Monday, September 20, 2010

Kids! Do this!

Charlie's Playhouse is hosting an Evolution & Art Contest, and my kid is too, um, inexperienced in drawing to enter.

You pick an animal, imagine an island, and draw an evolved animal. I already know what I would do if adults were allowed to enter, but it would be political satire, and this is probably why adults are not allowed to enter.

But I have cousins and friends from 4-12, and they should get drawin'!

Friday, September 17, 2010

This Mississippi River You May Never See (cross-post)

I live near the Mississippi River. I work 500 yards from the Mississippi River. I grew up in a town on the river southeast of here. When I moved to this state at the age of ten, I was in awe of the fact that I was living on the western side of a geographical celebrity, lauded by Mark Twain and other artists; a waterway of continental historical proportions. I came to take it for granted, but every once in a while, it hits me again: that's the Mississippi River. This happened just a few days ago when babywhumpus pointed to the river and said "lake." I told him it was a river, the Mississippi River, and he repeated "Mississippi" perfectly. I again felt the pleasant weight of history, and felt fortunate to live here.

For the last four years, the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History has been working on a film about the river entitled "Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story," and it was due to premiere on October 3.

Not anymore.

(Pay special note to the update in the grey box, because it could be that something fishy is going on at the University, and that's quite simply the last thing we need.)

From an administrative and budgetary perspective, pulling a premier this late means that money has been lost in labor and materials, simply related to the event. That's not even addressing the costs associate with the film itself. Something like this will continue to feed into a public mistrust of government and the University that has been planted and tended by our current governor (himself a graduate of the University). We have enough people taking aim at us without shooting ourselves in the foot.

All this to say: make some calls; send some emails. Might as well flood the president's office and copy URelations. Tell your friends. I don't know about you, but as a citizen of Minnesota, an alum of the U, and a current employee, I'd like to see this movie.

Via e-mail:
Via U.S. mail:
202 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street S.E.
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Via phone: 612-626-1616
Via fax: 612-625-3875

Office of University Relations
3 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: 612-624-6868
Fax: 612-624-6369

Link: Professor P.Z. Myers' post on this issue.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Musing. Fall makes me do that.

I had to run an errand to another part of campus. As I walked  out of the building, I was confronted with a tent poster sale, and I was thrust back over twenty years, to purchasing large-scale images of The Cure and reproductions of Maxfield Parrish prints for the thickly-painted, fleshy beige of my dorm room walls.

I walk across the bridge from which poet John Berryman jumped, and I think about tossing a flower down onto the ice on January 7.

On this errand, I was reminded of the brash beauty of a completely cloudless autumn sky, that people still smoke, and that the incoming class of freshmen could be my kids. On the way back, I watched a crane loading up pieces of the bridge that fell. They have been languishing for three years next to the river. Maybe it's because the law suit has been settled; maybe it's because it's harvest time and someone needs the steel. In any case, it will be nice to reclaim that stretch of riverbank from the ghosts of failed engineering.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Round about August the past two years I have started to notice all the hugely pregnant women there are. This continues through mid September and is exacerbated by the Minnesota State Fair, where every tenth woman seems to have journeyed for the specific purpose of jump-starting labor.

Why not?

That's what I was going to do.

It's a complicated thing, my reaction to full term pregnant women and women who have delivered healthy full-term babies. (If they have also had care free pregnancies and seem to lead uttey charmed lives, the reaction is much less complicated.)

On the one hand, it is marvelous that these families and babies do not have the ordeal of extended hospitalization and uncertainty. I do not wish that on anyone. On the other, there's a mix of jealousy and loss.

I cannot change things, and we have a frankly fabulous son who is thriving, but still I wonder what it would have been like to be that big and to feel all that movement. I think about a birth experience that did only involved the regular amount of fear and trepidation. I dream about being able to hold my baby when he was born and bring him home with me when I left the hospital.

Not every day, not all year. But it's there, and it probably always will, even as I mentally thank all the nurses and doctors who made it possible for me to have the amazing daily experiences I have with our healthy, growing boy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Damn Kid

As I was walking to get lunch just now, I looked down the street and saw a garbage truck. A big, blue garbage truck. My heart fluttered with excitement, and I thought of how happy Finn would be. I noted that it was a front-loader, and as I drew closer, I wondered, "Is that a McNeilus or a Heil?"

