My blog posts for Pine Village re. last week’s events:

April 18, 2013: http://pvpwriter.blogspot.com/2013/04/times-like-these.html

April 23, 2013: http://pvpwriter.blogspot.com/2013/04/lockdown.html

The second child really does get the short end of the stick, doesn’t he? (I hear Jessica yelling: Hell, yeah!)

I’ll have you know, part of the reason that I didn’t give Will nearly as much air time as Lucy re. first day things was because we were spending quite a bit of time in the doctor’s office with him, dealing with all sorts of fun (not) tests for various blood diseases, coughs, hives, etc. As of now, all appears to be as well as could be. The blood disease (yes, the bad blood diseases that start with “L”) appears to have been nothing but a virus that gave the doctor some weird readings. We still have to go back for a follow-up test, but no one appears to be worried. Well, no one who actually knows what they’re talking about — I, of course, am still quaking.

Just when that was coming closer to being a memory, he got some cold that was characterized by awful coughing. Although it never sounded croupy, it did bring to mind the night of the ambulance meeting us on the side of the road. Joy. And then when things were finally settling down again, he got hives. Now, for most people, this evokes an ‘eh’ reaction, shoulder shrug included. Since the last time someone mentioned ‘hives’ in the context of Will it was the doctor saying that if hives occur use the EpiPen immediately, however, it wasn’t so much of a shrug as a Oh-my-God-call-the-doctor-now! (Uh, yes, once again that was from me. Kelley did agree that a phone call was in order, but I don’t think that his heart was racing a million miles per minute.)

Again, as of the last report (Monday night’s visit to Robin, his asthma case manager), it seems as though the hives could just have been the end of the same virus that gave him the three days in a row of unexplained 103 degree fever, thus having us end up in the Hematology Lab at Children’s. Which, as crazy as it seems, is a good thing.

So you see? Will was very much in my mind for the last month. I just haven’t had a chance to write about his first day (o.k., month) of school. Which I will now do.

As you will see, he was eager to get there. He and Lucy had their matching uniforms, matching lunchboxes, and, surprisingly, matching smiles.

My lunchbox is bigger than yours.

My lunchbox is bigger than yours.

Lunchboxes, uniforms, smiles - check.

Lunchboxes, uniforms, smiles - check.

Sitting on the front step and laughing.

Sitting on the front step and laughing.

Everyone was in such a good mood, in fact, that we were able to get a whole series of pictures of them doing silly things. Now why, I ask you, is it impossible to get them to follow directions like, “Don’t hit each other in the head with books because you will end up in the hospital,” but when you say, “Stand on one foot and cluck like a chicken,” they go along without hesitation? Sigh.

...and cluck like a chicken.

...and cluck like a chicken.

...stand on one foot...

...stand on one foot...

Turn to the right...

Turn to the right...

Everyone went to the school together, with Lucy explaining to Will how the kindergartners would sit outside in front of the school and wait until the whole class was there, then they’d say goodbye to all the parents and go inside together as a class. (Sound familiar? Like the way Conn separates the freshmen from their parents during Orientation weekend?) Since Lucy wanted to get to before-school, we were the first ones there. Luckily, the teachers came out almost immediately, so Will got some one-on-one time (or, rather four-on-one, since there were the teachers of both classes plus their aides, and they were all sufficiently fawning over his adorableness). Then all the rest of the class came.

The K2 Class

The K2 Class

As these things go, no one really did much talking to each other. They all just kind of sat there. Surprisingly, there weren’t any tears — or, make that, none of the kids were crying at least. I know I wasn’t the only mom whose eyes were a bit dewey as our, sniff, babies went off to kindergarten. I wasn’t quite as bad as I was on Lucy’s first day of kindergarten, but yes, I was a little emotional.

