Archive for the ‘ Have Baby, Will Travel ’ Category

Emmett in Action: Do Boys Ever Slow Down?

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

 

I’ve put it out there that I have the most active mini toddler in the world. He has been since he came out giggling and mischievous 14 months ago. Thank god he’s also the happiest. But I am in a tough stage right now if I’m out and about with them both. Thus my no-guilt revelation this week in hiring help. Here’s a few pics of my little man on the move.

Down the slide in gymnastics:

In Griffith Park biking. We have a great contraption for the kids where they can sit in the front:

Watching the LA Marathon:

About to get scratched by Wayne Sanchez…

First horse ride in Griffith Park:

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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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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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Did You Change Your Name When You Had Kids?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

After 13 married years (and many more non-married years) of exclusively being Jill Cordes, I am partially changing my name. I am going to use Phil’s last name for personal travel with my kids.

I have always been proud of my Cordes name. I have more than 90 people in my extended family, 25 of them first cousins. My father came from a long line of ranchers in Western South Dakota. Most of them still ranch there and it is a place I really feel connected to. And somehow my last name is part of that connection.

So why I am changing it? Because I feel like a partial outsider when we travel as a family. My kids and Phil all have the name Johnston. I am the odd-woman out. One time when I was traveling with Fia, we didn’t have seats next to each other at time of booking. So when I got to the gate the agent said, “Shoot. I saw that you weren’t sitting next to each other in the reservation and was about to give you the bulk heads, but then I thought maybe your daughter’s father was also on the plane and she was sitting with him.” Obviously she still managed to find a way for us to sit together, since Fia was only 18 months old, but it was the most concrete example of why I want the same last name. It just feels more cohesive.

However, I have to confess another hesitation in doing this. It’s the vain side of me. I don’t like the way “Jill Johnston” sounds. My initials would be JJ. It feels campy.

I also keep trying to picture myself typing in credit card charges, etc, under Jill Johnston. It just doesn’t feel totally right to me. Basically it doesn’t feel like me. But hyphenating would make it a really long name. I could use Cordes as my middle name, but then I either give up my middle name or have 2 middle names. And since middle names are kind of pointless, why have two of them? Especially one that is a former last name?

For now, I’m only changing the bare minimum for travel. So no one really even needs to know. I will still introduce myself as Jill Cordes.  I’m hoping all my credit cards, etc can just remain as is. I will continue to act like nothing has changed until I hear differently.

Who out there has done this? Are you glad you did? Did you feel hesitant?

It’s a big step, but I’ve sat on the paperwork for a year, and decided it’s time.

I remain, as always on my blog and in my professional life, including mommy-blogger life, yours truly, Jill Cordes/Fearless Feisty Mama.

 

Name Change pic via Shutterstock

 

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Fia Friday: Big Steps!

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Big news. Emmett took his first steps this week. Two. In a row. It was very exciting to everyone but him. We were all in Fia’s room playing. Even Wayne Sanchez. Em stood up using the rails of Fia’s crib, balanced and took the steps. We all freaked out, clapping and screaming. He plopped down on his butt laughing and looked kind of baffled in his happy-go-lucky way. Like, “Why all the hoopla?”

I don’t have any pictures to show of his steps, but I do have one of him standing proudly.

 

Emmett turns a year old next Friday. Hard to believe. Here are some more recent pics.

I took them to the zoo today. Loads of fun, as usual. (Take that all you blog bashers who called me a bad mom this week…not that I need to justify anything to those types….)

 

Fia on our way up to Death Valley. Exploring a ghost town.

Last weekend Phil and I took the babes on our backs for a 3 1/2 hour hike up some incredibly tough hills in Griffith Park. I’m the beached whale nearly passed out on the table midway through….

I swear he gets prettier by the day…he is such a beauty. And a delight. Inside and out. They both are.

The two below are a little blurry because he’s such a mover, it’s hard to capture him! He is funny! His tear duct on his right eye is supposed to open when he’s a year. Come on duct…. do it.

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