Saturday, June 27, 2009

And On The Third Day...

She rested.

No driving today.

And for that reason alone it was a relatively good day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Breakdown aka Day 2

Today was... hmm... not as good as I had anticipated.  

I let the girls sleep-in as long as possible to make up for their really late night the night before.

I should not have promised to take them swimming one more time before we left.  It was a promise made in order to get them out of the pool... but I should have known better.

Around 10 AM they woke up and I whispered to Kid that I was going to have to break the promise.  That I was sorry but wouldn't she rather get to her cousins as fast as possible.  She agreed and I asked her to not mention it to Baby.  Amazingly she she kept her word.  

By the time we were all ready to check out breakfast was over.  So we started the morning with McDonald's hamburgers all around eaten in our car seats while finishing The Little Mermaid from yesterday.  Yummy.  (and no I'm not being serious... but it was fast and had some protein so we were good to go... plus I made up for it by ordering french toast at Denny's for lunch)

We got going.  Goodbye Virgina.  Hello West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  That was just in the first hour of our journey.

We stopped at a rest stop.  

We saw a broken down Army convoy.

We had the pleasure of following two "Wide Loads":

An actual FEMA trailer being trucked somewhere.

And what I thought was the world's largest boomerang but turned out to be airplane wings (maybe?!).  That was actually a bit scary as they appeared to be somewhat precariously attached to a flat bed.

We actually had a little less than 200 miles to drive today... but... it was not all highway driving and had been somewhat slower than I expected.

Today was also the day when I came closest to spanking Baby.

I'm not a spanker.  In general I'm not even a yeller.

But today, while driving down a divided highway, about halfway into our trip, Baby started grumbling about something or other.  She wanted to "get out!!!".  I explained that we were on the highway and there was nowhere for me to pull over and that I'd be stopping for lunch just as soon as I could.

A couple of minutes later I noticed Baby was not in her seat where she should be.  She was leaning forward in away that should be impossible in her 5 point harness.  I realized then that she had unbuckled herself.

We were not near an exit, we had, of course, just past one.  With no exit in sight and no other options I pulled off as far as I could onto the shoulder of the road.  Keep in mind that we had just passed signs reading "Aggressive Drivers High Crash Area"  and "High DUI Crash Area" (I kid you not).  Because of a guard rail all along this section of highway I could only get one wheel off the shoulder onto a grassy area.  When I got out of the car I wasn't 10 feet from the passing traffic.  I opened Baby's door and hopped in trying to clear myself of traffic as much as possible (I have read of one too many people killed while out of their cars on the highway).  I climbed in the car and forcefully put her back in her carseat.

She forcefully kicked and clawed at me while screaming with fury.

I screamed back with terror every time I felt the wind rushing by me from a passing semi.

I got her buckled and quickly got out of her door and back into mine.

I turned around to look right at Baby and screamed....


Baby started screaming and wailing in return.

Kid sat there dumbfounded then whispered "Are you talking to me?"

"No, I'm talking to your sister."

Then I started crying.  

From the exhaustion...

the stress...

and the adrenaline.

I put on a movie and merged into traffic.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Fine Print aka Don't Try This At Home

The trip was, for the most part, uneventful.

I had booked us a hotel in Winchester, VA which is about a 7 hour drive from Asheville. I figured the trip would take me about 8.5 including stops.

We left at 11 AM on the dot.

That allowed for an hour lunch at a McDonald's Playland as well as some bathroom breaks later on in the day.

For those of you who don't know some McD's have an indoor play structure... and you can actually use the McD's trip planner to find them along your route. The Playland stop is key for many reasons. #1 They have changing tables in their bathrooms. #2 The kids are happy to eat there and it doesn't matter if they are loud. #3 They can play and get tons of physical exercise in; no matter the weather. These are all important on a long road trip. I don't want to eat at McDonalds three times a day but I will if I have to. I try to map these out as a back up plan just in case we can't find anything better along the way.

We made it to our McDonald's and spent about an hour there then loaded back up.

Of course I had to pee about 30 minutes later, so that was another stop. The kids got out and ran along the rest stop's paths for about 15 minutes. Kid sat on the toilet but due to her public restroom phobia (loud automatic flushing and hand dryers not germs) she couldn't go. Baby peed in her diaper as soon as we got back to the car so after all potty time I still had to change her on my partially reclined seat.

