Thursday, June 30, 2005

You Know You Live in Hawaii When...

by Anne Zelenka
... you see an article titled "Spam can help prod people to better health" and you think it's talking about the Spam that comes 10 for $10 on sale at Safeway. Now that we live on Maui, Rick takes Spam sandwiches in his lunch bag and he recently discovered Spam Musubi--a kind of Spam sushi involving grilled Spam on top of sticky rice wrapped with nori. Hawaiians have the highest SPAM consumption rate in the world: four cans per person per year. Just another way in which moving to Maui has expanded my perspective.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Individual Noncompetitive Sports

by Anne Zelenka
Anna went to her second gymnastics class today, reluctantly. She told me she would only watch. I'm a pro at handling shy/anxious kids after raising Henry to age nine so I told her, "that's fine, we'll go and watch and if it looks like fun, you can give it a try." In the second half of class, she decided to join in for the balance beam. I know it was scary for her but she was exhilarated when she was finished. I love watching kids working through their fears. The only thing that marred it was her otherwise very nice coach saying as she gave Anna a sticker, "next time you need to work the whole time so you can EARN a sticker."

I think Anna did earn a sticker--it was a major achievement to get out there despite her anxiety. It's not like the sticker is an "A" grade or something allegedly based on merit.

Anyway, I love watching the various gymnastics class that take place while Anna's four and five-year-old group has their class. There's the three-year-olds--not too interesting. The older kids interest me. There's a group of four to five teenagers each week, a few girls and one boy. I noticed a heavier girl for the first time this week and wondered how she'd do. She was great! She had excellent form and did all the tricks--back flips, back handsprings--unlike some leaner kids in the class. She made me realize I don't need to lose ten pounds before I can do a handstand in yoga. Darn, I was counting on that excuse.

Then there were the elementary school age boys. One was kind of heavy; another so skinny he looked like he had no muscle mass at all. The thin one had coke-bottle glasses too. But they all gamely completed their versions of round-offs and cartwheels and even back handsprings, with a lot of help from the coach. There was no making fun of each other, just a lot of hard work, even though some of the kids were struggling awkwardly.

In most of the gymnastics classes, the point is not to become a world-famous gymnast. Of course there are children who are talented and driven and working towards something like that. But most of them are just there having fun and challenging themselves, not competing with anyone.

I'm a real fan of individual sports, especially of the just-for-fun not-for-competition variety. I know team sports have their place--they develop the ability to work with other people for a common goal and involve more socializing. And I know competitive individual sports have their merits. But I'm happy enough to have my kids stick with casual gymnastics and karate and the like for the rest of their childhoods.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friends

by Marjorie
I just wanted to link to a post on Donna's blog that I really enjoyed about friends. She mentions how it seems like its harder to make friends as we get older. I agree -- it seemed so easy long ago. Then again, maybe it really wasn't any easier.

Anyway, I often think in terms of 'time and place' friends and real friends. T&P friends are those people we share time and place with but the friendship fades soon after the time and/or place changes. I had some really nice friends from my various places of work -- I really enjoyed them, but didn't keep up with any of them. I had some new mom friends that seem to have faded away. Life goes on, I'm glad I shared time and place with them but things change and I made new friends, some T&P, but some maybe be in for the long haul.

It makes me really appreciate my husband, who is my best friend and (barring some indescretion which would ruin his life and cost him a lot of money) with whom I'll spend the rest of my life. But, he's not a girl and I need girlfriends, too. I really cherish the friends I have -- how lucky I am. Life is a lot less lonely when you've got friends.

I guess this post is just a note of affection to Anne, with whom I shared time and place -- but whose friendship is continuing beyond that. I'm lucky to have you.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Chastised! Episode II: Revenge of the Pith

by Marjorie
I've been thinking about my last post in which I was chastised by a stranger for using sarcasm with my child. While there was probably nothing worthwhile I could have said to my critic, I am now in the process of considering pithy responses. Today's incident was not a Costanza moment for me ("oh yeah? Well I slept with your wife!"). I would never want to actually say any of these but its sure empowering for me to think about it.

Responses to "children don't understand sarcasm":

"Shouldn't we do something about that?"

"Oh, was I being sarcastic with my kids?"

"They would if you used sarcasm as much as I do"

"How else am I supposed to entertain myself?"

"Thats nothing, you should hear me at home."

