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Monday, October 8th, 2012
I loved my mom-cation. I am not sure if the official definition means vacation without your kids, but I did the opposite. Fia, Emmett, Courtney, Teddy, and I loaded up and went on a short trip to San Diego for two nights last week. I did it because my nanny was off, and I was scared of getting bored and antsy in our 100-degree non-air conditioned house.
I wrote a blog about it and my favorite tweet back was from @MothaKim, who totally understood. She said, ”I preferred our 15hr road trip to Chicago over 2hrs spent at the mall with them.”
I SO get it.
I realized a few things on this getaway. With another mom there, even though she was taking care of her own, it felt easier than if a spouse had been with us. That’s because moms just seem to “get it” more. The schlepping didn’t bother us. In fact, we double-schlepped. The hotel we stayed at the first night was full so we had to move to another one for the second night. Instead of griping, we embraced it. It allowed us to see two different properties and assess whether we’d go back. (Answer: Paradise Point: yes–for the pool and the accommodations. Beach was full of pine needles. The Catamaran: probably not. Rooms old. But bay front convenience and beach were far nicer).
I think with a spouse, it would have felt like more work. Or you could easily get resentful. Probably both. Why am I doing all the packing? Phil, did you remember the sippy cup? Answer: NO. Cue eye rolling and storming off to “do it right.” You know, the typical martyr behavior that is oh-so-easy to get sucked into.
The other thing I realized was slightly more profound. I don’t think I need full-time help.
We got home on Saturday. Turns out, my nanny had to take off more days this week. I didn’t have an escape plan. So I just decided to Mom-Up. (Cassandra is beaming at my progress.)
I had to return a rental car, get my car out of the shop (20 miles away), get a tire fixed, get Fia to swimming then gymnastics…taking Emmett along for the ride…all before noon on Monday. And guess what? I did it just fine. With both kids. Okay okay, it’s not like I haven’t done stuff like this before. But honestly, with a nanny, I often do the mundane, annoying errands on my own. Yes, it’s easier. Plus, I don’t like to drive my kids on the highway when it’s unnecessary (driving in LA still makes me nervous at times.) But the thing is, at the end of the da,y I felt far more accomplished than I have in a long time. Almost proud of myself. Oh, I also had 2 families over for dinner (yes, Courtney and Teddy were there. Told you we were inseparable).
I wrote a blog recently about how tragedy struck a family member. I had to leave the kids for a funeral. I was worried that the household would fall apart without me. It didn’t. Now, the tables are turned. I was worried about not being capable of doing it on my own. Or at least getting super stressed out. And guess what? I did fine.
Emmett is eight months now. Fia will be 3 in December. I think it’s time to take the reigns on my own more. Mom-Up! Here I come.
Fia is having the time of her life. Rules went out the window. Clearly.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: driving, full time help, hotel, mom-cation, Mom-Up, nanny, part time help, traveling with toddler, vacation
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
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations | Tags: adventure, Airplane, beach, daycare, flight, getaway, Mom-Up, nanny, San Diego, sand, staycation, travel, vacation
Friday, July 13th, 2012
I wrote about our bad vacation decision the other day. So I figured I should add the good parts, as the barf-badness was the only hiccup in an otherwise flawless getaway. You can’t even grasp from the picture how giant these trees are in Sequoia State Park. Unreal. But real, actually.
Even the pinecones are giant!
A freshwater swimming hole. Too cold to get in, so we picnicked on a rock.
This is the ghost town (Silver City) that led to the bad road, which led to the barf.
Categories: Fia Friday, Have Baby, Will Travel | Tags: barf, Bodfish, California, carsick, ghost town, Sequoia, Sequoia State Park, silver city, vacation
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
My childhood home was set back ¼ mile from the highway on a dirt road. It was a beautiful, old farmhouse that my mother painstakingly restored. But it was secluded. I didn’t have anyone next door to play with. Then, the summer before fourth grade a new development went up. Some of the homes were already complete. Since it was paved, it was the perfect place to take my roller skates. One day while skating, I noticed another girl who looked my age–also on roller skates. We smiled in that shy way kids do. We did the “dance”…skating, then looking at each other, then skating some more. Eventually a “hi” came out. Then a “My name is…What’s yours?” Before I knew it, we were skating around the circle together.
