Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Whoas and wows

Should I start with the good or the bad?

Never mind, good always wins.

We are in Washington d.c., our nations Capitol!!!!!!!

How amazing is that?

So far we haven't done much more than hit up Costco, but still, this is great!

We drove up today and it was a stressful drive. My husband and my sister in law are Champion drivers but us island folk are just not used to these east coast roads and traffic. Plus, bad drivers wreck even the most perfect trip.

I would say they should be shot but I am often a poor driver(tonite I ran a red light, flipped a u, and forgot to turn on my headlights at 12:30am) so instead I will beg you to pray for them instead. I don't think they mean to ruin driving for the rest of us.

So, we made it in one piece and we are staying at the most amazing row house on capitol hill. It sleeps 30 people and we have it almost maxed out. My father in laws family has come together from around the nation to celebrate his amazing life, impact on our lives and to mourn the hole he has left behind.

So that's good.

One more good thing, and I am over the moon that I can type the following sentence, it's just that good.

I went to a sports bar to watch the bears game at 10 at night with an 80 yr old nun who served in the Vatican and drank us under the table.

So many amazing things in that sentence right? First, I went to a sports bar. We couldn't get the game at the row house and it's filled with die hard Chicago bears fans so I offered to be the dd. At 10 at night because there were still 10 people at the house who could be responsible for my sleeping children. That's an opportunity that doesn't come around very often.

Second, the nun is my husbands great aunt and an outstanding lady. She drinks this vanilla vodka and ginger ale drink that tastes like ice cream. It was easy to drink me under the table because I had soda, but seriously, she held her own against my husband and his brother and that's saying something.

Here comes the bad and the ugly. There are rat and raccoon traps around the house and I am seven steps past jumpy and probably won't be able to sleep for fear of furries coming to get me.

Irrational - yes.

But it's still happening.

Anthane ugly.

We have now officially hit the stressed/sad/overwhelming part of the trip. The family drama began at the bar tonite and it is hovering over like a dark cloud waiting to unload in the morning. My husband and I have both not been sleeping well so we're on edge and out of sorts. This made me a bad mom yesterday and him a bad dad today. We regained some points by apologizing to our sons but it still sucks that as adults we can let our emotions take control like that.

My sons are behaving like angels for the most part but every bed time has been a nightmare. Its a messy dance of bathroom and water needs, toy and brotherly distractions, fighting, playing and the inevitable "he whipped me in the nuts." I dread 9pm like no other time that I have ever encountered.

Why is it bad to drug your kids again? Please refresh my memory.

The tension is so thick and the stress is so intense. I really hope we can leave it behind and try to make the most of this opportunity to view our nations history. I am still in pieces over stuff from my own side of the family and with one of my sons so I am holding it together the best that I can. I don't think I'm succeeding.

There you have it. Well, little tidbits any ways, of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Right now it's after 1 in the morning and the nun is counseling my husband and brother in law outside. Some of the other fearsome forces in our family are still going strong downstairs. I think I better hit the hay in my room upstairs with double bunk beds that sleep 6 and where we will fit 7and try to get some semblance of rest and hopefully improve my behavior tomorrow.

Stay tuned to see how this soap opera unfolds. Family that read this, please don't call me out and get me in trouble for blog gossiping.

Want to share your family soap opera so we can commiserate?

P.s. I should also tell you two more fun facts.

1. We fit 8 people in a 7 car van. Someone said, "this is going to be an awkward ride home." when the argument began at the bar. I said, "it can't get much more awkward, youre riding in the trunk."

2. I already forgot what I was going to type here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tripping so far

Well we've been successfully tripping it for almost a week so I figured that I should check in with the blogosphere.

Things are going great in Virginia. I know my view is probably skewed because I am here during my favorite time of the year, delirious from all the yummy food (why has no one ever given me cheesecake from cheesecake factory before??!), and blindsided by my children's angelic yet auditorily impaired behavior but...I swear I could move here and live happily after. It helps that the worlds greatest sister in law lives in the area too, I'm not gonna lie.

