You might be forgiven for thinking that we are incapable of reading a map given that this year we drove south in order to go north. Yes, we drove to Tampa and Orlando to get to northern Michigan. Why not add 10 hours to our already 15 hour trip, right?! R. had dance nationals in Orlando so I shipped the boys up to my parents and packed her, all her costumes, make-up, and assorted dance paraphenalia as well as all of our clothing (warm weather and cold weather) for the month we were planning on spending in the UP, both dogs, the frogs in their aquarium, and a half van load of toys and books that I planned to dump on my small niece and nephews into the van and headed south to my sister's house in Tampa. I got smart and asked the vet for anti-nausea drugs for the carsick dog so the trip south with the traveling menagerie was pretty uneventful. We drove back and forth from Tampa to Orlando each day R. had to dance and I took my niece with me a couple of the days. She is as girlie as they come and she thoroughly enjoyed the glitz, especially loving the day that I told R. to take her onstage for the awards. Pretty sure I'm aunt of the year for that one. Oh, and if it means my sister will have to suffer through dance for years and years too, I will feel like my job is done.
Once the competition was finished for R., we re-packed the car with all critters, clothes, and dance junk but minus all the outgrown toys and books and hit the road. I was caravanning with my sister, S., who had asked specifically for R. to ride with her to help entertain her kids (6, 4, and 2). It was really rather pleasant to listen to the audio book I chose without the constant accompaniment of the binging and pinging noises of a Nintendo DSi acting as background noise. The dogs slept peacefully on the front seat (carsick dog was blissfully drugged once again) and I only ever heard unpleasantness when S. called me from her van to say she needed to stop for gas or food or whatever. Then I was treated to a screaming cacophony over the phone.
The trip ultimately took 3 days and because I was alone for all of it, it was not a bad drive. The first night we stopped at my dad's apartment in Atlanta. Almost as soon as we walked into the apartment, S.'s puppy Packer vomited right at my feet. She dragged him outside as I cleaned up puke not even of my own family's making, Miss Gatsby still being looped on her pill. When S. came back in with Packer, he promptly squatted and pooped in the middle of the family room and since we were screaming at him, moved into the kitchen to pee. Darned good thing that dad was in the process of moving out of that apartment. Because if it hadn't needed to have the carpet replaced before we got there (it did), it sure would have afterwards. Entertainingly, Packer was scared of the open concrete stairs to get up to the apartment so after each accident, S. had to either drag him down them or carry his heavy butt down them. After a day of screaming in her car, she was not in the best of moods that night. I, however, felt perfectly fine. ;-) The second night we spent at my in-law's. Luckily no dogs had accidents or I probably would never be welcome there again. We did have to try and shove Packer into Gatsby and Daisy's travel crate and that provided some hilarity since he didn't fit and kept making it cartwheel across the floor. We left him in it with it collapsed around him, rationalizing that it had mesh ends so he wasn't going to suffocate. Day three of driving was a repeat of days one and two and we were all terribly grateful to finally make it to the cottage.
We settled into our regular summer life once we got there with one big change. For the first year ever, we allowed W. and R. to drive the little boat all by themselves. They got their boating licenses last year and this year they earned a little freedom, at least for a while. We put their licenses in a plastic baggie that they stashed in a cubby in the boat and at some point the licenses must have blown out. Curtailed all their freedom and meant we had to run our own errands again so it was a bummer for all of us. But if their caution in the boat translates to driving a car, I feel much better about the fact that W. can take driver's ed as soon as next month.
One night I was out late picking up R. and we came back to the cottage after dark. I reminded myself to turn off the running lights as I came into the dock. Both of us went to our respective beds and went to sleep. About 2 hours later, my mother came storming into my room, woke me up, and accused me of not turning the lights off on the boat. As she grumbled about dead batteries and responsibility, I went downstairs to head to the dock. We grabbed a flashlight to light the way. I clicked it on and then off again. When it clicked off, the boat lights were no longer on. I asked if there was someone down on the dock but she told me not to be ridiculous and grabbed the flashlight. I admit I was being totally chickenshit, which is probably related to batshit crazy in my case but that's a whole other story, but I was sure there was someone there. Damn near wet my pants when we almost ran into my dad on the path from the dock, where he had been down turning the boat lights off. I kept bleating that I had turned them off and I didn't know how they turned on. No one believed me and I felt like a delinquent little kid. But lo and behold, the local poltergeist turned the lights on at least twice more in the night (turned out it was a loose connection) so I was completely vindicated.
The summer was filled with the usual swimming, sailing, and tennis fun. T. attended a 3 day kayak camp and according to him thoroughly enjoyed himself, except for how hard he had to work paddling. Uh, yeah, that's kind of the deal with kayaking!
