Thursday, February 24, 2011

Contemplating Kindle

So- I never thought I would say this but lately I've been contemplating Kindle.
As in- getting one.
I know, right.
I'm an old fashioned kind of girl. I love the way books smell, the way they feel. The excitement of starting a new one- I always skip ahead to the last page and just skim it. Ever so slightly. Just to see. And of course I read the acknowledgements, to see who the authors agent it.
But two recent events have made me start to think that it might be time to jump ship.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Wal Mart and perusing the books. The selection was very minimal. Most of the books had 40% off stickers. Some of the books were in bins, one marked $5 one marked $7. Some of the books in the bin were hardcovers.
"I hate to say this," said a stranger who was standing beside me, in the same predicament. "But I think we're going to have to get an EReader soon," he said.
I nodded slowly. "You may be right," I concurred, with a sad sort of smile, though I wasn't quite sold on it.
At least, not yet.
Although I sensed something. That somehow, this strangers words were  important, that things were shifting for me. For us, even, as I felt connected to this person, as book connoisseurs.

And I thought about Under the Dome, which I happened to be reading when I went to Mexico, which was unfortunate, because the book is over a thousand pages, and very weighty. I dragged that ting through the airports, to the beach and back every day. It was cumbersome, even to read,  much less carry  around. I would have preferred, I told my husband one night, if he had written the book in two parts rather than one that size.
And for all of my lugging it around in Mexico, I read maybe only a hundred pages.
In two weeks.
Pitiful, I know.

But in my defense: this is an example of a day at the beach:

Get down to the beach.
Unpack the kids towells and sand toys.
Sit down to read book.
One sentence later: "Mom, I have to go potty!" Alex says, holding himself.
"Okay," I say, getting up and walking the half block or so to the bathrooms. Along the way we stop and observe birds, his bathroom needs seemingly forgotten. He chases the birds for a while, cries when they fly away once he's within a few feet. Then he sees the outdoor showers, and of course he has to go in, he stands in the shower, playing with the water. Doing a version of the hokey pokey, putting the left foot in, the left foot out. I drag him away.

Finally, we get to the bathroom.
I sit him on the toilet. He has to take his shorts completely off, and his shoes as well. Then he sits on the potty, dangles his feet up and down. Looks at me with an adoring smile and says "all done." as he hops off.
"But you didn't go!" I tell him.
"I don't have to," he says, as he tries to open the door. I hold him back, wriggle his little but into his shorts and his little feet into his shoes.

We make the slow walk back to the beach.

Along the way we pass the bar. "I need a drink," he tells me. So we stand at the bar, order a Spiderman, which is a convoluted drink that involves red Jello and blue ice cream.  Alex insists on carrying it himself to the beach. By the time we get there, he has spilled most of it on himself, and it's almost completely melted. He cries that he's sticky, and this necessitates another trip to the shower area. I can't get him away from the shower area. I walk away, thinking he'll follow. He does not follow. A security guard comes over and stands, protectively, beside the shower, observing Alex. I watch from the beach.

 "There," I say, as I pick up my book. "The security guard is looking after him." But then I remember that the security guards are all, apparently, crooked and possibly involved in the drug cartel, according to a lady we met who was either the most brilliant detective since Sara Sidle or completely paranoid and deranged. I look at him talking on his two way radio, and wonder what he's saying, feeling vaguely suspicious about it for some reason.

I sigh and put my book down, walk back to the shower, pull Alex away, causing a slight scene in the process.We get back to the beach, I sit down, poised to read my book again. It feels nice.
I feel the sun boring into me, and I look up at the kids.
"Get your hats on," I tell them. I pull the hats out of the sand, shake them vigorously, put them on the kids, who promptly take them off. This goes on for some time. Finally I convince them to wear their hats, and they do so but  begrudgingly.
Then I remember that I haven't sunscreened them recently, so I go and rub them down with SPF 50.

Then I sit down, poised to read, finally.

"I have to go potty," Alex says, again holding himself and dancing around, and I think- I think this is for real this time, although I'm never sure until we get there.
"Okay," I say with a sigh, getting up.
And so on and so forth.

