Monday, June 26, 2006

Lessons Learned

  • Don't put an egg on the counter before being ready to add it to the cookie dough.

  • It takes a two year old about half a second to grab an egg off the counter, and crack it open. Saying "No!" a quarter second after putting it down, is already much too late.

  • One egg can cover the counter, the mixer, the front of all four drawers below the mixer, most of the bottom of the drawer that was left slightly open, and much of the floor.

  • One egg can take approximately 10 minutes to clean up.

  • A 9 month old boy can eat about half a container of baby snacks in the time it takes to clean up one egg.

  • Half a container of baby snacks can fill up the tray of a booster seat, the seat of the booster seat, and half the kitchen floor.

  • Baby snacks mixed with egg are very hard to get off the floor.

  • If you think you can whip up cookies in 10 minutes with a toddler, you aren't accounting for cleaning up the egg.

Bi-Polar Parenting

Sometimes, I feel like the best parent in the world.
You know, like when I told Hayden that we say "oh shoot" and he actually stopped swearing. Or when I bargained that if he took just one taste of a green bean (which I know he likes, despite him telling me he doesn't) that he could have one of the cookies we baked. And once he took that one bite, he ate the rest of the green beans while I patted myself on the back for being so intuitive to what works with him, and gave him that cookie, which I knew he'd hardly eat anyway, being his father's son who likes to bake, but doesn't like baked goods so much. Or when we sit down to read stories together and he knows that Curious George is in prison because there was no fire, only a naughty little monkey, and he is really listening and absorbing these books, and hopefully on some level absorbing the love I have for him that I hope is seeping through me to the little boy in my lap holding a stuffed Froggy, a sandwich of security.

Then, there are those other times when I know that nobody is less fit to be a parent than me. Like when I am alone with the two screaming boys, neither of which care that I can't be in two places at once, or that I would gladly indulge their every whim if possible, but am simply trying to maintain some level of sanity while making dinner, and putting out the fire from the plastic drumstick that was mysteriously left on the burner while I was checking the meat on the barbecue. Like when I have told Hayden one too many times to "Stop that!" and he won't and yells "No!" at me over and over, and gets put on time-out, yet just keeps yelling and screaming and won't Stop It, or stay in one spot, or stop kicking the wall, and I finally just lose it and actually scream at him, really put a frightened look on that gorgeous, rebellious face because time-out is my last resort, because what else could I do? and I'm not going to spank him, and I'm not going to take away Robbie the Froggy because it is his Security Object, so my only tool is my anger and frustration at my complete ineptness and absolute lack of efficacy in parenting this not so bad little boy.

It is at these low moments that I know I am the Worst Parent Ever.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Just making sure

My boys do love their penises. Hayden holds it at all times when he is naked, as if it is attached to a rudder and he is steering himself around the house with it. Logan recently discovered his- what a glorious bath that was! It was a little disturbing how proficient he was with it. Innate. He hasn't bothered with it much lately, instead focusing on carrying toys around in his mouth like a puppy with its ball. We've been calling him Fido.

I do go around naked in front of them, but feel a bit self-conscious with Hayden. He is very interested in body parts these days, randomly asking and taking inventory. Recently he came up to me while I was naked, pointed to my crotch and said "dat yo penis?" I told him no, I don't have a penis. "Mommy, you don't have penis?! Why?" Mommies don't have penises because we are girls. A glance over at Fillip showed him intensely (intentionally) unaware of what was going on, no help at all in my awkward situation.

Recently, while friends were over for dinner, Hayden looked across and asked me "Mommy, you have boobies?" Yes Sweetie, I have boobies. This led to pointing out everyone's boobies, then determining who had penises.

At dinner with Fillip's Grandmother the next night at a restaurant, Hayden loudly confirmed "Mommy, you don't have penis?" No, no I don't have a penis.

A look at Fillip, and he was doubled over laughing, no help at all.
Thanks Honey.

Apparantly, two year olds are tasty

Hayden continues to bite others at school. Although he has gotten a positive report here and there, most days we are hearing from his teacher about his inappropriate behavior toward his classmates. We are at our wits' end. We think he is craving attention, and are trying to give him more personal attention at home, while making sure time-outs are free from any interaction other than putting him back in the chair.

At school one day, he got sent to the Director's office for awhile, then back to his class where he immediately bit another kid. He spent the remainder of the day in the Director's office. The next day, he didn't want to stay at school and the teacher promised Fillip would call him before naptime (before consulting Fillip about this.) Fillip didn't have time, so I called. Before speaking with Hayden, I spoke with the school Director, who told me about another "incident." She had gone to visit the class, and as soon as she left, Hayden bit his teacher! He then told the teacher to call the Director so he could go to her office. He is only 2 years old! The Director came to talk with him, but said he would spend time with her when he was behaving and had to return to class. We determined that he would be isolated from the other students when he acts out by standing in a corner in the classroom. He would miss whatever activity was going on at that time, hoping he will realize that the consequences of hurting others are not fun.

We learned later that instead of doing this, his teacher is taking him outside with her, talking with him, and holding his hand. This is the exact opposite of what we agreed would happen, as we feel it is reinforcing the behavior. We spoke with the Director again, and she suggested having him spend time in the Threes class as it might be more stimulating, structured better for him. They get split into smaller groups, while learning similar curriculum. We are all also beginning to speculate that his teacher may not be a good match for him given recent events and the timing of when this all developed.

When Fillip dropped him off today, his teacher said he wouldn't be going to the other class, putting him in the corner is against licensing and that if he acted out he would be sent home. All in front of Hayden. Fillip was fit to be tied when he left, feeling like this teacher is undermining everything, and completely disregarding any plan of action we come to with the school Director. Not to mention, lying about licensing regulations. We are so frustrated. So, I called and spoke with the Assistant Director (the Director is at a meeting today) who is totally on board with us, and let me know that his teachers comments this morning were inaccurate and inappropriate.

Hopefully, being in the Threes class this morning, he is having a better day and we can start resolving this problem. We think that class may be a permanent thing, as the teacher in the Twos class clearly isn't willing to work with us or the Director of the school in a consistent manner. We truly recognize that this can't continue, whatever the source is, but we can't hope to make much progress if we feel the person he spends so much time with is perpetuating it.

He is such a sweet boy generally and it is so sad to see him constantly in trouble, and now choosing to play by himself rather than with other kids. He was brought into the Baby Room this week to see Logan and was so gentle with those kids. I don't know if this is realistic, but maybe he is going through some sort of slight depression, as he has had some trouble falling asleep lately and hardly eats his dinner. Poor little guy. How can a parent know exactly what is best in a situation like this? There is such a fine balance between supporting his obvious need for attention and making sure he feels loved and secure unconditionally, while being stern enough to teach him what is unacceptable and motivate him to stop that behavior.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Damn your state and your delicious Maui Caramacs!!

