Dec 312012
 

Hello strangers! I know it’s been a while since we’ve chatted. Some of you have even reached out to see where I’ve been. And while this does make me feel a bit guilty about my lack of blogging action as of late, it also makes me feel good to know that I am missed. At least I know that if I disappeared, I wouldn’t be left alone in my house to rot and have my face eaten by stray cats, until the horrific smell alerted a neighbor. So, for those of you who care, thank you! And for the rest of you, please just make sure to feed your cats and immediately report any strange smells.

The reason I haven’t been posting is not because things have been bad, but instead because they have been really good! I have spent the last two weeks in Colorado, enjoying the snow and making memories with my friends and family. I really wasn’t planning to take a vacation from blogging too, in fact, I had all kinds of things that I wanted to write about. However, I have been enjoying my time here so much that I decided to stop writing about my life for a bit and really focus on living it.

But fear not, oh loyal readers, I have not forsaken thee! 2013 will bring a fresh, reinvigorated blog to help guide you through life with humor and wisdom. (What would you do without me, right?) A good friend has selflessly volunteered to to help me create a brand-new shiny blog for all of you to enjoy, so stay tuned. Have a happy and safe New Years Eve, and I will see you in 2013,

Aug 062012
 

If you are reading this believing that I can offer you a full proof way to make traveling with kids easy, you are either:

a)  Delusional

b)  Not a parent who has ever traveled with kids

c)  Extremely desperate

If you are c) Extremely desperate… hey, I get it.  After spending most of the past month and a half either on plane, in a car, begging my daughter to sleep, or sobbing inconsolably… often most of these at one time, I would try just about anything to make traveling with my daughter even a little easier.

I love to travel.  I wish that I would have done more of it when I was young and unencumbered. There are so many places in the world that I want to see, foods I want to taste, cultures I want to experience, and languages I want to not understand.  Yes, I love traveling, but I have come to realize that I do not love traveling with my 15-month-old daughter.

Me in Bali BEFORE baby. Don’t I look relaxed?

This summer we flew to Italy with Lyla.  She is very well-behaved, but she is also extremely curious, very energetic and besides that…she is 15-months-old.  Too old to want to sit in my lap for very long or to fall asleep in my arms, but not old enough to discover the joys of the Ipad, portable DVD player, TV, or really anything at all for longer than 3.5 minutes at a time.  She wants to run, explore, play, and say hello to each and every person on the plane, whether they are sleeping child-hating weirdos or not.  No matter how well-behaved she is, 12 hours on a plane spent chasing, playing and apologizing profusely is exhausting.

But it is not just the plane ride that is the killer; it usually doesn’t get much easier once you arrive at your destination.  It certainly didn’t get easier once we arrived in Italy.  When you take a new country, a new bed, new people, new food, new schedule and a bevy of new experiences and add that to a significant time change plus jet lag plus not sleeping for 15 hours on the plane ride, you get one cranky baby.  And one cranky baby equals two cranky parents.  You multiply that by the two weeks we were in Italy plus the two weeks it took all of us to recover when we got home, and it DOES NOT equal a relaxing vacation.

I guess that maybe our intercontinental jet-setting ways could be to blame.  Ah…if only that were true.  The truth is that it is not much easier traveling even a short distance.  After returning from Italy, I flew alone with my daughter to visit my parents in Colorado for our yearly tradition of the Llama Races.  It was only a two-hour flight and a one-hour time change, but still my daughter was cranky, clingy, and completely unrecognizable as my usually-delightful spawn for most of the trip.  Every single nap and nighttime took 2-3 hours of rocking, milking, reading, pleading, bargaining, and threatening (threatening God, not my daughter… threats don’t work on her yet.)  Most parents would agree that nap time and bedtime are some of the best times of the day (sorry Lyla, I love you, but it’s true.) These moments are the only time that you can have a real conversation, an actual meal or a full glass bottle of wine.  So missing out on this, when I had gone to Colorado to spend time with my friends and family was a slap in the face.  By the third day I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

To rub salt in the wound, my husband had to stay home to work, so I was doing all of this alone.  My husband meanwhile was sleeping in, going out, watching movies, seeing friends, and drinking many a bottle of wine and/or beer and/or vodka.  I was out-of-town, but HE got the vacation.  Not that I resent him… he works very hard and deserves a vacation more than anyone.  But to say that I was just a little, teensy bit jealous would be an understatement.  But then, I am a jealous bitch.

