Fluffernuterrgeddon and Other Adventures With Frolicking Family Imps

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Cohabitation: The world is a twitter with birthday frenzy, in a thorough rick-rock through retirement home. Home-comings of a twisty-turney nature are plotted and planned to a rather pricey and well wrapped hip-hip-chin-chinery!! And the family parachutes in from outerspace (or maybe just New Jersey by way of Chicago and British Columbia) 

Coming up: Malicious microwaves are handily dispatched into the pits of offal, before rapid runs evermore towards the Boom Boom of family dinner. Auntie Adella wavers between totes awesome and child endangerment, hitting several high notes along the way. Tense international talks are opened to handle the Piggy Back crisis of 2013. Theories of various physical properties of the universe are conducted to frequent howls and ouchies. While Uncle Andrew somehow manages to miss the tempests and titillation full-tilt family, Aunt Adella dives head in donned in yuppie sports bra and long undies. Will she emerge in any semblance of sanity? Will Gramma Pam remember to wear a suit to her afternoon hearings, or will she come dressed in a Batman costume screaming about butt-cheeks? Will the office explode, and will anyone ever explain how on earth in a million bajillion years parent do "it" or anything like it, whether "it" is juggling three rowdy boys, avoiding fluffernut implosion, transitioning from work to home, or just not accidentally locking their spouses out of the bedroom after a long day's night. 

Spit Spot Work, Love, and Ongoing Auntiedom - 

Back in the office flying (or lounging) solo this morning, as Gramma Pam takes the auxiliary adult morning shift. This should prove to be fascinating, what with the rather eeeeeenormous trial looming just on the other side of the birthday weekend abyss. I'm sure we'll be fine. Totally. So totally, in fact, I could say totes, that's how totally fine we'll all be. 

Yesterday's auntie-uncle lollapalooza was somewhat distracted by our own DINKY diversions. One was planned - our work out. The other was a "fun" surprise! My low-rent microwave decided to behave in a manner behooving its price point and go on strike. I thought it did so in quite the creative manner - making all semblance of functioning perfectly, but failing to actually heat any of the food inside. A cursory internet search revealed that the problem was likely with a part worth roughly 75% of the microwave's price. We confabulated briefly and determined that it was a beautiful morning for a run (non-literal run, as we actually took the car) to the dump! It is so novel being married and sharing responsibility for these perfunctory details of quotidian drudge. After years of maintaining my own abode, I am still habituated to view all household issues as something for me to take care of. I knew that +Andrew Wright and I had contracted to share the twists and turns of life, and certainly he's on call for the big stuff, but it's a much more surprising thing to remember that he's also there to share with these things, as well. For richer for poorer... for Black & Decker for Panasonic... Now that's romance, baby. 

After our metaphorical "run" we followed up with the planned DINKY portion of the day: running and gym! I have reached new levels of yuppidom, by giving in and running around in public in my bra. My sports bra, to be exact. A nice well-strapped purple moisture wicking bra, but still a bra. Hey, if the new normal in pants are jeggings that make the average woman look like she is being eaten alive by voracious denim snakes, I think I get to bare my pearly torso and blind a few bystanders from time to time. 

After some fairly complicated scheduling shenanigans we did manage some reconoitering on the aunti-uncle scale. Somehow via my mother, we arranged to have dinner with my father, sister, and two of the three nephews. Ian the nephew apparently felt that one Ian was enough for any dinner party and Grandpa Ian would have to bear the mantle. Nice of him not to leave Gramma Pam totally Ianless, I suppose. We went back to Boomer's of the 1950's Nostalgic Drive-In Burger Joint Date Night fame. A great place for kids, and a great place to go with kids.

I'm still enjoying my dominance on the hit charts with Braden this trip. So funny, over my last visit he was less sure about me, or at least ambivalent and Ian was my new bosom buddy. We've mostly returned to the dynamics of last summer, in which Ian likes me pretty well (I am no Gramma Pam, after all), but Braden thinks I'm totes awesomesauce. Just so long as one of the three thinks I'm the best ever on any given visit, I'm pretty sure my ego can handle the fickleness inherent in young children. Is that why parents have more than one kid? There's got to be some reason other than mad-parent disease. 