"Hey, I'm not coddling my kids. Its a tough world out there."

"You're assuming I want them to understand what I'm saying."

"Oh, and I guess I shouldn't tell her when she's being a bitch either."

"Oh dear, and I really thought I was a shoo-in for Mother of the Year"

"Its alright, I'm a homeschooler."


Responses to any unsolicited parenting advice:

"That which doesn't kill them, makes them stronger."

"Don't worry, the State has already assigned a social-worker to monitor our family."


Have a pithy comeback ? Share it here!

UPDATE: I'm having too much fun with this, I keep thinking of additional responses

"I'll take it under advisement." -- legalese for 'screw you'

"Thanks for the advice, you will now be mocked on the internet."

"I was raised with sarcasm and I turned out fine."

Chastised!

by Marjorie
We went on a field trip today to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I love the cathedral and have visited many times -- my brother was even ordained there. The field trip was through a homeschooling field trip group to which we belong -- all homeschooled kids from babies to about 6.

When I go into public with my kids, I feel like Greg Focker in the water volleyball scene from the movie Meet the Parents. They are playing volleyball and he keeps missing or flubbing shots and everyone gives him a hard time about it -- he finally gets mad and spikes a shot -- it hits the bride-to-me right in the face. "Its only a game, Focker" is derisively yelled at him. He can't win. When I'm out with my kids, I can't win -- I'm either too uptight and people give me the vibe that I need to relax or I'm too relaxed and I encounter uptight people who want me to rein in the kids. I don't really enjoy going out in public when its just me and the kids because of this -- plus, its exhausting, but I joined the group because my girls like it and maybe I can learn how to behave. When my DH is home, we often go out but that's a different dynamic -- I have a helper and an ally.

At the end of our field trip, we went into the gift shop. I was worried about my kids and breakable things but my kids are not destructive so I wasn't too worried. There were some toys my kids were looking at, but I moved them along so I could look at some sale books.

An older woman sidles up to me as I'm thumbing through a picture book. She says something along the lines of "kids don't understand sarcasm. I know because I'm a grandmother. Its a big 'no-no.'" I don't know what I said to her, maybe something like "oh, okay." I was trying to think of what I had said that was sarcastic. I figured I was already being sanctioned for being a bad mom and that admitting that I had no idea what I had said would be further evidence of bad mothering. I was also thinking that my oldest is beginning to learn what sarcasm is because we've discussed it. Only about 40 minutes earlier, she had actually asked me "mom, are you being sarcastic?" Again, I thought this is probably evidence of bad mothering since it would show that whatever sarcasm I had just used was not an isolated incident. Thus, I went with "oh, okay."

I seriously picked my brain for the next hour trying to identify what sarcasm I used. I think it might have been when my younger DD was looking at some soft, stacking blocks and she showed them to me. I said something about them being nice and maybe I said "just what I need, more toys in the house" or something to that effect. I'd also argue that I wasn't actually saying it to the child, but I'm guessing that muttering sarcastic comments around the kids is another bad mother indicator.

I agree that belittling comments are not to be used with children and that can include a certain kind of pointed, mean sarcasm. My sarcasm tends to be light-hearted and along the lines of "oh, just what I need." I also talk to myself -- out loud -- a lot. I know I've used it at home when my DH is around and he lets me know when I'm out of line, so I think I'm okay, but I'm interested to know what you think.

Oh well, its probably karma from the non-pregnant woman incident.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

More Potty Blogging

by Anne Zelenka

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What Do I Think?

by Marjorie
What do you care? I can't help but feel this post is an exercise in narcissism because it seems like we have better things to discuss here. Since I raised the issue of feeling misunderstood about my educational philosophy, perhaps its time for me to explain where I'm coming from. I come from the position that prepositions are perfectly acceptable words to end a sentence with. (Seriously, there is a great controversy on that very matter but nevermind).

I plan to homeschool my kids. My oldest just turned 5 and I'll be filing my Notice of Intent to homeschool her for kindergarten in the fall -- we didn't send her to preschool. We don't plan to send my younger dd to preschool. We're taking it year by year and we'll do what works best for our children.

