Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Guest Post by Jesse (my sister)...

Jesse wanted to share her take on our trip to D.C. The post with pictures is after this one. Enjoy!

My favorite (and not so favorite) parts of our adventure to D.C.:

I’m not quite sure what made me think this trip would be loads of fun…maybe because I don’t have to deal with a three year old and a 5 month old 24/7 like my sister who I have great admiration for (especially after this trip!). We certainly had our fair share of laughs but quite frankly, I’m pretty proud of myself for not ending up in tears. When I got home my parents asked if we had a fun trip. Fun…not so sure, but fun-ny, yes. Man, I thought my sister hated the heat but boy was I mistaken. Isabella would be better off living in the Arctic Circle than anywhere that reaches a degree over her ideal temperature. We thought that going at the end of September would be a good idea because it would be a little cooler and Sierra was looking forward to wearing fall sweaters. Sadly, our last hint of summer reappeared at the worst time. I thought I’d share some additional highlights (keep in mind, as Sierra noted, this does not always mean “good”).

1. Stretching our jimmies out. Isabella seems to associate me with stretching. Probably because when she needs entertained and I’m not feeling creative or have a lack of supplies, I suggest stretching. Isabella loves it and most importantly it doesn’t take too much effort on my behalf haha! At every gas station, potty break (and there were a lot considering I think my bladder is shrinking to the size of my mom’s), nursing break, and metro stop when we had time to kill Isabella would get sooo excited to get out of the car to stretch. At our last stop on the way home at Waffle House (which Isabella called Awful House since she insisted she could not pronounce a ‘W’), Sierra was going to nurse Isaac while Isabella and I went inside to order. I asked Isabella to hold my hand since we had to walk around a tall fence just to get there (which is another story by itself) and she stops and scowls and says “but Jesse we have to stretch first.” This led to a very short stretching session followed by a longer one once we were done eating at Awful House.

2. Driving in circles. Our dad recently got back from a bike trip and had a very difficult time trying to find his hotel in D.C. and rode around in circles for hours trying to find it. We thought this was ridiculous until we tried to find our own hotel in D.C. If you’ve ever driven in the DVM area (D.C.-Virginia-Maryland), you’ll know that highways have tons of lanes and even more signs trying to give the most confusing directions possible. Even with my Garmin, trying to get off the highway required driving around our hotel three times and having to backtrack and take all kinds of loops. By the time we got to our hotel parking lot Sierra drove right through thinking we were staying at a different hotel (hmmm) and then we had to drive around the parking lot numerous times just to get to the correct lane to get to the front door. All we could do was laugh. The same thing happened trying to get out of the metro parking lot where signs told us to exit on the 4th floor. We got to the 4th floor (does this make any sense??) with Isabella asking us where were we going and if we were actually going back to the hoe-tel. Obviously when we got to the 4th floor there was no exit and the signs directed us back down. When we got to the first floor we finally found the exit. When we drove back the next morning, I was saying that at least we knew how to get out of the parking lot! I was wrong. Once again we drove in circles trying to find the right exit and I almost had a breakdown because we all just needed to get back to the hoe-tel!

3. Snorts and giggles. I really enjoyed getting to know Isaac a little better and seeing him smile so much. Isaac is not the happiest baby so I was surprised that he honestly cried LESS than our drama queen. Of course he was really in his element being held ALL day long which took its toll on mommy’s back. Isaac smiled at me just about every time I looked at him! If you know Isaac, you know that when he laughs he snorts a whole lot. It’s super hilarious but Sierra and I were joking that this would be a rough habit to have when he’s a teenager and likes a girl. When he’s really upset he snorts when he cries too…also a turn-off to the ladies.

4. Sleeping with Isabella. Isabella was super excited in the car that she got to sleep with me. I knew it would be a difficult night with Isaac crying but I underestimated how disrupting it is to sleep with a three year old that kicks you, tries to get really close to you, steals the covers, rolls around, and sleeps sideways. Finally I put a pillow in between us. When she woke up she’s like “Jesse why is this pillow here? I can’t sleep with this pillow here!” I told her she was kicking me which she thought was silly. By the next morning she actually liked the pillow there and showed me how she slept with her one leg on the pillow. Whatever works for her.

