Tuesday, June 28, 2005

So, What's Up With Carl?

When I went to the Quad Cities this past weekend, I took Mary with me. Carl, obviously, stayed home because he'd just had surgery, and Hannah stayed with him to help him out and do the chores I usually do (like feed the dog). This worked out really well for Carl. He had his post-op physical yesterday, and the doctor said he's doing pretty well. The doc recommended lots of walking, so he and I will begin walking together early in the morning, starting tomorrow. Why not today? Because of the lightning and thunder, that's why.

Anyway. The doctor also told Carl not to return to work until next week, which is fine with me. Carl's main concern about going back is what to wear. He can't wear regular waist pants (they're too tight on his incisions) so he tried on some "swishy" pants (the nylon shell-cotton lined athletic pants) that I have, and they fit him just fine. So he'll borrow those until he can get his Dockers back on. (FYI - they're called "swishy" pants because that's what Mary calls them.)

Carl isn't supposed to lift more than 20 pounds for the next couple of weeks, and then he can slowly begin to resume "normal" activity. He's already resumed some normal activities like helping with the dishes, feeding the kids and other stuff that he can do standing up. We should be able to go camping July 8 as long as I do the bending and heavy lifting. This is not a problem. Carl's a really good supervisor. The other thing Carl can do is play around on the computer. Now that he has time to sit (and do nothing else) he can play with the new DSL system we have. He's already purchased and downloaded a bunch of music from Wal-Mart, some for him (The Cars and Foreigner) and some for me (Manhattan Transfer). He also logs in to work to check and answer his e-mails. You can take the engineer out of Rockwell, but you can't take away his urge to work.

Carl has to go back to the doctor July 11, right after we return home from camping. It will be interesting to see how much farther he's progressed, and what other "normal" activities he can resume. Not that he's being all that lazy now. You'd be amazed at the things he can do standing up.

And no, you don't get details. ;-)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Picture Posting Test

This is our family's dog, Judah. He's a black lab-rottweiler mix. He stands 28" at the shoulder, 36" at the head, and weighs about 106 pounds. Mike, the city's water meter reader person, had to be introduced to the dog by me, and I had to convince the dog that it was OK to let Mike in the yard. Even so, Mike still has to rattle the gate and let Judah know he's there, or Judah will charge at him. Mike also bribes Judah with poochie treats, which helps. However, the person who reads our electric meter changes from month to month, so whoever comes to our house has to read the meter through binoculars because Judah won't let him in the gate. The gas meter reader guy is lucky - the gas meter is located outside the fence.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sweat Equity

I spent my weekend in the Quad Cities helping my brother Keith move. There were two reasons for this: 1) I have the only pickup in the family, so I get to be the hero whenever anyone needs anything large moved, and 2) in return for my labors I got to bring home Dad's old John Deere 214 lawn tractor. Keith got the tractor when my parents moved off their farm three years ago, but now that he's moving, he no longer needs the tractor, so I get it. This is nice because our yard is large (not as large as Keith's was, but oh well) and while one adult is mowing with the rider out front, the other can mow the backyard with the pushmower. Why not use the rider in the back? Simple: it won't fit through the gate.

Anyway. It was a long, tough weekend of work. The heat was the worst. Within ten minutes of being outside, you were already soaked with sweat. And most of the work was done outside. Vehicles had to be loaded, stuff in the garage still needed to be packed, the tractor (as a final insult to my long-suffering brother) had to have an innertube replaced, and the 1948 Ford that Keith is trying to restore had to be loaded on a trailer for transport. (That's what the pickup was for.) Then all the stuff had to be taken over to my Mom's (another long-suffering individual) and unpacked into her garage. Keith and his lovely missus-to-be Cindy will close on their new house July 12, so that following weekend I'll go down again to help pick it all back up and haul it over there. I hope the weather is cooler.

