Category Archives: I Left Home for Awhile

More About Last Month’s Vacation.

In a previous post, I shared one of the funny moments that happened late in our vacation while it was still fresh in my mind. I also shared some tidbits of things we did while on vacation in William’s monthly post. I wanted to share an overview of all the things we did.

Our airline experiences this time were much better and on par with what I expect from Southwest Airlines. We managed to rack up $400 a person in complimentary vouchers from Southwest for the shoddy way they treated us last October, and those vouchers mostly funded our trip to San Francisco the end of May and our trip back to Nebraska. Sadly, since they did so well, that is the end of our free ride. Thank you, Southwest Airlines!

We stayed with my dear Aunt Marjorie (paternal side) for a few days while we visited the Omaha Zoo and Lauritzen Gardens again. We had visited those places last October, but our gardens visit got cut short due to a fast moving rainstorm. They have a model train garden that is quite amazing to watch, it’s so detailed! So we visited that again, and also walked up to see the two real-size, huge, famous engines they have on display.


We were well pleased with our visit to the zoo last time, except they had ended the season of camel rides and their train wasn’t running the day we went. This trip it was overwhelmingly hot and humid. While the weather wasn’t necessarily a surprise, it was challenging for me (us?) because we’re used to California’s weather. Sadly, I wilted quicker than I expected in the heat. While at the zoo, We managed to meet up with some friends, a lady I know from an online Facebook group (and her family). Fortunately, they were willing companions for our agenda and didn’t protest when we suggested going and getting lunch. She had her two boys with her, the older of them shares a birthday with William. William LOVED meeting him and I loved hanging out with her. Tony pretty much gets along with anyone, and her husband was great to converse with. So, we kind of went to get some lunch and then just never stood back up again until it was time to leave.


The timing of our trip was stipulated by a family gathering that happens annually the last Sunday of July in Albion, Nebraska. So, we did a road trip from Omaha to the middle of Nebraska, a two hour drive made longer by construction and ill-timed traffic lights on a timer in the middle of nowhere.

My uncle (maternal side) graciously hosted us in their basement, which was blissfully cool and mostly comfortable. They are gracious hosts and very accommodating to quirky travelers. I highly recommend them. I just love staying with them on their farm. They have animals galore… cats and kittens(!!), dogs, horses and ponies, goats, guineafowl, cows, and… I’m sure I’m missing naming a species here. Also, my cousin has two girls and William just loved playing with them!



The drive to the family gathering was mostly on dirt roads, which William thought was fabulous thanks to the off-roading scenes in the Cars movie. It was made more entertaining for me by texting with my cousin, who was in the vehicle in front of us. She acted like a tour guide with such things like, “This is corn fields on your right and soybeans to your left. Upcoming to your right is a house where no one famous lives.” She would switch the types of fields appropriately. As we drove, we passed a farm that had a bunch of old buildings on it. There were a couple of churches, a sheriff building, and other things. It looked like a little Western town. I later learned from my uncle that the owner of that farm had a vision of building a little town, but he passed away and now his family doesn’t know what to do with the buildings. I guess his vision isn’t theirs.

At the family gathering, the couple who hosted it are 2nd or 3rd cousins, once removed, to me, I think. I’m not really sure. Anyway, they have grandkids around William’s age, and while the kids weren’t in attendance, their toys were. William and my cousin’s girls had a fabulous time playing down in their basement. They have a pool table down there and William loved putting the balls in the holes and then listening to them rumble to the end. Best kid entertainment ever! I enjoyed seeing one of my cousins who I haven’t seen since he was 6 or 7 years old, and meeting his wife. There were also other distant relatives there and it was just an enjoyable relaxing time. The food was set up buffet style, entrees on one side of the kitchen island and various “salads” (the notion of salad is very different in the Midwest vs. California) on the other side. Also, desserts.

The days went quickly (surely a sign of a good vacation?) and before we knew it, we were headed back to Omaha to stay with my Aunt Marjorie one last night and catch our flight the next morning. Now… where do we go next?

1 Comment

Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

A Story from Vacation

We just got back from traveling to Nebraska and Iowa yesterday. We stayed part of the time with my darling aunt (my dad’s sister) and my uncle (my mom’s brother), and their families, as well as visiting with other of my relatives during our stay. It was a wonderful time. Not so relaxing as one might think or expect, but I don’t expect that these days. In fact, I just laugh when people ask if it was relaxing. No. No, it wasn’t.