5. Lesbian MOTHS. When we were on our dreadful 2 hour train ride home where Sierra insisted this was the last time she was going on the train, we were pretty sure some of the people in our car thought Sierra and I were lesbian mothers. We would both complement Isabella and Isaac on how well they were doing and would trade off holding Isaac and giving him kisses. Isabella would evenly direct her questions to us and Isaac was pretty content with either of us. This woman could not keep her eyes off of us! I couldn’t help wanting to play it up more but I figured Sierra wouldn’t be down with this. There were definitely other times on our trip where Sierra and I felt like we were trying not to look like lesbian moths haha! Especially because we traded kids off so much it didn’t look like one was mine and one was hers!

6. “Mommy needs a program!” Isabella got to make a bookmark at the Botanical Gardens and to entertain herself on our train ride she would wrap it around her arm and say that she was on a program and couldn’t see her friends anymore (not quite sure where she gets these ideas). She also insisted on wrapping it around Sierra’s arm and proceeding to tell the people around us that mommy needed a program and couldn’t see her friends anymore. This could’ve been interpreted in a variety of ways by our fellow train mates!

7. A grumpy mommy. After our disappointment at the book fair and a long hike to the Shakespeare Library, I suggested we stop at the Botanical Gardens which were on the way and are very beautiful. I figured this might be a place for us to cool off. We went inside and while Sierra stood there with the kids, I walked around to see how hot the place was and if there was an atrium inside that was cool. I found a very nice bench in the back that had an air conditioner right above it. Thinking Sierra was in her heaven to be surrounded by plants and flowers to take pictures of, I suggested that I take the kids and regroup while she walked around and took some pictures. She very curtly replied that we were either going or staying which clearly meant she was leaning towards going. No stops allowed on the way to Shakespeare! Needless to say, I was a little afraid to suggest doing the little activities outside for kids.

8. Sand in my shoes. Grumpy mommy did allow us to do the outdoor activities since Isaac needed to nurse. Isabella found a pot of sand with rocks and flowers in it that you could play with. Of course this led to a near melt down afterwards that she had sand in her crocs. We assured her that the sand would fall out but surely enough she asked me again at the Shakespeare Library about her sandy shoes. I was so bored by this dreadful tour that I took any excuse to get away from it, including washing Isabella’s dirty sandy feet. I took her to the bathroom and sat her on the counter with her feet in the sink (which was probably a no-no by mommy’s standards but aunts are able to get away with). Isabella thought this was hysterical and was so excited. I suppose it’s the small things! We probably played in the water for a good 10 minutes and then looked at the costumes in the hallway and sat on the bench. When we walked back to the tour, they were in the exact same place!!! AHHHHHH!!!!! Fortunately Sierra was just as bored as me but she felt bad about deserting the nice lady….I didn’t and we headed to the museum store instead.

9. The Spy Museum gift shop. Sierra and I were pretty excited about this museum but found out when we got to the door that tickets cost a whopping $18. Strollers were also not allowed. Considering our screaming queen had just fallen asleep in the stroller, there was no way you could convince us to wake her up, even for a cool museum. The alternative: going to the gift shop where we still got to check out some pretty cool stuff and saw Jack Bauer t-shirts that we were sure our dad and brother would love.

10. Saying “hi” to Isaac. Isabella constantly wants to talk and say hi to Isaac. To fully appreciate what this means, you have to imagine a romance novel scene. Isabella practically jumps on him and smothers him with kisses, hugs him very tightly, puts her face as close to his as possible and says “hi buddy!” in a high pitched voice. This continues for a very long time. The first thing she wants to do in the morning is say hi which is very darling unless she makes a perfectly content Isaac cry. Isaac does not like it when his mommy takes a shower but was perfectly happy this particular morning when Isabella insisted on saying hi for about the 7th time that hour. I told Isabella that maybe she should wait a little bit to say hi which made her cry and tell mommy that I wasn’t letting her talk to Isaac.

