Sunday, October 5, 2008


Things we learned on this trip....

1) Don't send the Batzers to the grocery store hungry.

2) Layou children do not need expensive toys only furniture.

3) Pak n Plays make excellent anti burglar devices.

4) Two year olds can't sleep in bunk beds.

5) Sleeping bags make decent landing pads.

6) Toaster ovens make fairly consistent s'mores.

7) Johns aren't rainproof.

8) Gettysburg sucked in 1863 & '64.

9) The government didn't care then anymore than it cares now.

10) Hmmmm, bacon.

Well, our days of tents and headlamps are on hold for a little while until small children are capable of making it all night without the bathroom. This trip was to Gettysburg at the Drummer Boy Campground. The cabin in Picket's (sic) Thicket (Because cute names make you want to stay there.) was a little small for the group, but cozy. It was a place in which you could not get along with genetic relatives, but chosen relatives made it pleasantly amusing.
The Batzers arrived first as, well, we had a whole 45 minute commute. We quickly realized that we would have to take the double bed as John could in no way fit in a bunk bed. I did consider letting Dann snuggle in bed with John but eventually decided he wouldn't get drunk enough. And we all know that Jake is the only one he snuggles with sober.
While we waited, we stocked up for the weekend. (See number #1.) Everyone else arrive at almost exactly 8 PM in a timing miracle and just in time for us to watch the first presidential debate. Well start to watch the debate until we quickly realized our conversation was more interesting, insightful and made up of something more than sound bites.
With four engineers and a mom in the cabin we found an efficient way to set up the Pak n Plays, so there was still walking room. (See number #3) Then we spent a night listening to the rain that while mostly soothing did at time get rather loud.
The next morning we plowed through two pounds of bacon (See number #10), muffins, and bagels while the boys entertained themselves is their new surroundings. (See number #2) It also amazes me how a group of adults can be completely enthralled by toddlers pointing. Or "sssshhhhhooooooes".
We took a short trip to the battlegrounds and posh new visitors' center to find out that it was the official grand opening and PACKED. We did manage to get the boys' passports stamped and the Layous' picture of the park sign. We tagged along on a ranger's tour about the aftermath of the battle (See numbers #8 & 9) The ranger was very knowledgeable and approachable, and we chatted with him for several minutes after the tour. We were going to go to Gettysburg Winery but got sidetracked by lunch, naps, rain, and laziness. The boys were valiant enough to make a run for beer and s'mores components but found that three males in a grocery store looking for marshmallows might as well have been a roadblock challenge on The Amazing Race.
When they finally got back, John with the assistance of Anne sacrificed the elasticity of his skin for yummy burgers and brauts. (See number #7) This also ended any chance of fire cooked s'mores. (See number #6)
As we settled in for the PSU game and Apples to Apples, Dann and Karen did their best to figure out a way for the boys to sleep in the bunk bed room that did not involve falling out of beds or ending up under the beds. (See numbers #4 & 5)

Then about all that was left the next morning was to pack and say until New Year's after another pound of bacon and a dozen eggs.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Well the best laid plans....
The original plan for this past weekend was a Friday trip to Hershey Park and a Saturday trip to Gettysburg. But as she does, Mother Nature had different ideas. Two years ago it was lots of rain. This year it was heat and humidity. At times I walked out the door, however briefly, and felt like I needed a snorkel.
Anyway as we always do, we made the absolute best of a less than optimal situation.
First everyone arrived at almost the same moment on Friday. For an hour or so we managed to make complete fools of ourselves over the twins. How many adults does it take to play Legos and feed pasta? Apparently, seven. Alex the Wonder Sister babysat for us, so we could turn ourselves loopy at Hershey Park. Alex is now in love with Noah and David. They have been compared to Grayson and that is saying something.
While Alex played with the twins, we did our best to fit in as many roller coasters into 3 hours as possible. We were pretty successful. The lateness of the hour and the earliness of the season meant short lines. I have to admit that I hadn't been on a coaster for a while and was more apprehensive than I normally would have been. That stopped after The Stormrunner which might be the best coaster I have ever been on. Thanks for the courage, Karen. Sweaty, tired and content, we made our way back through the traffic to Carlisle with no throwing up in the car. Stomaches of steel. We need to go on the new show Hurl after chomping down everything fried between rides.
Saturday, we nixed Gettysburg. Too hot and humid. We had a nice breakfast and pretty much lazed around the rest of the day even to the point of ordering pizzas and buying a cake instead of cooking out and making a cake in the hot oven. Happy birthday to Anne. Welcome to being old. The boys kinda started to warm up to our dogs who were not helping matters with lots of barking and jumping. Finally, Noah and Snick bonded over love for a tennis ball, and David became empowered when he learned to shake his finger and said BAD to loud puppies.
Saturday evening we were mesmerized and made jealous by the Jurans' pictures from New Zealand. My mother is still talking about Anne's bungee jump. She is in awe. Also, she can't stop talking about how cute the twins are. I mean really can't. Ever. Each time she calls which has been three times at least.
Plans might have changed, but the amount of laughter and camaraderie did not. I always feel so content and recharged after one of our visits. No matter how awful the drive was or how plans change, our gettogethers are highlights to my year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It was a New Year's Wiikend