Kirsten is my oldest childhood friend. Our lives grew apart, but she is one of those people who I can pick up where we left off. She married a Mexican man and made a life for herself in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico. She has three beautiful boys. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we have that history.
None of this is interesting to anyone, but she did send me this email the other day and her words were so wise, I had to share. I posted recently about how hard it is to let go as our kids grow. But her words were a source of comfort and strength to me. They always have been. Here goes:
Kirsten and Alex post-trip
I just survived Alex’s 10-day long school trip to the Caribbean. I didn’t go; parents aren’t allowed to. Of course, I’d have been a willing chaperon but that’s against the tradition. At the beginning of the year, we were informed that part of the graduation celebration from elementary school was a trip all around the Yucatan peninsula visiting Mayan Ruins, Cenotes (sacred DEEP water sources where the Mayans prayed and sacrificed people), Eco parks, and historical cities. I didn’t have such an indulgent graduation even from University! Pepe and I said, NO FREAKING WAY!! It’s 2012 and between the narcos and the kidnappers, potential tsunamis, malaria, and the fact that Alex has never had a swimming lesson and can only kind of, sort of, tread water, the chances seemed slim that he’d make it back in one ”tweener” piece.
Well, to make a long story short, I just lived through a parental milestone moment. Not only because of the courage we had to muster up to let him go, but because of the level of discipline I had to apply in order to put into practice all the “life changing” focusing techniques, which I preach about. Where we choose to center our minds after we catch ourselves diving straight into our deepest fears, is just that, our CHOICE. I did manage to lure myself out of those dark spaces most of time, where every stranger was a potential threat and every wave could bring with it the riptide that would carry my 12-year old out to sea. It wasn’t easy, but it was a testimony to the fact that we really do choose how we live our lives based on where we allow our imaginations to linger.
What drove me to finally agree to the trip came from moments spent in quiet and solitude. I would sit and ask, “Is this trip necessary for my son?” The answer I received was always an immediate and indisputable “YES!!” I could feel it penetrating my whole body with a sort of WHOOOSH of certainty and peace.
We usually think of our “Motherly Instinct” or “Motherly Intuition” as being a built in warning system that helps us swoop up the baby just in time or to take the long way home today rather than the freeway “just in case.” It’s often our personal, physiological hotline to the Big Guy or Gal who helps us keep our little chicks where they belong–in the nest where they are safe and warm. But this new stage is teaching me a whole new realm of Motherly Intuition which I’m betting will help me through Alex’s adolescence, which in essence, is a gradual letting go of the sweaty little hand which once clenched mine with fervor and insecurity.
Rather than maintain our antennas on full alert looking for dangers, we can allow our intuition to work for the positives as well. We can ask “God,” our “higher selves,” “our guides,” our dead grandmothers, the purple elves–whomever it is that we tend to connect with in our deepest moments of silence–whether something is right for our kids. “Right” doesn’t mean that they will never get hurt or have problems and challenges. But if it’s done in the highest interest of our children’s growing process, then don’t we need to honor that? When we receive a “Yes,” as I did, then we have a space of knowing and faith to come back into when the unavoidable monkey talk starts up, reminding us of all that could go wrong.
So Alex returned sun-tanned, a little taller (at least he seemed it to me), and completely decided to be a world traveler someday. And maybe he will be. What role this trip will have in his life, I can never know, but I am sure it will have one. We can’t know our children’s destinies and I believe that it’s wrong to try and define the subtle edges of their gifts. Our role as mothers is to hold their hands as they discover that for themselves.
