For us, 2017 seems to be a year of mini, semi-local trips. From visiting friends in O.H.I.O! and going to a wedding in O.H.I.O! before babysitting in D.C. (keep reading!), to a single night getaway at a 5-Star Hotel, we’ve been busy. And we still have two more mini trips planned for the rest of the year!
We began our most recent trip to D.C. by stopping outside of Cleveland to visit a close family friend’s wedding. Based on the parameters of the trip (timing, location, cost, etc.), we did the following:
- Rented a car and drove from Chicago to Cleveland. Cost = $279.82
- Stayed two nights in a hotel in Cleveland (suburbs). Cost = $189.18
- Flew from Cleveland to D.C. Cost = $156.40
- Drove our brother- and sister-in-laws’ cars, ate their food, and drank their booze while they were out of the country celebrating their 10-year anniversary. Cost = $2,300 (just kidding :))
- Flew from D.C. to Chicago. Cost = $168.40
- Total Approximate Cost for Lodging & Transportation = $793.80
After trying all sorts of combinations (planes, trains, and automobiles), we coordinated this trip to attend the wedding and to be able to watch our nephew and niece for a week. It was a whirlwind of events and travel in a short timespan, but we wouldn’t have done it any other way!
Monday – Day 1
We flew from Cleveland to Reagan in D.C. Cleveland really is turning (if not already) into Believeland. Sports fans are proud. The 2016 Cavs NBA title and the World Series appearance by the Indians last year really seemed to lift the spirits and attitudes within the greater Northeast Ohio region. Sports aside, the next most cherished thing – at least for me – is Great Lakes Brewery (yum). The airport, however, has seen better days. The United/Continental merger really hurt the airport; an entire terminal (D) didn’t seem to be utilized at all.
After landing in D.C., we grabbed our bags and took the Metro to the burbs. Mrs. BD’s Dad picked us up, and we made it to the house in about 10 minutes. Mrs. BD’s parents were staying with the kids for the first few days of the trip.
We quickly assimilated ourselves to the task at hand: getting the kids to bed. Then adult pizza and Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (mmm yum) while watching Ballers season one on HBO with the Rock. (Side bar: Ballers is good. Baywatch with the Rock, not so much, but it was made to be bad and that’s what made it good – kind of like Snakes on Plane with Samuel Jackson). Overall, an easy first day.
Tuesday – Day 2
A day of discovery, Mrs. BD and I had one day with Grandma and Grandpa to learn the kids’ (a.k.a. the Monsters) routine and schedule. Wake up at 7:30am. Breakfast followed by poopie in the potty (at least the term for the 3 year old). Drop-off at school. And take a breather. Seemed easy enough.
Mrs. BD had a work event in the coming weeks, so she worked remotely from the house. I took the week off from work, and made advanced arrangements the week prior with the local OrangeTheory Fitness. I booked the 12:00 class on Tuesday through Friday. This was meant to be my escape during the day (and something to do).
The morning started with Mr. Sun (name of the kids’ alarm clocks) waking up at 7:30am. I escorted (or rather was escorted by my nephew) to the bathroom; Mrs. BD took instructions from our niece. After poopies in the potty (and a strict regimen from my nephew on how to wash our hands), the kids got dressed for the day. Then came breakfast. The morning ritual today involved “rainbow O’s”, or more commonly known as Fruit Loops (a special treat from Grandma and Papa). The kids chased it down with milk.
Next came brushing our teeth (a.k.a. making monster noises and growls to open a 3-year old’s mouth in order to access his teeth). Overall, he did a damn good job with his monster noises; lets just say my teeth brushing skills could only progress in a positive manner over the next week.
We then had about 30 minutes to breathe before heading out the door for the drop-offs at school. My nephew and I read a book with Papa before Grandma and I got the two kids into the car.
