Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kids Really Do Ruin Everything. In the Nicest Way.

You'd never guess they could be so destructive!
Tonight was the first night in nearly two years that I saw a movie on opening night..."Rango."  Yes, a children's movie.  With my two oldest children, having dropped the baby into daycare for the evening.  All of which took precision planning.

That, in a nutshell, is exactly how having children changes EVERYTHING.  I haven't seen a movie on opening night in nearly two years.  And certainly not on a whim!

When you and your beloved consider having children, everyone will tell you that having children changes everything.  And you'll tell yourselves that you "get it."  And then you'll tell yourselves that you won't let a kid change you.  You'll think about how having a kid will change things.  What pops to mind first is that you'll have less time, less sleep, and less money. (All are true, by the way.) Then you tell yourselves you'll simply plan things better, train the baby to sleep well, and work a little bit more for some extra money.  Issue solved and next thing you know you're painting the baby room and having a baby shower and pushing a baby out in the hospital.

And then you realize you had it all wrong.  Kids don't just change things.  They pretty much ruin everything.

Less time?  Total understatement.  And completely misleading.  Less time actually translates to spending time doing things you probably wouldn't ever want to do (i.e. cleaning poop off of walls) or doing it at times you wouldn't otherwise even dare to try something (cleaning up kid puke off your own feather pillow at 3:00am).  It also means you will NEVER get to do things on your own chosen schedule.  Forget about hopping in a car with your spouse at 1:00am for a run to IHOP for pancakes.  Or heading out on a romantic weekend at a small boutique hotel like you used to do sans kids.  Or going to a swanky restaurant.  Or just having time as a couple - sitting on the couch watching TV and snuggling.  IHOP becomes "Tuesdays Kids Eat Free" nights; vacations become LEGOland, the zoo, or even some indoor water park in Virginia because they offer (ridiculously expensive) childcare services; swanky restaurants all but have a 'do not bring your drooling/screaming/pooping infant in here' sign.  If you actually find you have time to sit and watch TV and snuggle with your spouse you will inevitably fall asleep within 5 minutes, only to be awoken 10 minutes later by a screaming kid (and then you play the game of 'which one of us is going to admit hearing the kid and get him').

The backseat.  At least they're all sleeping!
Oh, and the car.  My husband and I all but flipped the middle finger up to anyone who mentioned the word 'minivan' to us when we were car shopping last spring.  We were having our third kid - and getting the car WE wanted.  One mid-sized BMW sedan (moonroof! coffee cup warmer! supple leather seats!  sports package!) later, and our kids will be paying for that car for the next three years, and not in money.  We didn't account for the fact that TWO of them would be in safety car seats.  We just peeked in the back and said "yup, they'll fit."  And they do.  Mostly.  To make matters worse, the stroller completely eats up the trunk space (I considered strapping it to the top of the car - so chic!).  And that new car smell? Totally gone within a week - since it was immediately decorated in crushed cheerios, spilled milk, greasy fingerprints, and mashed up crayons, what do you think it smells like?

Even our choice to go to Cairo was heavily influenced by our children.  We carefully weighed the entire bid list of countries, researching schools and living space.  You can NOT just run off to any part of the globe without fully researching the family-friendliness and safety of the area.  [Insert irony of Egypt's recent political instability here.] There are parts of the world in which Jason and I might have considered had we not had children.  But with kids you've got to be a bit more picky.  Now that I think of it, our living in Los Angeles was fully determined by the kids - we literally chose our condo based on:
1. Size (try finding a 3-bedroom place in Manhattan Beach or West LA for under $5K/month)
2. Schools (sorry LA Unified, downtown doesn't cut it, and we couldn't afford private schooling)
3. Laundry facility in-unit (I was NOT going to go to a laundromat to do the laundry for a family of four.  No no no no no).

Jason and I would have adored renting a sweet little loft in downtown LA, but with kids that was never even an option.

In addition to the above, I have compiled a list of things ruined by children.  Please note:  this is not all-inclusive.

