Thursday, February 26, 2009

A week of Highs and Lows (Part 1)

So much has happened this past week that I’m not sure I can capture it all in one post…

First – our trip to WV. I was more than a little worried about how Sophia would handle the flights on Friday. I prayed for a peaceful flight and I am happy to report that we made it from Dallas, to Chicago, to Columbus, OH without one single tear!!! Sophia did WONDERFUL on the airplane. She sat next to Trey on the first flight to Chicago and soon after takeoff he pulled out the laptop and put in the movie Madagascar. My grown-up little girl sat still her own seat with her seatbelt on (we even buckled her bunny in with her) and watched the movie for most of the two hour flight. We had a layover in Chicago which gave us just enough time to each lunch and take a walk through the terminal so Sophia could burn off some energy.

The next flight to Columbus only took about an hour and Sophia sat next to me this time. I did not get out the laptop (I think we drained the battery on the first flight), but I had packed a few toys in her backpack so she sat in her seat and played. I was even able to relax enough to read a magazine while sitting next to her! Compared to the last flight I took with Sophia to WV in August, this trip was amazing. Miraculous. Almost too good to be true… It actually left me a little worried about the flight home on Monday. I will admit that anytime Sophia tried to get out of her seatbelt, Trey told her that the flight attendant would put her in time out! We also used dum-dum suckers as a bribe to keep her in her seat. I’m sure the passengers around us appreciated our efforts, as we did not get one dirty look or audible groan this time.

After the second flight, we still had a three hour drive from the airport in Columbus to Huntington, WV. Sophia fell asleep minutes and took a nap for the first hour of our drive. It was an hour past her naptime and I had woken her up early so we could catch our flight. As I expected, we made it to my grandmother’s house around 6:00 PM that evening (exactly twelve hours after I had dragged myself out of bed that morning in Dallas).

Our weekend was filled with lots of family and food. I got to see my nephews play All-Star Basketball and both of their teams won first place in the tournament! Trey and I went to dinner with my sister and her husband on Saturday night while my mom watched all the kids. Saturday night it snowed so we woke up to a white world on Sunday morning.
That morning I went to church with mom and afterwards she cooked lunch for fourteen people! I felt nostalgic as our family gathered around the table for lunch and played games afterwards – Yahtzee, Password and Scattergories. Sunday dinner was a tradition in our family for many years before my Nanny passed away. Now we were gathered in the same kitchen, playing some of the same familiar games.

Monday morning we had breakfast at my Mama’s house before we left for the airport (another tradition every time I visit my family). The kids were all together one last time that morning – but obviously they did not want their picture taken!

Throughout the weekend, Sophia played with Allie non-stop and the boys loved building her forts, reading to her, and watching over her the entire time. I actually got to rest, relax, and enjoy every minute of this visit.

One last flight to conquer – a three hour direct flight from Columbus to Dallas.
This plane was a little larger so we had three seats together. Sophia sat between Trey and I and watched a little bit of her movie before the battery on the laptop died. She was a little more active this flight and I offered her every snack I could find – but we still made it home without any tears! I proclaim this trip a huge success!

Too bad that the next time we fly, we will be starting all over again with a second baby.

Check back soon for pictures of the surprise we had waiting for us when we arrived home on Monday night…

Also check back to read about the lecture I attended this week by the author of “Eat, Love, Pray”.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Flight of Firsts

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM, Sophia, Trey and I will be taking off in an airplane from the Dallas/Fort Worth airport and heading to my hometown of Huntington, WV to visit my family. This is a trip that we take about twice a year, so in theory the trip should be fairly routine by now. However, it is not as easy as simply getting on a plane in Dallas and actually landing in Huntington. No, this trip usually involves multiple airports, sometimes delays or cancellations, lost or broken luggage, rental cars, and whatever surprise that is thrown our way. For this trip we have a layover in Chicago, then on to Columbus where we will pick up a rental car and drive almost 3 hours to Huntington. I expect that I will be arriving in Huntington approximately 10-12 hours after I wake up tomorrow morning – it is going to be a very long day.

Flying with Sophia is always an unknown “adventure”. She has flown approximately half a dozen times in her short 2 years of age. The first time I took her on a plane, she was about 10 weeks old. I was by myself so I carried her in an infant sling and she slept soundly the entire flight. The lady sitting next to me did not even know I was holding a baby for the first 10 minutes of the flight. I was confident that future trips would be just as easy! I was lulled into this belief just as Sophia had been lulled to sleep by the sound of the plane’s engine. However our confidence crashed as we found our trips becoming increasingly difficult as she got older.

