What’s on my mind – links for 1/12/11

This is going to be one of those lame blog posts, but I’m so busy this week, all I have time to do is link. Gimme a pass, k?

  • I Am Mommy Hear Me Roar! – You would have to be hanging out under a rock to not to have heard about this article on the Wall Street Journal on “The Superiority of Chinese Mothers.” I’m not really going to post my thoughts on the topic here, now, (I VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE!!) but rather point you to an amusing fashion take on the whole parenting trend debacle. All we can do is laugh at this point, right?
  • Traveling this weekend? You need some tips! Who better to help you plan than my favorite local style expert, Amy Tara Koch? You can watch her clip here:

  • Spring is in the air?? I’m already scoping out updating my wardrobe for this spring. I haven’t fully decided everything I’m going to invest in, but I will for sure be buying some wide leg jeans. Again, I’ve checked out The Gap’s site and think these are HOT. Just need to figure out what shoes to pair them with…

… that is for another blog post another day, my friends!

My inlaws think, or know, I’m crazy.

As if I were setting out to really ensure that I am bat sh** crazy, I spent the last week holed-up in my in laws house in Southern Florida where the Jews reign and there are enough New York accents to make you feel like you’re living on the Island. (Hello, Boca!) I figured taking my kids solo (w/ a babysitter) on “vacation” was a better alternative to creating lots of mindless play dates and overpaying for “winter camps” during the the second week (why oh why do we need two weeks!) of my son’s holiday (not ours) break.

It all seemed like a good idea in theory, this getaway to a typically sun-filled state and away from Chicago, when my husband canceled at the last minute due to pressing work issues.  We had already run out of board games, arts and crafts projects at home and I had already spent a month’s supply of cash on sitters in 4 days. My in laws welcomed the change of plans with open (and tanned) arms and even accepted another house guest.

I should have known something was amiss. Because while I only joke about my craziness, my in laws actually think I am.

Before I even arrived, I was told to give a detailed list of what the kids might need for food before I arrived. Their refrigerator is admittedly quite barren, with legions of AA batteries filling the bottom drawer (I should have taken a picture.) The only food my dearest step-mother-in-law stocks in the house are filled with enough sugar to kill a diabetic and I cannot say the last time I’ve seen anything with the suffix -berry on the premise.

So, you can imagine the horror when I gave them my grocery list consisting of every Horizon Organic, Applegate Farms, and [insert available organic fruit here]. Their fridge had never been so busting with food. The eclairs, black and white cookies and double-cream Brie cheese did not know what to do with their healthy and HCFS-free comrades. I give my in-laws credit, though, they didn’t get lost on the way to Whole Foods, although I probably can count on one hand the amount of times they had ventured there.

But, when we arrived, much to my amazement and delight, the house was stocked with all “proper” foods and snacks. Not only was it very generous of them, but it got me to thinking we were all finally on the same page about what my kids (and me) would eat. Then, I got this, in between (their) Christmas-cookie bites:

“You drink Diet Peach Snapple?”

I didn’t say I was perfect.

Our joshing didn’t end with the food. Apparently, my case of the “crazy-s” extended to how I disciplined my eldest (not enough) to my inability to make a decision on the day’s plans (that’s what happens when the weather dips below 70 in Florida – the options of what to do or where to go become as difficult as a sub-zero day in Chicago.) There was cajoling to get me to abandon the house and leave them in charge. There were countless “don’t worrys” and “we’re fine.”

But away from my own turf, with a clingy and snot-nosed (oh, I didn’t mention the part about the eldest acquiring a cold whilst on “vacation”?) four-year-old, I became, shall we say, a little bat-sh** crazy. This was “my” house for a week due to their generosity, but it wasn’t MY house. It’s one thing when your kid streaks naked around your own living room before bath time, and quite another when it’s done in a living room filled with Larry Rivers and Roy Lichtenstein prints. (That living room is not for toddlers. Or me, really. I’m quite a slob.) So I was on hyper-vigilant-kids-you’d-better-be-behaved alert. Me, hurling orders and demands of little people that should have been reserved for Air Force Cadets. Me, a little more nervous and stressed than I usually am. Which is already too much.

Perhaps I acted this way because I wanted some reassurance that I could do this vacation with not-my-blood relatives all on my own. Perhaps I wanted to go down as the best daughter-in-law on record in the entire municipality of Boca. Perhaps I just wanted to make sure we’d be invited back next year. Or, perhaps I’m just a little crazy when it comes to my kids.

Just ask my in-laws. I love you, too.

