2 Moms. 5 kids. 1 van. 3 weeks. 3000 miles. Are we amazing or are we crazy? You decide.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Birthday Gone Bad

September 7, 2007

My birthday started out earlier than I had planned. J woke up at quarter to nothing. I let him live for a couple of reasons: he’s three, and he’s not my kid. He’s a very noisy child, and brings his own percussion everywhere we travel. The bright side to waking up so early was that P had promised me her specialty breakfast—pancakes. I opened up my laptop to check for birthday greetings. JaxDad is in the last couple of months of a one-year excursion to Djibouti (7 hours ahead of us), so I just knew he would have sent me an email to find when I woke.

No such luck. Men just don’t get it.

And then my daughter told me we had no eggs for the pancakes.

Fine. Plan B. We’d have the same breakfast we’d eaten every day so far—bagels, oatmeal, toast. Not so much of a birthday celebration, but that was fine. The saving grace would be the nice lunch that we’d promised ourselves in Philadelphia. Not too nice, because we were accompanied by the rabble. But nicer than peanut butter and jelly.

Changing breakfast plans, getting our ducklings dressed and lined up and ready to go, and my cousin’s lack of coherence in the morning meant that we didn’t get out the door until 8:30, which was cutting it fine for our deadline to pick up tickets to Independence Hall. And then, as the cousin said, we took the scenic route through a part of town that wasn’t very scenic. Even with the historic tree.

We made it through Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell. J made up for the early wake-up call by pointing out the crack in the bell, and telling us all “I didn’t break that.” Since he does break a good many things, I guess he thought that needed to be made clear.
I had asked at the visitors center where a good, kid friendly restaurant was for lunch, and they were very helpful. It was a few blocks away, so we set off.

On the way there, AtlMom and I had a brief conversation about afternoon plans. Our recollections differ. I heard her say that she wanted to go back to the cabin after lunch. She claims that she said we should consider, because some of the kids were fading. In any case, it was clear that my plans for the day had continued to fall apart.

We made it to the restaurant, and it was packed. When I told them we were a party of seven, the hostess told me that it would be 10 to 15 minutes. I might be imagining the slight sneer on her face as she said it, and then again, I might not. The children were as patient as hungry children generally are while waiting in a restaurant. As they created havoc, the servers ducked past them with food, giving us and them the hairy eyeball.

This was not working out as I had planned. In fact, it was too much. I gave up.
I knew that the relaxing birthday lunch I had envisioned was not going to be relaxing in a nice restaurant with 5 kids. So we left. As we walked back to the car, my husband, with impeccable timing, called to wish me a Happy Birthday. I was able to vent my frustrations without getting sent to jail for child abuse. I don’t think it was the birthday call he had envisioned. We did go back to the cabin, as it was obvious that everyone needed a rest. After a nap, things looked much better, and we were able to have a birthday celebration for dinner. Tomorrow we will regroup and try Philadelphia again.


Anonymous said...

You guys are surviving figuring out the needs of 7 different people with 76 different goals and interests levels very well. I'm glad you have made it past the first hurdle with out "Pulling this van over and not driving ONE.MORE.INCH. until everyone behaves.....or did you have to use that one already???

(I got to practice that one Saturday as I drove the girls to see Wisecrow at work on his birthday. It is an hour drive and we had not made it 4 blocks before they got 3 warnings....but I was able to bring him live children for his birthday.)

Crazy Redhead in Houston

JaxDad said...

It has been a real treat experiencing this trek vicariously through the blog. There's not much new in Djibouti, so seeing the photos and reading the reports is the highlight of my day. Having grown up in a military family, I was exposed to several of the historic sites that my kids are seeing for he first time.

And JaxMom is right: men just don't get it. But I did call. This man gets how much women like to have conversations.

For the record, and benefit of this worldwide audience, I absolutely adore my bride!

A little about me: I am a Soldier assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, known in conversation as CJTF-HOA. We have Americans from all 4 branches of the Department of Defense, plus officers from Britain, France, Korea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles, Mauritius, Romania, Germany, and perhaps one or two that escape me at the moment. We operate out of Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion camp in Djibouti City. The countries that we have people working in are Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Seychelles. All of this is unclassified information that is available on the CJTF-HOA website, http://www.hoa.centcom.mil/

Ethiopia recently celebrated, and is continuing to do so, the new millennium. They use the Coptic Christian calendar that is based on the Julian calendar, so their dates run about 7.5 years behind the western world. Ethiopia, as their tourism ads say, has 13 months of sunshine. I'm strongly biased in favor of Ethiopia, having spent 6 months working there.

Most Americans think of drought and mass starvation when they think of Ethiopia. The irony is that those events, while true, were a result of the communist government of the Derg. Ethiopia is returning to a capitalist economy, so the threat of crop failures is lessened.

Where I meant to go with that was that they have some truly incredible food. If you find an Ethiopian restaurant, I recommend the tibs with injera.

Duty calls. More later.

Anonymous said...

I think the current term is "wife...."
"bride" is the term of "the day" as we do not
call our wonderful husbands our "adoring grooms".
It is just terminology that sounds like our FIL :)