My co-worker is totally sabotaging my dietary efforts by bringing me an entire box of these chocolate coated caramel macadamia dream candies. Despite standard office etiquette, I did not put them generously on my desk for all to sample. No, they are stashed deep in my snack drawer, ready for me to slyly devour every day whenever my sweet tooth sneaks up on me.

Ok, of course I know she was just being nice by bringing me something from her vacation. And....I'll even admit that I requested she bring me these specifically.

But...I still won't forgive Hawaii for producing them or making them available to all the people who visit then return to mock me with their delicious chewy sweetness. If not those, then chocolate covered macadamia nuts, oven roasted macadamia nuts, they even make a variety pack of macadamia nuts. They are strategically placed in the office so as not to be missed on the way to the fax machine or water cooler. It's as if everyone who returns to the office after their Hawaii vacation is saying "Thanks for covering my desk while I was gone. Look how tan and relaxed I am. Now you will not only be pastey while, but fat!" How depressing.

Maybe some candy will help.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Inspired by a little boy in JHB

Yesterday I let the baby play in a baby pool, in just his diaper, on muddy grass. He had a muddy bum, dirt encrusted legs, and I think he likely ate a fair amount of grass. Dh didn't seem too happy. The baby was ecstatic.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bite this

The last two days in a row, Hayden's teacher has needed to have a talk with Fillip about his behaviour. Hayden's behaviour, not Fillip's. Fillip is a good boy. Hayden has been very aggressive lately, hitting, biting and pushing other kids. It is so frustrating, as nothing seems to be working to correct this. Our current plan is to be hard asses about timeout, yet give him daily one-on-one special time, hoping to give him the attention he is craving. From what I've seen, that is the root of this, but what do I know!

Logan is going through separation anxiety these days. Getting him to bed is so difficult, requiring much snuggling, patting, rocking, swinging, and swaddling. When I went to my friend's house earlier in the week, Fillip called to say the kids were asleep. Hayden went down fairly easily, but he had to mummify the baby. Hey, whatever works!

This parenting thing is like a big rollercoaster. Just when you hit a high point, you come cruising on down, not knowing what's around the bend.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Much better

Our sweetheart was back last night. Hayden took a late, 2 hour nap and was so fun all through dinner. He is so cute, and so silly, giggling at everything, and trying to crack up his brother. This is generally easily achieved. I love hearing the sounds of him laughing and playing rather than crying and raging.

This morning he was awake when I left for work. I got him a "bar breakfast" to snack on until Fillip woke for the day. As I was closing his door and leaving, I heard him say something. I opened the door and peeked in. This sweet little voice said "Have a nice day, Mommy." Awww. What a sweetie!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

At my wit's end

Getting Hayden ready for bed, after a very trying weekend. He is challenging us on everything. He says no, ignores us completely, or throws himself down in a tantrum. Logan didn't want to go to bed either and had been screaming for sometime, despite Fillip repeatedly settling him down. I wanted Hayden to climb onto his changing table to get ready for bed, but he spotted a pair of jammies on a toy.

H- "What happened to the jammies?"
M- "Nothing happened to them."
H-"What happened to the jammies?"
M- "Nothing, they are just laying there."
H-"But, what happened?" Still not climbing onto the changing table.
M-"Hayden, nothing happened to them. They are fine."
H-"What happened to the jammies?"
M- Completely exacerbated at this point. "They flew there, Hayden. A dragon picked them up, flew them all the way around the world, through the sky, and dropped them here in your room, on that toy. That's what happened. Ok?!"
I feel relieved.
Maybe now he will climb onto the changing table and we can get things moving.



Friday, June 09, 2006

Music to my ears

Well, after my diatribe from yesterday, I suppose my evening was fitting. Once the kids were in bed, I was not particularly motivated to tackle the housework, so decided to check my email. I heard a symphony coming over the baby monitor and started to pay attention. I knew it was Beethoven, but did not immediately register which symphony, only that I really like this one. So, I sat there vaguely listening and screwing around on the computer for awhile. It was so nice to hear a piece of music that I truly love. I finally realized that it wasn't the 5th (one of my favorite pieces) or even the 7th (Uncle Stu's alltime fav), but the 9th! This particular music has the ability to really move me, uplifting my mood, soothing my mind, a therapy in itself.

Every year there is a live performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl, and I have never ever seen it perfomed live. Ever. I'm not the only person partial to this music. It is labeled as one of the all time greatest pieces ever composed, (although there are mixed opinions as to the quality of content used, and consistency in theme). Even more remarkable is that this miracle of humanity came from a person who was deaf, who never even heard those beautiful notes that he so geniusly crafted together. Beethoven conducted the orchestra and choir himself on the debut performance, yet was exposed as completely deaf when it was necessary to turn him to face the audience, showing him the applause that was offered at the performance. After spending 10 years working on the symphony, he never heard a single note, nevermind the audience's fantastic reaction to such a bold and original piece, the first to pair a choir with musicians, putting a popular poem to a melody, and forging a place in history that could not have been anticipated. This music is used around the world as a benchmark, a theme for significant moments including the fall of the Berlin wall. Originally cd's were designed to hold 74 minutes of music, specifically to be the first media to be able to play the 9th Sympony in its entirety without having to turn over the record or change the tape.

As I heard the orchestra begin the last movement, Ode to Joy, I decided that I wanted to simply enjoy the moment. I turned on the stereo (much better sound quality than the baby monitor), turned off the lights, and sat on the couch absorbing the music around me. It had been a very long time since I had heard this piece, and even longer since I have truly listened to it. It is stunning. The music washes over you in waves, with several distinct parts, all coming together in the end. It begins so simply with the bass introducing the melody, then a couple more instruments start to come in, until there is such depth of layering, you could listen a hundred times and find something new each time. I am not generally partial to choral music, but this is unique. Where the sopranos could easily be shrill, these voices were sweet. The tenors lend stability and a voice to support those upper octaves all around them. The whole movement is incredibly dynamic in intensity, and pace, keeping you engaged the whole time. To hear the finite details of the melody and submelodies woven together gives me such an inner sense of satisfaction and peace. I needed that.

It has been so long since music was a large part of my life. For so many years, I played everyday, taking great satisfaction in learning a new piece, getting a rush to hear the orchestra or band around me nail it after weeks of rehearsal. For Fillip and I, this was one of our major common denominators, and we both still have the sheet music from the duet we performed together so long ago. For years I have said I want to pick up a new instrument and have not made the time to do it. Although that is going to be delayed for awhile longer, my interest is renewed, and I recognize the void in my psyche from not seeking out and playing quality music, old and new.

If you have never truly listened to Beethoven's 9th Symphony, find a copy and sit down with that last movement to start. It is soul shaking.

It turns out, that was a live performance, and I just got lucky. Again, I will try to go to the Hollywood Bowl to hear it in person. Who's with me?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Is it July 4th yet?

I want my independence! Not being able to drive is driving me insane. These days, people often comment how great it must be to have a hired driver to and from work.
"You don't have to battle traffic!"
"You get to ride in style!"
"Do you make them play your music and ignore them for an hour?"

