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Disney DEFCON

The National Enquirer reported that I was the first person ever to actually fall off the face of the Earth.  While it may have felt like that, it wasn’t entirely true (just like most articles in the National Enquirer).

It is true that I have not logged into my blog dashboard in several weeks – the last few blogs I posted we’re on an automatic timer, similar to all the lights in my mental and real house.

I have spent the last three weeks on business trips and vacation.  I am not even sure my bed at home feels like my “real” bed yet. 

But I am back – did you get a chill? It’s okay to lie to me ya know.

There are so many stories I want to share with you.  I wrote so many posts in my head, but never took notes on them, so they are as forgotten as my exercise routine.  Here’s one that really seems to want to be written, because it has been rattling around in my mind (that was the tin pinging sound you heard) for days:

DEFCON is the Defense Readiness Condition used by the Armed Forces.  After spending a week in Disneyland with my kids, I felt it was my civic duty to share the following:

Disney DEFCON

5 – Lowest state of readiness.  You haven’t told the kids you’re going to Disneyland.  Life is peaceful.

4 – Increased intelligence and strengthened security measures.  The kids know they are going to Disneyland.  Care must be taken to ensure that they do not injure themselves when bouncing off the walls.  You also now have the opportunity to throw the entirely empty threat of cancelling the trip if they do not behave on the long car ride.  Good luck with that…

3 – Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness. You need a strategy for crowds, lines, food and the endless toy displays.  Here’s mine:

  • Crowds – The best defense is a good offense.  I started the week trying to avoid small children and other strollers.  After losing every toenail I own, I treated navigating Disneyland, during Spring Break, like a full contact, extreme sport.  Show no mercy.
  • Lines – Don’t be the sweet mom that stops to let the kids climb on sculptures, take pictures and play on slides.  Stick to the mission – rides!  Get them in early, then go back and take pictures with characters, play on the fake cars, ride the carousel and watch the shows while everyone else is standing in hour-long lines in the beating sun.
  • Food – Decide up front – are you a militant mom or a mom looking for a little peace?  I just wanted a little peace so I bought popcorn, churros and ice cream.  I also bought some food for my kids.
  • Toys – I decided before I left that each kid would get one toy/souvenir, period.  I even brought their tiaras and light sabers from home so I wouldn’t get hit up for those.  Before you second guess me, I did stick to the one souvenir rule, sort of.  They each got one thing – but each thing was bigger than I had planned.  I admit I am a sucker for a $65 Cinderella costume and since they didn’t have one in my size, I bought it for my daughter.  With my son, I had a rare opportunity to trump my husband and spontaneously buy a Lego for my son while my husband was getting the car.  I am usually the mean mom and it felt amazing to play the role of Disney Dad! 

2 – Further increase in force readiness, but less than maximum readiness.  DEFCON 2 hit on day 2 days 1, 2 and 3 for us. Be prepared for a scene, but take solace in the fact that your child’s screams will be drowned out by Disney music (I swear they have speakers as close as trash cans), the sound of the rides and 5,000 other screaming children.

1 – War is imminent. Proceed directly to California Adventure where they serve alcohol.

We hit DEFCON 1 on our final day in the park.  We still had planned to spend a few more hours there.  We went to California Adventure, drank two beers and left the park.  A full nuclear response was narrowly avoided.

Tell me a funny story from one of your family vacations.  And by funny, I mean one where I don’t look like the only crazy mom!

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10 Lessons From a Girl’s Weekend

February 28, 2011 6 comments

I had a fabulous girls weekend.  Friday night was book club a passion party and Saturday I left for San Francisco for some quality time with my cousin (who is more like a sister).  I had a wonderful weekend full of laughs, yummy food and female bonding, but certainly learned a few lessons:

  1. When soup boils over, do not grab a wet paper towel to pull the grate off the burner, in order to clean it immediately.  Fight the OCD impulses, wait until the stove has cooled down and never use a wet towel – paper or otherwise.
  2. When hosting a passion party, not only do you need to have the kids out of the house, but they need to remain out of the house until you do a full cleaning.  Check under the sofa to make sure there are no passion party product catalogs that your kids can find.
  3. When departing for the city – listen to the advice you give your kids – go potty before you leave.  While you may not be conspicuous running through Union Square doing the pee pee (or worse) dance, it can be uncomfortable and the thought of not making it to the hotel bathroom frightening.
  4. When driving to any big city, choose your car wisely.  The biggest SUV on the road is not the best choice.  If you have no other vehicle option, make sure you know the height restrictions of the parking garage AND the height of your car.  Accuracy is important here, otherwise one might learn what those metal tube height signs sound like when they scrape the top of your car.  Luggage racks can act as the sacrifical lamb life saver in this situation.
  5. Valet parking (with the additional oversize vehicle fee) at the hotel is expensive, but slightly less than the deductible on your car insurance.  Suck it up when the valet mentions your car is not the best choice for the city.
  6. Eating your way through San Francisco may sound like a good great idea, but should be left to the professionals.  Over eating can lead to food coma which can cause falling asleep during the previews of a movie and one should be careful about sleeping in the Metreon.  Three such food comas in 24 hours probably isn’t healthy and may result in a sleepless night, despite the Heavenly Bed.
  7. Check your cell phone alarm clock and ensure it is off.  Waking up at 6:00 am on a girls weekend after a night of food coma fall-out can be hazardous.
  8. If you plan to shop in the city, tell your husband in advance to avoid shell shock.  If you don’t plan to shop in the city, you’re just fooling yourself.  Shopping in the city is as unavoidable as encountering crazy, ranting women with black eyes and missing teeth.
  9. When a man is sitting in the park with a sign that says “Free Advice”, you should stop and listen.  It can’t be worse than the advice we give our friends.
  10. There is nothing better for your soul than a weekend of girl time (and nothing worse for your waist line).

