bentangle

Tag: in-laws

Everything Old Is New Again

by on Sep.07, 2010, under Entertainment

As my wife depicted brilliantly on her blog (dtemama.com), we took the kids to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire this weekend.  It was quite the initiation for them.  Though truth be told, my visiting tenure there only dates back to the first time my wife took me with her family (back when we were still dating).  But she has been going sporadically since her teen years and it seemed like something the kids would enjoy (if not fully understand).

It turned out to be a fun time had by all and it couldn’t have been a better time to go.  The weather was just right for it, and it happened to be Children’s Fantasy Weekend.  So as we walked in the gates the kids were handed pirate treasure maps on which they were instructed to find several letter clues around the fairgrounds that would spell a password to get them some pirate treasure.  While the map was a tad confusing (it was nice of them to label all of the roads on the map, though it would have helped if there were also matching signs on the roads themselves), the kids managed to keep up with our meandering trek around the park and go excited every time they found a clue.  We took in some fun shows including the birds of prey demonstration, a human chess match, as well as a the jousting match at the end of the day.  Though despite my encouragement to try some authentic Renaissance fare, the kids opted for pizza for lunch.

Grasshopper soaked it all up like a kid in a candy store.  As we passed shops he would shout out “Look! A Harry Potter cape!” or “Look at that pirate skull!”  During a lull where my sister-in-law was waiting for the next glass-blowing demo and my son was decidedly too hyped up on lunch and excitement to be trusted in the vicinity of dozens of hanging glass bobbles, I took him away from the group for a father-son foray into a sword shop that was setup to look like a beached pirate ship.  Both on the way up the walk to the opening and through the entire tour around the store he couldn’t be more exhilarated.  He climbed on the cannons and pretended to fire them.  He sparred with another boy with some wooden practice swords.  He pointed out dozens of exciting decorations and items of interest.  And impressively managed to refrain from grabbing any of the real swords upon my explanations of the real dangers in doing so.  By the time the human chess match was underway in the late afternoon, he was petering out – he nearly fell asleep in my lap (most likely the occasional sword fighting in the match was all that was keeping him from conking out).  But he managed to get a second wind long enough for dinner and the joust (though he was dead asleep long before we arrived back home).

Cricket was equally sparkly-eyed over the events and scenery of the Faire.  Though much of her interest was targeted toward princess and fairy-related items (though she was also excited by dragons, swords, and pirates).  She wanted to see and try everything (including a turkey leg – I believe her uncle let her try some of his).  Being nearly 7, she was a little more understanding of the fact that the Faire was a depiction/dramatization of a period in history.  Though I’m sure her concepts of the history of humanity is very spotty at best (she finds it incredulous that there weren’t things like Wii and iPhones back when I was her age).  There wasn’t a shop in which she didn’t find something she wanted, though we did promise each of them one souvenir and so she was good about cataloging the things she liked so she could make her choice by the end of the day – she went with a princess hat (conical silky hat with frilly edges and streamers – I’ll take that over the $75 dresses and $40 parasols she had her eyes on earlier in the day).  Her brother opted for a small wooden sparring sword which took all of his might not to swing all over the place as we walked around the rest of the day.

If there was any complaints I could offer on the day, there would only be one small one:  this weekend was supposedly Children’s Fantasy weekend, and though there were disclaimers about the joust being graphic prior to the start of it, I really did not expect the level of violence that was displayed to an audience knowingly more heavily weighted with children than usual.  It started off as I’m accustomed to – the usual grandstanding hoopla that opens things up and gives the event personality and color.  Then the jousting commences, then the sword play, then some more talk as you think the bad knight is on the ropes and read to give up.  And then the bad guy claims to be secretly working for the King of Spain and an attack force moves in and explosions start up (even up to this point, though the booms are a bit loud, I’m still feeling this is all fairly family-friendly).  Then, to end the confrontation, the good knight, who has the bad knight on his knees after a stab to the gut, slices the bad knight’s throat and fake blood drools from his neck and spouts out of his mouth. Grasshopper’s point of view prevented him from seeing that particular bit, though I doubt he would have understood it to question it.  But Cricket, who was further down the bench near her grandparents got an eyeful of it.  When I asked her after what she thought of the joust, she commented that it was interesting, but she wasn’t sure why the guy spit out cherry juice at the end (I assume my in-laws threw that explanation out there right after the shock of the ending faded).  So I guess there is no particular harm done, and I can appreciate realistic drama and effects as much as the next guy (as a guy, I thought it was awesomely done), but I found it a little surprising given the theme of the weekend.

