Here in the Gunter household we are counting down to Cabin Vacation ’09 and in preparation for this event I have been indulging in one of my favorite pastimes. That’s right, List Making. Oh the beauty of a bright shiny list, in all it’s gloriously splendid potential. There really is no greater feeling than getting things out of your head and onto paper in an orderly numbered fashion. (Do you see how I embrace my lameness? Shut up, it’s a beautiful thing.) With categories and subcategories and blah blah blah I know I need to get a life.
In my extreme geekery, I had carefully folded and saved the Cabin Vacation ’08 List in a safe spot (the recipe box because, let’s face it, if I don’t cook I should use it for something, right?) and we took it out for reference in making this years list. After perusing the section aptly titled Keaton and all 500 of it’s subcategories, we were floored. He had countless rows of yellow legal paper devoted to what we needed to pack to keep him happy for one week. Sections included Feeding with subcategories of “Solids”, “Breast”, “Bottle” and “Accessories”. And that was only the tip.
For gear we packed a jogging stroller, an umbrella stroller, a Baby Bjorn, a Mai Tai carrier, a sling and I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure there was also a mini remote controlled hovercraft (oh, kidding-but that would be all kinds of AWESOME). For sleep we brought a vibrating bouncy seat, a pack and play and an Amby baby hammock. For play we brought an exersaucer, a hanging door jumper, a Bumbo seat and dozens of toys and books. How much shit does one baby need for one goddamn week?!, you are asking and I tell you we used and needed 95% of what we brought. Keaton was SUCH a hard baby to please and would get bored or fussy if he wasn’t being held, and even then it was hard to keep him happy. This was also just a few short weeks before we ended up sleep training him so we were still doing the absolutely AWFUL routine of shushing (as in SHHHH, baby! SHHHHH, baby! as loud as we could) and jogging in place with him for 45 minutes or more to get him to fall asleep.
It was so much work. I remember Bill and the Deputy Chief Fire Idiot coming back from settling our accounts at the end of our stay and chatting about securing the cabin for next year. I wanted to punch Bill in the mouth and shake his shoulders while shouting I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! I restrained myself, but all the same- I was pretty sure I was not going to put myself through caring for a cranky baby in the northwoods ever again. Especially since we had to drive 4+ hours each way with said cranky baby. A cranky baby who did not like being in the car for 5 minutes let alone an extended period and he let us know this by screaming until his head popped right the eff off and we had to stop off at some shady small town hospital so they could sew it back on. Twice! True story!
Anyway, you know that hormone that woman have to make them forget the agony of childbirth? I have that in rampant stores and turns out it also makes you forget the horrors of traveling with cranky babies because come last January I was all Oh my God, we better find a cabin to stay in for Cabin Vacation Oh Nine, Haste and ye hurry!!! So, here we are making our lists again and you know what we need to bring for Keaton this year? His blanket and his nuk, The End.
The difference the last six months has made was staggering and something we hadn’t really contemplated too hard. Neither Bill nor I like to reminisce about the early days of Keaton. It’s so sad, but it really turns my stomach into mushy butterflies and makes me tense and angry when I think about how unbelievably hard his infancy was. I can’t even communicate in words how much better he has been, despite some impressive attempts by his molars to derail us, the last few months. Keaton is still a needy and sometimes whiny little guy but, oh, the difference between 18 month old Keaton and 7 month old Keaton is so ridiculously ginormous. At 7 months, I was terrified that he had some sort of neurological disorder that made it physically impossible for him to be happy, or even content. At 18 months he spends so much of his day giggling and smiling and being a general goof-ball. I just can’t believe he became this person based on his babyhood, but so very thankful, whatever it was that was making him so miserable, has figured itself out.
So this year we will pack the Ergo carrier for him and a jogging stroller for the kids to share. He will eat what we eat and the only accessory we’ll really need are toddler spoons and sippy cups. He will put himself to sleep, easily and peacefully in his pack and play. He will entertain himself with the sand toys and, let’s face it, probably the toilet and various garbage cans because for whatever reason, that’s what he likes (hmmm, future sanitation worker?). We just flipped his car seat to front facing a week ago so everything he sees is new and interesting and he loves riding in the car and singing along to whatever music we put on, be it Mama Mia or Jack Johnson.
It feels like I have been in some really sadistic version of baby boot camp for the last 3+ years and making this years list has made us stop, look around, and see that we are finally coming up for air. We are more mobile, more free to do the things we want to do without having to re-arrange our lives to figure it out or rent a fricken U-Haul to get us there. We still have to cater to the kids which includes nap times and family friendly events but our lives as adults, as individuals- not just caregivers or parents- are slowly shifting back into perspective, and you know what? It feels good. Not quite as good as making awesome lists, but still, pretty damn good.