Get me through this flight

You know how when you’re traveling with kids on a plane your only goal, besides getting to your destination, is that your kid not be the worst-behaved child on the plane?

Not the loudest? Not the most screamy?

Well, today we failed.

We tried and we failed.

We had a great vacation, and now it’s over. On one hand, I’m really happy to be home and have my own space and privacy. But on the other, all our support is gone and now we have to go back to doing everything ourselves.

And oh my GLOB, Oregon is freaking cold.


In closing, a haiku:

Get me through this flight

Crying, screaming, thrashing, sigh

I am so tired


NaBloPoMo Day 28

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Snacks on a Plane

17packing

 

We’re going home to California for the week of Thanksgiving and I’m all excited to BE there, but I am not at all excited to GET there.

Here’s how it’s gonna play out. I pack and worry and scream to try and make everyone be on time. Then I’ll worry some more about what we forgot and being on time. Dylan will break down in the security line and go to his dark place where he goes limp on the floor. Audrey will thrash so hard in the Ergo that she’ll ram her head on my sternum and make several bruises. And that’s all before we get on the plane.

On the plane there will be more thrashing and seat kicking and trying to reach buttons and wanting to crawl down the aisle. And the kids will act up too. (See what I did there? I’ll be here all week.)

Once we touch down in the land of milk and honey, we’ll be greeted by loving, rested grandparents ready to whisk our children away for stimulating play and healthy snacks while Brian and I fall asleep pass out for 5 days. Then we’ll wake up and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and go comatose for another 3.

Too soon it will be time to get on another plane and head back to Waterworld Oregon, where hopefully our cat hasn’t resentfully pooped on our pillows and vomited in our shoes. All the dirty laundry will steep in a small, smelly mountain in the hallway where I hope it will get so rank it’ll one day grow legs and walk itself into the washing machine.

I’ve decided that I’d actually like to enjoy our trip, so I plan to re-blog some of my favorite old posts while I’m gone, especially since I have some new readers and I’d like to share some pieces of which I’m rather proud.

Stay tuned, dear Psychos.


NaBloPoMo Day 16

Camping with a Toddler

We love to camp.

I grew up camping.  I was a Girl Scout for 11 years and then a camp counselor.  After that, my boyfriend, now husband (whom I met whilst camp counseling) got me hooked on backpacking.

I developed that love-hate relationship with it, where while I’m hiking up the hill in 1354627 degree heat, I just want to die…but once I get to the top, it’s all worth it.  Survival.  Independence.  Self-reliance.  All that good stuff that we are so excited to pass on to our kid.

We realized we hadn’t been camping in 4 years, and since I’m pregnant with #2, we needed to get in a trip RIGHT NOW before I am too big and before we have a screaming baby to take care of.

The short version of this story: camping was fucking hard.

Before going, I had read several articles about how camping with kids was so doable, you guys!  Just get out there and do it!

And, like a sucker, I was like, YEAH!  Let’s do this!  What could go wrong?!

The hardest part was trying to keep some kind of normal sleep schedule for my almost 2 year old.  He barely napped in the car on the way there.  Strike one.

We went out for dinner so we could hurry to the campsite and set up with enough time to put the kid to bed at a reasonable hour.  Now, we don’t co-sleep and we put our kid to bed while he’s still wide awake, so it’s his job to self-soothe himself to sleep.  I originally worried that there was no way we’d be able to get a pack n play into our tent, because I didn’t see how our thrashy sleeper would get any sleep (let alone US get any sleep) lying on an open mattress next to us.  Thank goodness our hand-me-down 5 person tent was plenty big enough to fit the pack n play next to a full sized blow up mattress for my pregnant hips.  It was a good start.

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Our sleep setup

So we get him to bed, and he’s super distracted (understandable) and it takes him a while to get to bed, but he does, and without crying.  When we go in the tent to sleep, I can smell that he’s poopy (my son, not my husband).  We decided to let him sleep with the risk that the poopy might give him a rash.

It was a horrible night.  I couldn’t sleep and my son couldn’t sleep.  Like, at all.  I woke up several times to my son standing in the pnp, leaning over me, whispering Mama.  Creepy as all hell.  Go the eff to sleep, kid.