What I hope for is that my son will build the kind of memories I had as a child with my cousins with his (2nd) cousins and that my aunt will get to know my son, who is the only continuation of her (deceased) brother’s genetic line.

I’d like to share one of the stories from our trip that will have me laughing for years to come.

My cousin’s youngest daughter, Abby, just turned two years old. In fact we celebrated her 2nd birthday with them while we were there. She doesn’t say much, but has these unimaginably huge blue eyes that communicate (along with her pointing fingers, body language and her giggle) pretty much most anything she needs. Monday morning, the last morning we were out at the farm, I was busy with a project that my aunt asked me to do and Tony was carrying suitcases out to the car.

William was in the house, playing with the girls. They had been playing hide-and-seek, a game that has moments of loud and moments of quiet. So when things got quiet, I assumed they were in the hiding part of the game until I heard William yell out, “MOMMY! I NEED YOUR HELP!”

I got up quickly and asked him what he needed, mostly to track down where he was in the house by the sound of his voice. I found Abby standing one step into the bathroom, her eyes huge and her finger stuck in her mouth conveying all sorts of uncertainty and concern. William stood further into the bathroom, his underwear on backwards and pulled halfway up his legs.

“Did you go to the bathroom?” I asked curiously.

“Yes!” He replied, matter of factly. “I went poopy and I also peed. I didn’t flush it yet.”

“Oh.” I responded. I went over and checked the toilet and it was as he said. “Did you wipe?”

“No.” He answered, and exasperation entered his voice to a level only a 3 year old can muster, as he continued, “I told Abby to wipe my butt, but she didn’t do it. That’s why I need your help.”

I glanced over my shoulder at Abby, her finger still stuck in her mouth, her eyes huge as saucers and her diaper soggy, and visible below her little dress. I smiled a little and said, “Yeah, dude, I don’t think she knows how to wipe butts yet.”


Filed under I have Family, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Memorial Day Weekend.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we went to San Francisco. We’ve been there several times before, so we pretty much knew the things we wanted to do while there, but we knew it would likely be a different experience with having a child along.

William is a remarkably good traveler, so, not surprisingly, we were actually able to do most of the things we had on our list. The price we pay for traveling with him is researching and scheduling time at a playground once or twice while traveling, so he can have something that’s “his” on the itinerary, too. That’s about the only concession we make, though.

To start, Southwest stopped us when we were boarding the plane and invited William into the cockpit to say hello to the pilots and look around. Dude, I didn’t know airlines allowed that anymore! It was really neat!

When we got to SFO, the car rental agency had overbooked themselves and, so, when we arrived, the check-in line was a mile long (we should have pre-checked in, doh!) and when we finally got out to the parking structure to claim our car, there was a grouping of people standing there, and they literally had no cars available. The workers were running to other agencies and “borrowing” cars from them. Exhausted, I took one look at the chaos, spotted a bench off to the side, and went over there with William and wilted on it. One of the guys who worked there chased me down and told me he’d be back with a car for me. When he came back, he had a fully-loaded Chrysler Town & Country van, proclaiming it to be a free upgrade. Before the guy could finish his sentence, Tony had claimed it and we were on our way. Sort of. We had to navigate our way around the guy in front of us who was trying to start his GPS in the parking garage, but… yeah, mostly we were on our way. And for William, vacation will never be the same again… because the “fully-loaded” part meant that he had a DVD player for movies while driving around. ha

We were generously invited to stay at Tony’s cousin’s apartment. They live right down near everything we wanted to do, while they were in Hawaii for the weekend. (Which answers the question of, where does someone who lives in San Francisco go on vacation? Hawaii, of course!!) They saved us mega-bucks in hotel costs, plus we were super comfy in an awesome and convenient part of town.

Our first day there, we found a little rose garden where William was pretending he was a rabbit, hopping around, twitching his nose, pretending he was nibbling flowers and various other rabbit kind of stuff. It was around 7pm and we had just finished walking Lombard Street. One of the city workers told us she needed to lock the gates of the park, and William started crying, heart-broken. He’d been having such a good time, but sadly, the lady needed to do her job. A woman and her friend were walking by and felt so bad for him, she offered a granola bar to us from her backpack. Even though we declined her offer of the snack, the compassion and kindness behind her offer meant the world to us.

