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Posts Tagged ‘Olivia’

Breckenridge Colorado Destination Review

Southwest Airlines got us to Denver twenty minutes earlier than expected, great, but what happened to family preboarding? You know, with the handicapped folks? I am one dad traveling with two ruddy wise-girl preschoolers, which could be considered a handicap. Forced to wait while the ‘A’ class boarded, I grumpily asked the mannequin-esque attendant, “What! No family preboarding! When did that change?” Unfrazzled, coolly she replied “A year or so ago” she probably had heard that complaint a billion times.
The flight was smooth, I came prepared with a feed bag of crunchy goodies, a fully charged laptop, a plethora of Barbie and Disney princess movies, (enough to last a on trip to the moon and back), dual headphones, and a half dozen fresh activity books for back up. The 737 preformed exceptional and the crew was professional.
A two hour flight plus a two hour drive somehow equals ten hours of travel with Olivia and Hailey. Although I can’t lay all the blame on my well traveled preschoolers, the travel time was extended by a small portion of my family that arrived a couple hours after our flight. In that couple hours, I rented a big blue Town and Country van, found a Subway to feed the kiddos and then we rendezvoused back at DIA’s passenger pickup with my oldest brother Sam along with his second daughter Samantha who is idolized by my dear second, we also met up with Zadie, (my dad). The six of us traveled in rush hour traffic via Big Blue (the Thrifty rental van), from DIA to our condo duplex in Breckenridge. The drive took twice as long as it should have because of an accident on highway 70 and once again my perception to sniff out potential meltdowns saved me from a most assured “are we there yet” headache. Anticipating a two hour drive (which turned into almost four), I packed a portable DVD player inside my carry-on, and installed it in Big Blue prior to our stint down 70.
Around seven thirty that evening we finally reached the 5000 square foot duplex/condo/house that my brother in law Alan had procured from an associate for the week. The condo was huge, four levels, five suites, six or so (lost count) bathrooms, a massive kitchen and three common areas. The only issue was the lack of beds. Eventually our party would hit fourteen and upon first inspection, the condo only housed seven complete bed sets. Down on the lowest level of the house was an entertaining room with a ping pong table and a basketball toss game. Also down there silently stood a pair of bunk-beds with no mattresses or covers and in a dark empty room was a broken iron bed frame without a box-spring or a mattress, very crime scenish. I made a sign for the big musty room, “Master Suite – Reserved for the Taxman Family” a little prank for my sister’s husband who had sent an email to my dad, my brothers and me stating a request for the master suite.
The lack of beds created a standoff right from the git-go. I have to rewind the story just a bit here; A few days before departure, any time the subject of our Breckenridge ski trip was brought-up, Hailey would say, “I want the blue room.” How do you explain to a four year old that, there may not be a “blue” room and I have no idea what the sleeping and bunking arrangements will be when fourteen family members crash for a week in an unknown place. So I told her that once we arrive there, she will get to pick where she wants to sleep and if there happens to be a blue room she can pick that room to sleep in. Well wouldn’t you know it, we arrived at our home away from home and of course there is a “blue room” in which my dad had just parked his bags. Hailey walked into the room, spied the blue roman shade covering the window and a blue comforter on the bed and gleefully shouted, “Daaadeee! A bluuue roooom!” She dragged her suitcase into the room, unzipped it, opened all the drawers of two humongous antiqued dressers and started unloading her clothes. My dad walks out of the bathroom and saw Hailey occupying what he thought was going to be his suite for the week and briefly attempted to stop her. “Hailey, I was going to stay in this room.”
“I said… I… get… the blue room!” she shouted over her shoulder as she feverishly emptied her suitcase.
I was standing in the doorway and my dad glanced over at me for support. Shrugging my shoulders, I sided with Hailey, “Well, she did call the blue room.” Thanks to Hailey, I didn’t get stuck on the couch or worse this annual ski trip and Olivia, Hailey and I shared a queen sized bed for the week, (‘shared’ is a stretch for a ‘family bed’ newbie) in the “blue room”.
Our first full day in Breck began early. Sam, Samantha and Zadie spent the day on the slopes, so Olivia, Hailey and I taxied them down to the lifts then parked Big Blue near Main Street. We spent the morning shopping for light weight ski apparel and to our dismay, children’s clothiers’ were scarce. The few kids’ shops we happened upon had nothing but heavy winter gear and we already had that stuff. We did find a cool toy store, Peak-A-Boo Toys that had a big ‘test the toy’ play area where we spent an hour playing and the kiddos talked me into some small stuffed animals. Then for lunch we found a great pizza place, Eric’s, with a decent video game room where we won more stuffed animals.
