Monday, February 28, 2011

Chicago With Kids

Because we are apparently trying to set some sort of record for Extreme Travel With Children, we took the girls to Chicago for the weekend.  Jason has an annual convention there every February, and we usually loan the girls out to some grandparents for the weekend and I join him in the city after his classes are over for some grown-up fun.  This year, Annie's school break coincided neatly with the convention, plus we're using some grandparent hall passes in March, plus we thought the girls are old enough now to appreciate the big city and would be fun to have with us.

So.  We went.  And we spent the whole time alternating between two states, those states being "Ohmigod, who thought it would be a good idea to take these kids here?  Were we drunk when we decided?  This is not a good idea!  Abort!  Abort!" and "Awww, this is TOTALLY WORTH IT and magical in every possible way!"

Is there another, saner, middle option about how to feel when on vacation with young children?

Here's how it went down:

On Friday morning, the girls and I took the train to Chicago on our own, stocked with lots of coloring books and movies and surprise Jelly Beans.  (All snacks, to be effective, must be a surprise.  If they are not a surprise, the children begin requesting them the SECOND we leave the house - even if it is 6:45 a.m. - and become increasingly more demanding and whiny so that by the time it would be appropriate for me to bust out the snacks in a Save The Day sort of move, I no longer even want to give them the snacks.  Because of the whining and the demanding.)  Anyway, this went well.

When we arrived, we grabbed lunch at a Corner Bakery right by the train station, then took a cab to our hotel (the Embassy Suites on State Street, never stay here, more on this later) to drop off a bag and check in.  After we lightened our load, we ventured out and walked to Michigan Avenue and up to H&M for some good, old-fashioned shopping.  I rarely take the girls with me when I shop for them (especially not both at once); usually it's more of a "Look what I got you from Target!  Does it fit?  Good," routine, and we had lots of fun going through the racks and choosing, among other things, 4th of July outfits for this coming summer, unbelievably cute AND cheap sundresses, and a few gifts for other people.  I grabbed two shirts for myself and bought them without trying them on, because sometimes I live on the edge like that.

Next, we headed across the street to kill a little time at Water Tower Place.  I took them straight to the store I knew they would love:  the LUSH counter in Macy's.  The salesgirl was awesome with Annie and Jemma, letting them touch and smell everything, stick their hands in the suds, and demo-ing all the glittery bath bombs they wanted to see.  It was unique, spontaneous fun, and I watched their eyes get big with a smile on my face the whole time.  In the end, we each chose one to buy.

We were thirsty, so we got some lemonade and water, then rode the escalators all the way to the top of the mall just so we could look down to the first floor from the brass-and-glass elevators on the 7th floor.  I remember doing this once as a child and it blew my mind.  When they were tired of the view from the top, we made our way to the store we'd so obviously come all this way to visit, The American Girl Store.

With Molly and Emily Elizabeth in tow, we browsed the first floor doll displays before heading for the Bitty Baby room.  I'd told them that they could each pick out one thing (NOT a doll), assuming they'd each choose an outfit for the doll they'd brought along.  But Jemma was entranced by a birthday party kit, while Annie ended up choosing pajamas for herself since the matching set she got for her 5th birthday have since been passed down to Jemma.

Late afternoon, we went up to the second floor for tea in the American Girl restaurant.  It was cheesy and overpriced and right up their alley.  They worshipped every minute of the experience, especially the way that the restaurant provides little high chairs and tea cups for the dolls you've brought along.  (Jemma actually kissed the high chair and very much wanted to bring it home with us.)

Around 5:00, we left the restaurant and walked back to the hotel to meet up with Jason.  The girls were full from tea (pb&j, scones, cinnamon rolls, mousse, jello, etc.) so Jason and I grabbed some free happy hour drinks to bring up to our room and let the girls bounce around on their beds until it was bath time, at which point we obviously had to try one of the new bath bombs.

