A little faith and a lot of love go a long way…

You know you gave up as a parent when…

You know you gave up as a parent when….

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You know you gave up as a parent when…

The other day I stopped to pick up a few groceries. As I waited in line, I noticed the lady in front of me place a box of those frozen peanut butter and jelly crustless sandwiches on the check out belt.  You know the ones I’m talking about…

As she piled her other groceries around that purple box, I smiled to myself. She had given up. I’ve been there. Haven’t we all? I mean, she was paying over $2.00 for 4 small crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I am not judging her by any means. If we were able to allot more money to our budgeted “food money” then I’d probably stock up on those babies. I get it. I’ve given up too. Thankfully my kids are still unable to tell you exactly how many nights they’ve eaten frozen waffles (yes, I toasted them…slightly…) and pretzels for dinner. The Gorilla watches videos on the iPad more than I care to admit right now. (We had to find a way to sleep in past 5:30 am!) And Binxy may or may not be learning to count…thanks to Sesame Street and Sesame Street alone. (*gasp* But she’s a TEACHER! – you) (Oh calm down…I’m a human mother too! – me)

How have you given up as a parent?


Vacation with toddlers…Part 3

Vacation with toddlers…Part 3.

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Vacation with toddlers…Part 3

(Get caught up with part 1 here and part 2 here!)

Thankfully when I broke the news to the Gorilla and the rest of my family that Pop Pop was demanding dinner before shopping, they were only mildly irritated and there were no earth-shattering meltdowns. The Gorilla refused to sit still or eat his dinner, but we made it and finally at 8:30 p.m. (Arizona time) we found a Target and purchased the Thomas Shark Exhibit. Success!

The next few days were a whirlwind of activities…

Chillin' out at the hotel...

Chillin’ out at the hotel…

...eating delicious southwestern food...

…eating delicious southwestern food…


…buying (and wearing) silly hats…

051 …visiting family…


…dressing up (Big Daddy Byron & me)…


…attending a wedding…


…and swimming!

Though we really did have a lot of fun, doing these things was far from easy.  Our toddlers didn’t care that we were in Arizona, at a hotel, or trying to chat with family we hadn’t seen in years.  They wanted what they wanted NOW. But we survived and on the 15th, we began the long trip home.

I woke up and did not feel well at all.  I was focused on not vomiting anywhere in public so I didn’t look very nice as I really didn’t care what I looked like as long as there were no bodily fluids spewing from me. (Vomiting after waking up? Is she PREGNANT?!  – you) (ABSOLUTELY NOT. No, I am not pregnant! – me) After we returned the rental cars and made it through security we headed to our gate.  I was feeling slightly better but still weak when another female passenger caught my eye, looked me up and down, made a face and rolled her eyes at me.  She clearly conveyed her message that my hobo look was not welcome in her presence.  Thankfully (for her) I was weak and not in the mood to put her in her place.  Thankfully (for me) another stranger would do an act of kindness that completely cancelled this out near the end of our trip!

The two flights home were a little easier than the first two since the Gorilla and Binxy knew what to expect.  They weren’t happy about having to sit in one spot for 2-3 hours at a time, but they were a little less vocal about their displeasure. By the time we reached Baltimore at 11:00 p.m. Pennsylvania time, we were all tired, grouchy, and not looking forward to the hour and a half drive from the airport to our home.

During the last 15 minutes of the flight, Binxy had fallen asleep in my arms.  I carried her off the plane and to the baggage claim area where I found a bench to settle down on while everyone else went to collect our luggage.

I was really cherishing this time with my sleeping angel.  You see, since she is such a good sleeper and has never slept with us, only in her crib, I never really get to see her sleep…especially not in a well lit area where I can really look at her. She. Is. Gorgeous. I was relishing in the fact that the little angel in my arms was my baby when I felt a hand on my knee. I looked up and there was another mom, unknown to me, though I recognized her from our flight as we had made eye contact and smiled as we were boarding a few hours before.  She was maybe 5 or 10 years older than me, and she was smiling yet again.  I saw her little (and big) ones walk past with her husband and she said, “You’re a trooper mom. You’re doing a great job.  I know how it is traveling with kids and you’re doing fine.  Go home and get some rest, you deserve it.” And then she walked away.

I am not someone who cries easily so I did not cry. But I did have tears in my eyes which is significant. This total stranger from our flight took the time to stop by and tell a haggard looking mom (me) that she’s doing a good job. I was really touched and grateful that God sent this woman my way with this particular message at a time when I really needed it.

