travel

The Romantic Getaway of My 8th Grade Dreams

I’m about to embark on the romantic getaway that I’ve fantasized about since I was in 8th grade. I knew, without a doubt, that when I got married, I wanted my sweetheart and I to honeymoon at the Pink Flamingo in fabulous Laughlin, Nevada.

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It’s as beautiful as I remember it. (Not my picture. I found it on the Internet, specifically here.)

I went on a family trip and was dazzled by the neon lights and white wine at the most adult place I’d ever beheld. One day, this would be for me, with no adult figures to run the show and no younger kids for me to keep an eye on. And no other 8th graders, because they’re terrible, too, and Christy thinks she’s such a big deal because she’s allowed to wear a bikini top. And at the casino, I wouldn’t have to stay on the red part of the carpet, approved for those underage, as I made my way from my hotel room to the seafood buffet.

I would drink all the Jack Daniels Lynchburg Lemonade I wanted. And I bet I’d want like three of them. Who’s to stop me? I could wear a swimsuit with no XL t-shirt over it. True, no one was stopping me from doing that as a 13-year-old, but I assumed that as a honeymooner, I would be more beautiful, confident, and generally radiant in my one-piece (but maybe French-cut!) swimsuit. It would be black, because I would be classy, and because I was less than thrilled about what I dubbed my Amazing Technicolor Dream Suit, a tie-dye looking number with a high, mock-turtleneck-style neckline that I had to special-order for swim team. (It was theorized that my big boobs were slowing me down and keeping the Greentree Gators from attaining their full glory. Alas, the special-ordered suit didn’t keep me out of the slow lane.)

Did I mention the high level of romance in this magical town? A lot of people take their Sea-Doos to the river, but frankly, with the amount of fancy dinner I’m going to be eating with my sweetheart, I doubt we’ll even get down to the river. I will of course bring my fancy black one-piece just in case. I will probably find some kind of a cover-up that isn’t a t-shirt, because of the sunburn potential and also I don’t want my handsome new husband to see my legs. By the way, he’ll definitely be taller than me, and I envision him having dark brown hair that’s kind of poofy, but it doesn’t really matter as long as we’re happy and all the other girls are jealous of how handsome he his.

I’ve already envisioned what I’m going to wear in *the evening,* if you catch my meaning. The after-dinner part of the evening. On my honeymoon. In the hotel room. I will for sure have big curls, which now that I think about it causes a logistical challenge because here in the future I no longer have access to hot rollers. But still. Big curls. I will wear the sexiest thing I can think of: A full-length, black, satin slip, with lace trim on the bottom (to add a little extra length, so my sweetheart doesn’t have to see the tops of my knees or God forbid my upper legs), and lace on the top as well. Not see-through lace, but lace sewn over the satin on the top. It wouldn’t show any cleavage, but you could still see my collarbone. It would have spaghetti straps, because when you’re on your honeymoon, you can’t get sent to the Vice Principal’s office for wearing something sleeveless. It would not be too tight, because that would probably be unflattering. So basically I’m describing a loose-fitting sundress, the most romantic nightwear of all. We won’t do anything on the first night but kiss, because we’ll need some time to get comfortable with each other. Plus we probably won’t want to have a baby straight away, and I don’t know of any methods of birth control besides abstinence and sterilization. But I would look awesome in my satin sundress/nightgown, and I would drink a white wine spritzer. And there should be chocolate-covered strawberries in the hotel room, because this is a special occasion. And then when we went downstairs for mochas the next morning, maybe people would look at us like they knew we’d been kissing the night before, but we wouldn’t care. Our love would be stronger than their judgement.

Well, kids, the time has finally come. Sadly, we didn’t make it to Laughlin for our honeymoon, but twelve years into a marriage is as good a time as any to live the life of your dreams.

Andy and I have been absolutely terrible at planning date nights since Charlie was born, but we’ve done a fantastic job of planning quarterly, out-of-town fuckfests. It’s hard to make out when you live with a toddler, turns out.

So while I might not have the full-length romantic sundress/nightgown I envisioned, I may not have the hot rollers I require, and the goddamn Pink Flamingo may have betrayed me by closing down, by I’ll be damned if I’m not going to get the Romantic Adult Vacation I’ve been dreaming of for the last two decades.

Next up on Teenage Kate’s Romantic Getaway Roster, I aspire to go to San Diego with my sweetheart. But I will only go to Sea World for maybe a really fancy dinner. The rest of the time, we’re going to go to walk on the beach, where I’ll wear a giant floppy sunhat and linen pants. And a sleeveless top. Because I’m a sexy and confident grown-up out on a romantic getaway.

