Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Trip

For the Christmas holidays my husband David and I decided to go to Texas to visit his family.

We'd fly into Austin, which was cheaper than the closest airport, and then drive for 2 hours to his hometown of Kerrville...

...then ten days later we'd fly to Florida, to see my folks, with a layover in Houston

...then we'd fly home separately, with David leaving a week early to go back to work. I'd take the 13-hour trip (including a two and a half hour layover in Atlanta) home from Florida by myself with the baby, David's golf bag, and a 62-pound suitcase full of Christmas gifts.

What could possibly go wrong?

Did you know that when you book a flight there is a box you can check that reads:

"I am traveling with an emotional support animal"

We will not be traveling with an emotional support animal. We will, in fact, be traveling with the exact opposite of an emotional support animal: a 3-month old baby.

As we arrive in the boarding area for our first flight several of our fellow passengers glare at us with expressions that seem to say:

"Really? You brought a baby? You suck as a person."

Which, fine, I kind of get. No one likes being stuck in front of someone's screaming baby on a long flight and Lord knows there is no hell quite like sitting on an airplane next to a parent who seems to have no idea that flying with a child takes at least a little effort.

For example, on our honeymoon trip, a lady sat her four-year-old next to my husband and then took her seat across the aisle from us. She ignored the kid completely during taxi and takeoff and as soon as we reached cruising altitude she put her tray table down and promptly fell asleep for 2 hours.

She woke up only long enough to tell her son 'I didn't bring anything' when he poked her to ask for a snack. The poor kid stared around confused until my husband reluctantly engaged him in a lengthy tic-tac-toe tournament.

My sister-in-law was once traveling with her four kids from New York to Chicago (a two hour plus flight). The mom and dad sitting across from them with a six-year-old had not brought a single thing with which to entertain him. They sat reading their newspapers and completely ignoring the poor kid, who understandably grew antsier by the minute. Finally, when their son's whining reached its peak the mom looked over to where my always well prepared sister-in-law was sitting and said, "Go over and visit that lady - she's got toys and snacks!"

I think we can all agree that parents such deserve to be thrown from the emergency exit mid-flight.

"But wait!" I want to scream to my fellow passengers as they stare me down, "I am not such a mom! I will make a sincere effort to keep my kid entertained! My husband and I have done a good bit of prep work to make things as easy as possible on the flight! I will not spend any part of the trip trying to get you to acknowledge the adorableness of my son's first plane ride by screaming, 'Who's a big boy on the airplane!!!!' at the top of my lungs while you attempt to watch the in-flight movie! I promise!!!!"

But what good would it do? In the end, I have nothing to offer my fellow travelers but empty promises - because frankly, no amount of preparation can insure that flying will with an infant will go smoothly.

Indeed, during each flight on our itinerary there are...issues.

There are extended bouts of screaming for no discernible reason...there are some unwelcome episodes of nudity on my part when my child employs his patented "crazed piglet" style of nursing...

...there is even a diaper incident requiring a complete wardrobe change for both Snood and myself. Some very sweet fellow passengers offer help and words of support, but most simply try to avoid eye contact while openly praying that we are not on the next leg of their journey.

In the end, we make it to all our destinations and successfully collect lots of Grandparently love and equally important, some fine Christmas loot!

Now safely back at home, all that's left to do is hope that by next year, when it is time to make flight plans once again, we will have forgotten this experience and be ready do it all over again.

And for your sake, all I can hope is that your itinerary and ours do not intersect.

But just in case, could you pack a couple of extra snacks?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shut. In.

Before leaving the hospital my pediatrician advised me not to take my new baby out of the house (no confined spaces with strangers) for at least six weeks.

I could take him for walks to get some fresh air but no stopping: no Starbucks, no video store, no nothing.


By day five, I was becoming deeply shack wacky. Visitors would stop by and I'd beg them for word from the outside,

"You went to the grocery store?? Tell me more! I want details!"

When six weeks finally came (and to be honest I only made it to 4 weeks) (and to be really honest I only made it to 12 days) I bounded out of the house - anxious to be anywhere other than my one-bedroom apartment, which looks out on only a grey stucco wall and the occasional glimpse of my oft-nude 300-pound neighbor-lady.