Well, let me tell you all that anyone who knows me should realize I am way too much of a control freak to enjoy being in someone else's car, going the route they want to take, sitting in their choice of climate control bliss. Yes, of course I can have them change all of this. After all, these guys are working for me and will listen to whatever crappy music I want, wind through the canyon roads I like, and damn well enjoy that fresh Los Angeles air rather than keep the AC cranked to 66F, anytime of day.

However, these drivers are in their cars all day, putting up with people who may even have a right to be snooty, who definitely feel superior to this person in charge of your timeliness and safety, and who don't hesitate to treat them like dirt. How do I know that? 'Cuz I'm the one who schedules my bosses to take this car service. So, I really feel like if it is hot outside, the guy in the black hat driving me should be comfortable and cool. That guy who has to sit in the driver's seat all day, except when gallantly opening my door should get to listen (or not listen) to whatever he chooses. When he chooses the freeway over a quicker moving route, well, if wants to sit in that crap that's his choice. I don't feel comfortable changing someone's entire environment to suit my whims when I am only there briefly.

I have started requesting the canyon roads though. It just makes sense for everyone. I get to where I'm going quicker, it's prettier, and the driver has more time to either relax or pick up another passenger, making more money. I did comment on one driver's very aggressive, dangerous and all out asshole move blazing through an "orange" light, cutting to the right of a grid-locked intersection and cutting back over. "Um, that was not cool!" His response, "well the intersection was full." Yeah, maybe that means to heed the red light and stay put for a minute.

Ok, and I did kindly offer another driver that if he usually listens to the radio, to please go ahead, I don't mind at all. He took the hint, turned on the radio, to smooth jazz. "Is that what you normally listen to?" "Yeah, sometimes." Yeah, sometimes when you think it is more professional to play that instead of the Latin disco you were bumping when I got in. Please, go back to that! I crave the edginess of rock, whatever culture it comes from. I'm not so sophisticated to want smooth jazz. Maybe traditional, big band jazz with some brass, some Satchmo or Miles Davis. Not smooth jazz which takes otherwise great songs, and substitutes a flute line for vocals, adds a sax and snare and calls it a day. Really, Carlos Santana got it right the first time with Oye Como Va. That's good stuff. A flute can not stand in for Santana and there is nothing smooth about a cow bell. I was actually thrilled to hear Terence Trent D'Arby's Sign Your Name, with vocals. It's got a great melody woven through those syncopated rhythms. One morning, Fillip sent me off in surprise when the tinted black surburban was thump-ing some sort of Persian House music. Please...keep it on!

Even the crazy extreme political talk show is welcome over the option of uncomfortable silence, or amateur psycho analysis coming from the driver's seat. No, I will not tell you on meeting you a) who I voted for in the Presidential election or b) if I am Catholic. Just because my still sleepy husband in his bathrobe doesn't greet you effusively, doesn't mean he needs to work on is interpersonal skills. Everyone has a story. I totally respect that. I'm just not that friendly. In the mornings I am used to my own isolated vehicle, with my own thoughtless radio shows droning on and on and on. They never request and answer from me.

I want to drive myself to the market, to the mall, to my friend's house, to the preschool, to a birthday party, to all the things that compose my busy life. I want the freedom to run out to the beauty supply store to replace my hair gel and avoid scaring small children with my freakishly big hair. (Picture me on rainy days, circa 1989 and you'll get the idea- not pretty.) I want to pick up Starbuck's if I feel like it. I want to compulsively change the radio station in that way symptomatic to a society of sound bites. I want to drive myself! Isn't that one of those inalienable rights?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Logan at 9 months

Logan had his 9 months checkup yesterday, and I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. He did his best to charm Dr. J, completely shred the paper on the table, and see how quickly he could wiggle down. Trying to contain a naked, frisky baby and pay attention to the what the doc is saying is always a challenge. His stats are:
18lbs 3oz 10th percentile
28 inches 30th percentile
and although I don't know his head circumference, it is the 5th percentile. Yes, our guy is little! He's a good eater though, and the doc wasn't a bit concerned. He said that developmentally, he is right on target. Even the paper thing is one of the markers he looks at as I sheepishly tried to contain The Shredder. Logan is now allowed more foods like egg yolk and non-milk dairy. What the..? Cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt are all fine, but no mac n cheese, where we would be adding milk to the dish. He is still not allowed egg whites, nuts or honey, which is standard. Logan has an allergist appointment soon, so Dr. J said that doc may give some different parameters. He also told us no citrus, including strawberries. oops. Since we explained that he's been eating strawberries for about two weeks, he conceded that obviously they aren't a problem. Logan's lungs sounded clear, with no wheezing. Yippee! The only problem is that he has a double ear infection, and apparently it's a good one. Really? We had no idea, so that was a surprise. Of course, in hindsight I can see the signs, but didn't make the connection, and even now don't see him fussing about it. (Saturday night he was very hard to get to sleep, but I chalked it up to our house being nearly 90 degrees. Sunday night he fussed at bedtime, but he was really tired. He did swat at his ear a couple times, but he also slaps his own head, so it didn't get much attention from me. During the day he is not at all fussy.) Dr. J prescribed antibiotics again, told us to come back to recheck in 3 weeks, and Logan has avoided his shots once again. Mind you, he never got his 6 month shots, little bugger.

We were appropriately advised to babyproof everything since he is now everywhere. Really, like we hadn't noticed! Dr. J also repeatedly advised us that he should not be eating catfood. I guess we shouldn't have tried to illustrate the point of him being everywhere by describing finding him standing in the cats’ water, shoveling fat fistfuls of kibble into his mouth. Apparently, cat kibble is not an approved snack. Go figure.

Logan loves to eat, and has decided table food is the way to go. The jars have gone by the wayside, but he still loves his cereal. He is a little fresser (Fresser Desser?), eating way more than we think he could. He isn't picky, but once he is done, there is nothing getting passed those lips. He eats fruits, veggies, meats, all without a particular preference, although sausage is met with great approval and impatience between bites. I suspect his weight will catch up shortly as his appetite catches up to his new mobility. He nurses each morning and once or twice in the evening, depending on how the timing works out. He gets two pumped bottles each day, and daycare often gives him a bottle of formula as well.

This particular age is really among my favorite times with a baby. Logan is so incredibly charming, and such a happy little guy. He has a smile that lights up his face, and that of anyone around him. Just when you think it has been turned on full force, he kicks it up a notch, and it gets even brighter. He loves to talk and babble with several sounds- da da, ma ma, ya ya, fa fa, ga ga. Sometimes they are repeated, sometimes yelled or used with different inflections. Raspberries are constant, and done with such irreverance that it cracks us up. He also still sucks his bottom lip to his top gum to make a kissing sound. He still makes his "dolphin noise" prompting us to call him Flipper. It is a happy sound and one we can usually get him to repeat when he really gets going. Even his teachers make him do this since it is so funny, and something he has done since birth. He loves to giggle, especially when nuzzled in his ribs or under one side of his jaw. (No, I'm not sure which side, although I think it is his right. It's hit and miss with me, but a definite Daddy spot.) He turns that little face up, exposing his jaw so we can get in there. Often, he sticks his tongue out now as if in deep concentration, and sometimes just to see what it can do.

