365 Project – Day 276 – Sometimes, $#!% Happens

Life is full of little moments that you’re just never quite prepared for. And somehow, the majority of them seem to involve your children. It doesn’t matter how level-headed or organized you usually are. It doesn’t matter how far you plan in advance. Children are masters of disaster. They can turn your entire world inside out and sideways in three seconds flat. I’m not 100% sure how that Chaos Theory works, but I would bet my last dollar that the guy who came up with it had a toddler at home, because that, my friends, is just how they roll.

Feel free to disagree with me here if you think I’m wrong, but I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing you can do when you are raising children is to try and be prepared for anything.

Anything.

And, if nothing else, try to keep your sense of humor.

You seriously better dust off those imaginations people, because your kids can put you in situations you never even dreamed were possible. For instance…

Cadence and I drove to Omaha today to take Gamma Diane and Uncle Keith back to the airport after spending a very fun weekend together. Cadence was exhausted but, as always, managed to fight sleep and keep herself awake until we were about 10 minutes from the house.

Of course, she woke immediately when I tried to get her out of the car, but she still had that glassy-eyed sleepy stare, so I figured she might actually go back to sleep. I changed her diaper and put her in her crib. She flopped down immediately and didn’t even make a peep as I left the room.

Victory.

About 10 minutes later, I heard Cadence stirring. She sighed once, twice. Then there was some rustling and a couple of thumps as the rolled around, perhaps trying to find a comfortable position. A few minutes later, she began talking to herself, quietly at first. Sometimes at nap time she talks and sings herself to sleep, so I didn’t think that all was lost. Perhaps she just needed a few more minutes to wind down and settle back in.

No suck luck. The talking grew louder as the minutes ticked by, and over the course of the next 45 minutes or so, I heard a wide range of giggles, squeals, hollers, grunts, coos, and guffaws, as well as a couple of bumps as Cadence emptied the contents of her crib (which included a baby doll, a monkey, a blanket and a pillow) onto the floor. Usually she empties her crib just before she falls asleep, so once again I thought she might actually be readying herself for a nap.

Wrong again, but I figured it didn’t hurt to leave Miss Cadence playing for a bit while I got caught up on a little work.

Suddenly, the frantic crying started.

I hadn’t heard any loud thuds or crashing noises, so I couldn’t imagine that Cadence had climbed and fallen out of her crib. Yet, she sounded pretty upset, so I figured it was time to go see what all the fuss was about.

The smell hit me the minute I opened the door. Cadence often needed a diaper change about the time she was ready to get up from her nap, so that was not really out of the ordinary. Something, though, was certainly awry.

Cadence was standing funny in her crib, sort of hunched over behind the railing instead of hanging over the side to be picked up like usual. I stared at her for a minute, trying to figure out what she was doing, and finally realized that her shorts were gone and she was holding up her diaper.

“Hey little monkey, what did you do with your–” I started, but I stopped abruptly when I saw it. There, on the rug, about three feet from the crib was a flat greenish brown turd about the size and shape of a small hamburger patty.

“Aaah!” I cried, pointing. “Cadence, what is that?”

She just stared at me, wide-eyed for a moment, and then started doing her best fake soap opera star wail.

I started to laugh.

Really, at that point, what else can you do? Vomiting was certainly an option, but luckily I was blessed with a strong stomach long before I became a Mom.

Of course, I also snapped a quick photo with my camera phone before gathering the cleaning supplies needed to sterilize and disinfect both the child and the room, and as I worked cleaning up the crime scene, I began to piece together just exactly what had gone on in that room in the moments before my arrival.

Cue the Law & Order music.

Here is how I imagine it went down…

When I changed Cadence’s diaper before putting her in her crib, I secured the diaper the way I always do, crossing one of the velcro tabs snugly over the other. Apparently today, this backfired.

After I left the room, I would bet that Cadence was lying sort of half-awake her crib for those first ten minutes when all was quiet and peaceful. And I’m thinking that she probably started chattering about the time she was filling her diaper. At that point, all hope of sleep was lost, but she wasn’t uncomfortable enough to really cry or protest, so she stayed, playing happily in her crib and tossing things out just for the fun of it.

About the time her crib was empty and there was nothing left to distract her, she probably started thinking that the lump in her diaper was a bit of a pain in the butt (pun intended, har-de-har), and decided to do something about it. I imagine it took a little while for her to work her way out of her shorts, but after that, all that stood in  her way of comfort was that darn diaper, so she pulled and tugged and twisted and turned and poked and prodded at it, yet was unable to pull just right to un-velcro the tabs.

And yet, with the right amount of force, she somehow managed to pull the entire front of the diaper out from under the tabs. So, the front likely fell down, which left the diaper hanging from her waist like a reversed apron and dropping the fresh turd right in her crib.

I like to think that the flattening happened while the turd was still in her diaper (perhaps she was jumping around and fell on her butt a few times), because the thought of my child sitting in her room making fecal matter mud pies is enough to turn even my iron stomach. Luckily, the evidence (or lack thereof) tends to support my theory because the only poo I found in my investigation (other than the turd itself) is one small spot on Cadence’s sheets where the turd likely landed when it fell from her diaper, and small streak on her hand which was immediately washed with soap and water, more soap and more water, and one more round of soap and water before I plopped her in the tub for her second bath of the day.

Then, it was time for some deep carpet cleaning, some laundry, and a thorough scrubbing of every surface in Cadence’s room followed by an airing out of the house, after texting the photo to Steven of course. After all, why should he have to miss out on all the fun while he’s at work? His response, once I filled him in on the gory details, was:

“Haha. That’s kinda awesome.”

Spoken like a true guy. But, I do have to say that even I am a little impresed by Cadence’s accuracy, managing to throw the turd dead center in between her shorts, her blankie, her baby and her monkey. We like to think it means that she might have a very promising future in competitive sports. Until then, we are the proud parents of the undisputed Fecal Matter Flinging Champion of the world.

Don’t be jealous.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to all the bewildered parents out there. I am officially 20 months and 2 days into this business of parenthood but still, every day, there is something completely new. Sometimes, shit really does happen, and what else can you do, but laugh?

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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