There are lots of reasons why we've made this decision but the first and foremost was that we wanted freedom. We don't want to be tied down to the school day, the school year, or a curriculum that might not suit our children's needs -- whether it is too fast, too slow, or simply not interesting to them. I know the counter-arguments and we've made our choice carefully. We plan to take an interest driven, literature based, multisensory, autodidactic approach. Basically, follow our kids interests by getting lots of books and videos on subjects that interest them and by doing activities that they suggest. This is also called unschooling. So far, so good.

I was raised in the public school system and did well and enjoyed it. I think its fine and it works. I also understand why parents choose private schools and I'm especially fond of the Montessori and Waldorf philosophies.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about homeschooling is welcome to page through the archives of my other blog, unclimber; leave a comment; or e-mail me. I'd like to note that my views on education are evolving. A year ago I was quite strident (this is obvious if you read old posts on unclimber). Thank goodness I did not end up destroying my friendship with Anne over it -- though I may have annoyed her and others with my views. Anyway, thanks for sticking around.

Friday, June 17, 2005

It's Potty Time!

by Anne Zelenka
My youngest has been accepted into preschool after a grueling interview where she had to move some wooden blocks around then carry them back to their shelf.

Yay! On October 16th, 2005, all my children will be in school! This is a milestone I have been dreaming of for years. I want my kids out of the house as soon as institutionally possible.

The catch: two-year-old Laura must be potty-trained. So next Monday we begin. She's already started taking her diaper off at random intervals and sitting on her Blue's Clues tiny toilet seat that fits on top of the big toilet. On Monday she'll be wearing training pants and making little puddles all around the house. The rental house. Now there's a benefit to being out of the housing market.

By "training pants" I don't mean Pull-Ups or other Huggies/Pampers/Safeway generic imposter. Pull-Ups don't keep the wetness right against the skin. The training pants I have are thick cotton with a liner in the middle. They keep the pee-pee right where it needs to be. Sort of. A lot of it comes out onto the floor. It's a real mess, but it's the fastest way I know to jumpstart toilet training.

For more delightful potty training reading, here are Julia and Suzanne. They have boys, and in my vast experience of training one boy and one girl to go to the potty, boys resist it more. I hate it when moms of one boy and one girl use their experience to pronounce on gender differences: "boys and girls really are different! My Dakota is so verbal and docile while Texas runs all over the place making everything into guns!" So don't take my word for it. I'm sure there are plenty of boys out there who potty-trained at two without requiring a $50 Thomas the Tank Engine roundhouse to do so. I'm sure there are girls who at age five were still rushing home from preschool to put on a Pull-Up and have their daily bowel movement. I've never heard of them though.

In two weeks I'll probably be singing a different tune, like "get me a Costco-sized bag of M&Ms and a Summertime Barbie, stat!" After authentic training pants, what's the key to potty training? In a word: bribes.

[Edited 6/19 to remove my reference to Marjorie's decision to homeschool.]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Maternal Mortification

by Marjorie
We went to the grocery store today and we were in line at the check out. I've unloaded my groceries and am waiting while the woman in front of me completes her transaction. She's a mom with a 2-year-old on her hip -- like me, only I've got a 5 year-old in the grocery cart as well. Her outfit looks carefully chosen (unlike mine) and she has a cute little pink and green handbag that looks like it would have come out of the pages of Prep if the novel had been illustrated.

My 5 year-old, who is closer to this woman than to me, says to me, "Mommy, that lady looks pregnant."

Oh my goodness. Knowing that I was fully present in the moment and wanting desperately for the moment to pass without further ado, I said nothing.

The woman said in a friendly/sarcastic way "Thanks."

The most I could do was scrunch up my eyebrows at Suzanne as if she had said the most bizarre thing I had ever heard in my life. I don't know what my expression actually conveyed -- I don't think I scowled and I might have had a slight smile that might have said "don't kids say the darndest things?" I hope not -- I was trying to communicate that the idea was so absurd that it needed no respone. But basically, I couldn't think of a thing to say to make the situation better and was pretty sure that anything I said would make it worse. Reflecting on it, I think it was the way to go, if I tried to correct Suzanne, she would have argued her point.

The woman didn't look pregnant, but she was a bit lumpy and her clothing style did not conceal the lumps. Her tummy was rounded and if she had been pregnant, it would have been pretty early in the pregnancy -- Suzanne would have definitely argued her point and might even have been persuasive.

