Cape Cod 2009: Sunday and Monday

After discovering this place, I probably didn’t really need to go anywhere else the rest of the vacation.

Trampoline Center:

Video to be posted soon.

After Bun woke from her nap, we went down to Nauset Light:

And two sisters at the Three Sisters:

Do not ask me why Bun couldn’t smile as nicely as Monkey.

And then, apparently, on Monday, I lost control of the camera:

Update from Vacation

We made it. As I texted my father on Sunday: “We all survived. Now we have 7 days to recover before we do it all over again. Backwards.”

I have some super pictures that I am getting uploaded, and even more super video. And it’s only Tuesday!

DearDR seems psyched about his symposium (get it?). The best part: It’s over by 12:30, so we can actually spend the bulk of the day as a family.

We love our cute little cottage. It has a couple of strikes against it, but comfort is not one of them. Bathing the children in the stand-up shower, however… yeah, not so fun.

Monkey has been a delight; Bun has been challenging — but fun. And funny.

I miss writing every day. I miss my blog/Twitter/plurk peeps. It’s weird to not be plugged in, or at a computer for 8 to 10 hours of every day.

That said, I’ll take my kids’ amazement at every thing we are doing. The pay off is unbelievable.


In case anyone thinks the story of Bun’s illness is greatly exaggerated, I offer you:

I can say she is feeling much better today (that’s from yesterday), and we will be hitting the road in a few hours.

Wish us luck.

Random Thoughts: The Anxious Tourist

Something I neglected to mention yesterday is that I am an anxious traveler. I sound all confident & shit in yesterday’s post, but I am, rather, hyper organized to the point of panic attacks. I should get a prescription for Xanax just for traveling purposes.

And the length of the trip doesn’t matter. Even running to Erie for the weekend can cause palpitations. (It probably contributed to this fun.) It’s definitely one of my least attractive traits. Just ask DearDR.


In case you were wondering, yes, we are going to (attempt to) drive all night. DearDR says he’s up for it, and I believe him. And I trust him.

And, you know, they have these things called hotels if we decide we have to stop. It’ll be cool. What may suck? I don’t sleep so well in cars (also have a strong dislike of driving — driving, not riding — at night). Saturday is going to find DearDR and me very tired with (we hope) two children who have slept all night in the car. Hmm. Challenging.


Since we are staying someplace with a kitchen, I am planning on cooking the majority of our dinners. Aside from mac’n’cheese for the kids (at least once!), I am not sure what I want to throw together. I figure I’ll make a point of getting DearDR plenty of fresh seafood (duh). But I don’t know what to plan for the week. You would think I would have some ideas, but… coming up short.

The manager at the place we are staying mentioned a grocery store with “lots of organic”. Maybe I’ll just wait to see what’s available, and go from there.


It’s Thursday. Both kids still fever-free (knocks very hard on wood). I had a scare yesterday morning when Bun woke up crying at 6 a.m. But her temp was normal. When I asked if she had a bad dream, she said yes. And she fell right back to sleep in bed with me.

Some days, there is nothing sweeter than a few morning minutes next to a sleeping toddler.

I called my insurance company just in case the girls get sick on our “change of scene”. We’re covered in case of emergency, of course. Turns out, even if one of the girls just has a fever, finding a doctor shouldn’t be too difficult. I feel good about that, and I’m glad I called. And their customer service person was awesome. So that’s taken care of.

Edited to add: I wrote this last night. Bun woke up with a fever this morning. CRAP! I hope the doctor fits us in. I’m ready to argue my case. Bloody hell.

I guess it’s better it happened today, rather than Saturday morning. But it’s still a pain!


I haven’t exactly decided what to do with this here ‘blog while I’m away. My original thought was to just post a daily picture of the trip. According to the manager, though, the cottage we are in has spotty wi-fi. She mentioned there were plenty of hot spots around town, though.

I could schedule some things ahead of time, but they would probably have to be re-posts. I don’t have a week’s worth of material stored up.

I may just say, “See ya until next week.” That would blow Blog365 out of the window. C’est la vie.

The last thing I need is more anxiety.

What do you think I should do?

What I Am: Reading This Week

Fodor’s Guide to Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

You may or may not know this about me, but I’m a planner. When I travel, I like knowing where I am going, what there is to do, where I am living when I go there, and what I am eating. And when.

