Thursday, August 26, 2010

And We All Made it Back Alive


For someone who hopes to someday make a living at this writing thing, I certainly am not doing very much writing, am I?

I could go on and on about why I'm not as prolific as I would like to be, about how I spend the baby's sleeping hours hanging out with Chris or resting after a long day of child rearing. Or how I feel too guilty to enlist help during her waking hours so I can go get stuff done, as if she can't exist without me for an hour or two, or I her.

But, what it really boils down to is that I am lazy and lack motivation. Part of that lack can probably be explained by the fact that as my blog nears its first birthday, I'm starting to enter the crisis mode of "Why am I writing this blog? Does anyone even read it? Do I have anything worth writing about? Haven't I written about all this already?" You know the one. So, I'm trying to work all that out. In 100 degree weather, so bear with me.

In the meantime, I have been meaning to tell you about my solo-parent vacation with Charlotte! And, I know you've been waiting with bated breath, so without further ado...

I realize I haven't written about it, but a couple months ago my little sister got engaged to a very nice guy named Patrick. We like him because he's nice and polite and treats my sister very well, but mostly we like him because he makes wine for a living, and, well, we like wine. So, we were all meant to celebrate this engagement at Patrick's house in a little town near Napa. Chris and I had determined we would drive to save money on airfare, and we'd drive up on Friday so we could rest up for the party on Saturday. Then it turned out Chris had to work on Friday night, which meant we'd have to leave early Saturday morning, and he'd only get a few hours of sleep. We might not even make it on time for the party, and everyone would be sure to be in a foul mood after the eight-hour drive, especially Miss Needs Constant Entertainment in the Car. The happy couple wearing their totally cool and not nerdy shirts from my hippie dad

So, we bit the bullet and shelled out the money for a plane ticket, rental car, and one night in a hotel by the airport. It hurt a little to spend the money, but mostly I was freaked the hell out about travelling with Charlotte without Chris's help. The flight is only an hour to San Francisco, but then I'd have to rent a car and drive an hour and half to the house, up a winding road, in the dark. Not to mention dragging around a suitcase, backpack, AND a wily toddler.

Not only that, but Charlotte has been extra clingy lately, and I knew that even though there would be an abundance of family members willing to help me with her, I'd still be on my own since she won't let anyone near her besides me or Chris (or sometimes just me) most of the time. This prophecy turned out to come true, but more on that in my next post.

So, Friday afternoon the three of us piled into the car so Chris could drop us off at LAX. He walked in with us and stayed while I checked the bag and located the security line. He helped me strap Charlotte in the Ergo, took a picture, and kissed us goodbye. The dread starting setting in as he descended the escalator and disappeared from the horizon. I felt like I'd just been dropped off for my first day of school.Moments before we set out on our own

I got through the security check, but not without making it very apparent to all that I don't fly very often. I forgot to take my cell phone out of my pocket. I forgot to take off Charlotte's shoes and put them with mine in the basket. The security guard asked me if I could take the baby out of the carrier. I asked in the nicest way possible if that was totally necessary because I couldn't get her in it myself. This was true, though out of necessity, I learned how to do it over the course of the trip.

After more blunders and deference on my part and some gruff handling on her part, the security guard waved us through, and we started the long walk to the gate. I must have had the look of someone who needed to be rescued. Maybe it was the way my shoulders were drooping from carrying a backpack full of snacks, diapers, board books, and toys on my, well, back, and a 25 pound toddler on my front. Maybe it was the look of resigned fatigue on my face as I trudged up the hill toward our destination. I'm not sure. But a ridiculously nice airport employee on a golf cart drove up and asked me where I was headed, then DROVE me right to my gate. I could have kissed her. In fact, maybe I did. Who can say?

When we reached our seat I started to put the backpack containing my entire arsenal for keeping Charlotte happy on the plane, in the overhead compartment, when I hear the flight attendant get on the speaker and announce the overhead compartments are full, so carry-on bags will need to go under the seat. So, now I'm trying to shove both my backpack and my purse under the seat behind me.

Yeah. You expert travelers out there are laughing at me. Apparently, your bag goes under the seat in FRONT of you. Which the flight attendant finally told me after I struggled for five minutes as people waited to get past me, trying not to trip on the binkys and stuffed Elmos and books that were flying out of my purse. When I finally got us settled into our seat, I heard the flight attendant get on the intercom and explain to the captain that the hold up was a lady with a baby trying to get into her seat.