11. “She can scream all the way there if she wants to.” After the dinosaur disappointment and during the screaming meltdown about being hungry, I told Sierra that maybe it was time to have a time-out. Sierra replied that she could scream the whole way there if she wanted to. But let’s keep in mind that I’m the one behind the stroller with the screaming child while the real mommy walks 30 feet ahead with a sleeping baby in the Beco. I was the one getting the mean and disapproving looks from strangers and police officers for 40 minutes! Definitely not fun.

12. A special treat. The other thing that Isabella loved besides the escalator, elevator, train, and hoe-tel, was getting special treats for the times that she was actually cooperating. We saw a lovely bakery (with half off prices yay!) on our walk down King Street in Alexandria and picked up chocolate cheesecake and a chocolate croissant. The croissant was disappointing and Isabella fed it to the ducks but the cheesecake was great (even though there was terrible live banjo or something music that started right as we sat down on the pier). Isaac was happy to stretch out and Isabella was satisfied with her special treat.

13. A moment’s peace and a glass of wine. The final night at the hoe-tel I told Sierra that I just couldn’t handle it anymore and had to take a break by myself for a little bit. I took my book that I just bought and went down to the restaurant in the hotel and sat in a quiet corner reading and having a glass of wine. It was probably the most relaxing part of the trip and boy did I appreciate the silence. I told Sierra that if I do have kids I will surely need a nanny or a stay at home dad. After regrouping I went back upstairs to find Sierra and Isabella snuggling and chatting in bed. Isabella was so excited to see me and wanted to know where I had been, what I had been doing, why I left, and had to tell me how worried she was that I wasn’t coming back. I guess it’s nice after all having someone love you so much.

14. Car ride home. My moment of reverie ended with the car ride home. Isabella is very demanding when it comes to needing a snack or a particular book or if one of her shoes falls off or if it’s too sunny, etc. I was trying to take a nap while Isabella continued to ask me questions and tell me things. Suddenly she just had to have her Dora magazine that I bought her. The backseat was a disaster with blankets, food, and toys and I couldn’t find the magazine. I suggested another book. This was not an appropriate solution in her mind and she really needed that magazine. I muttered some things under my breath and said this was ridiculous. Isabella says, “Oh don’t worry Jesse. I know what I can do. I can do that one book with the marker.” I haven’t catalogued all of Isabella’s toys and had no idea what she was talking about. Thankfully I found it. Isaac was very upset about being back in the car and cried a whole lot. To calm him down mommy and I took turns sitting in the back in between the car seats (very tight squeeze!) to talk and soothe Isaac which I’m sure is completely illegal. I wish we had gotten pictures of us trying to climb in the back over the kids!

All in all, it was a very interesting trip to say the least. I spent the following day in recovery and slept and went to the gym to sit in the whirlpool, eucalyptus steam room, and sauna. So relaxing. Overall, I’m glad I am still childless right now but have such an entertaining niece and nephew who I can visit but also hand back to their parents. (um, when do I get to sleep and go to the gym to sit in the steam room?)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Low Expectations...No Expectations...

We’re on our way home from D.C. and I have to tell you, with a three year old and a five month old baby, it was quite the adventure. Just to give you an idea of how much Isabella loved our little trip, she talked about going home from the minute we arrived at the hotel or, hoe-tel as she called it.

Isabella’s Favorite Parts of D.C.

1. The hoetel

2. The train a.k.a metro..."mommy, this is the best train I never did go on!"

3. The escalator

Starting out on our road trip...

7:45 a.m. Leave my house
8:15 a.m. First stop to pee.
9:30 a.m. Second stop to pee and nurse. I promise the trip went better after that!

Isabella, keeping herself entertained with a straw.

Isabella's solution to staying out of the sun.

Fall is here!

After we arrived at the hotel we hopped on the metro and headed to Georgetown for the evening...

