Thursday moments: the carnival addition

Yesterday we snuck off to a little carnival in the next town over. We had driven by it for two days and the boys looked longingly at the lights and spinning metal. It was a really good choice to go! They loved it. While most rides were geared toward the older, more adventurous, and less prone to nauseous rider, there were 6 the little boys could do. They bounced and twirled along happily, although the little roller coaster gave them a bit of a scare. But their favorite ride of all was zooming down the super slider on a burlap sack. They both surprised me so much with what they were willing to try. They had both had their eye on that slide and I hesitated thinking there was no way they would climb the tall ladder let alone go down the slide itself. They proved to me that as a parent my job may be to keep them safe but it is also important to get out of their way so they can step out of their comfort zones all on their own! The night ended in ice cream and those are the best nights.

The summer solstice was 2 days ago

Tracing my finger lightly around Henry’s chin, cheeks, and forehead and down his nose and across his lips, he giggles and I remember doing this with my Nanny. It is a silly little game and, at the time, I thought it was the most luxurious thing to get your face tickled endlessly. And it is. I used to think, how did my Nanny have the stamina to tickle my face for what seemed like hours while I  laid in her lap and laughed and relaxed. Then sitting there with Henry and Owen, it dawned on me. Here I was with her endless stamina to tickle their little faces because I love them so darn much and they were clearly enjoying the little “spa” treatment and because I was SO DARN tired from the day, days, and weeks of the past month that I would have tickled those peanut faces for the whole day if it meant I too could rest a little.

Exactly 30 days ago, we packed up the family and went to LA to join in my father’s retirement flight from Unite Airlines. After working for 35 years in aviation, it was time to hang up his wings. The FAA regulates that at 65 years old, captains and co-pilots must step down from the flight deck and this legislation pained my father. A truly passionate and gifted captain, he was not exactly ready spiritually to comply. We spent a few days in SoCal with family celebrating this momentous event. As a chief pilot said to my father, “The sign of a great career in this industry is an uneventful one, thank you for for having a great career.” While there together as a family, we tackled jet lag, a desire to really go all out and all in for this special lifetime event, and a spectrum of emotions as we watched our dad come in to LAX for the last time at the helm and prepare for his return to his base in EWR. The morning of, our dad saw a number of friends in the terminal who came to shake his hand and clap him on the back. He boarded the plane and took control of the ship for 5 hours. The landing greased into New York and he received a round of applause not only from the passengers who each shook his hand but also when he came up out of the jetway. More family came to celebrate and it was a really good time.  It was such a beautiful and incredibly proud moment for him and for us. One day, and not in the proverbial way, my dad and I will have to sit down and write his stories of flight down. I imagine something titled “Confessions from the Flight Deck,” in which we curate his hilarious tales from 35,000 feet because my dad was not only the epitome of professionalism in flight but also a character and a truly a humorous raconteur!

Once we got back to Boston, it was time to close out the school year. The last week and a half of school is obviously incredibly exciting because summer vacation is so close BUT standing in between a teacher and a much needed break is a mountain of grading, a pile of finals, a heap of comments to write, and way too many meetings to sit through. The workload always feels insurmountable and the pressure of the final due dates makes me grow “Bertha.” Who is Bertha? Well she is more of a what. Bertha is my shoulder knot. David has often commented after an encounter with Bertha that I have a lump of cement in my shoulder blade. Every end of the school year, I sit at my desk with clamped shoulders while grading furiously. This position and those stress levels form Bertha who causes me literal sleepless nights and takes away my ability to turn my head from side to side. As the graduates of the class of 2018 threw their caps off, some tears fell down my cheeks, and I pushed “submit” on all the grades and finals, only then can Bertha slowly dissipate.  Goodbye Bertha, goodbye this school year, and hello to the next 11 weeks!

And then summer started!

