Oregon Trails (Finally, the Finale)

It’s finally here, the last post about my cursed trip to visit family in Oregon.  At the end of yesterday’s post, I had turned in early at a hotel near the airport in Portland, ready to wake up at an ungodly hour to drag my kids onto a 6 a.m. cross-country flight.

Day 5: Tuesday, May 15

My alarm went off at 3:00 a.m., and I jumped out of bed and started getting ready.  I had a long day ahead of me.  I had booked the kids and I on the hotel’s 4:00 a.m. shuttle to the airport, where we would hopefully have plenty of time to make our 6:00 a.m. flight to Newark.  It was going to be a 5-hour flight, and then we would have a 4-hour layover (gross) in Newark before our final flight home to Upstate NY.

When the clock struck 3:30 a.m., I made my way over to the beds to start waking K-Man and Ell-Bell.  They are slow movers, and I wanted them to be dressed and ready so we could head down to the shuttle by 3:45 a.m.

I whispered K-Man’s name and started to gently shake his shoulder.  But then I was distracted by my phone buzzing.  Who could be texting me at this hour?

I checked my phone and saw the following text:

Your flight to Upstate NY is canceled due to air traffic control.  We’ve rebooked you on an alternate itinerary.  We’ve rebooked you today on our 11:25 p.m. flight via Chicago, arriving in Upstate NY at 9:37 a.m.

I blinked at my phone, completely dumbfounded.  If I’m being honest I had expected some kind of problem with the flights.  That’s just the way this trip was going.  What I wasn’t expecting was a full 17-hour delay in my itinerary, followed by a redeye.  Were they kidding me with this shit? Was there really no faster way to Upstate NY?  Was I really going to have to spend all day at the Portland airport with my two travel-weary children?  Was I really going to have to keep them up until 11:30 at night, and then wake them up again 4 hours later to make a transfer in Chicago?

I couldn’t bear the thought.  I started frantically searching the internet for alternate itineraries, all while dialing the airline’s customer service.  I was finding nothing good online, but I was hopeful that when I got on the phone with an actual person, they could pull some strings and find me something to get me even remotely close to Upstate NY before the day was over.

After 30 minutes on hold, I finally got on with a representative.  He was way less than helpful.  Which, I guess, is not his fault, there just weren’t a lot of ways to get to Upstate NY that day.  When I discovered that it was only the Newark-to-Upstate NY flight that was canceled, I asked if I could still get on the flight from Portland to Newark, and then figure things out from there.  I was hoping that maybe once in Newark I could get on standby or something.  Or worst case scenario, I could rent a car and drive home from Newark, it was only a 4-hour trip.  I just knew I needed to get the FUCK out of Oregon.  ASAP.

The representative on the phone assured me that he had restored my Portland-to-Newark reservation, so I quickly hung up and got my things together.  I woke the kids up and we went downstairs and caught the 4:30 a.m. shuttle to the airport.

We got to the airport at 4:45 a.m., and I felt like we had a comfortable amount of time to get through check-in and security.  We waited in line for a kiosk, and then I swiped my credit card and told the machine I was headed to Newark.  The machine could not find my reservation on the flight to Newark.

“Fuuuuuuckkkk,” I moaned audibly.  I entered my itinerary number and the kiosk told me I was still booked on a flight to Chicago at 11:25 p.m.  So the representative on the phone had just been dicking me around, and he had not, in fact, restored my reservation on the Portland-to-Newark flight.

I needed to speak to someone, and quickly, but it was a free-for-all.  There was no line you could stand in to wait for an agent.  The agents were just free-floating from kiosk to kiosk, helping whoever was the squeakiest wheel.  I kept trying to flag someone down while keeping my kids close by,  but I was having a bitch of a time.  Time was getting tight. Finally, at about 5:15 a.m., I was able to get an agent to tell me that she would help me right after she was finished talking to the travelers she was currently helping.

Relieved, I waited patiently at my kiosk.  But I watched her like a hawk.  I watched her finish with the travelers she was currently helping.  And then I watched her walk in the complete opposite direction to go handle something else.  Quickly, I hoped.  And then I watched some other traveler walk up to the agent and start peppering her with questions.  “Get on with it!” I grumbled to myself, but instead, the agent hunkered down and started having a full-blown conversation with this other traveler.

