Friday, December 30, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line

Yesterday morning we woke up dark and early. Betsy and I showered and packed before the boys even woke up. We were all out of the hotel by 6:30 and airport bound. We skipped our continental breakfast (a big selling point for Holiday Inn Express) and got into a frozen car. We hadn't experienced this at all during the trip so of course this happens on the morning we actually have to be somewhere on time. I ran back into the breakfast, filled three coffee cups with hot water and ran back to the car. After pouring onto the windows and putting the address for the car rental company into the GPS we were on our way into the heart of Tuesday morning New York traffic.

I enjoyed the ride, sitting in traffic watching the Manhattan skyline reflect the sunrise back to us, eating leftover cannolis (Betsy turned the bathroom sink into a frig the night before.)

We got the airport a lot earlier than we needed to be which was nice not having to rush in a mad panic with two little children, but it did mean that we had to wait in a panic with two small children. I spent the majority of this time chasing Big D around. Betsy and Little P returned with to little bowls of Instant cereal; Big D got the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Little P had Cocoa Crispies. This entire time, Betsy and I are juggling two bowls of cereal, the gate is filling up with more bodies and we shift our attention to the two year old. We both tell him repeatedly to sit down so he wouldn't make a mess or worse, spill the whole bowl. That's when the bigger one dropped his bowl all over the floor, his clothes, and the carry-on bags. Sweet symmetry! The perfect book end to the beginning of our trip. Betsy comforts him, Big D continues to eat his Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and i get to work using a brochure as a dust pan. As soon as I finish scooping up the Rice Crispies and find a garbage can, Big D has finished his breakfast and fleeing to wherever he wants (because he's two years old, and can easily fit under areas security has roped off for normal sized folks like myself.) And carry him kicking and fussing back to Betsy and tell her that if I were the crying type, I'd be doing it right now. As if on cue, Big D spit up Cinnamon Toast Crunch on my jacket sleeve. We couldn't help but chuckle.

The plane ride back to Orlando was just as moderately stomach-churning as before with Big D kicking the chair in front of him (I removed his shoes to lessen their impact and also reduce a half-inch of reach) while Little P annoyed him (his duty as a big brother.)

After we touched down and got our van back I kept trying to get a high-five from Betsy. She wasn't having it. She was still far from thrilled that we still had to drive four a half hours home. I was just relieved to not have to "share" my boys with the rest of the world. We were in the comfort of our own private little van.

Keeping the speedometer between 85 and 90 we got home in almost record time. Big D fussed a bit and Little P took two naps (something he only does when he's sick or tired.) I checked the mail inches before we pulled into the driveway home and tried to get a high-five from Betsy and she still wasn't having it. I told her to lighten up. We'd crossed the finish line. As Betsy and I unpacked the van and started laundry, I went back to the van to get Little P. He was crouched on the floor between the middle chairs having just thrown-up all over the back of the van.

This was by far, the worst vacation I have ever been on. This is the vacation to measure all other bad vacations against. I'm confident, that given time, we can look back at this time a smile. It was definitely memorable.

The good news is, I've come back to work on a team planning day. I could certainly use some time away from children for a while.

You know, like a vacation.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Trip Continues...

Yesterday, we figured we would journey into the city.

Everyone either told Betsy don't drive into city, or, parking is free on the weekends.

Our plan was to take the car to the Staten Island Ferry. Betsy punched in Staten Island Ferry into the GPS and it took us towards the bridge. The next thing we knew, we were on the bridge.
Paying a thirteen dollar toll.
Driving into the city.

Betsy would slow down as we passed parking signs, trying to read and react in time. We quickly employed the strategy of parking first, reading second. We found a spot along the street right near the bridge exit. We figured that the sooner we parked the "smaller the knot we have to untie later" would be. We hoofed in up to Times Square and met Uncle Jimmy and Melissa in Toys-R-Us. Way too crowded. The five of us soaked up the Manhattan energy as we hopped into various stores (too crowded) until we reached Central Park. I'd been to New York four other times, but this was the first time I'd ever walked into the park. Keep in mind that the boys have not been getting great nights of sleep. When this happens, Little P acts nasty. Today was no exception. He was a rude, grumpy mess as we walked through Central Park and bought a pretzel that tasted like cardboard. We lost Uncle Jimmy and Melissa at Dylan's Candy Store. Besty wanted to visit Chelsea Market (home of Food Network) but that consisted of me standing in line with Little P for twenty minutes to use the bathroom while Betsy chased Big D through six or seven stores. Not fun. By then, we were exhausted. It was time to head back to the car. I hoisted Big D on my shoulders and we walked towards the car. We knew that as long as the river and Jersey City were to our right and the bridge was in front of us that we'd eventually/hopefully find the car. Two miles later we did.
This was the first time in my life when I've been to Manhattan and not really done ANYTHING.

Except survive.

That was Sunday.
Today we met up with the rest of the family and took the train to Hoboken, New Jersey. Everybody wanted to buy pastries from Carlos' Bakery: Home of the Cake Boss! Betsy and her family love to cook, buy cooking gadgets, and watch lots of Food Network. I joke that they're "entertained" by food. I tend to just eat it and poop it. Going to Carlos' Bakery wasn't a high priorty for me, but what else was I going to do?

The wait to get in started at the CVS across the street. A bakery employee handed out ticket numbers to the people waiting in line. Betsy got #67. I chased Big D up and down the block while Little P and Poppy ate pizza at Basil's Pizzeria next door. Little P is not a big eater, so to see him and Poppy cross the street eating pizza was a thrill for Betsy and I. Especially when their objective was just to find a bathroom. We crossed the street to the front of the bakery forty minutes later. Thirty minutes after that, Betsy and the crew gained admittance into the bakery. On the farthest wall we saw the sign: NOW SERVING NUMBER 27.


