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August 2010

Lackamalaisical

I am in an unprecedented funk. A recession. A malaise.

Nothing is specifically wrong. The children have a cold but if I slipped into the megrims every time a kid stopped breathing through both nostrils I'd never get out of bed... so that's not it. We continue to follow an austerity budget but things aren't nearly as disastrously nauseatingly bleak as they were this time last year so I doubt that financial concerns are crushing my spirit. I just.. I just feel SAD.

I cut out alcohol and caffeine and I started going to bed at ten (I still don't fall asleep until forever but, you know, I'm in there) and I have refused to watch the last disc of season one of True Blood (Aaaaiiiiiieeee! That SHOW! I had no idea I was such a delicate flower but I have spent half this series with my head under a pillow) and I have been drinking lots of water and I sat in the sun for forty minutes yesterday and... and meh. Steve - good son of psychiatry that he is - suggested that I see someone (especially with regard to what even I can acknowledge is my whackaloon anxiety when it comes to my children and The Great World: we are going to the Ffarm this weekend for the first time since it has been somewhat de-deathified and I got so worked up in anticipation of all of the things that might happen to the twins that I started communicating solely in eeps) and I nodded but in truth I don't even really know what that means. I have seen that line a million times since I first started reading Ann Landers at the age of eight (You might want to see someone about your eighty cats. If you continue to answer your wife's harmless inquiries with 'For breakfast I want to dance on your dismembered corpse. And eggs' you should see someone) and although I have always been respectful of the wisdom I have never gotten the logistics.

Is the theory that we all have some loving family counselor on speed dial? Am I supposed to go to my normal physician - the guy who told me that there was really nothing to be done with migraines and who I worry already feels like I'm that girl who spends too much time in the nurse's office - and tell him I've been feeling a little SAD lately? I am 90% certain he will tell me to cheer up.

And so I should. But I'm still in a funk.

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I took Caroline with us to speech/physical therapy last week. Generally she stays home with Steve but we had to go to the airport immediately after Patrick and Edward were done and I thought she would appreciate the car ride so she came too.

She's very different from her brothers. When Edward and Patrick are waiting at therapy they sit with me - Edward usually on my lap - and we read. Caroline wanted to be as far away from me as possible. She went and looked at the toy area and then at the book area and then she wandered over to the receptionist and said "hello" and then she scribbled on the sign in sheet and then she saw a smaller toddler.

"Oh!" she said ecstatically, "A little baby! Hello little baby!" and she patted his head like a bichon frise.

When Edward hesitated to leave us and go with his therapist Caroline put her hand into the woman's outstretched one and said, "I'll go!"

The therapist laughed and said, "I don't think you need to practice talking."

Caroline squinched up her lips and said, "We could play something else, OK?"

[Caroline's newest affectation is to end every sentence with oooookkkkkay? or you knoooooow? Very pre-pre-pre-teen]

Edward realized that Caroline was trying to muscle in on his beloved Kendra and said, "No Caroline! MINE!" and he took Caroline's hand away and inserted his own. Then they left and Caroline kind of shrugged and went back to the toy area where another mother was playing with her son.

Which... and this might be the gumps talking so forgive me if I sound cranky but... the toy area at therapy is a corner of the lobby with a knee wall and a gap to go in and out. This woman was sitting on the floor with both legs stretched out so they were completely blocking the entrance. The first few times Caroline walked over she stopped at the legs and tried to figure out what to do. I watched her and waited for the woman to move her legs but she did not. So Caroline left and then circled back again and left and circled... she really wanted those toys. Should I have said something? It was obvious that Caroline wanted to get into the toy area but maybe the woman needed a prod from another adult? I tend to hover though and I am trying - especially with Caroline who has a strong independent streak with which I do not want to interfere - to back off provided they aren't bothering anyone. I'm still not sure if I should have intervened.

