06 April, 2014

Look, ya'll! It's the best little town in the Midwest!

Great video, great song, great artist. But... I will say that I disapprove of toodling around town on a scooter WITH NO HELMET.

Your Mom

30 March, 2014

family outings, with unexpected consequences

It's been busy, busy, busy here... I've started a different position at work, so I've been occupied with learning that - and Will's been busy with his business, as well. Luckily, we've been able to keep our weekends fairly open, since the weekdays are growing more and more insane.

Recently, we went to an indoor children's activity center (think Chuck E Cheese, but with fewer instances of domestic violence). Charlotte wasn't too sure about things at first, so we spent some time in the infant play area until she warmed up. Within 30 minutes or so, she was running around like all the other tiny crackheads. It was so sweet to watch her play, discover, and interact with other kids... but I have to be honest, I was pretty excited for the lengthy nap she'd take after expending so much energy.

Will got bored rather quickly, so he and I took turns interacting with Charlotte and then taking breaks to veg out on our phones. At one point, when all three of us were playing on the trampoline, a boy about 10 years old bounced up to us. Instantly, I could tell that he was a little odd. Autistic, probably. His language was stunted and he refused to make eye contact. Instead, he preferred to make sensory contact via touch - he'd lean up against me or brush the back of his hand against my pants. Then he'd squawk and run away, clearly having the time of his life.

For a while after, Charlotte and I played by ourselves in the reading room. Then Will approached us, looking wounded. "We need to leave here immediately," he told me, warily glancing over his shoulder as if expecting a mafia hit.

"I don't care if you're bored, this is for HER, not YOU," I reminded him, somewhat bitchily (after all, Will's ADD sometimes leads him to lose interest quickly but, obviously, parenting requires he remain engaged).

"I was assaulted!" Will protested, looking legitimately upset. He then explained that some random kid had run up to him, pinched/twisted his nipple through his shirt, and then ran away screaming: "DANCE PARTY!!!!"

I couldn't help but laugh, and I knew immediately which kid he was referring to. "Was it the kind of weird one?" Will affirmed, and then muttered something about a fear of being accused of inappropriateness with the kids.

I assured Will that HE was the victim here, and no one would accuse him of child molestation simply because some random kid ran up and grabbed his nipple. He seemed a bit relieved, but remained uneasy for a while.

Overall, Charlotte had a fantastic time and Will eventually warmed back up after his sexual assault experience. While it was a great family excursion in general, my favorite part was definitely my husband getting a purple-nurple from an autistic kid.  Well, and the visual of him going home and doing this afterward:

Poor Will. He's got a long, strange trip of fatherhood ahead of him!

15 March, 2014

a date night for the ages

Before having our daughter, my husband Will and I vowed to have a date night once a week. Ha! Well, our intentions were good, at least. In reality, we manage to squeeze in a date night about once a month - and that's actually pretty good, if you ask other married couples with kids.

A week ago Friday, I was less than excited about our date night plans. Will wanted me to go to an open house at the country club where he was hosting a seminar the following day. I grumbled and moaned a lot about how it was going to suck since I don't drink anymore and alcohol is the only thing that makes shmoozing with Chip and Buffy Masterson III even remotely tolerable. Will just rolled his eyes and told me to stop being such a baby.

When we arrived in the parking lot, I almost pooped myself with anxiety. I REALLY did not want to go in there, which was weird because I've been to country clubs before and it's always fine (albeit somewhat geriatric). I decided to pretend I was at work, and put on my best corporate-networking persona to get through it. And, of course, I was fine once we got inside.

Overall, it was a tolerable hour and a half. The grounds are beautiful, with an incredible view of the Wakarusa river valley... and a pretty stellar pool. I basically ate all the hors d'oeuvres and watched Buffy Masterson drink too much red wine while we talked about our kids. Everybody was very friendly, and there were a fair amount of younger couples and kids as well.

After we left, I got to decide how the second half of date night went. We wanted to have dinner, so I opted for a relatively new Korean cafe that we'd never been to before. Will was worried, whining: "But there's a Coors Light sign in the window!" I told him to stop being such a baby.

We were pleasantly surprised by the restaurant - as soon as we stepped in the door, we were in a world transformed by kitsch. First off, there was a doorbell that sounded like a dying cat. Secondly, the decor was reminiscent of a 75 year old grandmother's house (doilies, handmade headbands on display, sets of china, 19th century American lanterns hanging from the ceiling, lace curtains)... there was nothing even remotely Asian about the decor. It was odd, and I was utterly charmed.

The owner is a tiny little Korean woman with the most amazing Engrish - she's incredibly sweet, with an adorable sense of humor (when they forgot our chopsticks, she cracked a joke about our meal being "finger food," but her accent was so strong that she had to repeat herself a few times before we finally got it). The food itself was incredible, and the presentation was surprisingly thoughtful. They brought out a sampler of kimchi and other salads, then we tried the dumplings (AWESOME). I got the jap chae (sweet potato noodles) with spicy chicken. The owner assured me "it not TOO spicy," but holy hell - it was more than a little spicy! I'll have to try their intentionally spicy dishes on a braver day.