He is cruising, pulling himself up on everything. He can go up single steps (haven’t seen him try a staircase), and isn't at all phased getting up onto our hearth, which is about 18" off the ground. He has no problem getting down, but usually isn't too pleased with the result of toppling down onto the floor, usually bumping his head. He enjoys manipulating things, opening and closing things, putting things in and out of a container, seeing how they work. He crawls everywhere, and we can even get him to hurry by cheering him on. This is hilarious to see him slapping those little hands down, shuffling along with a huge grin, excited to get someplace else, wherever that may be. Logan loves water whether in the bathtub, or the wading pool outside. He crawls and splashes, sometimes tumbling over without a sputter or whimper. I have to watch him so carefully though as I have fished him out from under the surface twice in the last couple days. Again, he didn't even seem to care. He loves to chase after and play with Hayden, who is all over Logan these days. Logan also stalks the kitties, fascinated by those creatures who reside on his eye level. The cats are indifferent, but we don't really want him too immersed in them, fearing the wheezing will start again.

Everywhere we go, Logan attracts attention, engaging everyone around him with those intense blue eyes and huge grin. Waitresses take him around the restaurants, and our friends snuggle up to him giving me a hard time when he doesn’t come to book club. C’mon, this mommy needs a night off now and then! Overall, he is such a delicious little baby and I am trying to savor each moment, since it is such a fleeting time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Our coastal adventures- part 2

Friday, May 26
Our morning in Carmel by the River was very nice. I slept a little later snuggled up with Logan while Fillip and Hayden went down to the river to “skip” stones and look at the pollywogs. Once I got up, Hayden and I took a walk over to the campground “store.” They have a few provisions and some chatchkes. There were several resident dogs that Hayden just wasn’t sure about. He would greet them, but it took a bit for him to get comfortable enough to pet them. They were happy for any attention they could get (and I suspect they get a lot) so we spent some time scratching their backs and talking about the difference in how the smooth coat of the boxer felt compared to the soft coat of the springer spaniel. At the store I really wanted to find baking pans and muffin mix to whip up something with Hayden. Well, they had blueberry muffin mix, and the guy running the shop, who also lives there, loaned us a glass baking pan. I returned it to him later with a fresh hunk of blueberry bread. We also got bottles of Starbucks Frappucino….mmmm…

Back at camp Hayden and I made the blueberry bread, and I made eggs and sausage. He is so fun to bake with, earnestly mixing and taking turns “My turn! Ok Mommy, your turn!” Logan was a happy boy at breakfast, given the precious sausages. Cereal and fruit are fine, but sausage…now you’ve got breakfast! I got to take a shower, which for some reason wasn’t all that easy to do on this trip. Often our gray water needed to be emptied, or our mornings were just too hectic. Although it was nice to get clean, I missed seeing Tirsa and Nick who had come by briefly. Hayden and I walked down to the river where he had a great time throwing rocks into the river. It was really a tough path for me to navigate with my cast- steep and a little muddy and unstable, but worth it once we got there, since Hayden had so much fun. He is so cute yelling “My turn! Now….your turn!” See a theme here? Yea for school! Besides, how often is a little boy allowed to throw rocks? After awhile I convinced him to go back (convinced being “ok, Hayden I’m going back now. See you later” and heading up the path. Hayden- “No! I come too! I listen!”). When we got back Logan was happily playing in his pack n play and Fillip was packing up to go. We were off to Monterey!

Monterey is only a few miles from Carmel, but we decided to take the 17 Mile Drive on the way to let the boys nap. There is a fee to do that as it is a private road, but the views are stunning. Seeing those golf course holes right on the water was really neat. The surf is notorious for being very dangerous there, but it makes it that much prettier with the white capped waves over the rocks. There were some spectacular houses and amazing properties throughout the area. The tree canopy makes you feel like you are up in the mountains, yet you turn a bend with a stunning view of the Pacific.

From there we headed into Monterey, where we discovered that it isn’t easy to find parking for that large vehicle. We finally took two metered spots on the street, figuring that will have to do. The walk (or in my case, hobble) to the aquarium wasn’t bad. I was very excited about taking Hayden to the aquarium, but he has different interests than me. We saw Hans, Tirsa and Nick on their way out, then headed into the exhibits. Hayden was back in meltdown mode, causing us to take him outside for some downtime and a little chat. When we went back inside, he was strapped into the stroller, but only wanted to press the buttons on the exhibits. It was a much more enjoyable visit to let him press buttons until other kids came along and I could say “Hayden, it’s their turn now” and he would let us move on without a fuss.

The Monterey Aquarium has some stunning exhibits. There was an enormous tank of tuna, which I didn’t realize are such big fish. Some must have been the size of a queen bed! There were giant rays of all colors, seals, penguins, etc.. The jellyfish exhibit was my favorite. One enormous tank is all royal blue with large orange jellyfish. It was probably 10 feet square at least. Another area had black water with white jellyfish (the colors are probably all lighting, but the effect was great) along an entire wall, with mirrors all around. It looking like there was nothing but darkness with white jellyfish, floor to ceiling, along a long corridor, when in fact it was “only” about 40 feet. Stunning. They also had smaller jellyfish with irridescent strips, large blue jellyfish with white dots, upside down jellyfish (picture cauliflower in water) and jellyfish in different stages of development for comparison. Very cool. The aquarium also has a shark exhibit right now. It’s wild to get right up to these animals. Hayden liked the zebra shark which was white with black spots and about 4 feet long. (Why zebra as opposed to leopard? It’s maturity thing according to the sign.) He would put his little hand out to touch the glass as it came by, then pull back afraid, then do it again until he discovered the glass. I don’t know why, but he called this shark “taco!” Maybe he was hungry. There are areas where you can reach in and touch things like shells and starfish and he loved that. He is so tactile, which we need to keep in mind on excursions. Just looking or listening simply doesn’t engage him at all. Logan spent most of the time on Fillip in the Baby Bjorn, happy as a clam- quite appropriate for an aquarium. Each time we all caught up I would get his big grin and he would be squealing and pumping those little arms and legs.

