Car travel tips

By the time you read this, I will be about to drive or in the process of driving 9.5 hours from NYC to my hometown* with the two boys. Strangely, I'm looking forward to it, but I know this is because 1) I love driving, and 2) my kids are older now (7.5 and 4.5) so long car trips are about boredom management instead of cascading physical needs.

I'm wondering if we can talk about car travel tips. I'm sure some of us have learned some things in the past few weeks that could help others of us in the next few weeks.

My biggest tip is to allow tons more time than you need. Leave early. Then you can stop whenever you want to and not feel pressed. It's grueling and unpleasant if you're feeling under the gun and hit nasty traffic or treacherous roads or too many bathrooms stops. But if you've got a few extra hours, yes, you can stop if you pass a sign for the National Eagle Center or the Hot Dog Museum or the Schlitterbahn or something that interests you. And if you don't need to stop and traffic goes quickly, then you get there early.

Also, plan in real stops for eating and using restrooms and running around.

Plan your music selections in the car, and have some new activities (coloring and drawing, etc.) they haven't seen before.

In short, plan as much of the backbone of the trip as you can, so you can have flexibility in the actual trip. Oh, and don't worry about the kids being bored in the car. It didn't kill you, and it won't kill your kids. A little boredom is probably good for their minds.

What are your tips? For babies, little kids, bigger kids, yourself?

* If you're in the 419: Children's Wonderland (@ Erie Street Market this year), tomorrow the 24th, noon. Bring a can of food for the food drive for discounted admission. I'll be the one with one bored-looking child and one wide-eyed child.

Q&A: girls peeing in public restrooms

Single dad Richard wonders:

"My 3-year-old daughter is almost completely potty-trained, and I'm beginning to wonder: Are women's rooms as disgusting as men's rooms are? I've been taking my daughter into the men's room and just changing her diaper at the station, but what do I do now that she's out of diapers? I can't take her into the women's room, and I can't imagine letting her sit on the toilet seat in the men's room."

Wow. Yet another thing I never really contemplated, what with being a woman and having boys.

I started thinking about how I'd teach a daughter to pee in the women's room. I would *not* teach her to hover over the seat, because that just causes a mess on the seat for the next person, plus a huge chance of bounce-back onto her. Instead, I'd teach her to make a seat cover out of toilet paper, probably with a wipe-off first (from the hoverer before her) and then a couple of layers.

I don't know that there's any reason Richard and other dads can't (or don't) do this. I think if I were routinely going into men's rooms I'd probably carry wipes with me, and maybe the dad could do a wipe first before making the toilet seat cover.

Or, there might be some gadget that's been invented for exactly this purpose that I just don't know about. If someone else is more up on Baby Skymall (the One Step Ahead catalog, featuring dubiously necessary baby gadgets) than I am, is there some miracle thing that lets little girls pee cleanly in a men's room?

If not, one of you dad should hop on that.

It kind of makes me want to move out into the woods where we can all just pee against a tree. But not really.

More elegant solutions than the toilet paper cover? Hilarious and/or disgusting stories of public restrooms? (I once had to pee in a public square in a small town in Mexico after spending the night in an ATM booth, because of massive hotel-related miscommunication. I don't miss my early 20s one bit.)

Self-help

Who's tired? I'm tired. I thought everything was under control (in a limited fashion) and then a whole bunch of stuff fell off the track!

Yesterday was supposed to be Primal Scream Wednesday, but then the Wednesday babysitter (the "spirits ambassador") gave me less than a day's notice that she couldn't work Wednesday. And all our other babysitters were sick or working, and this is my kids' dad's super-crunch week at work, so I was the one who went in for 90 minutes and then took a personal day, featuring no posting access.

January 4 is going to be a relief.

Anyway, feel free to post a primal scream if you want. I'm instead going to try to think of what could make my day (and next two weeks) better *that I can actually control.* I know–novel.

Here's my list:

* more coffee

* suck it up and power through the 3-4 crappy work tasks that I need to finish but that keep getting pushed to the back burner

* accept help when people offer it! My MTTh babysitter invited us over for dinner tonight so I wouldn't have to cook! She's a peach. Other people have been offering nice things, so I'm going to accept.

* focus on what I'm doing, while I'm doing it. Don't borrow trouble.

What could make things better for you right now, that you can control?

