Thursday, August 30, 2012

Around Nana's House

I presented the kids with a few options of trips today, but they said they wanted to stay around the house. I have come to trust them on this. They are mostly very willing to go out and have adventures, but they like their recovery time, too. I am grateful that we most often find a ratio of in-the-nest time and out-in-the-world time that feels balanced to all of us. I was glad for the down time today, too. I went over to help my sister with the baby for a couple of hours in the afternoon while my mom swam with the kids, and I worked on my quilt when the house was quiet and everyone else was asleep.

I need to write, too, that today's "Just Add Light and Stir" post was maybe my favorite yet. It's about the biochemical difference between counting to ten while holding your breath and getting madder and madder and counting to ten while breathing deeply and intentionally bringing to mind peaceful thoughts. 

When I was preparing for my birth with Fox, I found it most helpful to see pictures of what was happening to a woman's body during a contraction and to read about what those chemicals and movements were doing to bring about a birth. That was what allowed me to sail (focused, mindfully, seriously, uncomfortably) through the contractions. That understanding.

The counting-to-ten post was like that this morning. 

"I love these people." Yes, indeed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lightning Thief and Lunch

The Orlando Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit of the illustrations of John Rocco. The only books of his I knew were the Percy Jackson and the Olympians stories that he did with Rick Riordan. Two of my nephews--Patrick and Canyon-- loved the books (they are among the hardbacks that I someday hope to buy to fill a bookshelf of "Good Books" for those inclined to pick up and peruse) but I had no idea he also wrote his own really wonderful children's books!

Here are three that we read together in that comfy little space in the middle of the gallery:

After reading each one, we went around the room to look at the pencil drawings that led to the paintings that became the illustrations. It was amazing. The pictures were bright and rich, but soft looking, not glossy as they are in the books. I loved it. The kids were into it at first, but their attention waned quicker than I expected. Then I remembered something.

I forgot to feed the kids lunch.

I sure did.

We ate a late-ish breakfast, but when their eyes went glassy and their words became whines at 2 p.m., just after I finished reading Moonpowder, I realized my mistake. I apologized profusely, we left hurriedly, and ate ham sandwiches with pickles and popsicles for dessert when we got back to Nana's house. 

But not before this lady beckoned us into one last art space. This is a fiberglass and oil paint sculpture of the Puerto Rican singer and senator, Ruth Fernandez. Aila liked her especially. She liked how open here arms were and her pretty, fluffy hair:

Know what else we did today, at Kate's house, hanging out with little baby Junia? Here's a hint...

"You remind me of the babe..."


Much singing and dancing and remarking on puppetry, period fashion (namely, '80s), and beautiful scenery.


My mom recently purchased a wood burning tool to use as a lightweight soldering iron, and she said that we could use it for actual wood burning, if we liked.

So the kids and I Googled around to get ideas and came across Julie Bender's website. My goodness, is this woman skilled. And reading her site, we learned that wood burning is called pyrography, drawing with fire. (Woody liked that a great deal.)

We had craft sticks around, but not much else in terms of soft, flat, smooth wood. So, we went to the craft store in search of wooden objects we'd like to burn.

Guess what my boys chose? Crosses. Only of course, they didn't immediately see the shape as a cross. They saw it as a sword. Aila chose a little keepsake box with a heart shape cut out of the top.

We waited until Fox was asleep to begin, because YouTube convinced us pyrography might be a little dangerous for beginners. It was. A little dangerous, a little scary, and harder than it looks. The handle got too hot for comfort sometimes. Depending on the grain of the wood, the tool either dragged easily or hurky-jerky, which again, was scary. I accidentally set it down wrong on its stand, which melted the plastic. That stunk and was scary.

So the kids were a little put off by the whole endeavor. They made a few lines and circles, delighted in the small accumulation of charcoal that sometimes glowed red, but then called it a day.

But! While Fox was still asleep, I worked on his sword, incorporating some of his favorite motifs:

He was a happy pirate when he woke up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tire Swing

I am so freakin' excited about this project!!! It's not perfect, and it wasn't my idea, but I did help it happen!

Last summer, when my sister Kate (one of my two sisters, the one who just had a baby) was living here, she wanted to make a tire swing for Aila to play on. I loved the idea, and got as far as finding a big truck tire that otherwise was headed for the recycling center. But, then I left town for my new state of Arkansas.

