Oregon Trails (Part One)

A few days ago, I returned from my dreaded trip to Oregon.  You know, the one where I had to solo-parent my way through cross-country travel with two tenacious toddlers in tow.

If you read my last post, then you know I spent a lot of time anxiety-ing over all of the things that could go wrong.  I had hoped that if I planned for the worst, there would be no surprises.  I hate surprises.

So how did it go? Let’s just say that things went repeatedly and horrifyingly wrong at every turn (with, of course, a few scattered saving graces).  So wrong, in fact, that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one post.  So let’s just dip our toes in, shall we?

Day 1:  Friday, May 11

The first day of our journey was probably the easiest.  At this point, it was not yet undeniably apparent that the whole trip was, in fact, straight-up cursed.

So things started out with a 6 a.m. flight out of our dinky airport here in Upstate NY.  We were to change planes in Newark and then take a 6-hour flight to Portland.

Because I didn’t want to wake the kids up any earlier than necessary, I cut things a little close at our local airport.  I was horrified to find a long line at check-in, and had to be one of THOSE PEOPLE who gets special treatment and cuts the line because they are about to miss their flight.  I always roll my eyes at THOSE PEOPLE because come on, get your life together.

Getting through the security line was a bit bumpy.  I was treated like a terrorist because I forgot to take my shoes off.  I was also treated like a terrorist because I didn’t take my iPad out of my backpack and put it in a separate bin (apparently I’m supposed to intuit brand new security rules).  I was ALSO treated like a terrorist because one of the milk bottles I brought was not see-through.  So finally, after all of the terrorist treatment, I had to sprint with the kids to our flight.  Gotta love that feeling when you run up to an empty gate and see “Final Boarding” flashing on the screen.  Cue heart pounding.

But then, our flight to Newark was kind of a dream come true.  K-Man was adorably narrating everything that happened out the window.  “Are we driving? Is that a plane over there? Are we going faster? Are we gonna take off? Are we flying? Is that the ground?”  I can’t say for sure that the other passengers thought his loud and persistent questions were adorable at 6 a.m., but obviously they did, right?

The layover was uneventful.  Other than the entire mile we had to walk to our connecting gate.  And the trip to the restroom to let K-Man have a pee, wherein Ell-Bell screamed her head off because she didn’t want to be in her carrier.  And the second trip to the restroom, five minutes later, to let K-Man have a poop, wherein Ell-Bell screamed her head off again.

The six hour flight to Portland — the one that gave me nightmares just anticipating — that was actually  pretty good too.  I let the kids watch as much TV on their tablets as they wanted.  I mean, I was a little annoyed that I purchased and downloaded the entire 4th season of Paw Patrol and they both suddenly decided that they have no interest in Paw Patrol.  But whatevs.

And then we landed in Portland and I felt this overwhelming relief wash over me.  We did it, the hard part was over! My sister and mom were there are the airport to pick us up, so I was finally ready to let my guard down and enjoy my trip.

(Let me just say here that my sister was amazingly awesome and lent me her extra car, already installed with two borrowed car seats from her local mom friends.  So that’s like an entire travel headache that I never once had to worry about. Amazingly awesome.)

We casually hung out at my sister’s for a while, and my heart swelled watching K-Man play with his two cousins.

After a bit, my mom announced she was going to go home and give her dog a little attention.  We promised to text each other and figure out dinner plans, and when I requested an “early dinner” for my kids’ sake she nodded in agreement.

After a little more time at my sister’s, I took the kids to our hotel.  I had booked a place that was a good 20 minutes away from everything because it had a suite option with two separate rooms — a sitting area and a bedroom with a wall in between.  Anyone who travels with kids knows that this convenience is pretty clutch, because those little turds will NOT go to sleep if you’re sitting there hanging in the same room as them.