Ok, so here’s the part of the blog where I turn it on its head and tell you how I was able to make it all easier, or how through some incredibly special moment with my daughter, I came to realize that it was all worth it.  Sorry, friends.  Not going to happen this time.  There is no full-proof way to make traveling easier.  There is no magic device to make kids behave the way you want, when you want them to. (Sorry Apple!)  I truly wish that there was. The point of this blog is just to say that if you are a parent and halfway through your “relaxing” “vacation” you found yourself just wishing you were home watching reality TV, you are not alone.  It is tough. I don’t know if it gets better.  I hope so, but I doubt it.  I have a feeling that you exchange one hardship for another.

So, do I need a vacation from vacations? YES.  Will I ever travel again?  Certainly.  What’s the alternative?  Sit around all year drinking boxed wine and watching the Bachelor Pad?  Actually… hmmmm… tempting.  But alas, Bachelor Pad only lasts a month or two.  And besides, what could I possibly learn if I made everything easy on myself? And more importantly, what would I blog about?  The world is full of places to visit, people to meet and experiences to discover… for my daughter and myself.  And while my travels were not exactly relaxing, I did find time for a lot of laughs with friends, some great conversations with family, and many wonderful moments with my daughter.  Moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything… except maybe a staycation at home by myself.

Aug 012012
 

Every time I am at the airport I am amazed that thieves don’t come to baggage claim and steal suitcases.  There is no security… anyone can just walk in there and just grab a suitcase.  Mr. Thief could just stroll in off the street, grab the  medium-sized black suitcase that everyone and their sister’s cousin has, hightail it out of there and pray that no one notices until all the suitcases are gone.  Mrs. Missing Suitcase will then blame the airline, who will not be able to find the suitcase and then, eventually after a lot of hassle and nagging, will issue a refund for the missing suitcase.  By the time all this is said and done, Mr. Thief will be back at his studio apartment trying on all Mrs. Missing Suitcases bras and wondering what he is going to do with size XXL vacation wear.  Hey, so maybe this suitcase grab was a bust, but Mr. Thief can return to baggage claim and try, try again.  Winners never quit, Mr. Thief.

You’d be in luck if you happened to grab my suitcase.  I don’t know about you guys, but I always take my best clothes on vacation with me.  And if you are reading this and happen to be a thief, my suitcase is NOT the large red one with a red ribbon tied to the handle so I can recognize it.  Seriously… it’s not that one.

Jul 312012
 

In my family we have a tradition.  Well, we have many traditions, one of which is drinking mimosas and calling everyone we know on Christmas morning to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and then hang up before they can respond.  Drunk Christmas crank calls rule.  So my family does have many awesome traditions but one of the them is attending the Llama Races in the small town of Fairplay, CO where my parents have a cabin.

If you have never heard of a Llama Race (and why would you) it involves a team of 4 humans dressed in ridiculous costumes and 1 llama racing on a 3 mile mountain trek up and down hills, across streams and over rocks.  In short, it is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard of, and one of the funniest things I have ever participated in.

My family and friends take it seriously.  We spend a year thinking up clever names (how many different puns on llama can one think of!) and stupid costumes.  We spend weeks making logos and bedazzling t-shirts.  Then we spend hours embarrassing ourselves in front of the citizens of Fairplay and the all the llamas of the region.  To us, it is not the fastest team who wins, but the best costumed, and we have been champions the past 2 out of 3 years.  (This year we were robbed.) Just take a look at Team Dolly Llama and tell me what team could possibly have  been better.

