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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!
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Airplane, beach, Big Island, crib, hawaii, pool, sand, spontaneous, sun, swimming, toddler toys, travel, travel tips, vacation, villa, Whales | Categories:
Cynthia's Guest Blog, Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, shares a great gift idea that travels the world.
With the holidays fast approaching, Jill asked if I’d like to write something about my charm bracelet. Giddy with the thought of enticing others to start their own charm bracelets, I was more than happy to oblige. Now it’s 2:45 in the morning, my brain is fried, and I’m questioning my enthusiasm. But here goes:
I love my charms. I started my bracelet about 10 years ago when my husband and I moved to Germany. Over the years I’ve traveled the world with it. I’ve planned trips to augment it. I’ve lost it. I’ve found it. I wrecked my friend’s BMW for it. (Not my fault!) I even ran across a country for it.
Okay, so Liechtenstein is itty-bitty, but run across it I did. Our course meandered from the Austrian to the Swiss border through a spectacularly beautiful Alpine valley. It was a memorable and fun eight miles, though purely a ruse to get my friends excited about a 500-mile round trip for a half-inch blob of silver. Fortunately, Liechtenstein was charm-friendly.
It’s a quest to find the quintessential charm for each place I’ve been. A gondola from Italy, an elephant from Thailand, a Taweez (talisman) from Iraq, and a Ganesh from India are among my favorites.
The most coveted are those with moving parts—the hula girl with the grass skirt that swishes and sways; the windmill with blades that turn; the beer stein with the lid that opens and closes; the Swiss cowbell with a miniature clapper so inordinately noisy I had to glue it down.
My bracelet is a travelogue of all the places I’ve visited. It’s a transportable collection. An instant conversation starter.
It pains me to admit this, but my beloved charm bracelet is also bothersome beyond belief. It’s heavy, for one. A no-joke one-arm workout. And it jangles to the point of distraction, for another.
It also pokes rakes my wrist if I wear it more than an hour or two. But the worst part is that it gets caught on everything. The darn Minoan Goddess with her pointy little snakes-that-may-as-well-be-fish-hooks is the principal offender. Clearly I’ve offended her highness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve gotten my arm hung up in some impossible position…I’d buy more charms.
Collecting them is oh-so-much fun. In fact, I have not one, but two charm bracelets. Apparently I’m into self-torture. I justify it though because I had no choice but to split out the domestic and international charms when I could no longer lift my wrist. I know, it’s a terrible problem to have.
I’ve charmed numerous friends, Jill being one of them, into starting bracelets of their own. And when Fia was born, I bought her a bracelet and her very first charm. I think (and Jill agrees) that it’s a sweet and unique baby gift! Think holidays, everyone!
Of course, I’ve also started collecting charms for my daughter. She’s only 2, so I haven’t mapped out the details. And she hasn’t been to 40 countries like I have. Yet. I don’t know if I’ll save them up and give them all to her when she turns a certain age (I imagine her opening the box and squealing with delight), or if we’ll collect them together on our family’s travels. Both options hold appeal.
Either way, I look forward to sharing many charm adventures with my daughter.
If you, too, share a love for charms, tell me about your collection. Or if you’re interested in starting a charm bracelet of your own but have questions—from where to find charms to how to attach them—leave a comment and I’ll tell you what works best for me.
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Airplane, baby on plane, bracelet, charm, charm bracelet, christmas, gift, Holiday, jewelry, present, silver, tradition, travel | Categories:
Cynthia's Guest Blog, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Tricks and Tips
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
Barf. Poop. Pee. Fly.
Those four words about sum up my latest airplane excursion with my two babes. I should clarify: my SOLO airplane excursion. As in, no Phil to help me.
I took Fia and Emmett to New Orleans to visit my Aunt Nancy (a.k.a. Baba Yaga, above). It’s a 4-hour flight. I bought two seats, toddler headphones, and an iPad.
This is the first time I’ve flown with them by myself. In Fia’s first year, we went on about 20 flights. I had it pretty down, but I would never say it was fun. I did think my experience as a veteran would help. But it didn’t. Because I’m not a veteran of flying with two kids.
I got to LAX. I check the boards: Flight Delayed. Of course. It said by 20 minutes. At least we were in the terminal and not on the plane for the delay.
We get breakfast. I am slow moving and calm. A picture of peace and tranquility. We sit down to eat. They are both doing great. I have a moment of clarity. Wow, we are off to a stellar start. I kid you not: at that exact moment, Emmett projectile vomits. I hear a collective gasp. I look over to see a table full of young, single, European men staring at me slack-jawed. I look at Em. As the world’s happiest baby, he is giggling. And covered in goo.
“Sorry guys,” I say.
“Well, at least he’s laughing,” one of them remarks. The others just look away.
I pull out my favorite burp cloth and begin to wipe up the mess. Since Em was in the stroller, everything is covered. I throw the burp cloth in the garbage. I don’t even care. I’m not having this, I think. Stay calm. Breathe. This is no big deal.
Then Fia, who no longer wears diapers, screams, “Mama, I have to poop!” I once again see the horror in these men’s faces. They will never procreate. I have single-handedly helped reduce the world’s population.
I scramble like a bomb is about to explode. If I have to clean up sh-t in her pants, then I swear, I’m not getting on the plane, I say to myself. All my inner calmness goes out the window. The real me is back. We rush to the bathroom, nearly knocking over a man with a food tray. I am pushing a barf-laden baby in a barf-laden stroller and dragging an almost-pooping toddler in her almost poop-filled underpants. Why didn’t I just put her in Pull-Ups this morning? I curse silently.