As we ate, the dying cat doorbell sounded numerous times as Asian college kids streamed through the door and gathered around a cluster of tables along the back wall. More and more entered, until about 20 had amassed behind us. Occasionally, when the group was getting too noisy, they yelled at each other in English to shut up. I couldn't figure out why they were all here so close to closing time, but figured it was like when I went to McDonalds while living in Moscow... I was comforted by a little taste of home.*

Suddenly, at 9 o'clock, the lights went out and karaoke began! I finally understood why all the college kids were here. One young man stood up and started rapping to a Kanye West song; he giggle self-consciously at some of the dirtier lyrics while the others cheered. The owner came over to see if we wanted to join in. We declined, and she persisted a bit more: "But I put you to top of list!" We declined again, but promised to do it next time.

I do still wish that Will had gone up there; I had a premonition that this feisty little woman would shoo the teenagers away, yelling at the top of her lungs: "White customer first! You wait!"**

The whole evening was a bit surreal; appetizers & shmoozing at the country club, then spicy noodles & karaoke at the "Korean Kitsch Cafe."*** I told Will that I'd officially won date night by choosing that restaurant and he agreed.

I want eat there every day. Seriously. I'm going to find a way to go back this weekend, although I need to brush up on my Kanye before participating in karaoke.

*Yeah, I know, I know. McDonalds is awful. I get it. But when you've had a bad day in a foreign land, sometimes an order of fries and an old-school 1980s-style apple pie is all you need to feel better about life.
**Sounds a little racist? Maybe. I didn't doubt that she'd give us priority - but it was probably more because we'd bought dinner and not just tea, like the teenagers had.
***Not its real name, although that would be awesome.

09 March, 2014

the difference between men and women

A woman sees something that needs to be done, and does it.

A man sees something, thinks: "That needs to be done," and promptly does something else. 

02 March, 2014

I am a master curler!

This title is misleading. In fact, it's a downright lie. But I AM much better at curling than I was a couple weeks ago... so there's that. 

I've never been particularly sports-inclined, nor have I ever displayed any proclivity towards athletics. Let me put this bluntly: I've always been a complete klutz. My mother enrolled me in ballet lessons when I was 7, hoping I'd learn a little bit of grace in the process (it didn't work). I run into things that are right in front of me, or beside me, or even behind me. I've slammed the car door on my head not once, but TWICE.

So, naturally, anything that requires hand-eye coordination and general physical prowess is NOT my strong point.

Nevertheless, I was pretty excited when I heard there was a curling rink in my area. Curling is an Olympic sport that is gaining some notoriety due to the flamboyance of the Norwegian team in Sochi this year, and my best friend was glued to it during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I had no idea how it worked, but thought it looked so ridiculous that I HAD to be able to do it. Right? Right???!!! It seemed pretty straight forward: someone sends a big stone gliding down the ice, and then two other people obsessively scuttle alongside the stone, using a brush to vigorously "clean" the ice in the stone's path.

I thought: "I can sweep a goddamn kitchen floor, I can totally sweep some ice. Fuhgeddaboudit!"

My best friend Adrienne, my husband Will, and my sisters-in-law Becky and Laura all registered for a beginner's curling class, and we were super excited to try it. Becky is crazy about the Olympics, Adrienne has always been completely enamored with curling, Will's a big sports-buff, and Laura is going through a messy divorce and could use an outlet for her pent-up aggression. Me, I just thought it would be fun and relatively easy once I figured out how NOT to fall on the ice.

Learning to sweep.

Turns out, curling is way f*cking hard.

1) Shooting the stone (I don't remember what exactly it's called) requires a lot of precision. You have to brace your foot on a stabilizer attached to the ice, while positioning your other foot on a super slippery piece of cloth. Then you juggle a broom under one arm and cast the stone off with the other arm - all while you push off and glide across the ice on your slidey foot. Sounds confusing? It is.

Practice round, with two stones for balance. Look at how STABLE I am! Ha. 

Ater humiliating myself in multiple attempts, I finally figured out that I'm right-handed but NOT right-footed. Once I started using my left foot as primary, I was able to shoot the stone pretty easily. Who knew? (well, the instructor knew, but still... I personally was blown away by this revelation).

NOW I'm looking more like a pro (I'm there, in the distance, watching my stone glide effortlessly down the line toward the waiting sweepers). 

2) Sweeping (scrubbing the ice like a crazy person while the stone glides along) is a lot of work! A LOT. You have to scrub the ice as hard as you can while the skip screams at you to keep going. If you don't hear the skip telling you to stop, you will continue punishing your arms and core muscles for absolutely no reason (so try to pay attention, for the love of gawd!). Also - I finally realized halfway through the game that I was scrubbing about 5 feet further away than I should have been. You want to scrub pretty close to the stone, and I was just out there in the middle of nowhere, sweeping enthusiastically for absolutely no reason. Lesson learned, I guess.

Practice round!

Me, sweeping at a more appropriate distance from the stone.

3) Falling on the ice hurts. My husband took a hard hit falling backward, and the instructor almost crapped his pants when he saw Will going down. They warned us beforehand that falling backward on the ice could crack our skulls open, and that we need to tuck our chins in the moment we lose our footing. Luckily, Will remembered to tuck at the very last second and there was no blood spilled on the ice that evening.

Adrienne, on the ground after slipping while shooting the stone.  Notice how perfectly the stone is gliding thanks to her great sacrifice.

My team won 1-0 (no thanks to my fruitless, albeit vigorous, sweeping). It felt so good, I almost considered joining the league and striving to master this curling business. Then I thought better of it, because sports hobbies are wicked expensive. But I'd definitely like to go again in the future! If you're looking for a fun, random activity to do with friends and/or family, you should check to see if there's a curling club in your area!

Husband and wife teamwork!

Asses kicked, names taken. Our work here is done. 


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