Things I Learned On Vacation

1. Rock-Paper-Scissors will settle any and every debate.

Who has better looking children?  Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Who is smarter?  Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Who is loved more by mom?  Rock, Paper, Scissors!

By dad?  Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Who will win the first Nobel Peace Prize?  Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock!  (We watch a lot of Big Bang Theory.)

The list goes on and on.

2.  When you see a man with a scar from the corner of his mouth all the way up to his forehead, a knife in one hand, and a chain mail glove, say hi.  Chances are he’ll be very nice.

3. Apparently, the appropriate thing to say after one farts is, “You’re welcome, Mommy!”

Also, my boys are evil demons!

4.  Time still passes when you’re on vacation.  Some times, it passes faster than you expect. We got back home in time to see the annual killing of the corn crop.  Every stalk of corn that was green when we left was dry, withered, and brown.  I understand that insurance will pay a certain amount for crops that don’t produce, but you’d think after watching corn die year after year, they would look for something that actually grows in the area.  Can dead corn actually be used for anything?

5.  When little boys spend almost two weeks in the back of an SUV, it’ll smell like a dorm room. 

Does it matter that my boys are still in single digits?  No.  It smelled like dirty feet.

It took two weeks for that smell to dissipate.

 

Also, we had a great time!!

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Tuesday Whilst Eating Oysters

On the second official day of our vacation, we ate at an oyster bar called Wintzell’s in Mobile, Alabama.  The main reason we ate there was because Ed wanted gumbo.  As if we needed any other reason!  I like making that man of mine happy!  (Did you just feel the eyes in his head roll backwards?  I think they’re going to be stuck that way!)

Anyway, we found the restaurant loud and fun and perfect for our foursome!  Shortly after we sat down, Trip asked what an oyster was.  I tried for several minutes to explain what an oyster was, but my explanations just weren’t cutting it.  I noticed a man behind the bar shucking oysters.  I told Trip to get up, we went over to the bar, and I asked if my baby could see one of the oysters he was shucking.

The man was beyond nice.  He told Trip everything he could about oysters in about five minutes and then asked if Trip would like to try one.  Trip absorbed everything gratefully.  Then, the nice man asked Trip if he wanted to try one.  Trip thought about it for a minute and didn’t say anything.  The man then suggested that Trip try one on a cracker and my little boy was down to try an oyster.

I put about seven and a half drops of Tobasco on the oyster before he was ready to try the oyster and had a folded paper towel in case the oyster came rapidly back out with instructions on what to do if said oyster did not agree with him because I have some major texture issues and am extremely conscientious to the texture issues in others, but little dude chewed it up and swallowed all of it and claimed to like the raw oyster.

I was proud.  There is absolutely no chance I would have tried anything like that when I was his age.  Dude was brave!

We went back to our table and bragged to Ed about what he had done.  Ed was dutifully impressed.  We all looked over our menus and Trip insisted on ordering the oyster sampler.  They oyster sampler consisted of sixteen oysters prepared in several different ways.    The dish was expensive so I offered to share the dish with Trip since I only wanted a bowl of gumbo anyway.

Can you guess what happened when the food came out?

It won’t be hard.  I promise.

Trip took one look at the huge plate of oysters, then looked at me and my gumbo, and said he couldn’t eat any of the oysters.

I wasn’t entirely surprised, but REALLY, DUDE?

I didn’t want a huge plate of oysters.  I had only planned on stealing his oysters Rockefeller.

Trip and I traded seats and I ate the oysters and Trip ate my gumbo.  I did have a bite of the gumbo and it was AMAZING!  photo[1]

What are you going to do?  There’s no wasting good oysters!

Unsalted Cat Turds

We had Rangers baseball tickets for the second Wednesday after I got back from vacation and I spent more than a week thinking I was on heart call for surgery (I love my new job!) and couldn’t go to the game with Ed and the boys.  I thought I was on call right up until I left work at 3:00 that afternoon when I double checked the call schedule and found out I was not on call.  Score!  I called Ed and told him I could go to the game.  Fortunately, he hadn’t found anyone to take my ticket.

We hopped into Ed’s SUV and drove an hour and a half to the Ballpark at Arlington.  It’s a drive we make fairly frequently.  The boys, as they tend to do, told plenty of fart jokes and farted and said, “You’re welcome, Mommy!”

