DISCLAIMER: Part 3 has bread crumbs.

December 27th, 2008 - Saturday
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The morning was tedious, just like the day before. This time, though, when we asked my mom if she felt up to anything "family" she voted that we were finally going to have the picnic that had been planned since before I arrived.

I finally got my Christmas-present-to-myself in the mail and I was ready to be NOT in my house. I tried for like 3 hours the day before to get the nearby caches to download with no luck, but this morning I got up, plugged it in, and it worked fine, so away I went. Time to hit the walking trail behind our house. Ry and I made plans to meet up with my family all the way over in the park (about 4 miles away), then hit the road, armed with TBs, the GPS, scooter and skateboard. Time to go caching!

I won't bore you with details, but we had a blast treasure hunting and searching, though we couldn't find one, and almost gave up on some others. After about I dunno two or three hours in the heat, exerting ourselves, and having a blast, we were stumped on a particular cache, and Ry wanted to just quit and move on. I opted for a detour to the McD's to get some water. Which we did. We even PAID for BOTTLES. I figured out that I was lame, and decoded the hint wrong, and we then knew where what we were looking for actually was - genius. I was still thirsty and instead of just TAKING IT, I waited in line for like 2 minutes to politely asked Mr. Couldn't-do-better-than-McD's-dead-end-career who'd I just given more than a DOLLAR for the stupid bottle if I could get a refill. He said no.

HE SAID NO. OF ALL THE [EXPLETIVE] NERVE! NO? *FREAKS* This is EXACTLY why I refuse to eat here. [More expletive]

I said some things I shouldn't have (covered Ry's ears first), and made a few gestures, threw my water bottle in the garbage (in retrospect I shoulda lobbed it at jerkwipe's face) and we left. Back to the hunt. We made the find, and gladly moved on. We continued working our way down the trail, and made good time, but still ended up having to wait for the rest of the family. I had Ry take us to where they'd picnicked last time and we lay down in the shade on the lovely real grass (most Florida grass in crabgrass which in Ohio = weed, and always will be in my mind...) and waited. When the rest of the family arrived, Bro walked up to where we were, read a sign, and walked away. We got up and moved closer while Mom said we were moving elsewhere. Then we saw the sign (dare you not to sing it in your head!) "WARNING: This area CLOSED for Chemical Treatment."

X.x Awesome. Now I'm going to grow a fifth arm or something ridiculous because my genius 12-yr old brother led me to grass from the side where the sign wasn't visible. Why the heck wasn't the place roped off? Why wasn't there more than one sign? Gar.

After we freaked out for a few, we drove to the new location and set up for the picnic and some good ol' family fun (read: croquet!) Unfortunately it was an old croquet set, and there were kinda 8 of us. There are only 6 balls in a complete set, and we lost one. So in utter disgrace to the super nice Bocce Ball set we have, we used 3 balls from there to make 8. Take about your UNFAIR. Bocce balls are like 2x heavier, and way harder to make move great distances when you are thrashing them with a mallet. Unless you hit them REALLY hard, and then they go completely 1000% farther than you ever intended to hit them. Agh. Needless to say, Pops, Bro, and I (the 3 oldest males) all did not fare well. We ended up horribly in the last places (to the point that I blatantly and carelessly cheated and stayed almost last) and arrived at the finish as the poison balls were rolling out. Awesome. Somehow I made it to the end and obtained poison status. Bro and I had an alliance to go all the way to the end together, but then when I poison-entered... he was the only one there, so in a fit of foolish betrayal I went for him. And missed. And I got destroyed for it. I was like the 3rd person out or something like that. Meh. That just meant I got food faster, lol. We had subs and chips and a fresh fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas (yech!), and apples. Delish.

After the food was done, Bro and I declared rematch, this time we got to use croquet balls though. We did much better not having a HUGE and ABSURD handicap. Funny thing though. When we started the first game, 'Stas was in last place. And everytime she went, she whined that she hated the game and couldn't play and didn't know how. Well, Bro and I stepped in, gave her pointers, and away she went. 2nd game came down to me and her. The one who couldn't play. We were close enough to be in hitting range. She was going to run, knowing she'd be decimated. We encouraged her to take the shot! Try and hit me! If she got it, she won. If she didn't, well she'd lose anyway, right? She went for it. Miss. An evil laugh, and a hit. In the bag. I, what? Missed? How? Centimeters, my friends. But with enough force it was again the same distance. Encouraged once more, she took the shot. And got LUCKY! Clink, and I was out. The 14-yr old who can't play the game WINS. She beat me! ;) Way to go lil' sis. (I taught her everything she knows!)