Afterwards, I tried to explain to Suzanne that one never makes any comment about a woman looking pregnant. I even tried to tell her that such comments were interpreted by the person to mean that you thought they look fat. I don't think she got it. But maybe she understood enough to not say anything in the future.

Its karma -- I can recall asking my mother about a woman's facial mole in an elevator. The woman was really nice about it -- she said that lots of children found it interesting. I remember thinking that I didn't find it interesting, that I found it ugly -- luckily for my mom, I did not say that part out loud. She was embarrassed enough as it was. The next occasion was when I saw a Hindu woman, I asked my mom later about the forehead marking and I recall her thanking me for waiting until we were alone to ask. So, by the law of karma, this should be the only instance of my child embarrassing me -- right?

How do you handle such situations? I've got this feeling that my karma has not been fully expiated and I should be prepared for the future.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Vacation Reading Post Mortem

by Marjorie
I'm back from the beach -- we had a great time, I love Hilton Head, but its really nice to be home.

My husband's prediction was wrong, I was able to do quite a bit of reading. I don't read on the beach but I read back at the house and found plenty of snatches of time to finish two books (much of my reading was done during car rides). I read Prep and Lotus in the Fire.

I liked and didn't like Prep. I enjoyed entering the world of high school again. What I didn't like was the narrator, Lee. I didn't dislike Lee, I just didn't get her -- I knew I was in for a tough ride when she skipped the first dance of the school year. I love dances and went to as many as I could. I understood the awkwardness and social shyness of her for her first couple of years, but they grated on my in the second half of the book.

What I really didn't get was why she wanted to go to boarding school -- its explained in the book in drips and drabs but it didn't ring true for me -- she seemed to get along well enough with her parents and she kept hinting at her misery at school. Why didn't she just drop out and go to her local high school? The reasons given were unconvincing to me. But I'm a very different person from Lee, I'm not terribly extroverted, but more so than her, so maybe an introvert would really enjoy the book. What I found most disappointing about the story was that it didn't seem like there was anything positive about her boarding school experience -- it did not seem to catapult her into a different world, though it might have, she doesn't tell us much about her adult life though she does tell about what happened to some of the other characters. It just struck me as a lot of pain without any sort of pay-off. I hope someone comments on this, I'd love to read some comments by people who had a different take on her.

I liked Lotus in the Fire though the book was stilted. Its a spiritual autobiography about a man's ordeal with leukemia. I liked the way it gave me some background about Zen buddhism within the context of a story -- to me it was more digestible than to read a nonfiction book about Zen. I would like to have seen more things developed and more information given -- this man suffered a lot but his descriptions of the treatments and reactions were choppy, as were other mundane details that would have helped flesh out the story.

The discussion of suffering and its relationship to karma, particularly expiating of karma, was very interesting to me. I've yet to encounter a satisfactory answer to the question of why suffering occurs -- this is the closest I've gotten. The idea is that somewhere along the line, perhaps in past lives, you have done things that have resulted in the suffering you encounter in your present life; karma is the law of cause and effect. While this is a bit close to the idea that those who suffer deserve there suffering, I find it distinguishable because how can you control or even feel guilty for what you did in a past life? Of course, this presupposes a belief in reincarnation. I don't believe in reincarnation and I don't not believe in it. I just don't know what happens after we die and though some might seem quite certain of what happens, they don't know either.

Anyway, Zen buddhism, something to ponder, especially since I seem to have grown a bit tired of Christianity. No, I'm not converting, just looking for the truths out there.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Milestone: Sleepaway Camp

by Anne Zelenka
My nine-year-old Henry went on an overnight camping trip with his Montessori class yesterday. He's Mr. Anxious but I think I was much more worked up than he was. He has sleeping problems verging on OCD-like symptoms and I didn't know just what might happen in a different environment. But he was cheery if tired when I picked him up at school today. When asked how it went, he said "great!" and told me about the s'mores, about picking out a cabin with his buddies, and about noticing that his toe was all bloody at one point. He hadn't noticed when he injured it, so he must have been having a good time. He took his stuffed animals Whitey, a bunny, and Blackie, a little scottie dog, with him and didn't report any problems. That's something I love about his school.