After light duty yesterday, Uncle and Auntie are back to working-stiffs, although I'll be blazing out of the office early to see the kids and earlier than that to see my friend Dan, who's back in Bellingham after an Arabic immersion course (this is provided that his somewhat xenophobic parents haven't already packed him off to bible school to beat the Muslim out of him... I am only sort of joking). Never rains but it pours! Except mostly in the PNW, where it drizzles. But in terms of visits and activities, a whole lot seems to be happening all at once! Thank goodness I'm already quite, quite mad. 

Reasons for tantrum: Monday in Bellingham Edition

1. Aunt Adella is giving Braden a piggy back ride back from the waterfall, and Ian has to walk. This is, apparently, outrageously unfair even Ian own had never asked to be carried and weighs roughly twice as much as his younger brother. 
2. Braden got off Aunt Adella because he thought he'd prefer it if mommy carried him, so Adella gave Ian a piggy back ride. Then mommy was already carrying Sam so Braden had to walk!!! This was supremely wrong, quite possibly a violation of a Geneva Convention, and we will be sorry.

3. Ian and Braden were playing soccer and Ian had the gall to kick the ball over Braden's head when they were both running for it. This was, of course, a complete betrayal of all things good and decent.

4. Mommy refuses to live in Bellingham, because she wants to live with Daddy who works in New York. Braden will never forget this, and has sworn he will never ever speak with Daddy or see him when he's a grown up. 

5. When Braden moves here as a grown up, he will be too old to take the Super Hero Training class at the YMCA. I anticipate a SCOTUS decision on age-discrimination in his near and distant future.

6. Braden, Ian and Sam all wish that Daddy were still with them and don't know why he had to go off to make kayaks. 

7. Braden thinks it is unfair that they can't have the kayak being sold on the side of the road, and has proclaimed that Daddy's kayak is way suckier than that kayak. 

8. Ian thinks it is a travesty that when they road trip back to pick up Daddy, they may miss Nashville and thus would not be able to stop by at that place with the peanuts he likes. 

9. Braden hates the Odwalla smoothie that mom gave him. It killed his family. He is its sworn enemy and has dedicated his life to finding all those it loves and systematically destroying them.

10. We have to go out and go to the park. The boys all hate that vile abaddon of a recreational area. 

11. We have to leave the park. The boys want to stay and play. 

12.  By the darkest turn of events we have to go to On Rice, the Thai place. Ian abhors the Thai place and all its repugnant peanut sauce dishes. 

13. However, should we go to the Thai place, Mommy may suggest that Ian must share  a small portion of his beloved peanut sauce dish. The audacity!!

13. Mommy will not let Ian feed Sam a piece of chicken doused in hot peppers. CPS has been alerted...

In between bouts of Wagnerian sturm und drang (high notes provided by our resident counter-tenor, Samuel Falconer), my little sociopathic munchkins were utterly delightful, of course. And, honestly, after a morning dealing with the aftermath of grown adults throwing far more durable and deleterious hissy fits about just as imaginary issues (sometimes, far more delusional), I can't say that I didn't feel more sympathetic for the momentary bursts of existential despair when those little flare ups over life's inconveniences poked through. 

I did work like a dervish (whirl reserved for Thursday), but snuck out often enough. First I had coffee with my friend Dan, who has taken on the Arabic name of Dan Pink Father of the Beard (rough but accurate translation) after his two month immersion program. He gave me a healthy lecture about the quirks of the Arabic language and - in case I had suffered brain damage and forgotten - how intrinsically stupid 19 year olds tend to be. He also let me know that it's not his fault that I have to hang out with my family this week. I countered it was hardly my fault that he was going to Seattle to see his grandmother tomorrow or to Canada to see family friends this weekend. Glad we have absolved ourselves of culpability for future lapses in interaction. 

After a short and panicked catch up transfer in the work to home relay, I took my mom's place and headed out to play Gramma Pam Home Version. In addition to said topical tantrums (none of which I got to participate in this time... but maybe today's my day). the nephews treated me to a goodly fill of shenanigans. We started with "soccer" and I have to say I've still got it (if by it, we mean the ability to lightly and delicately dribble a large beach ball and accurately pass to a small child without killing him). There was an interim involving a mass attack on our poor stuffed penguin, including beak-biting. Rachel and I rallied for the penguin and gave the boys a fair fight.

