Alaska and the gear that made it possible

We’re home! We traveled around Alaska for 2 weeks, changing towns every couple days. We vacationed by plane, train, bus, boat, bike, zipline, raft, tram, hike, helicopter, dog sled, truck, van and some of us in a backpack carrier.

It was a dream come true. In part thanks to RB’s brand-new iPad. I understand people traveled with children before there were personal devices, but thanks to the iPad, I never felt compelled to dose her with my stash of drowsy drugs.

It all felt a little miraculous. RB is a notorious screamer, clinger, avoider of dogs. One of my biggest pre-trip fears was that she would ruin our dog-sled ride. I bought all the dog-sled books. I thought about buying the helicopter books too, but she likes her vehicles.

There were smiles on the helicopter. No desire to pet the dogs, but no complaining. Then she sat on the very front of the dog sled, snow slamming into her face and not a peep.

I swear she wasn’t drugged.

Also BB and I were on a different dog sled than her, so either way we were guaranteed a good time.

I planned a bunch of “summer activities.” Hikes that in the summer would not require snow gear. May is considered the shoulder season for summer tourism in Alaska. I knew that, but didn’t understand that that meant a week before we arrived in Denali National Park they still had 7 feet of snow.

Now if you say the word “hike,” RB responds,

“Snow?!”

It didn’t stop us, just slowed Captain down. That and 33 pounds of toddler on his back.

The rafting trip was touted as a ride gentle enough for babies and 100 year olds. It was. There was very little white water and when there was white water, RB shouted,

“Again! Again!” Then both kids went back to general complaining. BB wanted to stand like RB, refusing to admit that her center of gravity was way higher and that falling overboard into the 40 degree water was a surefire way to ruin my trip.

Next time we need class III rapids or an iPad on the raft.

After the iPad, my second most favorite trip purchase was Cosco’s Scenera NEXT 7 pound, $60 carseat. I’m not being paid anything for this post and I paid full price for the car seat. Although if anyone is tempted to pay me, I’d be happy to dedicate a whole post to the Scenera.

It fits on top of a rolling carry-on suitcase. At first we tied it down with a bungee cord, but it actually just stays there with nothing.

You might be thinking, ‘Jess, did you really need a carseat?’

Aside from one week with a rental truck, we didn’t really need one. BUT I cannot say enough good things about having a 5-point harness.

BB is the type of kid who at 18 months wouldn’t get out of her toddler bed until an adult came in the room and told her she could.

RB is the type of kid who will be in a crib until further notice. The 5-point harness was made for her.

We used the car seat EVERYWHERE. She slept in it and I carried her in it into restaurants, hotels, national parks. It probably made her less safe on the train, but it made me more sane, so it’s a delicate balance.

It contained her, but it made her feet reach the airplane seat in front of her during our red-eye flight home. Yes I booked a red-eye. No I’m not totally insane. We saved a lot of money on those tickets. Hopefully enough money to book another red-eye someday.

At 1:00am, RB was happy, awake, watching her iPad and operating the in-seat airplane entertainment screen with her bare feet. Much to the detriment of the man in front of her.

So as far as I can tell, that’s the only downside of a carseat on a plane.

As we slogged through airport security, the suitcase with the girls’ stuff was flagged. TSA demands,

“Is there a machine in here?”

“A what?!”

“A machine!”

“Oh. There’s a baby music player.”

“All machines need to come out. We told you that.”

Maybe there needs to be some fine print about what qualifies as a machine.

Going back through security to return home, the “machine” did not come out and wasn’t flagged for extra screening. Although our to-go salad was. Maybe there was a questionable amount of salad dressing.

Last but not least I need to give a huge shout-out to vanilla ice cream.

iPad, carseat and vanilla ice cream. They saw us through. BB managed a somewhat varied diet of everything you can imagine on a kid’s menu. RB existed on ice cream, some fries, some chips, some crackers, some granola bars, some cookies, a fair amount of juice, but mainly vanilla ice cream.

And we never saw nighttime. The sun set around midnight and rose around 3am. Our rooms were dark enough and we were tired enough it didn’t stop us from sleeping, but any sense of what time it was was lost.

That feeling that it might be dinner time or bedtime didn’t hit us until 9pm. Then it was way too late to care about anything besides getting everyone in bed or their crib. The travel crib is the fourth MVP of the trip.

Last night BB asked me,

“Why didn’t we floss in Alaska?”

“We’re lucky we brushed our teeth.”

At 10pm, on the evening of our return, I sat in Seattle’s airport playroom, entrenched in the smell of old feet. I studied a sign instructing children to remove their shoes. BIG MISTAKE.

On our way TO Alaska we spent 3 hours in Minneapolis’ airport playground. It’s a winner. It’s well-ventilated, has big play structures and everyone is encouraged to keep their shoes on.

As my children ran around like lunatics, crashing into several other Boston bound lunatics, I overheard the parents discussing what drugs to give them on the plane. Foot smell aside, contentment washed over me. What a fabulous trip it was and great to be headed home with like-minded people.

Both kids in the crib for the win.

An eighteen hour travel day and two littles, Alaska here we come!

My moment of truth is almost here. We leave for Alaska in 4 days and I’ve been trying to come to peace with the packing for months now.

I traveled around the world carry-on only. I’m very happy to wear the same shirt everyday until the weather changes or it wears out. Yes I washed it. Things can dry overnight, or when it was hot enough, things dried right on my body.

Turns out when I returned home a couple years later, I didn’t smell great, but that was news to me.

Now we’re headed to Alaska and in addition to our carry-on allotment we have a giant checked bag and a carseat.

I’ve been whittling away at our packing. BB was desperate to take a skort. I nixed that. That’s two items of clothing functioning as one and it might not even be warm enough to wear it.

Then there are the non-negotiable items: the giant, crib-music player that RB turns on multiple times a night. It’s a necessity. Anything related to sleep takes top priority. But it gives me the heebie jeebies. I’m devoting suitcase space to a 3d lullaby machine, that could’ve been used for a gazillion skorts or just less stuff.

BB has 2 security bunnies and her large fleece security blanket. Who gets attached to a large fleece blanket? Another non-travel friendly, sleep necessity.

We’re moving towns every few nights, so the less we have, the easier it’ll be. In theory.

Our biggest item is the travel crib. I’ve gone in circles about this. A few of the places I really want to stay don’t provide cribs. So there were several options: stay somewhere else, RB sleeps in a bed or on the floor or take a crib.

If we’re doing this, I’m staying at my top places. I contemplate a free-range RB and a sun setting at 11pm. It sounds disastrous.

They sell black-out shades that cover an entire pack ‘n play, like you’d cover a bird in a cage. GOODNIGHT!

I’m sold. The travel crib fits in our biggest roller, with room for snacks.

I got the last room at one of my top picks, a place that hangs out over Seward Harbour. The woman who runs the place and I are on a texting basis. That’s how small some of these places are I guess?

She says,

“I only have a second floor room, but I don’t like to put kids up there.”

“Why not?”

“I was sitting in my office and I saw feet dangling. A kid was hanging off of the balcony and when I went up there, the parents kind of just shrugged and said they knew.”

I assure her my children will not be hanging off of the balcony. THIS IS WHY I NEED A CRIB.