It smelled great and turned the whole tub purplish-pink with glitter.  The girls lost their minds with happiness, brushed their teeth, read books, and went to bed a little after 7:00, at which point Jason and I retired to the living room portion of the suite, high-fived each other, ordered a Pizzeria Due take-out deep-dish, and cracked a Fat Tire while deciding to order an in-room movie.  We'd just chosen "Love and Other Drugs" over "The Social Network" (which I STILL want to see, btw) and pressed Play when the drama began.

Less than an hour after they'd gone magically to sleep in separate beds in the same room, the girls were awake, and they were not happy.  Turns out Jemma was yelling/squealing/crying in her sleep, which woke Annie up, which made Annie feel justified in sitting up in bed and yelling at Jemma to Stop It!  Jason went in to settle it down, and came back out to watch the movie again.  Ten minutes later, same thing, only this time, Jemma was crying hysterically and demanding that I sleep with her in her bed for the rest of the night.  I got her back to sleep, went out to try to figure out what was going on in the movie, and the same thing happened all over again fifteen minutes later, at which point I gave up, climbed into bed with Jemma, and hoped this would do the trick.  

It was the worst night of sleep I have had since the girls were newborns.  Jemma continued to cry out in her sleep, off and on, most of the night, and when she wasn't keeping me awake with her voice, she was lying perpendicularly in the bed and kicking my stomach.  At one point, she was making so much noise that I brought her into the bathroom to try to settle her down, which only further enraged her until she was hysterically repeating, "I can't help it!"over and over.  Annie had two coughing fits in the middle of the night and then woke up for the day at 5:55 a.m. and began asking when she was allowed to get up.  On top of all that, there was some sort of party going on in the room above ours, and it was so loud that I could hear it sporadically through the night even though the sound machine was turned up to its loudest volume.

By Saturday morning, I was a wreck, as was Jemma, who now wanted to be carried everywhere because she was so tired.  We went down to eat the free breakfast and I sat like a zombie with my coffee, reaffirming again that our decision to stop the baby-making at two was the right one for us.  I was so desperate for the promise of actual sleep (and so terrified of what Saturday night would bring) that I even lobbied Jason to drive us home later that day, just so we could all sleep in our own beds.  Ever the optimist, he promised that the next night would be better and we forged on with our plans.

We took the El to Lincoln Park after breakfast to see Emerald City Theater's production of "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" which was super-fun to watch.  The girls have all the pigeon books and have them mostly memorized, and they loved when lines from the book were spoken aloud verbatim, plus there was audience participation and the chance to make a paper hot dog and get the duckling's autograph afterwards.  It was a hit.

We cabbed it towards the zoo after that, stopping part way to grab lunch.  My first choice, Toast, had too long of a wait, so we wandered the general area before finding a place called Nookie, where the wait was only 15 minutes.  We took our beeper to the one store I wanted to hit that was in sight:  Lululemon.  I was trying to scope out the sale rack while Annie and Jemma started acting like they'd never been inside a store before, starting up an inappropriate game of Loud Chase With Screaming.  Additionally, Annie kept picking Jemma up.

"Put Jemma down, please," I said.

Annie put her down.  Two seconds later, Annie was picking Jemma up from behind.

"Annie!  Don't pick Jemma up.  It's not safe."

Annie put her down.  Two seconds later, Annie was picking Jemma up again, and just as my face morphed into the "I can't believe you're doing this again" look and I opened my mouth, Annie fell down on top of Jemma and they lay, crying, in a pile on the wood floor.  

I sighed.  "Please say sorry to your sister."

"You hate me!" Annie yelled.

(See "Abort!  Abort!" above.)

We made it through lunch, with Jemma having little fits left and right about how "starving" she was (a term we specifically don't allow) and then we carried her the rest of the way to the zoo, where mercifully it was peaceful, snowy, and quiet.

