You’re It

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My husband and I made a trip to the DMV yesterday.

That’s never fun… right?

Well I wasn’t looking forward to it. That’s for sure. But we’d put it off long enough. Finally, after (practically) receiving death threats from the New York DMV, we gave in and got our vehicles registered in Iowa (a task we should have done much sooner but our titles had been lost in the seemingly bottomless abyss of boxes still stacked in the garage from our not-so-recent relocation).

Not only was it kind of hard to part with my New York plates (silly, I know), but who wants to spend a day at the DMV? Last I checked it still wasn’t the happiest place on earth. In fact, it’s usually the opposite of that.

But if you were at the Mills County, Iowa DMV yesterday, you wouldn’t have known it by looking at my kid. Nope.

She was as happy as could be, skipping and hopping and having a grand time running up to random people (as if there’s any other kind at the DMV), smiling and joyfully shouting “I see you!!!”

Yes, she was playing Hide ‘n Seek. And, perhaps by default, the people at the DMV ended up playing Hide ‘n Seek too because a 2-year-old reminded them that it was OK to do so. I was amazed how she so easily transformed one of the most hated places on earth into a magical, whimsical playland in a matter of minutes. She actually managed to make it fun.

It was wonderful to see complete strangers playing along. Some were DMV employees, while others were patrons waiting their turn or simply passers-by. Some were far more serious than others. A few were dressed in business suits, possibly on their way to the court house. They certainly weren’t dressed for play time. They had other things on their minds. But eventually everyone gave in and played. It was nice. A little odd at first but nice.

In fact it rather quickly turned into Play Day at the DMV. Everyone participated. My daughter saw to it that no one was left out. That’s for sure. People, both children and adults, were peek-a-booing at one another playfully. It made it so, for the first time in my whole life, not only did I enjoy my time spent at the DMV but I didn’t want to leave. Have you ever truthfully (and without sarcasm) been able to say that?

Children are wonderful, aren’t they? Who else could make the DMV fun? If an adult had done what my daughter did today, he or she would have likely been arrested or shot with a tranquilizer dart or something. OK, maybe that’s extreme. But certainly they would have received strange looks and maybe even a twirly-finger-around-the-ear type gesture or two.

Perhaps it’s simply impossible to stay serious when approached by a child, smiling from ear to ear with sweet, inviting “let’s play!” eyes and a face beaming with innocence and excitement.

And, really, what better place for an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek than at the DMV? Seriously, I can’t think of one… can you?

Granted, the Iowa DMV is nothing like the New York DMV. Sure, they do the same things. But, for example, my husband and I were first and second in line to have our cars registered. Crazy, huh? Even crazier? It’s a holiday week!

In the past, we’ve waited hours (and not just the minimal quantity of hours to technically qualify as the plural form of the word hour but an actual # of hours long enough to fully cultivate an urge to stab yourself in the eye). New York DMVs have serpentines and electronic number machines and dozens upon dozens of lines, each one with a separate function, and hundreds of rows of chairs full of people who honestly look like they’d been waiting for days, weeks, months maybe. My husband and I once waited for over 4 hours only to be told we were in the wrong line and then had to start over. And it smells there! No, not like cookies. And you wait so long that you inevitably become numb to that smell, then eventually you become that smell.

Here in Iowa, like I said, we were first and second in line. I can prove it too. Our license plates are literally one number apart. Weird, huh? I would post pictures but I’m not sure what the rules of identity theft would say about that (and I’m too lazy to look it up). So you’ll have to take my word.

Even weirder? The people there are nice! They gave my daughter a lollipop. Sure, banks do that all the time… but the DMV? Really? And I feel confident that had I asked, they’d have given me one too. The only thing I’ve ever gotten at the NY DMV was a headache and a receipt.

Not to bag on New York. I have huge love for the state and the city, the people (even those at the DMV) included. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, they would benefit from an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek. Or maybe Tag is more their speed?

Do you remember how wonderful it was to play games like Hide ‘n Seek and Tag? I loved both, especially Tag though I hated being “It.” I still do.

