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...'


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.

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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Odyssey

Easter morning normally starts out with the brotherly tradition of fighting over who gets which bucket for their stash.  Not this year, though. For unknown reasons, this year's bucket choices were based purely on logic. David was wearing a black shirt, so he picked black. Tom was wearing a purple shirt, so he picked purple. Peter was wearing a gray shirt and we even have a gray bucket, but he picked pink. Logically.

Also logical, I thought, was explaining that because it was so cold and wet outside, the Easter bunny had decided to hide the eggs and sweets inside. Luckily, nobody questioned the fact that bunnies live outdoors, even when it's cold and wet. They also didn't question how we knew that all of the stashed eggs and candy were restricted to the living room and the hallway.

No Easter is complete without a second round of egg hunting at Grams and Opa's. Gram's took a slightly different approach to explaining why the Easter Bunny had hidden the eggs indoors this year.

'I forgot to hide the eggs and it's too cold and wet to go outside. You guys go in the other room and I'll let you know when you can come out.'

So, yeah. That approach worked as well.

It was about that point that Tommy decided to turn Easter into an adventure.

'I can't breathe.'

He then started wheezing horribly and complaining that it hurt when he breathed in. We took him outside to see if some fresh air would help. It didn't.

Like most of us, I've always secretly wondered what the emergency clinic looks like on Easter, so I guess I can thank Tommy for that lovely experience. In the end, they deemed it to be a bronchial infection combined with a likely allergic reaction to pollen. They prescribed what looked like an asthma inhaler. Tommy took two puffs and then complained.

'That didn't help at all, it still...Oh! It's gone!'

It really took about three seconds and his wheezing was gone and we were back on track for devouring white asparagus topped with sliced ham and parmesan, another Easter tradition.

After an unplanned late lunch, Tommy and David gave me a glimpse of the swingers they are becoming.

As with any adventure, the trek home can be exhausting, and today's Easter Odyssey was certainly no different.

Ladder Talk:  [The boys' nap on the ride home must have tired them out - no Ladder Talk]
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzz....
David: ZZZZZzzzzz....
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzz....

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzz....
David: ZZZZZzzzzz....
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzz....

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: ZZZZZzzzzz....
David: ZZZZZzzzzz....
Tom: ZZZZZzzzzz....