is it too soon for history?

We are back from a spring break trip to Washington DC.  lady in washington hatIt was great except it snowed the first day, the last day and rained the others.  Wait, there was ONE day we had clear skies. So much for “Spring”.

Viv, sis and I ready for sightseeing.  Is it Spring yet?

Viv, sis and I ready for sightseeing. Is it Spring yet?

Fortunately it was the day we walked on the Mall.  From Arlington Cemetery to the Spy Museum.

map of the dc mallThe trip was meaty.  Lots going on.  Sights of historical significance, Ford’s theatre, great food.  Red Hen was the best dinner of the trip.  Great architecture, show me the brick!.   Kafe Bohem, sigh,  I miss the great breakfasts.   Seeing old friends.

if you are in DC area check out my comic friend Queen Aishah, HIlarious and great person

if you are in DC area check out my comic friend Queen Aishah, HIlarious and great person

Loved not driving most of the time.  Metro, I loves ya.

But, more than once I thought, are my kids ready for this?  Moments where I thought, “I DID THE RIGHT THING”.  When Vivien was transfixed by the Lincoln Memorial and read his speeches carved into the wall. children and lincolnchildren get lincoln When I said, “this is where Martin Luther King gave his ‘I have a dream speech’ and she didn’t run and scowl, but stopped and took a picture there.  children and I have a dreamTouching how many parents are doing the same thing.  After the memorial Vivien was begging for a hot chocolate, “we must keep going.” cried crazy mom.  My sister Cecily, who traveled with us knew better.  “I’ll get you one” as she helped my limping 8 year old to a warm coco.  I walked along the Vietnam memorial overhearing parents say to their kids, “you see it was a time of great unrest…”

What is the right age to take this in?  Or is it in dribs and drabs?  Certainly when I lost Rex in the spy museum ( an over rated for profit venture) I thought, I was wrong to come.  When he ran up the down escalator in the Metro I thought “too young”.  But, if I wait till he is ready for knowledge and travel Vivien will be a jaded teen lost to me.

Certainly a highlight was visiting the White House.  Had to pull some strings to get in their and even so there was a long, cold wait to get in. visiting the white house Not like the ’90’s where I had a friend who work in the White House and I was waved in more than once with a only a look at my license.  At one point Rex started to go under the velvet rope, but a secret service man scolded him and he shrank back.  One of the many times I was fine with a stranger reprimanding my son.  “Go for it, I need the help.”

DC , like many American cities of late, has improved.  We we rented  a home in an area some friends were worried about.  A mixed neighborhood that had seen riots/uprisings in the ’60’s, crack in the 80’s. But, now the historical structures of Ledroit Park can shine and it’s lovely.  It’s near Howard University and we had occasion to visit their ER for a minor problem and they were great.  It was far nicer than any ER around LA. I like feeling like I live in a place when I visit.  I walked thru the snow to a grocery store.  I would stay there again for sure.

One day we rented a car and went to Mt. Vernon.

Cecily is fun to travel with

Cecily is fun to travel with

A place I remembered from visiting with my dad when I was 9.  Since then they have added a memorial to the slaves that toiled there.  They have also added a video presentation with of all people Pat Sajak telling visitors what to see at George Washington’s home. Was Vanna not avail?pat sajak mt vernon “Don’t forget to see the slave quarters and where they stored the tropical plants.”  My sister leaned in, “because there is a real moral equivalency.”   When the five minute Wheel of Washington was done Rex said,

“He was nice.  But, he seems like a reporter.”  Close Rex.  Yes, hundreds of years of slavery is not Pat Sajak’s fault.  But, I was getting irate at the founding fathers.  Um, what was that about independence, rights of man?

It was raining so I didn’t make it to the slave quarters.  Rex’s shoes and pants were soaked in rain and mud.  He was gleefull.  We stood before George Washington’s old tomb and he said, “mommy, I got to go pee.”



“Rex, wait.”

“I can’t”. Pause.   Then he ran off splashing more in the mud. Well, maybe it was fitting.

Fortunately, Walmart is close and I ran in and got him a whole new outfit as we were headed to meet friends for a nice dinner.

