Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is Santa Scary or Splendid?

This past holiday season, we contemplated the age-old question of Santa Claus, whether he is truly jolly ol' Saint Nick or the epitome of scary fright nestled snugly in a red felt suit with white furry plush edging.

To help you come to your own decision, we present you with Exhibit A, a photo of happy, smiling Helios, eyes sparkling during a recent visit with the gloved wonder (no, not Michael Jackson, which would decide the scary v. splendid question easily enough). Santa would make light conversation with Helios, inquiring as to his behavior, whether he was good to his little brother, and other such appropriately paternal inquiries. In every visit with Santa or one of his helpers, Helios asked for the same thing: "a big present, a really, really big present. I want a big wrapped box for me to unwrap." Several people tried to pry into Helios' Christmas request, inquiring what should be inside that Christmas-wrapped box. Every time, Helios said, "nothing. I want a really big box to unwrap and Santa needs to bring it. He needs to, Mommy!" Every night, along with a prayer for his family and friends, sandwiched between "Good night, God" and "Good night, Jesus" was "Good night, Santa Claus. Don't fall out of your sleigh!" Clearly, Santa Claus is held in very high esteem. Love and concern for Santa emanated profusely from every pore on Helios' 3-year-old body.

Now, please consider if you will, Exhibit B. This is Hesperos, screaming in bloody terror during a preschool visit by Santa. This was not a single occasion. Every time Hesperos was approached by the hairy elderly guy who liked to have children sit on his lap (hmm...), his reaction was the same. Whether Santa came bearing candy canes, toys, coloring books, or just a jolly laugh, Hesperos recoiled in fear from the plentiful beard, suddenly wanting to cuddle with anyone in the continental United States who could take him far, far away. Since Hesperos still wears diapers, it's unlikely, but in the picture at right, the shading on his pants looks like Hesperos lost his bladder control during this visit to Santa.

Santa: scary or splendid? Include this among the important decisions you must make in 2008.

Friday, December 28, 2007

School Photos

In a lot of ways, we find that preschool is like a concierge service for parents. We drop the boys off in the morning, where they run to play with toys and spend the day doing various activities. Someone else helps them clean up their mess, ensures they're fed and clean, and deals with the struggle of putting them down for naps. Although we occasionally feels twinges of guilt for not "working" as hard as we should to handle our children's necessities and spend more time with them, it's an undeniable truth of being a two-parent working family that daycare is a necessity. All that said, the preschool does lots of "little things" that really make having the kids there a pleasure. For example, the preschool periodically invites a hair stylist in to do hair cuts, so we send in a check and the kids come home with their hair coiffed. This is a task that Mommy and Daddy often don't tend to until the boys' hair curls to a length that rivals Cousins Rose's and Jasmine's.

Something else the preschool takes care of for us is pictures. While we take plenty at home with the digital camera, we've never taken the boys to a real photography studio (or even one of the shopping mall drive-thru style photo stores). Given that the boys are the only grandchildren on Daddy's side, we know that good, frame-worthy photographs are a requirement.

So how lucky are we that the preschool brings in a photographer semi-annually to take "real" pictures for us, with the prints received just in time for holiday gifts! (Perhaps one of the nicest things about being young parents of the only grandchildren is that holiday gifts are taken care of for the next 10 years or so. If the kids put their hand print on a t-shirt, *poof* it's a gift for Grandpa. If the children make a drawing, *poof* it's worthy of Grandma's refrigerator. If the children string together some beads on a pipe cleaner, *poof* it's a bracelet for one of their aunts.)

A photo was taken of each boy, with one picture of them together. Both boys look as handsome as ever, with Helios looking a bit more animated while Hesperos has the same half-frozen smile in each shot. What was the photographer making Hesperos look at to elicit such a look? We have no idea.

But what we do know is that you take take each of these pictures, put them in a frame, and then what do you have? That's right...

*poof* Christmas presents for the grandparents and great-grandparents!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Carol of the Drums

'Twas two days before Christmas when all through the house, two little boys were napping, allowing Mommy and Daddy the opportunity to clean up the garage, including moving the fabled drum set to a less conspicuous location.

Unfortunately, all our sneakiness was for naught. Daddy got distracted by some shiny things and some perceived inadequacy of our garage door, so he started working on that, creating a ruckus that awakened the boys from their mid-day slumber. We heard a few "pad pad pad pad" sounds, with increasing speed as little feet made it down the stairs. The door to the garage swung open with a gust of air and Helios, sleepy eye dust barely rubbed out of his eyes, ran in with his "DRUM SET!" war cry.

