Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa Detector

Dylan's first run-in with Santa came in the form of my Dad, who'd been cajoled into dressing in a fuzzy red suit, at daycare. Dylan was leary of sitting on the big guy's lap, and she didn't cry, but she didn't smile either.

What Dylan didn't know was that Santa almost didn't make it. I happened to be a little early to the daycare Christmas party and used the opportunity to drive on up the road to check out the snow that had been piling up all day. A little past Eileen's I spotted my dad's truck. I slowed and saw Dad, wearing the full Santa suit, trying to squeeze through the beer-can window of his truck. Most small children can't fit through a beer-can window, so all I saw was a big red-suited butt and black boots, flailing wildly as Dad tried to reach the keys he'd locked inside. I wish I'd had a camera.

We got the truck unlocked and made it to the party, but Santa had exerted himself breaking into his "sleigh," and Eileen had the fire roaring. Fortunately, the kids couldn't see the beads of sweat dripping beneath Santa's beard and thought he was out of breath because he just flew in from the North Pole.

Fast forward one year. Dylan vs. Santa was as epic as Ali vs. Frazier. At least Frazier took one from Ali. Dylan didn't stand a chance against Greg-Santa (horrifying!) or Callahan-Santa (new rule: anyone in a Santa suit must be over 30). So this year we strode into the holiday season carefully. Would there be tears? Fisticuffs? Arrests?

Dylan got an early dose of Santa at the Holiday Faire a few weeks ago. I had to admit, this was the best Santa I'd ever seen. He was the real deal and Dylan appreciated the effort this guy made to authenticate himself. She sat on his lap, with Grady, smiled, and told him she wanted a teddy-bear and a baby (of which she already has several hundred, apiece). We took lots of photos and high-fived: the Santa curse was over.

And then came Callahan. This year Santa was, at least, old enough to drive himself there. He was also big (check), jolly (check), and had a real white beard (check). But despite the promise of a stocking filled with toys, Dylan knew something was off. Maybe it was that the beard was really just a goatee, or that Santa had shoulder-length hair, or maybe it was the way he said, "Cool," when Dylan said she wanted a baby and a turtle. Whatever it was, Dylan went back to her skeptical ways. She didn't throw any punches, but she wouldn't sit on his lap, either.

Tomorrow, Dylan gets a final holiday shot at Santa. It'll be at Eileen's and Santa, this time, is Scott. We're hoping he's convincing because Dylan's Santa-impostor radar is going to be up. I've given Scott some tips to avoid detection: make sure you ask her name, don't call her by any of her nick-names, don't wear a long-haired wig or a goatee, don't say "dude," and, most importantly, bring a spare set of keys in case you lock yourself out of your truck.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pee Time in Portland

Along the infinite expanse that is Interstate 5, there is an overpass, somewhere north of Salem, Oregon, that is the perfect pull-over-and-pee stop. By "perfect" I don't mean a sparkling bathroom at the Eugene Marriott or a hidden and clean rest-stop. I mean it's a place to pull off onto the shoulder where you only feel marginally threatened by passing semi trucks and the hobos who probably sleep there.

The thing I've learned is that I have no idea which direction Dylan's pee will go, despite the fact that I take her to the potty several times a day. I should know, by now, the general direction the urine will fly, but girls don't have the "point and shoot" aim that boys have. My best bet is to get Dylan completely naked, then let her go on her own. Otherwise, things, i.e. pants, chonies, passing pets, me, low-flying birds, get soaked. Along I-5, getting buck naked isn't a safe option. So when Regina and Dylan got back into the car (while I kept a keen eye out for roaming hobos), Dylan was no longer wearing dry leggings and Regina had a great Rorschach ink blot test stain on her khakis.

Aside from multiple food, pee, and gas stops, we made the trip to Portland in eight easy hours (it normally takes six or less). Our friends, Marty and Jen, trekked down from Seattle with their two monkeys, Jasper and Skylar. Dylan and Jasper hit it off immediately and soon they were running amok in the lobby of our hotel and getting Christmas tree ornament glitter all over their faces. Four adults + four kids doesn't really allow for the usual shenanigans that Marty and I typically get into, but we were content taking our kids to the park and setting them loose on the the fat, lazy, city geese.

We hadn't met Jasper or Skylar yet, so it was fun to see them in person. Our kids are close to the same age and were basically on the same schedules and liked the same things. Dylan loved the Christmas DVDs Jasper brought, and Jasper loved the donuts we picked up at VooDoo. Grady just loves food and being tickled and Skylar loved milk. Watching Marty be gentle with a seven-week old baby girl is a lot like watching Lenny be gentle with rabbits. Jen would hand Skylar to Marty, he'd cradle her in his arms, usually knocking her head against his shoulder, she'd cry, and I would give Regina the, "See, I'm not the only one who does that" look.

One afternoon, while the kids napped, Marty and I decided to stroll around. He was looking for a specific store, so before we left, he asked the girl at the front desk if she knew where it was. "5th and Cooch," she told him. "Did you say, 'Cooch'?" he asked. She confirmed the address and we started walking, excited to find a street named Cooch. We were a little disappointed when we found the store, right on the corner of 5th and Couch.

Our Cooch adventure, the kids, and watching a fat man steal catsup from the breakfast bar gave us plenty of great things to laugh about. It's a good feeling when you have friends with kids who are the same age as your kids. It gives you a little hope that you'll still be able to hang with your old buddies and your kids will grow up at least knowing each other.

Sunday rolled around, Portland had an E. coli outbreak, and we had to go home. We made great time, despite the post-Thanksgiving traffic and fog. And when Dylan told us she had to go pee, I knew the perfect place on I-5 to pull over and watch as she soaked her leggings, chonies, and shoes.