When, after he came home, I asked him if he had made any new friends. His finger went up as he said, “One. Giancarlos asked me to be his friend.” Apparently, it’s kind of like going steady. A declaration actually has to be made. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a pin involved. Happily, though, in talking to his teacher in the weeks since then, although they do appear to focus on one-on-one interactions, they appear to rotate quite easily and all the kids in the class have become (unofficially) friends. The boys, at least. Yesterday Will did inform me that Ashanti and, well, I don’t remember but one of the other girls, had asked him to chase them around the playground but he said no. Why? I asked. He looked at me as though I was an idiot. “Because that’s stupid.” Well, yes. Interesting to see that from the boy’s perspective.

I promise I will try and be a little more timely. If you’d like to see more pictures from Will’s first day of school, you can see it at: http://tinyurl.com/4ew874 (there are even more on Flickr). You might be seeing some more pictures from me because I’m trying to clear out the camera before Jaime and Dan’s wedding next week.

Today was one of those days that felt like it literally went on forever. From practically the moment I woke up until, well, just now, I have been answering/rushing/on all day. It began with the always lovely getting-out-of-the-house moments. Everything can be going absolutely peachy until I come downstairs and say — “Does everyone have their shoes on?” You’d think that it was the sounding bell for a prizefight. It typically sets off a round of fighting/hitting/crying/whining that lasts at least until we’re in the car. If we’re lucky, that’s only a four-minute span. On some days, like today, it’s at least fifteen.

This morning was extra special because, just as we were leaving (and after, of course, Kelley was out the door and had already left for work), I realized that I needed to give Will his Albuterol (yes, we’re back on that for the moment) as well as the eye medicine (Pinkeye, too! Woo-hoo!). Since the eye medicine makes his eyes tear up like crazy, it is not something that he enjoys. At least today Lucy didn’t refuse to put on her shoes. (That was the Tuesday morning saga. She CAN NOT wear those sneakers with socks. They’re too hot, they’re too tight. The only way to leave the house is sliding along on her bum, saying how awful those shoes are.)

We finally get out the door and I have to go back inside twice — once to put Will’s other medicine (more Albuterol, plus his Epi pen) into his camp backpack, and then once to get my water. I turned around to lock the front door and, while doing so, did what I do just about every morning — open the side door of my van with the remote on the key fob. Except this time, Will happened to be standing directly in its path, leaning in to look at something on the side of the van.

What’s worse than having your precious little boy cry? Having your precious little boy cry because of the bump on his head from something you stupidly did. No, wait — having your precious little boy bravely try and stop crying while he tells you, “It’s o.k., Mama. See? I’m not crying any more.”

You’re not crying any more? I am so very incredibly happy to hear that. I, however, will continue bawling until we pull up to camp.

The drop-off was otherwise o.k. I was in a rush to get to work by 9 for the adjunct orientation, but then ended up hitting crazy weird traffic by WGBH. If that isn’t a sign to pull into the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot right there, then I don’t know what the hell is. And yes, I went for the two donut special this morning. Hmmm. Not a way to get back on the wagon.

I was then in the orientation from 9 a.m. straight through to 1 p.m. because of a meeting that followed. When I finally got upstairs, Jessica and I decided that we needed iced coffee. Although I certainly could have used the 20 minutes to get more stuff done, I have to say that it was exactly what I needed. The iced coffee hit the spot, but so did the 15 minute walk on this absolutely gorgeous sent-from-Heaven day. 74 degrees, sunny and breezy — that’s definitely my perfect weather day.

The next two and a half hours were actually productive. By the time I got home, I was completely ready to get Lucy to her birthday party in the Back Bay and hang out with Will for awhile. We got Lucy to Siobhan’s house just fine and then Will chose Burger King. (‘Why’ you ask? Well because he specifically did not want the Star Wars toys at McDonald’s. Burger King, however, also gives toys. So that’s where we went.)

With an hour and a half to kill, I thought that the one at Copley would work out just fine. Will was not pleased at how long it took me to find a place to park. He would keep noting spaces, but of course they were all completely on the other side of the street across three lanes of speeding traffic. No go. Finally found one on Newbury Street of all places.

Will ordered his typical — a hamburger kids meal. When we opened it up at the table, though, well… “Mama, why does this hamburger have cheese?”