The town square was equipped with one of those towering bungee jumper trampoline things which Olivia and Hailey insisted upon at fifteen dollars each for a five minute jump-off. We milled around main for a couple more hours popping in and out of shops and stopped at all the sculptures for photo ops until it was time to meet-up with Zadie, Sam and Samantha.
That night I had a big surprise planed for Olivia and Hailey. Unannounced to them, cousin Mikey was in Breck on spring break. Mikey was there visiting cousins Chris and Glenda who live in Breck. (Chris is one of Aunt Linda’s sons, Glenda his wife). So we caught Mikey on his last day there and met up with him at one of Chris’s restaurants, the swanky, upscale Briar Rose. Olivia and Hailey were delighted to see Mikey and a bit confused, “we’re not in Houston, what are you doin’ in the mountains” Olivia said.
We visited with Chris for a while, unfortunately he had to work and we only hung out for a short time. Then Mikey walked us up and down Main Street trying to find Empire Burger, another restaurant operated by Chris. Oh and to throw even more relatives into the mix, my sister Rachel, her husband Alan along with Louis and Sadie had arrived in town that evening and joined us for dinner.
It was a long first day and I wanted to get to bed as soon as we got home from diner but Olivia, Hailey and Sadie had other plans. They were bouncing through the huge condo, showing off for the older cousins. I had the not so bright idea to set up the portable DVD in bed to lure them in, and calm them down, that was a mistake, because the girls expected that same routine every night thereafter. Also, the family bed thing was getting old quick, I don’t know how any parent can pull that off, arms and legs thrashing around like hungry baby pythons, finally, after the kiddos nodded off, I scooched down to the end of the bed and slept perpendicular with my feet and lower legs hanging off the edge. That is how I slept the rest of the week.
Day three (technically); Olivia, Hailey and Sadie played games and paper dolls the whole morning while Rach and I waited for the cable guy to come and hook up a modem, (don’t ask). Around noon Rach and I took the kiddos to the Stephen C West Ice Arena. Hailey’s first time on skates and she did great. It took her a while to get used to the ice but after four or five trips around the rink with the ‘walker’ thing and me holding her at the waist she ditched the support device and skated quite well just holding my hand. Olivia’s second time on skates and she did awesome. Maybe one or two laps pushing the orthopedic learning-to-skate devise and she was skating all by herself trying to keep up with Sadie who is a natural on ice. Olivia had a few falls but popped right back up and kept going without a wince. I’m not sure why, but damn that made me proud to see.
After ice skating we picked up Zadie who had S.O.S.ed us from the slopes, he had enough trying to keep up with Samantha. Rach and I dropped off the kiddos at the condo with Zadie and ran down to the convenient City Market grocery and loaded up two carts which was just in time for the arrival of Joe (my brother), Nathan (eighteen year old nephew), Shaina (Fourteen year old niece) and Danielle (Sam’s oldest daughter) completing our annual family ski trip tribe.
Day four; we actually skied. Olivia and Hailey attended the Breckenridge Ski and Ride School for the day. I got to ski with my dad, my brothers Sam and Joe, my brother in-law Alan, nephew’s Nathan and Louis, nieces Danielle, Samantha and Shaina. Rach stayed at the condo with Sadie who didn’t feel well.
Pausing the review for a quick rundown on nephew’s; Nathan, (and brother in law Alan for that matter) ya’ll didn’t stand a chance against me playing Risk. And Louis gets a gold medal for fastest hot dog eaten… in a hot dog eating contest of one. On to my nieces, Shaina forgot to pack boots… to the mountains. Samantha’s skies only point downhill… it’s sick. Danielle did something to the toilet in the teenager’s suite… Sadie…I’m not even sure where to start with her.
Day four resumed; perfect morning of skiing in Breckenridge, not too crowded, sunny, warm, groomed just right for my chump like ski style. Although toward the end of the day the warm weather caused the snow to become slushy. So before I needed to pick up the kiddos, my dad and I headed down early, to the coral, stop it, it’s not what you’re thinking, the coral is the pen where all the pre-scholars take their lessons. I was hoping for a chance to get some action photos and I was not disappointed.
That night we ordered in from Fatty’s Pizzeria and yes, I ordered way too much, but I was factoring in fourteen people and that was with four hungry teenagers and two Taxman boys (Alan and Louis). When calling in the order I asked about party catering options and Fatty’s hooked us up with a good price for an army sized scrumptious meal.
