Saturday, August 1, 2015

Combat Ready - Obviously

In my travels across the lawn today with my phone, I happened to push some button that led me to the Facebook comments on this article:

For whatever reason – let’s call it heat-induced temporary insanity – I read them.  I thought I was hot before reading this one, but no.  This one made my blood positively boil:


Adam Sutherland Sorry but women dont belong in any combat slot. For a multitude of reasons. Not being sexist....just saying. Im all for women in the military, but NOT in combat slots.
#1 women need showers, men do not
#2 periods

#3 emotional instability due to period/birth control.
#4 love triangles or even couples within the ranks would be troublesome.
#5 physically weaker
#6 poor decision making out of menstrual discomfort(cramps).
#7 less of a KILL mentality.
#8 inability to carry a 160+ pound solider with over 80pounds of gear.
#9 do i need to keep going?
#10 allowing someone less qualified to fill a combat slot puts EVERYONE in danger, including the woman.
Like · Reply · 9 · 

Oh, Adam… where to begin? Let’s start by saying that your comments made an impression on me.  Not  good one, but an impression. 

I see from your profile that you work at US Army.  I realize that FB does not allow you to be grammatically correct in this section of useful information, so I’ll let that slide.  I wonder what exactly you do at US Army, and if you are indeed a combat veteran I will grant you one tiny shred of “benefit of the doubt.” However you, unlike some of the other vets who also posted comments (mostly positive), did not offer one single example to corroborate any of the items on your list.  Therefore I feel the need to pick you apart with the intensity of… well, of a woman.

You state that you are “not being sexist.”  Wow, really?  All of your statements except numbers 5 and 10 are overtly sexist, not to mention asinine.  Let’s break this down.

#1 Women need showers, men do not
I like getting dirty and I love my showers.  I love the feeling of being clean after working my land all day, or even for just a few hours.  I love rinsing off the dirt.  I love my shower in the morning to start my workday.  I was married to a MALE iron worker for 13 years who also loved showering when he got home in the evening.  I dated a guy who took two showers every day because he said he never felt clean enough.  Some of the ROTC men I went to college with were quite fastidious about their bathing habits; one young man who went on to be a Navy pilot would only shower immediately after the cleaning staff had been in so he was the first one to use it after it was sanitized.  I have also known women who shower once a week, taking an interim sponge bath if needed.  I can safely assume that all the women you know are the kind who do not like getting dirty.  There is nothing wrong with that!  But Adam you need to understand there are just as many men out there who do not like to get dirty either.  They are not requesting combat duty – heck, they are probably not even enlisting.  I think we can safely assume that a woman who is requesting combat duty is fully aware of the fact that she will get dirty and stay dirty for long periods of time, and that she is just as okay with this as the men. 
So yes, your comment is sexist – grouping all women into the “Eww, that’s icky!” box – and shows that you are not familiar with a wide variety of people, men or women.

#2 Periods
What exactly is your problem with this? You are here on this earth because of a woman who had periods.  Half the human population has a period once a month, and we’ve been doing this for millennia.  Just because the majority of the male population cannot possibly comprehend this phenomenon does not mean there is anything wrong or weird or strange about it.  You might not be able to explain how microwave popcorn “works” and yet you don’t ask questions or post ignorant comments about it. Or maybe you do, I haven’t checked. 
 Ask any woman who has been camping during her period – there are plenty of ways to deal with this.  Ask any woman who is homeless right now in this county.  Ask a female refugee living in a tent how they deal with it.  There are lots of answers because necessity is the MOTHER of invention.  We just figure that sh*! out, and its’ really none of your business.  However… let’s examine some of the statistics from the medical community and think logically about this:

So chances are a woman in a combat situation will be under enough environmental stress that her body will respond appropriately and kindly, and even if it doesn’t, I’m quite sure she’s not going to demand a cease fire to go buy tampons.  She will just deal with it, and I would bet that not one of the men in her platoon would even know. 
Yes, another sexist statement from you: an attempt to link a female attribute to inferiority with no backup. 

