Monday, May 26, 2014

Eight is Enough

The right mix of laughter, frustration, love and exasperation apparently makes time fly, since it seems like only yesterday when David made his dramatic entry into the world. I'm a firm believer in documenting memories, so just to make a short story long:

12:00 PM
Angie had been given a cocktail to help induce birth. THE BABY was already three weeks overdue, so the doctors had finally reached Angie's level of impatience.

2:00 PM
Angie and I were allowed to walk around. Actually I did the walking and Angie kinda waddled around like a duck with a bum foot. We stopped for a coffee, only Angie drank water and kept muttering threats to her belly, prompting strange looks from, well, pretty much everyone, myself included.

6:00 PM
I had dinner with Angie, only I didn't eat because I gave up hospital food directly after my birth. Eat up, sweetie!

8:00 PM
I went home to relieve Barbara, who was watching Peter.

8:30 PM
I called Barbara, who was almost home, and apologized. I then told her that I had a bad feeling and asked her to drive back to watch Peter again. Unlike Angie, she did what I asked and I left for the hospital.

9:00 PM
I got to the hospital and two minutes later, Angie's legs started shaking uncontrollably. This happens from time to time, but since she wasn't on a dance floor, I decided to call for the doctor.

9:30 PM
A rather annoyed white coat arrived and attached what looked to be jumper cables to Angie's belly. After monitoring THE BABY's vital signs for five minutes, the doctor deemed everything to be normal and disappeared.

10:30 PM
Angie told the nurse that she felt strange and tried convincing her to call the doctor again. The nurse heard Angie, but didn't really listen. Instead, she repeated that the doctor had deemed everything to be normal and then she also disappeared.

10:32 PM
Angie begged me to chase after the nurse and drop-kick her in the teeth. I briefly entertained the request, but then I remembered that I was wearing sandals and I have very fragile toes.

11:30 PM
A nurse called Karin came in, explaining that they had just had a shift change. She then asked how things were going and again, Angie told her that something was simply not right. Karin then reassured us that she would check back in every fifteen minutes, which Angie appreciated.

11:45 PM
Karin came back in to check on Angie, who started explaining yet again that something was not right. At exactly that point, Angie pulled back the white sheets, which had suddenly turned red. Karin immediately sprang into action, hitting an emergency call button next to the bed. Within 30 seconds, Angie was whisked away by three other nurses. A fourth one stopped me and told me that I would need to stay in the room.

11:50 PM
After five minutes of pacing, yet another nurse came up and explained to me in very broken English that 'You must here... big problems... maybe your baby is retarded...or dead.'

11:51 PM
A much freaked out father started freaking out on the nurses at the head station, shouting threats at them that may or may not have involved drop-kicking and dental references.

12:04 AM
After an emergency C-section following a placental abruption, THE BABY says Hello World.

12:30 AM
Angie is brought to the room, drugged to eyeballs and completely out of it. Shortly after, Karin brought in THE BABY. Since I hadn't been planning to spend the night, she brought in a cot and let me hold my second son.

4:45 AM
Angie's drugs started to wear off and she woke up asking if she was dead. I told her that I was no doctor, but that I was pretty sure that she was not dead. She then asked if THE BABY was dead. I explained to her that I was holding him and held him up for her to see. The problem was that whatever they had doped her up on was affecting her vision, prompting her to ask me if THE BABY had five eyes. I, of course, told her that no - our newborn did not have five eyes; he had six. I know, I'm an ass. 

05:00 AM
I relieved Barbara for a second time. I then face-planted the sofa and started snoring.

05:01 AM
Peter woke up crying. I shoveled baby food into him until his belly finally fell asleep again.

10:30 AM
Peter and I went to visit Angie. We went to her room, but Angie was in the bathroom. I chatted up her roommate, who eventually asked me what we called our baby.

'Well, we were thinking about Finn, but that means "light-haired" and our son was born with dark brown hair, so come on, how stupid would that be? What about you? What's your baby's name?'