I'm pretty sure Isabella would love this dress.

Isaac hangin' out in the Beco...his favorite place to be. I couldn't imagine this trip without having the Beco. If you are petite and need a baby carrier, this is the one to get. The Ergo, another popular brand, works best for taller people with broader shoulders. Although my friend Sarah has an Ergo and definitely does not have broad shoulders, but she has a very long torso (lucky duck).

Top Ten Happenings in Our D.C. Adventure

 Please note, top, does not necessarily indicate good.

1. The dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. Isabella is very interested in dinosaurs these days. She really enjoys watching the show The Dinosaur Train on PBS, so I was excited to take her to see the dinosaurs at the museum. Well, apparently I didn’t sufficiently explain that dinosaurs are no longer living. When we walked in and all she saw were bones…well, let’s just say, it was a major let down. The poor girls face visibly sunk with disappointment as I’m pretty sure all hopes of actually being able to see the Pteranadon family were completely ruined. After she recovered from the disappointment we walked around and talked about fossils and the fact that dinosaurs are not living (over and over again). She also told anyone who would listen that dinosaurs are not real. All in all we were in the museum for about half an hour when a complete meltdown began and we left with Isabella screaming because she was hungry and refused all snacks offered. From there she screamed until we reached the Old Post Office and found something to eat.

Here are some pictures from before and after the Dinosaur Disappointment...

Jesse and I couldn't stop laughing because Isabella literally fell asleep with her hand in the zip lock bag of Quaker Oat Squares.

2. The White House. If I were the President, I would definitely want to live in the Capitol Building instead of the White House. Honestly, the White House was a disappointment…didn’t even take a picture because it just wasn’t that cool. Oh, and it was 95 + degrees out AND once again, Isabella was screaming: “I’M HOT. I’M GETTING SWEATY. I NEED NEW CLOTHES. I WANT TO GO HOME. I NEED MY DADDY. I REALLY REALLY MISS MY DADDY. MOMMY. MOMMY. I NEED YOU. I’M SWEATY. IT’S TOO HOT. IT’S TOO SUNNY. THE SUN IS IN MY EYES. I WANT TO GO TO THE HOE-TEL. WHERE’S THE TRAIN. I WANT SOMETHING TO EAT. I NEED WATER. And on and on. Of course during this time we walked by numerous police officers who probably thought we were torturing her. So, after a very long walk past the White House (because it is a long walk and there is no shade) we found a restaurant to go in to regroup. After we’d been sitting there for a few minutes Isabella shouted, “it’s dancing time!” And Jesse said, “I just can’t handle these mood changes. One minute she’s screaming and the next it’s time to dance, I just don’t get it.” If you know my sister, you should be laughing right now.

3. The woman with the front-butt skirt. As we were sitting in the restaurant after our grueling walk by the White House, a woman walks by in a cream colored pencil skirt that was much too tight and to make matters worse, had a double stitch seam down the front. After a few minutes I said to Jesse, “someone really needs to tell her not to wear that skirt.” After that we couldn’t help but laugh about what we coined the front butt skirt. And we seriously debated telling her to button her sweater.

4. The woman who was scared by her own reflection. We were walking along in Alexandria and all of a sudden this woman was acting really weird and started dodging the window she was about to walk by and then she was doing this weird shuffle thing like she couldn’t decide what to do. The only reasonable explanation for her behavior is that she saw how awful she looked and was like, “man, I need to get home and do something about that!”

5. The National Book Festival. While walking to the Natural History Museum the day before, we noticed that they were setting up for a Book Festival that would be held the held the next day. Of course Jesse and I were super excited because if there’s one place we both belong, it’s at a book festival. Well, it turned out as a major disappointment because aside from the fact that Isabella was once again screaming because she was SO hot and sweaty (I really promise we weren't torturing her) just about every person in the D.C. area was at the book festival and too many bodies were already squeezed in the tents so there was no way I was subjecting myself or my screaming three year old to that mess. Instead we walked over to the Botanical Gardens. Which would have been nice if we'd made it past the ENTRANCE. But, if one's three year old is already screaming about the heat, one does not want to add to that screaming by walking through a simulated JUNGLE-like atmosphere. They did have some activities outside that Isabella was able to grumpily partake in and Isaac was able to nurse, so it worked out.

