Vacation Wrap Up

Random observations from our trip to the Bay Area:

I’m sure it doesn’t have the same effect on his parents (especially after being up several times in the night feeding him and such), but when you see your 7 month-old nephew George come down the stairs in his mom’s arms and when he smiles very big at the sight of you, well, that’s pretty great. Even when his first move is to try to grab your glasses, which you easily dodge, but then the other hand grabs your hair.

When your 2-year-old niece says, “Uncle Brent, help!” Well, there’s not much more going on important on this earth than finding rocks while digging in the dirt. Or getting in the makeshift house done-up with fabric draped over chairs. Or “painting” on the AquaDoodle. Or picking lemons off the tree in the backyard. Or helping her back up her “bike.” Or watching Dora the Explorer. Or reading the book.

Kid toys have gotten significantly cooler and more awesome over the years. So have the other accoutrements such as strollers, diaper bags, car seats, etc.

The Higher-Order Life-Liver Sister Jilly (who claimed that she needs a new nickname now that she can’t even get out to see a movie in her current station in life) still does the little things with excellence. Even with everything going on involving feeding schedules and such, there are still fresh flowers on the dinner table…not to mention a home-cooked meal AROUND that very table every night. Nice wines enhancing said dinner. Nice mix of Southern Hospitality and West-Coast Sensibility. The Thanksgiving spread was especially noteworthy. She may not see the latest films, but in my way of thinking, if you start sentences with, “Life’s too short not to use the fine china…” well, you’re still Higher-Order.

The Barnstorming Brother-in-Law Shane introduced us to his family’s holiday dinner tradition (I’m not sure precisely how long it’s been going on): Scratch-off lottery tickets after the dessert! Shane was muttering to himself just before dinner started, “Where did I put them? Here? No. Oh, yeah. Here they are.” Then there were tickets at every place setting. After dinner everybody updated each other on winnings and losings. Total outlay for the tickets: $20. Total winnings: $20, plus a free ticket. Not too shabby this year, although he did mention that might be the best year thus far.

Dignan, the Higher-Order Canine, who’s been around for a decade has had his life altered significantly in two years. He was likely the saddest to see the McKinney’s leave as now there were four dog-loving folks around to side up to and get petted. He took full advantage. We obliged. Side note: He HATES the U.P.S. guy but sleeps through the trash guys. I find this peculiar.

This is the way to do lunch: Outside, in 70 degree weather, at the Ferry Building. A burger on sourdough bread. At Taylor’s Automatic Refresher:

Got to see former occupant of the guest room a couple of hours later (he was coincidentally at the Ferry Building) with offspring Mary-Judah and Killian. Mary-Judah couldn’t have looked more like a kid should look in San Francisco. A six-year-old with dreadlocks. I loved it. Killian couldn’t have looked more natural in a big city, a four-year-old just navigating sidewalks and not a care in the world. I loved that, too. We’d gotten to see the pierced and tattooed mom Kristen a couple of days before that at the Night of Writing Dangerously (a gathering of all the writers in various cities attempting to write a novel during NaNoWriMo)…time flies on these kinds of trips and you never get to spend as much time with friends as you want…but it was good to get the time we did!

I’ve never really paid much attention to satellite radio before this trip…but the Higher-Order Barnstorming has it in their kitchen going most all day. Every time you’d walk through the kitchen you’d catch yourself saying, “Hey. Good song!” They had this feature in their cars, too. You’d catch yourself saying, “Hey. Good song!” there, too. Jilly said, “Brent, pre-programmed channel 6 is the regular 80’s station, but if that song sucks, just hit number 2. That’s the alternative 80’s station. They always have the good songs.”

Kid1 made my favorite dessert in her repertoire: The peanut-butter pie. Time/oven constraints prevented the homemade apple or it would’ve been the dessert quinella. She also finished a novel while she was there. Not even kidding. Over 50,000 words. She participated in National Novel Writer’s Month and, well, won. Jill had jokingly asked Kelsey to do something impossibly demanding and Shane laughingly said, “Sure, Jill. She’s a full time student trying to get into a good college and working on finishing her novel. Why not add that to her plate?”

Here’s how you know it’s love: Jilly asked, “Brent, promise me you’ll get Shane out of the house to go see a movie tonight. He could use a little break.” The next day, Shane says, “You know, Brent, Jill could really use a break. Make her go with you to go see a movie tonight.” Neither happened because they sleep is their highest priority at present, but the sentiment is nice.

When Liz (a.k.a. “Aunt Sucker” due to two realities: Her close relationship with Jilly, and her propensity to give in to whatever desire Jill’s nieces/children may want) notes my entire family’s ability to sing along with Blues Clues, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, etc. and asks, “How do you know all these?” Well, she’s obviously not aware of the longevity of children’s television shows, the insane amount of repetition parents endure of children’s television shows, or downright catchiness of all the songs on children’s television shows. You catch yourself singing them at random appropriate times, like Blues Clues’ “We just got a letter…wonder who it’s from” when the mailman comes.

When we left it was drizzling and foggy. I wanted to stay another day to enjoy it.

It’s very hard leaving when a two-year-old asks you to stay to watch Dora. Or a 7-month-old smiles and reaches for your wife. Or a 466-month-old tells your wife she wishes you and your wife could move closer. And it’s drizzling and foggy and your barnstorming brother-in-law starts out his day by saying he’s “going down to Monterrey to bring back a student’s plane because he can’t fly in the fog yet.”

If you do have to leave…and the higher-order life-liver upgrades your seats using miles to first-class on a 767 and the seats fully lay down to make a serious bed, well, I can vouch for the reality that does NOT suck…well, that’s the way to leave.

Even if you didn’t really want to leave.