it was busy times starting on friday. i stuffed a bag full of food meeting my stringent dietary requirements and put the vertically-challenged members of my family into devices with mom-pleasing restraints. we were running a little late because around here, you either run early or late. something always seems to happen to the middle ground.
i took us down, down, down to mansfield and passed the exit to my sister's house. we were headed for good, old debbie lane and the cinemark megaplex to purchase a gift card for my nephew's 14th birthday occurring on that very day. oliver was mystified by the teenaged boy trapped behind the glass and only allowed access to the rest of the world through a very small hole. i should have taken that opportunity to tell him this is what happens to boys who perpetually hurt their baby sisters and everyone else around them. ozzy was kind enough to tell him with file-sharpened fangs yesterday morning what he thinks of oliver's gentle caresses.
we retraced our steps a hair north while i finished up listening to npr's memorial replay of old harvey pekar interviews and then unloaded half our worldly goods into my sister's dining room. it was lunches all around and i took a keen interest upon seeing my nephew's mouth watering over his bowl of edamame pods.
"ohhhh! you know what edamame are, right?"
"soybeans! and you know what else is made of soybeans, don't you?"
"tofu! how about that?"
my nephew (and, in general, his nuclear family) is always inclined to categorize anything he's never considered consuming as ewwwww, and, of course, this includes tofu. and, i discovered recently, pancake mix mixed with water instead of milk. my sister was quick to point out how soybeans are not tofu. we also discussed his feelings about the weirdness of breastfeeding.
"it's just soooo..."
upon commenting he would rather drink milk, i asked if it was less bizarre to suckle milk from a cow's teat. kids!
a little while later, my father showed up with ashleigh, driving in from tyler to join in the birthday festivities. we did the usually passing around of children. oliver spent some time splashing around in the old inflatable and i finally pulled out that tiny, $5 pool i had bought and after some fussing, i got violet to sit down in it and get to splashing. which all ended rather quickly when oliver refused to leave her alone and got her crying again. behind a pane of glass with only a small opening, i tell you. a little later, oliver was intent on getting the water out of the tiny pool before i was certain violet was finished, so he was stepping on the side and i asked a couple of times for him to cease and desist and, of course, he declined. it did the usual devolving into a matter of not minding and he yanked the side way up and i started my approach and requested another cease and desist, which meant he just yanked on it even harder and more furiously and this all ended in a rather dramatic accidental knocking of him down as i tried to push him back from his yanking and i'm sure the whole family was like, "well holy shit. i can see why her child is headed toward looney toon town." i immediately picked him up and placed him in time out by the door. my nephew chose this moment to begin recording with the digital camera, so there's a short film out there for all posterity ending with a pan to me indicating this was not the time for filming.
oliver had a hoot of a time upstairs in the gaming center playing with the pool table and having dylan swap out cartridges in the different gaming systems over and over again until dylan was worn completely down. after dylan recuperated, he was dragged outside and ended up taking oliver for a little walk in the neighborhood.
eventually, jeff arrived home from work and dylan finally decided pizza was the way to go for his birthday dinner, which was a little ironic considering i'd packed myself a pizza sandwich for dinner. oliver and i were allowed to have a non-sandwich pizza anyway, followed by chocolate cake dylan had decorated with a lovely light blue and orange combination of frostings.
it was bedtime before i managed to produce the energy to get us packed and on the rode homeward. children were passing out left and right and we rolled them into bed upon my arrival.
< center>< img src = "on my sister's camera">< / center>
the following morning, we were back at it with the packing of foods and half of our worldly goods. this time, the drive was much longer and culminated in okc for brian's niece's (kinsleigh's) birthday party. i tried to ignite oliver's excitement by pointing out the very red Red River and the "looming" heights of the arbuckle "mountains". i even made up an arbuckle mountains country song to go with it. he was less than impressed. i tried to ignite brian's excitement by reading a chapter from positive discipline: the 90s edition and testing his mental acuity with npr's puzzle card set.
it took something like a thousand years to get there, instead of three hours, what with the stopping for gas and potato chips at the lake lewisville gas and bait shop and circling back to the starbucks so brian could get a sandwich and we got stuck in what may or may not have been called the cloverleaf, according to this place, called the cloverleaf boutique, which had all nature of large, pink things confusingly strewn about out front and it's killing me that they don't even have an exterior photo of their business on the internet... i just know we had to back track several times trying to figure out the bermuda triangle of the access road and it turned out starbucks wasn't really on the access road after all. and then, no sandwiches at the starbucks. or apple juice boxes (just the much more spillable apple juice in cups). so we went and peed all over a couple of the rooms in there. brian walked over to the whataburger while oliver and i split some lemon loaf and there were no grilled cheeses at the whataburger and that made for at least 20-30 minutes down the tube.
we finally arrived around 2pm, just as the party was getting underway. it was baking hot up there. i had been priding myself over the past couple of weeks for surviving the summer temps with some amount of grace thus far. but i feel the temperature has crested into some unbearable place the past several days and it was culminating in okc.