Anyway, it was a long day and everyone seemed to have a great time.  When they were asked what they favorite parts of the Faire were, the kids both stated that they liked the ship-swing ride and playing with the hula hoops (they’re kids – it’s all about engagement).  I’m sure that this is the start of a semi-regular tradition as I’m sure they’re going to want to go back over and over again.  And I don’t mind one bit.  To see the world of the past light up in a kid’s eyes like a new and exciting place brings a child-like gleam into my eye.

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Vacation Tales

by on Jul.13, 2010, under family

I’ve decided that I need to redefine what I term a vacation. While I enjoy visits with my family immensely as they are rare due to distance, such visits are not truly vacations and often another one is required shortly thereafter (no offense intended to those family members I recently visited – we absolutely enjoyed coming down). Being back at work is no vacation, that is for sure. Anyway, there is no single cohesive narrative of my trip, but a number of small anecdotes. So that will be the form of this post.

Part of our visit to my parents’ house overlapped with a visit from my grandmother. My grandmother is very religiously-minded and has a very low tolerance for bad language. I like to think I was tame, but my wife pointed out on our drive home that I still managed to drop a few mild bombs (e.g., what the hell, darn) and whenever I did, my grandmother would visibly flinch. Meanwhile, one of these overlapping evenings she was playing cards with my mother and had a moment of frustration with her choices in discards to which she exclaimed some phrase that was clearly not a swear, but carried all the tone of one. I made a comment along the lines of whether it was really not cursing if the inflection was there to which I got no response from her, but my mom nearly burst into snorting laughter.

On the ride home (which was during the day this time), the kids spend good amounts of the time ‘reading’ – by which I mean the got out theyr Tag books and let their Tag readers read the stories to them. They were entertaining themselves and not complaining, so I can’t fault them on it. Well there was a book that Cricket wanted to read that was one of Grasshopper’s and which was only on his Tag reader, so she asked him nicely if he wanted to switch readers. He responds by looking at her and saying “No,” in a tone suggesting it was a stupid question then turns to the back of the reader where his name tag is affixed and drawls out his name as if reading it slowly to her. Being as he is 3 and can barely recognize all of the letters in his own name, I couldn’t help but find the moment hysterical.

Due to coincidental travel, my sister-in-law had left her cat at our house while we were gone (there are clearly a lot of questions as to the logic there, but bear with me). See she lives about 30 minutes away from us and her parents (who live a mile from us) and she doesn’t have any reliable acquaintances near her who could feed and check on the cat at their own home. But she didn’t want to have to burden her in-laws with another cat in their own house, and since my mother-in-law had already been commissioned to water our plants, it seemed to stand to reason that she could feed the cat while she was there. So we came home from our travels to a paranoid cat. It would spend the majority of its time hiding from all of us and only seemed to eat food at night when we were all sleeping. Cricket wanted to take it for a walk … in its carrier. She seemed rather disappointed when we turned her down.

We also managed to fit in a beach trip this weekend (though it still involved visiting family). The kids had a blast – Cricket spent hours getting knocked over by waves while Grasshopper chose to have no truck with the sea and stuck to digging randomly in the sand. I played in both capacities off and on and eventually resigned to relaxing in a beach chair and reading on my new Nook (book and product reviews coming soon). Being that it was a very sunny day, we were vigilant with sunscreen application – the kids got at least 2 extra coats and I reapplied at least 3 or 4 times. Ironically the kids came out of the day with minor rosiness in a few spots and I ended up lobster red from waist to neck. But I was able to drown my pain in boardwalk food, so it is all good.

Now if only I could find time (and money) for a real vacation ….

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Home Alone

by on Apr.10, 2009, under family, home & stuff

It’s quiet.  Maybe eerily quiet.  I’m sitting here in silence at my laptop – my only noise accompaniment besides the clicking of the keys and the slow cadence of my own breath is the sound of the washing machine wooshing upstairs.  At this time of the night, that isn’t really that unusual – if my wife is still up, she will often also be sitting at her laptop typing away.  But tonight I type alone.

The reason for this is simple:  I AM alone.  From basement to attic, the current head count in my house is one (counting me).  This has been the population peak since Monday afternoon and will not likely be surpassed again until Saturday night.  Why, you ask?  My family has taken to the road. (continue reading…)

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