Just a tidbit of advice. Business trips should be left only to the individual that is directly involved in the business at hand. Under no circumstances should the spouse and kids agree to tag along for fun. Because people, let me assure you, there is no fun to be had in this situation.
Steve: Hey, I have to go to Portland for a meeting would you like to come along?
Jenny:How many days would you have to work?
Steve: All of them.
Jenny: What would the girls and I do for 3 days?
Steve: Explore Portland.
Jenny: (with warranted hesitation in my voice) Hmmm, I don't know.
Steve: The hotel has an indoor pool.
Jenny: Sure, we'll go.
We planned on leaving 9am on Sunday morning. We knew that would never happen but it's always fun to live in a ridiculous fantasy world every once in a while. Typically we leave 1-2 hours after our proposed time. Our reason for leaving early this time was to be able to get a glimpse of Mt. St. Helens from the observatory. Unfortunately, it was a typical Seattle day of complete overcast and rain so we didn't rush ourselves and we took our time getting out the door. Steve did a little more behind schedule relaxing than the rest of us, he was actually able to squeeze in an entire Pro football game and pull out a pair of pants, underwear and a shirt for me to pack. He was working hard. Everyone (the girls and I) was ready to go, shoes were on, bags were packed. He assured me repeatedly, only 3 more minutes left in the game, which in actual game time lasted a entire 47 minutes! Finally, late afternoon, we were off. We actually had to stop to eat lunch before we even left Kirkland. That's okay because we stopped at Kidd Valley which has enormous super yummy cheeseburgers with real Cheddar cheese instead of plastic American cheese.
Once we actually get on the road everything was going just fine. Kids are watching a Garfield DVD, I am reading my book (no, I do not get car sick, aren't I lucky?). That's when the weekend officially began. The sun began to miracuously peek through the clouds right into my eyes and I reach down to grab my sunglasses, and I just kept right on reaching because they were gone.
Jenny: "Where are my sunglasses, they were right here in the front pocket of my backpack, where are they?"
Steve: "Oh, I thought you knew, they fell out of your backpack into the parking lot as you were getting into the car, I thought you knew."
Are you kidding me? Did you just verbalize that sentence? Why would a person not say anything, why would the assumption automatically be that I have super human hearing that while my children are yelling at me from the back seat, my husband is talking to me, traffic is less than 100 yards away and I am carrying 30 pounds of DVD's, jackets, snacks and toys that I would be able to hear a small pair of $30 plastic sunglasses drop to the pavement in the parking lot?
Im one that gets irritated and annoyed when people state the obvious, but I guarantee, in this instance, I would not have been upset, because whether you realize it now or not, that would not have been stating the obvious! We have since agreed to disagree about this situation.
We pull over into a gas station to use the pay phone because as you might remember my cell phone was sent through the wash, rinse and dry cycles of our washer/dryer in the cargo pocket of Steve's shorts and Steve's cell phone is AWOL. We get new ones this Sunday we are both very excited! I had to beg the clerk not to force me to buy a pack of cheap gum in order to get change and then proceeded to the public phone where I placed my clean cheek on a germ infested handset of a phone at a highway gas station to call the office at our Townhome complex and ask the underpaid nice man answering the phone to go out to the parking spaces next to the garbage can in the dark pouring rain to retrieve my $30 plastic sunglasses which may or may not still be there.
Update: They were still there, crushed into 3 pieces, most likely by our own vehicle as we pulled out of the parking space on our way to our fantastic weekend in Portland.
The rest of the drive was primarily uneventful, we listened to Garfied and Elmo from the back seats and attempted to ignore our children as they made ridiculous requests and comments.
The next day Steve leaves for work and it is my first day in Portland with my girls, what are we going to do? Eat a yummy glamorous continental breakfast downstairs. Mistake. I should have ordered room service. They offered french toast, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, eggs, biscuits, gravy, potatoes, bagels, toast, muffins. My girls want a Micky Mouse pancake. We leave with our bellies filled with the following. Avrie ate ice, Cailin ate 1/4 of a Belgian waffle, and I had the rest of her waffle, cold and some cold potatoes. Avrie cried almost the whole time, and fell out of her highchair once.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Both my kids are sick with colds!
Okay, that didn't go very well. Breakfast buffets are not meant for a mother alone with 2 kids.
Lets try something new. We decide to ride the free streetcar downtown. We found a fun toystore. The kids wandered around forever. Cailin bought 2 stuffed animals with all of her allowance to add to her already ridicuously large collection. But apparently this horse and penguin are different and much better than the ones she already has. What better way to learn about the value of money than by wasting it on crap.