Unsolicited Book Review: Reasons Mommy Drinks

Me & Charlie in our hip, old-timer, high-ceilinged, non-baby-friendly hotel room.

Me & Charlie in our hip, old-timey, high-ceilinged, non-baby-friendly hotel room.

When Charlie and I went to Oakland a couple weeks ago for my college roommate’s wedding, I made the rookie mistake of leaving the charger for my iPhone/iPad on the bedside table at The Washington Inn. (Mini-hotel review: Lovely for grown-ups; not baby-friendly. No cribs, not stroller[/cane]-friendly. But way cuter than a Courtyard Marriott, so no regrets.) This meant an electronics-free flight home, including the three-hour layover in Denver. No Twitter feed to consume, no Scrabble to play, no audio book to listen to, no eBook to read. On the way to California, I had Charlie in my arms all six hours and wasn’t able to do any of those things anyway, but Southwest had extra seats on the way back and were letting me bring the car seat. I would suddenly be a woman of leisure.

I don’t think I’ve gone to the “Humor” section of a book store since 6th grade, at which time I remember it being entirely stocked with Garfield coffee-table books. But the “Up-Its-Own-Ass Fiction” aisle of the Hudson Books at the Denver Airport was blocked by oversize luggage, and “Humor” is where I was able to fit the stroller. Somehow, I felt that losing a $58 charger meant I was entitled to go spend $26 at the airport bookstore. I bought a mom book for me (Reasons Mommy Drinks), a board book for Charlie (Little Owl Lost), and a Godiva chocolate bar (raspberry truffle) for immediate consumption. After all, I’ve earned it!

I was hesitant to purchase Reasons Mommy Drinks, by Lyranda Martin-Evans and Fiona Stevenson, largely because it seemed so very up my ally that I was concerned it would seep into my unconscious and I would accidentally steal their jokes. (Some of my best zingers in life end up being Simpsons references I forget had been burned into my brain.) But I learned a valuable lesson when Andy and I were on our relaxing Hawaiian honeymoon nine years ago and I bought Anna Karinina for beach reading: Don’t buy Anna Karinina for beach reading.

I read it all by myself!This book touts that it “includes 100 cocktail recipes to enjoy in your zero free time.” They speak my language. The book was funny and EASY TO READ, which is a must when you’ve got a book in one arm and a baby on the other. Every anecdote is no more than one page, with the accompanying cocktail recipe on the facing page. The biggest endorsement I can give this book is that I actually finished reading it. That’s not a thing that happens anymore. I’ve been trying to get through the last 10 pages of my August edition of Real Simple magazine since I brought it in my hospital bag for Charlie’s birth. I’m never going to learn how to make a 20-minute pasta dish with fresh summer vegetables. But now I theoretically know how to make 100 cocktails, and that’s something. These ladies also have a super-famous mom-blog, which I’d never heard go because the only blog in the universe is this one.

Anyway, you should read this book, or buy it as a gift for the sassy mom in your life. Little Owl Lost was a pretty good purchase, too. And that chocolate bar was fantastic.

Mommy Ruins the Wedding

Charlie just finished up his second cross-country trip, and has continued to be the travel champion of the world. For those of you wondering about flying with infants, so far we give an A++ to Virgin America and Southwest, and an A to JetBlue. And an A++ to the traveling public, who restored my faith in humanity this trip. Everyone was delighted to see a cute baby get on their flight (WHAT?!), and I was offered more help than I could use getting our gear through security, folded, & stowed on the plane. Maybe it’s the time of year; lots of people were traveling specifically to spend Thanksgiving with their favorite tiny humans. Or maybe riding the Metro while pregnant gave me a skewed view of the damnable human race. But either way, I highly endorse traveling alone with a cane and an infant. Charlie slept the whole way there and the whole way back, with one short break for bouncing and singing songs. No sweat.

But this is not the story I come here to tell. We went to Oakland for my college roommate’s wedding. We arrived downtown around 1:00 pm for the 6:00 pm affair, having been awake and in action since 1:00 am local time. We couldn’t check into the hotel for another two hours, so we wandered the Sunday wasteland around Oakland’s convention center looking for a lunchtime establishment that was A) open and B) able to accommodate a stroller. I’d neglected to eat any meals up to that point and was feeling it. After we’d wandered for an hour and a half, we ate at Burger King, where a hobo spilled a little coffee on Charlie. He was a champ through all of this, & was just barely getting fussy towards the end as he was getting hungry himself.