Quiet time no more, Helios sat down to work on his rendition of "Jingle Bells" using drums and cymbals as his only musical backup...and this time, caught on video!

A little later, Hesperos was able to get into the action, too, with a couple of well-placed thwacks when his brother wasn't looking.

(Postscript: The drum set was listed on this weekend. Two prospective buyers have already contacted us. Here's hoping!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving dawned sunny and cold, but with everyone in the home very thankful for different things. Hesperos was thankful that his breakfast was hot and waiting for him when he got downstairs. Helios was thankful that none of his favorite trains were in Hesperos' clutches. Daddy was thankful he was allowed to sleep in, and Mommy was thankful that the entire family was spending Thanksgiving dinner at the home of one of Mommy's friends...relieving Mommy of the responsibility of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey and requisite additional responsibilities (such as shoving her hand into the orifices belonging to a dead bird's corpse to remove its organs -- YUM!).

However, Mommy still had a bit of cooking to accomplish to do her part, specifically a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, stuffed mushrooms, stuffing/dressing, and cranberry sauce. (Note that the very excellent recipes were authored by Mommy's extremely talented friend, Rebecca.) Children running amok is not conducive to working in the kitchen. So what to do with the little darlings?

That's right...send them outside with Daddy to decorate the house for Christmas! While our neighbors may have thought that we were either holiday-decorating go-getters or overly-endowed with Christmas spirit, those inside the house knew the truth: shiny lights, inflatables, a hammer and nails, and anything with a hint of electrical shock or danger are all great ways to occupy human beings with Y chromosomes.

Daddy donned his warmest working-outside outfit, complete with 1980s Flashdance-style headband (what a feeling!) as he nailed the icicle lights into place on the front porch. Meanwhile, Helios was overseeing the inflation of the Santa train while Hesperos looked on wistfully from the warmth of inside. Standing next to Hesperos is a musical, roller-skating Christmas bear, a gift from Grandma Joan (the toy is much-loved by Helios, tolerated by Mommy and Daddy, and capable of inspiring a paralyzing fear in Hesperos when it's moving).

After the lights were hung on the awning with care and the train inflated, it was time to assemble the skeletal snowman. This was possibly Hesperos' favorite part as now he'd finally found a Christmas icon that was more his size.

With the house decorated and the very-tasty-if-I-do-say-so-myself cheecake made, we clambered into the car to go to Thanksgiving dinner. The kids ran and played, we ate, drank, were merry and the womanfolk praised each other's cooking skill (with tones hinting to our spouses that they had not complimented us sufficiently). Stuffed like a traditional turkey, we left just a little heavier than we were upon arriving.

Once home, it was very late, very dark, and the kids were surprisingly very awake, allowing the rewarding feeling of hearing they both coo from the backseat "oooo!" and "wow!" at the sight of their recently electrically-upgraded home. The boys chomped at the proverbial bit to get out of the car and get a close-up look. Helios stood there and, doing his best Santa Claus/pregnant Mommy impression, put one hand on either side of his imagined big belly and shouted "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!" Hesperos, a bit more intimidated by the lights and fanfare, needed some coaxing. Daddy walked him over to the train and held him aloft to see the reindeer the pops out every 15 seconds with a little gift. (We don't know what the reindeer does for the 15 seconds he's inside Santa's train out of sight, but I assure you that under the influence of beverages, the adults have speculated!). Hesperos is a little scared of the reindeer's jack-in-the-box style popping action, but we believe with counseling and psychological care, his aversion to reindeer should be overcome by next Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Halloween (Almost 2 Months Late)

This year's Halloween brought with it no ghosties, ghoulies, or long-legged beasties but it did come with two little boys primed and ready to go trick-or-treating in their costumes.

Halloween day started off with the boys cramming down breakfast, possibly the last semi-nutritious food they'd have for the day, before clambering into their costumes. Because Mommy didn't want the boys to wear their "real" costumes to daycare, we pulled out Thomas the Tank Engine for Helios (this costume's second annual engagement!) and threw together a Bob the Builder ensemble for Hesperos. Off they traipsed to school with Daddy, carrying with them boxes of homemade pumpkin cupcakes with cheesecake frosting and pumpkin cookies to share with their classmates (because there's nothing better than 40 children under 4 years old pumped full of Halloween adrenaline and sugar...and knowing that only 2 of those kids will be coming home with you!).