She then pulled back the covers and revealed a shiny new baby with jet-black hair.


10:33 AM
I politely excused myself from the awkward confrontation that I had just initiated and asked Finn's Mama if she could simply send my wife to the coffee corner when she was done in the bathroom.

11:30 AM
Angie and I were enjoying a coffee and had just agreed on naming THE BABY David Dylan when Karin walked by. She was just finishing her shift, so we gave her a big hug and thanked her again.

We didn't find out until later how serious a placental abruption is, but you literally have minutes and Karin's quick reaction most certainly saved David's life. We have since become very close friends, so thank you again, Karin!

Flashing back to this morning, I'll simply continue with the minute by minute recap.

5:00 AM
David danced into our room singing 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEEE!'. I explained two things to him. First, you don't sing the birthday song to yourself. Ever. Second, birthdays are never celebrated before 7:00 AM. I then told the birthday boy to go back to sleep. We compromised and he snuggled into bed between Angie and me.

6:30 AM
David shook me awake to ask me what time it was. I told him to look at the clock on the wall and tried to go back to sleep. Then David shook me awake again and asked me if the batteries in the clock on the wall were working. Rather than respond, I dragged myself out of bed, made a coffee, and released the birthday boy into the wild.

6:31 AM
David raced over to open the one gift that had the same size and shape as a Nintendo DS game.

6:32 AM
David opened his new hockey bag.

This is a special sports backpack that has a side strap designed specifically to hold a hockey stick. David has wanted this for the past two years, but I refused at the time, mainly because I wanted to see if he stuck with the sport long enough to even make a goal. In the meantime, David is totally obsessed with field hockey and has developed into one of the best players on the team. Yes, I do realize that I may be slightly biased.

6:33 AM
David opened 'the frog' that he had so desperately wanted when we visited Sea Life last month.

6:34 AM
David was so happy about finally getting the orange frog to match Tommy's purple frog that he love-tackled Mama. 

6:35 AM
Tommy didn't have a gift for David, but his 'Happy Brother Day' apparently moved Davey.

6:36 AM
David opened one of Peter's many gifts. I don't pretend to know what a box full of Yu-Gi-Oh cards is, but apparently David does.

7:15 AM
With the early morning gift frenzy out of the way, we could also focus on how crappy a Monday should be. So yeah, Peter and David went to school; Tommy went to Kindergarten; I left for work; and Angie left to go play with a bunch of kids.

7:16 AM
On my way out the door, I saw this chalkboard greeting, which is normally used to coordinate the soccer tournaments with Mile, who lives upstairs from us and challenges the boys to a match once or twice a month.

6:10 PM
I came home from work to find all three brothers huddled around David's new Yu-Gi-Oh cards. After the second 'hello', I gave up on getting a response and grabbed my camera instead.

9:00 PM
My last gift to David was to give him an extra hour on their normal 8:00 PM bed time. In that hour, Peter, David, and Tom had organized a comedy show. I walked in on Tommy's story about a rabbit with a farting condition.

The right mix of laughter, frustration, love and exasperation can definitely make time fly.

Laughter could clearly be chalked up to the flatulence coming from Tommy's funny bunny.

Frustration would be me trying to get wound-up boys tucked in.

Love was the full circle of hugs and kisses from all family members, except me, who had apparently been banned from Angie's kissing club.

Exasperation came around the 8th time that David came out to, um, yeah, um, ah, 'use the bathroom'.

'David! Eight is enough!'

Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That Davey had a birthday.
David: That I get so many cool things for my birthday!
Tom: That David had his day today.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I fell and hurt my leg. 
David: Come on, it was my birthday! Nothing was bad.
Tom: When I was so itchy.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To play with all of David's new stuff.
David: Play Yu-Gi-Oh.
Tom: To play with Lauri cars.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunscreen and Aspirin

This morning started out like most weekends - with sun screen and aspirin. And not necessarily in that order. 

