Spring Break. Mom was slammed with work, Dad was slammed with work. Result: no vacation, and no garage sale in lieu of vacation. (I am not a huge garage sale fan. Setup is a pain, dealing with people who can't read simple signs or tags is a pain, and after putting on a couple of them I determined that the tax write-off that we get from donating stuff to Goodwill or a similar charity is pretty near that return that we get from selling stuff for cheap - particularly if you assign a dollar amount to the "brain damage factor." However, we have a lot - A LOT - of junk in our carriage house. Enough to mitigate in favor of a garage sale. Or carriage house sale. Whatever. There's enough stuff that I can justify piling it up, assigning dollar values to each pile, and not worrying about individual price tags. I planned to do this Spring Break week, with help from the kids, and the incentive was that any money that we made would be applied to summer vacation expenses. Then the ice storm hit, and stayed. Soccer started. As a result, we have only gone through a fraction of the stuff in the carriage house. I wasn't actually, factually aware of how far behind we'd fallen until the other day when I said something, without thinking, about the "Spring Break garage sale" - and then said, "Oh, crud, that's next week." Sigh. Targets are now set on May. Well, "set" is too strong a word, maybe. Targets are now pointed in May's general direction.)
Fortunately, the kids forgot about the Spring Break garage sale concept, or if they remembered they didn't mention it. (I think I lost them at the word "work.") And they took the news that Mom and Dad were in the weeds pretty cheerfully, as it gave them an opportunity to attend day camp at the local community center. Said day camp is very conveniently located. As in, "a-block-and-a-half-down-the-street-conveniently-located." Said community center consists of: a building with a yoga/martial arts studio, a computer lab and some multi-purpose space; a small soccer field; a basketball court; and Connor's Playground. We call it Connor's Playground because it was built by the city back when our daddy was hyper-involved with the neighborhood association. Connor happened to accompany his father to the meeting where the various playground options were unveiled and the NA was charged with selecting one of them. The adults narrowed the choices down to a couple and then turned to the expert - Connor - who walked them through the pros and cons of each setup. In the end, they let him choose - hence "Connor's Playground." I have to say that he made good choices, as it's a heck of a playground.
There is an after-school program at the center, in addition to yoga classes (taught by my former legal secretary; not to continue to beat a dead horse, but Fort Worth is a blessedly small big town) and other grown-up classes. And there are camps. Cheap ones. Like, ten dollars-cheap. Mom and Dad have been aware of these camps but never really had the need for them and, thus, never bothered to check them out. Not to worry - Connor checked them out for us. In fact, during Spring Break last year, he actually attended for a day, for free. He rode his bike down to the center, with our permission, to play basketball with some school friends, saw that the camp was in session and advised one of the employees that, if they let him audit the camp and he went home with a good report, his parents would pay for him to attend in the future. He probably didn't use the word "audit." On second thought, this being Connor, he probably DID use the word "audit."
His plan worked, because when we suggested a day of Camp Grandma and a day of Camp Nana to start off the week, he presented an alternative proposition: two days of day camp, "just to see if we like it." We said okay, they liked it - a lot - and we ended up sending them back on Wednesday. And then on Thursday, for a half-day only, which turned into a full day, at their request. See, Thursday was the St. Patrick's Day party. And we HAD to attend the St. Patrick's Day party, given that Connor committed his parents to essentially UNDERWRITING the St. Patrick's Day party. I have an unconfirmed suspicion that Connor may have been the idea guy BEHIND the St. Patrick's Day party. What I do know is that on Wednesday night I had to venture out, with zero advance notice, to purchase green cups, plates and napkins and non-green chips. Someone else brought the drinks and the cupcakes. Although cupcakes came home (from Central Market) with Connor and me:
It's the Irish flag, people. How were we to resist?
Marching orders (not sure whose - Connor's or the counselors'?) were to procure green chips. However, we quickly discovered that the same folks who dye tortilla chips red and green for Christmas don't bother to break out the green dye for St. Pat's. As a result, our green chip options were: guacamole; spinach and artichoke; and garden vegetable. Connor got excited each time we located a new selection. Then Buzzkill Mom would ask, "Would YOU eat these?" "Heck, no - oh, the other kids won't eat them, either." So, regular chips it was, plus a couple of containers of sour cream and onion Pringles - GREEN containers, thank you very much. And a giant vat of those toxic orange cheese balls from Target. You know, the kind that are the consistency of styrofoam. My kids think that these are delicacies, given that we only purchase them for kid parties. I justified them on account of how they were Irish flag orange.
