Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Trip to Shell Island

During a recent trip to the pan handle of Florida, we visited St. Andrews State Park.  St. Andrews is a wonderful place to visit with hiking trails to explore, beautiful beaches to enjoy and a pier to fish off of and observe sea life.  If you limit your visit to those three things, which can fill a whole day, you will have a very enjoyable time.  On the other hand, if you have three tired and crabby children, an extra hundred dollars and would like to be miserable for the next couple of hours, take the shuttle to Shell Island.  

The tickets for the shuttle that takes you to the island are for sale in the gift shop of all places.  So while you're being bent over the price of tickets, your kids are fleecing you for the usual beach souvenirs and if you've forgotten your mask and snorkel, they will gladly rent you a well used set for ten dollars.  All that is easy to swallow with the promise of beautiful shells and the fantastic snorkeling opportunities to be had just a short bus and boat ride away.  

The bus arrived around 10:30 and off we went.  It was an old school bus which was surprisingly air conditioned. The driver was pleasant enough and the ride was only about 5 minutes long.  Excitement was in the air as this was to be the first boat the children had ever been on.  The shuttle itself amounted to a large pontoon boat with several bench seats enough to seat 40 people.  The crew of 2 men were the pilot, who wore a Vietnam veteran hat and his companion, who I have no proof but was almost certainly nicknamed "Chicken Wing".  You know how you can look at someone and judge them?  That's right I judge people based on how they look.  Save your high and mighty groans, we all do it, so climb down off your high horses and let me get on with the story.  Anyway Chicken Wing had that look about him.  The look of a man who came to Florida for a visit and never left.  You know, a beach bum, a man who's feet have only seen flip flops, sand and surf boards for ten years.  We soon boarded the shuttle, found our seats and Chicken Wing shoved us off.  Oliver who is a very curious 3 year old wanted to know how the boat drove, how it steered, who gave him this boat and when he would be allowed to steer.  The boat ride made him very happy and he showed no signs of the pure lunacy he would soon unleash upon us.  It was less than a ten minute ride and despite some waves was popular with the kids.

As we arrived to the island, the pilot explained how to get to the best shells, where to snorkel, where the snack boat was, how often the shuttle ran and last of all....have fun!  We started walking towards the "best shell hunting beach".  Oliver who had been pleasant up to this point, wondered if I might like to carry him as his feet were tired of walking.  I informed him I was already carrying 3 sets of floaties, 5 towels, 3 changes of clothes and Jack's flip flops that he walked out of and just left in the sand.  Oliver didn't take this well and proceeded to whine and cry the 500 yards to the beach.  We got everyone's floaties on and got in the water carefully avoiding all the broken shells littering the beach.  I put on the mask and snorkel I had rented and quickly realized a. it was so old Robinson Crusoe probably wore it when it was new and b. there was so much sand churning in the water, I couldn't even see my feet.  It didn't matter much, because about that time Jack tapped me on the back and said "I need you to go get me a snack from the snack boat."  Now the snack boat was 500 yards back the way we came, so I told him that I'd rather fill my swimming trunks with jelly fish and watch The Old Man and the Sea on repeat.  He didn't get the joke and proclaimed that he needed Cheese its and couldn't wait any longer.  Henry also had a problem.  He said "I need to go to beeeeeed".  I broke the news to him that we were basically on a desert island that didn't even have bathrooms and that he would have to wait to get his beauty sleep which sent him spiralling into a tantrum.  Oliver was just straight sleeping on the beach which Henry noticed and soon followed suit.  People around us were having fun, but we were in bad shape.  Abby was just trying to keep spirits up, sitting with the sleeping twins and Jack was just standing the there crying about the cookies and sandwiches he didn't have.  I made an executive decision and decided we had to get off this shitty, broken shell havin' island.  So with three crying kids, we walked the 500 yards back to the shuttle after only being there for 45 minutes.  I felt like I was just in shock on the boat ride back.  I spent 100 dollars getting us to that island and it just pissed everyone off.  We got off the boat and got to the bus.  The driver asked if we had fun.  I felt like pulling his shirt over his head, kicking him in the balls and driving that bus straight to hell!.  The neatest part of the whole experience was, as we were eating our picnic lunch all the kids agreed that they had a lot of fun on Shell Island.  WTF!  I guess at least they will have good memories of the island on which Daddy burnt 100 dollars on and nearly went insane.   Follow us on Facebook at BadTwinDad and on Istagram Twitter @BadTwinDad.  You might have noticed the Amazon banner at the top of the page.  To support this blog simply click through the banner, log in to amazon and do your shopping as normal and we will get a commission on whatever you purchase.  It doesn't cost you anything and would help us greatly. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stay At Home Dad For A Week