It was a McNeilus.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Watch Trains

Youtube has created a demon. On one hand, it was sheer brilliance that Pete realized we could stream train videos from youtube to the television via the BluRay, but at the same time, we condemned ourselves to delving into some of the various transportation-related subcultures, which are out there, videotaping your trash.

Trains are one thing, and I knew that there are people out there who trainspot, or “railfan,” as it’s called here in America. (I should look up the difference so that no one finds this and flames me.) I had no idea that we would find edited videos of garbage trucks, complete with captions telling us the make and model of each rig. These are the most boring of the vehicular shorts that now clog the favorites on my channel.

I look like a freak.

Garbage trucks, diggers, trains, fire trucks, ambulances, toy trains, and subscriptions to Lark Rise to Candleford and the Minnesota Zoo sit together on my homepage.

“Garbage Trucks, Part I” has over 1.5 million views, and just under 1.2 million of those are ours from the past five days. I am at leisure to type this because he is currently mesmerized by “Garbage Trucks, Part II.” Make sure you see Part I first because otherwise, you will be completely lost. Both parts take place in Naples, Florida, and from what I can tell, people in Naples don’t recycle, and they throw away perfectly good stuff.

I note that there is a “Garbage Trucks, Part III.” It’s a trilogy, which makes sense because “Garbage Trucks, Part II” is clearly the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Garbage Trucks saga.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


When I went for freshman orientation, an upper class-woman came to speak to us and told us naps were our friends. I didn’t nap in college. Oh sure, sometimes I stayed up all night, went to class at 8:00 in the morning, then went home and went to bed, but that doesn’t count.

When I had a baby, I read that I should be napping: sleeping when the baby sleeps.

Because I don’t nap, I didn’t sleep.

Which is of course untrue, but I don’t get that much-celebrated eight hours of sleep a night. I don’t think I even get six. And that’s not straight through. But sleeping during the daylight hours is practically impossible for me. First of all, I am a light sleeper, so I am easily woken by sound. Party at the neighbors, overenthusiastic dog in the distance, snarfling raccoon just below the open bedroom window, the muffled sounds of death metal coming from the odd neighbor’s basement, and I’m up. During the day, there’s just much more sonic activity, and it keeps me from getting into a good falling-to-sleep groove. Not to mention that it takes me 30 minutes and a good book to begin to drop off. If I am tired enough to nap, it’s pretty extreme, but even then, if I find that groove, and it gets interrupted, I’m done.

One afternoon on The Cape, I was that tired. I had almost gotten into the groove, and Pete came in looking for something. I could have ignored him and tried to hold on, but I knew what he was looking for, and I knew where it was. The groove was not far off, though, so I grabbed a quilt and snuggled down.

That’s when the lawn guys showed up.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

As the sun goes behind an especially picturesque bank of clouds, the nice breeze becomes a chilling one, and I bundle up camera, book, and sunscreen and head up the 54 stairs to the cottage for my last outdoor shower. I leave my glasses on because no one should shower blind outdoors, so I survey the ocean and sky through foggy, droplet-covered lenses, but it would be worse without them. I figure they also get clean. I am a big fan of passive multitasking, which is doing one thing while doing another. Clean the glasses, rinse out the beach toys and the Keens, get a shower. It takes almost no brain power, no real planning, and I can also stash a Guinness on the shampoo shelves to further complete the picture of home economic industry.

We really should have had the plumber put one of these in at our house.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ashes, Ashes, we all melt down

We as a family are no longer fit for extended public consumption. I say that, but I am only fooling. We are not even fit for abbreviated public consumption. Pete and I can make a shift to appear normal; we understand social expectations and can follow them, but the two-year-old dynamo is quite another story.

We took a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard, mainly to get the boy on a boat and round out the transportation countdown: taxi, tram, plane, escalator, moving walkway, bus, car… boat. Also, Pete wanted to drop off some CD’s with the Black Dog guys. He promised he would, in exchange for using a picture of one of their boats on the cover. Plus, he worked on that boat 22 years ago, a 16-year-old kid, climbing the mast like a monkey, hanging from the rigging.

