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November 22, 2004

The Moose's Weekend Report

Maggie had been looking forward to the trip ever since I first mentioned it. She has followed Jack's progress on the website and thinks he is really cute. That week we counted down the days each morning. She was thrilled to be going on a plane like Daddy does. Mrs. Moose was scared for Maggie but tried not to let it show.

During the ride to the airport we ?ooh-ed and ?ahh-ed? at the planes going overhead. Little Miss "I don't need a nap!" (a recurring theme) passed out for about 20 minutes. The NWA registration lady was very sweet to Maggie and talked to her while I did e-check-in. Once she found out it was Maggie's first flight, she gave her a pair of pilots wings. Maggie of course was thrilled and wore it on the front of her Pooh overalls. She was also in charge of handing her boarding pass to security. Daddy had to remove his belt, but her predications of my pants falling down were thankfully in error.

Boarding the plane, the stewardess guided Mags into the cockpit where she met the pilot. She thought the controls were "cool". I think she was a little overwhelmed as she backed out quickly and said "come on Daddy!" as she grabbed my hand and led me down the aisle. We got a window seat!

It was dark during take-off so there wasn't much to see. The lights were interesting for a bit, and then she chattered for two hours about every feature in the plane. The arm went up and down many times. Thankfully she understood not kicking the seat in front of her. We had to go to the potty twice much to the disgust of our aisle mate who we determined was a Grouch. (Maggie gives the "thumbs down" symbol for grouches. Apparently Oscar does this but I think she has been watching the Glory of Rome on the History Channel.)

[What every child needs: a father with an addiction to the History Channel. Ed.]

Weird Uncle Jim met us at the airport and quickly scooted us to his car. If flying was an adventure, it was nothing compared to driving with Uncle Jim! First we got in the electronic exit lane from the parking garage - but had no e-ticket. 3 or 4 cars stacked up behind us as Jim begged the speaker for help. No one ever did show up but they turned on the "Lane Closed" sign which made everyone switch lanes before they would succumb to road-rage and flip Fabulous Babe's car. Alas, the cash lane was a good 7 lanes to our left. With no way to simply cut across, we backed up, turned the car 180 degrees and drove into the oncoming traffic. With enough distance from the toll booth achieved, Jim cut across to the register lane where we settled our bill. He had promised Maggie 48 hours of fun and clearly it had already begun.

[Oncoming traffic was light. Really. Ed.]

Once home we met an exhausted Fabulous Babe (a long week of her own) and got to peek at Jack. Dominos pizzas awaited our arrival - including one with black olives for Maggie. Dominos in St Paul are apparently not on a first name basis with Jim like the ones in Baltimore. (Ask him about the pizza cutter they delivered to him one Christmas.) Traveling must really take it out of a kid because - wonder of wonders - Maggie ASKED if she could put on her pjs and go to bed. One zonked out 4yr old, 4 month old and Fabulous Babe later and the boys were left with Halo 2 and beer.... As we put paid to the Covenant scum, I noticed that Jim seemed quite familiar with the game already.

[I plead the 5th. *cough* Finished on Heroic. *cough* Ed.]

In the morning, the ever-shy Maggie announced to Fabulous Babe that she would pick what she wanted for breakfast. Mags inspected the fridge, took a piece of cheese and that was that. We had some time to play with Jack who was very smiley.


[Jack tries out his best pick up lines to no avail. Ed.]

Jack is very tolerant of his dad's shenanigans and pet names. He seems to know his dad is a cartoon character. After a bath for Maggie, we were off to the train show. GAK! A school gymnasium full of cantankerous old train nerds!


[The Moose carries Maggie to safety above the smell of men enjoying themselves. Ed.]

Jim is one of them however so we were safe with a native guide. [Hey! I'm not THAT old. Ed.] The show turned out quite nicely as they had a running train layout that Maggie liked and a gentleman running one booth with trains and toys gave her a plush rabbit. Then it was off to Scale Model - an uber hobby store bigger than any I have been to before. Huge and with rows upon rows of models, slot cars, trains, etc., including some 20+ yr old sets from the company that I work for. (They must never put anything on clearance.) Maggie was well-behaved and nearly collapsed when we entered an entire row of Breyer horses.

I should note here that Mags has been in the traditional little girl "horse phase" for about a year now. ?Spirit? on dvd, toy horses of all sizes, a big plush horse to sit on, and a bazillion horse rides on me. The topper was the pony we rented for an hour on her 4th birthday in May. [It?s all about the ponies. No spoiling here. Ed.] She and the kids got to take turns riding and feeding it. So an entire aisle of horse toys stunned her for a few moments - quickly followed by "can I get this one?" Naturally, she found the $65 rare, collectible horse but was thrilled with the pair of smaller horses that I chose ($6) because there were two of them and they came in a little cardstock stable. Phew.

Off to the Mall of America! This place is ridiculously huge. It should be seen for the sheer scale alone. I normally avoid the aggravation of malls but the MoA is pretty darn impressive. It helped that Jim got us a parking spot right next to the door. (No derring-do this time, just proper planning.) Lunch on a third floor balcony overlooking the indoor amusement park had Maggie on the edge of her seat. She asked about the roller-coaster for the next hour as we worked our way down the three levels past hundreds of stores. We stopped a Libby-Lu (where they dress up little girls in frilly clothes, put glitter in their hair and take pictures). I thought this would be big hit as Maggie likes to dress up, especially in a "spinning dress". (dresses are only fun if they flare outwards as you whirl in place). "Do you like this store, Maggie" "yeah" "Do you want to get dressed up?" "ummmm...I wanna go on the roller coaster!" Air travel and Jim's driving had turned my daughter into a reckless thrill-seeker, so off we went.

