post break break

We are back!  All the moms I see lately are saying something along the lines of “why did I take the kids on that long/complicated/ far trip?  I should have stayed at home.  It would have been easier for me.”  I well understand that feeling, but that this year I didn’t end up in an hour line at LegoLand made it all better.

Though there were minuses.  More about that later.  First we were in Palm Springs.  Mark worked the Palm Desert Food and Wine festival, we hung out at the pool.

With one night turn around the three amigos were off again.  Viv and Rex and I flew to Porltand, Orlegan ( as Rex calls it)  It’s near Oliver’s college so  the main objective was to see him.  I’ve tried my best to keep Rex off of planes, so this was a big treat for him.  Clocking in at 2 hours flight time seemed just right for him.  More than that and even cartoons wouldn’t keep him down.

I rented our car from “Super Cheapo”  things are a bit off, but half the price.  We got in late so the kids went right to bed in the hotel room while I stayed up like a general before battle studying the maps and guides of Portland.  “Okay, that side of the river is NE and SE, ours is SW.”  I crossed reference with the cheat sheet of good eats I had received from Judiaann Woo ( who I met at a Food Network audition back East) she works to help promote culinary tourism in Oregon.  An easy sell based on my experience. One of my fave of her picks was Salt and Straw ice cream.  OMG  I had strawberry, honey, balsamic ice cream. We were there doing the week, so no prob getting in, but on the weekend the line is a block long.  No, I didn’t go to Voodoo donuts.  They were near our hotel, but saw some   of our fellow guests in the hotel elevator.  Didn’t do it for me.I saved my fat calories for the ice cream.

Juiced up and ready to go

We jumped on the light rail in the AM, big treat for LA kids.  Boy do I love not wrestling with car seats.  “I AM COUNTING TO THREE AND THEN YOU BETTER BE IN YOUR SEAT 1-2…”  blah, blah.  During our days there it took us to the Zoo, to the Children’s museum, to the Forestry Museum.    One day we met my friend Lenore.  I have written about her before and her son Hunter.  Longtime readers might remember that Hunter died from cancer when he was only 3 years old.  He was a beautiful child who was always brave and calm during all his months in the hospital.  His parents loved him fiercly and I don’t know how they have, but they have carried on.  They have two little boys and it was great to see them and to talk about Hunter.  Lenore has a cupcake catering company, Lighting Cupcakes inspired by him and it also benefits kids with cancer.

Now, I really liked Portland and the main reason I did was good food and drink.  Even at the Children’s museum it was not bad.  In LA the same lousy concessionaire seems to run every public space.  El Crapo. Not here.  Here I even got an espresso.  Also, you go to a sandwich place and they have mixology cocktails! At night after tramping around doing things the kids would love I would say ” okay, mommy needs a good drink and meal” The kids obliged.  Even Rex was  pretty good.  Sure, I brought my phone, crayons, threats to call dad and have him take away toys if Rex didn’t behave, but mostly it worked.  Life is cheaper in Portland, no sales tax on anything!  No wonder everyone has been moving here.

We loved seeing Oliver.  Seeing his room, meeting his roommate, seeing his cool college, counting the piercings on all of his friends.  His little brother and sister have missed him.  I didn’t want to crowd him though, so we did lots of stuff on our own as well. ( I tried not to scream, “do you ever clean this room?” But, it did come out once.)  Powell’s bookstore is a great independent bookstore.  I could have stayed there for days.  I got a good book there for Mark, but decided it was mine.  Later I was bereft when I finished it.  This was after Mark had arrived and made his own trip to Powells.  “you can read one of my books.” He said handing me a book about all the deaths caused by Stalin and Hitler.

“Oh, I need a day.  I can’t jump from obsessing on the civil war to obsessing about WW2, let alone the pogroms.”

Based on Aisha Dornfast’s suggestion I took the kids to OMSI. The Parent Hack er was on a book tour so we missed that Porlander.  I kept calling this science center “omsi” like one word till Lenore told me I sounded like a dork, It’s “o-m-s-i”.  I guess a dork in Portlandia.  But, then they all wear big clumpy shoes, so ultimately, I fit right in.  For little kids skip OMSI and head to the children’s museum.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE to keep track of little ones in that vast space.  I lost Rex.  Could NOT find him.  Panicking I went to the front area where the ticket sales where and there was Rex calmly sitting behind the desk.  A worker had seen him alone and escorted him up there.  God forbid that had been an unkind person who took his hand.

“We are OUT of here” I snarled.  Angry at crowds and taking my eye of my son. ” Let’s get something to eat”  That fixes it.  Found some place behind a warehouse, it was tasty, natch, this is Portland.

I’ve been wanting a camera and where better to buy one than in the state with no sales tax.  I love my camera!! You can tell me if my photos improve.

