Monday, August 23, 2010

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Because we believe in sleep, our lives revolve around nap times and bedtime rituals. One of my rituals is to walk around the block with both kids before The Edge's first nap. A reasonable person might assume it would take, oh 10, maybe 15 minutes to walk around one city block, tops. But this activity can kill anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes because The Edge must inspect every sprinkler head, must observe every ant moving a leaf and must point and giggle at every small yapping dog.

Peapod mostly delights in her brother's pokey pace, unless they are tantalizingly close to The Rock Section, which is both kids' favorite part of the block loop. If they are close, she will tug his chubby little hand impatiently and implore him to hurry up until they have arrived at this most magical of destinations.  The Rock Section is just the area on somebody's front yard between the sidewalk and the street where they have planted some cactus-type succulent plants and filled the rest of the space in with small rocks. These people have probably done this to save on their water bill. And maybe to get dogs to stop pooping on on their property. Who knows.

But my kids think it is the best thing ever. They stop there every time to pick up little rocks and put them on bigger rocks. Sometimes they put the little rocks on the leaf of what appears to be a yukka plant and pull the leaf down so the rocks can roll off.  Whee!

Not unlike the rhythm of my nap-driven days, my years also have a rhythm to them. Every August I rack my brain for unique and fun birthday ideas in preparation for September. You see, September is a double birthday month for Team Mihm:  both The Esposo and Peapod celebrate their birthdays in September. And when you have a spouse who gives you the trapeze for your own birthday, and a little girl who has been talking about her birthday for 7 months, you can't just phone it in.

So I think I've got The Esposo's locked down. But I was still working out the details for Peapod's celebration in my head the other day when she solved the whole thing for me. We were on our morning city block loop when Peapod got really excited.  "I know, Mommy!"  she said,  "We can have my birthday party at the Rock Section!"

We cannot do that, as the Rock Section is technically the bottom edge of somebody else's front lawn.

But her excited proclamation was a great reminder not to buy into the over-blown-kidz-birthday-party-bandwagon and realize that if I can deliver on as much fun as a pile of rocks, I should be good to go.

But we should probably have some bubbles, just in case.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

July in Review - A Derivative Entry

The MVP's July In Review was such a compelling work that I felt peer-pressured by an infant into reviewing the very same month -- but from the perspective of Team Mihm. So here, in a nutshell, is our July In Review!


First, we traveled to Cape Cod, where we enjoyed the beaches, sand, sea air, saltwater taffy, dune grass, and our first taste of Four Seas Ice Cream, thanks to our good friends and Cape Cod regulars, The A Team.  Peapod experimented with her first official set of arm-band-swim-floaties, while The Edge took to heaping shovels full of sand onto his own beach chair, as you can see if you look carefully at the photo below.

A mere 24 hours after our arrival, I turned 24, oops, I mean 42.  Ever the clever one, The Esposo surprised me with a Price-Is-Right-Style gift presentation.  He put three envelopes in front of me, named "Thrill Seeker," "Part-Time Daredevil," and "Calculated Risk-Taker."  I chose the first one.  He made me open the other two first, to see what I did not win.  I did not win tennis lessons.  Boooo!  I also did not win trampoline lessons.  Lesser boo, but boo nonetheless.

But I did win.... flying trapeze lessons!  Yes, really!  Huge yaaayyy!!!  Hooray for The Esposo!

Ok, more on that later.

After a few days on The Cape, we went to Boston.  There we visited the Public Gardens, where the classic children's story "Make Way for Ducklings" takes place. One of us was very excited about this portion of the trip.

Later, we took a road trip out to Tufts University, The Esposo's gorgeous and green alma matter.  On the way, we may or may not have engaged in an animated debate about whether an entire university can actually be closed.  I suppose he was trying to manage our expectations since it was the weekend and it was July.  Plus after lunch it had started to rain.  Hard.  Like the kind of rain that attracts CNN reporters wearing North Face jackets with hoods.

Anyway, as a graduate of the large public university known as Go Blue U, I was certain that closing a college campus was impossible.  I was also wrong.  When we got to the Tufts campus, not a human was to be seen and not a building was to be open.  Apparently, students attend this peculiar institution to learn things and study, and when this is not happening, they go elsewhere.  I, myself, am not familiar with this phenomenon, having spent summers at Go Blue U trying to rappel down the side of Angel Hall at 1:45am, with the thrum of rap music and the smell of stale beer constantly permeating the warm summer air.  Anyway, the bookstore was closed, so we were reduced to ordering Tufts souvenirs online.  Totally not as fun.

On the last day of our trip, we took a ride on the fabled Swan Boats of Boston with some friends who had recently moved to the area from San Francisco.  This started off what seemed like an idyllic end to an idyllic vacation.  We bid our friends and the Public Garden farewell, packed up the rental van, and headed to the airport.

Then somehow our iPhones let us down.  The GPS was infuriatingly about 35 seconds behind our actual location, which does not sound like a lot, but is actually quite significant when you're traveling on the freeway and pointing at your exit that just went by.  This happened so many times that it went through the Circle of Funny. You know where it's really funny, then it's not funny at all, then it's really funny again? That. There was one point where we seemed to have entered some kind of festival, and were sitting in traffic next to a bunch of food tents and people dressed up. I was afraid that someone might decorate our van if we sat still there much longer.

At last, we reached the airport and we thought we were home free. Our plan was to get checked in, go through security and then hang out with Nana, who had been traveling with us, to say our last goodbyes. But when we got to the other side of security, it became clear that it would be difficult or impossible for her to get to us. We had just traveled with her for 6 days, and not said a proper goodbye!

We boarded the plain, exchanging phone messages with Nana, hoping she was not as sad as we were. Then we sat. And sat. And sat. We sat for over an hour before we even pulled away from the gate. This is not a big deal unless you are four humans sitting in three seats, and one of these humans insists on standing on your thighs and using your head as a lever to see over the seat behind you.

Then The Edge's fussiness started, followed by turbulence. Fortunately Peapod and The Edge have not taken physics yet and so they are unaware of the consequences of plumetting 33,000 feet straight to earth. I have taken it twice. I cannot explain The Esposo's relative calm except that he had a beer and I didn't.

About seven hours later, we landed at LAX. Home free, right? Wrong.

All our luggage showed up except... The Edge's car seat. This meant waiting another 90 minutes in the airport with two over-tired kids (it was 10:30pm -- 1:30am by our body clocks) and two Leaning Towers of Smart Carts full of luggage. The low point was when Peapod dropped her plastic hotel key (she likes to keep hotel keys as souvenirs) behind a sofa and started bawling "Moooommmmmyyyyyy!!!!! Get it baaaaaaccck!!!!!!" at the exact same moment that The Edge decided it was super funny to smack me on the face and laugh like The Joker. Fortunately I had a zen moment and was able to put it all in perspective:  nobody was injured. We were not in a hospital in a foreign country. Nobody had died. It was all ok. I put The Edge down, hoisted the couch (it was one of those weird superhuman-strength-moments), picked up Peapod's hotel key (and a magnet shaped like a dog -- bonus!), handed it to her, and smiled.

Within 5 minutes, the Virgin American attendant had gotten me a loaner car seat and The Esposo had appeared with the car. Home again, home again, fiddle dee dee!

So that was the trip.

A couple of weeks later, Team Mihm headed out to the Santa Monica Pier for me to redeem my birthday present.  See films below.

If this flying trapeze stuff seems scary to anyone, let me put it into context. While I was doing this, The Esposo wrangled two kids under the age of four on the Santa Monica Pier for two hours straight. Now that's scary.

Let's hear it for July! (And my fabulous Esposo!)