Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are We There Yet?

It was shocking really.

One of my best friends randomly met a college buddy. It was especially odd because I have moved out-of-state four times since college, and now live far enough away that my girlfriend has never met anyone else from my home state. In fact, that is why she mentioned meeting Sam at all.

Imagine the surprise when the only two people she knows from the whole state, know each other. What are the odds?

My girlfriend has gotten to know Sam better over the last few months. Therefore, she asked what I was like 20 years ago back in school. I have completely lost contact since college, so Sam asked about me now.

Intriguing isn’t it. Having two important people in my life – who knew me during different periods of my life – describe ME to each other. Narcissistic most definitely. But my ears were burning to hear more.

I would describe myself as being brought up in a small, rural part of mid-America. I learned wholesome values about family, hard work, and relating to people. Not much about fine arts, culture, fashion or style. We didn’t have much money. We didn’t go anywhere or have many things. That was OK. We were a content family. I had a happy childhood. I nearly stayed “there.” Then, half way through college something clicked for me. I was ready to move on. That is when I met Sam.

I agree with Sam. I was unusually self-driven. Mostly determined to make something of myself and have some money in the bank so I could do things my parents never did, like travel abroad.

I was a crazy, hard worker. Supported myself 100% from the day I left home for college. I held down 3 jobs at the same time to do it. NEVER went on a Spring Break trip, rushed a sorority, or even lived in the dorms, because my budget didn’t allow for it.

No leg up. No real anchor or direction, let alone a head start on life. I was an average student who started completely from scratch. Yet, I desperately wanted to know more about the world and understood that the only resource I could tap to do that was ME.

Paraphrasing, Sam described me as being uncomfortably driven and pretty much obnoxiously aggressive when it came to preparing for my future. That is fair. Looking back, I see now my actions and thought processes were over-the-top.

But it worked for me. I went places. I did things. I met interesting people.

Fast forward 15 years.

My best friend described me today. I am a stay-at-home mom who hasn’t worked professionally for over 8 years. Still chronically over scheduled managing my family and completely absorbed in the lives of my two wonderful children. Any free time is filled with various volunteer activities. That is the snapshot my life. Fair enough.

Sam was shocked….and so was I. Actually took the air right out of me. To be honest, it squashed my spirit. How did I get from there to here?
Is this it for me? All the hard work and all the years investing in my future, and I have nothing to show for it. I have left no mark on the vapor of those 15 years of my adult life.

I know. I know. Mothering is vital. Most important and meaningful job I will ever have. I will never regret the memories of being home with my children. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I hear you, and get it. Feel the same way too. Deeply and passionately feel it. In fact, I am very happy as a SAHM. Love it! TRULY! Honestly, I aspire to no more.

Ah Haaaa!!!! There it is -- the most shocking part.
Did you miss it? Let me say it again.
I aspire to no more.

Shocking! Did I just go back “there?”
Is this the last, best description of me?

Are we there yet?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lessons in the Desert

Day 3 - June 28, 2008 (Exactly one year ago today)

When we woke up, the wind was still blowing, hard. Holding the door of the pop-up against the wind, I looked out over an incredible landscape. We had camped inside of Badlands National Park. Beyond the lush prairie of wildflowers lay the unique desert formations that can only be the Badlands. Wow. We’re here.

We decided that I would drop my husband, Andrew, and Gladys off at the Castle trailhead. Two hours later I would pick them up on the other side. It was so windy when I dropped them off that we could only manage to open one door of the van at a time. Yes, he was sure he wanted to go with the kids. Yes, he had water for each of them. I took pictures of them heading off, then drove back to the main road.

What do you do with a toddler in the desert on a windy day? Hmm, two hours.

I stopped at an overlook, then another. I took in the beautiful scenery. At one pull-off, I took pictures of the wildflowers. I was lying on the desert floor trying to get the best shot, when another car pulled in ahead of me. A girl jumped out of the side door and ran into the desert toward a rock formation. A split second later, an older man (in his early 70’s??) leapt from the car with a camera. I saw him run down a little hill, and then immediately disappear.