Red lights are red.

Green lights are green.

How much can I fart if I eat one pinto bean?

They are a gift to poetry.

At some point in the drive, Logan became upset with Trip and was trying to illustrate how cruel Trip was to him.

“He really doesn’t love me!  He’s so mean to me!  He’s so mean, he gave me cat turds for Christmas last year!”

He gave you WHAT?

“He gave me cat turds and made me eat them!”

Oh, the horror!

“It’s not funny, Dad!”

I agree, boy.  It’s not funny.

Giggle.  Snort. (From Trip, not Logan.)

“He didn’t even put salt on them before he made me eat them!”

Logan was distraught!

I died laughing!  I couldn’t hold it back anymore.  The poor boy was so upset though about the mistreatment he had withstood at the hands of his brother.

We got to the game and bought lots and lots of food.  Logan and Trip are at an age where they can finally appreciate a good baseball game without constant intervention and placation.  In the fourth inning, the Rangers had done something which resulted in a sponsored giveaway for the fans.  We all got coupons to Denny’s for a free grand slam breakfast with the purchase of a drink.  After lots and lots of explaining what the coupons meant, Logan decided it was time to bargain.  I told him I’d give him my pancakes because I can’t have them anyway with my paleo diet.  Never mind that I don’t like pancakes anyway and wouldn’t eat them even if I wasn’t following any kind of diet, I would just give them to him.  Logan didn’t want my theoretical pancakes.  He wanted my bacon.  Naturally, I refused.  We’re talking bacon here.  I’m not giving it up!  Logan threatened to eat my arm because I wouldn’t commit to giving him the bacon from the free breakfast.  I told him my arm was paleo and asked him if he was turning into a cannibal.  He grinned, licked his lips, and tasted my arm.  He threw my arm back at me, saying it tasted like I hadn’t showered in weeks.

Demon child!

As I protested his assertion, he assured me he was still going to eat my arm, I just needed to clean it first.

Oma Almost Dies on Vacation. Again. It’s a Recurring Theme.

Oma and her sister took another vacation together.  On some level, their trip may have been less stressful than the one she took with her sweet children two weeks earlier (ahem), but Oma and her sister always have a near death experience.  Their collective children have come to expect wild stories and even Ed the Awesome likes hearing about their misadventures.

Oma and her sister had a relatively uneventful trip to Disney World last year, but they’re both in their 60’s and felt like they hadn’t really had the chance to experience everything Disney had to offer.  Last year, they each lost 10 pounds because of all the walking they did, enjoyed a home cooked meal every night in their condo thanks to Oma’s exceptional cooking abilities (some might say that cooking is merely following directions, but I assure you, there is significantly more involved if you want a truly great meal), and Oma relaxed with a glass of wine in the evenings.  Oma also came back with wicked tan lines on her feet.  (Totally unfair.  She could have given me some melanocytes in the womb if she had wanted.) But, they each felt like they hadn’t seen every single thing Disney had to offer, so they went back this year.

Their first five days were uneventful, so we all waited with bated breath for the text or call that began with, “You won’t believe what happened to us.”

I got the text while I was at work on Thursday.  There was a pretty significant thunderstorm and lightning had struck the condo above theirs.  The upstairs condo’s kitchen was on fire.  They were waiting for security to check out the unit.  There was smoke in the hallway.  They were waiting in their rental car in the pouring rain until they knew it was safe to go back.  (It turns out the condo above theirs wasn’t on fire.  Oma didn’t know and still doesn’t know where the smoke was coming from.)

I got more details on Sunday.  Oma tells a much more dramatic story in person and she likes to save details for when she gets back home.  She and her sister had been in their condo that afternoon because of the thunderstorm when they heard lightning which sounded like it had struck extremely close to them.  They opened the door and saw the people from the upstairs condo racing down, fear evident on all of their faces.  Oma asked what had happened and the mother barely eeked out that lightning had come through the window into the kitchen, right next to their son.  Oma and her sister grabbed their belongings and raced to their rental car, getting sopping wet in the downpour, and stayed there for the next couple of hours until they were given the all clear that their condo was safe.  Mom was most upset about the little boy who had almost been hit by the lightning and how terrified he looked, but he too was not hurt.  I think his scared eyes might haunt her dreams for a while though.

