Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I love this country. The United States of America. It's a name that's associated with words like "freedom", "justice", "opportunity", "equality". But those titles come at a price.

Growing up, our church would do a special patriotic service over 4th of July weekend every year. I always loved that program. The songs, the fireworks, all the red, white, and blue. But as I got older, I started to become overwhelmed with emotion each year as the service men and women would come parading onto the stage in their uniforms. I had an eerie sense of awareness of the price so many have paid to build our great nation.

I have seen photographs from wars past and present. The faces of those who fight and have fought to defend our freedom. And I think what gets me so choked up is that they're people, Americans, just like me or my neighbor, or my best friend. They don't have a special genetic code that predetermines they'll be the one to fight for this country. They're not part of a robot army built in an underground bunker. They have families, dreams, goals, problems, feelings, love... just like all of us do. Only they've chosen to put themselves aside for something that is so much bigger than any one of us. And in doing so, many have made the ultimate sacrifice.

This morning I put two small American flags in my garden. Afterwards, Kyra asked me why I'd done that. I began to explain to her the reason for Memorial Day in "3 year old terms". It's amazing how striping things down to their simplest form for the sake of a child can impact a grown up. My husband and I both fought back tears as I explained the sacrifice many have made so that Kyra can go to church or wear shorts or eat at Chick-fil-a. I know she didn't fully grasp all that I was saying, but I did.

I wish I could personally hug and thank each and every person and all the family members of those who are serving or have served in our military. But since I can't, I'll just do the things I can, like never taking my freedom for granted and celebrating Memorial Day in their honor.

On that note, here are a few pictures from our Memorial Day weekend:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to MEEEEE!

This year all I wanted for Mother's Day was to get my hair done. Okay, that's not entirely true. I wanted flowers and to be allowed to sleep in and to have someone else make my meals all day long. But I MOSTLY wanted to get my hair done.

I have beautiful, thick hair. I get complimented on it all the time. Every hair stylist I've ever had raves about it and some even claim to envy it. But that's before they realize that it takes almost a full 3 hours to foil, wash, cut, and dry it. (he he) Which is one of the reasons I wanted to have my hair done for my "Mother's Day" present. Getting my hair highlighted and cut equals a few hours of me sitting in a chair being pampered. It's oh. so. nice.

My very observant husband had a gift card to a local salon sitting on the tray when he and my girls served me breakfast in bed on Mother's Day and today I got to cash it in. I decided not to do anything too drastic with the cut, just added some long bangs and a few layers, and then I had some subtle highlights put in. As soon as I got home, Jim commented on how refreshed (and totally hot) I looked. And I felt both. I think I might ask to get my hair done again for my Columbus Day present. :)



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just Another Day

I haven't blogged in months. And as much as I don't want to taint my return to the blogging world with overwhelming amounts of insanity, it just so happens that insanity is the particular phase of life I'm living in right now.

Not following? Don't worry, you'll get it. Just read on....

I spent the last 3 days writing out the various moments of craziness on our trip home from Tulsa only to wake up this morning to maneuver through another round of insanity.

The moment I wake up this morning I realize that for the 14,598th day in a row (ok, I'm slightly exaggerating) my allergies are going berserk. Nose running, countless sneezes, itchy throat, you get the picture. I make my way to the medicine cabinet to find I am down to one. single. Benadryl. With my allergies, that will only get me through breakfast.

N.B.D. (Mom, that means no big deal - I know how you are with abbreviations.)

I'm planning to take the girls to see Jim for lunch today, per our standard Thursday arrangement, so I'll just hop over to Walmart and pick some up while I'm out.

I get the girls fed and dressed before they go play in Kyra's room. I'm bustling about throwing in laundry, yada, yada, when I notice the girls are sitting so cute reading their Beginner's Bible. As I come in the room, Kylie looks up at me with her big blue eyes and chipmunk cheeks. Those cheeks (seen very frequently around here) mean that Kylie has once again put something in her mouth that she shouldn't have. By the looks of the half missing page out of the Bible, I can tell what it is even before I fish hook it out of her mouth. Silly Kylie. I guess we haven't gotten to the scripture that explains the appropriate place to hide God's Word is your heart, not your stomach.