I craned my neck.

Finally, the man stood back up, brushing himself off. Not seeing anyone else in the car, I stood in my door to ask him if he was okay. He laughed.

“Yes, I’m fine, just dirtied my trousers a bit. I was trying to get a picture of her on that rock.”

He smiled broadly. I smiled and scolded.

“Well, serves you right for gallivanting through the desert like that.”

He laughed again. “My wife and I used to come through here with our kids when they were little. I’m finally able to show my granddaughter. She’s never been here.”

I looked. The girl was about seven or so. “It is a priority for us to travel with our children too, there is so much to see and learn.”

He looked over my shoulder, by now George was asleep between two empty car seats.

“My 5 and 3 year old are hiking with their dad.” He nodded approvingly.

“How old is your granddaughter?” I asked looking again at the young girl.

“Oh, my granddaughter is in the car, that’s my great-granddaughter.”

My jaw dropped so suddenly, no one could have interpreted it as anything but an honest reaction. He took it as the compliment that it was.

“I’m 88 years old,” he said with pride.

I shook my head and smiled. “I guess we should all spend more time gallivanting through the desert.”

After two hours, and still contemplating my youthfulness, I headed back to pick up my husband and kids. I knew they wouldn’t be there yet, but I would spend time at the fossil trail across the street. As I drove up, I saw a bouncy, curly-headed Gladys coming through the rocks with big brother and dad at her heels. I took George out of the car and let him walk across the desert towards them. He loved the rocks. “Mommy! Mommy!” they finally saw us “we saw all sorts of rocks, and cactuses, and a snake and, and, and . . . it was SO cool!!“

I guess we all learned something in the desert.

I wrote this last year after our vacation. I did not have a public blog at the time. I am posting this on a timer before I leave. - MIT Mommy

Friday, June 26, 2009

My New 'Do

Hey guys. I'm Anna, and you have probably seen my many sarcastic comments on this blog. Well, now I'm writing a post. Thank you, MIT Mommy! If you didn't know, MIT Mommy is my aunt. Be shocked! Isn't that awesome? So I can catch up what's happening up in Cleveland (a 6-hour car ride away) just by hitting a few buttons on my Inspiron 1520. Well, now everyone can catch up with me in glorious Baltimore, Maryland. Isn't that lovely and deep? Reading insightful insights into the insightful life of a middle-schooler...

Okay, I'm getting a bit carried away.

So the title on this post is "My New 'Do". Why? Because "My New Hairstyle" sounds weird. Also, because I got a new hairdo. Why? Because I can. And there's nothing you can do about it.

So I went to the salon on a Wednesday evening. It was about four o'clock, and kind of rainy. I sat down on the little sofa with my hairdresser and told her what I wanted her to do with my hair.

First, I wanted my eyebrows ripped.

Second, I wanted my split ends trimmed.

Third, I wanted my hair dyed blue.
Not completely blue. Just like a few highlights.
She nodded and said something like, "Okay. Blue hair. Okay." She also looked at me like I was a strange little girl.

At seven o'clock that night, my hair and eyebrows looked superultrafantabulous. My sister hated it at first, but then it 'grew on her' and now she thinks it looks superultrafantabulous, too. When my dad first saw it, he just got kind of quiet and didn't say much. (My mom told me later that he didn't like that 'stuff'. He's really conservative. Which is another way of torturing your children.) My mom says that it's "just a stage." I beg to differ. She also says it's better than piercings or tattoos. This, dear mother, I agree on.

At seven o'clock the next morning, I got on the school bus to get to school.

At eight o'clock that morning, my friends almost passed out laughing at me. I passed my crush talking to his friends in the hallway. All I caught him saying was "blue hair." My mom's friend, our school's special education teacher, loved it.

Maybe blue hair could be a new trend.

And now for my photo section. I have two pictures. I have no idea if they will upload, but I am crossing my fingers. So...if they don't show up, don't get angry or anything.

