Wolves Weary and Family Flees: Teeter Totter Out of August Anomie (and a fall into Fall Frenzy)

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Moon-howling Mad-Olympian CohabitationDespite her terror, our Auntie-DINK plunged forward through the mirror-maze of specialists to the final test of little lobby girls who wanted to play. Wolves bayed at aquatic slots, while children scampered and screeched. Our little matrilineal mob shuffled three young lads to the home of The Great Wolf. Many traffic toils were (barely) conquered! Jungles were razed. And waves were decidedly wild!  Our DINKs held rendezvous in enemy territory for a night of pure passionate exhaustion and passing out, before mountains were scaled and final traffic torments taken on. 

Coming up: Returns of returns of returns. With final smashing of breaks and retching of nephews, the grand Bellingham Stage of Falconer Vacation comes to an end. I-5 determines to foil the flight of our little companions. Will Gramma Pam and google maps speed them ever on their way to Antarctica/Mars? Or will they be doomed to roam the side streets of Everett for all eternity?? Auntie Adella officially declares naptime, and our DINK comes leaping out, then tumbling down? Will fitness manage to put the final quietus on our "healthy" hapless heroine? Will she ever find a comfortable sleeping arrangement between the ache in her side, the twitch in her husband, and the implacable fussiness of perfect bedroom climate control?? Looby lady pills and orange barracudas get new playmates and perfectly pitched pill-regimens are toppled all turvy. Will new pills bring new perfect schedules? Will stickers be golden or silver? And Englettlaw licks its maws after a months' starvation. Will Associate Adella and Mom-Boss rise to the occasion or be eaten in the neglected August emergency slush and ash? 

Prepare the bandages, ice your wounds, and pick up a box of donuts before joining us to find the answers below...

Return to Tiny Sphynx Cat Casa   Of Olympian Ichor, Climate Wars and a side of stabbing ouchie
I have ventured to the Wolf's lair and emerged only psychically scathed (more than can be said for my return to DINKdom, but we'll get to that later).  A buzzing breakfast buffet, one last splash around the water park, an emergency poop operation (successful), and one final splash in the bath and we were on our way. Into traffic! And boy was there plenty of it. Ian was stalwart in surviving a good two hours in the back of our car with no functioning kindle or dvd player. Thank god we stopped for lunch eventually so he could get the other kindle. Also, I have now sort of heard The Nut Job, even if I have no idea what the heck was goin' on beyond good old fashioned shenanigans and moral lessons about the rule of law for small rodents. 

And today, the whole brood is off to Chicago. They never actually go home. Falconer trips are truly epic. I believe after visiting Ryan's family and their old haunting grounds, they will then be off to either Mars or Antarctica. Whichever one has the better theme park. It took some wheeling dealing and engineering innovation to shove the luggage into the trunk, but somehow we managed. The boys started off in good enough moods, but were cavilling cavalierly by the time seatbelts on signs lit up. I'm sure that the drive and subsequent ride will be a delight for all involved!

And like that I'm a DINK again. Well maybe after I rinse the lemonade and Mike&Ike hair treatment out and dust the remaining cinnamon toast residue off my pants. But we're back into childless territory with a great wham and slam. 

Yesterday morning, Andrew and I again arose next to each other, but with the twist that we were in our familiar little bedroom. Breakfast was another buffet, but the placid climes of Old Country with my fairly sedate (if rapaciously ravenous) Papa T. This was kind of the penultimate birthday hurrah "meal out" with bonus socks to be displayed in future exhibits! Andrew talked about his ridiculous race around Capitol Forest and ate roughly five breakfasts to refuel. I drank roughly twenty cups of decaf, which brought about a sufficient buzz. And with hugs, we departed off to our abridged weekend routine. 

First off, a run! I also took a quick run on Thursday before heading out. This is promising. Two runs in one week and they're starting to feel pretty good. Mostly. Good news, the injury to my arch is slowly adapting. I don't feel any pain from my Thursday and Sunday lopes around Padden. More good news: the pain in my pectoral from pilates seems to have subsided (no heart attack required!).

 The inevitable stinger: Ok, I took a total spill on the trail, during I which scratched up my right side a decent amount and - wait for it - have once again pulled my the ornery intercostal that I originally pulled trying to breakdance and then subsequently re-pulled trying to mountain bike. So much for my theoretical grand return to pilates today! Physical fitness is maybe not really all that good for your health I sometimes think! At least when you're kind of clumsy and not an unbreakable pre-teen. 

After our run and a grocery kicker, Andrew went off on a post-bike-race-bike-ride and I had a final hurrah with the family before coming home and even managing to start a few of the usual weekend chores. 

Toddler triage abandoned it was time for a return to our own portentous problems: the absolutely perfectly pleasant climate control settings for our bedroom. Naturally, I am particular about my sleeping climate. I prefer slightly cold with warm slippers on my feet and a hefty blanket for snuggling. I'm willing to negotiate on this one for the summer months but only begrudgingly and only because I'm also plagued with a miserly eco-guilty bent. In winter, I may sleep with the electric slippers on and I'll definitely have the heated mattress pad. 

The old bike-and-chain, it turns out, actually has specific preferences as well.  I swear, I used to think Andrew was completely immune to nocturnal discomfort. His old cave in Seattle was a stagnating swamp in the summer and  a hibernal hell in the winter. He slept on a crotchety twin bed with missing slats and a mattress reminiscent of camp with only a top sheet and a threadbare comforter many years beyond comfort. And he slept! In the same pjs throughout the year. 

Eventually, I learned he gets hot sometimes. Like when he stayed at my drafty condo, he didn't seem to appreciate the extra fluff of my old down comforter and incalescent heating pads. By which I mean, I'd wake up next to a sweaty irritable-looking shirtless boyfriend entirely on top of the sheets and thrashing. Similar issues in my next two residences. 

Then we moved to our current place. The stuffiest bedroom conceivable to my sensibilities. At this juncture the open windows and assisting fans were way too breezy and he got cold. I can't deny this one, though. It was a bit of a airplane hanger, and apparently he actually didn't like the sensation of "sleeping outside on a cliff-bluff in Oregon" (whoops, forgot he didn't like camping). 

So we moved our bedroom around to take him off the bluff and bought an air conditioning unit. When we first got it, it sounded like the exact settings were up to me, and I should choose what was comfortable for me, because he was comfortable in warmer rooms than me. And his main priority was not being wind-swept into the abyss in the middle of the night. 

