Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just as I suspected

I worried that after five and a half months of living in other people's homes with no real responsibility, tasks, or duties to speak of (other than playing with my kid), that I would forget how to function and run my own home.

Tonight as I was attempting to make dinner, I decided this was true. Either that, or I never knew how in the first place. Or no one can ever get anything done with a toddler. Seriously-- how does anyone do anything with a 17 month old for whom you are their only entertainment? Wesley has gotten all too used to mommy-time play-time ALL-the-time that it makes simple tasks like making dinner much more insurmountable.

Tonight I was finishing the dinner that I actually started last night because last night I abandoned it and drove thru Taco Bell. All I was making was this delicious salad but I felt like it took an eternity. Mostly because I was constantly interrupted by my little monkey.

Last night I recorded what Wesley did in the time it took me to wash the mud off of, kill the caterpillars living in, and chop the head of Napa cabbage that recently came to me from a Massachusetts farm.
  • Got into a forbidden cupboard and pulled out as many sandwich baggies as he could before I could catch him 4 separate times.
  • Sat in time out for this after the 3rd time
  • After the 4th time, I knew the message wasn't coming through so I escorted him to the toy chest in his room and closed the door behind me. :) That bought me maybe 3 minutes
  • He then tried to use his set of play keys to open the shut door, then just knocked and yelled until I came to the rescue.
  • Got into 3 different boxes of cereal and sampled bits of each.
  • Helped me push the button on the salad spinner over and over and over
  • Dumped half a bag of cereal ALL over the floor. At least he kept eating it once it was spilled...
How am I supposed to get anything done in all that ruckus? I know that's nothing compared to lots of crazy-kid-terror stories I've heard, but it still makes me feel unproductive at best.

So as I worked on dinner tonight it was pretty much the same story as last night. This time it was a cup of water he poured on the floor instead of cereal. At one point he was playing in his room when he started making his distressed cry. I rushed in to find that he had managed to climb into the 2nd drawer of his dresser but couldn't figure out how to get out. I'm very very glad that dresser didn't tip or break like it should have... yikes. (I wanted to take a picture, but the mothering instinct kicked in too fast here. It was really quite a feat).

All of this is really just to say, I know there are people who accomplish lots and lots with toddlers... How on earth do they do it?

Take for instance, my awesome sister-in-law who has 2 little boys, currently in law school and completing a demanding internship for a judge. She manages to cook fantastic, organic, gourmet deliciousness for her family on a regular basis using muddy, buggy, fresh produce as well. To me, that is quite a feat in and of itself. On top of that, she teaches Sunday School every week and takes her boys to do awesome fun things and goes on dates with my cute brother (her cute hubby). Sigh. I don't think I'll ever be that cool.

Or look at my friend Stephanie who is soon to have her 4th kiddo and already has 3 busy little boys. She is my idol of domesticity. She runs an awesome, adorable and inspirational blog, knits the sweetest tiny sweaters for all the new babies around her, makes practically everything from scratch including 8 loaves of bread a week, and always posts new and wonderful recipes on her blog so I know she also manages to feed her family every night.

Then there's my sister Lana who I will never be as cool as, no matter how hard I try. That's just what happens to little sisters... She's in the Relief Society presidency, runs carpool no less than 46 times a day or something, cooks AWESOME food including BREAKFAST! (this has always impressed me since I rarely never eat anything but cold cereal for breakfast), has a successful home business, and I'm pretty sure she even showers everyday. Not just that, but she actually does her hair and makeup too. And wears cute clothes. You should be impressed. Or maybe normal people just do that stuff....

I could go on and on and on about people I know that are doing amazing things while I struggle to wipe the dirt from a cabbage leaf and turn it into a salad. These 3 women were the first that came to mind tonight as I mused about my non-skillage. So I hope someday to hone my skills and become the Domestic Betty in my mind, with perfectly coifed hair, wearing pearls and a dress I just finished sewing while I pull out my perfectly cooked roast from the oven and have all the side dishes already arranged, all served piping hot and at the same time. Why is it that I struggle with dinners so much, dangit?

Anyway, in the meantime, if the 3 of you toddler mamas read this post, just know that I think you are each wonderful Domestic Betty's and I hope I can be like each of you. Thanks for being role models.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our cross country trek

So much to blog, so little time! I'll try to catch up, but no guarantees. :)

I feel like our cross-country drive to move from Nevada to Connecticut was pretty epic. We passed through 12 states and 3 time zones in 4 days.

Day 1 (Friday): First 3 states; Nevada, Arizona, Utah. We left Las Vegas around noon and drove up to Provo where we enjoyed dinner at India Palace (so good. I seriously miss that place) and met up with some friends. Then on up to Tooele to spend the night with Brittany and fam! We had so much fun hanging out and playing with them again. We took Saturday off from driving to get in some quality family time since we don't know when we'll get to see them again. :(

Day 2 (Sunday): Next 2 states; Wyoming, Nebraska. We left around 10 am, not sure how far we would be able to make it. Turns out, Wesley is a Road Trip Warrior! He was amazing. We'd let him play around in the morning before strapping him down, then he'd fall asleep briefly or just play in his car seat until lunch time. We'd stop and eat, let him run around and play more, then hit the road again. He usually takes a nap right after lunch so this was perfect to him. He'd sleep for a few hours and play in his seat or demand snacks once he woke up until we'd stop for dinner. Pretty much same story with lunch here. Back in the seat for a DVD and usually some whining until he'd fall asleep and stay asleep until we decided we had to park it for the night.

