Tag Archives: travel

Au Revoir Montreal, Part Deux: Guidebook

After living in NYC, I am frequently asked my favorite highlights by friends heading to the big apple. I have to dig up the same information (what cross street is that on again?) and think of and type out all my recommendations each time. So while I’m still fresh, I thought I’d just consolidate that information right here, right now, in case in the future any of you decide to visit Montreal. And obviously, this is written by someone who does everything with a little kid in tow, so if you are here for the nightclubbing, this review is not for you.

Parks
Parc Lafontaine: in the Plateau is very nice to walk around in almost any season. It has a pond and playgrounds, and in the summer a mini choo-choo train for kids. It’s below Rue Rachel between Ave Parc Lafontaine and Papineau. Closest Metro: Sherbrooke

Westmount Park: Adorable little park with an interesting water-feature and nice playground. Some of the friendliest (and thieving) squirrels in the city. Westmount’s library is nestled in the corner of the park and has a lovely children’s section downstairs. Along Rue Sherbrooke between Melville and Lansdowne. Nearest Metro: Vendôme.

Park Wilfrid Laurier: One of my favorites in the summer. It has really tall trees and a lovely lawn for picnics. The playground is great for mixed ages and it has a fantastic pool and wading pool with fountain. I especially love the wading pool because the bottom is kind of soft and it has a sloped entrance which is really nice for babies and crawlers. It’s free on weekdays and only $4 for adults and like $1 for kids on weekends. Along Rue Laurier between Mentana and Brebeúf. Metro: Laurier

Attractions

Museum of Fine Arts: While not the largest collection, it has many wonderful pieces of European, American, and Canadian art. And there is usually an interesting special exhibit to check out. The museum is free (donation requested) but you need to have a ticket for special exhibits. There is a nice room with puzzles and things for kids, and really shallow “horse steps” going up to each of the floors. My daughter loves climbing them. On Rue Sherbrooke between Bishop and Crescent. Metro: Guy-Concordia.

Old Town Montreal and the Old Port: In the way all old adorable places get super touristy, this area has unfortunately fallen to the temptation of filling its charming streets with tacky souvenir shops and overpriced dining. But there are still a few interesting things to see and the views of the stately, old buildings of the city are quite nice. It’s nice to take a walk around this area and there are a few interesting art galleries here and there. Go on weekends or it will feel a bit desolate. Between Rue Notre Dame Est and towards the waterfront, near Rue Ste-Gabriel. Metro: Champ de Mars.

Botanical Gardens: A gigantic, sprawling garden, or rather series of different gardens, the crown jewel of which is the lovely Chinese Garden, with it’s little temples, lake, bridges, and winding paths. My favorite is the Temple of Infinite Pleasantness, it just sounds like such a nice place to hang out. The Japanese Garden is also very beautiful and quite large. Don’t miss the Shade Garden and the First Nations Garden either. You could spend a lot of time wandering this place, appreciating all the hard work that goes into all the different plants. There is also an indoor system of greehouses featuring different climates’ vegetation. In the early spring, they have a Butterflies Go Free exhibit where you can walk around in a greenhouse filled with free butterflies and their native fruits and flowers. June and July are probably the best months to see all the flowers blooming outside, but if you come in the winter, the Chinese Garden has a temporary exhibit of lit silk lanterns after sundown. It’s breathtaking. At Blvd Pie IX and Sherbrooke Est. Metro: Pie IX.

Marche Jean-Talon Our large semi-permanent, open air, farmers market and various small shops for cheeses and spices and lots of other wonderful things. Jean-Talon is the kind of place you WISH you could buy all your vegetables. It’s only really hopping in the late spring through early fall, but it gets wonderful local produce for good prices and even if you are just visiting, you are bound to find something at one of the stalls or in the surrounding shops. Grab lunch at one of the little places in and around the market and if you are here in June, grab some local strawberries. On Rue Jean-Talon Est at Ave Henri Julien. Metro: Jean-Talon.

Streets to Walk Down

St Laurent between Mont-Royal and Rue Prince Arthur Est, take a left on that and walk down to Square St Louis (so pretty) and through to St Denis, make a right and continue to St Catherine.

St Catherine between Papineau and Downtown

Sherbrooke Oest between Blvd Décarie and Ave Victoria

Ave Du Parc between St Viateur and Mont-Royal

Restaurants and Cafes

I’m not going to pretend that this is in any way comprehensive… my restaurant-ing has been dramatically hampered by the baby-to-preschooler conversion project I’ve been working on as well as income, but here are a few of my favs.