One key note about air travel with kids, if they don’t have individual screens on the plane, forget it.  We didn’t have them going, but did coming back and it made a huge difference. I wish we could make our reservations based on this.  I can handle the crap food, but kid climbing on me is tougher.  Course one consequence was I watched “12 years a slave” on the plane.  Woof.  Brutal.  When we got home I had insomnia and stayed up reading slave memoirs online.  The sexual exploitation alone makes me marvel that black people didn’t rise up and kill all white people.  Jefferson, sneer.  He allowed his own children to be enslaved.  They got to be freed when he died, that’s the bone he threw them.

When I went to Europe I ruminated about the holocaust.  I know, I could walk any area near me and think of the Native Americans killed and run off their land.  Sadly, man’s humanity to man is too clear.

So, in the end it is dribs and drabs for my kids and for me.  You know history, but at different moments facts and sensory collide to make it more real.

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

Road trip 2

Okay, so this is the part 2 of my Spring Break family adventure.  Not like Hangover 2… except I think they both had barf in them.

Just so you know what an awful mother I am… we pulled over while Rex was sleeping.  In the FRONT seat, he would only barf in the back seat.  Well, we wanted to redeem this sick ride and pulled over to see the Giant Redwoods.

There were almost no cars on the side of the road… a little bit off the highway… where we parallelled park to where you can walk in and scramble under and on these massive redwood trees.  The downed trees lay on the ground and the standing ones let in little sunshine so it’s a mossy, insulated carpet like world.  We locked the car with Rex inside  I was planning to only walk a few feet away with my brand new camera, but was so captivated I walked further.   I think ten minutes passed when Vivien and Mark were climbing over a downed tree asking me to climb up as well.

“no I better check on Rex”  Usually he is out for a long time when he sleeps in the car.

There was an old lady sitting on stump near the road.  “It’s like Avatar!”  She started talking to me like I knew her.  I was trying to be polite but felt I needed to get to the car.  Then I heard the shrieking.  Rex had awoken.  To an EMPTY car.  He was LOCKED in.  He was POUNDING on the glass.

“Excuse me”  I said as I ran to the car to let my trapped child out.

The kept talking, “if one tree dies they all die.”

I opened up the car.  He was hysterical. Poor baby.  I felt like crap.  Well, I really felt Mark should feel like bigger crap, because at least I came back.  He was still skipping around like a blue faced what cha ma call it.

Rex recovered fast and he liked the trees too.

the boy formerly known as traumatized

Then about 90 minutes later we were at our goal.  The country home of my former boss, mentor, dear friend, second dad Dr. Dean Edell He and his wife Sharon have a happy life there.  He is retired and has a great spread, kind of like his own little Yosemite.  I visited once before when Viv was 3 and Rex was in my belly.   The carefree days of thinking I had a secure financial future.

Dean and lil' Viv

It was great to see them.  They are dear people.  Sharon has a PhD in Geology and co authored the first book on California Oaks, so hiking with her I learned more than in most college class.  Bonus, no homework. It was great for my kids to just run and play and not scream at them for fear they were going to be hit by a car.

I really dug that the Edell’s said my kids were the most fearless kids they’d seen there.  Vivien went on her own little hike and came back with a deer jaw.  Later I walked with the kids and we saw the other parts remaining of the deer.  “This is how animals really are, it’s not like Disney” I said.  Really telling myself since I grew up in LA I thought nature was Swiss Family Robinson Tree house in Disney land.  Fiberglass looks so real!

It was too short of a visit.  Next time we have to stay longer.  Next time I’m not driving down from Portland!  The ride home was a tad brutal.  So brutal I begged to have a few hours of sleep at some truck stop motel.

The kids were kissing the house when we returned.  It did go through my mind.. “why did I do this? Why do I make the effort, spend the money?”  Ah, we ate great ice cream, saw great friends and saw deer bones. That’s why.


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)


bracing for the chain gang

back to school is almost here!!

Crap, where is Vivien’s water bottle?

Our trip was a success.  The kids and I raised our game and did better than we would at home. This is how I hide my dirty clothes, muffin top and general filth that occurs after 6 days of travel.  This was our last day visiting the great hall at the Awhanhee hotel.

