Thursday, April 26, 2007

The End of the Story, For Now

I hope my faithful readers (that means you Mom!) will forgive me for ending Pre-Vacation Jitters at this point. To be honest, the rest of the 2 week vacation was wonderfully uneventful. Also, this is all I’ve written so far and I’m not sure if I will write more.

Several people have suggested I create some kind of mystery to solve at Disneyland (possibly the mysteriously high prices of churros and bottled water) or some other conflict that could carry the story a little farther. But for now, I think I will let the story sit.

We did end up staying overnight at my sister’s house in Oakdale before continuing on to Disneyland and just to show you what a nice time we had, check out the slide show on my May 3rd post.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 7

This could be the last installment:

“Pull over!” I finally demanded.

“Can you wait ten minutes,” my husband asked. Even though he was aware of what had just happened, he really had no idea!

“No! There is barf everywhere! Take the next exit…NOW!”

“But there isn’t a rest stop here,” he started to reason.

“Take it!” I begged

I had no idea what we would do once we pulled over, but it quickly became clear that everyone needed to get out of the car and several of us would have to be changed. I started delegating tasks to my husband and reached under the seat to grab one of the 3 large packages of wet wipes my husband had insisted on bringing, bless his heart!

I am convinced there is a special place in heaven for the inventor of wet wipes. After effortlessly blowing through around 35 I started to make the final sweep, inspecting the creases of the seats, the cracks in the plastic molding and even the water bottles I’d lovingly placed in the back seat organizers. I pulled out 3 or 4 more wet wipes and scrubbed hard on the carpet, just for good measure. I thought I could even see the purple stain of grape barf slowly start to fade. It was going to be alright, I thought.

Back on the road, I figured we could do a little laundry to purge ourselves of the final bits of barfy evidence when we arrived at the first overnight stop in our journey: my sister’s central California home. However, the thought suddenly occurred to me that she may not want a car load of sickies infecting her young family of 4.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 6

This is your last's about to get nasty.

It was probably only 2 or 3 minutes later when, with absolutely no warning at all, the grapes reappeared and were suddenly dripping in a vomity mess from the leather back seat of the van onto the floor. My first instinct was to run back with the bowl, which I did with as much speed and stability as I could muster under the circumstances.

We were currently in the “mountainous climb” of our journey and our trusty van swayed methodically right and then left as my husband slowed to take the sharp corners and then accelerated again to get our gutless van up the hills.

I struggled to keep from falling in the lap of my 9 year old who was sitting in one of the middle seats as I made my way back to Jonah. It didn’t take me more than a second to realize that a towel would be of more use to me than a bowl. I set the bowl down on the floor and turned to wobble my way back to the front for my little dish towel. Hopefully, it would be up to the task.

Turning again, now with dish towel in hand, I worked my way back to the mess waiting for me the back seat. I was silently furious with myself for letting Jonah eat so many grapes, but even more upset that my perfect barf-catching record was decimated. So much for the Mom Olympics! My only thought now was quickly making the back seat barf mess disappear. I stepped once, bracing myself against the swerve of our car as it took another mountain switch back turn.

When I stepped again, my foot came forward, making contact with the partially full barf bowl, sending it flying. In the next split second, barf splattered, hitting my 2 middle-row sons, me, of course, and every obscure nook and cranny of carpet, leather and plastic in a two and a half foot radius.

Still trying to remain upright as our van continued its climb through the Cascade Mountain Range, my mind was blank. This was so far out of the realm of what I imagined I would face and deal with as a mother, I couldn’t quite figure out where to begin. Instead, I let out a few “ughs, ewws, ohs” and one well placed, “my shoes!”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 5

I will preface this latest installment by saying only this: Pride comes before the fall!

Jonah threw up again, but I clearly was at the top of my game despite the ridiculously meager amount of sleep I’d received. I was strangely pumped from the way my smart planning had accounted for every possibility and a little proud of myself for how effortlessly I was handling everything. In the fictional “Mom Olympics” I often imagined would someday recognize the Herculean efforts of mothers everywhere, I had already won a pile of gold medals.