When we went out to Alcatraz island the next morning, our intention was to do the garden tour. We get a lot of island history and are allowed to go in cordoned off areas that are normally off limits. It’s a special thing, free, but only once a week on Sunday mornings. William wanted to ask the docent 10 million questions, and I kept telling him he had to listen, not talk, just like he does in library story time. He was not a fan. At the end of the tour, the docent announced she had one more story… when she finished that story, William said, with a hurt feelings look in his eyes, quite loudly and repeatedly to me, “We’re done! We’re done.” I would feel guilty, except… if I can tolerate 3 hours in a playground with a bunch of kids, dirt, sand and germs, he can certainly tolerate a mere 45 minute tour about plants, birds and history, especially since it was book-ended by running around time and boat rides. We caught the same boat back to the mainland as the docent did, and when she caught sight of William, she told him, “I need more people like you on my tours, you liven things up!”

The Golden Gate bridge was awesome as usual… since we’d been there last, they’ve made some changes to the pedestrian traffic, bikes go on one side of the bridge, foot walkers go on the other. That was a nice change, and one I appreciated for the safety aspect of it. When we got on the bridge, William requested, “I want to walk on it all by myself!” and so I let him down. His grandma D. had done a fantastic job of building the hype about the bridge, so he was super excited about it the whole trip. When the Southwest flight attendant gave him a coloring book, he spotted the bridge on there and said, “That’s where were going!!” Of course, he also spotted the alien spaceship representing Roswell, NM and said we have to go there, too, because that’s where Buzz Lightyear lives. ha!

The other highlight of our trip was our dinner at Scoma’s. I utilized the opentable app to schedule our reservations, and ended up rescheduling twice because it just didn’t fit in with what ended up happening for us each day. I was grateful for being able to do that on the fly, and we had a fantastic meal. I branched out and tried their salmon this trip and was ever so glad for it, because it was melt in my mouth delicious. Tony was sad to discover they no longer serve lobster tail, so he ended up with some sort of lobster dish that he was fairly happy with.

Oh, and a vacation update wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include potty talk, right? So, there we were driving around and I realize I have to go to the restroom. Like, bad. And things just aren’t the same down there for me since giving birth, if you know what I’m saying (a post for another day, I guess). So we hunted down a public restroom, and I hopped out and waited in line. Because there’s a line for all public restrooms in San Francisco. Thankfully, I made it… in case you were wondering. In kind of a karmic universe balancing itself out thing, when we went to Pier 39, I was shocked when I walked past the public restrooms there and the line for the MENS room was super long. When does THAT ever happen?

I had a bit of a run in with TSA when we were heading home… I was wearing William through the inspection point, and I passed the metal detector and hand swabbing test. However, in all the hulabaloo, I forgot to remove my netbook from my backpack, and instead of them just simply removing it and re-scanning it, they decided to have me go through a full body pat-down, which meant I had to remove William (essentially giving him freedom in a super busy airport), and they dumped all the contents of BOTH my purse (which HAD passed the scan) and my back pack (which hadn’t passed) out in bins to hand inspect, swab, and finally re-scan. Tony had gone ahead to the gate, so he had no idea what was happening. They denied my requests to communicate with Tony, they denied me going after William when he wandered off (I had to verbally coax him back)… words can’t even express how helpless, violated and anxious that experience made me feel. And when they crammed all my stuff back in the bags, I couldn’t find my boarding passes!!

Thankfully, Southwest redeemed themselves in spades to me this trip. The pilot of our plane even came to the end of the gate and reassured me they were holding the plane for me while they reprinted my boarding passes. The flight attendants were super sweet to us. We were very blessed to have had a great experience with Southwest this trip.

I guess now we’ll see how Southwest does when we fly in July… and we’ll see if TSA responds to the letter I sent them.

Pictures from our trip can be seen here: Click


Filed under Best Husband, I have Family, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Tustin Chili Cook Off

Over the weekend, we spontaneously decided to go to the Chili Cook Off.  I mean, we were right across the street having breakfast and one of our table mates mentioned it.  Tony and I looked at each other, shrugged and said, “You wanna go?”  The reply was, “Sure, why not?”  It’s something we’ve talked about attending the past few years but we never seem to be in town when it’s going on.

