The Beauty in a Touch

The rascals ready to head outside

Maria and Mario have been giving us a run for our money lately.  Jon and I have threatened on a few too many occasions that we are going to send them off to a deserted island to make it on their own.  I think they are at the point of agreeing to such a proposal. Maria asked me tonight whether Jon and I would agree to let her move in with a boyfriend if she had just gone on one date with him.  Yeah, I am not kidding.  Age 5. Yikes. Of course, at this point, I am ready to bellow “yes, go!” but I restrain myself knowing that my mind is warped from too many jigsaw puzzles and barbie dramas.  I look so forward to the weekends but by the time 7 pm Sunday hits, I am done.  Cooked. 

Me and the babes posing for the camera

The family did have a good weekend this past weekend, however. We went to “Big Mario’s house on Saturday afternoon to go fishing.  Mario had fished with Jon a few weeks back and Jon thought it would be great to have the entire family out on the dock fishing.  He got poles, lines, bait.  We got to Mario’s, said our hellos and then headed down to the dock for some good ol’ fishing.  While we waited for Jon to get the poles together, we threw catfood into the water to attract the fish.  Mario cracked us up with his utter joy in seeing the ripples formed from the fish grabbing at the food.  He would see a snatch and his eyes would bulge out, his right arm would shoot up, and he would exclaim “look mom!” Precious.  Maria just wanted to put her feet in the water and move them around in the mud.  She has always been sensual – feeling the silk of her blankie, soaking her hair in the bath.  She loved the feel of the mud on her feet.  After Jon got the poles together, he brought one to Mario.  He clung to me and yelled “no, mom – I am scared.”  Huh?! Jon informed me that during the last fishing trip, a catfish’s barb had gotten Mario and so he may be gunshy (or hookshy?) now.  That he was.  He wanted nothing to do with fishing.  Well, one down. 

Maria and her dad with their catch

Maria gave it a try.  Within 5 minutes, she and her father got a catfish.  But after that one, she became bored because the fish did not bite right away.  Poor Jon.  So much for our lovely family outing.  I gave them a bath (they adore Mario and Vicki’s bubble bath tub) and Jon continued his fishing all alone.  We did have a kickin’ pasta family meal thanks to Aunt Vicki who made meatballs, homemade bread, and zucchini muffins with icing.  Yum! 

On Sunday, we hosted Grandma Lolo at Stauf’s.  What a time that was.  My poor mom.  She had bad allergies and then the kids were insane with energy and goofiness, and would not sit still or give us a moment to talk.  I was ready to strangle them both but there were too many people around.  I continue to struggle with allowing them to talk and express themselves at the table (I am not one of those parents that think kids should be silent at the dinner table) but not allowing them to be rude and interruptive.  

Sibling love

When we got home, I told Jon I was ready to go nuts.  He had his talk with them (“You will listen to us” with Mario responding “no, I will not.”).  We all went our respective ways to cool off.  It worked because within fifteen minutes we were off on a run in the stroller through Grandview.  Maria and Mario brought their coloring and sticker books and Maria played teacher with Mario telling him how smart he was and how cute he was 9. 

We rushed down to COSI when we got home for Maria’s friend’s birthday party.  Jon and I watched Mario while Maria went to her private room.  He had a blast.  We decided he is definitely going to be a mountain climber or an extreme sport adventurer.  He climbed up these wood decorations on the outer part of the steps and did not miss a beat.  There were nooks and crannies that he needed to step in or avoid and he was right on.  It was hilarious.  And he wanted no help.  If he did not get it right away, he kept trying with all of his heart.  He does not give up.  Maria had a blast with her friends and was fine being on her own for two hours. 

We came home and called it a night staying around the house.  Mario had a few meltdowns because he failed to take a nap during the day.  He hit me a few times, also, which promptly led me to place him down and walk away from him.  Within three seconds of being put down, I hear “MOMMMMMY!” along with whimpering of “sorry mommy.”  He laid next to me on the couch watching a movie before bed, and at one point he placed the inside of his hand on my cheek.  I looked over at him and he whispered “I love you mom.”  Meltdown.  That is all it takes to forget the major tantrums he had throughout the day.  He knows the tricks. 