If it weren’t true, I wouldn’t have believed it

Ah yes, I’ve been quite AWOL around here lately, haven’t I?

Well, all I can say is that if you’ve:

a) been on a bumpy turbo-prop flight over the Rockies

b) watched your son boot all over your husband and himself mid-flight

c) you yourself boot upon landing and a bumpy descent

d) drag your screaming, underwear-only clad child screaming through the airport so that you can put him into clean clothes

e) barely make your connection back to Chicago only to learn that your husband had to sweetly coax the ramp agent to get himself new pants

f) then sit aboard another bumpy flight where your son proceeds to boot again (I caught it in the bag that time, and yes, I am very proud of that one)

g) wait on the tarmac one hour before heading to your gate upon landing

h) arrive home 10 hours after you left on what was supposed to be a 4 hour trip

Well, then, you’d be AWOL too.

More soon, I promise, once I stop rehashing the details of the world’s most-comical, yet messy flight experience.

What I learned on my non-summer, non-vacation

I’ve never been so tired from a vacation trip in my entire life.  I’m not complaining about spending a week in the sunny mountains of Colorado, but oh man, if someone would have told me I would have been woken up at 5:30 every morning only to take care of a delerious non-napping toddler for the duration of my vacation trip, I would have asked to be sent back on the next flight back to O’Hare even if the only spot was in the cargo hold.

Vacations trips as a solo parent are exhausting.  While Nana and Papa are supremely helpful, no one is mommy.  No one can put a jacket on like mommy. No one can fill a glass of milk like mommy.  No one can wipe a nose like mommy. No one can play with the zebras and “smooth tigers” like mommy.  Yes, we bring the Schleich on vacations too.

There were times of pure joy and happiness in between the mommy mommy whining.  Ever see a 3-year-old on skis? It’ll melt your heart.  And your wallet, but that’s where Nana and Papa’s helpfulness come in handy.

jskiing

I ignored couldn’t hear the shouting for mommy through the helmet.

I know I’m extremely lucky to have been able to get away like this.  But I just once wanted the roles to be reversed.  Mommy, can I get you a glass of milk? Mommy, would you like to sleep in after sunrise?

But as such, I am the mother of a toddler, who, in strange locations, just needs a familiar being to latch onto.  Besides, by the end of the vacation trip, everyone around me was too tired to pitch in even if the little man would have let them.

dadsleep

Ski lesson for the grandson: $100. Falling asleep on bench at lunch spot: priceless.

Traveling light

There’s no better way to save money on vacation than to visit your in-laws, who happen to live in sunny (I just jinxed myself) Florida. I’ve never been so excited to visit the state of bad drivers and outrageous buffets as I am after two days of negative temperatures and record snowfall.  Whoever says there’s global warming hasn’t visited Chicago recently.

We’ll eat for free at the “club” and since there’s nowhere to walk to and virtually no car for me to borrow down there, we can all rest easy that a desperation trip to the mall (because I’m prone to going stir crazy amidst bad driver and buffet eating) will not happen. Unless someone else is paying.  Which they won’t be because, well, they’ve all invested in the market as well.

So here’s to my trip to warm (doh!) weather, gorging myself on free buffets, and no jacket, mitten, hat or boot wearing for a whole week.

Enjoy your holidays.

Key learnings after being on vacation for 10 days

1)  Even if they are super cute, on major sale and look ski-slope chic, do NOT wear fur-lined boots on an airplane while chasing a two-year-old.  Your feet will get very hot. Like I need to take a cold shower when I got home hot.

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I think I’m still hot.

2)  Coming back from vacation to your SAHM routine is a heck of a lot better than going back to work the next day.

3)  It’s a good idea to remind your husband to water ALL plants in the house while you’re away. Not just the one on the main floor. (Happy anniverary, hon.)

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No, I didn’t get new flowers today.

4)  Wake up really really early in the morning or put your kid to bed really really early so that you can watch all the back-logged episodes of Project Runway, American Idol and Nip/ Tuck that you missed.

5)  Try to get to the grocery store the morning of your return. Otherwise, you’ll be scrounging around Starbucks for a nutritious breakfast for the little one.

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I think I’m going to petition Starbucks to keep breakfast sandwiches on their menu.

The Memory Book

Long before the advent of digital cameras, phones with video and the internet, my parents would tell us to record the experiences of our youth to our memory.  My dad would instruct us, “put it in the memory book.”