I’d had it.  I stomped over to the agent and, as politely as I could, reminded her that she had promised to help us next, emphasizing that I was about to miss my flight.  The agent got huffy, told me she was doing the best she could and that she had no control over who walked up to her and asked for help.  And then she told me to go wait back at my kiosk, and that she’d be with me when she could.

I sulked back to my kiosk, fighting back tears.  I knew I had been rude, and I hate confrontation, but I was beyond frustrated with this situation!  I just wanted to get back on the fucking flight that I had made a fucking reservation for.

A minute later, the agent walked over to me and said, “Now, how can I help you?”

I tearfully (ugh) explained what was going on, and the agent hopped on her computer to see if she could help me.  It turned out, the “computer” wouldn’t let me get on the flight to Newark without having a connecting flight out of Newark also reserved.  After 10 minutes of typing and making phone calls, the agent had ironed everything out, and we were on our way to security at about 5:35 a.m.  For the second time this trip, I walked up to an empty gate and boarded my flight under the judge-y and watchful eye of the Final Boarding screen.

I quickly texted Hubby an update of our situation, letting him know I would figure things out once we got to Newark.  Then I put away my phone and hunkered down for our five hour flight.

The flight went by quickly.  K-Man was totally engrossed in his tablet.  Ell-Bell slept on and off for at least half the time.  I mean, Ell-Bell did throw up twice, but we somehow survived it.  The first time she threw up, I had an empty drink cup in my hand, so I managed to catch almost all of her vomit in the cup.  It was super awkward walking her back to the restroom whilst holding a chunky vomit cup in the air, but most of the passengers seemed oblivious.  As for Ell-Bell’s second vomit, well, it all just kind of disappeared into the folds of her neck.  So I let it slide.  Because I had been doing this for four days and I just didn’t care anymore.

As we began our descent, I started to worry about the task ahead of me.  How, exactly, was I going to get home from Newark?  There were like three flights a day from Newark to Upstate NY, and they were all canceled or booked for the rest of the day.  I could try and get on standby.  I could take an hour-and-a-half taxi to another NYC airport for a flight out of there.  I could take a bus back to Upstate NY.  I could rent a car … but wait, what were the chances that I could find a rental company with two car seats available for rent?  It all sounded so overwhelming, but I knew I had to figure it out.

When we were on the ground I turned on my phone and saw a message from Hubby asking me to let him know when I landed.  I sent him a quick text and then started to pack everything up.  Hubby immediately called me and when I picked up, he sounded way too cheerful.  “Hi! How was your flight?  So I’m here in Newark, waiting to pick you guys up and drive you home.”

Oh. my. god.  You guys.  It took everything in me to not burst into tears as relief washed over me.  I love that man so much.  It’s not just that he volunteered to drive 4 hours to Newark to pick us up and then drive another 4 hours home.  This day was his ONLY day off in a stretch of 12 days.  And he had just come off 6 night shifts in a row.  And he had 27 patients notes to do.  And instead of enjoying his single day off or getting his work done, he opted to spend 8+ hours in the car for us.  My hero.

I hugged Hubby tightly when we got to the luggage carousel, and then we headed out for our 4-hour drive back to Upstate NY.  Well, it was supposed to be 4 hours.   You know how driving with small kids can be — numerous stops for potty time and food needs.  And then there was the apocalypse storm that we had to drive through (the reason that my flight had been canceled in the first place).  We hit a few bits of traffic where people were slowly navigating around downed trees in the road.

About two hours away from home, Ell-Bell threw up in the back seat.  Surprise, surprise.  We had just gotten back on the road and were not about to pull over, so I did something stupid.  Something that I’ve done more times than I care to admit.  I climbed into the back seat of our sedan and wedged myself between the two kids’ car seats.  I sat there for several minutes wiping up vomit and then, without thinking much, started to climb back into the front seat.  As I was making the climb, I had a brief inkling that I shouldn’t be doing this.  We were in weird fast but also start-stop traffic and it’s just really not a safe practice.  That inkling made me look up quickly right as I was standing on the divider between the two front seats.  When I looked up, I saw that we were speeding towards the brake lights of the car in front of us.  “Stop!!” I screamed to Hubby, and he slammed on the brakes.  And I flew through the air, face first into the windshield.