He woke up upset at 6am, when he normally sleeps til 8 or 9, sometimes even later.  I got up to change his poopy (which had leaked all over everything. perfect.) which made him scream and he wouldn’t stop…..and we woke up the entire camp and FELT HORRIBLE.

Breakfast was tough, he didn’t want to eat, he wanted to run away into the road.  I was exhausted and cranky and pregnant.

To make matters worse, we had to break down camp completely because we had to switch to a new campsite for the second night.  Ugh.  We seriously considered just going home.

But I’m glad we didn’t.

Breakfast and cleanup and breaking down camp took forever because one of us had to do all the work while the other made sure Cranky McDidn’t Sleep stayed alive.  We managed to pack a lunch, get the hell outta there, and went to the beach (a very short drive away).  Dylan perked up, ate, ran through the freezing ankle-deep water.  We all had fun.  We saw a 100 year old shipwreck!

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Then we got to the second campsite and set everything up with enough time for Dylan to actually get a nap in before dinner.  He had to cry himself to sleep in order to do it, but he just needed to fuck-ing sleeeeeeeeeeep.

Unfortunately, he woke for dinner sooper cranky and crying and wanting to run out into the road, again.  It was incredibly frustrating and scary.  Everything during camping is hard to do anyway – cooking, washing dishes, set up, clean up – and it went even slower because one of us had to constantly be following Dylan around.  I now totally understand why parents put their kids in leashes.  Sign me up.

Thank goodness we had the genius forethought to plan hotdogs for dinner, because Dylan ate like a champ and I kid you not – halfway through the meal, his cranky whines stopped and he looked up at me and said, very calmly, Hi.  In response, I said, “Welcome back!”  And he was back, just like that.  My sweet, lovable, obedient little boy.  We went for a walk around the campground and he had his first s’more (loooved it) and we put him to bed and everything was glorious.  That night I slept, he slept, we all SLEPT.  And Dylan woke at his normal time, smiling and giggling like the horror that was yesterday never happened.

We had oatmeal and packed up and saw a cool fort and drove home and it was a very lovely day.  No one tried to run out into the road!

So.  Overall, it was a success.  A hard-fought success.

A few pointers for those still brave enough to attempt:

  1. Bring extra bedding.  Our leaky poopy experience taught us the hard way.
  2. Plan simple meals.  This one saved us.  Ain’t nobody got time for fancy meals when everything takes ten times as long and you have a hungry, cranky kid running into the road.
  3. Pack early.  With kids, you have to bring a lot of extra shit.  We left later than we wanted because we were scrambling to get everything and to make sure it all fit in the car.
  4. Reserve your campsite early.  The reason we had to switch campsites was because no one campsite was open two nights in a row because we waited so long to book.  Apparently people in Oregon loves them some camping.
  5. Be prepared to leave early if you need to.  Because every well-intentioned plan needs a backup.  Or an escape route.

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I’m very glad we went.  I’m glad we didn’t come home early.

And I don’t plan to do this again any time soon.

I’m Gonna Win at NaBloPoMo

Guess what?!

I think I’m gonna try this NaBloPoMo thing.  I think.  Maybe.

(NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month.  I’m already really tired of typing that, so maybe I should just shorten it to NBPM.)

It all started when I saw WP’s The Daily Post about it, and I thought, Hey.  November is almost here.  I’d kinda like to be a writer.  I’m unemployed outside the home and I enjoy typing in my pajamas.  And I don’t have a newborn this year!  And that was all I had to hear of my own voice before I convinced myself to take the plunge.  Although I totally should have done it last year when I did have a newborn, and I could have pledged to type all– wait, how many days in November?  Only 30!  Yaaaasss! –all 30 days one-handed whilst breastfeeding.  Now that would have been impressive.

And I’ve gone and announced my intentions publicly, so now I’m really on the hook.  Once I stop to think about what I’ve gone and done, this should be interesting.  And by interesting I mean I might fail, because I only have about two ideas for blog posts, and I plan to travel (read: fly) back to California for Thanksgiving with my walking-like-crazy toddler (pray for me, y’alls, pray for me) and so I may miss a few days here and there.  Or, my perfectionist self will yell, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!, so determined not to miss a day, I’ll be forced to attempt to use the WP app to post a frantic picture of myself wanting to melt into the terminal floor and die at the airport.  You won’t want to miss it.

