Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If I knew any of his lyrics, they'd be the title

Lil' Wayne was at our library tonight!  I swear!  Okay, well I'm nearly certain it was not him, but he was trying so much to be him.  He had the hair, the pants way past his butt, the tattoos, the baseball hat... If I wasn't in so much shock to see someone so exactly copying Lil' Wayne like that I would have taken a picture!  I wish I knew anything about Lil' Wayne like a quote or song title to make the title of this post more witty, but, alas, I do not.  I have never understood the hype when it comes to that man.  Maybe it's because he's miniature, and everyone loves fun-size things.  Ever notice how they sell the most insane things "travel size"?  That is because we are all suckers for teenie tiny versions of things we see and use every day.  There are some things, like hairspray, that a travel size is good because you can't stick it in a smaller container you have at home.  You need the dispenser.  But then there is travel toilet paper (you can't just fold some up and toss it in a ziploc or right in your purse?) or travel shampoo (they sell little refillable bottles so you can take a small amount with you rather than buy the travel ones over and over...).  But they are iddy biddy, and, admit it, you love that!  Like those little liquor bottles!  They are so ridiculous.  It takes handfulls of those things to make any decent drink.  But they are fun size, collectible, and so damn adorable. 

So, more about this Lil' Wayne-alike.  Is this what our modern day Elvis impersonators are going to be?  They will be full on getting tattoos and jacking up their teeth to pretend to be someone else?  Are people paying to have Lil' Wayne marry them, or to have a Lil' Wayne-annabe perform at their bar mitzvah? 

I must admit that I want to hang out at the library non-stop again until I see him again.  Then I want to get our picture with him and mail it out in our holiday cards.  I wonder how I could word the cards so it would sound like auto-tune when people read them aloud.  If anyone has any ideas, let me know! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Small Window of Opportunity

It's great fun to take advantage of a child's small size and their naivety.  It can come in handy for solving problems, or for entertainment purposes.  Let me explain...

Solving problems:

Kids can so easily be convinced of nearly anything.  (Although, I have never convinced my 4 year old that if he keeps eating all those hot dogs that he will become a hot dog.  He says "Mom, that does not happen.  People do not turn into food."  I have yet to get him to believe otherwise.)  Sometimes issues arrive in a kids life that simple logic and reality do not solve.  They can't get past their magical thinking, or they do not understand how reality can be so different from what they think is really going on.  One day, out of nowhere, my son became terrified of monsters.  It became a phobia.  He was shaking and crying, unable to eat or sleep.  It was exhausting and heart breaking to see him so scared.  He'd jump at every noise.  Well, telling him monsters do not exist was worthless.  He did not buy it.  We tried to explain the difference between real and imaginary.  He still wasn't sure.  We reminded him of how we saged the house when we moved in.  Still, nothing.  We had him draw pictures of monsters, then put the red circle with a slash through it and hang the pictures on our doors to tell monsters they couldn't come in.  We hated doing that, at first, because we didn't want to fall into acting like monsters existed.  But we had to get into his way of thinking to pull him out of it.  Finally, it dawned on me.  What are monsters if not yucky, gross, scary and ... dirty!  So the one thing they would hate most is soap.  I made up this elaborate story about how monsters will turn into a flower if they touch soap, so they are super afraid of it because they want to be dirty and gross.  No one is afraid of a flower.  For a few weeks, my son chucked a bar of soap under his bed to ward off the dirty foes, and that was that.  Being naive can cause problems, and when it does sometimes that same trait helps solve them!

Another problem solving example: They are small enough to fit behind the couch or under tables to get things out that got stuck behind or under them.


Today my son was playing with an air rocket.  You know, the kind you put on a launch pad and stomp on the air pump and they fly up into the air.  Well, my son was convinced he was hitting the moon with the rocket.  I even told him he had knocked down a cloud.  He was so sure he did once he looked up and saw there were no clouds in the sky!  Surely Momma was telling the truth!  And then the rocket went up again, and came back down on his head.  This is where the line between good parenting and bad parenting starts to get a little blurry....
Me    "Oh no!  You knocked your head off with a rocket!"
Son   "What!?"  *feeling his head*  "No, I think I feel it.  It's still there."
Me    "I don't think so, I don't know what you are feeling.  I can't see your head anywhere!  Maybe it rolled down into the drain!"
Son    "Oh no!  I'll go check!"

So he was looking all around for his head, occasionally stopping to feel his head and look confused.  I just sat back and giggled.  My husband even asked why he was looking in the drain.  He shook his head when I told him he was looking for his blown off head. 

Eventually my son walked over to me and said "Mom, I know my head must still be here!  See!?", and he removed his sunglasses.
"Oh!  There it is!  I couldn't see it behind your glasses."

No harm no foul.... right?

Another entertainment example: They are small enough to fit behind the couch or under tables to get things out that got stuck behind or under them.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Post Number 100, the Princess Post

For my 100th post, I thought I'd disclose a little more information about myself...