THIS time, I found the tire still in the garage, and thought to pick up some heavy-duty soft nylon rope at the hardware store. When there was a break in the rain, Woody and I tied the end of the rope to a shoe of mine, hoisted it over the branch (at least nine feet up, and preferably more than nine feet out from the trunk, a branch at least 8" in diameter and as close to perpendicular to the ground as possible), then tied a good, sliding knot and pulled it up to the branch. We put the tire on a chair to get it high enough, tested it to get the stretch out of the rope, retied it, and had a blast for about 20 minutes, then again at dusk.

I am probably more proud of myself over this than I have been of anything in a long time! I am definitely stronger in the dreamer category than in the do-er category, so I celebrate these completed projects when they happen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Issac, Anaxyrus, and Junia

Hurricane Isaac's long squall lines are blowing across Central Florida, so we're watching the wind and rain from indoors, playing games and pretend, listening to music, and watching movies. We talked a tiny bit about hurricanes and tornadoes, since when we picked my sick nephew Canyon up from school today, his class was huddled in the hallway due to a tornado sighting in the south part of Orange County. That one had me baffled a bit.

We found this big guy in my sister's backyard. I think he's a Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris). We landed on my alma mater, UF's, wildlife extension office website while trying to identify him. There's a lovely feature there where you can listen to the different songs of the frogs and toads of Florida. I was super excited about it, and all three kids--my niece Aila and my two boys--gamely came over to give the sound clip a listen. But, then they patted me on the knee and said, "Cool, mom," and ran off again to play a pretend grocery store / battle game in the back room.

And, my sister had her baby! Junia Opal Blanche. Aila and I were there for the whole thing, a water birth at home at 3 o'clock in the morning. Our mutual friend Mackenzie took the pictures. 

The baby's doing wonderfully, nursing well, gaining weight easily, settling in to life outside the womb. And my sister, too, looks terrific. Her husband went back to work today. I remember that being a very hard transition. So, we trying to be available and supportive and do what we can to be helpful to her for our last five days here in Florida. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Matinee and More

There is one serious perk to not being in school from 8 to 3, and that is that you can be almost anywhere else! And though it's rare that we deal with crowds anyway during school hours, today was an unexpected treat--we had the whole theater to ourselves at the ParaNorman matinee. We tried seats all over the theater--up front, back row, end, and middle--and settled in with no worry of talking too loud during the movie, though Woody was still concerned about general movie theater etiquette, which I thought was quite funny.

And over breakfast of scrambled eggs and blueberries, we remembered the book we read last night--Jamberry by Bruce Degen. And thinking of the illustrations of blueberries, the kids wanted to draw food of their own, like they remembered from the Dali Museum earlier this month, "Still Life with Telephone Receiver and Dead Fish" and "The Basket of Bread."

So, they chose their items to draw, and landed not on food after all but rather a sippy cup (for Aila) and a toy axe (for Woody). Fox wanted to draw from his own mind, a wiggly guy with a chicken leg. My sister Kate, who is not so happy to still be pregnant a week and a half after she thought her baby might likely arrive, studied to be an art teacher and kids and art remain an interest of hers. She talked with Aila about how shading and curves creates dimensions.

And we opened up an old "singing" birthday card of Aila's and tried to figure out how it worked. We identified the battery and the mechanism that completed the circuit when the card was opened (and broke it when the card was closed). We also felt the vibrations on the back of the speaker.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Playing Science, II

Between the suggestions I got from other homeschoolers in response to my request for science inspiration and a brief foray into the world of Pinterest, where I do not have an account but where my mom has set up a folder? board? of links to "kid" activities, I have weeks worth of fun with the physical world.

This morning was dance party and pillow forts, Bento box toothpick scenes in rice and video gaming, acting in a make-believe spy movie and examining flies up close. And after lunch, I assembled the materials to make Elephant Toothpaste by combining hydrogen peroxide, yeast, and dish soap.

It was great! About twenty minutes of brief explanation, mostly answers to questions such as "Is yeast really alive? How do you know?" and "Could we drink the hydrogen peroxide? Why not?" and "What's the dish soap for? What would happen if we put in way more?"; cool experimentation and play, and they were off again.