When I was 21 years old, I traveled to Paris with three of my college girlfriends. I went out and bought two guidebooks (Frommer’s and Let’s Go! if memory serves), read all about what to do in Paris and how, where to stay, etc., etc. I figured the other women I was traveling with were doing similar research.

I was wrong.

When we got there, two of the women I was with decided we were staying in a WAY expensive hotel in the 15th arrondissement. This would be like traveling to New York and staying in Philadelphia — no, someplace rustic. Like trying to see New York City from Connecticut.

After one night there — one night, in Paris, with nothing to do (I believe we stumbled onto a billiards room, so at least we got a drink. And billiards? Not the same as pool) — I said, “Look, I’m moving to the Latin Quarter, the 5th arrondissement. It’s on the Seine. The Pantheon is there. You’ve heard of these things, yes? Coming with?” They came with. We had to split up into two groups of two and stay in different — and much, much cheaper hotels — but we were in the real Paris.

We had a blast. We walked everywhere, including to Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees, and the Eiffel Tower. I had a mere smattering of high school French under my belt, but that hardly mattered. Four cute American girls in Paris? Language was not an issue, I assure you.

These girls had no idea how to travel. I’m not sure why I did, but I did.

So when DearDR decided he was going to register for and attend a week-long symposium in Cape Cod, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity for a family “vacation”. (I’ll explain the quotes in a mo’.) In the seven-plus years we have been married (excepting our honeymoon) we have never gone on a vacation alone; we’ve always been with his family or my family — which is not a bad thing (built-in baby sitting!).

I had been to Cape Cod as a child with my family, and I remember really enjoying it. I didn’t go when I was as young as my children are now, however, so I knew I had to find appropriate activities for the preschool set. The Internet is a fantastic resource, of course, and ClumberKim sent me many good links. Since I don’t have an iPhone, and I don’t want to walk around with a laptop, I also picked up the Fodor’s guide.

As I suspected, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to keep us busy while my husband is at the symposium. There’s a ZooQuarium (which Fodor’s refers to as “hokey”, but I’m going to guess that my children don’t know the difference between hokey and entertaining — yet), museums and nature centers galore, and even a Trampoline Center. I don’t know if we’ll go to Provincetown or Martha’s Vineyard; my kids may be a little too young to appreciate what those locales have to offer.

We are staying in a cottage not far from the hotel where the symposium is being held. It’s fully equipped with a kitchenette (with a coffee maker, I checked) and a TV; it’s two-bedroom, and has a deck off the kitchen, so there will be plenty of kid-free evening time for my husband and me. (Yay!)

All-in-all, I am pretty excited to be going. I’m not calling it a vacation; I’m referring to it as a “change of scene”. When you travel with young kids, it’s not necessarily a relaxing experience. But I’m okay with that (or so I think; ask me how I’m doing next Monday).

The Fodor’s guide makes me feel confident and prepared. It’s got maps, information, directions, and tips. It highlights the highlights, offers dining options for every budget, and points out family-friendly things-to-do. It will fit in my backpack/diaper bag.

All I need to do is pack a suitcase, some toys for the kids, and car-friendly snacks. We’re hitting the road Friday around 9 p.m. We’ll see how it goes.

Bad Habits

Monkey has developed some bad habits, at a couple different levels.

First off, there is the chewing habit. She constantly has her fingers in her mouth, biting her nails. She chews on her hair, which I find extremely disgusting. She even bites the edges of blankets or her clothes.

Often when I tell her to stop, she whines, “I’m hungry.” After I ask her to use her normal voice (i.e. not whine, an all-too-common habit for her age set), I tell her if she is hungry, then she can have something to eat. I am very loosey goosey when it comes to snack and meal times. Because I have so many healthy snacks around, and because my kids love things like yogurt and fruit and string cheese, if they are hungry, I let them have a snack. I’m not a “clean your plate” type of parent, although they have to have a little bit of dinner. If they get enough variety throughout the day, I’m cool.

I was a thumb-sucker as a kid, so I know the comfort that comes from an oral habit like that. But I was never a nail-biter, and I’m not sure how to reinforce breaking that habit. When I see her chewing on her hair, I tell her I’m going to have Mr. M (our stylist and emergency babysitter) cut it short.