We saw (very-up-close) lions, hilarious monkeys, sea lions, camels, a leopard, and many interesting things in the reptile house.  There was virtually nobody else there, the houses were warm inside, and it was the perfect amount of time to spend at the zoo.  Mid-afternoon, we took a cab/subway combination back to the hotel.

We went in the pool and hot tub for a bit before heading back out, this time to Millennium Park with our skates for dinner and ice-skating.  The buildings were lit up, music was playing, and Jason and I took turns following Annie as she shot around the rink and holding Jemma's hand as she trudged on with determination.  Both girls had huge smiles on their faces the whole time, and so did we. 

(See above re:  "TOTALLY WORTH IT/magical")

On the cab ride home, there was only cozy silence and a misty rain beginning to fall on the windows.  We tucked the girls into bed and braced ourselves for drama that never came.  I think between the play, the zoo, the swimming, the skating, and the walking, we actually tired them out so much that we didn't hear a peep from them until 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.  THANK GOODNESS.

(We did, however, hear the same party room start up around 7:30 p.m. and, when it was clear that we were going to hear their hooting, yelling, and full conversations as though they were in the room with us, we tried to be proactive.  I called the front desk, then went down to talk to security, who basically told me there wasn't much the hotel could do until after midnight.  We downloaded a white noise app on my iPhone since the sound machine in the girls' room wasn't enough to drown out the sound completely in there, much less on our pull-out couch in the living room.  Hands down, that Embassy Suites was the loudest hotel I've ever stayed in, and we're bummed to say that we wouldn't go back, because we definitely need a suite if people are going to sleep at all.)

Sunday morning, we ate breakfast, hit the pool again, and then ventured out for some last-minute shopping (caramel corn at Garrett's, two-buck Chuck Cabernet from Trader Joe's) and wandering before piling in the car and heading home - exhausted, happy, and looking forward to our return trip later this spring, sans kids.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Read Elsewhere: On Want

From This Is Not The Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson:

"How can a person not want?  You are born - you want to live.  You get married - you want to build a life with your spouse.  You have kids - you want them to live even though it seems at first like they're doing their best to try to off themselves - and later, you want them to be happy, and you want them to live even longer - long enough to provide you grandchildren.  And you want them to live, too.  In fact, you worry about them not living before they're even born.  Because what would that do to your child, outliving their child?  You want everybody to live, and you want to live until you are one hundred, still driving, mind intact, cheekbones and legs still not too bad, and then you want to die in your sleep.  You want to be Katharine Hepburn.  And in the meantime, you want a calling.  You want to work hard at that calling - you want talent and you want success.  How is it possible to live in this human body in this human world and not want?

Monday, February 21, 2011

And Then

And then I took Jemma to the doctor this morning and found out two things, both somewhat alarming.

Thing One:  Jemma has pneumonia-ish.  The doc wasn't positive, but definitely heard some things going on in her lungs that didn't sound great, plus seemed fairly impressed with the horrid sound of Jemma's cough and the weekend I described.  So Jemma's currently on Zithromax and a steady diet of movies, coloring, and yogurt-eating, which unfortunately did not stop the anticipated side-effect of the Zithromax from kicking in just after dinner tonight.

Thing Two:  Jemma weighed 24 pounds on the doctor's office scale.  Now, a month or so ago at her well-child appointment, Jemma weighed 31 pounds on a (different) doctor's office scale.  To be honest, 31 pounds seemed on the high side for her; she's usually 28 or so when she steps her wet little body on the scale at the gym, post-pool.  BUT EVEN SO.  This means that, in the course of the last month, between the "I-don't-like-French-toast" in Jamaica and the four-day sickness last weekend, she has lost about four pounds, bringing her weight to that of a hearty 18-month-old.

I bought Ensure at Target tonight and will take your advice in the comments below.


