We just spent the weekend at my in-laws house. They live in rural Wisconsin, which has its upsides and its downsides. We used to go alot more often but now we only go a couple times a year. When we were visiting more often I started to despise going. There were a few reasons, one of which was sheer boredom. I have mentioned, with children I am not afforded the luxury of boredom, which is true and amplified there. After we had kids I would find myself working twice as hard taking care of the kids because they were bored. Being as it was my in-law’s house, my normal tools for keeping the girls occupied were no longer available. This made the situation even more frustrating for everyone involved.
About a year ago I decided to remedy the situation. It took me a little while to come up with a decent solution but I realized if Grandma’s house had special activities not present at home, the girls would be more likely to do the activities and have fun. One of the activities we settled on was perler beads. If you aren’t familiar, they are little plastic tubes that vary in color. You make designs on plastic grids and when you are done you use an iron to melt them together. It is kind of like lazy cross-stitch. It is fun making little key chains and magnets. Every visit I try to make at least one project to keep me busy. IT gives me something to look forward to too. If we are being honest it is easy enough to do while drinking a beer and it keeps my father-in-law from bugging me about his computer. Apparently I am to blame for Apple redesigning the look of iTunes so he can’t burn his Lake Wobegon stories to CDs anymore… um anyway. This time I made Pikachu. He’s a cute little devil. It is pretty big too. Every time I go I get a little more ambitious. I think next visit I am going to make something 3D. Maybe one of those floating question mark boxes from Super Mario Bros.
One of the things I love about rural Wisconsin is the supper club. Supper Clubs are restaurants where you can get a decent steak generally at a reasonable price. They generally have dark wood decor and possibly a framed cross-stitch or deer head on the wall. Milwaukee has a few “Supper Clubs” but with the exception of one, all have been disappointing. It seems like Milwaukee Supper Clubs try too hard. They try to fancy things up too much. The one by my in-laws is perfect. You have to order your steak, or Prime Rib less done than normal but if you order right, it is amazing. I like to enjoy a nice bourbon from time to time, this last visit I went to the bar and the pour was so generous I was worried about driving home. It is a good thing my mother-in-law is a teetotaler. The portions are always generous and the food is amazing. The prices make me double check the bill because I always think they missed someone. When the bill is less we are able to be even more generous with our tip which keeps everyone happy.
Going to my in-laws house definitely has its downsides but being able to appreciate the truly wonderful things are what make our trips nice. It is nice to get away from our normal lives for a weekend and appreciate things that we can only experience there. It helps me appreciate all that I have and it gives me something to look forward to when we do decide to make the trip. I know the trip isn’t for me. I think that is strongly implied by the “in-law” label, and sometimes I still struggle with that, but figuring out the unique and wonderful things in every situation makes it better for all of us and sometimes that is what being a good partner or parent is. Hell, that’s kind of what being a decent person is.