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.
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).
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.
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.