The kids did great. Really great. It was harder on me because I was bored out of my mind. In order for the kids to watch their movies (key to Baby doing "really great") I have to listen to them. The kids aren't old enough to tolerate headphones yet and unfortunately for me Sleeping Beauty and Blues Clues lack a little something when you can't see them. I also hate talking on the phone while driving and so... 7 hours of listening to Baby singing and chanting loudly throughout every movie is kind of... well... grating.

Around 4 I was looking for a place to grab my daily coffee. Of course, wouldn't you know, that that would coincide with a random long stretch of serviceless highway. Around 5 I finally got off. Got some gas, loaded up the snacks and headed into yet another McDonald's for a coffee and some chocolate milk. Kid refused to use the toilet... Baby insisted on touching the toilet and so we all had to wash up and then they both refused to use the blow dryers. That's when baby saw a crumpled up piece of used toilet paper in a stall, ran in, and dried her hands on it. Fantastic. So another round of washing and then we finally ordered our drinks. Of course they forgot our order and after waiting for some unseemly amount of time while Baby rolled around on the floor and practically made out with the tiles (so much for the washing of hands) they finally gave them to us.

We got in the car. Baby couldn't find her pacie. We're down to two for the trip so that was not good. I actually (don't call the cops) left them in the car in the parking lot (I had already buckled them in and was not about to take them out again) and ran back in and all through the restaurant and bathrooms... no dice.

So, all in all, that pit stop added another, unplanned for and unnecessary, 30 minutes on to our trip.

We had about 2 hours left to go.

Things we're going pretty well again.

When we were about an hour from our hotel and I had just finished this...

We ran into this...

People, there was an accident about 1/8 of mile ahead of me on the highway. About 5 seconds before we got there a car ran off the road and burst into flames. An 1/8 of a mile beyond the accident was the next rest stop. I sat there wondering how long before I had to take off my underwear and put on one of Baby's diapers (I'm not kidding). There were miles of cars and trucks lined up behind us so it's not like I could just pee on the side of the road. The kids were happily enjoying The Little Mermaid. I was tired and ready to get this day over with. At least I was able to get out and stretch for awhile. During this time I decided that next time I'm going to plan my trip for no more than 6 hours of driving just to take this kind of thing into account. While I can handle 7... I really can't handle 8... by myself... with absolutely no help... with the sun setting into my rearview mirrors. Because it's not like when I finally get out of the car I'm not still on duty for the rest of the freaking night.

About 30 minutes later (surprisingly fast) we started to move and I drove straight to the rest stop like 95% of the cars around me.

60 minutes later we finally got off the highway. We were hungry. It was now 8 PM. I was truthfully right about where I would have need to pull over even if we hadn't gotten to our destination. I saw a sign for Outback and we drove straight there.

The kids enjoyed it.
I was happy to be at a nicer restaurant (well comparatively). They actually both ate decent dinners. I let Baby hang out under the table... whatever... it can't be worse than the McDonald's floor. We even ordered dessert.

They sprinkled Meth on Baby's.

We got to our hotel around 9 and planned to check in and go swimming. Our hotel is really, really, nice. It's a new Courtyard and the bed is fantastic. The kids ran in our room and Kid called out "Hey Mom! There is a shower!!" And as if it couldn't get any better "The toilet paper is folded in a triangle!!". See? It's fancy here.

But within a minute I realized I had a problem on my hands. Baby. She was really out of her mind. She was yelling everything and running and jumping and... well... I'm always paranoid about disturbing others. It was really stressing me out. I told her we weren't allowed to run or jump. Baby doesn't really know how to locomote without running or jumping so I might as well have asked her not to breathe. When I tried to hold her down in hopes of settling her she just started screaming and then started banging against the walls. I decided running and jumping was better and released her.

We went swimming. The pool was clean... and... had towels! I was hoping that the exercise would run them down a bit.

I realized for Baby, who is really physical, I need to make more playground pit stops during our drives. She is great at holding it together while she's in the car... but... once you let her out she's totally out of control as she tries to release all that pent up energy.

In the pool she decided she could swim. She was adamant and kept yelling at me and trying to get out of my arms. As it so happens she can't. So... that was fun and relaxing. I put up with that, in combination with Kid's insistence that she, in fact, can't swim for a good half an hour before calling it a night.

It didn't wear them out... at all.

Baby was literally bouncing off the walls.

Kid was anxious about sleeping on the pullout bed a good... oh... 1.5 feet away from my bed.

