February 13, 2006

How many inches are enough?

Git yer mind outta the gutter. I’m talkin’ SNOW, folks! Yep - we got caught smack dab in the middle of the Big Snow this past weekend while in DC/VA. Let me start the recap by stating that if Normal Olathe Grandma knew what I subjected her precious great-grandson to this past weekend, she would push aside her walker and proceed to KICK MY ASS. Besides the dangers of snow, sleet, Big City traffic, and a smoke-hazed pool hall, I had the audacity to expose him to SUNSHINE and FRESH AIR. Anyway, let me say that like most of my Boyfriends Past, I went into this trip with low expectations and high hopes. However, this time I wasn’t disappointed! Except for two meltdowns, the weekend went very smoothly.

The Going: The trip out there was pretty uneventful. I packed only to the extent of what I could physically carry but gratefully accepted help along the way. The hardest part was getting in and out of the shuttle bus - the steps were too steep to navigate as I was loaded down like a pack mule - literally. I had Arun in the Baby Bjorn on my chest, the diaper backpack on my back, the travel stroller on my shoulder all while I dragged the suitcase with the carseat slung onto it. Let me state this right now - I absolutely could not have traveled without the Baby Bjorn and the Combi Travel Stroller - they proved to be invaluable in my being able to accomplish this trip by myself without X. Anyway, I got to the airport, boarded the plane and waited for the lottery to begin. Except this was the Shirley Jackson version where the “winner” was going to have to sit next to The Dreaded Baby. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner, folks! As the Ice Queen took her seat, I feared it was going to be a long ride. Fortunately, she ended up hightailing it to the nearest empty seat as soon as the plane was done ascending. Arun fussed a little in the beginning, then settled down for a nap. He woke up towards the end of the flight, nursed a bit, then fell asleep during the landing. That’s my boy.

Burn, Baby, Burn: When I arrived in DC, I picked up the rental car and immediately headed out to Fairfax - I was meeting X there so that we could drive to Sterling together for a company-related function. We arrived at the function and it was a POOL HALL. A SMOKE filled one, to boot. I quickly determined that since I survived my own smoke laden childhood, that Arun would probably be okay for one night. It was a fun night, I enjoy hanging out with the people that work for X’s company and it was good to finally meet some of the newly hired Virginian contingent as well. I had an interesting conversation - one of the gals was going on and on about how the company was such a good fit for her, she was so happy, it was so fortunate that “they” found each other. My Bullshit Detector was going through the roof because I had it on “good authority” (cough, cough) that she wasn’t necessarily that happy. THEN, I realized with a start that she was maybe giving me this song and dance because I am the president’s wife. Sadly, all these years I have bitched and moaned about working for The Man and then I ended up marrying someone ELSE’s Man. Anyway, the night was a good one. I noticed something else a bit odd, though. The Indians are fascinated with Arun. You see, our little half-breed is really a pretty good mix of American and Indian - he doesn’t clearly favor certain features over another, so to the Indians, our little guy is unusual, too. While Americans adore the hair, the Indians admire the fair skin. Anyway, the odd thing is, they kept taking pictures of THEMSELVES with him. I wasn’t sure what to think about that. I think I held Arun a total of about 10 minutes the entire evening because everyone else kept taking turns.

The House: Friday was “my day” where I could do anything I wanted. I decided to head down to Mt. Vernon to see George Washington’s house. I am not a particular fan of his, but since I enjoy touring houses, it seemed the trip was in order. The ride down was no problem and was quite fun. I quickly found out that Mt. Vernon is much, much more than just a house, but an ESTATE with various outbuildings, graves, gardens, etc. Luckily, it was a gorgeous day - although it was slightly chilly, the sun was out. I bundled up Arun and we walked around. While he slept in the stroller, I toured the grounds. When he woke up, we toured the house since strollers weren’t allowed in the house. I am really glad I made the hike down to Mt. Vernon - it was great to walk around outside and enjoy the fresh air. Also, since it was February, there was virtually no one else there - there were more guides than tourists. I toured the house with one couple and there was only one couple ahead of us and one couple behind us. Also, I LOVE driving around in new places, so it was also really cool to drive someplace entirely new. In fact, on the way back to Fairfax, I decided to try another route that I had passed by on my way down. This sort of turned out to be a mistake. Luckily, my motto about getting lost on Vacations is “Great! Now, I get to see more than originally planned.” (conversely, my motto about getting lost while driving for Work is “Great! Now, I’m royally fucked.”). At one point it became obvious that I had missed a desperately needed exit, but the latent Blue Bird in me wouldn’t take an illegal u-turn, so I drove a good 4 miles out of the way. But hey, I was on VACATION, so it didn’t matter.

Scream: Friday night, we went to our friend’s house in Herndon - J & L's. They were going to be watching Arun for us while we went to the Fancy Hoedown the next evening, so it seemed important that oh, maybe Arun would get to get to MEET them first so that we weren’t just randomly dumping him off and hightailing it out of there. The evening went okay - they just had their 3rd baby in December, so they were definitely qualified for the job. Also, they are an incredibly fun couple to hang out with. The problem is that Arun decided this was his big opportunity to work those lungs out and SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. It is so rare that he is inconsolable that when he gets like that I am CLUELESS. I had no idea what to do. Boobage? No. Diaper change? No. Rocking? No. Walking? No. Toy? No. Leaving? YES.