Years ago I met families backpacking with their kids and that’s always been my dream. Someday I thought, maybe I’d have a family I could do that with.

Now I have my family and we’re taking six backpacks, three rolling carry-ons, one large checked roller, one car seat and one umbrella stroller.

Happy 40th Birthday adventure to me!

I’ll be back in two weeks. Stay tuned.

Sorry Goofy, no room for you on this trip.

Market Basket and their delicious dog food, don’t take my word for it

I’m enjoying our new Market Basket. If you don’t have one in your town, you could consider driving to ours. That seems to be what everyone else is doing.

I have never given my grocery-shopping strategy so much thought. I’ve never even used the words “grocery-shopping strategy” before.

The left side of the store has produce, bread, frozen foods. The right side of the store has all the refrigerated items: milk, butter, eggs, yogurt, smoked herring, hot dogs. The necessities.

So from a stacking-the-cart strategy, it would make sense to start on the right with the gallons of milk and end with the produce and bread. Although good luck with the eggs.

But there’s no moving quick in that store, so that would mean by the time I got home, my milk would be on its way to room temperature.

Starting from the left keeps the milk cold, but then I’m left rearranging the bread the whole time so it doesn’t get crushed. It can’t go in the baby seat because RB is taking up prime shopping-cart real estate.

And starting on the left means circling back for ice cream. I guess I could circle back for bread and ice cream.

The store seems designed to make people start from both sides. Is that better for traffic flow? I can’t tell. It’s constant dodge-a-cart out there.

It doesn’t help that RB’s new favorite question is,

“What are you doing?”

We’re in the car. She asks,

“What are you doing?”

“I’m driving to the grocery store.”

Two seconds later,

“What are you doing?”

“I’m driving.”

Two seconds later,

“What are you doing?”

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”

“I’m right here.”

Great. So you can imagine how helpful this line of questioning is in the store. I turn down the bread aisle,

“What are you doing?”

“Getting bread.” I get the bread.

“What are you doing?”

“Putting the bread in the cart.”

Bread falls over, risking being crushed by the frozen pizza. I try to rearrange,

“Why are you doing that?”

I don’t know. I just don’t know. Is there a better way? Please feel free to tell me your Market Basket strategies.

I head for the number one check-out lane. It is a phenomenal lane. It’s open on one side so there’s no risk of RB grabbing several candy bars and a People magazine while she’s waiting.

The new brand of beef jerky I’ve been enjoying for the last few weeks slides down the conveyor belt. The bagger asks,

“What kind of dog do you have?”

“I don’t have any dogs. I thought those were for people.”

It’s one of those brief moments that lasts forever and I’m able to question all my life choices:

‘The beef jerky is organic, so I had assumed that that puts it in the realm of people food, but in retrospect I’m sure there’s a big market for organic dog food.’

‘I’ve eaten dog and dog food before, so not the end of the world.’

‘The smell DID remind me of dog treats.’

‘But they were in the people-food aisle, not the dog-food aisle.’

I smile at the bagger and remark,

“Well either way, they’re delicious!”

Having reconvinced myself that they’re people food, I march myself home and relay the story to Captain,

“Isn’t that funny?”

“Wait, so are you eating dog food?”

“I don’t think so?”

RB returns to pester me,

“What are you doing?”

“Putting away groceries.”

“What are you doing?”

“Putting away groceries.”

“What are you doing?”

“EATING DOG FOOD!”

“What?”

Vietnam is the place if you want to try dog

COVID? What COVID? I’m worrying about WWIII

I’m hoarding coffee, chocolate covered popcorn and potassium iodide. Only one of those may be useful during a nuclear winter.

So while I understand more COVID variants are on the way, my news consumption has veered toward the war.

Captain on the other hand, has been able to remain on high alert for multiple disaster scenarios.

He’s by far the most cautious member of our family. And I continue to underestimate that. I booked zip lining in Denali without even thinking he might not be up for it. After a decent campaign on my part, he’s a cautious yes.

Of the four of us, Captain has managed to stay home the most. His occasional trip to Home Depot is enough to make him swear it off for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile RB has been back in the YMCA playroom for a year now, with a runny nose every other week to prove it.

Captain went from staying home to hanging out with 100,000 of his closest friends at Disney World.

We waited in our fair share of lines and if you’re going to wait in line, Disney World is the place to do it. There’s plenty to see and if you ask BB, TOUCH! As we meandered through line after line, BB touched, caressed, tapped, rubbed, patted EVERY possible surface.

Captain looked like one of those cartoon characters whose face is getting redder and redder until smoke comes out of his ears.

He asked BB, he implored BB, he explained, he scolded, he stared, he shook his head, he brooded. To no avail. It seemed her goal was to leave no surface untouched.

Meanwhile this is the same kid who will not touch ANYTHING that has been on her sister’s plate. BB could be desperate for more chocolate. If the only chocolate left is on RB’s plate, BB will abstain. Even if RB never put a finger on it, once it’s on her plate BB deems it too foul to even contemplate.

As Captain tries to grapple with his world of limited-germ exposure imploding, I glance at BB. She’s running her slightly open mouth along a hand rail.

If we leave Disney World without COVID, it won’t be for a lack of trying to get it.

Or maybe we’d already had it? We hadn’t been testing every runny nose we got. So I thought, who knows? A month later I confirmed that we did NOT have it before.

First Captain was congested. He asked,

“Should I take a test?”

“Sure!”

He decided not to. I didn’t push for it. See aforementioned most cautious family member.

Then I was congested and RB was congested. Still no test taking. I was leading my normal life: exercising, corralling children. Then boom, I couldn’t smell my coffee. COVID test was positive.

I lost my taste and smell for a week. That sucked a lot more than I thought it would.

Moral of the story is, if you’re tempted to lick the high-touch surfaces of Disney World. Go for it.

Now we’re “boosted” again and I’m free to direct all thoughts of impending doom into building a nuclear fall-out shelter. Hence all the chocolate covered popcorn.

BB pushing the cart with her hands AND mouth. Nice to meet you new Market Basket!

My quest for normal messiness

I’m not trying to have any more kids, but it often feels like it would be nice to have another point of reference. Where does each random behavior my kids exhibit fall on the spectrum of what’s “normal” for a 5 or 2 year-old?

My gut instinct is that BB is on the extreme messy end, but what do I know? She’s the only 5 year-old I’m living with.

At the beginning of the pandemic I turned our dining room into BB’s art room. BB is incapable of cleaning it on her own. Sometimes we do it together. Sometimes I do it by myself. Sometimes I see Captain in there muttering under his breath.

One evening I came downstairs and Captain was staring into the abyss of layers and layers of paper, glue, scissors, crayons, paint, pipe cleaners, markers, jewels, stickers, foam, feathers, and felt pom poms spread across the expanse of the table and floor.

As I write this, it occurred to me, maybe it’s my fault for giving her so many mediums.

I press into Captain’s side. He says,

“How does this end?”

“You mean what is going to become of BB?”

“Yeah.”

“I think she’s going to be one of those people who ends up with rotting food in her bedroom and she won’t care.”

He looks at me in horror. I have missed my opportunity to make us feel better.

I don’t let the kids take food upstairs, so this future is not imminent.

