Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dreaming of Vacation

I’m dreaming of the trip we are going to take this summer!  With teaching behind me, I am itching to make some decisions, so I can feel like it’s really here.

Originally, we had planned to go to Boston for a few days, and then on to Ireland.  We had wanted to go to England, but with the Olympics starting in late July, we can’t be bothered with all those people that will be traveling around the U.K.  Flights to anywhere in Europe are so expensive this summer!  After watching prices for a few months, I just don’t have the gall to spend this much money to get to Ireland.  If I were flying to the Middle East or Asia, I might justify the high price, but it should be at least $500 less than it is to get to Ireland right now.  Ugh!

I thought we could possibly go to Costa Rica, but I do not have the heart to expose my daughter to all the bugs.  Perhaps I’m a fool, or ignorant, but we have decided upon Puerto Rico as our destination.  I have no idea if it has just as many bugs, but in reading reviews, people didn’t mention it.  With flights from L.A. being 9-10 hours with U.S. stops, we are splitting up the travel, just as we had planned to do with getting to Ireland.  We’re going to Fort Lauderdale, Florida!  We’ll wander South Florida for a few days, and then head on to Puerto Rico.  I’ve only landed in Miami, so I would love to explore a little bit of Florida.  My husband has not been as far south in FL, so he’s excited to check it out as well.  Here are the two rentals we are weighing from vrbo.com:

OPTION 1:  POMPANO BEACH, 20 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale

It’s a 1 bedroom condo, on the ground floor, ½ of a block from the beach.  It looks clean and nicely decorated.  The price is about the same as option 2, but we would have to rent a crib, so that is an added expense. 

There’s a pool, free parking, and wi-fi.  Looks nice, right?


It’s also a 1 bedroom, but it is a beach cottage, so a bit more private.  It’s a 6 minute walk to the beach.  It also looks clean, and it has charm.  A free crib is included.  There is no pool, but if offers free parking and Internet. 

Which one would you pick?

Photos: 1) Fort Lauderdale, Florida http://arithmetaiuniversity.org/  2) Pompano Beach, Florida http://www.extraholidays.com/ 3) Pompano Beach unit, vrbo  4) Fort Lauderdale unit, vrbo

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Redefining Myself

I played soccer in college and coached high school soccer in the off season, so by the time I graduated my identity was very much wrapped around being an athlete.  While I was student teaching the following spring, I tore my ACL playing in a spring league.  Since I couldn’t take any time off while student teaching, I had to wait three months to have surgery, and then it was another six months of physical therapy and such before I could really start exercising regularly.  During that time I learned to adjust to a new version of myself.  It seems like there are moments in our lives like these that call for us to shift who we are.

 Now that I am a mom, I am here again, changing, but also trying to remain true to myself.  A huge part of me is adventure, so I romantically envisioned myself with my baby on my back, but continuing on.  I’m finding it a bit more complicated, though.  In trying to decide upon a travel destination, we considered Costa Rica.  My parents bravely moved our family to Costa Rica when I was 11 months old.  If they can do it, I can visit there for a week, right?  I had an amazing time with 3 of my girlfriends over a Spring Break several years ago.  I would feel totally comfortable taking my daughter there.  Then reality hits.

We have to go in the summer, rainy season.  No problem; she’ll need afternoon naps every day, anyways!  Then I envision our car stuck in the mud, or rolling over, with my sweet little girl.  Who is this person?  I have never been one to think of these scenarios.  Stop it!  Then I remember the flying cockroaches.  They won’t hurt her—it’s okay.  Oh, but those mosquitoes.  No big deal when it’s just me, but my precious baby?  I don’t want her to have to suffer.  Can I put Jungle Juice on my 1 year old?  Probably not.  Hmmm…

As I read the descriptions of all the great things to do, I want to go zip lining again.  It was my favorite.  Ele can just ride with me, right?  Or Rick can just hold her while I go, and then he can go.  Maybe we can ride horses?  Oh, I suppose we shouldn’t.  

I will take our girl to Costa Rica, but maybe not while she’s this young, too young for malaria pills, it seems.  I don’t want to allow for my fears to take over.  I want to teach Ele to be a risk taker, and traveling is such a great way to teach her so many things.  I know that we would have an amazing trip with her if we did go, but I am going to try another idea, and hope this one doesn’t get cast down as I try to keep that piece of myself that I love.