So we check in, I drag my kids and luggage up to our room, and I enter to find … two beds and a sofa, with no wall between.  I was sure there was some mix up, so I called down to the front desk and told them that I had booked a room with a separated sitting area.  And then the clerk told me that I couldn’t possibly have booked that kind of room, because they didn’t have that kind of room at the hotel.

WTF? After looking back at my reservation I realized that the room description was just vague enough that it could be read either way.  So I guess I’m just a big dumbass.

After choking back a minor panic attack in response to the room situation, I decided to pull out all of our devices and get hooked up to the wi-fi.  I am, after all, a responsible data plan user (at Hubby’s repeated urging).

But the wifi, yeah, it didn’t work.  Not even a little bit.  After multiple calls down to the front desk, and repeated attempts over the following days, I never once got the internet to connect.  Which was kind of a nightmare.   Because K-Man lives and breathes those stupid YouTube kids videos.  And WTF was I supposed to do with myself after the kids went to sleep?  I had so much Facebook to scroll, and so much Jane the Virgin to watch! (Needless to say, we ran out of our data for the month before the trip was over.)

So things weren’t going so great at the hotel.  As dinner time approached, my sister and I started texting with my mom about plans.  Except my mom wasn’t responding.  For a really long time.  5:45 p.m. rolled around and my mom still was MIA.  WTF? We had talked about an early dinner, what did she think that meant?

Turns out she and her husband had taken their dog to the dog park and forgot to bring their phones along.  Old people, amiright?

My sister and I finally just made plans to meet somewhere at 6:15 p.m., hoping my mom would catch up with us when she figured her life out.  (She did figure her life out, and showed up only a few minutes late).

Meanwhile, it was 9:15 p.m. body time for my kids, after they had woken up super early for the day.  So needless to say they were completely toasted, and dinner was not so easy. K-Man was running around the entire restaurant, army-crawling up to strangers’ tables, trying to sprint out the door into traffic, asking to go pee and then refusing once we got to the bathroom.   Towards the end of the meal, Ell-Bell just sort of gave up trying.  She started wailing, and did not stop until well after we had left the restaurant.  I’m not usually one to sweat it when my kids make a scene in public, but I could tell that my mom and her husband were pretty uncomfortable with it, which made me uncomfortable.

Finally, finally, we said our goodbyes, and I drove back to the hotel.  By this time it was 8 p.m. local time, 11 p.m. body time, and I was SURE my kids would go right to sleep.  Because they had been up for freaking 18 hours.  But alas, the very-slowly setting sun was blasting through an uncorrectable gap in the blackout curtains and it was basically daylight in our room.  And my kids were overtired and wired.  And obviously they didn’t want to go to sleep with me sitting right there in the same damned room as them, trying not to make eye contact.  Ugh!

After repeated attempts (and me choking back some exhausted sobs), the kids finally passed out at 9:30 p.m. local time, 12:30 a.m. body time.

I stayed up for about 15 minutes longer, and then I also hit the hay.  “At least they will sleep in a little bit tomorrow morning,” I murmured happily to myself as I drifted off.

What a long-assed day.  And yeah, that was the “good” day.  Stay tuned tomorrow, when the saga continues.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

 

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

So at the end of this week, I’m finally doing it.  I’m taking my first solo trip with the two kids.  A six-hour flight across the country, and then back again, all over the course of 4 days.  Honestly, what’s the worst that could happen?

If you’re a parent to young children, or know anything about young children, or have ever been on an airplane, you’re probably wondering if I’m out of my damned mind.

Oddly enough, traveling across the country alone with two toddlers is actually not my my idea of a good time.  But here’s the sitch.  My mom and my sister and my sister’s little family all live in the Portland, Oregon area.  I haven’t seen my sister or her husband or kids since last January, when they came to see me after Ell-Bell was born.  And my mom, who is not retired, managed to visit me twice last year.  So really, by all accounts, it’s my turn to suck it up and do the traveling.

