Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Tidbits

It's summer. The Hickman boys and mom are faced with a lot of time on our hands, and you can only play Wii for so long without collapsing. I think the three of us are starting to get on each other's nerves a little, and I think we might all be driving Trey nuts. Here are some tidbits (both good and bad) from today.

Tucker and I were running errands, and I told him that we needed to go by AT&T because I needed them to fix a problem with my new phone. From the backseat Tucker offers a philosophical question, "Is Verizon better than AT&T?"

"I don't know. We have AT&T," is my baffled response.

"Well, I know that Alltel has America's largest wireless network," he informs me. I realized that sometimes your kids just come right on out and tell you when they're watching too much tv.

While the tv watching is making me feel guilty, a victory for our parentalness came later in the day. We've been working with the boys on their bullet-speed name shouting. If you have children who speak, you know what I'm talking about: "MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.MOM.

Tonight we were all four in the truck, and Trey and I were attempting to have a conversation. Keaton's sweet voice came from the back seat and said, "Acuse me, Mommy."

And then the angels sang! He actually (kind of) said excuse me! Yay us!

Then there was my super favorite time of day (read dripping sarcasm here), bedtime. It was chaos, there was jumping, there was laughing, and I finally had to put a stop to it all by shouting, "We're not saying "ducks" anymore! We are saying prayers!" That did create quiet for about two seconds - until Trey started laughing at the absurdity of it all.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Keaton is Whimsy

not whimsical. Whimsy. He unknowingly created a new definition of the word.

I've spent the last four days at yearbook camp. Luckily it was in College Station so I was able to come home each night instead of staying in the dorms. Camp was a lot of work for my students, but we accomplished so much for our 2009 book. I remembered why I love teaching - it's those kids. I'm tired, but it was great to spend a few days with them. I'm always amazed at what they're capable of.

Anyway, Saturday and Sunday it was just the boys while I was at camp. When I came home Saturday evening, Tucker met me at the door with a hug and kiss, then Trey came around the corner from our room just getting off the phone. It was my mom calling for me, but she decided to let me get settled and talk to me later since I was just walking in the door (thanks, Mom).

No Keaton.

"Where's Keaton?" I asked. Then I called out to him.

"I right here!" he responded from the kitchen.

So I made my way around the corner. Keaton was sitting on the bar with his feet on the counter (sadly, not unusual around here). As I surveyed the scene my mind raced. An open syrup bottle sat next to him. An open tub of spreadable butter. His hands held a spoon and the little plastic top that caps off the syrup spout. This was, well, odd.

"Look what I making, Mommy!" he cheerfully called out. "It's a butter dipper!"

"What, baby?" I didn't understand. There were no pancakes in sight. What was going on here?

He explained as he forced his extraordinarily long tongue into the butter-filled plastic cap and wiggled it around. "A butter dipper. See?"

Trey snatched Keaton's new invention, and I quickly learned what other Keaton escapades I had missed that day.

On one occasion he went into our bathroom - presumably to go potty - and just a few minutes later Trey heard a metal lid clang onto the ground. Turns out Keaton had face cream and various other skin care products opened, and he was smearing them all on the floor.

He also got out the scissors at least twice - once cutting a hole in Tucker's New Orleans Saints football pants and once cutting into minuscule pieces a picture of Trey's cousin that had previously resided on the refrigerator.

On a later occasion that same day, he came to Trey with hair greased into his very own original style created using some unknown substance (we never figured out what it was). Trey spanked him and then leaned his head over the sink to rinse out his hair with the sink sprayer. Keaton thought the sprayer was incredibly entertaining, and laughed at a fuming Trey the whole time.

This all occurred on Saturday, and on Sunday I returned to camp and Trey had to do it all over again. When I came home that day, I found a beaten down husband and a perfectly content Keaton sitting in his underwear with his face covered lipstick and what I hope was foundation. I didn't ask.

You see, Keaton had a great weekend. Maybe the best of his life. He got in big trouble, but no matter.

He was just having a little fun - with butter on top. ;)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Take Over, The Break's Over

Note: This is my final posting of our vacation in Cancun. If you're interested in the whole story, start with the post titled las vacaciones día uno .