#3 emotional instability due to period/birth control
I will be the first to admit that I can absolutely tell when my period is on it’s way – I get cranky with my kids over stuff that usually doesn’t bother me, and I’m clumsy… okay, clumsier than usual.  I absolutely sympathize with women who have PMS and PMDD to a greater extent than me.  I have experienced depression and empathize with that as well.  I had an IUD and hated every minute of it – the cramps were so much worse than I’d ever had before.  It never once affected my ability to be a good mom or to do my job as an educator.   But here’s the deal:  I’M NOT ENLISTING.  I cannot imagine that a woman who experiences monthly difficulties to such a great extent as to have it affect her job is enlisting and requesting combat duty either.  There are a multitude of woman for whom their period is a short monthly inconvenience at its worst, never affects their daily life, and no one around them would ever know whether they were or weren’t menstruating.  Why shouldn’t they be allowed to consider a military career that includes combat?  There are plenty of men I know who work in an office all day and they do a wonderful job at their daily duties, but they also are NOT ENLISTING AND REQUESTING COMBAT, because they know they wouldn’t be good at it.   

And birth control? Well guess what: unless a woman is planning on having sex with a man, it’s NOT NECESSARY.  I have been single and sex-free for a few years now, haven’t needed or wanted birth control, and I’m FINE.   If a woman is not in a sexual relationship with someone who produces sperm, she does not need birth control.  I would venture to guess that sex is not an hourly thought of the women currently in Ranger training.  I know it’s not even a daily thought of mine.  I have so many things I want to do with my life, and making sure that I have sex regularly is not one of them.   There are just as many men I know as women for whom sex is not really that big of a deal.  It’s nice when you are in a relationship, but it’s not a basic need.  Why would you assume that single women are just sitting around waiting for a man? Is that the kind of women you know?  You need to get out more.
So another sexist comment, lumping all women into the category of “hot mess because of that uterus thing,” and phrased like a man who hasn’t been near one in a while.

#4 love triangles or even relationships…
Oh please… again, if all the women you know are simply waiting for a man to come along so they can start breathing again, you need to get out more.  And those women are, I’m sure, faking that on some level because even the most messed up, emotionally traumatized people I know have dreams and hobbies and things they do with their lives.  Just because you put men and women together in stressful situations does not automatically make them fall in love! You need to stop watching so many movies. 
This comment is stereotyping at its worst, dear Adam, and your sad assumption that a woman in a combat situation would be thinking about her vagina is horribly na├»ve. 

#5 physically weaker
Okay, I will give you one fraction of one point in this direction, because I know that generally speaking, women are built differently than men, with less upper body muscle mass, less muscle mass overall, and yes, less physical strength.  However, I can heft a 50 pound bag of dog food for 40 feet without breathing heavy in a normal stress free situation.  I know several men who, by choice, work in a low stress office job all day and struggle under the weight of a toddler.  I also know several women who can bench press you and two of your buddies in a normal stress free situation.  Basic biology can be overcome, the human body is incredibly malleable, and if you want muscles, you can build muscles.
But let’s not overlook the emotional component that battle brings to the table for BOTH men and women.  Women have adrenal glands just like men, and those glands secrete the exact same hormone in both men and women, with similar responses in both genders – fight, flight, or freeze.  The ability of a woman to choose or be trained to choose “fight,” and to fight with an incredible amount of strength in a life or death situation is no different than a man’s.  
While most women choose not to exaggerate their muscles, some do; and the opportunities afforded to those women should be the same as the ones afforded to men.
Women also bring a different kind of strength to a battlefield.  Ask any firefighter, LEO, or ER team about the strengths that women have, and you will be surprised at how strong we can be – emotionally and physically:

 Contests that involve tests of endurance show that women excel here:

Are women capable of performing the same duties as men under the same types of pressure? Yes, absolutely.  The only thing we have to overcome is the crappy attitudes of men like you, Mr. Sutherland.