All that aside, we've been having a wild time. Did I already tell you that we rode a surrey beside the guineas book of world records longest recreational beach? That's right folks, a bicycle fit for 6 that we fit 7 onto and successfully maneuvered for at least 10 minutes on a boardwalk beside the Atlantic ocean. I know, we are the coolest tripping family around.

We went to the last of the original coast guard stations (there were 5 and they started out as the life saving stations but later changed their name). It was educational and the retired coastie who gave us our tour was a little something extra special. Made me smile!

We went to the weirdest aquarium. It had a lot of cool stuff but was impossible to find your way around. It also had tons of buttons and interactive displays surrounding the wildlife. Cool right? Or perhaps too cool since it meant my sons were so into pressing buttons that they missed out on excitement like sharks swimming over their heads and other fishy moments. There were also a lot of non fishy creatures for an aquarium. Bugs, snakes, crocodiles, Komodo dragon, otters etc... Sort of stole the show. We Waited for like 10 minutes to touch a stingray and then when we were finally patient enough to have one get close my oldest chickened out.

Oh well.

There was also a squirrel which taught me something new. I had a bit of an issue with the squirrel. Everyone got a good laugh as i climbed On top of a railing to escape the cute fuzzy squirrel.

But here's the thing, I Did not want to be touched by the squirrel. I managed to avoid both squealing and crying, so think what you will, I considered myself to be a model of good behavior.

We went to Nauticus today. It's a navel museum and I convinced everyone to go because there was this labyrinth exhibit (there was a heated debate between this and a corn maze) Turns out it had the USS Wisconsin, a very impressive battleship that served in world war 2 and desert storm. I was in awe and utterly wordless as we explored the nooks and crannies of this giant ship. I cannot imagine what being at war and fighting for your country must be like. It was thought provoking and then some.

However again with the random animals! At the navy museum my sons touched a shark, a horseshoe crab (which is more closely related to the scorpion. Did you know?), a snake, and a bearded dragon lizard. I know, I know, it is now officially ranking as best trip/vacation ever!

It is both a good and bad thing that we saved the Atlantis labyrinth for last. It sucked. And that's being kind. It was a poorly lit path with ridiculous games and trivia that did not have any part Of the labyrinth. I get that it was geared at kids but unless they are under the age of never been born I don't think they'd be too into it. So good that it was last or we may not have seen anything else after such a huge let down. Bad because talk about ending on a low note! It was as low as a labyrinth could go.

Tonight we ate at chipotle and my mouth was so tingly from the spiciness that I wanted to cry. I sucked it up and pretended to be an adult and ate my food that i really didn't want to. In other words I pretended that I could behave like an adult at a restaurant instead of the picky petulant child that I usually unleash during times of sustenance. (p.s. Everyone else liked it so do not consider my personal opinion to be valid in any way)

Afterwards we got dessert from cheesecake factory. I need to let everyone who knows about this place and knows me to know that I am extremely disappointed in you!!!!! How could you know about this delectable paradise and know about my cheesecake obsessions and aspirations and not put the two together? Shame on you, just shame. Thank you to my sister in law for restoring balance to the world and changing my life forever with each delicious bite.

Tomorrow my husband is taking our sons to play laser tag for their first time ever. I'm telling you now that it will be epic and at least one person will cry. I can just tell these things. Im cool like that.

Have you had any huge vacation let downs? Ever visited somewhere and been ready to pack your bags and move there forever?

P.s. In case you were wondering, Tripping sounded more fun to me than vacationing so just go with it.

P.p.s. Remind me to tell you about acting as an interpreter and the auditory disasters that my sons have provided during this trip.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, (I mean that in the good contented sighing way, not the screaming while gouging out my eyes way)

Today my sons and I slept in until 11, with the whole 6th time difference thing I was pretty impressed with us.

We are staying at my sister in laws house in Virginia and let me tell you, it's amazing!! Her house is lovely and quiet and calm and cool and pretty and it's better than staying in a hotel. She cooks and cleans for us and we get to hang out with her. But, she's mine and I'm not sharing so don't think that you can capotilize on her awesomeness any time soon.