*Computer Screens (finger prints)
*Televisions (peanut butter and jellied)
*Actually, all electronic items
*Kitchen cabinets (Owen actually ripped one off the wall when trying to climb it.)
*Personal bathroom time
*Personal sleeping space
*Personal shower time
*Your body (pregnancy x3 = different body than the original model you were sporting)
*Personal grooming items (Toothbrush dropped in toilet.)
*All living space (See photos.  Space no longer has a distinct function.)
*Your cell phone (25 apps on my iPhone don't even belong to me.)
*Any breakable item to which you have a deep and emotional attachment
*Your expensive purse (My Juicy bag has been decorated with markers by Abby.  And boogers.)
*All of your clothing (Think baby spit-up on your shoulder.  And boogers.)
*Your music (Eminem is no longer an acceptable listen in the car with kids in ear-reach.)
*Your car conversations
*Your phone conversations
*Any appliance
*Shopping (There is no such thing as a quick run into the store anymore.)
*Your trip to the hairstylist (I had to drop a place because I took Owen there as a toddler for a haircut.  And the ensuing meltdown --- I literally had to fireman-carry him out while he kicked and screamed --- ensured I was never welcome there again.)

Is it a living room?
Or a video game room?
Or a personal gym?

Or a daycare center?

There is a song by Jonathan Coulton that my husband had me listen to one day.  It's called "You Ruined Everything."  My favorite verse:

"You should know,
How great things were before you
Even so,
They're better still today
Now I can't think who I was before
You ruined everything in the nicest way"

And that, in a nutshell, completely says it all, too.

How could I ever want to give up all those sweet moments with my children?  Of the warm little munchkins crawling into my personal sleeping space for a hug and a snuggle? Of the nighttime tuck-in stories and songs and kisses and hugs.  Of my [still] checking on my 6- and 8-year olds, at night before I go to bed to make sure they're still breathing and to kiss their little cheeks and stroke their hair.

And the crazy kid logic!  Yesterday, Owen (he's 8) was putting gel in hair.  And his statement as to why was:  "Mom.  It's pizza day at school.  I need to look good."

Or of my sweet little Abby who can't simply walk anywhere.  She literally skips through the house, down the street to her friends house, getting out of the car to go to school, through the mall when we're shopping.  She skips and sings.  Loves Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber and Hannah Montanna.  Total cliche of a little girl and I love it.

The special way he lays on my chest
with his head tucked under my chin.
How could I ever even think that things were better before baby Kellen came along and stole my heart and reminded me to slow down and just enjoy sitting on the couch to watch him learn to smile or giggle or blow raspberries.  And that baby smell.  And the little meowing sounds he makes when he eats. And that special way he lays on my chest and presses his head up under my chin.

I now have a complete appreciation for cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, pink sparkly nail polish, Nickelodeon, scooters, the beach (and specifically frolicking in the ocean), swimming pools, iPods, the cat, the dog, tea parties, video games, frogs, lizards, rocks, coloring with markers.  I could go on and on about the day-to-day that I used to take for granted, but the kids marvel in --- and remind me to marvel in.

Living overseas?  There will be lots of time to find places sans kids when they are all grown up and long out of the house.  18 years will pass by in the blink of an eye.  And until then, we'll love traveling as a family - looking at things from the perspective of us (me and Jason) and the kids.  First thing Owen told us when we told him we were moving to Egypt:  "I'm going to ride the Sphinx and climb the Pyramids!  Can we live on the Nile?"  Complete and utter excitement.  None of the "Wow.  Egypt. Are you sure you want to go there?  Why would you leave the U.S.?" that we get from most of the adults we meet.  Not our Owen.  He likens himself to a young Indiana Jones and he wants to explore.

So yes.  Kids really do change everything (ruin it!).  But in the nicest way.

1 comment:

  1. I'd add purses turned into diaper bags. I used to be able to fill a bag with just items for me. Now when I leave the house without the kids and don't need snacks, diapers, sippy cups and toys, I can't even remember what I used to put in my purse to even need one. Great blog entry.