I started reading Just Kids by Patti Smith this weekend.  I'd heard part of a Fresh Air interview with Smith months ago and was intrigued enough to grab the book off the library shelf the last time I was there.  My first impressions are that Smith and Mapplethorpe lived during a very interesting moment in American history (NYC art scene in the 60's), but that Smith's words don't do justice to the events they experienced.  Her writing style reminds me of nothing so much as the way my second-graders used to spin their tales during weekly Writer's Workshop, beginning every new paragraph with "And then . . ."

I had to have an intervention with my second-graders one day.  I wrote the word "then" on the whiteboard, drew a big X over it, and held a brainstorming session to come up with other transitional prepositions.  We banned the word "then" from their writing.

This was especially on my mind tonight when, during dinner, I had to endure Annie's re-telling of today's episode of Word Girl.  It's her favorite show ("Word Girl's my favorite!  I never miss Word Girl!") for reasons I can't really fathom (a monkey named Captain Huggie-Pants?), and tonight I sat bleakly through what might have been the longest, most non-sensical plot summary ever:

"So, Mom?  On Word Girl?  OK, there was a boy named Toby.  He had this robot?  And the robot's arm . . .  and then Toby had a DREAM that this girl was trying to . . .  and then there was a bad guy trying to rob a bank but . . ." 

Her voice faded in and out as I coached myself silently to maintain eye contact and make appropriate facial expressions throughout, thinking the whole time that I really need to track down a chart I remember reading long ago (by Swistle?) that gives points to parents for enduring various annoying parenting tasks, one of which was being forced to listen to the plot of a show or movie.  (Anyone?  CBHM?)

After dinner, and after Jason called five minutes after the time he had said he'd be home to say he was "on his way" (this did not go over particularly well), and after I'd given the girls their baths and let them draw all over the tub with bath crayon, I fled to Target.  (For the Ensure.  Also: coffee creamer, La Croix, snacks and activities for our upcoming train trip,  and cute dollar bin thank-you notes.)  And there, on an end-cap in the books section, was the paperback of Just Kids - with a little "National Book Award" sticker on it!

What?  Patti Smith writes the grown-up, artsy, rock-star version of "And Then" and she gets a National Book Award for it?  Because that's what it reads like so far.  So far, it's

"One day, Robert and I moved into a sleazy hotel and got lice.  And then we moved into the Chelsea Hotel and met famous people.  And then Robert thought it seemed okay to have sex with male prostitutes and get gonorrhea and give it to me!  And I didn't really mind.  And then I took Janis Joplin back to her room.  And then I had a boyfriend who had sex for money to support his heroin habit.  And then I wrote some poems . . ."

I mean, I know it was the sixties, but COME ON.  I am still reading it, though, because I think she's going to meet Andy Warhol, and then it might get good.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter, Redux

I ran outside on bare pavement twice last week, had the windows open for a bit when the temperatures hit the 50's, splashed in puddles with Jemma on our way to the grocery store on Thursday, and celebrated almost all of the snow melting from our yard.  The ice-jam disappeared and the leak in the kitchen stopped dripping.  The sun shone Friday morning on my way to yoga, and all seemed right with the world.  Spring was here!  We had plans to spend the weekend up north with family!  Yay!

Then we found out that my niece was sick and had to cancel our weekend plans.  And, a couple hours after that, Jemma threw up her lunch and has spent the weekend alternately lying limply in her bed, being rocked in a chair, having a fever, coughing, complaining of a sore throat and earache, and throwing up into a napkin that I held under her chin.  (Least favorite parenting job, hands down.)

Annie, who has been notably cooperative and helpful these last few days - soothing Jemma when she's sad, quick to laugh or tell a funny story at the dinner table, proud to help when asked - woke up this morning in a decidedly different mood, one where she screamed about being "starving" and demanded breakfast "NOW!" and, later, when asked to choose one chore from her chart to do, spent the entire time she was cleaning her room yelling, "You make me do everything!"

Also?  It started snowing huge, quarter-sized flakes at 1:00 p.m., and now there are about five new inches where just this morning there was bare cement and matted-down grass.

