family

20 Years As A Vegetarian

This month I celebrate 20 years of being meat free. I don’t remember the exact date but I had just got back from driving down to Florida with friends for spring break in April 1996. I was midway through a burger and couldn’t stop thinking about all the transport trucks we passed on our road trip along the way that were carrying livestock. It was my my much-needed “ah-ha” moment.

Though I can’t help but think I connected the dots years earlier as a little girl in Nigeria, raised on the goats I played with. As a result it was a constant struggle to get me to eat meat. Had my parents known any different — that there were other ways to get protein — perhaps they would have provided me with alternatives. But they didn’t.

I don’t blame them for this. The same way I hope my children won’t point fingers at me for raising them as vegetarians.

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This is a legit photo of a family of pigs on Exuma Island in the Bahamas, and I added the Kafka quote. Rumored to have been brought to Exuma hundreds of years ago by explorers, or to have swam to shore following a shipwreck enroute to slaughter, the origin of the islands’ swimming pigs is pretty much unknown. What is certain is how incredibly lucky they are.

I ever had much desire to go to the Bahamas being that their tourist industry is known for importing captive dolphins. But I’m bucket-listing swimming with pigs for sure!

Happy 2nd Birthday Reya!

At just one week shy of your second birthday we went through a big transition. You started daycare at Regina’s. It’s the same place Mylo began at when he was 15 months old. Classroom or playroom settings aren’t new to you. You’ve been accompanying me and the grandparents who pick-up Mylo since you were born. I figured you’d be excited to have a place to go with little people like you, who you could call your own. But you cry and clutch and plead my name in between gasps at drop-off, and it’s heartbreaking. You’ll adjust. Mylo did and so will you.

It’s not like you’re not used to being left. I went back to work when you were three months old and you’re cared for by grandparents three days a week. And at the tail end of the winter, we hired Lana, a nanny we met while eating lunch at Chipotle one day. Lana started with us by doing mornings on Fridays. Then when we had a need for full days after Goomah left for France, she was with us at least 2 1/2 days out of the week.

But let me back up a bit…

You took your first steps when you were 13 months old. You were as wobbly a walker as you were a crawler. Correction, you are a wobbly walker. Till this day! Granted babies start off shaky but by their second year, they’re usually a bit more solid on their feet. Not you. You fall down at least once a day!

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You’re also an adorable runner. I don’t want to say you run like a girl, because that term, #likeagirl, what does it mean really? But you have this extremely adorable albeit delicate way of running. You throw both of your hands up in the air and flap them around like a discombobulated bird.

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I didn’t care much for the “walking but not yet talking” stage with your brother, then you came along and reminded me why. From dumping the dogs’ water bowl to constantly undoing what we do, whether that’s folded laundry, drawers and cabinets, I think this stage lasted longer with you. I know because we’re still in it. Just the other night I caught you with your hands splashing around in the dog bowl. And the other morning you proceeded to ask for every hair product container and makeup container in my bathroom and when I told you no I was met with the biggest tantrum ever. You cry and protest and throw a fit until you’re on to the next thing. And you are in no time, on to the next thing.
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Toddler trouble.

I love that you’re growing up influenced by your brother’s toys and friends. You know your way around with race cars and superhero figurines and this will make you a cool chick. Take it from me. With that said, you’re still a girl after my own heart. You love shoes and mastered putting on your own, whether it’s snow boots, velcro sneakers, strappy sandals or crocs, since you were 18 months old. Your favorite toy is a baby doll named Stella who you got for your first birthday but who you only took interest in these last few months. And need I say that baby Stella is always naked. The clothes she came with are never on. And among your many stuffed animals is a a little yellow duck whom is your favorite.

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Neither Mylo nor you were early speakers, but you understand just about everything we say. Your first word was “ish”. Since you were 14 months old you would point to things, anything, and say it with such confidence and cuteness. You owned that word. Your first real word was “da-da,” I believe it was somewhere around your 17th month. You pronounce Mylo as “memo,” Ganga as “gonga,” and for Goomah, you drop the G and simply say “oomah.”