There will be more than enough people out there who will try to tell our children what they are and are not capable of. Meanwhile, developing and trusting our motherly intuition is the greatest gift we can offer in a world so steeped in fear. It was the true reason I was able to let go of Alex’s hand last week as he boarded the bus in the school’s still-dark parking lot at 5 am. Not without tears of course, but with the surrender that only comes from the gentle grace of knowing.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations | Tags: danger, independence, letting go, mexican, mexico, milestone, milestones, narcos, parental milestone, travel, tween, vacation
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Damn, three weeks in a row and I’m still writing about my own milestones. I hope this means I’m vastly improving myself. Either that or I’m getting dumber and need more fixing.
Sometimes I really think we suck as parents. We decided to take a last minute mini-vacation. Saturday we started looking for hotels and cool places within a 6-hour drive from Los Angeles. We’re hotel snobs and all the places we wanted to stay were sold out. After exhausting the morning, we gave up. Then Phil had an idea.
“How about Sequoia National Forest?” he shouted from the office.
“How far?” I shouted back.
“Looks like only 3 hours. I found a cabin with a private pool.”
Done. We threw ourselves into a packing frenzy and headed out the door.
As soon as we were on the road, our old-life, (pre-kids) started knocking. We have always loved going off the beaten path. We’ve trashed many a rental car by finding dirt roads and rural routes to ding up the paint and ruin the shocks. Once in Hawaii we went off-roading so badly that we nearly rolled our rental jeep. With kids, we don’t take dangerous driving risks. But taking a scenic route with what looks like a 2-hour detour to see an old ghost town? Totally within the realm of reason.
A few weeks ago, we went to Palm Desert. On the way home we took “the scenic route” through Joshua tree. A 2.5 hour drive turned into a 7-hour one, with temperatures hitting 102-degrees. Poor Fia and Emmett were troopers, but by the time we got home, we were hot, exhausted, and dirty. Whatever “rested vacation feeling” we had was left behind on a cactus. You’d think we would have learned our lesson.
We take off on our detour towards Silver City. Turns out it’s a ghost town made up of relics from other ghost towns. In short, a tourist site. Having said that, it was still pretty cool to see all these old buildings and let Fia run around obsessing over spider webs from the 1800s.
Pre-Barf Ghost Town
I looked at the map and told Phil that the shortest route appeared to be through the mountains. You can’t tell on the iPhone how twisty the roads are. But you can guess where this is going. Two hours later, with each turn getting sharper, I start to feel sick. No sooner did I say to Phil, “I’m feeling queasy” did the projectile barf of Fia go splatting all over the back of my seat.
We had a half-pack of baby wipes and one small bottle of water and about a gallon of barf. There wasn’t a house, a store, or a gas station within an hour of us. Yup. We definitely got our wish. We were in the middle of nowhere.
We pulled out Fia, getting covered in barf ourselves, reassuring her through her tears that it was okay. We tried to wipe the barf off the car seat bedding, the safety straps (where vomit was stuck in all the grooves), and of course Fia, all the while cursing that we should always have paper towels in the car. Or at least napkins. Or maybe a better f–king plan where our own selfishness doesn’t dictate. We used all the baby wipes but 3. We saved those for Emmett. (Oh right, nearly forgot about him. He slept through it all. God, he’s good.)
We got Fia as clean as we could, promising her the pool in a mere 90 minutes. That’s like 90 years to a kid. Nothing we could do but forge on at about 5 mph with Phil practically walking the car at each turn. The windy road ended 3 miles (30 minutes) later.
At the cabin we all jumped in the pool, letting the residue of barf and guilt wash away. The water was heaven and all the playing made up for our stupidity. But seriously, no more of this ridiculous decision making. We have to remind ourselves that with babies it’s not about YOU. I think after this trip we finally acknowledge that.
Image: Windy Road via Shutterstock
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday | Tags: baby barf, carsick, ghost town, milestone, milestone monday, milestones, parenting, Sequoia, silver city, travel, travel advice, travel fiasco, travel with baby, travel with toddler, traveling, traveling advice, vacation, vomit