Monday, October 26, 2015

She Who Travels with Another (& Another)

The man who goes alone can start today;
but he who travels with another 
must wait till that other is ready.

- Henry David Thoreau 

I feel thirty-five.

At a minimum.

It's been dry for so long, you forget what they mean when they say, "steady rain," & then you drive home from Texas with your kids in "steady rain" & you remember.

I always forget how tall our ceilings are, & then I spend three nights in a small, small hotel room with my kids. We all ran through our house with all its nicely divided rooms when we finally made it home.

As you may've surmised, yesterday my mother & the children & I returned from a three-night stay in Texas. I'm going to tell you a little about our journey, & I am going to share a few pictures, but here's what I am not going to do: wax poetic about life or proofread. I don't have the time or energy for either.

The book club's set to meet later this week, & so perhaps I'll have some deep truths to share next week. Also, as always, if you see an error, be it grammatical or otherwise, let me know. I print the blog at the end of each year & I do not want my mistake(s) forever inked for future generations.

Let me back up to a few days prior to our departure. There are a few goings on re: Reagan that I want on the permanent record.

Last Wednesday morning, I prepped Reagan for her first ever school picture day.

I selected her outfit the night before (went with a cardigan, naturally). We spent some time Tuesday night discussing her hair & practicing her smile. Lately she's been fighting me over a bow in her hair, & so I just ask if she wants her hair up or down, & that's that. I did insist on a bow, albeit a small one, for pictures, & she didn't put up much of a fight.

These were our practice smiles before she left with Trey Wednesday morning.

Rest assured, I'll share her first-ever school picture on the blog when the official results are revealed. I am cautiously optimistic. A little bit of trivia for you: the photographer WEE School hired to take the kids' pictures taught me honors English when I was a junior in high school. Everything she touches turns to gold; she's a great photographer, & she was an amazing English teacher. 

Thursday, Reagan's WEE School class took a field trip to a pumpkin patch at a local Methodist Church. Reagan's Grandmama accompanied her on her first ever field trip & shared some pictures with me. 

Obviously the strain of pictures on Wednesday was such that a decent smile wasn't happening on Thursday.

Once the field trip ended & I returned home from my Thursday morning teaching duties, the work of the weekend began. 

My mom was at our house & packed & basically waiting for me to get my act together. I am exceptional at getting my act together & was once the world's most efficient & organized packer, back in ye olden days when I was the only person for whom I was responsible. 

I'd packed the kids' clothes the night before, but there remained the matter of my clothes & toiletries & the various things required when you travel with a diabetic who pumps insulin. Most of the things I had to remember to take for Reagan were things we likely would not (& did not) need, however, you don't want to find yourself in a situation where you need syringes to deliver insulin because something's gone wrong with the pump, & you don't have syringes. Or a vial of insulin. When I pack, I basically I run through every doomsday insulin scenario & prepare for all of them.

I told you last week that both the Yetis I received for my birthday would be making the trip with us, & they did. You know what a Yeti is good for, aside from keeping hot coffee hot indefinitely? Keeping insulin cool. When we (finally) pulled out of the driveway Thursday, one Yeti was filled with hot coffee, & the other was keeping two vials of insulin & a few cubes of ice cool.

The ride over could have been more pleasant. The kids didn't sleep much at all, & this thwarted the adults' plan to make use of mom's XM radio & listen to Hillary lying live on the Hill re:her role in the  loss of Americans in Benghazi & her role in telling big fat lies in the aftermath of the tragedy. Hillary really is the worst, y'all. Every now & then I have a nightmare. I'm standing in the voting booth & my choices are Hillary or Donald Trump. Perhaps we'll talk more about that later . . . the heavy breathing, the sweating, etc.

We arrived in the DFW area around eight Thursday night & drove straight to a Twisted Root burger place where we met my sister & Maisie & Heath & Heath's parents & sister so we could get down to the business at hand, which was the big gender reveal of baby Griffin No.2.

It's highly likely this news will surprise no one as Jessica made the big announcement Thursday night after sharing the news with us, but IT'S A BOY.

After the big BOY news & burgers, we checked in our hotel. Jessica & Maisie came by on their way home so the three kids could scream & bounce off the walls for a few minutes, giving those in rooms near us a preview of what they'd be contending with for the next three nights.

My mom & I went with the divide & conquer approach to the sleeping arrangements. Night one was Team Henry & Mama v. Team Reagan & Nana.

Despite waking to this Friday morning . . .

. . . .I slept pretty well the first night. 

We need to talk for a minute about the breakfast situation at Hampton Inn. They serve a pretty decent breakfast for their patrons until ten in the morning. Obviously there was no way the four of us were going to be up & bathed & dressed in time to go downstairs & eat before the doors were shuttered on the breakfast food. 

My mom rose & showered Friday morning while the kids & I loafed around the room until around nine, at which point we boarded the elevator in our pajamas & proceeded to make waffles & pour ourselves coffee & juice, all of which we enjoyed in our pajamas with fifty strangers we'd never seen before prior to our breakfast date with them. 

