Thanksgiving: Part II

At certain points, it felt like the universe did not want our thanksgiving travels to go down. Some of the occurrences were very small and easily dismissible except when added to the other crazy events surrounding them, then the signs were clear! This trip was disrupting some homeostasis. It all started like every Thanksgiving break with the insane end of the Fall Term. In 7 days time, teachers are tasked with wrapping up course content and student work, grading any remaining products, writing finals, grading said finals, lesson planning for the new term of brand new courses with brand new students, writing comments which is approximately 150 words per students, proof-reading colleague comments, uploading grades, and any other loose ends that inevitability have to be tied. It is a bananas timeline and you can feel the faculty stress levels boil over. But this frenzy is sadly “normal.” I was ready to “tackle” this in order to squeeze into a break with my family. The other pieces though only more deeply complicated this already wacky time.

Henry broke is leg. To be exact, he broke the femur growth plate and ended up in a cast from his toes to his hip. He refused to walk on it for quite some time, and then found moving even short distances both frustrating and exhausting with his heavy green “hulk leg” cast. Over a few days, he adjusted but the concern was: How will he navigate the epic trip which includes flights, Disney, and the beach? Then David burned his arm, because our oven never properly cooks anything and we had a suspicion that it was not rising to the appropriate temperature, David was on a mission. To catch our sneaky oven in the act of under-warming, David bought a thermometer to hang from a rack. But, he forgot that racks get hot and burned a giant letter I in to forearm leaving him with a bad-ass wound and a tender limb.  When driving home from work the next day, I pulled over to a random urgent care because I was tired of being so tired and started to think it wasn’t just the lack of work-life balance anymore. Alas, it was walking pneumonia. With three days left to our departure, we were a mess. I could not breathe or keep my eyes open, David was trying to manage the house, grading was piling up, and Henry was incapacitated. Then my sister-in-law called to say she had a horrible eye problem and we all held our breath! If her issue did not adjust in the next 24 hours she would need to be hospitalized and our trip should then just be called off because the universe was starting to laugh at us little too hard.

In the morning light, Jessie was convinced her eye was improving so we packed our suitcases only to be hit by winter storm Avery! Six inches of snow fell and we braced for flight delays and indeed landed in Orlando at midnight. Waiting for over an hour on the jetway, our stroller had gone missing. My reaction to this “not so terrible occurrence” was to lose my freaking mind. Everything suddenly hinged on whether or not we had that stroller to navigate this epic trip with our son with a femur cast. The children were melting down to epic proportions because it was almost 1AM and we were waiting for over an hour and they were so exhausted and tired and frustrated and I was about one second away from throwing a tantrum right on that carpet next to them. When we finally boarded the Mickey Bus to bring us and our chaos to the hotel, the charming driver turned on her Disney princess voice at 2:30AM and declared, “Good Morning and welcome to the magical Disney bus!” and I nearly lost my head from the intensity of my rolling eyes. We got off the Magical Express and left behind our sweatshirts on the bus because losing something other than our minds was needed and we crashed in our beds to only wake up at 7AM exactly 4 hours later. But, all of the other members of our travel team slept in, and David and I just started to laugh the kind of laughs of unstable people, because all of this happened and we were in literal shambles and everyone was crying and we were about to start our first day at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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We did pull it together and we did have a great time, but Smith also did puke to add one last moment of chaos to the journey, but overall these were the parts of the trip that social media usually glosses over but the parts of the trip that were so real, and so ridiculous that we inevitably had to go from there!

 

 

The double double

Grab your Rosé mama and join me at the campfire for a tale so mystical and mythical that it may forever become part of motherhood folklore! When the event occurred, my awareness for the unique situation was keyed up. I both wanted to share the events with friends and strangers but worried that no one would ever believe me. There are dozens and dozens of memes about children sleeping in the carseat and the spectrum of crazy a parent emotionally tackles during this circumstance: Child fell asleep while mom drives into garage for 2 seconds and wakes up “totally refreshed” from the long blink, child falls asleep in carseat and parent decides to hit up the drive-thru Starbucks for a 40 minute silent car nap and coffee BUT baby takes massive blow-out and is screaming all the way home instead, and, of course, a dad dressed in a bomb suit trying to transfer a baby from carseat to house while sleeping.