Turns out, he's found himself waking up in a torrid sweaty humid blecky mess in the middle of the night. He has subsequently appraised himself of air conditioning usage. Being me, I turned this all into a conversation about how we could discover our mutually optimal settings and collaborate so as not to be undermining each other in a silent battle of settings in the middle of the night. 

Not sure this really gels with Andrew's "if I'm uncomfortable in the middle of the night I'll either be a man and suffer stoically or be a man and take steps to fix it," but we try. The experiment yesterday was to turn the a/c down lower. He thought he'd turned it to 70. I had turned it to 69 after that. We also tried the fan on the middle setting, which he turned to low in the middle of the night. Not saying they're related, but I did wake up in the middle of the night feeling overheated and needed to throw the blanket off myself and disrobe by a few levels. 

As of this morning, he claims this was a good setting, but then again he spent the entire evening tossing and turning (to the plaintive chorus of tired uxorial sighs at each jarring toss), so I'm not sure it was a fair test. I'm also fairly convinced that when the temperatures hit a certain level in the evening, it is better to open the windows back up and switch to fan, but it's really hard to pinpoint exactly when this is.

Oh how hard it is to be a DINK! The things we put ourselves through!

While the kiddos speed to Seatac, and the hubby groggily finishes up testing with nary a Screwpocalypse in sight (knock on wood, but his work project seems to be finally coming together), I'm back at the office in a dreary daze. My life has been waiting for me, it appears, but I think I'll ask it to hold off for a few more hours anyways. The monkeys and I would like to gather some wool and stuff it into our heavily contemplated navels, if possible.

May all your Mondays be Merrily Madcap and full of Monkey-business!

Kickin' Back (Into Associate Hyperdrive) The Feverish Falconer Dallas Delerium, and Workdays Looming

The wolf may have left its prey undigested, but there are plenty of neglected work demons licking their lusty maws and waiting to pounce now that family is gone. Is family gone? Just barely! As apparently is now par for the course for any air travel and/or drive through Seattle, it was ACTION PACKED. Accidents to the left of them, vomit to the right... and a reschedule/late plane/minor apocalypse/etc, with a dalliance in Everett of all places.

Being at the office, I only got the slightly panic-soaked text messages requesting that I continue watching google maps to ascertain where the accidents were and what the time estimates were. Not entirely sure why but somehow maps wasn't quite cooperating on the in-car phone, so I got the zesty and delightful request to tell them how to get back on the freeway from Highway Something Or Other Of No Return. Anyways, I threw a bunch of speculation (having no clear sense of where they actually were) at the chat window and suggested there were later flights, since they were not prolly gonna make their planes all considered. 

Apparently they ignored my unhelpful suggestions and found their own way back to Seatac with minutes to spare... in somebody else's context of time. Alaska offloaded them to American. And off the family went to Dallas, where a connecting flight and some additional upchucking children awaited them. Last I heard, they all survived, and are now in Chicago visiting Ryan's side of the family.

According to Braden, this part of the trip is WAY better than the Bellingham portion. If only we were out to please exclusively him, I'd rejoice at this declaration, it basically being a pass not to even try (and oh lord do we try) to amuse or entertain him, since apparently the real path to a four year old's heart (other than being the land where his lifelong best friend lives) has to do with Daddy buying him donuts and grandparents making him freezer biscuits.

Donuts? That sounds a lot easier than the various excursions to children's play palaces, wave pools, arcades, and theme restaurants! Ah well. Nobody really tries to please the fickle but fabulous Bray-bray Jiggs (duh, he's the middle child anyways), so it's moot. And since I've seen some pretty happy moments from the kid during this trip, I can only take it as a testament to how freakin' awesome Daddy and those freezer biscuits really are. Life-changing, I bet. Which is funny because usually when Ryan brings the kids treats in the morning, they almost entirely ignore them.

 Did I mention kids are fickle? Fickle as a pickle if pickles were fickle. You should hear the bitter sweet epithets thrown at mommy, the worst most beautiful most awful terrible wonderful mother in the world. Is it just me or are our totally unhealthy codependent relationships from those netherlands of late teens just practice for being parents? 

Having ensured that our kin were well provided for, Gramma Pam sped back in a race against all clocks to reach her 2:00 mediation. She made it with only a five minute deficit, though we did have to forestall the rental car return until later in the evening.

 Needless to say, none of the other exigencies brewing were acknowledged, let alone addressed. I did manage to note them on the case status sheet and to set about the fairly daunting task of billing my mom's last week of "vacation" work. This involves trowling phone, email, and chat records over several days and checking against our billing records. Since she was consistently handling the crucial flow from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday, I had a fair bit to trudge through. And this does not count the 16 new messages in her inbox from yesterday! 

Or the meeting with one of our clients who may not technically be in emergency, but who operates in panic mode regardless. 

I, for my part, will have work assigned to me by the ton in a few hours, but currently all is pending. I have a free mediation/legal options consult coming up in an hour or so for which I'll need to round up paperwork. The real question, do I let on in advance that my clients have an uncanny knack for reconciling? Probably we'll just keep that my little secret for now. And between the pleasant meet and greet and the flurry of looming exigencies, I'll be back volunteering at the DRC. Except my new supervisor is on vacation for the next two weeks. My original supervisor's successor claimed he was going to think of things for me to do, but we'll see... I'm sorely tempted to write and say "hey no biggie if there's not much to do, as I'd love to just go home and take a nap while propped up gingerly in the only pillow configuration that doesn't hurt my intercostals!"

Oh yes, the joy of my little recurring intercostal annoyance is that it's pretty ok with being upright or sitting, but laying down hurts. Which makes sleeping... interesting. I may need to get more pillows tonight as my half solution last night left my neck a little sore. 

It's gonna be a wild ride today, but don't hassle me: I'm on vacation from vacation (from vacation from vacation). 

Hungry Hyper Happy Hippo-Thyroids Evolution of the Pill case

Now that the children are on their merry way and Aunt Adella has mostly receded into the booster seat inexplicably still lurking in her kia rio, the quest to max out that insurance deductible continues! Now that I'm with specialist^specialist, I've got all kinds of new excitement coming up. First off: new pills. How did the Girl Scout ditty go? Take new pills, and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold? Something like that.

 New pills will beget new blood work to check on new pills, which may or may not spawn even newer and better pills. I've also got some other tests and blood work waiting to be done once old pills  are finished with their last hurrah. 

I had my old pills all figured out, but now... oh now there are more! And they come with their own drug/food interactions and specific instructions that turn my little twice a day pill regimen into a full on LSAT logic puzzle. Take the synthroid at least 4 hours but no less than twenty before and/or after the iron, but take the iron on a full stomach and in combination with the prenatal compound with the vitamin C that can be taken with the calcium but never with fermented yak's milk unless you are also taking the estradiol, which you should definitely take at a different time than the crushed beetle antlers which should only be consumed while slathered in holy pumpkin and during a full moon... something like that. 