A great thing about homeschooling is that you're free to let the experience be short and sweet, or take all day. Knowing that the best learning takes place when the kids are interested, you work with them while they're interested. You can revisit it again later or linger well past dinner, eating a sandwich with one hand and being busy with the other. There's no pressure to get in any particular "lesson," much less any particular lesson at a particular age or point in the (school) year. We did talk about the chemical reactions happening, and the kids did consider open-ended questions, and we were going through the steps of the scientific method without even realizing (yet) that there's a name for it. They're doing it because they want to, not because someone else told them they had to, or put artificially high stakes on that particular bit of knowledge. That makes a big difference.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playing Science

Today, we played science. It was fantastic fun. We combined and colored cornstarch and water, and talked about viscosity and liquids and solids. But mostly, the kids messed around and got crazy messy and happy. It was an idea that came together after I posted the following to the Always Learning list:

My 6 1/2 year old has been asking to do science experiments lately. We've done some cool ones--making paper helicopters, soup-can "telephones," ice cream in a Ziploc bag, cornstarch-water non-Newtonian fluid, and of course, plenty of fun with baking soda and vinegar.

But I'm not sure I'm getting at what he wants to get at.

I keep the explanations short, focusing on the playing-with rather than talking-about, but he seems a little dissatisfied within a few minutes. He can't really articulate what he's looking for, and I keep getting stumped at the idea that most science experiments begin with a question or wondering about how things work or what-would-happen-if... (which happen as part of our daily life, but don't seem to count for him). I'm trying to bring out "classic" experiments in something of a vacuum, but I almost wonder if he has a mad-scientist
laboratory in his mind as what "science" looks like.

This feels like a place where schooly/subject stuff is getting in the way for me; maybe my homeschooled son and (schooled) I mean two different things by "science experiment," and I don't want to fall into a spot where it seems as if school kids get the better end of the stick with chemistry class, physics class, etc. Or maybe I could just turn my kitchen into a mad scientist lab for a day and we could all wear white coats and funny wigs? :) I should add that my husband and I are wordy-history folks, so I am working hard to extend out of my comfort zone with this one.

Thanks for any thoughts.

mama to Woody (6 1/2) and Fox (3 1/2)


I got the most wonderful feedback, including practical suggestions and different perspectives:

  • do set up the mad scientist lab, at the kitchen table before they wake up
  • get a microscope to look at things whenever the urge arises--hair, blood, dead bugs, etc.
  • look through the chemistry kits on Amazon with the boys to see what looks good (other parents said they'd been disappointed in pre-packaged chemistry sets)
  • make costume blood and scars
  • do a wildlife count or nature photography
  • dig holes outside
  • turn the compost pile and examine it
  • playing with magnets
  • make a play-pretend Harry Potter potions class
  • get some beakers, pipettes, syringes and flasks and play with colored water and other substances
  • sprout seeds
  • play with a hose in the sandbox
  • try to identify spiders and insects around the house and yard
  • leave scraps of colored paper for wasps to use in their nests (if one is nearby)
  • leave bits of string and yarn for birds' nests (mostly in spring)
  • make a blocks maze and see if you can get wind-up toys to go through
  • " Any play is a "science experiment" when there are elements included that have
    some variability. If he really likes the idea of "doing science," you could
    dress it up a bit for him. "Today we are going to be archeologists!" Head
    outdoors with brushes, shovels, flathead screwdrivers and magnifying glasses in
    hand, and dig! " (from Karen)
  • make play dough and put out various things to build with--craft sticks, twigs, straws, pipe cleaners, etc.
  • make paper
  • freeze a pie plate full of water with tiny toys inside it for them to discover
  • making big bubbles with gycerine
  • play with dry ice
  • dissect something dead

-- Let go of the idea that you need an outcome or a conclusion.

-- " He's doing real science all the time, the play science doesn't have to produce anything." (from Sarah)

--" I tell my girls that science is just another word that means questioning our physical world. ANY single time he wonders about our physical world and how things work, that's science.,, 

     Things that you obviously know about but are demonstrating can be science as well if he is thinking about the outcome or if he is thinking about the explanation behind it...
      Allowing him to question what might happen allows him to create a hypothesis, and thus you are using and demonstrating the scientific method. You can get all geeky if you want with him, a lab notebook, writing down steps, coming up with a hypothesis, etc. if that's what he is seeking, esp since it is before Halloween finding a lab coat should be easy! Even when you know the answer it is still an experiment, adding the question of why or how, and testing it turns into the method."  (from Stephanie)

And some links: (a couple of experiments that are easy and fun)

Steve Spangler Science (YouTube channel with experiments)

Slow Mo Guys (YouTube channel with super slow-motion pranks and silliness. The boys and Aila watched almost every single one of these videos. They chaps are charming, and the effect of the super slow motion is very cool. Also, they very effectively model the happy-go-lucky part of science that begins with, "wouldn't it be cool if...!")