This is me with blue hair. It took about forever and a half to figure out how to blur out my face. Since I have no Photoshop on my computer, I had to make do with Photo Impression, Paint, and my webcam. There is a big purple question mark on my face, because I am really paranoid.

(And remember, this is after like five showers and a week. It doesn't look as good as the first day.)

This is the replacement color that I bought yesterday at the ULTA. You're supposed to use it to make your whole head blue. But that would look a tad bit ugly, no? So I'm going with highlights (again). If my dad lets me.

Well, this concludes my post. But before I say au revoir, I have one thing to ask you...SHOULD I DO PINK NEXT TIME? Lol. Well, I hope to see everyone in the comments section! <3,>

MIT's Funny Bone Friday

I do this thing over on my own blog (Flea's World) called Funny Bone Monday. Because this is not my blog, however, I cannot use that title here. It's taken, you see. So. Today we have Funny Bone Friday, the MIT edition. I hope you enjoy.

An engineer thinks that his equations are an approximation to reality. A physicist thinks reality is an approximation to his equations. A mathematician doesn't care.

    I do not think -- therefore I am not.

    Here is the illustration of this principle:
    One evening Rene Descartes went to relax at a local tavern. The tender approached and said, "Ah, good evening Monsieur Descartes! Shall I serve you the usual drink?". Descartes replied, "I think not.", and promptly vanished.

Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules.
Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives.

Lovely math jokes can be found here


Top Ten Reasons to Date an Engineer?
  1. The world does revolve around us... We pick the coordinate system.
  2. Find out what those other buttons on your calculator do.
  3. We know how to handle stress and strain in our relationships.
  4. Parents will approve.
  5. Help with your math homework.
  6. Can calculate head pressure.
  7. Looks good on a resume.
  8. Free body diagrams.
  9. High starting salary.
  10. Extremely good looking

Top Ten Reasons Not To
  1. T-shirt and jeans are their formal dress. Hot dog and a six-pack is their seven-course meal.
  2. The only social life known of is to post and talk on the net.
  3. Flames like a monster and speaks like a pussycat.
  4. Works from 6:30am to 7:30pm daily. No morning kisses and no evening walks.
  5. No matter how hard you cry and how loud you yell, he just sits there calmly discussing your emotion in terms of mathematical logic.
  6. Only listens to classic rock. Hates everything from Bach to Prince.
  7. Touches his car more often than you.
  8. Talks in acronyms.
  9. Can't leave that darn pencil off his ear for a minute.
  10. Will file for divorce if you call him in the middle of debugging.

An engineering joke (oldie, but a goodie)

A man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said: "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess".

He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said: "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week."

The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out: "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want". Again the man took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked: "What is the matter ? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me ?"

The man said, "Look I'm a software engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool."

Fun engineering humor found here


Look, all this technical intelligent humor bores me. Let's skip to the fun, shall we? Geek humor!


ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about
buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write
proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm
sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "W" if you don't start with some
straight answers! What about financial. You have anything I can track my

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


A few days later . . . . . . .

ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START" !!!!!

This one's my favorite, y'all. You know you're a redneck Jedi if ...

You ever heard the phrase, "May the force be with y'all."

Your Jedi robe is a camouflage color.

You have ever used your light saber to open a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill.

At least one wing of your X-Wings is primer colored.

You have bantha horns on the front of your land speeder.

You can easily describe the taste of an Ewok.

You have ever had an X-wing up on blocks in your yard.

You ever lost a hand during a light saber fight because you had to spit.

The worst part of spending time on Dagobah is the dadgum skeeters.

Wookies are offended by your B.O.

You have ever used the force to get yourself another beer so you didn't have to wait for a commercial.

You have ever used the force in conjunction with fishing/bowling.

Your father has ever said to you, "Shoot, son come on over to the dark side...it'll be a hoot."

You have ever had your R-2 unit use its self-defense electro-shock thingy to get the barbecue grill to light.

You have a confederate flag painted on the hood of your landspeeder.

Although you had to kill him, you kinda thought that Jabba the Hutt had a pretty good handle on how to treat his women.

