Aeronauts

Posted on 9/28/2012 04:48:00 PM In:
A lot of people ask me why we don't leave the D.C. area.  It's crowded, there's too much traffic, it's expensive, and schools are, well problematic. I'm still not convinced that other areas don't have exactly the same problems, but you know what other areas don't have?  Historic sites and Smithsonian museums where you can go, spend two hours, then see that it's enough already and your kids are starting to lose it, so you go home not feeling robbed, because you didn't just spend $78 for four people to enter a museum and you don't feel it necessary to stay all day and get your money's worth, as God is my witness.

Case in point:

Paper Airplane Contest at the Air and Space Museum.  



Also: they saw moon rocks and dirt, which by everyone's standards, was pretty awesome.

This is why I love my city.

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Good Place for a Nap

Posted on 9/26/2012 04:19:00 PM In:
Was going through the photos on my hard drive and realized I have about a half dozen photos that look almost exactly like this.  I'm almost sorry we got rid of that couch. It must have had magical napping powers. 



Either that or my kid is part cat.




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Pirates of the Caribbean 5

Posted on 9/24/2012 09:44:00 PM
 

Why hello, poor neglected blog, how are you these days?  I've been away, living my life.  I've recently become aware that I have one of those things outside of the Interwebs and have been trying to plug into it a little more.  What I learned out there is that it's scary.  Go back inside.  

While you were out:
  • The Shortlings are now both in legitimate school and dealing with their own issues thereabouts.  That's another post. 
  • The KingofHearts has been super busy at work.  That's also another post.
  • My work got crazy again.  Not busy, mind you.  Just crazy.  That's a post I won't be writing.
  • I taught a class on health and body image to teenage girls.  That's a post that, if I were to write it, would be called Hypocrisy.
  • The Caterpillar started karate class.  That's a post with hilariously awkward video attached.
  • Both girls started piano lessons again.  That's a post I'd like to call Overscheduled Much?

But the big thing in our lives over the past week is called, Goodbye Age Four, Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Fanny On the Way Out.

We tried, oh, so hard to think of a birthday celebration that didn't have a pirate theme, because that's been done once or twice (or three, or four times). But in asking The Caterpillar what she wanted to do, we never really got a firm answer.  First she said she wanted a party and to invite all her friends, but she just started kindergarten and all her friends we actually know have scattered since preschool ended.  Then she said she wanted to go on a family trip.  Which sounded awesome until we realized that the next weekend free we have will be sometime in November.  Then one day she said she wanted a pirate party which was surprising because she had told he she didn't want to do pirate things anymore and somewhere in there, well, we just got tired.  Then suddenly we were all, Oh yeah, there's that celebration thing tomorrow that we never did anything about.  And, as with all things that you don't spend enough time planning, we just reverted to the easy and comfortable.  And we are weird so for us, that's The Pirate Theme.  

That child will be so sorry she was born on Talk Like a Pirate Day by the time she is sixteen.

But guess what?  I just figured out The Dormouse's birthday is Mad Hatter Day.  So now we have a birthday theme for the rest of her life too.

Fortunately, we have a Pirate themed restaurant we've wanted to try since their renovation, so this seemed an appropriate punt.

Here's a little tip:  If you want to go to a pirate bar on Talk Like a Pirate Day, make reservations first.  

We didn't.

It's not like it didn't occur to me; I just figured it was, you know, a bar and you know, if we got there at say 5:00 pm for dinner, we wouldn't have an issue getting a table.    

Let me just say that initially, I was dubious about whether this was the appropriate place for a five year old's birthday dinner.  It is, after all, basically a BAR.  So much so that there's been a whole bit of drama and controversy surrounding this place recently.  We did watch that episode of Bar Rescue like good Wasingtonians who care about America's Suburb.  I followed the story on the FacePlace over the summer and have seen a lot of Bad said about both the douche-y host of the television show and the flake-y owners and employees.  Not knowing either, I was left undecided.  I looked up reviews to see if this would be worth even trying to go here for this purpose.  They were all over the place.  But laziness won out and it was close by so we decided to take a chance.  

And you know what?  These people could not have been lovelier.  They found us a table even though the place was pretty much reserved-out, they had a full children's menu and the employees were incredibly sweet to The Shortlings, who had dressed up like Pirates for the occasion.

They gave them pirate booty and promised them gold doubloons if they ate all their vegetables.  The patrons kept calling them Tiny Pirates.  So they were happy to show off their mad pirate skillz.


I'd been led to believe that the food would possibly be substandard, but everything we had was great.  I ordered hot wings, which, the menu stated, were "so hot, we make you sign a waiver."  That wasn't a joke.

That's some funny schtick, right there.  But the best part for me was that they were actually really good wings.

The girls loved the decor:

 
We told them this was what happened to the last diners who didn't finish their vegetables.

And the pirates sang an appropriate Pirate-y birthday song for The Caterpillar.  Which was, well, awesome... and came with a Talk Like a Pirate Tutorial.