So once again, Oma is either doing something really wrong because she has a near death experience on every vacation, or she’s doing something really right because she always comes home from these vacations unscathed.

Cherry Pie Filling

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That’s an extreme close up of my little brother, Jacob.  You’re welcome.  I’ve said for years that I was lucky he wasn’t born a girl.  He would have been much more popular than I was.  He had blonde hair, blue eyes, and a magnetic personality.  And that damned tan.  Couldn’t the pigment have been shared a little??  He got every single melanocyte there was to be shared.  It’s not fair!!!  (I’m fine with it now.)

His hair turned brown and still the girls flocked to him.  His hair has since started to turn gray and fall out and they still flock to him.  I am finally ok with that though because I have Ed the Awesome and I am the winner now!

Jacob is also my sibling closest in age to me.  We had many funny stories growing up and this is one of my favorites!  🙂

******

Jacob was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school.  He hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet, so he had to compete for potential dates with lots of handsome boys who had already hit their growth spurts.  Tiny, little, skinny Jacob had to rely on his personality for dates.  Somewhere in the middle of his sophomore year, he landed a date with a fairly popular girl from high school.

I didn’t like her.  I didn’t have a reason for not liking her other than the stories I had heard about her and she sounded vapid.  I’m sure plenty of people thought the same of me at the same time.

The dinner conversations for a couple of weeks consisted of Mom asking Jacob for details about his romance and he hadn’t yet figured out how to evade such an interrogation.

The last conversation we had about this girl involved the two of them eating lunch together.  Jacob had gotten the school cafeteria version of nachos in which a bag of chips is dumped unceremoniously onto a styrofoam plate and liquid cheese product is poured on top of it.  Definitely not haute cuisine or even remotely healthy, but still a little less disgusting than the cherry pie filling that Jacob’s girlfriend had for lunch.

Yes, she had a can of cherry pie filling and ate it out of the can with a spoon.

She finished her “lunch” before Jacob did and since there was no protein in that can, she was still hungry.  She asked Jacob for some of his nachos.  Jacob, always good with words, told her, “I think you’ve had enough to eat for one day.”

Their relationship ended that day.  Mom and I had a great time telling him all of the alternative things he could have said.

Aunt Pam and My Broken Finger

A thousand years ago (or thirty), when I was a little girl, I went to daycare while my parents worked.  I don’t remember any of the people specifically, but I can still remember swinging on the swing set with my eyes closed and watching the red of the sun through my eyelids and feeling the wind on my face as I pumped my legs back and forth, flying higher and higher in the sky on my swing.  I remember playing tag and running on the gravel, stretching my legs as far and as fast as I could to get to home base.  I remember ballet classes with a real life ballerina.  We had yearly recitals and the most perfect gowns.  Mom still has pictures from my “ballerina” days.  There were water gun “swim” days and first crushes.  There were best friends, fast friends, faces I can no longer recall.

The play yards were separated into three different areas by chain link fences with a wooden privacy fence surrounding the perimeter.  The younger kids were kept to what I think was the north side.  One day when I was four years old, I was playing in the rocks and the red, hard packed dirt underneath the rocks in a corner of the baby yard.  I don’t recall exactly how or why I did it, but I put my chubby, short, four year old fingers through the chain link fence as I was standing up.  My right ring finger got caught and it broke.  I told the daycare attendants I had broken my finger.  I’m sure they sent me to the “nurse” who looked at it and patted me on the head and said I would be fine.  Unless you were vomiting or covered in lice, you got a pat on the head.  If you were lucky, you got a band-aid.

When mom picked me up from daycare that evening, I told her I had broken my finger.  Mom, who is always quick now to get any injury seen by a doctor, looked at my finger and told me it was jammed and I would be fine.

I don’t remember complaining about my finger, but I must have.  My next memory about the finger involves my dear Aunt Pam.  Aunt Pam is somewhere around 5′ tall, maybe 5’1″ if she’s having a good hair day.  She has the personality of a giant though.  Whenever she would come over, she would squeal when she saw me and hug and love on me.  Aunt Pam is one of those special people who can make you feel as if you are the center of the universe.  When she left, she would get down on my level and envelop me in a fabulous hug and remind me that she was my favorite aunt.  I have since learned that she did that with all of my cousins.  (There are around 20 of us.)  The thing that makes Aunt Pam so special is that for whomever she is talking to, she gets on their level and really listens to what they are saying, no matter if they’re 4 or 40.

