Friday night, after Brandon and I got home from work, we went to check with Ryan to see if he was packed and ready to leave the following day to go visit Owen.
“Yeah, I’ve put all my clothes and other things in my duffle bag and Noah is going to drive me to the bus station tomorrow morning. I’m really looking forward to seeing Owen again.”
“I’m glad you’re so excited about doing this, but just remember to call when you get there so we’ll know you made it safely.”
“You’re starting to sound just like Grandpa Josh.”
“Maybe I am, but we still want to know that you arrived in one piece.”
“Yeah, I get it and I’ll call just as soon as I get to their house.”
“Thank you, because it’s all we ask for letting you do this.”
“I know, and that’s why I said I’d do it,” he replied with a grin, and a second later he went over to his dresser and pulled something out of the drawer. “I want you to give this to Holly on her birthday and make sure she knows it’s from me.”
“It looks like you have a card attached to it, so didn’t you sign it?”
“Yeah, but I was afraid it might become separated from my present.”
“Ok, we’ll make sure she gets it and knows it’s from you.”
Now that we knew Ryan was packed and ready to go, we went to change, and while we were doing that I turned to Brandon and spoke.
“I believe we might have a problem. I have a feeling that both Noah and Ryan have crushes on Holly.”
“Yes, I was thinking the same thing. What do you think we should do about it?”
“I’m not sure, but seeing Ryan’s going away for a while we should have time to think it over. He’ll be gone for a couple of weeks, and then when he comes back he’ll have Owen with him, so that should give us a little more time to work something out.”
“And shortly after Owen returns home, we’ll all be busy getting ready for Pat’s wedding and Dad’s birthday, so that should keep them busy long enough that it won’t be an issue until after we get back.”
“And it will only be a week or so after that before Holly and Noah leave for college, so we may be able to dodge this bullet after all.”
“So you think the combination of all those things might solve the problem for us, at least until they return home for Thanksgiving and Christmas?”
“I hope so, but I’ll ask Dad, Pop, Dion, and Trey to help us keep an eye on the three of them in the meantime.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Brandon agreed and then we finished getting dressed.
We went to check in with the younger kids next and asked each one about his day. After we discovered what each of them had been up to, including Revin, we had the boys take Dobby and Flash outside quickly, before we sat down to eat.
During dinner, I decided to ask Noah a question. “Ryan said you’d agreed to drive him to the bus station tomorrow. Is that correct?”
“Yeah, I told him I’d do it because I knew you guys would be at work.”
“Thank you, that’s a big help,” I replied, but I also wondered if it was just Noah’s attempt to get Ryan away from Holly.
“Where’s Ryan going?” Hunter asked.
“He’s going to spend a couple weeks with a friend who moved away from here at the end of last summer.”
“And he’ll be coming back with me to spend a couple of weeks with us.”
“So we’ll get to meet him?” Hayden followed.
“Yep, you sure will.”
When we finished our meal, Brandon and I spent some time with Holly and the boys in the family room, and of course the boys had Dobby and Flash with them. The puppies moved from one boy to the next seeking attention, and the boys were happy to give it to them, but occasionally Dobby and Flash would wander over to Holly or one of us. They never stayed for very long and would soon go back to the boys, so they’d obviously figured out who fed them and spent the most time with them. Dobby and Flash spent most of their time hanging out with Tristan, Wyatt, Hayden, and Hunter, but they also paid more attention to Revin than they did to the rest of us. I think it was because he played with them whenever he was here, which was every weekday and every other weekend.
Before the boys went upstairs to get ready for bed, they took the puppies outside one more time before putting them in the carrier for the night. After giving the boys sufficient time to shower, Brandon and I went upstairs and discovered they were waiting for us in the twins’ bedroom. When Brandon went to retrieve the book from the dresser it wasn’t there, so he looked over at the other dresser to see if we’d put it there the night before. It wasn’t on that dresser either, so he turned to the boys and spoke.
“I think we’ve got a problem. I can’t find the book.”
“No we don’t,” Hunter piped up. “I was just holdin’ it for you until you were ready to start readin’ it.”
“Oh, ok. I thought maybe the puppies ate it.”
“Nah, they can only chew soft stuff. Remember? It’s why we give them the can dog food.”
“Yes, I guess I forgot.”
“And Dobby and Flash never come upstairs,” Wyatt told us.
“Yeah, they aren’t big enough to climb the stairs yet,” Hayden added.
“That’s good to know,” Brandon responded as he reached out to take the book from Hunter.
He then read the next chapter to them, and when he finished Tristan and Revin headed over to Tristan’s room. After Brandon and I tucked the younger three in, we kissed them on the forehead and said good night before we headed over to do the same thing with the other two. When we finished with them, we continued our rounds and eventually said goodnight to the rest of our children.
