April 18, 2006

Well, now--lunchtime, and I’m almost halfway done.

Which is pretty good, considering EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN BIRMINGHAM has called me this morning. Some of them twice. And one of them came by instead of calling. And people keep putting stuff on my desk, despite the fact that I hiss at them. Silly persons.

Anyway, I’m going to eat lunch and type this, so please excuse the grease stains and crumbs. Since this is so long, I'll put it in the extended entry for your ease of reading or to make it easier to ignore, or something.

So, the weekend? It actually started Thursday night. Seems that Jonathan needed a suit. He had a little blazer, but when we tried it on him, the sleeves hit him halfway up his forearms. Sometime in there the little stinker grew. Anyway, since he was going to be participating in a competition on Saturday, our congregation’s rule is that you need to dress up for it. I can kinda see this when it’s something like song leading or speech, but his event was going to be Bible Bowl, and it would seem there would be less need to put on a dressy appearance for that. I suppose it’s best to not have any exceptions--such things lead to time wasted trying to explain why one is one thing and not another thing. Or something.

In addition to a boysuit, Reba said that Catherine and Rebecca needed some shoes. I don’t know about that--they seem to have plenty of them scattered all over the house, but I am not one to quibble. In any event, we decided to make a run Thursday separately. We usually all go together, but there was so much to get done that I didn’t want to have to stand there shoe shopping with a bunch of girls and wind up with no time to get anything done.

So, Boy with me, Girls with Mom.


We’d go to JC Penney’s and find him something, mainly because Penney’s is just about the only place that sells suits for kids anymore. Apparently there’s a big demand for looking like a street urchin no matter the social setting. Whatever.

SO, on to Penney’s…but, wait. Hmm--what about… Say, down at the foot of the hill in the big shopping center, there’s an Old Navy. Maybe they have little kid blazers! So we stopped there first. Nope. Just thin cheap crap. Everything--all thin, all cheap, all crap. Next best thing to disposable. Well, poop. BUT WAIT--say, there’s a TJ Maxx nearby, too! (Twice the Quality Because We Have Twice the X!) Try that! Nope, not there, either. At least not in anything larger than a 4 Toddler. Wait just a minute--there’s an S&K Menswear right down from TJ Maxx! GO THERE! “Do you have anything in his [pointing at Boy as if a prize beef] size?” The saleslady shook her head and said sadly that they did not. “Well, is there any place close that might have something his size?”

“You should try Penney’s. That’s where we tell everyone to go when it’s for young men.”


What a great idea.

AFTER WASTING ONLY THIRTY MINUTES, we set out for the moribund Century Plaza over on the eastern edge of Birmingham. The place was once one of the grand malls in the area and always seemed packed, but now, not so much so. Even less on a Thursday night.

BUT, they did have suits.

Tried on one, but it was a double-breasted one. Boy like it, but I explained that a double-breasted suit was supposed to stay buttoned all the time. You don’t let it hang open DESPITE THE SLOB DAVID LETTERMAN’S CURIOUS AFFECTATION TO THE CONTRARY.

I think Letterman always wears some wonderful suits, and double-breasted suits really complement the frame of a tall thin man. But his stupid insistence on leaving them gapping open just makes him look like a goober, especially with that gap-toothed grin. Wear a single-breasted suit, ya big goof! And quit wearing those #$@^ light colored socks with loafers! You look like you’re channeling Cliff Claven!

ANYway, I guided Boy to something else, and we happened to find ONE nice dark charcoal suit with the stylish three-button coat and pleated pants. He looked very sharp--and then it was time for the shirt--white, button-down--of course! And finally, the tie. “Awww, Daddy, do I HAVE to wear a TIE!?”

“Oh, no, son--you don’t HAVE to, but if you don’t, Satan will rise up from the underworld and smite you and drag you kicking and screaming down into the uttermost pits of Sheol.”

I didn’t really say that. Although I think he probably thought that would have been a worthy alternative to actually wearing a tie. IN ANY EVENT, he found one he liked--a nice geometric pattern of grays and blacks and other colors, and one that you actually have to tie! What a man!

Flew home, and as I predicted, the girls were still not back. And, in fact, would not be back for hours. They got four pairs of shoes. In the interim, I packed. One undershirt, one pair of grippies, one shirt, one pair of socks. I don’t know why I only pack one change of clothes--even though we’re only being gone one day, everyone else seems to pack as though their moving away from home.

Next day, I got to be a home body!

Which meant that I didn’t get to stay at home at all, but rather spent the entire day running back and forth to the stores assembling junk food for the long, long road to Atlanta, because, as we all know, in the space of slightly over two hours, minivanloads of children have been known to starve completely to death.

And then there was the matter of Easter baskets.