Oh! I almost forgot the best part. The part where I insist to the surly man that he is in my seat, only to find out that, no, he is not in my seat. And my seat is not by the aisle as I had hoped, but by a window. Trapped. Where I have to climb over two sets of legs while balancing Charlotte to get to the bathroom. Luckily a really nice (and really high) chick offered to switch with me as she wanted a window seat anyway. Presumably because it enhanced her... experience. Either way, I was grateful.

The flight was deliciously uneventful. I had a bad moment where I thought Charlotte was going to freak out during take-off. The plane started to move toward the runway, the engine rumbled, and I tried to elicit excitement out of her: "We're going to fly now! In an airplane! Are you so excited?" To which she replied, "No. No. All done?", and I was like "Shiiiiit." But, she clutched her Elmo in one hand, extra binky in the other, and didn't make a peep the whole time we were ascending. She was remarkably well-behaved for the rest of the flight and while we roamed the airport picking up our bag and renting the car. And, she fell asleep on the drive up to Napa. So, scores all around.

The weekend was great. I had a glass of wine in my hand at almost any given time. Charlotte was clingy, but charming as always. Everyone got along, and the party was lovely, complete with awesome food and awesomer wine. Charlotte and I shared a bed the whole weekend since I didn't have the playpen, and it was so sweet waking up to her little face in the mornings. She even slept with me in the hotel even though I had a crib in the room because she had gotten so used to it. When I woke her up at 5:30 the morning of our returning flight, she bolted up, pointed at the television and said "T.V.!", which just proves that I am an incredible mother.


See? With the wine glass?

The most surprising thing about this trip is how much closer I feel to Charlotte now that it's over. I kept telling Chris about how I was going to check out on Monday because I knew I would need a break from Charlotte. And, in fact, when Chris took me out to breakfast at an outdoor cafe in Santa Monica and ordered me a mimosa, I was happy to drink it and screw around on my Blackberry while HE chased her around and showed her the fountains. But, I also missed her when she took her nap and have been reveling in how much cuddlier she's been with me since we embarked on our adventure. I was so nervous about being on my own with her for three days that I didn't even think to expect that we'd have fun, just the two of us.

But, we did have fun. We giggled while waiting for our plane. We laughed during our dinner together to escape the four-hour traffic jam we encountered on the way to the hotel from Napa. We tickled and cuddled in our bed before passing out from exhaustion after our drive. Who wouldn't want to wake up to this hair?

And, she was so GOOD. She handled the long car ride like a champ. She got upset a few times, but a few repetitions of my crooning "Old McDonald" to her or handing her a snack usually did the trick. Of course, there was the time that she squeezed her fruit puree all over herself and Elmo, and kept repeating "Uh oh. Uh oh." I acknowledged that there was indeed fruit all over her face and hands and that I would clean it up as soon as I could. She kept insisting: "Uh oh! UH OH!" and then inquired, "Keen? Keen?" "Yes, Charlotte, I will clean you as soon as we stop." But that wasn't good enough for her. She kept insisting that I clean her RIGHT NOW. Because, she can eat sand and play with garbage, but having some fruit puree on her person is completely unacceptable. I finally decided that we would either die because I crashed the car while cleaning her off or because I drove it off the Bay Bridge to escape the whining, and I quickly wiped her face and hands while traffic was stopped. Then she started in with "Uh oh! Elmo. Uh oh! Elmo" while gesturing frantically to the fruit on Elmo's foot.

Yeah, that one I will deal with later, kid.

She didn't get enough sleep, but she never got too out of sorts about it. Napping was hard for her because there were so many people in the house. So, as the party was approaching on Saturday evening, I took her for a walk in the Ergo because I had this wild idea she might fall asleep in it. Which, she did! I texted Chris because I was so excited that it had worked! To which he replied, "So, what now? You just walk around for an hour?"

Oh. Right.

I was able to sit in a chair and got 45 minutes out of her. But, out of everything that happened on the entire trip, the thing that made me love her the most, the main reason I walked away from this trip feeling oh so gushy about my wonderful little girl, is this:


Nay, she fell asleep before we even took off, STAYED asleep throughout take-off, and didn't wake up until five minutes before we landed.