This is not just the title to my favorite Fall Out Boy song on my workout playlist (and ugh, I have to go back to the gym tomorrow after a two week hiatus, that should be fun).

It's also the final installment of our vacation saga. The break was over, and we were taken over on the airplane by a giant rude man. Here is what I would've said to him had my momma not raised me to be so darn polite ;)

Dear Giant Rude Man,
First, please let me preface this by stating that I can see the complications that may arise from being six and a half feet tall. You see, my children are short, and while that's not the same thing as being six and a half feet tall, it does allow me to see that the world is made for average-sized people. Just today my three year old was discriminated against at IKEA because he's small for his age - he couldn't go into the playroom even though some of the kids in there were practically babies! So I am totally against size discrimination.

However, when you sat next to me on the airplane, you chose to take up more room than your largeness dictated. Might I suggest that if you need more room on an airplane in the future, you choose to sit on the side with your children instead of having your wife sit there. You see, your children are smaller and perhaps you could use their extra room instead of taking my not extra room. Further, I believe they would be less freaked out if you touched them with your giant triceps for the entire flight. Call me a prude, but rubbing triceps with a stranger for two and a half hours left me feeling a little, well, dirty.

My next suggestion for you is regarding the peanuts you were eating on the flight. You see, I, too, had a peanut incident on a flight. I was eating peanut butter and I even offered it to a child! Fortunately that didn't end in tragedy, but you just never know. When the flight attendant saw you sucking down those peanuts, and he told you that the kid in the seat in front of us was deathly allergic to peanuts, he meant, "Put the peanuts away you idiot!" At that point, when you continued to shuffle handfuls of peanuts into your mouth (and getting most of them in - good job), I was, quite frankly, appalled. Then I thought that perhaps you had a condition that prevented you from understanding implied meanings by flight attendants, so I thought I'd fill you in on this just in case. You're welcome.

Finally, and I may be the first to point this out to you, you are not special. When de-boarding a plane, airline customers traditionally leave row by row beginning at the front of the plane. This means that because we were sitting on row 35, we would be the thirty-fifth row of people to leave the plane - see how that works? When you stand up, have your children stand up, and begin to push yourself ahead of the other passengers, you are being incredibly rude. In fact, I believe you are setting a negative example for your children by pushing them in front of everyone else and practically knocking people down to get to customs first. You showed them that being rude and pushy is acceptable because other people don't matter, and I'm sure that's not the message you want to send to your children.

I would like to point out that despite your barbarian efforts to bully past the other passengers (my favorite husband and I included) we beat you. That's right, Giant Rude Man, we won. We were breezing down to the baggage claim while you were still two rows back in customs. I waved (or maybe I shouted "See ya, loser!" but what's the difference?), but I'm not entirely sure you saw me with all those people between us. You see, good things come to those who wait nicely.

Yours truly,
Seat 35E

That's it, my bloggish friends. Our adventure in Mexico was brought to a close. We had a brilliant time, and we were oh so happy to see our wild, rotten kids again! I love my husband more every day, month, year, and having his undivided attention for four whole days was just fun.

A good time was had by all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Never a Bad Day in Mexico

So there we were. Cruising down the highways of Mexico in our buggy, embarking on what we believed to be a 20-25 minute drive.

About 15 minutes into the trip we saw a sign that indicated we were not close to Playa del Carmen. I don't remember how many kilometers away we were, but it was more than 10 minutes worth.

Trey asked, "Do you still think this is a good idea?"

"It'll make a great story," I replied.

And we drove on.

Soon I was distracted from the shaking and the roar of the engine by a distinctive sizzling sound. I began to look around me, and that's when I thought maybe I smelled fire. Something was definitely cooking - what could it be? Upon further inspection, I learned that something was, in fact, cooking.

It was us! (Okay, maybe I was exagerrating about the sizzle and the smell.) Our exposed skin had started to turn red and even purple as we cruised. Trey's face was glowing, and his forearms glistened with sweat and fifth degree sunburn (if that even exists). The tops of my legs felt like they were going to boil, and I fully expected to see a scene from Alien when I looked down at the tops of my feet - I knew I would see the skin puckering and rising from my bones.

As Trey drove on, he noticed my concern from the corner of his eye, but he said nothing - resigned to our fate.

