Monday, November 17, 2008

And the verdict on the driving trip is...

...I have the best kids in the world.

That's right. I do. It turns out Alex is pretty content in the car and Austin doesn't mind it either -- as long as there's something to do.

As planned, I left at 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, picked Austin up at the sitter's and was on the highway 10 minutes later. The first hour was pretty uneventful. Austin was being chatty and Alex just stared out the window.

Magically, they both fell asleep for the second hour and I got a little lead-footed in hopes of gaining a couple of extra kilometres while they slept.

Austin woke up first and then just before we hit Gananoque (past Kingston), Alex woke up and I decided this was a good as time as any to take a break. Alex was going to need a bottle, Austin was going to need to run off a little energy and I really, really needed to pee.

I found a McDonalds and all three of us did what we needed to do. And nearly an hour later, we all got back into the car. That's right, I said an hour. Roadside stops with two kids sure aren't the same as when Ryan and I could jump out of the car, hit the bathroom, grab coffees or food and be back on the road 13 minutes later.

It was at this point that I turned on my GPS to figure out the directions to my sister's house and discovered that I only had 150 kilometres to go!

The next little while was passed by listening to a mix CD that I had made for the kids. That killed about 45 minutes as we held sing-a-longs to the likes of baa-baa black sheep and Old McDonald. Just like pit stops, the driving mix CD has come a long way from my pre-kids road trips.

I arrived at the 416 to turn up towards Ottawa just as it was starting to get dark and that's around when the kids got fussy. I kept leaning back to give Alex her soother -- which kept her happy -- but with about 60 kilometres to go, Austin declared he wanted to get out and walk. Trying to supress a laugh, I pulled over, hooked up the ipod and handed him an episode of Wonder Pets to watch. He has never before watched TV in the car and the novelty of it did the trick -- he was quiet until we got there.

Exactly 4 hours and 53 minutes after we got on the highway, I pulled into my sister's driveway.

Unfortunately, coming home didn't exactly go as planned. I was going to leave Saturday night -- around bedtime -- and drive straight through until I got home while the kids slept in the back seat. But by 4 p.m. that afternoon, I decided that the weather forecast was looking grim and the thought of driving at night, in snow, while I was tired was enough to make me stay one extra night and hope for the best in the morning.

We left at 9:30 a.m. Alex promptly fell asleep for about half an hour and then was content to play with the toys I handed her but Austin was whiny and restless. Thankfully, a sing-a-long, followed by a steady stream of toys and one episode of Wonder Pets helped him get over it. We made it to the first rest stop past Kingston before pulling over (about 2 hours). We spent the next hour (yup, an hour) getting lunch, eating lunch, hitting the bathroom, changing poopy diapers and running around the playplace at McDonalds (while Alex drank her bottle after lunch).

And amazingly, when we got back in the car, they both fell asleep fairly quickly and for the next hour and a half, I got to listen to my music mix on the ipod. By the time Austin woke up, we were coming up on Whitby. Alex didn't wake up until we pulled into the driveway -- exactly 5 hours after we left my sister's place.

And although I was pretty tired when I got back -- and really needed a break from the kids (which was ok, because after three days of not seeing them, Ryan really wanted to be around them), I think I'd be brave enough to attempt a trip like this again one day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I don't know if I'm crazy, brave or stupid

In about an hour, I'm packing both kids into the car and driving to Ottawa to visit my sister and brother-in-law. And I'm doing it without Ryan.

So that means I have to pay attention to driving and keep the kids happy as well.

I'm leaving at about 1 p.m., in hopes that they'll both nap for part of the time. Although Alex through me for a loop this morning and is currently taking a second morning nap. So much for her going to sleep at 1ish. But Austin is at the sitter's right now, so I'm fairly confident that she's doing a good job of tiring him out for me. In a few minutes I'll wake Alex up so she can have some lunch and we can play for a bit before it's time to get in the car for the four to six hour drive.

For this trip, I'm throwing all my rules out the window. Austin will be allowed to snack on whatever he wants -- so yes, I've packed treats -- and I loaded some kids shows onto the ipod and hooked it up to crappy little speakers so that he can watch TV for part of the time. Ryan and I are both very anti-DVD players in the car, but for this trip, I've made the exception.

