Thursday, July 27, 2006

The trip thus far

Here it is... a minute by minute account of The Big Trip (that's my solo cross-country drive with 3 kids age 6, 4, 2 for those of you who don't know). An informal survey of gas prices across the nation. And occasional insights into my crazy thought process. Some of it may be boring but you should skim through anyway - there are a few gems and it-could-only-happen-to-Sheila stories.

July 23, 2006 - Day 1 of The Big Trip

2:11 pm - leave home
2:30 pm - leave Starbucks on Maple
7 minutes to the highway
2 girls are sleeping before we even get to MD

2:56 pm - Germantown, MD
I have decided that minivans need sound-powered phones or some other communication device from the middle/back seats to the front seat. I can't hear anything they are saying. This is good except when we actually need to communicate!

3:02 pm - Just remembered I forgot to email Bruce about Nathan's gift

3:03 pm - I think my eyeball is going to explode. This is SO not a stye! Why didn't I pack Motrin? I thought about it but then forgot again almost immediately. I think I have the Wild Bee Fever.

3:12 pm - I-70 West

3:18 pm - Braddock Mtn, elevation 985 feet. Our first mountain pass (if you can call it that!) on our trip.

3:19 pm - see our first State Trooper.

3:21 pm - You know, western MD is actually rather scenic. Who knew?

3:24 pm - dead raccoon on the side of the road. This is the 4th I've seen in a week. Do you think it qualifies as too gross for the kids to tally - total number dead raccoons along the highway?

3:26 pm - pass a broken down ice cream truck

3:29 pm - Pass our first cow farm. Anything with more than 10 cows qualifies.

3:35 pm - Passing I-81. Check the map... where was I supposed to turn? Oh yeah, I-68. A few miles left to go.

3:37 pm - pass huge Lenox warehouse

3:58 pm - made it to I-68W

4:00 pm - Bella is awake.

4:04 pm - another mountain summit. See the first runaway truck ramp.

4:05 pm - Ryan has headphones on. I ask him what he is listening too. He shows me the other end. "Nothing. There's nothing to plug them into." Okaaaaayyyy... may come in handy as ear plugs later though.

4:12 pm - Listening to the Lion King CD after figuring out the tape player has no batteries. The extra batteries are conveniently packed in the back of the car.

4:13 pm - Ryan is pouting.

4:16 pm - Polish Mtn., 1246 feet

4:18 pm - Felisa stirs - everyone hold your breath, maybe she'll go back to sleep

4:21 pm - have a discussion about taking turns with the radio. Threaten them with listening to my music for the whole trip if they can't share nicely.

4:29 pm - Allegheny College of MD - this looks like a nice little mountain town (from the highway anyway). I wouldn't have minded going to school here. Maybe one of the kids will...

4:37 pm - See a "Watch for Wildlife" sign. Will we see a bear, perhaps?

4:43 pm - Big Savage Mtn., 2800 feet

4:44 pm - uh oh. Too much coffee. I really need to pee! And I refuse to stop the car if the youngest passenger is sleeping!

4:45 pm - pass the 2nd cow farm

4:46 pm - Cross the Eastern Continental Divide, 2610 feet. I have never heard of an Eastern Continental Divide before. I thought there was only one, the REAL one in Colorado!

4:49 pm - Meadow Mtn, 2786 feet. How is this pass higher than the Divide? Clearly I have no idea what I continental divide is...

4:53 pm - Ate a croissant. My face hurts! :( Darn canker sore and Wild Bee Fever.

4:54 pm - Another deer/bear sign. Still haven't seen any...

5:08 pm - West Virginia!!!

5:16 pm - 69 miles to Washington, PA. Give the kids a one-hour warning. Ryan says, "I think we can be entertained for an hour".

5:20 pm - darn stowaway fly is buzzing in my face

5:24 pm - Cheat Lake and Fairchance Road - how funny is that?!

