Mess Cat’s Back in Town…..For Good

Mess Cat is back in town.

I am ecstatic.  And relieved.  And so happy.

Mess Cat and Aub celebrating the fun of being together--from now on!

Mess Cat and Aub celebrating the fun of being together–from now on!

Today was the first day since my sister and her family moved back home that they’ve let themselves slow down.  Forget about packing, cleaning up their old house, meeting service people at the new house, unpacking, making decisions about where to put what, assessing what still needs to be done…..today they put all that aside and relaxed.  Just for a little while.

We met for a fun lunch at the pizza place that is quickly becoming “our” place to hang out with family and friends.  We skipped the Game Room (insert huge sigh of relief here), because we had much more fun ahead of us.  After a leisurely lunch of stuffing ourselves silly with pizza, salad, and dessert pizza, we walked next door to the movie theater to see “Despicable Me 2.”  (Remember last night I told you my record of two years not seeing a movie at the theater was coming to an end?  Well today it did.)  I was glad I took my “carry around in my van” sweater in with me, as it was very cold in there.  Just wish I had worn shoes other than flip flops.  My feet were freezing by the time we left.

Oh but the fun.  The movie was entertaining, and how good it was to sit and laugh with the very people whom I’ve cried with so much over the past few years.  I mean belly-bustin’ laughs.  If you’ve seen it, did you see the “Isaac” from Love Boat reference?  That cracked me up.  And when they played “YMCA” I thought our little guy was going to jump out of his seat.  That’s his new favorite song y’all.  He plays it over and over and dances his little heart out over that one.  In that moment, seeing delight and recognition all over his face, it was perfection.

I came home full.  My heart was full.  In a good place.  I was thinking about how relaxed I felt and wondering why.  I mean, I came home to a clean full dishwasher and another load’s worth in the sink and laundry that always needs doing.  (When I finally get all the clean ones off the couch, the crew wants to know who’s coming over.)  So it wasn’t that I’d reached a point that I’d earned a day off.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, and then I remembered the laughter.  And sitting next to my sister, not trying so hard to savor it until the next time as I usually do, but instead enjoying it and anticipating so many more times like this–knowing it could now happen on just about any given day.  She and my big brother (BIL) and nephew are like my favorite cozy blankets on a gray winter day.  Comfortable, comforting, and reassuring.  They are family and dear friends.  All the best of each all rolled into one.

We’ve spent so much time over the past four years with them making the trip back and forth–two and a half hours each way…..on a good traffic and rain free day.  Making that trip, trying to pack in as much as they could in their time here–first with Daddy, then helping Mama, and then during Mama’s HospitalStay, and finally house hunting so they could come “home.”  And now all of that is over.  There are still a few things left that will keep the trip up north a part of their lives, but now they’re driving in the right direction.  My sister laughed about driving back to work on their old house up there yesterday–finally on a Saturday she didn’t hit traffic either way–and that was because she was headed in the opposite direction of what she usually travels on both trips.

Today we were all relaxed.  The only time restraint was the movie schedule, and hey, if we missed the 2:15 there was another one shortly after.  We had no intense conversations about anyone’s health or estate business or decisions that MUSTBEMADENOW.  It was laughter and getting up and down for pizza and choosing seats in a movie theater and walking in the drizzle from one to the other.  It was children’s eyes lit up with laughter and wonder and laughing ourselves, appreciating the humor put in just for us.  It was–GOOD.

And because it was good, I’m thinking I will sleep well tonight.  I hope so.  That’s something that doesn’t come easily anymore.  I learned something today from the movie.  Without giving anything away I hope, I learned that a little sweet can turn a monster into a cutie pie.  And I think I saw that today–it was a sweet day, no tension, no anxiety, just good stuff.  And tonight, I find myself not my usual “get in the bed, PLEASE!” Mama Monster, but a whole lot more relaxed.

For that, we are all thankful.

2013 just took a turn for the better.  Finally.  Welcome home, Mess Cat and Family.  Today was a first of many, and that makes me happy happy happy.

Pizza and Pandora’s Box

It’s been a great week with family visiting, and tonight we celebrated with supper out at the local pizza and fun place down the road.  I believe we got our money’s worth at the pizza buffet.  I wondered if the cooks there were going to be able to keep up with all of us and our appetites.  Finally we were down to nothing but the “pizza bones” as Daddy used to call them.

Nothing but pizza bones left.  I like to eat mine--but not this girl.

Nothing but pizza bones left. I like to eat mine–but not this girl.

Then it was the moment that every parent dreads.  At least the parents of those children who really shouldn’t be sent in unsupervised.  (Though unfortunately many are.  Just keep reading.)  Game Room time.  Ah the days when my littles were unaware of that room and all that goes on in there.  How great were those times?  But alas, they passed all too quickly.

Because, inevitably, they figure it out.  And though you might wind up going to eat pizza and NOT playing games a time or two, sooner or later peer pressure (we’re talking YOUR peers here, folks) or a party invite is going to open the door to that Pandora’s Box that is a carnival and gambling central all rolled into one.

