Well That Was Alarming

We were racing through O’Hare International Airport.  I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins as we embarked on the first phase of our summer vacation.  No, we weren’t racing to make a flight or anything like that.  Mad Dog, in that way of his, was pushing us to get to…wait for it…baggage claim.  We weren’t even late for anything.  He is a man who can’t stand to be still so what happens when you land at your destination?  You sprint to baggage claim naturally.

Through the bobbing and weaving I managed to shout over to the boys, “You realize this trip would not be possible without me.  I am the whole reason we are here.”

They didn’t break stride as they looked towards me.

“I set the back-up alarm to make sure we made our flight this morning.  This was absolutely crucial to our trip’s success.  So, however amazing this trip is going to be, and it will be, it’s all because of your mom and her super awesome back-up alarm setting abilities.”

You see, the night before, Mad Dog ‘asked’ me what time I planned to set my alarm for.  The truth was, he already had in mind the exact time he wanted.  It was also clear that I was the back-up alarm.

Why he pretended that my back-up alarm mattered when, in fact, it did not, only shows how smart he is.  He knows my sensitive self likes to feel useful in situations like these.  He tried his best to include me.  But really, in the realm of travel logistics, it’s best to step back and let him roll.  (In his defense, he travels a lot for work, so he clearly knows what the heck he is doing.)

Mad Dog takes in what I’ve said and casually states, “Actually, you were the back-up to the back-up alarm.”

What!?!

Full Speeds turns to me and says, “How’s it feel to be demoted to third string, Mom?”

Not great.  Not great at all.

Of course we went to Wrigley Field, goes without saying.

Hot Stuff

There’s something about a margarita that makes an ordinary weekend feel like a vacation.  As the thick air enveloped the patio of my favorite Mexican restaurant, I savored the tang of salt that lined my delicious cocktail.  I was hanging with my three favorite guys and munching on chips and salsa…life was good.

Mad Dog raised his glass to meet mine.  He looked to our boys and asked, “What should we toast to your Mom?”

T.Puzzle jumped right in, “Make a toast to the greatest human alive….me.”

Mad Dog said, “This is supposed to be about your Mom, not you.”

T.Puzzle replied, “Well, I guess we can pretend you are the greatest human alive if that would make you feel good, Mom.”

More tequila please.

No matter, I laughed out loud.  This was even before the margarita had worked its way into my system.

The meal and conversation progressed beautifully.  I ate all the things I don’t normally allow myself to and it was divine.  I asked Mad Dog his thoughts on his spicy jalapeño drink and he said it was good.  It had been garnished with a pepper that had remained free and clear of the drink itself.  This is when Full Speed boldly declared that he would give eating the garnish a shot.

We warned him but also applauded his bravery.

Things quickly went south.

His face drained of all color.  He was losing control ever so slightly.  It started out slow and then reached max capacity.

I did the only natural thing a mother would do after imbibing on a way-too-strong drink.

I giggled.

I had the worst (best?) giggle fit of my life.  The more Full Speed looked like he might expire lent to another torrent of giggles.

At that moment I knew I really was the greatest human alive, but maybe not the greatest mom alive.

Still, this picture…worth a thousand words!

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Full Speed made a complete recovery.  Thankfully he had the strength to play Xbox later that afternoon.🙌🏻

Left to Go Left

I had the honor of chaperoning Full Speed and some classmates for their sixth grade trip to Sea World.  Thankfully, Mad Dog was able to attend.  Trust me, if he can manage a myriad of employees at work, seven twelve-year-old boys were a piece of cake.  It helped that they were all well-behaved, too.

As the day drew to a close, Mad Dog escorted our gang back to the bus home and Full Speed stayed with me.  We decided to hit one more ride before meeting up with Mad Dog at the exit and driving home separately from the class (all sanctioned by Full Speed’s teacher of course). Of all the things he could pick, Full Speed chose the flamingo-shaped paddle boats.  I wasn’t entirely sure this is what he truly wanted, but he’s a smart kid who takes after his Dad.  Sometimes you pick the stuff that you only kind of like because you know the important lady in your life would LOVE it.  And I did.  I really, really did.

After I had paid the fee for our twenty minutes, we fitted ourselves with life jackets and headed to the dock.  The attendant quickly went over instructions.  He said something to the effect of ‘go left to go left, go right to go right’.  He was referencing the way to manipulate the steering apparatus that was centered between our seats.  I followed his directions and we were off to the races….but, not really.  The harder we pedaled and the more I tried to maneuver us away from the dock, the more we stayed put. Eventually, I was able to get us crookedly angled away as long as we pedaled BACKWARDS.  Let’s just say, I shouldn’t quit my day job.