We left the house at 9:54 and arrived at Vineyard Haven at 11:30. By 1:00, we were done. After Pete changed to worst poopy he had seen in awhile in the Steamship Authority restroom, we went to wait for the next ferry, allowing the little demon time to frolic in the lapping waves of a crappy beach near the dock.

The pictures make it worth it. Plus, I sold a CD to a couple on the ferry. But we are really best sticking close to home. He’s not a placid child who becomes engrossed in things for an extended period of time. Aside from youtube videos of garbage trucks, he doesn’t sit still for much, and even then, it’s “’nother gabbage tuck. ‘nother gabbage tuck.”

We shift-ate through lunch, each scarfing down our fish sandwich and cheeseburger while he either screamed or threatened screaming. We tried to wrangle him in the little tangle of buildings that it the ramshackle center of the Black Dog empire. We attempted to woo him with promises of tee shirts with doggies on them. Slowly, we devolved into Those Parents with That Child. When Pete trudged off with Finn’s poopy butt on his shoulders back toward Steamship Authority and said he’d see me in twenty minutes, I thought, “This is how people wind up getting divorced.” One overly stressful public experience leads to a hissed public argument leads to resentment, and if you had any underlying resentment for that new resentment to mate with, you could be doomed.

This is why I assert that you must like, I mean deeply enjoy, the person you are partnered with before you have children. You must know how to talk to each other. You must know the other’s moods and buttons, not so you can push them but so you can avoid pushing them. The new addition will push them for you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

There are times, perhaps when you are folding a tiny, orange tee shirt or he turns just so and jumps, his bare feet hitting the wooden floor with a plonk, when you think "Holy shit, I have a child."

Along the way, you think, "How will I ever teach this child to speak, learn his colors, count, do his ABC's, keep him fed so he will grow?"

Fortunately, a lot of it seems to be instinctual. When you are talking to your child, you point out different things. You name and describe. You are teaching as you are guiding him through his day, exposing different layers of his world through the senses, using language to point the way. And he listens. He soaks it in and repeats it back to you, noticing more than you told him, remembering more than you thought he would.

And suddenly, he is asking "Why?" when you tell him that he has to wait to watch videos of garbage trucks on You Tube, and you realize that you are doing a pretty good job.

And that you are doomed.

Resigned to New

I love my International Harvester refrigerator. They only made them for seven years, and mine is a 1952, I think. It came with the house, and I made sure to write it and the 1951 Tappan range into the purchase agreement.

They both still work, and they have been our fridge and stove for the past nine years, rumbling along like the beautiful workhorses they are. This summer, however, the thermostat on the oven went, so I can't bake anymore. (It shoots from off to 500 in a matter of minutes, rendering all cookies dark puddles of carbon.) And I grew tired of emptying out the freezer every two weeks to defrost it. It would be caked with ice to the point of barely opening, and the food in it would be buried like a baby mammoth in a glacier. It sucked the cold out of the fridge leaving bottles sweaty and cool and vegetables flaccid as a... well, let's just say limp and lifeless. With the two-year-old running at peak intensity, there's little extra time for such things as defrosting, and I could no longer remember what I had hauled down to the chest freezer in the basement, causing me to repeat food purchases, laying in a stockpile against some near-future armageddon, perhaps sometime soon after the Minnesota governor's race is decided.

I came to a decision: the stove would have to be fixed. After perusing the new choices, I felt only despair that we seem to have lost all sense of how to make something utilitarian have real style. Plus, nothing had the same usefulness of my Tappan. Coincidentally, an almost exact model showed up at the ReUse Store, so we bought it for parts. It's in the garage. I still have to get the thermostat out and swap, and here's hoping that it works. It's on the list.

The refrigerator would have to be replaced. Almost all the new ones are ugly (I don't like stainless steel, and the white ones are lifeless hulks), and the 1950's-styled models are just a bit out of my rational price range. We settled on one that, while not terribly attractive, has made our lives better in an ineffable and completely materialistic way. It keeps food cold, it has a bottle rack for beers (though no bottle opener on the inside handle latch, like the IH). It's not "femineered" like the International, but what is, really? I put an old metal bottle opener on a strong magnet on the outside of the new fridge, and the old one is, you guessed it, in the garage. It still works, it just needs to be restored a little bit, and I want to find someone who will do so or who will at least use it and take care of it.