Sometimes I too want to run up to a random friendly face, smile and say “I see you!!” I would like it if someone (preferably not a violent lunatic with a knife) did that for me. But it’s nice being seen. Isn’t it? Who wants to be invisible? Maybe for a moment but not forever.

Or simply tag them “It” so I don’t have to be “It” anymore. Sometimes I need a break from being “It” all the time. I’m sure it’s not just me. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe you and I could share a laugh and frolic together instead for a moment, letting go of the stress of the day. It might be nice to share “It” – whatever “It” is with someone else rather than struggling with “It” or through “It” on our own, or keeping “It” buried inside. The burden of “It” can be a big one. “It” isn’t always easy. Is it? But if we share “It” maybe the burden of “It” will become easier to bare.

Maybe it’s not appropriate in everyday life to break into Hide ‘n Seek or Tag or any other childhood game. Red Rover, maybe? Nah, probably not. After all, we are grownups and we have very serious matters to attend to. We don’t have the time for silly childish things like games or recess or naps.

Well that’s too bad.

But wouldn’t it be great?

Check that. It is great. Life. Who says we have to be so serious all the time? You’re not the boss of me. Saw that one coming, didn’t ya?

I think children have it right. The world doesn’t always have to be such a serious, uptight, stressful place. After all, it’s full of butterflies and daisies and kittens. I want to laugh and be silly, frolic (yes, frolic! what? you don’t frolic?) and have fun. I want to enjoy this moment while we’re in it.

I bet you do too.

So tag! You’re It!!

Not-so-Super 8

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The ride from New York to Iowa was a breeze. Lyla slept the first 14 (YES, 14!!) hours so we decided to make a go for it and drive straight through. I’d like to give a special shout out to Huggies Overnites! Thanks to them and some marital teamwork, we made it in about 20 hours, counting a dozen or so pee and coffee breaks.
We arrived a day earlier than originally expected, got to surprise a few people and stay the weekend with family. That was fun. Then, late yesterday afternoon, we drove the rest of the way and checked into the hotel. We are staying at a Super 8. But I have to be honest. So far, it hasn’t been so super.

It’s located about an hour from Jason’s job, and a bit further from our family. We could have stayed closer but all the nearby hotels had no pool. I was fine either way, but knowing that I really wanted a pool, Jason insisted on driving the longer distance to and from work each day so that Lyla and I could be happy. If you know him, this will not surprise you. He is a very thoughtful and generous person, especially with his family. And if you know me, you know I wasn’t about to argue.

Today’s Jason’s first day at the new job. I’m very excited for him and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I wonder if this is how it will feel when Lyla goes to Kindergarten? Hmm, probably not considering I was sound asleep when he left this morning. To be fair, I’d been up all night. Unfortunately, we all were. Lyla had a tummy ache (too much Iowa corn too soon perhaps) and because of it, none of us got much sleep. I hope Jason doesn’t nod off during training.

Then this morning, I realized – after he’d already driven away – that I left my cell phone in the car. Now I have no way of reaching him at his new job, nor would I ever think of calling on Day 1. I don’t want to do anything to hinder his first impression (or mine – I don’t want to be perceived as the crazy wife who calls and has him paged on his first day!). Besides, I’m fine and I’m certain he’ll try to call me on his lunch break to check in. Hopefully he’ll do so from inside the car so he’ll at least hear my phone ring before he gets too worried about why I’m not answering. He probably won’t jump to the same serial killer or Children of the Corn conclusion I would, but I still don’t want him to worry.

But let’s get back to the not-so-Super 8.