I am seriously thinking of doing that. I have to talk to DearDR about it — I wear my hair short, and he always said if we had girls, he wanted them to have long hair. I think that’s fine until they start deciding on styles for themselves. I cut all my hair off in 8th grade. But the hair-chewing thing is so disgusting, and really snarls up Monkey’s hair, making night-time brushing a nightmare on the nights I don’t bathe her.

Besides, she would look super cute with a chin-length bob.

I don’t know what to do about her chewing on her clothes or blankets. I mean, she stuffs her sheets in her mouth while I’m reading to them; she gnaws on the ends of her long sleeves. Drives me bonkers! I’m not sure how to get her to stop that, either. Something like a time out seems too harsh a discipline.

Plus, she would be in time out all the time.

The more troubling bad habit — and it may not be a bad habit per se, maybe it’s just a phase that we have to survive: the instantaneous bursting into tears and crying out of, “You’re so mean to me!” whenever she is told no or instructed to do something she doesn’t want to do (clean up her toys, go upstairs for bath time, eat some of her dinner before she gets a treat — you name it). Her voice goes up a gajillion octaves to reach the perfect pitch for getting on my last nerve. You’d think I was threatening her by telling her she had to bed down with the daddy longlegs under the porch. I just want her to pick up her toys.

She’s just become so contradictory about every little thing. She’s only 4 years old! Neither one of us is going to survive until she becomes a teen at the rate we’re going.

Last night, she was singing happily along with the lullabies. Bun requested a third lullaby after I gave hugs and kisses. I told her Monkey would sing to her.

“I’m not singing,” Monkey pouted.
“Okay, Bun, I guess you’re going to have to sing to yourself,” I said.
Bun enthusiastically started singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.
“No singing!” cried Monkey. “It’s not time to sing!”
I told her to settle down; Bun was allowed to sing if she wanted to. Her face on her pillow was like a little black cloud.

It’s another one of those frustrations I feel as a WOTHM. I get only a couple of hours on the weekdays to be with my girls. And so much of it is spent pushing back when they are pushing boundaries. It’s a drag.

However, it’s what we do as parents, no?

It’s funny, because she wasn’t an overly oral baby (Bun put everything in her mouth for two years, but Monkey seemed shut of the habit by the time she was a year old or so). If you have ideas to break Monkey’s chewing habit, I would be grateful for suggestions.

Meatless Monday: Stirfry

I have rediscovered the delicious simplicity of stirfry. It’s quick, tasty, and easy on calories (for DearDR).

As with many meatless dishes I have posted… er, lately (very lately as it were), what I like the most about stirfry is you can pretty much do anything with it. Don’t like broccoli? Use something else. Fan of water chestnuts? Stirfry is perfect!

DearDR and I received a wok for our wedding. I was worried it wouldn’t work as well on an electric stove as it did on gas, but those worries have been unfounded.

I start with some olive oil mixed with sesame oil to saute garlic. Then I throw in hoisin sauce and tofu. After that browns a little bit, I add my veggies. I try to limit myself to three, and I try to make them all a different color: broccoli, red pepper, and carrots; celery, carrots, and mushroom; orange pepper, broccoli, and water chestnut.

For DearDR I have sauted some chicken strips on the side, sometimes with a sweet and sour marinade that he likes.

I have been serving the stirfry over soba or udon noodles, as well as the stand-by: rice. My kids like both — they don’t like to eat everything mixed together, but they will eat steamed or sauted veggies, rice or noodles, and plain tofu. We probably eat stirfry once a week, but it hasn’t gotten boring because I don’t think I’ve made it the same way twice.

What’s your favorite stirfry? I know Allison has one she makes with pineapple. And, yes, I am sincerely hoping she will link to a recipe or leave it in the comments. Please leave your favorite combo, too!

Happy Father’s Day

Dear Fathers,

Whomever and where ever you are, I hope you get to do what you want today. For DearDR, that will mean sleeping in until it’s time to make pancakes with the girls. For my dad, I’ve no doubt that means golf and good food. For Dr. Bro, probably grilling something meat-based and lots of beer. For my BIL-IL (SIL’s husband), probably just hanging at home. Maybe Niece will take a day off from spontaneous tears (fingers crossed for ya, BIL-IL). My FIL: good food and good family and good naps.