Out I went! Shopping at the mall! Walks in the park! Mommy and me movies!

Yes, lady at Jamba Juice - my baby is adorable. Thanks!

Well, hello old man at the Grove! You sure do love talking to yourself in a crazy voice, don't you?

It was exhilarating! It was all I pictured motherhood to be.

But then I had a couple of...bad experiences (see Fox.Hen.Grain).

Suddenly, every urge to leave the house had to be weighed against the likelihood of ending up stuck in the bowels of Target with an inconsolable infant - getting helpful advice like "Rub his cheek! He likes that!" from passing strangers.

My resolve to venture past my mailbox waned significantly and I fell back into spending long days on the couch. I reasoned that, rather than risking disaster, Snoods and I would both be happier relaxing on the sofa and indulging our shared passion: non-stop eating.

I even found a solution to the soul-crushing boredom. The solution that has been saving shut-ins like me for a generation: Daytime Television!

Game shows! Talk shows! Soaps! Even lower-rent reality TV than the stuff that's on in primetime!

I watch them all.
I must admit, I can clearly recall mocking my best friend when she began calling me right after her baby was born with daily updates on a show called "Starting Over".

From Wikipedia:
Starting Over was a US reality TV show that follows the lives of women who are experiencing difficulty in their lives and want to make changes, with the help of life coaches

But I'm not mocking anymore.

Instead, I'm sitting for hours on end with my hair piled on top of my head eating yesterday's pizza for breakfast, wearing stained sweatpants and absorbing Elizabeth Hasselbeck's thoughts on why Sarah Palin is justified in murdering wolves from the air and/or trying to figure out whether Zack really shot Josh intentionally to get Kendall the heart she needed for her transplant surgery.

During each break from programming, the same television commercials roll by in a seemingly endless loop:

Children's toys

Weight Loss Schemes

Depression Management

It doesn't take me long to realize that I am now a solid member of one of daytime television's target demographics -


(The other, of course, being the elderly homebound).
Which may seem depressing to you, sitting out there is the real world and judging me as I once judged. But I'm telling you, life on the's not half bad once you accept your fate.

There's a FULL DAY OF HOT TOPICS coming up on 'The View' and then next week, I get to find out whether or not that killer guy will find Sami and Rafe hiding out at that abandoned convent!

Plus, if I can only convince my husband to get me one of those neato chair lifts I won't have to walk up and down the stairs anymore.

Look forward to hearing about fireman sawing me off my couch in next week's edition!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fox. Hen. Grain.

In case you are not familiar:

Having a baby is like constantly living inside of this riddle. For me, this is particularly bad news as I have never been able to make sense of the whole farmer, fox, grain, hen situation.

Logic problems and I = natural enemies.

Which brings me to one week before Christmas.

I wake up in a panic - realizing that if I don't mail our presents out TODAY I will arrive in Texas to visit my husband's family empty handed (because adding a baby to our itinerary has somehow managed to increase the number of suitcases we travel with from one to FOUR and thus there is no room for presents).

I briefly contemplate explaining to my in-laws that I have given them "the gift of life" in the form of one extremely chubby grandson, but having gone to the effort to schlep a load of gifts back from our Honeymoon in Turkey I determine I must dole them out on Christmas as planned.

I need to start wrapping so baby needs to go somewhere stationary. How about the exersaucer? (aptly dubbed by a friend of my sister's "the circle of parental neglect").

This "toy" is recommended, incidentally, for children ages 5 mos. and up. Snoods is only 12 weeks old but as I'm pressed for time I determine that he is exceptionally mature for his age and that "requires head control" is a subjective criteria.

I manage to get something like 24 gifts wrapped and boxed in about 12 minutes (with apologies to the recipients who likely suspect me of cutting corners by allowing my baby to wrap said gifts himself).

Off to the post office.

OBSTACLE ONE: I have a box the size of a small refrigerator filled with gifts.

OBSTACLE TWO: I need to get to the Post Office along with a purse. a diaper bag, a stroller, a car seat and a baby.

OBSTACLE THREE: It is raining. It is pouring. The old man - you get the point.

