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Posts Tagged ‘rotten kids’

We never got the storms overnight Friday into Saturday, at least not in Berlin, Ohio. It was gray out, but the pavement was dry. I personally felt the dreary adrenalin drain that always comes on the morning of the last day of vacation when the excitement is over and you’re heading home. We’d lightened our load for the one night at the Comfort Suites, so it wasn’t that hard to get packed up. We dined across the road at the Farmstead Restaurant for their breakfast buffet, where everything was tasty but often blindingly sweet. Example: killer cinnamon rolls, but the icing on top was an inch thick. I saw bowls of something that looked like chocolate pie. I don’t know what it actually was; absolutely delicious, but what I thought might be meringue was another thick, sweet cream of some kind. Fortunately I had enough sense to counter the sugar with scrambled eggs and sausages.

J.Hooligan was thrilled to try the cinnamon rolls, too, but was cross-eyed sick after just one (and they aren’t typically huge rolls, more dinner roll size). There was a concoction made with Oreo cookies, but J. had to give up halfway through. S.Hooligan, on the other hand, continued her rotten ways from the day before and decided she didn’t like the good bacon from the buffet, so her mother brought plate after plate of purple grapes. S. spotted a giant gumball machine as soon as we entered the restaurant, and her mother said she could have a gumball if she behaved during breakfast. She didn’t. In fact, she outdid herself with obnoxious behavior, then couldn’t understand why Diamondqueen would deny her the promised reward.

We finished up our experience with me trying to flush the toilet in the restaurant bathroom and having the handle come off in my hand and fall to the floor with a clatter. I was alone in the bathroom, fortunately, but had just broken the toilet in the handicap bathroom without successfully flushing, unfortunately, so I ran right to the cashier and told her the problem. Later Diamondqueen was in the bathroom with S., and S. hollered, “Hey, THAT’S the toilet Chester broke!” (It’s a long story, but S. started calling me Chester last September and delights in annoying me with it.) One of the Amish girl servers came into the bathroom, and S. yelled at her, “Don’t go in there, that toilet’s broken!” Diamondqueen pointed out the girl already knew that since she had a sign she was going to put up on the stall door stating that fact. We scurried out to the van and burned rubber out of town, convinced we’d left the same mark on Amish country that we’d left on Sandusky, Marblehead, Put-in-Bay, Cleveland…

I’d thought maybe we’d make the traditional stops Mom and I enjoy on the way to Columbus – the longest covered bridge in Ohio and the Velvet Ice Cream factory grounds – but at that point everything seemed anticlimactic. The kids were absorbed in their videos of Tru Jackson and SpongeBob, and Diamondqueen just wanted to get home. We made it back without incident and steered into the Hooligan driveway around two o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Since I live with Mom now, at least I didn’t have to return to an empty apartment and feel blue in my post-trip decompression. In fact, Mom had a serving of leftover chicken and dumplings and small apple pies waiting for my return home, sure medicine that will cure anything.

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All I asked was to take a couple of photos of the two Hooligan children in front of some beautiful stained glass windows. We were in Hamilton, Ohio, attending the ice sculpture festival a couple of weeks ago. I’d never gone inside the Soldier’s Memorial, and I saw no reason not to include that in our itinerary that day.

J.Hooligan had been whining ever since we’d left the parking garage about how tired he was. It had simply worn him OUT to walk the two blocks down to the river where the memorial is located. Then we had the audacity to expect him to climb all those outside steps to the front door. (Never mind that at intervals before and after, J.Hooligan ran like an idiot — once falling flat on his face. He had energy enough for that.)

Since both Hooligan hooligans had been up to some fine tricks all day, and since Diamondqueen was still recovering from a nasty cold, I decided to give her a break and exact some revenge on the little demons by making them go up to the second floor of the memorial to see what we could see. Was J.Hooligan happy about that? Of course not. Hah!

There are two spectacular stained glass windows in the Soldier’s Memorial. The first, above the marble staircase that winds up to the second floor, depicts several generations of women waiting for their soldier boy to return from battle. The second window shows battlefield nurses attending to a wounded soldier. Both windows are touching and gorgeous.

After we’d looked at various war-related artifacts in display cases (including swords, muskets, and rifles with bayonets, which elicited a disturbing amount of interest from J. and especially S.Hooligan), I made the kids pose in front of each of the windows so I could snap their pictures.