Another thing on the list.

But I got to take "defrost" off the list, so it all works out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Vacationing with a two-year-old is a different kind of break. You can't have the same expectations of relaxation and repose that you might reasonably look forward to were there not a dependent though determined small being in tow.

Your routines, as inconstant as they may seem to you at home, help to hold the family together. When you know what to expect, in general terms, things are easier, though they do not always appear so. Away from your normal environment, without the time constraints of work and day care, things can fall apart. People can fall apart. Toddlers often do.

Finn is doing remarkably well, I think, with all the new people and relatively constant activity. He has no schedule because there is no schedule, and we are not structured enough to create one. Naps happen when we think he needs it or, like today, not really at all. He simply will no go to sleep even though he is a complete crabapple and clearly needs a good, long nap. He's expressing his stress and trepidation through an increased demand for "Quiet Time" and "Pillow," which then puts an increased demand on me and removes me from company a lot. More than even I would choose.

We have just sent him off on a (hopefully) long explore with his grandparents. We are having Quiet Time in the form of books and blog. I might even take a shower.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quiet Time

For a long time now, nursing has been called "Pillow," in reference to the essential item used for comfortable nursing. At home, Finn has a special pillow with an identifiable pillow case. It's just a regular, down bed pillow, but it's only used for nursing, for the most part. The specialized nursing pillows really didn't do much for me. One wound up being more of a neck support for Pete when he would sleep with Finn, and the other we used when Finn was just getting the hang of sitting up--it was a little extra support for when he played on the floor. I donated them both ages ago.

I didn't bring Pillow because we had enough to carry, and when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter to Finn which pillow he uses. Pillow really means Boob, and I always have those. Here at the house, though, in mixed company, I started to refer to it as quiet time, and it's stuck. Finn quickly began to ask for "quiet time," and now it mostly means, "I need a break from all this. Let's go upstairs and do something else. Maybe we will read or play a game on the iPad. Maybe we will look out the window, I just need fewer stimuli."

It's advanced mood recognition, as far as I am concerned. Many, many adults don't understand when they have had enough and instead of taking a break become sulky, childish, or just plain mean. I know I have done it. Now I have a new code phrase to use: Quiet time. It's better than "I have to go 'Number 2.'"

Yesterday was a big, fat party. My in-laws' extended family is large and gregarious. Kind of like seagulls. I like sea gulls. They are graceful and attractive, diverse and interesting, but when you get too many of them in one place, it can be overwhelming. I dealt with it by cooking. I am making family dinner tonight (Pete said, "We should make dinner. You should make chicken enchiladas."), and of course, I have big plans, so I started two days ago by putting together a corn salsa. Then yesterday, I did the tomatillo sauce and the chicken filling. Tonight, I have to assemble them, make rice, and also do up some fish tacos. Hey, we're at the beach, so there has to be fish. It's not like Cape Cod is famous for its succulent, wild-caught chickens.

Last night, as I hung out in the kitchen, putting together the chicken, I got to talk to many people, but in shifts, as they came through and asked me what the heck I was doing. I think that because the dining room table was positively groaning under the weight of a million chicken wings, the largest tub of potato salad I have ever seen (Seriously, you could have bathed a baby in there), hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, cakes, and bars, they were perhaps questioning my sanity. They may have questioned it even further when I said I was working on Monday's dinner, but sanity is a relative thing in most families, so I don't think it matters all that much.

Today, we are vacationing much lighter, with just the immediate family, so it's very quiet. We spent some time on the beach, though the last few days of churning seas have left it completely blanketed in sea weed. Finn wanted to move some sand around, and we also managed to show him a couple of small crabs, a live scallop, and a few other neat things deposited close to shore by the wind and waves.

All-in-all, it's a good day to be on vacation.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And now, for a geek break

Bird list (Not a very good one. I am not trying.):

American Black Duck (Check their papers. I bet they are illegal and just here to steal jobs from hard-working Mallards.)