Thanksgiving

This post was supposed to post on Thanksgiving, but once again I didn't set auto-post correctly, so it didn't:

Four years ago at this time I started Ask Moxie as a joke, because people asked me to, because I had nothing else to give. I had an almost-4-year-old and a 6-month-old and I was married to someone I didn't like and who didn't like me.

Three years ago at this time I had a website that was useful to people and gave me something I was good at besides taking care of my kids. And on Thanksgiving I finally dared to tell people that I had to leave my marriage.

Two years ago I was writing this website while employed outside the home again, and struggling with how long and nonsensical the divorce process was.

One year ago I was writing the website while wishing my divorce would come through, not realizing that it had been final for almost a week.

Today I'm struggling to stay here while struggling to commute to a job I love in a city I hate, having learned more about myself than I ever wanted to (but I'm glad I know now), and feeling thankful that I had the courage and love for myself to get out of a bad marriage.

Thank you for being here. For reading and commenting, and cutting me slack. Thanks for helping each other out, and for saying what you know, and for asking what you don't. Thanks for giving me something to hang on for when there didn't seem to be a lot else.

Thanks.

Q&I hope one of you has an A: Australian formula vs. US formula

S, who just moved from the USA to OZ, writes:

"quick question (and you can send this out to anyone who might know the
answer)… what is a formula that is similar to Enfamil that is sold in
Australia… we're having some issues with the one she is on here…
we're trying S-26… and Enfamil was the only one that didn't give her
tummy problems… it's really going to be impossible to ship in… so
any ideas?

Baby is 4.5 months old and weighs about 14lbs and is about 25 inches long…"

I have no idea. I'm hoping someone out there knows.

If not, is there anyone who knows what make Enfamil special/different, so that
maybe S can piece it together with what she's got over there?

Thank you!

“I had a life I liked before”

I am OK, but am worried about my best friend (she's in danger), and if anyone who prays could pray for K, that would be lovely.

I just pulled this out of the comments from last week:

"I feel
unmoored and defeated. I had a life I liked before I got pregnant. I
knew it would mean giving up at least my career to have a baby. And it
has. I don't mean to be melodramatic: I knew there was a cost, and I
went in with my eyes open. I just didn't know that the cost was going
to feel like it was… everything."

Have you ever been in the ocean, and a big wave comes and you close your eyes and take a breath and let the wave wash over you and it's scary but you know if you just stay still and keep kicking your legs you'll eventually break the surface once the wave passes?

Contrast that to seeing the wave coming and struggling to stay above it, kicking and clawing furiously and struggling struggling and feeling like it's sucking you under.

I think the first few weeks/months/years/decades of parenting are like being in the ocean and having wave after wave come. If you know it's coming, and it's going to be scary and not AT ALL like standing on dry land was, you can accept that and let yourself go under while it passes. And then your head is above water again. It's not like standing on dry land was. Ever. But floating and swimming and turning into a mermaid can be just as much if not more fun once you're used to it.

If you fight and berate yourself for not seeing the wave coming or for going out into the ocean in the first place or for not loving the wave or not floating on top of it, though, it can really suck you under.

I don't know if that analogy is useful or just strikes you as stupid, but it's how I've always seen the enormous cosmic hazing of the first few months of mothering. Like everything you thought you knew is taken away from you, and you have to build yourself back into place, piece by piece.

Did anyone else experience this? Did anything help you feel more connected to your baby and to your new role and your new life?

Primal Scream Wednesday

You know how this works. I'll start:

My commute continues to bash me over the head with a large anvil, leaving no space/time/energy for posting here, which makes me feel sad and like something's missing.

I turned off my alarm when it went off this morning and woke up 41 minutes later.

I left my phone on the table this morning, and am out-of-pocket with the babysitter because of it. Also, the cats may be placing international calls or sending mean texts with it.

My younger one refused to get dressed this morning, then that cascaded into a really bad morning including crying from both of us.

I forgot to pee before I started the commute and had to hold it for what seemed like 5 hours and 8 or 9 boroughs worth of subway riding.

Work is kicking my ass this morning in a someone-else-didn't-do-what-they-were-supposed-to-do kind of way and now my company (me, specifically) is dealing with it.

I left a dirty dish in the office sink last night and that makes me feel like a jerk for doing that to our office manager.

I'm cold.

Tomorrow is only going to be worse, in all likelihood.

And, my coworker just asked me if that was my toast in the toaster oven. Yes. Yes, it is.

Now someone with real problems, please post.