No, really I just added a small dose of synthroid, which I'm promised shuffles me down the road of ART excitement yet to come. I'm just barely "normal" but "normal" isn't good enough for somebody as fabulous as me, right? Anyways, it's supposed to be taken on an empty stomach, which is challenging because my dietary habits are sort of centered around constantly eating food from waking to sleeping. It also should be taken at least a few hours apart from any other vitamins or medications and at least four from calcium or iron, both of which I was previously taking in the morning. With a huge glass of milk and a fair bit of coffee and/or fiber, which may or may not be relevant in terms of dosages and absorption. 

Anyways, I'm enjoying the puzzle aspect of it. I realized if I take it immediately upon rising, then I usually don't actually have breakfast for about forty-five minutes anyways. Of course if I start making lunches in the morning, I do munch on those, so it's easier to make lunch the night before (for several reasons, really, but to avoid the munching also). Then I can put off my previously titled "morning pills" until noon, and keep my evening pills the same. 
 I skip my coffee, which is just fine because so far the psychosomatic and/or other type of side effect of this new regimen involved feeling pretty wired in the morning. Have a much smaller amount a few hours later in the morning. I hear that we're actually better served by coffee putting off the first cup until a few hours after we get up anyways, so my coffee flavored milk can wait. 

But clearly, I need (1) a new pill case, (2) a compliance chart that I can fill in with stickers and/or gold stars. The pill case, because I've found that having a record of days helps override the usual "did I or didn't I do that automatic pill popping earlier and if I'm not sure should I risk over or under dosing myself today?" quandary.

The chart because I like charts and I like stickers. I used to have little achievement charts when I was taking piano. Lots of pretty sparkly stickers involved in those...

Anyways, after a bit of a dither yesterday, we are nearly caught up at the office and ready for things to start heating up and slipping away again over the impending Labor Day holiday. I'm thoroughly unaware of the fact that our trip is in less than three weeks. We did look at a guide book and like our itineraries. I speak um... English and we have a phrase book. I'm sure it'll all be fine. And that exploding Iceland thing is apparently not a problem according to several very assured scientists and desperate aviation industry representatives who think this is all totally different than 2010. 

Plus I got a dehydrator for my birthday! As is my wont when I travel, probably 75% of my luggage will be devoted to foodstuffs. I suspect the durability and versatility of dried foods might actually enhance that portion of my luggage. Of course, I'll have to actually remove it from its packaging and utilize it to enjoy the benefits. Packing the dehydrator would probably not be an ideal solution. 

And it's Wednesday!!! This is a pleasant surprise since yesterday had the panicked pallor of Monday for us. 

Happy humpday all! May all your meds be consumed in responsible doses and your stickers gleam and glisten!

The De-Labored Pre-Labor Day Work Day

I guess we're not the only ones lodged between summer vacation frenzies and Labor Day last hurrahs: This day just doesn't wanna happen. Like I'm back in law school and TGIT (yes, we actually did break with business-school tradition and have classes on Fridays, but the traditional law school drinking started around mid-Thursday with a TGIT party in one of the classrooms), this sardine packed Thursday keeps reducing itself to a glaringly vacant calendar. 

First they came for my mom's appointments: a client dropped a Protection Order hearing so no need to prepare, another client moved to next week, another call couldn't be handled until after speaking with the client. 

And I said nothing because I still had a morning consult.

 Then they came for her hearings: a presentation hearing had to be cancelled because - yet again - the wrong commissioner was assigned to this day. We did actually try to check this with the clerk before setting the hearing, but oh well.

 And again I said nothing other than "grumble grumble" because I had my morning consult and a volunteer shift at the DRC in the afternoon. 

And then, oh beautiful then, I came into work this morning to find a message from my putative morning consult. She believed she had an appointment with a - um - Adella Wright?? Anyways, she doesn't anymore. FREEDOM! It's like having your classes cancelled due to a prof no-show. 

After a double-surge of frenetic productivity, the unexpected lull is a blessed relief that I may or may not have the energy to exploit for productive purposes. You know those days right after exams, where you are so mentally done that despite all those fantasies about "what I get to do when I'm no longer studying/writing/scrambling," you find yourself sitting still on a sofa for straight hours staring inscrutably into space as time laps over you like a gently incoming tide? That may be my morning. Or, I may go out and get some blood drawn! One can never predict!

Yesterday, despite all my reconciliation juju, I managed to get a client divorced. It only took them a decade or two (most of which, due to complications with prior attorneys, they were unaware that they were still married)! And, I may have hooked a couple into Collaborative Law. I've sent out the forms and I believe it when I see it, but it would be really exciting to work with them. 

In far more important news, I discovered the secret of the ZERO and/or "AGENT" command. After Andrew's laboriously involved quest for the perfect phone and phone plan, I came to understand that (1) I just wasn't ready to switch to AT&T even if I could theoretically save money doing so (after having to buy a new phone anyways);  (2) Given my data usage, I could save a decent amount of money (like half my bill) switching to a newer plan from Verizon; (3) Given my mom's non-existent data usage, she really really needed to switch as well.  

Of course, the Verizon automated phone tree was absurd, and the internet didn't want to let me make that switch. But then Andrew revealed the magical back-door cheat code. If you just push zero a whole lot or ask for agent, you eventually get piped to a living person. And, in my case, that person was extremely helpful.

While Andrew's subsequent dalliance (with my phone on the unlimited talk and text single line plan I had switched to just in time for such telephonic tangos with the hold line) AT&T was fruitful, and his phone is now set up and his number transferred, I did note that he was on hold to some really awful music several times and was cut off and had to call again several more. So I may still be happy with Verizon for now, now that I know the secret of the zero. 

Having accomplished these things already within the week and having given today a good sporting go at preparation only to have it flake out on me, I'm quite ready to celebrate Thursday old school. TGIT, I say! Bring on the leis and the grass skirts, because I declare it time to limbo. 

Fear and Loping in Los Lobos Grandes: Dotty DINK Doused in Kid-Vegas Wild Waves

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Chuck-E-Cheezitation (And other Unspeakable Blisses of Being the Grown Up in Name and Chronological Age): Rodents nibbled at castles of sand and broken dreams in a Kid-Vegas foretaste of shattered shenanigans and strewn tokens. Tables are stormed and fathers fled, leaving the second stringers to face Tiny-Tot Anarchism and prandial carnage. Treadmills licked their malicious maws, but Gramma Pam held firm with mustard and duct tape at the ready. And a tango or two breezed through.

