Category Archives: outings and trips

The London Bridge is NOT falling down

OK, I can’t upload any pictures, but I thought I’d pop on while we have wifi and wax lyrical about the trip so far. You know, just so you can be maximally jealous. I’m nice like that.

So the plane ride was totally uneventful, except that I’ve apparently lost the ability to sleep on a plane. Which sucks, because I used to pass out pretty much as soon as I’d fastened my seatbelt. I have regularly slept through take-offs that had other passengers using their barf bags, but on this flight … not so much. I blame my kids. Or George Bush. Or possibly that large caffeinated latte I got right before the flight. Anybody’s guess.

Anyhoodle, we made it, crusty but triumphant, to the flat where my Mom has been staying for the last month, where we were greeted with smiles and hugs and extremely large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. This is a good way to be greeted. Once our wine was consumed, we just had time to shower off our travel crud, change into nicer, less wrinkled clothes, and hop on the tube to Covent Garden. Mom had made reservations for pre-theatre dinner at Le Deuxieme restaurant, which is one of those places you dream of going until your bank balance jerks you back into reality. This is reason number one why I loooooooove traveling with my Mom. We ate amazing food (srsly. Unbelievably good lamb curry) and drank more lovely wine and between the alcohol and the jet lag I’m a little surprised they didn’t kick us out for irresponsible giggling. After coffee and dessert, we strolled down to the New London Theatre and saw Warhorse, which was one of the best shows I have seen in years. Really inspiring theatricality, beautiful music, incredible technical effects, moving emotion – just top notch. Also we had wonderful seats, which is reason number two why I loooooooooove traveling with my mom. By the time the show was over, we were like zombies (except for the brain-eating part), so we caught a cab with an awesome driver who told us all about his dog and his grandkids. Stumbled into the flat and passed out cold on our beds.

This morning we slept in and then met a friend at the Tate Modern when it opened at 10, to see their special exhibit on Voyeurism (stopping by St. Paul’s cathedral and the Millenium Bridge on the way). The exhibit was really interesting, but frankly being that hip is damned tiring, so after the Tate and a quick lunch we got our cheesy tourist hats on and went on the guided tour of the Tower of London. Which I am not ashamed to say I freaking love. Cockney Beefeaters telling you all about Elizabethan beheadings? SIGN ME UP. Then we visited the Crown Jewels (bling!), looked in the gift shop (kitsch!), and headed over to the Courtauld Museum, which was our favorite stop today. It’s just a tiny gallery, but it’s completely filled with the good stuff. Monet, Degas, Seurat, Rubens, Van Gogh – just delightful. By the time we were done there, our feet were about to FALL OFF, so we headed back to the flat to rest a little (rest = drink wine), and now we’re headed off to a local Thai restaurant for dinner. Tonight we pack up our stuff and tomorrow morning we’re off to Inverness! So far it’s been superlatively fabulous, which is good, because I miss Mr. Squab, the Hatchling and the Sprout like crazy so this trip has to be good enough to make that worthwhile. Not sure what our internet situation will be in Scotland, but I’ll update again when I can. Ta!

‘Allo, ‘allo

So have I mentioned that I’m going to London and Scotland for the next 10 days?

Oh, I’m sorry – what? Where the hell have I been? I should let a person know if I’m going to be gone that long? This relationship is a two way street?

Geez, I know. What can I say? Life happens, and lately I’ve been either cleaning the damn house or saying fuck it and napping rather than blogging. Now do you wanna hear about the trip or what?

OK. So, about five years ago (maybe longer), my mom took me and my next youngest sister on a trip to Italy. She just got it in her head that she wanted to go, and she had the means to take us, and so we went. Visited Bellagio, Venice, and Florence over the course of 10 days, and discovered that we travel extremely well together. It was a total blast, and ever since then we’ve been trying to figure out a way to do it again in a different locale. But, you know, I had two kids, and my sister had a kid and between that and jobs and other life-related-crap it kept getting pushed to the back burner. But now the kids are old enough to leave them for a little while with their fathers, and their fathers are insane nice enough to take their own vacation time to watch the kids, and Mom is once again flush enough and Lady Bountiful enough to foot the bill, so: voila! UK, here we come. Sis and I will fly into London, where we’ll meet up with Mom, who’s been there teaching for the last month. We’ll do a few days in London, then fly up to Inverness and explore the highlands for a few days, then train it to Edinburgh for another few days, then fly back to Heathrow to get back home. Emotions I am currently experiencing:

