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Hiker Mama
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 10:52 pm 
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Sunrise Trip Report, Mount Rainier – 7/15/08

There are many occasions in parenting when we have unrealistic expectations and we have to change the way we approach a situation.  Hiking with children seems to illustrate that concept very well.  My trip to Sunrise with my two children on Tuesday was another lesson for me in patience, revising plans (as many times as necessary) and trying to enjoy a beautiful day despite continual frustrations.

Pink Ice and her friend J suggested meeting at Sunrise for a kid hike on Tuesday.  I was ready for a new place; I had never been to Sunrise before, and was yearning to get higher in the mountains than I had been able to yet this summer.  I packed everything the night before, cleaned the house and caught up on the laundry.  I prepared the kids for getting up early and got to bed later than I wanted to.  Pretty soon the alarm clock rang and it was time to drag myself out of the warm covers.  Some coffee and breakfast helped get me going, and it wasn’t long before Gabriel woke up too.  He was excited about going to Mount Rainier.  He wasn’t excited about the thought of a long drive, though.  Then it was time to wake Annika up and try unsuccessfully to get her to eat some breakfast.  She seemed happy about hiking, but I could tell she hadn’t gotten enough sleep.  I hoped she would sleep in the car on the way up the mountain.

We got a later start than I wanted, and I needed to stop at the bank.  I also got gas and cleaned my windshield along the way, and stopped at the Ranger Station in Enumclaw to use the restroom.  The kids bickered almost the whole way.  I tried encouraging them to speak in loving words to each other, and tried turning up the music really loud (that almost never works).  When Annika was really grumpy at one point, I pulled over at Federation Forest to try to get her to eat a snack.  She just wasn’t very happy with the food I had brought for us to eat.  All she kept asking for were cookies.  I had made a double batch of my special allergy-free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, which are actually pretty healthy, but I still wanted her to eat something else.  I wasn’t having much luck, so I just kept driving, hoping she would settle down.

The beautiful scenery seemed to help at this point.  I was running at least a half an hour late, so I just kept pushing up the road.  Through the pay station we went, and I could feel myself relaxing a bit as we gradually gained in elevation.  I love the middle elevation forests and beyond; there is something extra special about the feelings they evoke.  Flowers were abundant along the road, and I yearned to stop and look and take pictures.  Lupines were the most prevalent, but there were other species, too.  The sun was warm and the air was fragrant through the open car windows.  I was excited about being in the park and the possibility of mountain views.

We finally made it to the Sunrise parking area at 10:30, half an hour after we were supposed to arrive. 
Sunrise
Sunrise

There was no sign of Pink Ice; I breathed a sigh of relief that they weren’t waiting for us.  They pulled up shortly after we did.  They still had to wait for us, because somehow they were much quicker gearing up and slathering on sunscreen than I was.  I hate that feeling of making others wait, but it was a feeling I would have to come to terms with on this day.

Eventually we were all ready to go, and we decided to head up the trail to see if we could make it to Frozen Lake.  Pink Ice had been up to Fremont LO the day before, and thought it would be doable for the kids to the lake.  We started up the trail, and I was delighted to see glacier lilies right there!
Galcier lily
Galcier lily

Those were my first ever sightings.  Phlox, Cusick’s Speedwell, Potentilla, Western Pasqueflower – I felt the thrill of seeing spring alpine species.
Cusick's speedwell
Cusick's speedwell
Potentilla sp.
Potentilla sp.
Western anemone
Western anemone
Western anemone
Western anemone

The first patch of snow pulled the children right into it. 
Kids playing in snow
Kids playing in snow

They slipped and slid and Annika grabbed handfuls and stuffed dirty, pink snow into her mouth.  I told her over and over not to eat the dirty snow, but the attraction was too great for her.  She had mud all over her chin from the windblown dust she was eating.  I tried not to think about any algae or worms that might be living in the slush.
Dirty Watermelon Snow
Dirty Watermelon Snow