One time when Sophia was still an infant, Trey and I were trying to get her to sleep on the plane. I was holding her in my arms and praying that she would settle down when the overhead speaker crackled and the flight attendant’s voice boomed through the plane. Sophia jerked awake at the sudden sound and her face turned purple with anger before she let out a LOUD scream and began crying. Trey was flustered and frantic as he tried to comfort her and her cries felt amplified in that small airplane. We didn’t ask – we actually demanded that flight attendant turn down the volume on the overhead speaker but it didn’t help. Every announcement that day was followed by us comforting Sophia and shushing her back to sleep.

Last summer, we were all returning from my family reunion in Charlotte. Sophia was almost two but we were taking advantage of the airline rules and were traveling with her as a “lap child”. This means she did not have her own seat and would be restricted to our laps for the entire flight. We were not worried, because 99% of the time there has been an extra seat nearby that we can use while one of us sits with Sophia. Unfortunately, this flight was COMPLETELY full and on the way home Sophia had a complete, over-the-top, classic meltdown. I knew it was because she had not gotten enough rest during our trip – but I had no remedy for it mid-flight. Sophia basically screamed for the last hour of the flight and did not even want to be touched or comforted. I tried everything I could think of such as snacks, stickers, suckers… but all I did was succeed in escalating her screams. When they announced a delay in our landing (we circled Dallas for almost 40 minutes), everyone around us groaned in frustration and I knew we were the culprits. About 10 minutes before the wheels touched down, she exhausted herself and fell asleep against Trey. I was weary with relief – but it was short-lived. The landing woke her up and she was unhappy once again.

Trey and I looked at each other when we got off the plane and said those same words that we say after each trip we have taken with Sophia…

“NEVER AGAIN! We are NEVER getting on a plane with her again”!

But time passes and the feeling of wanting to visit my family begins to make these memories fade.

In the last two years, I have learned to change diapers in the mini-airplane bathrooms, on my lap, and in the middle of crowded airport bathrooms. I have sat in a stall to nurse Sophia so I could avoid the stares from strangers at the gate (even though I am very modest and could discreetly feed her while completely covered). I have endured the dirty looks, loud sighs, and “helpful” advice from fellow passengers for the multitude of inconveniences that I have brought upon the entire plane by bringing my young daughter on board. I have carried a diaper bag and car-seat on one arm while pushing an empty stroller through the airport and carrying Sophia in the other arm (and I had bruises for weeks from the car seat bouncing against my leg).

Tomorrow is a flight of firsts… the first time we have all flown into Columbus (these were the cheapest tickets I could find). The first time we have ever taken a flight that includes a layover (pray for good weather in Chicago). The first time we have all flown together with Sophia in her own seat (maybe I will get to read a book or magazine while Trey and Sophia watch a movie on the computer). The first time that we have flown without bringing a stroller, diapers or pull-ups (I need to remember to bring an extra change of clothes for Sophia in the event of a bathroom emergency). Maybe, just maybe, it will be the first flight since that VERY first flight over two years ago that we make it the entire flight without any tears. Or maybe when we return to Dallas on Monday, Trey and I will turn to each other and say, “NEVER AGAIN!”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The CHAOS, before the CALM, before the CHAOS...

I am currently around the 5th or 6th month of my pregnancy (sorry but I really don't know how to get 9 months out of 40 weeks), so that means our family is right in the middle of cleaning out one of the guest rooms and making it the baby's room. We (meaning Trey and his dad) are moving furniture, getting rid of a guest bed, painting the baby's room (well the painter we hired is painting), cleaning out closets, getting Sophia new furniture, and moving her nursery furniture… Basically the three bedrooms upstairs and the hallway are in complete CHAOS.

All of these things need to be done, so I planned these bedroom moves to happen during my second trimester when I am supposed to be sailing high on the seas of energy. However, this pregnancy is not following the "normal" timetable and I feel like I am stumbling through each day feeling sluggish and sleepy. I walked into the baby's room, opened the door to the closet, and saw it piled high with boxes, baby toys and blankets. I just sighed at the mess, closed the door and walked away. I really don't know where to begin, so I have decided that my main role will be to delegate and give orders about what needs to be moved, painted, or put away.