Here are the top 5 reasons that I really must be an actual princess:

5.  I love crabs
 Ariel, in The Little Mermaid, is like best friends with a crab.  Now, perhaps I am not really interested in befriending a crustacean, and maybe I actually want to eat them.  Let's not split hairs.  I love crabs, she loves crabs.  For me, that is close enough.  Clearly, this solidifies my princess status, but in case you are not quite convinced, keep reading.

4. I cannot stand a messy house
 I'll direct you to exhibits A, and B.
    A. Cinderella:  She was on top of that big ol' house like nobody's business.  Now, yes, she was technically forced into some kind of slavery by her hot mess of a step-mom and step-sisters, but she was even making clothes for mice and that was not in the job description.  She also hates alarm clocks, but I digress.
    B. Snow White:  She whipped that little ol' cottage into shape, after she broke in and started squatting in some strangers crib.  Now, of course, we all know about bachelor pads.  They are really uninhabitable by anyone who isn't a bachelor or swine (yes, sometimes hard to tell the difference, I know).  So, if she was going to continue free-loading in that joint she had to clean up for her own health and personal safety.

3. I love a good nap
    Especially these days, I find myself wishing for some good ol' fashioned magic so that I might take a damn nap.  Sleeping Beauty understood the value of a good nap.  She even had a smile on her face while sleeping.  Snow White, too.  And, of course, these two broads were smart enough to only awake after a kiss from a handsome prince.  I fantasize about pulling that kind of stunt.  Of course, I'd be happy with a short 2 hour nap, and to wake up to a house that wasn't destroyed while I was resting.  But that, my friends, is a real fairy tale.

2. The way to my heart is through shoes
   Cinderella is my kind of chick.  She knew what she was doing.  Any man who shows up at my door and proceeds to put couture footwear on my feet... well let's just say #winning!

1.  I prefer Princess weapons
   Rapunzel totally beats a guy over the head with a cast iron skillet.  After that one time I was pregnant and had worked a 12 hour shift and got home after midnight and my neighbor decided to fire up thee loudest snow blower ever to snow blow his grass at 4AM... well let's just say I was very disappointed to find out how light my frying pan was.  (My husband wasn't disappointed by this, and was happy that he could convince me to wait on the head knocking until I had a better tool...) So I asked for a cast iron skillet for Christmas, and now it's my weapon of choice.  Now, I know that most of you who know me know about my love of shivs.  It's true.  When in doubt, "stick 'em!"  But, you must have time for arts and crafts if you want to use a shiv.  Shivs don't make themselves, people.  There are sometimes that only a good shanking will do, but when the situation is more urgent, like say someone grabs the last pair of Manolo Blahniks off the sale rack at Bergdorf's... cast iron skillet... time is of the essence.

So, as you can see, it is indisputable that I am, indeed, an actual princess.  At this time I am lacking minions, but, eventually, my princess-ness will become known, and the minions will follow.  For now, I'll just lay low, Cinderella style, and talk to the small animals that inhabit my home & already know of my royal status.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dish vs Irene and Getting the news from dogs

Apparently our satellite dish is no match for Hurricane Irene.  I was making a day of having fun in the house, with the hurricane coverage going in the background.  The eye of the storm is going to be closest to us around midnight, and so we have about 2 and a half hours until then, in the meantime the wind and rain have picked up.  As soon as the wind started to pick up, just before 8PM, the dish started having trouble getting reception.  A dish on the roof unable to compete with strong winds and rain?  Who would have thought.  *obvious sarcasm*  Ugh.

The storm has been kind of boring so far, and without the more exciting coverage to watch it's really anticlimactic. 

Somehow, in all the non-excitement, I have injured my neck.  I usually hurt my neck while sleeping, because I'm that talented when it comes to injuring myself.  It takes mad skills to hurt yourself in your sleep.  Maybe I can report this as a hurricane-related injury.  It was so low key that I thought I was sleeping, and sprained my neck. 

Of course, the biggest show from this storm that we will see will take place overnight... in the dark... while we're asleep.  My oldest son wanted to go out and play in the wind and rain, but it really wasn't windy enough during the day to do the "hurricane boarding" my husband started as tradition when he was a child.

Hurricane boarding = skateboard + sideways umbrella to pull you through the wind

We are contemplating waking him up at 2AM to go out.  Or maybe we'll just take the baby monitor and go out ourselves!

Okay, so the dish just held it's own for about 3-4 minutes, and we saw some good coverage.  The best part?  A newscaster randomly came into view and walked behind someone giving a newscast... and she was walking a dog... then the dog walked over to the guy giving the news, and put his paws up on the desk.  My husband's reaction? "What, after hours of being on air, they no longer give a f&%k about their jobs?"  Then the satellite went out again, so we can only assume that hurricane Irene is now magical and turning people into dogs.  You've been warned.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Twas the night before Irene, and all through our house...

Wouldn't it be cute if I had put together a full on hurricane rhyme?  Alas, I did not.  After braving the grocery store (Look, I usually shop on the weekend, so I actually needed to go.  It wasn't storm panic, it was "we're out of food for even normal conditions") so after that, I have been too exhausted to be creative. 

