The boys were all off doing their own thing, so I decided to take Dobby and Flash to the local dog park.It was a beautiful day and they hadn’t been around any other dogs yet, except for their mother and other siblings, so I thought this would be a good experience for them.
I could see there were a few other owners and their pets at the park when we arrived, so I hooked a leash onto each puppy before we got out of the SUV.As we got closer, I quickly spotted a Chocolate lab, a golden retriever, and a Siberian husky, so Dobby and Flash were definitely the smallest ones there.Once we were inside the enclosed area I released them from their leases, and since the other dogs were already familiar with one another, they raced over to greet the new pair.Although I’m not sure why dogs always sniff each other’s butt, it’s exactly what they did, and then they chased each other around while I sat down and chatted with their owners.
“The puppies are cute.What are their names?” asked one of the two women.
“The male is Dobby and the female is Flash.”
“Ok, I get Dobby from the Harry Potter books and movies, so why didn’t you choose another name from that series for the female, like Hermione, Ginny, Luna, or even Minerva?Minerva was Professor McGonagall’s first name.”
“Yes, I know, but they’re the twins’ dogs and each boy named one of the puppies.Flash was the name of a dog from one of their favorites books, and we didn’t interfere when he chose to name her that.”
“Ok, that makes sense now.”
“So, what are your dogs’ names?” I asked the owners collectively.
“I’m Donna and I’m sorry – I didn’t introduce myself earlier,” said the first woman.“I own the golden retriever and her name is Katie.My daughter named her, but she’s over on the playground at the moment.”
“Hi, I’m Karen and my dog is the Siberian husky,” said the other woman, “and her name is Rosie.My daughter named her as well, and she’s with Donna’s daughter over on the playground equipment.”
“I guess you’ve figured out that I own the lab,” said the young man next.He appeared to be in his mid to late teens.“I’m Jack and my dog’s name is Hershey.I’d heard someone else was using that name for their dog, and seeing we live in Pennsylvania and he’s a chocolate lab, I thought it was a good name for my dog too.My other choice was Reeces, but my dad didn’t like that name, so it wasn’t an option.My little sister wanted to call him Kisses and my little brother thought we should name him Kit Kat, but I didn’t care for those names.”
“It looks like you made the best choice then.By the way, my name is Trey.”
We continued chatting as the dogs played, and I was surprised at how well the five of them were getting along.I also noticed that Dobby watched Hershey as he cocked his leg to pee on a tree, because Dobby usually just squatted like Flash.
Eventually, we all agreed it was time to leave and head home since it was lunchtime, and Dobby and Flash came when I called them, but only after the other owners had called their dogs as well.I put a leash on each one and took them over to the SUV, and they were both panting quite heavily as I drove back to the house. The first thing they did when we got home was to race over to their water bowls, so after they finished drinking I made sure to fill both bowls again.
I wasn’t sure who else was currently at home, but I could hear the TV playing in the family room and detected the sound of someone else shooting pool in the rec room.I decided to walk around and see if I could find out who was here and discovered Elliot and Ian in the rec room, so I asked if they wanted me to fix lunch for them.
“Yeah, that would be great,” said Elliot.“Just let us know when it’s ready.”
I then found Ryan and Owen in the family room, so I asked them the same question.
“Yeah, and can Owen stay and eat here too?His grandma let me eat with them when I was down there, cuz he’s stayin’ with her and his grandpa for part of the summer.”
“Of course, it’s not a problem.”
I then went out to the kitchen and prepared lunch for the five of us, and when it was ready I called the boys to the table to eat.While we were stuffing our faces, Ryan asked a question.
“Where did you go to earlier, cuz you weren’t here when I came back from Owen’s grandma’s house?”
“I took Dobby and Flash to the dog park.I thought they needed to get out and interact with other dogs for a change, and they seemed to get along very well with the dogs that were there.”
“Yeah, I knew they wouldn’t cause any problems.”
“I was mostly concerned about how the other dogs would react to them, seeing Dobby and Flash are so small and friendly.”
“K, I got ya now.”
“I know this doesn’t have anything to do with what you two are talking about, but I thought I should let you know that I’m going to have dinner with Ian’s family tonight,” said Elliot.“I felt I should tell you so you didn’t fix too much, but we’ll be coming back here later.”
“Thank you.I appreciate you telling me this.”
The rest of the day was fairly typical, except for when I took the puppies outside to do their business later.That’s when I noticed Dobby was trying to cock his leg to urinate as he stood next to one of the bushes, so I guess watching Hershey earlier made an impression on him. It made me smile!