Some of the adorable words in your toddler vernacular and their meaning:
bah-bah = bottle
boom-boom = balloon
guck = duck
ap-pu = apple
bapes = grapes
ga-gack = cracker
bip = poop

Cheese is your favorite food. You love just about every fruit and eat broccoli like a champ. Your favorite sweet seems to be chocolate, but luckily it’s not around much for it to be a reoccurring request on your part. You still love to drink from the bottle. You’re given almond milk in the morning, in the afternoon and before bed at night. But lately, you’ll protest and manipulate your way into having a fourth bottle. You’ve never met a straw you don’t like to chew, and it’s for this reason your brother refuses to share drinks with you. (I can’t really blame him!)

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Last year for Halloween you were an adorable stuffed pumpkin and I was a farmer. While we walked throughout our Brooklyn neighborhood trick-or-treating, you happily sat in the stroller and sampled chocolate. Your brother ran up and down peoples’ stoops always remembering to ask for an extra piece of candy for his baby sister. And then he’d turn, point and exclaim, “See, the pumpkin!”
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You weren’t quite aware enough to enjoy the magic of Christmas but we still had fun. This years’ Christmas festivities should be tons more fun for you.

You flew for the first time on an airplane this past April when we went to Orlando, Florida. It was a last minute trip to escape the tough winter that we barely managed to slug our way through. You proved to be an uneventful flyer, getting sick on the cab ride there and then again during the descent into Orlando. And with that I learned to pack an extra set of clothes every time we travel now!

In July we went with Ganga and Sidi to visit Aki and his family in San Fransisco.You didn’t get sick on the way there (it might have had something to do with the fact that I pretty much starved you) but you were uncomfortable and clingy for the entire 5 1/2 hour flight nonetheless. You did however, get sick on the Uber ride to the airport to go back to NY.

Shortly after we boarded the plane, I realized you had left your sippy cup and stuffed animal by the gate. Had I not been on my laptop trying to send an important email that couldn’t be sent from my phone, I may have noticed, but I didn’t. We were literally moments away from taxiing out when a Virgin America security staffer was brought on board by a stewardess who I gave the information to. She then relayed the descriptions to an employee by the gate who quickly located your belongings. I could feel the stares upon me as we waited for them to bring us your items. Yes, I was that frazzled mother traveling alone with two children. And yes, it was a slightly embarrassing mishap, but I still got a kick out of hearing “ladybug sippy cup and fluffy dog stuffed animal, over” come from the not-so-thrilled, somewhat smug, militant security staffer. When the female version of Rambo came stomping down the aisle with your cup and dog in tow, you squealed with delight and nearly half the plane applauded. All I could think was, “You all think she’s cute now, but just wait until she starts puking!” But you didn’t. You and your brother didn’t even make it to takeoff. You both fell asleep and didn’t move for 2 1/2 hours. I even got to watch a movie – GASP!

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You’ve shown a lot of interest in the potty but you’ve yet to do much on it. And because of that, we don’t encourage you to try half as much as we probably should. Then again it’s not like we’re sitting around all day twisting our thumbs. If we’re not at work, we’re often out of town on weekends. Like Mylo, you’ll start going on the potty when you’re good and ready to go on the potty. I’m not the least bit worried.
A whole lot of cuteness on the potty.

Somehow you make a toilet look delicious :)

We didn’t frequent the beach last summer when you were barely even one. Watching babies purposely put sand in their mouths makes me shiver with discomfort. But this past summer we went a bit more and you were much easier to manage. You’re not really sure what to make of sand and you’re cautious at the water’s edge, but I think you thoroughly enjoyed the beach this year.
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End of the summer in Montauk.

My sweet daughter, you adore dogs, which is honestly no surprise — I don’t think it’s in my DNA to have a child who is not completely at ease with dogs. But that ease isn’t always such a good thing. You engage every dog on the streets and not necessarily the right way. All of us, including your brother, are trying to teach you the correct way to greet and approach dogs.
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Lucky for us (and you) Ella tolerates this, but it’s most certainly not the way to treat a dog.

Life with two littles is not always easy, but I thank the lucky stars that for my second child, they brought me you. Despite what we call your “destructo” stage, and your not-too-convenient clingy nature, you are a true joy. You can go from frustrating me with your toddler ways to demolishing me with your sweet nature all in the same minute. You’re a so-so napper but you have slept through the night since your second day earth side. And for this I am so grateful I feel almost gutted. A beautiful, healthy, happy little girl who sleeps. What more could a parent ask for?

Sitting right where you were born exactly two years ago.

Sitting right where you were born exactly two years ago to the day – 9/17/15

 

 

Happy 5th Birthday Mylo!