Under normal circumstances I am a super shopper.  I put together a list after going through the circulars, I match sales to coupons, I head out with my list, coupons, and even my coupon binder.  It's really quite a talent.  You can go ahead and be jealous of my mad-grocery shopping skills.  However, today was not normal. 

Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that the grocery stores were ridiculous.  Lines were 20 people deep, water was sold out, it was chaos.  FANTASTIC!  I shop on the weekends, so I knew right away I was pretty screwed.  I didn't want to wait until my husband got home from work today when it would be worse, so I planned to take both of my boys with me after a trip to my 4 year old's school this morning.  WHY?!?!  I mean, really, the baby doesn't need to eat does he, nor do the cats... 

The classroom visit started at 11AM, so that put us at the market around 11:30, just before lunch & the baby's nap.  So I broke 2 rules right there, shopping with a hungry and tired baby.  But, he'd be napping until it was too late and the crowds would be worse, so I continued on.  We got through pretty well.  There were a ton of retirees there who were just browsing along like it was a Sunday afternoon drive, going as slow as can be, blocking the aisles as they chatted with each other.  It was sometimes hard to get around, and they weren't about to move to the side to a gal pass.  Lucky for me, I was getting graham crackers, and that kept the boys happy.  My 4 year old got a slice of cheese at the deli, and he dropped it moments later.  That is when things really took a turn for the worse.

I thought we were lucky, because I found a line with only 2 people in front of me.  Now, I noticed the woman in front of me with a bunch of papers, and she was looking at a WIC check, but she only had a few things compared to everyone else, so I thought the extra minute that would take would be no big deal.  And I certainly do not have a problem with people using WIC, everyone needs food.  I did NOT anticipate her waiting until I started loading the conveyor behind her to start dividing her groceries into 5... 5! different transactions.  Then the belt stopped moving.  After about 15 minutes, the baby started to lose his cool.  He burst into tears, bit me, and tried to throw himself out of the shopping cart over and over again.  After 5 minutes of listening to baby panic, my 4 year old started to get overly anxious, and started pacing and climbing on the cart, and shaking the cart.  It quickly had become chaos.  I wanted to bite that lady in front of me.  I think it's only fair since she made an already tense, chaotic, "preparing for an emergency" environment back up even worse by making her order as difficult as possible, which resulted in my kid biting me.  I have a hard time thinking there was no other way for her to handle that. I have never experienced that before. I mean she even paid separately for a candy bar.  UGH! 

When we got home, I was wiped out from my kids melting down.  So any chance of a cutesy hurricane rhyme, limerick, or even a haiku is non-existent. 

We are ready for the hurricane, though.  My husband put together an emergency kit a few years ago, and he keeps it updated.  We also tend to have a well stocked pantry for those times we really can't get to the store or for emergencies.  We just prefer not to live completely off of that, hence the trip today.  We also have a gas stove, and gas grill, so cooking is not an issue.  We have plenty to do here, and we just plan on a cozy weekend inside with the boys.  My son says we are having a "hurricane" party.

My biggest fear?  Losing electricity so that I do not have my AC!!!  I love my climate control!

To all my friends and family in Irene's path, stay dry, stay safe, and enjoy some quiet time at home or on a forced vacation away from home.  It is what it is.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Leave it to a baby to upstage you

My older son met his teacher today.  The teacher and aide actually came to make a home visit (I suppose they need to make sure that the children attending their private school are not living in squalor *you can't see my eyes rolling, so you'll just have to trust that they are*).  I'm sure they have a reason to do this more along the lines of  "it helps the kids get to know them in their own, comfortable environment."  Doesn't that sound more warm and fuzzy?  So, the child I've described to this woman during 2 previous phone conversations, promptly acted like he was abducted by aliens and replaced by a shy, timid, and near silent child who at least resembled his physical appearance.  *sigh*  Maybe this was because I told him not to be so loud and "try not to scream or act like a spazz".  (Spazzing out is one of his very favorite activities.)  How he took that to mean "stare at her like she is speaking Chinese and you're an English mute.", I do not know.  Eventually he did speak, but mostly pressed up against my ear, with his hands cupped around it, whispering "top secret" answers to me.  FINALLY he told her his favorite song, and she asked him to sing it.  It's not really much of a singing song, it's kind of has a dance/ German hip hop feel to it.  So, he chose to sing a different German song from one of his favorite movies.  Then, it was time for them to leave.  As they started to get up, the baby, who had been charming them with his cute Frankenstein-esque walk, and incoherent baby babbles, stood straight up, gave them a broad smile with his silly one-tooth'd grin, waved and said "bye bye!"  He has never said bye bye, and this quickly had everyone's attention.  Even my other son was fussing over it.  That was the most "lively and true to how our family really is" interaction of the visit! 