Osprey (There must be a nest nearby because we are often treated to a pair, fishing in the bay and hovering just off the cliff.)

Double-crested Cormorant (I love these birds for their dopey-looking wing drying.)

Least Sandpiper (Who you callin' "least"? There are a number of other smallish to medium-sized shore birds that I have not been able to get a good look at. "Least Sandpiper" is a best guess approximation.)

Herring Gull (One stood in the jetty near us the entire time we were down on the beach. Once we were back up at the house and looked down, he was in the seaweed, picking out juicy morsels. Clearly, we were at his table.)

American Crow (Loud, louder, and loudest.)

Black-capped Chickadee (These, along with red-winged blackbirds, may be my favorite birds. Common things are common, but that does not make them ordinary.)

American Robin

Happy Birthday, Gran!

Here's yogurt face...

We'll call later. Skype?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hurricane Report

Pete's aunt and uncle showed up, stayed for awhile, then left. Someone set off a small amount of firecrackers. The college kids woo-hooed and cheered. The storm came through slowly, bringing wind and rain, and Finn slept through most of it. We did not. Surprisingly, I could handle the sounds of nature, but the sounds of nature's children were obnoxious. When Kicky McThrashy stirred, we pulled him into bed, as usual, and he did his bed dance. Luckily, we are in a king sized, but he's a sleep hurricane.

It's nice not to have diapers to wash or work to do, but I was sleeping better at home.

The weather is breezy and mostly cloudy, but I bet those clouds will roll over soon.

But it's 6:50 a.m., and SuperWhine is mewling incessantly. Nothing is right, and every circumstance must be met with fake crying. It's about the last thing either of us want to hear right now.

Earl has passed over. Finn is here.

Friday, September 3, 2010


See that yellow, orange, red bit to the east? We're in the middle of that. Truth be told, the map looked worse when Finn and I retired to the basement because the tornado sirens were going off in Saint Paul, but it was much more localized and, well, it had never been a hurricane. Another wing of Pete's family just showed up to get closer to the action, I guess. No better time to party than when Earl is in the house. It's raining, and the wind has definitely picked up, but I believe we have a way to go.

We Will Be Fine... so,

Here's hoping for the best in New Zealand, as they assess the damage caused by the massive earthquake early this morning...

"Parenting tip of the day"

"Parenting Tip of the Day from

Find a quiet place today and take a deep breath. Remember that perfection is unattainable and chaos is reality. Remind yourself that getting down on the floor and playing with your kids is more important than that sink of breakfast dishes, and to carve out time to nurture your body, soul, and marriage."

Blah blah BLAH, blah blah blah.

If I were not on vacation, that would get a big fat "fuck you."

As it is, I AM on vacation, and I am feeling pretty good, so I'll just say, "Oh, please." That kind of statement contains bits that every parent knows, but it is also the kind of statement that would make most busy parents want to punch the statement-maker in the throat. We know that it's more important to play with your kids than it is to do the dishes, theoretically, but the dishes simply will not do themselves. We know that we should carve out time for body, "soul," and marriage (or partnership), but if you can't even get to the frickin' breakfast dishes, from just where is that time going to come?

Yes, I am going to make time to go to the spa, kneel in front of my closet altar and meditate, as well as have a romantic dinner with my husband, just as soon as I get down on the floor and play with my kid and do the breakfast dishes. I'll be right with you.

I have found that it's almost impossible for me to relax at home if there are obvious chores to be done, which is why I am often trying to get so much accomplished, so I might have that time to really enjoy my family. It's why I spent so much time trying to get so much done before I left: I did not want to come home to it. So far, only two days into this trip, I have had to remind myself that I am not at home, so there are no chores, at least not in the same sense, and we don't have to get to work, drive to day care, feed the cats, wash diapers, or be on any sort of schedule. I paid the bills before I left, and I did my best to wrap up work.

I can walk down the 54 steps to the beach and play in the sand with my son first thing in the morning and not have to think that there is something else I should be doing because quite simply, there isn't. I get to enjoy my family. You can say that we see each other every day, and while that's certainly true, we see each other enmeshed in the web of our daily responsibilities, and it's difficult to find any sort of peace during which to relax. It's always either the calm before the storm or it's the storm, and neither are terribly peaceful.

