Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What's Winter Break Without Smores?

Some lessons in life just have to be learned first-hand.  Like this one: It is never a good idea to use your gas stove top to toast marshmallows.

I know, it makes so much sense when you see it on paper.  But when the request comes out of the mouth of a five-year old -- “Can we toast marshmallows on the stove?” -- it sounds so darn cute and safe, how could anyone resist.

I think this requires a backstory.  So, here goes.

When I forcibly moved my wife from Washington, D.C., to Upstate New York eight years ago to be closer to my family, she agreed upon two conditions.   First, she wanted a new kitchen in the house we chose to buy.  Second, she made me swear that each winter we would take a trip to some place warm.  Florida, possibly. 

Eight years in, I am batting .500.  Wait … that math is wrong.  Yes, we got a new kitchen.  But, in those 8 years we have never been to Florida during the depths of winter.  That means I am really batting 1 for 9, or a lowly .111.

And each February break, my beloved wife reminds me of my winter vacation futility with the simple phrase: “You promised.”

In my defense, the mid-winter trip has yet to happen for good reason.  For the first few years, work just didn’t allow it.  There were also a few pregnant years thrown in, too.  And then, well, we ran out of money.  Now, I mean, who really wants to go on vacation with four screaming kids anyway.

Let’s just say, it just hasn’t worked out like we planned. 

Not our best parenting moment, but a memorable one
And thus, we have spent each February break since we moved to Upstate New York at our home, with our children, counting the days.

This year, to make things more bearable, we decided to liven up our annual staycation with a bit of hijinks.  We decided to pitch a tent in the living room and spend the night under the … well, under the living room ceiling.  And so we did. 

The kids loved it.  They loved it even more than the few times we’ve actually been camping.

It was all fine and good until someone came up with the bright idea of toasting marshmallows on the gas stove.  I mean, nobody got burned.  So, in that sense, it was a success. 

But we had several instances where the fire extinguisher’s trigger was mere seconds from being pulled. Then there were the bits of smoldering, dripping, black marshmallow all over the stove.  And let’s not forget that the final toasted marshmallow creations tasted, in a word, like “gas.”

The consensus is that next February, once the tent is set up, we’ll have to make a small fire in the living room … or we could just go to Florida.

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