They were cool with couch surfing through San Francisco and friends opened their

My friend Eleanor even had hand me down toys waiting for them!

homes to us aplenty.

Yosemite area was great.  We ( hopefully) dodged the deadly mice poo and they loved being in nature.   We spent one night at the Evergreen lodge ( loved), and one at Yosemite Lodge.  Room was okay, great to be by the river, but the cafeteria breakfast, blech, awful from bad lighting to the no seasoned eggs.  Glad my husband wasn’t there for that.  Thankfully, Uncle Mark and cousin Lily were there for much needed pillow fight. 

We met up with my sister Cecily’s family there for Cec’s bday.  Once Aunt Cec arrived I Rex discarded me like yesterday’s newspapers.  He was a great traveller and poor guy got car sick on the way home.  Yes, his new car seat was washed pronto.  Yes, he did partially vomit on my face.

They did finally say, “are we ever going to stay in one place more than one night?”  No, sorry, we gotta keep moving.

The laundry is large and I had to get the car detailed when I got home, but it was worth it.  Now, I’m planning lunches, labeling things and looking forward to a blow out tomorrow after drop off because there are twigs in my hair.

I hope they are twigs.


Summer bucket list

I might not be the most prolific blogger this week.  I’m working on my summer bucket list.


Natural history museum= check

take kids on new light rail = check

picnic across town with old friend in favorite park = check

spend time with Oliver before he leaves for college = check ( and he is gone)

take Viv shopping for back to school clothes = check

Take the kids to the beach = check


see my friends who live in greater LA area, but are kind of far out. = 1 0ut of 3 check.  Malibu, yes,  OC, Castaic no.

The last thing on my list is 1) Vivien finishing her summer homework.  It’s so she keeps her academic brain in shape, but truley 70 % I do in the last  2 weeks of the summer. 2) GETTING OUT OF TOWN.  I’m  taking my kids to San Francisco.  I lived there for over 9 years and have some serious good friends there.  My kids are just old enough that a road trip with them doesn’t terrify me and also I think I can do it because I bought  a two screen strapped to the headrest DVD player.  Just used it to Santa  Barbara and with the headphones my life has changed.  If they take out the headphones I go nuts as I don’t think I can listen to “The Cat in the Hat” movie anymore despite my admiration for Mike Meyers.

From SF I am taking them to Yosemite.  The holy grail of spirituality for me.  Growing up we went every year and I was conceived there.  This is the longest I’ve gone without going there in my life.  The last time was the summer of ’08.  Halycon days.  I was pregnant with Rex and the economy hadn’t tanked.  We still thought we had money and had never heard  of Bernie Madoff.  I rented the most expensive cabins for family members, our treat.   The last couple of years between money and Rex being so little I haven’t gone.

little did I know that in a few months my life would be turned upside down

Now, I’m going to the lesser accomodations, but, it’s fine.  I just want to smell the warm pine, I want to feel the cold Merced River around my feet. I want Rex to experience it.  I want my kids to get addicted to it they way I did.  I’m already covered in mosquito bites here, so why not get closer to nature.  I want to walk in the meadow that I walked with my father, looking up at half dome.  Where he told me we owed this park to President Lincoln.  Where my sisters and I floated down intertubes in our river shoes, our mom making hot coco for us at our cabin or tent.

By they way, look how hot my mom is here.  How she could look like that sitting on a rock while staying up in the mountains I have no idea.  I remember my swim suit.  I loved it.

I feel a bit brave doing this without Mark.  I’ve never taken such a an extensive trip with my kids without another adult.  But, I’m tired of being a mommy shut in.  I think we can do it.

The right time would be when we could all go.  But, Mark has to work and my father is never coming back.

The right time to go would be when I could afford several nights in a comfy cabin with a full bath.  But, who knows when that will be.

The right time is right now.  I have to seize the moment. I haven’t been back since my dad died.  I will hear his voice cautioning me not to go to close the falls.  Yelling at me not to order a full entree at the Ahwahnee dining room because it was so expensive  ($12).

I think it’s a shame that the parks are pricing out the middle class.  The nicest hotel there, the Ahwahnee is over $500 a night.  The Curry tents with no bath are $150. Growing up our family would stay one to two weeks.  Not going to happen now.

