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Thursday, February 21st, 2013
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.”
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!
Categories: Cynthia's Guest Blog, Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: Airplane, beach, Big Island, crib, hawaii, pool, sand, spontaneous, sun, swimming, toddler toys, travel, travel tips, vacation, villa, Whales
Monday, February 11th, 2013
When I first found out I was having a boy, I kinda freaked. I was so used to the girl thing. Boys seem so rowdy and wild. Fia is a little on the wild side, but a wild girl still seems tamer than a bouncing boy. Obviously I had no choice in the matter and got over it.
Then Emmett came into the world. With a penis. Which meant I got peed on constantly in the beginning. I learned fast. As he grew, his first sounds weren’t sweet little coos. They were more like caveman grunts and groans. I swear once when he was snoring, I looked to see if old man hair was growing out of his ears. He is that much of a boy.
In the first 6 months our pediatrician told me she has never seen such an “active baby.” At one point she suggested OT (Occupational Therapy) to give him tools to calm down. In the crib we call him Thumper because he lifts both his legs and thumps them down–hard– over and over again until someone comes in.
The thing is, I didn’t do OT or get frustrated because he does all this with absolute glee. He has an energy that is pure joy. He laughs incessantly. He even giggles in his sleep; I want his dreams. He plays cheerily by himself for up to 45 minutes; I want his focus. He cries only if he’s hungry or tired; I want his temperament. And despite his almost constant active state, he is incredibly affectionate. He loves being held. He loves falling asleep on me in the Ergo or being carried around on my hip. He loves to burrow. He is my little koala bear. And he’s delicious.
Then there’s his beauty. Deep set blue eyes, a wide brow, olive skin, and an angelic face. He is the kind of baby where I get stopped in the street. “Where did you get him? I want one,” they say. But there is only one. And he’s mine.
Phil says I shouldn’t brag about his looks. But I’m not bragging because it’s more than just his appearance. It’s his whole being. He makes old ladies laugh and shop clerks smile. The beauty of being Emmett is he spreads his spirit. He radiates his golden energy from the inside out. Truly. I am smitten.
So now he’s 1 year old. We made it through the first year and came out laughing on the other side. And since I’m now a veteran mom, I know what’s coming. I know it only gets better and better.
Fia’s my girl. The connection to my soul. Emmett’s my boy. The connection to my spirit. Together they are the connection to my heart. Both have a vital force that sustains me, keeps me grounded, and reminds me what’s important in this life. Both are giving me the honor to share this journey with them.
Happy Birthday, Emmett and Welcome to Toddlerhood.
Friday, February 1st, 2013
I am sitting here typing with one foot elevated on a bag of frozen blueberries. My butt is resting on frozen corn kernels. Over my elbow is a wine sleeve, typically used to quickly cool down a bottle of vino. My elbow is now replacing wine. How sad. I am in pain. I fell.
But the bigger story is this: I fell while holding Emmett.
It happened yesterday afternoon. I was carrying him down our stairs. I always wear my indoor crocs around the house because my feet get cold; I hate to think of walking on dirt (cue the cleaning obsession) and most importantly, for traction. But yesterday I came in with both kids and just slipped my sneakers off, leaving my socks on.
I was on the fourth step up from our brick landing when my feet simply gave out from under me. Our floors were recently polished, so they must be extra slick. Emmett was in my right arm, against the banister. Fia was at the bottom. As I felt myself falling, I pulled him tight into the crux of my side, falling hard on my elbow (the one that was holding him) and on my tailbone. My left hand went out to the wall to try and slow the fall. Somehow my left foot got jumbled up in the mess too. In the three seconds or less this all happened, so much went through my mind. All about Emmett of course. The theme of thoughts: “Oh god, please don’t let him get hurt.”
When my mom was alive, I told her about an incident in Costa Rica when Fia was 18 months old. Phil and I were walking to the beach from our hotel. It was down a steep concrete road. It had rained the night before so it was slick. He was carrying Fia much like I was carrying Emmett yesterday. He slipped on the concrete, both of his hands went down and Fia rolled out of his arm, head first on the pavement. I was about 5 feet behind and screamed. So did Phil. “Oh my god, oh my god,” we both said. She instantly started crying, which was a relief. No one wants a quiet, still baby after that. Phil felt truly awful, horrible, terrible. We rushed her to the ER (have you ever been to a third world hospital with your kid?? Yikes. Though I must say, even with limited equipment and supplies, they were so kind) where they x-rayed her, observed her, and after 5 hours let us go. She was fine.
When my mother heard this story she said, “You wouldn’t have let go.” I was kind of defensive. What? Huh? Phil is the most loving, responsible Dad I know. She said simply, “I know he is, but trust me. Moms just don’t let go.”
Now who really knows? Phil did slide down on a slant and his arm was probably only 12 inches off the ground when she rolled hard onto the concrete. It’s not like he instantly dropped her from chest height down. And the same thing could have easily happened to me, or worse. But there is a theory out there among moms that our instincts kick in differently in this sort of scenario.
If an intruder came into our house, I know I’d run and hide (with the kids) whereas Phil would meet him head-on. It’s the protection-of-family instinct that men have versus the protection-of-baby instinct moms carry. Do you guys agree or am I talking out of my bruised bottom here?