5:25 pm - Felisa wakes up. First words out of her mouth, "I'm hungry."

5:26 pm - % grade sign is tilted - does that make the grade steeper? hee hee

5:30 pm - break out the DVD player. Only took 3 hours into the journey to break down and turn it on... finishing Scooby Doo 2

5:41 pm - passing WVU - Allie's old stompin' grounds

5:45 pm - pause movie... We made it to PA!

5:51 pm - man, there sure is a lot of farting and burping in this Scooby movie. Apparently Scooby is no longer as entertaining as he originally was so many years ago so now we have to add body humor. Yuck!

5:52 pm - Felisa is whining... "I want to go home."

5:53 pm - first road construction zone

5:55 pm - very bumpy road - I am quite impressed with the anti-shock technology in the DVD player!

6:15 pm - Dinner at McD's

7:15 pm - Don't ask the locals for directions... spent almost an hour driving around town searching for a playground. Finally found one and it was closed. That's right, closed. With a fence and a padlock. Not sure why it was closed on Sunday evening but oh well. I'm sure none of the neighborhood kids who were riding around on their bikes would have wanted to play there...

7:29 pm - passing through WV again! Exit 5 - McD's playplace so we stop to play for a bit

8:33 pm - gas, $2.95/gallon - another hour of my life is GONE. I am insanely grumpy. Is it low blood sugar? I have a headache, my eye hurts, and it hurts to chew so I'm not really eating. Or it could be subconcious stress about the trip, traveling alone with the kids, just trying to get there.

8:51 pm - pass our 3rd cow farm

9:15 pm - it is officially dark now... not sure we're going to make it to the hotel

10:50 pm - finally arrive, Holiday Inn Express in London, OH

July 24, 2006 - Monday - Day 2 of The Big Trip

0600 - alarm goes off - VERY loud! Can someone please scrape me off the ceiling?!

0615 - get out of bed

0730 - in the car... news on the radio tells of a sniper in IN. Great...

0734 - McD's drive-thru - a lightning bug is crawling on my windshield near the spot that was glowing green last night. Is he looking for his lost brother who didn't make it home and was last seen in the vicinity of my windshield?

0736 - gas, $2.88/gallon and coffee

0757 - finally cleaned up after the coffee bomb exploded in the front seat. Maybe 99 cents for the large coffee wasn't such a good deal after all... And I'm definitely not getting the white chocolate caramel flavor again - way to sticky!

0810 - Bella is asking for a movie already

0815 - we are passing our first cornfield!

0834 - more cornfields... how long do you think the excitement and novelty of it all will last?

0840 - Bella wants a picture of the cornfield

0905 - Felisa and Ryan have been sleeping since Dayton. Can we get past Indianapolis before we have to stop?

0907 - first cows of the day

0910 - Indiana!

0911 - we just passed 10 HUGE billboards in a row for some RV store... they were lining both sides of the highway like a gauntlet. A little overkill perhaps?

0920 - Felisa is awake

0923 - the DVDs have begun... this morning's movie will be Emperor's New Groove (last night we watched My Little Pony and Dora)

1025 - onto I-74

1036 - Brownsburg, IN ... found a nice neighborhood to walk through with a little pond and waterfall

1142 - gas, $3.09/gallon, miles so far today = 183.4, Wendy's for lunch

1156 - after a whiny start, I am now enjoying a blessedly peaceful moment. I am listening to my music and all 3 kids are coloring. Any bets on how many seconds it will last? I'll be generous and say 10

12:02 pm - look - another VA car! Gee, there sure are a lot of bugs on his windshield. Oh wait - there are a lot of bugs on my windshield too that I just noticed. I must've been distracted by all the WHINING in the back. (though it is still quiet at the moment)

12:15 pm - Felisa gave up and went back to sleep

12:18 pm - passed a truck hauling pigs

12:19 pm - Reflecting on how to be better for Felisa ... can't really interact with her or give her things while I am driving. And of course I am constantly asking her to speak up since I can't hear her. I need a driver and a cruise director. It is impossible to do both at the same time when driving with a toddler and a pre-schooler. Ryan is self-sufficient enough and is old enough to play traveling games such as the license plate game (though we haven't played any yet - I'm saving them for emergencies!)

