Friday, August 25, 2006

Battle of the Sexes

Setting: Our house, this afternoon. The Papaya and I are trying to put together a construction site floor puzzle. The Banana is simultaneously doing her best to destroy it.

Papaya (proferring a puzzle piece to the Banana): Want a bulldozer, Banana?
Mommy: Banana is a bulldozer. She's a force of destruction.
Papaya (matter-of-factly): She's a girl.

Abstract Expressionism

Mommy: What are you drawing, Papaya?
Papaya: I'm drawing the sound of the night train.

Closet Sleeping

I’ve decided that if I have anything to do with it, the Banana will be sleeping through the night by the time she is 1 year old. (If my husband had had more to do with it, it would have happened about six months ago.) This leaves me just a little less than a month to work with. I’m tired of being tired all the time. The Banana is finally learning how to drink from something other than my num nums, which means that I can leave a sippy cup of water in her crib and not worry about her getting dehydrated without her multiple night feedings. (Because I usually get dehydrated if I go through the night without drinking water. But maybe that’s because of the multiple night feedings!)

Anyway, the first step to peaceful nights was obviously to get the Banana’s crib out of sight of our bed. As long as she can stand up and see us, she is inconsolable - we’re talking 3 to 4 hour crying jags. You’d think in a 4 bedroom house with only two children, moving her to another room would be a simple decision. But because of the weird layout of this house, it wasn’t. The master bedroom is on one end of the house, then there’s a large “great room” (living room/dining room/kitchen combined), then there are three small bedrooms on the other end. If we moved the Banana to one of the three small bedrooms, her night crying would likely wake up the Papaya, and having them both awake at the same time in the middle of the night is something to be avoided at all costs. (We know this firsthand, from unhappy hotel room experiences. They can keep each other awake interminably.)

So we moved the Banana into our closet, and it’s been working beautifully (except when Husband decides to hang his clothes in there before he goes to sleep at night and wakes her up.) If this sounds too weird to any non-family members who miraculously happen to read this blog, know that my family has a long and proud tradition of closet sleeping. My mother spent a teenage year in Detroit living in a closet under the basement stairs of her aunt’s house. When my cousin spent a post-high school year or two living with my parents, he was housed in another closet under the stairs. (But treated much better than Harry Potter.) When my sister and brother-in-law lived in a small house in Texas a couple years ago, their daughter’s bedroom was the closet. Last Christmas, at my sister’s house, my brother slept on the floor of the laundry room (technically not a closet, but close). And almost every time we visit my parents, the Papaya ends up sleeping in their closet.

With this kind of history, it’s hard to believe it took us so long to think of putting the Banana in the closet (we briefly considered the pantry). Already, she’s back to only one night feeding (she had regressed over the summer.) Last night was supposed to be the big night that I made her stay in bed until at least 5:00 a.m. I was all psyched for it. However, when the Banana woke up crying at 1:00 a.m., Husband told me I should get out of bed and feed her. “You get out of your side of the bed, and I’ll get out of my side at the same time and do something important while you feed the Banana,” he said. So I jumped out of bed, grabbed the Banana, and sat in the nursing chair with her. Husband did not keep up his end of the bargain. As I pulled up my nightshirt and looked over to see him sleeping soundly, I realized his suggestion had been but the tail end of a dream, and that the Banana would get at least one more night feeding. Despite Husband’s obvious innocence, I still couldn’t help feeling just a little betrayed by him!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fair Game

There is something about an adult lying down on the ground that acts as an instant kid magnet, at least in our house. If you ever find yourself here and feel the urge to stretch out on our floor, beware! Protect your vulnerable body parts from imminent impact. You are suddenly the World's Best Toy - the perfect surface for jumping on, sitting on, swimming on, cuddling on, tickling... the possibilties are endless. Complete with sound effects! Let's not forget the treasure hunt possibilities. All those inviting little holes - nostrils, ears, eye sockets - they're suddenly accessible! And if the explorers are lucky, they might even find a belly button! Or a mole! Or - most exciting of all - one, or even two, num-nums*!

If you want to rest around our house, you've got to be prepared.

*Otherwise known as milk-producing wonders.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Tale of the Too-Tired Travelers

We just completed our 4th 10-day trip in 3 months. This traveling deal is starting to get old, let me tell you. The stays themselves have all been wonderful, and this past week at the lovely Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina was no exception. But the long and involved process of getting there and back, I could do without.

The return trip from North Carolina cemented my appreciation for the fact that we probably won't be making another major airline trip until December. Not only did it involve 2 days of driving and flying long distances, strange schedules, and a 3 hour time change, but it was also plagued with more than the usual amount of frustrations and mess-ups. Here is the tiring tale.