This was our first hard-core, all-day, drive-til-you-drop day and we went somewhere in the neighborhood of 900 miles. Woo hoo! We were originally thinking we would take 5 days to do the trip, but seeing Wesley's awesome-ness on the road we decided to push hard and see if we could make it sooner.

As for the drive itself, we are really going to miss Utah. The beautiful mountains and trees... it's just a very familiar landscape that has felt like home for a long time.

We are very glad we don't live in Wyoming. No offense to those that do, all 600 of you, but that place seems rough! Untamed wilderness... and COLD. It doesn't help that it was gray and stormy as we passed through but it seemed like such a lone and dreary kinda place.

Nebraska was much better than I thought it would be. I'd never thought much about Nebraska... just one of those northern-midwesty types of places full of prairie and cornfields. I know, the stereotyping!! But truly it was very beautiful. This was the first place where we saw pretty fall colors. And driving through made me wanna yell GO CORNHUSKERS!! That place has some serious school pride and I love it!

Day 3 (Monday): Next 4 states; Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. After our night at the hotel in Lincoln, NE, we hit the road again, left the home of the Cornhuskers and headed into Iowa. My earliest memory of Iowa was as a kid, I was playing a geography trivia game with my brother Clark. He was 8 years older and about 30 years smarter and I had no chance against him. I was losing pathetically and I got the question: Which state has more pigs than people? Exasperated, I said, "I dunno. Iowa?" And I got it right. For some reason, that's the only thing I've ever remembered about Iowa. Then in college I met someone from Iowa (2 people actually!) and was really surprised that they were normal. (Hi Preston! hehe) Here I go again with my state stereotyping... On that note, I was expecting Iowa to be more like Wyoming. But it was really pretty! Just very serene and natural. I liked it. For the first few hours. And then I got very very bored. Sorry Iowa, but now I just think you have a lot of pigs and you are boring.

It was quite a relief to get to Illinois just for a change of pace. We pulled off in Princeton, IL which claimed to be the birthplace of Ronald Reagan even though it is 30 miles away... maybe they couldn't come up with anything else to claim... I mean, "We have a Wendy's" isn't a really impressive subtitle for your "Welcome to Princeton" sign I guess, although it would have been more accurate. Anyway, when we finished our dinner break and carried on, we got stuck in a construction traffic jam for about 2 hours and made amazing progress of 10 miles in that time. Wesley watched the entire Bee Movie as we creeped along going nowhere. Thanks Illinois. We were making great progress.

And now a brief rant about road construction. Along our roughly 2800 miles, we passed probably around 100 construction workers. Of those 100, probably 6 were doing any actual work. The rest seemed to be observing the intricate swirls that the cream made in their coffee. Thank you government, for wasting my money so efficiently.

Anyway, we finally made it out of Illinois and into Indiana. Most of Indiana passed us by in the dark, so unfortunatey, I don't have any pleasant words about how the scenery was, though I'm sure it was lovely. The thing that will make Indiana live in infamy in the memory of these 3 Avarells forever: TOLLBOOTH. We were planning to stop somewhere near Cleveland, OH for the night. At first this seemed like a very doable task. Then our 2 hour delay in Illinois made us rethink. We decided to stop in Toledo. Even with that, we were going to get in later than we wanted to. We were getting tired and just ready to get to the hotel. Things were looking promising when it was time to cross the Indiana-Ohio border. We pull up to a giant toll plaza that has about 8 lanes for FastPass people that no one is using. Then there are 2 lanes open for everybody else. Both lines are absurdly long. We sat there for-I kid you not- 20 minutes waiting to PAY to LEAVE the state we didn't want to be in in the first place!! Each minute we sat there wondering what the devil was taking so long was a giant test of self-control not to throw a raging fit. We even saw one person get out of their car and go stomping up to the booth to see what the dang hold up was. I'm not sure what they discovered, because when we finally got up there, there was just a machine ready to take your toll ticket and credit card. No person. Just that stupid machine. If you've ever seen most people at the self-checkout lane of a grocery store, then you can assume what the hold-up was. Frustrating, that's what it was. Maybe the circumstance would have been different if we hadn't spent all day in a car, if we weren't already exhausted, if the stopping hadn't awakened our peacefully sleeping baby and turned him into a very whiny and irritated baby... even still... Indiana: If you are reading this blog, fix that stupid toll booth! You only need 2 fastpass lanes and you need people working the cash lanes! I saw lots of construction workers that needed something to do, you can get them to do it.