Noah, Holly, and Pop all arrived home from work at their usual times, and then we all sat down to eat.Owen went to his grandparent’s house earlier and Elliot was with Ian, so it was just the remainder of the family, and we chatted about our day, as well as any local news of interest.
“Pop, have you heard from Dad and do you know when he’ll be returning home?” I asked.
“I’ve talked to him and he’s still with Andrew, Sammy, and Graham, but they’re in Harrisburg at the moment.They’re supposed to be returning to York sometime today or tomorrow, but I’m not sure exactly when.”
“What are they doing in Harrisburg?” asked Ryan.
“They’re doing some sightseeing.You know how your grandfather loves to investigate new places.”
“Yep, he likes going around and checking out all the areas he hasn’t been to before,” said Noah.“He’s made us go to a bunch of different places with him.”
“If you think he’s dragged you off to a lot of different places,” I pointed out, “then you should have been with us when we were younger.He was always taking us on vacations and short trips to investigate all kinds of different things.”
“It wasn’t too bad for you, though,” said Pop, “because you got to visit England, Japan, and Australia along the way.”
“I wasn’t saying it was bad, because we got to see a bunch of neat parts of the world,” I stated, “and we got to see a lot of the U.S. too.”
“Indeed, you did.He took you to the Grand Canyon, YellowstonePark, and a lot of the major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C.,” said Pop.
“Yeah, but we stopped at a bunch of smaller places and museums at other times that weren’t as interesting.”
“You never know what you’re going to find unless you stop and check the place out.”
“Yes, that’s very true.”
When we finished our meal, Holly offered to help me clear off the table and take care of the dishes again, but I was surprised when Noah offered to help too.I thought I saw Ryan chuckle about this, since he knew Noah wouldn’t be doing it if Holly hadn’t offered, and I think he was getting a kick out of the fact that Noah’s effort was going to prove fruitless.
“I can’t believe Noah hasn’t figured it out yet,” said Ryan as soon as we’d finished that task.
“Yes, he’s so infatuated with Holly that he can’t see the forest for the trees.”
“Maybe you would understand it better if I’d said he can’t see the forest BECAUSE OF the trees.”
“Oh, I get it now, so why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”
“I guess I should have, but it’s the common way of saying that phrase.”
Once the others had all disappeared, Pop came out to get a cup of coffee and I decided to join him.We were still sitting at the dining room table sipping our drinks when Danny arrived home.
“Wow, I was beginning to think you’d gone on the trip with the others,” said Pop when Danny came out to say hello.Pop had usually been in his bedroom by the time Danny arrived home each night.
“No, I’ve just been really busy, but I’ve slept here every night.”
“And he’s gotten here early enough most nights so he could talk to the boys when they called from Texas,” I added.
“Yes, I didn’t want to miss speaking with them or Brandon.”
“It’s still nice to see you with us again,” said Pop.
Danny excused himself so he could go up to shower before he ate.When he returned about twenty minutes later, he sat down to eat, and he was just taking his last bite of food when my phone rang.I answered it and said hello before putting it on speaker so Danny could say hello as well.
“Hi, Poppy and Uncle Danny.We went to the ‘musement park today and rode on a whole bunch of rides.”
“Yeah, it was really fun,” said Hunter.
“I couldn’t believe how much fun I had there and it’s where we ate lunch too,” said Hayden.Unfortunately for the twins, he and his brother hadn’t gone to any amusement parks over the past few years, since their mother wasn’t well enough to take them.
“Yeah, I had a total blast too,” said Tristan, “but we had to split into two groups, cuz Wyatt, Hayden, and Hunter weren’t tall enough to go on some of the rides.”
“Heck, I was just barely tall enough to go on them,” said Revin, “and a few of those rides were really scary.”
“Yes, I imagine they were,” said Danny.
“There were some roller coasters that were really awesome, though,” said Benny.
“But I’m glad Wyatt, Hayden, and Hunter couldn’t go on those rides,” said Joshie. “I don’t think they would have liked them as much as we did.”
“Yeah, they were pretty scary,” said Tristan.
“Speaking of the younger group,” added Brandon, “my mom and I took them on the rides while Dion and my dad went with the other boys.”
“I think Pat and I got the raw end of the deal,” said Dion snarkily.“Some of those rides nearly caused me to puke, especially the ones we went on right after lunch.”
“A hazard of being a parent,” I teased.
“Bold statement from the guy who isn’t here,” said Dion bitingly, but we both knew he was merely joking.
