and I’m off…

A week ago, I was going to do a post on summer beauty. But I was too hot to think and realized it’s all pointless when it feels impossible to look fresh and put together in the DC heat and humidity.

Then last night I was going to write a post on packing. But let’s be honest, I suck at it. I mean, I’m good at folding and organizing and remembering everything (and I do mean everything) but I always bring one pair of shoes too many. At least this time I practically (almost willingly) left my precious hair dryer behind, but I more than made up for it, as evidenced by the grunt the driver made when loading my deceivingly small but heavy suitcase into the trunk.

Five dresses (think easy breezy, not work), four pairs of shoes (not including the travel pair), three workout outfits (maybe overly ambitious), two lipsticks (not including lip gloss) and one bathing suit (just in case) later, I’m in a car on the way to the airport.

And where am I going? I almost forgot to mention. San Francisco until Friday. Napa for the weekend. Enough said.

This trip to SF that I used to take quarterly already feels different. For starters, it’s the first time I’m not building a long weekend in wine country around a business trip in the city. Then there’s the whole not flying Virgin thing. (I’m not breaking up with you, Richard Branson… Your flights were just so much more expensive.)

The bottom line is I’m ready to get out of dodge and while Northern California apparently is not welcoming me with the cool weather embrace I crave, I’m thinking that a “heat wave” in San Francisco holds a different meaning from one here in DC.

I may have packed poorly, but I’m getting away. And I hope Napa has a lot of wine to help me drink to that.

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a big boy now

Colin had been waiting almost exactly 365 days for yesterday to arrive.

About a year ago, Jack let slip that in August, he’d be going to San Francisco, by himself, to spend a week with my dad, their “Papa.” (And by “let slip” I mean the kid can’t keep a secret to save his life.)

Colin fretted all summer. Why not him? Why Jack? It was so unfair.

Oh, the injustice of being the younger child. It’s something I’ve tried to be more cognizant of as a parent. As the oldest sibling among my brothers and sisters, it seemed perfectly fair that Jack would get his adventure first.

After a painstaking year, during which the question, “when am I going to California?” was posed nearly daily, the big day finally arrived, but was shrouded in a typically klutzy Chelsea maneuver that left my literally seeing stars for the drive from home to Dulles.

He was quiet in the car. Not unusual for the 5:00am hour or for Colin. For a kid that can be really loud, he can also be quiet as a church mouse. (Assuming church mice are quiet. I don’t exactly have field experience there.)

As we approached IAD from the parking lot, Colin wrapped himself around my arm.

“Come with me, mommy.”

“I can’t,” I said reassuringly. “I don’t have any clothes to wear.”

“You can buy new clothes,” he offered, hitting me at my vulnerable point.

“Jack is home waiting for me to return.”

“Daddy can go get him.”

The reasons I should go with him continued as we made our way through security and to the gate. I started to dread boarding. Would he cry? Would be refuse to go?

But when it came time, he gave me a hug, pulled his face into the most serious look I’ve ever seen on the kid, and made his way.

And of course, on the other end I know he’s being spoiled, getting the special one-on-one time he deserves and not having to share this experience with Jack or with me. He will return with fantastic stories and detailed accounts of where he was able to drink Dr. Pepper, which seems to be a big goal of his trip.

But it’s up to Papa to break it to him that the Hollywood sign does not live in the Bay Area, as seeing that iconic landmark is definitely on Colin’s bucket list.

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leg one

I made it to San Francisco, the first stop of my  nearly three-week journey.

But about this time yesterday, it seemed improbable I would ever make it.

My Sunday morning started off nicely. Lattes with friends. Children playing quietly. But then I got a call from my bank, concerned about “unusual behavior” on my account. As in, “iTunes, $9.98. iTunes, $9.98. iTunes, $9.98.” I stopped her from reading the complete list after I heard about ten such charges. (It turned out there were 17 in all, totaling $170.) I had to make a game time call. Confirm for the bank that these were unauthorized charges and have my card canceled or eat the cost. At the time, I didn’t know if someone had stolen my iPad or Colin’s iPod touch. But it was clear that something was amiss. So I canceled my card. The day I was leaving town for 18 days.

As it turned out, some game Colin was playing was rigged so that players “buy” gold – literally. He never had to put in an iTunes password or otherwise verify a purchase. Needless to say, I immediately deleted my account information from all our Apple devices and he will never play this game again.

With all this on my mind, I still had to shower, finish the laundry, pack, clean out the refrigerator, get the cat feeding schedule straight and take out the garbage. It was in performing the last task that I realized an animal had taken up residence in my outdoor garbage can. I saw it, let out the perfunctory squeal, jumped up and down a lot, and ran inside to tell the boys. I thought it was a dead raccoon. They went to take a peek and verified it was a live possum, playing dead, of course. With the militant precision of little boys on a mission, a plan was hatched to knock the can down (nerf swords in hand in case it got fierce) and eventually, the little furry guy stopped faking his demise and scurried off.

At this point, I poured myself a drink.

I double checked the burners on the stove. Refilled the cat bowls one last time. Kissed the boys a gazillion times. And finally, got in Nancy’s car for a surprise ride to the airport. At the airport, I had more wine and took deep breaths.

The only other hitch came as my flight was landing, parallel to another plane. That was a little creepy for someone with my flying phobia, but at this point, I felt I had hit my daily quota of crazy and told myself it would be fine. Which it was. And now I’m here. Working, of course, and hoping that I remembered to lock the front door.