Monday, September 12, 2016


Nanny has come to visit, and her arrival has coincided with (finally!) the coming of fall.

Weekends are always a whirlwind, but this weekend seemed a little more of a whirlwind than usual. Even though I had taken a mental health day, a the first in six months on the job. Unfortunately, I spent the day cleaning house.

The boys get out of school at a little before 4:00, but by the time they ride the bus home and we pick them up at the bus stop it is 4:30. Sam had his first soccer practice Friday afternoon at 5:00, so we had to get snacks in the other two and Sam in his shin guards and cleats and run him back to the school in time for practice. This year -- 3rd grade soccer -- he is playing 7 on 7 with goalkeepers, so it is a huge step up and one that I think he is really excited for.

Sam has always had a natural athleticism, but when I watch his at soccer practice, I can tell that he is listening to his coach (seemingly, much more than he listens to Elise or I) and that he is a smart player. He's not the fastest and he's not the first one to rush into a crowd of boys swinging at the ball, legs flailing, but he knows where he's supposed to be on the field and when he's open. I think he'll do really well in 7 x 7's, if we can keep him from wanting to be goalie.

After practice, we piled into the car and rushed to the airport to pick up Nanny. We got there just in time to sneak up on her and surprise her at the baggage claim belt.

The only thing Nanny really wanted to do on this visit -- or so she maintains -- was go to the farmers' market. Fortunately, Falls Church has one of the best farmers' markets around. If for no other reason than the fresh doughnut food truck. We dragged the kids out of the house even though the last thing they want to do on a Saturday morning after the first week of school is get ready to go anywhere. It was incredibly, horribly, dreadfully and unseasonably hot with highs forecast in the mid-90s.

We wouldn't last long. Peter spent most of the morning complaining of a stomach ache the origin of which no one of could discern. Ultimately, we figured out the first week of school had thrown off more than their daily had interrupted Pete's poop cycle so drastically, the poor kid hadn't pooped in almost a week. We let him lie in bed for awhile and watch TV, fed him fiber and filled him with water and juice, but it was only after we left the house that he finally decided he needed to put, and the trip to the bathroom in the community center was actually a welcome respite from the heat.

We headed home after not much more than an hour and with some flowers and a basket of peaches for some much needed R&R. Elise had a photo shoot in Georgetown that evening and I had volunteered to cook dinner though Elise had recently critiqued my evening meals as flavorless.

I may have written about cooking here recently. I used to love to cook. Working most of my young life in various restaurants in Florida and Colorado instilled in me a...not a love affair with cuisine, per se...but with an appreciation for good food and good beer. I used to cook for Elise when she was working full-time for an interior design firm in West Palm. But things changed when we had kids. Time was at a premium and I didn't like to rush. I started to feel like I was Iron Chef and was always making meals with three starving children begging me for food, hands outstretched in search of alms. It was no longer fun, and creativity was thrown out with the bath water for the sake of expediency. At our current rental house, we have a gas grill tied into the house's gas main and I've really enjoyed grilling, but perhaps my menus have become a little too simple.

I aimed to rectify that Saturday night. But just as Elise was about to walk out the door to go to her photo shoot, she vetoed my allowing the kids to watch TV and seemingly sinking any hopes of being able to prepare the gourmet meal I had planned in peace.

I got on the floor of their room with all the lego men and started to play. All three of them (Clementine freshly awakened from her nap) were drawn in and I had them roped into "not-so-silent", sustained play in no time. I snuck away and started on my prep. As the not-so-silent plant became less and less sustainable, I turned on some music. Clementine and Peter spent some time having a birthday tea party for Bacorn (the giant stuffed dog my dad gave the kids one Christmas) with Nanny. Sam read on the couch. Soon, Clementine would join me in the kitchen, and we would dance...father and daughter.

I cranked up the music which lead to an impromptu dance party in the living room. Dinner would be on the table soon: Baked Arctic Char with mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed brussel sprouts with bacon, cilantro pesto and corn salsa. Elise seemed sufficiently pleased.

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