Get ready for 30 days of run-on sentences!!  I can’t wait.

Drifting in Portlandia

So we’ve been here about a week now.

Here means just outside of Portland, Oregon.

It’s been a little rough, as I expected it would be.  I also suppose it hasn’t been as bad as my worst fears, so that’s something.

Brian and I both came down with the flu over Christmas (given to us by the movers who packed up our stuff), and that made for a pretty rotten holiday.  We made the most of it, but we were not able to do everything we had planned, and we were forced to skip seeing loved ones for fear of getting them sick, which really sucked.

We returned to our mostly bare apartment for one night in sleeping bags so that we could rise early, grab the cat, and make the 10 hour drive to Portland all in one day.

I have a love-hate relationship with this cat, and that morning it was definitely hate.  And pity, I suppose.  She refused to eat any of the sedative-infused food we offered her.  We had given her some a few weeks prior as a trial run, just to make sure she wasn’t allergic and to see how she would do.  I can only imagine that she remembered that experience and was like, “No effing way I am doing that again, you guys.”  We tried putting it in dry food.  We tried hiding it in chicken.  And then we tried just forcing it into her mouth and down her throat.  To no avail.  At this point we were behind schedule, so she got shoved into the cat carrier, hungry and unmedicated, and off we went.

Despite the struggles of the morning, Sadie (the cat) did pretty well.  She howled solidly for the first 45 minutes and then would pass out for 20 minutes at a time, only to wake up and howl some more.  I had to just emotionally detach myself from her in order to cope.  I kept telling her, “I love you, and you are safe,” which I think was more for my benefit than for hers.

The drive up was pretty damn gorgeous, and wonderfully uneventful (the cat howling aside).  We passed Shasta and saw a bit of snow in the shade in the mountains.  We stopped for lunch in Ashland, which was good to check out again.

We arrived at our new place after dark and I was just exhausted.  The cat was freaking out and had no bed to hide under.  We unloaded most of our two cars, ordered pizza, and then passed out on an air mattress.

This is the first time I’ve ever moved somewhere and not had something waiting for me on the other side.  We moved because my husband found an amazing job, which is awesome, and we are both thankful for that.  As for me, I am now left with the daunting task of trying to figure out how to get relicensed in this new state and how to find a job.  I know zero clinicians in Oregon, and so I am left to email perfect strangers to answer my questions.  We left the warmth and sunshine of California, and I can definitely feel that tugging at my wellbeing.  I wonder to myself if Oregon will ever really feel like home.

To sum up, I feel scared and sad, and somewhat stuck.  I am fighting it, but the energy only comes in spurts.  I am very, very thankful to have one good friend in the area I know from California, and of course my husband is there for me, as I am for him.

I don’t like moving and I don’t like change and I hate the unknown.  In my moodier states, I feel like I am on a raft, just drifting aimlessly in an endless foggy sea.  That just makes me want to curl up in a ball and wait until the raft bumps into something.

I guess I’d better fashion myself a friggin paddle.

A moment of fear

Two weekends ago, B and I went to our first wedding since attending our own.  As was expected, I had mixed feelings about going, mainly because I love weddings, but I knew it would also trigger some sadness leftover from grieving the yucky parts of Brian’s and my nuptials.

I did feel some sadness, especially when watching the bride and groom do the traditional things that Brian and I didn’t get to do the way we had hoped.  But.  Overall, we had a blast and took full advantage of the fact that we were at a wedding that wasn’t our own.  The best part was that we got to dance like mad fools.  It was liberating, as if every spastic movement my body made was shaking off the grief and flinging it aside.  We definitely took this opportunity to create another little corrective experience for ourselves.  I’m proud of us, and each day this wedding crap gets just a little smaller and more distant.

The wedding we attended was in Southern California, and Brian actually flew us down for the occasion.  (For more stories on what it’s like to fly in a tiny aircraft with your pilot partner, try this post and this one.)  I hadn’t flown with Brian for quite some time, and it had been a couple of years since I had flown with him for any great distance (this flight was set to take 2-3 hours one way, depending on the wind conditions).  Looking back, I think it might have been due to my intermittent depression and the time elapsed since I last flew, but I found myself running through morbid scenarios in my head about what might happen if we crashed.  Honestly, I think I was just feeling insecure and vulnerable in general, and then the thought of putting my life into someone else’s hands in a tiny-ass plane with no oh shit handle (see previous posts) compounded the swirling in my head.