Coming up: DINK Delia slashes through the liana of paperwork and endless referrals, nephews in tow and pill case at the top of her luggage. Before the wizards of specialist-specialism will help her on her quest tests must be passed. Little imps frolic in her waiting rooms and offer tokens of friendship, for a price. Will Auntie Adella rise to the unattended child challenge and break the cell-dog's code to finally finish Our Little Work of A.R.T.? Playdates materialize and friendships nourished. Will super-sox help Auntie A on her way through napless days and birthday aftershocks? Her final trial takes our band of merrily mad misfits through the cities, through the rainforests and deep, deep into the woods, to the belly of the great animatronic beast. Will mommy, Gramma Pam, and Aunt Adella be any match for three boys gone mad in Kid Vegas? Will water falls sweep away final dregs of dreams for happy parenthood? Will cars run brownish pink with bile by the end of the drive through several cities' worst traffic offerings? Will the buffet charge extra for drinks?  

Load up your magic wand quests, shimmy into a swimsuit, break out your paw pass, and definitely start the paperwork for that second mortgage and join the plucky few... if you dare face the wolf in its flashing red eyes. 

Super SOXY LADY Naptime be Kryptonite, but Maniacal Medical Matryoshkas Won't Phase her an Ounce

As promised, my CEC-Carousings were followed up with a blast of new and exciting medical maunderings. A friend of mine says that she's envisioning my medical quest for regular white-pants-on-beaches-lady-cycles in the Candy Crush Format. Each level correlating with a new degree of specialist and a new intensity of treatment. Having received my specialist^specialist referral and undertaken my consult, I believe we're at her marker of Licorice Lane and I've got whole new foes to fight with my plucky crudely drawn fists. 

 After a  July follow up and a well-check, I got my very own referral to Seattle Reproductive Medicine (DUN DINK DUUUUUN), which has a regional office in Bellingham. The reproductive endocrinologist comes up once a month and has associated services available in town. Yesterday I had my appointment and brought my sis along, since she's both a nurse and somebody who's done IVF (she and her husband are both carriers for CF, so they didn't want to chance it) and thus way more familiar with everything being discussed. Gramma Pam channeled her inner Saint and watched the kids at a McDonald's playground during this little jaunt. 

Upon arriving at the clinic - twenty minutes early as prescribed and laden with paperwork detailing every twinge and twitch of potentially relevant physical experience - I was handed a clipboard and a small extra form. Immediately upon this transfer, I was abandoned in the entry room with two small children who very much wanted to be my friend. Fortunately, my teeny piece of paperwork took all of two minutes to complete, so I was able to cautiously comply with the demands for conviviality.

They were pretty ridiculously adorable, though unattended children always bring a slight twinge of discomfort and uncertainty. The little one, Althea, was three, and her sister, Miley, was five. They were those sort of obscenely precocious extroverted little sprats who strain belief and just beg for videos about Stranger Danger. Miley more or less crawled into my lap with a toy cell phone and a magazine within five seconds of sighting me. Althea took a few more precautions - mostly asking "are you my friend?" - being tossing a stuffed bear at me and engaging in a long series of cell phone conversations with me, with the puppy dog/cat/mouse in the phone and with her sister.

 I know we're not "supposed to" compliment little girls' appearances for fear of making them prioritize their looks over their finer deeper qualities, but I'm sorry: if anyone spent several hours painting her toenails chromatic colors to match the glittery necklace and finger nail art, that's an act of expression. I value expression. I'd praise it if a little boy did the same. Or if a child of any gender had a cool shirt with a pterodactyl on it, or light up shoes, or... anyways, they were, in fact, cute. And I was taken with their chic fashion-sense and bold expressions of personality. That is my post-post-Feminist disclaimer. I shall recommence with the only slightly attenuated aside from the original tale. 

  By the time my sister arrived (I'd told her there was no reason to be there the whole "check-in time"), Althea was stuffing a play radio in my face, while I was reading "Our Little Work of A.R.T" to Miley (not the most medically accurate of children's artificial reproductive technology books, but charming nonetheless).

Once Rachel answered the "friend?" question correctly, Miley hopped to her side with a new book and Althea continued to leap behind the couch and play fetch with me. Her version of fetch involved biting the teddy bear and carrying it around in her mouth, then throwing it at me before grabbing it back from me.

Still no parents and no staff present after about thirty minutes, I began to wonder if these were SRM-employed children. Were they perhaps testing me before engaging me on a path to parturiency? Was this my final chance to run or prove my super-auntie-could-be-mommy stripes? Was it cheating that super-mom Rachel was in attendance? 

 Eventually the parents actually did materialize and seemed unphased at the fact that both their daughters had adopted new parents in the interim. After a little more time, they all left together and I actually met my doctor. She was young and smart and blessedly takes my situation more seriously than the ongoing "weight, then wait!" approach that I've been tapping my tootsies through this last year and a half. I appreciate the gentle phwap of a medical B-B-Gun, but am ready to break out a few nukes after being a patient patient for this long. If just to feel like I'm doing something during the weight/wait.

​Of course, the doc hadn't received any of my medical records despite my having called to make absolutely certain they'd been sent (somewhere... guess I didn't specify exactly where... lord knows where they ended up), so we re-did the initial interview of "what's going on here"  I am fortunately superbly well equipped to stumble through this morass of numbers and details after a few years and many mangled intake sheet attempts later. Still needed some coaxing, but she got the whole story with whatever medical numbers I could proffer. I remember my dosages, the measured thickness of certain internal wall-papering and related features of the supposed baby-oven , and some of my bloodwork specifics even if I don't always know what they mean. Also some harrowingly detailed specifics of my prior cycles. I'm sure it was an edifying and bonding sororal moment

 As one would expect, my little tale of nada seemed fairly familiar to the doc, or at least she held any "that's weird" faces back with noble ability (other than a concertedly raised eyebrow at my reported lowest weight). She clarified that my first priority was figuring out what was up with my body but that if they could, I would definitely be ready to discuss the next step. 

 As always, I got a nifty anatomical drawing with several awesome additions, including little ova, follicles, hormones, pills, and needles. I've been showing it to all my friends and family. It now hangs on the fridge next to some photos of my nephews. 

There are more tests to be done to rule out more things. And then, peradventure, it's time to start carpet bombing the hormones. Sadly cycling may be a double step. Aunt Flo doth not active ovulation make. And so several tests and hormone deployments in the future, there will be a second conversation about pills or needles or other excitement related. 

