Posts Tagged ‘ travel tips ’

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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Frequent Baby Fliers

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

For all you frequent baby fliers out there, I have a travel tip. Money-wise it kind of sucks to buy them their own seat, right?  Sanity wise, it’s priceless. I had a recent dilemma on this:

I had to book a last minute ticket to Florida. Five days out and the flight was wide open. I decided to take my chances and not buy Fia her own seat. My gamble paid off. The plane was empty. We had an entire row. And I saved a few hundred bucks.

Now on the way back, there were only 4 seats left to buy, so on that leg, I bought her a ticket. I’m not willing to risk it.

But it’s a good little travel tip to keep in mind. And one more: if you have a baby who gets carsick like mine, take the barf bags from the airline seat pockets. I promise they come in handy down the road, on the road.

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Flying with Fia–not so fun

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I think I have to stop flying–at least until Fia learns to love television. Neither scenario thrills me. But at 18 months, it is becoming exhausting. I don’t dare take a night flight, because if she doesn’t sleep everyone will despise me. Plus, she is a very specific sleeper. (For naps: only in stroller in bathroom with lights off and fan on. At night: only in crib. She can also climb out of the pack n play, which now makes hotel stays difficult.)

So daytime flights are it. Problem is, it’s her time to be on the go. But on the plane, she has to sit. I don’t let her roam around, crawl on the floor or kick the seats in front of her. That would make me the person I used to hate. I refuse to be that oblivious/obnoxious parent. She’s allowed to crawl on me/my seat and that’s it. However, it’s soon going to drive me to drink…or at least drink more than I already do.

Case in point: On a recent flight I took this self-portrait.

Why flying with a baby isn't so fun

After 2 hours of trying to get her to nap, she finally succumbed. I was both shocked and victorious. Problem was, she slept on me. There I sat for 90 long minutes, scrunched against the window, knees up, legs spread. I looked like I was at the gynecologist or giving birth.  I sat right by the bathroom, so many a passenger got a glimpse.

I also had this stupid cough that came out every time I lied down–or scrunched– as the case was here. I knew I couldn’t chance my stomach lurching up and waking her. I managed to reach into the diaper bag with one arm and find the organic lollipops to suck on. I had searched all over town for them– much to my husband’s annoyance. At least that mission wasn’t a complete waste of time.

My tip of the day from this trip: don’t wear jeans with holes in the crotch. That was my only saving grace. And don’t travel alone with an 18-month old. Wait until they are well on they way to becoming addicts of television or better yet, portable video games. And by the way parents of older babes–when does that milestone happen? I need to have some sort of travel to look forward to.

fi in suitcase

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Baby’s First Not-So-Cute Milestone: Diaper Rash

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I’ve just jumped over another hurdle—one involving a nasty diaper rash (hers, not mine)–I need to add a crucial item to have on hand: Cornstarch. But don’t follow my example on how to use it. Here’s why:

In the past two weeks I feared arrest. Twice. Not because I was a bad mom. In fact, just the opposite. I felt so bad for the little munchkin and her red bum. I carefully applied the creams, but the diaper rash wasn’t going away as quickly as I hoped, so I added cornstarch into the mix. Apparently you sprinkle it in the diaper and it absorbs moisture. But “sprinkle” clearly isn’t in my vocabulary.

I should pause here and say I have a tendency to overdo certain things.  Like if someone tells me a wrinkle cream will get rid of crows feet, I compulsively apply half the bottle at once, hoping for a miracle.

On our way into the city to refinance our apartment, I dumped probably a quarter of a box of cornstarch in her diaper (my rationale is the diaper is white, so I can’t see how much goes in). Three subway trains and a 4-block walk later, I knew she desperately needed to be changed.

Already late to the appointment on the 23rd floor of a posh bank building, I dashed into the bathroom (no changing table. Damn, hate it when that happens), quickly put a mat on the floor and ripped off the diaper. Cornstarch went flying. I mean everywhere. It turned me, Fi, diaper bag and surrounding area into a blanket of white.  I prayed no one would walk in. I began picturing the FBI, my arrest and subsequent headline: Mom Spreads Anthrax While Baby Battles Diaper Rash. I tried scooping the massive excess off the floor with a paper towel, but it didn’t make a dent. The bathroom looked like a blizzard had hit.  I conceded defeat and walked into the conference room, looking like we had both jumped into a giant silo of flour. I apologized profusely to the woman who was kind enough to promise she wouldn’t call the authorities.

A few days later we were at LaGuardia, about to fly to Wisconsin, where my father in law (an Episcopalian Priest, nicknamed “Rev”) was baptizing the babe. I dumped a bunch of cornstarch in her diaper (clearly I’m a slow learner), got through security, and had to change her. The bathroom was tiny so I went to an empty gate. Out came the plume. Seriously?? How bad is my short-term memory? This time I envisioned the TSA coming after me. They would lock me up. We’d miss her baptism. I’d be condemned by all who know me. Panicked, I tried to rub it into the dark blue carpet as best I could. No luck. I needed an industrial vacuum. Or an escape plan.  I grabbed Fi and fled the scene.  We boarded the plane, and at 30,000 feet breathed a big sigh of relief (actually she slept).  And, the next day, the diaper rash was clear.  Maybe there’s something to compulsively using cornstarch??

