Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Traveling with a Toddler

I thought I had a brilliant idea.

It turned out to be a crazy idea.

My friend, Amanda, is currently living in Chicago.  She is moving to Miami at the end of August.  Chicago is "just a few hours drive" and Miami is way to far away.  So, my "brilliant" idea was to visit her before she moved away.  Her husband, Drew was gone last week, posing the perfect opportunity to get some quality time in.  It also helped because they have a studio apartment, and there was some more space with him gone. 

So, I decided to pack up myself and Cooper and drive 7-8 hours to Chicago for 4-5 days.

Then I realized that I could stop in Indianapolis and see my friend, Erin on the way up.  

Last Sunday Cooper and I hopped in the car and headed out.  We drove to Indy Sunday, spent the night there, then drove to Chicago Monday, where we stayed until Friday morning.  There are many fun memories I will share later, but for now, let's just focus on some things I learned while traveling for a week, by myself, with a 2 year old.

1) Younger than 2 1/2 would not be good to drive that far by yourself. Cooper is at the age where he can tell me what he needs/wants, can keep himself entertained with a toy, book, or movie, and understands me when I tell him things like "hold on, we'll be there soon".  Things that helped: DVD player, snacks, drinks, books, and some toys.  I have a  bag next to his seat where the toys and movies are contained.  The cup holder in the middle was reachable for him, so I didn't have to keep reaching back when he wanted a drink.  Snacks were in a baggie or container.  Know that your car will be a mess at the end of the drive.  Guaranteed. 

2) Be prepared when a child with "only child syndrome" is around 2 girls that are younger than him.  First of all, there is a big difference between boys and girls in general.  Boys, especially Cooper, are loud, loud, and louder.  Boys don't sit still.  Boys aren't always very sensitive.  Girls (especially the ones we were with) were more quiet, content to sit, and sensitive.  There were moments those personalities clashed.  Cooper didn't like it when the girls would cry, and he would tell, or yell at them, to be quiet.  Which, for a sensitive girl soul, did nothing but make make them cry more. 

3) Be prepared for anything, resulting in flexibility.  Rain, shine, cold, hot....sickness.  Yep, Cooper threw up during the middle of our trip. This sickness cancelled some fun plans.  One was a plan to "hangout" with my girls.  So, be prepared to cancel plans to hold your child and do several loads of laundry.  It also rained when we went to the zoo.  Mix that with them being so over everything from the week, and you have a shortened zoo trip, seeing only a few things, and leaving before both kids and moms lost it completely.

4) When traveling with young children, slow the pace down.  Amanda and I packed our days.  We realized Thursday (we left friday morning) that we should have planned some down time.  The kids needed the time just to chill at the apartment. 

5) When you are without the help of a husband or babysitter, just a couple of days is sufficient.  It's hard on any mom to be by herself with a toddler day to day.  Combine that with being somewhere new and you have the perfect storm.  The kids are on edge, and screaming (literally) for normalcy.  And the moms get edgy, too.  Amanda and I listened one night as Cooper and Addi had a screaming fight before bed.  They egged each other on, and we ended up separating them completely and rocking/patting them to sleep that night.  If we had just stuck to a couple of days, it would have ended much more pleasantly.

6) Enjoy every single moment.  I know this blog post highlighted some of the rougher moments, but it really was such a great trip.  And I will look back on the trip with love and laughter.  I will look back and laugh at all the ways I had to learn the five things mentioned above.  And I will look back with love of the time I got to spend with Erin & her family, and Amanda & Addison.  I don't regret for a minute my decision.  However, next time I have a "brilliant" idea, I'll adjust some things a little.

Here are some pictures that show you the rough parts of the trip.  
The kids' faces say it all.

How's that for my 100th blog post??

Maybe for number 101, I'll post the fun things?!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Photo Dump: We're on our way!

Cooper and I are on our way to visit some friends.

Tonight I'm staying with my friend, Erin, and her family in Indianapolis.  I realized the other day that I haven't seen her in 2 years.  So excited to see her, her husband, and meet her daughter.

Then Monday Cooper and I will drive on up to Chicago and stay with my friend, Amanda.  It has been almost a year since I've seen her.  I'm excited to have her sit as close to me as humanly possible, to play with her and Addi, and to see Chicago!

Last week I got bangs, and a big george foreman grill.

Cooper sat in a high chair again, smelled some flowers, and played with friends.

My next post will be a big one: it will be my 100th!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Freeze Frame: July

Each month I will write down moments I want to "freeze", or remember forever about Cooper.  I know that there are so many little things I will forget one day.  But maybe by me having them on here I will be able to one day look back and get all emotional while I look back at pictures and special memories. I will probably laugh, and smile, and shed some tears wondering how in the world I forgot so much about Cooper.