On the way to school to drop off our nephew first, we received detailed directions (i.e., instructions) from my niece on which way to take. I was impressed; she knew her stuff: street names, number of lights, which direction to turn or which side of the street something would be on. The most important thing I learned: an X (nephew’s name) turn is a left turn; a Y (niece’s name) turn is a right turn. It made sense – as our niece tells us, she is always right. (And as her dad tells us, she is 6 going on 16.)
My mother-in-law and I dropped off our niece next. We utilized the kiss n’ride drop-off with the legions of other minivans and SUVs. I asked, “so now what?” My mother-in-law’s reply: “we drink.” They had a few long days with the kids – especially without school on Monday due to the holiday.
Returning to the house, I had a conundrum of decisions to make about what to do before my workout class. Do I:
- Continue reading blogs
- Start reading a novel
- Go back to sleep
- Blog for a while
- Stretch out
- Flex in front of Mrs. BD while she works (and risk injuring myself in more ways than one, especially from flying objects)
I ended up doing a few of the above. Class later at OrangeTheory was very refreshing. Afterwards, my father-in-law then picked up lunch; we enjoyed a quick meal together before everyone headed to do their own thing. Mrs. BD still had some work to do; I read and took a power nap. My in-laws read, napped, and/or watched TV. Come 4:00pm, it was time to go into Uncle Stinky (keep reading) mode.
After picking up the kids from their two schools, I dropped my in-laws off at the train station for them to make their way to the airport. The baton had officially been handed off. The adults had left the building (and state for that matter). Damn.
Arriving back at the house 15 minutes later, it was time for our niece’s soccer practice. Mrs. BD had the kids ready to go; they came outside to the car, and we spent 3 minutes strapping them in for the 30 second car ride.
When we got to the practice field, we were met by some family friends and neighbors; our niece made her way to the field, while we setup shop with our nephew: a massive blanket, backpack unloaded with toys, water bottle, snack, and some other stuff. It was fun. Practice and play time lasted 60 minutes.
We arrived back to the house in 30 seconds (after the 3 minutes to get everyone situated and buckled in); yes, we could have walked but it was 82 degrees, humid, and very hilly in the neighborhood. Dinner consisted of fish sticks for our nephew and cheese tortellini for our niece. Both a la Costco (or perhaps Target).
Bath time then followed; teeth were brushed and a bedtime story concluded the evening. By 8:05pm (5 minutes behind schedule – not bad for first timers), the kids were in bed fed, cleaned, and (hopefully) feeling loved. It took work and effort. But it was damn worth it.
Mrs. BD and I then retired for the evening after enjoying the leftover (although made separately) cheese tortellini. Mrs. BD chose a glass of white wine. I enjoyed another Sweet Baby Jesus from DuClaw Brewery. It was a long day, but we wouldn’t change it at all.
Wednesday – Day 3
Mr. Sun woke up at 7:30am again. But this time the kids seemed to be on autopilot: our nephew made his way to the bathroom on his own; our niece had actually gotten dressed already. The kids knew their routine quite well, and we found the system setup by their parents to be quite effective. Socks out, grab a shirt and pants, and next item.
And then came breakfast. It was only 7:45 – 15 minutes from the time the kids got up – when we sat down for breakfast. But that’s why the cushion time existed. It took almost 30 minutes to consume a liquid yogurt drink, half a cup of milk, and a kids breakfast bar. I haven’t put my negotiating skills to work like that in a long time.
After teeth brushing and shoes on, we had time for a quick story. And then we were on our way. The rest of the morning and rides to school felt the same as yesterday – just that I was the only “adult’ in the car (I think it defaulted to me because I was the only one with a driver’s license). Mrs. BD had to head to work today, so I was on my own.
The only other change after school drop-off was picking up the dog from doggie boarding. Mrs. BD’s brother had originally planned to keep the doggie boarded the whole time, but we thought he was nuts (well he kind of is) as it would cost several hundred more dollars. As shared during a prior trip, we have a dog and know the cost of doggie daycare and boarding.