After work and school, the family gathered together to put on their real costumes, created by Mommy and inspired by Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat. Helios and Hesperos made their appearances as Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively. Daddy helped make it a trio of motley characters through his appearance as the Cat in the Hat (looking a little bit like the Cat was recovering from a weekend bender). At the time this picture was taken, Hesperos wasn't too keen into wearing his fluffy wig, so we just told people that Thing 2 was going through a coming-of-age hair style crisis.

Following trick-or-treating activities, we ran into Uncle Elmo, Aunt Sully, cousins Oscar, Rose, and Jasmine, and Aunt Tiffany and Uncle Igor at the local burger joint, where Helios was appropriately horrified by perhaps the most terrifying event of the evening: being hugged by Uncle Elmo. But, Helios was revenged upon Uncle Elmo. Mommy tossed Uncle Elmo the black cat tail that Daddy had used (and been sitting on). Uncle Elmo rubbed it against his cheek, casting lustful cow's eyes in Aunt Sully's direction as he waxed eloquent about how soft the tail was and how sexy it'd look being worn. When Mommy told Uncle Elmo that the tail being caressed had previously festooned Daddy's bottom, Uncle Elmo dropped it like a hot potato, with an appropriate amount of horror.

After dinner, we went home and did the requisite, time-honored fight for candy privileges, filled with the normal, labored arguments and negotiation. ("No more candy until tomorrow." "That has nuts and you can't eat it; give it to Mommy." "That's too small for Hesperos, he could choke." "No gum because you'll swallow it and it'll stick to your teeth." "NO JAW BREAKERS! DO NOT PUT THAT INTO YOUR MOUTH!" and on and on...) Helios was distracted from the debate a few times when we finally gave into his desire to try on Daddy's Cat Hat and tail (apparently everyone wanted a little tail that night). He walked around the foyer, shaking his bottom, saying "meeeeow! I'm a cat!"

The evening was concluded by a much-needed, post-chocolate-eating-frenzy bath, and two little Things who snoozed the night away.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb...Drum!

Recently, we completed a time-honored ritual of the season -- moving Uncle Elmo's possessions from his garage to our home so Mommy can help him sell them. This event happens many times throughout the year, predicated on Uncle Elmo's knack for acquiring stuff, Aunt Sully's lack of time, and Mommy's bizarre sense of enjoyment derived from selling other people's things. Whenever a truckload (yes, a truckload) of Uncle Elmo's sellable junk makes it into our home, it's the household equivalent of binge-and-purge buffet time for the Texas cheer-leading squad: Mommy's and Daddy's garage fills with an abundance of furniture, books, electronics, toys, and more, thereby satiating any desire we may have to acquire. It's immediately followed by Mommy selling everything she can, leaving us with a sense of cleansing as the space and order is once again restored.

Amongst the little gems in the most recent batch of treasures-for-sale was a drum and cymbal set. This was a gift to Cousin Oscar for one of his birthdays a couple of years ago from his grandmother. We suspect that parental wisdom is what drove the drum set into Uncle Elmo's garage, where it's sat gathering dust since that summer birthday long ago.

One dark and stormy night (this past Saturday), Daddy, Uncle Elmo, and Mommy unloaded everything into the garage while Helios and Hesperos munched on some no-longer-recalled Veggie Booty in the kitchen. Aroused by the din, Helios cracked the garage door and peeked out. His saucer-sized eyes glazed over with the heady rush of "this is too good to be true" sensation (reminding me of that one time we took Daddy's brothers, Helios' uncles, Scooter and Agrippa to downtown Tempe, AZ when they got a look at the local college co-eds) and exclaimed "DRUM SET!" with a war cry that Braveheart would envy.

Running to the object of his desire, Helios scurried around looking for the drum sticks he knew was there, with some kind of 3-year-old intuition that much occur whenever something loud or potentially destructive is available. Finding only one (which is all he needed), Helios proceeded to circle the drum set like a predatory bird, striking with enthusiasm at every rim, disc, and cymbal.