Instead I gazed up at the ever-changing mountain, and took photos of flowers.
We pulled the kids away from the first snow patch with promises of more snow to come, and slowly continued our way up the gentle trail.  Annika’s problems started almost immediately.
************************************************************
Here is how our hike went:
Annika: “Mama! Snack?”
Mom: “What would you like?” I rattle off a list of food in the pack, but get only negative responses.
A: “Mama! Lunch!”
M: “OK, would you like to eat your sandwich?”
A: (Thinking.) “Sure!”
I take off my pack, dig into the food bags, find Annika’s sandwich, hand her the baggie, and take Annika’s token trekking pole.  I lash one of my own trekking poles to my pack, put my pack back on, and we start walking again.  I notice that the other kids are contentedly moving up the trail.
M: ”Let’s catch up to the others!  Ooohh, look at this flower! I’m going to take a picture.  OK, let’s hurry!”
A: “Mama! Done!”
M: “No, dear, eat your sandwich.”  Miraculously, Annika complies.
A: “Mama! Scared mountain!” Annika grabs both my legs and buries her head in my lap.  I look up to see everyone else farther away from us.  I look back to see how pitifully far we’ve traveled.  I gaze longingly up at The Mountain.  Clouds are clinging to the west side of the peak, appearing like steam from an eruption.  A lenticular cloud makes a hat above the peak.  I can see the glaciers winding down the desolate valleys.  We are so close that we can see their wrinkles and turns in sharp relief.
The Mountain
The Mountain
Hat
Hat

I try to reassure her that the mountain isn’t scary, nothing is going to hurt her, Mommy is right here to keep her safe, yada, yada, yada.  A feeling of dread begins to descend on me.  This is not going to be an easy hike.  What is up with my daughter?

Reluctantly Annika continues walking.
Annika hiking
Annika hiking

She stops a moment later to take off her backpack and hand it to me.  I then take off my backpack, dump it on the ground, clip hers onto mine, grab the water so it is accessible, and hoist my pack again.

A: “Mama! Jump!”  She wants to jump up the steps.

A: “Mama! Help me!”  We walk a little farther.

A: “Mama! Do self!” She rips her hands away when I try to help her up the larger steps.
Up we go
Up we go

A: “Mama! Scared clouds!”  She buries her head in my legs again, stopping me in my tracks as other hikers are forced to detour around us.

M: “Oh, but the clouds are fluffy and pretty and soft, they won’t hurt us.  They’re happy clouds.  You’re OK.”

Reluctantly Annika continues walking.  She hands me her mostly finished sandwich and baggie.  I stuff them in the pocket of my pants.

A: “Mama!  Carry me!”  Annika holds both her arms up to me, pleading with a sad voice.

M: “No, Mama can’t carry you today.  You are a big girl.  You can walk.”  Annika pouts.  She turns around and walks the other way.  “Let’s go this way.  There’s more snow up ahead.”  Gabriel comes down to join us.

Gabriel: “I’m cold!  Did you bring my coat?” 
I found a rock!
I found a rock!

M:  “It’s in your backpack.”

Gabriel takes his arms out of the pack straps without unbuckling the waist belt first.   Then he can’t get the waist belt undone because there is too much pressure on the buckle.  I explain for the tenth time that he can’t do it that way, and help him get his pack off so he can grab his coat.  Then he tells me he is hungry, and I try to make him wait, but he is persistent, so I take off my pack again, dig through it and try to find something he is willing to eat, and of course Annika wants one, too, so they both have snacks now.  I put my pack back on.   I glance up the trail.  The others are nowhere in sight.

M: “Let’s hurry, guys, they are waiting for us at the top.”

M: “Annika, please don’t eat the snow.  We don’t eat snow.”

A: “Mama! Scared trees!  Trees fall down!”  The trees are blowing gently in the breeze.   She is remembering our trip on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail when she “got” the concept of trees falling in the woods.  I reassure her yet again.

G: “Mom, can I have a lollypop?”

A: “Lopop!”  I guiltily dig into the top compartment of my pack (after taking it off yet again) and hand them each a lollypop.  Lollypops are supposed to be for bribery at the end of the hike, not the beginning.  I wonder what I’m going to use later this afternoon to get my kids down the mountain?

A: “Mama! Carry me!”