Now ideally, I would bring Hubby with me to share in the blessed nightmare that is traveling with young kids.  But Hubby is a busy resident who was only allotted two weeks of vacation, and we’ve already burned both weeks on other trips to see far-away family.

I wish I could say that I’m totally confident, that I know I’ve got this, but the truth is I am scared out of my mind.  There are so many things that could go wrong, and I can’t help but repeatedly catalogue them in my fragile little brain.

Why not put pen to paper? Maybe if I write my fears down, it will help me process this bundle of anxiety.  So what’s the worst that could happen?  Well, let me think:

  • We oversleep and miss our 6AM flight
  • Security confiscates all the food I’ve packed for my kids to eat on the plane
  • There’s no milk for sale in the shops past security
  • Both kids insist on being carried at the same time
  • We miss our connection — yay for 55-minute layovers!
  • Ell-Bell cries for the entire 6-hour flight
  • Ell-Bell refuses to nap on the 6-hour flight
  • I urgently need to use the bathroom while Ell-Bell is napping on the 6-hour flight
  • K-Man urgently needs to use the bathroom while Ell-Bell is napping on the 6-hour flight
  • K-Man pees his pants
  • K-Man poops his pants
  • Someone vomits
  • I lose one or both of my kids in the airport
  • I drop dead from exhaustion after carrying all the things

And that’s just the trip over.  I can’t wait to navigate the three-hour time change, hotel sleeping, and making our way back home.

This trip isn’t going to be easy, but hopefully, it will be worth it.  I need to keep reminding myself of the positives that will come out of this:

  • I get to spend time with some of my favorite people
  • My kids get to bond with their extended family
  • I like Oregon
  • Hubby gets to have some alone time and focus on his work

After this trip, we will finally be in the black when it comes to family visits.  Which means next time Hubby has some vacation, we can actually take a vacation.  Where should we go?

Until next time,

Vee

We Scarred Him For Life

So this is embarrassing.

Disclaimer:  Things are about to get real personal.

It was a Friday.  Hubby had a rare early exit from work, and so was miraculously home before nap time.  And you know, Spring was in the air, so things were feeling a little –shall we say — frisky? between Hubby and I as we started to get the kids ready to go down for the afternoon.

(Did I mention that this is embarrassing?)

So I rocked Ell-Bell into sweet dreamland.  Baby girl is a piece of cake to put to sleep these days, thank god.  Meanwhile, Hubby set K-Man up in his own room with some Paw Patrol.  (Little dude has “quiet time” because he officially really truly doesn’t nap anymore.  I don’t want to talk about it ok?)

When K-Man is in his room for quiet time, he almost never comes out.  I mean, he’s watching TV, so he’s pretty much dead to the world, right?

Which, I guess, is why Hubby and I felt ok about acting on our adult urges in that moment.  I gave him my “meet me in the bedroom” eyes and he certainly wasted no time in following my lead.  We’ve got two young kids and he works 80-hour weeks, he wasn’t about to say no to a little mid-day love sesh!

So there we were, getting pretty tangled up in the sheets — and holy cow my face is burning as I type this — when we heard a noise.  A very distinct noise.  The sound of K-Man’s door knob turning.

Did I mention the door to K-Man’s room is approximately two feet away from the door to our master suite?

K-Man yelled, “Hey mom and dad!” as he started to push open our door.  And at honest-to-god-super-hero-speed, Hubby jumped out of bed and threw our comforter over my entire naked body.  Covered me from head to toe in one fell swoop.  (Pretty talented, no?)

So yeah, my son walked in to our room and encountered … my Hubby … standing seemingly alone in our room … naked.

K-Man said, “I need to pee.”

“Um, okay.”  Hubby said back.

“I need help taking my pants off,” said K-Man.

“Um, okay.”  Hubby said again.

Hubby then proceeded to help K-Man take his pants off.  Because, you know, he needed to pee.  Even though every other day of the week he took his own damned pants off when he needed to pee.

