Monday, December 15, 2014

Happiest (Crappiest) Place on Earth

Last week we went to a family Christmas function in Florida, and we left a day early for a one day jaunt at the Magic Kingdom.

We left early Wednesday morning, drove for 100 hours, and arrived at the Disney resort by 4pm. The Husband and my dad went to check us in while I waited in the car with the kids. My dad came back. My husband did not. We texted back and forth about a confirmation number, which we did not have. I called Orbitz and talked to a non-English speaker who said there was no record of our reservation. Our reservation which we got on black Friday for $100 off.  And not only could we not take advantage of that deal anymore, the regular price had gone up too. What a great way to start the trip. But at least there were rooms available, so we were able to stay. We checked into a little Little Mermaid room. It was very.....Little Mermaid. 

                                                                 You might miss The Boy in this pic

Y'all, this was the shower.  I expected to find a dinglehopper for the faucet but did not. 

We went to Downtown Disney for dinner. We ate in a rainforest like good little tourists and came back to the hotel. We told The Boy to go to sleep. He did not. Beyoyo has a cough, so we gave him an albuterol breathing treatment.  The Boy finally went to sleep, just as Beyoyo coughed so hard that he projectile vomitted.  All over our bed. The Husband called me to help, so I got him and held him at arm's length while I looked for something to clean him with. Then he started vomitting again. I held him out like a fire hose. We cleaned up and called for new sheets. My sister came in from the other room and asked if I wanted to sleep in one of her extra t-shirts. She pointed out that my pajamas had vomit on them. Winning. I put her t-shirt on and pulled it up to my neck so that I could pump some breast milk. So, no pants. Shirt around my neck, pumping breast milk while smelling like vomit on the floor in a Little Mermaid room that we were lucky to get. In hindsight I wonder if the first Christmas was anything like this. Stinky, cramped, crowded in a room you had no reservation for ans wasn't quite what you'd expected. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! 

Next I spilt the pumped breast milk in the hotel sink. I cursed. I was mad at the hotel, Orbitz, The Husband, and Walt Disney himself. It was actually none of their faults.  My sister was lying in the bed with The Boy. I knelt down and got in her face without warning and said "birth control!" because 20 year olds love that almost as much as they love sleeping with 3 year olds. "Tell me about it" she said, laughing through her jealousy at how glamorous my life is. 

The next day we went to Disney and it was great. The Boy rode rides like a boss. We saw a parade. He met THE REAL Woody and Jessie, which is a BFD when you're three. 

             Beyoyo was like "hey, I'll be over here not remembering any of this if you need me."

We got to meet Cinderella and both boys kissed her hand. She asked them to, if you were wondering about consent.

It was a great day. We closed the place down and headed an hour away for the family weekend. 
We stay at a fish camp. Some stay in houses, we stay in a hotel. The hotel caters to the fishing crowd and their website boasts amenities like large parking spots for your boat, as well Except it was a lie because the ice machine was broken. And I went outside at 9pm and told some hooligan teenagers to please look for Garrigan somewhere else because they'd woken up my baby. Keepin it classy. 

So we cozied in for the family weekend. What fun! People started getting there late Friday night. Saturday morning we woke up and gave everyone the stomach virus. I thought it was something I ate so I went over to the house and exposed everyone. Next the husband fell victim and joined me in quarantine at the hotel. Thankfully my dad, sister, and stepmom were still okay so they looked after our boys. I told The Husband it would've been a nice little movie watching weekend cuddled up in bed if not for the vomitting and nausea. We missed the big redneck family Christmas party, where The Husband, Beyoyo, The Boy and I were all going to wear matching tuxedo t-shirts.  But alas, they returned the children to us just in time to get fall victims themselves. People were throwing up in toilets and sinks. Also, The Boy's pullup leaked and wet the bed and we had to request new bedding. We had now thrown up and peed in two sets of sheets in two hotels in two towns in one weekend. It was the worst. No wonder this hotel catered to fishermen and not families. 

Dear Housekeepers at the Liars Lodge, sorry 'bout that. 