The family togetherness was actually relatively enjoyable, and I had high hopes that finally, my mom was returning to normal. Maybe the worst was over?

Nope. When we got home that night Ry almost got grounded for an entire month simply for asking my sister a question. Yee. Bro decided it was time to cut his losses, and he went back to his apartment. He was tired of my mom being psycho, and over-dramatic, and didn't understand what was really happening underneath all that. J retreated to his room and buried himself in books. Krys went out with her BF. 'Stas and Ry had nowhere to hide, nowhere to go. And were too young to handle it. ME. Again. Always. I'm the one who has to fix, to help. I tried to broach the subject more than once with my father but he didn't seem to see the extent of the damage even. And it was, according to my mom, his gouge in the first place. The fun is there, the family love is real, but it all breaks down against the whole truth and I'm just left with bloody hands gripping tightly at splintered shards.

December 28th, 2008 - Sunday
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A day of rest. Of peace. Of renewal. I hoped.

I didn't feel like waking up, but I did anyway. Church. I don't even remember any of the talks, so clearly it wasn't overly uplifting/enriching. I found myself missing my kids though, and asked my mom could I come to nursery with her. I mean, I hadn't been to Sunday School in months! She said no, then after a moment, amended her statement by saying, "I guess you could come instead of your father." I'd forgotten. They work together in there. I sighed. I wanted to stand up right there in the middle of everyone and just yell. IT'S BEEN 3 DAYS FOR LAND SAKES!!! SPEAK TO EACH OTHER! THIS IS ABSURD! ARE YOU REALLY JUST GOING TO GO ON SLEEPING IN THE SAME BED EVERY NIGHT PRETENDING THIS DIDNT HAPPEN? THAT THESE FESTERING HOLES ARENT THERE AND NEED REPAIRING?!? I didn't know what to do. I didn't how to reach them. How to patch this disaster. I didn't. But I knew I wouldn't be the creator of opportunities for them to increase the distance. I opted to go to Sunday School. My dad went to the nursery then joined me 5 minutes later. Cop-out! I wanted to shake him, slap him, sock him, scream, and make him see. But how? I just sat in silence. And picked apart the teacher. Who seriously WAS the WORST Sunday School Teacher ever. E V E R. Powerpoint. Slides with the text from the Scriptures on them. Really? So unnecessary. He didn't interact with the class, didn't ask good questions, ignored people's hands, I almost couldn't bear it. Priesthood ended up being more of the same.

When we got in the car, I almost had a complete breakdown like in previous years. My dad was annoyed, and I was not happy with the whole mom situation, Ry and 'Stasia were fighting, and Krysten had to thrust herself in the middle and voice her 17 yr-old harsh, mature opinion. AGH.

But in that moment of extreme annoyance and border-line tears, everything clicked into place about this place. Florida. Hell. Previous breakdowns. Why I hate it here.

And the most important piece of all was the succulent, and life-important realization that it WASN'T ME. I love my family to death, but they are also what I so deeply hate. The constant fighting, the disagreements, the impatience, the silence and tension, the overreacting... it's not me. When I stop eating and sleeping and my self-destructive behaviors multiply and renew themselves, it's because I can't handle the myriad breakdowns in my family unit I've refused to see. INCREDIBLE.

A very, very large portion of time(read: the rest of the day) was dedicated to my jigsaw puzzle, which I'd already started on some days earlier, and had quickly become my escape. I brought out my laptop, put on my Mindy, EFY, and Hymns mix, and had to shut the sliding doors 3x at least to not overhear more fighting and bickering. Florida is like Ohio. Only much, much worse. It's my own family, so the discrepancies, the problems, the glaring holes... they all hurt deeper and affect me more readily. This is why. This is why I do not come here. Because I see the problems and the fights and the wounds and I want to fix them all. Only here I *do* insert myself to try and fix everything because it's my family and I love them and I care about them so much. This revelation, while vindicating of my self, was crushing when it came to everyone else, and I lost myself eagerly in the pieces of my puzzle. I hate Florida.