Next week, we will be back to school.  I will be an assistant AYSO coach.  So, feel the sun!  It’s starting to set. ( slamm door, motor on, burning rubber, see yah)

Amsterdam: the comings and goings

In short, what a great trip.  From being blessed with perfect weather to being surrounded by family, ones we knew and new ones to us.

The transitions of travel are always the worst.

Most difficult: leaving Rex.  My beloved sister Cecily showed up at 10am.  We were going to go to the airport at 11am.  I wanted him to feel he was leaving us, not the other way around. We had gotten him ready with lots of “how fun for you, you are going on a sleep over.”  Vivien was very good at helping with this.  As I put him in Cecily’s car he said, “I’m lucky.”  Little crack in my heart.  I started to choke up and Mark said to hold together till he left.  They pulled away and I sobbed a bit as I walked back into the house, but I stopped myself because I felt if I followed that path I would never stop.   Cecily had wisely planned to drive him straight to a fun play space.  Before we got on the plane she sent me this picture of him hamming it up in a ball pit.  Relief.

He was having more fun than we were.  So we sent them this picture.

Sitting around, sitting around.

Later when we were crammed in the plane to begin a ten-hour journey I had my first of many “better Rex is NOT here”. Anytime we were waiting around or in a crowd I thought the same as he would bolt.  I thought KLM would be a tad better than it was. It was fine and the attendants are much friendlier than US ones, but my big beef was their stupid entertainment system and the arm rests that don’t go up beyond a couple of inches.  We were three to a row, so Vivien should have been able to stretch out across her parents laps and get some shut-eye, but no. The arm rests don’t go up, they can’t there is no room for them to tuck into between the seats.  I am taking this to the Hague. Back to the gripes with the in flight entertainment.

1) the control looked like a an old game boy and if you accidentally hit it with your hip (which I did over and over again) you have to start the movie again and then fast forward to your place.  I was watching “The Vow”  a Channing Tatum romantic weeper.  Because of the bump breaks I became fixated on finishing the movie.  Mark would start to talk to me.  “I can’t talk, I have 22 minutes left of this damm film, and by God, I’m going to finish it.”  I also am now a tad obsessed with Channing Tatum.

2) non glare screen.  What a lousy screen.  I love flying Virgin to NYC as I catch up on movie watching.  But, on that flight I can see the movie.  On the flight home I gave up as the  dude behind me would not put his shade down.  I think the international sign of pointing to his window and gesturing downward didn’t work. He smiled, but didn’t do anything.  Maybe he thought I was telling him I was saying goodbye to Holland.

3) Have there been no good movies out in the last few months or does KLM have a lousy list? Going to Europe for my second film I watched, “21 Jump Street”  further cementing my Channing Tatum fixation.  I held the control in front of me for over 90 minutes so I wouldn’t hit the button and end the film.  My right arm muscles got a work out.  Actually, “21 Jump Street” was much more amusing than I had anticipated, but I thought there might be one of the Oscar nominees on the flight.

However the food was fine.  We easily moved to a cab in the Amsterdam airport.  All five of us.  Mark’s oldest son Ben, my Mother in Law, who had been stretched out in Business Class, Mark, Viv and I. We got a large cab and every single cab we had it Holland  I could live in.  They were immaculate.  The drivers were gentleman, often in blazers who spoke perfect English.  NOTHING like cab drivers in NYC or LA that’s for sure.

When we got back to the States at the end of our trip we were wrung out.  Viv and I couldn’t sleep a wink on the plane.  The bags took forever and when we went through customs I was sweating like I was in “Midnight Express”  I had some Gouda buried in my bag and I thought I might end up in the hoosegow.    Maybe I could have shoved it between my butt cheeks like a drug smuggler, but it was a big hunk of cheese.  I have had enough butt problems.   Fortunately once we said we had no tulip bulbs ( we did not) we were fine.  Fine until Mark got us on the wrong shuttle to our long term parking and we were driven to a neighboring city– not kidding.  We got back on while three rather uneducated young people screamed profanities at each other over Vivien’s head.  “hey watch your mouth”  I said, risking being stabbed.

