October 29, 2008

My Week Off: Lessons Learned

The only thing worse than going back to work after a week off is working two weeks straight after a week off.  I was actually off for a total of 10 days, which is the longest period I haven't worked for nearly two years.  And it was probably the longest "vacation" I've had in the last 5 years where I wasn't tasked with a do-it-yourself inter state move or other similar project.  So staying at home with nothing really to do was a welcome proposition.

Of course, after Veep left mid week I did have to do the cooking and cleaning and get the kids places, but it was kind of a fun novelty for me since I'm usually out the door just as everyone else is waking up.  Plus I got to keep my eyes on the landscaping crew and watch their progress.

In lieu of a cohesive narrative, here is a partial list of the things I did--and what I learned:

On Monday I rode to Mt. Spokane.  I learned several things.  

1.  It was in the upper 50s in town, so I didn't bring gloves.  At the top of Mt. Spokane it was much colder.  And windy.  Next time I will wear gloves.  

2.  I also brought 4 power bars, calculating that one power bar for every 20 miles would be plenty.  It wasn't.  When I finally crawled back downtown, to Riverfront Park, I bought a baker's dozen from "Bartlett's Mini Doughnuts."  

3.  As I patiently waited for my fried and sugar-coated calories, I was educated on what a baker's dozen is and isn't (it isn't 13).  I'll let you get the story from the fine gentleman who works at "Bartlett's" as he really explains it much more eloquently than I ever could.


On Tuesday night, I took Schmoopie and Boofis to see The Phantom of the Opera.  Shout out to emptynest on this one.  Actually, earlier this summer the girls watched the movie of the musical that was released a few years ago.  I got the impression they enjoyed it.  So when tickets went on sale for the traveling company here in Spokane, I snagged some good seats.  The girls were excited to go.  It seemed like a sort of family tradition that I could continue since my Mom made us go see the thing with her like three times.  I learned some things from seeing it again.

1.  I actually paid attention to the story--unlike the times we went when I was a kid.  Watching as a teenager, once the brief pyrotechnic bits were over, I was counting the minutes until the thing ended.  I've concluded that the Phantom, despite being some sort of deformed circus genius or something you're supposed to feel sorry for, was a jerk.  What's up with the notes, the ransom/salary he demands, and the weird control thing with Christine?  Teach someone to sing and you own them?  Whatever.  

2.  Judging by their reaction, I think the most memorable part for the girls will be the explosions.  Some things are just universal.

3.   Overall it was still fun and a good show.  Though I think I liked Les Miserables better.  It had the music emptynest would play air drums to in the car (I think that is how I'll remember her 20 years from now--playing air drums in the Pontiac 6000 while picking up CJ3 and Sijbrich from school).


I cooked three meals a day most of the days Veep was gone.  Through this hands on experience, I figured some things out.

1.  Boofis, who normally shuns traditional breakfast food for microwave burritos, will actually eat hashbrowns.  Lots of hashbrowns.

2.  Crockpot roast with onion soup mix and cream of mushroom soup is as good as I remember.

3.  I find bean with bacon soup disgusting but, for some unknown reason, the kids love it.  Ok, so this is something I already knew.  But I did figure out just how easy it is to make.  However, I still don't understand how you can naturally add smoke flavor.

4.  I've known for some time that I hate packing a lunch for myself in the morning.  I learned that I also hate packing lunches for other people in the morning.  I know, this sounds irrational and possibly petty, but it is true none the less.  I especially hate packing a lunch for someone when they only ate half of their yogurt the day before and decided to save the leftovers in their lunch bag and this eventuality is only discovered the next morning when the lunch bag is opened in a rush to get the current day's lunch packed and the food can only get put in the lunch bag after about 10 minutes of wiping it out.

Food photos, after the manner of Sijbrich.

Wednesday night I took the kids to our Radiology group "Family Movie Night" at the Garland theater.  I've established a tradition of taking the kids to movies and gorging on buttered popcorn and soda.  This experience, however, had a few twists.

