Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yay! Traveling with a Toddler!

Lily Ruth and I took a trip this past week. We flew to Wisconsin to see Kittyn and her daughter. They crossed the pond for a visit, and we all decided that there were more kid-friendly options in Madison (where Kittyn grew up - and where her parents still reside) than there are here... also, we were hoping for (and got!) a break from the heat.

Lily is now a traveling pro. The first leg of our three-legged flight was full, so I had to contain my baby pretty tightly. Luckily for us, she was still pretty tired from waking up four full hours before she normally does, so she was content. The second leg was mostly empty, so we spread out and got acquainted with our surroundings:

She happily played with her toys, watched The Wiggles and Elmo on my laptop and talked to every passenger in a 2 row radius. She fell asleep just before we landed for a quick stop in Kansas City and slept through that break and the final leg of our trip.

Arriving in Wisconsin was a delight. Small, quiet airport. Favorite Kittyn waiting for us. Beautiful SEVENTY (not 100) degree day... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. We had some lunch then went to the playground. In the middle of the afternoon! I think it would be impossible to impress on you how amazing it was to be outside and comfortable. I can hardly wait for November... that's right - November. That's when it will cool off here...

Our first full day there involved a trip to the zoo, yummy lunch out and new shoes for Lily Ruth on a whim (and on sale :-P). Then there was the accidental 2 1/2 hour nap. I laid down with my baby girl in order to calm her down for her nap, and woke up to evening sun streaming through the windows. Wow. Talk about relaxed!

Wait, let me back up. The zoo in Madison is wonderful. Even with a good portion of it closed for renovation, we still had a great time. They have a fantastic children's play area. Maddie threw herself into the fray immediately. Lily Ruth was cautiously optimistic, but wanted my hand in hers. We climbed the stairs of the play structure and watched bigger kids adventurously climb, run and slide. She decided that we could go down the big slide together, so we did. Then she wanted to go back up, and indicated that she wanted to slide again. I got Kittyn to wait for her at the bottom, and sent her down. Then, um, this happened...

Yep, that's Lily Ruth stuck gecko-style in a giant slide. Giving Mama the 'you had BETTER get me out of here' glare. Kittyn had to climb up and dislodge her. It was hilarious.

The next day was our trip to the Madison Children's Museum. That place is AMAZING. They just re-opened in a brand new building. The photos in the link look like they were taken before the exhibits were finished. The space looks much different, and absolutely blew us away. It was packed in there, so I didn't take many pictures - I was too busy watching out for my baby in the throng of childhood that surged around us :-) I did get a few...

stacking translucent magnet blocks on a light board:

a bit giddy about the sandbox:

and 'I know I'm not supposed to put crayons in my mouth - what are you gonna do about it?':

and a few of the structure itself...

rooftop retreat with grass, gardens, chickens and glass overlook of the state capitol:

amazing mosaic pillar in the art area:

incredible mosaic floor in the toddler area:

Don't even get me started on how awesome it was in there. I'd never stop talking. Oi, then there was the snack we had at the Bean Sprouts Cafe in the lobby... oh, the injustice of living in this non-kid-friendly town!

This was such a lovely trip! From the gracious accommodations at Chez Luttig to the fantastic activities to the made to order weather. YAY! I could go on and on, but you won't find it as awesomely interesting as I do... so I'll leave you with this view of Lily Ruth LOVING herself some swing time:

SO, when are you going to come over? We really should visit more...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mama Cooks

Today's Recipe: Linda's Sunday Night Pasta 'Bake'

I get my love of cooking good food from my family. My Grandmother doesn't cook as much as she used to - I think it's just not her turn any more - but my Mama is still KILLING it in the kitchen. For last night's dinner, she winged it using a couple of recipes that she'd seen while going through old issues of Cooking Light (a favorite pastime in our group). It was so good, that I have to include it here even though we didn't take any pictures...