Day five; another almost five hundred dollar day of skiing. That was approximate cost per day to ski. That included lift tickets for Olivia, Hailey and Me, all our ski equipment plus helmets and lessons for kiddos. The crew was minus Alan this day, the conditions and my timid overly cautious skiing was much the same as the day before. My dad cut out after lunch and Louis and I bailed on the group early to find Olivia’s and Sadie’s ski group. I had Alan’s video recorder and wanted to get some footage of them going up a lift and skiing on the mountain for the first time. Miraculously, without GPS, or short wave radios, or walkie-talkies, or cell phones, or locator beacons we caught up with them at the bottom of the Quicksilver Lift, I’m guessing my D.A.D.A.R. was in operation that day. I got to ride up with Olivia and then recorded her, Sadie and Lou, the entire decent. I could tell that the Ski and Ride School had a good crew and did a fine job, the kiddos wanted to go another day, Louis was baited into a snow ball fight with Olivia’s and Sadie’s instigating in a playful way ski instructor and I didn’t have any problems refunding Sadie’s unused lift ticket.
Later in the afternoon the kiddos stayed at the condo with the Lord of the Flies older cousins in command, while Rach and I hit Main Street for some souvenir shopping, she had her R.A.C.H. on, finding the Mountain Sanctuary Spa within a stone’s throw of our parking space. Rach received some kinda hand rub massage thing, while I found some goodies for Kim.
Day six; opted-out on skiing and opted-in on sledding which I borrowed, stop it, I asked the neighbors If we could use their sleds. It snowed that day and it was cold. Danielle, Shaina, Olivia, Hailey and I found the designated Breck sledding hill at Carter Park. The snow was gusting hard and Hailey was fouler than the ominous storm overhead having real issues with doing anything that day particularly the steep climb to top of hill. The cold fresh powder was awesome and I couldn’t help from kicking myself for not skiing that day especially when Hailey had thrown herself face first into the frozen mess in a fit of uncontrollable rage. But eventually, I duno twenty minutes, she calmed down, hiked up the hill on her own and within one trip down the fairly nice sized hill she was over it. Spending the day sledding with the kiddos was worth every non penny spent.
The wet heavy snow was eating a frostbite hole right through Shaina’s high top Chucks, yea, no boots on a trip to the mountains so the sledding ended sooner than anyone wanted. We stopped at a crepe making shack called Crepes A La Cart on Main Street for lunch and it was incredible, the absolute best crepes anywhere. Unfortunately, the staff was alarmingly dispassionate and distracted with their own dramatic drug induced lives. How could I tell? The young self-mutilated crew of three seemed not to care about any customers who may overhear their conversation of possession, arrest, trial and all the crazy details, but damn those where the best crepes ever.
That night we all went out for dinner at the Breckenridge Brewery. While we were waiting for our table Hailey challenged everyone to an arm wrestling match. Well first, and this only took a half a second, Samantha pinned her older sister Danielle and after that, Hailey defeated anyone in our party who stuck their arm within her reach. The staff there was quick and put our table for fourteen together relatively fast. The food was ok but the freshly brewed beer was freaking great. The Avalanche’s came crashing down. I can still taste it, so fresh and tasty.
Day 7; a late return. Packed, cleaned and rechecked condo for any claimable items. Olivia, Hailey, my Dad and I had lunch at Eric’s again, the kiddos had to show Zadie the games. We had to find Olivia a Breckenridge photo album for her school assigned photo journal project so after lunch and games we patronized a few more of Breck’s multitude of shops until we had tracked down a couple photo albums at twenty a pop.
Our flight departure time was 8:00pm, Sam and Samantha had a later flight. We were going to meet them at the skier pick up in Big Blue and head to airport. The meet time was set at 3:30pm, but that didn’t happen. We waited, with no return calls until 4:30pm. “I thought it was at four thirty” Sam and Samantha grabbed their luggage out of Joe’s rental car and tucked it into Big Blue and then return their ski equipment. Thankfully there was no traffic and we rolled up to DIA Southwest Airlines curbside passenger drop off around 6:30pm. Where we stood for like twenty minutes waiting for two people in front of us for the super slow motion porter. And the night crew on this flight seemed a bit condescending. One of the male attendants made a remark about my kids being “asleep in no time at all”, hinting that I should convince them to fall asleep. Luckily, packed in the feed bag of goodies were a few mini chocolate bars and cookies. Two Disney movies, a steady stream of sugar and they were bouncing. They didn’t cause any trouble on the airplane but they were being a bit loud, not obnoxiously. Although, I didn’t hear “Thank you for flying Southwest” on the way out. Olivia and Hailey were plain goofy in the baggage claim area at our home town airport. Running up the going down side of the escalator, ridding on the baggage carousels and doing things I couldn’t see but I could hear in the women’s restroom. They weren’t completely out of control and because they had jumped though all the hoops the whole day without too much of my directive, I didn’t mind them having a little fun in the un-crowded airport capping off a great trip.
Side Note: this post was pulled from the buried father of the blog archives, we took this trip last spring and I can’t wait to get back to Breck or any mountain for that matter although it may take a year or two more to save up for it.