So as we were doling out tokens (just a few, that’s all we can stand–us adults I’m referring to), the adults were having a conversation about who was going to go in.  Literally those words–GO IN.  As if Game Room Duty is like going into a war zone.  Ahem.  Discussion about whose forte’ it is to serve in this capacity was also held.  Ha.  As IF.

My sister-in-law was going in for their guys, while my brother stayed with their youngest.  I looked at Aub, my teenager, and gave her the option–you sit here with our things or you go with them.  I didn’t raise a girl with no sense.  She chose the sitting at the table job.  Well, obviously.

This is usually my husband’s or brother-in-law’s specialty, but being as neither was with us, I was stuck.  I followed my little guy in.  Our Princess was already playing the basketball game and planning to head to Skeet Ball after.  My guy headed to this contraption.

Push faster! Faster!

Push faster! Faster!

The whole point was to push on this lever and the barrel would spin, and land on the amount of tickets you “won.”  Oh did I not mention the ticket obsession?  People we are not going in to play games and have fun.  No.  We are going in to WIN.  TICKETS.  Tickets.  To GET STUFF.  *sigh*

So I think this machine was broken.  Because after my guy won his ten tickets, it said (oh yeah, it talks to you), “Play again.  Push faster.  Good spin.  Push faster.  Faster!”  Oh my.

My buddy had wandered off in search of his next quick fix for tickets.  I heard a voice from behind me.  “You’re supposed to push it.”  I turned around.  And looked down.  This game advisor was not much bigger than my little guy.  So I shrugged and pushed it.  He sounded let down.  And a little indignant.  “You have to push it faster.  And KEEP PUSHING!”

Now I’m being intimidated by a seven year old?  I don’t get paid enough for this.  But I pushed and got like four tickets or something for my efforts.  Ready to move on, I hear the machine, “Play again.  Push faster.”  My advisor said in his deadpan voice now, “Uh, you’re not done.”  Oh-kay.  My Buddy had wandered back up, so I set him to work.  Pushing faster.   He had four turns on his two tokens, and I thought well, wow.  That’s all right.  I mean, value wise.  Ha.  As IF.

Next I joined my girl for her basketball game, which she enjoyed.  Then she wanted to try that ticket game.  She walked over and there was a young girl, maybe seven or so, just standing there.  I finally asked if she was playing.  She said she was holding it for her brother.  I didn’t see anyone heading our way, so I asked if we could play quickly and then give it back to her.  She shrugged and moved to the side.  My Princess put her tokens in and pushed.  She was pretty fast too, which was good apparently.  As it was spinning, I heard a voice that I recognized say, “Hey, I told you to guard the game.”  Yep, my advisor.  I wasn’t letting his sister take the rap on her own, so I told him that I’d asked to play, and that as soon as we were done, it was his.  And just like that, we WERE done.  One turn only.  I guess it was broken earlier.

When all the cousins were done, it was ticket cashing time.  At the wonderful counter filled with all kinds of amazing JUNK.  I am sorry, but have you seen the quality of what they are offering?  And the thing about this counter is, someone’s gonna leave crying.  It might be your child, upset that she didn’t have the 268 tickets required to get the four shiny plastic rings that would have been 4/1.00 at the dollar store…..or it might be you, crying out of frustration at the hemming and hawing that is going on in the selection of just the perfect combination of three army men that take 15 tickets and two Tootsie rolls that take 10, so that leaves your child 3 tickets and she MUST spend them.  Good times, good times.

And really they were.  Well, with the exception of me thinking I was being the “adult” by going in this room which I abhor with my children and winding up acting like a child, intimidated by a seven year old, and me begging (okay whining) my children to hurry up and just pick something already.  Yeah, except for that, a good night.

Because these cousins were kind to each other.  Our Princess had 20 tickets.  Which meant she could get four things that took five tickets.  (Math this late–I’m so proud.)  The only thing besides candy (which I nixed) was the army men.  Yay.  She was miserable, but we talked and she decided to get the army men and give them to her cousins.  My little guy “decided” (ahem) to give some of his army men to his cousin who didn’t get as many tickets.  (Peer pressure from Mama–does that have a name?)  Their older cousin, who had 60 tickets to spend, decided to spend almost all of his on our Princess and got her a bracelet and one army man for himself.  Now that’s the stuff you can’t pay for right there.

Number of slices of pizza to feed all of us:  roughly 37.5 minus some pizza bones

Times we adults got up to refill plates or drinks for little ones:  12 (okay, honestly? I lost count after 8.)

Times my littles had to go to the bathroom: 3 (yes, I only have 2 littles *sigh*)

Number of cuddles I had with my little nephew when I was returned from duty in that room: too many to count

Cost of Game Room per Army Man:  Something like 50 cents each?  (and one didn’t even have its head, y’all…..quality items, I’m just sayin’)

Value of the memories that will remain from tonight:  PRICELESS

And that is what makes it all worthwhile.