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  • And Then There Was Lots Of Laundry

    August 25, 2008

    So then, yes, most of you were right – we were in California.

    We started out in the San Diego area for the tall ships festival, then we went to the Zoo and then the Wildlife Park.  And this little four-year-old boy went ninety to nothing all day long, from early in the morning until well past bedtime the entire time and remained remarkably cheerful.  Everything thrilled and delighted him and that makes for a good travel companion.

    After that we headed up to Los Angeles to see Cousins Tim and Judy who co-taught kindergarten for 28 years before retiring a few years ago, so that was like Disney World + grandparents + gummy bears with whip cream and a ferris wheel all rolled into one.  The boy has all but OD’d on good times in the past week.

    Yesterday we took in the Getty Museum which is just an amazing way to spend the day – fabulous art, incredible gardens and lots of kid friendly activities.  I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

    Here’s a picture of my fellow traveler having lunch at the Getty.

    We’ve covered not putting your elbows on the table, but not the part about keeping cutlery off your face.  Nonetheless, I was amused because I’m juvenile.

    Kansas City Here I Come

    June 26, 2006

    Last Saturday, I took my first solo trip away from Sean. I took a day trip to Kansas City to have lunch with some blogging buddies.

    I had been looking forward to it for more than a month. I looked forward to getting away on my own for the first time in a more than a decade and I looked forward to meeting people I only knew through the computer. I wondered if it would be like Christmas. Would all the anticipation and excitement and curiosity of what was hidden be disappointing when all was revealed? It seemed like Saturday would never come and then suddenly it was here. When it was time to kiss my baby goodbye at the curb, my intestines were busy learning macramé.

    Off and on over the course of the preceding week, I previewed and prepared Sean for Saturday morning, as the experts who write books tell you to do. I told him that on Saturday I would be taking an airplane ride but that I would be back by the end of the day. I reminded him that he would have daddy all day to himself and that they would do fun things like go to PetCo.

    As Saturday approached, he said to me out of the blue: “Mommy, I don’t want you go on an airplane. That scare me.” I couldn’t think of a single thing that would have prompted this remark, so I asked him what it was that scared him. “I don’t want the airplane to tip over,” he said solemnly. I reassured him the plane was not going to tip over and that he need not worry about it. I told him that Uncle Dick has been flying airplanes for thirty years and never once tipped one over. That seemed to set his mind at ease or maybe he just kept it to himself. I worry that that it was the latter.

    I got out of the car and opened the door to the backseat to give him a kiss goodbye. I looked at him sitting in the backseat of the car, still in his baseball pajamas, still sleepy, still so little. Tears stung my eyes. Bye Sweet Potato!” I said to him tipping his chin up with my thumb. I sounded falsely happy. I looked deep into his eyes. “I’ll see you later today, ” I promised. “You be a good boy for daddy.” I kissed his nose.

    “Bye Mommy” he said, rubbing his eyes. Then he gave me a smile and waved at me by scrunching his fingers in and out as though he were working dough. “Dear God,” I whispered to myself, “Don’t let the plane tip over.”

    It turned out that Saturday was the best Christmas ever. I got more than I ever imagined and it was better than I could have imagined. I will write about the wonderful ladies I met in the coming week when I have time and can do it justice. (In the meantime, Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer has a well written summary and pictures too!)

    When Sean and Antique Daddy picked me up at the airport that evening, my heart was full. It had been a very good day. Any day you make sixteen new friends is a good day. And now I was home. I opened the car door and kissed my boy. He was exactly where I had left him. “Mommy!” he said, “I look for you but I not see you today.” He had missed me.

    Thank you God, I whispered to myself. Thank you for this boy, my husband, my sixteen new friends and not letting the plane tip over.

    Beach Vacation

    October 21, 2005

    “Vacation” and “toddler” cannot be used truthfully in the same sentence. You may be on a trip with a toddler, and you may even enjoy your trip, but you are definitely not on a vacation. You may even take a trip without your toddler, but you are still not on vacation. Once you have a child, you are never again on carefree vacation.

