Friday night (when the weekend really begins)
We had a contractor out to price the repair work we need to do on the house. This process took 4 hours instead of the projected 2. That was the first bad sign. The second bad sign was the quote: Basically, we need slightly more than $30,000 to do what we need to do to the house---not what we want to do but what we need to do.
We both looked up at the ceiling when we added up the final tally, while the contractor stared at us, stuck in our shock and dread. I don't know why I looked up; appealing to God? Hoping for pennies from Heaven? I think my husband looked up to choke back the sobs his eyes wanted to pour out. I don't know. You'd have to ask him.
The contractor talked to us about the financing his company offers, and we said we'd investigate all avenues, but bottom line is this means a loan, debt and more than $200 extra dollars a month we need to find for about 15+ years. I know investing in your home can't really count as debt per se, but well, it is. And we feel pretty strongly about that.
So when we went to bed (midnight, about an hour after the guy left) we both had anxiety dreams. My husband dreamed he got laid off. I dreamed I had three crucial places to be at once (a college final exam, a job interview, and child doctor appointment) and I couldn't remember them all or coordinate them all.
Needless to say, we both woke up a little draggy and bummed. I decided the only hope for it was to clean the house.
Believe it or not, this is when things began to improve.
I actually feel good cleaning house. I'm not saying I enjoy it, but I enjoy the quick feeling of accomplishment and success, and the final result (clean and tidy).
Even better, the entire family got in on the cleaning and tidying, without me nagging or playing drill sergeant. I think that is the closest to joy I had come in days.
I decided to switch on the TV and ran across Jon and Kate Plus 8, the show several people had said was great. I agree. Good grief, it's like our cosmic twins, on TV, only with six more kids.
See, that could have been us. We scrapped an infertility cycle just like the one Kate had when she got pregnant with the sextuplets. And I hadn't even achieved a pregnancy, much less already had multiples. Just as they clearly feel blessed with all of their children, we feel blessed that we managed singletons both times. But I admit it's very interesting to watch people similar to us and ponder what it might have been like.
They seem like really nice people, and as I alluded to, each of us related to each of them. The key moment came when they were discussing Mady, one of the six year old twins. Kate was relating how Mady is high drama, and sometimes she runs out of patience for it. (Following is my reconstruction based on my faulty memory of what I think was said.)
Jon says: You're all about the drama too, Kate.
(And this is why I love them---they are real, so real, not some exclamation point extrapolation of what a couple ought to be.)
Kate says: I am not!
Jon says: You are. Just admit it. You are Mady, Mady is you. You're both all about the drama.
Kate says: Listen, if I get dramatic it's because I really feel those feelings. I don't get dramatic for the fun of it!
Jon says: Well, maybe Mady feels those real feelings too.
Julie says: Holy mother of crickets chirping...they just had our fight! Honey get in here, I'm rewinding the TIVO, you have to see this!!
My Jon says: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Julie says: Jeesh, that's hilarious. He sounded just like you! And you should have seen that Mady, she is drama, but really too cute. Why is it cute when it's someone else's kid? She reminded me so much of Patience in that moment. In fact, I swear Patience has done that exact thing at some point.
My Jon says: Probably she has, and probably it's not as cute to you because you're all about the drama too.
Luckily he chose at that moment to carry the vacuum cleaner upstairs to complete vacuuming. Not that I was angry, or even annoyed, or slightly dramatic.
After that, we threatened Persistence into a nap, and bribed Patience with penne pasta and shrimp (her favorite) so we could get ready to go to the ballgame.
That's right: The Ballgame.
We drove on up to the Big City, where we parked four blocks away from the ball field, where the cheapskates park. (Seriously, are they KIDDING ME?!?! I am SO NOT paying $15 to $20 to park two blocks away from the ball field when I have two perfectly good [okay mostly good] legs that walk. Only four blocks. Good grief, that's nothing, you could even see the stadium from where we parked.) Then we toted two kids---one wiggly Persistence and one dramatic Patience---to the Big Fancy Stadium.