Sunday it was time to come home. Except 1/2 the traveling party didn't feel like traveling. We waited a little while but no one seemed to be improving and the sick really wanted to be sick at home, so we packed up some trash bags and hit the road. My sister was in the car with us, vomitting. And the baby blew out his diaper and pooped us his back. And I had a zit (am I 15?) that popped and wouldn't stop bleeding. Luckily The Husband and I were greatly improved, but it's safe to say when we stopped for lunch no one had much of an appetite.  

The other car slept much of the way home, and thankfully our car slept a good bit too. After nap we stopped at a truck stop for a snack. The boys wanted to get their grandmother a diamond, and I obliged. After all, she did keep Prissy for us while we were gone so she deserved a little something. 

Here Beyoyo shows off the diamond, and tells us what he really thinks of this trip. 

Sure, a diamond might not have been what she was expecting as a token of our appreciation but at least we didn't yet give her the stomach bug. That's the seasonal gift that keeps on giving. I bet Cinderella is in a bathroom stall somewhere now.....

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Marriage Vows for Parents

I recently went back to my OB's office to see the physician's assistant for a recheck of a complication from my c-section. I'm fine, thanks for asking. The sweet PA, Sarah, and I were talking and she said "Does your husband help a lot with the kids?"

Me: Yes. No. He's great, but I don't like to call it "helping" because these are not MY kids that he is "helping" with. These are OUR kids that we are raising together. 
Sarah: Oh! Uh. Yes, of course. 
Me: I am SO sorry. That sass wasn't actually intended for you at all. 
Sarah: No, I totally get it. 
Me: He helps a lot. 
Sarah: Great. That's really great. 

When The Husband and I got married 7 years ago, we said all the traditional vows. The only thing we skipped is the giving away part, because I am not a possession to be given away.  We said for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, from this day forward as long as we both shall live. And guys, we meant it. We stood in a horse pasture formerly owned by Kenny Rogers in front of all our friends, families and coworkers and committed to the good and the bad and the ugly. We'd already been together for eight years by that point, and had seen our share of ups and downs. But we were young and times were good, and we were the only people we had to worry about. At that time it was hard to imagine how different our lives could ever be. Looking back, those vows seem vague and simple and short. 

Since then we have lost family members, we've renovated houses and changed jobs. We've fought and made up, we've put offers on three houses and moved two times. More importantly we have created two more humans. Let that sink in. We are parents, parents of little people who need a lot. And our marriage is still good but has changed.  If I had to stand before family and friends and coworkers again (and I would. I would a thousand times over) I think I'd choose different vows, vows that are more reflective of who we are and what we're committed to now. 

They might sound something like this. I  take you to be my (wife/husband), in ramen noodles and in steak dinners. In pop tarts and in celebratory anniversary dinners at fancy restaurants. In family vacations and in stomach viruses with sick kids who throw up in our bed. In sweet, sleeping children who look serene, and in overtired infants who scream in the car. In new houses, and in old.  In clogged toilets and backed up septic tanks, in happy family dances around the kitchen. In watching children discover the world, in hearing them backtalk and wanting to slap them. In bath time and bed time and quiet time and having no time. In you've-had-on-those-yoga-pants-for-two-days and in dressing up for a special occasions. In whispers on pillows and in talking through clenched teeth. In annual bonuses and in just get the store brand cereal. In the baby won't stop crying, in the excitement of his learning to walk. In we're in this together, in I can't stand to look at you right now. In you look exhausted, let me take over, in I'm exhausted, can you please take over? In tick bites, in knee scrapes, in eat your dinner, in go to sleep. In I'll back you up. In awkward holiday meals with family when we make secret "thank you" or "you owe me" faces at each other, in fun and easy dinners with friends. In we've been up all night, in kids are with the grandparents sleeping in. In bikinis, in stretch marks, in anger, and in love. In cursing you in labor, in apologizing afterward. In holding a sleeping child, in chasing one through a parking lot. In arguing and in making up. In honesty and in holding back. In I'm sorry, in thank you. In no privacy, in saving something for the imagination. In moments of intimacy, in times when we've only talked logistics of childcare. In tears and in laughs, in filth and in cleanliness. In pregnancy, and in infancy, in toddlerhood, in preschool, in elementary, middle and high school. In day and in night. In we'll start this all over again tomorrow. 