Time stood still for a few seconds as I peeled my body off the dashboard, crawled back into my seat, and put my seat belt on.  My whole forehead and nose were numb, and the bridge of my nose was stinging.  I looked up and realized with disgust that my face had put a huge spiderweb crack all over the right side of the windshield.  Holy shit.

Hubby was horrified.  “Oh my god, are you ok?”

“Um, I think so,” I stammered, blinking through the tears that were quickly falling down my face.  “Um, I don’t know, I think maybe I broke my nose.  And my forehead hurts.”  When we could, we pulled off at a gas station and Hubby examined me.  I had a split on the bridge of my nose that he said needed to be glued up — but not stitched.  He couldn’t say for sure whether my nose was broken, but it wasn’t disfigured.  There were no other cuts or notable symptoms, so Hubby (who I will remind you is an ER doctor) didn’t think I needed to go in to the hospital.

So we hit the road again and finished our ride home.  Hubby with his hands clenched tightly around the steering wheel, me obsessively pulling on the seat belt and engaging the automatic lock.  I honestly felt like there was some sort of Final Destination-esque plot on my life at this point.  I lowered my standards significantly and just hoped we would all make it home alive.

Well, after one final hiccup (K-Man pooped in his pants in the car again), we were finally home at about 9:00 p.m.  We went inside, and Hubby cleaned up my cut and glued it back together.  Somehow, magically, we convinced the kids to go to bed, even though they had been sitting all day and were operating on Pacific Time.  Hubby and I ordered a pizza, which I ate with difficulty since my nose was nice and swollen.

And then we went to bed.  And that was the very morbid end to my fucking trip to Oregon.

Thank you so much to all who indulged me and read through my entire 5-day bitch fest.  I really, truly, never want to leave the house again.

Until next time,

Vee


Post Scripts:

  1. I developed a really classy looking double black eye.  It was purple, and then it was purple and yellow, now it is a dull brown.  Nobody has dared ask me where it came from because it looks very sinister.
  2. Two days after we got back, K-Man woke up and promptly threw up all over me.  He would go on to be sick for a full three days.
  3. Three days after we got back, I learned that my beloved 92-year-old grandpa’s health is rapidly declining, and that my entire family is descending upon him in a month to spend some final moments with him.  So I have reluctantly purchased tickets for me and the kids to fly to Missouri — again, sans Hubby — in the middle of June.  Am I crazy?

 

 

Me and Snakes, Snakes and Me

Let’s go back to Arizona, circa 1996.

I was 10 or 11 years old.  My dad and I were away on a father-daughter backpacking trip somewhere in one of the numerous mountain ranges of Southern Arizona.  It was a warm night, so we slept in just our sleeping bags under the stars.  In the morning, we woke up and broke fast together on a big rock.

As we ate, our peaceful meal was suddenly less peaceful.  A loud bug — was it a grasshopper? a cricket? — started chirping annoyingly behind us.  Not so much chirping, more of a chicka chicka chicka.

What the fuck was that noise?  Finally my dad turned around to investigate the racket.  And he startled immediately.  “Shit, RUN!” He shouted as he jumped up and started sprinting away.  I looked back and, to my horror, saw the Western Diamondback rattle snake, coiled up in attack pose, rattling ferociously in my direction.  So yeah, I jumped up and started to run off towards my dad.  And immediately, I fell to my knees.  With my butt in the air, pointing right back at that venomous snake.  I somehow found the strength to lunge back up and keep running, reuniting with my dad about 100 feet away.

What happened next was a blur.  After a while, we must have found the courage to make our way back to our campsite.  We packed our things up and set out back to our car — but not before aggressively shaking the fuck out of our sleeping bags.  What on earth were we thinking, sleeping out in the open?

Every step on the trail back was torture.  Was there a snake waiting somewhere in the fringes, about to bust out and bite me?  What the fuck was that noise?  What the hell was moving under those leaves over there?

