with Lynne and Leslie
Tag Archives: vacations

The binky and the damage done: Flying with a toddler

by SweetMidlife


My sister is the expert in toddler observation and research, but as the kid who lives with us edges – makes that throws himself headlong- towards his second birthday, I identify more and more with her stories about Alex. I got to see him, and our little one, together in loud, nutty action two weekends ago when we traveled to Maryland for my husband’s college reunion weekend. The visit itself was amazing – if not a little messy, ear-shattering and yelly – but it was the getting there that made me want to buy a Winnebago or a Partridge Family bus and do all of our future travel that way until the kid’s, like, 12 and old enough to carry his own suitcase.

The above photo was taken on the first of our two flights back from Baltimore, to our stopover in Atlanta (that turned out to be more like a run-through.) We were already stressed from the logistics involved with traveling with someone who has more paraphernalia than the rest of us, but can’t carry it or logically understand what a stopover is, or why he can’t stand up in his seat when the seatbelt light is on. We found out that on our second leg, from Atlanta to West Palm Beach, we were seated in three different rows, which would have been disastrous, because in the overtired missed-nap moments, I don’t always love sitting next to my own toddler, let alone the toddler of someone who’s not in shouting distance to handle their business. Nobody wants that.

My husband had tried to handle it at the counter in Baltimore, but they couldn’t help, so he called the customer service number and was told they were looking into it. So we were nervous about that, and about the fact that we had a very, very short window to make our connection in Atlanta, where we often find that we land in Concourse A and our connection is in Concourse Z. (There is no Concourse Z. It just feels that way.) I sat with Toddler while my husband sat directly in front of me, next to a very nice lady who he accidentally knocked some water onto. She was lovely about it and said “Well, it’s water. Water doesn’t stain.”

But you know what does stain? Diet Coke! And it was that caramel-colored fluid that our kid, bored and trying to get my husband’s attention, hit dead-on with the above pink binky which we gave him to suck on to lessen the popping in his ears upon take-off and landing. He threw it backwards overhand and nailed the cup, which spilled all over the lady next to Scott. She was not happy. Scott and I were mortified and both offered to buy her a drink and pay for her drycleaning. She calmed down and smiled and said “No problem. I know what it’s like.”

I think part of our mortification is not wanting to be those parents, the ones that let their kids run up and down the aisle and knock into the flight attendants, who don’t comfort them when they freak out, who let them kick the seat in front of them (On or first leg to Baltimore, at 6:50 in the stupid morning, we turned Toddler’s car seat, which he was sitting in, around to face the back of his own chair, because he was kicking the back of the seat in front of him. The dude sitting in that seat was very appreciative.) Kids are humans, and cannot be expected to always sit quietly and be invisible. People don’t expect adults to do that, so the side eye I get when my kid sometimes even speaks on a plane is unfair. But I don’t want to raise a jerk. I will not raise a jerk. He knew he was being naughty, and when the binky was removed and only handed back upon landing so his little ears wouldn’t pop, he knew why.

I’m not sure when we’re going to fly again, but whenever that is, maybe he’ll be a little older and a little more…chill. And not knock over people’s drinks. I must add that the gate agent at our Atlanta gate, which was actually in the same concourse, not only didn’t make our kid sit alone, but put us all in the same row. Of course, we sat in the wrong row and didn’t realize it until someone came looking for their seats, but they were all cool about it and just sat in front of us. They might have been through this before too.


No-fly zone: Five road trips I want to take this year. Where are you motoring?

by SweetMidlife

custard shop naples

Leslie here…and please pause while I sing a bit of “Sister Christian,” because very few people my age have, since 1984, said the word “motoring” and then not sung “What’s your price for flight? In finding Mr. Right! It’ll be all right…to-niiiight.” Old. Rocking. Not sorry.

OK, now that that’s over, I’m all filled with wanderlust after a ridiculously relaxing trip to Maryland with my husband and the kid who lives with us. It’s the first time we’d been to our home state in more than a year, and the wee one’s second set of round-trip flights. (A blog discussing the indignities and pleasantries of plane travel with a toddler is coming soon, but it’s been a heavy day, so I wanna be on the positive tip today, as we olds would say.) It was great to see everyone, we were super chill and the boy had a good time. But after the running through the airport, fighting to sit together and trying to explain to a 20 month-old why he couldn’t climb over me and run up and down the aisle past the beverage cart like a crazy boy, I turned to my husband and said, “Didn’t you want to do a bunch of road trips this year?”

