Sunday, January 16, 2011

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

In the middle of all of the birthday partying...

Camille's Sleepover was on a Friday Night:

And then, because I am insane, Jules' Halo Sleepover was the Next Night...(this is right before all the boys surprised him by breaking into "I Sent a Bottle of Sparkling Apple Juice to Your House" from the Worst SNL Skit Ever...instead of the traditional "Happy Birthday." Jasper, of course, is center stage, and yes, he sang the stupid song, too.  There is a line in the song that goes, "Did you get it?" and that was Jasper's role. The look on Jules' face (he's in the monster t-shirt) says he is suspicious that something is up. 

It is a tradition on our house that the birthday presents (from family) be unwrapped in what used to be the Family Bed but is now blissfully not the Family Bed at whatever ungodly hour Jeff's schedule dictates.  On Jules' birthday, Jeff had to be out of the house around 7:00 is Jules with his Ipod.

And here is what Joel looked like at that time of the morning :).

We have also been anniversary-ing.TWENTY-FIVE YEARS!! The Big One.  Camille took this picture on our anniversary (wearing the hats Ellie made us, of course) and at the last minute, Jasper stuck a nerf gun barrell under Jeff's nose, and oddly it was me that winced.  Because it is apparently illegal for anyone to take a decent picture of me, that's why.

Jeff spent our anniversary working, and I spent it parenting and then taking Camille to ballet.  After ballet, we met at our favorite Thai restaurant (with Camille) for dinner.  I didn't boo-hoo about it because we had a little getaway planned.  Not a Big Getaway, mind you.  We were invited on a Big Getaway with some dear friends who were celebrating their 20th anniversary - a cruise. 

But we:
a) Are afraid to get too far away
b) Don't have enough time to get too far away
c) Don't have the money to get too far away....too much going on and too many travel expenses associated with Ellie's string of auditions coming up soon.

No Problem.  That's what being married and making a family is all about right? 

I agonized online for weeks over where we would go for a quick getaway.  Where we live, we are less than two hours away from the Texas Hill Country, a lovely and peaceful place that plays host to a ridiculous number of cottages, bed and breakfast inns, etc.  We had our choice of river fronts, lake fronts, tip tops of hills, name it.  When I say I agonized, I mean I really agonized.  Did we want to go romantic and frilly nestled in the heart of a little hilltop village?  Or did we want to go for cozy and private in the middle of the woods?

In the end we went for cozy and private. I don't know. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we seem to live in Grand Central Station.  Also, we've had a couple of awkward bed and breakfast stays that I won't bore you with here.

So.  We picked a cedar cottage in the woods.  We were charmed from the moment we opened the door.  The owners had built it themselves and left a little scrapbook documenting the entire process, which we found very interesting. We really appreciated all of the details and craftsmanship of the cabin after looking at the scrapbook. Also? There was a hot tub on the covered porch.

There were two other cabins on the property and they both had hot tubs but neither of them were covered.  It rained the entire time we were there and I kept thinking about how jealous the other cabin guests must have been over my ability to think ahead and go with the covered porch with the hot tub.  Yay for me! This was the morning view from my hot tub.

It was foggy and drizzling that first night in the hot tub.  We were surrounded by woods and hills.  The fog rolled in like waves on a beach, swirling around the trees and crawling up our deck. The rain pattered on the tin roof.  The fog and mist were literally glowing, emanating a mother-of-pearl sheen illuminated by the light of the thought I was going to say moon, didn't you?  That would have been lovely.  But it wasn't a moon.  It was the most gigantic lit-up cross I have ever seen in my life.  A hilltop church set that thing alight every evening, and let me tell you, you couldn't avoid staring at it.  It was really something.  I wondered if it was placed there for any sinning that might be taking place in any hot tubs in the general vicinity...

There was a cozy fireplace and it was fireplace weather...ours was blazing the entire time we were in the cabin, which unfortunately, wasn't as often as we would have liked, but I'll get to that in a minute...

The other neat-o thing about the cabin was the shower.  It wasn't an outdoor shower, you got to it by going through the adorable little bathroom, but it FELT like an outdoor shower.  It was shaped like a round, wooden cistern, and indeed, you could see it from the outside...the little scrapbook said creative carpentry had attached it....and the roof was glass.  When you looked up, sky, trees, rain, and on the morning I took this picture, ice!  I got to watch it melt as the steamy shower warmed the glass.