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If you are a parent, you know these feels and these situations all too well. You likely experience them EVERY day plus so many more. But I am here to tell you that when the moon is blue, when pigs fly, and when you think that all hope is lost there is such a thing as the double double transfer!

Double double transfer: verb. To move two sleeping children from their carseats into something else (i.e. crib, bed, stroller), and to successful return sleeping children into the carseat.

I know what you are thinking, NO WAY! Not is a million years could a parent successfully move TWO sleeping children out of their carseats into something and then back into the carseat. But on July 14, 2018 at approximately 1:05PM, in Wrentham, MA this happened. You might have felt the shift in the universe and thought it  was a minor earthquake tremor or perhaps a spirit moved through you, but no it was me experiencing the impossible.

After lunch on Saturday, we kissed David goodbye and packed the boys up in the car for a quick errand to the outlets. I barely backed the car out of the driveway when it became too quiet. Looking in the mirror, it was confirmed that the two little dudes had fallen asleep. Panic set in. The drive to the store was 15 minutes. That was not nearly long enough for a proper nap, but I also did not want to spend an hour + driving around for a car nap. I decided that I would just deal with them waking up after a 15 minute nod off and see what happened in the car ride home and just prepare myself for a moody evening with the boys because of that 15 minutes of shut eye. We parked in the lot, and I braced for them to wake up confused and angry!  Opening the trunk, I slide out and assembled the stroller and went for the first boy,Henry. There was NO way he was going to stay asleep. I would open the car door and his eyes would follow.  But then I opened the car door and his eyes remained closed. Thinking this was weird, I unbuckled him, lifted him, and settled him down in his stroller seat without a slight wakening. Then I started to hold my breath. Could I also do this with Owen? Feeling both cocky and terrified, I strolled over to his side of the car, opened the door, carried him out, and placed him in his seat. Taking my first breath in 5 minutes, I nearly fainted from the crazy transfer I just completed! WHERE WAS MY AUDIENCE? Where were the rounds of applause? Immediately, I called my mom and David because no one would believe this and it had to be documented. Then we headed into Jcrew and for the first time in maybe four years, I shopped “alone.”  I went into the store with the hope that I could quickly grab one thing, and here I was meandering through the store slowly taking my time with each clothing rack, thinking about items, evaluating selections, and just shopping peacefully and quietly. Slipping the cashier my money, I was in shock that still they remained sleeping. Heading back to the car, I knew my time was up and I thanked the gods and prepared for the kiddos to wake up confused and angry when I moved them back into the vehicle.

Taking probably a dozen preparatory breaths, I attempted my first transfer of Henry. He slipped right back into the seat eyes closed. I felt invincible! Then Owen followed suit. It was a miracle: a double double transfer. Could I also fly? Read minds? Cure diseases? Win the Lotto? Life felt invigorating. And before you think, “Wow this is the lamest thing ever,” I want to say that I have gone skydiving and the sensation of excellence, surprise, and thrill that I got from backing my car out of that parking spot was the equivalent of jumping out of that plane over Chatham and that is when I knew my identity as mom was cemented fully and I was totally cool with that.

Oh Sleeves!

Does this happen in your house? The weather gets a touch warmer, the sun shines a bit brighter, and the general consensus becomes….It’s Spring! You cannot ever say this too loudly in New England of course, because surely if Mother Nature sees the rejoicing, she will inevitably throw one last April snow storm your way. But, this is not about the slow slide into Spring.

In our house, we have a problem. A serious one. Well not so serious, but hilariously annoying. Henry and Owen have plum forgotten how to deal with short sleeves. After over 150 days of cold temperatures and a commitment to cozy long sleeves, jackets, sweaters, gloves, hats, long john’s, and heavy socks, this weekend I pulled out a short sleeved shirt and their world melted. Really though! It all started like a normal morning. We cuddled in bed as a family and laughed and talked about our day. We ate some breakfast slowly and I drank a cup of coffee. Then we headed upstairs to shift into our attire for the day. They slipped on their pants, one leg at a time and chatted about their interests and ideas. No issue when it came to the socks either. Then it was time for the shirt. This item had drastically changed in their 24 hour cycle. With predictions in the mid-60s, it was time to try a short sleeve. Naively, I thought nothing of this moment. It was just part of the normalcy of my own Spring transition. A time of year, that is exciting and much anticipated.