I'd try in vain to snuggle wrestle Baby down in the bed only to have Kid pipe up some ridiculous question from her bed... which of course only provoked Baby more.

You know it's kind of cute to listen to a two year old screaming out the lyrics to "Somewhere Out There"... but not so much at 11:45 PM.

After lying with them both, separately, ... while silently screaming in my head... they are now asleep.

And I can't wait for tomorrow when I get to do it all over again!!

Thankfully tomorrow is a "short" day and I only have 4 hours of driving (theoretically).

I Am Going To KILL Baby!

She's nuts. Absolutely nuts.
She can't stop talking at TOP VOLUME.
I'm really sorry to the people staying in rooms 208 and 212.

And We're Off!

one bike
2 kid's deck chairs
a cooler
sewing machine
small bin or of sewing stuff
bin of toiletries & diapers & medicines
bin of clothes
bin of art supplies & learning stuff
duffle bag of clothes
hotel overnight bag
road atlas
snacks (including beef jerky!)
bag of library books
huge bag of swimming floatation devises
sun tent
beach umbrella
sticky mat
free weights
baby gate
bed rail
baby monitors
potty chair
toilet paper
paper towels
2 blankets
2 pillows
bin of toys to LEAVE
wagon of blocks to LEAVE

I think our neighbors think we are moving.

The good news is if something goes down and we need to go on the lam we're all set.

Seriously. I could start over with everything I have in there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Didn't Just Say That

"If you just hit her back you are going to be in trouble!" I yell up at Kid from the basement.

Then add...

"She's a baby... You're a grownup!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hoping For a Ho-Free Hotel

24 hours to go. I'm at the peak level of nervousness where it would almost be better to load up the car and just take off now and get it over with. I've been known to do just that in the past.

Yesterday I pricelined a hotel for our stop over in VA.

Not a motel a hotel.

As cheap as I usually am (and believe me I really hate to spend more than absolutely necessary) I will never forget stopping at a Super 8 with Kid when she was about 3 years old. We were on a drive to the East Coast on our own. We had been given a top floor room. While all the rooms have outside access it wasn't like I could open the door and be at my car. Well, I had a moment of sheer panic when I realized I had left something in the car and had to decided if I could leave her in the room for a second while I ran down the stairs to the car and back. She was happily watching TV on the bed.

I did leave her... but I was really nervous about it... I'm not even sure why. What if I fell down the stairs and broke my leg and couldn't get back to the room? What if I got hit by a car in the parking lot? No one would know she was up there. She could end up traumatized for life. I think I was even worried it might not be technically legal for me to leave her in the room. One thing I have learned from traveling on my own with kids is that stuff like this comes up all the time... the whole travel & lodging system is not set up for a single adult traveling with small children.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs and was heading to my car I saw the most disgusting, nasty, skanky hooker I had ever seen (and for the record I used to live on 12th St in Alphabet City in Manhattan and I have seen my fair share of nasty old hookers). This woman was walking on the side of her stiletto red vinyl boots... like on her ankle. She was kind of limping. I wasn't sure if she came in that way or if something happened to make her leave that way. But I suddenly wanted to vomit. And I was worried that if something weird had gone down I didn't want someone to see me see her. Not with my baby upstairs in a room by herself. What if someone shot me?!! (Yes I know that's crazy talk... but in the moment that is exactly where your mind starts to go) So I turned around, not ever reaching my car, and ran up the stairs to my room and my baby. When I got in the room I was shaking.

After that I have been hesitant to stay at a motel unless I'm with Mr F. Life's short I don't need to worry about getting caught up in some kind of prostitution ring gone bad. So... long story short.... especially after the disgusting Days Inn incident... I decided it was worth an extra couple of bucks to know we were staying in a nice hotel in a nice area. I did my best to get a good deal, and in fact, we're paying exactly what we paid to stay at that nasty ass Days Inn.

Video Update

I'm Crazy

I've got tons of stuff on my plate. My trip just got bumped up a day. I have some serious feelings about the mom & baby that are supposed to come today (more on that a little later).

I called the boarder for Mr F and the vet. Canine is all set for his stay.

I need to hunt down the Honda Finance info because NC accidentally sent our new car title to Honda even though our car has been paid off for 4 years. So... that's a nightmare... that must be rectified before I go.

Looking for missing library books.


I still have time...

to discuss

I know you watched last night.

You know I did too.