My first experience at sleep away camp stands out in my mind, and not because it was pleasant. I went to a girl scout camp with my troop when I was maybe eight. I think I must have been eight, because at nine my parents sent me off to a month-long camp in Estes Park, Colorado. What a nightmare for an introverted and bookish child. Okay, I did enjoy daily snacks and I liked best of all to stay in camp--we were known as "in-camp weenies" if we signed up for arts and crafts, archery, riflery or other non-hiking, non-horseback riding activities. But the cliques and the end-of-session "citizenship" (read: popularity) awards made me feel pathetic and alone. Now that I'm thirty-seven and in charge of my own social life, I don't put myself in social situations that engender such feelings any more.

Oh, but back to my first time at sleepaway camp. We went for a week and my tent included a girl who was retarded. That's all I remember, the mentally retarded girl. Now it has much more resonance, knowing, as I do, parents who struggle with their special needs children. But then it just felt like some horror visited on me, because she leapt around on our cots and grabbed and hugged us when we least expected it. I'm an introvert. PLEASE DON'T TOUCH ME UNLESS YOU KNOW ME VERY WELL! Perhaps she would now be diagnosed as autistic--Henry suffered the attentions of an autistic boy who had been mainstreamed into his elementary class last year before we moved.

I am so relieved Henry's experience at sleepaway camp was positive.

Diana wrote about measuring the advancement of time in different ways in a lovely essay that you should go read right now. And then you can ponder too how life repeats itself, but not exactly, and we never know exactly what will happen to our children, but we know that through their lives we can understand our own better. Because having children is just a way to learn about ourselves right? Yeah, I know I shouldn't be using them just as instruments for my own betterment. But sometimes that's the thing I like best about being a mother.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Depressing Topic

by Anne Zelenka
My dad sent me the book Against Depression last week just as I hit a little patch of irritability and displeasure verging on a mini-depression. The book is by Peter Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac. In Against Depression, Kramer passionately argues for depression as disease not as temperament or bad attitude.

Don't we all know it already? "Depression is a chemical imbalance." But Kramer says that the chemical imbalance myth of depression doesn't go quite far enough in capturing the dysfunction of the depressed brain. If you looked inside a depressed person's head you wouldn't just see a dearth of serotonin or other happy-making molecules, he says. You'd see disordered and disorganized neurons in the prefrontal cortex and you'd see a shrinking hippocampus. The prefrontal cortex helps people motivate and plan. The hippocampus responds to stress. In depression, the body is permanently stuck in the stress response, unable to plan a way out of it. To Kramer, depression is too often a one-way ticket to hell.

Do I believe Kramer? I don't know what I believe. I have always held to the theory of depression as a bad attitude. I've suffered periods in my life that might have been considered major depression. But more likely they might have included just a couple symptoms from the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Kramer argues that even a low level of depression reflects brain malfunction and creates risk for problems down the line. He suggests that we don't think of having a touch of arthritis as being okay. We shouldn't think it's okay to be a bit depressed either.

I find Kramer's book kind of depressing. It reminds me of what my own depressive symptoms have taken away from my life. Whether the symptoms are my fault or not doesn't really matter--the harm has been done. The book has suggested to me that I may need to revisit my stance against anti-depressant medication. It seems noble to work through your problems without turning to the pharmacy. There's a sense in our society that too many people are taking too many anti-depressants. But conventional wisdom is often wrong. Maybe not enough people are taking them. Maybe I need to be taking them.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Coming Attractions

by Marjorie
As previously noted, I've seen Revenge of the Sith. It was the first movie my DH and I have seen in a theater in years. We think that Memento was the last time we were in a theater.

What an awesome experience! I loved the stadium seating and the huge screen -- I was getting sick of theaters where you feel you're sitting in someone's garage. I felt like I got my money's worth.

I love previews. I think Steve Martin looks like he'll be a hysterical Inspector Clouseau in a Pink Panther remake -- I haven't seen much of Peter Sellers, so I don't think I'm tainted. Best exchange -- 'it was fatal.' "How fatal?" (Quizzical look) 'Completely.'

While I'm not inclined to like Mr. and Mrs. Smith because of the aroma of adultery surrounding its filming, I did not know that Vince Vaughn is in it. This changes things -- I really love his voice. Doubt we'll see it, even on video, but the preview had a great line by Vince after Brad Pitt tells him his wife is trying to kill him. Something along the lines of "they all do it, slowly, day by day, bit by bit." No, really, his wife is an assassin. Can anyone say Prizzi's Honor?