We went upstairs to play before bed and Maria played barbies.  She told Jon that her barbies were models and that they were all “perfect.”  Jon asked her if she thought I was perfect.  Maria responded “no, mom is alright.”  I gave her a sigh and told her that I would rather be smart and funny and engaged in life than be a size 0.  Hopefully that soaks in.  However, she did go on to clarify that these models also went to college.  Ok, getting better.  We eventually got them to bed but Maria came downstairs about a half hour later.  Jon asked what she needed and she said she wanted to tell me something. 

She came over to the computer and said “Mom, I am sorry for saying that you are not perfect earlier.  You are the best mom.”  A second meltdown.  And she got what she wanted – me upstairs laying with her until she fell asleep.  Sometimes giving in is the best route to go.




An entire month before my travel to Oaxaca, I lamented about my upcoming trip with colleagues, friends and family. 

“The flights are so awful.” “I am going to miss the kids.” “Mario is having his big cookout for the 4th.” “I just want to rest on my three days off.”

The day crept up on me and I found myself dragging my body out of bed at 4:45 am to get ready for a 5 am pick-up.  Kissed the babies good-bye and hugged my hubby and off I went to the airport.  A coffee and oatmeal.  A Sky Mall magazine. A few words with my younger brother. A subway sandwich. Peanut M&Ms. A cranked neck.  We were there.


Plaza down from the hotel where kids play soccer

My younger sis, Sarah, has lived in Oaxaca for close to three years. She met the love of her life while going to school in the city.  He is a native to Oaxaca – his family lives in the hills abridging the city. We met him about two years ago.   He survived the family orientation. He posseses a calm demeanor, which is perfect for my energetic sis. He is a photographer – she is a writer.  They both love adventure and coffee and dancing.  They decided to “go on this journey together” and marry.  That is the reason for my departure to Oaxaca.

Sarah picked us up in a flat bed truck owned by a Mexican friend of hers.  We drove in the flat bed with the luggage back to Sarah’s apartment and our hotel.  The hotel was quaint and adorable. My room consisted of a bed, a desk, and a bathroom.  There was a courtyard on the first level and a terrace on the second level.  The courtyard had a small fountain with two snapping turtles floating in it. 

My turtles

We went to restaurants, we drank, we laughed, we reminisced.  It was wonderful.  The weather was perfect. No

The crew partying it up at a local restaurant

 humidity. Perfect blue skies. Puffy white clouds.  Large twisting trees. Incredibly difficult hiking trails. Crosses. It did not feel foreign to me – it felt like my little sister’s home.  Her wedding is able to be summed up with two rather opposing adjectives – quaint and spectacular. 

The sister and brother of her husband, Jorge, hosted the wedding in their backyard.

Getting ready for the ceremony

  Jorge’s nieces were the flower girls.  A mariachi band played. They wrote their story as the ceremony and they recited their own vows.  We danced with a live turkey. We drank Mezcal.  We jammed to old ’80s music. And at the end of the night, Sarah looked just as radiant and beautiful as she had the moment before the wedding.  

Dancing the night away

As I stood next to her and looked over at my little brother Jack who is six years younger than Sarah, flashes of their childhood came back to me with a vengeance and it seemed surreal that I was now standing in a Mexican yard watching one of them marry and the other graduate college soon.  There are moments where I feel like life is moving like molasses and the day will never end, especially when Maria and Mario are ont heir worst behavior.  But I see my little sis and bro and I see my babies at age 5 and almost 3, and I know that it in the end, it all goes lightening speed.  As it should, I suppose. Who would want to remain in high school forever?!

Dancing with the turkey

On Sunday, Jorge’s mother hosted a blessing ceremony at the same house.  She cried as she caressed Sarah’s hair and explained to us in Spanish how important it was for her to give a Catholic blessing to the new couple.  Her emotion moved us all.  The Bible verse read was raw and appropriate – one I had never heard before.  She etched the sign of the cross in the air to both Sarah and Jorge and hugged them hard.  It was one of the most tender moments.  We continued to drink Mexcal and beer and eat home-cooked food and soak in the Mexican atmosphere.  We ended the night with a round of pizzas and a game of cards.  Does life get any better?   

Meanwhile, Maria Grace celebrated at her Aunt Susie’s house with all of her aunts and her Grandma Lolo.  They toasted one to us around 6:30 pm (5:30 Mexico time when the wedding

Maria partying with her aunts

 began).  They laughed and partied and swam all night – Maria Grace had a blast with Grandma Lolo who treated her like a princess for three days straight.  She came home with toys and dresses, and coloring books and lots of fun memories. 