Juliette and Chocolat: One of my favorite places for crepes, actually. And their cocoa menu isn’t too shabby either. Cacao 70 is good too, but their focus is more on chocolate everything and Juliette has really good regular food too. Two locations, one at St Laurent and Prince Arthur Ouest and the other at St Denis between Ontario and Maisonneuve.

Commensal: A vegetarian buffet, lots of interesting salads and warm dishes. Two locations, one on St Denis and one on McGill College Ave downtown. I think it’s rather kid friendly.

Comptoir 21: A cute fish and chips shop, but very good food. St Catherine, just east of Amherst.

Icehouse: A southern, “tex mex,” fried food kind of place. They dump your food on paper in the center the table in sort of the most charming way possible. I like the burrito but really I go for the bourbon lemonade which is pretty much the only thing I want to drink all summer for the rest of my life. The experience/service is a bit brusque, but I’m a NYer so it doesn’t bother me so much. If you can, go on a weekday evening as early as possible as it can get busy (no reservations). Ave Roy, just east of St Laurent.

Cacao 70: A chocolate goo fest. Crepes and desserts and chocolate pizzas… it’s delicious and terrible and wonderful. St Catherine between Panet and Beaudry.

La Mie Matinale: A very small bakery, cafe, sandwich shop. This is a totally personal recommendation. When we first moved to Montreal, I had a tiny baby and no desire to leave the apartment. My husband brought me back sandwiches from here quite frequently. I fell pretty hard for them. If you happen to be nearby, go in and grab a coffee, a pain au chocolate, and a smoked salmon sandwich. It’s my favorite sandwich in all of Montreal and will probably be the one food I miss the most. St Catherine between Panet and Plessis.

I hope you have fun running around Montreal, remember to keep your metro cards until you’ve completed your trip (sometimes they check), bring your winter coats between October and April (and all year except July/Aug if you are from Florida), and yes, the paper money feels like plastic so don’t accidentally throw out stuff in your pockets without looking at it. Bon voyage!

I would like to check one bag and one child please.

We’re getting ready to remove ourselves to our holiday residence at my in-law’s house. On the way, I’ll be stopping briefly in Chicago. I’m very excited! There’s a lot to do before we leave. My daughter and I head out on Friday, my husband the 18th, and the cat, sadly, has to stay home this year. Poor cat.

I didn’t bother decorating since we’re leaving so soon, but I did put up some christmas lights. A certain kid loves them, asks me to turn them on a lot. I usually ask her to do something for me and then I’ll turn them on. That’s where we are these days, EVERYTHING is a negotiation.

I’m worried about the airports and the cars, the new beds and the restaurants. She’s a different kid since we last went anywhere else, she understands more, but her patience is maybe a bit less and she’s far less containable. I’ve been so very lucky with her on airplanes that I’m starting to fear that the other shoe is about to drop. Will this be the trip where TSA has to pry my 2 year old from a plastic tub? Will the passengers on this flight be staring at me with the “oh god, make it stop” faces? Will this be the trip where my ipad battery dies the moment we get into the car?

All these very real fears of parents all over haunt me.

As much as non-parents like to believe that a) travel is just for them and b) all children can be brought down from the throes of meltdown, I have some bad news for them. Kids go places. Especially on the holidays. They have every right to be on the plane as any other ticket holder. (The logic that some adults have that adults are worth more than kids baffles me.) Kids have complex and shaky emotional scaffolds, they haven’t learn to repress, delude, and compensate through years of turmoil and boredom like adults have. If one prefers to see it in a positive light, they are more honest. Loudly honest. So, not all bad behavior by kids on planes can be stopped with any simple procedure. If the parent isn’t even trying, that’s one thing, but we like to hear our kids scream even LESS than strangers do. Trust me.

Anyway, I’m hoping I can negotiate my way from here to there with my 2 year old. I have an arsenal of stickers, apps, videos, and snacks with which to bargain. And if all else fails, I suppose I could tell her Santa’s watching…

Check-in Counter Quandry

I know we have all seen a version of this happen, maybe even participated in it. I am curious as to your thoughts about the following scenario, which I will use as an example.

On our flight home last month, we arrived to check in at the airport precisely 55 minutes before our scheduled departure. We still had to wait in line at the ticketing counter to get our boarding passes, check our luggage, and make sure that our traveling-with-pet status was indicated. The line wasn’t terribly long, but there was only one agent working for most of the time we were in it.

