The “Girls’” trip

No boys allowed. Not even Clark

I always question people who say they are not close to their siblings. Like, why? I’ve already shared my love letter to my brother, but I also have two older sisters, and I talk to them all the time. Every summer, my mom, 2 sisters, sometimes my sister-in-law Lakon, our combined 4 daughters, and I go on a beach trip. We first started this tradition when my eldest sister was in high school, and then it was interrupted for a few years while she and my other sister were in college, med school, grad school, etc. Basically they were too busy building their fabulous lives to go on vacation with me. Those bitches 🙄.

The girls’ trip. No boys are allowed. Not even tiny ones. I mean, think about it. Guys always want to do things on beach trips instead of just relax. Also chicken salad and fruit aren’t enough to satisfy them for lunch. So, basically they aren’t allowed to come and poop all over our trip. Seat’s taken, you can’t sit with us, bye Felicia 👋

Anyway, when Katie (#1) was pregnant with her first baby, we started up the tradition again. We stayed in a hotel on that trip, and Katie was all, “I’m cool, no worries. Y’all can watch TV while I sleep. It won’t bother me!” Five minutes later, the room next to us was being a little loud. She shoots up out of bed, grabs her slipper from the floor and begins smacking the wall, “BE QUIET!!!” She promptly lay back down with her eyes closed. Anna (#2) and my mom and I exchanged glances, turned off the TV, and wordlessly went to sleep at 7 pm 🤫. No one wanted that wrath (or slipper) directed at them.

We’ve since mostly stayed in condos, occasionally hotels, and most recently at my parents’ new beach house. We eat chick food, are supremely lazy, and laugh a lot.

One year, we were staying at a condo in Gulf Shores, and my niece chunked her baby doll’s pacifier off the balcony. She then cried and cried for it because toddlers are rational. We looked for ages, but never found that one. Then there was the year that Lakon had to dig a belly hole in the sand to accommodate her very pregnant belly. Then there was the year Katie took a muscle relaxer for her janky neck before playing cards and just got stupid. Probably the only time I’ve been able to beat her because she was literally moving in slow motion. I’ll never beat Anna. She’s a freak and can play a whole deck. Ugh, and last year I was about 11 weeks pregnant with Clark, and Darcy wasn’t walking yet. Toting her and our beach gear while I was miserably ill was awful, so Anna and Mom did the grunt work on that trip. Also Darcy was basically just miserable on that trip. She was demanding (surprise, surprise), and hated the beach after about 30 minutes. We tried to make it more bearable with a baby pool for her to play in. My sister Anna had to blow that bad boy up and ultimately it did nothing to convince Darcy that the sand and water were not the devil. Anna still bitches about that.

This year, we had our first stay in my parent’s new beach house. It is just beautiful, and I swear we had the best time! I should mention that Katie is a gourmet chef. Seriously, she is amazing and everything that we ate was sublime. My favorite was a sea bass dish she made. Also she mixes fabulous cocktails, and I was the only one to benefit because Anna is pregnant and my mom doesn’t drink at all. Katie and I also took the kids crabbing one night, and it was hysterical. Katie’s daughter is a beast at catching things and crabs are no exception. Anna’s kids–not so much (God bless ’em), but seeing all of them chase after those crabs was hilarious. We then took the golf cart off-roading. Not exactly intentionally, but memorable all the same. I really haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Anna has had a difficult pregnancy and doesn’t need to carry anything but herself, so Mavis, Katie and I carried all our gear to and from the beach each day. This wasn’t a problem until one afternoon where Darcy decided she needed to be carried across the sand. I told her, “No.” Cue the full-on meltdown. She screamed from our spot on the beach all the way to the boardwalk. We passed by a tent of people laughing and they pointed to her and said, “Does she happen to be about two?” “Uh, yes. How ever could you guess?” They just laughed and said, “Darcy, what’s wrong?” Darcy cut them an evil look and continued to sob. But guess what? The next day when I told her no, she didn’t cry (as much). So, I’m counting that as a win. 

My mom plans all these precious parties for the girls during the trip. She picks a theme for every night and it was just the cutest thing. The first night was a barn party, the second, a unicorn party, and the final night was a pink pirate party complete with a scavenger hunt. It was so much fun! The adults had just as much fun as the little girls. My mom really is amazing. She cares about all the little details and makes everything so special. She’s always been that way, and I strive to make similar memories with my babies.

