Boring Adult Things, mom blog, travel

The Subtle Art

I’m on an adventure with my husband and kid, and it’s been lovely in many ways. In other ways, it’s tougher than I anticipated. It’s not a vacation: it’s a working vacation. For me, that meant cordoning off days in which I would be available and for Brandon, that meant doing his best to keep up a full-time gig on the road. In Mexico. With a two-year-old.

We’ve had a blast, but he’s tough to wrap my head around. Stressed, overwhelmed, sick. I don’t know whether to be supportive or tell him to “snap out of it.” I’ve lately been leaning toward the latter as I spend hours entertaining our toddler while he sends “just one more email.”

I’m trying to be the person I read about the other week – the person who “doesn’t give a fuck.” The person who doesn’t let things stress them out, shrugs and lets things roll off her back. It’s hard when my toddler throws a tantrum in a restaurant in Oaxaca and I’m thinking about how we’re “those” tourists; giving the U.S. a bad name and what is wrong with us letting our 2-year-old watch “Monsters, Inc” at the table so we can all eat in some semblance of peace? The obnoxious people who buy the spinny toy at the market so the kid will stop screaming? This is not the mother I want to be, and yet, I am. And I do give a fuck.

This trip has left me with a lot on my mind, which is kind of the opposite of where I’d hoped to be. I’ve removed toxic and unreciprocated friendships from my life this year and have begun to build new ones – particularly with those who share my values, my passion, and my interest in connecting (although, Dione, I am TERRIBLE at being present lately).

Politics, per usual, is garbage, although I’m excited to see the field of candidates of my party growing like a field of tulips in a desert. My mystery side project is heating up and nearing its end; a project I’ve been working on for nearly a year and am excited to complete. I turn 32 in a few months and I am perilously close to missing certain goals, but I’m making new ones, so it’s okay. I’m considering hip hop classes and improv workshops. I want to rediscover me outside of my kid. For his sake and my own.

Nevertheless, I know I’ve got a good one. He is kind, he is smart and playful. He’s funny. He has all my bad habits: entitlement (UCK), a love of television (working on it–my, how quickly it happens), a penchant for cursing (today, a ball almost rolled into a sewer and he shouted, “JESUS CHRIST!”–not the best idea in a heavily Catholic country). He also has some of my strengths: perseverance, goofiness, deep love, a strong will. Other traits not inherited by me include coordination, athleticism, and a very broad palette (Brandon said the other day, “He either has an extremely refined palette or no tastebuds at all.” He later tried to eat the helmet off a Lego man). Despite my best efforts, he is spoiled. Not indulged at every turn but spoiled by our lifestyle: dinners out, trips, treats. It can simply be difficult to avoid privilege when your parents have it. The one plus I’ll put in our category is that we are passionate about activism and diversity. Not only does he come to every march and protest, Cam understands, at barely two years old, that he is not alone on this planet. Today, he played with a little girl who spoke not a lick of English, and they became friends, teaching each other “hello” and “thank you” in their own languages. He waves at everyone and says “Adios” and “Gracias.” He hears another language surround him, and he plays at home with people on the playground who don’t necessarily look like him. His best friend has two mommies. We are raising a good kid. A real good kid.

Being a mom is a constantly-evolving, yet rewarding, challenge. Being a woman with a career, particularly one that is self-made, is also an evolving rewarding challenge. Being a wife lately has, frankly, been mostly a challenge. But such is the tide of ebbs and flows of a relationship. You love hard and you weather the storm.

My focus this year is on personal growth. Feeling better, doing better, staying active for me, getting back to my core desire of a work-life balance (versus what’s now a work-work-work balance), and being a better mom to my kid. Part of that means not being swallowed whole by him. And that’s been the most difficult thing of all.


Rocky Mountain High

Well, I feel simultaneously stupid and proud, which is a unique feeling.

Dad and I headed over to climb Flattop Mountain on Sunday; you can see the excitement and fear on my face in the picture we took of the sign clearly pointing to the right to take us to the trail:


So, obviously, we headed off to the left. You know, in the wrong direction. Because Dad and I share the beautiful trait of Terrible Navigational Skills.

A little over a mile down the path, all on a fairly steep incline, and asked some guy with his family which direction Flattop Mountain was.

He looked at us, confused. “About a mile and a half in the other direction, then up 4 and a half miles,” he said. “This is the trail to Emerald Lake. You’ll have to turn around if you want to hike Flattop – unless you want to climb a glacier,” he laughed.