I had OrangeTheory again; today’s workout was a strength day (a.k.a., lots of inclines on the treadmill – FML). My legs were already sore from the prior day’s endurance workout plus the combination of weights and treadmill work I did at the hotel in Cleveland on Saturday and Monday. I did take a couple of days off between workouts, but my legs had still been a bit heavy when running. Overall, despite my whining in my head for the nearly 60 minutes of the workout, I was glad I went (as always).
Getting back to the house, I had some lunch and just chilled for a bit reading the business and real estate sections of the past Sunday edition of the Washington Post. I was flabbergasted at how expensive and what premiums homes seemed to carry in the Virginia and Maryland areas outside of D.C. Living in New York City for 8 years, Mrs. BD and I were definitely familiar with expensive housing, but I still was amazed at some of the asking prices for the homes and rentals. But then I had an idea which prompted me to go start another blog post.
Ok – I’m back.
I picked up the kids from their schools. No change from the prior day – except I did it alone again. We got back to the house, and we did FaceTime / video chat with the kids’ parents. Mrs. BD got home shortly thereafter.
Dinner for the kids consisted of Mac and Cheese, frozen peas, and milk. I love the meals they have during the week. A bit of homework and 20 minutes of TV followed before the bedtime rituals (same as the night prior). Again, routine is the comfort zone for the kiddos (more to come on this in a future post).
Mrs. BD and I enjoyed some sushi and a glass of wine. A bit of reading, stretching, and passing out on the couch followed before we crawled to bed.
Thursday – Day 4
As usual, Mr. Sun awoke at 7:30am. But then all hell broke out. Our niece decided she didn’t want to go to school, and her younger brother (who usually follows her lead) thought the same. Breakfast took longer than usual, but we somehow managed to get out the door into the car. It took some reasoning with the kids that their worlds would not end if they went to school.
In the car, I even managed to get a few smiles and laughs from the kids. Make a few jokes, sing silly songs about going to school, tell them they’re stinky (and get the default reply “no YOU’RE stinky!), and BOOM – everyone is in a great mood! After a few minutes of silence, I thought we were all good. But then I apparently breathed too loudly or something.
My niece decided she wanted to read the book that her brother held in his hands. “Give me your book!” “No!” “Give it to me now!” “NOOOOO!” My niece then grabbed the book from her brother’s hands. That did it. Screaming, crying, yelling, oh my! And we were literally pulling into my nephew’s school parking lot.
Fast forward 20 minutes, I’m back in the car with my niece getting the silent treatment. Those eyes and that glare… I had to keep myself from laughing out loud. As we’re pulling into her school for the “kiss and ride” drop-off, she yells “Uncle Stinky! Even though I don’t give you a kiss at the kiss and ride every day, I would never give you one now!” I simply smirked and stuck my tongue out at her. She stared at me. I couldn’t tell if she was going to scream or throw her backpack at me. After about 5 seconds of tension, she giggled and said, “Uncle Stinky! You are so weird!” and hopped out of the car.
Thursday afternoon consisted of the prior two days’ activities: OrangeTheory and reading / writing. School pick-ups went off without a hitch. Soccer practice was at 5:30 though, so we had to hustle when we got home. The kids still seemed tired, but they were moving at a decent pace. But then reinforcements arrived!
Mrs. BD had reached out to our sister-in-law’s sister (Aunt S.) and husband (Uncle D.). Uncle D came knocking on the door right around 5:15 as planned. We were ecstatic to see him, but I was even more excited as I was no longer outnumbered. Uncle D. helped corral the kids to the car, and we made our way to soccer.
Dinner and baths went relatively smoothly; we managed to get the kids down only a few minutes late (not bad for two uncles and two aunts; Mrs. BD and Aunt S. arrived after soccer). With the kids in bed, we had some burgers and beers. We watched the Nats lose to the Cubs (go White Sox!). Another fun, but tiresome day was done.