The drum set will still definitely be sold (it'd be a shame to deprive another family of the barely-muffled enthusiasm we experience through the garage walls), but for the next few days, we think we can delay the sale.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yummy Rice

Living with a growing 16-month-old son teaches a parent many things.
  1. Yes, they can do that (whatever "that" is, but it's probably destructive or involves contortionism).
  2. Yes, it apparently does look edible to him (and the more undesirable it is, the more edible it apparently looks).
  3. No, he has no sense of timing and is perfectly capable of dirtying a diaper immediately after changing.
  4. Just because he's small, cute, and a baby doesn't mean he's not sneaky, smart, and stealthy.
  5. Almost every new experience (unless it's immunizations or having teeth brushed) is an exciting (and possibly delicious) one.

The last item is the most fun for us, although it often causes the most work. Let's use rice as an example. Hesperos loves rice. When we say he "loves" rice, we don't mean that he just enjoys eating it. We mean he l-o-v-e-s rice. If it weren't bullying to tease a 16-month-old (and if he even understood what we were saying), we might ask him if he plans on marrying rice and having little rice grain babies...that's how much he loves it.

Rice, whether white, brown, pilaf, or covered in cheese, is a 3- or 4-times weekly affair in our home. And if we go out to eat, woe betide the person who has rice on their plate if Hesperos does not! He immediately stakes claim to it by stretching his chubby fingers out and whimpering "mo, mo, mo!"

When rice is on his serving dish, Hesperos immediately ham fists it into his mouth, generally taking the fist with him. Sometimes we wonder whether he's preparing himself for a life as circus freak act as his short limbs seem to be crammed impossibly further into his mouth (we often catch our breath waiting for the gag reflex to kick in and the dinner to come out), all in the name of getting that rice inside his gullet. When his hand emerges, Hesperos generally carefully examines his digits with a care surprising for one so young and, with the eyes of a hawk and the sticky tongue of a frog, proceeds to lick every grain of rice off his hand and fingers, no matter how small.

After dinner, there is a perfect circle around Hesperos with rice strewn everywhere (whatever escaped his meaty fists and landed on the floor) where it looks like the Great Rice Monster suffered an itchy dandruff attack. Hesperos lolls about looking a little like a satiated Jabba the Hut. Mommy or Daddy, before letting Hesperos off his chair, strip him down to a diaper (by the way, yes, there is often rice in the diaper, too) in order to capture as much of the sticky rice-iness as possible before it is littered throughout the house like Hansel's and Gretel's breadcrumbs.

Hesperos, ever courteous in spite of his feasting habits, always takes his dish to the sink. In spite of eating a cup or two of rice (yes, he can put away up to two cups of rice, net of spillage), he'll carry his dish into the kitchen, eyes bright, smile wide, still saying, "mo, mo, mo!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fire Trucks Are Holiday Red!

The local fire department sponsored an event this past weekend featuring a visit with the red-clad wonder with leather boots (I mean Santa, not Britney) followed by a ride aboard a fire engine. With the fire department within throwing distance of our home (even for Daddy, a not very notable thrower!), we had no choice but to go.

Unusual give the time of year, Santa was of very little interest to most of the attendees although his presence did serve to keep them all on their very best behavior. Eyes glistened not with thoughts of gifts and reindeer but with the reflection of the flashing lights on the engine and a fine glaze of excitement heightened by the pure corn syrup candy canes all children were eating.

About every 5 minutes or so, a fire engine would pull through, pick up a new batch of children mixed with adults (who are really just over-sized children) and make a quick trip around the neighborhood. Very odd for children standing in line, there was no pushing, hustling, or complaining ... just an awed stare every time a new fire truck pushed through.

Once Helios and Hesperos got on board, the true shock-and-awe of the experience really hit them. Hesperos stared at it all in blue-eyed wonder (looking a little bit like Violet Beauregarde from Willie Wonka pre-blueberry juice squeeze due to his too-big winter jacket). Helios was barely restrained hysteria (in that way where he was perfectly behaved but we were waiting for the snap -- which never came!).

In spite of going on roads that Mommy and Daddy had only driven on once before, Helios' sense of direction and observation were powerful enough to know exactly where he was as he shouted, "we're behind our house!" or "turn right to go back to the fire station!" At one point, we asked Helios if he were happy and we were met with an ear-to-ear grin of "Oh, yeah! WOW!" leaving us to wonder if a fire truck is serious competition for a train.

