip. Barbara and Armin were the adult chaperones who had no idea what they had just signed up for. Peter and David were the wild creatures who had an idea of what an amusement park was but were just too wired to think.

Peter's excitement got the better of him and he busted out a rather interesting variant of the chicken dance. My curiosity almost paused, but Angie and I were too busy waving ba-bye to crazy people.

Angie flashed them a cryptic gang symbol from her days in the hood and I whipped out the international sign for 'glad it's not me'. After watching the car turn the corner, we giggled like school girls and left them to it.

This was the first of what would turn out to be a lot of free marketing for Holiday Park. I should really be charging these places for such blatant ad placement.

Armin had no sense of how to slowly build up Peter's courage. He jumped over three levels of anxiety management and immediately suggested Devil's Barrels. David shouted 'YEAH, WA-HOO!', but Peter took one look at the 20 meter watery death chute and laughed. Nice try, Armin.

Surprisingly, Barbara took a more sensible approach. See, you can't lead a mule to water if it's afraid of getting wet. If the stubborn beast also has a fear of free-falling down a waterfall in a wine barrel, it will die of thirst before it thinks of doing anything that you claim to be fun. The solution was to break down the fear factors and tackle them one at a time. First on the list - water phobia.

Peter could not believe that he was allowed on a boat by himself without a water vest. Had he been a bit older, I'm pretty sure he would have demanded to see someone's supervisor. After finally jumping onboard, Captain Pete held a vigilant watch over the rough seas.

David didn't care - he was already trying to ram other boats by the time Peter had finally mustered up enough bravery to jump in. David eventually spotted Peter's boat and well, it was a bit like a red flag being waved in front of a bull.

David charged, but luckily Pedro the matador escaped safely. He even managed to laugh and by the end of the first ride he was past the first level. Water's not so scary.

Next, Barb worked on his fear of rides on water. You might think this is the same as a fear of water, unless you ask Peter. Please don't.

David was bored senseless, but he doesn't have a whole lot of sense, so at least it was a short ride. It also showed Peter that not all water rides are life-threatening. Next on Barb's shopping list was a gallon of 'free fall'.

Even Armin expressed his thoughts on Barbara's plan.

What Armin didn't know is that Peter is very susceptible to bribery. Barb simply promised an ice-cream to any victorious sliders and Peter's belly stepped up to bat.

Watching the boys eat anything is always fascinating. Peter and David both got identical ice-cream sandwiches. David's was gone in less than a minute, leaving behind a sticky mess that splattered his shirt, mouth, and hair. Peter spent almost an hour; he actually peeled his sandwich apart and began licking away the different flavors so as not to mix them up. I personally think he was just stalling the inevitable. He had overcome his fears of water, rides and elevation - it was time. Right, Peter?

Peter is a freak when it comes to analyzing warning signs. When they got to the front of the line, there was a big sign full of stick children falling on their heads, getting dunked underwater, flying out of the barrel...I think the skulls were what finally caused Peter's knees to buckle.

Barb was quick to pick up on Peter's anxiety attack and assured him that the red lines going through the gory depictions meant that those are things that people are not allowed to do. Aaahh, okay.

Peter didn't question why they would need a sign to tell people not to fling themselves upside down out of a flying barrel into perilous rapids, but that was probably because the people behind them were prodding them that it was their turn. It was time.

Peter hates being rude and almost always follows the rules if he understands them. The line-waiting rule book clearly states that when it is your turn, you do not keep the people behind you waiting for your panic attack to pass; you just death-grip the handles and whimper like a man.

As Peter was kissing the ground and swearing to never trust Barbara again, I was busy congratulating the birthday boy.

Mark is not normally a double-fisted drinker; he was just trying to hide the fact that it was a non-alcoholic beer. Nice try, buddy - I can smell those things a mile away.

I play darts with Mark and can certainly vouch that he is more than a pinky away from being a teetotaler. He babbled out some excuse about needing to party all night and not getting hammered at 2:00 in the afternoon. Whatever.

I kicked the birthday girl out to the porch to share a box of juice with Tommy.

Then I disappeared to drink a real beer with Hatch and Hannes. It wasn't until I noticed what Mark was serving for dinner that I remembered 'Oh shit - he doesn't have kids'.

It didn't actually bother me that our one-year old was shoveling fist after fist of chewy sugar into his mouth. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that Angie was not there; she was stuck at home, waiting for the amused to return.

After his dinner of Champions, Tom's unusually high level of sucrose instructed his tiny brain to steal little toys from big dogs.

Luckily, Mark's dog is a lot like its owner - complete crap at darts, smells funny from time to time, and is great with kids. It also drinks non-alcoholic bubbly water.