I know, right? I watched the in-flight entertainment! I pitied the poor mother with the crying baby, while enjoying my narrow escape from the same fate! I had to pee, but I didn't care!

So, the bottom line is that travelling with Charlotte was great...this time. She seems to have a new personality each day, so I can't say that she would handle other trips as well, especially longer trips. But, this trip was good. And, I learned from it. You wouldn't have recognized the calm, prepared, and organized mom on the return flight as the one who was holding up the line and dropping toys all over the plane a mere two days before.

Then again, it was only an hour flight. All the organizing in the world ain't gonna help you on hour four of a six-hour flight when you've run out of snacks and your kid is screaming about wanting to watch Dora instead of the romantic comedy they're playing.

I think I'll make sure Chris is with me on that flight.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Travel Edition

As Charlotte and I shared a blueberry scone at Starbucks this morning, three cops walked in for some coffee, and I suddenly got really nervous.

Then I remembered it isn't illegal to take your child out in public in her pajamas. It's just embarrassing.

In my defense, what she wore to bed wasn't technically pajamas; it was more like a t-shirt and yoga pants. But since I wasn't taking my 17-month-old to yoga class, I guess you could call it a fail.

We had a rough night. Charlotte woke up three times last night before finally waking up for the day around 5:30. I was up at least five times including trips to the bathroom and reaching for the aspirin for my headache that got progressively worse before its climax of tear-inducing throbbiness(Totally a word. Look it up. Except...don't) when I realized I was up for good.

Due to the crappy nature of the morning, I decided to give myself permission to go for a coffee even though I'm supposed to be on a budget. "It'll be nice!" I thought. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to bring more than one binky. Charlotte's new obsession is with having two of everything, especially binkies. If you give her one, before it's even in her mouth, she'll inquire, "Twoooooooo?" So, she screamed all the way to Starbucks this morning since I was so ill-prepared.

I should nap when Chris gets up, but I probably won't. I am so stupid when it comes to getting the sleep I need. And, then it bites me in the ass on days like this. I'll try to make myself sleep, but I also need to pack.

See, Charlotte and I are flying to San Francisco tonight, renting a car, and driving to Napa for my sister's engagement party tomorrow. I'm a little nervous about negotiating the airports and rental car station, etc. with no help from Chris. But, I figure an hour flight is a good way to break me in for bigger trips in the future. I'm going to miss Chris a lot, but I am excited for the trip, and I think I will feel proud of myself when this is all said and done.

Maybe this will sound ridiculous, but I feel almost guilty about the fact that I get so much help on a daily basis from Chris. It feels like I'm cheating at being a stay-at-home mom, which makes me feel like I have something to prove. This is all really stupid.

I'm going to see about getting this kid to nap. She is driving me crazy, and of she doesn't watch herself, I may just "accidentally" leave for the trip without her.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Mundane

I'm far too tired to write a proper blog post. So, instead, here is a list of things that happened to me today. Some of them will explain why I'm too tired to write a proper blog post, and some of them will not. Enjoy!

1. Charlotte slept for ten hours before wanting a diaper change and to nurse, then slept for two more hours! I realize this isn't the best way to evoke your sympathy, but hear me out. While Charlotte may have had an awesome night's sleep, I did not. I had a terrific headache that lasted all through the night, plus my bladder is a wimp, PLUS I made the mistake of checking my Blackberry during my 3 A.M. potty wakeup, got a confrontational response to a blog comment I posted, and began to compose my rebuttal in my head. None of these are conducive to an awesome night's sleep for me.

2. I took Lotte to the mall (Have I ever called Charlotte "Lotte" here before? It's my preferred nickname for her because it reminds me of Victorian England.)Anyway, I took her to the mall for some shoes and for a little play time at the indoor playground since it's too effing hot for the park these days. We walked by a cart with a pushy salesman who practically dragged me to his chair so he could straighten my hair with an overpriced ceramic device and then try to sell it to me. I fancy myself pretty socially capable, but this guy made me SO uncomfortable. Between his close-talking (Seinfeld, anyone?) and his insincere flattery, not to mention the all too obvious sales lies: "This sale will only last a few more days! I'm the manager, and I don't usually give this deal to anyone. I'm gonna throw in this $50 hair spray!", I was a little disgusted with him. I know it's their job, and they need to make a living like anyone else, but GAH! I just hate when people compliment me when I know they don't mean it. It puts me in this really awkward position of having to be gracious, but not wanting to look like a fool by pretending I believe them. I...I don't know.