Tomorrow my son goes to see his teacher in his classroom.  He will get his cubby, and hopefully he will act more like himself.  I will forgo telling him to hold back the spazziness.  We shall see if that makes a difference. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What you really want to tell them...

Today, my sons had a play date with a very sweet, and super adorable little girl.  We all went to a local duck pond and playground.  It was a pretty popular spot today, and the kids were having a great time.  Right before we left, I caught my son hitting another child.  I was horrified, as anyone would be, and went over to him (as the kid was running to her mother to tell on him), grabbed him, and marched him over to her to make sure she was okay and to apologize to her.  He did, and tried to hug her, and the entire time she glared at him.  Since this is not his usual behavior, I suspected he was provoked, but still, I can't allow him to hit another kid. 

On the way home, I told him "I'm not happy about what happened on the playground.  Why did you hit that little girl?"  And, he confirmed my suspicion, and said "She hit me so many times, over and over again, so then I hit her."  I wanted to tell him, "Fine, defend yourself.  Don't let someone smack you around.", but I suppose I can't let him just hit someone.  After all, other folks saw him hit her, and they probably didn't see what happened just before that, so if I ignore it I look like a bad parent.  When, I really wanted to tell him "Good for you. Don't take shit from a little punk like that." 

I did continue with taking the "grown up" route, and told him that, while I understood why he chose to hit her, he should have instead told her not to hit him, and let me know what was going on.  And I was honest with him, and told him other people saw him hit her and they might think he's a bad kid.  I didn't think he wanted others to think he was bad, and he told me he did not want that.  So, he agreed to tell me next time, instead.

This reminds me of the other week at the library.  We were looking through the children's book section, and this little girl came up to my son and shoved him.  She then proceeded to growl at him, and then was hissing at him, and then tried to push him to the ground.  He was grabbing onto me, and I got him in front of me.  Then I bent down to the little girl's level, gave her a big, warm smile, and promptly growled at her and then walked away.  She didn't say a word, but she left him alone the rest of the time we were there.  I saw her bully other kids, but not him after that.  The next time we went to the library he asked "what if that little girl is there and growls at me?"  I said "Well, we will growl back at her."  Then, he said "Well, how about we just ask her not to growl at me, first.  THEN we can growl at her if she does it again."  A few minutes later he said "Maybe we first ask her not to growl.  Then, if she does it again, we shout "NO!  Do NOT do that!"  Then, if she does it again we growl.  Let's give her a chance, Mom."  I think he might be a better person that I am.  I haven't told him about growling at her already.  I still stand by my choice.  It worked, and no harm no foul! 

And a little bonus side note:  My son was telling my husband all about the "No soliciting" sign I had made for the front door.  He said "This says 'No Solicitin' ' , so when people come up to the door and see this, they will run away.  If they knock on the door, Mommy will come outside and beat them."  So, my husband explained that there was no way Mommy would do such a thing.  She would never beat someone.  She'd stick 'em, instead. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Earthclake Monster

I put the baby down for a nap, I cut my older sons hair, and I sat down to file my nails when... I heard and felt wind, no it must be thunder, or a train going past the front door... oh but wait, there are no train tracks in front of my house, so maybe it's an airplane.  Oh my God, the natural gas is causing an explosion under our house.  What else would be making my television violently shake back and forth, somehow not tipping over, and my cabinets slam and glasses rattle and pictures and OH MY GOD IS THAT WALL MOVING!?!?!  Those thoughts happened in a mere second in my mind.  With the TV and wall movement I was standing and heading for my son in the playroom, whom I grabbed, opened the front door, saw neighbors starting to come out of their house and sent him in the direction of my friend next door.  Their dogs were confused, and looking around as they headed toward the house.  I ran for the baby, napping upstairs.  The super loud, thunderous cracking of the house mixed with the loudest rumble of what I thought was thunder at first, but soon became too loud to be thunder, plus the sustained movement of my walls and everything in my house, including the furniture I was sitting on.  I grabbed the baby and we were out the front door as the shaking calmed down.  It was a matter of seconds, but it felt like slow motion, and a flood of thoughts, including "this house is going to implode and swallow my children and I whole."  I have never experienced anything like it, and it was both cool and terrifying.  Only cool once we learned it was an earthquake, 5.9 magnitude, and it was over.  Everyone was just fine.  So now, we can all say we lived through an earthquake, and we have our stories, and it never has to happen again. 

We were starting to laugh about it, already, once everyone had checked in and was safe.  Everyone was still a bit nervous over aftershocks, but they should be less of an event than the first one.  We are still a little shaken, I think.

My 4 year old was screaming, "Mommy!  What is that!?  Is there a monster in our house?!"  I assured him there was no monster, but I overheard him telling our one cat that "It was so scary.  There was an earthclake monster outside in the dirt!"  He talked about it the rest of the day.  He was a super sponge, soaking up every tiny bit of info the news was giving out on TV.  He kept asking me to show him an earthquake, and I told him he experienced it, and that is a way more effective example than a picture.  I thought to pull out the video camera and record an interview with him.  You can do this, too, especially for really young kiddos who may forget the experience.  I did give the date, the ages of my kiddos, and the magnitude of the quake.  I asked him what happened, what did he hear and see, what did he do, how did he feel about all of that.  He added in a little more info, too.  Now, if he forgets, I have preserved the memory for him.