Sue the Dinosaur at St. Louis Science Center – Destination Review

Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Olivia came home from preschool a few weeks ago asking if we could go see the dinosaur at the Science Center. “Sure” I said somewhat surprised that she had any interest in the life-sized animatronics display which she has skirted two dozen times in the past; however I had mistakenly assumed the permanent crustaceous period display is what she was referring too. Evidently a boy in her class had been talking up Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex on special exhibit and this information received via preschool playground chatter was a first too my knowledge about Sue traveling from Chicago’s Field Museum to our Science Center. I had to check online to verify the fact and sure enough I am at the stage in my life in which my five year old enlightens me to the most current social attractions around town.

This week’s daddy day, my mom (Bubie) accompanied Olivia, Hailey, Elizabeth and me to see Sue. Surprisingly, there was a bunch to do for preschool age kiddos at this special traveling exhibit. The main attraction, Sue the T-Rex, huge with teeth the size of railroad spikes, “Scary, but not really, ‘cause its exstink,” Olivia recanted later, was dominantly displayed front and center. Then there were a bunch of activities to hold the little princesses interest. An archaeological dig where 4” paint brushes were handy for discovering prehistoric bones covered in rubber mulch. A sifting station where real petrified bone fragments had been re-cast in stone, the goal was to scrape away the plastered stones with toothbrushes to expose the ancient bones. There were several craft stations for creating dino helmets, dino hatchlings, dino necklaces, and dino art. Also a smart beat the clock game, the objective was to puzzle together bone shaped pieces magnetized to a vertical T-Rex and if the light-bar timer terminated before the puzzle was complete the game demagnetized resulting in all the pieces falling off. There were a couple I-Spy through the eyes of a dinosaur mini exhibits. And a few hands on hydraulic mechanically operated simulators illuminating how the strong jaws, the heavy tail and the mini arms would have worked on a T-Rex.

Family with Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Family with Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

The exhibit kept my kiddos actively immersed for over an hour, one bummer thou, Elizabeth was bored and cranky not much for her to do and confined to her stroller for that length of time. Besides her slightly agitated demeanor, it was a great visit. How do I know? Within ten minutes of getting home, Hailey was asking me when we were going back to see Sue the Dinosaur at the Science Center.