Anyway Caroline eventually climbed over the woman's legs (generally I would consider this "bothering" but... the woman WAS blocking the area) and went to join the boy (six?) at the toy kitchen. He was very nice. He did not want to play with Caroline but he wasn't mean about it. He simply ignored her. So Caroline stood next to him and imitated what he did, which mostly consisted of holding things up and saying, "What is this mom?" and his mother would say, "That's spaghetti" or "That's an egg." Caroline watched them for a moment and then picked up a piece of play food and said, to the woman, "What is this mom?"

The woman answered her the first two times but the third time she said, "I'm not your mom! Your mom is over there" and waved in the general direction of three feet away, where I was sitting. 

I said, "Hi Caroline!" and Caroline looked embarrassed.

I don't even know why I am telling you this story... it has no real point but now I feel all committed to finishing it.

So then the mother decided she wanted to take pictures of the kid using her cell phone. She pulled out her phone and told the boy to smile and gestured at Caroline to move saying, "Could you move out of the way?" since she didn't want Caroline in the picture, which is fine although just in case you've forgotten this is the toy area at therapy not the Eiffel Tower or anything. Caroline stood there looking like she had no idea what the woman was talking about (because she had no idea what the woman was talking about) and then she saw the camera/phone and was, like, ohhhhhh POSE! So Caroline vamped and the woman asked her to move again and the boy, gently, gave her a nudge out of the way and I decided to intervene on behalf of the purity of the family photo. I swung into the toy area (climbing over the lady's damned legs which were still stretched across the entrance) and said "Oh I do BEG your PARDON for CLIMBING over YOU" as I did so.

I picked up Caroline and climbed BACK over the legs and Caroline was just about to kick up a fuss when I suggested we go to the bathroom. Since this involved opening doors into mysterious corridors Caroline perked up enormously and it had an automatic soap dispenser that was worth the price of admission right there.

I think the woman was rude. The end.

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When we got home I let Caroline POSE.

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Thank you very much for the movie suggestions. I think I will put them into a google document and post it on the sidebar. Unless there is a better way to organize and share something like that? A list that I create but you can update? Something? I have been meaning to do this with your book suggestions too so that they are neatly accessible for us.

Oh! Speaking of which I am looking for good preschool books for the twins. You know the kind of picture books that talk them through a typical day? I'd like to read some before they start in three weeks - Patrick wasn't remotely suggestible but they are. Any suggestions? I looked at the library but I find that the picture books section is such an unholy mess that it is impossible to find anything specific when you want it.     

We have the Curious George remake where he goes to school and I tried reading that but every time we've talked about school since then Caroline has mentioned the monkey. Maybe Spot goes to school? Although I think he's pals with a monkey there too. No monkeys.

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Patrick starts school again in two weeks and I will miss having him around. He calls Caroline and Edward his little minions and they will more or less do anything he wants them to do. He recently confessed to my mother that he loves the power.

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I think if I could compel people to wear sunglasses during lunch for my amusement I would probably do it too.

We are a little vague on whether or not he had to keep a summer journal. At times he says yes, at times he says no. Since he has not written a word - about his summer, he is on Issue 25 of Letter Comix - since June this may and/or may not be a problem for him when school starts. However, Steve and I are very clear on the fact that we are done with the third grade so the emphasis there is on for him. Last year I wanted the school transition to go well and I somehow inserted myself into the middle of his homework struggles so that he would get mad at me when Sunday night rolled around and he had X to do. Never again! That's my vow this year. I may help him organize himself but I refuse to become involved in that battle. Yes, homework sucks and, yes, I fully expect this year he will have a lot more to do and I will be happy to find him a sharpened pencil but that's it. I am writing this as a personal affirmation, by the way, because I am kind of controlling and in my secret heart I just KNOW I could do a better, more organized job if I could just do third grade all over again. Like, I would have that science fair posterboard done in November rather than faking data the night before like I always did. 

