Tag Archives: travel

Last Hurrah! (for now)

14 Jan

Whine: I caught Lil’ Sis throwing a washcloth into the toilet. When I reprimanded her, she scampered away beyond the bathroom door, poked her around from the other side, then said “Bye!” as she shut the door and took off. There’s something to be said for a kid who knows how to make a quick getaway. 

Cheese: I bribed the children to help clean up the kitchen after dinner tonight. I can’t say it made the process any more efficient, but if I’m not raising them to be my own little labor force, then why am I having all these kids? Besides, there’s nothing quite so cute as the toddler who still thinks helping mommy “put away” the silverware is fun, little does she know it’s only the beginning of a lifetime of servitude.

Two months from now (give or take a few days depending on how big and/or stubborn this baby is, which, if his sisters are any indication will be VERY) my life as I currently know it is going to stop. My current existence of eating regular(ish) meals, sleeping most nights, and occasionally wearing something other than my gigantic grey sweatpants is going to look downright luxurious compared to what’s coming.

Upon realizing this, I did what any intelligent woman with a looming baby sentence would do. I went on vacation.

A very, very, very dear friend of mine* was kind enough to go ahead and diligently work for several years and get her Master’s just so she would have a reason to throw a big party just so I would have a reason to escape one last time before having my third baby. Pretty impressive planning on her part, I would say.

So anyway, this friend, let’s call her Kel, invited me to this FABulous party to celebrate her milestone, and being the loving, supportive and sacrificial friend that I am decided I would put aside all the very important toilet-retrieval and other sweatpant-related goings-on in my life and head out to Arizona for a weekend.

The day of the blessed vacation finally arrived and Mr. Dad and the kids dutifully shuttled me to the airport, terminal C, just like it said on my Itinerary.** I said my goodbyes. Lil’ Sis shed a few tears and Big Sis barely looked up from the cartoon she was watching on Mr. Dad’s cell phone to say goodbye. I gave Mr. Dad a big “I-can’t-believe-you’re-so-nice-to-let-me-leave-you-with-them” kiss and we went our separate ways.

As I headed inside, I checked my text messages only to discover that my flight would be departing from terminal A. In an airport like ours, getting yourself from one terminal to the next very quickly requires a passport and some bribe money, so I ran back to the curb in hopes that I could catch Mr. Dad before he got very far.

So then I’m running in high heeled boots, with no coat in the sub-freezing wind, pulling a pink polka-dotted suitcase and trying to call him on my cell phone. I can see the taillights getting farther and farther away. After six unsuccessful phone-call-while-running attempts, a few awkward almost-falls and the back end of the car disappearing around the corner, I decided to call one more time before giving up.

Finally my Knight answered and assured me he would be back around to retreive me in just a few minutes, which he was. On our journey to the other terminal I discovered that my many phone calls were unsuccessful because Big Sis was watching her cartoons on the phone and didn’t know (or did she?) about call waiting. But it was no matter at that point because I was getting to the right place after all.

Upon exiting the car a second time, I gave all the requisite kisses, and Lil’ Sis, like the sweet and appropriately-attached child she is, did her requisite crying. Not too much crying, but just enough to let me know that I am a valuable part of her daily life. Big Sis, again, barely acknowledged my exit.

But then, just as I was about to shut the door, she shouts urgently “Just a minute, Mommy! I need to tell you something!!”

I poke my head back in. “Yes?” I ask, waiting for her to melt my heart. “What is it?”

“Mommy,” she says, “don’t call again. I’m watching a movie.”

And with that, my trip began. At least I didn’t feel guilty for leaving her. . .

The trip itself was luxurious. Fantastic. Relaxing. Fun.

I met another very, very, very dear friend*** of mine at the airport, let’s call her Jo. We spent the whole flight catching up and making plans for the weekend. We arrived with no hassle, and I marvelled at the ease of this novelty called child-free travel. I realized it’s been a LONG TIME since I did that. I really should do it more often. But, I digress.

One of the reasons that I love these two very, very, very dear friends (besides the blackmail) is because I met them at the height of my nerdiness (freshman year of college, the year the oversized flannel shirt met the permed hair and fluffy bangs) and not only did they NOT turn and run the other way, they embraced my nerdy ways, possibly because they are also nerds. Our nerdy fun back then included, but was not limited to, Michael W. Smith sing-alongs, dressing up in various costumes for no reason and cavorting through the dorm, and kidnapping other people’s action figures and holding them for ransom (hey, we weren’t allowed to drink or dance or even buy lottery tickets, don’t blame us).