We then went to the horrible, awful, totally awesome park and played a rather evolving game of hide and seek. I don't recall the part of hide and seek where I am an undead warrior and Ian gets armor, weapons, and magical potions to protect his lives from my tags, but I guess I am pretty darned old now... kids these days and their new-fangled children's games! When I was your age, we didn't even have the seek in hide and seek!! Every one just hid and then spent the rest of the day in hiding!!!

I would say the major advantage of this game is that it allowed me to unrepentantly swing about the jungle gym without anyone looking at me strangely. Andrew had asked if my sister worked out at all after I'd mentioned that she really enjoyed a certain brand of workout pants. Not exactly sure how to answer that question, but I'll just say that it is beyond me how any full time mom doesn't get the full Boot Camp body. I don't think I ever actually manage to eat when I'm with my nephews, and those boys are heavy one at a time! She can deftly maneuver two at a time while balancing a phone and a glass of juice as if it were nothing. I swear, child wrangling should be an Olympic sport. 

Oh and to really make me feel like a part of the family, Braden gave me a drawing he made at lunch. Not to be outdone, Sam gave me and my jeans several mounds of dirt that he acquired on the playground. It warms my heart, truly, to be so accepted!

Uncle Andrew didn't get home until we were well underway with the dinner toss, so I suggested we might just meet at home. He promised that he would not sneak in a vasectomy on the way, which is heartening. For one, that would definitely take him off his bikes for a few days... 

The Urinary Habits of Rock Seeking Flippers, Aqua DINKauntie, and Date Night Strikes Back Again
After another feat of filing juggling and exhibit origami, the auntiedom commenced again. In order to prepare for these taxing duties, I naturally warmed up at the gym with Azita. Soccer, swimming, penguin fighting, child-dashing, and child lifting are quite the athletic endeavors. While one must be cautious on the overtraining syndrome common with such endurance sports as Child Rearage, one will also be vastly benefited by some smart myofacial massage and a sagacious smattering of cross training. 

Anyways, it turned out that it was a good day to have been sporting the ol' sports bra and nylon capri long johns, since I was informed at lunch that our afternoon would involve beach-going. I thought that I had a swim suit in my work out bag, since I had gone to such trouble to pack a swim cap and goggles lest I ever have the implacable urge to swim laps at the Y. Apparently, the ugly red speedo was too fast for me and has already taken off for a more active life of swimming laps in somebody else's washer (set spin cycle to awesome). But a bra and respectable undies worked quite well enough to trudge to the middle of the lake with Ian, engage in a some aqua-splash warfare and (this was my primary task) remove and endue him with the rock-seeking flippers of doom. 

Flippers seem like a great idea. And probably are if (1) they fit, (2) they are being worn in an environment that is conducive to long spells of exclusive swimming, and (3) they do not have rock-seeking magnetic capacities unfathomed by man or beast. It was not particularly surprising that Ian had his share of snags getting from the house to the car and from the car to the beach in his flippers. It was a bit surprising that after every three steps, the rocks-to-foot ratio had drastically altered to favor the rocks. By the end, we decided that these were far more suited to being makeshift rock shovels (and that - har har - the way that water leaked out of the holes in the flippers definitely meant it was peeing... on me mostly, but I willfully stepped in as a shield when Braden had his moments of not wanting to play the SPLASHING game that he mostly wanted to play)
Before the beach, we all lathered up with sunscreen. Ian, being such "helpful" big brother emptied about a quarter of a tube on various discrete sections of Braden's exposed anatomy. He favored the hair quite a lot, something that Braden was not necessarily thrilled about. I suggested that Braden was just a man who valued his highlights and knew the importance of a good spf in his styling products. I'm not sure if that more made Braden feel better about the situation or just encouraged Ian to keep attempting to pile on the goo, but regardless the spf was shortly thereafter confiscated. I declined to take a photo for my blog as Ian had insisted, for fear that Braden would sue me for unauthorized use of image. Instead we went with Ian preparing for his future days without a neck (body building, perhaps??)

