Archive for the ‘ Cynthia’s Guest Blog ’ Category

How Spontaneous Are You With Your Kids?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

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I always thought when you have kids, spontaneity goes out the window. In the beginning it kinda does. But during these early years–before real school gets in the way–I’m finding myself more spontaneous than during my pre-kid/marathon/climbing Kilimanjaro years. Take, for example, last week. We went to Hawaii. On a whim. No sh-t.

Phil got an unexpected window in his schedule last Friday–a whole, glorious week off between scripts. We looked at each other like, “Should we go for it?” I got online and began calling places to stay. With kids, we wanted a house. And I only wanted the Big Island.  It doesn’t rain there. Yes, I was picky and determined. Not an easy combo.

Every booking agent laughed.

“This short of notice? Villas book out 6 months in advance.”

After multiple calls I was about to concede defeat. Then a woman named Anne returned my call.

“I have a house that no one has rented before. The owners weren’t planning on renting it this week, but they are game.”

Done.

Then Phil and I took it a step further. We called his parents–Rev and Bev (Rev is a retired Episcopalian priest). They live in Wisconsin. We asked them to come too. It’s a place they’ve always wanted to see. And of course they always want to see the grandkids. They are almost 80-years old. Rev’s back is bad. It’s a 12-hour flight. And though retired, they still have plenty of things on their calendar. Meals-On-Wheels, Tuesday Club, Ash Wednesday, you know the drill.

Phil’s mom, at first, said No Way. His dad said Yes Way. Then apparently Rev said to Bev, “You just aren’t spontaneous.” Well that’s all it took. Spontaneity might not be her thing but stubborn is. And she isn’t about to let Rev “be right.”  She called us back. They were down. Woo hoo!

I called in a sitter and worked for 4 hours on securing a place, renting a car, and booking flights. Travel, planning, and cleaning are my forte. I should have been a cleaning lady-travel agent.

I began doing all the last-minute things you do before you go. Find someone to feed the cat. Throw in laundry. Put paper on hold. Pack. Pack more. Arrange for Cynthia Roelle to write some blog posts. (Thank you, Cindy!)

48-hours later we were on our way to 6 perfect days. We had a house with a pool and the beach in the distance.

This was last week. Now we are back and I’ve realized a few things:

  • When you book last-minute, you have no time to anticipate. Therefore, when your vacation is over, your letdown isn’t as great. I’m not writing this from a pit of post-vacation depression. Just a little blue. But also totally rejuvenated.
  • You become super-efficient in getting ready. And you accept that some things just have to be left undone.
  • It’s hit or miss, but sometimes you can get deals. Flights weren’t bad, we used miles for some, and since the villa wasn’t going to rent out anyway, we got it for slightly less.
  • You have no time to worry about the what-ifs. “What if Emmett gets a cold?”, “What if Fia won’t sleep?”, “What if my father-in-law snores so loud it keeps us all up?”
  • And if you have it, throw money at the problem. Case in point:

I found a company over there that rents everything for kids. It is an amazing idea.  For the week, I got two cribs with bumpers and blankets (taken to house and assembled before we arrived, taken apart when we left), a big tub of toys picked out specifically for Em and Fi, a highchair, beach toys, and a play yard. All for less than $300. I think that’s pretty good, considering.

Needless to say, we had an amazing time. We played in the pool every day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the beach a handful of times…

We saw whales. And waterfalls. Big and small.

We bought fresh fish from a local market and grilled. We watched Emmett walk…

…and Fia swim (yes, after I declared her swim lessons awash, she suddenly started to “get it.” And enjoy them. So we’re sticking with it for now). I sat outside one morning and read my book.  It was heaven.

Now we are back and I feel refreshed and rested. I’m so glad we seized the moment.  We did the same with our Death Valley adventure in December. So is it possible that kids make you more spontaneous? That they help you to live in the moment, embrace what’s present? I guess if you let them and let yourself. This was a big way to do it, but there are small, everyday ways, too:

Fia wants to take a different route to school so we can go past “the little blue car.” Okay, let’s do it…

We get stir-crazy, but it’s late in the day. We decide last-minute to run to the zoo. Even if we only have time to see the reptiles…

Stuff like this. Of course, if you have a husband who never knows when he can take vacation, you’re kinda forced to live impulsively on a larger scale. I am rarely bored.

I also really give Rev and Bev credit. It seems the older you are, the more stuck in your ways you become. They even took a red-eye home, landed, and went to church, then drove 3 hours home from Chicago. But I know it was worth every minute…

I feel like this way of living must keep me young. I also realize there is a difference in being flexible versus spontaneous. As parents we have to be flexible. You have plans but your kid gets sick. You cancel. But what if spontaneous could be attained by choice rather than necessity. It’s something to think about….