So if nerdiness is one of our common bonds, I am sure that they will appreciate the fact that I took the liberty of illustrating our time together in the form of a pie chart.

If you knew how long I spent making this, you would laugh at me.

But although I am a NERD of the highest order (see above), I am not equally gifted in all areas of nerdiness. I am generally lacking in Technology category (see above). If you wish to view the pie chart in all it’s glory, just give it a click and take it all in.

Basically, what the chart so neatly illustrates is that we haven’t changed much at all. We like to eat, sleep, shop and waste vast amounts of time doing stupid things. But most of all, we like to talk. We spent an entire day’s worth of hours just talking. Some of it was very deeply impacting, particularly the part about how addictive my chocolate chex mix was (covered in powdered sugar, how’d I get that through airport security?). But most of it was just about life. About jobs, families, being codependent with your dvr, etc. . . And that’s really why we’re friends. Because in the end, your friends are the ones who are willing to talk about the pros and cons of expensive high-heeled boots because it matters to you. (And because they might want to borrow them sometime.)

So thanks for a great weekend girls! Thanks for giving the bed to the pregnant girl. Thanks for making a list of all the Important! Things! we would do, then checking them off one by one, like any proper Type A. Thanks for letting me take a break from Mommyhood and rest up before this next stage of my life begins. And thanks for breaking bread with me over a table full of shrimp and shrimp-related items.  But most of all, thanks for liking me the way I am, pie charts and all.

Hopefully this makes up for all those other photos of us. . .

*By very, very, very dear I mean she has photos of me from college which would show me in many comprimising fashion/hair positions.

**When I say Itinerary, I don’t mean the thing you print out with your tickets. I mean the thing that Jo makes with each and every detail of the trip. You know, like contact info, addresses, gates and times for all travelers, etc. But then she also includes the a chart with the weather, a title for the weekend, a cute picture pasted on top and a google map of all relevant locations. Speaking of nerds. . .

***Yeah, she’s got photos, too.

Crabby Cat

3 Dec

Whine: If you purchase your apple juice by the gallon, be advised that the ‘rule of halves’ will be at play when it spills itself all over your kitchen floor. I’d stick with juice boxes if I were you, three ounces cleans up a lot faster.

Cheese: I just heated some tea using the “beverage” sensor on my microwave. And not because it’s the only button working. My new microwave has LOTS of buttons that work. I’m so excited, I’d even reheat your leftovers.

I met someone new last week. She made her appearance around hour six of our ten-hour trip home from Kansas City. Big Sis, worn out from landing on “Pukey Fever” on our family’s game of Wheel of Misfortune: Virus Edition was conked out in her car seat. Lil’ Sis, however, figured out that by puking twenty minutes into the trip on the way to KC,  Mommy and Daddy would henceforth respond to her every whine and groan, with offers of juice and pacifiers and goldfish and endless renditions of Wheels on the Bus for the remainder of the trip. And in record time. So she commenced whining and groaning. A lot.

Then, she started babble-yelling something new. It took us a few minutes to translate. And then we cracked the code. She was yelling, “Crabby, crabby, crabby, crabby!” Which, if we had been irritated by her constant whining and complaining (but we are loving, long-suffering parents so of course we were not) but if we had  been irritated, would have wiped away every last shred of annoyance.

And then she said, “Crabby cat. MEOW!!!”

And that meow, that snottiest, most irritated meow, full of crankiness and a flair for the dramatic, pretty much said it all.

Sometimes (very rarely, but sometimes) I am a crabby cat. Like when I can’t figure out what to have for lunch because my microwave is broken and I hate sandwiches and my soup pan is dirty. Or when my shoes stick to my kitchen floor because it has been expertly cleaned with apple juice. Or when I’m just about to fall asleep after an exhausting day and I can hear someone in the other room who apparently is not just about to fall asleep and is instead in the crib she outgrew two years ago, waking up her sister.

But I’d like to think that by the time those crabby cat moments end up on this little blog, most of the actual griping and unpleasantness has given way to good humor and amused nonchalance.

