Friday, March 18, 2011

Best Cousins

"Bring a Friend Night"

I can speak from firsthand experience when it comes to having relatives double as friends. My cousins Joel and Nick are only 1 and 2 years younger than I am respectively. They're only 10 months apart themselves but that's a topic for one of their blogs or memoirs.) So, our proximity in age and in geography, and the fact that they've always been a blast to be around, has created great friendships. So, looking at the whole cousin-as-friend relationship from my perspective as a dad and uncle makes it all the more special. You see, my Abber Dabbers and her cousin Kaylin are separated in age by 1 year, a year that means almost nothing. Since the time Abby's been able to speak in sentences, she and Kaylin have referred to themselves as "best cousins." I know that's because Abby's best friend is Ella and I don't think she could conceive of a way to have two best friends, even though that's exactly what Kaylin is. Thus, they created "best cousins" for me. I know the other adults in my family is so damnin' cute to see the two of them play together. As soon as either one arrives at the other's house or they collide at Grandma and Grandpa's, the energy level spikes. Kaylin provides the spark and Abby: the lighter fluid. It is truly electric when these two are together. They have so much in common in their little girl world and are also different enough that their mojo flows perfectly. It's wicked cute to see them dissappear into "Cinderella's Castle", or down into "The Bayou" with Tiana and company. Some days it's playing house or riding the bus, wherever their imaginations take's a joy to watch them go wholeheartedly. Don't get me totally wrong here either, the fact that they play this well together means would be in-charge grown-ups get a bit of a break. They are really each other's best babysitter. So let me say this to you Dabbers and Peanut, indeed, you two have something very unique...a real treasure. Incidentally, should one throw little miss Konrad into the cocktail, it will soon become a Molotov. That or a flaming sofa outside a college party, but chaotic. I know, that's a strange yet familiar analogy.

This brings us to the following tale. Being the natural performer and spotlight lover she is, it was not a surprise to us when we learned Kaylin was going to be taking dance lessons. Whether she knew it or not, dance lessons would just be more ammo for her arsenal of performance material. Make no mistake, our Peanut loves the proverbial stage, a Rachel Berry in the making (yeah, that's a Glee reference, what can I say? I like me some Glee). She had been doing the dance lesson ditty for a few weeks when we got the call. Little did we know that her dance studio had come up with the single greatest marketing campaign of all time...

In one of the cutest voice messages I've ever heard, we listened to Kaylin extend an inviation to Abby to join her for one of her dance classes. It was "bring a friend night" and even though they're cousins, I guess they finally agreed that cousin and amigo es posible. So Abbers donned her gymnastics leotard, along with some other accessories Anna insisted upon, and we took her to dance class for a night. Well, that night has turned into many. No..."bring a friend night" wasn't simply an excersize in was more like a sting operation. "And I didn't even see it comin'!" (- Lloyd Christmas). Aha...I finally understood...all of the tiny ballerinas for a night could choose to keep the fairy godmother's spell unbroken, to keep it 11:59 indefinitely, so to speak. Yes, they could join the class and stay miniature ballerinas...well...forever. So simple, so was brilliant! Needless to say, dance class on Tuesdays has now been added to the laundry list of things the Dabbers and the Peanut have in common...and we truly couldn't be happier about it...of course, neither could they.

Hidden junk inside this hidden gem

Last Fall we made the decision to put our house on the market. A decision reached not without some heartache, but no time for that now. This is the second time we've had a house listed and all the joys of being "on the market" came rushing right back to us. I could fill a book with funny and annoying stories from our past few months of showings. However, one day and showing in particular stands out. It was just last weekend and we had been in Mankato celebrating Anna's Grandma LaJune's 90th birthday. From Mankato we headed out to the lake for a day of fun and relaxation with Anna's side. Well, the dreaded showing call came as we pulled in to the driveway at the lake. A showing from 5-6pm? Sure, why the hell not? We're only an hour away from home and having left in a hurry that morning, the house looked more like a frat house than a single family. The only reason we agreed to the showing is because I had to head back to the metro area early for Pitch 2 Pitch (P2P). (I've been teaching baseball clinics/practices with P2P for the past few years in my rare spare time). So, I would simply have to head home early, tidy up our abode and get out of there before 5:00...sounded simple.

I arrived home at 4:18 exactly, so I had just over 40 minutes to straighten up our entire house from top to bottom. I suppose if I was female I would have spent the hour drive home thinking of my strategy for attacking each section of the house. Well, I'm a guy...and the "wing it" concept is simply woven into our DNA. I figured my plan was effective enough, I worked from bottom up, starting on the basement, moving to the middle level and finishing on the main floor...which contains the kitchen, our bedroom, and is basically the catch-all for random things throughout the week. In other words, my chosen plan of attack wasn't exactly spot on. For the first 10 minutes I was delusional enough to think I had a chance to get it done. Then, minute by minute thereafter I realized I had about as much chance to get that mess picked up before 5:00 as the Timberwolves do to get me to come see a game this decade.

