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Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

Looking for Sea Glass

It’s the perfect beach day.   Not too hot.  Not too cool.  Just the right amount of breeze.  Chair strategically placed.  Toes in the water.  Book open.  Total relaxation.

“Mom, want to go for a walk with me?”  I close the book and move the chair back up under the umbrella.  Of course I want to go for a walk.  If a teenager asks you to go for a walk, you go.

Off we go in search of sea glass.  You have to really concentrate to find sea glass on our beach so there’s not a lot of talking.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m happy to be walking with my girl.  I’m even happier that she’s happy to be walking with me.

Some days, all we find are rocks.  You think you’ve spied a piece of sea glass but it turns out to be a light white rock or a smooth shell.  On this particular day, we do well.  10 pieces in all – clear ones, green ones and a dark brown one.  We head back to the umbrella, chatting a little bit on our way.

It occurs to me that parenting a teenager is like looking for sea glass.  There are days that are all rock.  Rolling eyes, silence, sarcasm.  But there are the sea glass days.  The smile, the laugh, the genuine interest in what you have to say.

M and I are lucky or at least lucky so far.  We find a lot of sea glass in our girl.  K and M point out cars to each other.  They share a similar taste in movies.  K and I have started going to exercise classes together.  I know!  We go to Zumba together and I don’t embarrass her.  After our first class, she actually said “you did pretty good, Mom.”  And I want extra credit because I responded with an enthusiastic thank you rather than correcting her grammar.

Of course it’s not all magic.  I was recently making homemade cookies for K to take to a sleepover.   I didn’t really have time, but the girls like them so I made the time.  K walked in and asked me what was wrong.  “Nothing.  I’m just thinking”, I replied.  My darling daughter’s reaction? “No offense, Mom, but when you look like that you’re either thinking or you’re irritated about something.  And usually?  It’s the second one.”  Yeah, that was a rock.  The first clue was the “no offense” lead in.  Always a warning to duck.sea glass

So we take it one step at a time.  I relish the times we spend working on puzzles together.  Or when she says, “Hey Mom, want to go to a movie?” And did I mention the Zumba class?

Yeah, I’ll pick up that sea glass wherever and whenever I can find it.

California Dreamin’

We’ve booked the flights and make the hotel reservations.  We’re off to California in February.  No, it’s not another trip to Napa for M and me, although that does sound delightful.  This time, the three of us will be heading to San Diego.

We’ll be staying in the same hotel from our last visit, the trip when K was born.  We’ll be doing a lot of the things we did the last time – Sea World, San Diego Zoo, the beach – and yes, we realize now those things are way more appropriate for a 14 year old than a newborn.    What can I say?  We were 3000 miles away from family and friends.  We did the best we could, and we all survived.  I consider that a success.

K isn’t sure if she wants to see the hospital, but as with most everything on this trip, it’s her call.  Honestly, I’m not sure I want to see it either.  Yes, I clearly remember walking out of that hospital with the world’s greatest gift.  Yet I can never forget the girl, not much older than my K is now, who walked out with nothing.  But, if K wants to go, we go.  This is her trip, not mine.

We almost went last year but then the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando and that took precedence over San Diego.  That decision sums up the place adoption holds in our lives now.  K determines its frequency and importance and we respond accordingly.  We’re a long way from the days when I obsessed over how to respond to people who told me K looked like me.  Should I respond immediately that K was adopted?  Should I wait til I get to know them better?  Is a simple “thank you” appropriate?

Adoption is the way K joined our family.  Although we are forever thankful for that, it does not define us.  We will visit her birthplace and we will remember those terrified thirty-somethings who had waited forever and then become parents overnight.  We will remember waking up in the hotel each morning relieved we had kept K alive for one more day.  We will remember the flight back home with a two-week old.  And we will remember how we become the awesome family that we are.