You have ever accidentally referred to Darth Vader's evil empire as "them damn Yankees."

You have a cousin who bears a strong resemblance to Chewbacca.

You suggested that they outfit the Millennium Falcon with red wood deck.

You were the only person drinking Jack Daniels on the rocks during the cantina scene.

You can find more fun geek humor here


And because it's traditional, I must include a video. Because I can, I include one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Until I comment next ...


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All That's Fit to Print

Hello Mosquitos! MIT Mommy has asked one of her less erudite friends, I, the Good Flea, to fill in while she's away. Silly woman, asking me to pinch hit. What was she thinking?

She was thinking comedic value, is what she was thinking. Well it's not going to happen. Not here. Not today. I have nothing amusing to bring to the MIT table. All heady, solemn things for you, gentle readers.

Let's start with ... oh let's start with world news and events, shall we? There's nothing quite as stimulating as headlines.

It's good to see that investigators have determined the cause of the Air France disaster. I sometimes worry that these things aren't taken seriously. Quoting from the AP:

"We can now say, with complete confidence, that Air France Flight 447 was brought down by an unscheduled and unforeseen plane crash," lead French investigator Michel Villon stated. "Indeed, a survey of all the evidence indicates that this terrible tragedy was the direct result of a large airliner falling suddenly from the sky, dropping 30,000 feet, and colliding with the Atlantic Ocean at extremely high speeds."

See? What did I tell you? Really intelligent stuff.

On the U.S. job front, I'm sure we all know people who've lost jobs, maybe even careers. You may count yourself as one of those. If so, my heartfelt consolences. There's been a lot said and written about it of late, but I found this particular article quite illuminating. My favorite helpful quote concerning the statistical data is:

"One 18-to-29-year-old woman said she was a real person with a real name and real problems that could not possibly be adequately conveyed using cold-blooded numbers," he recalled. "Unfortunately, her responses were within the margin of error of plus- or minus-3 percent, so she didn't count."

Moving on. Here in the U.S., parts of the country have seen far more rain than they find comfortable. Personally, I'd welcome a shower or two here in 101 degree Tulsa. For a little perspective, I invite you all to visit a blog from an area where the rain seems to be non-stop.

That covers the weather as well. Hmph.

But entertainment - that's where things really start to heat up. I must make a small confession. Prior to last June, I had zero interest in celebrities or any entertainment related media. Last June, however, I began work at my local crazy hospital. Night shift. Best time to work is during the full moon. REALLY. And the TV seems to be on all the time, always covering the Beautiful People. So. That said, let's gossip?

Anyone out there read Catcher in the Rye? Don't hate me because I haven't, please. Or hate. All you like. A recent movie has brought famed author, J.D. Salinger, back into the spotlight. Check it out - he discusses whether or not he'll ever publish again:

When asked what he thought of today's novelists, and whether he had plans to publish any new work, Salinger replied that he loved it when the helicopter crashes and John Connor gets grabbed by that terminator that's only half a torso, and then he blows it away with the mounted machine gun.

See? Riveting stuff. I might just have to see the newest Terminator film now.

I'm spent. Thanks for tuning in today.

Until I write again (because I'll be back) ...


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The internet's bad rap

Another day, another guest blogger. That would be me, Brigette Russell of Moralia, pinch hitting for MIT Mommy while she's away on her three week internet-free vacation. If you can call being away from the internet for three weeks a vacation, that is. Personally, I'd call it the first, or maybe even the second, circle of Hell.

But MIT Mommy's being a good sport about it all, wrote a clever post called My wireless, analog laptop before she left, with a photo of a journal and a pen. Her husband wanted her to leave the world wide web behind on their trip, and being a devoted, loving wife, she agreed. I'd have probably said, "Oh, honey, you have such a clever, off-beat sense of humor!" and packed up my laptop and wireless card.

Then again, my husband would never ask me for such a sacrifice, since he's even more of an internet addict than I am. Three weeks off-line? I think it would kill the poor man.