But, for the boys is was HARD and devastating! What the heck are short-sleeves? Why are my arms suddenly exposed? What do I do in the breeze? They fussed quite a bit as I tried to wrestle them into one. THEN once on, they were not impressed. Bottom lips all the way out, it was clear they were not happy with this new development. Each tried harder than the other to pull the little sleeves down their arms. Unfortunately, this only made the shoulder become exposed as it popped out the neck opening! Then came the arm slapping as though that would generate some sort of warmth or coverage. Finally they pulled their arms inside and down their shirts to stick alongside their torsos. And there we were, my armless boys unwilling to give Spring a try and I a tired and sweaty parent not sure how to get them outside to run and enjoy the shift in weather. They won the battle. Donning long sleeve shirts and demanding jackets and gloves too, we headed out. Slowly they shed the gloves, then the jackets. They did not budge on the shirts though. By Sunday, we got Henry into the short sleeves as long as they were batman. Now we wait the little one out. The temperatures will eventually convince them, no?

Shepard’s Pie

On December 18, we eat sausage and rice casserole. David’s birthday request is a standard meal from childhood. A dish full of family folklore and a recurring request across all birthdays on David’s side. It is a simple and direct meal with few ingredients and even less prep. It is delicious and not a grain of rice is left after mealtime. Clearly, it is a birthday request meal I can easily stand behind. Then David said, “I think this might be my new favorite meal for my birthday!” What could this meal be? What dish could possibly unseat the casserole that has stolen hearts and minds for the past 36 years?  Hold your breath…..it’s shepard’s pie!

I know what you are thinking: Really?  Yes, really!

  • 2 lb ground beef or lamb
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 8 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/3 cups beef broth
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 3 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  •  1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Preheat an oven to 325°F. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Browned the beed. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pot over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs of the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic, cover and cook, stirring, until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Stir in the broth and wine. Add the rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pot bottom. Return the beef to the pot, cover, place in the oven and cook until about 1 1/2 hours. About 30 minutes before the dish is ready, oil a baking dish. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well. Cut 3 Tbs. of the butter into pieces and add to the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes while adding enough cream to create a smooth texture. Season the meat mixture with salt and pepper, stir in the peas and pour into the prepared baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top. Cut the remaining 1 Tbs. butter into bits and use to dot the top. Bake until the top is lightly tinged with brown, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

5 things that reveal you are a new parent!

Life with Henry is somehow becoming “normal.” Everyone always says that once the baby arrives, it feels as though they have always been a part of your life. Yes, in the midst of a frantic cry-fest, I can vividly remember my life as a DINK (double income no kids). Yet, at the same time, while there is some razbliuto for our former existence, I do truly love our new little family member who is all things sweet, warm, and cuddly. To say it is all easy and moving along smoothly would be inaccurate but we definitely have a “schedule” forming which helps us better comfort, respond to, and understand our little man. Each day feels better than the previous even if it is a miniscule difference. Nevertheless, David and I are clearly new to parenting and some of the tell-tale signs of our newness have left us doubled over laughing.

1. When food shopping with Henry, David forgets that he is pushing the stroller and not the grocery cart. Henry therefore can be found with random food items tucked alongside him while David says, “Oh oops that’s right he is not the cart!”

2. When changing Henry we have a 50/50 chance of having him pee all over himself. No matter how fast we aim to change him and how prepared we are to face the diaper change it inevitably ends with a costume change for the little guy.

3. When taking Henry’s car seat out of the car, I am never quite sure how to raise the handle and have knocked myself in the face and chin. So when you see my bruised face know it is a parenting battle scar.

4. When we successfully head out of the house for an errand and time it just right to coincide with his nap, we feel like we have accomplished mission impossible upon our return and can’t help but high five, chest bump, and do a victory dance.

5. When Henry fusses, we sing the craziest songs. Songs we make up and songs from deep deep into our childhood emerge and freak us out. Like, who remembers the lyrics from Sleeping Beauty? Apparently I do!