Isabella screaming.

Entrance to the Botanical Gardens

A very melancholy Isabella

Capitol Building...too bad my lens was dirty when I took this picture.

6. The Folger Shakespeare Library. I'm pretty sure Jesse was hoping I wouldn't see that this building existed, but I did, so of course we had to go. I mean really people, my minor is in British Lit., so how could I pass this up. Do you want to know the best thing about the was really, really, well air-conditioned. We arrived minutes before a guided tour which I thought would be wonderful. No, it wasn't wonderful, it was so boring that I could have read a whole book about Shakespeare in the time it took the lady to tell us everything I learned in Shakespeare 101. It was an impressive building and I got to see one of the first folios which was cool but became less cool after we stood in front of it for half an hour.

7. Lunch on Saturday. Our day was already off to a pretty rough start and we had high hopes for lunch. Well, we had high hopes until an angry hostess posing as a mute seated us at a table in a dark dungeon with no other customers. And then an evil looking, also angry, waitress came in to take our order. And then we decided to cancel our order and leave because by the way things were going, we were going to have a really crappy lunch. So we headed back the way we came from to a promising Thai restaurant. The Thai restaurant was about the size of my living-room and the waiter barely spoke English. Here's how the conversation between Jesse and the waiter went:
--We're kind of confused by the menu. Do these meals here come with chicken.
--You want chicken?
--Well, I'm wondering if the Pad Thai comes with chicken.
--You want whole chicken?
--A whole chicken? No, not a whole chicken. Do they come with pieces of chicken?
--You want half chicken? You want whole chicken?
--I think we'll just have water for now.
He left and his mom (I'm assuming it was his mom) came over and took the order. Our food came and thankfully was pretty good (and did come with chicken). Of course at that point Isaac was getting fussy and didn't want to nurse so I stood up to bounce him while I ate (there was no one else in the restaurant). The woman who took our order saw that I was standing up and eating so she walked over to me clapping her hands saying, "Bebe, me hold bebe, mommy, you eat, I hold bebe!" Whoa there, I was so shocked that I handed him over because really I didn't know what else to do. For the duration of the meal she talked very excitedly about Isaac (I'm assuming this because I couldn't understand a single word she said). After we left the restaurant Jesse said, "so how uncomfortable did that make you?" I said, "I honestly don't even know what I feel right now. I kept picturing her handing him off to someone in the kitchen and me running through D.C. trying to get back my baby."

8. Are you a MOTH? After our very interested lunch we were in need of coffee and thankfully a Starbucks was only one block away. After ordering, Jesse went to the bathroom and I had a conversation with a man about my age, that went something like this:
--Excuse me, are you a MOTH?
--Um, no, I don't know what that means?
--Do you live on the Hill?
--No, I don't know what a MOTH is. (Of course I'm laughing in disbelief at this point)
--Oh, it means, Mother Of The Hill. If you are a mom and live on Capitol Hill, then you're called a MOTH and you looked like one of them so I thought I would ask.
--Wow. No, I don't live here. Is that a negative term or something?
--No, no...
and then he went on to explain how he just moved there and works at a local church and was sending out an email to all of the parents and many of the contacts were listed under MOTH.

Of course I had to tell Jesse this story and we laughed the whole way to the metro station and I almost peed my pants from laughing so hard. She thought he was calling me a moth because I never stop moving (I'm always bouncing Isaac, even when he's in the Beco, which he was for three days). The funny thing is, when we were at The Yankee Peddler Festival a week ago, I was standing at one of the booths, doing my usual bounce with Isaac in the Beco, and this woman said to me, "wow, I should really start doing that (bouncing), all of the magazines give exercises to do while standing around and you're doing a really good job. I could probably lose weight if I did that!" Then she realized I had a baby attached to me..."OH, you have a baby! That's why you're bouncing! I thought you read about that in a magazine!"  Oh dear. No, I do not just bounce for fun, although my calves are starting to look quite nice so I guess it is paying off. I rotate between a bounce using the calves and one using the thighs, just in case anyone wants an exercise tip...just kidding!

