Wednesday, June 27, 2012

because i'm nicer than your friends

so, team stratton embarked on our first ever family vacation.
i've taken the twins to my dad's beach condo which is just a couple hours away a few times.
we went when stella was two months old.
each time i said i would never do it again.
traveling with three, one and a half and under sucked.
and then i got brave and took all three to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house for my nephew's birthday last month.
it should have taken three hours.
it took five and a half.

it was a disaster.
but i paid close attention because in a few short weeks i knew we would be driving eleven hours to tennessee.

i am a routine nazi so i kept them in their undies.
big mistake.
they learned quickly if they said the word poo poo that i would fly off the interstate and they would get to get out of their car seat.
they're liars.
big fat liars.
so this game continued for
i don't know
two and a half extra hours worth of driving.
i wasn't giving in.
so dumb.
we left during nap time.
they didn't sleep.

for tennessee we resolved to leave at 11:00 p.m.
the kids would go down at normal bed time.
business as usual.
matt would sleep from 5:30 - 10:30 and drive.
i would wake him up,
we would transfer them.
they would sleep all night.
and so would i.
nahhh so much.

see the cute snack bags?
i slaved over having every detail planned out for when they woke up the next morning.

they didn't sleep.
the whole way.
actually, stella was nice enough to give in at 5:00 a.m.
for an hour.
who are these people?

and the twins didn't nap the next day.
they were up for almost twenty four hours.
i wanted to confront them letting them know that i was fully aware that they had a drug problem
but, matt told me i was crazy.
he insisted that they were too young.
but really? what does he know?

but, we made it!
and really, would i expect anything less than an insane trip?
we're the stratton's.
and things are never normal.


because i'm nicer than all of your friends i am going to tell you the real secrets to make traveling with kids easier.

+ car seats
upon entering my cousins car with my sister and another cousin, i was taken aback by look of her car seats.
i questioned her as to why they were so reclined.
all three of them looked at me as if i had said something along the lines of
"i'm supposed to diaper my newborn?"
my car seats weren't reclined.
they were shocked.
and then it all came together.
no wonder they didn't sleep.
their bobbly little heads couldn't get comfy!
how was i supposed to know?
so, on the trip home? car seats were reclined and they slept for a whole hour!
and hour out of eleven!
i still think they are doing drugs, fyi.

when you think you have enough, double it, then triple it. then you should be good.
put them in individual bags so you can chuck them at them from the front seat to shut them up quickly.
you don't want to wake the baby that doesn't do drugs.
the one that is sleeping like a normal person.
multiple varieties of snack options are a must.
ones that take a long time to eat.
think clean snacks so you are not hurriedly giving them a white trash, wipe bath three minutes prior to meeting family members that they have never met.
oh, and also know that it is good to pack healthy stuff too if your children are used to eating that way.
i went the unhealthy route in hopes of maximizing the happiness potential.
not smart.
note that if your children aren't used to eating like that, it may result in throwing up.
this happened to 2/3 of our children.

have one wipe container per kid.
make sure they are within reach at all times.

+travel bags
my mom made thee cutest travel bags packed full with things to keep them distracted.
i got them a mickey pad with some invisible marker. three minutes in and they were done.
we still had ten hours and fifty seven minutes to go.
thank god my mom gave us these bags. they were our saving grace.
they had stickers, a dry erase board, drawing pads and snacks.
waste all of your money in the dollar bins at target to keep them busy.

+give up control
i'm not good at this.
it's imperative.
relinquish all parenting rights to your children.
don't have a time table.
stop when you need to stop.
let them color on themselves if it keeps them from screaming.
but, make sure the markers aren't permanent. i am a road trip rookie. my markers were permanent.
this makes the white trash wipe bath a lot harder than it needs to be.

let them drink juice! through a twizzler!
pacis all day, every day for everyone!
let them watch as much t.v. as they want.
fruit snacks are your new best friend.
whatever they want.
deal with the repercussions later.
although, i will tell you, re-training vacation kids back into normal kids sucks.
i am currently explaining to the twins every 40 seconds why doughnuts, french fries and candy is a thing of the past.

**but, you're not home yet! so don't think about that.
stay in the now.
and the now is getting to wherever you are going while maintaining the greatest level of sanity.

bring 4 pacis, per kid, per hour.
for example, we were traveling for eleven hours, so each kid needed 44 pacis total.
that, times three equals a total of 132 pacis.
we were short. big mistake.

plan ahead.
find every drive through starbucks prior to leaving.
stop at every one that is within 2 miles of an exit.
alternate between a doppio espresso and a venti red eye.