After brunch we headed to Target. If you live on Maui then Target is one of the first places you go whenever you grace the mainland with your presence. Other islanders are nodding in agreement right now, the rest of you will just have to trust me. I know you're worried about me taking 3 boys shopping on vacation but trust me, they loved it more than me. Several ninjas, some shorts, Halloween costume supplies and one ski mask later we declared our first target trip a success:)

Then it was off to the zoo, item number 4 on my youngests list of what he was most excited to see on vacation (the first 3 items were people so this ranking is significant) the zoo was also amazing!!! It wasn't large, we ambles thru it in just a few hours. We saw animals with minimal hunting to find them hiding in dark corners, had zero stress because it was beautifully laid out so you were guaranteed not to miss anything, and ever one of us in attendance learned new things.

Armadillos are mammals, giraffes have blue tongues and can dig their noses with them, brachiation in the term for when monkeys swing around by their arms and it can be done at 35mph, tapirs are much larger than you might think, moon bears have a moon shaped white crest on their chests, and river hogs do not live by rivers or water of any kind.

Each one of those facts plus many more sparked imaginative conversations with my sons. It was a seriously pleasant day.

Oh and did I mention zero meltdowns!!!!!!!!!! Well at least not until bedtime. How's that for success?

I know I live in paradise but as my oldest son pointed out today, "it's nice to take a break from everything" I am loving all that Virginia has to offer and can't wait to share more of our adventures.

How about you, does it ever feel good to leave a place you love behind for awhile?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Then the trip happened

What a ride! I tell you, I live on the edge!

As in literally, I was on edge every moment of our travels fro the last 24 hrs. I know you're dying for the nitty gritty details so have no fear, I am about to unveil them all.

Our trip started off okay, it took double the time it should to get through ticketing because their computers went down and then they had a very difficult time figuring out how to get me, my sons and our luggage all through 4 flights in a row. Thanks to my good friends at united my baggage fees were waived and my sons and I were bumped up to economy plus.

If you read my post on travels past then you'll know that I consider the seats next to the bathroom to be the airplane sweet spot.

Not anymore.

Have you flown economy plus? Say hello and welcome to extra leg room. Side perk, we were right next to the front of the plane bathroom, you know the one no one uses? And that bathroom had a drinking station built into it's door. It was an entirely new definition of airplane sweet spot.

The only downer on this first flight was our seat cushions. You know how they can be used as a flotation device in case of emergency blah, blah, blah...?

Yeah, well mine and my oldest sons were floating already. They were unattached to the rest of the seat for some reason and annoyingly made you float right out of your seat on a regular basis. This in itself would not be that big of a downer except that when I asked a flight attendant for assistance (quite kindly I assure you) he said, "well ma'am I'm not an engineer."

Because it's my fault he assigned me broken seats I guess? No apology, no help, just an irate statement. Besides that we all mostly slept.

Fast forward to arriving in San Francisco at 4 in the morning. It's a wild time of day! I had to wake my kids up and haul them off the plane. Then they played happily with their new toys until we got on the next plane. This part of the trip was probably my favorite because my sons slept through most of it and because the flight attendants fell in love with my sleeping sons and kept gushing over their amazing behavior. I beamed and patted myself on the back tthen dutifully pointed out that they were just sleeping and everyone might be afraid if they were awake. But no, these lovely ladies assured me that they could just tell I keep my kids in line (hahahaaha). Then we discussed my ridiculous flight pattern and they gave me all sorts of extremely helpful advice that made it possible for me to maneuver sea tac without stress. It was a minor miracle.

But oh the next flight! First off I should mention that i have never flown American airlines before. Their customer service was beyond outstanding and they were always a step ahead Of any request I thought I could possibly make. I felt like they rolled out the red carpet. Little did they know that their red carpet led me to a dark dark place.

We were loaded onto a small plane and escorted to what will never ever be my sweet spot ever ever EVER again. And it's not just because economy plus spoiled me. Oh no. First I realized that I would have to seat my sons together and I would have to sit across the aisle. This was concerning and had me way past on edge. I got them all settled and shushed them the standard 20 times, issued 15 knowing glances and finished them off with an empty threat. Because I'm a good parent that keeps my kids in line remember? Then I glanced at my seat.