Obviously, Rebecca and Ashley are getting too old for such things, but I knew I couldn’t exclude them or else they’d get their feelings hurt, so I bought four baskets, some small egg-motifed candy stuff that would be the same for all of them, and set about trying to find small presents that each one of them would like, and likewise would be small enough for an Easter Bunny to actually be able to carry, seeing as how the Easter Bunny does not have a magical sleigh or eight caribou to help him carry junk. So, Cat got a floppy stuffed duck and a travel checker set and some books; Jonathan got some Hot Wheels and a stuffed blue Peep (he’s too old for stuffed toys, too, but hasn’t quite figured it out) and some books; Rebecca got a stuffed bunny (although sadly it did not come with sauce piquant) and some books and a nice little manicure set; and Ashley got a small cute stuffed rabbit in an egg and a DVD (the Liz and Dick version of Cleopatra) and some books and a slightly different manicure set. Then I had to hide all this stuff in the closet until Saturday night when we got back.

Did all that, finished packing the van, and then set about to go get the children from school. The plan was to pick them up and then get Reba from the house (she was supposed to get off from work a few hours early) and then head out. First, check out Oldest, then run to the elementary school for Cat, then to the middle school for the Middle Two. Got them all, got them home, then we waited for Mom, who didn’t quite get off from work when she wanted. Left home about 4:15. Which, all things considered, was pretty darned good. And we didn’t leave anything behind, AND we didn’t leave the garage door standing open.


Made it by 7:30, and was promptly highly annoyed that there was no parking space in the hotel parking deck. And hadn’t been since Thursday. Went around to the lobby, dropped off the personnel and their impedimenta, and went looking for the parking deck I’d been assigned. Thankfully, it was not far away, and doubly thankfully, was not staffed by attendants intent on ripping me off. There were several folks who’d been forced to park in lots where the keepers demanded a 20 or 30 dollar ransom BEFORE letting them in the lot, despite postings of a $17 per day maximum charge. Thanks, friendly Atlanta!

Back to the lobby, got our keys, got upstairs, and unpacked. We’d missed two different award ceremonies, so the kids were a bit disappointed that they didn’t get to go pick up their medals for Good Samaritan (they all got the highest level on that), and Rebecca got a trophy for achieving the highest rating for oral Bible reading, and one of the biggest surprises, Ashley got a second place trophy for her scrapbook. Surprising, mainly because of the amount of time that was actually put into it, which, as you recall, was tiny, and done all at the last minute. No prize for the banner I worked so hard on, alas.

Anyway, I was sorta glad we'd missed it, because it allowed me to immediately go to the room, take off my clothes, turn the A/C down to “meatlocker” and watch cable television. The downside? Well, Jonathan was rooming with me, so cable television was light on news and information, and heavy on Disney Channel.

To bed at a decent hour, and due to the fact that our rooms did not interconnect with Reba and the girls’, we actually got some peace and quiet without having to deal with people traipsing through unannounced.

Up early, got our stuff repacked--since we have to check out, there’s no keeping the room as a base of operations after 12 noon, so all the effort expended to get everyone’s junk upstairs and unpacked has to be undone the very next morning and all the stuff put back into the van so we’ll be ready to go after the last award ceremony that night.


Dressed in our nice clothes--again, with no way to come back and change, if the kids had to be in something requiring nice clothes, it was just easier to wear them all day long. I had to give Boy a couple of pointers on suit-wearing: “You leave it unbuttoned when you sit down so it doesn’t bunch up, and then when you stand up, you button the middle button. On a two-button, you button the top one. And this is the way you tie your tie…”

Followed by one of those passing-of-the-torch moments that fathers and sons share, in which the man-lore of strangling one’s self with a brightly colored fabric garrote is passed down from one generation to the next. I don’t know if he could do it again without some help, but after he was all dressed and neat looking, I actually think he enjoyed wearing his suit and tie, protestations to the contrary. I noticed him several time throughout the day, making sure to properly unbutton and button his coat as he sat or stood.

Anyway, all of us grabbed a load of stuff and headed for the lobby, and after we got there, I proceeded on and walked to the van, stuffed in one of the rolling cases I’d brought with me, drove back around to the lobby, reloaded everything, then went and reparked, then walked back to the hotel. Which seemed to be uphill both ways, for some reason.

Breakfast, then. Or brunch. Tried to decide: food court, or lavishly overpriced breakfast buffet in the lobby? Since it was almost 11 and Oldest had her song leading competition at noon, it was decided to eat the buffet. The children made sure we got our money’s worth. You’d think we never feed them. I’d just about finished my big plate of scrambled eggs and sausage when Reba suddenly turned and asked Ashley if she had her sheet music. “Uh, no--it’s in my Bible Bowl book.” Which just happened to be one of those things that got packed away in the van when I brought it around. Which wouldn’t have been quite so galling had she not told the location in that way that indicates it was not her responsibility to keep up with such things. Grr.

SO, time for me to hoof it BACK over to the parking deck at the lovely SunTrust Plaza--“Soon as I get back, y’all leave and I’ll finish up breakfast with the rest of the kids.”