#6 poor decision making out of menstrual discomfort
Please re-read #3.  Read it again.  Now, please understand, there are women for whom the whole process of puberty, menstruation, and menopause is a lifelong nightmare of hormone imbalances and this is not their fault, and there is nothing wrong with them.  Despite their physical and emotional difficulties they have wonderful lives, marriages, jobs, etc.  THEY ARE NOT THE ONES REQUESTING COMBAT DUTY. 
Having cramps does not make for bad decisions.  Dealing with people like you makes for bad decisions.  Like giving you the power to make me angry enough to write this response when I should be playing house with my child. 
So yes, sexist and ignorant.  Please get out of your small life and meet some more interesting people.

#7 Less of a KILL mentality
Could I personally stab, shoot, or strangle another human being? Probably not.  I can barely get the straw in the Capri Sun container, have never handled a gun, and have arthritis in my thumbs.  I AM NOT ENLISTING OR REQUESTING COMBAT DUTY.   But if you ever threaten my children or my home I can promise you I will be capable of a great deal of violence, despite my lack of training and physical ailments.  I will do anything I have to in order to keep my children safe and my home secure.  Adrenaline does interesting things.  
I value being an American and I have an incredible amount of respect and gratitude for our soldiers.  I pray for them and support them, but I’m not signing up to be one of them because that’s not for me.  Not because I’m a woman, but because I know myself.  Millions of other human beings sign up or do not sign up for exactly the same reasons.  They know what they – male or female – are capable of.  Let them do what they are capable of, and let the rest of us be eternally grateful. 

#8 inability to carry blah blah blah
This goes back to your argument about physical strength and is moot.  Please get out more.

#9 do I need to keep going?
Yes, if you would like to be removed from the gene pool.  However I hope that your argument here has been enough to discourage any woman from choosing you as a mate anyway.  Please refrain from speaking with anyone younger than yourself in the future.

#10 allowing someone less qualified to fill a combat slot puts everyone in danger, including the woman.
If you truly believe this, you will support gender-neutral qualifications and allow in whoever can pass the tests.  There are just as many men out in the field right at this moment who are not “qualified” to be there as there are qualified women waiting to take that role.  If a woman can beat a man in drills, load her weapon faster, shoot better, and pass the physical strength requirements, she should be out there on the field; she should not be placed in an office or medical unit JUST because she doesn’t have testicles. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I’m thankful I don’t live in the city limits of anywhere.  I like a lot of the people who live in the city limits of various places, but it sure seems like the closer people live to each other the more there is to complain about.  And be judgmental about.   My neighbors are close enough to ward off that fear of no one being able to hear me scream, but not so close that they can see me have coffee in my jammies on the porch.  Very nice balance of solitude and sharing, and I’m so lucky that – for now at least – I have it.

I’m thankful that, while I do sympathize anyone who’s been affected by ALS, I did not participate in the ice bucket challenge, and no, I didn't donate either.   I give to my church and I send a small donation every year to Sloan Kettering in honor of my dad, and I think it’s admirable for anyone to complete a challenge or to donate to the charity of their choice.  Or not donate.  Or not accept the challenge.  Whatever.   About seven thousand people die each year because of ALS related issues.  Between 3 and 6 MILLION worldwide die because they don’t have access to clean water. Donate where you feel it’s appropriate, please. 

I’m thankful for children’s books I can read in funny voices and make my kids laugh.  I have a pretty strict DEAR policy – Drop Everything And Read – and a wonderful selection of awesome books so when Echo brings a stack, they get read to her.  And the funny voices are one of the things even my older children still like.  I read something different the other day and one of them said, “Mom, that’s not the right way, the crocodile has a southern accent.”  Love it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday

So it's not Thursday... I'm trying...

I’m thankful for my mom, whose support – financial and emotional – has been the lighthouse in the storm of my life.  I have been able to keep my home and my sanity because she has been there for me and my kids.  I don’t tell her often enough how much I appreciate her strength and commitment to me.  Love you, mom.