So, I end with 2 things:

#1 I told my neighbor I'm so done with this house.  Between the mosquitoes, and now the earthquake... I'm out.  Then I found out like most of the east coast felt it, so I'm screwed.  I'll just have to stay here and have my blood drained by little flying bastards or be swallowed up by the Earth.

#2 I'm blaming any messes in this house on the earthquake.  I'm not sure how long I will drag this out, but "Oh, please ignore the mess... we had an earthquake." will be my go-to for awhile.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Respect for the Bloggers

I have a ton of respect for bloggers.  After a weekend, and a day like today I just do not know how they do it all.  It's 10pm here, and I'm JUST getting to relax, and I'm nearly too exhausted to enjoy it.  A weekend of visiting with parents, and then today with a doctors appointment, pharmacy run, a sick kid (unrelated to the doctor visit for the other kid), weeding, trimming, cutting down a few dead bushes & trimming dead parts off of trees, mowing, sweeping, harvesting some beans and cucumbers, cleaning three bathrooms top to bottom, staging and then taking pictures of my oldest child in his soccer gear with his little medal before we continue to forget to do it until it's too late, of course feeding the baby 6 times plus the 3 meals with us, then going for a family walk and then baths, another feeding, and bedtime for the kids... I can barely keep my eyes open.  So, kudos to the bloggers out there who find time every single day to write something.  I do not know how you do it! 

I didn't write that to get any sympathy or anything... after all, I get to have a few days that are less hectic thanks to busting my ass all day today.  I don't want to say I get to relax for a few days, because we all know that is sooooooooo unlikely to happen... especially if you say aloud that is your plan.  It's sure to be jinxed. 

You really could tell how the day was going at about 3PM when I asked my 4 year old to move about a foot to the left because he was blocking my view of my husband who was sitting there reading a magazine he'd been reading almost every time I looked at him (while walking from job to job in and out of the house).  I really needed to be able to have a clear view of him so that I could properly fantasize about beating him silly with the tote of bathroom cleaners I was carrying up the stairs.  That'll teach him, I thought, to mess up the inside of the house that I just cleaned while I was outside cleaning up the outside of the house and then to read a magazine instead of clean it up.  Hell hath no fury like a woman on her way to scrub toilet #3 after doing hours of yard work.  She will cut you, or hit you with the Lysol toilet cleaner.  I'm not sure which is worse.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I was so looking forward to that...

My husband just informed me of the dangers of a colon cleanse. Thank goodness, because I was just putting on my shoes to go get one. Guess I'll take that right off my "to do" list.


Today I got my finger pinched in a lawn chair & totally thought I might have to chew it off James Franco in 172 Hours style, but then it occurred to me that I could try laying the chair on the ground to see if it would loosen up. It did. Whew, close one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Overheard Round These Parts

This is how our day went:

M= Me, duh   S= son (the one who says real words)

M "Let's go outside to play."
S "But Mommy, what will we do with baby brother?"
M "He'll go outside, too."
S "But he'll be eaten alive!!"
S "Bugs!"

That's how you know the mosquitoes are seriously bad.  They will straight up eat a baby alive.

M "So, what was your favorite part of story time at the library today?"
S "There wast this monkey, and he was scary. I didn't have a banana for him, so he was going to eat me."

Is there a theme here?!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mr. & Mrs. Hardly Perfect

This vacation really has the potential to provide me with material for ages.  I saved this little nugget for it's own post, mostly because it didn't really add to the story I was telling yesterday, and it really stands on it's own.

I need to preface this post by explaining that my husband (of 7 years) and I handle stressful situations by turning on each other.  Yeah, we'll pretty much dig around in a magical bag full of topics to fight about until we find something to inspire a full on argument.  Almost all of the topics turn out to be completely ludicrous.  So, now you know.

As we were hopping in the car to begin our long journey north, the two kids strapped into their seats in the back with a DVD starting for their entertainment, my sister (who was kind enough to house sit for us) says "Now, no fighting.  You're on the same team!"  Yeah, she knows what's up.  After 11 years of the two of us together, our families can see it coming.  Hell, Mr. Magoo can see it coming, too. 

We were not even out of our own state when someone, we are not even sure which one of us it was, brought up open container laws.  I was saying it couldn't be a problem to carry an "open" bottle of wine in one's trunk as long as no one was drunk and driving.  Why would the cops search your car for it, anyways, if you weren't drunk.  Also, why are we getting pulled over?!  My husband had all these mysterious "friends" whom had gotten pulled over and completely searched when their stashes were found.  One was parked and drinking a beer outside of a restaurant with his takeout order and BAM!  Arrested!  I found this too far fetched to believe, and so we were starting to bicker.  Then we remembered my sister telling us not to fight, and started laughing over it being less than half an hour before starting the bickering. 

