Posts Tagged ‘ vacation ’

Fia Friday: We Survived Vacation

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Well, we did it. The four of us took a road trip (read about the prep).

“Fun” is a relative word in motherhood. But even so, yes, it was fun. Not to be confused with relaxing or restful. Especially the last day–ill-planned–that put us in the car for 6+ hours in the desert heat. My poor babes were such troopers.  All that matters is we survived and that yes, Fia had fun. And we had fun watching her have fun. That’s how I think I’ll define vacation from now on. (Em just chilled…)

Getting Ready To Roadtrip

In line at Disney

On Dumbo with Dad

 

Lunch Break!

Cooling Off at Hotel

 

Emmett Poolside

 

Joshua Tree at 102-degrees

Begging Fia to sleep on car ride home....Nope.

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(My) Milestone Monday: Do Baby Barf and Vacation Mix?

Monday, May 21st, 2012

If you don’t hear from me for a few days please call the looney bins in Palm Springs. I may be in one. My mother used to show up at the psych ward with her typewriter so she could get work done. No sh-t.

My potential disappearance is because we are going on “vacation.” It includes a stop at Disneyland. In reading that sentence, I can’t believe this was my idea.

We are heading to Palm Springs for two nights via land of Mickey. The desert is 105-degrees right now. Fia gets burnt even in the shade. She also gets carsick. Massively, as seen on our horrendous trip out to LA this fall. And Emmett barfs and farts. Constantly. This is going to be a helluva roadtrip.

Anywho, I convinced Phil to take off 2 whole days of work (Gasp! I’m not bitter…) to go to the desert. We hadn’t taken a family vacation since last May in Costa Rica. That’s when I got pregnant with Emmett. Oops. This will be a far different trip. I’m not reading 50 Shades of Grey, therefore this trip won’t involve sex. Just diapers and barf.

Right now, as I sit here in the cozy cafe typing, I feel like a smug veteran mother. I can handle this, right? The hotel asked if we wanted a suite on the 5th floor. Oh, no-no-no I said. I’m a MOM. I know better. I know that lugging a stroller with a raft, water wings, Emmett’s diaper bag, 40 bottles of sunscreen, snacks, and my Kindle (dare to dream) through a hallway, to an elevator, to the pool will take up the entire day. I’m smarter than that. I know the only way to go is a poolside room. In fact, I booked two. They adjoin. This way Fia and Phil can sleep peacefully while Em and I tackle the night.

Yes, this “vacation” is sounding more appealing by the sentence.

I had to research about 15 hotels in the Palm Springs area. The ones my mom friends recommended were full. Then there were my non-mom friends. I got a list of about 5 hotels that had things on their sites like, “no pool toys allowed.” One said, “While we welcome guest of all ages, we are a boutique hotel with an intimate setting and backdrop that is not always ideal for children of all ages. We warmly welcome dogs.”

Well folks, that definitely takes Feral Fia out of the equation. My girl who loves dirty feet and messy hair is pure Mutt. I think this hotel wants the Pomeranians. I finally found a place that has, are you ready? A Splashtopia! Whatever the f–k that means. All I know is when I saw “availability” and “splashtopia” in the same sentence I felt like god was on my side.

I have a list of everything we need to bring. Included on it are our two noise machines (one for each room) and wine. Oh no, please teetotaler moms. Don’t begrudge me on this one. It’s vacation for god’s sake. Which now means survival.

The best advice I have gotten thus far is from a friend who said, “Go with low expectations. You probably won’t find it relaxing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.”

Yes, in motherhood, “fun” takes on a whole new meaning. I know my babies won’t let me down.

 

Picture of family vacation via shutterstock

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Birds and Babies Don’t Mix

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Peepers is the yellow one on right

Fia nearly killed Peepers and I nearly had a heart attack. If your child kills an animal, aren’t their chances of becoming a serial killer heightened?

The hair-raising incident happened on a recent visit to my Aunt Nancy, who lives on the bayou about an hour north of New Orleans. She and my uncle live in a spectacular setting where jasmine grows like weeds, and crawfish populate the waters (sans oil) with abundance. I woke up to hummingbirds fluttering about and Fia squawking for Peepers.