Till death do us part. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Adventures at the Square Mall

Our local mall is....sad. A few small anchor stores, a lonely food court, several cheap clothing choices. If Jesus were born in modern times he might be born at our mall instead of a stable. It's basic. It's called Georgia Square Mall, but my Columbian college roommate called it just "the square mall."

There was a parade welcoming Santa to the Square Mall today. The ads said there would be local marching bands, dancers, costumed characters, and "great fanfare." What fun! The Boy and I went early to make sure we didn't miss it. When we got to Santa's workshop nothing was going on. We waited. And waited. And waited. Slowly a crowd began to gather and gossip about who would be in the parade and where they heard it would start. This was also the first day for pictures with Santa, so lots of tots were dressed in their finest. The longer the waited the more kids melted down. Puddles of sobbing red velour and white faux fur dotted the floor. We continued to be on the lookout for Santa and friends, and luckily someone brought binoculars.

The Boy was content to sit on the nearby mall rides, and chase the remote control helicopter display around and around the middle kiosks. After 30 minutes I was ready to give up, but he was happy and he asked nicely if we could continue to wait. A mother clucked under their breath "this is SO unorganized!" while she scraped her velour puddle off the floor. I gave them my best "been there, done that" smile.

After 30 minutes a mall employee came out with a walkie-talkie and a Santa hat. Her name was Bernice, probably. She directed the line to move over to the side and several parents asked her questions. She was drunk with power, and told everyone everything she knew.

After waiting almost an hour The Boy and I went to check out a store. I was confident I'd hear a marching band when it was time. When we came out, I saw a crowd of people walking in Santa hats. Maybe they were here for the parade. We followed them, and it turns out they WERE the parade.

The parade consisted of Santa, Mrs. Santa, a cop, and a step team. Good thing we were on the lookout. We followed the "parade" to Santa's workshop. Everyone perked up and waved to Santa. The Boy was thrilled. "Mrs. Cwause waved at me!" he said. I was relieved he wasn't disappointed. 

Once we got to the workshop mass pandaemonium ensued. Someone came out with about a dozen helium balloons, and there were now about a hundred people. I thought a riot would break out. A group of kids dressed all the same started chanting "WOW! Word! Outreach! Worship! Wow!" Santa and Mrs. Cwause took their places inside the gates of the workshop and waved like celebrities on the red carpet. The step team started stepping, right in the middle of the crowd. Suddenly there was a single clogger in the crowd: an elderly lady with an eye patch and a name tag that said Edna. She had a handler with her. 

I was hoping Edna would clog for us.  She even had on clogging shoes that went clog, clog, clack when she walked. I asked The Boy if he'd like to get a picture with her. He declined. 

As far as I could tell, the show was over. Santa was caged inside his enclosure, and the step team and the WOW kids had disbursed. I told The Boy we could walk upstairs and take a look and then we were leaving.  On our way upstairs, a WoW kid gave us a gospel tract with a piece of candy taped to it that said something about Jes+us. We sat upstairs and spied below for a bit before leaving. 

As we were leaving we saw Jake the Pirate, and went to go say hello to him. But before we could get there, he turned and took off up the escalators, running from a group of kids. The Boy asked indignantly "Why are those kids chasing Jacob the Pirate?!" I had no answer. 

On our way out we saw Bernice appear with another bundle of balloons. She pushed quickly through the crowd like Beyonce through the paparazzi, stopping only to hand balloons to those she deemed worthy. She slowed momentarily in front of us, yanked a string from her bunch and thrust it at The Boy. "Here you go, honey, tell your mama to tie that to you" she said, over her shoulder.  Then, in the single most perfect moment of the morning, she came face to face with Edna and said, with all seriousness and a hint of irritation "Morning Edna. I can't talk. I've got balloons!" 

