Friday, August 09, 2013

Utah 2013: Part I

The summer semester came to an end on Friday, August 2nd. On Tuesday, August 6th, Melanie, the kids, and I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, where are we now staying with Melanie’s parents. We’re just a few days into the trip, and so far so good. Even a trip to the emergency room was surprisingly postive! (More on that in a moment.) Rather than provide weekly updates as I did with our Utah trip last year, I’m just going to post when and if I get a chance. I’m hoping that will make it easier for me to chronicle our vacation. So, here’s what’s been going on:

Tuesday, August 6th
Now that Creegan is two, he’s required to have his own seat on the airplane. For the first time in years, Melanie and I were able to fly without an “infant in arms.” Each child had his own seat. It made the flights immensely more enjoyable. We also owe thanks to, makers of the two Kindle Fires that kept Eddie and Peter entertained for pretty much the entire flight from Atlanta to SLC. Headphones also came in quite handy, both to mute out the noise of the Kindle Fires for all of the other passengers, and to enable to me to listen to a podcast on my iPod while en route. It was without a doubt the most pleasant flying experience Melanie and I have had since reproducing.

We arrived in Utah around 4:20 p.m., Mountain Time. Melanie’s parents and her brother Tom were there to greet us. Melanie’s mom had brought us oversized cans of Diet Mountain Dew to make our arrival all the more sweet. After collecting our luggage from the baggage claim and finding our way to the cars, we waded our way through rush hour traffic that far exceeds anything we ever have to deal with in Tallahassee. The boys had fun exploring and re-familiarizing themselves with Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We were, quite unsurprisingly, exhausted. After dinner and just a little bit of playtime, we crashed for the night.

Wednesday, August 7th
Melanie and I had our first Utah culinary outing. Leaving the boys with Melanie’s mom, Melanie and I took to Café Rio, one of Utah’s most popular eateries. We arrived just after 11 a.m., so the place wasn’t too busy yet. We had a punch card that we had slowly filled over the last two or three years, which got us a free meal on this most recent visit. Melanie and I both opted for salads. They were super yummy. We talked about what we want out of life. I waxed nostalgic for living in Utah, despite the downsides that it would inevitably involve. Being out in the world without kids can be magically rejuvenating, and so it was. Melanie and I hope to spend some time alone every day during this trip. We’ve actually already failed at doing that, but it remains our goal.

After Café Rio, Melanie and I came back to her parents’ house and watched the final episode of the most recent season of The Bachelorette. Yeah, that’s right. We then spent the rest of the day just hanging out. Edison and Peter spent a lot of time playing Minecraft with Uncle Tom. Eddie has looked forward to this more than anything, especially because the desktop computer version of Minecraft is a bit more involved or expansive than the portable version he can play on the Kindle Fire. For weeks before we ever left Florida, Eddie talked a lot about what he was going to do on Minecraft once we were in Utah. I’m glad he’s excited by it, but he’s a bit obsessive. Unfortunately, now that he’s started playing the game here in Utah, he gets rather impatient when it comes time to do anything else. He complains and whines and frets about being denied the opportunity to play. Any alternative plan is irritating to him, and he isn’t shy about making that known. Luckily, things have gone surprisingly well once we actually get involved in other activities. For example, we walked to the nearby elementary school on Wednesday evening, and Eddie, Peter, and Creegan had a great time playing on the playground equipment. Tom joined up with us before long, and there were several others kids at the school with whom Eddie and Peter could play. They had a good time, and it was wonderful to be outside and not hate it, as is pretty much guaranteed in Tallahassee at this time of year. In fact, I usually don’t even think about it being warm outside here in Utah. It doesn’t even enter my mind!

Thursday, August 8th
It was time to visit my side of the family. After everybody was awake and ready for the day, Melanie and I took the kids to nearby Taco Time for lunch and then headed to my mom and dad’s apartment. I expected to see my mom, my sisters Karen and JoAnna, and JoAnna’s two kids (my niece and nephew, Rayne and Caius, respectively). To my surprise, my dad was also at home, and a short while later, my little sister, Khrystine, showed up. It was more of a family reunion than I had anticipated, and that was great. I was able to get on a rant about religion, which I love to do, and Khrystine was able to catch Melanie and me up on all of her wedding preparations. She even hand-delivered us her wedding invitation, which was fun. It was a jolly good time. Because my parents’ home is so much tinier than Melanie’s parents’ house, it’s harder to keep the kids entertained, but we brought along the Kindle Fires and thereby kept Eddie and Peter happily off in la-la land. And even Creegan had a good time with all of the toy cars that were available. As an added bonus, Khrystine’s fiancé, Saeed, dropped by to pick up Khrystine just as Melanie and I were leaving. We saw practically everyone there is to see on my side of the family in that relatively brief visit. Pretty cool.

Would that I could say the rest of the day went just as pleasantly, but alas, I cannot. Things were going well for a little while. Eddie played Minecraft, Peter played on Melanie’s mom’s iPad, and Creegan hung out with Grandma and Grandpa while Grandpa worked on Grandma’s car. Then we started the bedtime routine, and things went a little nuts. As I fought to get all three kids rounded up, tooth-brushed, and read-to, I kept losing one or two of them along the way. At some point, Peter and Creegan were chasing each other all over the house while I worked with Eddie, who typically is the least resistant. At some point, I was standing in the bedroom Melanie and I are staying in, and Melanie was in there, and suddenly Creegan comes running in, crying quite badly. Tom comes in almost immediately to inform us that Creegan had just bashed his head into the corner of the kitchen counter. At this point, all three of us adults are under the impression that Creegan has merely bonked his head. But then Tom points out that Creegan is bleeding. I look over, and Creegan, who is climbing into Melanie’s arm, is bleeding heavily out of his head. It’s pouring down the side of his face in a surprisingly thick sheet. I was very surprised and alarmed. I hurried to get a washcloth, but Creegan was quickly bleeding through any little towels Tom and I would bring to him. Melanie said we needed to go to the ER, and so I immediately started getting ready for that.