Whatever else is wrong with our country, I suppose it's a good thing that Americans feel comfortable enough with one another to dine in public in pajamas with total strangers. Really though, can you consider someone a stranger once you've waited in line for the waffle maker with them, exchanging pleasantries such as, "I think the guy's coming back with more batter." 

As we knew it would, it rained all day Friday. What this meant for us was that, instead of biking & jogging, we spent all day at the mall. 

There's this mall in Frisco. Its official name is, I believe, Stonebriar, and it is SO GREAT. One of my life dreams at present is to figure out a way to spend the day in Stonebriar ALL BY MYSELF. Sure, I like the merry-go-round. I like the train I rode with all three kids. I like the Disney Store, but goodness I'd not cry if I had a few hours in Macy's & Nordstrom & Fossil without a diaper to change or a blood sugar to check or someone whining about riding something. 

Alas, Friday was not the day my life dream came true. My mom & my sister & I spent the day in the mall with all three kids, & it actually went pretty well. There's a Paradise Bakery in the food court so even though the kids inevitably want Chick-fil-A, the adults can mix it up a little. 

When she finished eating, Reagan wanted to go in search of a double decker fire engine the mall makes available to parents willing to part with seven dollars in exchange for something that might possibly quiet &/or distract their children for a bit. We saw the single fire engines when we arrived, but Reagan (correctly) remembered riding in a double decker fire engine with her cousin Marykate, & so while Henry & Maisie rode the merry-go-round . . . 

. . . Reagan & I went in search of the elusive double decker fire engine. (That man pictured with Henry is his Uncle Heath, not a random bearded man I allowed to supervise my child on the merry-go-round.)

Below, Reagan & Marykate in the double decker fire engine in the summer of 2013. This trip is chronicled here (here it is, Mom! Henry was indeed born; he was two months old, & I, apparently, was crazy).

The fire engine joy was (temporarily) eclipsed by the Disney Store. Reagan selected a Minnie Mouse & a Mickey Mouse for Henry, because, "They love each other." I'm still unclear about who loves whom, but she was sweet when she was dictating for Henry what his Disney Store prize would be. 

For comparison, here's Reagan in the Disney Store in April of this year, a trip I blogged here. That last link is mainly for my mom; we spent considerable time over this past weekend wondering when it was we last went to Dallas. 

The brigade was back on the road after the Disney Store stop.

Handling faux decorative gourds in Pottery Barn. We are the customers Pottery Barn dreams of, what with two huge strollers & three handsy kids:

After Pottery Barn, we spent some time in Macy's. I really love Macy's. I did walk away with a new top I like, but my goodness it's frustrating to just walk past all the things you want to spend an hour in the dressing room fawning over because you've already been at the mall a few hours & there's just no way anything positive will happen if you take time to try on a ton of clothes with the napless toddlers in tow. 

Instead of spending relaxing me-time in a Macy's dressing room, I won the train lottery. 

Parked outside Macy's is a train children can ride, though children under three must be accompanied by an adult. Since I am not pregnant & do not suffer from motion sickness to the extent my mother does, I was the accompanying adult.

I took this one inside our cozy little train car. Do note who's holding both Minnie & Mickey Mouse. 

And the non supervising adults:

The train ride was followed by snack time. A cookie for Maisie: 

Ice cream for Reagan & Henry. Reagan refused to leave her fireman's post to eat the ice cream.

If you're curious, Reagan ran some pretty great numbers all weekend, especially considering we were traveling & she was eating (1) more sweets than usual & (2) new things whose carb count I'm unfamiliar with, meaning I had to just guess. 

Her number was 83 when I checked her to give her medicine for this ice cream, & her peak remained under 200. That's ice cream magic, folks.

At some point in the day, Henry dumped his Chick-fil-A lemonade in his lap, & so we purchased him a pair of replacement jeans in Macy's. The replacement jeans, a size 3T, were great length-wise, but as you can see, Henry doesn't have the midsection to sustain them yet. 

Naturally instead of fixing his pants, we took some photos. 

Maisie was beside herself with exhaustion post-snack, so Jessica & Maisie bid us farewell. My mom & I made what we thought was a clever move & opted to eat dinner at the Dave & Buster's inside the mall, meaning we didn't have to trek to the car, load the kids up, & then unload them at a restaurant.

The glitch in our plan was that it was about five-thirty, & we'd just had snack time, & so despite all the food we ordered, we just were not that hungry. The amount of food we left behind on our table at Dave & Buster's made me want to cry. I knew I'd think about it the next time I was hungry, & I did. 

Last shot of Friday's activities:

Saturday dawned rainy & gray. It was the perfect day to stay in bed drinking coffee & watching GameDay, but alas, we had a communal breakfast to attend in our pajamas, & a birthday to celebrate.