“I’m just going to leave these here.” K-man said, gesturing to his pants as he threw them in a heap on our bedroom floor. (Why tho?)

“Okay.” – Hubby.

“I’m just going to close the door now.” – K-Man

“Okay.” – Hubby.

And then K-Man disappeared back into the obscurity of his own Paw-Patrolled room.

So yeah, that happened.

He’s only three, and I don’t even know if he knew I was in the room.  But he was super awkward and insisted on closing the door when he left.  So maybe he felt a weird vibe.

I actually still remember walking in on my parents having sex during nap time when I was 3 or 4.  So that’s good news, right?

Did we scar him for life?

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Good Friday (Grateful Friday)

I’ve been super grouchy lately.  It could have something to do with the fact that we are still very much in the endless throes of winter here in Upstate NY — is it too much to ask for the thermometer to break 40F on Easter Sunday?  It could also have something to do with the fact that I got trolled hard in a mommy group on Facebook yesterday — why are virtual peeps so mean?  Or it could have everything to do with the fact that, after four years of sweet bliss, I am finally suffering from the girl flu again.  (But can I really complain about a four-year break?  Prolly not.  Thank you, back-to-back pregnancies and breastfeeding gods).

Regardless of my grump, today is Good Friday.  Now, I’m no religious scholar, but I’m pretty sure the “good” in Good Friday doesn’t have to do with good feels (because I googled it).  But, hey, I can take some creative liberties.  So, in the spirit of good-ness, and in an effort to boost my crappy mood, here are 5 things that I’m grateful for today:

  1. Easter is upon us.  Which means Easter candy is upon us.  Now, I told Hubby the same thing I tell him every year: all I want is a freaking peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny.  Every year he forgets.  Every year I let it go, because come on, I have 32-year-old metabolism.  But this year … this year I was cleaning out some kitchen cabinets and stumbled upon it.  A peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny that he must have purchased behind my back, and is hopefully saving to give to me on Easter morning.  I know it’s only March, so is it too early to award him Hubby of the Year?  (Please, for both our sakes, let the bunny actually be for me.)
  2. Zzzzzzz.  Because I have no regard for my well-being, I am going to go ahead and disrespect the sleep gods here:  Ever since last week’s bitch fest about Ell-Bell’s atrocious sleep habits, baby girl has been sleeping much better at night.  I mean you guys, last night honeyboo didn’t even wake up for the first time until 5:30 in the morning! What? Of course she’s just trolling me, lulling me into a false sense of security so that I fall that much harder when she wakes up 5 times tonight.  But still, I’ll take a few nights in a row of good sleep!
  3. Things are about to get romantical.  The in-laws are coming for a visit next week.  Ugh, I know, there’s nothing romantic about that.  But of course, the silver lining is that they provide free and relatively safe-ish child care, which means Hubby and I are about to go on our first date in four months!  I am way excited, and I don’t know if I’ve ever spent so much mental energy planning a 3-4 hour block of time in my life.  I’m thinking sushi and a movie, but my god, the possibilities are endless!  (Side note: can somebody teach me how to hire a real babysitter?  I’m guessing it would be a good thing to not wait four months between dates).
  4. I’m basically an Olympian.  Okay, I’m not, at all.  I am actually that mushy-armed person at the gym who only ever runs on the treadmill — the one who everyone looks at and says, “girlfriend, you need to get off that treadmill and do some actual push-ups.”  But hey, I’ve been back to running pretty consistently for the better part of a year now and I am feeling really good about it.  I’m getting faster, I’m running longer, and gosh darnit, I might even get brave enough to run outside one of these days.  I just need a babysitter real quick.
  5. I get to spectate all the sports.  I don’t care what you say, I like to watch golf on TV, ok?  It’s relaxing.  For me, April (snow) showers mean only one thing:  it’s time to watch some golf hotties navigate the Augusta greens at the Masters.  Of course, my in-laws will be in town during coverage because OF COURSE THEY HAVE TO COME during the Masters basically EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  But whatever.  I’m also giddy for NBA playoffs and more golf and tennis tourneys on the horizon, for those keeping track.  (Holler at me if you are also secretly in love with at least half of the men’s tennis field, we might have to be besties).