The Boy was happy to go home with a balloon. There was no marching band, and no Dora or Elmo, but we saw some characters all right. The Square Mall did not disappoint. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween 2014

We kind of love Halloween. Exhibit A, our porch:

Also, we love dressing up. The Boy was officially Superman and Beyoyo was officially Batman on Halloween but we like to experiment with other options too: 


A highlight of our Halloween festivities was the fall festival at The Boy's school, which was a hit thanks to games like don't-drop-this-cup-of-popcorn-off-your-shoe

And pretend-you-don't-know-this-is-someone's-dad-tying-a-prize-to-a-fishing-pole. 

On the way to school that morning The Boy and I were guessing what some of his friends might dress up as. I foolishly guessed things like "a frog" and "batman." The Boy, however guessed that Henry would be dressed as a boot, and Violet Stone would be applesauce. We were both wrong. But oh well! The Boy is planning and looking forward to next year, since he already said he plans to trick or treat as......
a cracker. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fire station field trip

Today I went with The Boy's class on a field trip to the fire station. There is a special place in heaven for pre-school teachers.

First, they lined up outside with their backs against the wall, as is protocol. Ten kids went, and no fewer than 8 parents.  Kids left the wall, parents sent them back.  Parents took pictures. I had BeYoYo in a carrier and kids came over to touch him cautiously like he was a rare species of monkey. These guys did a happy dance:

A bike cop came to escort us on our trek to the fire department. The kids were IMPRESSED already. Everyone grabbed a tiny hand and we crossed the street and started our journey. As we walked, the kids started getting fatigued. They said they were tired. They said they wanted to be carried. They said they couldn't go on. They said they couldn't walk another step. It was a two block trip.

We arrived at the fire station and some cute fire fighters welcomed us and let us in. We passed fire trucks, fire equipment, fire men, and the kitchen. All very impressive, really. Naturally, the kids ran right for.......... the candy machines.

We got a tour of the building. The cute fire fighters started by addressing the parents. "If we get a call when the group is here, maybe everyone can just grab a kid and get them out of the way so we can get ready?"  Maybe we will.  

They sounded the siren and every single child covered their ears. 

The kids got to see their gear and climb in a fire truck. Parents said "don't jump on that", "get your hand out of your mouth", "get your hand out of your nose", "don't run", "stay with me", "take turns" and "no hitting".  


We watched a cute fire fighter put on his gear and the children were invited to touch him. The mamas were not. 

We got to see the sleeping quarters and might as well have taken the kids to Snow White's house they were so excited. It was less that they were excited to see where real fire men sleep and more that they saw a big open space and a beautiful opportunity. The girls stood nicely with their moms while the boys ran in circles around the room. Someone yelled "no jumping on the beds!" and the boys laughed. They ran. They were firemen and ninjas and super heroes and villains. They did 700 laps, complete with jumps and kicks and pushes and screams. We had been there 3 minutes. 

Parents corralled the kids together and the cute fireman asked if we had any questions. I did. "Do firemen hit?" I asked. He stared at me, blankly, searching my face for how he could help answer my question. "So, there's no hitting here?" I asked. "OH!" He said, his face lighting with recognition. "No. We do not hit. We don't hit or kick or pick our noses. And we always, always listen to our chief." Smart man. 

We corralled the kids for one more picture and headed back to school. 

If they were tired on the way there, they spent all their energy running around the fire bedroom and were SPENT on the way back. Kids stopped walking, forcing parents to stop and coerce them to continue. One dropped limp to the ground, refusing to continue. "Wet noodle" her mom said to the rest of us, as if we wouldn't understand. No judgement here. 

They said they were tired. They said they wanted to be carried. They said they couldn't go on. They said they couldn't walk another step. You'll remember these were the very kids who had energy to run like ninjas 5 minutes ago. They complained that they weren't in the front. They complained that they weren't in the back. One fell into a deep slumber one block in. When we were in view of the school, The Boy called out "I see my school!" like it was a desert oasis. 

Tonight when we were doing bedtime routine, we talked about going to the fire station and all the cool things we saw. I asked him what was his favorite part. "Playing outside" he said. That's right. Going back to school and playing on the playground just like he does every other day. There's a special place in heaven for pre-school teachers.