Traveling With Tots.

Disclaimer- This post is not directed at anyone personally. Sometimes I forget myself what it entails to travel with little people. The post is general thoughts and information only.

People forget that toddlers are little PEOPLE. Whenever I am invited to stay somewhere, they expect me to throw a hat and sunscreen in a bag for me and the kids and take off. For some reason people think of “housewife” and “doing nothing” synonymously. “You just stay at home, so you can  just get in the car and come visit!” You know, cuz I am a prisoner at home just dying to get out and have no plans of my own. And people, for some reason, think of “kids” as “pets” with no mind-power of their own, willing to follow me blindly anywhere. (Yes, i am the authority figure and they “have” to do what i say, but i feel uncomfortable if i am constantly forcing them to do everything).

Maybe I just over-prepare. I do tend to be a planner and have always loved my lists. I am a homebody as well. I LOVE being at home. I do not enjoy traveling lately. Did I when I was younger? Yah, sure. But even then I’d rather be gone 3 days or decide to live there. Long term ( anything over 5 days in my mind) travel never appealed to me. Maybe when I am older…and can afford better travel accommodations. Ha ha.  When I travel on my own I am constantly forgetting essentials for myself, like a toothbrush or contact stuff. I get nervous packing for little beings that depend on me. Some of you parents out there must know the feeling.

People that invite us out, from the goodness of their hearts (which I appreciate), forget about the preparation. Sometimes it’s like prepping an octopus to win a gold in the Olympics.Especially if you are somewhere isolated. The clothes alone. Let’s say your kids are extremely low maintenance. People seem to think all the clothes you need for your kids for the week will fit in a kiddie backpack.They may be smaller but you do need twice as many of them. For accidents or spills or if they get too dirty or cold….So they take up just as much room as an adult’s. And because little people get hot or cold easily, you have to account for all weather possibilities. If you are somewhere with a washing machine it’s easier. But you still need quite a few clothes! Especially if it’s a long drive- you have to account for juice spills or accidents when you can’t find a potty or spot to stop on the road fast enough. Or an exploding diaper, if they are still in diapers.

My kids get carsick. So there is also that to account for. Although that makes it slightly easier since they aren’t allowed milk in the car, only water.

There’s the snacks, the foods, the wipes, the diapers, the toys, the books, the clothes. There’s the videos to add to the portable laptop…yes we use videos. Oh man, I was dead set against it at first. “My parents never used videos!” I would protest!! But then, my parents drove with us for a max of 3 hours at a time until we were older. After half a dozen car trips with two over-tired toddlers screaming behind us, I caved. Now when they are over-tired a video goes in and it quiet periodically until they fall asleep. I used to tell Izzy to watch the scenery to calm her and make her sleepy. That was, until I found out that watching out the window for that long made her feel sick.

 

My kids, for example, are extremely sensitive to most soaps. So you have to remember to pack or buy soaps. The list just goes on and on….

 

Then there are the things you forget until you are a new parent again. Anyway, enough ranting. A Little Miss book actually said it better than I ever could….

 

“Something Mr.Nonsense had said had actually made sense. She had never thought of going on vacation before. The more she thought about it the happier she felt. She thought of all the fun things she could do:

There was the planning and organizing, there was all the shopping she would have to do, there was the packing, and she would have to learn the language, and read lots of books about the place she was going to visit.

That’s a lot of work!!

Little Miss Busy smiled happily.”
– Little Miss Busy by Roger Hargreaves

 

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Doin’ It All

I was with a group of women the other day and we were talking about our household duties. Some of us are stay-at-home moms, and some of us work and then come home to do our housecleaning etc…All of us have a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend at home. And every one of the women I talked to agreed on one point.

 
We would rather do it all than have it done “wrong”.

 

 

A couple of us stated that we love it when our spouse helps with certain tasks ….. but stay away from other tasks entirely! We would rather do it ourselves than watch our partner do it and go back to “fix it”.

