Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the joys of travel

We're back!

I am literally kissing the ground of my own home, with my own childproofing, and my own toys for Gabe, and my own gates, and my own television, and my own bed, and my own crib that is in a SEPARATE ROOM FROM WHERE I AM SLEEPING. Phew. I'm tired. It was a long and exhausting 10 days, that followed a long and exhausting preparation for the trip of 10 days. We had fun, despite the fact that it rained every single day we were in California. Every single day, except for yesterday morning, the day we left, when we woke up to sunny skies and 70 degree temperatures. Now of course, I'm back in Boston where it is snowy and freezing and I'm a little bitter about the fact that I didn't get even one 70 degree day to take my child to the park.

The week before we left, as you'll recall, I was having some trouble with the preparation part of the trip. I was overwhelmed and exhausted, and I assumed things wouldn't get any worse. Well.

How about a baby screaming and throwing up all. night. long. And when I say all night long, I mean ALL NIGHT LONG. From 12-4am, we had nonstop screaming with some vomiting intermingled. This wasn't just normal baby vomit either, this was grown-up adult, stinky, chunky, awful, had-to-be-scooped-off-of-the-mattress-and-the-baby, makes the mom gag, vomit. The night before you are supposed to leave on a trip to California.

During this nonstop screaming came the lowest point in my parenting thus far, when I became so angry at Gabe's behavior, what with the screaming and the throwing of objects and the demanding to be read to even though it was the middle of the night, that I had to place him in his crib and walk away, because I was THAT ANGRY. I sat him in his crib, screaming pile of goo, and then slammed the door to his bedroom before crawling into my bed and whimpering to Josh that I just couldn't take another minute of his screaming. I actually slammed the door to a 13 month old's bedroom, as if that would do anything to help, as if he even remotely understood what that meant. I sat in my room crying for 10 minutes, pulled myself together, and then went back to his bedroom to face more of the screaming once I was sure that I wasn't going to scream back. Unfortunately, Josh had already been up for hours with Gabe and I, but by 4am, we were looking at him having to go to work with less than 2 hours of sleep, so he couldn't just take over for me.

The screaming finally did stop, and I scheduled a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning, where the pediatrician confirmed that nothing was wrong with Gabe, except maybe for a random stomach virus. So we came home and packed some more. Gabe was beat from his night of no sleep and lots of screaming, so when he consented to taking his afternoon nap, I decided to avoid packing for just a little longer and take a hot, relaxing bath.

I've been using an all-natural bubble bath for Gabe that allegedly includes relaxing scents for less crankiness and whining and easier bedtimes. I figured, heck, I definitely need some of that crankiness correcting stuff, so I poured the bubble bath into the bathtub and settled in for some relaxation. After 20 minutes, I decided that I was ready to tackle the packing again. Shortly thereafter, I found myself feeling itchy. Then decidedly itchy. Then really tremendously itchy, including in places that you certainly don't want to be itchy. And then, because obviously this would happen to me, I realized that I am allergic to Gabe bubble bath and I was having an allergic reaction that including lots of itching in all kinds of unpleasant places. Because THAT is what you need when you are going to be flying across the country for 10 hours in just a few hours. Argh! I took some drugs, found some creams, and dealt with the itching as best I could.

I did do laundry, I did finish packing, I did get the dogs ready, I did get Gabe out the door. I did not clean the house, or get our nephew's package out the door, but Josh ended up begging me to please stop stressing about the house and leave it all for him, as all of you had recommended. So I made it to California, and I'd only forgotten a couple of useful things, like a thermometer, since Gabe ended up being totally sick in California.

He didn't throw up on the plane, thankfully, but he did throw up several times over the first few days we were in California. My parents had planned a trip to Monterey for all of us, and Gabe's sickness put a slight dent in our plans, but we powered on nonetheless. We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Gabe called every fish he saw there a "car" or more like "cahhhr ", such was his excitement at seeing these new creatures. We walked through Carmel, ate good food and played on the beach, even in the drizzle. We explored Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf, and visited the Monarch butterflies in Pacific Grove where they hibernate. We had fun, even with a runny nose and hacking cough.

We spent the rest of the week in Sacramento, where my parents live now, and relaxed at home while my mom worked, visited old friends, did some parentally funded shopping since I have no clothes that fit me, and spent quality time with the grandparents. Gabe got to really know my parents, got to give them tons of hugs and kisses, he even learned how to say "Nonna" and "Nonno", and if that doesn't make for a successful trip, then I don't know what does. It was a good trip, but I really am terribly relieved to be home. We missed Josh desperately, and I can't wait to settle back into the routine.