Flushed Away

Elizabeth with Mom and Dad

Elizabeth with Mom and Dad

Elizabeth is one year old. Already! I am convinced that the earth is traveling around the sun at an accelerated rate. We are the coin in the gravity well or the squashed bug being flushed. Wait, maybe not, because we added one second to 08. Which is fine with me, I needed that one extra second, although it only felt like a half a second.

Time has a way of playing tricks on parents, for example, after I picked up the kiddos from preschool today, someone, ok it was me, left the bathroom door open. Olivia had left a little yellow to mellow in the toilet and I didn’t see that when quickly getting a tissue for a runny nose. I swear my back was turned for two seconds, I thought Elizabeth was playing with all the plastic food stuff that is used for play picnics in the living room/playroom until I heard her splashing and giggling. This is when time slows down, “Nooooo!” I seemingly move in slow motion, not like movie slow motion, more like nightmare being perused by some unseen force slow motion. “Nawt eighn theaighr!” Elizabeth gins at me as I pull her away, time speeds up again as I disinfect her.

“Who left the toilet seat up?! Who didn’t close the lid after making pee-pee?! (I may have said taking a piss). And who didn’t close the bathroom door?!”
Olivia took the blame right away for not flushing and leaving the seat up. I suspected it was her anyhow. “I forgot to flush daddy.” She said nonchalantly from the kitchen table while working on a coloring.
I couldn’t scold her for being truthful and only reminded her, no pleaded with her, for the hundredth time, to try and remember to flush and close the toilet seat. At that time I remembered it was me who left the door to the bathroom open but didn’t admit too it. My five year old is more honest then myself. Why couldn’t I just say “oh, that was me who left the door open”?

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Each Tuesday during April, Olivia, Hailey and I attended a ‘Mommy and Me’ class at our school district’s early childhood center. Yoga Animal Antics. Too young for the class, Elizabeth Rose sat this one out and luckily my mom was available to watch her.

Each class started off with an animal search and rescue operation. The kids blindly pulled a picture of a missing stuffed animal out of a box and then became responsible for rescuing that “lost” animal.  Once all the hidden animals had been found, the class circled-up for songs, introductions and animal education. All the kids got the green light to go wild mimicking sounds and movements of the animals that they had recovered.

It was then time to do animal impersonations by means of yoga stretches. Each child picked a card that showed an animal and how imitate that animal with a yoga pose. Everyone got a turn leading the class with his or her pose. Cat stretches, down dogs, crab walks and fluttering butterflies, to name a few. The best part of this activity was right at the end, the instructor handed out mini rubber ducks, the kind used for duck races and then we were instructed to lie on our backs and place the duck on our tummies. We had to make the duck go up and down by breathing deeply. Ok, so we were doing shavasan and within seconds of placing the little duck race duck on my stomach I would momentarily fall asleep.

Any parent child class would not be complete without a craft activity and this class was no different. The motif of craft time was wild animals and the favorite had to have been “pigs in the mud,” a couple little people farm pigs tracking chocolate pudding over butcher paper. The class ended with a parachute games and lastly a goodbye song.

I enjoy these classes because, it is less planning for me on daddy days, it is good to get out of the house (before the kiddos destroy it) and we usually learn something new. Olivia, Hailey and I have frequented many of these ‘Mommy and Me’ classes in the past and always have a good experience in doing so. But there is one thing missing from these kinds of classes; the dads. Four years of parent child classes that we have been to only one other dad has been in attendance and he showed with his wife. Note that those were classes during week days.

These parent and child interaction classes aren’t called “Mommy and Me” anymore.  A step in the right direction for a dad who likes to attend such classes and wishes not to feel ostracized by a motley group of alpha mommies. It is hard enough breaking the ice to a room full of glaring women that are wondering what a man is doing with his children in the middle of the work week at mid day committed to a parent child class. Most of the moms are welcoming and warm to the idea of an involved dad in their mist. But there is inevitably a small percent of leery women believing their must be an arterial motive to my presence and these are the ladies that exude the air of exclusion. I don’t let them detour me.