On a lighter note, my other brother Bob and his wife Angie were in the Quad Cities, too, so Bob could participate in a time-trial style bicycle race in Barstow, IL. (As a side note, since he was there, I gave him a bunch of furniture to take to his daughter, a.k.a. my niece, in Cincinnati, OH.) But I digress. Bob wanted to have a competitive edge in the race, so I made him a "cooling vest" to wear whilst he warmed up his legs. It's kinda complicated, but the idea is to keep the chest cool while warming the legs so you don't heat up too fast in the race and you have more endurance, or something like that. Apparently, Nike made a sophisticated cooling vest for Lance Armstrong, but we don't have that kind of money, so I made one for Bob using an old life vest, a bunch of flexible ice packs, and the handyman's secret weapon (duct tape). It was a sight to behold - so much so that I made a sign for the top of the cooler that he kept the vest in. The sign said, "This vest brought to you by Hentrich Engineering. Motto: Don't ask, we don't want to explain it." Bob got a good laugh out of that, and also out of the Emergency Vest Repair Kit: a ziploc bag with a roll of duct tape and a roll of black electrical tape. But the vest did its job, and Bob won the silver medal in his age group. (Yeaaaa! Whoo-hoo!!) There were, however, a few people who griped that Bob was being "unfair" by using the vest. To them I say, "Oh, huh-Waaaah!" (insert raspberry here). Yeesh.

Meanwhile, back here it Atkins, the tractor is now unloaded off the pickup and has been taken for a test drive around the yard. I'll have to do some rearranging in our garage to make everything fit nice, but in the meantime we'll park the Deere between the vehicles and just back one out when we want to mow. This is not a problem. And a nice side benefit?......

...I can eat chocolate as I mow.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

This Job Stinks

You never really appreciate your spouse's contributions to household life until such time as the spouse can no longer perform those duties. Case in point: Friday is Atkins' garbage day, and they come really early in the morning, so Carl usually gets the garbage together on Thursday night and then puts it out by the "curb" when he leaves for work. It's Mary's chore to help Carl gather the garbage together inside the house, but it's Carl's duty to bag it up and haul it out.

Well, needless to say, you can't be picking up forty pounds of garbage when your hernia stitches are still healing, so the bagging of the garbage fell to me. And of course this is the first week of 2005 where the temperature is 90-plus degrees, and anything out in the garage garbage can gets ripe within half an hour of deposit. And this was a really ripe load: chicken fat and skin, dog poop, banana peels and a dead mouse. Then add the regular household garbage, and P.U.!!!! You develop an instant appreciation of your spouse's ability to do this job and not puke.

But I got the bagging done. Now all that's left to do is get up at 6 am and haul the garbage to the end of the driveway. That's the easy part. I don't dare leave it out overnight, not with the size of our local raccoon and coyote populations. And getting up at 6 am isn't that bad - I can get other stuff done outside before it gets too hot. And I can always take a mid-morning nap while Mary's at swim lessons.

Oh, by the way, Carl's doing better every day. He hasn't taken any Percocet today, just ibuprofen, so he can't be in too much pain. (As if he'd tell me, anyway.) He has a good appetite and can't seem to keep away from his remote login at Rockwell, so all things considered he's as close to back to normal as you can get for the second day after your surgery. Thanks for your prayers; God's taken good care of my little Schnookie. Ain't God wonderful?

I think I'll go now. I hear a Hershey bar in the cupboard calling me...........

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hernia Surgery - The Next Day

It's been about 22 hours since Carl had his surgery, and already he's back at work. Seriously. Well, actually he's home, sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter with our newly repaired laptop, connected via Internet to his remote desktop at Rockwell, and he's plugging away. He was supposed to go to Wichita KS on Monday to do a presentation at Cessna, but the doctor said, "No, you have to come see me that day." I was relieved. I thought Monday was waaaaay to soon for Carl to travel that far.

And speaking of Carl's doctor, Dr. Wilkinson (yes, as in Wilkinson sword - maybe that's why he's a surgeon) its a good thing that first impressions don't necessarily belie the truth. Pastor Bill and I were sitting with Carl in pre-op yesterday, and we heard CLOMP-CLOMP-CLOMP coming down the hall. The first thing I saw was a pair of black Oxford shoes, then the doc came in. My immediate reaction was "Good grief, he looks like an undertaker!" If the theme song from Alfred Hitchcock had started playing, it would have been totally appropriate. The doctor was very tall and thin, had a 1970's haircut (complete with sideburns) and was wearing a three piece suit. However, the doctor not only had a better than average bedside manner, he was downright funny. He had a way of putting you at ease (at least temporarily) and his ability to banter with the patient was perfect. I guess you could say Dr. Wilkinson has a rapier wit. (bu-da-bump) But he did a good job patching Carl up. Maybe too good. Now I can't keep Carl from working. I should have had the doc remove Carl's stubborn gland (wherever that is).

So, anyway. I feel comfortable enough now to leave Carl with Hannah for a while so I can go get some groceries. I mean, he's been up, at work, and is now slurping down a Mountain Dew. So I'm not worried about him. Much. Well, maybe a little.

I think I'd better buy him some chocolate.......