The woman just behind us was nervously surveying the line’s progress and finally asked us what time our flight departed. We told her 4:20pm. She said something like “oh, 20 minutes after mine” and “sorry” and proceeded to cut the entire line and go up to the agent. At this point, her flight left in about 20 minutes, ours in 40. The airline’s policy is that they require 30 minutes in this case.

She was told by the agent, who seemed to accept the line-cutting, that there was no way she could make her flight, especially since she also had a pet and bags to check. The woman was very upset and the agent looked some things up, took about 5 minutes, insisted on her initial assessment and asked the woman to go back to her spot in line (where she had left her luggage) and she would rebook her for a later flight when she came up. All in all, this probably only took 5-8 minutes, but there were probably 10 people waiting before her and at least in our case, getting dangerously close to being late for our own flights.

So, my question for you is this: Was it acceptable for the woman to cut the line because she her flight was about to board?

I don’t know the reason she was late, I don’t know if that matters or not. I don’t know if the 5+ minutes she took away from the people in line resulted in any missed flights, it’s doubtful. We had to rush a bit, but we were cutting it close on our own. We could have been her, I suppose. We were getting into the check-in line with no time to spare, the only difference was that we were just on the other side of the time-limit.

I know that had I been in her shoes, I might have seriously been tempted to do the same thing and I would have felt guilty about it. But as the person in front of her, I slightly resented her cutting and felt like it wasn’t fair because we got there at the same time and she was making me late and I had a pet too. And a toddler. (She told the gate agent it wasn’t fair to make her wait because her dog couldn’t be in the airport that long). I’m curious about what you think. Let me know in the comments if you like.

Wrap-up: The Julia Trip

We were in California for three whole weeks and yet, now that I’m home, it feels like it was only a few days!

We did a lot of cool things, my daughter and I, and I got to know Julia’s toddler too, which was wonderful. But of course Julia has a job that seems to think she needs to come in EVERY weekday for a LONG time. Can you believe that? I wanted to call them up and be all “do you KNOW that I’m here?!”

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about some of the fun things we did, so consider this your full report.

Weekend 1: We rode the little steam engine train at the park in Los Gatos and my daughter also had her first Carousel ride!

The Wildcat Railroad is a real miniature steam engine train. It chugs, it choos, it gets filled with water between trips.


Never too early to learn to keep your heels down…

We also went to the pool and some various playgrounds where our kids tried to dominate the sand toys of other children. Also, the both of the kids in the back seat going places? So fun. We pretty much had to sing OVER the crying.

Week 1: During the week, I played with my daughter at nearby playgrounds during the day and sometimes at Julia’s parents’ house. The weather was pretty amazing: cool in the mornings, warm-getting hot in the afternoons, mild in the evening, and cool at night. I could see myself in this!

Weekend 2: Julia’s mom had a really nice luncheon under the pergola. Not only was the food incredible and gorgeous (like eating in a catalog, people, Gary and Elaine would have been thrilled) but I am hoping to use the phrase “luncheon under the pergola” a lot more in my life. Also, Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread…sigh. I think we also went to the pool and played outside and the kids got very wet at the playground by Julia’s house. I can’t remember. They got wet frequently. They’re toddlers.


borrowing Julia’s sunhat

Week 2: I had trouble keeping my kid on Julia’s kid’s sleeping schedule, she seemed to drift to her home bedtimes despite the time difference. I spent a lot of time taking her to the playground, the grocery store, and trying to ignore the rising heat. We went into San Jose twice on the very convenient 81 bus where we visited the San Jose Museum of Art, the St Joseph Cathedral (for 55% of a mass), and ate really delicious vegan curry-things at the Karma Cafe. The Museum of Art had some really nice interactive programs. You could grab a shoulder bag with art supplies in it to take with you through the museum (my daughter colored) and there was also a pin-making exhibit as part of an artist’s “political campaign” piece. My daughter and I both made pins. There were extra-large “paper dolls” of famous politicians onto which you could put magnetic cut-out clothes, that was fun for her too. My favorite was the exhibit of drawings from Sandow Birk’s “Divine Comedy,” a re-imagining of Dante’s work in modern settings, mostly NYC and LA.