3. I completely destroyed my kitchen making ratatouille, what with all the peeling and seeding tomatoes, vegetable chopping, and olive oil splattering. Plus, I had to ignore my child while I was doing it, which has been one of the ways in which I'm struggling with cooking so much from scratch. I get really jealous hearing all the laughter coming from Chris and Charlotte as they play while I'm in the kitchen. I know I'm being a big baby. It's never more than an hour a day, tops, but it helps if you're pleased with the results of your labor. And today's ratatouille? Not so much.

Unlike this endeavor. THIS was worth every second.

4. I ran downstairs to throw some clothes in the dryer, and to my surprise and delight, Charlotte wanted to come with me, even though she was busy playing with her daddy. While I went about my business, Charlotte admired and prodded at a bike I'm borrowing from my mom, which we're keeping in the laundry room till we make space in the garage.

Well, it fell on her. So, to sum up: I feel super guilty about ignoring her and not being the one making her laugh and squeal with delight. I get her back for one minute, and she gets injured and is screaming. Faantastic. She was fine, just a scratch on her arm, but...still.

5. Right before Chris left for work I was bombarded with a return of the headache from hell, in addition to a cranky toddler from roughly the same region of hell. She was screaming, throwing tantrums, throwing OBJECTS, the works. Then, when we'd gotten her calmed down and Chris left for the night, she gave me the ol' bedtime fake-out. This is where we go through her whole bedtime routine of jammies, teeth, stories, and nursing, only to have her freak the hell out upon being placed in her crib, and we have to start over about twenty minutes later. The second go around almost always works, but man, is it rough getting anything done when I can't get her to sleep until almost nine.

Right before one of her trademark meltdowns

So, there you have it. The good, the bad, and the mundane.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

ControverSunday: The Return

Remember ControverSundays? Well, they're back. We might vary from the EVERY Sunday schedule, and the lovely Perpetua will be sharing her hosting duties, but despite those minor changes, we're back, baby!

I'm hosting this week, which means that you should check back here for links to the other ControverSunday posts and leave your own link in the comments section should you decide to join us. Which you totally should. We're quite awesome, if we do say so ourselves. Oh, and don't forget to grab the badge from Accidents while you're at it.

ControverSunday Entries:

The Disgruntled Academic

This week's topic is Toddler Discipline. What are reasonable behavioral expectations for a toddler (ages one to three, shall we say?)What do you consider age-appropriate consequences? Time-outs? Natural consequences?

I'm not personally going to discuss spanking because we've already covered that topic (see: here), and it's not the method I choose. I have serious problems and concerns with spanking, but I will certainly welcome a dialogue about it in this space.

This topic was suggested by Kathleen, but it is very timely for me, as it probably is for her seeing as our kids are only a day apart in age. This is an IMPOSSIBLE age for discipline as far as I'm concerned. Which, is not to say that I have given up, but man are there days when I wish I could.

Okay, here's the thing: I have no idea what I'm doing. Other than knowing that I won't be spanking, I got nothing. I could ask Chris his opinion on discipline, but he would just tell me to give her more ice cream.

I've read articles, talked to more experienced parents, and observed other parents, but mostly, Chris and I both just sort it. If she hits me, I sternly tell her no, and recently, as soon as she realizes I'm upset about being smacked or pinched or having my eyes gouged, she will say "Hug!" and pat me on the back. It's a little patronizing, but I'll take it. Especially since I never taught her to hug someone when she hurts them. It's her own instinct, which I think is cool. I believe in not forcing kids to apologize or teaching them to feign remorse. I just hope she learns by my example when it's my turn to apologize to her or others.

If she is touching something she shouldn't or doing something I've asked her not to do, I get down to her level, get really stern, and repeat myself. And nine times out of ten, this does absolutely nothing. In fact, she seems to rather like doing things she knows I won't like and goes out of her way to do so, while making sure I'm paying attention. Supposedly, she is just testing her boundaries, and eventually, with consistency, it will sink in and pay off.