"At least there's a the wind on our faces - it's not really too hot," I offered, trying to salvage the trip.

And then we got stopped in traffic. No wind. Complete stillness exacerbated by the smell of tour bus exhaust. It was as if we were sitting in a crock pot. I fully expected some giant heli-monster to come bounding over the buildings to pluck us up and pop us into his mouth for a mid-afternoon snack, like we were in a B movie horror flick.

It was at this moment that I chose to ask what could be the most important question of the trip. "Do you know where we're going?"

He shot arrows in my direction as he replied, "I think we turn by a Walmart."

I was struck by the reality that we were baking in a bright yellow dune buggy in Playa del Carmen looking for a Walmart. Somehow, that lightened the tense mood.

We had been traveling 45 minutes or more and we knew we were in Playa. After we saw no Walmart, we decided to go ahead and hang a left toward the beach. We traveled a few blocks and then decided that it would be best to park and walk. So we parked on a street darkened by the overhanging trees, hopped over the side of the car, and took off down the broken asphalt.

We sweated and we walked and we sweated and we walked. We passed a building surrounded by construction workers, but those were the only people we saw. We walked more, and still no people, just dilapidated buildings and the occasional mariachi music spilling from an open door. This was no tourist site, there was no open-air market. We dejectedly decided to head back to the car.

I told Trey I was going to summon all of my Spanish skills and ask for directions. We knew we wanted to go to fifth street. We knew we wanted the market. So we entered the convenience store on the corner.

"English?" I asked the man, praying for a yes answer.


"Okay, I can do this," I thought. I repeated my new mantra: "I am a Spanish speaker. I am a Spanish speaker."

"Donde esta calle cinco? Mercado?" I timidly asked.

Fast, unintelligible Spanish followed.

"Que?" I asked, hoping my puzzled look would slow him down.

The man thought for a moment, then he said, "Blocks. Diez blocks." and he pointed.

"Gracias!" I exclaimed. I almost hugged him! We were going to make it to our final destination! I am a Spanish speaker! I am awesome!

Trey bought two ice cold Diet Cokes from him and we practically ran to our buggy. Less than five minutes later we spotted the familiar market, parked our car, and (still sweating) traipsed triumphantly down the street. I was feeling good then - I am a Spanish speaker, remember? After we walked a short way I stopped a random person on the street and asked "Donde esta Tequila Barrel?"

"Two more blocks," the man replied in perfect English, obviously not too amazed at my bi-lingualness. So we trekked on.

Then we saw the round barrel shaped chairs and knew we were there - at the restaurant that saved our honeymoon. We sat down, ordered bottled water and margaritas, and started checking out the menu.

Guacamole. It sounds simple, doesn't it. But the mere word guacamole doesn't begin to describe what they serve at the Tequila Barrel. I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider lifting the bowl and licking out every last drop before we left. The enchiladas and margaritas were likewise delicious. I was giddy. The ridiculous car, the sweltering heat, the baking sun were all worth it once we arrived.

Here we are at the Tequila Barrell:

Beside us sat a young man and young woman - early twenties, perhaps. Trey began making up their story - and I love when he does this. His story this time was quite probable - she was there with her parents and little sister, but had met the guy the night before in a Mexican bar. He had come to Mexico with friends some time ago and somehow stayed on there, working occasionally and drinking his days away on anyone else's dime he could find.

The facts from their conversation were these -

1) He kept ordering drinks and putting them on her tab.

2) She went on and on about how she can't stand girls who get by on daddy's money, and then she spoke at length about her sorority adventures.

3) They traded war stories about all the times they had ever been injured, or broken bones, or had stitches, each time one-upping the other. Classic "we don't even know each other" conversation.

4) She told him that she and her boyfriend agreed before she left that what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico. Sounded like a really strong relationship - and eeewwwww.

Also of interest was the large man who walked very closely past us wearing only a very tiny speedo. I'm sorry we didn't take a picture. Or maybe you're welcome.

We ate, we reminisced, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. On the way back to the car we decided we should buy something cheap to cover us up on the way back so we wouldn't continue to sunburn. I paid five dollars for a sarong to wrap around my legs (which was actually just a piece of fabric cut from the bolt), and Trey got a great deal on a burlap-esque pullover that brandished the word "MEXICO" across the front and a boasted a giant iguana across the back. Just what he's always wanted.

