October 2014
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New York, New York

I spent most of this past week working in Midtown Manhattan. When they asked me if I’d be ok with working in New York for a week, I said yes… but only if they found me a hotel near the job site that wasn’t crawling with roaches. I guess they called my bluff, because I ended up staying just a couple of blocks from Times Square. And there was nary a roach to be found.

(This is both an awesome and an awful location. Awesome, because you can walk to pretty much everywhere you need to go. Awful, because you need to push your way through hordes of tourists to get there.)

I even got to take the train down! Business class. Faaaaaancy.

(The fact that I called it fancy, means that it wasn’t really fancy. But it sure is a sweet way to travel.)

Usually when they send me onsite, I spend all day working my brain off, and then I go back to the hotel and watch Law and Order until I pass out. But I was in New York, man! I couldn’t just sit around. I’m sure I should have figured out how to go to some museums or art galleries, but I did manage to eat just about every different kind of ethnic food I could think of.

Things I also managed to do:

  • Met up for dinner with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen in years. He has a Very Cool Job(tm) these days, and happened to be in the area. It was an unexpected treat to get a chance to catch up with him.
  • Ate a delicious steak at the restaurant  where John Gotti had a couple of mobsters gunned down. A real slice of New York history! When a sales guy is taking you out, you definitely need to order a steak.
  • Had a totally random celebrity sighting ( Michael Emerson pooper scooping after his dog). One of my friends says that only tourists in New York have celebrity sightings, because we’re the only people looking up. But I would like to state for the record that I only saw Mr. Emerson because the guy standing next to me said “hey, isn’t that guy famous?” (I was looking down at my phone.) I guess I have the kind of face that says “you should totally point out to me that celebrity holding a bag of dog poo.”
  • Spent an evening hanging out with my good friend Vicki . It’s been far too long since I got a chance to hang out with her. Also, there was delicious Mexican food involved. And she gave me a sip of her coconut margarita. Does it get any better than that? (No. No it does not.)
  • Walked to work. Every day. In fifteen minutes or less. This might not seem that big of a deal to you , but I usually spend 45+ minutes in the car to get to work.
  • Bought an Olaf doll for Lilian at the Times Square Disney Store, aka the Most Horrible Place on Earth. They have the Frozen soundtrack on repeat. I’m pretty sure that’s some sort of OSHA violation. I tried to make a joke about this to the cashier (she was singing along, I suspect Stockholm Syndrome). Then I realized she thought I was one of those crazy Disney people. Then I tried to backpedal. Then she was like “Uhhhh, I don’t care. Move along crazy lady.” True story, bro. Then I gave Lilian the Olaf doll when I got home and she told everyone “Papa bought it!” Sad face.
  • Face-timed with my kid from a bar in the East Village on Friday night. Because nothing makes a husband happier after a week of solo parenting than seeing you out and about with a whole bunch of your mutual friends. (He was cool with it.)
  • Went jogging in Central Park. Contrary to what all police procedurals would have you believe, not every jog through Central Park results in stumbling across a dead body. It does , however, involve being passed repeatedly by all of the Type-A personalities who are jogging in Central Park at 8am on a rainy Saturday morning. Dammit.

Ok, so it wasn’t exactly the most exciting week of all time. But considering the fact that I was mostly there to work, I think I did pretty well for myself. And I felt all relaxed and recharged when I got home! Fifteen minute commute + no small child to wake you up early = so much extra time for sleeping.

I felt pretty self conscious about taking photos while I was there (I’m sure everyone could tell I was a tourist, but I liked to pretend it wasn’t blatantly obvious), but I did take a couple.

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30 Rock

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It had to be taken!

I took the train back as far as Hartford and then met up with my family (more on that some other day). Lilian did that whole “I’m mad at you for leaving, but happy you’re home, so I don’t know what to do with my feels, so I’m going to act all crazy until I figure it out” thing for a bit, but she calmed down pretty quickly and was just happy to see me. I can’t say that I would recommend leaving on a week-long business trip to snap your toddler out of her “Daddy rules, Mommy drools” phase… but it was kind of effective.