Proud fisherman

Mario celebrated with a night at Grandma Ionno’s house and then a trip to Uncle Mario’s house where he caught his first fish.  A catfish he would have you know.  And it was really big he would have you know.  A man’s man.

Canada or Bust

“Should we take the kids to Toronto for the wedding?” 

“Would we drive?” 

“It will be too much to fly. It would be fun to see all of the Italian relatives.” 

“But we will be in a car for eight plus hours with the kids and your parents.” 

“Let’s flip a coin.” 

After much back and forth, we decided to go for it.  Pack the car up with lots of snacks and games and books and movies.  Pick up the in-laws in Marion, Ohio to head up to Toronto with us.  Make sure someone watches our pup for four days. Ensure the “out of office” is on our email.  Confirm Maria has her wedding dress she picked out from Target and her “high heels” that she demanded to where to the event.  

We picked the kids up early from school, which always results in exuberance and glee and spazzing out throughout the halls (teachers either love us or hate us based on our (or I should say mostly, my, “laissez faire” attitude with the children).  We headed up north to grandma and grandpa’s house, got on the road, and stopped within an hour to eat some Wendy’s fast food (yes, I enjoy my food stops!).  A few value meals and a round of frosty shakes and we were back in the car watching Pocahontas as we traveled towards Cleveland.  

About three hours later, 10:30 pm, we stopped at our hotel.  Maria and Mario were so excited about staying at a hotel that it took us an hour to get them to fall asleep.  Eventually, Mario ended up with me in my bed and Maria with Jon in his bed.  I don’t know which kid is worse to sleep with since Mario wakes up crying in the middle of the night not knowing where he is and Maria kicks around the bed all night.  

M&M trying to sleep on the floor but Mom's and Dad's beds were too tempting!


When we woke up on Friday morning, the first thing out of Maria’s mouth was “can we go to the pool?”  Mario chimed in with “yeah, let’s go NOW!”  We walked down to our breakfast buffet and each devoured vastly different breakfasts (Jon with his eggs and eggs and eggs; me with my numerous cereals and toast; Mario with his waffles and dabs of yogurt; and Maria with her hodge podge of waffles, various cereals in one bowl (her new favorite thing to do for breakfast), muffins, and toast).  After our meal, the kids and I jumped in our swim suits and headed to the hotel pool.  It was surprisingly warm.  We splashed around for an hour or so and then got the boot from dad and the in-laws who wanted to get on the road. 

The water babies


“Niagara Falls, here we come!”  

We all piled into the Yukon (which is a big automobile but with two kids, four adults and a good amount of luggage , food, and toys, it is cramped) and headed onward to Buffalo, New York.  We finally made it to the Falls (after swearing we were lost on a couple of occasions).  We decided not to park and walk to the Falls because of the rain and our desire to just get to Toronto (Maria later told her girlfriend who had gone to the Falls, too, that we just “drove by them.”  Lovely!).   

Although we could not stop at the Falls, we could stop for lunch!  We stopped at another Wendy’s along the Niagara strip and chowed down on nuggets, fries, and more frostys.  We jumped back in the truck, when within five minutes, we felt a drop on the right side of the car and a terrible grinding noise.  

“What the he–?” I whispered to Patty, Jon’s mom.  

Oh please  tell me that it is nothing and the noise will stop soon.  Yeah, wishful thinking.   

A flat tire due to a piece of aluminum lodged in the big ol’ Yukon tire.  

At least we were near a house with a gravel driveway.  We pulled over.  Jon and I tried to change the tire but that was quite the joke. The man who owned the house was in a mechanic’s suit and had a work van so I kept hoping he would pity us.  Jon and I had to look hilarious outside of the truck, combing through manual pages, sliding under the truck to try to find tools.  Finally, he came over to “see what we were up to” (a nice way of saying “you dumbasses, I want you off my property so I am gonna help you in whatever way I can).” 

Workin' on that tire!


He began to help us but Jon had already called Triple A to get a “professional” on the scene.  Luckily, the Triple A guy came in less than a half hour and had us fixed up in less than that time.  Meanwhile, Patty and I couldn’t help but roll about the whole event.  

“What’s next?!” 

