Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sun and Sand!

Before I get to the main topic of this post, I would like to thank my mother for the text that she sent me the other day. It said, (and I quote), "How is the blog coming?" She knows full well that I haven't updated my blog since the 16th of July, so it gave me a little bit more motivation to post something. However in my first post I did make it quite clear that I am lazy and often find it easy to fall into a pattern of inconsistency when it comes to writing. But anyway, thanks mom for being an avid reader of my blog. I know you spend your days hitting the refresh button on your computer waiting for my next post.

Since the school year is quickly approaching, we decided to take a trip to the beach. Nothing too long, just a couple of days to enjoy the salty air. Since Jonas is only 2 1/2 months old we left him behind with Imma and Poppa. He probably would have enjoyed himself, but the potential for fun at the beach is somewhat proportional to one's ability to walk.

At about 8:30 on Tuesday we loaded up the van for our little getaway. It is common practice for anyone going on a trip to complete a mental checklist to ensure they have packed everything. That is exactly what I was doing, except I didn't really know what we needed, so I just loaded what Jen gave me and double checked with her on the rare occasion that I thought we had forgotten something. Everything seemed to be in order, so we drove off.

The trip was going great until about 2.3 miles into the trip. From the back of the van we hear Caden say, "I want my flip flops please!"  Naturally we assume his flip flops had fallen off of his feet and they just needed to be picked up off the floor of the van. Of course we were wrong. I don't exaclty remember how it all unfolded, but we realized that Caden was put into the car without any shoes. My fault! Luckily we were right next to the Family Dollar. This is signifcant because in my last post I made fun of the Dollar General, and here we, are at their mercy, hoping that they had some shoes that would accommodate our little boy. (You see, backtracking 2 miles when you have already started your trip is nonsense).

If you have ever had the privilege of riding in our Nissan Quest, then you know once it reaches 65 mph it begins to shake with incredible force. Being inside the van is truly a memorable experience. We drive while holding our drinks in the cup holders so they don't bounce out. Our poor children are in the back watching a movie on a DVD player that is moving up and down so much that I had to velcro, tape, and bungie cord it in order to hold it down. Fortunately, this all falls into the category of a normal ride. That is how our drive went until we reached our destination.

On a side note, I developed another habit that only fathers seem to have. The infamous road trip language. This is when you tell your children, "Five more minutes," or "Almost there," things of that nature. While making those comments, I was reflecting on how much I hated it when my dad said it, but there I was feeding my children false notions of how much longer we would be on the road.

We finally arrived at the Blockade Runner Hotel and checked in. As we unloaded our bags and gear, there was a young man who loaded them onto a cart. I don't know his official title, a bellboy mabye? Anyway, he was responsible for taking us and our luggage to our room. In my head I began thinking if this service requires a tip, and if so how much? Do I have any cash in my wallet? As we were in the elevator I inconspicuously  (just kidding it was packed and I was in plain sight), checked my wallet. As I ruffled through the receipts, I found $3. That would have to do. After the young man unloaded our luggage, I placed the money in his hand and bid him farewell. I am almost positive he saw the look of confusion on my face as I was still thinking about his official job title, and what a respectable tip would be. He is probably laughing it up with his buddies right now. I guess this tells you how often we have someone carry our luggage for us. Anyone with knowledge in this area feel free to comment.

After unloading we got ready for the beach. For our family this isn't a quick task. Most of you know, we are as white as they come. My family can empty a bottle of sunscreen in one outing. After liberally applying the sunscreen we grabbed our bag and ventured out to the beach. Jen and I both had sunglasses on so we were able to see perfectly despite the burning sun. Our boys on the other hand were blinded by the sun and they used their sandcastle buckets to get some relief. So there we were, the Miller family walking out to the beach. Mom, dad, and two kids with buckets on their heads.

We had a blast on the beach. The boys enjoyed running in the water and getting hit by the waves. We also dug holes and Caden even made hot chocolate out of sand and water. There was only one slight issue during our fun filled afternoon, that had had to do with my cell phone. You see, just to keep track of time I placed my cell phone in my suit pocket. Here is my question, why would they make swim trunks with pockets? It seems like a recipe for disaster. So there we were diving into the waves, when I realized I had left my cell phone in my pocket. I pulled it out like I was rescuing a person drowning. I quickly assessed the situation. It is kind of like when you don't know anything about cars but you still lift up the hood and pretend that you will be able to come up with an explanation of why your car broke down. I decided to take the battery off of my phone and set it on the towel. Here is the really bad part. A couple hours before we arrived at the beach, Jen and I had a great talk concerning our budget. I voiced how I would like to purchase a new "smartphone" with a data plan the next time our contract was up. Since I confessed that idea, I have a notion that Jen thinks that I may have purposely drowned my phone. I assured her I did not do it on purpose, but I don't think she bought it.

