Friday, July 11, 2014

Captain Monkey's Summer Vacation, Part 1

We just got back from a brief summer vacation, and I figured I should capture the details in writing before my now-40-year-old brain dissolves them into something more useful, like one-hit-wonder song lyrics from 1989.

There have been many things going on in Doodle-land this year, some of which I haven't said much about. My father was very ill-- very, VERY ill-- and there was a lot of speculation as to when/if/how I was headed to Florida to help with all of that. The kicker was, since Monkey is in a combo preschool/daycare setting, taking her with me to be around someone so ill was pretty much like gifting him an Ebola monkey.

So, I couldn't go, or at least, not without her, and given the logistics of our daily commutes in two very opposite directions, having her stay here (and continue in her preschool/daycare gig) with MDDaddy transporting her back and forth really wasn't a good option either.

So, I didn't go. I agonized over it, but my dad's doctors (very politely) declined to have me present. With all our petri dish germs from the daycare, and whatnot.

There were many, MANY phone calls and prayers and a lot of worrying which was not productive and had little effect on the situation at hand.

What DID have a great effect was the treatment plan my dad's doctors put together. I am very happy to report that as of today, he is doing GREAT and expected to continue as such. WHEW!!

So, that being said...we finally got to GO!

MDD doesn't have as much scheduled vacation time as I do, since I've been at my job longer. His vacation time also resets as of his anniversary date...which is the end of August, effectively nixing most summer plans. In hindsight, he should have tried to start earlier in the summer. But, bygones...


July 4th fell on a Friday this year, so I already had that day off. I'd claimed the Monday and Tuesday after it, since we usually try to go see my in-laws for that weekend, on most years.

This year isn't like most years. THIS year, we are celebrating that my dad (aka Papi) is still with us, tired and slowly regrowing his hair-- but STILL HERE.

So I did a little checking and found if I could also take off July 3rd, we could get decent plane tickets and make the trip to Florida. My boss acquiesced, since I had applied for FMLA when we got the news about Papi and I didn't actually take any of that time (which worked well for my office, since we had three people out on maternity/paternity leave around the same time).

Thus, Monkey and I made the trip to sunny Florida to see my parents. Earlier in the year, in preparation for what could have been an emergency trip (had things gone poorly), I had explained to Monkey that Papi was sick and we might need to go see him and help out, and if so, it wouldn't be like a regular visit. We'd not be going to any parks or beaches but just helping around the house and such.

My little girl, and her big, huge heart, loved the idea of being needed, and the chance to help. God bless her.


With his miraculous recovery, we were set for kind of an in-between trip: not all dealing with doctors or sickness, but not as much of the running around we normally do when we try to cram a ton of stuff into a week's time.

Packing for this trip was interesting. She has hit another growth spurt and a good 50% of her summer clothes are now out of the running. But we have new bathing suits and PJ's, and honestly, that's about all you really need in Florida in July. We also got to bring her new life jacket for the pool, which she totally loves because it makes her look like a pink dolphin. It even has a fin!!  She outgrew the old one-- RIP, Diego vest. You have served us well, my friend.

I pack light for Monkey when we go to see my parents, because as a rule, my mother usually has a bunch of stuff waiting for her there anyway. This time was no exception.

The trip itself was interesting. MDD drove us to the airport and got us up to the security checkpoint before we had to part ways. Since he was on his way to work that day, we were dropped of WAY early. No biggie, since it gave us time to eat breakfast at the airport.


Security was, uh... interesting?? We were directed into the pre-screened TSA line, even though we were not pre-screened. Security going out of Chicago Midway is often a beast, but I think we got through in about five minutes total. It was so very odd.

Again- more time to eat! Yay!

Carry-on luggage is always a juggle for me. When I fly, I have to bring the compression pump I use on my legs at night (lymphedema SUCKS). It's very fragile medical equipment, which means checking it is out of the question. It packs into its original shipping box, which is stable for transport (and fits in the overhead bin) but has a handle that effectively cuts of circulation to at least two fingers by the time I get to stow the thing.

Which is odd, considering its entire function is to ASSIST circulation...!

On the way down to my parents' house, I always make sure we have at least one change of clothes, bathing suits, and sandals in the carry-on bag. On the way home, I don't care so much-- we're going to where the rest of our clothes are, so losing one bag is not a problem. But that takes up space, with the regular purse and medicine and 3-1-1 bag and such.

Then there's Monkey's carry-on items, designed to keep her occupied and less likely to become "THAT" kid on the plane who annoys everyone else by whining and such.

If you are keeping track, that is one wheelie carry-on bag, one over-the-shoulder Monkey bag, and a big, awkward box containing a very expensive, fragile piece of vital medical equipment.

Normally when we travel, I take the shoulder duffel bag and wheelie carry-on, and MDD deals with the pump box.