I was so busy trying to get the two of them positioned in such a way that I got as much of the windows as possible in the backgrounds, I didn’t pay that much attention to their faces. Usually both Hooligans are hammy enough to put on decent, if cheesy smiles for the camera. When I transferred my photos from my camera to the computer, though, this is what I saw:

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Honestly, I’ve seen that look on J.Hooligan’s face plenty of times; just not in a photo, and I was not expecting it in these photos.

It’s almost as startling that S.Hooligan looks so pleasant. She’d already had one meltdown crying jag about 20 minutes earlier; we never did figure out exactly what had upset her. Then, about 20 minutes later, J. and S. got into a public brawl in the children’s area that could have resulted in us all getting charged with disturbing the peace. (And all over the development of a Polaroid photo, but that’s another story.)

Next day we did discover that S.Hooligan was coming back down with the cold she’d just shaken the week before, so there might have been some excuse for her behavior in Hamilton that day. As for J.Hooligan? Judging by the expression on his face in these photos alone, I chalk it up to being just plain ornery.

 

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Sometime shortly after J.Hooligan was born, I made a comment, mostly in jest, that I participated in celebrations for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparents Day — but there was no Aunt Day. My sister took my complaint seriously and created, just for me, Aunt Nancy Day.

Traditionally, Aunt Nancy Day is celebrated sometime in November — principally because that was the earliest convenient time to celebrate after Diamondqueen first came up with the idea. It consisted of small gifts and dinner at a local fondue restaurant for Diamondqueen, our mother, and me. TPM stayed home to babysit J.Hooligan. That year I didn’t object to J.’s absence, since he was just a baby. In theory, though, celebrating Aunt Nancy Day makes no sense without the presence of a niece or nephew at the festivities.

Eventually, when he was older, J. joined us at dinner, and then S.Hooligan as well. The observation of Aunt Nancy Day kind of floats, depending on circumstances. This year, the most opportune time for everyone was this past Saturday afternoon.

The celebration actually started last month, when I was shopping for a new fall/winter purse. I’m choosy about purses because I want them to be roomy and have certain features in the way of outside pockets that close and zippered compartments. Diamondqueen started sending me recommendations from the QVC site. I was a little surprised; but then, Diamondqueen does love purses (she’s a Dooney & Bourke addict).

I gladly reviewed every suggestion she made, and looked at all the selections on the site, but I was dubious. I’m wary of buying a purse I haven’t examined thoroughly for myself (although Diamondqueen pointed out that you can return merchandise to QVC if you don’t like it). Also, I’m a tightwad about something like a purse. It’s functional. It gets beat up and dirty. I really don’t like spending a chunk of change. More often than not, I’ve found perfectly satisfactory purses at bargain emporiums like Wal-Mart. This season, though, I hadn’t located anything I liked.

Then one Saturday the Hooligans, Mom, and I were lunching at Don Pablos. There was a T.J. Maxx nearby. “Let’s check out the purses as long as we’re here,” Diamondqueen suggested.

There were a lot of good options. The one I settled on initially was a corduroy version of the khaki purse I’d carried all summer. It was only $9 plus tax. When I said I was heading to the check-out, Diamondqueen snatched it from me with a snarl. She’d intended to buy whatever purse I chose as my Aunt Nancy Day present and had hoped to prod me toward a nicer selection.

Since I knew she really did want to get me an upgraded purse, I relinquished the corduroy bag and took another look around. There were several that had caught my eye, but at last I chose a green Stone Mountain bag of buttery leather that had all the pockets and compartments I wanted, and seemed just large enough to accommodate my wallet and camera. And it was a modest price, so I wouldn’t feel too bad if it took a beating (yet it was expensive enough that Diamondqueen felt she was giving me a decent purse, a real step up from my $12 bargain specials). She paid for it and passed the T.J. Maxx sack to me. I wouldn’t have to wait for Aunt Nancy Day to begin using my new purse.

So, a couple of weeks later, on Saturday, we celebrated the meal portion of the holiday. First, though, there were additional gifts. J. and S.Hooligan had each colored a computer-generated card for me. S. had colored a Dora the Explorer design, while J. had labored over a SpongeBob card. He had suffered for his art, going into conniptions each time he colored outside the lines, starting over several times. He apologized for the one he did give me because there was the slightest fleck of blue outside the black outline of one of SpongeBob’s pupils. I tried to tell him I’d rather have a flawed card that he hadn’t suffered to make than a perfect card that had caused him so much anguish. Diamondqueen pointed out she’d made the same speech to him the night before. J.Hooligan later told me he’d had a bad night’s sleep — he’d gotten too keyed up over his failures to color the perfect card.

