Still on a high from the great time we had in San Antonio, Sunday night I suggested we each pick a country to learn about on one of the days of Spring Break. Charlie chose Mexico for Monday, then he and Wes together came up with Ancient Rome for Tuesday. I made things much harder for myself by asking them if they meant "Rome, the city in Italy" (i.e. let's play soccer and eat pizza!) or if they meant "Rome the ANCIENT EMPIRE!!" You can imagine which one peaked their interest more. Wednesday was to be Spain (tapas!), James chose India for Thursday (he may have had some help, I do love Indian food), and for Friday, Ryan chose Germany, because we will be driving through a town with a great German restaurant that day.
Monday, the first day of Project Fun and Enriching Childhood Activities I came down with James's GI virus, which was not, as it turns out, caused by post-nasal drip. Needless to say, we had the traditional Mexican meal of chicken broth sipped very slowly out of a mug with a side of dry toast. Kind of a letdown after the huge platter of enchiladas I had planned. Onward!
Tuesday started out well enough with a calm, happy trip to the library to check out books on Ancient Rome. Could we have used the internet? Of course. But it seemed more fun to cajole three unwilling children into pants and shoes and into the car. We found lots of great books there and enjoyed ourselves and ultimately I was glad we had gone. But similar to Ancient Rome, the real trouble started once we got into the car to drive to the fancy grocery store to eat lunch and buy Roman provisions. The complaining and bickering almost made me turn around several times, but I kept going because only one kid was causing the problem and I knew he would probably perk up if I gave him food. We pressed on.
Lunch was nice and shopping uneventful and then we spent thirty minutes on the playground and THEN, the kiss of death, James fell asleep in the car twenty-five minutes from home. Twenty-five minutes is outside the "transfer window" of five to twenty minutes. This meant I had to shave five minutes off my travel time if there was any hope of him taking a real nap. I would have done better to just drive around the city for the next hour and a half because I did NOT make it and he did NOT nap. Instead, he antagonized his brothers for the rest of the afternoon. Biting! Poking! Scratching! Screaming! SO FUN!
But this was Rome Day, dammit, and I'd already bought a huge thing of hummus, so we were doing this whether or not anyone enjoyed it. Naturally, since everyone was fighting with each other, I dressed them in togas and sent them into the yard with swords.
This was fun, for a little while. Especially for my neighbors.
And then, predictably, things began to get out of control.
I stood by helplessly reminding them of our agreement. "NOTHING ABOVE THE SHOULDERS! NOT THE FACE! STOP THAT!"
Things were tense for a while, but then Ryan came home and they were eager to put their togas back on for our Roman dinner of homemade flatbread, hummmus, tabouleh, cheese, and fruit. With some trepidation, I returned their swords for the picture.
It was very very good when they went to bed. Daylight Saving Time makes for some crabby Romans.
Spain day proved much more relaxing and we had a friend join us, my sister came by with my niece to show us pictures of my sister's semester in Spain. The kids happily made soccer jerseys with fabric markers and then played soccer in the yard. My sister and I drank mango iced tea on the porch. The way spring "break" should be.
Later, because I could not interest the children in paging through a book of Dali's works (did not even try), we tied on red sashes and chased each other with a cardboard bull.
My sister suggested, for authenticity's sake, that we pelt them with tomatoes as they ran. I did have some overripe bell peppers, but ultimately decided against it since I didn't want my neighbors to think I'd been day drinking. And their jerseys came out really cute.
You should really get your own cardboard bull. I plan to keep ours forever and get it out whenever we need to burn off some energy. Or possibly to use when I need to sneak upstairs and scare some little kids back into their beds after lights out. It was the best game of tag EVER. And it lasted for hours.
Dinner was tasty, but kind of a bust. I made paella that somehow morphed into jambalaya because I can't keep my hands off the chili powder and didn't feel like buying "mussels, squid, and shrimp", so I substituted a little extra sausage and some white beans, which it turns out was exactly what the Cajuns were thinking when they invented jambalaya. I made flan for dessert, which was delicious but came out of the oven with a real live beating heart and a molten core. It was so fascinating to watch it breathe and hiss and pop that I made a video of it to show Ryan (I will spare you, but imagine that picture down there combined with Yellowstone and you'll get the idea).
Appetizing! Fortunately you flip it over before serving.
India tomorrow means we learn how to play cricket and eat take-out for dinner.