I looked across the length of the BK — which seemed about 50 yards. Yes, it was probably less than that, but with this BK being among the skankier ones, there was no way I was leaving him at the table to go and tell them they gave me a cheeseburger by mistake. So, I crossed my fingers and said, “That’s the way they make hamburgers here.”

He gave me a look that clearly said, No way, Mama, am I buying that one. He does like cheese, however, and the BK toy was a SpongeBob one, so he seemed to be willing to accept that answer. Big, long, heart-felt PHEW. We ended our lovely little dinner in a chat with the disaffected youth teenage couple next to us about the joys of SpongeBob. (They did seem to wonder why this five-year-old boy was chatting them up, but once they realized that he was seriously engaging with them, they went along with it.) After saying our good-byes, we left the Copley BK.

Dessert was an ice cream sandwich from CVS for him (and a nice yummy Entemann’s thing for me, although I have decided that since my day began with two donuts, perhaps I can hold off until the next day to eat them). He is a boy of simple pleasures. He helped me do the self-checkout at CVS and very much wanted to hold the change for me. I said o.k. for the change change, but not so much for the paper stuff. It was a bit of a fight, but I prevailed.

As we turned the corner onto Clarenden, there were a couple of panhandlers. I asked him if he’d like to give them his change, and his eyes lit up. “Yes!” He ran over to them, gave them a huge smile — completely taking them by surprise, it seemed — and gave them his 58 cents. As we walked away, he said he wanted to find more people who had cups he could put money into. “Can we come back with more money again?” Well, um, not today.

After our nice little walk back to the car — can I say how nice it was to just be on Newbury and Boylston on such a nice evening, strolling along with all the other city folks? [Was it necessary for me to use ‘nice’ three times in that sentence? Why, yes. Yes it was.] — we were exactly on time to get Lucy. Not only exactly on time, but as we pulled up to Siobhan’s street, there, directly in front of me, was a parking spot. A legal parking spot in the Back Bay! (Well, legal if you’re a Back Bay resident, but still…) The only problem was it was exactly three inches bigger than the car. And on the left side of the street.

Parallel parking on the opposite side of the road than normal — not exactly my strong suit. But, after back-and-forthing (and back-and-forthing and back-and-forthing) and a certain amount of bumper parking (“Mommy — you hit that other car!” “The Lexus SUV or the Audi wagon?” Well, at least neither of them had an alarm that went off), I was in! In, I tell you!

Did I mention that the space was only three inches bigger than the car? Literally. The rear bumper was touching the license plate of the car behind me and I couldn’t actually fit my hand in between my bumper and the one in front. Even better? As I was pulling out of the spot, a guy walked by with his two friends and said, “No way she’s getting out of that spot.” Not only was I getting out of it, I actually got myself into it in the first place.

I am completely unable to pull head on into a parking spot, and yet I managed that bit of parking. Between that and having such a lovely Copley Square evening, this was one of those <beat on chest> I am a Bostonian! evenings. Wicked awesome. Hell yeah.

It is now 10:30 p.m. and everyone is in bed. Probably not asleep, in Lucy’s case at least, but in bed. Will barely coughed at all last night (thank God for Prednisone) and hopefully will have another relatively easy night. With fingers crossed (but in a different not-a-bad-mom way this time)… Good night.

During our travels this summer, we’ve had the opportunity to stay in several hotels, one more than once. Being a fan of hotel-staying, I would typically say this is a good thing. I have to say, though, I have not been overly pleased with this summer’s experiences. Not that any were particularly awful (at least so far — I still have 14 hours to go here in Saratoga), but none of them are hotels I’d go out of my way to recommend.

The first of the three — the Courtyard Marriott in Hyannis — was my favorite despite looking kind of strip motel-ish, what with it’s location next to the Cape Cod Mall. It had a refrigerator in the room, which was a bonus in my mind, a full breakfast menu in its quasi-restaurant, a fitness room, and a heated pool with a HUGE shallow area, which was perfect for the kids. The Dunkin’ Donuts across the street was an added bonus.

