NY Trip Photo Bomb (part 1)

Okay, so there I go bragging about how I’m back from vacation and ready to dive into this blog-a-day thing again and I go and disappear again. Funny how that happens. But, in my defense, I had a photo assignment for a local magazine, a 2-year-old who hasn’t been feeling 100%, and my parents in town for the weekend. So, I took a little break.

In the meantime, I’ve been uploading the thousand or so photos I took while we were in New York, sorting and processing them. Of course, I wish I’d been able to take a whole lot more, but I got some really great shots. I still have more to get through, but I figured I better break it up into a few blog posts so I don’t totally overwhelm you. So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s part 1 of the NY Trip Photo Bomb.

Enjoy!

We got to the airport in Kansas City early, so we passed the time doing a little drawing…

Then, we boarded our first flight of the day, and had a little licorice during take-off…

After landing in NY, we picked up our rental car and headed to Concordia to meet up with friends and let Cadence blow off a little pent up steam. After riding in cars and airplanes all day, she was ready to stretch her little legs. We were welcomed in grand fashion by some of our dearest college friends.

Here’s the handsome groom himself, Gary, who was kind enough to set up a picnic table and order a few pizzas. Ah, New York pizza. We’ve missed you! And Gar Bear, we missed you even more! ūüôā

Tune in tomorrow to see photos from some of our Long Island adventures!

Shortly after, Joan, Mike Katie Shea, and Timothy arrived to eat and play…

And Cadence told them all about flying on two airplanes, and pointed out every one that flew over campus…

The kids had a blast playing…

Cadence and Joan became fast friends…

Cadence was starting to look a little worn out…

Until her little buddy Nay-nay (Nathan) arrived…

After a few Skype dates, she was so excited to finally meet him in person!

And Nathan was totally turning on the charm for the ladies…

As evening set in, more friends arrived–Donny, Maria, Olivia, Ella, George, Amy, Lorelei, and Audrey–and we all had a blast hanging out, just like old times…Well, old times plus a whole lot of kids! ūüôā

Unfortunately, between being busy talking and chasing my kiddo and the fading light, I had to retire the camera for the night. But, as Steven, Cadence and I said our see-ya-laters to our friends and headed to Long Island, I managed to grab a few quick shots of one of my favorite cities in the whole world as we sped by in the darkness.

Hello New York! Boy, have we missed you!

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

I missed my blog post yesterday. Total 365 Project failure folks. I’d like to say, I did try. After the long day of packing and traveling and utter mayhem, I put Cadence down to sleep and turned on my laptop to discover two things:

1. Pawpoo Shawn changed the password on his wireless network, and

2. I just didn’t have the energy or the motivation to try logging in with my phone to post.

So, here I am tonight instead, making up for lost time and filling you in on yesterday’s craziness.

But first, let’s back up a few days…

So, as you all know, I’ve been battling some fierce allergies this spring. I’ve never had allergies so bad, and there have been several days that I’ve given serious though to just sewing my nostrils shuts to keep the pollen out of my sinuses. If I didn’t hate breathing out of my mouth so much, I just might have tried it.

Steven keeps telling me that he thinks I’m sick, that it can’t be allergies. And then, as if to prove his point, he goes and gets sick over the weekend. He even had to stay home from work Monday and Tuesday because he was a coughing, sneezing, achy, congested mess. So, maybe I was a little sick, but everyone at Steve’s office said this kind of cruddy flu has been going around for a couple of weeks, so we’re not the only¬†ones suffering.

Since Steven was home Monday and Tuesday, I decided to get a jump on packing for my Colorado trip. I’m the world’s worst when it comes to packing. I always put it off until the last minute. And then I stress myself (and my poor hubby) out and end up overpacking because I’m just frantically throwing anything and everything that we could possibly want or need into the suitcase. Since it would just be Cadence and I traveling, I didn’t want to overdo it, and I wanted to make sure I packed our carry-on bag smart with a variety of toys and activities and snacks to keep her occupied during the flight.

Mostly, I just didn’t want a repeat of our last flight alone together. In case you need a refresher (and a good laugh), follow the link…

The Joys of Traveling with a Toddler

So, I was seriously proud of myself when I managed to get my camera bag and our carry-on/diaper bag fully packed and set aside on Monday. Go me!

Since I’d booked a 7:40 pm flight on Wednesday, I figured I could spent Wednesday morning packing the suitcase. The plan was to get up, get Cadence situated with some breakfast, take a quick shower, turn on a movie to keep Cadence busy while I gathered all of the clothes and bathroom items for the trip, then wait until Steven came home for lunch to pack. Then, I’d have the afternoon for any last minute stuff and time to get Cadence down for a quick nap.