Would a Kindle have prevented these problems?
No. Nothing could have prevented these problems, except for maybe birth control, but it was way too late for that.
But, still. I wouldn't have had to cart that damn book around with me, everywhere we went, for two weeks, so that I could read precisely one sentence every day.
So here I am, contemplating a Kindle.
I don't know what's happening to me, somehow, I'm becoming current. I even have a Blackberry now.
I even know how to use it.
Well, sort of. I mean, some stuff I can do.
What's next- maybe I'll read the Hunger Games or watch Inception.
Probably not. But you never know?

Anyways, you tell me: how do you read?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Misadventures in Reading

I was standing in the kitchen, playing an impromptu round of "What did I just step in?"
I do not like this game, but being that I'm inclined to walk barefoot in my home and live with three kids, a dog and a cat, this is a game that is thrust upon me quite frequently.
Tonight's rendition seemed too easy. The texture was slimy, the temperature warmish.
"Ugh, dog puke," I thought, as I picked up my foot to see what, indeed, I had stepped in, partly hoping that I was right (for the win!) and partly hoping I was wrong (cuz- ew, dog puke? Need I say more?)
I was puzzled, but pleasantly surprised, by the result. Canola oil. Because trust me, it could have been worse. A lot worse.
Just think of it like an abbreviated paraffin wax treatment, I thought at I dabbed at my afflicted foot with paper towell, which felt kind of gross as it oozed between my toes. I covered the oily splotch on the floor with a tea Towell, wiping it ineffectively with my foot.
Why there was warm canola oil on my kitchen floor, I wasn't sure, but left the matter alone. It's better not to ask questions sometimes.
Besides, the end result is the same.

I poured myself a glass of wine, which is what I had gone into the kitchen for in the first place, and returned to the living room. A few minutes later, I was interrupted by my kids. First the pouty cry of Payton, as she emerged from the bedroom holding her left arm. She was followed by Alex, who was also pouting.
"I'm hungry for a sandwich," he said, in a whiny voice that was not quite a cry, but verging on it.
"A sandwich?" I asked with a laugh, finding it strange that he would be asking for a sandwich at nine pm.
"And what happened to your arm?" I asked Payton, thinking the two incidents were unrelated.
"Alex bit my arm because he's hungry for a sandwich," she said, looking disgruntled.
I couldn't help but laugh at that.

Oil on the kitchen floor, the kids apparently cannibalizing each other out of apparent hunger.
What the hell was going on in my house, you might be asking yourself.
I'll tell you what.
I got my book shipment today from Amazon!!
I started reading, at noon, Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. I was still reading it at nine, when said cannibalistic act took place. Maybe I have a problem, I thought, but then dismissed that.
What could be wrong with reading?
Besides, it wasn't my fault that the book was so captivating and engrossing that I couldn't, not possibly, be torn away from it, despite my initial misgivings.
I wasn't sure about the book in the beginning. The back jacket made it sound like there was some cataclysmic event, but then I found out a few pages in that said event was a boy burning himself while roasting marshmallows at a sleepover party. Now granted, his burns were somewhat bad.
But still.
This did not seem cataclysmic to me.
I realized with some shock and horror, that I had been fully expecting, and even hoping I think, that the boy would die. I felt oddly deflated when I discovered that no such death was forthcoming (what's wrong with me? I thought). But, in my defense, I mean, really? Four hundred pages about a boy who got burned while roasting a marshmallow?

I felt that I was the one who had been burned.

But then I found that that wasn't the cataclysmic event, but more or less the precipitating factor which led to this event- which as it turned out, was even better (or worse, because for me- the worse, the better) than I thought-
a cheating husband. This topic appeals to me, because I have often wondered why a person would choose to go down that road. It's a slippery slope, I've always thought. More like a series of small transgressions rather than one big one. And the book ended exactly the way I thought it should, which was nice. I hate it when I don't get my way in the end. But I have to say that even I was surprised that I was satisfied with the outcome. Well, I guess I can't say much more than that. Don't want to ruin the ending for anyone who hasn't read it.