And we drove back to our hotel, passing the Playa del Carmen Walmart as we turned out onto the highway. Happy. Full. Accomplished. As it turned out, the dune buggy was kind of a cool car. It took us on a great adventure. Here we are just before we turned in the car:

Once again this proves that seaside in Mexico, there is no such thing as a bad day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How do you say "Buggy" in Spanish?

Once upon a time we went on our honeymoon. It was, well, special. We had no money and had resigned ourselves to a delayed honeymoon when we could afford it, and then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law offered to pay for a cruise as a wedding gift. At the time, James (my BIL) was getting great pleasure from finding fabulous cruise deals, and so we became his project. The problem was that this all developed too close to our wedding and the only rooms left were bunk bed rooms. Yes. Bunk beds on our honeymoon. We called it an adventure - so grateful for the gift and the opportunity to go somewhere.

It was the coldest day in the recorded history of Galveston on the day we left. The sea was, shall we say, tempestuous. I began to puke almost immediately. For the first day or two of our 4 day honeymoon, I slept off Dramamine and puked. In a bunk bed room.

Every groom's dream.

The highlight of the trip came when, while docked in Playa del Carmen, we stumbled upon a restaurant called The Tequila Barrel. It was great, authentic Mexican food and perfect margaritas. Fabulous.

Several years later we returned to beautiful Playa del Carmen to stay at all all-inclusive resort (now our preference for vacationing - I've yet to puke at one), and we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves about two blocks from The Tequila Barrel. So we returned and relived those memories (and that food) from our honeymoon.

On the third day of our trip, after people-watching by the pool and soaking up the morning sun, Trey suggested we rent a car and drive to Playa. We'd rented a car in Mexico on a previous trip - a bright yellow open top Jeep - and driven to Tulum. That day is another of my best vacation memories, and the prospect of repeating it sounded like a great plan. Off we went to the rental car place in the hotel, where my husband began to arrange our afternoon:

Trey: "Can we have a Jeep?"
Car Rental Guy: "Yes, yes. I call my associates."
(he makes several phone calls and talks in the fastest Spanish I've ever heard)
Car Rental Guy: "No Jeep. Sorry. You want car?"
Trey (not discouraged): "How about something that's open-air. That would be fine. Just any convertible."
Car Rental Guy: "Yes. Let me make some calls."
(more calls, more Spanish)
Car Rental Guy (with his hand over the receiver): "Only we have buggy. Is okay?"
Trey: "Sure"
Car Rental Guy (pressing): "Buggy is okay?"
Trey (to me): "Is that okay?"
Me: "Sure, whatever."
Trey (to car rental guy - a little confused as to why the guy's trying to get us to commit so vehemently): "Yes. That's fine. We'll take it."

While the car was being delivered to the hotel we ran upstairs to change out of our swimsuits. Trey says, "I wonder why that guy was so weird about us taking a Volkswagen bug?" I tell him maybe it's not the type of convertible he had in mind for us. Then I laugh, "Maybe he meant dune buggy." The mental picture was pretty funny.

We changed our clothes, rushed downstairs, and waited for the car. Suddenly, we heard a rumble coming up the drive. We turned and saw what had to be our car.

It was a bright yellow dune buggy. Really. I mean, really.

So we walked with the car rental man to the dune buggy, where he assured us that it was, in fact, street legal. As Trey and the rental guy looked over the "car" we became the spectacle of the hotel lobby.

A kid (obviously on his way from the kid's club) stopped by and asked, "Where do I sign up for that?"

An older couple stopped and just stared at the "car" for the longest time. Finally, he said "Are you going to drive that." Trey laughed and shrugged, "I guess."

Eventually we hopped over the side - this road-hugging machine had no use for something as conventional as doors - and Trey cranked it up. Nervous laughter filled what would have been the front seat (if there had been such an area in this yellow anomaly), and we were off.

We were speeding down the highways of Mexico literally 3 feet from the road. When the first tour bus passed us and I could see all the way to the other side underneath it, I think I started to get scared. When other drivers honked and waved at us in our amarillo auto and children stared at us from their back seats, I understood this was not a traditional method of transportation south of the border.