The worst part about that argument? We didn't have any alcohol with us!  We weren't the ones transporting any booze, or even with the intention to do so.  My husband doesn't even drink, ever.  I rarely drink.  This topic was such a non-issue for us, but we are so talented that we will find a way to argue about anything.  That's commitment!

For the record, we had one other half hearted spat, this time on the way home.  This time it was about some toll roads switching to all electronic billing.  I wanted to know how that would even be able to work out, and my husband insisted it already was in place within some states.  I argued that if everyone had to swipe a credit card, which is how he told me they do it, how could they force people to get credit cards.  What about 16 year olds who have no credit cards?  What about senior citizens who don't believe in credit cards?  How can you be forced to have one?  What if you don't know the "rules" and don't have a card, and pull up to an electronic booth?  What is going to happen to the toll booth employees?!?  Now, mind you, we rarely carry cash, and always have a few credit cards on hand.  Swiping a card would be easier for us.  Also, neither of us work at a toll booth.  So, again, this argument was over something that clearly did not apply to us. 

Is that what happens eventually?  You just get to the point where you argued about all the stuff that matters, and now you just start looking for ways to argue about random things that cross your mind?  Oy.  But, I suppose that is better than having REAL issues to argue about. 

And one more little gem from my husband. This is a conversation we had on day 2 of vacation:

Me: "Wow, Super Plus tampons.  I thought they only went up to Super.  That's amazing."
Husband: "Oh, there is actually a step above Super Plus, too.  It's really just a roll of paper towels and a hammer, but they call the hammer an "applicator."

Oh, love. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Survival - Family Vacation Edition

I will not bore you with the details of why I laid off the blog forever.  Long story short... I'm hellaciously busy.

So, let's get right to it.  The reason I had to crack open the laptop and write a blog post all of a sudden?  We went on vacation. 8 hours away (11 hrs with stops). with two small children. one is a nursing baby. and with my inlaws. to a non-airconditioned farm house. during a heat wave.  Fantastic!  What's the problem, you might ask... well if you did ask that, just stop reading this and surf somewhere else because this ain't for you.  I'm not looking to appeal to some saintly freak of nature who sees that combination and somehow does not immediately start to feel at least a small panic attack brewing.

First, I'd like to begin by writing  a guide to traveling long distances with a pre-schooler and a baby.  It would go something like this:

Chapter One:
Don't do it.

End of guide.

So there you have it.  If you're looking for advice, that's all you need.  You're welcome. 

Now, onto the nitty gritty.  Get comfy.  You'll laugh, you may cry (for me), and you will probably ask yourself WTF more than a few times.  (And just a side note, I have actually omitted some parts of the story that would be too squirm-inducing to include, so just know this isn't even the full ordeal.)

We had planned to go to New England for a family reunion in celebration of an Aunt's 100th birthday.  She is a delightful, spicy little card, and unfortunately also recovering from a bad injury.  We wanted to go celebrate with her, but she could not make it.  We celebrated it FOR her, instead.  We wanted to stop in and see her after the party.  Our boys had not yet met her, and it was important to us that they did get that opportunity.  We packed up the kids, and our car and headed north to party. 

Now, a very short time before we left, we were told about the no A/C in this farmhouse my inlaws had rented without checking with us and our preferences first.  Luckily, something told me to ask, and sure enough, no A/C.  Well the heat greatly bothers me.  It makes me unable to eat, and I feel very sick.  My kids also, growing up in A/C and all, do not handle the heat very well, and a it is just down right dangerous this year for babies in the heatwave.  So, packing the car included packing a window A/C unit so we could at least try to stay at the farmhouse.  Originally, we turned down the house, saying we were going to stay at a hotel.  Well, my MIL did all she could to convince us to stay there.  It also was not until the last minute that I was told there were no linens, and we would be cleaning everything ourselves before leaving.  BUT the house was very large, and it had some antiques and a few pieces of art in it to make it appear fancy, and since that side of the family LOVES to look flashy, the impression a huge, expensive house full of expensive things would leave on the guests of the reunion party (also to be held at the house), trumped the need for comfort and cleanliness. 

So, that is the information we knew going up to our vacation destination.  Oh, that and that I notoriously have a frequently strained relationship with my MIL (I married the baby boy of the family, shame on me!)  So, we were all unsure of how this would pan out, but we were packed to make the best of it! 

The first leg of the trip was a 4 hour drive, stopping to feed the baby and for potty breaks for our 4 year old.  These stops drug our trip out to nearly 6 hours.  Each time I tried to feed the baby, he'd barely eat.  He was too busy looking around at everything.  It was super frustrating, but there was not much I could do about it.  We got to the hotel at bedtime, and we were all ready to sleep.  Of course, we were plagued with someone pacing the floor above us, and then a loud group of people (intoxicated, probably) trying their key card in our door over and over again, exclaiming "I can't find our fucking room!" so loudly that it woke us up.  After a comfortable, but less than restful night of sleep, we went down for breakfast. 

