My Beijing “Vacation”

Posted on Apr 10, 2013 in Travel Traumas, Uncategorized

My Beijing “Vacation” 3

How do you define a vacation?

For Damon, vacation means he is on official leave.  Time and place don’t matter.

For me, vacation means I’m lying by the beach/pool/someplace warm with trashy magazine an intellectual book in one hand and an adult beverage in the other.  Preferably one with an umbrella in it.

So when Damon got home from work on Wednesday evening (the night before we left for Beijing) and exclaimed, “We’re on vacation!” I had to disagree with him.

Unless he was going to fold two loads of laundry and pack five days worth of clothes, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, medicine, portable snacks, and toddler entertainment, we were certainly not on vacation.

Though I don’t agree with Damon’s mentality, I understand it.  When I had a paying job, vacation meant time off that job and usually travel somewhere to enjoy that time off.  But since my job now is rearing a child, I’m not technically on vacation until I am away from my child.  Which is pretty much never.

So while our trip to Beijing was a truly great trip (despite my lack of planning), I wouldn’t call it a vacation.

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

Because to me, a vacation is not:

-Getting practically cavity searched at the airport because you’ve packed baby food pouches in your carry on. (That didn’t actually happen on this trip, but it has in the past.)

-Flying on a several hour flight with a sweaty toddler attached to your chest.

-Washing poopy onesies out by hand in your hotel bathroom’s sink

-Waking every morning between 3:45-4:45AM because your baby will only go back to sleep if she is sharing your twin bed with you, squeezing your face, neck, chest and arm fat until your entire upper body is numb.  (But not your husband, who sleeps comfortably in the other twin bed, oblivious to the arm-fat squeezing happening to you a few feet away.)

-Eating in mediocre restaurants that your tour company has pre-arranged.

-Anxiety that your family is going to be killed because the van you’re riding in has no seatbelts and the driver likes to pass about 7 cars at one time into oncoming traffic at dangerously high speeds.

-Annoyance that your entire family is going to be killed before you even make it to the Great Wall.  Can’t your driver wait to kill you on the drive home?

-Countless number of people touching your child while you’re touring, and countless of other people hovering around your table at restaurants to watch your child eat.

People stopping to take photos of Elisabeth.

Elisabeth (with our tour guide) was the greatest tourist attraction of all.

I think that about sums up what a vacation should not be.  That’s not to say we didn’t have a wonderful, memorable trip.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity.  I mean, we walked along the Great Wall of China, people!  It was awesome!  (And not awesome in the “Dude, that’s so awesome” way.  But actually awesome in the “awe-inspiring” way.)  We visited historical sites and re-learned things we had been taught before but forgotten.  I’m smart again!  We walked through beautiful, old temples and palaces.  We ate delicious Peking duck! (At a restaurant of our choosing.)  Damon and I will certainly cherish our trip.  But now I need a real vacation to recover, and a nanny to accompany me.

Bali, anyone?

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

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That Time I Forgot My Vacation

Posted on Apr 3, 2013 in Travel Traumas, Uncategorized

That Time I Forgot My Vacation 4

I realize I’ve been a bit MIA recently.  Damon was gone on detachment in Australia for three weeks, the better part of which either Elisabeth and I were battling illness at home in Japan.  We’ve been busy with other things as well: I hosted Damon’s squadron for Easter brunch, which brought out first-birthday party levels of Diana Craziness.  And we’re going on vacation to Beijing tomorrow.  Which I sort of forgot about. Okay, I didn’t actually forget about it.  I just kind of pushed it to the back of my mind.  Party planning will do that to me.  Easter brunch > Beijing vacation.  That’s not really true.  Only sometimes in my head it is.  I know, I’m twisted.  To be fair, we did have a very helpful travel agent organize pretty much our entire trip.  All I had to do was approve our itinerary and fill out unholy amounts of paperwork to secure our visas.  Let me tell you, securing visas to China is no easy feat.  Especially when you have a toddler who does not want to have her visa photos taken.  See below. So last night I had a moment of, “Oh, crap!  We’re leaving for China in two days and I don’t even have a guidebook!”  Who goes to a foreign country for the first time without even a guidebook?  I could say I’m just really adventurous and like to fly by the seat of my pants, take the road less traveled, see where life takes me.  But that’s not true.  I like a plan.  And I like guidebooks. So today’s quest became about finding a guidebook.  But first I had a spouse club meeting.  Then I had a luncheon planning committee meeting.  Then I had to go pay some road tax.  I have no idea what exactly a road tax is, all I know is that paying for it is a somewhat tedious process.  First I had to wait in a long line to present all sorts of documentation that proves… I dunno.  That we have insurance?  That our car is fit to be on the...