The boys regaled us with tales about the various rides they went on, and just from listening to what they told us, I could see why Dion had made his comment.Some of the rides sounded absolutely terrifying, so I’m glad that I’d offered to stay at home and take care of the others.
Once the boys finished telling us all about their day, Brandon took his phone off speaker so we could chat with our spouses in private.During this time, we expressed our love and stated how much we missed each other, and then they also told us what was on the agenda for the following day.
Shortly after the call ended, Danny went upstairs to get ready for bed while I did a few other things before closing up the house and doing the same.
The next morning, after I’d fed those leaving for work and sent them on their way, I took the puppies outside.It was raining lightly, which seemed to distract the dogs and it took them longer to empty their bladders.Before we went inside, I made sure they shook off the excess water before we went inside and then I grabbed a towel from the laundry room and dried them both off completely before letting them run loose.Once that had been taken care of, I sat down to relax.
When the others came down later for breakfast, I showed Ryan how to mix the batter for pancakes, and then I let him make breakfast for the rest of us.The first pancake didn’t turn out to well, so we threw it in the trash and I let him try again, but only after explaining what went wrong.After that it got better as he did it more, and all of us were able to fill our bellies without getting sick.After I had Ryan clean up the mess afterward, I notice that Ryan, Elliot, and Ian didn’t go anywhere, due to the rain.
When it came time for lunch, I showed Ryan how to fix spaghetti for all of us, although I let him cheat and use frozen meatballs when he heated up the sauce.When it was ready, we sat down to eat and I mentioned that it looked as if the rain was letting up and asked them about their plans for the afternoon.
“I’m not going nowhere, cuz Owen’s grandma asked him to help her do some stuff today,” said Ryan.
“I’ll have to take Ian home in a little while so he can spend some time with his parents, and we’ll be having dinner with them too,” said Elliot.“We’ll be coming back here later, though, if that helps.”Ian was nodding in agreement as Elliot spoke.
“Yes, that will help when I’m planning dinner, and there’s something else I’d like to talk to you about as well.I was considering that maybe we could do something different this weekend, so do the three of you have any ideas?”
“Maybe, cuz I was thinking about taking Ian to HersheyPark this weekend,” said Elliot.“I got the idea after hearing that the other boys went to Six Flags Over Texas.”
“You know, that’s not a bad idea,” I agreed, “and I’ll mention it at dinner tonight and see what the others think about it as well.In fact, if we do this we won’t be too far from where Grandpa Josh is staying, so maybe Grandpa Jake will go with us.He and Dad can either join us at HersheyPark or just spend some time together while we’re there.”
“If you do this, then are you going to be staying overnight?”
“I’m not sure.If the others decide they want to go, then we can also discuss that issue as well, but I have a feeling it might be a little too expensive since it’s summer and I’m not getting paid.We’d need three, possibly four rooms, not including the one for you and Ian, and since you’ll probably want to get a hotel close to the park, we’ll have to take that into consideration as well.Those rooms will be more expensive than if we stayed at a hotel farther away.”
“Yeah, but why will you need three or four rooms?”
“We’ll need one for Ryan and Noah, another for Holly, and one for me and Danny.We might also need another room for Dad and Pop, if they decide to go with us, and that doesn’t include the room for you and Ian.”
“If it will help then I’ll pay for three of the rooms – two for the others and the one for me and Ian.That way it won’t be so expensive for you.”
“Ok, that will definitely help.”
“Will you want the rooms for Friday night, Saturday night, or both?”
“I’m not sure if we’re even going yet, so I don’t know. What were you planning on doing?”
“I was thinking we’d get a room for both nights.That way we’d be close enough to the park so we can get there early on Saturday and I was going to buy two-day passes so we could return to the park on Sunday as well.I was also thinking about adding the Fast Track option to the tickets so we can skip the lines.”
“I see, so give me a few minutes to check this out.”I got on my laptop and looked up a few things.I first looked at the weather forecast for the weekend to see what it would be like, and there was very little chance of rain.Once I was convinced the weather was going to be decent, I looked up the prices before I addressed Elliot again.
“A two-day ticket would cost about $100 per person, and adding the Fast Track option would add another $80 to each ticket for limited access or an extra $100 for unlimited access.”
“If you want to do this, then I’ll pay for the Fast Track for everyone as well.”
“That’s very generous of you, but seeing you’ve already said you’re going to pay for more than half of the hotel rooms, then doing both will cost you a bundle.”