The bad signs started the moment we checked in. First, they messed up our reservation. We were planning to stay here a full 30 days. But somehow, they have us checking out and back in 3 times during that time. We didn’t find that out until we were standing at the front desk with all our stuff… our 30 days worth of stuff! While I love surprises, some things are nice to know before you arrive.
It might not have been too awful if it wasn’t for the fact that the checking out parts were rather lengthy. For example, the first time we’re scheduled to check out is on the 14th and then they don’t want us back until the 20th. So… uh… where do they expect us to go for 6 days?? Rather than repack and reload the car weekly and live in and out of our car for 6 day spurts, we’ll make other arrangements. So much for my blog about 30 days at a Super 8! Oh well. I’ll happily get over it!
I’m writing this blog while my toddler destroys the room behind me. When it comes to destruction, Lyla’s worse than a hair band.
She’s already broken one of two phones in the room, ransacked the towels, unrolled the toilet paper, unplugged the lamps, somehow locked the safe, and tried to eat the complimentary soap. Not bad, considering we’ve been here less than 24 hours. By the time she’s done, I’m sure I won’t miss the place. There’s no such thing as childproofing here. She can get into everything. Whoever designed this place couldn’t possibly have had children. Everything is the perfect height for her little hands to reach. She can open the front door (luckily not the deadbolt). Right now, she is opening and closing the fridge like she’s suddenly come down with a nasty case of toddler OCD. She can even reset the thermostat because it’s at eye level. I feel like I’m having hot and cold flashes, but at least she’s having fun.
She’s prank called the front desk so many times that I decided to unplug the phones. Now the hotel phones are her play phones. She has been on a very important conference call with the puppy, kitty and mouse all morning. Rather than interrupt, I’m blogging.
This morning, we made it downstairs in time for free breakfast (it ends at 9am – what the??). I thought free breakfast was a great feature until Lyla dumped free Fruit Loops all over the lobby. Tomorrow, we’ll eat bananas and cereal bars in the room. There’s a little coffee pot and that works for me.
The indoor pool is great. It’s the saving grace of the not-so-Super 8. We’ve spent more time there so far than in our room. On the drive here, we stopped and bought Lyla a little inflatable floating toy. She loves it. Floating in it makes her laugh and smile nonstop. My plan is to spend most of our time in the pool. It’s the easiest way to keep a baby happy. And if she’s happy, then I’m happy. That (and coffee) is all I need.

This is not goodbye…

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Today is my last day with my computer before the movers come and take it away. It will be in storage for 30 days, give or take until we close on our new house. This will be the longest I’ve gone without it.

I’m feeling sentimental so I wrote this brief verse…

Farewell Friend:

I might not get to see you as often as I’d like.

I may not get to touch you each and every night.

But deep down in my heart I know that it’s true.

No matter what happens on the moving truck or in storage…

I will always love you

We’re moving this week! Can you believe it?

Even though I’ll be without my computer and will probably go through the type of withdraw that crystal meth addicts can only dream about, I’m still excited about the move. My fingers will get a break from typing they haven’t had in over a decade. Meanwhile, I’ll write pen to paper in an actual notebook (as in born from an actual tree, but not necessarily Apple). Considering I didn’t even have my own computer until my 20s, it could potentially make me feel like a kid again. Deep into my 30s, that sensation is always welcome.

Sure! It’s bound to be challenging at times, but it will also be nostalgic and nostalgia always breeds inspiration.

I’m also (secretly) excited about writing a future blog I’ve already started drafting in my mind. It will be about living in a Super 8 motel. Yep, that’s where my husband, daughter and I will be staying for a month or so until we settle in Iowa. Can you imagine?? Well, you won’t have to because I plan to tell you ALL about it as soon as I have the opportunity. I know you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking! It will be like being sent on a freelance reporting assignment to another country! I’ve always wanted to know what that would feel like and now I’ll finally have my chance! If nothing else, it’s bound to be an adventure.

Wish me luck! Farewell for now…

Moving Again!

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OK, so that last blog was just a tease. It’s official. We’re moving to Iowa!