She was struck by a bit of shyness while this was going on and later regretted it.  So she asked to go back and talk to them.  They elected her Captain for the Night by a show of hands, which made her night. 


Captain Caterpillar of the Boney Leg

Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe it was just a day when they were prepared for a lot of people.  But we had a great time at Piratz Tavern and would totally go back.


That's not actually pudding she's opening; it's a pink skirt.  But how awesome would it be if I had just wrapped up a box of pudding and this was her reaction?

We had planned to have cake at home, where we had fancy colored flame candles.

The Dormouse was so impressed by this you'd have thought we invented fire.

It's hard for me to believe that four years old is gone.  I actually liked four.  Sure, it had its moments.  You know the moments.  The tantrums about nothing.  The concrete thinking that won't allow any other view of the world but the messed-up one that's in her head... and then the subsequent fit because the world won't bend to her point of view. The arguments with her sister.  The NEED to DO EVERYTHING her sister does - even when it's something that's clearly not for her - ahem rollercoasters.  

Recently, I had to instill a new practice with The Caterpillar.  I told her that when she's disappointed that things don't go her way, she's to ask someone for a hug instead of throwing a fit.  This was born out of desperation, because we just can't listen to one more crying jag about how the wind is blowing the wrong way or that we can't drive in Momma's car.  It must be Daddy's car because Momma's car "doesn't have good air."  I finally told her I don't have an unlimited amount of patience, but I do have an unlimited amount of hugs, so maybe this would be a better way to get attention.


But you know what happened at four?  At four, she started actually asking for that hug occasionally - BEFORE THROWING A FIT.  Sometimes even before I know what the problem is.  She'll wander into the room for what appears to be no reason and say quietly, "Can I have a hug?"  That's progress, people.  So I'm gonna say that four wasn't all bad.  


And she does make a pretty cute pirate.


I did not make this cake.  But I did make the Pirate.

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And Then, There Was One

Posted on 9/16/2012 08:13:00 PM In:
We were downtown a couple of Saturdays ago and stopped by Ben's Chili Bowl for lunch, which, if you weren't aware, is a Washington landmark.  And if you don't believe them, you can check the sign they put up outside. 



See?

I think I'm pretty confident in saying that Ben's has the best chili dog in town.  Maybe in the whole country... with the exception of one place.  How good is the chili dog at The Varsity? Last year, I went to Atlanta for a conference.  But The KingofHearts?  He went to Atlanta for a chili dog.   

Ben's is still pretty good though. One of my kids ordered a chili dog.  The other one ordered a turkey dog... with nothing on it.  I was so embarrassed, I had to leave that one on the side of the road.  




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On the Hill, But On The Level

Posted on 9/14/2012 05:18:00 AM In:
There is no way to adequately describe what or why something strikes you as funny when you've been driving in a car late at night and it's been more than eight hours.  Suffice it to say that tales of the Triple XXX Family Restaurant billboards did just that as we drove across the states of Illinois and Indiana from Chicago to Cincinnati late at night last month.  So when one of us finally saw the billboard as we drove across Indiana, it didn't matter that no one was hungry, and it didn't matter that it was 11:00 pm, and it didn't matter that it was an hour off our trip.  We yanked the steering wheel over to the exit so fast, some of the passengers that night still might be recovering from the whiplash.


Since there is no way to explain why this is now our favorite restaurant in the world, it should just be easy then to say:

Peneat Butter Burger
Homemade Root Beer
Coconut Cream Pie (but only by the piece)
and
Milkshake with a Sundae on Top



Perhaps our favorite thing about the Triple XXX Family Restaurant was the redundancy.  Not the Triple X Family Restaurant, nor is it the XXX Family Restaurant, but the Triple XXX Family Restaurant.  That's some commitment to your schtick, right there.

Also, it reminded me of an Edward Hopper painting:



So clearly, we had to buy souvenir mugs, no matter how expensive they might have been.  But it doesn't matter because we never asked.  

"Do you sell these mugs?"

"Yes, but they're kind of expensive."

"I don't care, just give 'em to me."



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The Difference Between Men and Women

Posted on 9/11/2012 01:37:00 PM In:
This weekend, that film Notting Hill, with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant happened to be on television. Yes, I know this movie falls firmly into the "chick flick" category and therefore, might not appeal to the both of our sensibilities, but we both like it for different reasons.  At least until you get to the climatic scene of the movie.  That's where our tastes differ. 

Julia Roberts: "After all... I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." *cue dramatic music*

KingofHearts: "That's such a great line!  Now there's a line I wish I'd written."

Alice:  *making vomit and choking noises* 

Yeah, that's about right.

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True Friendship

Posted on 9/07/2012 10:13:00 PM
Every once in a while someone asks me why most of my friends live in other states and why I only communicate with them via text message, email or Twitter. For people like me, this is the perfect relationship.  For people like The KingofHearts, well, they think it's just weird.