My  wife is a hotshot big deal big time stone cold the children's museum world and occasionally she gets invited to attend a conference that all the other assassins of the experiential learning community we be at.  When that happens, I schedule that week off work, mark it on the calendar and as it draws near, I start shaking in my boots.  I mean sure I can make meals, do the laundry and wipe the occasional butt when I have to but an entire week alone with them day and night is daunting.  A couple weeks out, I started to think of things to do with them.  The Airplane park, named for the Vietnam era fighter/bomber that is retired there, is one of their favorites.  The Magic House, an hour drive but well worth it, is fantastic and since we are members I put it on the list as well.  I also put a trip to Nana's house on the list as a maybe.  
The week before my wife left, I trained up the man who would be taking my place at work for the week.  Good Ole Leonard.  A good dude but BadTwinDad he was not.  I gave him my number and told him to call me if he needed advice.  The weekend before, we took the boys to the zoo for a nice family fun day.  We fed stingrays, saw the lions, I goofed on the pandas(worst animal ever), and we generally had a great time.  
My bride, my teammate, my best friend, my everything left in the middle of the night to fly to Pasadena.  The next morning at breakfast, all the questions started about where she was, what was she doing, why didn't we get to go and what were the presents she was going to bring home.  Henry was beside himself that he didn't get to go to "Calinflorida" as he called it.  Can you imagine if that was a real state?  Disney World and Disney Land in the same state?  Madness.  I convinced everyone that Mommy would be home soon and that we would get along just fine until she returned.  One thing I needed to get done was getting the shed cleaned out.  A big job especially with the boys "helping".  So we went to get some heavy duty trash bags and the deal was if they were good in the store, the airplane park would be their reward.  To avoid a fight I jammed all there asses in the race car cart and swiftly found our trash bags and got the hell out of there.  As we arrived at the park, the airplane greeted us.
The playground is huge and pretty cool.  I brought water for everyone and some pretzels and wipes which I packed in my Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack, Black (Man purse) which usually contains camera equipment, but for this week would carry kid essentials. We played for at least an hour and a half, but around the hour mark, an army of ten year olds descended upon the playground making it super crazy and difficult to spot all 3 boys in the crowd.  I forgot to mention that Leonard had been calling and texting all day which made me regret giving him my number.  I decided I'd had enough and got the boys in the car.  I also decided the idea of making lunch when we got home could go to hell and got everyone McDonalds which was half consumed, half spread all over the car.  When we got home, yes I turned the TV on and parked there butts in front of it.  I cleaned up the house and talked to Leonard a few more times and made spaghetti for dinner.
The next day the rain started and pretty much stuck around for a day in a half after that.  Floods were happening all around the area and I received a text from work that said due to the floods we would be required to work on the weekend.  This really bothered me as I was supposed to be on vacation. In fact, it bothered me so much I started applying for jobs and wasn't sleeping well.  Mind you, this job had been bothering me for sometime, this was just the icing on the bullshit they had been feeding me for months. My men and I had managed to get the shed cleaned out and sorted and were having a pretty good time.  I just couldn't shake my misgivings of my job.  You would think with all of the Daniel Tiger on TV and potty accidents in the bathroom I wouldn't have time to think of anything else but work was really in my head.  Thursday of that week, around lunchtime, I got a phone call that changed everything.  A job offer.  I couldn't believe it.  Immediately I called Abby to talk about it and even though I would be taking a pay cut, we both agreed that it would be best for everyone if I accepted the job.  No more unexpected Saturdays.  No more working nonstop for the five weeks before Christmas!  As I reflect on that week I have a couple questions and answers.  Did the kids watch to much TV?  They certainly did.  Did they more chicken nuggets than normal?  Hell yes!  Are they better off with a dad who isn't stressed about work constantly and loosing sleep over it?  Yes because I'm not only not stressing about work I'm sleeping like a baby and I built them a tree house.
A happy Dad is a good Dad, don't ever forget that.  Take stock of your life and cut out the bits that make you unhappy if you can.  You owe it to your children to be happy. Follow us on Facebook at BadTwinDad and on Twitter @BadTwinDad.  You might have noticed the Amazon banner at the top of the page.  To support this blog simply click through the banner, log in to amazon and do your shopping as normal and we will get a commission on whatever you purchase.  It doesn't cost you anything and would help us greatly. Thank you!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Indy Road Trip


