The Great Thanksgiving Road Trip went pretty well, overall. Unfortunately, I was pretty sick for just about the whole thing. And Kim was sick for part of it, too. As was Isaac, who had RSV and needed to breathe medication through a mask three times a day. So I won't say it was a perfect holiday, but it was good times with good food. And we got to see my folks in OKC for a day at Chuck E. Cheese. Robbie had never been to a CEC. I hadn't been since (I think) we moved from California, which was 1988. (August 8th, for the record. The day before Wayne Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings) I seem to remember loving Chuck E Cheese and especially the large animatronic characters who would sing for guests' entertainment. Apparently, however, this is not the case, as my mom, dad, and sister all went on and on about how I was terrified of these characters as a child. Funny the different ways we remember things twenty years later.
At any rate, I remember thinking that Showtime was a pretty big deal at CEC. At this CEC...not so much. While my childhood's memories had Chuck E. flanked by an entire animatronic backup band, this iteration of the franchise featured a robot Chuck E. and a TV screen where he interacted with puppet versions of his friends from my memory. It wasn't the same, and I couldn't really blame all the kids in the restaurant for completely ignoring the musical numbers. Also, they ought to allow Chuck E. to have a degree of manual control rather than being completely pre-programmed. During the few moments when a couple of kids gathered by his stage to watch the show, Chuck E. was usually looking in a completely different direction than the kids were standing. "Are you guys enjoying the show?" he'd ask an entire row of empty tables while four cute little ones stood off to the side, hoping Chuck E. would talk to them.
(Now that I think about it, the only concrete memory I have of CEC as a kid was the entire cast singing Neil Diamond's "America," which was my absolute favorite song as a four-year-old)
Robbie loved Chuck E. Cheese, and I don't think he even realized there was a show element. He was happy playing games even before he knew he could get prizes with the tickets he won. Whack-A-Mole has become pretty high tech. Instead of physically whacking tangible objects that pop out of holes in front of you, you now use a toy mallet to whap a TV screen that has mice scurrying across it. You hit them and actually get to see them smush before little mouse angels leave their lifeless mousey bodies. Now, I'm trying not to be one of those "Back in my day..." old guys, but...that's just not quite right. There was also a game where you had to use a water gun to shoot monsters, and the game was rigged with plexiglass all around it so you couldn't spray everyone with water. Except that Robbie found the one corner of the game that, when hit directly, would send water splashing back far enough to get himself wet. And so he just aimed for that one spot over and over and over. The kid was actually pretty wet by the time he was done playing games.
The car trips were actually not that bad. Isaac slept for half of the drive and he sat happily looking out the window/ playing with his duck/ sticking his tongue out at Robbie the rest of the time. I can't recall a single instance he started crying much the whole way to Oklahoma or back. Robbie didn't fare quite so well--sitting still is not so easy for him, even in short intervals of time. But we all made it. Gives me hope for Christmas, because we'll be traveling a lot for Christmas.
I'm enjoying our Christmas season so far. We got the tree up the day we returned from OK, we've been listening to the music, Robbie's in a play at his school (he's playing one of the wise men), and I recently checked five Christmas-themed books out of the library since I don't have our TV working and we're missing the annual Cheesy Christmas TV Special-palooza. Isaac is crawling now, so he's becoming a lot more fun (and challenging) to play with. I recently had another play accepted for publication, and that's exciting. My sleep difficulties are coming back, which is unfortunate, but so far I'm not staying up till 5 like I was before we moved. Five Iron Frenzy is officially coming back, and I almost wrote a long blog about that but I was too tired at the time. Still, seems like a good idea to wrap up this post with a video for their new song. Enjoy, and talk to you again soon!