The plane ride down to the wedding was great.  We had very little turbulence (which makes my anxiety go through the roof in such a small plane) and everything went pretty smoothly, despite strong headwinds that made the trip last a little longer than expected.  I felt calm, and the trip reminded me that flying can actually be fun.

The return flight began without problems, but ended very abruptly in what I can only describe as the most terrifying 10 minutes of my entire life.  We took off a few minutes after 1pm, and it was about 1:30 when I got out my ipad because I had just had an idea for a blog post, of all things.  I was typing away when I heard the usual roar of the engine quickly dim and sputter and then return to normal in the span of about two seconds.  My head shot up and looked at Brian.  “Did you do that?!” I demanded.

The look on his face made a chill run straight through me.

“No,” he said, “That wasn’t me.”

Brian flew into action, pushing buttons and pulling levers.  My heart rate skyrocketed and my muscles went completely rigid with fear.

And then it happened again.

At this point I remember looking down at the ground below us.  It was all foothills and mountains.  With my untrained eye, I couldn’t see any place where we might be able to make an emergency landing.  My fear turned to panic.

I don’t pray in the traditional sense, but now I was doing the closest thing to it.  Please, just let us live.  Both of us.

I did the only thing I could do at that point: I focused on calming myself down (or at least containing my fear) the best way I could.  I turned off my ipad, threw it in the back, shook some tictacs into my mouth, and put on a playlist I especially designed to calm me down when I am stressed out at work.  I closed my eyes and focused on breathing.  I pretended that I wasn’t in a plane, that my ass was firmly on the ground.  I was able to get my muscles to relax for a few seconds.

Brian immediately turned the aircraft steeply to the left, back towards a small airport we had passed a few minutes earlier.  Since the airport was on the left side of the aircraft, Brian had seen it but I hadn’t.  Plus, he was the one with all the navigational charts and maps.

Brian then got on the radio and told air traffic control that we were experiencing engine issues.  He explained the temporary loss of engine power we had experienced and they asked how many souls were on board, how much fuel we had, and if he wanted to declare an emergency.

Souls?!  Why does he need to know that?  So that when we crash, they can know how many bodies they are searching for?!

Brian said he didn’t want to declare an emergency, but he did want to land as soon as possible.  Air traffic told Brian to switch to another frequency so the small airport could talk to us without any other aircraft interfering.  They offered to let us land on a runway that would have required Brian to circle the pattern, which would have taken time.  Brian saw another runway that we were headed straight towards, and he also requested a straight in approach.  The airport gave us the go ahead – whatever we needed to be able to land asap.

Brian pointed up ahead for me.  “See that runway?  That’s where we’re going to land.”

Once I had a target, a destination in place, I focused on that and time seemed to stand still, but my mind did not.

Would the engine hold out until we got on the ground?

Would we be able to land safely from this altitude, from this speed?

I looked down again, because the straight in approach meant that we were now flying over a densely populated area.  Now I was praying for the safety of the people below us.  If we didn’t make it, I didn’t want anyone else to be hurt as a result.

I was completely freaking out, still not really sure how much danger we were in, and all I wanted was comfort from Brian, which he couldn’t give me.  Both of my hands were clinging to the oh shit handle, because that was all I could do.  I couldn’t help, and I wasn’t fully understanding the situation, so my job was to trust Brian,  let him do his job, and not get in the way.

There was a lull in Brian’s communication with the tower, and I could tell that the engine still didn’t sound like it was running correctly, so I turned to him and asked, “Are we going to be ok?”

My voice came out sounding like I was 5 years old.  I didn’t even recognize it as my own.

Brian looked at me and paused.  “Yes.  We’re going to be ok.”  I knew that Brian wasn’t sure, and I love him for saying the right thing.  Nevertheless, I remember a whine escaping my throat that reminded me of a lonely puppy.

It took forever for us to reach the airport.  Indeed, Brian was trying to slow the aircraft down and still get us on the ground in as short a time as possible.  We were lower now and Brian said that he was going to put the airplane into a “slip,” which meant we ended up flying in sideways to create a bunch of drag and slow the airplane down enough to land.