The website described the cabin as "Blissfully Isolated!"  But it was not quite isolated enough.  While our cell phones didn't work well enough from the cabin for us to actually have phone conversations with anyone...they did work well eough to ring.  And ring they did (and really - a big shout-out thank you to all of you who called). The only way any actual communication could take place was with a short climb up a hill.  In the rain.  Which we did. Repeatedly.

The first round of calling had to do with details involving the whereabouts of the two youngest kids and how to get them from point A to point B as there had been some confusion and Ellie had been left with Jasper who had refused to go to point A and now Ellie was trying to leave the house to get to her Point A and obviously couldn't leave him alone and the two middle boys were at a separate Point A and....yeah....several hikes up the hill later, it was resolved and she drove him to his Point A where he should have gone in the first place and then headed towards her Point A.

Jeff and I then headed out to a very late lunch or early dinner, depending on how you looked at it, and while we were enjoying said late lunch or early dinner, Jeff's phone rang. 

"It's Ellie," he said.

Ellie really only ever calls Jeff if she's trying to avoid speaking to me.  And the only reason she ever tries to avoid speaking to me is if she has something to say that she thinks might make me go a little nutters.  So when I heard Jeff say, "Are you hurt?"  I WENT A LITTLE NUTTERS.

She had come upon a freeway accident as it was happening, during rush hour, in the rain, and in her attempt to avoid smashing into the screeching car in front of her, she had smashed into the divider.  And pretty good, too, because the car didn't drive.  I mentioned it was raining, right?  And that it was rush hour?  And that she was on a crowded freeway?  Just sitting there waiting for someone else to smash into her?  Holy cow.  I was a mess.

We got into our car and began what would normally be an hour-long journey to get to her.  In the rain and during rush hour, it was more than an hour.  AND I WAS NUTTERS THE ENTIRE TIME. She kept us updated on the phone...the police are here but they're up in the main accident...okay, now they're here...they won't let me call a tow truck because they need one of their contracted towers to clear the scene...traffic is backed up....there are firetrucks, ambulances, flares....BIG MESS.

Me:  Do you even have a jacket?  (She never has a jacket.)

Ellie:  I'm fine.  (That means, "No, I don't have a jacket but I'll never admit it.")

We arrived at the scene, which WAS quite alarming as it was a pretty horrific wreck, but the police officer had told Ellie that miraculously, he didn't think anyone up ahead had been critically injured.  We had to pass the whole thing going in the opposite direction, exit, and then hit her side of the freeway.  Let me tell you, driving past a big accident, knowing that your kid is in it, even if you're talking to her on the phone at the time and know she's a traumatic experience.  We pulled in just as they were letting traffic begin to go by, and just as Ellie's car was hoisted up on a tow truck.  We have AAA, but the police officer wouldn't let Ellie call them.  He told her they needed to clear the scene pronto - and a contracted tow truck came and got her for a negotiated contract highway robbery rate of $120.  We followed. He drove her and her banged up car to a negotiated contract body shop which turned out to be closed and locked up....and dumped her and her banged up car ON THE STREET. Sheesh.  AAA came shortly after and towed the car to our house, another hour away....where everyone was surprised to see us and was all like, "Hey! What are you guys doing back from your vacation?" 

The car, which is my sister's car, by the way, and NOT Ellie's, is one that Ellie was borrowing with the intention to buy.  It is totalled. Also?  Only carried liability insurance.  So?  We now have to pay to fix the car.  But I'm going to tell Ellie not to pay whatever my sister is asking because the freaking car has been in an accident and has depreciated greatly in value...I'll let you know how that goes.

Several hours later, because we aren't quitters, that's why, we drove back to our cabin in the woods and soaked in the hot tub beneath the neon cross. The two little people were safely tucked in bed at my agitated sister's.  Ellie was home with her two brothers, with friends and family checking in.

The next morning, we slept in.  Traumatic events like vacations can zap all your energy, you know.  When we woke up, Jeff fixed me coffee and a bagel with lox and cream cheese.  Then he started the hot tub for me (he's not a big hot tub fan, himself) and even wired up a sound system so that I could listen to some relaxing John Frusciante on the deck while I soaked.  He wandered off to play his guitar and I sat in the mist and listened to John croon over the rain....I almost let myself relax and that was a huge mistake.