“Don’t worry about what it costs because I can afford it.My dad left me very well off and the guy taking care of my money has invested it wisely, so it’s grown quite a bit since then.”
“Ok, if you’re sure. I’ll check with the others tonight at dinner.”
“I won’t be here, because we’ll be eating at Ian’s house again.We figured that if we were going to be away all weekend then we should spend a little time with his mom and dad first, but you can still ask the others and then let me know later.We’re going to be coming back here to sleep and you can tell me what you’ve all agreed to in the morning.If we’re going to do this, we can call and make the arrangements tomorrow before lunch.”
“Ok, that sounds good to me.”
“Can I ask Owen to go with us?” asked Ryan as soon as Elliot and I had stopped talking.I looked at Elliot to get his reaction.
“Sure, he can go too if the others decide to do this, but he’ll have to sleep with you,” said Elliot.
“Ryan, maybe you should wait until we decide if we’re definitely going first, before you say anything to Owen,” I added.
“Can I at least tell him we’re thinkin’ ‘bout doin’ this?”
“Ok, as long as you make sure he knows nothing is definite yet.You can call and let him know for sure after we make our decision tonight, or you can tell him tomorrow.”
“K and I’ll have him check with his grandparents to see if they’ve got anything else planned for this weekend.”
“Just make sure he tells his grandparents this isn’t definite yet.”
“K, I will.”
When the others arrived home, we sat down to eat, but I waited a few minutes before I broached the subject.“I have something to discuss with all of you, if you’ll give me your attention.I was talking to Elliot earlier and we thought it might be fun to take everyone to HersheyPark this weekend.What do the rest of you think of the idea?”
“Yeah, that would be great, seeing the other boys got to go to Six Flags Over Texas,” said Ryan in an effort to get the others to agree.
“Yeah, it sounds like fun,” said Noah.
“Uhhh, I promised to spend time with one of the girls I work with this weekend,” said Holly.
“You could always see if she’d be willing to do that another time or you can just stay home and keep your plans with her,” I offered.
“Ummm, would it be ok if I asked her to go with us instead?”
“We’re planning to be gone for the entire weekend, but I suppose it would be alright if she wanted to join us.We can make sure you have a room with two beds so she can stay with you.”
“K, I’ll call and ask her after I’m done eating.”
I could see Noah’s smile begin to fade when he heard this, since I believe he was hoping to go on the rides with her, and then I turned toward Pop and spoke.
“You should call Dad and see if he wants to join us, since he isn’t staying too far from there.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible.He’s leaving on Friday and heading to Philadelphia so he can spend some time with Ricky.”
“Can’t you call him and see if he can change his plans?”
“That won’t be possible either, because he told me that he’s already made arrangements with Ricky and Tiffany.”
“So, when is Grandpa Josh comin’ back?” asked Ryan.
“Not this weekend, but he’ll return about the same time as the others get back from Texas, and then we’ll be flying to Atlanta the weekend after that so we can spend some time with Shannon and Nick.”
“So, you’ll be going too?” said Holly.
“Yes, I’m taking a week of vacation so we can spend a little time with them together.”
“So is Grandpa Josh gonna stay here when you guys get back?” asked Noah.
“Maybe for a little while, but I’m sure he’ll be taking other trips after that.I have a feeling he might be doing this all summer long.”
“How do you feel about him doing that?” asked Holly.
“I’m not thrilled about it, but I know he wants to see how the other boys are doing as well.I just wish I had the time to go with him.”
“You’ll be able to do it with him after you retire,” said Noah.
“Possibly, if he’s still up to traveling by then.Even if I retire early at 62, he’ll be 78 by then and I hope he’s still in good enough health to continue doing these things.”
“Yeah, I hope so too.”
“Look, why don’t you come with us and then you can share a room with either me or Danny.”
“Thanks, but I’ll just stay home.I’m not as fond of those types of rides as I used to be, so it would just be a waste of time and money to go with you.”
“Ok, it’s your choice, but I hate to leave you here alone.”
“You don’t have to worry about me.I’ll be fine.In fact, I think I’ll call one of my friends and ask him to help me work on the tree house this weekend.We still have a lot to do.”
“I’ll let Elliot know you’ll be doing that.Would you be willing to take care of the puppies for us while we’re away?I was thinking we might have to ask Kevin and Vinnie or possibly the Shays to watch them for us, and if they couldn’t then I would have had to board them for the weekend.”
“Sure, I can do that for you.”
