This week brings a return to normalcy after the hectic end to 2010.
Due to holiday travel, vacation days, and a heavy workload at my job, I haven’t been able to write a blog post in some time. So here is a belated Christmas recap, complete with some lessons learned (or in some cases re-learned).
Lesson Learned: With a baby, the holiday season is even more busy and stressful than before
I may have thought that Christmastime was chaotic before, but with a baby, things become elevated to the next level.
For instance, packing the car for the drive to Long Island becomes much more complicated. Before, we needed to pack our clothes and the hundreds of gifts which we had purchased for people. Now, we still needed to pack all that, but we also had to include everything that a baby could conceivably need over a span of five days.
The end result is that the car is packed pretty tight.
The drive is also more difficult since we can’t just keep the Cutlet in her car seat for over six hours. We knew we’d have to make at least one stop. Fortunately, she slept for most of the way until the New Jersey turnpike where we stopped at the first rest area we came to.
Lesson learned: There is no such thing as a quick stop with a baby
At the rest area, we attempted to give the Cutlet her bottle. This was not a smooth process. Because we were at a public place with a lot of strange people around, she couldn’t concentrate on eating. Instead, she wanted to keep looking around and seeing what was happening around her. Despite probably being hungry, she would not keep at the bottle for more than a few seconds at a time.
Of course, part of the problem also might have been due to the forthcoming massive bowel movement.
Lesson learned: If you want a baby to wear a specific outfit to an event, you’d better put it on immediately beforehand
Since we were headed to Grandpa’s house, we put her in a shirt that says “I have a rockin’ grandpa.” But that shirt, along with every other article of clothing she had on needed to be changed. When she relieves her bowels in an upright position, the Cutlet has mastered the ability to send the fecal matter straight up her back. She’s quite talented.
Lesson learned: Pack extra pants
As a special bonus, some of mess escaped from her diaper, soaked through two layers of her clothes, and got some on my pants as well.
Lesson learned: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is awesome
After we finally arrived at Grandpa’s, we watched this holiday classic. If anyone doesn’t find this movie to be hilarious, then there’s something wrong with them.
Lesson learned: Home Alone 2 is less awesome
It’s not necessarily a bad movie. Yet, the producers made absolutely no attempt to hide that they were simply recreating the first movie. Kind of a rip off if you ask me.
Lesson learned: Relatives can add to the stress levels
Christmas Eve was not a relaxing day.
Because Grandpa’s house can be quite loud at times, the Cutlet didn’t nap as well as she should have. This was the first problem, as from our experience, poor naps during the day = cranky baby in the evening.
Then, a bunch of Mrs. Cutter’s relatives came over. Of course, everyone wants to see the baby. And squeal at the baby. And hold the baby.
The problem is, the Cutlet doesn’t care that she’s related to these people. All she knows is that there are a bunch of strangers in her face. And she has very low tolerance for it.
Once the Cutlet inevitably starts crying, those relatives no longer want to hold the Cutlet. They quickly hand the Cutlet back to mommy or daddy.
Lesson learned: To a baby, Santa Claus is just a strange fat guy in red
For my three year old niece, the arrival of Santa Claus was a magical experience. For the Cutlet, this was just yet another strange person holding her and talking to her. The crying only grew worse.
Lesson learned: A loud crying baby can cause parents to snap
After a few hours of family time, the Cutlet was done. She was fed up with everything, and was letting her displeasure be known to everyone. We tried putting her to bed, but she didn’t seem to be able to calm down.
We began to receive a lot of unsolicited advice as to how to calm the Cutlet down. We also got hit with questions like, “Why is the baby crying?” It was at this point when Mrs. Cutter may or may not have screamed at someone.
Here is the correct question to ask the parent of a screaming child: “Is there anything I can do to help?” If there is, please do it. If not, get out of the way!
We realized our only hope was to pack everything up, put the Cutlet in her car seat, and drive to Grandma’s house. The hope was that she would fall asleep on the car ride. And thankfully, she did.
After that, things calmed down significantly. The Cutlet was much calmer on Christmas, and as a result, the day was much less stressful for everyone.
Lesson Learned: Snow sucks
“Yippee! It’s snowing! No school! We get to play outside!”
When I hear people say things like that, I just shake my head in disbelief. Sadly, I’m a little past the point of feeling joyous when seeing flakes flutter down from the sky. When I think of snow, I now think of last winter when my weekend plans kept getting ruined. Or having our power go out for three days.
I can now also think of getting stuck at my in-laws house for an extra day, and having to use vacation time which I didn’t really have to spare.
Lesson learned: Snow blowers are useful
Mrs. Cutter’s uncle had received a snowblower as a birthday gift. This came in handy in clearing out most of the driveway, especially since the plowing company didn’t seem to be in any hurry to do the job.
Lesson Learned: People can’t drive in snow
Sometimes, when driving on a highway, pileups of snow can cause lanes to suddenly disappear. If you are driving in one of these lanes, this does not give you the right to simply cut into the next lane, especially if there is a car already in that lane.
Another behavior I don’t recommend is to slam on the brakes when there is snow on the road. Pump your brakes, people!
And while going glacially slow down hills may seem like a good idea, it makes it that much more difficult to go back uphill when the time comes. Haven’t these people ever heard about momentum? Or am I the only person who paid attention in physics class?
Lesson learned: The New Jersey Turnpike sucks
Actually, sucks doesn’t come close to describing it. On Tuesday, when we were finally able to leave, we first had to get off Long Island. The snow pileups and heavy volume didn’t make this an easy task, and it took much longer than it should have.
But this was nothing compared to what we experienced on the Turnpike.
I’m guessing that most people were planning to drive home on Sunday, which was the day after Christmas. Others (like us) were planning to leave on Monday. But because of all the snow, everyone pretty much had to wait until Tuesday.
Due to extreme congestion, it took us an hour just to get from exit 9 to exit 8A, and we spent much of that time simply not moving.
Once the Cutlet woke up (thankfully she slept for a long time) we knew we would have to make a stop. We got off at Exit 8A, ate lunch, and then made a decision. Realizing that it would take us forever to get home, we decided to take an alternate route, stop at my parents house, and spend the night there.
This was probably the correct decision. Instead of another seven hours in the car, we were able to get the Cutlet out of her car seat for awhile and play with her. As a bonus, we also got a home cooked meal. I also didn’t have to miss the Eagles game, but based on how that went, maybe that isn’t a bad thing.
Lesson learned: New Years celebrations are a bit different with a baby
Going out on NYE obviously wasn’t going to happen. But we didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing either.
So we got together with three other likeminded couples, had the babies play with each other for awhile, and then had an unofficial new year countdown at 7:15. After that, it was off to bed for the babies.
It was quite a holiday season. While there were some nice moments, I have to wonder why people have this image of a baby’s first Christmas being a magical, wonderful time. I think we’ll enjoy it much more when she’s old enough to understand what is going on.