Or should I say my half of a seat. A larger than me lady was sitting in the middle seat and had spilled over into half my seat. The flight was full and I needed to be by my sons so I tried to squish myself in. I am not small and amply fill an airplane seat myself. So just picture a lot of squishy spillage from a variety of people. This lady that never talked to me once in 4 hrs and I got way to intimate. And so did her boyfriend. Every time he put his arm around her it went around me too. He would try to rub her back or arm and rub me too. I felt trapped in a Love triangle minus the love plus an added circle of awkwardness. Ewwwwwwww.

Oh, but wait. Did I forget to tell you about the cats? There were no less than 3 yowling cats in carriers placed Strategically throughout the plane to make your flight as awkward and weird sounding as possible. Lest I miss out on the fun, the lady next to me was One of the cat owners. She didn't warn me. Instead I bent down to store my luggage to find no space because there was a carrier. It actually didn't register instead I was just pouty and pissy that I had to put my bag in the overhead bin 4 rows up. But then I tried to stretch my legs and bumped the carrier and the carrier bumped back! The cat then whined. And generally sounded pissy the rest of the trip and i gave the carrier the evil eye and stayed as far away from it as I could in my half seat.

But the fun doesn't stop when I travel. I need to explain what ruined my sweet spot. It was two things really:
1. A small plane meant no standing or waiting room around the bathroom. it was literally my back resting on the bathroom wall and the door slamming open and closed within inches of me.

2. I didn't come prepared to meet so many butts and genitals.

Do you realize where your head is located when you are sitting on an airplane and others are standing in the aisle next to you?

Dead level with the inappropriate parts of their front or back side depending on what they choose to grace you with. Now picture two people trying to fit into the aisle that is already partially filled by a poor soul with half a seat and you can understand why I feel personally violated.

It wasn't just a few times either. I've spent a lot of times around airplane bathrooms and they are up rarely bustling with activity. Most people would rather hold it than fold themselves into the cupboard they call a bathroom.

Not on this flight.

I got up close and waaaaaaaaay to personal with no less than 50 people.

In addition to all the fun I was having there was also the fact that only one out of three of my kids slept on this flight so we exhausted every trick, secret toy or activity that I had Up my sleeve for the entire Two weeks. I began to pray fervently for a minor sickness to strike them like lightening. Just enough to exhaust them, not enough to wreck the trip.

God likes specifics I think.

We got off this plane and wandered through the craziness that is the dallas airport. Scarfed food, realized phone died at some point earlier and that we never checked with anyone to say we were still alive and then we hustle off to the next and final flight.

I am typing this while on the final flight on the day. A 3 hr trip. One child is sleeping, one is ten steps past restless and one has zero volume control. although he is well behaved he is still drawing stares of contempt due to his constant rise in volume. Apparently everyone wasn't interested in the full story of Ben 10 or a run down of every superhero squad members powers and evil nemesis. Geez you'd think people would be thankful for the free education he's providing!

We're almost done. I hope we're not too tired to have some fun with the Virginia family tomorrow. Can't wait til my husband joins us and the whole being on constant edge because the world will crumble if I can't keep my kids in check feeling ends.

Also I like him and he makes vacations more fun.

I am pretending not to remember that i have to do this all again in 11 days. I am also now fervently praying that God could please erase my earlier request because he missed the necessary deadline and now it would be an inconvenience. I sure hope he checks his messages.

What do you think when you see the overfilled seat, the people flying with animals or any one of a host of other flight time annoyances? Are you gracious or incessantly peeved and perturbed?

I was less than my usual gracious self, I am not going to lie. At least I kept it all in my head....unless I talk in my sleep. Oh crap!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Travelling with tots

With the big trip across country impending I am doing what any sane organized person would be doing, staying up the entire night before packing and cleaning (and blogging).

Ummmmm, I meant to say, that I'm reminiscing on the many adventures of travelling with tots during trips past.

Allow me to take you down memory lane.