At least it had those beat up lap belts to keep us safe and the shaking to keep us awake. I suppose it was a like getting a work out in one of those old-timey machines you see on television shows where you wrap a giant vibrating rubber band around your waist to shake off some pounds. Only we were shaking off our hair, face, arms, legs, back, feet, and well, everything thing else we may have had to offer.

We were shaking to death under tour buses at 100 kilometers per hours under the Mexican highway sun. Every once in a while Trey would shout over the rumble of the engine (I'm confident it was located directly above my knees), "Is this still okay?"

"It's an adventure," I screamed in half-hearted reply.

But the adventure had only just begun...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

El dia dos (Day Two)

We slept in until 8:00. It was glorious! Then we had breakfast in this beautiful restaurant:

We decided to take a taxi to go shopping downtown to look for souvenirs for the boys. When we arrived, I immediately started looking at these handmade Mexican dresses. They were very pretty, but kind of see-through in places and something I would only wear in a country where I didn’t know anyone.

The “salesman” started throwing out prices - $40 - $30 - $25. The closer I looked, the more see-through the dress. So I told him no. Then he explained how the dresses were handmade and fit anyone. “You have big tomatoes or small tomatoes – no matter – dress still fit.” (Yes, there were also hand motions indicating what he meant by tomatoes.)

This made me bust up laughing, and for some weird reason endeared the man to us. He followed us down the Market row a few more booths and even came down more on the price, but we didn’t buy the dress. He was quite entertaining, however!

Then we went into the next shop. I don’t remember what we were looking for, but the man in the shop asked Trey if he wanted cigars. Trey shook his head, so the man followed up with “maybe some weed?” Nonchalantly, Trey said, “I don’t smoke.” I said something to Trey about it later because it was probably the second time in my life someone’s mentioned the possibility of weed in a serious matter in my presence, and I think the only other time was also on vacation in Mexico. The question was a novelty to me. He didn’t even know them man had offered him weed.

We eventually purchased an obnoxious, floppy hat for me to wear in the sun to protect my face from wrinkles (I’m very wrinkle-prone, you know), two Mexican soccer jerseys and two handmade wooden alligators for the boys. We got a great deal on the alligators! We talked him down from $40 each to $20 each, and we were very proud of ourselves.

Until we found them in the hotel gift shop later for $7.

When we returned to the hotel we finally made it to the fabulous pool that appears to drop off into the ocean. This is a picture we took:

After we cooked under the Mexican sun for a sufficient time, I headed upstairs while Trey turned in our towels down by the pool. The housekeeping lady – Vicki – was working in our room, so I just say down in the hallway outside waiting for her to finish. I hate when I’m cleaning and someone starts walking around me getting things out, and I didn’t want to do that to her. I had my book, so it wasn’t a big deal to park in the hall.

Trey came around the corner and said “Let’s go. We’re getting massages in the palapa by the beach.” So off we went. He told me on the way downstairs that he was worried I wouldn’t want to get another massage because he scheduled it for right then (they were running a one hour half price special) and didn’t ask me. I explained how it’s never a bad time for a massage.

So off we went to our appointment. We had the pool on one side and the rolling waves of the Mexican Caribbean on the other. I could hear all of the people laughing and playing in the pool, but I could also hear the sound of the ocean. The harder I focused on the ocean, the louder it became – until I could barely hear the noise at the pool.

Life lesson – whatever you focus on is the loudest. If you concentrate on all the bad things and the negative people, that’s all you’ll hear. But if you focus on the right things, the wrong things are barely there. Ahhhh...the clarity of a vacationing mind...

That night we went to the local “mall” to eat some delicious food and see Get Smart. I know that’s lame, but we never get to see movies here and I really wanted to see Get Smart! I loved the reruns of it from when I was kid. The concierge at the hotel assured us it was in English with Spanish subtitles. However, when we arrived to buy our tickets to Agente 86, the teenager behind the counter said – in perfect teenager English – “You know it’s in Spanish, right?”


The night wasn’t a total waste, however. We managed to meet up with Pancho and go out carousing ;) I just love this picture. Really. I think it’s pretty darn hysterical.

Sidebar: When we showed Keaton this picture, he studied it for a moment. I expected a question about what we were doing or a comment about us being silly. When he was finished with his review, his only comment was "Why isn't the donkey saying cheese?" I honestly didn't know how to answer that.