  1. Gratitude that I have such a lovely mother and such an extremely lovely husband.
  2. Queasiness at how much I’ll miss my girls while I’m gone. Oh, man. Really going to miss them. Despite their best efforts this week to ensure that I feel no qualms about leaving them with their father/friends/neighbors/gypsies/whoever will take them off my hands.
  3. Excitement to get that passport working – it’s been too long.
  4. Fear that my MomBrain will make me forget to pack something crucial. Like my camera. Or my sanity.
  5. Hope that I can still sleep on planes, because I may not be able to sleep until then.

Anyway. Wish me good travel tomorrow night tonight (I gotta go to bed …). I’ll post travel notes while I’m there if I can. And please send good vibes to Mr. Squab – I’m hoping he’ll still want to BE Mr. Squab when I get back.

Recap of our trip to the grocery store with the baby, aka the first time the Hatchling has been out of the cart the whole time

Me: OK, now, remember, the Sprout has to ride in the cart so you get to walk and help Mama with the groceries. You have to stay with Mama, OK? NO running away, right?

Hatchling: OK, Mama. I helpa get gwocewies.

Me: Right. You help.

Sprout: A-bah.

Me: OK, let’s see what we need for fruit … do you want some bananas? (She’s only been asking for them 10 times a day since we ran out.)

Hatchling: Ummmm … no fanks. Oh, WOOK! Tomayoes!

Me: (grabbing bananas, distracted) Uh-huh, that’s right – ok, put it back, Boo. Put it back on the pile.

The Hatchling puts the tomato back on the top of the heap, and it rolls down and falls on the floor.

Hatchling: Uh-oh.

Me: That’s ok … (surreptitiously places it back on the pile) … Now don’t touch anything, OK? Just look. No touch.

Hatchling: Wookit, Mama! Apple! (She holds out a pomegranate.)

Me: No, that’s a … never mind. Put it back. No touching, right? Just LOOK.

Sprout: MAH!

Hatchling: OK, Mama. I get-a bwoccoli. I be riiiiight back.

Me: Honey, don’t – you really want broccoli, huh? Well, I guess that’s a good thing to want. OK. Look, don’t touch all of the – just bring me that one. THAT ONE. (The Hatchling walks towards me with a clump of dripping wet broccoli.) Good, good job. Here, I’ll take it.

Hatchling: NO! I PUTTA INDA CART!!

Me: Honey, we have to put a bag on it first.

Hatchling: INDA CART!!!!!!

Me: Yes, we’ll PUT it in the cart, but FIRST we have to put a bag on it. See? It’s all wet.

Hatchling: All wet!

Me: Thank you. OK, now we need to go down this way for some cereal …

Hatchling: I WUV ceweal!

Me: I know you –

Hatchling: Oh, WOOK! BAWOONS!

Me: Boo, stay here! We’ll look at the balloons later! Honey … (grabs cereal, parks cart and Sprout in corner) Come on, Boo. You have to stay with me, remember? (Hatchling darts through flag display, I knock it over trying to reach her) Ack! (grabs Hatchling with one hand, picks up flags with the other) Now come on. We’ll look at the balloons when we’re all done. Let’s find the milk, OK?

Hatchling: What’s dat?

Me: That’s crackers.

Hatchling: Get some?

Me: Uh, yeah, I guess we do need some crackers.

Hatchling: What’s dat?

Me: That’s gouda. It’s a kind of cheese.

Hatchling: I WUV-A CHEESE! Get some?

Me: No, you don’t like that kind. Come on, here’s the milk. (grabs milk, tries to head back to registers)

Hatchling: What’s dat?

Me: Those are lightbulbs, honey. Come on, it’s time to go pay for our stuff.

Hatchling: What’s dat? What’s dat WIGHT DERE, Mama?

Me: (increasingly beleagured) I don’t … those are cookies, honey.