All this got me thinking about the Luddite strain in our culture that deplores the internet as something that is somehow corrupting us. Google makes us dumber. So does Facebook. Becoming accustomed to the convenience of a BlackBerry makes you some kind of sick addict, hence the term CrackBerry. Pompous academic windbags repeat all of the above, but in more tortuous language.

Despite the fact that it's full of disgusting porn, unsubstantiated Wikipedia articles, spam and bad writing, I love the internet. I don't have to look at the parts of it that are distasteful to me (Yahoo mail does a great job of spam filtering, so I don't have to see the obscene photos in the spam e-mails I used to get on Earthlink) and its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks.

I read quite a few newspapers online, and not a single tree is felled bringing them to me. I save countless hours and gallons of gas doing most of my shopping online. I keep in touch with a great many friends who have moved away (or stayed put while I moved away), friends with whom I might have lost touch if we had to rely on mail and long distance phone calls. Since I have four small children, my telephone time is limited. As any mother will tell you, the quickest way to turn a child who is calmly entertaining herself into an attention-starved monster is to pick up the telephone.

And then there are the friends I would never have made if it weren't for the internet. Friends like MIT Mommy. Friends like the moms on my baby lists. These are e-mail lists I joined when I was pregnant with my first and second babies. Each list contains 10 or 11 ladies who have become really good friends over the past 8 and 6 years, respectively. Some of us have met in real life, others remain online-only friends, but friends we are.

The internet is what you make of it. Some people use it for pursuits that may indeed make them dumber. Others use it to enrich their lives in countless ways -- and still have friends in real life, and still read books, and still do all the things people did before the internet existed (except maybe do some of the dreary, tiresome shopping we had to do in person, and kill a lot of trees to read the newspaper).

MIT Mommy is one of those who uses the internet to enrich and uplift rather than to degrade and dumb down. I hope she's enjoying her internet-free vacation. I also hope that next year she gets to bring a laptop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adventures in Hypermiling

Hi, I'm MIT Mommy.  I am an MIT alum, a mom and I brainwash engineer my kids.  No wait!  There can be only one.  Will the real MIT Mommy please stand up?  The truth is that this impersonator is the ever geeky Angela at mommy bytes.

While the real MIT Mommy is off guzzling gas on vacation, this MIT mommy obsesses over gas mileage with her spreadsheets.  Ever since the days of Lotus 1-2-3 (for those who remember the DOS days), I have kept spreadsheets for every car that I've owned.  I track every tank of gas going into each car, including the number of gallons and price per gallon, in order to track gas mileage and gas price per mile.  Here is a glimpse into my insanity.

When gas prices skyrocketed last year, I realized that I could create my own chart of gas prices because I had years of data!  Here is the price per gallon for regular gas in New England over the past 8 years.

From this chart, you can see that in December 2008, gas prices returned to their lowest levels since 2003, but they are creeping back up again.  When gas prices hit $4 per gallon last year, a friend of mine told me how he has been getting 20% higher gas mileage by hypermiling.  There are moderate to extreme techniques to hypermiling, but the one that fascinated me the most was to coast down hills in neutral. 

In my car (a BMW 325 xiT), there is an instantaneous gas mileage gauge at the bottom of the tachometer as well as an average mileage readout.  When I coast down hills in gear, the instantaneous gauge is pinned to the extreme left (100+ mpg?).  But when I coast in neutral, the gauge reads somewhere around 80 mpg.  From these observations, I assumed that it took more gas to spin the engine in neutral because of the nominal load of the engine friction.  However, it only spins at idle speed of 600 rpm, as opposed to 2k-3k when in gear.  All those extra cycles eat up more gas even though the transmission is helping the engine, right?  Obviously, empirical testing was in order.

BMW 325xiT gauge display
(I took this photo while driving, do not attempt this at home unless you are a professional MIT mommy smile_wink)

It is absolutely true that you get better gas mileage when you coast down hills in neutral.  It could be that you go much farther without having to apply gas again than you would in gear.  It could be that the gauge isn't telling the whole truth.  Either way, I have taken to coasting down hills in neutral whenever I can.

