Ian, the Navigator

As we were heading to Pittsburgh, the GPS app I have always used would not keep a connection. We were in a fairly remote area and while I was pretty confident service would return by the time I really needed it, I was a little panicky.

I asked MJ to look an address up for me but she couldn’t look at the screen for more than a few seconds without feeling carsick.

That left Ian.

Luckily he has excellent math and spatial skills and is not old enough to be a man who “doesn’t need no stinkin’ map.”

In fact, he was quite the opposite. He loved being the navigator. The boy got us all the way to IKEA using a different app on my phone.

Talk about proud. He kept saying, “I can’t believe you trusted your 10-year-old son to get you all the way to the Steel City…Pittsburgh…really?” (Did I tell you he’s a huge Steelers fan even though we are in Browns country?)

The rest of the trip he was in charge of the GPS. The app was finally working except for the sound. He got us to our hotel, downtown, and out of the city calling out road names, exit numbers, and miles to go. He figured out how to search for restaurants and gas stations on our route.

He also informed me when I was even one mile above the speed limit.

Maybe it’s crazy I put a ten-year old in charge of navigation. It’s not like I let him drive. What’s the worst that would happen? We’d take a wrong turn? I’d have to take a detour?

I could keep my eyes on the road and he learned some valuable life skills without even realizing it.

His wife will surely thank me someday.

submarine.jpgI wish I had taken my better camera, but here he is navigating the USS Requin at the Carnegie Science Center.



On the Road Again

All summer, I have been feeling a lot of pressure to “take a vacation” like we do every year.

The last few years I have taken the kids either by myself, or with my parents, to the beach or Orlando. Last year was tops in their book. My boyfriend and I took all four kids to Myrtle Beach. It was the best vacation.

How do I top that when 1) my boyfriend and I are no longer together and 2) I am so apprehensive about traveling right now with Ian?

Considering we basically discovered Ian had diabetes while traveling over Christmas vacation, I just associated a whole lot of bad with traveling any distance.

And now I had to think about supplies and food and drinks and emergencies solo.  It was just too overwhelming and created a lot of anxiety for me.

I have done short little jaunts to Cleveland with my parents. We’ve been to the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, an Indians game, and a Cavs game since Ian’s diagnosis.

But to take a trip, just me and the kids….

I wanted to do it. I really, really did. And at least half a dozen times, I would sit down with my laptop and look up possible destinations. (Only those within driving distance, it will be a long time until I want to fly again.)

I’d go as far as the button to confirm a hotel reservation and I’d chicken out.  I’d scrap the whole plan.

In fact, the first week of summer I did this very thing and ended up picking them up at their dad’s an hour later with a different plan when they immediately asked, “What are we gonna do this week? Are we going anywhere?”

I shared our itinerary in one big breath and with as much enthusiasm as I could, “Well, right now we are going grocery shopping and you can pick out some snacks! Tonight we will go to the park and play putt-putt!  Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so I thought we’d go to a movie. Wednesday and Thursday we can go to the lake (and you can take friends). Friday we are having a bonfire at Pa’s house! And Saturday…we are going to my cousin Kendyl’s graduation party.”

Well, my pitch worked.

Ian exclaims, “Yes!!!! This is the best week EV-ER!”

Ah, thank you, God, for letting my children love the little things in life.

The week ended up costing me under $30. (We didn’t go to the movie; I think we settled on the library instead.)

Honestly, we could have probably repeated that week five more times this summer and they’d have been ok with that.

But something kept pushing me to do more. Go further. Get away. The little voice in my head wouldn’t stop. “You can do this. You need to do this. Start small. Baby steps.”

So…on Saturday I said the words out loud to MJ…”Maybe we should go to Pittsburgh tomorrow? Go to IKEA? I don’t know. We could even stay overnight at a hotel…with a pool?”

I had her at “pool.”  Her eyes lit up.

Step 1 to being held accountable: Say something out loud in front of your teenage daughter.

From there, the wheels were set in motion.

As Ian played Wii in the other room, we talked about what time we could leave. What we could do. What we needed to pack.  We looked at hotels. I didn’t go as far as hitting the button to confirm a hotel reservation but I was knee-deep in the promise of a road trip.


Taken by Ian on my iPhone on the way out of town.

We may have only been gone one night, and only went an hour and a half away, but this may have been one of the best and most memorable of all our vacations.

In fact, it was so special and eventful, I am reserving 3 more blog posts about specific parts of the trip.

But I will tell you this: For me, this trip was huge. It showed me that I can do it.

I can plan, pack, drive, and survive a road trip with these two.

I am on the road again.