I eventually had to leave; Angie had called to inform me that Peter had survived the Devil's wine barrel and that the boys were back home. Peter was still shaking when I returned, but I gave him my highschool calculator and for some very strange reason, this calmed him down. He spent the rest of the night running around demanding that people ask him complicated math problems. Then Houdini would disappear under the table and magically come up with the answer.

I finally put Rain Man and David to bed and handed hyper Tom over to Angie. She was completely baffled and couldn't understand why he wasn't tired at all. I almost explained my theory, but decided to go check on Barbara and Armin instead.

After the third drink, they were okay again. Not normal, just okay, which was fine; it could take several weeks of medicinal alcohol to help them get through today's events.

A few hours later, I thought of Angie and chuckled. It wasn't anything mean, like images of Tom still doing laps around the apartment, although that certainly would have cracked me up. It was actually Walid, a cucumber and a memory of days long gone.

Back in our B.C. (before children) years, Angie used to patiently wait until Walid shut the pub kitchen down. She would then 'sneak' into the kitchen and steal all of his pre-cut cucumbers. She always thought she was sneakier than Nike, but I realized when Walid came busting out of the kitchen and started handing out cucumbers that at some point over the years he had picked up on Angie's super-sly vegetable thievery.

'Hey who am I, everyone? Huh? Anyone?'
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we was by the Holiday Park and I got a new little computer - calculator.
David: The park - all of it.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: There wasn't - it was a perfect day.
David: That I don't can't play more in the park.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to cheat.
David: Play with Barbara, okay?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Please don't eat my children

When I picked up my little sister at the train station today, she did mention that she was hungry. I just didn't realize how famished the poor girl was until her second cup of coffee. Oddly enough, it only took Peter one cup to get as wired as Vena. Please don't eat my first born.

David had already fallen in love with Vena on her last trip, but this time she was wearing a RED shirt and, by the looks of things, she was sharing her brownies from the dorm.

As Vena and David bonded, Tom showed off his new theatrical piece.

It was a cliff-hanger that Tom self-described as 'I no fall water', whereby the mattress was the water and the side of our bed was the edge that he was clinging onto for dear life. Vena and David meandered by at some point but they seemed generally disinterested and subsequently disappeared into the kitchen giggling something about having the munchies. Dude, where's my brownie?.

For Tommy's next desperate attempt at getting attention, he dug deep into Papa's bag of party tricks.

I guess I can be lucky that he didn't don a lamp shade. Even so, Vena yawned and I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with Tommy's amazing tricks. It probably had more to do with the 14 hour train ride she had taken from Austria just to be with us. She's doing some musical concert-thingy there and chose to sacrifice her only free weekend to be with us for two days. The whole thing wouldn't have seemed so strange if it weren't for the fact that she has already met my family and voluntarily chosen to return.

I tried my best to get Vena completely hammered the first night, but after her last trip, I can blame neither her liver nor her head for resisting. My camera was thrilled, but that's a different blog altogether.

In short - it was a short night. Vena crashed in David's bed, which he abso-freakin-lutely loved. Not so much because Vena got to sleep in his bed (which, by the way, would scare the ever-loving shit out of anyone that really knows David), but because it meant that he had a good enough excuse to sleep with Mama and Papa.

After a night of fending off wild elbow-swings and karate-kicks, I kicked David out of our bed and commanded him to go and politely jump on Vena's head. For a change, he followed my directions.

For Vena's third breakfast, we decided to gobble down cones at our local ice-cream joint. My belly hates you.

David is a fast learner. He proved this point at the playground by trying to eat a soccer ball. I hope you're happy with yourself, Vean-bean.

Vena wasn't happy. She was hungry, and she had a major brain fart when it came ordering lunch.

See, when Vena was just a wee baby, I was tasked with watching the poop-pouch. For years, Christine and I babysat her, so I was at least partly responsible for molding her into the freak that everyone now knows and loves. One of the more memorable bonding moments was when I declared to the then two-year old Vena that she smelled like soup.

'No soup smell!'

'Yes, you do. Sorry. It's like a beef vegetable soup.'

'No soup! No beef. You beef! Me no vebatable!'

The sad thing is, Vena is almost as unintelligible now as she was when she was two. At least she was able (mentally) to compete with Peter in battle of the wits.

I honestly did not know whether I should explain to Peter that it's impolite to laugh at people during a backgammon game or join him. Since he was already kicking Vena's ass and she looked like she was about to cry, I opted for taking a picture. Of course afterwards, I cackled like a madman and pointed fingers at her, but it's not really my fault if she's crap at rolling dice. Is it?