There is a long rolling hill on the way home from work that I used to just drive in gear, applying gas without thinking about it.  Now I know that when I see a particular Blind Driveway sign, it's time to shift into neutral.  I usually start out around 40 mph and coast up and down this rolling hill, with my speed varying between 35 and 45 mph.  I leave enough space between the car in front of me because nothing annoys me more than cars that brake going downhill and accelerate going uphill, the complete opposite of hypermiling (would that be hypomiling?).  This road ends going uphill, where I have to stop and turn.  If there are no cars behind me, I try to coast all the way to the stop sign.  When the car slows to 25 mph, it feels deathly slow.  At 20 mph, you can see me nudging my seat to get the car to move faster.  But it does eventually reach the stop sign, even though the last 50 feet seem to take hours.  Usually a car shows up behind me, forcing me to use some gas and saving me from hypermiling insanity.

In all the other hypermiling areas, I fail miserably.  I can't accelerate from a stop slowly (other than being obsessive with spreadsheets, I like to do things fast fast fast).  I don't think it is safe to draft larger vehicles or to over-inflate tires.  It is way too much bother to shut off the car at lights.  But I do like taking ramps at close to full speed, wouldn't that be the point of having a BMW?

Hopefully, the gas prices won't spike during the real MIT Mommy's travels and she will have fun but sane stories to share with us.  Happy trails everyone!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Our Perspectives Change!

Hello! from an MIT papa as I write this guest blog for my good friend MIT Mommy. The fact that she is currently on vacation out west with her family reminds me of an upcoming trip I will be taking with my older daughter, her husband and their two children.

We too will be heading west, flying to El Paso, where lives my late wife's brother and his family. We will visit Carlsbad Caverns, then depart westward from El Paso through Tucson, Phoenix and on to Grand Canyon for a couple of days. We will then pass through Four Corners on the way to Mesa Verde, before heading back down to Phoenix for a couple of days and then home.

Carlsbad Caverns and the El Paso to Mesa Verde portion of the trip will be "deja vu all over again", to quote Yogi Berra, for my daughter. My wife and I and our daughters covered the exact same territory when the girls were 13 and 11. We had a wonderful time! Not entirely coincidentally, the grandchildren are 13 and nearly 11.

Here's the fun of it! As I drove mile after mile of the southwest, my wife and daughters were mainly reading books they had brought along or bought when they ran out of those. From time to time I would say "Look, girls, at those beautiful mountains, or that pretty waterfall, or whatever." They would look up briefly from their books, say "yuck!", and go back to their reading. Yet as my older daughter was talking up our upcoming trip, and its car ride, with her own children a couple of weeks ago, I heard her say "The scenery is spectacular!" How does she know?! Needless to say I did not call her on that in front of the grandchildren!

Carlsbad Caverns will be interesting too! As you enter the caverns, the opening in the hillside is very big, and the trail heads down steeply with a railing on the side where there is a fall-off. Our daughters were fascinated looking over the railing, and with the whole descent. My wife and mother-in-law, who was with us, were worried the whole time that the girls would fall. More recently, my wife and I accompanied our younger daughter, her husband and their two sons, aged 6 and 3, to the same caverns. This time our daughter, now a parent, was petrified that her boys might fall! She told us right then and there that she couldn't believe she hadn't been afraid when she was there as a chilld, that she had forgotten how much of a drop there was, and if she had remembered she might not have wanted to come again. I will be interested to see how my older daughter reacts when we visit there shortly!

Isn't it fascinating how our perspectives change as parents! I'm guessing that you have, or will, make similar discoveries. Anyway, have a safe and enjoyable summer! You too, MIT Mommy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Here we move again . . .

First, I should introduce myself.  I am MIT Mommy’s BFF from high school.  We have, generally speaking, known each other since the 7th grade, although we have had quite a hiatus and have recently been reunited thanks to Facebook.   Don’t let anyone tell you social networking sites have no intrinsic value – reconnecting with your BFF:  Priceless.