The 1st hotel was lovely (despite the noise that had to do with the people staying there, not the hotel itself).  It was super comfy, and breakfast was great.  Well, until a Mother got sick of her perhaps 11 year old son shoving the table into her and left him there.  Then he proceeded to throw out the waffle he insisted on making, then making an enormous bowl of cereal, leaving that on the table, then making another waffle and heading directly over to the trashcan and throwing it out immediately, then dropping some tongs on the floor and picking them up and proceeding to obsessively ask people if he could get things for them with the dirty tongs with a smirk on his face.  Then he went back to wolf down the cereal, spilling it everywhere.  Several people commented on his behavior.  Why a Mom would leave a kid they know cannot behave alone like that, I don't know, but several people complained to his face and to the management, who then spoke to the mother.  So, when the nice couple came up to us to comment on how well behaved our 4 year old was, and how his smile and the baby's smile were so cute that the man had to go get his wife from their room to come see the smiles which just brightened his day, I thought it was probably at least partly because we had all witnessed satan's spawn tearing through the breakfast station, and that made my kid look like Mother Teresa, well if she were a 4 year old boy, anyway.

So after that bizarre start, we were on our way, again.  We left a smidge after 10AM, and, after our plethora of stops, arrived to the farmhouse at five minutes of 3.  So, almost 5 hours in the car.  The kids were stir crazy, and the party started at 3, so we found our way to our room right away to try to get ready.  My husband started by putting in our A/C & closing our blinds.  It had been raining there earlier, but all the windows were open.  It was so hot and humid in that house, it felt like walking into the steam room at the gym.  It also smelled like that.  At least we'd have control over one room.  We picked a room with 2 couches because A. it was the only double bed (yeah, double), and the most private.  B. The better rooms were taken by folks who got there before us.  Now, we were squeezing 4 people into 1 tiny room, and the other rooms had 1-2 people, max, but hey, take the king size bed in the enormous room with tons of floor space for our pack and play and our older son's pea pod sleep tent.  We'll sleep on top of each other, no biggie.  We tried to be optimistic with, "Well, at least we can chill out on these couches if we need a break from the heat." when my MIL told us to feel the couches before sitting on them or putting our things on them.  Yep, they were soggy.  "Everything is always wet at the beach." she told us.  As if I had never visited a beach before, and didn't know better.  The couches were 2 different colors, per couch.  There was the color it was supposed to be on the bottom skirt, and then the brownish color on the cushions and arm rests from being so damp in such a humid place.  Paintings on the walls were warped.  There were brown drips all over the place, and we are pretty sure the "art" in our room was a painting of a dead dog.  Immediately, my husband said "you want to just go now?"  I was relieved to find he hated it, too.  "Really, it's not just me?" I asked, to be sure. "I didn't expect everything to be wet." he confirmed. 
  Now, onto the bathroom.  My MIL shows us the restroom, where there is a curtain that leads into a closet that leads into their enormous bedroom where there is plenty of room for their luggage, but they are insisting on keeping it in that closet.  The door between their room and closet does not shut or lock.  So, at all times, if someone is in the closet or their room and you're on the john, just a thin curtain protects any idea of privacy you may have wished you had.  They assure us that they are not using that door, and they are treating the curtain as a door, *excuse me, you better, what else are you gonna do?!*  Moments after that, I'm in the bathroom when my MIL's boyfriend walks through the curtain with a group of guests he is giving a tour to.  So much for not using that door and treating the curtain as a door.  Also, did I mention there was no blind in the bathroom, just a very see through sheer.  We could see out of it clearly, and you could see in through it clearly.  The tub was directly across from it, so you step out of the shower, and suddenly there is a free show for the folks outside on the neighbors porch, and, yes, there were folks.  There was also no place to put any of your bathroom things like towels, toiletries, a real working door....

Alas, we manage to get ourselves together and get down to the party.  At the end of the night, I took a beer up with me to bed.  After I fed the baby, I was going to have a nice, cold beer, and get some rest.  I haven't had a beer in years.  I forgot they make you pee.  What a terrible thing to forget on the night that my inlaws decide to use the door that they said they weren't using to leave the bathroom and go back into their room, while leaving the actual door to the hallway LOCKED!  So, now we are locked out of the bathroom.  There is another bathroom, down the LOUD, creaky steps, with our flip flops clonking down while someone is trying to sleep below the stairs... and make our way to the other family's bathroom that has all their stuff in it.  I do this 4 times myself, my husband does it once or twice himself, and then he had to carry our 4 year old down there once in the middle of the night.  In the confusion, my 4 year old wakes up enough to realize his legs are killing him with growing pains and starts to panic and run face first into the foot of our bed, busting his face open under his nose, swelling up his nose and cheek.  So now he's screaming about his legs and his nose.  Now the baby is awake, and now everyone is miserable (since this woke up the folks sleeping downstairs) except for my MIL and boyfriend who (I know this because she told me), took a vicodin and went to sleep after locking us out of the damn bathroom, ultimately causing all this trouble.  My husband says "we leave tomorrow!" 