So I've decided to dedicate some posts on this blog to some things I want to remember about Cooper, but most likely will one day.  I've decided to call it Freeze Frame, highlighting some moments with Cooper I'd love to freeze forever.

This month I would freeze:

The way Cooper says his "V"s.  He says them with the B sound.  DVD is DBD. Vroom is broom. Funny thing: vacuum is with the G sound...."gacuum"

When Cooper sings "Jesus loves the little children" he sings, "they are precious in the sun" instead of they are precious in his sight.

The way Cooper holds up his hands and claps when he has done something.  He makes the absolute cutest face...he is so proud of himself.

When we play pat-a-cake, Cooper loves the "roll it" part.  And he makes the cutest little half smile and moves his hands in such a funny way when he does it.

Cooper has started calling monkey "monk" for short. LOVE it.

I found a new ticklish spot.  It's between his armpit and elbow on the underside of his arm.

He loves to play hide and seek.  His hiding spot is usually in a wide open space.

He runs from one house to the other, chanting, "go, cooper, go!"

This week he told me for the first time ever that it would be ok if mommy and daddy had another baby. When I asked him what we should name it, he said, "twinkle".  (no, I'm not pregnant).

Cooper loves himself.  He watches himself in the mirror, wants everyone to look at him, and has started asking me to take pictures of him.  He then looks through the pictures of himself like he's famous.  And he only likes the pictures of himself.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I am very much a people person.  I love getting to know people, being around people, having fun with people.  But I am also a person who loves quiet time.  Time to myself rejuvenates me. 

In high school I conveniently lived next to the best place to get away, be alone, and have time to reflect: the beach. Thanks for moving us a short distance to the beach, mom & dad! I would go to the beach often by myself.  I loved watching the sunsets, the birds, the people.  I loved the sound of the waves.  I loved the feel of the sand beneath my feet.  It was my place of retreat, where I went when I needed to reflect and have some quiet time with just me and God.  

Time changes things.  Because now when I want to go be by myself, I have a husband and a son to consider first.  So, my times of solitude are few and far between now.  It is my dream that one evening Andrew will come and say, "hey, why don't you just head to target for the next 4 hours and have a blast." Because Target has been my retreat for the past several years.  I could go there and just wander up and down the isles for hours.  It's not the same with a toddler in tow, who asks to go to the bathroom just when you find an excellent clearance rack.  Target is also not the best place to retreat when you are living on a tight budget.  Living in Ohio has me 30 minutes from the nearest Target.  So, I go maybe once a month.  (We went tonight, and I actually said to Andrew, "it's weird coming to target and having everything different.  Before, when we lived in Fl, I would be in here every other day and knew every item that was in the store.  Now, because we come so infrequently, things are completely different every time I come here.") 

Hi, I'm Chandra, and I'm addicted to Target.

I have completely diverted from my story.

The past few weeks I have had no time to myself.  The last time I have gone somewhere by myself was probably in May.  Go look at your calendar.  That was two months ago.  And the moments I've had to myself since then are pretty much when I'm in the bathroom.  And even then I have a two year old coming in and making lots of noise.  I now know why my father always said, "I just want to pee and poop in peace." Sorry, dad.  I totally get it now.  

My moments of "always with someone else" came to a head yesterday.  Every little thing Cooper did drove me crazy.  His disobedience was magnified in my mind.  I was on edge.  I was almost in tears when I told Andrew, "I need a break.  I need some time to myself. I know you are busy, but there is no way I can be the mom Cooper needs or the wife you need if I don't have time to myself this weekend."

Since the beach is a very long way away, and since Target was not in my time frame this morning, I had to do something different.  I grabbed a blanket, my bible, my journal, a pen, some water, and I walked until I found what I thought could be my new spot for retreating.  I walked by a couple of spots until I found this perfect spot.  Enough away from the road where I heard no cars.  Right under a tree.  Overlooking a beautiful fairway of a golf course.

On my way to this spot I heard birds chirping in the silence of the morning.  I saw wildflowers and kittens.  I felt the cool morning air.  I sat down I started contemplating these things and began journaling my praise to God for his awesome creation.  

As I'm in the middle of my praises,  from the fairway I hear a loud, "Oh, shit!" 

While I was praising away, the golfers were starting to make their way down the fairway.  Apparently one of them had a bad shot, I guess.

I laughed.  A lot.

So much for my place of "solitude".  There were many a golfer this morning.  And there were many ants.  But it was a retreat for me.  I had a full hour, just me and God, and I came away refreshed. 