So there you have it.  What’s on your grateful list this Good Friday?  Wishing everyone a happy passover, Easter, or whatever else you may be celebrating in the next few days.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Sweet Dreams ’til Sunbeams Find You . . . or Your Daughter Wakes You Up

You know that moment you’ve been looking forward to since you first woke up in the morning?  That moment when you finally crawl into bed and relax under your covers after a long day?  When your head hits the pillow and you prepare to surrender yourself to sweet sleepy bliss?  When every muscle in your body starts to give in, and your breathing gets deeper, deeper, and your eyelids get heavier, heavier . . .

Yeah.  That’s the exact moment that my daughter Ell-Bell wakes up screaming.  Every. single. night.  And it doesn’t even matter what time I go to bed.  She manages to pull it off whether it’s 10 p.m., midnight, or anywhere in between.  What on Earth did I ever do to her?

Am I embarrassed that my 15-month-old is still not sleeping through the night?  You betcha.  Do I feel guilty that I’m still nursing that sweet little demon back to sleep because it’s all I can do?  100%.  Is the end in sight?  God I hope so.

I remember with K-Man, we were sheepishly admitting to the pediatrician that he was still waking up in the night at his 18-month check-up.  But then a few weeks later, he miraculously started sleeping through.  And it was everything.  (Well, it was everything for four months, and then we had another baby.  That was dumb.)

So maybe my life is about to get a whole lot better?  I can do this for three more months, right?

Until next time,

Vee

Oral

My son K-Man was not an oral baby. I mean, sure, he was obsessed with his pacifier, but he was never one for putting foreign objects in his mouth. Which, I now realize, was a blessing. I never had to fuss about what potential choking hazard or foul object might be lying within his sticky little grasp.

Safe to say, I was not adequately prepared when my daughter Ell-Bell basically came out of the womb eating things off the floor.  She is orally fixated to the max and will try to put anything and everything in her big fat gob.  It’s cute, of course, but sometimes can be annoying as fuck! Like that time at 5 months old, when she pulled a pile of tacos off the table and onto my lap, because she was trying to snag a spicy bite.  Or that time (all the time) she was obsessed with her big brother’s super ball and carried it around in her mouth like a dog.

Or that time at the playground, yesterday, when I couldn’t let her roam free for one second because she insisted on trying to put every single wood chip from that wood-chip-laden plot directly into her pie hole.  It was exhausting chasing after her, prying wood chips out of her fists, and scolding “no no, icky, that’s not food!”

As I tiredly pulled my two chunks home from the playground in their little red wagon, I thought to myself, “maybe I could blog about this issue?” But alas, I resolved there wasn’t a ton of there there.

That all changed just two hours later.

Fast forward to dinner time. I let the kids run a little wild while I put everything together. As I was dishing up some baked chicken, rice, and flaccid broccoli stems (anybody else constantly duped by the luscious-looking broccoli florets on the cover of frozen produce bags?), I suddenly noticed that I hadn’t heard Ell-Bell for at least 45 seconds. Wuh oh.  I quickly sashayed towards the living room–where I thought she was–but a shadow caught my eye as I passed by the bathroom. I backed up — idiot! Of course she’s in the bathroom!

There she sat on the bathroom floor, next to the kitty litter. One hand holding a small brown object. The other hand batting at her tongue. A pile of other small brown objects scattered across the floor. Brown smudges all over the corners of her mouth. Do I need to say more, you guys? She was eating fucking cat poop! “Holy shit!” I thought as I scooped her up and batted the turd out of her hand.  I frantically grabbed about 200 wet wipes, crumpled them into a ball, and smashed them repeatedly against her face, tongue, and hands.  After texting with Hubby to confirm that Ell-Bell was not about to die, I set her down for dinner. What else was I supposed to do?

