Camping, Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Camping in a Thunder Storm….. with a Baby


Flash! Pop! Crackle! Rumble! Downpour! Oh greeeat. We are in the woods, with a hypothetical tornado raging towards our flimsy tent; I win Worst Mother of the Year award. This all runs through my head as I sit on a hot sunny Texas porch, gazing at the weekend’s weather report on my phone. We will be camping over the weekend; real tent camping, away from running water, and storm shelters.

A tornado transporting baby and myself to the Land of Oz would not be ideal, but I could also be a candidate for Worst Mother of the Year if I tried to shield my child from all literal and figurative nasty weather. I decide to go for it, and hope for cool gentle showers when I’m hot, and blazing sun when I’m ready to dip into the chilly water. Wishful thinking.

Day One:

We drove out to the river with the sun blazing through the car windows and that precious AC blasting. All seemed good, but the weather report was not shifting, and there was a sheet of darkly ominous gray glaring at me on the horizon.

We arrived at our stomping grounds for the weekend and settled in. As dusk descended, the storm was upon us. Not the storm you’re expecting, oh no, something much worse, a storm of mosquitoes. I think I would prefer a tornado. They came in clouds and were the highly evolved skeeters that found the most poisonous of bug spray to be simply scrumptious. They also loved baby blood, specifically blood drawn from the head. Because I am adamantly against smacking my baby on the head, regardless of any honorable intentions, I rugged up my sweaty baby from head to toe; and the mosquitoes penetrated his clothing, they were insatiable. After an hour or so of being the helpless victims of flying vampires, the little devils dragged their full bellies back to wherever mosquitoes live; I suspect the bowels of hell. We were itchy but alive, and the baby seemed to care less about his quickly rising red welts.

This proved to be the only storm of the night and we spent the next few hours zoning out on the fire, brilliantly vibrant shooting stars, and live fiddle music; the calm before the real storm.

Day Two:

The clouds had settled in and there was menacing thunder in the distant, taunting us with occasional rumblings. Well, we in the Gaddis clan are no fair weather campers; so we brewed the coffee, popped the top on some champagne, and donned our river bikinis, even the men, just kidding. We were in it to win it, rain or shine.

We reached the river and went about optimistically setting up our sunshades, chairs, and various colorful floating objects. Hudson and I stuffed his baby chub into an ultra sun proof body suit, covered his noggin with an adorably blue sunhat, complete with earflaps, and smothered his remaining skin with absurdly expensive organic baby sunscreen. Yes, it was sprinkling by this point, but the sunrays are most intense when it’s cloudy, right? With Hudson in his full sunny summertime getup, I plopped him down on the edge of the shallow sandy bank and handed him a bucket full of exciting new beach toys. Happy as a baby with a boob in his mouth!

We have snakes in Texas. Rattlesnakes are usually the biggest concern, but on a Texas river we have an even more unnerving slithering creature to contend with, water moccasins. Rattlesnakes have no desire to go head to head, or mouth to foot, with humans, but will strike when startled. Water moccasins are nasty brown territorial serpents that will spot you from across a river and swiftly come over to not so kindly tell you you’re on their turf. Because of my rational, but paranoid fear of snakes, the brown swimmers in particular, I consider myself truly blessed to have not seen one of these slimy devils at this river in over ten years. My blessed luck was about to change.

The first sighting was made by my father while walking through the young vegetation that had popped up along the river’s edge, since the last time we had dipped our toes in this slow moving water. Dad was in search of rocks to pelt over to the thickly forested other side of the river, where our rope swing and the snakes hung out. As he was slogging along, a brown biter wriggled in front of him and slipped into the water, to alert his buddies on the other side; ‘the people have arrived.’ WTF, why is there a snake on our side?! This is not good. They now had a source of shelter on our usually sandy side, which had never before existed, at least not in the past 30 years.

I tried to eradicate the panicked hormones coursing through every inch of my being and focus again on splashing around on the edge of the water with my little man. But, because I’m now a mother, I could not shift out of high alert. Sure enough, after 20 minutes of obsessively scanning the dark green water, I spotted a thick and ugly golf ball size head traveling across the water, about 15 yards from my baby, and traveling in the wrong direction. My voice then adopted a foreign shrill tone as I asked my impeccable rock throwing abilities brother, to do something. He quickly gathered a few warning rocks; not big enough for a kill, but big enough for a ‘holy s*** these walking creatures mean business’ reaction. He got in a few good shots and just to show us that he, or she, was no sissy, Mr. or Mrs. Snake would go under water for a frightening amount of time, and would pop up a few feet closer to us. As this horrifying dance was playing out I spotted another moccasin crossing the river. They’re closing in for battle, save the baby! Brother continued his rock blitz, getting just close enough to threaten them, but not close enough to thoroughly piss them off. Then, a miracle happened, they turned, and swan back to their side of the river. Thank the river gods, there was no second act to the snarling snake dance.