I’m floored by not how much you’ve grown physically from 4 to 5 years old, of which I can only really see by comparing photos, but I think I’m most taken by how much you’ve matured this past year.

I think a big part of it can be attributed to your first “real” full year at a public school. From the time you were just over one year old to four years of age, you went from daycare to preschool and on to Pre-K.

You were one of the lucky ones who scored a seat in a Pre-K classroom at a New York City public school. We almost didn’t accept. In part because we were pleased with the attentive nature of your private preschool, but also because we didn’t want to make you keep changing schools since we didn’t know (and still don’t), if we’re staying in Brooklyn for the long haul.

But at the 11th hour we did accept and it wound up being one of the best decisions we ever made.

Your first day of school & your last day of school

Your first day & your last day of pre-k

At your PS 261 classroom orientation I was one of the only parents sitting front and center with a list of questions. I nervously asked about things such as the schools’ policy on peanut butter and was horrified to learn the teachers didn’t enforce timeouts or help wipe kids’ behinds.

Before the school year began “timeouts” were still common place in our house, occurring several times a week. I don’t know how or when exactly, but over time they became less necessary. And you learned to wipe your tush. Not very well, but you do it.

In school you learned to not just write your name but you do it in a way that can’t help me think “cool logo!” I know it will change, but I will show you this one day when you are older, should you want some creative guidance.

Love the "O" inside the "L"!

Love the “O” inside the “L”!

For Halloween you were Batman and daddy was Robin. You were pretty darn cute saying “trick or treat” to everyone on their stoops. Then you’d follow it up with “can I get one for my sister?” and point to her sitting in the stroller. Much to our chagrin, you still like candy corn – I mean out of all candy Bud, come on!

Not sure why you're frowning here...

Not sure why you’re frowning here…

At Christmas I asked our neighbor Ashley to dress up as Santa. He’s jolly and friendly by nature, and also big. I bought him a Santa suit and some props off Amazon and he absolutely killed it as Saint Nick! I’ll never forget the sheer excitement in your eyes when he came through our back door holding a sack of presents. You made me fall in love with Christmas all over again in that moment.
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You absolutely could not contain your excitement.

You are the deepest sleeper EVER! I always joke that we could go into your bedroom in the middle of the night and have a dance party and you wouldn’t budge. No joke. This fact coupled with you putting an end to overnight pull-ups this past winter means we need to wake you up to pee before we go to bed. Not only do you remain sleeping in our arms in the amount of time it takes to get from your bedroom to the bathroom, but you manage to assume the fetal position on the way! When we stand you on the ground we use our arms to hold you up and our knees to push your pelvis toward the toilet’s opening so you can aim. It’s really quite a comedy.

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The winter got tough in February. Snow storm after snow storm, the days felt impossibly long when you could no longer run around the schoolyard with your friends. That’s when we discovered Teen Titans on Cartoon Network. It’s not your daddy’s favorite cartoon with its edgy and vulgar humor, but it was the only show that kept you from climbing the walls. And after so many episodes, you and your sister created the absolute cutest dance to its chanty theme song. No matter how many times I see it, I laugh.
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In April we took a trip to Orlando, Florida. You were never big on Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse so we skipped Disney and went where the superheroes are at… Universal! We rode a 3D simulated Spiderman ride and it was hands-down the BEST part of the whole park experience. It was thrilling but also kind of scary. How you didn’t freak out when I was doing just that to your left, I have no idea. What a trooper you were! You are most certainly not a trooper when it comes to boo-boos…

No matter how big or small the bump, scratch, splinter or scrape — getting, and then tending to any of boo-boo is a national tragedy with you. I seriously hope you outgrow this soon!

In July we traveled with Sidi and Ganga to San Francisco to see Uncle Aki and his family. You proved to be a wonderful flyer, despite the 5 1/2 hour mandate to pretty much sit in one place. On a scale of 1 to 10, you were a solid 11. Your sister on the other hand, well I’ll save that for her birthday post!

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Your best friends are still Olivia from upstairs and Mattias, who you practically share a birthday with. You’ve had these two friends the longest.
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 You also met and became fast, year long friends with Wyatt from your Pre-K class at PS 261.
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I’m so thankful for the way you treat your little sister. You have far exceeded my expectations as a big brother, Mylo. Sure you yell at Reya when she interferes with things you are building, such as Lego and train tracks, and you recently began telling on her (rather excessively) — but for the most part you are kind and very sweet with your sister.

