So, we were off yesterday for a breakfast at Denny's in Billings of all places, where the hoodlums could make the most of piles of eggs, sausage, bacon and the like. Ari is big on grabbing as much as possible, stuffing her mouth full and then pocketing more for later. Anywhere is fair game but she most favors the pantline right above her diaper. Meanwhile, Gwen is quite preoccupied these days with "bubbles" and "ice," peering into our coffee cups to check on the bubble situation, while stirring around ice in a kid sized glass with her index finger. Needless to say, we rather amused various customers. Fortunately, the vast majority had grandchildren and we're sure the moment reminded them of how nice it is to have them around, and then give them back when things got a little out of hand.
The Miller Sideshow then canvassed other locations, such as the mall. In brief, because your coffee cups are only so deep and patience only so much for posts sans pictures:
* Toys R Us has not changed that much since we were there as kids. Except we can now understand price tags, batteries and better gauge which tiny pieces will hurt more than others at 2am on the living room floor. Gwen received an early birthday present, a wee and very pink bike that works on gravel. We also stocked up on band-aids, a helmet and antiseptic.
* Asian food (Grand-Marnie and Marnie avert eyes until next asterisk) for a one and two year old that haven't had it before is not the best of choices when you plan to be in polite company later. Especially when your one year old also appears to be sporadically shedding brown rice from various clothing items more than 2 hrs after the event.
* We decided we need more vacations. The weather was perfect. The ducks were friendly. The hotel pool was warm.
*Anne's inner hippie was satisfied only after stopping at Town & County Foods (T'n'C to those in the know) where you can buy Burt's Bees, emu in the meat case and a full selection of various ice creams. The hippie again cheered for the stop at Coffee Crossing this am.
* Our car dropped mud from the time we left until we pulled back into the driveway tonight. Think mud-bogging-pay-to-watch type coating. Needless to say, it was rather wet when we left. At the hotel, some German tourists made sure to tell Anne, when she had to roll down the window to even see them, that the car was "VERY dirty, very dirty indeed." Unfortunately, the town car wash was broken, which meant at the Ambassador breakfast, Anne pulled the whole "I have NO IDEA whose car that is across the street from the restaurant." Fortunately, the New Zealand Ambassador at her table didn't press the issue and no trade relations suffered because someone tripped in all the mud leaving the area. It also meant waiting to exit for the hotel until the majority of the group left...
*We made it through Costco in well under an hour, counting the foodcourt. No purchases were made off-list other than the adult-type sippy,ahem, travel cups. Two for $20 total is a good deal, no matter how snobby you are. We are not snobby...we would have bought more if it was not for the formula, diapers, and wipes in the cart with the kids. Did we mention they don't spill? That's half the family no longer dumping drinks in the car!
* Feeding kids "Whirled Peace" Ben & Jerry's ice cream at 8pm is also not the best of choices (yup, we bought it at T'n'C). Especially when you buy a pint because it is on sale. And spoons. And then proceed to wonder why on earth these things always sound fun until about 2am in a hotel room, with neither kid sleeping.
The thing about mini-vacations is that it reminds you how important family is in the big picture. Things like seeing Eric's face as he loaded the pink (VERY pink) bike into the Suburban, realizing with a big grin that he was officially a dad (not that the juice stains on his otherwise clean shirt didn't already indicate that). And things like letting both kids splash and swim in the pool (with a tight grip on them). And things like letting them eat oodles of "Whirled Peace," knowing it might not be the best idea in the end but you gotta live a little. :)