BB simultaneously knows her surroundings are a mess and doesn’t care. One morning she woke up inspired. She rushed to her art room and sketched a picture of her bedroom, complete with a dresser full of half-open drawers and clothes falling out every which way.

She’s observant. She knows things are a mess.

When BB eats anything, 20% ends up on the table and floor. That’s if we remind her to hold over her plate. Without any reminders the situation deteriorates. And while she’ll acknowledge a grape, tortellini or whole cookie on the floor, the chances of her picking it up are zero.

My gut instinct tells me she’s messier than the average bear. School reassured me that that’s correct.

BB came home and told me,

“I got in trouble at lunch today.”

“What happened?!”

BB is nothing if not an extreme rule follower. Minimal baby proofing required because she just wouldn’t do what she wasn’t supposed to do. So I couldn’t begin to guess what happened at lunch. BB explains,

“I made a mess with my lunch.”

“On purpose?”

“No! But the teacher didn’t believe that it was by accident.”

And there is the proof. BB is so messy that other people can’t fathom it’s her normal state of being.

Two years ago I questioned if I could parent my way out of the mess, then RB came along and is at the opposite end of the spectrum. BB couldn’t be messier and RB couldn’t be neater. BUT that is not a clear positive. RB, in my opinion, may have severe OCD.

RB NEEDS to put things in their spot. Her lovie has had a specific spot since she was 11 months old. If she takes a book off the shelf, it goes back in the exact same spot, between the same two books.

When BB gets home from school, she strips and leaves a trail of laundry from the front door, through the kitchen into the living room. RB follows on her heels, picking everything up and muttering,

“Put away, put away.”

I will tell RB to go play and instead she’ll be under the kitchen table with the dust pan sweeping up half of BB’s snack.

If I leave something somewhere it doesn’t belong. I have a pint-size person at my feet telling me,

“Put it away!”

If I put her water bottle anywhere but in its “spot,” I’m going to hear about it.

When I pick RB up at the YMCA playroom, she’s compelled to clean up before she leaves.

Going to a playground with her is really just a trash pick-up mission.

So as impossible as it is for RB to leave a mess, I now feel how futile it is to hope for BB’s underwear to not end up on my kitchen table.

BB is desperate to share a room with RB. It has the whiff of a social experiment and I’m inclined to give it a go. But not until RB is done with her crib.

RB loves her “cribby,” as much as I love having her contained. She likes to sleep all smushed up at one end. So considering that, she’ll fit in it for another three years.

How does this all end? Will our home somehow average out and end up in the middle of the messiness spectrum?

I’m at the point where I wonder if maybe BB’s M.O. leads to a more enjoyable, go with the flow lifestyle, with or without underwear.

My dining room
Room to spare

Never thought I’d be in the pool 2 days a week in JANUARY

Our regular routine has resumed, except some crazy person signed RB and me up for two parent/child swim lessons a week.

Yes it was me. It sounded like a good idea in December.

The YMCA lowered the lesson price. Then after I signed up, they offered a 25% discount on a second class.

EVERY MORNING RB asks to go swimming. So I thought why not?

Why not: It’s freezing out. So much effort. It’s freezing. Less fun than enjoying my coffee. It’s freezing.

Why: RB wants to go. Plus I already shaved for the first lesson of the week, so might as well take advantage.

The Powers Aquatics program is incredible. I regret regret regret not signing BB up for it when I had a chance. Although I’m not convinced she has the right personality for it. RB does.

BB can swim circles around RB, but with Powers Aquatics I think she could’ve been at this level 2 years ago. BB declined a second weekly swim lesson. Solid choice.

The girls’ locker room has always been my go-to for shower and changing. It used to be empty. Now it’s packed. And now I realize that my post-swim strategy is not a popular choice.

Everyone seems to focus on their kid first. Ok, sure, we make sacrifices for our children, but this isn’t one I’m ready to make. As it is, RB is a shower hog. She wants to be held and the minute I turn to get some hot water on me she shouts,

“MY TURN!”

After our shower, she gets her towel and she waits while I get dressed. She watches the freezing women and the dressed kiddos.

I’m treating this like an oxygen mask airplane emergency situation. I’m putting my clothes on first before helping others.

It’s working for me.

The dream is that come this summer both kids will be swimming circles around Captain and I’ll be reading my book.

Plus with two lessons a week, I’ll get double the underwater photos. If that doesn’t make it worth it, I don’t know what does.

Mickey, magic and a melt down or two

I’m having a serious case of the post-vacation blues. We hemorrhaged money all week, except for the few seconds Captain found ten dollars on the ground. And I swore I wasn’t going back for ten years.

Now I’ve got Alexa playing the Disney fireworks music on repeat and I’ve got tears in my eyes. You could send me back next week.

The whole thing feels a little miraculous. We departed January 1st as thousands and thousands of flights were cancelled. Ours was on time and no one even made a peep about RB being on mask revolt.

It was our first big vacation in two years. A plane. A hotel. Gorgeous weather in the middle of winter. My best friend Goofy. A hot tub. Drinks. Being fed with a wave of my magic arm band.

And I got to hug one of my real-life, best friends who was in Magic Kingdom the same time we were. It was magical.

I couldn’t ask for anything else. Except maybe a few more hours of sleep for RB. Actually A LOT more sleep for RB. We had one too many meltdowns. They were all too many and I lost count.

Our double stroller turned out to be a nice way to hold our coffee and push our bags around. RB was determined to walk. And not just walk, but walk without holding anyone’s hand. I started eyeballing the kid leashes.

RB’s pace was so SLOW. Nevermind that we couldn’t count on her to even be going the right direction. So one morning in Animal Kingdom I forced the stroller issue. I didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn, to reserve rides, to be held back by a toddler strolling along somewhere in the vicinity of her luxurious stroller.

Well I learned my lesson. The only thing slower than a toddler walking through Disney World, is a toddler flat out on the ground refusing to go anywhere, do anything, or let anyone touch her.

So she walked. She even complained about her feet hurting at the end of the day. You can imagine about how much sympathy I had for that.

We went with Genie+, it’s a must. Then Disney wants to charge even more for individual lightening lanes. I guess it’s worth a try. We did pony up for Rise of the Resistance. A two hour wait wasn’t for us. But $9 a pop for Space Mountain?! I’ve been going on that ride since I was in utero. Not happening.

Screen time told me I was on my phone an average of 12 hours a day. And I have the blisters on my finger to prove it. I’m still reflexively opening the app and checking the ride wait times. This week looks pretty good.

BB had the time of her life and that in of itself made the trip. Turns out she loves traveling, roller coasters and the huge water slide at our hotel. If those are the only things we ever have in common, our future is bright.

Captain does not love roller coasters but he was a very good sport and tagged along. Either that or he didn’t want to be left with RB. She was really out to lunch for a good portion of the trip.

She reminded me of super drunk people who insist they’re ok to drive and then pass out two seconds later.

BB went hard and was asleep the second her head hit the pillow. RB went just as hard, but then decided to party in her pack-n-play for another couple hours while Captain and I escaped to the hot tub.

By the end of the trip, she was short about 28 hours of sleep. If she could’ve flown home next to someone else, that would’ve been nice.

