Upon our arrival in Fort Wayne, we set up camp at my parent's house and prepared for a week of house-sitting for them while they traveled to California. All of my younger siblings were still in school (much to their chagrin) and required mucho attention to see that they remained fed, clothed, and happy. Mornings began pretty early with a cacophony of numerous alarm clocks going off in the various rooms of the house, none of which roused a response from the occupants sleeping in the adjacent beds. After silencing that symphony from hell, the children were herded out of bed and told to be downstairs, dressed, and ready for breakfast in 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes later, I would find myself alone in the dining room while a bleary-eyed Sophie sat on the couch in the next room staring at the wall with no sign of life other than the occasional blink. Eventually the stragglers would make their way down to the breakfast table, eat casually, and then sit in a stupor until I shouted at them to get in the car. A madcap race to the minivan reminiscent of It's A Mad Mad Mad World would ensue. If the neighbors were to glance at our driveway outside, they would see an open minivan door with a jumble of various limbs, backpacks, and faces trying to shove their way inside. Once everyone was inside, I would madly drive to first the high school and then the grade school in the hopes of getting everyone to their respective institutions of learning on time. I succeeded about 90% of the time.
|Emma charming Uncle Mark while eating dandelions.|
During the day, Paul was working remotely at the house and required a quiet work environment so he could complete conference calls. So, I would take the children on various errands, outings, and play dates around the city of Fort Wayne. Luckily, my sister Sophie had a fairly light work schedule during that week so we were able to hang out with her quite a bit. We even discovered this new coffee shop where a beautiful, clean, play room is provided for the children so the parents can sit, relax, drink coffee, and watch their kids play. Matthew loved it and did not want to leave because they had a full train set.
I also arranged to spend a generous amount of time with my best friend and her four kids. Shannon and I have been friends since my family first moved to Fort Wayne. We were married within two months of one another and were each other's maid/matron of honor. Shannon and her husband James are Matthew's godparents; Paul and I are the godparents of their son Edward. I love her and her sweet little family dearly and wish we could see them more often. In the meantime, we try to get together as often as we can and speak on the phone once a month. For our first get-together over this visit, Shannon, Sophie, and I took the kids to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. Matthew was so excited to go and Emma just went with the flow. In the end, I think Emma actually enjoyed the zoo more than Matthew. She has always loved animals but when she found herself surrounded by creatures of all shapes and sizes, she was in nirvana! We spent five hours there and she was engaged the entire time!
All the kids were well behaved and got along great. Matthew and Josie were quite the pair, strolling through the various exhibits together. I would follow behind them and listen to portions of their conversations.
Josie: "Matthew, this is bamboo. The pandas eat it."
Matthew: "Bamboo taste bad!"
Josie: "You're right! But don't worry, Matthew! You don't have to eat it."
|Emma was NOT shy about crawling up the tree fort. We had trouble getting her to come back out!|
The only mishap of the day occurred at the petting zoo. One of the goats grabbed a tuft of little Edward's hair from behind and yanked his head backwards. The poor kid was so shocked by this that he started sobbing "BAD GOAT!" and wanted nothing more to do with the petting zoo. I don't blame him. Sometimes those goats are a bit aggressive!
On a positive note, I have never been able to convince Matthew to enter a petting zoo. He has always been afraid of the animals. However, after a little encouragement from Josie, he grabbed a brush and had a grand-old-time grooming the goats. I had trouble getting him to leave. Emma, however, was very suspicious and hated the goats nibbling on her feet. She preferred to maintain a high perch on my shoulder.
Before too long, it was time to leave the zoo and pick up the siblings from school. My kids passed out in the car on the way back to the house - a true sign of a successful day of play!
I'll continue with Part III shortly. For those who missed it, Part I can be found here!