That's not entirely true, as I paid six dollars for the awesomeness that was the best kung fu movie of the year, viz. Kung Fu Panda. He's not a big, fat panda, he's THE big, fat panda. Anyway, Cindee, Marie, and I saw that last night and it was great. But that's not even the best of the recent awesomeness.
If you read Jim's blog, and some of you might, then you know that last week I almost gave him a heart attack by walking into his house unannounced at about 11:20 p.m. on July 3rd. There he was, minding his own business sitting in his living room wondering why his wife was just sitting there not going to bed, when he heard the back door open. Then it closed. Then there were heavy footsteps in the kitchen and no response to his queries. Apparently it's unusual for people to walk into farmhouses in the middle of the night in the middle of corn fields west of Rochester, MN, without some sort of greeting. Who knew? Anyway as his "Who's there?" sounded way more stressed than his "Hello?", and since he didn't appear rushing out to great me with open arms, I thought it best to throw in a "Hey, Jim." Cue relief, puzzlement, and the open arms bit. Meanwhile, Tara, who'd thought this up and instigated it, sans the middle of the night terror (I told her I'd be there around 10. I don't know how long it takes to get Trinity to their manor house.), held her peace. The next morning I got to surprise each of the children as they came down for breakfast. It was a fine evening and morning of surprising.
Friday we celebrated Jim's birthday and threw a shout out to the country while we were at it. We had a small party with some of his friends and relatives and a trip to Wannamingo for a parade--mostly trucks, tractors, oddities, and, especially, much candy. That night we took a family ride on the trailer, shot the bb gun, and made a fire for s'mores. The older boys got to play with sparklers and Jim and I sat out and talked. He and Evan and I also went through a catechism Jim developed as a means of teaching the Faith to his nephew. I was impressed. Saturday I went out with Friendly Jim in the morning and helped clean a gutter, cart trash to the dump, and move a washer and dryer. We had a good time and I almost did a header into a dumpster. In the afternoon I helped Jim while he cut down a dead tree in his back pasture and we cut up the wood for the winter. Evan also developed a new game of ping-pong wherein he hangs on the tire swing and Jim and I push him back and forth. That night we attempted to watch Big Fish, an interesting movie, but confusing if you keep dozing off. After church and lunch we hung out at the house and played in the yard for a while until I finally headed back to Illinois.
I always have a good time with Jim and Tara and the kids. It was fun this year to see Avery toddling about and being all smiley. She can even say, "Bubba." Of course, almost all babies can, but I was still impressed. I enjoyed when Toby told us that we should stay hydrated or we'd feel sick as we headed out to the pasture to cut down the tree. "Hydrated" is a good word for a three year old, and it is good advice. When I told him that it wasn't cool to take keys out of his daddy's van, he replied, "It's cool for me." We had fun. I enjoyed helping Aidan work on his bounce pass. At 4, he's not yet ready to shoot to the basketball but he's working at being a point guard. On Sunday afternoon while Evan was potting hostas to be sold at the farmer's market, Aidan was rubbing dirt on his hands. I asked why. "So I'll be ready when we dig the next hole." I was really touched when Evan told me having me around was like having a second daddy. It's a lot of fun just hanging out and playing with other people's kids. Especially when they're as smart and cute as Jim and Tara's kids.
It was a good trip, and I was glad to get up there. I was planning to go anyway, but I was especially glad with the way Tara's surprise worked out. It's fun being someone's birthday present.