On the other hand, I’d hate to come here and post my crabby cat moments, complete with funny anecdotes and rim shots, and leave you with the impression that I am actually that laid back. I’m not. Most of the moments you read about here (especially the ones that involve someone throwing up) are initially met with panic, disgust, rage and irrational crying.  Fortunately for me (and you, too) this blog is not written in real time, so there’s lots of time to get some perspective on the situation. And by perspective I mean a new microwave, a Swiffer Wet Jet and a nap.

Is this Lil' Sis? Or her alter ego Crabby Cat?

The Turkey IS a funny bird. . .

26 Nov

Whine: Sorry, too full of pie  for any whine today.

Cheese: No, really, I’m too full for any cheese either. There were actually fourteen pies at dinner tonight. I’m ashamed to say I only managed to sample four of them. In my defense, two of them were gone before I even had a chance. What can I say, these guys eat like a pack of wolves (my husband’s side of the family, of course.)

About a week before Thanksgiving last year Big Sis’ three-year old preschool class hosted a Thanksgiving feast. We walked in to find a handsome table, that they had set themselves: forks on the left, spoons on the right (no knives, of course, they’re only three for heaven’s sakes) sitting atop little homemade placemats and turkeys. Being a first-time preschool parent, my eyes welled up a little to think that my BABY was setting a table. Those sentimental tears transitioned almost immediately into ones induced from giggles as they performed their Thanksgiving song in tradtional mumble-sing, stare-at-the-ceiling toddler style:

The turkey is a funny bird

His head goes wobble-wobble

He just knows one funny word

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Speaking of those funny birds, I like them soaked in a mysteriously tasty brine and roasted until they’re juuuuust right.  And then I like to keep them company on my plate with overly-sweetened sweet potatoes, stuffing whose butter-to-bread ratio is roughly 50/50, a healthy portion of just-like-my-momma-makes sour-cream mashed potatoes, and most importantly, a  special helping of the Thanksgiving classic, the “I’ll-kill-you-if-you-eat-the-last-of-it” green bean casserole. (You gotta stand your ground when you’re surrounded by wolves. Wolves, I tell you, wolves.)

I was going to tell you this long story about how our culture has ended up calling boy turkeys “Toms” that I heard on the radio on my ten-hour traffic vomit whiny baby road trip to Kansas City. How it all started because Ben Franklin was mad at Thomas Jefferson, etc, etc, etc. But then, because here at Whine and Cheese we value the whole truth and nothing but the truth and we never exaggerate or anything, I googled it. Turns out it’s probably not true at all. But still, I can’t complain, it passed at least three of the six hundred minutes I spent in what felt like a very small car with what felt like very loud and irritated birds in the back seat.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dad is driving contentedly along. Why? You ask. Was it because he is just that zen and can tune out the whole back seat? No, though he is very zen. Was it because he loves driving that much that he didn’t care about the Antsy Pantsies constant demands? No, though he does love driving. A lot. Was it because he brought along his industrial-quality noise-reduction headphones and piped Johnny Cash in from his blackberry? Yes, that is exactly why.

After a few hours of driving in this most inequitable situation (he says it was only an hour, but time flies when you are not wishing you could rid yourself of the gift of hearing) I ripped the headphones from his head, tuned into some Tim McGraw and immediately felt my blood pressure drop from “I hate this whole stupid road trip idea” to ” why this isn’t so bad.” I could see him dealing with the demands from the backseat as I blissfully tuned them out. Which, since he was driving may not have been our safest bet, but then, hey WELCOME TO MY WORLD, MR. DAD.

But we arrived safe and sound last night to find many, many excited relatives jockeying for position at the front door as we clambered up the walk. I’m surprised nobody got hurt, really. There was actual pushing and shoving. And this morning, certain other relatives, after staying up waaaayyyy past their bedtimes chatting, got up with my kids. So I could sleep. And that is one the nicest gift I’ve ever received. We had our traditional Thanksgiving church service this morning. And this family, though we all just cram into the living room, is bigger than some actual churches. The little girls sang the aptly titled “Make a Joyful Noise” with a little bit of bicycle horn, tambourine and harmonica. (Sound familiar?) But mostly cowbell. Lots and lots of cowbell. Which is a good thing, cause I had a fever. And the only prescription was more cowbell.