Ladies, if you weren’t so fortunate to be born into a girl-tribe, then you’ve gotta make your own. Pick your friends and hold them close. Go on the beach trip. Help your girl out when she is big and pregnant and basically useless, and forgive them when they’re being a bitch (never me). Cook the amazing food and laugh at each others kids when they faceplant during a tantrum. Go off-roading with the golf cart. Make fun of each others hairy arms and talk about everything from Jesus to snissing to sex and all topics that fall in between. You can google snissing if you don’t know what it means, but if you’ve had a child then you’ve experienced it.

If you were born into a girl tribe, then you are lucky. Super lucky. Foster that relationship and love each other hard. Just because you aren’t close now doesn’t mean you can’t build that relationship into something worth having. Look, I love my sisters, but I definitely still argue with them. For instance, two weeks before the beach trip I told Katie she was uncompassionate and sucked at being a sister. Three days later, I apologized and told her that I knew I was actually being crazy, but she still sucked and was old AF. It’s all about balance, you see. I love these women so much. I mean, they’re control freaks and judgmental and not nearly as funny as I am (God bless ’em), but I love them and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am #blessed.

When the Rayner family does Ikea

For the last couple of months, Ben and I have been discussing what to do concerning nurseries. Darcy and Clark will at most be about 21 months apart, and she’s still in her crib. Now we have an extra dresser, nightstand, etc. But we need another bed and another bookshelf and possibly a glider. What KIND of bed has been a topic of discussion and research. See, another crib seems like a kind of good idea. It keeps Darcy nice and trapped in her bed (she’s made no effort thus far to scale the sides to freedom). Then again, spending money on another crib seems kind of stupid when we’d likely be transitioning her out of it in the next few months anyway. Decisions, decisions, and of course everyone has an opinion:
“Do NOT transition that baby out of her crib until she’s three. You won’t sleep once she realizes she’s mobile.” “Oh we transitioned our baby at 18 months! It was no big deal.” “Do it before Clark gets here. That way she can get used to her new bed.” “Wait as long as possible. Put her in the big girl bed a couple of months after Clark gets here.”

Blah. Blah. Blah. Not that we aren’t appreciative of other’s opinions, it’s mostly that conflicting opinions are often unhelpful. With no clear-cut answer, we decided that Darcy will move to a big girl bed before baby Clark gets here, and Clark will get the crib. Now…what kind of bed to buy for Darcy? A toddler bed or a twin bed? Ben thinks Darcy is too small for a true “big girl bed,” and I kinda agree. I mean she’s not even 25 pounds at 18 months old. She’s still my baby! So, I looked at toddler beds, and I thought most of them kinda sucked. Until, I was FB stalking a girl I went to college with and somehow ended up on her sister-in-law’s profile and saw that her daughter had the perfect bed. I know, I know, that sounds super weird and creepy, so I took it a step further and I actually messaged sister-in-law and asked her where she got her daughter’s bed. Yes, my old sorority sister’s sister-in-law that I’ve never met. Funny enough, she actually responded and informed me that it was an IKEA bed. I then spent the next 20 minutes finding it on the IKEA website. It was called the Minnen, and it was beautiful. The price was really good–like $80, and it is a pretty, white, iron bed. It’s also a toddler bed, sort of. It’s the width of twin, with an adjustable length. So it can be short like a toddler bed, extended a little longer than toddler-bed length, or a full twin length. “I’ll just order this sucker online!,” I thought. Shipping alone was $100. Um, no, thank you. I will not order this sucker online. So, when we went home the following weekend for my 10-year reunion (holla Magnolia class of ‘07), we took the trip to the new Memphis Ikea. Ay yi yi.

IKEA. Land of Scandinavian inventions and efficient, cheap furnishings. Land of unknown. Land of insane layout. Okay, if you have ever been to an Ikea, then you get it. If you haven’t, allow the following paragraphs to enlighten you and to also prepare you.