12:26 pm - Hmmm... an empty pig truck headed the other way. I wonder what that could mean... :)

12:27 pm - passed Turkey Run State Park. I remember going there when we lived in IL. A great place for a hiking day trip. Maybe someday we can take the kids there.

12:40 pm - Illinois!

12:46 pm - called Grandma to give her an update on our progress. She has been cooking beef and noodles. YUM!!!

12:55 pm - Bella is asleep too. Darn. I was hoping to stop in Mahomet and show the kids my old house. But is it really wise to wake them when we still have 3 hours to go? Probably not.

1:28 pm - lots of signs along the road for guns save

1:32 pm - Ryan asks, "Why are people so afraid of rats? They're just like mice." I just don't have a rational answer to that one so I won't even try. I'll just say it's because rats are bigger.

1:40 pm - Smack. Thwack. Thunk. The bugs are much bigger and juicier in IL!

1:52 pm - Turning onto I-55S wakes up Felisa. I was afraid of that.

2:03 pm - We are off the interstate! Hwy 136. On a separate note, I have noticed that there are not many trees around here. Lots of corn and soybeans though... And yes, they are soy beans, not green beans. I'm not sure when I realized this - fairly recently I'm sure. I know that growing up, on those many long drives to Grandma's house, I thought they were green beans. After all, that's what Grandma grows in her garden. And I probably didn't even know such a thing as a soy bean even existed.

2:55 pm - Stop in Havana for gas. $2.99/gallon. Asked the lady at the gas station where to find a park.

3:06 pm - found the park! Wow - so much easier than last night!

3:08 pm - Oh wait - it's not 3:00. It's 2:00. I forgot all about the time change. Cool. I just gained an hour. Maybe we'll make it in time for dinner after all!

2:53 pm - Back to the car. What a great use of our "found hour". I was able to call S and welcome her back to the country. I relaxed on the playground while the kids played. No rushing - just relaxing and getting a needed break from the road. While we were there, I was lying on my back on one of the platforms of the playground equipment with my feet propped up on the pole (gotta reverse the blood flow after sitting in the car for 2 days!). Here's a conversation between Felisa and I...
F: Mommy - you sitting on you head?
M: Mmmm-hmmm
F: Don't do that!
M: Okay. (while continuing to do just that...)
I feel so much better now. Thank you, Havana!

3:00 pm - cross the IL river

3:09 - Hey! I remember this corner from all those childhood drives. How weird is that! And I recognize it as a corner that says "We're almost there!"

3:41 pm - Stop at Nelson's Clothing in Macomb, IL to say hi to Aunt Lana at work before heading over to Grandma's. She shows us the map of where they are moving to. Northern SC - so much closer to us!

4:10 pm - Ryan's guess of how many miles we have travelled since leaving home = 900 (Was he listening when I said in the store we have gone 900 miles and have 900 more to go?)

4:41 pm - Good Hope, IL!!! We made it!

Mileage so far... 893 miles. Driving time... 8.5 hours yesterday, 9 hours today

Thursday, July 20, 2006

She ate my steak

Psycho dog strikes again. This time she ate my steak. Grrr....

I made dinner for the family then headed off to a class at the gym. I didn't want to eat before working out, especially since steak takes so long to digest. There's a story about that related to Ryan's delivery but I won't gross you out with that now. So anyway, Ron took the kids out for a walk after dinner. He left the plate of veggie kabobs uncovered on the counter. He covered the plate of steak with foil and left it next to the veggies. When they got back home, Bailey was gone (hiding under the bed upstairs!) and the steak was gone. All that was left was an empty plate surrounded by steak-juice pawprints all over the counter, aluminum foil on the floor, and a plate full of veggie kabobs. So I had veggies for dinner. And a piece of string cheese.