Have you had a chance to go anywhere cool on business? And do you think you got a chance to take advantage of your trip?

Welch and Dickey

Our toddler hikes have been going so well, we decided to go on a big kid hike on Sunday. Kristian, LJ, and I drove up to New Hampshire with our friend Yogurt. We met up with my sister at Welch and Dickey for a 4.5 mile loop up and down a couple of little mountains.

(I was supposed to run 14 miles as part of my half-marathon training plan, but I’ve decided that I need to prioritize special time with my family over racking up the miles.)

It was a long ass drive, so we were very much ready to get out into the woods. Lilian was particularly excited.

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Kristian has about 20 more years of hiking experience than I do (he did a *lot* of hiking when he was younger, plus he’s ooooold ), so he was the lucky parent who got to carry 35+ pounds of toddler and gear. I should have strapped a tiny tot to him years ago! We’ve been together for nine years, and this is the first time I didn’t have to bust my ass to keep up with him.

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My sister drove an hour to meet up with us. It was so great that we were able to get together like that. I think she had a pretty good time, too.

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Lilian is starting to enjoy this whole outdoors business. Not only does she yell out “we hiking! we hiking!” she’s also starting to get into the gear. She was a big fan of our poles.

(Kristian would like you to know that the only time he needs poles is if there are 17 inches of snow on the ground, or if he wants to steady himself because his precious child is on his back.)

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There are almost no pictures of the two of us, so I asked my sister to take a few snaps of LJ and me.

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Then we did a family photo. Lilian would like you to know that she prefers peanut butter and jelly over cameras. Any day of the week.

 

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Welch and Dickey is a great hike. As Yogurt put it, the effort to reward ratio is quite favorable. It’s a little tricky at times (I can already feel how bad my hamstrings are going to hurt tomorrow), but it’s very do-able. And a good chunk of the loop goes along a ridge line, so the views are fantastic.

The only problem? It’s a 2+ hour drive away. And we wanted to hike in the daylight, so we couldn’t do our usual “head up while LJ naps” noontime drive. Which means that Lilian had to nap on the trail.

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She might have relaxed in the moment (I had no idea a human neck could swivel like that), but it was fairly short-lived. I think she only slept for a half-hour total (she usually goes down for a solid two hours). And there was no napping in the car. Which means that, by the time we stopped at the Common Man in Concord, NH for dinner, she was completely exhausted. I’m seriously impressed that she managed to hold it all together. There was definitely a lot more fussing than usual, but she made it through an entire dinner. This kid is resilient.

(She had a little meltdown when we got home, but I held her hand, sang her a few songs, and she was out like a light.)

I’m not sure if our schedule will allow another hike this month, but I hope we get at least one more in before this winter!

Toddler Hikes

Kristian has had some Saturday work to do lately, so LJ and I have started going on some little hikes together. I guess I should say “hikes,” or maybe just “walks in the woods.” I strap her to my back in a frame backpack and we go somewhere with plenty of rocks, and trees, and dirt. Not a lot of climbing up mountains, though. I’m not sure what you’d call it.

I think LJ would call it, “fun.”

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The first time we went together, I couldn’t find anyone to go with us. I was a little nervous about taking her out in the woods all by myself, but then I decided that I needed to get over it. So, off we went, just the two of us.

We’d gone about a mile and a half when she decided that she no longer wanted to be in the backpack. I can only surmise that she was getting a little heated up in there, because I can’t see any other reason to want out. That thing is sweet . I wish they made a grownup version. I would hire a strongman to carry me around in it.

I let her down to stretch out her legs, which she thought was pretty awesome (so much dirt! so many rocks!). But then we got to a slight incline, and she decided it wasn’t so awesome anymore.