The fire truck ride concluded with a quick chat with one of the real fire fighters and a gift of fire hats for each boy. Hesperos wore his with style and flair, tipping it as though he were a Victorian gentleman wearing a bowler hat.

Helios wore his later, when he was stripped down naked and ready for his bath. Were Mommy a less kind mommy, she would have taken a picture to remind Helios of that moment, to be presented at some future time when it could be most embarrassing, with a headline like "Chippendale In Training." But Mommy isn't nearly so no camera was handy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thank You, Great Grandparents!

Today, after Helios' morning basketball game, we were all sitting in the family room, watching Veggie Tales' Star of Christmas when the doorbell rang.

Helios stood up like a shot and said, "Oooh! Who is that?!" with the sort of wary suspenseful anticipation that he invokes when he sees unfamiliar wildlife in the backyard or some strange vague shape under the bubbles in the bath. (In the last case, the wariness is well deserved, since Helios takes his baths with Hesperos.)

The cause of the doorbell was the mail lady, dropping off a box from Helios' and Hesperos' great grandparents (Daddy's grandparents). Helios carried it into the family room to Mommy, straining all the way saying, "It's too heavy!" in a groaning, quasi-constipated sort of voice. When we told him the box probably had Christmas presents in it, the pitter-patter of his feet increased as he said, "Oh, presents!" with all thoughts of its weight gone.

In a very paternal fashion, Helios stood over the box while Daddy opened it. Hesperos stood there, clapped his hands, squealed and drooled. Gifts for Helios and Hesperos were pulled out and immediately ripped open with the type of vision-blurring speed that is generally only seen in cartoons.

Inside were fleece blankets, one for each. Hesperos pulled his out, pointed at the white snowmen on his blue fleece and giggled. He plopped down on his diapered bottom with a swishy thud, and tried to fan the blanket over his legs, but apparently that wasn't as satisfying as walking with a corner of it stuffed in his mouth, risking tripping.

Helios clambered up on the stuffed chair to sit with Mommy, pulling his red snowflake bedecked blanket with him, and tried to shake it out over his legs yelling, "look! It's a parachute!" That fascination lasted only until Mommy opened the card that accompanied the gift. Out fell a $5 bill. Helios saw the floppy green paper with a sharp eye that we would've expected only pre-teens to have. Breathily he exclaimed, "Money! For which to buy things!" (for some reason, talking about money prompts Helios to start talking like a Prohibition-era gangster ... "for which to buy things"??).

As he clutched and grabbed with Gollum-like intensity, Mommy handed over the dough, prompting him to run upstairs screaming, "I am going to put my money in my wallet now. Don't come upstairs!"

Meanwhile, Hesperos went upstairs for a nap, wrapped in fluffy snowmen (oblivious to money since it doesn't taste very good), followed shortly thereafter by a tired Helios who passed out on the couch.

Thank you, great grandparents!

Monday, November 26, 2007

We're Officially a Soccer Family

Throughout the early autumn months, we became for a short time a true soccer family. Helios tried out the sport by taking a class at the local YMCA (generally held excruciatingly early). Every Saturday, for about three months, Daddy and Helios dragged themselves out of bed, through breakfast, and to the Y where they ran around the indoor courts with about 25 other 3- to 4-year-old children. (The getting-out-the-door process was generally aided by Mommy who herded them through their daily routine and out the Mommy could enjoy the uninterrupted spaciousness of the king-sized bed all to herself while Hesperos slept in, hopefully.)

Daddy filled in as assistant coach, the role for which he must've been preparing throughout his entire adolesence when he was a soccer player himself. Daddy's assistant coach title not only entitled him to help keep Helios in line, but also allowed Daddy and Helios to have matching t-shirts.

As possibly the youngest child in the room (the requirement was for the child to turn 3 by first game and Helios had aged like a fine cheese just two weeks before the start of the "season"), Helios was a bit intimidated by the other children's size and speed, and maybe a bit put off by the slight belligerence of some of the parents. (Truly, no parent is truly immune from the 'my-kid-is-the-best-but-why-is-he-playing-so-poorly' syndrome, although some control it better than others.) So, as like as not, Helios spent the first ten games or so climbing over the rubber barriers and running in circles on the field by himself.

Near the end of the season, however, Helios finally started to get into it, kicking a few goals himself and delighting in the resulting cheers (whether imagined or real).

