I think perhaps I've chosen the wrong name for our blog. The Rausch Roller Coaster might be more accurate. When I nurse Jack in the middle of the night, I often find myself reflecting upon the highs and lows of the day. Our days and weeks really do seem to consist of just that...extreme highs and extreme lows.
Take Friday, for example. The kids were so excited. They had been waiting all week for this day. You see, Aunt Beetle [Natalie] had graciously agreed to have us spend Friday night at her house. We were going to celebrate her birthday (which was on Wednesday) and all go together to Applefest in a nearby town on Saturday.
Starting on Monday, the kids began to ask if it was Friday yet. They began packing on Wednesday:
1 soft toy
2 hard [plastic] toys
tra-bull [travel] cup (a special cup daddy bought for each child that had a straw and a lid...only to be used on long trips)
This trip was going to be special. We would not only see our beloved Aunt Natalie and Uncle John, but we would get to spend time with cousin, Sebastian. This kids are completely in awe of this little guy. Every time they see him, he is doing something new and amazing. First it was smiling, then batting at toys, then babbling, crawling, walking. They can't wait to be around him! The vast majority of our visits have occurred when they come into town. They live north of Cincinnati (and if you read on, you will understand exactly why we don't make the trip often).
The Thursday before the trip we had another high. I took all 3 kids on our first ever trip to the grocery store by myself! Even more amazing...it was a huge success! We not only bought the ingredients for Aunt Beetle's cake, but we also purchased all the groceries we'd need for a week - with no major meltdowns.
When we arrived at the house, we began work on the cake. I put the kids in charge of dumping the [pre-measured] ingredients in the bowl and turning on the mixer. In hindsight, this was not the brightest idea. They would inevitably push the lever too hard, mixing at level 5 instead of 1. After I was covered in flour and had wiped down the counter and floors for the umpteenth time, I decided perhaps it was best if they were responsible for turning the mixer off after each ingredient had been added.
Come Friday, we were ready! After dropping Parker off at preschool, Grandma came to watch Maddie and Jack while I hit a huge consignment sale. A few hours later, I returned home with Parker and a ton of fall kids' clothes. I felt like the day couldn't get any better. We were all giddy with excitement about the sleepover. When I put the kids in their rooms for "quiet time" I packed the van. I woke them early, in the hopes they'd be quiet [read: groggy] for the car ride. That was my first big mistake.
By the time Aaron got home, every one had been screaming and crying for an hour. I fed Jack, and we hit the road. Mistake #2: Not making sure everyone had "gone potty" before we left.
We took the kids through the McDonald's drive-through for a super-healthy dinner (with the all-important toy included). Mistake #3: Mixing the kids' juice with water and putting it in their "travel cups." Juice box = 4 ounces. Juice box + water = 10 ounces. (We would soon pay for the combination of mistakes 2 & 3).
Then we made mistake #4...Aaron and I decided we wanted a healthier option and stopped at Subway. By the time he re-entered the car after getting our dinner, Maddie was already straining against her seat buckle, crying that she wanted to get out and asking, "How long [until] we will be there?!"
After we'd been on the expressway for about 10 minutes, the real chaos began. "I need go potty!" "Me, too!" "I'm about to weak [leak]!" "No! I'm gonna leak!"
Stop, potty, start again. 15 minutes later, repeat. During the second stop, I purchased some popcorn and poured equal amounts into their now empty happy meal boxes with the express instructions not to spill it. Moments later popcorn was sailing through the air. Daddy was not happy. Maddie was giggling defiantly. Parker was whining, "She's throwing popcorn at me." Useless threats ensued. "I need go potty!" Then traffic. No end in sight. "I NEED GO POTTY!!!"
It was nearly 8:30 at night. The car slowly inched toward the next exit. We decided we would have to head home. The real tears began to flow as the kids realized their dream trip had ended before it had even begun. Cue the wailing: "NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then Jack began to scream. With three crying children, we made our last potty break, cried "uncle" ourselves, and turned the van around.
Our week of joy and anticipation had come crashing down around us. After all three kids were tucked into bed, Aaron and I sat in the living room with wide eyes, shaking our heads. "What happened?" How had we come to this? There was a time when a trip to Cincinnati was a hop, skip, and a jump. We'd listen to music, sip our drinks, perhaps the passenger would read a magazine. Those days were certainly over.
As I nursed Jack later that evening, I listened to the soft sighs and squeaks he made as he snuggled close. Kissing the top of his tiny head, I thanked my lucky stars that those days were over. I'll take my roller coaster any day.