Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Break in the Winter Doldrums

Upon awakening last Saturday, I officially dubbed the day "Get the Hell Out of the House Day".

For the past several weeks, bad weather and illness have kept us house-bound. Other than going to work and the grocery store, we lived the hermit lifestyle. The cool hangouts were 1) the kitchen and 2) the family room. And since there is no actual wall separating the two rooms, it is in reality just one big room.

This, my friends, grows old quickly.

Saturday was warm(ish), and no one was ill. I seized on that fortunate alignment of the stars and planned what was, for us, the slug-like family, an ambitious agenda. In the morning, we went to an indoor playground. When Allie was smaller and less agile, I could take both kids there by myself. Now, though, flying solo at Jelly Bean Jungle doesn't seem to be an option, at least on a busy Saturday. It took both Jeff and me to keep track of the kids in a distressingly large crowd of children. They had a ball, though, and Jeff and I got a decent amount of exercise running around after them.

The post-nap activity was a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. The melting snow has caused some large puddles and swampy ground, and, lacking the foresight that you'd think would be second nature to worry-wart parents like ourselves, we neglected to have Sean and Allie wear boots. Despite having to continually circumnavigate the messy spots and lift the kids up over large puddles, we really enjoyed just being outside for a change. Oh, and the "leisurely" part? Not so much---Allie's preferred pace is akin to that of a race car, while Sean dawdles over every puddle and stick on the ground. Good thing they each had a parent to chaperone them!

Then, the piece de resistance of the day. We went out to dinner. At a restaurant. WITH THE KIDS.

Umm, big deal, you say? Well, for us it was indeed. The four of us have never gone out to a restaurant. We just never saw the point to going to a restaurant and having to entertain the kids, chase them around, force their square-peg toddler behavior into the round hole of well-mannered dining-out social mores. Jeff was extremely skeptical of this plan. I believe his exact words were "Are you trying to kill me?" I admit I was nervous too.

Despite our trepidation, the kids were extremely well behaved, and we had a great time. I worry a little about the nutritional value of most kids meals, but it turned out okay. Sean actually ate some food (yes, it was mostly french fries, but he also ate chicken. I'm working on his eating, really I am), and I poached some vegetables and rice from Jeff's dinner for Allison.

One of the side benefits of Get the Hell Out of the House Day was that the house remained remarkably undisturbed while we were out. We had so much less clean up to do after the kids went to bed than usual.

Since fate would not let this splendid day go unbalanced, the next day launched a multiday stomach illness that struck me, Sean, and Jeff. Take that, happy campers!