Consistency is good (especially with sleep/sleep training), but throwing it all to the wind isn’t a bad thing either.  It also keeps my spirit free and adventurous. I can tell it rubs off on my tots, too. For me, parenthood–and even life is general–is all about finding that balance.  I definitely think we did last week.

Until next time…Mahalo.

P.S. As a side note: I’d love to hear how spontaneous you are with your kids. Please share!

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Would You Trade Romance for Glue on Valentine’s Day?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This Valentine’s Day Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2½-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, says goodbye to roses, chocolate and romance and shares how the holiday has taken on a new meaning since having a child.

Do couples with small children still celebrate Valentine’s Day? I mean with roses, chocolate, and romance? Because we sure don’t. I can’t tell you the last time my husband I spent a truly romantic occasion together. But that doesn’t mean love isn’t the heart of the holiday.

This Valentine’s was all about our daughter’s love for glue. Man does she love glue. If something breaks she pipes up with “we can glue it!” And the more glue the better. Why use a dollop when you could use great gooey globs of it? We go through bottles and bottles of glue at our house. It’s the stuff that holds our family together.

Yet somehow this fact escaped me when I planned some Valentine’s Day crafts for me and my daughter to make together. Four. I planned four glueless crafts and she wanted no part of any of them. Somewhat reluctantly, I scrapped the plan and broke out the glue. Did she ever go to town.

This Valentine’s Day won’t go down in the annals of romance and our craft won’t be an instant hit on Pinterest. But that’s okay. It was filled with love. Okay, so it was her love for glue more than anything else but still. I loved every minute of our time together and loved watching her glue with glee. My husband loved the floppy heart craft and basked in her delight when she presented him with it.

I wouldn’t trade any part of it for all the roses and chocolate in the world. I only wish I could bottle the love and let my daughter squirt it all over the world.

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Do Vacations Equal Diet Disaster?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, shares her saga to lose the “baby weight” and reunite with her formerly slender self.

Before my husband and I had our daughter we used to travel a lot. Together we’ve been to 40 countries, give or take.

But as all parents discover, a baby changes the landscape. A simple walk in the park requires advanced planning. An overnight trip becomes a complex operation involving the repositioning of about 500 pounds of crap.

At some point you come to realize that “vacations” equal torture. There’s nothing relaxing or adventurous about them. A vacation with a little one is nothing more than an exercise of endurance. Consequently, we haven’t hazarded a real vacation in two-and-a-half years.

Then, last month my husband surprised me with a two-week trip to Ecuador. You’d think I would have been thrilled, right?

You’d be wrong. My first thought was “ah crap, there goes my diet.” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the reaction my husband was hoping for.

Here’s the deal. I spent the last two-and-a-half years being 25 pounds overweight. Last fall I finally got sick of my fat ass and decided to get serious about losing weight.

Two-and-a-half months later I hit my goal weight. I lost the entire 25 pounds.

I still can’t believe it. I keep expecting to step on the scale only to find I’ve gained it all back. Like, in one day. Or on a 2-week vacation.

I’m happy to say that didn’t happen. After we returned from Ecuador I was afraid to step on the scale. I avoided it for days. When I finally mustered the courage I found I hadn’t gained a single pound. Truly, I was in shock. Apparently, vacations do not mean certain diet disaster.

Laziness, however, does. Since we returned home two weeks ago I’ve been more than a little lazy. I can’t remember the last time I worked out and, big fat surprise, I’ve actually gained a couple of pounds.

So, starting immediately, I’m back on the wagon. I’m going to lose the lazy weight and then, if all goes well, maybe a few more pounds. I have a pile of skinny girl pants I’m determined to fit into again (even if I never actually wear them). I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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My Embarrassing New Year’s Confession

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, shares a New Year’s confession … about her underwear! Read Cynthia’s guest blog every other Wednesday.

Screw the resolution, this year I thought I’d start off with a New Year’s confession. My underwear is 50 shades of gray. I’m not talking S&M or anything remotely approaching the realm of erotica. I’m talking about the saddest assortment of shabby panties you’ve ever seen (or could imagine).

Like any woman I’ve always had my A and B sets of underwear. The former was reserved for special occasions; the latter for everyday wear. They were all quite attractive and not a pair in the drawer was gray.

But over the years (yes, years) my once-pretty panties have practically disintegrated. Every last pair has become stretched and faded and frayed. I’ve literally worn them to dull, shapeless shreds of material.

The situation reached this drab state because I couldn’t bring myself to buy bigger underpants. Granny panties, blech.

Just when I thought my underwear situation couldn’t get any worse, I started losing weight. As it turns out, elastic doesn’t zip back into shape after you’ve stretched it beyond all reason for three years. Add saggy and baggy to 50 shades of gray and you don’t get a pretty picture.