So add umbrella to the list. Then immediately subtract umbrella realizing that it is the only negotiable item of the six. (As a side note, when I mentioned this choice to my sister-in-law who had 4 kids in 6 years she told me that she has recently begun carrying an umbrella again now that her oldest is in high school. For the first time in fourteen years.)

So the box goes into the car seat, which fits into the stroller. The diaper bag goes underneath and I carry the baby in one arm while maneuvering the teetering overloaded stroller in the other. I begin to think this is not going to be that bad. I'm ready to walk over and see my friendly neighborhood mailfolk. Until I remember that because of the rain and my lack of umbrella I'll have to drive.

For the record this is how my baby feels about being in the car:

That is not a file photo downloaded from an anonymous internet site. That is my actual baby reacting to being placed in his actual car seat.

I manage to get all of the items in question into the car and off we go. I turn up the radio in an attempt to soothe/drown out Snood's forced-restraint induced nervous breakdown and make it in record time.

There is no parking at the Post Office and the rain is getting worse.

I could try to wait it out but by now the Snood has reached extreme core meltdown status in the back seat so time's a wastin'. I find a spot at a meter a block and a half from the Post Office and begin the process of digging through the seats for change (having decimated my husband's careful system of separating the coins by denomination in the appropriate holder trays on a mad dash, without wallet, through the McDonald's drive-through the day before). I hop out of the car and feed the meter.

Back to the car. Now, rolling the box in the car seat while carrying the baby is no longer viable because I have no umbrella. And so I have to make a choice. Box or baby.

I choose box because frankly there's no real upside to having a baby in a post office with nothing to mail.

I throw the box into the stroller and go careering down the block.

Thinking of my baby still melting down in the back seat sends a series of news stories flashing through my mind:

I'm soaking wet by the time I make it to the front door of the Post Office. I run inside and heave the box out of the car seat into the middle of the lobby. I'm vaguely aware of someone shouting "You can't leave that here!" as I make a break for the car - all the while composing the story I will tell to the Child Protective Services officer who will clearly be waiting for me, "You see, ma'am, my husband promised me he would help me do this last weekend..."

But, when I reach the Snood he has miraculously stopped crying! That is, until I pull him out of the car and put him into his cold and drenched car seat. He is seriously pissed off and the wailing begins anew. But there's no time to soothe! I bolt for the Post Office while attempting to press the button to lock the car doors, all the while hoping the suspicious package I left behind has not already been denotated by the bomb squad.

It is then that I pass a woman on the street who looks at my screaming passenger and says helpfully, "Baby's getting wet." I long to stop and murder her but unfortunately I have neither a weapon nor a free hand.

In the Post Office several customers watch me indifferently as I struggle to open the door and get the carriage in the door. Their looks of disdain fall upon me as I try to soothe my drenched baby while kicking my now sodden and collapsing package of gifts through the line behind them.

I get up to front of the line and Myra, the Postal Worker sent for me by Jesus, comes around to help me lift my package onto the scale. She checks me out and forty-two dollars later my errand is done.

Myra looks at me with a sweet and baldly pitying glance and says, "First baby, hun?"

Yes, Myra, first baby. How did you know?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day

So I’m starting a blog.  Because my New Year’s Resolution is to be more annoying.

When I told my friend Robert I was thinking of starting a blog he said with real sadness in his voice,

“Oh God, it’s not going to be mommy humor, is it?”

I cannot assure you that this blog will be entirely devoid of mommy humor.

What I will promise is that this blog will not consist solely of hilarious anecdotes regarding the consistency of my baby’s poop and/or lengthy musings on the myriad joys of the wipes warmer. This would, I recognize, be wrong.

For all of us.

My baby, by the way, is this person:

We call him Snoodlebug the Doodlebear Count of Cuddleville, but you can call him Snood.  He is 3 months old and although his shirt is slightly obscured in this photo, it nonetheless delivers a simple message of truth:  He Picked the Best Mommy.  Or perhaps the most easily confused and disorganized mommy - that onesie was not available for sale as of press time.

Anyway, welcome to blog.

Unfortunately for you and your appetite for parental despair related fun-time musings I am currently on vacation with my family in Florida.  This means I have almost a dozen people helping me with the baby and thus have no real news to report.  

I'll think I'll go have a margarita and get back in the hot tub.

Stay tuned.  And Happy New Year.