And even when we were back in our car and driving back towards home, I was haunted by what had happened.  I somehow convinced myself that maybe the rattler had bitten me while I was down, and that I just didn’t feel it yet because, you know, adrenaline.  I even pulled my pants down in the bathroom of a restaurant where we ate lunch, checking my ass out in the mirror to see if there were fang marks.  There weren’t.

Safe to say, the whole ordeal left me a little traumatized.  And that was just one episode in a whole childhood full of venomous snake encounters of one kind or another.

By the time I was a young adult, my fear of snakes had gotten a little out of hand.  I thought about it a lot.  I refused to go hiking.  I did anything to get out of yard work.  For my 22nd birthday, my parents took me to a dude ranch down near the border of Mexico.  I couldn’t enjoy a single horse ride, I spent the entire time scanning the surrounding landscape for snakes. Those little fuckers.

And then I moved away from the American Southwest, to colder climates, and snakes weren’t really a part of my life anymore.  And by that I just mean, I no longer had chance encounters with them.

That’s not to say I didn’t think about snakes from time to time.  Oh no, if ever I saw a snake on TV, that was almost certainly followed by a night chock full of vivid snake dreams.  The kind where you see a snake, and you kill it, and then you realize that your entire surroundings are actually covered in snakes and there’s no way out.  We’ve all had that dream, right?

So fast forward to yesterday.

There I was, playing innocently in my back yard with my two little kids.  We’ve lived in Upstate New York for almost a year now and I haven’t seen a single snake.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t kept a watchful eye on my surroundings at all times — I am traumatized, after all.

K-Man was playing in the grass by the raised deck, I was next to him, and Ell-Bell was on the other side of me.  Suddenly, I heard a very familiar rustling.  “Oh shit, what was that?” I said, as my eyes frantically scanned the darkness under the deck.  I didn’t have to look too hard.  Within a split second I saw it, the long, slithering body moving slowly about two feet away from K-Man.  My eyes followed the body up to it’s head, and I swear to god, the snake’s cold black eyes were staring right back at me.  Fucking taunting me.

“SHIT!” I said again, much louder this time.  I grabbed K-Man with two hands and basically threw him up on to the deck.  Ell-Bell followed.  I peered at the snake some more, noted it’s grey coloring and totally non-angular face.  Probably not venomous, but shit.  SHIT SHIT SHIT.

“Oh my god oh my god oh my god,” I muttered loudly as I paced back and forth.  And I’m not proud to admit it . . . I proceeded to lose my damned mind.  Like, I started bawling.  I ushered the kids in to the covered porch, bent over, and cried loudly into my hands.  Hyperventilating, heaving, the whole enchilada.

My two kids watched my little melt down bemusedly, until K-Man finally had the wherewithal to try and soothe me.  He hugged me and repeated, “it’s okay, don’t be sad.”

Through my violent tears I tried to explain to those poor sweet little children that I was okay, that snakes are really nice, but that mommy was just irrationally scared.  I’m sure they totally appreciated the distinction.

Eventually we went back into the house, and I put the kids down for nap/quiet time.  My heart continued to pound.  I didn’t trust any covered spaces.  I jumped when my watch buzzed.  When I went for a run on our treadmill in the basement, I watched the ceiling panel the whole time, just waiting for a snake to suddenly ease through and drop down on my head (as they do.)

Basically, I was a mess.  I still am a mess.  And I’m super embarrassed.  Embarrassed that I cried about a harmless garter snake in front of my children.  And maybe also my neighbors.  Embarrassed that I cried again as I re-told the story to my husband, hours later.  Embarrassed that I am too scared to go back in my yard again.  Embarrassed that I sent Hubby out to buy and plant marigolds with his only free hour of the day, because I read on the internet that maybe somehow marigolds keep the snakes away.

It’s time to move past this phobia, right?  Is there a way to do that without immersion therapy? Because I am 100% not doing that.

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

 

 

Hate is a Strong Word

Hate is a strong word.  A strong word, but the right word* to accurately describe how I am feeling about winter right now.  Fuck off, winter!

