Visiting Myrtle Beach for a week with the extended inlaws is a lot less frightening than it sounds. I really like my inlaws as friends and human beings in general. The nephews and neices are not only charming and sweet, they give me tons of pics to scrap into albums and mini books for their parents as well as for my own collection. But I have to confess, I've spent a good amount of time hiding from my nephews. (My neice is really too young to be objectionable since she can't make much noise yet and someone else is always there to wrangle her, so you won't hear much about her for now. As I mentioned before, my nephews are truly great kids. Daniel still has that cute bewildered demeanor kids have in that period before speech sets in, Drew is graceful and quick to pick up on things, and Blake is wonderfully intelligent and well-spoken, not to mention so sweet it could break your heart when he falls asleep sucking his thumb and rubbing a cottonball in his hand to comfort himself when he's tired.
Watching other people play with children sometimes makes me feel like Dian Fossey. "Children in the Mist". Most people don't seem to mind being used as a jungle gym. Most don't seem to notice that kids have one notch on their volume nob, and that notch is "11". Most don't seem put off by the blackened feet of a child sitting next to them, walking up and down their arm or sticky hands that were probably just in a diaper, reaching over and creeping up their face. These behaviors appear to be fully accepted by the human adult, while I, clearly some sort of alien with a stick up my ass, recoils in horror just seeing these things happen to someone else, let alone when they threaten to happen to me. I can make an excuse to leave the room faster than you can blink when I see a flip-flopped foot creeping toward my mouth.
Mostly this fear is pure phobia, but my spine damage adds a new and interesting dimention to this aversion. Just this morning I was trying to explain to a 2.5 year old that touching my sciatic legs will make me very unhappy and clearly un-fun to be around. Hang out? Sure, but please please please for the love of crumbcake do not touch me before noon. How do I explain to someone who doesn't even know *he* has a spine yet, that mine magically makes my legs hurt? How do I get children to understand why it's okay for them to hang off of Uncle Scott's arm like little rhesus monkeys while Aunt Veronica backs away like a character in a Hitchcock movie when you try to rest a hand between her shoulders. I've tried saying that my back is "broken", but that just led to puzzled expressions as they examined my back for a 90 degree angle break. I've tried to get scientific about it and explain what a spine is, but realized about two words into my explanation that my audience had been distracted by the pattern on the sofa cushion. I have thought of telling them my back is "sick", but that's just weird.
So...between hiding and the genuine need to spend time lying in bed with a heating pad to control the pain somewhat, I spend a fair amount of time alone in our room. Luckily I'm an independent soul at heart, so alone time isn't torture but I still need to keep myself entertained. Hence, I have put together *ta da* this ultra handy bed easel--"The Crippled Craftsman Mark-Five". It's a lap easel from the art supply attached to a Basic Grey Magnetic Precision Mat via the easel's clips and a giant rubber band. I've been using it for a few weeks now and it rules. The magnets keep things from falling off of my layout while I decide where I want to paste everything, and the easel keeps the the magnetic mat from getting all "floppity". I would say it's the greatest blend of ingredients since the "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter" if only the peanut butter wasn't weird and powdered, making this invention much, much better. :)
I have lots more to report, namely my reviews of the nearby scrapbook stores (hoooray!) but the takeout is about to arrive and I can't resist drunken noodles with tofu. Order some for yourself. You deserve it!