Hatchling: COOOOOKIES. (She says this exactly like Cookie Monster) Getta some coooooookies, Mama? Get some wight DERE? I WUV-A coooooookies.

Sprout: Ga gooo. Ggggoo.

Me: Fine. (grabs cookies, dumps in cart) Now let’s GO. Come on! (enticingly) Let’s go look at the balloons!!

Hatchling: (brightly) OK! (runs off in the direction of the balloons)

Bag Boy: Wow, she’s a real cutie. How old?

Me: (smiling, fatally turning attention away from the Hatchling) She’s three, and the little one is two months. (notices Hatchling completely entangled in various balloon strings) Honey … argh … (leaves cart and Sprout at register) come here, let’s get you untangled …

Hatchling: I stuck, Mama.

Me: No kidding. OK, now let’s go get our groc-

Hatchling: I NEEDA BAWOON!! MY BAWOON, MAMA!! (Grabs four graduation themed balloons tightly in fist.)

Me: Christ. Look, how about we get this one? Just ONE, ok? And put the rest back.

Hatchling: (brightly) OK! (Marches back to cart with her rainbow happy birthday balloon in hand.)

Grocery Clerk: (smirking) One balloon, then?

Me: (sheepishly) Yeah. Thanks.

Hatchling: OK, Mama! Time to go to car. Say bye-bye!

Sprout: geh-GA.

Final Score: Hatchling = Eleventy Billion, Me = Zero. Once the Sprout can play I am truly doomed.

Contrasts abound

Yesterday, Mr. Squab, the Hatchling and I went to the State Fair with some friends. I ate:
cheese curds
fresh lemonade
grilled corn on the cob
a cone of chocolate chip cookies
a caramel apple

… it was delicious.

The Hatchling also totally enjoyed herself, mostly just looking at the sights from the comfort of her stroller, but also going on:
Aquatic bumper cars
a Dinosaur-go-round
a Whale ride

She went all by herself – or at least, with no adults – and totally had a blast, as these photos show:

The weather was perfect, the kids were well-behaved, and we were in and out before the crowds got too crazy. It was great.

TODAY, on the other hand, I had an appointment at the diabetes clinic this morning, then had to haul the cat to the vet with two kids in tow (nephew is hanging with us this week), then get lunch, then clean up the chocolate milk the Hatchling spilled all over the place, then fend the cat off from my own food, then put the Hatchling down for a nap, then try to do something productive and totally fail, then take the kids to the park and around the block, all while feeling so tired I want to lay down and die, partly just because, and partly due to the fact that two of the medications I’m on have fatigue as a side effect.

Can I just go back to yesterday, please?

Random Tidbits for the weekend

1. Endearing Habits of the Hatchling of late:
a. Changing her froggy’s diaper. She gets out the changing pad and the wipes, plus a clean diaper, lays the frog on the pad and goes through all the motions with a very focused look on her face. She’ll be a good big sister.
b. Dancing “ballet.” She has always loved to dance, pretty much since she could walk (cue the ABBA song), but now, courtesy Sesame Street, she knows the term “ballet” (or “bah-WAY”) and regularly requests that we dance together. “Mama? Dance? Dance bah-WAY?” is pretty much the cutest request I’ve ever gotten.
c. Her new going-to-bed routine is that when Daddy says it’s time for night-night, she runs over to me and gives me a big hug, saying “big hug” (or rather “BEEEEE HOOOOOOGGG”) over and over again, while Daddy tickles her and then finally scoops her up to carry her upstairs. Highly satisfactory from all perspectives.

2. I’m enjoying the new season of Project Runway, but so far the cast isn’t up to last season’s standards in my opinion. Also, if “Suede” doesn’t stop referring to himself in the third person, I may hop a flight to NYC and throttle him myself.

3. Fail blog is WIN. (via Christopher)

4. Last night, the Hatchling’s little friend M had to be rushed to the ER with a 105 degree temp and a vicious case of the croup. Also last night, a coworker and friend of BFF, who was in his 30s I think, died in his home of complications of Type 1 diabetes. They say bad things come in threes … what’s next?

5. Tomorrow I am venturing out with a two-year-old to try and wrest an iPhone from the jaws of the Apple Store. Wish me luck. On so many levels.