I don't know. I sure hope so. All I know is that I am taking a much softer approach with her than I ever thought I would because it feels natural to do so. Hopefully this won't bite me in the ass later. I try to give her space when she's throwing a tantrum and not give in (though, admittedly, I have given in a few times), but I will also stay close and rub her back if she'll let me and make it clear that I will comfort her if she wants. Which, sometimes she does, and sometimes she pulls away from me, in which case I back off.

I never thought I'd hug a child who was screaming and stamping her feet because I wouldn't let her eat a magnet (true story). I always knew I'd be the mom who could calmly and casually walk away and go about my business. And, sometimes, I do. But sometimes she seems to need to be consoled (without giving her what she wants, but rather just acknowledging that she is sad for not getting it.)

I do things based on really compelling online literature (especially Janet Lansbury. She is wonderful, and I've learned so much from her) as well as my own instincts. There are many times I feel I'm at a loss. There are many times I feel I'm screwing it all up. And maybe I am. I guess the most important thing that I do is try to keep an open mind. Chris doesn't discipline nearly as much as I would like, but he is open to my suggestions when I tell him he shouldn't be letting Charlotte do something or that he could have handled a situation differently. And, I am open to his ideas, and he often convinces me that I'm overreacting and that I should let something slide.

So, I guess what this all boils down to is that you aren't going to get a lot of controversy from me this week because I can't tell you that you're doing it wrong when I don't know what the hell I'm doing to begin with. I just know that discipline is important and necessary, despite what some parenting theories might tell you. In fact, don't exclusively parent according to any theory. Just...don't. Have a philosophy, sure. But, know your child and what works for them, and be willing to adapt and flex to meet their unique needs. As long as you're parenting with love, knowledge, and with the utmost desire to do right by your child, you should be fine.

Then again, who am I to give advice? I'm the one screwing it all up.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Fess Up Friday!

I realize I haven't done this in a while; in fact, I've sort of fallen off the blogging wagon completely, but I'm trying to get back on track.

So, what do I have to confess? Well, remember how desperate I was to wean? I haven't done it yet. I've hardly tried. It just seems so impossible sometimes, and some nights it doesn't seem necessary, while other nights it seems like the most imperative thing ever that she be weaned right NOW. What exactly am I confessing? I'm not sure. That I'm lazy? Indecisive? Have no follow-through? I guess all of the above.

My next confession is noise related. Ever since we moved into the apartment, I've been on edge about the increase in noise outside Charlotte's window when she's sleeping or being put down for a nap or bed. We went from living in a house sandwiched between two little, old ladies, to living in an apartment complex with tons of people, their dogs, their visiting friends, their ridiculously loud children...

I get so annoyed when the kids are playing in the parking lot (I know, sad), and they're screaming past eight o'clock. My blood pressure goes up when the little, yappy dogs start up while I'm placing Charlotte in her crib for the night. And, I get SUPER pissed when some douche bags start talking about break dancing outside our windows at 1 A.M. I turn into this crochety old lady, mumbling to myself about how those damn kids need to go back to school, how I wish those dogs would run away (Oh, I'm kidding. Settle down, crazy dog lovers), and how I should go out there and give those wippersnappers a piece of my mind!

This irritability makes me a little uncool and uptight, but it also makes me a hypocrite. Because thinking back over my early and mid-twenties, I realize that I have been a total jerk about noise. I've had noise complaints lodged against my friends and me when we've moved a party from the bar to a hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. I've had karaoke parties at my house that those poor little, old ladies on either side of me were unfortunately privy to. And, I'm sure I've talked outside many windows at 1 A.M., though, hopefully not about break dancing.

I've always been a people pleaser, and I usually try to be polite and respectful. But, what can I say? Alcohol can make even the most decent of people total assholes. I try to keep these past transgressions in mind when I start to daydream about pummeling some noisy people's faces. I guess I had it coming to me. If I believed in karma, I would, indeed, be calling her a bitch.