I thought it was sad.

I don't really care if we all saw it coming. Or if it "serves them right". It's still sad to see a family dissolve. It still will have a huge impact on their kids.

And when she said that she'd never had to have time she couldn't be with her kids before that really hit me. And I did feel for her in that moment. As I would for anyone in that situation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

That's Where They Went

A couple of months ago I bought a popcicle mold... you know... in theory... it would save money.

The girls thought they were fascinating and couldn't keep their hands off them. Within hours the popsicle sticks were missing... making the set USELESS and a complete waste of money.

I have looked everywhere for those suckers. They are bright colors and about 6 inches long... I couldn't believe that they just disappeared of the face of the Earth, but apparently they had. How could we not find them?!

Their vanishing has been a thorn in my side for weeks.

Today I was cleaning the kitchen and the kids wanted to help. Since their combined help is not, in fact, helpful I told them to wipe off the table. When they were done with that I told them to go under the table and wipe down the pedestal (excessive, yes, but it kept them busy).

It's a good thing I did.

Oh God The Stress... aka... This Week The Plan

Last week was whacky and chaotic. I didn't take the time to make myself a plan and by the end of the week it showed. As much as I would like to just "hop to" and start ticking off the things on my mental list I know that if I don't take the time to do this I will crash and burn. If you don't do this for yourself and are kind of an all-or-nothing style person like myself... I swear... it does work. I don't always get everything done but I am much more successful when I take the time to identify what one or two things I could do each day.

[I'll be back with a meal plan]

Chores & Errands:
I'm really going to push myself to get everything done this week. Hopefully the kids will cooperate and let me do it all. In one week I won't have to worry about any of this crap again for another month!!

Monday - pick up kitchen, pick up living room (removing toys!), grocery shopping

Tuesday - laundry, vacuum, have baby & mom (that I'll be watching this year) over to meet the girls

Wednesday - sort & file mountain on desk, ID which bills Mr F will have look for in the mailbox

Thursday - PACK

Friday - depart after breakfast, stop for the night in Winchester, VA

Saturday - arrive Eaglesmere, PA for lunch (God willing)

Sunday - take girls to Knobels

Monday - depart after breakfast for Ann Arbor (hopefully eldest niece will be assisting on this leg)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

This morning Mr F woke up in Baby's toddler bed (not having noticed the red purse lodged at his feet) propped himself up and enjoyed his breakfast in bed.

I didn't know then that this was his 2nd waking. I was busy wrestling Baby at 5 AM as she threw an hour long tantrum. He took that opportunity to leave the house (I don't blame him) and drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway for some early morning pictures. He's been intending to do that for some time but when his alarm goes off he always just goes back to bed. I guess Baby knew that and her gift to him was screaming at the top of her lungs "I NOT GO TO BED!" just to give him the nudge he needed to get out and see all he could see.

It turns out he forgot to check his gas first. He realized a little ways out that he was going to run out... so he turned around and coasted back down. That's when he saw a black bear at the side of the road. Not to get to spiritual on you.... but... Mr F has a thing for bears. A big thing. He's never actually seen one in the "wild". It was only because he was coasting down that he saw it. Since his engine was off the bear didn't hear him coming and he was able to get a few pictures of it. He has been elated all day.

He came home, climbed into the only empty bed, and took a short snooze before Kid got up to start the festivities. Dude, she is really into this stuff. She woke up first and started preparing his tray. "Is he even awake?" I whispered sleepily. "I think so... he stopped snoring." She replied. I would have fought her on this but I've learned over the past few holidays that she isn't going to back down. When she's up it is game time. She's bringing you your breakfast whether you want it or not.

A few hours later she accosted me in my bedroom, expressing her concerns about the progress of this holy day...

"Hey mom what else are we doing for Father's Day?" Kid charges in my room to say.

"Well, you gave him your gift and his breakfast..." I reply.

"That's it?!" Kid asks kind of indignant.

"Well... I bought him those clothes and I was planning on making some special food today." I stammer.

"I was thinking more of like a party with a cake." Kid explains enthusiastically.

"Oh... well... we're not going to have a party." I say somewhat apologetically.

"Father's Day isn't like Mother's Day?" Kid asks.

"Yeah. Moms have the to carry the babies in their tummies so it's a bigger deal." I say.

Amazingly that explanation worked... for now.

Plus I don't remember getting a cake and a party for Mother's Day....
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