I'll be honest, as I always am, & tell you that I almost didn't shave my legs Saturday. I figured hey, it's Western Kentucky, & I am in a different state, in a foreign shower, & it's cold in this bathroom, but, I did shave. As you likely know by now, epic things unfolded Saturday in the world of college football, & I like to think my smooth sexy legs played their part. I didn't get to see as much of the action as I'd have preferred, but LSU is undefeated heading to November, Utah finally got their comeuppance (at the hands of USC!), & Florida State lost as well. 

As soon as we arrived at the party Reagan perched herself in front of the cupcakes & told me at least three times which was to be hers for consumption. 

Thankfully, she didn't have to wait long.

Yes, this is what Henry wore all day Saturday, delighting people across the DFW area.

When we arrived at Jessica & Heath's house, I noticed a large rip in the seam of his pants, his pants he was wearing for the first time. I didn't say it out loud, but I thought, Oh my goodness I hope this isn't a bad omen for the Tigers.

We didn't have to worry about omens or other nonsense because Heath's sister, Bekah, can sew things together! She stitched his pants up in a flurry of activity I could never hope to mimic. 

The birthday girl:

Relaxing with all the new toys/books/games/clothes: 

Henry doing his best Les Miles:

My mom snapped this of me during the five minutes I relaxed during the entire day party. Sometimes in the middle of a child's birthday party you need to close your eyes & cover your head with a heavy blanket & pretend it's quiet & you can spend the whole day on the couch with your coffee. 

After the party, Jessica joined my mom & the kids & I for a few hours of shopping. The rain had slacked up some, & so we had options beyond a mall. We spent some time in Weir's, a fantastic furniture store that offers patrons hot popcorn & candy at incredibly low prices. 

We also visited a World Market, where I bought myself a tub of these:

(Later that night, I locked myself in the hotel bathroom & ate three two of them)

I was starving & becoming increasingly mean-spirited by the time we left World Market. I told Jessica I wanted to eat somewhere sit-down, meaning I could sit, the kids could sit, & someone would bring us tea, refills, food, etc. We ate dinner at an On The Border that was populated by a great many Texas A&M fans. A large TV in the bar alerted me to Alabama's close game with Tennessee, & I watched that until someone changed the channel to watch the Oklahoma game (which was on another TV in the bar &, as you might recall, was a blowout). 

As it turned out, I didn't have to move a muscle to remedy the television situation. A hostile A&M fan approached the hostess & demanded the Alabama/TN game, & soon thereafter, it returned to the screen. Unfortunately, that game didn't pan out the way I'd hoped. I did thank the A&M fan with whom I felt a sense of camaraderie over our mutual hope that Saban would suffer his second loss of the season.

We ate, & it was so good. They have very good, very fresh chicken tortilla soup at On The Border, if you're ever inclined to try it. We returned to Jessica & Heath's house to watch the first half of LSU's game, though we missed some of it because of the multiple overtimes in the Duke/Virginia Tech game. Goodness knows everyone was on the edge of their seat over that one, right. *eye roll*

My mom & the kids & I returned to the hotel room at halftime, meaning when LSU really broke it open & pulled away in the second half, I was in a tiny room with my mom & my kids. All three of them were loud &, for various reasons, screaming at times. 

I'm already thinking about arrangements for the showdown in two weeks, when undefeated LSU faces the Tan Man. I don't yet know what I'll do, & that will depend somewhat on who picks up the game. I assume it will be the CBS afternoon game, which means Henry will be napping during a great deal of the game. I can tell you where I won't be watching the game, & that is in a hotel room in Texas (where no one cares about LSU football) with my mom & my kids. 

This is the only picture I took Sunday:

Because they hadn't squabbled enough on the trip, the kids also fought about riding on the luggage cart. Don't let Henry's smile fool you; the situation was tense. The weekend was a clinic in possessive pronouns; that's mine, no, that's mine, No, THAT is MINE. Give it to me. MINE!

I am sure Thoreau intended "man" in the universal sense in the above quote, however it is so appropriate that he references a man traveling alone, because so often women do not travel alone. I don't sit on the toilet to pee alone. When we were in the mall Friday I noticed the many, many strollers & the women who accompanied them. I also noticed many men who were well dressed, strolling the mall alone, often sipping a cup of coffee, something you can do when you have the free use of both of your hands.  

If you're out & you see a woman alone, do not assume she does not want to be alone; solitude may be her greatest desire at that moment. Assume that she desperately wishes to be alone, & leave her be. Maybe she left the kids with her husband or a babysitter for a few precious hours so she could roam the mall without having to stop & ride the train or the merry-go-round, so she could visit the restroom only when her bladder demands a stop, so she could dart in a store unencumbered by a stroller or a diaper bag. 

When you see a woman who is dragging a kid & pushing a stroller, help her if you can, or at least give her a warm smile. She's responsible not only for herself, but for other small people, & her responsibility is enormous, & often exhausting. She's dedicating years of her life to waiting until others are ready, & her selflessness is something our society needs in spades. 

As I said, alert me to any errors. For real! I've not reread what I just wrote, & the pile of laundry says I likely won't get around to doing so today. Have a wonderful week. I will see you in November, on the other side of Halloween, which, as you might imagine, already has me breaking out in hives. 


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