A weekful of days, you know, like when you say you're having a day. But it lasts a week. None of it photogenic, especially because of the part where my camera died last week, anyway. My beloved camera, which caused much pain. That's a whole other story, and one with a happy ending. Other stuff first.
We drove up to Delaware on Sunday, taking all the stuff we'd stashed away for the road trip to the beach. Good thing, because what should have been a 4 hour trip became a nearly 7 hour trip. Traffic crawled. Horrible, horrible. The kids were troopers.
Dan and I joked about the superior Maryland roads but lack of mileage indicators for food and gas. Hey, in Virginia, the journey may be crap, but at least you know how long it will be. And we joked about the sign for a decoy museum, imagining people being fooled into entering it,thinking it's a real museum. We made notes to research what exactly the piles are near the harbor (pretty sure they're road salt, but what *is* road salt, and is that really what the piles are?) We were reminded by frequent billboards not to move firewood. I sniped at him about getting off the highway at freaking takes-forever-to-find-anything Columbia for gas, and then looked out my window at the "Choose Civility" bumper sticker on the car next to us. (Check the link. Oh, Howard County, you are so *precious*.)
We had family conversations like this:
Xander: "A wawa? A wawa?"
Jess: "You want water?"
Xander: "A money?"
Jess: "You want money?"
Griff: "Aww, he's just so grown up already!"
Xander begged for bridges constantly after crossing the Potomac for the first time. Dan and I realized that this was his first significant trip out of state (not counting DC). All the way to Wilmington we heard "more bridge!!" Every overpass was a cause for celebration, then "I want more bridge." He was happy until we hit 6 hours. We missed most of the wake, then stayed up way too late in the hotel pool, waiting for takeout. Pizza and Chinese by the pool, the exotic nature of a motel room (pronounced "niiiiice" by Griffin), cable TV, everybody sleeping in one room. The stuff happy childhood memories are made of. We made Belgian waffles for breakfast in the motel canteen the next morning, trundled off to Bear to the Veteran's cemetary for the (really brief) funeral.
Then came a wonderful thing. Well, first an awful thing: everybody was DONE. Melty-downy super-frowny DONE. We almost skipped the post-funeral family-reunion-ish restaurant meal. But we didn't skip it, and it turned out to be in a great sunny casual room in a waterfront restaurant in charming charming charming Chesapeake City. The streets there - few as they are and named things like "Bohemia" - are lined with Victorian homes that are part-residence, part-business: B&B rooms, antique shops, photo galleries, and such are tucked in here and there. It took forever to get our meal (which was delicious) but we were able to stroll along the canal with kids or visit with relatives. Better yet, we found a little waterside ice cream shop for an after-lunch treat with the kids before hitting the road. It was wonderful. It felt like a gift.
The whole meal at Bayard's was punctuated by what my brother Kyle called "the boat alarm": "boat!!! BOAT!!!!!! water! boat!!!!" Oh, and there was a bridge, a HUGE bridge, within view the whole time. Xander may want to consider relocating to Chesapeake City permanently.
Oh, it was lovely...and I missed my camera. Although I think maybe I needed that trip without the camera to show me how much I need the camera. I did take the old PowerShot A620 with me, and was dismally disappointed in the few pics I took. I may have whined a few times to my sibs. One brother didn't get it. My sister sortof got it. I said it was like missing a limb. Some friends at some point thought it would be a good, restful thing that I would go to the beach next week with no camera, or with only the point-and-shoot. I wanted to point-and-shoot THEM. People, not having a camera is not restful. Taking pictures IS restful to me. It's not about the documentation, it's about art. Gah!
Other fidgety moments: repeated questions from Reese:
"What is a coffin?"
"What is a cemetery?"
"Will the coffin ever open again?"
Reese has a way of asking things with no correct answer. He's not really asking what he seems to be asking. Determining what he really wants to know can drive you insane.
Everybody was SHOT long before we got home, meandering as we were on scenic 301 instead of taking the dreaded I-95. At some point I remembered the audio books on my iPod, and miracle of miracles, we didn't hear another peep for the rest of the way home. I'm downloading a ton before we go to the beach.
Tuesday and Wednesday were horrible. Trip fallout? Overtired kids? Just life with three hoodlums? Didn't help that first Griff, then Reese, had some odd probably-viral redness of one eye each. And our plans to catch the free movie on either of those days wouldn't have worked, anyway, because apparently some local summer camp programs send busloads of kids to them, preventing local families from being able to get in. I won't type what I think of them for making that choice. Or what I think of the theater for allowing it. Not cool, folks.
Let's see, the high point of Tuesday was when I discovered that Reese had found a container of children's Tylenol and had consumed the rest of the bottle. There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and general swearing-off of all allegiance to this child, who has sorely taxed me lately. Oh, and research that revealed that he would have to swallow more than an entire bottle in order to seriously harm himself. This information was preceded and followed-up with extremely stern lecture about liver failure, aimed at the four-year-old.
Griff started a beach countdown. 6 days.
On Wednesday morning, Reese asked, "am I going to die today?" He repeated this on following mornings. I'll admit, it's nice to know if death is in the day's plan. Still, gosh, poor guy. He goes to a funeral, feels apprehensive yet curious about coffins, and then is warned by his mother about liver toxicity. "Great-grandma died yesterday, will I die today?" Dan explained why Great-grandma died and why we don't expect Reese to die. Heavy.
Somewhere in here a friend called me to have an intervention on the photo issue. A totally awesome friend who totally gets how yucky my stomach felt over the months of dreaming of beach macro photography, LOST. My vacation lost! The glorious glowing photos of friends, lost! No opportunity to distill the sun and wind and togetherness into beautiful images.
On Thursday, Xander called Reese a name for the first time. According to Dan, he said "you dumb." Reese, who freely calls anybody and anything "dumb," looked stricken.
Griffin changed the beach countdown to 4 days.
Also on Thursday, Xander caused his first major flood. He turned on the bathroom sink and added a roll of toilet paper. I'm wondering whether he had an accomplice. At any rate, he soon overflowed the sink and the whole room was flooded - so much that it was flowing into the boys' bedroom. While I was hauling a whole basketful of soggy, pulpy towels to the basement, I discovered water flowing through the ceiling onto the basement floor. Oh. My. Goodness. It was a second floor bathroom, what did we do!?! How much damage?!? I raced upstairs and discovered that while I was cleaning one bathroom, Reese put a whole roll of TP into the first floor toilet and flooded it. While I was cleaning *that*, he raided the sugar in the pantry again. I think there was more. I've blocked it. I ranted to local friends about the horrible difficulty in managing three small people, and the impossible balance of providing just enough leadership to children without being an overbearing, scarring tyrant.
On Friday, my new camera arrived. Five minutes with it, and I knew all would be well. Angels sang. Children were nice to each other, mostly. I was nice to them. We bought Crocs and pizza and ice cream at a mall. I easily redirected Reese when little things seemed overwhelming to him. We had a lovely afternoon and evening together. Reese asked Griffin to read his bedtime story to him. Dan found a sitter for the film festival tomorrow. I noticed that Griff had changed the beach countdown to 2 days. Dan left the hospital and sent a text stating that his vacation starts NOW.
Tomorrow we pack and scurry. In the middle, Dan and I will see the premiere of the 48 Hour Film Project films. We're hoping that local friends pack the theater and that Adam wins an audience award. Then Sunday, we're off! Peaches & beaches, here we come!