Tag Archives: road trips

List of demands

Once again, we have managed to work our way back east from our annual extended staff retreat. And as in years past, I am struck again by the following truths as we stumble in and dump bags of Midwestern bounty on the kitchen floor:
1. The Fun Apartment doesn’t actually seem that small. One would think that after getting our eyes all stretched out with all that space, the place would look more like a dollhouse when you peer in the window. But it never does. Instead it manages to look cozy. It looks like home. (But opening the refrigerator, that’s a whole other thing. That place really is tiny.)

2. Now that we’re home, even doing our normal stuff feels novel and exciting. Our neighborhood playground feels like wonderland! And the Y still has free babysitting!

3. After several weeks of Midwestern-style liberty, the kind where they can go play in outside by themselves, the boys seem to have grown up a lot in a relatively short span of time. During our visit, there were times when, while we were all still technically on the same property, they were as far as two city blocks away from me. So I am wondering how to use new long leash in a New York way. The other day, I applied it to the rather arcane and ridiculous process known as alternate side parking, during which one has to sit in the car for an hour and a half, in case the police or a streetsweeper come wandering by. But mostly one just sits in the car, going nowhere. You can imagine the non-appeal for kids. But can you also imagine how well walkie talkies work from the fourth floor down to the curb? Really, really well.

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Don’t worry, Mommy’s watching!

But, I have also been slowly realizing over the last few years that these boys are just not that keen on city life. Near-natives of the greatest city on earth? Meh. They’re over it. They want to move to the great white north.

Bite us, Big Apple.

So, the suggestion box has been stuffed to the gills with increasingly urgent requests to relocate. When queried further on this, they offered  the following somewhat surprising and specific elaborations on their dream house:

First son, first request: a dishwasher. (Love you, baby!)

Second son, first request: a pantry. “Oh! I know! A pantry! We could put things in it, like beer, cucumbers, anything!” (Really, what more does one need?)

Other ideas: a cherry orchard, with one tree for us, and one other tree for other people. A lake, but not an outhouse. If no lake, then a pool. And a treehouse that we could live in. After those demands are met maybe they could have their own bedrooms. Or even a bedroom that is not part of another room. Or just a treehouse.

Ah well, we live in hope. And–for now, anyway–in the Fun Apartment.

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Filed under Living Small, Mistakes I have made, The outside world

Out of here

Today, we are doing something that makes life sustainable here at the Fun Apartment: leaving. We depart by car for a month or so in the Midwest so the boys can add swimming in lakes, climbing into car seats, running in yards, and riding bikes to their skill sets. This will supplement their strong showings from our home base in scooter riding, subway navigation, jaywalking, and Starbucks locating.

I have said before, but it bears repeating–every day, if necessary–my idea of bringing up these yahoos is borrowed from Calvin Trillin: “Despite all evidence to the contrary, you’re being raised in Kansas City.” (Of course, I have never even been to Kansas City, but I feel like this could be extended to include the entire Midwest. Or at least, anywhere but this godforsaken city.)

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Loaded for Bear.

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See ya, suckers!


It is kind of overwhelming to pack for a month, but since the entire Midwest seems to be nothing but laundry facilities, the clothes aren’t really a problem (except that I will look somewhat out of place there, just as I look somewhat out of place here–by nature, I think, I am some sort of hybrid species.)

One boy has really taken to the packing. For two days, his suitcase has been ready–crammed with stuffed animals, pajamas and twenty pairs of underpants. The other kid? Well, let’s just say that it’s a good thing he likes to be naked.

We’ll be in the car all day tomorrow. And most of the next. But lots of fun awaits us (in addition to the fun I still have to pack from the Fun Apartment.) There will be boat rides! There will be swimming! There will be big yards! There will be camping! There will be assisted living! There will be parades! There will be grandparents! There will be fireworks! There will be big stores! There will be Midwestern craft beer! There will be a trampoline! And, there will be throwing up in the car.

So it is very exciting/an unholy mess around here. And I should probably be doing something about it. Here I go! Clear a path, people! I’m going to turn this chaos strewn closet into something neat and tidy! Any minute now!

Hmm, well, I guess I’ll do it later. Right now, I am going to enjoy my last few predictable minutes, and ignore all the piles. After all, someone has to finish off the box wine and I’m the best qualified. And the morning will be chaos and pancakes.

But during the pancakes, I will be dragging all the old toys out of storage so they can go live in the bedroom of my brand new nephew! Thank god for boys. Or at least, this one boy, not yet a month old, has managed to perform a miracle I never could wrangle: cleaning out our basement storage unit in a single trip! So long, Thomas the Wretched Tank Engine–take your theme song with you!

Sorry, New York. You are out of luck. Make your own fun. We’re busy elsewhere.

But we’ll be back. Save us a spot, ok?

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Filed under The outside world

Loco-motion sickness

We are on the Fun Apartment’s annual staff retreat out here in the Midwest and my eyes are getting all stretched out from looking at all these giant spaces of, well, space.