Ha! I just re-read that paragraph and remembered that Patrick has been struggling with memorizing the last thirteen multiplication problems (random ones that he blanks on - mostly from the 4s and 7s tables: he points out he doesn't like the number 7. he also dislikes the letter W) and I finally offered to pay him a dollar for each one he nails before school starts. So... you know, totally disengaging myself.

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I went in for seed packet gardening this year after I dug up a bunch of overgrown shrubs and wanted to add back in some color without spending any money or effort.

The results were mixed.

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Lush morning glory vines framing the porch entrance? Pretty!

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Riotous wildflower cottage garden? Not so much.

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Isn't that appalling? My idea was that I was going to broadcast handfuls of wildflower seeds into the front bed and it was going to morph into a charming blast of all-summer color. Instead it looks like it should be hiding a rusted 1966 Dodge Dart. Mistakes were made. I got a lot of nice advice last spring about the garden (Planting Oaks was especially helpful) and as I recall many of you told me that my underperforming irises needed to be... separated? Replanted? Since I am going to have to pull all this crap up anyway I thought I would move the irises while I am at it.

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I love Edward's tumbling auburn lock. He's very Romantic, even in fire truck pajamas. Speaking of pajamas, Caroline has outgrown her Little Keeper Sleeper 2T short-sleeved pair. Little Keeper Sleepers are designed for the stripper toddler who cannot keep her clothes - or worse her diaper - on after you put the cherub to bed. Lulu is a reader who sent me an email a few weeks ago offering to send Caroline her son's outgrown 4T pairs and this was so very kind of her that I decided to do the same. So the first person who comments or emails me that they have a child who could use Caroline's escape-proof 2Ts  (full disclosure: we had a babysitter the other night who let Caroline paint - REAL CRAFT PAINT not washable gak - in them so one of the two pairs has a slight red stain on the chest) will get them in the mail. Lemme know.


Enjoyance

Lilo & Stitch was playing without sound in the waiting room at physical therapy. It is rare that I am unable to piece together the plot of a children's movie even in the absence of dialogue but this one has utterly defeated me. What. The. Hell. Is. That. Blue. Thing?

Which reminds me... Patrick was slow (very slow. glacial, really) in his approach to movies and the fact that all non-animated movies either bored him or freaked him out was kind of annoying. It limited our family viewing to the Science channel (talk about boring... I loathe all eras. also periods, epochs and ages - even the Holocene which makes me an ingrate) or the few movies (Aladdin, Cars, Shrek, Lion King 1 1/2) that he liked.

But now that he's blooming into a tween he's enjoying more things (like all of the Harry Potter movies but only after he read the books) and I realized that I am thirty years out of date in this genre. Case in point: the first movie I thought to get for him was Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang. He was not amused. So I tried Ferris Bueller's Day Off and he was a little too amused (I didn't remember it being quite so broad in its humor) Steve was convinced Patrick would love Raiders of the Lost Ark but it was just OK for him after the opening scene (Nazi archeology apparently does not translate well for Patrick - Steve and I still liked it) and now we're back to my suggesting early 70s classics like Swiss Family Robinson while trying to explain how long ago the only time a kid could watch a movie was on Sunday nights and more often than not they sucked.

Surely there have been decent movies have been made in the past thirty years or so that are neither babyish nor too grownup? 

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Caroline and Edward are very cute.

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Patrick has four more Interactive Metronome sessions in OT to complete and it's been quite helpful already. I'm still not entirely clear on how it works or why but I think the idea is that these repetitive motions teach the neurons in the brain to fire differently and I've noticed that Patrick is less... impulsive? Messy? Out of sync? Something. Something better. 

Lego photography must be an art form at which I do not excel but here are a couple shots of the blue-ribbon house. The details don't show up very well but there were a lot of them and Patrick had designed the levels with only a few points of attachment with smooth bricks in between so you can lift up and see into the floors below. 

That's the living room with a couch and a television and a table lamp and a remote control. I asked him what the red thing was by the window and he said it was chockalock and I thought about it and finally said you mean tchotchke? And he gave the gracious nod he has perfected and said, "If you prefer."