Two Minute Warning

Originally posted on BabyCenter.com 01/25/08
The ride to Olivia and Hailey’s Preschool takes two minutes. In that short amount of time we have our best discussions. Every school day morning we hustle out the door and to my car. I strap ‘em in their seat belts, unwrap then handout chewy granola bars, I get in, pull out of the driveway and I say, “Does anyone have any questions for daddy today?”
Before I finish asking the question, preemptively Hailey will say, “I gotta go potty!”
Olivia will quickly correct her younger sister, “that’s not a question Hailey!”
A brief silence follows and then Olivia will throw the first question out.
 
Monday morning:
Olivia: “Are you going to die daddy?”
Me: “One day Honey, nobody lives forever.” Small pause. “Well sweetie, that’s what life is. You live and then you die.” Silence. “Everyone, everything, eventually expires.”
Olivia: “Where will you go daddy?”
Me: “We all go back to God Honey and we will be with all our relatives who have passed away.”
Hailey, with a hint of worry: “Don’t go Daddy.”
Me: “Don’t worry Kiddos, hopefully, daddy will be around for a long time”
Olivia: “When is our new playground (for the preschool) going to be finished Daddy?” She inquired as we drove by the construction site and pulled into the parking lot of their school.
 
Wednesday Morning: (Tuesday is daddy day, no school).
Olivia: “Is Father Sky the same as god?”
This was a tricky one and I didn’t think two minutes was enough time to explain the theory’s of First People’s (Native American) beliefs. “Sort of Sweetie.”
Olivia: “What about Mother Earth?” I tell Olivia and Hailey a handful of times throughout the day not to waste Mother Earth’s precious resources. Switch the lights off, don’t let the water run, recycle, those sorts of things.
Me: “Well Honey, God created Mother Earth.”
Olivia: “And Father Sky too?”
Me: “Yes Sweetie, God created everything in the universe”
Olivia: “What’s the Universe?”
Me: “It is everything we know honey. All the stars, our sun, the planets, the Earth, everything.”
Olivia: “Everything?”
Me: “Yup. Everything.” Momentary pause. “Hey look, the diggers are all lined up in a row today.”
 
Thursday morning:
Olivia: “When are we going to the Hairy Elephant with Aunt Marni?” Marni is a friend of Kim’s and the Hairy Elephant is a kids’ salon. When Marni came to visit Kim in the hospital during her recovery from the birth of Elizabeth Rose, Marni had told Kim that she would take Olivia and Hailey to get their hair and nails done. This promise was sparked due to a missed birthday party at a different kids’ salon because Olivia had chicken pox. The salon date with Marni was supposed to be this past weekend and she had to cancel the hair and nail appointment.  Rewind one week, Tony, Marni’s husband had switched jobs and the company he was hired on too lost its two biggest clients on Tony’s first day of work. They had to let Tony go. Financially concerned, Marni opted for a play date at her house with her two boys Spenser and Tyler.
Me: “Well Sweetie, you and Hailey went to Marni’s house to play with Spenser and Tyler instead of going to the Hairy Elephant.”
Olivia: “But I wanted to go to the Hairy Elephant.”
Me: “Marni had to cancel the appointment Honey.” Silence. “Well sweetie, Uncle Tony lost his job and now they don’t have money.” Quiet. “They have to be able to buy food and pay for their house and pay for heat to stay warm.” Olivia has been drilled on the economics of why Kim and I have to work.
Olivia: “I will give Aunt Marni my Tzedakah” Tzedakah is charity. Olivia and Hailey put spare change into their own hand painted Tzedakah boxes as part of our traditional Friday night Shabbat dinner. Just last week we noticed how heavy the Tzedakah boxes were getting and had discussed what charities were worth giving too.
Hailey:  “I will give my Tzedakah to Tyler”
Me: “That is a great idea Kiddos, you guys are so thoughtful,” I was so proud of them and their idea, I wanted to go on and on and tell them what caring, sweet and compassionate little girls they are, but instead, “Hey look, the diggers are still lined up.”
 
The two minute drive to preschool is the most anticipated part of my day. What will tomorrow’s conversation be? I’m not sure, but I am looking forward to it.