After a couple hours we were very tired, hungry and the aquarium was about to close. I had hoped to find a cute aquarium related board book in the gift shop, but One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish just didn’t seem all that unique. We headed back to the motorhome for diaper changes, snacks and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. Navigating the busy streets of Monterey in that rv was tricky, but Fillip did a great job. At one point we looked up a one way street to see three deer walking along. “That’s really weird right? I just saw deer right?!” Spoken like true city folk. We found parking, and Fillip scouted out a restaurant while I nursed Logan. We went to Sapporos, a steakhouse and sushi restaurant right on the marina. Our table was at the window and perfect- our first meal “out!” Despite the late hour and rocky afternoon, Hayden and Logan were both in giddy moods and we were a happy bunch. Dinner was delicious. We started with an order of fried calamari strips, which Hayden loved. Hayden ordered the child’s steak teriyaki which was the most tender and flavorful I’ve ever had. Fillip and I had sushi. There was some miscommunication at the sushi bar, so my last order was put to go and comped since it took nearly 40 mins to get. However, it didn’t matter. The food was all delicious and there were families with kids all around us so the staff was very accomodating. Logan had a jar of food for dinner and I gave him some sticky white rice. It is amazing how far a spoonful of rice can go. I looked over and his dark blue pants were nearly solid white! Because it was sticky rice, it wouldn’t brush off. He was a mess!! It was really funny to see him and we did our best to pick it all off, glad he was enjoying himself. People all around us were laughing at the amount of rice one little guy could have on his pants.

After our delicious dinner, we piled back into our motorhome and got the kids in jammies. They fell asleep quickly and we headed north to Half Moon Bay. I suspect the darkness was hiding a beautiful drive, but we had a relaxing time anyway. Because it was the beginning of the holiday weekend, we ran into our first challenge getting a campsite. Each campground we came to had closed gates and no vacancy. We finally pulled into the harbor, but almost left as the signs said we were required to have a boat. It was about 1:30am by this time and we were frustrated and tired. Fortunately, the harbormaster came by and said that since it was so late and not crowded, we would just have to pay the overnight fee and it would be fine. We were relieved and settled in for the night. Fillip needed time to come down from driving so went and got all the local scoop from the harbormaster while I went to bed. At some point in the night it rained, hard, and we had to shut the overhead vent, but that was the only “weather” we encountered all week, and given we didn’t have surf or frogsong to listen to, the pounding rain was welcome.

Saturday, May 27
Our morning began early as always, despite the kids being up later every night. Fillip scouted out a breakfast joint and we dragged ourselves over there, barely getting ourselves dressed. The kids were lucky they got clean diapers, but went in their jammies. Hayden even got to bring his blankie, a rare treat. We went to the breakfast cafĂ© on the wharf, which was a great local hangout. Our server was a local girl who punctuated every sentence with “right?” and fell in love with our kids. She was friendly and chatty and we enjoyed sitting down to breakfast with the local fishermen. At one point the server asked if we would mind her holding Logan, and off he went for a tour of the kitchen. After a few minutes we heard a table ask if it was her baby and she said “oh no, it’s table 8’s baby!” Since Hayden was missing Tony and Lisa from our usual breakfast haunt, it was nice to be someplace relaxed and casual again. By the time we left, a more touristy crowd was coming in, so we were glad to have been there early.

We got some gas and Starbuck’s (whoo hoo!!!!!!) and hit the road, headed for the Bay Area. It was an easy drive on the road, but not in the rv. Fillip had asked me to charge his cell phone, but I didn’t secure it in the cabinet, so it fell in and soaked in pot of water. Oops. This made it very difficult to reach Ben about where to find him in Sausalito. Fillip fortunately remembered his number and we were able to use the little bit of juice left in my phone (as opposed to the juice actually floating across the screen of Fillip’s phone) to get in touch with and find Ben. We drove across part of the city, and then on to the Golden Gate bridge! I always find this thrilling, even though I’ve done it a few times. I loved seeing the red towers pass the boys in the window. Hayden was thrilled to be looking at the boats and water of the bay, and Logan was just not happy. Food was not forthcoming for a few minutes, and he wasn’t feeling patient. Sorry kid, that’s the breaks.

We found Ben’s house after a couple wrong turns, cuz you know how easy it to just flip a bitch in a motorhome! (Ben, go straight off the freeway, not right. How do you find your way home, man?) Ben lives on the waterfront in Sausalito with housemates. It’s an artist colony mostly and the houseboat neighborhoods are right there. We hung out most of the afternoon, feeding the kids and letting them roam free. Ben and Fillip took a walk into town while I put the kids down for a nap. It was lowkey and slow-paced, as expected when visiting Ben. That evening we headed into San Anselmo to the restaurant where Clementine works. It is a 50’s style diner, but with a more modern gourmet menu. Everything we had was delicious. Hayden was happy to have real, actual brown, chocolate milk, rather than the fake stuff we give him. Logan was just happy. As usual, he got carried around the restaurant for awhile, this time by Clementine, at least someone we know! That kid is bound to work in restaurants one day. We were there late, as it was good to give Clem a break by sitting in her station (actually since she is the only server, the whole place is her station) and took our time ordering and eating. Ben and I split a spinach chicken salad and a pulled pork sandwich with french fries. Big mistake..I wanted the whole sandwich it was so good! Hayden got a hotdog and french fries at his request:
“Hayden, what do you want for dinner?”
“Fesh fies, katup and dotdog.”
“Do you want a hamburger?”
“No hambuger.”
“Do you want chicken?”
“No chichen.”
“Do you want…..a sandwich?”
“No! No sammich!! (now scowling, nodding, and getting louder with every word, hence our persistance in this game) I! Wan! Fesh fies! Katup! Dotdog!”
“Ok, no problem, geez.” Wink.
He didn’t touch the hotdog. Clementine ate it. The fries went down just fine as well as some of the fresh strawberries she brought by. Strangely, he didn’t even want his icecream. By 10:30pm it was just too late for him to want anything. Despite the very late hour, the kids were really great, and we had a good meal. We all got back to the motorhome, and got the kids in jammies for the ride. Clementine joined us for storytime, then we kidnapped Ben and headed for the hills.

Fillip had made us a reservation at Olimas State Park, which we found almost easily. Our name was not on the after hours list, but somehow Ben remembered our assigned spot number and all went fine. The park was my favorite as our campsite was very large and we weren’t on top of the other campers. The guys got a fire going, then out, then going, then out… Those two couldn’t just leave it alone and as soon as one would get a good blaze going, the other had to make it better, likely putting it out- giving each other a good-natured ration of shit the whole time. Good times. I sat through the testosterone show for awhile, admiring the stars, wishing I had brought out the s’mores fixin’s (which I never did use) and taking in the fresh air before retiring to bed with my book. They had a good time until the fire went out in the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday, May 28
We woke up in the woods grateful to sleep a tiny bit later. Well, Logan had done his usual early morning wake up and come into our bed. We had joked to Ben that Hayden was his responsibility. Well, the little stinker slept until 9:30am. No loyalty. We were up with Logan from about 8am, which is still really late for him. Breakfast was more burritos from the leftovers of previous days and Ben was duly impressed. Hayden and I took a walk around the campground, which was a morning tradition at that point. He is really fun to walk with, holding my hand and pointing out the sites. Every now and then he stops to be picked up “picky my up!” so I do. It’s really brief until he tells me “takey my down.” He says hi to all the dogs, points out bicycles, other motorhomes, and people who look familiar to him. It’s just amazing to me how much goes on in that tiny little person, and how in just two years he has become a thinking individual all on his own. We didn’t do that, just provided the environment in which it could happen. After our usual relaxed morning we packed up and headed down the hills. It was a beautiful drive, the kids were happy and we were to spend the day in Sausalito.