Now experts say that wives and mothers need to loosen up. That it isn’t the “wrong” way but just a different way than we would have done it. The women that I talked to would disagree. Key examples that kept coming up were the dishwasher and the laundry. Laundry was a bit of a picky point….we didn’t like how our spouse folded the laundry or that he/she didn’t take it out of the washing machine fast enough so it would still be warm when it was folded etc….which is pretty minor when you think of it and maybe most of us need to let that go. Some of us had a problem with the fact that if we fold it neatly ourselves our partner would just shove it in their drawers in a ball anyway. (That last one makes me mad too).

The dishwasher woes seemed more concrete. Especially for the women with husbands. The husbands all seem to be keen on helping fill the dishwasher above other household tasks. After talking to the group I found that they also all seem to be keen on jamming it as full as possible, even if it means slightly stacking things or tipping things on their sides. Then, when it was done washing and the husbands were at work, the wives would go and empty the dishwasher and find that – surprise! – dishes that are snug up against each other don’t get clean. So they would end up rinsing and running the dishwasher again, or scraping and hand-washing those dishes. Which adds to the workload. The husbands seem to ignore or get mad when offered constructive criticism….or straight up criticism. So….many of the women I talked to had “given up” (as they put it) and had banned their hubbies from filling the dishwasher…and whatever other tasks he “helped” with. Instead they said they were “saving themselves time” by just doing it themselves.

Now. Husbands/Spouses/Partners out there: Are you offended? Or are you shaking your head in agreement that this is so true? Or …. Is this all a part of a world wide evil plan to get out of household tasks?

Biking!

Isabella had her first full day of using her bike with training wheels. We took her to Confederation Park in Calgary, which is beautiful. Full of trees and great walking paths, it was a good choice for her first day. Away from traffic and quite a few straight paths.

At first she was a little hesitant and was using her brake excessively. I pointed out some bikers whizzing past and told her that with practice she could go as fast as they were. She took it to heart and was soon zooming so fast I had to run to keep up. Izzy decided that Daddy has longer legs, so could keep up with her better. Daddy took over and it wasn’t long before they were little dots ahead of us.

Biking with Daddy. With a lot of zoom we could see them.

She got more and more brave. It was very cool. I can’t believe she is already 4 and old enough to have a bike with training wheels!

Hunter was happier drinking out of the water fountain than biking. I spent the walk back hauling him in my arms and carrying his “Rock N’ Ride” bike ( a hand me down from Izzy now that she has her new bike).

After we spent a couple of hours biking outside we decided to take the kids to A&W as a treat. (Okay, okay, Mommy was craving it. But it’s still a special treat for the kids). Izzy was a little fussy since she was overtired and had been in the sun so long. It was so hot outside! The kids eventually settled and ate a lot. There was an older man- retired, maybe 60-65, who kept looking over at us. He was eating alone and reading the paper. Short with white hair Danny Devito style, and a white button up shirt  I thought he was annoyed that Izzy was fussing and interrupting his reading. The man came over to our table as he was leaving. He says, “I’m sorry to interrupt your lunch but I couldn’t help but notice your bandanna in your hair.”

 

I had my hair up like this:

 

 

The man continues, ” My mom used to put her hair up like that when we lived in England. It was how the ladies used to put their hair up in the factories too. I haven’t seen that style for a long, long time and it brought back a lot of memories. Anything that reminds me of good times with my mum is alright with me.” Aw! He told me I pulled off the style, same as his mom did. So awesome.

 

A good day for all!

Of Crying and Death

Isabella now has a stage where she cries. Big, wracking sobs that only a toddler could believe in. Not fake tears, she is truly heartbroken. Heartbroken that there is no juice left, that her show is over, that she is about to ask for a snack that she is sure mommy will say no to so the crying begins before the question. Preemptive crying? Oh, brother. It happens often and she gives her whole soul in to it. It is worse than tantrums. If I say, in low tones, “Izzy, Enough” (Or Hiro the Train or Sammy the Sloth or whoever she is pretending to be that day..) she cries harder and exclaims, “Don’t Momma! Don’t be MAD at ME!!” and there is a lot of wailing after. I have to bend to her level and practically whisper. When  I am mad I have to count to 1000 to accomplish this. Otherwise I yell, or talk too loudly, as you can well imagine. It’s not coddling. For all of her bravado she is a VERY sensitive child, and normally very sweet. Sweet, persistent, confident,  and stubborn. Qualities that will do her well in life if I tend to them right and let them become blossoms rather than weeds.