Isaac, started complaining about something and this time I didn’t ignore that 6th sense that told me trouble was brewing. “Isaac has a tell,” I informed my husband. “If he’s going to throw up, he always coughs first.” I knew I wasn’t planning for “if” Isaac threw up, but for “when” he threw up.

Moments later, the coughing started and since he was in the middle seat, I was able to rotate in my seat, bringing the bowl quickly to Isaac’s chin. Unfortunately it still bore the fruits of Jonah’s last episode, but I was just in time to catch Isaac’s vomit.

“We need to find another rest stop,” I said casually, although I knew we were probably 30-40 miles from the next one. By the time we approached the rest stop, both my husband and I were pre-occupied with a serious discussion on the pros and cons of what would most likely be a mandatory lunch stop at McDonalds and the lidless bowl of vomit on the floor was momentarily forgotten.

30 minutes turned into 60, and then 90. We were making really good time and the kids hadn’t complained of tummy pain once. I was fairly sure the throwing up was behind us when Jonah asked for grapes. He hadn’t felt like eating anything all morning, so I was happy to hear his appetite was back and saw it as a good sign of his returning health. I handed back a generous bunch of grapes and watched as Jonah quickly gobbled them up. Yes! Our family vacation was back on track.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 4

It gets a little better before it gets worse...

Miraculously, we left on time, as planned. Maybe a little stupidly, I was behind the wheel. I had made my case to be the first driver. I was too keyed up to sleep right away, and I knew I would certainly be no good later in the day once fatigue took it’s anticipated grasp on my senses.

I lasted 3 hours at the wheel, getting us gloriously close to the California border. My husband took over driving, and I adjusted the u-shaped neck pillow around my neck and slightly reclined my seat. I was not under the illusion that I would actually be falling asleep. Besides the fact that sleep did not come easily to me in the car, I also knew the kids would be talking, asking questions of the “are we there yet” variety, requesting snacks and needing one thing or another that was just out of reach. Most assuredly there would also be a good dose of teasing, crying and screaming.

I did hope, however, that I would be able to relax and counted on my mp3 player to help me tune out the kids. I hadn’t spent more than a couple minutes in my own little world when I got a tap on the arm. My husband notified me that Jonah was starting to complain about his tummy.

I reached for the plastic bowl and dish towel I’d stashed behind my seat for this very situation and undid my seat belt so that I could make it back to the rear of the car. My timing was impeccable! No sooner did I sit next to Jonah with the bowl perched perfectly under his chin than he threw-up. The seat organizers I’d attached to the back seats were thoughtfully stocked with everything we could possibly need. Besides the mandatory electronic games, books and coloring paraphernalia, I’d also included wet wipes, antibacterial hand sanitizer and a water bottle.

I handled the whole ordeal with the skill and precision of a surgeon and except for the bowl of barf I now held in my lap, there was no evidence of any kind of disturbance to our well planned trip. We stopped at the next rest stop to empty and rinse our bowl and quickly got back on the road.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 3

The tales of vomit continue!

One of the things I immediately realized was that vomit covered clothes and bedding could not sit, untouched, for two weeks while we were away on our family vacation. Nor could I have wet or damp bedding growing mold in my laundry room. I quickly understood that my night would not be used for sleeping, but for seeing to it that everything that vomit had touched, and it touched just about everything, was thoroughly cleaned and dried.

I threw the bed spread, pillow and flat sheet, and pajamas into the first load. The blanket, mattress pad, stuffed animal and fitted sheet would have to wait for the second.

After Jonah was cleaned, sweet smelling and dressed in a clean pair of pajamas, I laid him down on the sofa in the playroom under some fresh blankets. As an added security, I grabbed a plastic bowl from the kitchen an placed it next to him where he lay, then returned to my bed for a few moments of rest before it was time to start the next load of laundry.