Brave one that I am, I offered to drive the boys to the beach. Braver and/or more desperate woman that she is, Rachel allowed me to do so, despite my complete naivete on this whole child-driving thing. The children-as-small-drunk-people model gets you far, but it can fall apart in places. For instance, most drunk people maybe shouldn't sit too close to the driver in a car, but they are not legally and ethically prohibited from sitting in the front passenger seat.  Not being a parent, my first action was to benightedly endanger my nephew's life by attempting to put him in said front seat. Doing so with a child (though not a drunk, unless it is a drunk child) will apparently ensure deployment of death-dealing airbags.

Fortunately Ian, the elder, forgot his mirthful malevolence long enough to inform me of these additional strictures before any harm came or - heaven forbid - his mother discovered my reckless indifference to nephew-life. Of course, since there was only a minor spot carved out of the back for a single passenger, compliance with the no-front-seat-rule involved hastily shoveling several arm fulls of random detritus back to the trunk before we could proceed.

 My car is nifty, let me tell ya! It has no dvd players at all, for instance. And the windows... get this... go up and down with a crank! Not arrows. No by mommy's sheer telepathic powers. But with a weird little wheel that you can turn up and down and up and down and lord help us all there are no "child locks" on anything. My car is rugged, baby. I impress all the boys (if they are, in fact, literally boys) with my vintage rod!

Storms were few on the tantrum front. There were many close calls, but very few full gales. Sam took up most of the starring roles, having been so generously and gently awoken from his nap by Ian dragging him down the stairs and plunking him on the ground into the piano bench. Sam also was non-too-thrilled about some sartorial dilemmas surrounding his swim wear, and seemed only happy to wear wet shorts and to sit on his mother's lap while doing so. Mommy didn't feel too keen on this idea, for some reason. A long and thoughtful discourse naturally evolved. Mostly involving explanation on mommy's part and Sam's evolving cries for his Dada (who clearly would have understood that sometimes A MAN NEEDS to wear wet pants and sit on his woman's lap).

I checked out a little early and still dripping to meet Uncle Andrew (who is managing to miss out on all the fun so far this week, what with his work schedule and various calendar events) for our date night. We, indeed, dated-ish and ended up trying out a Greek restaurant right next to the Boomers where the munchkins had returned. Didn't drop in, but could see the Leviathon Tahoe out our window. Naturally upon return we researched high protein beer and ... well yeah mostly that. So nice to have some truly erudite "adult time" after the kid-time... or something like that!

And Today's Edition of HTH (how the H-E-quadrupley-million-hockey-sticks-and-goalie-masks) Does Anyone Do That??

So I know I've expressed my befuddlement at how on earth my sister manages three boys without losing at least one of them and burning down the house in some kind of marshmallow fluff related holocaust. But today I'd like to add another source of awe and wonder: How on all that is good and decent (and some of what is a bit lurid and concupiscent) does anyone swing the working parent thing exactly? Because I am developing two distinct personalities at the moment that will eventually come into cataclysmic battle for supremacy, and leave regular old normal Adella a smoking piece of collateral. Since Andrew was, as usual, off on a cyclescursion yesterday, I don't yet have to also query how exactly one manages to be a working parent and an even moderately emotionally present spouse. But perhaps the fact that I "accidentally" locked him out of the bedroom when I went to bed last night (I believe I woke back up after only several minutes of his attempts to pick the lock), raises that question for future inquiry. 

For instance, my Wednesday morning, I began burdened by briefs and smothered in my own trial debris. A cursory review of the witness questions revealed that apparently the client was likely requesting several things I did not know about, and there must be rapid and drastic gear grinding regarding the final papers and analysis section of my trial brief. Uncertain where anything partially relevant may be hiding, uncertain what could possibly have transpired in the prior afternoon while I was off herding kiddos, and beginning to feel the full crispy crunchy panic of trial, I texted my boss for answers. No response... No response. Kid time knows no parameters. Finally a response... Cute pictures of children and an update about the latest tantrum! Attorney Adela had no time for this crap! Schedule! Answers! Stop bothering me with these childish things unless they're somehow going to make for good exhibits. 

Yes, Auntie Adela is book-marking the crap out of these photos for future cooing, but could those darned hellions schedule their smug smarmy little cuteness for a more appropriate time? And why on earth must Attorney Englett be so focused on frivolity when there are deadlines snarling straight ahead ready to consume our entire office and likely raze at least a surrounding city block upon impact!