We live in Florida, a very big state with some places we’ve made favorites, some I haven’t visited in ages and a few I’ve never made the acquaintance of but really need to. I’ll bet there are some cool places within decent driving distance of you, so your list is probably different. What’s your top five place to be motoring…and not take a flight? (I am sorry. You’re singing that now.)

1) Naples: We love the Gulf Coast, because it’s quieter and the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico have a different vibe than those out here on the Atlantic. Naples is a particular favorite, because it’s got several of my favorite things – really nice hotels with room service, an excellent downtown with great shops (see above) and eats up and down Fifth Avenue, and beautiful beaches. It’s a historic, elegant place with some quirks.

2) The Keys: There is no place called Kokomo in the Florida Keys, no matter what the Beach Boys say, but there are some incredible islands, shameless sunsets, cool hotels of every type from dive to divine, breathtaking bridges and lots of places to get lost. Key West was a favorite as a single girl, in bed and breakfasts and in a swanky Sheraton Suites on the beach, and now as a married chick (our honeymoon cruise stopped there, and we turned the end of the Ragnar Relay, which I ran three years ago, into a mini-vacation, staying in a little guest house with a clothing-optional pool. I told my husband that the fit runners would not be in the pool, only like old German tourists. And I was right.) We haven’t been back since the kid has been with us, but we’re in talks for my husband’s big milestone birthday this fall (I would also love to check out Key Largo, where I only stopped for an afternoon when my grandparents were staying there. I’d love to do the glass bottom boat.

leslie pool roof3) South Beach: Again, this is a place we’ve done much differently as married people and parents than when I was single (Remind me to never tell you about that.) The above photo is from the rooftop pool at the Riviera, a cool spot in a slightly quieter portion of SoBe, just west of Collins Avenue. We also did The James, which is a little more central, not far from the shops and stuff on Lincoln Road, and the Metropolitan by Como, a relaxing and purposely chill spot where they’re proud not to be a party spot. I do most of my partying dancing around my living room with a toddler singing Four Seasons songs, so I’m fine with that. These days, we stay in nice places and eat. And there’s plenty of that.

4) Seaside: It’s in the Panhandle, where my husband used to live, but where I’ve yet to go. It’s a bit of a schlep. But I would love to take a few days, where we can stop somewhere in between if the kiddie gets restless, because it’s supposed to be gorgeous, with little postcard houses that attracted Peter Weir when he made “The Truman Show.” It’s also between Destin and Panama City Beach, two places I’m excited to visit, although not at Spring Break.

5) St. Augustine: About ten years ago I did a road trip with my friend Rachel for part of a story where I was running in different places around the state. We stayed at the cutest Victorian B&B, did some cool walking tours, including that of the historic fort there, and met a guy dressed as an authentic Spanish soldier named Jeff, or as we called him, El Jeff-e. I’d love to walk the kiddo around the cobblestones and buy him a little soldier hat. I also wonder how old Jeff’s doing.

Where do you want to go?

Boy, that’s a large mouse: Our kid’s first Disney trip

by SweetMidlife
"You see, little boy, this big white glove is magic. I wave it and a gazillion dollars appears. I got it like that.

“You see, little boy, this big white glove is magic. I wave it and a gazillion dollars appears. I got it like that.

Leslie here! So my husband, mom and the kid we hang out with made an important American childhood pilgrimage that has no significance whatsoever at the moment to that kid, as he is 14 months old and hasn’t quite mastered forks yet- We visited Walt Disney World over the Thanksgiving holiday, specifically Epcot Center and Disney Hollywood Studios, because it’s not far from our house, because close friends were staying in the area from out of town, and because nothing says “holiday” like trying to figure out how close you can get your kid to the giant, giant rodent in the Santa suit before he or she loses their crap completely and starts desperately trying to escape.

Donald and his handler navigate the paparazzi and the over-sugared kids trying to hurl themselves at him.

