July 27, 2010

Road trip begins now.

I have $100 for our four day, 2000 mile journey west, only because my driving partner Paul is vouching for gas since this is really his move west. I figure $100 should cover some magazines at the airport, a few meals in this town and that city and possibly a drink or three with my buddy Asher.

Food is going to be tricky this time around since my partner and I no longer eat meat. Gone are the road trips of my growing up and pre-turning-30 years where fast food burgers and tacos took center stage in my belly. I imagine eating on this trip will be trickier and more thought driven than simply looking for the pre-exit sign on the interstate that says Arbys. Now we will be forced to exit into the unknown in the hopes of finding a little diner or eatery that may or may not serve something vegetarian. While I will miss the guilt free, road trip fast food that I have come to love since our first family road trips, the adventure of eating local will certainly be interesting in it's own way.

My pack is small and mostly contains food, which is partly because I'm scared of the aforementioned mystery that surrounds our lunches and dinners and partly because it seemed cheaper and healthier to bring my own goodies (cashews, dried mango, puffins and rice cakes).

Also packed is my trusty camera -which I plan to use a lot in West Texas - some charging devices, a CD with Radiolab podcasts, two David Sedaris audiobooks and a pillow for nights under the stars.

Traveling alone is revealing some of my stronger anal tendencies, which tend to hide in corners when I'm traveling with Kari and the more recently acquired Stella, who over the course of 17 months has managed to drive these peculiar habits and unusual pleasures into the far off nooks and crannies of my mind. But sitting on the plane, alone and full of a slowly poured glass of orange juice, I am able to dwell on these tendencies. Like the fact that my seat pocket is neatly arranged in front of me and that my Vanity Fair is void of all inserts. Or at the airport when I had time to arrange my bills from largest to smallest, all facing the same way. Or at home packing late last night, going over every minute detail from the podcast arrangement to the way my luggage was arranged like a puzzle in my pack, with each pair of socks in the exact right place. I know in a few hours, when I join the company of another, that these luxuries will no longer be viable, but for now, I'll keep sipping my orange juice for as long as I want to.

Nashville will be here soon. More to come then.

July 21, 2010

She has learned a new word and uses it whenever she can. Volume would help. :)

July 8, 2010

Trying not to forget...

She tickles everyone these days, crunching her little fingers in other kids faces and making a tsk tsk sound, all while looking like she is being tickled herself. When she doesn't get a laugh out of her tickle targets, she fake laughs on her own and then walks away cheerfully. Last night at the park, she missed a few tickles under the chin and wiggled her fingers straight into the eyes of a few toddlers. When one of them cried a little, she looked at me quizzically as if to say, "they don't really get it, do they dad?"

Our babycenter update yesterday mentioned this: "The challenge for toddlers is not understanding speech, but coordinating their lips and tongue and breath well enough to make themselves understandable." I have a new appreciation for her words now, which on any given day include some or all of the following: car, shoe, dada, mama, wawa, dog, go, ba nana (two words for her), cracker, ba bye, tee (as in television), bubble, hair, eyes, nose, teeth, mow (mouth), cheese, ball, Ieey (Eisley) and her new word that she is in the process of mastering: squirrel (which sounds like qua?, as if she's asking a question).

The inside of our Element has turned into a playground of late. Maybe it's the tinted windows or the moon roof or the ample cargo space (or maybe that's just what I like), but for whatever reason she loves climbing and roaming around the Element after a long drive. She'll pick food out of the cracks of her car seat and then stumble into the front where she steers and shifts and cranks up NPR without much difficulty.

There is a moment that happens at least once a day and it's my absolute hands down favorite part of the day. It's the moment when our little family crosses paths somewhere in the hallway or dining room, with all of us going somewhere but not to each other. Kari will be headed towards the kitchen, I'll be headed to the office and then there is Stella who is walking from her bedroom to who knows where in the house. She always has this interesting purposeful look in her eyes as if what she is about to do was her decision alone and she doesn't need us for any part of it. Sometimes I'll stop, turn and follow her secretly to see what was on her mind. It's usually to drop off something in the living room that she found in her bedroom, like a ball or some paper clips, which she found yesterday. It's only for a moment, that my little child is suddenly on her own and doesn't need us for something, but I always get this rush of contentment and a wonderful dose of reality. It's not just Kari and I, or Kari and I and our little baby anymore. It's US. We are a family.

[Thanks to Mel B. for the brilliant pictures!]