Sunday Night Pasta

1 bag/box/package of pasta - use your favorite
1 Lb fresh Ricotta cheese
1 Lb fresh Mozarella cheese - sliced
olive oil
1 Lb mushrooms - cleaned and cubed/quartered
1 large onion (red yellow or white) - chopped
2 bunches Swiss Chard - washed, ribs removed and leaves coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
4 or 5 garlic cloves
1 jar GOOD marinara sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

boil pasta according to directions - you'll want it to be al dente. line a baking sheet or two with foil and coat with olive oil. loosely arrange the mushrooms and onion - do not crowd them. bake at 350 until nicely done - set aside. in a large skillet, heat a dollop of olive oil. add the chard and a bit of Kosher salt, and stir. as it begins to soften, press the garlic cloves over the chard and mix. when the chard is just cooked, add in the mushroom/onion mix and the pasta sauce and heat until just warmed. cover the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish with the ricotta cheese. layer in the pasta then the basil then the sauce/chard/mushroom mix. top with the Mozarella. slide the dish under your oven's broiler until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly. eat way too much :-)

Just as a point of reference, this is my beautiful Mama with Lily Ruth when she was just a tiny newborn :-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Baby Swim Lessons

We finished our two week course of swim lessons :-( I feel like we need more time! Lily's new pool skills are incredible. In two weeks, she went from never having had her head fully under water to flinging herself off the side of the pool on command:

and being thrown through the air into the water (full disclosure - this is Sidney, not Lily Ruth):

She can also retrieve objects deep underwater (with a little push):

and swim from one adult to another (with a little push):

It has been an amazing experience. I watched my fearful, freaked out child become a water baby. Not only does she enjoy Miss Diana, but she'll 'swim' to pretty much anybody! Add in the gorgeous setting and the good friends, and you get one happy Mama Rachel :-) She loves the pool now! It's so much fun to watch her light up and enjoy herself. We're going to take two weeks off from class, then return for the September sessions. I can't stay away - or out of the water - it's too much fun!

Friday, August 13, 2010

From the Darkest Depths of My Brain

Here are some things that have recently run through my addled mind...

"If I had a Twitter account, I would Tweet things like 'I just pooped out half my body weight' since the Library of Congress records every Tweet."

"I wish I had more drag queens in my life."

"I wish I still had that corset..."

... that's from a high school production of 'Hedda Gabbler' - that's me on the right. I hadn't seen that picture in 20 years, and my first thought is that I miss the costume. I guess we can all figure out my motivation for being involved in the theatre...


Here are some phrases that I've actually SAID recently... in front of/to other people...

"That must have been one sweet-ass teddy bear picnic." - to Kittyn's hubby

"I am sooooooooo tired of all of this SNOT." - at Macy's... loudly :-/

"Do NOT grab Mommy's nipples when you get to her!!!" - swim class... also very loudly :-O


Oh, and remember how I've been thinking about body image and not wanting to model an unhealthy body image for Lily Ruth? Well, I had to go get a new bathing suit today. The awesome pair of boy-shorts that I've been wearing for the last 7 or 8 years have finally started to get a bit thin in the seat. Since we're spending more pool time with the baby, I decided to replace them before there was a public incident involving my naked rear end. I went to Macy's and looked around. There were NO boy shorts :-( so I started looking at the little skirted bottoms. I finally found a pair that matched a top in my size, AND IT WASN'T AWFUL. I looked into the mirror and thought 'alright then. That'll do just fine.' My tummy, my hips, my buns... all a but jigglier than I would prefer, but I'm not twenty any more. I was able to look at myself and honor who I am in this space. I'm a Mama. I'm a 37-year-old. I'm in the process of shedding 15 years of emotional baggage that has translated itself into (a LOT of) extra weight. For where I am in my life, I look pretty damn good! I'm not a kid, I'm not a model, I'm a real, not skinny person. IN A TWO PIECE BATHING SUIT - VOLUNTARILY :-)!!!!!

*** EDIT *** well, here I am...

What Just Happened?

So, remember how I told you that Lily Ruth fell out of our bed, and that seemed to paint our whole day with a slightly whiney brush? Well, it continued to be weird.

After Lily's nap - in the car... I blogged and read a book in the front seat - we played with our friends briefly before swim lessons. Our playdate was mostly without incident, but there was a bit of territorial squabbling (not unusual) and some shrieking when we had to leave certain toys upon our departure (not the norm for us, but not totally unexpected). Our swim lesson went well, and Miss Diana even checked out Lily Ruth's skull (she's a nurse) after I told the story of her fall.