See, last night Angie had arranged for Tommy's Ute to watch the kids so that we could rock my 40th proper. The problem was that my liver apparently missed the memo explaining that it wasn't 21 anymore. My head got the message loud and clear this morning, though, and I can guarantee that there will be a body-wide correspondence going out shortly.

I downed the aspirin with coffee and coyly asked my life planner if a power nap was included in her birthday package.

'You didn't seriously forget that we're going to the park today?'

Over the past decade or so, I have been programmed to ignore certain tones; it's kinda like Pavlov, only instead of salivating, I silently started packing a picnic.

Me being an American, I didn't just pack a picnic. No, no, don't be silly. I packed a five-course meal. And I didn't stop there. In my ripe old age, I simply ignored the fact that we didn't have paper plates and decided instead to pack glass plates. Eleven of them, to be exact, even though Marie is not old enough to use one. I also packed glasses for everyone, silverware, salt and pepper, and a portable radio. Like I said, I'm an American; you don't skimp corners when it comes to a picnic.

The first thing I noticed when I was staging the two very full IKEA bags by the front door is that they were pretty freakin' heavy. At some point, Angie felt compelled to weigh in.

'You're not seriously bringing THAT to the park?'

Instead of salivating, my brain convinced me that getting the car would be far wiser than responding.

As we entered the Schwetzingen Palace, the gate guard peeked into the two IKEA bags full of Tupperware containers, glass plates, and paper towels.

'You do realize that you are not allowed to picnic on the grounds.'

I ignored Angie, who had started cackling like Broom Hilda.

'Picnic? Ha! Don't be silly! We're, uh, just meeting some friends later tonight for a barbeque. Yeah, friends. After the park, of course. And we don't have a car. No, I'm just lugging this stuff around for our barbeque. Later. With friends. After the park. Without a car. Yeah.'

'Ah, okay. Enjoy the park.'
Shortly after the gate, my aging shoulder broke down and Nicole came to the rescue by grabbing one of the two IKEA bags. My back thanks you!

As soon as we got out of sight from the guard tower, I tried convincing everyone that they must be super hungry. When that didn't work, I informed everyone that they WOULD be eating, whether they liked it or not.

Something about the twitching in my left eye convinced everyone to look for a suitable picnic locale.  We went with the garden maze, mainly with the assumption that the Park Rangers patrolling the grounds would not venture off of the main path.

Shortly after getting started, I thought I would test everyone's readiness with a friendly evacuation drill.

'Shit! Here comes one of the guards!'

I absolutely love Angie's 'totally busted' look. Shortly after this shot, Angie demanded that I delete the photo, which I then convincingly convinced her that I did. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I offered to give Angie mouth-to-mouth after her self-proclaimed 'near heart attack', but she grumbled something that smelled like a decline. Fine, whatever.

After successfully getting away with our 'forbidden picnic', we continued to canvas the park. At one point, nature called and Peter and David answered.

Finding a toilet in such a large park can be tricky. Also tricky are the signs that indicate which bathroom is for the ladies, especially when you are David and don't really care about things like looking at the sign on the door when you really need to go.

So, yeah, Peter had raced into the Men's room and was totally embarrassed by David, who had danced his way into the Lady's room.

Peter probably could have shrugged off David's faux pas, but as we were waiting outside for David to finish, a woman walked in. A few seconds later, Davey walked out giggling.

'Hey, did you see that? Some lady just walked into the bathroom.'

Peter and I exchanged an amused look. Rather than responding, I asked the boys to strike a pose.

Peter's squeamish look told me that he was still embarrassed. Even so, I thought it was a cool brotherly-type moment.

After our rather amusing bathroom break, we continued our search for frogs. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to Angie's unusual fascination with disgusting creepy-crawlies, so I wasn't surprised that she took the lead.

We finally spotted one, which meant that we could move on the next amusing adventure - tree falling. Tommy went first.