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One of the things I adore but that also drives me bonkers is how you absolutely love sharing in mischief together. You scream and shriek on the top of your lungs when the tea kettle whistles. You do the same when I fire up the NutrilBullet every morning. And you get a kick out of playing disco with the lights on the wall behind your bench at the kitchen table. I will never understand this need to perpetually annoy the people who provide for you and love you. Ugh!

I am so in love with you and so proud of the little-big person you are becoming. Happy Birthday my buddinsk!

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Looking as handsome as ever on your 5th birthday.

Happy 1st Birthday Reya!

I wrote about every little thing during Mylo’s first year. However you just turned one and sadly, I haven’t written much about you at all.

One of the things I adore most about my you is your timing and gentle nature. From the second you came into the world, you’ve had a calm and gentle presence about you. When you were born you didn’t cry at all. You also didn’t open your eyes. Mylo on the other hand, came into the world ready to rock. His eyes were glued to whoever it was who was holding him.

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Mylo hit every milestone (or Mylostone) early. You took your time with the first year milestones and it’s made me feel that maybe I missed out on a lot of the “baby” stuff with your brother.

You were content to chill in your baby chair for the first three months. Up until you were eight months old I could leave you in the middle of my bed and go to the bathroom. I know it doesn’t sound safe, but believe me, you weren’t going anywhere until one day, you did. You tumbled right off the bed, and that was the end of that!

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Chillin.

You are completely attached to me. I bonded to my son without a doubt, but as soon as he became mobile, it felt as if he was always running away from me. And he still is, today! You on the other hand, move toward me. You follow my eyes with yours. You meet my smile with an even bigger one. You crawl with fervor in my direction when I walk in the door from work. You either sing praise to be cute, or whine in disdain because you want me to stop what I’m doing and pick you up. You are just entirely present with me.

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Piggies!

We introduced solids to you when you were about four months old. I barely let Mylo have a sip of water at four months, let alone solid food. Baby girl really enjoys to eat and it has been a delight watching you negotiate and ponder new textures and tastes. Some of the things you love most are steamed vegetables, grilled cheese, pasta, french fries and ice cream. And of course you’ve got a real thing for the beans, cheese and guacamole from our weekly forays to Chipotle.

Despite your healthy appetite for food, we nursed until two weeks shy of your birthday. I never expected or wanted to nurse you that long, despite the fact that I went 14 months with your brother. The part of me that wanted to end nursing looked forward to your “need” for me not being as dire. However right now, that need is still there. As there are some nights you insist on using me as a pacifier, despite the fact that nothing comes out. The transition has been bittersweet — there is something so sad about the finality of anything, especially breastfeeding.

Reya recently rode the Prospect Park carousel with wide eyes.

Riding the Prospect Park carousel with wide eyes.

You began sitting up somewhere between your 6th and 7th month. You were quite wobbly in the beginning, and you’ve had many accidents. At 9 1/2 months you found your knees. I forgot how ridiculously cute babies are when they crawl!

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It’s been real sweet watching you go from your knees to your butt and back again, contemplating how to make them work together. You also do an adorable backwards army crawl.

You adore clapping. You return other peoples’ claps with your own and it is so sweet! You also enjoy doing a crawling face plant into pillows. The more pillows there are, the harder you’ll dive into them. All you have to do is say the word “pillow” and you do it. It is the absolute cutest!

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At 10 1/2 months you began standing up and it’s clear how proud of yourself you are when you do this. I am too, because there were times I wasn’t convinced it was going to happen! Walking is next and I know life is about to get more interesting, and difficult. I did not love the walking-but-not-talking stage with Mylo. Maybe because he didn’t listen to me. Here’s hoping you redeem this part of toddlerhood for me!

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Bam Bam!

My mom recently taught you how to blow kisses with your hands. It’s pretty darn cute.

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Rey-Rey on her 1st birthday!

I am overjoyed to have a daughter. And even more so because it is you who fills this role. Happy Birthday my Rey-Rey!

 

Reya’s First Two Months

Reya my love, you have been an absolute pleasure of a newborn baby.

I mainly say that because you SLEEP. And for this I am so very grateful!

We got off to a rough start with breastfeeding. The first week was trying and oh-so very painful. And I didn’t expect it to be. Especially since I had the very same experience with your brother Mylo when he was born three years ago. I sort of expected my breasts to remember. But they didn’t.