Fillip parked the motorhome in a business lot near Ben’s place. In trying to park he knocked over a post and did a bit of damage to the rv. So, he and Ben went to the hardware store while I stayed with the sleeping munchkins. It gave me about half an hour to relax and read. It would have been nice to be outside, but the downtime was nice anyway. When Fillip and Ben returned we finally headed to downtown Sausalito to walk around.

It is a beautiful area, right on the water. We went in a couple shops then got a snack at a gourmet deli. We sat near the park eating crusty french bread with provolone, italian salame and black forest ham. It was surprisingly delicious. My snack had the bonus of an icecream cone, which made the rounds despite everyone saying they didn’t want any when I offered to get them their own. Both boys loved our little picnic, eating heartily which was good as we were going for another late dinner. The waterfront and shopping district was crowded with people out for the holiday weekend, also taking in the beautiful weather and view. We walked along the waterfront, then headed back to Ben’s car and over to the fishing pier.

The pier is right near the Golden Gate Bridge, with the San Francisco skyline right in front of us. Spectacular!! I couldn’t help sending pics from my phone of such a fantastic sight. People were catching fish from the pier and Hayden was fascinated by the cooler full of live fish. One lady even pulled up some crabs. Eventually, Hayden lost interest and before we knew it, Ben (who was wearing Logan) and I realized Fillip and Hayden were back at the car. It was very breezy and chilly, so that might be what made Hayden want to go back. I could have stayed there all day, and will make it a point to hit that spot when we go back to the Bay Area.

Next we headed back to San Anselmo for dinner at Bubba’s, Clementine’s diner. I was smart enough to get another pulled pork sandwich, this one all to myself. Hayden at least took a couple bites of hotdog, and Logan was just happy to be. We lingered over dinner again, with our plan for me and Clementine to go out for a bit in the city. Fillip and I walked to the bookstore across the street, as Goodnight Moon really needed to be replaced. I also got a couple more books including one about San Francisco. I love getting books local to where we are traveling. We came back to the diner and I said goodnight to the kids. The boys all headed back to Ben’s and Clem and I went into the city.

Our plan was to briefly stop at her apartment for her to change, then go get a drink at a local restaurant bar, then she would drive me back to Ben’s place around midnight and Fillip, me and the boys would start our drive back to Los Angeles. The restaurant bar she likes is nice and she seems to be pretty friendly with the bartender. It was nice to be out as a grownup for a change, not just a mommy. It was a friendly crowd, maybe a bit friendlier than I like, since the singles scene is something I’ve never been particularly comfortable with. However, Clementine seems to be pretty familiar with the place, a regular on Sunday nights when she needs to let off steam after a tough week. She is off Mondays and Tuesdays, so it the beginning of her weekend. We got there late, and time went quickly. I spoke with Fillip around 12:45pm, convinced Clem and I would be leaving soon, but when I finally started really badgering her and it got to 1:30am, she said she was in no condition to drive, and Ben had to come get me. I told her to make that phone call, as I did not want to hear the irritation on the other side of the line. Ben got to me around 2:30am, we followed Clementine the few blocks home as she absolutely insisted on driving herself. Fillip had to move the motorhome by 2am so drove around waiting for me, and we hit the road after 3:00am. It was so frustrating!

Needless to say, Fillip was extremely tired, which wasn’t the safest situation. However, we didn’t have a place to keep the motorhome that night, so we had to hit the road. We drove for over two hours, and got the last spot at a rest area on the I-5. Phew! We laid our heads down to sleep at 5:30am.

Monday, May 29
At 5:40am Logan woke up. I fed him and got him settled by 6:15am, then dozed off. Hayden woke at 6:45am. I kept the kids quiet and occupied for the next several hours, so Fillip could sleep. After all, he was the one who would be driving and needed the rest. The boys had snacks, played, watched movies, and were very good. I got Fillip up before 11am. We had a quick breakfast, walked Hayden around the rest area a bit and went to see the passing herd of cattle. I don’t know that I actually have ever heard cows moo before, but it was fun to watch Hayden moo at them. We hit the road around 11am without any more rest or showers (eyww!) and had a long drive ahead of us. We had McDonalds for lunch then the kids fell asleep. I laid down for about 30 minutes before needing to be back up while Fillip used a rest stop. Hayden was up by then. Given that we drove for about 4 hours straight, the kids were incredible! They didn’t complain and were so content in their carseats. When we would stop now and then for Fillip to stretch, we would let them get out and stretch as well. Logan would crawl around the motorhome, and Hayden would go with one of us for a walk. We dragged into town with very little traffic and went straight to Tami’s house for a Memorial Day BBQ.
It was truly a fun trip. Traveling with little kids is still so busy, not much different than home. It is so fun to see their faces in new situations, and learn how flexible and open to new experiences they are. Hayden now talks about castles and we can tell him how he has been up and down our state. Logan began the trip crawling, eating only pureed food, and now stands on his own easily and wants almost all tablefood. We had seven days together to get to know each other so much better, while seeing how absolutely beautiful much of California is.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One hot momma

My next post was intended to be the rest of our vacation but....

Fuck it's hot! Yes, that is where my boy gets his language and I'll say it again. Fuck!

Our fucking airconditioner isn't working. We live in the fucking valley where it is literally as hot as the depths of hell. Dante, I feel your pain man. It is 10:15pm and it is 87 degrees F in here. All the doors and windows are open and we have fans going everywhere.

Hayden insisted I cover him before bed, but I got lucky that his pre-bedtime meltdown sapped the last of his energy and he fell asleep anyway. Logan however was awake until nearly 9:30pm, which is really late for him. He was screaming in his swing, then in his bed, then I laid down with him on the couch and he couldn't even keep that little head up. He tried crawling across the couch, but had to rest that heavy head every few inches. Finally I put him back in his crib, set up a fan, removed the bumper to let the air get through and patted him until he finally went down. This included mistakenly thinking he was asleep, and being told in not so uncertain terms by his wailing "no Mommy, I really need you near me right now. Keep patting and I will be quiet in an instant, but stop and I will scream bloody murder. It's up to you." Pat pat pat pat pat pat pat.... you get the idea.

AC guy is supposed to be here early tomorrow morning. I will do anything he wants to make it cooler in here. I'm pretty sure Fillip is on board.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Our coastal adventures- Part 1

We had a wonderful time on our vacation, and although happy to be home, would have been happier to have more time off. We saw the beautiful California coast, stayed in the lap of luxury on our motorhome, and realized that vacation with kids is as busy as being home with kids. Gee, there's a surprise! Logan didn't wheeze at all on our trip. As much as a relief as that is, it doesn't bode well for our kitties. He has been home and wheez-free for two days, so I am interested to see what comes of our allergist appointment in a couple weeks.

