The Time We Went to Pittsburgh Part Two

You’re probably wondering how on earth we survived the plane ride from Portland to Pittsburgh, but if you read about part one of our journey, then you can probably understand that the plane ride was cake in comparison. No, Ella did not earn a baby doll for good behavior as she was promised, because, well, she needed to have good behavior. Screaming about wanting to get out of her car seat throughout both flights did not count as good behavior to us. Luckily, bringing her car seat solved the problem of her Houdini-ing her way out of the plane seatbelt, which really any fool can do. Those things were NOT meant for creative two year olds.

 

Once we arrived in the airport, Justin’s first task was to show the kids a statue of the dinosaur and tell them that the dinosaur would eat them if they continued to be naughty. Actually, I don’t know what he said exactly because I was too busy laughing at their scared faces while they stared up at the statue to really listen. But that is what I imagine he told them.

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So I found my brother by happenstance purchasing a hot dog at a concession stand in the airport. Like, I literally just ran into him while coming back from the bathroom. I was thinking that this trip was going to be easy peasy if I found my ride that fast, and by accident! If you don’t know my brother, there are a few things you should know before understanding why this trip had so much promise. 1. He is a social justice activist. He loves standing up for what he believes in, and this sometimes involves police and other speed bumps. 2. He represents United Steelworkers unions all around the country to make sure they are treated fairly. I don’t exactly understand what this entails and it may be a cover for a secret agency that I believe he works for. 3. He somehow made me the black sheep of our family even though he’s the one sitting in trees, protesting, causing mayhem, and not calling our parents back-ever. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. 4. Most importantly, he loves Harrison and Ella fiercely. His niece and nephew are arguably the best things that have ever happened to him. That being said, he planned extensively for this trip. For example, here is one of his texts: “Can I bring Harrison and Ella to a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest if I promise no one gets arrested?”. It turns out that our flight times conflicted with this protest, but no worries; he had plenty of other things planned. Apparently so did they.

The first task was fitting an extra large bright pink suitcase along with a double jogging stroller in the trunk of Patrick’s Impala. I have no idea how they did it, but Justin and Patrick made it work.

We stopped at the grocery store to pick up some provisions. Harrison and Ella had their hearts set on the vending machines that spit out plastic junk for a quarter at the front of the store. Justin decided to indulge them and they each got a rubber ball. On the way back to Patrick’s, Ella kept trying to chew on hers. After several reminders to not eat the plastic toy, Justin took Ella’s ball away. To this, Harrison replied, “Dad! I’m not putting balls in my mouth!” And then we died.

Once we arrived at Patrick’s, the next challenge was child proofing his house. I lie. We did no such thing. We had cocktails. Patrick has two sets of stairs and a deck that falls out to an abyss, but we just simply hoped for the best. Everyone is still with us, so we did alright. Harrison was delighted that he got to camp out in his uncle’s room, and thanks to melatonin, both kids were out cold at a reasonable hour. By reasonable, I mean 9:30. Patrick had the distinct pleasure of seeing 5:00 am two mornings in a row, but I think he will survive.

Snack time in our household is kind of like 24 hours a day, but when I’m out at other people’s places, I try to hone in on a reasonable time period for my kids to eat. Patrick didn’t happen to have any plastic plates or bowls, so we took our chances with some ceramic ones. Ella promptly dropped one of them and it shattered all over the floor. Instead of being concerned, however, she ate her potato chips (yes I am health mom of the year) through the debris. From that point on the kids ate their food off of tupperware lids.

That night we ordered out because we knew better than to try to take the kids to a restaurant. Also, we thought it was incredibly amazing that you can order delivery for ANYTHING in Pittsburgh. Even tacos!

Our first adventure the following morning was the zoo. We had an amazing time there-if you’ve never been to the Pittsburgh Zoo, it’s a good trip to take. Harrison spent the entire time talking about the hippopotamus. Spoiler Alert: There is no hippopotamus at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We have no idea where he got this idea, however, we could do nothing but ignore his comments because we were in fear that great disappointment would ensue, and who wants to disappoint a kid at the zoo? Well, we tried our best, but unfortunately, we as evil parents and caregivers, let the kids ride the rides on the way out of the park. After they each picked two rides, they then chose temper tantrums, which weren’t on our menu, but, alas, they persisted.