I’m thankful for shower board.  This amazing invention has allowed me to create a 6 FOOT BY 6 FOOT calendar that keeps us – for the most part – swimming through the sea of chaos that is four kids and a working mom. 

I’m thankful for my friends John Rodabaugh and Shelly Smith, who are doing a monster job cleaning and repairing my Kubota lawn mower and I know I will get it back in mint condition.  Shelly will say all she did was feed him and put up with the complaining, but I know she helped.  She always does. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I went back to work on the 6th, the kids started yesterday, and I’m grateful for the return to routine.  Even if the routine involves chaos and more frozen food than I would like, I’m extremely glad to get back to it.  My summer was waaaay too short, I got done exactly ONE of the thousand things I eagerly stayed up late fantasizing about while searching Pinterest, and my toddler is potty trained but still not quite ready to give up the sippy cup. 

I’ve tried for years to get myself into some sort of a writing routine with about as much success as any other routine in my life, which is to say very very little.  Remember how often I get back out of bed to brush my teeth (and lately I’m sorry to say I’m dragging poor Echo with me because I didn’t even get hers done). 

A recent project at church has inspired me to try something small however.  We were handed a list of all the church members and friends, committees, groups, and even beloved former pastors.  Each name had a date next to it – the idea was for everyone to focus an extra prayer on that day just for that person or family or team.  So simple – say a little prayer when you normally pray, asking God to be there for them.  The power of group prayer is wonderful, and just to know that my family was being prayed for on that day was pretty amazing. 

One a day.  Just one little addition.  Those experts we all hear from frequently from the TheySay Company Incorporated, LLC tell us that if you make one little change every day, you can change your whole life in just a matter of months! But wait! That’s not all! Order now and… oh sorry, this actually is kind of true. 

I’m not looking to commit myself to something daily because that’s so… well, hard, frankly in my line of work (just being me, I mean).  No, I’m going to commit to a weekly project, and I have chosen Thursday because it is quite often the only night of the week that I’m not chained to someone else’s schedule. Thursday shall from here on out be known as the day I submit to you Three Things I’m Thankful For.  (I kinda have a crush on alliteration.)

So please enjoy finding out more about my life as I share them with you.  And if it inspires you to be thankful for things in your life, that’s wonderful – please share!  Or if it just inspires you to brush your teeth more often, that’s awesome too. Thanks for reading.

I’m thankful for my coffee cup.  I found it at the dollar store, and it’s the perfect size for holding loving with both hands on cold mornings.  It’s clear, which I really like because I had a horrible experience this last summer when I drank a fly.  Apparently the little guy needed a caffeine boost or was just suicidal and French Vanilla was the way to go.  They don’t usually show much interest in plain unsweetened coffee, but this one ended up in my black Minnie Mouse cup and I took a big gulp.  Immediately on feeling something strange in my mouth I ran for the sink and spit. Seeing the soggy dead  fly laying there in the sink sent me into an absolute frenzy – I don’t flinch at much, but this was more than too much.  I started gagging and crying, I rinsed my mouth with hot hot water, I considered a bleach rinse, I thought about having a fly IN MY MOUTH one too many times and actually threw up, brushed my teeth about seven times, spit repeatedly for over an hour because I was afraid to swallow, and then got interrupted mid-trauma by Echo waking up from her nap.  She was genuinely concerned about me, so I finally calmed down about it.  And put my beloved Minnie cup in the back of the cupboard.   This one allows me to see any possible contaminant, and I’m much happier now. 
I’m thankful for my wonderful, smart, perfectly normal, healthy kids.  I know, everyone has wonderful kids, but I’m blessed with four amazing young people.  I really do feel very fortunate, especially since I started working at a school.  I see over a hundred children every day, and I can’t help but compare them all to my own, and I realize how lucky I really am.  
And I’m thankful for my ex-husbands.  Yes, I am.  What they have taught me about myself has been humbling and empowering.  While I have ZERO interest in dating anyone else, I have learned that whether I ever find Prince Charming or not, it doesn’t matter.   I don’t NEED a spouse or a boyfriend to verify my value to the world.  Yes, there are things I miss about the few months of my life that I was actually happily married, but overall, to know my own worth as JUST ME is pretty wonderful.  I apologize to my family that it took two failed marriages to figure that one out. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I’m in love with my new toy.  No, and sort of sadly, it’s not what you think.  This is my new toy.