The Banana woke up at 5:00 a.m. the last morning of our beach vacation after a lousy night of sleep, but it was just as well, since we had to pack and thoroughly clean the house before we left. After a week of 11 people living in a fairly small space, there was significant work to be done. We worked our tails off and pulled out right at 10:00 a.m., which made me a little nervous, since we had a flight leaving around 3:00 p.m. and were still a 3 1/2 hour drive from the airport. Scratch that. We were more than 3 1/2 hours from the airport. I-40 was undergoing construction, and the large volume of other vacationers returning from the beach led to a complete standstill and much fingerbiting as I tried to work out what we would do if we missed our flight. Happily, some expert map-reading and re-routing from my dad and husband saved the day, and we made it to our gate with a half hour to spare.

The flights themselves (two of them, routed through Dallas) were uneventful, and the children were, on the whole, good travelers (although the Banana only napped about 30 minutes of the entire 6 hour flight time). We left a Nalgene on board the plane after we arrived in Phoenix, which wasn't a huge deal, but still made me feel pretty bad - I hate to lose things, and it was my favorite Nalgene bottle, one my sister gave me from Montana. By the time we claimed our luggage, caught the shuttle to the long-term parking lot, and arrived back at our car-side, it was about 11:00 p.m. East Coast time and we were exhausted and grumpy. My husband's inability to find his keys only added to our general bad temperedness. Happily, I had keys and we made it to our hotel and into bed within an hour's time. The Banana, incredibly overtired, slept even worse than is usual for her on trips.

The next day began bright and early, thanks to the time change and some wired kids. But that gave us plenty of time to start on the many activities ahead of us - breakfast, swimming, packing up the suitcases and car again, shopping in Phoenix, driving 140 miles to Flagstaff, visiting 3 or 4 stores there to stock up on enough to last us 2-3 weeks, driving 2 hours more to our house, and arriving in time to stick something in the microwave to bring to our neighbor's going away potluck party that night.

We did, by the way, make it home in time for the potluck, although I don't think we were the life of the party. Unfortunately, as the day wore on, it became obvious that my mild sore throat from the day before was transforming itself into a true head cold. This, combined with sleep deprivation and mild jet lag, put me in a kind of twilight-zone for most of the day. My husband didn't have a cold but still didn't fare much better. His great moment came at the Walmart in Flagstaff. While trying to remove our old windshield wipers so I could take them inside and buy new ones the same size, he let go of the little metal piece that holds the wiper on the driver's side. It snapped back, hit the windshield, and made a lovely star-shaped crack. One ray of the crack grew throughout the rest of the day and is now at least a foot long, pushing inexorably up and across our windshield.

But the coup de grace of our unhappy return trip came the next morning, when I opened up our large suitcase to find some clean underwear (we had been living out of our carry-on up to this point.) My underwear was nowhere to be found. I searched some more, and it dawned on me that none of my clothes were anywhere to be found. And none of my husband's clothes were there either. My mind shot back to two days ago, when I pointed to the dresser in our beach house bedroom and asked my husband to empty it into our suitcase. Apparently, he interpreted my request as, "Please just empty the top drawer of this dresser" (which contained all the kid's clothes). I'm afraid that discovering most of our summer wardrobe was still in North Carolina was not the high point of our communication as a married couple. Volleys of accusations from both sides, such as "You don't listen to me", "You should have checked all the drawers before you left", "Didn't it occur to you that you didn't pack any of our clothes in the suitcase?", and "I was just doing what you said - I didn't know I was supposed to pay attention to what I was packing!" ensued.

Things are much better now. In fact, just blogging about frustrations makes them seem much more funny. Husband and I forgave each other quickly. I found his keys. My cold is abating, although I suspect my kids may be coming down with it. The housekeeper of the beach house will mail us our clothes (hopefully to the right address, since she is almost 80 and hard of hearing, and just spelling out the name of our town over the phone so she could hear and understand took about 10 minutes of yelling.) I will drive the kids into Winslow tomorrow, 80 miles away, to get our windshield replaced - hoping that the crack won't spread to its outer edge in the meantime, causing the whole thing to break in two and fall in my lap (it probably wouldn't do that anyway, would it?). Sometime,we may even replace the Nalgene, even though I doubt we'll find another pretty turquoise one that says "Montana" on it. The Banana, happy to be home, is suddenly making huge strides (pun intended) in her walking - she's striking out on her own now, walking just for the fun of it, and reveling in her new skill. Life is almost back to normal in the Papaya Mommy household.

Hey, let's do another trip! This Friday, we're off again for the weekend - to Lake Powell, for a staff retreat. At least there's no air travel involved. I'm happy to be stuck here for a little while.