10 days into summer and this feels like such a good one. Obviously summer vacation is always a good thing and time off with family is truly a gift that this profession gives in exchange for the high stakes and demands of the academic year. Jessie, Avery, and Smith arrived minutes after my final faculty meeting and stayed with us for 5 days. My underlining goal of their visit: Convince them that one day they should move to Boston because the city rocks, the people rock, and because we love them so much and just wish we had more family closer. Of course, leaving beautiful SoCal (or Florida for David’s side of the family) makes moving north a bit of a hard sell. Neither of our families’ current locations have snow or what I like to call wintry wonderlands, but Boston does have us and you can’t find that anywhere else, right? In wanting to show them the best of Boston we bit off a lot: Fenway Park, duck boats, Boston visits, Strawberry picking, late nights, 6 bottles of wine, lots of eating, even more snacking, and even more laughing making it hard to  say good-bye to them. It almost felt like we just live together now.

After teary goodbyes, the boys and I headed into our first 4 days of “Mom is at home season!” This year a bucket list of fun and breezy summer activities will guide our time. And we already ticked off two items: a trip to the Roger Williams zoo and a morning at the lake. The beauty of this year’s summer bucket list is that it is short. Potentially only 10 line items but most of them will definitely be repeated especially if they involve the oceanside. So stay posted because now that I have returned to this page, I am planning on documenting more effectively this summer’s shenanigans and my next pottery class starts in two weeks so there will be more updates from the “artist’s” studio as well as some really cool new pieces I am trimming and glazing right now.

But back to face tracing. Sometimes when you do a lot in a short amount of time or when you are transitioning from the fast-paced, routine-based school year into summer you need a little buffer time to slow down, kick your feet up, and trace your babies’ faces. Maybe if I do this I can commit to memory their lines and curves more deeply and slow down this season.

Ni Hao

This time next week the plane door will close and I, along with 18 students and 2 chaperones, will push from a gate, taxi to a run-way, and take-off toward China. The adventure and cultural exchange will take us to Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai for 12 days! From walking the Great Wall, to touring the forbidden city, to visiting a panda sanctuary, the itinerary is the stuff of dreams. Each day there are promises of delicious cuisine and beautiful sights. It is very exciting and happening very soon.

I have been asked dozens of times how I feel about the trip ahead: Are you worried about leaving David and the boys? Are you nervous about traveling so far? What will you do on the long flight?

Yes. Yes. And I have no idea.

David is a fantastic dad so I have no worries that he and the boys will be fine. I do think though that David will get a more focused look into what I do on the weeknights and weekends to keep our house clean and functional. As a type A personality, I tidy every night, meal plan, do laundry, and grocery shop. Obviously David is capable of taking these over but I worry about coming home to a stack of pizza boxes and disarray. But I don’t really believe that that will happen. David will figure out his rhythm and balance over those 12 days and the boys will have so much fun bonding with their dad!

I am nervous about feeling “disconnected” from the family. Having a twelve hour time change means narrow windows of opportunities to check-in and the firewall of China may make updating family and sharing photos a little difficult. The hardest part will probably be the evening when I head to a sole hotel room and finally take a “break” from the immersive experience and then wish that my boy squad could be with me sharing in these adventures.

I have never been on a plane for longer than 7 hours and this might be the Achilles heel of my travel! What do you do for a flight that long? Obviously there will be movies and books to read. I am thinking of taking a few yoga breaks in the aisle to reduce my chances of blood clots! I will pack snacks of course and maybe a magazine or two from the airport newsstand. And then maybe a glass of wine to help me sleep? I am most afraid about sleeping. I am a terrible airplane sleeper and once we land it is go go go time!! I hope that my body/mind will get to an exhausted point where I sleep enough to make it through our first day of activities. Everything is crossed. If you have tips or tricks for me, please share. I am open to all ideas!

T-minus 7 days to China!

That one time we spring breaked….

