Monday, January 28, 2013

Hit the Spot

One thing I’ve struggled with for a long time (i.e. my whole life) is getting places on time. It’s not a disrespect thing, as people often say about others who are often late, but rather it’s an “I always forget two things in the house when it’s time to leave” thing and have to go back in to retrieve them. It's the perfect combination of ADD and OCD, if there is such a thing.

So when we received the invitation in the mail for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah across the country, two things came to mind:

1)      I was excited for the Little & Littler Dudes to play with their cousins
2)      I didn’t know how we’d make it to LAX with enough time to catch our flight

For most people, it probably wouldn’t be a problem. But this was our first trip with two kids and all of the accoutrement they require. Mrs. Dude is an expert trip preparer, but there was still the variable logistics of actually executing the gameplan.  

Having lived in LA for 13+ years, I’ve flown back to Ohio countless times over that period and almost always taken a nonstop morning flight around 11:00am. For some reason the airline (whose name rhymes with Shmunited) discontinued that flight for the two-week period which just so happened to coincide with our trip. Not sure why, but presumably they wanted to ensure this trip was even more fun for us by forcing us to stop and change planes en route.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:57am and we live almost 30 minutes from LAX. In most cities, that would be a 30-40 minute trip. In LA it can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and no, I’m not exaggerating. Knowing we had to drop our bags at least 45 minutes before departure, we had to be at the ticket counter by 9:12am. I figured leaving the house at 7:00am would give us plenty of time to do the following:

1)      Drive the 30 miles
2)      Park the car
3)      Unpack the car, carseats and kids and transfer them all to the shuttle
4)      Get on shuttle to airport and hope they drive fast
5)      Unload bags from shuttle
6)      Get the bags inside and drop them at the counter
7)      Get through security
8)      Make it to gate before they close the plane’s door

Naturally we forgot a couple things and didn’t end up leaving until 7:30am. The race was on. Though I’ve performed this jig many times, it never gets any less stressful and this time the stakes were higher than ever. If we missed our flight, we were really screwed. The diapers were packed.

After some careful maneuvering, we pulled into The Parking Spot at 8:42am. I'd seen their big spotted shuttles for many years, but had never tried them and now I was putting their service to the test. We had exactly half an hour to get inside the terminal with all our stuff. I knew that the only option in such a time crunch was to valet the car. We pulled into the valet area and an attendant jumped to help us get everything out of the car. When I opened the rear hatch of my SUV, her eyes popped and she quickly grabbed a hotel-style luggage cart and started pulling everything out. Within a minute or so our suitcases, car seats and carry-ons were all stacked Jenga-style on the cart. Thirty seconds later she and the driver had loaded them onto the shuttle.

This is when the trip got exciting for the Little Dude and nerve wracking for me. He was enamored by the shuttle bus. He went and took a seat in the very back of the crowded shuttle and excitedly looked around and out the windows before shouting “let’s go!” as though he was ready to kickstart a horse. Mrs. Dude held the Littler Dude and I watched as his 3-year-old brother made friends with the businessmen who were leisurely headed to their flights, both literally and figuratively baggage-free. 

As the shuttle rolled into LAX, the Little Dude repeatedly exclaimed “this is fun!”. Watching him glow made it fun for me, bringing my stress level down quite a bit. As Prince’s Darling Nikki played on the shuttle’s stereo, we made our trip around the oval LAX upper concourse to our terminal. 

We pulled up, the last stop, naturally, and the driver helped us disembark faster than a psychic on the Titanic. As we juggled our suitcases, kids and carry-ons, we made it to the ticket counter with 9 minutes to spare and dropped our bags with a deep exhale.  Mission accomplished. 

NOTE: I was given free parking at The Parking Spot and wrote this post because they saved me from having to walk 2,000 miles. All opinions expressed within are entirely mine, for better or worse. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Two-Line Tuesday: Sticker Sleep

Wow, these stickers are exhausting!

How would you caption this picture?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sleeping Ugly

The cliché of overly exhausted parents is as exhausted as much as it is true. But even though I’ve been a parent for over three years, I never really believed it until a few months ago.