At long last, I decided it was time to spring for new underpants. Undies with springy, fully-functioning elastic. After all, I’m down 20+ pounds (a Christmas miracle!) and I’m thrilled about it.

So, I’m starting 2013 with only a few pounds left to lose and a drawer full of pretty, new undies. We’re not talking Victoria’s Secret here but still, they’re nice. I’m so happy.

I didn’t want to offend anyone with a picture of my underwear (old or new) so instead I included a picture from New Years Eve—first night out with my new underwear! (and a new dress to boot!)

What’s your New Year’s confession?

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Can You Top This Birthday Cake Disaster?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, shares her own birthday cake disaster.

I don’t know about you but I laughed the entire way through Jill’s Birthday Cake Disaster. Not for reasons you might think. I wasn’t wondering why she thought she could pull it off when she nearly failed Home Economics (though I was wondering how in the world…I thought everyone got an A).

I wasn’t wondering why she thought flipping the layers would work, or why she didn’t just let Phil buy a cake (or why Phil thought Reddi-Whip was a good idea—it wasn’t). I wasn’t wondering why she didn’t give up, or even why she wanted to do it in the first place. I’m with you Jill, I get all that. I too want to bake my own cakes for my daughter’s birthdays. All two of them, to date.

Unfortunately, I hate to bake. It requires far too much precision for my taste. It’s tedious and time consuming and after I’ve used every last bowl, appliance, and utensil I own, my kitchen is a disaster. Plus, I don’t really like cake.

Notwithstanding, I set out to make a 3-layer cake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. From scratch. I made the flowers and leaves from smashed gumdrops so it required absolutely no skill whatsoever in the decorating department, which was convenient because I have none.

I’m happy to report it turned out beautifully. If you will, please refer to the lovely photo above. I made that cake, all by myself. Please keep that in mind as you continue reading.

So the real reason I laughed my way through Jill’s Birthday Cake Disaster is because all I could think was that it could have been worse. Much, much worse.

After completing my daughter’s lovely cake, I found myself with a left-over layer. My sister’s birthday is only a few days before my daughter’s. We celebrated their birthdays the same weekend so I thought I would decorate the extra layer for my sister. After all, I didn’t want it to go to waste. But what to do with one measly layer?

My sister was turning 40, so I got this brilliant idea (the brilliance part is debatable) to chop the layer in half, smoosh the two half circles together and stand them on their sides to make a hill. Get it? Forty and over the hill?

Next, I slathered the entire blob in green icing. Only I couldn’t achieve grass green, just an unnatural mint green.

I then populated one slope of the hill with 39 candles. Using pipe cleaners, I fashioned arms and legs for each candle to make them look like little people running up the hill. The 40th candle, representing my sister, was positioned in front of the others, just over the crest of the hill. Lest the message not be crystal clear, I made a banner that said, “Happy 40th Birthday” on one side and “Over the Hill” on the other.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty funny. At least I thought so.

It takes some time to light 40 candles, so my husband, my mom and I started lighting them as soon as my sister and her husband pulled into the driveway. It was instantly clear we would have only seconds to get the show on the road.

I don’t know if my sister and her husband took time for some backseat snooky, if they took a scenic detour from the driveway to the front door, or if they were abducted by aliens and taken aboard their spacecraft. All I know is that all the candles were lit and my sister was nowhere to be found.

I yelled for my husband to find my sister and get her inside. In the next instant all the pipe cleaner people were ablaze. Then the paper banner caught fire and it, too, went up in flames. We’re talking flames that were at least 2 feet high. Still no sister.

As I stood there watching the pyrotechnics, I vaguely wondered how long I could wait before getting the blaze under control. It wasn’t until the flames started lapping the balloons hovering above the cake that I really started getting worried. Holy s–t, is helium combustible? Visions of the Hindenburg flashed through my mind. Are those balloons going to explode and burn down the house? WHERE IN THE HELL IS MY SISTER?!

Just as I decided enough was enough, my sister materialized in the kitchen doorway. She didn’t appear surprised by our little party or the least bit alarmed to see 2-foot flames shooting from her cake. Instead, she had this look of disgust on her face that said: “WTF is that hideous blob? Oh Cindy, Martha would not approve.”

Turns out, that is EXACTLY what she was thinking. That and, why I would make her a flaming pile of crap when I made such a pretty cake for my daughter. I don’t know how she managed, but damn if she didn’t blow out the candles, too.

So Jill, all I can say is yay for your effort. You can water the lawn with Fia any old day, but she only turned three just that once. It looks to me like she had a grand time, so it wasn’t a complete disaster by any stretch. At least not on the order of this:

I feel compelled to add two things that my scientist husband pointed out. First, helium is not combustible and, second, the Hindenburg was actually filled with hydrogen which, unfortunately for the airship, is highly flammable.

If you have a birthday cake disaster that can top mine or Jill’s by all means, make us feel better and share it!

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