Surprisingly, the trip was pretty quiet after that incident and we arrived at Philip and Lucy’s house (our cousins) at 5 or so.  Lucy had cooked for us (of course).  She had a salad with tomatoes that had been picked 6 months earlier!  Is that insane?  And they were delicious!  She also had pasta soup, bread, pizza, cheese, fried cheese dumplings, and chocolate chip cookies.  Ahh, heaven.  We ate and ate and ate.  Finally, we decided we had to hit the road for our hotel in order to get some sleep for the night.  

The hotel was very European in style with a crisp, white, modern lobby but very plain, sparse rooms with two beds, a tv and a bathroom.  Maria and Mario just wanted to know where the pool was located.  We jumped in our suits and headed down for a late night swim.  The pool was freezing!  Luckily, there was a tepid hot tub in the pool area, which Mario enjoyed thoroughly.  Jon sat in the hot tub with Mario for the most part, while I caught Maria jumping into the frozen pool.  We trekked it back upstairs to our room, got in our pjs, and goofed around the room until finally zonking out at 11:30.  That, to me, was the most memorable, wonderful time of the trip.  

The next morning, the kids and I went to the breakfast buffet bar, which was way too amazing for Maria and me.  We salivated with each step around the hotcakes, the donuts, the chocolate croissants, the bacon, the cereals.   Mario, on the other hand, could have cared less about it.  After stuffing ourselves, we headed to the pool (nothing better than being completely bloated from gorging on food and then stuffing yourself into a tight bathing suit).  Mario bolted to the tepid hot tub – he is so tiny and skinny that he immediately freezes when he gets into a pool that is not heated.  Of course, I made him get out of the tub every five minutes due to my fear that his organs would melt even though the water was tepid, and he sat on the top step the entire time kicking the water around.  Maria loved jumping in the water to me and then acting like I was her prince and we had just got married.  Yes, everything these days revolves around boyfriend and girlfriend and prince and princess – even swimming. 

We headed to the wedding that afternoon, which was beautiful, simple and very catholic.  After the wedding, the families hosted the guests in the downstairs of the church with prosciutto, olives, cheeses and bread.  Desserts and fruit, too.  We all chowed down only to be fed a seven course meal a few hours later at the reception.  Yes, these Italian weddings can pack on ten pounds in one day.  Maria fell back in love with her Italian cousin, 9 year-old Jean-Franco.  A couple of years ago they played around at another Italian wedding but he was younger then and a little more amenable to playing with a 3-year-old girl.  This time around, he is 9 and “mature” and she is just old enough at 5 to be “an annoying little girl” versus a cute little toddler.  However, she was still able to spend some time with him, lying her head on his arm while he played games on his i Touch (yeah, age 9).  As she confessed later to us in the car “that was my favorite part of the trip.”  Mario ran around like a mad man, sliding across the dance floor, making monster noises, and flirting with the hot Italian ladies.   

Maria dancing with her cousins


Mario passed out at 10:30 pm just like a frat boy who parties it up so hard through the night that he lays out flat in the middle of the room when it finally hits him.  Maria made it to her car seat but was out within five minutes.  It was actually snowing when we left the wedding (ahh, I miss that now that I am dealing with 87 degrees and humidity!). 

On Sunday, we promised we would get out quickly so we could deal with the traffic and we could get home at a reasonable time.  “Get out quickly” is not a term used in the Italian culture.  There was no way we were getting out of our cousins’ house without sitting down to a big ol’ Italian lunch of pasta, manicotti, shrimp, pizza.  I am not complaining by any stretch, however, because I enjoyed every minute of it, especially the act of just sitting around and talking, relaxing, catching up.  We don’t do that enough. 

Mario with his comfort items for the trip home (bink and blue blankie)


We took off around 1:3o with the stomachs full.  The ride home went amazingly well just like the ride to Canada.  The customs line was a little longer but we kept reading to the kids and singing songs and playing “three little pigs.” I was surprised at the amount of tv watching – I thought it would be on non-stop but we managed to only watch a video here or there.   Impressive! 

Maria passed out on Grandma


When we finally pulled into the neighborhood at 9:30 pm, we felt a sense of relief in being “back home” but also a sense of loss in leaving our gregarious, generous, warm family from up north.  If Maria has her way, we will be back up this Summer so she can again hang out with Jean-Franco because he is “sooooo cute!”

Four year old Hosts Baby Shower

Maria "Wonder Woman" getting ready for the big event

Maria had been waiting for my mom’s stepdaughter’s baby shower for a month.  There was not five spare minutes that went by that she did not pose a question or a thought about it:

What games should we play?”