Overall it was an extremely fun visit to the beach and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the boys and relaxing. The trip back was uneventful, (except for the moment where I had to climb up in the McDonald's play place to retrieve our children )and we arrived home without any problems. School and responsibility is quickly approaching! Until next time....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Life on the Frontier

If you read the previous post, you know that our family is on vacation. We made a few pit stops along the way, but we finally arrived at my parents in NY as we had originally scheduled. It was a great time of visiting with family and friends many of whom (I don't know if this is the correct use of the word "whom") we only get to see about twice a year.

Everyday was pretty chill, but there were some memorable moments that I think are worthy of recording. I am curious to know how many parents allow their children to use the bathroom outside during the early stages of potty training. I know many who have, and we have also allowed it in our yard. Let me add that our yard has a privacy fence, and we have a designated pine tree that is to be used. (If you visit you probably don't want to spend a whole lot of time hanging out by the pine tree). I ask you the question stated previously because of a repetative experience we had over the course of our stay. As we (my wife and parents) are sitting outside shooting the breeze, we notice that over by the clothesline there is a boy with his pants down around his ankles just letting it go. "Quinn! What are you doing?!" "I am going pee," he said, with a huge grin on his face. I think he wanted a high five for his accomplishment, but I knew where his hands had just been. If reading this disgusts you, then you might not want to spend any more time reading this today. This I'm afraid is only the beginning. They didn't verbalize it, but I think my boys were trying to go to the bathroom in every area of the property that could be reached. In the creek, off the deck, on the tree, you name it they hit it. Pretty exciting stuff. It made us reflect on the "Free Spirit" outdoor potty training method. Next time we will have to include a few days worth of lessons dealing with "Social Acceptance," and what to do in the yards of others. I apologize to my wife right now for putting this out in the open. We will still have friends, I promise. and if our friends don't let our kids pee in their yard, then what kind of friends are they?

On one of the days we visited a hands-on museum for children. The kids absolutely loved this! They had an actual train,  a Sesame Street area, a shopping center, an airplane, etc, and all of it was interactive. For those of you who don't know my children, they are obsessed with trains. Quinn a little bit more than Caden. While we were there, Quinn located the wooden Thomas train set exhibit. This is where he wanted to stay for the majority of the time. This wouldn't have been so fascinating to me, except for the fact that they were the exact same trains and tracks that we had at home. Not to mention there were about 20 kids fighting for 15 trains. It is interesting when you become a parent and you watch your child interact with others that they don't know. Like the intance when a kid stole Quinn's train, and the other parent and I made eye-contact. There is a split second where I am thinking, "Gosh lady, your kid just snatched that from my son, is that what you model at home?" I'm sure she was thinking, "Did he just see that and expect me to do something? Give me a break, there are like a 100 kids here stealing each other's toys." That left me at a crossroad. Do I go over and correct the child (who stole Thomas and two milk cars) or do I just let it go and tell my son who was in the right, to share? Just as I am thinking this, Quinn looks at me for some sort of insight or wisdom. Hmmmm.... What words of wisdom could I impart to my son during this great learning opportunity? Before the words came pouring from my lips, Quinn noticed that some poor sucker left his Thomas and freight cars in a tunnel and Quinn went over and snatched them before the other kid knew what hit him. A perfect example of adapting to one's environment Nobody's feeling were hurt, so just relax. The child who left his train in the tunnel was at a different area. At any rate, my parents paid for the museum trip, so I didn't feel too bad about spending $11 for Quinn to play with a train set.

Before I end this post I want to jot down some knowledge I have gained during my stay here in NY.
  • People from Naples NY talk about the Dollar General like it is a shopping mall. Sorry if you're from Naples, but it's true.
  • Pools can go from 55 degrees to 85 degrees in a matter of hours, and then can drop in temperature again just as quickly.
  • I will always need to live at least 15 minutes from a Walmart.
  • When you set up a special "Kids Movie Night" your kids will sleep right through the movie. When you try to have I don't know.. a night where the adults want to watch Iron Man, your kids will be totally awake and refuse to play with their toys thus causing you to miss the movie.
  • Hot dogs and hamburgers are eaten by everyone 5 days a week during the summer.
  • Pretzel M&M's are a delicious snack
Oh, I almost forgot. If you are a close friend or relative and you would like to here a story dealing with: A mall bathroom, Yelling, a janitor, a garbage plate, borders and Karma, then let me know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beginning of Vacation

July has come upon us and along with the scorching heat comes the annual family vacation. Each summer my family goes on what I like to call a "progressive" vacation. Since we live in North Carolina and the rest of our family lives mainly in PA and NY, we travel North to see them. This can be quite the adventure, and I will try my best to accurately document and describe the experience as it happens.