Scientific Tuesdays (Internet science show)

Will it Blend (YouTube channel)

BBC TV show, "Bang Goes the Theory"

American Science and Surplus (for lab materials)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Me Time

Kids blossom and get bigger from doing adult things because they want to, instead of kid-things they have to do because they're small. — Sandra Dodd

Woody in Nana's fiber playground, her sewing room.

I'd been trying to make a quilt for myself the past two times I'd been down to Florida. My mom's a terrific sewer and quilter, and was always willing to help me with it, but until this visit, I'd never been able to find the time.

While the boys were playing happily one day with their cousin Aila, I picked out the fabrics and settled on a design. Later that night, when my mom was playing a board game with them, I laid everything out the way I liked. Fox played with the pin cushion as I worked, sorting the pins by color and making some soldiers, some generals, and some enemies. Woody wanted to help me run the sewing machine when the piecing together started, but soon wanted to make a small quilt for himself. So, I paused my project and helped him move forward with his. Over the course of the next couple of days, we worked on his quilt together, then he and my mom worked on it together, ironing, pinning, cutting, and sewing.

It turned into a project full of new skills, fun, and sweet bonding time between Woody and his grandmother. He's almost done now, needing only the edging. And then, I'll go back to working on my quilt in the in-between moments and after the boys go to bed just as I had been.

Woody's running the foot while Nana guides the layers around

What started as a "me time" project turned into a really special family project.

(An article by Ren Allen that I found describing this very thing:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Until the Baby Arrives

We are two and a half weeks into our five-week visit down to Central Florida, timed thusly so that we may be on hand when the new baby is born and to spare ourselves a bit of Arkansas' drought and heat. Here, we've marveled at the regular and dynamic afternoon storms that then disperse to indigo clouds in a pink and gold sky at sunset. There is still heat, but there are also breezes. Movement--of air and location--can be a great blessing.

One of the baby-related projects that we undertook was to tie-dye the many white jumpers that my sister Kate has received for little Junia. I did this for both my boys, and am finally able to approximate something that passes for a tie-dye pattern instead of a paint splatter. It was the kids' first time, and their verve and fearless experimentation shows in brilliant chaos and bright colors.

The weeks away are taking their toll. We all miss Daddy Honey. Familiar routines are supplanted by what works in the moment, a helpful flexibility but a lack of long-term support. We hear tell that the unyielding summer of the Southern Ozarks is, in fact, yielding, and that lovely fall weather is already making an appearance. It will be a nice September when we come home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Art and Family

Sewing cloth wipes for Aunt Kate with Nana.

Playing a favorite childhood game of mine, Uncle Wiggly. This edition is from 1971!

Doing watercolors and drawing with Celeste.

Skylanders video game with Celeste's daughter, Ella. 

A patchwork quilt Woody and I are working on together.

Woody, Fox, their second cousin, Amelia, and their great-uncle Bob.

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus at the Dali Museum in St. Pete.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Birth Control

I was an Our Whole Lives Lifespan Sexuality Education instructor in 2008 and 2010 in Tallahassee, and am attending a weekend training next month in Georgia to be able to continue teaching it in my new community next spring.The time I spent learning and teaching OWL marked a turning point for me as an educator and a spiritual being, one of the more powerful shaping periods of my adult life. I recall teaching OWL often, both because it was such an important event in my personal and professional development and because it helped me to be able to do things like this, muster a 1-, 3-, or 5-minute lesson on human reproduction appropriate for a variety of ages and learning styles:

The conversation started when my niece Aila, 7, saw the Fertility Friend fertility awareness app on my phone today and asked me about it. We worked backward from fertility signs to how babies are made, and she was delighted with the explanations and the visual.

I should say, if it's not obvious, that the drawing was taken over by Woody when Aila and I were done with it. He drew the fetus in the womb, and the freeclimber below the genital area, and the alien battle to the left and upper left. He and I had a version of this chat, too, about a year ago. 