Peepers and Peg are a pair of lovebirds. Both are boys, so I guess they’re gay. They’ve been partners for 15 years now. Peg only has one leg, thus his name. Peepers has scrunched up feet from a stroke, which means he needs to land on flat surfaces. He can’t curl his toes around a perch. Both survived Hurricane Katrina. Peepers also survived a near fatal beheading when caught up in a ceiling fan a few years back. But he almost didn’t survive Fia.

For background, Fi has chased after pigeons on the playground before, but her obsession with Peepers was unlike anything I’d seen. Nancy lets them fly about the house a couple times a day. Peepers will land right on your shoulder, or your head, and loves to have his belly rubbed. No joke.

The first—and only–time he landed on her arm, Fi squealed with delight. But before I could even say, “gentle,” she grabbed his head in her fist and took off running across the room, screaming with glee. All I could see were his legs poking out of her hand.

I gasped in horror, lunged for her fist and quickly pried it open. Peepers is yellow, but at that moment I swear he was blue. He took off in flight and Fia, thinking this is the most fun she’s ever had, ran after him again. Her fingers were covered in feathers. She tried to eat one.

“Um, this isn’t such a good idea,” I yelled across the room, cornering Fia from Peeps. “Fia, stop!” I screamed.

Nancy chimed in, scooping up a now-traumatized lovebird. “If she kills Peepers, she’ll have to kill Peg because they can’t be alone.”

Peg, upon hearing this, began to squawk, realizing his mortality was on the line.

Oh great, so she becomes a serial lovebird killer. Just what I always dreamt of for my daughter.

Luckily no more feathers were shed during our stay. But a lot of tears were. Everyday, after she grew tired of slobbering on Willy the dog, she’d go over to the cage, stand on her tippy toes and shake it—hard. She’d stick her fingers in, trying to extract even a feather. Peg and Peeps would squawk and take cover in their birdhouse. I’d pull Fia away, which would trigger an immediate tantrum. Crying, pointing at the cage, and ending with throwing herself on the ground.

“Poor baby,” I’d say. “I’m so sorry your mama won’t let you squeeze a bird to death.”

Each time we tried to supervise/teach her to hold him gently, I could see her fist tighten around his neck and I had to take him away (which of course meant more tantrums). After several more attempted beheadings we just kept them both in their cage.

I thought I’d come here for tranquility, not baby and bird wrangling.

In the end, we left with both birds still alive, but fewer feathers than before, plus a tormented child and a mama with shot nerves. I don’t think babies and birds are a great combo at this age unless the bird is stuffed.

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What Travel Does For Me…And Fi

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Before I had Fia, travel was my lifeblood. It sustained me, gave me purpose and left me humbled. No matter how harried or remote the trip, I would always come back grateful for having gone; for having left my comfort zone and experienced life a different way. It never let me down.

From the moment we started dating, Phil and I were on the same page. We wanted big careers and a life of globetrotting. We implicitly agreed that kids weren’t going to be part of our equation. To make a long story short, it was upon our return from Mali, West Africa a few Christmas’s ago that we realized maybe life wasn’t all about exploring the next country. Maybe it was about creating and adding more to the life we had here. And perhaps in the process, god-willing, raise a good child who would do good things.

So now we have Fi. And my globetrotting consists of taking her to Kidville for wiggle-giggle, keeping her from getting mangled by the cat or falling on the steps, and all the other joys that go along with parenthood.  And I dig it. Far more than getting my passport stamped. But now I am realizing I can have both. No need to choose.

When I took a trip to Belize a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if I’d be homesick and heartbroken leaving Fi. Turns out I was neither, but unlike other trips, I didn’t want to race off to another country or adventure before returning home. Five days was the perfect amount of time and just enough to make me feel alive again in my travel shoes.

It was also important for me to know that Fia could survive without me for that short time. In fact, I had my blackberry all programmed to send and receive texts, thinking I’d torture my sitters hourly. No such luck. (I’m sure they were quite saddened). We were 3 hours away from the airport in the middle of the rainforest. And once I accepted the reality that there would be NO SIGNAL, I immersed myself in all the joy and empowerment that travel brings to my life.

(Once a day I borrowed someone’s computer at the lodge in exchange for a drink and did a quick check of email. Click here to see what was happening on the home front.)

On the drive to Black Rock Lodge we passed little villages, roadside stands, and fruit and vegetable peddlers. We saw people walking along the side of the road, and waiting for the bus (many don’t own cars).  Just day-to-day activity. Life. But it was that, and things as simple as billboards and store signs that re-ignited something dormant in me.  It’s different. It fascinates. It stimulates.

