Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our trip to Syracuse

We had been planning our trip to my high school reunion for quite some time now. From the day I told Kate that we were actually going to stay in a hotel with a heated indoor pool, she had been counting down the days. Also, as this was our longest road trip to date with the kids, we tried to prepare them for the long car ride. We know them well as when we head to camp to see Paula's parents (a thirty minute ride), they are asking if we are there yet in the first five minutes.

The morning finally came and the van was packed up with food, snacks and drinks within easy reach. Thomas had his blanket and Kate had her Dolly, we were ready to roll. Earlier this year, the nearest bridge over to New York from Vermont had been intentionally collapsed, due to old age, so we took the new temporary ferry over. The kids (us too) were excited (nope, it doesn't take much) to take the the boat across Lake Champlain. We timed it right and as we drove up, the ferry was ready. The ferry started and we were off. Paula said quite innocently, "Is that where we are headed?" pointing to a spot about three hundred yards away. I said, yes, that's where we're going and almost before I finished the sentence, we were in New York. If we didn't have the car, I'm thinking we all could have swam across but it was fun while it lasted.

Once across, we had promised that they could watch a movie. We had borrow my friend Todd's portable DVD player for the trip, but he told me it was a bit finicky. He was right, of course, as it worked well for about an hour, then quit. I proceeded to grab my laptop and placed it (with a bungee cord) atop an upside down milk crate I had grabbed from the garage before we left. They were thrilled, as well they should. They not only got to watch four hours of movies on the way over, but four more hours on the way back, AND it just happened to be Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family network (which we don't get at home). Thomas and Paula were beyond thrilled as they absolutely love Harry. Thomas even watched cartoons thru the window into the exercise room from the indoor swimming pool. Where he gets this behavior, I'm not sure. Okay, he's just like me, satisfied?

We had a great weekend, between my high school reunion, which I'll save for another discussion as I'm still a bit shell-shocked over it being the thirty-fifth year since we graduated.

We got to visit with my nephew, Jamie, and his wife, Jodi, and their kids. Their boys are three and one so as Paula and I watched them, we remembered what is was like for us about five years earlier. I told Jamie that it would getting easier soon. He had that same tired, sand-in-your-eyes look that I had for years. Our kids now fix their meals from time to time and basically dress themselves just like real human beings. My sister, Lois (called Aunt Lodee by Thomas and Kate) also joined in all the fun.

Trying to see as many people as possible is exhausting, but we did our best. Promising ourselves to enjoy the hotel with full breakfast, indoor heated pool, and flat-screen TV with full cable, we did. Even the drive through the Adirondacks was enjoyable as we stopped near a lake in Speculator on the way back, and walked around a short nature trail.

It's good to get away and good to get back. Kate couldn't wait to get to the hotel and it's indoor heated pool but as I tucked her into bed that night, Kate said to me how glad she was to be home. The sign of a good vacation is to fully enjoy getting away and even more so, being happy to be back home in your own bed again.

Anything but that!

The kids were getting ready for bed the other night and it was my turn to read to Thomas. We have a huge basket of library books in the futon room, so I asked him to go down and grab a book for us to read. Side note: the futon room, strangely enough, does not have a futon room anymore but we kept the name.

At any rate, we were all set for bed, settling in and turning on all the lights. Thomas pulled out the book, I looked at it and shouted, "NO!!!!!"

He had picked a Scooby Doo book. I understand that there are some good redeeming social values from this series of books, as good always triumphs over evil. But, the Scooby Doo books drive me crazy. I know that it is a short drive, just ask Paula, she'll tell you.

So, I asked Thomas if we could, please, please read another book. He said he really wanted to read that book.

I came back with the following:

Okay, Thomas, here's the story. The gang all goes away to a strange, deserted place, which used to be good but is now being terrorized by some ghostly/evil person/thing. Once the gang arrives, the manager/leader/head person explains the situation to the gang, requesting their help. In the background, if one looks closely, is one of his disgruntled helpers, usually the guy who cleans the toilets but feels he deserves to own the company/fairgrounds/chocolate factory. That's the guy who will taunt Shaggy & Scooby Doo very soon. There is no need to read the rest of the book! After hearing the problem, the gang heads one way (the safe way) while Shaggy and Scooby go the other way (the dangerous/scary way) in search of the ghost/evil being. Because they love and cannot resist Scooby Snacks, while eating them, they are oblivious to the ghost/demon/monster who is now standing right behind them. They get scared to death, as the monster/demon/ghost chases them. Finally after several minutes of running around like crazy, they end up tripping over the ghost/evil/nerdy guy and manage to extract them from their costume. Then, the ghost/evil being, a tiny/weasel-like man, says, "I woulda got away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

So, we read the story and the story plays out exactly that way. We both end up laughing, which is really my goal, because it is a beyond-boring, poorly written book but geared toward eight year old boys, which Thomas is.