We made it home. Lily Ruth made it clear that today was not a day for autonomous play. She needed attention and lots of nursing. That's fine with Mama. It just means that those pesky dishes will have to sit a bit longer, and dinner will have to wait until Daddy gets home. We played on the play mats with the doggie (Silly Doggie!), sat on Mama's lap to watch Dragon Tales and sat on the edge of the pool while the doggie swam. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Then we came inside and it was time for a rousing round of 'Chase the Pets'. A game that starts off quietly with Lily Ruth wandering over to a cat or dog, squatting down, murmuring into their fur and waiting for a response. If no response is forthcoming, she ups the ante by patting a face or grabbing a tail. Eventually, the pet gets tired of the prodding and wanders off. Now the chase is on! Lily Ruth trundles after the pet making happy noises and proclaiming 'ca-T', 'tikka, tikka', and 'DOGGIE!'. I usually monitor the first two stages of the game closely in case any of the pets REALLY don't want to play, but they are on their own once they start to move. All of them are quite capable of staying away from her if they want to. Yesterday's game started out with Bing, but he stopped playing, so Lily ended up following Keely back to the nursery. Then came the 'THUD' that every parent knows and the wail that they know even better. I raced back to her room to find a concerned dog, the area rug in a big wad (dammit, doggie!) and my baby on her back and PISSED OFF. She had been chasing Keely, but had gotten caught up in the wadded up rug (the dog bunches it up when she naps in there) and had fallen backward and whacked her head.

I scooped her up and checked her over. Aside from a knot near the base of her skull, the only obvious injury seemed to involve her pride and her feelings. I gave out kisses and 'poor baby' s like they were going out of style. We settled back in to nurse some more then drank cool water and discussed our options for play. That's when Daddy came home. I was displaced by a need for Daddy love, so I started dinner. Soon afterward came the meltdown that signals time for bed. It was only 7:30 (she goes to bed between 8:30 and 9), but we decided to go for it. Something about her behavior bugged me, so I called Miss Diana to talk it out. She said to go wake up Lily Ruth while we discussed it.

Apparently, one mild head bonk is not a big deal (duh), but two in one day CAN be a big deal. During the second hit, the brain can bounce back onto the site of the first hit (already sore, but not yet in need of medical attention) and cause a bruise. Coupled with the crabbiness and her request to go to bed early, Diana said to go get her checked out, so we packed ourselves off to the children's ER. Biggest surprise of the night? The ER was clean, quiet, quick and staffed with wonderful, friendly people. We were in & out in no time at all. Lily Ruth was declared healthy and happy by a medical professional, and we went home.

We slept in this morning...

We took our time getting up, getting bathed and getting ready. We finally made it to Parent's Day Out around 11:30. Another round of top-of-the-lungs shrieking commenced. I bolted.

I am WORN OUT, ya'll! I feel like an old lady. All I can think about is sleep, so I guess I'll go do that... OR, I could piddle away an hour or so on the internet then drag myself up, clean the kitchen, go get Lily Ruth, go to swim lessons, arrange dinner of some sort, then fall into bed around 10 or 11 tonight... that sounds much more likely...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good Day, Bad Night

So, after my frantic 'Tough Morning' post, Lily Ruth did fine at Parent's Day Out in the big kid room. They even took pictures of her playing with toys and taking a nap on a mat to show me how awesome she was. Ya'll, she has never in her whole life slept on a mat with other people around. She even had a blanket wrapped around her tiny self - another first! She blows me away every day.

I picked her up, and we went to swim lessons at Miss Diana's house. It was a tough lesson because only two babies were there. This means that we worked at least twice as hard as usual since there was so much more room in the pool and we had more of Diana's attention. We were both worn out but smiling when we were done. I am so glad that she's enjoying this! We went home and played and colored and nursed and talked. Eventually, Daddy made it home and we had our evening ritual of jammies, quiet time, rocking, then bed. Whew.

Daddy and I retired not too long after that. Daddy passed out from exhaustion and Mama read her book. Baby Lily Ruth slept until 11:30 and then woke up crying loudly. She normally whimpers a bit, but this was emphatic. I went in to get her, and the instant the door opened, she said 'ca-T' and started looking into the corners of the room and babbling. It made me wonder if she has started dreaming. If so, what in the world was she dreaming about? We visited quietly while I changed her diaper, then we got in Mama and Daddy's bed to nurse. She had a really hard time falling back to sleep. There was lots of tossing and turning and two nursing sessions before she was able to settle in. Our usual routine at this point is to nurse every hour or two. This is not ideal, but it seems to be the way that we all get the most sleep. Last night was an 'every 30 minutes' night, and Mama was almost as frustrated as Lily Ruth at our inability to rest comfortably. We settled in to nurse AGAIN around 4. Since she was on my left, there was a pillow between her and the edge of the bed... do you see where this is going?...