This year we may not have won, but we managed to have a great time.  The older I get, the more I realize the value of traditions… whatever they are.  I want my daughter to someday look back and tell her friends that every year her family raced llamas, and while this tradition may seem odd, it is her family’s tradition… and, well, her family is more than a little odd.

For more pics check me out on Twitter.

Jul 242012
 

They say that there’s no place like home.  But I have come to realize that I don’t know where “home” is anymore.  Tomorrow I am headed to Colorado.  The place where I grew up.  The place where my parents live.  The place I lived for 25 years.  The place I always feel instantly relaxed and yet totally exhilarated.  The place I always used to call home.  But is it home now?

Or is my home Los Angeles?  This is where I have made my family, my career, my life.  This is where I purchased a home that I loved and have filled it full of belongings and of memories.  This is home to my daughter… the only home she has ever known.  But despite living here for almost 8 years, California still doesn’t feel quite like home to me.

Here or There?  Colorado or California?  Either… or? Neither… nor?  Where do I fit in?  No longer there, but not yet here.  Am I home-less?

Or perhaps home to me is not a place but something else entirely… a person, a memory, a book, a look, a song, a smell.  Perhaps home is talking with my family over dinner on the back deck of my parent’s house.  It is sharing a bottle of wine and a lot of laughs with a good friend. It is discussing my day… good or bad… with my husband. It’s my daughter’s goofy smile.  It’s the sun on my face.  It’s an inside joke. It’s singing along to the radio.  It’s the sound of the lawn mover, the smell of pancakes, and the taste of chili.  It’s my husband’s arms.  It’s the exquisite, instantly recognizable scent of my daughter.

Home is not a place.  It is so much more.

Yes, this is home… and there’s no place like it.

Jul 102012
 

After 16 days, 3 countries, 27 hours of flight time with a 14-month-old, 5 hours of total flight time without baby, 12+ hours in a car with baby, 6 bus rides, 2 train rides, innumerable taxis, 2 sleeping pills, 2 all-nighters, countless bottles of wine, 12 gelatos, 4 lbs (a small price to pay), many frustrated screams, many, many nervous laughter outbursts (I tend to laugh at inappropriate times when I am stressed), 1 amazing wedding, 1 week with my husbands lovely family, 0 relaxation and too much laughter to count… I have returned.  And along with a small spare tire around my belly and a couple of crappy souvenirs (sorry family!) I have brought many stories to tell.  But, as I am still exhausted from everything listed above, I will start you out with the following list.

10 THINGS I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION

1.  Discovered that a baby screaming on a plane while all the other passengers are trying to sleep is NOT the end of the world.  As much as I was dying inside at the thought of being “that mom”,  I got over it.  And I am sure that the other passengers did too. Eventually. And even if they didn’t, I will most likely never see any of them again anyway.

2.  Learned the art of the afternoon nap.  Italians are very good at this.  It took me a couple of days and a couple of bottles of wine at lunch to learn, but I finally got the hang of it… just in time to come back to the real-non-napping world.

3.  Walked around in my bikini WITHOUT SUCKING MY STOMACH IN.  Hey, if 82-year-old Italian women with breasts that look like beach balls in a trash bag can rock a bikini with confidence, I sure as hell can too.

4.  Stayed up all night to confirm that, yes, currently there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Norway.  Twice.

Bonus:  No getting up with baby, who was safely with her Grandparents in a different country.  Hallelujah!

5.  Made sand castles on the beach, paddled around with the entire family on a paddle boat with a slide, rented one of those 6 person bicycle-cars where you strap your kids to the front, and partook in other various cliche familial activities I swore I would never do – and had more fun than I have had in a long time.

6.   Gained 4 lbs.  This is only notable because I expected it to be much more considering my daily meal schedule in Italy:

Breakfast:  Americano coffee with latte frio.  Brioche and toast with Nutella.