Now that I got that off my chest, maybe the next time he brings me another Scooby Doo book, I'll try not to say "Rut-Ruh!"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Running with Thomas

With the ladies gone to the grocery store Saturday morning, Thomas and I headed on down the bike path for a quick four mile run. Thomas was aboard his trusty bike and I was trudging along like the typical old man that I am.

I told him he was free to ride on ahead of me but to stay where I could see him as we fuddy duddy fathers tend to get nervous when we can't see our kids. But on this particular run, he rode very close to me. We ended up talking quite a bit and it was pretty cool. You can have some great one on one conversations with your kid when you're out of the house. It's alone time with Dad and they tend to chat more.

We past by one of the lookout points which provides an amazing view of the Adirondacks across the lake. We had stopped here five years earlier, while on another run. I had taken him the jog stroller, just like I use to each Saturday when we lived in Charlotte. The view was so beautiful, so we stopped and I took some pictures. We still have that picture in his room and Thomas commented on saying, "Remember the time we stopped here and took pictures?" I said that I sure did, it was a great day. Sharing memories with your kids is one of my favorite things. I remember them, of course, but when they do and tell the story over and over again, it makes you feel even better knowing that those memories are good for them too.

Of course, whenever we mention the jog stroller, Thomas always repeats another story which I don't like to remember. But I let him go over again in detail, each time he brings it up.

When we lived in Charlotte, each Saturday, I would run anywhere from eight to twenty miles with my running buddies. After Thomas was old enough, I started to taking him with me, in the jog stroller. One weekend, after recovering from one of my assorted knee surgeries, I was only running six miles while the guys were running sixteen miles. So Thomas and I went a little later, by ourselves, and would meet the guys at the end for bagels and coffee, as usual.

But this morning would be different. Along our route, they were building a large addition to the hospital and the sidewalk was barricaded. Now this is the spot that Thomas loved to run his hand across the fence, as it was covered with a green camouflage tape. He just loved the feel of the rippled tape across his hand. Because of the barricade, however, there was only a small patch where he could do so. As we were running, I tried to guide us back over to this spot only to hit a huge bump in the side walk. Thomas was jostled in the jog stroller and started crying. I stopped running and picked him up. He was inconsolable. I felt awful as I had no idea what to do. I set him back into the stroller an we headed back to the Y, where we started all our runs. He was still crying a bit so I placed him back in the van and we headed home, not waiting for the guys.

Arriving home, I explained what happen to Paula. As he still seemed to be in pain, I got him back in the van and took him to the emergency clinic, to get him checked. His pain seemed to involve his hip, so I told them that. They x-rayed it and found nothing broken. We went home and I was frustrated. Any Dad (or Mom) just hates to see their kid in pain. Thomas had only just started walking a few months ago and now he would not walk on his leg. It did not get better all weekend so we took him back to his pediatrician that week. This time, they did the proper x-rays and discovered a small crack in his tibia. As he was young, the doctor told us not to worry and that he would heal fast, not needing a cast.

However, I would have to go back to carrying him everywhere. It was very hard for me to see, as he loved his new found freedom of walking everywhere. Even though it was an accident, I felt terrible. Those few weeks involved a trip to the pumpkin patch and an animal farm, and he couldn't walk around as he loved to do.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later, I walked in the door from work and Paula told me that Thomas had something to show me. He was sitting on the floor in the kitchen and he stood up. He took a couple small steps and kept saying, "Walk, walk, walk." It brought tears to my eyes and still does, each time I think of it.

So this weekend, as Thomas and I ran down the bike path, we shared the story once again, as much as I hate remembering it. I told Thomas how bad I felt that I broke his leg. He told me it was okay. His leg didn't hurt anymore.