And now Bailey has been suffering from an upset tummy since Tuesday night. I say - serves her right. Next time, eat your own dog food. It was right there in your bowl the whole time!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I am no longer a nerd

Well, not a computer nerd anyway. I could still be considered one in other areas. And to prove how computer-clueless I am, I will now attempt to paste the image of my nerd score. Ready?

href="">" alt="I am nerdier than 9% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!">

For those who are wondering, it took me 5 tries of cut and paste before I gave up. The pretty picture isn't there but the link works. FYI, the instructions say "To place this image on your web page copy and paste this code:" Which I did. And it didn't work. But that's okay because I am "Definitely not nerdy, you are probably cool."

Monday, July 17, 2006


"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

Hmmm.... something I should keep in mind while on vacation this year. By the end of the trip west last summer I could no longer wear half of the clothes I had taken with me. That's how much weight I gained in just one month. Ick.

It's the sugar. I know it is. But I just can't stay away from it. I will keep trying but I just don't know how I will fare.

And think back to how good I looked in that picture on my cell phone that was taken a year and a half ago. I looked good. I could look good again...

Bad sugar. Go away.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A visit to the Purdstead

Richard has officially christened their new home, The Purdstead. Hee Hee. And the best part - I was there when it happened! That's right. In a fit of momentary brilliance (those moments are so few and far between and oh so fleeting!) I decided to deliver as many boxes as possible. Allie had been obviously upset when she called to give the "no moving truck available" news. Initially I figured I could take a couple boxes down with the kids sometime this week. A quick peek at the calendar showed something going on EVERY DAY this week. Hmmm... This is where the brilliance comes in, so please shield your eyes - I'm not doing anything today. And Ron's home so he can watch the kids which means I can take out the car seats and fit in more boxes. Am I brilliant, or what?!? :) I sold Ron on the idea, which he tweaked with his own (which are much more frequent of course) moment of brilliance - bring Ryan. Yes, perfect! Because then Ryan can play with John leaving me free to hang out with Allie!

So off I went. Several trips up and down the 2 flights of steps later, my van and Richard's car are loaded with all the essentials - sheets, towels, pans and dishes, light sabers, and the TV and VCR. A stop at the gas station and McD's then out to the highway to deal with *($#*$* traffic. But we made it. And the reaction I got (we didn't tell Allie I was coming!) made it all worthwhile!

So my review of the Purdstead...
Great house! Nice yard. Nice neighborhood. School right down the street. Good location (if you take away the distance-from-my-place factor the location is improved by all the essentials - AWESOME scrapbook store, Michaels, 2 steak places, Starbucks, Target, Barnes and Noble - all within a mile or two).

Can't wait for our official visit next month, with all the kids this time! And we'll even spend the night.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Too good to last

Ryan and Bella were playing together nicely while Felisa took a nap. I knew this was just too good to last and I was right... Ryan got mad at Bella because he was doing all the work (going up and down the stairs to fetch stuffed animals and plastic food). So he quit the game. Then she quit because he quit. And I was left with a living room full of blankets, animals, and plastic food.

And now they are cleaning it all up - because Ryan wants to watch more TV than the 10 minutes I gave him before clean up time and because I threatened Bella with no TV and no Grandma D for today if she didn't help.

Isn't it funny how they are never too tired to make a mess but always too tired to clean up?

Oh and Felisa is awake now too.

I know I can't dance

I was watching "So You Think You Can Dance" last night. My other dance show that I really like is "Dancing With the Stars". Ron asked me last night if I really liked watching dancing. I said Definitely. He then asked if I liked dancing. I said Yes. Even though I'm no good at it, I do enjoy learning the steps and then dancing what I've learned. One of the ladies at Cursillo danced with me at my birthday party. She said that she dances all the time (and she was really good!) and the best part for me was that she dances with her husband who does not dance well so she's used to leading a clueless partner around the dance floor. It was really fun. Renewed that desire within to learn to dance!

