Monday, March 20, 2006

Loser Family Goes on Vacation

The following is an e-mail I wrote to family and friends back in March of 2006. I feel that this story (all true) really sums up who we are as a family and gives you the first taste of why my blog is named as it is.

Hello everyone,

It's been a long time since I've written. There hasn't been much to write about other than the highs and lows that are new parenthood. But now I have a funny little tale to tell. I shall call it "Loser Family Goes on Vacation".

Some of you may know that the Loser Family was planning a trip to sunny Florida to visit Grandma and Grandpa (Pete's mom) in the Orlando area. There would be sun and fun and Universal Studios and free babysitting and eating out and shopping all the things you so look forward to in a vacation. Our only hurdle was the 3+ hour plane ride and a certain baby with a 15 minute attention span. I won't bore you with all the details of the planning that went into figuring out how to foil Loser Family Incorporated's newest employee into being a good baby, namely by sleeping the entire flight. Suffice it to say that this had been a very big concern, as Corinne and mama didn't have such a good experience on the one hour flight back from Philadelphia. That's why we booked a flight for 8 pm, well into her bed time. It bears mentioning here that Pete (the Brains of the Operation), who receives the highest ratings in his reviews at work for being so organized, didn't think to call his dad and ask about a ride to the airport until the day before we were to leave. Well, his dad had plans and couldn't do it. No problem. I went to the website to check on airport parking- eight bucks a day. Not too bad. I decided to check on our flight for shits and giggles and oops, what's this? It is delayed an hour. Pete and I wondered aloud how they could know a day in advance that the flight would be delayed, but hey, whatever. We're flexible.

Saturday, everything was going marvelously according to plan. Seven had been dropped off at a friend's house, the bags were packed with everything we could possibly think of that we might need, and best of all Miss Corinne had been in a stellar mood all day. We were flying out of Manchester Airport in New Hampshire. We had been told that it was a much easier airport to deal with than Logan in Boston. We had been there once or twice before to pick up Pete's dad. We were flying on Southwest, which we have been told does the seating on a first come, first served basis. We wanted to try to get front row seats so that we could keep Corinne in her car seat on the floor in front of us. It was her best chance of sleeping through. So we left our house at exactly 6 pm, three hours before the flight was to depart to make sure we'd get first dibs on the primo seats. We figured it would take us an hour to get there. As we were pulling out of the driveway, I asked Pete if he remembered how to get here, because I didn't. Pete said he did. He was oh so confident. He said to take 495 to 95 to just past Portsmouth NH. It was right near the Red Hook Brewery, where he had gone for his bachelor party. He made a point to say to NOT take rt. 93. Okey dokey. And away we went. Spirits were high.

We stopped at Mc Donalds to pee and get a snack. Pete got not one but THREE state quarters and they were even Nevada, which he didn't have yet. What a good omen, he exclaimed. Indeed. At 7:30 we arrived at the airport. It took us a little longer than planned but we were still doing OK. The funny thing was, the airport appeared to be closed. As in, the lights were off and the doors were locked. A security guard pulled up just then and we learned that this was not Manchester airport. I think it was an airforce base, or a private airport. Anyhow, Manchester was 50 minutes away. Five Oh. Fifty. We jumped back into the car and hauled ass out of there and the only thing I said to Pete was "I'm going to kill you". It was the most stressful 50 minutes ever, as I drove as fast as I safely could (a speeding ticket certainly wouldn't help our situation, nor would a second accident this month). As we got closer we began to formulate our game plan because time was now of the essence and everything needed to come together perfectly if this was going to work at all. I would drop Pete off at the terminal with the luggage and the base to the car seat, which we would need if we wanted to take Corinne in any cars. Pete would stuff the base into his suitcase to minimize the amount of things we'd be lugging around. I would then take our sleeping baby and our carry-on luggage and park the car.