Maybe it was that my expectations were set fairly high, because the next hotel, Water’s Edge in Westport, CT, was a disappointment. Not that it was bad, although when we first arrived we did have to change rooms as the non-smoking signs had clearly been ignored by previous guests. Granted, we were there for K’s work, so we certainly didn’t rate the top level rooms; I just would have preferred a view beyond a tar roof and a parking lot. The room felt a little shabby, kind of like one of those Grande Dame places that hasn’t quite kept up with the times. The thing that really irritated me, though, was that there was nothing — nada, zilch, big fat zero — in the room that told you about the hotel. It’s a family resort, for heaven’s sake. Maybe some literature about what the resort consists of? A note about whether there’s a pool or not? (Which, as it turns out, there was, but you had to walk through the gift shop to get to it.) And so much for my hope to do some working out — I had no desire to go out of my way to find out whether the hotel had treadmills or not. It would also have been nice to know that there was a beach complete with a sand lot that had buckets and pails and construction ‘vehicles’ that Will would have liked to play with. As it was, we didn’t see this area until after dinner when we decided to take a walk down to the water.

Oh, and that was another thing — when we (me, my parents, Lucy and Will) appeared at the hostess station for dinner, no one happened to mention that there was a much more appropriate option than the fancy dinner deck just down the stairs. I suppose I should be happy that we didn’t get automatically downgraded just because we had kids with us. Still, I think it was fairly obvious that the fancy place wasn’t quite what we were looking for. A gracious wave of the hostess’s hand could have easily pointed the way to the more family-friendly option. Or, you know, a guide to the resort that would spell out the services like, say, ‘We’ve got two restaurant options. One’s good for kids and one is very specifically not.’

Keeping up with the trend of no information whatsoever, we found ourselves at the Saratoga Hilton several weeks later. The first night we stayed there was just joining K for an overnight as Lucy, Will and myself were stopping over on our way to visit Aitana. I’m there (here) again tonight, on our last leg of the summer’s journeys. The first time around, there was a similar lack of information as at Water’s Edge. A magazine about the surrounding area, but nothing about the hotel itself. I figured it’s a Hilton, right? It has to have room service. The only way I could tell that for sure, though, was to actually look at that card on the phone and dial the two number extension for room service. Without a menu, I limited it to hot chocolate for Lucy and a pot of coffee for myself. Both were a complete disappointment.

The hot chocolate, which cost us something like $8, was a measly cup that didn’t even come with whipped cream. For that kind of money, you’d think that they could at least do as well as the corner diner. My pot of coffee was even worse. Actually, I can’t really say that for sure since the pot itself was unopenable. I have no idea what the problem was, but I couldn’t for the life of me get the thing to turn. I suppose I could have sat there for the hour it would take to pour my coffee one drip at a time, but it just didn’t seem worth it. When K got back from his dinner at 11:30, he was finally able to crack the top open enough for me to get a cup’s worth. Although I didn’t want it at all by that time, I poured myself a cup. The total room service bill (with tab) had come to $16. I was going to at least have one of the cups.

(I’m not falling for that again tonight. When I went out for dinner, I got an extra bottle of Diet Pepsi just in case I get a hankering for something liquid later on.)

At least with tonight’s room, there’s a piece of paper that has the in-room menu. Someone wrote notes on it — you’d think that’s the kind of thing Housekeeping would pick up on — but it’s at least here. Housekeeping also seems to have missed that there aren’t enough towels. Since it’s only K and me here tonight, though, I think we can manage. Again, it just seems that with a Hilton, those kinds of things should be taken care of.

My other beefs? Still no info on the pool. Is it a top secret? Only for guests in the know? While I was looking for ice (another issue — went to both ends of the hall and only ended up with half an ice bucket full; one machine stopped working after the first spurt, the second machine didn’t work at all), I did happen to spy something very pool-like from the balcony by ice machine #2. Couldn’t tell you how to get to it, though.

With all of these, I think the biggest issue was that my expectations were high. A big family resort? A Hilton? Granted, the Marriott was more expensive than the other two. Still, as far as I’m concerned, these should be destination travel type places. Next time we go somewhere, I’m looking for the Marriott again. Why bother with the others?