First, we had lunch at a diner where we’ve eaten before and enjoyed the food. Today the food was something close to awful. Cold fries and onion rings, overly-salted meat, a weird chemical-y taste on the chicken tenders. All of which didn’t stop us from having to pay the $40 bill. Bleah.

Then, as I was backing out of my spot in the parking garage, I was distracted and talking to one of the kids and forgot I was parked next to a giant concrete post. You see where this is going, right? I plowed right into the post with my door and knocked the sideview mirror off. There’s a pretty severe dent right under the mirror, about four inches wide from top to bottom. Pretty sure that one will be expensive to fix. But on the bright side, no one was injured and I destroyed no property that didn’t belong to me. And I have learned that when I am in a parking garage, I need to make sure the sun shades on the windows are down. I realized after the accident, when we’d all calmed down and I’d finished a phone conversation with Troy and I went to back out of the spot again, that with the sun shade up, it was dark enough in the parking garage that I couldn’t see the post out that window at all.

Since we were across the street from the store where I needed to pick up a photo order, I went ahead and did that. Then, after I’d carefully checked and re-checked my mirrors and over my shoulders, I reversed slowly out of my parking space and tapped a shopping cart that had rolled right into my path as I was backing up. It made Annalie declare that the day was cursed. (There was no damage to the back of the minivan or the cart, thank goodness.)

Roasted veggies for dinner, plus a chance to work out for the first time in days, an amazing season finale for Castle, and a great nerd twitter party with friends discussing which Hogwarts houses the Avengers, Commander Data and various others would be sorted into redeemed the day, though. Here’s to a less eventful Tuesday.

snazzy new luggage

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might already know that we had a heckuva travel day Tuesday. In fact, our travels didn’t end till the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday.

Things started out fine. Troy made it home from work in plenty of time to get us to the airport on schedule. As we were checking out snazzy new luggage in, we learned that the flight was going to be leaving about 30 minutes late. That was okay, it gave us more time to eat.

Annalie keeping watch for our delayed plane

After grabbing dinner, we went through security and made our way over to the gate. Annalie sat in her usual spot by the windows, watching for our plane to arrive. Another delay was announced. There was terrible weather between DC and Omaha, so we wouldn’t be able to take off for another hour at least. I called my mom and Troy to let them know what was going on. I said a little prayer of thanks that my kids were handling the delays with such aplomb.

weathering the delay nicely

Annalie kept herself busy watching movies on my iPod and playing with her teddy bear. Elliora got a little fussy and I set her on a chair for a minute so I could put the sling on, but she stopped fussing as soon as I put her down and I remembered, Oh, right, this is the kid who actually likes to be put down once in a while. She’s five months old and I am still having to remind myself daily that she is not exactly like Annalie.

Annalie in her nest at the airport

As if to drive that point home, when she did eventually get tired enough that she was ready to sleep, Elliora didn’t want to nurse but she did want to suck on a pacifier. Annalie totally refused all pacifiers till she was a toddler and stopped nursing—at which point she’d sometimes request a pacifier when she was sad or hurt, suck on it for a few minutes, then give it back to me—but Elliora occasionally does want one.

Elliora conked out in the sling

We finally boarded the plane at 11 o’clock, three hours late. If we’d taken off on schedule, we would have been landing in Omaha right about then. Once everyone was on board, the pilot came on and made a rambling announcement about how the weather was affecting planes all over the eastern seaboard and the FAA tends to get cranky when there are so many planes wanting to take off at once so we had to wait a while longer while a bunch of planes took off ahead of us. So we sat there, all buckled up, for another half-hour waiting for our turn at the runway.

Elliora SCREAMED HER LUNGS OUT the entire time we sat there. She didn’t want to nurse or suck a pacifier or my finger, she didn’t want to burp or stand up or play with a toy, she didn’t want to snuggle on my shoulder or look out the window or bounce. I was certain that she was mad that the lights were on in the cabin and that she would settle down as soon as they turned the lights off. I felt like standing up and making an announcement to that effect to all the other passengers, whom I’m sure were listening to her screams and thinking, “Oh, GREAT,” but I didn’t. I just kept going through the cycle of ways to calm her down—nurse pacifier finger burp stand toy snuggle window bounce—and she’d get calm for a second and then realize the lights were still on and scream again.

When they finally let us start taxiing and turned the cabin lights out, she settled down immediately and nursed for about 30 seconds before passing out cold. She stayed asleep for the entire 2.5-hour flight, while we deplaned and walked all the way to meet my parents, while we were picking up our bags, and as we walked outside to the car. She didn’t wake up till I was buckling her into the carseat.

covered with sleeping kids on the plane

It wasn’t exactly fun, all those delays late at night with two kids, but it could have been so much worse. Annalie did a good job keeping herself busy, and Elliora slept for about an hour in the sling. The hardest parts were Elliora screaming for that half-hour, and Annalie feeling a bit airsick during the flight. She never threw up or anything. I think it was just a combination of her being extremely tired and the flight being slightly bumpy. She fell asleep for an hour or so in the middle of the flight and after that she felt better and watched an episode of Chuck on my laptop till we landed. (I asked her which one she wanted to watch, and she said, “A new one.” I asked if she wanted to watch the one (*Spoilers!*) where Ellie and Awesome have their baby and she said, surprised, “They have a baby!?” I laughed and said I guessed it had been a while since she watched Chuck.)

We’ve been taking it easy since we got here, since our whole first day here we were all recovering from being up so late. Today we spent running errands and hanging out with Aurora. It’s nice knowing we’ll be here for almost three weeks and not feeling like we have to rush to fit everyone into our schedule. If you’re in Omaha, we hope to see you soon!

*Post title is a movie quote. Anyone?