It was very tempting to restock my Disney wardrobe. Aside from one new Forky shirt, I resisted. Do people wear these clothes when they’re not in Disney World? The last time I wore my Goofy shirt was when I worked there twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago. I didn’t realize how nostalgic it would be to return with my babies. And how unimpressed they’d be when I pointed out the places I had worked. Captain was the most incredulous,

“You drove the boats?!”

Which may be because he’s not super impressed with how many times I’ve crashed our car into things.

I DID drive the boats for the fireworks cruises and I didn’t always dock well. That’s why people are supposed to stay seated.

We did so much and I would do it all again. As I wallow in my 861 vacation photos and 6 videos, that’s after culling, the only thing left to do is plan my 40th birthday trip.

Alaska I’ve got my eye on you.

True love.
The melt down to beat all melt downs.
Magical.
Apparently they play Christmas music until February. I don’t remember that.
Shhh. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Nothing like feeling your ears flapping in the wind.
Til next time!

Santa, Mickey, and our elf. I’ll let you know how it ends

My ambivalent relationship with Santa continues.

BB loves the guy.

I remember my disappointment when I found out the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real and that was only a couple bucks here or there. I don’t wish I’d never believed, but the transition to not believing was a downer.

How crushed will BB be?

I keep asking other people how they felt when they learned the truth and in return everyone asks if BB is starting to have doubts.

Zero. Zero doubts. If anything, she’s doubling down on believing.

We’re headed to Disney in two weeks and BB has been studying her guidebook as if there’s a midterm coming up.

She points to Mickey and Minnie on the cover, who are looking fabulous in their 50th anniversary gear by the way, and asks,

“Are they real or people in costume?”

“What do you think?

“Well considering they can walk, and with smiles like those… They’re definitely real.”

So that’s where we’re at.

Santa on the bubble barge came to our neighborhood last week.

BB tells me,

“It was the real Santa.”

“How do you know?”

“I looked at his beard. How could he be fake with a beard like that?”

How could he?

And I don’t subscribe to this naughty list. It causes BB anxiety.

Over and over I remind her that she’s getting Christmas presents whether or not she’s nice to her sister. Even if it would be really nice if she were nice to her sister or at least maintain the status quo.

BB tells me,

“I told my friends that you said there’s no naughty list for me and they said you’re wrong. There is a naughty list.”

There’s nothing I can say to prove I know more than a 5-year-old.

I’ve been playing along for a few weeks now, but reached a breaking point.

A few days ago BB came home and asked our elf-on-the-shelf Tutu to please bring her a candy cane. I meant to put out a couple candy canes, but I forgot. Tutu moved. A miracle in itself.

The next morning BB was tearing the house apart in a fit,

“There are no candy canes! I asked Tutu for candy canes. So-and-so’s elf gave them a this and So-and-so’s elf gave them a that and Tutu hasn’t given me anything.”

When did the elves start bringing presents?! Santa help me.

Maybe because it was the first conversation of my day or maybe because it was Dec 18th, but something snapped. I wanted to throw the “magic” out the window. I tell BB,

“I grew up with no elf and I didn’t believe in Santa. Many people in this world do not have an elf or Santa. And maybe your elf knows that you had 8 nights of Hanukkah and now you’re going to have Christmas.”

Unswayed, BB tells me,

“I know, but I believe in Santa.”

I know. And believe it or not, Tutu brought candy canes the next night. RB gobbled hers up before it was out of the wrapper and BB’s is still untouched on the counter.

Who knows what RB makes of all this. Her priority is candy. She’s still walking around asking,

“More Happy Halloween?”

….

Don’t worry Goofy, we’ll be reunited soon!

If only that hat still fit. But I wouldn’t mind finding that Goofy cap!
No real Goofy here, but I felt like this was a quality photo.

Til death or disintegration do us part

And that’s a wrap on Hanukkah! It was a good one.

Captain and I had an evening out, which never fails to remind me how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place.

I sported the faux, suede leggings I wore when I met him, which he loves and my new fuzzy coat which I love and he said looks like a sheep. Who doesn’t love sheep?

It was a dreamy moment without anyone bugging me for presents or more presents or when are there going to be presents. On our way out, I float into the restaurant bathroom. As I’m washing my hands, the woman next to me says something unintelligible followed by,

“…. very nice.”

“Thank you!”

In my contentedness, I made the assumption that she was saying something about me. Perhaps my sheep coat is very nice?

She stops washing her hands, turns to face me and enunciates loud and clear,

“THIS RESTAURANT is very nice.”

“Oh yes, it’s a LOVELY restaurant.”

There’s no way to recover from having assumed this was about me, but we spend a good five minutes singing the restaurant’s praises just in case.

For Hanukkah, my mom spent the week mending Blankety, my security blanket. I’ve mended her here and there over the 39 years of her existence, but it kinda breaks my heart.

No one wants to take a needle and thread to someone they love. Yes I understand she’s an inanimate object.

Blankety has never been one to wash frequently, especially as she’s gotten older and has really started to disintegrate. I washed her when I first met Captain. Her equivalent of a new pair of faux, suede leggings.

I washed her again right before BB was born. And I washed her two days ago.

Did you do the math on that? The blanket I smush against my face every night of my entire life, went 5.5 years without a wash.

A month ago as I did inventory on our winter gear, I said to Captain,

“I can’t believe the winter boots I was wearing when we met are 10 years old. They’re older than our relationship.”

Captain eyes Blankety in our bed and mutters,

“That’s the oldest thing in our relationship.”

I point at 47-year-old Captain,

“You are the oldest thing in our relationship.”

I may have won that one, but it made me take a hard look at poor Blankety.

She faded from bright pink to brown several years ago. Then her remaining innards started showing through and I couldn’t bear to put her in the wash.

Then I started to break out. Then Captain mentioned she doesn’t smell great and he steers clear of her in our bed. I think she smells fabulous and I’m not trying to share her with him, so good.

My mom promised to mend her and I promised to wash her.

I won’t say she looks like a whole new blanket, but she is a whole new color. Let’s do it again in 5 years.

I’ll be 40 this coming July. It’s got me contemplating mortality and Blankety’s life span. Will she live another 40 years? Will my faux, suede leggings still be around? I can only be so lucky to find out.

Blankety through the ages:

Blankety in her newborn glory.
Circa 1991. Forgive the bad photoshopping of my underwear; I was going to crop the photo, but thought you might enjoy the loafers.
Blankety camping in Kenya.

She’s hard to see, but Blankety is under my chin.

No Blankety here. Just Hanukkah.

Hanukkah Hustle, ’tis the season

Anyone else concerned about the container ships stranded at sea?

I’m not sure what all is on them, but to be on the safe side I panic bought all of BB and RB’s Hanukkah and Christmas presents three weeks ago.

Hanukkah IS early this year, so that’s not too crazy. It still feels a little crazy, especially considering BB’s favorite color is in flux and how long can RB be obsessed with Baby Shark? Don’t answer that. Through December would be enough.

I thought I had a decent mental tally of what I had gotten each of them and it felt equivalent in my head. I put it all out the other day. Not even close.

I remove a third of BB’s presents to return to Target along with a pair of pleather leggings that didn’t fit. Those were for me.

