Sunday, July 06, 2008

American Weekend

I think we just had the perfect Fourth of July weekend. We hit all the quintessential Americana activities with a distinctive Wisconsin flavor and topped it with heaping servings of true family fun. Here's the rundown:

Thursday afternoon: Pick up Epu from work, take the kids out to lunch in downtown Chicago.

Thursday evening: Dinner at a fancy restaurant on Lake Michigan to celebrate my grandfather's 80th birthday. We got our own room so the kids could run around without spoiling anyone else's expensive good time. Ended the meal with a giant Oreo made of cake and stuffed with cream cheese and Cool Whip and, of course, crumbled Oreos. Made by Epu, Nutmeg and me. Grandpa loves Oreos.

Friday a.m.: Get Nutmeg dressed in a red-white-and-blue dress hastily purchased on deep discount at Kohl's. Then watch as she and her grandpa ride on the back of a convertible in a suburban Milwaukee parade. The photos of this explosion in cuteness are stuck in my camera back at the in-laws' house, but let me assure you that they are amazing. (Nutmeg felt the dress looked like Dorothy's from "The Wizard of Oz," which we are currently reading, so I found her a little basket at Grandma's house and she put in some stale rolls for the slices of bread Dorothy carries and covered it with a dishtowel. As she folded the towel just so, she burst out with: "I have never felt so much like Dorothy!"

When she passed in the parade, though, she was pure Nutmeg, yelling at the kids who presumed to pick up the candy she was throwing. She had meant for US to pick up that candy, so she could have it back later. Of course.

Friday afternoon: Attend a fantastic pool party at the home of my sister-in-law's parents, with perfect, perfect weather. Cool in the shade and in the pool, but not so chilly that you were scared to venture into the pool. Weekend calorie count, already high, approaches stratosphere.

Friday night: Grandpa and Epu take Nutmeg to a suburban fireworks display while I sit on the couch with Grandma and watch the Cubs win on a big-screen TV.

Saturday a.m.: Catch up with a friend over breakfast.

Saturday afternoon: Stroll Milwaukee's lake shore area with friends and their baby. Play in a playground. Ogle mansions. Get frozen custard.

Saturday evening: Stop by The Spot drive-through in Kenosha, drop the baby with my parents, and take Nutmeg to see "Wall-E" at the drive-in theater. Yep, we still have one there. Eat and watch from the hatchback of the Subaru. Grin at one another goofily and agree that henceforth we shall always make it a tradition to attend at least one movie here every summer, as long as the place survives. Apply copious amounts of mosquito repellent. Nutmeg stays awake through the whole movie, although, like me, she has trouble following the all-action, low-dialog plot.

Sunday morning: Eat french toast and sausage on my parents' patio, then watch the girls play on the slip-n-slide. Help my dad research a gigantic TV he wants to buy. Does it get any more American than that?

Sunday midday: Take a long, long "Sunday drive" along surface streets back to Oak Park. The freeway's under construction. Ogle mansions.

Sunday afternoon: Grill hot dogs for an early dinner. Let the girls play with the hose all afternoon while I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" in the lounge chair. This is possibly the highlight of the entire wonderful weekend.

Thanks to all that action, getting the girls to bed by 7:30 tonight was a snap, thank God, because I'm about to collapse myself. But I'm all aglow, partially from getting too much sun today and partly because things just gelled with our girls in these past few days. Sure, we were constantly having to issue threats and ultimatums to keep Nutmeg's behavior in check, but some of them actually worked and overall I feel like she behaved ok. It was one of those weekends that made me feel like I was dating my kids, and that I know I will turn to in my inner montage when they are all grown up and say, remember that time?

Here's hoping that the answer will be "Yes." If not, I will just have to direct them to this post.

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