This morning, I rolled over in bed and pretended to still be asleep so I could squeeze in a little social media time before having to confront the day ahead. It was only 6AM and David had already gone downstairs with the boys. It was only going to be a quick 5 minute review of the latest friend posts. Then I saw my friend Becca’s latest blog post about that time she nearly died while we vacationed in Daytona Beach for Spring Break. It made me laugh out loud reading through the deadly story she shared only because that trip was doomed from the start! We were a couple of still too good for our own good Sophomores at BC when we decided to try our first big Spring Break getaway to none other than Daytona Beach. Now you might be thinking, this is the destination of choice for co-eds. Except BC’s break was at least 3 weeks before springtime temps so we headed to Daytona in February. While most coeds would immediately hit up some hostel near the water where college kids were guaranteed to find underage drinking, boys in high supply, and parties all hours of the day, we settled down at my grandmother’s boyfriend’s condo about 15 miles north of Daytona in Ormond Beach. Aside from our group of 8 girls, the next youngest resident at the Surfside North Condo must have been a snow bird from Canada spending retirement down south. It was a quiet, slow, and very low-key spring break. We baked cupcakes, watched TV, read books on the sand, and did homework! Not your typical Spring Break vacation but we were also pretty naive and I think we still are and I like that.

The wildest thing we did was we hung out with a couple of Embry-Riddle boys. My high school boyfriend, Vinny, was attending Embry-Riddle, and Becca fell for one of his friends, and we all went out a few nights to hang out with the boys our age and dance at a club. Becca was super sick & still trying to get some time with her boyfriend, Kellyanne was trying to take care of Becca and be her wingman, Kaelin wasn’t interested in the boy nonsense and frosted our cupcakes with neon green frotsting, Laura was ready to drag Kaelin out to the club with us come hell or high water, and I was interested in getting some solo time with Vinny. It was all a bit silly and dramatic and the condo was decorated like an old man bachelor lived there because oh yea one did for at least 6 months a year! Vinny and his friends entertained us with fashion shows of Bermuda shirts and golf pants from Mr. Mueller’s wardrobe which he had left behind in the closets.

Then one night, Becca went to the hospital and I was held up at gun point. I was coming home from dinner with Vinny. We pulled into the parking garage and just when Vinny turned off the car, he turned about and shouted “Duck.” Now, in a crisis, some people are born with the natural ability to follow orders or the ability to take the lead. In this moment, I heard “Duck” and immediately whipped around and saw a car had pulled up behind us, and a man was leaning out of his window with a gun beckoning us out. My immediate thought was, “This is how I die,” time to freeze up like a goat. Somehow Vinny made a move towards his car door and as he opened the door to follow the orders of the assassin, the car alarm went off and the driver hit the gas and sped away. Shaken and confused and sick to my stomach, I dialed the police and gave a rambling description of what happened and where we were. What felt like a lifetime later, the police arrived and escorted us into their car to identify the suspect who had been pulled over down the road for speeding. It felt like a daze and we saw the person again this time from behind the safety of the police car’s spotlight. He was apprehended and the police drove us back to the condo. We were given the card for the sergeant and told we would be hearing from a lawyer and going to court and coming down for depositions and going to trial, and my mind was racing. We walked into the condo to see our friends and I immediately burst into tears.

It has been over ten years since this happened, ten years since we botched our Spring Break which had some of us hospitalized and others of us mugged, but after the PTSD settled down for me, the silver lining to this wild tale (which I have never written down) is that I have never had jury duty and might never since my status is “victim” and so maybe something random did come out of that odd and funny friend vacation. It’s funny how despite all of our good intentions to have a mild Spring Break we still ended up with a hospital visit and crime checked off for our accomplishments. Interestingly, neither Becca nor I stayed with the boys who were present during those daunting times. Why did I add that? I am not sure, but I guess I always thought after experiencing something like that, something like an armed attack we would be linked forever, but not so much.

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the best summer

So….this may just be the best summer ever!

Why? But, what about last summer when you had a baby!?!

Yes, yes last summer was AMAZING! I got to meet my tiny human and it was beyond incredible. BUT I spent a lot of that summer inside recovering physically and being an emotional wreck because I had a TINY HUMAN!?!? And I was just so clueless on how to feed him, comfort him, and everything else. So last summer was tremendous but it was also very very intense.