Clearly, it wasn't the weekend we thought it would be.  And as I was shoveling the heavy snow around our cars just before dinner, I was thinking about how having kids, in this situation - snow storm, cancelled weekend plans, sickness - made everything about winter worse.  Instead of being able to lie on the couch while the snow fell and watch The Food Network, we had to figure out how to entertain two stir-crazy kids.  Instead of sleeping last night, I sat up with Jemma and tried to keep her fever down and stop her coughing.  It seems like, when you have small children around, February = Sick Kids = Cancelled Fun.

But then I made myself stop, re-frame, and notice all the ways that having kids makes winter better, too.  For example, I get outside almost every day of the winter just to walk Annie to and from school, and now that I have the appropriate winter gear (long down North Face coat, you are one of the best things I have ever bought, and I do not care if it looks like I am shamelessly wearing a down comforter around town), it's a chance to get some fresh air and exercise.  Now that the girls are old enough to ski and ice-skate, I've been doing those things more than I otherwise would have, too.  And, if it wasn't for having little kids around, there's no way Jason and I would regularly hit a sledding hill on a Saturday afternoon and experience the little joy that is coming inside to drink hot cocoa after you've laughed out in the cold with your kids.  We'd probably be holed up on the couch, under a blanket, and we'd go to bed at night feeling bloated and restless.

So even though the high point of my weekend was, er, the brownies Annie and I made before I headed to the gym to catch up with some friends on the treadmill this afternoon, I am trying to look at the new snow coming down the way Annie looked at it this afternoon.  "Mom!" she said, "Let's go outside and play in it!"  We did.  Then we came in and ate more brownies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Read Elsewhere: It's a Small World, After All

Remember how I mentioned in passing that we met another (mommy-blogging) family in Jamaica?  Well, we did, and the other blogger wrote about it here, so if you want to see how The Internet makes the world a smaller, better place, go read about it.  If she lived closer, I'd totally invite her to join my book club.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Things Jemma Says: Deep Thoughts Edition

While on the airplane to Jamaica, looking out the window at the sunrise:  "Mom, I didn't know the world was so big!"


After I said "no" to her about something inconsequential this morning:  "When I'm a Mommy, I'm going to let my kids do everything!"


When she mumbled something I couldn't hear and asked her to repeat it:  "That's okay, Mommy.  I'll just save it in my heart for later."


In Jamaica:

Me:  "Jemma, please hold the railing when you're going down these stairs."
J:  "I don't have to; I'm big now!"
Me:  "I know you're big.  I don't want you to fall down.  It's not about being big or small."
J:  "What's it all about?  Is it all about GOD?"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Watch Out, Hallmark

We talk a lot around here about what we think Annie is going to "be" when she grows up.  Mostly we've added together crazy-good memory + mind like a steel trap + loves to read + loves to argue + loves to be right + must have the last word and rub your face in it = LAWYER.

Today, though, Annie produced these Valentines for Jason and Jemma, respectively (I got an actual Hallmark card that Jason sweetly took the girls to pick out at the mall):

"Valentines day is fun and
Valentines day is cool but
the thing that I
think is perfecte is a dad like you."

"You're as sweet as a dad can be."

"A sister like you is perfitc."

Reality Bites

We fell in the door a little before midnight on Saturday after another long travel day.  International travel with children is not for the faint of heart.  The girls actually did as well as could be expected - better, even, I'd say - but there is just so much waiting-in-line you can expect from the six-and-under set, one of whom (ahem, Jemma) whines to be carried after about three minutes on her feet.  They both mercifully fell asleep on our second flight and slept adorably on us right up until the minute the plane landed, at which point Annie marched stoically and cheerfully through the airport, even gamely towing one of our suitcases behind her after we'd retrieved it from the baggage area.  Jemma, on the other hand, remained in a half-asleep stupor where she tried to punch my face while I carried her, her blankets, my carry-on, and her carry-on through the airport.