Now, on to the task of unpacking. Gabe wouldn't go to bed last night until 4am, he was just so excited to revisit all his toys and furniture, so we're pooped around here and hoping that tonight turns out to be an easier night for everyone. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

on the road again

This Thursday, as in 36 hours from now, I am off to California again. I am traveling with Gabe and the two dogs (as carry on), and I am unhappy to report that I am completely and utterly overwhelmed today.

These are the things I need to do:

1. Pack
2. Do laundry, so that I can pack
3. Pick clothes, so that I can pack
4. Buy diapers, to pack when I pack
5. Purchase, wrap, get card, and mail package to our nephew for his birthday- which is tomorrow
6. Get diaper bag prepared, including food and toys for the flight
7. Prepare dogs for trip
8. Go get vaccine certificate from veterinarian for dogs to travel
9. Write out Valentine's Day card for Josh since we'll be gone for Valentine's Day
10. Clean kitchen
11. Clean bathrooms
12. Vacuum whole house
13. Take care of my child who has refused to take a nap all day, doesn't want to eat anything, and prefers to whine continuously. all. day. long.
14. See #13 for why #1-12 have not been completed
15. Stress stress stress about all of the above and how I will possibly be able to get through the airport with a toddler and two dogs and a diaper bag
16. Get so stressed that I sit on the couch paralyzed into inaction
17. Call and vent to husband about list of to-dos and inability to do them
18. Call and vent to friends about list of to-dos and inability to do them
19. Drink a cup of Dr. Pepper to make myself feel better about the list of to-dos and inability to do them
20. Eat a cookie to make myself feel better about the list of to-dos and inability to do them
21. Cry a little about list of to-dos and inability to do them, and also cry a little about my fat ass and the fact that I just had Dr. Pepper and a cookie and no wonder I can't lose the last 5 pounds
22. Blog about the above

Needless to say, it has been a tough day around here. It is 6:45pm and I'm just now getting pushed into action. Josh is working late tonight and tomorrow night, so he isn't available to help, and my little compadre over here is very very grumpy due to the no nap situation. Improvement is not on the horizon. Anyone want to come over and pack for me? Or at least bring me more cookies?

Monday, February 11, 2008

earning my stripes, I guess

The other day at the gym, I'd dropped Gabe off in the daycare and gone off to do my speedy 30 minutes on the elliptical. I was 4 minutes in when all the fire alarms throughout the building went off in a screaming mess. It took me a few seconds to register what was happening, and to realize that while I was downstairs in the cardio room, Gabe was upstairs and across the building and I had no idea what the fire plan was in the daycare. Do they usher all the kids out? Are we supposed to come get them? What if I made it outside and discovered he was still inside?

I started pushing past the people working out to get to the stairs to go to the daycare. Meanwhile, a swim meet had been taking place in the pool area, so hundreds (it felt like) of kids in soaking wet bathing suits with towels around them and parents who'd been standing on the sidelines cheering came pouring out of the locker rooms and pool deck. I could barely move due to the crowd, much less move in the opposite direction of everyone else. I finally made it to the stairs, and found that getting up the stairs looked like an impossibility because all of the after school programs that take place upstairs were streaming down the stairs.

In that moment, even though logic told me this was likely a fire drill and not the real thing, my heart clenched and I thought for one terrifying moment that I might throw up from the very real fear overtaking me. The only thought flooding my brain was that my baby was upstairs and he was surely scared, and I didn't know how I would reach him. How would the daycare people be able to get multiple children out at once? How would they carry Gabe when he can't walk down stairs alone yet?

Those questions were enough to push me into action and I shoved my way up the stairs, fighting the crowd the whole way, who were all obviously anxious because it had been several minutes since the alarms started and we could hear the fire truck sirens arriving outside. I made it to the second floor and started jogging down the hall, and all the way at the opposite end, I saw one of the teenage daycare helpers following the crowd down the other stairway struggling to carry Gabe and another toddler while also helping preschoolers down the stairs. She glanced up and saw me running down the hall toward her and hesitated so that I could catch up. As I ran by the daycare room, I ducked my head inside and grabbed Gabe's coat, shoes and socks because she was carrying him without them.