As my panicked hormones slowly seeped out of me, probably through all the water I was peeing out, a traditional storm rolled in. As a large group of us huddled under the non-waterproof sunshades, being thankful that the storm was not accompanied by lighting, a terrifying bolt of lighting struck, accompanied by an even more terrifying immediate crack of ear splitting thunder. I was not holding my baby at this time. I assumed he was in safe arms, but I was quickly re-saturated with panic. I waited for a shrill baby wail to closely follow the BOOM, but was met with something even worse, silence. I then looked three feet to my right and saw my dad holding my smiling baby. In that moment, I swear he gave me a ‘What? Chill out mom’ look. My baby was braver than I was; don’t tell anyone.

This ominous snap, crackle, pop rattled us all enough to cause a mass scamper up to the higher and “safer” ground of our campsite.

After battening down the hatches we waited, and waited, and nothing came. Murphy’s Law wins again. We all emerged from our caves, I gave my muddy baby a freezing solar shower hose down, that he was unfazed by, and commenced to stuff myself with sinfully creamy potluck food. Goodnight.

Day Three:

I awoke to a jump-evoking clap of thunder. Here it comes, duh duh dunnnn. The wind quickly picked up, the temperature dropped 5 degrees, and we scurried about, building a makeshift “water proof” fort we could breakfast under; because by golly we are going to feed our faces. Again, baby Hudson proved to be more of a trooper than his mama. As I huddled in the leaking corner of the fort, he giggled as the rain spattered his fuzzy head.

As quickly as it came, the rain whizzed away, and left gloriously sparkling sunshine in its wake. Quick! Dry everything out and smash in every non-card playing activity we can before the next wave of rain surges in. Spring pool hike, check. Canoe rides full of snake mimicking turtles bobbing their heads up and down in the water, check. Snake free rope swing flips, check check. Laying solar shower out, praying it gets warmer than ‘frigid,’ check. We did it, and made it all the way to dinner, downpour free!

As we sat around the campfire, receiving our karmic revenge from the mosquitoes for throwing rocks at the snakes, I felt the sense that everything was too calm. Then it happened, the burst of light on the horizon. One, two, three, four, five……eighteen. The storm is eighteen miles away. Another burst of light on the horizon. One, two, three, four, five….ten. Oh great. Here it comes. Save the coconut cream pie, and the baby.

It was not a drill, the storm descended upon us and rained down with the fury of a den of water moccasins stirred up by a raging flash flood. Cold solar shower clean baby snored through it as I lay in wait for the railroad train roar of a tornado that never came, go figure.

Day Four:

Torrential downpour, Cards Against Humanity, chocolate, and beer; in our rain fort.

Moral of this story; watch for snakes and rinse your baby in a solar shower every evening, when camping.

Mom Humor, Uncategorized

The Art of the Nap Extraction


Regardless of what the ancient Chinese texts say, I’m convinced that Tai Chi was created by the parents of a baby who would awaken at the drop of a diaper pin. These hypothetical Tai Chi creators took to laying down with their little one to get them to sleep, but would then be faced with the monumental task of extracting themselves from their sleeping baby’s presence, without waking the finicky snoozer. After numerous failed attempts, these Tai Chi parents learned how to move so slowly and gracefully, they could remove themselves from baby’s energy field without a peep, bump, or ‘ah s*** I stubbed my toe!’ But, it would take them 20 minutes to move 2 feet.

I don’t formally practice Tai Chi, but since I’ve become a self-proclaimed expert of the nap extraction, I’d like to think I’d be quite a whiz at the glacially slow form of Chinese exercise. In the beginning, I was such a novice at nap extraction that Hudson’s naps would last an average of a whopping 5 minutes, or I would be lured to sleepy land, and would wake up 2 hours later drooling, and nursing a baby who had learned to pull my boob out without my assistance, or consent. If I wanted to get anything done, I needed to learn how to remove myself from naptime, without taking the curtain of slumber with me.