After a few minutes Jeff walked out wearing The Look.

"What is it?" I said.

"Well, I just took a little hike up the hill..."

"Who called?" I asked.

"Your sister," he said.

This could only be bad.  She was still a little pissy over Ellie totalling her car so she wasn't calling to wish us a happy anniversary, of that I was pretty dang sure.

"Well,"  he said.  "She said she's headed to the house to pick up Joel and take him to the emergency room."

That's right, folks.  This was a completely separate emergency from the previous night's catastrophe involving, unbelievably enough, a completely different teenager in an unrelated incident. 

Turns out, after Jeff called Ellie for the details, we learned it wasn't Joel but Jules.  My sister believed it was Joel right up until the moment Jules actually got in her car.  Believe me, if I could go back in time and give them different names, I would.  This isn't the first time we have thought the wrong brother was involved in some emergency because when you're hysterical, "Joel's been hurt!" and "Jules' been hurt!" sound pretty much the same.

The entire story is still dribbling out in spurts, but basically, according to The Joels, it is something like this.

It was 3:00 A.M. and the boys were still awake because the parents were gone and the little people were at Auntie's and Ellie was in the garage apartment recovering from the wreck trauma that had taken place merely hours before.  Joel threw a dirty sock at Jules' face.  Jules responded by "doing a Matrix move" on Joel.  Joel responded to the Matrix Move by saying that was the lamest Matrix move he had ever seen in his entire life.  He retrieved his long, black Morpheus coat that he had, by luck, purchased earlier that day at a Goodwill Store, in order to demonstrate a much more impressive Matrix move.  He demonstrated the much more impressive Matrix move.  Everyone in the room (Joel and Jules and possibly Ranger the dog) agreed that this was a much more impressive Matrix move or series of Matrix moves.  In fact, Jules said, "Dude, I think I broke my finger when I hit the wall."  Then they went to bed.
The End.

No, not the end.  The next afternoon, Ellie dragged the boys out of bed because well, it was afternoon and such as she was, she was the adult on the scene.  She saw Jules' finger and it looked incredibly broken.  Both boys, being male and sharing the irritating male quality of downplaying Basically Everything, agreed the finger was merely dislocated.  Ellie, however, was unconvinced due to the "extreme angle, swelling, and discoloration" of the appendage.  She googled "dislocated fingers."  She called her boyfriend who is a soccer player and is always dislocating something or other.  She came to the general conclusion that the finger was not dislocated and was indeed broken and phoned her aunt who says Ellie then told her that Joel (not Jules) had broken his finger.  Then my sister (not wanting to call me because we've already established the fact that I am pretty much the last person anyone wants to talk to in an emergency) called Jeff, who hiked up the hill, and then back down and over to the hot tub wearing The Look.

Over the next several hours, we hiked the hill a few more times to talk about where insurance cards could be found, to talk to the hospital admitting office about what our address is (that's right - he didn't know - and he's 13...note to self....) and social security numbers and birth dates, etc.

Then there were calls where my sister complained about how long she was spending in the ER with my one kid the very day after my other kid totalled her car.  She's sensitive. 

Then there were calls about the results of the X-Ray and the fact that the finger is very impressively broken beneath the growth plate and will need surgery and pins, etc.

The only thing left that could possibly have made the time anymore romantic than it already had been, was the ensuing discussion over what the hell our insurance would cover (90% after the we're out $2,000 right off the bat and did I mention the wreck from the night before??) and then the next morning we got up and drove home because the getaway was freaking finally over.  Now?  I need a vacation.  Also?  We could have taken a very lovely cruise (or two) for what this getaway will end up "costing" us in the long run.

You know, when the kids were little it was very hard for us to "get away" and we rarely accomplished it.  The fact that we believed in extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping and that we had five kids (I have spent almost 10 years of my life breastfeeding) meant that it wasn't practical for us to get away for more than an afternoon or so for a very, very long time.  Now that our youngest is six years old, and our oldest is eighteen years old, and thank god nobody is breastfeeding (for several years now, in case you're wondering) you would think it would be easier.  But it isn't.  The teenagers are wonderfully independent and definitely less needy.  But they manage Bigger Trouble.  They don't mean to.  There have been lots of sincere apologies and they genuinely feel badly about the way our getaway turned out.  But still.  They're not breastfeeding - but can they really be left alone?  I'm still thinking about it...right now, I'm thinking NO.