(I think J.Hooligan also questioned the reason and cause for all his angst. He asked loudly in exasperation, “Is this even a real holiday?”)

I also received a new trash container for General Johnny, my new Corolla, from the kids. And from Mom and her dog Rusty, I received another feature for Johnny: a visor holder for my CDs. (I’ve never understood why Mom and Rusty give me presents for Aunt Nancy’s Day. I always point out that, if anything, Rusty is my brother. My mother finally put the matter to rest yesterday after my annual protestations by saying she just likes an opportunity to give a gift.)

For our celebratory meal I chose Buca di Beppo, down in Cincinnati at the Rookwood Commons. I’d introduced Mom and the Hooligans to it recently, and Mom and Diamondqueen loved it. The Hooligan kids were indifferent, but they never really eat anything anyway, so Diamondqueen stored a stash of Halloween candy in her purse for this visit. (TPM declined to accompany us, although he seemed sorry later when he heard about the good bread we had.)

We were seated in one of the larger back rooms, where the lights were dimmer and racks of wine bottles covered the ceiling. I had a glass of Chianti with my meal and tried the pesto salmon, which was terribly rich and wonderful. Mom had the eggplant, and Diamondqueen the meatball sandwich. She also ordered the kids a pepperoni pizza, which J.Hooligan ignored. S.Hooligan ate a few slices of the pepperoni off the pizza.

On our first visit, we’d ordered a slice of cheesecake and a chocolate cannoli to share. Mom and Diamondqueen both said they’d been fantasizing about that cheesecake ever since. This time, when our waiter asked about dessert, Shannon told him we wanted cheesecake and cannoli, and we’d be sharing.

Our mouths hung open when the waiter set down an enormous wedge of cheesecake and three cannolis elegantly mired Sambuca fudge sauce. He’d misunderstood and tripled our intended order. By the time we left the restaurant, we were nearly bilious with our overindulgence in cheesecake and hazelnuts and ricotta and ground candied pistachios and fudge sauce as thick as caulk.

We made a brief stop at a local antique mall, where I wanted to check out their selection of Infant of Prague statues in a downstairs Catholic shop. The Hooligan kids misbehaved outrageously, and J.Hooligan talked himself into a stint of hard labor as punishment.

“Are you doing okay?” the older, nun-like keeper of the statues asked as I was browsing. She meant was I finding what I was looking for and wasn’t, I assume, commenting on the numerous times I’d shrieked “Shut up!!!!” at the Hooligans and muttered dire warnings.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I replied politely. But I couldn’t resist adding, “Except for those kids. We need to lock them up somewhere.”

She laughed in a gentle, beatific way and said, “Actually, they’re being very good.” I couldn’t believe my ears. She was too saintly to lie, so I guess she just believed you had to say something good or nothing at all. Obviously the woman is holier than I’ll ever be, no matter how many Infant of Prague statues I accumulate.

J.Hooligan, despite racking up considerable punishments already, bitched and whined whenever I slowed down to look over something that caught my interest on our way to the checkout. “It’s my Aunt Nancy Day celebration,” I told him pointedly.

“No, it’s not,” J. retorted. “I declare Aunt Nancy Day over! It’s stopping now!”

He was too late. I’d already had a wonderful time, and there was nothing in his eight-year-old power that could revoke that.

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As I mentioned in this post, I got a new car last week. My eight-year-old nephew, J.Hooligan, came along with his mother, Diamondqueen, for the final signing-of-the-papers so he could be the first to take a ride in my new car.

For some reason Diamondqueen told J.Hooligan that getting to be the first rider gave him naming rights for the car. (Not sure how that came about.) I was rather underwhelmed when J. came up with the name “Johnny.” (Not to dis the name itself; my brother’s name is Johnny.) J.Hooligan names a lot of things “Johnny,” including the family’s new red PT Cruiser a couple of years ago.

My sister and I tried to talk him out of “Johnny.” Diamondqueen said maybe we should call it “General Joshua” after Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, our favorite Civil War hero, especially since the new Corolla is Union blue. Diamondqueen is also a fan of Dukes of Hazzard and likes the idea of having a car in the family named “General,” but J.Hooligan was adamant. The car would now and forever be “Johnny.”

I’m not much into naming things myself, but it’s my car, and I’ve decided it’s “General Johnny.” I get to have at least that much say. J. can think whatever he likes.

J. Hooligan is pictured on the left in the photo above; with him is his sister, S.Hooligan. And, of course, behind them is General Johnny.

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