This summer though has been truly the very best. Henry has SO much personality. I LOVE this kid (you may have noticed based on my Facebook and Instagram accounts which are entirely consumed by the little dude). He is just so darn playful and funny. We have little “inside jokes” now too. When we are upstairs in his room, he will flash me that mischievous smile and dart around the glider, then he pops his head out from behind and wants to play hide and seek. When I “find” him (which is so hard, where ever could he be?), he laughs and laughs. My little boy is a little fish and can hardly stay out of the water. From the lake to the baby pool, he wants nothing more than to dunk his head, splash, and stay in there ALL DAY long. He speed walks through the house and even likes to sit on the potty and pretend his is using it. But mostly he just wants to laugh and flush the toilet or pull all the toilet paper off the roll. I remember thinking before I had a child that I would never be able to tolerate messes and play that “destroyed” my things. And, what is hilarious is that I love watching Henry explore so if that means pulling out an entire box of kleenex because it is just magic. I will watch him laugh his way through the box. They all fit back in anyway, right?

When I went back to school after maternity leave (summer vacation), I was a mix of emotions. I was scared to leave my son primarily and angry that I had to return after 8 weeks and overwhelmed by the daunting school year ahead. I felt alone, isolated, and sad mostly. But, looking at this approaching school year, I am sadder but in a different way. This summer has been so great exploring New England with my little boy and having so much mommy-son time that it is going to be very hard to say good-bye to our routine. The mornings in the park and afternoons playing and evenings picking up David from the train and being completely carefree together before bed have been just awesome. I guess having the best summer makes the end of summer quite bittersweet. These August days will have to be savored then. Henry is going to get lots of kisses, hugs, and trips out and about because I am just not ready yet to say good bye to this.

california adventures

2,975 miles separate my front door from my brother’s. I wish it were more like 2.9 miles, but unfortunately this is not the case. With each of us on our own coast, we are left then to savor our visits with one another.  Henry and I were so lucky to have the opportunity to spend an ENTIRE week out in SoCal with my brother, sister-in-law, and the littles. it was an AMAZING visit. While I was super intimidated flying solo with Henry, it was surprisingly not as horrible as I imagined. We left our home in Boston early with a bag full of baby goodies and spent six hours together in tight quarters. Once we landed and saw our family it was completely worth it. Henry had such a fantastic time visiting with his family and especially loved his time with his little cousins who were so warm, playful, and inclusive of him.

We ate well, including a visit to the legendary In and Out burger, and spent time just being together at parks, water parks, long walks, short jogs, fun outings, and lots and lots of coffee cups shared. The highlight of the trip for me was when they surprised us with a first birthday party for Henry! It was so amazingly sweet and thoughtful and it just warmed my heart and soul. I could barely keep it together as they told me from cake to guests to balloons, they would be throwing the little dude a birthday blow-out bash. This trip will be very difficult to top but I have a feeling that visiting with them again will be…AMAZING.  I will miss them hard until then.

call me crazy?

Me + Henry = Flight to California Saturday

Uh oh!  I am about to undertake a solo cross-country flight with my 11 month old. Am I crazy? Yes and No.

No: This will be the fourth flight in Henry’s young life-span. We have already tackled a flight to Florida, Amsterdam, and California. We know the routine: check-in, boarding, flight, disembarking, baggage claim. We can rinse and repeat this routine like professionals! My packing lists help alleviate the stress of getting organized, and there is always plenty of toys and food to pull out of my magic bag. I have some new toys stowed away for the flight there and back and an arsenal of raspberries to keep my berry monster content.

Yes: Henry is WAY more active these days than when we took those earlier flights. I am not sure he will be content to sit and play the entire 6.5 hours in my lap. And, I won’t have my partner with me to troubleshoot the shrieks. David is AMAZING in general and specifically on flights. I am a nervous flyer, so David rocked Henry to sleep in the back by the flight attendants and David changed his diaper during turbulence, and David had extra hands to grab toys, food, binkies, and anything else that the little man might need. And, when I reached my capacity for wrestling Henry about David took over. I am most nervous about not having my partner with me. Six and half hours is a long time. You could watch 3 feature length movies or drive from Boston to Maryland! Perhaps, I will need to buy myself and everyone around me a glass of wine, or perhaps, Henry will see that it is just me and just him and we will have the most delightful flight cuddling and kissing and reading books and laughing.

Fingers crossed.