My rest was short lived as the second round of vomiting ensued, but thankfully, this time, Jonah had contained all of it in the little plastic bowl and it was time for me to change the laundry anyway.

At 4am, I threw the last load of laundry into the dryer and laid my head down for what would be the last time before the alarm went off at 5am.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 2

The story continues. I think you can see where this is going...

Just as I began to drift back to sleep, Jonah was at my bedside again, this time complaining about the taste of the lozenge. A few years of motherhood had taught me that very little rational discussion or thought occurs in the dead of night and that sometimes you just have to humor your little night owls in order to achieve a few moments of precious sleep. I held out my hand and let him spit the lozenge into it.

Gaining more lucidity by the second, I started to wonder if Jonah might be nervous about our big trip. “My tummy feels funny mommy.” Jonah complained.

Yes, that was it! Butterflies. I’d experienced similar “funny tummies” as a child before big car trips. I was certain Jonah was having the same feelings. “Don’t worry sweetie, go back to bed and you will feel better.”

Jonah acquiesced without his characteristic stubborn streak making an appearance. I tried not to pay attention to this anomaly and headed back towards my warm bed. As my head hit the pillow, a flash of inspiration that can only be attributed to a mother’s sixth sense came into my head: I knew this would not be the last time I was up tonight, however more than that, I knew that a little later I would be cleaning up vomit.

Whether it was wishful thinking or just stubborn idiocy, I pushed the vomit idea out of my head and tried to quickly settle back to sleep. The next sound I heard was Jonah throwing up in his bed.

No cheetah pouncing on an unsuspecting gazelle on the Serengeti could match the reflexes of a drowsy mother going to catch vomit in the dark of night. I doubt my husband even felt the slightest shift in the mattress as I leapt to the floor and covered the length of the hall to Jonah’s bedside in what seemed like 2 or 3 agile, elongated steps.

My apparent superpowers did not stop with speed and agility. There was an unnatural clarity to my thoughts as instinct took over. Even as my bare feet grazed wet chunks on the carpet, I worked with efficiency and decisiveness, first removing Jonah, now finished with his “cookie tossing” to the dimly lit bathroom. After removing his pajamas and shaking off the chunks in the toilet, I quickly started my first load of laundry and proceeded to run a warm bath for my sick little boy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pre-Vacation Jitters No. 1

Here is a little something I'm working on just for fun. We just returned from a two week vacation which took us through 6 states and covered nearly 1,800 miles. Luckily, the first 24 hours were somewhat of an anomaly and didn't set the tone for the remaining 13 days.

I shoved the last suitcase into the back of our decade-old minivan like a puzzle piece, maybe the wrong one, that has to be worked a little to vigorously to fit into place. Undecided whether prayer or profanity would better help my cause, I settled on a swift, yet aggressive downward thrust of the hatch door. It clicked shut. We were most definitely, one hundred percent ready to go.

Never, in my 12 years of family vacations, had we been so prepared for a trip. The refrigerator was emptied and cleaned with leftovers dutifully wrapped and stored in the freezer. Garbage had been emptied and even the carpet bore the telltale, zen-like lines of the vacuum cleaner.

The kids were asleep, dreaming no doubt not of the 16 hours of driving which lay ahead of us, but of the fun they would have once we reached our destination, our promised land: Disneyland.

I had just a few more loose ends to tie up before I could hit the sheets. We had planned to wake up at 5am and pull out around 5:30am and I wanted to get as much sleep as I could so I could help out with the next days driving. I did a final e-mail check, picked up a few stray toys in the playroom, and got ready for bed. It was 11pm and everything was working out perfectly, maybe a little too perfectly.

An hour later, my sleep was suddenly interrupted by a quiet, but urgent voice at my bedside. Jonah, my 4 year old was complaining about something. I didn’t quite register it through the partial fog of sleep that still clouded my brain, but I heard something about a cough or a sore throat, so I fished a lozenge out of the overstuffed nightstand drawer, helped Jonah get it out of the wrapper, and walked him back to bed.