Because we are so far behind the others, I pick up my daughter and try to catch up to them.  I have to put her down pretty soon, and she starts crying.  She wants her backpack on again, and wants her water bottle.  I take my pack off, unclip her pack, put it on her, find the water, and put my pack back on.  My frustration and embarrassment are growing.  My kids are both unhappy, and I am tense and not enjoying myself.  After about a half an hour of this, we finally make it up to the junction with the Sourdough Ridge Trail, and the others had decided to turn right instead of left, since J didn’t feel good about her boys being on the exposed places.  There is snow at the junction, and Annika starts eating it again.  I am cross and tell her for the hundredth time that the snow is yucky and she may not eat it.  She agrees even as she is stuffing it in her mouth.  Gabriel is playing in it, too.

I take a few pictures,
Note the dirt on her chin from eating the snow.
Note the dirt on her chin from eating the snow.

and then try to get the kids to move along, but Annika won’t budge.  I sense a resistance in her, and I don’t know what to do any more.  I am out of tricks. We have gone 0.2 mile in over half an hour since we left the parking area.  I pick her up again, and she fusses a little, but we make a bit of progress.  I put her down, and we come to another snow patch.  She slips and slides and falls, becoming more frustrated and stubborn.  By this time I am really losing my cool, and in a brilliant parenting move, pick her up and begin to give her a huge guilt trip about how she was making it difficult, I didn’t drive all the way out here for her to be this way, I am so embarrassed our friends have to keep waiting for us, I am fed up with her behavior, and so on.  Of course, guilt trips don’t have any effect on 2-year-olds except to make them even more stubborn.  We alternate between me carrying Annika and her walking reluctantly forward and backward.

Finally we reach the others.  They have turned around due to persistent snow and their kids beginning to rebel a bit as well.  We decide we should abort the hike attempt and try to feed the troops, so we begin the trek down the 0.3 miles back to the picnic area.  Annika insists on jumping down every step herself.  She won’t let me hold her hand except when I scare her on the larger jumps that she will get hurt if I don’t help her.  She wants to do it all herself and must jump every chance she gets.  She seems driven to accomplish this new skill.  Miraculously she doesn’t fall and split a lip.  I am frazzled and impatient, hungry and disappointed.

The trip down to the picnic are seems interminable, but finally we make it.  The others have already started eating.  We dump everything on the ground and my kids eat a few bites of lunch before getting up and running around with the other boys.  Annika seems to get a second wind.  A few of the younger boys decide they need to “water” the trees, and Gabriel encourages them, saying that it’s OK to go in the bushes when you’re out in nature.  Annika falls at one point and scrapes her elbow, necessitating a bandaid and lots of kisses.

**********************************************

By this time it was after 1:00, and we decided that we would like to try to do one of the other hikes from the parking lot.  I got out my map and we packed up and headed over to the trail that goes through the Silver Forest.  We walked maybe 100 feet before the other 2-year-olds began losing it big time, one of them even resorting to lying down in the trail and crying.  Pink Ice and J decided that they better leave to go home, but I am determined to make the most of the day, since we drove all the way out there, and I was disappointed in our journey so far.  Annika seemed fairly happy, except that she did not want to leave her hat on, and the sun was so bright that I couldn’t allow her to leave it off.  Thus began the battle that we fought for the rest of the afternoon.

I, however, was thrilled again by the flower display, and enjoyed the practice I was getting taking pictures.
Not sure what this is
Not sure what this is
Jacob's ladder
Jacob's ladder
Sitka valerian?
Sitka valerian?

We went to the first and second overlooks,
I been playin in the dirt!
I been playin in the dirt!
Someone is happy
Someone is happy
Closeup from overlook
Closeup from overlook

sat at each for a while, and then tried to go down the trail in the other direction.  At this point we heard a grouse somewhere nearby.  The sound scared Annika, of course, in her sensitive mindset of the day.  I finally gave up and decided we’d go back to the car.  It was a chore getting Annika to come back with us.  She was beyond reasoning and I don’t think she knew what she wanted.  She continued her resistance methods of walking the opposite direction we wanted to go, standing still and ignoring me, and throwing her hat and sunglasses down on the ground.  Finally she sat down in the middle of the trail, pouting.
You can't make me go any farther!
You can't make me go any farther!

