By Patricia H. Chapman ~ President & Founder of Stone Soup Marketing

FORGET COCOONING - I'm always in my car!

Baby Boomers hit their Car-cooning years! In my fantasy life, I'm home in my plush video room, eating gourmet food and catching up on e-mail, while I enjoy surround sound movies on a big screen. In my real life, if I'm not out of town somewhere, I spend most of my spare time after work doing car pool driving to gymnastics, basketball practice, back to the middle school for the forgotten science book, aikido lessons, soccer games … you know the schedule!

As the mom of a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old, I think I'm in my peak chauffeur years. No wonder every car in the gymnastics parking lot looks like a moveable home! Our Ford Windstar has a portable tv/vcr to hook up for longer drives … plugs for the cell phone … automatic E-Z pass toll payments … and about a billion fast food straw wrappers lodged under the seats. Because 1 out of every 4 meals my kids eat, is eaten in the car!

And I know I'm not alone. In every category, car-cooning insights abound.

"We need things that are portable - we're always on the run."

"Fast food that's good food - we're always eating on the run."

"My trunk is filled with athletic equipment, Gatorade and water bottles - and lots of caked mud."

"I love that snack - you can eat it with one hand, while you're driving."

"It doesn't need to be refrigerated, you can keep it on hand in the car."

There are lots of products tailor made for Car-cooning …

Handi-Snacks from Kraft are the quintessential portable snacks for younger kids.

Johnson & Johnson has a First Aid to Go first aid kit - that has everything in it for the sports sidelines except a slap-pack to apply heat or cooling to a bruised shin.

Arm & Hammer Dental Care gum helps clean teeth on the spot.

And it seems we can look forward to a Samsung microwave to plug in to the cigarette lighter (oops, that's where my cell phone and tv/vcr go!).

Refrigerated glove boxes are out there … so maybe next time I'm in the market for a car, that will be something to consider.

And my wireless communicators can put me in touch with my take-out Chinese place to call ahead from the car, and pick up as I make my rounds.

One child is due to get her learner's permit in January - and I never thought I'd be the one to encourage her to get her driver's license as fast as she can … but there it is! I'll still be car-cooning with one, but that's a 50% reduction in car-cooning time.

I'm not ready to give up the driving altogether … It's about the only time I get to have conversations with my kids and their friends... anymore (they're captive audiences, or as my son would say, "Mom, more like solitary car-finement") … and I know all the latest Z-100 and K-Rock tunes, by ear…so that will count for something!

Plus a year or two of empty car, will prepare me better for empty nest.

Any takers for a Car-Cooning seal of approval on products to make living and eating in the car easier? That would get my attention faster than the Good Housekeeping seal, for sure. A lot of us Boomers out there have a few good chauffeur years before we the cocooning dream comes true!

Food for thought for portable, nutritious, thermal-protected, spillproof, one-handed, wireless, automatic … almost anything!

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