Papa Rod needs to ask his daughter, Kristen, what cake she likes to eat so we get the right kind.” 

“I think we should buy lotions and lipstick for the people who win the games.  I think we should buy “I love Cincinnati stickers, too, because they live in Cincinnati.”

She came home from school in the evening and made lists of the games we could play and the gifts we could buy.  She thought hard about what inscription should be on the cake. 

“I got it, mom” she exclaimed on afternoon.  “Happy Birth and Love Your Baby.”  Perfect. 

We had to drive down to Cincy on Saturday evening in order to ensure that we were there first thing Sunday morning to decorate and get the food together.  Unfortunately, both Maria and Mario slept horribly and we all looked like walking zombies at 7 am when we dragged ourselves out of bed.  Maria had thought of Sunday like Christmas and was simply too anxious to sleep.  Mario, on the other hand, just decided to be a rascal and move around all night restless and ornery.  Nonetheless, there was no time to rest – we had a party at 2 pm!  Maria was engaged and ready.  She reviewed all of the decorations and got us to work.  Task master at age four. 

Maria directing the troops as she guarded the "big" gift

“The streamers should go right there.  The centerpiece right there.  Give me the baby favors – I will put them over here.” 

After the decorating ended, she moved on to the food and drink. 

“What food did Grandma get? Did she get pop for everyone?  Where are the plates and cups?”

Martha Stewart had to have swept into her body for the last month and set up camp.  She was unreal.  When we finally got everything together, she made a run over to my Aunt Julie’s house for some last-minute “make-up” (blush and lipstick) and new hair-do.  She promptly returned to greet the guests and play an impeccable hostess.  Meanwhile, her brother acted insane as usual.  We thought he had gone out the door to play with marbles only to hear him coming down the stairs and see him at the foot of the stairs with no pants on, butt-naked.  Before we could blink, he darted to the middle of the room and yelled “Naked Party!”  Maria, playing the good hostess, immediately shooed him up the stairs and reprimanded him along the way: “Mario, you cannot come downstairs without any pants on little boy!” 

Mario "the Rascal" posing for the ladies

Maria helped me with all of the games – holding the string while people guessed the length of string to go around Kristen’s belly; yelling out the type of food in the baby jars; and passing out presents to the winners of the game. But Maria’s most impressive act was assisting me in passing out the cake and ice cream to ALL of the guests before she sat down to eat any herself.  A truly selfless act because she loves sheet cake as much as her mama!  Mario, meanwhile, continued to dart around the room shouting nonsense and flirting with the guests. 

The shower ended, the guests left.  We packed up our stuff and loaded our bodies into the car.  We were absolutely, undeniably exhausted.  We had managed to pack into a 24 hour period of time a trip to the outlet malls, two trips to parks (one to Blue Ash and one to Reading where I used to go as a kid); two trips to Aunt Laura’s house; a trip to Grandma Menkedick’s house; a trip to the store; and a baby shower! 

We are going to feel like we stepped into molasses this weekend because we have nothing planned.  Ahh, no complaints from us.

Night of the Living Dead

Cancun, beautiful but a jinx?!

I should have known when Mario woke up for the sixth time last night in the matter of an hour that he was sick.  I should have known because me, Maria, and Jon all had been sick over the last week.  But, that hopeful, optimistic, glass half full person that I am told me it was just him being ornery. 

No more. 

I am a jaded, pessimist who sees the world as the cruel dark place that it is. 

On the seventh awakening, Mario began hurling in his crib with the peaches and cottage cheese of dinner landing on every blanket and crevice in a five feet radius.  Just shoot me.  Of course I had a big facilitation to head up today.  Of course Jon was just starting to feel better and I was just starting to feel alive again.   I sware that God is out to get us for taking that Cancun trip.  Ever since we returned it has been hellish between sickness, bad weather, crappy work issues.  How bad of a mother am I?  My little one is puking his brains out and absolutely miserable and I am wailing in self-pity.

But I deserve to wail!

Of course, the only person Mario wants is his momma when he is sick (really anytime!) so I held him and rocked him and put him over the toilet when he started to cry (which was the sign that puke was coming).  We eventually went downstairs to the couch to watch Little Bear.  It seemed like clockwork; close to the end of every Little Bear he would start crying and then the throw up would begin.  By the fifth Little Bear, he was simply throwing up a little water and then there was the fight of trying not to give him too much water to drink even though he wanted to guzzle it because he was so thirsty. 