[Yesterday he complained, "Caroline was in my room again... much to my annoyment."]  

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Edward expressed interest in moving from his crib into a big boy bed so Steve

This just became a parenthetical aside so long it gets its own paragraph:

Steve has developed a passion for Craigslist in the process of rehabbing the farmhouse - he bought an acre of some guy's old barn floors for like $6 and it escalated from there: on the plus side he used it to sell the hot tub so for the first time since we've lived here we are able to use the screened porch without being up to our necks in water; on the minus side... actually, there is no minus side. It's a good thing. We got rid of the hot tub and bought someone's fairly-ugly-but-functional patio set and now we can eat on the porch - although so far Steve and I have just used it to drink and play cards. The distance between the chairs and the table means that three-quarters of what we serve the children will get lost en route so I am waiting for a night that I serve something in big enough pieces that I won't mind prying them out of the chair grooves. And then two days ago we sold one of the double strollers to a nice couple who is building their family through international adoption and I like the fact that another brother-sister pair will get use out of it.

Anyway I told Steve that Edward wanted a *big boy bed* (you have to say it like Edward does all squeaky-husky) and Steve promptly looked on Craigslist. Then he laughed and showed me what he pulled up and I laughed and said "Kurt Van Houten" and then we were both misty for a moment while we remembered the Simpsons episode where Kurt leaves his wife and is extolling the virtues of single living and says, "I sleep in a race car bed, Homer. Do you sleep in a race car bed?"    

So we said ha ha ha ha ha h... huh as it simultaneously occurred to both of us that Edward really would like to sleep in a race car bed.

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So we bought it for twenty-five bucks and if we were a little disconcerted to discover that the bed fits no known mattress size (38" by 63"? what the hell?) Edward's developed an instant passion for it: "Ma boo rathe cah bed goeth ZOOOOM!" Since we could hardly get rid of it we had to find a mattress solution and settled on using the single futon that flops neatly over the edge and creates what I am calling a 'safety berm' to keep the fact that the mattress doesn't fit from driving me crazy.

(Edward's newest habit is to tell us the color of everything. I am hoping this rubs off on Caroline who can only accurately identify the color pink. The rest of the time she will look you dead in the eye and say with ringing confidence, "That dog? It's BLUE.")

PS Thank you so much for all the eczema help. I can tell you exactly what happened with Edward - we always use a scent-free dye-free laundry soap at home but when we went to Colorado I didn't think about it and used what our friends had on hand. Edward's skin took one whiff of Waterfall Fresh Lilac Blossom Springtime and started trying to eat itself - I didn't notice right away and by the time I did he had well and truly flared. He's doing much better - well he now has a screaming cold but apart from that - and I used most of your advice: Bacitracin on the bloody bits and moisture on the rest. 


To The Victor Goes The Foil

We went to the county fair on Saturday, partly because I wanted to see just how ill I would feel after consuming an entire gyro while standing up (answer: very;) partly because despite the agida I still needed to get my cotton candy fix; partly because children should go to the fair even if it is ninety degrees outside; and partly because Patrick had entered the decorative crafts competition (he competed in the Lego/Knex building division - first introduced at the Lancaster Fair by the Amish I believe - for the 7 to 16 age bracket) and he wanted to see his creation exhibited in all its glory with four dozen of its plastic bricked peers.

We wandered through multiple barns trying to find his Lego house and I started to worry that the teen-aged cat sitter we had asked to register for him while we were in Colorado had gotten... I don't know... mugged or something. 

But we eventually found the right place and

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he had won. First place. Number one. Blue ribbon. Best of the lot.

He borrowed my cell phone to call my mom and when she answered he said, "It's me Patrick and I won first prize at the county fair. I will now give you five minutes for awe and admiration."

Then he handed the phone back to me and went to assess the work of his competition.