The Easter Bunny made this same mistake, except she didn’t realize it until she put the baskets out and even then she thought it was close enough. The first words out of BB’s mouth were,

“Why did the Easter Bunny give me more than RB?”

Second thing out of her mouth was,

“Why did the Easter Bunny give us so many bathing suits?”

Maybe the Easter Bunny knew BB was going to spend the summer at the beach and couldn’t help herself.

And I will not make this mistake again. For the first time, I’m embracing duplicate gifts. Not everything can be the same. RB’s put-things-in-her-mouth phase is lingering. She still eats crayons.

This is partially my fault because I only let her color when she’s strapped in her highchair.

Which is her fault, since she’s proven that given a crayon and free range, she will color on any and all surfaces.

What about their different interests you say? Screw that. Their number one interest is having whatever the other one has.

And even so, I’m sure there’s going to be fighting. I already removed several large toys from the living room after any attempts at sharing turned into full-on screaming,

“MINE! MINE! MINE!”

I’m about to donate everything. Let them fight over the sticks in the yard. Plenty of those. And they BOTH put those in their mouths. BB tells me,

“I’m in a phase.”

“Oh yeah?”

“A puppy phase.”

“I see that.”

“Is that what phase means?”

Yup. I guess it does.

Home Goods has proven time and again that it surpasses any other store for the most random, Hanukkah tchotchkes.

And as I continue to complain about having too much stuff, I set off on one of several annual, Hanukkah, tchotchke expeditions.

Home Goods did not disappoint. Giant gelt stuffies. I grab two and head for checkout.

I can count on Home Goods’ cashiers for commentary. She exclaims,

“Oh wow! I’ve never seen these before!”

And before I can say anything, she adds,

“Well I’m not Jewish.”

“Well I am Jewish and I’ve never seen them before either.”

BB and I went out again yesterday. We popped into TJ Maxx. We approach the counter with a coat, jammies and 2 pairs of slippers. The cashier asks,

“Did you find what you came for?”

“No! We came for Hanukkah stuff.”

BB asks,

“Do we have time for the two other stores?”

“If we hustle.”

We roll through Joann Fabrics. Random I know, but they’re good for wrapping paper and I’ve exhausted the internet. Hanukkah overalls from Target are sold out.

BB asks,

“Are we going to the last store? We really hustled.”

An Ode to Coffee and Electricity

WHAT A WEEK. Electricity? Very under appreciated until it’s gone.

No matter how many times I forgot and flipped a light switch, it was to no avail.

I get annoyed when storms are over hyped, but the zero hype that there was for this storm meant I’ve been feeling bamboozled.

The first injustice hit quick. With only one of three nightlights working, BB joined me on the couch at 6:30am Wednesday morning.

My solo mornings, watching the sunrise, with the lights voluntarily turned off are one of the most pleasant, self-sustaining moments of my day.

Wednesday morning, as BB whined about no school, 30 minutes before anyone is allowed to whine at me, I realized that I was DESPERATE for a coffee. The giant, widow maker dangling by a tree thread over our front door wasn’t going to stop me.

I gathered both children and left a note for Captain:

“Gone for 2 coffees.”

And gone we were. As soon as I saw the first traffic light was out, I knew we needed to head out of town. Drive-thru after drive thru was closed. Road after road impassible. Next town over I saw people emerging from Whole Foods, to-go cups in hand.

Heavenly bells chimed. I looked down at myself: pajamas, random shoes, rain coat. It’s a drive-thru outfit. It’s not something I’d wear in public even in the depths of the pandemic loungewear movement.

Who am I kidding? I’m going in. The line was long, but not nearly as long as when I left 20 minutes later with 2 cups of coffee in my hands.

As BB whined and RB said “Coffee? Coffee? Coffee?”, I navigated our way home. I saw people drive underneath trees resting on wires. I stopped there.

We returned to find Captain searching the house for us, lost without the ability to text me. No one reads hand-written notes left on countertops anymore, even when there’s no electricity OR cell service.

I gave him a cup of coffee. As hard as it was to relinquish, he obviously needed one as much as I did.

We made a plan to evacuate to my mom’s. She mentioned not driving until later when it wouldn’t be so dangerous.

I spared her the coffee adventure for the time being.

In the meantime BB had her eye on Halloween and all things related. We were on notice for the school parade. Would it happen? Would it be canceled?

BB has started making her own social plans. She tells me,

“I’m going to A’s to go trick-or-treating.”

I explain that parents need to be part of the planning or she has no plans and I haven’t heard boo from A’s parents. BB throws up her hands,

“What am I going to do?”

“What do you mean?”

“I have to go trick-or-treating with you and dad?”

I’m not sure when spending time with us became a nuisance.

Halloween feels magical. It’s warm. We have electricity. The school parade was rescheduled for today. We join trick-or-treating forces with BB’s friend and BB seems unfazed by the parental oversight.

RB insisted on walking despite lagging behind. And if you’ve ever wondered what will happen to a full-size Hershey’s bar if you clutch it in your hand and refuse to put it in your bucket all night. You get to smear it everywhere when you get home. Just ask RB.

So did I risk my family’s life for 2 cups of coffee? Maybe. But we’ll never know what would’ve happened to them if I’d gone without.

Do three showers a day now make up for no showers in February?

To bathe or not to bathe? This celebrity topic has me considering my family’s habits. I’ve determined they’re seasonal.

Back in February, there was very little bathing. Water conservation had nothing to do with it.

It got to the point where no one in the family was sure of the last time they took a bath or shower. Which often led me to issue a warning that we would all need to bathe soon. Although I never went as far as to say it had to be that day.

This didn’t come from a place of being anti-bathing, but from the same place of wearing sweatpants for a year.

Now we’re at the beach. I deem sand and indoor living very incompatible. We’re doing a minimum of 2 showers a day, maybe 3.

Awhile ago I learned about a friend who only showers her kids, no tubbies. I didn’t think that could be me. How could I take away the joy of playing in the tub?

Now I’m in there with the shower running, saying,

“Stand up!”

Didn’t they just spend the day playing in the ocean?

The advantage of the tubby is that it keeps RB contained for a minute until she decides to jump out. The disadvantage is that she really likes to poop in there. BB is still thrilled to have a tub with her. Maybe there is some love there.

It’s at least 2 showers a day because there is no way these kids can come in the house for lunch without a shower.

BB returns home with more sand covering her body than even seems possible. Gobs fall out when she takes off her swimsuit.

She’s the type of person who likes to go swimming and then makes sand angels. We’re talking wet hair, wet body, rolling and rolling in the dry sand. I can’t think of a better way to make sure you’re sandy for the rest of your life.

RB sits in the tub drinking as much bath water as she can, while BB picks seaweed out of her vagina and puts it on the side of the tub. She would prefer to hand it to me.

BB informs me,

“You know they sell special seaweed and you can take a seaweed bath to soften your skin?”

She’s learned about spa treatments from a neighbor. I gesture to the seaweed lined up on the side of the tub,

“What about this seaweed?”

She looks at me like I’m an idiot,

“NOOO. That was in my vagina.”

I get them out and send them on their way. I’m feeling efficient. If there’s ever a Ninja Warrior style competition that features drinking a beer, collecting beach gear, dragging it home, corralling 2 kiddos, bathing them, diapering, clothing, feeding and putting them to bed, I really think I’ve reached peak speed.