We meandered around at first, distracted by the old cars.  William kept saying “Hey, that’s Sheriff!  That’s Sheriff!”  (From the Cars movie?)  Yeah, except for the paint job, it IS Sheriff.




And then there was the “car that looks like Flo!”  Yes, yes, it did.  Something tells me this kid likes cars.



Then we got down to business and sampled several cups of chili that looked like this.


We all really liked the one made by the police department.  It was spicy but went down smooth.  If they sold that stuff in jars, I would definitely buy some.

William has a thing about Weinerschnitzel… THANKS MOM!  He now requests to go get “ice cream” every time we drive by it, which is  a lot, since it’s on the way to the grocery store, Walmart, Target, the gas station, the gym, and uh, the freeway.  Meaning, it’s on the way to everywhere we go.  So it was a no-brainer that he asked to have his picture taken with their Wagon that was at the cook off.


We were looking for somewhere to sit and there were some tables set up.  We meandered over and sat on the concrete wall around the sign, turns out the restaurant owner had set up the tables and were inviting people to sit there, whether they were patrons or not.  The owner was even sitting there and pointed at the sign above William, told us the pictures on there were of his parents.  Personally, I liked the way the guy organized his chili.  He said, with a wink, that he’s been doing this for a few years now.


IMG_0989Overall, for a spontaneous outing, it was fun and I wouldn’t mind going again next year, but I’ll definitely be bringing my cupcake pans… that idea is ingenious!  Plus, you know, people watching… IMG_0982




Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Great Orange Ball

Local to us is a park that has an orange balloon.  It’s been there for years on the old military base.  The balloon goes up and down 400 feet for certain hours of the day, weather permitting, giving lots of people a great view of the county.  Up until recently it was free, but we missed out on that by a couple of days.  We’ve been meaning to get over there and check it out for awhile now.  Like for years now.  Honestly, we’re pretty good about checking out the things in our own backyard, so to speak, but this place, as huge as it is, is kind of a pain to find if you’re just blindly exploring.

So there we were one day, William hadn’t been able to fall asleep for his nap, and we needed to go to Costco, so we called it a nap fail and set out.  He was fine, so we thought.  We went to Costco, he was as wide awake as he could be.  Might as well go see if we can find the place.  We’re driving along and I glanced at the clock, 4pm.  I glanced in the rearview mirror and William had nodded off to sleep.  Do I wake him or let him sleep, was the question. Knowing that from the point he wakes, he will not be able to sleep again for 5 hours, minimum.  We decided to let him sleep.

Photos from that outing:  LINK 

So we got to the park and scoped it out, and decided to schedule a day to go back when William would be awake.

This past Saturday was the day.  The place is enormous with lots of space to roam.  They have more than just the balloon, too.  There is a carousel, a garden area, a playground and the old hangars are used as exhibit areas, and the open outside space is used for a Farmer’s Market every Sunday.  I commented to Tony what a fun outing this was, it would be perfect for a simple and easy first date… and it’s also an easy outing for a family if you want to spend the day at a park without worrying about it being crowded.

Here are some photos from this weekend’s outing:  LINK

So that’s what we did this weekend.  What’d you do ?


Filed under I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute

Queen Mary’s Chill

For the holidays, I like to do something special, something out of the ordinary, something that is IN YOUR FACE “Christmasy” every year.  One year we saw a handbell choir, gosh, that was so beautiful.  Unfortunately, it appears that we saw them the last year they were performing and handbell choirs, apparently, are as rare as a Hawaiian surfing in Alaska!  Our standby Christmas thing has always been the local historical city park.  They have two events every year — a candlelight tour one weekend and a Victorian Christmas celebration the next — but our calendars just didn’t match up with theirs this year.

I was blessed to be able to participate in my company’s holiday party this year.  The first year I worked here, they didn’t have a holiday event.  The 2nd year I was here, I was out on maternity leave.  This year, they rented a yacht and we floated out and toured the harbor while eating our lunch.  They even accommodated me with a special room on the yacht, with its own bathroom (you know how I love bathrooms!) to pump milk for my son so I could participate comfortably!