We awoke Sunday morning to the annual leak that develops around the ice-jammed roof above our kitchen.  We've had people put up flashing, explored heat tape options, tried to prevent the ice from forming there in the first place, but, sure enough, every February right around this time, there's a telltale drip coming from that upper right-hand cupboard.  Old houses are special that way, I guess.  So now we have a plastic tub catching the leak on our counter, plus a little more water damage to add to last year's and the year before.

We also awoke Sunday to another one of Jemma's special "I Picked My Nose in My Sleep and Got a Bloody Nose Which Stained My Pink Sheets" mornings.  I love starting the day down in the basement, scrubbing at those sheets with freezing cold water and a variety of stain-removal agents.  Then, for good measure, it happened again this morning.  Happy Valentine's Day!  My pink sheets have red bloody drips all over them!

Also, I think I can go ahead and safely declare that I have killed the plant Connie gave me for Christmas.  I plead guilty to general neglect and to not watering it at all since late January, specifically.

Yeah, it's officially not vacation anymore.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Daily Schedule

6:00 a.m. - wake up, courtesy of Jemma.  Put a movie in for the girls, lie in bed, eventually get up to drink coffee while the sun rises.  Maybe a little yoga, running, or a hike.

7:30 - Go downstairs to eat breakfast.

8:30 - 10:00 - Look for shells, draw, read, swim out to raft, kayak, dance to reggae music, etc.

10:00 - Beach!

1:00 - Lunch, first drink of day.

1:30 - Rest time.

3:00 - Pool!

4:00 - 5:30 - Puzzles, reading in the hammock, games, nature walks, cocktail hour with new friends, showering the girls off in our outdoor shower.

5:30 - girls eat dinner with Kerry-Ann, Jason and I shower and get ready for dinner, sit and watch the sunset.

6:30 - Put girls to bed, go downstairs to eat dinner.

End of day - Go to sleep in this bed.

All day long - wish we never had to leave.

The Help

On Wednesday morning I went kayaking by myself while Jason and the girls searched for shells.  The sun had risen but wasn't too hot in the sky, and it was just me and the impossibly turquoise Caribbean water as I hugged the shoreline and tried to peek into the houses I came upon.  Jamaica - our little patch of it, at least - is full of decrepit beauty.  There is riotous tropical foliage next to a crumbling stone wall, elegant china and silver set on a plastic table at the shore, one blue kayak passing houses that look like something out of colonial England.

We essentially have a staff here.  There is Aldeen, a warm, efficient, cheerful butler-type who offers fresh drinks at every turn and serves us at our meals.  There is Kerry-Ann, the nanny, who comes with us to the beach and feeds the girls an early dinner and bathes them each night while we're eating in peace.  There is Nisha the cook, Neville the driver, Feldon the beach attendant, and a whole host of other people who are eager to pull a kayak into the water or cart a cooler down to the beach.  One day, we asked if the pumpkin fritters we'd had at lunch were made from traditional pumpkin or a local squash, and Feldon told us how he used to make a living by making and selling pumpkin juice.  We expressed curiosity and surprise, and two hours later, Feldon came to find us by the pool, toting glasses of pumpkin juice he had made just for us.  The attention is astounding.

On the one hand, this is amazing.  I have no experience with having "help," but what it's allowed us to do here is have a true family vacation, to be at home in a house and wring every second of joy out of the day while somebody else worries about the cooking, the laundry, the bedsheets, the bathroom towels, the drinks, the washing-hands-before-dinner.  I have never felt more spoiled or more rested.

On the other hand, this is guilt-inducing.  (When you're a mom, the guilt follows you everywhere you go, even to Jamaica.)  Jemma has her little fit at breakfast - "I don't LIKE French toast!" - and I am mortified by the thought that, less than a mile away, there are certainly little children who would very much like to eat her French toast.  The girls, drunk with power at having several kinds of beverages at their disposal all day long, have become demanding and imperious:  "I want my apple juice!" Jemma says.  Jason and I fall all over ourselves saying thank-you and thank-you-so-much a million times each day.