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Update on Carl's Hernias

Today was the day Carl had his hernias operated on. They did a "laparoscopy" (sp?) which means they removed his Laplander genes. No, wait. That's a "lapendectomy". Laparoscopy means they cut a few small holes in him, stuck some very small surgical instruments in him, and fixed him up using robots and computers and monitor screens and stuff like that. I wanted to watch, but they wouldn't let me. Darn.

Our pastor, Bill, came while Carl was waiting to go into surgery. We chatted, and he prayed with us (which was really nice) and then the nurse came and wheeled Carl into surgery. Bill and I had to leave: Bill had other stops to make, and I had to run an errand to the vacuum place that services the church's vacuum equipment. This is really embarrassing, but I thought the belt was broken, and all the vac guy had to do was push a "reset" button, and viola! the vac was fixed. I didn't know there was a reset button. I do now. After the vac was "fixed" the vac guy (P.J.) went out to my truck with me and loaded the vac for me. He's a really nice guy. But while we were out there, a man approached us and looking for a ride to the other side of town. He really creeped me out. I said "My husband's in the hospital, I have to leave" and P.J. said, "Go on" so I left. But I was afraid this guy might try to rob P.J. so I called the police and let them know about this guy. And given that my husband was in surgery at the time, this was a stressor that I really DID NOT need.

Therefore, I indulged myself in a "comfort food" lunch: an Arby's chicken salad sandwich, chocolate shake, and apple turnover. I really like their chicken salad sandwiches, and of course chocolate anything will help a person feel better. I took my food "to go" and ate it in the vending area of the surgery center lobby.

But here I am, moaning to you about my day, and Carl's laid out on the sofa-sleeper with a bunch of holes in his abdomen and Percocet in his bloodstream. So for the next couple days I'll baby him completely. However, Friday I get to go to Bettendorf and help out my brother Keith, so I'll take Mary with me and leave Hannah home with Carl. She's a pretty good helper, plus she can feed the dog, no problem.

Well, I need to go check on Carl. But I'll be back to give you another update as soon as I can. In the meanwhile.......PASS THE CHOCOLATE!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Friday Blatherskite

I started this post yesterday (June 16th) which was Hannah's 11th birthday. We haven't celebrated yet - we're waiting until Monday when my Mom comes up and besides, I haven't had a chance to do any shopping while the girls aren't around. I hope to do some shopping this weekend while Carl spends time with our little angels.

I did ask Hannah what kind of dessert she wanted. She asked for rhubarb pie. Now, usually she takes after her Dad - she gets up early, she has his skin and hair type, asks for chocolate cake, etc. (Carl's favorite cake is German chocolate, with coconut icing.) But in asking for pie she takes after her Grandpa Hentrich. Mom always made him pie. I know he probably had a birthday cake at some point, but I don't remember when. Not that there's anything wrong with birthday pie. No one around here is objecting, especially since I just bought a gallon of Schwan's vanilla ice cream to go with it.

That was yesterday. Today I had two neighbor kids, Shannon and Jacob, over while their Mom went to the dentist. Shannon is Mary's best buddy, and Jacob and Hannah get along well. I actually had a pretty quiet morning because the four kids kept themselves pretty well occupied. I managed to finish the laundry (by which I mean folding) now all I have to do is take it upstairs and put it away.

I keep losing the ambition I have (had?) to go mow the grass. It's been a week, and the grass is starting to go to seed. I mean, every morning I get up and I think "OK, today's the day I'm gonna mow the grass" but it never gets done. By noon its pretty warm out, and I'm not a huge fan of sunburn and sweat. So I find things inside to do, like laundry and dishes. (yeah, and blogging)

But I'd better go get at it. There's a ton of yard work to do, plus I want to clean the house this weekend (before Carl goes into surgery). So if you see my ambition anywhere, would you send it back, please?

OK, Nancy, now put your legs underneath you, hoist your lazy butt out of the comfy chair...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Up To Date

Well, the phone crew guys have come and gone, and now I have DSL internet. They set it up on the computer and everything, so I get to use it now. I thought I'd have to wait until Carl got home tonight, because Carl said he'd have to change some settings, but if I can blog now, I will. So there.

I like our phone company. It's small and has good customer service. You actually talk to a person when you call for help or anything. And the phone crew guys were really nice. They were early, and said "hello" when I let them in. "Hello" was followed by "That's a big puppy!" when they saw Judah outside the kitchen door, looking in with an intense "there are strangers in my house" face. Fortunately, they didn't have to go into the back yard for anything. They installed filters on the phone lines in the house instead of on the incoming box outside. Given the size of my dog, that's very understandable. But they worked quickly and efficiently, and were done and gone within half an hour. Like I said, I like our phone company.