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The Good Stuff

Posted on Mar 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

I stopped nursing Elisabeth last week.  And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.  Because shortly thereafter, I came down with (Elisabeth passed along to me) a nasty cold.  And for the first time since I was pregnant – the first time in TWO YEARS – I was able to take real meds.  When you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your medicinal options are pretty much restricted to Tylenol.  And most of the time, Tylenol just doesn’t hack it.  Oh, there’s also Benedryl.  However if you like to be conscious during the day, Benedryl is not always a good choice.  Now, though – now my options for Over The Counter meds were endless! Giddy with excitement, I hit up the drug store.  I peered up through watery eyes at the rows and rows of pills, sprays, and syrups.  I carefully inspected the labels between sneezing fits.  With so many possibilities, how would I choose?  Multi-symptom cold medicine?  Cold & Flu gel caps?  Drowsy or non-drowsy cough syrup?  I noticed a bright orange label affixed on many of the boxes: “DMX”.  What was this DMX?  I saw you could only buy two of these products at a time and that ID was required for purchase.  I still had no idea what it was, but clearly it was the good stuff.  I grabbed the Robitussin with the mysterious “DMX” label and a package of Dayquil and Nyquil capsuls for good measure. Back at home I eagerly ripped open an individual Nyquil dosage.  Dang they make those little packets hard to open!  Had those tiny, perforated lines always been so hard to tear, or had my hands grown weak after two years of medicinal abstention?  I eventually pried open the package and swallowed the pills.  That night was glorious.  Instead of waking five, six times with a hacking cough, I only awoke two.  The wonders of modern medicine! Early in that morning – 4AM or so – I needed another dose.  But it was too late to take another Nyquil.  Damon was gone* and I had a child who would be awake in...

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(Re)Name My Blog

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hey Folks, This blog is about to undergo a major redesign.  To go along with the new look, I’m going to need a new name.  But here’s the thing: I’m no good with titles.  That’s why half of you readers probably don’t get Non Om Mom now.  I need your help. I’ve appealed to you before.  Perhaps you remember when I asked you to Name My Baby and Name the Grandparents.  I sure do!  You guys were awesome, offering up loads of wonderful suggestions.  So I’m appealing to you again.  (Re)Name my blog. You’re probably all, “Dude.  Diana.  Start naming your own s*** already!”  I get it.  I get your frustration.*  I do.  But really, this is not my thing.  I can’t condense all my brilliance into a witty, memorable, AND succinct title.  It’s too daunting a task.   So I repeat – I. Need. Your. Help. We’re going to make this fun.  We’re going to make this a contest.  This is how it’s going to go:  All you readers submit your suggestions for a new blog title.  If I choose your title**, you will receive an Amazon gift card.  BAM!  Who doesn’t love Amazon!?  Nobody! Okay, well, don’t get too excited yet.  It’s only going to be a $20 Amazon gift card.  I’m not made of money, people!  But do you know how much crap amazingly awesome stuff you can get for $2o on Amazon!?  So much amazingly awesome stuff!  Go on, get excited again!   A really easy contest to win $20 on Amazon!  Woohoo! Now that you’re appropriately psyched, put your thinking caps on.  Just this time, I’m going to request that you don’t leave your submission as a comment.  Please go to my Contact page and email me your suggestion.  Multiple entries are welcome!  And if your friends or family are smarter and funnier than you***, please feel free to pass this contest along so they can enter, too. I wasn’t going to offer any guidelines for the title – I’m curious to see what title you think reflects this blog without my influence.  However I will...