Last night I mowed part of my yard with this thing.   Night.   I was out mowing the lawn at 9:15pm.  Mowing.  At 9:15.  PM.   I mowed until I couldn’t see the sticks I’m not supposed to mow over. 

 Does it look like a golf course? No – but if I wanted golf course I would have made sure husband #2 was a plastic surgeon.  I love my un-fertilized organic weed- and mole-infested yard, all 10 acres of it.  If there's a husband #3 he won't be a plastic surgeon either.  Unless he also loves my lawn as is.

I got the best workout I’ve had in decades.  I was sweating and breathing air – not diesel fumes – and the only place grass clippings went was around my ankles.  This morning, everything hurts but in that really good “I just got an amazing workout” way, not in the “I sat on an uncomfortable seat bouncing around” way. 

Echo followed me around and chased flashy-buggies and I heard every funny thing she said.  We had races and she picked up sticks in front of me and it was fun. FUN.

I stopped – just stopped without having to put it in neutral, stop the blades, slow down the engine and put on the emergency brake and still not be able to hear what my child was shouting at me – to solve a frustration issue for Ben.  And then I started right back mowing.  Just started mowing again.  No complicated procedure that I never do right the first time anyway.  Just walking.  

I could hear the kids coming and going from the house and it was pure joy knowing where they were and kind of what they were doing.

I got closer to the fire pit and trees than the Kubota has ever managed, and without the frustration of a weed whacker, which has always been, in my opinion, one of the most poorly designed pieces of equipment in history. 

The Kubota will still be necessary for the larger fields, but I’m so happy with my new little mower for around the house and trees and swing set.  I haven’t been this happy in a long time.  And maybe in a few months I’ll be posting a picture of my new ass in a pair of size four jeans instead of lawn equipment.  That would make me pretty happy, too.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

No offense, but... it's just a word...

I recently followed a board on Pinterest that had a rather colorful cover page and by colorful I mean it used the F word prominently.  In neon.  This showed up on Facebook and was immediately leapt upon by a dear sweet friend of mine from church and my mother.  My mother came to my rescue by saying she was sure I didn’t know it would show up on my page for the whole world to see, and she’s partially right.  I didn’t know that people could see that on their news feeds from me, but I did know it was going to show up in that little section on the bottom left of my own page.  And I didn’t care.  The owner of the board has collected some of the most amazing quotes and sayings and I had so much fun reading them and I wasn’t the least bit offended when I saw what her cover photo was. 

But other people are offended by things like swear words, and I do apologize for having it featured prominently on your news feeds – that was never my intent and now that I know better, I will be more careful.

And the little scolding I got made me think about being offended. 

I’m seldom offended by anyone’s language for a lot of reasons. 

  1. I love language, all the words strange and beautiful, passive and strong. I love the history of languages, I love dictionaries and books and magazines and quotes and song lyrics and I read everything I can get my hands on.  Adore words.  All of them. 
  2. I know from experience that a person’s language can sometimes give you clues as to their upbringing, their family life, their education level or the job they do but it really can’t ever tell you what’s in their heart.  Some of the kindest people I’ve ever known swear all the time.  Sometimes very educated language comes from a cold, judgmental… meanie.  See, you wanted me to use a B word there. 
  3. I’m too busy being offended by other things.

Oh, yes – it is possible to offend me.

 I’m offended by the fears of 300 little African girls and their families; and by the fears of all the girls who are home safe tonight but fear for tomorrow because of what has happened.

 I’m offended by the knowledge that people are “training” for dog fights this weekend.