When I was young, I loved climbing trees, too. I prided myself that I could climb higher than my older sister. Okay, this was not so hard because she was too intellectual to climb trees, but that is beside the point. My problem was always the trip back down, which normally involved a ladder and a very annoyed mother.

Tommy solved the problem of getting back down by simply letting gravity carry him home.  The problem with gravity is that she doesn't know concepts like 'carry' and 'home'.

Lisi and Paul witnessed Tom's fall from grace and subsequent meltdown and went on to injure themselves. It was almost as if the kids wanted to earn their 'honor badge' by hurting themselves and then comparing wounds. We decided to move on before they ventured onto something clinic-worthy.

On the way out, I called for a photo-op. The first attempt was, hmmm, revealing.

Paul flat out refused to strike a pose. Lisi was holding onto Marie, who was vocally not feeling photogenic. Marie's screaming apparently concerned Peter, who was about to be unwittingly tipped over into a pile of Canadian geese poop by David. And, for reasons unknown to normal humans, Tommy felt compelled to attack Angie's purse.

'Alright! Someone get the screaming baby out of the picture and let's try this again!'

After this lovely shot, we loaded the kids up and headed home. The ripe smells of Canadian geese poop filled the car, ensuring that this evening would end like most weekends - with a bath and a beer. And not necessarily in that order.
Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When we went to the Park.
David: The Park.
Tom: When we was at the park with Lisi and Paul and Marie. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When Davey went into the woman's bathroom. 
David: When Tommy fall from the tree on his head.
Tom: When I fall from the tree why I was climbing.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: To go to Arman's, 
David: To play in the garden with Yuki.
Tom: I want to eat a cheeseburger.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Under the Hill

When you turn forty, you start to care less about some things. Gray hair, who cares? Another wrinkle, bring it on. I drew the line, though, when my wife transformed herself into Chewbacca.

In her defense, we had been celebrating into my birthday. Also, her jackpot gift to me shortly after midnight was a new Canon EOS 700D, so I thought it would be a nice token of my appreciation to have her featured in the first picture taken.  You can thank me tomorrow.

Tomorrow started in darkness, as I was awoken by three members of our family who were more thrilled than I was. It's a well-known fact that Angie is never happy in the A.M., so I'm sure that you can narrow down the three suspects. If not, you're a moron.

Peter went first, with his birthday card that was adorned with key chains.

I noticed that Peter had used the Eiffel Tower key chains for his card. These are the same trinkets that I had complained to Angie about on our last trip to Paris.

'We don't need this crap! They are never going to use them!'

Thank you, Peter, for proving me wrong. And thanks for the kick-ass birthday card!

No birthday is complete without a monster-on-a-stick, so I was getting a bit nervous until the boys whipped out their trio pack. 

I had to go into work, so I was fully prepared for the next eight hours to suck. When you turn forty, though, you start to care less about some things. Another ad-hoc report, who cares? Back-to-back conference calls wíth multiple time zones, bring it on. I drew the line, though, when I came home to find that my youngest had transformed himself into Tom Selleck.

Ladder Talk:  [The boys demanded that I do Ladder Talk tonight]
1) What was the best part of your day?
Papa: I'm gonna go with the monsters-on-a-stick; no respectable household is complete without them.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Papa: When you guys collectively and gleefully ignored my command to 'snooze' this morning.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Papa: Turn back time.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Can't Buy Me Love

Mother's Day started with Tommy sneaking into our bed and swiping Mama's 'Hangover Shades'. This was followed by a move that I like to call 'I-probably-shouldn't-publish-pictures-of-my-wife-drooling-on-our-third-born'. I'm pretty sure that all the cool stuff she'll be getting today will be more than enough to buy her love, but I'll let you know tomorrow. Hey sofa, how you doing?

The boys all remembered how long we made them wait at Christmas before we let them loose, so they planned their revenge by not allowing Mama in the room until they were ready.