Once there, we were truly in the wilderness, at a place that is completely self-sustaining, meaning they generate their own electricity and grow their own food. Check out the website to see how they do it. (Luckily they do bring in alcohol and had a fully stocked bar).

One of the women who worked the reception desk was 8-months pregnant. She had a lively spirit. Good juju. She was married to one of the managers and they live in a cabin on the property.

“How are you going to get to the hospital when you go into labor?” I asked, barely able to mask my alarm (the 7-mile road off the main highway is barely that—it could better be described as a rocky, pockmarked bike path).

She shrugged and said, “Well, hopefully I’ll labor here for awhile, and we’ll leave in time to get to the hospital.”

Of course.  What is wrong with me? I’m rusty. I had to pinch myself to remember that most of the world isn’t privy to weekly ultrasounds, hospitals within five minutes and the insistence on getting a “private bed” after delivery. By most standards, Belize is up there. She had had an ultrasound (they’re having a girl. Congrats!). And they do have the capability to perform C-sections, etc.  So while it’s different, (and I think fair to say, more bare-bones) it’s not without modern amenities.

As I hear the whir of my washer, I laugh at how good—no, I shouldn’t say good, that’s relative—about how easy I have it. In Belize, this is what we passed one day.

Baby in a Bucket

Baby in a Bucket

It’s brilliant in that it reminds me why travel is so crucial to my life. It snaps me out of my mom-self world and into one where Exersaucers, bottle sanitizers and wipe warmers aren’t part of the vocabulary. I need to make sure I never lose that perspective or become so self-absorbed that my awareness for the bigger picture disappears.

My hope is that when Fia is a little older, she’ll understand why occasionally Mom needs the adrenaline rush that comes from setting foot in unfamiliar territory. And I hope she’ll want to strap a bag on her back, take my hand, and go crossing borders with me. I bet she’ll love it as much I do.

Quick Update: Before I left, I wrote about how worried I was that Fia would miss me. I’m happy to report that she didn’t! As for that magical reunion when I thought she’d squeal with delight? Well, that didn’t happen either. I got home late and picked her up out of her crib. She looked at me, blinked, and then fell back asleep. The next morning (at 6 a.m.), my grand entrance was met with her usual crib stance, hands out, calling for the cat. Seriously. Wayne Sanchez even trumps me when I go on vacation.

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Return From My Baby-less Vacation

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Okay, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be–leaving Fi for the first time. Truth be told, it is rejuvenating to know my individuality is still intact.  I wasn’t sure, considering how much I squeeze and smother her. It wouldn’t surprise me if one day I woke up and was missing a limb because my body partially morphed into hers.

But alas, I had all my body parts with me to jump off rocks into pools of water created by waterfalls; hike the lush rainforest where palm trees soar higher than three-story buildings; canoe through caves with ancient artifacts; do yoga overlooking the jungle; and bask in the sunshine and warmth that Belize kindly gave us.

he's cute, but he's no Fia

he's cute, but he's no Fia

Meanwhile, back at home, things weren’t so carefree. Phil got sick. Then a sitter got sick and he had to scramble for a backup. Then that sitter told him he needed to take Fi to the doctor for a couple bumps under her eye (I had already asked the doctor, and she gave the universal cure: Aquaphor.  Sidenote: aren’t teething and Aquaphor the cause and cure for everything with babies?). Our regular doctor couldn’t get him in, so he spent a morning carting her to another one, losing half a day of work. And me, well, I was probably stretched out on a beautiful mahogany deck with hummingbirds, reading a book, with zero cell signal.

cut off from the world

cut off from the world

Here’s where he gets mountains of credit: once a day I would log onto someone’s computer and check email. There was always a quick update, telling me a little bit about how Fi was doing; how everything was great; and how he hoped I was having a fantastic time. Only when I returned did he tell me about his struggles.

For that, I humbly bow and sing his praises. I do, indeed, have a fantastic husband. Having said that, do I feel guilty? Not a bit. Do moms deal with this sort of thing everyday? Of course.  It’s life in the motherlane. It’s always fast, with twists and turns, and no matter how thoroughly you map it, there are times you’ll get lost.

So with that said….two days after I came home, I got hit with a wicked stomach flu. The following day Phil flew to LA for work.  Perhaps it’s penance. Or the universe laughing at me. But realistically, I think it’s just another U-turn on the map of motherhood.

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