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June 10, 2007

Hotel experiment

Exhausted_smI mentioned a few days ago that we were going to get a hotel for one day and try out our new PeaPod Plus travel beds.  Since we're going on a two week vacation to Southern California, we thought this would be a good way to test the water.

Yesterday was The Big Day and we were all pretty stoked about our mini adventure even though we were only 30 minutes from home.

Nap time was a total failure.  The girls were hyper from ransacking the hotel room and wanted to play in their new tent style beds instead of sleep in them.  Finally, Gwen understood what to do but Maddy wasn't having any of it.  She figured out how to unzip the PeaPod and get out and run like a banshee around the room.  So I pulled the safety pins off of their PJ's (we pin up their zipper so they can't removed their PJ's at night) and used the pin to "lock" the zipper on the PeaPod closed.   Once they know they can't escape, they stop trying, so life for all of us is amazingly much more simple.  Then, they laid in their beds and told little toddler secrets and giggled and Andrew and I smiled at each other as we eavesdropped from the living room of our hotel suite.  Every now and then, I'll holler "Go to sleep, girls!" and they'd holler back "Otay, Mama!"  Gosh, it was cute! 

But, after 30 minutes of this, their cute giggles sounded more like Alcatraz escape plans so I went into the bedroom to tell them it was time to actually go to sleep.

I explained that we'd go to the pool after nap time and Gwen did an exaggerated flop onto her pillow and closed her eyes tight and started snoring.  Maddy whined and complained a little bit but finally quieted down.  They both fell asleep around 1:15 PM (45 minutes after we started).   

Maddy only slept for about 10 minutes before waking up and screaming her head off.  She wasn't scared or injured or even actually crying.  She was just SCREAMING.  It might have been because her surroundings were unfamiliar but I'm almost sure it's because she knows that Mommy will always eventually show up if she does the scream thing long enough or loud enough.   As usual, It worked.   

I tried to give her a chance to put herself back to sleep but finally had to go in and retrieve her since she was only about 24 inches from Gwen who actually likes to take naps and probably prefers to do so without bleeding from the ears.

When I unzipped the PeaPod and pulled her out, she was totally nekkid.   When Maddy is mad, she throws things.  She'll throw her favorite toy or her sippy cup and, if she has nothing to throw, she'll take something off of her body and throw it.  Usually, it's a shoe (or two).  In the absence of that, it's ALL HER CLOTHES.   

I redressed our nekkid daughter and put her on the sofa next to Daddy (who was working on an important paper on his laptop computer).  I handed her some crayons and cheesy hotel stationary.  This entertained her for about 10 minutes before she started making so much ear-piercing noise that Gwen woke up too.  Gwen was crying.  Her usual 3 hour nap was less than 30 minutes and this was really unsatisfactory to her but she cheered up immediately when I told her we'd put on our bathing suits and go swimming!

We went to the pool (a HUGE success!) and the kids had a blast!   Later, we went to Yan Can Cook and ate massive quantities of Really Delicious Food.  Then we walked to the park and let the kids play for an hour or so before loading them into the stroller and walking to Blockbuster to get a movie (there's a DVD player in the hotel room).

When we got back to the room, it was about an hour before bedtime so we got the girls into their PJ's and plunked them down on the sofa with "Elmo in Grouchland" on the DVD.  They looked pretty content and comfy right up until the instant that Gwen vomited all over everything.  She's not sick, she just has a very weak gag reflex and made herself throw up when she shoved the corner of her Lovey down her throat (her Lovey is a washcloth and she sticks it in her mouth when she's feeling very stressed).

As I was rinsing the chunks of puke down the sink in the kitchenette (doesn't this child chew her food?), I couldn't help but think about our own beautiful house and familiar beds just 30 minutes away.  If we started packing now, we could check out of the hotel and be home within the hour.  I put the question to Andrew and it didn't take much to convince him.

Maddy fell asleep in the car.  When we got home, I carried my beautiful, sleepy little Tasmanian devil into the nursery and laid her gently in her crib.  It's just the second time I remember ever holding Maddy while she slept so I didn't want to put her down but I knew she'd wake up any second, and jab a bony elbow into my boob in a furious attempted to escape my loving embrace, so I put her in her crib while she was still asleep.  Daddy was carrying Gwen (she was awake) and he was able to put her into her crib where she went happily, as always. 

Two hours later, Maddy was SBM (screaming bloody murder) so I had to go in and tell her to stop because "the whole world was trying to sleep".  Maddy is really REALLY smart and will almost always entertain a reasonable explanation of anything.  That's why I answer her screams by coming to her.  In the long run, it seems to take less time and trouble to go talk to her than to try to ignore her.  But I'm afraid that I've created a monster since she's quickly learned that the best way to get Mommy to come running is to hit a certain decibel with your scream.  Now she doesn't even bother to "work up to it".  She's just lets loose! 

Two hours after the last outburst, Maddy was screaming again so I dragged my tired carcass out of bed and shuffled across the house to see what kind of wild animal had mysteriously appeared in her crib to munch on her PJ clad appendage.   She was fine - no missing or mutilated limbs - no obvious illness.   

I didn't chastise her or say anything at all.  I just picked her up and carried her quietly out of the room and down the hall to the spare room we use for her naps.   I expected her to protest when I put her in her Port-a-crib (with crib tent on top) and zipped her in, but she didn't.  Then I went back to bed. 

She didn't make a peep.  Not another sound all night.  She even slept for an extra half hour this morning!

So, was the hotel experiment a total failure?  Are we crazy to even think about spending two weeks in a hotel 500 miles away from home?   

I'm willing to try it again since we learned some pretty valuable lessons:

  • We learned that we can't let them sleep in the same room.  Maddy's screams sound like an air-raid siren and your first instinct is to leap under the closest table and tuck your head between your knees.  We HAVE to have two adjoining rooms with a good solid door between them.   A suite isn't good enough - IT HAS TO BE TWO ROOMS.  Three would be even better.
  • We learned that we have to pin the zippers on the PeaPod closed to discourage escape.  If the kids can get our of their bed, they will.  It's just that simple.  If we let them roam at night, they'll run nekkid up and down the hallway or get on the phone and order meat-lovers pizzas or find the TV remote control and watch porn -- or cartoons (they're not picky).
  • We learned to bring extra blankets in the event of vomit.  For some reason, Gwen has a higher incidence of vomiting in hotels than home.  Not sure why that is.
  • We learned that we have to baby proof the room before we let them out of their stroller.  TV remote controls, alarm clock, trial size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, pamphlets, brochures, BALL POINT PENS.  They all have to go into hiding before the girls are set loose on the room.
  • We learned that we have to bring noise-canceling headphones so we can't hear the screams.  Our house is 3600 square feet so there's always somewhere you can go to get away from the insanity-inducing screams and shrieks of one or both of our children.  Hotel rooms are so small that we've been tempted to either stand on the ledge outside the window or start swigging tiny, overpriced, bottles of booze and bags of m&m's from the mini-bar.


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