Monday, May 22
Monday was spent packing and getting ready for our departure. I had a doc appointment in the morning to get my cast off, and a removable AirCast put on, which the Mini Cooper kindly got us to, then promptly died in the parking structure. Fillip waited for the towtruck during my appointment. A frustrating start to the day, but we didn’t let it get us down. While Fillip went for the motorhome, I stayed home packing. The kids were with Mickey, enjoying a day at Grandma’s house. By the time we got the motorhome packed, I was exhausted, and we got quite a late start. We were very excited. We had to make a “quick” stop at Erawan’s house for Fillip’s forgotten jacket, which was less quick than we intended, not surprisingly. I was to stay in the motorhome while Fillip just ran in. However, Erawan’s parents and aunt came to see our rig, and before I knew it, had scooped up the kids and taken them in the house. I sheepishly came in to tell Fillip, I had lost control, and the kids! Jessica kindly (and insistently) stocked us with tons of food and goodies, which was a great help, delaying our need to grocery shop. Delicious croissants and sweet fresh fruit! Well, also some cookies, brownies, chips, more fruit, and a big hat. Ok, now we were ready to hit the road!

The motorhome itself was great. It was 31’ with a bed over the cab, the couch and table each converted into beds, and there was a king size bed in the back. It was less than a year old, and immaculate, with “tile” floors and nice upholstery and cabinets. The carseats installed well facing each other on the kitchenette banquettes, so Logan was still rear-facing as required, and they could amuse each other on the road. Hayden’s face was priceless when he boarded, wanting to check everything out. For him it was great, as he could see the scenery going by, much better than in our cars. The law on carseat requirements for kids isn’t clear to us, but what was clear was that they needed to be restrained. It was difficult for me to walk around while moving, which I had to do more often than I liked, and there is no way the little ones could have been let to roam free while traveling. The side of the motorhome “popped out” at the touch of a button, giving us lots of space to walk by once camped. We used our Pack n Play for Logan as well as the baby swing!

We got a great spot at Thornhill Broom beach for our first night, right on the beach! Dinner was kept simple with the kids eating first, and us heating up leftover bbq after they went to bed. Hayden played in his bed over the cab for awhile when we first got there. He was so excited! We were slightly concerned about him falling off, but it wasn’t much of an issue. He had all his familiar bedding and Robby’s so was a happy boy. He went down with little fuss after little fuss, and Logan went to sleep in his swing. We had a quiet dinner on the beach to the sound of the waves on the shore. The sky was beautiful and we were very happy to be on the road, despite being very local still. We slept with the windows open, listening to the pounding of the surf all night.

Tuesday, May 23

The first morning (actually, every morning) the kids woke bright and early. Logan woke first and came into bed with us. Shortly after we heard a thump and Hayden crying. He had jumped out of bed himself, but was just fine. Nothing a kiss on the knee couldn’t cure. The four of us stayed in our bed for awhile before getting up to make breakfast (mmmm… toasted croissants a la Jessica!) and play on the beach. The boys were content to snack in their booster seats for awhile. Hayden really just wanted to play in the driver’s seat for most of the trip “I drive! Daddy give me keys to drive!”, but did enjoy the beach that morning. We spent a relaxing, yet busy morning there. Hayden walked around the beach, desperately wanting to get closer to the water. I even got some time alone to sit and gaze at the water. Late in the morning when the kids were ready for a nap, we packed up and moved out.
We had a beautiful drive up the coast, went through some towns following Highway 1, and then dared to go through the hills of Santa Barbara. Fillip handled the motorhome like pro, although it must have been harder than he made it look. We were on an adventure and enjoying the journey. We made camp in El Capitan State Park north of Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful park with woods and a view of the bay. We could see the water from our campsite under the trees, and were excited about camping. Hayden was happier playing in the driver’s seat and rear storage compartment of the rv, while Logan was delighted to be outside in his piano exersaucer. Yes, we even had that monstrous toy- we had that much room! I kept him company knitting and providing snacks. Fillip built a campfire, although the firewood we had was slightly wet and wouldn’t catch. We smoked our tritip as much as grilled it, but it was delicious! The weather was clear and crisp, requiring jackets or sweaters in the evening, but nothing heavier until after nightfall. After the kids went to bed, we sat down by the campfire to relax over a game of dominoes. Fillip kicked my ass and I went to bed late in defeat. We each got our usual time to wind down- me reading and Fillip wandering about until late in the night while the campfire died down. We could hear the bass of the waves on the shore, despite the distance to the water, and it was so nice.

Wednesday, May 24

Wednesday morning we were up early as always. Fillip made us “eggs cheese and sausage,” Hayden’s favorite breakfast and we sat at the picnic table enjoying the atmosphere and the view. Logan decided sausage is the food for him, and ate an entire one each day we had them. It takes a really long time to feed him a whole sausage and crumble it as little as he needs it, but he was a happy boy. Hayden and I took a walk to check out the dolphins in the bay that Fillip had seen earlier. There were about a half dozen of them frolicking in the water, and other campers mentioned seeing even more the previous evening. They likely reside there in the bay and were very fun to watch. After breakfast the four of us descended the staircase to the beach. This was quite a challenge for me in my cast. Fillip had Logan in the Baby Bjorn, and Hayden held his hand while I hobbled down. Of course, it took longer as I kept making them stop so I could take pictures, but that’s all part of the package with me! We finally made it down to the rocky beach and Fillip said we needed to head right back up, as we hadn’t given Logan any sunscreen and there wasn’t any shade. He had already been in the sun for some time while we got down there. We stayed for about 5 minutes before heading back up. Going up was much easier for me. Hayden and I played with my big floppy hat and a squirrel while Fillip got the rv. Off we went for another day on the road. Lunch generally consisted of snacks for Hayden who is always happy with a breakfast bar and Cheez Its, and a jar of something for Logan while driving. These days he really wants table food so I would also take time to give him tiny bits of turkey lunchmeat. Fillip and I would have sandwiches that I made as we drove.

This was another traveling day. The kids napped for part of the drive and we got to see more of California. Despite being on vacation, we were still quite busy with the kids. Once they would wake up, I would frequently be up and about while driving to get them snacks, toys, etc. This was a bit tiresome, but certainly preferable to hungry screaming kids! We would stop now and then for gas or provisions. I would stay in the rv nursing or doing diaper changes, while Fillip usually took Hayden and sometimes Logan so they could have a break from being cooped up. We got to Morro Bay State Park late in the afternoon, and had a similar time from the day before. Relaxing, playing, walking, knitting, snacking. Fillip had better luck with the fire, but that wood still didn’t really want to catch. This park had so many campers with dogs and Hayden had a good time greeting all of them. “Hi doggy! How are you?” Logan had determined that the motorhome was the best playpen ever, and was such a happy boy. He got some play time outside in his pack n play, while Hayden just wanted to “drive.” The campground was right on the bay next to the marina. It wasn’t quite as “woodsy,” and the rv spots were packed close together.