I continued to chase Big D up and down the block ( and into a BLIMPIES!) for the next hour and half. I wouldn't have kept my sanity if it weren't for cousin Timothy. Big D wanted to play with him the whole time and he was a great sport to oblige. Big D kept referring to him as "Mr. Mailman." No one knows why. On a side note, Little P was an awesome sport too for being super patient inside the bakery with his mom. We all had dinner at Basil's Pizzeria, took the subway to the bus stop, and rode the bus back to Staten Island.

We ended the night with a game of Quiddler around Aunt Betsy's kitchen table. By far, the highlight of the trip. Betsy concurs.

And conquers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Did Something Pretty Cool Tonight...

I'm sorry. Did I say "vacation" in that last post?

THIS IS WORK. I'd rather be at school...and I hate school.

We woke up Friday morning at Uncle Jimmy's apartment in Orlando. The boys did not get enough sleep to be pleasant on a plane today. They were already amped to be sleeping in a different place when we came in an hour later than we planned.

We got to the airport between 7:30-8:00 to meet our 10 o'clock flight. Big D wanted to run around everywhere. I gave Little P his "Chick-fil-A/TPD" I.D. to make him feel a little older. I thought I was being a cool dad. Big Mistake.
Little P is anything but shy as he interrupted (with an "excuse me" of course) the conversations plenty of TSA agents while we stood in long lines, hands full with carry-ons, shoulders full with an impatient, squirming 2-year old.

Once we got through the security, we met up with the in-laws at a food court. I downed my BK #1 while taking turns chasing Big D around. Betsy got a smoothie from Smoothie King. Her plan was to drink it on the plane. At the gate, we would normally have two options: board first and lock the boys down while the rest of the plane loaded, OR board last. Seeing as how we were the last ones at the gate, we were forced into option #2. Betsy hands me here smoothie while she looks for that "pocket-where-the-tickets-will-be-easy-to-find." So now I find myself holding a crank 2-year old in one arm, and car seat in that hand, and a smoothie in the other as Little P takes it upon himself to run his I.D. through some scanner/expensive looking machine. Stomach in knots (it's natural state) I grab Little P's wrist trying in vain to prevent him from breaking a scanner thing and getting us kicked out of an airport hundreds of miles from home.

That's when the smoothie explodes on the floor. And on our pants. And on our carry-ons.

A two-hour-long plane ride (funny how the missus found a seat away from the boys and myself) and we touch down at La Guardia. We get in the rental car (Toyota Carrola) and drive 25 miles in an hour and a half. Betsy is the primary driver at this point because she causes me nothing but stress when she's a passenger (not sure when this happened in our relationship) so I figure if she's going to be stressed anyway, she might as well drive.

We get to the hotel and Big D enters first. I'm a big stickler for routine when it comes to children, and we just broke MY first rule of entering a hotel room. I always enter first and do a quick sweep that includes: putting the microwave, glasses, coffee pots out of reach, and disconnecting the room phone either from the receiver, or the base, or both. Because when you don't do that, those are the first things at their eye-level, and their to-do list. After that, I jump on the beds with them. Why not?

From there, we drove to Aunt Betsy's house on Staten Island. We used Mapquest on Betsy's phone and got lost like crazy. The phone would sleep, I'd wake it up, press some button I wasn't supposed to and lose our directions. Betsy and I seriously hate each other at times like this. I snap and figure out GPS on my phone. I felt like Batman, rolled in a James Bond, and covered in Iron Man. It was the highlight of the trip by far.

That was Friday.

Today was the day/night of the BIG PHOTO. The ENTIRE reason this trip was planned months ago is the BIG PHOTO.

My mother-in-law is one of ten children. Back in 1961, all ten Werring kids took a picture in front of the Christmas Tree. They Werring kids (half- are grandparents now) wanted to take the same photo 50 YEARS LATER in front of the Rockafeller Tree with all the extended branches of the family.

Today, we drove to Aunt Betsy's, got lost following a gold van to the restaurant, and ate for four hours. Not really something my boys are conditioned for. Big D wanted to run around everywhere and Little P had a fever. A chartered bus picked us up (all 67ish of us) and drove into the city. This was a bigger highlight to me. To dive into the city in a bus, above the traffic, against a setting sun was very cool.

We all disembarked from the bus a block out and walked to the tree. As all 67 us trekked into the city, and exactly how crowded the tree was, how constant the stream of tourists was, it sank in that the BIG PHOTO, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the ENTIRE reason this trip was planned months ago wasn't going to happen. Even the "photographer" bailed.

It was shoulder to shoulder crowed. Betsy and I both teach. We don't like chaos. If kids act crazy of off the chain, we get them in line and we do it quickly. This was a big nightmare. I don't know what an anxiety attack feels like, or what it's like to have a nervous breakdown, but all the ingredients were there. Eventually the original ten had their photo taken and then the next generation took theirs. Half of the crew stayed and partied, the other half (our half) started the hour long journey back home.

The city was/is just too crowded, and a 2-year old didn't make anything easier.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Comic Pitch Page 1 (Final Colors)

Off to New York this weekend. The fam' and I left right after school. Drove to Orlando tonight knowing that Big D wouldn't nap. Did not expect the EXTRA HOUR delay on I-75 outside of Ocala. Crawled. Not one of our better starts to a vacation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011