When we went downstairs, we told the others of our suspicions about Ryan and Noah, and after discussing it for a couple of minutes they agreed to help us make sure it didn’t get out of hand. We thanked them before heading to bed, and we felt a little better knowing the others were willing to help out.
Brandon and I made a stop on the way home from work on Saturday to pick something up, and when we got to the house we went to find Noah first. “So did Ryan get on the bus ok?” I asked.
“Yeah, and he wanted me to tell you that he said goodbye and thank you for letting him spend time with Owen.”
“I just hope he remembers to call when he gets there,” I said next.
“He will. Don’t worry.”
After changing quickly, we went to join the rest of the family for lunch, but before we got to the table Dion stopped us and asked a question. “What do you think about taking everyone to play miniature golf after we finish eating?”
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” Brandon responded.
“Did you ask Dad and Pop if they might want to join us?” I followed.
“No, I wanted to see what you thought about the idea first.”
“Well it’s ok with us, so why don’t you check with them before we tell the kids about this.”
He did, and then he mentioned it to the boys and Holly while we were eating. “I’ve talked to your dads about this,” Dion began, “and now we’d like to know how many of you would like to go miniature golfing after lunch?”
They all did, at least everyone who was there at the time. Ryan was on his way to visit Owen, and Elliot had left earlier to spend time with Ian, but everyone else, including Dad and Pop, were eager to do this.
Before we left the house, we thought we’d decide who would be in the various groups, and Noah quickly announced that he wanted to be with Holly. As soon as he told us that, Dad and Pop agreed to join them and make a foursome. Dion and Trey were planning to go with their sons, but Wyatt wanted to be with Hunter and Hayden, so they reached a compromise. Dion would go with Benny and Joshie, and Trey would be with Wyatt, Hunter, and Hayden. Brandon and I would be joining Tristan and Revin to comprise the final group. Now that this was settled, we loaded into our vehicles and took off.
The place wasn’t very busy when we got there, which was a good thing, so we quickly paid the appropriate fees and got started. Dad and his group went first, quickly followed by Dion’s trio. Trey’s gang went next, and then Brandon and my foursome brought up the rear. We offered to do this so we’d be able to deal with anyone behind us, especially if they were being critical of how long some of the others were taking. We were concerned that Trey’s foursome would be going slower than the rest, since he had the three youngest and least experienced golfers, so we offered to be the buffers between them and whoever else showed up.
We were on the tenth hole when four teenagers caught up to us. Since we were just about finished at that hole, nothing happened, but when they caught up to us at the next hole, they began complaining. “What’s taking so long?” one of them shouted.
“The group in front of us has three young boys who haven’t done this very often, so it’s taking them a little longer.”
“Can’t we speed things up?” one of the others asked.
“Why don’t you give me a minute so I can talk to them about it?”
While Brandon and the others kept playing, I went up and talked to Trey. He agreed to wait after they finished that hole and we’d let the teens go ahead of us. The other groups were a couple of holes ahead of them, so the teenagers wouldn’t be held up too badly before they finished. When I returned to my group, I finished up that hole and then we let the teens play through – problem averted.
Once they had passed us, Trey’s group and ours played the final holes, and then we got ready to leave. “I’m glad you thought of letting the teens go ahead of us,” Trey said as we were turning in our putters.
“I felt it was the best way to avoid further problems.”
“The boys didn’t mind them doing that either, and it prevented them from being pressured to go faster.”
“I’m just glad it worked out.”
When we got back to the house, the boys were busy telling each other about things that happened while they were playing. “Hayden’s ball got stuck in that little building cuz he didn’t hit it hard enough,” Hunter announced.
“And one time you hit your ball too hard and it went into the water,” Hayden shot back.
“I did that too,” Holly admitted, trying to defuse the tension between her brothers.
“No you didn’t,” Hayden challenged.
“Yes, she did that too and I had to fish the ball out of the pond for her,” Noah confirmed.
“And both of those things tend to happen to a lot of the people that play there,” Dad pointed out.
“On one of the holes my dad took his putt after me and his ball hit my ball and knocked it closer to the hole,” Joshie added. “And Benny hit the blade on the windmill when he was trying to knock it through the middle opening.”
“That’s where my ball got stuck inside it,” Hayden admitted.
“Yes, that was a tricky hole,” Brandon concurred.
“And Grandpa Jake hit his ball over the barrier on the hole where you had to hit it against the corner board to get it to go around the bend,” Holly added.
“Yes, that was the hole with the dogleg. I was trying to hit the ball hard enough to get a hole-in-one, but I lifted it into the air and it went over the sideboard,” Pop admitted.
“At least we all had fun. Right?” I asked.
“Yeah, it was a blast,” they all agreed before heading off to do something else.
