Well, I got way out of my routine and out of my comfort zone this month (see number one and five through thirteen). We stayed at my parents' house for a few days while they were out of town so we could take care of my grandmother and then we spent a week car tripping and hiking and camping and I think these two very different experiences taught me alot!
1. The caring for an elderly person and the caring for my small people in an environment that's not our home and honestly, the tending of my own mental space, was all much easier than I had imagined.
We moved in to my parents' house for a few days so we could care for my grandmother who lives with them while they helped Cookie and Conrad move into their new house in Nashville. [To be fair, they have a nurse who is PRECIOUS and who comes twice a day to prepare her for bed and for the day so all I was really doing was fixing a few meals and refilling her ice water.] Bud cleaned the bathroom sink at least fifteen times with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol, Sallie slept about as well as she does anywhere and she and I both probably did a bit of stress eating a couple or twelve times, and Annie set up her bed and nightstand on Minnie's leopard lounge. Both the big kids were so obedient and were really polite to Grandee (she's usually in bed by the time we get here when we come over in the evening). Annie asked me what time of day it was and then told her good afternoon and Graves asked her "how are you doing?" and repeated it about six times, more clearly each time until she could understand him, without getting frustrated. I resisted the urge to jump in and help him. I killed a roach, bathed a baby, and started a load of pooped on laundry within half an hour of getting there on Friday. I surprised myself by predicting just the right of gear to keep Sarah Lamar happy and I figured out manageable boundaries in a non baby proofed house with a lake in the backyard, which was really my biggest goal second only to keeping everyone alive which was actually sort of contingent on those boundaries. It felt good. Especially since back when I lived in that house I could hardly fix my own baked potato.
2. Graves stretches me and is constantly making me evaluate my priorities and rules and what is really worth my energy. Honestly, I think everyone needs someone in their lives like that. He wore a pink romper to the playground the other day because he has no idea colors are gendered and he wanted to be some pink person from Star Wars.
3. I sort of loved Sallie's five outfit Fall transitional wardrobe, which surprised me a lot.It was just simple and easy and all five were my favorite things.
4. There's a lot of factors here (Graves has a lot more year round clothes like t-shirts, Annie wears her clothes forever (there are quite a few 4T dresses she wore this Summer), her stuff takes up more space, ect.) but also- especially once they're five and love Star Wars and you have convictions about Wardrobe Autonomy dressing a boy just isn't as much fun.
5. This trip was full of unpredictable elements, as one would expect with things like this, but probably the biggest surprise to me was that I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and Peyton found it more difficult than he anticipated.
One of my best friends and I talk about how she and I are like Doomsday Preppers but for life situations. Mick says I (and he) "awfulize and catastrophize". Basically, I can be a real pessimist (and though I've gotten better) I over think and let things P sees as simple become really daunting (and then scream at him that I'm pretty damn flexible to go a long with half of what I do). Sometimes it makes life miserable but sometimes it works to my benefit. Anyway, I shouldn't be surprised; this is how it often works out. (I still contend that I fell harder and loved deeper in regards to New York than he did.) He kept telling me that if I wanted to stay at a motel, just to say so. But another element of my personality is that I really, really like to prove things to myself and to him. That said, I was pretty relieved when he suggested camping one more night for the last time and just trying to get in a bit more hiking. And even more so when he said we should just find something interesting to do on the way and stay in a motel halfway. And even more so when he woke me up and said he and Annie thought we should just drive straight home and eat out twice on the way. It was a lot of fun, but I'm ready for my own bed! And we learned ALOT.
6. It turns out that I can actually keep my calm in a stressful situation. We made it to the Shenandoah Valley but all the campsites and motels were full. We finally ended up getting the last room in the motel an hour away for less than a hundred dollars. I was pretty proud of myself because Peyton was just a ball of stress and I stayed calm (which is typically so the opposite for us) and even insisted we not cave and pay $200 for a mediocre motel half an hour away. And I was so proud of Graves, who was calm, obedient, and a big help with his baby sister who just wanted to be held after a long drive.
7. Salt-sweeking buffalo, moccason clad warrior, dreaming pioneer, and battling Civil War soldier were all at the Cumberland Gap and so were we!
8. Mammoth Cave is fascinating...and a little daunting with an infant.
I didn't get many good pictures and it was a bit nerve wracking with not much light; narrow, slippery passageways; super high, steep stairs; and you know, a four month old. Also, the guide explained that the only way out was the way we came in and if there was a medical emergency there were no secret exits (none exist for crying babies on guided tours either).
9. Car camping isn't so bad.
I slept in the back row of the van the first night. The second night we knew we were going to try to leave super early and didn't want to have to reinstall AP's booster so I just laid back the front seat as far as it'd go. Both were pretty comfy and I slept better than I did in the double beds with P the two nights in motels. I used to say that the "couch" in the front seat of my Buick was some of the most comfortable furniture we owned, and while I'm certainly glad to have my own bed back, the van wasn't bad at all.
10. I've come a long way in flexibility and Peyton's come a long way in graciousness. One of the few things (probably the only big thing) I wanted for this babykins was a standard Tula. P kind of pushed back (understandably- they're an investment) but I knew from wearing Graves when he was three in Brooklyn how amazing these carriers are and that I didn't want to try anything else. Peyton agreed we could get one if I agreed to try a big hiking/camping trip. I even let him help pick the pattern (Shenandoah, so perfect for us/her!) and he came around to offering a motel if the nights were rough for Sarah Lamar.
11. It is a terrible idea to bring a loaf of bread on a trip like this, much less two loaves of bread. I wasted way too much mental energy trying to "protect" those things and keep them from getting smushed. We brought lots of Nabs and cereal bars and golfish and fresh fruit and brownies and honestly I think making sandwiches is stressful and messy anyway.
12. Rodent's teeth never stop growing and that's why they gnaw on things- they gotta keep those things from getting out of control. I learned that from a ranger at the nature center in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
13. When you're in a situation where you really don't want a blowout or a leaky diaper (like when you have one thing that's weather appropriate for your infant to wear to sleep in an ingested vehicle) just use your cloth diaper cover over your regular disposable diapers. My wonderful sister in law taught me that trick and it really saved us on the trip.
14. When I have laundry covering our bed and Peyton has to work the next day, the sunroom is a wonderful place for him to sleep.
It's actually the perfect time of year to sleep in there (it's not climate controlled like the rest of the house). Peyton wasn't super excited about my swing idea at first, bit over the last year I think he's enjoyed it *at least* as much as I have.
Whew! Lots of things learned and it only took two thousand mile and five state parks!