I would swear that one second she was latched on, and the next she was gone. Daddy swears that he somehow woke up and saw the whole thing, but he concedes that he might have imagined that after the fact. What probably happened is that I was much more asleep than I thought and she unlatched, threw herself dramatically across the pillow, overbalanced and flipped off the bed. All we know for sure is that she landed face down and oddly calm. Maybe she was asleep too, and stayed limp. There was no blood and very little crying. She needed to nurse immediately, but was able to let Daddy cuddle her (he was FREAKED OUT) very soon after. We all managed to get back to sleep eventually.

This morning has been a bit tender-hearted. Lily Ruth tries to be her usual silly self, but quickly deteriorates into a crying, tantrum-y mess. I can't help but wonder how much her head/face hurts and how freaked out she might still be. We've been to Starbucks, Daddy's office and Gabby B's. None of those were truly successful outings, but none were truly awful either... I guess I should count my blessings a bit more carefully today. My baby is intact. My sanity is strained but intact. My pool is marginal but improving. Things could really be so much worse, and they are not. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tough Morning.

LIly Ruth is growing up so fast! I know that it is her job to do so, but it's still tough. She's this strong-willed, opinionated, walking, babbling, mimic who sees (and remembers) more than she lets on. Because we have the option, I tend to let her come to things in her own time (instead of forcing her onto a time-table) whenever possible. This means that I occasionally spend extended time doing things like letting her wander nude through the pool house after swim lessons as she pokes curiously into crannies, notes the location of the trash can (so she can throw her own swim diapers away), and removes then replaces everyone else's towel. She also likes to do things like squat down to check out minute particles on the floor - any floor - or pick up and closely examine every leaf she sees. I like to think of these times as curious exploratory adventures, but could they be engendering a feeling of entitlement in my little one? Do I give her too much leeway and not enough leash? Should she be held to more rigid standards so that disruption of what she wants is not so traumatic?

I ask for a reason. This morning, I walked in to drop Lily Ruth off at Parent's Day Out. The (wonderful) lady in charge of the nursery told me that they were going to go ahead and try to move Lily into the older kid room. She's been in the infant room since she started there, but at 13 (almost 14!) months, and now that she's a steady walker, it's time to move up. The ladies normally take a child into the new room for several hours each day, increasing the time slowly, until they are acclimated. What they've decided with Lily Ruth however, is that the back-and-forth is actually harder on her, so they're just going to go for it. I trust them, and I know that they will do what is best for my daughter, so I said 'Great!', and walked her back. We entered the new room, and her little arm tightened around my neck. The ladies for this room approached, and she hid her face and whined. As they started to tell me about how this room is structured, I passed through the entry area and into the play area. She took one look at the toys, her playmates (one of them her good friend Henry), and began to wail. We discussed her current habits in relation to their timetable. She sobbed. Henry grabbed a blanket, shoved his thumb into his mouth in sympathy and edged closer to Lily Ruth. I finally said my good byes and started to disengage my little one from my torso. She clung, she flailed, she RAGED. I walked (ran?) out as she ramped it up to full blown, top volume shrieking.

While I know that most of her volume was an act (and BOY can she act... I have no idea where she gets the propensity for drama :-P), it is still ridiculously hard to walk away when she feels like that! My stomach turned and my eyes welled up even though I knew she was fine. Knowing her as I do, I have a feeling that this transition may be a bit more 'involved' than they are expecting. I fear that my darling one may be one of those kids who take up more time and attention than most. My worry is that this is something that I have done to her rather than just simply part of who she is.

When does latitude become indulgence? Where do you draw the line? When you start drawing the lines, how do you keep from boxing them in too tightly? WHERE IS MY LILY RUTH HANDBOOK? Do I have to order one like her birth certificate, or will it arrive on it's own like her teeth?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Snippets From Our Recent Life

I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but Lily Ruth is taking swimming lessons! Well, a her age they are more like survival lessons. A good friend found an instructor that will take babies this young, and even enjoys them at this age ;-) The lessons are at her home in a saline pool. It has been a really neat experience. The class was originally six babies ranging from 8 months to 16 months. Three of the babies had been through a class before and were there to continue their progress.