Next we have to go to Whole Foods to buy meds for the kids. Halfway between the toy store and the grocery store Avrie began crying and didn't stop for another 3 hours. The grocery trip involved a scene of myself running frantically around the store screaming Cailin's name with Avrie in the sling and my breast half exposed (Avrie had been nursing in the sling) pushing a completely empty cart around with me for no reason at all. That's when a woman comes walking up from the exact opposite of the store with Cailin in hand. She was in the bakery looking for me. I've almost set the record for how many times in a 6 month period I can lose my 4 year old child for 15 minutes or more. I'm so far on quite a roll.
So, I hurriedly grab our meds, some snacks, my heart in the produce section and my breath in the snack aisle and leave. It's always good to end on a high note.
Unfortunately by this time it is lunch time and I am obligated to feed and nourish my children on a regular basis. Its in the contract.
So, we stop at Baja Fresh. Avrie by this point has discovered the homeopathic meds we bought and is completely obsessed with trying to open them. By the way, she still really hasn't stopped crying. By the time the food is ready the crying has escalated because of her frustration with the twisty contraption the pills are trapped inside of. I whoof down my food at great speeds, shove a chicken taco into the mouth of my compliant 4 year old daughter, look around to make sure there aren't any gypsies around to tempt me. (I could have made a few bucks with Avrie) and made a dash for it to the nearest streetcar to take us to our temp home.
Ahhhhh, a nice dip in the pool and hot tub and once again I am manipulated into thinking this pseudo vacation will be fun.
The next morning breakfast ended with Cailin wanting Lucky Charms (which they dont have) Avrie eating ice and one bite of waffle, Cailin eating again 1/4 of a waffle and I actually ate warm food this time. A little better than the day before.
We decided to take the street car downtown one more time to go to Hannah Anderson, a ridicuously overpriced but cute children's clothes store. Cailin loves to try on clothes (what girl doesn't). It ended in disaster. Avrie cried from the moment we stepped foot into the store. They had toys and a train table but any time I stepped even 3 feet away from her she would dramatically throw herself to the floor, smack her head on the tile and then wail in misery. Happy -happy-joy-joy. We left quickly. Poor Cailin, she is such a good sport.
The next series of events is by far the highlight of my trip.
We jump onto the street car because we have to meet Steve back at the hotel for lunch. Avrie is crying before we even get on but I figure I can distract her or nurse her or cast a magic spell on her. None of the above work. Instead, she actually throws herself onto the nastiness of the floor of the streetcar, refusing to let me even touch her. She just lays there and screams on this crowded public transit street car. People walk over her, around her, almost on her. They pretend like its not happening, some give me a look of disapproval, others offer their condolences with their eyes. It is definitely my crowning glory as a mother. Then I start getting a glare from an irritating older woman sitting behind us who begins to offer annoying moth ball ridden old lady advice.
Irritating old woman: "Do you think she would stop crying if you gave her this rootbeer candy to suck on? Its sweet."
Me: " Sure, it will have immediate effects and shut her right up, and then I will just dislodge it from her windpipe when we reach our destination."
Irritating old woman: "Maybe she is hungry, do you have a bottle?"
Me: "Oh, what a good idea, why didn't I think of that. I thought it would be better and easier if we all just started throwing bits of bread and rotten vegetables at her, she's liable to find it amusing and maybe ingest a little as well."
Irritating old woman: "Have you tried holding her?"
Me: "Oh no, once you hold them that's all they want from you, human contact. I make it a strict policy to only drag my children around by their ankles when we go places."
Irritating old woman: I'll just sit here with my fingers plugged into my ears in an obvious manner while I scowl at this horribly insane mother, maybe that will shut her damn kid up.
Me: Go shove your rootbeer candy up your ass.
About 10 minutes later as the bus cleared of its passengers (total of 20 minutes) the screaming subsided to whining which quieted to moaning and then silence. Yes folks, my beautiful blue eyed, porcelain skinned, blonde hair baby cried herself to sleep sprawled out and face down in public transportation shit.
And that my friends is why the next time someone asks you to accompany them on a business trip, with courage in your eyes and surety in your voice, stand up and say, No, No Thankyou, I think we'll just stay home.
PS. If you ask Cailin what her favorite part of the trip was, she will tell you..."The spinning office chair in the hotel room." Oh, to be 4 again!