February 24, 2012


So last week, we were asked to take a work trip to North Dakota. Actually, I was asked - but I asked if my husband could come with. We sort of don't operate well apart, drawing strength from each other every day. I didn't want to drive alone and leave him home with the kids anyway. So we made a family trip out of it.

It was not a vacation. But it was a BREAK. It was awesome.

We left Thursday night, driving to Fargo to stay. Fargo is lovely; we will go back. Mabel was asleep with her eyes open within 10 minutes of leaving our garage.

We spent the night and slept. SLEPT. This was momentous because Husband's job has become much for intense recently. We needed this break, this pause in our lives so, so much. On Friday morning we woke to drive into Bismarck for work. We kept busy in our usual ways.

There were funny faces and there was singing. Wanna see?

What you aren't seeing is that Bryon was a dancing FOOL beside me, but only when I turned the camera away from him. He's sort of camera shy sometimes. He allows me to have the platform. You know, the Platform of Attention. I love that platform; I cannot lie.  Nevertheless, I give to you a moment of our personal lives, which sadly does include my husband flipping me off. Don't worry, I  made him pay for it later.

The chair dancing was so exhausting that Mabel fell asleep again with her eyeballs still open.  Again. Blech.

Little details that I want to remember...

Bismarck was lovely. Usually this time of year, it's covered in FEET of snow. Because we are so far below the usual snow amounts for the year (topping 30" usually), the state capital of North Dakota was unusually green. Green and brown. Right.

Bismarck is remarkably quaint in the sweetest way. The signage is all old-school. Small businesses capture every corner, and everything is tidy and bright. I just loved it. We stopped for gas at an adorable little local gas station.

Where Helga came in from her ice fishing shanty to fill up with gas. In her trunk. If you had seen this darling old woman, you would have smiled at her stocking cap AND furry hat stack, her fairisle sweater, and 13 layers of shirts beneath that red parka. Her smile was so genuine.  She IS NDAK. She's strong stock. She's, well, she could kill a moose with her bare hands and go home and cook it on her gas stove. I love that endurance, that strength, oh my. I really, really do. She made me smile.

After our work business was complete, we looked for a place to eat lunch and settled on the Blarney Stone Pub downtown. They had a traditional Irish setting (per the website), a full menu, and a slew of Irish beers on tap. Being a beer afficionado, Bryon was literally salivating when we walked in the door.

Unfortunately, the manager of this location was on us like white on rice when we walked in the door. He informed us that, despite no rules of this published on their extensive website, they do not allow children in the pub. Yes, even though they have a full menu. "No kids allowed, Ma'am." Fine.

We continued walking through downtown, me quipping on and on about the darling shops everywhere. They had like, a million vintage stores! Oh I cannot wait to go back and rifle through them!

We finally reached another restaurant that appeared more family-friendly.

When we walked into the second place with the peacock blue walls, I headed straight over to the hostess in the corner to make sure we weren't violating any NDAK laws by accident. I asked if children could eat in their establishment.

"Yes," she said, with a glazed and snooty look on her face. "So long as they stay on the carpet."

Tsk tsk. REALLY?!  If we hadn't been starving, we would have walked out of the second place with our pack of animals. I mean, my goodness.

Despite the rough start, we settled at a round table in the corner with delicious brie and fruit, and nachos for those animals. Husband found an Irish beer after all. Just one. Driving and all.

I loved the decor. Especially the ginormous chalkboard.

We were there for hours. Mabel colored and looked like a pretty pink princess. She was well rested after all.

Andrew looked like a thug in his stocking cap, which I am fairly certain might be growing attached to his scalp at this point. He has to be reminded to let his hair dry before putting it back on after his shower!

Trevor did not cooperate for photography while in Bismarck. No shot of him. Or me either, actually. I was too busy being on a mini break.

After lots more hours of walking, walking, walking (and sweating, sweating, sweating because it was almost 50 degrees there), we got back into the truck to head back to Fargo.

I was reminded of that knee again. Same knee, same holey jeans that he wore to my house that first morning when he met the kids. LOVE IT.

Saturday morning brought plans to go home and one last stop for pancakes. Mabel colored herself silly once more, and slurped down orange juice.

And then she promptly fell back asleep not 10 minutes after we left. I am the only one who sees a pattern here?

I also noticed one little detail when I snapped this last picture... see her left hand there? When she was a wee baby, she would fall asleep with her thumb tucked in between her fingers just like this... seeing her do it again reminded me that she won't be a baby much longer. She really isn't even now. Lawsie. I need to go cry.

Good weekend. Good mini break.

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