Out the door, with a big pile of sausage and eggs agitating in my gullet, at a near run to get to the deck and back in time. To the van, up with the door, find music, head back up the hill. Got there nearly purple with apoplexy, handed music to Oldest, who barely even acknowledged the stupid old sweaty fat man cluttering up the area with his presence. “You’re WELCOME, Ashley.” “Uh, thanks.”


She and Reba went on off and took Catherine with them, while I stayed behind with Bec and Boy. After allowing my churning stomach and pounding heart to regularize themselves, we finished up our food before going downstairs to wait.

Waited. They studied some of their Bible Bowl stuff and I watched people. Not too closely, though. Reba and Oldest and Youngest finally got out of their session and came and we waited for the next thing. “Do you want to go with us to do some shopping?”

That was probably on my list right above being pressed to death by anvils.

I told them to go on and Boy and Bec stayed behind with me. We waited.

Finally got time for the Q & A session, so we migrated back to the big ballroom, which, in a break from years past, held ALL the contestants, from 3rd grade to high school. Each team had its own judge, and the questions were called out an shown on two big screens at the front of the room. Still seems like it would be easy for the more mischief-prone team members to get a case of wandering eyes, but it went remarkably well except for one glitch when the question-caller forgot to ask everyone for their answers before revealing the answer on the screen. Boos seemed to be something of an inappropriate response to such a thing, but he handled it with aplomb.

As for parents, this setup meant that we were all pushed over to the sides of the room, but apparently this still didn’t stop people from playing along with the game. Unfortunately, instead of holding up a card with the letter of the answer, this seemed to make people want to call out the answers like they were on the Price is Right. That got an admonition from the emcee. Of course, that didn’t stop the COMPLETE IGNORAMUS who sat a few chairs down from me, who was either brain damaged or never completely grew up. The very first question, this stupid git started stamping his feet like a little kid and raising his hand like he knew the answer. AND CONTINUED DOING IT for the next sixty questions. Doof, it wasn’t funny the first time, and it got progressively less funny THE MORE YOU DID IT. To make matters even worse, I think he was with the same group that had the Angelina Jolie lookalike mom in it. She needs to watch who she hangs out with, or people will think she’s as weird as the real one.

Anyway, that got over with, and then it was time to wait. And eat supper. Then go back and attend the final award ceremony. Say, whaddya know! Oldest got another award--second place in girls song leading! So, overall, it was a pretty good convention, even with the parking situation. I had to pay to get out and come get the luggage, so I figured after the final ceremony was over, I’d have to pay again. Just the way things are. So, imagine my surprise after I sneaked out a bit early to go make the final trek to the deck that when I got to the exit, the attendant was on break, and the guard was there to let people out, and I DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY! YIPPEE!

To make matters even better, I finally had a map to look at of the surrounding area, and we were able to make it to the Interstate in about five minutes. For some reason, for all of the past years, it seems like we’ve had different directions on how to get out, but none so simple as taking one left and going straight. Go figure.

Home, pulled into Casa de Possum around 11 pm, unloaded, sent the children to bed, then went to bed myself. The Easter Bunny was just going to have to wait until in the morning--I felt like I had rocks in my eyesockets.

SUNDAY, the Easter Possum arose early and set about his task of leaving surprises for all the good little boys and girls, as well as my children. They all were awakened, and seemed quite taken with their gifts, even if Boy broached the subject that some kids at school believed parents were behind the treasure trove, which brought out a rabid and forceful denial from Catherine, who took the presence of baskets of goodies as prima fascia evidence of a gift-bearing mammal having been in the house.

On to church, then to Reba’s mom and dad’s house, where we had lunch, and afterwards I collapsed on the couch. Home, where I really REALLY wanted to collapse on the couch, but instead decided to have fun by doing laundry and disposing of another mouse I’d caught in the garage. Strange, but this time not only was there a mouse (making the total an even dozen now) but there was also a blue-tailed skink stuck on the trap with it. Boy, I bet they had a story to tell, if I could speak either mouse or skink.

Back to church that night, led singing, coughed through half of the songs, then on back home, more laundry, then to bed.

MONDAY, and yet another OFF-DAY! For some reason, the kids were out of school, and so I took off as well, with the intention of doing work, as I mentioned in the first post of this morning. Didn’t do any paying work, although I did manage to actually finish the laundry.

Which I think is pretty good.

Now then, time to get back to that paying work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at April 18, 2006 02:19 PM

In The Boy's new book, Weird Al and Kate Winslet sing a duet that makes me think of you -- I Need A Nap.

Posted by: Jordana at April 18, 2006 03:34 PM

Maybe so, but I think "Thus Quacked Zarathustra" would be much more entertaining.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 18, 2006 03:39 PM

"Thus Quacked Zarathustra" goes something like this:
Moo, Moo, Moo


Posted by: Jordana at April 18, 2006 03:47 PM

It's very catchy!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 18, 2006 03:49 PM