By the time we got to our room, I’d decided that Oakland was a city entirely lacking in charm. We got ourselves cleaned up & took a quick nap that was very slightly too long for me to get us wedding-ready at a leisurely pace. The venue was an old movie house, a one-mile walk from our hotel. We were advised to get there early to get a drink and some popcorn. “Early” was not going to happen, but if I ran with my stroller & dress shoes, we could do “on time.”

One mile and some knee-sweat later: We made it! I got a cup of delicious I.P.A. at the concessions counter, put it in the cup holder of the stroller, and waltzed into the theatre with seven whole minutes to spare. I said some cheerful hellos to old friends as Charlie started lightly fussing. No problem, I can squeeze in a diaper change before the ceremony starts, so let’s just . . . Hmm. I seem to have left the diaper bag in the hotel room.

Hmm.

. . . Hmm.

Well, he’s in pretty good shape; I bet it will keep through the ceremony and I can go back to the hotel after and meet everyone at the reception. Jessica starts to walk down the aisle. She’s beautiful. Everyone stands up and claps. Charlie takes one look at this lovely moment, and starts SCREAMING.

Shit shit shit okay back in the stroller I’ll roll you to the lobby AS FAST AS I CAN and shit shit shit there was still a full cup of I.P.A. in the cup holder and now it’s all over the floor and stroller and baby blanket and I’ll just throw down these napkins real quick and fuck fuck fuck shh shh shh it’s okay let’s go to the lobby but first go down the hall so your screams can be acoustically amplified.

We make it to the lobby, sit in a chair, and I whip my boob out with absolutely no concern for modesty, and latch my red-faced, fat-teared, flailing baby to my bosom with all haste. He still has a wet diaper, but after 10 minutes of feeding he’s down to a mild whimper. We can go back in and sit down.

“And Neil, every day, wake up an be grateful that Jessica was willing to marry down.” And the guests laugh. Charlie inhales, and “BAHWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! AAUGGH! AAUGGH! AAUGGGGGGHH!” And no sooner had we sat than we were leaping to our feet and out to the lobby. (This time with no stroller, for the protection of the half-cup of I.P.A. that I fully intended to drink at some point in my life.)

Boob out fast as lightening. Nursing and slowly lowering the volume of the freakout. The lobby is a happening venue in and of itself; it’s a little cafe where people are looking to have a nice conversation with their friends over their unspilled ales. By moving to the lobby, I have not kept us from disturbing the public peace; I’ve merely mitigated the extent to which we’re ruining a wedding.
Okay, I think we can go back in now.

“. . . Man and wife!” And everyone cheers. And it’s over. Charlie’s mostly better, except for looking like he’d just been pulled from the wreckage of a sinking ship. Seriously, look how beat he looks.

It’s exhausting to be the saddest baby in the world.

I assure everyone who will listen that he’s a wonderful baby; he just has a terrible mother who left the diaper bag at the hotel. I took him to see A PLAY the day before, for Pete’s sake, and he was FINE. (It was an all-ages children’s play; I’m not a monster.) But anyway I have to go get that diaper bag now, so I’ll see you all again in like 45 minutes. But first I’m going to chug the parts of my beer that didn’t soak into my Graco SmoothRide.

My bones and skin and back, at this point, hurt like woah. Cross-country travel, fibromyalgia, spine stuff, a baby, and 3-ish miles of hungry stroller-pushing do not make for a happy body-feel. Across the street from the venue is the Koreana Plaza. I decide to see if they can save me.

"Green Tissue." Probably fine for your baby's ass.

“Green Tissue.” Probably fine for your baby’s ass.

Apart from my beloved fast-food establishments, elaborate Asian grocers are one of my top don’t-miss-it-until-it’s-gone parts of California living. I would only go to the big Japanese market in Costa Mesa about once a year when we we lived there, but I would get all the Sanrio office supplies and Pocari Sweat I’d need for the foreseeable future and go on about my business. The Koreana Plaza was a similar wonderland. As much as I wanted to browse the aisles in search of the perfect Little Twin Stars notebook set, Charlie still looked like the victim of a fraternity hazing, so I focused on my mission. I had no luck finding such a thing on my own, so I asked the man behind the tobacco counter if they had diapers. He responded with whatever is Korean for “I don’t understand your question.” So I pulled the blanket off Charlie & poked his squishy crotch area. “Diapers?”
“Ah! Maybe 3-A. On Right. Maybe.”
“Hooray. Thank you for your help!”
And behold, in aisle 3-A, on the corner of the top shelf, we’re three dusty packs of size 2 Huggies that had been up there since the Clinton administration. Mine! Officially, Charlie graduated to size 3 earlier this week. Unofficially, we’re saved, we’re saved!! How about wipes? Well, next to the spatulas is something labeled “Green Tissue,” with all of the rest of the information being labeled in Korean. But, on the back of the package was a small picture of other products from this brand, including a bottle with cartoon characters on it. So let’s say these are for babies and not for scrubbing floors.