I reached her and lifted him out of her arms and as he wrapped his arms tight around my neck and looked at me with the most serious look on his face, I felt the choke hold of fear begin to loosen itself. We made it outside into the freezing cold and rain, and I tugged his shoes and socks and jacket on while we waited to hear the verdict. All those poor children in wet swimsuits and towels were also outside, barefoot, with lifeguards passing out additional towels to wrap themselves up as best they could.

It was just a fire alarm, as we all knew it would be, but I have to tell you... In those moments, when I couldn't see how I would possibly reach Gabe through the crowd, and I didn't know whether he would be taken care of, I was more scared than I think I've ever been. It was panic, pure and simple. Unreasonable. Irrational. Panic.

I can't imagine how you feel when it is a true emergency and not just a drill. This must be what drives people to race into burning buildings and lift cars off of their children. This also teaches me a serious lesson. I'll never drop Gabe off anywhere without going through emergency procedures with them or at least asking basic safety questions. Just in case.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

rocking the toddler vote

Gabe and I walked to our polling location on Tuesday to cast our vote. We both walked, which was a notable occasion since those 3 blocks were the farthest Gabe has ever walked. It took 45 minutes, but still, it was exciting. He tried to go inside every house we passed, and if there happened to be people outside putting out trash or getting into their cars, well, that deserved 5 minutes of waving and yelling at them and waiting patiently until they left.

I'd come prepared with crackers in case the voting took too long for Gabe's patience, but the process took less than 5 minutes. I did notice, however, that when they looked up my address, Josh wasn't listed. At first I thought maybe it was because he categorizes himself as Independent, but that wasn't it because all parties were listed on the sheet. The polling people told me to have him come down that evening to sort it out and probably they could find him on the "Inactive" sheet and he'd still be able to vote.

Now, for the last month, Josh has been saying that he needs to sit down and review the candidates to better make a decision about who he'd like to vote for. In the meantime, I've done my own campaigning about who I think he should vote for, which isn't fair, but whatever. I'm pushy.

I called him at work after I voted to let him know about not being on the voting list, and he said he'd go down after work. Again, he casually mentioned that he needed to review the campaign websites to decide his vote, ON SUPER TUESDAY. So he's had months, and still hasn't decided.
Whatever, I just let the comment slide because I didn't want him to get annoyed with my harping.

I have a class on Tuesday nights, so when he got home, we airkissed as I ran out of the house. Josh loaded Gabe into the stroller, because another 3 block walk would have been too much and went to the polling location to straighten out the registered/not registered issue and vote.

When I returned that night, I harassed him about who he'd voted for, and he didn't want to tell me! I kept leaning on him and finally he admitted it. Who did he vote for?

HE ABSTAINED. Abstained! From voting! He went down there, registered himself, corrected the error, asked for a ballot, took it over to the voting booth, and then filled in the bubble that asked if you'd like to abstain! He says it doesn't really matter to him who wins, and that he didn't want to make an uneducated vote since he never had time to do the full research on the candidates.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to claw my eyes out. I'm letting it go, though, because if not, he'll never talk to me about politics again. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

taking a break from the breastfeeding and the gestating

I didn't even know this could happen to men. I've seen it happen to my female friends, I remember what it felt like when it happened to me, but I never expected this to happen. I've asked around, and I still haven't found anyone who has faced the same situation.

Josh has caught it. And he's caught it BAD.

He has the baby bug.

Josh has undertaken a serious campaign to convince me to have another baby, ASAP. This campaign started a little over a month ago, right around the time that Gabe turned one. Josh decided that he is ready to have another baby, and he won't take no for an answer.

He has tons of good reasons for it. He wants the kids to be close together in age in the hopes that they will be friends. He wants to make another that is as cute and amazing as Gabe is (as if that is even possible). He misses the baby baby stage. He doesn't want to be having babies for years and years on end (his words, not mine). Plus, he wants another baby. NOW. Just because he does. Is that clear?

I'm tempted, don't get me wrong. I miss the baby baby stage too, and I don't feel overwhelmed with Gabe, and I think that emotionally and physically, I could have another baby and be ecstatic about it. But here's the thing- I am LOVING being with Gabe right now. He is so much fun and so exciting and interesting and just delicious, and I want to eat him up. I am truly enjoying this period in his life, and I'm not ready to take away from that. Once I get pregnant, the pregnancy is going to take time away from him, what with the nausea and the vomiting and the general ickiness that I'm sure I'll feel, plus 9 months later, there will be another little human that wants to breastfeed 27 hours a day again and never wants to sleep and wants to take up every second of my time. I just stopped breastfeeding a month ago, I need a little bit of time to enjoy my there-is-no-person-relying-on-me-for-nourishment life!