The first day was full of screaming - from almost all of the new babies. I say almost all, because while Lily Ruth and her pal Sidney cried a LOT (in Sid's case, continually), Henry took to the lessons like a fish (or, as his mama says, a SHARK). The second day had less crying (from Lily - Sidd-o was still ticked), but Lily was not yet convinced about the whole process. There is an exercise that requires the baby to sit on the edge of the pool and wait until you count to three to fall into the pool and 'swim' to you. I would say 'One', and Lily would clap hesitantly - hoping that I was leading up to something fun. I would say 'Two', and she would sign 'all done/finished'. I'd say 'Three!' and a resigned look would settle onto her face as she took in a breath and plunged. It was adorable, funny and a little bit heart breaking.

Each day has been consistently better and by Friday, Lily Ruth and I were playing and laughing through our time in the pool.

We have a whole week left, and I'm really looking forward to it. I hope that Lily Ruth is, too!


My friend June has a great bracelet with her son's name spelled out. She's been wanting one with her daughter's name as well. I decided to make one for her, and one for me. I really like the way that they turned out.


Lily Ruth has become obsessed with putting the tops back onto anything that has been opened and fitting things into other things - like her bottle into my shoe...


Lily Ruth also spends a lot of her time talking softly (and occasionally loudly) to the animals. Even Frank has softened toward her. In retrospect, I should have known that he was ill when I took these because he was holding so still for her... don't worry, he's fine. Just ANOTHER abscessed bite wound. No more sleeping outside for either boy cat.

Lily had a supermodel moment while we were taking these :-) She was moving so fast that the wind blew her hair back


This weekend, Lily Ruth and I were both congested. This meant that I got almost no sleep, and she got very interrupted sleep as her usual 'half-wake to nurse back to sleep' routine was broken by the need to suction out her tiny nose.

At one point, I had almost drifted back to sleep when she turned toward me and (still asleep) whispered "Mama... Mama... Mama...' in the saddest, most plaintive tone that anyone has ever used. That was it. I was awake.

In my quest to keep her breathing as even as possible, I kept propping her up on my shoulder or my pillows. We spent a good portion of the night cheek to cheek. My exhausted brain burped this out:

breathing face to face
baby lashes on my cheek
fingers drum my lips


We go to Starbucks a LOT. Lily feels very comfortable there. She even likes to show off for her 'friends' there - like 'talking on the phone', 'drinking mama's coffee', and my favorite - wearing her sunglasses!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Weekend Getaway

Wow, ya'll. I mean it. Here's how it went down:

1. My grandparents wanted to take us (Daddy Don, Baby Lily Ruth and Mama Rachel) away for the weekend. Because I have such a forceful personality, it was decided that we would go to the coast (always my first choice).

2. We had the genius idea of renting a place on line since we've had great luck in the past. Granted, the great luck involved Hawai'i and it's hard to have bad luck when Hawai'i is involved. Our rules were simple - two bathrooms, two bedrooms and at least one bedroom had to be on the ground floor since my grandparents are not fans of stairs. That was all.

3. At some point in our search, a button was inadvertently pushed leaving us looking at accommodations in Palacios, Texas rather than North Padre Island, Texas. Our mistake was not immediately discovered. When it was, we decided to step out of our comfort zone (N Padre up to Rockport) and try something new. A rental agreement was completed and money was paid (rental fee plus a sizable damage deposit). We were excited. Menus were planned. Suitcases were packed.

4. Departure day arrived. Daddy Don was in Houston for business, and would be driving down to meet us. Mama, Lily and Lily's great grandparents (a.k.a. the Great Ones) drove down together. We got off to a bit of a late start, but Lily Ruth hung in there like a trooper. She 'talked' and 'sang' most of the way down. The drive was looooooooooooong. It took us almost 4 & 1/2 hours (including a few pit stops) to get there.

Here's where the story really gets going. We stopped in 'town' to check in and get the codes for the locks. Town is a term that can only be loosely applied to this burg. It had the sad, half-shuttered look of so many small towns these days. We only gave it a glance - not being ones to judge books by their covers... Then we made the short drive to the property. Click here to see what we expected to find. It looks older, but nice in the pictures. It claims to be a full house, so that's what we were expecting. What we were confronted with was a run-down, smelly, dirty, oddly configured mess. The ground floor had a partially private queen bed, two not private double beds, two chairs and a bathroom. The interior staircase was open and very steep. The upper floor had a partially private king bed, a galley style kitchen, a not private twin bed, a dining table shoved under a window with 3 chairs and another bathroom. THAT IS ALL. No living area to sit around in. No area for dining that would accommodate all five of us. No way to avoid having my grandparents traipse up and down the stairs. It was like a summer camp bunkhouse without the planned activities. Also (as I mentioned, but it bears repeating) dirty and smelly. It was BAD.