Anyways, that was my day yesterday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Strange Compliments, Part 1

This isn't what I had planned on posting today, but I thought this would be fun. These are some compliments, I think, that I've gotten that have made me go "what the..." afterwards.

-I ran into an old coworker once a few years ago. She was getting on the elevator, I was getting off.
The conversation was awkward at once. I wasn't sure what the protocol was, when she had her hand holding the elevator open, was half in and half out. Should I stay? But that would hold her up. Should I go? But that would seem rude. So I offered I quick, "Hey, long time no see." or something like that as I brushed past.  She was like "Wow, I can't believe it's you," and I was like, okay, yea, this is weird but whatever- because it's not like I was assumed dead in some hiking accident and then come back to life like you see on TV. I had merely switched jobs. I was like "yeah it's been a long time, I guess" 
She still seemed so taken aback.
"You -just-- look --so-- different," she stammered, as she studied me hard. "You look so-- so nice."
Uhm. Okay.
I guess?

-My mom said to me the other day about a recent blog post- the one about para sailing, to be exact. "Well," she said, when I asked if she had read it. "You really do know how to make a short story long."
"Thanks!" I said. Then "Wait a minute- is that supposed to be a compliment? Cuz I'm not really sure."
It's called building tension. Or rambling.
Or whatever.

-At my latest Pap test, my doctor was trying to explain to me how and where to put my feet. For some reason, I was having a problem following her directions. She was like "Just put your," she said as she picked up my leg, "more like this," and then she frowned, moved it back how I had it, and was like "actually this is better this way. I didn't know legs could go like that. You're really very flexible," she said, seemingly excited by this prospect.
I was like "Er, thanks- I guess?"
That was awkward.
Even for a pap test. I refuse to call it a pap smear, because don't you just hate the word "smear."
I don't know why but it sounds gross to me.

Anyways, those are the ones that come to mind right now. I'm sure there will be more.
Have a good day!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I have to deal with my procrastination problem, but I'll do it later.

Every year, I promise myself one thing.
Actually, there's several, but for the purposes of this post, one thing.
I promise myself that I won't be that mom- not again-, standing before a near empty shelf, at ten pm on February 13th looking for Valentines for my daughters class, trying to convince her that Thomas the Tank Engine could be for girls, too.

But alas, this year, there I was.

Actually, I thought I had the jump on it. On Saturday I went to Superstore to get the Valentines, I brought Payton with me. "What kind should we get?" I asked, thinking that there would still be tons of possibilities.
But we couldn't seem to find any.
So I asked someone working in the cards section. "Where are the Valentines cards for kids?"
"Like, in the boxes you mean?"
She looked kind of baffled. I nodded.
"We sold out of those. Like last weekend," she said.
"What? Really?" I asked.
My daughter looked disappointed, but hopeful. "Maybe we could make them!"
I groaned. It's not that I didn't want to, but...
OK it is that I didn't want to.
There are twenty six kids in her class, which has to be against the law I think, or against something.
I just couldn't imagine cutting and pasting and coloring twenty six valentines.
It was bad enough just helping her write the kids names on it. You would think it would be easy, but this itself is a long, slow process. Especially when we lost the class list, and had to brainstorm all the names ourselves.

"Maybe we'll try Wal Mart," I said. "I'm sure they'll have them."
"But what if they don't?" she asked.
"Well- then we'll try another store. They've got to have them somewhere," I told her, but I wasn't sure myself.
"OK, let's go," she said.
"We'll go tomorrow," I told her. Because one crazy busy store was enough for me in one day.
So the next day found me at Wal Mart. Luckily they still had a reasonable selection. I remember one year when I went the day before and all they had left was The Wiggles, and my son was in about Grade four he was kind of humiliated, but it was all I could do.
Besides, what are they doing exchanging Valentines in Grade 4? I mean, really. Grade 4!!
Grow up already.