As we slowly and awkwardly floated out to sea, I casually said, “Full Speed, why don’t you try steering?”

He grabbed the control and in less than 30 seconds had us on a straight path.  He steered the paddle boat as if he had been doing it his whole life.  Turns out, you didn’t ‘go left to go left’.  Instead, you actually had to do the opposite.  Since I wasn’t particularly prideful about my gaping inefficiencies as a paddle boat captain, I sat back and enjoyed the ride.  Apparently, knowing how to actually steer properly makes everything a whole lot more smooth.

As we floated about, I had this out-of-body moment.  It was almost as if I was looking at Full Speed as how he could possibly be as a grown man.  Not surprisingly, he appeared a lot like Mad Dog.

I thought back to when I was twelve.  At that point in my life some fundamental aspects of my personality were formed.  My sensitivity, my empathy, and my creativity are all still a part of the grown-up version of me.  As I looked at Full Speed calmly navigating the waters before us, I thought if he has even half this amount of ease and confidence as a grown-up, he is going to do just fine.

Best paddle boat ride ever.

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Flights of Fancy

Recently, an unusual phenomenon occurred in our family.  I had two trips planned essentially back-to-back.  One was a solo trip meeting a friend at a yoga retreat (amazing!), and the other was an awesome work event for Mad Dog (also amazing!).  I was gone for four nights, home for two, then gone again for five nights.  I think the boys actually missed me.  I know I missed them.

That first morning when I was home for good, I was so happy to sit at the breakfast table with my guys.  I got to catch up on all I missed and hear about their time with Grandma and Grandpa (thank you!).  I, in turn, shared some of the cool things I got to see at the Arizona Biltmore and talk about the people I got to meet.  I talked about how fun it was to meet the spouses of Mad Dog’s work team.  I had so many people pull me aside to tell me how awesome Mad Dog is.  They told me how as a leader he requires a lot from them, but he is fair and always has their best interest at heart.  I was blown away by some of the ways he has positively impacted people.  As I shared this with the boys I said that not only were people pulling me aside to tell me how awesome Mad Dog is, they started telling me how awesome I am, too.

This completely perplexed T.Puzzle.

“Why?” he demanded to know.

And, just like that, I crashed back to earth.

It’s good to be home….I think.

Pushback

How is it possible to trash talk during a FAMILY DICE GAME?  As Mad Dog will tell you, he is gifted at a lot of things and trash talking is one of them.  For him, it’s a subtle balance of talking up his legendary gaming status and pushing buttons whenever one of his opponents shows any glimpse of weakness.  Not surprisingly, a recent game of Farkle pushed T.Puzzle to frustrated tears.  He cannot stand to lose, but to lose to Mad Dog is anathema.

Then there’s me.  I actually encourage family games.  I have this deluded notion that I can spark a positive connection between my family members (ha!).  Most of the time it is fun, even the trash talking part.   The crazy things Mad Dog says are classic and lead to laughter.  Laughter is where all the magic happens.  Then, there are the times when the laughter turns sour.  The game goes so far off the rails, you can’t turn back.

I also am not sure why I’m the only one in my family that truly appreciates the outdoors.  To get all three of my guys to do something outside takes monumental persistence and strength.  The pushback is incredible.  If they were left to their own devices, I’m guessing they would just be attached to said devices (i.e.-smartphones, laptops, gaming systems).

Why do I insist on family games and outings?  I like making the three of them step out of their comfort zone.  I like that they are forced to interact with each other.  This is how we learn and grow.  This is how we bond.

I have days where I lose motivation due to the enormous amount of resistance I encounter.  I asked Mad Dog why he always has to drag his feet on my ideas for family time.  His theory is that he is trying to maintain the illusion that he is still the alpha of the house.  Even though part of him knows what I’m suggesting is good for him and ultimately he will comply (mostly), he can only do so in his own complicated way.  I appreciated his honesty.  I didn’t fall in love with him because he always agrees with everything I say as soon as I say it.  I like that he challenges me.

That’s the whole point of loving someone.  You love them for exactly who they are, not who you think they should be.

I knew full well when I walked down the aisle towards Mad Dog on our wedding day, he was a trash talker of epic proportions.  I kept walking anyway because there was so much awesome in him that it made everything ok.  I knew my life would never be boring and it would be full of amazing adventures (see also Wrigley Rising).

I happened to get two bonus awesomes out the deal, too.

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