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She didn’t want to go back into the backpack. She didn’t want to walk. It was a classic toddler dilemma, really. One that can only be resolved with screaming. Lots and lots of screaming.

(Most toddler dilemas involve fundamental incompatibilities and copious amounts of screaming.)

We finally reached a compromise, of sorts. I carried her in my arms instead of the backpack. And she didn’t yell like she was being taken out into the woods by a serial killer. But you know what sucks? Carrying 25 pounds of toddler up and down hills. Especially when you have a perfectly lovely backpack that could take all of that toddler and make it easier to carry, but is just more dead weight.

We did a bit of a dance, with me picking her up, putting her down, putting her in the backpack, putting her down, etc.

I attempted to bribe her with munchkins (“do you want a munchkin? I need you to stay up there and stop screaming and kicking me in the kidneys.”) Because when the going gets tough, I am allowed to wuss out and promise my kid a mini-donut if she’ll let me carry her out of the woods in a manner that doesn’t leave me arms feeling like jello. That mostly worked (if you’re going to bribe your kid, make it a good one, I say.) Even when she started fussing again, I would just point out bird noises, or the wind blowing through the trees, or get her to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for me.

Lessons learned: start the hike off with your tiny tyrant walking. Wait for her to ask to get up into the backpack. Don’t let her down, if you can help it. If she starts squawking, try to distract her instead. It’s a lot easier to calm her down while maintaining the status quo than it is to get her back into the backpack after you’ve given her a taste for freedom.

Also, sometimes bribes are just an excuse to extend the outing. Because who doesn’t love a munchkin after a 2-3 hour hike? I may or may not have bought a munchkin or two for my own consumption.

(Lilian requested a “yellow” one.)

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This past Saturday, Kristian had to work (again). I was thinking about taking LJ for another hike, which is why it was so completely perfect that Yogurt texted us asking if we wanted to go hiking. Because Mommy/Daughter hikes are pretty awesome, but so is being able to say “hey, can you reach into that back pocket and hand me my water bottle?”

I occasionally do learn my lessons: this time we took a few minutes when we first arrived to let LJ stretch out her legs.

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We wandered around in circles for a bit, but we finally figured out a good route. And then we settled into a nice rhythm of grownup talk (nothing too grownup for little ears, though) and “look! birdies!” followed by more grownup talk, followed by “like a diamond in the sky!”

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At about the three-quarter mark, LJ got really quiet. Another advantage of going hiking with a good friend? He can confirm for you that your kid is completely sacked out. And then take a picture of it for posterity.

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I can’t remember the last time LJ fell asleep on me. It was probably a year ago. I had almost forgotten how nice it is to feel that comforting little weight. The total relaxation. The trust that you will keep her safe. It’s such a privilege to watch over her.

I guess she was pretty tired, because she didn’t even wake up when we got back to our car.

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(She did wake up when I attempted to transfer her to her carseat, but you can’t win them all.)

I am so grateful to my step-brother and his wife for giving us this awesome backpack (they put quite a few miles on it, but their kids are too big for it now). I’m extra grateful that my child who doesn’t like to sit still seems to enjoy riding around in said backpack. I hope that there are many more adventures in our future!

‘Sup Internet?

Hey guys, how’s it going?

I’m not normally a big fan of bloggers writing up apologies for not posting. I mean, it’s not like anyone has been loading up my website and hitting refresh over and over again, crying “why hope? whyyyyyyy?” But, then I went and didn’t post anything for almost a month , and now I feel like it’s a thing . So, yeah… sorry? The truth of the matter is, I just got busy. I’m also trying to limit my screen time at home. I am making a conscious effort to put my phone away when I get home, so that I can spend more quality time with LJ. And I’m also trying to avoid screen time after 9pm or so, because I’m hoping that it will help me sleep better (the jury is still out on that one). That gives me a window of something like 45 minutes after LJ’s bedtime, and that never seems to give me enough time to write anything coherent (I usually write posts at night and schedule them for the next day).