That was the plan. Here’s how it really went down.

Cadence woke up and her crib was soaked. Apparently, she’d taken off her pajamas during the night, and managed to pull her diaper halfway off. So, I got her up, bathed her, got her dressed, and put her in her high chair to eat some breakfast while I stripped her crib and started a load of laundry to wash her sheets.

I sat down for a quick cup of coffee while I went through my email. I wanted to make sure I had all my projects and work stuff taken care of before the trip. And wouldn’t you know that I had half-a-dozen new inquiries and assignments waiting in my inbox that morning, so I spent the next 30 minutes replying while Cadence ate breakfast. I took a quick break to get her cleaned up when she was done eating and rotate the laundry, then spent the next¬†hour or so¬†replying to the rest of the emails and updating my calendar.

At some point, Cadence managed to get into the diaper bag and unpack half of it trying to get to the new Elmo coloring books I’d bought for the trip. Of course, there was the threat of an epic meltdown when I took everything away from her so I could repack the bag, but I managed to pull the good ol’ “bait and switch” by popping Hop into the blu-ray player and bribing her with a fruit snack.

I managed to get the bag repacked by the time Steven came home for lunch, so I sat down and inhaled a plate of leftover spaghetti pie before heading upstairs to pull out all of the clothes Cadence and I would be taking on the trip. Then, I took a quick shower and gathered our toiletries for the trip. By the time Steven headed back to work, I had everything ready, I just needed to put it all in the suitcase.

And then, everything started to go really wrong.

Electra followed Steven out as he left to go back to the office, and was content to spend the afternoon in the yard sniffing and tracking. And Cadence seemed content playing in her kitchen on the sunporch, so I snuck into the bathroom for a moment to pull my wet hair up into a ponytail. I was just finishing up when Cadence suddenly appeared in the doorway.

“Uh-oh Momma. Poop. Poopy potty,” she said.

I had about 3.7 seconds of being excited and thinking that Cadence had come to tell me that she needed to go poop on the potty, but then I realized that she’d already gone and that she was wearing big girl underwear.

You wanna know what’s worse than trying to get a pair of poop-filled¬†underwear off a squirming 2-year-old?

Nothing.

There’s nothing in the world that’s worse than that.

I’m not even exaggerating, folks. You should consider yourself lucky if you both make it out alive.

An hour later, after both of us were sterilized and wearing clean sets of clothes, I started another load of laundry and then took Cadence up to put her down for a nap. She wasn’t tired at all (and in all honesty, I think she’s about ready to drop her afternoon naps), but it was already 2:45 and I hadn’t even started packing the suitcase yet. If nothing else, I figured I could put her in her crib, zip the crib tent closed, and have an hour or two of uninterrupted packing time before we had to head out the door to the airport.

Cadence went in her crib without a fuss, and as I finally began packing the suitcase, I listened to her over the monitor singing her ABC’s and jumping up and down. I managed to get all of our clothes packed, then carried the suitcase downstairs to finish packing the last of our toiletries. The only thing missing was the stack of overnight diapers I’d left sitting on Cadence’s changing table, but those would have to wait until it was time to get her out of bed to go.

I figured I could go ahead and get my camera bag and backpack in the car, so I grabbed the car keys and opened the back door.

In all the afternoon craziness, I’d completely forgotten about Electra, but I saw her as soon as I opened the door, standing off to the patio to my left, half-hidden by one of the planter beds. She looked up at me, as if I’d startled her or interrupted something. Then, she bent down, grabbed something in her mouth, and darted off around the side of the house.

I’d seen just enough of the grayish-brown fur to know it was a rabbit.

Damned if¬†our¬†lazy hound didn’t finally caught herself a rabbit! And of course, it would happen today!

I just shook my head as I put the bags in the car. Then, I went around the side of the house to see if the little bunny had actually survived Electra’s overzealous playfulness.

No such luck.

There was the poor little bunny, stretched out on the sidewalk, and poor Electra licking it and nudging it with her nose, probably wondering why her little friend wasn’t getting up to hop anymore.

RIP little bunny

I took Electra by the collar and led her in the house, locking her in while I disposed of the carcass. Ugh! It wasn’t even 5:00 and I’d already cleaned up shit and dead bodies. How much worse could this day possibly get? Oh, that’s right, I was getting on a plane with my 2-year-old in a few hours. At that point, I began to prepare myself for the worst.