I’m a city girl, born and raised. But 11 years ago, I fell madly in love with a country boy. Well, he’s half country anyway. If he was entirely country, he may have never moved to the city to be with me! Although, I admit, I can be rather persuasive. And, in time, I imagine that some of my city has rubbed off onto him. But, deep down, he’ll always be a laid back, outdoorsy country boy. And since I love him more than anyone or anything anywhere, I guess, that makes me a little bit country too. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

I was born in Philadelphia, in the inner-city, in a neighborhood called Kensington which was/is always in the news (not usually in a good way). It’s the kind of neighborhood, where nervous out-of-towners anxiously lock their doors for fear of being carjacked. Of course, they’d have no way of knowing but their cars are more likely to be stripped, tagged with graffiti and then set on fire. But it wasn’t always like that. Or, at least I hadn’t realized it. I didn’t even know I was in a “bad” neighborhood until years after I moved away. From my perspective, it was a great neighborhood, a wonderful place to grow up, and I never understood why anyone would complain about living there. It was my home. And home is home.

To be fair, I also believed my family was rich but that’s another story. I’m beginning to realize that I may have been a tad delusional as a child. In fact, I probably still am. That’s OK. It helps with my writing.

Right after college, I moved to New York City. It had been my plan since I was old enough to have one. When I was little, my dad was a courier and every once in a while he’d take me with him on long car rides. I loved going anywhere and everywhere, especially distant cities, with him. Along the way, he’d tell me stories. My dad tells the best stories. Countless times, he took me on adventures to New York City. He’d tell me stories about New York and I’d picture myself living there. We’d cross the Brooklyn Bridge and my eyes would light up brighter than the skyline. It was magnificent. Each trip, I’d beg him to take me over the bridge and every time he would give in and do so, even when it meant driving way out of the way.

One day, as a gift, he brought me home a Brooklyn Bridge poster and hung it up in my bedroom. He knew I loved nothing more than driving with him over that bridge. Growing up, that poster was my inspiration.

I fell in love with New York City, and I knew I’d eventually live and work there. And, I did. I interned at NBC at Rockefeller Center during my senior year in college and then worked there full time after graduation. It was my dream come true. Then, one day, I got an offer to work at the National Basketball Association, and for seven years I split my time between New York and New Jersey. While there, I met Jason (at Madison Square Garden of all places). Over a year later we started dating, fell in love, moved in together and soon after we moved to Texas (giddy-up!), stayed there for three years, got married (in Tahoe) and moved back to New York (we currently live on the beach in Rockaway Park, Queens). These days, I can look out my front and back windows at the ocean and get inspired to write. We’ve been back in New York almost four years now but, lately, we’ve been getting the itch to make another move.

It was bound to happen, since it seems we have trouble staying very long in one place. People sometimes ask us if we’re military, and maybe we should have considered it. For one, moving would have been much cheaper! But we both love to travel, live in new places and experience new things. If you think I’m bad, he’s far worse than me. In addition to numerous cities within the United States, he’s also lived abroad. He’s been everywhere. He’s lived all over. He’s even lived in Hong Kong.

We’ve both traveled all over the world, separately and together, mostly through our jobs but also for fun. This world is amazing, thrilling, big. There’s always more to see and do. Now our world is leading us to the Midwest. We’re both a little bit nervous but we’re also extremely excited.

Like I’ve mentioned before, Jason is originally from Iowa. His dad is a corn and soybean farmer, among many other things. His mom and dad raised him lovingly, protectively, surrounded by a great big family in a very small town. For perspective purposes, there were less people in his home town than I had in my high school graduation class. There’s a song that goes, “On a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha…” Well, that road leads to his hometown. Really, it does.

Sure, by big city standards, it’s in the middle of nowhere. But, as I get older, being in the middle of nowhere actually sounds kind of nice. Maybe I’ve finally lost it. Or maybe I’m growing up. We even bought a house – and, believe me, nothing makes you feel more grown up than that! It’s in another quaint, cool, small town 20 minutes from everything. The house needs some work but it was the right price (our mortgage payment will be less than a third of our current monthly rent). Instead of the ocean, there’s an actual corn field across the street.

Plus, it has a huge, gorgeous, grassy green back yard, and that’s something I’ve never had. I’m looking forward to lying down in the grass on warm summer nights, looking up at the star-filled sky. It’s something so beautiful and awe-inspiring that you’d have to see to believe. Although, to be perfectly honest, the first time I saw it, I still couldn’t believe it. Stars like these don’t exist in the city sky… except during a blackout.