Somehow the giant vat of Irish cheese balls never made it to the party. I smell a rat - or two of them. Oh, we forgot to share the cheese balls? The better to eat them all, my pretty.
I also got talked into buying a bag of 7-Up flavored Jelly Bellies (a TWELVE-DOLLAR bag of 7-Up flavored Jelly Bellies) from the Central Market bulk bin because (1) they were green and (2) the other green candy option was margarita-flavored Jelly Bellies, which we decided were not kid-camp appropriate.
These followed us home, too:
I like to think of them as "investments." The tam, in particular, is quite versatile:
So, what we learned from day camp party day: my perma-room-mom status extends to days on which school is not in session, and I am a sucker for themed headwear.
Wednesday was "field trip day." I was not too keen on the field trip concept, until it was explained that the field trip consisted of an afternoon constitutional to Curly's, the frozen custard sort-of restaurant that is two blocks from the center, at the retail edge of our neighborhood. I say "sort-of restaurant" because I can't really describe Curly's - it's a building shaped liked a slice of pie, on a similarly shaped triangle of land, with a drive-through window on one side and a walk-up window on the other. There are a few picnic tables on the walk-up side, and a little parklike area. The parklike area is sort of a mini dog park, because people in our neighborhood seem to like to walk their dogs to Curly's. Somewhat coincidentally, Curly's also sells dogs - the chili cheese variety - along with Frito pies, ice cream and slushes. And that's it. Before Curly's was a weird ice cream concept, it was an even weirder concept - a Fed Ex/mail drive-through dropoff that also served coffee. Which I sort of found to be ingenious. But the kids will tell you that Curly's is better.
The exciting outgrowth of Curly's Walk 2011 is the Earth-shattering news that CONNOR NOW LIKES ICE CREAM. He didn't ORDER ice cream, mind you. His usual order is a cherry slush, and that's what he got. Little brother got the concrete of the month - mint chocolate chip. (Sort-of-sad-but-really-more-pathetic note: it wasn't until the following night, as Connor and I were backing out of the driveway to go out in search of green chips, that it hit me that mint chocolate chip is the March flavor of the month because it is green - as in, shamrock green. I said this out loud, and Connor said, "Oh, good point." Then one of us remarked out loud that "that was just a blonde moment, wasn't it?" Kind of glad to have someone to share those with.)
I am not entirely sure how this all played out, but somehow LITTLE BROTHER CONVINCED HIS BIG BROTHER TO SAMPLE HIS ICE CREAM. I am employing capital letters to emphasize the fact that a six year-old managed to accomplish in one afternoon what two adults with postgraduate degrees have been unable to accomplish for eleven years. I would like to think that this does not reflect poorly on Mom and Dad's life skills or powers of persuasion but that, rather, it just hasn't been Connor's "time" to try ice cream. Because said time, apparently, was March 17, 2011. Write that date down on the calendar, because Connor tried ice cream on that date and pronounced it good. That's exactly how he described it: "Mom. I tried some of Parker's ice cream, and you know what? It was GOOD. It hurt my tooth a little bit, or the nerve above my tooth, but that's the tooth that's about to fall out, so as soon as it falls out I am going to start eating ice cream with you guys." I considered several possible responses:
2. [Silent facepalm.]
3. "It's about dang time."
4. [Wringing his blessedly stubborn neck.]
5. Some combination of the above.
In the end, I went with an open-mouth gape and "Oh, okay."
I can't fault him for boycotting ice cream, because I went through a prolonged phase where I didn't particularly like the stuff (and frequently was accused of being a Communist as a result). Then something happened to change my opinion of ice cream. That "something" is about three and a half-feet tall and favors chili bowl haircuts. Parker would eat ice cream every day if we let him - and we do. (We limit him to a half a cup after dinner.) His favorite flavors are "all of them." Current selection in our fridge includes cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, Girl Scout Thin Mint and pumpkin. Yes, PUMPKIN. It's Parker's favorite among his many favorites. Weird, I know - but it IS good stuff, and my child's affinity for it also illustrates what I refer to as "the cinnamon and nutmeg factor." My kids are crazy for pie spices. Not actual PIE, but the flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. Hence the fact that they will cheerfully eat sweet potatoes, if properly doctored, while eschewing regular potatoes, and also the fact that their favorite cookies are snickerdoodles and gingerbread.
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, Parker and I broke out the mint chocolate chip ice cream (because it was green) and also the Girl Scout Thin Mint and did a head-to-head comparison. The verdict, courtesy of the ice cream connoisseur: "the mint flavor is in the ICE CREAM in one and in the BITS in the other, but they taste about the same. But only one of them is green."