I eventually carried her, crying and writhing, back to the car.  I changed her diaper, put our packs in the car, and then declared we were all using the restroom.

After our comfort stop, Gabriel asked if we could go in the Visitor’s Center, and I am glad we took the time to do so.  The kids both enjoyed the displays inside.  Gabriel was fascinated by the display of different volcanic rocks, the specimens of animal things we could touch,
Sunrise Interpretive Center
Sunrise Interpretive Center

and the descriptions of some of the things we had seen on our walk, such as pocket gopher leavings.
Pocket gopher trails
Pocket gopher trails
Old pocket gopher tunnel
Old pocket gopher tunnel

I bought both the kids some souvenirs for the car ride home to try to keep some of the bickering at bay.  We plowed through another tantrum getting Annika down the stairs and through the parking lot to the car.  By this time she was screaming that shrill, ear-splitting scream, writhing out of my arms, and running away.  People were staring at us.  I tried to keep a stoic face and not look too angry, even though I was seething inside.  I had to change the third poopy diaper of the afternoon, and force the poor girl into her car seat.  Boy, was I grumpy and ready to go home.

Annika was asleep before we made it to Sunrise Point.
Asleep in record time
Asleep in record time

Gabriel wanted to take the binoculars out and look at all the mountains in the distance, and had a hard time comprehending why we couldn’t just leave Annika alone in the car with the windows open.  I have to admit, it was a tempting proposition.  I wanted to look at everything, too.  At least we could see a view of Mt. Adams and the smoke from the Cold Springs fire off in the distance.

We wound our way down the road, and stopped to read the interpretive sign at the columnar basalt. 
Columnar basalt
Columnar basalt

That’s where a lava flow met a glacier, cooling the lava quickly and causing it to shrink and form hexagonal columns.  Gabriel thought that was really cool.  We also drove through the White River Campground.  That river definitely looks like an active geologic area.  It sends out a feeling of power, with it’s grey water full of glacial flour, the rocks rolling in the rushing water, and the scoured river channel.

We also stopped at one of the FS campgrounds on the way out, to see if it would be worth camping there.  Annika woke up after a short nap, and we pulled into the Federation Forest SP picnic area to stretch our legs and have some dinner.  We got a bunch of mosquito bites in the short time we were there.  Then we hit the road for one last haul toward home, arriving around 8:30pm.  What a long, exhausting day it was.

Still, I took over 150 pictures, and got to see some new territory, plus all the alpine flowers.  It was a great effort the whole day reconciling what I wanted to do with the moods and needs of my children.  I wanted to figure them out, to remain connected with compassion, yet I felt beat up and needy, as well.  I knew that something was off with Annika, but I still haven’t figured out why she was having such a difficult day.  Perhaps it was the elevation, the feeling of exposure on The Mountain, inadequate sleep, not enough food, or too much time in the car.  Or perhaps it was something else entirely.  It is tempting to react and wait a year before hiking with her again, but then she told me as I was tucking her into bed that her favorite part of the day was “Mountain.”  Then she asked to go camping.  So something affected her positively, even in the midst of all that struggle.  I find myself holding tightly to this memory as my reward for making it through the day, and daring a fantastic adventure.
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Magellan
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 11:08 pm 
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B-R-U-T-A-L, what's that spell? Brutal!!!

I am feeling for you Jenn.  I am carrying the baby and making the 28 month old walk on the hike tomorrow.  Hopefully older cousins will motivate the Jman.

I've never really been embarassed by kids, but angry, oh yeah!   rant.gif  nono.gif  curse.gif  mad.gif
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cajunhiker
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 12:07 am 
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Really nice photos of flowers and kids. Thanks for sharing.
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ActionBetty
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Im a dirty hippie!
PostSat Jul 19, 2008 1:28 am 
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Dayum, I feel your frustration mama  wink.gif

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"If you're not living good, you gotta travel wide"...Bob Marley
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sarbar
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 6:25 am 
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Hooboy, do I remember those days. Wish we could have gone - Ford seems to rally the "troops" wink.gif
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Karen²
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A Real Canadian Girl
PostSat Jul 19, 2008 6:59 am 
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Wow!  I am exhausted just reading about your adventure.  So many scenarios sound oh so familiar!   lol.gif  That's why we make sure we get out with the kids, but we also get someone to watch them next time so we can get out on our own to recuperate!   hockeygrin.gif