    Until last month, we had not taken a real vacation since before May of 2003 when I found out I was pregnant. At the time we were holding American Airlines “non-refundable, non-transferable, we-got-your-money-and-there’s-nothing-you-can-do-about-it-nannah-nannah-boo-boo” tickets, which by the way, is actually in very small print on the back. My obstetrician forbid any travel of any kind — no planes, no trains, no automobiles. Sure we have traveled since Sean was born, and as I said, vacation and toddler are by their very nature, mutually exclusive concepts, sort of like science and religion; sure you can put them together but never in a way that makes sense.

    Before Sean came along, Antique Daddy and I used to take a lot of vacations. Those were the days of abundant sleep, free time, and brain cells. That was before our thinking, vocabulary and budget revolved around all things “diaper”. One of the things we really enjoyed was hiking in national parks, especially Yosemite. Waterfalls, canyons, rapids, bears, national park hotdogs – nothing could deter us being the risk-taking thrill seekers that we are, uh, were. These days a risky thrill is letting the boy run around the house after a bath au naturel or as we say here in Texas, nekkid. The hard part of planning a vacation in those pre-diaper days was narrowing down the many exciting possibilities.

    Now vacations are a different sort of experience. First of all, the list of things you can do — or I should say, would be willing to do — with a toddler is much smaller. After reviewing our list of one option, we settled on a beach vacation. We figured after Katrina, how much damage could a 2-year-old do to the Gulf Coast? And even better, we managed to get another family to go along with us, with the idea that Sean might enjoy playing with someone under 45.

    As a couple, travel was a simple affair. We each packed one bag and one carry-on and that was that. But the boy requires more. The boy requires a staff that includes baggage handlers. After packing a U-Haul with a full pediatric pharmacy, nursery and life-time supply of diapers, wipes, creams and more diapers (pull-ups, pull-downs, over nighters, swimmers, convertibles, some that even change colors), Pack-n-Play, car seat, toys, umbrella stroller, clothes, books, blankets and food we headed for the airport and made our way to the Sunshine State.

    Once we arrived at our lovely condo, we couldn’t wait to take Sean to the beach to see the ocean. We spent an hour lathering up our fair-haired boy with SPF 4000 and loading daddy up like a pack mule with all the beach gear. As we made our way toward the beach, I was recalling photos tucked into Christmas cards that friends had sent of their children enjoying their beach vacation – happy little children in teeny tiny swimming suits, wearing funny little sunglasses and hats, playing in the sand with brightly colored buckets and shovels. I was already composing our Christmas letter in my mind detailing our fun beach vacation when we finally stepped foot on the sugar white beach of Destin, Florida.

    Was that the screeching call of a lonely sea gull that I heard over the mighty roar of the ocean? No. It was my son screaming in terror. “Pick up! Pick up!” (translation: Pick me up! NOW!) Like some psychotic crab, he clawed himself half way up my legs before sliding down to my ankles in a sad little foamy slather of SPF 4000 taking a portion of my swimsuit with him. Using a mountain climber’s grip on my C-section scar, he climbed his way up my torso using my breasts as footholds until he made it to the top of my head. I was just glad he didn’t have a flag to plant. Holding on to my eye sockets for dear life, he lodged his bony little knee firmly in my solar plexis and screamed “Ho! Ho! Ho!” (translation: Home! Home! Home!).

    Not exactly the pose I had in mind for our Christmas card.

    Toddler Travel Tales, Part II

    September 11, 2005

    In part two, of Toddler Travel Tales, it turns out the actual traveling part of our recent trip was the easy part — especially in comparison with the staying in a hotel part. To say that we “slept” in a hotel room with our son would be a gross overstatement since in the four nights we were there, no actual sleeping occurred.

    Here are some fun hotel facts that you may not know:

    • The curtains at the Marriott can hold up to 25 lbs.
    • Cell phones do not flush, but they do float – for a few seconds.
    • The contents of a mini-bar cost around $300.
    • The receiver of the wall phone in the hotel bathroom can reach the toilet bowl.
    • The bottle opener on the sink can be used for many things including opening a remote control.
    • Hotel table lamps do not make good kites.
    • Hotel dresser drawers eventually leak when filled with shampoo.
    • Every breakable item in a hotel room will fit on top of the armoire if stacked properly.
    • A toddler standing on the desk can reach the top of the armoire.