6. Tomorrow evening, after Mr. Squab gets home from work, we’re heading north to visit his mom in Duluth, as she is WAY overdue. I expect to eat too much (she is a fabulous cook), sleep not enough (the Hatchling hasn’t figured out how to sleep away from home so much), and try to ignore my nausea and anxiety. Riiiiiiiiight. Anyhoo, posting will therefore be light-to-nonexistent. (Unless I get that iPhone, in which case we’ll see what we can do.)

Have a lovely weekend!

HELL yeah

One of the awesome things about living in Minneapolis is that the Guthrie Theater is here, and if you’re lucky and have an x-treeemly nice friend who works there sometimes you get to do things like go see Sir Ian McKellen talk about his life as an actor and then take questions from the audience. I SAW GANDALF LIVE, YO. I’ve been to a couple of these “conversations” (Hume Cronyn and Tom Stoppard before this one), and they’re pretty universally awesome. Actors and playwrights tend to be pretty good storytellers, and it is so fun to see these legendary figures in real life, as it were. McKellen was no different: great sense of humor, funny anecdotes, patient tolerance of some of the off-kilter audience questions (one woman actually had the temerity to use her time at the mic to ask for tickets to McKellen’s sold-out run of King Lear. Sheesh.) The audience was already in his thrall, and after the question and answer session was over he stood up. But instead of leaving, he told us that he had “a little treat” for us, and related how back in 1964 he’d acted in this play Sir Thomas More, of which three pages are believed to have been written by Shakespeare. The play, surprisingly, had never been performed before McKellen’s production; he said he was one of the last actors who’d ever be able to claim to have originated a Shakespearean role. (How cool is that?) And then, out of nowhere, he pulled out this speech from the play, More’s response to the men of the city calling for the “removal of strangers” from the city. The speech was astonishing, not only for its beautiful language, but moreover for its startling relevance to the current political situation:

MORE. Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.

… Let me set up before your thoughts, good friends,
One supposition; which if you will mark,
You shall perceive how horrible a shape
Your innovation bears: first, tis a sin
Which oft the apostle did forewarn us of,
Urging obedience to authority;
And twere no error, if I told you all,
You were in arms against your God himself.

… Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,
He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? what do you to your souls
In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
Tell me but this: what rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name
Can still the rout? who will obey a traitor?
Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel
To qualify a rebel? You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,–
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountainish inhumanity.

Just take a minute and read it out loud – it’s killer stuff. Even more so when it’s being declaimed by one of the most famous voices in the world on one of the most famous stages in the country. (I mean, come on: Magneto saying “Men like ravenous fishes would feed on one another?” YOU GOTTA LOVE THAT.) The audience went nuts for it, of course. For a brief moment I wished there was some way McKellen could be got to give that speech in the Oval Office, but I immediately realized the laughable absurdity of that idea. Like Dubya would comprehend .001% of it. Ha! Sometimes I crack myself up. Ah, well. At least I got to hear it.

Pros and Cons

Bad things about going to the State Fair:
1. All the park-and-ride lots full. WTF?
2. Bastard fellow-humans refuse to help friend get her stroller off the shuttle.
3. Freaky Canadian geese in parking lot blocking off available spaces.
4. Cranky one-year-old means no time to look for cheese curds. Bugger.
5. Cranky one-year-old refuses to stay in stroller or in arms, apparently preferring to wander blithely among the probable rapist- kidnapper- and murderer-ridden fair crowds. Or am I projecting?
6. Attention-span of said cranky one-year-old does not extend to taking in more than 1/4 of one exhibit.

Good things about going to the State Fair:
1. The weather. Was GORGEOUS. 75 degrees and sunny, absolutely perfect for being outside.
2. Friend having the tits to snark “Thanks for helping!” to brain-dead nimrods who refused to help with stroller. I never have that kind of presence of mind.
3. Baby Ducks!


4. Finding a quiet green space where the cranky one-year-old could walk around and work off some of her cranks. Primarily by stuffing leaves and sticks into an orange safety cone. I know. Weird.
5. Sharing Pronto Pups with a friend.

Sharing is nice