On the other hand, there will be another glorious amazing little baby. And maybe having them closer together will make them closer friends. Maybe Gabe will be fine, maybe I will have an easier pregnancy, maybe it would be awesome, maybe I won't be burnt out with the nonstop breastfeeding and gestating.

I don't know, though. For now, I'm undecided, and trying to hold Josh off for a few more months at least. When I got pregnant with Gabe, I was ready to have a baby, like, yesterday. I wanted him so so so badly. I want that same excitement and anticipation for any future babies I am lucky enough to have. I think we should wait just a little bit longer. In the meantime, I'm keeping an eye on him. He better not start poking holes in condoms or anything crazy like that.

hot hot hot sex

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

I can't even make this stuff up

Josh and I are nosy people, and we especially LOVE to check out our neighbors' homes. So when Josh spotted an open house around the corner from us, we jumped on the opportunity to see what the house looked like from the inside. We were eager to examine the interior decorating style, plus we like to compare house details to see what we might be able to ask when we eventually sell this house.

The house, on the outside, was respectable. It had a nice entryway, nice details, good front lawn. The interior, on the other hand, was almost indescribable. You know in thriller movies, when the cops storm a hideaway for a criminal, the house always looks trashed and beat up? Well, then you've seen this house. The realtor greeted us at the door and began a quick speech, I suspect to distract us from looking around at the disaster too closely. He told us upfront that the house had fallen into disrepair because the owner had been hospitalized and there were tenants at will living there now. He also said that his estimates were that the house needed us to put in about 1 or 2. 1 or 2 what, you ask? HUNDRED THOUSAND. Clue #1 that the house wasn't for us.

We started our tour, and were stunned to find ourselves stepping over trash, dirty clothes and old dishes marked with chunks of forgotten food. The rooms were terribly cluttered, to the point that we could barely squeeze through the doorways because furniture was blocking them.
The bones of the house didn't seem to be terrible, and behind the mess I could see nice moldings and interesting architectural details, but it needed serious work. The kitchen was disgusting, and the hardwood floors looks damaged, where we could see the hardwood floor, that is. Clue #2.

We headed upstairs to look at the bedrooms, and were pleasantly surprised to find good sized rooms. They were a disaster, for sure, with piles of clothes and junk and beds unmade, but each room was a good size with a decent closet. I don't even want to talk about what the bathroom looked like, because really, I'm a little traumatized from it. But I haven't even gotten to the worst part of our tour yet. Clue #3, but trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet.

We headed to the final bedroom, a room at the back of the house, and walked all the way inside to see the closets and dimensions of the room. As we turned to walk back out, we discovered piles of syringes. SYRINGES. Needles. With caps on, but still, SYRINGES. Not just one, but a pile of them, inhabiting every available surface of the room. I turned to Josh in stunned silence, and he assured me, "it has to be for diabetes." But I ask you, when you find piles of syringes lying around in a room, would it assure you that it was probably diabetes? Because I have to say, it didn't make me feel better. I started having visions of finding an uncapped needle and getting accidentally stuck by one, as I shoved Josh down the hall and out the door. As we were walking toward the stairs, I realized that we'd missed looking at the hallway floor on the way in, where more needles littered the carpet. I feel sick just thinking about it.

We thanked the realtor and ran out the door as fast as we could, stuffing the house sale sheet into the first trash can we passed. The house wasn't all bad, it was a good size with a nice level yard and a large lot. The basement was finished, with a kitchen and bathroom downstairs that were basic, but reasonable. The price they were asking was crazy high, but they can't be serious about that considering the state of the house. And we aren't opposed to doing work on a house if the price was right- we did tons of cosmetic stuff to ours before we moved in. We love the neighborhood, of course, and we'd be thrilled to stay near this elementary school and our neighbors.

Beyond all that, though, I don't think I could shake the bad feeling I have in my stomach every time I remember what the house looked like. The dirt, the clothes, the trash, the syringes (!) and the general feeling of unhappiness and disrepair. I don't know if old houses have souls or what, but this one was sad, and I'd hate to move in and discover that the feeling went beyond the decoration. For now, we'll be sticking with our cluttered and small, but happy, colonial.