I’m offended by reality television shows, quite frankly.  Can’t stand them.  I do like to watch Jeremy Wade’s River Monsters, but with the sound off.  He’s yummy. And also Kitchen Nightmares.  Hilarious and scary. But most of the shows are just dumb.

 I’m offended by the idea that somewhere a pedophile is grooming his next victim with flattering text messages and emails.

 I’m offended that people I know and love had some very un-Christian thoughts about homosexuals today.

 I’m offended that a woman who probably had to make the hardest decision of her life today will have to walk through a picket line of hate-filled strangers to carry out that decision tomorrow.

 I’m offended by anyone who uses a child as a weapon in a relationship conflict.   

I’m offended that oil companies are still – STILL!!! – making huge profits. 

I’m offended by the pitch people who do school fundraiser pep talks and get my kids all riled up about trinkets and stuff they will never get.  I’m sorry, but selling ridiculously priced wrapping paper and candy to people who struggle financially so they can earn a plastic monkey key chain is NOT teaching them to set a goal and work for it.  NO, IT ISN’T. 

And I’m pretty defensive about how dirty my house is.  I know I’m not a great housekeeper.  Do not point it out to me.  I get bristly.  If you don’t want me to bristle, don’t come over.  Invite me to your house but do not, in your immaculate house that smells like apple pie instead of wet dog and teenage boy, apologize for two dirty cups in the sink and the pile of bills on the table.  I will tell you to shut up and mean it because I will be thinking about the roasting pan I finally just threw away and the gigantic stain on the carpet where the dog likes to sleep after swimming in the pond.

But this is about me being offended, not slovenly, so back to the list. 

Actually that about covers it.  I’m offended by hate, cruelty, injustice… and Honey Boo Boo.

 I would never presume to tell you that you cannot be offended by the use of language, and I certainly will apologize in the event that I inadvertently offend  anyone with my own language or the language in anything that is or appears to be connected to me. 

That was your disclaimer, by the way.

No, I’m far from being offended by swear words and a lot of other things that offend others, because  I recognize that sometimes you just have to throw your hands up in the air, release the strong person inside of you and refuse to accept personal responsibility for the self-induced drama of others. 

Of course it’s more fun to say fuck it, my inner bitch is out and your shit is not my problem. 

Made you smile.

Next up?  An etymology lesson.  Yep – this shit just got real.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Road Trip with a Toddler

Warning: This trip was taken by trained professionals on a planned course and it was still an exercise in patience and tolerance– it is not recommended for anyone regardless of your level of skill.  This information is presented for entertainment purposes only. If you do decide to take a road trip with a toddler, you’re on your own.