Lesson from My Polygamist Same-Sex Date

January 10, 2011 24 comments

I have been having a polygamist, same-sex relationship.  Online, no less.  What would my grandmother say? 

Who is this group of women?  Fellow bloggers. 

My expectation of blogging was simple: to have a creative outlet for myself, a personal playground.  I did not expect to make friends online.  And then I did.

Yesterday, I took the next step in the relationship.  I met some other bloggers for lunch and wine tasting in Napa.  Whitehall Lane hosted us for a fabulous wine tasting that was delicious and educational (ask me about glass corks).  Who doesn’t bond over wine???  We then had a fabulous lunch at Brix.  There was singing, mooning and threats of motor-boating.  It was right up my alley. 

As I drove home reflecting on my afternoon, I felt blessed to have spent a day with exceptional women.  But as I chatted with a close friend about my experience, she said I sounded numb.  She said I was saying wonderful things, but lacked my usual animation.  I thought about it and realized, I lacked emotion because I had some deep thoughts brewing.

Somewhere along the way, my blogging expectations became more complex.  I started watching my blog stats and wondering what it would be like to be one of those celebrity bloggers.  I started thinking that turning my hobby into something more might be my next goal.  After meeting these amazing women I was ready to go home and go after that goal. 

But here’s the problem with me and goals:  I am a crazy overachiever.  My competitive spirit can cloud my judgement, reaching the goal becomes more important than the journey.  I often say I could never be on the Bachelor, because I would want the rose even if the guy was a creep.  I set goals for myself and when I achieve them, I feel lost.  I expect that the next achievement will keep me satisfied.  And it doesn’t.  I end up failing to fully appreciate the experience.  I fear that I could diminish my passion for writing if I take it too seriously.

I think it is great to turn passions into careers or have goals for your hobbies.  I met women yesterday who, for them, this is more than a hobby and I revere them.  But for me to have balance in my life, I have to catch myself.  Motivation is good in moderation.  I need an area of my life where I don’t push my hardest.   

Does this mean I don’t have secret dreams of turning writing into something more?  Of course I do.  Would it be great to make a little wine and lunch money while doing something I love?  Uh, yeah!  But I need to slow down, take time to smell the cabernets and enjoy my new polygamist same-sex relationship.

Do you have something that gives you pure joy without stress?  Is the journey or the destination more important to you?

Maui, Poop and Hookers

November 23, 2010 6 comments

We have just returned home from ten glorious days in Maui.  Okay, we got home Saturday, but it took some time to adjust to reality.  I had planned on writing and blogging from Maui, but I was too busy living and enjoying.  I am so far behind on the novel challenge that I may have to abandon it and I am ok with that.  Ten days of truly enjoying my family provided me joy and memories that I can’t catch up on later.  I can catch up on writing when the time is right.

You may already be saying to yourself, this is not the Paige we know.  She didn’t push to get everything done, she didn’t stress over what she wasn’t accomplishing.  With fruity drinks, gorgeous sunsets and no work, I think even the craziest of moms can find a little balance.  It was a wonderful, relaxing vacation where I had the opportunity to play with my kids and enjoy time with my husband.  There is no greater gift or sense of accomplishment.

Telling you all about my vacation would be just bragging and possibly painful if you would rather be in Maui than reading this.  When you are on vacation or have returned from vacation the Golden Rule is reversed: ‘If you can’t say something mean, don’t say anything at all’.  This prevents taunting others with your fabulous life.  This rules keeps my friendship with some of my friends going.  When Sarah called me in Hawaii to see how it was going, I could hear her kids screaming in the background as she tried to do laundry and make dinner.  I was smart and kind enough not to tell her I was sitting in a lounge chair with a cocktail and my kids were frolicking in the pool while I watched the waves crash.  Who wants to hear that when they are stuck in normal household hell.  I simply replied, “It’s nice, and a bit overcast”.  She giggled and thanked me for my discretion.  In the spirit of the reverse  golden rule, I will stick to the unusual “highlights”.