I also note you had to stay up late to get this posted this while the kids were in bed.   wink.gif
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Hiker Mama
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 6:12 pm 
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Sarbar, I did miss you guys this time. You could have carried Annika for me! ykm.gif Karen2, this did seem to be the perfect storm of a trip where everything that normally goes wrong over a year was stuffed into one day, and magnified as well.  But it makes good reading, I hope, so maybe there is some redemption there.  I am scheming to get out later this summer on an "epic" (for me, anyway) hike, and I worked today leading an adult hike for Edmonds, but I do yearn for the days when I can go where I want when I want.  Oh well, this all builds character, right? hmmm.gif
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bobbi
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 7:58 pm 
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hiker mama....... i was feeling for you, wanting to expose your children to the great outdoors and hiking.  maybe a hike around the playground would be best for 'A', instead of the mountain.  good for you to hang in there.  i would have packed it in.

but alas, one day, as A walks across the stage to receive her diploma, you'll say, "remember that glorious day on the mountain?  what a beautiful young lady she has become!"

ah, those were the days!  thanks for sharing!

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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Hiker Mama
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 8:23 pm 
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Bcfc, yes, I did consider giving up, but I had driven three hours to get there and paid $15 to get in the park, plus all that gas money, and by gum, I was going to enjoy this day! rant.gif  clown.gif   A few weeks ago Annika walked three miles with elevation gain and only a few whimpers (well, in my memory, anyway, Sarbar might remember differently) so I thought an easier hike at Rainier would be within the realm of possibilities.  It was just an off day for her, and in fact she has been "off" all week, so something is up with her.  She has been asking every day to go hiking, so I know she enjoys it.  We have another day trip planned Tuesday, I haven't figured out where yet, but I will keep it easier and close so as not to push her too much.  Stay tuned to see how it goes!
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sarbar
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 8:26 pm 
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She was a dream on our hike smile.gif Of course I was coddling her lol.gif And I carried her - something I never did with ol' Ford - but oh, whatever, she is cute and bats her eyes right. And says "bi rock!" (Big rock) so cutely at the glacial erratic.

Kids can have bad weeks. Altitude can even play into it - bright sun, less air......and not enough sleep/food=cranky.
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 8:30 pm 
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hiker mama ...you are a saint! angel.gif  And when the kids are old enough you can remind them!!!  While you may remember the struggles of the day, I'll bet the kids remember the all the little fun and new things that they experienced. Thanks for the report and neat pics!

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"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
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mountain high
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PostSun Jul 20, 2008 9:04 am 
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Great job.  It can be frustrating with kids.  As long as you keep a sense of humor about things and realize you won't "make it to the top," you'll be fine.  I've found that when I push my kids too hard, they don't come away with a positive memory.  But if I bury my own ambitions and take it easy, they have a wonderful time.  You can give your daughter a photo to put on her wall, so she can associate herself with the mountains.  That will pave the way for wanting to go back.

Yes, that was valerian.  Next time you can grind up the root and feed it to the kid that is acting out the most; instant valium!

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"When one loses the deep intimate relationship with nature, then temples, mosques and churches become important."
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raising3hikers
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PostSun Jul 20, 2008 8:16 pm 
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Sorry about the frustrating trip but it is beautiful up there anyways up.gif My kids faces get that dirty also.  dizzy.gif
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bobbi
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PostSun Jul 20, 2008 8:27 pm 
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mountain high wrote:
You can give your daughter a photo to put on her wall, so she can associate herself with the mountains.  That will pave the way for wanting to go back.

good advice!

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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Hiker Mama
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PostSun Jul 20, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Hmmm, I'll have to try that Valerian next time.... lol.gif  Maybe I'll self-administer and then I won't be bothered by the kids so much!

I agree about the sense of humor.  It's always easier to have a sense of humor about it when I'm not in the moment of frustration.  I didn't realize it, but I was carrying around the frustration from that day for several days afterward; it didn't dissipate until I wrote about it.  Writing this TR was therapeutic.  Now I feel much more philosophical about the whole thing.
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