best laid plans

February 4, 2011 Comments Off on best laid plans

So we’re discussing the weekend yesterday.  Snow Sunday, I said, so why don’t we head up north after school Friday, stay the night in Minneapolis, and hit the Mall for legos, running stuff, etc., on Saturday?

“Great,” they both say, eyeing their Lego gift certificates and the promise of additional, playroom-cleaning allowance money.

So we’re set, right?  Except…

“Oh, Dad,” the girl says, “I totally forgot.  The middle school party is Friday!  I told everyone I’d be there.”

“Well that’s fine, O, we’ll just work around it.  What time is the party?”


I actually asked if that was A.M. or P.M.  It is, I should mention, a three hour drive to Minneapolis.  So now I’m looking at Sunday’s weather and wondering if the Subaru is up for it.

I am told that 24 hour notice for middle school events is pretty standard around these parts…


snow day

February 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

I know, grownups are supposed to complain about snow, and we’re supposed to lament the fact that they’ve closed the schools, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But I have been secretly hoping for a snow day for a while.  As much as I hate driving on ice, I really like driving in snow, especially now that I get to drive the Subaru.  I love snowblowing (but talk to me tomorrow morning at 5:30 when it’s -2°), and I love the anarchy that a good snow day represents.  No school!  No work!  Go grab cafeteria trays and go sledding!

OK, so the last one was unlikely in blizzard conditions.  But when they called off school at 1:00 today, and when NOAA radio said, basically, “don’t go out unless you absolutely need to,” I decided that we absolutely needed to make a cafe run.  I am genetically predisposed to head out into bad weather, just to see if I can get back home, and the kids thought this would make a decent break from routine.  The good coffee shop downtown is only a few blocks away, and even though morale didn’t exactly need a boost (see photo of C, above left), I thought an outing was called for.

O and I both got hot stuff–cocoa for her, dark roast coffee for me–while the boy got himself a nice, cold Italian soda.  And they both got muffins.  It was nice–I used to take them to this coffee shop when they were tiny, usually when K was volunteering at the preschool and I had a morning with C.  We got to know the owners, since they’d just opened, and they have always had a seriously family-friendly atmosphere.  The kids hadn’t been in a while, but they both said they remembered going for muffins with K or me.  And as you can see, they fit into cafe culture quite nicely.

Our cookie supply was running low, so I suggested we make a new batch with our afternoon–a suggestion that won unsurprising unanimous approval.  The girl had, in fact, demanded pudding, but C was less enthusiastic and I gave him the deciding vote.  We picked up some nice cane sugar at the organic place (which the kids like now because they leave a lot of stuff out to sample…wait until they get a bite of organic herring by mistake…), and on the way out of the parking lot C asks if I can fishtail the car on the way home.  “This isn’t the VW,” I say.  “The Sube has all-wheel drive.  It’s pretty tough to fishtail this thing.”

“AW, COME ON,” C says.  At this point, I should mention that fishtailing the Volkswagen for C is not something I’ve done frequently, but it’s always–always–received a warm response from him when I’ve done it.  O asked what on earth a fishtail is, and so OK, I hit the gas a bit and steer sharply coming out of the parking lot.  And it’s not pretty, or impressive, but the back end comes out just enough that we’re ballistic for a few seconds and I’m working the steering wheel like an F1 driver until the thing comes back into line.

“WOO HOO!” says C from the back seat.  “OK, Dad, that was pretty cool,” says O.  I, meanwhile, check the mirrors and see no disapproving citizens or (more importantly) Ames’ finest…

We had a fine afternoon putting the cookies together.  The recipe we’ve been using has a super-thick batter, so the end product is about 3/4 of an inch thick and ultra-chewy.  Both kids helped, but only on the condition that they got to lick the batter off the mixer, which was fine by me.  They’re getting good at measuring stuff and working together, and we’ve now got a fine batch of cooling hockey pucks of chocolate, butter, and sugar that should get us through the week, anyway.