'Guys, I hate to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure Mama is going to be less than devastated if you force her to stay in bed until you guys are ready.'

'Papa, what does "debastated" mean?'

'Never mind. You guys just keep Mama waiting; I bet she is absolutely fuming in there.'

 After almost an hour, they wisely decided to rethink their strategy and went with the father-approved 'jump on her head' strategy. Yep, that worked.

Shortly after the gift frenzy began, Tommy lifted his blinders and started spastically screaming that his gifts would be the first to be opened. Okay, calm down, there, psycho.

I was pretty sure that Angie would like whatever Tommy had crafted at kindergarten, but to be on the safe side, I also bought a pocket mirror that Tommy could give her. Trust me, she loves looking at herself.

Next on the list was Peter, who had, for some reason, bought Angie a medicine cabinet. A what??!!

I was just about to verbalize my curiosity when I noticed David, who was quietly standing on the sidelines with a gift-giving grin. David is never, ever quiet, so this suddenly became more puzzling than trying to figure out why in the world Peter would give his mother a medicine cabinet as a token of his love.

Before I could whip out my detective cap, David had turned to his brothers.

'Are you guys done?'

David didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he shoved his masterpiece into Angie's hands and beamed.

To be sure that his artwork was not confused with Tommy's scribble, he drew an arrow next to his with the explanation 'David drew this'. In the bottom right, he included an arrow pointing to the flip side with 'And Tommy drew this'

Peter calmly acknowledged David's honorable attempt with a condescending nod before whipping out his family pack of handmade doilies. Booyah!

David gave Peter's smug look a cursory glance before gleefully whipping out yet another love sketch.

Peter's normally not overly competitive, but apparently out-gifting him on Mother's Day is a no-go. He upped the ante with a story entitled 'Mother's Day Riddle'.

The riddle to be solved was that every child in the class had described what they liked about their Mom. Angie then had to read all of these fables and guess which one was Peter's.

'Oh, is it this one: "What I like about you is that you console me when I don't feel good. You understand me and help me when there is something I can't do. You cheer me on. I like when we sit down together and read or play something. Thanks!"


'Ah, how about this one: "You're nice and I think it's cool that you spend a lot of time with me. I also think it's cool that you often help me. I like being alone with you. I like that when we're alone, you sometimes buy something for me. I like that you don't yell at me a lot. I also think it's great that sometimes in the evening you cuddle with me and explain important things to me."

'Nope, guess again.'

'Ah, I know: "I like playing Frisbee with my Mom. You're nice, helpful and funny and you take care of me with a sense of humor. We like doing arts and crafts together. I really like that you are always there for me, even when I do something wrong or get a bad grade. You're the best Mom I can imagine."

Peter beamed from ear to ear, until David gloated over.

'Nice story, Peter. I also made a story for Mama - but mine rhymes.'

After reading his love poem, David turned to Peter.

'Your turn. Ah, do you not have anything more? That's okay, I thought that Mama could use a voucher, so I made her two. If you want, one of them can be from you.'

The first voucher was for 'when you have worked too much, I will help you'. I didn't tell David, but I definitely thought that Angie might need another 364 vouchers.

The second voucher was for a stroll. Angie loves to go for walks, so David's offer was dangerously close to being the best gift so far. Empty-handed Peter looked like he was ready to beat David with a medicine box if he whipped out one more gift, so I jumped to the rescue with my 'jewelry cross'.

I am pretty sure that Angie was just about to plant me a big fat juicy one when competitive Dave broke the mood with yet another lovely love sketch.

'That's lovely, Davey. But check out the new lamp I got Mama.'

David didn't respond. Instead, he grinned contently and handed Angie the fait accompli.

I give you a kiss. I hug you. I will always love you. 

Peter and I exchanged the same look as Angie read David's card. Okay, David. You won this year, but next year, we are so going to give Mama more love than you. 
Ladder Talk: 
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That Mama had a good day.
David: That Mama liked all of my gifts. 
Tom: That today was Mama-day. 

