adventures

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The Truth about Traveling with A Toddler to NYC

Last week Giovanna and I tagged along on James’ business trip to New York City. It can be lonely to have a husband and daddy who travels for work so we might as well get something good out of it. Like a sweet hotel room right in the middle of Greenwich Village.

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If you follow me on Instagram you already know about this trip. But there’s so much hidden from the Instagram feed.

Giovanna is a trooper, a born traveler like James and I. When I woke her at 5 am to head to the airport she exclaimed “yay!!!” before she even sat up. We were out the door in less than five minutes. Never ever would she consider sleeping on the plane. Even as a baby she avoided sleeping on the plane at all costs. (And I learned to never again take a red-eye with her.)

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So she started out the trip tired. My somewhat idyllic Instagram feed did not show my girl’s jet lag nor the temper tantrums nor the resistance as I trained her to put those long little legs to use. Instagram did not reveal the tears I blinked away on the sidewalk as I pushed the stroller for (what felt like) hours to get her to nap because it was absolutely my only hope at that point, regardless of my aching lower back. Instagram did not show my feet, swollen to unrecognizable proportions after too many miles walking in the wrong boots.

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I struggled on this trip. I don’t want to write this, but it’s true.

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Two years ago I took my then one year-old to NYC. We had our moments, like at the Museum of Natural History when I was determined to get her to sleep in the stroller (sound familiar?) so I could enjoy the exhibits in peace. She wouldn’t calm down unless she could hold my hand and so I succumbed, bent over our trusty orange BOB, pushing the stroller while clutching her little hand. We don’t have two hands for nothing.

Regardless. That trip was far easier. I wore her on my back and my front and nursed her to sleep when she was tired. We went to multiple museums and explored the city with fervor.

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Sure, I am now 6 months pregnant which could not have helped my patience. But the second trimester treats me well. I have energy and ambition to burn. Mostly, our challenges arose from the simple and unavoidable fact that my baby is no longer a baby.

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Excuse me while I catch my breath.

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She’s a little girl. With expectations and determination and many quirks. This trip gave me many opportunities to observe the differences between a well-rested Giovanna and the tired version.

The well-rested Gigi can window shop and try on a beautiful pearl and “diamond” tiara and not blink when I ask her to give it back to the clerk. A tired Gigi throws a tantrum in the dressing room when I ask her to change back into her own clothes.

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A well-rested Gigi takes the bribe of a lollipop when it’s offered and savors it as we walk, walk, walk through the city. A tired Gigi takes the lollipop and a few licks later, throws it on the ground in frustration.

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No matter how many times she tested me I took the ultimate responsibility for her behavior. I brought all of this on myself. I took her to New York City when I knew James would have to spend most of the time working. I submitted to early morning flights while knowing exactly the sleep challenges we face with this girl. (These days naps only happen when she falls asleep in the stroller or the car or when she’s sick. Exhaustion seems to be irrelevant.)

And yet none of this stopped me. I crave adventure too much. I thrive on the excitement of travel, the promise of new experiences. Nothing inspires me more than foreign surroundings. Visits with good friends help, too.

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By the time the weekend arrived and I had my man around to help, the load lightened considerably. All was once again right in the world. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for him?

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By the time we left she learned to enjoy walking around the city. She learned that she loves American Girl dolls and Wikistix and of course, New York. That makes three of us.

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Stay tuned for trip highlights and pictures from my DSLR camera.

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Seattle Local Mom Blog

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Today I am the featured blogger on the Seattle Local Mom Blog. I have mined my mind for my favorite local activities, which change by the season, and I’m also sharing a bit about my family and how I got started blogging.

If you’re local be sure to peruse the site. It’s an unparalleled resource for mothers in the greater Seattle area.

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Kissing Summer Good-Bye

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I’ve missed sharing photos from a few trips recently and I hope to get around to posting those at some belated point. But for now, I prefer to pretend I’m all caught up and skip right to the simple beauty that was this Labor Day weekend.

We stayed with my parents on my dad’s sleek and superfast sailboat. We had lovely weather, we perused artsy small towns in Puget Sound, and we kissed summer goodbye.

Though every year is different, I am generally not one to mourn the changing of the seasons. The fall beckons to me with fresh starts and changing leaves and pumpkin patches. I love the crisp of an apple and the fun of Halloween, my favorite holiday.

While I will miss the warmth like an old friend, and the travel, the adventures, the visits with family and the summer produce, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I made the most out of the summer. And that is enough.

I am ready for what comes next.