Maybe you've been to a baseball game but let me tell you...this stadium takes the cake. This is a Stadium, where they play Veryfancybaseball. It's enclosed with central air conditioning (thank God). We accidentally got into the box seat level, where there is carpet and waiters.
Julie: sitting down on floor as if she belongs
Jon: Are you nuts? What are you doing?
Julie: Let's make some friends here. I decided I don't want to go sit with the unwashed masses.
Jon: They aren't the unwashed masses. These are $40 face value tickets. We're in the first section, right by third base. We could catch a foul! You could smell the player's sweat! Rich people get these tickets.
Julie: So they are the washed masses. But masses, no cushioned seats, no carpet, no waiters.
Patience: sits by me
Julie: I think you are going to get outvoted.
Patience: I like it up here, Daddy, they have candy.
Persistence: CANDY! Where's candy?!?!
Jon: blows out exasperated air
Jon: Okay look, my boss gave us these tickets. We have to use our tickets. We can't make friends here. We need to go sit in our seats.
Three girls follow him.
The seats were pretty good, as were our neighbors who were washed, albeit loud and enthusiastic and luckily tolerant as the four ladies in front of us had their hair done (messed up) by the girls and were kicked a few times in the seat back. Overall though, the kids were great. First, I bribed them with popcorn durings innings 1 and 2. Next I bribed them with bottled water in innings 2 and 3. Then, hot dog, inning 4.
I'd like to note at this point that the buying of said food was used with the proceeds of saving the parking money. I know...$5 for a hot dog, $5 for water, $5 for popcorn. It's crazy.
Patience had a hankering for $5 cotton candy, which I nixed.
Julie: I'm going to pay $5 to sugar you two up, when you are already fast approaching hyper? I think not.
Julie: I know, you want it, it looks yummy and fun, but...no.
Patience: You're mean. You just want to make me sad, you don't like children.
Julie: deep breath
Patience: This is the worst family fun time ever. You are being SO MEAN. I hate baseball. You think I'm a bad mean terrible child. If you didn't think that you'd get me the cotton candy.
(Seriously, nobody speaks like this to this child. Nobody.)
Julie: It's okay to say you are disappointed and sad. It's not okay to use mean words that hurt.
Julie: Listen, here's the deal, it's understandable you are disappointed. But we are here to have fun and we can have fun. If you choose not to, that's too bad, and I'm sorry about that. But it's the choice you make. If you want to have fun, we can watch the game, go walk around and see the sights...focus on the yummy treats you did have like popcorn and hot dog and the fact that we are all together.
Julie: Hey Persistence, look at that, it's some sort of dancing animal mascot! (exuberant laughter) Let's make baby dance too!
Man behind Julie: Wow, that is some sulk. I think that beats anything either of my kids managed in twenty years.
Julie: Kid's a genius at it.
Man: Hey little lady, let's turn that frown upside down!
Patience: (shoots man Hairy Eyeball of Evil "If only looks could maim and destroy," look.)
Man: (falls back in chair, stunned)
Man: Uh, wow. Uh, sorry. I'll just leave you to your sulk.
Man: (raises eyebrows at me, whereupon I fall into the, "Maybe I ought to 'whale' on my kids more when they are this rude to other people, athough I sort of see her point. I mean, he did interfere, and Patience has such strict personal boundaries...you know, if you were being rude you might recall she's from Boston.")
Julie: Sorry, she just needs some time, like maybe to the 7th inning.
Patience did turn it around and had fun, even without cotton candy. We even sang "Take me out to the ballgame" at the 7th inning stretch. (At least it was like a real baseball game in one way. But I mean that in a good way: I am deeply appreciative of a posh sporting experience. Indoors---and cool---might be behind my preference for hockey.)
