MINT

Clare Durst: “Now that I pay my bills on-line exclusively, pay for on-line purchases with a credit card and on-site purchases with a debit card almost exclusively, I don’t need a full-blown Quicken-type product any more. So I’ve signed up with mint, which Quicken has bought and somewhat revamped. I can see all my balances, categorize expenditures . . . and in theory do budgets (at my age, if I don’t know how to spend money without a written-out budget, fuggedaboutit!) . . . right on my computer or on my iTouch or iPad. I cannot write checks from there; it’s fully just a mirror. But I find it very useful for a quick look, and to make sure stuff gets categorized as deductible immediately.”

EASTER

I know; this is like writing about Tax Day in May – the moment has passed. (Don’t forget to send in your first estimated tax payment by Thursday, if you need to file one; and whatever taxes you owe for 2009, or the amount due according to the instructions for filing on extension.)

And I will admit, Easter is not entirely my thing.

Then again, even the White House is late with Easter – they do it on Monday.

“The White House egg roll” was just something I knew they did every year that sounded only marginally interesting – if you were five. I mean, really? Who cares?

And then yesterday, I got this eggwitness account – complete with photos! – and found myself, by the end, grinning from ear to ear. My friends David and Joe had taken their three kids to Washington for the weekend to give it a shot. David writes:

On Saturday we went on a double-decker bus tour. We were on the top which gave the kids a great view of everything. When we went by the White House the kids got all excited and in loud voices exclaimed, “That’s where the President lives . . . can we go in now?” This discussion lasted several minutes. Joe and I expressed the need for patience and Monday, April 5 would be here in no time. I don’t think they fully accepted our explanation. In fact they didn’t!

When the big day arrived, the kids woke up and asked if we could go to the White House immediately after breakfast. Thank God the hotel has a wonderful outdoor pool. We got to the designated entry point and arrived at 1:10pm. Entrance scheduled for 1:45pm. The line ahead of us seemed to go on forever – until we looked behind us after waiting 20 minutes and couldn’t see the end. (They had given out 30,000 tickets to this, mostly by lottery over the Internet, but divide them up into six different time slots throughout the day.)

I held the kids up one by one to see this. Wow dad they’ll never get in. It took about 50 minutes to get to the security clearance but remember it was hot (86*F) and sunny in DC that day. The kids were dressed smartly but in play appropriate clothes and ready for a hot day…they still wanted to take them off. We see the WH South Fountain. Can we please go swimming? No, it’s for viewing only. Why? It has water. Can you ask the President? It’s his house!

Going through security . . . daddy/papa: “Why? This isn’t an airport.” Joe and I emphasize safety. Didn’t want to introduce the idea of nuts, extremists or terrorists. They’re still young and plenty of time for that. After all this is the WH! Another line to get to the ticket takers area. Another line . . . why? We have to give them our tickets…we’ll be through in no time.

WH easter egg roll yellow bags given out (guide, schedule, event program, map and large beautiful, souvenir ticket) and wrist bands for kids only. All of a sudden the three of them come alive. They have concrete evidence that things are happening. We are now through the WH gates and the kids are thrilled. Can we go inside and see the President? My twin girls, nearly 5, asked for Michelle, Malia and Sasha. Not Jason, who is 7 . . . only the President. It’s definitely a guy/guy thing and a girl/girl thing! Trust me on this one.

We go over the endless list of things to do with the kids. Ali/Isa want face painting and Jason wants football. Joe takes the girls and I take Jason. There were really no lines or at the most very short waits for everything. Once inside the WH grounds the crowd spreads out and there’s plenty of room. We get to the football area and Jason goes out for a pass… Thrown by Matt Lawrence/Baltimore Ravens (who gave Jason an NFL wrist band) . . . he catches it and has that look of I’m going pro! He continues with more. The NFL players were superb! We then head to the WH basketball court (down a mysterious narrow path through thick trees) which Jason loved and doesn’t want to take one shot . . . he wants to play one on one. Not happening. He did play for over 15 minutes . . . shot after shot after shot . . . finally they ask him if there’s anything else he’d like to do. He answered sure. Well handled by the WH people.

We head over to meet Joe and the twins at the “Hop To It” sign above the South Fountain. As soon as they see me: daddy, daddy do you like my face? I love your faces . . . I can’t believe how beautiful my daughters are. They did look gorgeous but I am a little biased. The kids are now in full gear.

Uh oh . . . there’s trouble ahead . . . Sponge Bob in the flesh . . . walking, talking and greeting the children. One must know that Sponge Bob is banned in our house, images or on tv. Our three kids all want to know why . . . if he’s at the WH why can’t he be at our house. I tell them I’ll send the President an email and ask him what’s going on? A diversion is in order!!! I ask who wants to go to the egg roll? All three yell, I do . . . off we go. There is a short line and anywhere from 6-12 kids race at a time. The course is set up in lanes just below the portico of the WH. Where’s the President? Is he coming out / why not? Can we ask? Please dad . . . I explain to them (Jason understood) that he was throwing out the first ball at the Washington Nationals game at 3pm. Didn’t work with the girls but by now they’re all lined up for the egg roll race. It’s a hardboiled egg, colored, and you roll it down your lane from the start line to the finish line with a spoon. My three kids are all in the same race competing against each other. Jason is a real athlete and can’t wait to beat his sisters and the other kids. Ready, set, go! Jason goes to make his first move and steps on the egg . . . splat!!! He looks devastated. I immediately get him into the next race in which he is far more careful and wins. The girls have a ball laughing through the whole roll. It was great fun to watch them and as parents we couldn’t resist cheering them on.

There is a line to have your picture with Dora the Explorer but Ali and Isa have no interest in that. They just want to meet her so they proceed directly to Dora to say hello and tell Dora their names and begin to chat. I immediately whisk them away explaining if you want to talk to Dora you need to wait in line. They say thanks dad but they already met her. My strong-willed girls. I can’t believe they’re only 4, turning 5 on May 4! Will Eleanor Roosevelt be their role model? You never know.

The kids were so fortunate to do so many more things . . . tennis, egg dyeing, hearing/seeing the cast of Glee (they had no idea who they were but neither did Joe and I until someone told us) and more.

The time goes by quickly – two hours there at the WH – but I assure you it’s enough time at the event. It’s now time to make our way to the exit off the south lawn on to the ellipse to get our painted commemorative wooden eggs. We leisurely strolled out with three very happy but tired kids. Alessandra and Isabelle chose pink eggs and Jason chose a green egg. No surprise here!

I left feeling proud not only of my family: Joe, Jason, Alessandra and Isabelle but my country as well.

The kids finished writing their thank you notes to the President and First Lady this weekend.

 

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