And, finally, I have to confess that I am really struggling with the t.v. thing. I try really hard to limit the amount that Charlotte watches. I've even tried cutting it out altogether, but that is just a joke. I don't know what's wrong with me. I mean, I don't sit her in front of the television for hours, or even half an hour. But, I know the fifteen minute sessions add up. We're working on getting her to play by herself more, but she's just so damn clingy lately that I seriously can't pour myself a cup of coffee without her grabbing my leg and crying. So, yeah, I try to distract her with some Elmo when all else fails.

That's not even the worst part. The worst part is that she LIKES t.v. She ASKS to watch it. We usually don't comply, but, sometimes we do. And I feel like crap every time we do.

Speaking of which, I should stop writing and go collect Charlotte. She's in Grouchland with Elmo as we speak.

Oh, and don't forget to go visit Brooke. She IS the Fess Up Friday host, after all! This week she's talking about discipline.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wonderful Wednesdays: The Vacation Edition

Have you met Ginger? She does this thing called Wonderful Wednesdays every week, and I decided it's high time I joined her! I think it's so important to stop and think about the good in our lives, especially when we're bogged down with sick kids, long days at work, family problems, you name it.

So, what is wonderful in my world today? Well, lots of things. But, I'm still on a high from my mini vacation to Santa Barbara. Chris got some time off work so we decided to get away for a couple days.

We headed up to Santa Barbara to the Hotel Oceana.
It was a beautiful place with a little courtyard outside the rooms, complete with a fountain and a few tables where you could sit and look at the ocean. We're used to the hotels that are completely enclosed, so I thought it was a nice change of pace to have the grass and flowers outside our door, as opposed to the hallway of doors. Here's what we saw out our window.

And, it would have been nice. EXCEPT.

I've always suspected that when we check into hotels with the baby the staff usually place us by the elevator on purpose. Maybe so there's only one room of people for us to annoy, instead of one on either side? In this case, the hotel staff had arranged a sort of Kid Row. EVERYONE in our courtyard had small children. Totally makes sense. That way we don't annoy people on their honeymoon or the retired couple spending their hard-earned savings on a beach vacation. I'm totally on board with this, and it really takes the pressure off when Charlotte wakes up screaming at 5 A.M. They get it. They've been there. Or maybe they're right there with us.

But, just because we should all expect a little extra noise being in Kid Row, doesn't, in my mind, mean we should not try to have ANY respect for our neighbors. Apparently, there is a certain French family that begs to differ. They were perfectly friendly and sweet. They had a baby around Charlotte's age in addition to two older girls, and Charlotte loved running around with them in the grass. But, holy hell were they loud at night! I wasn't able to get Charlotte down before ten either night because the kids were running in and out of their room yelling (no, really, YELLING) to one another or their parents who were drinking wine in the courtyard.

The first night was miserable because I was so stressed about getting Charlotte to sleep so she'd be rested for the zoo the next day. And, I was getting so angry that this family was being loud and inconsiderate. Then, when we tried to put Charlotte down for a nap the next day, it was the same thing with a different family. I decided right then to accept that these were the circumstances and deal with them. So, we threw Charlotte into the car, drove her around for an hour so she could nap and went to the zoo when she woke up. This is basically the only way she napped for three days straight.

We had a great time showing her the animals. The weather was beautiful (nice and cool, just the way I like it), she got to ride the train, which is her new obsession, and she looked freakin' adorable in her ponytail and overalls. It was, shall I say, wonderful.

That night I decided if we couldn't beat the French (ha!), we'd join them. So, we took our wine out to the courtyard and let the baby run around with the kids. And now I want to learn French just so I can teach it to Charlotte. There is nothing cuter than little kids speaking French, except maybe little kids with British accents. They say everything so much prettier than us!

You know how babies are obsessed with other babies? So, Charlotte and the baby, whose name is Eleanor, basically just pointed at one another and announced that they were pointing at a baby. So, for Charlotte that meant saying "Bab? Bab?" over and over, while Eleanor repeated the much more eloquent "Le bébé? Le bébé?" to her much older sisters. They quickly lost patience with their baby sister's fascination with Charlotte and would brush her off with a "Oui, le bébé" and try to distract her attention.

Then all the girls started doing somersaults, and our "Good job!" sounded so inadequate next to the "Bravo!" of the French parents. I spent an inordinate amount of time on this trip daydreaming about having a superpower that enabled me to speak any language fluently at will. Wouldn't that be awesome?!