I was a cheerleader for one year in high school (shocker, I know since I really am not the cheerleader type!). I enjoyed the cheers and the dances we did even though I wasn't very good at it, the dancing especially. Coming to cheerleading late in life just doesn't work that well! But something about being in unison with a group is enjoyable to me in addition to dancing with a partner.

A friend of ours from college ROTC, Mary, was over for dinner one night last year and was telling us about how she also always wanted to learn to dance and so she had found a place and went once a week to class. Wow - I totally wanted to do the same thing when I heard about what she was doing. Of course the fact that she doesn't have any children yet makes it easier for her but if I could find a way to work it out, I would absolutely do it.

And, here's another selling point - dancing can be good exercise. I won't call it a sport. But definitely exercise. Especially since I am generally clutsy, uncoordinated, and not flexible, it would be hard work for me and therefore a good calorie burner.

So, what type of dancing? Line dancing (the group thing again!) and ballroom type dancing. Definitely not ballet. I don't know anything about jazz but think I could possibly like that one. There are jazzercise classes, you know! Hmmmmm.... maybe next year when all the kids are in school. Just might have to look into that one. And of course the Latin Dance Aerobics class at the rec center that I have been wanting to try out since last winter. I asked S to sign up with me but her schedule hasn't allowed it.

One of my dancing regrets... Northwestern offered ballroom dancing classes. Ron said he would do it with me but that I would have to pay his class fee. $40 was too much for me then. I foolishly thought that we could just do it sometime later. Ha. Never gonna happen, I think. Why oh why didn't I just cough up an extra $40 bucks?!? Those lessons would have come in handy on our mini-honeymoon when we attended the New Year's Eve dinner dance at the Broadmoor Hotel. And at a few weddings since then. I think I'll be kicking myself forever over that $40 decision!

Dance confession... Remember those square dancing and folk dancing classes we had to do in gym class growing up? I LIKED them! I'd do that type of dancing as well, given a chance.

So any advice for the dancer wanna-be in me?

We're Family

In the past 5 years-- Or is it 6 years now? Yikes! Anyway, in the past 5 or 6 years we have been blessed with a great group of friends. America being what it is these days, most people do not live near their extended family. Which means you have to build another family out of friends and neighbors where you live. This is not a replacement for your natural family - just an extension. We have built/grown an excellent local family of love, friendship and support. And now I have actual proof that we are in fact, family...

A couple weeks ago, I was over at Bill and Christy's place, hanging out in Christy's room while she was getting ready to go out. Bill came in from the garden, showered, then came out in his towel. "We're family," he said. True enough!

A few days later during our family friend beach weekend I was standing near the bathroom when Mark came out in his towel. "We're family," we said.

And now one last shower story... Eleanor came by yesterday evening to say goodnight to the kids. They were all in the bath. I was in the shower (not my usual shower time) and Ron was gone. So she ended up coming into the bathroom which she has done lots of times before when the kids are bathing. Nothing crazy - just hints of naked and a bit of surprise - but it's okay. Why? Because we're family! And I guess in a way this one is just an example of "turnabout is fair play". Ryan walked in on Eleanor a couple years ago while she was taking a bath, because he needed to go potty. Which he did. Then went back down to watch TV as if nothing unusual had happened.

So, do you have to be naked and freshly showered to find out who your new family is? No. But if happens to work out that way, you'll know!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


"It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding." -- Erma Bombeck

How many of you swore that "My kids will NEVER _______ (fill in the blank)!" Just a few of my nevers... have a dirty face, run around in mis-matched clothes, have uncombed hair, etc. And yet my dirty-faced, uncombed, occasionally mis-matched kids appear out in public almost daily! And when I see other similarly "afflicted" children out as well, I just smile because I am there too. Just taking it one day at a time...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Family Time

We had a nice evening yesterday. Good quality family time. We ate dinner together at the big table and after I cleaned the kitchen we watched Chicken Little down in the theater. Everyone. Even Ron.