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The Christian Bale Scale

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

The Christian Bale Scale 8

I’ve had a rough week.  Maybe its been two weeks.  My memory is a little fuzzy from fatigue, so I can’t remember exactly how long its been since the Night Stalker returned, just a long time.  You see, Elisabeth is teething and Demon Baby has returned, waking several times a night and slowly sucking the life out of me. I wake up every morning looking wrecked.  No amount of makeup in the world can help me.  It’s really quite depressing. I always thought I’d be that mom that everyone hates because she always looks put-together: cute outfit, coiffed hair, bright-eyed.  But no.  Sadly I’m the hater, not the hatee.  Some days I do try to look less zombie-like.  Really, I do.  If you see me on a regular basis, you may not believe me, but honestly – there are days I dab on the expensive de-puffing eye cream, apply blush to add color to my sallow skin, and swipe mascara over my lashes to perk up my droopy eyes. It’s all useless – especially the expensive eye cream – but I do it anyway.  Definitely not every day, though.  Not even most days.  Why waste that expensive eye cream? Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you also don’t want to squander your precious beauty products when it will hardly make a dent.  Maybe you wonder how to choose which days to put effort into your appearance, and which days to say, “To Hell with it all!” That’s where the Christian Bale Scale comes in.  I determine on a scale of 1-10 the likelihood that I will run into Christian Bale that day, and plan my put-togetherness accordingly.  For example, if I know I’m going to be staying on base all day doing errands and taking care of the kiddo and whatnot, that’s a zero; that day doesn’t even make it on the scale.  Why would a gorgeous, Oscar-winning Welsh actor be wandering around a small naval air base in Japan? He wouldn’t.  So on those days, I don’t bother.  The dark circles are out in all their glory, the greasy...

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I Think I’m Learning Japanese

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 in It's the Navy Life

I think I’m learning Japanese, I really think so.* Just kidding.  I thought I was learning Japanese, but this weekend provided me a harsh reality check. It only took me eight months of living in Japan to crack open my Rosetta Stone.  And it will probably take me double that time to actually comprehend anything I’m supposed to be learning.  I’m not going to try and explain here Rosetta Stone’s method.  Because I can’t.  I have absolutely no clue what or how it it is trying to teach me.  All I know is when I turn on my laptop, strange-sounding words emanate from my speakers, slides of very Anglo-looking people appear (this is the Japanese version, right?  Oh, wait!  They’re holding chopsticks!  Yup, we’re good to go!), and I’m supposed to click or type or chant or something.  It’s all very confusing. Nevertheless, after completing several lessons (and repeating them) over the past couple months, I felt confident that I had learned something.  I’ve known the basic phrases for a while: Hello (konnichiwa), goodbye (sayonara), thank you (arigato gozaimasu), excuse me (sumimasen), and I’m sorry (gomen nasai)**.  I’ve gotten by with these phrases just fine, but I was ready to move on.  As it turns out, my parents were visiting and we were spending a few days in Tokyo.  My dad doesn’t believe in public transportation, so as we were hailing a cab I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to exercise my new language skills. “Konnichiwa!” I exclaimed as I climbed into a cab.  And then I froze.  What do I say next?  WHAT DO I SAY!?  All of a sudden I realized that while knowing how to say things like, “The girl eats/is eating rice,” makes me sound really smart to anyone who knows less Japanese than I do, it holds zero practicality.  Zero.  What I really need to know how to say is, “We’d like to go to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, please.”  Why doesn’t Rosetta Stone teach me that? Humbled and ashamed, I fumbled through my guidebook and pointed to our...

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