But I miss blogging! I miss having this outlet for the random shit that’s bouncing around my head. So, I need to find time to blog. Maybe I will have to use my lunch breaks more efficiently. Maybe I need to start putting quill to paper and then transcribing it later. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling at this point.

So…. what’s new?

Well, I turned 33 back at the beginning of September. Kristian had some crazy work stuff going on that week, so it was a fairly low-key birthday. We’ve been doing a lot of work on our house (I will try to post some pictures at some point). Kristian and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. I’m training for another half marathon. Running takes up more of my time than I can probably afford to spare these days… but it also keeps me sane, so I think it’s probably worth it. LJ just gets more and more fun. She’s started talking in tiny sentences, which is amazing. She has also started throwing tempter tantrums, which is not.

(She also went through a phase where she wanted nothing to do with me, everything to do with Kristian, and screamed bloody murder if I tried to put her to bed by myself.)

(I…. don’t want to talk about it.)

(Let’s just say I’m very glad it seems to be over.)

(For now.)

I set up a projector in the backyard last weekend, and we watched Cinderella (or, as she called it, “Sunny-Rella”) outside.

Backyard Movie Night

It got a little cold towards the end of the movie, but she climbed up on my lap and we snuggled under a blanket, so we were nice and warm. Lilian and I also went hiking together a couple weeks ago, just the two of us. This is the sort of stuff that excited me about being a parent, so it’s pretty amazing to have it all come together.

How have you all been?

V-A-C-A-T-I-ON

We just got back from a week in Bourne, at the house where we got married . My Dad and a bunch of his friends rent it every August. We all had a fantastic time, especially Lilian. You’d enjoy yourself too, if you were two-years-old and had an entire house full of grownups at your beck and call. So many people to play with! One of my Dad’s buddies made her pancakes every morning. And so many cookies!

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Dance for me, minions!

The yearly festivities include a pasta sauce competition.

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Yummers.

There was also plenty of time for snuggles.

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Papa snuggles

Also, for relaxing with an adult beverage and catching up on the NY Times crossword puzzle app.

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Get it?

The house we stayed at is near the Cape, but it’s not really a beach-y type place. There’s a pool, and plenty of woods to run around in, and an organic farm, and really I’m not complaining about not being on the beach. Especially when there’s a little channel off of the bay that’s a five minute drive and open to anyone renting the house. Lilian is apparently taking after her Dad… she doesn’t appear to like the beach very much. Or maybe she just didn’t like the feeling of sand in between her toes? As long as we let her stay on our blanket, though, she was as happy as a clam.

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Pinwheeling.

I made it my goal to go paddle boarding every day we were there. I had to work the first two days (Thursday and Friday), but I went every day after that. And it was glorious! I went a few times by myself for long paddles across the bay. The wind and current made it pretty tough, but I love me a challenge. I also took a few of the other vacation-goers, which was just as much fun. It’s nice to have people to understand why I’m so crazy about it! I think a few folks are going to get boards of their own.

And, hey, I taught myself a new trick! Yes, that is Crane’s Pose. And, yes, my feet are just barely hovering in the air. How long did they hover? Well, it was longer than it takes to snap a picture. How much longer than that? Well, not that much longer. But I can barely do this pose on land, so I think it’s pretty awesome to be able to do it on the water. Anything that involves stability, balance, core strength, etc is a lot harder on a paddle board.

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“Look Mom! No feet!”

Even without the channel, the pool is pretty sweet. Even Kristian spent some time in it!

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“I spent an hour blowing this thing up. We are going to have fun , dammit”

My little water baby suddenly decided that the water was too cold for her, but happily rode around on an inflatable turtle without so much as getting her feet wet.

We also made time on Wednesday to drive across the Sagamore Bridge and visit my Grandma. She is apparently not so great at answering her phone these days, so it ended up being a surprise visit. She cried when she opened her door and saw us!

(Tears of joy! I promise!)