We unpacked the car anyway. Then we decided that it was too much to bear. Grandfather decided to call 'the guy' and ask if he had another option for us. He couldn't reach 'the guy'. Since it was closing in on 5 o'clock, we figured that we had better hoof it back into town before they rolled up the sidewalks for the night. We tracked down 'the guy' at his wife's coffee shop/used book store. We announced that we couldn't stay there. He acted shocked. Grandfather asked for his money back. He stalled. Hemmed, hawed and launched into a story about how he couldn't POSSIBLY call the owner at 5:00 on a Friday. After all (he blustered), the man is in a wheelchair... and he's an attorney... and he lives in Houston... and he was the last person in Houston to catch Polio before it was eradicated... as though any of that was a reason not to call the guy.

In the meantime, his wife got on the internet and tried to find us someplace in town that would be on the ground floor. She claimed that the only options in town would be on the second floor or higher. 'The guy' was still claiming that this had never happened to him before and acting like we were delusional for thinking we could expect any money back. Grandfather told the wife that 'this is why people our age decide not to go anywhere any more - there are too many problems'. It broke my heart.

We left. We drove back to the shack to repack the car. Ideas were tossed about in a half-hearted manner. Would we stay in Palacios or drive to Rockport? Grandfather maintained that a motel was a motel. I mentioned that a motel in Rockport would NOT be located in Palacios - in my mind, that made a whole world of difference. My point was conceded. We got BACK into the car, and headed for Rockport. Lily Ruth lost what was left of her good humor and began to complain vociferously. It was a LONG fifty minute drive.

Once we hit town, we began stopping at every possible lodging establishment. No vacancy, no vacancy, no vacancy. My grandparents began to look tired and discouraged. We pushed onward. Then we saw Daddy Don! After over an hour of phone tag, texts and fractured directions, he found us! We had also arrived at a place with a vacancy. The manager gave us a key so that we could evaluate the room (a bad sign in my mind). It was BAD. As bad as Palacios. The grandparents wanted to keep it because it was available. Thank goodness for Daddy Don and his fresh set of eyes. He was not discouraged, and he insisted that we could do better. Having him there even perked up the whiney Lily Ruth! We set out again.

After a few more instances of no vacancy, we were at the literal end of the road. A newish condo development right on the water. I raced into the office before Grandfather could get out of the car. I was determined to hear the 'bad news' first this time to save them the disappointment. Did they have any availability? One unit that had become available only thirty minutes prior (cautious optimism). Would it sleep all of us? Yes - it was a 1 bedroom plus a sleeper sofa (giddy grin). Was it available for two nights? No (boo, but not terminal). Was it on the ground floor? No, third floor (noooooooooooooooooooooo!), but we have an elevator (YESSSSSSSSSSS! *fist pump*)! One last question... (*ducks as though about to be slapped*) is it in our budget? Yes. WHOO-HOOOOOOOOO! I bounded out of there like a puppy with a new toy and crowed our victory to the waiting throng.

Grandfather paid the nice lady and got our keys. We unloaded the cars for the last time of the day. We sighed deeply. Grandmother cracked open the champagne and laid out our traditional 'first night' dinner of bagels, lox, cream cheese and fresh fruit. We began to unwind... eight full hours after we left home.

It was all uphill from there. Another unit - an even nicer one - became available for our second night. We packed and unpacked the cars one more time. Grandfather and Daddy Don played golf. Grandmother and Mama Rachel took Baby Lily Ruth to the used book store that Grandmother has been taking me to since I was barely old enough to read. Lily Ruth loved the bookstore - she found two 'new' books. Then we took Lily to the beach. She did not love the beach. She hated the beach. She did not want to walk on the sand, put her toes in the water or even sit on my lap while I sat in 5 inches of warm, gently rolling water. Oh well. We'll try again next time. She can have an opinion. It can be different from mine. I just wish that she loved the ocean like I do. Perhaps some day she will.

It was good to get away. It was great to spend some time with my grandparents. It was fun to go back to the coastal town that I grew up visiting. We did some good visiting, ate some great food, and spent too much time in the car. All in all though, it was a good weekend. Not what we had envisioned, but good. We came away a little wiser about renting on line. We also came home with a new standard for bad... 'oh, that's sooooo Palacios' now means 'that's terrible' or even 'that's so bad that it's unacceptable' in our family. Definitely a case of if you can't be a good example, you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning :-)