Then there was the 100th day of school. I read something about it, somewhere, made a mental note of it and forgot the whole thing.
And then on Thursday night, I tucked Payton into bed. "But tomorrow's the 100th day of school!" she said. "We were supposed to make a poster with a hundred things on it!"
"What? That's tomorrow?" I asked, panicked.
She nodded. "Are you sure?" I asked her. "It can't be," I said. "I thought that was next week."
"It's tomorrow!" she said, nearly shouting. "My teacher said it is because there were 100 Teddy bears in the jar and today when we took one out and there was only one left so that means the party's tomorrow! And we're supposed to bring a poster of 100 things." I groaned. Honestly, I didn't really understand the whole teddy bears in the jar thing, it sounded kind of out there, but there was enough urgency in her voice that I believed her.
And so there I was, at nine pm on Thursday night, buying poster board.
Sometimes I feel bad for my kids that they have such a scatter brained mom.
But then again- all's well that ends well. The Valentines went out this morning. And we even got pencils and erasers to put in them, so this made her happy.
She had a project for the 100th day of school. It wasn't exactly what they were supposed to have. We ended up making a necklace with a hundred Cheerios, because it was late and I was really too tired to tackle the poster anyways.
But still. It was fine.
And I will deal with my procrastination problem.
Just, you know- later.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Product Review: Sally Hansen Kwik Off

Disclaimer: I did not get paid in whole or in part for reviewing this product.

I don't usually do product reviews, but I really had to write about this, for three reasons:
1) It works really well!
2) It smells like mangoes!
and 3) If feels like a vagina

So if you have, like I do, a six year old daughter who likes to paint your nails really garish colors and do a piss poor job of it while she's at it, painting not just the nail but almost the entire finger, you should definitely check out this product. With one dip of the finger and a quick twist, your nail polish will magically disappear. Now, I never considered using a nail polish impregnated cotton ball laborious. But since using this: I have come to realize that it is, in fact, very labour intensive.

Also, it smells like mangoes, and in my mind- anything that smells like mangoes is worth buying. If they made mango scented QTips I would probably buy those, even though it would be kind of pointless in some ways.

Lastly, and perhaps- most importantly- it feels like a vagina!  Inside the jar is basically a sponge that's soaked in nail polish remover. When you stick your finger in it, it feels warm, squishy and wet. It feels kind of weird, but not entirely unpleasant.
"Stick your finger in here," I told my husband.
He looked at me. "Can I ask what it is?"
"No," I said. "You can't, just stick your finger in it."
So he closed his eyes, winced as though expecting pain (really?? I thought. My own husband, scared of what I would do), and stuck his finger in.
Promptly he withdrew it.  "What the fuck was that?" he looked kind of panicked about it.
"Nail polish remover," I told him, showing him the bottle. "And now your finger will smell like a mango! Smell it!" I told him.
He just sighed at me.
He always sighs in mock exasperation, although lately I'm beginning to wonder about the 'mock' part.

Anyways, if you like mango smelling vagina feeling products, then this is something you must try.
Even if you don't, just try it anyways.

Also, if you have any other products that you want me to review, just let me know. Because I like buying new things. However, preferably,  they should smell nice. I do not want to try anything that smells bad, or contains ketchup (or any other form of condiment, because I just can't deal with that), or could be potentially dangerous or toxic and they should be inexpensive.
Because my husband does not understand the concept of  "you have to spend money to make money." He just doesn't. Although, OK, he's probably right. I'll probably never make any money out of it, at least not in the literal sense.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Parasailing: It's Not as Easy As it Looks (with 33% more swears)

I didn't realize I wasn't entirely serious about going parasailing until it was too late.
It looked like fun, at least, it did when you were sitting on the beach, drinking a daiquiri and watching other people do it.
"That would really be something," I said.
"Yeah, I'd like to try it," my dad said.
"Me too," I said, absently
"I think I'll do it," my dad said, standing up.
"What? Right now?"
"Yeah," he said, as he stalked off towards the hut.
"Right now?" I asked again, trailing after him with camera in hand.
"You going up, too?"
I looked up at the person 200 feet in the sky, tethered to a speed boat by a rope.
"Uhh, I think I'll wait a bit."
"Nah, just do it," he urged me.
"I'll do it on Friday," I said, this being Saturday.
Because Friday was practically forever away.

