Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vacation Success!

On our way down Hunter Mountain!
Hello, friends! So, you may have noticed (at least I hope you did) that I’ve been pretty quiet over the last week. That’s because we were on our first official family vacation of the year! We rented a house in the Catskills with a group of friends (a yearly tradition) and spent time enjoying some much-needed relaxation in front of a TV, fireplace, and on the mountain – playing disc golf and enjoying some park time! We also had many good cooks among us who created some delicious meals including ziti with homemade sauce, taco soup and nachos, and baguette French toast with cinnamon butter glaze (drools). After E was in bed, we drank too much wine and soda and stayed up until all hours playing Cards Against Humanity – oh the inappropriate humor! I woke up every morning sore from laughing.

E did great on the trip, but the fact remains that we brought a toddler to an otherwise adult party. I felt bad when people held back their swearing, and I insisted that we didn’t mind. I felt guilty when, after a night of restlessness, she cried and whined a lot for most of the next day. Typical toddler behavior that I dealt with as patiently as I could.

Dinnertime! Scarf it, Mark!
When we arrived the first night, we were surprised to find that the half of the house that was shown online, the main living area, was, indeed, beautifully kept, had a nice, new kitchen and cozy fireplace – but the other half of the house looked like something out of a 1970s horror movie – teal wood paneling, half detached from the wall, nails sticking out in places; cobwebs and closet-spiders galore; and rickety old beds with equally old bedding (though it smelled clean). Over my bed, I even found what I believed to be blood spatter. I’ve seen enough episodes of Forensic Files to recognize the aftermath of blunt-force trauma, and I was certain I had uncovered evidence of a grizzly murder scene… or possibly a nail-painting session gone awry in the 1980s with polish shade #105 – Like, Totally Wicked Red. It’s anyone’s guess, but as I curled up in bed with my True Crime novel, my mind wandered, and my anxiety rose.

Frosting cupcakes with Nancy!
Also, E woke up during the night and stood against the wood paneling, banging her head into it, and whimpering. It was not unlike something out of The Ring, and I quickly walked her back to her bed. The next morning, my friend, Angie, woke with stories of the hallway lights turning off on their own, twice, during the night. How creepy!

But, as usually happens, the light of day makes a place seem a little less serial-killer motif and a little more “campy.” We slept well, settled into a routine, and E went about making herself at home. I am proud to say that, despite the nails sticking out of the walls, granite floors and countertops, large fireplace, an island in the middle of the kitchen, a very loose railing in the loft, and boards propped up against walls to conceal wires and other dangers, E did not have one mishap while we were there. A few tumbles on the floor as usual, and a slightly pinched finger in the radiator were the worst of our physical disasters.

Our friends kindly ignored some typical toddler behavior, like the day E got so angry that she picked up a bar stool Hulk-style and threw it onto the granite floor with a loud crash. I quickly took her back to our room and told her that her actions were unacceptable and that if she wanted to spend time in the living room, there would be no whining (only big-girl words), and absolutely no destruction of any kind. Surprisingly, this deal worked for the majority of our stay.

She occasionally got bored – the house didn’t exactly suit her idea of what a “vacation” should be. I think she was expecting some Disney-World-type extravaganza, and every day she asked me, “We go on ‘cation now?” I had to explain to her that we were "already there."

On our second day, we took her with us to do disc golf at Hunter Mountain. I knew that she and I wouldn’t make it to all 18 holes (even the more adventuresome of us called it quits after being pelted in the face with icy cold rain and snow for 9 holes), but E and I hiked to the first 3 holes then back down the mountain. She even threw the disc a few times, wanting to play along. We then walked into the monstrous ski lodge with vaulted ceilings, restaurants, and a variety of ski shops, an information center. E took it all in, grabbed my hand, and said, “Mommy!! We did it! We made it to ‘cation!” Apparently this was more what she had in mind…

A buffet was set up, and I asked a woman, who I thought was the cashier, how the system worked. She explained that, this wasn’t a buffet – just a manager’s meeting that had been catered. Oops! But the manager of the mountain came over and insisted we eat with them. How kind! I tried to refuse, but he made us plates and had the soda machine turned on. We happily had a free lunch and cookies then headed back to the house.

Rainy day at the playground!
The next day, we found a great playground for E at the elementary school, and mingled with the locals. One gentleman, nicely dressed, seemingly intelligent, was eager to tell us that the mountain was “run by Wall Street,” and that someday he was going to expose them on YouTube. When that day came, he would take over the mountain and turn it into one big gypsy camp for his family of gypsies. An Italian woman with rings on every finger and huge purple bow in her hair was smitten with E and chatted with her while Mark and I ate sandwiches at the local café. As with most small towns, we were welcomed like regulars. The café owner knew the name of every person who walked through the door. It was nice.

On our second night there, E had a bit of a scare. You know how she’s been with her fear of fire drills. Almost every night, we have to discuss where and when they will happen and how we’ll proceed in an emergency. Only then can she rest easy and go to sleep. Well, just before I put her down, I made the mistake of turning on her baby monitor too close to the receiving end. The interference caused an awful, loud beep that sent E right into a fit of terror. She was certain it was a fire drill. She insisted on “sleeping on Mommy,” and each night, for the rest of vacation, she would not sleep unless she was “’nuggling with Mommy.” Much to my surprise, though, she did sleep.

So, despite all the trials and chaos of vacation with a toddler by day, I was blessed with peaceful, snuggly, before-bed moments with my baby girl. E has never really been a cuddler, and she’s smart enough to know that laying with Mommy makes her tired, and tiredness cannot be tolerated, because it may lead to the dreaded “sleep time.” But, for once, she didn’t seem to mind. She happily tucked her head under my chin, wrapped her arm around my shoulder, and gently patted my arm as she fell asleep. I treasured this moment. She actually needed me. My independent little girl for the first time, actually admitted that she needed me. I had fulfilled an important mom duty. I kissed her forehead, cradled her in my arms, and cherished that time with her.

Throughout the week, I didn’t have one panic attack – not one moment of, “I can’t deal with this.” Mark and I worked well together, we took turns giving each other time – to sleep, to play a game, to read a book. I felt so relaxed for the first time in months and refreshed. Now we’re looking toward the holidays with renewed energy and sanity!

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