Yesterday morning, Feldon took us for a hike up into the mountains while Kerry-Ann got the girls dressed and fed them breakfast.  Before we got up high on the rocky trail, we walked up roads (I use the term loosely) that were lined with houses (another term I use loosely).  Trash littered the sides of the road, dogs barked from behind wire fences, and the smoke from garbage burning in barrels rose into the air.  Some of the houses - built mostly of what looks like found timber, with metal roofs - look like they might fall apart if the wind blew too hard, which I am sure it does during a hurricane.

Later yesterday afternoon, we took the girls in sea kayaks to the beach.  As we paddled closer to the ever-waiting beach attendant, Scott, Annie remarked, "Why does Scott always wear that shirt?"

"Why do you think he always wears that shirt?" I asked back.

"It's his favorite," she said.  I smiled.

"Maybe," I said.  "Or maybe he doesn't have very many shirts, like we've been telling you about a lot of the people who live here."

Annie was quiet for a moment.  Then she said, "I have a lot of shirts."

"You do," I agreed.  "And that's fine.  We're lucky that Daddy has a good job that makes money to buy us nice things.  But we don't really need lots of shirts to be happy."

"And we should help people with our money, too," she said brightly, which devolved into a discussion of her school raising money for local kids who don't have their own lunches, where the money in the church offering goes, and what she wants to do next with the "share" portion of her allowance.

And then we beached the kayak and spent two hours making the biggest drip castle we've ever made and drinking cold ginger beer while we sat in the sand.

I joke a lot at home that we live in a bubble, and we do.  In our town, people are mostly college-educated, live in tasteful old houses lined up on leafy green blocks.  People have money, mostly, for babysitters and dinners out and maybe gym memberships and fancy vacations.  But this villa smack on the bay in Jamaica is truly a bubble of service and relaxation and privilege right in the middle of more poverty than my children have ever seen.  And I remind myself that we work hard and save to be able to take them somewhere like this:  I drive a ten-year-old Subaru so we can spend our money traveling, Jason would rather buy his work clothes at Nordstrom Rack than go to the mall any day.  But typing this from a canopy bed with a view of the ocean, it feels a little strange to know that, less than a mile inland, someone is waking up in a two- or three-room house with a goat in the yard, getting ready to walk here to serve me a drink.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Things That Happen Here

You wake up in the morning, fling open the doors to your balcony, and do yoga while you watch the sunrise.

You go to the beach for the morning while Jason is out snorkeling and deep-sea fishing (catching tuna and a kingfish) and spend three hours building drip castles and sitting in the surf with your daughters.

You see that one of the lunch selections is "Fried Chicken - PICNIC" and ask if you could have it on the beach, thinking they'll send a basket of chicken and a big sheet to sit on, and instead the four of you arrive to see this

at water's edge, so you spend an hour with your family searching for sea glass and then sit down to fried chicken, curried vegetables, homemade banana corn bread, and two Red Stripes before rolling home to shower and nap.

You put your bathing suit on right after breakfast is over and let the girls argue over whether you should spend the morning floating on the raft, snorkeling, searching for shells, swimming in the pool, or lying in the hammock and listening to the waves crash under you.

You are served fresh-squeezed orange juice at every single breakfast.

You go to the Monday night cocktail reception and you meet another family with two little girls who found this place the same way you did (bloggers unite!) and you make plans to play on the beach together on Wednesday morning.

You put your dirty laundry in a hamper in the bathroom and the next day it magically reappears, clean and folded, inside your drawer.

You go to bed at night full of good food and happy memories, listening to the sounds of the waves hitting the shore, and you can't believe that you are lucky enough to get to wake up here the next day and the next.