Now that we've got the preliminaries out of the way except for preliminaries about the title I can report on my weekend. I left late on Friday aided in delay by sleep and Blogger, and got onto the Interstate about an hour and a half after I'd planned. With the further aid of Milwaukee traffic and a slow Subway staff in the middle of nowhere southern Minnesota I managed to completely miss the end of VBS, BVS to Aidan, and arrive at the Kluth campus after Tara and the boys. There I met the late, lamented Mr. Squeakers, pause for a moment of mourning [...wail...], and learned that Aidan had declared me a pachyderm parent. When Jim and Evan returned and the boys had been put to bed we had a delicious bar (marshmellow, chocolate chip, m&m, butterscotch chips, lots of butter, mmmmm) and hung out. Eventually I crawled into the bunk beneath Evan and went to sleep.
I awoke Saturday morning to Evan shaking me and chastening me for wasting the day in sleep. It was already nine o'clock. Wasn't I worried about missing the day? I wasn't but I got up anyway. Evan talked me into a game of chess. I'm not a good chess player. I've lost on three separate occasions in about three moves. I'd like to think I could have beat him since he's five but it would have been a long game of attrition. "Why would I take that pawn just so you could take my bishop," he says. I have trouble beating people who think that way. I got to spend a little more time with Aidan and Toby in the morning. Toby is walking and talking and was generally smiley while I was around. He's definitely mastered the word "Bubba". He's also good with "pease" which means he wants something and "cup-cup" which was often the answer to the inevitable follow up questions to "pease." "What do you want, Toby." Aidan calls me "Efrit" or "Elfrit" which sometimes sounds like "Alfred", hence the batman reference. Aidan tried to teach me to play the GI Joe Game which seems to involve getting the game board out of the box and making a pile of the cards that Toby isn't sucking on. Evan and Aidan also took a number of horse rides. I would sit on the couch with my legs extended on the floor. One of the them would sit on my legs and I would swing them around and try to buck them off. Usually the ride ended when I would spread my legs out from under the rider and drop him on his butt, though Evan was picking up on that trick by the time we stopped playing. It was a game I learned with the younger Schwaar children a few years ago but hadn't played in a while. With a 45 lb. kid it's a good leg workout. Jim spent the morning alternately hanging out with us and trying to concentrate on preparing his Sunday School lesson. Tara and Aidan made us tasty strombolis for lunch. After lunch Jim, Evan, and I went and saw "Cars". We enjoyed it. I thought it possibly had too many moments that were too slow or talky for little kids. Evan was pretty squirmy but he definitely seemed to enjoy it. On the ride home Jim suggested that it was made by people in their 30's or 40's who were dealing with getting older and the loss of dreams and consequences of life choices. There was also a definite lament for the loss of an older, off-the-path America. After the movie we added Aidan and went to Conrad and Mel's to pick up the horse balls set. When we finally got back to the Kluths' we played a few games of horseballs while Evan and Aidan played in the sprinkler. Tara made us tacos. After supper I played with Evan and Aidan while Jim finally got a chance to concentrate on his lesson. We played Space Ranger. You imagine yourself as a Space Ranger with a particular power. I started out with the ability to be invisible. Evan had a lazer and could get any weapon he wanted. Aidan was Buzz Lightyear. He could fly and he had a lazer. I then decided to be Zurg. I could shoot ping-pong balls out of my arms. T'poink. As it turns out Evan has an unspoken power whereby he can do anything you can do and has a special shield that automatically prevents your power from hurting him. Aidan has the unspoken power of doing everything Evan can do but less systematically. Soon they were shooting my own ping-pong balls back at me. They seemed most impressed with my ability to hock up and spit out invisible ping-pong balls that they had shot down my throat. We had fun except for when Evan turned into a goblin and scared Aidan. After the kids went to bed we visited with Jim's parents for a while and then Jim and I watched half of "Sahara" before going to bed.
Sunday morning was church and Sunday School. Then we went to visit Jim's Auntie Alice, his dad's younger sister, for her birthday barbecue. Mmm, brats (sausages not kids). We played some more horse balls and watched Alice and Roy's horses with Evan and Aidan. It was a fun overload of the Minnesota/Upper Midwest accents. If I didn't know where I was linguistically before the party I did then. It was a happy birthday. Back at the house we played on the deck and hung out. We had slightly frozen sandwiches for supper and ice cream for desert. Tara gave the boys haircuts including a mohawk for Evan and then sent them to play in the sprinkler to wash the hair off their backs. After Jim and Tara had put the boys to bed Jim and I went over to his parents house, they moved to Rochester recently, where we had cookies and bars and played ping-pong and pool. Jim won every game but I managed to push him to the limit on the ping-pong. This shows that my Tuesday night practice sessions with Luke are bearing fruit as Jim'd've crushed me when we were in college. Finally we finished watching "Sahara" and then spent a couple of hours talking church and life.
Monday morning Evan showed me his castle toys, Aidan showed me how he can bounce on a bed, and Toby smiled. I hugged Jim, Tara, and the boys, though Aidan was definitely displeased that I was going. He didn't want to hug me good by and he didn't wave until I started driving off. In homage to "Cars" I shun-piked on U.S. 14 through Winona and across Southern Wisconsin, except for a brief stretch on I-90 south of Madison. Due to construction I had to take a detour south of La Crosse and got to go through a number of pretty little valleys. 14 is marked on the map as a scenic road as it runs along the Wisconsin River Valley west of Madison But for my money I preferred Wisconsin 161 and 14 before Richland Ctr. That was a lot more scenic and pleasant than the later stretch. Eventually I got home. Monday night I went with some friends, including Yente from Trinity's 1997 production of "Fiddler on the Roof" who's been going to my church for a while now without my recognizing her, to see "Nacho Libre." It's as stupid as you can imagine a movie starring Jack Black and made by the guy that made Napoleon Dynamite could be, but it's definitely got a number of good funny bits.