The bad news is, the wireless router Carl bought Sunday is useless, at least for the next week. That's because the motherboard on our laptop crashed and died last night. The laptop's still under warranty, so I'm waiting for the FedEx guy to show up with a box for me to pack the computer into. Once packed, I call FedEx back, and they come and get the box and ship it to Computer Repair Oblivion. We should get it back within five business days. So they say. Carl is hoping to get a motherboard with a faster processor. That's a possibility, because motherboards have a shelf life of three months, and our laptop is nine months old. So here's hoping.

Poor Carl. He's had a rough week, ever since we got back from South Dakota. Sunday was OK, but on Monday he went to the dentist and found out he needs to have a tooth crowned. Also, when he got to work, he found out that he has to go to Wichita, KS on the Monday after his hernia surgery and give a presentation to the bigwigs at Cessna. Fortunately, they get the company plane to use, so they won't have to stay overnight. Yesterday he went to the doctor's office for a pre-surgery physical, and it took them forever to get it done. Then last night the laptop crashed. The poor guy cannot get a break. I think he needs a chocolate overdose to make him feel better. That always works for me.

So now I must go from the high tech world of DSL internet to the low tech world of gardening and yard work. It's a pain, but someone's got to do it, and since Carl's at work and the girls are too young to run the mower, it falls to me.

Please pass the chocolate...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Rural Iowa goes High Tech

Tomorrow (Wednesday) a crew from our local phone company will be coming over to wire our house for DSL high speed internet, or whatever its called. Carl set the whole thing up - all I know is its the fastest we can get (512) and they're coming at 9 am so we'd all better be up, dressed and fed before 8:50. I'd better go to bed early tonight.

Anyway. So when Carl gets home from work tomorrow night, he'll have to update settings on our computer so that we can use the new DSL. Then I can e-mail everyone and let you know what our new e-mail addresses are. We'll be getting a new server and everything, so I suppose it will take me time to learn the new system.

I'm glad we're doing this. Dial-up stinks. I only wish it were cable modem, which is even better, but this is after all rural Iowa so what can you expect? There are still people out here who don't even have computers!!

But I digress. So watch your e-mail for our address updates, either late tomorrow night or first thing Thursday. See you then!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Home Sweet Home

I can think of few things worse than riding nine hours in a vehicle with a constipated ten-year old. Medieval torture comes to mind. Needless to say, the trip home was a real trip. We knew Hannah was backed up Friday night, so we gave her an extra dose of her prescription laxative to get things moving. However, it didn't start working until early afternoon Saturday, and when it kicked in, it kicked in with a vengence. We stopped twice, once in Worthington, Minnesota and again in Marshalltown, Iowa, so Hannah could unload. We chose restaurants to stop at so that once Hannah finished, we could get meals (not that anyone was all that hungry). Fortunately, everything came out all right in the end. (HA!)

So now we're home. We pulled in around 8 pm last night, unloaded the SUV (no laxative required) and checked on the dog. He was really happy to see us and immediately played on my guilt by begging for (and getting) poochie treats. Then I checked on the garden and the rain gauge (no, I didn't cease to see where I was a-goin'). We had about one inch of rain, plus humidity and heat, so the garden really went to town. My tomato plants tripled in size, and so did the weeds. I need to get out there and clean things up, and since the girls are out of school now they get to help me. (heh heh heh) My flowering perennials also grew and started flowering. They look really healthy, and so do our trees, thankfully. They'd suffered during a late frost, but have recovered nicely.

We decided to sleep in today. I don't know what time Hannah or Carl woke up, but I got up at 8:30 and Mary finally rolled out at 9:30. Poor Boo-Boo, she was really tired. We plan to go into town tonight, run a couple of errands, and catch the evening worship service at church. We really had a wonderful time on vacation, but as the old saying goes, its good to be home.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Greetings from South Dakota, Part 3

Well, today is the last day of the vacation. Tomorrow we head back to Iowa, hoping that our sump pump has remained in working order throughout the rain that's hit Iowa while we've been gone.

