Saturday, September 4, 2010

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Johnny is away tonight and Thora is sleeping so while my husband is having a video-game-nerdfest sleepover date with his best pal (whose wife and kids are away) I am home alone, left with exciting chores like checkbook balancing. I've got itchy fingers - I am overdue for a blog post. Of course he took the computer with him (and with it, all our pictures) so I am logged in on my work laptop, delivering a nearly text-only blog entry that probably no one will read. (Sorry.)

At some point when I wasn't looking, Thora got big. I mean really big. She is almost seven months old and she weighs close to 20 pounds! The topography of her gums is all bumpy and jagged now so I really think a tooth or two are on the way soon. She eats fruit. She sits up. She rolls over. She gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth like she could take off crawling any second. This week she started Level 2 of Gymboree and the "teacher" put her on an incline with a toy incentive and Thora wiggled her way toward the prize. The "teacher" smiled and said, I give it another four to five weeks before she's a pro at crawling! Four to five weeks?! Yikes! I am excited and terrified at the same time to think that she will soon be more mobile than she already is. It's hard enough to get used to the fact that she can somehow work her way across a blanket or roll off a bed (which she has now done twice). The weirdest thing though is that she has HAIR. It's tufty and irregular but it's hair. Blonde hair! I look at this robust, blonde, blue eyed smile-machine and think, how did this child come from me?

I feel like the summer flew by and we learned a lot. Mostly we learned that Thora does not like car rides. We took three separate trips this summer that involved considerable driving and not once did Johnny and I get to sit side by side in the front for more than 15 minutes. Every book says babies sleep in cars, sometimes better than they do when they aren't in cars! I am the kind of person who falls asleep almost immediately in a moving vehicle of any kind and even at the age of 37 I have to fight to stay awake when I'm riding so as not to be rude to the driver or other passengers. Not Thora. She had no real trouble falling asleep but she could not stay asleep. This made her cranky, which made us cranky. I am the kind of person who gets horrible motion sickness from reading a map or a text message, and I am also the kind of person who can't put her Blackberry down for more than five minutes, so we were cranky and I was constantly on the verge of throwing up in the backseat with a fussy baby next to me. It's also a pain in the neck to have her strapped in. You have to stop the car to nurse or to change a diaper, which when coupled with how often I have to pee and my newly-minted-mommy paranoia ("Slow down! There's a baby in the car! Not to mention we can't afford a speeding ticket! I don't care if you're going slower than the rest of the traffic!"), really slowed us down. Usually when she fusses, I nurse and the problem is solved, but this is very complicated when the nurser is strapped into a car seat and the nurse-ee is made of things like bones and other inflexible materials. One time it was so bad that in desperation I undid my seat belt and draped myself across the car seat and tried to nurse. Johnny stopped short as I contorted myself to fit a boob in the babe, and my ribs got the brunt of the blow. I managed to calm my kid, but my ribs hurt for weeks afterward. I don't recommend it.

She didn't mind the planes, thankfully. I heard a lot of horror stories so I was armed with extra diapers, extra clothes for her and me, new toys, cookies and a whole lot of resolve to not care what our seat neighbors thought of us, but we didn't need any of it. Thora made the grouchiest of passengers smile. But we learned that even though she is good on planes, it is a major pain in the butt to travel with kids. Especially if you are me, who moves very quickly and doesn't like to schlep a lot of stuff. Everything goes very slowly when you have kids and you are trying to go somewhere. And the stuff! Car seats. Strollers. Clothing for a week. Diapers and wipes! (We normally use cloth so it was really eye opening to learn HOW MANY disposable diapers and wipes a kid can go through). Toys. Loveys. And so on. We couldn't cram everything into carry-ons so we checked a bag apiece which hurt our wallets and slowed us down even more because we then had to find the carousel and wait for our luggage to arrive long after we had.

While we were in Asheville (where we were for my work but we had a couple days to play as well), we went to dinner one night at a nice tapas place. We dressed nicely (all three of us! Thora was in her new black "skinny jeans" from BabyGap which says more about what a sucker I am than anything else) and brought snacks and toys for Thora. We were led, thankfully, to a table waaaaay in the back with no one around us. Thora sat, for the second time ever, in a high chair while we drank red wine and ate lots of bread soaked in olive oil, grilled mushrooms, olives, paella, and so on. Mmmm. I was halfway through my first glass of wine since before getting pregnant, starting to relax, watching Thora tear apart a piece of Italian bread, when I saw her make her very unconcerned face which can only mean that she is pooping.

So there I was, relaxed (okay, buzzed) for the first time in ages since I hadn't had anything in 15 months (and I'm not a drinker to begin with) and waaaay in the back of a nice restaurant with a baby that just pooped. A lot. I gathered some stuff to change her: a diaper, wipes, changing pad. This restaurant is set up in such a way that there's no access to the bathroom except via a long hallway all the way near the front door, so I had to walk all the way through the dining areas to get to the hallway to walk all the way to the bathroom only to find that there's no changing table. The floor was concrete and the poop was, in a word, everywhere. I put the changing pad on the floor and got on my hands and knees and changed the baby. I didn't bring extra clothes with me to the bathroom so I balled up her disgusting, pooped on, formerly cute outfit along with everything else and walked back through the dining areas with a totally naked baby in one arm and a wadded up ball of grossness in the other. Johnny rooted in the diaper bag and found a onesie that we stuck her in and we put her back in the high chair and gave her more bread while the waiter, who very kindly pretended not to notice, brought us a plastic bag. Then I had to go back and wash my hands. Only then could I get back to the business of more red wine and more food. Whereupon I got the giggles. And Johnny and I finished up and wandered back toward the hotel, holding hands, laughing, making fun of each other's wine-stained teeth, snapping pictures (that are on the other computer), and making extravagant plans for dessert and more wine. But as soon as we got back both Thora and I fell dead asleep, leaving Johnny to watch three hours of Family Guy reruns on some cable channel we don't have at home. So much for date night.

The best part about summer really has been the swimming. Never one to parade around in a bathing suit, I got two new ones this summer and really took to the water like a fish. Thora too. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, Thora, Johnny, or me. So wherever we went, we took her in the water. In Asheville, our hotel had an outdoor pool. In upstate New York we had a lake and a pool. The other trip upstate brought us to a secluded swimming hole. And tomorrow we will go visit our friends Marla and Milo and go to their pool for perhaps the last swim of the summer. While I am really ready to say goodbye to summer and the 90+ degree days we've had day in and day out, I am sorry to see the city pools and beaches close this weekend, before we even had a chance to go to them. Now it's time to sign her up for swim lessons or find a pool we can join so we can do this all year long!


  1. I've done the nursing in the car! But it was a Miami traffic jam. :)

  2. Of all the sacrifices of motherhood, trotting around in a bathing suit ranks high on my list.


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