One of the most generous Microsoft benefits is paternity/maternity leave: 4 fully-paid weeks for fathers and 8 weeks for mothers. After the recent birth of our first child, we spent the first 2 weeks of my paternity leave in Hawaii.

When we returned to Seattle, I got to spend 2 wonderful weeks home alone with my daughter, Kiera. I enjoy spending time with her as much as anything in life and fortunately, she shares my disinclination to stay in one place for any longer than two hours. To prevent cabin fever, we took daily field trips to places like Snoqualmie Falls, the movies (bless you Loews Entertainment, for ReelMoms), the Christmas tree farm, the mall, the Space Needle (pictured below), downtown Seattle, and countless car dealerships we passed en route. We test drove nearly every sport sedan that we can almost afford in the class, excluding the BMW 530ix due to the befuddling absence of customer service and bewilding lack of coffee at the BMW dealership ($1.50 for a latte, quarters only??? Get a clue.) 

Our Honda Civic coupe, albeit the 2nd best car I've ever owned after an Acura Integra, just isn't big enough for Kiera and more than one of her parents. Based on value and performance, the clear winners in our test drives were the Infiniti G35x (jaw-dropping torque, well-balanced, AWD oneness with the road, but not too fit or finished except for the radio-remote entry and ignition) and the Acura TL (seamless acceleration, fit and finished, feature rich, nothing wasted, moon roof standard, ample everything including an unfortunate bit of FWD oversteer). Kiera liked the TL more than the G35x but she may be biased by a dad for whom Honda/Acura has developed loyalty beyond reason. So when do we buy?  I think we might wait two years until Acura introduces an AWD version of the TL.

After test driving a car one day, I took Kiera to the Space Needle for dessert. Is it a bad sign that my daughter loves fast cars and fast elevators? If I don't already need it, I think I might need to get a therapist in thirteen years, or so.