Except he wasn't with us this time. So I was literally juggling.

I set it down as much as possible. We had even more time to chill at the gate when it was announced our flight was delayed for an hour. I was very grateful I'd been up late the night before, fixing my (very OLD) iPod and downloading some episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol for Monkey. I think we watched like three of them.

We finally get ready to board and are lining up by the numbered posts (Southwest's version of roll-call). I am juggling the pump and shoulder bag, and Monkey is manning the wheelie bag. Behind us in line is a VERY DRUNK man who reeked of old booze.

He comes up behind me, as I have set the awkward box on a seat to return blood flow to my fingers, and thumps on the box.

Which is CLEARLY labeled "FRAGILE--MEDICAL EQUIPMENT."

He nearly knocked it out of my tingling hand, and I whirled around with the Eyes of DEATH.

He cackled and said, "HEY! Is there room for ALL of us to ride on this??"

Seriously.  W. T. H., dude. 

Mindful of my observant child watching for my reaction, I ignored him, resettled the box at my feet, and instructed her to step in front of me.

I was very proud that I kept my mouth shut. What would have come out of it would not have been appropriate for a small child to hear...and inevitably, repeat.

I can't help but wonder though-- what exactly did he think was IN that box? What kind of medical equipment would people be riding on...? I tried to answer that and came up blank.


Can SOMEONE please tell me why people get totally plastered at the airport?? I mean, doesn't that mess up your head when you fly? I get headaches sometimes from it, sober. I would absolutely barf my ever-loving guts out if I flew drunk...I have never, ever understood that, and I see it every time I fly. 

Anyway, the flight itself went fine, although it marked the first flight ever where Monkey's ears did not cooperate and pop like they needed to do. Long live the Dr. Pol show.

I am especially thankful for the nice lady who sat next to me and was very quiet and did not even make fun of me when I fell asleep and snored. Even though my child DID. 

We repaid the lady's niceness with what I hope is a good story she got to share with someone.

Monkey spent a lot of time coloring in her little travel Barbie set (which has a small pad of pages and about six markers to use). When it was time to put the tray table back in its upright and locked position, we discovered Monkey had also colored alllllllllll over the underside of her table.

Inadvertently. No, really. 

She had been keeping the markers in her lap so they didn't roll off the table, and therefore had to keep bringing them up to the table to use them on the page...uncapped...so each time they came up to the table, she left a little line under the table. Like...every. Single. Time.


Our travel companion snort laughed (and then apologized) when she saw my reaction to the now rainbow-colored table.

Me: <GASP> Monk... How...?? Oh... Oh, my.
Neighbor: <SNORT> I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but...WOW.
Monkey: I didn't MEAN TO...Really!

Me: I know...I know...just...uh... <flinging through stuff in the carry-on duffel to find the wet wipes> Here- take one.

<She does...and uses it to carefully wipe the back of one hand. Which is also rainbow-colored.>

Neighbor: <SNORT LAUGHS> 
Me: See! Bet you weren't expecting a floor show, now were you?
Neighbor: No, can't say that I was. This is even better than her telling me you were snoring when you fell asleep.

<pause>
Me: Wait...I was???
Neighbor: OH, YEAH. And she made SURE we all knew.
Me: <hangs head> Oh. My. Gawd.

Monkey: Yeah, Mama! You snored SO LOUD--
Me: HEY!! MOMMY SNORED BECAUSE I WAS UP TIL 2 AM. GETTING YOU YOUR DR. POL on the iPod. Please remember that!!
Neighbor: <dying laughing, red in the face>

On a related note: those travel marker sets are nice. And come right off with your standard Wet One.

I finished wiping down the tray table just as the flight attendant came by to collect up the last garbage. Monk handed the rainbow-tinted Wet One to the flight attendant. Neither my neighbor nor I made eye contact with her. Eyes forward, eyes forward...

As I was getting stuff back into the duffel (from my frantic Wet One search), I discovered more marker.


On the arm of Monkey's seat... and the wall of the plane under the window.

Ooooops. Happy to report that it does come off plane walls, too. Betcha they won't put THAT in a commercial, though.


When it was time to get off the plane, Monk decided she was done navigating the wheelie bag. That left me with all three items to somehow wrangle down the aisle. A handful of passengers remained in the front of the plane, seated for the next leg of the flight. As I made my clumsy way down the aisle, I heard one lady sneer, "Oh my GAWD, CHECK A BAG."

You know what, Sneering Lady Who Was Not at ALL Affected by Our Luggage?

After nearly four hours SITTING IN AN AIRPORT, I flew ALONE with a five-year-old... who was successfully kept entertained and did not annoy* even one other person. So SHUT YER MOUTH.

*Just me, with the marker thing...and that doesn't really count. 


More to come...gotsta get back to work!!