[Libby Lu is to little girls what Glamour Shots is to grown women just without the low cut tops. Same big hair though. Ed.]

She was too little for the big spinning roller coaster but luckily they have one for kids. We got on and put our hands in the air as it whipped around. Much giggling as we were jostled about.


[Waiting for excitement. Ed.]


[More proof of my crap photography. Ed.]

Then we found what may be her second most favorite thing after horses (well third if you include chocolate) - a moon bounce. Minnesotans worship the canine god Snoopy, and Mall of America is his temple. Beneath a 20ft tall inflated deity, children bounce and cavort. Poor Jim tried to take her picture but she only stopped moving once. A few collisions with other revelers but no harm was done.


[Here a Camp Snoopy employee pays the Moose to take his dead sexy self away before causing any larger of a distraction from her workday. Notice the Moose's pleased expression. Ed.]

Back home, we had some more playtime with Jack. He likes to be tickled and is quite a talker - though I have no idea what he is saying. Then realization set in that it was TIME FOR A NAP. I carried Maggie up to the guest room under much protest. She was certainly not tired, did not want to rest, and was not going to close her eyes. She did agree to stay in bed if I lay next to her and we played with her new horses. Two hours later we woke up for dinner. Jim claims there was snoring, so Maggie may have some allergies.

[He saws wood like a beaver. A beaver with so many sinus issues he needs a subscription. Ed.]

FB, Jim, and Jack took us to a great Mexican restaurant - Los Margaritas. Ethnic food is always a sure thing if the entire staff is of that ethnicity. We just beat what turned into a huge Saturday night line and were seated immediately. A great meal in great company. Jack was simply amazing. I am always reluctant to do dinner out with infants and found it very tough with our own two kids, but Jack sat patiently through the whole meal. Of course, he also gathered a good deal of attention just for being cute. Maggie was finicky and decided she no longer likes quesadillas and ate a side of shredded cheese instead. (Cheese has been in demand this week. I have no idea why)

Throughout the weekend Jim had been pointing out that Jack looks like Fabulous Babe, that he will probably like the same things as Fabulous Babe, that he will think dad's interests are dorky, and that clearly there is no way to tell that Jim and his son are even related. This came up again at dinner but I jumped to the rescue by pointing out that they share the same hairline on the sides. (FB found this much more amusing than Jim did.)

[Great. Just what my wife needs. Another partner in crime. Ed.]

A second round of preparing the families for bed (including a waffle for Maggie who realizes that she is hungry after all) and Jim and I are left to our own devices. Back down to the tv room. Jim has the basement all guys want. Huge, full of his personal nerd gear (books and trains in this case), and with a tv bigger than my car for dvds and the Xbox. And what is best in life? The open steppe, wind in your hair, and falcons at your wrist? NO! Conan on a screen as big as my car! Much fun as we wax sagacious about the elements of Howard's work that were captured so well in this first film and done so terribly in the awful sequel. I never realized that Oliver Stone was involved in this film. The dvd extras are a treat as there is a clip with Ah-nold getting pulled down by wild dogs and you can hear him cursing as he tumbles (it was supposed to be a narrow escape scene). Commentary from the director and Arnold reveals how much loving detail the director remembers from every stage of filming and that Arnold is not even sure if he was in this movie. The revelations about the llama are best left unmentioned.

Sunday was simply R&R. Fabulous Babe whipped the flapjack factory into high gear and served up some great pancakes. [My wife is never sexier than when she's whipping up some batter. Ed.] Maggie got chocolate chips sprinkled on hers. She LOVES to make chocolate chip pancakes with Mommy, so this was a great treat. More playing with Jack, talking about books, and Jim showed me City of Heroes. He must be cahoots with my wife, because now both are tempting me with the idea of a new computer. [We?re both looking out for you. Ed.] Maggie, Jim and I made a quick run to the store to buy Boboli crusts, sauce and toppings and everyone got to build their own pizza for lunch! Maggie had a lot of fun with the making though she didn't eat much. (Eating half a can of black olives while waiting for her pizza to cook might have had something to do with it)

That afternoon we reluctantly packed. Maggie wanted to stay at Jack's house and hid in the basement. I had to carry her out to the car in tears as we said good-bye to Jack and FB. The mid-afternoon nap-time set in and she slept on the way to the airport. When she woke up she was back in good spirits, looking forward to another airplane ride and asking if we could get ice cream first. We said good-bye to Weird Uncle Jim and grabbed some cones - chocolate for her of course. Waiting for the plane was much more fun this time. The window at our terminal faced the runway, so we could see dozens of planes taxi by and take off.

A daytime flight gave us some great views and Maggie pointed out all of the rivers and lakes. She also saw our house which is pretty amazing for 900 miles away. Most of the flight was spent talking about our trip and reading story books. She fell asleep on the car ride home, woke up briefly to say hi to Mommy, told us she wasn't sleepy and passed out for the night.

Today she went to morning day care and told all of her friends about her trip. At lunch Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop took her to visit my sister and her three month old twins. Then Grandma stopped by just before dinner! With all of them, she showed the pictures on the cd that Jim gave to us just as we left. Then the carpet guys showed up and put new carpet in her room! Another big day.

Posted by theotherjim at November 22, 2004 09:34 PM


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