We spent the first couple of weeks holed up in my bedroom with my white T-shirt draped over our cheap Ikea bed lamp the midwives put there the day you were born – to dim the room. I did almost everything but eat in the bedroom. I fed you, changed you and would lay down next to you to steal some shut eye. The cracked nipples, latching issues, raging headaches and engorgement lasted one week – one very painful week – but then we were on our way.

Since the first week of your life, you’ve been sleeping 4-5 hour initial stretches. This past week it’s increased to seven, sometimes even eight hours. That’s not to say we don’t have the occasional bad night, we do. But it’s just that: occasional. At night you start out in the co-sleeper next to my side of the bed and when you wake up I unloosen your swaddle and put you in bed between us.

A couple of weeks old...

A couple of weeks old…

You spend the rest of the early morning hours cuddled up against me, breastfeeding. We hold hands, you snort and grunt, and we nod off back to sleep. It’s not the most comfortable position for me, (I prefer to sleep on my left side) but for the first time I’m getting a true taste of what it means to co-sleep.

See, I tried to do this with your brother but it wasn’t very enjoyable or restful. I looked through other blog posts to point to proof and only found one that said he stopped co-sleeping peacefully at about five months. THIS. CANNOT. BE. I must’ve been sugar coating it.

My big non-sleeping baby holding my little sleeping baby.

My baby who doesn’t sleep and my baby who does sleep.

It was difficult to know what color your eyes were those first couple of weeks. Mainly because your eyes were rarely open. But they’re wide open now and they’re a beautiful dark blue. Whether or not they’ll change, I don’t know.

You were born with a “stork bite” on your left eye lid and in between your eyes. When you were just a couple of days old you got your first case of acne. Baby acne. And apparently it’s to blame on me, or my hormones anyway. Luckily it doesn’t bother you and is no indication that you’ll have acne when you become a pubescent teenager.

When you were five weeks old your acne took on another meaning. Your cheeks became so red and raised. Dr. Google had me worrying it could be eczema but your pediatrician confirmed it was cradle cap. It was barely on your head and mostly all over your cheeks. A little olive oil, bacitracin and eliminating eggs from my diet for the past two weeks has helped nip it in the bud.

You began smiling back at me a few weeks ago and oh my is it a beautiful smile. I’m overcome by a profound pang of joy when you do this.

You love to be worn in the Ergo baby carrier that the women from my office gave to me at my Baby Sprinkle. Since you were one day old you’ve been worn all over Brooklyn.

As for the taking the bottle… that’s been a work in progress. You tricked us all when you took a bottle from dad at five weeks without even coming up for air, then not again after. But soon enough, you will have to.

I wanted another child to add to our family so much. So to have miscarried twice was such a blow. The third time though, it stuck. I then spent a good portion of my pregnancy worrying if I could hack it. Especially the newborn stage. Yet I couldn’t be happier that you are you. The child who drifted into my life and has made things pretty easy. So far.

Knowing that all my hurdles and hiccups brought me here, to this moment. Everything hard and trying that I’ve been through, has been a step closer to becoming your mom. And I am the better for it.

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A couple of months old…

 

Fun With My Son

I was recently reflecting on photos in my iPhone from this past summer. Seeing all the pics reminds me that with just one week to go until my due date, that I’ve had a hell of a fun summer with my son Mylo.

I made an extra effort to create memories of the time we had together. Even if he won’t remember them…I will never forget them.

I took him to the ocean five times. Two times it was just him and I. The other trips were with friends who have children too. Mylo loves the beach! Sure he loves the waves and the sand. He also loves climbing on the unused lifeguard chairs that are laying down in the sand. But what really cracks me up is that he especially loves to eat on the beach. And if you know my son you would know then why that’s so amusing. Mylo doesn’t have a whole lot of interest in food, and as a result it’s not always so easy to feed him. But the second we claim our spot in the sand, Mylo’s in the cooler and the seagulls are surrounding him.

Mylo and Olivia

Mylo and Olivia

Final day at the beach together.

Final day at the beach together.

I recently took him to a water park on Long Island called Splish Splash. I’ll admit, it was a bit too early to introduce him to water rides. It also turned out to be a super long day, not to mention expensive too. BUT, we went with a friend of mine, two of her young children and her 13 year old niece. So there were many hands on deck and despite the nasty spill Mylo took while chasing his buddy James, he had a lot of fun.

