Posts Tagged ‘ vacation ’

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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Why This Was The Best Xmas Ever

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Revelation: Christmas is best with no company!

Revelation: I’m a homebody.

Revelation: I generally don’t like people staying with us…especially over Christmas.

If you didn’t notice, I totally checked out. Why? Because I was having the most enjoyable time with Phil, Emmett and Fia. I just decided to disappear. Poof.

This year I wasn’t pregnant, we didn’t have a newborn, we weren’t traveling, and we didn’t invite anyone to visit. And guess what? It was, hands-down, the most enjoyable Christmas to date. It may even trump our Christmas adventure pre-kids to Mali, West Africa in 2007.

Yes, the extreme adventure-travel girl, people-person and people-pleaser in me just took a massive break. It was our first “staycation” and I gotta say, it was amazing.

Phil and I both realized what it means to have our own family, our own tradition, and to frankly be selfish about it.

It’s not that we don’t love our families, but just having an entire week where each day we’d wake up with the kids and say, “What should we do today?” was simply blissful. To not be mopping and sweeping up after company or planning meals or dealing with drama–that inevitably comes with family–was relaxing beyond belief.

We went on glorious hikes, we took family naps, we went to the beach and the desert. We saw friends. We watched movies.  I now understand why the word  ”family tradition” was invented.  We now have ours.

Some highlights:

Em on his new trike. His feet don’t quite reach, but he loves it anyway! A good gift to grow into.

Fia’s grandpa made her a beautiful doll bed. Santa brought her favorite friend, Olivia. Between the two gifts, she has been entertaining herself for days. I love to watch.

Olivia needs lots and lots and lots of naps. Even though Fia doesn’t want to take them herself. (BTW–this is the only picture where I think she actually looks like me. Fia, not the pig.)

A-Wayne in a Manger. (get it? The cat? He’s in the manger?)

Christmas dinner, and drinking wine from my friend Kerstin Walz, who launched her own wine label this year, Stark Wine. It is delicious. I sent it out as Xmas presents to those in my life who appreciate good wine.

Having dinner with good friend Jenn Lee. Phil is there too, but he is taking the picture. Obviously. Goal: try not to over-explain in the New Year. Like I just did.

Nothing better on a Christmas day hike than your baby falling asleep on your back. Delicious.

This may be one of my favorite pictures of Fia to date. Notice the rodent hat and the sparkly shoes. Phil graduated from Madison, so naturally he was hoping for a Badgers win in the Rose Bowl. Didn’t happen, but at least he had his best cheerleader with him.

Okay, so below is when things got really adventurous. Mid-week we decided on a whim to go to Death Valley. That blog is coming tomorrow, so check back. Here’s a sneak peek:

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Fia Friday: Babes In The Bayou

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Before Thanksgiving I took the kids on my own (gasp. Read about my horrendous challenging trip down there) to see my Baba Yaga (Aunt Nancy) outside New Orleans.

Emmett had never been to her place on the bayou, but Fia had. When she was 18 months I took her down there. What a difference another 18 months makes. The first time around she almost murdered Peg and Peepers, the lovebirds. This time it was far different. She took poor little crippled Peeps under her proverbial wing. Every morning all she wanted to do was hold him, lie with him, put him on her head…you know, all the normal things people do with birds.

 

Granted, at times she accidentally put him in a chokehold, but alas, he did survive. And not just barely…like last time. My tot is growing up and she is learning what it really means to be gentle (sorry, I’m getting mushy with her 3-year birthday on Sunday).

Oh, there were other things too…the stuff of the swamps.

Frogs…

And lizards…

And giraffes. Wait? Huh?

The giraffes are one of 3000 animals on 900 acres of land at the Global Wildlife Park. I would say it was amazing, but, well, we did think at one point we might not survive. Baba has a bad shoulder. Emmett is 9 months old. And in our private tour we took– which consisted of a flatbed pick-up with some benches and rails but nothing else–there were moments of sheer pandemonium…and a little fear that we might get eaten, or more realistically, bitten, by a zebra…or five. We didn’t realize that by taking the private tour, you get so up and close and personal, you may not make it out alive. At least if you’re with tiny tots.

Oh, and I should also mention who our guide was: an 18-year-old kid who clearly never had been around babies, at least not while four-wheeling. He was tossing us all over the place. We would be screaming in the back as we got pushed from side to side. I’d be holding onto Emmett for dear life, while trying to fight off buffalo mouths full of saliva on one-side and elk antlers nearly blinding us on the other. All the while he’d be up front, gassing the engine and yelling to us about the difference between a black duck and a camel. Or something to that effect. I honestly didn’t hear a word he said.

All he told us before he took off was, “Zebras bite, elk have antlers that can maim and the giraffes like to get into your space.” Then he plopped a huge bucket of corn down, gave us some cups to throw feed out, and went flying. By the end, we were covered in corn dust and spit from many species and utterly tuckered. I wish I could post the video…but technology isn’t my forte and I could barely keep my son alive, much less capture pictures to show the chaos that ensued.

That day was about the perfect example of how Baba and I roll. Just like we did on our Kilimanjaro adventure…laughed through the hazardous feat. Like I said before, no one quite “gets” us, but that’s the way we like it. I do think Fia is going to have that same kindred spirit with us. And Emmett, well he just goes with everything. BEST BABY EVER. And a reminder that there’s never a dull moment in the Bayou with Baba.

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Does Flying With Babies Ever Get Easy?

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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