Donald and his handler navigate the paparazzi and the over-sugared kids trying to hurl themselves at him.

Honestly, it went a lot better than we’d imagined – Kid is fairly chill and social if you give him food, and the parks, while crowded, weren’t the insane asylums of over-sugared tiny demons and disappointed parents determined to wring every magic moment the second mortgage they took out for this vacation that we’d expected. Sure, we saw some of those folks, but we had enough space to steer clear. Kid is just figuring out who Mickey Mouse is – we have a relatively large one in our living room – and again had no real idea of where he was other than a large, loud place with lots of colors and music and people who can’t stop gushing about how cute he is (he gets this a lot.)


So is he silent…in Italian? How would you know?

So what did we get out of it, besides lighter wallets, sore feet and the irrational desire to belt the next person who sings “Let It Go” at me? (OMG but are they ever overdoing the “Frozen” thing up in there) We got to shamelessly dive headlong into giddy sentimentality, to wake up our own inner goofy kiddies who can’t get enough of this stuff, to have some surprisingly good Moroccan food at Epcot, and to know that one day, we can show Kid the photos and tell him he got to meet a nine foot-tall Goofy and he barely flinched, because he’s awesome.

Somewhere, hidden behind the fake English village, Lady Gaga is planning her Father Christmas costume, although hers will have a rhinestone staff and a muuch shorter coat.

Somewhere, hidden behind the fake English village, Lady Gaga is planning her Father Christmas costume, although hers will have a rhinestone staff and a muuch shorter coat.

Vacations and Rest and Worry and Shutdowns and It’s Okay.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here.

My family and I just returned from a week in San Antonio, Texas, my husband’s hometown, where we visited family and did tourist-y stuff and ate a lot and watched a lot of TV on Hulu. And it was all really wonderful and fried and cheesy and loving. Because fried and cheese are love.

You ever get to the end of your vacation, and you start feeling anxious about work and the dishes in your sink at home, and you almost waste a day of leisure time thinking too much about non-vacation? It’s like walking through the door and thinking, “Oh. We’re back. SIGH”, instead of “We’re RESTED! And we’re BACK! And we’re READY!!” That is what we are kind of fighting because, if the good folks in Congress don’t do something in the next few hours, my family and many, many others who are Federal Government employees or contractors, face uncertainty about work until something gets figured out.

And that is scary.

But vacations should ease the stress and pains of work and home, rebuild you with rest and relaxation, and send you back home ready to do what you gotta do. And that should cover the known and the unknown. Which, actually, could happen at anytime because it’s well, unknown. So I’m not going to waste a day of the week I just had as we walk into this period of possible shutdown by switching to worry mode. I worry very, very well. But last week was a blessing of peace, and I am gonna live off of that rest and let it guide me, as I also look for the blessings and good stuff happening right now. God’s got this. He’s bigger than Congress. I don’t know how that plays out in real time, but if I trusted Him a few months ago, I gotta do it now. That’s faith and all. And I will be rereading this post to remind myself that I said that.

Sinkholes: Or why you should respect the ground underneath you

by SweetMidlife

Hello. My name is Leslie, and I am deathly terrified of sinkholes.

Stop laughing at me.

This is apparently a lifelong fear, that dates back to when three or four year-old Leslie heard the words “water main break” on a traffic report on TV news and was like “What is that?” When my parents explained that it was an underground pipe that carries water beneath our feet and just burst randomly, I was both impressed with the power of water and freaked out that you could be just walking around la-dee-da, all unsuspecting, as a surge of water you aren’t thinking about is just lurking to burst open and kill you, like a troll under a bridge (See Childhood Fears Numbers 2 and 3: Trolls under bridges and the snotty bully billy goats who just won’t leave him the heck alone).

Yikes! Check for trolls!


Which brings me to sinkholes, which could be caused by a water main break or a shift in the earth or possibly a Hell mouth or them trolls. They freak me out because they just strike when you’re chilling in your house or in your car. You’re not courting sharks in the ocean or courting gravity by bungee jumping. You’re watching “Real Housewives” and praying for the Guidice babies, and then BAM. In Florida, where I live, one recently killed a dude. And this weekend,. one ate a vacation condo near Walt Disney World in Orlando.