I was clear with Dad I was not adding a 3 mile round-trip detour to our hike, so we thought we’d see what the glacier looked like. Um, pretty glacier-like:


Note the scale of the person in this picture – unless you want to swim across the near-freezing lake, you’ve got to climb boulders and snow all the way around to hit the top of the glacier. Which, of course, we tried.

View from the middle of the glacier.

After some bouldering and difficult navigation, we realized the other side of the glacier was likely much more difficult to get down than the scaling had been – and that hadn’t been particularly easy or safe. So we turned back. However, I’m still counting it as a win, because the bouldering and snow hiking was pretty intense, I got a great workout, and this is all on top of a 3.5-mile trail hike, so hey, I’m celebrating.


We climbed back down the boulders and I decided this was a good time to get my handstand pic in Colorado. Unfortunately, the ground wasn’t flat, and I overestimated my balancing skills:


I found flat ground near a tree and gave it another shot:


Anyway, check out a few more pics from our fun-filled trip – including a brewery, a horseback ride through the Rockies, a distillery, a trip to Wyoming for one more handstand picture, and a ghost tour of the hotel that inspired The Shining (The Stanley).

So you know what? Trip = a Success, and I count this as my mountain climb, because it was certainly an adventure, it was a challenging workout, and we went all the way to Colorado for it. Two more states I’ve never been to before – and one I probably wouldn’t go back to (Wyoming)!

Your talented hiker friend, over and out.



Shuffle Off To Buffalo

There’s no better place in the world than Buffalo, NY.

Okay, that’s a complete lie, but there is something quaint about it.

I visited Buffalo this past weekend to see my mom’s idyllic hometown, East Aurora, which I’d only ever heard about in stories. It was exactly as she described, and so little had changed in 50 years: cute shops, a Main Street that caters to bikes, children running around and everyone just generally feeling safe. It was like I’d stepped into a Beverly Cleary novel.

I also met some distant cousins I had no idea existed: nieces of my grandmother’s, and one of their sons. I think, if I’m not mistaken, that makes the ladies first cousins once removed and the guy a second cousin, but I don’t know anything other than that I could legally marry any of them and our kids probably wouldn’t end up super deformed. Which is good news, because my second cousin is 22 and super cute. What? Don’t judge.

It was wonderful bonding with my family, and also seeing my brother, who normally lives in Philadelphia. I do feel like I’m getting just a hair closer with all of them, and that feels good. Especially because when you’re not feeling 100%, there’s nothing like having family around to restore your spirits and remind you that you’re awesome. And life is short, so you’ve gotta love on your family while you can.

My grandmother is going downhill mentally, but it’s clearly been a wonderful experience for her to see her old town and some of her old friends. She may not be able to understand us every time what kind of pizza she wants (she just smiles at us blankly), but she does remember Vidler’s 5 & 10, and that’s a win in my book. Even if she did buy a child’s sheriff hat there and elect to wear it around all day.


One Happy Island

Confession: I’m not a beach vacationer. As you may have noticed from my blog, I like adventure travel, heavy cultural experiences, and getting lost in a foreign countryside. You’d more likely find me in Ireland than Amelia Island, New York than the California coast.

But there’s something special about Aruba. I guess that’s why people keep coming back here year after year (after year, after year). Part of it is the perfect sand and clear turquoise waters. Part of it is the resort I’ve represented for years; my very first baby and an incredible place to stay. I could go on and on about its customer service and amazing amenities, but I won’t, because I wouldn’t do it any more justice than our ads do. But I truly, wholeheartedly believe in the property and what we do for them.

For me, though, the main love of Aruba is all the memories I have here and the people I’ve been with. From transitioning the account into my first major client at this agency and working with someone I’d remain close with for years to come, to making Aruba the first account I passed onto my talented employee and becoming similarly close with the new set of clients, I have so many memories of wonderful trips, incredible education, lots of laughter, a little debauchery, and tons of love.

The Aruba account has always been my baby, and the island has always been my grounding spot. It’s where I’ve become empowered and inspired and learned so much about the inner workings of hospitality; felt supported and like a partner, and got my hands dirty (literally and figuratively) on photo shoots. And I couldn’t be prouder to see Chelsea doing all those same wonderful things, and often doing them better. But there’s also that twinge of sadness that comes with parting ways. There’s that lingering ocean smell or a Tradewinds breeze that will always be somewhere in the wind for me.

So I’ll be back to Aruba, next time as a tourist, knowing I have–through routes less traveled–become a part of the island family that every guest knows they’ve joined. And for these next two weeks, I will give every inch of energy I have to transitioning Aruba and everyone else we work with as seamlessly as possible.

Because that’s what you do for family. And I know I’ll always be bon bini here.