I almost forgot to mention the reunion was really a lot of fun, and it was great to see everyone, and it did make it all worth the trouble.  Thank goodness, because I would have been full on sobbing by then.

We woke up, and we actually had a pleasant breakfast with the rest of the folks who were staying at the house.  The kids had fun trying to kill all the bugs we were finding in the house (yep, bugs), and we were all discussing going to the beach.  I went upstairs to get dressed for the beach, and find the bathroom is locked AGAIN.  This time, I catch my MIL and ask if she's done in there.  "Sure, Sweetie, go ahead in."  "You locked the door." "Oh, I was so afraid I'd do something like that."  "Yep, you did it.  You did it last night, too, all night."  "Oh, I had no idea!  I'm sorry."  "Okay."  So, now she is aware that she had locked us out, not once, but twice.  Remember this fact...

So we are headed to the beach at the end of our driveway, that we only found out that morning is a pretty crummy beach to take kids too.  It's full of broken shells and rocks.  There really isn't much of a place to sit comfortably, at least that was the report we got from one of our cousins.  (So, again, this begs the question of why did my MIL have to book THIS place?!) But, rain is on it's way, so we figured it would have to do.  My MIL tells us to hang on, they are coming, follow them.  Why we had to follow their car to the end of the driveway (we drove because it was a looooooooooong driveway), I don't know, but we head out.  They turn the wrong way.  They are taking us to a different beach.  We only had about 30-45 mins to be at the beach before the baby needed to have lunch and take his nap, so about 14 minutes into driving we try calling their cellphones to ask where we are going.  They don't answer.  My husband immediately calls his hotel points customer service line and books us a suite for that night.  He tells me, though, that he just wants to drive straight back home, with me holding the wheel so he can stand out of the sunroof and flip the double bird all the way home.  I guess he was done.  They finally call us back, and we tell them we thought we were going to the beach down the street, and they tell us they are taking us to a better place, and we explain we don't have the time.  So we agree to try to squeeze an extra hour out of the kids and make it work.  Well, after they take us down side streets full of traffic cones that people put up to keep you from parking in their spots, we call them back and say now it's really too late unless we park right now.  So we try the main lot, and it's $50 for the two cars to park, and that is NOT worth it for an hour.  We head back home.  I feed the baby and start packing while I put him down to nap.  Then, I announce we are leaving, and I take the fall.  I say it's too hot and it's making me ill.  They saw that I couldn't even eat more than, literally, 3 bites of my lunch, and they know I have asthma, so why make them angry at both my husband and I.  They don't like me half the time, anyway!  So they say they understand, actually, shock, gasp, and they are happy we made it at all with the kids.  But, then my MIL starts laying it on thick with how much of an expense this was and how some other family member bought toys for the kids to play with there, and trying to work her guilt on me, per usual (even though we warned her from day 1 that we probably would end up in a hotel).  It almost worked, until I went to get our soap out of the bathroom and it was locked for the third time in less than 24 hrs with no one in it!  Then all guilt melted away, and I was looking forward to a non-soggy bed, climate control, and room for my kids to spread out and not break their face on furniture.  Oh and no bugs, and no moldy shower and moldy furniture.  Oh, and a PRIVATE, unlocked bathroom!  Woot!

My husband really was my hero, and that is where he saved our vacation.  The suite was fantastic. The baby even had a more private area to rest in, and it was easier for him to fall asleep and stay asleep there.  My 4 year old loved the late night swims with Daddy in the pool while I put the baby down for bed.  They could take a CLEAN bath, and stick to their bedtime routine.  We got to enjoy some of our favorite places in New England.  Too bad it rained, and the 2 times we went to the beach it poured on  us within minutes, and we had to leave.  We did get to see our 100 year old Aunt, and she loved getting to see the boys.  We stayed 2 more nights before heading back for our 2 day drive home.  After 5 nights away from home, we were ready to get back to our own beds.  The kids were fussy most of the time by then, and we were exhausted.  But, vacation was saved & despite the mishaps and the gross accommodations, we ultimately had a good time.  We did get together with my inlaws again for some dinner one evening.  We wish we could have seen some more of the family a little bit more before we left, but our time was short and we had a lot to try to cram in, so we did the best with what time we had.  I guess doing the best with what we had really was the overall theme of the whole week. 

To end on a positive note, we did not let the baby play on the hotel floor or the dirty farmhouse floor, so we thought he'd have a small set back in his learning how to walk.  He had taken his first few steps at nine months, and now at 10 months he was up to 6 steps.  So we were prepared he'd maybe be out of practice and have to work back up to 6 steps.  So, when we got in the door, we put him in the living room, and he just walked right across the room, clapping his hands and cheering.  We imagine he was thinking "Freedom!  Sweet Freedom!"

Oh, and when we asked our 4 year old what his favorite thing about vacation was, after he mentioned watching a dvd in the car he said "coming home!"  And there you have it.