I hope you don’t get too many ties. I hope your grandchildren send you cards with their own artwork in them. I hope you get a weed whacker or a new pair of shoes or whatever other manly gift you desire.

I hope that being a father (and an uncle and a grandfather) makes you happy.

God bless fathers. Have a fantastic day.

That’s So High School

I didn’t feel a burning desire to go to my high school reunion, as I’ve mentioned.

That’s not because I didn’t like high school. I took high school for what it was, pretty much: a way to go do something else. And make some friends.

It’s not because I didn’t like people with whom I attended high school. I had a circle of very close friends (we called ourselves ‘the claque’). As in any high school, there were cliques, of course: the uber popular girls, the jocks, the smart girls, the creative types, the burnouts.

Did I mention I went to an all-girl Catholic high school? That’s relevant.

Although there were these groups, these breakdowns that occurred along brain/beauty/talent and/or (yeah, I’ll admit it) class lines, everyone pretty much knew each other and got along. For the most part. (I was threatened with bodily harm after school exactly once. And, let’s face it, I called the girl a horse. I wasn’t an innocent bystander — although I didn’t exactly intend for her to overhear me call her that.) There was cross over; there were friendships among different levels of brains, beauty, talent and class. I would theorize that this happened for two reasons: 1. It was a pretty small school. My graduating class was only 150 girls (and it would have been 120 if they hadn’t closed the other all-girls’ Catholic high school the year before); 2. No Boys.

There was no competition for boys’ attention in the classroom. No agonizing self-consciousness there, either. Boys simply were not a day-to-day… distraction, let’s say.

Not that we didn’t like boys. We did. And not that we weren’t friends and girlfriends with boys; we were. And not that we were not jealous (envious? I get those two mixed up all the time) of other girls’ boyfriends. I remember quite vividly (and with a goodly amount of embarrassment) lusting after one of my friends’ boyfriends.

Also, I clearly recall thinking at one point, “These are supposed to be the best years of my life? ‘Cause, Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Not because those years sucked. But… come on. The best years of my life? Really? I was super skinny, awkward, brainy, and had pimples. I hid my self consciousness behind sarcasm. I didn’t know where I belonged or who the hell I was or wanted to be.

I was hardly the self confident hottie you see before you now. *snort*

Anyhoo, what high school was good for, for me: Discovery. I learned I had a love of reading and a gift for writing. I was encouraged in these endeavors by two teachers (Leigh Constantine and David Monteith — I owe them a debt of gratitude. I’m sure I’m not the only one). I was a smart creative, toward the top of my class; I wrote and edited for the newspaper, the yearbook, the literary magazine (hell, I founded the literary magazine); I dabbled in “theater” on both sides of the curtain. (Due to my height, and my short hair, I was cast as a man in one play. Afterwards, a mother of one of the other actors commented to her, “Oh, and the two boys in the play were brilliant.” Yeah, I was one of the boys of whom she spoke. The other was actually a boy — from the all-boy prep school in the area. I believe I went to his senior prom with him. Weird.)

I graduated, with honors. I left Erie — twice really; I did go back home after my freshman year in college. Not after sophomore year, though. No, Erie and I were pretty much through.

Ten years ago, I went to my reunion. I was single, child-free, and working as a writer. Many of the girls I saw that night were married, still in Erie, some with children. It struck me at the time as a weird dichotomy.

Two weeks ago, I was persuaded to go to my high school reunion. It was more fun than I had suspected it was going to be. I will admit to not recognizing the majority of my former classmates. I, frankly, am shocked how many of them recognized me! I don’t think I look much like my senior photograph, that’s for sure.

For a while, I surreptitiously checked out names tags (which also had our high school senior pictures on them — that was unique torture). Finally, I just consulted with H and M. And then (after dinner, and after a couple of glasses of bad wine) I mingled.

It was pleasant. It seems the majority of my classmates are married (some divorced); many have children; many have found homes outside of Erie, but just as many are still (or, as in H’s case — back) there. I was glad I went, and glad I got to spend time with H and M. I felt comfortable and at ease among my former classmates. I don’t remember being sarcastic once!

After all, these are the best years of my life, so far.