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The food options left a little more to be desired.

The food options at Splish Splash left a little more to be desired.

Last week we went with my friend Jenn, her two kids and her nephew to Hoyt Farm on Long Island. What a little gem of a place!

On one side of Hoyt Farm is two playgrounds and a small water park with fountains for cooling off. On the other side is a nature preserve. The two are connected by windy trails and an expansive field of rolling hills.

Mylo rockin' out on what Jenn's kids call "Big Mama"

Mylo rockin’ out on what Jenn’s kids call “Big Mama”

Mylo and Kailee feed the goats

Mylo and Kailee feed the goats

I’m certainly going to miss our time together as mommy and only child. It’s been an incredible three years full of sleep deprivation, learning curves and loads of fun. But I also look forward to the next chapter of our lives… when Mylo’s sibling completes us as a family.

Happy 3rd Birthday Mylo, My Love

Last year I had a toddler, this year I have a little boy. And what a memorable year it’s been!

I’ve enjoyed your toddler-hood but would consider you more difficult at 3 then how you were when you were 2 or 2 1/2. Perhaps because you learned to talk. Or because you know what you like and dislike. For instance, you don’t like to be told “no.” But then again, who does?

You were sick a few times over the winter, especially at Christmas when you made my brother and his wife nuts every time you went to lovingly inspect and kiss your baby cousin. We took a much-needed family vacation in March to Florida. This is right around the time you became obsessed with Curious George. You were on the cusp of really using your words but “George-speak” often got in the way. By May, though, in the matter of one week, you began speaking in full sentences.

What an awesome game changer!

You nearly knocked me off my seat one evening while we ate dinner at Chipotle. Toward the end of our meal when I offered you a bite of your cheese quesadilla you shook your head, put your hand on your belly and said “Mylo tummy hurts, no eat food.” I said “Oh, that’s too bad. I guess we can’t get frozen yogurt afterwards.” Your eyes widened then and you quickly recanted. “Mylo tummy feel better. Get frozen yogurt after dinner?”

It’s conversations like these that make my day.

I won’t lie, I’m terrified about bringing another life into this world. Your sibling is due one month after your birthday and our lives are going to change. Big time. I’m nervous about how the changes may affect you. Yet I’m also optimistic that you’ll adapt. Perhaps even better then we will.

You’ve been adorable during the course of my pregnancy. You haven’t done it in a while, but you like to peer into my deep cavernous belly button and ask if the baby is going to come out there. The first time you ever did that it sent me into a fit of hysterics. When I ask if you are going to have a brother or sister you’ve often replied sister. Lately though, it’s been “both.” This morning when daddy asked you the question, you replied that I was having a monster truck.

You’re sensitive. You’re caring. And you are absolutely hilarious. Happy Birthday to the little boy who forever changed, shaped and bettered my life.

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My big boy on his 3rd birthday!

Cousin Charlie

My cousin Charlie passed away last Friday, catching us all somewhat by surprise.

Our history with Charlie – for everyone other than my mom – was regretfully not that long.

I couldn’t have been any older than 12 when my mom came home one day and announced that she had bumped into her long-lost cousin while food shopping at Waldbaum’s. (Keep in mind this was before email and cell phones.) It was a weekday and she invited him for dinner. My aunt drove in from New Jersey, and my grandma came over too. It was a reunion and they were thrilled to have him back in their lives.

Charlie needed money, so he began cleaning and doing odd jobs around our house. His presence quickly became a familiar one, if not also a bit comical. Even at a young age, we were aware of how vastly different and cool Charlie was. He was my blue-collar kid cousin, though he was twice my age.

Charlie was a burly guy with tightly wound curls, bushy eyebrows and an infectious smile. He donned a true Brooklyn accent and thick gold chains. While doing work around the house, he often had visible “butt crack” which my brother and I found absolutely hysterical. He’d clean my mom out of food faster than me and my brother and our friends could. Charlie taught me what a boiler maker was (the kind you chug) when I was a freshman in high school.

And then he moved away.

In the 90’s Charlie headed west to Las Vegas where things were cheaper and he had his mom to look after. His mom Lilly lived to be 100 years old! Charlie, Lily in Vegas Newspaper

Charlie’s absence was definitely felt, but his name was popular in our house and he called to speak to my folks often. As I became older I observed a relationship between him and my dad that warmed my heart. They were friends but my dad also assumed the role of life coach, relationship therapist and parent to Charlie. My brother and I often joked that my dad got great pleasure from this, and he did.