Friday – Day 5
Guess what time Mr. Sun woke up at? You guessed it! 7:30am. Mrs. BD and I had only been doing this kid thing for a few days, and I saw the power of routines. Even better, the power of habits and systems (more to come on this in the near future).
Nothing unexpected happened during the morning – just the usual nuances of taking the kids to school and getting ready. It was nice though – Mrs. BD worked from home today instead of trekking downtown to D.C. via our sister-in-law’s parent mobile (large SUV that looks and drives like a minivan, except it doesn’t have sliding doors; the monsters call it the monster truck) and then the D.C. Metro.
I went to OrangeTheory for the fourth – and last – day in a row; they had a 30 minute yoga session after class that was kind of nice. It hurt like hell, but I was sure I’d feel better in the morning. A couple of beers might have helped, too…
The rest of the afternoon revolved around what to do for dinner and the rest of the weekend with the kids (we opted for movie and Mac & Cheese night). One of our two primary escape plans – school and bedtime – would not be an option on Saturday and Sunday. Although, we did have a soccer game the next morning and the kids tend to be extra fun on weekends. Uncle Stinky and Mrs. BD were looking forward to it (no really, we were going to have a lot of fun with the kids). What Uncle and Aunt don’t enjoy making their nephews or nieces embarrassed by dancing and singing in front of their friends?
Saturday – Day 6
Guess what time Mr. Sun woke up? WRONG! Not 7:30 – but 8:30! We all got an extra hour of sleep. The kids did stay up a bit later Friday night, but they were well-behaved – Mac & Cheese does that to them.
Mrs. BD and I slept like crap for some reason. Despite the extra hour of sleep, the kids also seemed to have had a rough night. Our nephew kept crying during breakfast; he was great at the soccer game, but lunch was miserable for the poor kid (and also then for his sister and for us).
Then came afternoon nap time (or at least an attempt at it). More whining and crying by both of the kids when they woke up. Oddly, they didn’t make a fuss beforehand. For an activity, we visited a local firehouse that was having an open house to the public. It was fun.
We got home and then played in the backyard for an hour; we started a movie before dinner (cheese quesadillas!) and finished it before bedtime. The usual routine followed.
Sunday – Day 7
Mr. Sun woke up again at 8:30. The kids were pretty good (besides our nephew standing on the couch). Our niece had Girl Scouts for a couple of hours, so this gave some structure to the day.
After lunch, we took naps (but our nephew wet his pants beforehand). We headed to a playground, and everyone had a good time. We went home for dinner around 6:00pm.
I left the house at 7:00 to pickup the kids’ parents from the airport. I found the drive both nostalgic and sad: Mrs. BD and I were heading toward our freedom(!!), but we’d also be saying goodbye to the kids soon.
When we got back to the house, we found out Mrs. BD had let the kids stay up a bit later to wait for their parents. They were at front door and were so, so happy to see their parents. Mrs. BD and I were very happy, too. “We made it and no one died,” was Mrs. BD’s comment. That summed it up well.
Monday – Day 8
I’m fairly certain Mr. Sun woke up at 7:30. But I didn’t notice because I woke up at 6:00am; my brother-in-law had also been up since 2:00am (jet-lagged as hell), so we hung out for a bit.
When the kids woke up, their parents were in control and resumed their duties. Mrs. BD and I gave a helping hand where we could. After dropping the kids off at school and saying goodbye, we made our way to the airport to head home.
Looking Back – and More Importantly – Ahead
We had a very tiresome week. But we had even more fun. I got to:
- Enhance my negotiating skills
- Expand my vocabulary of non-cursing curse words
- Increase my acumen of children’s electronics and controls on adult electronics (taught to me by a 6-year-old)
- Act like a 5 & 1/2 year-old (the approximate average age of our niece and nephew)
- Witness the power of systems and habits
- Reflect on a number of different things (one mentioned earlier in this post, but details to come on others soon).
Up next, Mrs. BD has a 10 day work trip before a friend’s wedding at the end of the month.