Luckily, except for my sinuses plugging up tight just in time to board the airplane, I have absolutely no complaints about the trip. We got to the airport early enough to grab some dinner as a family. Cadence and I said goodbye to Steven and managed to make it through security with no issues. Then we boarded the plane and got strapped in for the short flight to Denver. Cadence was content to eat her snacks, color, and watch movies on the Ipad, never once complaining for the entire flight. There were no diaper explosions or screaming trips to the airplane lavatory, no crazy overtired meltdowns, nothing at all.

Cadence showing her Momma what a big girl she is and traveling like a champ on the airplane.

Thank God. After the day I had, I don’t know if I could have survived it.

And so, we have arrived in Colorado, safe and sound, and we’re having a blast hanging out with Pawpoo Shawn, Granny Wendy, Aunt Whitney and Uncle Collin.

Cadence showing her Uncle Collin all her favorite Ipad games and movie trailers.

Now, if you’d all pray for us to have an uneventful trip back home on Tuesday, I’d really appreciate it! ūüôā

365 Project – Day 25 – It Feels Like Coming Home

Coming home from an extended vacation should be an Olympic event. At the very least, you should be able to list it on your professional resume because it takes a certain amount of strategy and skill to actually arrive back home in one piece.

First, there’s the luggage. Everything that you so carefully and skillfully packed just days ago must be repacked and hauled back home, yet instead of carefully folding and rolling and organizing everything back into your luggage, you eagerly adopt the Stuff It & Pray method of packing. What else can you do? Somehow everything you brought on the trip seems to be taking up twice as much space as it did just a week ago, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to have to go out and buy a duffle bag and pay another annoying baggage fee. Me? I’d rather just cut my losses and leave the shit behind. Let it all end up on someone else’s episode of Hoarders.

Then, doesn’t it always seem that just when you’re really starting to get rid of the jet lag and function like a halfway normal human being, it’s time to hop back on a flight and jack up your internal clock all over again? Arizona might only be 2 hours difference right now, but¬† I’m fairly certain that it’s going to take my poor body at least a week to readjust to Nebraska time. And poor Cadence–it’s 10:07 p.m. and she still thinks it’s time to play thanks to a short nap on the plane and a long nap in the car on the way home from the airport.

And, of course, the trip home is never without it’s mishaps. Just minutes before the first annoucentments were made to begin boarding on our flight home, Cadence had still not obeyed my request to pretty pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top poop before we got on the airplane. Bracing myself for another mid-flight disaster, I decided to take evasive action.

I took Cadence into the Ladies Room near our gate to change her diaper one last time before boarding and, in a moment of sleep-deprived genius, I decided that the best course of action was to double diaper her skinny little butt and pray for the best. As we boarded the plane and buckled into our seats, I was actually pretty proud of my little plan.

After the I’m-Hot-So-I’m-Gonna-Scream-Real-Loud-Until-They-Turn-On-The-Air fiasco on the flight out to Arizona, I made a point to fill Cadence’s empty sippy cup with ice just before boarding. As soon as she was buckled in and started to squirm and whine from the heat, I unscrewed the lid and presented her with the little cup of icy gold. She smiled and oohed and giggled, plunging her hands into the ice, picking pieces up, drinking the bits of melted water, and sucking on the ice cubes all with a great big This-Is-The-Best-Gift-EVER smile on her face. And I gave my self another mental pat on the back for being such a smart Momma.

Of course, my shining moment was short-lived.

About 30 minutes into the flight, Cadence suddenly decides to ditch the cup to get a look out the window, dumping the entire contents directly in her lap. After a quick wipe down of the seat, I dug through the diaper bag for another pair of pants and just slipped the wet pair off and the dry pair on. I checked the diapers, and all still seemed to be holding up pretty well at that point. The outside diaper was a little damp from the water spill. The inside diaper seemed a little soggy, but otherwise they were fine.

Crisis averted.

Or not.

Cadence spent the next 20 or 30 minutes sharing a Twizzler with me and playing with her toy phone and her baby. She was perfectly content, until the stewardess came by with the drink cart, and Cadence got a good look at her filling a cup with ice for the lady sitting across the aisle.

Cup-o-Ice vs. Cadence Round 2.

I should have known better than to even give Cadence the second cup of ice. She only caught a 5 minute catnap on the way to the airport, and my darling daughter tends to lose coordination at an alarming rate when she is tired. I, on the other hand, apparently tend to lose brainpower at an alarming rate when I am tired, because I handed over the cup and let Cadence have at it. And 10 minutes later, she is sitting in a puddle of ice and water.

Doubting that even my double diaper could withstand two icy floods on top of any deposits Cadence had made on her own accord, I figured it was time to head to the tiny bathroom for a diaper change before we began our descent into Omaha.