When it finally hit 100 F towards the end of the week, I was ready to take back all the nice things I said about California weather. Even so, 100 there is not like 100 here, it was less humid, they are better prepared for it, so it doesn’t seem quite SO bad, but my Scandinavian blood was hitting a mild simmer. At some point I made Julia a cherry pie, but we were trying not to turn on the oven, so many salads were made for dinner. I might blog about them at some point.

Weekend 3: Since I was leaving on Monday, we crammed a bunch of things into our last weekend. First, we took the kids to the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum. It was fantastic. It had so much to do for all ages of kids, everything hands on, and each of our children found something to fixate on for long periods. I told Julia that they should just install Closed Circuit TV’s, lock the exits, and put in a wine bar where you can watch your kids on screen.

We had Julia’s parents over for dinner on the patio, Julia made some terrific food, also very photogenic (why didn’t I photograph the food?). My daughter finally started going to bed at something approaching the house bedtime, a day before we were leaving…

And we went to the beach! It was an abrupt change of weather, like I knew it would be, but wow. It really was. I forget all the time how much of a differential it is–it was very cool and refreshing 60 F. The kids got their toes wet, took naps, ate fish and chips with us and Julia’s parents on the warm sand. I sunburned my knees. Julia sunburned her nose. The kids were spared due to our diligent sunscreen applications and hat placements and re-placements. Go us!

My daughter and I had lots of good times and I’m SO glad I went. It was a trip that was a long time coming. I will miss the beach, the pool, the playgrounds, the fruit, Trader Joe’s and other fine supermarkets, and Julia’s dishwasher. But most of all, I’ll miss the little things like the kids playing in the bathtub together, learning stuff from each other, the singing of Russian children’s songs, making Julia dinner, and seeing her every night after the kids go to bed. If teleportation existed, you better believe we’d be kicking back almost every night around 9pm PST/12 EST with some vodka-limeade. Since it doesn’t, I hope that our continued electronic correspondance tides us over until the next time I can afford/bear the thought of flying across the continent that obnoxiously gets in the way of our mommy-fun-time.

Thanks Julia, miss you more than dishwashers…

Flying with “Small Children,” aka an Albatross of Your Own Likeness

the plane back from the caribbean dehumidifying


Or How Uncomfortable Can You Stand to Be?

Baby Center re-posted their list of tips for flying with kids on my facebook newsfeed last night, just after I had arrived home from a whole day of air travel. You can see their “article” here:
“Flying with Small Children,” Baby Center, Oct 2011

This article, while containing many informative points on the technical requirements of traveling/booking a flight for yourself and an infant or toddler, seems to have been written only by people who don’t actually do this traveling. They have clearly done the research on the subject on many airlines’ and TSA’s website, but most of this information is known by the common air traveler, even if they haven’t taken kids before. I guess it’s nice of them to put this together in case you DIDN’T know, for instance, that you have to bring ID for your kid to the airport (duh) or that you have to like, um, tell the airline you are traveling with a lap child even if you’re not technically buying a seat for them…

The List of “Important Questions to Ask Before You Fly” on page 2 is HILARIOUS.

First of all, if you actually called your airline and asked even half of these, they would probably hang up on you for being a huge waste of time. If they were exceptionally nice, the call would end with them whimpering “can you please just go read our website?” The questions themselves are just priceless and show an astonishing lack of foreknowledge of how air travel works now. Let me give you some examples:

“Will you require proof of my child’s age and identity? If so, what proof is required, and when do I present it?”
No, you can just bring any infant through an airport without any paperwork, we trust you not to be trafficking babies implicitly because you look so disheveled you have to be a mom. If you have to ask an airline this, they are probably going to flag you for further inspection before boarding. Not to mention “when do I present this ID?” Um, anytime you are asked for it? You will probably be asked for it a lot? Have you been through security lately? Just assume you need to duct tape it to your kid’s head.

A better question would be simply “what proof of ID do I need to bring for the kid?” since sometimes a passport is necessary, and sometimes a birth certificate will do, and SOMETIMES you have to have both plus a letter from the child’s other parent, a copy of their visa, and their hospital bracelet, and a DNA sample.

“Are bassinets available on the flight? When should I reserve one?”
I’m sorry, you are flying coach on a commercial airline? What do you think this is? The 60s? Nothing is available anymore. At this point, if you want a bassinet on a plane, you should probably look into buying your own plane. (Okay, okay, yes a minor number of international flights may offer them, but they have to put in you the bulkhead row and if the flight is super full, as they all seem to be these days, this is going to be tricky and you’ll probably have to pay more).