But this is.
Let's go fly a kite...
...once the hurricane passes.

(Yes, we were the people in the local hardware store buying balsa wood gliders and a kite while other people were getting batteries and asking about generators. Weather report: it rained a little bit, then stopped for awhile. Then it poured for 15 minutes. Now it's just cloudy. People report: Finn and Pete are napping, along with perhaps the rest of the house. It's very quiet. I am doing this, Joyce is reading, and GrammaSue is watching the Weather Channel.)


The house we are in is part of a small compound. It's no Kennedy Compound, but it'll do. There are almost as many liberals here as there.

There are two houses, one main house and the holiday house.

We are in the holiday house, which is the smaller of the two, as you might guess. The main house is currently occupied by a group of students from Stanford. Yesterday while Pete was assembling the kite, there was a brief outburst of high-jinks that made Finn point and say, "Running around."

"Oh great," I said. "As if I needed another reminder that I am old and fat," as I watched four bikini-clad, toned women posing for goofy pictures taken by one of the two young men in evidence. Not long after that, there was some sort of game involving water ballons, bowls of water, and, finally, sprinklers. "What are they doing?" said Pete. I looked at him, aghast. "Um, making girls run in bikinis by getting them wet, causing them to bounce and squeal."

I've never been prouder of my gender.

Or of his, for that matter.

That Pete thought there was perhaps a purpose to the "game" going on next door is, I suppose, testament to either his adorable naivete, his higher mind, or just his competitive nature. I'm really not sure.

I was just trying to figure out how two relatively nerdy guys had four attractive women seemingly all to themselves in an expensive house on Cape Cod. I figured it had to have something to do with money.

It's either that, or we are going to be in the background of some sort of MTV reality show as the older, remarkably unhip, and mildly disapproving family just trying to have wholesome fun with their toddler.


It's 10:50 a.m., and it has started to rain. Just a little bit. It would be nothing if we didn't know what is behind it. We brought in chairs and other beachy items, and that's about it for now.

OK, now it's raining a little more.

Hurricane Watch

It's cloudy this morning, but so far, that's it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

So, You're a Hurricane. And Your Name is Earl? Yeah, OK.

I just came in from the beach. I figured I should get in there before Earl has his way with the Cape tomorrow and Saturday. 100 mile per hour winds are projected for the Cape tomorrow.


Everyone needs a little adventure on their vacation. You just usually hope it isn't the kind that makes the news.

Vacation, Had to Get Away

Baby’s asleep, and there’s no Internet. It’s 8:15 Minnesota time, on the first night of our vacation. A real vacation, I mean, away from home, in a different environment—at least for me—for more than a long weekend. Geographically, topographically, ecologically, architecturally, linguistically, economically, nutritionally, we are in a different place.

Sure, it’s not Saint Paul to Cameroon, but even the seemingly slight differences in our own large country matter, and they should be appreciated and savored. We had swordfish and bluefish with our corn-on-the-cob. We are sitting in a shingled cape cod cottage with bare nails poking through the unfinished ceiling. We are on a salt bay beach, complete with sand and shells. We are renting from people with money. Here, we take a baah-th, not a beh-th, and tomorrow, I don’t have to go to work.

And I am going to try not to check my work email.

Not having access to a wireless network will help with that, but then again, how do I blog?

There’s a crib here, but perversely, it’s in the room with the two twin beds. I guess they must figure that anyone with a kid doesn’t want to sleep in the same room as their kid, or maybe they figure that all kids would sleep in that room, and all adults would sleep in others. Yeah, that’s probably it. Didn’t even occur to me until just now. After trying to wheel the crib through the door, I decided that it had been assembled in that room, and that was where it was going to stay. I took out the mattress and put it on the floor in our room, bordered by pillows, and that’s where he is right now. Wiped out and asleep on his back in a probably soaking wet diaper. We’ll pay for it later. I sent Pete back downstairs to be with his family. I’m not done for the day, but I don’t want him to wake up in a strange room by himself, out of earshot. This vacation will probably force us to buy a monitor. We don’t have one at home because our house is like a dollhouse, and we really don’t need it, but this is two stories, and there’s plenty of opportunity and enticement to being outside, under the stars.

