On the second day of vacation we brought out the sled and pulled The Girl in a circle that wound above the firepit and down a decent distance from the property line. There were plenty of "weeee"-noises and smiles that turned her cheeks into matching pink balloons.
It had been Pa Pista's idea, but when he got to the backyard with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle saucer and an attached rope, The Girl was already done sledding. I stuffed her into my lap anyway and he pulled us down a small incline. Then we did it again. By then she was plenty peeved so we quit trying to force her to have some damn fun once in a while.
Back inside the house, Ma Pista made some Luke Warm Chocolate using powder and a mix of Whole and Skim milks. The Girl refused it, probably because we were calling it Hot Chocolate and an incident from earlier in the day involving the word "hot" and a maternal failure in the face of a kitchen sink was still fresh.
I took advantage of naptime to sneak into a storage area that is filled with cardboard boxes labeled with a Sharpie. Things like "Christa's Notebooks."
None of this can be good. It's just stacks of pre-pubescent words written by a major fan of hair band ballads, Lifetime and YA romance. I find a report card with a note from my eighth grade teacher indicating that I seem to prefer writing about fanciful things more than, say, research papers. Makes sense to me. I find a bulging envelope labeled Notes and inside find a hand-drawn picture of an AK47. I know instantly that it was drawn by my seventh-grade boyfriend and I can only assume that I found it to be incredibly romantic at the time. I don't dig any deeper than that. I'm starting to get embarrassed for pre-teen me.
There is, literally, a bound book with a kitten on the cover. Inside are hand-written love poems, complete with a decoder so that I would forever remember who they were written for.
We go to pizza at one of my favorite joints and The Girl is, as they say, raging. She's standing in the booth, one fidgety foot from climbing on to the table. When the server mistakes her for a boy, The Girl leans on the table, looks her square in the eye and grins so big her eyes disappear into half-moons forever setting the server straight.
"Oh yes. Now that I see your face, I can tell you're a girl," she says.
A young, well-behaved boy in a high chair watches her over his shoulder.
On the way home, The Girl is sandwiched between Ma and Pa Pista in the backseat. The trio goes between "Twinkle Twinkle" and "The Alphabet Song," singing and re-singing, over and over, in three different octaves so that they sound like a miniature barbershop quartet.
"These people are just riding on Paul McCartney's coat tails." -- Ma Pista, 2015 Grammy Awards.
We leave on Monday morning, the third day of vacation, and somewhere near Zumbrota decide that we should take The Girl to the Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America. But first we eat at a Mexican restaurant that overlooks the mall's central Nickelodean-themed amusement park. Luckily, The Girl doesn't recognize the rides as Things a Thrill Seeker Could Go On To Be Entertained.
She says "Up and Down" many, many times in a row, though.
The aquarium. Is. Awesome.
First there are jellyfish, glowing in front of neon backlights. Then we walk through a dark tunnel beneath schools of fish, giant turtles, stingrays, sharks.
"Oh. Gosh!" she says every time we see the underbelly of a massive sea creature pass over our head.
Chuck and I watch "The Interview" and try this extra-great-super-fantastic drink. The Bobby Boucher has bourbon, cherry heering, sweet vermouth and Benedictine and it just might become my go-to drink.