I write posts like the last one for two main reasons. First, I get a lot of great parenting ideas from blogs I read, and I figure if I have a decent idea I should pay it forward and share it with others. Second, if I write it down then I’m less likely to forget about it.

It’s ironic (or is it?! I’m always fuzzy on the definition of irony, thanks to Alanis Morissette) that the day after writing a post about how much easier our lives could be if I just remember to be more playful, I am writing a post about how my parenting report card today would be stamped with a great big FAIL.

Today I lost my temper at Annalie over something kind of stupid. She threw a fit over having to leave the house for dinner, then got mad because she had to put on long pants (a fight I have with her EVERY SINGLE DAY, every time we need to leave the house, oh my goodness does this kid ever need to live in Southern California). Then it went even further downhill, probably largely because she was hungry, which was why we were leaving the house to get some dinner.

I was hungry too, and I have the same tendency to be 300% more irritated by life when I’m hungry, so it took a lot of effort for me to stay calm. But by golly, I did. I spent 20 minutes patiently, calmly talking to Annalie. I reminded her she was hungry. I pointed out that 45F isn’t warm enough to go outside in a skirt and tank top. She was not entirely happy but had simmered down and even put on tights and was ready to leave.

And then she changed her mind. I don’t even know exactly what it was, but something set her back to square one and she told me, in that hmmph-so-there voice that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, that she wasn’t leaving the house ever again and I couldn’t make her. Then she laid down on her bed and grabbed the headboard like I was going to have to pry her off.

I saw red. I yelled at her. I pushed her down the hall towards Troy and stomped into my room to count to 100. I rested my forehead on the wall and took deep, shaky breaths. I listened to Annalie wailing, to Troy talking to her, to poor Elliora strapped into the infant seat, crying her head off. I hated myself just a little bit.

I pulled myself together and joined my family. I took Elliora out of the seat and comforted her. I hugged Annalie and asked her how much better she thought I felt now that I’d yelled at her. She said she didn’t know. I told her, “Not better at all. I feel worse. How do you feel?” She admitted she felt worse too. We all calmed down and talked and apologized and forgave. We went to dinner and came home and Annalie went to bed happy and serene while I laid on the couch and nursed Elliora and had a good cry.

I think what’s going on right now, mainly, is that Annalie is dealing with not having me to herself anymore. She is understandably frustrated at having to share my time, and that it often seems like the lion’s share of that is going to Elliora these days. Lately Annalie has been unusually snippy with me and angry at me. I know it’s all part of the process of learning to deal, and I’m glad she is taking it out on me and not the baby (with whom she is unfailingly gentle and loving), but it’s still trying. And today we were both hungry and I was tired and breastfeeding hormones probably played a part and just arrrrrgggghhhh.

On top of that, school has been challenging. I’ve been trying hard for the last month to get back into a routine with school, and Annalie is fighting me every step of the way. For every hour of school we do, I spend easily another hour convincing her. It’s exhausting.

Part of me thinks it’s no big deal. She is in first grade; putting the curriculum on hold and unschooling for another month or so won’t hurt her. We still read books every day, and she reads and writes plenty on her own. We talk about time and dates and prices and measurements every day, in real-life situations at the store, while cooking, while planning a trip. Now that the weather is warming up, and Elliora is a bit older and doesn’t hate the car quite as much, we can start going to the library regularly and hitting the museums again. We can keep plugging away at our year’s curriculum right through summer if we want to. We’re going to start using Time4Learning as a supplement (thanks, Yara!) and I’m hopeful that it will be a good fit for Annalie’s learning style and our needs right now.

[I am a bit apprehensive leaving the negative stuff about homeschooling in this post because I've gotten some pretty negative responses from people about this kind of thing in the past. Please know that I am not saying homeschooling is too hard for us, because I'm not; I'm saying that right now homeschooling is challenging but we are persevering because I want to teach my kids about perseverance and flexibility just as much as I want to teach them how to read and write. If I honestly thought homeschooling wasn't working for us anymore we wouldn't be doing it. It's as simple as that. And I want to be honest about our struggles because if someone else is struggling in their homeschool at least they won't read my blog under the erroneous impression that homeschooling comes easily to everyone else in the world but them.]

On top of everything else Troy’s job is crazy busy right now and he’s basically leaving for work before we get up and getting home just in time to tuck Annalie in at night. As you can imagine this is stressing all of us out for various reasons.

I’m truly okay now. I talked to Troy and my mom and Brenda and Madge. Brenda and Madge both told me that when I lose my temper at my kid, it’s an opportunity for me to help her learn how to deal with anger and angry people, and also a chance to teach her about how even her parents aren’t perfect. (Gasp! Shocking but true.) My mom and Troy both had good ideas for ways to help Annalie learn to deal with her frustration. They all reminded me that things will get easier and I know they are right. I am stretched pretty thin right now, with nursing a baby and homeschooling a first-grader and attempting to keep the house in some kind of order on days that are too cold for Annalie to play outside, and I need to be as kind to myself as I would to anyone else in this situation. So I’m trying.

Sarah commented on the last post that Annalie’s vocabulary is so good for her age that it’s easy to forget she’s just a little kid. I confess I have the same problem sometimes. Annalie is so mature and smart and empathetic in some ways, but in other ways she is still very much six-going-on-seven. I am guilty of expecting too much of her at times. Especially since Elliora was born, I think, since in comparison with a four-month-old Annalie seems impossibly grown-up. But she’s not. She’s still a kid in need of snuggles and silliness and reassurance and guidance and tons of patience and understanding and love. Though really, what adult doesn’t need those things too?

Tomorrow is another day. It might bring more temper tantrums, it might not. Either way, we’ll handle it and I will attempt to remain calm and remember that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances, knowing it will get easier eventually. Or I’ll get stronger in the process. Probably both.

How are you today?