Except that it wasn't.
I blinked and it was Thursday.
"That'll be you tomorrow," my mom said that morning, pointing at a parasailor.
My stomach clenched. "Yeah," I said. "Assuming, of course, that the conditions are good tomorrow."

Which, of course, they were.
"I'm not feeling so good,"I told my husband on Friday morning. "I think I'll just stay in bed today."
"Oh no you don't," he replied, dragging me up. "You've been putting this off all week. Let's just do it and get it done."
Reluctantly, I got of bed.

I'm not afraid of heights.
At least, not per se.
But the idea of being tethered to a speed boat and dragged around the ocean at great height with only a rope anchoring me was fast losing it's appeal to me.
But- I had given my word. And my word is my word. And I knew that I would probably regret NOT doing it. So I thought, I'm just going to do it. Even I feel like puking. Even if I do puke.

Besides- you could get a free T shirt if you go. And that sort of made me feel happy about it. Of course, I wasn't really sure where I would wear an over sized T Shirt with a giant, cartoon parachute on the back that says "Yo Yo's Parasailing. Since 1968."
But that wasn't the point. The point was, it was free.
OK it wasn't exactly free.
 You could it for the low price of ten dollars. And according to my logic: the sixty forty rule, that is free, because at that price-- they're practically giving it away!
Besides, what exactly, could go wrong?
It was a good thing that I didn't get the chance to google this or this.
Because, as it turns out, a lot could go wrong.

Truly, I probably would have backed out of it. I wanted to.
What kept me from backing out? I don't know. Stubborn determination. The onlookers. The force of inertia. The fact that Pedro already had me harnessed into that thing and had already taken my money and I probably wasn't going to to get it back.  The boat pulled away from the shore, trailing with it the rope that I was now tethered to.
My stomach was turning, churning.

"Has anyone ever gone in?" I asked the guy, pointing at the ocean.
He laughed in response.
But this was no joke.
"Has anyone ever gone in?" I asked again, now terrified and beginning to suspect that the answer was obviously yes if he wasn't going to give me a straight answer about it.
"Seniorita," he said, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Relax, breathe."
"Has anyone gone in?" I asked again, more intently.
The rope before was fast uncoiling and I knew I would be airborne soon. I was beginning to think that I would puke. I imagined chunks fallilng as I ascended. Then I would be shark chum for sure.
And still the guy refused to answer my question.
"Don't worry," he said. "We have very calm day."

Oh Fuck, I thought as I began to walk forward, the rope getting shorter, tauter.
My feet were on the ground one second, and the next second, not.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
Fuck fuck fuck, I thought, tightening my grip on the rope that tethered me to the balloon.
I was told that I could let go, but there was no way I would do that, no way I could. I held tight, afraid that the thing would come undone and I would float away, just like the movie UP, but deadlier.

I peeked open one eye. And then the other.

And it was beautiful. Breathtaking. Soaring above the ocean, with the mountains off in the distance.

That is actually me. You really can't make it out, because my husband doesn't know how to work the zoom button. Hey, what can I say. I'm still working on getting him to put the toilet seat back down. I was nervous and tense the whole time, but I survived! And I hve the pictures, and the T shirt, to prove it.

And would I do it again? Hell No.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Mother Load

You don't get a vacation from being a mom. Even when you're on vacation. Maybe even, especially on vacation. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. Starting with the airplane ride.

I'm not afraid of flying. At least, not per se. But it doesn't make me feel very good when:

-in the boarding area an air traffic personnel person tells me, chirpily, that we'll commence boarding right away. They're just fixing our plane's flat tires.

-once we board, the captain announces that we'll spend a good deal of time de icing the plane. And a distant memory surfaced. Somewhere, sometime, I remember watching on TV- maybe an episode of Mythbusters, I couldnt' be sure- but something along the lines of even a tiny little drop of ice or condensation of the wing of the airplane could bring the whole thing down. I look at my kids, who are innocently and happily licking their lollipops, which were for take off. "I can't wait to take off!" Payton tells me. "Mmm Hmmm," I reply, absently, still watching the crew spray some sort of chemical on the wings. I hope they get it all, I think.