I soon discover that despite the fact that I'm in a sundress, I'm profusely sweating from doing the dishes. Hmmm... that's not normal. I check the thermostat.

It reads 79.5 degrees.
Inside my house.
At 10:00 in the morning.

I head down to the basement and check all the "right places" to make sure everything is the way it should be. I see nothing out of the ordinary which means the problem must be something out of the ordinary. Super.

I make a call to the company that we've used in the past for service in hopes that a little annual maintenance will cause things to cool down a bit. They tell me they can come out between noon and five, so I cancel our weekly lunch with daddy and sit around our steamy house to wait.

I can tell the heat is starting to get to us because we're all irritable and whiny (yes, me too). Kylie decides she want's to color and I decide, for some crazy reason, that I'm going to hang some pictures on the wall that have been patiently waiting to be hung since January. I can see Kylie out of the corner of my eye sitting at her table coloring away. I get the first picture up and reach for the second. When I turn back around, Kylie is gone. I have this sneaky feeling she's coloring on something she shouldn't be, so I race to find her. The first thing I see when I spot her? Chipmunk cheeks. With orange drool coming out the corners of her mouth. Ugh.

I scoop her up and take her to the kitchen sink where I swab out an entire orange crayon that has been very thoroughly chewed. The crowns of her teeth all have huge chunks of the crayon stuck in them, so I end up having to use a toothbrush to scrub it all out of her teeth. She's eaten crayons before (wow, I sound like a super observant parent), but this was the worst incident to date. Had my husband seen it, he probably would've thrown up in his mouth a little bit. (He has "issues" with messy kids.)

Kylie is a wreck from the intense teeth brushing session, so I put her down for a nap. About 45 minutes later, the HVAC maintenance man shows up and starts checking everything out. Two HOURS later.... he says to me, "It's not good. You're going to need a new compressor or you might want to just replace the whole unit. Not what you want to hear, I know."

No, Mr. Maintenance Man, it's not at all what I wanted to hear.

He says he did a very temporary fix, but it won't get the house nearly cool enough to be comfortable. The only thing he can do now (besides take my credit card) is schedule a time for one of their sales guys to come out and quote us on the compressor or new unit. I ask him for a ballpark figure, but he says he can't give me one. He does, however, give me a coupon for $500.00 off a new unit. My IQ isn't at genius level, but I'm pretty sure anything that can afford a $500.00 discount isn't cheap. Oh joy.

As soon as he leaves, I gather up the kids and head out the door. If the house isn't going to get much cooler than 82.5 degrees downstairs (upstairs was even warmer), I'm going to at least enjoy the fully functioning A/C in my van as I run around.

We stop at Jim's office so he can say a quick "hello" to the girls and so I can record the store closing message for Memorial Day. We then head to Wal-mart so I can pick up my now seriously needed allergy medicine. I end up buying 2 boxes of popsicles and 2 cartons of ice cream. That's how I temporarily fix a broken A/C.

We stop at my sis-in-loves to pick up some pots and then head back to the house strictly so I can put the frozen treats in the freezer. I don't even get the girls out of the oh-so-heavenly cool van. The way I see it if we can stay out until bedtime it will make the rest of our afternoon much more tolerable.

Our next stop is Becker's, a teacher's store. I realize as soon as we get there that my stroller is sitting in my garage, so I'm going to have to carry Kylie around. Just as I suspected, Kylie does NOT want to be carried. The second we set foot in the store she start's flailing and screaming to be put down. Kyra quickly finds her way to a little play area in the store and I convince myself that Kylie will be fine if I put her down in the play zone.

Not so much.

She SPRINTS around the entire perimeter of the store before going through the employee break room into the private "employee only" bathroom. The two employees behind the counter just stare in silence as I emerge carrying a screaming Kylie. I didn't buy anything. I didn't even look for what I came to look for. I was totally stressed out.

But there was still too much daylight left for us to head home. So I hit up Old Navy (since I KNOW they have shopping carts I could use to restrain my child) and both girls were fairly well behaved while we were there. It gave me a false sense of confidence that we could handle stopping for dinner on the way home.

Normally I'd just swing through the drive thru at Chick-fil-a, but seeing that I didn't want to eat at home (or in the car) and that I would have to go in somewhere to eat, I decided to go to a sit down restaurant. It would take longer than fast food, so according to my calculations, it could be our last stop and we'd make it home just in time for bed. This was a major lapse in logic.