We went out for pizza one night and looked away from the box just long enough for one ballsy seagull to snag an entire piece of pizza for himself. Unfortunately, he was also a discerning seagull and snagged a piece of the fantastic Greek pizza instead of going for the plain cheese. No wodner sea gulls are so rotund.
Miss Gatsby, who is also fat as a little toad (from lack of exercise, not from stealing pizza) played and romped with my mom's dog but continued to get fatter. I'm claiming she's got a glandular disorder but I think that might be a bit like me stuffing my face with cookies and then wondering if I have a thyroid problem. We might not share any DNA but it's good to know my dog emulates me in the ways that make us truly family.
T. spent the summer impersonating Nature Boy. He told my mom that I told him he only had to wash his pits so he didn't bother to soap any other parts. Obviously I have to be more specific with dirt boy. He also decided that plain old peeing on a stump wasn't enough of a break for the septic system so he was apparently regularly pooping in the bushes (thank heavens we're isolated on our bay!) until the dog busted him. I swear the child has an allergy to cleanliness.
Every night in my bed, I tried to claim alpha dog status but by morning it was clear I'd lost again. (And no, this is not a reference to my sex life; get your dirty minds out of the gutter.) Trying to share a single bed with two small dogs is not recommended unless you too like hanging your uncovered, goose-pimpled butt off the edge of the bed.
This summer I acquired a new name: Aunt DooDoo. Rather charming, don't you think? I suspect that I will be thanking my two year old nephew for that one for years to come. I'm pretty sure that translated to "Hey $hithead, I'm trying to get your attention." I could be misinterpreting though.
There were several statements this summer impossible to misinterpret. The best of these was when I had my friend's youngest with me in the boat. He told me that T. told him "If Ki-Bam (our boat) was nicer, we could pick up babes." So I looked at C. and asked him he he wanted to pick up babes. His response? "No. But T. does." Yeah, that's about right too. Of course, he'll have to start bathing and stop shitting in the woods for any girl in her right mind to be interested in him so I guess I don't have to worry any time in the near future.
The other unmistakeable comment this summer? Both W. and I signed up to play in the annual, just for fun Butzie Tournament. W. twisted his ankle rather badly in the first set but my partner (who is a phenomenal tennis player) and I made it to the finals. Before the last match, W. looked at me and said, "Good going mom. You can get second!" Brat! R. and I didn't get second. We won. So when we got home, T.'s comment on finding out that I'd brought home the crystal clock? "So I guess R. did all the work, huh?" Both boys are fired as my kids until further notice!
Other highlights of the summer included having a damsel fly land on my nose causing me to go just about cross-eyed. Better up close and personal with that bit of nature than with the skeeters and black flies though. W. got up close and personal with a nasty case of creeping crud from the water. He played stump the ER doctor one night and had us driving 45 minutes to see a dermatologist a few days later. Turned out to be a particularly virulent case of impetigo. He's still all polka-dotty from it, just how he intended to start high school, I'm certain. On the plus side, I now know that if I insult him to the point that he is laughing uncontrollably, blood draws are much easier. I suspect that the ER staff thinks we're completely loony tunes but they have no idea how much easier I made their lives!
This year we were up north for the annual Pirate Party and that was good fun to watch as a whole pirate flotilla motored up and down the channel, firing cannons, waving cutlasses, and lobbing water balloons. My friend J. and I went to the bar that night but we did not go in costume like so many other people. I fully intended to close one eye and say "Arrrrg" if I was called on it but my smart ass response was not needed, more's the pity.
And lest you think that my sister's dog is the only vomiter this year, I have to add that once I ran out of the good drugs for Gatsby, car travel suddenly got dicier. We took her 45 minutes to Sault Ste. Marie to the groomer and just before we pulled into the parking lot a horrific stench filled the car. I thought she'd pooped all over but it turns out that she had eaten poop and her stomach had finally rebelled. (And given her weight issues, I'm guessing poo is quite high in calories.) With my mother gagging, my kids hollering, and every one of us hanging a head out of the closest window in order to breathe, I pulled into the groomer. Every last one of them fled the car, including all four dogs, at top speed and left me to deal with the atrocious mess. We actually had to buy a bottle of Febreeze to keep in the car.
The last bit of fun this summer was the regatta. Sailing in it alone for the first time, poor R. had every sailing mishap possible short of capsizing (she ultimately took third though). The fact that she kept going back day after day was pretty impressive since I could hear the crying and shouting all the way at the dock on day 2. Rather a good thing that W. opted not to sail because I'm sure there would have been blows. Shortly after R. collected her trophy, we had to pack the critters back up and head home.
15 hours felt positively short compared to the 3 days it took to get up there. And the drive was uneventful if much noisier with the addition of the boys. Of course, just to remind me of her capabilities, the night we got home, R. up-chucked pizza all over the power room. I'm still trying to find paint that will cover those grease marks permanently!