It is possible my mom is still laughing. Oh! I do beg your pardon! Have I given you YOUR five minutes for awe and admiration? I didn't mean to just spring it on you like that. Are you sufficiently recovered?

Seriously, though, the kid builds a wicked good Lego house and he was very very excited to win and I am happy for him. I asked him if he was considering architecture or engineering as a career and he said no, at this point he just wants to be a dad and play with his kids all day.

I sort of took that as a compliment. 

Later that night he was all infused with the ginger of recognized creative endeavor and he started making

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paper shoes. He created three pairs before he fashioned a daring paper bolero jacket which I would love to show you but he chose to model it without pants so... . 

Do they sell a VERY cheap sewing machine for children? I bet he'd like fabric.

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Caroline. Oh Caroline. How I adore her.

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And how she drives me crazy.

Caroline was awake last night from 11:30 until 3. 3'ish. I kept climbing into bed with her in hopes she would get the idea that she was supposed to be asleep but when it became obvious that her goal was to talk me to death I would retreat back to my own room. Then she would climb on something (her dresser? the bookcase?) and jump off - over and over, shouting "JUMPING!" until I came up again to prevent her from breaking her arm.

At some point Edward woke up next door. He was quiet - unlike little Lady Dynamite - but I could hear his conversation with himself: "Oh, heh-yo Edwad. I'm tho happy to thee you! Do you want to play carth? Yeth I do!" 

Meanwhile Caroline was literally prying my eyelids up with her fingers and saying, "MOMMY! WE MUST GO TO THE WINDOW AND HELP BABY HELICOPTER!" whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

As Caroline poked at me and chattered away I felt like a washed up squid and contemplated some things about Caroline's future:

1. we need to do a better job of exhausting her

2. it is not enough to stop the naps - which we have done - she needs to spend at least an hour a day running laps or jumping into the pool or something

3. she is going to need to play a sport

At the end of The Worst School Conference Ever with Patrick last Fall his teacher implied through a series of grimaces and significant looks that she thought... well, actually, I am not sure exactly what she thought. She clearly believed there was Something Not Quite Right with Patrick but whether that was an attention disorder or a touch of the Asperger's I wasn't able to infer. Nor did I particularly care because I was pretty certain that he was (other considerations aside) being bored into a jelly and that seemed like the first thing to fix. When I reviewed the possibilities later I immediately rejected ADD but then I wondered if I was just unwilling to consider that my child might have some issues. Maybe I was in denial.

The reason I bring it up now is because I was reassured in my parental detachment last night when I thought about the fact that some teacher will someday wiggle her eyebrows at me in an attempt to imply that Caroline might have an attention problem and I know that I will immediately say OH GOD YES. Unless she is looking at books she is like a hummingbird, flitting from bougainvilla to Little People to Antarctica. She's competent, though. I was thinking about this too. I was terrified that toddler Patrick was going to hurt himself falling off the slide so I hovered and then I felt guilty that I hovered but - Patrick was clumsy. He was going to hurt himself falling off the slide. Caroline is agile and I have no problem watching her ascend most things.

All of which is to say, profoundly: children are different.

Edward's hair is getting redder.

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He also has the most scorching case of eczema we have ever seen in this family. It's all over his arms and legs - the crooks of his elbows and behind his knees are bleeding. I have been using the desonide that their pediatrician prescribed a while ago but it is doing nothing. Thoughts? I know we've covered eczema before but it seems to be a subject that keeps on giving.

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I got an acceptance letter for preschool for Edward. Then I waited a week for Caroline's acceptance to arrive but it never did. I KNEW this would happen. I KNEW that the fates would somehow conspire to take sweet sleepy eats everything Edward and leave me with the hyper kid who strips. It's my punishment for being mean in junior high. At least that was my working theory all weekend but when I talked to them yesterday they were able to explain that Caroline's paperwork had just been misplaced. I was going to tell them that it probably ran away but... I think I'll save that little detail until after she's officially accepted into their program. 

