Archive for July, 2010

more about Fort Jefferson

This trip to Fort Jefferson, with over 50 Mudd descendants and hangers-on, was for the purpose of visiting the cell where Dr. Sam Mudd was imprisoned. In case you don’t know who he is, he is the doctor who set John Wilkes Booth’s leg, after Booth shot Lincoln. Mudd was arrested as a conspirator in the assassination plot and sent to prison on Fort Jefferson, which is a forbidding hulk of brick in the middle of the ocean. He was there for four years, and then he was pardoned (for his work at the Fort, fighting the yellow fever epidemic).

The fort is, indeed, right smack in the middle of the ocean. It’s 70 miles west of Key West. For someone like me who has only seen an ocean once before (and that at Ocean City, where I was distracted from its majesty by the fact that there was no way at all to avoid being pooped on by gulls), it was a fairly staggering sight.

Here’s the approach to the fort (okay, so this was taken on the way back–but still).

The whole thing is massive–lots of bricks.

Up on the third floor/roof of the fort, there is no railing or anything. I was extremely nervous the whole time we were up there.  No question though that the view is amazing.

It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? Think about it–imprisoned here. You could see the water, but you couldn’t swim in it. And there’s no possibility of escape because–well–where would you go?

Mary really liked it. She wanted to explore everything.

Actually, so did Wesley.

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Fort Jefferson pics!

So I still haven’t uploaded all of these photos (takes forever, you see, because we are too cheap for fast DSL). But I’m working on it! Anyway, here are a few pics from the foray out to Fort Jefferson.

We assembled in the morning on the pier to join our rental boat. Mary was fascinated.

We waited for the boat, wearing yellow shirts.

Our boat!

Mary wanted her sunscreen taken off (well, after we managed to get it on her in the first place) and had a tantrum. She stomped around the deck, shouting. Luckily it eventually blew over and she was a delight for the rest of the day. I think it was just that it was so very early.

Wesley, on the other hand, cut right to the chase.

Grandma and aunt Kelly inspected the plaque.

It was a hot day to be wearing a baby–but Conor and I each had a sweat factory in a baby carrier. Here’s Conor and Mary:

Outside the fort, the day was sunny and beautiful:

More to come. I have some great pics of the fort itself and I haven’t even uploaded the ones Conor took with our smaller camera.

home again, home again…

Oh, my. It’s been five days since we got home and we’re STILL recovering! That was an epic trip. It was great, though. I really can’t even begin to cover it all in one post, so here are a few things from our first couple of days there.

First of all, we all had a great time spending a whole week together. The kids were so delighted to spend all that time with Daddy!

We got to hang out with a lot of Conor’s family members that we don’t see often, including some I’d never met–it was cool. Also very interesting because they are an educated and engaging bunch!

Our house–rented by Therese–was really nice. Remind me that I only ever want to travel to places with laundry facilities and full kitchens! We didn’t have to go to restaurants unless we wanted to, which meant that we only went out to lunch once and to dinner once…which is incredibly nice when you’re traveling. I like restaurants, but in moderation.

Our housemates:

Therese, who was the world’s biggest help with the kids:

Michael and Naomi (Therese’s children–Conor’s cousins):

…and Kelly (Grandma M’s sister) and her husband George–unfortunately I am not sure I have a pic of George, but here are Kelly and Grandma, looking very much like sisters:

After spending Sunday lazing around and recovering from the drive (which, by the way, is Really Freaking Long), we got motivated on Monday and went to the Butterfly Conservatory. Wesley loved it.

Like the big fedora? That was the only hat we could find that would cover his ears. It’s a men’s hat. We figured, if he wouldn’t wear it, Conor could.

Mary did not. I think she was just overtaxed by the whole traveling situation and the fluttering and whatnot was too much for her to handle. She demanded that we take her out.  This is Mary, looking flummoxed:

It was pretty in there, while I was allowed to stay in! Conor came out and took over with Mary so that I could go back in and see the butterflies more, but by then Wesley was tired and not interested anymore, so I didn’t get many pictures.

Hanging out in front of the butterfly place:

Later, we met up with the rest of the pilgrims in Mallory Square. Wesley’s favorite thing about Key West was this bike rack:

Isn’t this cute?

Next time I’ll post some of the Fort Jefferson pics. Right now I have to go; Wesley has notified me that he needs a new diaper, a bottle, AND a hug. Demanding kid.

little girls and bathing suits: why kids are sold short

I just read this article about how unfair it is that little girls have to learn that they have to wear bathing suit tops when boys don’t.

I’m left, as usual, with the feeling that way too many parents don’t give their kids enough credit for their ability to understand things like this.

This article, as well as most of the comments on it, suggest that you have to find some way to evade or sugarcoat the answer to this question–or, alternatively, that you use it as the occasion for a rant about the patriarchy. Neither of those things, in my opinion, makes much sense for a kid of six. The answers proposed here all seem to do one of a few things: invoke the “just because” answer, which is no answer at all, or try to get into the depths of why society is the way it is and what you should do to change it.

I don’t get why more parents don’t just explain to their kids that, in our country at least, women generally wear tops? Is it hard for a kid to understand that there are different rules for different people? I say, no. It’s not hard. Kids do it all the time. They accept the fact that driving is for grown-ups. They accept the fact that nursing is for a younger sibling. They understand that, even though another kid at church may be allowed to run riot in the cry room, they are expected to be quiet and let people listen to the service. What’s so hard about this?

The key misunderstanding here–and I see this with the way that people talk about college freshmen, too!–is that there’s some stereotype that a child is not able to understand a nuanced message. Absolutely, they can understand these things. But only if you tell them. “Women wear bathing suit tops because they’re cuter” is not an answer. Sorry. Try again. Better luck next time.

Kids aren’t stupid. They lack information, not understanding.

Operation 4th of July: Abort! Abort! Return to base!

So last year we tried to go to see the fireworks but Mary was too scared to watch them–as soon as they began, she wailed until we took her home.

It turns out that she has not yet outgrown this fear–we went to watch the fireworks from a discreet distance, so that it would be quieter, but again she began panicking as soon as they started and we had to come home and watch the fireworks downtown on TV instead. Mary summed up her feelings: “I like to see fireworks but only on pictures or on TV. When I am grown up I think I will like to see them for real. But not right now.”