We fly into the bathroom just in time. Thank god I had back-up outfits. At this point, Em is the only one who needs one. We clean up, I get my calm back, and we go to the gate. 10 minutes later:
“Attention folks. There’s been a gate change.”
Groan, grimace, move.
We get to the new gate. Flight now delayed 40 minutes. We sit for about 20. Then:
“Attention folks. Really sorry about this, but there’s been another gate change.”
This gate is completely at the other end. I really must have been truly horrible in my past life.
Finally, an hour later, we board. Which means we land in New Orleans smack dab in rush hour. We will have an hour-plus ride in the car getting to my Baba’s house near Slidell.
I manage to get us settled for about 13 seconds before I see the lucky passenger who gets to share the row with us. I could see his face change as the stages of grief hit: sadness, denial, anger, horror. I smile apologetically. Yup, you got the short straw dude. Sorry.
I am already cursing myself for not buying Emmett his own seat. Since sitting still isn’t part of his genetic make-up, I put Fia in the middle and Em and I at the window. As soon as we take off, I boot up the brand new iPad and Fia watches Olivia. Emmett falls asleep. I look around. Can this be? I pull out my Kindle. I look around again. Am I actually going to read on this flight? I do! For about 20 minutes. I feel like I’ve won the Olympic gold. Moms don’t get to read on planes, right?
About 40 minutes in, Em wakes up and never calms down. He never cries. Instead, he shrieks in delight, jumps up and down on my thighs, pounds the window…I mean, the boy is out of control in his happy energy. I figure people can’t be pissed because I have the world’s happiest baby, right? Fia continues to watch the same episode of Olivia 11 times. In a row. Obsessive or normal toddler behavior? Not sure. Don’t care.
Before we land, I take them to the bathroom. Fia’s backside is soaked. She has peed her pants. I also don’t care. In some cultures people drink their pee. So there.
We disembark, run into Baba’s open arms, and make our way to her bayou home where there is a pet bird, a pet dog, a wild frog, a wild lizard, a toy truck, and a bottle of wine waiting (the latter for me). Vacation is off to a stellar start.
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Airplane, barfing baby, flight, flying with baby, ipad, plane, traveling with toddler, vacation | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
My nanny has to be off the rest of the week for personal reasons. Of course, when I first found out, I panicked. I know, I know, I can hear Cassandra in my head: Mom-Up like the rest of the world. Well, I am. Just not in the traditional sense. Two words:
In my previous travel-obsessed life, I would get antsy if I were home for more than a few weeks. Since moving to LA and having a house–oh, and a second baby–I have barely traveled beyond the perimeter of our neighborhood. To give you an example: Fia was on something like 18 flights the first year of her life. Emmett, so far, has only been on one (for his baptism). He doesn’t even have a passport yet. Gasp.
Cleo’s time off is actually perfect because I feel a bit antsy right now. I mean, with kids, the routine is so, well, routine, that I find myself getting a bit bored; wanting to shake things up. I decided the best way to do this was to flee–with babes in tow. That way I don’t have to watch the clock. Instead, we’ll all have an adventure. And room service. Time will fly whether it’s a disaster or not, simply because it’s a break from the daily grind.
I enlisted Courtney and Teddy to come along too. We’re heading to San Diego. We got a hotel right on the bay, so the kids can frolick in the sun and sand for a couple days. Our room goes right out to the shore, and since it’s the bay, there are no waves. I am convinced there won’t be much “work” involved. Because if any of you have taken your babies to the beach for just one day, you know how much labor it takes. Umbrellas, towels, chairs–all for a mere two hours. Then you break it all down to rush home for a nap. Or because your kid is hungry. Or you’re all overheated and cranky. Possibly all of the above. My beach experiences with two kids haven’t exactly been serene.
I know this all probably sounds whacked, because I’m sure lugging all the crap and three kids down to SD for a 2-day getaway will be exhausting too. But at least it will be 2 days worth, rather than 2 hours worth. So there is more payoff in the effort (at least that’s what I’m telling myself.). Plus, to stay home in a non-air conditioned house with a baby who won’t take long or regular naps just doesn’t sound as fun. (I’m sure Phil will appreciate the house to himself.)
So folks, I’m checking out the rest of the week. Wish me luck on my version of Mom-ing Up.
Picture at beach via Shutterstock
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adventure, Airplane, beach, daycare, flight, getaway, Mom-Up, nanny, San Diego, sand, staycation, travel, vacation | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations
Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
The week before last a tragedy hit my extended family. The loss has been tremendous. But throughout the grieving process, you find moments of humor. Something my mother-in-law said to me is one of them.
We were leaving her house after Emmett’s baptism, heading to the airport. Phil was taking the kids home on his own while I went on to South Dakota. I was rushing around in a panic, telling Phil everything he had to remember to do for the kids while I was away. I was calling Cleo, explaining everything to her as well (as if she isn’t there every day already. Hello control freak!).
We got in the car and I turned to his mom and said, “Whew. This is going to be hard. I hope Cleo and Phil will be okay on their own.” To which she replied, (and yes, I’m putting this in bold), “You know what is really hard? When you come back and realize they’ve held it together just fine without you.” AAAHHHHH. Eh. She was obviously speaking from her own experience and we both burst out laughing. Thing is, she was absolutely right.
I am happy to report that I got home and my kids, my husband, my house, even my cat–were all unscathed. Thriving in fact.
It feels good to know we can laugh again, even in the worst of times.
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