Love and Vacation

Often I tell my husband I need a vacation. I need to get away from it all, and rest my aching feet on a hot sandy beach in say, Grand Cayman, preferably at the Ritz Carlton. I fantasize about it for a night, dreaming of how relaxed I’d feel listening to the gentle sound of waves, while I snooze on the beach.  However, usually our budget, or job schedules, or reality, burst my vacation bubble, and I end up sitting in the shower for five extra minutes, pretending I’m at the spa.

Sometimes I could do with another kind of vacation too. I desire a vacation that takes me away from reality. Some days I just need a vacation, from adoption. I just need a mental break from thinking about our open adoptions, all of our extended family members, all of the logistics of visits, the complexities of communication via text and Facebook. I want an adoption free zone. I could do with a cradle to curl up in and rest.  I could use to recover my strength, which I deplete with my doubts, and worries, over the choices I make for our family.

By the time I have wrestled around with the practicality of taking an adoption vacation, a break from the most deep-rooted part of our family, I realize that’s not actually what I require. I need to share the load; I could use a witness to the joys, the chaos, and the sadness that are our adoptions. I need confirmation that our family is well, full of love, and on the right track. I crave a smile from my girls, a kiss from my husband, a text from my youngest’s birth mom, and a Facebook post from Grandparents far and near. Really, I just need a hug. A hug can be all the adoption vacation I need. Knowing that the person on the other end sees me, sees my girls, sees our family, and reflects back to me how beautiful it is, can be just as good as a beautiful sunset over the Caribbean to replenish me. However, a hug on the beach, while sipping an exotic cocktail, would work too.

For Good

 “I’ve heard it said
that people come into our lives for a reason
bringing something we must learn.
For Good from Wicked

 It’s been another great summer.

There is, of course, the food.  We love the return each year of the summer seafood extravaganza of lobsters, steamers and oysters.  It’s probably odd how proud I am of the fact that my girl loves oysters, but I am.  There is the bounty from my garden, tomatoes, basil and cucumbers, bursting from what has to be the scrappiest looking garden in MA.

We love the visits to the beach house from family and friends.  Fun in the waves, rock collecting, hanging on the porch, and more food.

And K had a blast at Circus Smirkus camp.  She calls it a place where “everyone can just be themselves.”  So glad we found that oasis for her in VT.  We also got to enjoy K’s performance in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”  Kudos to the folks at the Performing Arts Center in Framingham for pulling together such a quality performance in only three weeks!

But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be K’s and my visit to NYC to see “Wicked.”   We decided several years ago to take a trip by ourselves each summer.  The first trips were to amusement parks but after last summer’s trip to see “The Lion King”, we’ve changed our focus to an annual excursion to Broadway.  I love the alone time with her focused entirely on fun.  We take the train, have dinner, spend a night, and get some shopping in but the highlight is the show.  Some of you may recall that K and I sing “Defying Gravity”  from time to time so we were especially looking forward to this year’s performance and hearing “our song.”

And Elphaba rocked it.  Nailed it.  Killed it.  Feel free to fill in the amazing phrase of your choice.  Watching the actress raise up on her broomstick while belting out that song was truly awesome.  But it was a song near the end of the show that really got me.  I had heard “For Good” before and recognized the beautiful song.  But hearing Elphaba and Glinda sing it while on a date with my beautiful daughter gave the words special meaning.

“And we are led
to those who help us most to grow
if we let them
and we help them in return.

 Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
because I knew you”

I honestly don’t know who I’d be today without you K.  It’s not just that I’m someone’s mother, and there certainly was a time when being anyone’s mother was far from certain.  I am who I am because I’m your mother and being your mother is the greatest joy of my life.

And yes, we got the “Wicked” soundtrack.  And yes, we still sing “Defying Gravity”, but “For Good” makes a great duet too.  I try not to read too much into the fact that I have the Wicked Witch part.

 Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
changed for the better
Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good.

Down is Optional. Up is Mandatory.

I’ve just returned from a trip to the Grand Canyon with my sisters.   For part of the time, my younger sister, L, and I hiked to the bottom down a strenuous 7.5 mile trail.  After two nights in the Phantom Ranch bunk house, we hiked back up a 10 mile trail.  Our companions on the hike were two experienced guides and three other hikers.  The guides were incredible — knowledgeable, funny, and all-around great guys, exactly what you’d hope for in this situation.  The surprises were our other travelers – an 82 year old man, his 70-something wife, and their 64 year old friend.