It’s our first cold season here in Upstate NY, and I knew it was going to be bad.  In fact, I expected it to be at least this bad. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still … bad.  We moved to the snowiest city in the U.S., and it’s living up to its name.  I mean, at the beginning of the year, we had a 66-hours-straight snowstorm that accumulated more than 20 inches of snow.  What? And that was just the worst in a month chock full of snow days.  After a December that broke some other snow records.

And all the snow, it’s not just crushing down on our sad little roof.  It’s also crushing down on my sad little soul.  Though I’ve lived in snowy places before (hello, university in eastern Canada), I’m realizing for the first time that the very sight of snow piles gives me significant anxiety.  When is it going to melt?  What if it never melts? What if the snow piles on the side of the driveway get so high that I can’t manually shovel anymore on top of them? What if we can’t leave the house?  After further introspection, I’ve decided that I have an unhealthy fear that we may be entering a new ice age.  You never know, right?

Winter with little kids is kind of the pits, too.  We’re trying to embrace it as best we can, but I really can’t take my little one-year-old munchkin outside much when we have things like 13-day streaks of sub-freezing temperatures (most of which are actually in the single digits – Fahrenheit).  And if you even know where to buy snow boots for size 4 toddler feet, let me know.  Because I have been unsuccessful on that front, and I’m not about to let Ell-Bell run around in the snow with just her cute little sneakers on.  She would totally do it, too.

I guess the real problem is that I’m totally over winter, but it’s nowhere near over.  The internet says it will snow here until at least April, but maybe as late as May.  Gag.  And we keep having these random warm stretches where the mountains of snow all but melt, and I’m like, yaaas, grass, there you are, I missed you! But sure enough, after a day or two, here comes another day with 5-8 inches of snow.  Can I just tell you how sick I am of spending my entire naptime break (what’s left of it, anyway) shoveling the freaking driveway?  My arms are so sore!

And I’m totally sorry for complaining so much about this, but I can’t whine to my husband about how much these winter months are getting me down.  He is the reason we moved here, and every time I so much as hint that I’m not loving all the cold and snow, he feels guilty AF.  So here you go, blog, have all my pent up frustration and disappointment about the fact that we basically live right below the Arctic Circle.

On the literal bright side, we do have a beach trip in our sights, a nice little something to look forward to.  We’re heading to sunny Mexico to see my dad in a few weeks.  Yaaaas.  Since there will still be more winter to come after that, I can’t exactly call the trip a light at the end of the tunnel.  But maybe it’s a little hole in the top of the tunnel, halfway through, letting a few rays in?

Until next time,

Vee

 

*Due credit to Boss Baby for that sentiment

The Kindness of Strangers: A Christmas Story

‘Tis the season of sugar highs, long lines, and–miraculously–somehow also the kindness of strangers.

Allow me to set the scene.  It was Christmas Eve Eve Eve (yes, that’s a thing).  The second of four days in a row that Hubby would be working leading up to Christmas Day.  And I had dragged the kids out in a nasty wintry mix so we could do some last minute shopping for Hubby at Barnes and Noble.

If you don’t know, Barnes and Noble is a fairly kid-friendly bookstore, with lots of toys for sale, and usually some kind of train table in the kid section for open play.  So I let the munchkins play with the train table for a while before picking up my gift for Hubby.

At one point, K-Man started to do the potty dance, and said he needed to pee.  So I picked up Ell-Bell, the diaper bag, all of our jackets, and marched him over to the bathroom on the other side of the store.  And when we got there, that little stinker refused to pee, said he didn’t need to go.  Ugh! So, we walked over to the toy section — again, with me juggling all the things — and played around for a bit.  K-Man could not move two feet without knocking a cascade of things off of the shelves.

I was starting to get kind of flustered, so I picked up Hubby’s present and started to wrangle the kids and our things so we could go check out.  Before we got very far, though, K-Man again announced that he had to pee.  Well duh!  Back to the bathroom we went.  After much coaxing, little man did his business and we went up front to pay for our things.

