Beetle juice

One game Wife and I used to play on vacation is Slug Bug. See a Volkswagen Beetle, yell out "Slug Bug!" We took out the violence component, and we sometimes would declare "Slug Bug!" when we weren't on vacation, but on vacation, the game was on and we kept score. This was another tradition that seemed to fade away once we had kids and once we started flying to our vacation destination instead of taking long driving trips.

With the boys older and now understanding what a Beetle looks like, we began playing Slug Bug again but not keeping score. Wife and I have been trying to funnel Beetles to Littlest, who is generally less vigilant to look for them than Eldest. But Eldest has caught on when we try to signal Littlest. We told them we wouldn't start scoring points until we were on vacation.

We are on vacation. We are keeping score.

Naturally, we're trying to let the boys get the majority of the Slug Bugs. In a couple years, we will make them full opponents, but for now, we're rigging the game somewhat. That doesn't mean Wife and I aren't competing. We went to dinner tonight while my dad took the boys to a movie, and I called on. She complained that we can't call them without the boys in the car. I said, "Hey, you just need one witness!" We agreed to only keep score when the boys are with us.

Oh, but the game is on. Wife used to win all the time, even though I think when I called "Slug Bug!" on Herbie, The Love Bug (about 10 years ago when the remake of the movie came out; it was parked outside Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood) I should have automatically won that vacation. We would get quite competitive. Today she offered tips to the boys: Look down alleys and side streets, and look in big parking lots. I added, a little bitterly, "Look while Daddy's driving and I don't can't look myself because I'm too busy trying to negotiate traffic and not crash."

Yes, the game is on and the gloves are off. The standings: Wife 5, Eldest 4, myself 3, Littlest 3. I'd be winning if we counted Beetles we saw without the boys ...

Other highlights of vacation, day 2:

-- We took the boys to the Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum near Lincoln Park. We saw a cool, live butterfly exhibit, monk parakeets, hissing cockroaches and a stuffed cougar.

-- We walked to R.J. Grunts, my mom's favorite restaurant, across from Lincoln Park. Eldest ate a giant cheeseburger off the grown-up menu.

-- After lunch, we headed to Lincoln Park Zoo. We visited the zoo last year, and mostly just walked through to get to the car (the zoo is free). We saw a seal from the comfort of the air-conditioned underwater viewing area, saw few cats in the lion house, and let the boys ride the carousel, then left. The zoo was the emptiest I'd ever seen it -- it was that warm and humid again.

-- We trudged back to the car, then drove back to my dad's house. He took the boys to see "Zookeeper," while Wife and I went to lunch and got Thai food again. We weren't sure where to go eat, because we weren't too hungry after our big lunch. After driving through Edison Park and Park Ridge, we saw a Thai restaurant and thought that would be healthier and not as heavy. With few Thai restaurants in Salt Lake City (and none by us), we can overdo it a little here in Chicago. Besides, if we visited Bangkok, we'd be getting Thai food every night.

-- The boys, who had been playing all day when we inside, played with cars and trains in the evening, as well as played an Uno-like card game, "Hit the Deck," with their grandfather and aunt. After they went to bed, I went for a muggy walk around Edgebrook and saw a big raccoon scurry into the woods next to the train tracks.

The raccoon looked too hot, too.

Click here for Day 3.


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