Scream, Part Deaux:The screaming commenced in time for my much-anticipated meeting in D.C. with Amalah.....sigh...... Fortunately, if anyone is going to understand the Screaming, it would be someone who has a child that is a mere 2 weeks older than yours. I barely got in two bites of my delicious government-controlled pizza - a Neapolitan slice of heaven which served to show that sometimes bureaucracy can be a GOOD thing. Unfortunately, Arun was just miserable and I was just clueless. I guess I should be grateful that he is not usually like that, but DAMN, I wish he would time those episodes according to MY schedule. He’s so “Me, me, ME” sometimes - little ingrate. Anyway, it was lovely to meet Amy - she is far more interesting than she gives herself credit for. Furthermore, she is so genuinely humble about her blog’s success that it is downright ridiculous the Trolls seem to think otherwise. I can also report that Noah has just as much personality as his pictures would indicate! What a cutie - the pictures don’t really convey how expressive he is! I was sad that Arun and I had to shoot out of there so quickly, but it was for the best. Arun was asleep before we even hit the Beltway, so I guess he was tired. D’oh!

The Slap: After lunch with Amy, but before the Fancy Hoedown, X and I had another social obligation - to visit one of his business associates and his wife - K and L. This required driving to fucking ASHBURN just as the big blizzard was setting in. K and L are very nice, but can I just say their parenting style is so very different than what I am used to? I can’t really claim to have a parenting style yet since all I do thus far is feed and diaper my own kid, but I am used to my own sister’s strict sense of discipline and dear God, I am spoiled. In short, their little 4 year old girl was very jealous of Arun and kept slapping him whenever her mother would try to hold him. L would just say “no, no” in a sweet sing-song voice. GRRR.... Okay.......1) I had the strong urge to slap the little girl MYSELF - which OF COURSE, I know is WRONG and I would never, EVER act out on the urge, but I couldn’t help feeling FURIOUS as I watched someone HIT MY KID, so sue me......... and 2) if ARUN ever tries to pull that sort of bullshit when HE gets older, I won’t be hesitating to make him STOP it and understand in no uncertain terms that is UNACCEPTABLE behavior. No sirree, a sing song “No, no” won’t cut it. Also, a very odd thing happened while we there - if you are a guy, just skip this section and continue on to the next one.................. Okay, while I was nursing Arun, I put my breast pad on the couch arm (yes, 4 months into this nursing thing and I still leak more than a White House Chief of Staff). When I was done nursing Arun, the pad was GONE. GONE!!! NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. I looked everywhere. In short, I think the little girl TOOK IT. Talk about awkward, I couldn’t go as far to accuse her of taking it, but man, I was pissed. K and L are a very nice couple, but honestly, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck outta there.

The BIG House: So, after the K and L fiasco in Ashburn, we drive all the way back to Fairfax, furiously get dressed for the Fancy Hoedown, THEN drive to Herndon. All while it is SNOWING. We drop Arun off, hoping fervently that the Screaming is over and done. We then drive to Great Falls for the fancy-smancy Valentine’s Day party. Oh my - it did not disappoint, either. Folks, if you hire a COAT CHECK GIRL for your party, you might be a Richboy. If you hire not one, but TWO bartenders, you might be a Richboy. If you hire a professional caterer and provide a special bar for CHOCOLATE, you might be a Richboy. If you have an entire ROOM to house your collection of 1300+ wines, you might be a Richboy. Finally, if you have enough space for a dance floor AND professional DJ, you might be a Richboy. That said, it was actually a fun party! I have always maintained that while I am fascinated by money, I am not necessarily impressed by it. After all, Money a personality does not make. However, our hosts were interesting people and their house reflected that. It was a beautiful home, but not a museum, either. So, we had a great time, met some interesting people and sampled some delicious wine. And then, drove back to Herndon, which leads us to.............

Snow, Glorious Snow: Let’s just say that this born and bred Midwesterner has always wanted to see a classic Nor'easter. I was not disappointed, either. It was absolutely beautiful with huge, fluffy flakes of snow. After growing up with the classic “Ice and Snow” combo that we in Kansas usually experience, it was very cool to just only deal with Snow. Furthermore, people in the East don’t freak out over snow - in Kansas, we flock to the grocery store at the first flake.

The Going: So, Sunday I packed everything up again - all 45+ lbs of it. That meant I was carrying a good 60+ lbs by the time you factor in the kid. I was flying Midwest and believe you me, I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt when I enjoyed their scrumptious cookies because I knew I would work off every last calorie. The trip home was uneventful, Arun slept the whole way in the Baby Bjorn which left me hands free to plow my way through both the latest issues of US and People. My packing mantra of ”Less is Less” defintely held true, even with a kid. He had one clean outfit left but still had 10 diapers to spare - so I need to work on that calculation. So in conclusion, while traveling with a kid was more stressful, it wasn’t that bad. The trick is to not pack too much and tack on extra time for EVERYTHING. Besides, it was fun to get him out and about to see his big ole bug eyes get REALLY bugged out at all the new sights and sounds. Definitely can’t wait to get out again. Baby needs a new pair of shoes, so Vegas is our next destination - hopefully in March.


Baby’s First Tourist Destination

Not only did I breastfeed my kid on George Washington’s East Front Lawn, I also changed his diaper there. Very, very cool.

As you can see, he was very impressed.

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