As I look back at this post, all I can think is, "whoa, baby...I shouldn't write late at night anymore...so many jumbled thoughts."

Good night.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Photo Dump: We were tourists for a Week

Last week was one of the best we've had in a long time.  We had the awesome blessing of friends from Florida being in our presence here in Ohio. 

Cooper at the airport waiting on Tyler. Tyler sent Cooper a package that arrived before he flew in.  I told Cooper he couldn't open it until Tyler was here.  So the morning we went to pick Tyler up, I told Cooper we were going to the airport to get Tyler.  He responded with, "I can open my gift?" 

I like to call this picture Boys in Bushes. We visited Jeff and Allison in Pittsburgh. It's so great having them close to us again.  Knowing they are just a drive away when we need their familiar faces is such a good feeling.  It was fun (and stressful on my part) to watch cooper and judah together.  Judah loved Cooper and wanted to follow him around.  Cooper wanted nothing to do with it.  It caused a couple minutes of drama. 

Cooper went for a swim in their pool. His face here cracks me up because the water was really cold. 

Cooper got a card in the mail fom nana and grampsy. There was a dollar in it and he loved it. He decided he wanted to spend his dollar on a toy. 

We went to Hershberger farms. Cooper got to ride a buggy, a pony, and feed the animals. Here he is petting some baby goats.  He knows all about goats thanks to cousin Carrie.

We hired a sitter and had "adults night out".  This isn't the best picture, but it has all four of them in it.  Kind of.

It was so nice to be with Melissa.  We were able to have some girl talk and evaluate and encourage each other in our marriages and parenting.  This year I'm learning what lasting friendships are really like.  Thanks for being one of those friends, Melissa.

We hit up amish country.  Where else can you find this kind of watermelon fudge?

The 4th of July we went on a boat and it wore. the. kids. out.  When we realized they were both sleeping, there was a round of celebration in the car.  How did we celebrate? Ice cream cones for everyone!

We got to dress up Cooper in a very cute hat. 

Even though we dress him up,  it doesn't mean we can take him out. 
Cause he makes crazy faces like this.
And wears his hat to the side.

After Tim & Melissa left we went to Cleveland for the Indians game vs. TB RAYS.

We dressed in our rays gear (thans, Aaron!) and had a blast.  We sat right in front of a famous fan.  He played a drum in the outfield.  It was kind of weird to be around a bunch of people who were not rays fans.  But, the Rays won 10-3, so we didn't feel too bad.  I think that might be an annual game we go to.

Because we did so much while our friends were in town we have been slowing things down a bit.  As seen here by Cooper reading.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This morning's devotion struck a nerve with me, and I wanted to share with moms out there.

Whether you are at home every day, all day, or whether you are working and trying to find that balance, (I have done both, and both are hard) I hope this helps you today.  I hope you find inspiration in it.

I know your days are busy, your lists are long, but I hope you can set out every day to finish a few things fully.

In chapter 9 of Esther, we see what happens when the Jews get to defend themselves.  They kill 500 men.  When the king reports back to Esther how many were killed that day, he asked her if she had another request.  Really? Cause 500 men isn't enough? Apparently it wasn't enough to finish well, because Esther requested that the Jews be granted to defend themselves one more day.  And the next day 300 more were killed.  Esther finished fully.  She was put in her position for such a time as that (Esther 4:14).

Would you have been as bold as Esther? I know that I probably would have weakened in my mission.  If the king had asked me, I would have just said, "no, we're good with the 500".

The question is what missions in my life have weakened.  What are the purposes in life that God has led me to fight for?  What purposes has he led you to fight for?

My answers: my marriage, Cooper's heart for God, and a great home environment.

How are you faithfully following through and finishing fully those purposes?  What can you do better to finish fully this week, or today even?

We may never be called to stand before a king....but we'll be called to stand before THE KING.

We'll probably never be the kingpin in a tactical movement to save God's people....but we may well be the kingpin in a tactical movement to dispense God's word to the little ones He's blessed us with so that they might evener into salvation (2Tim 3:15).

We'll probably never be called upon to live in a palace...but we are called upon to turn the place we live into a "palace" for our dear family.

The list of our challenges to daily faithfulness is endless.  Seek God's heart, and in your present situation, whatever it may be, cultivate a devotion to duty, a strong definition of purpose, and look to the Lord for His help in the discipline of self (which is my biggest struggle).

*This post is a mix of my thoughts, and excerpts from a devotion study on the book of Esther, Becoming a Woman of Beauty and Strength, by Elizabeth George.*