The first time I travelled alone it was with my twins and they were 1 or 1.5. I remember quite clearly sitting in my in-laws spare room and arguing with the airlines about why I was paying for one seat and wanted one listed as lap child and why they HAD to give me a discount. I got my way but it took way too long and was way too stressful. That was also the trip where I learned the magic and the wonder that is a carseat on a plane. The one son that was lucky enough to get his own seat was used to the seat and knew it meant be quiet and still. It had familiar smells, and I'm sure familiar stains too, and held a sense of comfort. He went to his happy place in 2 seconds flat. The not so lucky twin that got to cuddle mommy was also fairly happy but made mommy oh so unhappy because I was forced into all sorts of contortionist moves, and if you know me you know I was not built for contortion, in order to keep the not so lucky baby asleep. But all's well that ends well, and we made the trip virtually unscathed.

After that I travelled several times with my twins and considered myself an expert (turns out it's just in their disposition to be quiet and calm and not my skills at all, but I still take credit). All went fairly well and I developed a veritable arsenal of secret weapons including fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, etch a sketches, yoyos and empty pez dispensers. I also learned the #1 travel secret for the one parent multiple child ratio, sit next to the bathroom. There are 2 reasons for this:

1. No one else wants to sit there. It stinks, so there are always available seats (even those rare finds, the extra empty seat that you can put your legs up on, or all your kids travel crap). Lucky for you, one of your kids usually stinks too, so it masks the odor and you, as a parent, are virtually immune to all nasty smells anyways. The joys of parenthood and gassy husbands.

2. Multiple children do not fit well with you in an airplane bathroom. Not sure if you've noticed, but these bathrooms tend to be extremely small and therefor unlikely to fit your post birth shape plus the giant diaper bag and 3 kids you have in tow. This is where the absolute beauty of the bathroom seats come into play. You can send them in and leave the door open letting them go while you oversee both them and the ones still in their seats. Not old enough to go alone? No problem. You can easily leave one sleeping and know that you'll hear if they wake up while you help the other one in the toilet. In a real bind? You are right next to the flight attendants prime hang out zone and they have no choice but to notice you and help you. It's like a law or something I'm pretty sure.

Due to the fact that my kids, without fail, need to go one after the other and never at the same time, I have become an amazing bathroom attendant on flights (they should pay me for the prime service I am supplying their patrons.) Basically, I spend 5 hours standing between two bathroom stalls and yelling at my kids in the seat while calmly and sweetly explaining to every person that comes back desperate to relieve themselves that, "My kids in that one, use the other one." It also easily allows me to do the standing mommy shush jiggle (that's the official name) where I try desperately and hopelessly to calm and quiet one of my children without drugs or smothering. I never succeed but Lord knows I try.

Then came my third child. This is when I realized that my parenting skills scored zero and my tricks were all a sham. He hates to fly. Like hates with the intensity of a volcanic explosion. As in he always explodes his hatred all over everyone on the flight, through sound, smells, feet, fists of fury and of course, puke. His arsenal of anger is vastly superior to any tricks I have ever had up any sleeve. He renders me hopeless and useless.

What, you don't believe me? Not my sweet adorable angel with the oh so pinchable cheeks? HA! Let me tell you...

A few years ago we were flying to Portland, OR for my sisters wedding. We gave our youngest some medicine right before we got on the airplane (he had a cold and we hoped it would help him sleep too). We got on the plane and he was super fussy and unappreciative that he was being forced to sit in my lap. The flashing seatbelt light went on and they announced that we were beginning take off. Naturally my son chose this moment to unload the contents of his stomach all over me and my seat. Are you understanding this? The seatbelt light was on!!! I was trapped in my sons vomit. He felt much better after this and fell asleep. One hour later when we could finally get up and move around the cabin I had to decide. Clean up myself and my seat and ensure a screaming child for the next 4 hours or let the child sleep and sit in the nastiest of all nasties that I had ever been forced to endure. I chose the nastiness, as cringeworthy as it was, it was still better than the other option.