Anyway, I am so relieved to say that besides being shook up, Emmett was totally fine. Before I got up to see if I could walk, I sat on the floor in a stunned state, holding him and calming Fia down too (she had been at the bottom of the stairs and clearly frightened). When Phil came home he insisted I go to the doctor. She only confirmed what I already knew: no broken bones and even if there were, nothing they can do about a toe and a tailbone. (Though you should see my butt bruise. It is the deepest purple I’ve ever seen. Pretty, except…well, not really.)
Thus, here I sit amid frozen fruits, vegetables and my beloved wine sleeve. I feel especially achy today; I think simply from the trauma of it all. Your body and your psyche take a hit. However, my spirits are still up. Probably because when a “what if it had been worse” scenario happens, you are so grateful for your lucky outcome. But it is a good reminder of how much things can change in just one second or just one step. And true or not with moms versus dads, I’m grateful for my instinct that held him close, protecting him from what could have been.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: broken bones, bruises, cleaning obsession, dropping baby, fall, falling with baby, mom instinct, protecting baby from fall
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
I hate perfume on women and cologne on men. I didn’t always. When I was, oh, 10?, I got Jean Nate after-bath splash. When I was maybe 12, I graduated to Love’s Baby Soft. At 16, I know I used some horrendous smelling thing with a name escapes me. I think my mind may have blocked it out. I dated guys who wore Polo cologne. I remember that was a “selling p0int” with my girlfriends. “Oooo, he wears Polo!” we’d whisper. I don’t judge myself because I was, well, a teenager. Plus it was the 80s and perfume was in, patchouli was out. Unless you were a Dead Head. Which I mostly wasn’t.
Anyway, I digress. It’s now 2013 and I often wonder when all these celebrities endorse a perfume, who is buying them? Old ladies? Must be, right? I think my generation is mostly into natural scents and aromatherapy like lavender and rosemary. My younger friends say they don’t wear perfume. If they did, they say it would be Jo Malone, which none of them can afford. So perhaps in a push to get the infant generation interested in manufactured smells, Dolce and Gabbana released its latest product. You ready for this?
Perfume for babies. Yes, infants, babies, wee ones. I guess they want to get them hooked early. I mean we all know how horrible babies smell right? The B.O. from their mature sweat glands is enough to send you running. In fact, I know most people just leave their babies for days at a time because they can’t stand the stench. The good news is the perfume is alcohol-free. The bad news is it’s still made with chemicals. Something every baby should be saturated with, right?
Quoting from the Today Show, here is the following from a doctor:
“Babies and people who have babies should not wear fragrance,” Dr. Gordon told TODAY.com. “There are chemicals and toxins labeled as ‘fragrance’ in these products that can cause children to have respiratory reactions.” He adds that even though most of the formulas that make up baby perfumes are alcohol-free, it’s the components that create the actual scent that are the most potentially harmful to a baby’s developing respiratory system and sensitive skin.
Is D&G ridiculous or what? I shouldn’t even waste my time writing about how stupid this gimmick of an idea is. I honestly don’t care that much because no one I know would be the type to purchase this idiotic product anyway. It’s simply unnecessary. What irks me is the idea that babies need perfume!
If you don’t have a kid, let me tell you something: their skin is like sniffing purity and perfection–if there were such a scent. Their hair is like sniffing heaven. Inhale their breath and you get an instant high. Basically a baby’s smell gets you closer to God than anything else I know of. Why in the world would you buy a $45 bottle of chemicals to change that?
I won’t even hire sitters who wear heavy perfume. I did once and as soon as my child stopped smelling like my child and more like the beauty counter at Bloomingdales, I let her go (there were other reasons too, so let’s not jump on this sentence and turn this blog into something it isn’t, i.e.: another nanny war).
I am obsessed with Emmett’s head. I often have him in the Ergo (baby carrier on my body) and I smell him constantly. It’s just instinctual. Each night before I go to bed, I pick my babies up, hold them tight and inhale them. I feel their rhythmic breathing as they snore gently on me. It’s like having a natural dose of Ambien. If I could bottle up their smell–their essence–maybe I’d be onto something. But I would selfishly keep it for me and me only.
I know it sounds like it, but honestly I’m not anti-perfume. I know there are probably some really light, non-offensive fragrances out there. My mom always wore White Shoulders. To this day if I smell it, it takes me back to happy moments with her. It’s just that perfume is not for me and definitely not for babies. So until researchers and product manufacturers figure out how to bottle up your own baby’s scent, they can all go smell themselves.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read, The Sitter Chronicles | Tags: baby sitter, baby smell, cologne, Dolce and Gabbana, Ergo, nanny, perfume, perfume for babies, scent
Friday, January 25th, 2013
Today is my darling boy’s 1-year birthday. Wow. I have lots of thoughts, but will write them down next week when I have a moment (like I did when Fia turned three). Right now I am cleaning up crumbs from a great cupcake celebration just with our family and Phil’s brother who is visiting. Figured I’d post these pictures really quick while they are napping!
Happy Birthday Baby Bubsy! We are so glad you joined us in this world. The journey of your first year is complete. You are pure joy. And a beautiful birthday boy at that.
And because we can’t forget about the Fabulous Fi… here she is, captured in mid-thought. I just love this picture. I feel like she looks so grown up!
This was earlier in the week on a jog with Emmett… the fresh air always puts him fast asleep.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Fia Friday, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: 1-year birthday, birthday, cupcake, jogging stroller, journey, sleeping, three year old birthday