Spent Monday in the Black Hills, visiting Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park. The landscapes (and variety) were stunning. Pics follow:
After a long day’s drive yesterday through the final portion of South Dakota and part of Wyoming, we are happily ensconced in our cabin in Estes Park, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Alli has declared Colorado her favorite state, and our cabin “way more awesome than our house and she’d like to live here if she could have her cats come with”. Will surely post pics as we travel this area for the next few days.
We left Evanston Friday afternoon, and have traveled through Wisconsin, Minnesota and most of South Dakota. Staying one more day in South Dakota, then on to the Rockies in Colorado. It’s been a nice trip — lots of driving but punctuated by some great, kitschy/funky stopovers and mainly good weather excluding one of the worst rainpours we’ve ever attempted to keep driving through. Last night we went to a rodeo (my first ever), and Andrew and I were both struck by how different and also maybe how (over-?) complicated our lives feel relative to folks in a small town in South Dakota. Toured the badlands today, which were really stunning. Alli’s done great in the car thus far, is immersed in collecting “states” from license plates, and seems to be having a blast.
Extreme Home Makeover (a la Ty Pennington) is currently doing the house literally right across the street from my sister’s (so much so that one of the cameras is mounted on her house’s roof). Apparently it’s quite the production, with the neighborhood practically becoming a gated community/film set for the next week. My sister and her husband got to witness the big kickoff, and just left for an extended weekend anniversary trip to Atlanta, but will be back in time for the big reveal next week. If you’ve ever doubted that this stuff actually gets done in a week, I guess we’ll know for sure!
[link removed due to highly irritating unchangeable auto-run feature]
All of the neighbors were solicited well in advance by the production team, and had to sign a variety of permissions (and I think are reimbursed for a variety of things, including any damages to their property). I assume this pre-production also included zoning and construction planning and approvals. Apparently there were 3 “contenders” in the Cincinnati area that were all scouted out this way in advance, and ultimately only one is chosen — imagine it would be heartbreaking to be one of the other two.
Out of nowhere in the car the other day, Alli asked if you could get pregnant if you weren’t married. Despite that I really want to be the kind of parent who is always open and honest and easy to talk to about this stuff, these questions from her always seem to catch me off guard and searching for the right words. I have also found that most adults either over or mis-interpret what the kid is actually asking about, and this was no exception. As I gently navigated the conversation with her, picking my words far more carefully than I would have expected to about the physical elements, I was also working hard to explain my rather liberal views about marriage, about single parenting, and about gay rights while still trying to convey a message about love, commitment and responsibility.
Her true intent began to finally emerge as she asked whether there were ways to still love someone and not get pregnant. Not having given her a really fruitful vision of what it takes to get pregnant, I tried to develop a munchkin-friendly version of abstinence. This didn’t seem to fully satisfy her, so I told her that there were other things a woman or a man could do, giving the example of taking a pill that stops the body from letting go of an egg that might become a baby. A huge look of relief struck her face, and I finally realized that this was actually a followup conversation to one a few weeks back where she informed me that when she grew up she didn’t think she would want to have kids unless she adopted them when they were about 7, because “babies are too much work”.
Alli: you can just take a pill?
Alli: you just have to swallow it and it’s little?
Mommy: um, yes.
Alli: that’s what I’d do then.
Mommy: ok. You have a lot of time before you have to worry about any of this, you know?
Alli: I know.
after a few moments of silence…
Alli: After I took the pill I’d drink a big glass of water.
I find myself having a really difficult time getting on the patriotic bandwagon these days, politically speaking. Nonetheless Alli enthusiastically donned her red, white and blue, and I was hit with crashing waves of nostalgia thinking back to July 4, 1976, when I was just about Alli’s age, organizing all kinds of fetes in honor of the bicentennial. I find myself funnily struck by the onset of the times in her life that she will surely remember for all time, as if somehow that means that any slack I was cutting myself in parenting is no more.
Somehow this is the first holiday we were around and actually made it to the renowned Evanston 4th of July parade, and it was also Alli’s first parade experience. Excluding the moments of tears and massive ear-holding over the emergency vehicle sirens and the over-the-top-load rally car engine revving, it was a highly entertaining way to spend 2 hours. A real showcase of the eclectic, eccentric, simultaneously big and small town nature of Evanston.
Where am I?
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