in case my posting remotely hasn’t worked here is a review of the high points of most vacations.

1) grinding anxiety before I leave.  I am a careful packer, not as much as my mom who can pack in a wallet for week.  But, I hate bringing to much and I usually end up wearing the same black skirt, black shirt, most of the trip. When in doubt, look like a mime.  I also have to pack for everyone else.  At the last minute Mark throws in enough tonnage to cause us to be charged for our bags.  Grrrr.  I pee 19 times before I get in the car.

2) LAX… either we got lucky and got in the quick line or not.  I find departures not too terrible.  But arrival back is brutal.  My kingdom for an airport with centralized rent a car, a dedicated lane for cabs, a light rail that goes to the airport.  Wait, that sounds like Europe.

3) Time to watch movies.  If Rex will settle ( Please, oh please) I will finally get to watch non animated movies. I also have a People Magazine, and 2 books. Nothing to heavy.  I can’t concentrate with 300 farting people around me.

4) We land.  A mix of excitement, humidity and exhaustion.  Then the adjustment to toilets looking differently.  I’m noticing a pattern in my thought.

5) Lot’s of fun sightseeing and food. Lots of posting of pictures so everything knows how great life is.

6) Annoyance with everyone I’m with.  It’s bound to happen. No posting of pictures.  I don’t want people to know how shitty life is.

7) Time to go.  My careful packing is down the tubes.  Everything is rumpled and dirty, but I no longer care.  Do I still have a hair brush?


I love travel.

early summer road trip

I usually save my big family road trips for the end of summer, but a few factors forced it to June, which was fine.  I’m just back with, a yet again, dirty car and a great appreciation for the Golden state and the power of junk food to quiet children at a nameless truck stop.


It’s always nice to come home and realize you might have a pair of clean underwear in your future, but even in a quiet moment in my back yard there is the hum.  The constant running of something, many things in a city.  I got to taste the clarity of quiet and I’m still thirsty for it.

That’s why we endure the dirty cars and the truck stops.

Family Road Trip

Okay, so here is magnum opus on my last hurrah of summer.  To some driving around in a mini van for two weeks with two small children might be hellish.  I was in heaven.  Did they listen when I tried to tell them the importance behind Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the storm”?  No, but we bonded in other ways.  Most of it we did as three for the road, but Mark joined us 8 days in.

Being a mom of two littles is easier for me on the open road.  We aren’t chained to our screens.  Away from stressors.  That’s why they call it vacation.  Mountain of laundry

War, action heroes, the balance of family travel in Amsterdam

H, Happy day!

So, after the wedding in Amsterdam we had some days to sightsee and eat more bread and cheese.  They aren’t big on lunches there, you just grab a crusty, cheese thing with a piece of cheese and go.  That diet might mean you never have a bowel movement, but they have great iced coffee drinks.

I’ll eat veggies when I get home.

Mark and I were in complete agreement on where we wanted to go the most:  The Dutch Resistence Museum.  What 6 year old doesn’t want to go to an in depth look at the oral histories of the civilian response to Nazi occupation and deportation?  There is a zoo across the street, so as we dragged her to our WW2 fix I promised that after the exhibit and lunch ( because I love eating at museum cafes) we would go to the zoo.

When I’m in Europe I get fixated on the Holocaust.  In the town of Anne Frank’s hiding place, all the more.  I went to that place years ago  ( now it’s quite a long wait).  The Resistence Museum is across town and less known, but packs a lot of history and emotion for your 8 euros.  It has tons of oral history and goes chronologically.  You can see how The Dutch were hoodwinked initially by the Germans that they might not be that bad.  But, as time went on The Dutch got the picture and held a strike to protest the deportation of the Jews.   They had to stop the strike after a couple of days since the Gestapo was threatening to kill them.  The museum does not try to make it sound like everyone were heros.  There are plenty of stories of collaborators or people who said, “well, I work for the German’s now, so what?”

The first 15 minutes of our visit Vivien was whining, “This is boring mommy.”  I finally said, “Look, daddy and I love this, and we are not leaving.  You can participate or not, but we are not leaving.”  Then she did get into a bit.  I distilled some parts down for her.  “You know how name calling is bad? This is name calling to the inth degree.  Do you know what De humanizing is?”  They had some cool things like drawers you would open and read underground messages, so that kept her busy.  Pushing buttons, stuff like that.

“Vivien, a big take away here for you is that the US and Russia stopped this bad stuff from happening.  Had the US not come in it would not have stopped.”

After two hours my eyes were drying out.  I was thinking, oh, good the war is almost over I can have lunch.  Which, after reading about the 20 thousand Dutch who starved during the last winter of the war I felt a big bad about.  Just when the Allies had arrived Mark and Vivien appeared. Mark said excitedly, “go in there it’s all about the Japanese occupation of Indonesia!”

Oh, great.  I started to, but I felt we had pushed Viv to the brink.  The adjoining cafe was lovely.  I said, “Let’s talk about what we have learned.”

Mark looked like, huh?  I gave him the “trying to engage our daughter intellectually , ok?” look.

Vivien said something like, “There were some people who treated other people really badly, and that’s not okay.”

Yes.  That’s the message.  I didn’t want to go to into the graphic nature.  Gassing children, etc.  It gives me nightmares.

