It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Yes, I realize it's April, and that Christmas is in December, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the playoffs. Multiple OTs, higher intensity play by all four lines (and even some questionable plays made by back up goalies on a certain team from Calgary): There's nothing quite like it.
Of course, since the Caps aren't playing (well, not playing hockey, that is, I'm sure they have their pick of tee times), I'm free to root for teams I normally wouldn't support.
Tonight's tilt comprises the Detroit vs. Calgary (the Red Wings are leading the series 3-2). So far, the team scoring first has won each game. We'll see if that continues tonight; Calgary just scored the first goal of the game. I won't mind if the Flames win tonight, as long as the Red Wings win the series. I'd love to see them play Buffalo (or Ottawa) in the finals (but, as I say every year, as long as the series are exciting, it doesn't much matter). Watching the playoffs on Tivo is even better. I'm able to start the game a little late and then catch up over the course of the game. Intermission isn't anywhere near the 20 minutes it is at the arena. Ah, the beauty of Tivo.
But that's what's going on this evening. Let's go back to this morning and catch up.
M and N were up late last night taking advantage of Britany babysitting. When we got home from bowling, N was still up and M had yet to fall into deep sleep. N woke up about normal time, but M didn't get up until about 930a. Since D was meeting Sheri and Janene for brunch, I decided we'd (M, N and I) would go for a bike ride. Down to Walney Pond. No, down the trail the other way to the Parkway. No, scratch that one, too: We would go to Burke Lake. After loading our bikes on the van (which was a pain as the bike rack didn't fit the van as it does a regular car -- the top straps had to be jerry-rigged to the roof rack vs. the top of the rear door) and loading snacks and drinks in the backpack (as well as M loading her backpack with snacks and drinks of her own), we made our way (gingerly, so as the bikes wouldn't fall off the rack) to Burke Lake. Upon arriving, we unloaded and mounted our bikes, only to stop every 20 yards or so to investigate something or another. After about a mile or so of this, we finally got going. It went much better than I expected, although some of the hills gave both M and N fits, forcing them off their bikes and walking up the hill.
During one of our stops, we saw a heron eating a frog for breakfast (brunch? lunch?). At another, we saw ants dragging away a rolypoly for a future meal (or so I would think). Later on, we saw people feeding Canada geese, completely oblivious to the sign right in front of them requesting that they please not feed the waterfowl. Oh, I get it, it's okay as long as you're doing it for the opportunity of getting a pic of your 3 year old daughter getting molested by half-dozen Canada geese because she's got a bag of popcorn and they want it. That makes it alright...I guess.
What I most enjoyed about the ride was the opportunity to teach them how to ride in a public environment. There were runners and bikers and walkers (and dogs) galore. Before heading out (as well as throughout the ride), I stressed the importance of riding in a courteous manner (e.g., keeping to the right, announcing when you pass, riding single file, etc.). For the most part, they both understood (or at least did as I asked them too), although it irked me when others on the trail didn't do the same, especially the kid on his bike passing us w/o announcing while we wee in the middle of two-way traffic. I gave him a verbal dose of what-for, but it probably fell on deaf ears; I noticed white wires coming from underneath his helmet as he rode away indicating that he probably wasn't deaf, but he definitely wasn't hearing what I had to say.
After (finally!) arriving back at the parking lot, we dropped off our backpacks and made our way over to the playground. N talked me into getting an ice cream cone for the three of us by agreeing to sample a fig newton. Yes, we have to bribe him to eat cookies (although in his defense, I didn't care all that much for them as a kid either). This was but another stop on the road to getting him to expand his palate. I got a race track set for him last summer in Illinois and was planning on giving it to him for Christmas. Christmas came and went and I completely forgot about it. Now that we've made progress in other areas (e.g., losing the training wheels, getting rid of his bed guard), I thought now would be a great time to make progress on the food front (although both the training wheels and the bed guard were his doing, so maybe we'll have to wait for his palate to expand on his schedule). So, I told him I'd give him his mystery gift once he started eating his fruits and vegetables. So what did he do? He negotiated with me to give him hints whenever he tried something new. So far, he's tried chocolate covered almonds (it's got wheels), honey nut cheerios (it's on a track) and this afternoon, fig newtons (no hint, he got an ice cream cone instead). This evening, we had canned peaches (from Illinois, not from Del Monte) for dinner. As always, I gave him a small piece and holy hell broke loose (the "as always" referred to both giving him a small piece as well as holy hell breaking loose).
Anyway, we were at Burke Lake, weren't we? Yes, sampling a fig newton in exchange for an ice cream cone. After licking our way to the bottom of our cones (and me helping N with getting his cone from melting all over his hand because he wasn't licking it fast enough), both N and M played on the play set for about 15 minutes while I sat back and watched the world go by.
On the way back home, I decided to go home via Clifton Road. It's not as short a route as 123 to the Parkway, but it's designated a Virginia Scenic Byway, which is much better than the regular way. Plus the houses back there are pretty impressive (which distracted the kids enough so that they weren't grousing about how long it was taking to get home). It's not often that I get in a Sunday drive (literally in this case) with the kids in the car; I'm glad they were busy looking at the scenery (and M didn't ask once about watching a DVD!).
We made it back home just in time to finish lunch (leftover pizza for them, a pork chop and egg noodles for me) before D got back from brunch. After a quick change, I went out and finished up the deck. I was able to finish the rest of the deck and the chairs just in time for the power washer to run out of gas.