9. Look at that FAT baby and our last train ride. We were waiting for the metro...waiting for a very long time because they were doing construction on the rails, when this crazy woman, and really she must have been crazy because before she even got over to me I could hear he saying, "look at that fat baby, what a fat baby, boy that baby is fat." So she comes up to me and says, "how old is that baby, he is so fat, I can't believe he's so fat." And walked away still saying those things. Now, first of all, one of my least favorite words in existence is the word 'fat' and it is banned from being used in our house. Secondly, Isaac is in the first percentile for his height and a whopping second percentile for his height, so I would hardly consider using the adjective 'fat' to describe him. Jesse thought maybe she meant he's a PHAT baby.

We stayed in Springfield so the metro ride was about twenty minutes...not bad right? Well, on Saturday they were doing construction on the rails and it took TWO HOURS for us to get back to the hotel from Georgetown. Thankfully Isabella and Isaac did very well during that time. As for me, I was about to lose it. Not only was it a disaster waiting to happen since this was during Isaac's fussiest time of the day, but we were stuck in a tunnel most of the time and I tend to feel claustrophobic in crowds or as I found out, in dark tunnels when I am stuck on a train with way to many people.

10. The drive home. Let me remind you how much Isabella loved our trip: she talked about going home from the minute we arrived at the hotel. And she made it her personal goal to remind us as many times as possible that we were indeed on our way home. Every time we stopped, made a turn, or paid a toll she said, "no, we are going home! Right mommy (because she didn't trust Jesse). We are going home today. I want to go home. Mommy, are we almost home?" "No, Isabella, it is still a long time before we are home." "Mommy, are you kiddin' me?" Other than non-stop talking, Isabella did really well on the trip there and back. Isaac did really well on the trip there, but on the way back he was not happy and really needed to poop, but that's another story. I don't know any other babies who have been constipated from exclusive breastfeeding, but, you know, he's unique in more ways than one!


Old Town Alexandria...

Jesse, very excited to see all of the salt-water taffy options.

I used a trash can as a make-shift tripod in order to use a very slow shutter speed to take this picture.

Hooray for finding the Mothering Magazine sign for breastfeeding friendly establishments!

Here is a series of pictures show casing Isabella's amazingly entertaining dance while waiting for the train. She not only entertained us but many of the other waiting passengers. She even got an applause from an old lady. Sorry for the bad picture quality.

Dogs of D.C.

Please note the Clifford that Isabella is holding. Before we left for our trip, my mom gave Isabella some money and she chose to buy this Clifford. Unfortunately Clifford decided he wanted to take his own adventure in Georgetown which meant I had to backtrack several blocks to find him.

Signs on the metro I found totally hilarious...

Isaac's adorable feet. I think I take so many pictures of his feet because I wish I had baby feet and hand pictures of Isabella.


Since high school Jesse has made fun of me for wearing Birkinstocks. Well, guess who wanted to wear my spares when her feet were hurting...mmmhmmm...
She doesn't know I took this picture. 


I'm fairly certain that I am the one who had the most fun on our road trip. While on the metro Saturday morning, Jesse told me she doesn't think she ever wants to have kids. Isaac lived in the Beco for three days so he was quite content and I thought he slept pretty well but Jesse was aghast when I said that Isaac slept amazingly well the first night..."What are you talking about?! He was up half the night!" That's better than the whole night, right?

How did we manage to spend three days in Washington D.C. and go to one museum for thirty minutes and not see any of the about you try going with a three year old when it's over ninety-five degrees!

My personal highlights...a two-story Gap, a three-story Banana Republic, a two-story Gap Outlet, walking in Alexandria, getting our make-up done in Georgetown, and lots of fun memories with my sister.