I am, among other things, the wife of a career Marine Corps officer and the mom of two girls (10 and 6).  I am expecting our third child in early October.  We also have two dogs, a greyhound and a Bouvier de Flandres.   We have a lot of stuff.  I am taking inventory of everyone because it’s moving time.  Again.

As a military family, we move a lot.   I believe the longest we have lived anywhere is about three years, which also means that on occasion, we move really quickly.  This time, we’re moving after 10 months. 

We have moved across the continental US, to Hawaii and back, and all up and down the East Coast.   My first with children move was a solo cross-country flight with a lone six-week old.  Three and a half years later, I had a five-week old, a three-year old and two Doberman Pinchers (one of whom was nearly left on the tarmac at LAX in my full, post-partum, hysterical view) to relocate from Hawaii to northern Virginia in the winter, with nothing warmer than a jean jacket among us.  I have driven from Virginia to Michigan with two children and two dogs, one of whom was both anxiety-stricken and carsick most of the time, while my husband cruised solo in his truck.   Moving is stressful and at times unpleasant, and I have already considered that I picked a bad time to not be able to have a glass of wine. 

All that said, we have been incredibly enriched by all of this nomadic activity.  I have been repeatedly moved (no pun intended) by how kind people have been to us.  I have had near strangers do everything from pick up some milk at the store for me to offer to help me unpack my kitchen when the movers came.  While there really is no act of kindness too small, if anyone ever asks you if they can help you unpack your kitchen, TAKE THEM UP ON IT!!  

This time around, I know that I will be surprised and touched by how nice people are.  They will thank my husband for his service and often, thank me as well.  We are always grateful for those thanks.  They will entertain my kids in a long line somewhere when we’ve been in a car for 8 hours and they are missing the friends they just left and wondering if there’s a chance they’ll meet anyone nice at the new place (they will).  Someone will, someday soon, let me know where I can get a decent haircut and will tell me the name of their stylist, if I am really lucky.  Don’t let anyone tell you that the hardest part of moving is the packing and unpacking.  It’s finding a hairdresser.  Ditto for babysitters. 

So, off we go again.  The packers will be here Friday to help us begin the adventure.  No doubt, there will be some tears and some grumpiness along the way, but in the end, we will laugh and get on with another new chapter in our lives.  I’m almost excited about it . . . almost.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Magic

Summer vacations were a magical time for me when I was growing up. I’ve never forgotten that feeling of immense freedom as I got off the school bus for the last time at the end the school year. The end of summer and the start of the next school year was nothing but a faint thought in my mind, if it even was there at all.

My summer-mind was always a whirlwind of all the things I had plans to do. In addition to the activities that just about every boy does during his summer vacation (which, other than getting scrapes and grass stains, is testing the limits of his mother’s patience), my parents always packed my sisters and I up in the car to go camping for a week or two.

Whenever I think about my childhood, the memories I have about camping are some of the best ones I have.We made tie-died t-shirts and competed in sand sculpture contests. We ate countless hot dogs and hamburgers. We cooked pizza’s over the campfire in my great-grandfather’s unique campfire oven. We got sunburns and bug bites but miraculously avoided poison ivy. We got rained on and nearly flooded out, and learned the hard way about the benefit of properly hung tarpaulins. We went fishing and often caught more trees than fish. We went swimming until our fingers wrinkled and learned how to dive off the dock. We went canoeing and paddle-boating, and watched our mother water-ski that one time. We played board games and seemingly endless rounds of Twenty Questions by the campfire at night. We made s’mores and got scolded for making torches out of flaming marshmallows. We found that loud, snoring neighbors makes for a late-night giggle-fest.

As my sisters and I grew older, we went camping less and less as our summer schedules filled up with extracurricular activities and summer jobs. I was lucky enough to find a woman who loves camping as much as I do, and we have spent many nights under the stars. We even went camping for our honeymoon. I hope you’ve had a good time making memories with your family, MIT Mommy.

I look forward to hearing all about them when you come back.

Badass Geek