Chris and I also spent some time wistfully declaring all the things we would be doing if we were travelling without a toddler. Midnight walks on the beach, dinner at a place without high chairs and changing tables, lunch at a pub before heading home without a cranky kid needing a nap.

But, you know, that will come later. One day we'll be able to ditch her with her grandparents for the weekend and do all the drinking and sleeping in we want. In the meantime, I had a wonderful trip with my two favorite people and wouldn't trade the aimless nap-inducing driving, bedsharing with a travel-weary toddler, zoo escapades, the constant pleas to see the train (Tain? Tain?), eating dinner at El Torito because it's the only kid-friendly place in sight, and spinning with Charlotte on the lawn, for any vacation in the world.

Well, mostly, anyway. I mean, you could probably tempt me with Hawaii if you really tried.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hey, Look! A Bunch of New Projects to Ignore!

Every couple of years I go through a sort of...awakening. I get all excited about a bunch of different things. I start projects, start reading books, start taking lessons, start writing, start working out. I'm sure by now you've deciphered the pattern. You're quite shrewd, aren't you?

I start on these goals and projects, but I don't actually finish any of them. I suppose part of my problem could be that I rarely get excited about one endeavor at a time. I go from watching reruns of "Friends" and screwing around on Facebook every night to writing a novel, becoming a wine expert, learning to play the guitar, reading every book I never read, taking up hiking, beginning a gym routine, and coming up with a cure for cancer, all at once. And then, predictably, I'm hanging out with Ross and Rachel again, not having accomplished any of the things that were so important to me last week.

Well, except for the cancer thing. I totally did that.

As you might have guessed (you clever thing), it's happening again. It started with an interest in food and sort of snowballed. If you read this post you can see where it all began. Since then I've (mostly) stopped eating meat, joined a CSA (We DO have them here! I'll blog about it in a day or so), decided to grow my own organic herb garden, make my own compost (which is looking unlikely for apartment living unless I can afford a hideously expensive device or want to live with an offensive odor pervading the air), and the list goes on.

For the first time, I think I finally have a passion that's going to stick. I'm having fun getting my random box of produce and figuring out what to do with it, hitting up the farmer's markets, trying to figure out what to do with all the peaches we got this week (Jam? Pie?), and getting creative in the kitchen. I still believe I will slip up on occasion, but I know that my dedication to feeding my family well will not disappear like the unwritten novels of the past.

I wish I could be as confident that my other present projects will receive the same kind of devotion and follow-through, but I know how these things usually go. Just for fun (and so you can laugh at me when I'm tweeting about television from the couch in a month) here are some of the things I'm working on, in no particular order:

1. My herb garden- I know I mentioned this, but since I haven't done it yet, it belongs on the to-do list. I'm probably giving up on the compost idea, but I'm working on getting the pots, seeds, soil, etc. that I need for this project. It's a small investment, which is pretty much the only hold-up at this point.

2. I'm writing a screenplay with a friend- We've only met once to work on it, and we don't technically have an idea yet, so this is high on the "Doesn't Look Promising" list, but I hope it works out because I think I would like to do more creative writing, and I think he and I might work well together.

3. Learning to play my guitar- The guitar was an amazingly generous gift from my father-in-law, and also one that meant a lot to me. I took lessons for a while, and then infertility took over my life and bank account, and I stopped. I'm not expecting anything ground-breaking here since I'll be teaching myself, but I'm hoping to at least re-master some chords and perhaps string them together in a recognizable way? Hopefully?

4. Obtain and regularly ride a bike- Don't hold your breath. I can't afford a bike. But, it's my new dream. In the meantime, I will have to be satisfied with any exercise I manage to do. Which brings me to...

5. Exercise!- I know, how very typical. I've been trying to get to the gym for weeks now, and it hasn't happened. I'm hoping when the weather cools down, I'll be able to get out for walks, which will turn into jogs, and maybe even runs, someday.

6. AIDS walk- I'm signed up. I just need sponsors.

I guess that's it. I'd like to say that this time I'll stick with it and accomplish these goals, but only time will tell. Especially since this is all on top of being a parent, a wife, and an aspiring writer. Oh, and there's that Master's degree I still need to finish...

I think I'm going to go lie down for a minute. Now where are those "Friends" DVD's?