Our first dinner: We had planned to have a lovely dinner on our first night in Hawaii to celebrate our arrival.  But after starting our travel day at 3:30 in the morning, then taking the kids swimming, our craving for dinner became a craving for sleep.  Our dinner of Ritz Bits and POG (pineapple orange guava) juice never tasted so good before our seven o’clock bedtime!

Avoiding the Pool Closure:  My three-year old is potty-trained.  We have a pool at home and never have had an issue with accidents in the pool.  Within 20 minutes of our arrival at our timeshare, she limped down the stairs of the kids pool, holding her bottom.  I thought she was hurt, but when I asked if she was ok, she said “Mom, I have to poop NOW!”  I realized she was holding in what had already happened and raced her to our room (thank goodness for a first floor room).  I narrowly avoided being the mom whose kid caused a six-hour pool closure. 

Closing The Door on the Kids: The first three nights my husband, my two kids and I shared one hotel room.  We tried to make the kids share one of the double beds, but listening to them fight over who kicked who did not work out so well.  The lesser of two evils was to have one of them sleep with each of us.  My son snores and grinds his teeth and my daughter kicks like a lunatic.  So my husband and I traded off, one night I had physical pain, the next would be audio torture.  But once we moved to our time share, we were able to put them both on the pull out sofa and close the door.  They still kicked, whined and snored, but we didn’t hear it.  Ah bliss!

Escaping the Stinky Runner:  Several mornings I ran from our timeshare to Whaler’s Village and back. It’s three miles roundtrip.  About a mile in to my run, a very fit female runner got on the path just in front of me.   As I was running behind her, I noticed the most awful smell.  It didn’t go away.  I came to the conclusion that she was crop-dusting me.  If you don’t know what that is, let me give you a lesson full of class – crop-dusting is when you are trying to get rid of some gas without getting caught by those around you so you keep moving.  I figured it couldn’t last too long, but after another two tenths of a mile, I decided this was not what paradise should smell like and I turned around and went the other way.

A New Friend:  My husband and I did three dinners without the kids.  On one of our date nights we went to a very kid UN-friendly restaurant in Kapalua.  We were sitting on a deck watching the sunset over cocktails.  A stunning brunette asked us to take her picture, explaining it was her birthday.  She was by herself (kind of weird on her birthday, don’t you think?).  She twice struck up odd conversation with us that we politely closed.  At one point the waiter walked by and gave her a funny look.  She quickly excused herself.  As she walked away, my husband and I looked at each other and said “Hooker”.  About forty-five minutes later she found herself a “client”.  I thought I was the only one who worked on my birthday.

Hawaii was amazing and filled with just enough humor, odd smells and interesting people.  What is your idea of paradise?  What are the unusual highlights of vacations you have taken?

Happy, balanced family!

What New York Taught This Suburban Mom

September 7, 2010 7 comments

I am home from New York.  I spent four days with my husband, WITHOUT MY KIDS, in a town of incredible sights, history, food and culture to celebrate the wedding of a friend.   It was my first trip to the Big Apple and I was delighted, overwhelmed and more than a little off-balance.  Here are my lessons learned…

Flights Are Fabulous: Normally, when my husband and I fly together, we have the kids with us, which means I come off the plane sweaty, exhausted, cranky, stained and ready for a parachute.  On these two glorious flights I read books, drank wine (yeah, the break-up might be over), watched movies and RELAXED.  I didn’t actually care where the flight landed since the experience itself was so therapeutic.

Size Does Not Matter, It’s All About the View: My 2,800 square foot house can seem too small with the kids and all their toys, but a 1,000 square foot corner suite hotel room (thank you hotel points) over-looking the harbor is a little piece of Heaven. 

I Hate Crowds: I am a people person but  I DO NOT love swarming crowds of tourists.  Yes, I get that I was one of those tourists, but I think the problem was that I would like to sight-see like a celebrity, while everyone else stays home.  The sensory overload of Times Square is craizer than 25 kids for a six-year-old birthday party!  If I am in the mood for sensory overload I will chaperone my daughter’s preschool field trips.  At least then I will know the kids who own the sweat I rub up against. 

Suburban Life Requires Less Showers: I have shared in my posts that, since I work from home,  there are times, a-hem.. days, when I do not shower.  I had to wash city life off of me at least twice per day.  If I stepped off the curb wrong, I was splashed with gutter grime (water would not be an accurate word to describe what hit my legs). 

Moms Should Teach Taxi Driving School:  I can get an SUV full of 6 year olds anywhere on time without inducing motion sickness.  I can drive the carpool, while putting on a movie and passing back the juice boxes, without breaking any laws or startling anyone. (Unless I yell, “Don’t make me pull this car over”).  The taxi to the airport took two ginger ales to recover from.