As it was Christmas Eve Eve Eve, there was a long-assed line.  And the line was littered with towers of things for sale, teetering precariously at every turn.  So stressful.  K-Man insisted on playing with a pile of Beanie Babies, dragging them all over the dirty floor despite my tired pleas.  Ell-Bell started losing her mind and didn’t want to be held anymore.  As I was trying to adjust her and the diaper bag and the jackets and the things I was buying, I managed to knock a few items off a display table.  Ugh.  “Gee, thanks for all your help,” I thought grumpily to myself, feeling the stares from other people in line as I picked up my mess.

Finally, finally, it was my turn to check out, so I dragged my brood of people and things up to the counter and started to exchange pleasantries with the clerk.  The lady behind me in line huffily rushed up next to me and waved one of the Beanie Babies in the air.  “Seriously?” I mumbled, thinking she was going to complain about how K-Man was playing with it.

And then the lady said, “Excuse me, I would like to buy this toy for her.”  And she gestured towards me.

Oops. I’m a terrible person.  I profusely thanked her, and she commented that she had five kids (wow), that she knows that some days are better than others, that it is the season of giving, etc.  And then she explained to the clerk that she was covering my whole purchase.  I tried to protest, because you guys, it was a $50 bill! A complete and total stranger wanted to buy me $50 worth of things because it’s Christmas and I was having a hard day!

I eventually let her go through with it, but I felt a little awkward and couldn’t thank her enough.  I was even moved to a few tears, which was super embarrassing.  (To be fair, I was pretty close to tears before the nice gesture…)

I was so overwhelmed with emotion, in fact, that I failed to realize that the clerk had rung up one of my items twice, thereby charging this kind lady an extra $15.  Oof, I really wish I had noticed that at the time!

As I drove home, I reflected on the kindness of a stranger, and how it had turned around my day.  This season is so beautiful to me.  I know I talk a lot about shopping and presents, but I really do love the less tangible facets of Christmas.  Kindness.  Giving.  Love.  Cheer.  I love how Christmas brings these emotions forward.

Christmas is picking up someone’s bill to brighten their day.

Christmas is humming carols out loud at the grocery store, smiling as you pass someone doing the same.

Christmas is my heart exploding as I watch my kids bathe together before bedtime, both silently sucking on their toothbrushes in unison.  Dorks.

Christmas is Hubby’s attending sending him home 4 hours early today so he could spend Christmas Eve with his children.

I know this time of year isn’t easy for everyone.  For some, Christmas is about longing for what they don’t yet have, or missing what they don’t have anymore.  For me, sometimes the holiday just highlights the loss I still feel so keenly for my own nuclear family, the one that crumbled when my parents divorced 7 years ago.

So if you’re not feeling all warm and cuddly and spirity this Christmas Eve, please accept my virtual hug.  And know that if I was behind you in line at Barnes and Noble, I would totally pick up your bill.

Merry Christmas to all.  Until next time,

Vee

Thursday Thoughts (on a Wednesday)

It’s Wednesday, and I’m having some thoughts.

Like, why does Hubby refuse to rinse out whatever bowl or cup he uses to scramble eggs in? Is it because he enjoys my gagging sounds when I’m loading the dishwasher?  Is there anything grosser than raw egg yolk dripping all over everything? *Vomit*

Also, why are the people waiting to use the family restroom I’m already using so impatient?  Do they not know what kinds of things go on in the family restroom?  Do their kids not need to take all manner of shoes and clothes off to go potty? Have they never changed a 20-wipe blowout? Do they think that trying the handle every 30 seconds is going to make my potty-training son poop any faster?

I’ve noticed that my kids have turned me into a human garbage disposal. They never finish any of their food and I ultimately end up playing clean up with my mouth.  Hey, it’s closer than the trash can.  (Floor noodles, anyone? No? Too far?)

Yesterday we had an epic snow here in Upstate New York and I felt like freaking Wonder Woman as I shoveled the driveway with two kids in tow.  I also felt like my neighbors were staring at me out their windows, thinking to themselves that I have no fucking clue what I am doing.  Maybe YouTube can teach me how to shovel snow?