We finally got to the car. The only thing keeping me going was seeing Rex.  I had called the baby sitter when we landed.  She said this was the first day he was getting anxious.   “Where is my mommy?”  We pulled up and he was outside.  Viv and I ran to him.  I swear he had changed in a week.  His hair was blonder, his features more defined.

” I talked to you mommy on Dolly’s phone.”  We had the day before.  “Yes, baby.”  He was happy.  Twice he said, “mommy, I didn’t cry.”

I buried my head in his soft, sweet skin.  Later around 5pm I told the kids eat now or forget it because I’m about to pass out.  Mark had gone into work.

As Viv slept and I tried to Rex was jumping on me like Hulk Hogan.  I called Mark, “Please come home.”  Later when Mark brought a sleeping Rex into our bed.  I held Rex’s foot.

I held his foot all night.

More posts on our great trip to Amsterdam will be forthcoming.

Who says moms can’t be spontaneous?

Um, that would have been me.  Since Vivien’s birth I’ve been saying that I’m a borderline shut in.  Partly due to the fact that until she was well over a year she would SCREAM if put in the car.  The walking helped me lose weight, but hard to go more than a couple of miles at best.

Then Little Rex comes along and the thought of trucking with two little ones seemed to hold more planning than I could muster.  You pack the entire house, make a little space so I can back the car up and, oh, forget it, we will stay at home.  Add to the equation that trying to get some free time on my husband’s schedule is pretty tough and I am back on the couch watching cartoons again.  How can I handle two kids on my own out of town?  Can’t be done.

Or can it?

I have been wanting to take Vivien to the Santa Barbara zoo since she was about 2. I realized this past Friday was the one day that NOTHING was scheduled.  No shots, no work, no preschool, no nothing.  So I said, that’s it, I’m not even going to think about it, let’s go.  I said to Mark I would love it if he could come, but of course he couldn’t.  The one good mommy sense I had was that I packed extra clothes for the kids and even an extra shirt for me.

Lot’s of traffic on the way up, but Rex sleeps most of the way (not the screamer his sis was) and Vivien has her DVD.  The zoo is great.  Compact unlike the overly large LA Zoo.  Well landscaped and easy to navigate.

What did I do right?  I grabbed the zoo food as soon as we walked in.  We all control the dipping blood sugar.  The whole journey I put my picky, foodie tastes aside as there was NO way I was going to be able to ingest anything desirable with Rex.  I have to feed Rex like he is Helen Keller before Ann Bancroft showed up.  Chasing after him or letting him grab a bit as he runs off somewhere.  The food there was totally edible.  The other helpful tool was my bugaboo with the standing board.

Added bonus I got a work out pushing them up hills.

The other great thing about the SB zoo is that they have wide swaths of green and a little stage the kids can play on.  The greenery is jarring to an Angeleno. Don’t forget the TRAIN.  A big reason I had been wanting to take them was the zoo has a little train that rings the park.  Sweet.

We saw EVERYTHING.  Then went to the beach area and I ate some pizza with the speed as if the Russians were down the street.  We came to a great park that delighted the kids so much I didn’t even pine for an espresso like I usually so when I’m standing in sand.  Vivien was saying something over and over to me that I have thought since the ’80’s, “Why don’t we live in Santa Barbara?”

Sigh, it’s like going back to LA 60 years ago.  Less people, orange groves on the edge of town, Spanish tile roofs, albeit no affordable housing or plentiful jobs, but look at the water!

“Vivien why do you like it here more than at home?”

“There is more air.” Out of the mouth of babes.

The sun was almost gone (just after 8pm) when we left the park (mostly because some large adults had shown up to play on the slide which I thought not right) and crossed over to another large expanse of green, this one next to the beach.  I just sat as the kids ran around.

At one point Vivien suddenly started meditating like a yogi. I didn’t even know she knew about that. It was the magic of the trip and the magic of summer.  Where you are still out playing long after you would normally be in bed.  Why hustle them to bed?  Did we have anywhere to be in the morning?  No. In fact Vivien kept begging to stay.  Well, I don’t know…

I was tempted, but we had no toothbrushes, no clean underwear for mom, etc.  But, we got some great Mexican at Le Super Rica while I thought about it.  Then we got in the car.  “Ah, mom,” She said with disapointment.  I called Mark.  I was still clinging to this idea of Rex’s crib, toothpaste, change of clothes in the morning.  Then I when I spoke to Mark he said, “Not the best night to come home.”  He was dealing with a pretty serious mental health situation in his family and his Saturday would be occupied with that.  At Carpenteria I turned the car around.  “Vivien you got your wish!”  Yeah, she yelled as Rex slept.