Before I knew it my family was ready to go with our bags.  We hopped on the wrong bus and headed to the daily parking garage instead of the long-term parking lot.  Finally we got on the right bus which was PACKED.  The driver was a tough lady who was not taking anyone’s crap even though there were some rude people on the bus who were making comments about her. (Apparently everyone was irritated and ready to get home.) As we entered and couldn’t find seats she demanded that someone give their seat up for me since I was still holding a sleeping Binxy (who was beginning to wake), and a very nice lady did so immediately. By the time we reached our stop, Binxy had fully woken and peed through her diaper all over me and no one could remember exactly where the van was.  Needless to say there was some yelling and profanity discussion about where the van was and what we were doing. At long last, my dad located the van, Big Daddy Byron changed Binxy, we loaded up and took off.  And hour and a half later, we were home, sweet home.  By 2 a.m. I had changed out of my urine soaked clothes (thanks Binxy!) and we finally fell asleep in our bed. AMEN!

It definitely wasn’t our most relaxing vacation but it was memorable. And that’s what vacations are all about…making memories! 🙂

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Vacation with toddlers…Part 2

Vacation with toddlers…Part 2.

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Vacation with toddlers…Part 2

(If you’re just tuning in and need to read Part 1 of our Vacation with Toddlers, you can find it here.)

Fancy schmancy

Fancy schmancy

So we left the Tucson airport feeling relieved that we survived (barely) the 2 flights there. We hopped in our Dodge Charger, cranked up the AC, and began the journey to our hotel which was a resort. Our relief was short-lived though as I had to follow my mother and father in their rental car to our destination.

(Forgive me mom for the next part…) So, my mom is a nervous driver/passenger. And I use “nervous” lightly. Because I actually mean she’s bat sh*t crazy when she’s in a car. It was like following a drunk race car driver.  All the while we could see my parents’ arms flailing as they yelled at each other in the vehicle in front of us, arguing over how to get to the hotel and when we would call to beg them to slow down or at least use a turn signal occasionally, we could hear the shrill screams and profanity respectful, loving disagreement, promptly hung up, and prayed that we ended up at a hotel…any hotel at this point.

Thankfully, we did make it. The kids, the adults, the tons of luggage…we made it. Again, we felt some relief as we were greeted by bellhops (is that what they’re called? I’m too lazy to check) who held the doors for us as we entered to check in. We gave our names at the front desk and then the panic that I was so familiar with by this time set in again when the hotel personnel at the desk informed us that we were 3 hours early to check in to our 3 rooms…

WHAT?! Ok, so we completely forgot to calculate the time difference when we all agreed during the reservation process that 4 pm was a check in time that would work for us…because it was almost 4 pm…in PENNSYLVANIA. We could work with that though. What we could not work with was paying for THREE rooms. Who booked us 3 rooms? Not I! In fact, none of us had. It was a mistake on the hotel’s end and of course it took nearly 20 minutes for the hotel people to figure out how to cancel one of the rooms in our names. 20 minutes was more than enough time for the Gorilla to realize that we were not shopping for his promised Thomas the Tank toys.  Constant whining ensued from our 3 year old who HAD TO GO SHOPPING NOW as we impatiently tried to figure out the reservation snafu so we could get our junk luggage into our rooms. I began to feel the all too familiar irritated stare from the beady eyes of the annoyed patrons and employees in the lobby who were witness to our 2 toddlers who had barely slept since midnight (their time!).  It was time to haul ass and get out of there so Big Daddy Byron and I took our little living hurricanes out to the car where they calmed slightly in the dry heat of the parking lot while my parents dealt with the reservation mess at the desk.

Finally, we were granted key cards and the fact that there was NO PARKING WHATSOEVER near the building where our rooms were located couldn’t stop us. We took advantage of the valet services and of the bellhop who offered to deliver our bags. At this point, we could not have cared less about the ridiculous charges for these services because we were exhausted. Well, the Gorilla and Binxy were’t exhausted but the adults were.

We arrived in our rooms.

One view from our room...

One view from our room…

...and the other view.

…and the other view.

Peace…sweet peace at last…or not. Because the Gorilla had still not forgotten that we were not perusing Thomas items for him to purchase with our money. Thankfully we were all pretty exhausted by this time and we convinced the Gorilla that after we unpacked and took a nap, we would go, first thing, to the nearest Wal-Mart or Target and buy him whatever his little greedy 3 year old heart desired.