In addition to the stars in the sky and all the wishes I’ll get to make when I see them fall, I’m stoked because my daughter will get to grow up surrounded by green grass and clean air and lots of family and friends. She’ll learn to ride horses. She’ll run barefoot in the grass and chase fire flies. We’ll take her to visit local farms where she’ll get to pet animals and where we’ll buy farm fresh eggs and produce. We’ll be able to grow a garden and plant fruit trees together in our yard. Lyla will have space to grow and do whatever she wants to do. It’s hard for me to imagine since, currently, I have to hold her hand to walk to our mailbox.

Since I’ve only ever gone to Iowa on vacation and long holiday weekends, it might feel like we’re on vacation all the time. Who knows? I may even learn to relax… well, we’ll see. But I’m sure, in time, it will feel like home.

Like every other place we’ve been and lived, we can’t promise that we’ll stay forever. We’ve always been the wandering kind. But, if all goes as planned, we’ll be sticking around for a while. There’s so much to do and so many new things to experience there. Sure, we’ll miss the ocean and, even more so, our east coast family and friends (who we’ll be back to visit and who all know they are welcome at our place any time!). But it’s time to start a new chapter. And we’re truly looking forward to it.

I plan to continue writing, of course, and blogging about my life and all about my adventures in Iowa once we get settled. In the meantime, I’ll blog when I can but we have a lot of packing to do!

Iowa, here we come!

Cousins

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My husband is originally from a small town in Iowa. He comes from a huge family, including 2 brothers and a ton of cousins. This past weekend, we went home for a very brief visit. It’s always nice to visit for a variety of reasons, but this time it was especially great for Lyla.

She got to see and spend quality time with family who she hadn’t seen in over six months. Time flies, and six months may not seem that long at all to the rest of us but to put it in perspective from her point of view… six months is one third of her whole life!

For me, the coolest part of the visit was seeing Lyla interact with her cousins, in particular her cousin Korbin. Korbin is a cute, sweet, affectionate, rambunctious little boy, who at the ripe old age of two is older and (arguably) wiser than Lyla. Of course, he’d better watch out because she’s a quick study!

From the moment they saw each other, Korbin and Lyla became instant playmates. It was as though zero time had passed since the last time they were together. At first, she followed him around like a puppy, and they laughed and played together. Before long, he let her take the lead as he followed her. It was so sweet to watch them run and play together. They even developed their own language, one nobody else could possibly understand. Each quite obviously and quite easily understood the other, as they interacted and laughed back and forth while the rest of the family simply listened and watched on.

They blew bubbles, ran, laughed, sang and even made up silly little games together. Lyla would drop her juice bottle, and Korbin would race to pick it up. Each time, he’d laugh hysterically. She’d say, “thank you.” He’d smile and look so proud. Then, she’d run away and make him chase after her. He’d happily oblige. When they finally tired each other out, they both hopped up onto the couch together. Then, Lyla would gently poke Korbin in the tummy, giggle and start the process all over.

I am so happy that Lyla has so many wonderful people in her life who adore her. We are blessed with a beautiful family. And, our extended family of friends is just as wonderful.

I grew up happy in a relatively small family. Growing up, my brother was my best friend (still is) and my parents were my heroes (still are). I love each of them dearly, and I wouldn’t change a thing. But, there’s something to be said for big families.

I’m thrilled that my daughter has a big family. To have cousins is like having best friends from the start. A family of friends who will love her, laugh with her and protect her as she grows up and conquers the world. In addition to her cousin Korbin, she has three more boys who adore her. Her older cousins CJ, Isaiah and Julian are each equally amazing. Plus, she has the best uncles and aunts, second and third cousins, grandmas and grandpas and a whole family tree of truly wonderful people.

Family – it’s a beautiful thing.

We spend so much time and money trying to acquire more money and things that we hope will make our children happy, when it’s always been the simple things in life which bring about the most smiles.

My child is surrounded by love. That beats anything money can buy.