1.  We got coupons for free snacks and had enough for the obligatory popcorn, plus some extra for candy.  We don't normally get candy at the movie theater because it is ridiculously expensive and you don't get free refills (the popcorn is ridiculously expensive, but at least with one adult and three kids, we put enough away in refills to make it somewhat cost effective).  I learned that junior mints are the perfect complement to buttered popcorn and Diet Coke.

2.  We watched the WALL E movie a second time.  When surrounded by people you work with and their families, hearing a huge gaggle of kids giggling and talking and asking questions, a family movie like this is ten times better.

3.  What is up with the seats at the Garland?  I hadn't been there in a while, but I don't remember the super reclining seats with the low backs that feel like you're going to fall into the aisle behind you when you sit down.  I was sure the seat was going to break with Sal on my lap, holding the popcorn, squirming to pass it to his sisters on either side and get a drink of soda for himself.

4.  For the first time ever, on the way home, Schmoopie declared that she ate too much popcorn.

Friday was my birthday. 

1.  While Sal was at school I went for a bike ride on the trails near home.  It was a beautiful, crisp Fall morning.  Two hours of riding went by in a moment.  I realized that if I didn't have to work, I would probably just stay at home and ride every day while the kids were at school.

2.  Sal and I burned a few hours downtown after he got out of preschool, waiting to pick the girls up.  We ate at his "favorite mall"--he went for his usual white rice and I enjoyed an aptly named D'lish's double cheeseburger with grilled onions (in my book it is the Spokane equivalent of In-n-Out, though it doesn't get the attention I think it deserves).  Because of this burger alone, I think it may be my favorite mall too.

3.  Sal and I also hung out at the toy store where I picked up some paper and balsa gliders for us to build and fly together.  The building proved to be more involved than anticipated, but we've had fun flying it off the back deck together.  I think we will have some real adventures together as he gets a little older.


6.  On Monday, Veep came home.

A.  While I thoroughly enjoyed my time running the house and interacting with the kids more, I was really happy when she arrived.  I learned that no matter how well I watch the kids, there is a really big piece missing from our family when she's gone.

B.  However, in December, when I have some more time off, I may send her some place just to do it all again (unless it's snowing).


  1. I don't eat out very often these days, but D'lish's is definitely a prime destination for me if I want a quick burger and have my car with me at work. I probably visit their drive through for a D'lish's Meal a couple times a month on average during the winter.

  2. Peanut M&M's are actually an even better complement to popcorn, I believe.
    Also, Les Mis is far, far superior to Phantom (sorry, Mom). It's not Andrew Lloyd Webber, for one thing, and Jean Valjean beats the Phantom in a cage match any day, hands down.

  3. oh, Marne', I thought you loved Phantom. Corey I only remember you going to Phantom once, when you made the remark that the Pyro stuff was like being at a rock concert so all the audience within 20 rows could hear you!!! Grandma and I enjoyed going by ourselves, so there!!

  4. I want to see that cage match.
    Peanut M&Ms stand alone--they don't need popcorn and should never be relegated to a "complementary" role. That is my official policy.
    And I think that D'lish's may just edge In-n-out by offering fry sauce. I'm amazed that they aren't busier.

  5. If that mylar balloon weren't still floating on your ceiling, some might think you have super human powers. Who knows, maybe you did get it down somehow.
    I leave my kids with my husband once a week while I work and the house is routinely thrashed.
    Pro: I feel irreplaceable.
    Non-Pro: I usually clean it up myself.
    PeanutBUTTER M&Ms stand alone.
    Junior Mints great with popcorn
    Diet Coke? forget it

  6. Wow, I'd have to say you surpass my food photo-taking abilities. I feel like I should just stop trying after seeing your soup masterpiece.
    Oh how a flood of memories came back at the mention of Phantom and the Pontiac 6000 (LE - you forgot the LE). I think I still have major parts of the play memorized, in addition to the Barbra Steisand songs that were played intermittently with Mike (Crawford and I are practically on a first-name basis after all these years).