We get seated and meet our server who announces that it's his first night training and to "go easy on him". As he's asking for our drink order, Kylie dives head first over the back of our booth into the vacant one behind us. I hop up to swing her back around to our side and as I sit back down in our booth one of the straps on my sundress breaks. I quickly put my hand over the top of my dress (afterall, I'm not wearing a bra because it was just too darn hot for that) and spit out "bring us 2 chocolate milks and a coke zero". He backs away, embarrassed, and I scoop up both girls and the diaper bag and make a beeline for the restroom. It's only 15 feet away, but it felt like it were 15 miles.

I lock us in the handicapped stall and survey the damage to my strap. I realize it broke in a way that I could tie the two parts back together just so it would keep my dress up while we ate our dinner. Despite Kylie climbing all over me in the booth, I hardly moved for fear the knot I had tied would slip and I'd repeat the embarrassing moment all over again. A little over an hour later, we emerged from the restaurant, knot still in tact.

When we got home the house had cooled down to a lovely 78 degrees, so I bathed the girls (who were super sticky and stinky), put them to bed, and settled in to record this crazy day here on my blog. As I write this, storm clouds have moved in and the temperature outside and inside has dropped dramatically. For the first time today I'm comfortable sitting in my house. So now I'm gonna go ruin it and go for a run. That's insane, you say? Well, like I said, insane is all I know right now. And I'm getting pretty good at it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Longest Day of My Life

One month ago today I had the longest. day. of. my. life.

I had just spent an AMAZING week in Tulsa with my family, but the time had come to pack up my girls and return home. They've both been traveling by plane since they were a couple months old and had been SO great on our trip down. Despite having to say goodbye to my family, I was in good spirits and very optimistic for our return trip home.

Before we even checked in at the airport, we ran into our first bump in the road. I had borrowed a portable DVD player from a friend in PA and had forgotten to charge it the night before. We had stopped at my sister's house so that my kids could burn off some energy before being stuck on a plane for several hours. I took this opportunity to charge the DVD player while we were there because, on the plane movies are what keep us from climbing up the walls (or all over random strangers seated near us). After an hour of playing, we said goodbye to my sister and went to the airport. As SOON as we arrived I realized the the DVD player was still sitting on my sister's counter. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! I tried calling to see if she could bring it to me, but there was no answer. My dad, quickly dropped us off and then headed back to my sister's house to get it. I was nervous. I needed that DVD player. I was staking the entire outcome of my travel day on it. My dad arrived in the nick of time DVD player in hand. I was saved. My day would turn out great after all. Or so I thought.

We made it through security and to our gate just a couple minutes before they began boarding. We jumped on the plane, found our seats and were ready for take off. Only... due to inclement weather, Chicago wasn't ready for us. So we sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes and I did my best to entertain the girls. Once we finally took off, things started going our way. Kylie fell asleep for half the flight and Kyra was perfectly content to color and watch movies. We landed in Chicago and I instantly planned out every minute of our scheduled hour and a half layover. When you're traveling alone with 2 toddlers, you've got to have a plan.

Stop #1 - The bathroom. Where I asked Kyra 57 times if she needed to go potty to which she replied "NO!" every time. So... we moved on.
Stop #2 - Food. I got the girls some pizza, found a table and got us all situated. Both girls were out of the stroller. I had cut and served them each a slice and was about to sit down myself when Kyra announced, "Mommy, I have to go pee pee".


I threw both girls back in the stroller, loaded up all our carry on luggage on my back and scooped up the pizza in one hand. I ran like a crazy person in the most logical direction for a restroom and got lucky my instincts had been correct. I pulled up in front of a stall, got Kyra out, pants down, and on the potty just barely in time. Whew.

Stop #4 - Back to the food court. Where I ate (choked down) the WORST sandwich ever. When we finished Kylie started chanting "bink, bink". I began searching all our belongings for her little pink pacifier that I KNOW had been at the table with us the FIRST time we sat down to eat. It was gone. I had a very vivid mental image of it sitting on our first lunch table which was now occupied by a couple of pilots. But the bink was not there. I retraced my crazy trail back to the bathrooms, but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, I always travel with an extra bink, just. in. case. Way to go Kesh. Way to be prepared.

