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Anyone for a Game of UNO

Yesterday we were supposed to take Russell to Cedar Point with a friend to celebrate his birthday. Since Lyle and I gimped around much of the spring and summer, we didn’t make our yearly trek toward the roller coasters. The Halloween celebrations in the park intrigued the boy so we decided to give it a whirl.

None of us anticipated the difficulty of scheduling the mini road trip for us or Russell’s buddies. There was play practice, religious services, soccer play-offs and work, which Russell soon needs to join the ranks. Normally, we would go anyway. We all love roller coasters, but this year, Lyle is gimping from one place to another with his hamstring injury, and I want nothing to do with whipping around anything. Russell underwent a roller coaster apprenticeship early on so we could avoid the scene with a kid screaming to get out of the line just as the family emerged from the 3-hour wait to get on the rock star of coasters. No, way. I saw it happen too many times, and it would not happen in the Fast family.

We cancelled the trip, and since disappointment already hung in the air like fog over an abandoned field on a chilly fall morning, it seemed like a perfect time to talk about spending habits and how crazy-ass expensive things seem to be. Wow, that’s a great topic, which left us all feeling like we were skating along the edge of a freshly honed knife, ready and waiting to make one slip up and end it all.

From there I deduced that making a pumpkin pie would help. Yeah, I know they shoulda just called for the men in white coats by then. But I did have my reasons, really.

Years ago when a much smaller Russell saw miniature pumpkins in the farmers market next to the jack-o-lantern giants, he begged for me to make a REAL pumpkin pie. Every year since, he inquires; this year I obliged. But as I anticipated, the process is long and a pain in the ass. I did discover, however, that roasted pumpkin tastes like any other winter squash, is bigger and often cheaper, so there you go.

We argued and bitched while I pureed pumpkin and melted butter and mixed spices into the brownish-orange goo, all the while Russell continued to deny ever asking me to make a pumpkin pie, whatever. Once I popped the pies in the oven, I asked him if he wanted to play a game. No, not Monopoly, which almost always ends with one of our family members feeling like they’ve been banished to the interior regions of Siberia, and certainly not RISK, which instead of Siberia, one of us was sure to land in a bunker, hunkered down in Mogadishu.

I suggested Yahtzee; he grumbled and said UNO. Sure. We played UNO on our bed; my boy stretched from one end to nearly the other. I find it interesting that almost all of our games end up with us plopped down on our over-sized bed. We spent many nights and mornings there when it was a family bed, when Russell was a baby and subsequent toddler, Lyle and I often wondering if he would ever leave it for his own independent space. During some of the turbulent teen times, I find myself barely able to remember those moments. They seem so hazy and long tucked away, and tears well at the corners of my eyes blurring my vision as they threaten to topple over my cheeks thinking of those distant times, wishing sometimes for just a brief taste. Growing up is supposed to be that way I guess. If it was peaceful all the time, we’d never want them to leave, right?

We laughed as the Draw 2 cards were played and reverse cards threatened to make us all dizzy. No one even cared that Lyle won all three games.

The timer beeped and we took the pies out of the oven and replaced them with pumpkin seeds. We ate warm pumpkin pie with melty Cool Whip and followed it up with some toasty pumpkin seeds, which by the way I think my tummy is paying the price this morning with all the extra fiber from the hulls of the seeds.

Regardless, it was good to reconnect. We needed it because I think we were all ready to kick each other to the curb. I suppose it’s easy to be in a perfect family; ours has a few warts and bumps and knots, but I love those guys, and I’m glad that a little UNO was just the peace keeper we needed.

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