Speaking of preschool I have some retail questions for you. Caroline has been completely sold on the concept of school via the consumer allure of her promised special new backpack. The problem is that any backpack that will actually fit her back cannot possibly hold even a tenth of the stuff she needs to bring - like a lunchbox and a change of clothes and snowpants and whatnot. Obviously I am not the first person to realize this and equally obviously you must have devised a solution. What is it? How do I pack for Edward and Caroline as if they will be weekending at the Hamptons while still allowing them to experience the thrill of the personalized puppy dog pack? Also, Patrick eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, red pepper or carrots, and some kind of salty carbohydrate snack every day for lunch; all of which can be easily secured by a brown paper bag. Caroline and Edward - well Edward mainly - actually eat real food that requires lids and wee forks. I feel like I have seen some kind of charming take on stainless steel bento boxes. You know what I mean? Where do I get something like that or do you have a better suggestion?

Anything else I should know about outfitting two-year-olds for five hours away, two days a week?


En Route

Hello from Nebraska. I can imagine that this place is pretty bleak in January but in high summer it's an oil painting, gold and green with the occasional bright red thumbprint of a barn. It's flat but pretty and in just a few hours we'll head south and someone will hand us the Rocky Mountains and that will be nice too. We had hopes that the bi-coastal nature of interstate 80 would lead to some good license plate spotting but with the extremely notable exception of a car from Chihuahua just west of Omaha it's been a dry trip. Patrick - as he would be no doubt happy to inform you - is really bored. 

So we had our dinner party, Steve got through his meetings, and I finally handed off my article (although I fully expect them to hand it right back to me - the two parts I struggled most to find eventually came from you guys, by the  way, and thank you so much) and by Saturday night we were finally ready to start packing for our Sunday trip. There are several reasons why it is therefore unfortunate that Patrick picked that moment to step on a board and send a rusty nail through the bottom of his foot but what can you do? I took him to Urgent Care where we waited for three hours and by the time we got home I was so exasperated and cranky that I just started shoving stuff into bags. I now have one pair of pants to last me for the next six days. Steve pointed out that I can do laundry when we get to our friends which is true but I will still feel pretty stupid wrapped in a towel while my pants dry.

The trip was mostly monotonous until we got to our hotel last night. Then it was as if we had - deeply - offended the local gods.

1. We had just checked in and the children and I were tootling around the room for a few minutes while Steve went out to start bringing things more in from the car. I realized that there was an unpleasant odor that was getting worse by the second and just as I determined that it was the smell of burning; the fire alarm went off like Williams-Sonoma hitting the roof. I grabbed Caroline and said, "Patrick! Get your brother!" Patrick snatched Edward off the bed and carried him on his hip to safety for all the world like a helpful ten year old girl. I'm sure he will never do it again but it was nice to know that he was able to rise to the occasion of a crisis. So the two of us ran down the hall carrying the shoeless babies where we met Steve. I told him the room was on fire and he just raised his eyebrows. Then he dealt with everything.

2. The hotel did not burn down (electrical problem with the air-conditioning merely) so we got a new room. After we'd eaten dinner (a few trips ago I decided that the easiest thing to do is bring food to the hotel and feed the kids as they bumble around - what the meal lacks in elegance it makes up for with its expediency) I decided to take a shower while Patrick sat on the edge of the tub and soaked his perforated foot in warm water. We were in there for fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes and came out to find Steve setting up the Peapods and Edward bouncing from the big bed to the roll-away. Of Caroline there was no immediate sign. I said, "Steve where's Caroline?" and he looked up from what he was doing and glanced around. We looked under the cot, under the desk, under the pile of pillows Edward had made - she wasn't there. I looked again and again but there really aren't that many places even the most pixie-like of children can hide in less than 300 square feet. She was gone.  

Patrick said - well repeated really because he had been saying it since we left the bathroom but no one had been listening - "The door's not latched! The door's not latched!"