By the time that was over we decided that we should just head back to Patrick’s place for naptime, but not until we stopped at his work first. He really wanted to show off Harrison and Ella to his coworkers, but as I imagined, his job is REALLY a top secret government spy agency and no one was ACTUALLY in the office at the time. Well, there were two people there who we got to meet but they were obviously spies as well because they came into Patrick’s office with stickers and glitter. They proceeded to parade my children around the office and allow the kids to sticker and glitter all sorts of things. Then they got out the megaphone. Harrison was in absolute heaven.

We went down a few floors and found Maria. Maria happened to be on a very important phone call (probably with the head of the spy agency. Patrick said it was the president of the union. SAME THING.) but she waved us in and signaled to the white board. The kids had a ball with that, but as you know, kids like to color outside the lines. In this case that meant Ella wrote on the wall instead of the white board. Maria seemed really nice because she didn’t completely mind that Ella did this; however, that reminds me that I need to purchase some magic erasers and send them to Pittsburgh.

After all of this fun and excitement, we went to lunch. On the way we found some fountains and we got in trouble for running in them, although Patrick said it was a good idea. After all of this clamor, we managed to make it home and have the kids take a nap (sort of).

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We put Ella in the guest bedroom and all was quiet for quite some time, so I thought it was safe to go check on her. When I found her she was surrounded by empty granola bar wrappers, which she evidently snagged from my carry on bag. The joke was on her though, because that was it for snacks on the way home.

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Our next Pittsburgh experience was taking the kids on the Incline. It was Justin who drove Patrick to distraction at this event, because he kept insisting that we all call the ride back down the Decline. Patrick tried without any luck to convince Justin that both the trip up and the trip down were called the Incline. At the top of the hill, we all had treats: ice cream for the kids and beer for the adults. We were joined by Patrick’s friend Hannah, who reads Live From Timeout and apparently wanted to see it all for herself. I am proud to report that we left her in one piece, and she was the only person who did not have to escort Harrison to the bathroom up an obscenely long staircase at the restaurant where we dined. Next time, Hannah, next time.

The following day, we decided to do a Ducky Tour. If you’re unfamiliar, these amphibious vehicles drive on roads and float in water. They’re great fun, especially, I assume, if it’s not pouring rain. I couldn’t tell you though, how much fun they would be on a nice sunny day, however, because our experience entailed the aforementioned weather. Harrison got to drive the boat, and Ella was asked by the driver no less than seven times if she’d like a try, but she curtly refused. Harrison kept telling the driver he wanted to turn the boat around and go back home, but the driver ignored his requests politely.

Because it was raining, we had few options left for the rest of the day. Ella’s only choice was a nap, but the boys all went to the Carnegie Museum of Science. Patrick says he’s never seen anyone so excited about anything in life as Harrison at a museum. Despite his apparent enchantment with all things science, Harrison reported back to me that the best part was eating popcorn at the Omni Imax theatre.

Our flight home was very early in the morning on Sunday, and although Harrison’s internal clock is set for about 5am, he decided to sleep in that day, through all of our preparations for departure, only to rise JUST before we packed up the car. I know Patrick was secretly hoping he could keep one of the kids, but we ended up taking everyone back.

The Time We Went to Pittsburgh (Part 1)

The latest adventure our family had was a trip to visit my brother in Pittsburgh. Patrick loves his time with his niece and nephew, and he usually spends a lot of time planning their time together so that plenty of chaos can ensue. This trip did not disappoint. There was chaos everywhere, and as a matter of fact, it all started before we even got out of bed the morning we left.

“Oh shit,” I heard Justin say as he read his emails beside me. I hadn’t even opened my eyes yet, and I already had reason to worry. When he does this my anxiety level instantly rises because a million bad things race through my mind. Does he all of a sudden have to work this weekend? Were our bank accounts hacked? Is someone sick or dead? It turns out that the airline changed our connecting flight so that we now had a four hour layover at the Laguardia Airport. This, to me, is not a crisis. This is a simple little blip on the radar screen of crisis. I actually do not mind a bit of time in the airport because I like to get myself settled: No need to rush through security, some time to go to the bathroom, scope out the shopping, and sit and relax before the plane boards. Needless to say, Justin does NOT like downtime. He somehow managed to change our flight again so that we now had a 45 minute layover. Visions of running through the terminal danced through my head. But it got BETTER.