So we began to unpack.  The room seemed pretty nice. Two queen beds would work for us. The Gorilla and Big Daddy Byron could nap in one and Binxy and I could nap in the other. I was sure Binxy would be fine even though she’s never slept in anything but a crib or pack ‘n play before. Big Daddy Byron, the organizational master that he is, was swiftly unpacking our bags while I decided to check out the size of the mini-fridge so I could make a shopping list of snacks and such that could be kept in the room. It turns out, the fridge was a mini-bar. If this had been a romantic vacation for just Big Daddy Byron and me, I would have started uncapping bottles and guzzling the sweet nectar that stared back at me as I opened the fridge. But this was a family vacation. With toddlers. Who are CONSTANTLY HUNGRY AND THIRSTY. Where was I supposed to keep their food and beverages?! Oh and look at that…the nice hotel staff left a $3.00 Kit Kat, $3.00 pack of 2 Oreos, and a plethora of other over priced candy and junk food in plain view of anyone, including my toddlers, who could see inside of the fridge. I slammed the door shut before any tiny eyes could see those goodies and whispered to Big Daddy that we needed to bag up that sweet paraphernalia so that the kiddos couldn’t see it or taste it. No way in Hell was I going to pay $3.00 for a half eaten Kit Kat bar which is what would happen if they got their chubby little hands on it. He quickly reorganized the fridge so that we had hidden the contraband and made a few inches of extra space in what seemed to be the world’s smallest hotel mini-fridge.

So we barely had a fridge, no microwave, and it was time to sleep. The Gorilla, our 3 year old stage 5 clinger who hasn’t slept a full night through and has slept in bed with us for the past 18 months or so, cuddled in with Big Daddy. (Why did we wait 18 months and then let him in bed with us? That’s a whole separate blog post, but long story short, we should be given medals, not criticized, for hearing him scream all night in his crib for the first 18 months straight attempting the CIO [Cry It Out] method. Don’t believe that’s what happened? Ask our neighbor. She met with us to let us know her concerns of his constant screaming. He sleeps much more soundly when with us now.)

Binxy crawled into bed with me. However she seemed to have found her second wind and found it hilarious to be in a queen sized bed that was not her crib or pack ‘n play. I let her bounce around and test out all the pillows thinking she would wind down and fall asleep as soon as the novelty had worn off. WRONG. 15 minutes later and she was still at it. By this time I had slept 1 hour in almost 48 hours. Big Daddy had slept for 2 hours. We were on the edge. He snapped and called the front desk to request a pack ‘n play. 10 minutes later it had not yet arrived and Binxy was done playing on the bed and decided it was time to walk run the halls. She screamed until I took her into the hall. We walked. Well, she ran and I stumbled from exhaustion. 20 minutes had passed and no pack ‘n play. Big Daddy called the front desk and explained our situation. We needed that pack n’ play NOW or one of us was going over the balcony outside of our room. As he relayed the severity of our situation, Binxy joyfully bounced up and down the hallway as I monitored her with a glassy-eyed stare. After 40 minutes, the pack ‘n play finally arrived and I came to the realization that no one who works at this hotel must have ever had a toddler because if they had, they would have sensed the desperation of our situation and sent the pack ‘n play up within the first 10 minutes.

Big Daddy set up the pack ‘n play and I laid Binxy inside. Within 60 seconds she was out. We all climbed back into bed and finally fell into a sweet, sweet slumber.  Upon waking, as in the second the Gorilla woke, he reminded us that we owed him a shopping trip. NOW. We found my parents in their room next door and headed to the lobby. The valet brought our vehicles to us and as we climbed into the cars, my father announced that we were going to find something to eat before going shopping.

You have got to be kidding me. The Gorilla is going to lose it. I cannot put off this shopping trip one more time. We are going to see the meaning of “ape shit crazy” the minute I tell this kid we have to go eat before he gets something from the Thomas collection at the local Wal-Mart or Target. I argued with my dad but apparently the elderly outrank toddlers and he was dead set on eating first. I had to go along with him…he was paying for this meal! Oh, and I was starving since I (and Big Daddy) hadn’t eaten at all through the day or on the flights at any point. I tentatively sat inside the car…took a deep breath…and relayed the message to the Gorilla and the rest of my family that Pop pop was taking us to eat before we went shopping…

Check back for Vacation with Toddlers…Part 3 to find out what happened! 🙂


Vacation with toddlers…Part 1

Let me preface this post with an explanation of why there are no photos. Because there’s no humanly way to get photos when you are a huge ball of anxiety taking 2 toddlers on their first plane ride.