+staying calm
make a promise for one parent to be sane at all times.
never lose your minds together.
this is non-negotiable ya'll.
it must happen.
if two parents lose their minds at the same time, all children do as well.
and that situation can be unrepairable.

+car choice
get a mini-van.
i know
i just threw up in my mouth realizing that i said that out loud.
we have the twins in the back and stella in the middle.
we have the other seat folded down.
that is where i sat.
i am ready to admit the mini-van is right for our family.
i'm not happy about it but, know that traveling with three small babes is so much better with a mini.

+grocery bags
bring 736.
use them as trash bags.
i needed 736 more.
lesson learned.

put them on.
you will save an extraordinary amount of valuable time.
we didn't have to re-potty train. at all. and they have only been potty trained for three months.

when in doubt, feed them.
baby included.
and bring formula and a bottle. even if you nurse exclusively.
it's too hard to pull over to nurse. and we all know a bottle or a boob typically quiets a babe.
i can scratch nursing a baby strapped in a car seat going 80 mph down the interstate off my bucket list.
that takes a ridiculous amount of talent, agility and flexibility my friends.
i apologize, but i'm truthin' it around here.
i'm here to make your lives easier, not paint pretty pictures.

don't have any.
that's all.
just don't have any.

follow all of these rules and you are on your way to stress free travel, my friends.

you're welcome.
but really,
the car seat recline is a necessity.

Monday, June 18, 2012

10 months. shut up. why are you doing this to me?

sweet baby stella,

who are you right now?
you started walking a couple of weeks ago.
you make crazy noises.
and you say uh oh.
in the correct context.

why are you doing this to me?

i feel your baby-ness slipping through my fingers.
i'm cupping it with all of my might.
my fingers are so tight.
and i wish my hands were bigger.
so i could hold more.
and buy more time.
but, your baby-ness is like water.

and it's slipping through the holes where my knuckles meet.
and it's sliding down my wrists.
so i'm hugging my arms close to my heart.
trying to hold more.

it's so painful.
and so beautiful at the same time.
you are growing right before my eyes.

i can close my eyes and literally replay conversations in my head while i was in labor with you.
it seems so real that sometimes i have to shake my head when i see your 10 month self walking up to me.
how did we get here?

you are like solid gold
covered in sugar
with sprinkles on top to this family.

you do so much for me by just being here with your sweet self.
you make me stop.
you make me slow down.
you force me to have more patience with your lulu siblings.
they are a doppio espresso.
you? are a cup of hot tea.
luckily, i love both.
you make me a better mommy.

i go to bed every night and ask myself
"did i do ok today?"
"i didn't give enough"
"can they feel my love?"
"why did i lose my temper so quickly?"
"tomorrow. i won't."

i get teary some nights wanting a re-do.
the three of you will never know how much i love you.
it's hard to keep that perspective throughout our crazy days.
i hope one day you get that.

you help me do a better job.
you do.
all by yourself.

you see, it's so hard having all three of you. so young. at the same time.
but that's not your fault.
and i try to remind myself of that.
and when i can't? i look to you.

your smile legitimately stops me dead in my tracks.
every single time.
it's so big.
and so ridiculously contagious.

it is impossible for me not to pause,
thank you for being here,
and let the absurd amount of love i have for all three of you take over my heart again.

you know exactly when to bust it out.
on days that i'm crying,
because it's tough.
i feel my cheeks tightening.
and the corners of my mouth turning up.
and the next thing i know? i'm smiling back.
right at your precious little face.
with tears pouring down my stressed out cheeks.

i know i loose my patience.
i try to apologize when i do.
and i ask if you forgive me.
your brother and sister say that they do. and they hug me after. i hope you do, too.
and i hope that we have that type of love forever.

everything i do.
every day.
is out of love for all of you.
but sometimes i get stuck.
and i'm just going through the motions.
just trying to get through the day.

and i want to thank you for bringing me back to the good side when i'm stuck.

the side that makes me put things down
and pick my babies up.

that side? is a much better place to be.

you truly are my special angel baby.
i was so scared to have you. and it amazes me how something so small made me such a better person.

love you sweet baby girl.