I'm just hoping that Alex stays content for most of the trip. She's harder to entertain while driving, because she doesn't watch TV, doesn't snack on anything except mum-mums (and those can get boring) and she's rear facing so it's hard to hand her things to play with.

She'll have her soother whenever she wants -- and I'm keeping extras up front with me for when she rips it off the string and tosses it on the floor where I can't reach. And, as I said, hopefully, she'll sleep for awhile.

And, hence the four to six hour time frame, we'll likely stop at a roadside McDonalds somewhere so Austin can run around and Alex can have a bottle.

So here's hoping. I'll let you know next week if this was a brave idea or a stupid one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things taste different now

You'd think by the time you passed the age of 30, your likes and dislikes when it comes to food would be pretty much set in stone. Either you like a certain food, or you don't. Tastes don't really change after 30 years, do they?

For me, apparently they have -- and I blame (or thank?) pregnancy for these changes.

When I was pregnant with Austin, I suddenly started liking bacon. I never liked bacon. Occasionally, I'd like the smell of bacon cooking but I didn't like the taste of it. Ryan hated and loved this. He hated it because he loves bacon and I wouldn't cook it -- in fact, we rarely kept it in the house. He loved it because of those rare occasions that a sniff of bacon would prompt me to order it when out for breakfast, only to stare at it and tell him to eat it.

I was about 16 weeks pregnant with Austin when this suddenly changed. We were out for breakfast on a Sunday morning following an out-of-town wedding when I decided to order bacon. Ryan, being ever-so-smart, ordered the breakfast sausage, figuring this way he get both. Our breakfasts arrived and I, much to Ryan's dismay, proceeded to eat every scrap of bacon on my plate.

Now, over three years later, I still eat bacon, like bacon and, in fact, have learned how to cook bacon.

Earlier this year, when I was pregnant with Alexandra, I was still eating bacon, but I still did not like any other pork products. Then came Easter.

I was about 35 weeks pregnant and, for Easter dinner, we decided to cook a ham. A real ham, not processed meat ham. And I say we, because we were at the store trying to decide what to get for dinner (because we were having Easter dinner company) when I said, "a ham would be really good tonight".

These were shocking words to Ryan (probably as shocking as the "how hard can it be to make a pumpkin pie words from a few weeks ago) because ham was like bacon to me. I didn't like it. Although, he had seen me eat it to be polite when his mother cooked it -- however, after a few years of taking a tiny piece of ham on my plate and lots of vegetables, I think she figured out that I wasn't a ham fan.

But there I was saying I wanted to cook a ham that night. And we did. And it was REALLY good!
And now, I'll eat ham -- even the processed meat ham.

On the flip side, when I was pregnant with Alexandra, I couldn't stand vinegrette salad dressings and now I'm not a big fan of them anymore. Too bad really, I used to love them.

I blame all of these changes of tastes on pregnancy hormones. I expected to want to eat weird or different things when I was pregnant; but I didn't expect to still be eating (or not eating) those same things post-pregnancy.

On that note, I'm cooking perogies for dinner tonight, with lots of bacon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's official -- I CAN bake

After writing last week about my new-found enjoyment of baking and my strange urge to bake a pumpkin pie, a friend of mine e-mailed me her mom's pie recipe and instructions on how to cook fresh pumpkin.

So, as soon as Halloween was over -- and before I could change my mind or chicken out -- I carved up our spooky pumpkin, cooked it up and pureed the heck out of it. I now have enough pureed pumpkin in my freezer to bake about 5 pies (or other pumpkin treats).

But there was enough for 6 pies. That's right, I baked one for dinner on Saturday. Not only am I crazy enough to follow through with this strange urge, but I did so with the intention of serving it to my inlaws after dinner.

The whole time the pie was baking, Ryan kept joking to his mom that he doesn't know what has come over his wife lately -- me, the woman whose only adventures in baking for the 11 years he's known me has been to open a mix; or better yet, to buy pre-baked goods at the store.

To be honest, I used a frozen pie crust. But to be completely honest, the recipe stated to use a "9-inch frozen pie crust", so really, I did it myself and followed the recipe to a T.

And it came out great. My mother-in-law said so and my husband said so. Although the insecure me knew that they could have been saying that to be polite. But when Austin told me it was good and asked for more, I knew it had to be good.

After all, a two-year-old doesn't know how to lie just to be polite.