I don’t mind. I have things to say. I have a good book. I have two Guinnii. Even without wireless, I think I will be OK.

(Oh, and there's wireless here)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fly Boy

Packed and ready to go. Without the car seat, this would have been completely manageable. With the car seat, we looked like crazy bag people trying to save 25 bucks by not checking another bag. As it was, the one bag we checked--that big orange one--weighed in at 61 pounds, costing us an extra $90 on top of the $25. I blame the big box of CD's Pete brought, because I can. It's my blog. We'll see what it adds up to on the way home. The thing that gets me is that it's the only bag we checked for three people. They should have paid us.

It's 12:05, and we are over the vast expanse of Lake Huron,  its blue waters merging with the sky. Finn is done with the plane.

We have two hours to go.

Pete is changing a poopy diaper because mama does not leave her seat on an airplane, preferring to remain rooted by fear to one spot. There's quite a line forming because it takes Pete a long time to change a poopy diaper in the comfort of our living room, let alone in the confined box of an airplane lavatory. From what I remember, they are pretty small. I made it to Dublin and back without using one, so I could be wrong. I think I have only been in one once. I am convinced that I won't be able to get out, and an embarrassing scene will ensue, involving numerous flight attendants and much head shaking from other passengers. One of my main goals in life is not to be the subject of strangers' dinner conversation. "On the plane today, this idiotic woman locked herself in the labatory. No, I don't think she was 'special.'"

Yes, yes, he's very cute. Note the completely placid 22-month-old who didn't make a sound, right there in the background. Had he not been on the plane for comparison, Finn would have been a pretty good child. As it was, when compared with the other boy, Finn was Average. Also, note the snack container. I can thank A.'s mother for that. She had one at the State Fair, packed with healthy snacks. She's brilliant and organized.

Finn was not going to sit still. I am hyper conscious of trying not to annoy child-free parents, straddling the fence between knowing what it's like to be sick of children and thinking "Screw you, Stink Eye, let's see you do better." It's an uncomfortable fence, complete with splinters and barbed wire.

He needed a nap, but I didn't think that will happen without boob, and I didn't particularly want to freak out prudish Americans who are usually shocked at a nursing child who can speak. There's no logic behind the statement "If you can ask for it, you're too old for it," especially considering that we are told for the rest of our lives that you have to ask for what you want.

Mini Magnadoodle-type drawing pad. It kept him quite occupied for a short period of time. That's the way it is. New book for a little while. Snacks. New toy car (muscle, Matchbox). Snacks. Magnadoodle. iPad. Nap. The snacks are crucial. Bring many.

Finn and Pete played in an empty row for awhile, but when Pete tried to bring him back, he started shriek-whining and back-arching, two of the most grating and publicly humiliating toddler behaviors there are. Conventional means of amusement were no longer working, so we broke out the technology.

Hello, iPad.

We played a few games, and then the eye rubbing began, so we put on Nemo (Finding, not Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea). The headphones were a little weird for him, so now Finn is sitting on Pete's lap, and Pete is reciting the movie.

Yes, we have seen it that many times.

I wanted to be one of those parents who didn't prop herself up on the crutch of television, but a girl's gotta have a break. As fun as it would have been to be superior and smug, inwardly judging people who park their kids in front of Barney, I think I'd rather be able to get something done every once in a while, or even just sit and stare sometimes.

There are plenty of other things I can judge other people for.

In preparation for this flight, I brought grapes, raspberries, hippie pop tarts, crispy rice bars (peanut butter, hippie), and crackers (regular and bunny). We had a few new toys and new books, plus the apps on the iPad and iTouch. Even with all that, once he got too tired, it was down to Pillow to save the day, so he tucked into the corner next to his car seat and fell asleep. Aside from one very short episode with ear pressure, he stayed asleep until all the other passengers were off the plane.

Note to self: next time, no car seat. It is too huge and cumbersome. We'll rent one with the car. Even on the way home, we are checking it.