Traveling with two toddlers (yes, I can say toddlers now) is not the ideal way to spend a weekend and it doesn't even come close to fitting the definition of "vacation." Especially for those of us who opt to boycott Dramamine (and regret it 15 miles outside the last rest stop).
We timed our departure to coincide with nap time, hoping that would leave at least half the trip scream-free.
Unfortunately, sleeping was the last thing on their minds.
All of the sudden, Katie would cry for her bottle (the one she was holding two seconds ago). I unstrap the seatbelt, drape myself over the seat as I scrounge around under the seat for the bottle.
I found three fishy crackers, one glove and a half-chewed chicken nugget, but no bottle. As the screams grew louder, I searched through the pile of toys, toted to the car in two trips with the hope of keeping two little ones occupied for two and a half hours.
Yeah, that was worth the effort.
I found the bottle, nearly knocked myself senseless as the car rounded a curve and buckled myself back in.
As soon as she heard the seatbelt click, Katie again "lost" her bottle and not-so-politely asked for me to retrieve it again.
She was tired, I could tell.
Then she tried storing the bottle on the ledge above her head -- conveniently out of reach.
My seatbelt got a workout.
Both girls were nearly asleep when their bottles -- which miraculously stayed in their hands -- simultaneously ran dry.
Thus started another round of not-so-polite requests. This time for refills.
I had juice packed and ready to go, so I filled Nikki's bottle first. The milk-clouded apple juice didn't look appealing, but complacent Nikki was OK with that.
Katie would not be.
So, I used an inch of juice to rinse the milk and poured it out the window, the whole time having nightmares of losing the bottle.
Oh God, I'd have to start nursing again.
That didn't bear thinking about, so by the time the bottle was empty and semi-dry, my fingers were numb from gripping it so hard.
The juice did the trick and both slept.
I already couldn't wait to be back home.
I chose to bring them why?
Because I can't bear to be away from them for too long. Besides, they had a higher purpose on this trip.
Grandma JoAnn and Grandpa Jerry hadn't seen them since Christmas. Katie's grown curls and is no longer mistaken for a boy. Nikki is (bald children is my curse), but she's walking and kissing and is generally growing cuter by the minute.
It was brag time.
That's one of the few rights I, as a parent, retain.
It's a kid thing, I think. Cooperation isn't a strong point.
At the restaurant, both clamored to get down and when allowed to stretch her legs, Nikki immediately went for the ... I'm not really sure what it started as .. ground into the floor and tried to get it into her mouth before she was caught.
Katie noticed a child with a balloon and, having lost hers earlier because she refused to let me tie it on, immediately dissolved into tears.
Thank God the balloon was provided by the restaurant and they were happy (mostly seeking quiet) to fill two more for my girls.
That stopped the tears, but left daddy hopping up and down to grab the balloon Katie kept releasing (it was his turn, I handled the bottle fiasco).
Nikki held on to the balloon for dear life. Mostly because she was trying to take a big bite out of it.
That was a great sound. Perfect accompaniment for a nice dinner.
The grand finale was Katie.
Evidently she wasn't getting something she wanted, I'm still not sure what, so she reared back and slammed her head down squarely on the table.
Silverware clattered, glasses jumped and every guest in the restaurant went silent, save one who jumped out of his seat and went after the manager.
The manager was at our table in less than 10 seconds, offering ice and whatever comfort he could.
Luckily, Katie's histrionics were short lived. I'm pretty sure she was more frightened by the noise than hurt.
She didn't even have a red mark.
Kids have hard heads -- in more ways than one.
Restaurants are fun, aren't they?
We had one more night out to prepare for, again with people who hadn't seen the girls since Christmas.
It wasn't nearly as eventful as the one before.
Katie's only had other diners glancing our way 10 or 12 times.
The piece de resistance was when her father scooched in his seat and Katie, eyes wide and smile wider, said in her pay-attention-to-me voice, "you farted!"
When parents say they can't go out because they have kids, it's not just because of the logistical difficulties of toting children along. Their hearts just can't take it.
Kids have no compunctions about saying what comes first to their minds and doing what strikes their fancies.
They're on their own little journeys -- the journey of self discovery, and it's a trip.