Open Sesame

Montlake Bridge, Seattle

What if everything hard in life could be cracked by asking and waiting. Every challenge, every journey, every dream.

Let me in.

Let me out.

There’s something on the other side for me. Something waiting. I have plans.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we ventured beyond the rim of Lake Washington into Puget Sound upon my father’s sailboat, Phoenix. We had to cross under approximately seven bridges and go through the locks, which is like an elevator for boats, taking them out of the fresh water lake and dumping them into the salty sea.

But we can’t glide under the bridges like most of the marine vessels that pass through the Lake Washington Ship Canal because the mast on Phoenix would snap in half. De-masting a sailboat is like castrating a man or circumcising a woman. You just don’t do it.

In order to open all of those bridges, we needed to sound the horn. But the horn had gone missing somewhere in the folds of the Phoenix. We sat back and waited at the first bridge in the Montlake Cut, deciphering the messages painted onto the bulkheads lining the channel. Statements of team spirit and Husky pride. This is the edge of the University of Washington campus, where I went to college. Where I learned more about who I didn’t want to be than who I did want to be.

It struck me that so much of life is spent waiting. When we decide we want something, it doesn’t generally come to us right away. We have to work for it. We have to save the money, find the one, get the degree, land the dream job, score the contract, gestate the baby. Perhaps only love and the absence of love can transpire immediately.

As we waited for the bridge, I told Emile and Giovanna to call out “open sesame!” Which they did repeatedly. A moment later, the coastguard arrived with a horn. After that, the subsequent bridges expected us and we didn’t have to wait again.

I could see a parallel between these bridges and real life: you have to wait and work for what you want, but once you crack the code, all you need is to use this momentum to keep moving forward. Like when you have a baby. You wait 9 months to meet that baby, and when he comes out screaming, you’ve crossed the first bridge. The first of many. In show business, this is called the big break or the break-out role. But you’re not going to win that Oscar unless you keep working hard. This can even be said of buying a house. Once you’ve achieved the stability to purchase real estate, barring a financial crisis or depression or recession, you’ll always be able to own your home. If you decide to move or upgrade, the equity in your old house will help you buy another.

I know all of you have dreams. Some buried, some conspicuous. Some shallow, some deep. Some near, some far. If we had turned our boat around that day and given up, we’d have missed out on a beautiful holiday weekend.

So never give up. Tell those bridges to open. Ask and wait and ask and wait. Until they let you through.

Rainy Day Walk

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If we waited for the rain to slow, we’d miss out on a lot. And if we waited for the sun to shine, we’d miss out on even more. Staying inside only feeds the grudge against the flatness of the gray sky. I’ve found there’s no better prescription for the rainy day blues than to get out, and get wet.

Now that Giovanna is three, with crazy long legs (95th percentile for height!) and an adventurous spirit, we leave the stroller at home more and more. I let her choose our destination, or sometimes, we walk without one. We come upon hidden staircases (they’re everywhere in Seattle, just check out this blog), unwinding plants and fallen blooms. She fills my pockets with dandelions and we make wishes on dandelion ghosts. She gathers rocks and petals and lusts after tulips, which she calls rainbow flowers.

I have a deep love of taking mindful walks while observing nature, and now I have the privilege of cultivating this same love in my daughter. The simplest pleasures continue to be the most profound.

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~Khalil Gibran

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Last month, Giovanna had her first modeling job. Not that she’s a model or that I want her to be a model. This just kind of happened. But when I had to wake her from a nap to get to the shoot on time, I was upset. Sleep is like gold around here.

Then, she fell back to sleep in her carseat, which means she was more tired then usual. I had to wake her up again. By then, I was over it.

But she had fun so much fun that she tried to run back in the building after we’d left.

And then we got these photos. Watch the progression.

As you may have guessed, like so many things that cause stress, it was worth it.

i want those shoes

This is one of my top five favorite pictures of my family. The day was August 6, 2011. We were on Orcas Island at one of my best friend’s wedding, watching two people tie their lives together. Two people loving one another for all of the right reasons. Weddings like that one, and the one I attended last night in Portland, remind me why our society is so enchanted by the possibility of true love.

So what if Giovanna had her fingers in her mouth and Emile’s smile was contrived. At least she was looking at the camera and at least he was smiling. Meanwhile, James and I were glowing with love for one another and the happy little family we’ve created together. Perfectly imperfect.

Gigi likes this picture, too. Every time she looks at it, she points at those bright pink Old Navy sandals strapped to her feet and say, “I want those shoes, Mama. Where are they?”