Moms CAN Sleep-in After Having Kids: It turns out that staying up until 2:30 in the morning, having cocktails is doable if you can sleep until 11:30 the next morning.  I didn’t even know if I was still physically capable of sleeping late.  I have confirmed that mothers can still do shots and be the life of the party if given time to recover…

Adults Need Moderation Too: We don’t hand our children the candy basket and tell them to use their best judgement.  The same rule should probably apply to parents re-released into the wild – aka at an event with a fully hosted bar.  Just because it is there and free, doesn’t mean one (okay, me) should try to take full advantage.  The extra sleep helped, but I still had to relive the hazy memories of giving breast-feeding advice to someone I had just met.

Parks Are For Adults Too: My favorite part of my kids-free trip was a park!  We had a delightful brunch at The Boathouse in Central Park and then strolled around the lake. I turned to my husband and said, “oh the kids would love this”.  He said, “You’re right, but we’re not bringing them while they’re young”.  He’s a smart guy.

Thank you New York for reminding me what being a civilized adult feels like.  Thank you for the one-on-one time with my husband, for the beautiful sites and delicious food.  Finally, thank you for perspective – when I had my first dose of mommy frustration upon coming home, as the kids were being loud and rowdy, I was able to say, ‘Thank God I am not in the heat of Times Square with all those crazy tourists!’

The Difference Between Men and Women: Vacation

August 27, 2010 3 comments

My husband left today for a guys’ house boating trip.  I was thinking tonight about the stark difference between his boys’ weekend and a girls’ weekend with my friends.  Allow me to compare:  

  • His trip:  3 days of house boating
  • My trip:  A weekend in Napa
  • His luggage: a backpack and toothbrush
  • My luggage:  Rollerboard, large tote bag, make-up case and purse
  • His shoes: Flip flops
  • My shoes: 2 pairs of flip-flops, running shoes, 2 pairs of wedges and  heels
  • His activities: Skiing, wakeboarding, drinking
  • My activities: Wine tasting, spa treatments, pool time, shopping, eating (yes for us, it qualifies as an activity) and drinking
  • His time spent getting ready: 45 seconds to brush his teeth (which is optional)
  • My time spent getting ready: 90 minutes if I hurry
  • His conversations: boats, trucks, work
  • My conversations: CENSORED

   

  • His bedtime: 11:00 pm
  • My bedtime: 2:00 am
  • His cost: $150
  • My cost: More than $150… no exact figures if I hope to do it again someday!

I hope he is having a wonderful time and knows that I am planning a girls trip as I write this!  

His

Hers

ENJOYING My Kids

August 7, 2010 1 comment

In a previous post, I talked about my de-bitchery trip.  It is our annual, kid-free weekend to unwind and decompress on our friend’s houseboat.  Well, we decided to do another trip.  Thanks to the miracles of modern technology (aka scheduling blog posts), as you read this I am sitting on this wonderful houseboat WITH MY KIDS.  Yes, we got the bright idea to bring our kids to our adult sanctuary, our personal Calgon commercial for a weekend of ‘family fun’.  This is of course means that I am not sitting, but rather running around, applying sunscreening, making snacks and … what was I thinking?!

Wait! 

I usually take a humorous perspective in my blog, which often means laughing at the harder parts of parenting.  But, today, I am going to be thankful!  I talk incessantly about balance and wanting more time with my family – here’s my chance!  I have no cell service, no laptop and am with my kids and great friends on a beautiful houseboat – I am a very lucky girl!

As parents, we often take bonding opportunities with our kids and turn them into a stressful, checklist-filled, three-ring-circus.  Birthday parties are a great example.  The kids have fun, but how many of us truly enjoy it with them?  Aren’t most of us exhausted afterwards?  (For those of you who are smarter than me, tell me your secret).

So as you read this, I will be sitting on a houseboat playing with my kids, without a schedule or agenda.  We will be swimming, frolicking (why the hell not) and spending some quality time together.  My three-year old daredevil-diva is going to learn to water ski.  She has wanted to try on previous trips but her feet are too small for the skiis, so we bought her some water shoes, to make the skiis fit.  My six-year old son is going to waterski and wakeboard, each for the second time (the first time on both scared him so we have had to wait until he was ready).  I am going to sit and cheer them on and marvel at how big they are getting!  I am not focused on putting them to bed so I can have a cocktail with the adults – although I am abiding by ‘houseboating state law’ that requires all children to be in bed by 9:00 ;), but rather focused on spending time with them and building memories for when they’d rather be with their friends.

This weekend I am enjoying quality time with my kids and appreciating how fortunate I am to be a mother (and be friends with someone who owns a houseboat!)

Categories: Parenting, Travel