I had heard that Ikea was an experience, but I had also semi-prepared. I knew what we were going for: the bed and the mattress required for the funky lengths of the bed. No window shopping here. My research was done, son. So we get up on Saturday morning, and head out sometime around 10:00, getting out to Ikea around 11:00. It’s huge, man. This Ikea building thing is massive with a big ole parking lot, too. It’s not that crowded and we walk in. Immediately Ben is all, “What is this? Where do we start?” You see, when you walk in, there’s kind of a lobby area with a big sign numbered 1-29ish. Under each number it says something like “lighting” or “living room” or “kids furniture.” Bingo. Section 9: Kid’s furniture. Now where did we find section 9? Well, apparently, you can’t just walk to aisle 9. You have to “ENTER THE SHOWROOM” and traverse through sections 1-8 to get to section 9 in a strange labyrinthy-type of manner. Luckily we brought our stroller and Darcy was successfully contained as we whipped around “kitchen,” “living room,” and whatever else occupied sections 1-8. As we approached “kids furniture,” I saw it. The Minnen (cue angel-music). Darcy’s eyes also lit up as we approached. I looked at her to try to see which toy she was looking at. She wasn’t looking a toy or at any of the other 6 beds on display. She too was reaching for and enthralled by the Minnen! “Let her out, Ben. Let’s see what she does.” He unstrapped Darcy, and she immediately crawled into the bed and gave us her cheesiest smile. Silently congratulating myself, I was thinking, “She loves it! Ha! Ha! My job is so easy. Great minds think alike, little one.” She rolled all over the bed, sooo excited.

ikea1

Now Ben asked, “So where is it? The bed? Where do we grab one.” Well, I knew that we picked it up somewhere else, but I wasn’t sure where exactly. I grabbed an Ikea person and asked, and he told us to write down the aisle number and bin number on the display Minnens’s tag. So we did, and then he told us to follow the signs to the warehouse. Yeah. The signs to the warehouse pointed us to walk all the way through the cafeteria and sections 10-29. What. The. Crap. Is there not a quicker route? No, actually. There isn’t.  You go to Ikea, you gon see ALL of Ikea. I knew this was going to be bad because Darcy LOVED this bed. Leaving this bed was going to cause a tantrum as we walked through the remainder of Scandinavia’s ultimate warehouse. I looked at Ben. He looked at me. We nodded in agreement, and he grabbed up the small human. The small human thrashed, screamed, and attempted bites as we took her away from her newly favored playground. Held like a football, Darcy was walked through the crowds in the cafeteria (it was now lunch–of freaking course it was), and through sections 10-25 where she finally calmed down(ish). Everyone was made aware–Darcy was here, betches!  Ben was SO understanding and accepting of Ikea’s ways *snort* and proceeded to complain at every section we breached. “What the hell kind of design is this? Why are we still walking?” Insert eyeroll emoji. Get over it, Ben. We are getting a bed and mattress and duvet and duvet cover for under $200. Shut it, boo.

We get to the warehouse where Darcy wants to run amok and act like the heathen we pretend she isn’t. I leave Ben to deal (don’t worry, karma is a swift hag), and just go to the aisle and bin I’m supposed to, find what we want and flag Ben over to come grab it. He does, we buy it and we go home, tra la la. HA! Not exactly. Because while Ben checks out, I take Darcy to the car to get her in her car seat, settled, and out of the way for loading. We get to the car, and she goes into full savage mode at the sight of the car seat. In her defense, we had driven from Baton Rouge the night before (5 hour trip), and gotten in the car this morning for the drive to Memphis (1 hour trip), and she was hungry. AND basically because of who she is as a person, she just could not deal. So, there I am in the Ikea parking lot, pregnant as hell, sweating to death because it’s Fall in the South, and actively manhandling my surprisingly strong, extraordinarily pissed-off toddler. It was AWESOME (see my earlier karma statement). Finally, I muscled her into her carseat about the time Ben arrives with our stuff. It was then that we discovered that the box for the bed was too large to fit in my car. Like not going to happen in this lifetime. So we had to open the box, get all the pieces of the bed out, WITH the instructions (see, I was on my A-game), and rearrange everything, so that the pieces wouldn’t bang together on the way home. It took about 15-20 minutes in the heat and everyone was in an *incredible* mood by the time we left.

All things considered, I count the trip as a roaring success–I mean my bar of expectations is set pretty low, behavior-wise. We got Darcy a whole new bed set that is really, really pretty and girly for under $200, and we didn’t have to pay shipping. And we had the experience of Ikea which Ben would like to repeat never. Although, he did find this particular gem particularly amusing: cinnamon1

Shall we take a closer look?cinnamon

Like “Good call, Ikea. Without that disclaimer I was totally going to sue you for the misrepresentation of cinnamon roll size. I would like to pay $1 to eat cinnamon roll forevah, please.”

Personally, I found Ikea strange, yet oddly likeable. Not unlike the first time I ate sushi. To all parents who are parenting tyrannical toddlers, I salute you. It really is fun and funny and we’re gonna have awesome stories from it. Plus, Darcy really is a sweetheart. She loves to play and run and just be a crazy person more than anything. Right now we just have fits when the fun has to end. The days are long, but the years are short, and I am so thankful to spend them with my sweet Ben and my precious Darcy. Love to all.