Mark that photo, it serves a bit of prolepsis for Auntie Adella's magnificent comeback in child endangerment!

Hours were stubbornly refusing to supply little bonus pockets of time and the deadlines were fast approaching, at which point DING DING lunch time. Time for magical playlands, tantrums over too many dessert options, and an endless supply of metaphysical debate over a frothee head of blue-cherry-berry ice-ee (Ian's invention). Quick breath, long drive replete with panicky revelations about interest rates and documentation in between diapers and oh lord did I actually refer to the respondent as Mr. Butt-Cheek-Poopy-Pants and make a cogent well supported argument for why Petitioner's proposal that Respondent be covered in pee and poop, and that visits be restricted until he clears up his cootie infection in that trial brief?? Wait, no, no maybe... oh who knows!  

And lunch came in a burst of play-eclat. Boys in light-up shoes, playgrounds that sing, the perilous siren song of several candy machines between the shoe store and the Oooooold Country Buffet. A smile plastered to my face, I can't even remember this office-thing, except to note that it has roughly as much mess and fort-fodder as any of the nephew's home-disasters. 

Aaaand like cold water after a hot soak in the sauna, WORK reemerges as the passing of the torches between madhouse number one and two occurs between Aunt Adella and Gramma Pam. Pretty soon she'll be sending out the feverish chat-inquiries about case crap that harangue and perplex me, and I'll respond with up to date analysis of the latest nephew fatality list. But first we'll lock wild eyes with each other and - for just one second - share the fact that we have NO IDEA what is happening anywhere, before digging back in and attempting some semblance of re-coordination. 

My crowning accomplishment in Auntie-dom yesterday was, of course, being the "supervising adult" during Ian's brave experiment in physics. The boys had emptied out the contents of gramma Pam's home into Sam's crib and were proclaiming it a fort. Mommy was not allowed on peril of death and/or poking in eyes, but Adella was tentatively admitted into kiddie-world on a temporary barely-really-an-adult-visa. After the entire planet had been neatly packed into the crib, the only natural thing to do was to empty the contents of the crib one piece at  a time, by throwing each stuffed animal, diaper, shirt, and mommy's underwear (this I mostly confiscated and returned before the final execution) at the treadmill. The treadmill was, of course, on. Not just on. It was set at 10 miles per hour and a 10% incline. Shockingly, the crib refugees spun rabidly off the treadmill into the rocking chair behind. When Ian speculated on whether he could run that fast, I suggested that no, no he would go flying off the back and injure himself just like all the stuffed animals, and that I most certainly would not try to run at that speed. Braden confirmed this by touching the treadmill and getting a little owie on his finger. Ian - taking advantage of a moment when my back was turned and attention on Sam, who seemed to be wavering between ecstasy and existential melt-down in his crib-fort - tested this in a bit more concrete of a fashion. 

Results: (1) Ian cannot actually run at that speed; (2) Ian can, however, go flying off the back of the treadmill; (3) doing so hurts a friggin' lot, and can hurt even more when one becomes intoxicated with one's own howls about said pain. I feel moderately guilty about my auntly negligence, but also kind of think maybe he might have - oh I don't know - seen that result coming?? I'm happy to say that for large swaths of seconds, we managed to talk him out of his howling (and Braden, who wants to be just like Ian, could then forget that he too had an owie that was apparently resonating through his entire body and boring into his very soul). Of course the McDonald's playground did a far more lasting job. And, by the time we met up with Gramma Pam and Grampa David at Boston's Ian was giddy with delight to recant his brave battle with the vicious tread-desk. Beware, though, should attention on his finer qualities ever lapse, I suspect a full on relapse and possibly even complications for both boys. I had previously suggested that perhaps we could amputate if it got much worse. I am still keeping this option on the table. 

As my trial madness wraps up (ATTN Bellingham criminals, the trial brief is complete so it is probably time for mass mayhem and havoc of epic proportion to erupt and, once again, bumpety bump our best laid plans, I may only shrug and say "how hell?" I have no idea. But I'm not writing years of therapy and some heavy drugs off as plausible explanations. And, with that, I leave you with this immortal lesson: "No, Sam, That's used for serving not for stabbing!" So true in so many ways. 

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