It's hard to know how much of these abstracted ideas stick, but I think there's something to be said for getting the straight answer when you ask the first time, and every time after, and for bringing the topic out of the realm of taboo or awkward and into the big swirly soup of Interesting Things to Learn. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ideas from everywhere

My sister Kate is homeschooling her 7 year old daughter this next year after a school career done at both public school and Montessori school. Kate is pregnant, due in the next couple of weeks, and she wanted my niece to be able to spend the year at home with her and the new baby. She's planning on using the Oak Meadow 2nd grade curriculum, which allows you to preview pretty robust lessons online for each grade level.

At earlier points in our homeschooling, I was reluctant to even look at curriculum. I was so new and worried about setting my kids up to see formal lessons as the only way to learn that I closed myself off to that whole way of presenting information. I was sure somehow their learning would get corrupted by other people's ideas of what counted as education and what didn't, the way a whole cup of milk can turn with only a couple of drops of vinegar. I didn't fully trust them or myself.

I'm glad to have year one behind us, and the last several years of hanging out on the unschooling boards reading about how other people do it. Amazingly, I didn't even pause before opening up that .pdf and taking a look.

The second grade lesson had a section on makinge a soap dish out of clay. That reminded me of the big tub of modeling clay that lives in the top of the game closet here at my mom's. I took it out after lunch and we all started to play.

Woody made the black figure he's holding, which he told me was a teenager wearing a hat and carrying a sniper rifle to protect his town from the hoards of zombies (also pictured, in pieces). Fox commissioned a series of knights on horseback, which took a good bit of time to make, but that he was mostly pleased with. We soon developed together a simplified soldier design that we could all make pretty easily out of our respective colors, which then engaged in a whole-table battle. 

This hour and a half happened because I approached the homeschool curriculum with curiosity instead of fear, exactly what I'm trying to allow for my children but that I still myself struggle with. It was a realization for me: I'm beginning to trust this process. I'm relaxing into the fact that learning is going to bubble up no matter where the initial ideas came from. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and the trick is to stay open to it. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time with cousins

I read an article recently on a Unitarian homeschooling site in which the author said that one of the main reasons she homeschools is to be able to spend more and better time together as a family. I had read that same thought in a different place before I started homeschooling, when I was a school teacher, and I thought, "How weird. Like the afternoons, weekends, and summers aren't enough."

So wrong I was, wrong about that being true for everyone, and wrong about it being true for myself once I had kids. I cherish all different times of day for all different reasons, and I especially cherish the unhurriedness with which we can proceed through our days, weeks, months, and entire years. 

Today was a day that I felt that keenly. My mom has off on Fridays, and so keeps my older sister's two little girls, ages 6 months and 2 years. And all week I've been keeping my 7-year-old niece as my other sister finishes her last week of work before going on maternity leave. So today all these young cousins hung out together, doing nothing much in particular, but lots of making faces and playing games and getting to know one another better. I loved that. At one point, every single one of us (even Fox!) was in the pool, cheering on the new swimmers and splashing around with the more experienced ones. And there was playtime on the floor with the baby. Reading. Video gaming. Two kids and I went to the thrift store in the afternoon while two kids napped and another played the Wii with Nana. 

I want as much of this kind of time as I can get. I don't want to hope it coalesces on holidays or Saturdays or afternoons in the summer. I want it often and more. It was easy and smooth, flowing and free. The best kind.

I don't remember much interaction with my baby cousins, but I see what Woody has with his and I think it's really great.Daddy calls him the Gentle Giant of the Playground (to me, not to him) because little kids always come up to him to play, and he's very good to them.

We've were watching Olympic synchronized diving the night before last, and today's swimming featured  the signature dive, "The Average Flop," synchronized.

Aila reads fluently, and often reads to the other cousins. She likes this a great deal, and they do, too. 

Daddy Honey called us tonight at dusk Central Time from our backyard. I know if we didn't have this we would call on the phone, and if we didn't have the phone we would write letters, but it sure does feel like something special to be able to see somebody grinning back at you while you chat.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The horrible day at Blue Springs State Park (Orange City, Fla.)

This was the highlight of our time at Blue Springs. This pretty mess of dead cardinal. It was the only thing we all agreed on, stood around in wonder, marveled at quietly together.

Let me tell you.

This is the picture on the front page of official Blue Springs State Park webpage.