    Being the modern mother that I am, the safety of my child is my first concern. Anticipating that the hotel room would not be child proofed, I packed plastic outlet covers and immediately covered all the electrical outlets as soon as I got in the room. Then I immediately picked them out of the waste can, toilet, suitcases, mini-bar, dresser drawers and window ledge where Sean put them after he picked them out of the outlets.

    I really didn’t anticipate that staying in a hotel room with our little boy would be so exhausting. I thought that most of the time we were in the room that we would be sleeping. Isn’t that funny?! I thought we would be sleeping! In a hotel room! Bwaaah! We even ordered a crib to our room so Sean would have a little bed just like at home. We placed it right next to our bed so that he would feel secure. We put him in it with Mr. Monkey and his special blanket. We sang to him and tucked him in, just like at home. Then he stood up and shook the bed like an agitated ape and screamed until our ears bled and the neighbor’s ears bled and they had no other choice but to bang on the wall and beg for mercy, crying, “Please, for the love all that is good and holy, LET HIM OUT!” So we did. We put him in between the two us where he spent the remainder of the night practicing pro-wrestling moves including an impromptu body-slam at 2am.

    Another fun hotel fact: This is why hotel windows don’t open.

    Toddler Travel Tales, Part I

    September 10, 2005

    Earlier this summer, we took our first airplane trip with our toddler and it went a lot better than I expected. In spite of the discomfort and delays, more commonly called “air travel” nothing happened that involved mopping up and/or paying for the dry cleaning of a person heretofore unknown. So that was good. I was dreading taking him on the plane because I have been on airplanes with toddlers before and by comparison it makes poking my eyeballs with toothpicks seem like fun. Which is why the flight attendants don’t hand out toothpicks.

    On our return trip, we had to wait out on the tarmac on a packed plane for nearly an hour on a 90-degree day with almost no air conditioning. The A/C vents were operating full out at the speed of a pinwheel and doing double duty as cheap blower dryers. But that didn’t stop me from checking the little twisty knob every 10 seconds to see if it was working. We sat on the tarmac not only before leaving St. Louis but also when we arrived in Dallas, still with no A/C, thus making an hour and 45-minute flight a 5-hour trip to hell, only warmer. The only difference is that when hell is your final desAMtion, you don’t have to go back to the hellport the next day to find your luggage.

    You might think sitting in a sweltering metal tube with 100 or so hygiene-challenged individuals for five hours would make a little boy cranky. No. The boy was having the time of his life. The grown-ups were whispering mutiny, but Sean was in tactile heaven. For him, there were so many things to touch and so precious little time. Plus, he had a captive planeload of people who needed entertainment, and who was he to deny his public? Here are some of the highlights from Sean’s airplane activities:

    • Push Call button. Daddy waves off flight attendant.
    • Play peek-a-boo with elderly couple in row behind us.
    • Do impression of a lion for everyone who walks by.
    • Crawl under seat. Look through elderly lady’s purse. Try on elderly lady’s lipstick. Get stuck under seat.
    • Push Call button. Daddy smiles and mouths the word ‘sorry’ to the ill-humored flight attendant now looking at us through little slits in her eyes.
    • Rearrange the comb-over hairdo of the man sleeping in seat in front of us.
    • Turn light on. Turn light off. Turn light on. Turn light off. Turn…
    • Play peek-a-boo with a friendly lady across the aisle. Offer her remainder of mushy half-chewed pretzel. She declines. Lift shirt and show belly button.
    • Shred the in-flight magazine. Use as confetti.
    • Put tray up. Put tray down. Put tray up. Put tray…
    • Drop goldfish crackers in the drink of the guy sitting in the next seat. Steal his pretzels.
    • Feel up the flight attendant’s leg as she leans over across the aisle to set a drink down and then squeal “ooooo-wee!” Flight attendant not amused.
    • Dunk hand in a glass of Coke on the service cart. Wipe hand on flight attendant’s butt. Act innocent when she gives Daddy a dirty look.
    • Take shoe off. Throw shoe into first class. First class flight attendant returns shoe even though Mommy and Daddy avoid eye contact.
    • Put armrest down. Put armrest up. Put armrest down. Put armrest up. Put armrest…
    • Start over.

    And that was just the first 20 minutes.