If fun could be measured in pounds gained, we had the time of our lives this New Year's. It occurs to me that the same conclusion could be reached through the amount of recycling we created. The Batzers, The Jurans, and The Rothermel showed up at The Layous' in the early afternoon on the 29th just in time to lick the beaters of Karen's mixer clean of icing. Carpooling was a brilliant idea, coming from Anne, as there was much laughter to make the car ride seem shorter. The highlight of the car trip came from, well, me and what I am afraid is a minor hearing loss. James was trying to tell the story of his uncle mishearing the word tapas as topless. Now the bar being discussed was mentioned as being outside several times. I did not know the word tapas before this trip, so I thought they were using topless to mean open air. When my confusion was finally cleared, it was to everyone's great amusement. James complimented my ability as a straight man. I will take what dignity I can salvage through that compliment.
When the two tons of desserts were unloaded from the truck, and lunch was quickly put together, the main entertainment of the weekend was finally set up. That would be the Wii. Soon Dann and Jake were well obsessed with tennis while Anne and Karen became entranced with cow racing. Karen's prowess was to be admired while Anne's lack there of was worth several hours of giggling. James proved fairly proficient at most Wii activities except tennis with me. We choose to blame the wine.
After the Wii, I supposed the next form of prevalent entertainment were the boys. It turns out that all seven of us were suckers for the babies. Noah found the view from John's 6'3" shoulder particularly comforting while also enjoying conversations with Jake. David liked being the good one and showing Noah up when it came to going down for naps and eating beans. I invented Baby Splat. Anne turned out to be pretty good at bedtimes and cutting up fruit. James proved to be very entertaining in the baby pen even while trying to protect his last precious remaining hairs from happy baby fists.
The final entertain has to have been alcohol. Our cups runneth over. A whole lot. After one small obstacle... the lack of a bottle opener. In a house with four engineers and a TD, this was shortly overcome with a drill, a drywall screw, a pair of screw plyers, brute force and a whole lot of guts on Jake's part. I do believe by the end of the weekend we had managed to work our way through a dozen bottles of wine, a small bottle of whiskey, and almost a whole bottle of Amaretto. Huzzah! Oh, I forgot the case of beer. (Dann and Karen, we forgot the frozen shot glasses. We will get them at the birthday party. That seems kind of wrong....)
On New Year's Eve, Anne and I gave Karen a break from mommyhood and a trip to the spa. She was a puddle of smooth skin and shiny nails by 1 PM. Dann showed up to take her out for the afternoon, so they could remember what it was like to just be a couple and not mom and dad for just a little while. Since they managed to pick up antibiotics on the trip, I don't think it entirely worked. The rest of us managed to keep the boys alive while they were out. We even managed to get them to take small naps. After a lot of coaxing. And holding. We were suckers. While they were out Anne started her spaghetti sauce, and the smell soon filled the house. It was almost more intoxicating than the pear port. Almost. After a satisfying, late dinner of spaghetti, salad, and cheesy garlic bread (and more wine of course) we settled down to play Wii and Catch Phrase while waiting for the now sad Dick Clark countdown. Is his legacy really going to go to Seacrest? Can someone really live in the U.S. of A. and be blissfully ignorant of who Ryan Seacrest is? Apparently so, Anne. I wish I were you. The hour came, the ball fell, the champagne was passed, kisses were exchanged, and we managed to stay up to close to 2 AM. I think. It might have been closer to 1. We tried in our dotage. Again I blame the wine more than age.
Sadly, as all good things must, our visit ended around 11 AM after way too many pancakes and many hugs and kisses and baby pictures. We got to Reston around 12:30, just enough time to initiate John and I into the wonder that is Five Guys. We reached Harrisburg in enough time to grab some Starbuck's before getting Jake to the train station and had the last good bye of the holiday.
Yet again, we proved that ties can last and no matter what each year brings, the end of one and the beginning of the next will bring us all together. May this year be cancer free and baby full. They can't really be turning one?!

My photos will be up at shortly.