We got to the correct airport at exactly 8:15. Definitely cutting it close for our 8:50 flight, but it was still do-able. I dumped Pete off and headed to the parking lot. Except that I couldn't find the longterm parking. There were 4 lots and all were full except one, which was far enough away that a shuttle ride was required. And I couldn't find it. I ended up leaving the airport (with my unsecured baby, because remember, Pete had the base). I did an illegal U-turn and headed back. I'm now getting quite distraught and the minutes are ticking by. And Corinne has miraculously sensed my anxiety and is now awake and crying. Well, I found the lot and pulled in just as the shuttle was leaving. Excellent. I parked the car and contemplated just running to the terminal with Corinne in the stroller. Except that the terminal wasn't all that close, it was dark, there were no sidewalks and no one around. Oh, and I couldn't get the stroller opened up, which resulted in a meltdown on my part, accompanied by one on Corinne's part. So I lugged her in her carseat, the carry on bag and the $^&$*#@(& unopened stroller to the shuttle stop to await the next shuttle. Corinne apparently didn't appreciate being handled like luggage and was screaming bloody murder. Am I painting a clear picture yet? I don't think I've ever been as stressed out in my entire life. Me, who hates to be late to anything. I waited all of about one minute before I panicked. It was probably about 8:30 by then, and I still had to get to the terminal and go through security. I called Pete on my cell phone, which I at least had had the presence of mind to bring. Let me back up a bit here and tell you what Pete was simultaneously going through.

Upon getting out of the car Pete quickly learned that the car seat base was not going to fit into his suitcase. He emptied the entire thing and stuffed all his stuff into my suitcase, which was already bulging with my stuff (what woman travels lightly, after all?) and Corinne's "jumpie", her favorite and rather large toy that we don't leave home without. Even then, Pete still couldn't zip the suitcase with the base in it so he had to settle for just snapping the clips, all the while ignoring the two security guards who were laughing at him. He then ran into the terminal, which he immediately noticed was eerily empty. He ran up to the counter and presented his flight paperwork. The woman looked at this, then at him, and said "honey, that flight left at 7:53". What? Does not compute. 7:53? That was the original flight time. Pete tried to explain to this obviously insane woman that the flight was delayed an hour. It said so on the website. The Internet doesn't lie. She looked it up and yes, sure enough, our flight had left some time ago. She could put us on a flight tomorrow at 11:30 am but, oops- you guys bought the super cheapo tickets and there would be a mere price difference of $250. That is $250 apiece. So let's get this straight. We could pay an extra $500 and lose an entire day of our already only 4 day vacation. It was over. Our vacation was ruined.

So when I called Pete from my personal hell in the parking lot shuttle pickup, he broke the news to me that our flight had already left. "No it hasn't- we still have at least ten minutes! The Internet said 8:50!" I screamed. "What? I'm up way past my bedtime and haven't eaten yet tonight and am out in the cold in the middle of this empty parking lot and was driven around in an unsecured car seat for NOTHING?!" Corinne screamed. So I lugged the still screaming Corinne, the carry on, and the unopened stroller back to the car. Got in. Got back out to get the parking ticket and my money out of the carry on bag. Got charged $2 for my miserable ten minutes in the parking lot. Couldn't find my wallet. Corinne screaming all the while. Thought about arguing the charge but couldn't on account of having lost my will to live and all. Picked a very dejected Pete up at the terminal. Said something to the effect of "We're good people, aren't we? Was I Hitler in another life or something?" Fed Corinne her long overdue bottle as Pete drove to the first place we could find to get out and regroup (a Barnes and Noble), where we had hot chocolate and talked about how our first family vacation had been ruined.

Pete holds himself 99% at fault for his unwarranted confidence that he knew exactly where the airport was (yes, he knew where an airport was, it just wasn't the airport we were supposed to leave from), that had we gone to the correct airport we still would have made it, even with the mistaken lack of delay. The 1% is my fault, for ever leaving Pete in charge of directions. I personally don't blame Pete. I don't see anything to gain by pointing fingers. We went home (it only took 45 minutes to get home via rt 93- the final injustice of the whole evening) and there you have it. That was our vacation. Yay! Pete took today off but is headed back to work tomorrow where he will undoubtedly have to explain over and over to everyone why he is at work and not in sunny Florida. Corinne and I are thinking of going to the Disney Store. That's almost as good, right? So "Loser Couple" has officially become "Loser Family".

Poor Corinne. What did she do to deserve being born into this?

Loser Family Vacation Photos

But it says right here...!

Who needs Disney when we've got Sam's Club?!?!

I'm learning to just make the best of what I've got.

What a bunch of Losers!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Trouble Brewing- The Emergence of Evil Corinne

An email written to family and friends when Corinne was 6 months old. The pictures I referred to were a series of about 20 photos, each and every one depicting Corinne screaming, crying, or both. Sadly, despite the optimism in the latter part of the e-mail, the era of Evil Corinne was just beginning.