Stop #5 - Our gate. All was well. We had survived the airport layover and were boarding our flight to Philadelphia.

The last passenger boarded and I began to breathe easier and prep for the flight home. But then all of a sudden.... "I'm sorry ladies and gentlemen, but this flight to Philadelphia has been cancelled. Please gather all your belongings and deplane. You can visit the rebooking centers located in this terminal to find another flight."


I had been holding it together all day, so in the chaos of the moment a few tears finally were able to push their way through my solid demeanor and down my cheeks. I had to quickly gather everything back together and then convince Kyra to get off the plane. She didn't understand what was happening and she just kept repeating, "I don't want to get off the plane. I want to go home and see daddy and Chay Chay!" It broke my heart. It was so tough trying to explain to her what was happening and than another airplane would take us to daddy.

Kyra finally relented and we got off the plane and set out to find one of the dreaded rebooking stations. We found it fairly quickly thanks to the noticeably long line of stranded passengers in front of it. I got in line and gave the girls lollipops as a bribe to keep them in the stroller. After standing in the line for a few minutes it hit me like a ton of bricks that there was a HUGE banner over top with an 800 number to call for rebooking. I didn't need to stand in line to use one of these "special red rebooking phones". I could call the number from my handy dandy cell phone. Duh. Why this hadn't occurred to the mass of people in front of me I do not know, but I wasn't going to hang around to find out.

I got through immediately and began the process of finding another flight home. It wasn't easy. The next available flight on American wasn't for another 26 hours. Yeah.... that wasn't going to cut it AT ALL. So we tried other airlines. Nothing. So we tried the next closest airport in NJ. Nada. So I asked what the NEXT next closest airport was after that and she said Harrisburg. "OK", I said, "check that." There was a flight scheduled to depart at 7:35 pm with available seats. That was only 4 hours from now, so I told her to book it. Four. more. hours. I could do this.

I immediately went back into planning mode to ensure that the next 4 hours would pass by quickly. We found an information booth and got directions to the kid's play area in another terminal. On our long walk to the play area, I asked Kyra another 34 times if she needed to use the potty. And again she said no every time. So I let both girls loose in the fenced in kid's zone. Five minutes later......."MOMMY I NEED TO GO POTTY!" Of course she did.

I could see the bathroom from where we were, but what I couldn't see was Kylie. I quickly maneuvered my way through the tunnels and snatched her up so we could race to the bathroom. We made it. We looked like a crazy parade, but we made it.

We played until dinner time and then made our way to a different food court. We grabbed food, found a table, and began to eat. Kyra immediately spilled her entire jug of milk all over the floor and the shoes of the couple sitting next to us. But there's no use crying over spilled milk, so we got on with our evening.

It was now about 45 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off so we headed to our gate. I made sure Kylie had her bink in her mouth as we left the food court, but somehow as soon as we pulled in to our gate, it was no longer there. It was close to the girls bedtime and they'd had a very eventful day, so Kylie was especially whiny. I turned us around and carefully retraced our exact route back to the food court. Twice. But my super clever back up bink was now also gone.

I bought a two pack of pacifiers at the nearest news stand. But they weren't the same shape or texture Kylie is used to, so she kept spitting them out and then immediately would scream "want bink!". It was frustrating. But not nearly as frustrating as the fact that in the time I'd been on my bink hunt, our flight time had gotten bumped back a half hour.

And then they changed our gate.

And then when we got to that gate they pushed our flight time back another hour.

So we returned to the kid's play zone. And we did the whole "Kyra do you need to potty?" questioning routine again. But this time it ended differently. A few minutes into our playing time she came up to me and said, "mommy, I peed in my panties." O.K.

We went back to the bathroom and changed her clothes. Then back to the play area. Then a few minutes later, Kylie pooped in her diaper, so we were once again back in our bathroom. And then back to the play area. There I realized my phone battery was getting very low. It was after 9:00 at night. Our flight to Harrisburg was the ONLY possible way we would make it home. And it kept getting delayed. I had already accepted the fact that there was a good chance we weren't going to get out of Chicago that night. And we'd have to spend the night without any luggage, or my phone charger, and repeat this day all over again tomorrow. It was so disheartening. I was exhausted and there wasn't a clear end in sight.