Let’s compare my rookie mistakes to my now masterful moves:

#1-Laying down in the middle of the bed


Cuddling up with baby in the middle of the bed means you have a long way to roll, crawl, or shuffle before you reach the ‘almost home free’ zone, of the floor by the bed. My first attempt at squirming out from the middle of the bed ended in tears, for both Hudson, and I. I had honestly spent over 10 minutes (I was eyeing the clock the entire time,) gently scooting my body centimeter by centimeter closer to the edge of the bed. Four feet never felt so formidable. When I was just about to make touchdown on the treasured floor, my shift in weight caused Hudson to start, and let out a piercing ‘I’m suddenly wide awake now!’ wail. Joy. Back to square one.


I now position myself approximately 5 inches from the edge of the bed. This positioning allows me to awkwardly do a cramp inducing side-backbend to grasp the edge of our bed frame. I then muster all the ‘I must make it out of this bed without waking this child’ strength, and quickly roll my body out of bed in one fell swoop, all the while depositing most of my weight on the immovable bed frame.

#2-Placing arm under pillow


I sleep with an arm under my pillow, I don’t know why; I just always have, and likely always will. It’s my comfy pose. Baby naptime is no time for a comfy pose, unless I want to end up like the fore mentioned daytime droller whose infant feeds off her while she sleeps. Having to remove an arm from underneath a pillow adds a whole other element of hassle to the extraction process. Hudson has a habit of scooting himself up my body as he sleeps, which means his little head is often resting at the bottom of the pillow I’m trying to break free of. The first time I undertook this ‘arm under pillow’ extraction challenge, I was met by an ‘Ah-ha! I got you!’ slap of the baby hand. My plan had been foiled. Never move the pillow, never move the pillow, never move the pillow; it will just bring catastrophe.


I now keep my arm far and away from that pain in the neck pillow, and place my arm stiffly beside my torso, which often causes a literal pain in my neck. But, it’s utterly worth it if I can withdraw myself from the nap and gain 30 minutes to do whatever I want (aka wash dishes, fold laundry, and lay starfish on the ground in silence, without a tiny human crawling on me.)

#3-Getting under the blanket


I used to cozy on up under Huddy’s ‘blankie’ with him. He would tangle his legs in mine and the blanket would slowly tuck itself around me, forming a human burrito. Need I say more? Extracting myself from this predicament was a waking-baby nightmare. There was only one time I was able to miraculously pull myself out, and Hudson was high on post-immunization baby pain meds.


I now lay down with baby; wrap him in the blanket, and stuff a bit of the blanket in between his legs. This baby cannot sleep without something nudged between his tiny knees; I get it, it must be genetic. After I create my baby burrito, I join the party, ensuring I’m positioned in my proper escape route, without any baby waking items atop me.

The Mother of all Extractions

For this one moment in time, I wish I had hidden cameras in my bedroom. This nighttime nap extraction was the lord of all nap extractions, and I wish I had it documented for all to see, sigh. It was a quiet night in the little town of Ojai. The fan was quietly whirling, generating a light breeze in the room. Our sound machine was producing faux raindrops, and our hippie Himalayan pink salt crystal lamp was emitting a good energy glow in the room. The conditions were ideal for a deep baby sleep, and a swift mommy extraction. It all started as planned, as I initiated phase one of Operation Mommy Removal, and gingerly made my backbend move to grip the bed frame. As I gripped the sturdy frame, Hudson let out a kick, popped open his eyes, and we began a stare off. I didn’t dare blink, but decided to be bold and began a slow whisper like ‘shhhh’ incantation. The Gods must have been smiling in pity for me because his eyelids started a glorious descent, and he drifted back to the land of REM. Next, I was required to reposition my hand in order to regain the optimal pre-roll lateral stance. As I moved my hand, it landed smack dap in what I instantly knew to be a huge sticky spider web. Don’t move a muscle. I prayed to the powers that be that the occupant of this spider web, and my baby, did not wake up. My silent pleas were honored and I remained un-bit, and un-met with open baby eyes. I then began phase two, and commenced my side roll, with the intent of softly placing my feet on solid ground. The unspeakable happened, I over did my roll, and was forced by gravity to thump down on the ground with what sounded like a thunderous thud in my hypersensitive ears. I heard a little whimper from baby, and embarked on holding my breath for what felt like a mini eternity, not daring to even twitch an eyelash. After getting precariously close to losing consciousness, I initiated my stealthy Tai Chi crawl out of the room. It took me so long to transport my sloth like self out of the sleep den, I only had about 45 minutes before Hudson graced my world with his alert cuteness. But, I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment I experienced after my tumultuously triumphant extraction.