There are so many wonderful memories with Charlie, nearly all of them make me smile and laugh. Like the time my dad was in Vegas for a trade show. He invited Charlie and told him to dress casually. What did Charlie show up in? A baby blue tuxedo! As if you don’t naturally notice a beefy man in a blue tuxedo, my dad recalls the commotion he made – while navigating the booths in search of him – with equal parts affection and embarrassment.

And then there was the final time I saw him in Vegas last year. My close friend Lauren tagged along on that family trip and the night we met up with Charlie he came on to her. Charlie told Lauren he was looking for a roommate and gave her his card, below. It was hysterical and harmless, but of course my dad directed (or tried anyway) Charlie’s attention some place else.

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Enough said.

I think Charlie looked at me a bit differently after I became a mom. But that’s ok. I’m pleased he got to meet and shower my son with kisses, even if all Mylo wanted to do was grab hold of Charlie’s eyebrows.

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December 2010 at my parents house

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My husband, my brother and my cousin Charlie in Vegas, 2011

Cousin Charlie was my crazy Uncle Eddie (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). I’m told there’s one in every family, but I also know that Charlie was one of a kind. I’m so glad my mom found him and shared him with us. He will be missed.

Family Fun in Florida

Last month we took a short but very sweet family vacation to Florida. Other then a beach trip to Montauk, it was our first vacation completely alone with our son Mylo. I honestly didn’t know how what to expect – would I feel smothered by having no alone time? Was it a big mistake to share a hotel room with him?

From the minute I woke him up at 5:15 in the morning to head to the airport, it was an adventure.

A true truck lover, I intentionally packed his toy airplane in his carry-on. I knew having a tangible toy plane would help him connect the one he was sitting in, to the one he liked to pretend fly through the air. Mylo was a trooper the entire flight.

Waiting to board at Laguardia

Waiting to board at Laguardia

Our hotel room wasn’t ready for us when we arrived but the front desk was kind enough to store our luggage. I took Mylo to the ladies room and changed him out of the sneakers, sweats and fleece he was wearing and into sandals, shorts and a t-shirt.

We had just arrived some place where you could really feel the sun on your skin. There was blue water and there were palm trees. Sure it was only Florida, but we had left behind more than four months of cold winter temperatures. It was paradise as far as I was concerned and somehow, Mylo “got” this.

You can tell it's our first day from how white my boy is.

You can tell it’s our first day from how white my boy is.

Mylo fell madly in love with the beach and the waves, which made us both very happy. One of his favorite activities while there was removing sand from the beach. He would gather up fists full of sand then throw them into the ocean. It didn’t seem to phase him any that he had a whole lot of ground to cover!

Beachin' it!

Beachin’ it!

There was some concern over what three vegetarians – the youngest of us being a very picky veg – would find to eat in Florida but we managed just fine. In fact three out of the four dinners we had were magnificent and could have given many New York City restaurants a run for their money.

As far as sharing a hotel room with Mylo, it was heavenly. The beds which were only fulls, left me and Jason playing bumper cars with my bump, literally. Not to mention that I can’t stand having to vie for blankets. So the remainder of the trip I shared a bed with Mylo and it was some of the best sleep I had had in a long time.

Canoodling my kid

Canoodling my kid

And there was alone time. One afternoon when Mylo fell asleep on the lounge chairs  by the pool, I lay next to him reading while Jason went for a run. Another time, Jason took Mylo to the beach playground while I went for a run in the morning.

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Mylo tackles a slide

On the last night of our trip my we got together with my childhood friend Rachel and her family, who drove from there home in Wellington to have dinner  with us.

Rach and me, friends since grade school.

Rach and me, friends since grade school.

Overall, Fort Lauderdale left more to be desired as a vacation spot. When I was in college Fort Lauderdale was a money town, where yachters went to vacation. Prior to our trip, I did not know this was no longer the case. There were more spring breakers then we would have preferred – especially at our ocean front hotel – which was not cheap. Apparently it’s still the norm to pack six to eight teens into one room.

We had a wonderful time on our much-needed family vacay to Florida, but we certainly wouldn’t return to Fort Lauderdale.

Mylo was not the least bit thrilled we pulled him away from his sand removal project for this family photo.

Mylo was not the least bit thrilled that we pulled him away from his sand removal project to pose in this family photo.