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Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Family Travel Nearly Did Me In - A Short Saga (With Pictures)

I know, I was doing so well, and then I fell off of the face of the Earth for a few days. That totally wasn't my fault. Hunny had a job out of town, and made it seem like a good idea if I went with him. Normally I really enjoy the fact that we homeschool and I can do this, so I agreed. We even rented a little cabin in the country so that we could take our new (6 year-old-child-sized) puppy Mr. Harrelson with us. Although we've never done so with a dog in tow before, we've stayed in cabins before. It's a nice change of pace from hotels, where the small terrorists kids get super bored and seem to have no comprehension of the concept that there are people, above, below, and on either side of us, and that acting like wild monkeys is a really bad idea. By comparison, an isolated cabin in the wilderness is like a balm to the soul. The only reason I find to tell them they need to be quiet is if my ears start bleeding, because there's no one else around to hear them. Of course, there's also no internet connection. But, even that is a delightful break sometimes.
I have such fond memories of our last stay at a cabin that we rented. Again, there was no internet access, but it was such an adorable log cabin, butted up against a hill, and it wasn't “camping” by any stretch of the imagination. The cabin had well water, but hot showers, air conditioning, heck, it even had a dishwasher, and a hot tub. There was a fishing lake on the property that, although it rained, the boys and I walked to and fished in. A tiny stream ran right next to the cabin, and made the perfect place for Eggy to attempt to catch frogs, salamanders, and crawdads (you might call them crayfish, but I grew up in rural WV and we called them crawdads.) I had coffee on the front porch every morning while I chatted with my mom on my cell phone. I brought copies of the kids' schoolwork with us, and the kids sat at the little kitchen table each morning and completed their assignments for the day. It was actually a really fun and memorable trip, so it's little wonder that I so quickly agreed to the idea of going again.
See how awesome the last cabin trip was?  There they are doing some math at the table.  Homeschooling rocks for this reason.  Just saying.

Except, this time, we decided to go to a different cabin rental place. It wasn't that we weren't happy before, it was that the other place only had one cabin that allowed pets as an option, and while we could have made due, we were a little worried the sleeping accommodations would be somewhat lacking. So, I called around to a couple of other cabin rental places in the same area and found one that didn't mind if we had pets. I was really excited since I had such fond memories from our last trip. I assumed that I was looking at the same situation, just in a slightly different location. I was wrong.
Oh, the cabin, such as it was, was fine. But, we lost cell signal and started hearing banjos way before we got there, which was an adventure unto itself, entailing a misguided trip into the heart of meth-trailer land (which, by the way was about a half mile from picturesque countryside with rental cabins land). Oh, and the cabin, while “fine” might ultimately be the most apt description, was a far cry from what I had pictured in my head. It was more like a slapped together pre-fab mini-house, that wasn't quite finished, and had been a rush job to begin with. A far cry from the log cabins we stayed in previously, this one had a drywall interior and just didn't have the same charm, even if there was a fishing pond out front, which it was too cold to fish in, so frankly didn't factor into my equation. But, to be fair, the cabin could have been perfectly lovely, and I think I would still be complaining. Why? Because this trip was just a series of calamitous events, occurring one right after another.
Mr. Harrelson's previous people assured us that he was an excellent traveler, and while their claims of “leash trained” were definitely a bit of a stretch (He's leash trained if by that you mean he will allow you to attach a leash to him without chomping your arm off. Otherwise? He's a mess. A lovable, goofy, pull-your-arm-out-of-socket, still-learning-he-can't-take-off-at-a-dead-run mess), we figured since they claimed to have taken a few extended car trips with him and had no troubles that, hopefully, at least in this, their predictions would ring true. Alas, no. Mr. Harrelson is a horrendous traveler. He won't listen, he won't stay in one spot, and he's basically a furry toddler that needs to potty in every new spot. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, if ever I wanted to punch a dog in the snout, it was during this car trip. I refrained, but, man was he paddling a canoe of the feminine hygiene product variety. Just saying. Sigh.
This is Mr. Harrelson.  aka. Mr. Puppikins von Douche Canoe.  

So, we haven't even gotten to our first full day at the cabin yet. We're still on the traveling, and so far, we have, lost in meth trailer land, pain in the butt dog, and arriving way too late to be in a good mood. Let's see what the rest of the trip brings.
The cabin was pretty basic. There was one large room, combining the kitchen, dining, and living room areas, and then off from this was 2 bedrooms and a small bathroom. The kids slept in one bedroom, which had a set of twin bunk beds, and set of twin over full bunk beds, as well as a small dresser. We took the other bedroom, which, sadly only had a queen size bed, a great letdown from the king that we usually share, but all in all, that's a pretty first world problem, so I'll let that go.
The main issue I had the first night was the fact that, while Mr. Harrelson does not sleep in our room with us at home, he was greatly disconcerted to be without us in this new place. As soon as the doors were shut and we were settled in bed, the whining began. I'm a very light sleeper, so this made rest extremely difficult. I'm also immensely stubborn, and I did not want to give the message that whining would result in getting what he wanted. (I co-sleep with babies. Puppies are a whole different ballgame.) So, While I would speak to him to let him know we were there, I would not give in to his demands to come in and share the already crowded bed.
Mr. H: Why would you say such horrible things about me?  I just want love.  See my cuteness?  Let me sleep wif you.  Pweeeeeeease?  Me: No.  (I'm kind of a jerk.)