So what do you think, do I win the Mom of the Year award?

I guess, in spite of everything, there are some upsides to having an oral baby.  For instance, Ell-Bell absolutely devoured those broccoli stems at dinner.  That could have been a desperate attempt to wash the kitty poo taste out of her mouth, though. Who knows.

Until next time,

Vee

I Almost Started a War

I think I have gift PTSD.  As I’ve documented here over and over again, my mother-in-law’s gift-giving leaves a little something to be desired.  I’ve realized over the past few weeks, as my son’s third birthday approaches, that I am starting to dread present-receiving opportunities.  How sad is that?

Lately, the in-laws have developed a habit of sending Amazon gifts for birthdays, without any gift receipt included to identify who the package is from.  No shame in the Amazon game, obviously, but the gifts they choose to send are just weird and inappropriate.  Case in point, my poor sister-in-law (whose Amazon wish list is abundant with cute ideas, by the way) received a stuffed Teddy Bear from her parents via Amazon for her 35th birthday.  Oy.

So for weeks, I’ve been steeling myself for the inevitable Amazon package containing some random present for K-Man’s third birthday.  And yesterday, when I opened the mailbox, there it was.  A big fluffy Amazon envelope addressed to my son.  I groaned as I carried it inside, groping it all over in an attempt to decipher its contents.

After a few deep breaths and a shot of tequila (just kidding), I ripped open the package.  And pulled out … a pair of pruning shears.  And a thirteenth-century theological treatise written in the form of “a dialogue among allegorical figures who represent the nature of the relation between the soul and God.”  No receipt of any kind.

My blood ran cold.  And then very, very hot.  I couldn’t be sure who the package was from, but come on.  Obviously it was some kind of sick joke from the in-laws, because my father-in-law loves to garden, and my mother-in-law is a classicist.  Some kind of sick joke, or they were going senile.

I honestly felt sick to my stomach.  This was a new low for them.  My sweet little son is turning three and actually understands what it means and is excited about presents, and they send something that I literally can’t even give to him? What the fuck? Do they secretly hate him?

I shot off some angry texts to Hubby and my sister-in-law, looking to commiserate.  Hubby groaned along with me, though he was excited about keeping the pruning shears for himself.  We briefly discussed instituting a “no more presents” rule that only applied to his parents.  And we agreed that we would go out and buy K-Man one more present to replace this mess.

My sister-in-law expressed genuine confusion, and couldn’t believe that her parents would actually send this garbage to a child.  She suggested we check with them and confirm that they sent the present, since there was no receipt.  Fair enough, I guess, but who else would possibly stoop so low?

So when Hubby got home from work, we called the in-laws.  My heart was racing as he dialed the number, but of course as soon as we got on the line, my mother-in-law dominated the conversation for 10 minutes straight.  When Hubby finally was able to ask whether they sent K-Man a pair of pruning shears and a philosophical text for his birthday, my MIL burst out laughing.

“I knew it,” I thought to myself.  “She thinks this shit is funny.  It’s not fucking funny.”

More laughter.  “That went to your house?” She asked.  And then more laughter.  And then it slowly dawned on me, just as she was eking out her own explanation.  Yes, the in-laws had purchased these items.  No, they had not intended to send them to my son.  Their Amazon default address was apparently set to K-Man from a long-ago purchase, and they forgot to change the default before ordering themselves some gardening tools and what sounds like the worst book I will never read.

Holy heck.  Was this some crazy conspiracy to give me a heart attack?

So this time, I must admit, I was wrong.  My in-laws did not give the worst imaginable gift.  Not yet, anyway.  And as much as I’m still reeling from that emotional roller coaster, I am relieved to know that their gift-giving awfulness knows some bounds.  Thank the Lord.

Until next time,

Vee