So Aunt Pam came to the house about six weeks after I broke my finger in the chain link fence.  I remember sitting in her lap in the Lazy Boy rocking chair.  The chair was blue and fluffy and we fit perfectly together on the chair.  She looked at my finger as I told her what happened and she said, “Aww baby, it IS jammed.  Let me pop it for you.”

(Don’t those just sound like famous last words?)

Aunt Pam pulled my little ring finger and apparently heard a horrendous crack.

“Janet!” she called my mom, the concern evident in her voice.  “I think her finger might really be broken.”

Mom took me to the doctor the next week where I had an x-ray which confirmed the first fracture and the subsequent re-setting done in the Lazy Boy.

I did not require surgery.  The finger didn’t even need to be splinted.

Mom never again told a child they had simply jammed their finger.

Sometime after I reached adulthood, Aunt Pam and I were talking at a family Christmas dinner (loudly, of course) and she asked about my finger.  She was HORRIFIED that I remembered sitting in her lap as she (not on purpose) re-broke my finger.  She said she never again touched another child’s finger because she was so traumatized by the whole experience.

My right ring finger is still crooked.

Flying with Jacob

Jacob and I sat next to each other on the plane.  We were riding on Southwest airlines which does not have assigned seating.  Our group of four had been some of the last to register for seating, so there were slim pickings for seats.  Mom and Brian each chose a middle seat in between strangers.  Jacob and I held on to hope that we would be able to sit together and lady luck was with us!  We sat in the very back row.  A larger woman had taken the window seat which was fine because neither of us cared to stare morosely out the window during the flight.  Jacob graciously took the middle seat and I got the aisle seat.  Score for me!!  Our loud, boisterous conversation prior to take off surely made her regret not sitting in between two other people who might have been quiet so she could sleep during her flight.  We should have offered her the chance to change seats with mom or Brian.

Jacob and I are always loud when we are together.  It’s our go-to volume.  Jacob has some hearing loss from his many ear issues and surgeries from when he was a kid.  He compensates by getting louder.  I am just loud.  Together, we are obnoxiously loud.  Mom and Brian find our volume charming.

Anyway, Jacob and I sat together on the plane ride out and, as it was early morning for me and the end of a long night for him, we talked loudly and carried on an obnoxious conversation.  I threatened to talk to Jacob throughout the duration of the flight and he threatened to tell me about his activities of the previous night and the woman who stole the window seat from Mom (it’s pure theft now in my mind) pursed her lips and closed her eyes.  I’m sure she was just tired.  At one point, Jacob told me he wanted some of whatever I was on.  I felt that was an invitation to talk about my Paleo diet.  I was wrong.

The plane eventually started its engines and rolled to the runway.  We took off quickly and our ears popped with the pressure changes.  Up and up the plane rose through the gray sky until we broke through the low lying clouds.  We emerged on top of the clouds and looked down on an endless field of huge, white, cotton ball clouds, full of hills and valleys, glens and dales, all with subtly varying shades of white and gray.  (That’s the technical term:  cotton ball clouds.  You’re welcome.)

Jacob closed his eyes and tried to sleep.  The window thief’s expression softened.  I got out my pen, eager to write, hoping for inspiration.

The first of our many flights was extremely turbulent and Jacob wasn’t able to sleep quite like he wanted.  Every time his eyes opened, I started talking to him.  I took his open eyes as an invitation for more conversation.  How could I be wrong in that assumption?  The woman in the window seat also wasn’t able to sleep, but she gave up the scowl as a look that sour apparently took too much effort.

The waters I ordered for both Jacob and myself, both of which I intended to drink, arrived with the first major wave of turbulence.  I had expected bottles of water.  We got two open cups.  I drank mine as quickly as possible while Jacob juggled his, trying to keep the water in the glass instead of himself through the turbulence.  He acted as if the water was going to melt his skin, so I took it from him and started drinking.

The turbulence stopped and Jacob drifted back off to sleep.  I went back to my writing until the next round of turbulence and my next opportunity to talk to my wakeful brother.

By the time we landed in Birmingham, Jacob’s eyes were rolling and he was having difficulty focusing on my face, but he said very clearly to me, “I don’t want you to sit next to me on the next flight.  You’re too loud.”