December 29th, 2008 - Monday
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When I woke up this morning, still reeling from the day before, I was relieved to find that my mom actually wanted to do something. My dad had gone back to work. It cuts me to the core thinking (and in some cases knowing) that those who love their work only do so because it provides an escape from the shambles that is their home.

While my mom got ready and had things to do, I took 'Stas to do her exercise, Ry on his scooter, hopped on my skateboard, and did some more caching. Because I'm a freaking addict. This time we cached the other half of the trail. Ry and Stas both enjoyed themselves, though we got stumped on the last one (which I am not yet convinced is even still actually there) before mom came with Krysten to pick us up.

Off to the beach we went. W00t beach. We had more picnic, and I played in the water, which was cold, but nothing like California Santa Cruz water cold. It ended up being kinda sad and anticlimactic thought because I went out in the ocean almost to where I couldn't touch anymore (which is when the wave hopping gets actually fun) but my mom wouldn't let any of the youngins out that far, and she wasn't coming, so I was by myself. Which is boring. So I went back in. My mom told me I went super duper far out to the point that she was just waiting for the lifeguard to scream at me (how would I have heard if I was really that far out?) Ry tried to teach me how to do some kind of boarding whose name I can't remember, where you have boards similar to boogie boards, but hard, and you try and skim across the shallows or something like that. Anyway, he must either be doing it wrong, or it's the lamest sport EVER invented, because it super didn't work. At all. Once we got board with the water, we spent like two hours making this enormous sandcastle, only we didn't dig it in completely dry sand, and when we made our moat to protect the castle for when the waves came, it flooded itself from underneath (read: nothing could be more lame). So we dug this huge trench and then an even huger pit, which also failed and filled itself. Oh well, we had fun anyway.

Once we got home and all cleaned up, I decided to run. Because I was tired of hurting and feeling bad, and trying to figure out how to make my ill-fitting, imperfectly failing family function. My mom said she had no plans for the evening, so (with permission) I kidnapped J and Ry, and we all crashed my Bro's apt. When we got there one of his roomie's friends were over so we played Halo with her for a bit, then decided we were hungry, and went to Stake N Shake. With my 12-yr old brother. At like 2am, lol. Good times. We were happily enjoying our food when 2am actually did happen and being that my Bro lives right by a campus, suddenly the place started filling up with drunk people because the bars close at 2am. LOL We took the 12-yr old and went home. Quickly. LOL Then we decided we were tired and bagged the game and slept.

December 30th, 2008 - Tuesday
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We woke up late, since we went to bed the same, then settled in for more video game. We didn't quite make it to the end before it was time for J and I to leave and play some more Frisbee. Only this time there wasn't an invite-all. Just a bunch of kids. I was the oldest (though I don't look it!) as most of them were High Schoolers, with some College Kids mixed in. But a much tougher, rougher group than we played with on Christmas Eve. Which suited me fine.

I made some good plays this time and felt a little better about what I was doing (don't get me started about my "sports" complex). I did drop some easy passes though, which frustrated me. We frisbee'd for a good 4 hours. Then we cut out to pick up Ry from Bro's and take Bro to work. After that we showered and tried to play some StarCraft, but couldn't get it to work. J went to the movies with a friend, and since there wasn't anything else to do we watched Kit Kittredge: An American Girl with my parents. My mom got it since it was the only one on her queue that sounded even remotely watchable to me.

Grade: A. I won't lie on this one. This was actually a dang good movie. Make fun all you want, it's really worth your time. I was surprised myself. But it's emotionally engaging, funny, a good storyline, and the acting is on par as well. I was impressed, and might even put it somewhere on my top 10 list (I'd have to figure out the list first of course).

After J got back from the movies, we escaped to Greg’s once more where he and Roommate were playing JLA. Once they finished, we settled in to finish what we'd started, and the four of us finally finished the game. w00t. And then to bed around 3am, just like the night before. Aren't brothers great?

Stay tuned...

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