Hmmm, where shall we go?  I drove up State street and hoped to rent a room at a motor lodge that former flame of mine and I used to get naked at quite a bit.  I thought it would seem ironic, yet safe.  There were no vacancies.  More irony.  We got a room at another serviceable place and I got the price down since he had no crib for Rex.  Oh, and there was no soap in the shower, but I wouldn’t know that till the next morning. There was a mini mart next door where I bought some toiletries and we were set. It helps that I still nurse, which makes me feel more self reliant.  Although I did have a bottle and it’s pretty easy to get extra milk.

Vivien can sleep standing up, so she was fine.  Rex took a little help.  I think he was looking around at the room thinking, “Really, we couldn’t stay at the Biltmore?” Or maybe I was projecting.  I woke up a fair bit as I know how strong he is and was thinking my wall of pillows I ringed the bed with wouldn’t hold him.  I made a blanket on the floor bed, but that only lasted a while.

The next day we had a great diner bfast and I took them to the Mission.  More great expanses  of green they could play in.  More wishes that we lived here. Living like a hobo was yielding lots of good moments.

I will say I am a good traveler in that I keep my ears open.  I had figured out that today SB was having their Summer Solstice parade.  It’s a big deal there.  We parked near our shelter and walked down toward where people where lining up for the parade.  Pushing my own float, our big stroller.  We bought cookies and coffee from the local church and waited.  And waited, waited.

It was hot.

“Mommy, let’s go to the shade”  All the spots are taken, Viv.  But, I have to just keep listening to her.  Once we packed up the chuck wagon and walked toward the park where the parade ended there were PLENTY of places in the shade.  No as good a vantage points as before, but we got the gist.  And more expanses of land to frolic in and buy garlands and tye dye.  It was a hippie throwback and it was fun.

After a snack I pushed them up the hill to the car.  I saw an open house sign.  It looked like a fab house.

“Do you mind if I indulge my fantasy of living here?”  The realtor was so sweet.

“Come in, everyone is at the parade.  No one has come.”  As she showed me my future perfect home, save that it’s 100 percent more than we could afford, but other than that it’s awesome, I told her what my husband did.

“Mark pppp?

“Peel, yes”  I thought, oh, she probably thinks we do have the money for this house.

The drive home contained no screaming and I felt the way you do after you take a dip in a pool on a hot day.  Refreshed.  I was proud of my kids for being good travelers and for myself for going for it.  I am really excited to think that unlike my previous post, fun anecdotes don’t have to end or be delayed while raising children.

They just might not include clean underwear.

Utah Fun!

When Vivien and I awoke in Provo I sensed that sweet, lack of sound that snow fall can bring. I looked out and said, “Vivien, it snowed last night!”

WAAAA she ran from bed to look below. I loved seeing my little desert dweller’s excitement at the blanket of white outside. Then it ran through my mind that I might be driving on ice, and this scared the long underwear off of me. I did my “I must be brave; I’m the mom” mantra and pushed out to our complimentary breakfast downstairs.

My sister emailed that the LA Times had come out with their review of The Tar Pit.  They had done a “first look” review, which had been a rave. This would be the bigger review. The one that happens when their writer comes 4 or 5 times. Here is the review. It was good, but not a rave. So that was kind of bugging me, but I pushed it to the side.

I called Heather Armstrong ( who lives SLC.

“It snowed,” I said happily.

“How you doing?” she said with suspicion. She knew I was a weather wimp and might be flipping out.

“Well, I’ve decided to be brave.” She assured me they are great about clearing the roads.

After we procured some much needed gloves at a large store called Shopko, we had the standard battle:

“I want a toy.”

You can’t get a toy every time we walk in a store.

“I want a toy!” ( I caved/compromised and said she could have something if it were under 5 dollars.)

