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Jul 23 2014

How Do I Tell My Daughter That Our Israel Trip is Cancelled?

By at 10:59 am

passport and airline ticket near computer keyboard

We are canceling our trip to Israel. Even as I say this, I want to be there more than ever. My wife and I debated this decision endlessly and were waiting until the last moment to decide. We did not want to abandon Israel. We wanted to show support by being physically present. We wanted to show support with our tourist dollars. And we desperately wanted to be with our family there.

On the other hand, we did not want to subject our children to the emotional trauma of air raid sirens and running to bomb shelters. We did not want our children to have a negative experience in Israel. Nor did we want to unnecessarily take up space or resources.

It seems the choice has been made for us. As of this writing, the FAA has ordered all US carriers to suspend flights to Israel, the State Department has issued a travel warning suggesting the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel, and multiple airlines have either temporarily or indefinitely suspended their flights to Israel. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 10 2014

On Vacation In Israel in the Midst of a War

By at 12:51 pm

mediterranean sea sunset

The turquoise Mediterranean glittered in the late afternoon sun. Smoky barbecue drifted toward me as I helped my daughter and her cousin build sandcastles. No English for one and no Hebrew for the other, they built a beautiful, sandy city together with nods and smiles, gestures and touches. Up ahead three horses carried their riders toward the dunes. The sun sank lower.

The boys played Frisbee. The girls built their castles. The grown-ups drank beer and sparkling red wine, and the dog lay in the cooling sand, watching and sleeping.

They were photo-perfect moments happening every second, and my cousin ran from group to group and captured each one. “Chayim babu’ah,” she said. Life in a bubble. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 9 2014

The Skype Call That Gave Me Butterflies

By at 10:37 am

Skype

I was nervous. I didn’t know what reaction I’d get on the other end of the call. Would I be met with joy? Apathy? Had I been forgotten? It had been a while since we last spoke and I felt anxious. As the time of the call drew closer, I had butterflies.

No, I’m not describing the emotions of talking to a guy I was really into… I’m talking about the excitement and anxiety I felt when my husband and I Skyped with our 18-month-old daughter while we were on vacation in Europe and she was back in California with my parents.

Before we left on our 12-day journey, we told my parents that we wanted to try to Skype a few times with our daughter. We went into it with the understanding that if seeing us on the screen made her burst into tears, then we would say goodbye and not see her again until we could do so in person with real life hugs and kisses. Read the rest of this entry →

May 15 2014

Turns Out Vacationing With a Toddler is Not Very Relaxing

By at 12:09 pm

vacation-pic

When is a vacation not really a vacation? Answer: When you go with your 2.5-year-old.

We are back from a week in Southern California where it was warm and sunny most of the time, and felt like a vacation for a few brief bursts when I had the chance to get away from my get-a-way. I try to kvell more than kvetch as a parent. I know I am infinitely blessed to have a happy and healthy daughter, great life-partner, supportive family, wonderful friends and community. I know the fact that I can take paid-time off from my job and hop on an airplane makes me at least a 5 percenter, so I feel like a jerk complaining about a week of vacation. That being said, it’s not so much as a complaint as an acknowledgement that my expectations sometimes drastically differ from reality, now that I am a parent. The learning curve is steep for the first kid. What I remember a vacation being is no longer what a vacation is.

I think back to past travel, shopping for new clothes especially for a trip, making a list of what to pack and an itinerary of what to do, and enjoying the excitement of going someplace new or visiting old friends. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 10 2014

A Hawaiian Vacation is So Romantic… Unless You Bring Your Baby

By at 9:47 am

hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, you think beautiful beaches, hula dancers, volcanoes, and– perhaps most importantly–ROMANCE!

There’s a reason the tropical islands are among the top honeymoon destinations year after year, right? Lying on the sand, snuggling up with the love of your life, watching a beautiful sunset while drinking your fourth Mai Tai–it is paradise.

But that’s not how it panned out when I went to Hawaii with my husband, my 13-month-old daughter, and my parents recently. Actually, “romantic” was the last adjective that came to mind. Somehow the getaway felt more like a business trip. Just as a business trip can include a gorgeous location, phenomenal people, and delicious food where you leave learning a bit more about yourself, a trip like this was–for me–more than a bit of work. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 24 2013

Take a Staycation, Seriously

By at 10:14 am

beach goers under umbrellaSummer is yet another opportunity to feel bad about the places you haven’t traveled because you have young children and it’s too hard/expensive/logistically challenging. But I am here to tell you that there’s an answer, and it’s called “Take a Staycation and Send Your Kids to School/Daycare/Camp.”

Jon and I recently did just that. Much as we’d have liked to be back in Botswana, trekking in the bush and spying on elephants as we did when we were young and newly married, or at a B&B in the Berkshires drinking fair trade coffee and gearing up for a hike or a concert at Tanglewood, or in Guatemala boating on Lake Atitlan, we have toddlers and a bank account to consider. So instead, when a vacation week rolled around recently, we decided to try something different, something–I can’t believe I’m about to say this–just for us. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2013

How to Vacation Without Your Kids Without Missing Them the Whole Time

By at 10:07 am

bed and breakfast“I want to hug that couple’s baby. Is that weird?”

I asked my husband this as we are sat poolside at our condo last year in the Turks & Caicos. Little Man and Bun Bun were 9 months old at the time and were staying with Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie while we took some much needed R&R. I was thrilled to be away, but suddenly, here was this little blonde Austrian baby-man, a doppelganger for my Little Man, and all I wanted to do was scoop him up in my arms, give him belly kisses, and maybe even wipe his cute little nose boogies.

Yeah, that wouldn’t be weird. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 29 2013

Five Things I Learned from a Disney Cruise with Four Kids, My Husband & My Parents

By at 11:34 am

jordana horn disney cruise princessThe late David Foster Wallace wrote a hilarious essay on his maiden cruise voyage entitled, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” the gist of which is aptly conveyed by the title alone.

I think the Caribbean sun melted my sense of sarcasm, because not only was it fun, but I’m definitely going to do it again. Really. I feel tanned, rested, and ready, because I have learned the following things from the past week.

1. Do not fear the words “Disney Cruise.” Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 18 2013

How in the World Do I Pack for Four Kids?

By at 2:51 pm

suitcase packed for vacationWhen I finish packing for this [expletive deleted] cruise, I will need a vacation.

That is what I found myself muttering as I brushed my hair back out of my eyes. In doing so, I wrote on my face with the permanent Sharpie marker that I’d been using to label Ziploc bags full of clothes in every size, for every possible sort of climate. Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo ain’t got nothin’ on me.

This Ziploc thing is me fighting my nature: I am a naturally disorganized person. I am definitely one of those people who sees my messiness as a sign of my creativity and latent genius. My lack of organization (or, as my mother has called it somewhat pejoratively, “slovenliness”), never bothered me back in my pre-child life. When I was looking for my black lace bra, I’d know it was probably on either the chair in my bedroom or under my dresser. Problem solved. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 22 2013

The Surprising Best Part of My Father-Son Weekend

By at 9:54 am

roller coasterIt all started with a simple invitation.

“I’ve got a movie in the Orlando Film Festival,” chimed an old pal, “and I’m bringing Ari [his 6-year old son] with me. How about you bring Gabe [my then 5-year-old] and we’ll make a father-son weekend of it?”

Sounded great to me. I was fired up for our first solo getaway, picturing an iconic weekend of roller coasters, cotton candy, pictures with the characters–the full Disney treatment. I’d create a memory to last a lifetime. Read the rest of this entry →

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