Today's vacation synopsis: we left Rapid City at I'm not sure what time because we stopped first at Sam's Club and Hobby Lobby to run a couple errands. Oh, come on, you can't expect me to see a Hobby Lobby and not go in, can you? Anyway. We wanted to go through the Air and Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, but we didn't have time. We did go through the Badlands. That was cool, and the girls liked it. They saw a family of mountain goats, and they got to climb on some of the hills, so they had fun. After the Badlands we drove back to Chamberlain and checked into the hotel. Then we met Carl's mom, brother Loren and Loren's family at Pizza Hut and had a little "birthday party" for Hannah, and also for Loren's son Jeffrey. After supper we came back to the hotel - the kids swam and the adults sat around and chatted. Nice and relaxing.

So tomorrow we pack it all up and head home. We took plenty of pictures, and I think I can con Carl into taking them to Mom's next weekend, either via laptop or memory stick, so we can share them with whoever comes over. We're looking forward to helping my brother Keith move, although we may have to take Moose Mutt with us because I don't think we can find a dog-sitter so soon. I'll probably blog again on Sunday and let you know how the trip home went, and also if the house survived the week-long Iowa rainstorm.

I can't wait to check the rain gauge - unless I cease to see where I'm a-goin', ya know.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Greetings from South Dakota, Part 2

I'm really glad Carl let me buy that hoodie yesterday.


Because we spent all of today in the Black Hills, and it was COLD. I mean, back home in Iowa, the low today was 67 degrees. Up here, the high was, like, 55. And only after the sun came out, and that didn't happen until mid afternoon. For most of the morning, we had a fine soaking rain and a temperature of 49 degrees. I'm glad I packed the girls' hooded sweatjackets. Brrr!

However, that didn't deter us from having fun. After breakfast we went to Mt. Rushmore. The kids were (predictably) impressed. We hiked the entire trail around the base of the mountain, which was good because we needed to work off some of the calories we'd accumulated at the three Bode family parties. After Rushmore we drove to Hill City and bought tickets to the 1880 Train. This is a steam engine powered train ride, round trip between Hill City and Keystone (SD, not IA) on an old mining spur line. The views were nice, and we passed through some cuttings that were carved out of the solid rock with only dynamite and pickaxes back in 1880 (thus the name). We bought the tickets an hour and 20 minutes before the train was to leave, so we walked around downtown Hill City. They have some neat art galleries and antique shops, which Mommy dragged the girls into. I didn't buy anything, but I was tempted! For lunch we went to Dairy Queen because we'd promised the kids we'd go to one sometime, and this was that time. After lunch, we did the train ride, and then drove up to Lead (pronounced LEED) and Deadwood where we got on to the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Highway. And when they say scenic, they mean it. The mountains lining the canyon go straight up, and the views are absolutely awesome. Carl stopped a few times and took pictures. The coolest thing we saw was Bridal Veil Falls, and I got pictures of that. I could have stayed there for hours, sketching, but the girls were impatient to get back to the hotel pool, so we kept going. After the Canyon we stopped in Spearfish for supper, then back to Rapid City, where it started raining again.

But now the girls are down at the pool with Carl, and I'm happily blogging away. Oh, and a note for Mom: I got Hannah the "Sheila the Great" book I e-mailed you about. I hope you hadn't gotten it yet, and if you have to take it back I'm sorry.

But I must go. I have a load of clothes in the dryer in the Guest Laundry facility, and if I don't go get them immediately after the dryer stops, the pain-in-the-butt gal who yanked my clothes out of the washer will yank them out of the dryer in another messy heap. The jerk.

Hmmm. I've had to make a Wal-Mart run, and now I'm doing laundry. How did I end up doing household chores on vacation?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Greetings from South Dakota!

Yes! I am sitting in a hotel room in Rapid City, South Dakota, typing away and sending this to you via free wireless internet service. Boy, do I like this hotel! FYI, its the Comfort Inn and Suites on North LaCrosse, so if you're ever in Rapid City, stay here. Its worth the bucks.

Anyway, we've been in SD since Friday. So far, we've been to three family parties and endured nearly severe AND severe thunderstorms every night but Saturday. Last night's was a doozy. We saw two weather spotter trucks on I-90 and another one in Chamberlain (the town where Carl's mom lives). We were staying out in the country with Carl's brother Loren and his family, and thunderstorms out there are a hoot and a half. I only wish I could have seen some cloud features, but the storms were all after sunset, so I was out of luck.