But I put on my happy face and loaded the girls once again into the stroller and headed back to our terminal. Our gate had changed again. And so had the flight time. So we grabbed a snack and waited.

Our gate changed one more time. And the flight time got bumped back another 20 minutes. So with the help of a stranger, I found a place to sit and put a movie on the trusty DVD player for the girls as we continued to wait. The gentlemen who had helped us to our little waiting area offered to let me use his iPhone charger so I could charge my phone just in case. His small kind gestures gave me hope that we would still make it home that night. And moments later, our flight began to board.


We were at the bulkhead on this flight, so at least I knew we'd be the first ones off when we landed. As soon as the flight attendant closed the door, Kyra said those 6 dreaded words, "mommy, I have to go potty." "Can you hold it?", I asked. "No." So I flagged down the flight attendant and asked her if we could use the bathroom REALLY FAST. She called the captain to tell him we needed to potty and then said, "ok, go!" Holding Kylie in front of me and dragging Kyra behind me, we sprinted down the center aisle to the bathroom. The light wouldn't come on, so I had the door barely cracked but was mostly helping Kyra by feel in the dark. She finished. I grabbed a handi-wipe and we ran back to our seats.

Then Kylie started chanting, "bink, bink!" It had been in her mouth during our sprint back to the bathroom, so I guess it had to at least be somewhere on the plane. We were already taxiing to the runway, so I called the flight attendant (again) and asked if she could look for it. She returned a few minutes later with the bink and a handful of alcohol wipes. "It was on the floor in front of the toilet. You may want to use these", she said. "Thanks."

As we turned onto the runway for take off, both girls fell asleep, one on each arm. Ten minutes into the flight my arms were aching. But I didn't care. We were on our way HOME! Finally. I even managed to drift off for a while myself until I felt the plane begin to descend. Yessssssssssssss. We were almost there.

All of a sudden both girls woke up in a screaming and crying stupor. Their ears were popping and they were completely delusional as to their whereabouts. We had only just begun our descent so I did my absolute best to do EVERYTHING I could to calm them down so the hundred other sleeping passengers on the flight wouldn't hate me. But it was no use. There was NO calming them down. They were just too EX.HAUST.ED. and confused. (It was around 1:00 am now.) So for the next 20 minutes, through the rest of the descent, landing, and taxiing to the gate, I held my two hysterical little girls on my lap.

The millisecond the seat belt sign was off, I was up and frantically grabbing all our carryon bags while still trying to hold both kids. In the midst of it all I realized I was the only one standing on the entire plane. Not even the guy on the very last row was about to get up until my girls and I were successfully off the plane. I could feel every eye sizing up our chaos and I assumed they were all judging me. Until a man behind me jumped up and said very simply,

"Can I carry something for you?"

Those 6 words oozed with compassion. And as soon as I heard them I burst into tears. I was sobbing uncontrollably as I replied, "yes. could you carry these bags?" Then all of a sudden, as if my tears had set a storm in motion, people began popping up out of their seats left and right and rushing to my aid. Another gentleman offered to wait at the bottom of the jet bridge for my stroller so I could take the girls up to the gate. Women were offering to carry my kids. People were pouring out comments of compassion. One lady was emptying her purse trying to find something that would entertain my still hysterically crying children.

It was a sight. I mean a real neck breaking train wreck. But just knowing that these strangers felt sorry for us rather than annoyed at us made me feel a little bit better and I began to calm down. Long enough to realize that my being calm was causing the girls to calm down. So even though I knew there were more tears that needed to be shed, I forced them back for my girls sake.

My husband was waiting for us in the van and I sent him in to get our luggage. We loaded the girls and all our stuff and as we began to drive away Jim said, "It's okay. You can cry now."

So I did.

I cried harder than I have in years, maybe ever. In fact, I cried so hard it caused Jim to cry. So for a while we just cried as we drove toward home in the rain. And as strange as it may sound, it was a very special moment between us.

We finally made it home and got the girls in their beds just before 2:30 am. It had been a long day. The longest day of my life. And writing it all down in this blog made me realize just how long it really was. It took me 3 days to write it all out. So I hope it didn't take you more than 2 days to read it.

How come the totally amazing fun days aren't the ones that drag on forever?