Lunch:  Salad and grilled vegetables, followed by a first course of pasta or risotto, followed by a second course of meat or fish, followed by a dessert of fruit or gelato.  All washed down with a few glasses of white wine and sparkling water.

Aperitivo:  1-2 drinks made with Aperol, such as a Negroni  (gin, Aperol, and sweet vermouth) or Aperol Spritz (champagne and Aperol)  plus nuts, focaccia, chips or whatever the bar brings to the table.

Dinner:  Another 4 delicious courses, similar to lunch, ending with fruit and dessert.

Walk around town, ending with 2 scoops of gelato. Yum.

See… only gaining 4 lbs is pretty much a miracle.  Maybe I sweat off the rest of the weight on the night the hotel air conditioning broke.  Don’t ask.

7.  Spent hours and hours walking around the small Italian town of Cesenatico in the middle of the night when my jet-lagged and over-excited daughter didn’t want to go to sleep.  AND kicked my flip-flop an impressive distance when a cockroach crawled on my foot during one of these walks.

8.  Sang Itsy-Bitsy Spider in every single accent my husband and I could think of (British, Southern, Gangsta, Spanish, Indian,  Rastafarian, Alien, the list goes on and on…) in a desperate attempt to entertain my daughter after 5 hours in the car.

9.  Saw more peni (is this the plural of penis?) barely concealed in thin spandex speedos in one day than I ever hoped to in an entire lifetime.  I’m still recovering.

10.  Learned to let it go (kind of), take a breath and just laugh when my daughter didn’t behave as I would like.  She was in a new place with new food, new people, new schedule… new everything.  Is it any wonder that she doesn’t want to sit in her high chair for a 2-hour 4-course dinner, stay seated and silent after 9 hours on a plane, or sleep when WE wanted her to even though her body was telling her otherwise?  When I would get really frustrated, I forced myself to take a step back and just laugh.  Usually.  If that didn’t work, there was wine and gelato.

Until next time… Ciao!

Jun 212012
 

A sick husband, a hivey (and thus unsleeping baby), a last-minute job, a non-functioning internet connection, a wild goose chase to fix said non-functioning internet connection, not to mention shopping, laundering, researching, packing, stressing and grooming for a two-week trip with my husband and daughter.  After the week I have had… I need a vacation.  The good news: I have an amazing vacation planned to Italy and Norway.  The bad news: first I have to get there.  On a 15 hour flight, not counting layovers.  With a highly energetic 14-month-old.  Whoever said that it’s “all about the journey” is full of poop. When it comes to traveling with kids, it’s absolutely all about the destination.

Actually I know who said, “It’s all about the journey.”  My husband, last night.  I laughed so hard that I almost shot wine out of my nose.  Of course, he hasn’t spent the last week packing, planning, shopping, researching and stressing about our trip the way that I have. He just throws his stuff in a bag the night before we leave.  It’s not his fault.  I am the one who stresses about such things.  And I would never dream of letting him help shop or pack for our daughter.  This is a degree of control that I cannot relinquish.  It might be stressful, but there is something slightly calming about knowing without any shadow of a doubt that you have 3 changes of clothes, 20 diapers, 30 lbs. of snacks, and 50 lbs. of toys for a single flight.

The prep is done.  Now all that stands in my way is the journey itself.  But I know that if things get hairy, I can just think about the destination… pasta in my belly, wine in my bloodstream, and a smile on my lips as I watch my daughter play with her cousins.  And if that doesn’t work there’s always Xanax.

 

ps.  I will be enjoying my “vacation” for two weeks, and that means a vacation from blogging… you guys are exhausting.  But I am sure to return with loads of stories to regale you with soon.  Ciao!

May 152012
 

I used to love vacation. I still do, but vacation with a baby is not the same as it  used to be.  It’s even more work than just staying home.  On the way home from my “vacation” last week, I started daydreaming about the way that vacations used to be… No work.  No responsibilities. You spend your entire day eating, playing and napping.

That’s when I realized that babies are ALWAYS on the vacation I used to have before I had a baby.