-The flight attendant approaches me and says, again chirpily- why are they always so chirpy?- that "the captain has decided to make this a four hour flight instead of five and a half. So I thought I should give you the heads up that you might want to keep your kids seat belts fastened for the duration of the flight. I'm expecting a really bumpy ride." I force a smile and nod.

Fucking awesome. Our pilot has apparently decided to go Kamikaze on us. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. Maybe I would rather not know that, I think, as my heart rate begins to speed up. I glance again at my kids, still licking their lollipops. For some reason it wrenches my heart to see them like that. So blissfully unaware of my deepening unease. I begin to wonder if my unease is a sign. Something more than just a feeling.

An intuition.
A premonition.
My heart rate speeds up again. And I think what if...
I have a sudden vision of the cabin losing pressure. Oxygen masks deploying. The children looking at me, eyes wide with fear. And I just know that I wouldn't be able to put my own mask on before helping them. The one thing you're supposed to do in an emergency and I don't think I could do it.
The engine revs, and the kids look at me with anticipation. "Here we go," Payton says.
"Here we go," I say. For better or worse, here we go.
And the thought occurs to me: I wonder if they keep on Valium on here- for emergency purposes? I mean, what if someone has a panic attack while they're on board? It's not like you can get off. All they offer is a barf bag?

But that flight wasn't bumpy at all!
In fact, the worst thing that happened was the in flight movie was Eat, Pray, Love. And that was pretty bad.
I was almost wishing that the plane would go down.

Anyways. That feeling cropped up, on and off during the vacation. We got to our suite on the third floor. I felt a lot better about that one than the one that was practically inside the parking lot (AKA possible crime scene.) Until I went out on the balcony. What if?

 I thought as I looked at the table and chairs that were near the railing. Knowing Alex he would try to...
"Keep this door locked when we're not out here," I told Geoff.
Maybe, but bad things do happen, even in paradise. That thought was never far from my mind. I thought of Madeiline McCann often.

And of course, it doesn't help when I meet up with some kook in the hallway (at least I'm hoping she was a kook) who tells me that the hotel has MAJOR security issues. She emphasizes the word major so much that it actually becomes two words. May and Jor. Apparently, the staff is all corrupt and the maids are in it with the security guards and they communicate everything on two way radios- who's in what room, when they're in or out of their room, what kind of stuff they have in their rooms. It was hard to believe that Bertha, our maid, who was about seventy years old, who walked with a limp and had a dowagers hump, could be plotting against me. But then again- you never know.
And not only that, but the locals (read: drug cartell) can and do watch the movements of everyone on the third floor because the shrubbery doesn't go up that high and there's a clear view to the interior of the rooms. "Just keep your shades down," she said. "And you should be all right." Emphasis on should.

And so I felt, among other things, when I got home a sense of profound relief that we were all home and we were all safe. Payton had a slight sunburn on her cheeks. Alex had gotten a rash from his bracelet. Other than that, we had survived, unscathed.

Anyways, I think it's about time that I started to post some GOOD vacation stories, because believe me, there are lots- and I will do that. Mondays post: parasailing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Gritty Beginnning

Vacation is like childbirth in a way. A less bloody and gory way, generally speaking, depending on what floats your boat. But you tend to, when all is said and done, forget about the bad aspects of it and glorify the good.

Reflecting back on my vacation from last year I remembered nothing but palm trees, hot sun, pina coladas, a stunning view and three kids that might have been a throwback to a fifties sitcom. "Gee Wilikers, Pop, I'd love another soda! That's dandy!" Of course there were moments that were frenzied and chaotic and sometimes even awful - moments where Payton had a temper tantrum or Alex had diarrhea, or God forbid- both. Or the kids spilled their drinks in the restaurant and dumped their food on the floor accidentally on purpose because they were tired and cranky and probably had too much sun.
But those moments, it seemed, were completely forgotten.
Until we went back.

