What about that little bit of celebratory travel I mentioned earlier? It has everything to do with our anniversary. Which is the big One-O. Which is a number that seems so big and momentous that I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that it's real and here and requiring immediate attention. It was a decade ago that we planned ourselves a little trip to Vegas and had our nuptials there, a ceremony that was small and simple and broadcast via internet.
In the intervening ten years we've taken very few vacations. There were a couple of roadtrips the first few years. Then workaholism set in. Then saving up all vacation and personal time with the knowledge that we'd soon be trying for a baby while I was a job that offered no paid maternity leave. Then actually having a baby. Then a new job with no paid vacations. And then another baby.
So family trips are largely unexplored territory. Save the annual Thanksgiving trip to turkey-gorge with the in-laws, we're really just homebodies. Air travel is a rather iffy proposition for us, having had a middling success rate, half our flights including some kind of child-weary breakdown. But ten is an awfully grand number, and so we've scheduled our first family vacation. To Vegas, the most family-friendly of towns.
As you might imagine, I'm not looking forward to the flight. The Girlie's become a squirmy rugrat, hellbent on mobility. Not an ideal candidate for confined spaces at high altitudes. So, I've resigned myself to a certain amount of pain on that front. But The Boy's reached that wonderful stage where he can be sat down with an iPhone stocked with videos and games, and as long as his sugar intake has been kept to a minimum, he should be a tolerable travel companion. But, so I hear, technology does not equate good parenting. And batteries run out. So I stock his special airplane backpack with little books and activities. Things like lacing cards and a thumbprint drawing book and simple connect the dots (I love you, Dover Books).
And as part of that digital kick I've been on, I made up some writing practice sheets for The Boy. Just some lined pages for him to practice his alphabet. On the reverse side, I printed out a little diamond-y grid, for some open-ended coloring/patterning goodness. And then I did up some tic tac toe templates, because The Boy is nuts for that game. And I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I did get my behind handed to me in a tic tac toe tourney the other day at lunch. Honest to goodness. He actually beat me repeatedly at a game that was deemed pointless by Ally Sheedy in "War Games" because of its propensity to end in a tie. I like to think this says more about the nearly-4-year-old's intellectual prowess than the lack of the same in myself.
I sealed up the worksheets in some laminating pouches and tossed them into a pouch with some dry-erase markers and a swatch of wool for erasures. In my extensive research I've found that, for a nearly-4-year-old, there's no artistic allure quite as strong as drawing in marker. And as a parent, nothing quite beats being able to wipe marks off with a dry rag.
And here's a nifty little tip. When you're standing in the office supply aisle, examining the laminating pouches, and you see that the self-laminating pouches are exponentially more expensive than the heat laminating pouches for which you don't have the corresponding laminating machine, go ahead and pick up the cheaper, heat laminating ones. Just apply a hot iron (and pressing cloth, of course) slowly and evenly over the filled pouch until it seals. The beauty of the simple iron. Not just for burning your fingerprints off anymore.
Wanna whip out your own set of worksheets? Too lazy to work something up yourself with Creative Suite? What? You didn't shell out $1800 for a legal copy of the software? Here's our version of the worksheets, in PDF form. Knock yourself out. And try not to burn yourself on that iron.