“Do you allow preboarding for families with small children? If so, will there be a preboarding announcement or do we have to ask at the gate?”
Look, there is pretty much ALWAYS an announcement. Even if there isn’t, can’t you just go up and hand over your boarding passes when they start boarding the plane regardless? It’s not like they’ll turn you away if you have a small kid. Do you really need to ask this ahead of time? Plus, I question the logic of having people with small kids board first. Unless you are desperate for precious overhead bin space that seems to run out somewhere in the 60%-of-plane-boarded range, you really don’t want to be the first people on the flight. You want to enjoy that gate lounge for as long as they’ll let you. Can you let everyone else board and then come get me? That should be what you ask the gate agent. As little time spent contemplating how much you miss having enough space to put down your tray table, the better.

“Can we bring our stroller on board?”
Have you seen the aisles of a commercial aircraft? See above bit about running out of overhead bin space. Even if they SAY you are allowed, you better believe they’re going to make you gate check that shit.

“Do you have diaper-changing facilities on the aircraft?”
Oh, you must mean the tray table!

“Do you offer children’s meals? What’s included? How far in advance should I order one?”
Are you serious? They don’t even offer adult meals anymore! Unless you are flying long-distance international, expect that all they will have is a snack or sandwich available for purchase at outrageous expense. Bring your own damn food, there’s your answer.

“Are diapers, formula, baby food, or other amenities available on board?”
Bwahahahahahahaha….. I really want to be there when someone asks a flight attendant before takeoff this question after having been informed by someone at Customer Service that “sure, we stock all kinds of baby supplies on our flights.” No. The answer is no. Unless duty-free carries diapers now…

“Can my spouse or loved one get security clearance to accompany me to the departure gate if I need assistance?”
Does your spouse have a ticket? Then no. Would you like to buy them the cheapest ticket possible for that airport on that day? Then, have them accused of being a terrorist because they are flying one way on the cheapest possible flight and you and their progeny are going off on another plane? That sounds like fun for the whole family. If you think you need assistance from the check-in desk to your gate, you are NEVER going to survive this whole air-travel thing. Stay home.

“Do you offer assistance with maneuvering through the terminal when making connecting flights? How can I arrange for that?”
Okay! Finally a good question! A useful question! Short answer: you can probably pay for it. Or wait around for a golf cart person to come collect you and some other disabled person from your flight. But at that point, your toddler will have run to the nearest moving beltway, so what’s the point?

I have half a mind to write my own list of Air Travel with Small Children Tips, not that I’m an expert by any stretch. I have done it quite a bit since my daughter was born, but only between 3 countries, and I never take strollers or plane-seat car seats or anything, so I can’t help you there. To be honest, much of this information about car seats on flights confuses me as I have NEVER seen anyone use one. Even the tiny babies are held, the older kids get their own seat once they hit two years old. Almost everyone is trying to avoid paying anything extra for kids under 2. When September rolls around and my daughter can no longer fly free, I may never go anywhere again.

So I guess I better get these Tips written out soon before I forget. In the mean time, this blog has a pretty amazing post on the subject:
“Tips for Flying Alone with Kids” at Aintnomomjeans.com

Reunion!

After 2 loooong years apart, a baby and a major move each, Julia and I have finally been reunited!

My daughter and I landed in California on Wednesday afternoon (after an oh-so-delightful 5 hour flight that made me want to weep for the sad state of airline seat/leg room) and my daughter and Julia’s son met for the first time. They are pretty cute together. Even though Julia’s son is pretty shy, he’s been doing well with us around.

I think I can speak for both of us when I say that Julia and I are ecstatic to be back together; it has been way too long. She is a busy working mom so, she still has to go to work every weekday, but we are maximizing our evenings and weekends. I don’t think she’s joking when she asks me to move in and be her stay-at-home mom, but I am pretty sure she would find out how annoying I really am after a few weeks.

Today, we took the kids to ride a miniature steam-locomotive train (a “parovoz” in Russian, I have learned, I always learn new Russian words with Julia) and my daughter got to ride on her first Carousel. We went to the pool, the playground, ate dinner outside… it has been a lovely start to the visit.

I hope to keep up with posting while I’m here, but I might be off being fabulous. Hooray for bi-coastal friends.

Back in the old neighborhood…

I have been a little pre-occupied lately, so I’m sorry for the lack of posts. There was Mother’s Day in Canada (different from US, mom, yours is still this weekend). I was appreciated with breakfast and gifts and a card drawn with crayons. Then, I began packing for some serious travel. I left on Wednesday morning for the 8 hour train excursion that would bring me back to Western New York, home of my ancestors and the Pink Stripe Cookie.

