We’re back from the SF work/vacation trip.

I had two main concerns for my family this time in San Francisco: 1) Heather would go mad; 2) Leta would scream on the plane or anywhere else in public. I think we made it pretty well. There were a couple of rough days, but we all did ok. As time passes I’m increasingly of the opinion that the idea of a vacation with a child really isn’t a vacation as much as it is overtime. As with most things since having a kid, parenthood changes the world one lives in. Vacation means something entirely different with children in tow. It’s not bad, just different.

We had burritos a couple of times in the city and both were excellent. I maintain that Taqueria Cancun at 19th and Mission (or 6th and Market) makes the best Super Veggie burrito in the world. I had a barbecued pork burrito at El Casillito that was pretty damn good, but I lean towards Cancun for a number of reasons. When I worked near the 19th & Mission location, we’d head there for lunch once or twice a week and it was never bad. This trip, we took Leta to that location for lunch, hoping that she’d at least try a quesadilla or maybe just eat chips and salsa, both of which have become standbys. We were in eat crisis mode, wondering just how long she could hunger strike. It took a minute of selling, but she gobbled down the quesadilla, nearly eating the whole gigantic thing. I had a moment watching her eat. I realized that even if she wouldn’t remember this moment, I would. And I’ll always remember me sharing that with her, even if she never eats there again. I’ll measure every burrito I ever eat against Cancun’s. And I’ll tell her (likely until she rolls her eyes the 10,000th time) that wherever we are, it’s not as good as Taqueria Cancun in San Francisco. I know she’s not yet three, but seeing her enjoy food that I used to enjoy all the time was kind of cool.

On our return flight I sat next to Leta who is a better flyer than I am. When the jets fired up for takeoff, she got pretty excited but then resumed going through her two small distraction bags until we were airborne and she peeked out over the window to see the clouds. The return flight was bumpy and she didn’t seem to mind except that it made it hard to put stickers where she wanted. I couldn’t have asked for a better rowmate.

We were fortunate to make good time. At about 50 minutes before our scheduled landing, I realized that I only had two or three more tricks up my sleeve to entertain her. We inadvertently packed the DVDs and I had no fun video on my iPod or on my laptop, so those options were right out. Although we could have listened to music and that might have lasted 5 or so minutes based on Leta’s aversion to headphones. At this point in the flight I looked at Heather who was optic nerve deep in her magazine and she gave me a smug look that said, “It’s kind of hard to keep her entertained on an airplane, isn’t it? Now if you’ll just allow me to continue reading about this season’s strappy shoes.”

It normally isn’t that hard for me to entertain Leta, but then I usually have a bigger arsenal of distractions and playthings. When we did our Target stop, I picked up three items that I figured would be emergency use only. Two books with hundreds of stickers (they repeat every few pages, so it’s not like you are really getting 534 768 unique stickers) and a little cardboard hand with sticky jewels. The latter proved to be at least 11 minutes of fun and she was still playing with them when we landed. The stickers needn’t have been that high in number, but I figure we’ll burn through them in the coming days and weeks.

I was pleasantly surprised at a few things this trip. The first is how it only took Leta about 2 days to adjust to new surroundings. She stopped asking to go home and seemed to be ok with being somewhere else. The second was that she got a little overwhelmed in the city and wanted to watch Sesame Street on the couch to chill it down a notch. Thank God for portable DVD players. Third was that once we got to our delicious retreat destination, she liked going for walks in the woods, especially if they ended up at toddler playgrounds or really big and old trees.

A much needed trip, but as with all trips, never enough time to see all the people you want and it ended too soon.

  • Wicked H

    Welcome back.

  • rivetergirl

    Yes, traveling with toddlers is such a task. We found that always working toward a location that allowed our kid to run and scream was essential … just as essential as the portable DVD player and a spoonful of heroin.

  • Lori

    Vacation with children = overtime. What an excellent analogy.

  • Jerri Ann

    You guys travel quite a bit, you should consider taking the little cherub with you. It seems she is quite comfy traveling. We travel alot with our kids, they love hotel rooms where they once wanted to go home too….give it a whirl, you’ll like it.

  • Hemlock

    While travelling with a little one may take adjustment, I heard that they are a must when travelling in Europe.

    Apparently my parents got quite a few free passes just because of my 4 month old sister. I guess people were more helpful and polite too.

    Can’t say I’d give it a whirl, but they said it was OK.

  • SydneyDawn

    Portable DVD players are awesome. Road trips with my 6-year-old son have become much more bearable since we made that little investment.

  • MommyofOne

    Yay! Welcome back. We took my daughter from Reno to Las Vegas via automobile when she was 26 months old (8 hours each way). Between her DVD player and her naps, we had no complaints. It was rad.

    I’m so glad you guys had such a great time together.

  • uppahand

    I’d love to know Leta’s secret to remaining calm on flights. I’m 27 years her senior and have still not mastered that.

  • Amanda B.

    I’m really glad you guys got to relax and have fun. I have to say I’m envious of the camping part!

    (except for I’m afraid of bears)

  • minxlj

    I think it’s really cool that you’re getting Leta travelling so young. It can only help her become a well-rounded and worldly appreciative adult, aside from the fact that you guys will get so much time to bond and do new things together. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it in the long run – congrats on surviving the trip!

  • anneelizmary

    Thanks for the thoughtful trip blow-by-blow and SF restaurant review.! I came here for the re-cap & to hazard a comment, since Heather doesn’t have comments on to her 32-month letter (I love these).

    I send you both my very best wishes and prayers (that’s my skill set) for a smooth return to Heather’s best state of emotional health and equilibrium. I also hope that stresses, worries, and situational depression triggers will soon cease. As part of your readership family, I hurt when y’all hurt, and appreciate being able to give you a shout. Thanks for letting it be part of my (virtual) business.

    The monthly Mama letters will be a treasure for Leta and Heather, but I hope particularly that they’ll help Heather mitigate her fears for Leta during her bad spells. I had some real scary times with my dad’s mental illness, but because there was never any gentle oversight or explantion, never any preparation for what might occur, I couldn’t integrate those incidents or not fear that they would impact me (of course, adoptees always think they’re going to be sent “back.”)

    The transparency and matter-of-factness with which she (and you) now meet the lows is the best insurance that Leta will be aware, unfrightened, unscathed, and compassionate.

    That being said, I’ve been surprised to find myself depressed right now. My stressors seem to be over with, so I don’t know if it’s the times or what. How could we not be depressed with all this war and tumult, not to mention that our “free country” is maybe failing us, and certainly being failed by those sworn to do keep it free and functioning?

    Thanks for your contributions to our corporate experiment in humanity, free speech, and community–my best to you three and to the former Congressman.

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