My son Jack has a map on his wall in which he puts a pin every time we visit a new state.  Recently, after a contemplative study of his map and a count of his pins, he informed us that he would need to get going on these states if he was ever going to pin all of them.  My wife and I researched cities within driving distance, attractions, and interesting sites.  What we came up with was Indianapolis.  Less than four hours away, it sports plenty of things to see and do and old diners to eat at and cool parks to play in.  
So one Saturday morning we loaded up the car which I nicknamed "The Silver Bullet" and the boys re nicknamed "Silvermist" which is a damn fairy from the Tinkerbell cartoons, and headed east.  I wont boar you with the "are we there yets", the "I have to pottys" and the "I'll turn this car arounds".  After a three hour and forty five minute drive we pulled into Indy and our first stop was downtown for a visit at the Percussion Museum.  What little boy wouldn't love to beat the tar out of just about any kind of drum you can imagine.  Huge drum kits, cymbals, triangles, they even had a bass drum as big as a Volkswagen.  With our eardrums pounding we continued on through downtown to have a look at the canal that runs through the center of town.  The boys thought it was something!  
After we found whatever we could get our hands on to throw in the water, as boys will do, we went for lunch.  Now it was my responsibility to find a place to have lunch ahead of time and I chose a place called Mug N Buns.  They make their own root beer and have a long history of serving race goers and locals for over 50 years.  Five stars on Trip Advisor in case you were wondering.  What. A. Dump.  I took to calling it Suds N Butts.  Suds because of the root beer obviously and Butts because that's what it smelled like, looked like, and that's what the food tasted like.  It was a train wreck and the worst part is, the kids loved it.  They were enjoying their butt hot dogs and all I could think of was what disease they were going to catch.  It was as if hepatitis and Aids were having a knife fight to see who got first dibs on the two small ones.  My wife was horrified by the experience.  The last time she had that look on her face was when Oliver proclaimed that his butt was church. 
After we left this outhouse posing as a diner we went to visit a park that had large sculptures and an even larger playground which was nice just to let the kids play for a while.  While the boys played, Abby and I regrouped and made plans to get ice cream before heading home.  An ice cream shop in an old railroad station was the perfect band aid for our lunch experience and really put everyone in a good mood for the ride home.
Although long car rides can be difficult with small children, new places can help foster their curiosity which is never a bad thing so get out there and go pin some states!.  Follow us on Facebook at BadTwinDad and on Twitter @BadTwinDad.  You might have noticed the Amazon banner at the top of the page.  To support this blog simply click through the banner, log in to amazon and do your shopping as normal and we will get a commission on whatever you purchase.  It doesn't cost you anything and would help us greatly. Thank you!