Another strange occurrence in our house, Sophia has been having trouble sleeping through the night lately. This is the little girl who has slept 10+ hours in her own bed since she was 6-8 months old. In the last few weeks, Sophia has been waking up crying in her sleep. I will walk in her room to find her sitting up in bed with her eyes closed and tears streaming down her face. She never tells me that something is wrong and usually I can rock her to calm her down and put her back to bed. This does not help my fatigue, but I am not alone in my lack of sleep. Trey has also been up with her several times during the night - last week he stayed up with her for hours one night because she was wide awake and could not go back to sleep. They stayed up and watched TV while cuddling on the couch. Is Sophia picking up on the fact that things are changing around our house? Is she having bad dreams? Is she scared of the dark? I don't know yet but her new "big girl" bed will be delivered this weekend, and we will all have to re-adjust to her new sleeping arrangements.

I know that things will calm down in the next month or two, mainly because I will be slowing down during the last months of my pregnancy. I remember at the end of my pregnancy with Sophia, I could not even walk up the stairs without stopping halfway to take a break and catch my breath. My body has already rejected any form of exercise and I prefer to "lie down" after work instead of heading to yoga class to do "downward dog".

I am getting tired of riding these waves of chaos - the swells of activity (and preparation) never seem to end… I am looking forward to slowing down soon. I am ready for the calm to descend upon our house. Hopefully in the next few months the baby's room will be ready. I will have sorted through the clutter and pulled out her swing, some clothes, the car seat, and infant toys for her little brother.

I remember how peaceful Sophia's room felt before she was born. I would sit in the rocking chair in the corner and look around at everything we had arranged for her arrival. A stack of diapers on the changing tables, drawers filled with tiny clothes and socks, a soft blanket draped over the edge of the crib. I would breathe in the smell of anticipation and a wave of CALM would wash over me.

The CALM before the storm.

I hope that by the end of May I will be rested and ready for the CHAOS that a newborn will bring to our house.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our big day...

We have talked about it for months. We have debated about when and where it should take place. We have even practiced at home, so no one would be scared when it was time. It was supposed to happen before Christmas, but it got postponed until early February. Finally, this past Saturday, the big day arrived.

Sophia, my baby girl, got her very first haircut.

Just to let you know, Sophia had hardly any hair on her head by her first birthday (check out the picture below). I would buy headbands with bows attached and she was almost ALWAYS dress her in pink so everyone would know I had a baby girl. But she was still a beautiful bald little baby.

Around the time she was 1 ½, we noticed the adorable blonde little curls starting to sprout on her head. By the time she turned two, I was finally able to pull up some curls into a little ponytail on top of her head. This is only after chasing her down and bribing her to let me fix her hair.

We still struggle with taming those curls each morning, which is why I was a little worried about her first haircut. Sometime she will scream and pull away when I wet her hair before I brush it. As her hair has grown, the back now gets tangled in her sleep and she hates for me to comb through the mangled mess. More than once she has gone to daycare with that wild mane untamed.

Saturday morning, Trey brought Sophia to the “beauty shop” where I was getting my hair done. Our plan was to let her see me sitting in the chair so she would know what to do when it was her turn. After I was finished I waited to see if she was going to ask me to hold her on my lap, or if she was going to sit on the “booster” foam block all by herself. Sophia didn’t even glance my way as she climbed up into that big chair. She stared at herself in the mirror as we put the drape around her little shoulders. I think I was more nervous than Sophia, so I kept telling her how proud I was that she was being a big girl. I was also busy taking lots of pictures to preserve the memory.
As Ms. Alesha started to spray Sophia’s hair with the water bottle, I held my breath. I guess I was expecting a protest, but Sophia sat perfectly still in the chair. Ms. Alesha combed her hair straight and started to cut.

I helped keep Sophia’s head steady at first and watched the tiny little curls get trimmed away. Of course I kept a few curls as a keepsake, although Trey thought I was being a little too sentimental.

Sophia did move her head around a lot, which is a little challenging for any hairdresser but what 2 ½ year old can really sit still for more than 30 seconds. I was so excited that she was doing well and busy clicking away on the camera – that I did not have time to get emotional.

In less than 10 minutes we were finished and Ms. Alesha put Sophia’s little yellow bow back in her hair. I asked her to give me a big smile…

We had talked about her reward for being such a big girl during her haircut, so afterwards she got to pick out a sucker. What color? Pink, of course. My baby girl is growing up.