On top of the puppy whining was another sleep-interference issue. With Hunny's new dead pancreas comes a set of issues I really hadn't imagined. He's alarmed heavier than Fort Knox. Seriously. At any given time during the day, his pump might alarm that it's down to the last 40 units of insulin, or that it's finished giving his bolus dose, or occasionally, it might alarm that he's had an occlusion and needs to remove the pod and apply a new one. His pump controller (He's wireless, so he has a pump or pod that is attached to him, delivering the insulin, and a controller, or remote that he uses to check his glucose and program his doses.) might alarm that it's time to check his glucose because he ate 2 hours ago. He also wears a continuous glucose monitor that sends a wireless signal to a receiver showing a graph of where his levels are throughout the day. It alarms if his sugar goes out of range, either too high or too low, if it's rising or falling rapidly, and if the receiver loses contact with the transmitter for more than an hour. It's a lot of bells, buzzes, squeals, whines, and beeps to get used to. It's especially alarming to me to hear his continuous glucose monitor alarm in the middle of the night because it wakes me up, and worries me that he may have gotten too low and be difficult to wake. It's even possible for diabetics to slip into a coma and die if this happens and they aren't roused and given something to eat or drink to raise their glucose levels. It's one of the major reasons he wears the monitor in the first place. Anyway, the first night we were there, I swear that stupid glucose alarm must have gone off a half a dozen times. Between that and the dog I wanted to cut someone. I kept hearing the alarm, waking up, picking it up, looking at it, shaking my husband, he'd not really listen to me, but was clearly not comatose, and then roll over and go back to sleep. Eventually, I was just done. I figured if he was going to be oblivious to the stupid alarm and the dog then I would lay there and seethe sleep and ignore them both, too. This resulted in about 30 minutes of sleep for me, which in turn, resulted in me waking up with a killer headache the next morning and a death wish for both Hunny and the dog.
See me smiling?  That's because 12.5 years ago, I was strangling him, and that idea still holds merit.

Hunny trotted off to work and left me with the 3 kids and the dog. Between a pot of coffee, dimmed lights, and a lot of pain killers, I was able to do a full day of school with the kids, but as soon as they finished it, I was on the couch, hiding from noise and lights, counting down the minutes until Hunny would arrive and I could take migraine medicine and go to bed, and they were released into barely supervised video game freedom. Mr. Harrelson made an excellent foot warmer while I tried not to die, however. I take back the death wish.
Okay, I like you again, but you still can't sleep with me tonight.

The next day was much better considering my headache was so reduced in vigor as to be barely noticeable, but that evening, I did something to my knee. “Something” being the best way I can define it since I haven't gone anywhere to have it looked at yet. I think I might have to, though. I Have no clue what happened. I was sitting on the couch watching tv with Hunny, I stood up because the dog neeeded correcting and I needed to catch his eye, I took three quick steps, something snapped or popped in my left knee, and then there was a lot of pain. It really didn't swell much or anything, but the joint is all wobbly, and aches and it feels like it won't support me. Also, I noticed that there is a piece of something that moves around in there now on the outside of my knee. There is not a matching movable piece in the other knee, so I assume this is not supposed to be there.
That's me.  I fall down a lot and find new and inventive ways to injure myself all the time.  You don't need a picture to know that.   I just like adding pictures at this point.
The next day was Friday, and thankfully, the day we were heading home. But, just as icing on the cake, I had to get my monthly visit from dear aunt flow that day, and on the way home, with Mr. Harrelson doing his best impression of a kidnap victim who has special mental challenges in the back seat, we picked up a nail in one of our back tires and had to deal with that.
Oh, and Ms. Thang had to pee, so we stopped at a Sheetz station. Let me tell you about my love/hate relationship with Sheetz. I love them. They have awesome stores and their bathrooms are clean. However, they use the most disgusting smelling air freshener on the face of the planet in there. I hate them for it. It smells like patchouli/incense/sandalwood and is instant migraine for me. It's a total deal-breaker for me with that whole love thing. But, Ms. Thang is a 3 year old and she had to go... So, in we went, and as I'm waiting for her to go, I nearly vomit twice because of the air freshener, and then, because I'm hiding my face in my coat to try to avoid breathing in the toxic fumes, I don't notice the little hanger for purses on the stall door and ram my arm into it. Ouch. This is actually the second time the same stupid injury has occurred to my person from the horrid, foul, disgusting air freshener in the Sheetz bathrooms. It's so overpowering that I can't stomach it. I would literally rather smell urine and feces than that smell. That's how much I hate it. I realize that the potheads of the world would probably disagree, but man is that the worst smell, ever.
Look!  Another gratuitous picture!  That's also me, holding Ms. Thang. I  did not look this happy when I came out of Sheetz.  I just thought there should be another picture because I have a thing going here.  
Anyway, by the time we made it back to the car from that potty break, I was pretty sure if I made it home without being killed in some horrible, violent manner or at least being assaulted at gunpoint, I should probably thank my lucky stars. So that's what I did. I hobbled into the house and into a hot tub and I soaked for a couple of hours and ruminated on just how much I wished I’d just stayed home. Then, I decided to tell you about it so that you would know where I was and understand that I fervently wish I'd stayed here with you guys... and that's why this blog is really long and the only one I've posted in several days. The end.

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  1. Heeeeeyyyy, patchouli and sandelwood are two of my favorite scents! (also it sucks that your knee is borked and your doggy selectively stupid)

    1. LOL! I'm pretty sure you just admitted to being a pothead. ;-) Thanks for the condolences on the douche canoe dog and bum knee, though. ;-)