I guess it is, if you ask Angie, but why the hell would you voluntarily do something so silly? Doesn't matter, I don't even care. The point is that Angie thought I should go and do something with my sister. I tried to point out that watching Peter humiliate my siblings was 'something' and that I was quite enjoying myself. Not surprisingly, Angie's logic starting beating the crap out of mine and soon we were on our way outside. To do something. Somewhere.

Not that I expect it, but if you've been paying attention to the central theme here, it's probably no surprise that we went to a restaurant. To eat. Again.

Man, I love this picture! David is so obviously in love with my sister. If we can ignore the sick, twisted implications of such overtures, it's cute. Right?

Toward the end, I got a little worried that Vena might crank open her 'jaws of hunger' again and gobble up poor Davey, but for some reason, she showed restraint. It may have been the fact that I had a camera and was busy snapping away potentially incriminating evidence. Or maybe it was that I screaming 'please don't eat my second born' in the crowded restaurant. Hey, wait a minute, that's what it was - witnesses.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I win by the bat gammon.
David: When we was by the Chinese with your sister.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I can't watch my show because I eat too slow.
David: When I couldn't throw or hit you on the head 'cause you so crazy.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play with that what I built.
David: When tomorrow comes and boom - Dalia is here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


David woke up this morning and probably thought 'hey, that's weird - it's still dark out; I better go tell Mama and Papa'. I use the word 'probably' because it wasn't quite clear to me at 3:30 in the AM if David was actually thinking when he shook me awake to inform me that the sun wasn't shining. I thought about listing places where the sun never shines, but Master elbowed me in the nose and told us to be quiet. Easier mumbled than done.

I tried several different ways to snooze David, but he was awake and ready to roll. I wasn't, but after a pot of coffee, my brain hatched the perfect plan. See, David has been learning how to ride his scooter bike. By learning, I mean:

a) he hasn't learned to balance
b) he likes to ride as fast as he can
c) falling down does not phase him at all

When I added up the multiple choices, I clearly had no choice but to take him racing through the pedestrian street at full speed. Let's roll.

I had a ball watching men and women of all ages jump out of the way. After the fourth or fifth time, I stopped answering rhetorical questions like 'are you this boy's father' and 'what are you nuts - he's gonna kill someone'. Sure, I may have to settle a few medical claims if they ever find me, but hey - it worked. Check me out.

Negative Mama rolled out of bed, took one look at our little cherub and reminded me of the many reasons why David is no longer allowed to take naps. She nodded as I explained my side of the morning before announcing 'you're putting him to bed '. News flash to Angie - I put him to bed every night. How bad can it be?

I was still sweating through worst case scenarios when Grams and Opa called. Jean and Jerry were making a pit stop on their travels through Europe and they all wanted to go out for ice-cream. Did someone mention ice-cream?

At the mention of ice-cream, David woke up and began chanting 'ya-whoo-ba-diggity-doo' over and over again until I finally dunked him in the bath. That didn't really calm him down any, but at least we removed three layers of street gunk and some leftover soccer tattoos.

At the ice-cream café we actually managed to photograph David before getting himself completely filthy again. Sure, it was only because he wanted to make sure the waiter understood that he was to bring two scoops of 'ya-whoo-ba-diggity-doo', but still - you gotta seize the moment.

For some reason, the waiter was not being so patient with us. To be honest, I would have expected better treatment. We live about two minutes away and our boys often 'entertain' the patrons with animated kung fu shows and impromptu kick-boxing matches. To be fair, maybe the guy had a traumatic kicking experience with a couple of underage theater folk when he was younger. Or maybe he was just being an ass.

I was busy chasing David around the park, so I don't actually know what Grams and Jean were plotting; I'm just sure that they were. Every time I looked over, they were giggling like sorority sisters during Hell Week and trust me - they were not the pledges.

I wasn't within earshot, but I'm pretty good at recreating conversations that I've never heard.

'Hey, Judy - are we staying for dinner with the kids?'

'No, I think we'll head back home after the ice-cream.'

'Great, then let's get the kids absolutely insane-wired on sugar and candy before we leave.'

'Jean, that's a GREAT idea!
I'll go find Peter and David. Horst, can you start shoveling chocolate into Tommy's mouth?'

I started to get suspicious after we paid and got ready to leave. I walked over to Grams and asked her if there was a particular reason she had a death-grip on Tommy.

'No, no. Don't be silly. No reason at all. We're going to leave now. I'm putting Tom down now. Ba-bye.'