Since Justin loves to maximize his time, he had planned to take Harrison and himself to get haircuts on the way to the airport. This was a planned event. We talked about it. We decided when we would leave the house. I was cool with this. But as I started loading the bags into the car, I noticed that Justin was in the garage. With power tools. Then the power tools made their way to my van. “What could we possibly be doing with power tools on our way to the airport?” I thought. Mind you, I knew better than to ask. My Xanax was already packed away. I knew I couldn’t handle the truth, so I just let it go.

Once we got into the car, the real fun started. Our first stop was to Dunkin’ Donuts. We don’t have one in town, and every time Justin leaves the peninsula, he HAS to get a coffee. The kids also see this as a time to fill up on donuts. By the way, we found out that Harrison can’t have sugar, but that’s a story for another day.

Come to find out, the power tools were so Justin could break into a shed that we actually own at our old house. Nothing like a little criminal action before you go on vacation. Justin is reminding me that it wasn’t actually criminal because it was OUR shed, and he simply lost the key. He also is reminding me that our lawn wouldn’t get mowed while we were gone if the lawnmower remained locked in that shed. I was afraid I’d let it slip to airport security that we broke into a shed on our way to the airport and then we’d be arrested. But that’s only because my meds were stashed in my suitcase, and sometimes when I get nervous I overshare. It turns out that TSA does not care what you did before you got to the airport.

After this, it was time for the haircuts. The plan was for Ella and I to go to the coffee shop (Yes, I had gotten coffee at Dunkin’ too; don’t judge a girl and her caffeine.) and Harrison and Justin to go to the barber shop. Since Ella just had a donut, she was completely unimpressed that she wasn’t allowed to have any treats at the coffee shop. We got out of there with little incident, despite her disappointment.

So then Ella and I walked back to the car, which was parked outside the barber shop. For some reason, Justin and Harrison had decided to go to a DIFFERENT barber shop, and were now three blocks away. This is only a long distance when you have a two year old in tow who insists that she “walk by myfelf”. Justin sends me a text telling me where he is and notifying me that Harrison’s pants keep falling down. He wants to buy him a belt. Today. Right now. On the way to the airport. No big deal right? So we walk BACK up to the other barber shop and then meet up with the boys to buy a belt, because we have “plenty of time”. Meanwhile, the barber gave Harrison a lollipop for his good behavior. Justin learned from the last time that he had to ask for a lollipop for Ella as well (because, fairness); however, the barber WOULDN’T LET HIM HAVE ANOTHER ONE. This, my friends, is what we call an injustice. On we go to the store to get a belt, except that the store has no belt for four year old boys. It does however, have LOTS of toys. Ella happened to find a baby doll that she NEEDED to own. If I was given a reprieve in the coffee shop for her disappointment, I was punished twofold for making her leave that store without the baby doll. Justin promised Ella that if she was a good girl on the airplane that Uncle Patrick would buy her a baby doll in Pittsburgh. (It turned out that there was no need for Patrick to buy any dolls that weekend.) So now, still 40 minutes from the airport, we have a little girl who is distraught at the unfairness of life and lack of baby dolls in her world, along with a little boy whose pants won’t stay up. Instead of just heading to the airport at this point, Justin decided to pay some bills. So, we went to TWO different banks, and then just for fun, Justin told me he needed to stop at the grocery store. I was just about to lose my mind at this point. He returns from the grocery store with flowers and a balloon for his sister because it happened to be her birthday. Try telling a two and four year old that the balloon in the car is NOT for them. Try it. I dare you.

Our next stop was to my sister in law’s place of employment where we delivered flowers and the balloon very quickly because even Justin recognized the value of time at this point in our trip.

We had just enough time at that point for me to spill my coffee on my shirt (it was the Dunkin’ Donuts one-that’s what I get for going commercial brand-the coffee shop one stayed nicely in its cup and in my mouth) before we arrived at the airport. The good news is that we made it just in time to board the plane. Justin perceived this as enough time to get another coffee and go shopping in the airport bookstore. I actually boarded the plane with a double stroller, a car seat, two toddlers, four carry on bags, and no husband. He eventually made it and could not understand for the life of him why I was exhausted and frustrated.

I am exhausted and frustrated all over again, so you’ll have to check back to read about all the damage we did when we actually landed in Pittsburgh. That city will never be the same.