One bunny later we were off. All was going well. Vivien was strapped in the back watching her mini dvd player as I drove, proud of myself that I could still travel like before I was a mother. I could still adapt to any place, get along with whomever I met. I still had a good sense of direction (and GPS) and driving in cold weather with a light snow falling was a piece of cake.

But as I was driving up into the canyon toward Park City, the snow really started coming down. I was on the road with two big trucks and all my fears.

“Momma, strawberry shortcake is over,” Vivien called.

“I can’t do ANYTHING about that now honey. Mommy can only drive.”  Heather’s earlier, “Are you okay?” was going through my head as I white knuckled it up the hill.  “No, I’m not OKAY!!” I thought.

Finally I saw the turn off for our sledding/tubing park that was our destination. I had decided trying to get Viv on skies for the first time might be too much in our rushed day. And I hadn’t been on them in 12 years, so I Lindsay Vonn I am not. I was aching for some non-bland food but didn’t want to risk driving into the heart of Park City with the nice restaurants.

“This will do just fine,”  I said as we walked to the bagel bakery, the closet place to eat near the tubing park. I couldn’t get on that highway again… not yet. The food was awful and everything was white or pale yellow, but I shoved it in anyway.

We got to the tubing park, and Vivien was a little afraid. She didn’t really get it. I didn’t either, but I kept acting really plucky so my daughter will not grow up to the be the timid dilettante that I am.

We got on our round tubes and some hardened ski bum attached us to the pull rope. “Because she is under 6 you can only go as far as the first hill.”

I looked at the rope operator like, “Bummer” when really I was thinking, “Cool, that big hill scares me.” Our second bit of luck was when we got to the top of the hill that we were about to launch ourselves from and the worker said, “Sorry, it’s really slow today.”

Without thinking I said, “That’s good, because we are scaredy cats.” Oh, bad mom, don’t transmit fear to young daughter.

Which why I stayed calm when the worker pushed Vivien down the hill, by herself. There went my 4 year old down the hill.

Now, if you have grown up being the least bit outdoorsy in your life this is no big deal. But I was raised by intellectuals who thought that reading was a sport and TV was a sacrament, and I’ve been trying to make up for it since.

Vivien went down the hill, but it did not carry her all the way. She stopped. Just sitting in her tube.

The ski bum “Um, yeah, she needs to get out of the way.’

Me: “Well, you didn’t explain that to her before you launched her.”

I plopped into my tube on the path beside her, and the ski bum pushed me. “Vivien, mommy’s coming to get you.” She thought that was really funny.

The lady who sold us the tickets had warned me that Vivien would not want to do the kiddie park part where kids sit in tubes and go around and around. “Oh, you don’t know my kid.” Sure enough, she loved that, and she had huge piles of soft snow to frolic in just like I had told her about. Now we were in our groove.

We did the run about 5 more times. I could have kept going, but Vivien was pooped. “Mommy, my pants are soaked.” Yeah, no ski pants are a drag. Next time will have those.

We drove out of the area, and fortunately I did think to have a change of clothes. Thankfully Heather and her dear family received us so we could change and I could pump. Lovely people to visit with. They also directed us to a restaurant with spices in their food that was on the way to the airport. Yippie. Red Iguana (we ate at Red Iguana2 as the first one was busy). I even had a very un-Utah-like Margarita. The flight home was easy, and we didn’t have to wait for a cab. Who says you can’t travel with kids? This is fine.

As the cab pulled into our driveway, “Momma, PICK ME UP!” I stared at Vivien while I held my pump, my purse, her cap and gloves and about to grab the suitcase the cab driver had just dumped on the driveway.

“Whaaa? Vivien no, I can’t.”

“PICK ME UP!!!!!” she wailed.

“Sweetie, I still have to grab your booster seat, I can’t.”


So here it was. The final breaking point. I somehow got her to continue her fit out of the cab so he could leave. I took a few things to the porch, then carried her up and went back for the rest. It was a hard next hour getting her to bed while I also greeted Rex.

“I know honey, it’s hard to have to share mommy again.” I said as she tried to pick Rex off of me.

When she finally passed out I did as well. The next day I felt so burnt. I think traveling is like drinking, I just don’t recover like I use to. Although now that I have, I am really glad we took this trip.