Phew. Exhausting, but hey, at least I know what I'm looking at in terms of "It's gonna be a while, but we're actually going to do something during that while" And Rachel swears the HSG test coming up next just mostly feels like bad cramps, and the shots don't really hurt that much at all! Given that she's a pediatric nurse by nature and educational nurture, I'm not sure I trust promises of "this might sting a little" entirely. 

I'm told I'll be contacted by a nurse soon and handed my next instructions. I believe these instructions will self-destruct at the end of that message. Hopefully my memory remains razor sharp. There shall be poking and prodding yet. But so far, most of the P&P remains with my test-kids, Althea and Miley, and the mad-nephew posse. 

As our little consult wrapped up, Rachel and I rescued Gramma Pam from the peril in which we'd placed her. Out of one sear pot to the deep fryer, she sped off to a mediation and the rest of the caravan returned to the house/Falconer main base where we received honored guests. The children refrained from injuring them only through sheer exhaustion of Gramma Pam's Playground Boot camp (no doubt). Rachel's oldest and best friend, Jon came over, and I jumped on the "wow, unscheduled free time!" bandwagon and invited my favorite ladies, Molly and Emma to join the melee. I figure I rarely have the golden lure of play-date to offer my parented friends, so even if Sam was thoroughly gone past horns of ivory by the time Emma arrived, at least she got to play with his toys. 

And I got to see Molly AND milk some more birthday merriment from it. Dude, my socks. They was a gift from Molly and Emma. And, yes, they allow me to fly. The kiddo-imbroglio carried on well into the evening as various visitors peeled off for their evening plans. Grampa David yet again pulled a vanishing act and did not come home. I'm thinking we may need to call the police soon. Suggest looking on his sail boat first... 

And Uncle Andrew miss his lunch ride, so he went out after work. Which (pun impending) worked quite well. He finished his ride just as I returned home from the monkey house. There were leftovers so no cooking related confoundment or stalls to sleepy-time occurred. 

Today, we pause. We reflect. We take stock of our prescriptions and then sally forth through Old Country land, hearings, date night birthday celebrations and... packing!!! FOR GREAT WOLF LODGE!!! Lions, nor tigers, nor bears... NO my. But aqua wolves and the theme park hotel that promises to be magically delicious (for a goodly price). 

Baying of the Fire Baby - And Going Gray With the Great Wolf Nephewstock 2014 Comes to a Howling Head

I rolled out of bed a bit more befuddled than usual this morning. Apparently, I'd forgotten to set the alarm, which doesn't really impact me in terms of actual rising time given my internal clock was apparently hand-made by German watch-makers. It does, however, mean that when I commenced to rolling, the usual embers of the "(simulated) natural light" that slowly increases over a half hour were ne'er to be stoked. Darkness! It's quite natural for the outside to be dark at 5 outside of our blaring summer months, but since it is still summer, the change is a bit flummoxing in its rapidity. Nonetheless, the lack of light did not register in time for Andrew to benefit from a tardy setting. He instead had the joy of a 5:20 a.m. contrast shift from ebon to glaring lamplight and a coffee foist into his general direction. Not sure if it made much difference in his rising process actually. 

Things are a little off this morning, as I am not going in to work (well, "work" work... if all moms are working moms, then occasionally aunties are at least temps). Lazy slacker?? Oh no, I assure you that my morning has been a mad preparatory dash for... wait for it... wait for it... Great Wolf Lodge!!!! The time is nigh!!! 

So, I did the Cheese, but that was a mere prelude to our bacchanalia final event. GWL is kind of like a water park Disney World. Or perhaps the true Kiddie Vegas to CEC's Atlantic City. Buffets! Spas! Improbable shopping "opportunities".  Theme rooms. Complementary package items that cost a preemptory paw and a tail but which must be engaged upon on threat of toddler tantrum! I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I know to be nervous and excited all at once. 

Gramma Pam decided to use a bit of her mother's inheritance money to take us on this Fear and Loathing in Las Lobos Grandes excursion. Kind of a tribute, since Grandma Gailey would have really enjoyed seeing her money go to such purpose. We are heading down today (all children in tow and flanked by mommy, Gramma Pam, and Auntie Adella) and staying until Saturday. On the way, there may be supplementary Seattle area stops. Science Museum or Space Needle have been bruited about as candidates (what, not the Chihuly Glass Museum?? But the toddlers would LOVE the glass sculptures!). Also, an emu farm in Arlington. 

Uncle Andrew will be playing through on Friday night, since the GWL location is conveniently nearer to the Olympic Capitol Forest, where his absurdly long bicycle race is taking place.

Preparations have been fevered and fruitless. I managed to get the garbage, recycling, and compost out on the curb. Andrew has dinner in a rice cooker brewing, and a back up lunch premade for tomorrow. I've packed several gifts recently torn into and a few pairs of underwear. Eventually I might be more organized about all this. And yesterday evening, it actually came to Andrew's attention that I'd be leaving this morning. I'm not sure where the lapse originated, but apparently he hadn't realized such things... Ah well. 

He still was stalwartly present for date night/Adella's BDay Take Three: home edition. This consisted mostly of eating AT HOME, which is a blessed relief after being out most evenings. It was a stunning moment last night to realize that I'd actually let some of my food go bad. This rarely happens, since I am such a veggie muncher. I had to compost some bits of produce and tofu ort. Leftovers were fortunately frozen months ago. I also tore into my remaining gift booty and had a nice couch canoodle with champagne and netflix. Optimal evening. 

Earlier in the day, Auntie Adella Warmed up for GWL with the ubiquitous Old Country Buffet excursion. Mom-boss and Associate Thompson go there weekly, but the experience sans sprats is astronomically different. For one, we need a much bigger table to accommodate the ongoing game of musical chairs that ensues. (incidentally, as you might have sussed, the "Old Country" referred to is kind of more like the "New World comfort food at some kind of BBQ of Americana Lore" than the name implies... kind of misleading really),

Braden was content with a corn dog, an atomic blue Icee, and his mommy's hoodie. Despite the cornucopia of kid-tempting desserts, he begged his mommy for a quarter to buy some gum, the one thing that actually cost extra, of course. Ian actually ate quite heartily. He piled on a few plates of normal food - although I have it on good report that the mac and cheeze is disappointing - made himself a superlative salad that he was too full to eat, concocted a Blue Raspberry and Coca-Cola Icee, and maybe washed that down with something else. He then demonstrated his magical super-turtle powers, by retreating entirely into his t-shirt.