If I had seen these three at the rim of the Canyon, I’d never have looked twice.  I would have assumed they were with some bus tour, checking out the Canyon from the top while waiting to eat the Early Bird Special.  Instead, I had the pleasure of their company for three days and had the opportunity to learn their stories.  I learned the 64 year old has been everywhere.  Every time an opportunity comes along, she seizes it with both hands.  Her 70-something friend is an avid tennis player.  The 82 year old enjoys mountain biking and his IT job.  Oh, and I should mention that last year he hiked to the bottom and back in the same day!

We began our hike out at 4:30 am in the pitch dark.  By 8:30, the thermometer read 115 degrees.  For much of the trek, the 82 year old was in the lead.  For the last three miles, he walked with a broken shoe – the glue holding the sole to the rest of the shoe failed in the heat.  I assure you the hike was tough enough with intact boots, I can’t imagine doing that last stretch in a broken one.  But our elderly friend didn’t utter a single word of complaint and kept moving forward.  When we reached the rim at 2:15, we all hugged each other tight, overjoyed at our accomplishment and our pride in each other.

L and I said our goodbyes to the group.  The man told us we were “kick a** hikers and good girls.” I told him he was an inspiration.

We walked away and I began to contemplate how powerful an experience this trip had been.  I am proud of rising to the physical challenge of it all but also learned so much else in those three days.  As K begins high school in the fall, I’m hoping I can impart at least some of this knowledge to her.

Some things can be summed up by the classics – “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is one.  “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” (especially in 115 degrees!) is another.

But there were new lessons:

“Down is optional.  Up is mandatory” – from a sign about a half mile down the Bright Angel trail warning would-be hikers of the challenges that lie ahead.   K is reaching the age where I can’t fix her mistakes for her.  She needs to learn that if she goes down a path she’s got to be able to handle the consequences.

“Reclaimed waste water, do not drink” – from a sign over a toilet at the top of Bright Angel trail.   You’d think a sign like this one wouldn’t be necessary but our guides assured us if there was a warning about something, it was because people had actually done it.  I’d like K to realize that people, smart people, can do really stupid things so it’s important to stop and think before following along.

“Hiking the Canyon is like eating an elephant.  You take it one bite at a time” – said by one of our guides as we trudged to the top.  I hope that K also learns the pride of taking on a challenge so big that you can only accomplish it by taking one bite at a time.

“The typical profile of someone bitten by a rattlesnake here at Grand Canyon is male 18 to 25 and there’s usually alcohol involved” said by a Park Ranger.  I think that one speaks for itself, K.

Lastly, I want her to know that even though she may think her mom can be embarrassing and boring, there’s a 82 year old superstar out in Arizona who knows that her mom is a kick a** hiker and a good girl.  And her mom is proud to be both.

Vacationing with Kids: Is it really a vacation?

(Posted on behalf of Twin Mom Plus One)

As I sit here in the passenger  seat on our way to the airport, my mind is racing and adrenaline pumping.  I sit thinking of the past two weeks of trip preparation, as well as our upcoming vacation cross country.

Prep work:  coordinating the trying on the twins’ summer clothes in between episodes of Phineas and Ferb, realizing that JJ wore slims while Bruiser is built like a tank…..guess hand-me down concept didn’t fare very well, hand-me downs for Princess was more successful however once she was all packed she decided to pull out an outfit that was already in the suitcase (bottom of the suitcase), JJ was a breeze…gave him a list and he packed himself albeit 2 of the 4 Shirts were permantly stained and 1 of the 3 shorts were too small, the dog was easy to get ready for his vacation at nana and papa’s house- as long as we don’t think about the diarrhea that he came down with a few days ago.  Ok…almost at the airport….considering day of traveling, TSA checkpoints, rental car lines etc.  Need a vacation from my vacation and haven’t even stepped into the airport.  OY!

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