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That David is just wanting to play games the whole day. 
David: That Peter was being mean to me why I don't know.
Tom: That we did go'ed in the bath.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to go play darts.
David: I want to go to Yuki.
Tom: I want to go to Happy Kids.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the 4th Be With You

'These are not the weirdos you would like to have sleeping in your house.'

'Yes they are.'

'These are not the weirdos you would like to have sleeping in your house.'

'Um, yes. They are.'

I'm either crap at Jedi mind tricks or Nicole really did want our little Stormtroopers to destroy her new place.

The last time we visited Nicole, she was living above a comic book store and her secret loft had a set of steps that you could raise and lower with a string, so the boys were eager to see how her new place matched up.

After dropping our bags, the boys disappeared to discover cool things, like graffiti on the shed door and garden wall that perfectly matched their personalities.

'Hey, wait a minute. What are you two doing there? You guys should be in front of the goofy looking elephant. Where's Peter?'

After putting hippie-boy in his proper place, we decided to move on with our real mission, which was a two-day 'Star Trek' marathon showing the first six episodes.

'Our mission' did not include Tommy, because he is not quite old enough to watch 12 hours of, well, anything. 'Our mission' also excluded me, because leaving Tommy to his own devices for 12 hours didn't smell like a good idea. Besides, I was still against the idea of a movie where the main hero is running around the whole time trying to kill his father.

Speaking of people that might want to kill me after this weekend, I do realize that it was a 'Star Wars' movie marathon. See, Nicole works at the movie theater and has spilled blood, sweat and tears to plan and organize the entire event.  I only wrote 'Star Trek' above because it cracks me up to imagine her face when she reads this for the first time. It's okay; she knows I'm an ass.

Tommy might not have been able to watch the movies, but he wasted no time in picking sides. Dark, please.

So, while Momma got her Jedi on, Tommy and I watched 'The Lego Movie'. In case his face doesn't give it away, his shirt pretty much sums it up.   

Two years ago, I gave Peter the 'father-son' talk on a beach in Kos. I assumed that David would be next in line and that the talk would be happening sometime this year and Tommy two years after that. Shortly after the movie, though, I caught Tommy busting a move on Wyldstyle.

I broke up Lover Boy and told him that we had to talk.

'About what?'

'Ice-cream. What else?'

After a lengthy discussion that thankfully had to do with whether mint chocolate chip tastes better than chocolate chip, we walked around town.

Our first stop was Nicole's old stomping grounds, where Tommy flashed me his gang sign. Man, that is one bad-ass five-year-old.

After letting him intimidate a group of tourists, we moved on. Having no other mission than just killing time apparently irritates five-year-olds.

'But, Papa, where are we going now?'

'I told you, we are just walking around. Your brothers won't be finished for another three hours.'

'But, Papa, where are we going now?'

'Right now, we are walking to that bridge over there.'

'And after that?'

'It depends on what we see from the bridge.'

'But what if we see another bridge.'

'Then we'll visit two bridges today.'

'My legs hurt.'

Something tells me that Tommy will never grow up to be a tour guide.

Instead of continuing our Walk of Repeating Questions, we sat down at an outdoor cafe and knocked back a few rounds of hot chocolate and coffee.

When the sugar and caffeine had just started kicking in, Angie called to let me know that she was now officially a Trekkie. Just kidding Nicole.

After three back-to-back movies, nothing hits the spot like a pizza. Or five. 

Nicole ordered enough pizzas to choke the entire Johnson's Zoo, her work colleagues, her friends, and a mid-size marching band that sadly never showed up. Then we carried the healthy little snack down to the river to test my nerves and patience. I may be married to a teacher, but I hate tests. With a passion. 

'Peter! You almost shoved your brother into the river! And I really don't care if he poured apple juice on your pizza. You shouldn't have burped in his ear!' 

'David! Stop trying to kick the ducks! And I really don't care if they were attacking your feet. You shouldn't have tried petting their babies with a fork in your hand!' 