This was a good day. A very good day. Full of family, food, naps (for the kids) and football. And although Thanksgiving is about all those things, it’s about a lot more too. It’s really about attitude. About being able to find something to be thankful for even when you kinda just think everything stinks, like the vomit-covered car seat positioned directly behind you. About listening to a cowbell symphony and thinking it’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard. And about tasting everyone’s pie and telling them how insanely delicious it was, even if you they may have burned the crust just a little.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, I hope you can find lots of little somethings to be thankful for today!

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane. Never Again.

26 Oct

Whine: I got myself whipped up into such a cleaning frenzy today that I cleaned the girls’ toy kitchen. Oh yeah, and I pulled a muscle (or two) in my glutes. Now that is some SERIOUS cleaning.

Cheese: Our actual kitchen is still a disaster. Spaghetti and a one-year-old anyone?

 

Well, I foolishly promised a post today. And technically, it is still Monday, even on the east coast (barely). But I wanted to share my latest travel adventure with you, as my own personal Aesop’s Fable. You know, the made up stories that show how the character with the tragic flaw inevitably meets his/her doom because of it? Yeah, like that. Only this is my real life and not a made up cautionary tale.

Travelling alone with my two small children (and the one inside of me who always seems to be throwing some sort of party–or temper tantrum–I’m not sure) seemed a like a daunting task even to me, the often over-optimistic one (see? my tragic flaw). But when the siren song of my alma mater, Wheaton College, called me back for a ten-year reunion, I couldn’t resist. Being on campus with almost all of my old roommates and reliving the glory days of our hysterical lameness was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So I packed up our bags, weighed them on the scale to make sure we made the weight cut off (we didn’t), took some junk out, weighed them again and rushed us all to the airport. And actually it wasn’t so bad. They let me cut in the security line and Big Sis was the model helper throughout the whole take-your-baby’s-shoes-off-because-she-might-be-a-terrorist thing. We got on both our flights with relative ease and arrived with our chariot (aka Katie and Eric) awaiting us at baggage claim. It was so uneventful I even had the foolish nerve to say, “See, that wasn’t so bad.”

Famous last words.

Our time in Wheaton was lovely. Except for the part Chloe where started puking and infecting everyone’s kids with some weird virus. But, you know, kids puke, you move on. I got to see some of my old professors (who remembered me, or more accurately, my penchant for dramatic breakdowns.) I got to show Sophie the campus and try to counteract some of the constant Baylor/TCU indoctrination that goes on around here. And mostly I got to hang out with my friends, people who have known me since I had a perm and tight-rolled my jeans and still like me. We mostly just sat around and talked over really delicious Chicago-style pizza. Life. Theology. Books. Movies. Old Times. New Laughs. It was a good fabulous weekend.

Until the trip home.

I should’ve known it would be a disaster because we were on time to the airport. That was the last good thing that happened that day. Our initial flight was delayed an hour. Which, of course, meant that we would miss our connecting flight. After getting off the first flight (from the very last row, thank you very much) we “ran” (me with a loaded stroller and Big Sis wandering aimlessly staring up at the ceiling) to the opposite end of another terminal and caught another connecting flight just in time. The plane for that flight was tiny and apparently tiny planes shake and shudder every time a bird flies by. There were lots of birds flying by that day. I thought we were going down for sure. Although my lunch certainly was not. Finally, having narrowly escaped death in a tin can, we arrive to find Mr. Dad. But no luggage. Of course.

But at least the end was in sight. Right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

No, Mr. Dad, in a rare show of airheadedness (that’s my department, Mr!) had locked his keys in the car. We spent another FOUR HOURS at the airport. Two of which were spent with Mr. Dad trying to open it himself, ala Man vs. Machine. I imagined him out there trying to wrestle it into submission. But we apparently found the one thing he can’t fix, so we waited another two hours for the locksmith. Meanwhile certain children were having intestinal issues (tiny planes, anyone?) and the ariport Chili’s was out of corndogs. I mean, can you believe our luck??

After a twelve-hour travel day, we made it home and into our beds. It took me a week to recover from the trip. So like any good character in a cautionary tale, I can say: lesson learned. Period.  And next time my buddies beckon with offers of deep-dish pizza and a trip back to old times, I am definitely going to say that I can’t go.

Maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding, I would do it all again tomorrow, wouldn’t I? Make that lesson unlearned. I’ll save the fables for Aesop.

Plane ride to Chicago

Flight to Chicago, pre-misery. Well, mostly.