 Sam - who had been coaxed out to lunch only by being allowed to carry a pillow from the sofa lest he desire a nap - was not hugely enamored with much of his meal, although he was quite particular about sharing it with me. After stealing several of Ian's brussel sprouts to shove in my mouth, he did consent to mimic my approach of peeling each leaf off one-at-a-time... for a few leaves. Then he wanted to shove the remaining semi-masticated crucifer back in my mouth. But to be fair, he did allow me to hand feed him some of his corn before switching from chocolate milk to a sour berry Icee. Not liking that - I guess licking lemons is one thing, but sour blue ice is another - he switch to an ice-cream cone. Which he also attempt to feed to me before brandishing it as a weapon. It eventually bled out into the disfavored mac and cheese. The Icee fell back into favor once it had reached a premium temperature for maximum shirt-staining drip.  

We'll not talk about the mad shenanigans of Auntie Adella and her salad slurping ways. Not here. Not now. Suffice to say work conveniently beckoned just as Sam started "driving" chairs up and down the restaurant and shrieking at the other customers. I hear the kids stayed at the mall for another couple of hours. 

And back to morning. I'm already feeling that combined sense of restlessness and anticipation that comes with deviating from my normal perambulation and type-typing. Oh and anticipation. We were originally shooting for 8 a.m. departure, but since I don't believe the other travelers are evening awake yet, I'm guessing perhaps not. In fact, now that it is 8:47 and I've subsequently been on a run, taken a shower, and have been idling for some time with no word from my travelling companions I'm gonna say definitely not. 

Alls I know is my brain wants coffee. Apparently more directly loaded than the typical brew method, if my initial approach of merely pouring the coffee grounds into the pot are sufficient indices. And I think they've got to be, really. 

Ask Not For Whom the Wolf Tolls Wolves Don't Toll, so that's just weird

I write under cover of a giant faux antler chandelier. My time with this world and on this little epistle may be cut short at any moment. I live on borrowed seconds as each bling and clang resounds with inevitable and undeniable portent: we are in the belly of the beast! A fine kid-stimulating, parent draining mad land of broken dream-wands and pricey promises. A watery wasteland of bonding moments saline-dashed tantrums, Magic Forest Quests and Moonlit mini golf. A place awash in urine soaked splash ponds and forebodding water towers. We have arrived at the fulcrum of our quest. The Great Wolf Lodge!

As I hide under paltry cover, the trees start to shimmy and shake with leering eyebrows aflutter. Squeaking owls and gophers samba. Time is short. Nature's rhythm looms in all her horrors. To my loved ones: you were jewels in the celestial diadem of destiny's sweetest finery. The moose shall find me soon! The owls cant "there's nothing to be scared of here..." but this only stokes my conviction that my end is nigh!

Our journey to this fearful faux forest was waged through the traffic hordes of three separate cities. Seattle fell before us after a fiercesome screech of wheels and bleeding of brakes. Battered and discombobulated, we revitalized with a stop-over in the land of South Center Westfield, home of the gigantic mall and several theme restaurants totally within motif of our current weekend's "joy" ride.

For optimal concinnity, we sludged the nephews across the retail expanses to Rain Forest Cafe. A faux forest with loud animatronic animals and price-premium grown up goodies to complement fairly reasonable children's fare... all the same really. Rainforest Cafe was a hit. A loud, flashing hit. 

Roughly thirty minutes of our experience had to do with (1) mommy attempting to corral the children for photos, (2) the children doing everything in their power to stymie her attempts with last minute blinks, distractions, and simply charging her.

 I believe her most successful photo was a selfie with Sam hanging from her neck. The camera turned on Aunt Adella and Gramma Pam in a moment of desperation with the fiat that we "do something interesting". If by "interesting" one means freezing up and looking uncomfortable, I think we managed. But the follow up "puppy dog eyes" seemed more enticing for the nephews. 

The Rainforest Cafe, as implied, is Rainforest themed. The entrance to the restaurant is a gift shop, lined with innovative aquarium trellises. The restaurant is strewn with plastic liana, and various other fake flora and fauna straddling an unarticulable uncanny valey. The lights change throughout the hour to simulate ... rain storms of course. With bonus lightening. There's a minor clearing in the central area that simulates a starry sky with occasionally shifts to dawn or twilight. Or sometimes, as Braden put it, it's like raining blood! Usually that's around the time that the check comes. 

There was a balloon maker who played tables for tips. Our boys stocked up on bows, arrows, swords, nukes, whatever they could take to make their subsequent rampage through the mall oh so adorably lethal. Only one or two inflatable missiles escaped on the freeway to create their own havoc. Daring rescue attempts stemmed the other perils.

Back on the road again, we struggled through Tacoma with a brief imbroglio in post-Tacoma gas stations. Nothing is signed. We had two cars. One care was teetering perilously on empty. Texting (while driving, gasp!!) was involved. Nobody crashed or spluttered out. But it wasn't always certain this outcome was in the making. 

One of the children, though not the one we expected, got terrifically ill and vomitted in a large plastic ziplock. This is notable because we forgo to take it out of the car upon our arrival to The Lodge, and had to make a separate (several mile) trek to retrieve the ziplock of fluids lest it otherwise be left unmolested for two days for premium fermentation. 

Roughly five to six hours after we began our theoretically three hour drive, we descended upon this land of last stand. We are in a KidKamp(tm) theme room that involves two bunk beds behind some tent-themed plastic drapery, a queen bed, and a hideaway sofa bed. As our numbers exceed the available bedding, Sammy is sleeping with mommy in the hide-a-bed and Gramma Pam and Auntie Adella are staying very still in the Queen bed. Going to be very "interesting" when Uncle Andrew attempts to play/sleep through this evening on his way to mountain biking glory. 

As the ubiquitous feature of GWL is the giant water-park, we were back in suits and in the middle of the shrieking aquatic throng within sheer hours of arrival (and necessary screaming/wheedling/dealing/etc. to transfer children and grown ups from day clothes to water clothes).

Let the games begin! You try keeping track of three spritely sprats in an 84 degree, 90 decibel aquatic vegas across several pools/water features and more screaming children (plus distracted parental attendants) than in many imperiled small island nations of comic book lore. Three adults on three children managed to keep a decent surveillance of two of them anyways.

