Ok. Blogger sucks, as usual, and I can't get all the photos I want to download. So--here are a bunch, and I'll compose a second post to finish things up.
So--the Albuquerque trip.
I've already covered Wednesday and Thursday, travel day and zoo day, respectively. So, on to...
Friday was Madeline's birthday. I should say, Friday was Madeline's birthday EXTRAVAGANZA! After a night of swapping Zack's bed and the air mattress several times, Soph and I woke up feeling about as tired as we did when we went to bed, a process that was to be repeated pretty much daily during our trip. Madeline was very sweet, and like most birthday kids, didn't allow the slightest opportunity to pass without reminding friends, family, and strangers that it was her birthday.
We mobilized the kids and hit the road at about 10:00, destination: Build a Bear. We were there early enough to avoid a huge line. If you're not familiar with the build-a-bear process the kid picks a stuffed animal skin, then helps an employee stuff it, inserting a heart and some kind of annoying sound, if they want to. Then they give the animal an air bath, choose some expensive stuffed animal clothes to dress it in, use a computer to name the animal and print a birth certificate, and then, take the build-a-bear oath. It breaks down to about a 45 minute process that costs about 40 smacks per kid. Soph chose a rabbit, dressed it in a Sleeping Beauty dress, and named it, what else, Aurora. (She later decided that the dress was too scratchy, took it off, and renamed the naked bunny "Vanilla Icing.") Zach built a darling surfer monkey, and Madeline built a pink birthday bear that sported a denim mini-skirt. Sweet.
After Build-a-Bear we let the kids ride the Carousel at the mall. This was a huge treat, and a chance for the moms and grandma to sit down.
From Build-a-Bear, we loaded the kids in the van and headed for the Mecca of 7 year old birthday parties everywhere, you guesses it, Chuck E. Cheese. Actually, it wasn't as painful as one would think. The place was surprisingly clean, and the rides and games were only 25 cents each.
However, here at Chuckey's, I began to loose my cool. It all started with a popsicle. Those bastards have a fancy popsicle machine right at the exit. When it was time to go, Soph spotted it, of course. Because it was a party day, she had pretty much been getting whatever she wanted. So, when she asked for a popsicle, I kind of absentmindedly said sure, kind of forgetting that we were going to be eating cake and ice cream in 20 minutes. Of course, in a group of three kids, one can't have a popsicle without the other 2 getting one So, I bought popsicles all around. In my imagination, Mandy was pretty annoyed with me for doing this. Disapproval of any kind kind of throws me for a loop. I spent much of the rest of the afternoon imagining that I was a terrible mother and aunty and that the popsicles had ruined the day. Dur.
Cut to the next morning. Mand had a long day of yoga, and grandma and I were taking the kids out on the town. Again, in my imagination, I was fucking up the plans--getting in the way, and generally not following the program that I somehow couldn't figure out. My paranoia snowballed until I was sure Mandy wanted me to get a hotel and take myself and my rowdy daughter the hell out of her house. Matters weren't helped by the fact that the kids were all pretty rotten, and that my mom was entertaining, I think, similar feelings to mine.
By the time we got home, having gotten lost for a while thanks to my navigation error, I was hosting my first, I think, official migrane. Lights flashing, nauseaa, and pounding, pounding pain. My sweet mom decided I needed some distance and alone time, and as soon as Mand came in the door, left to find me a hotel room. Sigh. Left alone with Mandy, I totally came unglued, spilling my guts, telling her how I felt totally in the way, like I was doing "something" wrong, etc. I don't think she'll mind my sharing her response. See, in HER imagination, I was still mad at her for leaving me, moving to Albuquerque in the first place. She felt guilty for being happy. For being happy without me. This lead to her putting distance between us, because she felt like she was betraying our friendship, our sistership, with her happiness. So--tears, hugs, and then mom arriving back with the hotel key.
I decided to go ahead and stay at the hotel for the night, which I think was a good decision. Soph and I watched Ice Age 2 together, and both slept in a real bed, which was a good thing.
Sunday was a down time day for everyone. Mom had a long nap at Mandy's while the sisters and their kids took the kids to the hotel pool. It was small, but we had it to ourselves, and it was very nice. Later we made a trip to Whole Foods to procure dinner fixins. Sigh. Cedar City has lovely things about it, but good shopping is NOT one of them. I'll be shopping at Whole Foods in my dreams. Dinner was roasted veggies on focaccia with goat cheese. Can you say yummy? I'm going to recreate that meal soon. We also played some Disney Princess Monopoly with Zack and Madeline after Soph went to bed. Zack rolled the dice for everyone, chanting "Sugar pop, sugar pop, give me a sugar pop," each time before giving the dice a roll.