My friends and family know that if there is news of one of these things, the best thing to do is to turn it off and not say anything to me, because they don’t want the freakout. Two girlfriends once saw on the news in New York that a sinkhole had opened overnight two blocks from our hotel, and were trying to figure out how to keep me in the shower until the news was over. I didn’t hear it then, but later saw it in the paper and they were like “Girl, you have no idea how hard we tried to keep that from you.”

I cannot stop the earth below me from opening up and swallowing me. But the possibility, however slight, has made me a little more respectful of my surroundings. I don’t litter. I don’t dump stuff in the ocean and try to watch my water usage. I also don’t mess with wild animals, jump out of planes or do things that might be attractive to things that might want to eat me. Some of that might sound like fear, but I don’t think I’d enjoy jumping out of planes so why bother? I respect people who get the thrill out of that stuff. But my deal with the earth, with the God I believe made it and all of the residual powers on it, be they water, fire or things with teeth, is that I respect the power, my lack of control over any of that and my job as a human to honor it as much as possible.

And to not mess with trolls. Because them trolls will mess you up.

“Dates From Hell” and why I’m glad I don’t have to date anymore

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

I look at that above title and think that it might sound a little smug, like “Ha ha, single people! I got me a man! Suck it and go hug your 30 cats!” If you know me, however, and know of my dating history, or have read my amusing recollections of some of the ridiculous things I got myself into as a single lady, you know that’s not smugness. It’s relief. I was so bad at dating that if that had been my NFL career, somebody would have forced me to retire, because I sucked.

Watching Investigation Discovery’s new true crime series “Dates From Hell” not only confirms my relief at not being out there, but makes me super happy that I never got kidnapped or abducted or, in the case of at least one gentleman on the show, lured by a failed male filmmaker pretending to be a hot girl into an attempted murder based on one of his scripts. Dating requires a certain amount of bravery, of putting your trust in someone you don’t know,  even if  it’s just for the length of a dinner. “Dates From Hell” basically says “You can’t trust anyone! Not that person on the other side of that dating profile, or the girl flirting with you from across the bar, or even your co-worker you’ve known for years. Because you have never been to his basement. Where there might be heads in a freezer.”

Which is not to say, however, that the folks on the episodes I watched didn’t make some critical dating errors that old pros like me have down, although I admit that a few times I violated them. And every moment that I did, I was uncomfortable thinking “I am gonna be a head in a basement.” On one show, an American tourist accepts a drink from a cute Italian artist and then an invitation back to his apartment to see his terrace in Rome. This resonated with me, because while visiting Venice my great-Aunt Martha tried to get me to accept the coffee invitation of our waiter, and I was like “Are you trying to get me on a Lifetime movie called ‘Coffee Date With Death: The Leslie Streeter Story?’ I don’t know him!”

Anyway, the woman leaves the bar without telling the friend that she was traveling with where she was going, in a city she’d never been in. Bad idea. And then she went to a stranger’s home. Even worse. Of course, none of that gives the guy permission to try to sexually assault her, and in no way was she “asking for it,” because who in the world would ask to be sexually assaulted? Is that on a to-do list? Shut up. And the guy who answered the ad from the fake lady did not, of course, deserve to be dragged into a garage and beaten up by a guy pretending to be a hot blond. He just wanted a date. But…public places, people. Meet in a public place. If you do that a few times and then decide they probably aren’t mass murderers, then maybe you can go to their homes. During the day.

Like I said, I didn’t even adhere to my own rules all of the time. I once met a Match.com guy at his house – fortunately, neither of us were remotely attracted to each other and had an awkward dinner nearby before saying quick goodbyes and jetting off into the sunset alone and with my head attached. And I admit to making out with a cute Irish guy on a weekend trip to South Beach, in a situation where he could have turned out to have been a rapist, on some sort of Interpol list or an international car thief. (He turned out to be just a very drunk Irish guy.)

The vulnerability of dating, of meeting new people, is bad enough without thinking that every profile or offered drink is masking a trip to starring in your very own “Dateline NBC” episode…as the victim. So…single people….be smart. But don’t watch this show. Picking a profile photo is scary enough.

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