While I still have a lot of things to do, I feel less pressured in the summer. Like I have more free time on my hands. Ryan and I have been playing cards a few afternoons a week after the girls go to Grandma D's and before I make dinner (or while dinner is cooking). I felt inspired to have a nice family evening even though we have Full Moon Day on Tuesday and will be doing a special activity then. Not sure why it seems like more time/less stuff to do. My daily tasks remain the same - cook, laundry, dishes. I still have 3 kids. But somehow not having to take them to school opens up more time. I have no idea why that works but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

So the whole Big Table thing... at last month's Full Moon activity (spending the night at the condo) we were eating all together there at the table. I don't remember how the subject came up but we were talking about how we don't eat together at home. Ron said it was because the big table is always covered with my junk ( a true fact). I said it was because Ron wouldn't sit with us even if the table was clear. So a challenge was issued... If I clean the table, he will eat there with us. Ron figured he was safe since we have eaten there maybe 10 times since we got the table a few years ago. Little did he know I had been wanting to have more family dinners, now that the kids are getting older and it is more important to have family time each day. I was just afraid that he wouldn't participate. Now I know that he will. So I cleaned the table (which has been done before) and have kept it clean for a couple weeks now (which usually doesn't happen). Now I just have to figure out a good schedule for having the girls here for dinner a few times a week. Usually they are at Grandma D's in the evenings. Of course, we will be gone for awhile this summer so it won't matter. Once school starts it will be easier to set a schedule that the girls will be home early on school nights and we will eat together then. The other nights we can do our usual "eat on the couch/kids table/computer table and watch TV" dinners.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Snuggly Cuddle-Bug

It's July. Summertime. HOT outside! And yet Felisa insists on wearing socks (must be payback from when she was one and I couldn't get her to keep them on!). This afternoon she also had on a big fuzzy robe. Because she was cold. Right... I don't believe her somehow. I think her need to snuggle in blankets and robes must be related to her great cuddle-bug skills. She is definitely the best hugger around and really likes to cuddle. Always melts me heart when she gives me a big squeeze.

In other news... went to Starbucks this morning. Was very disappointed that they didn't have any chocolate croissants. But the lady behind the counter was nice enough to look through all the boxes of goodies waiting on the counter (gotta have a lot of sweets for the weekend crowd!) and SHE FOUND ONE. In the last box. Woo-hoo! Definitely the little things in life that make the biggest difference sometimes.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Shuckin' Corn

So Ryan helped me shuck the corn this evening - the first time ever! He did pretty well though the "hair" was a little too tricky for him.

Back from the Beach

So we're back from the beach... tried to blog once while we were there but the wireless connection wasn't working for me. My computer technician was out in the kayak so wasn't available to advise me on my "operator errors" and then the moment has passed.

Lots to say but not sure where to start...

Had a great weekend hanging out with friends. Definitely something worth making into an annual tradition - Family Friend Beach Weekend. The kids of course had a blast. S's margaritas were PERFECT! The food was delicious. Fireworks were plentiful. We even ventured across the bridge to the Big Beach on the island - freezing cold ocean water with big waves and soft sand. My kids were apprehensive about the Big Beach (knocked over too many times when they were babies) but ended up LOVING it. Bummer for me since I hate the big production of packing up to get there but glad they liked it. Except for Felisa. She was done after about 20 minutes but that's pretty much par for the course for her. Except of course on Monday when we were counting on her giving up early so that I could take her home and start packing up/cleaning up the house to leave while the big kids stayed with Ron at the Little Beach a while longer. After 45 minutes we had to drag her away.

There's lots more to tell but it will have to wait until later...