A minus of the trip would have been that Vivien had a sore tummy and wanted to stay in the hotel room for a full day.  Except Mark was arrived so I popped on the cartoons for Viv, sent the men folk out and me and Abe and Jeff Davis snuggled in my bed.  I love a good read.  

We left the Rose city and had a nice lunch in Eugene.  After that the trip took a very bad turn. Lots of turns.

Rex kept barfing.  The winding roads were not his friends.  I climbed in the back of the car and held a plastic bag.  It was dark, it was raining.

“Pull over” I declared.  We rolled into a modest hotel in Crescent City.  As soon as we got him to bed Rex slept deeply. I was traveling with a six pack and some snacks and after that ride my tummy wasn’t so hot so a fistful of nuts a brew was all I needed.  Till I woke up at 3:30am STARVING.  There was nothing.  Kind of hell night.

Next day, Rex was all better.

Until, we got back in the car.  Mark held the bucket this time.  That’s it, we put Rex in the front seat.  The air bag thing was turned off and he rode happily along the winding roads in the front seat.  Doing it old school worked.

It was a hard drive, but worth it when we got there… ( to be continued)

 

don’t chase the party

My motto for New Year’s.  Granted it’s harder to chase a party with a 3 and a 7 year old in tow, but I wish I had figured this out when I was like, um 24.  It’s so magical when everything comes together.  Everyone is on the same wavelength.

For several years I had lovely dinners at Campanile on New Years with friends. But, the last few years I didn’t go as baby sitting is difficult and I was tired.  I started doing East Coast New Years.  Countdown at 9pm with a few friends at home and then lights out.

This year was the first in over 30 years that Mark didn’t work New Year’s Eve.  I’ve always had to share him with others.  So, Mark, Viv, Rex and I went down to Palm Springs and spent a couple of nights in a condo.   It was pretty cold down there, but we hiked one day.

We went to a kid’s museum where it’s a treat to pretend to be grocery shoppers. As opposed to when are an adult and it’s the dullest, most repetitive chore this side of unloading a dishwasher.

We went to the snow via the tram another day. It’s pretty fab that you can go from desert to snow in ten minutes.  We learned that our kids are as snow adverse as we are.  Two hours were more than enough for all.  Phew, was afraid I’d have to pay for skiing one day.  Let some other white mom do that.

Sure, first it’s fun.

Then that fluffy white stuff gets cold.  I think this is the moment when the Vivster turned on the winter wonderland.

So, that brings us to New Years.   No planning= magic.  Or at least managed expectations.  Otherwise New Years can be as bleak as Valentine’s day after a break up.

It’s easy to stay at home (or temporary, rented condo home) on New Years when we travel with one of the best chefs.  While Rex napped, Mark made a great dinner, anchored by his roast chicken.  Vivien and I watched “Empire Strikes Back”.  I felt like I was giving her a hit of the pop cultural crack pipe.  “THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE!” I gushed like a pusher.

Viv, “Why is that man in that black case?”  Since Star Wars runs through my brain as if it’s my own life it was odd to have to explain Darth Vader.

“Okay, I’m going to pause it.  Yoda just said to Obie Wan, ‘there is another’, Bookmark that.”

We had a our dinner.  Popped New years crackers with funny hats and toys. We were all chatting and laughing.  Toasting MP for his great dinner.

I asked everyone to say what were the best things about 2012.

“Okay!” everyone went along with me.  Mind you, had the kids not been there Mark and I would have been howling “WHAT a F–ing awful year!  We closed two businesses.  UGH”  But, instead I concentrated on the positive, “Kevin being nominated for an Oscar and Leslie’s wedding“.

Then I asked everyone to write down something they wanted to leave behind in ’12.   I asked that they stay private and that then we burn them.  Everyone was game.  I told Rex he could just scribble his down and think it. But, he said he wanted to share.

” I don’t like being in the car on the freeway.” I was sorry he mentioned it because there is scant chance we can go through 2013 without driving on a freeway.  If so, what does that do to the pain I want to leave behind in ’12? Maybe I can take more surface streets.  My belief in New Years Magic might be challenged.

We went out to the patio and watched the dregs of 2012 quickly burn.  I wanted to have a moment to mediate on us  leaving our hardships behind.  I wanted to allow our collective ritual to digest in our mind.

But, it was really cold and Mark spied the TV,

“Return of the Jedi’ is starting.”  They all ran toward the door.  As Jabba the hut spoke I interjected, “Hey, didn’t everyone feel good about that leaving behind, burning thing? ”  Silence. “That was good, huh?”

Silence as they were focused on trying to get Hans Solo unfrozen.

Princess Leia was in her bikini chained up.  “You know”, I said to no on in particular, use to being ignored at this point. “Carrie Fisher was starving herself and doing drugs to get that thin for this movie.” 6 eyeballs stayed focused on the screen.

The party had peaked.  It’s best to know when to wrap it up.

Happy New Year