Of course nobody had cell phones, so reconnoitering was increasingly challenging. Thank goodness the adults dressed in distinctive suits. After great feats of wrangling, shower schlepping, and - this is Rachel after all - a light application of evening makeup and thorough blow drying, we did eventually make it to the dinner buffet. Roughly around 7 and amid several protests that it was either actually time to retrieve some magic wand in the magic shoppe OR go directly to bed and NOT dinner time. The offerings were about on par with a small to medium hospital cafeteria or off-hours dorm eatery. The salad was fresh, but paltry. Conspicuously absent from traditional salad fare were raisins, nuts, seeds, parmesan, beets, sliced olives, olive oil... I could go on. But there were admittedly enough leafy green things and baby carrots to sustain a harried and hurried double plate of rabbit food (the boys really wanted to get those wands... and maybe a costume... and maybe to use the wands in some kind of Forest Challenge).

 After blanching at the "$20+ per adult, $8 for kids, and drinks are extra" price tag, I was informed with a great check-serving sigh of relief, that actually this was "far less than expected". I had no idea how much I loved Old Country Buffet, but once again it proves itself to be a supremely reasonable approach to excess. 

I retreated to the room to mull over spotty internet and await the inevitable onrush of family again. The anomie exploded just around bedtime with Sam shrieking "me tired" in delirious delight that belied his likely sleepiness. He repeatedly demanded everyone go to their beds and stay there until morning. He then shrieked "good morning!" several times and came back out of bed. Between other demands that mommy come to bed, he then demanded hugs and/or kisses from various members of the roomstead. In the meantime, the elder boys "camped out" in their "tents" by watching tv and stage-whispering to each other, which stoked Sam up to repeat how tired he was and how it was bedtime in gleeful shrieks. 

Nyquil was involved. Only for the grownups. I swear. 

And this morning, I've somehow survived the terrifying forest creatures little song and dance. Having hit up Starbucks and eaten a Kind bar, I'm deferring on my $500 breakfast buffet on the grounds that I've eaten and I usually eat about $2 retail worth of food at any given breakfast site. If drinks, which I do guzzle, are not included... then somehow it just seems wrong. I may skulk back to the room and/or the workout room for another moment of solace, although I now see the entire family passing away from the restaurant and back in the direction of the room... possibly looking dejected. 

We've got an intense day of running and shrieking from shiny thing to shiny thing. I'll be retrieving my ear plugs and brewing some additional coffee. Happy Friday all!!

Lodged in Lobos Paradise The Teenage Mutant Ninja Slots and Pixie's Unending Quest

Sometimes I have to wonder how much fun anyone has during those fun family vacations. And how relative the fun quotient is to the un-fun travel, tantrums, and exhaustions added to these excursions. The adults, as far as I can tell, have waffled between faux-fun!! grins (always a hint of desperation lest their slightest slip trigger full on stereo tantrums), irritable, exhausted to affectless catatonia, and panicked. The children have all tantrummed over some complex and non-negotiable nuances of their contract with existence. So on a first glance... well I think the prima facie case is at least made that these are not all that fun in the final shake-down.

BUT then again, the tantrums and the tired-adults seems to be a quotidian child-related inevitability regardless of the external location. Perhaps the fun moments in between (the only thing archived in photograph and likely to be remembered after a thorough mental cleaning) are the relevant metric. Of course, let's overlook the fact that the elder children seemed to have equal peaks of "fun" during their "quiet time" with the kindle in the room. And that Sam's favorite activity of the yesterday involved playing a game of nap. He hates real naps and will start spewing typhoons at the mention of "a ride" (mommy's last ditch effort involves strapping him into the carseat and driving around), but he love "Bedtime/Naptime: The Game Edition." He and I played it several, several times. 

The backbone of the game is quite simple. "We" - by imperial toddler fiat, I was the accomplice yesterday - crawl onto the bed, say how tired we are, turn out all the lights and pretend to sleep until "morningtime." Morningtime is roughly thirty seconds after we've started snoring. It involves waking rituals, such as pulling the shade, drinking our morning soda and chocolate, and possibly doing laundry. The variations on this game pullulate with each passing round. Should teeth be brushed? Does it matter which way we lay? Should we do the dishes? Should be do the laundry? How many buttons should be pushed on the laundry/dishwasher/drier/microwave? Did we put on our pjs? Do we need to hide under the covers from the bad guys coming to kill me? Do we need to hide under the bed for the same reason? Do all the towels need to be stacked on the nap-bed? Do all the sheets need to be immediately stripped from the bed, thrown into the "laundry" and then dried on the table? Should Sam throw a wild hysterical screaming fit whenever somebody attempts to remake the bed?? Naturally, you can guess the answers to these questions. 

But between the bright shiny lights, the constant stimulation and the endless supply of pelf and lucre, one still doggedly wonders if these sorts of places constitutes The Emperor's New Vacation. No matter how many times I think perhaps it's worth it by memories alone. Parents - from my observation, and excluding the ones who have opted to spend the vacation at the bar - spend the whole time in circuit between concerned, irate, and possibly falling out of their chairs asleep. Well that's between excusing themselves from all the madness to make the necessary phone calls required to jump start that second mortgage so they can keep financing the trip and placate the emotional terrorists that their overstimulated children have become. Yet in the must of the gnashed teeth and rolled eyes, they'll swear that staying here is FUN to anyone who asks. With a fairly convincing grimace-smile! And in two years, their eyes will mist over with nostalgia at the very mention. 

Yesterday's funtivities began with some sort of wand-quest. Wait, I take that back. First the boys went to the build-a-wolf station, which is a place where you cash in your Paws Plus Bijoux O'Pre-Paid Free Stuff to have a stuffed toy made (the clothes are extra). Braden's was a rugby playing wolf whose name is the subject of great deliberation and may never be resolved (Rug, Scout, Scowler, Ryan, and anything anyone has said in passing - "check" "depilatory cream"... you name it). Ian's is a wolf named Moon Prowler. Not howler. Prowler. Important distinction. Wait, nope, now Ian's is Moon Howler not Prowler. And Braden's is still one of five hundred different options

 But after that... The quest! Sort of a digitally upgraded scavenger hunt around the hotel. It involves going to various treasure boxes and computer stations around the hotel in a particular order, and then this is very important flicking your wand in their direction. The wand is persnickety. Possibly "broken" in fact. So this all sounds much easier than it is. Several perambulations through the second floor of the hotel and some frustrated wand flicks later, Braden was begging to return to the room and Sam was content throwing himself in the middle of the thoroughfare with his pajama-endued bear. 

Eventually a teary Braden and Sam returned to the room with Mommy, while Aunt Adella and Gramma Pam continued escorting Ian on his quest to Pixie's Perch, a video projector room that purportedly played some kind of video and capped off the first of several "quests" a kid could load onto his/her wand. We eventually ran into a hotel employee, who explained the fine technique of flicking the wand. Thank god, the video finally altered from its endless loop of birds chirping and princesses leaving.