'Tommy! Stop throwing your pizza bones at your brother! And I really don't care if he threw salad in your hair. You shouldn't have eaten his last tomato!'

So yeah, The Boardwalk Empire version of dinner was definitely entertaining, but after the third time that Tommy tried throwing himself into the river, we decided to head back to the ranch while all of the animals were still dry.

Putting the animals to bed was easy. Too easy, to be honest. If they had been playing soccer for six hours, I would have simply cracked open a bottle of anything and celebrated the lack of noise.

Knowing all too well the effects that three back-to-back movies with Cokes and sugar-coated popcorn tend to have on my children, it was no surprise when Peter came out to the living room shortly after cracking open the first bottle of wine. Yeah, I wrote first.

'Peter, why are you up? Did you have a nightmare?'

'No, but the Pig Guards of Jabba the Hut are taking over world domination.'

Angie and I exchanged the 'you or me?' look. By my judge of Angie's glare, we were about to have a paper-scissors-rock showdown. Old school style.

Before we could even haggle, Nicole had scooped up Peter. Like Santa, she promised him a bunch of things that were totally never going to happen. Like watching the next three episodes.

David was still in denial the next day when we explained for the fourteenth time that he would not be watching the next three episodes.

'You are not the parents that can tell me what to do.'

'Yes, we are.'

'You are not the parents that can tell me what to do.'

'Um, yes. We are. And if you don't stop shoving that laser in my face, I'm going to melt it down and make plastic earplugs that I will wear until you turn 18.'

'Can we watch The Lego Movie, then?'

And that is how I ended up on Day Two of the Papa-Tom bonding marathon. Twist my arm.

Two bridges and fourteen questions later, Angie called and we decided to meet up at the market square. David and Tommy spotted a bouncy pad and took off running.

'Peter, don't you want to go to?'

Peter didn't verbally answer, but his revolted look and nonchalant shrug indicated that he has now surpassed the age when you can be publicly caught on a bouncy pad. Instead he wanted Angie's iPhone so that he could digitally capture the essence of man.

After a manly Latte, we rounded up the muppets and headed off to watch, surprise surprise, 'The Muppets'. After the movie, it was getting late, so we thanked Nicole again for an absolutely awesome weekend and got on the road.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner and Tommy asked Mama how to tie his shoes. His interest in shoe-tying is not new, but for the past year, he has refused to allow anyone to help him with his shoes.

'I do it by me self!'

The problem is that being stubborn does not mean that you can suddenly tie your shoes. So, for the past year, the simple task of putting on one's shoes has more times than not resulted in teary frustration, followed by Tommy storming off in a huff with his shoe laces trailing behind.

Today, Tommy tried a different approach and actually asked Mama to show him how to tie a shoe.

After a two-minute explanation, he nailed it. I, for one, am going to miss his watery meltdowns, but Angie was rather pleased with herself. Oh shut up, you're a teacher. 

On the way out, we saw a World Cup sticker book lying on the table with various magazines and coloring books. Angie looked left. Angie looked right. Then she shoved the book in her purse.

'This book does not belong here.'

'Yes, it does.'

'This book does not belong here.'

'Um, yes it does.' 
Klepto-mom justified herself by explaining to me that it must have been a mistake that someone left the collector book. Without the sticker cards, it was worthless and everyone knows that taking something that has no worth is, technically, not stealing.

It was hard to argue with Angie's Jedi logic. She had just finished watching the first three Star Trek episodes, though, so she did have an unfair advantage. 
Ladder Talk:  [From the first night]
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: That we watched three Star Wars movies with Nicole. 
David: The Star Wars movies.
Tom: Lego film.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: That I couldn't watch the Lego movie.
David: Nothing - it was so cool today.
Tom: That I did have it hurting on my side.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: I want to watch the other three Star Wars movies.
David: I want to watch some more movies.
Tom: To have a good day.