The next day was also (of course) fabulous. We did nothing except sit by the pool. I thought about climbing in the Jacuzzi on our balcony, but the more I studied it the more I thought it was a bad idea. First of all, I am terrified of heights and we were on the eighth floor. Second, it didn’t make sense to me structurally. See, that Jacuzzi had to be heavy. Add 20-30 gallons of water and me, and that’s a lot of weight in one place on a balcony eight stories above the ocean. I couldn’t make myself do it.

I’m so adventurous.

But on Thursday, we stepped out and had a real adventure.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Llegamos! (We arrived!)

We arrived in beautiful Mexico before noon. We sped through customs, and I got the green light when I had to press that little button that decides whether or not you get the heavy search. Life was grand!

We met our tour company person, and he directed us to the place where we’d meet our car. Trey read on TexAgs about a company you could call to get a private ride for only $10 more than those over-crowded 15 passenger vans that force you to stop at every hotel. So we had a van and driver all to ourselves. I couldn’t believe it!

On our way to the hotel, Trey asked me for the time. I told him it was about 12:30, and he said, “Good. We have massage appointments in the spa at 2:00.”
WooHoo!!! If you know me well, you know that my husband spoils me. I mean, he really spoils me. He had called ahead the day before to make the spa appointment and then waited until we got there to tell me. I always tell him that I love “Home Trey,” but I also really love when “Vacation Trey” comes to visit!

So we checked in and went upstairs to scope out our room. Wow. I mean…WOW! One entire wall of the room was windows that looked out over the ocean. We had a terrace with pool chairs and a Jacuzzi (yes, on the terrace). Here’s a couple of pics:

WARNING – I’m about to get mushy (sorry, Trey). There’s a song I often listened to right before we got married. I think it was on the Runaway Bride soundtrack. It’s called “I Never Saw Blue Like That.” That’s all I could think about as I looked off that balcony. To be in the most beautiful place in the world with my favorite person in the world was almost overwhelming. I try to appreciate Trey every day. I’m spoiled, remember, so it’s easy to appreciate him. But it’s great to have those moments when you are overwhelmed by how blessed you are to share your life with someone else. I remembered that God made Trey to be the other half of me, and He did a fabulous job!
Kind of lame, right? Whatever.

We had massages, we explored the hotel, we ate in one of the hotel restaurants. It was true leisure – the kind you have to go away from your house and everyone you know to achieve.

So ladies, hit that email link on this blog and send this to your husband! Tell him you appreciate him and love him. Then tell him to schedule you an appointment at a spa. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2008

El Vuelo (The Flight)

We had no kids! There was no one else to feed, take to the bathroom (Trey can go by himself;)), no one to scream at me, no one to spill juice. We were adults only. It was exciting! Incredible! Surreal!

There was a kid on the plane. In the seat in front of us.

I immediately think, “well, crap.” Just like any other kind, loving mother would react.

I look over to point out to Trey that we’re now officially screwed for the next two hours and forty minutes, and before I can get a word out he says, “That little boy is cute.”

Great. Now he’s on the kid’s team. Here I am trying to be annoyed at the kid and the parents for infringing on my flight – I don’t care if they need to visit their grandma on her deathbed, or if they are returning home from a humanitarian mission in the dredges of impoverished Plano, they were on my flight, on my vacation. Trey is commenting on the kid’s cute-factor. Frustrating!

So off we go to Mexico, and for the first two hours and fifteen minutes the kid never made a sound. He was so good. I can’t even believe a child is capable of being that good ever, much less on an airplane.

Near the end of the flight, the boy peeked over the seat to look at us, and he was immediately infatuated by Trey. Trey talked to him, asked how old he was, and told his parents how good he was. By this point I had gone from the world’s most self-centered person to someone more rational, so I joined in talking to the kid. I asked his dad if he could have peanut butter, and when he said yes I gave the boy one of my delicious peanut butter filled pretzels. He popped it in his mouth and grinned, brown peanut butter slobber oozing down his chin.

Then I panicked! What if the boy was allergic to peanut butter? What if his parents had never given it to him before and I just gave it to him on an airplane over the Gulf of Mexico? I asked first, but maybe they didn’t speak much English and were just being polite. What had I done?