 And eventually, we even returned to the room in time to drag the intransigent Rugrats out to THE ARCADE, which was beyond a Vegas Experience. The boys didn't necessarily want to go until they'd clarified how much money mommy was going to spend on them. Somehow that finally was negotiated and they were sent on their way to Parental Hell and pre-gambler's delights.

 While Chuck-E-Cheese had some of the throw-backs to casinos of yore, this was at the cutting edge. Parents pre-loaded thematically named debit cards with "paw points" and each game cost a variety of points. Tickets are still distributed. Like all victims of miss lady luck, the highs of victory (short lived as they are) only serve to brighten the sweet desperation of defeat. The final agony of knowing, absolutely knowing, one more game and I could won! Though not with those claw machines. Those things are ridiculous. Braden spent several thousand paw points trying to get a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle head, but each time it dropped away just seconds before reaching the prize awarding spot. 

Sam enjoyed the arcade mostly as a place to run around and scream FIRE!!! Fortunately nobody could hear anything so no mass hysteria ensued. After several thousand paw points (we shan't dally on the exchange rate of paw points to dollars for fear of heart attacks) had been munched, it was time for further tantrums. Braden held it together a bit more than I'd expected... for a while. He mostly teared up at the conclusion of his fun at the time. Sam, however, was devestated to be removed from the land of flashing lights and imaginary fires. 

Both Braden and Sam were in hysterics by the time such travesties as LUNCH were suggested. Ian took this as his opportunity to heckle and harass both of them. Because he, of course, was the good child and totally in line with the grown-ups on eating lunch. By a blessed mercy upon our smoking credit cards, the buffet was closed. We were forced to an adorably named little bar type area that actually served food at relatively reasonable prices... if you calculate in all the leftovers that I was able to hoard and turn into an entire breakfast and a lunch snack for Mr. (W)right on the morrow. 

Deconstructed Dining is par for the course. Mommy, for instance, never has actual time to eat her entree. By the time she's rounded up, managed the barters between kids, and otherwise re-shuffled the kid's meals, they're usually ready for (1) dessert, (2) play-time with mommy!! As such (and since the children don't actually eat food at meals, so much as fight over it, throw it, and eventually spill/abandon it), the majority of her sustenance comes from scraping up their leftovers. I'm pretty sure she's lived entirely off of leftover ice cream, chocolate milk, and chicken nuggets today, for instance. Following her lead (and my usual belief that food is always tastier off somebody else's plate) I've taken to scavenging my meals from the rest of the family. Perfect complementarity that the kids always end up with "healthy options" for their sides, while I don't even get the option. Many an exchange of potato chip for leftover veggies has been negotiated. And then Rachel gives me her red onions from any salad (and ten tons of spinach afterwards). Yesterday I also got some free walnuts, and some grilled onions. Once you get a little mercenary, you can feed yourself in this environment. Just make it fast, because you'll be sneaking it in between various emergencies and meltdowns.

After Ian attempted a fruitless stab at wand quest number two (and Auntie Adella played a thoroughly rousing game of NAPTIME with the Sam-beast), Sam went off for his "drive" and the other boys "napped" (which meant playing their kindles in the dark and fighting only in hushed tones instead of screams, apparently). 

At about 3, Rachel was still gone, so Gramma Pam suggested via text (a/k/a "mommy's little lifeline) that we take the elder children to the water park so as to give them some extra time to tire themselves out, and to free up the room for mommy to return. Braden ended up wanting to stay in the room, so we left with Ian. Sam immediately perked up upon returning to the room and Braden was suddenly ready for the water park, so they joined us soon after. I guess of all "fun" opportunities, the water park turned out to be the most fun. I'd anticipatorily stocked myself with earplugs, which helped my survival rate immensely. After a 5 p.m. snack, mommy disappeared with Ian to go on some slides and I returned to the room to check on Andrew and take a shower. 

Oh yeah, I didn't mention Gramma Pam is insanely generous - or just didn't like her odds of sleeping with a squirming toddler, plus the additional stimulation of Andrew and Adella getting up at 6:30 - and got us a second room. Oh my god, the sweet sweet sleep of jostling about in a double bed with a twitchy husband... it is all relative I guess, but I feel like I haven't slept so well in months. 

Andrew still being a ways out, we returned to the buffet for dinner. It was apparently "asian food themed" although it appeared the 90% of the offerings were identical to the day before. I guess they had two or three extra vaguely asian not otherwise specified offerings. I guess. And we were back out at some point to go through the Forest Somethingorother Challenge. I'm not sure what was involved with that, since Rachel took the boys, and Gramma Pam and I sat at a table nodding off in our palms. And I'll give the GWL their due. The kids and mommy loved  this excursion, though Braden broke into preemptory tears and almost didn't go when he heard that lasers were involved. When they returned, it was apparently time to retrieve the pre-paid-"free" ice cream for Braden, who had not gotten his earlier. This required Grandma Pam distracting Sam, who would otherwise insist that the entire cup was his. Technically he'd gotten a cookies and cream one earlier, but hadn't actually expressed any interest in eating it. This devolved into the elder boys sword fighting and Adella running to her room where her husband waited (with Quiznos on her recommendation). 

Today is our check out day, but I have been assured  that our passes work until 9:00 p.m. tonight. The overstimulation! In theory at some point we will commence the 3-10 hour drive back home though. But there are more nonsense quests to flick wands at, buffets to be massacred, animatronics to be spooked by, and pre-paid-"free"- things-with-extra-cost-bonus-enticements to be bought. Is there yet "fun" to be had? Ask me again in two years and after several photos of smiling children have been reviewed and properly photoshopped. 

Have Andrew and I agreed that we are down with genetically engineering ourselves a quiet little bookish Chris Froome baby when the time comes for such interventions? Absolutely yes! Might seem pricey in the first cost, but think of the savings down the road!!

Despite all that, there's this nagging part of me that has to admit, GWL is fun. I don't exactly know how or why. This is not to say I'll ever come back, because I'm a delicate flower with a conservatively pecuniary bent (I'm basically no fun for any age category, judging by my general abstention from noisy bars, heavy drinking, and late night revels). But I wouldn't necessarily forbid normal folks from dragging their kids here. And maybe in a few years, when the pictures have faded into photoshop, I'll even find myself saying in all sincerity that it was a great time with family (and there were moments to cherry-pick), and oh me oh my the good old days! If only we'd bought that special Commemorative Photo Book through partnership of GWL and Snapfish!