When I started this blog 18 months ago I had a much simpler life with just one child. At that time, the Little Dude was a happy 20-month-old who napped regularly, ate fussily (though not fusilli) and gave me lots of entertainment to write about. For more than a year, that stayed constant. 
The Little Dude in his favorite nap location.
Since The Littler Dude’s arrival, however, Mrs. Dude and I have struggled to figure out a regular schedule for ourselves and our family.  I think part of that stems from my biggest gaffe (so far) as a parent of two kids: I expected #2 to be just like #1 was.  But that’s not how it usually works out, just ask Pippa Middleton's parents. 

Throughout Mrs. Dude’s second pregnancy, countless people told us “having two kids is easier than having one”.  That’s absolutely ridiculous, unless you have full-time help, in which case someone else is likely doing much of the heavy lifting for you. Four months later, I’d like to reconnect with those nosy strangers again and kick them in the shins. There’s absolutely no way what they said is true.

The Little Dude was an amazing sleeper who was sleeping soundly through the night after about a week. No joke. His brother, not so much. After 15 weeks he is finally getting into a routine consisting of waking up once during the night to feed in the midst of a 10-11 hour stretch, which most parents of newborns would consider spectacular.  To us, it’s created an unprecedented level of exhaustion that we are still figuring out how to caffeinate our way out of.  

One key difference between having one kid and two is that with the first one you have the freedom to allow him to get into a routine. Three years ago the Little Dude’s schedule was so locked in that you could set your TiVo by it:

Wake up in the morning > Eat > 3 hour nap > Wake up > Eat > 3 hour nap > Wake up > Eat > Bath >  Sleep for 12 hours, then rinse and repeat.

Now, with #2, we make sure he’s changed and fed, then throw him in the car to take his older brother where he needs to be. Naps are few and far between. The Littler Dude naps well in the car so he takes a lot of 20 minute snoozes throughout the day, which most adults would kill for, but are not nearly enough to quench a baby’s thirst for longer stretches in dreamland.  He doesn’t know any better or have higher expectations, so he has no clue about how his brother lived before him.  But as a parent it can be hard to watch an obviously tired infant who only wants to crash for an hour or two get schlepped through Target, to preschool pickup and then the bank while his eyelids quiver toward sleepyville.  
The Littler Dude in his frequent nap spot. 
For a variety of reasons, our living situation has changed since the boys were born. In our current circumstance, they will soon have to share a room. I never shared a room with anyone until college (and I hated that) so it’s a foreign concept to me. I’ve delayed moving him into his big brother’s room partially out of fear that they will cannibalize each other’s sleep by waking each other up during the night. If that happens, our entire infrastructure will collapse faster than a treehouse full of Biggest Loser contestants.  

So what can I do to rectify this whole situation? Though I don’t like it, I’ve gotten used to operating on about 5 hours of sleep per night over the last few months after averaging 8 during the previous 3 years.  I know this situation is only temporary, but until The Littler Dude starts making it through the night I think there may be really only one good solution. Earplugs.

How did you deal with kids' sleeping issues? Any tips? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two-Line Tuesday: Guitar

Hey Roadie,
Crank this thing up to 11 for me! 

How would you caption this picture?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Two-Line Tuesday: Kong

Hurry up, Kong! 
I think they're gaining on us...

How would you caption this picture?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rockin' Friday: Dixie Chicken

As I'm trying to get back into the swing of my regular blogging schedule, I had some trouble coming up with a song for the first Rockin' Friday tune of 2013. Then this morning a friend of mine mentioned a concert he was going to tonight and a certain song has been stuck in my head all freakin' day. Thanks, Rick.

With a unique blend of Southern Rock and Disco Funk, Dixie Chicken is Little Feat's signature song. First recorded in 1973, this song features an expanded lineup for the band and an almost-Zydeco type groove. Also Bonnie Raitt and Bonnie Bramlett sang backup vocals, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Check out this smokin' version of Dixie Chicken, which is putting me in the mood for some late night fried chicken, featuring the previously mentioned Ms. Raitt and Emmylou Harris on backup vocals. Beyond the great tune, the video is worth watching to check out the epic overalls worn by the conga player.

What's your favorite Little Feat tune?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Two-Line Tuesday: New Years Day

Yes, I'm having a ball.
You got a problem with that?

How would you caption this pic?

Happy New Year!!