In the brief couple of minutes that it took to get Creegan into a car seat, he had calmed down. He wasn’t distraught. He just seemed sad. Looking at his head, which had been slightly cleaned by the towels we had used, it didn’t look terribly frightening. I wondered if the corner of the counter had merely skinned part of his head and not really done any serious damage. Nevertheless, we headed to the hospital, thinking it safest. On our way there, Creegan seemed quite normal. I even got him to smile and laugh a little bit. By the time we parked, Melanie and I were wondering if we should even bother visiting the ER. It seemed like the safest bet, but we also felt like it could easily be pointless. After a couple of minutes of further deliberation, we decided to proceed. Melanie and I had re-examined Creegan’s head and could see only a tiny hole, as if someone had poked a pencil into his head. It didn’t look that threatening, but we figured we’d be better off safe than sorry.

Our trip to the emergency room ended up being one of the most pleasant of any doctor’s visits with which I’ve ever been involved. Since having children, I’ve been to the ER a handful of times. Every visit prior to this one has taken several hours, at best. Based on my previous experiences, I thought that even if Creegan’s head injury was nothing to worry about, we might not leave the hospital for five or six hours. But this ER visit was unlike anything I’ve ever known. We walked in, and could see no other patients waiting to be treated. We were immediately taken back, calmly but quickly examined at triage, and then put in a room where a nurse soon came to visit with us. She put some numbing ointment on Creegan’s head so that the doctor could examine it with little disturbance. The doctor showed up so quickly that he worried Creegan’s head wouldn’t be numb, and so he left us for another ten minutes before coming back. Meanwhile, the nurse continually played with Creegan and made him laugh. Then the doctor came back, looked at Creegan’s head, and said it wasn’t a big deal. He said we could give Creegan a single stitch or just apply some ointment, whichever we preferred. Obviously, we preferred just using ointment, and the doctor agreed that this was the easier route to go. And so, they gave us a couple of small things of ointment and sent us on our way. It was quick, the staff were all incredibly friendly, and we didn’t even need to get a prescription! There’s no way this is how things would have unfolded in Tallahassee! Without a doubt, it would have taken at least three or four times longer in Tallahassee, and that’s on the conservative side. Melanie’s mom had taken Eddie and Peter off to bed when Melanie and I left for the hospital. Neither of them were asleep by the time we were back home. It was that quick.

Friday, August 9th
So far, today is good and injury free. We skipped the 7 a.m. hot air balloon launch that took place just a couple of blocks from Melanie’s parents’ house. After last night, we didn’t want to get up early and try to rush somewhere. So, instead, we had a calmer morning and then headed with Melanie’s mom to Scheels. Scheels is a sporting goods retailer, although such a description is at least somewhat misleading. They have lots of clothes and handbags and other things that aren’t at all sports-related. They’re slightly snootier than you might think. Anyway, Scheels opened their first and thus far only Utah store last year, shortly after Melanie and I had headed back to Tallahassee. Kaya, girlfriend of Melanie’s brother Kaleb, had given us a guided tour of Scheels while it was still under construction last August. Today, we saw the open and fully operational Scheels for the first time. It was quite fun. We enjoyed their large fish tank, we took a ride on their Ferris wheel, and Eddie, Peter, and Creegan played Rollerball, which is basically a slightly miniaturized version of bowling. Scheels is more like an amusement park than you might expect. After roaming the store, we stopped in the Scheels food court and got the kids some gelato while Melanie, Melanie’s mom, and I ate lunch. We three adults each had a sandwich wrap, and I thought mine was quite good. Melanie’s mom then purchased some cinnamon pecans, cashews, and almonds for us to take home. ‘Twas fun.

As I write this, Melanie is off visiting one of her old school friends. The kids are with her, and I am taking the opportunity to put up a blog post. I wish I had some photos to share, but we haven’t even taken any yet. In all fairness, we tried to. But when we got out our camera and tried to turn it on, we learned that the battery was dead. It’s charging right now, so hopefully my future Utah posts will be much more visually appealing. Until then…


  1. Sometimes I am jealous of people who live out of state, away from family. I know when we have relatives come from out of state everybody is so excited when they visit. We sometimes go months without seeing some family members that live close. And contrary to popular belief, extended family rarely randomly helps with our kids.

    That's awesome that you had such a pleasant trip to the ER.

    I am always curious how other parents handle 'screen time'. What limits do you impose on your children? My 5 year old has been driving me nuts this summer about video games. Whenever we are out doing something fun he asks, "are we going to get to play video games today?" It makes me sad that's all he ever wants to do.

    1. I don't think we've been very consistent in how we handle screen time, but I will say this: the more limitations we have on it, the better it seems to go. Probably the best has been when the default rule is that there is no video games during the week (barring special circumstances) and yet there is ample time to play on the weekends. When we've done that, the kids haven't ever fussed about not playing during the week. Alternatively, when they get to play often, they are mad and/or freaking out anytime they are not being allowed to play. Knowing that the games are coming at some point during the day seems to make them incapable of doing anything else. Your situation with the constant questions about when/if video games are on the agenda is all too familiar.