I got to the main floor with about 6 minutes to deadline. So what did that mean? No more putting stuff away where it belongs, time to hide it. The dishes from breakfast sitting next to the sink...can't put you guys in the dishwasher because, just my luck, the dishwasher is clean? I guess you get shoved under the sink and covered with a dish rag. Anna's clothes left on the floor/bed: crumpled into a ball and kicked under the bed, literally kicked...I was laying on my side and essentially horizontally stomping on her clothes. (Sidebar: what else is under there that I should have to exert that much force to get a few ensembles to fit under the box spring?) The bottom line at this point...if it had a door, something was getting hidden inside it. Avery's lucky her puppy didn't end up in the freezer. I definitely realized a couple things during this debacle.
1. Anna does a bang up job keeping our house clean and tidy all week
2. you can't replicate vacuum lines in the carpet using only a spatula

I ended up leaving the house at 5:07 thinking, "thank you, potential buyers, for being you had better show up!" As soon as I got in the car and pulled away I sent two texts. One to the Easter Bunny saying, "you've got competition" and another to Anna, knowing she'd beat me home that night, saying, "enjoy your scavenger hunt, nothing is where it's supposed to be, ha."

Can I get some of what you're smokin'?

If you've sold your home in the last few years you probably know about the showing feedback one receives after someone has viewed your home. For those who aren't familiar with this is now a common practice for the buyer's agent to fill out a short survey with the buyer's general impressions on the home they walked through. It asks the buyer to rate the floorplan, interior, exterior and price, then allows for further comments. Anywho, the survey is then sent to the listing agent and passed on to the homeowners. It's very nice info to have and certainly is appreciated. Of course, just like the real world where people move at different paces, the real estate industry is no different. One can expect to receive this showing feedback somewhere between hour after the showing and...never.

Well, for those who know my wife, it probably comes as no surprise that, to her, the e-mails containing showing feedback are like crack. I swear her sense of sound is heightened in the hours following a showing. Her ipad will make the new message ding and she's there, like white on might be feedback! Avery staggers out of her room, her diaper half buckled, and having just used Slinky Dog to repel down the side of her changing table (still not sure how she does that). Meanwhile Anna's caught up in another groupon e-mail wishing it had just been the feedback she so longingly yearns for.

Just last week I overheard her on the phone with Re/Max trying to get them to implement a new policy stating that everyone who views a home at an open house must fill out a feedback survey. I'm guessing it didn't work since I later saw the first draft of a survey she created on her own. Next thing I know I'll be forging and mounting a cookie dispenser on one of those ballot machines from our local precinct. I can see the poster now, "Fill out the survey and get a thin mint!" It wouldn't be the first time girl scout cookies are used for pure evil. Wait...umm...Abby, Avery and I have been watching too much Phineas and Ferb.

But seriously, Anna loves those feedback e-mails.

The Cakes 'n Coke

There's no way I could wait a whole lot longer without telling the tale of the one and only Davy Cakes and his friend Jack Daniels. If you've ever spent a night playing poker with the youngest Konrad, or thrown dice with him on a craps table, you know he's a Jack and Coke guy. But, on the last night of our recent Tahoe ski/gambling vacation, he took it to a whole new level. After spending about 3 hours soaking and drinking in the resort's hot tub, Joel, Willy, Brian, Tyler, Cakes and I did exactly what we shouldn't have done...head to the casino.

We wound up at the Crystal Bay Club Casino. We found our spots at the craps table and placed our drink orders with the waitress. Well, I was a few spots away from Cakes so I didn't quite catch the details of why his drink order was so confusing, but I know Cakes was forced to say a whole lot more than, "Jack and Coke please." I didn't think much of it because my Captain Coke order was simple and straightforward...and was delivered in that same manner. We went on playing and drinking for a while and of course, there were no further issues with David's drink order...because it's impossible to confuse the universal "I'll have another" hand gesture. (If you're doing it right now don't feel weird) Anyway, the craps table goes cold and we all split up. Later Willy and I find Cakes playing Blackjack and decide to hover for a bit.

It was somewhere after this point that I learned, much to my amazement, that Jack Daniels is not on the "free booze" list at Crystal Bay. At last, I knew what the confusion was earlier. Cakes was being told his favorite whiskey aint free here. What ensued is one of the reasons Cakes will go down as a legend in my book, already at the ripe young age of 29. So he says to the waitress, and I'm paraphrasing, "I don't care, I want a Jack and Coke." She retorts that she'll have to charge him for his drink and he gives her the A-OK. Of course he's thinking, "What a hole this place is!"Another anecdote that helps to illustrate this casino as the Hardees of the North Shore is fact that this same waitress continued, the entire night mind you, to call Cakes' drink a "Daniels-Coke."

In honor of March Madness let's do a game reset, sponsored by Allstate..."are you in good hands?" asks Pedro Cerrano/President David Palmer

GAME RESET: a casino chock full of middle aged men, wannabe cougar women, pinheads, meatballs, no-talent-ass-clowns, and regular joes, I guarantee Cakes was the only one paying for his drinks. So I don't know which is more amazing...that Cakes paid for beverages the entire night whilst the rest of us drank for free, that this rediculous excuse for a casino didn't host Jack Daniels-Old No. 7 whiskey, or that the Jersey-Girl waitress called them "Daniels-Cokes" all night? One thing I know for sure, the official name of a drink you pay for when 99% of the general public would now called the 'Cakes and Coke.'

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