And, sure enough, Caroline had somehow opened the heavy hotel room door and wandered away in her pajamas.

The ancient Greeks thought it best to evoke pity and terror off-stage, as it were, so I will not take you through the minutes it took for us to locate her but I was up last night until three in the morning imagining what could have happened and it still makes me nauseous.

3. After we retrieved Caroline and bolted the door it seemed like a good time to lull the children to sleep with something nice and animated. There is no nice and animated on television after eight apparently - even the cartoon network was showing a fairly adult movie. I tried flipping between the various terrible preteen sitcoms on offer and Caroline said, "Watch a little something? Watch L-A-B-D-D?"

- When I was eight I realized that our dog responded to "Do want to take a walk?" the same as when she was asked "Do you want to take a w-a-l-k?" I thought this meant she could read or at least spell but later realized that context and inflection go a long way toward conveying meaning. So I knew this as some point but forgot it recently when I told Patrick, "After Caroline and Edward go to bed I'll let you watch an m-o-v-i-e."

Caroline promptly - and hotly - retorted, "*I* want to watch b-r-s-t!"

Her new habit now is to try to string letters together in hopes that one of them is the magic combination that opens up 'Cars'. She likes Cars. -

So the children were grudgingly watching bad TV in the minutes before bedtime and Steve was trying to make more room for our stuff by moving things, among them the coffeemaker. As he did so the coffee pot slipped, hit the edge of the table and shattered into thousands of pieces, casting shards all over our clothes and our bags and the floor and the table and the chair... Steve and I just stared at it. Then I started to laugh because GOOD LORD. We have been in this place for less than two hours and we have already started a fire and misplaced a child - now we have a billion razor-sharp shards of glass all over the floor. Something to add to the list of virtues of the Peapod by the way - not only is it a cunning toddler sized tent of surpassing comfort; it is a safe place to store even the angriest of children when the only other alternative is certain laceration.

So. That was Nebraska.

During the five odd hours I have been typing at this between reading books to the occupants of the back seats we have bid the cornhuskers goodbye and just now the first faint edges of the Rockies are becoming visible. Twenty years ago I did this drive with an idiot boy a little further to the south and once we finally got through Kansas and eastern Colorado the mountains rose up in front of us. I remember being gobsmacked. It's sort of amazing that these giant mountains just... poke up like that.

Steve has been announcing altimeter changes to a spellbound audience of one (Patrick) and my suggestion that the range was perhaps the fossilized remains of a dragon slain before Time met with the approval of an equally large audience (Caroline who said, "Oh dragon! I'm Caroline and this is our older brother Patrick") and strong rebuke from the scientific community as represented by the altitude-obsessed. Edward thinks the mountains are "oh wow cool."

We bought two things at the start of the summer (in addition to the Peapod beds that I am obviously in love with) that have made our roadtrips more pleasant: a dual-screen DVD player and a Garmin. We got them both refurbished from eBay which is my new preferred way to buy electronics. So sensible. Some days we don't turn the DVD on at all but for that last hour and a half of the day... it's nice. And Garmy (we call him Garmy and Steve says he's a she and they have a contentious relationship) has been great for figuring out food options or locating a pharmacy and most importantly for locating nearby elementary schools where we can stop and use the playground. Both items are highly recommended but Steve insists that I add that you should not expect the GPS to actually choose your route because it sucks. Steve unfortunately is still a little bitter about the Canada incident. We were driving along the Trans-Canadian highway with literally a thousand miles to go on it until our destination and all of a sudden Garmy says, "In point three miles turn right onto unpaved road." And then yesterday Garmy tried to direct us the wrong way up an on ramp.

So Steve thinks it is trying to kill us but I think Steve's problem with Garmy runs more deeply than that and is rooted in the primitive male need to assert his ability to negotiate the New York subway system without help.  

And that is it until we're in the mountains rather than under them.

PS Have you ever had a kid wander off like Caroline does?

PPS And what am I supposed to do about it?