At 1:00am I jolt awake to,

“Mama… Mama!!! My vagina is itchy!”

Somewhat irrelevant, but this is what beach chairs are for, right?

Nine days of missing BB

BB is back. Nine days she was gone sailing. It was Captain, my in-laws, BB and her menagerie of stuffed animals.

Day 1: Bon voyage! I’m excited for her and glad to send her on her way.

Day 2: All appears well.

Day 3: Do I need to go get her? Day 4 is the last day she can bail. If not day 4, then it would be day 9, whether or not anyone decided on day 5 that that was a mistake.

Day 4: It’s a sailor’s life for BB; she’s committed to the duration of the trip. Block Island here they come. Captain says sometimes she acts “silly.” My interpretation of that is he’s glossing over bad behavior, but that’s on him. See you in 5 days!

Day 5: I’m poring over their photos. Can’t get enough.

RB is a lost soul without BB and our usual beach crew. She keeps attaching herself to random kids whether they want her or not. And when they refuse to make eye contact she walks closer to them, waves and yells,

“HI!!!”

RB’s standard volume is a 7 out of 10. When she feels strongly about something, anything, like making friends or being all done with breakfast, it’s a 10. The kids still don’t make eye contact. I try to drag her away. She refuses to acknowledge subtle social signals.

I redirect her back toward our stuff. There’s a new family setting up next to us with a fellow toddler. I think we’re in luck.

RB heads straight for them. I hover nearby. She takes a peek in one of their buckets. I’m hoping to make eye contact with the mom. Maybe share a smile, offer some of our toys, I see a bright future for poor RB who is desperate to socialize.

The mom really won’t make eye contact. I move closer. She moves the bucket away from RB.

Not so subtle. I make one last ditch glance for eye contact and I drag RB away for a swim. When we walk by later, the dad says,

“You’re welcome to play!”

I really don’t think we are.

Day 6: I miss BB.

Day 7: I really miss BB.

Day 8: I fall asleep creating all the unlikely catastrophes that can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime. A little bit like how when either kiddo sleeps 30 minutes later than usual I assume they’re dead.

Day 9: I’m reunited with a very-much alive, tan, instantly grown-up, sailor BB.

She spends the first hour of the hour-and-a-half drive home regaling me with stories. Stops. Says,

“Mom, I can’t tell you everything.”

And that was that.

She did tell me,

“I had one fight.” (with my MIL)

“What happened?”

“She wanted me to use the bathroom and I didn’t want to.”

I assume it was because BB didn’t have to go, but it turns out it was more of an issue than that. Captain tells me,

“She didn’t want to use any bathrooms besides the one on the boat.”

“Any? What did you do?”

“She went outside.”

“Outside? Like everywhere?! All the time?! Even at restaurants?!”

“Well a lot, yeah, there was grass.”

Huh.

BB returned with an additional stuffed animal, “Shiny the Block Island unicorn,” who was added to her already crowded bed. I tucked her in with 4 bunnies, 1 puppy, 1 caticorn, and Shiny. She said,

“There are a lot of people in here.”

“There are.”

“I wish I had someone to sleep with.”

Did nine days of her sleeping with Captain doom my summer? I remind her,

“What about all the people in your bed?”

Big sigh.

“What about your long-lost sister?”

Bigger sigh.

“How about I check on you later?”

“O-KAY.”

And I make my escape. Turns out there are limits on how much I missed her.

Beach birthday bonanza rain or shine

My baby is 5! I’m 39. And the class fish is still alive. However old he may be.

I’ve never met anyone happier to turn 5. BB canvased the beach, proclaiming her birthday far and wide. She was magnanimous enough to mention mine was coming up as well.

While I didn’t shout 39 to the world, no one would’ve heard me over tropical storm Elsa. I did tell quite a few people about my glorious birthday dinner with Captain, WITHOUT our children.

I may have mentioned my plans for a throw-down party next year. Mark your calendars.

I’m very happy to cling to my thirties for one more year. It’s got me comparing to 29. I’m much more content, big dreams have come true, I’ve lost some muscle tone and a lot of sleep.

I feel like more dreams can come true, but the sleep and muscle tone may be gone forever.

The summer beach plan is in effect and aside from enough rainy days for the entire season, so far so good. If anyone is going to test my resolve to be here all summer it’s RB. But then she’d test my resolve wherever we are, so I might as well be where I want to be.

It comes down to chasing RB around the suburbs or chasing RB around the beach.

I may be glorifying BB’s toddlerhood, but I don’t remember 21-month-old BB testing EVERY SINGLE LIMIT. ALL THE TIME.

The minute I turn away, there’s a very good chance RB will be standing on the kitchen table or scaling a bureau in an attempt to get the fish. As long as he may live.

The good news is that there are no tables at the beach, just rain.

RB’s attention span seems to be about as long as it takes her to yell the word,

“DONE!”

So no attention span.

We went out for BB’s birthday dinner. RB wouldn’t even let us put her in the highchair at all.

“DONE DONE DONE!”

BB said,

“This is the best birthday! Bester than last year.”

She doesn’t mind if RB’s not at the table.

BB wanted a fancy birthday drink. Last year she didn’t like her Shirley Temple. I was at a loss, but then it came to me. I ordered it for her.

She took a big sip, smiled and sighed,

“What IS this drink?”

“Sprite.”

“Sprite.” Said with so much reverence. As if she’s ready to worship whoever created soda. Kind of like I’m ready to worship anyone who manages to sustain RB’s attention for more than a minute.

As of Saturday, Captain and BB went sailing with my in-laws for nine days. Amazing for her and a very mixed bag for me.

It’s a little quieter and calmer here, but RB does not know what to do with herself. I almost miss the sibling fights. Everyone has 2 feet on or near the ground and are somewhat occupied.

BB has been begging to share a room with RB. This is good news because there are limited options at the Cape. And bad news because whoever wakes up first makes sure they wake up the other one. Refer to previous mentions of lost sleep.

I’m also missing Captain, in large part for his sandcastle acumen. It’s impressive, occupies many children not just our own and is enjoyable to watch from my beach chair.

It turns out deck building is a transferable skill. He’s also amazing with playdough. His current creation is drying on the counter.

So while everyone’s gone, I have not taken up the sandcastle mantle and we may or may not be catching up on sleep. But I have managed to write a very overdue blog post.

As far as the bad beach weather goes. It better be DONE.

The vantage point from my beach chair.
Dining out.
Play-Doh creations by Captain

As BB would say, this is all about my foots

I don’t know when the last time is you went to the podiatrist. For me it was Monday. Nothing has made me feel quite as old as this did.

When I hear the word podiatry, I think of eighty-year-olds. I remember hospital rounds with my dad and old guy toes with nails so long they were curling in spirals at the end of his feet.

In retrospect, feet sticking out of a hospital bed were just about eye level for 7-year-old Jessica. No wonder that memory is here to stay, even if on a good day, I feel lucky to remember my name.

After answering numerous sports-related questions, I’m guessing people younger than 80 go to a podiatrist. I can get over myself, or continue on with a whole post about my feet. You’re welcome.