For example, I talk to Monica nearly every day, but often I forget what her voice sounds like because I never pick up the phone to call her and seldom see her in person. And it's probably true that the fact that we live in different states does make it hard to keep up sometimes. It would probably be easier to find friends conveniently located in my own neighborhood. But then I would have missed out on text message exchanges such as this one: 

Monica: "Wonder how much it runs up the water bill to leave the hose on for six hours?" 

Me: "The real problem is they charge you for sewage based on the amount of water you draw. Which you are not using at all when you water outside. So you should just run the water in the bathtub for six hours if you want to get your money's worth." 

Monica: "Or poop on the sidewalk." 
 
And my life would be less rich.

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My Best Day Ever

Posted on 9/06/2012 10:49:00 AM
We've been playing a valiant game of what I like to refer to as "Appliance Chicken" for the past two years.  

Basically, this is when you have two to three major appliances/purchases that are on their last legs and you know you will have to replace them all eventually.  But you don't want to replace, say, the stove that has two burners you have to light by hand, because you know that the moment you do that, the dryer that still turns but doesn't really heat right will blow up into an enormous ball of flame the next day.*  And if you replace the dryer instead of the stove, then the couch that sags in the center** and possibly has something living inside it will collapse and burst forth with an alien-like entity that will eat your children and then squat in your basement for millennia.

So instead, you just do nothing, waiting until one of them breaks totally and completely and you HAVE to replace it. Then you will know that the decision of which one to replace first was the right choice. And you will feel good about yourself.

We tried to stave off the isn't it ironic gods series of bummers this holiday weekend by purchasing both a couch AND a stove.  We made that decision based on the rationale that if the dryer were to break we could always hang clothes on a clothesline to dry. Then I found a length of rope from the basement and placed it outside on the deck where I would set up our "clothesline" as a symbolic gesture to the universe.

Alice to Universe:  "ha HA! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT, UNIVERSE?"

The universe spoke back because two days later, before both of the purchased items had even been delivered, The KingofHearts' car broke down and required over $500 in repairs.

Universe to Alice: "GOTCHA BITCH."

Right now we are still waiting for sofa delivery, but we pulled all the furniture out of the living room so we could clean the carpets before it got here.  I think I like my living room better like this:


I know The Caterpillar likes our front yard better like this:

If this photo had audio it would sound something like this:

"You'd better be careful or you're gonna fall off that couch."

"This. Is. MY BEST DAY EVER!!! *jump jump* My best day ever! *jump jump* My best day ever! *jump jump* My best day ever! *jump jump* My best day ever! *thud*"

"I think her best day ever just became slightly less by comparison."

Also, if you were shopping in any furniture store this weekend and happened to see a couple and two kids sitting on every sofa set they saw and then testing them out to see if they "worked," you were probably treated to this view:


Because, clearly, you gotta practice the moves you'd use in your native environment to see if the sofa is really comfortable.

KingofHearts to Universe:  "You're welcome."



*Aside: we bought that dryer for $35 at a yard sale more than fifteen years ago.  WHY CAN'T I EVER GET MY MONEY'S WORTH OUT OF A PURCHASE?!?

**Other aside: Wanna know how old that living room set is? We bought it at Montgomery Wards.***

***If your response to that is 'Who is Montgomery Ward?' You are too young and we can no longer be friends.

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How to Mess With Your Kid

Posted on 9/03/2012 06:36:00 PM
Scene:  Big and Little are preparing a magic show for The KingofHearts and Me.  They are sequestered in the kitchen while they figure out how to do the tricks.  We are enjoying attempting to enjoy a few moments' peace in the living room without child intervention, but can hear everything that goes on in the kitchen due to the fact that a thin wall of air is all that separates our kitchen from our living room. 

Caterpillar: "What are you doing?"

Dormouse:  "I'm working on this magic trick.  Remember at the Renaissance Fair when the guy made the bottle float?"

CP: "Yes."

DM: "Well, I'm gonna do that."

CP: "Oh, you're gonna use the string?"

DM: "SHHHH!  DON'T SAY IT OUT LOUD THEN THEY'LL KNOW THE TRICK ANDIT'LLALLBERUINED!"

Little feels badly about her breach of secrecy and comes in the living room to ensure that we DO NOT LISTEN TO WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE KITCHEN. We oblige not to listen.  She returns to the kitchen, but less than a minute later, comes back to ask a question.

"Do you know where the tape is?"

*neither of us responds*

 "Do you know where the tape is?"

*silence*

"I said, 'DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE TAPE IS?'"

Me: "Oh were you talking to me?  I wasn't listening."

"Dad, do you..."

"WHAT?"

"Do you..."

"WHAT??!?"

"Dad!"

"I can't hear you.  I was told not to listen, so I'm not listening."

She returns to the kitchen to report on her quest to her big sister.

"They're not listening.  But they are being weird."

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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