I have family in Arizona and due to distance and life we aren’t terribly close but we all try to be there for each other when major life milestones occur. So when my oldest niece invited us to her wedding, we were super excited to go. What’s not exciting about toting two toddlers across the country?

When we first told the Gorilla, our 3 year old, he told us in no uncertain terms that he was NOT flying on a plane. Absolutely no way. Any time we brought it up we were told adamantly that it was not happening and if we pressed the issue, it typically ended in salty tears and piercing screams. A few days before we were scheduled to leave, the Gorilla changed his tune and suddenly seemed excited for the trip. I was overjoyed. Then one of my best friends reminded me that it was probably Binxy that I should be worried about with flying, not the Gorilla. I panicked. She was right. The Gorilla had been so vocal about not flying that I never thought that my little girl would protest the idea in any way at any time. I. Was. Wrong.

We woke our little angels up at 3 a.m. on July 10th and took off on our hour and a half drive to the airport with my parents. The adults hadn’t slept much but everyone seemed fairly cheerful and we were all equipped with coffee to make the early morning commute a little more bearable. The kids were happy and awake which we thought was ok because it could work to our advantage – by the time we took off, they would be so tired they’d just sleep on the flight.

As we unloaded the van and caught the bus to the airport my anxiety began to build. It would be awhile before we boarded. The kids needed to eat. We needed to get through security. Did I remember to pack everything? What were we thinking? The kids wanted to run around the airport. We had to figure out how to print our e-tickets & get our luggage checked. We did it. We made it through security. Now we just had to wait.

As we waited, I became more anxious. I saw the annoyed glances from some of the other passengers as they watched our kids run and scream and occasionally cry in the waiting area at the gate. I knew they were praying we weren’t on their flight. Finally, it was time to board. The Gorilla was excited. Binxy was tired. Really tired. We entered the plane, found our seats, and got situated. Now I haven’t been on a plane for 4 years but I feel that they have shrunk since then. We crammed our carry on bags, iPads, and family of 4 into 3 seats. Big Daddy Byron and I pulled out books, crayons, stickers, juice, and snacks. We were prepared. Then the plane took off.

The Gorilla loved take off. He was curious and excited. Binxy had had enough. She was tired and not having any of this take off crap. She squirmed. She whined. She screamed. For the first half of the flight, we were “that family.” After take off, the Gorilla got bored. No amount of crayons, books, or snacks could keep him happy. Our kids pretty much let the flight crew and all other passengers know that sitting in one cramped spot for 2-3 hours was bullshit and they were rebelling. At one point another passenger seated a little bit behind us asked for a seat change. I’d like to think it wasn’t because of our darling screamers but who knows. I couldn’t hear what she gave as her reason above the shrill shrieks of my 21 month old.

We were able to calm the Gorilla by this time with bribery. We promised to buy him whatever Thomas the Tank items he wanted as soon as we landed in Arizona. We would find the closest store and go shopping right away. I silently thanked God I brought our credit card and then it was up to me to calm Binxy because she’s mama’s girl through and through. However, finally I passed Binxy off to my mom. I was going to lose it. I was sure I was deaf in at least one ear and felt bruised from the constant kicking and punches from her little fists for nearly 2 hours.

5 minutes. It took 5 minutes with Grammy for her to calm down and go to sleep. SERIOUSLY!?! Whatever. I didn’t even care. The screams had subsided and I knew the ringing in my ears would eventually go away too. I relaxed for the remaining ride until we departed from the plane. As soon as we stepped off a couple people threw us the side-eye but then there were those who looked at us sympathetically and a couple even made passing comments about how they hoped our next flight went better. Way to make my anxiety rise about the next flight.

Thankfully we had a short layover and before we knew it we were back on another plane. I felt sick. Could we survive another couple of hours of screams? It turns out…we could. Because there wasn’t much screaming. The Gorilla was content because he knew he had won and was going on a shopping spree when this plane landed.  Binxy (the traitor) sat with Grammy and was as happy as a clam. The one time she made a peep, a friendly flight attendant fed her some yogurt (literally, spoon fed her the first few bites!), and she calmed down. I was relieved that they were so well-behaved but was on edge that at any moment they would snap and so I had myself an adult beverage and tried to relax. I was grateful when we landed without any major incidents. The other passengers were grateful too…several of them who had been on the first flight with us mentioned in passing that the kids did much better the 2nd time around. Thanks for noticing people, thanks for noticing.