“Fantastic, then tomorrow I’ll bring their beds down to the foyer so they won’t be totally alone at night.”
“And I’ll leave my bedroom door open so they’ll know I’m close by.”
“Ok, that will work, and Holly you can call your friend to see what she wants to do.Ryan, while she’s doing that you can call and let Owen know that we’re definitely going.The two of you can also let your friends know that they should also plan on having dinner with us tomorrow night, because we’ll be leaving right after we eat.Noah, do you want to invite Adam?”
“Nah, he said he was gonna spend the whole summer with his grandma, so he isn’t even around.”
“Ok, but if you think of someone else you’d like to invite then we can talk about that after Holly and Ryan have made their calls.”
“Nah, that’s ok.Is Elliot going too?”
“Yes, he and Ian we’re already planning on doing this.”
“So, we’re leaving tomorrow after we get home?” asked Holly.
“Yes, right after we eat, and we’ll spend the night at a hotel.That way we can get to the park early and spend the entire day at the park, and then we’ll stay at the hotel on Saturday night as well.We’re getting two day passes for everyone so we can go back to the park on Sunday.”
“Ok, but who am I gonna be sharing a room with?” asked Noah.
“It looks like you’ll be sharing a room with Ryan, and possibly Owen, but we won’t know that until after Ryan makes his call.”
“Then I hope those two are planning on sleeping together, because neither one is sleeping with me.”I wasn’t sure if he’d said this for Ryan or Holly’s benefit, or possibly both.
“We’ve already discussed this, so you don’t have to worry.”
I also urged Noah and Holly to pack their overnight bags before they went to sleep tonight and then leave them in the foyer in the morning.We’d be rushing around tomorrow night and they wouldn’t have time to do it after they got home from the HealthCenter.Ryan, Elliot, and I could pack our overnight bags tomorrow, during the day, and I also reminded Ryan to make sure Owen did the same thing, and then I’d pack the car after lunch.I wasn’t worried about Ian; because I was sure he and Elliot would have their things packed in time.
After we finished eating, Ryan and Holly went off to call their friends, and I was surprised when Noah offered to help me clear off the table and do the dishes again.I discovered his ulterior motive a short time later.
“So, who will you be sharing a room with?”
“Seeing Pop doesn’t want to go; I’ll probably be sharing a room with your dad.”
“Oh, I was hoping I could share a room with you instead, but I guess I can put up with sharing a room with Ryan and Owen so I can have some fun too.”
“I’m glad to hear we won’t be cramping your style.”
“No, Holly’s doing that already by asking her friend to go with us.”
“Noah, I think it’s time you realized that she only thinks of you as a brother and nothing more.In fact, I have a suspicion that she has a crush on someone she met at college, and it’s even possible they might even be dating.”
“Really?Why do you say that?”
“I have a feeling the calls she’s been receiving are from him, not a girl friend, and I think they’ve been texting as well.”
“Damn, I never thought about that. Does Ryan know?”
“Yes, I’ve already had this conversation with him.”
“So, he’s known about this for a while?”
“Yes, he has.”
“Then why didn’t you guys tell me?”
“We didn’t think you’d believe us.We felt you’d think Ryan was just saying it so you’d back off and he could have Holly all to himself.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right about that, and you might be right about her only thinking of me as a brother too.If she had any feelings for me then she would’ve just told her girl friend that something had come up and she couldn’t meet up with her this weekend.”
“I agree, and as I said earlier, I think she might have feelings for someone else.”
Now that Noah knew the score, I just had to wait until I heard back from Ryan and Holly.It wasn’t too much longer before each one returned to tell me what their friends had said.
“The girl I work with said she’d love to go with us,” said Holly, “and she wants me to thank you for allowing me to invite her.”
“And Owen’s excited about going too,” Ryan added a minute later, so now I only had to check with Danny.
When he showed up about twenty minutes later, which was much earlier than normal.When he sat down to eat, I decided to chat with him about the weekend.”
“Except for Pop, the rest of us are planning on leaving tomorrow night for HersheyPark.We’re going to get hotel rooms and stay there until Sunday night, and we’re hoping you’ll join us.”
“I would love to, but I can’t take that much time away from what I’m doing.Thanks for the offer, though, but I’ll stay here with Pop and keep him company, not that I’ll be around very much.”
“I wish you would take some time off and relax a little.”
“I might do that when Brandon gets back.I was thinking that maybe we could go away for a weekend alone.”
“I want to do that with Dion too.”
“Then maybe the four of us can do it together, but we’ll get separate hotel rooms.”