pre travel jitters

I think I become OCD before I go on a big trip.

I have pulled our passports out 4 times already and will do so 10 more times before we leave.

I always have the soap opera look, “Did I leave the stove on?” expression as I check, recheck and check again. I’m not a nervous flyer.  But, I do worry about leaving things that are essential.  Passport, credit card, children.

Of course this trip I am purposefully leaving a child behind. This has it’s tension.  I was up late wrapping little presents for his aunt and baby sitter to give him while we are gone.  Then I started thinking will he be wondering “where is mommy?” more when he gets a present from her?  How am I harming my child this time.   Finally went to bed hugging him next to me. His skin never seemed silkier, his breath never sweeter, his little hand holding mine.  The magic of holding his hand.

I warned Vivien, “When he leaves with Aunt Cecily today don’t cry.  He will follow our lead. We have to be strong for him.”  I was really telling myself.  I’m having my sister come before we go to the airport as I want him to feel he is leaving us, not the other way around.

The leave takings are always the hardest, and once a trip has started you lose yourself to the trip.  But, this is new ground for me.  One I purposely set out on, filled with misgivings.  Like going to grad school.

I pray Rex has a great, fun week playing with his cousins and friends, knowing his aunts and uncles  are there for him.

My mantra as I board the plane “it’s only a week.  It’s only a week.”  7 sleeps is what I said to Rex. 7 sleeps away from the soft skin, the sweet breath, the little hand.

Runaway Mom

Now, I don’t mean like that lady who did the old “oh, some black men have kidnapped me” bag o’ crap that nobody should have fallen for since that lady drove her kids in the lake using practically the same story. I mean come on lady, at least give credit to the balloon dad for originality. I’m thinking of a more lighthearted runaway situation. Like a half day at a spa. Or at least two hours reading a book at Coffee bean and tea leaf.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has moments when you want to walk out the door unencumbered. My mom had a friend who did it for real. Left the 5 kids and the husband. Kind of ’70s thing I think. Course if I had 5 kids and no support I might bolt too.

I just want mini runaways. Because after a few hours I would miss my family. But, jeez, sometimes I’d like the chance to miss them.

Sante Fe: What We Think They Will Like

Well, here is what I thought I would be posting last week.  But I came home to find out some people were mad at me that I had the temerity to be upset about being robbed.

Moving on… We really wanted a family vacation. Couldn’t do the 2 weeks Europe I had envisioned when we had money, you know, 8 months ago, so what to do? Fortunately, I have a friend who has a home in Sante Fe, New Mexico. She said if it wasn’t rented out, we could stay there as long as we paid for the cleaning service at the end of our stay. Terrific. I love the southwest, and I really want my kids to see some nature. Yes, La Brea and Wilshire is lovely, but perhaps a tree would be a welcome change for the young ones.

One of our days we took a hike out of town. As Vivien kept saying “I don’t like this; this is boring.” I grinded my teeth and thought, “But I loved going into the woods when I was a kid. “

As parents, we plan for the perfect vacation, and then your kids find something else they like a lot better. Like when we took this shuttle to the rental car, Vivien was joyous.

Of course, she rarely has ever been in a motorized vehicle where she didn’t have to be strapped to a seat so I get it, but to me it was a period to get through. Throw our crap on, then throw it off. For her, it’s an E ticket (except she wouldn’t know what that means.)

Perhaps it’s because kids don’t have the context we have. See her excitement as we show her the oldest house in the US.

We didn’t always drag her to the history and art museums.  We did take her to the kids’ museum, which she loved.

And I would have too if they had sold espresso. Why, why not?

And then there was the most magic moment of the whole trip. Where Vivien herself found the joy, found the out of the ordinary, the thing we don’t do in LA. As we left dinner one night, she heard music playing and asked us if we could go find it. We walked to the plaza, and there were couples on the bandstand all dancing the tango. It was recorded music, but it filled the warm night.

I said, “Do you want me to dance with you?”  She said, “Ah, ah, what about daddy?”

Mark was thrilled, since he is use to her going to me more than to him. She charged up to the stage without any hesitation, and they danced to song after song. She tried to follow the dancers’ footsteps.

Why do I plan? I should just follow.

My Weekend With The Edell’s

Sometimes you feel like family with people who are not relatives, actually often. I have a brother who is not my “real” brother. For any of you who knew me in my radio days you’d know Dr. Dean Edell is a very important person in my life. I produced his radio show and he gave me a chance to become not only his on-air foil, but to co host a TV show of his.  Professionally I owe a great deal to him. In Addition, his influence on my life as a mentor is so immense I have called him my “second dad”, sometimes I have even suggested that he “re-raised me.” Some people need to grow up again, I was one of those people. As if that were not enough, he and his wife Sharon have been warm friends to me.

I reluctantly stepped away from the show, because I felt I had to grow professionally and creatively. If you’ve ever had to separate from a mentor you know how hard it can be. I gave him 10 months notice.

That was in mid 1999. We have kept in touch and I have even filled in for Heather sometimes, my friend who took over my producing job. But, I have missed talking to Dean and getting his counsel. This past weekend Vivien and I went to Northern California and spent the weekend with he and his wife Sharon in their home at the intersection of nowhere, and where the hell am I? It is really, really remote. I loved catching up with them, but most of all to see them with Vivien filled my heart.

You know how you feel when your parents and your kid are digging each other? That’s how being with Dean and Sharon felt for me. Dean kept trying to connect with Vivien and make her laugh, sometimes she was shy, and sometimes it worked. He is a pro, he and Sharon have 8 grown children between them and about 7 grand kids.

We were walking back from the river one day and Vivien, who was walking with Sharon and I suddenly said, “I want to run and catch up with him.” She dashed to catch up with Dean (her floaty on his head), and took his hand. They walked hand and hand back home.

Another family portrait.

Vacation Rehab

I was so excited there was water on our vacation at Yosemite this year, because for many years our butts have scraped gravel while we tried to raft.

I pushed the stroller and carried Vivien up to Bridalveil Fall so she could take in the wonder of the huge, beautiful, glorious falls. See how excited she is? Yeah, that was worth the effort.

Vivien in Yosemite

When I called my sister Cecily on Sunday and she said, “I am so tired.”

“Thank God,” I said, “I thought it was just me.” I came back from my whirlwind, blended-family vacation in Yosemite and Mammoth on Friday the 4th, yet still felt pooped and hit the ground running with work Monday. Also, a National Park vacation means days of laundry upon return. I also had my assisted-living-bound dad over which takes some energy… and clean up.

What’s the vacation people come back refreshed from?

But it all went great. There were 11 of us: sisters, step-children and more. Hiking, biking… and we weren’t camping, we stayed in cottages. I CAN’T camp anymore, I’m too old. (God, then I’d really be tired.)

More favorable than the waterfall, later that day I asked Vivien, “How do you like your hot dog?” Here’s her response.

Vivien gives the hot dog a thumbs-up