It was a nail-biting landing for me, but Brian did a fabulous job as far as I was concerned.  He taxied so we were just off the runway and then cut the engine so we could get out and wait for the firetrucks that were now screaming towards us.

I immediately felt relief, and I also felt this numbness, this urge to act like nothing had just happened.

We got out of the plane, and we just kind of stood there for several minutes not knowing what to do.  It was cold and windy (and I think my body was in shock) so Brian got me out a sweatshirt.  But it was quite a while until we actually looked at each other, hugged, and emotionally acknowledged what had just happened.  We were also standing around and waiting with mechanics and firefighters who started to show up, and we oddly cracked some jokes and had a few nervous laughs.

To wrap up this long story, we spent another several hours at this airport waiting for the maintenance crew to figure out what was wrong with the engine and we ended up renting a car and having to drive the last 5 hours home, because there was no way in hell I was getting back into that plane, fixed or not.

We arrived home very late, very tired, and very traumatized.  I’m not sure that I’ve still fully processed this, hence the blog post. The process of writing it was interesting, because I had trouble putting all the events in the correct order.  It interests me how selective and fallible our memories can be.

After talking about this with Brian, he explained exactly what happened and I realized that I had irrationally assumed that if we had lost engine power, we would have just fallen out of the sky – which was the source of the majority of my panic.  Brian ended up doing some calculations, and had we lost all power, we still would have been able to glide to that airport and land – which both boggles my mind and makes me feel better.

The end result is that I plan to take some form of a “pinch hitter” course – a crash course in how to land a plane (pun intended).  The idea of taking the course scares me, but not as much as not taking it does.  At any rate, that experience should also make for another good story.

Transitional periods are hard

Hello there, Psychos.

I’ve missed you.  Well, I have and I haven’t.  It [my honeymoon] was actually a very nice break from blogging, from wedding crap, from my job, from the world.

I was able [read: forced] to completely unplug whilst on a giant ass boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, and it felt good.  Wireless was crazy expensive on the boat, and the only things I used my phone for was as an alarm clock and to stitch together amazing panoramas of European villages I want to retire to (in like 5 years).

But it’s interesting, because now that I am back, I want to write, I feel the need to write, but I don’t know what to write about.  I also want to put a post between me and my last one…so here you go.  I just started typing to see what comes out.

So I started this post several days ago, and just last night I got a surprising email – my Post Wedding Blues post is going to be Freshly Pressed, and my first reaction was not excitement.  I think my first worry was that I’ll get all this unsolicited advice about how I need to look on the bright side and how I shouldn’t dwell on the wedding, it’s the marriage that’s important.  (A side note about advice like this – I find it very interesting that many people in our Western culture have a hard time tolerating sadness, whether it’s their own or someone else’s.  We’re taught very early to act like everything’s fine or to cheer people up rather than just accept and deal with what is.  Perhaps this is a post for another day…) I’m wondering if dealing with all the FP-ness is going to hinder or help my fragile mood as of late.  Being FPed is an honor and a part of me is excited – maybe it’ll give me that push to start really writing again – but it’s also a vulnerable place to be.  I’ll get a lot of exposure from all different kinds of people and that can be awesome but it brings about just that – the feeling of being exposed.

My depressed mood hasn’t all been about wedding stuff.  I had a lot of fun on my honeymoon, and I was able to just be in the present for the vast majority of it, but we came home to a hurricane of an apartment and it’s driving me crazy.  We registered for crap for a house we don’t yet have, and that crap is now piled and shoved into our tiny two bedroom apartment.  Right now I feel like I am drowning in stuff – the walls are closing in.  More importantly, B and I both came home to jobs from which we’ve learned all we can, and we both feel that it’s time to move on – professionally and personally.  At this point, before we’re able to actually make these major changes, I am not sure how I am supposed to keep this feeling of unrest from eating me alive.

The only answer so far has been for me to clean, organize, pile, and give shit away like a maniac on speed.  I obsess over what I can give away next, or how I can maximize my closet space beyond what I’ve already done.  In my calmer moments, I am also able to reassure myself that this period of my life is transitional, it’s temporary, and I will get through it.  Plus, now I have an amazing husband to get through shit with, and that’s the best part.