So, I haven’t been very good at staying on top of my iLife. I’m behind on gmail, hotmail, facebook, pinterest, and all my blog reading. I’m behind on the New York Times! I may never catch up.

But I’m here, all my 90 lbs of luggage is here. I made it to a rehearsal tonight for a recital I’m playing in on Saturday. The toddler is happy to have the run of the house, the run of the sidewalks, the run of the backyard, and a grandmother and an aunt to pay attention to her.

I am still waiting on those Pink Stripe Cookies…

Burlington, I barely knew ye

So I traveled home, and made it alive, no one cried. Win.

I checked my 50.5 lb suitcase at 9:55am and began my trip back on Wednesday.

I had to fly through Newark, where I sat at my next flight’s gate and thought about 2 things:

1. That I was a mere 20 minutes away from the city I think of as home and all these amazing things to eat, see, do, buy… Cruel Newark layover. I nearly left the airport and went to spend a few days in NYC, planning to return for my connection later and claiming toddler meltdown/temporary insanity (they’re the same thing, right?).

2. The gate next to me has a direct flight to Montreal. Leaving at the same time as my flight to Burlington, Vermont. This is a pretty mean thing to do to me, right now, Newark. You’ve always been a cruel city to me though, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I had booked my tickets in and out of Burlington because it’s so much cheaper and you can take a Greyhound bus from the airport to the bus station here which is only 2 subway stops from my place. Well, that bus is 2.5 hours. I was supposed to land at 3:30pm and take the 7pm bus. That’s 3.5 hours, I repeat 3.5 hours in the tiniest of airports not better described as airfields with a 19 month old. Shudder.

I had in my mind, a vision, a desperate hope that this all would go a bit easier because I knew that the buses from the airport to Montreal almost always run significantly late. Therefore, the 3pm bus that I was missing my a half hour could very well be late and I may be able to catch it instead of waiting for the 7pm bus. You can understand my frustration when the board at my gate in Newark posted that my flight was 45 minutes delayed.

Apparently, nothing can beat a Greyhound delay. I landed at 4:15pm and rushed to the bus-desk and the 3pm bus had not yet arrived. Whew. I spent 45 minute or so letting my daughter run around and get hours of plane confinement out before a few more hours of bus/subway confinement. The bus finally left at 5:15pm.

I had by this point burned through almost all my planned activities (stickers, books, toys). I fed my kid some snacks, tried to get her to watch things out of the window, and then, eventually, let her watch videos on my laptop for an hour.

I had a sinking feeling that by the time I got my suitcase and toddler through the bus station and onto the subway that a tantrum would be in short order, but due to a wonderful revelation from earlier that my kid loves riding ON my rolly suitcase like it’s her own personal luggage-pony, we sailed (except for stairs where we gasped) to the train. Two stops, no problem.

Home. We even had time for some food and a bath. It was a tiring day, but it could not have gone better.

Well, except for Newark being cruel. (Casts eyes irritably towards NJ…)

Travel amnesia

Remember how back in January I said that it would take a few months for me to forget how much it sucks to travel with a tiny kid and start thinking it would be a good idea to leave home and go somewhere?

Well. I am here at my in-laws, while my husband is away on a research trip for 2 weeks. It’s nice to be somewhere while he’s away, but oh my god does traveling suck.

And to her credit, my daughter did great. To my credit, my activities lasted JUST long enough to get us here. The car from the airport to grandma/grandpa’s house was the most unpleasant part, at the very bitter end and past bedtime, so it was totally understandable.

I feel like I’ve been herding sheep all day or something. I may have said “no this way” about 10 million times today. My carry-on weighs 45lbs.

Now, I’m going to go collapse and try to forget that I have to do this all again in week.

The Fringe Curtains

When I am in Chicago, as I am usually once a year or so, I like to stay at The Hotel Palomar since they have ridiculously nice bathtubs. You have now all learned something important about me.

Anyway, the Hotel Palomar has special significance for Julia and I because we had our baby celebration there back when we were only 4-5 months pregnant. During that weekend, my sister fell in love with the fringe curtains in the lobby lounge and insisted we take photos in front of them. The tradition sort of stuck:

April 2010, 4 months pregnant (I miss you, waistline!!)

November 2010

January 2012