The best part was probably the train, which for the record is filled with very large fake oranges, not pumpkins (we were tremendous fodder for amusement to those around us, as usual). So, the train (no kidding, really, a real train with an engineer in an outfit and everything) would run when the hometeam got a homerun. I told Jon I hoped they got at least one so Persistence could see the train go (she's a big fan of choo choos). Obligingly the team provided three homeruns, and ultimately won the game. Everyone left happy (except fans of the other team).
We decided to carry on the good vibe and eat out big city style.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when eating out big city style with big city people:
* These are not boat people. They do not wear board shorts, flip flops, and t-shirts everywhere. They Style, like hair, wardrobe, makeup.
* These are not just "hanging out, chillin'" people. They are on a mission, mainly to see and be seen, I guess. They seemed quite self-conscious, as in conscious of being scoped out by all.
* There are a lot of people in big cities, which means crowds, which means waits which means "not family friendly." Or rather, not Patience and Persistence friendly.
* Service is slower in big city restaurants, the better to loiter at your table and see and be seen.
* Big city restaurant waiters do not know you---or your sense of humor---and have no interest in forming a lasting relationship as they expect to never see you again (or hope).
* A lot of childfree people live in big city urban areas. The ones who are deliberately childfree by choice due to not liking kids live there for a reason: to rarely see children because they hate hate hate kids, just on sight, just on general principle.
We witnessed these people in action, as it so happens.
Due to the Very Long Wait and Very Slow Service, dinner took Too Long. Although the kids had been mainly model citizen, at the end, Persistence was losing her cool.
We'd already packed our leftovers in to-go boxes and were waiting for the check.
When the waiter brought the boxes, he also brought balloons for the Ps. They love balloons, and their excitement took a frenzied edge due to their exhaustion. They were bonking their dad on the head with the balloons. He was taking it in the interest of keeping the lost cool on us, instead of it spreading around the restaurant, until we could leave.
Persistence did do her impression of a murdered macaw, twice, which lead to the tables around us laughing their asses off. I believe it was inspired by the decor and fatigue.
We quickly quieted her down, but apparently this was the final straw for the three men at the table across the walkway, sort of cross-corner, but a good distance away. The fact that in addition to having to see the children, now they had to hear them too was too much.
With a Grand Show of Drama that had Patience taking notes, the alpha guy of the table loudly demanded a new table, somewhere less obnoxious and noisy. The other two men nodded vigorously.
I had half noted their agitation when they were seated within view of us, and later half noted their rising frustration from the intense leaning over the table chatter and hairy eyeball looks they kept shooting our way. I was boggled because honestly, the Ps were acting like TV children---even Mary Poppins would approve.
As the hostess and waiter escorted them to the outdoor patio (past us) one man felt compelled to lean in to my face and---pretending he was talking to his friend, who was ahead and already out the door---say something very nasty about us, our children and our presence out in the world. There may have even been some insult to the animal kingdom.
I was a little shocked. Yes I was. I had heard tales...but to have it happen right there, on our happy family day...I felt so very...
No guilt, no worries, no concern, no repentance.
Our kids had not done a thing wrong, nor had we. Now, in different circumstances I'd have about cried from guilt and fallen over myself apologizing (or leaving). But not in this case.
I turned to watch them settle in to their new table. The men demanded a manager, who they then ranted to for about five minutes. I thought it was really too badly done on their part, too bad they chose to be miserable...but it was their problem in this case, not mine. So I turned back to my table and instead of paying the check, I asked who wanted dessert.
We had a really nice time. Even better, the worn out kids fell asleep in the car.
Sunday (which mainly remains to be seen)
Jen has started a truly awesome initiative. She is asking each of us to pledge an amount that we can to Open Arms:
Open Arms Home for Children is an established non-profit organization registered in South Africa and the United States. Founded by Bob and Sallie Solis of Arizona, the Home provides love and security to children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in South Africa.
Take a few minutes and follow my links to Jen's initiative and to Open Arms. Hopefully you'll decide to participate.
Mad has also asked that we consider helping the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
When you make a donation, please put "Just Post" in the comment line so we can track how successful this initiative has been.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert