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Archive for September, 2010

Despite the many trials of taking a child on vacation, I did, in fact, have a good time.

Once C adjusted to the time change, and I adapted to living out of one room, we began to find a rhythm to our days.

1. We figured out a solution to the eating situation, which largely meant me anticipating C’s needs and feeding him before the hungry whining started.  It also meant that we could never eat alone.  By the time I was finished feeding C, he was more than ready to get up and go, leaving my stomach empty and rumbling.  Having my family entertain C in shifts actually allowed me to finish a meal! Miracle! I don’t even get to do that at home (for example, I ate half of my spaghetti dinner out of the pot while putting things away after C was done).

2. Nap time=mommy time. C getting up every day between 4:30 and 7:30 meant he was ready for a nap no later than 11.  And for whatever karmic reason, each nap was two hours! I finished 4 books and 4 magazines in ten days.  No dishes, no laundry, no beds to make. Amen!

3. The pool was awesome! We visited the pool everyday after 3pm.  Why after 3, you ask? Well, I am lily white, my son is slightly less blindingly white, and the sun is both hot and strong in Hawaii.  Going in the late afternoon minimized the time we spent in the sun at its worst.  Also, for some reason, most tourists liked to be out at the pool in the middle of the day, sweating their behinds off (I don’t get it!).  So the pool was much less crowded and lounge chairs, in the shade no less, were available.

I would spend half an hour to forty-five minutes playing with C in the wonderful water and sand, until a family member would relieve me  so I could read, doze and enjoy a cocktail.  It was heavenly.

4. The iPad wasn’t actually created by Apple and Steve Jobs. It was made by God as compensation for challenging children.  Trust me on this.  Buy one and you’ll see that it is literally heaven sent. We would not have survived dinners out or long afternoons hiding from the heat without the innovations of the iPad.  we just had to prop it up on the table and C could watch his favorite movies anywhere we went.  Crisis averted!

(on a side note: I could happily go the next five years without seeing “Milo and Otis” again.  As charming as Dudley Moore’s narration is, one can only watch a dog and cat suffer obvious animal cruelty as they “frolick” through their adventure.)

Now that we’re back, life may be a little easier but it’s missing those few moments of blissful relaxation one can only find in Hawaii.

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It’s been roughly a week since I got back from vacation, and yes, it took me all week to get back on track.  By that I mean I literally finished the last load of laundry earlier this evening.  I don’t know if I have ever had that much dirty laundry at once….ever.  I hope not to repeat it any time soon.

Aside from the mountains of dirty clothes my son and I created while on vacation, we also had an excellent time.  Well…mostly excellent.

Nobody warned me how much work it was to take a child on vacation.

Every child rearing book, every mommy website touted the pleasures of family vacations:

How great it is to get away with your kids! How much they’ll enjoy the adventure! How you’ll treasure every new experience together! Yay! Memories!

(And, oh wait, you’ll need to bring a mountain of stuff with you…..and buy a mountain of stuff once you arrive….and the baby may not be too happy about a new environment/time zone/schedule. But aside from all that, it will be totally awesome.)

First, let me be clear, I DID have a lovely time.  It was just the first few days that were pretty rough.

We had a tough time adjusting to the time change, initially.  C’s “at-home” wake up time is usually around 7:30 am, which is totally acceptable.  However, Hawaii is three hours behind us, so 7:30 became 4:30.  As in 4:30 in the morning!! As in two whole hours before the sun gets up! Not my favorite time of day.  But really, whose favorite time of day is it?

This horrendous wake up time thus negatively affected our entire day.  It made dinner nearly impossible, as C was so exhausted by 6 pm that he was ready to go to bed without eating.  Each day I struggled to keep him awake longer and longer so that we might actually enjoy dinner with the family (i.e. one of the best parts of vacation).  I was able to accomplish this for the last three nights, or, as I like to think of it, just in time to completely get off our “at-home” schedule.  But at least I accomplished my goal.  That’s something right?

Aside from the schedule issues, adjusting to eating at a restaurant for every meal or snacking on ready-to-serve foods from the mini-fridge in the room was a challenge as well.  C didn’t like most of the items on the kids’ menu at the hotel and was only amenable to two of the grocery store snacks I got him.  After two days of struggling to get him to adhere to the healthy meals plan we have at home, I gave in and let C eat french fries at every meal (aside from breakfast), along with a regular rotation of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and sandwiches.  When he wouldn’t eat those, I fed him frozen yogurt mixed with fruit, or not, whichever he would get down.

Essentially, I decided my little man and I would indulge for the duration of our stay in paradise.  C can always use an extra pound, since he is only in the 25th percentile for weight, and me, well, I need to get back on Weight Watchers after my birthday next week anyways (so what’s 3 extra pounds to me?).

Mother of the year award heading my way anytime soon?  Probably not.

Oh well.  I think I’ll live.

(And to illustrate my point of schedule issues, C just woke up.  Baby Vacay Part 2 tomorrow…or maybe Monday…we’ll see…I’m definitely not super mom over here).

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Grief

I’ve debated writing this post for the last few days.  I’ve always been a believer in weathering stormy times with the help of just a few friends or family members, rather than waving the flag of grief and sorrow for everyone to see.  Whether this is a healthy belief or not, I can’t say.

But today, I ask not for your sympathy, but for your ear.  I write this post, not as much for myself, as for all of us who grieve and have grieved.  It was too important not to write.

My step-grandfather passed away over the weekend, after a long and painful decline in his health.  But today is not to eulogize him.  Today is to feel the pain before putting it aside.  Today is allowing the grief of his death to wash over me, wallowing in the sorrow of his absence, before rising tomorrow and moving forward.

As I said, his health had been in decline for some time, and theoretically I was prepared for his eminent passing.    Yet, as I heard the words, telling me what I had anticipated for so long, a wave of pain crashed over me.

The reality of his absence in my life yawned into a void within my chest.  Tears sprang to my eyes, choking my voice, shaking my hands as they clutched the phone.

For some minutes, I didn’t move, I couldn’t move.  The pain rolled in me, like a ball bouncing, bruising each place it landed on.  I tried to shake it off, offering myself the words of consolation I’ve said so many times to others: He’s in a better place. He’s with God now.  His suffering his finally over. And though those words bring me consolation now, for those first few hours they did nothing to ease the pain.  I simply had to ride it out.

But as you no doubt know, the pain slowly eases, as a breeze slowly takes the edge off a sweltering day, not all at once, not even enough to remove all traces of heat, but just enough to let you sleep.

Now though, days later, with his death rationalized and my faithful consolations repeated, my grief occasionally catches me off guard.  It will sneak up on me as I try to get through my mundane day.

Suddenly it will be there, springing upon me, with tears and breath catching in my chest.

As I wash the conditioner from my hair.

As I change the sheets on the bed.

As I fold my son’s socks.

As I shelve books.

As I say his name.

As I breath in and as I breath out.

I know from past grief, the pain will dissipate from every minute, to every hour, to every day, to every so often, eventually to almost never.

I also know that though time erases pain, it does nothing to erase love.

And for that, at least, I am thankful.

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I complain on here…a lot.  Tonight I’m going to tell you all the things I love about my new house.

Why tonight? Well, as I was giving C his bath, we listened to the Raffi song “Thanks A Lot”.  Yes, I know I am siting Raffi as my writing inspiration, but you never know what spirit will move you.

So tonight I’m thankful for:

  • The stars. I can actually see them here.  At our old house in Redondo Beach, I could typically see about two stars at night.  Though Redondo is considered a “suburban” part of LA county, it is more urban than most of the places I’ve ever lived.  Ever block is crammed with houses, stores, apartments, professional buildings, etc.  Traffic (and traffic noise) is non-stop.  Thus, when sun sets, it is often brighter after dark than at dusk, thanks to the thousands upon thousands of street lights, traffic lights, security lights, neon lights.  Here in Huntington Beach, I live on the edge of nowhere.  There is literally nothing between me and the ocean except for a few old oil derricks.  When I look out my window at night, I am greeted by the blackness of the ocean’s night sky.  All that lights my view is a twinkling line of orange lights along Pacific Coast Highway.  And in return for my journey 30 miles south I am given a sky-full of stars.
  • The hawks. I am not a bird person.  At ALL.  I think birds are rather mean, spiteful creatures, who seem to have a special hatred for humans.  Not that I blame them.  We eat their kind, so it’s understandable.  But they are still mean.  And beautiful.  Mean and beautiful.  Anyways….I hate crows.  They are especially mean, just ask a friend of mine who got attacked by one while riding her bike.  Or ask my old room-mate about how we were tormented by a murder of crows that lived on the garbage bin behind our apartment during our sophomore year.  They would sit there and caw for hours.  HOURS! Redondo was no better.  For whatever reason, there are thousands of the horrible suckers in the area.  They would land on my chimney, lean into the chute and caw…loudly, driving me and my dogs slowly insane.  We have slowly been regaining our sanity, thanks in large part to the enormous hawks that patrol our beautiful backyard wetland.  They seem to hate crows as much as I do and for that, I am very thankful.

    My hero

  • My new view.

    ahhhhhh

  • The quiet.  Part of living in a city is the noise.  The constant noise! This made my poor Penny very nervous.  She takes her job as watch dog very seriously.  A loud truck? BARK! A distant siren? Bark! A couple walking their dog past our house at 11pm? BARK BARK BARK BARK! Now, I have literally 7 houses other houses on my street, sharing a wall with only one.  There is no house behind, no house to the left.  The closest street light is over half of a mile away.  Sure, people use the trail behind my house to walk their dogs, but mostly during the day, and a good 20 meters from the house.  Penny is, needless to say, relieved.  She only barks at people who come to my door (so mostly tolerant relatives and delivery men), and any trucks that rumble by.  Thus, trash days are awful, but the rest of the week is blissfully quiet.
  • The backyard. Since moving, C’s hair has gotten noticeably blonder, I’ve actually grown tanner, and my dogs have acquired bumps and scratches from joyfully racing through the rose bushes.  My poor Dodger ended up with a quarter-inch thorn stuck in his paw! But this is not what makes me thankful.  What makes me thankful is that all my children have yards and yards of space to run, frolic and play.  It’s not unusual to see one or both of my dogs squirming on their backs in the green grass or chasing each other full speed back and forth across my now expansive lawn.  And what of C? You can find him running, laughing after the dogs as they play.  Sometimes he’ll pick up one of their tennis balls, run after them, offering it (ok, trying to push it into their mouths) as he giggles.  I honestly feel that heaven may look a little like my backyard when they’re all having fun like that.

Yes, there are many, many things I do not love about my new house, but once the renovations start I’m sure you’ll get an earful about each and every one of them.

For tonight though, just assume that I am blissfully happy with my wonderful new-to-me Huntington Beach house. And I’m more than a little thankful for the beauty God put outside my window.

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I enjoy cooking.  I honestly do.  Granted, none of the dishes I make are particularly complex, but I enjoy the time I spend making the meal and I think my concoctions usually turn out pretty darn tasty.

Usually Little C agrees.  But for whatever reason, he does not like stew.

I don’t get it! It’s one of my favorite things to make (and eat).  Who doesn’t like a slowly simmered pot of tender beef, delicious carrots, tasty potatoes, savory onions and mushrooms?  No one, that’s who!  Yet, no matter how delicious I make it, even when I up the ante by adding bacon, he just refuses to eat it.

It makes me crazy!  It’s so simple to make, I just can’t give it up.  I love cooking it in my slow-cooker.  It literally takes me only 15 minutes to set-up and voila! dinner!

But I am not about to force-feed my son, so I need to change it up.  Does anyone have any kid-approved slow-cooker meals they would like to share with me? Or you know what? ANY kid-approved recipe would be great.  Seriously, it’s getting dire around here.

Here are my requirements: no seafood.

That’s it.

Help please.

If I eat chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly for dinner one more time, I will scream.  Or if I actually cook and lovingly make just one more meal my son won’t eat, I might just set my kitchen on fire and be done with it.

Please, save my kitchen.  Send me a recipe.

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