She gets tired pretty easily these days (you would too, if you were 91-years-old), so we only stayed for about an hour. But it was long enough for Kristian to fix the time on all of the appliances in her kitchen, and for that she will be eternally grateful. I sometimes feel bad that Lilian doesn’t get to spend more time with her Nana (it’s about a 2-2.5 hour drive when we’re home and then we can’t stay very long), so I was so grateful to be able to use our vacation as an excuse for a visit.

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Wild Women

(Not pictured: lunch afterwards with my Uncle.)

We did this same vacation last year and, while it was fun, it wasn’t exactly relaxing . Partially because Kristian had to head back to work and I ended up solo parenting. Partially because parenting a one-year-old involves a lot of work. You have to watch them like hawks. And they are always finding new and creative ways to get their hands on choking hazards. Two-year-olds? Have much better survival instincts. And they’re so much more fun! I miss the baby phase sometimes, but I didn’t realize how exhausting it is to keep a baby alive until I had a toddler and could relax a little.

Speaking of relaxing… don’t go and think you can relax completely around a toddler. Because, that’s how shit like this happens:

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This used to be a very nice door.

(I do believe I went and buried the lede in this here blog post.)

How does shit like this happen? A certain little someone’s father starts filling the bathtub. And then that certain little someone’s father steps outside the bathroom for 2.7 seconds. And then a certain little someone closes the door, because she thinks this is hilarious . And then that certain little someone latches the door, because toddler .

You have a locked bathroom door. You have hinges that are located inside the bathroom. You have a tub that is rapidly filling with water. You have a small child in the locked bathroom, and said small child has a large noggin and no fear of the water. You have 30 seconds to decide what to do, but then you’re pretty much left with one single option: bust that door down.

Nobody drowned and the door was replaced with a near exact replica (thanks to a lot of help from my Dad and his friends). So, all’s well that end’s well. But we have certainly (and by “we,” I mean, “Kristian”) learned our lesson about watching LJ like a hawk at bath time. Even when she’s still fully clothed and waiting to get into the tub.

(Did I mention that she jumped back when the door busted in… and fell into the tub?)

(Yeah, I feel pretty good about the decision to kick the door in.)

Let’s end this post on a high note, shall we? One advantage of vacationing with your Dad and all of his friends: ample amounts of free babysitting. We drafted a teenager to take charge (you need someone who’s going to be responsible, right?), and went and had ourselves a real, honest, grownup date on our last night. I wore heels! And one of my Stitch Fix dresses ! And then I never got a good picture of my outfit. Because my husband doesn’t understand that there is only so much thigh that you can show in a photo for public consumption. And I really should have stood up for the photo. So, you get a dark, blurry, selfie-in-the-mirror. Yay!

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We took a drive over to the Cape, checked out Downtown Falmouth (still recovering from the yearly road race), said “hi” to the ocean, and had ourselves a real, live adult conversation. We had dinner at Bleu , which is apparently popular with the wealthy, country-club set. Which means we pretty much had the place to ourselves when they all cleared out at 8:46pm on the dot. We did manage to snag ourselves one of their lounge-ier tables in a cozy corner. A perfect spot from which to sip adult beverages and people-watch with abandon.

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The food was delicious, the company divine. We really need to get out more.

All together, we were down in Bourne for a week. I did have to work for three of those seven days, but I still had the evenings for fun. And then we had a few more days at home after it was all over (the rental was Thursday to Thursday this year to accommodate a couple of weddings at the house). I started the week off with the mother of all neck spasms (the doctor took one look at me and then basically threw muscle relaxants in my general direction), and ended it feeling refreshed and renewed. I had almost forgotten how important it is to decompress and unwind.

( Almost .)

I’m so grateful that my Dad and his buddies were so willing to share their vacation with us. And so understanding of us destroying their door. And really grateful that Lilian was on her best behavior, allowing us to actually relax and enjoy our vacation.

I’m already looking forward to next year!