Tomorrow, my in-laws are descending upon us for a few days.  You guys know how I feel about that.  I can’t wait to see what my Mother-in-Law got us all for Christmas this year.  We sent an Amazon Wish List for the kids that went completely unacknowledged, so I’m sure we totally won’t be disappointed or offended at all.  Blurgh.

The Star Wars release date is upon us, and the in-laws have volunteered to watch the munchkins so Hubby and I can have a day date and go see it.  I’m kind of a Star Wars poser, but I get excited because it is fun to see Hubby excited.  I will totally fall asleep halfway through the movie, for about 10 minutes, like I always do.  I will wake up to Hubby glaring at me over his popcorn, like I always do. Hopefully somewhere deep down, he thinks it is a little bit adorable?

Until next time,

Vee

 

#NaBloPoMo Day 26: We Made a Mistake

We are 26 days in to this NaBloPoMo November, and today’s theme is Dream House. Don’t miss yesterday’s post about my dream diet, the Whole30.  (Just kidding, if it was a dream it would permit deep fried peanut butter cups.)

I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret.  Something Hubby and I refuse to tell almost all of our friends and family members.  Here it is: we bought our current house sight unseen.

Go ahead. Go ahead and judge us hard.  It was a bold and mostly stupid move, but we felt pretty backed in to a corner.  When Hubby learned he had matched to a program in upstate NY, we had about four months to find a house, get approved for a mortgage, close on the house, and move ourselves and our two kids up from the DC metro area.  It was a pretty steep timeline, especially when you consider the fact that it takes an average of 60 days to close on a house in New York state.

Anyway, Hubby was still in school, I was working, we had two very young kids, and we were trying to navigate a 500-mile move.  To a market where flights were not cheap.  All to say, it was pretty hard to go house hunting.  Don’t get me wrong, we tried to do it right.  Hubby drove up for two days and saw maybe 10-15 houses, but they were all total non-starters.  Any house we were ever excited about was snatched up before Hubby could get up there to check it out. Ugh!

So when we saw what looked like the perfect house come on the market — in budget, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a lush backyard, beautifully finished, and a fricking Wegmans down the street — we decided to do something crazy and offer on it without first seeing it in person.  Thankfully our agent was game to go check it out for us, and she confirmed that it was a steal.  So we put in an offer the day it came on the market.  And so did 3 other people, yikes!  We subbed in another offer slightly above asking price, and our bid was ultimately selected.  Who knows what to believe, but our agent told us that all 4 offers were essentially for the same amount, and the owner chose us because she liked our family story. Aww! We never met her but I still feel like she must have been a sweetheart.

So after the offer and the passed inspection, we waited an excruciating two months before we could check out our house and see if our gamble paid off.  When the day finally arrived, we were giddy, and for good reason. The pictures had done the house justice, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Was this really our new home?  How could we be so lucky.

But as we walked around, we started to come to a sick realization. Cigarette smoke.  The cigarette smoke smell was unbelievably pervasive.  Oh shit.  Did we just make a huge mistake? It had naively never occurred to me that there could be a smell issue we were missing when we looked at the pictures.  And it wasn’t just a hint of something here and there, it was really bad.  The garage especially smelled like a human-sized cigarette had died in there.

So, we buckled down and did some research on how to eliminate smoke odors. We washed the walls with vinegar, we vacuumed the rugs with baking soda, we wiped down all the fixtures, we even bought an ozone machine to see if it would make any difference. Everything helped a little, but there was never an inexpensive silver bullet. So after a few months of “should we, shouldn’t we,” we bit the bullet and had our carpets changed. You’re welcome, Home Depot, for that generous donation.

Where are we now? We’re thinking changing the carpets did the trick, at least enough to live with. If things start to stink again and we have to shell out money to have the whole house repainted, I might die of a bad mood.

In the end, we know we did something risky and stupid. But we also think we probably would have bought the house even if we had smelled it in person, first. Because we’re cocky and we probably would have thought it was an easy fix. That’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night, anyway.

Is it our dream house? No.  But we weren’t looking for a dream house.  We’re here for three years, and just needed something to keep us warm.  And now that the smoke smell is gone, this house exceeds our expectations.  It may not be my textbook dream house, but owning a home is still a dream come true.

Until next time,

Vee