All pictures taken by me on an old fashioned film camera! 1) Monteverde Cloud Rain Forest 2)Manuel Antonio National Park 3) Dominical 4) Monteverde Cloud Rain Forest

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

San Francisco

Since having a baby, we’ve taken two road trips.  The first was comfortable—an hour and a half getaway to San Diego.  We spent the week exploring a different part of the city, slowed down by the demands of a napping and hungry four month old.  Ele did really well, though, so I was emboldened to try something further away.  We picked Angels Camp, which ended up being about an eight hour drive from home.  We broke up the drive by heading to Bakersfield for the night, to pick up my dad, who was joining us for the week.  Since Ele only naps twice a day, now, there was a lot more flexibility.  We spent the week training her to nap when we were in the car, and I entertained her on the drives when it wasn’t time to nap.  It was a success, and Ele is quite comfortable in her car seat because of it!

I won a travel blog contest through Wyndham’s Women on Their Way (Hooray!), and they invited us to stay in a four star hotel in downtown San Francisco.  Who can pass that up?  We decided it would be our first flight with Ele, so we packed our bags—one for us, and one for Ele.  It’s amazing how much gear a baby needs, and we really streamlined things.  Since we had to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, I played it safe and brought the car seat, too.  The great thing is, since we flew on a Wednesday and Saturday in May, the flights were not full, so Ele was able to sit in her car seat in her own seat both ways.  I’m not expecting that when we fly across the country this summer!

The Parc 55 Wyndham was beautiful, and I really enjoyed meeting some of the other blog contest winners—6 of the 10 of us were there.  I’m honored to be a part of the group, as the other women are pretty amazing.  The hotel provided a crib and refrigerator, so it was pretty easy for us.  We were right by Union Square, so we could walk along Market Street, down to the Embarcadero and back, without any hills.  On Friday we decided to wander, so we put Ele in our little backpack carrier and hit the streets. 

One of our favorite things to do in a city is to just start exploring.  We headed towards Chinatown, checking out the stores and people as we ambled.  Ele absolutely loved being in a city with tons of people.  She had started to say hi to people a few weeks earlier, but with a person everywhere we turned, she adored the attention and responses to her friendliness.  We’ve noticed that people are so much more open and willing to speak to us now that we have a baby.  

For lunch we hit our favorite Chinese restaurant, the House of Nanking.  We ended up sharing a table with a mother and daughter from Tennessee in the city for the first time, and enjoyed their excitement.  Ele especially liked the sweet potatoes on my plate.  From there we headed a little through North Beach, but then through a neighborhood I hadn’t checked out before.  There were some charming boutiques and some really nice antique stores.  It’s been awhile since we’d been to the Embarcadero, and it is so much nicer than it used to be.  The stores and restaurants in there are something we will have to check out again. 

We followed the water front and walked to Pier 39.  We visited the sea lions, but Ele was far more interested in grabbing the attention of all the people that were gathered to see the sea lions.  As we waited in line to catch the cable car, we met a nice couple from Ohio who had driven across the country in their motor home over the past month.  The next day their nephew was getting married in the Japanese gardens in Golden Gate park.  That must have been a beautiful wedding, as the weather could not have been more perfect.  Ele’s first cable car experience was trumped again by her interest in entertaining the passengers!

The next day we had a couple of hours before we had to head to the airport.  After a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel concierge, we wandered down Market Street and discovered Yerba Buena Gardens.  It was a really cool area, with museums, a charming French restaurant, and a live jazz concert in the park.  We’ll definitely head back here when Ele is walking, as there’s a children’s park with a museum, carousel, and playground.  Ele was so excited to have a chance to crawl in the grass while we enjoyed the live music. 

I love San Francisco, but it is quite a different experience with an infant.  Traveling with a baby is awesome, but we have really had to rethink the way that we travel, the activities we plan, and the pace that we go.  We’re still trying to figure it out, as we try to plan for taking her overseas this summer!

All photos taken by Rick McDonough 1) View from our hotel room, Parc 55 2) Chinatown Graffiti 3) Embarcadero neighborhood 4) Ele 5) Chinatown 6) Yerba Buena Gardens 7) Night view from our hotel