On our various sojourns to the western-most parts of the country we’d pass by the huge mountains of Colorado, awestruck at their beauty. We’d see buffalo roaming the great plains of Wyoming. We’d gaze in disbelief at the massive redwoods in California. We’d capture what we can on our old 35mm, but what I remember most about those trips were what we didn’t record, those memories we would talk about late at night near the roaring fire or in the car on the way to the next destination.

Those became the photos of my memory book.

I always thought along the way that the memory book was just mine to cherish, but as I grew, I realized my parents’ memories were richer and deeper than any my 10-year-old brain could remember. They relied on these memories as we grew older and vacationed less with them. (My current trip not included.)

Now, with blogs, flickr, podcasts, web conference calls, we don’t need to rely on our memories as we used to. Technology does it for us.  We can click on the details, replay the memories on a whim rendering the memory book almost obsolete.  As a parent, this is an incredible luxury; we don’t miss a thing.

But we cannot possibly capture the essence of a parental memory solely on a 14-second grainy video. I realized this yesterday when I put my son on skis for the first time. This was a moment I had dreamed of since I was a child – skiing with my child.  And when it happened, the 7-megapixel photo couldn’t truly do the squeals and shrieks of laughter eminating from my son justice.

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Memory: on skis, age 2

But at least it will help trigger my memory book should my mind fail me one day. I’m not above technology helping remind me why I became a mother.

Here’s the thing about vacationing with your parents…

I’m finding it hard to throw all rules and regulations of child-rearing out the window just because we are on vacation. 

On sugar:

  • For instance, I would strongly advise against giving junior an ENTIRE box of concentrated apple juice in one sitting. And you wonder why he’s bouncing off the walls at dinner.
  • And if, by chance, he’s already HAD the apple juice, you are not allowed to then permit him to eat sugar cubes and offer him ice cream for dessert when at such dinner.
     

On conversation: 

  • It’s not cute to teach a two-year-old how to say “shut your trap” just because you don’t like the DJ on the local radio station.
  • It’s even less cute to talk about “how annoying your mommy’s being.”

On separation:

  • When preparing to drop off junior at ski school, I would advise against the strategy of putting the words “new toy” and “when you’re done” in the same sentence.
  • It doesn’t make it any easier to scream and groan and talk in melodramatic tones about how you’re NOT GOING TO LET JUNIOR CRY AT ALL EVER NEVER EVER.

On giving mommy-time:

  • Offering to watch junior while mommy goes on the eliptical machine is much appreciated.
  • So was changing that nasty #2 yesterday. Thanks for that.

Who could ask for anything more? Not me

This is my first vacation since I became unemployed, and I can already tell the difference.  No conference calls or nasty e-mails will threaten me!  Begone nasty work dreams and voicemail checking!

It’s pretty laughable to even say I’m on vacation, since my post-work life has been pretty easy breezy (and because we all know what “vacations” with kids are like.)  But I’m not in the depths of winter-hell in the Midwest and I can easily get out of going to the grocery store all week.  However, I still had to go to Target today to get baby supplies. Some things never change.

But because I am priveleged enough to be able to look at this view, and I have my parents around to help, I’m kind of hoping to squeeze in some time to relaxation or re-focusing outside of my mundane routines. Which probably just means I’ll have more time to go shopping. (Here’s hoping for sales. Cross your fingers!)

Whatever the case, Target run aside (happened upon these ballet flats in the process so it wasn’t so bad), I’m breathing non-city air, I’m seeing what I think is actually the sun (it’s gone missing in Chicago) and I actually got to drink half a beer with dinner. Not bad, eh?

And I got my man, who managed to fall asleep on the plane just as we were landing. Who could ask for anything more?

juniorsleepplane.jpg

Old man trouble, I don’t mind him at 20,000 feet.

Dear makers of gogo Kidz Travelmate,

I love your invention.  I really do.  I spent a lot of money on it.  I defended it when my husband called it a waste of money.  I struggled through putting you together for the first time but was happy with the outcome. Hey, I’m even okay with the fact that the handle on your slim backside doesn’t seem to lock in place all that well.

But please, can you explain to me why you don’t fit through the security belt at O’Hare? I tried you out in West Palm Beach and you worked your way through the X-ray machine like a charm. But apparently the TSA thinks it’s funny to mess with moms traveling with toddlers and have different sized security belts for different cities.

And it was so not cool that I had to put you back together at the end of the security line with only 20 minutes to board my flight and a screaming toddler perched on the end of the cold metal table.  You gotta problem with the Midwest?

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Apparently not suited for the busiest airport in the nation.