Then there was the flight where I got to endure the other option. It was when I flew with just my youngest because my grandma was ill and I wanted to be with her during her final time. I was not in the best mental place. I can tell my son cares, because to take my mind off it, he threw something new into his horrifying airplane repertoire. When the seatbelt light went on and they announced take off (this is his magic time, where his skills really shine) he slid out of his seatbelt and underneath the blanket I had tangled around my legs. He then proceeded to bang his head and fists into the metal plate on the floor that holds in the seat for the next 30 minutes while screaming at a decibel that had never before been heard by human ears. Because I am overweight and could not unbuckle myself during takeoff I had to sit and try quietly to talk him out of his rage. This managed to add fuel to his fury but did little else other than make me feel minusculy less useless. As soon as the seat belt light went off I unbuckled, scooped up my son that looked like he had been horrifyingly beaten, shirked away from the condemning looks and knowing nods and proceeded to stand in my magic spot as bathroom attendant for the next 4.5hrs in an effort to quiet and calm him.

I travelled with my 3 boys last summer and I can't recall any of the details. Either I have numbed myself to try and forget some horrible pain that was inflicted on me and a variety of unsuspecting passengers, or it went well. Who knows really?
So I look forward to the trip tomorrow cautiously. I am mentally preparing myself for the worst and in my heart I am hoping for the very best. I do have one thing working in my favor. My youngest son drowned. I know that sounds awful, but here's the thing, he came out of the ordeal a different child. It was all horrible, horrifying and horrendous in the moment. But, he lived, he persevered and he was healed of all side affects from that awful day. Not only that, but his headstrong behavior was toned down like 20 notches. He is still my son, just with a lot less cringeworthy moments, than what we experienced during his first 3 years.

There's hope. There's also an IPad and an IPod. Cause a girls got have some tricks just in case.

Have you ever travelled as the sole adult responsible for your child?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's a lovely day in the neighborhood

It's a lovely day in the neighborhood. Won't you be my neighbor?

I loved Mr. Rogers growing up and I love that part of his song and how he sang it while changing his shoes and cardigan (2 things I never do when I get home and as a child assumed it was an old man thing. Still haven't come up with a better answer. Guess I was a smart kid!)

Today I am linking up with
and posting about being grateful. As you may recall I did this once before. And then forgot to ever do it again.

Today is a new day and I was sitting and thinking how grateful I am for my lovely neighbors while reading http://maxabellaloves.blogspot.com/. She asked for grateful links and I will happily oblige.

Tomorrow we are going on a 2 week trip across the nation! From Hawaii to Washington D.C. with some stops along the way. It will be an adventure, and I am sure, a lot of blog posts :) As  I scramble to say goodbyes (because I get dramatic about leaving for 2 weeks), pack and clean, I also spend a lot of moments with a lot of great neighbors.

Yesterday we spent time at the county fair with our neighbors who having matching girls to our gaggle of boys. It was so pleasant to have them all match up and enjoy the fair in their way. As a parent I could stand and watch and enjoy the fun they were having. I love these neighbors to bits. This morning my sons were planning a surprise to bring back for their favorite girls and I just sat and smiled and oozed gratefulness at the relationship our kids have.

Today our next door neighbors son stopped by to see if my boys could play. Of course they were in the middle of mandatory rest time due to screaming, crying and nastiness that followed from lack of sleep at the too fun fair  the day before. BUT, it was awesome that I could run next door with him and chat with his mom and plan for our kids to play later. Somedays this neighbor is invaluable in her ability to restore my sanity or provide me with  the items that I find lacking in my kitchen, or when she feeds my kids. I am so grateful to have such a great family living right next door!

Then there are my other neighbors, the ones we'll say goodbye to tomorrow morning when we all go play at the fountains together, the ones that know every bit about how amazing and sad and crazy this trip is going to be. The ones that are already praying that I make it through 24 hours of travel as the sole adult watching over 3 rambunctious boys. My husband and I are very lucky to have amazing friends all over. But today I am giving a shout out to all of our friendly neighbors that make our days a little brighter and our scrambling infinitely more manageable.

How about you? Good neighbors or bad neighbors?