The last game of the season brought with it a celebratory party during which Helios received his first trophy, as well as a couple of doughnuts that made the napping attempts later just that much more special. A little tuckered out, Helios rested his head on little brother Hesperos' lap -- Hesperos always being Helios' greatest fan.

... and starting next week is basketball!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

He's Walking!

A while back, Mommy rushed to make an appointment at a hair salon and, in her haste, stuffed a couple of Hesperos' toys into her purse which didn't make it out until a short time later. When finally seated in more-or-less relaxation, the stylist noticed the toys, correctly assumed that they weren't Mommy's personal playthings, and took the opportunity to prattle on ad infinitum about her own children. (It's of continual amusement to Mommy that people find almost any opportunity to talk about their reproductive and parenting experience as though it's something entirely new and has benefitted from some recent innovation - rather than being a process that pretty much all mammals of the Animal Kingdom share. But, who is Mommy to comment? She does, after all, author a blog specifically dedicated to her children's lives. And so, we leave this little interlude and return to our regularly scheduled program...)

Mommy, bound by good sense to not interject into this heated soliloquy while the quality of her hair style was at stake, sat in peaceful silence, listening to an exhaustive list of the stylist's children's accomplishments.

Included in this litany of milestones was the stylist's claim that both of her boys were walking fully unassisted by 8 months. Eight months?! Helios was rolling around like a dung beetle on the floor at that time, barely able to crawl -- due primarily, we think, to stubbornness since he was perfectly able to stand and climb into the dishwasher (climbing into the dishwasher being one of those strange interests my children happen to share).

Hesperos is finally trucking along at 15 months, although he's been walking with the assistance of people or stationary objects for several weeks now. And just to prove it, here's Mr. Hesperos himself, semi-live, semi-nude, and in person, walking around the foyer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"My First Homecoming"

Helios and Hesperos, along with Daddy, went "home" to Kumquatville with Mommy recently for college homecoming celebrations. Kumquatville is typical small town America, with festivities that last a week long, beginning with speeches and choral performances, progressing through yell night, and proceeding to a homecoming formal dance, homecoming parade, homecoming tailgates, and homecoming football game, concluded by homecoming barhopping which is capped off by homecoming hangover on Sunday.

The boys, being unable to procure the requisite identification to demonstrate their legal ability to imbibe the local firewater, instead relegated themselves to the more wholesome homecoming activities, including watching the parade and going to their first ever football game. Aunt Elspeth and Cousin Andrew were also in attendance, gathering beaded necklaces in school colors and catching freely thrown candy. (Homecoming is like pre-Halloween in Kumquatville. And where else could a person see a middle-aged cowboy dressed in school colors twirling the hula hoop around his waist on a public street?)

Afterward, the boys marched off with us to the football game. Helios really took to football in a surprising way, turning the mini football he received during the parade into a 3-year-molar teething toy.
Hesperos was a bit bewildered by all the people and, perhaps typical of "today's children" chose not to watch what was happening live just a few yards away, but instead chose to watch the same game on the super-wide TV screens 40 feet above (while eating lunch, of course).

Following the game, we all went to Grandma Joan's and Grandpa Wil's home to hang out for a little bit and get warm. While there Cousin Andrew tried on his Halloween costume for us. Unfortunately, the sight of Cousin Andrew dressed up as a super-sized mouse was simply too much for Hesperos to handle as he became simply petrified. In violent reaction, he crawled away as quickly as possible into the closest and largest hole he could find ... Grandma Joan's dishwasher.

That night, we went back to the hotel exhausted and cold from the day's activities. After baths, Hesperos, apparently very concerned about the availability of TP for the BH for the long ride home, piled large quantities of unraveled toilet paper into the wagon we had brought along with us. (The two-seater Red Flyer wagon, in case you didn't know, is the double-stroller of the here-and-now for today's yuppy parents with a small brood. While not as compact, it's infinitely more sturdy, functional, and fun so it tends to go with us now on many of our daily jaunts and shorter road trips.)

After a slightly incomplete night's sleep (periodically interrupted by cheers and hoots from the locals proud of the winning home team), we pulled ourselves together the next morning so we could make the long trek home (along with a studious Aunt Elspeth who drove along with us).

Hesperos, being ever sensitive to Mommy's and Daddy's needs for rest from driving, offered to help out a bit with the work of getting us home. Unfortunately, because he's just a little vertically challenged and can't reach the gas pedals, we didn't get too far.