However, first, lets think about the word "vacation." When one thinks of a vacation, it often involves: relaxing, sun, drinking from a coconut, things of that nature. Although I selflessly love my children, when they are involved, "vacation" is no longer the term that should be used. A vacation with children means: more pitstops, middle of the night feedings, nonstop running, diapers, the list could go on and on. This is a realization that needs to be made before beginning your vacation. If you have some false notion that it will be all relaxing and sun, then you won't survive. It's better to just face the facts and prepare for what's ahead.

The big change in the vacation equation this year was the addition of a car top carrier (or roof rack). It is designed to place belongings on the roof of your car thus giving more room in the car itself. For some reason the thought of strapping suitcases and other belongings to the top of a car sounds like a recipe for disaster. It makes me think of those horror movies when the girl hears a noise and goes downstairs to see what is happening. That never works out in a positive way. I fully expected our belongings to be thrown about I-95. Thankfully nothing fell out and the carrier did what it was designed to do.

So we are packed up ready to go. My wife is in the house making sure things are turned off and doors are locked while I am in the van buckling up children and giving them the road trip pep talk. It is important to note that I have twin 3 year old boys and a 6 week old boy. To the twins - "Now you guys are wearing pull ups, so if you need to go to the bathroom just go in your pull up, understand?" "uh huh," they replied cordially, probably not even listening to what I was saying. The statement I made may not have been a big deal to the average person, but what I know that you don't, is that my wife spent a lot of time and energy getting my kids potty-trained. They are finally communicating their needs regarding the bathroom, and now I am telling them the exact opposite of everything my wife has been telling them. Instead of telling them to use the bathroom, I am telling them to use their pants. I decided not to tell my wife the pep talk that the boys and I had.

Our trip starts just like any other trip; a family eager to get to their destination full of energy and excitement. "I wanna watch Polar Express." we hear from the back. "You got it!" Ahhh, isn't it great that kids can just sit and watch a DVD and be zoned out in the back of a minivan. Parents don't need to worry about interaction of any kind, they can just pass back snacks and keep their kids happy. Some point during the first couple of hours my wife lets the boys know, "If you need to go potty, let me know and we can stop and go." uh oh. Are the boys gonna sell me out or are they just going to brush mom off and keep their eyes glued to the DVD player. Before the thoughts in my head are even complete I hear Quinn say, "No, daddy says to go in diaper." SOLD! I guess 3 year olds don't quite understand the bro code yet.

As we are parked at our first pit stop, I come to the realization that any hope of making good time is out the window. We need to feed a baby, take the boys to the bathroom, and let them stretch out for awhile. After nearly an hour we hop back in the car energized and ready to press on. (This is about 3 hours into our trip). The boys are given some snacks and we put a fresh DVD in the player. This isn't so bad. My wife and I listening to music, the boys in the back watching a movie, baby Jonas in the middle row chillin out. Life is pretty good. Then it happened. the DVD player shut off. NOOO! Earlier before leaving we realized that the car adapter for the player was broken so we would use it's battery. Needless to say, the battery let us down. 2.5 hour battery life? Give me a break.

Hmmmm... What could be done to solve the problem of cranky, complaining kids in the backseat? I know, how about I ask them questions and try to talk with them. Kids love that. Wrong. They didn't want me to talk with them. They wanted gratification from a source of media, not family bonding. In went the kids cd. What adult sings those kid songs anyway? The woman who is singing is trying to sound like a kid which makes each song sound so terrible. Unfortunately the boys love this cd and in the back I have two kids singing away.

Also at this time, my wife moved to the middle row to help calm down a screaming 6 week old. A screaming 6 week old, a screaming 45 year old woman trying to sound like a kid, in go my headphones. Ahhhh much better. Trip continues as planned.

Our first stop was in Hershey, PA and we made it there about 4:30. Nothing too exciting happened on the rest of the drive there, except for the large amounts of beef jerky and red bull that was consumed by yours truly.

All Aboard the Blogging Bandwagon

Well, I have officially jumped on the blogging bandwagon. I can't pinpoint the motivating factor that is causing me to blog, except the idea that memorable moments happen, and I count those moments worthy to be recorded and chronicled for future reading and reflecting. I have tried to journal, but if I was given a grade based on my consistency it would probably be a C+, and that is being quite generous. So as a warning, (probably a warning just for my wife since she will be my only faithful follower), if you begin reading this consistently for a few weeks and then you notice that the blogs have stopped, there is a good chance that I am just falling into my old ways of "sporadic journaling," or so I like to call it. A second warning is for anyone who is looking for something deep or philosophical. Unless it is by accident, you probably won't find anything with too much depth in the text that I am composing. I hope you enjoy reading future entries, but if you find reading my blog too boring or worthless, then I suggest pressing the "previous" arrow on your internet browser and finding your way to a more interesting site.