Be warned: NoFo has become relatively interchangeable with my favorite mommy blogs this week—at least until I can escape this hellhole of uncommonly photogenic kids who do adorable things and smother their uncle with hugs and save their grapes for him in heroic acts of sharing and demonstrate their unconditional, enthusiastic love in unforeseeable ways that often catch me off guard and bring my heart to my throat and fill me with the wonders of this thing they call emotional bliss.
I'm just telling you because I don't want you to think I'm going all soft on you.
That said, here are some more blogworthy moments from the snow-covered wonderland of Iowa:
• Playing doctor with my niece. And that's not a metaphor for anything; we were playing ACTUAL DOCTOR. My niece informed me gravely that I had a sore elbow and she needed to make it better. So she took my blood pressure (because she is the Nobel Laureate of 3-year-olds and she knows all too well the correlation between a weak heart and a sore elbow), looked in my ears, got a temperature reading from my wrist and told me with deep conviction that she needed me to stay in the hospital for a few more days. Then she said she was going to give me a taco, and after a short search of the room she handed me a square blue plastic thing from a broken fire truck, which, apparently, was the taco. She patiently explained to me how it worked: I had to push the button on one side and talk into the other side when I wanted to call her in from the doctor's office. Get it? It wasn't a TACO at all! It was a TAWK-EW -- something you TAWK into when you haven't mastered the art of pronouncing your r's. TACO!
• Furniture shopping. Mom and my niece and I were putzing around a furniture shop when my niece found a rather ugly chair that was deep enough that you could sit in it with your legs straight out in front of you, which she promptly did. Then she summoned me to sit by her, which I did, only with one leg on the chair and one leg on the floor. WHICH CAUSED THE EARTH TO STOP TURNING ON ITS AXIS AND MADE THE DOLLAR WEAK AGAINST THE YEN, because my niece very sternly advised me to make my legs just like hers. So I did, but I thoughtlessly crossed mine at the ankles WHICH CAUSED THE CANCELLATION OF "CHICAGO HOPE" AND BROUGHT INNUMERABLE MARRIAGES CRASHING TO THE HEARTBREAK OF DIVORCE because it generated a second (less patient because I was pushing her THIS CLOSE to justifiable homicide) verbal reprimand from her. And once our four legs were in proper alignment, she began to sing. Like a sweet little angel. A sweet little rock 'n' roll angel with a CD changer full of '70s hair bands. "Little Willy, Willy won't ... go home! But you can't push Willy 'round; Willy won't go!" And then her rocker bravado pushed her to sing even louder: "Try tellin' everybody but, oh no! Little Willy, Willy won't ..." Clap! Clap! Clap! "... go home!" No shit. My 3-year-old niece knows all the words to "Little Willy." And she's not afraid to sing them in front of furniture salespeople. Once all relevant legs are safely in proper alignment, of course.
* Babysitting. I've been an uncle for almost six years now, and this morning was only the second time I've been saddled with the fate-worse-than-death burden of babysitting all by myself. (I've also changed exactly one diaper in those six years, but you won't hear any sarcasm-laced complaints coming from me on THAT topic.) My lack of solo babysitting experience is mostly because I've never lived in the same city as the kids, so when I'm around the whole family usually is as well, and nobody makes any plans that don't involve everybody. And also because Grandma would reschedule her own funeral if it meant one more opportunity to be the head babysitter. And also maybe a little because my sister knows I'd spend any unsupervised time with the kids teaching them the "I Will Survive" sequence from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which would TOTALLY trump her stupid "Little Willy" trick on the cuteness continuum. Anyway, I was alone with the niece all morning while the nephew was at school and the other adults were doing whatever it is that adults do all day. And the niece Wore. Me. Out. We spent two hours racing from one activity to another: drawing cows (apparently I am a shocking disappointment in the cow-drawing department), playing hide and seek (note to niece: if your foot sticks out from under the bed, you're a worse hider than I am a cow-drawer, SO THERE), quacking and laying eggs in our bean-bag nests (does it make me gay if this activity gave me serious pause because I didn't want the static electricity from the bean bags to ruin my hair?), various board games (Don't Break the Ice is more work than fun, but Ants in the Pants is so fun it should be illegal), and we eventually found ourselves playing schoolbus. In this game, my niece dragged a dining room chair twice her size across three rooms and set it up in front of an overstuffed chair so she could sit in it and be the bus driver while I sat in overstuffed comfort behind her being the rider. At every stop, she hopped out and laboriously dragged yet another dining room chair over for yet another new kid to sit in, while her lazy uncle sat there in his comfy chair and did NOTHING to help. Though he did eventually get to put all the chairs back. Once we'd made it safely to school, of course.
• Mall walking with Dad. Yes, mall walking. As in making laps around the mall. Just like genuine old people. And it was actualy great—I've been bugging Mom and Dad to get more exercise because I selfishly am not even REMOTELY ready to pick out their caskets, and walking is one of the best exercises for the bad backs that have plagued my dad and me for decades. So we made five laps around scenic Lindale Mall, talking about real estate, stores that have gone out of business, family friends who are getting old ... stuff like that.
• Rehearsals. Yesterday afternoon I ran into Damon, the fabulous music director of the fabulous "Follies" song-and-dance extravaganzas I did for 10 straight years when I lived here. And he invited me to come watch some rehearsals for this year's show, which I did last night. It's always great to be greeted as a conquering hero when you poke your head in on a roomful of old friends (you should try it sometime—really!), and these friends didn't let me down. Best of all, not one of them has aged a MINUTE since I moved away 5 years ago. It was great to watch them dance around like the fools we all are, and I'm going back tonight to watch some more and then maybe head out for drinks with everyone. I tell you, this vacation is one of the best I've ever been on. And I'm still here for two more nights. Woo-hoo!