I used to hear people say they wouldn't find peace until the grave (hey, we're Jewish and perky that way).  And I would think, "Well, that is a dang depressing thing to say....I will never grow old and say that."  Well, on December 15 I grew old. And then today, as we drove home from our getaway, I found myself thinking that the only time I'll ever catch a break is when I'm dead. 

I know how awful this sounds, but after a getaway like I've just had?  It gives me something to look forward to.

Okay - Dudes - don't take me too seriously - I don't and that, my friends, is the only reason I'm not currently residing in a psyche ward.  We don't need any suicide hotline intervention here.  A Real Vacation, however, would be lovely. See if you can arrange that. In the meantime, here's a little Frusciante to relax you.


  1. ::clicking slipper-clad heels together:::

    I love my boring life, I love my boring life, I love my boring life.

    So glad everyone is okay, and I do understand not being able to get away.. then worrying when you do and... yeah.


  2. HOLY COW!! I can't believe that all that happened...during your anniversary get-away! NOT FAIR!!!

  3. I drove past that accident right after it happened-about the same time a SAPD started throwing about 2 dozen flares in a seemingly random pattern.
    I was only about 10-15 minutes behind Ellie leaving my house. If I had realized she was there I would have pulled over :(

    As for the rest...((HUG)) you know I'm here to watch kids, bring dinner yadda yadda yadda

  4. Ami and Amy - thanks for commiserating! That doesn't look like it is spelled correctly. Thanks for comiserrating! That's not right, either. Thanks for commisserating! Hmmmm...take your pick of those 3. K - I'm flying solo all week....I'll let you know. Calling the surgeon tomorrow....and Ellie has a ton of chamber rehearsals and...NO CAR.

  5. I go in to San Antonio on Tuesday and Thursday--maybe can help ferry Ellie? Let me know.

    and, overall--UGH! really, really sorry. this is so not what you needed.

  6. This is very nice blog. I like It.
    At Arctic Home Living, you can relax your mind, body and soul with our hot tubs and spas. We provide customers in the Fairbanks, Anchorage and surrounding areas with quality-made hot tubs, hot tub accessories and hot tub service.

  7. OK, really hot tub accessories? Maybe it's time to monitor your comments - I believe you have been spammed, Carol. I mean "this is a very nice blog" Wow.

    Anyway, there are no words. I guess that would be my greatest worry, that something would happen to my little one if we decided to go away for the weekend. I guess now is just not the time.

    I am here if you need anything, truly.

  8. Your life is one continuous adventure to feed your writing habit! Just imagine how dull it could be . . . no, that might really send you to a pysch ward!


  9. If you're wondering, I'm no longer jealous of your bohemian lifestyle. I think that I'll stick with my conservative crazy rules with my children on lock down 1/2 the day. Seriously, I'm now afraid to have teenagers. My one blessing is that my parents are close by and babysit a lot. I need to keep them alive for 13 more years.
    Okay, gotta go. I need to check out Hot Tub Accessories. Do you get a cut for every hot tub that they sell?
    Your friend, m.

  10. Well, I was all ready to read a new long post, but no, I did not need all this to be happy! Good luck nurturing and not breastfeeding (I still am, though I wonder how my daughter still gets anything out of there) and really looking after them (away or close by...) and long live Jeff to be around when no one wants to be calling you...
    (oh and long live your sister too!) and did I mention congratulations on your anniversary?

  11. OMG, I am exhausted after reading this! It was exactly like an episode of The Middle or something. I am so impressed that after Ellie's accident, you went right back!

    The most horrifying part of this whole story, though, is the neon cross lighting your hot tub experience. Hands down.

  12. Holy cow? This whole post calls for stronger language. Holy s***! You just experienced some of the greatest fears I have for my teenage boys.

    As for the giant cross illuminating the hot tub, it would be a good prop in a horror movie.

  13. I've said many times (to myself) and outloud to others....once you have a child, you'll never truly relax again for the rest of your life. It appears you're proving me correct ;-}