welcome back routine

February 1, 2013 Comments Off on welcome back routine

“I don’t see what the big deal is about cutting the deficit,” said C this morning, channeling his inner Krugman.

“So, you’re in the Keynesian anti-austerity camp?” I asked him.

“No, they should just get Chuck Norris to roundhouse kick it.  Cutting is for wimps.”

Al-righty, then.

The bi-weekly handoff makes for a nice rhythm.  I absolutely do enjoy the two weeks on my own, but that’s more than enough time.  Once I’ve got the house cleaned, the laundry done, and the leftovers all eaten the house can seem awfully quiet.

IMG_5836My routine is to do the big shop the day before they arrive.  Rice cakes.  Applesauce.  Grapes.  School lunch sized potato chips.  It’s inevitably a three-figure deal, and a good thirty minutes of unpacking and organizing at home.  And I give myself an evening or two to do the baking.  Baguettes, a whole grain loaf, cookies for the lunches, and  I put together a couple dinners worth of pizza dough.  The sourdough mother starter continues to burble away nicely in the fridge, and it’s done fantastic work, as you can see.

The house is clean for exactly ten seconds.  Once their tennis shoes hit the floor the place looks and feels lived-in again, which is fine.  Circle of life, and all.  The girl’s hands are permanently ensconsed in the raisin and almond tins, the boy is politely asking if he can have a slice or two of the new bread, and hair scrunchies start mysteriously appearing in odd places.

Last night on the way home I pointed out to O that her dentist bag was still in the car.  “It’s been two weeks,” I pointed out.  “Take it in, please.”  This morning?  The bag was sitting on the shoe bench by the side door.

“For crying out loud,” I told her, “When I said bring it in I did kind of mean to put it away.”

“Sorry,” she said.  “But it’s just the bag.  I took the floss upstairs.”

What dad could stay cheesed off at a daughter who flosses?  “OK,” I said, sliding my shoes out of the bench and putting them on.  My toes hit something in my shoe.  I pulled it out.  The freaking dental floss.

“And apparently by ‘took the floss upstairs,’ you meant ‘made sure the floss fell into your shoe when I threw the bag onto the bench, right?”


weekend in minne

February 6, 2011 Comments Off on weekend in minne

C looks rather excited to be at the Lego store, doesn’t he?

We’d planned a big weekend in Minneapolis last weekend, but the flu scotched that pretty quick.  I could hear K in the back of my mind, arms crossed, saying “you overplanned, tried to do too much, forgot that kids get sick.”  Yep.  Learned the lesson.

So this weekend I said that if everyone was healthy, if the weather was good, if asteroids didn’t fall on the upper midwest, we would do everything we could to get up to the Twin Cities so they could spend their Lego gift certificates.  The Cities are three hours away–exactly, so it’s an easy morning drive if there are no problems.  And there seemed to be problems, because as late as Friday night the weather guys were saying snow throughout the weekend.  So I told them we might try a quick hit, get up, get surgical, get home before things got weird.

Only something weird happened.  The logistics gods smiled upon us, and Saturday morning NOAA Weather Radio gave us the all clear–a bit of snow on Sunday, maybe?  But otherwise pretty good.  So I asked the kids if they wanted to spend the night, and maybe do something Saturday evening–and I had something in mind.  They said sure, and I got online and in twenty minutes had an instant weekend planned, reserved, and ticketed.  We piled right into the car and headed north, wasting no time and heading right to Mall of America, where we grabbed lunch and did a couple of laps, trying to find the Lego store.  We got there, and the kids spent the better part of an hour browsing, trying stuff out, and eventually loading up on plastic bricks.  C bought a whole series of impenetrably complex robots and games, while O opted for the simple tub of bricks approach–both acceptable tactics.  Once their Lego lust had been well sated, we made a few other stops–Old Navy (jeans), Williams Sonoma (meat tenderizer, scale, egg rings), and Nike (running shirt)–by which time it was late afternoon.  “Let’s hit the hotel,” I told them.  “We have a big evening ahead of us.”

“WHAT?”  they asked.  “What are we doing tonight?  Is there a sporting event?”  C really asked that.

“Yes,” I told them.  “We’re going to see curling.”  They didn’t buy it.

Actually I had two surprises for them.  As we were driving to the hotel, we went past Target Arena, and there were giant billboards congratulating Kevin Love, the Timberwolves forward who’d just been named an NBA All-Star.  “Look at that,” I said.  “Wouldn’t it be cool to go see an NBA game someday?”  They agreed.  “What about tonight?” I asked.

“NICE!!!!”  said C.  They high-fived in the back seat.  “Seriously, Dad, we’re going to a Timberwolves game?”  Absolutely, big girl.  Got the tickets right here.  Second set I’ve bought in a week.  (I didn’t tell them that).

The second surprise was that my online travel service bumped me up to their premiere status last month, meaning a whole world of nice travel discounts.  Instead of our usual Best Western accommodations, I’d found a good deal at the Westin.  Four stars, baby.  That’s O there, checking out the stylin’ surroundings.  As usual, the kids got the beds, I got the floor and the spreads, but they were n-i-c-e spreads…

We Yelped some local restaurants, and O picked the Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner.  Which, it turns out, every sports fan and theater-goer in the Twin Cities picked for dinner, too, so we ended up eating at the bar–which was a new experience for them both, but worked out tolerably well, despite a few strange looks.  The arena was just a few blocks away, so we walked over and had plenty of time to find our seats, find a couple of souvenirs (left), and start noshing.  O is wearing her new Kevin Love jersey, and is his latest and perhaps biggest fan.

The game itself was pretty good–the Nuggets started kicking the Timberwolves around early and the outcome wasn’t really ever in doubt.  But we saw some amazing dunks–mostly by Carmelo Anthony, but K. Love (as O now refers to him) got one in, too.  When she had run out to get some more fries.  We have to go to another game, now.  The nom total was pretty impressive–two tubs of fries, two cotton candies, sodas, all of this after they plowed through kids entrees for dinner.

We got back to the hotel at about 10:00, and were all in bed and more or less asleep by 10:30, with visions of slam dunks–or rather handsome California-born T-Wolves forwards–running through our minds.  We got up this morning and had our traditional breakfast in the lobby–but in this case the lobby was a bit swisher than our usual motel breakfasts.  The hotel restaurant, Bank, is the hottest table in Minneapolis right now, and it was the best part of a conference talk I gave there a few months ago.  So it was definitely on my agenda for breakfast, and the kids enjoyed the swanky surroundings and the endless buffet.  O dug through two full plates of eggs and hash browns, C opted for the fruit plate.  Both kids remembered to put their napkins in their laps, and to top it off a former student met us for coffee, full of tales of working in Switzerland and an impending marriage to an Italian.  A great morning, capped by a dip in the pool and an 11:00 departure south.

We’d thought about hitting the Spam Museum in Austin on the way, but the snow made a modest appearance and we booked home instead, where we reheated some mac’n’cheese, and I threw in a chunk of the five minute artisanal dough that I made Friday.  It was awesome, but it was also the ugliest loaf I’ve ever made, so not worth a photo.  Really, really, not worth a photo.

All in all a great weekend.  The timing couldn’t have been any better, and the only thing that we didn’t get was a T-Wolves win.  But we’ll be back, I’d guess, to see O’s new favorite athlete on the planet.  That’s him on the electronic billboard in the background, above the crowds of bar-going youth.  Or, perhaps, hockey or women’s basketball–they were advertising Lynx tickets and O was thrilled to discover that there’s a professional women’s league, much less a team so close.

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