By 2:30 am, I was starting to teeter and get a little slap happy.  I should have written on this blog at that time – it would have been a lot more amusing.  By 3 am, I had to get Jon to relieve me. I knew I would be worthless at my retreat if I did not get three hours of sleep.   He graciously came downstairs (I knew he felt like crap) and let me lay in our bed and get some shut-eye.  I cannot stand when you are so fricken’ tired you cannot see straight, but then you hit the bed and you cannot get to sleep.  How is that possible, much less fair?  Well, it happened to me and I was pissed.  I think it was 5 before I feel into a deep sleep only to be awakended shortly thereafter by Maria who was supercharged for sleeping in her bed all night (she gets in our bed every night; at first I loved cuddling with her but now I can’t get back to sleep half the time she comes in). 

I somehow gathered the energy to shower (I really contemplated putting my greasy hair up in a ponytail and throwing on some jeans but I knew that I would regret it an hour later as I stood in front of all of those professionals looking like something the cat drug in), and got Maria to get dressed.  She has been a real trooper the last two weeks, so mature for her age and so sweet.  We got out the door, got to daycare, and I got to my retreat.  My body wanted to lay down on the long board table as soon as I walked in but I put on my best face and got through the day.  Now I sit waiting on a colleague to email me her thoughts on a document so I can get it out to others who are waiting on me for it. 


Is this what it has come down to?  One concept that came out of our retreat today is that nothing is perfect.  We may want it to be with all of our heart, but it never will be.  These last two weeks since Cancun are a poster child on non-perfection but how bored would I be if both kids were perfectly healthy, work was slow, I had gotten a ten hours of sleep? 

Ok, it is definitely time for bed.  Goodnight.



My sister just wrote a superbly astute post about the dichotomy of travel.   I have tried to find a way to express my longing for the familiar the second I step on a plane to leave home, and I have failed miserably.  She captured it elegantly and beautifully in about two paragraphs (yeah, she has to one up her big sis – if it’s not through running, it’s through writing).  Her  blog is   She talks about “the missing feeling” that she gets when heading out on a trip.

I get that “missing feeling” in different variations when I head out on a trip but I always get it.  When I left for Cancun on Wednesday morning, I got it as soon as I woke up to take a quick run.  I always complain about the running routes in my neighborhood because there are only so many directions that you can take.  Therefore, you would think that I would be excited about a new place, warm weather (it was 20 degrees when we left Columbus on Wednesday), and gorgeous running scenery.  Instead, there I am pulling up my running pants and slipping on my sweatshirt thinking “Why did we schedule this trip?”  What happened between the time that we scheduled the trip and the day the trip occurred that can cause such a divergence?  Then, I am out running and thinking back to two days ago when I was giving Maria and Mario a bath and Mario splashed water all over me and Maria and Maria hit him in the head and he pinched her back and I yelled at them both and Maria yelled back “I don’t like you mom!” with her hands crossed over her chest and Mario splashed me again in the face.  I walked out of the bathroom into the hall, glared at Jon, and asked him to remind me of that moment if there was any time during our trip that I started to miss home.  So, a momentary wish to get away hit me but then – before I even hit the next block – that aching pain for home comes back.

Nevertheless, I arrive home and don that smile of mine as I do my last-minute packing.  “This trip will be so much fun” I pronounce to my hubby.  I continue the back and forth through the trip – experiencing moments of sheer delight in being in Cancun (diving against the waves of the ocean, playing with the dolphins, enjoying a meal without any little person throwing food on me or interrupting me every second) and experiencing moments when I miss my babies and my Columbus life (there were so many kids in our hotel reminding me of Maria and Mario with every turn of the corner).   But, in the end, as I sit here ready to board a plane back home tomorrow morning, I cherish these past five days away.  It has refreshed me, drawn me closer to my hubby, allowed me to appreciate all I have, and most of all, given me a new experience to tuck away in my pocket.  I typically take trips that involve lots of hiking and exploring and sleeping on hard surfaces but this one I spent lounging next to an ocean and eating at fancy, upscale restaurants.

It was nothing like my home life and that was what made it so pleasurable and satisfying.  But, in less than 24 hours I will be back in such a life with my babies – seeing things just a tad bit differently – and forgetting how I could ever have experienced that “missing feeling.”