People were very friendly, waving and saying high as they passed by. We had grilled hot dogs and chili for dinner, a good camping dinner. We also had fondue, how fancy!! Bedtime was the usual blur of activity, complete with storytime, my favorite time with Hayden. He now reads along with his books, which is so sweet. Most nights we read his fire engine book of vehicle sounds, a Curious George book (“Hi George!”), the Cat in the Hat which Hayden calls the fish book (“hish fall down get hurt? hish get back in his bowl? Where’s hish?”), a book about Shabbat where Hayden pauses to recite the Kiddush and cover his eyes for candle lighting and Goodnight Moon (in the great green room there was a telephone “Right there!” and a red balloon “Right there!”…). Storytime has gotten quite long, but is such an enjoyable time of the day. For the first time he noticed the ship in the Cat in the Hat (remember…the cat sank the ship in the cake) and said “there’s the ship! Arrrgh Matey!” in his surly pirate voice. He cracks me up. Fillip and I sat down for another game of dominoes. I got schooled again, despite talking a good amount of smack before hand. I’m bound to win a game eventually, right? We enjoyed another evening relaxing by the fire and gazing at the beautiful sky, trying to find constellations we know we knew at one point in time.

Thursday, May 25
Our morning in Morro Bay began early like the others. We had yummy breakfast burritos with eggs, tritip, cheese and salsa, and our usual morning busy-ness. Hayden and I took a walk around the campground, getting caught in some kind of loop where we finally ended up walking across other campsites (gasp!) to get back to our own. There is something I just love about morning air, and being out in nature makes it so much better. I really did miss the ability to go for a long, hard walk, but had to be content with a short stroll and the good company of Hayden. I was very excited to be heading to Hearst Castle that day.

The drive was nice, the scenery absolutely beautiful. We made our tour reservation by phone and showed up right on time for the bus. Hayden was excited to go on the bus (and seriously disappointed by every unboarded bus thereafter!), but a little hard to keep seated. Logan was happy to be repeatedly throwing Legos on the floor, and getting us to retrieve them. He even managed to throw one onto an unsuspecting lady in front of us who didn’t quite realize what had happened. The Hearst Castle tour is very structured, with a lot of lecture and not much touring. Hayden was simply everywhere loudly. That child was uncontainable. The assistant docent asked him at one point to use a quieter voice. Not surprising, that didn’t work. We kept pulling him aside and trying to calm him, but once he gets into meltdown mode, it is rather hopeless much of the time. We were finally strongly encouraged to go to the children’s room where there was a changing pad, toys, a bathroom, and a door they could close on our chaos. As were being ejected from the tour, a lady looked at Hayden and said “Shhh! I can’t hear!” Well, I could not hold my tongue and told her if the would have worked, didn’t she think we would have tried that! We were doing our best! By this time, Fillip was football carrying a screaming Hayden and I was hobbling along with Logan in the Baby Bjorn. Don’t mess with me right now lady! Once we got to the room, I told Fillip to go back to the tour, since there was no reason we should both miss it. He said I didn’t miss much, but I hadn’t heard anything prior to that anyway, so it was rather disappointing. Of course, once we were ensconced in Hearst Siberia, Hayden was a perfect angel, happy to play quietly. We sheepishly rejoined our tour before boarding the bus, and were happy to receive more supportive comments from other parents who could commiserate from experience. Needless to say, we were happy to back to our motorhome, which from that point forward Hayden called his castle.

We had some snacks while Fillip went to purchase our oh so touristy Hearst Castle portrait package (I had forgotten my camera) and hit the road with two sleepy kids, ready for our next adventure. Little did I know what an adventure it would be!

Despite warnings against it, we decided to continue up the coast through Big Sur. The kids quickly zonked out, and we had an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the California coastline. It was truly spectacular. The combination of the dark jagged coastline, rich greenery, white frothy waves and blue water was stunning. However, the road was treacherous, especially in a 31’ motorhome. Fillip was very calm, but nervous navigating through there. There were hairpin turns, bumps, dips, the face of the mountain on our right ,and a sheer drop to the water on the left. There was no way we would take that drive going the other direction. This way we could at least hug the mountain.

Although Hayden remained asleep, Logan woke up cranky. We definitely didn’t want to wake Hayden early after the trying afternoon we’d had, so I took Logan to the back thinking to put him back to sleep, then back in his carseat. Hah!! It was wild ride back there. We were lying on the bed, but barely as each bump and turn had us jumping and flying around. At one point, I was trying to build a pillow barricade for us and had let go of Logan. That baby went flying and bouncing from side to side across the bed, giggling all the way! It was very funny, but scary at the same time. I finally weighted him down with my body, laughing with him through the bigger bumps. At first he giggled, then fussed, then cried, then eventually went fast asleep for the next hour and a half. I stayed awake trying to take in as much of the scenery as I could out the back windows. It was so sweet to hold Logan tight like that while he slept, but I had really been enjoying the drive with Fillip. There was no way I could get us up and navigate back to our seats under those conditions, so I had no choice but to stay put. I wedged us in with pillows and enjoyed the ride.

Hayden eventually woke up and Fillip stopped to tend to him, but I had no way to know if there was enough time to get up, so figured Fillip would get me when he got up. Nope. I finally got up as we started up a mountain road to our campsite in Carmel by the River. I could gauge the stoplights and made my way back to the front.

This next campsite was pricey, but beautiful. Each spot was very small, so we were very close to our neighbors. Friendly campers as always. The river was right behind us over the grassy embankment. As we were getting settled, a lady and her toddler walked by and we started chatting. Eventually, her husband came by too looking for them. Hans, Tirsa, and Nick are from Holland and had taken a three week vacation starting in San Francisco. They were at the end of their trip and had been all over. After over an hour it was getting late, so we invited them to stick around for dinner. They were happy to accept as their provisions were low, and we had plenty to share. It was a wonderful evening with them, and the kids played nicely too. Hayden was so happy to have someone to play with. They each held their own, stealing and sharing the toys. The family was laid back about things, so didn’t care if I gave the kids yogurt or Doritos. Whatever! One of the boys determined that Logan can in fact eat Doritos. The orange powder in and around Logan’s smiling mouth gave him away. He was just happy to be part of the chaos. Dinner ended well after 10pm, but the kids were great. This was to become a pattern, and they surprised us with their endurance. We finally bid each other goodnight after taking pics and exchanging info. We’ve already exchanged a couple emails. We saw them briefly the next day at the aquarium, and we are promised lodging should we ever make it back to Holland.

Fillip and I stayed up for a bit with the fire. We watched the stars and chatted a bit about how great it was to meet another young family. I was exhausted and shortly went to bed with the windows open enjoying the rhythm of the surprisingly loud frogsong on the river.