If possible, this bathroom was even smaller than the one we squeezed ourselves into before, and apparently Cadence was still so traumatized from our last visit to the lavatory that she started screaming bloody murder the minute I opened the door to let us inside, and screamed nonstop until I opened the door again to let us out. We were greeted by a few stares from the nearby passengers. Five minutes later, Cadence was asleep in my arms, and she slept for the rest of the flight.

The weirdest part about traveling though, is that things always seem a little different when you get back…a little off. The neighborhood looks a little smaller. The house smells a little sweeter. The dog either plays hard to get to teach you a lesson about running off and leaving her, or she jumps up, knocks you to the ground and then climbs on your lap and refuses to let you leave again.

But, in the end, no matter how wonderful the trip was, no matter how much fun you had while you were gone, it always feels good to get back home and see that the world didn’t end in your absence. Upon returning to Lincoln tonight, I was so happy to see that, as messed up as our world is right now, we are still able to breathe for free.

Thank God for small favors.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all my my Arizona family and friends for making it such a wonderful vacation. And now, my friends, it’s time to catch up on some sleep.

365 Project – Day 246 – The Joys of Traveling with a Toddler

I am thoroughly convinced that if the United States is really serious about punishing criminals or terrorists, let’s stop slapping them on the wrist with penny ante punishments like consecutive life sentences and excecutions. If you want to make a statement. If you want to teach these people a real lesson in¬†responsibility and humility, sentence them to a cross country flight with a toddler.

The psychological punishment begins as soon as the flight is booked and you’re faced with the impossible task of packing your bags. How¬†can you really¬†prepare? You need diapers. Do you pack them, and take up valuable real estate in the bag you’re going to check, especially now that most airlines charge for checked bags, and some even charge by the pound?And if you don’t pack them, you are saddled with the anxiety of having to buy them as soon as you arrive. And I’m talking within the hour of the plane actually touching down because, Lord knows, the child will have soiled every last diaper you packed in the diaper bag and is likely to be wearing a makeshift garment constructed out of a maxi pad,¬†Scotch¬†tape¬†and a Ziploc baggie.

And what about clothes? Toddlers require at least three changes of clothes a day, sometimes more. So, if you’re planning a 10-day trip like mine, then you need to pack at least 30 outfits and 10 pairs of pajamas. And that’s just the clothing you’re going to pack in your 2-ton checked bag. We haven’t even begun to talk about how much clothing should be packed in your diaper bag/carry on. I recommend at least one outfit per hour. Why, you ask? Let me illustrate….

Here is the outfit Cadence was wearing when we left the house today. I chose a separate shirt and shorts instead of a onesie, thinking that if a diaper happened to leak, we would only have to change the shorts. Smart thinking Momma. And yeah, the diaper did leak, on the way to the airport. I should have know that was a sign of things to come.

Had I indulged in a second cup of coffee this morning and made sure my brain was fully caffeinated before we left the house, I might have been thinking a little more clearly. As it was, I convinced myself that this leaky diaper was going to be the last of the day, so instead of digging a spare pair of pants out of the suitcase before I checked it, I decided to rely on the last pair of pants I had packed in the diaper bag to get us to Arizona. Surely I could just put Cadence in an extra absorbant overnight diaper and be perfectly fine for the two-hour flight. So, I quickly changed her into the second outfit of the day…

We weren’t even halfway through the flight when I noticed Cadence’s diaper was getting a bit soggy. That probably had something to do with the two sippy cups of milk, sippy cup of juice, and glass of ice water she had drank since we arrived at the airport. Yeah, I should have thought that through a little better too, but when you’re traveling alone with your toddler, your main goal is to keep them from tearing apart the gate area while you wait to board the aircraft, and if that means giving into their demands of “oose” = “juice” or “mihl” = “milk” every five minutes, then by God, that’s exactly what you’ll do.

Sure I tried to distract her. We shared a peanut butter cookie, drew a picture, oohed and aahed over the airplanes we saw outside the big glass windows, climbed into and out of the stroller and even practiced our animal noises, but nothing worked quite as well as handing over the sippy cup.

Cadence did pretty well during the flight, except for the fact that she cannot sit still for more than ten seconds at a time, and the minor outburst she had during the safety demonstration because it felt like we were sitting in an oven and she thought she needed to let the entire plane full of people know that she HATES BEING HOT!!! Thank goodness one of the lovely stewardesses brought us a glass of ice to help cool Cadence off, though I cringed to think of how much more liquid she was sucking into her body.

Lo and behold, about halfway through the flight, Cadence was sort of leaning on and half straddeling my leg as we looked at a book of animals together, when suddenly I felt something warm and wet above my right knee.