 
My sensitive, sweet child went to a wedding with us recently. She knows the family well. They used to live a few blocks from us and now live 6 hours away. So we made the trek to see them and celebrate their special day. Weddings are very confusing to Isabella. She doesn’t understand why it’s about love but she can’t marry mommy, daddy and her brother. Or all of her friends. Cute. So we go. It is a very emotional wedding. The bride and groom have been together 15 or 16 years and are finally getting hitched. They have a 4-year-old son and a two-year old daughter. They have been planning to get married for a while and we are all very excited. Also, the groom has stage 4 cancer (Melanoma). He has gray skin(cancer is indeed a battle),  and an optimistic smile. The bride and groom looked amazing at their wedding and two nicer people couldn’t be found. It’s rare to like both the man and the woman of a couple, sadly. Both Josh and I love both of these people equally, even tho we rarely saw the groom as he used to be busy flying planes.

 

Oh where was I? Oh yeah…so at the end the bride requests we all join hands and stand in a circle. We comply. What now? She says some very sweet words of how she loves all of us and that her strength is made grander by our love and support. Then, to the surprise of the groom, she asks him to sit on a white folding chair in front of her, and asks that we gather around and pray or beg or vibe for his recovery from cancer. She faces him in the other white chair. I am far back in the circle but see him cover his face and I am sure he is crying. The bride bends over to hug him and they are one tight ball of love and support for each other. Then the circle closes in as the DJ plays “Everybody Hurts” by REM and a group hug of one hundred plus people forms. Everyone is crying. I am holding Hunter and he is very upset, almost angered, by the mood shift in the air. I start to cry but it upsets Hunter so much that I chant “The groom is recovering, he will be fine” in my head to help me choke back my tears. I soothe Hunter. The song is winding down. People start dispersing. Izzy and Josh have somehow ended up a few feet away. It is just the bride and groom in the center again. I see my sweet Izzy run up and say something to the bride and then give beautiful hugs to each of them. I choke up.  When everyone is standing in a lazy circle talking and crying to each other and watching the bride and groom start their first dance, Izzy turns to me and says, “I want to give everyone a big hug to make them feel better.” I say okay and she starts her way around the circle. She was serious and looks determined to hug every single guest. She gets to about 20 people before the dance officially starts and everyone’s mood seems to lift, so she stops. Also, everyone is now so scattered she has lost track of whom to hug and starts to dance. My sweet sensitive girl.

So we get home and two days later I hear Isabella say, “Mommy, wake up. What is “dead” mean?” I have to explain and I do, in short, honest sentences. I say it’s when a person gets sick or stops breathing and so isn’t living anymore. Some people believe there is a magical land in the sky we go to when we are dead called Heaven. But things that are dead we don’t see or visit anymore on Earth where we live. All day after that it is,”Can monkeys die? Can zebras?” and then, “Trains can’t die cuz they are hard and they are made right? But our cats could die cuz they are born?” She got this from her own intelligent brain, I didn’t really explain that part. I am unsettled but know that every toddler goes through this phase. It is possible she is starting to understand that her friend’s dog, who she loved, is dead and is finally processing it. Or it could be coincidence. I try to be as straight forward as possible and not dance around the issue. It is a part of living, is dying, and if she is curious I want her to be clear about it. So hopefully I am doing the right thing.

 
And that was yesterday. Today,so far, no talk of death. We have watched No Doubt’s new music video about 50 times and I am pretty sure that Izzy has a girl crush on Gwen and Hunter wants to be Tony. Haha. Toddlers!