 

We're saved!

We’re saved!

I grab a couple packs of the Korean equivalent of Pocky for good measure, and we are checking out and on our way. I have  by now fully reversed my opinion about Oakland being without charm, and I successfully clean Charlie up with the products purchased.
We get back to the ceremony venue in time to walk with the group to the reception at the Telegraph Beer Garden. It takes Charlie some time to come to terms with the fact that his reason for sadness has been removed, and he fusses for a little while. But eventually, he falls asleep in his stroller, and Mommy celebrates with a series of good decisions consumed simultaneously.

Not pictured: the delicious, hoppy beer at my left side. I EARNED THEM ALL!
(Please note: Charlie is asleep and in my line of vision, but outside of the range of the smokers. No hate mail.)

My friends are the best. I love them and they loved Charlie, even though they only got to experience him in the midst of his worst (bad-mommy-induced) fit I’d yet to witness. After I shoved as much of the donut wedding cake in my mouth as possible and finally drank an entire glass of delicious I.P.A., the loud music got to be a bit much for Charlie and he started fussing again. We excused ourselves just a touch early because he was ready to be done. I had asked a lot of him that day, and he did his best. I may have been sad to miss the remainder of the festivities, except that the whole walk back to the hotel, Charlie babbled and giggled to me like it was his job. When we settled in for the night, he spent the remainder of the evening being every bit as happy as he’d previously been unhappy.

So, maybe we came 2,900 miles to see 35 non-consecutive seconds of a wedding. But it was a fantastic, totally worthwhile trip, and Charlie is a great travel companion. A++; would do again.

Fashion Tips for Pregos: Compression Sock Edition

I’ve done more traveling in the last few weeks than I’d done in the previous couple years. Which is to say I took two trips on airplanes. You’ve already seen the magnificent photo of my in my maternity swimsuit in Florida, so your life should pretty much be complete. But clearly you crave more information about the fashion choices of a jet-setting 6-month pregnant lady. In that case, you should know about the prominent role played by compression socks.

Me and Andy at the airport on our way out of Florida. We're sad because vacation is over, and also because it's time to put on my compression socks.

Me and Andy at the airport on our way out of Florida. We’re sad because vacation is over, and also because it’s time to put on my compression socks.

These need to be worn by pregnant ladies traveling by air to reduce the risk of blood clots, and, more importantly for me, to keep those varicose veins from becoming any more heinous than they already are. The socks are pretty much made of seat belts, and at least in our household, it’s a two-person job to get them on. I recommend undertaking this activity in the waiting area by the gate of your flight, because it’s quite the show and you’ll be wanting a captive audience. I was flying solo to and from California for my shower last weekend though, so I had to adapt the double act to a graceful, one-person ballet. It got the job done, but this particular airport-based physical comedy routine works better with two players. I look forward to getting the act back together for future flights (of which I hope there are none, since I’m in my third trimester now and would prefer to stay on the couch/not go into labor while connecting at Dallas Fort Worth).

Compression socks and stockings are recommended for daily use in those of us who are knocked up, and officially you’re supposed to put them on first thing in the morning and take them off before you go to bed. Unofficially, you just need to wear them on airplanes so that your legs don’t explode. I did buy the recommended maternity compression tights. I wore them once. I shan’t wear them again. I used all my physical strength getting them on the first time and now I’m dead.

At this point, my plan for dealing with my truly marvelous varicose veins is to have this child, and then promptly attack my legs with laser beams.

My baby shower in California last weekend, by the way, was super lovely. I may or may not post more about it later; I haven’t yet figured out the most appropriate and entertaining way to blog about it yet. Top contenders are “It was lovely! Here are pictures!” (appropriate) and “Here’s the story about the guest(s) whose behavior was comically terrible!” (entertaining). I’m leaning towards the one with the pretty pictures.