But, but....I may just have to get back into the theater to watch JRR Tolkien get his comeuppance -- Narnia is coming out and it looks like they are leaving room for a series. When I was an young-un, an animated version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe scared the hell out of me (he he). Well, with Tilda Swinton as the White Witch, how can I resist? And yet, the whole occultish looking sacrifice of Aslan may keep me away.... Bet Robbo's gonna see it.

Revenge of the Sith

by Marjorie
Loved it. I think I'm not supposed to, I think I'm supposed to be disappointed in the wooden acting and implausible plot-lines. Sorry, loved it. Personally, I don't think the originals were that much better, I think its the passing of a few decades that makes us more discriminating. Okay, enough, I don't need to defend myself here.

But I will explain myself -- I loved the fundamental question -- how does one become evil? I originally thought the story might be something along the lines of what might have happened if Jesus had taken the Devil up on his temptations before he began his Earthly ministry (yeah, that Bible thing I mentioned). I thought it would be more like Anakin deciding he didn't want to fulfill the prophecy and save the galaxy, that he'd rather have power. It wasn't really like that, though. It was more about the perversion of love/attachment and how it can blinding it can be.

I totally loved Yoda doing the Buddhist priest thing with Anakin, who is definitely more Western in his thinking. You must let go Yoda says essentially. Wasn't working for Ani, he was more interested in keeping what he had.

I also liked the moral ambiguities throughout and I found Anakin's choice to be plausible. That he became such a dedicated disciple to the dark side so quickly was a bit mind-boggling, but if you're going to pledge allegiance to a murderer, you'd better do it full force -- there is no half-way there.

BTW, I took three years of Latin in high school and I always think of that when I hear Yoda putting his verbs at the end of his sentences. I haven't taken any other foreign languages, perhaps, as well, they do it.

Book Meme

by Marjorie
I've been tagged for my first meme by dgm. Oh my goodness, I don't think it was my first tag, I think Robbo over at llamabutchers tagged me with something awhile ago but I didn't see it until several weeks after he posted it and I never did it.... Oooo that must make me a terrible person. I think it had to do with music and I was untimely and uninspired. Sorry about that Robbo, but you're still my favorite arch-conservative (Daddy's my favorite conservative, but I don't think he's arch).

1. Total number of books owned.
Hmmm...maybe a couple hundred but I try to weed them regularly. I love selling them to a used book store for credit and I donate others. We do have tons of children's books -- I'm addicted and most were purchased for a dime apiece at used book sales.

2. Last book bought.
It feels like a lie because it was 'bought' using store credit from the aforementioned used book store, but I am Charlotte Simmons.

3. Last book read.
The Lovely Bones -- nope, not one to pride myself on reading currently popular materials.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me.
These are my first grasps at some of my favorites from my adult life.
1) The Bible -- I'm not currently reading it, but I spent three years taking a Bible study. I've read maybe about half of it -- lots of Old Testament but I've only read half the Gospels and a few epistles. Not a thumper anymore, but definitely a book that means a lot to me.
2) To Kill a Mockingbird
3) From sheer volume, I'd have to say Jackie Collins books. How else would I know what a 'Binaca blast' is?
4) Teach Your Own, Learning All the Time, How Children Fail -- by John Holt. As my DH says, 'we drank the homeschooling kool-aid.'
5) Moo by Jane Smiley

Am I supposed to pass this on? I could barely complete it myself....

House-keeping

by Marjorie
Just wanted to let you know that we're leaving for the beach on Saturday. Any tips for easing a 10 hour car ride with small children will be appreciated. Oh, while were at it -- is it a really bad thing to give your children allergy medicine even when their allergies aren't bothering them? They sleep so well on the meds and it seems harmless. I've yet to take this step but always think about it... I had a friend who did that for a long plane trip -- it worked great on the first leg of the trip but made the kid hyper on the second leg.

UPDATE on summer reading. We acquired both Prep and I am Charlotte Simmons (for links see my earlier post). We seem to have very little interest in either. I recently read The Lovely Bones -- yes, I know I'm way behind. I really liked it. I'm now reading Lotus in the Fire, The Healing Power of Zen. Not a terribly well-written book, but its kind of interesting about a former Catholic turned Zen Buddhist and how he deals with a serious illness. My DH, when I told him about the author and who himself was raised Catholic, quipped that he's 'in remission.'

I really hate packing.