While we were there I bought a book that I loved.  Cannot reccommend it enough.  It’s called “Eva’s Story”.  Written by Anne Frank’s stepsister Eva Schloss.  She had been a neighbor of the Franks and her family also went into hiding and also were captured.  Her father and brother perished, but her mother and she survived. Her mother later married Otto Frank.  It is her memoir and it reads like a thriller.  Except, it’s real people.  Very good, very interesting.  Inspiring what people can live through.  Makes ones own problems seem very tiny.

After lunch we walked across the street.  The weather had been perfect all week.  Until now.  The clouds opened and the rain started.  Not the light rain that can occur there, but cold and heavy.  Great, the kid gets dragged through her parents deal and now this.

“We can wait it out or go back to Aunt Leslie’s.”  She opted for the latter.

Rain stopped after 15 minutes.  After that it was hard to get her to leave the house with us. Hang out with Grandma, who she loves, or risk another “history lesson” with her parents.

Fortunately my daughter loves the Kassvlinders like I do, so she agreed to come along.  I decided we needed to spice up the family travel pics.  “Let’s be action heros!”  After examining the horrors of war I think I need to role play war heros.



IS she my kid or what?

I want to do action poses in front of a variety of world landmarks.

There was an advertisement that was posted all over Amsterdam.  So, MP and I did our own version.

Finally, Viv got to go to a local park.  She played while I watched for Nazi’s.

June Gloom

IT has arrived IT is the haze that moves in on Southern California every June ( sometimes May, but we were spared this year).  People who live in colder climates will know doubt say, “cry me a river”.  For us who are use to days on end of perfect days the unceasing haze can drive us to re up long dormant prescriptions for happy pills, or try out new cocktails.

The trip I had postponed so I could be home for Oliver’s prom. With five offspring there is never a good time to get away. By going away this weekend we missed Viv’s best friend’s birthday party and spending time with my stepdaughter who is visiting ( we will see her this week however), but I would lose the money I had put down on the cabin so we went.

Just getting my husband away from striking distance from his restaurant has value.  He is trapped, he has to stay with us.  We drove north and stopped at this cute little place in Summerland.  I really wanted a non corporate cup of coffee and this place, Cafe Luna, reminded me of college days in Santa Cruz.  The kids loved their smoothies.Just when we were going to get back on the road to our “glamping” site Mark spied an outdoor oven in the back.  Ends up they have a chef and make a few things in this outdoor oven for dinner.  Oh, let’s stay I said.  I chatted up the owner ala John Carl Brogdonand ordered the roast chicken- fantastic and the meat loaf, good, but would use a tad less sauce and peppers.  The smashed potatoes had rosemary and truffle oil. Yum.  We brought in our bottle of Sancerre we had.  The kids could scamper on the patio.

a little self portrait

Great places for a family.  We hit the road the next morning awoke to a gloomy day north of Santa Barbara.  Sigh.  There goes the beach swim thing.

Fortunately, a Llama farm hike saved the day.  We hiked up a hill to visit with Llama and goats and sheep with a view of the water. Usually I only see this view from the window of a speeding car.  It was nice to be in it instead of looking at it. We didn’t need clear sun to make this a sweet outing.


For dinner we made tri tip over an open fire.  Great for the kids to scamper outside.  Dodge poison oak instead of cars, avoid skunks instead of creepy people who park their cars a little long on a street.  But, dang it, there is NO way to look pretty when you camp.  It can get to me. 

I told Mark that if we could cover our computers, TV and phones at home we could stay in our home comfy home with our full bar and save a lot of money.  He would have to vow to stay with us for 36 hours.  Even on the hike I caught him checking his phone sometimes, “put that down” I yelled.

That night the place we stayed had an awesome band, “The Rawhides”.  Country by way of rocka billy.  They were tight.  I loved hearing music, outdoors and being able to dance with my kids.  The normal schlep of concerts.  Babysitters, late at night, sitting down or standing up in a stinky bar does not appeal to me, but I miss out on the magic of live music.  Here we got it.  I danced some, but the sweetest thing was to see Viv and her dad dance.  They never sat down.

The next morning more haze.  I needed some reframing, ” let’s see the beautiful overcast beach” in my head I thought, “I’ll pretend it’s the Oregon Coast”.  My sensitivity to cloudy weather is a big reason I fled back home after many years in Northern California.  But, this morning I adjusted, we all did.  

I love this picture.

Of course when we got back to the big city the haze had burned off.   I did three loads of laundry. And more gloom with my dinner. It laid an egg.  Oliver didn’t eat it because I had served him a late lunch, Vivien said, “Is that all there is?”  Pork and Salad. What more do you want?

“all pork is dry”

” Where are you picking up these crazy ideas.  It’s pork shoulder not a chop.  I brined it.”

She was use to Sunday dinner with dad when their are more things on the table.  I found some leftover arancini balls and she ate those.  Rex was wound up. Literally.  He was lying in my suitcase, nearby as I had unloaded it’s contents into the washing machine.  ( Later I tricked him into eating while he watched Mickey Mouse on youtube)

I fell asleep holding Rex and smelling the campfire in his hair.  I’ll deal with that tomorrow.