I was so looking forward to that magical moment when our vacation would start, to feel that warm sun our face. We would be glowing under it! Or so I thought.

Strangely, though, I cannot recall with any clarity or precision the moment that I first felt the sun on my face. I was bogged down with three kids, two carry ons, my purse, two fleece blankets, a plush dog and a plush monkey. I trudged down the stairs of the airplane and onto a tarmac, which I realize now must have been hot. Surely it was. But all I remember thinking was "Do I have our passports and our papers" Doing a head count of the kids. Shepherding them onto the bus, holding them close. The thought occurred to me that it was hot, but not in a "Wow this is amazing" way but more in a "Good God could they get some A f'ing C on this  thing? And would it kill the guy next to me to be a little less stingy with his deodorant?" I fanned my face with our passports, but then stuffed them back down into my purse. Would people kill me for my passport? I didn't know. I looked around. They looked like mostly older, white haired touristy people, but you never know.
You never do.

Finally we got to the airport terminal. People were swarmed around the luggage belt, which was spewing out black bags. Thousands of black bags. Ours was one of them. Ours were six of them.

Alex stood too close to the belt and someone nearly took off his head with their suitcase. I picked him up, consoled him, the offending party turned, gave me a dirty look. I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but I wasn't sure if you could be arrested in Mexico for saying fuck or what, so I smiled and muttered sorry while my baby's lip bled on my shirt.

OK there was no blood. I'm just being melodramatic here. But it was not good times in the luggage line. Bloody lip or not.

Then he had to go potty. Then Payton had to go. And then the stroller wouldn't unfold and I was sweating and holding the baby and pushing a now defunct stroller along, or trying to, but the damn thing was being so stubborn. And Geoff was giving me the look, the "I TOLD you not to bring that goddamn stroller!" look.
Yes- we have an "I told you not to bring that goddamn stroller" look. We have a lot of looks.
And did I mention that I was sweating?

And I wasn't sure, when we got to our hotel room an hour or so later, whether to be horrified or proud when my daughter, six, surveyed the room and then declared, quite matter of factly. "This is not acceptable."
"Hey," I told her. "Don't be like that! This is! Just great!"

I looked out the window. It was on the ground floor, facing directly onto a parking lot. Some faded yellow ribbon cordoned off the perimeter, and I wasn't sure if it was crime scene tape or not.
Probably not, I told myself. Hopefully not. It could have just as easily been left over from some kind of a fiesta night or something, although something about that didn't quite ring true. I mean- would you have a fiesta in a parking lot?
I doubted that.
But then again- what do I know about fiesta's?

In the parking lot, a truck pulled up and a couple of lanky looking locals unloaded a donkey (for the fiesta??)off of a flat bed while speaking loudly Spanish. I wasn't sure what they were saying. But they didn't look happy. Neither did the donkey.
The windows didn't lock.
Our room smelled like sewage.
"It's just not what I suspected" Payton told me, hands on hip. "Not at all."
Myself, I find it kind of endearing, but I pity the man who marries her.

But my point is this: all of that stuff was almost immediately forgotten, rather coincidentally, around the same time that I had my first rum and coke on the beach. We upgraded our room and got a beautiful suite with an ocean view. We looked out onto our parking lot (AKA possible crime scene) and said sienera with a stiff upper lip.

 The kids played in the surf, laughing and giggling and throwing sand all around. It was cute- that first day, anyways. After a little while- getting sand in your eye, and most importantly- your drink, not so fun.

We stayed like that until the sun went down and it got cold on the beach.

And, now, honestly, looking back on it- I even think that it was strangely beautiful, being in that crowded airport with the kids, holding them close, carrying that cursed, fleece Monkey blanky around with me, sweating with Alex on my hip.
Because it marked the beginning. A tough and gritty beginning, but beginnings often are?

Anyways- the rest of the vacation?
was perfecto. We went parasailing and swimming with dolphins and on a pirate ship and up in the mountains and to the old down town, our children became performers, we got to know the locals. We had too much fun.

But I'll write more about that later.