Twenty-five ish years ago, probably the year I grew 4 inches all at once and had no idea where my body started and stopped, I fell going up the stairs. I don’t know what I did. Broke a toe? Dislocated a toe? Whatever it was, it hurt BAD, but I wasn’t going to tell anybody and risk not being able to go play.

I had always been fond of that toe. I loved that it looked it like ET. It healed kinda funny and I was left with one ET toe, the counterpart on my other foot.

After the original injury I could never bend it again, but it’s also never given me any pain. So c’est la vie. Or so I thought, until a few weeks ago I wondered, is it growing? Nah.

Then without me mentioning anything, my mom asks,

“Is your toe getting bigger?”

YES! I think it is! In general I’m the opposite of a hypochondriac, but now it was a little hard not to worry. As far as I know, my toes should NOT be growing.

I make a podiatry appointment. I feel awkward. They ask,

“Was there an injury?”

“Yes? Twenty-five years ago.”

I head in for my appointment. It’s a hot, beautiful day and I’m in a new sundress and flip-flops because why not? This getting out and about thing feels so novel.

As I’m waiting for my x-rays, I overhear the technician speaking to another patient,

“Oh wow, look at all those necklaces! We’re going to have to take them off.”

I can only imagine this being said to someone under 5 or over 80, which may confirm the podiatry demographic.

Once in the exam room, the doctor walks in, takes one look at me and walks right back out. I hear him tell someone in the hall,

“If they’re wearing a short dress, I need you to cover their legs.”

“…”

“Anything above the knee.”

I’m grateful for that clarification, because even if I don’t consider myself podiatry old, I feel a little old for a “short” dress. Also I don’t define a dress above my knee as short.

With my legs properly covered, the doctor starts off with the good news,

“Looks like arthritis.”

“Is it normal for it to suddenly grow like that?”

He makes a face. I realize,

“Has it been growing all along and I just noticed it?”

“Your warranty expired when you turned 35.”

So it did.

He offers,

“It’ll keep growing and if it ever starts to bother you, we can shave it down.”

“Shave it down?!!” I’M GOOD. “Is there anything I can do to stop it from growing?”

“Flip flops aren’t great.”

“Never mind. Not sure why I asked, if I’m not willing to make any changes.”

I take my toes and unwarranted self out of the office. The receptionist calls after me,

“Hope you feel better!”

“Thank you I feel great!” If just a little bit closer to 39.

…..

And if you feel like you want more about my feet, click here for a fun post from 2008.

BB and me, just before my warranty expired.

If anyone can rock their entire wardrobe in one day, it’s BB

While we’re talking about fashion, BB dressing herself tests my self control almost as much as trying to do arts and crafts together.

Over a year ago it was easy,

“BB it’s the middle of winter, you cannot go to school in your bathing suit.”

Six months later it got a little harder,

“I don’t think you’re allowed to wear Minnie Mouse ears to school.”

“Can you just ask them?”

Turns out she IS allowed to. Too bad they got buried in the bottom of the dress-up bin after that.

Now we’re at the point of no return. In the morning BB asks what the weather is like, what activities are on the docket and what sleeve length I would recommend. She takes it from there.

This makes it sound like she’s amenable to my input, but it’s a ruse. It’s permissible to yell ideas up the stairs, but setting foot in her room before 9am is certain disaster.

My picking out a specific item of clothing will, best case scenario, result in my being scoffed at, or worst case, cause a complete melt down.

I avoid the melt down. Just like I’m capable of doing a decent job on a toddler arts and crafts project, I can also match a shirt and leggings. But I’ve let this go. Or so I keep telling myself.

It’s harder to match a tank top, sweatshirt, leggings, skort, 3 bows and a headband, but now that I’ve seen it done. Why not go to school like that?

BB tells me,

“I need help tucking in my shirt. You can’t see my skort.” Very true.

It turned out to be a peer-approved ensemble and she came home happy.

She’s confident. And her confidence is a precious, slippery thing. But does one say anything about over-confidence? I’ve erred on the side of nothing.

There was an art show at her school. The artists ranged in age from two to six. BB declares,

“I’m the best artist. I’m great!”

“You’re very good.”

“I’m better than Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Monet and Kandinsky.”

“Oh yeah?” I don’t know about all that, but at 4.75 BB has more art appreciation than I had after my entire education. BB adds,

“So-and-so just scribbles. Their mom is going to be very disappointed.”

She’s an artist and she knows how she wants to dress. I’m all for it. Even if each new combination tests my resolve. And yes I know I’m the one supplying the clothing. I just didn’t anticipate everything being worn at the same time.

For swim lessons she put on a one piece and then put on a two-piece bottom over the one piece.

I offer,

“You’re wearing two swimsuits. You could wear the bottoms with a top or just wear the one piece.”

“Mom, I know these don’t match and I know I’m wearing bathing suits with two vagina parts. That’s how I want to do it.”

Two vagina parts. Who can argue with that?

Partially vaccinated and READY TO PARTY or at least eat outside at a restaurant

One shot down, one to go! Good thing, because I just opened my last box of Girl Scout cookies.

From January until now I survived on 30 boxes of cookies, an immense amount of coffee, a normal amount of wine (just earlier and earlier in the day) and a renewed appreciation for being healthy, aside from all the cookies, wine and coffee.

The mass vaccination site brought me to tears. WHAT A YEAR. Hard to believe we might be pulling out of this. I wondered how long I could sit there with Captain under the guise of ruling out anaphylactic shock while enjoying a brief moment together without our children.

I wouldn’t be in a decent place without: sunshine, solo walks, people I managed to see, friends I got to talk to, frozen food, take-out, RB sleeping through the night, Captain and I sleeping in the same bed again and the Elsa doll that sings “Let It Go” in its entirety.

At 18-months old BB was starting to sing the ABCs. At 18-months old RB is singing “Let It Go.” As in she is belting out the one word she knows all the time. Something like this:

“GOOOOOOOOO!”

Throws her arms out to the side, turns in a circle,

“GO! GO! GOOOOOOO!”

I cannot begin to describe the volume on this.

I wonder if I’m failing RB or if her doing everything BB does is somehow going to work out for her. She may not have many words, but she’s ready to join BB’s pre-k soccer team.

In a year of groundhog days, tasks were on repeat. Laundry. Cleaning. Food. Start over. But for whatever reason, there’s one task that never ceases to surprise me: cutting the kiddos’ nails.

I survive giving two slippery characters a tubby, plop them in front of the TV and cut BB’s nails while RB screams at me for holding BB and not her. Then I cut RB’s nails while she screams at me to release her.

Then I brush my hands off and think to myself, ‘That’s that!!’

Only it isn’t and two weeks later I’m shocked to see how long everyone’s nails are.

This has been going on for years.

Anyway. Not sure where I’m going with this post. But did I mention we’re on our way to being fully vaccinated?

BB questions me,

“So if the parents are vaccinated, does that mean the kids don’t have to wear masks anymore?”

I wish! But this does mean we’re a lot less likely to die and leave you orphaned.

So cheers to that.

Cookies are very VERY important.

Stepped on another parenting minefield. I did not make it out unscathed

First the pandemic, then the demise of skinny jeans. I thought we had hit rock bottom, but last week I sank to a new low. I embarrassed 4-year-old BB.