Looks nice, right? I could imagine Fox--he who is so newly venturing into the shallowest water--having a nice time here, feeling safe, watching others play happily on the water while he was content on the shore, stepping in when he was ready. I had just yesterday worked out our budget for the year, congratulating myself for having thought to earmark a certain amount for museums and parks. And this would be the first expense in that most beloved category! Surely $6 well spent during our month in the Sunshine State.

We walked a pretty 1/4 mile boardwalk trail along the spring run, growing more and more excited by the clear, shallow water, interesting fish, and dappled sunshine. 

We knew most of the manatees were up in the Saint John's River this time of year, but who knows, maybe we'd see one! The giant, gentle sea cows have long been one of my favorite things about Florida, and while Woody doesn't remember it, he swam with a family of manatees when he was 2 years old. 

We arrived at the end of the trail and found a large, crowded picnic area, then another short boardwalk, then this, one of the two "entry points" for the spring: 

A small, busy landing opening onto a metal staircase leading down into water that is immediately too deep for young children to stand in. The other landing was similar, only made entirely of metal, even more narrow, and leading to even deeper water. 

Fox had a complete breakdown. Screamed. Started running back for the car, 1/4 mile back. Screamed more. Regressed. "I hate water! I hate this! I hate water! This is the worst day ever!"

We helped him calm down. We asked around--where was the little beach from the webpage? Nope. No beach, they said. Maybe I had been looking at the wrong Blue Springs.

OK. Would Fox be willing to let me hold him on the landing while the other kids swam some? Maybe.

Would Aila and Woody be willing to swim by themselves if I were standing right there on the landing? Aila, yes. Woody, nope.

And the blaming began. Aila blamed Woody for ruining her time, since she didn't want to swim alone but would have been willing to swim with Woody. Woody blamed me for not researching the site properly and for choosing such a bad place for us to spend the day. Fox started screaming again. 

Oh, we were a sight. What could we do, but walk back to the car and go home?

Leaving, I tried to pull up short the blaming and angry rants. I empathized, but tried to move us forward. Sometimes these things just don't work out for everybody. Yes, it's frustrating and disappointing for those of us who might have liked to swim. It's also scary and upsetting for those of us who were not at all comfortable swimming in such an area. None of us had every been before, so we didn't know quite what to expect. Maybe we'd try again with two adults, or when everybody was a little older and more confident in the water. But the blaming continued.

So you can imagine, as we approached the end of the trail and neared the parking, sweaty and red-faced and huffing and puffing, how the pause at the tiny carcass was so welcome. The whole skull was showing, they said. They wondered how he died. Why weren't the ants there? The flies kept coming in and out of his little chest.

The spell had been broken. Their anger subsided. The complaining stopped. They were anxious to get back to Nana's house where they could swim in the pool where there were fewer people, steps to sit on, and snacks to eat waterside. I breathed deeply and tried to match their easy pace of recovery.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Window shopping

On our drive down to Central Florida from Northwest Arkansas, we passed many RV's. It has long been a dream of mine to travel extensively via RV. I love staying at state and national parks, but I get a little put-off by bad weather and the long set-up and tear-down times of camping. So, I mentioned to the boys that I'd like to buy one someday, the kind that's built on a van chassis--not huge, but big enough so that the boys could play in the back while I or Daddy Honey drove. We agreed it would be interesting to see inside of one, so we put on our list of possible things to do to visit an RV dealership.

I had no idea how crazy expensive motor homes are. Even the smallish ones! Like, six years old, still $35,000! The dealer told me--encouragingly, he thought--that a twenty-five-year-old model had recently sold for just $10,000. Heck, you can pay cash for something like that, he said. Right...

So, a dream it will stay for the time being. I walked away with a little pang of self-pity--with the only house we ever owned having been foreclosed on two weeks ago, and credit card debt still carried from when we were trying our darndest to stay living there, I was annoyed at myself for having thought that something like an RV was in our future. But you know what? The kids didn't care about my or anyone else's projections into some imagined bleak future that included only--gasp!--car travel and tent camping. They had fun just being there. They explored, asked questions about various features, decided on what the sleeping arrangement would be in each model we looked at, talked about places they'd like to visit.

That was it for them. The joy and interest of forty-five minutes spent doing something new. Who cares if they ever actually sleep in their own RV? They already had a good time in one. In several, in fact!

On the way home, we got gelati. I sat in the car with sleeping Fox and Aila and Woody sat beneath the big umbrella. It started to rain.