So for a lot of reasons I won’t go into, Roger and Echo and I had to go to Lake Worth, Florida to get some business taken care of.   We did a lot of  careful planning (ie: arguing about stuff),  purchased snack foods in bulk to avoid expensive stops at convenience stores, chose the most direct route and set a budget, and packed our things. Well, I packed anyway.  Fate watched us do all this and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Friday, July 12 – Departure Day
We planned to leave at 9am, so I got up at 7 and showered and packed my bathroom things.  Fate giggled.  I woke Roger, who growled at me and went back to sleep. I threw his bag at him and got no response.
8am: My mother in law called to let us know that the nephew who was going to travel with us and let us borrow his car was in the emergency room.   I priced rental cars online, went through the bid process several times, and then required CPR when the results came back.  After some phone calls between 9:30 and 10:30am: it was settled that we could still borrow the car, but would need to get the oil changed before we left.  And have the motor mounts looked at.  And perhaps get a new tire.  Roger starts packing.
 11am: Echo did not want to get in her car seat, so while Roger convinced her that we were going to the beach and it would be fun, I fed the pets, called the pet sitter again, unplugged everything, and walked through the house praying.  When I was done, Echo was still sitting in the driveway screaming.  I pulled out the arm floaties I got her and handed her the bottle (yes, she’s 2 and still has her bottle, don’t judge me until you’ve met her) and blankie and asked her nicely to come with us to the beach.  She finally agreed to let Daddy buckle her in, and we headed to my mother in law’s house.
11:30am: We stopped to find the bottle which she had thrown, I refilled it with milk from the stash that was supposed to last us at least half the actual road trip, and we got back on the road.
12:30pm: we arrive at the mother in laws to discover that the nephew is home from the hospital and would very much like to go with us. He is not packed. Echo tells everyone she is going to the beach over and over and over again.  I secretly hope that the repetition of her little excited voice will open a time portal. 
5pm : We take off in the nephew’s car and head east toward St. Louis.  Fate has the hiccups.
6pm: Just outside of Kansas City, we stop again to refill the bottle (I am now out of milk for the trip), throw away the snack wrappers, change a diaper, and the nephew decides that he is not well enough for the trip after all. 
6:45pm: We drop the nephew and all his stuff off at a friend’s apartment 20 miles back and take off again.  “I go beeeech!” even spoken 1,746,319  times by an adorable toddler is not opening up any sort of time travel option for us.  We are not going to be able to get the oil changed or anything else done at this point today, so I start looking for WalMarts along the route.  I am not disappointed.
10pm: Roger is finally sleepy, Echo has been asleep and so have I, and we stop in O’Fallon, MO.  We spend $12 on milk and coffee and a quart of oil and $40 on gas.  I tell Roger I don’t want to know how fast he’s been driving, and that he should probably just go to sleep and let me drive the way I want to. He warns me that I should at least be heading south before the sun comes up because he didn’t bring a welding hood.  He has a point.  Just as we get back on the road, Echo wakes up.  She is horribly disappointed that a: we are not at the beeeech yet, and 2: there is no video player in the nephew’s car.  We change her diaper on the side of the highway and are very relieved to find out its not poopy.  Plastic sacks don’t have much in the way of smell guard in a small car. 
3:30am: I am praying for signs for I57 south because the sun is already creeping up over the horizon, but blessedly Echo and Roger have slept through the night.  I have to pee and I would love a cup of coffee.  I tell myself that as soon as I hit I57, I will stop.  Fate wakes up. 
5am: I missed I57, apparently in the fog.  Roger is driving and I am recalculating the route.  We have coffee, milk, breakfast sandwiches (not in the budget) and a clean diaper on the baby, who is again lamenting the lack of video equipment.  734 “I watch Mickey?”s  does not open a time portal, either.
9am: We are outside of Lexington, KY, which should only have added 3 hours to the drive time.  Google Maps does not have children.  There is not enough sunscreen in the world to protect us from the UV rays blasting in the windshield at this point.  All I want right now is a portable DVD player and a shower.  We still have not gotten the oil changed.
12pm: Having already stopped six times for various things, we are still not even to Knoxville, TN but are at least heading south. Once we get to Knoxville, we will head southwest on I75 just in time for the sun to start going down.  We are both regretting not buying a portable DVD and prescription sunglasses when we had the chance.  Echo is crying because we are not at the beach yet, and she is having Mickey Mouse Clubhouse withdrawal.   Fate has a stitch in her side from laughing so hard, and she has cried off all her mascara.  I have not been able to sleep, and Roger is tired again.
4:30 pm:  Fate apparently found someone else to torture, because the last few hours have been quite peaceful.  The signs say Atlanta 40 miles, and I wake Roger up because I refuse to drive through Atlanta, even on a Saturday, at this time of day. In Knoxville we got the laptop from the trunk, found a Dora video in Echo’s backpack, and plugged it into the car charger.  It has been balanced precariously on a stack of stuff so that she can see it, and it was an okay substitute for Mickey.  I can just reach the replay button safely, but I resist the third time.  I’m a little tired of Swiper stealing stuff, frankly.
9pm: We are already to Gainesville, I slept the whole time and so did Echo.  We did not turn off the computer, and the fuse in the car charger has blown.  Roger did not deserve the quiet time, and I vow to make him change diapers for the rest of the trip as revenge.  We are sick of beef jerky and cheese sticks so we stop in Gainesville for dinner.  Since we have been careful with fast food and only gotten drinks on our stops to this point, we spring for a truck stop diner.  I have a BLT that is moderately acceptable and Roger has a burger.  When her chicken strips arrive, Echo announces that she wants nuggets instead.  It takes 20 minutes to convince her that she does indeed have nuggets, and she takes one bite.  We get a to-go box. 
1am: We have run out of gas on the side of the highway 10 minutes from our destination.  In my defense, the tank shows 1/8 and the light is not on.  Our hosts come to rescue us and are very kind about it.  I am too tired to even think about standing up for a shower, but Echo won’t settle down so she gets a bath.  I am jealous, but still not enough to stand up that long.