A Must Have!The baptism was a breeze. After it was over, she looked at me with her impish little grin, as if to say, “Mom, this is nothing. Relax. You already baptized me twice— in cornstarch.”

So my tip to you moms who battle diaper rash: Cornstarch. Put it in the nest. Just don’t follow my lead. Now it’s your turn. What works for you? What are the things you can’t live without?

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Travel Fiasco–My Scattered Self

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I swear something happened after the birth of my child that has affected my brain circuitry.  Lord knows I want to be a good mom. I try and multitask with my husband, baby and job but…

3 WEEKS AGO…

–I took our cat, Wayne Sanchez, to the vet and paid $300 to find out he is still obese (He barely fits in his Sherpa bag). Then I ran errands. The next day my keys were missing. For nearly a week I searched while pretending nothing was amiss. After pressing our apartment buzzer every time I came home, Phil asked me to fess up. Then he said I need to focus more. True. I need to be more aware. True.

Wayne Sanchez and his co conspirator

Wayne Sanchez and his co conspirator

To redeem myself, I took a time out and sat in a quiet corner. I tried to retrace my steps, mentally. Wayne rubbed against me -boom! I had it, the Sherpa bag! I felt like I had just won the Pulitzer Prize for Missing Things. I called Phil on his cell and shouted, “I FOUND THEM IN WAYNE’S FAT CAT CARRIER!” “Um, okay, I’m in a meeting.” He wasn’t nearly as excited as I was.

2 WEEKS AGO…

–I was really trying to stay focused; I wanted Phil to see my improvement. We went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and, whilst in the tropics room, he asked me to hold his Ray-bans. Instead of putting them in the diaper bag, I made what I thought was an intelligent decision… I held them so I didn’t accidentally crush them in the bag—something I’ve done before. I was smitten with myself. We walked outside and he asked for them. I looked into my hands – they had vanished. Poof! Just like that.

“A palm tree must have plucked them from my palm,” I said, attempting to joke.

Sigh. I went back into the jungle and crawled on all fours, searching Bougainvillea’s and Bromeliad’s to many a strange look. Nothing. If anyone goes there and finds them in the foliage, please let me know.

1 WEEK AGO…

–I blew so many fuses in my brain that I needed a circuit breaker. We were at the airport, checked in and at our gate. I went to change our seats while Phil watched Fi. The counter agents had me leave our boarding passes for them to work on. I went to sit down and Phil said, “you’re being paged.” Huh?

Before he could spit out the next line – Now what did you lose? – I bolted. Think. Think. Think. What. What? What? I had my laptop. Fia was accounted for. I looked in my purse. OH MY GOD. MY WALLET IS MISSING. My bolt turned into a sprint. At security they said it wasn’t their page, that I must have left it at check-in.  I got to the counter, hunched over, gasping for air. “I’m the o-o-n-one wh-wh-who left my wallet.” As I said this I realized I was holding half a bottle of formula. No clue why. It just added to the absurdity of it all.  The agent told me another worker had already taken the wallet to my gate.

As I began to run back to security, I stopped dead in my tracks. I turned towards the agents and frantically wailed: “I don’t have my ID to get through! My flight leaves in 20 minutes.”

They must have taken pity on me, because a very kind, calm agent took me by the arm.  “I’ll help you honey. It’s hard being a mom,” she said, as she glanced at the seemingly random half full baby bottle. We cut to the front of the line and she explained to TSA the problem. They asked for my boarding pass. Time once again stood still as the realization hit me: MY BOARDING PASS IS AT THE GATE. My entire torso began gesturing towards D-15. I was nearly hysterical. As my arms waved madly, formula began to bounce out of the bottle, spraying others – I swore I heard one woman say, “She needs a Xanax.” They called TSA supervision. I whimpered my pathetic situation to them, and they let me through.

I sprinted to the gate counter past a bewildered Phil and into the arms of yet another kind agent who was standing there—smiling– with my wallet.  Dripping in sweat and panting, I tried to explain all that had happened. “Slow down and breathe,” she said, “Motherhood is hard – Just don’t forget your baby!”

I dejectedly walked back to my family. “What the hell is going on?” Phil asked.

I begged, “Don’t be mad at me. You have to promise. Even they (gesturing towards the agents) said being a mom is hard.”

Fia, obviously unaffected by Mom's commotion
Fia, obviously unaffected by Mom’s commotion

“Okay, okay, just calm down. You’re kind of making a scene,” he said. True again.

“I left my wallet at check-in.” If my head had hung any lower it would have hit the filthy floor of LaGuardia.

He patted my leg. Fia hugged me, then bit my knee and laughed.  I began to breathe. We boarded. I collapsed into my seat and slept the entire time.

YESTERDAY…..

– I didn’t lose anything.

TODAY…..

– So far so good.

LOOKING AHEAD….

–I booked a woman’s yoga retreat this winter. In Belize. My justification: I need to learn to focus. Phil didn’t buy it, but he did give me his blessing (He probably needs the break). It will be my first trip away from Fi, so at least I know I won’t lose her.

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