Day 4 (Tuesday): Last 3 states; Pennsylvania, New York, and CONNECTICUT!! We decided to forgive the road and get back on it just because we were so close. We drove the rest of the way through Ohio and loved the scenery. The fall colors were in full swing and it was beautiful.

Also, this was our first day of illegal driving. We had bought a new car in Vegas and the temp plate was only good through October 11 and this was the 12th. Not to mention we have black limo tint on all the windows which is legal and necessary in Vegas and illegal and sketchy almost everywhere else. Some hotel maintenance guy was eager to tell us that while our tint was awesome, it is illegal here in Ohio. Thanks. So anyway, we were holding our breath and praying that we would be able to fly under the radar the rest of the way. At one point, we were cruisin along and passed a cop parked at an emergency turn-around spot. We weren't speeding (we weren't about to push our luck) but the cop whipped around and pulled out just as we passed. Dangit. Both Eric and I let out an Ahhhh man! and I pull the proof of insurance from the glove box. But then he just cruises along behind us. Never turns on his lights, just checks us out for a while. What the heck? We thought he must have pulled out to chase the guy that sped by us, but then he followed us...? is was very weird and uncomfortable. We were planning to pull off for gas soon anyway, so after being tailed by the cop for a mile or two, we pulled off at a gas station fully expecting him to pull in with us. He didn't though, just kept on cruisin. Weird. Eric started filling up the car and I was getting Wesley up and some trucker came up and started talking to us. "Oh you musta been so scared! I said I bet he's pullin off to go pee! I noticed you got real dark tint on there and it's a new car but I could see yous was white. I thought he was goin after that blue car cuz they were muslim!" We responded with a few, "Yeah that was weird, huh, yep, oh"s but mostly I was thinking that truckers must get so bored. That was probably the most exciting thing he'd seen in a few hours.

Anyway, we made it through Ohio without getting pulled over and came into Pennsylvania. I'd heard that it was a beautiful state, but oh MY! It was definitely the most beautiful state we drove through! The colors were INCREDIBLE! There would be huge patches of bright red, orange, yellow, green, and gold trees and then it would open into a section of rolling hills and grass. There were gorgeous rock faces with trees growing at impossible angles... I can't even describe it. We'll definitely be going back to Pennsylvania. And because we are HUGE fans of The Office, we stopped for dinner in Scranton. :) What a funny place. Mostly funny because we have all sorts of Office associations with it, but it is sorta the perfect setting for the show. Very industrial and acting like it's nicer/cooler than it really is. We had no clue where to eat and we were sick of fast food, so we figured there would be restaurants by the mall. Wellll there weren't. If we had more time I'm sure we could have found something, but we were starving so we just ate at the food court of the SteamTown Mall. hehhehe. Which I must say was terribly unimpressive. It was a fun stop nonetheless.

Back on the road I called to make a reservation at the hotel near our place that we were planning to stay at only to find it was all booked. As were all of the surrounding hotels. Dangit. I whipped out Eric's laptop and starting looking on as we passed into New York. We were getting so close! We were 10 miles from the Connecticut border, Wesley is fast asleep in the back, and I was searching for a hotel room within 20 miles of our new home. Then Eric says, "Oh no." That's never good. What? Then I see the lights in our rearview mirror. For REAL? We got pulled over by a stealth cop.

I honestly had to laugh. We had gone over 2600 miles and had only about 60 to go and we get pulled over. And our story has to sound so ridiculous. We hand the New York cop our Utah driver licenses, Nevada car insurance, on our way to Connecticut. "So we moved from Utah and were temporarily living in Nevada where we bought the car and now we are moving to Connecticut. We couldn't register it in Nevada because we were leaving the state and we couldn't register it in Connecticut because we weren't there yet." The confused cop was gone for a while (too long, it started to make us think he was actually gonna find some way to ticket us) when he came back and said he had been trying to verify the VIN number (basically he was hoping we'd stolen the car) and then just said that we needed to get it registered. 10-4 good buddy. Silly New York. We stopped for gas shortly after that and I went to the bathroom in the most disgusting bathroom of the drive. Ewwwwww. I thought I was going to die of bad smells.

And then finally, CONNECTICUT!! We made it! We actually stayed in a hotel about a mile away from our apartment. When we woke up and went outside in the daylight, we were so happy. It is BEAUTIFUL here! Fall is in full bloom and the colors are gorgeous. I love our apartment and our town. It already feels like home. Honestly though, I don't know how anyone moves and adjusts to a new place without being a member of the church. Wednesday night the Elder's Quorum came and unloaded our entire POD into our apartment in 45 minutes. A member of the Relief Society presidency came and gave me the run down on all the upcoming activities. On Friday I found our church building and met a ton of awesome ladies. Saturday a new friend brought us cookies. Sunday we were invited to dinner. Wednesday I took Wesley to a preschooly type playgroup thing. Friday we went to a birthday party. This place is amazing. Everyone has been so friendly so far and it has been easy to make friends and get to know people. We picked our own apples and took Wesley to a pumpkin patch and corn maze. We've been here less than 2 weeks but it feels like home. This is our place!

*If you made it through all of this, you are either my mom or a real trooper!