I frantically scanned the plane to see if anyone looked like a medical professional – I suppose I expected the doctors on board to wear a badge or something. When I couldn’t mentally locate an allergist, I decided to study the boy for any sign of face swelling or shortness of breath. I chided myself for my irresponsibility. What was I doing with peanut butter on a plane? Why did I offer it to a kid? Would this be on the national news? “Bitter, Vacationing Mother Kills 20 Month Old on Plane.”

Luckily, the child continued to breathe. He even had a few more pretzels, although Trey gave them to him. I couldn’t make myself take the chance again. While the immediate allergy threat had passed, there was the question of the poor child’s tolerance to larger amounts of peanut butter, and I was not willing to take that risk.

What did I learn? We’re parents. Even when we’re not parents. Trey’s always the kind, lovable dad. I’m always the trying to-be-accommodating, worrying mother. Even when we’re not.

Except in Mexico…

Sunday, July 13, 2008

las vacaciones día uno

Last week, we took off on a four day excursion to beautiful Cancun, Mexico. The boys vacationed at Grandma and Pop's house, so it was just Trey and me.

Sidebar: When we were first married, Trey and I often talked about parenthood. We had this philosophy that the best thing we could do for our kids is like each other. It may sound over-obvious, but we were friends before we had kids, and we realized even before we had them that someday our kids will grow up and move away. And when that happens, we still want to be friends. I think it would be entirely possible to raise children with someone and find out after the kids are gone that you don't even know that person anymore. So taking little trips and getting away for a few days every year are our attempt at having time to be friends. We actually finish conversations, which doesn't happen much when the boys are around.

Back to the trip. We went to Mom and Dad's on Monday night because we needed to get to the Dallas airport very early Tuesday morning. We said goodbye to the boys the night before, and then got up at the ungodly hour of 5:15. We tip-toed around, brushing our teeth and getting dressed, when Keaton popped up. He was awake. This was not part of our plan. We tried to get him back to sleep, and then finally gave up. However, this was vacation! So I went to my parents room and handed him to his sleeping Pop and ran out the door.

We had a lovely breakfast at the airport, and then, out of the blue, one of the highlights of our trip happened. As we sat at the gate, we heard cheers and applause. We looked up to see hundreds of soldiers walking across the glassed-in catwalk above us, obviously deplaning into the US from the war.

I cannot begin to do justice to the next ten minutes. Every person we could see was standing, cheering, applauding. Some whooped and hollered. Some saluted. All acknowledged. No politics, no agendas, just pride and joy for these men and women who had returned safely from battle.

Some of the soldiers jumped up and waved, some simply walked in a very dignified way, offering an occasional little salute. But you could see on every face the relief. They may not have been from Dallas, but they were home.

The best part for me was Trey. He was so taken by the display. His expression was filled with amazement. He kept saying, "Can you believe this? I'm so glad we got to see this! It's incredible." I felt his awe at the sacrifice these men had made for his family and his freedom, and I felt his great respect and pride for our life. I'm trying to describe the indescribable.

I clapped and cried. I tried really hard to act like I wasn't crying, and I thought I must have hid it well because Trey didn't say anything. Later, when Trey was explaining what happened to his mom, he told her I was crying - so I guess I didn't hide it that well!

It was a great way to begin a vacation. However much we appreciated our chance to get away was magnified by a million when we saw those soldiers. And we hadn't even gotten on the plane.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New life goal... eat one meal at The French Laundry in Napa Valley where "a great meal is a kind of journey that returns you to sources of pleasure you may have forgotten and takes you to places you haven't been before" (from their site - The restaurant is surrounded by gardens from which most of the food is harvested. Every day the chef creates two nine course tasting menus to choose from. There's a dairy that makes butter and yogurt exclusively for the restaurant. They use olive oil stored in UV ray-blocking bottles. They have a selection of salts, for crying out loud! At The French Laundry, food is an experience. Eating there would be a good time for all. (And, yes, I'm watching the Food Network right now!)

I agree with chef Thomas Keller that a "great meal is an emotional experience." Perhaps after I win the lottery and get my PhD, I can travel to Napa Valley to celebrate at The French Laundry.