All in all, not a bad afternoon…we’ll see what happens with school tomorrow, my money’s on a late start but no cancellation.  Any takers?

odds and ends

February 1, 2011 Comments Off on odds and ends

5:45 date with the snowblower this morning.  I had every intention of quietly shoveling the 2″ we got last night, but hearing the symphony of light machinery in the neighborhood I figured I’d add to the chorus.  That’s the Snow-&*$%er 3000 there to the left.  Extra-long snout to prevent snow buildup on Dad.  It worked, mostly.  Despite what you hear on NPR, we’re supposed to survive the next 24 hours, actually–probably another 4-6″, which the extra-wide augur ought to handle like butter.


Great googly moogly…we finished the pudding.  Or, rather, the kids did.  The dessert rule is that Dad gets one of whatever it is–peanut butter cookie, bowl of pudding, whatevs, and then the rest is for the kids.  Have to say, it doesn’t photograph well even when it’s gone, does it?

Full recovery by the O from the flu.  And despite a new sniffle over the weekend, C seems to have recovered as well, though he was almost convinced he was coming down with a new flu after talking with K this weekend.  Fingers crossed, if the snow clears out and everyone’s healthy, maybe we’ll try Minneapolis this weekend instead.




January 10, 2011 Comments Off on IMPENDING SNOWPOCALYPSE!

Watch this space.  Snowblower activation likely.

In other news, leftover blueberries for cereal this morning.

Update: Um, about two inches so far.  Tough sledding on the roads, four more inches tonight.  Snowblower will see action in the morning, but not until…


January 7, 2011 Comments Off on snow

Just an inch and a half or so, enough to get your attention but not much more.  The kids assessed it quickly and were unimpressed.  They’ve been around the block enough to know that this doesn’t come CLOSE to calling off school.  C had to be early for band practice today, and this seemed like more of an inconvenience to him.  “Now I have to pack my snow pants. Now we’re going to be late.”  Trust me, kiddo, I’ve left an extra 75 seconds for you to get your snow gear together.  Relax.  (Not something C does easily.  Or, really, at all).

K hates snowy weekdays, and I can see why.  There are enough variables in the daily routine to make it a split second time management issue in the mornings and afternoons.  A couple of inches of fluffy white stuff only adds uncertainty and minutes.  C wasn’t late this morning, but it was a slower slog even in the Subaru.

Even though I’m the designated snowplow driver when I’m home (and K will tell you that whenever the big one hits, I’m usually at a conference somewhere in Europe), I’ve always kind of liked a nice Iowa snow dump.  It’s pretty, at least in the early morning before traffic turns it to grey slush.  C walked out this morning and his mood brightened.  “Wow,” he said.  “Charlie Brown snow.”  Meaning big puffy flakes like in the Christmas special.  It hides the hideous red color of our roof, too (getting replaced, but not until at least next year).

Maybe more to the point, though, snow always means a good round of man vs. nature.  I think it might be the recessive crusty New England yankee mindset, but there is nothing quite so satisfying as facing down a bit of weather with horsepower and saying, basically, ‘bring it on.’  This wasn’t nearly enough to bring out the 8hp Snow&#*@er 3000.  It was a cardio day for me at the gym, so I figured my shoulders could use the exercise, and I just shoveled the driveway.  But knowing that machine is in the garage and hungry for snowchow is deeply comforting.

And piloting the Subaru through city streets while other, weaker cars are bouncing around is also satisfying.  And you know what’s best?  It handles just like an F1 race car. Real live oversteer and understeer.  I’ve always felt a little held back by traction control.  I miss doing fishtails in my parents’ ’76 Honda Civic (kidding, of course, Mom).  So it’s kind of nice to feel the back end come out on you as you’re going around a corner and to snap it back in line.

Leftover hamburger on ciabatta (or, as O&C now call it, “chewbacca bread).  Filthy good.  Sledding later, maybe.

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