Hi everyone,
Hopefully you all got the last batch of Corinne pictures, which I feel pretty much speak for themselves. First let me start off by saying that she has been 1000% better for the past week, which is why I am now able to calmly sit and write about this with somewhat of a sense of humor. Prior to that I was most definitely not laughing because I sincerely thought that this screaming, humorless, perpetually unhappy banshee was going to be the permanent personality of my demon-spawn daughter. I couldn't remember what it was like to have a nice baby. We uttered phrases like "why did we have kids?!?!" and "are you KIDDING me?!?!" and "you are SO going to be an only child!" and "F--- this!!!" It was definitely the lowest point for me in the 6 months of her existence so far. It started some time after the holidays without warning or obvious cause. She was utterly, positively unbearable. She just cried and cried and screamed and nothing made her happy for long. Her attention span for all those great toys she got for Christmas was all of 10 minutes. Once we had cycled through all the baby stations I was at a loss. She wasn't happy being held for very long either. And the most frustrating thing was that you could tell that she wasn't in pain- she was just PISSED OFF. She has this horrible angry sounding temper tantrum thing that she does where she loses her voice and her face gets all red and her veins in her little bald head all pop out. She is SO stubborn (just like her father- ha ha!). She went to the doctor because we thought she had an ear infection but no, that wasn't it either. We told ourselves that she must be teething because we needed to believe that such behavior had to have a really good reason behind it, and that there would eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel. In retrospect I'm not sure that that was the cause, as she still doesn't have any teeth. I think she was in a downward spiral of overtiredness that had become self-perpetuating. I also think we weren't feeding her enough. We had started her on solids (cereal and we were just getting to vegetables), so it could be that her digestive system wasn't ready. We did it by the book, introducing one new food at a time and giving it a few days to make sure she had no allergic reaction. We still can't say for sure that allergies aren't the problem. To be sure, we cut off all solids all together last weekend and went without for a whole week. The improvement started immediately, but it could be a coincidence or other variables (As people of science we didn't approach this very scientifically. Far too many variables going on at once). I also started feeding her more breast milk and formula to compensate and I started putting her down for a nap after two hours of awake time whether she seemed tired or not. This combination seems to have done the trick because the difference in her demeanor is like night and day. She has started taking longer naps, up to 2 hours, a couple times a day, instead of the "20 minute specials" that she had formerly been a fan of. She also started waking earlier (as early as 6am), but the pay off is that she sleeps through the night. Most importantly, she is my sweet baby again. She smiles and laughs (sometimes- she still kind of has the personality of the little girl from the Addams family- is it Wednesday Addams?) and plays with her toys and can actually amuse herself for short periods of time. I have slowly started her back on cereal again today and am cautiously optimistic. Believe me, I thought long and hard about never feeding her solids, not wanting to do anything to tip the delicate balance that is "Good Corinne". But I figured at some point child services would be after me for neglect and malnutrition if my teenage child had never had anything to eat except formula. Anyway, so far so good. KNOCK ON WOOD!

I feel like there's not much else to report on other than that. It really has been all encompassing in our lives this month. I guess the biggest news is that I am trying to start my own mural painting business. I already have a client. I met a woman at a M*** Family event who was looking for someone to paint a mural for her daughter who is a month older than Corinne (this turned out to be S@L, who became a good friend in the year before she moved to California). I guess she surfed the web and couldn't find anyone in our area (can you say "untapped market?! Especially in the very well-to-do neighboring towns) I am going to do a castle/ dragon/ gnome/ fairy kind of theme and am getting $1000 for it- yay! If I can make a go of this I won't need to go back to real work. It would be my dream come true. I am hoping to put together a web site (does anyone have any advice? I know absolutely nothing about this!) and some fliers to give out at the many family events that the M***** Family Association puts on. I'm calling myself "Bouncing Off the Walls", which is pretty clever, if I do say so myself! I'm very excited for it and hope I can actually make a living doing something I love.

Corinne and I are flying to Philadelphia to visit my friend Diane and her daughter (who is 1 1/2) next month. I hope I am not tempting the fates taking her on a plane. At least it's only an hour or so flight, in case she cries the whole way (tell that to the people around me- God, I'll be THAT mother!). This is kind of practice for when we fly to Florida in March to visit Pete's mom and go to Universal (a 3 1/2 hour flight- God help us!) Also Pete is going to New Orleans for a conference in the spring (it was planned before the hurricane. I guess the French Quarter is OK for the most part). I have the option of going with him, but we'll see. New Orleans is not really a baby's town, ya know what I mean? And I don't feel right leaving her for 4 or 5 days yet- she's still too young and too needy, not that there's any shortage of willing and able grandparents to babysit.

Some of the aforementioned photos:

Good times, people!