After the discussion was ended, I happened to look at my watch and noticed it was nearly time for Ryan’s bus to be reaching its destination, so I was expecting he’d be calling soon. The problem was that he still hadn’t called by the time we were getting ready to sit down for dinner, so I began to worry. I think Dad must have noticed the concerned look on my face, because he asked a question.
“Have you heard from Ryan yet?”
“Not yet, and I’m beginning to worry.”
“He probably just forgot,” Pop added reassuringly.
“I hope that’s all it is, because he promised to call when he got there.”
“He was probably happy to see Owen again and just forgot,” Noah offered. “I’m sure he’ll realize it soon and will call then.”
“I hope so.”
That didn’t happen until about an hour later when my phone finally rang. I was relieved to see it was from Ryan.
“It’s about time,” I said when answering the call.
“I’m sorry, but it wasn’t my fault. A lot happened and the bus got in a lot later than we were supposed to.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Besides the bus making stops at nearly everyplace we passed along the way, it broke down and we had to wait for the company to send another bus so we could get here.”
“Your bus broke down?”
“Yeah, I thought we were just making another stop when the driver pulled over, but then he got off the bus so he could check the engine. When he came back, he told us there was a problem and he’d called and reported it to the company and they were sending another bus to take us the rest of the way. We had to wait a pretty long time for the other bus to get there, and when they did we had to move everything from one bus to the other one.”
“Why didn’t you just call when that happened and let us know?”
“I’d been texting so much with Owen that the battery on my phone died before it happened. I’m sorry, cuz that part was my fault.”
“I’m just happy to know that you made it there safely. I hope it didn’t inconvenience Owen’s parents too badly.”
“Nah, they found out about the bus breaking down when they showed up to get me, so Owen said they just went and did some other stuff before coming back to pick me up.”
“I’m glad to hear that it didn’t cause a problem.”
“It didn’t, and it was great to see Owen again.”
“Well I’m sure you’ll have fun with him, but just be careful. We want you to have a good time while you’re there, but we also want you to be safe. We love you, and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”
“Thanks, and I love you guys too, and I’ll call again next weekend to let you know nothing has happened to me.” He giggled after saying this.
“I look forward to hearing from you then, and thank you. Goodbye and enjoy yourself.”
“I will. Bye.”
At least now I could relax, since I knew nothing was wrong, so I went to inform the others about what Ryan had told me. “I’m glad the bus breaking down didn’t lead to an accident,” Pop stated.
“Me too, and it seems Ryan bought his ticket for the local, instead of the express bus.”
“That probably was a good thing,” Dad responded. “Otherwise the breakdown might have happened on the highway and led to other problems.”
“Yes, you’re probably right about that, but at least he made it there safely.”
Later, after we finished reading the next chapter to the boys, I made an announcement. “That’s the end of the Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, so tomorrow we’ll start reading the next book in the series.”
“What’s that one called?” Wyatt wanted to know.
“The title is, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great.”
“You mean it’s about a girl,” Tristan said while making a face.
“Yes, she’s Peter’s friend, and you must remember that she was mentioned in this book too. Don’t worry, though, because he’ll be in that story as well.”
“K, I hope so. I like him and Fudge, but I like Fudge better, cuz he does crazy stuff.”
“Yeah, like when he broke his teeth jumping off the jungle gym,” Hayden offered.
“Or when he ate Dribble,” Hunter followed. Dribble was Peter’s pet turtle that he’d won at a friend’s birthday party.
“He didn’t actually eat Dribble, he just swallowed it,” I correct.
“But Dribble still died,” Revin pointed out.
“Yes, that’s true, and it’s why Peter’s parents bought him a dog to replace Dribble.”
“And why Peter called the dog Turtle,” Tristan offered.
“That’s true too, and now it’s time for all of you to get into bed and go to sleep.”
Tristan and Revin got up and headed over to Tristan’s room, and Brandon and I went through our nightly ritual with the three youngest first, before going over to do the same with the other pair. We then went to say goodnight to the others before calling it a night.
The next morning, we woke the boys up and had them do their morning routine with the puppies before getting ready for church, and then we picked up Becky. After going to our Sunday school classes and sitting through the sermon, we went to the diner for brunch before dropping Becky and Revin off at their house. As she was getting out of the SUV, I handed her the shopping bag from the stop Brandon and I had made on the way home the day before.
“What this?” she asked looking confused.
“It’s the rest of the series we’ve been reading to the boys,” I replied. “We finished the first book last night, so you’ll need these to keep up with us.”
“You didn’t have to do this. I could have purchased the next book once Revin told me what it was.”
“That’s true, but this way you won’t have to bother and you’ll be able to read the first chapter of the next book tonight.”
“Thank you. You guys are so sweet and thoughtful. Bye.”
As soon as they entered their house, I drove the rest of us home and we got ready to enjoy the remainder of the day.