Tom hit the ground like a wind-up toy that had been spoon-fed chocolate all afternoon by suspecting grandparents. Peter and David came running over to check out the commotion and pretty soon all three wind-up boys were crashing into each other and screaming laughter at the grumpy waiter with the crappy childhood.

The waiter stopped and glared at me, waiting for my response.

Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I play soccer and I win.
David: When I had a ice-cream with a genie.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I couldn't have a dessert because I was too late with the eating.
David: As we can't not more play games in the park.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To go on my in-liner skating.
David: To play soccer.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Put me down for 5 on the 4th

If I were a betting man, I would have most certainly put a fiver down that the boys would have a kick-ass time at the July 4th blowout festival. The problem with betting is that you first have to have money. Luckily, Angie's school took care of that for us. Thanks Dan!

Dan the Man had organized us VIP passes that included easy access onto the base, front row parking, and enough food and drink vouchers to keep all of us fat, dumb and happy. The boys were ecstatic and my jelly belly came out to say hi; I don't know which one that would make Angie, but it doesn't matter.

Apparently it did matter and Angie 'suggested' that I go celebrate independently. She took the easy one and left me with the gooftards.

I am truly amazed that this picture even turned out; the still shot does not give justice to how spastically they were buzzing about. And this was pre-soda.

We met up with Angie and the wild one at the party tent. With Peter and David, it was not until just recently that they would even think about venturing more than five feet from us, especially in crowded places. Tom did not even say ba-bye when he decided to abandon the family.

I saw him bolting and decided to follow him, curious to see just how far he would go without looking back. He zigzagged his way through the crowd and made his way from one end of the parade field to the other and did not look back once. His inner compass had apparently hijacked his sensibility and guided his selfish curiosity to the kiddy slide that he had screamed and pointed at when we walked in.

As Tommy satisfied his primal sliding urges, buddies 1 and 2 were busy guttering the lanes of the bowling stand.

Peter went first. No strike. David laughed. David went next. No strike, David cried. Peter paused. Papa laughed. Peter laughed. David hit Peter. Peter cried. Papa laughed. Peter punched Papa. Papa laughed. David laughed. Peter laughed. It was a bonding thing.

After so much emotional build-up on the whole 'strike' thing, I finally caved in.

That's right. A full assault air-strike balloon, just for Destructo Dave. Man I love America. My patriotic thoughts of annihilation were interrupted by a mean-looking roadie wearing a doo-rag.

He informed us that the show would be starting soon and commanded us to sit down. Show? what show? For a change, Angie actually obeyed instructions.

As we waited for the mystery show to start, we ran in to Hatch and Sandy. I don't know what the hell Jack did to Sandy, but I'm sure that she's thrilled that I'm using this shot.

David was flashing his patented 'go away' gesture to the Papa-razzi, which normally indicates that he is up to no good. As any good gossip hound, I ignored the signs and continued snapping shots of the miscreants as they waited in line for the show. What show?!

David looked like he was coaching Peter. By 'coaching' I of course mean 'mischievous advice', but I hadn't yet figure out their diabolical plan. It became a bit clearer when Peter started chucking balls at a scantily clad chick wearing a wet shirt. I didn't fully understand why David was giggling away as he continued 'coaching' Peter, but I was curious enough to watch on.

I guess bowling isn't the only sport that Peter sucks at. After missing all ten throws, David's coaching advice finally became clear.

I watched the whole ordeal from the sidelines and I must say that I really froze when honest Pete raced up to the dunking booth just after missing. I kept thinking 'there is no way that kid is going to cheat and manually dunk the poor girl who can't afford clothes into the cold water'. David's gleeful laughter confirmed that I need to rethink my thinking.

The dunkee was rightfully livid, but it was probably more aimed at Peter's insane cackling than getting unfairly dunked. The boy would not stop; he was cracking up so bad that he could not even walk. He was clutching his belly and had dropped to one knee. I have never seen a six-year old so content with himself. My boys constantly do things that I have never seen before, though, so overall - not a big shocker.
After being asked not-so-politely to leave the dunk tank, we decided to round up the animals and head back to the ranch. We went find Tom, who had again run away from his family in search of slides. Angie snatched up the slider and asked him if he was having fun.

I'm guessing yes, but just to be sure, I watched his reaction as Angie told Tommy to wave bye-bye to everyone because we were leaving.

After confirming that he really, really wanted to stay, we packed up our stuff and headed home. If I were a betting man, I would have most certainly put a fiver down that the car ride home would not be a quiet one. I should really start betting.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I got a football balloon.
David: As I had a balloon.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: As we couldn't play any more games at the party.
David: When I not more can play with the Happy Birthday America.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Play with my friends in kindergarten.
David: Play kindergarten with Peter.