My intentions were pure: loving, caring parenting, but like many moms before me, all I was was an embarrassment. I knew this was my destiny. I just thought I had a few more years before the pedestal I was enjoying crumbled beneath me.

It started with a potty break. Or 50 of them. BB was going to the bathroom every 10 minutes. I called the doctor. They recommended going in. So we did. But not before we went to the bathroom one more time.

What was I thinking? Of course they wanted a urine sample from BB and of course, even though she felt like she had to go, she didn’t. We exited the bathroom empty handed and returned to the exam room to drink apple juice.

Five minutes later,

“I need the bathroom.”

“Let’s wait a little bit. Remember it feels like you have to go, but you just went and you didn’t.”

“I really need to go.”

I manage to get her to wait another five minutes. Then she becomes adamant. We give it another shot. It’s a single use bathroom, very large and private.

I don’t know who’s tried to get a urine sample from a 4 year-old, but contrary to Captain’s assumption, I was NOT relaxing nearby. I was on my hands and knees in front of the toilet, elbow deep in the bowl, trying to keep the sample cup pressed against her crotch because she’d squeeze out a drop here or there and I didn’t want to miss a molecule.

She declares,

“I don’t have to go.”

“Can you try a little more? If not, we need to go back to the room and wait until you can.”

She agrees to keep trying, but is upset about the whole thing and not relaxed at all. I’m sure that isn’t helping.

After I gave birth to BB, I was torn from end to end. I sat on the toilet afraid to ever go again. And I’m talking about urine. They had me relax my jaw, wiggle my tongue and make a “lululululu’ sound. It worked! It’s very hard to keep your crotch clenched if your mouth is completely relaxed.

I offered this hard-earned advice to BB,

“Imitate me, lulululu.”

“Shhh.”

“What? Do it with me. LULULULULU.”

“MOM! SHHH!! They’ll hear you!”

My legs are burning from squatting in front of the toilet. I keep missing precious drops of pee because as soon as BB starts to go at all, she drops her head down to watch, which means I can’t see what I’m doing and pee trickles up my arm. I’m doing everything I can and all I’m succeeding at is embarrassing her.

After 15 minutes in the bathroom, we both regard the urine barely covering the bottom of the sample cup. BB asks,

“Is that enough?”

“I don’t know.”

We exit. I hold out our offering to the powers that be. I whimper,

“Is there any way that this is enough?”

“Oh yeah.”

I have never been so relieved in my life. And thank goodness BB is healthy. She just needs to stay hydrated. She’s never been one to drink enough and my reminders were useless.

Now all I have to say is,

“Make sure you drink, we don’t want to go to the doctor.”

She runs for her water bottle. Maybe out of fear of the urine sample or an embarrassing mom. Or both.

Let them wipe each other’s butts

I can almost taste this vaccine. And it feels like it’s going to be an amazing summer.

When the pandemic started, I had two little people who were determined to fight over anything no matter what. I went with the motto of not negotiating with terrorists.

Then at some point during the slog of this past year, as both kiddos screamed and fought over one puppy stool because the 5 other stools in our home are NOT the same as the puppy stool, I thought to myself: “Maybe life WOULD be better with TWO puppy stools.

I put it in my Amazon cart to think about it, then immediately clicked “buy now.” Sure, I’ll throw $20 at the wall and see if it brings us a little peace.

It did not.

It has proved my initial reaction correct. No negotiating. If they are determined to fight with each other, duplicate items will not appease. I’m better off saving my money for a rainy day or whatever day it is when we go out without our children.

I just read an amazing parenting book. It covered many tactics I’ve read elsewhere, but the way this book put everything together and told me exactly how to do it, really resonated. We’ve made changes and things are looking up.

The book makes the case for few or no toys. I’m not rushing to get rid of everything, but I sure wouldn’t mind scaling back on the gift giving. Why does the Easter Bunny already have a huge bag of gifts in my closet? We don’t have room for what we have. I climb over a trampoline to get to my couch.

And if I thought duplicate items would also be interchangeable. I was very VERY wrong. BB knows which puppy stool is hers and RB is NOT allowed on it.

This post has more all caps than usual. Maybe a reflection of the strong competitive feelings around here.

BB claims she and RB are “besties.” I want to believe that. And considering BB is now willing to change RB’s poopy diapers, maybe it’s true. And don’t get confused. Willing is very different from able.

One theory of the book is that allowing BB to “help” with the dirty diapers today, creates a go getter, self initiator who may, two years from now, wipe RB’s butt all by herself. And if that isn’t parenting success, I don’t know what is.

You’re right. They’re not EXACTLY the same. The original is missing some whiskers. It’s been noted.

I love you people, just don’t touch me while I’m sleeping

Sleeping arrangements around here are flexible. There are numerous options, some more desirable than others. As I was reminded of the other night, when BB’s feet sidled up to my cheek.

When BB was born, I was under the false impression that a crib would be useful. By 5 months old we abandoned even attempting it and she moved into the bed with me. Captain moved to the couch.

From 11 months old to 18 months old, BB slept in her crib. Miracles do happen.

From 18 months to 2.5 years old, we took turns sleeping with BB on a mat on the floor in her room, next to her awesome, car, toddler bed that proved more useless than the crib.

From 2.5 – 3 years old BB slept by herself, in a full-size bed, in her room.

From 3 – 4 years old BB and Captain slept in her full-size bed, in her room.

From 4 until present day, except for Valentine’s Day, BB has slept by herself, in her room, with 3 night lights, the hall light, and many whispers downstairs to see if anyone wants to come up for another snuggle.

When RB was born, I wasn’t messing around. She went straight into our bed.

When she got roly poly, we moved to the mats on the floor. Captain started taking the occasional turn.

And miracle upon miracle, at 15 months old we night weaned and for the last month she has slept by herself in her crib. Praise be.

Captain and me, in our king size bed, with no little people. It’s a real treat. I look forward to it almost as much as I look forward to coffee.

Then BB started begging to sleep with us. I tried to put her off with vague,

“Oh maybe someday.”

“When? What day?”

“We’ll see.”

“Tonight?”

“No.”

“Tomorrow?”

“No.”

“What day? When can I sleep with you?”

“How about Valentine’s Day?”

And that is how I agreed to her sleeping with us again, for ONE romantic night.

We all fell asleep parallel with each other. BB somewhat closer to Captain as he has agreed he can sleep with any of us snuggled up to him. But it turns out he has his limits. Around 1am I hear him grumbling,

“This is ISN’T working!”

BB is so far away from me; I’ve been sleeping so well. I peer over. Captain has all of 3 inches of mattress. He moves BB over. Two hours later: KICK KICK KICK. Feet are pounding into my lower back.

King size beds are big, but not big enough for a 4.5 year old to sleep horizontally with anyone else. I move her body back toward Captain.

I’m fast asleep again. Then WHAM to my face. WHAT IN THE NAME OF?! I wake up ready to fight someone. BB’s feet are at my head. Her face is snuggled up next to Captain’s and they’re both snoring away.

I need my coffee. BB is in heaven. She asks,

“When can I sleep with you guys again?”

“I don’t know.”

“When?”

“Father’s Day.”

She likes to sleep sitting up. You do you baby girl.