But staying at Loren's is nice. The girls have their cousins Sarah and Jeffrey to play with, and also Candy the Chocolate Lab and about a bizillion cats. I spent time with Julie, Loren's wife, helping her make food for the various get-togethers, and when I wasn't helping Julie I was sitting outside drawing. I made drawings of the old shop, the corn-crib-barn-thingy that's falling down, and a section of picket fence that had a nice flowerbed in front of it. I also took photos of the things I drew in case I want to make paintings of them later. Ahhh, rest and relaxation.

Another nice thing about this trip is Carl's brother Steve and his wife Chris came up from Texas. They haven't been "home" for about six years, and it was nice to see them. They're both good horseback riders, so Chris gave Jeffrey some tips on riding his horse Goldie. She (the horse) hadn't been ridden in a while and was refusing to take her bit, but Chris got her bridled. After she took Jeffrey around, giving him pointers on how to make the horse obey, Loren gave both of my girls rides on the horse by letting them sit in the saddle while he led the horse around. But then Steve got on the horse. She didn't want to cooperate but Steve made her. I guess you had to be there, but it was alot like watching a rodeo. Steve's a tough guy, and really stubborn, even more stubborn than Carl, believe it or not. I didn't think there was anyone more stubborn than Carl. (Just kidding, honey.)

So anyway. Today we drove out to Rapid City and since we couldn't check in to the hotel right away we took the girls down to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where Carl went to college for his bachelor's degree. They have a Geology Museum there, with fossils and minerals and neat rocks and stuff. The girls loved that. Then Carl gave us a walking tour of his campus (its a very small campus) then we hit the bookstore for some souvenirs. Mary got a short sleeved t-shirt, Hannah got a long sleeved t-shirt, Carl got a travel mug and I got a yellow hoodie. Now I can go to the Iowa-ISU game this fall and not have to take sides. Whoopee! Later today we plan to take the girls to Storybook Island, which is basically a giant playground, then after dinner I plan to do some shopping for Friday (details shortly). Tomorrow we'll go into the Black Hills and see Mt. Rushmore, then drive around and see various sites that Carl knows and can easily find (and that aren't cheesy). Friday we'll head back to Chamberlain, stopping at the museum on Ellsworth AFB (before the bureaucratic morons close it) and also going through Badlands National Park. Friday night is Jeffrey's birthday, and since Hannah's birthday is a week from tomorrow we'll celebrate hers, too. We plan to take everyone out to eat at Pizza Hut, and I'm going to get some birthday presents for the kids. That's what the shopping's for.

So I'd better be going. Mary's practically jumping up and down with impatience, and besides, Carl wants to use the computer, too.

And you know how stubborn HE is...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Summer Is Upon Us

Tomorrow is the kids' last day of school (thanks to snow days) and Friday we're heading out to South Dakota to visit Carl's family. His brother Steve and Steve's wife Chris will be there: we haven't seen them in, like, five years. Therefore, Carl's mom is hosting a family get-together at "Charlie's", a little restaurant in Chamberlain. I hope they have kids' menus.

But anyway. It takes about nine hours to go from Atkins to Chamberlain, and as all you parents know, driving for that long with kids in the car can be, well, frustrating at times. Especially when Hannah wants "alone time" and Mary doesn't want to leave Hannah alone. We'll handle it (we have before) but it doesn't mean I'm gonna like it. We find that incorporating technology (like DVD and CD players) helps.

Speaking of Hannah (and technology) earlier this spring she bought herself anMP3 player which she uses almost daily, mostly on the school bus as a way to withdraw from the sensory overload. Too much stimulation and her autism kicks in and she shuts down. Anyway, she likes to listen to "current" rock and pop stations (not the "oldies" stations that Mommy likes) so I helped her program those stations on the boombox in her room. Now she'll go in her room, shut the door, and crank on the tunes. That's her Hentrich side coming through, isn't it? Well, the other day she was in her room, door open, but she was singing one of the songs she'd heard. I was coming up the stairs and when I realized what she was doing, I burst out laughing. Hannah asked why, so I told her that I was having a "deja vu" moment: that she was me and I was my Mom and it was like watching myself thirty years ago. So she goes back to her room and keeps doing whatever it was she was doing. A little later Mary comes in, and they're playing, but Hannah is trying not to speak loudly. Mary says, "Why are you singing like that?" and Hannah says "I'm trying to whisper the song so Mom won't get embarrassed." And she said it so innocently. Of course I burst out laughing again. I couldn't help it. I'll bet you couldn't help it, either.

Anyway - so we'll be gone from Friday until Saturday, the 11th. I won't have access to a computer (remember we're going to South Dakota) so I won't be blogging until I get back. Then I promise to blog all the highlights of our trip. Provided there are any.