But I was still looking for something special to do with my family.  So when a special deal came across LivingSocial to go to the Queen Mary for the holidays, The Queen Mary Chill event, they called it, well, I was ALL over that!  Beyond thrilled, actually, because they had an ice sculpture display and I was extremely disappointed that the state fair didn’t have their Ice Museum this year.  But a holiday themed ice sculpture display?  Even better.  Made up for the state fair’s epic fail 1,000 times over.


It was an amazing day.  I left our home early this past Saturday morning to drop my car off for the last free oil change of the year (huzzah for free — remember that coupon I talked about awhile back?).  Then, I timed it just right, and walked out to the main street (saving us 5 minutes of driving time) and hitched a ride with Tony in his car as he was zooming to the freeway and off we went to have breakfast with my friend, Grace, and her family.  Such a blessing (always) to see her!  (Love you, Grace!)

After that we headed up to the Queen Mary!  To see her decked out in her holiday finery was a sight to behold.


The Queen Mary also has a village that they “dress” for the appropriate holiday season, and it was fun to mosey around the village and reminisce about the last time we were there… for Halloween last year.  William got a visit in with Santa (another post is in the works for that story), and then we headed into the dome to view the ice sculptures. Everything you see in the picture below, the wreath, the sign, it’s all ice.  Amazing.


William’s nap was the only hangnail in this whole story, one which I’m still suffering from mommy guilt about.  He fell asleep at the appropriate time, but when I attempted to transfer him to the stroller he woke up.  Tony resorted to our standby of wearing him and, after much protesting, William went to sleep and ended up sleeping through our foray through the ice.  Maybe for the best, since it was really, really cold in there.  Tony got a talking to by one of the employees because of his lack of appropriate footwear.  Yes, seriously.  This man, who wears flip flops in 6′ snow banks, was duly informed that he was causing a liability and that it was a health hazard.  So he was asked to leave the exhibit.  Kind of silly, given that we were just a few displays away from the exit door, but, you know, whatever.

Of all the displays in the exhibit, the best and most beautiful one, I think, was the nativity scene.  I’m a sucker for nativity scenes, anyway, and particularly the glass or crystal ones.  And this one was huge and stunning…. and was the last one to see in the display.  Despite the coldness, it left me feeling warm and happy inside.


This is an event that I would definitely attend again sometime in the future.  If you’re interested, more pictures from our adventure can be seen here:  LINK


Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile

Home for the Holidays.

We would like to announce the arrival of our son.

He burst forth into this world on Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 10:53 AM.

We named him William John, in honor of my father and both of our grandfathers (respectively).

He tilted the scales at 10 lbs 11 ounces, and measured 21 inches in length.

Our son is healthy and came out with the most incredible, perfect nursing latch, with a piranha like suction and ravenous appetite.

My husband is the most amazing labor coach and baby support person I could have ever asked for. He did and is doing an absolutely amazing job. I am so, so proud of him and so humbled to be able to share this new little person with him every day.

My doula was absolutely perfect with me, with us, and was a great guide through the entire process. She is also a lactation consultant and is continuing to guide me. I am so grateful that I found her.

My labor started at 4:11 AM, I called my doula at 6:00 AM, we left for the hospital around 7:15 AM. We had an incredible team in the room to help deliver him, from the labor & delivery nurse who had had her two children in home births and therefore completely supported my desire for a natural childbirth and assisted in getting this kid’s enormous shoulders out of me, to my doctor who did an incredible job making sure she followed my birth plan to every detail possible.

I am sore in my breasts due to our son’s aforementioned appetite, and in my forearms due to the labor position I used, but otherwise completely fine and “injury” free. Yes, that means what you think it means.

I’ve been told I am the talk of the hospital since I delivered such a large baby completely drug, epidural and intervention free. Truth be told, I’m pretty proud of myself, too. I worked really, really hard to be as healthy and strong as I could be — eating healthy, preparing and researching for natural childbirth in a hospital setting, lap swimming every day for an hour, even the night before I went into labor! I was even at work on the 7th, the day before I delivered.

Oh, who am I kidding? No one really cares about all that crap. So… on to the fun stuff. Pictures!

Going home from the hospital…

I don’t suppose it needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway. We are completely, over the moon in love with this little boy.


Filed under Best Husband, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, Our Kid is Cute