we spent a good chunk of the party getting settled in and feeding children overdue lunches. we had a brief time to unwind before heading back out for ted's cafe escondido to meet up with brian's friend, scotty, and his family because facebook had indicated they were in okc visiting from athens, ga. their nearly two year old, alia, was giving oliver one hundred kisses on the cheek and he was letting her push him while pretending it was throwing him across the waiting area. the nearly four year old, anabel, was grumpy at first but later scrambling all around the table with the other two while she and oliver broke my heart trying to invite each other over to uncle daniel's and grandma's houses. anabel said she had a surprise for oliver over there.
violet was courteous enough to have a gigantic blowout before dinner, to the point brian felt compelled to dunk the diaper in the restaurant toilet. oliver was on the opposite end of that stick experiencing vacation constipation and that caused him to ask brian to take him to the potty three times with zero results. i had fear of my double beans as i had been experiencing one of those painful, unmoving columns of upper digestive tract gas as soon as i had seated myself in the focus at the beginning of the trip. i don't know of any fecal urgencies brian might have been experiencing.
we got back to brian's brother's house right around bedtime and scrambled around trying to get people settled. violet was having none of it at all and it took many rounds of nursings and pattings and walkings and givings up and 1.5 hours to get her to finally pass out. we sat around with daniel, bridget, and brian's mom drinking our cirocs and tonics like adults. i could see that vodka roiling around under the ice, which made me a little nervous. we watched the most horrible ghostly show on the bio channel, i think it was, where they "debunked" the worst computer-animated ghosts and skeletons ever. i was embarrassed for them.
we finally retired to bed in the master suite. i woke up at some point to brian saying my name because i had woken him up with screaming. i think i had been sleeping with my eyes open and had thought the tall, white paper-shaded floor lamp was a person, perhaps disembodied, and felt or heard brian behind me and realized it wasn't him and i had managed to grab the end of the very long pillow and pull it up like some kind of shield while i had an awful-feeling nervous breakdown. and violet did not wake.
she did eventually, though, and moved on to the bed with us. once daylight started rolling around, i found her sitting up and was like, hey, let's nurse and prolong our time in slumberland, and i grabbed her somewhere that placed my finger knuckle-deep in something not right and that would mean poop. big old blowout and i was glad, in a way, to have stuck my finger in it as opposed to not sticking my finger in it and cuddling full body with her for 10 minutes.
i informed brian of the situation and he sat there staring at me and my poopy finger until i said, "GET A WIPE." and he told me he had just woken up as if i had not just woken up. then i had to tell him, "SPREAD OUT DIAPERS ON THE FLOOR." and then i had to tell him, "PLACE HER ON THE DIAPERS." you get the picture. had i not been staying the night in there, he very well could still be sitting on that bed right now staring at violet covered head to toe in poop.
after quite a great ordeal and a whore's bath in the sink (for both violet and me), we got everything cleaned up and returned to some state of normalcy. we fed children and watched them play a bit and, at oliver's adorable request, he and mason went out to play with howie, the world's largest and most athletic looking yellow lab who can jump with a single bound straight into a large, inflatable swimming pool and carry two tennis balls in his mouth at one time. i skipped the take out panera breakfast opportunity because i knew we had awesome plans for lunch.
we finally got on the road and it took even longer to get home. there were probably five or so trips to the potty with oliver, starting with a stop at starbucks and oliver helping brian pump gas next door. brian took a short driving tour of his old stomping grounds in norman, where we had to pull over to freebirds for me to take oliver for a fruitless potty trip.
i don't know why, but gazing upon this sign at the Circle K really did make me feel better about mondays.
people, who were not in charge of driving, eventually fell asleep, some of them with large crystals under their elbow which had been found near their grandma's house last january and which had been switcherooed by their cousin and then their cousin decided to give it back without an exchange anyway.
we made it all the way to gainesville and 15 minutes from my old stomping grounds in denton before brian had to pull into DQ country to pee, which meant oliver wanted to go in after to do nothing on the potty. we finally made it to mecca, mr chopsticks, for lunch. this is my favorite restaurant of all time and one i used to frequently frequent in denton. i had a steamed spring roll and a plate of basil eggplant and tofu so large, the rice arrived on a separate plate. i ate almost all of it. oliver has been experimenting with hot sauces lately and decided to squirt sriracha on his rice. there was a lot of sipping water for him. we concocted a take out box of everyone's left over rice and brian's zucchinis and oliver's fried tofu for a later dinner snack. oliver went to the potty twice and forced us with hot tears to stop again fifteen minutes later at the taco cabana in lewisville so he could extract his sriracha water. and not poop.
brian tells me once we were finally back home, oliver made a pile of savory snakes, the smell of which i'm sure i wouldn't want to encounter.
that's the same look i get when i eat mr. chopsticks.