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A Sweet Request From Nina

The moment between coming home from work and getting the kids into bed is an elastic one, stretched mostly by Nina and Pinta's desire to spend time with us and contracted by my need to eat before the nightly news comes on.

Usually, we are very good about getting them into bed by eight or eight thirty. Tonight it was on the later side, as my two darling daughters, having dined on my Bolognese and Halloween candy with their babysitter, talked me into feeding them more.

They wanted pasta with olive oil and Parmesan. I had some leftover spaghetti in the refrigerator. It wouldn't take long to get it ready for them. How could I deny them? I couldn't, of course, and I was rewarded.

I put their snack on the table and started to make Santa Maria some Quickly Spiced Spinach, or what Santa Maria calls Hot Robot Spinach*. I stopped for a minute to bring Nina a glass of water. Then I dashed back to the kitchen, to continue making our dinner.

From the kitchen, I heard Santa Maria, who like me is always trying to teach proper manners to our children, prompt Nina to thank me for bringing her water. She asked Nina, "what do you say now?" Nina replied without missing a beat, "Daddy, will you come join us please?"

*Hot Robot Spinach, per Santa Maria: "Remove the green core from the garlic clove (my Italian friend Ivana taught me to do this when we lived together in Madrid) then slice cross-wise and you will have little white disks that look like sprockets; add a sprinkle of chili pepper to 'power' the robot; olive oil to 'grease' the gears.  And spinach, of course, is the vegetable that gave Popeye such other-worldly strength.  Perfect for growing girls and boys and their inventors."

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