We had made it to Arizona. Big Daddy Byron and the Gorilla went to claim our bags as Binxy and I headed to the rental car desk. The man there was super nice and actually from our neck of the woods in PA. Big Daddy and the Gorilla arrived and watched Binxy run around as I finished up the transaction. The rental car guy threw in our car seats for free because he said he could tell we were good parents from what he had seen while I was filling out the paper work. I told him, “You obviously weren’t on our flights, but thank you. We’ll take it.” He also hooked us up with a Dodge Charger because my “big brute” of a husband would “get a kick out of driving it.” Yep, every man’s dream is to drive a Charger loaded down with 2 car seats and screaming toddlers. I didn’t care though.  I was so happy we were back on the ground and he was friendly that he could have rented me a tandem bike and we would have pedaled off to our hotel with smiles on our faces.

Speaking of our hotel…tune in later this week for part 2 of our vacation with toddlers…it turns out that resorts aren’t so kid-friendly…


“Now that you’re 30…”

I’ve been a busy bee. Since school let out I’ve been in to work multiple times to move my stuff and the stuff from the retired math coach into my new room.  Here’s what it looked like:

Look at the hot mess I made!

Look at the hot mess I made!

Are you ready to see the “after” picture of my super organized and clean room?! Don’t hold your breath dear readers ‘cuz it ain’t happenin’! HAHAHA! I’m not the organized one, Big Daddy Byron is. That’s why you see him in the above photo. We made a big dent in getting things put away and organized today however there’s still work to be done. I’ll try to remember to take an “after” photo once we’re Big Daddy Byron is finished organizing everything.

So I’ve been busy but like most teachers, I had to make time to fit in all of my yearly medical and dental appointments now while school is out. Within a week of my summer vacation I found myself at the chiropractor as well as…the GYNO! Super fun, right? Well, it turns out I hadn’t had my annual check up in awhile.  You see, I was pregnant, giving birth, and caring for newborns for three years straight. So I forgot I needed to get my hoo-hah checked. (Did she really write that? – you) (You’re welcome. – me) 18 months after my youngest baby was born I realized I should get a check up and made an appointment.

Since I lived at visited my gyno’s office for 3 years, it’s no surprise that they knew me well. I didn’t expect that they’d remember me. The office staff was new to me but as soon as the nurse came out to get me, I recognized her. She collected my pee for nearly 3 years. You don’t forget the person who you pee in a cup for approximately 30ish times. She recognized me too with a cheerful, “Hi Kari! It’s been awhile since we’ve seen you! No more kids? You were on a roll there for awhile! Hahaha!” Funny.

Next up, the weight check. That was fun. Once that lovely number showed up on the screen, I quickly reminded my nurse friend that I was pregnant for practically 3 years straight and just had a baby…(20 months ago…but who’s counting?). She smiled politely and led me to my room where…well, if you’re a lady you know what happens and if you’re not…then you don’t need to know. The best nurse practitioner in the world works at my gyno’s office and I enjoy talking with her during my appointments. This appointment was no different and she was laughing at my humorous responses and I was relaxed at hearing her tell me that peeing myself after having 2 kids is normal.

The appointment was wrapping up. Then, Patty, the nurse practitioner, blindsided me. “Kari, now that you’re 30…”

I screamed. Well, yelled. “WHAT?! Patty, you’re killing me! Now that I’m 30!?!”

She laughed. “Yes, now that you’re 30 there’s a test we need to talk about. Didn’t you know there’s a list of things we have to talk to you about once you’re 30? Wait until you’re 40 and 50! We’ve got lists of things to talk to you about then too!”

So we chatted about this test I needed to know about now that I’m 30.  Ya know, I have really enjoyed the past 6 months of being 30. Until that moment in time. Then for a split second I panicked about being 30. I mean, I had to talk to a doctor about a test to detect cancer that I should consider because of my age. Because with age comes wisdom cancer. And other medical problems. It freaked me out…for about 5 minutes. Because then I walked out to the waiting room to check out, saw 2 pregnant ladies, and thanked my lucky stars that I have now not gotten pregnant for a record 20 months since my first pregnancy! Amen!

The Gorilla's 1st birthday party...where I was already 4-5 weeks pregnant with Binxy...though I had no idea. That's right, I didn't even make it a year without getting knocked up.  Happy 1st birthday Gorilla, you're gonna be a big brother!

The Gorilla’s 1st birthday party…where I was already 4-5 weeks pregnant with Binxy…though I had no idea. That’s right, I didn’t even make it a year without getting knocked up. Happy 1st birthday Gorilla, you’re gonna be a big brother!