I hate to admit that I actually sat there for a moment or two wondering whether it would be easier for the two of us to just sit there, wet and uncomfortable, rather than have to squeeze our way into one of the airplane lavatories to try and change, not just Cadence’s pants, but her entire outfit, since I didn’t have any dry pants left in my possession to put on her.

Luckily, good sense prevailed, and we made our way to the lavatory.

Now, backing yourself into one of these lavatories to empty your bladder mid-flight is a gymnastic feat all its own. Add a squirming, over-tired, soggy todder to the equation and you’ve gone from a gymnastic routine to a mixed martial arts cage match. Fifteen minutes, eight wet wipes, one diaper and about six dozen kleenexes pulled¬†from the box by my daughter’s busy¬†hands¬†later, I’ve finally gotten Cadence changed and dressed in a onesie for the rest of the flight.

And, once again, I think it can’t possibly get any worse.

My biggest worry all day was fact that Cadence hadn’t pooped since Friday. After returning home from our cousin Korbin’s birthday, I promptly fed Cadence a big bowl of blueberries and some juice–two things that always get her digestive system moving when it’s sluggish. And yet, by the time we boarded the flight, still no pooping.

After being peed on, I figured the worst had to be over. The pilot had just announced that we were a little less than 45 minutes from Phoenix, and that we would be beginning our descent soon. Less than an hour, and we would be in the Promised Land. After we landed, Cadence could poop to her heart’s content and I would mind one bit.

Then Cadence started grunting.

“Cadence LaRue, you have got to be kidding me,” I said quietly. She just looked at me and shook her head no.

No, she wasn’t kidding.

As she grunted and groaned and clutched the back of the seat for leverage, I dug back into the diaper bag for another clean diaper and the package of wipes. I smiled at the girl sitting next to me, and asked if we could please be let out again. She smiled back and moved out of our way.

As I hustled Cadence back to the lavatory for Round Two, the stewardess smiled at me and said, “Perfect timing for one last break.” I just smiled back weakly and took a plastic bag from her to dispose of the diaper.

Now, let me tell you, the aircraft lavatory is the last place you want to be at the tail end of a flight. Everything is just sort of¬†damp and the smell is something straight out of a horror movie. I used every last remaining paper towel to cover the entire toilet bench area, laid Cadence’s plastic changing pad on top, and promised Cadence that I would not just buy her a pony if she laid still long enough for me to change her dirty diaper without either of us ending up with poop stains on our clothing, but that I would scour the earth and find her a damn unicorn if we could just make it out of that lavatory alive.

Somehow we managed in spite of the fact that the captain came on to announce the official descent and scared the bejesus out of Cadence right before we hit a pretty nice pocket of turbulance. How’s that for timing? I tied up the bag, washed my hands, gathered Cadence and the wipes and changing pad into my arms and shuffled back to my seat as the plane dipped and bobbed beneath my feet.

Back in our seats, I gave both of us a once over for any poop stains and, thankfully, found none. The wet spot on my pants had even dried. Double score.

As we settled back in, Cadence sat in my lap, drinking the last of the bottle of milk that I’d bought for her in the airport. Yeah, I was playing with fire, but at that point, I didn’t really care if I got peed on again. I just needed a minute to sit and relax.

I looked out the window and watched as the Arizona desert rose up to meet us. Less than two minutes before the plane touched down at Sky Harbor airport, Cadence fell fast asleep.

I waited until my seatmate and most of the other passengers had already left the plane before I carefully laid my sleeping child on the seat, slung my heavy backpack/diaper bag onto my shoulders and grabbed my camera bag. Then, I picked Cadence up and exited the aircraft.

Our stroller was waiting for us just outside the door. Cadence woke up immediately when I sat her down and strapped her in, but she didn’t cry or fuss. Instead, she looked around with glazed interest as we made our way to the baggage claim, and then outside to meet Momma Dawn at the curb.

Of course, as soon as I got her strapped into the carseat, Cadence began waiving her hand and asking for “oose, oose, ease” = “juice, juice, please” so I handed her the sippy cup that still had a few swallows in the bottom. She gazed around and babbled as¬†her Nonna¬†drove us back to Coolidge. And, of course, by the time we arrived at Nonna’s house, her diaper and onesie were soaked through and we were on to outfit #4 and the only article of clothing I had left in the diaper bag…

So now, we’re here and the day is over and I’ve already got a pile of luandry to do. And as happy as I am to see the family and friends that I’ve missed since we moved, all I can think about is the fact that, in 10 days, Cadence and I are going to have to board another airplane to take us home.

God help us.

Tonight’s 365 Project is dedicated to all the parents out there who have ever traveled with a toddler and survived. God bless you, my friends.

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