In addition to space, we are also seeing a lot of the technicolor yawn. Yep, that’s right. These boys are not used to riding in cars, so when we peel off for great white North, there seems to be nothing but cookies tossed in the back seat. In addition to needing to be strapped in and out every ten minutes, they also vomit rather spectacularly at regular intervals. Yum.

This is not a new problem, however. I even cleaned vomit out of the infant car seat. And each time it happens we get a little smarter about it.

Because we have a system for dealing with the blown chunks. It involves a lot of bags. In fact, we are even ready to officially endorse the bags of this large regional chain over those of this large regional chain.

Another secret weapon is this.

Trader Joe's really does have everything.

Trader Joe’s really does have everything.

By some members of our household it is know as the puke box. I like to think of it as “Cookies in. Cookies Out.” But by whatever name, it is essential to our travel supplies. If one lines it with the aforementioned bags, it is entirely sealable and reusable.

On Day One, there were no fewer than four upchucks. Three were fairly manageable, and confined themselves to the curvy borderlands of New Jersey. But the last one, in the flatness of Ohio? That one surprised us. We were caught unawares, and so was the gas station where we stopped to spray everyone down and change into the backup huking clothes. They were caught so unaware that their bathrooms were out of order. The man of my dreams stood there with puke in his upturned hands and a look of horror on his face. The nice people there suggested that he try the Dairy Queen next door. Off he went, with the cookie-tosser in tow, while I proceeded to mop up the evidence. Back they came, carrying a bag of Dilly Bars. “The bathroom door had a code,” the man of my dreams explained sheepishly.

So guess what we had for dinner. In the car.

But now after that promising beginning, the vomiting team seems to have dry heaves. Do people need time to get used to riding in cars? Or is it just an auspicious start to an awesome summer vacation?

Probably, they are just waiting for me to relax on a nice, busy stretch of Chicago traffic jam. Seriously, I think there are still people trying to get home from the Chicago World Fair of 1893. Maybe they are feeling sick after riding the first Ferris Wheel.

P.S. My brother in law insists that “selling Buicks” is another vomiting synonym. I would be happy to learn more of these, if you have any to share.

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Filed under Not cool, The outside world

Raising Midwesterners in 6 easy steps

Off we go on our five week road trip! There is a lot to teach these boys about non-city living. There are no crosswalks. There is no street noise to lull them to sleep. There are other rooms! And there was this conversation on our first morning:

Big: Mommy! The grass is all wet!

Me: That’s dew, sweetheart.

Big: Do what?

Clearly, I have a lot of work to do. Ah well,I don’t intend to bore you all to sobs with vacation photos, but here are a few moments from our initial excursions.

I'm so, you know, whatever!

I’m so, like, you know, whatever!

Mommy, what does "punchy" mean?

Mommy, what does “punchy” mean?

Splashdown.

Splashdown.

 

What's that Brooklyn? You say you have a bridge, too?  Tell me later.

What’s that Brooklyn? You say you have a bridge, too?
Tell me later.

But then there was this:

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And what more do you need, really?

(In case you are wondering, they both threw up in the car. Yay!)

 

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Filed under The outside world

And . . . they’re off!

One big secret to living in the Fun Apartment is to get out of the Fun Apartment as often as we can. On a day to day basis, that means spreading out the errands so we always have somewhere to go. It means going to the park down the block even if it’s raining (hey, now it’s a water park!)

And in the summer, it means taking this whole show on the road! As I am a mere settler in this god-forsaken city, I have a sacred responsibility to raise these boys as Midwesterners, in the middle of this urban jungle. As Calvin Trillin said about raising kids in the city, “Despite all evidence to the contrary, you’re being raised in Kansas City.”

So that means we are packing up to spend several weeks visiting family and friends in the great heart of the nation. In practice, it means I will have to explain why my kids are turning down hot dogs, but will eat sushi and falafel. They will have to learn how to cross the street when there is no intersection. They will learn how to ride bikes. And I will have to give these same answers over and over again:

“Fourth floor. Nope, no elevator.”

“Yes, 480 square feet is about the same size as your garage.”

“No, I don’t know how we do it either.”

“Because milk is really expensive in the city. Why are you buying 8 gallons?”

Before you start to think of us as people who have a summer home, let me assure you, we have no such thing. I just have generous parents with extra bedrooms and a deep need to see their grandchildren. They are even lending us their car.

So we are packing up to drive halfway across the country. This far we haven’t needed to burst through the glass screen and rely on the iPad for entertainment. Although it looms large in our future, I am certain. Once that smooth gray cover is opened, it can never really be closed again. So we are holding off as long as we can.

Happily (?) driving in the summer offers some great views of construction vehicles and I always come loaded for bear when it comes to travel entertainment. Whenever we go anywhere, by plane or car, I pack their backpacks with new (well, new to them, anyway) books, crayons, random items I have squirreled away all year.

And a plastic bag. Because the big guy throws up in the car.

They pull their own suitcases, too. Really fast.

They pull their own suitcases, too. Really fast.

So, the Fun Apartment is on the move. Let’s see how this goes. . .

 

 

 

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Filed under Living Small, The outside world