July 14 – The Morning after our arrival
I want to stay here forever rather than drive back. We take Echo to the beach and she has a blast. We left the floaties in the van at my mother in law’s so we go to WalMart to get more, spend $30 on floaties, beach toys, milk and bottles of water, and a swimsuit for me (yep, I forgot to pack it),  I burn my feet on the sand, get 1000 mosquito bites, and decide that home has it’s benefits. Plus I would miss my other kids.  A little. 

July 15 – a day of rest
Our business is pretty much concluded, we go to another beach and pick up shells and find a disgusting sea sponge that Roger wants to keep, and spend the rest of the day napping because it is too hot to do anything else. I miss my own bed.  The pet sitter has left messages saying he is unable to keep coming over as he is having surgery.  I call our neighbors and leave a message asking them to feed the pets. I don’t hear back, but the cats can mouse and the dogs eat road kill anyway, so I hope they will be fine.

July 16  - Departure day
It is raining sideways.  The gym equipment we need to put in the back of the truck for the trip home could potentially get ruined, which means the point of this whole trip is moot.  We load up anyway, wring out our  clothes, and get on the road.  We have to stop hourly to change diapers because Echo is pooping today – she alternates days.  The bright spots in this are getting to see my cousins in Daytona, my aunt in Fort Walton Beach, and of course, getting home. Eventually. At this point death would be okay too.

July 17
After a wonderful night of rest and great conversation and a nice shower in Daytona, we are back on the road.  I10 in Florida is a lot like I70 west through Kansas – snore…  If Roger is in front of me, Echo says, “I see Daddy!” at the top of her little lungs every 14 seconds.  If he is behind me, she says, “I can’t see Daddy!” equally as often.  We stop three times to let her ride with Daddy, then me, then Daddy again.  The snacks are gone, and the budget is shot. Gas is ridiculous down here.  I want to go home.  The neighbors call to ask where the dog food is.  I still have enough heart left to be a little concerned about my dogs.  Well, actually I’m more worried about the condition of my house.

July 18
A wonderful night with my Aunt in Fort Walton Beach and we are back on the road.  I am out of patience and money is short, and I tell Roger that if we do not get to the Missouri state line by the time we both need sleep, I will never change another diaper as long as I live. We make it to Sikeston, MO by 9:30pm.  The Motel 6 is not bad. Echo would like to know when we are going to go the beach. 

July 19 – the Home stretch
I have never been so happy to see familiar gas prices and be able to get UNSWEET tea in my life.  Echo again needs us to stop every hour and change a diaper (it’s another pooping day) and switch cars, but we make it across the state to Joplin, where we pick up my step-son and head home.  The dogs have survived, the cats are disdainful, and the only casualties are a stuffed animal and a board book.  

July 20
We have to drive north to get our van and drop off the car.  None of us want to get in the car.  We argue about who is going to drive.  Echo wants to know if we are going to the beach.  I put her floaties on her and tell her to go play in the puddles in the driveway.  Beach a la Missouri.  She’s perfectly happy. We eventually make it up north and I apologize profusely for not getting the oil changed.   I don’t feel quite so bad however, when Roger comes back in the house and announces that the van won’t start. 

It’s out of gas. The moral of this story is if you can afford to fly - DO IT!